Why I’m Listening to Jerry Seinfeld

With barely three weeks left until school is out for the summer, many of us will begin transitioning into a different kind of daily schedule, one where the day-time agenda shifts. I will still do my work, but the pace will slow and we’ll all settle into a new kind of rhythm together.

New Rhythms

I wish I could say I glide gracefully into the summer schedule, but the truth is I limp and fight my way through this transition every year. This year I’m accepting that it will take some time to settle in to the slower pace and the constant presence of small people. But I’m also going to learn on purpose in whatever ways I can. For example.

As a writer, a part of my self-imposed job description is to pay attention to the world around me and the world within me and then to see how they connect.

I am always listening for reminders about focus, about saying yes to the right things, about remembering what I do and, even more importantly sometimes, what I don’t do. Teachers are everywhere as long as we’re willing to learn from unexpected voices. Yesterday I found a teacher while listening to an interview Alec Baldwin did with Jerry Seinfeld.

Alec points out that, with the success of his TV show in the 90s, Jerry could basically do anything he wanted to do now, be as big as he wanted to be. Here’s a peek into the conversation. (From Here’s the Thing with Alec Baldwinoriginally aired October 14, 2013 on WNYC 93.9 FM)

Alec Baldwin: You could have your own channel. The Jerry channel.

Jerry Seinfeld: Yeah, but I didn’t take that bait.

AB: Why?

JS: Cuz I know what it is. I know what it is, that’s why.

AB: What is it?

JS: You can’t pull that over on me! Cuz I’ve sat in all the chairs, I’ve been in all the rooms. I know what it is. Look, Alec, you’ve been there, right?

AB: Yes!

JS: You can’t trick me into thinking…

AB: Thinking what?! Share with the people.

JS: …that that’s good.

AB: That’s not good why?

JS: Because most of it is not creative work. And not reaching an audience. You wanna be on the water? How do you wanna be on the water? You wanna be on a yacht or you wanna be on a surfboard? I wanna be on a surfboard. I don’t wanna deal with a yacht. That’s a yacht. Some people want a yacht to say See my yacht.

***

This morning, I read an article by Dr. Shelly Provost called How to Tell If You’re Following Your Calling or Just Feeding Your Ego. It’s good, you’ll want to read it, but the gist is here:

“Your ego fears not having or doing something. The lifeblood of the ego is fear. Its primary function is to preserve your identity, but it fears your unworthiness. As a result, ego pushes you harder in order to achieve more . . .

A calling expresses itself quietly, through the expression of subtle clues throughout your life. It is unconcerned with you attaining or accomplishing anything. Its primary function is to be a conduit for expressing your true self to the world. What you do with that expression is less important.”

And then, the most revealing statements from the article: “Ego needs anxiety to survive. Calling needs silence to survive . . . Listening to your life and discovering what it’s asking of you is your calling and it requires more silence than most of us are comfortable with.” (read the whole article here.)

In other words, your ego reacts to fear while calling responds to reflection. Both can be important, but the question is which is moving you forward? Which is motivating you in your work?

***

The connection of these two ideas is loose in my mind and given more time, I’m sure I could flesh it out fully. But blogs aren’t necessarily for fully-fleshed out ideas, at least that’s not what I do here. As I consider these two teachers, Jerry Seinfeld and Dr. Provost, here’s what comes to mind today.

Ego always has one foot on the shiny deck of an imaginary yacht, the promise of power and acheivement holding her strong above the water.

Calling takes off her shoes and stands barefoot on the wet top of a surfboard, where the risk of wipe out is great but so is the opportunity to ride the waves.

Here are some questions I ask to find out if I’m letting my ego get carried away:

  • Do I know I need margin but am afraid to take it?
  • Do I want to say no but am afraid of what I’ll miss?
  • Do I want to say yes but am afraid I can’t pull it off?

Ego speaks loud in the chaos — impatient, competitive, and scared. Calling rises up from the silence — focused, generous, and free.

Marking Storms and Making Choices

Fourteen years ago this week, I’m working at a local high school as a sign language interpreter. It’s morning and the bell rings to end the first class of the day.

