proof of life


My calendar tells me it’s the first day of spring. The winter temps that keep creeping back in beg to differ.

So does my heart.

The past few months? They’ve been crazy hard. For a long list of reasons.

And when I look ahead to the next few months? The horizon gives me no reason to think the hard is gonna let up.

The other day I stumbled on some of Elizabeth Gilbert’s words… “I’m making space for the unknown future to fill up my life with yet-to-come surprises.” And when I read those words, I couldn’t help but wish I could say them with honesty and earnest. But I can’t. Not really.

Most of the time, the “unknown future” takes up plenty of space all on its own. The fog is thick and heavy and makes it hard to breathe.

Most of the time, the “unknown future” looks daunting. It’s scary to no longer see the picture of where I’m headed. I used to—and it was wonderful!—and I loved the image of what lied ahead. And then when I had to grieve the loss of what was, I also had to grieve the loss of what would be.

I’m learning (maybe more than I ever have before) to enjoy the now, to live in the present. But I want also to learn to “make space for the unknown future”—recognizing that it could very well bring with it “yet-to-come surprises” that are—it’s possible—good.

So I’m working hard to lift my eyes, lift my heart, lift my hopes to see the wonder, mystery, grace, and whimsy in the uncharted future. To make space for possibility. To embrace ambiguity. To lean in, even when I don’t know where it’s going.

It might not seem like much from the outside looking in, but I assure you—from the inside looking out—it’s demanding an enormous amount of courage for this tattered heart of mine.

And so on this first day of spring, I am celebrating even the tiniest signs of new life.

Even when they look like small brave steps toward the unknown future…


25 Responses to “proof of life”
  1. I’ve been cautiously hopeful about Spring this year. It’s been a hard winter here, too, for a variety of reasons. I’m trying to look at it this way: Every step forward, usually terrified, is still a step forward. But it not only moves me forward, but gives me strength for the next step. At least I hope so :)

  2. Alece, thank you for your honesty. Yesterday morning I had a panic attack for the first time in my life for basically all of the reasons you’ve listed here. The unknown future TERRIFIES me. It is the way that the enemy most seeps into my soul – with the lies that my best years are behind me. I have spent years and years (and years….) living by a set plan because it always meant that the future before me was clear. And then one day I had to choose me and for the first time in my life I am wandering into the dark and hoping there is light there somewhere.
    My word this year is freedom – probably for a lot of the same reasons that yours is bravery. By choosing me, I am choosing a life free of my path and free of the lies that I have lived the best of my life (I’m only 27, like, really?!)
    I read this today and thought “How can she possibly know exactly where my heart is at at this exact moment?”
    Thank you for expressing yourself, for being honest with your struggle, and for maybe not even seeing how God uses you in that.

  3. Chris Monahan

    You are bold and brave with a giving heart and a sharp mind. The future will not scare you.
    God loves you and will bless you, I am convinced.
    Just breathe, even in the fog. I believe the path will appear.

    Here’s to your bright(er) future.

  4. Thanks for all of your brave words, Alece!

    I know the feeling of grieving what was and what would never be. Grieving is so full of layers, isn’t it?!

    Also, words that have really helped me focus on the present is “The place you are in needs you today.” I know we need to dream and be hopeful of the surprises the future may hold but sometimes all we can do is focus on the present – and recognize that God needs us here, today, in this moment, in this place. And that’s all we really need to hold onto :)


  5. Elizabeth says:

    Thank you for sharing you words today. The future can seem so daunting…it makes my heart turn all humming bird-ish. I like the thought of “recognizing that it [the future] could very well bring with it “yet-to-come surprises” that are—it’s possible—good.” I’m grateful for your honesty and your bravery in sharing, even when things feel hard.

  6. Gradi Ellis says:

    Adore this friend! Thanks for sharing your heart.

  7. Marjie

    “You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.” -Desiderata (Max Ehrmann)

    A wise woman once said:

    Believing in you, Alece.

  8. Yes. I remember what it meant to grieve what I thought my life would be…and even years into this new future, I still take a mental glance to where I *thought* life would be and there is sadness. But that sadness, that ‘could have been’ does not define me. I am embracing the life and gifts that I DO have and investing my energy in bringing my best self to this story. I’ve been given so much and the challenges have been well worth the wait.

    I remember the month I felt like I had turned a corner and what ready to hope, to experience life and be open to possibility once more…it was exciting, daunting and required great courage. You can do this!

    • I have definitely turned that corner… Although, to be honest, at times I feel like it’s more of a circular maze — but I still sometimes end up back in a place I’ve already been… As long as I keep taking steps forward, I know I’ll round the corner yet again…

      Thank you for your sweet words of encouragement, Missy!

  9. Biblis Vox says:

    When my envisioned future blew up in a puff of smoke, when my whole world changed overnight because of the sudden death of the man with whom I’d envisioned that future, I realised I couldn’t cope with the future. I really couldn’t cope with yesterday either. And I wasn’t sure either existed anymore – because all I could feel, or deal with, was the present pain. So I relearned how to live my life. I’d always been someone who had a plan and a vision for the next day and the next ten, twenty, fifty years – but then I found out that one unforeseen twist in the path could take all of that away. I have no control over the path; my job is to walk it. But God knows my path and He’s got my future taken care of. It was very hard to surrender my dreams for my future, but as I did, I found liberation. I trust in a God who loves me without limit, beyond my understanding, and although I can’t envision it myself, I know that what He has for me makes my human dreams pale in comparison. So now I leave the tomorrow to Him and try to live in today – which is all I have. God works in mysterious ways – including, in my life, through the words of the wonderfully profane Janis Joplin:

    “You can destroy your now by worrying about tomorrow … I don’t understand how come you’re gone, man. I don’t understand why half the world is still crying, man, when the other half of the world is still crying too, man, and it can’t get it together. I mean, if you got a cat for one day, man – I mean, if you, say, say, maybe you want a cat for 365 days, right – You ain’t got him for 365 days, you got him for one day, man. Well I tell you that one day, man, better be your life. Because, you know, you can say, oh man, you can cry about the other 364, man, but you’re gonna lose that one day, man, and that’s all you’ve got. You gotta call that love, man. That’s what it is, man. If you got it today you don’t want it tomorrow, man, ’cause you don’t need it, ’cause as a matter of fact, as we discovered on the train, tomorrow never happens, man. It’s all the same f****** day, man.”

  10. Michelle says:

    When this happens to me — and it’s been happening for waaaaay too many years now — somehow the words of the old song come to mind:

    I know Who holds the future and I know Who holds my hand.

    And, honestly, He brings Gitz to mind…

    FYP, sincerely.

  11. Amy Young says:

    Alece, I appreciate hearing from you whenever. NO rush. As I read this, I sensed a longing, if not in you, at least in me, for these seasons of life to be a bit more predictable … like the seasons of the year. Though not always the same length, at least a bit more gaugable than seasons of life :)

  12. Mark Allman

    You are one of the most courageous persons that I know… The future is uncharted for us all regardless we know that or not. I am fully convinced you know the direction to head and I think that is what is most important. I am sure you will take steps as needed to navigate those uncharted lands. Life is damn hard and the path we want to take often is not where God sends us. Why? I don’t know. To trust that God loves us and will take us where He wants us to be is what I think we have to do. We then choose how we respond to where that finds us. Choose to relish it all. It’s all we got. The good and the bad woven to turn those uncharted lands into our home.

  13. christy says:

    So timely for me to read this post tonight as I come back from Scottland. I am already feeling the dread in my stomach about tomorrow & I keep having to remind myself to just stay right here right now. We need to catch up! I’d love to hear what’s going on in your world!

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