SLIDER

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Loving Can Hurt Sometimes



Last week I had a cardiac ablation. Wires were taken through my groin up into my veins and then to my heart to burn out unnecessary tissue that had been causing me to frequently have an irregular heart rhythm. In the days leading up to the procedure, it took everything in me not to hit up google and seek out the risks associated with it. Because with every medical decision made to hopefully improve the quality of your life, there comes a list of risks and almost every one of those lists ends with 'stroke or death.'

But isn't that the way it should be? I mean as far as the human existence goes, we should be compelled to have a better 'quality of life' about us, should we not? Just living it and managing a physical heart rhythm isn't enough. There needs to be more than just breath.

Still the only true and real thing that boosts the quality of our lives is LOVE. Love is our reason for  existing. It's the precise reason for our being alive. Our goal is to love the Lord God, love others, love ourselves. If we don't have love, we are nothing. Remember that?

Be that as it may...love hurts. Although it’s true that a higher quality of life is embodied in love, it can feel risky. Because of the incredible depth of it, there is always that chance that on the other side of love... is pain. And the fear of pain...or ample experience with it...can hold us back from having a genuinely rewarding existence from here on out.
The many facets and types of love can leave us feeling jaded or even battered depending on our exact situation. Parents may have mistreated us. Friends may have back stabbed us. Relatives may have abused us. Our child may have fallen ill. A spouse may have cheated on us. A boyfriend/girlfriend may have left us. A church friend may have talked about us. A leader may have failed us. A loved one may have passed away too soon. A trusted person may have abandoned or betrayed us.

Any of these situations and the plethora of others you may have experienced can leave you feeling afraid to really love again.

Why take the risk? It hurts too bad. We don't like to be hurt. We don't like how people make us feel.  We don't like when people leave us too soon. We don't like to feel disappointed...or worse, completely broken.. So why lay everything on the line to love people if it's only going to leave you wounded? Intentionally or unintentionally.

These past few years have been hard for me. People I loved died. People I loved got sick. People I loved talked. People I loved walked away. Everything in me wanted to shut down. It felt like too much. I didn't want to love anymore. It felt too unreliable. The moment I felt some certainty  was the moment I'd feel myself sink and my heart ache all over again.
I didn't want to allow love while the pain that resulted from it threatened to wear me down. Over and over, I'd say no more. No more to letting my guard down. My heart had become too fragile.

But that would mean I'm just existing. Breathe in. Breathe out. Day after day. Year after year.
I would barely survive. I would become numb to the beauty around me.
There would be no real quality to my life and the quantity of my days would feel like an eternity.
I would never grow or learn anything.  I would never laugh with someone, or cry for that matter...
I would never feel amazing. I would never feel much at all.
Or at least I would tell myself that.

That is not the life we are built for. This time here on this earth is not for us to hold back and guard ourselves. But rather to continue to stretch and to pour into others, even if there are risks involved. True there may be no certainty in love as far as who, what, when and how much of a 'return' you'll receive on your investment into another human being, if anything.

But that doesn't mean we just stop.

Understand this... we are here for a purpose.
Utilizing the LOVE that is instilled in all of us makes all the difference in the overall quality of our lives. We are not here to be alone and die never giving our best to someone else. We need to do more than just breathe. We are here for that child. that friend, that parent, that sibling, that significant other. We're even capable of loving strangers. People do it all the time.

Despite our misgivings, bad experiences and our fears. We are capable of choosing love over it all.



Loving can hurt. Loving can hurt sometimes.
But it's the only thing that I know
When it gets hard, you know it can get hard sometimes
It is the only thing that makes us feel alive


Loving can heal, loving can mend your soul
And it's the only thing that I know, 
I swear it will get easier
Remember that with every piece of you
and it's the only thing we take with us when we die

Ed Sheeran- Lyrics to Photograph








Sunday, October 21, 2018

The Weakness In Me



I've learned to be quiet.
I've learned to hide.
I've learned to smile, in spite of...

Yet somehow it hasn't helped me. Not really. It may have temporarily distorted how people perceive me.
But eventually I will be found out. My reputation is on the line.

And even if I'm not exposed, doesn't God already know?

Being a person of faith has at times made me afraid to admit when I'm weak.
Because if I admit it, it must mean I permit it.
If I admit it, it must mean I am not strong in faith.
If I admit it, it must mean that something is wrong with me.
And if I can't be the superhero that everyone needs me to be, then I have nothing to offer.

Wrong.

I fail. I struggle. I flounder.
Yet somehow when you say that, people will still want to believe that your distress just sort of fell in your lap. Because it's easier to be somebody's cheerleader when you believe they were just an innocent bystander unwavering in their faith and obedience when suddenly their life went askew without warning. Bad things happen to good people perhaps?

