Oy!

Life’s been a bit rough as of late. Big decisions to make regarding work, health and a whole mess of other stuff…

But one thing remains true.

He is still on His throne.

And without that I don’t know where I’d be. Because when it all comes down it’s not about me. It’s all about Him.

Whew. What a relief! (I get a bit bored of me.)

Summer isn’t usually a good time for me. I like structure and cool weather. But this year I’m taking up the challenge. I’m opening my heart to the transformation He’s been waiting for me to be ready for. He’s been standing at my door knocking.

I’m going to open it up: ready or not.

Obedience. Intimacy. Discipline.

Dear God,

I am here. Even if I’m not “ready” I am willing. Do with me what You will.

Amen.

(I encourage you all to download/listen to Elevation Worship’s “There Is A Cloud” – definitely a push towards that knocking door. )

Vested Interest

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Like it or not, there are billion dollar industries committed to keeping you insecure. From cosmetic companies to fashion lines. Diet books to gym conglomerates. All in the business of promoting the “feminine ideal.” And the more vulnerable you are? The more money they hope you’re going to spend.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to go off on your favourite brand names or choice of workout. I do however, want to make you aware of the risks of falling into the “not good enough” trap. All businesses have a vested interest in keeping you continually searching for the miracle that will change your life.

As Christians, there is a dark foe we battle. One who has a far greater desire for our failure. We have an enemy whose goal is to rob us of our joy, our peace and ultimately our lives. This enemy has a vested interest in keeping us in shame and insecurity, because inside these struggles we take our focus off God. We become about ourselves.

It’s exhausting, isn’t it?

I’m not one for mantras and such but in the past few weeks I have begun a simple practice; every day, several times a day I repeat these simple words:

“I am enough.”

“I AM ENOUGH.”

I don’t always fit in. But, I am enough.

I’m not thin or rich or always kind. But, I am enough.

I’m far from any ideal the world could lay down. But, I am enough.

And in these words I have discovered a new form of spiritual warfare. Blocking out the negative and embracing truth. Through this habit I’ve realized I am more than enough. Embracing this I’ve become less about me and more about Him. He who desires us to live outside of shame and inside of enough.

Both the enemy and our God have a vested interest in our lives. Our walks. It’s up to us to embrace which path we want to take. Continually feed shame, or nourish ourselves with good fruits.

 

The Dusty Jar

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In my backyard, way off in a corner under a tree, stands a shed. You know the type: full of gardening supplies, broken clay pots, an old lawn mower, maybe a weed-wacker. Underneath a single high window there are raw, worn shelves. On the shelves stand jars of various sizes. Some big ones for canning and others small – the type which once held baby food. The jars are dusty, so dusty that they conceal what’s inside them….

“Wait! Wait!” my friends chime in. “I’ve been to your house! There’s no shed in your yard! You live on a golf course for goodness sake!”

 Well. Yes. This is true.

There is no literal shed.

There is a shack with worn shelves and dusty jars – in the backyard of my mind.

The jars contain dreams lost. Desires not met. I seal up precious hopes in jars and trudge out to the decrepit shed of my consciousness and place them gently on old, weathered shelves.

In a way I suppose I do this to protect myself. Life has fed me many disappointments. Bitterness loomed. Self-pity was beating a path to my heart. A lifetime of fighting – for acceptance, for love, for position – had brought me few rewards. The load of carrying continual defeat became too heavy.

It wasn’t mine to carry. I had taken the desire and dreams for my life and made them into expectations. I felt entitled to them.

I started filling jars with little desires. A dream house. I put that in a tiny jar. It was never a big deal to me to have a fancy house – so, not much of a sacrifice. A university degree. A white slipcovered sofa. Little desires that really had no impact on my life – either way I’d be fine in life without them.

Then I moved on to the bigger stuff. The process became difficult.

The dream of a songwriting/singing career. I spent years on this desire. I thought God had ordained this for me to do. Until He didn’t. It was a season and it came and left and now I put it in a jar. A bittersweet moment. With a sigh I took it to the shed.

Individuals who came and left went into jars. They were part of my life for a time, but I needed to let them go.

In to jars went jobs I loved or wanted. The hope of romance with certain individuals. The quest for ideal character. The longing for a healthy brain. A perfect body. Goals unattainable. Dreams not for me.

The biggest jar held my desire for marriage. A longing since I was a little girl – denied.

I placed these desires and dreams on a shelf and made the decision to walk away. To move on. To live life in spite of disappointment. To explore joy in what I was given.

Now and then, I’d go out to the shed and look at the jars. I discovered many of the hopes weren’t important anymore. Losing them turned out to be a non-issue. What was once so deeply in the forefront of my mind became… meh.

One day, I felt a nudge. A holy nudge, as it were. A reminder.

Jars can be opened.

What was once put aside and left to gather dust and cobwebs could be cleaned off and opened. Released like a butterfly from its cocoon.

The dreams I put away – passions, longings, the much desired? They could be realized still – in their proper time.

 

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Depression Hurts

In yesterday’s post I mentioned I was going to unpack the issue of mental illness a bit more. My experience of it, anyway. The following is a post I wrote a while back while I was in the midst of a “blue” period. Don’t worry – I’m much better now. 😉

 

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Remember that drug commercial? The one that said, “Depression hurts”?

Yeah well, depression does more than hurt.

It’s a thief. It robs you of joy and love and energy and leaves you with weariness, sadness, exhaustion.

It’s an extortionist. It threatens to remove the goodness. It coerces you into negative thought.

It’s a drug dealer. It has you chasing something, anything that can ease your mind. Put you back into life. A little blue pill? Or a little pink one?

