bona.

So here’s a funny thing:

I came to my coffee shop tonight -one of them, anyway- to finish an assignment. I am weeks behind in my one class -just one- I am taking this summer, online, and I also have a big research paper to pull together for this class by semester’s end, in just a few short weeks now. Somehow – I don’t know how, but for the grace of God – but somehow, I will manage to finish. Strong? Eh. I just want to finish and not get in my own way of doing so.

My Mom was here for a week, and on the day she left my sister and I found a ticket for me to come down there, the only state lower than mine, to visit for the weekend and I leave tomorrow night.

Weeks behind. I’ve been weeks behind since the class started. Always, I am behind. Because I am a perfectionist. I am learning, though, and letting go and learning to let go. I am becoming kinder, gentler, nicer to myself and the best I can do is the best I can do and I do pretty good work in my own opinion with no reason to doubt they think so, too. “They”, being my those with letters already after the name, letters they hard-earned, too.

Tonight over Chinese food, which we of course made certain would be gluten and soy free and I treated because of the one-armed man, she said, “You know what my perfectionism got me? A B.” And it’s true. That is exactly, laughably, what my perfectionism yields, too.

I am not lazy; I believe in doing hard work for good grades and earning the grade, whatever it is, I deserve. Please do not hand over an “A”, I will squirm. And I want to prove my aptitude by committing to all the reading, so much reading, every bit the reading, OH MY GOSH ALL THE READING…and I love all the work and the reading. It makes me feel and come alive, even as it teases and taunts and daunts me that it must be done, I’m the only one who can do my own work…but God just says in my knower – that is, my heart now, because that’s the only knower I know – “I love you. Do your best. Thank you for your faithfulness. Also, don’t miss the rest of all of this life I have for you. And you can do it, you really can, because I gave you the brains and all you need to do this thing I’ve asked you to do, even though you don’t believe me that it’s true.” I procrastinate because I want perfection, even though I really do know better. Y’all, I promise I know better. Really, I know better.

And so then I end up in my coffee shop -one of them, anyway- on the night before I leave for a long weekend to head down to the only state south-er than mine here in the middle of the country (that is, the U.S., I am not so ethnocentric) – to finish a three-week old assignment…I work full-time, at the place where I am in also in school part-time, and I am older now and have a bedtime…There is so much grace, always there is grace and I do not abuse or take it for granted, but I sure am grateful to receive it…They all get it and they know…

And being the good procrastinator that I am, I check 5mf to keep from finishing and I get sad and grateful at her words there and I lift up silent praise outside at my coffee shop where this week I must also finish, not my own era but wrap up in my own words an era of Church History which, for the sake of my five minutes, I will not search for which one now.

Simply, I must finish.

Because, yes, I have to.

Also, I get to.

5-minute-friday-1

Lisa-Jo, You are amazing and 5mf was and is a gift and it’s a legacy you berthed from bare bones. You gave life to all of us for all of these Fridays and whether I participated or not, I am grateful for the community you grew there. Thanks for introducing all of your friends to each other and inviting us to your block party each week. We here are, I am, grateful. xo

 

 

steeplechase.

I’m a little bit anxious today. I’ve been a little bit anxious for a few days, actually, in anticipation of this day. My Mom is coming to see me today. Just my Mom, just me. She’ll be here for a week. The last time I had her all to myself was when she rode out to the middle of the country with me and dropped me off about 19 months ago. Both my sisters have kids, everyone is somewhere on the east coast. It’s just easier for me to go home than for anyone to come out here. So, that my Mom is coming out here for a week just to be with me is…everything. In this moment it’s a whole lot of overwhelming tears, actually. If my Student Worker were to turn around right now, we would have an awkward moment, to be sure.

My Mom has been tracking with me in my Summer of Self-Care. She’s who said, “Come on, let’s go,” because something needed to be done and so she took me to her quacky-doctor. I love homeopathic-y, naturopathic-y people. They are -we are- so weird and wonderful. We are all these mystical, created by God beings. As such, our dirt and spit-made bodies know what they need and these wise healers know the language they speak. Growing up, I saw a homeopathic chiropractor for my allergies and, well, for everything. It was normal and nothing at all questionable, except to my friends who didn’t go to one and then it just sounded like cooky witchcraft. I suppose this might be true in the case of some alternative healers, but this hasn’t been the case in my own experience. In fact, my own version of spirituality has always been respected and incorporated in my natural healing practices because integrated healing and self-care really is a Total Body Experience. So I am thankful to my Mom for taking me to her new guy (since we don’t live in our hometown anymore), and I’m thankful to God for using that guy to tell me my body was a “crap-bag” at the time, how it got that way and what to do about it now.

The reason my Mom is coming out here is because I’m having a little procedure done on Friday. Not a big deal, an out-patient thing. It is like the unhealthy version of me, the one who sometimes lives in scarcity and unworthiness, to make an even lesser deal over this so I wouldn’t be any trouble for anyone. But, truth? I need my Mom to be here.

Awkward moment of tears again…please no one walk past my window right now…

I want my Mom to be here. When I told her I had set it up, I didn’t ask her to come. It turns out I didn’t have to. She’s had a very  full summer with my sisters and their kids, and July is a packed month for summertime in the South. Plus, tickets are freaking expensive, and I would have understood if it just couldn’t have worked out. I wouldn’t have asked.

Facilities guys just walked in. Crap.

They pretended like they didn’t notice I was wiping my nose with a Kleenex when they came to replace our coffee station. Or maybe I just overcompensated. Close call.

Who am I kidding. I cry, y’all. Not tons, but my tears aren’t really that locked up. It’s just that sometimes I cry over real things, and then sometimes I cry over…real-er…things. I live and work and breathe and have my being in an environment where if the Spirit moves, then I can’t not cry and it’s okay and even encouraged, even though I have to remain, you know…semi-professional. Actually, though, my tears are not unique to my environment, I just cry sometimes is all. My tears know no geographical bounds.

So I didn’t ask but I was secretly pleading with my Mom to come out here. I didn’t ask her not because I didn’t think she would come but, like I said, just because I didn’t want to trouble her. And I didn’t want to set myself up to be rejected, so I just didn’t ask. My Mom. Who never seems to be troubled by me at all. In fact, seems less and less troubled by anything or anyone, and only becomes more and more engaged in my life without really even trying because that’s the way of a good Southern Mama. She is just precious and awesome.

Isn’t that strange? I know it’s not right-thinking, and I know for some people to spend time with their parents really is a devastating or abusive thing and I do not mean to compare nor diminish either of our experiences. If that has been your experience, please know my heart breaks for your broken heart. I am so sorry and I am holding space now for you in mine. I really am. For the little girl who grew up in my bedroom on the back side of the big red barn-house, the one who felt like she was too much and not enough, the one who grew up to be an ego-maniac with a self-esteem problem and is becoming right-sized in both her head and her heart all over again, this is the way she sometimes still thinks. She – I – started thinking this way all over again when that thing that happened happened and then un-happened, but for the Grace of God.

Do you know what my Mom did for me then? Nothing. That is, she listened and allowed and supported without encouraging the situation. She and one of my six aunts even found a vintage dress for me when they weren’t looking. If she worried, she did not show it. I think mostly she just trusted because she knew it was she all could do. She knew she had to wait it out, and allow into being what was never meant to be, so that I would know there was space for me when it all came undone. And there was. She stood still in her own Spirit, not willing to lose her sweet and wild and stubborn-as-hell daughter again but not willing to fight except in the Spirit for her, and then to trust the Great Spirit with her.

It seems all our best fighting -mine, anyway, and that of this woman- is done standing still in strength and in peace and in freedom, holding onto Love. She is probably my greatest teacher of this even now.

