April 8, 2014

There's Grace in the Grittiness

Along with several people asking why I haven't blogged in (almost a year) months and with this post having been started during Spring Break (hallelujah), I figured now was as good a time as any to put my fingers to my MacBook keys and type out a hodgepodge of a post. Bear with me. I'm a bit rusty!

I started blogging a few years ago simply because I thought it would be fun. I had funny stories to share here and there, and there were pictures I liked enough to post for my memory's sake. I never gave much thought to it being a popular blog or a source of income (to be honest, at that point, I had no idea people could even make that much money from blogging!). I just liked to read other people's blogs - their design ideas, what new purchases they'd found that they couldn't live without, and stories about little families I knew.  Fast forward a few years later and my favorite blogs are still the ones that are written by women I know and love. A wise woman who has deep thoughts to share that convict. A friend who lives in another city who still just writes about her day-to-day life.  A blogging acquaintance (whom I've never met, but feels like a faraway friend) who shares her twenty-something highs and lows. I love real stories from real people about their real lives. So, I figured, if I were to ever attempt to breathe life back into this little blog, I need to write about just that - life.

Real, and not always pretty, life.

Sure, I am entranced with beautiful pictures of flawless outfits, perfect hair, or a fancily furnished house, just like the next Pinterest loving lady out there. But I am learning...slowly...ungracefully at times...that life was not meant to be this image of neatness and perfection and to-do lists complete with checked off boxes. And sometimes, unfortunately and not always purposefully, blogs can err on the side of perfection and hide the simple struggles that daily life has to offer. I'll admit I've been guilty of that myself.  Not admitting that I'm struggling, and instead focusing on all of the things that went right instead of wrong. Not mentioning the long road of self-doubt and discouragement that led to a destination. Not putting my dreams and plans out there so I don't have to face the disappointment of those unmet longings and give disappointed answers to well-meant questions.

At 25, life looks somewhat like I imagined, but it feels like a lot less. One of the biggest lies I believed growing up is that "when I'm finally a grown-up, I'll have it all figured out." First of all, when do you actually "grow up" and what does "having it all figured out" really mean? Does it mean being married? Having kids? Owning a car? Owning a house? Owning your own business? Having a steady job and paycheck? Putting money into your 401k? I have some of these grown-up things, but not all, which leads me to wonder if checking off everything on the list equals a real, true, honest-to-goodness adult, or if the secret to being an adult is learning that I don't have to check everything off of my list - that, in fact, it's better to let go of my list and let go of the control to which I so desperately cling.

I'm prone to wanting to lead a beautiful life. I'm a visual, creative person, so naturally I like my surroundings and clothing and the general everyday to be attractive. But I have felt more than ever during this season that the Lord is gently nudging my heart to remind me that everything is beautiful in His time, just the way He purposed it to be. I still enjoy and will always enjoy pretty things, but while those things are to be admired, they are not to be worshiped. By God's mercy, He is showing me that what I once deemed important or beautiful actually matters very little compared to the important and beautiful grace He has so graciously offered to me.

Life-long plans can be written out on the cutest and most organized to-do list, complete with goals and time frames in which to complete said goals, only to have every line scratched out in ink, permanently removing any chance of completion.

Life-long dreams can be displayed on a chalkboard wall in the most beautifully chalk-written script, only to be wiped clean in a fraction of the time it took to decorate.

Life is celebrating engagements and marriages and new babies, and taping yet another wedding invitation on the fridge with the double-stick tape I keep in a near drawer for such frequent occasions, all the while wondering if someday, someday, that will be a part of my story, too.

Life is sometimes sandwich thins and packaged sliced turkey, instead of that meal I pinned the other day and swore would make sometime this week that was completely paleo and completely healthy (we won't mention the large - delicious - McDonald's Coca Cola that was consumed on the way home, either).

Life is sometimes alarms set for 5:30 in the morning and rushing out the door in the dark to make it on time to a high school in a suburb thirty minutes away, only to realize that the morning rush also resulted in spilling coffee on cream corduroy pants and a leather tote bag.

Life is sometimes wondering why I picked a profession that seems so thankless and so difficult and so hard, especially when I don't have the answers that someone's looking for, or when I make a mistake because I have 500 students on my caseload and lost track of one.

Life is sometimes not getting home until 11:00 at night after I've decorated one too many cookies because I didn't limit how many orders I took on for that week, only to set my alarm once again for a time that doesn't see the sun.

Life is reminding myself that everyone has a story that involves pain, and that while some stories look easy on the outside, very rarely are they truly as simple and uncomplicated as they seem.

This life of mine? Sometimes it's messy. (And truly, I do not like messy. By nature, I am not a messy person. I told someone a little while ago that my parents like to remind me that even as a toddler, I never had any use for a napkin during meals because I literally never made a mess.)  This life is not always how I pictured it would be, but that doesn't make it any less significant.  My plans, instead of being clenched in my hard, controlling grasp, are so much safer in His loving hands. And I have found that even when my plans go exactly how I hoped they would, there are still feelings of emptiness and questions of "This is it? This is what I wanted for so long?" - I'm learning that it is because real joy cannot and will not ever be found in plans, nor will it be found in control. Control is an illusion, a dream. And this is what brings me to my knees and back to a gracious God who is capable of bringing more fulfillment to my life than my greatest dream ever could.

With all of that being said...here's to honesty. Here's to vulnerability. Here's to the grace of God.

And here's to blogging, once again.  


thehumminghairstylist said...

"Control is an illusion, a dream. And this is what brings me to my knees and back to a gracious God who is capable of bringing more fulfillment to my life than my greatest dream ever could." I loved this line and I loved everything you wrote. SUCH a great reminder of what LIFE truly is- the good, the bad, the ugly, and the pretty :) Love YOU and your heart... thankful to have you as a sister!!

Shannon said...

Oh my goodness. You know, I just feel like you and I are on the same page about so many of these heavy thoughts. You just said it all! All the things that this season of life brings- the frustrations, the expectations, the in-between feelings, that come right along with all the highs and the excitement. So glad you broke your blogging silence. And thank you for your sweet words- I think we just need to be real life friends!!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful work sweet girl, both your life and your words. "For I know the plans I have for you," declare the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give your hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11
Hang in there gorgeous, it gets better :) Candice

Sarah Elizabeth said...

This was exactly what I needed to read right now. To be honest, I've had a similar post drafted for a while, but haven't had the courage to publish it, not yet at least. Life is not perfect, it's not the fairy tale we envisioned as little girls and sometimes it's hard to accept that. I find myself comparing my life to other "20 somethings" and thinking, when is that going to happen for me? Thanks for sharing what's on your heart, this post was beautifully written. xo

Erin Masi said...

So glad to see you're blogging again. Looking forward to reading more! :)

Grace O'Neal said...

Thank you, this was a beautiful post that definitely spoke to my heart!

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