Living Fully and Fully Living: Sorry, This is Not a How-to Guide

This past weekend was a difficult one in some ways. We were playing catch-up with laundry, cleaning, and grocery shopping, so the activities themselves were not the most fun. But on top of that, this weekend was one of those times when Jonathan and I just didn’t click the way we usually do and we had conversations that were painful and difficult and exhausting.

I admit that there are moments when I wonder what I would be doing right now if Jonathan and I hadn’t gotten married. If my life wasn’t so intertwined with someone else’s that my decisions are no longer my own. These are not moments of regret for the choice I made or wish I wasn’t married, they are just moments when I marvel at how a small choice here or there leads to a life-changing one like getting married and how the life-changing ones shape who you are and who you become. When I’ve considered it, I’ve always assumed that if Jonathan and I hadn’t gotten married, if he hadn’t been in the picture, I would have ended up in Africa or England or Indonesia—somewhere distant and new and full of new experiences.

But on weekends like this past one, I am reminded of why the path I am on is right. Why God has asked me to walk this one instead of the one where I walk alone under a scorching African sun. It is in the moments that Jonathan lets me see his brokenness, in the moments that he looks and fully sees the harsh reality of my own, in the moments when we together are forced to confront the brokenness of us, our marriage, our hearts, our lives, that I know I couldn’t do without him. It is this brokenness that reminds us of our need, for each other and most of all, for Christ.  I am not saying that single people cannot do great things on their own or that God’s plan for everyone is to get married. I am saying that God has chosen to shape me and mold me and lavish his grace on me through this man. And he has (wonder of wonders) chosen to shape and to mold and to lavish grace on this man through me. So as much some days I sit in my cube and wish I was somewhere far away holding orphans or writing novels or watching the ocean swallowing up the shore, I know that I could never do these things without Jonathan. Whatever God’s great plan is for me, it is intimately connected to God’s plan for Jonathan. And that is a beautiful thing.

I’ve been thinking a lot since my last post about what it means to live with the tension between the realities of everyday life and the dreams that crowd my mind and heart. How do I live a full life with all of the experiences I want to have and also fully live where I am right now? Jonathan suggested to me that perhaps it’s unhealthy for me to lay awake at night, craving adventures. I’ve thought this over and I have to say, I disagree. In a world oppressed by apathy, I think it’s a tremendous gift to want something so incredibly much. I think these desires are something God has placed in me. But I do understand what Jonathan is trying to tell me. That it isn’t right to focus so much on my dreams that I am miserable with the present. That when I am so intent on where I want to be, I miss where God has placed me right now. And he’s right. (Sigh.)

Striking a balance between being content with and fully present where I am and still holding onto and pursuing the dreams God has placed in my heart seems like an impossible battle some days. Some days it doesn’t even feel like something I want to do. What I want is for God to go ahead and give me the desires of my heart RIGHT NOW! But since God’s not on my timetable, I know that I still need both of those things. I confess that I am a woman of extremes and I don’t know how to do balance. But how better to learn balance than from the Center of the universe (or multiverse, whichever you prefer.) The one who impossibly manages to oversee the constant expansion project of the cosmos and at the same time notices the three hairs that fell from my head in the shower this morning.

There are two ways that I am actively pursuing this balance in my life. One is by setting achievable goals for myself here and now. Things I can work towards that will ground me in the present. That will help my day-to-day life look more like a journey with a destination than a run on the treadmill. I have set goals, small goals, for loving my co-workers. For developing relationships with our neighbors. For getting involved in our new church. For taking a step of faith and applying to grad school. Even for training to run the Disney Princess half-marathon in February.  Because taking small steps towards a goal reminds me to live life on purpose and that I can do that even when I’m not in a position to pursue my long-term goals.

The other way I am pursuing balance is by asking God to help me recognize the gifts that saturate each day.  By opening my eyes to the miracles of sunshine in the morning, the fresh air filling my lungs with each inhalation, the job that pays me enough that I never have to worry about being hungry. And also for the gifts that are unique to each day: the gift of my husband making coffee this morning, the gift of the smell of damp earth this morning after a violent storm last night, the gift of an email from my youngest sister, just wanting to share life with me.

For all of you reading this, I would love to hear about your gifts in this day. I would love to be thankful with you for the tiny ways God whispers love and purpose and approval over you.


    1. Kay! Thank you so much for reading! I’m so inspired by all of the people who read this and take the time to say, “Me too! I feel that too!” It’s good to know that even when we don’t have it figured out, we can still be an encouragement to each other. Hope you’re doing well, girl. Thanks for the comment. 🙂


  1. Today is Tim’s last day at Blue Nile, and I get him to myself for the next 4 days, and it’s sunny in Seattle today. Those are the gifts I’ve been given today. Thank you for reminding me to look around at what I should be grateful for. Love you.


  2. Haha, that’s the reason I decided to run a half-marathon too! I wanted an achievable goal to work towards other than just “grad school” for the next three years 🙂

    I am thankful for my extremely loving and gracious husband, Aaron. I am grateful for a Christmas tree and decorations. I am blessed to be able to study things that matter and that I love each day.


  3. I love these posts Lily. They are so honest and heartfelt. I have been thinking so much about contentment lately too. I feel like I should be so incredibly happy right now–and I get mad at myself for being ungrateful because I know that I literally have everything—my hubby, my daughter, (I even get to stay home with her!) and yet sometimes I feel discontent. I have also been struggling with the whole “what am I doing with my life” and “should I be in Africa” phenomenon. I keep wondering if the monotony of being a mom–diapering, feeding, etc. is contributing anything to the world. It’s part of what is hard about being a Stay At Home Mom right now. Thanks for putting your two cents in. Wonderfully eloquent.


    1. Hey Briana! Thanks for reading. I think even the people who seem to have everything they could wish for are always struggling with that sense that we’re missing something, that there’s more, that we’re not doing enough. It may not be all that comforting to realize that even people whose lives we envy have these same feelings, but it is good to know that we are not alone and that somehow, this longing for something more is a part of being human and it’s something we all wrestle with. I love reading your blog. I can’t believe you’re a mom. It seems like just last summer we were romping around England. Life moves so quickly. Another reason I’m always antsy about taking it all in. : )


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