This is what she did when I was drinking, too. On the way to my bottom, after my last very rowdy birthday party…well, we had a moment, she and I. A very quiet moment shared in the dark that was light that I will always remember and will ever be a step on my way down so I could come back up. Gosh, she is so brave and so strong and present. She has always been a great Mom and an incredible woman. But as we have all gotten older and each set off on our own pathway to freedom from our family disease, she became even more of the Mom she always wanted to be. That’s the Mom I have now. And she’s awesome.

And that’s who is coming to see me today. I didn’t ask and I didn’t have to, though in a place of worthiness and okay-ness I told her it would mean a lot to me if she could but I would understand if she couldn’t. But she and my stepdad just sort of got on it because I guess that’s what parents do for their children if they can. I don’t know why it’s surprised me, though. Perhaps because I’ve always lived within driving distance of my family until I got out here. They’ve done it for my sisters, why would I worry or doubt they would do it for me? So weird, but that’s the false belief of a girl who is just understanding she is worthy. And so now I get her all to myself for a whole week. Because I’m a daughter -a very classic Middle Child of Three Girls, actually- who is worthy of a Mom who loves her daughter who loves her mother, and she does and I do very much. I am very much my 36-almost-37 year old self in this moment. And I am also very much my 6-almost-7 and 16-almost-17 year old self, too. Isn’t that always how it is between daughters and mothers?

We’ll keep it simple, no extravagant plans. I have some loose ideas. She is spontaneous and fun and we love to do a lot of the same things. But usually the best plans I make with my Mom are the ones we don’t make at all. I look forward to showing her my world out here in the middle of the country, introducing her to my new people here, and her to them. I want them to know each other, so they can know who gave and gives me life and she can know who is my oxygen out here. Mostly, though, I’m just looking forward to being with her sans interruption or competition.

In my Summer of Self-Care, I am learning all over again that it’s okay for me to state what I need and say what I want just because I can. In fact, I must. It’s a gift, this. And then to stand still in my own Spirit and receive from my Father those very things, because I am worthy just because I am His Daughter. Also a gift. I am also learning that people aren’t my Promise. God is both the Promise and the Promise-Keeper. He alone makes them, and He alone keeps them. He is my Hope, and He is my Assurance of all things. However, somehow this “Hope and Assurance” used to look an awful lot like believing I was meant to settle for leftovers. “Poor in Spirit” was just plain poverty of soul. Scarcity. Every man for himself. Live or die trying. And this is just not God’s way. Love’s way.

These are all Truths I once knew. Shared them here, to be sure, because even if I may not have believed any of this to be true for me, I really did know it was all true for you. Oh, the vanity. But here I am now learning all that’s True -or a lot, anyway- anew, all over again. And this time I’m learning that what’s True of you is all True for me, too. There is plenty of Plenty to go around for all, and no one has to go without. But first, to trust Love.

Since laying down my armor and freeing up my arms, I have been in greater position to receive Love’s gifts.

And today, this day, is one of Love’s gifts.

xo

 

 

 

recovery tears.

i wrote a post on saturday about what i had just experienced that morning in a.a.

and i expressed that i was conflicted over talking about a.a. anymore for the sake of the group, but after talking this morning with some of my friends after our meeting, i realize what i’m conflicted over right now is telling you about MY a.a. in real time, right now.

and then i hid the post this morning.

when i first started telling you about my road of recovery, i was 5 years sober. i noticed this morning that someone had clicked on the first post i wrote in regards to this journey, which was actually an email i had sent to my friends when i first got sober five years earlier. at the time i posted, however, i wasn’t actually working my program. (this wasn’t a secret then.) i was sober, but not involved with a recovery group.

and now i am.

and that’s what i’m uncomfortable talking about with everyone now. i feel okay sharing with you what i learn, i realize i haven’t violated any laws or rules or suggestions for the sake of the group. that was my initial concern, that i was breaking a rule in sharing my story with you. i wasn’t. i’m not.

but my friends today reminded me that this is such a personal journey, and i’m learning some things brand new and some things i’m learning are brand new all over again. and i remember how i got there and what the rooms did for me, and it’s just so personal and such a private journey and this is what makes me uncomfortable about sharing anything here for now. because it’s all too fresh and too raw and i don’t have any business exposing myself as i lay bleeding and dying right now.

that sounds so dramatic.

allow me to stay right-sized.

today my heart cracked open in my meeting and i felt all of humanity the way i did when i first got there. a dam broke open and i remembered. everything, i remembered. i don’t mean i remembered anything, specifically. i just…remembered…everything. life. people. humans. feeling things. feeling all the things.

and it felt like day 16 all over again when i just cried for the sake of crying, for the sake of feeling all of my feelings. it felt like my first sober cry all over again.

and i will probably over-share here again and wish that i hadn’t and then go back and make posts private as soon as i publish them, or after i think about it for a day or two, wondering what it is that made me decide to say it all in the first place. everything i said was true, nothing offensive. it was all just…too much, too soon. and i don’t need to do that for myself. you all know i’m an open book, i’m glad to share with people one-on-one what i’m experiencing if it seems like it might help them on the road of their own experience.

for today, though, i need to hold my sobriety sacred again. i need to remember and feel everything and for my heart to keep breaking open for humanity and for the guy sitting next to me all over again. i didn’t know that had forgotten what that feels like. i haven’t felt empathy or compassion or even grace in that way in a really long time, in spite of myself. i remember having those feelings when i first came into the rooms, and i’m having them all over again. it was in the rooms i exhaled and then learned how to inhale. it was in the rooms i learned how to actually feel; rather, that it was okay to have all my feelings. because, the truth is, i have a lot of feelings. i have always been tender-hearted, and sensitive. but at some point i received the message that it wasn’t okay, that i couldn’t talk about my feelings, that they were too big or not enough or too much and it just wasn’t okay and so i would run upstairs and hide in my room to protect everyone else from all my feelings, and myself from their rejection as a result.

and i know i don’t have to do that anymore.

but it’s been a long time since i’ve felt real feelings, and so today was a gift to me.

so i came here to tell you that i need to keep walking down my recovery road and i’m going to be less chatty about it here until i get more time under my belt. to reiterate for the curious or concerned, i have not had one single drop of alcohol in my system since november 5, 2006, much to my chagrin on some days and all evidence to the contrary. but i’m not on a crusade to save all the drunks, or all the christians, or all the anyone. right now, i’m just saving myself. rather, god is saving me from myself all over again.

we all know that i will still include things i’m learning here, but i need to be clear with myself about my own boundaries and protect the gift that god has given me to just learn how to be me all over again, at this stage in my life, as a grown-up kid who wants to do right things and feel all her feelings and cry real tears about real things and remember how to be loving and compassionate and kind all over again, one day at a time.

i just wrote a post about not writing posts about all of this.

i don’t have any more words.

just an eye roll at myself.

i love you, self. a lot.

xo

hey, henry.

belong.

i hear this word and i think of something i heard recently:

we all want to know we belong, even if we don’t fit in.

i think first of family, how different but same we all are, each of us bringing our own same but different personalities. i have never not been a “tyson girl”, even now that each of us are pushing 40. but when you know each of us, really know each of us, we each are gifted so different. each of us loves so uniquely, and we all laugh loudly.

and then i think of the girls who i spent every night of my college career with on stage, we called ourselves the favorites because we were and we weren’t. we were good, clean fun and we were trouble, too. and some days we were just troubled. and he loved and yelled at us because he believed and we belonged to him and to each other. we wouldn’t have chosen each other had we not chosen to show up for each other on that stage.

