Engage: the power of overcoming passivity
Living fully engaged is a lot harder than it sounds. With easy access to entertainment incorporated into the fibers of life, it’s far easier to slip into a movie theater chair and let life happen before your eyes. All the while, we’ve fooled ourselves into believing we are fully alive. For myself, the last 6 months have been the start of me jumping out of my seat and screaming, “Wait a minute! This isn’t how it’s supposed to be!”
At the end of 2016, I felt my life passing me by. My days were spent at home with my daughter and my nights either working as a counselor or exhausted in front of the TV and Facebook. What I began to realize was that way I was interacting with my life was actually telling a deeper story about how I had been seeing and engaging the world at large. As taken back by this as I was, I was coming to terms with how long I had been merely a bystander. It seemed like everyone else had their role, but I...I was passive, merely receiving whatever was thrown my way. It was like I was living behind a glass wall, unable to get into the game of life.
With the help of the Pace & Pattern, I started to set some goals and to take my life back. My word of the year was Engage. Engage in relationships with God, my husband, daughter, friends, the arts, reading, and community. I decided to get off of Facebook, pick up a classic novel, carve out time to read Scripture and start sewing again.
It’s June now, and as I take a step back to reflect on all that has changed, I almost feel like a different person. The more I engage with life, the more I want to keep engaging. Before this year, I thought I had nothing left to give. Actually, I thought I needed to be given more. My husband needed to help me more; God needed to help me more. “I just need a break!” was my mantra. But God mercifully didn’t give me what I wanted. He called me to give more so that I could flourish.
Timidly, I set out to sew a pair of jogger pants. My goal for this project was to do things slowly and enjoy the process. Historically, I have been someone who rushes through things out of the mentality, “Once I complete this, then the living will begin.” But it never did. I just ended up spending my life waiting and waiting but never participating. I wanted to use the process of sewing to work this truth into my heart. I sought out a pattern, found material, researched techniques for sewing with jersey, and in about 2 weeks I had a pair of joggers for the spring!
I felt really inspired through this process, so I kept sewing. My husband and friends kept saying that I should start an Etsy store. “No, No” I kept saying, “People wouldn’t buy my stuff. If they wanted something like this, they would just make it themselves!” But last month, with the support and help of my husband, I launched an Etsy store called Sojourner Design Co. I make and sell items for mamas and their littles as they sojourn together. Right now the shop consists of burp cloths and bandana bibs made with beautiful fabrics and essential satchels for mamas to hold their essential items as they transition from career woman to mama to wife and friend.
Dreaming and engaging has begun to flow into every area of life. My husband and I are connecting over future collaborations (he being a woodworker and I now identifying as a sewer). We have begun dreaming about what type of family culture we want to have. I’ve started listening to more podcasts and reading books about Charlotte Mason’s educational philosophy- All things I never would have seen myself engaged in a few years ago. Yet, the funny thing is, this is exactly how I would have seen myself years ago. I look back and see this side of myself in different stages of life. I decided in high school I would leave rural Maryland and head to NYC for fashion school. I left fashion school to fight human trafficking. I moved to Indiana on a whim and found my way to Bible College and into an internship at a residential treatment center then off to Seminary to become a counselor.. At 21, I rode my bike from Indianapolis to NYC. But I guess this side of me had been buried under another story line and in a different identity, one that was not true to how God created me and whom Jesus redeemed me to be.