When the Fire Goes Out

I’ve been in a funk lately. Perhaps it’s baby blues or the relentlessly gray weather or too many days in a row spent at home in yoga pants doing the same dishes and laundry over and over again. I find myself on my phone…while feeding the baby or with a toddler in my lap watching a show. I get bored so I instinctively start scrolling through feeds and looking through snapshots and sentences of other people’s lives.

Creeper.

I know.

I find myself comparing. I find myself looking at the numbers instead of the hearts. I find myself jealous and discouraged because my focus has landed too many times in a row on all the wrong things.

In Love Lives Here, Maria Goff talks about comparison and “keeping our eyes on our own paper,”

He [Jesus] doesn’t want us to become like each other; He wants us to be like Him. The problem is that we’re letting other people do that talking for Him. We all have something we are good at. Figure out what it is and celebrate it.

God stretches each of our lives before us like a canvas. He hands us the brushes and the paint and asks us to make our lives look like our unique version of His love. Pick your own colors, not someone else’s.

Sometimes social media is a huge encouragement and inspiration and sometimes it eats away at my insecurities until I’m convinced I have almost no value at all compared to other people’s success. We all know the pretty pictures and words we see online are just lines and chapters out of someone else’s book—not the whole story. But when we never get the whole story, it’s easy to believe the messy and unlovely parts of our own lives will never size up to Miss Inspiration over there killing it.

To combat the funk and the comparison game, I took a break from my phone. Sometimes you just need to look up and look around for a little while to get some fresh perspective.

When I was tempted to grab my phone, I picked up an old book instead. I’ve been knee-deep in parenting books of late and I was craving something a little less about how to do everything right and a little more about dreams and adventure.

I chose a book I’ve read before about an American girl in Italy. It’s a story about adventure, and love, and a little bit of intrigue. Published over a hundred years ago, the book smells and feels old in my hands as I run my fingers over the slightly raised typeset.Β IMG_20171115_183613_452.jpgI get lost in the romantic Italian language and descriptions of the landscape. And I remember, the last time I read this book I was in high school or college and dreaming of seeing Italy for myself someday.

After visiting Rome, Florence, Venice, Sicily and many other parts of Italy now, the story feels familiar this time around. I need not rely on my imagination so much as I can actually picture from experience the stucco houses and terraced vineyards. I’ve walked these streets and heard this musical language in person.

Why am I telling you all this? Because it reminded me that I used to dream about big things. I used to pick up old books and get lost in a story. I used to love words because they carried me to far off places and lit my heart on fire.

Lately, I’ve been far too inclined to love words only for what they can get me—likes, follows, shares…a sense of affirmation by being given a virtual thumbs up. Where’s the adventure in that? I let the fire go out and it’s no wonder I found myself in a funk.21551921_10154856780841517_2828362598542887962_o

Tonight I’m sitting in front of a fire sipping coffee and falling back in love with words and the stories they tell. Stories of love. Stories of adventure. Stories of grace and redemption.

And I’m reminded all over again, that I have a story of my own to tell. I have days spent in Paris and Rome, nearly ten years of marriage to a man I still love, the birth of two fiery little babies. I have a Midwest childhood and many a day now spent exploring the streets and nooks of Boston and Massachusetts. I have five brothers. I have one cat. I have a story all my own. And the best part of all—I’m still writing it. There are adventures yet to be had. Love yet to be shared. Words yet to be written. More cities to see.IMG_20160920_122956.jpg

If you, like me, find yourself discouraged by where you’re at, stop and make sure your eyes are where they actually need to be—on your own story. The story you’re still writing every single day with your own words, pictures, loves, adventures, and mishaps ❀