i think of friends at home, those with whom i have history long. people who, on a moment’s notice, i can call and talk to and neither time nor distance matter, because we belong to each other. and we all bring our special qualities to the table, and we celebrate one another for them. my best friend who now i never see or talk to for no real good reason at all, but we show up for each other. she is the reason i ever became funny, if ever i am funny.

when my dad died, and we were all three staying with another childhood friend, and we were getting coffee on our cute main street in our little big town and a friend from high school was heading back to his own dad’s flower shop. he stopped, and held my hand and looked me in the eye without filter, and said, “we’re going to take care of you today.” i had never til then not had a dad.

and now it makes me cry. you made me cry, boy i had a crush on 20 years ago.

and this was now almost five years ago, it was halloween day, exactly three years from the day i knew that this day would soon come if changes weren’t soon made and they weren’t and it did. none of us lived in our hometown anymore, but we all want to again. at some point, we might. everyone i know who is from there, it is our very favorite place, especially that piano man who didn’t know a stranger and had not one enemy other than himself and the devil. that man i love, the only one who has ever loved me the very best he could, all things considered.

and the next year in our new town when we moved from our hometown, still together because we belong to each other, we bumped into a man we would learn worked for the funeral home and we spoke of how kind and wonderful and gracious the owner was to us, mr. turnage who first buried my grandma and then my granddad the same year, and then my dad several years after that.

and we asked this stranger-friend there in the starbucks at the barnes & noble, my niece was already learning how to knit in his wife’s lap. she was 3 at the time, maybe 4 by then…we asked him about ghost stories or funny requests.

and not knowing us or the story, just that we had a dad and grandparents he helped us lower to the earth to become the earth but not yet our names, he said, “well, there was this one time not too long ago a family wanted to ride their dad down franklin street one last time, and it was halloween and there was a basketball game, too…”

yessir, we know that family, and thank you for that and for telling us our story because it’s now it belongs to you, too.

the world is kind and gracious and it is good and as times get harder, people are getting softer and more loving and kinder and better. and god is getting bigger and the world is getting smaller.

and we may not fit in, but we really do belong to each other.

xo

5-minute-friday-1it’s been a while since I’ve done a 5mf.

glad i did.

click that link there or the button beside, and you can belong there, too. xo

beating waves.

i feel a stirring in my spirit, new words are on their way as i process what god is doing in my heart through all of my current life teachers…getting over and working through and becoming more…

for now, for today…sometimes i write emails to my niece for her to read when she’s older. i have another niece and nephew and one day i will write letters to them, too. today, i offer my most recent one for her to you because i think parts of it might apply.

child,

i came home to be with you and the cousins back in may, and i was really depressed. my body had shut down after a really hard year, entirely. (it has been really hard for me to be away from you, my love.) i tried not to show this to you, but by the time you read this it will be okay for you to know it. you give and gave me so much life, just by you being you. i hope i had enough sense about me than to put pressure on you for more than this, or for anything at all.

one day toward the end of my trip, you invited me to play in the ocean with you. i wanted to be everything you needed me to be in that moment, but my soul was too tired and i couldn’t say “yes”. so i sat on the safe beach instead, watching you play all by yourself in the wild ocean. forgive me for not being there with you, but know that i was, little girl. i’m really sorry i missed that moment with you, but you didn’t seem to mind. you just laughed and played. i was -and have always been- in awe of how fearless you are. wave after wave, you kept getting back up. you would not be taken down. it was comical and awesome. it was comical because it was awesome. i couldn’t take my eyes off of you, mostly because i was afraid of you being out there by yourself, but you did it. you beat those waves, girl. one by one, you won over each of them just by getting back up. (y’all, please don’t judge me for leaving my child out in the ocean. i had my eye on her THE ENTIRE TIME.)

you are ferocious and brave and tenacious and courageous. but know you don’t always have to be. rather, brave doesn’t always have to look like a stiff-lip or being sassy or cute or tough. sometimes brave is being vulnerable, honest, open, even if -especially if- it’s hard. sometimes being brave is just speaking your truth; sometimes boldly, other times softly. being brave, really…is just trusting god. i think that’s all it really means, actually.

one thing i am learning now, a little bit late, is that i am worthy of a life that is good. i believed most of my life that i was never enough – not good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, funny enough, cute enough, that i didn’t love god enough and that he couldn’t love me enough. in fact, i believed i was unlovable.

i do not see this in you, not at all. you have a confidence in you, child, that i wish had been offered to me when i was a little girl. i think it might have been offered, actually, but i did not know how to receive it or maybe it was taken away or i gave it away without knowing i ever had any.

i hope you are never assigned any responsibility other than just being a child while you are still a child. you just get to be a kid for many more years. don’t rush it. we all want this for you. i hope you will forgive us all if we ever ask more from you than this, which we might do without realizing it. but it’s each of our earnest desire that you just get to be a kid, and ENJOY being a little girl. we celebrate this in you, all of your little girl-ness.

forgive easily, child. know that we all want the best for you, and will do and are doing everything for you to have this, and to give you this. we will mess up. you will understand and appreciate later that we are all just grown-up kids, learning to get along and how to use the tools we’ve been given. some of our tools are broken, sometimes we don’t know how to use them.

in any case, should you ever receive this message in any way from anyone, i want you to know a few things: often people get jealous of things about us that other people love. things in us that god made, ways that we are wired, that are entirely awesome. sometimes people don’t know what to do with creative, big personalities like yours and mine. it’s okay. we can let them off the hook. we can love them, but we don’t have to believe them when they try to make us feel bad for just being who we are. in fact, i’ve learned to have compassion on them and, when i have the capacity, to invite them out to play. if they can’t come, sometimes we have to go in to find them. they just need a little help. other times, though, for our own health and sanity and well-being, we have to let them stay inside. remember they are still children of god, and we are not better. do not let these people keep you from enjoying your great and awesome life.

and you are, my girl. you are AWESOME.

something else, in case i forget to tell you: you aren’t responsible for saving the whole world, and a lot of people in the world need saving. a lot of people in the world who need saving just choose not to be saved. just love. that’s all god wants us to do. but love yourself first. that’s what i’m learning now, at almost 37. i’m finally learning this, that god really, really loves me and i am worth taking care of myself.

it is not your business what other people think of you. you are responsible for being YOU, perfectly. be exactly who god has created YOU to be, beautiful girl. be kind, compassionate, loving, gentle, thoughtful and fun – all the things you already are. i’m so excited for you to discover even moreso who you are, and see where all of your gifts and talents take you. i hope you will pursue life with gusto, just as you are doing now. don’t hide. don’t give yourself away too freely, either. but do be free. life will teach you what this means.

but what i really want to say, beautiful girl, in case you ever come to the place that you believe otherwise, and my prayer is that you don’t, that you will know that you are WORTHY of a life that is GOOD. as a child of god, as a human being, GOD LOVES YOU. just as you are. you don’t have to work at being you. you don’t have to strive to prove yourself worthy of approval. psalm 23 says, “the lord is my shepherd, i shall not want. he leads me beside still waters…” read the whole thing, beloved. that’s the life we’re meant for, one of rest and without worry. he will give you EVERYTHING you need. you don’t have to fight for a seat at the table, nor do you have to settle for scraps underneath. there is a seat for you already there that no one else can fill, and there is plenty of life for you to have at this table. the good kind of life. god  loves you, you are his child and he is your father. i prayed for you this morning that you would know jesus deeply at a young age, even now. mama loved and knew jesus in a really deep way when she was your age.

don’t be afraid to ask for what you need, or state what you want. you are worth this.

you are DEEPLY and FULLY and COMPLETELY loved, and you are fully and wholeheartedly loveable. one of my life teacher’s, karen, calls it “living from your spirit”. do this, sweet girl. you don’t have to seek outside attention or approval of any person. live from the inside out. the world needs you. you are so, so beautiful. you make valuable contributions to the world around you.

in any case, you are all of these, and you are worth all of this.

i love you and those other little people more than anything.

kk

 

why the why.

