The only thing you need in 2017

We’re 84 hours, three practices, two games, and one grocery trip in.  Hello 2017, so far I’ve been pretty happy to meet you.

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I’m a little surprised, but I haven’t had a moment yet.

You know the one I’m talking about right?

The one where  a small person needs a highly specified version of a black t-shirt?  This child then yanks every other black t-shirt from the clean holding pile on the top shelf to the dirty dump pile on the floor, but mom I’ve looked everywhere and I can’t find it, so you stick your head in the top loader and fillet a wad of wet black shirts, none of them with the right letters, only to stick your hand in the front loader, wishing you’d grabbed  an oven mitt, coming up empty again make your way to a tall basket boasting a stench that would put a Continental Soldier on the first ship back to Great Britain and at that exact moment, you learn a miracle unlike any other has taken place in the bedroom of this very child.

What was lost has been found.

What was wrong has been made right.

What was dead now has life.

The child has found his crumpled-up, inside-out shirt on the floor right underneath yesterday’s Reese wrapper and it wasn’t even under there the first time I looked, I promise!

!!Listen!!  I haven’t had this kind of a moment all year.

What I have had is a couple of slower days to try ’17 on for size and I think she’s gonna fit.

The last few years have felt a little like my pinky toe is roasting on a spit over an open flame.

I mean one can function with a burned pinky toe if one thinks about it.

You simply make sure the toe is not actively on fire, slap some gauze around the seared flesh, dig up some sort of a clunky boot to give it  room to swell and keep moving.  Honestly, you can get along quite well even if your toe is roasted daily,  it is kind of a hassle though to lug around a big boot  and changing the dressing several times a day can be exhausting. While I’ve broken my little piggy  so often I experience occasional electrical jolts that make him go wee, wee, wee, he’s never been burned to my knowledge.

Imagine what it would feel like, though, to nurse a raw toe day and night.  It’s  similar to the kind of simmering that’s gone on in my soul.  The last couple of days though, I’ve taken a personal inventory of sorts and have been surprised to find that my appendages are not on fire and not even a one is overly pink.

Now maybe this is because it’s only January 4, a Wednesday, and no one was early or late to school today.  Maybe it’s because I chose to say  no to a fast holiday season.  Maybe it’s just because I’m not exhausted from lining a landfill with diapers like I was 8 years ago, or maybe it’s because I’ve spent the last few years working through some deep personal healing and I can finally see through to the other side.

The more I learn about myself, the way God shaped my heart and wired my brain, the way he made my hands to create and my soul to feel things so deeply I often feel paralyzed, I’m realizing that there is so much I haven’t understood about the human experience.

I believe that we can live out of our spirituality and  faith to an extent that hijacks our humanity.  What I mean is that when the answer to every  hurt and every question is God, sometimes we can forget that he created us to take part in the story that he’s written on our hearts.  Your experience may be different, but it’s not hard for me to believe that God is in control of everything, what’s hard for me is to believe is that he has given a good portion of control to me as well.  Not so I can run my life off a cliff, hoping that a holy parachute catches me on the way down but so I can work in tandem with him as I live and move and have my being.

Those are the type of thoughts I’ve been sorting through for the last few years.

When I first began to share my writing, I joined some other writers in posting for an entire month and titled the series 31 Days of Growing Up.  Three years later I’m beginning to feel as though I’ve fully transitioned to my big-girl panties.  Last weekend in a group thread, I mentioned to a friend who’s  working through some rough issues that at this rate, we’ll be ready for granny-panties soon.

I think what I’ve learned most over the last three years is that God has given me the ability to stand back and begin to validate some of the harder stories in my life in much the same way he’s been validating them all along.  The result is that I’m more confident and resilient than  ever  because he’s allowed me to see my life truthfully, just as he sees it.

