ode to twenty-eight

I don’t know what an ode is. But this is a letter to say goodbye to twenty- eight.

“So you have to go into the place of your pain with the knowledge in your heart that you have already found this new place. The more roots you have in the new place, the more capable you are of mourning the loss of the old place and letting goof the pain that lies there… You have to weep over your lost pains to that they can gradually leave you and you can become free to live fully in the new place”

-Henri Nouwen

Your twenty-eight year old self has been angry. A contempt towards herself and the little girl, who, while naive, bore kindness. She is tired of being held to these chains.

You can go into your pain. Because the new place of life surrounds you. See it. Live in it. You have roots here, though, you often forget.

Forgive the girl that forgets it and run from the people that tell you to do otherwise, with words or actions. She is good. You are good. There are others that are good. Know this.

You are capable. Capable of grieving. Your tears are gold, let yourself weep.  Let them flow.

Bear your heart to those that can keep it safe and offer your softness as an invitation of life to the others. Let them teach you, too.

You are more free then you see right now. The new place is here. Its not out there. Fight for here with all your strength and know its peace and joy.

You don’t know what this year will bring and you don’t have to. Trust the maker. Trust the spirit. Be held here.

Oh, and kick some ass this year and keep your sass.

Relinquishing Control

“The more you relinquish your stubborn need to maintain power, the more you will get in touch with the one who has the power to heal and guide you. And the more you get in touch with that divine power, the easier it will be to confess to yourself and to others your basic powerlessness.”

Henri Nouwen continues to mentor me through this journey. I’m going through his book, The Inner Voice of Love . His stuff is dense, so I read one entry each day, all week. His entry, Acknowledge your Powerlessness, has met me this week in this next leg of the journey.

I have a strong, independent spirit. It has led me to believe that control is no longer a thing for me.

That’s a lie.

I’m aware that the the constant open doors and stimulation my brain feels is about control.  I have trained my mind to keep all the doors open with an activated mind and body.   I work, tirelessly, at times, to figure out what will make me feel most safe. Time management, word choices, planning outings, body language, budgeting; All good things, but they are motivated by a distrust and autonomy that avert me from the insecurity the feelings of powerlessness and loneliness bring.

My insecurity often changes shape. Changes in my body, my credibility in my work environment, parenting three young children, and relationships, are the loudest places of present insecurity. To counteract the insecurity I fill this space with the loud.

I do the things.

I like the girl that does the things. She gets more attention and that feels a little safer.  I’m also noticing how she leaves me resentful and worn. Her pattern is not different then what many before me have done, dating back to Eve. We forget who God is and try to do it our own way.

I want to forgive that girl. She’s trying her best.  When I allow myself to sit in that place of gentleness with her, I sense the Spirit of God and feel a sense of awe and peace.  She quiets the little girl. Her spirit reveals the redemption playing out in my own story and allows a few of those brain doors to softly shut.

The spirit of God is exposing spaces where I need to keep nurturing that girl. Forgiving her. Allowing space for her to grieve the sense of powerlessness and loneliness she faced in being a gentle soul in a hard world. And giving her permission to allow life to reenter those spaces.

But I sometimes get stuck.

When trauma happens, our brain has a hard time distinguishing or having a sense of time. So the girl who felt like an outcast after moving schools 5 times before 7th grade, has a hard time distinguishing her loneliness then from the present moment. She shuts down when she is in a new place going outward or inward on herself. Trauma does that to us.

Whether these are capital T traumas or lowercase t traumas, things trigger us, trigger me, bringing us back to places of pain. John Bradshaw lists ways we have encountered trauma in our lives.  While these may not equate to a clinical diagnosis like PTSD, they may expose our buttons and explain why things like my feelings of powerlessness and feeling alone, are so triggering.  I would argue that most, if not all, of us have experienced at least one, likely multiple of these.

