When you need a wounded healer

We all have things that make us feel loved. Things or people that no matter the circumstances we walk away feeling that a part of us has been healed.
My oldest son is an old soul. He was born I think doing yoga. Everything about him moves at a slower pace. Unless he is on the soccer field then I apologize because he probably fouled your child. The competitiveness always wins on the pitch.
I know when he is struggling when he comes and sits right next to me. It is his way of telling me that life today is hard he needs to refuel. He needs to be hugged and listened to. He is already a quiet child and doesn’t express his feelings too well. But I am not sure of any middle school boy that expresses anything but body odor well.
So he sits next to me and I know what he needs. He needs me. He needs me to be present and reachable. He needs me to listen and not speak. He doesn’t need me to buy him anything or even say a word. He just needs to know he is not alone.
For me it is words. I know my day will be filled abundantly when I open the mailbox and see a card addressed to me. It is usually the same person who writes to me. She knows me. She knows that when life seems out of balance and I am feeling lonely in a room full of people, that I need words to remind me of who I am.
For many writers this is true. We communicate with words and are healed in the same way.
So it is no surprise that we are also detroyed the very same way.
A while back I received an email that was scathing to put it nicely. I was ripped apart and told who I was. For so long I let it play over and over in my head. I could see the words that were written and I could hear them throughout my day.
It had never occurred to me until recently why this email had done so much damage to me. I knew who I was. I knew I had friends who loved and cherished me. I knew that I served a God who poured grace over me daily. I did not need to let this one person’s opinion consume me. Until I realized that the same way that words heal me they also wound me just as deeply.
If my language of love is words, then using them against me or about me will do more damage than anything ever could.
For my son it is time. He needs time. He needs to know that I am around and that his time with me is valued. So while one child may need me to hug her all day and other likes to be surprised with little gifts, he needs me to play basketball with him until the streetlights come on. So there I am in my Birkenstocks tearing up the court. Just kidding, I am just trying to get it in the basket.
But for me it is words. It is the words that you say to me and the words that you don’t. It is the words that you write and those that you speak.
Every time I write I am laying a piece of myself at your feet. I am pealing back another layer and exposing a vulnerable piece of who I am.
I think as humans, especially fellow writers, we need to be careful with this. The way we talk to each other. The way we critique each other. The way we “encourage” each other. And the way we tear each other down trying to make enough room at the table.
There is room. At the table. For all of us.
But I want to be at a table where we are listening to each other. Where we are using our words to heal.
We all have the power to heal. We have the power to be a part of the healing process. By our words. By our time. By our gifts.
So know your people. Your people around you. In your home. In your life. In your world.
Know who they are and how they are loved. How they know that they matter.
Because if you know how they are loved then you most likely know how they were wounded.
And we all need wounded healers around us.
Be a wounded healer.

Bob Dylan and Birkenstocks- when you love someone else.

I remember sitting in the therapists’ office that early August afternoon biting my nails. I think it was the one with the dying plant on the basement office window that smelled like wet towels. The therapist looked like Napoleon Dynamite or someone who really needed a good haircut. I recall sitting there on the burnt orange couch thinking I cannot believe I am here telling my life story to someone who literally looks like he  just graduated high school. He was our fourth therapist if you were not counting priests. The fourth one in five years of marital bliss. It wasn’t the best track record and I was sure that this one was going to tell us what I wanted to hear.

God forbid I hear the truth.

My truth was the layers of bitterness that held my husband at arm’s length.

I was in love with someone else. I had been for years. I loved someone that was not in my life anymore. Yet he was in my every thought. There was not a day that went by that I did not think of him. I would replay the last time we had seen each other and beg God for us to meet again .He was a English major who played Bob Dylan on his guitar with curly dark hair and my hippie heart had fallen head over Birkenstocks in love with him.

And here I was married. Sitting on another therapists couch and carrying this secret inside.

Except it really wasn’t a secret.

Every silent moment. Every slammed door. Every night my body said no. Every tear stained pillow. Every blaming word. Every layer of resentment was always through this deceitful filter I carried around.

