Letting Go

Letting

2019 was a hard year, which is evident by my lack of posts. I had so much to write about, but it was all so hard that I couldn’t write about it.

But that’s not what I’m letting go of today.

In asking myself one very hard question, “What do I need to let go of today?” my mind went to several places, but eventually landed on a six-month period in 2015 when it felt like my whole life was falling apart. My most important relationships and my job had disintegrated and because I’d allowed them to become too important in my life, I very nearly disintegrated too. I made a lot of poor decisions in those six months, decisions that hurt people and decisions I’m still dealing with today. If I could erase that time from my life entirely, I would. That’s how much of a difference they made in my heart.

These six months are part of my life I am choosing to release today.

I’ve had enough hurdles and obstacles in my life to know that I will have to continue to release this over the next several months. Maybe even years? Letting go of something that hurt you deeply is not something that happens in a moment. But this morning as I contemplated what it was I needed to let go of, I realized that though I’d moved on from all that happened in that time, I still had not done one very important thing.

I hadn’t forgiven myself.

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I hadn’t forgiven myself.

Several years ago, I went through a period of intentionally trying to forgive someone who hurt me deeply. I did crazy things like post a picture the door I would see every day as I left the house that said “Forgive”. I wrote the word “Forgive” on the inside of my wrist with a sharpie. I posted a banner on my old flip phone that also said forgive, so every time I opened it up, that’s what I saw. And it worked. (You can read about it here.) I was reminded of these crazy tactics today as I put some sticky notes in different places around my house to remind me of a new challenge I started (Side note: I’ve been using the Fabulous app for a few months now in order to create good habits in my life.) And as I placed the sticky notes around my house, I remembered how long it once took me to forgive someone else.

Now it’s time I become intentional about forgiving myself.

Part of what’s been so challenging about forgiving myself for the people I hurt in that six month period is how I was never allowed to apologize. I was devastated when I realized the series of actions I took to hurt them, and I did try to reconcile. My attempts were refused. As a result, I’ve felt a little like I’ve been in a state of limbo, knowing there wasn’t nothing more I could do to make things right, all the while knowing there were people out there who had no desire to ever see me or talk to me again. That’s a pretty painful place to live in, and it hurt for a long time.

hurt

The hurt subsided, and what once consumed my mind stopped consuming my mind. I set my own boundaries in order to ease some of that hurt, but if I’m honest with myself I believed the hurt would only fully subside once they were willing to forgive me. And since I wasn’t given the opportunity to tell them how sorry I was, I think I assumed that never ending that hurt was part of the consequences for what I did.

(I’d never realized that until this moment.)

If I’m honest with myself I believed the hurt would only fully subside once they were willing to forgive me.

But that is not living in freedom, and I do believe that is what God has called us to do. To walk in His glory and to release ourselves for what we have done.

The thesaurus says that another phrase for “letting go” is “it doesn’t matter” and I have conflicting feelings about this. Because what I did absolutely does matter. I undid a heart, and that matters. A lot. Yet in this process of not being able to make it right, I’ve undone my own heart.

And honestly, that matters more. Because I do have control over that.

I hope to discover what it looks like to let go of those six months of my life, lay them at the feet of Jesus and ask him to heal all that I’ve broken in it.

Even myself.

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build

I recently watched the movie Annilhation. It’s not my usual type of movie (I’m not much into sci-fi or scary movies) but so many friends recommended it. In that way you could tell it wasn’t a feel-good kind of epic sci-fi, but a “that really made me think and I’m still thinking about it” kind of movie.

Near the end of the movie, when trying to explain what she witnessed, the main character said, “It wasn’t destroying… it was changing everything. It was making something new.”

What an analogy for the Christian life. For better or worse, we can destroy things and then build them back up into something new.

I remember hearing about how difficult the Bible Content exam was when I first began seminary. It was legnedary. The seminary president said he failed it. The theory was that taking the test was about humbling the students as they entered the seminary experience… breaking them down.

Sometimes we must break down in order to build something new. Sometimes we can break ourselves down too much and perhaps even build the wrong thing up in its place. This is what’s so tricky about building.

I’m thinking I need to leave it all the Builder.

