Thursday, August 28, 2008

oh, if only it were enough...

oh, if only it were enough to see myself through your eyes. i wish i could land on the security that you think i'm great. i long to be confident in the things you tell me are true and believe only that. i would like to see me the way you do. because while i know you witness my faults, you never exploit them. and even though i know you realize my imperfections, you look past them and into me. you see my heart, you know my intentions, and you believe the best in me. oh, if only that were enough to convince my heart to rest.

instead, i focus on the negative words, attitudes and actions from those who don't know me, or understand my intentions or even believe there is a 'best' in me. i agree with them when they make me feel worthless. i trust their opinion that i'm in the wrong. i dwell on their belief that i'm unimportant and what i say doesn't matter.

and so what if i don't them? why does it hurt so much when they don't care? why do i let their judging stares burrow holes through me? why do i go over and over the comments, shrugs, and cold shoulders like someone combing hair for lice? i don't review the conversations in my head so that i can rid myself of them. i review the conversations looking for a place where i could change what i said or what i did in order to change their view of me. and for what? why do i want their acceptance, anyway?

oh, if only i didn't care! i wish i could pull my heart out and give it a good spanking. i want to tell it to stop! stop yearning for what doesn't matter. stop it! rest, fastly beating heart. slow, quickening pulse. mush into the knowledge that you have a friend who does know you, and believes the best in you, and loves you. because if she didn't, how could she have a 5 hour long phone conversation with you in the middle of the night and hang up ready to do it all over again the next day. and that is enough. it is.


Monday, August 25, 2008

Summer ends...but peace remains

Our brief summer break has come to an end. It only lasted for a little over two weeks once Brian completed summer school and I finished my summer courses. We were able to stop in Portland for a night to visit Sara Houy. Brian and I both really enjoyed the little we were able to see of Portland and hope to go back a few more times before we’re done with this Northwest adventure, considering Portland is only about 3 hours from us.

I have a list of blog topics piling up in my journal, but it’s taken more than a handful of days to get back into the rhythm and structure of our life here. Brian is now back at school attending teacher training and seminars while I’m trying to ease the girls back into our normal routine. We all officially start school the day after Labor Day (including Krisalyn). Though I don’t feel like my mind has had enough of a break from the intense reading load and introspection demanded by my grad school studies, I’m relieved to be getting back into what has become normal life for us as a family.

Despite the fact that rest and relaxation seemed to evade us on our recent California vacation, I was somehow still able to pause and reflect on a few things that occurred to me during those brief moments of living with presence. There was some sense of peace that permeated throughout this entire family gathering. This may not seem that out of the ordinary for others whose sense of belonging is rooted in their family. For most of my life, however, I have been painfully aware of strained relationships and ruptures in connection. Something felt different on this trip. I don’t think it’s something I can really put my finger on…but as I was contemplating this surprising new presence of peace, somewhere out of the deep crevices of my mind came a memory of an excerpt from my favorite Henri Nouwen book, The Inner Voice of Love:

There is a deep hole in your being, like an abyss. You will never succeed in filling that hole, because your needs are inexhaustible. You have to work around it so that gradually the abyss closes. Since the hole is so enormous and your anguish so deep, you will always be tempted to flee from it. There are two extremes to avoid: being completely absorbed in your pain and being distracted by so many things that you stay far away from the wound you want to heal.

This little excerpt has been significant in many ways in my life. I was introduced to Henri Nouwen on my first youth trip. It was spring break and I had only been a self-proclaimed Christian for just under a month and had just made the decision to give up my position as Captain of the varsity cheer squad and to home school my senior year in high school. Instead of helping run cheer tryouts for the incoming students, I wound up in this tiny house with about 50 other kids (whom I hardly knew) in an unheard of town in Southern Colorado called La Veta.

I fell in love with La Veta the second we pulled up to the property and I realized you couldn’t see another house no matter which direction you turned. Aside from the beginnings of life in community with those who would eventually become incredible friends, my introduction to Nouwen was one of my greatest memories of La Veta. Dave had picked up this little green book just prior to the trip. He must have seen that I was hesitant to fully engage with this new group of friends and so he handed me the book and instructed me to read the first excerpt. Up until that point I had been enmeshed in reading the bible, soaking it up like a sponge and trying desperately to make sense of what had been happening in my life. With little understanding of things like prayer, fasting or mediation, the bible was my sole form of connection to God. Reading Nouwen was different, though no less powerful. It was through reading these few sentences that I discovered the ways in which we experience God through one another. As I read Nouwen’s words, I felt as though he must have known my life story because what he said reverberated against my heart in such a way that I was unable to speak for several minutes. My voice was lost somewhere in my throat and camped out there creating the largest lump imaginable.