And I painfully made it clear that I would never be in love again.

The therapist that August afternoon told us to get a divorce. He told us it would be less painful for our children if we just walked away now.

If we drew the line in the sand.

 

Instead I did what any irrational stubborn Catholic school girl would do.

I decided that I would change who I had married into who I loved.

I would put the filter of who I needed him to be and judge every word and action through it. If he did not meet that expectation I would throw the D word back in his face.

This may have not been the healthiest thing to do for our marriage.

He in turn would shut down and refuse to speak to me or include me in any family decision.

While I was tearing our little family apart he was trying make sure I didn’t  do anymore collateral damage.

 

That was over twelve years ago.

This past weekend I had the privilege in the most tragic way, to witness again why I walked down the aisle to the one I share this marriage with.

I sat in the middle of the crowded somber church on Sunday afternoon and listened while my husband gave a eulogy for one of his beloved students. I listened as he tenderly told story after story of a life that ended too soon. I watched as he shuffled the papers in his hand and tried to hold back the tears of grief and confusion.

As tears filled my eyes I thought, how can this be the same man?

How can God still let me be married to him?

For so many years I had put an unattainable filtered expectation on him and yet he stayed.

God had seen fit from the beginning that he would refine us and continually mold us into one.

Even though we had both walked down the aisle with years of dysfunctional baggage he unpacked it all.

The truth is so much ugliness still comes out. My heart still finds itself putting filters on my marriage. On my kids. On my friends. I expect that they will meet my desires instead of letting God shape them into his.

As I watched my husband this past week deal with the grief of losing a child loved. I saw him rise to who I never knew I needed. To hear others say what they love about him as a teacher, as a leader, as a man I was humbled and embarrassed.

Embarrassed because this was the first time I was seeing clearly who these children and parents and community had seen all along.

They saw a man who was true to his word. A man who adored the work he does.  A man who knows his students and will do anything for them. A man whose heart is genuine and gentle. They saw a man who could make anyone feel like they were the most important person in the world. A man who believes his faith holds him together and isn’t afraid to talk about it. A man who got to see that the work he does matters.

I wonder sometimes what would happen if we treat each other that way. If we treat each other without filters of fear. Filters of manufactured regret. Filters of jealousy. Filters of expectation.

What would happen if when we talk to each other? When we pray for each other. When we fight with each other. What if we were just brave enough to set those down? Brave enough to say that who they are is enough.

Brave enough to believe that God will make them and transform us into exactly who we are meant to be.

I want to go back to that therapist’s office today. I want to go back and tell him he got it all wrong. The parts where he said to walk away. The parts where he said we could never make this work.

I want to show him the line in the sand.

The line in the sand where Jesus says watch how I will reconcile it all.

All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, owe are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

2Corinthians 5:18-21

A voice from a girl- the voice you forget in all of this

I think we give too many people voices.Too many things that do not deserve another ounce of energy a voice. I am not saying that people should not be heard. I am saying we need to be careful who we are giving voice to. And who we are leaving behind.

I see  you making jokes and posting comments about Josh Duggar or some sandwich guy and what they did.  Giving your opinion about the horrific illegal actions that they took. I know that in your mind it is  funny or really disgusting and you need to let everyone know how you feel. Or what your stance is. You want to make sure that those around you know exactly what your opinion is. I get that. I understand. When it is election year or there is a new season of Downton Abbey on I want my voice heard as well.  But this is not that. This is not light and funny.

This is painfully too close.

You see there is a voice you are not hearing.

There is a voice that you are mocking every time you are making jokes.

I am the voice of the girl you do not hear. I am the voice of the little girl who died on the inside at the age of eight.  I am the voice of the teenager who never knew she had a choice. I am the voice of the college girl who gives herself away to anyone that tells her she is something. I am the voice of the girl who vomits behind the car in the grocery store praying no one will see her. I am the voice of the woman who numbs herself with anything that will stop her from feeling. I am the voice of the girl who screams in terror when monsters invade her dreams at night. I am the voice of the mother who cries herself to sleep thinking she could have seen the signs. I am the voice of the girl who carves her skin to feel again. I am the voice of the child who sees a therapist more than the playground. I am the voice of the girl on the outside looking in wishing someone would notice. I am the voice of the woman who will never know what healthy sex looks like. I am the voice of the husband who is angry at the man who took away what was his. I am the voice of the pastor who sits and hears the cry of a broken story that was never told. I am the voice of the girl who just needed someone to believe.

