Friday, August 26, 2016

what's happening inside and how to like it

If I were to be honest with you, I’d tell you it started even before I went to Kenya. But I keep using my trip as the before and after, the reason, the tipping point. The start of a season of transition. Because it was after I came that I found myself strolling into work later than usual, forgetting about important things and not really caring about others, wanting to eat more sugar than I have been lately (and not exercising much restraint). It was difficult to muster up much energy do things I don’t like doing or have much discipline. I cried at odd things, including in front of my boss. Strange things were happening.

I felt unfamiliar to myself, which is a scary place to be in, at least for someone like me who thrives on control and structure. So I searched for a metaphor to give me a picture or framework for what was happening. Unable to understand it myself, I asked the Spirit and the thought that came to mind was those early stages of pregnancy, when a woman’s tastes change so dramatically. I once worked with a woman who could only stomach McDonald's in those first few months. Another friend had craved only Swedish Fish. I get it, I thought. I knew that not all my behavior was helpful or healthy, but I had so little energy to redirect myself. They both told me they ate what they could to just keep going. I understood that what they were saying is this: You might think that living with respect to the thing growing in you means eating healthy, but sometimes it means, at least at first, just hanging on. Because that thing growing in you is going to change everything.

This morning, when I was turning some of these ideas around in my head, I kept confusing the word transition for transformation. Maybe that word is more fitting anyway. It’s not so much a moving from one thing to another but instead, being changed inwardly, taking on a new form. The metaphor is overused: a caterpillar transforming into a butterfly. But I can’t get away from that idea of being able to ride the wind.

I’d like to tell you that this transition/transformation is the result of circumstances around me. There are changes at work, new friendships, some after-happenings from Kenya that have me busy and excited. But I go back to that metaphor I was given and remember that pregnancy speaks of something new inside. It is the inner shifting and growing that I want to follow and allow to shape the circumstances, not the other way around.

I started this post thinking I’d put together some kind of fun or smart list of things to do in transition. Good habits to keep, things to consume, things like that. I’d share the podcasts I’m listening to or the dietary habits I’m (failing at) keeping. But I’ll be honest with you – I’m still in that McDonald’s-Swedish Fish stage where I’m keeping down what I can, not sure when I’ll feel as if I’m being tossed around on a boat in the middle of a storm. This thing growing in me, it’s hungry with desire, and I’m following it, trusting that it knows what it needs. 

(photo: pennsylania farm, taken a few days before Kenya)

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