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Do you describe your life or create your life?

If you’ve been around here long, you know I’m always coming back to the topic of dreaming: what dreams are, how our ability to dream is an indicator of our health, and how essential they are for our daily life. But dreaming isn’t always something that comes naturally to us, especially if we’ve been disappointed with a previous dream, found ourselves failing at a dream, or been discouraged by circumstances or loved ones.

The truth about dreaming is that it’s not for the faint of heart. Dreaming takes courage. It takes courage to hope. It takes courage to be misunderstood, to try and fail and try again. It takes courage to take action toward our preferred future.

Dreams are never achieved by accident.

I don’t know about you, but there have been times when I have been so disappointed by a failure or delay to my dreams that I give up on them. At least temporarily. I even went through several months after my second child where I stopped dreaming all together as I experienced severe depression and anxiety. But that’s what I mean: our ability to dream is connected to our mental, emotional and spiritual health. It’s a part of who we are, even when we’re not actively doing it.

That’s why I want to invite you to join me in a 31 Day 31 Dream Challenge to engage your dreamer side and learn how to add in valuable practices to improve your ability to dream and then position yourself to be a dream-achiever, not simply a wish-maker.

The 31 Day 31 Dream Challenge is simple but powerful: each day for the month of March, we will write down one dream in any area of our lives. Then through weekly coaching calls, we will unpack four ways to activate these dreams. 

This week in The Leap Year, the coaching community where the challenge is hosted, we talked about the difference between describing your life, which most of us do when we talk to friends, journal or pray. We just get stuck telling ourselves, others and God how life IS.

But what if we asked “What if?”

What if we attempted to use our deepest dreams to “create our life” instead of just live it?

In our weekly coaching call this past Monday, we discussed these four ways to create our future instead of simply living and describing our lives. (Want to catch that coaching call? Click here.)

createyourfuture4ways

So let’s dive in. Let’s be courageous and dream together.

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Here’s my personal invitation to you to join me for the 31 Day 31 Dream Challenge – Create Your Life. Let’s do this together. You can get access to The Leap Year coaching community right here to get started.

You ready? Come on in.

How to Actually Follow Through With Your Goals + A Giveaway

Ever feel like you get started with a goal and make a lot of progress at first, but then you realize you don’t know what to do next and the whole thing stalls? Or ever feel like you have a big dream but you just don’t know where to start? Me too.

I am hosting an event in The Leap Year, my free private coaching community, Monday at 1:00pm CST. We will be talking about two techniques for making our goals less intimidating and actually doable.


I’d love to have you join us. We can even take one of your personal goals and work through it live so you can see how it works. I think these two tools will become helpful go-to techniques when you realize you want to make something happen in your life.

Oh, and there’s more: 😉 Join us live to be entered into the giveaway for one of my favorite books for creatives and entrepreneurs, The War of Art by Steven Pressfield – I LOVE this book – OR you can pick a book from your own wish list to be sent to your house.

Want to join in? Just click www.theleapyearcommunity.com for free access to our private community, and you can attend the training with us tomorrow. Click here to sign up. See you there.

What do you do when you’ve tried everything?

Have you ever had a dream that you try to make happen on your own but it just won’t work? You try everything you know to do: you apply, you work-work-work, you pray, you talk to people who have done it, you cry yourself to sleep and shout at the ceiling, you give up and try to stop caring.

But no matter what you try or don’t try, the dream feels impossible, elusive, and sometimes, it even feels like it’s taunting you.

What do you do when that happens? Most of us shift between working really hard to make a dream happen and then giving up and getting apathetic and cynical. But there’s a better – more challenging but also more honest – way to handle these dreams that are beyond our control.

Here’s the thing: the dreams that are beyond our control are usually connected to our deepest longings and our truest selves. This is why we work so hard and feel so much pain when they don’t happen. We need to pay attention to these big desires because they are telling you about WHO you are and WHY you are here on the earth. It’s a Big Deal.

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I did a short video training on how to respond to these dreams that are so core to who we are, and yet no matter what we do, we can’t seem to get them to materialize. It’s a painful moment, but it’s almost universal to us as humans. You catch my training here.

