“If I were going to begin practicing the presence of God for the first time today, it would help to begin by admitting the three most terrible truths of our existence: that we are so ruined, and so loved, and in charge of so little.”
– Anne Lamott, Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers
It’s been a while since I wrote, but here I am, trying to practice God’s presence by admitting the truth: I’m okay, even when I’m not. And though parts of days lately have felt like sludge through gray porridge where I can’t gain a grip, still, all is well.
I suppose I tell you this, even though you walk around in a flesh and bone package and surely know of this heart beating ache of life, because if this is where you find yourself today — sludgy, a little grip-less, weary, okay and/or not okay — I want you to know you are not alone.
Two years ago, I was so afraid to start blogging because people might critique or judge me for putting my messy self out there, and so I might be tempted to tidy things up for consumption. And then you’d get the idea that my life is filled with happy children lined up in a straight row and a sparkling kitchen and a mouth that only speaks love and a marriage where we continually shine happy sunbeams on each other, and wouldn’t that be awful to be in my lies all by my lonesome.
Those of you who know me in real life or who’ve read here for any length of time know that picture’s not the truth — nor is it for anyone whose life we catch in snapshot — and so I’m committed to writing the truth about myself and living fully awake. Because this life is not only beauty, joy and gratitude, but also aimlessness, tedium and a Pandora mix station where every song makes me want to weep my eyes out.
So I suppose what I’m doing right now is called writing through the pain, as my dear friend encouraged me to do. I’m feeling much better this morning than I have been — perhaps something started to lift yesterday as I began to write this post — but I wanted you to know that it’s not just a full life that has kept me away, but tinges of depression and anxiety that make it hard to see or write through fog, along with the worries of what you’d think of me.
I’m amazed to see that as the days wear on, and I accept myself where I am and not judge these hard places, I am not only able to recognize myself as one in need and one fully loved, but am also able to receive the beauty that grows right through.
For in the same place where sorrow clings, marigolds dance their garish gold and children laugh on repeat.
I seem to be learning once again that the experiences of life need not be categorized and boxed according to type — sad day here, delightful one there — because isn’t it true that we are both completely undone and held? Fully ruined and wholly loved?
Here I am this morning and there you are. And I’m thinking of you as I remember again what we can choose and what just is. Today, I can choose again to notice the details of life half working like the dishwasher, piled high like undone laundry, and say all is well.
I can spy the smile like her papa’s and the whirl of cream through the cooling cup, and say thank you. I can answer, “I’m good” and mean it, then cry into Michael’s shoulder and say “I’m so weary” and “This is hard.”
Perhaps Lamott’s right, and accepting the truth, actually allowing the painful paradox to be is more invitation than resignation. And it’s a desiring of the One who is with me and you, the One who loves and is not going anywhere.