Learning to Lean In


I saw this quote by Virginia Woolf this morning.

It was like a quick puff of air in the face, it woke me up.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how we continue on, evolving each day. Some things change and many stay the same. I spend a lot of time wishing certain things were different and all that does is suck more life out of me with each little wish.

I’ve really enjoyed the podcast The Liturgists. It’s one place outside my brain where I, for the most part, find a place to breathe easy, especially when it comes to matters of faith. There are so many good ones, I could recommend the episode on race, or LGBTQ matters, or another favorite, the marriage episode.

So the marriage episode, two couples talk. The two couples discuss what it is like when one goes through a major shift in belief and what it’s been like for them to continue on together as things still change. There was one line that has stuck with me. It’s on repeat, snagged in my memory. When one of the couples found themselves at a really difficult place because one of them became an atheist, the other spouse had to make a decision. How do you approach such a life changer, family changer, marriage changer like this? It’s not easy, but when she shared what she did, something in me just let go- a good let go.

What did you do when he told you he was an atheist? She said,

I leaned in.

Now we all know for those who read that Drew and I have been through similar moments, nothing new here. But the idea of leaning in to each other was the picture I had been looking for.

I find myself wanting to avoid so many hard things in life. Right now, parenting a difficult child comes to mind. There is so much inside of me that resists, fights, stiffens and wants to spew itself out in toxic anger and pain. Why is this so hard? What did we do?

I pull away from it all. I want so desperately to cover it up, go around it, ignore it (totally impossible) or drown it out with anything that will ease the struggle.

Can I lean in to this?

I’ve done it before, right? Drew and I both leaned in when our faith changed dramatically. To my surprise, it connected us even more. It deepened our relationship. We found peace by embracing the reality of our life.

The other night we had a seriously rough moment with our kid when he messed up pretty badly. I was so hurt and so angry. When will this get better? It feels never-ending.

I ran into the office and cried out to Drew, WHAT DO WE DO?

He reminded me of that story I shared with you about my mom. The one where I drank my pain all away and tried to hide it, on a college break home. Upon discovering this she asked me, “Why are you hurting so badly?”

She leaned in.

So that evening I did the same for my child. For me, it wasn’t a natural response. I was so frustrated. But I was amazed how quickly we got right underneath the problem instead of banging our heads against it.

So many places I want to pull away. So much of life we want to avoid.

But, I know that won’t lead to peace.   It really won’t.  Don’t we all know the story of someone we know that spent their life trying to escape those things.   There is no cover that will last.

So, I’m leaning in.


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