Now, just over 12 years later, I realize that Nouwen’s writings still speak straight into my heart and soul. My high school years consisted of being nearly swallowed up entirely by the dark abyss of pain and agony. My young adult years swayed toward the opposite approach – never entering into the abyss, but rather living a life of religious and spiritual distraction so as never to face the void that I always knew still existed. But in the recent years I have been circling the abyss and though the journey has proven to be rather difficult, something is changing. The wound is no longer oozing blood. The pain isn’t quite as pervasive. It has become a quieter pain. A pain that, though it still remains and probably always will, it now serves as a reminder of what God has done for me. A pain that gives way to beauty…and peace. That is what I experienced with my family this summer – a peace amidst the pain…a peace that surpasses all understanding.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

if a tree falls in the forest...

...and no one is there to hear it, does it still make a sound?

of course it does, but i haven't always known that.

during my counseling appointment last week, shari showed me, "just because you didn't acknowledge the sorrow that has been present in your life, doesn't mean it never existed." i was believing the tree made no sound.

i have believed for far too long that life's experiences only exist when others are there to see it, or hear about it, or feel it, or experience it with me. and while we do not live in a vacuum, i have placed too much emphasis on others reception and acknowledgement of my living, that i've missed experiencing the depths of my life when others have not seen or heard, or been there with me.

so, this week, i went to the depths. with the gentle, yet persistent encouragement from shari, i've worked hard to be present this week - and oh! the emotions that flowed. i've gone back into history, deep in my past to visit the sorrow of many events for the very first time. since no one knew my sorrow during those times, or in other words, no one was there to hear the tree fall, i assumed the sorrow didn't exist. but of course it existed - and as i found out for the first time, still existed, unmourned - until now.

this week, i let myself experience the rejection of going my entire high school years without a boyfriend. i let the pain of being dumped for both homecoming and prom my junior year wash over me. and i grieved the loss of losing my best friend to the one who dumped me. i waded in what it feels like to be unchosen, not picked, and looked over. and i wept for that young girl who still had hope to believe that some day, she would be the one chosen.

i also mourned the loss of being able to enjoy my daughter's first year of life because i was drowning in postpartum depression. i stood in the current, or rather the torrent of tears shed for the connections i missed and the impression i left on my tiny, helpless baby. and i turned over, carefully, like someone searching for crayfish, the stones of why i felt the shame that i did.

and so, if anyone was present to bear these griefs with me at the time they occurred, it only would have confirmed what was already there - a loud sorrow. but, just because someone wasn't there - or i didn't let anyone in, doesn't mean that the pain didn't exist. and that's what i'm learning.

so, if a tree falls in the forest, it does makes a sound, whether or not anyone is close enough to hear it.


Monday, August 11, 2008

Love: The Universal Language

I just finished reading Jane Eyre last night and I'm still discovering the lessons uncovered deep in my being. I'm in awe the ways in which I am able to relate to a character given birth in the mind of Charlotte Bronte over 150 years ago. Her strength and independence complimented by her unfathomable ability to love without ceasing, to live and breathe desire without sacrificing dignity and divine duty have marked me in a way that few books have. The numerous experiences of abuse in her life clearly contribute to the formation of her spirit, but she is somehow never broken by them, or deterred from living with hope. Through her life she reveals that obedience and duty to God can never be detached from desire and love. Obedience and duty without love can kill the soul and desire unrestrained by obedience and duty can kill love - the very aim of the desire to begin with. It is in this tension of desire and obedience that we must all find our way in this life.


Thursday, August 7, 2008

loneliness is not about being alone...

