What if your depression was a gift?

I married a teacher. I mean he wasn’t my teacher when I married him. That would be weird and illegal and make him old. I mean I happen to be married to a man who became a teacher. My brother is also a teacher, as well as my sister in law. Many of my most favorite people in the world are teachers. I myself, could never be one. I don’t like organizing things or sitting in tiny chairs with tiny scissors cutting out shapes. I never have and I never will.

 

BUT teachers shaped who I am. They were the first to affirm that standing in your truth was enough. It wasn’t only enough, it was necessary. It wasn’t until I was in my late thirties that I started to believe that living in your truth was the bravest thing you could do. For yourself and for those around you.

My high school AP English professor helped  unlock that my truth wasn’t anything to hide, it was everything to write. “Write what you KNOW…..” “Show ,don’t tell me your life….” All of these things have been so cathartic to remember that it has been in me all along. The storyteller. The dreamer. The feeler of all the feels. It has been in me from the very beginning.

 

So it shouldn’t have been such an overwhelming truth to hold when I discovered that some of my children have the same “issues” as their mother. As my ten year old likes to tell her siblings or anyone else that will listen “God made me with all the feelings, and that is a beautiful thing!” As she is in the middle of a sensory overload three hour meltdown. She is a truth teller and just needs space to tell it. We haven’t really worked out the details of filters or when it is appropriate to share those yet. Baby steps.

 

But there is another side of me to being a writer. A dreamer, A storyteller. A feeler of all the feels.

Depression.

The big ugly D word. Which for me pairs nicely with the A word. Put them together and you have a hot mess of sadness with all the fears. It is not pleasant. In fact I hate it. And from what I can remember, I have always dealt with it. Times in my life it has been magnified more than others. And then at times it lays dormant. But I know in the back of my head it is always there. Waiting for me to let it back in.

I remember when I was fourteen I was taken to “lunch” to meet someone. It happened to be a psychiatrist that my parents knew who by the time I finished my fries had prescribed the first taste of Prozac for my lips. At the time all I knew is that I had just endured a horrific trauma and I hated everyone and everything. I was a very pleasant teenager. What I didn’t know is that what I was feeling was more than appropriate and would become a part of my story.

 

And don’t ask me about God, he and I were not talking during this time. I had been Romans 8:28ed more times than I could count and that was just making me more confused than cared for.

 

The depression would continue throughout my life. Although mask itself into an eating disorder that almost took my life, relationships that tried to fill the void of worth, and addictions that engulfed who I was. Running from life like I was a wild child, while all along it was a illness that just needed to be named, cared for and accepted.

 

It has been a journey of many failed attempts.

First I tried my way. Alcohol. Men. Spend. Binge. Purge.Pot. Pills.

Something. Anything to numb the pain.

Hiding who I am. Masking the reality of the struggle.

It wasn’t until I found myself with charcoal being shoved down my throat at age 22 that I realized I needed to get my shit together. This wasn’t fun anymore. This wasn’t who I wanted to be.

 

And yet still. I didn’t wake up the next day and everything was rainbows and butterflies. It was more like “oh my God what do I do now?”

So I tried a different way.

Medications. Doctors. Herbalists. Chiropractors. Yogies. Therapists. Hospitals. Cleansing shakes. Believe me if they said it would help, I tried it.

 

But in reality, what needed to change is for me to live my truth sometimes out loud. And sometimes in the quiet. To not only admit that I deal with depression and anxiety but to learn what it means to heal in it. Not from it.  In it.

 

That in itself is just so freaking hard. Because if I am honest I get angry when I feel the depression start to show its ugly face. Or completely humiliated when I am in the middle of Trader Joe’s and I can feel the irrational fears take over my mind and I am frozen with panic next to the dried fruit. Or when I am at again another therapist’s office not just for myself but now for my children who of course inherited not just my hair but my genes.

And when you fill out the insurance papers and you have to admit that yes you tried to take your own life, but that was over twenty years ago, and why the heck does that matter now? It doesn’t. Don’t let other people tell you that your past tells us who you are now. No, your past tells us that the person standing in front of us today is a badass because she overcame and chose healing every single day. That’s what it tells us.

