Hard work

I’m tired. I haven’t written in a while. Haven’t really exercised in a while, or risen early to spend time alone in a quiet house with my thoughts or my God. I’ve eaten too much sugar and haven’t stretched my crooked back in a yoga class… but boy, have I exercised my mind. I’ve been doing some really hard work. Therapy and reading will do that for your brain. 

As I sat (online) with my therapist this week and explored the pain of my past, I told her I was just tired. The thoughts we resurfaced made me feel yuck and they were hard, but my brain was tired of holding on to them and it was time to let go. She encouraged me to write about our time so here it is. 

During session, I saw powerful images as we used a practice called EMDR, a technique which allows the brain to remember and let go of what it’s held onto for so long.

I saw a knife cutting the umbilical cords of my 3 boys, the ones I like to keep close and I might add, control. Especially the oldest. He was the sickest and bonds are formed when you rock sick babies. Bonds that may be too strong and need loosening, maybe even severing.

I saw all the years of my dad’s illness, and me trying to save him, in my twenties and thirties, again the control and misplaced bonds and roles. I remembered my younger self trying to control outcomes that didn’t belong to me. 

Then, thankfully, I saw me and my Jesus sitting and watching a movie, the movie of my boys’ life. It was nice to just watch and be available if needed, but to let the Savior write and play the movie as he wished. I was able to watch with Him and not direct every next move. 

How nice that is, to not direct the next move, but to be surprised by what He has in store for them and for me and for others. Surprise, it’s my word for the year. I wonder what all it will entail. Surprise can only come with not knowing though. Am I willing to not know? That’s where I get stuck a lot.  Not knowing is where God and I wrestle. 

Not knowing has taken shape in my life with health concerns for some reason. These all surfaced in my mind during the EMDR session like popcorn… My dad’s illnesses when I was a little girl and then a college student, lastly as a young mom. Never knowing if he would make it, if he would come home or play ball in the yard with us again. Then my first born’s chronic sickness when he couldn’t eat and had a crooked foot and tilted head. Seizures and possible surgery and a feeding tube kept us on edge. And even now some health concerns that haven’t been resolved. And lastly, my own health crisis after the last baby came. He gasped for breath every night, there was more talk of surgery and new doctors, then dad was dying and then we moved homes. 200 blood tests and 2 MRIs with no results. No one knew why I was dizzy and couldn’t remember words and would drop things all while barely getting out of bed…. We discovered my hormones and adrenals had shut down from all the unknowing, all the trying to make things better so I could feel safe in the world and in my skin. Hypervigilance my therapist called it: an enhanced state of sensory activity accompanied by exaggerated intensity. It may bring about increased anxiety that leads to exhaustion. The brain is always at work, scanning for the next problem or a way out. The brain, trying to manage the unknown, instability in the world…

Things seem to be calming down though. Through EMDR, good talk  therapy, reading, yoga, long walks, time in scripture and journaling I’ve noticed my mind more at ease lately.  I don’t yell as much, I am able to be more present, and curious about what I’m feeling instead of afraid of my thoughts…

But the unknown, we are working on our relationship. I think we need to be at peace with each other, having an understanding that we are both held by God. The unknown has no authority over me and I cannot control any outcome as I don’t weld that much power, so we can sit side by side without me crumbling or fighting or fixing….

Surprise is tucked inside the unknown and you can’t have one without the other. 

Trust allows the unknown to take its shape and write the stories in the world that so badly need to be written. Trust lets God be God and lets me take my rightful place as the excited observer. Trust also lets my brain rest  and release more and more of what it’s held onto to protect me. 

So be it. That’s what I’m telling myself these days. My therapist asked me to find a mantra  that brings me back and centers things when my claws of control resurface. So be it. Let God do what he wants to do in the life of my boys and in my health and in this world. And let pain and brokenness come and complete their perfect work because suffering brings us to our knees and closer to completion.  

The beautiful stories He writes don’t need an editor and I’m not really fit for the job and I really don’t know or want that burden. So be it. I pray I can watch with Him all he wants to unfold and only step in if he directs me….

So thank you to my therapist for pushing me and never judging me in these dark spaces. Thank you to my brain for all your hard work these years. You are a problem solver and so resourceful. Thank you to my body for holding out as long as you did and for showing up and wanting the right, safe result. Thank you to my God who made our bodies and brains to heal. Thank you to that part of me that controls to keep everyone safe. You can take a rest now and let God write the stories. He is better at it anyway…..