Are you stuck in this work hard – give up – work hard – give up cycle? I’m offering my community the opportunity to get unstuck and shift into a more peaceful and liberated state of mind and heart with the freedom to desire without . It’s a short-term coaching package called The Breakthrough Sessions, which is 3 coaching sessions PLUS one strategy sessions for only $217, normally $450. I LOVE being part of someone’s breakthrough, and I’d love to do this with you. I only have three packages available because my schedule is almost full so message me at sarahsidersconsulting(at)gmail.com or comment below to get started.

I also want to share this with you, a poem I wrote 8 years ago when we were trying to conceive our first child. I was exhausted from holding the dream out and “trying” to have a baby when there was almost nothing – aside from the obvious 😉 – that I could do to make it happen. This poem has encouraged others who have felt the tension of longing, and I hope it encourages you too.

 

Hope, the Foolish Child

The child, Hope, is unrelenting in optimism;

Wakes up and says, “Today’s the day”, every day,

Even though It hasn’t happened yet.

With odds against the whole thing,

Hope seems blind to reality.

A starving Pollyanna,

Hope is a survivalist.

In a concentration camp of pain,

Hope is a finger of grass, poking through the asphalt.

Sometimes you want to strangle her neck,

Silence this thing that seems only to bring disappointment.

But she walks blindly, dodging death and famine,

Evading what seems to be true,

Believing in something that is nowhere in sight.

What shall I do with Hope, this child I can’t stop feeding?

I want to kill her, but she says the sweetest things.

She knows my desire,

Keeps telling me it’s coming, it’s coming.

I start to think she might be a liar.

And just when I’m about to stop standing there like a fool,

Hand over my eyes,

Staring into that thin horizon line,

Just then she points, shouts,

“Here It comes!”

I squint into the light and sure enough,

Here comes my Longing.

I reach over to hug Hope, that bouncing child.

But she’s gone,

Gone to lay claim to a new desire.

I wonder,

What if I’d given her up?

What if I’d sold her for a clever book title,

Something for the cynics’ best seller list?
What if I’d held her down and shut her up,

Put my hand over her mouth and made her quiet for good?

Disappointment would have moved in.

Skepticism would have been my neighbor,

Resentment shacked up on the couch.

I wouldn’t have been at the end of the drive that day.

I would have missed my Longing as It rode by.

My Cynicism proven right,

I would have looked haughtily from my balcony,

Confident my Self-Righteousness saved me much wasted time.

I would never have known.

I would’ve been right, sort of, but I would have never held Joy.

I thought of all these things.

And then I stood there one more day,

Stood waiting with Hope, holding her tiny hand.

I was there when the Longing came by.

I welcomed the Longing, gladly,

Snatched It up and planted It in the yard:

A Tree of Life for all to see.

A Tree of Life to remind me.

For those who will wait,

Who believe enough to stand out in all that weather:

She does not lie.

No, and Hope does not disappoint.

[by Sarah Siders. Written August 2009]

What Your Self Talk Says About You? 

More than your job, your fashion or your friends, your self talk says a lot about you. Your self talk is the secret to your standards, your expectations, dreams and hopes. Your self talk is the expression of your emotional experience. Your self talk is constantly narrating, interpreting and creating your world.

Your self talk is your life.

The crazy thing is, your self talk doesn’t only come from you. It is often a combination of how parents, teachers and coaches have talked to you throughout your life. Your inner self talk may also reflect how friends and peers have talked to you.

For most of us, our self talk is predominately negative. We have this impression that if we are hard on ourselves, it will help us to grow and change that bad habit we’ve been stuck in for years. But if that were true, wouldn’t you have stopped doing that habit and started doing something else instead? Hmmmm.

Sadly, as many of us have discovered, negative self talk is more destructive than constructive. We may think that we deserve to be talked to in this way after we screw up or fail or disappoint ourselves or others. So in that case, the goal of your self talk is punishment, not motivation.

In fact, much of our self talk is not designed to change us at all but to keep us exactly how we been acting, thinking and behaving our whole lives.

Intentional behavior change starts with intentional self talk change. Because we can’t shame someone, even ourselves, into greatness.

Self talk that promotes fear, guilt or shame will never help you make a long-term change. Negative self talk is typically an assessment of you at your worst, not a reflection of your true self, the person you are when you were at your best. So even though negative self talk might be telling the truth at times, it is only a small part of the whole story.