It’s a murderer. It kills hope. It bludgeons vitality. Destroys lives. And now and then, it even ends them.

Depression hurts. All of us. Whether we have a loved one in the midst of it. Or we are mired inside it’s dark, greyness right now.

The worst part? You don’t know when it will get better. If it will get better. Will you make it one more year, month, day – if it remains the same?

 

Beautiful Frailty

Today I’m going to go directly against my friend, Norm’s advice. I’m not going to “keep it short” and I’m certainly not going to “keep it light.”

I want to talk about mental illness. A fun, light topic, right?

The past few months I have been silent on the blog front. Not only due to work commitments, but because I have been fighting depression and some mild mental health issues. I came home from work at night having nothing left to give. I gave a lot of time to sleep. And when I wasn’t sleeping or working I was distracting myself – movies, books, etc. – I’m sure most of you can relate. Most of us can put ourselves somewhere along the mental health spectrum. Or if not personally, we know someone whose life has been affected by it.

And what is “it” exactly? Not easy to explain. The DSM-V (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) is 5 inches thick and spans Anxiety to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder to Schizophrenia. For me, it’s about depression and Tourette’s syndrome. A wicked combination of issues which on the surface seem like ‘no big deal’ – yet affect my daily life.

Depression? It isn’t sadness. It’s hardly ever circumstantial, yet it can grow out of events. For me it does, anyway. I get myself into a shame situation and instead of forgiving myself I allow the pain to grow far past it’s power. Or perhaps I look at life and feel disappointed. The expectations have fallen through. Again – not depression, but it can give it a shove in a dark direction. Then there are the times when it doesn’t make sense – there is no reason for depression. I think this is the hardest. When there is no cause for the low. It just is.

Tourette’s syndrome? Hereditary. Rarely presents like you see in the movies, FYI. For me it’s closely related to OCD. A desire for things to be just right. So, you echo words until they sound right. You blink your eyes continuously, not even knowing you’re doing it. Clenching fists. Twitching nose. Rolling wrists. All increased in severity by anxiety. Control, control, control. And when control isn’t possible? Self-abuse. Fits of rage.

But blessing upon blessing! There are drugs for these issues! Yay!

However, it’s no panacea. Side effects: Weight gain. Lack of emotion. Lack of drive. Loss of dreams. Complacency. Yet, the relief is so great you’d rather be fat. Be dull. Be boring than have to deal with “it” all again. And the realization and resolution: you may be dependent on this chemical for the rest of your life. Exhausting to think about. (Let’s not even start to talk about withdrawal).

Mental illness is suffering. Make no mistake – it can steal, maim or even, kill.

What would I be without it? Well, thinner for one. (Thank you, Paxil). All kidding aside, I would have possibly achieved more in terms of personal goals and gains. I would be more disciplined. I would have more energy. I would handle people better…

But, would I be as compassionate? Would I rely on God as deeply as I do? Would I trust in Him or myself? Would I become arrogant? Unbelieving, even? Would I obey Him?

Strange as it sounds, I wouldn’t trade my scars for anything. Sure, looking back I can imagine a different outcome without mental illness. So much life disappointment has been rooted in my mental frailty. Yet, I believe God took my disease and created something beautiful from it. And He continues to do so.

This is a topic I believe warrants a deeper “unpacking” in the next few posts. As I wrestle with my light and my dark, I pray you will join me and pray for me as I submerge myself into this journey.

As for my friend, Norm – don’t be hard on him. He means well. 😉

Blessings to you, my friends.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Dry Season

 

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Well.

It’s been a long break, hasn’t it?

The past few months have been extremely busy and difficult for me. First off, it was tax season. As a bookkeeper, a busy season to say the least!

But more than that there was increased anxiety in my life. A palpable oppression. And I  am completely convinced the enemy had me in his crosshairs. I have been doing the work with shame and he is not a fan of my healing.

But today – in the distance – I saw it! A small cloud in midst of the desert. Praise God, because I was reaching my end.

It’s just a small cloud. Tiny. But the rain is coming. I can smell it in the air.

He has been faithful in the past. And yes, He will be again and again!!!

 

Quiet Sacredness

I can talk a lot. A lot, a lot. And often my talk veers towards the non-sensible. I can go off on tangents and loose focus and babble unceasingly.

I am saying nothing.

Yet, I am saying everything.

Where my words can be incessant chatter, my heart is crying out, “Please listen to me!” Listen to the cry of my heart to be heard. To be validated. That I am, despite all my failures, enough. My talk is communicating the deep cry within – my soul desperate to break free of shame.

My precious mom has said this to me for years: I am not portraying myself when I talk so much. When I strive and fight for acceptance. When I attempt to show my worth through words and intelligence and learnedness. I’m not the “me” she knows. Don’t get me wrong I can talk joyfully for hours about something that excites me, but when it’s about being seen as enough? It shows.

I am soon walking into my 48th year. And I am tired. Tired of trying to measure up. To be enough. Or to use the shame language of Dr. Brown, shadowed by the cultural expectation of a woman to be – Thin. Pretty. Un-opinionated. It’s not me. However, being  bullish and chatty isn’t me either.

Instead I’ve decided to embrace who God made me to be. Not thin, but curved and vibrant. Not pretty, per se, but sometimes plain, sometimes gorgeous. Rarely not opinionated, but always graceful. Listening. Thoughtful. Passionate.

And to embrace quiet. To grow comfortable with waiting for others to share. To be less anxious about sharing my opinions than hearing the ideas of others. To still myself. Live into thoughtful response. To be, finally, who God has created me to be.

The sacred mess transformed into a quiet sacredness.

I’d appreciate your prayers.
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