Hold On

“When you’re at the end of your rope, tie a knot and hold on”
― Theodore Roosevelt

retrieved from woman.thenest.com

I am sitting at the back of the Bayliner, watching the waves gently rock us to and fro as we idle in the water. Husband is at the helm, and I am flanked by three of our four children. The Other is awkwardly sitting in the river with water-skis attached to her feet. She bobs like a buoy as she awaits the pull of the boat. The call comes for her to ready herself and I can almost feel her nerves—taut and anxious as she grasps on the two-way handle-bar. There is a split-second, a moment where we all are unsure. Will she gain the momentum necessary? Will she hold on? Will she right herself in time? Will she let go?

We pull ahead with a forceful thrust and she dives into the water, side-long or head first. I cannot recall. This, an unplanned entry either the route. The same procedure begins again. The boat pulling around in a circle while the tow rope slowly makes its way towards her through the water. Her arms reaching and then grabbing onto the tow line, holding on as if for dear life. The tense moment of waiting and then the lunge forward.

The boat pulls as if hauling a butterfly. But she again is unable to manage the propulsion. She slips and topples back into the water. (Thankful for a patient teacher in her Dad.)

This holding on and letting go is taking its toll, is trying her patience; but I can see that she is determined. Even when the drift takes us into murky seaweed. Even when she falls for the eighth time. Even when. She is discouraged but not deterred.

One more try.

She finally makes it upright after her ninth attempt, and we all cheer ecstatically from the sidelines. You can see even from a distance that she is very pleased with this accomplishment. So she should be. She has held on and we are moving forward through clear waters, nothing but sunshine and blue skies overhead.

Holding on is hard work, but it is worth it. It requires grit, stamina, tenacity and determination. We have to have resolve. And when we let go our grasp, it is just as crucial that we reclaim our former position and hold on that much tighter the second, third, fourth time around. Because life is not just about holding on—it’s about getting back up again after we’ve had to let go.

There is much to fight for in this life, much for us to fight for and hold on to:

-Our sense of purpose
-Our independence
-Our freedom
-Justice
-Relationships
-The future
-Our faith in Providence and humanity

Whatever the reason that you are still holding on, take heart and keep on keeping on. Don’t be discouraged in your efforts. Holding on is tedious, strenuous work, but it is worth it. Holding keeps us positioned, enables us to move forward, brings us closer to our goals. Holding is the most difficult thing we might ever have to do, but when we fight for what we believe is worth it, we discover something else in the process: holding on is beneficial for our character, too. In holding, we develop courage. And courage gives us hope.

Whatever you are fighting to find or seeking to reclaim, just hold on.

You’ll make it.

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Who We Are

It is hard to understand the whys and hows of human relationships. Sometimes these interactions astound and touch my deepest parts for their tremendous propensity to kindness. And yet sometimes they disappoint beyond what mere words can express.

Why are our connections with one another so prone to such wild swings of the pendulum?

For here we are, all just walking around inside our little outward shell, thin veneer- pretending to be brave when we don’t always feel brave. Pretending to be strong when we don’t always feel strong. Putting on our game face even when the game is over. Showing up even when we don’t have the strength to take another step. We are all, I believe, giving this ‘here and now’ our best shot- this moment, this day, this life. We are who we are- cover-ups, disguises, masks and all. Doing what we have to so as to keep our head above water, to stay afloat. And it’s a hard-knock life sometimes. Hard enough trying to get by without having another soul, another Body: push you over. Knock you down. Hard enough trying to be a person living through the day without having another soul, another Body step all over you. Rain on your parade.

Isn’t it high time we gave each other a chance?

Is it so hard to see ourselves, our weakness- as through viewing our brother’s face? So hard to see our own proclivity to sorrow by looking in our sister’s eye?

She orders a coffee and a chicken sandwich for her husband. And all the while, she is given the five-star treatment by the waitress on duty. No request denied, no favor spared. She is Chosen. Somehow, special. But when it comes to him- he who is different, suddenly the mood alters. The temperature drops or so it seems. He who is seen as ‘other’ is disdained, disparaged, despised. She wonders, as she waits for the remainder of her order: why? Why him? Why her? Why such vast discrepancy? Why is she singled out to receive the good and he left to suffer the mockery, the subtle abuse? Why such different treatment when the same blood that courses through her veins, pumps slow and steady through his also?

Are we that blind that we can no longer see each other for who we truly are?

And who are we anyway? Who were we made to be?

We were made to be His Beloved. Loved, cherished, held, treasured. Longed for by the Father and precious in His sight. And when He sees us, He sees the beauty in the workmanship, the exquisite detail in the masterpiece. He sees us for the value and worth and tremendous significance we were designed for.

Each one of us.

And He doesn’t judge us for the fading shell without, that holds us.  Piece by fragile piece.  That damaged armor we wear to protect, we put on so to endure.  Doesn’t judge us for our persona.  Our outward presentation- He just loves us.  Loves us for the lasting treasure we are within.

And because He loves us, we too can love. Wildly, unabashedly, freely- with abandon.

We are free to love each other.

We are Loved.

Arms Outstretched and Hands Raised

Last night was kind of the crowning glory for me.  A moment in time when I wanted the ground to open up and swallow me whole.  And to be sure.  I have had my fair share of awkward moments.  Moments when my truly funny life has imitated fiction.  Watch me in action for about five minutes and you could probably catch me doing something just a little left of center.   We fools are probably why they formed channels like TLC.   We’re just a little bit on the special side.

