Wednesday, September 20, 2017

A Glimpse of a Moment

My heart song is poetry I think. Its lame, I know. But when I am truly deep within an emotion, I pick up my phone or my pen to express it and it always comes out in poetry. So I roll with it.

Grief and loss, betrayal- it all requires a lot of different emotions as we process. Things felt in one moment may be the opposite of things felt in the next. It is all important and always valid. So here is a little poetry from the other night when I could not sleep and I could not see the beauty in the pain. Here is a glimpse into what my heart sometimes feels when I breathe in the solitude and I hate every part of this stupid rebuilding (my life, my trust, my self) process.

**If poetry makes you cringe and think of high school english class, don't be intimidated or skip over this one. Poetry is just a paragraph with weird spacing and capital letters. I believe in you.**

Shattered
Shaky
Bordering on the line between
I'm ok
and I can't do this today.
My skin is but a thin layer
just barely protecting the inner
brokenness.
I am not on solid ground
I play pretend
that I am strong and worthy
fine and getting better
But the truth is
my pieces are not put back
together
yet.

There is a mighty work happening
within me
but it takes time.
Like a masterpiece in marble,
it takes time.
I am fragile with my inner
scaffolding made seemingly of
toothpicks and tape
threatening
to collapse with
the slightest shake.
Be patient with me
my eyes whisper
I am a masterpiece
but I am a work
in
progress.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

I Will Overcome

My soul needs the mountains to breathe.

The mountains are where I can think clearly, where I can put one foot in front of the other and grow stronger emotionally, mentally, and physically. They are where God speaks to me and where I find the space to hear Him, where I can sit by a rushing stream with my brother and we can listen to our surroundings and be at peace.

So this past weekend I went backpacking with my brother in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It is a fact that a weekend in the fresh air, by mountain streams and without access to phone service, is more healing to me in this season than most anything.





I will admit that I went into the weekend angry. I was/am so angry at my husband for what he has done to me, for the ways he has betrayed me. I started hiking and I couldn't shake the bad thoughts. My therapist says it would be less normal if I wasn't angry, so I gave myself permission to be mad.

But as I continued up the mountain I reminded myself of another thing that my new therapist told me- that for six months I have to focus on only taking care of myself. With this in mind I began to remind myself of why I am worthy, of the beauty that surrounded me, and that this trip, this hike, was for me. Only for me. I wasn't proving myself to anybody except myself.

You see, so many times I have heard "you can't."

"You can't lift that." 
"You can't climb that." 
"You can't go that far with that much weight on your back." 

The lie that pierces my thoughts is this: you. are. weak. 

So I said "to hell with that!" this weekend and I carried a heavy pack filled with everything I needed for two days in the backcountry for 12.6 miles, including a steep incline with 3,000 feet elevation gain. It was steep, it was long, and starting on mile 3 I was blessed with some gnarly blisters on my heels, but I did it. I didn't complain, I didn't quit, I didn't get discouraged. I put one foot in front of the other, feeling my strength pulsating through my veins- the strength that God gave me and that no person can take from me.


As my brother and I summited an awesome piece of the Appalachian Trail called Charlie's Bunion I crawled over the steep rocks to sit and admire the beauty of God's creation and to breathe in the accomplishment. I had proved myself worthy. I had not only survived the backcountry, I had thrived. I may have been slower than most, but I had accomplished something and proved that I was capable of difficult things. 

Mountains have been essential to my life these past four years because they are a needed metaphor for my hardships. They prove that when things get hard I can press forward, summit the mountain, and make it back down to flat ground. When everything seems to be a mess I hike mountains to prove to myself that I can overcome.


This season of my life has been the hardest of anything I have ever gone through but this mountain of pain I will summit and I will one day walk back down to flat ground- battered and bruised, but stronger in every way. 

Monday, September 11, 2017

The Optimistic Shadow

Have you ever had those days where you just don't feel ok?

Sometimes weeks pass. Weeks pass and nothing seems to get better.

But the last shred of optimism clings to you like a shadow. Eventually there must be a corner. There must be a step that leads to a new horizon. Surely peace is just a few steps away from the pain. This idea gives you the kind of hope that makes you feel like you can breathe again. Surely a new horizon will cause the bad feelings to peel away as a snake sheds its skin and make you new.

Surely, the optimistic shadow whispers with a push, you must keep walking to the corner. 

So you walk. And you walk. And you walk.
But that corner never seems to come.

There are other corners turned but they all seem to lead back to the same place and the shadow of despair looms large. People join your walk for a little while, but they don't understand what moves your feet, they don't know for what you search. Eventually they go off on walks of their own and you understand that. Why would people walk with someone whose feet are moving without a spoken purpose?

Eventually the walk gets weary. Feet tire, shoulders slump, the sky begins to darken, but you keep moving forward. Optimism is now just a quiet whisper, a remnant of a memory, but you cling to it because it is what you have left. It is the last flickering light in a world of shadows. For without this light, what is there but an overwhelming darkness?