  1. By actually physically leaving them
  2. By not modeling their own emotions for their children.
  3. By not being there to affirm their children’s expressions of emotion
  4. By not providing for their children’s developmental dependency needs.
  5. By physically, sexually, emotionally and spiritually abusing them
  6. By using children to take care of their own unmet dependency needs
  7. By using children to take care of their marriages
  8. By hiding and denying shame secrets tot eh outside world so that the children have to protect these covert issues in order to keep the family balance.
  9. By not giving them their time, attention, and direction.
  10. By acting shameless

Melody Beattie wrote, “Shame has its roots in our childhood and its branches in our lives today”. While not all inclusive, the list Bradshaw presents, opens up a whole category of places to grieve and awareness to build. It is that shame that has bound me to being dismissive towards and angry with the little girl.

I have resistance to Nouwen’s and Bradshaw’s  invitation to let go of my desire to enter the roots of my control, and enter the shame Beattie speaks of.  It feels safer to be seduced by the security of the familiar, but, as my anger reminds me, this neglect comes at a cost.

I don’t think she needs to be as angry as she has been these past 10 years. She does need to be nurtured, though. This season is inviting her towards re-exposure, in a way that allows her to encounter God and others in new ways. While it opens up uncertainty in these new places my confidence in her is growing. She is strong enough to hold the tenderness of her pain, while heading into unknown spaces of the present moment, moments that hold richness.

Getting kissed by a llama.  Seeing a duck crossing front of my car. The light of the sunrise filling my room alongside the sweet voice and snuggles of my two- year old.

Creating room for that creates room for me to own and confess my shadow. That gets to hold space too. There is a level of discomfort and unfamiliarity that still brings. It exposes spaces where I don’t trust God will bring me through and where I am actually terrified to let him bring me through. This space is another I want to release.

I’m aware of how much wreckage my resentment has caused. How it was projected onto my spouse, and created a demanding atmosphere that left little space for me to be curious about my spouse, respect him, and offer him grace. It significantly contributed to the breakdown of our marriage. It pushed the little girl down even farther and caused me to resent her and others.  Though insecure, she is very much kind, inviting, and compassionate and she went underground in her closest relationships. I cursed her when I actually needed to face her, forgive her and learn to love her, so I could love.

So I’m relearning the basics to this thing called love and I want to camp out here.

To invite more quiet in my world where God meets me. Space to sooth my body, mind and spirit. More yoga. More simple. More nature. More snuggles. More candles. More walking. More windows open. More sunshine.  This space creates room to receive love and give love. I want that for me and others. And I see I still have lots to learn and practice in that space.

 

 

 

Sacred Spaces.

I sat down in my office to begin rereading literature I am using to with a client.  I am currently studying under the work of Dan Allender and I found the Spirit actively using his words to penetrate my heart. He affirmed the steady invitation I have felt in many spaces these past two weeks; to repent.  He writes:

“My client struggled with this question: Why choose change? Her increased aliveness led to new conflicts. She often handled the new struggles by growing detached and hard; she kept her growing joy imprisoned behind strong boundaries of independence and anger; and her beauty wilted in the ultraviolet light of self-centeredness. She seemed trapped. Change brought conflict; conflict intensified the desire to succumb to the old patterns. She was caught on the horns of both desiring deeper change and understanding what change requires…

Man, this description. I align to so much of it. I’ve recently started working the steps of the AA program and it fits precisely within the first step of this framework; Admitting I am powerless and that my life has become unmanageable. Though alcoholism is not something I struggle with, I am coming to see my addiction is to serving myself.  The remaining 11 steps have laid the path for the places I need to continue to travel through. I have made my way towards step 5, admitting to God, myself, and others the exact nature of my wrongs.

I  have begun confessing these words to my spouse, parents, a few close friends, and recently, to fellow members in the weekly group therapy class I’m in:

I have refused to repent of the harm my self-centerdness has reaped on Rand, my kids, and my family. I have used God’s name in vain, preaching to myself and others that the freedom Christ brings us is the end of the story. I have gone on to believe that  I have actually been loving others from this place. The truth is I have missed the point of true life and freedom; that God’s kindness and rich mercy spoken of in Matthew 22 is To to also love others. I have used these past years of therapy as a dumping ground instead of to seek spiritual mentorship and wisdom.  Instead of softness, I have let my heart become hard and calloused to my own actions and seeing other people. I have used my knowledge to manipulate, judge, self serve, and self protect,

Where joy once lived it has wilted, suffocated by the weed of detached hardness and been smoldered by the ultraviolet light of self-centeredness, as written by Dan above. My cloak has been strong boundaries of anger and independence. 

