Somethings can only happen when you find yourself unable to change your situation.
It seems odd typing this. Because I’ve always taught myself that no matter what situation I found myself in, I can always change it.
But, I learned in the pit of my panic attacks and depression last year that sometimes, hope comes when we finally give up trying to avoid the truth.
The truth is that I didn’t know when I would touch the breakthrough that would release me from anxiety.
The truth is that I wasn’t the same anymore.
I needed to stop. To rest.
I was the one that needed to change.
Not my circumstances.
Some Kind of Beauty
I needed to accept — and embrace a new life — a new normal that was temporarily my reality.
I finally realized I didn’t know when things would change for me.
That’s when I knew I needed to do whatever I could to take care of myself.
To allow God to love me, by giving myself permission to let certain things go.
Relationships, friendships that weren’t healthy for me.
I needed recover parts of me I somehow lost along the way.
To find some kind of beauty.
I didn’t know how I would begin.
I just knew I needed to begin. A new journey. Instead of trying to go back to who I was.
No Plan B
My life seemed so stripped, it was hard to even imagine what I wanted to do. What could I do?
I poured out my heart to God.
I’ve gone as far as I could go. What now?
There was no Plan B.
Last month in April, one year ago, the publisher had already extended the manuscript deadline two times. As I approached the due date without written a word, I knew I had to tell them.
I am not able to write. I have to give up the book. I can’t even hardly breathe or sleep.
As I started accepting the truth of this failed dream, I started crying out to God, asking what would He have me do now?
It was in this place of nothing, God brought to mind the apostle Paul. He didn’t have a Plan B or C.
I don’t think Paul had it in his mind, when Jesus called Paul to serve Him — that Paul would end up doing it from a jail cell.
Out of all the missionaries out there free, wouldn’t God want Paul out there traveling? With his status as a Roman citizen, debate skills and amazing rhetorical powers of persuasion, it definitely didn’t seem to make sense to leave Paul stranded behind prison walls.
Yet, that’s where Paul ended up. Eventhough Paul did nothing wrong, that’s where a long chapter of his story unfolded.
I decided in that moment, as I identified with Paul’s imprisonment, to make a choice.
To embrace this chapter of my life, instead of running away from it.
A Ludicrous Idea
I decided if I was going to make it through this hard season of my life, I needed as much comfort and beauty for my soul that I could find.
Even if it was whisper thin, even if it brought my heart pain to long for it, I would nurture that desire in me. Beauty reminded me that the real me was whole and present inside me.
I didn’t know how to begin. But, I knew I needed to begin.
I don’t know why. I can’t explain it — just like I couldn’t explain the depression I felt the moment I woke up some days — but I wanted to play soccer.
It was the most ludicrous idea.
The last time I played soccer was in elementary school. I loved running, feeling my face flush hot in the summer heat at recess, watching the grass blur in speed with a ball turning, while others with wild arms and legs are chasing to take it from me.
When I got to fifth grade, I fell in love with tetherball. But, soccer was a first love. I asked my mom if I could play, but she said my legs were already short and stocky. If I played soccer, my legs would look ugly like a guys.
When I was in high school, the girl’s field hockey coach had seen me play during P.E. and tried to recruit me to join the team. But, I needed to be home after school and we didn’t have the money for team sports.
I don’t know why I felt this random desire to play soccer because I was so debilitated at the time, that I spend most of my hours in bed.
One day, while taking Josh to his weekly soccer class, sitting there in the car waiting for him with the windows rolled down, I suddenly had the strangest idea.
Maybe I can play soccer?
Josh’ soccer coach – Coach Ken Mburu – played soccer as a boy growing up in Kenya. He had just started a moms soccer class. I decided to walk over to Coach Ken after Josh’s soccer class and asked him if I could try the class once without registering to pay for the whole season. To see if I could actually physically play before committing to the entire session.
I told him what I hadn’t told anyone other than a small handful of confidantes.
