This new me is focused on wellness, finding a path of holiness that is gentle and patient. Letting go of religious beliefs and just focusing on God and the example of Jesus. Seeking a path of self awareness and peace that I have never found in my life before.
Breaking off the old patterns and thoughts is hard work, I slip easily back into my natural thought patterns of chaos, defensiveness and self loathing. However day by day I manage to find myself more, and in doing so I love myself more. I am changing and some would say it is a bunch of "mumbo jumbo" and that's okay, I say it is an enlightenment of deeper understanding of faith and the healing power of belief to heal my mind, body and soul. It doesn't mean I have it all together, in fact I am often overwhelmed as I try to grasp hold of change. Just as often I am often happily surprised at how much peace I can feel about my life, my trust that all things are working together for the good. I still battle fear and body image issues but somehow it is different, I have never been in this place before. I have lost everything and survived and somehow that changes fear, you always know you will survive and even thrive. I am still healing, I am still growing and I am still changing. I hope I always change.
Change is the one thing we can count on in our lives, everything can change around us or we can choose to be the change within ourselves and in the world. We can embrace change within and without. I was never very adaptable but life has a way of changing that about us, if we let it. I am adaptable now, a free spirit that can go with the flow. Who knew that was possible?
Inside at my core I am still just me. Same personality traits, same quirky personality, but I am trying new things and more adventurous than ever. I don't judge things as "unchristian". I don't judge myself harshly. I contemplate things, I think of what I know about Jesus, I think of what the Bible says about renewing our minds, believing the best and being healed and restored. This is all right on track with yoga, mindfulness and meditation. I dream of truly understanding the power of our minds as created by God. I love others as an act of loving myself not as an act of earning love in return.
I am trying to love myself well. I used to think that was a ridiculous statement. That we are all lovers of self, and I don't let myself go hungry after all. On further thought what I recognized is that I have made choices that were starving my soul, not in my best interest at all. I have learned to recognize there is a big difference in a survival mode self love and true self love that is driven by faith. Self love should guide my decisions, challenge me and often brings me to tears as I recognize my betrayal of myself. Self love is very integrated with my faith, and therefore faith factors into my decisions but not as rules but rather as relationship. I have this guiding sense of love from the creator, if he can love me than surely I can love myself, and make the best decisions possible for myself in the light of grace.
It's not perfect, as a matter of fact sometimes I really "F" it up. I still have some melt down moments. However, I speak up about my emotions, apologize freely and ask for what I need rather than hope for it. I pay attention to my triggers and try to dig into them to become free. It is hard work. Exhausting on some days but I believe it is necessary. I believe we can all grow and change and that is a scriptural principle.
If you have read this far, you must be interested so these are the goals I have added into my life.
Mindfulness practices: Mindful eating when possible, practicing gratitude more, being self aware, listening to my inner dialogue and seeking to change it. Intention, intention and more intention.
Yoga: Finding peace and restoration through gentle restorative yoga. I haven't moved to any hard stuff yet as I am still trying to hold onto my breath and just feeling my body without intrusive thoughts.
Writing: As a form of self expression but also as a way to honor my story and keep my promises to myself.
Art: Painting with passion. I love teaching and it involves passion but often I am painting out of pleasing others such as commission work. Developing mindful art journaling practices and teaching them to others. Using art as a tool to help others feeds my soul.
Independence: I am learning how to be interdependent while maintaining my autonomy. Seeking to be interdependent(not dependent) with those I love and developing healthy boundaries. If you know me well, you know this is not my strong suit. I spent a lifetime being codependent and over invested in others.
Love: Focusing on self love and grace. I am intentionally feasting on love offered to me and the love of the creator. Loving myself well on a daily basis actually includes all the items above as well.
This is all I can think of for now, but soon you will see some more changes in me and in this blog. I hope you can embrace them, I hope they shed some type of light on your journey. I hope they bring freedom and at the same time I hope you just DO YOU. You are a beautiful soul, loved by the creator and are on your own very unique journey. Pick up a little inspiration here (hopefully) but find your own way to strengthening and healing your body, soul and mind.
I can't thank you enough for reading this and joining me on this journey. It's a new day. Let's make it the best we can.
