Reflecting on the Absence of Me

Look up

Let me start with an apology, despite the fact that my husband tells me frequently to stop apologizing. I apologize far too frequently for things I shouldn’t, but that’s a story for another post…

I apologize for allowing my head to stop my heart from living. I apologize for allowing circumstance to dictate my perceptions. I apologize for allowing myself to become missing in the haze of chaos rather than being present and available. I apologize for being absent from my own life.

This season I’ve been trudging through has been…I’ll just say…hard. I’m naming it, in my own nerdy way, “The Transitional Positional”. Without getting into the details, I’ll just say, I’ve been going through a lot both personally and professionally. The ground I often expected to remain solid beneath my feet has been shifting and cracking and quaking. At times, it’s been a lot to take in. With that, I’ve had a few realizations that I thought I’d share.

The first is that I am ultimately responsible for my life. Of course, I knew this, but not I KNOW this! I can be highly reactive and deal with things as they arise from a reactive posture rather than a responsive posture. Everything must be handled simply because it’s happening but I forget to stop and think and respond appropriately. I forget to delegate and acknowledge that I do not have to do it all and be everything for everyone. I have the power to say what I’m thinking, to feel what I’m feeling, and to find gratefulness in the process. The two letter word, “no” is not a four letter word and I can use it when necessary. I can choose to be happy when everything around me seems to be falling apart. It’s all a part of the journey. I get to be who I choose to be, plain and simple.

I’ve also realized that perfection is a myth. I’ve spent the majority of my life trying to attain the elusive, self-proclaimed, standard of “good enough” not realizing that I have been good enough all along. The only “perfect” out there worth attaining is “perfectly myself”, with all my flaws and failings. “Perfect” is the acceptance that God made me to be the best me I can be (forgive the Dr. Seuss-esque rhythm of the preceding). It is good and perfect to embrace the process of growth in my life rather than constantly feeling less than in the pursuit of perfection. I refuse to listen to that lie anymore.

The thing about transition is that I can choose one of two perspectives. I can look at the things I’m leaving behind and feel sting and loss. Or I can look to the unknowns ahead and feel anticipation for the good I know will come. Which perspective I choose, again, is ultimately my responsibility. I choose to believe my best days are ahead. I choose to get up each day and walk, and sing, and dance, and laugh, despite anything that life hurls at me along the way. My response is my choice.

Somehow along the way, I allowed myself to go missing into myself. I held back. I hid in the corner. I forgot how to use my voice. I forgot that I have something to offer. I admit, part of the reason I’m writing this post is to force myself to come back to the world of the living. It’s kind of like releasing the hatch on the bunker I’ve been hiding in and stepping back outside. But, it is also, because I’m realizing that I’m not the only one. I see it in the faces of others who struggle and fight to keep their heads above water, and I know the whole time, they are strong, and beautiful, and perfectly “enough”. They just can’t see it from the middle. In the middle of the haze and the chaos, they’re clouded. I was clouded.

There is this light though…it shines and breaks darkness to pieces. There’s this grace that reaches through the thickest fog and finds us. It shows us the way home. It wraps us up wholly. It carries us back to solid ground. I think so often, I turned my face away from the light thinking I was not worthy to be seen. In truth, the light was inside of me the whole time and the light of the world was using this, and every trial, to guide me into the “me” He designed me to be.

“Arise, shine, for your light has come. And the glory of The Lord rises upon you.” Isaiah 60:1

So I apologize for hiding. I apologize to myself for letting my heart be taken captive by “busy”, and fear. I write this now, my resolve to live on purpose.

I am alive and I am grateful.

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Resurrection

I slip slowly into a maze of words.

I realize suddenly that my entire being is an art form of expression and wonder, curiosity, myth, and reality curving together and shaking with rapture at the intersections and commonalities woven between the rhythm.

I am lost to the magic spirally beyond it all.

Yet I mourn the fact that I’ve let myself hide away from the music pounding within my bones. I’ve hidden from the very life coursing from my veins trying to survive. The hiding precipitated the slow death of me.