In order to change our lives, we need to change our self talk by identifying where we are stuck and what our unconscious narration has been saying about this area of our lives, and then identify how we need to talk to ourselves in order to actually change. Usually we need to be encouraging, balanced and positive, noticing where we have made progress and celebrating our forward motion. When we give ourselves this credit, we are more likely to feel rewarded for our progress and we will keep moving forward toward our goal.

I’ll be live in The Leap Year Community Monday night, 6 February, at 730pm CST. Join me there for a live chat, or catch the replay any time. Just click here to request access to our private coaching community, where we have daily challenges and inspiration, plus regular how-to videos and trainings for achieving our goals and living our dreams.

A Time to Speak and A Time to be Silent 


It’s loud out there, y’all. Voices of anger, fear and confusion on all sides. Everyone has an agenda these days. It’s hard to know who to trust. But don’t you feel that pressing in your soul, the call to “do something”? But what? 

There are times to take a stand and times to quiet down and listen. Usually when we are tempted to shout, it is a call to silence and when we want to hide, we are often being called to stand up.

It’s a counterculture movement we are part of, and often we are to act counter to even – and especially – our own tendencies and compulsions. 

The Truth is not usually obvious. It is not the first or the last thing we read or watched on the News. It is not someone else’s opinion. The Truth feels like peace and it takes quiet to hear him. Our restlessness and rage are what drown him out. 

How can we know what to do or say unless we are quiet long enough to forgive, let go and receive the marching orders, the call to act, to march, to write, to pray, to serve? 

In these crazy times we need silence more than ever. I fear for the trajectory of our souls without it. Join me in taking 10 intentional quiet minutes each day this week to allow yourself to hear something besides your own fears and suspicions. 

If we are to be the Essential voices of wisdom, compassion and guidance in a culture that is afraid and lost, it is silence that will allow us to finally hear. 

What Is The Secret To Actually Following Through With A Goal?  

Most of us have set goals or tried to make lifestyle habits with a little nagging voice in our head. “That will never work,” it says. “You quit or failed last time. What makes you think this time will be different?” 

This voice is the evidence of what we believe our true identity is. If we think of ourselves as someone who quits or fails or doesn’t follow through, someone who tries only to be rejected or disappointed, then we will sabotage any progress we appear to be making in any area of life. 

In The Leap Year, a free coaching community I recently launched for men and women taking a leap in the areas of health, career, finance and relationships, we are facing the dissonance between our goals and our identity. Click here to come join us. 

This is an internal conflict that so many of us relate to. Here is the truth: 

The dream you have is often a reflection of your true self, the person you are when you are at peace and have your emotional and physical needs met. 

The doubting, skeptic voice in your mind is the voice of the false self, the self who has been wounded, disappointed and frustrated by others actions and our own personal choices. The skeptic doubts because it thinks it is protecting us but the true self keeps bringing us back to our dream. 

It can feel confusing to wonder who we truly are. But the Bible offers us a beautiful solution in 2 Corinthians 5, that our new self, the gift we received from Jesus, is our true self. We can be confident in our dreams and desires because even if we have not yet followed through or achieved them, they stem from and are powered by our true and redeemed self. How cool is that? So now we can be confident in the changes we want to make because these changes are the desires of the whole and redeemed self. 

I hosted a live interactive training on Tuesday night on this very topic. It blew my mind when I first learned these truths so I want to share them with you. Check it out here.

And for those who want just a summary, here are a few inspirational thought graphics related to this idea of identity: 

I’m doing something fun…wanna join me? [VIDEO]

Today is January 15. It’s not a holiday or anything, but it’s still a significant day. See, recently I learned that by January 15, most people have given up on their new year goals and resolutions. Just two weeks into a brand new, fresh chance and they’ve already moved on. That’s sad, isn’t it?

Truth is, most of us can relate to diving in with big ambition, driven by the feel-goods of the new year, only to realize there is more work or obstacles in front of us than we anticipated. When we realize our health, career, relationship or finance goal is further into the distance than we thought, it’s easy to slip back into old patterns, the ones two weeks ago we swore to avoid.

See why today is an important day?

