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Redemptive Grace

Loving Jesus, Loving People….(including even me).

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One Full Revolution

I pulled over to the side of the road, my eyes fixated on the rising full moon, a harvest moon. I feel a familiar catch in my throat: Continue reading “One Full Revolution”

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River

B58CEAB9-2A9D-44A3-967E-2F337310BD85I came here looking for you. Waiting by the shore I watch the gentle waves bubble up, stretching out to touch my bare toes. 

Peering down into the water’s edge I wonder at what remains hidden beneath this translucent surface. Where the gradating greens and browns turn black and opaque, I imagine creatures lurking below. Too frightening to be seen in the light.

River, tell me your secrets, I whisper to her. Her ripples lapping against the rocks create a murmur, reflecting back to me her hidden and mysterious darkness.

                                         Yearning, daring to be discovered.

The sunlight dances on the swells of her movement, eliciting a tempting invitation to step closer. I am captivated by her strength.

          She is alluring. 42D46CC7-20A7-46AF-83E2-47157D68CA64

Her waves, a quiet kind of turbulent, seek an escape. She holds herself back straining at the stone stays meant to contain her. Frantically she rushes forward to find her release. 

I can see that she is wild, beneath the surface she is untamed.

Dangerous. 

                  She is like me. 

I thought I came to meet you in this place, but you never came. I looked into the swirling waters and realized this whole time I have been searching for

             me. 

 

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Functional Depression

I keep telling myself this is just grief manifesting itself…that it will resolve with time, and maybe it will. On days like today, though, I fear there is something more hidden beneath this grief. Something darker, something threatening. Days like today my mind cannot comprehend simple instructions, instead I feel thrown into a full-blown trauma response. I find myself in tears just trying to complete the simple tasks of being an adult.

The kids are fighting in the background, they need me. The house is a wreck again, it needs me. We need groceries, there are bills to be paid. I have to figure out how to transfer all of these accounts. State exams are nearly here, but I can’t comprehend these instructions for filling out the requisite paperwork. I am highly educated I tell myself, I should be able to navigate all of these situations. I am vaguely aware of a persistent voice telling me this is a normal response to what has happened in this last year. A small part of my brain cries out to be heard: you will be ok. If you can set these tasks aside, take a shower, and nourish your body…you will recover. 

I can hear this inside of me, but I can’t grasp it; I can’t connect to it. I am having a hard time even connecting the sensation of hunger to the need for food. I can’t leave my bed, there are at least 87 pages open in my brain, I’m definitely swirling. My screen betrays what is happening in my mind: 18 tabs, 4 screenshots, 3 documents, various emails, and at least one document search currently lay open on my laptop. Even still, I will complete everything I need to today, except mother my kids, or feed my body. I’ll rarely leave my bed.

This is functional depression. Oh. To force accomplishment, to finish the day with an outside air of perfection. To feel lost and a little alone. If you stopped by today, I could whip up a smile, I could distract you with a little humor. You would likely leave me feeling refreshed. I, however, would wish I wasn’t so good at deception.

I am mad at this wasted day. Mad that I didn’t take that walk with my son. Mad that my kids watched too much tv and mad that the only time they heard from me was when I was shouting at them to get their chores done. Mad that I still expect perfection from myself on a day I needed just to be.

The sun has now set and I am sitting here in the dark of my room, my favorite space. I can smell the warm fresh scent of jasmine coming through the window, I try to let it tell me the story of renewal. I apologize to my kids, they are so accepting. Tomorrow, please God, tomorrow let me be free.

Allay This Fear

Today is one of many harder-than-hard days in this fluctuating season of unease, and I know that I will face many more days like this in the coming months that will feel as trepidatious. As I fight my need to allay the intensity by distracting myself, I know one thing for sure: none of the many ways that I desire to resolve the anxiety within me will last. I must acknowledge the basal response of my system and call it what it is: uncertainty, anxiety, fear and these are temporary. Pushing in, I must be aware that with time these all encompassing emotions will pass and become a distant (albeit painful and teachable) moment in time. Today, all that is required of me is to remain.

God will fight for me.