I gather my bag just as the student I interpret for motions that she’ll meet me in the next class. Thankful for the few minutes, I make my way to the teacher’s lounge for a quick phone call. My sister is in labor and I want to call Mom who is with her to find out how it’s going.

The phone rings on the other line and Mom tells me there’s no baby yet, but soon. Just as I’m hanging up to rush to where I need to be, the principal’s voice comes over the intercom, announcing a tornado has been spotted in the area and everyone should stay put. I instinctively turn to look out the window behind me, surprised to see my own reflection staring back instead of the front lawn of the school. Outside is dark as night and it’s not even 10 am.

chatting at the sky

Later we’ll learn the storm that May morning wasn’t necessarily impressive according to the F-scale, wind gusts reaching just above 80 mph, but it still comes in as the worst the city has seen in 20 years. My drive home that afternoon is careful and filled with detours – around downed trees and power lines, the aftermath of the day the sky turned black.

My apartment wasn’t damaged and neither was my car. The school day eventually continued and my nephew, born later that day, is now almost fourteen. There isn’t any reason in particular I should still think of that storm often, but I do. Because of this.
chatting at the sky This tree in our neighborhood bears the mark of memory. I don’t know how the storm affected the person who carved the wood that day, but it was enough for them to take the time to mark it.

When I walk past this tree on the trail near our house, I think of that day still – how the principal had to make a choice for the sake of safety to keep the students inside, how the sky turned black and ominous, how we couldn’t change the weather, only try to stay out of its way.

That’s the way to handle yourself in a storm, take cover and wait for it to pass over.

But it’s possible to live like a storm is ever brewing just outside the door even when the sky is clear and bright. It’s possible to take cover even when there’s nothing to take cover from, except for a heavy idea or a recurring thought in the night.

It’s possible to live as though every move you make is an anxious attempt to avoid an unwanted consequence rather than a thoughtful decision to move toward life. And this life becomes one marked by hiding from the potential storm of loneliness, failure, isolation, invisibility, or insignificance. Take cover or the storm might overtake you.

Avoid danger. Sit under the banner of fear.

photo 3-2I’ve done that. When the kids were little I lived in fear a lot – of them getting sick and it never ending, of me getting sick and not being able to take care of them, of making the wrong decisions about where we should live, how we should school, if I should take a job or not.

When my first book came out and speaking opportunities started to roll in, I said yes more than I maybe wanted to because I was afraid of missing out on something. I also said no a few times because I was afraid I couldn’t pull it off. Fear works both ways, you see – keeps you from doing things you might want to do and convinces you that you have to do things you don’t want to do.

I still make wonky decisions based on fear when it comes to my work and my writing, my home and my life, but I’d like to think I’m doing that less.

Just two weeks ago I was wrestling through a should-I-or-shouldn’t-I scenario as to whether or not I should make a phone call. A phone call, you guys. It wasn’t something I had to do, just something I felt like I should do.

But when I took a few minutes to think about the reasons why I felt like I should make the phone call, none of the reasons were rational or good. Each one of them had to do with avoiding a consequence. If I call, then this person will be happy. If I don’t call, then this person might be mad. Love was never a motivation in this scenario. Only fear.

Storms everywhere, on every side.

I decided in that moment to do what I thought was best. I didn’t make the phone call and chose to believe whatever storm might come as a result, well. I’ll be okay. And guess what? I was.

This will probably always be something I need to walk through, making decisions out of love rather than from fear. I can’t prevent storms from coming, but I can decide not to invent my own. I like the idea of marking a storm like the tree-writer did. This happened, it was bad, and we lived through it. But I want to let go of the habit of making them.

What are your experiences with marking vs. making the storms in your life?

The Sacred Work of Sitting

The peonies bloomed last week, the sharpest white you can imagine with surprising color inside, like someone couldn’t resist trying out the  bright pink marker on that easy white canvas.

peonies

I was out of town when they came full out, teasing with their friendliness. They act all happy-like now, but they’ll only be around for a week or so. We’ll enjoy them while they last.

For the last few months, I’ve shared a little about the fog I’ve walked through. I wrote about it here (for when the fog rolls in), here (for the soul pulled in all directions) and also here (for the wannabe hopeful).

