Tag Archives: personal

Poisoned Medicine

I had an experience yesterday. One of those moments of clarity where suddenly you understand it all and you don’t know how you could have missed it. Those moments are beautiful and wonderful and an essential part of growth. They also come with a challenge – you can not experience truth without acting on it. At least, if you want to continue to be healthy and grow you must act on it.

I’ve known for years that I’m messed up – my history left me broken and crippled and I’ve got a list of maladaptive behaviours and destructive coping mechanisms. These were things I needed to survive and adopted because I didn’t see any other option. Slowly, painfully, with the support of people who love me I’ve been untangling them, healing, learning, growing. Over the last few years I’ve become more than just a result of my past. It’s been exciting and difficult and frightening and exhausting.

One of the lingering things has been my difficulty with vulnerability. This can be seen in a lot of ways, but the one that is relevant here is my difficulty being vulnerable, being authentic. I can give information – even information about me, about my experiences, about what happened, how I felt in the past – but it’s so much more difficult for me to give myself. It’s hard for me to share how I am feeling right now, to admit my needs, to accept help, to show my weak points. It comes because in my experience, feeling “safe” is just another opportunity to be hurt, to be taken advantage of. Safety is another sort of vulnerability.

This has made friendships and relationships really difficult for me – I tend to either keep people out or get too close. I’m awkward and needy or I’m stand-offish and superior. If something is wrong I wall myself in or I lean on one person so hard I’m shocked they don’t break. I was vaguely aware that this was a problem and wasn’t good and was probably something I should work on, but yesterday in that moment of clarity, I understood.

I was scared of authentic intimacy, so I was content with creating false intimacy. I was happy living with counterfeit closeness – situations where I was in control and felt people didn’t know me as well as they thought they did, or at least not well enough to hurt me (not that it actually kept me from being hurt in relationships). I needed intimacy – closeness and friendships and to share like that – but I was getting a tainted version of it. Poisoned medicine in place of what my soul really needed.

So last night with a group of friends I confessed. I confessed how hard it is for me to be honest, how hard it was for me to feel comfortable and safe with them – even though I’ve known them and respected them and been “close” with them for years. I cried. They understood. On the outside I’m sure it was no big deal at all – what person hasn’t been insecure or had difficulty opening up –  but on the inside, I am changed. That’s one more piece of my soul that’s been set right, put back together, made whole.

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Abundance

A common theme in conversations and thoughts and in my heart and soul for the past few months has been abundance – abundant life and living in the Kingdom and all the good that we’re supposed to experience – now and for eternity.

What I’ve come to realize is that I don’t understand this concept at all. When I’m feeling cynical I blame it on the traditions I’ve been raised in and the culture of fear and shame that Christianity sometimes creates – how can I believe I can live abundant life when it’s so clear that I fail God over and over again, when I am obviously still a slave to sin, when I’m supposed to be humble and patient and gentle, when I’m reminded over and over again that I’m one choice away from losing my salvation.

When I’m in a more honest mood I can admit that my inability to understand abundance comes from fear. What if I’m not really saved, what if the promise of abundant life isn’t really for me. What if I am weeds and goats and bad trees. I don’t live in the Kingdom because I’m still scared that I don’t belong in the Kingdom.

The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.

Luke 14:15-24 has been in my head a lot. There’s layers of truth there, but the one that most often sticks out at me is the truth that I *don’t* belong in the kingdom. The banquet wasn’t prepared for me. I wasn’t invited based on my accomplishments or achievements or honour or status. Yet I am welcome. More than welcome, I am compelled. And there is still room for more.

I don’t need to hoard or hide away the good in my life. I don’t need to be afraid that any minute it could all turn to dust. I don’t need to be scared of being found out – and I don’t need to put on airs to try and fit in somewhere I don’t belong. I do belong, both as I am and as I am being transformed to be. There is no limit to GOd’s grace ,not for me and not for anyone around me. I can share it – all the oy and excitement and wonder and awe and blessings and good and mystery and everything else. I can share my questions and my (mis)understandings. I can share my strengths and my weaknesses. I can share my self and my time and above all I can share love. There is no limit to the love that I can share to those around me, in whatever form they are open to receiving it.