I’ve screwed some relationships up and I’ve been very successful in others.  I’ve made some right choices and  made some not-so-hot choices, right.  Usually, when it’s all over but the shoutin’, I listen for the feel of his feathered voice fanning my soul but sometimes, I’ve looked him straight in the eye like a child catching the eye of her mama while she thump, thump, thumps the forbidden object under her fingertips.  Every choices carries consequences that carry weight but the great thing about choosing to trust God is that he shoulders the heavy lifting even when we picked out the largest log in the forest.

It’s not that the hard things in my life have disappeared.  They haven’t.  In fact, 2017 could end up being harder than the last three combined, none of us know. But in my messy little life with a capital M, here’s what’s happened.  Joy.

Joy has happened.

Specifically, because I’ve chosen Joy,  Joy has chosen me.

You can choose it too if you want, right this minute.  You don’t need special tools or a black bottom line.  You might be sleeping  on your mama’s sofa or dining in DC.  You could be heading to prison next week (and plenty of us live in prisons of our own making) but you can choose Joy now. Next week, I’ll tell you more about how I made my decision.    Join me next Thursday  for a story of Joy.

 

You won’t want to miss the Joy Stories coming in the next few weeks. I’ll make sure they float right into your inbox if you…..

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  • click the one that says email
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How to know if you’re cursing yourself

Have you ever had a conversation with someone and walked away a completely different person?

Yesterday, a friend and I shared some salty tears via Verizon.  One of us needed it pretty badly.  One of us needed to be reminded of her purpose.  One of us got clotheslined this week (again) and one of us can’t ever seem to  remember that silence is her Kryptonite.

That would be me.

Kathleen and I have spent years learning how to use fewer words to communicate more.  Our babies were babies when we began talking regularly.  She’s  always lived an hour away, so the amount of time we’ve spent face to face over the last 15 years  has consisted mostly of drive-bys to trade maternity clothes and all sizes of jerseys, jackets, and cleats. She went back to work several years ago and I’ve expanded my studio hours so between businesses and running our children to all manner of child-like activities, our talks are fewer and further between.

I won’t lie, its not my favorite. I can be an umbilical cord sort of friend though so it’s good for me to learn to say truer things with fewer words. These days when we talk, every word carries weight and yesterday we covered big successes (she’s in line for a promotion very soon and I’m so proud of her), some sad situations, and then we prayed.  Honestly, I wanted her to pray and I planned to follow with a  faint “what she said” and call it church.  Something deep within me though, the shadow of hope that sits in my gut maybe, began pushing upward.  It took work and belief and real vulnerability to sit with my friend in complete brokenness before God and offer the sacrifice of my smothered, breathy words.

Powerful shifts in the atmosphere happen when we pray with friends who share our theology of the Holy Spirit.  Let me say that again.

Powerful shifts in the atmosphere happen when we pray with friends who share our theology of the Holy Spirit

So, when the words made it to my mouth in halted, whispered phrases, it wasn’t long before I could think clearly again.  Within a few minutes, while reminding God who he is and what he does, I started to remember who I am and who he created me to be.

One of the reasons I love Kath is because she reminds me who I am by linking arms with me instead of pointing fingers or pulling on my hands.   Though she’s wired to be an encourager she doesn’t shirk away from pain.

Sometimes, I believe pit-of-hell lies that undermine my calling and I don’t even realize it’s happening.  In these moments, I sell short belief in my Destiny and therefore, my belief in God. She lives out of her own Destiny though and when I simply cannot take one more step or say one more word, she knows how to lean into my pain in a way that propels me forward. It’s as if we’re standing back to back while she gently throws the weight of her belief against  my paralytic self.  She’s wired with the ability to move people forward while their feet are planted in intricately, etched concrete.  

No thank you, I’m not going any further, I’ve reached the end of the road and shall stay here.  Just throw me a high pile blanket, some markers to color the concrete and I’ll be fine.  No worries, I’ll bathe in my tears, I’ve heard saltwater is good for the skin.  

When the amens had been said, I had already begun to feel peaceful rush that follows invisible spiritual work.  The Holy Spirit does the heavy lifting, but something in the way this  trust-walk works must begin with me and my big mouth.  When I chose to speak life instead of curses, when I chose to believe with my mouth true things about the God and Father of my soul, magic began to happen.

