Every time I change my living room, anything from full on rearranging to tweaking accent pieces and accessories, I think, I hope, this is “the one.” Otherwise, I’ll keep experiencing angst over having a space that doesn’t truly reflect who I am, and continuing my quest to create a home and life I love.
What happens when your physical world isn’t an accurate picture of your inner world?
I think of it like my former Kindergartners. They entered the classroom as five-year-olds without much experience in writing or reading. But throughout the school year, as we practiced, they grew not only in skill and knowledge but in maturity. By the end of the school year, they were not only writing words, but full sentences and putting those sentences together to create stories; stories they could read and share with the class.
What started out as letter identification turned into full-blown reading and writing. I used to love to show their parents a comparison of their work from the beginning of the school year with the end of the school year. It was physical evidence of how far they’d come.
In other words, getting our worlds to align is a process that blossoms over time. And to appreciate the often unnoticed progress, you have to look back to see how far you’ve come.
When I look back at the living room photos from six years ago, well, I cringe. But, when I look at my living room now, I see development and growth. I see a resemblance to the picture I have in my mind, to “the one,” but it’s never long before I wrestle with contentment again.
Identify the Missing Piece
I’ve always looked at Pinterest images, home decor blogs, and magazines for inspiration. I’d identify what I liked about the photo; color combinations, mood, then try to translate it into my own home.
But, I was missing a step.
I should’ve asked myself what it is about the lifestyle I’m trying to create I identify with in the picture. Most often it wasn’t about color or even mood. It was about a way of life.
Freedom of expression.
Daring to be bold.
And, that can only come from within.
Start the Within Work
Thankfully, I’ve been doing my fair share of “within” work over the last several years. Fixing myself up from the inside out. And, that is what I want to share with you; the messy middle, the story behind the story.
If you’ve been around awhile, you know that several years ago, I abruptly quit my job as a Kindergarten teacher. I woke up one morning and couldn’t make myself go to work, to live as is for one more moment: fearful, cowering, failing…the exact opposite of the lifestyle I was seeking. So, I finally rose from the commode where I’d been sitting in a paralyzed state, watching the running water in the shower, walked into the living room, opened my computer, filled out my formal resignation, effective immediately, and pressed send.
The following days were filled with fear of the future, gladness to be free of a stressful job, and dread, because I knew I had to face my marriage. In fact, as a couple of friends pointed out to me in the fog of those first few days after quitting, my resignation wasn’t about the job, it was about the state of my marriage. It was me making a bold statement and saying “no more.”
Face the Problem
The conversations with Matt actually started before I quit teaching. They typically ended with me screaming through tears, trying desperately to open my husband’s eyes to the problems in our marriage, and with him acknowledging parts of what I was saying, and offering to work on it.
Things would get better for a little while, then they would go right back to the way they were.
The dynamic of our marriage was stressful enough. Money was really tight, worse than tight: We’d been living on my teacher salary for about fourteen months. Throw in my health issues and work stress, with his depression, while parenting a newly turned thirteen-year-old daughter, and we were a train wreck waiting to happen.
But, that’s just when things came to a head. This disaster was actually years in the making, starting on our wedding day.
I’ll pick up there next time.
Before I go, I want to share this: I’ve realized rearranging the living room is my way of working through restlessness, of pressing my wings against the veil of a chrysalis so I can live into my identity. This is what I call working out my salvation, and it’s the part we simply cannot avoid if we want to create a life we love.
See you in class,