Monday, June 11, 2018

How I Found My Beautiful Life: Somewhere Near the Beginning

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"Every life is braided with luminous moments."
~ John O'Donohue, from The Invisible Embrace of Beauty

   
This post goes back in time to the start of my life's journey. No, not as far back as my birth date--I was thinking a little more recent than that, but still over forty years ago. It was 1977 and I was about to graduate from college. I had just turned twenty, and although turning eighteen two years earlier meant I was legally an adult, for me it was my twentieth birthday and graduation that really marked the end of my youth and childhood and ushered in my life as an adult. It was a monumental moment as I gazed into my future.

Though the future was expectedly misty in detail, I felt alive with youthful hope for all the possibilities spread out before me. Naturally I was curious about what my life would be like, but one thing I had absolutely no doubt about. It was something I'd been dreaming about since I was a little girl -- that my life would definitely include one very nice Prince Charming. And by my estimation he had already run a little late for a very important date. You see, I had secretly hoped to meet this handsome young man during my college years, to be one of the couples who studied together in the library, mooning over their books and secretly holding hands under the table. (Lorrie, was that you?) 

Alas, it was not to be. Slightly disappointed but completely confident he would appear around the next corner, I worried not. There were just so many other interesting things to fill my thoughts--like getting ready for the three-month working trip to Venezuela I would embark on shortly after grad. Life was good.



Memories are like antiques,
the older they are the more valuable they became.
~ Marinela Reka

There is something that I have to tell you about before I go any further. It was just a tiny moment in time, but it ended up playing a key role in my overall life story. It was just before graduation and everyone was clearing out their dorm rooms. My roommate, Darlene, had already moved her things out. I, too, was packed and ready to go hand in the key. The room, empty and bereft of all our college paraphernalia, echoed with memories of laughter and homesick tears, silly and fun hall parties, late night whispered confidences, life-time friendships being forged, remembrances of those crazy all-nighter stints to finish term papers, including my room detention once for skipping breakfast too many times. So many wonderful memories had been created in that room. Now it was time to go.

In that moment before the door closed for the last time, I stopped to whisper a little prayer. It was me marking the threshold moment. God, as I begin my new life, I want You to know I am willing to do whatever You have for me, and when I'm not willing, I'm willing to be made willing ... and please don't let me marry the wrong man.

Little did I know that little cry that I seemingly tacked on at the end in all earnestness was to impact my life for years to come.

* * *

When I think about my twenties and my thirties, I think of them this way: my twenties were all about finding my life as an adult, and my thirties were all about discovering how to have a beautiful life when I found myself a career girl and still single, not the wife, mother, and homemaker I once dreamed of being.

Right after grad, I traveled to Venezuela and lived there for three four months (I stayed an extra month). I loved, loved living there but that's a story for another time. When I came back home to Canada, I stayed with my family on the farm until Christmas, after which my mom and I went into the big city to hunt for an apartment, so that I could start looking for a job. What fun I had setting up housekeeping for myself, paying rent each month like a grownup, finding new friends, going shopping, and participating in a new church and young adult group. I was involved in volunteering and loved teaching Sunday School to grade five kids, singing in the choir and the annual Singing Christmas Tree, creating workshops for church education conferences, going on holidays, entertaining friends, taking community courses in flower arranging, sewing, etc.

In the middle of it all, over the years I kept my eyes peeled for that nice Prince Charming who was sure to be stepping out of the shadows any moment and who would be the one to help make my dreams come true. But, as life would have it, in all those years that nice young man never materialized. There were some possibilities, but promising starts always ended in disappointment. One young man told my roommate he thought I was beautiful, but that he wasn't ready to get married (he was engaged six months later, so much for not being ready to marry, just not to me).

Another one was perfect (in my eyes) but when he found I was older than he was, he figured I wasn't perfect for him and was outta there. So, so disappointed. It's good to learn to trust God in those times, but oh the tears and wails along the way. One time I cried out to Him asking for something from Him that would sustain me in my heartbreak. He replied (to my astonishment). I actually heard His voice somewhere near my ear, and I knew it was Jesus speaking. I told Him that I had so much love to give and nobody wanted it. And He said, yes, he knew how that felt, he too had so much love to give and so many didn't want it either. Talk about an intersecting of my heart with the Divine One's heart. That was a living experience I held dear to my heart for a very long time. I felt cherished and honoured that he would speak to me so clearly. To think that we shared this similar 'rejection'. He knew my heart and now I knew something of His heart. I was so comforted by it.

* * *

The decade and my twenties flew by and soon I found myself turning thirty. I was established in my job working for the Premier of Alberta--a career girl just like Mary Tyler Moore--something I had not planned for at all. But I liked my job. I loved working at my own desk, and I loved the beautiful Legislature Building in which I worked. I had good friends and enjoyed fun times together. I went to Europe with my best friend-cum-sister-housemate. I joined the calligraphy guild and took water colour classes, even took a Victorian lampshade making class. I adored our two sweet kitties, Gilbert and Sullivan--they filled my life with so much joy. I was involved with a church I loved. And I was a proud auntie to three little nephews. Did I say that life was good, it was just not what I expected.