Y’all, I’m going to ask for your forgiveness in advance. I have been shooting out responses to emails, and writing my group of Warriors…I’m not reading back over my blog-posts before posting another one to see if I’m repeating myself, which probably I should because probably I am. I’m just trying to write without thinking too hard, but I feel like I keep saying a lot of the same things. In fact, I think I already apologized once for sounding redundant. In the coming days, I’m going to talk more specifically about things I’m learning about health and God and Life. I’m going to introduce this at the end of this post; for now, thanks for following the journey.

When I got sober in 2006, I asked the Lord to use all of it. All of my story, for His Glory. (Think there’s an IHOP song out now with these lyrics…) I promised Him He could do that, asking Him that not one shred of any poor choice I’ve made – or good choices, for that matter – be in vain. Every mistake I have made and right thing I’ve done, every time I have thought or acted like an alcoholic even when I wasn’t drinking, every lesson I have learned, even when –especially when- it’s one I’ve learned over and over and over again. (DEAR GOD, PLEASE DON’T LET THOSE HAVE BEEN FOR NAUGHT.) Every time I’ve gone around my elbow to get to my thumb, let there be no evidence of a life lived dishonestly or without integrity of a broken girl who just loves Jesus.

Everything God has done in my life, shown me or taught me or I’ve sensed Him speaking, I want ALL OF IT to point to Jesus. On days I have doubted or struggled or just didn’t believe, on days I feel like a crazy person or have sat still in my depression, I don’t want any part of it to be wasted. For every time I have laughed too hard or talked too loud or cried real tears, for all the moments that have been shared in sacred spaces in real time that just cannot be re-captured but hearts know, I am just. so. thankful. I paid the price to understand and receive His Grace for my life, and I will not count the cost.* I can’t. All I can do is offer myself up in return as a minister of Grace and Love, that my story would be heard within the context of others’ own life experiences.

*I know there is not one thing I did to earn or receive it and the only reason there is Grace at all is because the Cross of Christ. Nothing at all to do with me or you, EVERYTHING to do with Him.

This is why I share. This is why I tell my stories. It’s not for me. One day at a time, it’s for me. I’m learning not to over-share, that it’s a codependent mechanism. I’m a scapegoat in some circles because it’s easy to point to the girl who makes everyone uncomfortable because she’s so comfortable talking about things that some others would rather keep secret. In AA, we say, “You’re only as sick as your secrets”, and I don’t want to be sick. Mind you, I have a lot more discretion and I have a list of guidelines to which I try to adhere before I tell a story, especially when it comes to including other characters in the romedy that is my life. But sometimes when I’m asking myself, “Am I saying too much?” I usually err on the side of saying it all, anyway. However inappropriate or just too much it is, I have to think it might be the very thing that God uses to point someone to Jesus. Or for those who don’t believe, that they would experience humanity on a level that communicates, “You’re normal and not alone.” I don’t believe in lying bleeding and dying for all to see with all my guts hanging out. If I’m not emotionally attached to an experience, and I try not to share here until I get to that point, then use it, God.

Therapy and AA teach me to speak in “I” language, not “you” language. I can only tell my story, not yours. It makes me uncomfortable sometimes because I feel like I’m just exposing myself, even though I know I’m not the only one going through some of the things I’ve experienced. Also, I feel like it sounds like I’m super into myself, and I’m just not. I promise. Rather, maybe I have been especially over the last year or two, but only because I lived from this place of complete and utter striving, trying to keep my head above water and not from a place of trust. While certainly I was living on the side of pride, it was from a place of fear and scarcity, not ego and arrogance. It was the kind of pride that others would ask me, “Are you okay?” and I would cry and then they would hug and hold and pray for me, instead of judging my bad attitude. I’m sure –I know- there were some of those, too, and I hate that my hurt places might have caused hurt places in someone else. On the other hand, to keep it right-sized, I’m really not that powerful and it’s not my business what other people think of me and everyone has a bad day. But the ones who know and love me knew before I did that I just haven’t been myself in the last few years (not on a regular basis, anyway) those are the ones who have checked on me without my asking. I’m learning to breathe again, and to be fully present. Being me isn’t hard work when I’m living from the inside out, from my spirit, instead of working so hard to please and perfect and prove myself to the world.

The Dean of my seminary who is also my Boss’ Boss and therefore my Boss, too, sat down in my office one day a few months ago. Like a good and kind father, he just wanted to check in with me, full of so much compassion and encouragement. He didn’t say so, but I knew he could tell. I saw him just a moment ago, actually, and was able to tell him about my health-stuff, and how God is using it. Gosh, I love that man.

Depression and scarcity were –are- a trap. I would listen to people out of Christian duty and because it’s part of my job -not to mention, it’s a lot who I am- but because there was such a deficit of my soul, I just wasn’t a very good listener. I didn’t mean to be selfish, but I realize on this side I was so concerned with what I needed to do next or later or just, you know, simply breathing, that I was a little bit distracted from the Love of My Life, who are People. Well, Jesus first. Then people. Actually, Jesus first, then me now, and then people.

When I sat down in my first AA meeting of the summer and opened up my Big Book, I saw a note I had written to myself when I first got sober: Self-care is not selfish. Well. There you go. Intellectually I knew this. I remember learning it when I went to family rehab when my dad went to Hazelden. But there are a couple of things that are dropping deep these days, and this is one of them. The others I will share in coming days.

My Summer of Self-Care is making me more self-aware and less self-absorbed. I reach out more now. I call people. I answer phone calls. I ask how my friends are doing because I genuinely want to know how my friends are doing. I want to see people again because I have more space to hold for them. I’m doing a lot of things, but they’re all good-for-me things. I don’t actually feel busy or tired and nothing feels like work right now. I’m making an investment, and as a result my time is maximized better. I really feel like I have more free time, even though I’m not sure I actually do.

My schedule isn’t going to change in the fall. It will be busier because the students will return, but the changes I am making now I know will determine my longevity. I want to be around for a long time, so I want to make healthy, positive choices now. I’m making lifestyle changes that I don’t plan to abandon. They feel good and are good for me.

I didn’t mean to start anything with my Summer of Self-Care. And, actually maybe I didn’t. Maybe it’s more God on the move than me falling apart, and isn’t that usually the case? I ran into my friends the Pogue’s yesterday and told them about all of this. They said they know a lot of people whom the Lord has called into a season like this, so apparently it’s a thing. Several of my friends (and by “several”, I mean, like, “two”) have said they are now inspired to start their own season of self-care, which means I AM NOT ALONE HALLELUJAH. It also means that we get to share with each other what we are learning. It appears as though I got started a few days in advance, so I’ve been answering some questions the way my Butterknife has been answering mine. I’m mainly just reading a lot and learning all of it as I go. I am fully committed, completely invested into learning all I can. Not in a religious or addictive way, but because it matters. Because I matter. And you matter.

One thing that has been really huge for me has been to accept that I am worth the investment. I am worthy of taking care of myself. I’m worthy because I’m a child of God and, in plain terms, I’m worthy because I’m a human being. (I really apologize, y’all, I don’t remember if I said that in an email or here somewhere. I trust someone new might need to hear it, or hear it again.) This is EVERYTHING, this shift of perspective. It completely motivates and drives this ship of how I view myself and what I’m doing to tend to the temple. I’ll share more on this later, because there are some funny stories attached to it. But I can’t forget to say it here, now. Hear me when I say this: HAVING A SENSE OF WORTHINESS IS EVERYTHING. If you are trying to take care of yourself because you think you suck as a person and deserve punishment and so you deprive or push yourself too hard, you will only wear yourself out. This happened to me. I AM WORTHY AND YOU ARE WORTHY OF A LIFE THAT’S GOOD. THERE’S NO OTHER WAY. IT’S THE ONLY WAY OF GOD.