 

I have things in place now, in the healing. In the living in it and with it. I have a list of things that help me heal.

Water.

Nature.

Scripture.

Calm.

Quiet.

Naps. ( Jesus did it )

My therapist.

Worship.

Exercise.

Write.

My safe circle.( not EVERYONE on FB is safe, just saying)

Medication.

Whole Foods.

Reading.

Sunshine.

My husband.

Sleep.

 

When I feel overwhelmed and off balance I go back to this list. It is right next to my bed. Reminding me what it takes to be healthy, for me. Notice that media and Facebook are not on the list. They can actually be a huge trigger for me, also busyness. So being around people who are more task orientated rather than authentically connecting is very anxiety producing. I know. It may be strange. But my therapist says that I am very self aware of what I need and don’t need. So I will take it as a gift given by default of this illness.

 

Just the other day my person and I were talking about aching for Sabbath. We talk about alot of other things too, but this happened to be a God conversation. That we were both feeling life changing very quickly for us and wanting to not lose what actually feeds us, heals us. The Sabbath. It dawned on me as we were talking that perhaps all of these years I have had it all wrong. I have been seeing my debilitating depression as a burden. A burden that I didn’t want to carry. That I felt was given to me not out of chemicals but circumstances. A burden that felt too heavy to carry and times and made me throw many temper tantrums that it just wasn’t fair.

 

In that moment it caught my breath,perhap my depression was never meant to be a BURDEN but a BECKONING.

 

A beckoning to Sabbath. A beckoning for wholeness. For healing.

 

For Jesus. 

 

So maybe today sweet one you are just exhausted. Exhausted from carrying it all. All the pain. All the sorrow. All the grief. All the regrets. All the anger. All the injustice. All the sadness. And he is just beckoning you just to be near.

 

Come close….and heal. It is the bravest truth you can live. 

What the Peanuts taught me about 2016.

The other night we were watching the “Peanuts” movie. Or ask my youngest son what we were watching and it may make you blush.

 

Those silly speech issues.

 

All seven of us were discussing who we thought each character would be in our family. Such a fun thing to do. Until they got to me. Then the fun and games were over. I wanted to be Sally Brown. Well, because of her impeccable style and come on….those curls. Who wouldn’t want to wake each morning and have those luscious locks? Yet my children quickly pointed out where I knew my heart was.

 

I was Lucy.

I was a “know it all” Lucy.

I have been for years now.

I had a solution and answer for everything.

Because somehow being a college educated, mom of five kids and married for 18 years, in a marriage that we can say is challenging, I seemed to take it upon myself to know more things than others.

 

I was a full blown Lucy, without the great dark hair.

 

Five years ago a dear friend of mine went through a horrible, life altering tragedy in her life. It happened to her. To her family. And yet what happened to her I thought I had all the answers for. I went into protective” I will kick your ass if you ever mess with my friend “ mode. I was not a good listener. I did not build her up. I reacted. I told her what I thought she should do and pointed out everything wrong that was happening. She would try crying to me and I would just get frustrated and tell her how to fix it. I sucked. I was a Lucy.

 

I look back now and think how many times in my life I have tried to control when others were in crisis. I have gotten behind my little advice booth and would gladly give it out, and didn’t even charge. It was really a lovely service I was giving.

 

I am embarrassed how many times I stood on my pride mountain and told those I loved how they should live their lives.

 

It was pretty lonely up there, on “Know it All Mountain”.

 

The more insecure I felt the more advice I gave. I felt so out of control that I thought I needed to take control.

 

And then this year happened. And  suddenly, I didn’t know anything. I didn’t know who to ask or how to even utter it out loud. I googled for any article or book that could help make sense of our reality. Every time I looked for answers I kept feeling more shameful and not enough. I told my best friend there was no support group or t-shirt for what we were going through. No one was running a race or making a bumper sticker for the crap show we have been living through.

 

I thought I needed a Lucy.

 

And in reality my soul needed a Linus. A faithful friend who is quiet and sees the good in it all. Or a Schroeder who wants nothing more than to play you soothing music and help you at any chance he could get. I imagine he would diffuse essential oils, make you delicious meals, clean your house and then hold you while you cried.

