Some days I could swear they don’t even know I’m human. Kids are kids. Sweet in the moment and typically unaware of sacrifice. They can make you feel inhuman one minute then more alive than you’ve felt since you were five, all in a span of twenty-four hours. They really have no idea what you’re giving them, but they need you and eventually grow to love you. Being a part of that process is nothing less than transformational.
This year has been a tough one for our family—navigating Ethan’s new full-time position as a musician and touring artist, honing Verity Vareé to better serve the folks right here in our eighty mile radius, and finding a new rhythm with three kids has had me questioning much of what I say (or I thought) I wanted.
Perhaps it’s exhaustion, maybe it’s pride, probably a mix of the two. But what I’ve found is when I take a hard look at my desires and values for what I deem a “good life,” my day to day actions are pretty congruent with that life-long dream of living.
My dreams are pretty simple, but my “should’s” get in the way.
Gardening and being outside are two of my favorite things in the world. When I was anorexic I couldn’t do that very often without getting too tired and worn out. I can remember walking up and down the side of my parent’s mountain and wanting to stay in the trees and among the big rocks in their woods, but I’d grow short of breath and be afraid of passing out where no one could find me. So, I’d go back inside.
Even then there were these competing ideas—what I thought I wanted and what I truly wanted. Back then I’d kill to have the energy to run and stay in the sun all day long, but I wanted control over my body, and that ultimately consumed my days.
Now the garden and outdoor play takes up at least four hours every day. I want basically the same thing—to be outside and share that with my kids—even so, the pull of a mess or an unsolved problem of decor can keep me in.
Can you see the pattern? What I “want” and what I “really want” usually don’t match up. What I “want” is to appear a certain way: a clean house with good design and a thin (frail) figure to impress others.
But what I “really want” is to be available to the person in front of me and to enjoy the simple, free treasures of a life made up of undeserved moments. A life of noticing.
It doesn’t take much to walk out into the garden, to call a friend, to read a story to my kids. But it takes a lot to make my house picture-perfect and to appear more rested and “fresh” than I actually am. When I take a good, hard look at myself in the mirror, when I read old journal entries from when I was fourteen, if I listen to the curious questions from my kids, if I notice the dirt in my toes, I know that’s never what I wanted in the first place.
I’m making time for people, not just the ones I know I want to see and invest in, but also for that person I know I actually am. The “real Emily” honestly does not care what you think of her house, she just hopes you feel celebrated and welcomed when you walk through the door. She doesn’t shower every day, she goes to the water once a week, she busts her butt for her kids, and she dreams of book clubs. The “real” Emily is so very invested in good conversation, delicious food, and obsessing over cake design and garden plans. The real Emily will probably do these things long after Instagram and Pinterest and cell phones have been replaced with some other gadget or gizmo. And the you who you know so very intimately will probably love a lot of the same things ten years from now that you do right now.
I’m learning to love seasons of life that squeeze me enough to make me mad, because that’s usually when I change something. When God gives you just enough struggle that you’re officially fed up, I’d argue you’re on the verge of breakthrough.
Inviting others in is a whole lot easier when you know what they’re coming into. If you don’t know what you want in a day your priorities, your attitude, and your immediate family will suffer as you ride the waves of what you “want” and what you really want.
I think most of us want some form of the same thing—love, security, grace. How do those manifest in your life? You know that garden, that book, that margin you actually want? It’s fine to go get it right now.
So if you see red flags when a so-called “want” keeps you isolated, worried, and obsessed with your own shortcomings, I’d encourage you to challenge that. Life is already hard enough without fake desires getting in the way.
A beautiful life—the one you really want—is waiting.