Vulnerability

From where I sat tonight, I enjoyed clouds, cooler weather, and a day when I’ve felt more me than I have in days – maybe weeks.

Summer heat gets me down, y’all.

So, here I sit on this cooler day finally enjoying myself – reading & writing, tending to my soul & spirit…contemplating many things, including relationships.

See, that date has become something…so, it means letting someone in…

I am so, so used to single life. In single life, I’m only responsible and accountable to me (to an extent).

I mean, it is my desire to bring my husband good all the days of my life (Proverbs 31:12) – but I’ve already failed, I’m sure. So, I try moving forward – that whoever he is will truly find good when he finds me as his wife (Proverbs 18:22).

But, I digress…

In single life, you don’t have to let anyone in.
You don’t have to be vulnerable and wonder if they can/want to handle it.
There’s always fear in vulnerability.

If you move forward with someone – there’s risk. You let someone into your pain, your mess, your darkness, your weakness, your faults – along with your joy, your celebration, your gifts, your passion.

Entering a relationship requires trust.

For me, a big area of vulnerability is this blog. My heart shared, post after post; and, there are questions that go with that:

  • What if “he” finds it?
  • What if he doesn’t like what he reads?
  • What if it scares him?
  • What if he doesn’t understand the struggle, the doubt, the darkness…?
  • What if I find myself to be too much or not enough?

Honestly, though, this openness & willingness to risk vulnerability is essential to any relationship – whether two weeks old or fifty years old (not that you should spill all day one, there are levels to this…)

We cannot connect with others without it – and, yes, at some point it will lead to conflict, disappointment, and misunderstanding. It’s what you do together to overcome that which will make the difference.

Just as you hope he/she will be that for you, this gives you a beautiful opportunity for you to be open & accepting of him/her in their darkness, weakness, struggle.

In doing this for one another, you find the beauty to overcoming this fear – you find a partner, a war buddy.

And, you discover someone who loves your heart: weakness, faults, and all. You discover someone you love: weakness, faults, and all.

So, do we fear vulnerability? Of course we do.

But, overcoming that fear leads to something we are all hoping to find in this life – and it leads to the kind of relationship & love that glorifies, honors, reveals, & represents God and His love for us.


I listen to a lot of [Christian] Hip-hop, and recently, there is a song that has worked it’s way into my heart. It comes along these lines so well. It deals with this kind of openness and vulnerability, from the perspective of the one being supportive and accepting, and loving. I want to share it with you, as it may be an encouragement to others, too (KB – Lights Go Out (ft. Blanca & Justin Ebach) – Reach Records):

Tonight’s Prayer

Abba:

I’m getting restless.

I’m tired of being in Oklahoma.
I’m ready to be somewhere else.
Pack up my new tiny home & hit the road.

Realistically, I’m not in a place to leave yet.

And, lately, that truth has been wearing on my heart.

I know that for my own well-being & health, I can’t make this place my forever home.

But, it’s not time for me to move yet. So, I’m almost regretting the choice to come here in the first place, though there has been so much good being here.

There is a spirit of oppression on this place that feels like it weakens my spirit.

There is so much pressure from inside & out to be what everyone wants me to be. I almost feel stuck in my situation. Like there’s no way out, no opportunity for change. Making me ready to cut ties & run.

This is a good chance for me to learn – that’s not the way the world works.

Please, show me the good that has been done. Reveal the next step in Your plan for me here in this place. Open the right doors & close the rest of them.

Lift the spirit of oppression over my life, destroy any anxiety or depression that would threaten what You have called me to do; destroy any apathy that has made it’s way into my heart.

Soften me, remove the callouses that are developing on my heart. 

Open up opportunity for me to use the gifts you’ve given me to bring Glory to You.

May I leave every situation with my integrity intact.image

Send me more relationships to sharpen my relationship with You, allowing me to see more hope in the world around me.

Lord, be with this city, this state, and this nation. May any confusion & disillusionment begin to melt away. Soften hearts and turn them towards you.

God, please remove anything that is hindering the purpose you have for me.

And, in this waiting time, may I remember to take care of my soul & refresh my spirit, trusting that what’s on the other side of this waiting is Your best for my life.

I am so thankful for the amazing life I live, a life of beauty even on the hardest days.

Amen

 

 

Choosing Hope

“You are never too old to set a new goal or dream a new dream.” – CS Lewis

There have been so many times in my life when things aren’t exactly as I’ve expected….and recently, I find myself in a whirlwind of times like that…

I feel like therapy sometimes lacks/neglects an integral piece – connection on an “I’ve been there” basis.

I love what I do (about 95% of the time) and most of that 5% of time is made up of paperwork no one told me I would have to do & I hate it…but a small portion of that 5% is that piece that I feel is missing:

Our professional decorum often prevents us from getting further down into the muck of people’s lives with them, giving them a glimpse into what we’ve struggled with.

I know my kiddos (the older ones, especially) have a hard time connecting with me at times, because all they see most days is the successful counselor who got a 3.8 GPA in high school, graduated, went to college & grad school, and has lived a great life. They see someone well put together & seemingly without struggle.

