Sunday, June 21, 2015

I Am Okay (& So Are You)

Sometimes I have to remind myself that I am okay. I just had my first genuine smile in two days.

*Deep Sigh*

First a disclaimer....I wish I wasn't hotwired as I am. It troubles me (not just you) that I take on the happenings and struggles around me as if they are my own. It troubles me too when my mind spins out, and I have little to no control over my thoughts. It troubles me too when the tears come from deep caverns inside my soul out of nowhere and for no apparent reason. It troubles me too when I feel myself shutting down as I turn my phone off, lock my door, turn all messages on do not disturb, dim the lights, light a candle, and curl up under a quilt. It troubles me too when even words with God become strained and inaudible. It troubles me too when I can't write, color, read, or even watch a movie because everything hurts, illicits pain of some sort. It troubles me too when Gail works on my weary muscles and I hurt worse after than before because every nerve ending is tender and on fire, and I end up contorted for hours afterwards in pain as her magic slowly works its way through my muscles. It troubles me too that even after learning and studying more about what makes me tick, that I cannot control any of this OR even predict it. It troubles me too.

I want to type that this has been a hard few weeks, but since I seem to be typing those same words EVERY week maybe I should try a new approach...clearly I am in a season that I am just now recognizing. I don't have a cute name for it (YET!). I don't know when it really started or nary a clue when it will end. I do know that it feels more brutal than any I have experienced thus far, and I am a little thrown by that as I have had some real doosies this past several years. A girl kinda wants to raise her hands and ask, "More God?! Really?!?!?!"

What I am hoping to document here today is a touchstone so that as periods come again (that look and feel like the past few days), I will recognize them and relax into them because at the end of the day....I am okay.

First, I need to remember that I am a child of God and no matter how far out of sorts my heart, mind, body, and soul feel...he is right there beside me and in it until the end.

Second, stop fighting it. I am a problem solver by day and therefore feel an intense need to be one by night. Have a problem, let Heather fix it. I like that. Hell, I love that. It is my thing. I have to face it, when I am in that "space" (lets call it a space until I can find something prettier to call it), I can't fix it. No. Matter. What. I need to simply let myself feel all of the feelings. All. The. FEELINGS. It is okay, and I will be okay.

Third, I am not a bad person because I need to be away from people for a few hours, days. I need to get over all of the GUILT I feel over it. Those who know and love me, will understand. Those who don't, what do I care?!

Fourth, some people might call what I go into a depression, it isn't, though it carries a lot of the characteristics, but who cares if they do?! I don't. I did, but now I don't. If I am or it is, I have excellent company as a lot of great hearts and minds struggle with depression in various forms. I am not ashamed that I feel depressed when the world feels heavy around me, I would be more worried if I did not as this world is hard and would have to be heartless to not internalize some/any of it.

Fifth, this is not a statement on my family, friends, or tribe as I was prone to believe for far too long. It doesn't matter if you have a great family or a dysfunctional one. Many friends or one. A faithful tribe or none. You are hotwired as you are from birth, fired like steel by your environment, and pounded like the waves by the ebbs and flows of life. The only person who can control you is YOU and God...and let me just state here that the fact that I still am challenged (and will probably be to some degree the remainder of my life) does not in any way diminish me or my God. In fact, the truth is that it is because of God's good and faithful work in me and frankly, my allowance of such work, that I am able to write about this here today. That the "spaces" last only a day or days and not longer. God is faithful to me and is teaching me more and more about who I am and how I work....and all of that helps. God has done a good work in me, and I am eternally grateful. I once believed the lies that I just felt too much and something was wrong with me, and slowly I am learning to love my oversized heart, my deep thoughts (from a shallow mind...LOL), and my BIG feelings about everything from a Hallmark ad to Haiti to an employee who is struggling....because to me it ALL matters.

Sixth, Jesus loves me. God made me. The Holy Spirit "gets" me. In the end, the trinity is all I ever really need. There is a lot of hope and peace in that for me.

Seventh, joy comes in the morning. Psalms 30 promises us that. I trust in that. I live that. I can testify to it as it happened to me...again...this morning.