 

Really the opposite of Lucy.

 

Not advice givers.

 

They are life-givers.

 

I have learned through this past year that what I yearn for. What we all yearn for are life-givers.

People who speak life and hope into our hearts.

 

When you are in the midst of realizing what you need to be healed and whole you need to surround yourself with those that breath life into your heart.

 

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Psalm 51:1

 

One of my friends in particular is amazing at this. She will tell me who I forget I am. Reminding me of who she sees in me. She calls out life.

 

This is who I want to be. A life-giver.

 

One who does not remind me of my situation or limitations. But one who sees more for others than I see for myself. One who unveils the courage that is waiting to be released. A foot washer, a hugger, a listener, a bring wine over and sit on your porch girl, a text you in the middle of the night because you can’t breathe girl.

 

I want to be a girl who gives what has been given to her.

 

As a result of what we are walking through, I  have become highly sensitive to others walking through deep pain and grief. Entering into the pain and sitting there with them until the darkness goes away. Finding it a privilege to be on such holy ground. Because suffering is holy. It is messy and lonely but it is also where you will find the barefoot Messiah.

 

Last night we went around the table and said our goals for 2017. Which if you have ever done with your tribe, it is quite enlightening to hear what they deam a “goal”.

 

Let’s just say someone at the table wants “better hair” this year. ( yes, it is a 13 year old boy)

 

Don’t be jealous at the level of depth in our family. It is a gift.

 

When I told my family I wanted to stop being a Lucy they all kind of giggled at me. The youngest pointed out that I couldn’t be in a movie on TV. Thank you dear child, another dream crushed.

 

I went on to explain that we have all had the privilege of being loved deeply this year. By those that have not run from our pain and mess but have come closer with mercy. We have experienced such a life -breathing, foot washing community around us, that we need to learn how to give what we have been given. So although my goal is not as deep as others around the table, I still feel that this is all I am called to give in 2017.

 

Life.

 

And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. Exodus 33:19
What would it look like if we all breathed more life this year and less advice?

To live a life barefoot.

When I was a little girl my mom would cover our feet with bread bags before we put them into our  moon boots. It was not unusual to see little legs with bread bags on them during the cold Michigan winter months. Being the oldest of five and living on one salary we were not privy to new boots every season. We got the hand me downs, now they are called “vintage” and our mom did whatever she could to make sure our little toes stayed dry and warm. To not feel the frigid winters on our feet.

We have 100 year old hardwood floors in the house I live in now. When people come in they automatically want to take off their shoes. We are very quick to tell them to keep them on. The floors are cold and with five children you never know what you may step on.

A few weeks ago at my second home, I mean my therapist’s office, he sat back and sighed deeply into his chair. He said,” I am not sure how much more you can carry. I don’t know many in my life that have endured so much suffering. And yet…. Still.”

And then last week as I was on my way to the woods to breathe the deep whisper of fall coming, and to have a couple days to soak in the goodness of other writers.

I read this passage.

“….when we are stuck or hurting and our gut instinct is to run out of there as fast as we can, we are probably close to holy ground. It is in the very midst of our pain, the places we hate and the seasons of life we dread, that God’s voice is most clear.” – Christina Gibson, Soul Barre

I feel like some of us, including my family, have been barefoot for a long time.

We want to grab those bread bags mom would keep in the bottom drawer of the kitchen and wrap our feet. Wrap the feet of our children and put our moon boots back on.

And yet.

And still.

We ache for our savior every day.

We want him.

Are we willing then to live a barefoot life?

To see the pain and suffering as an invitation to enter holy ground.

The last thing from my mind this year has been the idea that what we are going through is holy.
I have had many other words for it. Holy has never been one of them.

And yet.

And still.

I have seen God clearly pushing through the darkness. I have seen him in the kindred’s that sit late into the night on the porch until the fear goes away. I have seen him in the meals that have been placed on our door. I have seen him in the letters that speak nothing of knowing and everything of being. I have seen him in the song sent from states away that sings of justice. I have seen him in the goldfinches that continue to dance if I am quiet enough to watch. I have seen him in the prayers that have kept oxygen in our lungs. I have seen him in the plane tickets bought to teach us to walk again. I have seen him in countless and hundreds of ways.