More specifics of the ways I have perpetrated harm were outlined in these sacred spaces, where it is far more appropriate they remain then this platform.  In those spaces, I found an invitation towards intimacy and love, a surprise to me. This space is what I encountered through speaking. It is what he describes in Isaiah 30:15:

“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust in your strength, but you would have none of it”

I have seen how I would “have none of it”, keeping that cloak over me, but also where I have found a new and different strength, held in this rescue from myself.

“The reason to pursue changes is so that I can look at a sunset, read a novel, hold my daughters or son, drink deep from a friendship, sit quietly in prayer, or ponder heaven and simultaneously weep, laugh, and marvel. I want to know God, to experience what it means to be alive in His presence, then return to Him the praise of my grateful heart”

— Dan Allender

I feel this resound in my heart.  Freedom is found in being able to receive love and kindness in my own heart, yes, but it continues. I get to hold it, I must hold it, but full freedom is found in being able to offer it. I have not done that well.

Rand, my parents, and certainly the kids can attest to that.  I want to continue to repent of and name where I victimize myself, idealize, dismiss, and judge and mind read the motives and hearts of people like Rand, my mom, my sister, my in laws, and the people I work with.  By being inconsistent in my words and action, I bind myself to a curse that bears no fruit and that is actually not at all connected to The Vine.  My heart is to be for the people around me, the stranger, yes, but also the one’s closest to knowing me.

I am aware this season will be a time of repentance and relearning how to own and see God, myself, and others. I am certain it will hold life and fruit, but equally certain it will hold pain and suffering. My heart is be here in these sacred spaces.

 

Home

Your breath cleanses like the fresh, pure air birthed out of winter’s darkness in early Spring.

Warmth offered from a sip of hot chocolate, after the frigid bites of a January winter, is the comfort of your cloak.

Your light reveals all of creation, connecting me to the earth, your universe, your sanctuary.

The branches of a cottonwood tree, rustling in the soft breeze, is your voice.

Curiosity flows from your presence, mimicking a toddler’s delight in their new found discover of the  world.

Your eyes penetrate doubt and insecurity as a sword would mar it’s enemy.

Though you are a lion, your tenderness caresses like a mother’s lips as she meets her first born with a soft kiss.

Your justice is bound by the writings of Exodus, though your grace as strong as your Resurrection.

Passion is held in your gaze, like a groom watching his bride walk towards him on their wedding day.

Your mediums of creation are endless, holding the intricacies of a snowflake and whose pallet is the color of the October leaves of a maple tree.

The strength of your arms bring containment, breathing the comfort a fan’s cool air, after a day in the midsummer sun.

Though you hold the gaze of many, following You are the few.

They are nomads, wandering the desert as the Israelite’s before them, sustained by Your manna.

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Anchor.

 

Here I sit, at Your falls.

Your firm, steady rock beneath,  holding me,

an anchor.

The air around me is thick and heavy.

It surrounds,

while the stream beneath holds a current of steadfastness.

It’s waters knows their place and it’s flow holds certainty in it’s destination.

It will come and return.

I envy the ritual of the cycle it’s flow possesses

but rejoice in the tale written in the worship find in it’s movement.

Surely if the water holds this story, You too shall hold mine and me.

Your presence is close in this temple of your waters.

Screams of your glory surround.

The waterfall revirtibrates this message against the congregation of rocks and forest.

I want to join and sing.

I want to weep and let my tears join the community of your waters.

I want to live in this church.

Is it my calling that brings me to be a wanderer, a nomad, or is it my curse?

