I’ve been thinking a lot lately about things. About the nature of surrender. About emotional freedom. About joy and sadness and contentment and grief. We are getting ready to build a larger house and move from the home we’ve lived in for more than 15 years. It’s time and we’re ready. But oh the memories that live here.
-Young couple finding their way through college and career.
-Meeting my biological father for the first time.
-First pets who belonged to no one but us.
-The decision to start a family.
-Bringing baby number one, then two, then three through that back door.
-Cool, fall days spent listening to my children giggle in the backyard.
-Warm, yummy smells of holidays and family meals.
-The door frame in the kitchen where everyone’s growth is marked.
-The huge, old magnolia tree in the backyard. Full in bloom with its sweet/spicy scent in all its pink and white glory.
-Stairs navigated in the dark to nurse a fussing baby, learning to walk, learning to crawl, lost teeth, snuggles in my bed, the big rocking chair, on the couch.
So many precious, happy memories. And my mind inevitably drifts to the not-so-happy times. . .
-Spider bite, ugly scars, so much pain.
-Healing, surgeries, more healing.
-The bug man, the pesticide, the fear of the spiders outweighing the fear of the pesticide.
-Car stolen from the driveway.
-Melody’s broken nose, blood all over the kitchen counter. Fear.
-Miscarriage. Grief and struggle and loss of faith and re-finding of faith and healing.
-Fear of miscarriage with every pregnancy pain and ache.
-Morning sickness that took months of real life away.
As I sit here and think about all these memories, good and bad, I realize how much they round out how I feel about this house. This home that has kept us safe and warm and content these almost 16 years. And I realize the deeper meaning.
I have spent so much of my life looking for that perfect moment. The moment where there is joy. Pure joy without the shadow of fear or sadness. Open arms. Running forward euphorically without trepidation and without being afraid to fall. And in these musings, I find a deeper truth.
The layers of sad and happy and grief and joy and fear and courage all make up the fabric of my life. And your life. Unfettered joy sounds divine, but is unattainable in this human state. And perhaps the deeper joy comes in the layers. To be able to hold grief and still feel love. To feel fear and still press on in courage. To allow the bittersweet of motherhood and growing up and growing older to sink fully into my heart in a way that brings depth and beauty and character.
And so my definition of freedom is changed. Freedom is the ability to hold all these things together in my heart and appreciate the dimensions. To find peace in the midst of the chaos that is a life well lived. To experience my life as fully as is within my power to do. To rejoice as my children grow bigger and stronger and healthy as I grieve the loss of baby snuggles and butterfly kisses and “Carry me, Mama.” Freedom is living life deeply immersed in all the emotions life has to offer. And appreciating the ability to carry joy into sadness. And the strength to bear fear into celebration. And grief into contentment. And love into loss. And all this is a freedom I once lacked but now embrace more times than not.
And so I strive to model this for my children. As Melody sobbed into my arms last night about leaving the only home she has ever known and all the memories left behind. . .and awoke this morning excited about having her own room. . .may I show her the beauty and grace of holding the depth and height and breadth of emotion all together in harmony. Because that is true freedom. And I’m so grateful that I have come to a place where I can appreciate that freedom in all its fullness.