Wednesday, August 29, 2012


Sometimes I feel as if I could not survive one more betrayal,
one more rejection, one more abandonment. 
But, really, if I allow the pain of the past to keep me from loving in the future...
am I not dead already?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Searching for "me" in the midst of this rubble...

As time goes by, and I try to resume some semblance of a normal life after the turmoil of the past while, I am  realizing just how much is, stolen from us when we are betrayed, slandered, lied to and abandoned.   In relationships that are supposed to breed confidence, security and trust, with people that we are meant to feel safe with, we instead learn to doubt, to fear, to feel inadequate and insecure, and to shy away from the hope of ever being able to relax in our relationships again. 

My group of people that I trust is small.  Very small. I trust these friends absolutely, and know full well how privileged I am to have them.  Still, making new friends is terrifying.  Reaching out involves fear that leaves me exhausted and often ill.  The battle to control my thoughts, to fight back lies of insecurity and rejection, is constant and also exhausting.  In my mind, the part that is sane anyway, I know full well that my insecurity belongs to me and to no other.  There is nothing particularily scary about the people that God is putting in my life as potential friends.  People have been generally very nice and accepting.  This is my battle.  My fear. But man alive, is it a battle!

Ten years ago, if you were to ask me what I fear most, my answer would have been rejection.  Hands down.  The past ten years have been filled with rejection, not just of lovers, but of close friends, of a community that I had based my life upon.  I have seen that rejection, while soul crushingly painful, is not deadly.  But it still frightens me.  Maybe it's not number one anymore, but it's up there.  And that's a problem.  It sinks me, leaving me either curled up in a ball of weepy insecurity or tense, clench-jawed and frowning, determined to stop even trying.  After all, who needs this crap? 

Apparently, I do.

When I was pregnant with Grace, our home was broken into and robbed. Twice.  Once, early in the pregnancy and again at about seven months.  We lost my jewelry box, my wedding ring, our television and a few other things.  The most important thing that I almost lost was my sense of security in my own home.  Both break-ins happened when I was out, but we lived in the country, I was alone at home much of the time, our neighbours weren't close and I was soon to have a vulnerable newborn to take care of.  I knew that I was in danger of becoming fearful about being alone at home, especially when the baby came. 

When I prayed about it, God showed me that the key to not being overtaken by fear lay in love and forgiveness.  I needed to forgive the people who had broken in, who had violated my sense of safety and comfort in my own home.  At first, my forgiveness was simply a mental exercise.  As I prayed about forgiving them, though, I found myself beginning to pray for them.  And as I prayed for them, I began to care about them.  And as I began to care about them, my anxiety about being at home alone disappeared.  In fact, this process happened so quickly that the fear never even got a chance to blossom.  It died before it became an issue. 

I think maybe that principle applies here, too.  The key to not being overtaken by fear lies in love and forgiveness.  Let's be honest here.  There is a lot more to forgive now than the loss of a few trinkets and the thought of someone ruffling through my undie drawer.  And I know that I am not alone.  Many of us are carrying scars. Big ones. Red, lumpy, sensitive, aching scars.  We have memories of horrible events, searing words, hate-filled glares.  We have had gut wrenching moments that left us achingly alone in our homes, on our lawns, in our cars, at our jobs, while the pain of abandonment, humiliation, lies, and hate tore at our insides and made us wonder how we would make it through the day.  We've been confused, afraid, and so angry that we did and said thing that make us cringe, even today.  We have laid awake at night, weeping, aching, worrying, wondering, trying to comprehend the uncomprehendable and longing to wake up from the nightmare that our lives have become.  We have heard the words, "It gets better", and have tried to believe them.  And we have said the same words to others, hoping and praying that they would be able to believe that it is true, it does get better.

Ultimately, though, the fact remains.  Forgiveness and love banish fear.  Wholeness comes in the awareness that justice belongs to God.  It's not easy.  In fact, for me, it is impossible.  I wrote before about patience coming in the Spirit of Jesus within me. I'm thinking that this is the same thing.  If the God of the Universe, the Lord of creation, the Alpha and the Omega is dwelling inside of me and loving me to bits, where is there room for insecurity?  It all keeps coming back to God, to practicing His Presence, to living in His wonder and love, to belonging to Him. 

