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Posts Tagged ‘pain’

I often use the phrase, “I’m working on it” when referring to my heart. I am learning that in reality I use this phrase as a shield to guard against actually having to confront my messy heart.

I used this phrase recently, and afterward I had to ask myself the question, “am I really working on it?” I can play this card as a safeguard – as if saying, “I’m working on it” lets me off the hook for responding out of my fears. By hiding behind “working on it,” I give my fears permission to take root in me.

The reality is that our mess is really hard to work on. It takes courage to confront our own hearts. My heart resembles a crater field after the dust has settled from battle. It displays the wounds of life. I have craters with other people’s names on them. I also have holes that echo the natural consequences of my unwise decisions. I get overwhelmed when staring at all the craters in my heart. I have also experienced seasons of ignoring my wounds and walking away to find comfort elsewhere.

The false advertising of life is that pursuing comfort elsewhere does not add wounds to the already broken heart.

As the wounds of my heart run deep, they manifest in different masked ways. If feels scary to confront them. Saying it out loud makes them more real.

The foundation of my crater field happened in high school when the affair of my father came out. The news shattered my world and brought on a deep level of pain I never knew could be reached. This grief sowed seeds of real fear in the core of my heart. These seeds manifest themselves in ways I am aware of as well as in ways I am still learning to identify.

I struggle with abandonment in paralyzing and infuriating ways. I guard my heart so tight that pain can’t find a way in. This fear paralyzes me from taking risks to experience real life and real intimacy.

I also fear being replaced all the time. I fear intimacy as it forces me into places that require the risk of being vulnerable and my heart exposed. I fear being a “meantime” friend as if it were only a matter of time before my friends find someone better than me. I am not using “better” in a prideful way, but voicing my deep insecurity that keeps my heart on lock down. I hate the nagging feeling of always holding my breath in waiting. I even imagine, and play out in my head, being left by the other person as a way to prepare myself for pain. By actively staying in this place of fear, I voluntarily place the shackles on my life of being enslaved to those fears.

I hate this long standing pattern of life for me. God has already done a ton of healing in me. I can honestly say that I am more whole than I used to be. It is a conscious effort to choose to trust people. I am trying to get used to sitting in a place of discomfort and lack of control. That place is terrifying for me.

There’s still the question of what if someone did decide to leave? This is a real possibility. I still grieve the loss of some really close friendships. It is even more of a possibility as our culture moves further away from commitment.

God is my redeemer. He promises that he “began a good work in me and carries it on to completion.” I have now edited my comfort phrase from “I’m working on it” to “He’s working on me.” I cannot heal my own heart. God is gentle as he waits for me to surrender my white flag to him. God has been redirecting my life out of the desert. I have spent too many weeks/months/years living life there.

Instead of adding bricks to the Great Wall of me, I desire to begin surrendering myself to him. Hillsong has a great song with lyrics that state,“rid me of myself, I belong to you…lead me to the cross.” This is my hard prayer to pray.

What are you “working on?”

How is He working on you?

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Some people say we should “get back to the basics.” What about just getting back to the simple?

Tonight, I have been so grateful for simple. There is just something so rich and so sweet about simple.

Tonight, I went to a church I enjoy in my hometown. It meets in this old and very small church building. Stain glass windows lined the walls. Wooden pews creaked with the sounds of old worship.

Sometimes you just need to get back to the simple.

Life gets busy and loud. So many church buildings streamline worship through the wires of amplifiers and new technology. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some good music that blares through electric guitars and drums, but I also love a rich voice.

There are seasons where everything seems loud. Life is  loud through the sounds pain, frustration, grief, busy-ness, demands, self-pursuit, the battle  of lies, and even the echos of silent waiting.

This is where I find myself. I am in a season of hard. Hard has just been loud. I am exhausted. Tonight, I closed my eyes and just listened. The smell of an old musty church was balm for my heart.

Sometimes you just need an acoustic version of life. Sometimes church just needs to be unplugged. 

It was the sound of one voice, and one guitar that softened my heart. It was all of our voices just singing together off key to an old projector that made me smile deep. More than anything, it was speaking the truth together as we broke the bread of communion that was honey to my soul.

Tonight, the simplicity of God was redeemed for me a little. The bruised reed of this heart just needed some simple, and some peace passed my way.

As you start your week. I encourage you to get back to the simple.

What ways can you the simplicity of God this week?

What do you long to be redeemed for/in you?

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“All People suffer loss. All loses are bad, only bad in different ways. No two loses are ever the same. Each loss stands on it’s own and inflicts a unique kind of pain.”

– Jerry Sittser

No one can escape experiencing loss in their life. It is inevitable. Life is tethered to joy and sorrow. Every season has its own felt grief.

The truth about loss is that it’s not comparable. 

I experienced loss within my family structure. My parents separated and divorced when I was a Junior in high school. That year changed my life. My father made the choice to end a marriage with my mother and move on to another woman.

His choices changed my life forever. I not only lost a cohesive family unit, but I lost an every day father and parent. I lost my self-worth and security. I lost stability and sureties that I once knew. Fears were real; they flooded my life and identity.

