Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘faith’

Self-Reflection-post.png

10 years ago, around this same time, my girls were 10 and 8. My oldest would have been just getting ready to go into 6th grade and my younger into 3rd. I would have just finished up my first year of teaching 5/6th grade and (unknown to me at the time) one year away from teaching high school English lit. My girls were homeschooled. I was pursuing my SLP degree. My husband was AGR in the Air Force. Life wasn’t bad and there was so much on the horizon.

Since that day so many things have happened…. We transitioned the girls into public school. My younger into an arts charter (later a small IB middle school, and finally to Renaissance HS) My older daughter into Renaissance HS. They’ve had their ups and downs. Friend transitions, school transitions, leaving the church, hormonal years of Jr. High, the pressure years of high school. And they’ve turned out phenomenally. They are both kind, compassionate, thinking, caring girls who want to make the world a better place. They both have gone on to graduate high school with honors, obtaining their IB diplomas, and are excited about their future. I couldn’t be prouder of the people they have become.

Alongside the girls getting older, my husband and I have had our ups and downs. Just a few years into my 30s we hit a fork in the road, divorce felt like the only option, fear, anger, and uncertainty rested like a cloud over our marriage. And we didn’t let that stop us. With the help of phenomenal friends and a lot of hard work we learned a new dance; one that would honor both of us. We shuffled through what type of music we’d both like, stepped on each others toes, and prayed more than ever that God would make it work. Six years removed I can say that it was all worth it. I can’t imagine living life without Steven; he truly is my best friend, my place of comfort, and my love.

Reflection.jpgAnd I, I have changed… So many lessons have been learnedthrough the abundance of loving, caring friends over the years. I have learned how to trust, and to be trusted. I have learned how to have confidence in myself. I have learned how to standup, step out, and support those in dark places. I have learned that each person’s deepest hurt, is their deepest hurt (their deepest level of pain, is their deepest level of pain) no comparison is necessary. I have learned that God is so much more than I can ever comprehend. I have learned that God is always good, and he’s reflected in every good thing. I have learned that though things are imperfect, God is not, and he moves in and through the imperfect. I have learned that compassion is gained as you listen to the stories of others. I have learned that I don’t have to compromise my morality in order to have compassion for others. I have learned that the stories I make up in my head are often warped representations of reality. I have learned that my body will forever change, so I’d better learn to appreciate it like a loyal friend. I have learned that death is the win and life is a gift. I have learned that a smile, a text, an encouraging note can be life changing. I have learned the decisions that I think are life changing often are not and the decisions that I think are flippant are often the ones that change my life. I have learned that family is priceless, that friends are precious, and that community is essential. I have learned that my emotions are often not a representation of the current situation. I have learned that there are few things worth fighting for. I have learned that my mind, body, soul, and spirit are intertwined and each one needs to be cared for, nourished, and honored. I have learned that most things are not what they appear to be. I have learned that forgiveness is freedom. I have learned that connection and communication happens in vulnerability, truth, and love. I have learned that shame grows in the dark and dissipates in the light. I have learned that courage and fear are catalysts to faith and trust. I have learned not to be defined by my past. I have learned that I am worth more than I think I am. I have learned that I don’t know as much as I think I do. I have learned that I can learn from everyone and every situation. And I have learned that there is so much more for me to learn.

As I move forward into my 40s I hope and pray that I will remain open, soft, and sensitive to all of God’s nudges in my life. That I will see each person for who they are, where they are, and the purity of who they were created to be. And that I would walk to the rhythm of his heartbeat for me, growing in trust, courage, confidence, faith, hope, and love.

Read Full Post »

My Journey in Trust

According to Webster trust is defined as:

1. a : assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something

b : one in which confidence is placed

2. a : dependence on something future or contingent : hope

I was once told that faith in God is simply active trust. Trusting that God is who he says he is, trusting that I am who God says I am, trusting that God has done what He said he has done, trusting that I can simply rest in Him.

My journey with trust began about a year and a half ago. Up until that point I often found myself telling my children when asked why they couldn’t do something, “It’s not that I don’t trust you, it’s that I don’t trust anyone.”

Broken-TrustI know where it all began: Growing up we moved nine times between the ages of three and eight, going to seven different schools by the end of my third grade year a total of ten by the time I graduated high school. The longest I spent at any one place were my three consecutive years in high school. I quickly learned that trust was something that wasn’t extended to people, places, or circumstances, because they would soon be out of my life. Opening my heart to risk being hurt, to me was like learning not to put my hand on a hot stove. It only took a couple of times before I resolved to never do that again.

