One of life’s arenas that has a history of scratching at my trust is one I’ll call Impact: how much, or how little, I’m changing the world. I tend to feel like life is good when I’m contributing tangibly and obviously to people beyond my own home, and to feel restless and moorless when my energy is spent exclusively on private things – things only I or my family will see.
This was particularly true during my kids’ infancies and toddlerhoods, but just as poignantly through the seasons before and after those, when I was (before) writing a novel and (before that) doing deep inner work around the loss of my childhood faith and the meltdown that caused in every crevice of my being. After my kids’ infancies and toddlerhoods I was feeling a strong call to turn outward, but not yet clear about what that “outward” would be. And finally working for what felt like EONS to vision and actually launch this site.
And all of that – every one of those seasons – was fraught with a nagging feeling of not-enoughness for me, of needing to hurry up to do something different or more, to finally translate all the (hard, hard) work behind the scenes into things other people could see.
I wanted to matter, for sure. So there was the need for validation in my mix. But I also felt intensely like I had good things to offer the world, and like something important was getting hidden or wasted by all my private years. Such a pity, my bones would groan.
The longer I live, however, the more drastically different my view of all such things has come to be.
You couldn’t have convinced me of this then – “then” being every season when my work was mainly private – but from where I sit today, every ounce of what I’ve done in private has been woven into my public life now. All that hard inner work, the years of therapy, the reading, the journalling, the years when I had nothing left to journal and hardly anything to say, the blood, sweat, and tears that got poured into that novel (which, by the way, sits muse-like in my closet, informing my life and work constantly, yet noncommittal, still, as to whether it wants to get readied for publication), the diapers I changed, the gazillion fights I’ve refereed, the looooong afternoons with one and then two little beings in my care:
All of it matters. All of it has changed and continues to change the course of our whole world.
And I’m wondering whether you might need to hear this, too. Hear that nothing is getting wasted. Hear that if you’re in a private season, a season of grief, or a season of some other inner transformation; hear that if your work is mainly with your kid(s); hear that if you’re in a season of working on some project that who-knows-when will see the light of day; hear that even if you’re hiding, or just barely getting glimmers of, or slinking around the background of whatever it is you feel is yours to do right now:
All of it, every last thought and choice and movement, is getting woven into the fabric of our world. All of it is helping you and other people wake up. All of it matters, immensely.
And lest you take this as caffeine for your inner perfectionista who’s just looking for reasons to feel uptight about the small stuff too (Ack! My sucky parenting is getting woven into the universe!! My lack of discipline is affecting us all!! I can’t lift a finger without fucking something up!!), don’t.
Give that part of you a hug and wish her well and go back to your business of being awed by the ways the little things aren’t little at all, and the quiet seasons of dormancy, and the frenetic seasons of young parenthood, and tumultuous seasons of private upheaval, and those stretches where you just don’t care and want to numb out to it all: all of them are of impact, and are necessary for the shedding of old things and the cultivation and growth of what’s new.
Don’t let the seasons of others – seasons that might look more glamorous and wonderful from the outside – dissuade you from this truth.
Everything belongs. I couldn’t say that with more than a whisper for most of my life, but here I stand today, feeling that to my core. And with love for you, and hope for the very place you find yourself right now, pouring from my heart.
I wish you peace. I wish you ease in your growing pains. I wish you hope for your bright future.