And yet.

And still.

I want to put the shoes back on.

I want to run.

And yet.

And still.

He beckons me closer.

Into the pain.

To hear him say…..”take off your shoes, this, my beloved, is holy ground.”

 

The work of healing. What happens when you want to give up……

Earlier this week I was in full melt down mode. Like if my mom were here she would have put me in time out or sat me on the stairs for a “come to Jesus” moment. As a child I am sure that I through monumental tantrums. I was what some may call a spirited child, so it is no surprise that as an adult I continue to feel emotions big.

I texted my husband that morning by 9am and said I was done. I was winning the award for the worst homeschool mom ever. If there was an award for failure, I was the Michael Phelps of that Olympics. I said that I could no longer do this. Everyone was in tears and I was a person I never wanted to be. I was anxious and overwhelmed. No one was learning anything except that mommy may have fallen off the crazy wagon again and they all had front row seats to the show.

And because my husband is who he is, and because we are sitting our butts on a therapists couch every week, he texts back, “where is your list?”

You see he didn’t give me advice or agree with me. Or better yet bring a medal home.

He just heard me.

As women, as humans, we need to hear each other more. To ask before we give our opinion. To lead towards the answer, not give it.

My list. The list.

This summer I made a long list of what healing looks like.

What my heart ached and prayed for over my family. What would come alongside Jesus and help the healing process of our family that evil has torn apart. Because we know that Jesus can heal. He will heal. But we also know that we actually have to do the work. The work of healing. The work of believing. The work of inhaling and exhaling. The work of showing up and feeling.

So I put the phone down and went to look for the list.

I went to my room, sat on my bed and let the tears come as I read aloud…..

Water

Woods

Sunshine

Yoga

Reading

Writing

Exercise

Safe people

Music

Breathing

Crying

Therapy

Whole foods

Sleep

Exhaling

Quiet

Listening

Laughter

Space

Medication

Jesus…..

And most of all Jesus.

Nowhere on the list did it say Math. Or lesson plans. Or science experiments. Or Common Core. Nowhere did it say that my children needed to sit in a classroom and have seven hours of education to be healed. Or at the dining room table being drilled about the industrial revolution.

So why was I trying to push in that which was aching to be freed?

Please hear me. I believe in education. The husband is a public school teacher. I adore teachers. I love our elementary school we came from. I miss it every day.

But this year. Our now. Our reality is that healing and connection are far more important than anything they will gain being away from each other in school.

The condition of their heart and souls is of more importance to me than any grade they could ever bring home. More than any championship they could win. Or worth they gain from win on the court.

Present and healed are more important than schedules and rules.

I want my children to move forth from this year knowing that they were heard and understood.

That to heal you need to do the work.

And the work of healing cannot be found in a classroom right now.

And yet somehow by the first week in October I had already forgotten.

I forget all the time.

Just yesterday I was on my way to my therapist and I could feel the tears already making their way down my cheeks as I drove. I was miles away and already I was crying.

My body knew.

Knew where I was going and was preparing me to release it all.

My therapist tells me that this in itself is growth. That when we acknowledge the truth of what is going on, that this is a sign of courage.

So I go back to the list. One time this morning. Four times this afternoon. I go back and I read and pray through the list.

Remembering what my heart already knows.

Inhaling the truth of brokenness is painful.

Yet exhaling is the healing.

Goldfinches and Grief.

Sometimes I think we miss God. We miss him all around us. He tries to talk to us. For us to see him. In people. In moments. I think we make our world too loud to notice him. We turn the music up louder. We keep checking our phones, we make more coffee dates,  turn on Netflix, work more hours, or drink one more drink and all he wants is us to be. To be there. To feel. To notice. To see.

My therapist says that I need drama. That I was born with it in me. And that this a part of me that rarely gets praised. He says that too often what is really good in us, gets told from an early age, to be quiet. That somehow, who we are, is not okay.

Not God breathed.

He though, is good at that. Calling out what I have been told is wrong, and showing me that God knit me together perfectly. I don’t always think he is good, my therapist. Sometimes he pisses me off, when he calls me out on my crap. But today. Today was good. Because I needed to hear truth and love. And sometimes when you are grieving you can’t hear either. I can’t hear truth because I am so weighted down with sadness that truth can barely peak through. It is choking at the possibility that it will never be heard again.

