A few weeks ago I felt the Spirit’s prompting to make a batch of homemade chocolate chip cookies. The invitation did not feel uncanny; I love nudges to create. Instead, I was curious about the message I would receive in the process.
Baking chocolate chip cookies is a ritual I practice during seasons of the unknown when the waiting feels perpetual and the future feels daunting. As I gathered the ingredients on my kitchen counter, I recalled other occasions when I made cookies: Chris’s first car wreck in high school, family breakdowns, hard days in ministry, times with The Anchor House. The list goes on. In those moments, the future stood untold in front of me. Yet, I chose to stand still in my kitchen, glancing back at the calamity behind me and believing for goodness ahead.
Lately, I’ve been pacing through the oddest season—one of letting go and saying goodbye. In January I came to the realization that my role as president at Restore One would need to end soon. This choice was solidified after prayer, soul-searching, and conversations with trusted friends. My cup had finally brimmed, as the business duties of the ministry outweighed my wish to manage and skillset to do so. I frankly admitted to myself that I was burnt out and needed a change of pace for the season.
On May 31 I handed my seat to a remarkable new president, with whom I am thrilled. It has been equally freeing and terrifying to walk away from the vocation I’ve known for that past six years. While I still sit on the Board of Directors and speak on behalf of ministry as its cofounder, my role is starkly different. To add to the accumulation of changes, in mid-June Chris, Asha, and I will be moving to Fort Collins, Colorado—a shift spurred on solely by desire and blessing.
In the transitions, I’ve found a mix of grief, joy, and bewilderment. I’ve pondered and pined to know what is ahead. The journey is uncomfortable, exhilarating, messy, wild, and wonderful, which makes staying present tasking. I’m so quick to move forward when it’s healthy for the soul to savor the bittersweet of now, which brings me back to my kitchen counter laden with flour, sugar, butter, vanilla, and eggs.
Baking cookies is a grounding practice for me—one I’ve been practicing since I was a little girl, long before I learned of benefits of breathing and meditation. For me, it’s a process of creating beauty in the waiting. As I baked, I felt the Spirit urge me to stand still in the unknown and embrace the glory in this season of darkness.
I am learning to become familiar with the unknown.
In seasons of waiting, my senses revive. I learn to feel, smell, taste, hear, and imagine without the influence of sight. Asha’s birth reminded me that we were all created in the dark and we know it well before the light. In the dark, we cannot predict what is ahead. Instead, we must wait for the promise of coming light. We wait in hope for the dawn. There in the waiting strength and courage are created.
I felt the Spirit prompt me, “Can you cultivate harmony in the wilderness of unknowing?” As I stirred the ingredients, I felt my feet beneath me, pressed against the cool kitchen floor, and for the first time in months the feeling of my breath brought tears to my eyes. I thought to myself, “This is what it feels like to be alive, to hold celebration and mourning in the same space.”
This is the practice of showing up to life, the act of being present at the party of now. It’s the age-old metaphor of mixing sugar with lemons, adding vodka and a bit tonic water, then throwing on your heels and learning how to dance again. It’s following the simple, intuitive promptings of the Spirit that seem to cultivate life in the dull moments.
The party is right here, right now, and we are each invited.
We are invited to live each stage of life fully, to embrace the unknown, and to believe in the lulling measure of hope ahead. And of course, when prompted, to bake some darn good chocolate chip cookies!
Anna Smith is Co-Founder of Restore One and serves as an advisory board member. Restore One will soon open The Anchor House, the first shelter in the nation designed to meet the needs of sex trafficked and sexually exploited American boys. Anna has a resilient passion to see sex trafficking victims experience true healing and restoration. In her spare time, Anna enjoys biking with her husband Chris, reading, cooking, throwing pottery, running and yoga. Learn more about Restore One here.