Fog is the only way I’ve come up with describing it, even though I accept these seasons are part of normal life. It’s part of growing up, too. I’m learning more about what it means to have faith without depending on certain kinds of feelings to go along with it. Sometimes faith feels like nothing.

This soul of mine has been churning the transition we’re in, turning slowly, shaking out distraction, seeing what’s leftover now that the dust has settled. Some of the identities and certainties I have held onto for years have fallen gently away.

While some seasons of change are more pronounced than others, aren’t we always moving from one thing to another, begining and ending and middling? Life is made of transition and the soul is always processing something. I do well when I remember to leave a little breathing room for the motion.

May brings along all kinds of transitions in her colorful basket – graduations, anniversaries, weddings, recitals, tournaments, performances, and ceremonies. But all anniversaries aren’t celebrations and May brings those along, too.

The simple act of sitting is becoming a kind of metaphor for me, a way to practice faith when things feel hectic, foggy, or when truth doesn’t feel true. Nothing fancy or hokey, but intentionally sitting down with the reality of the moment, refusing to talk myself out of it can bring quiet discovery of what I long for, what I fear, where my hope burns bright.

Before we move too quickly to hope, it’s important to grieve the losses, to handle them, face them, and let disappointment do its deep work.

We like to talk about celebrating the gifts, but facing the losses might be important, too. Not to wallow, but to keep company with them long enough to recognize what part they play in our story, to name them, and eventually release them in the presence of Christ.

Sit and consider what you no longer have to hold or what you’ll soon need to let go.

For example, you’re not technically a pastor’s wife anymore. How does that feel?

They don’t seem to understand. How might you be misunderstanding them, too?

He’s graduating. Where does that leave you?

She’s growing up. What are you afraid of?

He left and you don’t think he’s coming back. Is it time to let go?

The Sacred Work of Sitting at Chatting at the Sky.

Have a seat and consider the disappointments as well as the celebrations, the fears as well as the joy. Here are a few places I’ve been sitting lately.

photo 1-4 copy

I sat on this bench with a book and a journal, but I did more staring than reading. I watched the moms and babies stroll by, the workers with their good intentions toward the public bathrooms, the guy on his bike who rode without a helmet. I read a little about David, how he was both a man after God’s heart and a killer. I thought about how none of us are just one thing, but many shades of light and dark and shadows of gray, proof that we need Jesus.

Alone does good work.

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I sat in the front seat of a rented Ford Focus that I paid one million dollars to borrow for the day and panicked when I first got in because the seat was too low and I couldn’t figure out how to adjust it. How do they expect me to drive if I can’t see over the dashboard!? But then relief when I found the right button and the seat raised up and all was well.

Sometimes you sit in unfamiliar places and it takes some adjusting to get your bearings. You drive alone on unknown highways and cry as you listen to Roz Chast talk about her aging parents on the radio.

Sitting in the driver’s seat of a strange rental car, listening to other people’s stories does good work.

photo 1-4I sat here in these airport seats, waiting to board the winged, sideways skyscraper, remembering that I can’t hold it up with mind games or willpower. So instead I ate an apple and read an article about Sandra Oh leaving Grey’s Anatomy while waiting to board the bus in the air and shoot out into the wild blue sky.

Sitting on the edge of my comfort zone does good work. Especially when the seat is at 30,000 feet.
Processed with VSCOcam with x1 preset I sat for several meals across from Shannan Martin, one of my favorite writers, a gift from the internet. We traipsed and meandered through town and conversation, sitting on cement benches and vinyl restaraunt chairs, spralled on the end of white duvet covered beds.

Sitting with a friend to hear and to be heard does good work.Processed with VSCOcam with t1 presetI sat in this ergonomic chair you can’t see (trust me, it was super ergonomically correct), stared out the window and had to accept that even though I came here to get work done, I didn’t want to be a relentless dictator over my soul if my productivity didn’t meet my expectations. Even while I’m doing the work of counting words and crafting sentences, Jesus just wants to be with me and this is the kind of work that means something even though I can’t measure it.

Sitting with my weakness, my obsessions, and my profound ability to twist art into achievement – this does good work, too.

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I squeezed myself onto this swing in my neighborhood during a morning walk, thought of the ways our life used to look compared to how it looks now. While some of the changes are encouraging, others are not so easy to categorize. I recognize my desire to evaluate everything even as I appreciate the mystery of being unable to. I thought of the future and the past and where my hope comes from.

