The Best Way {for me} to Really Love


Our friends who are a full life season ahead of us, they sit on our couch the other night and graciously receive Stan’s and my poured out hearts.

We talk of busyness, and how being surrounded by so much good often robs us of time for the best. How we long to live an intentional life and what are our personal values, really? And what could we be doing less of so we can do more of the stuff that’s deeply important to us? What are we doing out of obligation, and where do our hearts truly find life? Find Him?

Our friends sit silent, listening to our unchecked dumping of all the things we find draining in this season, our questions of why can everyone else pull all of this stuff off, and in this season, we. just. CAN’T?!

We feel weak, inadequate, even exhausted — more emotionally and spiritually than physically — and we’re frustrated by our limits.

They absorb our thoughts, ask insightful questions, look deep into our lives and consider who we are. And then she speaks, this woman who, in all her real *seeing* and drawing out of my heart, has become a haven in recent years: “You know how a caterpillar is busy, busy, busy — does all this work — and then disappears into a cocoon for a time before it emerges as a butterfly in its new season?”

I already know where she’s going with this and my head is nodding, nodding.

“I feel like the Lord is wanting you all to cocoon for this season, while you’re waiting to emerge into the next season in Colorado. He’s wanting you to pull back significantly, and you’re resisting the cocoon, which is why everything you’ve been able to do in the past feels so draining and difficult now.”


I tear up a little as she speaks, and all I can say is, “that’s the Lord. That’s the Lord.” I say it over and over, and the weight of God’s desire for us in this season sinks in deeper, deeper.

So yesterday after church, we pull aside with our friends who lead our house church, let them know we need to take a break, to pull back, to rest. They are gracious and understanding, and already it feels like a weight has lifted off our shoulders.

But while I had inklings, I don’t think I fully understood the depth of my heart’s need to hibernate until just today, when this blog post from Esther Emery hit my inbox.

Esther lives in a yurt in the Colorado mountains with her husband and young children, and today she writes about the differences between her family’s off-the-grid yurt life, and the temporary life they’ve recently lived in an apartment in the city.

She writes:

“I’m going home in a week or so. I’m going home to my healthy place, which is a yurt in the woods, with no electricity. I wish for you, with all my heart, that you would find your way home, too.

“My home is completely isolated, but for the hummingbirds. I know that this is not the way for everyone. Maybe it won’t always be the way for me. But as long as it is, I need to go.”

Tears burn the backs of my eyes yet again as I read Esther’s words today, because while her family’s outworking of their values is radically different than ours, we as a family are looking to find our “healthy place” in this season.

Don’t get me wrong – we fiercely love people and thrive on deeply connecting with those in our lives. But if we’re going to love well, we’re learning that we need that connection to flow *out of* our solitude with the Lord. If we’re scrambling to love and serve, but struggling to make enough space in our lives together for stillness and togetherness, art and heart, we’ve got it backwards and we will be exhausted. Drained dry.


[Also, just to be clear, while yurt living is incredible and fascinating, I’m pretty sure we like electricity too much to ever do more in the wilderness than tent-camp for a few days.]

We don’t know yet what else this season will hold for us. How much more we’ll need to withdraw from activities we believe in and people we dearly love in order to embrace the stillness and hiddenness God is drawing us into. I’ve struggled with fear and guilt over disappointing those who’re dear to us.  My people-pleasing and people-loving tendencies (both the unhealthy and the healthy ones) are kicking and screaming even while my deepest, truest heart is crying for rest and silence and space to breathe.

So for now, please pardon us if you don’t see our faces as much. Because we’re learning that the best way to love those around us is to be the most grounded, authentic, resourced-by-God version of ourselves. And while our “healthy place” might look different in another season, for now, being healthy and obedient and loving people well — require that we create time and space to press into one another, press into quiet, and press into His heart in the stillness.

So… we will be learning to do life slow, and letting all our loving and engaging of others come out of this new pace.

**What does your “healthy place” look like? What are the good things that tend to rob you of the space in your life to pursue what’s deeply important to you? The space to become the truest, most grounded version of yourself as you find rest in Him?**

PS. Sharing this post with Kelli’s community, Unforced Rhythms… and the coolness of the heart behind that name, and its correlation with this season of my life, is so not lost on me.

This entry was posted in Community, Freedom From Perfectionism, misc. walking with Jesus, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to The Best Way {for me} to Really Love

  1. Lori Harris says:

    Enjoy your cocoon.
    We’ll be waiting to see you when you emerge.
    (love your new space!)
    Lori Harris recently posted…All the BooksMy Profile

    • danalynnb says:

      Thanks Lori. What I don’t know is how much I’ll be writing from inside said cocoon. :) I’m planning to take some time off FB (or mostly off? maybe check in once a week?) during July to do some hibernating and reading and hopefully some recording. I’m gonna have to let writing take a back seat to recording for a while, I think. Just not sure what it’ll all look like yet…. which is okay. Anyway… love you and deeply appreciate your faithful reading of my heart. <3

  2. JoyMartell says:

    What wise friends you have to read your hearts and recognize this need to withdraw! My healthy place is time in the Word, time to write gratitude, time in meditation and prayer. When I taught inner city middle school fulltime, I finally learned to leave summers free for volunteering at church camp, writing Bible school curriculum, training teenagers to be Bible school teachers in Jamaica. I eventually identified my work teaching pre-teens as the Lord’s work. It took me a long time to have confidence that this was my calling.
    Don’t feel guilty about being in a cocoon. Find your place by placing your hand in God’s.
    JoyMartell recently posted…Release: a Five Minute FridayMy Profile

    • danalynnb says:

      Joy, so thankful for your sharing here tonight. Your words about not feeling guilty, but finding our place by placing our hand in God’s – just YES. They resonate so deeply. Thank you, friend.

