Sunday, August 24, 2014

In Search of Goodness

I need to ask for forgiveness...from a lot of people.

I told this story recently of an aha moment with my nephew where he is talking about school and a teacher/leader there, and I do a double take because it is someone I went to school with...and because I struggle with a filter for the connection point between my thoughts and mouth, I reacted. My nephew...being my nephew (and my spawn) dug in...I mean, what did his aunt know that he must now know....Ugh. I felt the eyes of my Sis upon me without even turning my head. I gracefully (NOT!) started backing away from the conversation, but my nephew was relentless...and suddenly I softened (that could only have come from God) and looked him in the eye and said, "It doesn't memories are clouded...I was very angry in those years and most certainly my judgment from then is skewed."

What. The. Heck.???

I remember the dropped jaw on my Sis' face as I looked over at her, but nothing more was said...until supper when she simply couldn't hold it inside anymore. "Heather I have never heard you admit that???" Without missing a beat, I replied, "I know right?! Growth." We both just smiled.

We discussed it later, and it was so good. Good.

It was a moment though...for both of us...that maybe some of the old (for both of us) really was healing, and there was hope.

There. Is. Hope.

I tell this story here and now as much for myself as anyone. I have made some COLOSSAL mistakes in my 43 years. Colossal. My childhood was amazing and then wretched followed by brutal. My parents were ill-equipped for marriage and parenthood, but even more they were ill-equipped for being, well, imperfect. They seemed to have been raised during a time and by people where the expectations were high and the margin allowed for error extremely low. They went to church and loved God, but I am not sure if for all the right reasons. Of all the things I have a strong rememberance or opinion on, their salvation is not one of them. I trust that they and God can handle that one just fine without me piping in from the cheap seats. I have spent a considerable amount of time the past several years working on my "Father Wound" and "Mother Wound" as Eldredge refers to them. Hell, I didn't even realize I had either prior not because I didn't have all of the inward or outward signs like a suffering leper, but simply because the walls around my heart in these areas were SO thick and my arrogance that "I got it." so beastly that I had myself fooled. I mean, I was the "reasonable" one the "peacemaker" in the family....I look back at the titles given to me by others and ordained for me by my own ego, and I laugh nervously. I was neither reasonable or a peacemaker, I was in full blown survival mode and trying not to be "found out" for the miserable wretch I was...I was BEASTLY on the inside. A full on fraud of the highest order. I hated my parents for being complete and utter douches. I hated myself. I hated everything. I wanted to be good. I did so very much. I knew there was freedom in Jesus. I clung to it like a life raft in the middle of a stormy ocean, but I had NO idea what to do with it. I didn't know how to lay it down at his him. Worst of the arsenal of protective weapons I held so dear, too often...very often...I used my faith as one too. Dear God forgive me.

I was on the eve of 41 years of age when I realized I was angry. I had deceived myself over 30 of those years that I. Was. Fine., and the unwinding of many years of anger has been brutal to my heart, my mind, my soul, and even my body. In two years, I have found a lot of healing, and for that I am so grateful. I have a long way to go.

I am currently reading a book "The Utter Relief of Holiness" by John Eldredge. I finished the audio study on it a few weeks back and have already loaned it out (there is a five deep waiting list in my tribe to borrow it). I am now reading the book like my life depends on it. I have to stop every few pages and just sit for a moment and reflect because it almost makes too much sense to my wounded heart. A few weeks back I was asked to speak to a group of 75 13-18 year old girls. WHAT??!?!?!  I was struggling with what to speak about and then about 1:30 a.m. that morning God gave me the words, and I lay in my bunk using my cell phone as a flashlight writing them down as fast as they were given to me. Just a few hours later, I stood (shaking like a leaf) in front of these young, beautiful, smart, broken, loving women...and opened my mouth. I was stunned by the reaction. Frankly, I was pretty stunned at what came out of my mouth. We are taught both inside and outside of the church, Christians and non-Christians, that we are innately bad and that we need to/should/better be fighting the urge to be bad 24/7. I was taught that, at home (definitely) and at church growing up. I now believe that to be a lie. I neither believe that to be the intent of the gospel or our lives either by letter or spirit (of it). I have spent years playing by the rules, failing at the rules, repenting and recommitting to the rules, and succumbing to the "bad" in me because I was enough...whatever excuse I had on any given day. When I was doing well following the rules, I was unbearable to be around, and when I was not following the rules well, I hid. This cat and mouse game I was playing with my life made me miserable. This is not to say my whole life has been one of misery or that I was not good or did not produce good. This is to say that I was not fully alive because I was not fully happy. I was in spiritual and emotional torment. Fighting to be what I was supposed to be while failing so explosively that it took a great deal of energy to make that not look as awful as it was...anyone following me???

