For the day your identity quits working for you

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Today is a day of naked and unashamed.  A stripping down, wiping off, laying aside sort of day. Demands for time have, again, out-lasted my reserves and I can’t figure out how to get in front of it all or just on top of it for one tiny minute and just when I think I might; well, life.

I know too well the cycle in my own life of picking up, putting on, and parading about in my own plans and identities before tossing them right back onto the floor.

It’s the kind of dance we do in front of our closets in the fall, when the weather changes with the hour hand.

Sometimes I feel like what I write in this place is a pronouncement of my next failure because I’m eager to share the ideas I’m processing right now, in real time.  But then life happens and sometimes the stories aren’t mine to share but they still  deeply color my soul and leave me looking again for the sound of my voice.   Sometimes I don’t even recognize my own voice when I hear it.

Do you know what I’m talking about?  When life changes faster than you can inhale?

When you drop to the ground, gravel stuck deep in your knees and you’re forcing air out of your lungs just so they don’t explode.  Sometimes we have to remind ourselves to breathe.

When you  count through the pain because really, it’s been a mess for too long and surely there’s not much left to save, but you must.keep.breathing.  Sometimes our choice to keep going is a lifeline for someone else.  

When the beauty of the fall harvest is shadowed by the latest crisis and you’re taking care of e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g because that’s what you always do, but you keep hearing that sound.  You wonder what it is.

Days go by as you put one weary foot in front of the other and you wake up one morning and realize, it’s crying. Someone’s crying.  And then you realize, it’s you.   Sometimes we walk through life so numb that we don’t recognize the sound of our own cries.

There are days when death grips life fiercely, the moment of a diagnosis or divorce decree or the disorientation of watching a child deal with disappointment and feeling for the love of all things adolescent, that you just can’t peel your own disappointment apart from theirs.

Maybe there hasn’t been a moment for you.  Maybe, it’s been  thousands of moments when hope fights for breath but deep inside you know it’s a loosing battle. You just can’t face it yet, but you know if you sit really still and you’re really honest?  You know there’s a day coming that you won’t be able to hold it all together.  You also know that once the lid’s off from that mess?  You’ll never get it back on.

Our lives change on dimes and in decades and we’re all left standing, at some point, in front of a closet packed with possibility, decisions and  disappointments piled at our feet. We never know what a day will bring and that’s why it feels risky to write here, but it’s good for me because it keeps me evaluating the level of truth I’m feeding into my own soul.

I know my own tendency to live unaware of the life playing out in front of me as I choose pleasant subtitles for some of the uglier unfinished scenes in my life.  Scenes that force me to face fear, loss of control, shame.

 

Pain will happen, we just don’t have one little say in that.  But we do get to choose what we do with it. We have the choice to allow it to strengthen us, make us wise,  and bind us to other people as we share what hurts the most in life; or we can push it down, ignore it and remain blind to the ache of life that is humanity.

I’ve had to learn to ask God to help me know what’s  real in my life. On the heels of that prayer is the one where I ask for help knowing what comes next.  It’s been a radically different way to pray, to live. The pain is absolutely still there but it’s easier to see my way through it.

It’s not my job to fix it for my disappointed kid.  I get to help my children learn how to get through life.  I hope I’m teaching them that sometimes God fixes things for us and sometimes he walks through things  with us.

I’m not responsible for filling in gaps in a one-sided relationships. Several are in the process of changing right now and some have died off but you know what?  God has brought me fulfilling new ones  as I’ve learned to rest the weight of who I am on him, instead of them.

It’s not my job to keep all the plates spinning anymore.  They’re dropping one by one, but it’s not undoing me.  In fact, I’m becoming more  me than ever  as I  purpose to use my time intentionally.

Pain wraps its way around hope as we strengthen  our identity  in Christ.  Then,  the most amazing thing happens.  Hope begins to incubate.   It grow and settles into the deepest parts of us, shoving out piles of shame. And after we stretch reaching to open the new doors in front of us,  once we’re strong enough, we throw out ill-fitting identities and find new ones more comfortable than we ever thought possible.

 

For the day when confusion freezes momentum

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It’s a day I’d like to get away from myself for just a few minutes.  It seems I’m irreparably broken and while I don’t believe the lie that everyone else isn’t, they seem to be more accomplished at filling in the cracks.

These are the feelings that rush in after days heavy with fruitfulness.  I drip the purpose of who I am, conversation after connection after commitment and am understandably empty.

Seems I can cycle pouring, retreating, refilling, only so many times before the next fissure appears.

I wonder why I can’t be content to stand still in my soul while marching ahead in cadence, and why the forward movement always comes with a price higher than the last.

The marchers look accomplished with full cups and pots and there doesn’t seem to be a unit small enough to measure what my soul manages to squeeze out.

Weary from a day of comparison, I want to get away from my needy-self.

But apparently, I am always with me.

So, I refocus, dive in to all I am not to become more of all I am.

We have to speak truth, with a voice of conviction, into the small places where we are the most frail in order to hush the voice winnowing through our humanity.

 

Those very small  moments of frailty allow us to reach into the tiny crack in another’s heart specifically because of our brokenness.  

