Choosing to leave.

There are moments that I feel numb. The flicker of the candle next to me as I write reminds me that this is real. This is my new space. Instead of being in our home I’m gazing at it through my second story apartment window from my spare bedroom/office, overlooking the field across from where my three kids are. This is my new normal.

As Rand shared in his post, I moved out. It’s not the space to outline the details of it. So I will just leave that to the sacred ears of those I’m known and seen by.

I find myself grieving my marriage in a different way then I ever have, as I’ve written about it these past 7 years. I’m learning to have compassion for the little girl who no longer wants to fight for her marriage. I’ve been surprised at the spaces that have offered curiosity and compassion to her. Spaces in the church even, which actually blows my mind. How could they love a woman who is choosing to leave her husband and pursue divorce? Who is clearly not going about this in the “right way” or the way God would want? Contending with grace when I feel I deserve condemnation is taking on a new meaning. I’m struck by who God is in this space and who he says I am.

Tenth Ave North’s song “Beloved” is one I have been meditating to.

Love of my life

Look deep in my eyes

There you will find what you need

And give me your life

The lust and the lies

And the past you’re afraid I might see

You’ve been running away from me, yeah

You’re my beloved

Lover I’m yours

And Death shall not part us

It’s you I died for

For better or worse

Forever we’ll be

My love it unites us and it bind you to me

It’s a mystery

Love of my life

Look deep in my eyes

There you will find what you need

I’m the giver of life

I’ll clothe you in white

My immaculate bride you will be

Oh, come running home to me, yeah

You’re my beloved

Lover I’m yours

And Death shall not part us

It’s you I died for

For better or worse

Forever we’ll be
My love it unites us

and it binds you to me, yeah.

You’ve been a mistress, my wife

Chasing lover that won’t satisfy

Won’t you let me make you my bride

You will drink of my lips and you’ll taste new life

You’re my beloved

lover I’m yours

And Death shall not part us

It’s you I dined for

For better or worse

Forever we’ll be

My love it unites us and it bind you to me

It’s a mystery

Condemnation has existed in this space too. The piercing judgement of eyes has flowed over me like hot lava. Stepping into our house holds an entirely new level of uncertainty and confusion as I enter the territory of Rands pain.

But I want to bask in the truth of Tenth Ave’s words and allow that to gentle expose ways that I am still trying to numb the pain of facing the reality of separating what I have worked for 7 years to fuse together. It’s painful and I’m tempted to move as quickly as I can to resist. I’m tempted to numb through the loud of a full agenda. I’m tempted to keep meaningful relationships at a distance. I’m tempted to not enter my heart with myself.

This week will be a big week for us. I have my normal individual therapy appointment and Rand and I have couples therapy with a new therapist that has been recommended to us.

Prayers for us in this space and over the kid’s hearts, as we figure out a flow that honors us and them, are welcome. Rand and I have chosen to keep their home base intact, meaning they stay and sleep at our house. We’ve settled into an every other dayish evening flow, but its taxing, in different ways, for both of us. I’ve noticed a grief as I now move towards establishing confidence in being solo with them. Three kids is no joke, never has been, but it’s taking on a new challenge now. Learning how to be gentle as Rand and I figure this out is hard. Emotions feel high and the temptation is to have conversations about our pain during the spaces of our interactions is a strong pull. 

Grand Forks has been my home these past 10 years, but the circle of my people has always felt small. Family for me are primarily in the twin cities and for Rand, here in town. There is a level of facing their disapproval, as they own pain they are facing in my decision, that has surfaced a familiar loneliness.

Space to grieve that, has actually been the hardest for me. I can deal with the eyes of those that don’t hold much weight for me, but I have worked to keep out the eyes of those where the risk is higher. I now sit in my deepest fear of knowing I am severing something with them. My gut has felt wrenched by this multiple times in the last four weeks. It’s caught me breathless and sobbing and turning back to who God says I am, despite my choice, and working to keep hope alive, that relationship may one day be restored. Often times, this has been more painful for me than the actual act of separating from Rand.

It reminds me of how large the ripple is for my choice. It also reminds me of the invitation to trust God in entirely new ways. Not just for myself, but for my kids, my family, Rand’s family. May God be close to us all in this space.