To live abundant life is to live knowing that there is more – more joy and love and wonder and more of God to know and experience and be in awe of. To know there is more and to be aware and experiencing what is in each moment. I still know that I don’t really understand the concept, but I’m trying.

Pain and Fear

Here’s the thing about chronic pain – or at least how I’ve experience chronic pain – it’s sneaky. It’s like a slow leak, just under the radar, slowly draining my energy and my patience and my ability to handle life. It’s not enough to keep me down, just enough to be there in he back of my mind. The human brain is an amazing thing and as long as I keep busy and have something to focus on, it’s almost like the pain isn’t there. Almost. I ignore the extra work it takes to stand up, or the slight limp because my muscles are so tense. I don’t dwell on how it keeps me up at night because I just can’t get comfortable no matter what. I push it to the back of my mind until I almost forget about it. Almost.

Part of me doesn’t think I have the right to tell people about my pain, or to give myself any sort of pass for needing extra support when I manage it. I sort of feel responsible for my pain – because I haven’t treated it, because I haven’t talked to my doctor. Obviously if I was really that bad I’d see my doctor or take something, and I don’t. So if I’m not going to fix the problem I have to live with the problem, I have to accept it. I can’t let it affect my life, or at the very least I can’t let it affect the lives of the people around me.

Most of the time I fail at that goal.

I fail to have patience with my kids. I fail to get everything done I want to. I fail to be a good friend. I fail to be there when people need me. I fail as a wife and a mother and a friend. I fail to be a productive member of society.

So why don’t I just get it treated?

The obvious choice with pain is to take pain relievers and get on with life. But those don’t work for me – taking enough to take the edge off the pain leaves me with that sluggish dopey feeling. At least through the pain I can still be up and moving, can still carry on a conversation, can still drive.

So why haven’t I talked to a doctor about the cause?

That’s been my struggle for the last month. After almost a year of issues and 6 months acknowledging the pain, I am trying to get treatment. I’ve gotten bloodwork done, but I didn’t tell my doctor about the pain – he’s already been dismissive of my issues and the day I was in to see him was so abrupt and short with me I already felt bad for wasting his time. Plus I don’t want him in my bits – pelvic pain is something that needs a certain level of rapport and he just doesn’t have it. I have plans to get into the clinic next month.

But the real reason? I’m scared. I’m scared of what it is – even though I don’t have bleeding or discharge or any other symptom besides the pain, I worry it’s more serious than just a pain issue. I worry treatment will involve drugs and surgery and risks. I’m a rational person, I’m aware that if it is cancer delaying treatment will only make it worse, but I’m still terrified.

I’m also terrified there won’t be a cause – that it’s not really there at all, that it’s all in my head. I’m scared that my body is perfectly healthy and there’s no medical reason that I fail at everything. Maybe I just can’t handle life.

Pain is sneaky – it doesn’t just affect your body, it affects your mind, your relationships, your sense of self.

Fighting Grace

I was struck last night by a thought. I’m not completely sure where it came from, but it was there, clear as day.

One of the most common and constant struggles for those who believe is the concept of grace.

How bizarre is that? We who are saved and called sons and daughters of the Most High God struggle with the truth of our identity, with the reality of our salvation. I think if most of us were in the garden, the serpent wouldn’t ask “did God really say” but instead “are you really saved?”

There are different theologies of salvation, of course, each one with it’s own focus, with it’s own slant, giving us as individuals differing degrees of responsibility and agency when it comes to our salvation. I’m not really talking about theology here though, I’m talking about the day to day living out that salvation – and how often we question this overwhelming grace that covers us.

Human nature looks for boundaries and limits and wants to know where the lines are. Human doubt then analyses and wonders if we’ve crossed those lines, and how many times, and how we’ve made up for it or grown or turned back or moved on. All with lip service to the God of all who is the beginning and the end, who knows all things and has saved us by his great love through sending his son.

Grace. Even for us.

Slowing down.

I’ve had sick kids the last few days. Sick kids means kids at home, means time spent getting water and fixing blankets and cuddling up on the couch. It’s wonderful, but at the back of my mind I’m still aware of the chores and the to do lists and the things I had planned to get done that just don’t seem to happen when there are kids in the house.

I admit I don’t always make the best nurse in these times. I tend to get anxious about what isn’t happening. I feel frustrated and put upon and am constantly going through the lists in my head and trying to figure out how to shuffle things around so it will all get done.

