This morning, a speaker came to my MOPS (Mothers of PreSchoolers) group.
She was one of those gorgeous humans who seems to have the type of wisdom that only comes from – for lack of a better phrase – walking through hell.
She was tall, unassuming, and carried a bible decorated with bright strips of patterned tape.
I wasn’t sure what she was there to talk to us about. Usually we get a “sneak preview” of our meeting via Facebook, but I didn’t know what lesson today held.
I’ll be honest – I didn’t want to be there.
After a rushed morning, I was sitting there like a kid in Sunday school class, antsy, thinking, “Okay, lady. Go ahead and just give me the Spark Notes because I’m ready to go home and take a nap.”
She started speaking. She was clearly natural in front of a room of people, which I learned throughout her talk must be from years of teaching.
She began by bringing up our theme for the year: “A Fierce Flourishing,” (which I am obsessed with, by the way). She read it, and declared,
I am FLOURISHING. But I can only say that today because of the power of transition. Change, transformation, metamorphosis – whatever you want to call it – it’s incredibly difficult, but it’s necessary.
She continued by telling us the story of her adult life.
She told the story of her marriage, the birth of her four children, the journey her career has taken her on, the move from their home of 12 years to a new home, and finally, how depression, anxiety, and panic attacks have played into that massive transition.
She also told us about the many tragedies she’s gone through:
- As a child, she experienced sexual abuse, which she began therapy for last year.
- Her and her husband’s first house was destroyed two weeks after moving in, by a tornado.
- She lost her second child after her water broke during her second trimester.
- She and her husband have both dealt with the sudden loss of close family members.
- Last year, she dealt with approximately 7 months of chronic, untreatable migraines, which led to depression, anxiety, and panic attacks.
She described last year (particularly those 7 months of therapy, migraines, and home-switching) as “a great valley.”
She wanted to escape. She wanted it to end. She wanted her old life back.
But, with a smile, she said:
I am so thankful for that valley, because I climbed my way up, and now I’m standing on top of a mountain. And I know that without that dark time, I wouldn’t be where I am today, standing on the other side, thankful for everything I have and everything I am.
This brave woman took steps, of course, to bring her to where she is today.
She visited with a doctor and began taking medication to bring her depression, anxiety, and panic attacks under control.
She began looking for beauty in small places – smelling the grass on a short walk, finding inspiration in a book, snuggling with her children.
She learned how to lean on her family, asking for help even when it feels selfish – allowing her husband to cook dinner even though it might mean “eating hot dogs instead of chicken cordon bleu” (her words, not mine! 😉 )
And finally, something that stuck with me – she learned how to step back. For a period of time, she said “no” to social engagements. She explained to her friends: “Hey, I’m just not in a great place right now – I need to pull back for a while,” and the ones that mattered, understood. She turned inward, and did what she described as “re-identifying.”
The thing is, we’re all going through changes and transitions – every minute of every day, things are always changing. That’s the nature of the world, isn’t it? It just keeps on turning and churning and doesn’t stop to give us time to figure things out.
It’s our job to “re-identify” every step of the way. Remain flexible, adjust, and keep moving forward.
We need to find our place in a constantly shifting reality.
Let me tell you something:
This idea struck a chord with me.
I’ve been struggling with something lately. I haven’t been able to put a name to it until today, and guess what? It’s this very same thing:
In the past few months, I’ve put a huge emphasis on self-exploration and mindfulness, and I’ve come to a few conclusions about my current self that have really surprised me:
- I’m not as extroverted as I thought I was,
- I have a tendency toward anxiety and depression, and
- I don’t enjoy teaching group fitness 100% of the time (probably because of #1).
This week, teaching 6 group fitness classes (and full-time mom-ing) has pushed me to a summit of exhaustion where I’m heavily feeling the need to re-identify and figure out: How am I feeling? What adjustments do I need to make? What will my day-to-day look like, going forward?
Right now, I’m re-identifying myself as an “army wife,” getting used to my husband being gone, even though I know it’s not forever. It’s for a season, and I want to make the most of it.
I’m re-identifying myself as a fitness instructor, asking myself the hard questions: do I teach because I enjoy teaching… or because I’ve been told my whole life how “outgoing” I am and how good I would be at it?
I’m re-identifying myself as a creator, recognizing that when I’m making something (be it a blog post, wall art, or baby mobile), I feel centered and calm, like I can speak to the world without actually having to say anything.
I don’t know yet where my transition will take me – odds are, I just need to step back a little and leave a bit more “wiggle room” in my day-to-day. I’m not too worried – things could be worse, and I’m thankful for these small struggles because I know they’re leading me closer to the person I’m made to be.
Transition is hard.
But it’s necessary.
Are you in a period of transformation?
Are you feeling yourself reaching a summit, where you’ll have to decide how to adjust and move forward?
Soon enough, you’ll be standing on top of your mountain, screaming, “I AM FLOURISHING!”