I felt better.

I saw clearer.

The world was lighter.

And I began to remember,  I was made for this life I’m living.   Purpose is discovered as a result  of acting as if the bible is true.   Whether we feel our purpose, see our purpose, or can define our purpose right away, it doesn’t matter.  What matters is that when we believe what God says in the bible.  What matters is that we speak it with our mouth.  Because when our lives don’t go the way we thought they would, speaking truth with our mouths restores goodness and purpose and hope.  And magic happens, soul renewal right here in The Land of the Living.  

One of the places I find most joy is connecting with other women, listening for ragged edges of brokenness they’re encountering  and then feeling the brush with God that comes when we share our hardest stories.  That might sound like some kind of twisted way to find joy, but if you’ve experienced it,  you’re nodding your head right now because you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Sharing with other people means opening my mouth and speaking, so when Kathleen Voxed me this short sentence just a few minutes after we got off the phone, words that had been lodged in my chest for days, began to break free.

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If Satan can keep you silent, he’s winning.

I’m motivated by winning.  It’s just true.  Sometimes it can be destructive to my relationships but when it comes to throwing down with evil?  I’m all over it!!  These words instantly became my battle cry as the holy spirit blew through my soul and filled up my lungs.  Bring it baby, mama got things to say today and she gonna use you to do it.  

The story isn’t quite over and someday I’ll tell you what happened a few hours later.  But even though I don’t know exactly what’s next  in my pursuit to use my gifts, you can bet  in a couple of weeks, the same struggle with silence will resurface.  When it happens I will remind God of who he is, and be reminded of who I am and you may here me shout from over here on Carmelita Blvd.

 

Lord, I will give thanks to you with all my heart.
I will tell about all the wonderful things you have done.                                                 

                                                                           Psalm 9:1

 

If you haven’t met my friend Kathleen, would you pop on over to her place and say hello?  You can also find her over here on the FB.  Believe me, you want to know this one!  She’s a wealth of information about all things oily and has been on a Young Living journey for much more than a decade.  I’m not gonna lie, I used to think she was sniffing too much of the stuff.  But then, life and kids and injuries and an insurance crisis and THEN she gave me an oil, White Angelica, to help with my mood.  As  I began to use it religiously, a sort of  Land of the Living self-care began to intersect with spiritual mercies that are new every single morning I have a long way to go on my wellness journey, but I can say without one hesitation that using oils regularly is helping to repair broken places in my soul, rewire my thinking and provide my family with alternative health treatments.

I’m shamelessly trying to help Kathleen with her promotion today.  She has until midnight to meet her goal. Here are a couple of links if you’d like to check them out.

Link to order a starter kit. ***the best of oily introductions

Link to tell you all about White Angelica.  If you have questions, comment below and I’ll try to answer them.

Link to learn more about how essential oils work.

Now Just a couple of more fun things.  If you’re interested in learning more about discovering your God-Given Destiny.  Check out Dave Rod from Grace Church 146th in  the video here.  Or here.  Or here.  

 

When being in love is hard

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I can’t tell you who she was, I don’t remember her name or her face or anything about her.  We could have been in the salon washing hair side by side or studying in the library at college.  She might have been a friend, though given my shortage in those days, I doubt it.  Maybe she spoke from behind the curved glass framed by the TV we bought at H.H. Gregg early in our marriage.  In the end, it doesn’t really matter who she was.

I heard her talk for a few minutes about her faith, about being in love with Jesus and while I understood the words she spoke, the concept seemed almost incestuous to me.  “In love with Jesus,” my stomach churned at the thought.   If I believed what I claimed, I knew it was something I should feel at least primitively but I remember being repelled at the thought and then angry.  This woman, whoever she was, had the audacity to talk about the God, the Creator of heaven and earth in a way so intimate, I recoiled at the thought.