Death and divorce have shared feelings and responses. They have a kind of sisterhood of effects. I write in depth about these subtle differences in a chapter I wrote for “Inciting Incidents.”

Divorce is hard in that it is not a death. It carries the same created voids as death, but divorce has no closure like a death. Divorce carries the weight of rejection in loss. I felt a lot of rejection in that someone else was chosen over me. My value felt rejected. Divorce says, “Sorry, not you.” I felt given up on. There is also a unique sting in rejection in that it is not a mutual decision. Both experiences come with an extreme sense of loss. However, the difference being that death is involuntary and divorce is a decision. There is an end point with death, but divorce marks the death of a relationship.

The pain of rejection is hard to find words for. Without being able to articulate my thoughts and feelings at the time, I found myself in a deep season of grieving, mourning the loss of everything I had known to be normal. I was not sure how to carry on. I was not sure what life was supposed to look like after that night. I found myself battling depression. I slept as often I as I could. I skipped a lot of school, as studying seemed pointless. I had trouble relating to my friends. I mourned the days where I just worried about which boy I liked, passing notes in the hallway, playing sports, and negotiating curfew times.

This kind of emotional conflict was so new to me, that it consumed my heart and I did not know how to deal with it. I am not talking about trivial arguments or getting into fights. I am talking about deep conflict where things just don’t feel like they make sense. I had so many questions that had no answers. How do families dissolve? How does that much deception go unnoticed? How do I even begin to think about forgiveness in the midst of such real pain?”

Grief steam rolls through our life. Pain matters. It is real, every ounce of it. To read more of my story check it out HERE!

How have you experienced grief in you life?

How have you handled loss in your life?

 

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Hard To Healing

I am not a person who heals well. I have scars and weak tenants from not taking the time to heal.

I have been a very active person my entire life. I grew up playing on two to three sports teams every season. I would play hard. This often led to injuries.

I have sprained just about everything. My ankles are the worst. I hated rolling my ankles. I would be running fast, step or land a wrong,  and POP! I would get so ticked!

Our body needs a good six weeks or longer to heal from sprains and breaks. I always thought that was a strong suggestive time frame instead of a necessity. I usually was back on my game in two to three weeks.

I often wondered why I would reinjure myself so fast. I wondered why the body pain I felt would come on stronger and faster each time. You think after the second or third roll I would learn…Nope!

Sitting here now, years later, I can feel the places that have not properly healed.

I wonder if I would be stronger had I just taken the time to heal.

This is true for my heart as well. So often I do not take the time to feel and heal through hardships, wounds, and pain. So often I just move on, but yet wonder why my tears and frustrations would come on stronger and faster each circumstance.

Band aide management was my survival skill of choice. Band aide management is when we just use a quick fix, or temporary patch work method, to cover the pain. This does not work.

Band aides do not work if you need stitches. Infections happen if wounds are not cleansed.

Healing takes time. It takes committing to the hard to get to the healing.

When I was in private practice, I had numerous “short-term” clients who would decide not to return when the process started to get to hard.

Sometimes within the process of healing, life can feel like it is getting worse before it starts to get better.

There is pain when wounds are reopened. You have to rip off the band aide so that healing can begin. All pain, wounds, and breaks have the necessity of proper care, not just strong suggestions.

Healing needs time. I am NOT saying, “time heals all wounds,” because a lot of time can pass, but that does not mean any work was done.

I am saying that healing, of any kind, takes participation in the hard to get to the healing. That is no small or short-term process.

Healing takes commitment.

How are you with working through the hard to get to the healing?

 

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Wow. What a week.

My heart and head are still trying to catch up with each other, not to mention my emotions.

The Catalyst Conference rocks me every year. There is just a great mixture of meeting great people, and content to marinate on. This year was packed with more people then content, but the marinating is still ensuing.

This year’s theme for Catalyst was Be Present.

This is a concept that is becoming more and more of a foreign in our world. Present is a segment of time, yet we don’t treat it as such. We are addicted to the “what’s next” in every area of life. We are addicted to what is presently happening in everyone else’s life.

We are constantly looking, searching, and trying to find.

I am learning just how much my heart has been begging me to be present with what is just going on inside of me. Our emotions have a way of keeping our hearts tethered to the present. I know I can’t out feel my heart. She does not go away.

I am in the midst of a huge transition. (more to come). I feel winded in the deepest of ways. So many times during the conference I felt the deep beginnings of surfacing sobs. My hearts way of beckoning me.

Being present takes surrendering; even when it comes to the heart.

So I stood surrendered and the tears flowed. You see, being present with our hearts enables the ability to know where we are, which enables the reality of where God is and wants to be.

Being present with our hearts enables the pain to be real and felt. Choosing to be surrendered to the present state of our hearts allows our body to exhale from the breath we’ve been holding tight; even if the tears follow fast.

Surrendering to the presence of my own heart has highlighted the areas of silenced ache in me. I see so much room for the healer and comforter that was blocked by my own survival skills. He is patient and waiting.

Surrendering does not mean it’s all just easier. It’s honestly harder before it gets better. We are made to feel. We are wired for a healer.

