One morning, I was sitting in church and they mentioned a Go Trip to Nicaragua. The Go Trips are when people from the church go to various places in America and other countries and help build schools, or help people get clean water, build houses, clean up after storms, etc, basically whatever is needed to help the people living in the area have a more comfortable life. Before we started going to church, I had written down that I’d like to go to Nicaragua someday. So, naturally when that came up in discussion at church, my brain lit up with thoughts like:
I put it out to the Universe and let it go. Later, however, I felt like God was telling me that the big stuff is too easy to appreciate. He seemed to be nudging me to go deeper. Sure, it’s wonderful to travel to other places around the world and help people, but he seemed to be telling me that I needed to get to the meat of things….”Don’t you understand?” He seemed to say to me.
Over the last year or so, I’ve taken intentional steps to slow down and notice things. I started with photographing my yard…just things from my yard that I thought were beautiful…frozen bubbles from a bubble maker, icicles on the patio table, a deer at the feeder, a Cardinal eating seed on a box I placed on the patio, my daughter playing in the snow with her dad. These things that are so easy to overlook.
I felt like that was where the magic was.
It’s funny how things always come to us at the right time, because as I have been slowly navigating my way through all of this this year, I came across the Voskamp study on Facebook. It popped up out of nowhere and I decided to join. In this group, we intentionally looked for 1000 gifts in our lives. Just one thousand. It would probably have seemed like a lot to me a year ago, but now, it has been really fun to take the time to jot down the beautiful moments in my life:
There, I’ve just listed five gifts in my life and with each, I feel lighter, my Spirit brighter, my heart overflowing with gratitude for this beautiful life that I am honored to live.
It really is an honor.
I’ve not always been grateful. I’ve wished for death more times than I can count, but I’m really happy to be here. I’m so grateful that even though I have, at times, wanted to throw all of this beauty away, God didn’t give up on me. I’m still here. I’m still learning and growing and sharing the journey, and loving…
Oh how I love.
I’m still getting hurt. I’m still getting angry. I’m still struggling to forgive myself and others for things, but I’m learning and I’m leaning into all of that, because I’m beginning to see that beyond all of that is LIFE.
Waiting to be had.
I don’t need a trip to Nicaragua. I don’t need to see something majestic to find beauty. It’s all around me. I need only take notice.
Right now, outside my window, the river is silver….it’s a silver mirror reflecting the dim sunlight above. Is that not a beautiful gift?
Most days, during the morning commute, people get to witness the brilliant awakening of Earth, as the sun rises over the horizon and how many notice its splendor? The same with the sunset. I know I have missed them often in my life and what a shame that is.
I think Alice Walker summed up this blindness quite nicely in her novel, The Color Purple: “I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.” Maybe it does piss God off, or maybe it just makes him feel sad for us…maybe he looks down on us and asks, “Don’t you understand, yet?”
Everything here is beautiful, yet we rush through our lives like we’ve got some other place to go besides the grave. And even if we do, don’t we want to enjoy the journey along the way? I know I do. The journey is what it’s all about! Have you ever had a goal you wanted to accomplish and once you accomplish it, you’re like, “Okay, now what?” Because the goal wasn’t really the THING that got you up every morning….it was the JOURNEY. It was the challenge of it and even the struggle, so that once you accomplished your goal, besides that initial rush of excitement, in the end it’s just the end.
I don’t want to rush to the end.
I want to savor this life, my one and only life that I know. I want to reflect and digest and take in and envelop myself in the splendid deliciousness of this existence because I know it is fleeting. We are not promised tomorrow in this life, with our family, with our friends, or our fur babies, or our homes, or our jobs. We are guaranteed nothing.
On a long enough timeline, we don’t even exist. Wrap your brain around that concept.
We get so caught up in trying to BE SOMETHING, BE SOMEONE, when we are already enough.
Back in the very early 2000s, I was out in California, ever-searching for purpose in my life and I remember having this thought: You’ll know who you are and what you are when you stop realizing it. I think what that meant was once I stopped trying to be something and someone, I could finally be who I am and live a happy, fulfilled life.
And I have found that to be true.
This year has been a struggle for me and I’m sure I’ll continue to struggle, but I’m a better me in this journey. I’m less dependent on wine to relax. I’m less dependent on validation from others for my self-worth. I’m less dependent on attention to make me feel loved. I’m less dependent on a busy schedule to feel worthy. I’m less dependent on the fickle external things that can never truly fulfill me.
I am beginning to see the beauty in my life and I’m more grateful for this than words typed here could ever say.