So how do I know I am okay...because last night when I could barely move due to back pain and was still completely in the midst of the "space" that I had occupied for a couple of days, I went searching for good words. I have a Pinterest board entitled Faith Begins & Ends w/My ❤️, and I have learned to go scroll through it when I feel this way...and last night I saved a few of them knowing that while there was no overt JOY in the moment then, I had faith that there would be...tomorrow or soon. One of the ones I saw, read, and saved (IN FAITH) to my phone last night was this one...

...and there you have it. Because the morning did bring me word of his unfailing love. My back pain was eased. I felt touches of joy. I knew the veil was lifting.

The Bible teaches us that David was a "man after God's own heart" so even though Psalms has some of the most wretched lines cross-stitched in with the most breathtakingly beautiful ones. Even though David wrestled with himself and God on a regular basis. Even though David sinned TREMENDOUSLY. Even though...God loved him. God. Loved. Him. God restored David and David loved God....with his whole, messed up, deeply flawed, slightly erratic (am I still talking about David) heart.

What does David's relationship with God teach us about our own? What does it teach me about my own?

David is a gift to me. David's words and laments and praises feel familiar and raw and honest in the face of a world that shocks me...Every. Day. A world that hurts me. Shames me. Wrecks me. Tortures my heart. David's words are a balm to my weary soul that still questions my own worthiness to a God that gave all. To a world that doesn't wholly know him. To this broken person who meets broken people in a broken world...Every. Day. A person who dreams of loving others as she has been loved by Christ. A person who fails LARGE daily. A person who loves too much. A person who feels too much. A person who finds beauty in the growth right alongside the pain in it.

God loves me. This I know.

There is a beautiful song entitled In Over My Head (Crash Over Me) by Jenn Johnson/Bethel Music, and I have provided the link {in the song title} to the video with lyrics so that you can sit somewhere quiet and let the words wash over you and deep within your soul. I want to be clear that even in the midst of a season or "space" that I play music (like this) that I am trusting is speaking to a deep place inside of me even when I am feeling NOTHING of it on the surface. This, THIS, is one of those songs. The words...PERFECTION. I think, I know, that one of my biggest challenges in life, in my walk with Christ, in my walk through this world with my need for control. It is the space deep inside of me where the enemy, to be frank, has me by the proverbial nuts. To say that I am better today would be the understatement of the century, but in that same vein I must acknowledge that the wound where it originated, this need for control, is so deep and rooted that it will not and cannot be dislodged over the course of a spiritual season. It will remain my Achilles' heel for the foreseeable future. To acknowledge that, is another forward motion in growth; I am truly grateful for it too. I do know that I will conquer it as God has promised as much, as I promised him that I would continue to hit my knees and repent when I felt it coming on...again and again. ;) #bless

So....where do we/I go from here?

First, I am okay. Second, I am troubled too when THIS washes over me. Third, I feel the lessons that God is teaching me in these challenging spaces and seasons that he is seeing me the good parent he is. Fourth, while I reside in a broken world, I am loved by a perfect father, and my faith is solely in him...and only him. Fifth, I know that in all of this, he is birthing a unique voice in me. I have resisted it for so long, I feel now I could/should have predicted the painful birthing process for it.

Bottom line...I am not going to be fully satisfied this side of heaven {neither will you}

...and that is okay. I am okay. {You are okay.}

God...come do whatever you want to...I am I dive into the wave that is crashing over me...Today. Tomorrow. And every day after that...this side of heaven. Amen.