So I thought I would offer you a short list of the steps I have taken. All of them are a priority for me. I have done any combination, if not all, of these things every day now for the last month. In the coming days, I will expound on each of them. What that looks like, I don’t know because they are all integrated. What I learn with my Wellness Coach tremendously impacts what God does through my counseling. What I put in my body determines immediately how my brain is going to function for the next few hours. Waking up and going to AA every morning before work sets the tone for the rest of my entire day. In no particular order, just things I’m doing differently:

Therapy (weekly for now)

Wellness Coaching (also weekly)

Yoga (class once a week at school, then a video twice a week)

Running (2-4, sometimes 6, miles at least 3 days a week)

Gluten & Soy-Free (entirely – WOAH. Can’t wait to share what this has done for me. I still don’t even know completely.)

Working with a Naturopath (just met with her for the first time last week, on behalf of my thyroid/adrenal/body shutting down situation; had bloodwork done this week for anemia and thyroid; she’s starting me on supplements, which will hopefully be waiting for me when I get home)

Saying “Yes” to FUN (this is HUGE.)

Saying “Yes” to Quiet Time (also HUGE.)

Saying, “I’m sorry, this won’t work for me” (or simply, “No”)

Completely RAW diet, or as raw as I can possibly make it

Detox/Cleanse (I have actually been doing a cleansing/detox diet for the last month. This is not a quick or easy or one-step process)

AA (every morning. Reminds me of my first home group in my hometown, and I don’t mean Bible Study. I seriously wish people would go become drunks just so they could go to AA. Everyone needs it. I don’t really wish that. Just kind of I do. More later. So much more later.)

KEEP EVERYTHING SIMPLE. STAY IN THE DAY. LIVE AND LET LIVE. (And every other AA-adage because THEY ALL WORK.) STAY IN GRACE. SPEAK KINDNESS. RELAX.

I’m also listening to my body a lot more. It’s one thing to be tired for not getting enough sleep. In those times, I still work out. But I am actually fatigued A LOT due to my body shutting down, and slowly rebuilding my immune system again. So, I rest when my body says it needs to rest. It didn’t happen overnight that my body fell apart. It can take up to two years to recover from severe adrenal fatigue. TWO YEARS. I’m in this for the long haul, and I’m not looking for a quick fix or a speedy recovery.

I don’t punish myself anymore. People who know they are worthy of wellness don’t have to. There is always enough time, and I always have the resources I need. Believe me, this is all very new to me. Again, I’ve know it all in my brain and I know it is true for other people, but it is all finally becoming real for me, too. The Big Deal about all of this is that I’m more engaged, more fully aware of the people in my life. That’s what I’m created for, moments with my people. I’m available to life as an active participant, partnering with God again, and allowing the day to happen with an open invitation to all who enter.

Unless it’s someone who “I’m sorry, this doesn’t work for me” and then I can kindly and gently draw a boundary, perhaps without even using words except when necessary.

All of this becomes a different ball of wax during week three of a woman’s month, too. A time when perhaps some extra, extra self-care care is necessary. (THANK YOU, Stasi Eldredge for explaining this so well in Becoming Myself.) EVIDENTLY I’M IN WEEK THREE because I’ve already had to take a walk outside this morning. SEE HOW WELL I’M TAKING CARE OF MYSELF?

Also, y’all…seriously. Who has the time anymore? I’ll be 37 on my next birthday. I’m not 22 anymore, or 28, or even 30. 40 is my next milestone. Just trying to keep everything as simple as I can, without entertaining anyone else’s crazy or becoming involved in their drama. People have had to draw boundaries with me at different points in my crazy. I have permission to do the same. I can be loving and kind, listen for a few minutes, help if I am able. But I do not have to – God has not asked and it is really a sin to – martyr myself anymore. My new counselor told me she used to tell rehab clients, “I will not work harder than you.” My job is to take care of my temple. The enemy’s ultimate goal is to take us out. If I’m not taking care of myself, and evidently I wasn’t, then this will happen. I’m not going to let him win, which means I’m going to stop fighting now.

I’ll go into greater detail about what each of these things is teaching me in an (unofficial, nothing fancy or too planned) series. I sent a friend of mine back home (one of the two who is taking this journey now, too) a couple of tips I’ve already learned. This is what I told her:

Remember to be VERY KIND to yourself. Take naps when you need to, or a mental break. I’m realizing, tho, even when I am (enjoying) taking the time to cook right or go to the gym, it’s work but it relaxes and/or energizes me to do other things. But I can love myself enough to stop or take a walk or a break when I need to, even if I don’t “deserve” it. This isn’t about discipline (and, therefore, punishment), but about loving myself better.

Also, one (or two or three, whatever you can handle) thing at a time is fine. Don’t push yourself to make ALL of these changes ALL at once. We are making lifestyle changes, not jumping on a trend. Take the time it takes to read up on and research what you’re doing, or the change you need or want to make next.

One more thing: there are A LOT of things that would be “good for us”, but may still not be right for us or our lifestyle or even necessary changes for us to make. (For example, I can’t drink alcohol, but not everyone is allergic to it. I am gluten intolerant, bordering celiac, but plenty of people can eat a sandwich and not go into a brain fog for days or break out for a whole year  or stay puffy and perpetually bloated.)

Just things I’m learning. You’re doing great! We’re in this together!

xoxoxo

feast or famine.

I think I might be growing up some more.

Some things are starting to come together for the first time again.

By the way, I apologize if my posts are starting to sound redundant. I learn a little bit more each day and what I learned yesterday makes more sense in light of something I learned today. It’s all just real talk, in real time. Hope you don’t mind.

I’ve been making my way through Daring Greatly by Brene Brown over the last few months. I don’t read much for pleasure anymore – that is, I hadn’t been reading much for pleasure since I became a student again because ALL THE READING, for one thing. But the real truth is it seems I have basically hated myself and tried to kill off Every Creative Thing that God has created me to be that didn’t seem to be sufficient for the culture in which I find myself. To tell you the truth, I don’t even know how I learned to live this way out here, but at some point I internalized the notion that I couldn’t do anything other than work and school and being a good Christian and I have been beating myself up, along with anything and everyone who seemed a threat to what I just now pictured as the jail cell I have created for myself.

I don’t have her book in front of me right now, so I’m cheating a little bit to share these quotes with you because I pulled some of these from a website interview. She says,

“The root of the scarcity issue is fear. The questions we are living by—what are we supposed to fear, and who is to blame?—are exhausting for us spiritually, emotionally. Fear consumes an enormous amount of energy in our lives, and to me that’s probably the greatest casualty of the scarcity culture. We are spending so much time and energy being afraid that we are not fully walking into our power and our gifts.”

“Worrying about scarcity is our culture’s version of post-traumatic stress. It happens when we’ve been through too much, and rather than coming together to heal (which requires vulnerability) we’re angry and scared and at each other’s throats.” {This one actually is a quote from the book.}

This has been me for the last couple of years.

By the end of my therapy session last week, it occurred to me that I stopped asking for what I want and stating what I need. I did this because I went back to an old familiar place of shame and feeling unworthy. I have identified that this started happening a few years ago when the experience of a traumatic relationship silenced me. I started believing the harsh words spoken over me, and have lived in a place of fear since then, really. I couldn’t identify this then, or even a few months ago – not this part of it, the fear part - but I’m realizing it now. (Going back to therapy helps, obviously.)