And even though it's not completely effortless, somehow it does seem easier to tell you that I've wrestled with things like rejection and depression. I've battled feelings of inadequacy as a mother or being a weak link or I'm lazy and unmotivated or sicker than I ought to be most days. Because most everyone can admit those seasons are woven into the tapestry of their life.

But who out there is ready to admit they struggle with the big stuff? I remember sitting in church years ago and we had a guest speaker who was speaking on freedom from the chains that hold us captive. As he was speaking, he said something like "Some people are dealing with a pornography addiction." And this man yells out, "That's me!"
Alcoholism--That's me! Lust--That's me! Gambling addiction--That's me! Drug abuse--That's me! You get the idea. He just kept going. Everyone in the room just sort of looked from side to side wondering what do we do? Do we giggle? Do we shut him up? Do we just side-eye each other and pretend he didn't just go there??! ---But while the situation made it slightly awkward for everyone else in the room, I can't help but think he had the right idea. Gaaahhh!!! Don't throw your stones at me just yet.

Because friends. My imperfections don't just stop at depression and allowing myself to be sicker than I care to admit (although some people can't even admit that). I grapple with the big things too. I'm not unlike you. Those words that make everyone uncomfortable and no one wants to admit. Yes, I've been there.
I mean- I. Have. Been. like...... There.
Is that okay? We still good?

However, in my admitted weakness and despite whatever person is giving me the side-eye, my faith remains unaffected.

Because when did it become taboo to admit we need Jesus in our weakness?
When did it become off limits to confess our shortcomings?
When did we start frowning on people whose struggles were found out, meanwhile we contend with our own?

"Therefore I will most gladly boast about my weakness, so that the power of Christ may reside in me." (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Our fake smile. Our hidden struggle. Our zipped lip.
That is not true freedom. Not even for a second.
In fact it's the opposite- with a pretty tight lid to keep you there.
Freedom is not found in a put on, pretense or phony front.

It is found in our willingness to admit we need Jesus.
And in our declaration that He alone is our strength.


Sunday, September 2, 2018

Uncomfortable Comfort



Life has changed. Over the past few years, fragments of my life have been uprooted and what has replaced it is hardly recognizable. Not necessarily bad, just different to what I once knew. Locations, people, even day to day routines have all readjusted themselves and I'm still trying to find my place in it all.

I'm a suppressor. I tend to avoid difficult conversation. Although I 'talk' in my online spaces a lot about the things on my heart, my confidence lacks when I feel uncomfortable and confused. I'd rather not talk about something that makes me sort of churn and question everything on the inside. I wouldn't say that I completely sidestep discomfort, but I deal in my own way. Because it is what it is when change happens to you. All you can do is deal. Pray. And move on with your life.

I sort of shift back and forth between this place of  dodging everything I might feel if I think about it too hard, but also just wanting to just get it over with and progress with my life.

In general, I think just dealing with it is better, because once I do, there is no longer this giant elephant looming over that space in my mind. But for a long time, I hide out in my own thoughts playing hide and seek with my emotions. I just don't want to go there...until one day, I do. It's time to rip off the band aid.

And there it is. Change. That awkward revision of our lives.

Although things may appear somewhat distorted, I remain assured that everything will be okay. Because isn't it usually? I mean, yes, it affects us, it attempts to break us for a season if it's a hard thing, but it also makes us stronger. It gives us experience that we would have otherwise not had. This commonly unwelcome metamorphosis has the ability to fill an otherwise dull story with significance. Life goes deeper than just the day to day, 9-5 and repeat. It means more when we feel more. And when we allow ourselves to feel that sort of shock that comes along with change, suddenly we can somehow appreciate it and realize it's only a chapter in our story. An intense one perhaps, yes, but our story continues nevertheless. This time with more determination and heart.

Along with all the big and small changes happening in my world over these past few years, changes within me are happening as well. I've more recently stumbled upon fresh motivation to do more of what I love. 

Because if I don't do that, what am I doing here with my time here on this planet? Why shouldn't we do more than dream? Why shouldn't we make better use of what has been placed deep within us- without feeling guilty? Isn't there a single spot or two in our week where we can celebrate who we truly are, beyond our daily routine?

Change feels ugly much of the time. It makes me nervous and feel sort of cringy. (You can thank my kids for my vocabulary.) But hidden deeper I know peace. I know assurance. I know truth. Even after all the crazy, hard, wonderful and unexpected things that have been thrown at me, I am still standing. And because of that, my trust remains in the Prince of Peace.

So instead of hiding out from the uncomfortable feelings, I will face them. I will allow myself to feel them, but not sulk in them and let them derail everything I know. And I won't be afraid. Rather I will hand them over to God. And I am comforted knowing my heart is not defined by the changes surrounding me, but more so by the changes within me. My life is not less because of change, but rather more because I know more. And I've become skillful in handling new things, hard things, better things with the grace that's been supplied to me. 

And as a result of this, I remain comfortable with being uncomfortable occasionally. For when I am weak, He is strong through me.


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