Present Over Perfect, The Book of Mormon and Longing for Meaningful Connections

Jun 1st

This last month can best be described as a spiritual journey for me. In between musicals and performances, work and volunteering, I made room for a little space I so desperately needed.

Reading.

I started off the year saying I was going to read 2 books a month, one fun and one for personal growth. I would never have expected one of the busiest months of the year for me would be one of more books and more reflection. I truly believe that people come in to our lives for a reason. A few people have come into my life that have led me down a most unexpected journey of self reflection and what is truly important. These beautiful souls are people I want to be more like. Two of those people handed me books that have rocked my spiritual and emotional core.

One random night at a hotel, what started out as a joke led me to taking a copy of the Book of Mormon. Then as a challenge, that was really more about me than anything else, I said I would read the entire book in a two-week span.   What started out as purely an academic read ended with a craving for learning more about my own beliefs and spirituality. I ended up reading and looking up things I had never thought about before. This month has been filled with late nights of reading and thought; ignoring my very own rules of how we all need more sleep. However, the journey was worth it. As promised I finished the whole book in 2 weeks. In the end it has left me with craving for more spiritual connection with other people.

 

As if the universe knew I needed more, Present Over Perfect arrived on my doorstep from a friend who likely sees me more clearly than I do myself; one of the rare people that has seen my true vulnerabilities in my adult life.

Present Over Perfect was raw for me. Though I received a hard copy of the book I really wanted to drink it in by listening to it. I spend the last week or so driving around listening to the wise words of Shauna Niequist.   It gets a little awkward when you are driving around and you just burst into tears because something she said strikes at your very soul. Then there is that moment when she mentions the very sandwich shop you went to growing up and you nearly drive off the road at the realization that this person grew up in the same home town, going to the same high school, living the same reality you did. This book was destined for my doorstep.

 

There are so many things that spoke to me. I’d be writing out the whole book to mention them all.   At the very core she talks about water and community. She calls it Baptism and Communion. She says:

“I am a table person, a bread and wine person. And I‘m a water person, Profoundly. All my life, I have felt most deeply myself around the table and on the shore, the bread and the wine and the water. “

 

This one sentence rippled through me. Water. The table. Nothing calls to me more than the ocean and a lake. I could sit for a lifetime watching the water and just being. At the same time, it is not by accident that I named my business the Whole Table. When I think about a table, I think about close friends and family gathered around the table having meaningful long conversations; laughter, stories, communion. That is the core to healthy living.

I realized in that moment, in a time-stand-still sort of way, that those very things that are the core of who I am have been missing in my life of late.   In this crazy mind numbing, fast-paced world of the Northern Virginia mom I have lost the core of what fills my soul. It has been ages since we have sat around enjoying friends engaged in a meaningful conversation or even just having a relaxed meaningful family dinner. I have always been a huge advocate of family dinner but now it is more forced and a “check of the box” because our schedule is just so packed. I spent the holiday weekend craving to be near water and ever so cranky that I was not near any. In the hustle of work and planning my children’s summers I have left nearly no space for my water and community.   And I am responsible for this mayhem I have gotten myself into.

I have had a lot of tears this month; Hot big fat tears of awakening and realization that I am doing it all wrong.   I want meaningful soul searching conversation with friends and family that fill my soul.   I want to be by the water recharging and connecting with the spaces of my being that are most important.

A year and a half ago Dani Johnson (author, speaker, business mentor, minister) said to a group of us that we need to surrender. We need to let go of control and trust in Him.   First time I had ever cried in public.

Yes. Let go and trust.

However, I have not been letting go. I have not been trusting. Being in control is my default setting. But Present Over Perfect was that 2×4 over the head to say “Are you listening?”

It’s time to let go and see where the journey of faith and trust is going to lead me.

It may take me down a path I would never have guessed but I know that with “baptism and communion” my soul will be where it needs to be.

Dani Johnson planted that seed but the sowing began one night in a hotel.   There is no looking back. I am looking forward to what the harvest will yield.

 

Post Script: I also read Thirteen Reasons Why this month, which unexpectedly paralleled the other books and connected with my journey. What I took from Thirteen Reasons Why was, yet again, the importance for us to connect with one another. If only Clay and Hannah had connected earlier. Would things be different? I love that the book ended with Clay reaching out to connect with someone.   What we do and say does matter. We can’t change the past but right now in this very moment we can reach out and make new meaningful connections.

Communion.

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