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

Saturday, June 13, 2015

The Gift of Romans 5

So what does that really mean for me? for you?
I am wrestling with Romans 5 this morning. Hell, who are we kidding?! I am just wrestling.
I dream for a day when the wrestling will stop, but deep in my heart I know that day will arrive soon enough and it will be my first day in heaven...and it will be glorious. Until then, I am walking this earth, this broken world, full of broken people, inside this broken person...Wrestling. With God.
On a morning where you are having tough conversations with people about stuff like race, justice, giving, etc., Romans 5 can wreck you and your heart. We "rejoice in our suffering"??? Ummm...not there yet...not there on most days...during most trials.
We throw around words like justice and grace and reconciliation, but what do any of us really know about any of those things? Truly?
I am asking.
I am asking because I am naïve on these topics. Have I read a lot and asked a lot of questions and listened? Yes, yes, and yes. But do I know? Know?? I do not. I am just learning to understand the depths of the issues that plague or nation and our world. I am just beginning to grasp that one article, great idea, or good person is limited on the impact it can make in these causes. I am just beginning to understand the pain.
I still find myself wanting to be understood as I wrestle with these topics....and I hear God whisper, "Seek first to understand..." and the tears burn on my face. I am selfish. I don't understand, and I don't feel understood. "Keep going." he encourages.
See, for me, justice and reconciliation is forcing me to comprehend my own salvation through Christ on a deeper level, and let me just say it is unpleasant, at best, and horrifically terrifying at it's worst.
Today, I actually heard him whisper, "You still don't understand how much I love you." and I don't.
*Ugly Crying*
In the past two weeks, I have used the phrase twice that you have to understand the darkness of hell to fully appreciate the grace of heaven. I believe that...more and more every day. I believe that because I see/feel God showing me my own darkness and how destructive it has been and continues to be in my life...and on the flip side how much he loves much he believes in me...the depth of his grace that he offers me...well, it is opening my heart.
I struggle with my own prejudices towards others and those towards me. I struggle to reconcile what is true about me versus what I have been told is true about me (i.e., what I believed was true about me).
So what can I learn about reconciliation (in all forms) through my own reconciliation with Christ? Well, to be frank...a lot. God and I have had a relationship since I was 13...he has known me my whole life...and certainly our relationship has deepened over the past several years, but in all of that do I really comprehend the reconciliation that is mine with God through Christ Jesus? I am ashamed to say I do not.
So....if that is true, than the rest of the story is that I don't fully understand reconciliation in the world's sense whether we are talking about race, warring nations, women's rights, generational poverty, etc.
...and with that last sentence, I felt another shackle fall from my shoulders.
A shackle of defensiveness and expectation that I am supposed to "get this" or "know this" because I am not.
These are tough times to live on this planet. There is so much good, but there is also so much bad. There is so much to do, but then there are the needs of my one little family or community or business. It is hard and overwhelming at times to know what to work on. I feel like I am caring too much and doing too little. The desire to crawl in bed and stick my head under the covers...for forever...crosses my mind more than I am comfortable admitting to. In the age of social media and 24/7 news, I/we are inundated with information and thoughts and opinions and perspectives and pain...and sometimes it is simply TOO much. Too. Much.
This morning, God took me to Romans 5 like the gift-giver he is and said, read this...remember this...remember me...remember you and me....remember the work we are doing in your heart??? Any of this ringing a bell? I am smiling as I type the last part, but the truth is that God sasses me sometimes, and I deserve every bit of it.
I have BIG feelings. I love BIG. I have a deep desire to learn and do better. Sometimes I get heart gets overwhelmed. Sometimes God has to bring me back to center and remind that at the end of the day, it is about me and him...and if I will just focus on that...focus on him...the rest of it...well, it tends to fall into place more easily, make more sense, and bless my heart...I find some perspective.
If we are "helping" the world and not going to God as our fuel source, we are going to end up weary and dry. Sometimes it is simply asking him, "God where are you in THIS?" and waiting for him to answer...because he is in THIS. He is all of this. He is with us. He is with me.
There is this amazing song on Hillsong United's new album Empires called "Here Now (Madness)" (click link for You Tube video). Last night driving to the airport to surprise my nephews, it came on, and I suddenly started crying. It was coming from a deep place (you know those tears), and I asked God what is this? Something new that I have to give up to him...and I suddenly remembered the prayer at the end of Chapter 2 in Tozer's book (see photo below).
"...I come trembling, but I do come." and "...Thou mayest enter and dwell...without a rival." Wow.
I do come God. I do. Trembling from head to foot. Broken. Eager. Earnest. Hopeful. Thank you for reminding me that you are here. You are here now. It makes no sense, but this is grace. This is YOUR grace. Let me lay face down at your feet and drink again from its goodness. I forget that it is there for me. I forget how great and deep my own need. I simply forget. Wash over me. Once again.
What do you need to give up? What is God asking of you that you are resisting? I feel him challenging me in deep and new places. Is he challenging you too? Please share. It is important for us to be a tribe encourage each other. Growth sucks. No doubt. It is also the door to greater joy. Greater love.
Here now. Let us hear him.