Archive for October, 2010

October 25, 2010

Just FYI

Life has been so much more than busy the last month (year?) or so. There is a lot of transition happening around here. 

067.1
And also, sometimes Jesus is confrontational.
And sometimes He says "What is the point of examining your life if you are not going to change?"
And sometimes I get really scared at the thought of really seeing and understanding some of my wrong thought patterns and screwed up ideas.
And realize that I am way more scared of change than I ever would have thought (don't tell anybody).
And I realize that I am a thousand times more defensive than I ever would have thought.  I mean I'm like scary, strategically defensive in ways that I didn't even realize until He pointed them out. 
And there is really no way to change if I am so bent on defending myself so fiercely.
But somewhere along the way I picked up the idea that being perfect was more important than being honest.
And that the best way to "fix" myself was to punish myself.
Which made dealing with any problems that I may have accidentally uncovered seem like a terrible, awful idea and all but impossible to do without being totally crushed or at least incapacitated for awhile.

But then He said "Perfection is not what is required.  Honesty is what is required."
And I sort of came undone. Which was really good.  Because that lie is sort of my whole lfe.  And being honest with myself, and with Him, and with the world, seems way easier than being perfect.
And I realized that if I stop punishing myself, then nobody will be punishing me.  Which sounds great.
And then I can just humble myself and repent and start making different choices.

He has pointed out that my life is a result of my choices.  Which I will admit garnered a little "Ouch" from me.  But He didn't do it to be condemning, (duh?)  It was actually a very empowering thing to realize once I let it sink in instead of defending my way out of it.  Because it means that I can reshape my life by making better choices.  Though yes, some unfortunate things have happened to me, they do not shape my life; the choices I make following those events are what shape my life.   And I totally know that this is super basic stuff for a lot of people and it has all been said to me before, but when He says it it's all kinds of different.

And I have talked to Him about having the "right" to be upset.  When something isn't going how I would like it to or when I'm setting a boundary and it is hurtful to someone. 

And this is how that went:
Me:  God this sucks, I hate it.  This is hard.
Him:  I know but it is right and I never promised you easy.
Me:  Well I have the right to be upset right now.
Him:  Ok. You also have the right to choose how that looks.  Throwing a fit is not helpful, being angry is not helpful, shutting down is not helpful, melting down is not helpful.  And you don't have time or energy to waste on things that are not helpful.  It is ok for you to grieve this hurt.
Me:  What does that even look like?
Him: You get to choose.
Me:  Ok, but I'm afraid that if I choose to feel this pain it is going to swallow me up or crush me.  At the very least it is going to ruin the rest of my day.  Help me?
Him:  Have I ever allowed you to be swallowed or crushed?  You can cry without falling apart.  You can talk to me about your pain.  And I will be right here to hold you and comfort you.  And you can keep on living your life.  The world does not have to stop for you to grieve.  Talk to me, let it out.  Take a deep breath and move on.

So, kind of a lot going on.  A lot of challenging stuff.  But it's good I think to be challenged.  But it is reeeeally hard too.

156
Birth pains and all that jazz…

See you on the flip side…

Love, love. 

 

Advertisements
October 18, 2010

Getting Called

Ha~ so the tough (awesome) thing about being surrounded by Amazing Friends is~

I get called on my stuff.

060.1
The tough (not so awesome) thing about being born a grown up~ nobody ever called me to a higher standard.  As a kid, at times when I maybe should have been taught or told how to do something I was just sort of left to figure it out on my own.  And as an adult there have been times when I needed to be taught or told how to do something and My Amazing Friends have (very thankfully) been willing to come alongside me and help me figure things out.

There are times though when I get overwhelmed, or screw up, or drop balls, as we all do, and my tendency is to have a pity party, throw a fit, have a meltdown, whatever you want to call it.  Point being~ when I can’t fix everything, instead of just doing what I can, I do things that aren’t even remotely helpful.  And the other day, I totally got called on it.

And it was reeeeeally hard and kind of awkward.
And it was extremely helpful and needed.