I think of dealing with the aftermath of rejection as a battle, and it is.  But maybe it's not my battle.  Maybe this battle, like so many, belongs to the Lord.  Maybe if I focus, instead, on Him and what He is doing and showing me, He will take care of the rest.  Which is not to say that I won't have more "crumpled into balls of incoherent despair" moments.  I am, after all, wounded.  But there is healing.  And in healing, there is hope.  And in hope, there is life.

Thank God.

Friday, August 24, 2012


I need more patience...and I need it now. 



One of the most important things that I have been learning lately is that everything I need is in Jesus, including patience.  One of the sermons that I heard at Burke camp addressed this. And yes, it was preached by the oft mentioned Nathan Johnson.  What can I say?  The man's passion for Jesus is infectious.  Nathan talked about how we tend to go to God, seeking patience, as if it is some kind of pill that God will prescribe for us.  We pop the pill, and voila!  Patience!  Or maybe it's more like an exercise regime.  We don our neon pink spandex and work our behinds off, and lo and behold, we find ourselves engulfed in waves and waves of glorious patience.  However we see it, it comes as something outside of God, a gift, or a goal to be worked towards. 

But what if patience isn't something to be worked or fought for?   What if our patience comes in the actual form of...wait for it...Jesus?    What if, instead of telling God that I need more patience, I instead ask Him for more of Jesus?  More of His Spirit in me.  What if asking for patience means asking for God to be bigger in my life, while I grow smaller?

1John 4:8 says that God is love.  And 1Corinthians 13:4 says that love is patient.  So when I ask God for more patience, I am really asking Him for more love.  And that translates into more of Him in my heart.  And that is good news.

The thing is that patience is not some solitary virtue that we can apply to life problems like a salve.  It is entwined with all sorts of other good things.  People who are patient are not just patient.  They love.  They pay attention to others.  They put other people's needs above their own.  They know what is important, what is valuable, and have chosen to live their lives according to those truths. 

The father who patiently wipes dirty fingerprints off of the leather sofa in the living room is living out the fact that he believes that the owner of those dirty fingers is infinitely more important that a piece of furniture in his living room.  He is loving, valuing and esteeming the right thing. 

When we are able to patiently wait in a check-out line while the lady in front of us fiddles with the pennies in her change purse, we are not merely being patient.  We are valuing the woman above our timetable.  We are remembering the times when we have needed patience like she does, and are humbled.  We are trusting God to work out our schedules so that, despite the delay, things will work out, or at least it will all be worth it.  We are caring. 

I am encouraged at the thought that God is my patience.  I see many places in my life where He has been patient through me.  And I see hope for the times where I struggle with impatience. 

A few weeks ago, I spent over two hours bathing and picking fleas off of a tiny, exhausted, malnourished kitten.  It is easy, for me, to look at a weak, helpless kitten and to resolve to do whatever is needed in order to restore him to health and comfort.   My patience came from God inside of me, the God that loves and restores the weak, even critters. 

So when I find myself struggling with being impatient with people in my life, I need only ask God to fill me with more of Him, because His love for them is crazy huge and passionate.  His love, in me, makes me patient.  His love for me means that I can trust Him with the plan for my life, and with the timing of the plan.  I can put others first because I have the God of the Universe who is putting me first, taking care of me, seeing to my every need.

If that's not good news, I don't know what is!

Peace out.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

10 000 Reasons - Bless the Lord

After a night of really odd dreams, I woke up with this song playing in my heart.  It was such a great way to face a new day, I have to share it. 

