The Circles We Live In

love

We live in circles. Circles of friends. Circles of family. Circles of status.

Circles, whether we believe it or not can control us.

A wise friend pointed out something to me not too long ago. Not so much pointed out to me more like drew it out for me. Because I am a visual learner and I have the attention span of a third grader after recess.

I was telling her that I was feeling anxious and overwhelmed. That my body felt like it was on edge and I found myself so critical of everything.

She quietly drew a circle on the paper in front of me with the words “love and forgiveness” in the middle.

She then explained that when I am in the circle of “love and forgiveness” there I am also with Christ.  There I am in alignment.

So simple. But so profound to me.

Any thought that continued to go into my head I had to run through the filter of “love and forgiveness”.

And that is when I realized I am constantly living in other circles.

The circle of anxiety and fear. This is where I read too many tragic stories or hear the news and it becomes paralyzing in my every thought and action. Where I react to someone out of fear rather than love.

The circle of judgment. This one at times is pretty big. I become very smart about every subject and don’t need to know the whole story because obviously I know the right answer. This is a very pious and forthright circle.

The circle of busyness. Here I have no time for anyone and time for everything. I fill my schedule and find that I am irritable and quick to snap because I haven’t bothered to take care of myself or those that are under my own roof. I find that my house is out of control and the kids soak that in.

The circle of resentment. This one I choose to use when I am feeling less then. I jump into my circle of resentment and carry around the heaviness of expectations that I had for myself that have not yet come to completion.

The circle of safety. When this circle gets too big I panic. I have to keep this circle small. For my own healing. When too many are let in I feel exposed and the safety goes away.

The circle of jealousy. Here I feel small. I feel like who I am will never be enough. Here I feel insecure.

I am sure I will identify many other circles as I learn to use this filter of identifying what I am feeling and why. Of becoming aware more than reactionary.

But I am craving the circle of love and forgiveness. In there I feel freedom. In there I see growth. In there I see acceptance. In there I embrace change. In there I feel like the weight has been lifted. In there I see clear. In there I am open and filled with hope and joy. In there is alignment with Christ.

What circles do you live in?

stories in a plaid skirt

Image

I am a storyteller.

Since I was in third grade and got called into the office for being a  liar “storyteller” , I knew what I could do well. The Catholic school teachers had no time or patience for those with imagination. Or in my case survival. They had no room in between Mass and penmanship to focus on the little girl in her plaid skirt telling stories again. Consequences needed to be given. Punishment in the form of penance was the only reasonable result of an over active mind. Hail Mary’s were a sure cure for such a thing.

 I continued. Continued to tell stories. Whether true or not, stories were my protection. My voice. If you would listen close enough you could hear me. Hear me trying to tell you. Tell you I needed to be heard. I needed you to know that I needed….

So here I am years later realizing that I have continued to tell stories to myself. Stories that I believed were true.

My clothes are getting a little tight lately…..

The story: I am out of control. I will always struggle with my weight. I need to starve myself. I need to binge. I need to purge. I will never be attractive. I will never be enough.

The truth: I have been digging into some trauma in my life. Weight is my protection. Food is how I have protected myself. I am getting healthier from the inside out and the weight will come off again. My husband still loves me. Jeans come in bigger sizes.

My marriage is harder than ever…..

The story: It will never be saved. I just don’t know how to be a wife. He married a girl with U-haul of baggage. He deserves someone better than me.

The truth: We all have issues. We are working through them. We are getting help. We are facing our crap. God has us together for a reason. He is not leaving. I am not leaving. We will walk through any fire together. For the love….He prays over me while I sleep….

I need to say yes to you and to anyone that asks….

The story: This is how to make everyone happy. I don’t like people mad at me. I want to be the one to make you smile. I have the creativity and will power to accomplish this. I want to feel loved. I want to feel needed.

The truth: When I say yes I am saying no to the people in my home. I was not called to be a martyr I was called to be a wife and a mom. I am dishonoring my family by being so busy. It is not healthy to be busy. It is so much better for all of us if I say no. I have kids at such difficult stages and I need to lean into them.

My kids don’t want me around…..

The story: I have failed as a mom. I am too busy with other projects. I have lost my chance to connect. I will do better with the younger ones.

The truth: I have pulled away. I have not been present for a while now. I have a difficult time connecting emotionally. I am getting help. I am taking that next step. One moment at a time. Guilt is a useless feeling it does nothing to change a behavior.

The stories that I have told myself, the stories that have carried me are being let go. One by one they are being asked to leave. Being released. Filtered. With gratitude being sent away.

Stories have protected me.

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 2 Cor 3:17

 It’s time for the truth. Truth is safe for me now. Truth is where I need to remain.

Remain and heal.