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  4. ~ linda says:

    This is just beautiful. You have put words to the season my husband and I are in right now at age 66. We just did not have the words, the whys, the understanding of exactly what we are doing, as we have been used to living being too busy, too involved that we lost so much of one another. Guilt crept in and angst for the ‘not doing’ and you and your dear friends have given me the ground on which God is having us stand. We just had not realized that this life season we are in needed even more quiet and solitude in order to hear God. He used you. I am so grateful that you are a nearby neighbor at Unforced Rhythms. I am praising Him for leading me here.
    Caring through Christ, ~ linda
    ~ linda recently posted…Honor – One WordMy Profile

    • danalynnb says:

      Linda your words and heart here just melt me, friend. Turn me right into a puddle. I am so thankful my words have helped bring clarity to your current season – the ground on which to stand. Wow. So thankful for His faithfulness – to you, to me – the fierceness of His commitment to our hearts being deeply resourced and at rest in Him. So much grace to you and your husband in this season, Linda. May y’all be drawn deeply into Him and into each other. Hugging you in my heart today.

  5. There is a pain and isolation that comes with being in a different season than those around you, but it’s nothing compared to the pain of trying to do and be what you aren’t called to do and be. My husband and I struggle with this a lot – with four kids our lives are necessarily different than those of our friends with two. The problem for us is when we look to the lives of those around us to set the pace rather than listening to the wisdom of our own hearts. God bless those good friends who’re willing to listen to and affirm the needs of your hearts. Thanks for linking to Unforced Rhythms and I look forward to seeing what change God brings during your time of rest!
    Kelly Chripczuk recently posted…Bloodhound (a poem)My Profile

    • danalynnb says:

      Oh… Kelly. YES. You speak truth straight into my soul today: “…pain and isolation that come with being in a different season than those around you — nothing compared to the pain of trying to do and be what you aren’t called to….” YES. We are learning that in a very real way in this season. Really thankful for your presence here. Cheering for you as you listen to Holy Spirit heart-nudges to determine the pace of your lives. Bless you!!

  6. Dana,
    I’m so happy you and your hubby have an older couple who can and will speak truth into your lives…and truth sets us free..may you and your family enjoy your time to cocoon without guilt …as you take time to be still and to hear God’s voice speak to you both (Ps 46:10)….many blessings to you and yours :)
    Dolly@Soulstops recently posted…My journey toward unconditional loveMy Profile

    • danalynnb says:

      Dolly, thank you! I love that verse – Be still and know that I’m God. I need that deeply in this season. Blessings back at you. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  7. YES! I’m so proud of you friend for choosing you. For learning to put your needs as a priority, for being willing to follow where God leads, even when where He is leading is into a season marked by rest and a pulling inwards.

    I’m reminded that when David was anointed by Samuel as the next King of Israel, he didn’t immediately take up the throne. He went back to what he had been doing. It’s okay if callings and dreams don’t happen overnight. You can nurture them and keep them tucked in your heart until it is time.

    What’s my healthy place? Down by the river, on the rocks, with my camera and my journal. It’s also sitting at my newspaper covered desk, painting index cards and finding poetry. It’s in sweating out shame and hatred towards myself at the gym or on the trail.

    And the good things that rob me? church services, Bible study, putting laundry away.
    Dry Bones Dance recently posted…Five Minute Friday: ReleaseMy Profile

    • danalynnb says:

      Katie, love how you fight for hearts. Thank you so much, my friend. Your insight about David is like woah – SO right on. Wow. Resonates deeply. And your healthy place – welp – we must have a few things in common because back in the day when I was single and lived in Colorado, I used to take my Bible and journal and just go driiiiiiiive… kind of aimlessly… up into the mountains. My only aim? To find a rock, a forest, and a river. And if the rock was a big flat one out IN a river? One I could climb out on and let the water flow all around me and stick my toes in? Even better. :) Anyway… Love you sister. Thanks for the authenticity of your presence in my space. You bless, bless, bless….

  8. Dana. GIRL.

    I feel like I’m getting to know you and I LOVE what I see. You are bold and gentle, fierce and loving. You write strong TRUTH, but never without grace. These are beautiful things to behold and I’m waiting with baited breath to see what God does next in your story. But for now? Cocooning. Yes. Sounds just right.

    Thanks for linking at Unforced Rhythms. Praying all your days will be defined as such.
    Kelli Woodford recently posted…The Unorthodox ChapterMy Profile

    • danalynnb says:

      Kelli, sister, thanks for seeing me. Your words land so deep in my heart with this “thud” of substance and grace. Kind of undoes me, actually. Just thank you so much, friend. <3

  9. I am so proud of you for this kind of listening courage. So much grace to you in this part of your journey…paying attention to the deeper calls. Love you, friend.
    Ashley Larkin @ Draw Near recently posted…When Your Dream Seems Dead: My Mom, the GraduateMy Profile

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  11. friend of jamie harper here. can’t begin to tell you how much this spoke to me, dana. our family has been living in a cocoon the past several years, & i’ve been disgruntled in the dark. thank you for this balm to my soul today.
    tanya@truthinweakness recently posted…Your Desperation, Your WorshipMy Profile

    • danalynnb says:

      Tanya, friend, I’m so glad my words were balm to your soul… and so SORRY I’m just now seeing/approving your comment. I don’t know why WordPress didn’t notify me that you’d commented. Oh sister, grace, grace to you in your dark season. My prayer is that you’d find Him near in ways that are tangible, even if you can’t see Him with your eyes. May your heart deeply know His tenderness and His enveloping rest. Bless you. So glad to “meet” you.

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