I'll have you know I did not have a melt down when I turned thirty upon coming home from yet another wedding still single in a world where everybody else seemed to be finding partners. I had meltdowns in my twenties, but I was growing up. I'd already had some inklings as I neared my new decade that I needed to shift my thinking. I had to think about what I wanted ... and after much heart searching, I knew I wanted to live a beautiful life ... show the world it was more than okay to be single. That there was life and happiness in this state of being. Oh, and though I still hoped for love and marriage, I wasn't going to wait around for it anymore.


We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned,
so as to have the life that is waiting for us.
~ E.M. Forster 


For the life of me, I don't know why I didn't ever clue in that I had prayed a prayer years earlier about not marrying the wrong man. Maybe I never thought God would take notice or that He would actually answer it. Yet, all along He was very faithfully closing the door on unsuitable mates, until years later, when meeting the man I would marry, that door never closed. Through it all, I was learning to trust Him. And to love Him dearly.

* * *

And so... you now have a little idea of where I started and how things unfolded in my life as a young woman. I had to learn to embrace the life I had, not the one I yearned for. I also had to learn that a beautiful life doesn't just happen, but it's something that flourishes and grows choice by choice by choice. And, by listening to the One who longs to share His wisdom and His beautiful love with anyone who wants it.

There's so much more to tell. It will come little by little ... I have to go through the memory archives much like going into an old cedar chest. Only instead of storing away treasured items, I'll be taking things out -- kind of like a hope chest in reverse. But that's all for another day. It's time to wrap this up for today. So, on that note...

I'm wishing you glimpses
of heaven in unexpected places,

Hugs,
Brenda
xox


46 comments:

  1. A great beginning, I look forward to reading more!

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    1. Thanks for your loving support, Kathy!! xox

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  2. So beautiful written,so many memories, looking forward to the next chapter!

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  3. Lovely story so far! I agree about living the life you have, not the one you were hoping for. We can choose to make our lives beautiful...

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    1. It was actually the words from one of Kazuo Ishiguro's novels that really shifted my perspective on my life generally. For me, it keeps the regrets to a diminished key in the song of life: "There was another life that I might have had, but I am having this one."

      Thanks, Deanna, for visiting. xox

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  4. g'morning.. beautiful blog and especially this post.
    looking forward to reading "the rest of the story."
    and i love this quote:
    We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned,
    so as to have the life that is waiting for us.
    ~ E.M. Forster

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    1. Sherry, So glad for your visit. Thank you so much for your lovely comment. Brenda

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  5. Brenda, this is beautifully written! And your prayer to not marry the wrong man---so wise. Truly, to not marry at all would be better than to marry a bad man.

    That quote by E.M. Forster is one that has spoken to me over the years too. you see, I planned to have 5 children. But that wasn't God's plan for me. His plan was 2.

    That is a great photo. Very familiar 1970's hairstyle, which I wore too.

    I am looking forward to the next chapter of your story.

    Blessings,
    Patti @ Celebrating Our Days

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    1. Patti, Oh yes, the Farrah Fawcett hairstyle. It doesn't matter the era, we tend to love the trends and the stars who set them. Thanks for stopping in! xox

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  6. loving thoughts as you reflect. I did marry the wrong man but was able to learn and grow from the experience through God's help. Thanks for sharing...

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    1. Thank you so much for your visit. I'm always grateful that no matter our choices, He gives us grace to learn and grow through them -- He somehow makes it beautiful for us.

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  7. Love this post, Brenda! I burst out laughing at your little aside there. It could have been us! Coming to the realization that living a full life is possible no matter the circumstances is for everyone. It's paying attention to the world, and to God's voice in it. I love that you heard God's whisper in your ear - not many people admit to it (or perhaps don't hear him).

    That photo of you in Whittaker Hall takes me way back. And the hair! I'm looking forward to more.

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    1. Haha, Lorrie, I thought you might enjoy that little aside. I used to do gratis work in the library. I loved working there amongst all the books (and seeing those mooning couples). It was a lot of fun poking out those old BBC memories. And what about those orange draperies?

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    2. They were the latest decor, weren't they?

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  8. It is a great beginning (and will look great in print too, when that day comes). Look forward to reading about all those treasures coming out of the hope chest, in reverse!

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  9. Your words paint a picture and I’m right there with you!
    And your blog title says it all. It IS a beautiful life.

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    1. Christine, your words make me happy. Thank you! xox

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  10. Oh Brenda I cannot wait to read the next chapter in your life. Your writing and sharing of your trust in the Lord is so lovely to read. Thank you for sharing your story. Hugs

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    1. Thank you, Debbie, for your encouraging word to me. I feel hugged. xox

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  11. I am privileged to have met you. Brenda, and know that your kindness and lovely personality just shine through. It had to be a very special man to be good enough for you! And God had that in hand.

