“Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.” –Fernando Sabino
I was standing over the shrimp dip when a family friend approached me. Although he was known to ask thought-provoking questions, and this was my going away party, I was not expecting this one. “So once you get settled in your new home, what do you imagine that moment will look like when you feel like everything is going turn out okay?” he asked.
In one mere sentence my friend went straight to my greatest fears, my greatest insecurities, and my greatest hopes. Funny thing is, I knew the answer to his question. I’d envisioned it a thousand times as I’d prepared our home to be emptied. Tears began dripping my face. An unsightly sea of mascara, I was sure, but I could not stop the tears if I tried. My friend didn’t act like it was any big deal. His wife, who is also my dear friend, had probably exposed him to spontaneous sobbing a few times. My friend just waited. Then he listened.
“When my children come home from school and say, ‘I met a friend today, Mama.’ That is when I know it’s gonna be okay. One friend makes the whole world better, you know. One friend for each girl. That is the moment,” I replied. Then I dabbed my eyes with a yellow party napkin and smiled because friends like that just make you smile even when you’re crying.
I thought that conversation concluded over appetizers and farewell hugs, but it didn’t. For the past two months, that conversation has continued in my head.
As I pulled away from our old house, car loaded, and deafening silence from the little people in the back seat, I drove straight into a torrential rain storm. Well, this is definitely not The Moment! I screamed in my head, sad and angry and unable to see the yellow line through tears and rainwater.
A few weeks later, my friend’s question came to mind when my daughters’ best friends came for a weeklong visit and nearly knocked them down with hugs and squeals. This is The Moment! Yep! Everything is going to be okay. I sighed with relief.
But then a few days later we watched fireworks in an unfamiliar place surrounded by strangers and every boom made my child shudder and moan, “I want to go back home—our real home.” This sure isn’t The Moment! I thought with frustration.
And then Meet-the-Teacher day happened and my child was lovingly noticed by the P.E. teacher and introduced to the sweet principal and associate principal. Now this is The Moment! I thought leaping for joy.
But the next day it was swim team suit try-on day in a crowded locker room with no air conditioning. So sweaty. Too small. New team. Missing old team. Tears. Homesick. Definitely Not The Moment.
Hmmm. I thought. What’s the deal? When will it be THE moment everything’s gonna be okay?
That’s about the time my younger daughter, Avery, got off the school bus with a miniature notebook hanging from her neck with a long, green ribbon.
“What’s that?” I asked secretly delighted to see my child not just carrying, but actually wearing, one of my favorite objects in the whole entire world. By the look of sheer joy on my face, she may as well have been carrying a tray of Godiva chocolates or round-trip tickets to a tropical island.
“This is my Tiny Topics Notebook. Our teacher wants us to write down small moments in our life,” she said matter-of-factly while holding out the leopard print covered pad for me to see.
Is this for real? I thought happily. A Tiny Topics Notebook! Could there be anything cuter? I was practically salivating now. If Rachel Stafford knew anything, she knew about Small Moments and Small Notebooks. My speechlessness must have led Avery to believe she needed to elaborate. “Our notebook is going to help us write stories … you know, Mama,” she said in a tone that sounded a lot like ‘duh.’
Avery knows about my ridiculous collection of small notebooks with pages and pages filled with important scribbles. She knows they are kept with my most important documents and can never be thrown away. Avery knows I wear an utterly tasteless fanny pack when I take walks so I don’t miss documenting any ideas. It’s creative writing at the most unstylish level. Truly. But a second grader with a miniature notebook strapped around her neck is a whole different matter. It is adorable. For days, Avery wore that thing around. Pushing her glasses up on her nose as she jotted down important little details when the mood struck her.
I was dying to know what was inside that flip pad that fit perfectly in her little hand. One night as I was tucking Avery in bed, I asked if I could read her Tiny Topics Notebook that she placed next to her bed each night. Avery said yes and gave me permission to share. Each page held one idea:
“moveing to a new place”
“playing a song called Peace on my guitar”
“going to a new school”
“visiting a water park”
“I got nurves in swiming and I could not swim.”