Because the intention behind it was to be helpful, to point out something so that I could fix it, to call me out of my funk so that I could function.  It was done right and it was done out of love.  And though in the moment, (and ok maybe for the next day or so), I struggled internally with everything that was said, it was humbly received in the spirit it was given.

Honestly I have been called on my stuff before and it has been less effective.  Maybe because of the context of the relationship or the topic being discussed, maybe because I was not in a place to receive constructive criticism or willing to be held accountable, for whatever reason this time was different.  I sat quietly, (probably wide eyed, you’ll have to ask her), and fought against the urge to be defensive.  Instead I listened intently.  I willed myself not to put everything she said through my negative filter so that “I see how you could do this differently and be more effective” didn’t sink in as “You are doing everything wrong”.  And gosh it was tough.  I’m sure it wasn’t her favorite conversation to have either, but I am ever so grateful that she did.

“You have to carry your own backpack” is what she said, “Nobody else is going to carry it for you”. And wow, unless she stole my journal and went through it, (I might be still trying to convince myself that she didn’t)  I don’t think she knew that the day before I had gotten the same message (picture) from another Very Important Friend (God).

(No kidding, both images in this post are from the day before our talk)

001
And of course she said a lot of other very wise things, but that’s what stuck with me, most likely because of the pictures I had already been given.

Anyway, the result I think (hope), is I am left with no excuse for my inaction or irresponsibility.  I can’t blame others for my indecisiveness and lack of motivation.  When I can’t fix everything I will just fix what I can.  When doing everything right seems overwhelming, I will just do the next right thing.  Instead of doing nothing when my list seems impossibly long, I will just move down the list as best I can.  I will carry my own backpack because it is the right thing to do, because nobody else should have to do it for me.  Really, it wouldn’t have been given to me if I couldn’t carry it.

And I’m left in awe again, humbled and grateful for the way God loves me through this fantastic circle of truly wonderful people He has placed in my life.

So a million thanks to My Amazing Friends for all the love and support.
And thanks a million to You-Know-Who for the straight talk (kick in the pants).

Love you so, so much.

October 14, 2010

Talking about It

Dear Society,
Stop telling our girls that feminine equals sexual.
Ever-So-Sincerely,
This Fed Up Girl

Girl3
So I’ve been reading, working through, praying through a lot of stuff lately about women and girls and society and femininity and sexuality~ And honestly, I am more than a little discouraged.  Our society can not even define these things for Our Girls. 

This is what I got when I tried to find a definition:
Main Entry: feminine
Part of Speech: adjective
Definition: girlish
Really?  That’s all ya got? 
How about purity?
Main Entry: purity
Part of Speech: noun
Definition: the state of being pure
Great, that’s not even kind of helpful.   

There seems to be no real clear concept of divine beauty and sacred femininity anywhere except maybe in a Christian bookstore.  And everywhere I turn there is sex. It seems girls are growing up with little to no idea of what exactly it means to be a woman other than being wanted for sex.  They are being lusted after and objectified, by too many, when they are too young.  How can they maintain their identities as beloved daughters and brides when they are being seen, viewed and yes, treated sometimes as sexual objects?  When they are being teased with the concept their own sexual power, how do we teach them how sacred it is? 

I have two little girls and I am determined to help them understand these concepts despite the fact that an alarmingly high percentage of clothing, movies, music videos and toys even that are marketed for them are sensual, sexual and suggestive.  I mean, what is the freaking deal?  Somebody please explain to me what the point is of sexualizing girls, because the point can not really be what I think it is.  Or is it? 
Girl4
Maybe, just maybe the only point of exploiting the sexual innocence of young girls is for profit margins?  Do we find that acceptable?  In Sex and the Soul of a Woman, Paula Rinehart says “How many sectors of our society are lining their pockets on the commercialization of sex?  Who is profiting from catapulting women into sexual expression and license that masquerade as freedom?  I guarantee it’s not you or any women you know.”  I don’t believe profit margins are all some people are after though.

Are short skirts and tighter shirts and slinkier dance moves more popular just because sex sells?  Or is it more than that?  I think it might be.  I think it might be that it is not just money that some greedy people want from Our Girls.  I have thought that the point of the complete sexualization of femininity at younger and younger ages was so that by the time those young girls were women they would have no clue about the beautiful, sacred gift that their femininity was.  But what if that the point of the complete sexualization of femininity at younger and younger ages is so that young girls have no clue about the beautiful, sacred gift that their femininity is? 