The rhythm of sitting on swings does good work, a reminder that we are tethered even as we sway.

homeworkI sat with her at the kitchen table, quiet while she spells her words, frustrated over my frustration, ready for the year to end. I answered the questions I could, aware of how soon the day will come when their homework is beyond my ability to advise. She’s moving on and I can’t always go with her. But while she’s here, I’ll sit beside her.

Sitting with family does good work.The Sacred Work of Sitting

When we sit we may find answers but most likely we’ll finally hear the questions. We may uncover things we’d rather avoid, things like fear, anger, weakness, or entitlement. But we might also find courage, peace, and hope there, too. When we sit, we let what is be, we remember to release outcomes or perhaps finally admit how tightly we are clinging to them. When we sit, we let ourselves be human.

Where will you sit today?

Maybe You’ve Done This Too

Let’s say you’re a teacher of some kind. Maybe a writer, a preacher, a manager, or some kind of leader. Somewhere in your life, you have a place where you express yourself, your ideas, and your perspective on a regular basis.

chatting at the sky

One morning, before you start your work, you peek at your email just to see what’s facing you later in the day, maybe you accidentally open Facebook and see that article from Huffington Post. You click just real quick and end up reading all three pages, even clicking on the links the author recommended.

The article is good and makes you think, as were the links the article led you to and the references those links mentioned.

By now it’s thirty minutes into your work day and you realize you’re exhausted a little bit. Usually you are able to keep your head about these things, but with the lack of sleep last night and the discouraging week you just had, you don’t have much in the way of defense. And you realize this article you read “real quick” represents the fact that everyone else has already said All The Things.

In fact, the entire world-wide web is filled with smart people saying things. Even this piece you’re working on now, the one about the people who have said all the things? Yeah, they’ve said that, too.

People had it so much easier before the internet! I think to myself (Notice I’m using I now. I’ll own this one).

And I sweep the gray cloud of blame for all of my creative woes onto the robotic back of the internet. I decide to take a walk because that seems like the opposite of computers.

The same as yesterday but somehow always new. (From Chatting at the Sky)

The road to the path is quiet this morning, the lamb’s ear in the neighbor’s yard is starting to spill right over the curb. I remember it from last year, growing out of the lawn that way. I always want to touch it but resist. I don’t know why.

I reach the path, the trees surrounding it in their full-leaf glory by this time of year. A green canopy lets only dappled light fall on the dirt at my feet, dirt that only months ago was covered dead leaves. Not today.

Green, the color of summertime. Blue, the sky on a clear morning of a late spring day. These are what we’ve come to expect. If it’s gray, we dress accordingly. Black, we take cover. Orange, well I don’t know. I’ve never seen an orange sky in the middle of the day.

The earth moves through time in a pattern we predict, of light or dark, rainy or dry, warm or cold or mild. We can’t say exactly what will turn up today, but we have an idea depending on where we are in time – the hour, the day, the month, the year.

Still, we marvel when we notice her beauty, wonder at her vastness, grieve over her brokenness, hush when she reveals the mystery of God.

As I walk beneath the green-tinted shadows of the trees with their massive branches and twisted trunks,  I take note of how unapologetic they are in their tree-ness. Trees have always been this way – a maple, a pine, an oak. They are not the same as one another, but they are the same as themselves. They repeat in their patterns, have their own kinds of bark, always, ever growing up and away from the ground because that’s what trees do.

I look around, curious over how all of this is the same as yesterday but somehow also always new.

With each step, I realize I’m doing that thing I do when I am afraid. I’m telling myself it’s all been said and done and read and seen before and so somehow I think this gives me a pass to give up because I can’t help it, you know. It’s the internet’s fault.

 chatting at the sky

Maybe instead of coming up with something new, I’m here to honor the truth of old, to hold the timeless realities close and live like they’re true for me. While we will always change, make progress and move forward, that will come more naturally as we hold on to what we know for sure. Maybe my desire to dazzle in my work is actually hindering my ability to do move forward in my life.

When you hold on to the wrong things, the wrong things hold on to you.