So when I opened my heart to God, though it was very real, sincere, and honest, it wasn’t complete. I trusted him enough to get me to heaven, to take care of everything on the other side of eternity. Yet, when it came to things down here, where life had proven itself to be dark, I chose to take care of things on my own. Of course I would ask him to be part of things, it helped hide the blind spots of fear that so gripped my heart. Fear of: What if God isn’t who he says he is? What if I’m not who he says I am? What if in the end, he’s going to see what I see inside of me, the parts I haven’t been able to get rid of, and he too will leave? What if I am truly worthless? Without even knowing it, I had created a God to fit me. To fit what I thought I wanted, and one that fit the lies that I chose to hold onto.

395491_329223333849685_223540981_nI had gotten myself so convinced that the only place God could really hold me was in eternity. I began to fixate on it. Thinking of ways I could go be with him. I know a ‘good Christian’ isn’t supposed to think of suicide. And I did. For months I would think of ways I could make it look like an accident: How could I make sure my girls aren’t the ones to find me? What’s the quickest way to get me out of here? What can I do now to ensure everything is in place for when I leave? The questions went on…. it was beginning to consume me….

Thankfully I didn’t have the answers to all of those questions, and thankfully, God isn’t just in eternity. In the fall of 2011 I began a class called Aphesis: Immersion Experience. Where I began immersing myself in truth: truth of who God is, truth of who I am, truth of his intimate involvement in my life. I began reading books of the Bible as a whole, starting with 1Peter. A book full of hope and truth, the reality that life is hard, and that doesn’t change who God is. It was on that journey that everything changed for me. I began to release the chains of fear and law that were suffocating my soul. I began to step out and trust that God wasn’t going to leave me. That he was able to hold me here on this side of eternity. I began to simply sit, let him tell me truth, let him breath life into my soul.

When I read this passage (Galatians 3.1-14) I couldn’t help but relate to where the churches in Galatia were. To trust God enough to get things started, to trust him for what felt comfortable in trusting, and then relying myself for the rest of it. The verse, ‘for all who rely on works of the lay are under a curse.’ rang so true. That’s exactly where I was at, relying on myself, relying on my works, relying on my hope… cursed with a life of living in circles, always jumping, never able to fly, thinking it was in my power that I could change thing, I could be control, I could be safe.

In trusting that Jesus died to take all my guilt, all my shame, all my hurt, and all my pain, in holding onto hope in the truth, that is where my heart learned to be light, and I was able to learn to trust… one step at a time.

‘No distrust made him waiver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.’ Romans 4.10-21

Thank you God for your truth. Thank you for your hope. Thank you that you are bigger than anything that binds us in slavery, in hurt, in pain, in despair. Thank you that you took our guilt and shame, and that we can live in a peace of trust in you. Continue to remind me of your hope, continue to show me your truth. When I begin to fear, let me hear your sweet whispers in my ear…Jumping woman at sunset

Read Full Post »

“The forge is used by the smith to heat a piece of metal to a temperature where it becomes easier to shape, or to the point where work hardening no longer occurs.

The metal (known as the “workpiece”) is transported to and from the forge using tongs, which are also used to hold the workpiece on the smithy’s anvil while the smith works it with a hammer. Finally the workpiece is transported to the slack tub, which rapidly cools the workpiece in a large body of water. The slack tub also provides water to control the fire in the forge.” Wikipedia

An analogy I heard this past Sunday has given me a new perspective on the struggles in my heart, mind, and life. As a blacksmith forges metal, so God is forging us. With each blow of the hammer, we are being shaped into something strong and beautiful. In order for the metal to be pliable and not break, it must first be placed in the fire. (That’s my summary, here’s a link to the full sermon by Trevor Estes.)

As I listened to Trevor say, “With each blow of the hammer…” The memory of me emotionally beating my head up against the wall again and again wondering, why I was revisiting the old pain, distracted me from the rest of the sentence. At the same moment a freedom overflowed my heart and my perspective was changed.

I used to think life was a line with a beginning and an end, a neatly packaged start and finish, or a ladder that I was continually trying to climb in order to attain, and be, who I was created to be. Not any more… I’m thinking life’s more like a slinky: ever twisting, bounding, circling, back over the same things again and again as we are shaped and molded. “Like a blacksmith forges metal so our lives are continually being shaped. “

To embrace the discomfort and the struggle in life like an athlete embraces the pain to push toward the goal; to realize that the feeling of hitting my head against the wall again and again over the same issue isn’t because I haven’t learned anything, or that there’s a deficit in me; to acknowledge that life is about cycles, transitions, ever changing; to rest in the seasons: This is a freedom that I’m beginning to embrace.