And then there is love. I cannot bear the thought of love right now. In fact, love I just want to punch in the face. I really could use someone to punch in the face right now. God bless those that are trying to love me right now. Because one moment I am a puddle of tears and the next minute I want to punch them in the throat and scream that they have no idea the hell I am daily living through. Don’t send me scripture or prayers unless you are willing to sit in the darkness and not leave. Bless.

And then God. Because he is God. Just starts to gently whisper. Because he knows right now that is the only way I am going to listen. Because if he yells I will just get out the sledgehammer. He already knows that the world is too loud for me right now. And I don’t need more advice or more “ I would do it this way” . What I need is a dramatic whisper. Because he knows me. He knows what my heart is longing for. It doesn’t need more talking. It doesn’t need more unsolicited advice. It doesn’t need more people doing things for me. I don’t need fixers. I need more whispering. I need more being.

So he whispers.

And because I am weaved and made in all the drama goodness that he made he weaves his way right in front of me.

And it all has to happen that way.

Michigan. With water. And woods. And dirt roads. And quiet.

Walking.

And there in front me were three little goldfinches. Just playing tag with each other. Chirping with each other about how cute they are. Because they really are the cutest birds. And there they were just fluttering in front of me.

Dancing.

I stood there and just started to cry. One, because the weight I am carrying around is so heavy right now and two because I knew it was God whispering.

I had been feeling very abandoned.

If he really believed me when I said I wanted to follow him years ago, then all of this shit would not have happened. None of this was making sense. None of it.

Yes I know bad things happen to good people. I know. But I also wrestle with why does it continue to happen? And if you could think of the worst things to happen to a family, they have all happened. All. And as a mother it is just too much to carry most days.

And here I was on that dirt road confessing to the creator of the universe that he and I were done. I had carried enough and I could not bear one more burden in his name for his glory.

I know.

Lightening was going to strike me. But this was my Jacob moment. Crying to God that this mother could not breathe one more night of agony.

On that dirt road all he needed me to do was to see.

He asked me to turn to the right.

And there to the right was a field. A field of purple thistle. And above the thistle were hundreds of dancing gold finches. Hundreds.

According to birdlife.org the gold finch is most often found in the religious paintings in the hand of the infant Jesus. Symbolizing and relating to the healing of the sick and thus redemption.

Healing.

Of course. Healing.

I didn’t know this pertinent information until weeks later than that late morning in west Michigan.

I was actually in a park with my youngest daughter and a group of finches flew right by my face and I immediately start crying. There are only so many times that you can ignore God trying to whisper his love over you until you break wide open.

So I googled what goldfinches meant and that is what came up. Like Jesus himself wrote it. I think he works for birdlife.org on Thursdays or something like that.

I sat there on the park bench and sobbed.

I hear you. I know you are here. I see you pushing through all of the darkness that continues to daily be layered on us but I see you pushing your way through.

Yesterday. Today. Everyday. I see him pushing through. If I am quiet enough I see the goldfinches.

I see.

John 16:22 So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.

 

What if I break?

 

A blanket of sadness has covered our family this year. Our village. Our world. And when sadness comes I want to run.

But this, what has happened recently,could break me. I know this. I am fully aware that this might all be too much.

So I  texted my people and whispered “what if I break? What if this is all too much?”

And them, being the most life giving people I know said, you are not going to break. You are broken. You should be broken. But broken is beautiful. Broken can be put back together stronger than ever before. We will stay with you in the broken. We will stay until it doesn’t hurt anymore.

This is the thing. They know. They know everything. They know how many things hurt. They know all the shit that has gone on and the injustice of it all.

And still. Still they stay. They stay and wait until it doesn’t hurt anymore.

When I was younger, I remember finding my mom crying in the basement while she was ironing clothes. Standing over the ironing board with tears streaming down her face. I remember being so angry. So angry at who or whatever was hurting my mom. I know now. But then I really was more confused by the silent basement suffering.