I have been loved poorly in my life. I was not protected emotionally by my parents and in some cases I was not protected physically by my parents. I have been shamed by the ones who were supposed to love me unconditionally. There is no going back or do-over for them or me for the first 18 years of my life...or the many since. It is done.

In that same breath, I cannot undo all that I have done wrong. The people I have hurt, shamed, offended, or wronged. I cannot unwind my mistakes or take back words said in anger or fear. There are some in my life that have passed away, that I can no longer go back and thank for loving me in spite of my brokenness.

Life. Goes. On.

I am halfway through my life (should I live the average life span). I have been given more chances to "get it right" than any single individual deserves. My mistakes could fill a volume of books. In all this, I have a good heart. I was born with a good heart.

I have worked very hard to recover the good heart I entered this world with, and I am getting there. Slowly but surely. It isn't simply the recovery as much as it is the unearthing of it. I never lost it as much as I simply hid it. I hid it from myself, as well as others. To show it meant to be vulnerable, and at the age of nine, I learned that I could ill-afford to be vulnerable on that front. I have spent a lot of time and money working to heal that nine year old girl and her sweet heart. It has been money I would spend again ten fold, but it has been brutal. We hurt ourselves. We hurt others. Our brokenness from ourselves and other's actions against us...become the cornerstones of our lives if we let them. I no longer want to let them.

My legacy is not that I was broken, but that I was healed. That I forgave. That I forgive. That I love. With. All. My. Heart.

There are a lot of people that are no longer in my life by their choice. I forgive them too.

This past week I had dinner with a friend (#tribe) and afterwards while driving home, it struck me that we are all just holding each other's hands, walking each other home. I do not deserve the tribe I have been given who take the time, energy, love, and deep healing it is taking to walk me home. Several years ago, I knew I was broken, but only in healing have I realized just how very much I was much more than I recognized then...even crumpled in the floor in tears. I just didn't know.

Young kids, mostly young women, ask me to talk to them, pray for them, help all that, they simply need a friend, a mentor, help finding their voice, to be reassured they are okay, to know they are loved, and to be given hope. The need of this generation of young people is breathtaking. They have everything at their fingertips yet nothing. How is that?? I am overwhelmed by it...not to mention somewhat intimidated and frightened by the whole scene as their need reveals my own, and I am left to deal with searching out deeper healing for my life so that I can be a hand for them. There is deep truth in the airlines' instructions to put the face mask on yourself first before the person next to you...even when it is a child. I never understood that...TRULY...before now.

"And I can promise you, there isn't a snowball's chance in hell of you becoming the person God made you to be without the healing of your humanity. You can't get to holiness without wholeness. The two go together." ~ John Eldredge, The Utter Relief of Holiness {Amen.}

I bought a new book about David this weekend at Beth Moore...I am SO excited to read it. I found the irony of this reference today that I read in John's book..."King David was a man who knew his character flaws, felt the anguish of regret, spent many a tormented night wrestling with his failings. And yet, in Psalm 119, David wrote this: "I run in the path of your commands, because you have set my heart free."...freedom of heart and the passionate pursuit of God's commands?...Genuine holiness restores human beings; restored human beings possess genuine holiness." {Wow.}

I love David, but I never realized how much I relate to David...character flaws, anguish of regret, tormented night...those are pages from my own life.

I am in search of goodness. Others' goodness. Especially my own.

I have a good heart. Each of us has a good heart.

Goodness is the healing of our personal humanity. Of mine.