For as long as we’re here, we won’t stop repeating ourselves. We’ll watch a re-make of that movie we’ve already seen, read the book, and watch it again. We’ll listen to music by the artist and then we’ll pay green money to go hear them play that same music again, in person this time.

We’ll say I love you in the morning, and then again at night.

We’ll eat everyday, several times a day, then sleep tonight, tomorrow, and the day after that. Every other moment we’ll take a breath and never once roll our eyes to complain because we just did that three seconds ago.

Repetition is woven into the earth and every living thing. These repeating rhythms keep us alive in our bodies, our minds, and our spirits, too. I don’t have to be afraid to join the chorus of truth ringing out from the mouths of others. I can say what they’re saying, but I can do it as me. So can you.

Today, if you’re feeling the weight of creativity, refuse to manhandle your art like it’s some kind of ticket to someplace bigger, like if you could just get it right you might finally get what you want.

Instead, hold it lightly in your hand. Agree it’s probably been said. Be willing to say it again.

But first, take some time to stop saying things for a while in order to remember the value of the things in the first place. Maybe when we do that, we’ll repeat the words of Saint Benedict: Always we begin again. And we will.

For more reading on this topic, check out:

What My Sister Taught Me

I’m firmly convinced our genius is at least partially coded into our childhood play. Want to get an idea of how those first graders will change their world? No need to read their spelling words. Just show up at recess.

But I don’t know about all that yet, because it’s 1985 and we’ve got the day ahead of us, no plans but the Barbie world. We huddle over the pile of pink goodness ready to piece out what belongs to whom today. I’m eight and it’s my big sister’s turn to pick first.

myquillyn and emily

I study her choices carefully – the pink cabinet, the blue and pink pillows, the cushy sofa. These three must be the top items in the pile since she chose them first. I end up with a lopsided table I don’t know what to do with. Barf me out.

Days later, it’s my turn to pick first. I know just what to do! Pink cabinet, blue and pink pillows, cushy sofa. Yes!

I look up at her after my clean sweep, unable to hide my victory smile since I obviously just chose all the best stuff. Instead of reacting, she ignores me, and picks the table with the uneven top. Wait, is she trying to psych me out?

What is this? No anger? No you just got all the good stuff lecture? Not only that, she just chose the worst thing in the pile.  The worst thing!

How am I supposed to know how to make my Barbie house beautiful if my teacher keeps picking different furniture?! How am I supposed to know the best stuff if she keeps changing her mind on what the best stuff is? I am having a total cow.

Look at her over there in her corner, busy setting up her awesome space. I lean to one side to watch her work and notice she has that crooked table looking just fine, using it as some kind of loft-like bed for Skipper. I look back at my first-pick choices and they don’t look so great now.

I vow to choose the lopsided table next time. But next time always comes and no matter how I try to catalogue and then copy her choices, it makes no difference. It didn’t matter what she has to work with. She will make it look great, no matter how imperfect the pile.

And while it may on the surface seem like an older sister’s evil plan to make her little sister crazy, I think it simply comes down to this: her gift is that she sees differently.

The Nester's House

That feeling of discontentment, of missing out, of not having something vital I needed to make beauty showed up during those long days of play. I blamed it on the lopsided table and my lack of first pick, but these weren’t my problem.

My problem was I didn’t yet know how to trust my own ideas, couldn’t see beyond the obvious, and wasn’t willing to take a little risk.

My sister had eyes to see the usefulness in the mess and the beauty in the lopsided. Part of her art, even back then, was her eyes could see potential.

As I’ve grown up, I’ve learned I can have those eyes, too.

Myquillyn didn’t immediately apply this to her real life. But it was always in her, this ability to somehow see beyond the obvious and envision something no one else could.

The Nesting Place

What my eight-year-old self would’ve have done to get my hands on some kind of guidelines for how to have a Barbie house I loved. If only she could have written down her secrets!

Well now she has. And the best part is, her secrets aren’t as secret as you think.

She finally wrote a book is for all the little sisters of the world who doubt they have what it takes to make home (or life) beautiful, waiting for permission and courage to create, take risks, and be ourselves.

Over the years I’ve learned these things from her, valuable lessons practiced in my own home that spill over into everyday life.

