Purpose in Pain

I wouldn't have choose it.  Never in a million years.
Who would raise their hand and say yes to such pain?
Only Jesus, that's who.
I don't know how to find the good in this mess.
I try to be thankful, try to be positive,
but who could go through this much pain and still sing a sunny song?
Only Jesus, that's who.
I chase after memories, push down regrets.
Who could find the message in this?
Only Jesus, that's who.
I feel unqualified to preach or teach,
a wreck, a mess, I can't even get dressed.
Who could find healing in this?
Only Jesus, that's who.
I can't bleed here for all to read, share the deepest of pain and still sing a song of favor and love.
Who can make sense of it all?
Only Jesus, that's who
And He lives in me.

That makes me happy, I can't do it on my own.

I write because

This quote, so perfect.  This journey so wild, my thoughts are a jumbled mess racing around in my head.  I want them to escape and find a place to land.  The backdrop of it all is this broken, paradise.  It is full of people who need Jesus.  We need salvation to make sense of it all.  Honestly, I don't even think I have made sense of it all.  Maybe, what I should say is we need deliverance to live in it all. It is a journey of revelation and for me writing is just a form of "working it out".

I was talking to some friends this weekend.  Wonderful, Godly women that fill my life with hope and laughter.  Talking about disappointments, children that are struggling, rebellion and depression and all I could say was, yes.  Yes, we think we have done a good job, done what we thought we should do, loved them to the best of our ability and yes, sometimes they still struggle.  They are depressed, some are rebellious, some are headed for trouble, yes.

These children so precious, grow up and they have to find their own way.  We help, we pray, but in the end....they decide their story.

God was the perfect parent, He gave His children paradise and set in place a few rules that would decide their destiny.  They rebelled.  He grieved that loss, He felt that pain of children that choose their own path instead of His.  He knows my pain, He knows your pain, He has felt it all. Yes, He knows that disappointment.

I felt these friends hearts as they grieve the loss of what they thought this thing called parenting was going to be.  Their dreams of perfection, dashed to the ground.  I think perfection is overrated and it is in the working it out that we grow.  We all think we are doing it right, we are doing are best.....and we are all getting different results.

Some of you, well your children seem perfect.....but maybe that is a problem too?  Maybe the pressure from that is too much....maybe the pressure that puts on kids is too much. Whatever it looks like, I think it is difficult for all of us.  The feelings of letting go, losing control, trusting God, letting them fail.....uuuuuggghhh it is just difficult and messy.

What I do know is that as mothers we are given this amazing gift to create life....to grow a person inside of us.  How amazing is that?  Then we get to love them to adulthood and to trust God's plan for their life.  Parenting never ends, there is no deadline....it just goes on and on.  sigh.  Of course I am glad, and hope for a relationship with my children like I have with my parents.  Then I think about how long it took me....I am almost 50, but for the last ten years my Mom has been my best friend. That is what I hope for.

I've never been quite sure if parenting is really about the children anyway....  My parenting journey has been filled with experiences that make me look at myself.  I have watched myself go from sweet church lady to extreme hysterical mother in a matter of minutes.  I have been forced to examine my reactions and failures.  It ain't a pretty picture sometimes....shhhheez....

Nothing makes you doubt your salvation like a argument with your child where you lose it.  Nothing shows you your messed up, broken heart like a provocation from a teenager.  Nothing shows you your lack of self control like a run in with a child who is blatantly making the wrong choices...because let's face it, from our perspective it is just so clear that they are wrong!  Been there, done that....

I am sure that is how God feels.  From His perspective it is easy to see all the right choices and yet I often take a hundred wrong turns.  I lose it with my kids, don't we all at one time or another?  I take the long way to get to the right way.  I have to experience the consequences of that wrong decision in order to make the right choice the next time.  Life is complicated and children are beautiful messy individuals that when they grow up will make their own decisions.  That's hard for me.  I think it is hard for all of us who have adult children.  I have spent the majority of my life trying to help my children make right choices but all of the sudden, it is up to them.

So Mom's don't judge one another, trust me you don't want to have to eat your words.  Love Mom's that are struggling with their kids.  Encourage them, share your story with them so they don't feel all alone.  Be honest about the difficulties.  Love one another well, that means no judgy attitude, no advise about what works for you and your perfect family, it means just listening and loving.