"10,000 Reasons (Bless The Lord)"


Bless the Lord, O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I'll worship Your holy name

The sun comes up, it's a new day dawning
It's time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes


Bless the Lord, O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I'll worship Your holy name

You're rich in love, and You're slow to anger
Your name is great, and Your heart is kind
For all Your goodness I will keep on singing
Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find


Bless the Lord, O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I'll worship Your holy name

And on that day when my strength is failing
The end draws near and my time has come
Still my soul will sing Your praise unending
Ten thousand years and then forevermore

[Chorus x2]

Bless the Lord, O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I'll worship Your holy name

Jesus, I'll worship Your holy name
Lord, I'll worship Your holy name

Sing like never before
O my soul
I'll worship Your holy name
Jesus, I'll worship Your holy name
I'll worship Your holy name

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Practicing the Presence of God - or how I know that God has a sense of humor

So, I have mentioned that since Burke Camp and a wonderfully inpirational sermon from Nathan Johnson , I have been seeking to daily practice the presence of God in my life.  Essentially, I've been trying to notice Him, to acknowledge Him, and to become more consciously aware of Him as often as possible.  Nathan suggested that one method that worked for him was using triggers, things that we come upon every day, several times a day, to help us remember.  Nathan's trigger was doorknobs.  So he determined that every time he touched a doorknob during his day, he would simply think of Jesus and thank Him for being in his life.

The trigger I chose was critters.  For one thing, I love critters of all sorts.  I even find most bugs delightfully interesting.  Spiders too, if there is a thick pane of glass between us.  One of the bonuses to using critters as my trigger is that so often, not only do I take pleasure in them, but they show me aspects of God, His ways and love, that I need to know.  For example, on the way home from camp, I saw a hawk soaring overhead, and thanked God for not just being in my life, but for helping me to soar over the troubles that I face each day. 

When I told Grace that my trigger was going to be critters, she pointed out that our home is filled with animals.  "Mom, there are 5 rats in a cage in the living room.  There are animals everywhere!"  I reminded her that even though my life is filled with animals, they aren't always in my face.  Or so I thought.

Then I got home.  The cats, Jean-Luc and Mycroft, were a little shaken up by our week-long absence, and were literally constantly in my face.  Thank you, Jesus for being in my life.  My first night back, Jean-Luc followed me up to bed, and, sitting on his pillow beside mine, patted my hand to get me to pet him for ages, until I finally fell asleep with his face in my hand.  Thank you, thank you, thank you Jesus for being in my life.

Then we were Buddy-sitting. (Buddy being Grace's dad's puppy)  Then I watched Teddy for a few days, (Teddy being Grace's grandma's dog).  Then someone showed up at our door with a tiny, scrawny, astoundingly flea infested kitten.  Buddy and the kitten (after several hours of flea-killing ministrations) wrestled for hours, dragging each other around, yelping and wailing and gleefully trying to chew the life out of each other.  Then the kitten and Mycroft did the same.  As did Buddy and Mycroft.  Jean-Luc just watched in distain and solidly smacked anyone who came near him.  For some reason, all of this activity took place in whichever room I happened to be in.  Because while I hadn't really been aware of it before, my animals have a tendency to want to be where I am.  Thank you, Jesus for being in my life.

I don't remember the last time I have been to the bathroom alone.  Yesterday I opened the bathroom door to find two cats and a dog patiently waiting outside for me.  Thank you, Jesus, for being in my life.

One day, I went with a friend to visit her mom who was in an assisted living facility and was very ill.  When the room got too crowded, I left and sat outside.  I felt burdened, knowing how ill this special lady was, feeling strongly that the end was near for her and sadly aware that my friends would soon be walking the path of sorrow.  Then I noticed, two rabbits were chasing each other in circles on the large, open lawn where I was sitting. Thank you, Jesus, for being in my life.  I spent the rest of my time there, waiting and praying.

There have been times when the whole critter thing has gotten a little overwhelming.  But, the doggies went home, the cats adjusted to each other, and while they are still a constant presence, it all feels more manageable. 

It did occur to me, though, that God has a sense of humor.  And that He really, really wants to be a part of my life.  I am very rarely overwhelmed by the animals in my life.  It felt like God heard my desire to think of Him more often, knew I planned to use animals as a trigger, and filled my life with so much critter action that my mind would be on Him constantly.  Which is good, because as overwhelming as the critters have been, it has been nothing compared to some of the other things that have been going on.  Whether I was wiping up a Buddy puddle, pulling the kitten off of the table cloth, refilling the food bowls or cleaning the litter boxes again, my mind was on God and He was working in me to help me deal with some of the things that were happening. 