On a certain level, I knew what was being said of/about/to me just wasn’t true. But the enemy used that polarizing situation to pick apart all of my former insecurities through abusive words that were spoken over me again and again and again and again and again.

Times a thousand.

Every day.

Times a thousand.

To be fair, it wasn’t entirely his fault. Not that I deserved the abuse, but I have compassion more than blame for him now. And if I’m being really honest, the signs we were headed for disaster were all there from the beginning, I just chose to ignore them, believing it might change or be different. It’s taken me all this time, just as Karen promised, to reach this place in my forgiveness and healing.

As a result, though, I have been living apologetically the way I used to, knowing surely that everything I ever feared most about myself – that I was unlovable and unworthy of love, that I was only tolerated and a burden, completely worthless to God and man – was true. Those are all way old and familiar messages that prior to that experience, I had worked out and worked through and no longer believed and knew were not Truth. So that they would come back up again obviously meant that I was wrong, that they actually must be true. I came out confused and hurt, angry and afraid, but mostly I was quiet and numb.

And while I have been in the process of thawing out since then, I now realize the result is that I have been living from a place of scarcity. I went back under the table, settling for scraps again, if only I could come to the table at all. I have acted afraid and been mad when I couldn’t have it my way, all because somewhere inside I believed that I could never have it my way either because I’m not good enough or worthy enough. “When’s it going to be my turn, God?” shaking my fist, instead of, “Thank you, God, for just this. This beautiful moment.”

I went back to an old familiar place of servitude instead of servanthood, the difference being a poverty and slave-like mentality instead of living from the inside out. Serving because I can, not because I have to prove myself or I’m otherwise unworthy. Knowing that I’m loved and cared for and provided for instead of being afraid of not having just basic human needs met.

To be honest with you, this is how I describe my experience, but I only just now found the scarcity quote above…I was using the word “scarcity” before I realized that’s what all of this was…it’s all making sense to me now, but am only just now realizing her language for it, even though I’ve been chewing on her words for the last few months. That is to say, I didn’t realize until just this minute that what I’m describing is what she defines as scarcity and that my thing is actually a real thing. (Takes longer for some of us than for others…)

Man, I would be a wonderful case-study for her.

The thing is, if you used to hang out here? Before I went on the LAM? You know I used to live this way. “Live from your spirit, Mary Kathryn,” Karen has reminded me so many times. It’s what Brene Brown calls “Wholeheartedness”. Of this, she says, “There are many tenets of Wholeheartedness, but at its very core is vulnerability and worthiness; facing uncertainty, exposure, and emotional risks, and knowing that I am enough.” {Daring Greatly}

I am enough.

That is the last thing Karen said to me at the end of my very first appointment with her, now ten years ago. It’s the heart of my own ministry, along with the message of Grace and Love, One Day at a Time. It’s all coming together now, the how and the when and the why, and I have gained the necessary momentum to move past this place.

“During your 12 years of research, you found people who do feel adequate; you coined the term “wholehearted” for this feeling, a feeling of being enough. How did they arrive at that emotional place? There are two things they shared in common. The first is a sense of worthiness—they engage in the world, with the world, from a place of worthiness. Second, they make choices every day in their life, choices that almost feel subversive in our culture. They are mindful about things like rest and play. They cultivate creativity, they practice self-compassion. They have an understanding of the importance of vulnerability and the perception of vulnerability as courage. They show up in their lives in a very open way that I think scares most of us.” {from the website interview}

This. This is the thing I used to know.

I am knowing it again now, but for the Grace of God. Brown and Karen and Life are my Teachers, and Time is a Healer. God is in no hurry, takes as long as it takes, and Grace will use whatever means necessary to prove His Wild Love.

I’ve been fighting God and everyone all over again for my place at the table, when really I’m just coming back to the place that’s always been mine. It was here the whole time. I just got up from the table, this Table of Abundance where everything I need is right here in front of me. And this time I’m sinking deeper into my seat. That is, I’m sinking even deeper into my own heart, and God is there. I am worthy because I am His Child. Or, in laymen’s terms, I’m worthy just because I’m a Human Being.

When I live in scarcity, I can’t love others because I don’t know how. When I live from my spirit, from a place of wholeheartedness, I can relax into my seat at The Table and enjoy everyone else who is sitting there with me. Not being envious of their seats, just appreciating the person sitting in his or her own seat. I can ask questions and listen and forget about myself, but only because I’m caring for myself better and asking for what I need and trusting The Greater to meet those needs because of the fullness of His supply. In this, I am able to love Real Love in fullness and freedom.

I am self-aware but not self-absorbed. I can say “Yes, please” to all that is Good for Me and “No, thank you” to the bread (because I’m allergic) and the wine (also allergic) because I am feasting on the Bread and the Wine itself. And then I can pass the dish on to the next pilgrim, my Brother or Sister, at this family-style buffet of Kindness and I See You and Fun.

Perhaps you have also gotten up from the table? Just a reminder that we’re saving your seat. No one else has filled it because no one else can.

You are worthy. And you are enough.

xo

 

born again.

i was born to laugh

i learned to laugh through my tears

and i was born to love

i’m gonna learn to love without fear

{born, over the rhine}

: : : : :

after laughing with my friend elle back home, i hung up the phone and went for a run on riverside last night. the night had cooled, it wasn’t almost dark yet but it was almost almost dark. i hate running now a lot less than i did when i started a few months ago. it’s less drudgerous, more enjoyable. less work, now it’s just something i do when i have time to do it. because it’s good for me, i make time for it at least a few times a week. i also still can’t believe i’m actually a runner, so i think that’s part of the reason i do it, too. to laugh at myself and also to prove to myself one more time that i am, in fact, a runner who runs. i run until i can’t run anymore, until i absolutely must stop, and so i give myself permission to walk for a few minutes. and then i give myself permission to run again, and i do it without thinking. my body knows what it needs, and so i don’t need to punish it by making it work harder. i push myself as it is, and of course want to build endurance. i am not lazy. but i don’t need to be mean to me. running is something i do but, again, it’s only part of and not all of who i am.

in my summer of self-care, i don’t try to time my day or plan my schedule outside of work, and i’m finding everything still gets done. in fact, more gets done because i’m not making anything more complicated than it needs to be. i am a responsible and capable adult, and i know what needs to get done and i am able to do those things without becoming a big baby about it. i don’t wear myself out dreading my homework. before, if i knew i had homework to do, i wouldn’t permit myself to do anything fun. i may or may not complete or even work on my assignment, but i definitely didn’t have permission to do anything i might actually enjoy. it turns out, in order for me to be responsible, i have to be more flexible and less rigid about, you know…life.

in general, i’m just trying to do a lot less thinking so i can be more thoughtful. gosh, i think a lot.

laughing with elle wasn’t the first time i laughed yesterday. i laughed with my friend here in tulsa when she recounted a horrific boyfriend-experience to another friend of ours. i had heard the story before, but this time i realized how scary the situation must have been at the time. she has so much freedom from it now. i realized a little while later that, eventually, i was no longer laughing about her situation, but about the one i found myself in a few years ago. lord, bless that time. the situation, the circumstances…i would never knowingly put myself through that again, but i can laugh about it now not for shame but for freedom. finally. i finally could laugh about it not because “what the bleep were you thinking?” but because it was funny. rather, it is funny now. funnier, anyway. haven’t we all been in questionable relationships, if we’ve lived long enough to make certain poor choices that we thought were good ones at the time? i really thought at the time it would be a good story and that god was in it. i chose the wrong thing for right reasons. there’s nothing inherently flawed with me that i chose it at the time or that i didn’t un-choose it sooner. i didn’t know a lot going into rushing into the situation that i came out smelling a little bit like smoke for in the end. i have a lot more compassion now, for him and for me and the situation itself. i thank god for that time with a little more ease now, and there’s nothing more about it i need to figure out or lesson that needs to be learned from it now. it was just something that happened. another story to tell. one day. maybe. i am finally letting myself off the hook for that one, though, and it’s about time. (by the way, the details i am talking about are not the ones you might be thinking about. i still don’t know if or when or how much of it to share, if i share it at all. i’m not trying to be vague, just cautious.)

