Pausing to breathe pic by Ithan Hurd
“When you think your life is falling apart, it’s usually falling together in disguise.”
― Charlotte Eriksson
“Sometimes, when I say “I’m okay,” I want someone to look me in the eyes, hug me tight, and say, “I know you’re not…”
I’m seated in the living room digging through the remnants of the fresh loaf of bread we had for breakfast. It’s 4pm and I’m wrapped head to toe in my pink Snuggie snarling at the weather. I’m not so sure why or even when bad weather started sending my emotions on a trip.
Perhaps it’s because rain in my parts means mud – like chocolate-fountain-thick-and-pray-you-don’t-trip kind of mud. And I hate it. Even when it’s dry, it crumbs up under shoes and sneaks into every corner of the house making hosting guests a mini-daytime horror. Hosting ladies at that. Every month. Sometimes more. But living here all our married life this far has made my don’t care bone strong. It’s the only way I get by guilt free.
I know because I’m staring at the mud crumbs that sneaked their way to corners of our living room that I’ll need to get to soon. After I’m done with the bread, of course. And that episode of Deception. I don’t know about you, but at some point, I stopped fretting. I stopped talking my heart off a ledge the night before hosting friends or wondering what people thought of me long after hugs and hellos once they walked through my door. I had to learn to try hard to not imagine what kind of host they said I was.Because truth is, I'm in love with and exhausted at my present reality so I'm okay and not okay with how my life looks like right now. And that's okay. Click To Tweet
At the start of the year at a gathering with friends and neighbours, everyone was wide eyed about their hopes and dreams. We shared the big things that we desired to happen this year and those that God said would happen for them and I nodded and clapped and celebrated only to go back home, slide into bed afraid to ask that question I always do to God when I feel behind in life.
“I’m doing okay, right? I’m not going to be stuck here, right?”
And I curl into God inconsolable, the only thing giving me comfort at the time is Big Daddy Weave’s ‘Hold Me Jesus’ song. Then I hear God tell me those words I’ve often wished I could trade for timelier ones.
He whispers, “I’m here,” and I can feel the knots in my chest relax. I can breathe again. The sobbing quiets.
He’s here in my brokenness picking up my messy and wiping snot off my face.
He says He’s here in this puddle of unfine that has seemed to string my life with longing and questions.
He’s here, unafraid of the holes and the bleeding and silent wondering.
Or that day when I sat on the bed and tried to put together words to tell my husband an ache and equal measure fear that was suffocating me. It was the final layer of the thing I’d spoke of over time. As I wrestled it out of my chest, blubbering and wailing and telling God where it aches before putting it in a sentence, I let it out my mouth after what seemed like hours.
“I’m afraid I don’t have a career.”
And I could finally breathe again. I was weightless.
That release debuted as a line on this post (which was a miracle because I swore to take that confession to my grave) so rolling away that gigantic stone from my heart chamber felt like flying. I was finally able to move past the sulking before God and mad daze planning 24/7 the best way to make my business a success. Yes, because I loved it, but underneath it, I was trying to validate my being out of conventional employment for what felt like fossil years.
So I pushed hard on the business because I needed it to work so badly so I could feel like less of a failure or less behind in my life or career path because I was deathly afraid of starting over. Again. At the bottom. Because I wasted years chasing a valid dream that didn’t materialize.
It’s why I stopped the business early this year. I no longer had the bandwidth. It’s why I left social media (and might not go back) because my heart would snap and save snippets of the lie (that still, unfortunately, feels true most days) that I’m wasting my time and years again on something that might not work. This cathartic habit of hanging linen online every week and writing books. And I needed to retreat and feed my dreams and not my fears.
Unfine according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary is defined as obsolete, of a wine lacking in flavour or severe weather. It’s the parts of us we’d rather hide and keep tucked in away from the view of others. We’d rather go for prim, awesome and made-up than the real here and now, however it looks like. So we rush to work through our stuff so we can show up more whole than broken because sometimes, everyone else looks like they have it all together when it feels like we’re drowning. And we’ll do anything to not be the Debbie Downer.
I guess we’re afraid of sharing our unfine and burrowing deep wells of friendship because we’re afraid that our friends will get tired of our season’s song. That we’ll sound like a never ending record of ‘The Weepies’ (who I adore btwz – pronounced bee, tee, dubz) or a real life play by play of Lamentations.
Oh Lamentations! Bless You Jesus for that Bible book and glimpses of agony and loving God in the same sentence! Bless You that You’re not afraid of my unfine. That You sing over me and with me. Bless You that You weep too. Lord bless You!
My unfine has taken many shapes the last few years and I suppose being in this so long has had me throw up hands and be the first to say it whether someone else whispers “me too” or not.
I have shared the gift of unfine with God, myself, my husband and a dear friend and slayed demons on my way through the thicket of life.
Unfine is being clad in a tank top and knickers rocking that MauMau hair on a stained sofa tippy typing on your laptop as your husband kisses you and calls you beautiful. It’s feeling so ravishing in that unmade up moment.
Unfine is hosting the church’s ladies fellowship in a tiny house where most will sit on the floor and trail dry mud through the house but also one where they’ll feel welcome, loved, seen and celebrated as they eat, commune and pray together.
Unfine is walking confidently into her office and swooning at her black jumpsuit and the way she wears confidence so effortlessly like it’s Chanel No 5 and miraculously giving coherent responses when you feel the hollow of the space between where you are and where you want to be next to her cool like summer demeanour.
Unfine is going for another pitch months later and politely smiling as you read between the lines on words that lean heavily on ‘No’ that doesn’t make its way out of her mouth. It’s being proud of yourself for showing up and pitching and listening and enjoying how she chuckles and offers you candy or water.
“Would you like it to lean more on hot or cold?”
“Hot,” you say. Such a sweetie!
Unfine is laughing at how out of pocket and tired you are because you spent your vacation money on camera equipment you’re not too sure you’ll use and choosing to make a mini-December vacation at your parents’ house extending through to the New Year, friends and all. And relishing the realization that you got the holiday without the buck. Ah! The stuff of dreams…
Unfine is acknowledging your mess at the meeting with married women where you don’t rush to share because you’re practicing pushing back tears and stringing sentences ‘al mismo tiempo‘ but letting it all come flooding out when you share your longing and pain as they speak honey words that God has spoken over you countless times.
Unfine is knowing you could be a better wife (for sure) but not punishing yourself for tripping through the marriage thing on a case by case basis.
Unfine is showing up before soul friends – bed head, messy, unmade up and choosing to not say those words that kill honest relationships when they ask how you’re doing. You know the words… “I’m fine.” It’s showing up raw, bleeding and weighted and walking out of the conversation lighter, freer and better for it even if you were the oversharer of the both of you.
Unfine is the quiet sigh missing in our female relationships that we mask with busyness and hiding. It’s the invitation to deeper that can turn strangers into instant friends. It’s the healing we all need.
And Lord knows we could all use some.
So I guess this is my unfine gift to you. Pass it on now, will you?