Monthly Archives: March 2017

Living in the middle of the story

It’s always easier to write about completed journeys.

And I love reading about them! Ben was sick . . . now he’s healthy. I was miserable . . . now I’m happy. I was querying my novel . . . now I’m published and a movie of my book is being made AS WE SPEAK (not).

I was . . . now I am.

But when you’re in the midst of something, sometimes it’s hard to even know how to talk about it with others–or even to yourself. There’s not always a particular lesson you can share. A particular feel-good point you can make. There’s definitely no satisfying conclusion. So how do you talk about journeys you’re in the middle of?

I think it requires a particular kind of vulnerability to say, I haven’t arrived. There are no guarantees I even will. In fact, the arrival point may have been a mirage to begin with.

But I find that when I can be honest about where I am, there’s a kind of freedom.

Because, isn’t that life? A story that’s never complete? A story with twists and turns you can’t see around?

Does the road straighten out ahead–does it dip, or climb? You just don’t know.

I want to get better about talking about that–the uncertainty, the lows, and yes, the sometimes sadness.

After all, who am I keeping up appearances for?

Myself, maybe. At the root of it. There’s a version of myself I happen to really like–confident, creative Jenna. The Jenna who’s getting stuff done, making healthy meals, finishing manuscripts, putting herself out there, connecting with people at heart-level, eating sushi, crying when a good song plays and devouring incredible books. And overall, having energy for it all–for my family, my friends, my creative projects. That’s the essence of it–somehow who’s overflowing with abundance at a soul-level.

Is that me? Yes.

The true me, at least. The me I was made to be.

Is that me today? Doesn’t feel like it.

I suppose there’s a fine line between keeping up appearances and striving to be your best self. Between being true to ourselves and honest about our particular point in the road. Between not questioning the essence of who we are–but allowing ourselves to be complex and nuanced and messy and unresolved humans.

Without God in the picture, this is where my thoughts devolve into a big mush.

Thankfully, God.

Which I think leads me here:

Ultimately, I am a work in progress–His work. Which I participate in every day. He has made me new–but I am not perfect. He has given me an essence–creative, an enjoyer of things, a lover of people–but I will not realize that fully every day. Ultimately, that’s okay. Because though I am weak, He is strong. Though I am lost, He is not. Though I can’t see the path, He can. Though I can’t see the purpose to feeling stalled-out, He has promised to make everything purposeful for those who love him. I am convinced that He will waste nothing–not a single tear or stalled-out minute–but will use it all (even my imperfection) to wind my story more tightly into His. Which is a story of salvation, redemption, beauty after ashes, strength in weakness. A story that ends around a dinner table with aged wines and delicious, rich food, laughter instead of tears, happy faces and full stomachs. With family.

So I’m on a path. I have no idea what life holds for me–or even the next hour. But I do know how the story ends, and the One who’s guiding it.

That’s the arrival point. Not feeling happy again (though I hope to), not getting published (though I hope to), not achieving this or that . . . but ending it all around that table where I’ll look into the eyes of the One who loves me best and say, ‘here I am.’ The place I was headed all along, even when it felt like I was sitting still.

It’s okay that I’m sad right now. It’s okay that I’m hitting bumps in the road with my creative process. I don’t know what part it plays, but I have a God who turns the otherwise pointless, the sad, and even the tragic into something new.

And I can’t wait to get to his dinner table.

Though I plan on enjoying all the dinner tables on the way there.

Just sad

2017 has been a dragging, sad kind of year for me.

There is no reason.

I have a beautiful, healthy family–a great husband (seriously), two kiddos and another beautiful baby on the way. I have a good Father in heaven. I have all of my needs and many of my wants. I have a great job, a great church, great friends. I’ve had no big losses recently, no big scares. Life is stable. Things are good. Why oh why am I sad?

On some mornings, when we do the kid trade-off and it’s my turn to go upstairs to get dressed and ready for the day, I just sit on the edge of the bed feeling paralyzed. Like maybe I can’t even bring myself to move–not even to walk over to the bathroom.

It makes me crazy, this feeling that I’m not in control of my emotions. That I can’t bully myself, cajole myself or even trick myself back into happiness (I’ve tried).

The guilt just adds to it–guilt over being a burden to my husband, who shouldn’t have to deal with my irrational emotions after a long day taking care of kids and house. That’s not what he signed up for, right?

(um, he says he did)

I love having fun. I love laughing. I love delighting in the ordinary. I want to be vibrant, energetic, passionate. I want to enjoy everything, from little to big–from my first cup of coffee to the feeling of Benjamin’s solid little one-year-old body in my lap. But all feelings of delight and joy have been smothered by a cold fog that leaves me moving through my day half-senseless.

The voice in my head says,

What’s your problem.

Why can’t you get your act together.

You’re pathetic.



Sometimes my husband tries to cheer me up–and it works.

Other times, I don’t want to be cheered up–it takes too much effort on everyone’s part, mine included. Those days, after the kids are in bed, I just want to go straight to bed with a book and disappear into someone else’s world.

(Thank God for good books.)

If anything, these past months are giving me a renewed empathy for those who have walked or are walking through depression. When you’re bouncing about your life, happiness feels easy. Those who don’t have it perhaps are doing something wrong?

But no.

And after all, maybe why am I sad is the wrong question to ask.

Maybe there is no question–or answer.

Maybe it’s just sad.

And I’m there.