in general, i’m becoming more patient with myself. with my recent health-stuff, i’m becoming nicer to me. at the end of my meeting this morning, the “mother” of my home-group hugged each of us, saying, “you’re so worth it”. and we are. i am. you are. we are worth kindness.

did you read jesus calling this morning? well, jesus called. he said to laugh more and stop taking ourselves so darn seriously. i needed to hear it, don’t you? good grief, i wear myself out – i literally wore myself out – thinking so much or trying to save everyone or striving so hard or thinking i’m so important. and it’s not that i’m not – it’s not that you’re not – but my one real job is just to show up each day. dukes down, palms up, arms open. not trying to figure anything out, but trusting there’s a plan and i won’t be left out of it. in fact, i might have more than a bit part to play if i just accept life on life’s terms. someone said that in a meeting yesterday, and i swear it was as if i was hearing it for the first time. i can’t believe i had forgotten this, one of the only true truths i really do know. life on life’s terms. just for today. so good. remember that today. xo

p.s. i recently read bittersweet by shauna niequist, so i just started following her blog because now i feel like we’re bff’s. in any case, it sounds like she’s in a similar place in her heart and soul, and i think you might like to read her story. xo

: : : : : : : : : :

Christians are no different from the rest in their nationality, language or customs. …They live in their own countries, but as sojourners. They fulfill all their duties as citizens, but they suffer as foreigners. They find their homeland wherever they are, but their homeland is not in any one place. …They are in the flesh, but do not live according to the flesh. They live on earth, but are citizens of heaven. They obey all laws, but they live at a level higher than that required by law. They love all, but all persecute them.

{Address to Diognetus, as printed in The History of the Church, vol. 1 by Justo L. Gonzalez}

blessed are.

I was sitting in a car shop yesterday and had further thoughts after re-reading my friend’s email. I can’t get more honest than I am in emails to my friends. I can’t share their experiences or stories, but I can share with you where my heart is right now, in this moment. Or yesterday’s. xo

I had another thought about what you said today when I was running…it goes along with my other thoughts, but I think I’m in the process of piecing together a bunch of little thoughts that will turn into either one big thought, kinda, or a bunch of small ones that mean something greater.

About this is “part of who, but not all of who, we are”…My experience at school, both as a student and as an employee…it’s part of who I am, but it’s not all of who I am…I am a student there. I work there. But there is so much more to me than that place…in fact, it’s just a place. Only a place. And the spirit of God is there, but there is also a weird Christian culture…really, it’s everywhere there are Christians, we just kind of create and carry this weird Christianeseyness that I just don’t know if it really looks and acts like Jesus or not…and all I want is Jesus. I love His people – our people, my brothers and sisters – but I don’t fit in to the weirdness. I got to a place in recent months that I didn’t know if I even believed or not. But my counselor helped me put words around the weirdness that I didn’t have a language for. It’s not God or His people I don’t believe in. Just the weirdness.

I’m a creative because God has created me to be creative, just as He Himself is Creator. I am – you all, we all are – a creative church, created by the Creator. Again, only part of who I am- but it’s a pretty major part, maybe even moreso than the place where I spend so much of my time. I sacrificed it – that is, my creativity- for the sake of finding myself in this culture where I don’t belong. And I’m not sad that I don’t fit into it. I have a place there, just as I am. I don’t have to strive to fit in any further and I’m not a commodity. None of us are. I must show up each day to bring what only I can bring to the table, and to not offer what I don’t have to give. And this is enough, and it is beautiful. And as important as it is to be a student now, and do my job as best I can, it’s also important that I feed my creative soul and my body whole and healthy foods.

I realize I rush around and feel like I’m going to run out of time, all the time. Or like I won’t have all that I need when I need it. Or like I might not ever see you ever again. I think I started living that way when my dad died. I didn’t realize this until recently. And we’re just not meant to live this way, it’s not how God intended. I miss seeing people when I live in scarcity. When I feel like I’m going to run out of everything. I don’t want to miss seeing people, or having real experiences. Like my little theater in college where he begged and pleaded with us to see each other and ourselves. To be present. To really, really live in and be in the moment and not sacrifice that moment for the next one, or treat as if we’re waiting on The Next Best Thing. When we got there, we knew it. And it was so, so beautiful. There were so many of those moments, ones that can’t be written about or maybe even remembered. We didn’t have Facebook or Instagram or Twitter then. We just got to be there, and live there, and have these beautiful, real-life moments where true vulnerability happened. We couldn’t share them with anyone who wasn’t present with us at that time, in those moments. The irony is not lost on me that it was called Little Theater at the time, my first year its’ last.

I’ve gotten a little bit hard and mean through all of this, but that’s all changing now, too. Others would say this isn’t true, but I feel like it is at least a little bit true of me. This isn’t years of build-up, just since I got here. I reverted to old mindsets and started hearing old tapes again. I’ve never really moved before, and this all might have been my experience had I stayed in NYC. When I got here, I guess I lost security within myself and my sense of being. Karen calls it “living from your Spirit”, and I think it’s really been a long time since I’ve done that, truly. Honestly, if that’s the case, then it’s been about 2 1/2 years, really. When I gave up my voice and started living -striving- from the outside, trying to figure everything out instead of knowing on the inside that I know what I don’t know and a tiny bit about what I do, and that all of it is Good. Karen said it would take this long. Made me mad at the time. I get it now.

So that’s what I’m coming back to now, 18 months after coming out here. Remembering who I am, even as I re-discover who I am and also as I evolve into more of who I am. Who I am now, at this point in my life. In a lot of ways, I’m the me I’ve always been. In a lot of ways, I’ve grown up a lot and care less about things I used to think were so important that just aren’t. I’ll be 37 on my next birthday.

I was eating berries this afternoon, from a bowl and with a spoon instead of out of the carton. That is, I was intentional about eating food that was nourishing and good for me. I said to God, “I love these delicious berries. Thank you for creating fruit, God. You did good.” And then a few seconds later, I thought, “If I feel like life is always a fight, then I will keep my gloves on. But if I embrace life like this fruit, so beautiful and delicious and good for me, then my heart will live in abundance and not scarcity. It’s time to take the gloves off now.” It is easier to enjoy fruit without my gloves on.

I have learned all of this before, but I feel as though I’m learning it all for the first time. And maybe I am, in a way. Or like I’m learning it anew in this place where I am now.

Part of, but not all. I was really thinking about it at the gym.

The fact that you are seeking this means you are already living it.

Yes, my friend. That is the thing. That is what it means to be poor in spirit. You aren’t wrong about this. To know that we don’t know, and to press in and seek and wrestle til we know even more that we still don’t know but maybe we’ve become softer to God and more sensitive to others. To be poor in spirit frees, alternating between tears and laughter or both at the same time, the best time of all. The hospital, seeing the Big Picture, just like you said. Discovering one step at a time our role in it. Hospital, not the Super Bowl. Right now, in this moment.

Thank you for what you said about people loving me. Again, I sort of started believing again that I was a burden and so I’ve acted like that’s what I believe, living life as one big apology instead of with the inherent knowledge that I really am enough and all I will ever be is enough. Not too much, and not not enough. Just right. Like a bowl of porridge. I am, you are, porridge. I’m remembering again that this is the truth, that there are people who really love me like I love them. And neither of us are burdens. Isn’t it funny how we see one another in such sweet light, but not ourselves?