Suddenly you realize that your light is shining brighter, though you cannot figure out why. You have not changed nor grown more hopeful, but the light is piercing. It is illuminating your tired feet. The corner still does not come but you look up to realize that there is Hope, standing next to you. He gives no answers and He does not provide a map, but the look on His face tells you that the journey will be worth it. He speaks not, but a peace begins to flow over your desert soul.

Who knows when the horizon will show up, but with this Hope your feet have gained strength, and though your heart is still sad, you move forward with your eyes focused on His.

And that is enough to keep you on your feet. 

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Having Nothing to Do is a Very Hard Thing to Do

I'm tired.

I am tired of this season, of feeling down, of waiting for something good to happen or for the next chapter to begin. I am tired of wondering and questioning, of not sleeping enough and sleeping too much. I am tired of not knowing what I am supposed to be doing and I am tired, mainly, of being still.

When I was in Arizona I had it all- a house, a husband, 2 dogs, a job, teenagers to care for, and mountains to hike. I had purpose. I had people to take care of, to feed, to clothe. In fact, for the last four years in Arizona my whole life has been about pouring into others. I was caring for teenagers, friends, my husband, and yes, even my dogs.

And then all of a sudden, I have none of that. Not even one little ounce of it. All gone. All stripped violently from my arms in a story that is too long to tell you right now and too fresh for even me to fully understand. I went from having everything to having nothing. I had a life and now I have a blank space before me that I am not sure how to fill.

And man, that can really get to me. I can get so frustrated because it has been months and nothing has been restored. Nothing has gotten "better" or been "fixed" and I am so tired of having nothing to do. I am so tired of not having my own home or job or purpose.

But then I sit at a pizza restaurant with a new friend and I hear myself saying these words before I even realize what I have said. . . I think I needed this. Wash my mouth out with soap I cannot believe I am going to even write it down. I think I needed this. 

I go and go and go. I take care of people and I pour myself out and I love that. There is nothing wrong with that. But I think that God is working something in me and for me and to do that He needs me to just. . . stop. To have literally nothing to do but be.

Its like when someone is sick and they need rest to heal. My soul needs rest to heal and as much as I hate it I feel God saying, I am working on something big. You simply must wait. 

I know that this season has its treasures. I know that many people never will have the flexibility to travel and see friends, to meet for coffee in the middle of the day, or to say the words, "call whenever, I am always free!" I don't take that for granted. I thank God for this season even though it is hard and even though I am praying for the right job or the right move. I know that I have so much to be grateful for.

And I know that even though it is killing me to not have purpose right now, God is in this too. I have to believe that I am not wasting time, but that I am waiting as God works something for me. I fight it every day, I do, but there is purpose in the quiet.

My God will fight for me. . . I must only be still. And that my friends, is a very hard thing for me to do. 

Monday, August 21, 2017

The Ebb and Flow of Grief

August 7th: 12:21am

If there was an ocean out my back door I would walk right into it and let myself sink. The weight of this sadness would lead me straight to the depths and it would make no difference. For I am already there, in the depths of the darkness, in the pit of death surrounded only by the bones of those gone before me. I cannot feel the light within me. My arms are weak, my legs unstable. Piece by piece I shut down until what is left is just the shell of me. Consumed by fire I am just ash and dust. Yet I still have to walk, and breathe, and pretend that I am truly alive. But life is no longer in me. Nor hope or joy. I am but dry bones and I am forgotten. 

There have been a lot of days in this process when my journal has looked like the entry above. Strength in hard times is a many faceted thing and sometimes, it just isn't there. A lot of people have told me to feel whatever I feel in the moment, to let myself process. For me this means writing it down. I have always processed through writing, but I also want to remember the ebb and flow of this process of grief.

As it happens, in strong days we forget how our grief ever consumed us. On hard days we forget that we have ever felt strong. In seasons of loss, sadness, or hardship we simply have to be ok with experiencing both. 

The strong days are the ones in which God gives me rest. They come when I need them most. Just when I think I am about to go under, when I have decided that I have no strength left and I just want to be left to die, God wakes me up with a day of strength.

Strong day journal entries sound more like this:

August 9th

It has been a dark battle against despair these last few days. Yesterday I felt defeated. My enemies had won, satan's lies were overwhelming, and I had nothing left. I had no fight within me. It felt like the darkest and most lonely ending. 

And then I went to sleep and God gave me joyful dreams. I don't remember what they were, but they made me smile. And I woke up to strength. 

I have rested my head against Aslan all day. This is a battle and it will continue, but for today there is a rest in the fighting. I have prayed for God's guidance, I have prayed for His help, and I have felt rest. The turmoil in me has been great these last few days. Sleepless nights, many many tears. But God has given me a chance to gear up. 

The battle against the evil one is not over. It will rage on. But just when I feel defeated, He gives me rest. He provides a chance to build up my arsenal and my weapons once again. 

He is good. He is so very good to me. He protects me. He lets me be challenged but when He sees me fall He says enough is enough. You will leave her alone for today. She will rest in hope and in My provision and love. You will not touch her. 

Sometimes I think hope is futile but it is not. Hope is not futile, it is not foolishness. It is what pushes us forward. It is the sword with which we fight. And I know that God's armies are fighting with me. I know that He will be victorious, even if that victory looks different than what I had in mind. 

