Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Me Too

Sometimes I fear we believe we must have it figured out before we share.
We must have crossed through that middle space, now having clarity and beautiful perspective before we can share about the depths through which we waded to get to that other side.

The books we read, maybe a memoir or an intended encouragement...all look the same. 
They have a beginning with some sort of challenge/road block/unexpected bump. 
They have a middle that includes an inciting incident/come to Jesus/reckoning moment 
and an ending where it's either all wrapped up in a tidy bow or it's not.
Either way there is a beginning, middle and end. 

The authors share their struggle and the victory they found, in hopes that we might push through whatever we are facing to find that "promised land" as if saying...
Look, over here it's better so keep going.

Sometimes I want to call BS. 

I want to say, your story isn't mine and there is no guarantee I will find what you found in this lifetime so don't give me the steps, the outline or the script. 

Where are the stories of those in the thick of it, the ones who haven't reached the other side of the valley yet? Where are the stories that say, "I'm here in the middle and if you are too...let's do this together because I haven't figured it out but maybe we can together." Why doesn't anyone share that part?

Some days I see things clearly. I see a God who has ordained my every step and still allows me to choose the path I take. Ever patient in my choices, drawing me back to Him no matter which path I choose. Not a puppet master, but an artist who creates along the way--pursing me as I pursue the higher calling on my life.

Some days I feel weighted. I feel as if I'm under water, barely enough strength to come up now and again for a deep breath that ensures I can last a little longer. 
I don't quite see the point of it all, I don't want to be tested, used, or drawn in any which way. 
I question my telling God I would do ANYTHING He asked of me. 
Every step feels heavy and without purpose other than to just survive. 
What the $#&* am I doing anyway? 

Of course, then I feel guilty for questioning anything at all, my doubts rising to the surface make me feel fraudulent and because authenticity is to me as breath is to life I find myself crippled at the thought of being fake. 

So, how do I reconcile my wrestling on the hard days?
How do I give myself space to doubt and process it out without feeling like I must have all the answers right then?

I am learning to give myself grace on the days that I doubt. 
Learning that it's okay to wrestle with the hard stuff and that not having an answer for it at that moment doesn't make me fake but makes me real.

It's okay to shout "this year" "today sucks" and still love Jesus.
To grumble and complain while also reading your Bible and telling Him you're kinda ticked off the way the weeks have gone and you don't even feel like doing this but you're doing it because you do believe He is faithful despite the muddy waters you travel in.

I don't have it all figured out. 
I have days where even the hard stuff feels purposeful.
And there are days when the hard stuff, no matter how big or small feels completely pointless and I want to throw in the towel on this "upstream living".

I guess all this is...

 is a me too.

Feeling weighted? Me too.
Feeling like this is really hard? Me too.
Feeling like some days are easier than others, to live out this life in Christ, to be used and poured out in all the ways? Me too. 

I haven't arrived, nor do I think I will in this lifetime.
But I do believe that each moment that is hard, and each moment that is good and each moment that is painful is doing something in me. 
It's refining me and making me more like Christ and on the hardest of days I still choose that over a life without Him at all. 

Hardship produces qualities in you that no other experience can.
The tough stuff brings about such things that cannot, in any other way, draw you into a nearness with Christ. 

I guess I'm thankful for those "reached the other side stories" after all, otherwise I wouldn't know that statement to be true and I wouldn't know there were others who had once said,

"me too"

Friday, January 15, 2016

Shame and Sledding

I love road trips. Long or short, as long as I'm in the front seat to avoid car-sickness I am game.

The last two years I've taken a long road trip...long as in, from here to Tijuana, Mexico in a 15 passenger van with our youth group. I've loved it. Good music, good but not constant conversation (at least in the nearly all guy van!) and just the sense of "getting away". 

I'm unable to go this year, so instead I joined a group of students and adults on the annual winter retreat. This year, in a new place we were surrounded with snow. It was beautiful- there isn't a scene much more peaceful to me than mountains full of snow. It just projects a silence and calm that stills my fidgeting soul.

The topic was heavy for the weekend, looking at the shame in our lives and trying to trace where it comes from. Becoming honest with ourselves and taking ownership of some things while allowing God to heal and mend the areas we've so poorly tried to fix on our own. So often the shame we carry along isn't even from something we've done, but from a story we've allowed ourselves to believe about ourselves. 

