Next, Please

Yesterday was my fortieth birthday. This perhaps explains my restlessness and vague melancholy over the last few weeks. A quiet alarm at four decades gone, mingled with frustration that at forty years into life, almost a dozen into mothering, I’m still skinning my knees and asking elementary questions and chasing my tail around some of the same trees.

I’m finding that a milestone birthday is acting on me a lot like New Year’s Day or the beginning of the school year. There is the urge to make a list and DO, DO, DO. An exercise schedule, a writing schedule. Whipping into shape everything within range of busy hands. Inside my chest there’s an inner coach who looks a lot like me, whistle around her neck, barking, “Let’s make something HAPPEN people.”

But there’s another voice, softer but more insistent, saying that this is not the way, this is not what to make of these emotional and reflective days. Last week I dove again into the humor and wisdom and relentless faith of Anne Lamott, who assured me that help is always on the way.

I’ve found it to be true.

Yesterday my friend Jill took me out for coffee for my birthday. Time with her is always gift, with good conversation and laughter and lots to think about afterward. Yesterday was no exception. It helps that she shares my ambivalence about this particular number of candles on the birthday cake, and it helps that she asks good questions of her life and is making peace with waiting for the answers to emerge.

When I unwrapped my birthday package from her, she gave me more than she planned to. She knew I loved the lockets Liz Lamoreux makes, with messages, reminders, precious words pounded into them. Her thoughtfulness in remembering something I’d mentioned in passing and tracking it down in the wonders of etsy touched this often-bruised heart.

But as I wore the locket yesterday, I knew she’d given me more than a token of our friendship. She had given me an answer to what to do with this moment in life that feels precipitous, that feels like a weighted new beginning. Or rather, the right question to ask.

Inside the old brass are the words “whole heart.” We’d watched Brene Brown’s TED talk        together, and I’d felt stirring a desire for that kind of bravery, that really could give up the nursing of old hurts and insecurities and shame for the open-handedness of living vulnerable and free.

Jill’s gift has me taking a deep breath. In asking “What’s next, please?” I’m really asking, “What would it look like to live my forties with my whole heart?”

Love with my whole heart?

Mother with my whole heart?

Be daughter, sister, friend, with my whole heart?

Serve with my whole heart?

Create and write with my whole heart?

This is only a different way of asking the questions I’m always asking, about living the one-piece life. About how to be all real all here, looking and writing through the lens of a redemptive story without slapping a trite homily over pain and loss and grief. Remembering that faith requires, well, faith. Resisting the urge to jump to the “right” answers when what I need to do is to sit in the questions.

So I’m asking?

What does it look like to dwell in and live from, my whole heart?

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22 thoughts on “Next, Please

  1. Aimee

    first of all, happy happy birthday Missy!! Wish I could have stolen away and come and grabbed you for some coffee!! Maybe this summer?
    This was a beautiful post…Mike and I have these conversations about turning 40…he turns 40 in July and I turn 39 in May. There is this unseen pressure to be “mature” now and to have our life all together and nice and neat and in clear focus. And that’s just not living by faith and in our own brokenness. I am going to pin this post to re-visit it as my angst swells (b/c I know it will!) this next year 🙂
    Whole Heart…yes. Yes. yes. And what a dear friend you have to love you well and know you well.

    Reply
    1. adailyportion Post author

      Aimee– summer coffee date a must! I would love to have a real sit-down time with you after our fleeting glimpse in NC last summer!

      I feel kind of frustratingly stereotypical to be angsty about this birthday, but I have been. Whole heartedness seems to speak to the messy and the real and cut through all the woulds and shoulds. I love to hear that you and Mike are talking about this business of still becoming. 🙂

      Have a good day!

      Reply
  2. Trish

    Beautiful as always, Missy. I passed the 40 mark a long time ago and I still wrestle around the same tired old “junk”, too. I believe the pursuit of a whole heart is the answer. Time and time again God shows me how divided mine really is. Oh, to really believe what I believe! You are right……it’s not in the “doing”, it’s in the believing, the trusting that He’ll work it all out through us. As Tim Keller has said, we are greater sinners than we could possibly believe, but we are loved far more than we could imagine. Hang on to that love, Missy, and let’s keep believing!

    Reply
    1. adailyportion Post author

      Thank you Trish.

      I am so eager to live into the mystery of how all this fits together– and to lean into my belovedness a little harder to hopefully be more of who I’m created to be.

      Thanks for commenting.

      Reply
    1. adailyportion Post author

      Kimberly,

      So are we really confident that we are not one and the same person? 🙂

      Thank you so much for reaching across cyberspace to say, “Me, too.” Powerful words, friend.

      Reply
      1. Kimberly

        It is funny. And I had to smile when I saw that Tonia had stopped by as well.
        Maybe someday we’ll meet up and share a cuppa tea and a slice of birthday cake. I was so down on my actual day this year that I didn’t even bother to write about it.
        Ann’s Momma was right-expectations kill relationships–even when one tries so desperately not to expect anything. Alas.
        BUT~ how exciting for us to renew our focus and carry on into this second half with hope and desire!!!!

  3. Keisha Brown

    Missy, I wonder if we have the same birthday? Just celebrated mine as well and can I just say…?

    This is my favorite post of yours.

    Wow, it moved me, deeply to read your words – in more ways than you know.

    Thank you, friend.

    Reply
    1. adailyportion Post author

      Hello Keisha– thanks for your kind words– my birthday was yesterday– the 20th.

      Thank you so much for reaching out– mutual understanding is a gift– wishing I could trade these pixels for a face to face across my table, over coffee.

      In the meantime– thank YOU. I felt pretty vulnerable, putting this out there– I appreciate a safe landing for these words.

      Reply
  4. kristinblankenship

    Well, Missy, I passed the “40” mark several years ago and it is just this year that I am truly wrestling with these questions that you share. I love the idea of living with a “whole heart.” It pretty much sums-up everything, doesn’t it? There is peace in allowing God to permeate every part of our doing and being. Oh, how I would cherish time with you over coffee! You are beautiful, Missy!

    Reply
    1. adailyportion Post author

      Kristin– thank you so much! You are doing good work with your writing, digging into the heart of things.

      I would treasure that face time- perhaps our family will be headed Richmond-way at some point.

      Reply
  5. edillow

    Happy Birthday, Missy : ) I love the idea of approaching things with a whole heart in our 40s (Matt and I are also 1972 babies, so our time is coming)

    Reply
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  8. Ruthi

    I’m reading this and thinking… I am past the fifty mark and still feel like I am immature, chasing my tail around the tree. But yes, living by faith with my whole heart is what I reach for each day… miserably failing more often than I care to admit… but His mercies are new every morning. Thank you Missy for your words. And may this year be an amazing journey for you!

    Reply
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