What I never get to show anyone – what regulation dictates I keep to myself is:

The success was born out of many sleepless nights, when I did homework, read, or watched TV only because I was not going to sleep anyway.
That many nights are still spent this way – how most of my creativity & studying comes about.
The amount of nights tears stained my journals, all with similar messages: God, why is this my life? Don’t you love me? Why am I so worthless and unlovable?
The work was all about being enough just in who I was, and I could never seem to get that.
The only reason there are no physical scars is because by the time I knew what self-harm was all about, I had one “acceptable” form, along with knowing how to do it without leaving any marks. So the scars only live in my soul.
The amount of days the only reason I made it out of bed was out of anxiety for what people would think if I didn’t…and some days even that wasn’t enough.
That I was so traumatized by my middle school experience I have since never set foot in the school building – and am not sure I ever really want to.
That I cried so many tears in my high school – their high school – and didn’t know if the future would be as bright as I always pretended it would be.
That the only reason I am where I am today is because I refused to quit fighting, even on my darkest days. I chose to believe in hope and then live each day as if that belief were true.
The bullies didn’t stop, the pressure didn’t loosen, and the pain was with me day in & day out, as I made the choice to do something different, hoping one day it just wouldn’t be there any more.
That faith was more of a fight most days than a given…and it is that precise faith & walk with Christ that is the only reason I am where I am today. He didn’t give up on me, even when I was ready to give up on myself (and on Him).

I mean, my clients & my kiddos know a little bit of my story, but professional guides would limit what they have access to; and in the therapy world, that makes sense.
So, I will stick with this, as this is the path I am currently on…

I just don’t know if this is the exact place God will always have me.
As a matter of fact, I know it’s not. I know His call for my life involves so much more.

But, right now, He is teaching me so much where I am. And, for that, I am thankful.

I am also praying for doors to open and opportunities to present themselves for me to walk in others’ mess & share the hope that I’ve always had, but sometimes had to consciously choose. I am praying that, even with the proverbial “hands tied,” I get to be hope in a hopeless world, as I am tapped into the ultimate source of hope.

I wish more of my clients would understand Lewis’ words, and that I would also embrace them…instead of feeling “stuck” in the choices I’ve made that got me here, I’d like to trust that after I’ve mastered this step, lived this dream, God has another one ready & waiting; and the same for those around me…

Absorb the Silence

You ever care so much for someone that you would take all their pain?

But, we can’t…it’s not possible.

Each of us has to carry our own pain. Whether it’s physical, mental, spiritual, emotional. We are all in charge of carrying our own pain.

But, when we see others hurting, especially those we love, we want to take it on…

Ever prayed for it to go to you?

I have. That’s where I am tonight. I have seen so much pain today in others, and I just want to take it all. To be the vessel that holds it.

I pray, “just take it from them, put it all on my shoulders, in my head, in my body…”

The response?

Silence…

Because, it is not my pain to bear.
Working in the mental health field, that’s a hard thing to remember.
Being a big sister, that’s a hard thing to remember.
Being a daughter, that’s a hard thing to remember.

So, I pray…and absorb the silence.

Remembering that the reason it’s not my pain to bear is that He already bore it…even if I don’t get to see the results of that in this life.

So, tonight, I pray…I absorb the silence.
And after I realize I cannot take on their pain,
I pray to find rest in Him.

“When the oceans rise and thunders roll,
I will soar with you above the storm.
Father you are King over the flood.
I will be still & know You are God.

Find rest my soul
In Christ alone.
Know His power
In quietness & trust.”

– Hillsong Still

Stewardship…or something

As I have started to think about my dreams – my Tiny House & traveling youth ministry…a PhD & a plot of Pacific Northwest land – I have been going back, back to the dreams that started it all…

fullsizerender

And, I have been thinking forward, forward to what the future may hold.

In high school, I had visions of a youth ministry/program. Running groups for teen moms. Teaching young adults about taking care of themselves & the world around them. Giving a safe place. Providing groups for the depressed & anxious, lonely & alone.

Without being a teen mom myself. Before I knew what sustainable living was. Having no idea of the extent of social media or the means/location God would send me, God still awakened these dreams in my heart.

Yet, I don’t know that I have been a very good example in my own life of these ways of living. ..

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your bodies.” – 1 Cor. 6:19-20

“God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” – Genesis 1:28

When I read these passages, I am reminded: my body & this earth are not my own. I am meant to be a steward of them, and take care of them.

However, as I have been reflecting on these old dreams, and my life up to now, I am not sure I have done my best to take care of either…

I do have a goal to live a more sustainable life, to live in a manner of being a better steward of what God has given me. I want to be able to teach that to others.

But, up til now,  I really don’t think I can say I have done my best here.

Struggling with depression for ten years, and a continuing struggle with anxiety, kind of left me depleted of some of my natural resources.

When you’re depressed, you can be fatigued, irritable, and unable to function at times. You may not fuel your body the best, may not sleep well, and may not care to let the love of others care for you, even as you cannot manage to care for yourself.

Yet, God has been showing me over the last few years, what a free life can feel like. What beauty comes with taking care of ourselves and the world He’s blessed us with.

So, as I continue to prepare for the dreams He is opening up to reality, I will continue to strive to be a steward of the body He’s entrusted me with; and I will begin to look at ways to be a better steward of the environment – living more intentionally, less cluttered. More sustainably, less selfishly.

I’ll let you know how it goes 🙂