I have a hard time with transition and change. I tend to always look for a place to anchor, and to stay. But that is not how life happens. I blogged at the conclusion of 2017 and 2018 and shared some of my learning in years of transition, hard decisions, surprises, challenges, and celebrations. 2019 is not so different from the previous two years, but I am focused on my anchor and floating above the water.
And so, we come to the last in my series. If I could grab your face and hold it in my hands to make you hear this last strategy, I would. Dear sister, change is inevitable, and growth is hard, BUT we are called to progress. Progress regardless of the road, progress regardless of the circumstances, progress regardless of someone else’s decisions, progress regardless of loss, progress regardless of abundance, progress. That kind of progress requires something that I often lose sight of.
Progress, as it is intended, requires the ability to anchor oneself in hope and float above whatever life brings.
I have a fear of deep water. Even deep pool water. But ocean water is the most fearful. In my early years of staying at home with my littles, I did a sprint triathlon in Santa Barbara, twice, maybe three times. Each time, I trained hard. And each time swimming in the open water took me out. The first time I hyperventilated and doggy-paddled the distance. The second time was basically the same, but I had a friend having a harder time than me, so I side-stroked with her, very happy to do so. I just can’t get my face in the water. A lot goes on below the surface of the water; whole ecosystems thrive, animals swim, things grow, things get eaten and you cannot see what is in front of you. I prefer the above. I prefer a boat that is anchored, allowing me to float above the changes, transitions, abundance, and scarcity.
One of my favorite quotes from one of the most poignant writers I have encountered says, “We have been called to be fruitful – not successful, not productive, not accomplished. Success comes from strength, stress, and human effort. Fruitfulness comes from vulnerability and the admission of our own weakness.” -Henri Nouwen
If we acknowledge our vulnerability and admit our weaknesses, we have no choice but to anchor our heart and hopes in God. Henri Nouwen wrote about the concept of abiding in Christ. To abide is to dwell in, constantly, not to just walk alongside or to reach out when needed. It is a state of being. And when we abide, we anchor and then float. This floating is what enables our growth. We float because we are anchored and that enables us to not be pulled down by any circumstance, environment, change or joy. As we float we grow through our life experiences because we have a higher sense of belonging; a sense of abiding in the one and only life-giving source.
In reflection, the times in my life when I was the lowest, hit the hardest, or feeling the most stuck, was when I jumped out of the boat and thought I could swim in the ocean by myself. And I can’t even get my face in the water! So, I doggy-paddle back to the boat and climb in, wet and exhausted, spent from the battle. Soon I begin to feel the rolling swells of the waves that rock me into a peaceful state. The sun warms my face and heart, calms my mind and I experience, once again, the comfort of safely being anchored. That is how I choose to do 2019, and that my sister, is how I encourage you to do life.
The ocean is filled with beauty, as is our life. There are gifts everywhere and in every circumstance. If we micro-focus on the effort or the problem or the shock or even the abundance, we miss something. So, I encourage you to keep your toe in the water, settle in but don’t settle, journey with adventure, remember your shoes, enter with intention, find some heroes and anchor and float.
“There is no such thing as the right place, the right job, the right calling or ministry. I can be happy or unhappy in all situations. I am sure of it because I have been. I have felt distraught and joyful in situations of abundance as well as poverty, in situations of popularity and anonymity, in situations of success and failure. The difference was never based on the situation itself but on my state of mind and heart…We can only survive our world when we trust that God knows us more intimately than we know ourselves.”
Have courage, dear heart. Anchor yourself and enjoy the ride!
By His Grace