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Seattle Invitations

The question that Dan posed to us at the end of my time at The Allender Center was “What are 2-3 sentences from this weekend that bear the blessing of God?”. As I sit with that, I’m struck by how the content of this weekend was rich, dense, and at times, murky. There are a few dimensions that feel like clear blessing to me from my time in Seattle.

I received a taste of community, that was unique and surprising to me. My story felt stepped into by my group members and in a few sacred moments, I felt incredibly seen.  A group member looked at me, with tender, kindness, and named a a question that seems to permeate a lot of ways I relate to myself and others.

Who is brave enough to move towards me?

My mind is continuing to swirl from the naming that occurred in this statement.

When I sense someone daring enough to step into me I feel drawn back to the 5 year old girl sobbing because her dear friend bailed from a sleepover.  Will I be chosen? Will I be cherished? Will anyone be sturdy enough to see me despite all my fucks? These questions permeate my desire to expose the cowards and the courageous. Like a wild stallion, as I was named in this space, should a person step towards me, I may “kick them in the groin”,  to gauge their commitment, before allowing myself to be wooed and won by them. Which is  both part of my beauty, and my shadow, as it can keep me in a place of ambivalence. 

As this was being named, my group leader, Heather, physically stepped into my space. I was typically the only person sitting on the floor and she physically sat with me, joining my gaze and tears, as my heart entered the naming. This sturdy act, welcomed me in. It said “I see you”, “I invite you in”, and “I bless you”

Wanting to be blessed was a desire Dan spoke of and invited us to engage deeper with.  This carried a two fold invitation to expose a demand I carry to be blessed and an invitation to see where I have not been blessed. I can almost visualize what people may construct as a blessing. What it is not is an older women passing you in the fellowship hall at church, gazing at your sweet children, patting you on your head and saying “bless you”, but like a rich blessing. I don’t nearly have the context of what that blessing could look like, but I’m getting the sense that it is far richer than I imagine an d its foundation is being known.

To be known you have to be seen. To be seen you have to encounter delight. To be delighted in you must have someone who calls you into who you are uniquely meant to be. This is honor.  I, like many of us, may not have encountered this honor from our primary sources in childhood. This leaves us, left me, with an offering, not of who I uniquely am, but who I was told was acceptable to be.  Soccer player. Funny. Nice. Smart. Determined. But, it left me a stranger certainly to others, and most tragically perhaps, to myself.

My journey has brought me to a place where I have begun to not only see who I am, but learn how to nurture and delight in her. To feed her. But I hold a deep anger and certainly a grief for the little girl who didn’t encounter that same delight. Who spent countless hours questioning herself, what she saw and what she felt about herself and her world. She is worthy of tears of sorrow being wept for.

To step not only into why she is worthy of blessing now, but was worthy back then. I’m eager to step into that differently then I have and name moments from my story where my little girl showed up and she wasn’t delighted in. To bless her.

I long for this blessing in the now and certainly demand it in the relationships that hold the most risk for it to be both withheld or given, so basically Rand, most maternal figures, and the people that I respect. But, the irony, is not that I am to “stop demanding”, nor is it that I move to ambivalence. It is an invitation to step even deeper into the desire. That is a glimmer towards both repentance, forgiveness, and repair and I want to cling to it. As Dan says “This is where the battle ground of the human heart lies”.

I sense “what does stepping deeper into the dangerous waters of desire look like” as a lingering question from the weekend. To not necessarily tame the stallion, but actually invite and welcome her, as Heather did. To enter into and engage with my fierceness and my kindness in new ways. I’ve allowed much space for  the girl who wants to move towards kindness or ambivalence, but have not allowed much room for myself to run, free, mane blowing in the the prairie’s wind.

But I’m kind of both scared and intrigued by her, in the most non multiple personality disordered way. She offers herself and her truth. She has sass and a sense of self. She wants to be a warrior. But she has felt left exposed and aroused, often. She often sits on the outskirts of circles and not within the core of the circles. She is only just beginning to experience the pasture of delight. Dare she wish for more? And what if she can’t handle more? It stirs up all these questions. But I sense the invitation and I’ve tasted the beauty that holds and I say

You are welcome here, child!

