Normally, I am a relatively fast reader.
I've always enjoyed reading, and am able to read and process material pretty quickly.
When I started Leeana Tankersley's new book Breathing Room, I figured I'd get through it within a day or two. After all, it wasn't that long a book (just over 200 pages), and written in part as a memoir, I thought the story would move at a nice, brisk pace, allowing me to be done with the book in a brief period of time.
I soon learned Leeana's story, and her magnificent insights, would not be such a quick read.
Within the first few pages of this book, Leeana drew me in to her world, in to her life. I could imagine her life as a new mom, married to a Navy SEAL. I could picture her struggles and challenges as she worked to put together their life in Bahrain. I could imagine the scents and smells of the cities she described.
I could relate to the Come Aparts. The Brain Vultures.
I couldn't bring myself to skim through her story. I didn't want to miss out on how she handled the Hard, when it came around. I didn't want to miss any of her wonderfully worded insights. Beautifully phrased thoughts, like:
We are both lost and found. And no matter where we are on the road home, we are loved. That's it.
I couldn't breeze through the chapter called "Saying No to Bad Pants."And, I mean - an author who quotes Dr. Seuss and Henri Nouwen within five pages of each other?
With each story shared, I found myself wanting to talk with Leeana. I also found myself feeling ashamed of the times I've judged other women at first glance, without knowing their real stories. Yet I found a new appreciation and respect for women who deal with emotional and mental health issues from which they take on and work to rise above every day. A new tender spot in my heart developed for these women after reading this book.
I love reading books like this, where real women share their real struggles. In her vulnerability, in sharing her ups and downs, in her honesty, in opening up with her weakest moments, Leeana helped me realize our struggles and challenges are shared. We can relate to one another, understand one another, when we allow ourselves to open our hearts to each other, but mostly, when we invite God to "sit down on the floor with us" and come into the Hard with us. When we give ourselves permission to just rest in Him.
To realize we can be blessed, but still struggle.
To see life can be hard, but it is beautiful.
To know it's OK to do what we need to do to take care of ourselves, to give ourselves breathing room.