“painting nails with my sister”
Of course in my head, you know what I was adding to each detail, right? This was Not The Moment. This was The Moment. This was Not The Moment. This was The Moment. Because of course, little people have Moments and Not Moments too.
“These are all very important details,” I said proudly. “I like how you write about the hard moments as well as the happy ones,” I added as I carefully placed the notebook back in its special spot next to her head.
“Well, sometimes there are bad moments, but if I keep looking, there’s always a good one that pops up. So I keep on looking.” Just when I thought that little notebook couldn’t get any more precious, that little author of mine spoke those very wise and hopeful words.
I instantly knew that Avery and I had two people we must thank. I would have to thank my friend back home. His question had served as my Tiny Topics Notebook. The act of looking for The Moment and distinguishing it from Not The Moment became a practice of expectancy and hope during a difficult transition for me. We would also have to thank Avery’s teacher. Through this journaling process, the hard moments were less discouraging because Avery realized a good moment was bound to come if she kept on noticing.
And now I hope to help you. Pretend we’re talking over an insanely delicious chip dip or the best guacamole you ever tasted and you have your favorite adult beverage in hand. And let’s pretend I ask you a question. Pick the one that makes you stop for a moment and maybe even makes you tear up a little.
What will that moment look like when that long-held resentment begins to wane?
What will that moment look like when you begin to love yourself “as is”?
What will that moment look like when you begin choosing calm reactions over angry outbursts?
What will that moment look like when you stop delaying your life with “as soon as I …” and start living now?
What will be that moment look like when you begin to move forward and stop looking back?
What will that moment look like when you stop putting off your dream and take the first step?
What will that moment look like when you decide to live by heart and not by outside pressures and opinions?
What will that moment look like when you forgive yourself?
What will that moment look like when you start to believe things are going to turn out okay?
I hope one of those questions becomes an on-going conversation in your head over the next few weeks, months, or even years. And I hope it inspires you to keep looking. Because there is something to be said for preparing your head and your heart for That Moment …
In the act of looking for That Moment, it becomes a real possibility rather than a far-fetched dream.
In the act of looking for That Moment, you find it is not a single moment, but rather a meaningful collection of moments that keep fueling you forward.
In the act of looking for That Moment, you gather the courage to keep showing up, even when it’s scary, even when it’s hard, even when it hurts.
In the act of looking for That Moment, it has less chance of passing you by.
Last Sunday my family walked into a new church with new friends … new friends we met through a recent blog post … … new friends who said, “It seems like we were best friends before and then we got amnesia and found each other again.” That kind of friend. And there was one for each girl. And there was even one for me.
It was The Moment alright. Maybe it was even The Best One so far. But in any case, I will keep looking for more moments. After all, there are many tiny notebooks to fill.
Friends of the Hands Free Revolution, tell us your stories. What Moment are you currently looking for? At what Moment did you know things were gonna be okay? Each week, your experiences shed a little light on someone else’s darkness. Thank you for sharing your hearts.
*Update: My friends, thank you for the overwhelming response to my recent post, “How to Change Someone’s Story/The 6-Second Challenge” The story of Avery’s P.E. teacher picking her out of a crowd to let her know she mattered … that she was beautiful … that she was welcomed at her new school has gained international exposure and inspired hearts worldwide. It has also made a tremendous impact on a personal level (which I alluded to at the end of today’s post). I ended up sending the blog post to Avery’s P.E. teacher to let her know she ignited something powerful in the hearts of many, many people. Little did I know she would connect me to a woman who has been reading my blog since its induction … a woman who has a unique Firefly of her own … a woman who felt like a long-lost sister. Recently our families got together and needless to say, it felt like HOME—or like best friends who got amnesia and found each other again (as our new friend Annie said). I am incredibly thankful for this divinely orchestrated union of 3 families and wanted to offer a glimpse of this happiness with you, my faithful companions on this journey …