Relief and hope swept over me this afternoon as I stood at the kitchen counter watching puffy flakes of snow falling outside my window, texting my neighbor back about borrowing an onion.
“Yes I’m home and I have one!”
She’s a blessing to me. I’ve lived next to her for the better part of of a decade, but in this past couple of years, I’ve really understood how generous and caring she is.
It was a simple exchange. I’d been lazing on the couch scrolling through New Year Facebook statuses and blog posts and I think something inside me was shaking loose.
When her text message came across the top of my screen, I swelled with excitement.
It was only an onion, but it was really so much more.
Connection with God and other people are, I believe, the most important things in our existence.
For the past six weeks or so I have been in a funk.
Frustrated, bored, bitter, anxious, cranky, antisocial, pessimistic, overwhelmed, underwhelmed, and disconnected.
There have been good days peppered in, but my spirit has been feeling flat.
I would dread the morning and long for night.
Watch precious moments and blessings pass before me and know I was missing them.
Beating myself up for that and for “knowing better” but still feeling low.
On the couch today, phone in hand, something inside cracked free. I jumped off the couch to grab that onion, and I stood at the counter waiting to hand it off to my neighbor’s husband.
I saw him round the corner of the empty rental that separates our two homes. I opened the side door and was greeted with a blast of cold, snowy air and his friendly smile.
We exchanged pleasantries and he was on his way.
An ordinary moment, but extraordinary too.
On Christmas Eve my oven was full but I still needed to bake a pan of potatoes and get to a party on time. Not knowing what to do and feeling frustrated for not having planned better, I decided to bust out of character and ask for help.
Yes I, Rebecca Grace Gould, voluntarily asked someone for help.
Alert the media.
I texted my dear neighbor to see if she was home and her oven happened to be free on one of the busiest baking days of the year.
“I am and what temp?”
Something about her response moved me. It was as if she was saying, “My oven is your oven.”
Using her oven that evening was as simple as using my own. I cannot tell you how that impacted my heart.
We live these isolated lives. We are constantly around other people but we remain lonely little islands. We have our headphones on or our nose buried in our phone. We barely look at the barista or the grocery cashier. We don’t know our neighbor’s names and we look into our children’s eyes for often less than a minute a day.
We don’t connect with others. We don’t give and receive help from one another. When we do, it can be contrived or complicated.
When it’s messy or painful to connect with others or live in true community, our tendency is usually to stop. To withdraw. To solidify our resolve to be independent.
Instead we should press in, give the benefit of the doubt, realize we’re on the same team, love deeper and give more. We should not isolate ourselves and hoard our gifts and affections.
I’m guilty of this.
When I’m disconnected from people and I’m living in painful community rather than soul-hugging community, I’m tempted to give up hope. To believe the lie that I’m on my own and no one understands or cares.
This leads me down a rabbit hole of melancholy.
I end up in a funk and I struggle my way through each day…hoping for a light at the end of the tunnel and fearing it won’t ever come.
I don’t answer my phone or respond to texts. I don’t like anything on Facebook and I turn down invitations. I want nothing more than to be alone and drown my sorrows in solitude.
That’s a miserable way to live for very long.
I’ve uttered some short prayers. Lacking faith. Forgetting God’s promises. I’ve been too lazy to try harder to reach out my hand for His help.
He hasn’t gone anywhere. He’s been there all along.
I’ve grumped at my kids for being ornery or ungrateful or any number of other unsavory things and yet I stand before my Heavenly Father the same way.
He doesn’t grump at me. He doesn’t compare me to Himself and act shocked at how I’m responding to the world.
He knows I’m a child. He knows I don’t have the capacity to see all He sees and know all He knows and to understand the grand scheme of things the way He does.
So He smiles at me and embraces me and offers me more grace. More love. More mercy.
A very wise friend shared a similar analogy with Andy last night and it stabbed him right smack in the heart in the very best way. Andy understood that perspective and related it to parenting and to his relationship with God.
Today I internalized that perspective of God and how He Fathers us and it allowed me to extend grace to myself. Something inside my stubborn dark funk began to shake loose.
Then my neighbor texted and unknowingly encouraged my soul by extending uncomplicated community to me.
We belong to each other.
We were made to be connected to one another.
About little things like an extra onion and big things like heartache, pain, triumph, and victory.
God reached down to my snowy bungalow today and lifted me out of my mud puddle.
2016 is here. It feels fresh and new.
I will screw up and there is grace for that.
I will forget truth and God’s promises, but there is grace for that.
I won’t live up to my manifesto for the year, but there is grace for that too.
I’m ready for this year. I’m thankful for a renewed sense of joy, hope, and expectation.
Let’s do this thing called 2016.
Kristin @ In Between the Piles says
I haven’t commented in awhile but have been keeping up with your goings on through your posts. I loved this post. Thank you for sharing your realness and vulnerabilities. (I’m going to post this reply even though part of me doesn’t feel like it’s exactly what I’m wanting to say. Inspired by you ;-)
Lynette Gerbe says
Loved your blog today and know how you felt and it reminded me that I need to cross the street to touch bases with an elderly neighbor as promised….thanks and have an awesome and Godly year in 2016 wherever it takes you.
Rebecca, do you know that I affectionately call you “word girl”. I never say it out loud, lol. You blogs and conversations are always so well said! I was thinking about our community and the connections we have made and how they are on such a “heart level”. I like to read your blogs but I feel like I have the inside scoop and can laugh or feel your pain. Like when you said how you asked for help, takes me back to the retreat where we just took your bags, lol. Near or far, we’re still on this journey together.