Maybe you’re like me, and you have some big goals for this year. But already you’re feeling the tension of leaving old habits and thought patterns behind. Or maybe you’re trying to achieve the entire goal in one month – that was me last week. I felt like I had to do everything at once, and I was starting to lose my passion and move into anxiety mode. And I’m no fun when I’m there. So I had to slooooowww down. That helped a lot.

There are so many ways we stall our efforts, sabotage our progress or get ourselves stuck, and most of the time it isn’t intentional, but we know we can do more – if only we knew what.

I spent the last year making up excuses about my health and the career I wanted, and when I realized 2017 was giving me a fresh chance, I leaped. But I didn’t want to do it alone. Taking on a challenge together is more fun and has a better rate of success. So….

Will you leap with me?

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I wanted to personally invite you to theleapyearcommunity.com , a FREE community of coaching and accountability on Facebook. Here’s what we’ll be doing together:

  • Release ourselves from past limitations and failures
  • Define and clarify our ultimate goals
  • Break down our goals into actionable steps
  • Link up to provide accountability and encouragement
  • Share tips, progress and setbacks
  • PLUS…
  • I’ll be interacting with my own leap story, and coaching tips via video and Facebook live.

So are you in? Let’s leap together this year. We kick off on Monday, January 16 – I will be hosting a Facebook live in the group to get to meet you and hear your stories, share mine and talk about how we can best support each other. It’s totally free so what do you have to lose?

I’m so excited!! This is the year we do it. Click here to gain access to The Leap Year community. If you still haven’t made up your mind about your goals or resolutions, it’s not too late. Join us and let’s make this year one we can be proud of. I hope I’ll see you there!

I’ll leave you with a favorite quote of mine that reminds me that the work is worth it:

“Don’t give up on a dream because of the time it will take. The time will pass anyway.”

See you in The Leap Year, friends.

 

Good Guys, Bad Guys and A Long-Overdue Apology

{A little over a year ago, I organized a #BlackLivesMatter protest in my city and preached a message on racial equality in my church. Some of what I said alienated my white friends, which I have been reluctant to address. I cannot back down on my position defending racial equality, but I see now that my tone lacked humility, and that was wrong. I hope I can be forgiven. I wrote this immediately following my sermon last year. Please read these words with this in mind.} 

“There’s a police man, Dad,” John observed aloud as we rounded the corner out of town.

“Those are good guys,” Josh informed him.

“So are we the bad guys?” John inquired.

“No, we’re good guys too,” Josh corrected him, likely befuddling the preschooler in the back seat.

Good guys and bad guys. When you’re four years old, that’s all there is. In my son’s world, it’s assumed if one person is good, the other must be bad.

But we know this is childish thinking, to only have two categories, to think in black and white. As we mature, we’re supposed to move beyond the lines and learn the art of nuance. To know that we ourselves, and everyone around us, is at once capable of great evil and great good.

Who are the bad guys? You and I.

Who are the good guys? You and I.

Yet we want so badly to categorize people, at least I do, to slide them into one column or another. Shoot, I have a Master’s degree in categorizing people: it’s called “diagnosing” in Social Work.

But outside of a medical setting, this is not merely childish thinking; it is lazy. It is a sign of an unwillingness to engage in the reality of pain in the world, and not just The World at large, but in the lives of our neighbors, friends and family.

This conversation between John and Josh struck a chord with me in light of the back and forth throughout the nation on the issue of racial politics. It seems everyone is choosing a side and villainizing the other. We feel in order to be loyal to one perspective or group of people, we must be aggressive and outspoken against the other.

In church two weeks ago, I preached on race relations and why white Christians may have missed this issue, and while many people appreciated the discussion, I offended some of my white friends in my community. At first I didn’t care because I thought, Who are you, white person, to tell me you are offended about hearing about race issues when it is your privilege that even allows you to ignore it in the first place? But after talking with one of my friends who found my direct approach distasteful, I realized my zeal to uplift the members of my community who are black unnecessarily undermined the white community members.  I apologize. That was not my intent.

I wanted to shout a wake-up call to the white community. I had part of the idea right, the longing for justice and respect. But where I missed it is that I, in humility, must remember the goal is empowerment of all parties involved. For example, if at the end of this conflict, we determine that justice for people of color means police officers are disrespected or white people lose rights or respect, then we have not won.