With much love and hope,
My brain is probably most of the problem. If I were an animal drivin by primal instincts it would be a completely different ball game, for starters instinct would rule instead of emotion. My brain has been inundated with emotions, pictures and cultural norms that have affected how it is wired. The pain that is stored in my mind over trauma, the longing for freedom as portrayed in movies, the whispers of wild orgasms that last and last have left me in a place of longing for some true baseline to look at but there is none. Each woman so unique and different, no two are the same.
I have continued this push and pull relationship with my vagina for my entire life. Excuse the "push, pull" reference but you know what I mean. I love it and I hate it. I am a sinner now I am a saint. I am a whore, now I am celibate. Not that I was ever a whore but that mentality of men want a whore in the bedroom. Of course these are not true analogies but they are what seems to be culturally what I heard. My value is in my vagina, that is what abuse taught me, what men taught me. I don't think they meant to, it is just what happened in this mixed up broken world. A world where desire is easily misinterpreted as love. A world where sex is a demonstration of love. A world where men long for a saint but want to turn you into a sinner. Excuse the references but for me they have been integrated into my thinking. I do not really believe that sex is sinful in anyway. It was designed by God to create a bond, a deep loving intimacy that fulfills both partners. It is just that in church we are ingrained with predominantly negative talk about sex, when in reality it is creatively part of God's plan to bring freedom and trust into relationships.
Men are much less driven by their emotions when it comes to sex. They long for sex to feel intimate where as women long for intimacy in order to feel desire. What a difficult process to marry the two in the middle. Please hear me, it is not just men that mess it up, we women mess it all up too. We use it for all the wrong purposes; power and control are two that come to mind initially. We long for love and so we pander our sex appeal out in an unhealthy search for love. Sex is complicated and yet simple and any misuse of it creates knots in our hearts and bodies. Sexual trauma is stored within our cells, in our muscle memory, did you know there is such a thing as a frozen vagina? Seriously, the depth of what happens in our bodies is simply amazing.
When I got divorced it suddenly threw me into a whole new world. I was determined not to get sexually involved with anyone. Everything felt dead in my lady parts, just dull and unsexual. It was a very strange experience as I worked through the pain of betrayal and how I felt I could live without it for the rest of my life. Interesting. As I spoke to other women about being single I was shocked as I heard their stories about lazer, bleaching, shaving, blinging and tattooing. Geez now suddenly I also needed to beautify my lady parts. Eventually my sexuality came back alive, resurrected. I became determined to understand it in a new way, not defined by my past but defined by truth.
It isn't easy. I hate that I am 53 and still struggling with unhealthy sexual memories, repressions, shame and trauma. Still longing for a sexuality that has healthy constraints, an ability to be completely free in acknowledging my desires, to give myself in a way that holds nothing back. I want to, I really do. At least now I understand it all. I know that it is my choice to unravel my sexuality and heal it in a healthy way. I am seeking to find my way through healing to a place of revelation and understanding. I have spent decades trying to shut down feelings, stuff pain and please someone else but now is a new day. Slowly I am trying to make friends with my lady parts and untangle the emotional lies, the unhealthy brain patterns that have plagued me and made me susceptible to abuse and shame. I am a self healer and this is part of my journey. It is not the only part, just a piece of the puzzle as I discover who I am, not who I was but who I am right now in this moment.
I know it seems strange to some that I share such intimate details of my life, but honestly it is truth and I share it because someone else needs to hear that it is normal to feel this way and that you can heal the scars of the past if you face it intentionally. I am reading books, talking to others and becoming very self-aware of patterns and you can do that too. Each of us can be self-healers. We are made to recover that which has been stolen, it is a promise from Jesus.
Thanks for joining my winding journey through grief, betrayal and healing.
We live in hope,
|Rest and Relaxation with No Expectations|
Working it from every angle as if it was some beauty contest to win. I didn't know it. I couldn't see how deeply the river of earning approval ran in my heart. I thought I was living in grace, I taught all about grace but I was living in an never ending race of good works. Doing everything I could to prove that I was worthy. Teaching and preaching was something I loved but it was tainted with this need to prove myself.
The gifts were real, I am gifted to teach, it is my sweet spot but slowly it became my grace killer.
This is how it goes...the slippery slope from gifting and grace to religion and rules.
