opened heart

In November, we experienced an extended family crisis. It rocked me. It undid me. For 4 days we thought our lives would radically change and my head and heart oriented to that change. New information brought new perspective and the hurricane sized winds died down. It’s a story not mine to tell. A story owned by someone we love. We remain present and available with the unknown of if/how we will ever be called on to support in the future. Staying present and available means my heart remains open and open doesn’t feel safe.

I’ve asked myself a hundred times why I haven’t been able to blog these past three months. A follower of my blog reached out to check on us — are you okay? A fellow writer herself, she knows if pen isn’t hitting paper usually there’s something else going on because as a writer, getting the words out is almost as necessary as breathing.

Am I okay?

Yes and…no.

Yes, because this holiday season was the most joy-filled one I can remember. Between a foursome trip to Puerto Rico, Lukas’ 40th birthday celebration, Tabby’s 4th birthday princess tea party, our family accomplishing 75Hard, hosting both sides of our family at our new home for Christmas, celebrating my brother and sister-in-law’s pregnancy, church events with our chosen family — there were so many joy-filled moments.

…people find experiences of joy difficult to articulate…the very nature of joy pushes the boundaries of our ability to communicate about lived experience via spoken language.” (Brené Brown in Atlas of the Heart)

Words fall short describing these experiences. Here’s a bunch of pictures to capture them, instead.

So yes, I’m okay. And yet, not fully. God opened my heart in November during the crisis, and everything in me wants to close it back. Close myself off from the situation, close myself off from being a safe place if and when called to do so. It would be easier. It would be safer. My heart would hurt less. And I don’t like to feel hurt, I like to feel safe. I like things I can control and knowns I can expect. This choice to stay open, to stay available, it’s pretty scary.

Back in November, I made myself a cup of tea. Bedtime tea is part of my nightly ritual so this wasn’t out of the ordinary. The mug I used wasn’t, either. “Love grows here”. I’d seen those words on the Target shelf and knew I had to have them, later drinking mugs full of hot beverages as I glanced at the thirteen letters, time and time again.

But this time, day three of my heart being opened by the crisis, I read them again…

Love GROWS here.


It’s created,

It’s added.

There’s more of it.

Duh, right?

And yet, the words sat with me differently. I’d opened my heart and God did something. He literally grew it. He made it larger, my heart is bigger, there’s space for more.

There’s no bow on the November situation. No resolve. No redemption. No “end of the movie” moment. It’s undone, unknown, and unfinished. And because of that, my heart remains open.

As I scroll up and look at the pictures of all my joy-filled moments, I wonder — is it possible I experienced those moments, in the full way I did, because God called me to keep my, now bigger, heart open?

Keeping my heart open hurts sometimes. There are moments I’d rather just close off, hide or run. That feels safer.

And then I ask myself, do I want a safe life?

As I look at the pictures above, I imagine them popping like balloons, one after another, disappearing from my memory. I start to feel pain, again, as I think of all of those moments not being part of my reality, all of those people I’ve chosen to love with my big, open heart, not being there, instead.

Maybe November is my story to tell after all. The story of a woman called by God to keep opening her heart. A woman who feels the hurt of doing so, who suffers under the stretching and expanding, who sometimes feels grief and sadness and fear and doubt. A woman who’s decided to keep her heart open, to fight back against the closing and running and hiding. A woman who picks big and open over known and safe. A woman, standing before you with a bigger, opened heart.

xoxo, va

One thought on “opened heart

  1. So thankful that this open heart loves me so well! So thankful that this open heart is modeling for me how to hold the unknown with love.


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