{Click photo for credit}

I am still trying to figure out my role here. I don’t want to follow the path of the white-Savior complex. I don’t want to be so arrogant to assume that because I am white, I have the power to pull up or elevate African-Americans to “my level”. I have seen great power come from a simple conversation where I ask a friend who is black, “What is it like to be black in America? What is your experience?” I will be doing more of that.

I do know I don’t want to be on a side anymore. I want to be a listener to the white people and the black people and the police officers and encourage equality and unity through humility and love. I want to go on record as always pursuing the Third Way.

Can I say I respect police officers and also deeply respect my fellow African-Americans who are longing for justice? Well, I want to say both because both are true.

People on every side of this issue hold opinions that are both just and unjust, right and wrong, but to varying degrees. And who is the ultimate judge between us?

The precedent the Bible sets on issues of Justice leaves no room for interpretation. From reading Scripture, we see God fight racial inequality and defend the voiceless, like when he struck Moses’ brother and sister with leprosy for their discrimination against his Ethiopian wife. In Proverbs, Solomon warns against showing favoritism to some people over others. And in his letter to the Galatians, Paul’s exhorts the church that we are neither Jew nor Gentile, neither woman or man, but all are one in Christ.

What’s more, Jesus identifies with humanity so much that he tell us how we interact with and honor each other is how we interact with and honor – or dishonor – him. 

Clearly, God’s goal is unity and equality without discrimination.

God’s call to us is to put down the weapons of right and wrong and to listen to the side of the other. We must choose empathy. Think for a moment with me:

What must it be like to a police officer who daily faces hatred from simply doing his job? By putting on a uniform and showing up for work each day, the police officer faces kickback, anger and even hatred because of something they are required by law to enforce. If a person has a bad experience with one police officer, future members of law enforcement will not be given the benefit of the doubt. They are all bad guys, some have concluded. But this is lazy thinking.

What must it be like to be the object of profiling, surveillance or violence just because of the color of your skin? What would it be like to feel that if someone killed you, especially someone who is tasked with enforcing the laws that are intended to protect your life, that your life would not be defended or held in equal value? What would it be like to be told by your family as a child that you need to accept the fact that you can’t go into certain parts of town dressed “like that”, or you can’t keep your hands in your pockets in the grocery store, only because of the color of your skin?

In America, by and large, black people are still not given the benefit of the doubt in a situation where their character is in question. The main reason I know this is because some of my friends who are black told me their stories. Are all black people being wrongly stereotyped and profiled by all white people and all police officers? Of course not. That is lazy thinking. But this is part of the story, and if we don’t hear this, we aren’t listening.

The truth is, we are dealing with people here, people who are made to be villains and heroes when neither of these are true.

I want to be part of the solution, to see black people treated with the respect and equality white people have historically enjoyed and come to expect, not just from law enforcement, but to see people of color given equal opportunities in the work place, in places of worship, academic institutions and in their neighborhoods.

I want to see police officers respected by the citizens they serve and protect. I want to see all people hold an appropriate amount of fear of their position, not fear of abuses, but because of the law they uphold and seek to enforce with the blind eye of Justice. And I want to see police officers held to the same standard they enforce.

But even more than that, I want to move beyond “good” and “bad” guys. I want to get out behind the walls language has created for us, literally making this a “black and white” issue. The inevitable result of Us vs. Them, of Police Officers Vs. African-Americans or White People vs. Black People is that there are only winners and losers.

Equality becomes impossible when there is competition. When one side advances, the other side retreats. When one group gains rights, the perspective is, the opposing group loses them. This broken thing will always result in war.

{Click photo for credit}

But I can’t encourage equality if I don’t live it. It will have to start with me.

So I’m sorry for the hammer I used to smash my white friends, which led them to believe I wanted them to be the losers. I am sorry for the ingratiating tone I used in my speech in which I hoped to uplift my black brothers and sisters, which implies that I believe pressing down one race will elevate another and perhaps level the so-called social playing field. I assume there are many who stopped listening to me because of my misguided approach.

