Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay
I spent many years longing to have my own business doing some kind of creative work that would encourage and support people in some way.
It was a beautifully vague dream that I never made any progress toward making a reality because it felt too risky to upset my comfortable, safe life to reach for something like that.
It wasn't until my whole life fell apart several years ago—showing me that the "safe life" I'd created really wasn't all that safe at all—that I began to actually work toward making it happen.
Of course, it still took many years, many failures, much trial and error, heart-stopping risks, and more hard work than I thought I was capable of to make it happen, but I did it! It's been one of the many gifts of kintsugi gold that has come out of that devastation.
I am now living that dream that I longed for, prayed for, worked for, and ached for for so long, and you know what the funny thing is?
Here I am, living my dream, and yet I keep finding myself caught up in focusing on all the challenges and downsides that come with it.
I still keep looking to some future hypothetical state in which I will suddenly find it possible to live in perfect peace and problem-free happiness for all time.
It reminds me an awful lot of my experience with healing.
In the wake of the implosion of my life, all I wanted was to heal. I prayed for it. I longed for it with my whole being. I sought help to heal. I read about healing, wrote about healing, worked toward healing in a whole variety of ways.
I eventually discovered that as much as I thought I wanted healing, I really didn't like it all that much while in the midst of it.
I had this image of healing being like soothing bliss that would flow through me and wipe away all of my pain and suffering, leaving behind perfect peace, tranquility, and joy.
What healing actually turned out to be was more like physical therapy that threatened to wear me out before it made me better. Other times, it was like that infernal itch that develops as wounds close over and comes close to driving me mad before it's done.
It was grueling and exhausting and never-ending. For every sign that healing was happening, there were a dozen other pain points screaming for my attention, and they were often caused by the healing process itself.
Even now as I consider myself mostly healed from that shattering time, I still have days like these last few where I get triggered in a dozen little ways that show me where there are still sharp splinters of wounds hidden deep in my flesh that are working their way to the surface.
And just like with any splinter, I must dig into my own flesh (in a figurative sense) to get to it in order to pull it free so I can heal more completely.
It turns out that what I dreamed of wasn't actually healing; it was more like anesthesia. What I got was the healing I asked for in all of its messy, painful, challenging, lifelong process.
I heard a story recently on the Out of the Ordinary podcast by Lisa-Jo Baker and Christie Purifoy about this very thing, and I've not been able to get it out of my mind.
In Episode 2 of the podcast, "The Antidote to Dissatifaction," Lisa-Jo (who is originally from South Africa) tells a story of a large holiday dinner she attended in Zimbabwe in the midst of a devastating drought. (If you're into podcasts, I strongly recommend you listen to her tell this story herself. It's fantastic—as are all of the episodes in their podcast.)
The gist of the story is that they had set up to eat this large meal outside because of the size of the crowd, and just as they began eating, the skies opened in an intense downpour of rain.
Naturally, she jumped up ready to rush inside but noticed that no one else was moving. The rest of the diners continued to calmly sit there and eat their meal in this torrential downpour.
When she questioned their host about this, he reminded her of how long and fervently these people (most of whom were farmers directly impacted by the drought) had longed for and prayed for rain. Why would they move away from the answer to the prayers?
Although the torrential rain was a messy inconvenience in the middle of their meal, the fact remained that this was an answer to their prayers. It was exactly what they had longed for through the months of the drought.
It gave me the perfect image for all those times when I move away from the very things I've longed for just because they did not arrive in the packaging or the convenient delivery method I thought necessary.
I pray fervently for healing and then run to hide under cover as soon as it begins to rain down on my head.
I long for my own business and then grab an umbrella at the first sign of a sprinkle.
There is value in noting the hardships that come with these rain showers in the sense that only when I acknowledge the difficulties can I develop methods to address them, but when I let those difficulties and inconveniences make me forget what wondrous gifts I have already received in answer to my prayers and longings, I miss out.
I miss out on the many opportunities to live in gratitude. I miss out on the joy of the blessings I have already received. I miss out on the good things already present from past answers to prayer. I miss out on fully receiving all there is here and now to enjoy.
As I approach Thanksgiving Day here in the US tomorrow in a week that's been full of painful splinters and triggers, I'm holding close this image of being willing to stand in the rain I prayed for.
For every challenge I am facing, I am taking the time to note how it stems from the answer to a previous longing. For each splinter I'm digging out, I'm noting how it's a sign of how much has already healed.
I'm setting down my umbrella for the moment, and just standing in the rain of all that I have already received.
How are you moving away from the answers to your own prayers and longings?
What rain have you asked for and then hidden from when it arrived?
What would it look like to take a moment and just stand in the rain of all you have received and be grateful for it (even when its arrival might not look the way you imagined it would)?
I wish you all a day filled with gratitude for blessings received tomorrow, even if the day comes with challenges and difficulties (as families so often bring). Happy Thanksgiving!
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