I felt the tapping on my shoulder like a persistent, obnoxious friend.
I kept trying to shake it away, ignore it, pretend it didn’t exist until it finally became something demanding my attention, refusing to be silenced. I have been determined to just leave it be. Lay it down and embrace a new year. But it has surfaced in ways I didn’t expect it to, unacknowledged transition, waiting in the wings.
The past had to be acknowledged before it could be grieved, forgiven, and forgotten.
I have alot of emotion and feelings and thoughts about this culmination of a decade. Things that have yet to be processed and that I don’t quite understand. In some ways I feel less sure of myself than when I was 20. Or maybe more aware of how much I don’t know about life.
My 20’s held almost every type of interaction, event, and feeling I could ever wish for. Except for the ones I wanted more than anything else. That moment of promising my life to another and bringing a new life into this world. Of all the things I thought would happen in my 20’s, those were the two I wanted the most.
I had a little bit of a freak-out a few nights before my 29th birthday. My dear friend Bailey came over and sat with me while a jumbled mix of words and tears and anger and panic came pouring out. She listened. She nodded. She let my stream-of-consciousness be voiced outside of the manic of my mind.
And then she zeroed on my control issues. In the gentlest way and full of love and grace she called me to the carpet in the ways I don’t trust Jesus.
It silenced the frenzy in my mind.
You see, periodically in my life I’ve set benchmarks. Have you ever done that? I do it in simple ways of running to the next curb or just eating that one last vegetable to big ways — ticking off friends in my mind who as long as they stay single, I’m probably okay. Or if I’m not married by this age I will start to worry.
I hold my benchmarks and my dates and my expectations and let their boundaries define and worry me. I worship them. I tell them they have all the power in my life. Another idol I bow my knees to. They became my way to control my fear of being alone, of being single, of being childless.
The last year has completely destroyed my “benchmarks.”
So as I’ve been shifting into a new year and eventually into a new decade, I looked around to grab at something to anchor me. And I found none of the things I’ve been used to holding on to. Which sent me into a tailspin of panic.
But as my health waned and I found something else to focus on, I found a surprising emotion.
I found grief.
Growing up I had plenty of expectations and assumptions of what my 20’s would look like. They would have marriage and babies and maybe a job and all the things. They wouldn’t have job layoffs and death and breakups and cross country moves and trips around the world and people and writing and health issues. Sure, I knew there would be hard, but I expected it in a footnote kind of way.
But this grief has showed up at the surface of my heart.
Grieving a decade of hope deferred.
Grieving a decade of unmet desires.
Grieving a decade of disappointment.
To be honest, I had no thoughts or plans for 30. I had no ideas or hopes or carefully constructed narratives. Literally nothing.
So I find myself in a transition of sorts — grieving deeply for a decade of desires but also realizing that this future life has no plans or expectations, no benchmarks or dates. But also finding the sun breaking on the horizon. Wanting to give my heart what it needs to say goodbye to this decade of life but also feeling a bubble of anticipation. Of hearing the whisper, do you see it? do you see the pink in this sunrise? do you see that Dawn is coming.
I battle and I live in the tension and I do it badly one day and okay the next. I get mad at the men who weren’t it and excited for the realization that I have no one else to consider when I think about what my Kingdom calling might be. I go on dates and then swear off dating only to go on another date. I feel like David in the Psalms when he is the the pit of despair one moment and dancing in the street the next.
I ebb and flow between grief and excitement and terror and joy and hope.
And then when I look back, I let the past be exactly what it is and what it needs to be and I wait to see what pieces Papa will take to bring into my 30’s to tell His story. And really, at the end of the day, I long for nothing more.
And then the beat comes
And then she’s moving on the dance floor
And I wonder what she’s running from
If it’ll catch her
her heart is broken
but she won’t say that
her heart is broken
But she can’t go back
she won’t go back