It’s a freedom that rests in trusting the blacksmith. Feeling his strong hand encircling my life, knowing that there’s more to the story than I can see, breathing in the life-giving breath of each blow from the hammer, every moment in the fire, and every cool moment in the water.

Being reminded that this too is temporary, this too will soon be gone, my heart can rest in his sweet whisper, ‘My love, trust in me.’

 

Contentment comes with each new wind

My heart it overflows

The tears pour down as flesh resists

The heat, and hammer’s blows

 

Trust reveled as seasons change

My spirit lays at rest

There’s strength inside for now it knows

The hope of love’s conquest

Read Full Post »

I shared a bit of my journey this morning at a women’s lunch. I wrote it out a few days before. It’s a bit long for a post, and yet I thought I’d should share it, so here it is…

There are tapes in my head that I listen to like old recordings of people’s words, or actions. The loudest tapes in my head often bring me back to the beginning, my first tape. It was created when my father left when I was three. I was told he left me because he didn’t want children. At first I thought it was a hurtful lie that my mother made up. That is until as a teenager I asked him why he left. The answer was the same. Being the youngest I restated his words to say, ‘I left because I didn’t like you.’ This left a deep-rooted lie that so imbedded itself in my being that I’m not sure what life would be like without it.

The tapes began, “Something is so innately wrong with you that even your own father wouldn’t want you.”

My mom married again when I was 6 and I quickly became daddy’s girl. I took on my new dad’s last name. I strategically watched him, trying desperately to find ways to serve him in order to get the accolades a little girl wants from her dad. Anytime he was running errands or working on his truck I was there asking questions, getting to know him, wanting so badly to be known in return. And I was. We would dream about all the places we would go together, listening to his tape of the latest hits from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s while eating pistachios and sunflower seeds, spitting the shells out the window. My heart was beginning to be healed, the tapes beginning to quiet down.

Then it happened. He was gone. The divorce wasn’t too big of a shock, he was a compulsive gambler with a drug problem and my mom was trying to run a daycare in her home. The combination wasn’t exactly set up for success. At first he moved right around the corner. I’d visit him as often as I could, hoping that though he left my mom, he wouldn’t leave me. Then one day he just wasn’t there. I don’t remember exactly how it happened, or why. I remember walking by his house on the way home from school hoping that he’d have changed his mind and come back for me.

All the while the tapes got louder, “There is something wrong with you, he finally saw it, and just didn’t want you any more.”

And so I continued with my journey of trying to prove my worth.  This time I’d be less trusting, I’d guard my heart more, I’d only let people see what they wanted to see. Not being a good student in school, I quickly realized that my brains wouldn’t bring me the affirmation I so desperately sought. I would be the class clown, the talkative one that would win the heart and the frustration of my teachers. Alongside the list of mediocre grades on my report card would inevitably be the comments, ‘Pleasure to have in class, excessive talking.’

Through a series of events, that are a journey all their own, I began my relationship with Jesus. I immersed myself into a church that loved me, wanted me to know Jesus, and demanded I change. In a place that is focused on the outward, on works, and who will happily hand you a list of rules for you to follow, it was easy for me to know what to do to find my worth. I attended every event I could; I changed my clothes, my habits, my speech, and everything I could, longing for worth. I was hailed as the girl who was saved from the world and a life of destruction, to one with a call on her life. The church had done well. The people there had amazing hearts, loved me dearly and in many ways God used the legalism to completely shut out destructive patterns in my heart and life. Their intent was good. And for a girl who just wanted to know how to belong, it was a dreamland. It seemed so easy.

The lies were being reinforced daily, “Who I am doesn’t matter as long as I follow the rules I will be found worthy.”

Then came the fall, my unexpected pregnancy. Every thing changed in a blur. On July 13, 1996, I turned 19 years old, and found out that I was pregnant. After telling family members, our close friends, and our pastor, the wedding was scheduled for Friday, July 26, and the church confessional was scheduled for Sunday, July 21. It was the day my finance and I would go before the church, confess our sin, and show them that there really was something innately wrong with me. I wasn’t what they thought, and I was far from worthy. I remember standing up there on stage, crying behind my soon-to-be husband, while he apologized to the congregation for letting them down.

The tapes got louder “Once again you tried to hide who you are and failed. You are worthless, and there’s nothing that can change that.”

There were those who stood up during the confession and had my finance stop, embracing us in love, trying to reverse the damage. Nothing helped. I began an emotional tailspin that lasted years. I went far into myself, trying to lose who I was, trying to escape the reality of my depravity.

