the eye of the storm

My heart is a storm.

Dark and raging, swirling, battered by unrelenting waves that pound against my identity every second of every day .

Spinning, struggling, striving and confusion reign as the strong winds catch me once weakness sets in. Unprepared for the blow the gusts snatch me off my feet and now I am one with the storm. Tired of fighting, I give in to the swirling and let myself be carried away.

And then for a moment, all is quiet.

From a birds-eye view I see an image of myself in the eye of the storm, hunkered down. Knowing the storm is raging around me, yet I am at peace, I am calm.

The moment passes and the roar of the wind becomes deafening. The tightness in my chest grows larger as I wonder how I got stuck in the storm with no direction out. I am empty. I have nothing left to give since I have spent everything fighting the storm, fighting to regain control.

Be still, and I will fight for you, I hear.

I don’t have time for that, I say. Not today. Not really. You are not what I need right now. I can take care of it.

Notice the lilies, I hear. How they grow, yet they do not toil or spin. Are you not more valuable than they? Will I not clothe you with more beauty than they?

I am spinning because I have lost control. Yet, the truth is that I was never in control to begin with.

The tides are shifting. I can feel it. I can slowly see the winds change. I don’t know where the wind is blowing, and the unknown scares me. I have been spinning trying to chase the wind. I’ve been trying to chase it, and catch it, and bottle it up and point it only in the direction that I know and trust and makes sense.

Drenched and battered, exhausted, I crawled to the eye again this morning. I knew I couldn’t survive much longer like this; the waves in my heart and soul, on the verge of exploding and taking down every one in their path.

Do not be anxious, I heard. For who by worrying can add one hour to his life?

This time I listened. I confessed. I repented. And slowly my white-knuckle grip on control began to loosen. As it did, a gentle wind passed over me, chilling my cheeks and ruffling my hair as it gently stripped control from my fingers.

This time, I let it go without a fight.

seasons

The leaves on the tree that fills my living room window are slowly changing. Little specks of yellow are dancing around in the green before they gently float their way to rest on the ground three stories down.

It may still be in the 90’s, but signs that the season is changing are all around. The days are slowly getting shorter, Starbucks is selling pumpkin spice lattes, weekends are filled with football and the longing in my heart to wear boots and a scarf is growing larger.

Seasons change.

It’s one of those things about this life we live that we have no control over. We can’t stop the leaves from turning, or the freezing air from chilling our face. Flowers will bloom again, and the summer sun will  heat the air. And just as you start to believe it will never get cold again, you notice leaves falling.

The change is welcomed by some, hated by others, and walked through by all.

I’m not really a winter girl. Sure, I like to get cozy by a fire and drink hot chocolate. I like visiting my family in Philadelphia for the holidays and seeing actual snow. I like the sting on my cheeks when I step outside. And then about a month of that passes, and I’m ready for it to end. I’m ready for sunshine,  longer days, and swimsuits.

Despite my preference, the seasons change when they will.  I’ve currently walked through 24 winters, and no amount of despising the cold will keep that number from climbing one notch each year.

Life is a set of seasons. Some are filled with joy and freedom. The ones that make you feel like you’re on top of a mountain and can see for miles. Others are filled with broken hearts and lack of sleep. With days when it takes every ounce of energy and discipline to get out of bed.

Regardless of the season you’re in, there’s one thing you can count on: it will not always be like this.

For those of you in a hard season, those are sweet words. For those in a joyful season, sobering ones.

More and more I’m learning to accept the seasons as they come, and quit striving to control and change things I have no authority over. The season I’m in right now- the community we have, a steady job, writing more, being newly married – I’m not sure when it will end, but once it’s over my life will never again be exactly like it is right now.

I don’t want next summer to arrive only to discover that I missed out on fall, winter and spring. I want to live my life- every emotion, sound, taste, sight and experience. The crazy times and the peaceful ones- I want to engage with my life, to claim the season I’m in right now as exactly right. To spend my energy being present instead of exhausting myself by living in my dreams.

For me, this summer was a slow, calm season. Our calendars were pretty open. We took vacations, and spent many nights at home with no agenda. We went to bed early because we could. With the change of seasons, I can feel the hustle and bustle trying to overtake the calm. Our schedules are filling up, dinner is a shorter affair, we’re waking up earlier and going to sleep later.

The lessons of summer, of that slower time, are not lost. No instead, they are necessary for this next season. I find myself walking into the fall with a fresh perspective- one that says it’s ok to slow down, to rest. One that doesn’t define my worth by how productive or busy I am, but by the condition of my heart.

I’m walking into fall thankful- for the season that just ended and how it accomplished just what it needed to in my heart, for the season we’re stepping into and all the unknown that it holds.

*photo by the awesome, kate stafford