Holding Space

Yesterday I attended a friend’s book launch party. I could not have been any more proud of her for the accomplishment! It’s quite a measure to get your very first book published and into the world.

Before the party, my Saturday had been one of those long days with a small child. Asha declined to nap until exhaustion overtook her young body and she dozed off in my arms late afternoon. I believe she is feeling the transition, too. Chris and I are readying our home for a move, as Chris is going back to school in Boulder.

I’ve noticed that when you are caring for a young one, time carries to their accord, minutes are quick, and there is little opportunity for contemplation. My day had been so very full with holding space for big toddler emotions. After Asha was asleep, I enthusiastically accepted a break and hurried out to celebrate my friend.

With the mix of a hard Enneagram 7 and extroverted personality, I am generally I am at ease at any social gathering. I love to meet new people.

However, once there, I found myself at an absence of energy, and I felt more withdrawn than engaged. I questioned myself, “What good thing do I have to share?”

I’ve been in a season where I’ve not had many positive highlights or definite plans to share.

More or less, I’ve been wondering forward, and backward curious of how the narrative of my life will unfold to the next chapter. I’ve been grappling with a complete deconstruction of faith, calling, purpose, and identity.

Right now, lots of areas are messy and complicated – on top of many changes.

How do you relay that at a party when asked about your profession, your writings and “what you do?” Do I answer, “Umm, well it’s complicated,” or do I claim to be a phenomenal dog sitter? Or do I share how I can make delicious chocolate chip cookies? I digress ..there is no straightforward explanation when life is in limbo.

As I was kindly engaged, I felt discomfort hurl itself like a firm snowball aimed at my heart. I do not know how to answer the questions of my life pattern without engaging honest and raw conversations— sugar coating this season feels like a facade.

Still, at each occasion, as I am asked about my profession, I fumble my words, and I twist my hands. As I muster forward sentences, I attempt to package the ache I feel and hold space for these raw emotions. Pausing to hold space for the parts of me that are grieving is taking steps forward to regain a sense of faith and hope.

My body holds sadness for my spirit that pined so long for a vision that never came into fruition. While wiggling through grief, my jovial character does not feel lost in the dark sands of betrayal but instead a brave witness to the spectrum of emotion. Through grief, I am starting to see failure in the broader context of growth. The disorderly unearthing of self as a avenue of healing.

I long for the components of my heart that dream wildly to not grow stagnant. I want my curiosity only to expand, and the reality is I am still healing. My pace back to trust is utterly ambivalent and strangely alive.

I want to share with you a Brene Brown quote to pull in these range of thoughts that I am sharing.

Brené shares, “I also drew courage from something that I learned at TED-a very unexpected lesson on failure. That vast majority of folks whom Steve and I met during the three days leading up to my talk spoke openly about failing. It wasn’t unusual for someone to tell you about the two or three ventures or inventions that had failed as they explained their work or talked about their passions. I was blown away and inspired” (Daring Greatly, p. 42).

Brené is holding space for our failures and normalizing this human experience. If we are bold enough to enter into the muck, we can start to see how failure is an invitation and not a ban. It shakes us up like a snow globe; it’s a holy mess of navigating how we are meant to operate from here. If something is not working, I am learning how to be curious instead of feeling dismantled. And most importantly, please offer yourself the mercy to hold space and process failure and loss.

Friends, I want to share a few statements that have helped me navigate this season of bewilderment.

  • The feeling of lost is not the enemy; feeling lost is an invitation for self rediscovery.
  • “The fumbling around is holy.” – Rob Bell
  • “All of the wrong turns and dead ends are part of it.” – Rob Bell
  • “Magic is nothing more than the next thing that wants to happen.” -Elizabeth Gilbert
  • “The woman you’re becoming will cost you people, relationships, spaces and material things. Choose her over everything.” -Mantra Magazine
  • “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill
  • “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”-C.S. Lewis
  • “Never feel guilty for starting again” -Rupi Kaur

And as well, it’s a pleasure to walk this human path with you. Failure is hard, muddy terrain I am so grateful you are journeying with me…


In Grace and Sincerity,

Anna Marie Smith

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