To sleep in, eat of and commune with an unknown family

To receive warmth and care, uncertain of when and where.

To proclaim truth against lies all around.

In contemplation, thanksgiving, and sorrow

Here I sit, at Your falls,

Your firm, steady rock beneath, holding me,

an anchor.

 

 

 

 

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My Heels.

Oh,

how I have cursed your constant rhythm.

A chase.

A running from,

rather

a running towards.

 

See me, they cry,

as they strike that which is beneath them.

Faster, they carry themselves.

Harder, they pound against.

“Listen”, they bellow into the empty audience, surrounding.

 

Cuts emerge,

Swelling follows.

Blood pours out from raw, familiar wounds

where soft, gentle flesh once laid.

Pounding turns to patter,

then a halt,

as they search for and find respite from the tenderness of the earth beneath.

 

They finally see that which has held them,

The earth

and its soil beneath them.

Provision

through the comfort required to

heal

cradle

hold.

An invitation

towards the respite that has always been with them.

 

They choose to return to the path.

The field ahead is vast and expansive,

full of grass

that sways and dances in the open terrain and endless skies.

It sings a beckoning song  

full of blessing and praise.

To see the beauty held in their silent narrative.

To speak of what is written in the calluses born out of their story

To once again

run

delight

adventure.

 

They step forward,

This time

singing along with the chorus of the field’s grasses and wildflowers

A rebecoming through their baptism into blessing.

Angie’s 26th Birthday.

 

Live it Well- Switchfoot

 

“Life is short, I want to live it well. One life, one story to tell. Every Breath you take is a miracle”

This lyrics came on as I was making your birthday scones and I found tears flooding my eyes and trickling down my cheeks.  You won’t be here this year to celebrate your birthday. I’m curious if heaven celebrates birthdays. I’m curious what eternity is like.

I have found comfort this year in your death, knowing that you have found the rest, peace, and completion we all seek. For you, you faced so much unseen disconnection and unrest. So much pain earthside for you, Angie, and I feel grateful that you no longer know the suffering, you had little respit from.

I don’t know what those final moments held for you. If in the early hours of that morning there was intent, substances, or if it was just the confusion of that highway entrance, as the many previous deaths there marked.  Your little Honda exposed the reality of what a collision at that speed does and I’m certain death came quickly for you.

Finding out about your death hours before my flight left me undone. A new reality began to settle into the shock my body absorbed by the news, when Just 12 hours before you had confirmed you would be picking me up from the airport. We had planned see our older sister at the hospital, together, and her new baby boy, that you had only just recently met. Instead I was met by the first officer who had been on the scene at your crash who drove me to the hospital.

Two funerals followed. Neither seemed to match what I needed for my grief. I still don’t really know what it needs and am close to certain nothing would’ve been able to fully honor my heart or your story.

My daily 45 minute commute each day last year provided a space where I could tend to this group. Music, as it usually does, helped me enter the grief. Tears allowed me to feel the grief. Your pictures and reading your autobiography from when you were in treatment that year for your eating disorder allowed me a deeper glimpse of the woman I so desperately want to sit with and know.

You bore much beneath your eating disorder and the other diagnosis you held. While you possessed a beauty, I am also aware of how much you resented this beauty. How it provided a mask to the confusion you felt within yourself.   I long for more real life time with you to see that part of you and bless it.

Today, I am engaging with you in spaces I feel closest to who you were. Art. Kitchen time. Music. And rest. I will read your story again and remember you, because, sweet sister, you are a woman worth remembering. Your story feels hardly written and I’m pissed that I didn’t get to hold a few more pages within it. I wish you were here to write even a few more chapters. Your strength would’ve allowed you to enter my own confusion, but without judgement. You held that space well and I savor those three months you lived with us where I got to taste pieces of that.  You possessed a knowledge of the world, an experience in this world that I wish more, including myself, could’ve seen, explored, and learned from.

I’m grateful for that time. I am grateful for your life. I am grateful for your death and the peace you now know, but man, I miss you. Happy 26th Birthday Angie. I love you. img_2499