The morning began over toasted crusty artisan bread with homemade strawberry jam and French press coffee. Our conversation started on a light note until our unmet longings became the subject of our words. We spoke of longings we had hoped the other would fulfill and our disappointment. Fortunately, we didn’t get stuck there or spiral into disagreement. Our words stayed sad, but kind. The conversation moved towards how we each have longings where God is painfully silent. There are places where “no” or “yes” seem to be His answer, other places He is silent. Not a yes and not even a maybe. Just silence where we are left in a place of waiting. The waiting is hard and this morning was one of those times.
Dane left for work and I turned to my journal. I’ve been drawing circles lately in my journal. It’s a way I’ve been charting some of my longings. Each circle has a name. I place myself inside, on the edge or outside the circle, depending on where I feel God has me. I’ve been asking God lots of questions – some very serious questions. Even some ”Really, seriously, God?”
Circles take me back to marble games when I was a young girl. Back in the 1950’s we carried small leather pouches of glass marbles instead of smart phones and technology. At recess we would rush out to a place on the playground where no grass grew. Someone would draw a circle and each player would put the same number of marbles in the center. Everyone took a turn shooting with our metal “steely.” If you hit another player’s marble out of the circle you got to keep it. I remember those days as a happy memory.
There were other circles I remember that weren’t drawn in the dirt. They were created by groups that formed at recess and also in the cafeteria for lunch at school. There were also circles of friends and circles of families. I wasn’t invited into very many of those circles, especially the circle of my biological family. As the survivor of my mother’s attempted abortion of me, I was painfully aware that I was uninvited and unwanted by my family.
It was traumatic for a young girl to stand on the outside or edge of the circles and not be included, even in my own family. That has left a scar that isn’t noticeable on my physical body but it lies deep within.
I was powerless to change the place I held in the circles of my childhood. In my little girl desperation I tried to be what people might find acceptable to include. I worked hard within my family to conform to their image of me, trying to change to suit their desires.
That brings me to the circles in my journal today. As a grown woman, I am no longer powerless. I understand and embrace my value and my goodness. Performance is no longer a crutch for me.
I feel gratitude for those circles that include me.
At the same time I am aware that I’ve drawn some circles where I am farther out on the edge than I long to be. There are gatherings and groups where I desire to be much closer to the inner circle.
If God shuts a door stop banging on it! Trust that whatever is behind is not meant for you.
God and I are having some serious discussions about this quote. The truth is I’m spending more time in God’s waiting room than I like. I do want to wait as the patient adult while being sensitive to the stories of the little girl desperate to belong. The word I’m focusing on from the quote is “trust.”
I’ve drawn a big circle around all my smaller circles. That circle represents God to me and with that new drawing, I’m in His circle. My dialogue with God continues as I ask Him to show me the balance between longing, planning, trust and waiting. The words “chosen and re-chosen” have come to me several times. I’ve accepted them as my words going into this new year. I’m chosen by God. He has plans for me. True, He has me in a place of waiting and trusting. I trust He will open His planned doors for me in His timing. I will wait with anticipation.
Valerie Avery treasures the journey of embracing all God has gifted her with including creating art and beauty using fibers, beads and nature. The bond of 50 years of marriage has created a legacy as mother to 5 and “Grammie” to 20. She is venturing into the world of writing and is grateful for a place to share stories of growth and hope. You can read more here.
Dear Valerie, “As the survivor of my mother’s attempted abortion…” this statement grips my heart with both anger and joy. Anger toward a mother who did not honor a rare and precious gift of God for which many women long and cannot/do not receive. And joy for the plan of God that you “live and move and have your being” in this world creating beauty wherever you go. I am so thankful for your life, my friend, and that I stand in a circle of friendship with you. I love you, Christine
I love how you and I stand together in our circles creating beauty wherever we go individually and together. Love you, my friend.
“I will wait with anticipation.” Life giving words to rest in ! Accepting the “wait” and holding onto Hope.
And I love the words you add … “life giving, rest and Hope. Love you friend,
Valerie, I love this. I love your circles and I need to think about my circles and if I am inside or out. I love how you drew a big circle around all your circles. I, too, am in God’s waiting room more than I thought I would be at this time. Thank you for giving me your words to understand my heart better. Thank you for a beautiful glimpse into your morning with Dane. Your first sentence drew me in entirely.You are a gifted writer that has risen high through the very deep places in your soul. Hugs from me to you on this windy, rainy morning on Bainbridge Island. Your entry has changed the contours of my heart in the morning darkness. Thank you.
Dear Becky, I send you some sun and warmth from the south — at least in heart and thoughts. My heart joins with you as you draw your own circles. It’s not necessarily bad to be outside a circle, but it sometimes hurts. We stand together in and/or out of our circles. And it feels comforting to know that I have community in God’s waiting room though I don’t desire those hard places for you. I’m not alone there. We can grow in hope together. Love you friend, Valerie
Your words are filled with a warmth and tenderness that speak to places of my heart where few can. Thank you for sharing your story with such kindness.
Dear Emma, “Your words … speak to places of my heart where few can.” Friend, you have spoken the reason I write and continue to offer my stories of my past and my struggles and glories of today. Together we speak into one another with community and hope. love you friend, Valerie
My heart aches as I reflect on your circles and I love that God is the bigger circle surrounding you. My circles are different today as well. I am resting in the goodness of the change. I miss you, my friend, and love the path you are on for your life💗MJ
So good to see your face and hear your words here Mary Jane. I, too, miss seeing you and hearing your news. I love your words …”resting in the goodness of the change”. Life has more for both of us – in different places and different ways, but life is generous to us both. Love, Valerie
Stunning. Here’s to strong women, circle games and drawing the lines where we decide they belong. Thank you for your grace, truth and this thoughtful piece of writing.
Thank you for your affirmation friend. Life is a circle we both live as strong, growing women. So good to know my thoughts brought a kind place for you to consider your circles. love, Valerie
“I’ve been drawing circles lately in my journal. It’s a way I’ve been charting some of my longings. Each circle has a name.” This idea of charting your longings with circles is intriguing to me. There is something that feels different about visually representing them, instead of just using words – which for me tend to become the same words, lamenting the same pattern. I want to consider what my “charting” might look like.
Your words about the deep longing to belong touch a tender place in my heart as well. The kind reminder to balance longing and waiting and trust is one I needed today. Thank you my friend.
Dear Janet, What would it be to draw circles together and chart our journeys, past, present and future? I so often feel a kindred spirit with you. You are a gentle, introspective and wise person who sees beyond what is presented to the deeper joys and sorrows. My heart and spirit feel at home with you and belonging is not in question. May your heart know and feel warmly your belonging places today. love, Valerie