Sometimes when I want to feel productive but don't want to get up off the couch, I sign into Pinterest and spend 15 minutes pinning recipes I will never make and mansions I will never build. After all my clicks and comments nothing has been created, but I feel like I have done something. As if somehow by categorizing and describing (in 480 characters or less!) others accomplishments I am able to make them my own. Silly really. But it relieves a little stress and allows me to go on with my day without committing homicide or doing something really serious, like drinking too much Diet Coke. People on Pinterest love recipes that involve quinoa, all DIY kids tents and they love, love, love any stylized quote. Every time I sign into my account the screen fills with things Audrey Hepburn and CS Lewis once said or at least thought about saying. Some are lovely, some pointless and many misspelled. Most seem to be set against some sort of oceanscape. Last week the hot quote (featured across various backgrounds of women exercising) read, If you are tired of starting over, stop giving up.
I read that little bit of accepted wisdom and felt truly, utterly defeated. An overreaction? Absolutely. I choose to blame my emotional response to an internet meme on 1. the fact that I am a woman (Sexist? Sure. True? Ummm, yes.) 2. too little Diet Coke in my daily diet and 3. the fact that I am a woman (really, it needs to be listed twice. We are too damn hard on ourselves.). Overreaction or no, I thought about those words for the rest of the day. Sometimes it seems that I walk a little ways up the hill, my eyes to the ground and one foot in front of another, in front of another, in front of another. And than always, every time, I look away for just a moment. Sometimes the distraction is a portion of the heaviness of life, most of the time it is something as light as the touch of a butterfly. It doesn't matter. By the time I look back, and it has always just been mere moments, I am back down at the bottom of that gosh darn hill. And then I have to begin again, one foot in front of another. Oh the waste of every moment now undone! I was tired of starting over. Finished with the same messes that I never seem to keep clean. Panicked about the plans I make and keep safely away from reality. Frustrated by the never changing problems in myself and in my marriage. Pinterest was right. I was tired of starting over, so that must mean I have been giving up.
So I gave up.
And then yesterday in church we sang my favorite hymn, Be Still, My Soul. The notes were familiar and the words well known, but they fell upon me and soothed me like a new, comfortable truth.
Be still, my soul: The Lord is on thy side; With patience bear thy cross of grief or pain. Leave to thy God to order and provide; In ev'ry change he faithful will remain. Be still, my soul: Thy best, thy heav'nly Friend Thru thorny ways leads to a joyful end.
Be still, my soul: Thy God doth undertake To guide the future as he has the past. Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake; All now mysterious shall be bright at last. Be still, my soul: The waves and winds still know His voice who ruled them while he dwelt below.
Be still, my soul: The hour is hast'ning on When we shall be forever with the Lord, When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone, Sorrow forgot, love's purest joys restored. Be still, my soul: When change and tears are past, All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.
My goodness. I breathed deeply. I don't have to start over, I don't have to start over, I DON'T HAVE TO START OVER! Every mistake and flaw and maybe I ought to but never did has led me to this moment. I can choose to do differently, I can grow and change and seek higher ground, but I do not have to start over. I have never really gone back to the bottom of that hill. And blessing of all blessings, I am not alone. Be still, my soul. The Lord is on thy side...In every change, He faithful will remain. My sweet Heavenly Father, He weeps for me, hopes for me, smiles for me. Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake...Be still, my soul. There is nothing that cannot be done with the Lord by my side. The waves and winds still know His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below. The Lord of all things has faith in tiny, little me. Blessed, blessed girl. He knows where I have been and sees where I can go. All I have to do tomorrow is wake up and put one foot in front of the other.
Yeah, I can do that.