Forgive on the exhale

forgive on the exhale

My lungs were holding on so tight to all the feels that I didn't want to feel anymore.

I thought if I could just exhale it would all go away.

I decided yoga was the answer. Even though the thought of being in a room full of strangers all squished in together and feeling rude if I didn't engage in small talk felt somewhat awful.

Of course I sat beside the sweetest mother and daughter. They had just joined the gym and were new to the class. The daughter was moving to Germany this summer to get married.

I quickly shared how beautiful the country is, how my husband and I spent our honeymoon exploring Bavaria. How it holds some of my most cherished memories.

She was excited but fearful - sad to leave all that is familiar and safe.

Oh how I remember that feeling too. Even though I moved a mere 2 hours away, I remember weeping as I drove further and further away from home. Home was always my constant. It was the place I moved out of and back into countless times. The place held more memories than I could count.

I remember seeing my husband driving behind me, which felt absolutely crazy to say out loud. My what? You mean, we really did this thing? We're in this for the long haul?

And my Dad, my number one man for the past 25 years, pulling a large U-haul with all of my things. Really, a lot of their things, they so graciously donated to fill our first home.

So I recognized that fear and hesitation in her voice as my own.

If it had been appropriate and not extremely creepy, I would have hopped over her moms mat and onto hers and given her a hug.

In yoga, they ask you to come up with an intention for your practice. Often times I fumble around in my head for a word that is clear and concise, something that embodies all my thoughts and feelings. It is rare to find one that fits.

This day, the word came with little thought or effort: forgiveness.

Maeve, you need to forgive.

You see, I wish I was an expert forgiver. I can say the words - I forgive you -but the doing part, the actual letting go and giving it up are much harder and feels nearly impossible.

I become a hoarder. I hold on to past mistakes [my own included] and file them away in little drawers that I can pull out and read later.

Reader, I'm sure you know, this isn't truly forgiving.

We can't hold on, we can't bring it up three weeks later over lasagna when something rubs us the wrong way. And because we really don't have words for why we're upset in the now - we pull words from that other thing that made us boil.

Truth: I really want to be a better forgiver. And when you are trying to work through something so big and wide - you need back up. You need to ask for help.

The friends help I sought didn't simply promise to pray and validate my hurt [love her for it] she also encouraged me to feel all of it. Don't wipe it away just yet if you aren't ready.

Because you see, my m.o. is to pull up my boot straps, wipe the tears and just keep going. I rarely give myself permission to sit in it; sit in all of it, press my hands around the edges and sides.

I want to just swim through it. I want to move on to better and brighter days because let's be honest - the sitting in it hurts.

Though this time, I let myself feel exactly what I wanted, for as long as I needed. I let myself hurt the next day when all the pain rose to the surface after a whole lot of processing and prayer. I let myself cry when normally I'd tell myself not to.

And I think this is an integral, sacred part of forgiving - giving yourself permission to lean into the discomfort and allowing your whole body - all the way down to your toes, to grieve.

Call in backup if you need it. Ask a friend to sit close by, remind them that they don't need words for fixing or a how to manual for putting things back together - you just need a steady presence.

We have to feel it all before we let it all go.

When I came back to my mat, with each inhale and exhale, I chanted and whispered the word forgive. With each breath, I felt the pain and heartache rather than running away from it.

I think that's the bravest part - to actually feel in a world that tells us we're too sensitive and emotional.

To feel when the easier thing, the less painful thing, would be to just let it all go right away.

But doesn't it always come back and break in, making it hard to breath again?

Forgiveness is messy friend. The beautiful parts of life are. It's a process I wrestle with daily - one I haven't perfected - one I hesitated to write about because it's been so difficult for me.

But then I remembered, God uses the wrestle and the fight. There is still worth and value in the discovery. There is still purpose in the do overs and let's try this thing again.

Take a deep breath with me. Fill your whole belly up.

And when you're ready - exhale.

Exhale and let go and release. 

My Highlights Reel

about me page I'm still looking back y'all. I wanted a more exciting post for you.

It's why I waited so long to write. I kept waiting for some epiphany or some clarity.

But then I realized, life is a series of waiting and doing and cheering each other on. We don't get that big moment loads of times. We get lots of little moments all throughout the day - waking up, making breakfast, sipping our coffee, grocery shopping, reading a good book, cuddling with husband - to be brave and honest and intentional.

I don't want to wait for the big moments to happen. I don't want to wait for flashy and newsworthy.

I want to live right here in the little, faithful acts of love - him rubbing my forehead as "Dust to Dust" plays softly in the background because I have a headache.

These are the moments I miss if I don't stop and be still.

I want to live in the flurry of attempting to make pork loin for friends and nearly falling to the floor in anxiety when I taste how salty it is.

Should I cancel the dinner? How fast could a pizza get here? Should I just hide and let folks fend for themselves and leave a pitcher bucket of water by the table? 

No.

The most rational thing to do is run the slabs of meat under the sink to get some seasoning off before crying a few tears in the bathroom and throwing your best hostess face on, right?

I want to live in the apologizing to my husband when I lost my cool in the poultry aisle of the grocery store. I can't make these things up y'all. I lost it by the raw meat. I freaked. I raised my voice and acted like a toddler.

I want to live in the getting a call from a friend and within ten minutes dropping everything to drive an hour to the hospital to wait all night as another dear friend had a baby.

And when you have loads of time in a big hospital, you and that friend pull out mats and start doing yoga - right there in the waiting space. 

I want to live in the staying and signing a big scary contract and deciding that our little town is good for us right now. And maybe we don't have to move there, wherever there is just yet - maybe we can plant a few roots and dig a little deeper and put our big girl pants on and learn to be better at committing.

You see, this is my life right now. It's simple and messy and true. This is the highlights reel. This is my now.

There are dreams dear ones. Oh my, there are dreams and talks and big ideas on my heart. But it's in the waiting and discerning phase, it's in the saying it out loud across a table of pancakes phase.

And I think that's okay.

Because life is a series of small moments. It's a series of habits and trying again and apologizing.

It's not always pretty or easy.

But it's beautiful and worthy of our attention.

Something is stirring dear ones, I can feel it all the way to my toes. And I don't know what it is or how it will become. But I am excited and hopeful and choosing cheer.

Yes, I am choosing cheer over comparison.

I am choosing brave.

I am choosing to celebrate, embrace, and savor the now.

Those are the things I want to live inside.