discernment

I don’t truly grasp the concept. If I am terribly honest with myself, I will admit I don’t really want to. I would prefer formulas. Rules. Distinct black and white. Abundantly clear clarity. I would like to do away with life’s murkiness.

Tell me who the safe people are in this world and how I can distinguish them from the unsafe ones. Is there a mark on their cheek? Do they wear certain clothes? Could everyone just walk around carrying signs?

But no. This is something that requires discernment. Learning as I go. Listening to my intuitive side.

And quite frankly my intuition often feels underdeveloped. Only in the last two or three years did I learn I even have an intuitive side. Or that it could be helpful to me in any way. That little voice. That sense of something without tangible proof.

So I am continually baffled.

But of course, life has been doing what life tends to do and presenting me with opportunities to practice and learn this foreign concept of discernment. Making choices or understanding people or situations in the current moment without needing to label or put them in boxes where I will keep them forever.

Allowing for mystery and fluidity beyond what I see while still working with the reality of where I find myself in the current moment.

Acknowledging that sometimes discernment happens in a moment and more often it requires a process.

And I have been doing what humans tend to do and making mistakes and feeling awkward and discouraged in my learning process.

But I also believe in the midst of this, God has been showing me his gentleness and tenderness toward me. Even when the learning curve of life feels steep and painful.

And he wants me to know that he loves me in the midst of it all.

So he gives me sons who pick up on my tension and hurt feelings from others as I learn the hard way (by experience – yuck!) and give me extra hugs and kisses and tender looks and sweet shoulder rubs. And I think my heart might explode. When did they develop such a capacity for compassion?

And he gives me friends who remind me of truth and encourage me and listen and listen and listen and give me hugs. Friends who don’t put people in boxes just to make me feel better but who help me understand the complexities of life and walk with me as I struggle with all of it.

And of course he gives me a husband who provides comic relief while he communicates his unending loyalty to me with his over the top protective comments.

And he gives me this sense that he is with me. That he is for me. That he loves me. And that he is in fact helping me learn this thing called discernment. 

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calling

I can hear him calling me from the other room. There are other things crying out to me as well like the laundry and the dusting and the chocolate cookies in the fridge. But today I seem to know that Harley’s call is the one I need to answer.

I open up his silver frame and feel the gratitude all over again. Harley was a gift to me. He used to belong to my friend’s twin sister. And then a few weeks after I confessed to my sweet friend that I want to write a book, she told me she had something for me.

We walked out to her car. I imagined the fun scarf or accessory she – the hip young single girl – was handing down to her fashion-challenged mom-friend with no time to shop. I knew it would be something with a flair that I would love.

Never in a million years would I have guessed that she would hand me a laptop. She made all sorts of qualifiers about how it was so old and she didn’t know what programs were on it and on and on. I stood there with a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes.

When I got it home, I discovered my friend’s twin had named her laptop and he seemed a beloved old friend of hers. I carried on the tradition and welcomed Harley into our family. Even my four year old will call him by name when he asks me, “What is Harley showing you, Mom?”

So now Harley is my beloved friend. And today he called to me as only he can. Tugging on my heart, I could hear him a mile away. He knows I have much stirring inside me and he can help me in a releasing and peace-making sort of way.

Harley was a gift of faith, a tangible “I believe in you” from my friend. But he has been so much more. He has been my safe place.

To create.

To let go.

To try.

Not just for the sake of a product but for the sake of me.

Because as a writer I have found that writing has become a part of me and a part of my life. Not just to produce for a blog post or to plunk away at a book that seems such an elusive endeavor at times.

Harley shows me that writing is where I find myself, where I work things out, where I let things go. And I know that because I can hear his call from way across the house, as though he were whispering from right inside my heart.  

Who is calling you today?

process of a perfectionist

When will it end? When will I be “finished” as a person? I used to struggle so much with the process of life. I wanted to be perfect and I found the fact that I was not both disappointing and discouraging.

If you have read my blog for a while, you may remember me referring to myself as a “recovering perfectionist”. It’s true. I have come a long way. Just ask my sister (don’t sisters always know?). Not that perfectionism is inherently bad, but it was bad for me. I used it to point out all my flaws and failures to myself, to make myself miserable and never enough.

But now – mostly – I embrace process. I love it, in fact. I find process completely energizing and exhilarating. The fact that I am never finished; there is always more to learn, more growing to do. I don’t have to have everything all figured out. I can be free to make mistakes because, of course, I am still in process.

But every once in a while, I have days like the ones I’ve had recently where process is arduous and painful. And I’m just sort of tired of it. Weary. And I would like some days where maybe if I don’t have all the answers, I wish I just had some.

And when I am having those types of days, I do what I know makes things worse, but I can’t seem to stop. The familiar voice of perfectionism sneaks back inside my head.

I point out all of my flaws to myself. I point out all the ways other people are better than me, stronger, more together, prettier, more fashionable, better with their money, and on and on.

And then, when I finally convince myself that comparing myself to other people is destructive and terrible, I simply continue on by comparing myself to my former self.

Perhaps I have grown and changed, but I point out how it is just not enough. If it was, then I would be there, I would be done, I would be finished, I would have arrived. And I wouldn’t be struggling so much.

The thing about the process of personal growth is that it is just so endless. But the only other option is to become stagnant. And who wants to be stagnant? Living, but not really alive.

So I go on, putting one foot in front of the other and trying to grow through these days when process feels heavy. And I remind myself that these days are part of the process. I will never be a recover-ed perfectionist. I will have to settle for recover-ing. Because recovery is a process.