In two weeks it’ll be ONE YEAR since we stepped foot in San Francisco to begin our big USA adventure. It’s been full of exploring many diverse American cities, making some great new friends, learning how to adapt to the US workforce and culture and trying out plenty of new food and slang too. I had big hopes to regularly share these new experiences with you on the blog, and to some extent have continued that on Facebook, but these last few months have called for a break for some serious soul-searching.
It’s been almost six months since I last blogged and in those months I’ve experienced a lot of great pain, sadness and confusion. I learnt some hurtful things about a person I love the most and had to make some huge decisions about the direction of my life. This meant taking the time to return to Australia to be surrounded by my incredible support network of family and friends and stopping work too. It meant a diary of empty dates with nowhere to be and no one to see and meant spending a lot of time grieving, learning and growing. It also meant taking a break from writing because despite having so many thoughts, feelings and experiences I wanted to share, I eventually learnt that this season required a lot of silence and reflection.
One day, with the gift of hindsight and some time for perspective, I hope to be able to share my pain of the last six months with you, but for now I hoped to provide some encouragement for anyone going through anything that utterly sucks. I’ve discovered so much about myself in this time, from having to swallow my pride to learning value in being alone.
So this is for the people who are crying in the shower each morning, the people who’d rather sleep away the entire day, the people who are screaming out “why me?!” and for the people who are smiling on the outside but broken on the inside. I’ve been there, and on some days, I’m still there with you. But it gets better.
I’ve learnt how important it is to say I’m not okay. In Australia, R U OK? day has sought to bring attention to suicide by encouraging regular and meaningful conversations with friends to prevent things that aren’t quite okay from going under the radar. I’ve taken great pride in being able to ask R U OK quite easily, but I’m often far too proud to admit when I’m not okay myself. I like being the girl who has her life together, and for the most part I can say I’ve been so vastly blessed in my life that things have been okay, but that made it that much harder to reach out over the last six months. Even when I do reach out, I have the tendency to minimize the problem and launch straight into fix-it mode. If you’re going through something right now, please, please, please reach out to a friend or family member. It’s okay if you don’t have all the answers and it’s okay to feel sad. I’ve spent many hours over the last few months just sitting and crying with friends, not expecting a solution but just a great sense of relief that I had people to share this with. I want to extend a deep, heartfelt thank you to the people who’ve walked alongside me – I am so, so, so grateful for your concern, time, prayer and love. I also want to urge you to keep asking your friends this question, meaningfully. This experience has shown just how unpredictable life is and how you never know when you’ll need someone to ask you that question too.
I’ve learnt how important it is to figure out what makes me, ME and to start taking the time to do those things. It’s so easy to get caught up in the grind of life that we completely forget what makes us uniquely us, so when crisis hits we shut down and can’t remember how to get out of the bunker we’ve found shelter in. I was so lost over the last six months because I’d been hurt by someone important to me and didn’t know how to find happiness and hope amidst the rubble. Whatever place you’re in right now, can you take the time to write down some things that are special to you, make you happy and most importantly make you, YOU?
I LOVE flowers (my Instagram feed is really just an ode to them!) and so when I was taking some time out in Australia I signed up for a short floristry course. These Monday nights were two happy hours I could count on every week, and always ended in a beautiful bouquet to get me through the days to come! When was the last time you loved something and thought what the heck, I’m just going to give that a go? Even if your life is surrounded by chaos, having ideas about things you love to make you happy and ground you again might be just what the doctor ordered. Our lives are so much about running around after everyone else that we rarely take time out for ourselves. If you struggle with this, start putting a few hours in your calendar each week so you don’t miss it!
I’ve learnt that it’s okay not to have the answers or a complete plan for my future. The last year has been one of complete uncertainty – I moved half way across the world, waited for a work visa for five months and then had my life’s foundations totally rattled. I hate uncertainty so much that I wrote about it earlier this year, but I never thought I’d reach a place where every detail of my future seemed unknown. I’ve had dreams for myself, my relationships, for travel, and for a family one day, but all of that seemed to be taken away in the blink of an eye. I spent a lot of time scrambling for answers – hoping my family and friends could tell me what to do, looking to books and blogs for the correct path and delving deep into pros and cons lists. I wanted to get my life back on track, back onto the plan I’d drawn out for myself and the safe place of certainty that I so often rest in. If you’re sitting in the unknown right now, know this: it’s totally okay to not have the answers or a plan from here. Get yourself out of bed and off the bathroom floor and just start moving. Figure out what gives you hope and focus on that. For me, that’s my faith in God. I’ve screamed with anger, wept with grief and trembled with fear before God over the last six months, but when I have no clue what the next day, week or month are going to hold I’ve sat in His promise that He knows my future and I’ve learnt to let that be enough for me.
If you’re going through something awful right now, I’m so sorry. I know what that feels like and I’m right here with you still figuring out how to pick up the pieces. I truly hope some of this has resonated with you, and whether it’s reaching out to friend, figuring out how to be YOU again or being okay in the unknown, I know that it gets better.
We sing an incredible song at church called ‘Beautiful Things’ by Gungor and it’s become my anthem over this season. Take the time to listen to it and hopefully it’ll encourage you too.
“You make beautiful things; You make beautiful things out of dust”
Remember, you are so loved.