Luke and I recently came across this quote from Alice Walker that we both found especially pertinent to our current lives:
“Some periods of our growth are so confusing that we don’t even recognize that growth is happening. . . . Whenever we grow, we tend to feel it, as a young seed must feel the weight and inertia of the earth as it seeks to break out of its shell on its way to becoming a plant. Often the feeling is anything but pleasant. But what is most unpleasant is the not knowing what is happening. Those long periods when something inside ourselves seems to be waiting, holding its breath, unsure about what the next step should be, eventually become the periods we wait for, for it is in those periods that we realize that we are being prepared for the next phase of our life and that, in all probability, a new level of the personality is about to be revealed.”
Since last fall, I have been that young seed, experiencing the weight of coming metamorphosis without fully understanding what was preparing to emerge. Each day, each month, has revealed some new growth, but I sense there is more—more lessons to be learned, more transformation to occur, more unpleasant-but-necessary changes that are about to be revealed.
Perhaps I am on the cusp of this all culminating in some obvious reveal. Or maybe this is simply being a human: always trembling with the inner changes that will blossom into the next stage and the next one and the next, right up until the day we meet our Maker.
While I allow the inner unseen growth to occur below my levels of consciousness, I am taking time to notice the things I can see that I have learned (or, more accurately, am learning) in this current season.
1. Medication can make a world of difference.
If you’ve been following my journey for long, you know that I have taken something of an emotional beating over the past half a year. Between anxiety, depression, panic attacks, and many more unidentified-yet-painful mental health struggles, I was exhaustively treading the emotional waters, struggling to stay afloat and frequently sinking beneath the surface of manageability. After resisting medication for as long as I could, I finally acknowledged that I was going to need some pharmaceutical assistance to move forward. I’ve been on antidepressants for over a month, and though I still have difficult moments, I’m having many more good days than bad ones now. I hadn’t even realized how low I had gotten until I started to experience this relief, and it is almost impossible to convey the freedom I feel as a result of this unburdening. While I know that medication isn’t always the necessary or best answer to mental health struggles, I am thankful to have this support in lightening my emotional load.
2. Having two toddlers who both walk is a LOT easier than having one who walks and one who doesn’t.
I’ve never been one to rush my children into growing up and have historically been completely fine with their general slowness to reach milestones. However, with Kali being a full-time walker since last December, I was VERY eager for Sully to join her, as the discrepancy in their mobility was logistically challenging on many levels. Sully finally transitioned to fully walking mid-April, and it really has been the game-changer I was hoping for. The twins play better together and are much happier now that they are once again on the same level, and having three children who all walk has completely transformed our outdoor activity options—in a good way!
3. Getting to know God better helps us know ourselves better.
You all know how much I love me a personality profile and some good self assessment, so my ears perked up when I heard this phrase on a podcast recently. I have not been able to stop thinking about it, and about what it means for my time with God: if the truest thing about me is that I am His creation, created in His image, then studying God’s character and getting to know Him well will provide me with the most important things I need to know about myself and my place in this world.
4. Becoming friends with stillness and silence is a process, but a worthwhile one.
This has been a theme for me in 2021. In pursuing “wonder” moments around me, I’ve spent less time on my phone, less time in my head, less time being busy, and more time just . . . being. These practices still do not come naturally to me, but they are becoming less uncomfortable, and I rarely regret the moments when I choose to push pause on the external stimulus to be present with what is happening around me.
5. Hail is CRAZY!
I thought I had experienced hail. Then we weathered a massive hailstorm in April that showed me what real hail is and the destruction it can cause. The storm was brief and unexpected, but in just a few minutes, those golfball-sized hailstones did a number on our car and our roof. And we didn’t even get the worst of it: some cars around us were totaled, and every house in my sister-in-law’s neighborhood needs a new roof. In 2021, Texas seems determined to prove it does not mess around when it comes to weather!
6. It is important for me to establish authority with my children.
Something I’ve wrestled with since my earliest days as a mom has been my “worthiness” as a flawed individual to impose boundaries and restrictions on my children. My insecurities tell me that I am not qualified to set expectations for their behavior, and doing so has often left me feeling guilty or hypocritical. But advice from a book I read last month is helping me see that setting boundaries with my kids is crucial, regardless of how I feel about it: “Our children absolutely deserve equal dignity. Just as you are a fully formed individual separate from your own parents, children are individuals in their own right, and they should be treated as such. But our kids are not our equals in knowledge, wisdom, or maturity. So they need us to draw boundaries and insist on outcomes at times. Over time, they’ll grow in maturity and self-control, and as they do, our need to manage their boundaries and behaviors can relax accordingly.” I’ve been keeping these words in mind as I discipline my children, and they have been helping me do the necessary thing even when it doesn’t feel right.
7. A big box of balls is the best entertainment.
My parents bought our kids a box of 200 plastic balls. They were intended for our bounce house/ball pit, but I’ve discovered that the balls on their own provide a wonderful afternoon of fun for my children. Charleston loves to toss them down the slide, the twins have fun throwing and chasing after them, and even picking them all up when we’re done makes for an exciting game. It just goes to prove something I’ve learned again and again as a parent: the simplest toys are often the best ones.
This list of what I learned this season is shorter than my usual end-of-season inventories. This itself might be a reflection of a powerful lesson I am learning about the truth in “less is more.” (A lesson that continues to be a lifetime in the making.)
Have you taken time lately to reflect on things you are learning? I would be honored if you would share a lesson or two with me!