So while I know that you on the outside are angry and want to share how you are feeling.

I just plead with you to think of those whose voices are not heard.

To think about all of the young women and girls whose lives were stolen.

Let’s do better.

Let’s be braver.

Let’s be their voice. And stop giving it to those that take it away.

I choose you- what vows look like after 17 years

This week the husband and I renewed our vows. And by renew I mean wrote all new words. Because after seventeen years you need to say new words. The words you say when you are a young bride with no idea how to keep a promise to yourself, much less promises to another person for the rest of your life, well words need to be said again.

When you are walking down the aisle more concerned about the size of your waist and if your nursing bra is leaking more than the person at the end of the aisle it is perhaps not the picture of matrimonial bliss.

Writing vows again after seventeen years looks less like a Pinterest dream and more like a masterpiece of redemption.

It looks like late night arguing and late morning swollen eyes.

It looks like crayon drawings on the wall and Band-Aid covered knees.

It looks like pasta again for dinner with thirty dollars left in the checking account.

It looks like trips to the in-laws and silent anger the way home.

It looks like catching her passed out on the bathroom floor when she promised to stop.

It looks like spending the savings account again on a car they couldn’t afford in the first place.

It looks like soccer families meaning more than ones you left at home.

It looks like littles in pj’s crying behind closed doors as parents open the suitcases of resentment on each other.

It looks like buying your first house in a neighborhood friends never came to.

It looks like sleeping on the couch for nights turned into weeks.

It looks like a Bible opened for the first time.

It looks like you first before me.

It looks like midnight calls to ones you pour your secrets to.

It looks like college funds turned into therapy bills.

It looks like a home with a door revolving to those who need a place to stay.

It looks like forgiveness when she realizes she is the one she needs to forgive.

It looks like catching fireflies with smore’s still on their faces.

It looks like driving to the treatment center because this time has to be the last.

It looks like your knees bruised from pleading with God.

It looks like admitting the ugliness you’ve hid for years.

It looks like Saturday mornings on the porch before anyone else is awake.

It looks like telling the truth that no one wants to hear.

It looks like catching him praying over her before he goes to school.

It looks like finding friends who help you clean up the pieces.

It looks like falling on your face with the brokenness that you have become.

It looks like saying out loud that change needs to happen.

It looks like restoration.

And so we gathered our people.  Our marriage warriors. And we stood in our backyard, in the neighborhood we claimed as our home and put a stake in the ground for the legacy of our family.

View More: http://snohling.pass.us/massie-vow-renewal

One of the most precious moment in the ceremony was when our good friend and pastor gathered us around our children and prayed the blood of Jesus over our family. That the chains of relationships would be broken and for the future spouses and callings of our sweet babes. I may have ugly cried my way through this.

 

View More: http://snohling.pass.us/massie-vow-renewal

And instead of promises. We made choices.

 

I choose to fight for you. To fight for us. I choose to daily lay your life before Jesus and ask that he guard your heart and mind to only His will. I choose to be present. To focus on what makes us a family not what makes others happy. I choose to put you first before our children. Because I know that is what is best for them. I choose to break the cycle of relationships gone before us by choosing healthy over happy. I choose to let you be the spiritual leader in our home and believing that God will equip you to do so. I choose to love you even when I am so unlovable.

But most of all. I choose this. I choose to pursue Jesus with all of my heart and passion. Because if we have learned anything these past 17 years it is this….He is our healer and redeemer.

And only He can restore.

#TELLHISSTORY

View More: http://snohling.pass.us/massie-vow-renewal

( The gorgeous photo’s were taken by Sabrina Nohling and the yard was transformed by Mary Kay from the Homestead in Plano.)