 Parenting is hard and unpredictable and sometimes it is as much about us as it is about them.  My children have helped me grow, they have been my focus but also my mirror to see what has to change to make me more like Jesus.  They have been the sandpaper, rubbing hard edges off and getting rid of splinters.  They have made me better, made me gentler, made me a prayer warrior, made me compassionate, made me hopeful, made me wiser.....yep, it's been hard and it's been good.

Except when it's not because sometimes it is bad, sometimes your heart breaks and you feel so confused about how these beings could have come out of your stomach and spent their entire lifetime with you and then somehow turn on you?  wth?  Sometimes they make choices that you can't agree with, sometimes you are forced to keep your mouth shut because putting in your two cents is just going to push them away.  Sometimes, you watch them wreck things and all you can do is sit back and wait for them to come to you to help put the pieces back together.

The good news is they turn back, get smart, realize their mistakes, love you regardless of how they are acting.    Like all of us they are just learning.  Looking back, I was not so great at twenty and I turned out semi-okay.  So I guess what I am saying is I love them, want the best for them, but it is hard letting go.....so there it is the truth about how hard it is....I know if you have young children you think it will be different for you.  I thought that too.....maybe it will.

In the meantime I am thankful for each of my boys and what they have taught me along this journey. It is me that was changed for the better.  It is me that has grown up.  Finally, I think. Well, I am not finished yet.

That's all my thoughts, thanks for letting me work it out in writing....I feel better already.  Love you my friends.  Let's grow old together.


I had a breakthrough.....a few ramblings on the subject

So I wrote my name on the chalkboard(prayer wall) for a breakthrough.  It was an act of faith. I knew I needed a breakthrough.  I just felt like I was circling the bowl over and over again.  Sure, I would be okay for awhile, but then boom round and round I would go.  Sinking deeper and deeper until I would be lost in the dark again.  I kept saying I wasn't depressed I was just sad, but in reality depressed was probably an accurate description.  And to top it off, some weird nagging voice in my head kept whispering you are not a very good example if you are depressed, you must not be very strong. Then the condemnation would come and just flush me down the toilet into the great abyss of darkness. ssshhhezzz stinkin devil.....

I read a fellow blogger ramblings today and in it he said, Grief is a bag of sh*t.  

I laughed because only someone walking through it can put words like that to it.  Then I read Kay Warrens blog and she spoke about for the first time in 21 months and 12 days she went and sat in her spot in the front row. Only a parent who has lost a child keeps that kind of count.  I am just short of 16 months.  I have learned there is no right or wrong way on this journey.  

To anyone who has gone through any type of trauma, let me just say.....be free, there is no right or wrong way to handle your broken heart.  Most of us are just flailing along, trying to beat the dark away as if somehow we could stop it, trying to stop from sinking into the pit of despair, and hoping for each breakthrough to be the last one needed.  Keep at it friends....don't give up!

One person puts a puzzle back together by putting all the edges together and another makes piles of same colors and images and yet another starts in a corner and works out.  

Our broken pieces are like a puzzle....The only given, is just to keep at it.  

More than once I have found myself spiritually bankrupt, nothing left to draw on.  The voice of God a distant memory as the darkness crowded in on me.  The frustration that I couldn't make the puzzle work pushing me deeper into despair.  I think I may never be able to make the puzzle complete, there will always be a piece missing.  I am starting to think that the best I can do is create a glorious picture with a missing piece.  

So anyway, let's get back on track.   That is why I put my name on the board.  That is why I was praying for a breakthrough.  Because the gratitude journal just wasn't working and the dark kept creeping back and it was scary and the thought of living that way forever just seemed to push me into a frantic, manic place.  The maze place where no matter how hard I try I can't get out. 

So I wrote my name on the prayer board. So I prayed for breakthrough, and I believe other people prayed for me to have breakthrough.  Hey, thanks if that was you.....

And then, something happened. 

Sometimes things just line up perfectly kinda like the lock on the fridge at church.  I can't ever seem to remember the combo and when I do it seems impossibly hard to get those tiny little numbers to line up just right and from the correct direction, but when they do I get pretty excited!  If you were to walk in on my little moment of success at the refrigerator you would think I had won an Olympic medal or had just rode a bull for the exact amount of time necessary to win.  I throw my arms up in the air and hoot and holler.  That is what this was like.....everything just lined up perfectly. 

I started reading a Bible Study by Havilah Cunnington(look her up), we had our Week of Worship and God spoke to me.  Not in some big, grand way but in a small voice that just kept chipping away until finally breakthrough came.  