I needed massive doses of patience, frequent renewals of hope, and a constant inpouring of love.  And as Nathan loves to say, all of those things are in Jesus, and in asking for more of Him, we receive it all in abundance.

So...anybody want a kitten?

Thank you, Jesus, for being in my life. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Jesus, My Burden-Bearer

One day this past week, after a morning spent having fun with a great group of kids at Vacation Bible School, at St. Andrews, I stopped at the IGA to pick up a few groceries.  As I was walking back to the car carrying my bags, a heard a familiar voice.  One of the leaders of the VBS was walking into the store, and as she saw me, she called out, "Kelly, it's time to relax now!"  I laughed and waved to her, but as I juggled the bags so I could unlock the car, I realized that I had been thinking about some troubling things in my life, and apparently frowning so openly that it was obvious across a crowded parking lot.

It reminded me of years ago when Grace's dad and I were breaking up.  For a while, as our lives were feeling so unsettled and upsetting, Grace would crawl into bed with me at night.  A few times, as I lay with my eyes closed, trying to shut off my mind and go to sleep, I would hear a small voice in the near darkness.  "Mommy are you okay?  You're frowning again." 

Too often, in my life, I have felt like what a dear friend of mine recently described as a pack mule, carrying too many burdens, for too long, across too many miles.  And yet, I am a disciple of Jesus, and a long time ago, He said these words,  “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  Matthew 11:28-30

So, why do I feel so burdened at times?  Why is my worry frown so obvious that it can be seen in the dark, or across a busy parking lot?

When I read Jesus' words, I see promises.  A promise of rest, of an easy yoke and a light burden.  But there are also directions that lead to the fulfillment of the promise, directions that I have to follow.  "Come to me."  "Take my yoke." "Learn from me."

I mentioned in an early post that I have been seeking lately to "practice the presence of God".   Inspired by a sermon at Burke camp, preached by the very passionately-in-love-with-Jesus,  Nathan Johnson,  I have been really trying to turn my mind to God repeatedly, every day.  While I understand and fully believe that God is with me always, I am aware that there are times every day when I tumble into feelings and behavior that indicate a forgetting of God's presence in my life.  Practicing the presence of God is a simple effort to remember Him, over and over again, until His presence becomes a given in my heart and mind, until I begin to even think of us as a "we", not just a "me".  If it seems radical, it's not.  It is simply trying to line my mind, heart and experiences up with the truth of God's constant presence with me and attention to me.

This practice is an important one for me, in many ways.  Just think, if Jesus is my burden bearer, if all I have to do is to go to Him, take His yoke and learn from Him in order to have rest, why wouldn't I want to?  I have experienced the peace that comes with acknowledging the presence of Jesus, and of handing over a burden to Him.  He really takes them.  Like, seriously.  I've handed Him bills, medical reports, angry personal letters, court documents, my church, friends and family, and myself, more times that I can count.  I've even handed Him my pets.  If it's important to me, it's important to Jesus, because I am important to Jesus.

The neat thing that happens, when I allow Jesus to carry my burdens for me and to give me rest, is that my heart becomes less preoccupied with myself.  I am left free to love and care for others, even to help carry the burdens of others.      It's important to remember that this is not about condemning myself for not practicing the presence of God better than I am.  Brother Lawrence talks about simply turning to God once he recognized that he had forgotten God again, admitting his weakness and asking God for help.  After all, this is about a graceful God wanting to relieve us of our burdens, not a vengeful God waiting to smack us for not following the rules.  This is not about rules.  It is about love, and freedom, and hope and life.  It is about a lover saying to His beloved, "Here, my darling, let me carry that for you."  His hand, gentle on my cheek, makes my hand gentle on the cheek of the ones I love.  It is intimate and sweet, kind and hopeful.  It is love.  

And nothing takes care of a worry-filled frown like love.  

Just a thought.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

VBS, Heroes and the Courage to Love

It has been a few days since I have posted.  Grace and I have been involved with our local Vacation Bible School, which means that every morning has found us singing songs, playing games, doing crafts and watching skits with a great (and boisterous) group of kids.  It's been fun.  And inspirational. 

