Thursday, March 28, 2013

Spring

 
One way that I know it is spring is I really want to run again.
I do not like treadmills and indoor running. I like running through woods and by water. This is great, except during the winter when paths become covered by snow and ice. I know that athletic stores sell shoes with spikes for those extra committed winter runners, but I’m not really in that category. I slip and fall easily enough when snow and ice are not involved, so running when they are involved just seems unwise. As a result, I usually don’t run much during January, February and March.
It is right around this time of year that I start to really miss running. I miss the way my feet pound the ground underneath me and my breath goes in and out with the fast pumping of my heart. I miss those moments when my whole body is working hard and my mind is free to engage with God, nature around me and the things that are happening in my life. Sometimes I pray while I run or sing out loud with my music. I have even cried on runs when God is speaking and His Word finally gets in and my heart is moved. I like to imagine that Jesus puts on His running shoes and goes with me. I think of us sharing these morning excursions and preparing my heart for the day ahead. My posture is partnership as we run together, but I follow His lead and this is how I want my life to be.
My first run of this spring is happening tomorrow morning. I’m ready to reengage my body, my soul and my spirit in this important work.
Still Counting Gifts:
·         #721: Soaking up sunshine
·         #722: 40 ° weather that feels warm enough for me to leave my coat in the car
·         #723: Finishing at 6 PM instead of 7 PM, twice in the same week
·         #724: Easter and Jesus’ sacrifice
·         #725: New clients that God picked out just for me
·         #726: Homemade hummus
·         #727: Letting God’s love come into me more
·         #728: Choosing to trust God instead of trying to figure everything out all the time

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Have you ever wanted to break up with yourself?


Have you ever uncovered parts of yourself that felt so scary and painful that you just wanted them to go away? To somehow separate them from the fabric of who you are and divorce them away?
I have. A lot. If I’m honest, this is actually one of my favorite ways to handle my needs and frailties.
It sounds like: this need is way too overwhelming and no one wants to meet it anyway. So, I will just push it away until it doesn’t feel like it’s mine anymore and I can’t feel the pain of it being unfulfilled. Or, I discover some horribly vulnerable place in my character and the exposure feels so stark that I declare, “That’s not mine! I would never struggle with that or think that or do that or say that! Not mine!”
The problem is that I have become very fragmented as a result. I have feelings that get lost in my body and I struggle to find them. I have physical sensations in my body like headaches that bore right through my skull and stomach-aches that burn like fire, but I can’t tell what experiences they are connected to.
When I finally want to reconnect with these feelings and rejected parts of me, they are sluggish to respond, like a leg that’s been completely asleep for a while. When the feeling returns, it’s scary and painful, like emotional pins and needles, hurting me with their intensity. I’m so overwhelmed that I’m not sure I want these parts after all. I blame them for my problems and want to break up with the parts of myself that are so messy and broken.
God is still teaching me how to receive His love. Apparently, I have to let the love of God in for it to be effective. It only transforms and invigorates the places where it reaches. So, when I imprison my weak places and cut them off from the love of God, then they can never grow, heal or change. When I measure out God’s love in accordance with my judgment of my performance, then there are a good many areas in my life where little love is granted because I think that little love has been earned. I can tell where God’s love is reaching because those places are growing and fruitful. But other areas in my heart and mind are more like the desert because the river of God’s love was damned up and not allowed to go there.
Telling my needs that they are stupid and refusing to fill them does not make them go away. It just changes them into deeper chasms of unmet longing with louder demands. Disdaining my fragility does not make it strong, but further burdens what is already weak. Breaking up with the parts of me that I don’t like doesn’t destroy them, but it does destroy me. It keeps me from receiving God’s love and experiencing His power made perfect in my weakness. It prevents me from enjoying who God has made me to be and recognizing His delight in me, even in my brokenness.
I’m still scared, but I plan to reconcile with all the broken off parts of me. I’m asking God for shalom within me.
Still Counting Gifts:
·         #708: A fun double date at Blue Man Group
·         #709: Hamburgers at The Roundhouse
·         #710: My wedding dress!
·         #711: Answered prayers
·         #712: Snow even though I’m longing for spring
·         #713: My mom and how patient she can be when I’m in a stormy state and she’s encouraging me
·         #714: A drive with Karyn
·         #715: Sugar jones cupcakes
·         #716: The emotionally soothing power found in a sugar jones cupcake
·         #717: The terror and joy of knowing and being known
·         #718: Giving and receiving forgiveness
·         #719: A new work computer
·         #720: I still get to go on dates with my parents

