"I guess I haven't learned that yet" is the title of Shauna Niequist's new book that was just released about a week ago.
Spoiler alert: I am going to give away the reason why she chose these words for her title.
Shauna speaks my language as a writer. She writes about family, friends, prayer, faith, forgiveness, God & Jesus, the lake, healing and the everyday struggles we encounter.
She also writes in a way that mirrors my own--with lots of commas! If I were to ever write a book, I feel it would follow suit of the way she writes, with short but power-word packed chapters that give an overall perspective of a deeper lesson in life.
The first book I read written by her focused on "being present over perfect." I still love to dwell in this book in moments when my pelvis feels like it is in my head and I am losing my sense of grounding, caught up in the windstorm of perfection and people-pleasing. Needless to say, I could not wait to see what wisdom I would discover in her new book.
"I guess I haven't learned that yet" is a phrase that Shauna wrote around their home for her two boys who transferred from schools in Chicago to Manhatten. While the boys realized that there were gaps in their curriculum learning, Shauna was learning there were gaps in her knowledge of living in an apartment in the bustling city verses a home in the burbs of Chicago.
So the phrase, "I guess I haven't learned that yet" became a common saying when the feelings of confusion or unbelonging rolled in.
Before this book was released, I saw the title ahead of time and I thought to myself, "Yup. Welcome to the past few years for me."
Come to think of it, I should have just said, "Yup. WELCOME TO LIFE."
It is such a phrase to live by though, is it not? It captures the essence of what it means to be genuinely, wholeheartedly and imperfectly HUMAN.
I am deciding to hold onto that phrase like a hug now. Instead of feeling as if I do not belong, I choose to bravely look the estranged in the eye and say, "I did not know you before. Tell me more."
I am finding, lately, that I am learning to stand up for the girl who did not know. I am learning how to stand up for her because for so long, she put herself on a pedestal of "knowing to belong." When I think back to when she first built this pedestal, it started in and outside of the classroom.
Yes, the pressure to perform academically was always heightened but to make matters worse, it became clear that if you did not start an extra curricular or a sport or a musical instrument at the age of three, you were doomed for failure.
I remember joining dance in the eigth grade. I was put in the 6th grade class but I caught on quickly. By the end, my ballet teacher was telling everyone I was "brand new but her best student." I quit the next year. The pressure to "know" years worth of dance terms became so unbearable. But guess what? I knew how to dance. Dance was in my bones, terminology was not.
The same is true for my experience attending fashion school. The vision and the talent to put a flattering garment together has always been with me but the pressure to perform and the "not knowing yet" made me feel so foreign, so alienated, so deeply "left out."
I am forever grateful for somone speaking these words to me a few months ago, "Do not entertain those thoughts that God is not thinking about you."
It has become my mantra for those moments when I feel the anxiety of not knowing is about to knock me on my face onto a pile of sewing pins, sticking me with the voice that says "I never will know."
The voices that we hear when "we do not know" should never make us feel less small but rather more empowered. Knowing less means there is still room for growth and expansion--being at your fullest capacity of learning would mean death, and God wants us to be fully alive here.
To be fully alive is to live in the wonder and joy of curiousity. Life is about endless questions, never knowing if you'll actually receive the answer but still, living with contentment.