I’ve been a dead man walking. Driven by the wind, I’ve clung and grasped at the air without realizing it’s my very breath that sucked the song from my lungs.

At the point where my spirit disconnected from my being, I was buried in a tomb of my own making.

Here lies my body. Here, my fingers softly pound keys, revealing my heart, my resolve, and I breathe again.

These words, my resurrection.

Morning

Morning always comes a little too soon yet somehow carries promises of newness, mercies, and hope. I carry with me habitual optimism so the breaking dawn looks to me like joy and vision spanning the gap between darkness and light.

I travel inward, deeply, as the colors move and change before me. I ready myself for the coming blaze of fire, sometimes obscured by cloud. It’s an ever present reminder that the world still turns and all things give way to the maker who spun it all into order and motion. I revel in the wonder and watch for the romance. I hold my breathe still, my heart soft, my hands out, searching for fulfillment of purpose. I know destiny lives in dreaming with eyes wide open.

There, I find you. There, I can do anything.

I’m not Complaining

snapped tree

The truth is…

There are too many thoughts rolling around in my head to make anything fully coherent

The truth is…

I’m watching the things I’ve worked so hard to build crumble around me

Knowing still, it will all be okay and we will rebuild

We will be better than before

I live in hope

I am an optimist

My glass is half full always

Still I wonder, why does it never seem to be full?

Maybe that’s just life

Maybe the trials of this present time aren’t worthy to be compared with the joy to come

Maybe light and love trump darkness every time

Still I watch in helplessness

Water dripping from my broken roof

Drywall sagging and stained

The beauty of a home remodeled in need of restoration again

Irma was a punk

It hasn’t been fun

I haven’t complained…at least not really

A call from others pulls my husband away to make another roof blue in the aftermath of the storm

It temporarily stops their further damage but mine remains

As so often is the case, we are last on the list of our priorities

So we wait

Dinner cooks in the pan near the spot where the water pours

My kitchen a wet, sopping, disaster zone

My living room in disarray as the furniture sits in foreign places avoiding the inevitable spill

Why is it still raining?

Why does the sight of the trees fallen and dead all around my yard bring me sadness?

We are alive

We are whole

We are grateful

Still my patience runs thin

Oh how spoiled I’ve been

Oh how I long to be more than I am

To be who I was made to be

To leave behind the mundane and steadily place my hands to the plow and sow

But here I sit in a kitchen cooking dinner and maybe that’s enough

Hope and Soiled Hands

When small seeds of hope, planted in fresh soil, are stolen by the ravens it’s easy to become weary.

We toil in darkness on hands and knees. Prayer lifted in desperation can seem to hit empty air when the harvest waits.

Still, I’ve found hope doesn’t lie in seed. Hope lies in the waiting soul and the hands of the sower.

Tomorrow will grace us with newness and we can plow and dig. We can take life in our hands and cover it, willing, in the dirt and start a revolution. We can wet it with tears wrought in prayer. We can wait hoping for rain. We can harvest the rewards of diligence.

My hope isn’t in one seed. My victory not taken by one theft. My hope is bigger, stronger, cared for by work, and harnessed in faith. My hope, the anchor of my soul, is in the giver of life. I will win and I will rest in Him.

The Squeeze

Skinny Girl Squeeze beginning

All I can seem to think about the last few days is what it is to be squeezed. Maybe you can relate. You know that feeling when the walls, the ceiling, the air above, and the floor beneath you, seem to be closing in. It’s that sensation of not knowing if you’ll make it out…not knowing if that elusive light at the end of the tunnel will bring warmth to your face. It is the season of the uncertainty, the uneasiness of tight places, the wondering in the wandering.

When my husband and I were on our honeymoon, we spent some time among the rocks and trees in the Northern Alabama. The wonderful man from whom we’d rented the cabin we stayed in took us out on his land one afternoon to explore, hike, and get lost in the majesty of it all. In the spirit of adventure he talked us into going through a few tight places where the rocks barely gave access. First, we wriggled our way through what he called, “Fat man’s squeeze”. It was a little tricky for my husband to maneuver, but my scrawny frame didn’t object so much.