I cannot change the mistakes of my past. The years of judgement lodged against others and myself. I can do something about today, tomorrow, and the day after that. The Bible, church, our not a weapon. It has taken me years to recognize that. I am not going to change myself or others by waving my sword and yelling at the top of my lungs (Even. When. I. Am. Right.) I am not going to right a wrong by being quiet, meek, and straddling the fence so as not to offend. There is another way. I haven't perfected it or figured it all out, but I know now...more than ever...that there is another way. I am determined to work on that...figure THAT out...because my own life depends on it.

I am tired of being angry.

I am tired of being scared.

I am tired.

I want my life to speak grace and strength and encouragement into others.

I am laying down my sword.

Sunshine Dreams to You ~ Today and Every Day! :)

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

By The Grace of God Go I

I have wrestled the pen (so to speak) on stating anything via here or even a social media blip on the passing and circumstances around Robin Williams' death. The fact is part of my pause is because I am still in shock. 

I grew up with Robin Williams starting with Mork and Mindy. No generation identifies more with the breadth and depth of his career than mine...the awkward and often identity-less Gen X. For some of us "latch key" kids, who were raised more by TV than parents...he IS the parent we never had. As he aged and matured and LIVED so did we...and we watched...and LEARNED. 

So as I deal with a mourning I am surprised by (none of us REALLY thinks it is "normal" to deeply mourn a celebrity (especially one we never met)?!...I am disturbed at the look in his eyes in photo after photo that flashes on the TV or across my social media feeds. There is clearly an emptiness there. Why didn't I ever notice that before?...why didn't anyone?...why didn't anyone help?

By the grace of God go I.

That was my thought after 36 hours of mourning and tributes to Robin Williams.

Last night I had dinner with one of my #tribe, and it was amazing...thoughtful, yummy, deep, and funny. We were doing life together at that table. I was and am so grateful to people who want to do life with me to this level. Truly sharing the highs and lows...struggles and wins...questions and answers....with me and others. I have wrestled deeply since camp with what I saw and experienced, and last night was a release valve for my wrought spirit. As we shared back and forth last night, we both sensed the deepening and shift in our friendship. {Deep. Smile.}

So as I see fresh coverage on Robin Williams' suicide, I am struck by the question in my heart...Did he have a tribe? Not friends...I know he had friends. Not family...I know he has family. Not co-workers...I know he has great peers. 

Did. He. Have. A. Tribe.???

At camp, I got asked by many...fellow counselors and campers alike to explain my tribe theory. I should post those conversations, but not in this one. The point today is that people are inanately curious about tribes because I believe they sense they are missing something in their lives, just like I did when I was first reading and cultivating my own beliefs on it. 

The fact is we need people in our life who we can be fully transparent with...whatever it is....who will be an encourager to us while also being a mirror to our face holder....who will love us and pray with and for us...who will intervene spiritually for us...who will push us and hold us. People who don't expect us to have all of the answers, but openly share their knowledge and are willing to search out the answers with us that we don't know. Who will let us be vulnerable and raw without judgement or scorn. People who will walk through life with us on the superficial levels, but more importantly on the deeper levels of life.

I have no judgement towards Robin Williams for taking his own life for I know in my heart that any one of us could be at that point at any given moment. What I am realizing is that what keeps me from the darkest of places is my "tribe" relationships where I am able to share the  darkness with...and they help direct me to the light. I am not sure that makes a great deal of sense in the wee hours of the morning as the sun rises in the distance, but somehow I believe it does...and not just to me.

This morning I am more grateful than ever for my tribe...for the gift of the original C7 and their gift of the tribe lesson...for a God who knew what I needed and sent it in a beautiful lesson wrapped in a messy swampy season of my life. Without my tribe, the race before me would be too much...Too. Much.

Life is hard. Growth sucks.

Yet...God is in the roses and the thorns. 

Tribes matter. We all need a tribe to walk through this life with...and then to celebrate with on the other side. 

Rest in peace Robin Williams. May we all reach for people more in light of the lessons in your death and the beauty of your life. 

Find and build your tribe...Today. ❤️☀️