First, I recognized the enemy....I saw the lie that was being whispered in my ear for what it was, a lie!  He had gotten me to be offended with God.  I know God to be a good God yet I found myself believing that He wasn't good to me.  I gave the enemy an open door to torment me, somewhere I was believing God was punishing me.  I KNOW BETTER, but still in all honesty it was there, a subtle lie giving birth to...CONDEMNATION.  A lingering question rang through my mind, why me?  The answer came back in the form of a demonic whisper....you deserve it.  That condemnation was what always ushered in the darkness.  It is the oldest trick in the book, to get us to doubt God's goodness.  

Listen people, God is not a punisher. He is a lover.  
                                                                                                          Let that sink in for a minute.

Then I started painting a picture with the intention of drawing a woman with light slipping through her fingertips and darkness pressing in.  As I was working on it at church I felt the Lord say, what do you see?  I looked and saw the darkness wasn't pressing in, it was being pushed back.  The light might have been slipping through her fingers but it was also radiating out of her soul.  

Perspective.  He changed my perspective, yet again. 

My son is gone, that much is true and somehow it is good.  God has told me in many ways and through many people that Justin is where he is supposed to be.  That his struggle is over.  Honestly, that does make me happy.  Thinking of him, absent from the body and  present with the Lord. What Mom can't rejoice over that?  It was personal, God rescued my Justin and I just have to hold unto the right perspective and not give an ear to the enemy of my faith that wants me to take offense at God's decision.  My Heavenly Father knows best.  I can trust Him.  

Perspective.  I can see clearly now.

I suppose I will need at least a hundred more breakthrough's and I will still get frustrated that I can't put the puzzle back together.  Today however, I can see clearly.  Everything has lined up and I have my breakthrough.  My perspective back to the proper place, my God goggles firmly in place....Today I will not feel guilty if I am sad, I will choose to be authentic and vulnerable but I will not entertain the enemies whispers because my God is a good God and I trust Him, even in the sh*t.

I think I can, I think I can...maybe

I am a perfectionist(a lousy one).  It is a disease.  Don't judge me.  It isn't even that I do everything perfect, trust me I don't.  It's that I like everything to fit in my neat and tidy boxes, I want my expectations to be met, I want to orchestrate my life to avoid the unexpected and painful.  I want to finish what I start, want to be successful at what I do and let's not forget the other disease I have...the disease to please.  So 2013 was the worst, but it was only the beginning....there were still pieces to be picked up and life to be lived and 2014 continued to be a whole lot of unmanageable, messy, broken stuff.

I am not addicted to drugs or alcohol.  Not judging if you are, but I am addicted to trying to control and manage my life so that pain is minimal(not a new pastime but clearly a futile one).  I know you are thinking what is so bad about that? Nothing as long as it doesn't box the world out.  As long as it doesn't keep you from living.  The problem is when life becomes unmanageable, I don't know how to live in that.  I panic and become manic...I laugh too loud and cry too much.  I wall myself off and try to protect myself.  I hear myself say things I wouldn't normally say, think things I wouldn't normally think.

This is a crazy new world and every day I am faced with choices and quite often I fail.  It's the failing that is so hard.  It is the unexpected daily failures, the inability to overcome my flesh, the broken pieces that won't fit back together that just makes me so uncomfortable I want to crawl out of my skin.  It is the inability to be perfect that spirals me into a dark place.

In that messy brutal world I cry unexpectedly, curse on occassion, overeat, chase thoughts down in my mind that you my friends would be appalled at and hate my inability to control myself.  The self-loathing feels familiar as it cloaks itself around me.  Why can't I just be happy?  I want joy, I really do.  The perfectionist in me bereats me for being unable to overcome.  I want to beat my head against the wall until I feel "sunny and bright".  I feel somehow disloyal to my sons memory if I am happy, so I go back to the pain because it feels like it is all I have left of him.  I know this isn't correct but still it is the truth according to my emotions.

Who would want to feel sad like this, day in and day out.  That's not to say that it's all bad.  It isn't.  It is just to say that sometimes the darkness seems really, really dark.  I don't think I am a freak, I think others feel this way too.  You know where it just feels like someone flipped a switch and all the light that you were holding onto just slips right through your fingertips.  Catapulted back into the dark....dark thoughts, dark memories, dark wounds, dark everything.

So I am going to start a "Thankful journal" again, because clearly I am having a hard time holding unto perspective.  I know that I know, that there are things to be thankful for.....you people for instance.  I love you people, you authentic, messy people that let me be me.  Which works out well because I have tried to be other people and it just ends in failure.  