Paper gowns and other realities of post-adoption depression

This is where it had all landed me. The months of torture I had endured all boiled over me that Sunday morning. And by Sunday evening I was being watched by a police officer. Not even a police officer. I think he was a security guard who had just graduated. So here I was all of my womanhood on display for someone still going through puberty who was probably more interested in twitter than keeping me safe. I was being monitored one on one so that I wouldn’t harm myself. My purse was taken away. My clothes gone.  I was left laying with a paper gown trying to plead with the doctor to not lock me up. I hadn’t shaved my legs or worn pretty underwear. My mother always told me to do these things. Although I am sure my mother never thought her daughter would be laid out on a gurney being evaluated by a psychiatrist that December morning. These are things that you think about and cry over when you realize that this may be the beginning to the end. My biggest fear was coming true. I was entering into a world I thought I would never return from.

I had had a “breakdown” years before when my car caught on fire with two of my kids in it. I was in a Starbucks drive thru and my toddler at the time started yelling “ MOMMY FIRE!” I turned around to the back seat to see flames coming up the side of the door at his feet. While the fire department came and put the fire out I sat and watched while holding my little ones. I had been alone for days as my husband was trying to piece his family back together in Ohio after his baby brother died suddenly. Nothing had made sense and I was losing it. After almost losing my children to dealing with the stress of a loss we could not comprehend I lost it. For two days I lie in bed heavily medicated and watched. My mother came to stay with me to make sure I remembered how to take care of myself and others. She made lists of things for me to follow. Brush your teeth. Make the bed. Pick up kids. The smallest things accomplished made me feel useful and needed.

But this is what grief and postpartum depression do. They take hold of your neck like a stranglehold and they continuously pull you down. They try to convince you that you will stay there forever. That your truth is the disease and not the overcomer. And here I was seven years later.

 I wanted to drown into the bed. I wanted to disappear. I wanted to wake up from this nightmare. “Please” I am pleading with him just don’t lock me up. This doctor who looks like someone I know. Someone I would be friends with if I were not naked and covered in paper. In my head I am going over the possible scenarios.

I know what it’s like.

I do.

I know how they over medicate. I know that they will put me in a room and give me pills that make me forget who I am. I know they will feed me with sporks and my children will never look me in the eyes again. I know that people at church will find out. I know they say that church is a place for the broken. But only broken enough that a conversation will fix. Messy is not even the beginning to describe what is going on. They say that they will look past this and forgive me. But they won’t. I know.  I know when they find out the truth or the truth they want to believe and start gossip prayer chains. It will be so far removed from what happened that I will never know whose knife I have in my back. I  know that  I  will be looked at as the “crazy mom who had to be locked up”  “ The mom who couldn’t handle it” “ The one who fell off the deep end”  I  know how I  will never be the same. I will never be who I was meant to be. This is how you think when you haven’t slept in days and are naked on a gurney.

I lie staring at the blue wall pleading to God to show up. Of any moment in my life this would be the time for him to reveal himself. I was willing to take a vision. In middle school some of my classmates said they saw the virgin Mary at a sleepover I was at. They swore they saw her on the living room wall. Although we also believed we could turn potato chips into communion during lunch hour and serve each other as a priest who talked with a lisp.

But in this moment. I needed God himself to be real. I didn’t need the truth of a disillusioned catholic school girl I needed the faith of a girl who literally was at her rock bottom. I lie there crying, shaking.  Begging Him to be real. In this moment of all moments in my life I needed to feel Him. To hear His voice. To feel His arms wrap around me. I pictured myself at His feet barely able to lift my head clinging to His ankles. Begging for mercy to be tangible. For this one moment all I ached for was hope.