As I felt movement towards this person, welp I guess me, I found intrigue, life, and freedom. It also opened up a door where I had thinking challenged kindly. I familiar face of doubt came over me and out of me, while I was processing my time. I found myself basically saying:

“I dunno if I can trust this because there are parts of it, part of Dan, that feel messy and unsafe”.

“Don’t our leaders get to struggle too and don’t we want them to struggle to”

Damn. Yes and Yes.

Pride still tries to tell me that I certainly can’t struggle or be messy and others cannot either. There is more there I want to dig at… a pattern that gives me some data about myself, but I know that 

Believing I and we can’t struggle spits on grace.

May I continue to see and rebuke that for it keeps me stuck in the chains of contempt and allows evil to have hold.

Beauty is held in this tension and may I bask in the glory and freedom it provides me and us.

Seasonal Depression, Leaky gut, Butt Cheeks, Loneliness, and Lipstick.

Yes. All shall be covered today.

There is a giftedness and beauty that I posses, that we each posses that often has it’s “shadow”.  I have continued to explore, acknowledge, and name patterns to both sides of this beauty and shadow and can identify seasonal patterns to the mood changes I experience in the colder months of the year.

With the backbone of our state being agricultural, I find that many of us have farming skin that appears thick enough to endure and adapt to these God awful conditions in the upper midwest.

And then there are those of us who do not or whose bodies biologically resist.

I was born in LA county, but I’ve known the harshness of Minnesota and North Dakota winter’s for nearly my life’s entirety. The more I experience other places, the more I aware of my body need;s for milder conditions. As I sunk my toes my toes into the Californian sand on the coast in Santa Barbara  and watched my children delight in their first experiences of the ocean waves, I was actually quite certain of it. The environmental differences seem to breed and support a culture, lifestyle and creativity that I am enthralled by. I’m not saying that milder temps alone mean I could thrive, but I think I could be a hell of a lot easier on my body, then the weather roller coaster ride my body has been drug through it’s whole life.

For those of us that are empath’s and whose giftedness entails a sensitivity and attunement to the interpersonal and environmental needs of ourselves and other’s it of course makes sense that I would be biologically responsive to the harsh conditions that promote a yearly hibernation of my body.

Being that there is no hard timeline for this said move, I have chosen to learn how to support my body so that it can sustain itself and thrive, even in the winter months.

I began preparing for this winter around the close of last winter. No joke. Trying to get a better gauge on what my needs were so that I didn’t dive into the depression that I often experience in the form of poor appetite, low mood, and falling asleep around 7pm.

Diving deeper into what helps support my body has been a mix between freeing and tiresome, at times. Nutritionally, I have begun to journey into the world of Naturopathic medicine, after running into limitations in the depth that traditional medicine has been able to take me. Last month I attended my first appointment with Dr. Ali at Prairie Naturopathic Clinic in Morehead, MN. As often is the case for high quality care, I waited nearly 6 months for my scheduled appointment to arrive. And it doesn’t disappoint! We have begun to name and identify the impact that leaky gut syndrome could be having on my body and mental health and I have started to progress in my treatment planning to address my bodies nutritional needs and deficits.

Sexually, I have begun to more deeply name the pain caused by a deeply ingrained denial and suppression of my sexuality, that started through my conformity to the church’s often shameful and fear based approach to abstinence. This has been a piece of what has led me working with my Physical Therapist to strengthen my pelvic floor.

Sick of “leaking” while doing double unders or lifting heavy in Crossfit, was the final straw in my resistence to engage with my genetilia’s wheelhouses. It is requiring me to embrace phrases like “hugging my vagina”and  teaching my pelvic floor how to both relax and engage. After months of 6am Monday morning PT sessions, I now hardly bat an eye when I spread my but cheeks while she places sensors between them that provide the biofeedback I need to retrain the muscles that I have taught my body to disconnect from. I can’t say it’s my highlight of the week, but it’s the hard work I am willing to engage if for the sake of experiencing the growth and freedom I desire.

