I turned a corner this summer. To be honest, I didn’t think it was possible. The year preceding it felt sad and lonely and confined. It seemed to stretch on forever without end. I actually don’t think I realized how hard this year was until now, as I look back upon it. It’s funny how time can widen and deepen our view. Over summer my friend sent me a quote from Frederick Buechner:
The only thing worse than being fed up with the world is being fed up with yourself. I envied the pigs their slops because at least they knew what they were hungry for whereas I was starving to death and had no idea why.
As I read through this quote again this morning, I recognize so much of my own feelings from the past year. I was tired of being miserable, but had no idea how to get out of it. And I was sick of myself being this way.
I met with this same friend yesterday. She’d been away for the summer and as we shared and caught up, we realized how this summer was a season of shifting for each of us. Our circumstances have basically remained the same, but our outlook is so very different. Where the future seemed bleak and limited, hope has crept in, refracting our outlooks into multiple possibilities. I’m not quite sure how I ended up here. I’m thrilled to feel this way, but cannot identify what has allowed this change.
I am a pessimist. It’s true. Ask anyone who know me. At times, my pessimism limits my purview. Another friend of mine is good at pointing this out in a loving way. When I talk about circumstances and their assured grim outcomes, she will listen, but then name other possibilities. “Yes, Jen, you may be stuck in this place forever. But you also might not be. No one is forcing you to stay in this place.” I love when she speaks these truths over me. She doesn’t do it in a sunshiney, Pollyanna, bubbly way (I don’t know if we would be such good friends if that were the case). Her words and tone of voice convey that she hears me, but also speaks truth in a way that doesn’t limit what I’m feeling. I need to hear this. I need to be reminded my story doesn’t end here.
In the midst of this furnace-y year, I feel sturdy in a new way. I have a deeper sense of knowing who I am. But it’s not just knowing who I am. It’s knowing who I am and feeling peace with that. For years I have wrestled through being a strong woman. I’ve tried to hide or dampen that part of myself. I don’t want to do that anymore. I don’t feel shame over this aspect of myself. Similarly, I have been confused about my creativity. It has warred with the more practical areas of my personality. And practicality has so often won. However, I’ve recently been reminded of my creative voice. I love my creative voice. It is an integral part of who I am.
I don’t know what this all means, but I do know whom it is who will be stepping into the next months of possibilities.