This October feels good. I feel awake and full of hope even while I'm a little bit afraid to breathe in my own house. Let me elaborate.
As many of you know, I have seven kids. Since most of them change their clothes about three times a day, and a piece of clothing coming into contact with my children's skin means said piece of clothing is now contaminated, our laundry piles are large and in charge. So when my washer or dryer doesn't cooperate, it really qualifies as a full-blown crisis for me. After being without a dryer for a month (I will not bore you with those details), and after discovering that no one wants to be my friend at the laundromat because I hog all the machines at once (therefore it is not the ideal opportunity for me to evangelize), I decided my entire life would change if I revamped my laundry room and had not one washer and a broken dryer, but two washers and two dryers.
Unfortunately, when we started the remodel, we discovered mold and all sorts of nastiness in the walls. I am now sniffling and having allergic reactions to these little toxins…hence my current fear of breathing deeply when I'm at home. My hearing has gotten funky because there's fluid behind my ears, and overall, it's a very annoying situation.
But here is what I know to be true in the midst of the crazy:
I had a speaking engagement the other night, and the topic was putting God first. My allergy symptoms hit a crescendo just before I needed to be there, and all I wanted to do was crawl into bed. But I decided to count on the fact that the material in the talk was actually true. I chose to bank on the truth that “I can do things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13) All I could do was get my body to the Church-to show up. The Holy Spirit would have to do the rest. I was about as limp as a glove on a table could possibly be. But God was faithful, as He always is, and gave me strength that was not my own.
Sometimes the best we can do is just to show up, but that is enough. Every single thing we do does not need to be worthy of a Facebook post or a Nobel peace prize. Small acts of faithfulness, done when we least feel like it, are collectively powerful.
A friend is going through a hard time and you don't know what to do or say? Just show up.
Are you feeling spiritually dry and going to Mass feels like a drag? Just show up.
Do your children's needs seem never-ending? Just show up.
Showing up is when we just say, here I am. I don't have much to offer, but what I've got is yours. There you are. I see you. I'm not here to fix you. I'm just going to be with you. That's how I'm going to love you today.
Here's the other thing I'm learning right now:
Being real and authentic is messy but it wakes up your soul and lets you feel alive and present.
When life is out of kilter, our ability to hold it all in and be perfect goes out the window. We end up being real and authentic whether we intend to or not.
I really like being in control, and my go-to preference has always been for people to see the best side of me at all times. But lately, I've been trying out saying what I really think. I've been quicker to admit that I don't know what I'm doing. I've been slower with dispensing advice. I've been doing more sitting in the disappointment with people than trying to fix their problems.
This feels messy. It doesn't feel like buttoned up, tidy living, but with each authentic conversation, each time that I venture out past what feels safe and into what feels more honest, my soul wakes up a little bit more.
I am feeling more alive and more present than I ever have. Instead of trying to rush to a solution that brings everything under control, I'm pausing and thinking about the fact that my fix might not be the right one-that I should listen for a little longer before jumping in with my words. And like I said, this doesn't feel nice. But I'm letting myself feel that and sit there for a little bit.
While this waking up of my heart is causing me to feel the hard stuff a little longer and more acutely, it is also waking me up to joy. I feel joy more than I ever have, and I'm sitting there a little longer, too. Instead of rushing past it, I'm grabbing hold of it and remembering that this is why we are here. This is what it means to really live.
In Galatians 4:15, Paul asks, “What has happened to all your joy?” This month, I've found it and embraced it, right in the middle of the crazy. It was hidden underneath all sorts of feelings and emotions, and I had to take the time to feel each one in order to get to it.
So this October, let's let ourselves off the hook and just show up. Let's be real and authentic, even when it feels messy. Let's breathe deeply, just not in my laundry room.