A little further down the path, we came to an opening in the rocks that he informed us was “skinny girl’s squeeze”. He didn’t fit so he’d never been that way, but one gentlemen who worked for him had made it through and told of the gorgeous view from the other side. Maybe the wonder and majesty of the journey had awakened a bravery and sense of adventure in me that had been dormant for a while, but I thought, “I’m a skinny girl…bring it!” and decided to give it a shot.

Everything was fine until about halfway through. The walls of stone around me had narrowed a bit and I wasn’t sure if I was as skinny as I thought I was. Size zero or not, it was getting tight in there. Then my shoe got stuck. By this time, my feet had to be turned sideways, as if I was ready to plié my way through. There was no room to turn in any way. In an effort to free my foot from its prison, I leaned a bit toward the end of the crevice until I was almost lying down. I heard my guide from behind yelling for me not to lie down or I’d never make it. They wouldn’t be able to go in after me either and help wasn’t a possibility. I HAD to keep going, upright; there was no other option.

I’m not quite sure how I did it, but I eventually got free and made it to the other side, an inch and wiggle at a time. It was beautiful there. There was something magical about knowing I was one of very few who’d been where I was standing. I felt alive in a new way standing there in the open, knowing I’d made it through the squeeze. I drank in the beauty surrounded by stone that had kept so many out. There, in the openness, where the sun shone free, I was a conqueror, a warrior who’d fought through the obstacles and made it to freedom.

Lately, I’ve been in a place that reminds me of the rock. I’ve been squeezed, hard-pressed on every side as scripture describes it. I know now, just as I did then, that God will never put me somewhere without providing a way out. There is a light on the other side. But, I have to keep moving forward to reach it. If I lie down, I’ll end up stuck. Even when my feet seem wedged into the rock, there’s a rock that’s higher than I that is faithful to bring me to freedom if I just keep on standing. I have to keep moving forward, there is no other option. He, my guide and comfort, is faithful, and He calls to me words of instruction and encouragement even when I’m beginning to panic.

On the other side, there is a beauty I’ve never known. On the other side, I am stronger. On the other side, the sun is shining and I am wiser and more prepared for the next obstacle. I will never forget the squeeze. I will always keep moving forward. The other side is so worth the journey.

squeeze

Peace Out!

peace

“Praise the Lord!  I will praise the Lord with my whole heart.” Psalm 111:1

“Life’s full of tough choices isn’t it?” Ursula in The Little Mermaid

Let’s be real…life can be hard! We live in a culture that seems to chant the mantra, “Whatever makes you happy must be right.” Where did we get the idea that we were meant to be happy all of the time? It’s an unrealistic expectation to put on ourselves. Life will hit us with all kinds of tough stuff. Job loss, divorce, sickness, pain, relational drama, car accidents, stress, the list is long. The reality is that the good stuff is often born in our response to the bad stuff. We have a choice to respond in faith or in fear.

When we allow circumstance to drive us, we end up fractured. We kick and scream against the pain. We worry. We lose sight of the light in what appears to be overwhelming darkness. We forget that the light doesn’t ever stop shining even when it is blocked by the storm. Even when we can’t see it well, the sun is still shining. Our trust and faith should allow us to find it regardless of the current view.

I choose to live my life from a whole heart. I choose not to allow circumstance to dictate my joy and my compass. I don’t have to be happy, but I can choose to be whole. I WILL praise the Lord with my WHOLE heart. My heart is full even when my world seems empty. My heart is whole though the world seems broken all because I choose to believe in a God who sees me, who loves me, and who makes a way for me when there seems to be no way. He has always provided and He won’t stop now.

If life hits hard today, just keep moving. Realign your focus and choose to praise when you feel like panicking. Adjust your eyes to find the light. You have the choice. Peace isn’t the absence of trouble. Peace is the knowledge that trouble doesn’t win, doesn’t define us, doesn’t get to control us. Peace is found in praise and trust. Peace out everyone!