Which brings me into the loneliness and lipstick part. While my nutritional needs and sexual health have been a large part of the past 6 months, I have noticed that my social needs or desire to intimately connect with people in a non professional setting have been largely unattended to. Fancy language for I feel lonely and long for meaningful friendship. As much as this season of life has pushed my extroverted tendencies towards introversion, as having three babies and talking with people all day being my primary jobs, I can’t deny that I come alive and recharge around people. Fall and the approach of winter, always seems to be the screaming reminder of this truth.

But something about that, needing friends, feels yucky, messy and vulnerable to me. It surfaces yucky judgments that I make about people who are in my world that I don’t pursue friendship with. It stirs up yucky entitlement that feels like I should be able to snap and have a best friend appear. It also pushed me to ignore all of that and purchase three tubes of lipstick on Saturday instead of move towards aspects of my social life that I can control.  Despite those shadowed piece of this desire being true and the focus of my counseling session today, I do think it is important to name the general frustration of making friends as a young adult with three children and a career. Not to mention an overall culture that reports one of the highest rates of loneliness in history….

The odds are against me, but I’m up for the challenge. I can sort of own that I am picky, but not rigid about friends. So if you like moving your body, appreciates, honesty/self reflection, feel like you know who you are and who you aren’t or are on that journey and can handle last minute plan making, all one of you, Hi! Maybe we can be friends?

 

 

Beauty Redefined.

I am currently in a year long training at The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology’s Allender Center.  We get the opportunity to name and invite others into our story. I was drawn to a narrative in my past of physical and emotional abuse by an adult caregiver. It feels like this is my first verbally stored memory where I identify betrayal and a new name for a wound I have continued to dig at these past 8 years. It surfaced a new set of or words that struck me.

Refuge

Complexity

Tangled

Ritual

“Am I just too complex to be known by myself and others,” I often wonder. This line is one that has often drawn me into depressive episodes laced with self contempt.

As I have sat in this the past few weeks, hope, this antidote to depression, has been stirred and a light has begun to illuminate and direct me back to my trail. The word dynamic has emerged beneath the complex term I have been using for myself and I sort of like it.  It seems to reflect the beauty that I am learning to celebrate about myself.

I’m beginning to see that this is a beauty that as often been misunderstood, not only by others, but by myself.  It has been one that has been poked and prodded by the stares of both men and women. It has been felt in comments, both passive and direct, and interactions with family, friends, and colleagues, where I have sensed this beauty being resented or taken from highlighting areas of self contempt other’s display for their own beauty.  I must also mention the countless times that my weight has been a topic of interest that others feel a right to comment on in a display of their own self contempt about their weight, size, or appearance. Much like it is entirely inapropriate to touch or speak to the body of a pregnant woman at the grocery store, it is entirely inappropriate to comment about the size of my body or shape of my body, whether it be lean and long or plump and round.

Ultimately, viewing beauty as merely a reflection of idealism in the female body and subjegating myself, or anyone else to this standard, is a form of a microagression and narrative that I am choosing to reject, so I can continue to engage with the dynamic beauty and gifts that God as given me and us. It is one that I long to celebrate for myself and within others.

It has also surfaced questions I am wrestling over of roles of women and the role of beauty, within The Church. What role has The Church played or told me is beautiful, as woman? I get that I can have a place if I teach sunday school for 5th graders or maybe even reach the big leagues and have a leadership role in women’s ministry, but can the dynamic beauty of my truth telling be something that the church not only tolerates, but invites but celebrates as a real dimension of our God?

“Why is it that masculine pronouns dominate the trinity”, I have begun asking myself this year.

I recently had a leader refer to the Holy Spirit as a She and it did something to my soul. Maybe there is a place for me even though I don’t serve in the church nursery or bake desserts for church meetings.  Why is it that in my 28 years within the church, this has rarely been seen, let alone celebrated, cultivated, or developed?

I feel grateful for a chance to do all those things in this year long journey at The Seattle School and The Allender Center.  To grow along other’s that desire to ask and engage with themselves, others, and The Church in ways that battle against brokeness and evil.