I tried a different approach this time. I cleared my schedule. I sat on the couch with my daughter’s head in my lap. I nurtured her. I played games with my son and we laughed together. I took a breath, I let go of the lists and I experienced life as it was.

I’ve been reading more about slowing down. From blogs by busy moms to a book about worship to the story of Mary sitting at Jesus’ feet to Jesus himself taking time away from the crowds. Changing my mind from seeing “quiet time” as another thing to add to my list to realizing it means being in the moment, being present where I am and finding the quiet there, the lessons, the whispers of the Spirit, the refreshing of my soul.

Fresh

I’m tying to put together words to make sense of all of the things going on in my head. Generally this is an easy process for me, but today, it’s not. There’s too many ways of looking at it and I’m not sure just where this is going, so forgive me if it comes out a bit disjointed.

For most of my life I have believed things about myself that were not true. Those beliefs affected my actions and my relationships and the way I saw the world around me. Even with healing and therapy and good, strong, healthy connections to people I still struggled with this internal world. At my best I felt slightly less than that others thought I was. At my worst I felt….awful.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1

No matter how many times I read that verse, I couldn’t believe it was true for me, because I kept proving to myself that it wasn’t. That I was still broken and marked and cursed and awful. I hoped that some day I could do better, or at the very least that the grace of God would stretch that far.

What can wash away my sin
Nothing but the blood of Jesus
What can make me whole again
Nothing but the blood of Jesus

When we think of washing, of being cleansed, there’s this sense of taking away what is bad and wrong, removing the corruption, But people don’t work like that. There’s consequences and effects and bits of us that change. As good as it is to think about instant cleansing and everything going back to perfection, that’s not how people work. We remember, we build habits and beliefs and hold on to things, even when we know better.

That’s why I like the imagery of the blood of Christ. It covers our sin. It doesn’t matter about the lingering marks because they are covered, filled in, owned and taken care of. There is no condemnation for me from God because God sees only the blood of Christ. There is no condemnation because I am filled in and made whole, and those bits of me that were wrong – the habits and thoughts and actions all influenced by years of holding onto lies – those are being changed. I am being made new, day by day, growing and getting better. Even in the process, even when I struggle and fall back on old habits, I am still covered and under the blood of Christ.

As the world turns

It’s a funny thing to think about live moving around me. A few years ago I was sick. Not quite bedridden for months. My husband was amazing and stepped in, taking responsibility for meals and groceries and laundry and bedtime routines for the kids. My biggest responsibility was to keep the kids fed and safe while he was at school every day, and to keep an eye on our finances to make sure everything got covered. I struggled a lot during that time realizing that he could do it without me – a realization that came back in a bad way a couple years ago. I was struggling with crippling depression and for a time I thought my family would do better without me. I trusted he could take care of them, of himself, of everything without the extra burden of dealing with my sadness and lethargy and needyness.

It’s hard to find your place in the world when confronted with the fact that it functions fine without you.

On the other extreme, I tend to have an overblown sense of responsibility. Generally I blame it on my mother, but really I know that’s a cop out. When I’m in charge of something to any degree, I get insecure. I want people to like me, and so if I am in any way able to make someone’s experience better and I don’t, then it’s on me and my fault. This leads to a lot of pressure I place on myself and a lot of guilt. It also makes it nearly impossible to take constructive criticism in the way it’s intended.

Yesterday my husband reminded me the extreme reaction I have is in part because of a position I was in years ago. One of those things I thought I’d moved past but apparently is still lingering in the background. He told me this after I called him home from work because I was crying and couldn’t stop and I knew I was over-reacting but couldn’t make it all make sense. I forget sometimes that there’s other things to consider – experiences and thoughts and habits and wounds and countless other bits and pieces that make me who I am.

So what’s to do then? Being involved and part of things is important. I need to be connected to stay healthy, to exercise my gifts and to serve the people around me. Part of things, but not too big a part, or the weight of it crushes me and I somehow believe it all comes down to me, that i am the most crucial element.

How quickly my pride moves from one extreme to the other.

I’m taking some time now to get some perspective. To step back and observe and see what happens. A reminder that the world still turns, and a chance to see where there’s a spot for me to fit into it. The right spot where I’ll fit and feel comfortable and not be crushed by my own expectations.