Sheets twisted in sin.

feetwashing

When I was in college they let me be a  R.A. I know. Stop laughing. Ok. Now I am laughing. Because just re-reading that they let me be an R.A. means someone thought I would be a good example of someone to count on seems laughable to me now. Yeah. “Me” in college was not any of those things. I was more of what you call a Birkenstock-wearing, Indigo Girl-loving, music-enthralled total opposite of an R.A. kind of girl. But somewhere in there someone thought that I had potential. Someone saw redemption in me.

As part of our training, the director of Residential Life and all of his staff invited us to participate in a particular exercise where we all sat in a circle and they asked us to remove our shoes. Or sandals. I sat there thinking, ok, here is the part when we walk over the coals or something adventurous like that.

Instead, they knelt before us and washed our feet.

I sat there and watched as a man I admired and respected for speaking truth and going against the grain held my foot in his hands.

I cried that entire evening.  I wondered how he could even want to touch my feet.

Dirty with years of walking the direction that I wanted to go.

Years of being tangled in sheets of those I never knew their names.

Years of standing by the well waiting for Jesus to say my name.

To call out truth in me. And there he was.

The most beautiful act of love.

Washing my feet twisted in the guilt of sin. “ If you, oh Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, therefore you are feared.” Psalm 130: 3-4. Knowing full well that I reminded him more of Gomer than of a leader.

This is what I know to be true. A sin is a sin. Pride is a sin. Anger is a sin. Promiscuity is a sin. Gossip is a sin. Overspending is a sin. Yelling at your spouse is a sin.

I did not come to Jesus because everyone posted on Facebook or tweeted that the choices I made  were sinful. I came to Jesus because someone knelt down and washed my feet.

This Lenten season I plead to you, the women of the well are all around you.

We are continually untwisting ourselves from the guilt that sin strangled us with .

We are aching for redemption. We are aching for our feet to be washed.

Wash more feet this Lent, sweet girl.

“O Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption. He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.” Psalm 130:7-8
http://shereadstruth.com/


the best me.

Image I secretly love watching people post all of the amazing things that they are going to do each year. I do the same thing. I start out determined that no carb will ever touch my lips again. That this will be the year that I will run a marathon. That this will be my best year. I place these outrageous expectations and goals on myself without seriously thinking how long it took me to get this far. I forget how many times I needed to fall flat on my face before I realized that I was worth the fight. The fight of being a better version of myself.

And if I were being honest.  I believed that the better version was always thinner with great skin. I believed that the better me would never have to deal with anxiety and depression again. The better me would do crafts with her kids. The better me would be published and accomplished by now. The better me would have enough money to not have to worry month to month. The better me would not lose her temper and want to run away. The better me is strong and can hold it all together. The better me would have the energy and the capacity to homeschool her children. The better me would be comfortable in her own skin. The better me would be able to balance life with a perfect looking home. The better me would be an amazing wife full of patience and encouragement.

The better version of me though is the forgiven me. The forgiven me doesn’t care what size jeans I wear or what you wear. The forgiven me knows that anxiety is crippling but is where I feel the most protected by my Savior. The forgiven me knows that I will constantly struggle with sticking my finger down my throat and that this reality is ugly. The forgiven me knows that there is a better way to health and is fighting daily for it. The forgiven me craves scripture but at times forgets to even say hello to God some days. The forgiven me knows what it is like to confess my sins to a friend and they just be held closer. The forgiven me knows that to admit that every day I wake up scared that I won’t be a good person much less a good mom is humiliating. In reality I know the forgiven me is flat on my face broken at the feet of Jesus. The forgiven me feels loneliest in a room full of people but understands that it is just  another issue that is just being kneaded out of me. The forgiven me knows that being a wife is something that I wrestle with every day. The forgiven me knows that I wrestle because of the choices that I made in my past. And the shame I carry haunts me.

And the forgiven me. The best me, knows that this is all being worked out. Worked out not for my best. But for His best. So whatever I need to wrestle with, or fight for, or cry myself to sleep for is sufficient. It’s for the best. He will make all things new this year.

circles.

Keep your circle small. Words a once die hard extrovert had ignored for years. I thought well they must be talking to my introvert friends when they say this. I thought I needed my friends all the time and the more the merrier. But that came with my people pleasing attitude. I wanted others to be happy. I wanted to be happy. All the time. I wanted to talk to strangers in lines and know their stories. I wanted to be available to anyone anytime to meet for coffee, play date, lunch, pick up their kids, watch their pets all the time I wanted to be available. You could call me day or night and I would probably pick up the phone. Or text and I will surely get right back to you. Can you say codependent much?

