Tag Archives: musings

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.

What is happiness?

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Being content with what you have–but more than content. Appreciating it. Enjoying it.

At this exact moment, I’m enjoying my coffee, brewed here at work in our fancy coffee machine (with beans roasted in the mountains of Colorado–yup–having a boss who is a coffee snob really pays off). I’m appreciative of my drive to work this morning–full of prayer. Twenty-five minutes of quiet, uninterrupted dialogue with God. I’m enjoying the warmth of the day, the soft fabric of my dress, and the harmony between myself and my co-workers.

Self-confidence–knowing you are beautifully created, uniquely gifted, and strong enough to fulfill your calling.

By God’s grace, when I get home from work today I will meet my husband and two kids with hugs and smiles, and jump into the work of the home with willingness, energy, and an unselfish spirit.

Anticipating the future with joy–not obsessing, or worrying, or fearing.

Whatever happens next year with my husband’s new round of job applications, and whether he becomes the breadwinner or I continue to bring home the bacon, I will fear no evil . . . because God is with me. He is charting my course using the same wisdom, creativity and strength he used to create the very universe (or multiverse? Ooooh. =)

Seeing the humor all around you.

My texting relationship with my sister Erica helps in this area. The past few days, we’ve been texting each other hilarious pictures of ourselves when we look our worst, or pics of our houses at the messiest. And then, you just gotta laugh. Especially when the autocorrect on her phone produces the following text: “Person who Broaddus meals Brought them — incredible. Chocolatey her.”

I will now endeavor to text the sentence “Chocolatey her” as often as possible in my life.

It’s the story that you tell yourself about your life.

So when you’re telling the story of your day, of a season, of your childhood–tell it with thought and care. Not foregoing honesty, but looking at the biggest picture of all, which casts life in the light of deep meaning, ultimate joy, refining periods of suffering, and ultimately, redemption.

A verse from Psalm 19 has been on my mind the past few weeks–I’ll paraphrase–“like a strong man runs his course with joy.” I want to be the strong woman, running the course laid out for me with joy.