Tag Archives: freedom

Day 31: Peace In My Time

The challenge was: blog every day for 31 days in October. I’m actually laughing thinking about it.

I knew it was a stretch. I knew my husband had not one, but two trips away this month. I knew I had a number of hospital days and appointments. I knew that I was barely making it through the days as it was, only to add another layer of complication. And all this sounds more and more like a recipe for disaster; one more overachieving pipe dream to add to my “Reasons-I’m-a-Giant-Failure” diatribe whenever emotion overwhelms reason.

But it actually helped.

All 16 out of 31 days that I actually succeeded, and even the other six posts I started but never finished.

I told my stories. I put thoughts and hopes and confessions into black and white and sent them out into the world. Somehow those parts of my life make a little more sense to me after that. I suspect it’s the magic behind talk therapy, sympathetic pastors and bar tenders, and the best in-case-of-a-rainy-day friendships.

It’s important to feel the feelings, even the ugly ones… especially the ugly ones. To parse our own words, finding some amount of meaning and purpose in every experience. To be heard and see the reflection of our thinking in another.

A commentor raised some good questions about the nature of anger a couple weeks ago. My friend made the point that anger itself is healthy and possibly necessary. The counselor I saw yesterday poked the same spot.

Could it be that the emotions and the experiences I label as ugly are simply human? Unpleasant, maybe. Difficult, for sure. But not the enemy. Why do I default to a binary interpretation of the world? As if I must filter everything I feel, everything I am, into good or bad.

Maybe life isn’t full of monsters after all. Not even the messy, scary, hard things… Maybe this is just life. God knows I’ve spent a lot of time and energy trying, trying, trying. I’m no more or less: loved, and acceptable, and the person I should be, for it. The verse keeps coming to mind: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free…” (Gal 5:1). Freedom. A free life.

It’s time for me to stop battling every little thing and just live. That’s what I’ve learned this past month. Battling life’s monsters has become living freely.

Finding the beauty. Pressing into pain. Giving myself permission to struggle, and fail, and try again. Giving other people permission too. Hoping for the best. Forgiving. Deepening faith. Letting go.

The monsters aren’t so scary after all.

Except for cancer. Cancer can still kiss my ass.

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The “F” Word

It’s a bad word. I get after my kids for using it. So I should definitely know better, but I can’t seem to stop myself from using it. I don’t often say it out loud, at least, not so anyone can hear. Nevertheless, it is frequently used vocabulary in my internal dialogue.

Failure.

It’s my personal kryptonite. I recently organized a large event for the church where I work. I worked with some amazing people and the evening was a huge success. But even weeks later I can give you a long list of my failures. Small things that no one even noticed. Problems that may very well exist only in my mind.

Last night I organized another event and it also went remarkably well. Yet the same mantra is playing in my head… a list of all the little things that went wrong and that F word over and over again.

It could be that birth order phenomenon – I am the oldest and hold myself to impossible standards, wanting to control things that I can’t possibly predict. It’s a twisted form of pride (all insecurity is). I don’t expect as much from others as I do myself.

Perhaps it is temperament. I am conscientious and responsible. I am detail-oriented and task-focused. According to Myers-Briggs, I am INFJ, which is psycho-babble for “perfectionist control-freak”.

Maybe it’s my religious up-bringing. Plymouth Brethren (think semi-Amish city folk) can give the Catholics and the Jews a run for their money in the guilt department. My parents were definitely moving towards a faith of grace and forgiveness when I was a child, but I seem to have picked up the self-flagellating attitude somewhere along the way. Jonathan Edwards wrote a very famous (and in my opinion quite horrible) sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”. For me a scarier title would have been “Sinners in the Hands of a Disapproving God”.

When I made my very first foray into therapy, I was sure I knew which problems I needed to discuss. A gifted and insightful counselor knew different. About halfway through our second session, he looked me in the eye and said, “God is not disappointed in you.” I burst into tears and proceeded to blubber for the rest of the hour. After crying all the way home, it occurred to me that this may in fact be the real issue.

The God I picture in my head isn’t nearly as good as the real thing.

There is therefore, now, no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1).

No condemnation. No disappointed sighs. No disgusted eye rolls.

When I keep reading that same chapter of the bible it is clear that in God’s eyes I am not a failure. He made sure of it. It says:

I am free.

I am a beloved daughter.

I am forgiven.

I have purpose.

I am loved no matter what.

I am more than a conqueror!

And suddenly it doesn’t really matter that I miscounted the RSVP list and couldn’t figure out the coffee maker. Beating myself up over silly details does seem profane when I remember who I truly am and the God who made me. I make mistakes. I screw up. I may even fail from time to time. But I am not a failure. So bring on the cheesy affirmations; the “F” word has got to go.

So here’s me, and doggonnit, people like me!


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