Before I even left to go to Africa this past fall there were signs that life had gotten out of control my circle had gotten so big that it was more like a circus ring. I wasn’t present anymore. I wasn’t a good friend. I sucked as a mom. And don’t’ even get me started on what kind of wife I was being. But so many people had supported us through this adoption and I wanted to make sure that I please them. I wanted to make sure that I had said goodbye to everyone. That I had taken every chance I could get to meet with my sweet friends and even people I barely new. Because if I was being an example for my church and faith community than I had better run myself ragged and burn out right? That is what being a “good Christian” is all about. Seven days before I got on the plane to Uganda I experienced my first full blown panic attack. I lay on my couch as my friend talked me off the ledge and told me what was going on with my body and spirit. I continued to have panic attacks until I boarded the plane. If that wasn’t’ a sign that I needed some space than I am not sure what it. In order to give myself space and room to actually think on my own God had me fly thousands of miles away and look myself in the mirror. In Africa I never experienced another attack. I was limited as to who I had contact with and the only communication I had with people back home was all dependent on if we had power that day. Yet they came back again before I even got on the plane to come back to the states this past November I knew my circle needed to be smaller. God had so clearly shown me that things needed to change. I was bringing home the sweetest little boy who was dealing with horrendous fears of his own. He needed space to grieve and this mama did too. Even the thought of walking in to the airport with all my family and friends there to welcome us home sent me into a panic attack. They continued throughout the next few months. Some days were better than others. Then there were days when I needed someone physically to remind me that I was ok. That I was safe. That God is faithful and He alone can save me. I asked for help. I actually participated in the help process. Many times we ask for help because we feel like it is the right thing to do but we fail to actually “do” the healing process. So I took meds, I changed the way I ate, I showed up for therapy, I stopped any alcohol consumption, I exercised my tail off trying to raise my serotonin levels, I said no, I stopped watching 99% of what I used to watch on TV. I am sensitive to what I see and hear. I choose to leave conversations. I choose to not be around those who make me anxious. I am not ready to have a house full of people yet. I made my circle much smaller. Although some are are upset with me that I cannot be who I used to be I need to be ok with that. I cannot meet up with them when they ask. I cancel when I feel that my anxiety is coming to the surface. I am not volunteering for anything without running it by my husband and family first. I try and avoid being away from my family especially during the week. I confide in only a couple of people. I need to feel safe . I want to feel safe. I am healing. And in healing my circle is small.

“ It is important for you to control your own drawbridge. There must be times when you keep your bridge drawn and have the opportunity to be alone or with those whom you feel close. Never allow yourself to become public property, where anyone can walk in and out at will. You might think that you are being generous in giving access to anyone who wants to enter and leave, but you will find yourself losing your soul.” – Henri J. M. Nouwen

done hiding.

I am struggling. There I said it. I am done hiding. I am done pretending. I am done making excuses. I am struggling.

I can lie and tell myself that I didn’t see this coming. That I didn’t see depression and anxiety creeping toward me in the middle of the night. That many nights I feel like the walls are closing in around me with such darkness that I am afraid to even move. I can’t lie and say that I have been begging for someone else to tell the truth and tell me that adoption is hard. That being away from your family in a third world country for 12 weeks isn’t hard. I can’t lie and say that I haven’t begged God for mercy. That I haven’t screamed at Him and asked Him why I wasn’t let out of the country sooner. I rant and rave for days about all the injustice I saw and babies who were not orphans taken out of the country. I get so angry about all of the bribery, threatening and entitlement I saw others Americans around me display. How the nightmares of it all keeps me up most nights. I can’t lie and say that the images of my friends suffering to feed their own children doesn’t go away when I close my eyes or turn the music on louder. I won’t lie and tell you it doesn’t make me question God. Asking him why? Why do I have clean water? What makes me so special that my kids can be educated? Why do I have a roof over my head that doesn’t flood up the walls every time it is rainy season? Or why don’t I have to worry about malaria every time my child gets a fever?

Yes. I am wrestling with God. Some days are better than others. But other days I feel like Jacob. And I know I will never win. That God will continue to wrestle with me until I get it right. Until I lay it all down. All of my fears. All of my anxiety .All of the nightmares. All of the helplessness. All of the hopelessness. All of my depression. He wants it all .

When I got home I had realized just how much I had endured. How many times I had been told that I could not leave the country. How many times I had seen and felt suffering of those around me and now it is all coming back . All at once. Adoption is not rainbows and unicorns. Adoption is messy. Especially in the country I was in. There are so many more questions I have now that I am back. Don’t take me wrong please. I am for adoption. But I am also for families staying together. I am for sponsorship. I am for supporting the family so they can “be” a family. I am for health care for mothers and education for children. So don’t take what I say the wrong way. Just know that I am really struggling with all levels of ethical choices things right now.

And when I am struggling I need some space. I need space to breathe. Space to feel. Space to be angry and confused. Space to pray and think. Space to get the help I need. Space for those who really want to be in the mess with me. And yes I do believe in meds and therapy. Believe me I believe God created Prozac on the 8th day. You don’t have to wonder why I have turned into an introvert. Or why I am “ignoring” you. I am not. I am just feeling. And feeling is hard.