Adorable, but special nonetheless.

So I guess it could be said- there have been one too many times in my insanely crazy real life when real life has imitated art.  As long as you understand that the art I am talking about is a very entertaining (albeit low-budget) television reality show.  (Shout out to the Duggars… love you guys!!)

But physically mistaking my friend’s husband for my own has got to be a low point of the week thus far.  Even for me.   I made contact with the poor guy’s shoulder…!  Yes, it could’ve been worse.  Thank the Lord for that.  And yet.  This embarrassing faux pas has got even me wondering: what next?  How am I going to top that one?  If only…I hadn’t been rubbing his shoulder…if only I had caught myself before making contact.  If only Brian and half of West Price had not witnessed the event….   If only.  So much embarrassment could have been saved.  But nevertheless.  The ‘if only’ is not what happened.  Obviously.  And here I am to tell the tale.

What next?  Can there be any lower levels to reach?    I am already lying face down at the bottom of the barrel.

So it wouldn’t be surprising to any of you, now would it, that I was again late for work this morning.  I should just shoot myself and call it a draw.  This is becoming a habitual rite of passage for me, transitioning from my home self to my professional self.  I feel like one of those old time coal engines that take their good ole’ time warming up.  And when they reach full steam, look out.  They cannot be stopped.

This morning was the usual busy morning.  Rushing, meltdowns, fights over clothing.

Yadda, yadda.  The works.

But what was different this morning was I had actually convinced myself that I would be on time today.  (Stop laughing, fellow co-workers.)  I felt like I really had a fighting chance of arriving at work before the expected check-in preliminaries, for a lovely change.  Everything was seemingly lined up in my favor.  I had an extra hour today to play with, an extra hour within which to arrive.  So it should naturally follow, if ‘one’ had so much extra time on their hands that ‘one’ would thus arrive at work at the very least, before their first meeting of the day.

Should’ve, could’ve, would’ve.  And it should be noted: I am ‘one’ gal who has always been the exception to the rule.

So.  Since I did not arrive on time… but instead arrived late (5-7 minutes late, to be exact…but who’s counting), and since I missed the introductory staff meeting, as well as my first grade level meeting (very small short meeting)… I was extremely disappointed in myself.  Frustrated would be another choice word.  And so it was.   That I spent the majority of the morning berating myself and beating myself up for my ineptitude and uselessness.  Telling myself I was incompetent and a total let-down to my profession.  What.a.jerk.    (And this is just my day job.  Don’t get me started on the other slack areas of my life….)

About half-way through the morning, I made a trek up to the office.  Sheepishly looking around to see who was watching, all the while wondering if I would ever be able to arrive ANYWHERE, ever again…on time.   And so, I decided to unload all my feelings and frustrations on the very capable and caring shoulders of our amazing secretary.  And as I proceeded to tell her the very many ways in which I felt I was unable to live up to my expectations of myself (not to mention the expectations everyone else probably had of me), the conversation took a turn.  It swerved away from me apologizing over and over again for all the failures in my life and instead started heading in a direction I like to call ‘forgiveness’.  Grace.  Acceptance.  Toward a place where a body can say to themselves,

“You know what?  You’re not perfect, girlfriend, and you never will be.  So why don’t you start forgiving yourself your failures and start concentrating on what you’re doing right.  And while you’re at it, start learning to say NO.  YOU ARE TIRED, girlfriend!  You need to cut yourself some slack!  If you drop a few of the balls you have in the air, nobody is going to be the worse for the wear.  Stop trying to live up to everyone’s expectations and start setting some limits for yourself.  And while you’re at it, do something nice for yourself this weekend.  Get a coffee just for the fun of it.  Buy something pretty.  Read a book.  Go for a drive.  Call up some friends.  Laugh.  Love.  Live.  YOU DESERVE IT!!!”

And I don’t know about you, but I kinda like the view from that place- from GRACE.  From Forgiveness.  From self-acceptance.  Because it is so freeing when you tell yourself that you’re okay.  Just the way you are.

And I tell you all this because?

I don’t want to hide my life behind a facade pretending to be something I am not.  I am exactly what you read: a bumbling fool most of the time, but for the other twenty-five percent of the time, I am a girl who is learning to love herself.  Flaws and all.  And I think that when we take down the walls that hide our true selves from public view, we come to discover…we are all essentially alike.  We have insecurities, flaws, un-met expectations of ourselves.  We do embarrassing things.  We mess up.  We live crazy lives.  We are a work in progress.  And if we can share with each other a small portion of ourselves, it might encourage us all to live life as if we had no secrets.

And life stripped of all that baggage- those feelings of inadequacy and failure and incompetence and disappointment, is SO MUCH BETTER than hiding behind a false barrier.

We need to live life in view.  Maybe not as in full view as I do (I have pretty much no pride left- my dirty laundry is hanging out for all the world to see baby.  And those hip-hugging puppies are not pretty, let me tell you.)  But let’s be serious: we are so very much the same and we can learn so much from one another when we come out from our hiding places.  When we live our lives with arms outstretched and hands lifted.  And we stop hiding who we truly are.