I had to win the approval of others, my preaching had to be the best. If I am being honest it was not just so that the message would be powerful but rather so that I could prove I was worthy. Grace was edged out by my old approval junkie heart. It was disguised well, in a very spiritual covering but below the surface my issues where lurking. Ministry can do that, cover your issues in spiritual clothes. It is a major pitfall for people in ministry, a hiding place for approval junkies, a sweet spot for narcissists, an all consuming job, a rule based prison, a pharisee creating whirlwind, not for everyone but it was for me. I had won the prize. This approval junkie had married a narcissist, become a work-a-holic, living in a rule based prison and looking quite a bit like a Pharisee.
It was like stepping from one unhealthy version of myself into a duplicate unhealthy Christian version of myself. There was no intent for this to happen obviously. Rather a slow steady shift away from the goodness of God to the goodness of works. Again, let me say not everyone in ministry struggles this way. Many people in ministry started out healthy and whole and are careful to stay that way. I thought I was, but looking back I see that I still had so far to go. Pride is like that. Convinces you that you are all better because you are doing good things, then slips deception on you and off you go. Same issues, different circumstances. I deceived myself into believing I could finally know love by working as hard as possible at it. Turns out that is not love at all, it is deception.
So crushing the Christian life turned out to be crushing to my soul.
I am not trying to be dramatic but imagine a new believer with approval issues groomed by her new husband who is also her pastor to believe that she should follow all the rules, raise her family as the Bible teaches, help build the kingdom, honor her husband, ignore her intuition, be at everything, preach, teach, be beautiful, dress correctly, behave correctly, make everyone like you, etc. etc. In theory that doesn't sound that terrible but for me it was like drinking poison. The more I drank, the sicker I got. My whirlwind pace was masked as spirituality, when truly I just had no boundaries. The behind the scenes secrets of ministry, the need for approval and the gnawing intuition of knowing things just weren't right drove me at times to madness and other times it drove me to the feet of the creator. Unfortunately my skewed version of Christianity made it only possible for me to see the feet of Jesus. It was there that I would experience His love but rarely could I climb into His lap, I could only bring myself to grovel at His feet. My doubts and failures made it impossible to believe in His unfailing love. I knew the theology of grace with certainty in my brain, preached it with conviction but I couldn't seem live in it for very long. If that makes any sense?
I was ruthless with myself and my Christianity.
I had a broken belief system that God was a hard task master and if I did everything right He would love me and my life would be great. Therefore, I hated myself when I failed to meet these standards. Treating myself as a failure and repeating horrid sound tracks over and over in my head. Brutally crucifying myself for my short comings, wildly defensive about my weaknesses and struggling and striving all the while to be a good Christian. Strict standards can make us unbearable towards others sins. If I have to work this hard, you have to work this hard too. The road to being religious is paved with good intentions and bad belief systems.
Please hear me, there were great highs, wonderful moments, God inspired experiences, exceptional people but I was still the little girl trying to please everyone and make everyone happy. The fact that it was tainted with my sinful heart issues doesn't mean that it doesn't count. I grew, I learned and I loved. It just wasn't healthy for me. I was in an endless cycle of trying desperately to hold onto everything, to be the best, all the while believing I was trusting and letting go. While my then-husband was spinning plates as fast as he could trying to keep appearances up, I was working myself to the bone. I was caught in a cycle of self hatred, doubt, fear, earning, striving and still failing. Then the house of cards finally came crashing down, it was far worse than I had imagined. I was never going to win, it had only been a matter of time before it unraveled. It was exhausting and unnecessary. Not to mention that winning isn't what God is after at all.
Life lived in the fish bowl is difficult for the healthy but for the broken it can be excruciating.
I will never know what the future would have been if I would have left the ministry and my then husband sooner. I did the best I could with who I was at the time. I know I cannot be the only pastor's wife that felt such pain, emptiness, fear and frustration. The inability to please everyone, to make a church successful, to be good enough in the endless spiritual comparathon is a trick to keep us from the fullness of life. In the midst of the fishbowl you are trying so hard to find freedom, to be yourself but let's face it, you are still stuck in a fishbowl how much freedom can you really have?
When I walked away I took a few friendships, knowledge, experience and good memories but along the way I lost myself, a son and my family.
