Exactly one year ago my family moved to a new state. I felt internal pressure to dive into activities, make friends, and navigate new territories because that’s what I did in our three previous moves.
But instead of going outside to become acclimated, I came inside.
I flanked myself with family. We planted seeds in the backyard. We waded in nearby streams. We paid attention to the way the summer rain sounded on our rooftop. My blog went quiet. I filled many notebooks, only my eyes privy to the words I’d share when ready.
I did not jump in. I did not take action. But I was always looking—looking for The Moment when it felt like everything would be okay in this new place. Much to my relief, there were many of those soul-assuring moments when divine connections and experiences brought tears to my grateful eyes. We’ll be okay, I often reminded myself quietly and consistently.
Despite the moments of assurance, I could not ignore the missing pieces—the important parts that made our life a life before the transition. These particular missing pieces created a painful void that could not be denied.
For the first time in four years, my eleven-year-old daughter did not have small children to come to her homemade summer school.
She stopped making lesson plans and talk of becoming a teacher disappeared.
For the first time in four years, my eight-year-old daughter did not have a guitar instructor who taught her both the singing and strumming.
She stopped singing and the joy slowly diminished from the pluck of her guitar strings.
For the first time in years, I was writing a book without my sister friends—those who knew and loved the pre Hands Free version of me and had supported me through the book writing process once before.
I stopped writing the second book despite the looming deadline; I just couldn’t find the words.
The missing pieces seemed to be emphasized when my younger daughter would crawl into bed at night. She’d slide her hands beneath the pillow and bury her face into its softness. After breathing deeply, she’d say, “Put your head on my pillow, Mama. Feel how soft and cozy it is? It feels like home. The real home.”
Pictures of her best friends sat by that pillow. Do you think they’ll forget me? She often asked.
When there are missing pieces in our lives, things don’t feel quite right.
Naturally, my controlling, Type-A personality surfaced during these moments of insecurity, imploring me to fill the missing pieces in our new life. Research! Network! Plot and plan! Take action! Dive in! Get all the details in order! my inner perfectionist ordered.
For the first time in my life, I did not take action. I waited. I trusted. I listened. I held on.
For the first time in my life, I allowed myself to simply BE despite the urge to fix the hurts and fill the spaces. My prayer was that by being quiet, I would know when the right thing came along; I would know when to take action.
It came six months into our transition when I went to a speaking event of one of my favorite authors in a town nearby. It came three months after that when Listen To Your Mother held auditions for their show in my new city. It came again one month ago when I felt called to bring my daughter’s former guitar and voice teacher to perform for our neighborhood as we danced on green grass and picnic-covered blankets.
With each deliberate action, a missing piece was divinely filled. Last week, nearly a year since the move, it appeared that those pieces were no longer absent. I looked through the lens of my camera with tear-filled eyes to see less emptiness and more life …
Precious little children delighting in Natalie’s summer school (now known as Disney Princess Camp) …
Avery joyfully singing and strumming “Amazing Grace” with her extraordinary new guitar and voice teacher (a beautiful writer divinely appointed to encourage our child) …
And me, dancing to live music with new sister friends and celebrating a completed book going to print in mere weeks …
Our family recently returned to our house after visiting dear friends from our old neighborhood. Avery snuggled into her bed and said, “It’s good to be back.” And then with a contented smile she added, “Home.”
One year ago, I never would have imagined these words from her lips.
One year ago, I wondered if I should be doing more to fill the missing pieces.
But in the waiting and the listening, the voids were filled far better than I could have ever planned.
My friends, I have spent a year gathering hope. And I think it was so I could offer it to you today. Whether you face a physical move or one of life’s many transitions, there’s a good chance you have some missing pieces. And although these holes feel empty, worrisome, and stressful, I want to suggest an alternative to what your head is probably telling you to do:
Maybe the best thing you could do right now is just sit with it awhile.
Maybe the bravest thing you could do right now is just decide this will not defeat you.
Maybe the most productive thing you could do right now is just fold your hands in solitude.
Maybe the most sensible thing you could do right now is just laugh … laugh in the face of it all.
Maybe the most powerful thing you could do right now is just close your eyes and envision a positive outcome.
Maybe the most loving thing you could do right now is just give yourself room to breathe.
Maybe the best thing to do right now looks like nothing at all.
But it’s not.
Because when you’re gathering hope,
When you’re gathering strength,
When you’re gathering resilience,
In the face of transition, challenge, and uncertainty,
Sometimes the best thing you can do right now is just hold on and listen.
Because in this Great Act of Inaction, you are better able to hear the most important callings on your heart. And in some round about way, in some time period beyond your control, may those voids will be filled in ways you could have never imagined.
Friends of The Hands Free Revolution, when I took six weeks off from the blog and FB page last summer to adjust to our new life, something quite profound happened to my writing. My long-time editor immediately noticed the difference when I began writing again. We both agreed that a higher level of quality and expression had been reached. My productivity driven mind was given undeniable proof that sometimes production must cease so creative gifts can flourish and grow. Given what is ahead with the HANDS FREE LIFE book release in September, I am going to go offline for several weeks to come inside … flank myself with family … scribble notes that will become inspiring blog posts to share with you. I hope to write for you for a very long time. I think substantial reprieves from the online world will help me do that. Thank you for supporting my work with your comments, post shares, purchases in the Hands Free Shop, and by buying my books. My family and I have the deepest gratitude for each one of you. I will miss you while I am offline, but know I will be back better than ever in mid-July.