What if we can’t define what they were created to be and they can’t either?  What if it’s all too murky for anyone to define clear boundaries?  What if we don’t have any absolutes because we haven’t taken the time to work them out?  Then we leave our girls to flounder and figure out how to be girls and how to be feminine and how to stave off the constant pressure that they be at least a little bit sensual if not explicitly sexual to gain attention or really even be accepted in society?

Girl
We could just leave it alone right?  Because who wants to work all that out?  Is it even possible?  Is it too big of a system, to monstrous a lie to fight?  Keep quiet?  Let it go?  No way, that is how sexual abuse happens.  And that is how it goes unreported. 

Did you know that 1 in 4 girls is sexually abused before the age of 18?
Did you know that nearly 70% of all reported sexual assaults (including assaults on adults) occur to children ages 17 and under?

Who wants to talk about that stuff though right?  Me.  Because I believe if we are not careful we will become desensitized to this issue, we are becoming desensitized to this issue.  Because do you know what is increasing at an alarming rate?  (And I am quite certain you don’t want to talk about this.) 

Child sex trafficking.
  And don’t even get me started on all the ways that can be defined. 

The whole issue then is not just- how do we help our girls understand purity?  Not just can we better understand sexuality, but can we change, reverse, transform the way the world understands sexuality?  Maybe.  Maybe it all starts with talking about the unmentionable stuff.  Maybe we start with beginning to work through some of these issues for ourselves so that we can revolutionize the way the world sees Our Girls, and really, aren’t all girls Our Girls? 

This is a pretty dark clip about a pretty dark issue:

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=15468391&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show_portrait=1&color=&fullscreen=1&autoplay=0&loop=0

I know this is big, weighty, controversial, tough stuff, but… 

These are things I can't ignore. 

So I don't know… 

A conversation is all I’m trying to start (for now)…

October 4, 2010

This Little Light of Mine

4390028310_a11d2e278a_o
Leaving church the other day I heard My Sweet One say to his best friend and sister very quietly, “I gave my heart to Jesus today.” And then he beamed.  And she squealed and said “What?! Eew.”  He laughed and explained “Not like I took it out of me and handed it to Him.  I closed my eyes and He was standing there and I said He could have my heart.”  (Oh gosh I can’t even type it without tearing up.)  I glanced at him grinning from ear to ear in the rearview mirror and tried to contain my excitement because he is the most sensitive, quiet, shy, private little soul I know.  “Gabe I’m so proud of you; that’s so awesome. What a great decision!”   He muttered a little “thanks” sat back bashfully, still smiling and sighed.  We talked about it a little more when we got home.  He curled up with me as he does and sheepishly grinned while I told him again how proud I was and how excited I was for what God was doing in him.  I asked what he thought and how he felt and he said “Well God knows my name and he wrote it in His book.  And I’m really glad Mom, really glad.” 

  82203773_2ea17cd46f_o

If you knew this kid when he was about this size, then you know how different he is now, (and not just because he is out of diapers).   Little Gabe was a pretty ornery kid, more so than most.  He hardly spoke, he hit a lot and he growled.  No kidding, he used to go around snarling at people and growling all the time, honestly it was hard not to laugh.  He earned “My Sweet One” because when he was not being especially mean, he was incredibly sweet.  Ever the cuddler, and pretty apt to spontaneously smother me in hugs and kisses.  But for the first five or six years of his life, all that sweetness was kind of sporadic and mixed always with the not-so-sweetness.  The last couple of years though, he has softened.  He has grown gentler.  And though it is his nature to be intense, he has lightened up a little.  He loves much more freely now, still somewhat gaurded at times, but so much less angry.  He is still so much himself, and somehow so changed in his eight years.  And I  am so incredibly excited to see what awesome things God will do through him. 

021.1
That I get to witness the work that God is doing in his life is such a privilege.  That I get to be one of the people to call out and see the greatness in him is an honor.  That I get to be his mother, amazing. 

