A couple of months ago at work, I sat in on a company-wide marketing presentation. It was focused on current and trending ‘aesthetics’ that our younger consumers are identifying with and that are showing up on TikTok and in memes. Some of the concepts and verbiage were new to me. For instance, did you know that ‘coastal grandmother’ is a whole vibe? A quick google search shows recent articles in Elle, Vogue, BetterHomes & Gardens, and The Atlantic all focused on this style and trend involving crisp white button-downs, high-waisted khakis, and neutral-toned cable-knit sweaters. Think Diane Keaton or Ina Garten. One article stated, “If you’ve ever felt the desire to take a long solo walk on the beach in a button-down and a woven hat — there’s no question that you’re a coastal grandmother through and through.”
I don’t know about you, but I have more of a ‘work-from-home mom of kids on summer break’ vibe.
Just as I was thinking I was simply not hip to the trends, the presenter mentioned one final aesthetic during this corporate presentation: goblin mode.
Yep. You read that right. Apparently, goblin mode is also a whole vibe. This trend entails sweatpants. Hoodies and stocking caps. Embracing stretchy pants and yesterday’s mascara. One article refers to it as “a rejection of anything aesthetically pleasing”.
And when the cute, chirpy speaker tongue-in-cheek style presented on goblin mode, I actually thought, Now that’s an aesthetic I can get behind.
I’ve realized that some of the extra things I used to fret over and even enjoy simply don’t make my to-do list anymore. I can’t remember the last time I put a tablecloth down over my worn wood table. It’s not uncommon for me to pick up yesterday’s outfit and re-wear it. It’s July, and we just put in our garden. After being folded, the laundry only gets put away once company is confirmed to be coming or when one of the kids complains about having to paw through baskets. That’s about the time that kid is handed said basket and told to put it away.
I’ve long written about sharing our real-life living. About not hiding who we actually are. About embracing imperfection and ordinary glory. These are the concepts of my heart and what never fails to resonate with me. And I’m the first to share my dust bunnies and takeout for dinner, survival mode and burnout owning, living on grace and caffeine. But man, does it feel like I’ve been stuck in goblin mode for a while now.
There’s another trend floating around right now where you identify your ‘toxic trait’. I’ve seen everything from “my toxic trait is thinking I need an iced coffee every time I leave the house” to “my toxic trait is wondering if this food that normally hurts my stomach will hurt my stomach TODAY.” Usually lighter, witty, and relatable, these memes and tweets make me giggle. They also leave me pondering my toxic traits, which I’ve realized include: testing the limits of dry shampoo, putting leftovers in the fridge knowing full well I will never eat them, and thinking that whatever the situation is (good or bad) it will probably last forever.
Combine that last trait with the allure of goblin mode, and boom — that’s where I found myself during that corporate presentation. Feeling a little bit ashamed that I couldn’t pull off coastal grandmother, and that I’d probably be stuck in goblin mode forever.
Oh, friends. We are never stuck in just one place. We have a good God who loves us way too much to leave us mired or marooned. Scripture is full of people who feel stuck and the God who rescues them — often from themselves. A particular set of verses came to mind as I thought I might be stuck in goblin mode:
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
Ecclesiastes 3 (NIV)
These verses from Ecclesiastes come right after two chapters where the writer rends everything meaningless. Over and over, the words ‘everything is meaningless’ lead into the gloomiest phrases, reminding us that nothing we do matters, that no one will remember us, and that wisdom and work and pleasure and play are all meaningless too.
Then, these verses on the time we do have, and all that is meaningful. And they remind me that maybe, instead of restrictive permanence, we have the gift of ebb and flow. Of turning tides. Of coming and going.
Maybe we aren’t stuck where we are. Maybe we’re just here for a bit of time.
God doesn’t say how much time, so it’s true that we don’t know how long we will embrace and how long we will refrain from embracing. We don’t know the length of time that we will be silent or the length of time we will speak. God didn’t tell us exactly how long our season of scattered stones would last. He didn’t spell out what transitioning from mourning to dancing would look like for each of us. The specifics may be read between these lines, but the black and white of them remain.
Friend, not all of us will go from goblin mode to coastal grandmother. We will still pick up iced coffees and leave the laundry in baskets for too long. But friends, we’re not stuck forever. It’s always just a matter of time.