The Nesting Place Contentment

She didn’t teach me the best color to paint my walls. She taught me it’s okay to paint my walls the wrong color.

She didn’t teach me where to put my furniture. She taught me it’s okay to move my furniture around.

She didn’t teach me the right way to hang a curtain. She taught me there isn’t only one right way to hang a curtain.

She didn’t lecture me on the latest trends. She taught me how to discover what my own trends are, that’s it’s okay if they’re different from others, and it’s okay when they change.

She didn’t point out what’s wrong with my house. She taught me how every house has a silver lining and home is wherever we are.

homeShe taught me that my house isn’t just about a house. It’s about trusting yourself, making mistakes, trying new things, inviting others in. It’s about community and communion, healing and wholeness, memories and tradition, love and loveliness and hope.

The Nester's House

I truly believe what I said before, that hints of our personal genius hide in our childhood play, what I also like to call our art. I’m so glad my sister had the courage to hold on to hers, to listen to what makes her come alive, to ignore the naysayers who said she was doing it all wrong.

You have a genius art too, and it doesn’t have to be the e equals mc squared kind. It might be the relational kind, the insightful kind, or the kind that moves in the midst of fear. Whatever it is for you, it’s evidence that you are made in the image of God and the first step to uncovering that could simply be finding freedom in your own home.

The Nesting Place

This lovely book – The Nesting Place: It Doesn’t Have to Be Perfect to Be Beautiful – is finally available everywhere today! Get yourself a copy, your mom a copy, and don’t forget your little sister.

Love you, Sister Girl. So happy you said yes to writing this book. I don’t know how people get on in the world without a big sister to teach them things. I’m so thankful for all you’ve taught me.

nesting place

Sharing the Right-Now Stories

Yesterday I told you about that time I was terrified of sickness. It was a fear-filled time in my life that I am now able to look back on in an almost puzzled kind of way, wondering how I could have gotten so worked up for so long.

sharing the right-now stories emily p freeman

It’s easy to say that seven years later. What isn’t so easy to consider are the places I’m walking through right now, the ones that maybe aren’t so easy to talk about because I’m still in the middle of them. It’s important to tell the stories we’ve lived and come through. It’s also important to tell the one’s we’re living right now. But these aren’t as easy to find words for.

Today over at (in)courage I’m attempting to find the words where I am at present - hanging on to hope when the fog rolls in. You may read it and think well you still didn’t tell us much about where you are right now and to that, I will agree and simply say that is one reason why it’s hard to share the present, especially when the present involves fog. Because it’s not only hard to see where you’re going, it’s also hard to see where you are.

But writing helps. Hope*ologie helps. Routines and breath prayers and stillness helps. Spring break will help (starts tomorrow!) And hearing from others who are in similar places helps, too. Hope you’ll join me over at (in)courage.

That Time I Was a Hypochondriac a Little Bit

hope at chatting at the skySeveral years ago when our kids were still in preschool, I went through what you might call a terrified-of-my-family-getting-sick stage. If someone mentioned during a playdate that their kid threw up the night before, I would gather my children that very moment and straight up leave their house.

If one of my kids complained of a tummy ache, I wouldn’t be able to sleep that night. It got so bad that even if I read on Facebook that someone was sick, it would trigger the fear and obsessive hand-washing. I didn’t want to leave the house or let people come over because of the germ potential. I thought about sickness all day, every day and would look longingly at my friends who didn’t seem to be as worried as I was.

What would that kind of freedom be like?

I’m not sure I have good answers for anyone who is in that exact place right now. I can say that one of the reasons it was such a scary place to be was because it felt like things would never, ever change.

The trouble with fear is it tells you things will always be the way they are now.

I didn’t realize how bad it was that year until later when it wasn’t that way anymore. I bet you have seasons of life you look back on and wonder what your deal was. Why all the fear and obsession?!

Looking back helps me, though, because it reminds me that even though change may not come quickly or the way I want, change does eventually come.

What change are you hoping for these days?

For the Soul Who Feels Pulled in All Directions

During the last several months, Annie’s now-famous statement we will make art has been working its way deeper into me as I’ve been trying new things and struggling through the learning of them.

emily freeman chatting at the sky

For the past few months, I have spent a lot of time thinking, writing, staring, planning, and waiting. I haven’t heard much in the silence and it’s frustrated me, if you want to know the truth. As I listen the fog only gets thicker rather than more clear.

