When You Finally Get What You Want {But You're Still You}

by Andrea Kolber

Sometimes we finally get what we want. Maybe it’s the guy or the job, even the shoes. In my last year, it was finally getting pregnant after what felt like a long season of waiting and loss. I find something seductive occurs in our brain when we consider attaining the thing we long for. As though it will complete us or give us a short cut for the hard work of transformation. 

And yes, transitions, movement, and relationships will always provide opportunities for growth and different circumstances—but, you know what doesn’t actually change because we get what we want?


The core pieces of who we are stay the same whether we find new friends, or move to a different city, or meet the person of our dreams. 

This means if we go into a situation hoping our flaws will suddenly disappear or some essential piece of us will change, we'll be dead wrong. I find this both comforting and disconcerting.

I remember before I had my daughter, some part of me thought—even though I've never enjoyed baking, I probably will like it once I’m a mom. Because in my head that's what moms do. And I had a whole other host of ideas about "what moms do" that now seem to be a completely wrong fit for me. 

So guess what? I still don’t like baking (and nothing against baking--because I do enjoy eating baked goods!) It's just that I'm still me. I'm just me as a mom now. 

Now to be fair to myself, have I experienced change in the last four years as a mom? You bet. But it’s not simply because I'm a parent. It’s because God used those experiences to mold me. It was not becoming a mom that grew me, it was the process of being a mom.

Change has come through the journey of facing challenges which sometimes felt insurmountable; it's been needing and asking for support when I came to the end of myself. I've grown not by simply 'arriving' at this place in my life, but rather through living into this stage. Ever so slowly through connection, heartaches, and hope--this is how I found new parts of myself and the work of parenting transformed me. 

Sometimes, I have to remember this little truth, because it’s so tempting to want to forget. I easily believe change is something we fall into, like the lottery, rather than something we patiently earn. Occasionally, I still want to believe that getting what I want is what will bring peace and growth. But then I gaze back at the track record and I find it was never about that.

It was always about how I interact with this new piece of life. It has always been about God’s faithfulness to me in the places of fullness and despair. It has always been about knowing the gift giver is better than the gift itself. 

This is hard work to know and experience when we are in the middle of wanting something. It is a humbling paradox that we long so deeply for so many things and yet we find those things can’t give us what we need. I find as I’m in this season of in between, a season which is full of hope at the anticipation of our little person, I am again tempted to think that I will automatically be different because we’ve gotten what we longed for.

And yet, wisdom reminds me our changes are earned. And indeed, many changes I have earned, but this is the necessity of experience. It teaches us to hold our expectations loosely, to love deeply, and to remember we can trust the process.

No, It's Not Bad {On Shame and Big Feelings}

by Andrea Kolber

I sat in the very last row of our 1989 suburban and I could feel my cheeks growing pink and warm. We drove around another curve after I had just unloaded my perspective about what felt like an urgent issue. A moment later, I remember my dad’s dismissive words so clearly: “She’s having another one of her adolescent moments.” And then came the sarcastic chuckle and my emotional shrinking. I remember the sinking feeling that came next along with my own internal critic: “There it is again. My passion is too big. I care too much.”

I didn’t want to be an inconvenience. I just had something to say.


My moment in time as an adolescent in the back of a noisy suburban isn’t unique. And now that I’m a mom, I have much empathy for my parents who raised five kiddos.

What I see though, albeit from a different lens, is that as a deep feeler my entire life—I had begun to recognize how inconvenient my passion and big emotions were for others. I attached those things to shame and to value. I saw them not through a healthy lens of understanding emotions as part of the human experience, but rather as something to hide or criticize or believe was weak.

It’s incredibly common for people to feel shame around their emotions. Our culture on the whole is quite uncomfortable with them. Unlike many societies who hold open displays of grief and celebration, American culture likes to keep things a bit more contained. 

To some extent I get it, it's not easy to know how to “be with feelings.”

However, I think there is a middle ground; a way to honor the need to feel our feelings while also respecting everyone may do it a touch differently. In our house, we use this particular phrase: “We are the boss of our feelings.”

This phrase means we get to have whatever feelings we're experiencing. Whether they are anger, joy, sadness, hope, fear, or anxiety—they all count. But, it also means those feelings do not have consent to make our whole decisions for us. Those feelings don’t have permission to allow us to hurt others or ourselves. Those feelings can be with us as long as they need to be, however; they must remain respectful.  

Creating this type of environment for emotions isn’t easy. Sometimes it feels like it would be better to simply shut down our feelings permanently.

“Go away!” I would shout.

“I’m too busy to be with you right now!”

And there are appropriate times to practice healthy containment for complex and big feelings (understanding healthy containment may need to be a different post). But I’ve learned from my own experience and watching countless clients, friends, family, and peers—our feelings don’t simply disappear. Our body and soul and mind hold those unresolved feelings until we give them space to move. God gives us our emotions for a reason. Not to tell us exactly what to do in any situation, but as our own unique system of helping us detect our experience, motives, and ultimately movement toward healing.

