Thursday, December 18, 2014

Hope for this Pessimist

I have been reflecting a lot these last few weeks. I am doing a Bible study that has opened my eyes a bit more to who I am, who I have been. The constructive thinking it provoked has lead me to some "conclusions."

I hate to admit it but I am secretly a pessimist. I think of the negative first, I worry about so many things I can not change. I am afraid, often. I was not always like this; at least I don't think I was. The only person who would really know, who has seen me through the last 7 years on a daily basis would be Matthew. Which brings me to the point of this post...

Matthew Alan, you are the most incredible man. 

I think back on all that we have been through together.
It has been...busy. I can't help but want to say, "I'm sorry." I was a broken woman for so many of those years. I still am. Even if no one else knew it, you did. You were there daily. You loved me daily. You encouraged me that life would be okay. You heard my negative thoughts and worries (over and over again) but always challenged me to think of the brighter side. Often you reminded me that a brighter side still existed. You held me when I cried, fought with me when I needed a good argument and lived out your love for me through everything. 

We are a messy pair, you & I. Yet you should know that you are the most important & valuable person in my life. You are my strength, comfort and leader. 

You are my biggest blessing. 

Thank you for being stubborn because that same stubbornness challenged my shadows, the quiet consuming whispers. 
Thank you for always dreaming big, having hope, looking forward to the future and including me in it. Thank you for sharing in the joys. We both know who and what they are. 
Thank you for working on us in good and bad; not running away, not hiding. Thank you for sharing hurt and disappointment with me. We are stronger because of the struggle. 

7 years together, 6 years of marriage.  It feels like a lifetime and a week all at once.

I love you Matthew. 

Happy Anniversary (and a half)  to the best gift God has given me. (aka: YOU! Wink face.) 


I am finally sitting down to write. The house is quiet except for the Sam's sound machine. I am thankful that it is nap time, thankful for the cup of warm coffee next to me & thankful for the sound of my fingers hitting the computer keys.
I admit I feel guilty. It has been along time since I have written; not because I do not have things to say, but because I used "I'm busy" to justify not facing my fear & doing what I love. Yes, I am busy. Watching 3 or 4 children each day, 5 days a week, housework, laundry, teaching, playing, park time, walks, shopping, family time, food prep... we are all busy. Yet using it as an excuse to not set aside time to do this...well that is my fear in action.
If someone was to ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, what I would do if I could do anything, I would answer, Write. However it turned out, looked like, or accomplished I would want to turn the swirling tornado of thoughts in my mind (a thought-nado, if you will) into little black symbols. Neatly arranged on a white page, in a stack for another to pick up & ponder.
The trouble with having a passion (dream) is...
Working to face the fear of failure, judgment and even success. Work, as in action, as in denying myself something now in favor of the future.
So here I sit with a computer on my lap, guiltily tapping away. Mentally charting a plan so I don't have to feel this again. Knowing I wasted 45 minutes of nap time trying to convince myself to do the work. And dreading the thought that in order to really write I have to allow my swirling thoughts to consume me, to wash away the fear of what others will think, of the guilt and let go of myself.

SO... (I don't even want to write the words)

Here goes.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Silent Suffering

This post was written last week. I just wanted to clarify. 