This isn't what the Lord had asked of me. I know there is fruit for all of us, I know my children reaped fruit and love from our experience but they also reaped pain. Mind numbing betrayals that are hard to recover from. It is the reality of living in a f*cked up world and trust me when I say, the church is just as f*cked up as the world. It is a house for the broken that can often get so turned upside down that it becomes a weapon instead of an instrument of love. We were just broken, every last one of us, just in different ways. I have heard it said that you attract what you are. Eventually there was no denying the unhealthiness of it all. Thank God, it brought a necessary ending that hopefully freed us all to experience God in a different way, in deeper truth. There is nothing I can do about the past but embrace it as part of the journey to bring me here, to this place of grace. My heart has expanded during this season of revelation, of seeing things with new eyes. Perhaps every last ounce of pain is necessary for people like me to really change.
God didn't create me to strive and earn other people's approval or even His.
I was created to be true to how he designed me, not anyone Else's expectations. He loves me, right now and right here in this very messy place of grace and relationship. Not that I am done. It is difficult of course even now not to want to be liked...who doesn't want to be liked? I recognize it when it crosses over into determination, an unhealthy demanding desire within my soul. "I will make you love me", was a mantra I have heard in my head over and over throughout my life time. No longer. I will make no one like or love me, they either do or they don't. Period. I will continue to grow and change but the essence of who I am will remain.
I am experiencing grace in new ways, authentic ways.
Recognizing my worthiness based not on any of my works but on who He is. I am a degenerate sinner. My life is wildly imperfect and I am okay with that. I am not crushing the Christian life, as a matter of fact I have kind of opted out of that life and now just live a spiritual life. I have lost my drive to do anything other than love. I am kind to myself, I work at loving and accepting my imperfect self, I have low expectations on myself and others, I sit in the place of grace and I rest. Did you know the only place the bible talks about striving is to rest? I cannot earn anything because it is a free gift. I suppose I could end up in the lesser positions of heaven if you subscribe to that theology, I don't. My theology is so simple now, isn't that what Jesus exampled to us. A very simple message of love.
Today I prefer to sit with the broken, speak of love and find rest in the gracious act of unraveling my messy heart.
I used to think loving yourself was a sin, I now understand loving yourself is a spiritual act of redemption. It is what empowers you to love others. When you are kind to yourself you will be kind to others, when you don't judge yourself harshly, you won't judge others harshly. I share my heart, love others and am constantly finding new paths into relationship with my creator. In this place there are no rules only relationship. Yes, I believe in the Bible but I also believe in the power of love to lead you. It is a gentle unfolding, centering experience and I love it. Sometimes I over think it, I begin to strive and then I am reminded that I get to choose and I choose rest, peace, love and acceptance. I am not perfect, I mess up. I see new things within me that are holding me back and I keep striving for growth, for deeper spiritual understanding of my own heart. Everything else will fall in place, transition or stay the same. Anyway it goes, I will be okay.
Set yourself free from striving.
I hope you can hear my heart and understand that I write this because I want other people to find freedom from the constraints of what so easily entangles us. Those things that can seem righteous and good on the surface but in reality are just spiritual window dressing allowing us to stay somewhat stuck in old patterns. Let's learn to love ourselves, leave judgment behind, grow with open minds rather than stifling rules, live in relationship with our creator in whatever way is healthy and balanced for us. Let's stop the spiritual comparathon, that is just pharisee behavior. We can find our freedom, learn from our past while leaning towards the future with hope. It is brighter than we can imagine when we step out from under the "heavy taskmaster" theology. Thanks for reading sweet friends, may we all find our way daily towards more and more freedom and light.
We live in hope,
|These are my recent angels; one who helps me to blast off, one who brings the promise of the new hope and one who reminds me to look up.|
Thinking about presence
As I contemplate presence I can't help but think about my presence. Do I mirror the creator? Am I fully present with others, do I fully engage? Do I listen to every word, every emotion and every nuance so that I can truly hear them? Am I patient and loving in the midst of their failures? Is my heart turned to those whom I love with passion and intention. I have no little if any power to change lives, what power I have is to be present and reflect the love of my father. Sometimes I do it well and sometimes I don't. I am, as always a work in progress.
|I have refined the poetry just a bit.|
My Justin: Boy Wonder and Snake Charmer
If you have a child who struggles wtih addiction or mental illness, if you have lost a child to addiction or mental illness, you will recognize the swirl of love and pain that is introduced through cycles of abuse. I am sharing this for you. That you will know that all your feelings are normal, that the anger you cannot shed is normal, that you can at once be angry with your child and yet never let go of the love you feel for them. That you can dislike their behavior and weep bitterly over their decisions. That is a part of your love for them and your hope for them. It simply means you are sitting in the pain of their consequences and their decisions, are a betrayal of the hope you hold for them. Whatever the range of emotions, there is no shame in them. Love hurts when you have an addicted or mentally ill child.