The theme of our VBS has been heroes. Over and over again, I have listened in as the hope of God's power working in our lives is shared with the kids.  I have needed to hear this. Repeatedly.  God is meeting my need in the sweetest way.  When I am weak, then His Spirit is strong in me. This has been the prevailing theme of my life, as of late. Okay, as of the past 10...15 years.  Alright, my entire life.  God's strength is made perfect in my weakness.  It's a good thing, too.  Because man alive, am I weak.

The thing about being in an abusive relationship is that there was no way to escape my weakness.  It was not just the substance of the abuse, it was the excuse for it.  Words are powerful tools...or weapons.   Vulnerabilities that were shared in moments of trust became bullets specifically designed to plow through flesh and bone.  Thankfully, in the past year, God has brought me a long way down the road of healing, and has restored me to myself.  God's healing is amazing in that He has given me the strength to set boundaries and require honesty and respect from relationships while at the same time leaving my heart soft, compassionate and able to love.  Of course, there are lingering insecurities, which is why honesty is so important to me.  Still, if God's strength is doing anything in me, it is giving me the freedom and courage to love with abandon, to care about others passionately, and to risk rejection and pain because I am convinced that the cold emptiness of not loving is scarier than the pain of loving and losing. 

This past week found me struggling with these issues.  I was feeling really discouraged and ready to walk away from caring and loving others.  I couldn't see the point of it all.  It felt like it just didn't matter. Like I just didn't matter.  Oddly enough, the more I thought about walking away, the more burdened I felt.  Then God broke through my discouragement.  A conversation with a neighbour brought new insight, a few moments of positive feedback lifted my spirits and I found myself in tears, grateful and overwhelmed at the extraordinary grace of God.  Suddenly, I was back in the game, invested, committed, courage restored and love renewed.  And the burden was lifted. 

I am determined not to allow the pain from the past to infect my relationships now and in the future.  That is one reason, maybe THE reason why it is so important to let go of the past, and the people in the past who don't want (or deserve) to be in my present.  It takes courage, and as I have repeatedly written, I get my courage from God.  His love for me makes me brave, brave enough to pass that love on.  Or at least, to want to. 

It's a good place to be.

Peace out.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Today is not a good day.

Today is not a good day.  I say that, fully knowing how easy it would be to hide the fact that I am struggling.  I'm at home alone, and aside from my four legged friends, no one is here to see me dragging myself around the house, trying to keep busy and wanting to just fall into bed in tears. 

Still, I made a commitment to honesty, to being me, and today, friends, this is me.  Feeling alone, tired, burdened, rejected, and lost.  I know what I should do.  I have been almost constantly in prayer, giving my burdens to God, letting go...and yes, grabbing them back again.  But I do still keep giving them to Him.  I know that I am not alone, that if God accepts me it doesn't matter who rejects me, or why, and I also know that I am anything but lost.  These are my feelings, real, but not reality.  There is huge comfort in that.

I miss having someone to share my day with, someone who asks, and listens to the silly details that would interest no one else but one who loves me.  I am tired of mourning, even as I cherish the memories of those I mourn.  I miss my mum.   I haven't been feeling well, either, and that brings a lot of fatigue with it.  I am just...tired.

Days like this take patience. They require that I be gentle with myself. And kind. As gentle and kind as I would be to a friend who was going through such a day.  Or week. Or year. Times like this cannot be escaped.  They need to be lived through.  And, bless God, they don't go on forever.

Even if it feels like it.

Peace out.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A year ago...

A year ago, I was sitting at my kitchen table with a friend, drinking tea while we talked about how we would react if someone close to us died.  We had both been emotionally wounded, and had turned to God for healing, but still I wondered, would I be able to mourn?  Would I even cry?  Is my heart mended enough to break again?

Within a few weeks, I stood at the coffin of a sweet young man, a close friend of my husband's, the best man at our wedding, a soldier, a dad, a son, a brother, a friend, and a suicide victim.  I held the mother of his children in my arms and wept with her.  There were no words.

Six weeks later, I stood in a hospital room, holding my mother's hand, watching her face, longing for her to be alive and knowing that she was gone.  I kissed her and felt my heart break into pieces. Leaving that room, leaving her there was the most painful thing that I have ever done in my life.

