never stops teaching.
Journaling for awareness. Growing for life.
In the center of our beach community, there is a piece of art mounted high that reads, Believe. There was some controversy over Jason Manley’s “Believe, Green” when it was first mounted—a 15 by 15, green neon sculpture. I’m not sure what inspired him to create this piece, but when I passed by it the other day (as I have dozens of times before), it stopped me. What does it mean, “believe?” What is it that we are asked to consider believing in? This seems especially poignant at this time of year. Whether you believe in the holy birth, the miracle of lights, or find yourself reflecting on your belief in yourself as you look back on what you’ve accomplished this year, it seems that this is a time to consider what it is that we believe about our lives.
I started this blog a year and a half ago as the continuation of my student-mother project—my ongoing lessons in how to see the world, imparted to me by my kids. After I finished my book (which will be released in a few weeks—yay!) the blog became a vehicle for continuing to reflect on what my kids have to teach me about myself (as it is one of my beliefs that I have just as much to learn as I do to teach in this experience of motherhood). Yet, as I continue to evolve with the growth of my family, I have to take a time out to write about another person who has taught me a great deal about who I am and what I am capable of. A person who has made it possible to believe even when all signs pointed the other way. A person who has evolved with me through the experience of parenthood.
I married Kevin thirteen years ago. We were young, in love, and like all young people in love, we had a lot to learn about what we wanted out of life and what we needed from each other. It is said that each person seeks in a partner what they wish to illuminate in themselves—their golden shadow. But once two people have been together for a while, projections fall away and one can see the other with more clarity (for better or worse, wink wink). At that point, we are invited to become more whole as individuals, more connected as couples, and to love more deeply. I imagine when I first fell for Kevin, I was attracted to his energy, the twinkle in his eye, his persistence, his ease with himself (all qualities I possessed, but that Kevin helped me further bring to light.) However, as we’ve grown and fallen in love many times over, what has kept our relationship thriving is not an attribute at all. It is not a quality that can be listed on a profile or ascribed to genetics. It is simply a shared belief that we fostered together, a belief that truly anything is possible. If we live with heart, if we’re in it together, not a moment will be wasted. Even something tedious (like putting together a 40 piece toy, as we did the other night) can become a meaningful experience.
Life is chock full of these seemingly unattractive, insignificant moments. But the longer I’m with Kevin, the more I see that those moments are actually precious treasures. The quiet chat, the long laugh, the morning car ride, the evening meal. This is the stuff of life. And there is still only one person on the planet with whom I want to share all that stuff with, as well as every corner of my soul. He’s the first person I want to talk to on my best day and on my worst. He is the one I can be entirely myself with and know I will be received fully, without judgment, but with acceptance and celebration. A person who can build me back up when I’ve fallen apart, who can bring me back down when I’ve gotten away from myself, who can make me feel beautiful at the end of an exhausting day. Together we have a way of continuously experiencing life with a sense of newness and curiosity, like little kids. From one life transition to the next, we joke that it’s like we’re just starting out together all over again. As much as we have grown up together, the heart of what we are about—why we found each other—has never changed. It’s simply deepened. And having children was one such experience of deepening. There’s nothing like a child to help you really experience the newness of a day, the wonder, the possibility. And the love we share for these three little people, a love that is unlike any other love they will experience in their lives, gives way to an unbelievable connection.
I had a sweet reminder of this the other day. We were on the sidelines of Adeline’s soccer game. Kevin had Brennan on one end of the field, close to where Adeline was playing goalie. And I had Keegan further down the sideline, allowing room for he and I to kick a ball back and forth while I watched the game. Adeline’s team was halfway through their last game of the season—a season where they had not won a single game. And as one of Adeline’s teammates got the ball, broke through a pack of seven-year-olds, and started dribbling toward the goal, all the adults got to their feet. Suddenly, it was the most exciting game I had ever seen. As I cheered for Adeline’s teammate, as I watched Adeline and all the girls jumping with anticipation, I looked down at Kevin and caught his eye. In that single look, I saw thirteen years. I saw everything we’ve reached for, worked for, believed in. We started out cheering at football games, concerts, outside job interviews and over escrow papers. Now we get to cheer for something bigger, the three little people we created together.
Adeline’s team made the goal. They didn’t win the game, but they made the goal and that made all the difference. Their rejoicing was a pile on of hugs.
I believe in a great many things, but one thing that is vivid for me this season is the small and mighty. It’s not the trophies, the ticket stubs, the square footage or the corner office; it’s reaching small goals, feeling big joy, and finding that you can believe in what you have to give as you hold on to each other.
So whether or not you’ve checked off everything on your hit list this year or found everything on your vision board to have manifested, don’t forget the various and beautiful moments along the way that have further enriched your life simply because you showed up and shared a little of your heart.
My kids are small, but mighty, having grown my heart and grown the heart of my marriage. As we celebrate the Christmas season, Kevin and I are getting many reminders of how rich our lives are, how full of magic each day seems to be, as we look upon bright, doe-eyed curiosity. Their wonder and belief in their world enriches our experience of life.
I believe in love. I believe it has the power to make everything shine. Brighter than any neon believe sign, is my belief that God brought these four people into my life to teach me how to shine. And that has made all the difference.
What do you believe?