October 1, 2010

Jesus, yes.

189.1
Still, forever, yes.  So in love with Jesus and the Love and Grace He is.

If I may explain a little, because I certainly have been (head over heels) in love with Jesus before, and certainly have felt loved by Him, the difference between the way I felt His Love before and the way I experience His Love now is beyond words really, I will give it a shot though, a very candid shot. 

If I can be very honest, it seemed like in the past, (due to my immaturity, self centeredness and the fact that I was working my tail off all the time to understand and earn His love), that He was only loving me at times, only when I was striving for it.  Somehow, in a church where I was taught Grace and surrounded by people who talked of Grace and while immersing myself in books and teachings of This Amazing Grace, I managed to hold onto the notion somewhere deep down that I could be good enough or bad enough

And so in all of that striving and working- when I did feel Loved it was almost always tinged with arrogance.   And when I did not feel Love, I filled that space with self doubt.  And because I am fallen and broken and human, I allowed my feelings to drive me most of the time which resulted in an endless cycle of working hard, feeling love, falling short, feeling like garbage.  And it was lovely and exciting except when it was painful and exhausting.   
180
This past month or so though, a whole ton of my stuff stacked up on top of me.  Some of it was coincidence I suppose, or maybe (most probably) attack from the enemy, and some of it was caused by awful choices that others made, but also I screwed up and made poor choices and the results heaped up into a big terrible mountain. 

In the midst of all this mess though Jesus was with me, more tangibly than He has ever been.  He sat with me and spoke to me and Loved me while I was more broken and frail and weak than I have ever been.  I was filthy with shame and guilt and covered in grief and sorrow. I had no striving in me, nothing about me was earning anything, nothing about me seemed lovable- and I am telling you, I have never, never, never experienced more Love. 

Him being with me while I was at my worst absolutely transformed my relationship with Him and my understanding of Grace.  I realized, He loves me no matter what, because that is who He is, that is why He is.  And He is never the one that leaves.  (And I don’t need to ask Him to be with me, He always is.)  The problem in our relationship is never Him.  (I know this is like Grace 101, but I just didn’t get it until it wrapped itself around me.)  I mean, I can’t imagine if I was in a relationship with someone that I passionately loved and they didn’t even acknowledge that I was in the room half the time. 

How I have made it this far in my relationship with Him and only just had this fantastic revelation is beyond me- but there is no time (or reason) for regrets now.  He’s here (and I kind of want to shout it like this “HE’S HERE!!”), all the time.  And He wants to be with me, all the time. Even though…  Even as my stuff is piling up and spilling out.  And so this Love that I am experiencing…

233.2
 
This Love is so absolutely humbling…
This Grace is so breathtakingly beautiful…

I don't know…  You Guys~ it's Grace and it's Amazing, and it is real.  And I am still very much in the middle of dealing with all of This Terrible Crap and trying to walk through These Awful circumstances but they are just circumstances, they do not define me or Him.  And I am not alone and comprehending that, even a little, is truly and thankfully changing me… I don't know how to not gush about Him and the way He Loves… and bask in it and smile and laugh at the utter fantasticness of it all.

Its like… I don't know…   This email sums up the way I feel, kind of:

This! Is why you use exclamation points all the time!?  This is why you smile so big all the time?! 
 
~Because regardless of the circumstance there is a Big Big Big Love for me and there is So Much Grace. 
 
What other response would I have but deep contentment and exclamation points and big smiles?   
Seriously, if this Love is here, surrounding me all the time~ then the way I live can only be in response to this Love.
How could it not be?!
This a whole. New. Way to live. 
Waking up in the morning with an awareness of love deep down and overflowing that has nothing to do with anything I have done or tried to be is Transforming.
Going to bed at night feeling content and cared for and so not alone is Transforming.
This awareness of His presence and understanding how much He wants me to be with Him, wants to be with me, wants me to know Him, for no other reason than that is simply who He is~
That~ is totally revolutionary for Little Girl and Grown Up Me.
 
Wow, wow, wow,
Love, love,
Amber   

 

%d bloggers like this: