I don’t usually do this. Impromptu blog posts. In fact, I can’t name another time in my entire blogging life I have done this. But here I am. Doing it.
I’ll get to this more in a minute, but the fact that I am writing this is made doubly ridiculous by the fact that I have never in my whole life wanted to quit blogging as much as I have in the past few weeks. Just quit everything and sign off the Internet for good. I told a friend on the phone the other day, “I’m not doing it. I’m out. I give up” to which he suggested I should probably go eat dinner and get a good night’s sleep.
But I woke up this morning, and I don’t know, I guess I just felt like I had some things I needed to say.
This is for me. And, well, if it helps you, all the better.
This morning, I’m reminding myself of a few things.
First, I’m reminding myself of what Marianne Williamson says about miracles—that they are sometimes a shift in circumstance, but more often they are a shift in perspective. And that when circumstances don’t turn out exactly how we wish they would, how we think they should, our only option left is to change our perspective.
And look, I am not talking just about politics here. Please, dear Lord, I need a break from talking about politics.
I’m talking about life and the world as it stands. The fact that things don’t always turn out exactly how we wish they would. The devastations, big and small. The fact that people all over the world are struggling and hurting. How it feels to be a woman in a world that is violent toward the softest part of who I am. That’s what I’m talking about.
About how many things feel wrong and how I wish they would change.
But of course it is at exactly at this point—when the things we want to change don’t change—that we discover changing perspective is actually harder, in ways, than changing our circumstance. More miraculous. Sure, curing Cancer or re-routing a wayward lover or restoring a relationship between a mother and a child—that would be miraculous. But choosing joy and peace and hope and gratitude in the face of not getting these things?
Well, that’s just crazy.
It’s a task of epic proportions. One for which we are not prepared. One we do not even really desire to undertake. Everything in our biology resists when we ask ourselves to change, when we ask our minds to change.
It seems absurd and impossible.
And of course, that is why it is called a miracle.
So I reminding myself of that this morning, that when things in my life and in this world are not going the way I wish they would, when I am not getting exactly what I want exactly when I think I should have it, when I can imagine a thousand better outcomes to any situation, a thousand outcomes that would seem more miraculous…
It is time to change my mind.
I change my mind from fear to love. I change my mind from chaos to peace. I do whatever I have to do. Sign off of social media. Pray without ceasing. Repeat mantras to myself over and over. Write them out a hundred times on a white board—like a high school kid in detention, “I am safe and protected in the world, my heart is in perfect harmony, my heart is in perfect harmony, my heart is in perfect harmony, I am safe and protected in the world, I am a force of love and peace, I am a force of love and peace.…”
Whatever I need to do—I just do it. Because if I’m not a miracle-worker in this world, then what am I? If I am an amazing writer, a successful business owner, a brilliant thinker, the most spiritually and physically disciplined of anyone I know, but have not LOVE, what the hell am I? That’s what I am reminding myself of this morning—how we can do all the right stuff, but without love, we are like a clanging symbol.
Just noise without meaning.
Without love, we make no sense and neither does the life we are leading.
So I am focusing on love this morning. Loving the marginalized and forgotten. Loving the arrogant and absurd. Loving the hateful and dishonest and despising. Loving myself, being gentle with this soft hurting creature that I am, loving my own arrogance and bitterness, because love is the only way to heal these wounds, and trusting that somewhere deep inside we are all that same soft hurting creature that I am. We are not alone.
Second, I reminding myself I really have two choices.
My two choices go like this, so simply: to give up or not to give up.
I mentioned earlier that I have wanted to give up on blogging and writing more in the past weeks of my life than ever before. I don’t say that to get sympathy. I’m not asking for compliments or affirmations. I’m only saying it because I think, when we’re honest with ourselves, we have to admit we all struggle with this sensation more often than we’d like to admit. The sense that we’re just going through the motions of this life and that nothing we do really matters.
Especially when things don’t turn out how we plan, or when life seems cloudy and dark, this is the time when it’s hardest to get up and keep doing our lives day after day.
And I guess the realization I’m having lately is that we really have two choices about this. The choices are so simple, it’s almost dumb. It’s just this: we can give up or not give up. We can keep going or not keep going. There is no middle ground. I’d like to think that there is a middle ground. That I can just sort of go through the motions of my life until I decide if I really want to be in it 100%.
But the truth is life is asking us this question, every day: are you going to show up—or not? Are you going to keep going, or not?
Are you going bring your whole self to the world, or are you going to hide?
Are you going to choose the pain of changing, or settle for the pain of staying the same?
The time we need hope the most is when it is most tempting to let it go. Hope is dangerous. It threatens to make fools out of us. It threatens to make a mockery of the life we choose for ourselves. Will anything we’re doing ever matter? Will our circumstances ever change? Well, there is really no way of knowing. So are you going to do it anyway?
And that’s what life is asking of us today. Are you going to keep hoping, or are you going to quit?
Third, I’m reminding myself that the way up is down.
This is the way Richard Rohr’s says it, and I love that. I’ve been repeating it to myself a dozen times a day lately: the way up is down.
But translated, into my language, it would go like this:
The way to be strong is to be soft. Just so, so soft.
I just recently spent a week at the beach working on a book, and as always, I was struck by how amazing the ocean is. I kept thinking about how water is literally one of the softest things on planet earth. So forgiving. You can fall into it, and it gives way to you. You become weightless when you’re surrounded by it, just so carried by it’s suppleness. If you took a drop of water and put it on the most tender part of your skin, you would hardly feel it.
It’s just so gentle.
Our bodies are made of 85% water. We use water to heal us, to nourish. It is literally our survival.
And yet when you look out at the ocean, there is no question: it is a force to be reckoned with. You can swim out into the ocean, if you want, thinking in all your arrogance, “Look at me! I’m a great swimmer, I’m fine, I’ve got this, I’m in control!” and you might be right… until the rip tide pulls you under and sucks you into itself and you become a part of it.
The ocean will make no apology for this.
It’s whole job is to still your arrogance.
And when you stand there, and realize your place in everything, all the fear and the bitterness and hatred and heaviness… it all just sort of melts away.
How can you stand at the edge of the ocean and not be in awe?
Anyway, I kept thinking about this as I stared out at the ocean—as I watched it do what it does everyday, just in and out, in and out, in and out. I thought about what happens when gentle, soft, healing, holy people come together like an ocean and agree to just move together. I thought about how we might just be able to be a force to be reckoned with. Not a violent force. Not an evil force. But a soft, gentle, consistent, in-and-out, showing up everyday kind of force.
An organism who’s entire existence serves to call people unto itself, to still our hearts and calm our minds and clean out all the arrogance.
Awe. Just so much awe.
I’m thinking so much lately about how to stay soft in the face of disappointments, in the face of fears and uncertainties and injustices—real fears and real uncertainties and real injustices. How on earth do we stay soft in light of all of these things? How on earth are we not suppose to just armor up and try to survive this crazy ride? That is the question I think life is asking us, right now. How?
Are you in? Or out?
Are you going to give up? Or are you going to keep going?
Are you going to keep hoping, even though you don’t know for sure?
Are you going to stay soft, even though it hurts?
I want to keep going. I want to choose hope. I want stay soft. I don’t want to give up. But some mornings, I don’t know how. I just don’t know how I can possibly make that happen. How I can change my mind about these things. How I can stay soft in this world and still survive.
I guess that’s why it’s called miracle.