I don’t like walking in the dark but sometimes it’s the only way out.

I’ve been writing and thinking about hope even while I struggle a little in the dark. It just proves the point, though, that hope isn’t bright lights and rainbows, although sometimes it can be. Rather, hope is the promise of the presence of Christ even when we can’t feel him, the assurance that all will be made right even in the midst of the chaos.

I think about my brave self, my scared self, my creative and my practical self. I know I’m really just one person even when I feel fragmented and compartmentalized.

Do you ever feel that way?

Maybe this is hard because we are aware a wholeheartedness deep within. We’ve seen her come out of hiding over our lifetimes, watched her speak even when she was terrified, partnered with her as she spoke more calmly than she felt, loved more fiercly than she thought possible, dared more fully than she ever had before.

But it’s possible we don’t remember those times as clearly as we wish. Instead, the moments we remember most are the ones where we hid in silence when we wanted to speak or spoke too soon when we wished we had listened.

We remember the times we cowered, limped, froze, feared, and lashed out. I guess we remember what we rehearse.

The answer isn’t to rehearse the times we were awesome instead. Rather for me, the answer is to practice the life of Christ, his work on earth, his work in heaven, his work in me.

We will make art and the Artist will make us and we will make art again.

He doesn’t send me out either brave or scared, ready or unprepared, full or empty. He sends me out as me and he goes with me as him. Whether I am brave or scared or ready or not or full or exhuasted isn’t really the point. I am, will be, all of those things. He does not manage or dictate or shame my emotional self.

He simply offers his presence to me no matter what.

Now.

And now again.

hopeologie

This One’s for the Wanna-be Hopeful

This morning started out bright, sun coming up behind our house in confident pink and orange glory. And I, mood highly swayed by the weather, picked out a skirt from my closet to wear and hopped in the shower once the kids were off to school, ready to face the day with energy and focus.

I got dressed in my skirt with a pair of green flats, even played with patterns a bit.

skirt weather

But by the time I fixed my hair, the cul-de-sac was draped over with a gray cloudy blanket and I felt my soul sink a little with it. While I thought the day was going to be all skirt and flats, it turned into sweater and boots.

That lying sunrise.

It’s times like this I find it best not to fight. Just change clothes.

photo

The world and the internet has felt a little like that for me lately – I have a hint of hope, but then cloud cover.

Motivation to do productive work somehow morphs into discouragement.

The desire to practice silence and solitude ends in mind-numbing distraction.

What seemed like a great conversation in the morning leads to second-guessing in the afternoon.

 Anyone with me?

I know this colorful mix of joy and grief is all a part of being human. But that doesn’t keep me from wishing the shadows away sometimes.

I'm thankful for hope, the kind that doesn't expect always sunshine, but the kind that holds on no matter how things appear, the kind that reminds me how I feel about things isn't the ultimate truth. - emily p. freeman

I’m thankful for hope, the kind that doesn’t expect always sunshine, but the kind that holds on no matter how things appear, the kind that reminds me how I feel about things isn’t the ultimate truth, the kind Ellie Holcomb sings about in one of my favorite songs:

In the shadow
In the sadness
Holy Spirit come.
Won’t you rise up like a promise
On the wings of dawn?
Cause even when the darkness covers me
I settle on the far side of the sea
No matter what I do I can’t outrun your love.

-Ellie Holcomb, Can’t Outrun Your Love

I listen to this song as a way of practicing what I know is true, as a way of remembering the love of God, as a way of hoping in the middle of shadows, as a prayer.

And I grab my sunglasses as I head out the door. Just incase.

A few weeks ago in a newsletter, I hinted that I’ve been working on something I’ve never done before. It’s for anyone who wants to embrace hope no matter how things appear. It’s for the already, the almost, and the not-yet-hopers. It may be for you. And next week, I’m finally going to tell you what it is.

Be sure not to miss next week’s announcement by joining over 10,000 readers who receive Chatting at the Sky delivered into their inbox. Sign up with your email address right here!

What about you? Where do you most need hope these days?