Today, when momentum is frozen by the confusion of comparison, I remember the recent moments when I’ve held hearts and shared tears and choose to tell myself true things and let the beat of his heart mark my time.

Jeremiah 31:3   I have loved you with an everlasting love.

Psalm 34:18  I am close to the brokenhearted and save those who are crushed in spirit.

II Corinthians 12:10  For when I am weak, then I am strong

 

What are you searching for?

The search for true and honest is on.

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I’m listening for the ping of the truth detector and more often than not, it’s silent.

When I hear it, just for a moment, there’s sweet relief.

Connection, a sigh, and calm silences my hot soul.

A phone call, the question ragged and needy.  An exchange,  the smallest notch in the belt of relationship.

Trolling in my own head, the ache of need and desire to be known follows hard, stalking my sleep, steering my thoughts, leading me away from the healing.

Who do you think you are? 

Look at the mess!

Just what do you have to say.

Bawdy accusation, a silent squeeze, and the fist of fear chokes out my words.   I walk numb through the day and I numb through the night because the honesty is just out of my reach.

There are moments and glimpses of genuine. They fade so quickly I wonder if they’re figments and I question my ability to know honesty when I see it.

Where are the truth-seekers and will I ever be whole enough to travel with them?

Would I fill my heart with the happy of clinking glasses if I found them?

Would I be satisfied with the bread of laughter and call off the search?

Not-enoughs travel from my hair to my hips, from paint to parties and I’m always looking over my shoulder wondering what comes next.

There are moments I know I don’t want truth.  It’s simply too much to handle.  But authentic is like crack for a cracked soul and once you’ve touched it, or rather, it touches you, there is no way to unsee, to unfeel, to unknow.

I put the skin of words on these silent, raw foundations in my soul.  The click of the keys mocks the art that I’m certain I was born to create and I pound on, one ping closer.

 

Amber Haines started a powerful conversation this week over at The Run A Muck. I’ve been writing lately in fits and snippets and haven’t been making enough sense to post here, but her thoughts fueled my words today.  You’ve been warned, once you read her words, you can’t unknow.

I’m linking to her most recent post here. You’ll find links on that page to the first two posts in her series. Start at the beginning and dare to let her words hook the honesty in your own soul.  

Come back here and let me know what you think?

Falling apart for the sake of Real.

She feels things very deeply.  My daughter was about four months old when a friend offered un-tethered perspective to the escalation of her newish-born cries and my inability to soothe them.

It would be a long time before I gained perspective on my own feelings buried deep.

Five hundred and nineteen months before my cries reached a fevered pitch that slowed into mournful acceptance.

When the only thing you ever feel is anger…….

          Always anger

          Only Anger

          Only all-the-time anger

You forget that there’s anything else to feel.

Or, maybe you never knew in the first place.

you have to keep breaking

After five hundred and nineteen months. The tiniest tip of a needle reached through a hairline crack in the armor of my heart.  I was surprised to find it beating behind barricades of anger and deep disappointment.

I guarded it closely.

I had no idea that a shattered heart could be so sacred, hold such hope.

Can you cherish heartbreak?

Can the very poison you’ve quarantined  for 43 years be the medicine that heals?

When you’ve spent your whole life looking for something that you thought didn’t exist, and you find it? You take a lesson from Mary.

She  treasured all those things in her heart.   I treasured discovering mine for the first time.

There were tears and songs and  moments of sweet sadness I’d never felt before.  Because when you’re heart cracks and spills out all over, you finally feel alive.

And when you’re heart breaks for the first time, you discover there is intrinsic value in your soul.  A value separate from serving, attending, giving and loving.  A value disconnected from any action verb at all.  A value that rests solely on your state of being.

When it’s just you and your powdered heart and the God who created the precious thing in the first place, you’d be a fool not to store up that treasure.

 

you are valuable and loved simply because you are

So  I wrapped myself up in the hurt.I wasn’t hiding or wallowing,  I was finally feeling.

I honored my heart by giving it the space it needed. There were few reasons to go out there, and so I didn’t.

I found out that I could love my family better while expecting  less of myself.

I found out I had never before believed myself worthy of heartbreak, only worthy of spinning porcelain plates.

Forever laboring and twirling and somersaulting and jumping to  keep the plates spinning. All day, all night, fingers stretched a little higher to keep it all together.

But when the feel of Real reached down between the cracks of shame, it was finally time let the Lenox shatter.

The people pleasing.

The nodding at others.

The nodding  in the mirror.

The smile because that’s what you do while you’re dying on the inside.

It was finally time to let the whole thing crash and crumble too the ground  so that the powdered  parts of a real heart soaked with tears could begin to be molded, to take a different shape.

I sat in quiet. Listened to  music. Gave myself permission to feel in the absence of words that I didn’t bother to uncover.

I found that when you’re alone with your heart for the first time, the merciless need to explain yourself falls right to the floor.  It was the first time in five hundred and nineteen months that I didn’t need to give, or receive a nod.

When you’re introduced to yourself  for the first time, you finally feel understood.

 

The ways that our hearts can be broken are endless.    Have you ever treasured a broken heart?