When things are particularly dark in my own life, when the wind is howling and the night is endless, I feel blind. I shuffle along, slowly losing hope, like feeling my way through a maze without an exit. Everything seems dulled, stuck, and lost. And then it happens, even if it takes far longer than I think it should: the bright breakthrough. Light finally shatters the darkness, and I am rescued. That’s Day One, and it’s a breathtaking beginning. But it took me a very long time to realize that’s all it is: a beginning.
In fact, on Day One, all you are is pregnant.
The bright breakthrough isn’t and end, it’s a beginning. Day Two is about watching your belly grow. Sometimes, you glow. Other times, you can’t breathe. Everything inside of you has altered, is altering, and you can’t stop it. It’s thrilling, exciting, and so very scary. You’re definitely no longer stuck, dull, or lost, but you’re also very uncomfortable and everything is new. Day Two is about saying yes to what’s growing inside of you.
What’s growing inside of you? What are you saying to that unnamed thing?
When you are met by the generative God who rescues you on Day One, that same God invites you on a journey of expansion so that you can hold all the new life that is already growing inside of you.
You’ve been there.
After a particularly intense counseling session where you had a major breakthrough, you started to notice something inside of you that felt bigger, stronger, and brighter. Something was growing and you finally started to see it. Other people saw it, too. That’s Day Two.
After a significant breakdown, when you thought you had lost everything, you woke up one day clear headed, with a new sense of freedom. Suddenly, you were able to see in a brand new way; the light and textures of life began to explode for you. That’s Day Two.
After someone finally saw you and named the significant gifts that you bring to the world, so much so that you couldn’t speak, or even hardly breathe, you realized you weren’t stuck. You found yourself on a journey towards something, and it thrilled you. That’s Day Two.
I wrote Beginnings because I noticed something inside myself, a pattern that seemed to happen during significant transitions in my life. I would be lost in darkness, numb and blind, and then I experienced a breakthrough. Light came. But instead of suddenly finding myself in the promised land, I found myself pregnant, and uncomfortable… but growing. During each of these transitions, I noticed that before anything significant came out of me, something significant had to grow within me.
Ever been there? This is how I wrote about it in Beginnings:
A few years ago, several years into our journey of parenting three children, Mary and I decided to take a long walk together, because there were some unspoken conversations hovering around us that just needed to land. We walked because coffee shops are too loud, and because frankly, I’m better when I’m moving. Maybe Mary’s penetrating gaze threatens me, or maybe the right things move around inside of me when my outsides are also moving.
By mile five, we had both said and heard some very difficult things, but I was feeling OK. I was open and soft. I was ready to listen. I was even a little upbeat. But then she said it.
I think I stopped walking. Or maybe I walked faster. I honestly can’t remember.
She looked at me and said, “Honey, now I have to say the really hard thing.”
My wife sees and hears things that many people do not. She is frighteningly intuitive, but she is also very kind. She has never used her superhuman ability to see right through me to skewer me. Still, I braced myself.
“For a very long time,” she said, “I have felt like you treat me as if I’m what’s wrong with this relationship. And I need to know if that’s true, or if I’m crazy.”
I wanted to run. Immediately, I began shuffling papers in my mental file, looking for proof that she was wrong. She’s always blaming me, I thought. What about all the years of counseling we’ve paid for? What about all the apologies I’ve given over the years? Are you telling me I’m the worst husband in the world? You’re acting like I’m a monster.
I began to walk faster, but she kept up.
What finally caught up to me was the crushing reality that she was right. I stopped walking and looked down. Then I looked up at her, this woman that I shared my life with, this woman that I loved. I realized that it was convenient for me to treat her like she was the one who was wrong, the one who needed saving, the one who needed help. Because I like doing the saving. I like being right. I like swooping in for the rescue. And I hate hearing that I am doing anything wrong. I get defensive every time anyone hints that I may have dropped a ball or failed at anything. And the worst part about it is that I am charming and manipulative enough to make it look like I’m being vulnerable and open when I’m really just trying to do that right, too. I can make you think that you’re wrong, but it’s no big deal, because here I am to help you.
For years, this was our unspoken contract. Mary would be the messed-up one who actually talked about her issues, and I’d be the strong and steady one who fixed stuff and hid my own issues.
On that walk, Mary was saying that our contract no longer worked for her. She was inviting me to let go of our old contract and create a new one. It scared me to death. I realized on that walk that I hated doing it wrong even more than I hated hurting her.
I said I was sorry. I really was sorry. I actually felt sick.
That conversation was hard, but what followed was harder. I began to see that living with me felt like being under pressure. I set up elaborate but unspoken rules about when it was okay to talk about certain things, and when it wasn’t. Even though I’m good at problem solving, sometimes my solutions were bandages that didn’t help, and I offered them just so we could be done talking about whatever it was that I wanted to be done talking about. And I wasn’t listening well. I hurried Mary and sometimes ignored her.
I didn’t have the language for it at the time, but I was standing at a threshold. I was being invited to let go of a harmful way of relating to my wife, so that I could grab onto a different kind of relationship with her entirely.
I was being expanded, and it was good. But it hurt.
These moments are naked and vulnerable, but if we can see them, we have the opportunity to expand. If we miss them, we get to keep sitting on the deck, keep being the same person we were yesterday and all the yesterdays before that.
What does it take to see those moments and walk all the way into them? Well, what do you want? Perhaps it starts with that question, and drilling all the way down to the honest answer. If you want to keep living yesterday all over again, you’ll never be expanded. If, however, you want something different—in your marriage, or your job or whatever it is that is being expanded—you need to want something different than you have now.
And when you want it, you are on your way to being expanded.
Next Tuesday, we’ll look at what Day Two produces. On Day Three, we finally see Seeds.
But before we get to that, I want to give away one copy of Beginnings per week between now and release. I will sign it and mail it, totally free. All you have to do is email me, or send me a picture, of WHY you need a copy of Beginnings NOW. It could be hilarious, poignant, deep, shallow, whatever. It just has to be to me by Monday, November 30. Email me at Steve (at) stevewiens.com or post it on Facebook (sjwiens), Twitter (@stevewiens), or Instagram (@stevewiens), tagging me so that I can see it, and using the hashtag #BeginningsBook. I will pick one winner per week, based on my own completely random judgment of which one is best. Ready, go!
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If you’d like to read the first two chapters of my new book, Beginnings, please click here. I’d love to hear what you think!
If you’d like to pre-order Beginnings (releasing on January 1st), click here.