I don’t think Jesus asks us to be perfect because He doesn’t need for us to be. I think He just wants us to be broken and to trust Him. He knows we can’t be perfect, but wants us to know that He is, and we almost are because we look like Him. Such a strange and simple and beautiful mystery, what we believe. I think our job is just to love Him and let Him love us and love others, with all that we have even if it’s not much and especially if it’s too much. Sloppy, messy, lavish, too much love is still better than not loving enough. I think we just get to show up each day with courage and trust, with whatever it is we have to offer, knowing that God delights in us no matter what. We’re meant to enjoy life a lot more than we -I- do. I think that’s part of the deal, too. To not wait for Life, but to create space for Life, pursuing Life and inviting Life in, and allowing Life to happen.

Just more thoughts after reading your thoughts again. Thank you for sharing with me, and for doing all of this with me.

xo

scraps from the table.

i received one of the most honest emails earlier this week in response to one i had sent…which was in response to one this person had sent…

i was going to tell all of you this, too, and realized i may as well just tell it to you in the way i told it to this person, unfiltered.

this is what i learned this week, where i ended up.

love you guys. xo

i have been loving your words all week, not even sure how to respond or contribute or participate in the conversation. yes to all of it. the Super Bowl…yes…i never lived in a fantasy. some days i wanted to, but have known since i was 13 that my life was marked by sadness and trust. that was when everything changed, when i found out sitting on my sister’s twin bed about my dad.

you’ll appreciate that in therapy this week, i realized two things: one, i was reminded how good therapy is for me. i’m an external processor, either in person or in writing. i’ll get caught on something, or trip over it. i’ll start on it, and then talk about it -a therapist asks good questions- until i come up with the discovery i was always trying to make through whatever the issue. and so, two, the discovery i made this week in talking about whatever the thing was, is that i don’t know when, not sure if it’s important, but i stopped asking for help. i don’t ask for what i need or state what i want. i stopped advocating for myself.

there are several reasons for this. one being, that in some weird christian culture, we are taught to just be “humble” and “serve” and that gets blurred and lines get crossed because somehow we are taught to just “trust god” and it comes at the expense of being hurt and then becoming angry. we are taught, basically, not to be needy or even have needs because “god will provide”. and he does, certainly. but i believe that we are meant to need each other, and that you might have what i need or i might be able to provide something that she needs. or we could at least help guide each other.

over the last year, i was so busy “serving” that i fell apart. i should have been gluten-free since high school. i should have asked people to modify my dinner, or not eaten that candy bar just because i wanted it and was feeling emotional or that biscuit because someone brought it to me as a gift and i didn’t have the heart, nor did i want to, say “no”. i didn’t advocate for myself because – and this is the thing – i haven’t valued myself enough. and that is our biggest sin. that, in our pride, we don’t value who we are as children of god. that we don’t love god enough in us, or we think we’re the one child he doesn’t love like all the others, and so we just ignore our needs. we become destitute and isolate, though. and then who are we serving at all? and this is what i became in the last year. not taking care of myself, being responsible for my temple – my emotional, mental, physical well-being – and i now know that i must be my own advocate. to know that god has made me worthy, and only god makes me worthy, but because of this i am allowed to – i must – ask for what i need, and take care of myself accordingly.

hospital, not the Super Bowl. my friend brennan manning used to say, “church should look more like aa.” like a hospital. a place where people who know they are broken go for hope. if they get fixed, even better. but at least a place where they know hope for wellness might be offered. and i don’t mean church, the building. we are the church, built and designed to love and care for and take care of each other. to offer up our need because we’re all in this together, either faking it or making it, and we can all do something for each other and better by each other. it all really boils down to love and doing life together. we’re not islands, but we -i- act like i am. it just doesn’t work. i’ve really learned that first-hand this year. i’m still exhausted, but recovering slowly and not beating myself up in the process.

looking back now, i realize that during my drinking days, and this is what i tell people now – i didn’t know how loved i was. i knew god loved me, but i didn’t know just how loved i was. and so i acted out because i felt unloved, and unlovable. i didn’t care for myself because no one cared for me. this, of course, wasn’t true. but i blamed and victimized…i wanted someone else to take care of and make decisions for me. and now, how that is playing out now, i know my life is my responsibility, but i have been negligent. i’m being pro-active now, an active participant again.

someone said to me yesterday, “and then i loved him” -but, the thing is, i can only love god back within the context that i understand his love for me. i can only be in love with him as much as i know he is in love with me. through whatever filter i know his love to be “true” is the filter through which i experience and respond to his love. if i see him as mad at me or disappointed or myself as a burden, then i will respond to god as if these are true things. if i know in my bones that he loves me, without measure or condition, that he is good and kind and generous and owns all of everything in the world, that i am his daughter and i belong to him…then i know i have value and i understand better my worth, and i respect others’ worth better, too. i love better and treat myself with kindness. any amount of love i show to god is only in direct response to the measure i know his love for me.

he’s telling me through all of this now, teaching me how to ask him for what i want, to tell him what i need. to tell others, if that’s what it means. in any case, to be my own advocate and know that i’m loved and that he has it to give, all of it. everything. my soul isn’t meant to live in depravity, either in relationships or all of life. but i must be the one to feed myself, whatever that means. today, it means i Skyped for a long time with my little people and responded to your email and another friend, and there’s another one i will respond to later. it means i juice green things, and eat fresh berries because they are just so delicious. it means i will close up this computer and go for a run, take zella for a walk, and then get over to the free second saturday at a museum where, sadly, i haven’t yet been. it means going to get a car repair that i can’t actually afford, but i must be pro-active. and then going to church and then hunkering down with my books and pounding out 3-week late answers for my class. thank god that i have a kind and compassionate and gracious teacher.

by the way, i will be addressing my ADD in therapy this summer. my counselor told me to get a hold of dan amen’s book, “healing ADD” – my mom and sister had just ordered his collection when i got home, so my mom has sent all of his material to me. my counselor is going to read the book with me. i was diagnosed in college, but lived all of my life until then undiagnosed, and never was treated for it again after college. wonder how it will change my life to learn coping skills for it now. he thinks my depression is largely linked to this, in addition to the whole thyroid thing.

what i’m learning is, i’m not just here to serve others. not in the way i become a doormat and just hope that i’m fed somehow. i have found myself eating scraps from the table again, and that’s just not god’s way. we all have a place at the table, and i don’t have to fight for mine or squeeze in wherever i fit. the table is big enough for us all, and there is plenty there for all to have and none will go hungry. but we have to respond to the invitation to come and sit and enjoy the feast of life, and choose not to accept the lie that all that’s left for me is scraps. i learned a long time ago, when i went to family rehab with my dad, that i have to take care of myself first before i take care of anyone else. that is, in order to take care of anyone else. the changes i’m making now are lifestyle changes. my schedule will be the same in the fall: work and school. our students come back, so i will be busier in the day, but my lifestyle will not have to change. so i’m not amping up this summer just to let it all go in the fall.

therapy and aa teaches me to speak in “i/me” language, but i feel like it sounds so self-absorbed in response to your email, or anyone’s. i’m in agreement with all that you said, whole-heartedly. whole-heartedly…have you read anything by brene brown? read daring greatly.

i love you. i appreciate knowing we’re the same, you and i. i’m both sorry and grateful for what you had to go through to get there. you are one of my life’s greatest and best teachers. thank you for being open and honest and sharing with me. your stuff is my stuff, and i will hold it with you. thank you for holding mine, too.

xoxoxo

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