So, I will think more about the good memories and the bad will grow dim and love will win.  I will put on gratitude in place of loss.

I think I can, I think I can, I think I can....I believe my stinking thinking can be remade....my brain rewired to think new thoughts.  God has given me everything I need to be an overcomer.  Lot's of positioning for overcoming (hehehe got lots to overcome).  So I am a voracious reader....I have read ton's of books on grief and heaven trying to make my mind submit to the Spirit.  I read books all about love trying to push back the fear.  Reading helps me feel productive like I am doing something...I suppose it is me trying to find a perfect way out of this very unpredictable, uncontrollable circumstance.  Where my emotions can be triggered over the smallest of things and memories float around with no place to land without causing a landslide of emotions.  So I read to keep my mind focused on healing, on getting better, on having control over this storm.

It works for about five out of seven days, but then something happens and I am right back to the dark place where fear treads around in my brain leaving deep footsteps.  Where my heart races and love grows distant and I can't seem to remember who I was or even who I am.  So, I counsel myself....what would I tell someone like me in a counseling session?  Retrain your brain, I would say.

So here is my list of put off and put on(Ephesians 4) thoughts.  Remember I am a perfectionist so I need to create a list and a way to work towards my goals.I am hoping that if I have a failure I will just resort back to #3!  Please don't  point out my failures now that you know my intimate heart thoughts. I share with you because I think there is something to be learned here.  That I am suprisingly not the only one with stinking thinking and when we acknowledge it and reveal that we are all flawed it brings freedom and hope for healing and change.

Put Off:  I lost dear friends, they abandoned and rejected me.  At least that is what it felt like.
Put On:  They made room for new friends, wonderful people who flip the light on for me.  I will love them all, even if I think they may hurt me.  My job is just to love. I forgive those who hurt me because I have been forgiven so much.

Put Off:  I lost my son, I will feel this pain forever.
Put On:  My son is not lost, He is waiting for me in heaven and that will last forever, not this. This pain is morphing and God will continue to bring comfort in the midst of it, until one day it just isn't.

Put Off:  Self-loathing for not being "all better". Self-loathing for not being stronger, for being depressed at times.
Put On:  Grace and forgiveness for myself.  There is grace for this pace.  There is no right or wrong. It's okay to be manic or panic, just breathe and work your way out of it with the Word.  Grace covers this place with His dying breath He paid the price for my flaws.

Put Off:  Anger at the uncontrollable, messy, broken world that I can't manage.
Put On:  Trust in a God who is Sovereign, who know's best for me, who rescued my son from his addiction, who turns the hearts of people and brings favor into my life.  He is the same God that I have praised for twenty five years and I will continue to praise Him now.  He is still good, even if sometimes, every once in awhile I have to be convinced of that all over again.

I think this is a good starting place.  It's not a New Years resolution it's just a starting place for creating a different year.  A year where all things are made new, where hope is planted like seeds and a crop of joy will spring up.  I am going to love well because that is what Jesus taught us, He taught us to love one another.  Loving relationships are the context for changing us and healing us.  You have taught me that.

10 God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.11 Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.
1 Peter 4:10-11 (NLT)

And let me just say this.....THANK YOU.  If we are all one body, then we are supplied through that body with the nourishment we need through others.  You are the OTHERS.  When Paul was sad and discouraged God comforted him by sending him a friend (2 Cor 7:6).  You were those friends.  You, with the shared pain and you who could not understand the depth and just let me cry with you. Romans 12:15 says to mourn with those who mourn and you did.  You encouraged me with the word and with your presence.  I love you people.

I read in one of my books that God gives us the body of Christ to parent us, to model His love to us.  You have done that well.

I am not going to get my hopes up too high, my perfectionism causes me to self-protect so that I am not disappointed.  Does that make sense?  Whatever, still a work in progress but I am determined that this year will be filled with more forgiveness, love, hope and joy than last year and that is a good place to start.  I am letting go of the past hurts and moving forward with hope.  I am opening my heart wide to say yes Lord, yes.

So even though I was really angry at "New Years", I have forgiven it.  Now I see that it doesn't have to be a reminder of what was lost but can be a defining moment to let go of the past hurt and grab ahold of the future.  Reminds me of the monkey bars.  Ratz, I was always terrible at the monkey bars.  I couldn't bear to let go and take the risk, but this year I am braver than ever.  So come on 2015 let's do this!

How about you brave friends, what do you need to let go of?

P.S. I feel better already!


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