I will forever believe my Justin was bi-polar and self medicating, unfortunaltely we were not able to see that in the middle of the storm nor was it as openly addressed as it is now. Thank God that now many children like my Justin, will be able to receive the care they need. I am grateful as I watch the narrative of mental illness and addiction change and the stigma and shame beginning to be removed.
My hope has always been centered around heaven and I hope you can see that in the midst of this tangled web of emotions. I hope it honors his goodness and his struggle. I pray it sheds light on the pain of a mother and her love for her child. I hope somehow it helps someone to let go of shame and step into light. I pray it brings revelation and a letting go of judgements.
May this bring comfort to your soul and peace in your grief.
He was a boy wonder and a snake charmer.
He was the first and a superstar.
He was sticky sweet like candy and he was poison.
He was the laughter of thousands and the weeping of a mother.
He was a master magician and a disappearing act.
He was a roller coaster and a sink hole.
He was a lover and a fighter.
He was a little boy and yet a giant.
He was broken and fully functioning.
He was the brightest star and the moonless darkest night.
He was a boy wonder, a manchild and the hope of a mother,
He was the joy of a father, a brother, a grandson and a cousin.
He was my son hard and twisted and light and love,
He was hope and darkness all rolled into one.
He was my baby and my heart shattering pain.
He was my greatest joy and my greatest failure.
He was my hope of victory and the devastation of terrifying nights.
He was struggling imperfection and tormented beyond understanding.
He is perfection and no struggling.
He is every bit of wonderful and no more pain.
He is my longing and my joy.
He is my hope of heaven and my boy.
Be comforted friends in every season with the hope of heaven. None of us are alone in our pain, but often it can feel that way. Please share this with those you might know that are struggling with this type of pain. I long to see my pain redeemed through helping others.
We live in hope,
I Am LOATHE
|My messy self and proud of it~|
The Messy Struggle
I have struggled with messy my whole life, just messy in general. Sure, I had a "planner" side, a control side and I wrestled with perfection issues but lurking there was always the messy, wild child me. This me that wanted to be foot loose and fancy free, not impress anyone, not live under a microscope and most of all not care! The struggle was real to get free of that restraint and constriction. The brawl of control and perfection left me bloody and bruised, as it was a fight I could not win. The messy me wanted freedom to be integrated into my whole life.
Don't get me wrong, of course I care about the most important things in my life, my loves. Those I love, deserve and get my messy self unreservedly and lavishly as much as is within my power. I love a huge circle of family and friends that love me back and are not afraid of my messy life and my messy struggles.
I struggle with messy emotions, messy decisions and messy relationships. I have had messy friendships that have turned out beautiful and messy emotions that reveal my heart in ways I could not see until the tsunami of emotions ran it's course. I have a messy, disorganized brain that runs a muck like a bull in a china shop.
I have come to love messy, because no matter how hard I tried I could not keep my life together. I mean life happened and it made me feel like a failure to not be able to keep it all neat and tidy. A neat and tidy life is a short lived myth. I had no choice but to embrace the messy. Messy brings freedom to evolve. Messy is allowing yourself to be created along the way, taking different paths and living in faith and hope in such a way that you can flow with whatever is happening and let's face it....its always happening.
My messy self competes with the intelectual side of my brain that wants all things orderly and planned but more and more my messy self is winning. I am taking more risk, living without a plan (sort of), being bold and chasing dreams. Messy feels comfortable now, I think I learned it through painting. Painting something and trying so hard to make it perfect and then realizing it turns out better when it free flows. Thats what creativity teaches us....free flow, you can't control you have to just let it develop.
I have come to love my messy self. Messy is adventure and fun and sometimes it is difficulty and unraveling. However it always feels like freedom even when there is still responsibility. It is a better balance for me, it creates a joyful me.
What a great adventure life has turned out to be and this second chapter shall be greater than the last!! Try it, take a risk and chase a dream, it will get messy but it will also help you become footloose and fancy free(to coin a phrase I have heard recently). Its not a bad way to be, don't take it to far, be responsible for your stuff but cut loose and free flow. Today is your day to choose how you live it.
Thanks for joining me on this journey, hope it encourages you in yours!!
with much love,
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