Last week, I received a letter from a dear friend. She’d sent me this article about celebrating progress by Shauna Niequist (which is excellent, by the way) that I had originally shared with her over a year ago. It felt a little funny to be given it back, but I slowed my heart to read the words that were good and helpful then, and probably were now, if I’d let myself receive them.
As I read it, breathing deep of the truth, not glazing over it, not skimming over it with familiarity, I felt the Lord whisper to my heart. In that moment, I realized that I’ve been failing to celebrate my progress.
I’ve been dismissing it, quick to see my failings but missing my growth.
I haven’t been pausing to see the progress for what it is.
I see all that it is NOT and I’m upset and impatient with myself for not moving faster.
The day after the letter, I sat down with my journal and made a list. I stopped and named the growth, the small shoots of progress of recent days. I think I’m so afraid of getting a big head, of being the prideful buffoon I fear I am. But the truth is, that naming these victories is nothing more than naming what Jesus is doing, saying thank you for the grace. Naming these moments of growth is appreciating me being more fully myself, celebrating the good work Jesus has and is doing in me. I’m realizing that what IS prideful is not naming it, ironically enough. Not declaring the Lord’s goodness and kindness to me. Not declaring his help and provision. Not declaring how he is changing me.
Here’s some of my recent progress with the Lord, these shoots of growth, these tiny sprouts of becoming:
- Making dinner for people I don’t know from church next week
- Saying no, when I knew I needed to
- Choosing to protect my own wellness over being well thought of
- Saying yes to a nap
- Showing up for youth group
- Taking picture of beautiful flowers simply because it was life-giving
- Apologizing to L when I was impatient with her.
- Drinking more water
- Letting myself dream with the Lord
- Waiting to make dinner in order to chat with my husband
- Date nights
- Asking people to pray for me on hot mess days
- Writing when I’d rather read a book or fool around online
- Working out, especially when I don’t want to and feel ugly
- Asking Jesus for help for things that are hard, regardless how silly they may feel
- Being brave and setting a boundary, and sticking with it when it feels uncomfortable
- Painting my nails
- Making coffee and drinking it hot
- Journaling and spending time with the Lord
- Slowing my heart to enjoy reading to L
- Asking for what I need
- Asking for what I want
- More airplane mode
- More outside time and not minding if we get dirty
- Protecting Sabbath time
- Trying new recipes
As I wrote my list, I was struck by how much I actually like who I’m becoming, and I haven’t thought that in a long time. I’m usually too struck by how LOUD my feelings are, how much of a mess I am on days when the Hard happens.
But today, I’m able to step back and say that I like the direction that the Lord is taking me in. I’m able to see who I’m becoming.
I’m becoming someone who enjoys simple pleasures.
I’m becoming someone who is creating more, whether it be photos or food or blog posts.
I’m becoming someone who is asking for what I want and need, which is a big deal for a compliant heart like mine.
I am becoming someone who is doing less, to do the best things well.
I’m becoming someone who loves when I don’t want to or feel like it, when it is uncomfortable and costly.
I’m becoming someone who is resting more and is kinder to myself.
I’m becoming someone brave.
So often these days I feel like I don’t recognize myself and I don’t like seeing the weaker parts of me that constantly feel exposed in this season, as I cry myself through hot mess days. But as I write these things, this list of growth, I also see the courage in the midst of the mess, which is so difficult to glimpse in the moment. The Hard is so LOUD; it can feel impossible to find these tiny sprouts of becoming. But here they are.
The Hard is producing Good.
Jesus is working. Aslan is on the move. He’s helping me show up. He’s helping me in the pain of growing.
Today, I’m thanking him for this glimpse of myself, this look at the in-progress, messy beauty. I had a moment when I read through my list that I felt his delight, a smile and a look of love from his kind eyes, at these stumbling attempts towards him and who he has made me.
While I’m busy being bullied by shame, listening to shame tell me all the ways I’ve failed, he is holding out his arms to me in love, celebrating my tries, and offering me his help to have another go.
He is with me. He sees me. He is in my becoming. He helps me be brave.