This morning, I finished a book, Choose and Choose Again, by Kevin Butcher.  In it, Kevin tells stories, incredible testimonies about how God’s Love can transform our lives and compel us to follow him.  Whether you grew up surround by folks of faith or not, likely you’re familiar with the concept, but real life application can be complicated.

Every day, we have a choice to believe God loves us.  I believe each of our daily lives, how we interact with our families, the activities we engage in, even the way we manage our finances reflect that choice.

It sounds easy enough doesn’t it?

Not so long ago,  I had painful, white-knuckle faith.  Though I would have told you otherwise, my choices and emotional responses to life reflected a disbelief in the goodness of God.  Often, I felt stuck or worse, trapped by my circumstances.   I compensated by controlling what I could, well-behaved children, a clean home, meeting all the needs, of everyone, that crossed my path, forever and ever, til death do us part, or I track you down in eternity, amen.

For the most part, I worked my faith by encouraging other women.  IRemembering birthdays and anniversaries of loss, phone calls and lunches, and generally working to be what everyone around me needed, what I was really trying to do was prove my worth to God and the entire free world.   I’d been told that if they saw Jesus in me, they’d be compelled to want more of what I had.  Here’s the thing though, while Jesus was in me,  nothing I possessed on the inside or was attempting to live out in my daily life, felt easy or grace-filled or full of relief as a result of knowing Jesus.  I can say with certainty that no one would want the kind of faith I possessed at that time.

When I began to process challenging experiences in my life, my emotional resources were quickly depleted and I was unable to hold onto my faith quite so tightly.  It was during this time, that I began to realize I desired a deeper faith and that my understanding of Jesus was basically intellectual.

My white-knuckled faith was keeping me disconnected from my heart, the place where Jesus wanted me to be most alive.    I didn’t recognize my heart, I wondered why other people felt things I didn’t seem to feel, much less understand.   Only my closest friends knew I was kind, but many others  experienced the freeze from my frozen, protective shell, birthed out of a disconnection between what I believed and how I felt.

In 1998, I experienced a devastating miscarriage which marked the beginning of the end of  my “work it Marcy” faith.  Though I understood none of this at the time, that year, I began the journey to connect with my heart.

Excavating the heart can be some scary business.  It’s mysterious.  Sometimes she’s been buried so deep and hidden so carefully we can only recognize her physical nudges.  She causes our hearts to race or  and our thoughts to circle,  sometimes she gives us pictures of her isolation through our dreams.  Maybe she pricks our eyes unexpectedly with undefined tears.  No matter how she speaks to us we can be certain of one thing.  We have a choice to let her surface and begin sorting through her beautiful, complex menagerie or we can wipe the evidence of her away as we silence her opportunity to teach us hope and joy, often through the center of very broken places.  While we have a choice to begin letting her have a voice or not, we muddle God’s redemptive story within us when we side-step our brokenness.  The result is white-knuckle faith.

If I would have read Kevin’s book in 1998 I would have teared up through some of the heartbreaking stories he tells but told you that the only brokenness I’d experienced was the loss of my first child.  I would have told you that any pain I might be experiencing was that of my own doing.  I’d have spoken of stubbornness and unforgiveness in some difficult relationships and then I would have gone on to tell you there was nothing really hard about my childhood, I didn’t have one of those sad stories where Jesus heroed in and rescued me.  You would have heard me say “I only need to…..If I would just…….I know that if I…..” and any number of things that we ‘good’ christian girls say.  You would have heard me accept responsibility for every challenging aspect of my marriage and my work and with each word you could have looked down at my hands and seen my knuckles becoming whiter.

In many ways, it’s easier to be responsible for our own faith, or at least it was for me.  It helped me make sense of him, feel like I had a handle on his choices.  After all, if I can blame my disappointment  or my “one thing” on myself, if I’m expected to hold up my end of the bargain, then it’s up to me to fix things.  Do the right thing, say the right thing, pack up and move to the right place, Then God will hold up his end of the bargain.  It keeps me powerful and God disposable.