Behaving this way says I missed it. This is not the way of heaven. If equality and unity are our goals, then we must move out from our stone-throwing positions. Instead we aim together for mutual empowerment, equality, which always means seeking the good of the other before oneself.

This is so hard to do, I know. I have been one of the worst offenders at side-picking and name-calling. I have felt a deep anger at whites who refuse to see their inherent privilege in a culture where nearly every stock photo in Google is someone who looks like them. And I have felt a great despair at the gap people of color feel is between “us and them”, that they don’t feel heard, that they might hate me for what I unknowingly do and don’t do.

But this is an internal battle first and foremost, and it is one worth fighting as equality of the oppressed will surely benefit not just those who are presently voiceless but those of us who have privilege and voice.

As Martin Luther King said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” implying that victories of Justice here, no matter how small, are a threat to injustice everywhere. 

If you want more help thinking through the logistics of racial reconciliation and what this looks like for us in real life, check out this insightful TED talk by Vernā Myers on confronting our biases with honesty and generosity.

Also, as I mentioned earlier, having open conversations with your friends who are black will surprise you. You will learn things you never knew simply because you never asked. You can set your mind and heart to listen and not defend yourself, then ask, “What is it like to be black in America? What is your experience?” This has been immensely helpful to both me and my friends.

If you’re still trying to decide where you stand or how relevant this is for us in our culture or in the church, listen to my husband’s message on a similar issue the early church encountered 2000 years ago and how they responded.

If you have not read Martin Luther King Jr’s I Have A Dream speech in a while, refresh your memory here.

Finally, may we remember that our work is effective when we aren’t satisfied with a “losing side” and a “winning side”, but when we can say that winning means all people, arm in arm, welcoming ones who are the same and different, with the goal of unity, equality and life together. 

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When You Don’t Want to Wait Any Longer

It’s all so magical, the belly-warming glow of the lights juxtaposed with the sparkling winter chill, bells lingering in the air, chimed from towers and bell choirs, scheming up just the perfect gift for children and friends, imagining their faces a million times before they even open the gift: there is so much to love about Advent and the Christmas season.

I think the most reassuring part is the countdown, the knowing when Christmas and presents and family and cider and joy will finally be here. There is stress in the preparation and travel, but there is a knowing: it will be here soon, and it will all be worth it.

I am thankful for the ritual of Advent, to remind us that waiting has an end, that the thing we long for will come if we are faithful.

But I think our adorable Advent calendars with 25 little doors hiding tiny chocolates are a little misleading. Unless it is a pregnancy, a wedding, or the day of school starts or ends, there are rarely clear beginnings and endings to the biggest things in our lives.

We cannot count down until we meet our future husband or wife. We cannot schedule a date on the calendar for when we will finally be done with infertility and celebrate a pregnancy. We cannot put an end date to the painful season of unemployment when no matter how hard we try, nothing is opening. We can’t say of our estranged spouse or child, ‘Well, at least we know they will be home next year.’ Because we don’t know. We just don’t know.

Most of our lives, the crises, the hardships, the sorrows and joys promise no guarantee of beginning or end. We live day by day, just making it through, at times breath to breath, extracting every last ounce of grace to deal with the disappointment that we are not…there…yet.

This is why we need Hope so badly. We are lost without it. We give up on dreams and quit living when we lose our Hope.

The Pessimist, claiming to be a Realist, says, “Because it has not happened yet, it will probably not happen,” to which Hope replies with confidence, “Each day that passes is one day closer to the longing fulfilled.

Hope is not drunk on idealism, envisioning a perfect future and erasing the pain and ache of the waiting. No, Hope is a perspective, a lens through which to view the world.

Hope can co-exist with waiting, and when we wait in Hope and do not let the waiting jade us, then we can move through time and space toward our desire, all the while becoming the person we must become in order to receive it.

Pessimism feeds on the idea that waiting is empty, that time between now and the arrival of The Longed-For Thing is simply finger-tapping, clock-watching and gut-wrenching ache, all the while entertaining the idea of giving up on desire for fear of letdown’s freefall.

But when we choose to feed Hope and return ourselves to the truth of who we are and who God is, we grow the very thing that readies us for the blessing.

The struggle between now and the blessing we long for is the cocoon of hope and faith.