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    1. Dear Elizabethd, You make my heart sing. The privilege was mine to have met you that lovely morning somewhere in Cornwall. He certainly had that in hand. :) xox

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  12. "I don't wanna, but I'm willing to be made willing" is a powerful prayer that I have never known to fail. He takes our "wants" and transforms us to His will, giving us so much more than we could ever hope for or imagine.

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    1. "Giving us so much more than we could ever hope for or imagine" ... so true, Carol. xox

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  13. Beautifully written and, having a daughter who never plans to marry because she "won't settle" I am intrigued by your memories. Waiting for the next chapter...

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    1. I'm dreaming on the next chapter ... hope it shall be worth the wait.

      I was always taken with Luci Swindoll's (Charle's Swindoll's sister) desire that she never wanted to marry. She wrote about her story years ago in "Wide My World, Narrow My Bed". Personally, I could never wrap my head that someone didn't want to get married from personal choice. I used to think every girl wanted to get married, but wasn't from lack of opportunities or decent men to choose from.

      Wishing you a great day, Vee. xox

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  14. Brenda, what a delightful thing to read this (almost) beginning of your story! I am going to share this post with my twenty-something daughter who finds herself where you were once upon a time. She, too, wants to be married, but not to the wrong man.

    Thank you for sharing this. How wonderful to find Him faithful!

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    1. Faithful indeed! But I learned that in hindsight. Walking through it was a challenge. I hope, with a little prayer of my own, that your daughter finds her own place of hope and trust in this journey of hers.

      Wishing you a beautiful day, Cheryl! xox

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  15. I was totally involved in this post. God really does know what is best for us. I have to say that when my husband of 39 years passed away,I had the idea that another man would enter my life and I could once again have that strong arm to lean on.Well,it looks like God has other ideas.It is now almost eight years later and I must say that I am content to be alone,if that is where God wants me.

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    1. Oh Ruth, It looks like we both had to learn a similar lesson -- just at different seasons in our lives -- of learning to leaning on Him rather than on the people around us. I pray He is that beautiful banner of love over you. xox

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  16. "Please don't let me marry the wrong" one...Every young person, and old, should pray this prayer.

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    1. Wouldn't that be awesome? I surely never felt clever enough to have thought of such a prayer -- I always felt it was inspired by Him in the first place. So grateful for it. Wishing you a lovely day, Sandi! xox

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  17. A beautiful beginning, I'm looking forward to more of the story. And the photo of your desk ... looks almost exactly like mine back then!! Oh the memories.

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  18. loved reading this! I should have prayed the same prayer...as I did not avoid marrying the wrong man......and twice at that! BUT I have a wonderful son from the 2nd marriage and he has been a blessing......so maybe it was not entirely a mistake in that regard at least. Looking forward to reading more!

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    1. I'm glad that good things can come out of not-so-good choices. I'm happy to hear your son has been such a blessing to you. Have you ever read Susan Branch's memoirs (The Fairy Tale Girl, Isle of Dreams, A Fine Romance)? In them, she shares so warmly how the awful things in her earlier life became the catalyst to her beautiful life down the road. // Happy day to you, Melinda! xox

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  19. “I had to learn to embrace the life I had, not the one I yearned for. I also had to learn that a beautiful life doesn't just happen, but it's something that flourishes and grows choice by choice by choice.” These are lessons we all need to learn. Thanks for sharing 🤗

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    1. Ruth, So very true. It's all part of the journey, isn't it? xox

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  20. That was a lovely sharing of your journey, Brenda. Like so many others, I am looking for the next installment! Thank you so much for visiting my blog, too. It's always wonderful to see that you have visited. A most blessed and happy weekend to you! Susan

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    1. Lovely to read your comment, Susan. Your blog is a happy place to visit! xox

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  21. Fascinating, Brenda, and beautifully written as always. How I admire your honesty and openness, can't wait for the next chapter.
    Amalia
    xo

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  22. I know what it's like when your life doesn't follow the same trajectory so this post really resonated with me. I think this is an important lesson to instill in young people. At her recent Darthmouth commencement speech, Mindy Kaling told the new graduates, "don't be scared if you don’t do things in the right order, or if you don’t do some things at all...feel free to let it go."

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    1. Good words from Mindy indeed -- they are so freeing. Thanks for sharing, Margie, and for stopping by. xox

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  23. Oh, my goodness Brenda ~ I am so happy that I waited until I had time to read this beautiful piece. You have written it so beautifully, it should be an opening chapter in one of those lovely bound, little inspirational books. I am so looking forward to the next chapter of your "Beautiful Life." Thank you for sharing, truly it is beautiful!

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    1. You're so encouraging, Sandra, thank you, thank you. xox

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To My Beautiful Readers,

Some people come into our lives, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never the same. ~ Franz Peter Schubert

Thank you so much for leaving your 'footprint' here in my comment box. I do appreciate you taking a moment to share your thoughts today.

Brenda xox

PS. I do not always comment here, but I do look forward to coming and visiting you....