She and I grew up in different times. Different ways of dealing with life. She grew up as a Dutch missionary kid. You worked hard, you went to church on Sunday and then you worked harder. You always brought the best casserole to the church function and you didn’t interfere with other people’s business. You perhaps had a handkerchief, but that was just to wipe your nose, not to show any public emotion other than happiness and lemon bars.

And then there was me.  I was born with all the feelings all the time. Teachers in my younger years said I was “a lot to handle”. But then life happened and me being a lot to handle turned into too much. And somewhere along the way the girl that felt too much started to believe that she wasn’t enough. She needed to stop feeling.

So I did. If it was bad for you I used it. If it was good for you I used it more. Anything and anyone to make these feelings I didn’t know how to feel go away.

That is what we do when we are scared. We numb.

I made a very conscious decision for my family this summer. We were going to heal. And to heal, you need to feel.

We decided that in order to heal we made the painful decision to bring all the kids home from school. All of them.

Early on, someone asked me what I was going to teach them this year.

Healing. I am going to teach them to heal.

When trauma happens our natural instinct is fight or flight. As an addict I am usually in flight mode. But this time. This time in our lives we are choosing to stay.

To choose healing.

And healing looks different than school.

This does not mean that we are not doing anything but art, therapy, yoga and oils, but that is a huge part of it.
I need to walk beside them as they learn who they are and how all of this brokenness fits into their world. I want to teach the that their is no freedom in basement suffering. I need to breathe life and words of love into them as much as I can.

I need to stay until it doesn’t hurt anymore.

A WARRIOR will rise….

When I was younger, my cousins and I all got under-roos for Christmas one year. It was either that or at one of our joint birthday parties. Because when you have 18 cousins, you have one party a year not 18 million. Because really, who has that kind of time or strength for that much piñata hitting?

My mom still has a picture of me with my siblings in the fantastic underwear that somehow transformed us into superheroes. Because nothing quite says “save the day” like red and gold undergarments.

I look at that picture now though and realize that little girl had no idea of how strong she really was.

Last week I had someone ask me when I started to believe that I  really was strong. I wish I could have said about the same time that the infamous under-roos picture was taken. That then, is when I believed that who I was included the word strong. But if I am honest, it wasn’t until my late 30’s. It wasn’t until then, that I started to understand what strong was.

I had returned from my third trip to Africa years ago more broken than I had ever been. My mind had shifted and it was in fight or flight mode. I really did not know how to function. I thought it was the hardest battle I would ever have to face.

I think the first time that I believed I was strong, was actually walking into that emergency room and asking for help. Splayed out with nothing between my dignity and a paper gown I had to start believing then that I was something else. That I was a warrior.

They say that you become who you surround yourself with. So if you want to be a strong person you need to find strong people. If you want to be brave, find the broken.

I found the people that I wanted to be more like and spent time with them. I signed up for a personal trainer and realized that my body was stronger than I ever thought it could be. I also marched my ass back into therapy. Well, one because I couldn’t make sense of what was going on and two because I am a feeler. I feel everything all the time. I am basically a walking kitten, well maybe a tiger. A walking tiger who likes ice cream.

Knowing I was strong did not come overnight. I did not wake up one morning and ka-boom I was a warrior.

I was warrior all along. I just didn’t know I was.

We all are. We are all warriors. We have all  had battles that have left us tasting dirt. And we have had battles that have left scars that tell more stories than we had wanted. We have run through battles unscathed and some have taken parts of us with them. We have fought armies of those in front of us and some of us it is the battles of our past that keep us chained. Some of our battles are on the public front and everyone’s cousin knows our business, while other battles, sometimes the hardest battles, are those we can barely whisper about. Some of us battle alone because we fear that others will view us as weak.

Whatever the battle we face, we become a WARRIOR when we realize we were never meant to go to war alone.

The battles that have left us bloody and raw have only made us stronger because of those around us who carried us to healing.

It is then that we are strong.

 

I realized that I do not want my daughters to know that they are strong, that they are brave, that they are warriors when they are thirty seven.

I need to them to begin to hear it now.

As I hug my middle one before she goes to bed, I have started to whisper into her ear

 You are brave. You are strong. You are a WARRIOR. And I adore you.