 

 

Come to the table- an honest confession about my homosexual sister

A few days ago I sat across from the table with one of my most enduring friends. We have only been friends for a few years but the way we communicate you would have thought it’s been forever. She is the type of person your soul is drawn to expose itself to. A safe place where grace covers the door. Our two youngest are the best of friends. So while they were busy building a fortress for the ants they had found outside and disturbing anyone there to get any work done at the outdoor coffee shop, we sat across from each other and let the conversation take us to hearing/

We talked about the upcoming summer schedule and what that brought for both of us. We talked about Jesus and church and how we both understand they are not the same. We sat and we laughed and we talked and we heard each other. I crave these moments. Both being introverts we both felt like this time we had was sacred and protected. I began to talk to her about my frustrations with the church. How I am feeling the organic part of it never was and never will be. That I am programed to believe that we worship follows a program. That raising my hands can only be ok if everyone else in the room doesn’t feel uncomfortable. How I feel that if others could see behind my eyes and what I am raising my arms to they may see King Jesus on the throne with angels all around. That they could see the King of Glory with my face at his feet. That they could see my raising my hands has nothing to do with them and everything to do with how their own insecurities beckon them to believe that it does. I then opened my mouth and began to cry about how I have been feeling so lonely in a room of so many. Many who have walked our adoption journey. Our marriage roller coaster. And without a doubt these are my people. But how I don’t know how I fit into anymore. I don’t know how I got to the place where I am questioning things. Things that I had never thought about before when I was a new Christian and just eager to be around others who I thought had the same passions as I did. As I grew and learned and listened and asked questions I began to hear. Hear the same unsettled questions in those that were pulling away. And here we sat the two of us with coffee getting colder hearing what I needed to be heard.

I then started talking about my sister and I . A subject I don’t, I haven’t talked about with many.

My sister and I grew up in a home where eight years apart creates memories the other never got to experience. As we grew older though she and I were two peas in a pod. I adored my sister. She was brave and beautiful and said things that I was never brave enough to utter. She stood in the gap for the underdog and was more interested in becoming who she was then like I ,who was running from who I  didn’t want to be. In high school she “came out” and I fully supported her. I rallied around her and was her biggest cheerleader. I was still a baby myself having just left college with a new baby and no degree. I had no idea what I believed or didn’t believe. I just knew that I loved my sister more than anything and wanted her to be set free. As the years went by and I grew in my faith and then became engrossed in the church I started to develop a sense of pride about my faith and thus grew an ignorance wall. A wall around myself where nothing could shake what I believed. Not even love. So my self-righteousness was more important than maintaining my relationship with my sister. Painful years ensued. Things said and not said. Words thrown to keep the walls secure without noticing who they were tearing down.

I sat across from my friend with tears running down my face. I hadn’t realized how raw this memory still was. I asked her if we could still be friends. If I had ruined our relationship because I had just shown her a really ugly part of my heart.

She then said,

“No, you came to the table. You came to the table and brought who you are.”

That is what this is going to take. For all of us. To come to the table with truth. To admit what we believe and don’t believe. And to listen. Not to sit on our self-righteousness and call out the sin of others without looking in the mirror at ourselves. I am admitting that my anger and pride are sins that festered and grew into years of words unsaid. I wasn’t willing to come to the table. I wasn’t willing to hear only to be heard. That is such a lonely place to be. I needed to come to the table.

At the table there is love.

At the table there is grace.

At the table there is listening.

At the table there is peace.

At the table there is healing.

At the table there is forgiveness.

At the table, there I am.

I am at the table with my sister now. I am trying to hear her. I am asking forgiveness for years I should have drawn closer. I am at the table with a heart that is broken with shame. I am wading through the process of truth and hope. I am soaking in the laughter and memories in the moments we are given.

My sister. She is leaving next week. Moving thousands of miles away with her wife. My heart is so sad and tender about the goodbyes to people I love. I keep thinking if I wish it away the moving truck will never show up.

Yet again I know. She and I. We are still at the table. We are figuring it all out. How to rebuild what we fearfully tore apart.

The table is just needs to stretch to Colorado now.

Sorry Richard Marx I am so over you…..