I have been in mourning ever since that conversation at my table. The death of a relationship as I watched a loved one's spirit shrivel and die from anger, bitterness and unforgiveness.  The careful, loving walk beside friends suffering the loss of their mother.  Wanting to do something, anything, and knowing full well that there is nothing to be done.  Just listening and crying.

I have even had moments when God has brought to mind events, losses from the past, things that I had never properly mourned, pain buried and denied to resurface another day.

So, the questions of that day have been answered. Yes, I cried.  A lot.  In grocery stores, restaurants, church,  history classes, and in my room, late at night when memories linger in the quiet darkness.  I have doubled over with pain so sharp it was physical.  I have thrown myself facedown on my bed and howled.  I have retreated to bathrooms, to my car, to my room to cry. 

Yes, my heart was healed enough to break.  The wonderful thing about God's healing touch is that He leaves the scars.  Wonderful?  How can that be wonderful?  The scars are beauty marks, the sign that we have been wounded, that we are healed, that we remember, and that our hearts are soft and sensitive to the pain of others.  Under God's care, I break, but I am never broken.  Joy comes in the morning.  And in the mourning.  Yes, laughter sometimes leads to more tears, but there is a sweetness in having had such amazing people in my life that their loss hurts so much.  I mourn because I have been blessed.  I mourn because I have loved. 

I would have it no other way.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

In the midst of our pain, we will rise...

For the past few days, my heart has been heavy.  Two of my dear friends are mourning the death of their mother.  She was an amazing woman, and her strength and character live on in her children, and her children's children. 

I heard this song today, and thought of my friends. 

Isaiah 40:3 says, "those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."

You are in my heart and prayers.

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Courage to Let Go

I think that one of the main reasons letting go is so difficult, either of a relationship, painful memories and experiences or people, is fear. Letting go is scary.  Even when holding on is tearing us apart, letting go can still be frightening.  We get used to the pain that we've lived with for so long, we know how to handle it, to manage it even if we can't get rid of it.  Letting go of the memories of a painful event or of a destructive relationship may leave us open to new challenges, new events, new relationships, and the potential for new pain.  And that is scary. 

Sometimes we use negative attachments and memories to remind us of the dangers we might face, to keep us "safe" by motivating us to avoid situations where we might get hurt again. 

The problem is that what we do to ourselves by not letting go is usually more damaging than anything we would risk by moving on.  We wall ourselves into individual little fortresses, determined to be careful, be safe, be protected.  We forget that the source of our pain is often locked into our fortress with us.  We may think that the pain that we feel today is caused by what someone did to us in the past, but whose voice is in our heads, retelling the story?  Who is repeating the insults, the hateful words, the lies, when the person who originally said these things isn't in the picture anymore?  If we were to listen, really listen, we would hear our own voices saying these things.  And we would be one step closer to understanding that the only way to stop those words is to...well...stop those words.  To let go.

It takes courage to let go and to begin again.  The truth is, we will be at risk of being hurt again.  Life hurts.  But if we allow the negative people, emotions, experiences and memories of our past to control our futures, we are not protecting ourselves from pain.  We are condemning ourselves to a life of sure pain, and resisting the hope, the possibility, the sheer wonder of new people, new emotions, new experiences and memories.  We wall ourselves off from joy, from laughter and love and the warmth of friendship and love. 

When Grace and I went to Burke camp in July, I had to leave the safety and aloneness of my room, my apartment, my life to enter into a world full of people and potential hurt.  I felt fragile, wounded, and fearful of being judged, rejected.  I was lonely, and I hated it, but people scared me. To be honest, sometimes they still do.  For some reason, I often expect everyone's first reaction to me to be negative, and am often surprised when the opposite happens. 

What I found, when I arrived at Burke camp, was love.  God's Spirit literally permeated the camp, the grounds, the people.  My frequent prayer lately is that God would give me the courage to be myself, and I was able to do that at camp.  I had so much fun, it was crazy.  I haven't laughed so much in a really long time.  I haven't given or received so many hugs, or enjoyed so many people in ages.  I received a new sense of who I am, in Christ, and I was encouraged.  It was glorious.