Being present is watching with the hope of one day’s renewing, and breathing through right now’s exhaustion and pain.

What does it look like for you to be present with your own heart?

What blocks you from being present?

 

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Have you ever had one of those days where life is good? Have you experienced those days where you have a smile on your face and joy is not scarce? Ever felt like life was going great and that you finally hit a good stride, when something happens. In the middle of your good time of life, you get that dreaded phone call, or read that unwanted email that changes everything. Maybe you might’ve heard those stomach grabbing words of, “I have to tell you something, or I need to talk to you.” In one instant you lose that seemingly solid ground of good life.

I have been reading and rereading the story of Abraham and Isaac. Abraham was in one of those great places in life. He was finally in a place where life felt good and was making sense. Abraham had a great relationship with his wife, and Sara was loving life finally being able to be a mother. Abraham finally had a son in his old age, and was excited that he could say he still “had it.” Isaac was the promise God talked about as the new convanent. Life was making sense. Life was good.

One afternoon, God called to Abraham. Abraham answered back presently as he always did. But God had a request that changed everything. God told Abraham to take is son, his beloved son, and go up to the mountain of Moriah and sacrifice him.

I can picture Abraham’s heart sinking. I can imagine his head lowering slowly as the joy he had finally gotten to know, disappearing in a matter of seconds. Life changed in an instant. Joy turned to unknown sorrow. I wonder if Sara caught a glimpse of her husband’s demeanor change as she washed clothes that day.

Abraham obeyed. The next morning, he gathered up wood, packed his donkey, grabbed two servants and Isaac, and left.

Scripture states that it was a three day journey up to the place God had instructed. I am sitting here trying to imagine the tears and pleads Abraham must’ve had with God in those sleepless nights. Did he sit next to his son, staring at his face, while Isaac slept by the fire? What would he tell Sara? How could he come home Isaac-less to a woman who had been hoping for him her whole life?

Abraham felt every step taken on that journey. Each step filled with more heaviness and grief as Moriah appeared. I wonder if He tried bargaining with God for his son. I wonder if he sent everyone else a head while he wept, or maybe walked with clenched fists.

They finally reached the place God had instructed Abraham to go. He told the servants to stay back while he went up to worship. Abraham loaded Isaac up with the wood and they began walking. Abraham then built the alter with the wood. Against every part of his being, he grabbed and bound up his beloved son and placed him on top of the wood. Eyes filled with pain and tears, he raised his dagger to fulfill the request of his master.

In that moment God yelled out, “Abraham! Abraham!” At this point I think I would’ve puked. I would’ve dropped to my knees with sobs of thankfulness unable to even answer. Abraham’s heart was broken in obedience never to be the same after that day.

God provided the sacrifice needed. That day Abraham became even more of the man whose faith was “credited to him as righteous.”

God calls us into a life of obedience and sacrifice. The things he is asking us to offer are painful and full of grief. God will always fight for his rightful place in our lives. God asks for our prized possessions and our most beloved things. He will most often ask for them when we are not ready to give them up.

Abraham did not understand the request for Isaac, but he obeyed and trusted God. Abraham felt every part of sacrificing Isaac. As hard as it was  to give up Isaac, Abraham called it worship. Even though Isaac was given back to Abraham, I bet he never looked at Isaac the same way. Isaac had become his living sacrifice. It required everything from Abraham. This truth is no different for us. Sacrificing is hard, but worth God being where he needs to be.

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I have been marinating for quite some time on the truth about God’s will. We all seem to ask life questions that revolve around God’s will. I have said a number of times that “I want to be in God’s will.

I have been working on shifting my perspective from a “do-mentality” to a “who-mentality.”

Jesus was constantly redefining this mentality in the people around him. Jesus repeatedly talked about the father’s will being belief in him. We are in God’s will when we believe in his truth and follow after him.

For me, there is also a second chapter that goes with this mentality shift.

I feel like there are times in my life when I treat God like the easy-button from the Staples commercial. One press of the button and I should have what I need.

I will admit that there are times where I feel like because I am a Christian, nothing bad should happen. It’s like all of a sudden because I accepted Christ, I should be filled only with an abundance of success, stress-less life, no heartache, no pain, no sorrow, no hardship, and even no trials. Let’s just be honest… that’s called entitlement.

What does the easy-button Jesus have to do with life and believing?

As I have been reading in John this time around, it has been in my face how much Jesus had no easy-button life. Jesus was hated by many, ridiculed by his own family, challenged constantly, dismissed every other second, laughed at, scorned, beaten, and killed for being IN the father’s will.

Jesus himself knew the truth of his own statement when he said, “in this world you will have trouble; take heart, I have overcome the world.”

Why should I think my life is exempt from any of that trouble? I have heard a great response to the question, “why me?” The truth is, “why not me?

I hear tons of heart-breaking life stories all the time and I always find myself asking, “how would you even get through this without God?

That is the point. When we believe, it doesn’t change the world and it’s troubles, but it changes who we are in those same troubles.

What is God’s will? It is to believe in the one he has sent. He has no easy-button benefits.

How is God an easy-button for you?

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