Bittersweet without a bow

I have about 20 minutes to write before I have to rush through my shower and see Kel out the door.  After that I should probably wage war on the 5 overflowing baskets of clean laundry that are invading my home.  Also we are out of bananas which is a recipe for disaster, all this to say that I have my work cut out for me.

Can we all agree how much we want to hug her?

Moving on, unless you live in a cave, you know that the Olympics are happening right now in London.  Last night’s women’s all around qualifying was brutal for the USA and most especially for Jordyn Wieber, the world champion who was favored won’t be going on to compete because of dumb rules.

My heart broke for her as I watched the floor routine and nervously turned yarn into a scarf.  It was the end of a long day here at the Casa and as I watched her tearful interview my mind overflowed with this question:  “How can you put so much effort into something and still feel like you’re failing?”

I feel like my life is an endless dance with impressive flips and flourishes, like I practice and wake every morning determined to see the joy, respond with patience and put other’s needs and wants before my own.

With all my gusto how is it possible that I’m spiritually disconnected, exhausted, lonely and in the middle of a string of fights with Kel?

Where’s the payoff for the effort?  WTH God?

Now’s the part of the post where I try to put a little bow on a hard question and tell you what I’m learning but yeah, I don’t have that today.

I can say for sure is that we’re fools not to expect bittersweet lives.  The hard, hot, dry times will come to everyone and we are strengthened by how we respond to them.  As for me I want the heat to purify, to transform me into someone braver and more gracious.

May I never forget the hard times, the bitter moments, and I may I never fail to extend grace others who find themselves here.

It helps to throw away the notion that no one else is living on a rainbow cloud.  Every marriage has hard times, every mom struggles through the preschool years, and 96% of the world struggles to get laundry put in it’s actual place.

Even the spiritual giants we look to? They go through seasons of prodigal wandering across cracked and dry deserts.

As the lovely Shauna Niqeuist taught me in her aptly named book Bittersweet, Life has to be both the bitter and the sweet.  We are strengthened and humbled in the bitter seasons and the sweet seasons taste so lovely because we have a broad palette of bitter to reference them against.

No bows here today, just life.

Are you feeling a little dry?  Any advice?  Want to pray together, gripe together, grow together?

Yeah, me too.

Also if you’re reading this Jordyn, your grace in the gym and on the camera makes you the farthest thing from a failure that has ever existed.

  • Joy

    I love the way this is written, Leanne. I needed to read it today…right now…in this moment. I love the reference you gave for Bittersweet. I’m with you friend…on this journey…in the trenches and on the mountain tops.
    Thank you for being you and speaking directly to my heart.

    • leannepenny

      Oh Joy, thank you a thousand times for journeying with me all the way from Hot-lanta.

      Not that it’s cool here 😉

      • Joy

        Girrrrrrrrl it is anything but cool here!
        The car registered 101 after I had been driving.
        I hope it cools off soon so that I can stop wearing my hair in a messy bun and not have my makeup melt off my face :)

  • Melissa Edens

    In the midst of packing, with five kids to corral and keep cleaning for “staging” our house so someone can come through and judge whether it’s worthy for their needs, and a roaring headache that hasn’t gone away in two days… I check in while nursing the baby to find your post in my in-box. Was just praying for a moment’s reprieve and there you are with words of comeraderie (how the heck do you spell that word???) Anyway. I’m with you and I hear you (right down to the laundry currently covering my bed and my UNWASHED, UNBRUSHED hair!)

    • leannepenny

      Oh Melissa, what a crazy season you’re in! So glad that our dry spells connected. (And I haven’t showered today so… total camaraderie) ((which is a hard word to spell))

  • Deanna West Piercy

    Yep, just life. Even those of us “older” moms who have already raised our children still have those times. Days when our children (because they will always be children to us) have been hurt. Days when our parents disappoint us. Days during which we basically did nothing but pet the dog and watch movies because that was the best we could do. But tomorrow is a new day and I’ll fold the laundry on the sofa, wash the dishes I left in the sink, and go swimming with my daughter who needs that support and love that only a mom can provide. And tomorrow you’ll like do your version of the same things.