And so I write this as a person who has learned and is learning to be the boss of my own feelings, as well as a parent who is teaching this concept. This work is hard, certainly. But it is rich, life giving, and I believe the type of life Jesus hoped for each of us. It’s as though we are each prisms with many facets to who we are. God caused us all to have our own unique way of feeling and being.

This is why we don’t simply shame our feelings into submission. This is why it matters that we raise emotionally intelligent kids. And this is why we can learn how to honor our feelings, giving them space to move and still know they aren’t the boss of us—but instead, an integral piece of the whole.

Let Yourself Rest at the Table {Contributing at The Glorious Table}

by Andrea Kolber

I’ll admit it: I’ve coveted the ease with which others throw parties. I’ve wondered how some people--some women--seem to keep their wits about them when they have a hundred things going on and people visiting and they seem so calm (we don’t need to mention the times when I try to cook while having a conversation with someone and I end up missing two or three vital ingredients).

For much of my life, I’ve been intimidated by hospitality. I’ve been intimidated by the prospect of sharing my table. I’ve wondered if I need to reach some sort of bar to invite others to my table and my world. This has kept me isolated when what my soul needed was a good ol’ time at the table with friends.

What I’ve begun to realize over the last decade of my life is that Jesus utilized the table as a way to connect, not a way to prove anything. This is teaching me to rest at the table.

I share this information with you earnestly because it’s okay to be vulnerable and say I’m scared of hospitality. A lot of people ignorantly ask, Isn’t that what women do? Aren’t women supposed to be good at that?

I get it. At least I think I do. Most of us have fond memories of feeling at home with someone, or taken care of by someone to whom hospitality comes naturally, and it causes us to think it should be easy.

What I've found is that for me, hospitality isn't easy-- it's a gift, a sacrifice of time and heart space. 

Click here to keep reading over at the Glorious Table. 

When What You Have to Give is Small but Valuable

by Andrea Kolber

Back in the day, I went to business school. It’s hard to picture it now, because most ideas capturing my interest have to do with people, spirituality, psychology and growth. It’s not that business isn’t important or necessary; it’s just not what lights my fire.

But, I digress.

When I was in business school at Pacific Lutheran University, there is one particular term I learned from economics that has always stuck with me: opportunity cost.

Maybe you’ve heard this before, maybe not. But it’s essentially referring to the loss we experience when we choose to do “A” instead of “B.” For example, if I say I want to spend my $5.00 on a Pumpkin Spice latte, it means I can’t use the same $5.00 to buy a breakfast burrito (admittedly, this is a pretty tough decision). Either there has to be more money or I have to choose what I’d rather have. Thus, the opportunity cost is what we give up when we make a choice.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot in my own life.

I’m not sure if you’re one of those people who feels a pull to do everything. I’m not sure if you feel passionate about multiple issues. I don’t know what makes you tick. Maybe you are a bottomless well of energy and time.

But I can tell you about my heartbeat and how God made me. I feel deeply about a number of issues. You can usually tell because my cheeks get all rosy red and I feel like I have about a million thoughts. I also have a desire to be excellent when I choose to do something, and it can be frustrating when I’m not. I sometimes have the sense if I can just do one more thing, it will make a huge impact. 

And yet as I’ve grown, I’ve learned the actual amount I have to contribute to the world is fairly small. I am so very finite. 

Please hear me when I say each of our contributions and the work God has for us is significant. But it’s still just a tiny little drop in the bucket of our world. In a planet with seemingly insurmountable need—I’m just one person.

And because of this reality, I want my contribution, my legacy—the thing I choose to do with my time and talent--to actually matter. I don’t want it flittered away on random details that don’t actually make any difference.

I don't want to use the energy I could have spent loving my family well on organizing my dishes. I don't want to use the tiny sliver of time I have for writing to read a magazine I don't even enjoy.

It's simply not worth it.  

And this is where I’ve begun to think about opportunity cost again. If I admit I can’t do everything, then I must also admit that my yeses show my priorities. And when I say yes to things that are for the wrong reasons, or don’t matter, or because I want to please someone else—well, what I’m doing is admitting that important, relevant pieces of my life aren’t actually as important as I say.

On some level, I think we all know this. We know if we spend our time (or money, or resources or energy) in one place, we don’t necessarily have it to spend in another. But we excel at ignoring this truth, don’t you think?

And so what I’m chewing on— slowly and deliberately— is recognizing what I have to give, and valuing it enough to spend it where it matters most. 

For me, it’s memories not stuff. It’s people not money. It’s presence not striving. 

It's remembering what I have to give is small but valuable. And so I must choose to spend it well.

Join me?