Seattle has given me an opportunity to reawaken a lens of beauty that has felt suffocated by self-contempt, idealism, and parts of my story I have only chosen to engage in from anger.  Exposure of my own beauty from this dynamic lens is a part of my story I am entering and it exposes and awakens a calling against evil that I feel called to fight against. My sword and training needs to be refined and cultivated, as I am called to be “as wise as a serpent and as gentle as a dove”. It is one that requires the fierceness of a warrior and the kindness of Mother Theresa.

Part of the role of evil in my own life is how it longs to confuse me. It uses my beauty to scatter me or pull me in directions that are outside of this. In naming this, I see this as an area to be refined and as I look back, I can see a myriad of the pulls.

My desire is to dedicate myself to this training in an honest way.  To name, challenge, view, and enter my story in a way that invites life; cultivating the beauty of the Holy Spirit within me and inviting other’s to engage and enter their story and beauty.

 

The Drama of the Gifted Child.

I’ve been reading The Drama of The Gifted Child per a recommended reading by  Dr. Dan Allender. It’s reexposing areas of my inner child that I, as well as all, have the opportunity to grieve to experience freedom from the loneliness that sometimes threatens to engulf me and the growing number of other Americans, as discussed here. Maybe you fit into that too, if so, with gusto I would listen to unearthing what is beneath that, no matter the cost.

That has been my journey these past 8 years. Unearthing that pain, alongside God and my therapist. I often question those of us in practice that haven’t journeyed there, agreeing whole hardheartedly with Alice Miller’s work:

” It also means being able to experience the resentment and mourning aroused by our parents’ failure to fulfill our primary needs. If we have never consciously lived through this despair and the resulting rage, and have therefore never been able to work thorough it, we will be in danger of transferring this situation, which then would remain unconscious, onto our patients. It would not be surprising if our unconscious needs should find no better way than to make use of a weaker person. Most readily available for exploitation are one’s own children or one’s patients, who at times are as obedient and as dependent on their therapists as children are on their parents.” 

Despite journeying in these waters heavily these past mentioned years, I still find the temptation of this transference palatable, at times, in my sessions with clients. I take Alice’s therapeutic approach with a heaviness and conviction:

“It is therefore extremely important that the therapist not allow his own needs to impel him to formulate connections that the patient himself is discovering with the help of his own feelings….. Recognizing the fragility of the healing process obviously does not mean that the therapist must adopt a mostly silent and hurtful attitude, but merely that he must exercise care in this respect.”

I must, we must, do our own work, and own and expose our present and past unmet longings and desires in order for us to enter into sacred space with others—with our children, clients, patients, friends, and even the checkout lady at Target. This is not to be confused with withholding ourselves from relationships with others because I believe God’s redemptive hand can work through any and all circumstances. It does, however,  mean being willing to enter into the unknown territory of our inner world’s and the feelings, Miller writes, we would “prefer to escape: helplessness, shame, envy, jealousy, confusion, rage and grief”.

It is because we have not entered into this invitation or have not been shown how to enter into this invitation of our stories, that I believe we are becoming more and more sick and more and more lonely.

Word’s cannot express the gratitude that I have for my therapist’s ability to sit with me, encourage me, and expose to me this invitation that I had previously fought viciously against with my imposter. This imposter is someone that I continue to battle, as she appears at times faceless, like Arya Stark, in Game of Thrones, and deceptive. Though her shadow is known, she is shaped by the external cues of who I must be to gain value and significance.  Often I forget that the civil war she exposes is one that I must continue to fight and that we all battle against in some way. To journey into the memories of our childhoods that unknowingly shaped us, where our primary sources of nurturance were unable, at times, to provide what our little hearts needed.

“For a child can experience her feelings only when there is somebody there who accepts her fully, understands her, and support her. If that person is missing, if the child must risk losing their *primary caregivers love or the love of her substitute in order to feel, then she will repress her emotions. She cannot even experience them secretly, just for herself; she will fail to experience them at all. But they will nevertheless stay in her body, in her cells, stored up as information that can be triggered by a later event.” 

This is what integrative medicine is exposing, a pathway to how stored trauma reshapes our cells, with the manifestation of this rewiring exposing itself in varying forms of diagnosable labels.  From this lens I can already look on my parenting with great sadness, rightly grieving the messages I have told my three babes about what they can and cannot experience and contributing to the formation of their impostors.

With hope I have heard that even being emotionally available 50% of the time can create a “healthy” environment that at least opens the pathway so conversations about these deficits can be discussed between children and parents. None the less, I am grieving the ways that I, and you, have reinforced this vicious cycle of generational trauma. This comes not from a place of self condemnation, but from a place that The Text calls us to confess before God.

However, until we first grieve our own losses from childhood, it is difficult, if not impossible, for us to fully see and grieve the way that we are contributing to this vicious cycle in our relationships, from our children, to our significant others, to our patients.

With this reminder fresh on my soul and prefacing a recent group therapy session, I realized that I long to receive nurturing from my spouse. Those words struck me in a new way, as the imagery of one of my children needing to be held amidst their overwhelming emotions flooded my mind and flashes of my own longing surfaced from my subconcious. Despite being all of in my late 20’s and far from the age of my children, I see the way my soul deeply longs to have my emotions both seemed, affirmed, and explored.

I have great doubts that this desire will ever go away, no matter my age, but whose pangs may be the (hopefully gentle) reminder of the deep imprints of my humaness and my desire that I believe God imprinted on each of our hearts. Sometimes I wish the knowledge of this was unknown to me, still covered by my knot of anxiety, that had me as a little middle schooler using a hall pass to dry my wet armpits beneath the hand dryers in the bathroom. But, even if I wanted to ignore these revelations, there is no turning back. I have tasted deeply of the living water talked about in The Text and I press on.

Though the cost, at times, feels great, I continue to be reminded of the freedom I have and will taste and experience from both the sorrow and joy of this thing called my journey. In the joy found in the present moment, listening to the win, and in the invitation to grieve, that I often find myself in the mosh pit volume of our home with three littles.  I invite you to join me there in your journey to rage a war against our generational trauma and to fight this epidemic alongside each other.

 

 

Summer ’18 Vibes.

Summer has brought more space in my work day to process driving motivation and put words to what I see and what I understand about myself and humanity, in my present season. I treasure this space, just as I treasure my 45 minute commutes to work that are filled with the glorious space to be. Though flat terrain isn’t my ideal, God is continuing to expose his beauty in my rural commute through the glitter of sunlight off of the trees and they dance in the breeze and in the inspiration of worshiping alongside creative warriors, through music and my favorite audible titles.

The words of Dr. Dan Allender, Rachel Held Evans, Native Kingdom, the rapper T.F., Elevation worship, and Phil Wickham have deeply moved me on my drives. They give me hope and faith as I muddle through this journey towards being and knowing more deeply who I am and who God is and is not. They invite me and give me permission to know God more deeply. To wrestle, question, doubt, cry, and create, and they have carried me these last months.

My late wrestlings have brought me to a place of wanting to more clearly define my beliefs, values, and missions.  I find doubt is the demon that I often wrestle with. Its voice sometimes lessens, but its presence is always near. It seems to rear up often in these raw, fragile seasons and I have found myself questioning much. While I don’t enjoy that, there is pruning that yields that opens up my heart more fully to receive the pain and suffering that accompanies it.

This has given way to an increase in my sessions with my therapist, set appointments at a natruopathic doctoring clinic and accept an opportunity to pursue a training in Trauma Focused Narrative Therapy at the Allender Center Seattle School over 4 long weekends. It’s caused me to rethink my diagnosis of ADHD and Depression to wrestle with what the patterns I see within them tell me, including how I best treat them and how I view they define me.

It’s causing me to wrestle with and articulate what I believe. More to come.

 

4/10/18

“Something bad happens. I hurt. I feel unhappy. I long to feel good. But I trust God. His pleasure matters more than mine. But His pleasure includes mine. I believe that. So I abandon myself to His pleasure. I live to please Him. II work hard and live responsibly and strive to put balance in my life because that pleases Him. Making Him feel good is a higher priority than making me feel good, And somehow, inevitably, at some point, I discover joy. That is the way of the Spirit.”Larry Crabb, in Shattered Dreams (page 148)

I came across those words, as I sat looking out our front window, with my middle son plastered across my chest in a barehug. Some of them make me pissed. The pissed that I might feel in the middle of a WOD at Crossfit or in the middle of Haute Yogis sculpt workout. The kind of workout that you feel might break you, but you end up living through and feeling that rush of life.