That's just touching the surface, and even though I'd had a heads up on the topic and it's been something we've been discussing a little with our families, it still took the weekend for me to process and then formulate thoughts around it.

I'm a verbal processor... or at least a 'put it into words of some form' processor and the moment we got home I was writing and emailing and texting my very patient friends while also spewing slash crying to my husband.

It's hard to be so vulnerable and raw with yourself, let alone with others.

I'm blaming part of my unprecedented vulnerability on the fact that I got a concussion while sledding at the retreat and I've yet to feel like myself. I was told I can't use that excuse forever, but until I'm 100% I might play that card. I'm just glad there isn't a video out there of me. 

Part of my "junk" is that I'm not a fan of failing. It's a few layers thick and one of the reasons is because I don't want to look dumb... and I don't want people to look at me and think I'm dumb and not like me. So I stick to what I know I'm good at. It's why I stood at the top of the sledding hill for a good hour before Iwas forced by Shawn went down. I hadn't done it in years, I was freaked out and what if I messed up??

Well, I didn't... At least the first two times. Third time was the charm and here we are 5 days later and I'm still recovering from a not visible injury that's made me angry. I've felt so mad that I can't seem to start anything without getting my feet kicked out from under me.

I started training for another Half Marathon last week, and now running is on hold until I feel 100%. 

This is the crux for me. Do I keep going, knowing it's not going to be perfect? Do I throw in the towel, say I won't be ready in time for the Half and because I can't do it how I want to do it...quit altogether?

Do I never try anything that scares me ever again? Because that's pretty much what I want to do. 
I have a good case for it at the moment, and yet I know it's not an absolute truth.

Shawn/ the sledding  enforcer  encourager texted me this yesterday...

"When people do failure avoidance, they will never achieve the kind of courage and risk taking that lead to bold innovation."
- John Ortberg

Ouch. And thanks. 

I do not want to be held back by anything.
By perceived shame from failing or by fear of failing.

I've prided myself on being a risk taker in so many other areas, and yet I've come to realize that it's typically been in areas I already secretly know I can be awesome at. Yikes...hello pride!

I sort of feel like Ben Stiller's character in Along Came Polly. As an insurance actuary he assembles and analyzes data to estimate the probability and likely cost of the occurrence of an event such as death, sickness, injury, disability, or loss of property (wikipedia) 
This is all fine and dandy as a profession, but he begins using this in his daily life. 

I'm pretty sure as a Jesus follower I didn't sign up for the "risk free" version of life. The last two years worth of blog posts should show that I'm fully knowledgeable about the uncomfortable and hard places God has asked us to go. 

I wonder then, why I've yet to allow this transformation in these other areas of my life. I think to some extent I've not given them much thought since they didn't seem to be interfering with my daily life, nor my spiritual walk at the present.

And yet... God is continuing to show me layers that I had not fully surrendered to Him and although I can honestly say I hadn't explored them until recently, I would be missing out on 'life to the full' if I were to cover them back up and proceed on.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Hello 2016- New Theme

There is something about a new year, isn't there?
A fresh start.
A new number to have to remember to write down.
A beginning- again.

I'm not into resolutions, but I am into goal setting.
Tangible goals with dates and a reasons and ways to get there. I did a webinar with Michael Hyatt who does the best sort of training on goal-setting. He has several free resources as well as paid ones. I highly recommend just checking out his blog, podcasts and website. There is something there for everyone, no matter if you're a CEO of a big company or a stay-at-home Mom.

If we don't set goals we get stale and stagnant and life passes us by.

I'm excited about the goals I've set this year, excited about continuing to step forward in multiple areas of my life and about what God has in store for me, for us.

My husband and I went out to dinner with our close friends, we refer to them as "framily" because they are friends who really have become family. They know us, our kids, our family.
They hear the hard and the good, they ask us tough questions and make us better people. They kinda know everything. We all went over our goals and not only does that provide accountability, it's exciting to see what God is doing in each of us and as families.

I'm not picking a word this year per say, but I am picking a theme.

For 2016 the theme is "keep moving"

Moving forward into each area God has asked me to move.
Move forward in areas God is taking me...even if I don't feel He "asked" me to ;)
Be willing to move even when I don't have a clue where I'm going.
Move my body more.
Move my mind, my spirit, my prayers...all of it forward.

What about you? Do you set goals? Did you pick a word or a theme for 2016?