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Posts Tagged ‘journey’

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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.

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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.

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