If I’ve learned anything in the last decade, it’s that God is not who I thought he was. He’s more and he’s less, bigger and smaller, stronger and sweeter, faster and slower, in other words, he is to my right and my left, both above and below me, he hems me in behind and before, the darkness is not dark to him and the night is light as day. (My paraphrase Ps. 139)  It is for those things today that I am thankful.

 

P.S.  I can’t tell you how much i hope you run right over to Amazon and pick up Kevin’s book. Today it’s listed right around the bargain price of $8.00 and I popped in a link at the bottom.  Kevin is a phenomenal story teller and if you ever have the opportunity to meet him?  Ask him about the time I was a baby and he threw me up in the air.  Let’s just say he was one tall teenager and neither the ceiling or my head fared too well.  Good memories, right there!

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How to survive disappointment

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Writing is some lonely work. Lately, I’d rather clean wet dog food out of my turquoise Dyson than write. This could be because I’m in  a six-week writing class, to which I say bring on all the tasks I can’t force myself to do in my ‘real’ job.  Business card design, scrubbing a trashcan lined with bleachy foils and padded with six inches of hair,  prying hardened facial wax off from every surface in my studio with my pinky nail but do not, Do Not, force me to sit down on my new computer, bought for the purpose of writing in my writing class, and actually write.

A friend asked me this morning why I’m not writing and I’m ashamed to say I had some pretty lame answers mostly adding up  to I Don’t Know.  For the last couple of years I’ve been talking to a guy that I pay to help me keep my head on straight (if you don’t have one of those, I recommend you find one), he doesn’t accept the  answer  “I don’t know.’  “It’s lazy,” he says. “I don’t believe you, I think you do know.”  I give him money to frustrate me and help me unearth from deep within, my true beliefs, my core confessions, the things I tell myself in a steady stream of affirmation and degradation, more or less equal parts depending on the day.  The truth is that it sucks to wrestle with life and living and God.  No wait, that’s the politically correct, nice-girl, go-to answer, but it’s not necessarily the truth of what I feel.

The truth hiding behind my nice answer is that it sucks to not get what you desperately want.

Do you know the thing I’m talking about? That one last thing, if you could only clean up one teensy tiny little detail in your reality, one dream in your heart that still hasn’t found a home in the daylight. That thing that threatens to overshadow every other detail of your life.  That one.  It stinks not to get it, or rid yourself of it, or have it fixed, or even fix it yourself because not having to deal with that red-hot thing would make every other detail in your life, sunny and 65.

I have teenagers living in my house. Daily, they deal with answers they don’t like.  Boundaries they’d rather blow through.  In fact, yesterday it seemed as if one of them was willing to wire themselves to an electric fence, sacrificing their very life in attempt to make it to the other side of the lines I’d drawn.

It got ugly for a long bit. Hobby Lobby, Walgreens, the doctor, every mile in-between the tension was building and with each turn on the odometer, more opportunities were presented from this litigator.  They were waiting for me to step off my game and give them the argument they wanted.  This one has been a student of my weakness since their birth.

While the fury was still blazing in my van yesterday, I found myself identifying with the fuming kid in the passenger seat.

As a compliant child  growing up, the reason I didn’t break rules was because I was terrified of the consequences.  Early on, I found that my missteps resulted in swift and sometimes disproportionate reactions and the over correction isolated me.  It came with intense emotion and unintended separation.  The sad thing is that the desired outcome, character strength, backfired and resulted in shame.  I still dance with some of these same tendencies, but I’ve grown as a parent and more importantly, as a living breathing soul, a human being, so scenes with my kids mostly don’t trigger me like they used to.   But  I remembered what it feels like to be the chid.

When the worst of it was over, I sat in the car alone for a few minutes processing my own emotions.  I’m not gonna lie, when the kid told me I was “the worst most controlling mother ever” followed by a few direct accusations, shame threatened to creep back in.  Every day it’s a struggle to keep that emotion from paralyzing me but  I realized that I had remained calm, connected and unswayed during the entire scene.  Sadly, this hasn’t always been the case.