 

When I was younger I had posters all over my walls. I had my Kirk Cameron phase of childhood crushes where I never missed an episode of Growing Pains. I would lie on my bed and plan out our wedding in my head. I was always shorter in my dreams so his height was never an issue. It was a very sweet wedding with lots of pillow kissing. I also went through an embarrassing Richard Marx phase of which we do not speak of anymore.( A mullet does not need to enter the conversation) And then there was a delusional stint of Michael W. Smith. Yes, you read that correctly. I had a crush on a man who was old enough to be my father. I even met him in person one time at a bookstore. There was a lot of thirteen year old blushing going on.  I then went through a phase of Tori Amos, Natalie Merchant, Indigo Girls, and Alanis Morissette. This is what we called my “angry at the world but at least I knew what good music was” phase. I may have even waited for days on Michigan Avenue to hug Tori Amos. I seriously was obsessed. Anything that she believed in I wanted to believe in. Anything that she liked I willed myself to like it as well. Pasty white girls unite.

Here I am at forty and realize I still have posters on the wall. And if we are honest we all do. We all have people in our lives who have taken the role of idol on our walls. People who we admire can easily become people we want to be. We see someone else trying to lose weight and we think “that is what I need to do”. Not taking into account that you have no desire to lose weight, you just want to be like the other person. You just want to be a part of the “sweaty, drink lots of water crowd”. You hear that someone you admire is taking a vacation later in the summer and you convince your husband to spend money you don’t have just so you can measure up to a person that isn’t asking you to.

I have even been guilty of thinking that I need to be doing foster care again. Yes, I know it is a great thing. However, right now my marriage and the kids in my home need me to pour into them. This is such a critical time in their lives that I need to be present. And yes I wish I could be like a friend I know but God did not call me to follow others. He called me to follow him. And following Him looks like engaging with my teenagers, going out on dates with the hubs, making my home a safe place for others to enter into and trying to balance it all with grace.

I know that I have struggled so many times. In fact I just recently realized that I have tried to live up to someone’s expectations of me just to have them accept me. I have taken on roles that I don’t even enjoy just to have a certain person say I am valuable.

Not too long ago I needed to confess to a friend that I held another friend on such a pedestal that I thought I needed to everything she did to gain her approval. It wasn’t that it was bad things I was doing. They were all good things. But they were good things for her. For her family. Not for mine. My family did not need to look like hers to be enough. We are enough. Enough mess. Enough chaos. Enough spice. Enough loud. Enough brokenness. Enough room. Enough crazy to be enough.

So let’s tell the truth. Let’s look at the posters on our walls and start to take them down. Because sweet one, you are enough. You don’t have to be anyone else. It is exhausting trying to live up to someone you were never called to be. There is room enough for all of us.

Yellow Ceiling Spots

There is a yellow spot on my ceiling in my living room. No it’s not from smoking. Although that would be a better story. Have you ever seen the episode of Modern family where Phil finds a yellow burn on the couch on Christmas morning? Netflix it now. He cancels Christmas until someone fesses up to smoking on the couch. He literally drags the tree out the sliding door onto the porch, while the kids cry and try to take responsibility, even though none of them did it. It is hilarious and true. (You don’t need to write me and tell me I shouldn’t be watching Modern Family, I watch it to know we are not alone on the crazy train.)

We all see things and assume the worst. I look up at ceiling from my couch and I assume that the yellow mark on the ceiling means that our ceiling is falling in and that one day I will be crushed by a bathtub from the second floor. I know. It’s morbid and crazy. Or perhaps I watch too much Rehab Addict or Modern Family. Either way I assume things that may or may not be true. Or I avoid what I know is true.

And what I know to be true today is that I suck at forgiving. Maybe there is a better word, but the thesaurus wanted me to say slurp. And forgiving doesn’t slurp anything. I am just not good at it. I am better at forgiving someone that did something to someone else. But when I have to forgive someone that hurt me, it feels insurmountable.  I want to dig my first grade heals in the playground and justify why I don’t need to forgive them. I want to shout it from the mountaintops or at least a very tall building, because who am I kidding I have never been to a mountain top and I am in no shape to climb one. Anyways, I want to shout it from a very high elevation the list of things this person did to me. How I was wounded so deeply by things that were said and the “sorry’s” that never came. I want others to turn their backs on this person and join me by digging their heels in the playground with me.