...but it is about being sad. while i think that loneliness and sadness go together - i don't think the same is true for just being alone. i can handle being alone - probably because i never am. i have four little feet that follow me into my room when i'm changing, into the bathroom when i'm on the toilet, outside to get the newspaper, in the kitchen while i'm making lunch, out back to pick up some trash, into the garage when i just need to get something out of the car, and right this moment while i'm typing. and when little feet aren't that close behind, voices calling my name are. so, i look forward to, and find myself craving time alone. i can handle being alone.

where i find sadness is when i'm not alone, but lonely. i can be surrounded by my children all day long, go to public places where lots of people roam, and still feel lonely. so, while i don't know the dictionary definition for lonely, i define it as a sad feeling that sticks to my mind and my heart and my movements, like soap scum on a windshield. it's when i feel disconnected from another, or all other human beings, without anyone to share me with.

and this isn't a new concept for me, either. i remember, in college, i put many miles on my car. i drove downtown for school, highlands ranch for work, littleton for church, and denver for home...i was always in the car, by myself. but it wasn't being alone that was so hard. it was that i had spent an entire day going and doing, and never sharing. i remember thinking to myself once, while driving one day, does life really happen if you don't have anyone to share it with? sort of like, if a tree falls in the forest...and if the answer is no - life doesn't really happen if you don't have anyone to share it with, then that is where the deep sadness comes in.

i'm sure i'm just like mother's everywhere. i stay at home, all day, just me and my two kids. sure, occasionally we get out for play dates and zoo trips, but for the most part, we're doing this thing called 'daily life' all by one to share our thoughts and feelings, our mishaps and happenings, our dreams and desires with...and that is sad.

so, mothers everywhere, if you're sad because today, your toddler fell down and hit the coffee table and now has a black eye, or you're stir crazy because it's 50 degrees outside and you've been couped up all day in the house, or you just didn't feel like getting out of bed today to do it all over again by yourself, or you checked your email over and over again hoping for some good news, or checked for some distracting information to take your mind off of the mundane, or updated your facebook five times just to feel like you were sharing yourself with me. because that's what i've done today, and i still feel lonely. call me to share you with me, and me with you. we're all in this together, yes? so, let's not all feel sad at the same time.


Saturday, August 2, 2008

Rest Stop

I can't believe our last published post was almost 2 weeks ago. I've been back from my weekend rendezvous in Colorado for more than 5 days now and I'm still processing all the places my mind traveled during the get-away and upon my return. I had booked my airfare for the weekend at least two months prior to take-off and I remember thinking as I clicked "book ticket now" that this weekend would essentially be the kick-off to my summer break. While the summer season does start a bit later in the year up here in the great northwest, this kick-off was most closely associated with the conclusion of my first year of grad school (which actually won't technically be completed until I turn in my last paper this Wednesday). This break has finally arrived, a much needed break I should add, and yet I find myself in a state of confusion- not knowing what to do with myself when I have this much time on my hands.

I certain that this month will fly by and I'll wonder how the heck I ever wasted so much precious time, but right now I'm trying to figure out how to truly rest while I have the chance. What does it look like to rest the mind, to rest the heart and rest the soul. I have a list of at least four books that I want to read (books that aren't on a required or recommended list for my courses), but is that what it means to rest? I'm not sure, because I've never really been good at resting. Lauren McCleary posted a comment on my facebook wall describing my time off as a "thinking sabbatical." It's funny, because I have thought about this time as a sabbatical...and yet my stomach gets all twisted into knots even as I say that odd word. At the beginning of my school year here Dan Allender spoke about his year-long sabbatical (which actually only ended up being about 6 months) and he said that taking a sabbatical was a horrible idea considering he had never consistently maintained a Sabbath. I wondered at the time what he could have possibly meant by this comment, and now I think I'm learning the answer through my own experience.

Rest seems to require the ability to be present to yourself. This concept of presence has haunted me for quite some time now. It's so abstract, and yet there is a weightiness to the concept which reassures me of it's validity. What does it mean to be present to yourself? At this stage I'm learning that it has something to do with being comfortable in your own skin. It is about being aware of where you are, why you are and who you are. These three questions have been whispering to me rather sneakily over the past few days. Where am I? Am I Federal Way, Washington? Or am I anticipating where I think I'll go from here. Am I my poorly treated body that's birthed three children? Or am I remembering what it was like to be in shape and stronger. Am I this moment? Or am I a stranger to the here and now. Why am I? Do I believe that I simply am for Him...or do I suffer from a daily dose of dementia forgetting that I was created for a purpose I can't quite see, feel or touch right now? Who am I? It seems that when I am able to actually BE where I am and trust that there is a WHY to my own existence...then I'll know WHO I am.

I have more to say about my recent discoveries, but this is enough for now. It is time to be still once again.