Letting go of the past leaves us open to love, and joy.  Just think, how wonderful it would be to laugh again, to be able to relax into a loving hug, to be comforted and cared for even as we care for and comfort others, to be silly and playful, to sing again, to dance, to welcome others into our world with freedom and courage, to be honest and real and to entertain the hope of wonderful things in our future.

My courage comes from God, who keeps picking me up again, and who uses the difficult experiences in my life to offer hope and love to others.  There is a line in a Steve Bell song that says, "It is Your (God's) reputation that makes me outrageously brave."   Courage is not a feeling, but a mental determination to over-ride what we are feeling and to move forward anyway.  James 1:4 - 6 says, "If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you."  Courage doesn't make us stupid.  It links together with wisdom and God's guidance to move us forward in positive ways, to good places.  Yes, we may still find pain there.  Pain happens.  But having the courage to love, forgive, let go and ask for God's wisdom and guidance in the journey assures us a pretty awesome ride, even with the moments of pain. 

I find myself praying for courage often, to reach out, to love, to be who I know God is making me into, to live outside the prison bars of fear and condemnation.  Life is hard, yes, but it is also short.  There just isn't time to hold people and experiences at arms length until I can figure out if they are perfectly safe or not. 

I just don't have that kind of time.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Our Feelings...Real, but Reality?

I had a dream last night, in which I was telling someone (maybe myself?) that love is about actions, not feelings.  In the dream, I said, "How can we base our most important relationships on something as unpredictable as our feelings, which can be affected by lame things, like blisters on our feet?"

It reminded me of something that Grace said to me last week.  "Our feelings are a poor representation of reality"  It's true. Our feelings are real, but they do not always accurately represent reality. 

Someone said to me once, in essence, that when I did not change my point of view about certain issues to match his, I was disrespecting him.  I told the person that I meant no disrespect, but he said, "It FEELS that way."  And that was the end of the matter for him.  He was angry and resentful and hurt, and I was in an impossible situation. I couldn't, with any intergrity, change my opinion because I strongly believed what I thought.  I was speaking respectfully, and it was no more disrespectful for me to disagree with his opinion than it was for him to disagree with mine. I didn't feel disrespected by his stance that saw me as wrong. 

There was no point in discussing it anymore, as truth was no longer the issue.  I could claim, until I was exhausted from my efforts, that I was not disrespecting him, but he had chosen to believe that his feelings reflected truth, even though they didn't.  His feelings more likely reflected his insecurity, his anger issues, his pride...but not the truth.

This concept, that feelings don't necessarily represent reality, is one that Grace & I often have to remind ourselves and each other of.  I may feel alone, but am I really?  I may feel unloved, unappreciated, ugly or dumb, but is any of this actually true?  If we truly believe that God is in our lives, we are never alone, never unloved, never unappreciated, certainly not ugly or dumb. 

One of the biggest messages that Grace & I both took away from Burke camp, which is a church camp in Burke, N.Y that we go to every year in July, is the idea of practicing the constant presence of God in our lives.  He is with us always, in us forever, but are we aware of Him?  Practicing the Presence of God is a wonderful little work by Brother Lawrence, a simple, Catholic layman in a monastery in Paris, in the 1600's. His passion for God and steady dedication to continual prayer in the course of his daily tasks and duties are an inspiration that has reached through the centuries to grasp my daughter and I, inviting us to a more intimate, personal, constant relationship with God.  It is within this deeper relationship that we are finding freedom from the dominion of our emotions. 

The thing is, when we recognize that what we think our emotions are telling us may not be true, we are then free to find out what our feelings really are telling us.  Because they are telling us something.  If my friend from earlier has questioned himself rather than accuse me, he might have discovered what was at the root of his hurt and anger.  Such discoveries can result in growth, healing and closer, deeper relationships.  Instead, he eventually ended our relationship, certain that my refusal to be dominated, intimidated or guilted into being anything other than myself, indicated a disrespect for him that led him to some very disrespectful, shameful behavior.  Yes, our feelings are real.  They simply do not always reflect reality. The people in our lives are precious, too precious to lose to a lie. 

Just a thought.
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