Oh to rest against Him today. Oh to feel strong for just this moment. There will be hard days to come but He will again provide rest when I need it most. He always protects me, even if I still have to fight. And we do have to fight. God does not take us out of the battle. I don't know why. But I do know that even though we teeter on the edge of destruction, He does not let us fall. 

_______

My dear reader, whatever you are going through, have grace for yourself in the depths of the ocean as well as in the shelter of our Savior. Know that He will not let you perish. Though you may feel a shell of your former self, He will not let you crumble. He will build you back up, slowly and piece by piece. He will not keep you from the fight, from the wounds, but when it becomes too much He will roar like a lion and for a moment you will be sheltered.

Believe that the good will come and be ready for the days that seem to bring you back down.

You will survive. This battle will not last forever.

Be strengthened.
Have patience with the ebb and flow of grief.

You are not alone. And there is so much grace.

Monday, August 7, 2017

To Share our Pain

I think that it is a stupid symptom of our society that we think we need to hide our pain from each other. We think that no one else wants to hear it or perhaps that they will not love us anymore if we show them. We think that their life is probably perfect.

That's ridiculous. 

God's love is shown in mighty ways when we trust each other with our pain. There is so much healing in vulnerability.

But it is not an easy task.

My confidence has been shaken. I apologize for everything. Anything that maybe I possibly did wrong at one point in time, I now apologize for. Because I feel bad. And I worry that I have done wrong by people that I love. Its a twisted symptom of the situation. I have lost my confidence. It is temporary but it is difficult.

Temporary. 

I think of my life as a tapestry. It is made up of threads. "Time heals," they say. I believe that, but only because I believe that with time, more threads will be added to my story. What has happened in these last few months will always be a piece of me, but it is not the whole picture. Though it is painful, it can be woven together with the other threads of my life into something beautiful.

Imagine that. Pain becoming a part of something beautiful.

I like the sound of that.

My wise and wonderful friend just reminded me not to focus on the "better" but focus on the now. God is not waiting for me to be better. God is here now, in the middle of the pain. And my job is not to just get through each day hoping one morning I will wake up and feel fine. My job is to feel what I am feeling and seek God in that. For He is present and He is loving and He is totally ok with whatever I throw at Him. He is weaving my story and I can trust Him in the process.

Isn't that lovely? I like that it takes off the pressure of healing.

I know that one day things will get better. But I also know that this will be a long road.

So I will have grace for myself in the process.

And I will not hide my pain. 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

My Current Thoughts on Hard Times

Here is the thing about pain: It's shitty.

There is no going about it and making it seem ok. It isn't. Pain and hurt and fear are unfortunately real parts of this world and they are hard to escape. I'm not pleased about my hard times right now, I am not "making the best of things" and I am processing daily what has happened. But here is what I know so far:

I get it. To the person who has cuts on their arms, I get it. To the person who thinks the only way out of the pain is death, I hear you. To the person who cannot get out of bed because it is too painful to face the day, I understand. When grief produces nausea so intense that you cannot eat for days even if you wanted to, I know what that is like. I feel you, I hear you, but there are so many reasons not to give up. For all of the bad there is so much good. For all of the sad moments, there are also beautiful ones. I may not have cuts or scars but I know how you feel.

Grief comes for all sorts of reasons and none of them are silly or unreasonable. Grief is weird, seriously, it is so weird. It makes no sense and it makes people do funny things. And as much as I hate this season I am in, I am grateful to understand pain. I am grateful to be able to pass on the knowledge I have and the comforts that have helped me because I know how it feels.

And goodness there is so much hope, guys. I'm in the midst of such a hard time, but I know that the pain (though it will always be a part of me) will not be like this forever. The key, I have found, is in finding your tribe. 

Whatever your sadness is, for whatever reason that your heart is breaking, you must find your tribe. I know losing someone important, even if you are just dating, can make you feel like you have been ripped in two. I know. And for some reason we want to retreat and not see anyone. But the only way to get through is to cling to those who love you.

And oh my, you are not alone. People will come out of the woodworks. Cling to the people that won't judge you when you send them texts that you don't think about first and that make you sound crazy. Cling to those who acknowledge your grief but also help you to find the steps forward. Breathe in the advice, the words, the notes of encouragement because that is who you are. You are not defined by what has happened to you. You are loved and cherished, even if someone has caused you sadness.

Cling to your tribe and you know what else? Believe what they say. Let them tell you the truths about yourself. Let them care for you, grieve with you, and see you at your worst. Your people are the ones who love you unconditionally. Let them hold you up.

Grief is the shittiest (not sure if that is a word but I like it). Pain sucks and I am so sorry that anyone else out there has felt loss or grief or just been stuck in hard times. It is not a good place to be. But I know that one day it will be ok again. I know that one day I will praise God for how He held my hand in the valley of the shadow of death. And I know that I will see His goodness in all of this.

There is hope and to anyone hurting, I hear you. 

*Thank you guys for being my tribe. I have felt so loved and it has made all the difference in this difficult season.