I have never understood this so fully as this current season has required of me. Perhaps it is all of the times I have insisted on trying to fight for myself that have failed. The failed attempts to recover my sense of self through relationships that were not right in timing, or those many many demands I made of myself to be perfect and exacting. I have failed so often trying to gain the foreknowledge that would keep from unraveling my carefully constructed walls of self-protection that I have missed out on the inexplicable peace it is to remain.

The Lord will fight for you. You need only be still.

-Exodus 14:14

Now, don’t misunderstand me. All is not fine. Suffering is real and alive, and there are so many unknowns that are present in this life. What I want as a release and protection is very real and I am pleading for it to be so; I also know that God will fight for me, even as the outcome is certainly different than what I can imagine is best.

I have frequently misunderstood what it means for God to fight for me. I had assumed, as many around me, that the protection of God meant justice or at the very least a lessening of pain. As though God would come through like a night in shining armor to swipe evil away and make life right and safe. I believed in a theology that said that God saves and that meant rescuing from circumstance. In reality, God saves means that the deepest parts of me are awakened to a reality that God is within. That regardless of circumstance, that my protection is being intimately connected to the unchangeable, steadfast Spirit of God.

Today is a day of unrest, and yet I am resolved to remain because I believe the Lord will fight for me, I need only to be still. 

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Soul Ache and Anam Cara

What is this gripping feeling in my chest that settles into the space above my lungs? It seems to come in waves, unbidden and ferocious. The intensity is hard to articulate beyond simply ache, and always with it, the perception of loss.

This is a familiar feeling, it evokes an unnamed longing deep within me. Last year I wrote about a similar ache that comes around Christmastime, here. I thought that writing through it then would help resolve whatever was stirring within me; maybe it offered some quiet then, but it just hasn’t eradicated this feeling altogether.

Longing must always be explained in the Christian world; find the root cause of discomfort and make it about faith (or lack thereof). Although, they’re not the only ones prone to reckoning. Counselors can be even worse (and I am both)! We connect E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G. Trouble sleeping? Let’s talk what your brother said to you on your third birthday. Stubbed your toe? Tell me, when did you realize that your cat had a personal vendetta against you?

Screen Shot 2017-11-24 at 8.04.14 PMNaturally, I decided not to keep my therapist in the loop during these Continue reading “Soul Ache and Anam Cara”

Dear Diary,

Screen Shot 2017-09-28 at 1.10.43 PMTrauma visited my doorstep with a force just four days ago. Actually, it’s been living in the midst of my home for too long, it’s just now there is no way to contain the secrets.

Really, these thoughts are probably too raw to start processing so publicly.  I am acutely aware of those of you who will receive this message directly, as well as those who may come across it elsewhere. It definitely gives me pause as a part of my subconscious is trying to get me to stop writing, berating me with what-ifs.

How often do we wait until the suffering is contained before we share it? When really, growth begins in safe transparency; in leaning in, not away.

That said, there is something about undigested pain that seems to be both striking and sad in a way that stirs up the soul. So, yeah, I’m pushing in and writing through some discomfort. My hope is that it captures this process in this moment, lending to the comfort of those who will inevitably walk a similar path, maybe myself later on, or even my own children.

This is personal, yes, but it is also so very universal as pain often is. Like a drop in quiet waters, or the echo of a shout, pain reverberates to the outer edges and back in affecting all in its path.

Suffering through trauma and grief creates a vacuum in the mind meant to preserve itself from imploding. So, just FYI, I can’t be wholly held responsible for anything that my brain might insist on reacting to in the coming days and weeks or even over the course of the following year (#Sorry).  It’s kind of a part of grief that isn’t really talked about: normal executive functioning (the ability to think, plan, decision make, organize, etc.) comes and goes at will [insert eye-roll]. So I’ll be taking a lot of deep breaths and slowing down. I’m focusing on this moment, this hour. The rest will work itself out in time.

I can’t seem to focus for long on any given task or subject. When I do try, I get tired quickly, so I am giving myself permission to fall asleep when I need to. Sleeping shuts off a part of our brains in order to start healing, I’ve decided to accept the limitations that have arrived.

I seem to be the okay-est during the daylight hours. It’s when night creeps in that the darkness reminds me that I must also feel lonely in this season.