We were married as planned, and our beautiful baby girl was born less than 8 months later. I quit my job, and tried my best to find worth as a wife and a mother. Marrying into a family with a Donna Reed type mother-in-law didn’t help my feelings of worthlessness. I was constantly trying to measure up, and my husband was wondering why I didn’t. Frustration built, and I secluded into the darkness of my soul. Leaving my husband angry, hurt, and confused.

The years went on and the tapes were got louder, “I was worthless and anyone who spent much time with me would soon find out I wasn’t what they wanted to see.”

I learned how to do exactly what I thought my husband and people wanted, without regard to myself. We had another baby girl and my solace came from being with my children. Their love was unconditional, they would laugh at my jokes, sing my silly songs and we would play for hours without worrying what anyone thought.

As the girls grew older, the dysfunction in my marriage became more and more apparent. I realized that we were in a destructive dance. I had lost who I was, and all I wanted was for this misery to be over. The state of my heart and head scared me; I knew something needed to change.

I started spending time with God in new ways. I would sit with Him; listen to His heart for me, and just rest. Some days I would lose track of time, simply sitting in His presence, knowing He knows each part of me, and He still loves me. I would dream about Heaven, tired of this world, longing to be in His arms. In the arms of one who would never leave me, or call me worthless.

Beginning to replace the lies with truth.

I began reading the Bible differently. Instead of reading a verse, or a chapter at a time, I was reading the books as whole books. Letting the truth and reality of this living word sink into my soul, not the interpretation of man who I so often let hurt me. I would read, asking God to show me His truth, show me who He was, to show me who I am.

And I began opening up to people, allowing them to see the ugliness inside of me.

I was learning to trust.

As I read, sat, and rested, my soul was being healed. New tapes were being played. I was embarking on a journey away from the reality of worthlessness into one of pricelessness.

I am still at the beginning of that journey. If I look behind me I can still see the curve in the road and the lies of worthlessness that have left deep impressions on my soul. I am learning who I am. I am learning what I like, and what makes me laugh.

I still avoid large groups of people. I still don’t like looking in the mirror. I still go to dark places in my soul very quickly if I let myself. I still fight the lies of guilt and shame for not measuring up to everyone else’s standards.

And I know there’s hope.

I know that God loves me deeply.

I know that He is who He says He is.

I know that He is good.

I know that His love covers me.

I know that as I walk, I can trust that He will never leave me.

And I know that He made me priceless.

As I continue to trust, rest, and hope in who He is, I will find more and more of who I am. And I’m trusting that one day I will be able to see myself the way that He does: Precious and priceless, not in spite of who I am, but because of who I am. Because that is the way He made each one of us, intimately, delicately, in the hands of a loving father of grace, and love.

Read Full Post »

Opening the Door

There are times in life when nothing suffices, where longings, desires, and passions, cannot be fulfilled by anything short of the execution of a yearning. That ever-present voice in the back of your head, whispering at times; shouting in others. Some of us push this longing aside, trying to drown out the noise with past voices. Playing our tapes louder: tapes of unworthiness, of fear; fear of failure, fear of success, fear of the unknown. Sometimes the noise chooses to briefly become a whisper, if only to allow for your own sanity. Yet, you know it’s there, patiently waiting for acknowledgement, for the slightest bit of hope, giving it permission to shout again, urging you onto fruition.

Throughout my life I’ve played that cycle. Opening the door to my heart, listening to the truth. Quickly shutting it when things got scary, unsure of what I was to do with this foreign thing. Leaving myself empty, I was left with the question of, ‘What if?’ What if I had the courage to pursue? What if I sat down and began to dream again? What if I finally opened that door and left it open? What if….

I’ve run across something today reminding me of my dream, in the words of a humble monk.

To be as good a monk as I can be, and to remain myself, and to write about it: to put myself down on paper, in such a situation, with the most complete simplicity and integrity, masking nothing, confusing no issue: this is very hard because I am all mixed up in illusions and attachments. These, too, will have to be put down. But without exaggeration, repetition, useless emphasis… it requires much honesty that is beyond my nature. It must come somehow from the Holy Spirit. A complete and holy transparency: living, praying and writing in the light of the Holy Spirit…

~ Thomas Merton

This is my dream, this is the beginning. Allowing myself to journey, to write, to walk forward not knowing how things will end; not really sure what to expect. Knowing to push it aside would once again be putting to death a part of me that thirsts for life, for freedom, for rest. Here I am trusting, watching as I open the door…

Read Full Post »