I have panic attacks. Childhood trauma. And I’ve been depressed in bed for months. I haven’t exercised in seven years, since I became a mom. I couldn’t play a game. But maybe I could just kick the ball a bit? It can help get me out of the house.
Coach Ken’s answer surprised me.
“Come play, Bonnie. Even if you come to just stand on the field, you are already victorious.” It turns out Coach Ken is a Christian. Josh had been taking soccer lessons from him for two years and I didn’t even know it.
“But, I might have a panic attack.” I cried at the shame of having to confess something so socially taboo and embarrassing.
“That’s okay. Just come.” Coach Ken urged. The day before the class, Coach Ken texted a reminder to me.
First Crush & Soccer
That week, I went to the soccer store with Josh and Caleb in tow after picking them up from school.
“Mommy’s going to try and learn to play soccer.” I told them.
“Can you run?” my son Josh asked me.
“Yes.” I laughed.
“I want to soccer shoes too!” my four-year-old son Caleb piped in with our giggles.
I told Josh and Caleb about little girl Bonnie and how my first-grade crush brown-eyed Roger with soft brown hair picked me to be on his soccer team. And how little Bonnie loved kick-ball too.
That morning I stood on the field to kick my first soccer ball in over thirty years, the little girl in me stepped out of her sad memories and remembered the smell of grass and the sound of her breath when she ran.
A New Story
And even though I did have a panic attack, when I tried to play a scrimmage that first day — and I had to sit out on the side lines and felt dizzy and faint — I came back the next week.
And I paid for the entire session of soccer.
Because two days after that first soccer class, I sat down to write for the first time in over year.
I began writing a new story.
I didn’t know it at the time, but the story I began would become the tale I would release into the world this month as my memoir-driven book Finding Spiritual Whitespace.
This story would become the book the editor Vicki at Revell wanted, even though I called to tell her I could not write the book I was contracted to write.
To my utter amazement and sobbing tears, Vicki asked me about the book I wanted to write instead.
And that is when I emailed her samples of new chapters that began to flow from my heart — days after I played soccer.
I asked Dr. P why this was happening.
“God is loving the little girl in you back to life.” Dr. P wasn’t surprised.
I was giving myself permission to be that little girl. To make room for her.
So she could just be her.
So I could just be me.
Is there a nudge — ever so slight in your heart — that reminds you of something you enjoyed as a little girl?
Is it a cold, melting popsicle on a sunny day?
Or lying on your bed with a book in our hands?
Writing in your journal… Dancing? or singing?
You and I are grown-ups, in grown-up circumstances, that sometimes we can’t change overnight.
Yet, we are called to journey through them.
God is going to get us through them. He is the constant faithful Companion.
But, He uses you and me. Our choices. To be brave and bold.
Even when life seems small and our efforts whisper-thing, God sees.
God uses other people to help us too. To be kindreds.
But, we have to take a risk. To begin.
Sometimes many times a day. Everyday.
And just like the sun continues to rise, God’s mercies will be new everyday.
When there’s no Plan B and you don’t know what to do –
Give yourself permission to rest.
Listen to the little girl in you.
She might have something she wants you to know.
“Great is his faithfulness;
his mercies begin afresh each morning.” Lam.3:23
Is God nudging you to begin a new journey — try something new — even if feels small or unexpected?
Pull up a chair. Click to comment. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Now It’s Your Turn — Link Up!
To inspire your stories, here is our new Whitespace Thursday Linkup Badge. Write what prompts your heart. Share your voice.
Today’s Thursday 5/15/14 writing prompt: share a whitespace moment –
- moments of beauty and rest
- feeding your soul
- your alone time with God
Next Thursday 5/22/14 writing prompt: choose one of these three quotes from my new book Finding Spiritual Whitespace that speaks to you. share your reflection.
Or choose your own open writing prompt. Be you.
** Thank you for using #spiritualwhitespace to share your pictures on Instagram & Twitter! ** It’s fun to see the moments that feed your soul this week!