When we wrestle with our doubt and our anger, when we tenderly let ourselves feel our disappointment but keep it in check, always surrendering it beneath the tide of God’s goodness, the struggle ends with us as champion, released from the season of claustrophobic darkness into something we never knew we wanted: a kinder, bendier, more generous version of ourselves.

Sometimes it feels it takes forever, but in the end, we’ve either become the person who is ready to receive the desire-made-manifest, or in all our fighting, we realize what we thought we wanted all along wasn’t really it at all and discover a new longing to pursue. (I have seen this happen again and again with people who were smitten by someone, longing for their love returned, but as they got to know them, they realized this person was not who they thought they were at all.)

This cocoon of waiting is an essential process for our broken human hearts because imagine if we got exactly what we wanted the precise moment we wanted it? What a curse to get your every wish granted at your beck and call.

No, the waiting is full of becoming, of warring, sculpting, shaping. The edges come off, our truest priorities and values surface, our faces and hearts soften.

The waiting is not merely waiting. It is becoming.

This struggle of waiting, or let’s call it becoming now, is not as much about receiving the thing you long for as it is about engaging with the ache and letting it shape you, letting yourself grow all the stronger and wiser for having trudged this path or wrestled this giant.

So in this New Year, let us not discuss amongst ourselves or our friends what we are waiting for, but who we are becoming as a result of the waiting. Let us not move through life, mired in resentment and disappointment without allowing the wrestling between Now and Then to beautify and enrich us.

Let’s not simply wait, my friends. Let’s Become.

Happy Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Becoming.

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How Tradition Heals The World

TreeComp

This year more than ever, I am thankful for tradition. Not so much the ritual of it, but what it means. It’s a coming up for air, a gasp of relief. 

During the past year, I overcame a debilitating perspective of God and the world, life inside a tormented mind, a world I had never experienced. My actual life was perfect, as much as we would all dare to wish, but I was haunted by “what if”, a gruesome fantasy land.

It is Christmas time again, and I remember that last year, near Christmas time, I was not doing well. My hair turned dirty and gray from stress, and one of my eyes twitched frantically beneath all the tension. I worried my falling-apart soul was manifesting on my outsides.

When I look back at this photo from just one year ago, the day my family ventured out for a Christmas tree, I can see and feel all the wear on my face and in my soul. Life was a weary thing in those days, but I am in a different place now.

This year, when we went out to get our tree, I insisted we take another picture in the same spot because I wanted to see it. I wanted to look in my eyes and know the healing happened, know that I am not the same. And I saw it. I saw the newness, the strength, the peace and confidence that comes with a healthy soul. 

JnOrnaments

Tradition is the gift that reminds me I am not the same: I am growing, becoming. I could not have imagined who I am now, but that wasn’t necessary to become her. And when the earth goes around, and I find myself back here in this season, I can feel the change, the space between who I was and who I am. And it is good.

Tradition is proof there is hope for humanity, that we are not a lost race. Proof that God has not given up on us. Because here we are again, despite all the pain in the world that frightens or distracts us. We are listening to Bing Crosby, sipping wine, telling our children the story of the first gift ever given, and how we are now Father God’s children because of this gift, Jesus. And how we give gifts because we so long to be like our Dad, the papa with the belly laugh like Mr. Fezziwig from A Christmas Carol. And this year, I can tell my sons with certainty that our God is a God of extravagant generosity and he loves so big, so much, and it is a special honor we have to follow behind and try to be like him. 

I can say all these things this Christmas because my soul has room to believe them. I have been planting truth in my soul, nourishing myself with quiet and learning, bravely, to simply let myself be loved. 

If I could give us all one gift this Christmas season, it is that we would let ourselves be loved, that we would take the boxing gloves off, that we would stop keeping score of our goods and our bads – God isn’t doing it, so why should we? I would give us the gift of gentle vulnerability, the kind that isn’t too strong to let love in, to receive the only gift your heart really wants, really needs, the thing that happens to be the the thing God longs to give you. 

Let traditions, another year around the sun, heal and nurture your soul this year. May you see all the lavish grace that has been poured out on you in the past year, even when everything felt broken down and busted up. May you live in this circle of the earth, this season of warmth and quiet, and may it heal you up in places you didn’t even know you needed it. 

Love to you. 

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