To the community that has been with me (even as I’ve pushed you away), you have showed up for me and my kids in a big way. Thank you for praying for peace and relief over my family. It stormed in this weekend through circumstances none of us would have chosen, even still God has been orchestrating this release for a long time.

I recognize gratitude in this: my mind has been trained and prepared to understand the complexity of trauma. I am being protected by the grief I’ve already bore, and the intrapersonal work I’ve been committed to.

I am so thankful that counseling through personal grief has been modeled for me by my own therapist over the past year. I just counseled others in the midst of my own trauma and at the end of the day as my last client left the office, my body has responded with overwhelming anxiety. I remember that I am physically fine, though. I understand that as a counselor I often bear the weight of stories, today my body just doesn’t have the space necessary to contain it like normal. Instead, it’s coming at me as angst, built up in my chest, butterflies in my stomach. Just breathe. 

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It is as if all of the theology I have struggled to understand and fought against is finally making sense. Integrity is something I highly value, but minimizing my pain, making excuses for the behavior of others, and living in complete chaos really messed up my ability to grasp my significance as a counselor, friend, and mother. That cloud is being lifted even now.

On a day like today, I can speak confidently. Tomorrow may be a day I can’t leave my bed. This is normal, I’m not crazy. It is after all, grief.

The circumstances of this weekend have been horrific. And quite possibly the best thing to have ever happened.

We are all going to be okay.

Petticoat Confidence

Yes, I know ‘petticoat’ is a derogatory term used to undermine strong females taking on roles traditionally reserved for men. That’s the point.

Woman, noun. wom·an

Female human. Embodiment of God’s femininity; keeper and giver of love, nurture, gentleness, strength, and tenderness. FIERCE and loyal; comforter.


Screen Shot 2017-08-15 at 4.37.55 PMEvery day I sit with (cautiously) courageous women who speak the hidden secrets of their hearts, trusting that I will tread gently with them into their rawest places.

Inevitably each will come to ask, “Who am I?”

This, above all else, is at the core of the work that is engaged in my counseling office. Sometimes it is a skewed perspective that has harmed her sense of who she is. Other times it is a lack of nurturing within herself. Most all come with gaping wounds inflicted by the carelessness of those meant to adore them. Regardless, each brings with her a pain and confusion that is etched deeply into her features; and it has taught her that who she is, is not enough; that the make-up of the person she is, is maladapted for the space she contains.

So begins the work of unraveling what has been experienced and creating within her an understanding of truest self.

As I look into her eyes and listen with all intuition, my heartfelt desire is that she might catch a glimpse of who she is uniquely created to be simply by sharing this space with me.

Borrow your strength from me until you feel it come alive within you. 

The thing about confidence is this: it is within YOU, but it’s ok to need someone else to help point it out at first. It has been the history of our narrative, (the stories we tell ourselves), that we as women can’t be confident in our individual and collective significance. This is being altered, and it starts with you.

What do you do well? No, really, what are you good at? Without apology, without feeling the need to sensor yourself, what are you passionate about? What ignites that fire inside of you? Take a step toward that and say it out loud.

Go confidently, go boldly in who you were created to be. And if you haven’t figured out who that might be, come see me. We’ll figure it out together.

Hush

The blinking cursor mocks me.

Words that used to flow so freely through my fingertips have become fodder for my imagined critics. Every heart-flutter of intelligent thought that cries out to be written is stopped short of life. Someone might actually read into the cadence of this language, I might be seen.

Writing is the visible outer covering of my heart and soul for the world to discern, but fear has rooted itself deeply. Vulnerability is a risk I suddenly can’t seem to bear. 

Emote. Type. Erase. Repeat.           

 

And still the blinking cursor mocks me. 

 

Unseen: Reclaiming the Eye of the Mind

In all honesty, there is no easy way to dispel the thoughts that come after experiencing evil. It has a sticking pseudo-power that leeches onto the mind’s eye like dust to a wet blanket. Often the imagery left in its wake cannot just be unseen or simply stopped on command in a wandering mind. Only with dogmatic-like persistence, safe vulnerability, and soul reclamation is the experience of freedom from an unjust, evil story available; even then it would seem we are rarely ever truly free of its haunting taunts.


Continue reading “Unseen: Reclaiming the Eye of the Mind”

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