Living Like Koi

There are certain species of fish that are rumored to grow as large as their environment allows. I say rumored because the validity of that statement cannot be wholly substantiated on the great wide internet. It’s alleged that Koi fish are one of those fish who will grow in that manner. Koi fish are beautiful! They are similar to common goldfish in coloring, temperament, and their docile nature. Interestingly enough, I’ve seen more Koi on human bodies via tattoos than in the world.

Moving. We are moving. Not my favorite thing to do. This time we added another little stress into our move: downsizing. What a chore. When we rented our little piece of Shangri-La at the beach it was a summer house that we took a two year lease. Then another year… and another… and finally another.

As each kid moved we assumed their rooms with our necessities. Can you hear me laugh? What you discover when you move – especially when you downsize – is that there are precious few things in your house that qualify as a necessity. We’ve found things in here that we forgot we had! Things that we absolutely HAD to have when we moved here but never took out of the box.

This house currently holds 2 adults and two dogs with a combined body weight of 16lbs. Why on earth do we have 5,000 coffee mugs and bunch of stuff we won’t use? Things we just had to get to make this easier or that more convenient only did this: deprived us of cash and space. Apparently, we are Koi fish. We will utilize every ounce of space we’re given.

Clear, purge, reduce. It’s almost like weight loss in a way. In order to lose weight you have to reduce what you eat, purge your unhealthy habits, and learn how to positively handle and address your emotions… almost like a clearing. You discover that everything that weighs you down isn’t yours to carry. You learn to let go.

There’s actually something beautiful in letting go. Everything we touch has a memory. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by how many memories we had in this house. Kids having friends over, graduations, grandkids visiting, our parents visiting, our grown kids visiting! Our annual summer family gathering. We even hosting a wedding in our backyard! We are now tasked with holding on to the memories without holding all the stuff.

The big items will move to our new place today and we’ll reside comfortably with 3 less bedrooms and free from all the things we just knew we needed. I’m looking forward to utilizing our space better, more organized, and for the first time: with what we actually need not what we think we need.

The trick will be making sure we really are like Koi and will keep in size with our new environment.

Beautiful Destinations in Pain

If there’s one thing that’s universal it’s struggle. We all struggle with something. Do you struggle with fear? Anxiety? Failure? Success? Do you struggle with loss? Gain? Misunderstanding? Do you struggle with food? Weight? Alcohol? Drugs?

Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations. – Zig Ziglar

I’ve seen this quite every where and often quoted to unknown or a million other people. Who said, it is secondary to its power. It’s a powerful quote because it is so true. No matter what card we were dealt, we’re all playing a hand and theres joy in knowing that our struggle will shape us… and will shape someone else.

I knew a young woman (I’ll call her Sally) who suffered from multiple miscarriages. It was absolutely devastating for her and the emotional toll of her losses claimed her marriage and her self esteem. Sally suffered for years carrying the burden of these losses. A few years later another woman (I’ll call Jane) was also silently struggling with the same situation. Jane was unable to carry a child to term and couldn’t vocalize her pain. No one knew how much she suffered. She feared people either wouldn’t understand or would just pity her. Her silence was destroying her.

I was blessed to find myself in the same room with these two women – both strangers at a support group run by my church. As we all shared our struggles they both listened. When it was Sally’s turn to speak, she began to share her story of her miscarriages and how she was struggling to maintain her faith that She’ll be a mother one day.

Suddenly, Jane burst into tears! I was taken by surprise because she was silently listening the whole meeting. Sally immediately stopped and directly asked Jane if she was okay. Between sobs, Jane choked out her story of miscarriages and the pain she was experiencing, how worthless she felt, and how it took up every corner of her brain making it impossible to move forward. She thought no one could possibly understand her feelings of loss and fear.

Sally, who moments earlier was just sharing her struggle walked to Jane and put her arms around her and listened. When she was done, Jane collapsed into Sally’s arms finally unburdened from the weight of her silence and her grief for that moment. Sally was now a comforter, telling Jane that the losses are painful but she knows that one day she’ll hold her babies in heaven and that gives her peace. It was like I could see beams of light coming from their hearts that became entwined. Their shared struggle became a place of healing for both of them. God bonded them through their losses.

I never saw Jane after that but often thought about her and prayed for her. Sally, I’ve seen over the years and I know that she’s happily married with a child now. Something she thought was impossible a few short years earlier.

Imagine your struggle – whatever it is. Imagine the pain, the difficulty, the loss, the fear. It’s all too easy to imagine that these feelings are unique to us, that no one will understand. Until you vocalize your issue you will be internally suffocated by your silence. Imagine your struggle again. Imagine opening yourself up and sharing with a person you trust or in a support group and discovering you are not alone… and you never were. There’s freedom in that, there’s healing in that, there’s life in that. There’s a purpose to walking down these difficult roads.

I let my pain fester in silence for years but once I was unburdened by it and shared my experiences I found healing and joy. Your difficult road is leading you to a beautiful destination. With faith it will be the most beautiful destination of all.