Welcome, Spring. Enter, Grace.

There's something about the opening up of this particular spring that's curling me tighter and tighter back into myself. It feels like the easy comforts that winter provides - scarves and hats and hoodies and my new favorite white-cabled slipper boots that I scored for $7 at Target - are being unwound. My uniform has been a bundle of layers and fear, my mornings slow sips of steaming and bitter coffee for my steeping soul.

Spring threatens to force me out - out of bed, out of my fleece and wool socks and riding boots - and into a sunkissed world of bare shoulders and high hems. And it's probably time, to tuck away the layers and scrub my skin clean and say hello to the sun.

It's funny, what a self-indulgent season this introvert has had. I spent the summer and fall reading and learning about myself, personality typing and geeking out over the four little letters that make my spinning mind and self-conscious soul make sense (I-N-F-J, in case you care to know). But then as this spring has brought forth a host of new challenges, new fears, new adventures - I'm starting to realize that even though I wear my INFJ like my favorite faded navy Belmont hoodie, that doesn't mean it's the only thing I can - or should - put on in the morning. It's a convenient excuse, a way to wipe away my ever-spinning mind and chalk it up to "just being me." But the Lord calls me first to Him, and then to His kingdom. Though personality typing is helpful in making me feel a little less lost in this crowded world, it is my no means the primary definition of me. And sometimes the Lord wants me to be less of an 'I' than I prefer to be, and I know He's been breaking me of my particularly strong 'J'.

I think the Lord is drawing me out again, of this lonely-yet-easy comfort zone. My community of 3 - husband, cat, and computer screen - makes the self-loathing side of me a bit more harsh, and yet it protects me from the even more exfoliating sides of community. Trips home are hard, where I second-and-third-and-fourth guess every word, polishing my presentation because of course I'm a better person than when I left, and moving was absolutely the right decision and it's been the best thing ever for me and my marriage and ... sarcasm, much?

The truth of the matter is that it's hard, and more often than not quite lonely. But that doesn't mean it's bad. I believe it's necessary, and more than that - it's what my dear, delightful, far-too-good-to-be-mine husband and I decided to do, to pack up our bags and chase a few dreams, and to do it together. It means sacrifice, it means change, it means too quiet nights and a whole lot of budget cuts.

There are days that I spend crying, angry at myself for thinking I was strong enough to do this - to leave home, to say good-bye, and to try something new. But then there are days when I am so proud of me and of us, for stepping out and claiming a different future for us and our children, for stretching and meeting new people and trying new things.

And I think the most frustrating part of this - the thing that makes me angry at myself, that makes me doubt and question, that makes me say mean things and think even meaner ones - is that it's just not easy. There's no formula for making a new life work, no equation of time and strength that when added together somehow make things instantly better.

What I need most in these days is to be gentle with myself, to allow room for error and fear and growing pains. I keep falling back into the trap of perfection, of being enough and being everything. And there's no room, nor is it even in the realm of possibility, to be enough and everything for a full-time-graduate-school-husband, and certainly not when I am working full-time and taking classes and still trying to put dinner on the table a few nights a week (and make sure the dishes are clean enough to eat off of). But I am growing, and learning, and trying, and leaning on the sweet support of my husband and the everlasting strength of the Lord - and there's more than enough grace to cover this difficult growth, if I just remember to give it to myself.

Melanie R.Comment