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I am linking up for Five Minute Friday a five-minute free write with a word prompt each week. Today’s prompt is “Include.” http://fiveminutefriday.com

 

 

the body keeps score

I stared at the vanilla latte on the table in front of me. My friend Linda asked questions about what I had shared, and I searched for something sure and concrete to hold on to. The small red table between us reminded me we were at Target and not in the privacy of a home. But that no longer mattered. I felt lost. It didn’t matter who knew.

My chest began to ache as I answered some of her questions, and I moved the cup toward me in what looked like a desire to keep my body warm. But I needed comfort, not warmth. I was scared. That’s why we were there together.

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It was the Saturday before Thanksgiving week. I was 4 months into a new job and terrified. My trauma was resurfacing and new trauma was being formed. This time I was aware of it, and it was happening like the quick burn of a sparkler rather than the slow burn of a candle.

“The body keeps score” is a phrase I’ve learned this year. I haven’t studied trauma much, despite having been through a couple of small ones myself. I’m trying to be more focused on the healing rather than the details how trauma manifests itself. That is a new concept for me, as I previously believed that if I knew all the whys and whos and whens that it would all be solved, understood. And I would heal.

But the true path to healing is much messier. More hues of grey rather than the crisp certainty of black and white. Healing feels like your eyes are partially closed while walking through a dimly lit room, stepping over legos and pillows; you find your way in the dark by experiencing both pain and safe places to land.

My safe place to land was in the eyes of my friend who sat across from me that day and very logically said, “Well, you have options. You are not trapped.” The freedom of this statement caused me to exhale sharply, and I realized I’d been holding my breath for many, many months. Maybe even years.

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It’s been three years since I exhaled. And every year around this time I remember exhaling. I remember the mountains, the job, the drive to work, the stops at Panera to bring breakfast to my staff each Sunday. I remember the co-workers, who were eventually able to exhale two years later, too. I think about driving around Tucson, longing and hoping. Healing and crying. Feeling this sense of being taken up into a tornado where all I could do was react to all that was happening around me.

I remember being released, thankful that I was one of the few in a trauma who have options. I remember that part of the trauma was in my stubbornness to stay, where each step into the job meant stepping on a lego. I couldn’t remain in that job, that system, that was eroding my heart with the fast burn of a sparkler.

The body keeps score of seasons, moments, traumas. That’s why I remember this each year. I wish the score would settle because revisiting that season of my life is hard. But as I revisit I am reminded that hues of grey are often more beautiful to look at the simple black and white. These hues reveal the reality of the human heart and the sinfulness of our actions towards each other. They help keep me grounded in what’s real rather than what I wish was true so that I can make my way through the dimly lit room with my eyes more open than they were before.

autumn moods playlist

I love curated playlist by moods, and after a recent conversation (see my last post) I decided to create one based on the season of Autumn.

Enjoy.

https://open.spotify.com/embed/user/1243610738/playlist/5bQW0v6IxCR2W61GPPSOVc

of seasons and heartbeats

I had an online conversation lately with a few men who were sharing Spotify song lists for the Autumn season. I read in fascination how they described an emotional change that occurs when summer ends and Fall begins; how the music they listen to shifts. One suggested it was about a mood shift from the upbeat tunes of summer into “sleepy” music transition that would eventually lead into Winter. Another guy mentioned the mood of longing, how Fall brings out feelings of nostalgia for him.

This morning I was listening to one of the playlists recommended, and I felt my heart rate slow down. My mind wandered into remembering an old friend, and as I clutched my cup of coffee, I felt the gift this was: a slowing down.

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I missed feeling the seasons change when I lived in Arizona.The temperature changed, but the seasons didn’t. Well – I take that back. It sort of felt like a season change in the spring when the Palo Verde tree blooms and sent my allergies into a tailspin. But at least a color changed…. the only time of year that really happened.

Looking back on that I’m realizing what I missed more was a shift in mood (though the beautiful scenery changes of the Midwest were certainly part of it). I missed the contemplation that settled into my heart during the Fall, the slowing down the snow fall would bring. And then the rejuvenation that happened in my body when I watched the brown earth turn into a thousand colors in the Spring, and the energy of Summer as flip flops and t-shirts became my uniform.

