You can’t smell cold,” H says to the kids.  “Yes you can, you can smell it when it gets cold outside,” they rebuke.  And so the dinner conversation ensues.

I tell them how creative I think it is to say you can smell winter; the teenager insists we buy her the red Corvette that sits in a parking lot with the For Sale sign in the window.  This talk leads to H revealing a bit of dating history. How he dated a girl named Tammy who drives a Corvette and lives on top of a mountain with a view of Phoenix.

This hearing their Dad’s dating history evokes grins and giggles.

All the banter, in between scoops of pasta and salad, ends with a crescendo of H explaining how sometimes things happen in life that are out of our control and unjust.  “But nonetheless, God is in control,” he says with arms ejected over his head. 

Over warm bread slathered with butter, we talk about stuff.  The stuff of life that lies idle like pages on the heart waiting to be read aloud in a safe place.

And earlier on this day, when the sun still shines high overhead, I sit outside with a friend at a rod-iron umbrella table and talk about the stuff too. We hold chocolate mint lattes, breathe in the Fall air, look into the eyes and exchange listening and talking like a tennis match.

On most days, when the clock ticks noon, I cease striking the keys and staring at my computer screen to meet friends over coffee or lunch.  Some of these I meet for intentional coaching, others unintentional. 

No matter what the reason, I learn that despite age and circumstance of life, all women share these common struggles and longings of the heart:

  • Intermittent loneliness that feels overwhelming – despite being married with children or living alone.
  • The need for authentic community with peers.
  • The desire to have intimate friendships with women they can trust.
  • Lingering self-doubt in relationships (with God, spouse, children, friendships, etc.) and in making life choices for themselves and/or their children.
  • The uncertainty of life call and purpose.
  • And this lie:  Each woman thinks that she is the only one to experience these things, that everyone else has it all together.

I wonder if our thoughts about ourselves read like neon signs in Times Square stuck to the forehead for the world to see, would we be kinder, more understanding toward one another and less hard on ourselves? 

Because just knowing that someone struggles the same way we do makes life feel a little lighter.  Helps us breathe a little easier.

Maybe reading that list helps you breathe a bit easier today.

At the end of every conversation, whether looking in the eyes of my children or a friend, this summary:  We need a Savior because apart from Him, contentment and true happiness live far beyond our reach.

So tell me, what do you talk about over dinner at your house? Help us settle the debate and tell me, can you smell cold?