encouragement · hope · new

Redirect & Refocus

Recently, a dear friend of mine helped to redirect my focus, energy and passion.  They may not have intended to do so, but they did nonetheless…and I am grateful.  Doors open and close continually in our lives.  So often, we’re “thrown for a loop”, crushed, confused or heartbroken when doors close and we’re unable to see possibilities in the closing.  This time, the door closing brought me unexpected peace, redirection and the green light to move forward.  In certain moments, clarity comes when doors close, and we can see God’s desire for our lives with a renewed focus.  And sometimes, through those doors that have now quietly shut behind us, we find ourselves and what’s truly most important to us.

I’ve heard over the past six months or so, whether in jest or criticism, that I am “addicted to Facebook”, post too much or put a priority on social media that shouldn’t be there.  I’ve been criticized for over-celebrating little things that “no one cares about”, and questioned for exposing too much of my personal life.  Yet, throughout the judgment, I’ve felt I’m doing what I should be.

Here’s why:

(1) Yes, loss, and confusion over it, has completely changed me. Guess what?  It usually does change people! In fact, I haven’t met someone who was thrown a major curveball that it hasn’t changed.  Loss is what grew my faith in Jesus Christ, my yearning for connection, and that “over-celebratory” activity I’m guilty of.  When you wish you could get moments back to be more present with someone, turn off the TV and sit together…When you would do anything to make peace with someone you loved over things that seemed so inconsequential (at the time) but then became part of your “baggage”…When you think about all the moments your family could have, should have, celebrated more… You learn how to make peace with the past, and you drive like heck in the present.  You hold onto every.single.moment. with your family and friends.  You see what is unimportant, making every attempt you can to clear it from your world.  And somewhere, somehow, you try and find the balance between being in the here and now, and knowing the hourglass sands are hauling passed you at record speeds.  You try to soak-in all the beauty of the moment, while seeking to find the next one.  And in this season, you drive some of your friends and family members a little crazy…because they don’t realize how much of a constant battle it can be.  When your experiences tell you, “don’t trust anyone”, or “this won’t last”, or “you will lose this too”…you fight against those demons to simply be present and live right now.

(2) Through my posts, whether too deep, too spiritual, too personal or too silly, I have received countless messages from so many people who have either had a great loss in life, or just feel the grief that comes with a life experience unplanned.  (Not all “loss” and “grief” is about someone physically dying…it is also about the moment you realize, “How the heck did I get here? And I’m scared to death of what’s next!”)  I’ve had old friends, renewed friends, and brand new friends write to me about how badly they needed to see a post I had written, or shared.  How much, even the silly little posts when I’m giggling at light moments, help them know they will “be ok”.  How much my sharing, many times with complete, painful vulnerability (that no, wasn’t my style before), have made them not “feel crazy”, or like they’re “losing it”. How the shout-outs and mini-celebrations posted remind them, when it seems the world is caving in, there is someone, something to acknowledge for it’s life-sustaining relationship to our hearts.

So, with that…I will continue to be myself, over-celebrating at times, acknowledging others’ impact in my life, and giving glory to Jesus Christ for all He has given me.  It isn’t meant as boasting, flattery or attention-seeking for the incredible people (and experiences, big or small) in my life.  It just seems too important to encourage one another, and cheer each other on in a kinda cruddy-at-times world.  I will continue to write for the people whom God places in my life throughout this season.  I know it is no coincidence I am here, and YOU are here.  It is ultimately because HE is here and guiding my focus back to where HE has intended all along.  

I have connected most deeply, and genuinely, with people whom understand how loss has impacted our lives. Hardly any explanation has been necessary between us, providing acceptance otherwise not found many places.  I’ve lived amazing moments alongside people who never thought they’d “be ok” again.  People I’ve never met before have told me through my sharing, whether in writing, singing or posting…they find hope.  (That really blows your mind because that kind of stuff is nothing but God, Y’all!)  I’ve had some of my most-trusted family and friends (my “cabinet”) speak into who I am, and who they see God making me into during a time in which I had no clue.  I even experienced Jen Hatmaker, one of my most favorite people on the planet, confirm a “calling” I felt God had placed on my heart early this year!

So what am I doing?  I’ll tell ya…I’m writing.  I’m singing.  I’m posting.  I’m celebrating.  I’m crying.  I’m jumping up and down like a fool on baptism Sunday.  I’m smiling from ear-to-ear.  I’m enjoying every moment I can.  I’m acknowledging God’s Work in my life.  I’m forgiving others who don’t “deserve it”, because neither do I.  I’m spending time with friends and family.  I’m stopping to enjoy my fireplace (and posting pictures of it).  I’m having faith in grace.  I’m attending almost every dinner with family & friends I’m invited to.  I’m living it up at every sports event (my sons & almost daughter-in-law), worship night, girls trip and coffee date I’m fortunate to be included in.  I’m walking out upon waters I have NO idea how I’ll stand on.  I’m refocused.  I’m leading small groups of women in being real and finding grace for ourselves.  I’m renewed.  I’m crying at every door that shuts, but then smiling and grateful for the possibilities it points me towards.  I am living as I should be.  And I am hopeful, through some little way, my life is a testimony of God’s Love for you.  It really is indescribable.

God, thank You for never giving up on me.  Thank You for always being right here alongside me, waiting for me to get out of the way.  Thank You for inviting me into Your Plans for my life again.  Thank You for changing me a little more everyday.  And thank You for not becoming so frustrated with my human mess-ups that You walk away from me.  I am holding on, and ready to take the next step because I know You are near.  In Jesus, amen

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