But this unforgiveness is heavy. Not like the “winter weight” I have put on. But more like the weighted blanket that my littlest girl sleeps under very night. Except this doesn’t calm me down, it tears at my bones and makes the most inner parts of me afraid and alone. It makes me brittle and broken.

I was a chaperone a few summers ago for my eldest high school camp. (I know, could I be any more of a helicopter parent?) (Actually, I had no idea where she was 95% of the time, so I am really good at keeping track of kids) I was there and heard this for the first time. Or maybe just HEARD it for the first time- that unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. Okay, maybe they didn’t say “die” at church camp but that is what my heart heard.

I want the people that have hurt me deeply to feel the humiliation and weight of what I feel. Of what I wake up every day and carry around. I want my pain to be justified. I want freedom. But if I am honest I want it to come by someone else carrying the shame that I carry every morning when I wake up.

Yet I am learning. Slowly. This isn’t about this person. Or people. It is about me. It is about the sin in my own heart that I can’t let go of. It’s about the years of shame built up in my own lesions that this just reopens like wounds that are still healing.

That is what this is about. It is about taking ownership of your own crap before mulling around in someone else’s. It is about claiming your own baggage at the airport and not trying to make others take their own. They are not ready yet. They are not ready to open up what you are already dealing with. And that it ok. It is ok to begin to heal and to walk away. You don’t. I don’t, need everyone to understand me or like me to be ok. I need to be ok because I know that I am a messy work in progress just trying to figure out my truth.

Bacon Wrapped Jesus.

 

I love bacon. On everything. My love of bacon went to a whole new level when someone introduced me to bacon wrapped dates stuffed with goat cheese. Take a moment and let that soak in. Yeah, it’s that good. It is like pork candy in my mouth. If I am invited to any invent this summer that is probably what I will bring. So if you don’t like bacon, don’t invite me.  I think anything can taste better wrapped in bacon. Except maybe jelly beans. Those stand by themselves.

So here I am a forty year old woman who loves bacon and may or may not have an issue with jelly beans. But I am realizing my heart has been wrapped in other things lately besides bacon.

I am struggling. Struggling watching my daughter trying to date. The push and the pull of it all. Trying to figure out who she is and how she relates to the world. And how the world treats her back. It has nothing to do with the guy. Any guy.

It has to do with me. And me and her. And how she is a huge part of me. Part of me made her. And so I am half of her.

And that scares me.

Because I am pulled into the belief that because I was the girl that everyone should have stayed away from for years, that she will make the same mistakes I did. I know. I know. She is not me. She needs to write her own story. Blah. Blah. Blah.

But this this the thing. When fear creeps in, it wraps itself around you. Around your mind and images of your past soak into parts of you that haven’t healed yet. The parts of you that are creative and vulnerable and raw.

I am twisted in memories of a past that would like to keep me there. I am overwhelmed with the fear that the life I lived will be repeated by my daughter. That she will be haunted for years about the choices she may or may not make.

And here I was on a Tuesday feeling it all over coffee with one of my best friends. This friend has a way of reaching inside my soul and drawing out whatever I am concealing. Or maybe I don’t hide it well and she just has the courage to ask. She asked how I was doing. How I was really doing. The space in between the person that you want everyone to see and the one that exists so life can function in a normal manner. That space. She asked how that in between was.

She listened.

She let me be understood.

She didn’t interrupt or offer advice.

She didn’t counter the story so she could be heard.

She waited. She listened.

And then, when the tears started to fall, she reached across the table and touched my hand.

The words she spoke next brought such freedom to my heart.

You know she gets the best version of you right?”

“What?”

Sweet girl, she gets the YOU wrapped in Jesus. She gets the best part of you. The YOU that is fully and completely wrapped in Jesus.”

“She gets to be raised by one who has been forgiven and made new”

So many days I forget who I am.

I have no problem remembering who I was.

I look in the mirror and the scars are still there.

I can find things to wrap myself in every day.

Fear. Control. Anxiety. Shame.Pride. Jealousy. Noise. Busyness. Food.

We need people in our lives to remind us what we are called to be wrapped in.