Thursday, March 7, 2013

I want to be super human

 
Yes, I actually said that to Ben this week. And, I meant it. I really do wish I was more than human. I struggle with imperfections and failures and I can just feel that I was meant to live in Eden. Little did I know that in fewer than 24 hours after making said statement, I would be crying and feeling afflicted and betrayed by my incredible neediness. 
Any of you who have followed me previously will remember how hard it is for me to take care of myself. I prefer to deny that I have any needs at all and to invest all of my time, energy and talent into taking care of other people. You may also remember that I had never really dated before Ben. And, I am sure that all of you have noticed that we dated for only about two months before getting engaged.
Let’s just say that God is using my relationship with Ben in lots of wonderful ways that encourage my sanctification. Let’s also say it that has been intensely uncomfortable for me to realize just how sinful I still am in the context of this intimate relationship. One thing that has been really hard for me (which also happens to be the thing that blew up this week and had me crying) is that it’s hard for me to ask for what I need.
The best love languages, as far as I’m concerned, are quality time, physical touch and words of affirmation. Shortly after we got engaged, Ben started working 65 hours a week. During the week, he works and sleeps. There really isn’t time left over. So, we can see each other on Saturdays and Sundays, but not during the week.
Now I know with my mind that this is not forever and that this is a really great opportunity for Ben to earn more money so that he can quit his job sooner and pursue his desire to farm. But, as the quality time and physical touch disappeared almost completely and the words of affirmation were severely limited, I started to experience some intensely uncomfortable feelings. I got really sad and frustrated, but I didn’t want to give myself permission to own these feelings and take care of them because my brain told me that I had to accept the plan for this season. I started shutting down emotionally to cope with the intense discomfort that I was feeling, but found that a side effect was that I couldn’t connect well with Ben even when we did have time together. In shutting off my painful feelings, I was shutting off all of my feelings and allowing apathy to rule in my heart.
Fortunately, God allowed the mountain of uncomfortable feelings that I had swept under the rug of my heart to explode yesterday morning. He also blessed me by putting my mom at home at that very moment when I dissolved into a mess of feelings and lost access to the rational part of my brain. She encouraged me to be honest with Ben about what was happening with me and to ask if we could make some changes in our schedule to help me get what I need so that I could function better. I was convinced that this was impossible, even after I talked with Ben and he assured me that it was very possible and necessary, until God impressed on me that I would have to let Him, Ben and other people take care of me for it to be possible.
God reminded me of that verse in Colossians 3: Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts (15).
He told me that I had to let myself have needs and to be cared for. God showed me how I had previously decided not to have needs or ever have to be taken care of by someone else. These vows were interfering with what God wanted to do. He gently led me in breaking those vows and repenting. God poured His love into my heart and gave me the courage to invite Him, Ben and other safe people to offer me care and help meet my needs.
I am not a super human. Not yet. I hope that I will become super human once my sanctification is complete and I receive my resurrected body. But until then, I am committing myself to God’s leadership and I am asking Him to come and do the work that my heart requires. I am asking Him to meet all of my needs according to His glorious riches and I am choosing to let Him use other people to meet those needs, as He desires.
Still Counting Gifts:
·         #694: Soaking time at the R2HOP Burn last weekend
·         #695: Getting to sing with Mackenzie and Ryan in the same day
·         #696: Being trusted to help plant seeds at the farm
·         #697: A sleepover with my dear friend that reminded me of childhood and whispering in the dark until we fall asleep
·         #698: I haven’t lost my Chicago driving super powers despite moving back to Rockford
·         #699: Getting a snow day even though I’m not in school or working at a school anymore
·         #700: Playing in the snow with Karyn, Ava and Lily
·         #701: A long and deeply satisfying nap
·         #702: Being seized by the urge to write
·         #703: How God provides so richly in the midst of my great brokenness
·         #704: The way that God makes my choices so clear: life or death, which will you choose?
·         #705: Ben experienced my first breakdown since we’ve been together and he did such a great job listening, encouraging, speaking the truth and praying for me
·         #706: Cooking dinner with my mom
·         #707: Asking for what I need and receiving it; such an affirming and delightful experience