Category Archives: Healing

Day 23: Self-Care (31 Days of Simple Truths)

31daysOfSimpleTruthsWe have to take care of ourselves. It has been such a long process for me to learn this. What is it for us, especially as women, that struggles so much with this concept? Why do we feel guilty? Why do we feel that we have to prove our toughness? (Ok, so that one is a loaded question with complex layers of answers.)

Equally hard has been learning that the way you need to take care of you may not be the same as the way I need to take care of me. There’s a significant amount of listening to ourselves—our own unique hearts and souls, the unique message the Spirit is  breathing into each one of us.

In many ways, I’ve gotten better about this, especially when, as a mother, I realized I would never be able to properly care for my kids if I wasn’t caring for me too. But sometimes, I still forget. I push too hard. I carry too much. And then I get knocked down hard.

I’m dealing with my second round of sickness within a month’s time, which is pretty unusual for me. I forgot to take care of me during the crazy, and now I’m paying for it with a struggling body and discouraged soul. But I’m thankful for the deluge of rain being dumped on our area this weekend. It is forcing me to slow down, to listen to what I need, to do something about it.

How can you take care of yourself this weekend?

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Day 6: Bridging Divides (31 Days of Simple Truths)

31daysOfSimpleTruthsI am deeply weary of polarizing conversations. To the point that I want to weep every time something controversial comes up. I already have an intense dislike for confrontation, but this? This is so much more.

I know some people who regularly hashtags their posts with things like #liberalsarestupid. I know others who regularly post things about all conservatives being greedy and indifferent to the poor or hating women. I want to shake someone and shout, “How is this helpful???”

If you see that there are some deep-rooted problems that negatively affect minorities woven into our system of policing, you must hate the cops.

If you state something showing gratitude for law enforcement, you’re racist and ignorant.

If you observe that yes, Israel has a significance on the world stage and in spiritual matters, but maybe that doesn’t give them a blank check to do whatever they want, you’re anti-Semitic, anti-American, and quite possibly, not Christian anymore.

If you support the right to bear arms but think maybe there should be some additional safety measures in place because the world is a messed up place, you’re ignorant, anti-Consitution, and anti-American, and want all the criminals to be able to run roughshod all over you.

If you think that in spite of whatever Planned Parenthood’s claims to the common good are, their roots are horrendous and there’s some shady business going, you hate women and want all the poor, minority women to suffer the most.

On and on. It goes on and on and on. I’d like to add a disclaimer that my examples above are extreme, but they’re not. These are conversations and interactions I observe every single day, and it breaks my heart. We think the worst and say the worst, and meanwhile, there are gaping wounds that need to be healed.

Maybe this isn’t a simple truth. Maybe it’s complicated, or maybe it’s become complicated, even though it shouldn’t be.

However extreme or different our views may be, we all have a vested interest in the well-being of our nation, of the world, of individuals, of families. Nothing will get better by calling names, by assuming that anyone who thinks differently than you is stupid or ignorant or hateful. That kind of language might get article hits and social media shares, but it doesn’t bring healing or redemption or hope or solutions.

The simple, not-so-simple truth? Change starts when we are willing to truly listen, not to tear down each other’s arguments or form our own defenses, but to hear what matters to someone else’s heart and find the common ground we need to stand on and move forward. Change starts when we are willing to challenge our own views and deeply held convictions, while seeking to understand why someone else’s conviction is different than our own.

Unsplash/Nick Scheerbart

Unsplash/Nick Scheerbart

We can all stand there stubbornly holding our ground and shouting insults, or we can close our mouths, open our ears and our hands, and start building bridges.

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Filed under 31 Days of Simple Truths, Change, Healing, Justice

Permission to Disappoint

Winding Lane by Jennifer Upton

Winding Lane by Jennifer Upton

I don’t remember the first person I disappointed. Most likely it was my parents or a teacher. I don’t recall a distinct memory.

What I do recall is many other memories later in my life – agonizing over a decision for days, even months, because I couldn’t simply weigh the pros and cons and be done with it. I was also weighing who might be disappointed and how I might fix it. I recall crying on bathroom floors because someone unleashed their feelings of disappointment or because someone never said a word but I saw the shadow come into their eyes. I remember trying so hard to convince someone I had made the right decision, but still walking away with the sting of their disapproval.

However it happened, whenever it happened, a message entered my heart at a young age: do not disappoint anyone who matters to you.

This is intense pressure to live with.

Ironically I have sat with students and friends who sought my counsel, listened as they shared their list of people they feared would be disappointed. I have looked into their eyes and said, “You have to know what God is saying to you and what your heart is saying to you, and be content with that. You can’t please everyone all of the time.” I knew it. I wholeheartedly believe it. I just struggle to actually do it.

My husband and I recently had to make a decision in the best interest of our family, and it was a hard one, made harder by the people it would inevitably disappoint. Their disappointment was not pretty.  But finally I am learning.

I give myself permission to disappoint.

When people care deeply about us, they will often have strong opinions about what’s best for us. Sometimes, even if they don’t care all that deeply, they will still have strong opinions about what’s best for us. The significance of the place they have in our lives can add even more to the strength of these opinions. And while I believe there is wisdom in seeking out counsel and advice, in the end, decisions are made between us and God. This has to be enough.

And interestingly, even when He has brought correction or discipline to my heart, the words “I am disappointed with you” have not once been whispered from His Spirit to mine.

People will not understand every step of our journey. It is simply not their place to understand it all or give approval to it all. And this is ok.

I take a deep breath and surrender this fear, give myself permission to move forward without the weight of the world’s disappointments.

(Today I am linking up with Marvia at The Human Impulse for Real Talk Tuesday. The theme is “I Give Myself Permission.”)

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Filed under Healing, Perfectionism

Beauty Restores

It is a wearying day.

The struggle to find a rhythm in the new season.

Sick daughter.

Rambunctious determined son.

The relentless laundry pile & meals to be made & dishes to be cleaned & dogs to be let out & work needing to be done so bills can be paid.

***

I can feel it – the cloud of Overwhelming coming to cast his shadow.  The webs of Anxiety and Stress ready to spin their traps.  I step outside to water the tomato plants – one more “to do” – and the Beauty of the day calls to me like a long-lost friend.  I know in a moment how to reclaim this day from Heaviness.

Image Source; FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image Source; FreeDigitalPhotos.net

***

The sick one moves slower than usual, sits for a rest more often.  But she inhales the breeze and soaks in the sun, and her smile comes.  She is healing as I watch.

The rambunctious one runs, wild and free.  The wind carries him – he is faster, stronger.  He chases stray dogs & searches for treasure rocks & sifts dirt through his hands.  He is coming alive as I watch.

And I – the weary one – I sit with words under the soothing cloudless sky.  I drink them in, I pour them out.  I rest for a moment from the doing and focus on just being.  I am refreshed as I pause, see, savor.

Today these are our green pastures and still waters.  Under the pure, undefiled blue, gently whispered to by Nature’s breath, basking in golden light – He restores our souls.

 

 

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Filed under Beauty, Healing, Parenting, Rest

Struggling with Rest

My body decided it had had enough today.

I felt it coming on throughout the evening last night.  The ache slowly seeping into my limbs.  The swelling beginning in my throat.  The last bits of energy oozing out of me.

And today I have been barely able to move.  I mostly laid on the sofa, alternately attempting to work and taking short naps.  And confession: I let my children watch at least a week’s worth of television in one day (um, thanks, PBSKids).

I felt so guilty.

Never mind that I have been going like a whirlwind non-stop since at least June.  Never mind that we just went through some pretty significant life transitions coupled with one of the most spiritually intense seasons I’ve ever experienced.  Never mind that I chase a 4 year old and a 2 year old from sun up to sun down every day.  Never mind that my husband’s job has him working insane hours that leave me feeling like a single mom at least 90% of the time.

How dare my body give out on me!  How dare it decide to rest.  And the question nailed me all over again: why do I feel guilty when I need rest?  Why does it seem wrong to take care of myself?  What lie have I believed that causes me to only pay attention to the needs of my body and heart once they’ve been pushed to the brink?

I mean, even in writing this post, my initial primary motivation was to at least be able to say I’d accomplished something useful today.  As if rest isn’t useful.

But I also felt compelled to push forward with these thoughts because I know I am not the only person who struggles with this.  And no matter the significant strides I have made in this area, it continues to be a struggle.  I have to fight tooth and nail for Sabbath, for rest.

But I do fight and will continue to do so.  And I would urge you to do the same.  Because it’s necessary and life-giving.  And if it became a habit, a pattern, we could most likely avoid being knocked out of the picture for big chunks of time.  Besides, your heart is most beautiful, most inspiring, most strength-giving when it is at rest.  And your physical body certainly functions better.

So while it may be hard for you and I to believe sometimes, let’s keep telling ourselves until we’re convinced: we are worth it.  We are worth the time and effort it takes to refresh our hearts and bodies.

And now I shall go back to laying on the sofa doing nothing.

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Healing the Race Wounds

Not too long ago, I was sharing with someone about the church my husband and I were at for 16 years before we moved.  It wasn’t perfect because there is no such thing as the perfect church, but there were some significant areas where this church got it very, very right.

The one I perhaps miss the most is that it was a dazzling kaleidoscope of color, so racially diverse.  And I’m not talking about a church that’s like 80% white with a few token black and Hispanic families thrown in so they can pat themselves on the back about being multiracial.  Not even close.  This was the real deal – a congregation with a strong African-American presence, a strong Hispanic presence, a strong Caucasian presence, plus a smattering of all kinds of other backgrounds and nationalities along the way.

I remember once hearing our pastor there mention how other pastor friends had commented on this characteristic and wondered how on earth we made it work.  And I remember thinking, “Why on earth would it not work?”

The context of this conversation was set against the deep racial wounds being exposed by the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman trial.  Truthfully, the depth of it all surprised me.  Not because I’m so naive as to think racism no longer exists in this country, but because I forget what a unique thing it is to grow up in an environment where racial differences were secondary to shared faith and purpose, where friendships were forged by what we had in common.  And when challenges did arise, they were navigated in the context of covenant relationships – we were committed to each other no matter what.

I have been blessed with friendships where we could frankly, lovingly and respectfully discuss issues of race – challenge each other or repent to each other when necessary.  We were able to say to each other, “Help me understand.”  We could face the hard things and walk away, not divided, but further unified.

I’ve had parents say to me, “Would it have been easier to go to an all [insert ethnicity or color] church?  Maybe, but I don’t want my kids growing up that way.  They would miss out on so much.”  So they made a deliberate choice to enlarge their boundaries.

This is the world I grew up in.  So yes, I forget that it’s not normal.  I said as much and the response I got was basically, “Yeah, you really need to get in touch with the rest of the world.”  And for a moment, I felt shamed and guilty, like I had done something wrong.

But the more I thought about it, I’ve concluded perhaps it would be more effective if the rest of the world got in touch with the reality I experienced.  We can stand in our monochromatic corners all day and shout, “Racism!” from afar at each other, but in the end, we will accomplish nothing.  There is no law, no trial verdict that can fix this.

The only way barriers come down is when we refuse to be contained by them.  If we actually want to mend this wound, we have to stop coming at each other insisting on being understood and instead lean in towards each other with a desire and willingness to understand.  And we absolutely must leave our all-(choose-your-color) corners of the universe and do life alongside each other.

And yes, I get that this is easier said than done.  It does get bumpy and difficult sometimes.  But it’s worth the effort and the messiness.  We have to stop imparting to our children the messages that “they’re just too different from us” or “they’re out to get us” or “they’ll never understand us” if we ever expect to make progress.  Instead the message needs to be, “There are people who are different from you, and that may be hard sometimes, but you will be wiser and better and richer if you will soak in everything they can teach and show you about the world.”

I’m crazy enough to believe this is possible.  Because I’ve lived it.  One person, one choice at a time, we can see this wound healed.

 

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Filed under Church, Faith, Healing, Pain

Giving Voice to the Pain

It came out of nowhere.

One moment I was happily working in the kitchen.  The next, I could hardly breathe, my heart doubled over with an old wound ripped wide open.

Not so long ago, I would have panicked, metaphorically rushed to stop the bleeding with a pathetic gauze of scolding myself and telling myself to just get over it already.  But not this time.  I am learning the purpose of these moments.

A song was playing –  the cause of my emergency surgery.  The words crept from background noise, demanding to be heard and tasted.  All I could think was, “Where was this song all those years ago?”

I don’t know, but it was here today and it gave voice to everything I had been too paralyzed and stunned to say.  It was excruciating to look back on that season and say, “Yes, that’s how I felt.  That’s what happened.”

But then the song ended and a miracle happened.  My heart was more whole than it had been five minute before.  All because the pain found its voice and said what needed to be said.

I think sometimes we are afraid to admit the healing of our hearts is a process.  Sometimes a very long process.  It’s like we’re afraid of making God look bad, afraid to say “I’m mostly healed, but maybe not all the way healed yet.”  And we’re afraid of the reactions of others, the inevitable “shouldn’t you be over this already?”

Can I say to your bleeding heart, your scarred heart, your heart in rehab – it is ok that it still stings sometimes.  It is ok that certain places are sore when they are used or touched again.  It’s ok.

Rarely does an emotional pain only happen once.  Usually there are moments upon moments, associated with certain days and colors and sounds and smells and sights.  Rarely does an emotional pain only touch one spot or one layer of your heart.

Our hearts are complex and deep.  Just as the pain seeped into layers, so the healing will come in layers.  And we don’t need to fear this.  There is a difference between processing a pain and wallowing in it.  There is a difference in acknowledging a pain with all its side effects and holding on to it.

And when it comes to making God look bad, let me tell you, when it comes to the healing of your heart, He is not concerned how He looks to anyone else but you.  Every human relationship represents an aspect of God’s heart and when those relationships become less than holy, leaving their scars, our perspective of Him is marred.  Part of our healing comes when we can see Him clearly again.  And He will walk with you as long as it takes to uproot the lies and restore His truth.

So let me encourage you – don’t shrink back from the pain.  Even if it is an old one.  Truly one day, that wound will be closed once and for all, but until then, lean into the process.  He loves you far too much to leave a single detail behind.  And when you are whole, you will be perfectly, gloriously whole.

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