Dream a Little Bigger, Darling

 

I had a dream the other night that I was dancing with someone.  I don’t know who the mystery man was, but I could tell he was an expert dancer.  I took a few ballroom dance lessons back in the day, before kids made it hard to do those sorts of things.  I could probably remember the basics, but I am definitely no expert.  In my dream, I remember thinking that I wanted to impress my dance partner with my dance skills, but I quickly realized that he outranked me by a long shot.  So I closed my eyes.  I closed my eyes and just let him lead me.  I gave up control of the situation, took a firm grip and just held on for the ride.  It was a very vivid dream, and I remember feeling a little scared and a little vulnerable to be just blinding following along as my partner expertly led me through a series of complicated steps.  But I also felt a huge sense of confidence in this unknown partner.  I somehow knew that he would not lead me astray.  He would not run me into a wall or another couple.  He dipped me and I knew that he wouldn’t drop me.  It was an amazing feeling to utterly surrender and totally trust; to totally give up control and still know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I would be o.k.  And the thing is, even though I didn’t know the steps, I stayed right with him.  I didn’t fumble or step on his toes.  Once I relinquished control, it was as if I were an expert dancer too.  That dream has really stuck with me.  I don’t like the unknown.  I don’t like not knowing what’s going to happen next week or a year from now.  But I have this amazing dance partner in God.  He is an expert dancer and He’s directing every step.  All I have to do is close my eyes, take a firm grip on His hand and trust.  I will be open to the possibilities that He will put before me, and I will push past the fear that wants to keep me rooted to the spot.  I still feel scared and vulnerable at the prospect of continuously giving up control, but I also feel this confidence and trust that God will not lead me astray.  I have the freedom to dream a little bigger and embrace the future knowing that God Has me.  Today, next week, a year from now.  He has me.

Dancing in the light of the setting sun.

Am I Still Daring Greatly?

I started this blog with the intention of living my life out in the arena.  I wanted to live my life daring greatly, no matter what the outer critics or my internal critic said.  It’s been a long time since I have written anything.  Almost a year!  In my heart I like to think that I am continuing to dare greatly in my life, but the truth is that I have been letting fear run the show lately.  I’ve been cowering in the wings, watching with admiration as others put themselves out there.  Fear has infiltrated many areas of my life.  As I look at the broad world, I have lost sleep over the racial tension that is going on in our nation.  Black against white; police against civilian.  People being gunned down in the streets and clubs.  I am raising two mixed race little boys in this world, and I am scared for them. I don’t want them to live in fear, but I want them to be aware that we live in a world wear evil prevails and they need to be aware.  How do I maintain that balance?  It’s a heavy load to bear as their mother.

In my own immediate little world, I find myself stuck with this fear of writing. When did I turn into such a scaredy cat?  It’s like all of a sudden the thought of putting myself out there is this monumental thing that I can’t get passed.  Even the thought of finishing this post and pushing the Publish key is making me squirm.  I find that I will find anything and everything to do instead of writing.  Work? Sure I’ll work more hours!  Gilmore Girls…gotta finish the series before the new episodes come out!  I really have to keep up on the mindless games that I play on my phone too.  These are all my forms of numbing out so I don’t have to write and face the things that are going on in my head and heart.  Even though these things seem harmless, the consequence of numbing out is that the things that are going on in my head and heart stay in there.  It turns into a poison if it doesn’t get out.  For me, the poison has taken the form of depression, which is not something I gave dealt a lot with in my life.  I don’t like the feel of it.  It robs me of my joy.

My boys and I recently visited my brother out East.  It was a great trip.  The boys loved seeing his chickens and seeing all of his Amish neighbors.  I loved smelling the fresh country air.  While we were there, he told us the story of a professor he had who encouraged his class to ask questions.  If someone says, “That was the best pie I’ve ever had”, the response should be, “Compared to what?”  The boys got a huge kick out of this, and ever since, they are constantly asking me “compared to what?”  We laugh about it, but I find myself asking this question for real.  I face the fear of being lonely.  I think that there has to be more to life than this season that I am in.  I have found myself lamenting that I don’t have a stronger connection with my husband.  Those old questions start popping up.  Maybe I married the wrong guy.  Maybe we would be better off as friends than married.  Maybe I just have unrealistic expectations?  Compared to what?  Compared to all the posts on Facebook of course.  People are all so happy.  They all married their best friends.  They all look forward to the next 20 years with joy and happiness.  Am I the only only one who feels a twinge of sadness when I think that the next 15 years might be the same as the last 15?  And fear plays a huge role as I fight the need to speak my truth with this; the need to dare greatly in my own life.

