Hold on Loosely: What I learned in 2018

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2018 was a year of limp hands.

Fists clenched so tightly, were forced open – forced to let go.

While a painful lesson, there is a lot of freedom that comes from losing what you thought you couldn’t live without. Because I now know that I can – in fact – live without it. And I can, now, love more freely.

With palms open, not only can we receive much more than when they are closed, we can also allow what should no longer be there – to leave.

Goodbye stranger, goodbye stranger, I wish you all the best.

Ultimately, nothing really belongs to us. Life itself is a gift – something we received through no fault of our own – and something which can be taken from us at any moment; and will be gone inevitably, eventually.

Therefore, each day is a gift. Each day we are allowed to breathe and smile and cry and laugh, is something given to us and something we cannot hold on to too tightly….because it really wasn’t ours to begin with.

We are not our own. We didn’t have a say in when or how we got here and we won’t have a say in when or how we go.

Just as we are not our own, others – even more so – are not ours for the taking.

I learned that to those we come to know, we come to love, our hearts are much like our homes.

We can open the door and let them in, we can show them around and make them feel welcome. Some may stay only momentarily, so when they leave it is easy to go back to business as usual. Some, however, may stay for a while. Make themselves comfortable and become at home in ours.

We may become accustomed to their presence, attached to it. And even in those moments, we have to remember that most people will leave, eventually. Very few people come into our homes to stay forever. And even those who make themselves at home, who leave an imprint during their extended stay, will most likely show themselves out, at some point.

Down the highways, and the byways, may something bring you rest.

Their emptiness will be noted – we may grieve our loss for a while – look around at the house and find that it is not the same, maybe that it doesn’t even feel like home anymore. We may notice a scratch here or spill there caused by them at some point – and while we may resent it now that they are gone, this imperfection is proof that our house was lived in – that it was a home.

We cannot undo their visit, nor should we, as it is an important part of the history – and ultimately – identity of the place. A place that is not merely our own, a place that we had the courage to share with someone else – knowing that they could likely cause damage, that they would make it different by their presence – we are changed because of it.

You see, we could close off our homes to outsiders. We could lock the door and remain inside for the duration of our lives. We could glance out the window from time to time and wonder what it would be like if we threw the door open, but never take the risk.

However, to me an empty home is very dissatisfactory. Not a home, really. I think a home is at it’s best when full. To be a ‘home’ requires that someone be ‘at home’ there. And that is what I think our hearts are…homes.

And so, we can close the blinds and lock the doors – refusing anyone entrance for the sake of our own safety; or we can open the door to whomever knocks, and enjoy their stay – however long – seeing it as a gift, an opportunity to love without reservation or expectation of something in return.

So 2018 was a year of learning this hard-earned lesson. Of realizing that just because you let someone in, doesn’t mean they will stay. And just because they don’t stay, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have let them in.

I ain’t easy, but I ain’t cold

Come back my way if you’re feelin’ low.

Goodbye stranger

AB

2018 was a year of limp hands.

My hope for 2019 is that it will be a year of receptivity. A year of open hands, ready to receive whatever lands in them.

Whether it be for a brief visit, or an extended stay, or even a guest who decides to make my home theirs, I hope to be open and responsive to whomever shows up at my doorstep.

If this life is a gift – I think it is a gift that is best shared with others. Otherwise it ceases to be a gift and instead turns into a mere act of self-preservation.

This song, ‘Hold on Loosely’ was introduced to me months back while I was still grappling with my clenched fists. While at first it didn’t quite sink in, I have come to realize the wisdom that these lyrics hold.

It’s a song about the understanding that your loved ones are not an extension of yourself. They are ‘other’ and deserve to be treated as such. We can respect differences, admire their person and leave them plenty of room to breathe; room to choose us – freely.

I hope, in 2019, to have the courage to open the door. To make my home beautiful and keep it so, not for my own sake, but for the person who seeks rest and refuge there some day.

Because otherwise my home will be an empty one, which really isn’t a home at all, only a house.

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket — safe, dark, motionless, airless — it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside of Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.”

C.S. LEWIS

2018 had definitive highs and lows. But I guess that is life, and really how we grow. ‘A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.’

2019 is to be a year of hope. It’s a new beginning, a new chapter. We must be emptied before we can be filled, and in 2018 my hands were emptied.

There are good things ahead, dear friends.

What did you learn in 2018? And what are your dreams for 2019?

Hopefully,

Miranda 

The Breakup

*deeeep breath*

Oh how I wish this post was about the movie with Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaugh and not my own life right now.