Fully forgiven. Fully made new. Fully at the feet at the one who pours mercy over me.

Fully wrapped in Jesus.

Ring the Cowbell.

When I was younger I played softball. Geared out in the tight spandex and hot pink aluminum bat. I was more concerned with how my hair looked in the god awful hat I had to wear than my ERA. (Don’t be impressed that I know what that stands for, I grew up in a family that lived and breathed baseball. I even wanted to marry Mark Grace, but that is a whole other story). So there I was, an awkward preteen too tall for her spandex and too young for contacts trying to “fit in” with the athletes. Needless to say my athletic career as a softball player did not go far. Yet the memory I carry most vividly from those days on the dusty field are who was in the stands. My grandfather came to every game (that is the memory I want to keep) with his cowbell. Yes a cowbell. He was infamous at the local high school for bringing that same bell to the football games. He would ring it loud so everyone would know whose back he had. I knew without a doubt whether I caught the ball or struck out every time up at ba.t that bell would ring. People would stare in annoyance while others would cheer along with him. Either way I knew I mattered. That I was enough.

These past two years have been gut wrenching in the parenting department. When you find out from school officials that your beautiful girl has been mutilating her thighs under your own roof it opens a door of anguish you never knew you could feel. We later found it was because she was being bullied day in and day out. She didn’t want to bother us with it because we were also dealing with a newfound diagnosis of our youngest daughter. She took it upon herself to “feel” what she needed to feel. Knowing that we her parents were overwhelmed with doctors appointments all over the city and medication that never seemed to work, she in her middle school way thought she was “handling it”. And I as a mother knew in that moment sitting across from the school dean watching her show me my daughters deep wounds I knew that I had failed her. I had not been paying attention and listening to the cues she was giving.

That winter we decided after attempts at counselors who told her this was “normal” that perhaps we would take another angle at this. (Side note, do not EVER tell a grieving parent that their child carving themselves is NORMAL. If I would not have gotten in trouble or perhaps arrested I would have leapt across the therapist’s office and kicked her in the gut. I didn’t. But the mama bear in me wanted to). As parents we decided to call upon “our people”. The women in our lives that have stood in the gap for us on numerous occasions, because we all know it takes a village, and asked them for feedback and how to help her best. One of my very best friends SHOWED UP. She became her mentor. Pouring into her, listening to her, hearing her. She discovered that she had a talent for basketball and encouraged her to try playing. She met her where she was at and opened her eyes to more that was lying within. She took her to basketball games, fed her (cause we all know that is the key to a middle schoolers soul), and showed up. She showed up for her games, her injuries, her life. She showed up.

I think we are all called to be a people who SHOW UP.  To stand at the top of the bleaches and ring that cowbell the loudest. To be that teacher that shows up. To pour into that student that continues to act out. They are acting out because they need someone to show up. To be that student pastor that shows up to kids events. To cheer them on outside of the church walls. To enter into their mess of a life and say “ I am not leaving”. To be the friend that forgives lavishly and pours mercy over others like it’s the only way to live. To be the coach that shows up. To set aside your frustrations and expectations and believe that each child on your team deserves to know they are somebody. To be the parent that shows up when everything in you wants to hide and not listen to another “recorder” concert in your living room. To be the spouse that shows up and says no matter what I believe in “us”.

I think this is what Jesus taught us. To be people who show up. To be the ones who see the mess and still enter in. To know that we will probably get wounded and hurt but in the end it was worth it. It’s worth it knowing that the ones we are cheering for need it more than we need to be comfortable.

Because the world is loud and full of lies. It is full of bullies. Telling us we are not enough. Telling us that we can do things on our own. That we don’t need anyone else. That if we hide and handle it ourselves that somehow that makes us stronger. When in reality we are strongest when we show our mess to those we trust the most.

But you see, this is Jesus. He is a God of second chances. He is a God of hope and healing. He brought others in to our lives, so we could hear the cowbells again.

 

As a mom. As a wife. As a friend. Do not think I take for granted those of you in our lives that have “shown up”. You have shown up for my marriage. For my children. For our faith. And we are so grateful.