So, I guess this blog post it me putting my foot back in the arena.  Fear be damned.  I will embrace it and lean into it.  It’s always going to be there, but it doesn’t have to have the upper hand.

Happy New Year!

It’s a new year!  Time to say goodbye to 2015 and hello to 2016.  Out with the old, in with the new.  I’ve never been big on New Years Resolutions.  They seem to set people up for failure and disappointment.  As Brené Brown so eloquently puts it:

January 1This resolution is going to be awesome!

January 5I’m awesome.

January 10This sucks.

January 20I suck.

I know I have fallen into this trap many times, and not just as it relates to New Years Resolutions.  I find myself working throughout the year to be a better person.  I strive to be a better mother.  I say to myself, “I’m not gonna yell at my kids today.  I am the adult and they are my precious children. I have this awesome job of raising them to be responsible, respectful adults.  What a great thing it is to be a mother. I am awesome!”  Then I get out of bed.  In the hour it takes me to get them up and out the door to school, I hear myself slowly losing my cool.  By the fourth time of me asking them to brush their teeth, my patience is slipping away.  My voice gets increasingly louder, and before I know it I’m having an out of body experience as I hear myself yelling, “HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO TELL YOU TO BRUSH YOUR TEETH?!?  GET YOUR BUTT MOVING!”  This sucks!  I suck.

I find myself striving to be a better wife.  What an awesome thing to be someones help mate.  I have these moments when it comes easy, and I say to myself, “Look at this  opportunity to clean up the dishes that this man of mine has left in the sink.  I can show him how much I love him by cleaning up after him.  I am awesome!”  Until I’m not so patient and loving anymore.  I have this tendency of making it quite obvious by the way I slam the pots and pans as I put them away that I want him to KNOW that I’m cleaning up his mess and that I’m doing him a huge favor.  There may or may not be muttering under my breath going on as well.  I’m not the maid after all.  It sucks!  I suck.

When I set resolutions for myself,  I tend to get stuck in the trap of basing my self worth on how well I perform said resolutions.  If I fail, then by default, I must be a failure.  When I yell at my kids, it means I have not succeeded in my quest to be a better mother.  I may say to myself, “Tomorrow I will do better!”  But I’m not perfect, and chances are, if I succeed in not yelling at my kids, I will fail in another area.  This can easily lead to me throwing my hands up in defeat and saying, “Why even bother?”  I have decided that my solution to breaking this cycle is simply Grace.  I will start by giving myself Grace in those moments when I am not being the person that I would like to be.  Circumstances may suck, but I don’t suck.   I may fail at the task at hand, but that does not make me a failure.  I am human and I am imperfect.  I will refrain from beating myself up.  I will be gentle and compassionate with myself.  I will still set goals and strive to be the best that I can be with the realization that I will fail.  I will fall.  But I will pick myself up and continue to Dare Greatly every day.  I won’t throw in the towel in self defeat, because how good I am at fulfilling my resolutions does not define my self worth.   I will accept God’s Grace and the Grace of others as well because I am worthy of Grace even if I don’t always deserve it.  I will turn my Grace outward as well to those around me.  I will give my children Grace, especially on the days when I have to tell them to brush their teeth 5 times.  They are little humans, and they are not perfect.  They are learning and growing and I want them to know Grace on an intimate level.  I want to teach them by example that they can mess up and it’s alright.  Their mistakes don’t have to define them.  They will fail, but the failures aren’t as important as what they do after.  I want them to learn to look at their failures as a chance to grow.  Their circumstances in life may suck sometimes, but they don’t.  I will show this man of mine Grace as well.  He is the person I have chosen to spend my life with.   Sometimes he leaves dishes in the sink.  Sometimes I feel like I’m not as high on his list of priorities as I think I should be.  But he is human and he is not perfect.  He has helped me to grow as a person and I want him to see Grace in my eyes, especially on the days when I would rather throw the dishes away instead of clean them.

I know that there will be times when I will fail even at this. I will fall back on feeling like a failure, or resort to being too tough on myself and those around me. But as I continue to offer and recieve Grace even in those moments, it will become more than a resolution or an attempt at self-improvement. It will become a new way of living. 

Grace be with you as we venture into this new year!

2016