The downside about blogging about your life is that you can’t just post about the fun/happy/photogenic moments (I mean I guess you could but it wouldn’t be very honest).

My worst nightmare became reality a few weeks ago when Nicholas and I sat down to have what became our final conversation as boyfriend and girlfriend.

And no, it did not end in engagement.

I’m a sensitive person (to put it mildly). I don’t date a lot and when I like someone, I really like them.

The hardest part right now is that I couldn’t really tell you why it didn’t work. I could give you a few reasons that may have contributed, but not really a good enough reason that would cause us to part ways. Unfortunately the reality is that -for whatever reason- it wasn’t working.

I could say that maybe one of us wasn’t trying hard enough, but I think we both tried as much as we could.

In any case I think in general we don’t understand a lot of things until much later.

The weekend following the breakup was brutal. It’s kind of funny because immediately after both of my breakups I’ve had some sort of youth group event. This time it was a weekend retreat with a group of eighth graders and as much as I desperately wanted to contact the leader and tell him I couldn’t make it, I reluctantly went.

In retrospect it was truly a blessing in disguise. Assisting lead a retreat for forty thirteen-year-olds forced me out of my head and shifted my focus. It also helped that the retreat center itself was one of the most beautiful and peaceful places in SC. Not only that, but one of my best friends and my brother both came as well, a huge game changer. Even though I had some pretty tough moments, I pulled through and I think the worst is over.

There is no point in trying to pretend that I’m okay, over it or have moved on. I’m not and I haven’t. It’s heartbreaking, confusing, frustrating and just plain sucks. I wish I could skip this part and go to when I start being okay again. I wish I couldn’t remember all the good times, or that I didn’t have to run into him around town. It hurts a lot and there is just no way around it. Unfortunately the only way through is through and there are thankfully some things that have helped me in this painful, painful time.

Moral support

Honestly I am one of the most blessed girls in the world. My friends and family are so true and so good to me. Everyone who knew what was going on has reached out to me, prayed for me and offered to talk or hang out if I wanted to. They’ve also followed up with me days after the fact and given me their consolation. I will tell you right now that friendships -close ones- are invaluable. People to celebrate the good and commiserate the bad with are an absolute necessity in your life. If you haven’t reached out to a good friend in a while or maybe you just moved to a new area, make the effort, reach out, do it. Life means very little without people on your team to share it with.

Self-care

It’s amazing how much a shower, a face mask, a new conditioner, getting your nails done, A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP, even cleaning your car will do for you. Seriously. I know that in rom-coms the girls going through breakups look like they haven’t showered in days but letting yourself go only makes it worse. Pick yourself up, be kind to yourself and show yourself some TLC (this is a good rule of thumb for any time of life, but especially difficult ones).

Social media fast

One of the first things that I did after the breakup (after crying, obviously) was delete the Instagram and Facebook apps off my phone. I knew the temptation to look for him on there, post something angry or dramatic or just scroll through old pictures of us would be overwhelming. Just give yourself a break. You can live a week or two without knowing what your friend from college that you haven’t talked to in five years is up to. You don’t need to see the engagement photos, the baby pics, the #mancrushmonday posts…you really don’t. That doesn’t mean you’re not happy for everyone else or that you’re somehow bitter, it just means that you need to experience what is going on without also comparing it to the highlight reel of everyone else you know.

Hope

The absolute worst thing you can do if you’re going through a hard time is despair. In breakups it’s easy: ‘no one will ever love me,’ ‘is there a guy out there for me’ ‘I’m not good enough’… these thoughts will consume you and take you down a deep, dark hole if you let them. Don’t. This isn’t it, there is more to come. No, it doesn’t make sense, no it’s not easy, but holding on to hope amidst the absolute most painful times is what will get you through it. Look at all the people that went through breakups and survived. Not only that, but the vast majority people who are happily married now experienced heartbreak at some point before. I haven’t given up on love, or men, or dating.

As difficult as it is, I trust that there is a bigger, better plan in place. I don’t know what it is right now and I don’t understand but that’s okay. Part of our creaturely-ness is that we’re not always in control of everything the way we’d like to be. We were created, we did not will our way into existence. Things will happen to us, good and bad, that we cannot control. We only have power over how we react. I do believe that we were made to love and be loved and that as long as we remember and are open to it, we will experience it. Keep hoping, keep trusting, keep fighting the good fight.

Courage, dear friends.

xo

Miranda

“We were legends
Loving you baby, it was heaven.
What everyone wondered we never questioned
Closed our eyes and took on the world together, do you remember?”