Busy day of errands was all planned out for Samuel & I. One of our last stops was the fabric store. I was picking up something for the quilt I am making out of Joshua's old clothing. After searching though too many bolts that were too expensive, I settled on what I liked. I went over to the cutting table waited. And waited. And waited… with a little wild boy in a cart that was way too small chatting away, pushing himself back and forth from the counter. Both us us needing lunch very badly. I was standing irritated with the one employee who kept ringing people up at the register even though I was very clearly waiting to be helped. And darn it I was in line before them! I am sure the look on my face was not a happy one when I was finally seen by another woman who came in from the back. Samuel immediately said hello to her. She smiled while she replied, "hello," then looked at me sadly and said, " Enjoy him while he is young. Too soon he will be a teenager and a jerk." She faked a laugh as did I. I am sure I said something like, "I keep hearing that." She shook her head and explained how her two teens had successfully broken her heart with their sarcastic, distant behavior. Once she was finished cutting our fabric and before I could, Sam said, "Thank you! Goodbye!" in his loudest voice. She smiled and waved. We had not chatted long but the admissions she made had lifted the lonely weight on her shoulders. I could see it in how she greeted the next customer. We paid then left. Then I said thank you to my son. This little man who God used to bring hope and freedom to a random woman in the midst of her work day. Here I am struggling though my day, heartbroken and alone. Hurting while I pick out fabric for a quilt that it breaks my heart to make but clearly I was not the only brokenhearted woman in that store. Yet my sweet little man was is his chatty, wild self speaks through the silence of our suffering and allows us to be present for each other. I did not share what I was making with the woman but her sharing allowed me to no longer feel alone. This time of year is hard. I struggle internally without end, or at least it feels that way. I am sad but don't want to show it so I revert to irritation or anger. It seems less vulnerable then tears. Needing people but not knowing how to ask. Or even worse not wanting to need people. It really takes so much trust and faith to be vulnerable and tell another person you need them. And then the truth of the matter is there is really no way to "fix" it. How many of us suffer silently? We don't want to be vulnerable or don't want to be the "poor me" friend. We don't want to be the downer or make people uncomfortable. So we stew in our swirling sorrow and pain. Replaying and redefining. Justifying our sadness…as if it needed to be justified.I have spent the last few days trying to not feel guilty for missing Joshua. Trying to not feel shame for being where I am. Trying to not wish I was with my parents or alone or even taking guiltless comfort in a bottle. This year is hard. Just like last year was hard. I just don't understand why it feels worse. Someone told me after we first lost Joshua that missing him would be slowly be less; the days would be easier. And you know what…sometimes they are. But what they really meant was that you will just learn to suffer alone. Suffer quietly because the world does move on and people get too busy with their own things to grieve with you. So much of our brokenness won't be healed today or tomorrow. It won't be healed with a bottle or any other gratification. Our brokenness becomes a part of who we are and like any wound it flares up. Sometimes the flare ups are provoked sometimes natural but they will come. Today, this week, the upcoming weeks…my wound will slowly burn me from the inside. Gnawing at my heart, faith and trust. It is a much more present presence reminding me that I am alive, that I loved and was vulnerable. Thankfully, my pain is not hopeless. There is no pain that is hopeless because pain at its very core comes from vulnerability. And vulnerability is what makes us capable of the incredible…the unimaginable…the unbelievable. Vulnerability is the first step to anything and everything. Look around you, start with the "stuff", see that table? Imaging the creation of the first one. Someone had to cut down a tall, round tree then shape and fasten it into a table. Dang, I bet his friends thought he was crazy! He (or she) had to be vulnerable and give this idea a go. What else? Name something…I bet there are some way more crazy inventions around us that started with a crazy thought. What about all the ideas that failed. The inventors' vulnerability was tested many times before they meet success. Our world of things would not exist without vulnerability. Now think of the most important people in your life…they are important to you because they know your heart; your failures, struggles, weakness, success are all laid bare before them. Terrifying to see that someone has such power over you for good or bad; that is vulnerability.We can be nothing, do nothing without being vulnerable.  Yet there is honest hurt that can come when we are vulnerable. It can not be avoided. We can not have the incredible without the risk. The risk is what makes the success incredible. With each terrifying risk there is room for new hope. Hope being that which propels us on towards what we don't know or understand.  Hope, like an oasis in the desert. We are so tired of traveling, destroyed by the barrage of false mirages; but still taking one more step forward towards what our heart knows must exist. Hope is the paradise that keeps our wounded hearts still choosing to be vulnerability. The sweetest thing about hope is that it IS real. But that does not excuse you from the struggle of having trust and faith that there is good. That God is good. Hope requires something of you to remain alive. It requires you to try again. You to open up again. You to hurt again. You will be rewarded for your perseverance. Usually unexpectedly and in ways that fill your heart so full of abundant joy and freedom you won't be able to understand it. Oh the reward will be great. Eventually I will get to be with Joshua again. Eventually the pain will be done. But while I wait I ask that my eyes be opened to other who suffer silently. I want to have Samuel's innocent eyes so that I can see people. Really see them. Not see what I need from them, or who I think they are. I want to be the hope to someone giving vulnerability one more shot.I miss Joshua. I miss all that was and could have been but I am so grateful to have experienced exactly what I did because it reminded me that my wound is valuable. It brought me right here, to this place, at this time, for a reason. My wound brought me love. 

Not to say I am not going to cry and miss him with all of who I am. Because I will, just like every other day. I just pray God reminds me to not be so silent... to be the hope, to share this incredible love.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Proof of Success

My husband told me a couple weeks ago that I believe people think higher of me then they actually do.

He was right.

Please let me first clarify that my husband is my biggest supporter. We may have only been together 7 years but we had been through more then our fair share of work. And by work I mean struggle, surrender, sacrifice, and many mistakes. We, thank God, have also been able to enjoy the great benefits of that work. Some being forgiveness, trust & honesty. And as much as I wish I was the only one correct all of the time, I am not. (Though he knows that I try!)