 

So as I sit in this contemplation today, feeling the chilly Fall weather from my head to my toes, I feel my heart beat just a little bit differently. I remember. I’m… wistful. Fall feels like the Sabbath we forget to take during the week. Perhaps God built the seasons for us so our bodies would send us the signals we need: to slow, to rest, to remember, to long.

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kingdom come

 

Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name.

Your kingdom come,

your will be done,

on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread,

and forgive us our debts,

as we also have forgiven our debtors.

 And lead us not into temptation,

but deliver us from evil.

(Matthew 6:9-13)

It’s pretty common for me to use the phrase, “pushing back the Fall” when I’m speaking or teaching. This is part of the privilege of being God’s hands and feet on this earth. He uses us to bring healing, to bring light. In God’s providence, we are daily given opportunities to make the earth more like how God intended it to be when he first created it.

This weekend I’ve been struck by the line in The Lord’s Prayer, “as it is in heaven”. In the context of the prayer, Jesus is speaking on how God is sovereign – that his will is done on earth and in heaven. But it got me thinking about how this phrase reminds us of the great ache we all have: the ache of longing for a home we aren’t yet in, but standing in this place, forgiven, called to advance his kingdom on earth. Already given grace… not yet fully restored to glory.

As it is in heaven

Longing for things to be as God intended is part of the human experience, even for those who can’t name that. We all inherently understand this world is just so broken. And it’s so much easier to look at the world as broken, forgetting that we are, too. It starts with us. This is how revival begins, in the heart of one who recognizes that they are forgiven and are meant for more… yet before the “more” we must stand here on earth and call God’s kingdom down to be part of Jesus’ redemption story.

Redeeming the world one step at a time. And it starts with me.

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of gentleness… and anvils

I’ve always wished I was one of those “soft” people.

Not weak, of course. But tender. With no rough edges. The kind of person whose presence makes you feel calm. The kind of soft that responds carefully and with compassion, rather than jumping to judgement and self-righteousness and a “my way is right” way of thinking. Without defense and thought of how it all affects me, but considers what else might be going on in the situation.


A very soft person has come into my life recently. I’m in awe of her. She responds to everything in love. She is always concerned for me and how I am adjusting to a whole new life. She is ready to jump in and help whenever it’s needed, and often anticipates needs I could never foresee. When a difficult situation arises, she has this way of making it all better without compromise for what is best.


She is modeling to me the great fruit of the spirit: gentleness.

I’ve far too often felt like a bull in a china shop. Stumbling over people with my agenda. Running wild and free with a grand plan ignoring everyone else’s. And any warning signs along the way. My clumsiness has gotten me in trouble so many times, I’m not sure numbers go high enough to count.

But also isn’t even about “getting into trouble,” honestly. That would be as if I just didn’t want to get caught in my sin, rather than actually not want to sin… to be changed from the inside out. To not “appear” like this bull is like the Pharisees with their shiny and polished cups on the outside. To actually not be the bull is to have a fully clean cup. 

Matthew 23: 25-26


For years, I’ve tried so hard to be the gentle and wise person on the outside (with varying degrees of success.) I make so much of trying to appear soft, that I think if I fix that part, the actually being soft will follow. It’s just like trying to glue the fruit onto the branch. So I know, deep down in my heart that I am going the wrong direction… so why do I keep going back to doing instead of learning about the being? For the task is so much easier for me to understand and grasp then the abstract idea of being present and considering everything holistically.

Deep-seeded in this sin of mine, and it may even be that all-important root (i.e.the idol, not just the surface sin) is self-righteousness. It’s a very strange thing knowing that I have a very low self-esteem, but realizing one of greatest sins I struggle with is self-righteousness. But it makes sense. I’m

simply looking for other ways to make myself feel better, and I am looking externally for those things. How I appear to the world is one of the ways I do that. And believing I know better than so many others is my sick and twisted way of trying to feel better about myself, forgetting how this causes me to view others as less than.

I don’t know how to be gentle. Maybe I never will. But I guess I can take some solace in the anvil. Knowing that I am being reshaped and formed into God’s image. An instrument is only useful if it’s the right shape for the task set before it. If I’m on the anvil, it means God still see me as worth reshaping.