It’s a price we have to pay as parents, a denial to indulge our emotions.  We have to sacrifice our own childishness.  I’m the grown-up  and though I’m in control of many aspects of my life, I can identify with this kid, more than they have any idea.  I’m smacking up against a hard wall that I’d expected would be demolished by now.  It’s my one thing. and believe me, I’ve taken a jack hammer and tried to smash it, gathered grime under my fingernails as I clawed at it.  I’ve even whittled my own shiv and tried to tunnel my way through solid concrete one teaspoon of dust at a time.  I’ve begged and bargained thinking that one of these days, God would take care of it once and for all.   For as long as I can remember, I’ve expected a ‘save the day’ sort of moment.  Like Ronald Reagan, eyes burrowing into  the camera, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall,” I’ve been staring straight into the hole of heaven trying to work a deal.

In my twenties, I was sure there didn’t have to be a wall in my life.  I had decided that I’d do life right the first time.   What I learned was that doing it right the first time is a myth.  I used to believe that God had a ‘best’ for our lives. I don’t believe that any more.  I believe that we live in such a messed up world and we’re presented with hundreds of choices every day. God has a lot of things he says about how we should live but he also gives us opportunities with absolutely no right answer.  More, in fact, than I’d ever imagined.  As a result, I’ve realized that life is more about becoming truthful to who we’ve been created to be than it is about doing the right thing. We can do the right thing and not be completely ourselves but we cannot be completely ourselves and not do the right thing.

If I tried to do it right fresh into adulthood, I decided in my thirties I would simply fix everything that was wrong.  Rebuild what was broken.  Replace what didn’t function.  I restarted and redoubled and recounted and recalled and relayed.  All strategies and techniques I unearthed in order to keep my disappointing wall from becoming my future.

Then, I turned forty and you know what I found out?  Every single one of us have the same wall.  I call mine disappointment but you might call yours anxiety.  Mine is something I live with but yours might be something you live without.  Mine might be bigger than yours but maybe someday yours will get knocked down.  Maybe there’s a new wall behind it.  In fact, I think you can count on it.

I’ve put a fight in my forties, digging through another layer of unhealthy thinking and working hard to get to truthful layers of myself.  There’s a reason we’re told  it requires pain and suffering to work out our salvation. Choosing to think true thoughts can feel like a full-time job and living in a way that reflects the truth of my soul requires overtime.  Because as I’ve stood within the ugliest parts of myself and begun to do the hard work of digging out, I’ve realized that my life’s work is dismantling the wall within my own soul.  Just last week, I asked another friend just how holy  is a body supposed to become down here.  I was angry about my disappointment and what feels like a near-constant struggle to navigate around it.  As I was throwing the equivalent of a teenage tantrum, I heard God within myself…..

Holier than you were yesterday.

More broken than you were yesterday.

More healed than you were yesterday.

More loving than you were yesterday.

More forgiving than you were yesterday.

More honest than you were yesterday.

 

When Christmas isn’t what you’d hoped

Christmas is here. Today. Tomorrow.

I can’t seem to tuck away the dog-eared pages of my own story this year; smooth, crease and hide them back in Luke 5 or better, the obscurity of Jude while adoring the cherubic Christ and his romanticized parents. It’s just not happening. The pressure to create lovely and my ability to do it in years that looked harder than this one seems to snear at every effort from my heart and hand at settling into a season of hope and joy.   I’ve never wanted it to be over more than I do this year.

Wonder crept back into my life three years ago and I can remember where I was standing when I realized it wasn’t just for children. The weary world rejoiced and hope seemed to explode from every twinkling light on the tree.

Our new puppy chewed the power out of a strand or two of lights on the lower limbs of the tree and and the top of that tree shines on. I’ll do the same today, in fact I’m going to go light a candle and start singing with Bing right now.

I’ll frost a few remaining cookies with my kids and iron the wrinkles out of their good clothes. It’ll be fine. It always is. But I can’t pretend that it feels fine any more than we shouldn’t pretend that the stable was sanitized and romantic. It wasn’t.

