rejoicing and mourning and waffles

It’s sort of a well-known fact about me that I don’t transition well between life seasons. In the “Top 3” for sure -- that and my fish phobia and compulsion to bring snacks to everything.

Anyway. I have somehow become my own character foil, in that I am transitioning like a champ right now. And I’m doing like seven transitions all at once! New job, new city, new living space, new church, new friends, new climate, new spin instructor (that one counts) – you name it, it’s new for me in this season. And those who know me really well have been asking how I’m doing, and then pulling back to sort of receive my meltdown that is sort of a little overdue seeing as we are approaching my one-month Greenvilleaversary (get into it). And the thing is, so have I! I’ve been purposefully blocking off certain times of the week to give my brain and emotions permission to overload. You know, typing it into iCal, “Have Seasonal Emotional Breakdown, Thursday at 5:00.” Just waiting for it. Because it’s coming, right? The catch. The struggle that renders me unable to deal with anything period. The sad spell. Depression and Loneliness, they’re going to creep in and do their thing. Annnnnny day now.

Except nope. No emotional breakdown. It's sort of weird. I’m like Linus waiting on The Great Pumpkin. Except now I'm like..."hang on a second; maybe it's not coming." Because I believed in Depression’s power so much for a while there that I walked around all the time waiting for it to come back at any given second. I had to be ready. Because, oh, it was coming. For so long I was conditioned to not trust good things. Good things, in my mind, came with a trick or a catch or caveat or strings or with the promise that bad things were coming right after. And so I focused on the impending doom and never experienced or even valued the good when it was there. And I never let myself get attached to the good because I knew it was leaving and didn’t want to be totally wrecked when it did. Even if things got better, it didn’t matter, because better wouldn’t last.

And when I look back, I’m not really seeing a time when I figured it all out and beat the system. The truth is, life is so up and down between good and bad that I’m going to miss the whole show if I keep focusing on discovering the formula that’ll tell me when which one is going to start or stop. That’s not a real formula. And so instead, I’ve decided to let the good in. All the way in. It might be there tomorrow, and it also might not, but I don’t want to waste time calculating when the good things will trade places with the hard things in my life again, as they inevitably do. I just want to enjoy the good. And I want to be 100% present and awake to it. I want to feel it beneath my feet and breathe it deeply into my lungs and laugh it loudly all the way out again and let it heal me and make me a more vibrant presence in the world. Because then maybe it’ll infect other people. And maybe those other people are dealing with their hard things right now. Yes. It’s much more helpful for everyone, I think, this way. Life just feels better this way.

It’s not better because I’m in Greenville now, as much as I like to attribute it to that. It’s not better because of a new church or new faces at the dinner table or my new job. Those are all factors of the betterness, but not the origins. It’s better because of all the stuff that came before I got to “better.” It’s better because of my honesty with myself, because of my willingness to deal with my own crap, and because all the crap taught me how to figure out how to stay afloat when things aren’t easy. It taught me that instead of lying and saying “It’s okay,” I can say “It’s okay that it’s not okay right now.” Because it’ll be okay again, I believe, but I need the people who can say “it’s okay” to remind me of that. And it taught me that we’ll always be in flux between mourning and rejoicing. And that there really is something to the whole “mourn with those who mourn, and rejoice with those who rejoice” thing. Because if I do that for other people, then other people will do that for me, and I think that's a situation where everybody wins. And that mourning and rejoicing hold hands.

I had my first dinner party here last week. It started with dinner and ended something like six hours later, well into the wee hours of the morning. I'd never met three of the people who came with the five people who I had. Isn't that the best? And my first overnight guest was a sweet friend who I haven't seen in two years, and we had dinner at Chipotle for three hours and then Belgian waffles and nine kinds of fruit for brunch with another sweet friend. And it felt like home. It felt like how I've always imagined home would feel like. It was like memory foam for life. Add that to the neighbors and daffodils and invitations and day planner full of meals and coffees and stories -- this is the stuff. This is my favorite part of life. I’m rejoicing. And that’s scary, because I don’t know how long it’ll last, but I love it and I want to get attached to it this time. It’s a risk, but it feels better than the old way.

Everything isn’t better because of the good; everything’s better because of the hard and the bad and the crap. Those are the things that made me discover my own buoyancy, my own ability to stay afloat, my unsinkable spirit that certainly felt sinkable for a season. The things that made me look at God and say, “Are you KIDDING ME?!” (with some other colorful words thrown in) are often the things I’m most thankful for. The mourning is what makes this rejoicing so much sweeter than it could have been. They’re the things that make waffles with friends a sacred morning of reconnection and healing and sweetness – a moment I’ll savor long after. They’re the things that make me smile and giggle and bounce around like a little kid, wiggly with joy.

I don’t think there’s a moment when you reach a 100% happiness capacity and then stay there forever. There are never gonna be times when you have absolutely everything you want to have, or have 100% of your questions answered. If you’re lucky, though, there are times when you’re so busy enjoying your own life that you’re not even concerned about what you don’t have or don’t know. Those times will blindside you over brunch and Belgian waffles with friends and stories, most likely.

Math was never my strong suit. Brunch, though, is another story.