Why not stay home this summer? On our sweet island lined with giant oaks dripping with lazy breezy Spanish moss. With long low marshes twisting and winding towards the ocean. Neighbored by other tiny islands sprinkled along the coast, alive with wonder waiting to be discovered. With candy shops and bike paths and fried chicken. Toes in the waves and sandy sandwiches. Long naps and late nights and water slides. New books and drippy ice cream cones. It’s the stuff summer dreams are made of.
Of course it’s not all a sticky blur of ice cream and giggles and beach hair. There are tantrums and squabbling. We beg the 2 year old to go potty. We lose our cool. There are overtired wails and sugar crash meltdowns. Fussy babies and exhausted parents. It’s just a huge mess in the middle of pure sweetness. It’s beautiful but mundane and exciting but endless.
And this year, this summer, we chose to stay home. Opting not to travel or vacation. To find adventure at home. Save our money for another time. Maybe a trip when the baby is finished nursing. A logical decision. A hard decision for me, though. I adore our lovely little island, but I struggle to be still. I like to be in motion. I’m energized by new places and new people. I like to create change. See and do. Go.
When I moved to Boston I walked miles and miles alone, exploring and observing. Wandering and growing. For anyone who knows Boston, my first day there I walked from Allston to Cambridge and back. Not for exercise, just because I kept walking. I wound through neighborhoods and shops and people. I found a book store. Saw a movie. Ate lunch. No iPhone back then. Just the world. And me.
I did the same in New York and in Charlotte. Walking and watching. Immersing myself in the energy and newness of those places. Rambling. And learning.
Stillness is a challenge for me. A fear. A feat. I crave change and challenge and adventure. Steadiness is not in my make up. I start new ventures and take spontaneous trips and make big, life changing decisions with ease. I struggle with steady and constant. I won’t sit still and see through. I flit from one thing to the next. Always ideas, rarely execution.
I’ m working on stillness. But not in a daily routine kind of way. Because day to day? I say no often and am intentional about allowing for margin in our schedule. I want white space in our daily lives. And I create it and guard it well. But it’s the big stuff I move on. Big relocations and new projects and new jobs and even new babies. I make those life changing, big ticket decisions fast and often and easily. So I’m practicing a new kind of stillness now. The kind that’s big picture. Slow growth. Long play results.
And I’m realizing something about myself now, in St. Simons. Three years in. Longer than I’ve stayed anywhere in my whole adult life. I’m seeing that my natural state of change and movement and wandering - it’s essential. Vital. I not only withstand the big things, I thrive on the big things. Sometimes I choose the change and sometimes I don’t. But either way I am confident that I will transition with grace and strength. I can evolve and reinvent. Transform. It actually energizes me. I’m not flaky, like I once feared. I’m resilient. And my resilience keeps me moving and growing, bouncing back and changing direction. It can be a big physical change, like a relocation. Or an inward reinvention. My heart. Whatever major shift: inward or outward. I’m ready to begin. To take it on. I can do it. And I thrive on it. My resilience? It’s power. Power to thrive and to love my life. To see new beginnings and possibility in the midst of chaos and uncertainty. It’s my gift.
What I have to practice is perseverance. Holding tight. Not in the storm, but in the stillness. Going forward in small and unnoticed ways. Continuing to grind the slow grind of waiting and serving and living small. It’s not giving up. Not complacency. Not stuck. It’s still growth. Still becoming. But in a new way. A slower way. A harder way for me. A painful growth - to persevere. For me? Perseverance became essential when I became a parent. Is there any longer play? Any slower grind? Or any more critical contribution to the world than our commitment to raising our kids? We have to persevere. Through all the monotony. Through the tedious work of molding and tending little hearts. Perseverance is an unequivocal commitment to the deep and essential and slow work of motherhood. And it’s just as beautiful and necessary as my innate resilience.
Besides mothering, though? My marriage, my relationships, my own heart, my work with Selah, the life I’m creating. It all requires the duality of resilience and perseverance. Of transitioning through life’s challenges with ease and grace. Facing changing seasons and reinvention with energy and curiosity and confidence. That’s resilience. And perseverance? Showing up every single day, even when the progress is slow. Even when being all in is hard. When the work is unnoticed. When the long play stretches a lifetime but the results are eternal. That’s perseverance.
So I’m celebrating the beauty and the power of my innate resilience. Embracing my heart for adventure and my own constant transformation. And I’m leaning in to the hard growing pains of strengthening my perseverance. I’m unequivocally committing myself to the deep and slow and essential work of carefully tending what matters most - my marriage, my children, my relationships, my own heart and my heart’s work. These are the gifts God has purposed me for. So I will show up every single day. And put in the work. Even when it’s hard and painful and slow. I will do it because I’m meant to and because it matters.
That’s what I want to model for my daughters. A woman who isn’t afraid of big change. Who embraces newness and adventure. Who is comfortable with solitude and loves to wander. Who can bounce back and change course with grace. A woman who is resilient. And I want them to see a woman who is steady and constant. Who is comfortable with the long slow lessons that come from holding fast and staying course. A woman who is perseverant. I can be both. They can. We all can. If we can just bear the growing pains. We can rise again and again with resilience. And we can show up every day for the slow work of living a good and Godly life. We are that strong.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is - his good, pleasing, and perfect will. Romans 12:2