Nichole Nordeman wrote a song that speaks to the futility I’ve felt in cleaning up my Christmas feelings this year. If the stable and the people in it were really real, I want to be too.

 

Nichole Nordeman Real

 

When Thankfulness Runs Out

I am caught today in a  dark ink pool of my privilege while blessings, too many to count, stain my ungrateful heart.

Thankfulness precedes the blessing and I am both blessed and un-thankful.

My heart wants heaven on earth and translucent understanding. Someone to share with as we separate threads of  pure thankfulness knotted within dark disappointment  and spun completely over with the Perfect Love that was born into humanity.

I look for connection and when I find it run furiously.

I am sure of my belief in the Son that came from God. The Son that gives life to hard cynical souls and I hear my screaming angry echo when I choose politics over love, choose right over love, choose alone over love.

My thoughts curve with love the instant before they veer hard left, straight toward victimization.

Friends pray and I can feel their faith, the way they know the names of my silent tears.

Strengthened, as I share without words.

 

 

 

Because I said so

In this space of electronic invisibility,  I’m looking for the place I fit in this world, maybe not so different than the refugees landing on all sorts of shores this week.

Learning to find a voice. My voice.

NT Wright refers to the voice within us that cries for justice and beauty, the echo of a voice.  He’s referring to the voice of our Creator resonating within each of us,

individually,

collectively,

simultaneously.

Sometimes, I still think the voice I hear is my own and try to silence it’s call to greatness. But the call to join with something bigger than myself, something higher, the call to greatness being birthed in me isn’t a vain desire to make a name for myself, though vanity whispers to us all.

This mandate with which we have all been created, to reflect the one who created us, when we follow the holy echo of that call, something beautiful and intricately unique happens inside us.

We discover our own voice.

It’s challenging for me to leave out qualifiers in my writing but  I’m learning.

I remember a time in the middle of my fourth decade.  My children were small and I was working out by process of elimination, what kind of parent I wanted to become. At the same time, my paradigm of faith was shifting and every last plank in the floorboard of my relationships had started to warp around the edges.

In those exhausting lonely days, there wasn’t much of anything I knew for sure.

I believed God was interested in every area of my life and loved me in  a way I couldn’t begin to feel yet; I also believed, knew actually, that my children needed so much more than I was equipped to give them.

The majority of statements I made in those days were cushioned with qualifiers.

I don’t really know but…..

I think…..or it seems to me…….

I wonder if you might ever consider…..

It’s only my opinion…..

To complicate that mess more was the fact that I was sure I had the answer to any question asked in the course of ever.

(Interestingly enough, at this same time, I was working hard to please and placate people for whom I would never be enough and ignoring relationships with the ones for whom I am everything at this point, my children.)

If you happened to be one of those who listened to my rambling  nonsense please accept my deepest apology for nothing specifically and everything in general.  I wanted you to think I knew it all but was insecure enough to think that who you were, what you were created to do and be in this life posed a direct threat to who I was. As if of our existences were mutually exclusive.

I didn’t know it yet, but  I was qualifying my  existence to my own self.  I desperately wanted my outside ‘knows’ to match up with the ancient echo in my soul and I didn’t understand yet that the eternity set in my heart could never be explained by what I knew, or what I could point to, or what I could read, or what I could convince you of.

And also?   I wanted you to nod your head and tell me…

Yes, I know.

Yes, I understand you.

Yes I see you.

Yes, you are something, someone unique and you have your very own voice.  

When I hear hashtags of  qualifiers today, I recognize my thirty-something self and feel so much compassion for both the person I’m speaking with and that poor girl inside me who was such a mess. On my better days, I practice showing them with the compassion that I wish I’d had for my own self back then.

As I learn  to say big-girl words with no qualifiers here, with you, I’m feeling stronger and safer.  I’m finding new confidence in understanding Truth both inside myself and in the world simply because I said so.

Maybe you are too.