Back to the story. Naturally I was a bit irritated with his comment but let it pass & had not thought about it again until this morning. I was sitting thinking...well, moping on the couch waiting for the boys to wake up. I was thinking about how much I missed people from home. I missed working and the comfortable control that it brought me. I thought about how much all my relationships have changed. Then, to cheer myself up I started thinking about my visit this summer. Being able to see people made me happy. Until...I remembered how different relationships are. Dread replaced excitement. Things are different and I felt a gripping need to somehow prove that this move has been a success. I started to rehearse what I would say to the typical "how are you/what's new?" questions. I wanted to say something that showed I have grown, that I am doing something. Whoops, kids are up.

The next opportunity I had to stop & revisit my thinking was nap time. Why on earth do I care so much about what people think of me? My husband's comment was floating around my brain in a sort of pin-ball fashion. I understood his conclusion a little more. Perhaps my struggle with being this great, interesting person is more to do with me caring too much what others think & less to do with reality. I am just another person. And damn, I am selfish. I think about me ALL THE TIME! So it seems fitting that all the people who I worry about pleasing are thinking less about me and way more about themselves. That sounds like of brutal. I don't mean that people are not curious how I am doing or wish me well. But the majority of people I am worried about impressing are just as consumed with the busy of life. They are not waiting impatiently to hear from me in July when I visit. Now, I am hoping that we are able to visit and share some life but I want it to be real life. Not me, acting like I am not as messy as I really am. I do not want to just be someone that I think, they think I am. I want to me be. Just like I would want them to be them. Is not that what a real relationship is: two people who are real?

Sooooo, my goal in these next few months before visiting is to enjoy every moment of the now. To not think about what I will wear. (Seriously, this is the real me.) To not think about how I will answer the typical questions. And most of all to not think about being anyone but messy me.

And clearly I need to work on thinking less about myself.
(T'was a shameful number of "me's" in this one.)

Friday, May 2, 2014

Asking Why

2 Kings 4:8-37

The basic details are: Elisha, who is a prophet of God, frequents the home of a nice couple. The nice couple build a room just to Elisha to stay in. In his gratitude Elisha makes a promise to the woman, "Next year this time, you'll be holding your own baby son in your arms." "You are a man of God," the woman replied. "Please don't lie to me." vs16. Low & behold a son is born. Years pass & the son is watching his dad working when he says he is ill. The son dies in his mother's lap. She then goes to find Elisha. He sends his helper to put his staff over the boy (I assume to bring life) yet it does not work. The woman pleads Elisha comes to see the dead boy. He does. He then lays upon the boy until the boys body is warm then walks about the room until finally he leans over the boy. The boy sneezes seven times and opens his eyes. His mother comes in & takes the boy.
End of story.

What?! and more importantly WHY?

I mean, that is a story that has so many "Whys" in it that I can hardly keep up. Why did the woman never have a son? Why did God give her a son so late in her life? Why did her son die? Why didn't Elisha's staff revive the boy? Why... why... why.

I am a "why" girl. I love the mystery of people and figuring out why they act & do. My favorite part of the mystery is the conclusions though. The reasoning behind a person's whys are challenging but relatively conclusive. But God, His why's are often beyond what makes sense to me. I can spend hours, days, years wondering "why" and I'll never get a descriptive answer. I am not saying I can't come up with my own clever conclusions. Reasons that I can even believe in. But the reality is they will only just be guesses. The only truth surrounding them is that whatever the "what" the "why" is to being glory to God (ie: attention to God in the positive.)
Now, we are created by God and in His image; so I can often devise reasonable hypotheses. Especially when I add in the above truth. But my limited view on life takes me out of deep understanding. And my  self-sentered existence limits the depth of impact that the "why" usually entails. I hold God to the limitations that I have. So all my wondering leaves me...wondering.

Faith is something/one that I can not puzzle together is a stretch for me. But I suppose it is not faith if I understand. Faith happens when I stop asking why and just know: 1. that God is good.  2. God is present and 3. that God loves me with a love that a selfish person can not comprehend.  I need to accept the peace that those three truths offer. The peace that a young child has in the provision of their parents. When was the last time I  saw my two year old worry about his next meal or where he will sleep? Never. He has never worried about those things. Nor would I EVER want his little heart to worry about them. Those are my responsibly.

Oh God, please let me see this world with the same heart & peace that I see in Samuel. This messy little girl of Yours is so tired of asking why & trying to be in control. Goodness knows I must look so silly to You. Help me play at life like Samuel plays with cars. Make me wiser because I am learning from You and not sidetracked by all the garbage, worry & doom of the world.
Thank You. Thank You that believe in You is not a false hope of an invention that I've created to feel better. Thank You for being present with me like I am present with Sam. Except You, thankfully are a whole lot more present. Help me be teachable, trainable & a good listener. With as much as I correct Samuel, help me to know Your correction & be moldable to it.
Thank You.