It is a small thing.  A simple thing. One thing I know I can do. I can tell her who she forgot she was. Who I never knew I was.

And yet who we were born to be.

I have to hope that they will start to believe it before they are my age.

It is time. It is time to start believing that you are a warrior. And reminding the women around us who they are. Who they were born to be.

A warrior asks for help. She takes her medicine. She takes that class she was afraid of. She forgives. She encourages. She delights in others accomplishments. She makes room at the table. She feeds herself well. She tells the truth. She walks towards healing. She doesn’t create drama. She is a listener. She lifts other up without looking for any credit. She lets others go. She is loyal. She is strong. She takes care of herself. She is a servant. She comes closer to the pain. She speaks life into others. She takes responsibility. She sits with the sorrow. She grieves for as long as it takes. She feels all the feels. She celebrates the movement of her body. She delights in the sunshine on her face. She welcomes the quiet. She waits for God to whisper. She follows what sets her heart on fire. She lets others love her.

And most importantly…..she WILL RISE.

A warrior will rise.

I remember one morning, months after I had been home from Africa. I was doing all of the right things. I was taking my medication. I was going to therapy. I was eating only whole foods. I had given up the nectar of the gods, caffeine and I was exercising my butt off. But I still could barely move from the couch some days. I felt like life was happening around me and I would never participate fully again.

Until I did.

Until I let my body heal. Until I let my mind heal. Until I let those around me carry me out of the battle.

And then I would rise.

So sweet one, today if it feels like the weight of fear has you breathless. If the battle you face is too painful to utter off your lips. If your scars have been reopened for the world to see. Remember this…

You are. You always have been, a warrior.

And a warrior WILL rise.

RAW- guest post by Elisabeth Klein

 


excerpt from Elisabeth Klein’s Holidays for the Hurting: 25 Devotionals to Help You Heal

 

I know of a woman whose beloved dog died the day after her wedding. Life is funny like that. Every day, we gratefully hold in one hand joys and blessings that are immeasurable, and in the other hand, we begrudgingly hold life’s deep hurts and blinding disappointments.

 

Life does not wait for good timing to bring something our way.

 

And Christmas is no exception.  You may have just entered into a season of pain as the holidays started up. And the newness of the situation has left you not just unsettled and unmoored but raw.

 

You are raw in that you do not know how to process what has swept into your life.  Or you might be raw in that this thing – whatever your thing is – has rubbed you down to your core. It’s like wearing new shoes for a long day of walking and you can feel with every step that skin is being removed.

 

Or, like me, you find yourself raw because an old issue that you thought was either worked through or healed or at the very least buried down deep enough to be a non-issue has resurfaced, and it hurts, and it’s uncomfortable and you do not know what to do with it.

 

We cannot fix ourselves. We cannot heal ourselves.  We want to, because we don’t like to feel unpleasant things, and because we like to think we’re in control.  But we cannot.

 

I think of Mary in those very first moments after the angel left her, before she told anyone of the news of her pregnancy.  She must have felt stripped bare.  She must have been beyond confused. She must have been in awe.  She must have been raw.

 

And yet, bless her heart, her kneejerk reaction was to submit in obedience.

 

Let it be to me according to your word, she said.

 

In her rawness, she obeyed. In her rawness, she laid down her dreams for her life.  In her rawness, she turned her heart to God.

 

…Let the bones you have crushed rejoice. –Psalm 51:8

 

God, I am without a way to heal myself today. I cannot take away my own pain. I am bare before you, I am weak, I am raw. I need you. Please cover me and heal me.  Amen.

beth

 

Elisabeth Klein is grateful new wife to Richard, and mom and now stepmom to five. She writes regularly at www.elisabethklein.com/blog and desires to help hurting women by bringing them hope. You may order your copy of Holidays for the Hurting: 25 Devotions to Help You Heal here.

You can follow her at

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To the weary mother in the waiting room,

 

I see you.

Staring at the wall.

Aching for the other moms across the room to make eye contact. Yet afraid of being noticed. Or drawing any attention to yourself.

Holding in each breath, waiting for someone to whisper,

 you are not alone.

I see you struggling to keep fear inside as it wears itself as anger across your face.

Sweet one, we both know why we are here.

