• Dana L. Butler

Day 7: On Grief and Creative/Spiritual Growth

Monday morning gets off to a much earlier start than Stan or I desire, with both kids deciding 4:30 AM is a fun time to be up and ready for Day 2 of the return phase of The Butlers’ Epic Road Trip, 2014.

Stan and I take turns showering, dressing kiddos and pulling all our stuff together into a neat pile before we take the kids downstairs for breakfast.

A gentleman built only somewhat similarly to my dad enters the breakfast area, and Maia immediately exclaims, “PAAA-pa!” It’s her version of “Grandpa,” and I know she’s missing my dad. {Stan and I are missing Gigi and Grandpa, too.}

“Aw, that’s not our grandpa, sweetie,” I explain. He smiles kindly, tells us he is a grandpa, then shares with us a minute about his own grandchildren, ages 4 months and 7 years.

Stan and the kids and I enjoy one last hotel breakfast together, load up the car, and we all mourn a little because the adventure phase of our trip is coming to an end. Eight more hours on the road, and we’ll be home. Which, for a couple more months, takes the shape of inner city, Kansas City, Missouri.

Heading West, I glance through The Artist’s Way when the kids give me moments of peace in the front passenger seat. I long to have solid chunks of time to invest in digging through these pages again.


Thumbing through them, I run across these words I scribbled in the margin a couple weeks back:

Detaching from human approval.

My purple scribbles draw my gaze and I skim over the nearby text. Cameron speaks of the necessity of putting an end to our “nice” self for the purpose of creative recovery. Carving out intentional room to invest in the coming alive of our art and our heart. Essentially, saying the necessary “no’s” so we can say yes to making space for our true heart and dreams to be excavated.

I contemplate the season to which we’re returning. The recently dismantled support system(s), the ways in which I have been forced to surrender my need for human approval and understanding, for the sake of intentionally moving hand-in-hand with Jesus toward deeper personal wholeness.

Even apart from having now lost my Grandma, the grief of these last months as we’ve waited (and waited, and waited) to move to Colorado has been profoundly acute — largely because of the effect that our “necessary no’s” have had on some of our relationships. This has been true regardless of how loving we’ve tried to be in our drawing of boundaries.

But these lines from Cameron’s book cut to my core and reverberate there, confirmation to my heart that Stan and I are on the right track in this journey:

“In dealing with the suicide of the “nice” self we have been making do with, we find a certain amount of grief to be essential. Our tears prepare the ground for our future growth. Without this creative moistening, we may remain barren….”

In all the loss that this season has entailed for us, in all the breaking of my attachments to human approval, my needs to be understood by those whose opinions have mattered (and mattered too much), the utter confidence that God is doing something deep, something beyond my ability to fully grasp — and that if I can just hang in there and press my aching places into His heart through this season, beauty will spring up from my barren places on the other side — it’s what’s sustaining me, y’all.

And this last week has found me on more than one occasion, tonight included, writing through a fog of exhaustion so thick that I almost don’t even know if my words are making sense. If my heart is coming through clearly. And tonight, after 2 full days of driving and today’s 4:30 AM wake-up call — and after a full week of having our strung out kiddos completely out of their routines? I am calling it a night at 7:30 PM.

So please pardon me, friends, while I go ahead and prepare this post for publishing. Forgive my run-on sentences and my general lack of editing. It’s almost physically painful to me to publish what I know is less than my best work — but maybe that’s a bit of what this “31 Days of Authenticity” is about for me…? Less polished — more raw. Less edited — more real.

At any rate, here are my raw and my real for you today, the type of disjointed, unedited rambling you’d likely get from me if we were sitting face-to-face in a coffee shop. {Trust me – ask anyone who’s had coffee with me. Especially if I’m tired.}

Last thought: in case I haven’t said so lately, I deeply value your companionship here. Your witnessing of my internal transformation as it manifests in this online space. You are a gift to my heart, my friends, and your whispers of encouragement and me too into my journey — they bring more life than I can tell you. Thank you.

Truly. Thank you.

This is Day 7 of 31 in my series, Rooted: 31 Days of Authenticity (from my life in limbo). You can find the rest of the series here.

Also, if you’d like to make sure you don’t miss any of my 31 Days posts, please feel free to subscribe to receive each post in your inbox.

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