I have been munching on them. What do I agree with? What do I find myself wrestling with?

Feeling the death of my sister has resparked a discomfort within me. A deep pain, naturally, but something more. Something I still am wrestling words for. Maybe it is desire. Maybe it is longing. Certainly the pains of self-protective pretense…

It is hard for me to grasp that a desire of living to please Him could be a part of that discomfort. I’ve tasted the idolatry of living to please man and self, which makes it hard to sift through my desire of pleasing in any manor. But as I sit, I notice that He is awakening something within me that runs deeper then the superficial gains of validation or praise. Perhaps the balance that is churning within my discomfort and groans comes from wanting to honor and love Him.

It’s hard to trust that, but perhaps I am growing in ways that I haven’t allowed myself to see. I have a client who parallels this thought. In session they often default to speaking about their low sense of self-worth, despite the growing evidence that they are no longer in this place. There life is changing…. their desires are shifting… they are no longer who they once were…

What if I am more like this client then I have allowed myself to see?

As I look around, I see beauty and pain in new and remarkable ways.

I see both a life that is transforming before my eyes, in ways I never thought it could, while jointly encountering a new and deep ache within.What if all of that is a part of the Joy that Larry is talking about?

To put some meat on this abstract thinking looks like this; I’ve noticed God transforming my spending habits and our financial health. Where once my desire was for more, I notice this is being replaced by being more mindful of what I have been given, what has already been awakened and planning for long term goals instead of the instant gratification I have craved since I was a child.

I’ve noticed an ability to receive from my spouse, children, friends and family in ways I once would’ve hidden from, dismissed, and certainly not taken pleasure in. I feel a peace over the direction our family is headed, not from a place of environmental or relational control, but from a place of certainty in who my God is and over the growing awareness of His calling on my and our families life.

God has been using people, messages, and interactions to expose my doubt and lies to these thoughts.  These past few weeks a few that have been cropping up are:

That I am not worthy of addressing my mental health in new ways.

That I should have the right words to say to put my clients or people I interact with at ease to secure my value.

That systems and growth are bad.

That learning and growth looks like absorbing all that I read.

That I’m not allowed to think critically or expose shame messages that I see, even questioning that I see anything…

That saying no to an event, commitment, or cutting back on teaching yoga or seeing clients means that I lack something in my character.

That its not normal to feel tired, worn, or have low energy.

Writing some of those down makes me giggle…The boldness of their message and it’s grip on me seems to loosen when I speak them and it helps make room for some of what I see that He is awakening with in me, such as:

My nutritional health and my families nutritional health being valuable.

Giving myself permission to find balance in my life… and it’s okay to not know what that looks like all the time… and it’s okay if it changes by the season.

My body and mind being sensitive to their surrounding environments. That I need to take care of them in an especially mindful and delicate way, specifically in the winter. That my body may not be suited for winter 6 months out of the year and it’s okay to yearn for warmth and the mountains of Colorado or the excitement and diversity of the city.

The ability to see my sweet baby boy’s eyelashes. Their length. Their fullness. His sweet skin.

The intentionality and placement of each relational encounter or experience. It’s purposeful and whether I am flailing or settling into the moments of now, His presence is unfolding before me. Seeing that He cares deeply seems to be striking me in new ways, especially since Angie’s death.

During Angie’s memorial service in the cities this past Friday I struggled through hearing the gospel presented during the service. Instead, of listening I found myself staring behind the pastor, at one of Angie’s two photos that rested on top of a table covered in a smooth black velvet cloth.

The room was overflowing with a mix of support for both her and my family, in fact it was standing room only in the back, but all I could see was her big brown eyes staring  back at me, full of life and excitement. I’m not sure what to make of all this. Her death. My pain. All the people. All the people’s words. Loss. Joy. Meaning.

What I do know is that her death has given me space and permission to see life in different ways.

What I also know is that I miss her, deeply.