I know that what brought you into this room is hard. It is not a quick twenty minute visit. It is not a prescription that needs to be refilled once.  This is something that a Band-Aid cannot fix.

I know the reasons you are here, and you cannot utter them out loud. No one is making a t-shirt or tying a ribbon for what you are living with. You wish you could speak of why you are here. You wish that you could tell those in your life the truth of what is going on behind closes doors.

But the thing is.

You can’t.

This truth is too much.

You can’t talk about why you are here. Or who is here. It is not your story to tell. It is just your story to carry on our shoulders every moment of the day.

I know you are exhausted.

I know you just want this to be over and it crushes your spirit that it is only beginning.

This is what grief does. It tires your bones. It wraps itself around you and pushes hope away.

I see you sitting there and for a moment when you are finally alone,

you close your eyes.

You need these moments to just be.

To not be in charge. To not make decisions.

You need this moment to search for a place of rest. To make sense of all of these thoughts and fears taking control of your mind.

To search for the lost part of your soul. The part where you knew what to do. You knew what answers to give.

I see you with papers laid before you.

Saying yes to questions you never thought you’d have to answer.

Filling in lines of history that shame tells you, you carried here.

Sweet one. I see you.

I see how tired and worn you are.

You long for just one night of peaceful sleep.

You ache for just one hour to feel “normal” again.

Breathing in that this is your new normal.

Hold close sweet one,

and exhale mercy painting a picture of grace.

I know today was hard. It was heart wrenching,

even many tomorrows this may not be restored.

But here in this room. In this room filled with magazines of lives we will never have, this is a safe place.

It is a silent space, where your pain is heard.

It is a place where no advice is given. No looks of pity or judgement.

We will not tell you what you should or shouldn’t do.

We will not lay shame on your shoulders only grace.

We have all carried in years of pain and we are laying it here.

We are leaving it all here.

We are laying all late nights

All the answers that we have and those we are afraid to hear.

You are not the only one sweet one. I know you feel like you are.

I know you feel like this is the loneliest room you will ever be in.

But sweet one look around. You are not alone.

I am you. And you are me.

I need Jesus in a stable not on a stage

Every part of me is struggling.

Every part. I thought that leaving our church of twelve years would be good.

Healthy.

I was listening to what God was telling me to do. I was listening to the wrestling in my heart for over a year now and I was sure this was how I was to obey. So I did.

I left. We left. We said our goodbyes and started on a new path.

What I didn’t realize was that this struggle was only the beginning.

This journey is lonely. This limbo feeling. This in between, of being let go of where you were, and not connected to where God is leading you to be.

With questions all along the way.

It is a quiet and lonely place to be.

When you see things from a different view, but no one wants to invite themselves into that conversation. Between what is being said and what is not, is a space of angst and confusion.

So you follow God and meet Jesus there.

He has always been safer for me. Jesus.

The Jesus at the well.

He is where I feel I can bring every distrust and broken part of me.

The parts where the sadness and hesitations intertwine.

He is where my feet are bare waiting to be washed.

And my soul is thirsty for truth.

I find myself at the well lately. Asking questions and finding a soft calm for my unsettled heart.

I stay there.

Most days now I stay and just listen to him whisper who I was, is not who I am. He reminds me that this wrestling in my heart is not with him it is with the church.

What is happening is not how he intended it to be.

He reminds me that the peace I long for came in a stable, not a production Sunday morning.

The peace that I long for came quietly. Gently.

I plead with him to breathe new life into my heart. A heart that aches and mourns.

A heart that pulls away and longs to be close again.

So I am gentle with myself as he teaches me new things. He leads me back to routine and the healing that comes in the memories of the prayers prayed as a child.

This space. This in between is a hard place to be.

I don’t think I am the only one here. In the between. The space where you want to ask questions and listen for answers. The space where you want your voice to be heard without being silenced by status. The space where you feel safe enough to show your heart without it being shunned by authority.

This space. The space where the broken and bruised are healed. The space where the thirsty souls are fed. The space where your questions are welcomed and heard. The space where grace meets you at the door. The space where the wounded tell the stories of their scars. The space where truth is set free.

The space where Jesus is.

That is the space I long to be.