I went to Colorado to find a safe place to let my heart break.
In the clean light and thin air, I started to face the fact that life was not turning out the way I had expected. I was working incredibly hard but felt like I was getting nowhere. I had been trying so hard to get my life to follow the pattern I wanted: get married, have babies, work hard, play hard.
Growing up, I recklessly assumed that such a life would come to me.
I didn’t think of myself as “entitled,” but it sure came as a surprise to stand there at twenty-nine years old, and feel like my life didn’t measure up. I was exhausted and bitter, and I knew I couldn’t stay that way.
God came and found me in those mountains. That weekend was a divine invitation to leave my expectations and entitlements in the ice and snow, and they’ve long since melted away.
Here’s the thing, though: it’s not a quick fix. It never is.
Working through difficult emotions and confronting faulty thought patterns are not one-and-done things.
I had to let go of comparison, false expectations, and the illusion of control, in order to make room in my life for grace, friendship, gratitude, and joy.
It had to start somewhere, though, and for me, it started with gaining the ability to be honest and clear with myself.
On the surface, my main priority had been to remain functional.
That meant that below the surface, all of the heartache, frustration, and disappointment were tangled, untended and undefined. I felt lost and disconnected. I needed help and support, but how could I possibly explain to another person what I was feeling when I couldn’t even explain it to myself?
That inability to talk about it held me back from being able to get the connection and support I needed.
More than anything, what I needed was to let my guard down and admit that I was hurt. That I felt unsafe and uncertain. I needed to lay down my pride and self-defense, and allow myself to feel it all, fully and deeply.
That was the key to my healing.
Being able to put words to our stories — and how we feel about them — allows us, first and foremost, to orient ourselves. It takes us from feeling lost in a haze to being able to see clearly where we are. When we understand where we are, it is infinitely easier to determine how to get to where we want to be.
It also helps us orient ourselves in our important relationships.
If we choose to invite others in, words are the way we do so.
If you are a fan of any team sports, you can appreciate the importance of ball control. It’s not nearly as much fun to watch your team play defense. There is excitement any time your team gets the ball back because it has the potential to create a momentum shift, and it gets them moving in the right direction.
So it is with us. Putting words to our thoughts gives us the chance to take control of the proverbial ball, and begin to move it in the direction we want to go.
The more we get to know ourselves and understand who we are, who we want to be, and where we want to go, the more we can purposefully direct our thoughts and actions to help us get there.
The more we can articulate what we think and feel, the easier it will be to change faulty thought patterns and find healthier perspectives.
We can leave behind the lies our doubts, fears, or jealousies have led us to believe, and reclaim the truth.
And there we find the potential for a momentum shift in our lives.