For When You Pictured Your Life Differently

It's Christmas week, so I was all set to write a cute blog post about making the most of the holidays, when I paused.  Honestly, for some (or many) of us, we are walking into the holidays in a bit of a daze, wondering what happened to our 2016.  For some, 2016 was great!  A year filled with good memories and goals met, but for others, 2016 was full of hard moments, unexpected detours, and a hope that surely the best is ahead. 

As I wrap up the year, I was looking over my personal blog and found it interesting that my most popular blog from 2016 was titled, "For When You Pictured Your Life Differently."   It's an honest post filled with vulnerability, frustration, and hope.  So instead of writing about baking cookies or starting a tradition of looking at lights, I felt like I'd leave these words with you...and say Merry Christmas, may you see His fingerprints in your reality today, and may you find the sunsets among the storms of whatever lies ahead in 2017.

From Becoming Paige - February 2016

One of the aspects of living in Lubbock that most irks me is our dust storms that seemingly come from no where.  A couple of weeks ago we were greeted with one of these once again, and as I walked from my car to the coffee shop to meet my friend I found myself squinting and keeping my mouth shut so as not to get grit in my teeth.  I am happy to say I’ve learned over the years to stay away from lip gloss when a dust storm is looming…but I digress.

As I tried to tame my hair upon entering the coffee shop I was simultaneously searching the room for my friend whom I hadn’t really seen in a couple of months.  She used to be one of my college girls when Josh and I led that ministry, and I have a deep place in my heart for her – for all of those girls really – who are no longer girls but beautiful women in their late 20’s and early 30’s. 

I found her sitting in the corner with her trade mark smirk & I was genuinely delighted to see her.  In the 10 years that we’ve been friends she has seen heartache, joy, adventure, and uncertainty but I’m so proud of her – her tenacity to face adversity, her courage to pick herself up when she’s fallen, and her faith to continue to trust Him when the waves have crashed with intensity.

As she shared with me the latest portion of her journey she started to apologize for her life…her appearance…and her lack of “having it all together.”  At one point with tears in her eyes she said these words to me, “I thought after ten years I wouldn’t still be a mess.”

Don’t we all feel that way sometimes?  Like we should be more by now.  More mature, more loving, more together, just MORE?!  I knew exactly what she meant because although I’ve learned to stay away from comparing myself to others (most of the time), I’m often guilty of comparing my current life to the life I imagine I should be living…the life that surely God intended for me.

That MORE life where I’m a better version of myself.

I could hear the dust picking up outside.  The whirl of the wind – the elements that no doubt would leave me looking like a mess when I left.  And in the sound of the wind, I realized that my friend and I both had a more in our lives at that very moment.

Because she was more honest with me that day than in the 10 years I’ve known her.  As she laid out the tough reality of some areas of her life I couldn’t help but think of my own place right now that is more honest than it’s been in a long time.

In the last year I’ve been shaken.  Facades that once looked perfect crumbled and I had a choice to make – to keep smiling and pretend that the rubble wasn’t around my feet or to be honest about the shaking – to embrace it and be okay that the mess existed.

When shaking happens in our lives, we have a choice to make: to hide or ignore the shaking and hope life settles back to what we’ve always known, or we can allow the shaking to shed the false ideas of what should be and instead embrace the beauty of God’s goodness even in the midst of the trembling. 

My friend’s beauty shined so bright as she honestly shared her heart, and I saw that in the wake of the shaking, although it hurts like hell at times, it always leaves behind what is true.

I’m ready for more of what is true.

I’m ready for more honest messes.

I’m ready for the God who embraces me in the midst of the rubble.

So forget the what ifs and embrace the right nows.

We hugged and promised to talk again soon and then I braced myself for the weather that was outside the doors.  But as I walked outside I was surprised that the dust had settled…and in it’s shadow was one of the most glorious sunsets I’ve seen.  I gasped, grabbed my camera, and heard Him whisper, “The beauty that follows the storm pierces hearts.”

My friend – her story – it’s so honest and raw that God’s goodness rises bright.  And this past year I’ve found that to be true in my own life as well.  In the dust we sometimes see His hand all the more clearly – the trace of His work is like a trace of artwork in the sand.

So bring on the dust storms and the sunsets that ensue.