Re-Post: Redemption

I am re-posting in honor of trauma awareness month:

I saw something really beautiful happen today. An old, hurt place in my heart was brought back to life and I heard God whisper, “I can redeem all things.” I sit down most Wednesdays to write, and I knew he wanted me to write about redemption, to be redeemed.

To Redeem: to gain or regain possession of something in exchange for payment, to fulfill or carry out a promise, to compensate for the bad aspects of something, to buy back or recover, to obtain the release of or restoration of

Redemption is not just a saving from sin. It’s Christ going back to those places that were destroyed or wounded and regaining possession of them, recovering and restoring them.

I have these college buddies who have an amazing house flipping business. The wife sent me before pictures of a home they renovated. It had trash in every room that was four feet deep. They went in with masks and bags and began their redemptive work. Several dumpsters were parked out front to collect all the garbage. I was able to physically see the finished home one afternoon. It was such a peaceful home, with a beautiful front window that shown light through the whole house. My friend told me the window was original to the home. Most everything else had to be reconstructed but the window stayed. I sent her a message stating that their business was like the business of Christ, restoring things, redeeming things so the light can shine through.

When thinking on redemption today, I remembered Rahab. We find her story in Joshua 2. It is a fascinating story, one worth your time to read. Rahab is a prostitute living in the city walls of Jerico. Jerico is on the route of the Israelites path to the Promised Land. The Israelites are wanting to know about the enemy in the land ahead of them, so they send 2 spies to check things out. These 2 spies gather information from Rahab. She puts her life in danger by hiding them, giving them information, and lying to the authorities about their whereabouts. We later see that because of her courage, she and her family are spared in battle. The great story of redemption here is in Rahab’s legacy. We find in Matthew 1:5 that Rahab’s courage spared God’s people and she married and became the great grandmother of King David. We know our Redeemer, Jesus, came from the lineage of King David.

So we see that out of a woman, who entertained many dark things, came redemption.

In reading Rahab’s story, I realized that her home and the Jordan River were both on the path to the Israelite’s Promised Land.

Commentaries state that the Jordan River has very swampy conditions, 27 rapids, intense heat, and wild animals causing it to have no traffic. The Jordan was up to ½ mile wide in some areas and from 5-10 feet deep during flood stage, when the Israelites needed to cross. Joshua 3 tells the story of God parting the waters so the Israelites can pass through.

So we see that out of a river, full of dark things, came redemption.

As I think on the Jordan River, I imagine it was a wild, overlooked, and mostly avoided place. Maybe a little like Rahab’s home?

Can I compare Rahab to the Jordan River for a minute? I know that she was probably avoided (except by broken men), lonely, and overlooked because of her occupation. The Jordan had no visiters and was avoided because of it’s muddy conditions, heat and wild animals. Do you see it? What irony? God used a broken, worn out woman to rescue his chosen people and prepare the way for his son. God used a swampy, uninhabitable river as passage for his children and to baptize his precious son in before he sent him into ministry. God redeems things, people and places that no one else wants to use.

No one would place a perfect, royal baby in a dirty barn, but God did.

No one would choose a murderer to spread his precious gospel across the world, but God did.

No one would birth his chosen people through a barren woman and her old husband, but God did.

No one would sit and have dinner with the dirty, shame-filled sinners but God did.

No one would get baptized in dirty, muddy, insect and gator filled water, but God did.

No one would use a prostitute to bring forth a king, but God did.

No one…But God.

God is in the business of redeeming things. He redeemed this wild river to save his people. He redeemed this broken woman to save his people. He will redeem anything to save his people.

Rahab and the Jordan River were both on the path to the Israelites freedom, the Promised Land. They were both on the path that led to the Messiah, the Redeemer.

What wild, broken, lonely place is on the path to your Promised Land? Your freedom? Your Redemption?

What does God want to redeem in you? He can redeem anything. I can see it in my own life. Places I thought were too far gone, that would never change. Places that were too dark, too overlooked. He looked right into them and breathed life. He rescued them, redeemed them.

Psalm 107 is a hymn of redemption.

Psalm 107:2 “Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story- those he redeemed from the hands of the foe.”

Here is what I saw today in Psalms 107:

The actions/response of God’s children                               The actions/response of God

They were wandering in the wastelands He gathered them from distant lands
They could not settle down He settled them
They were hungry and thirsty, losing their life He satisfied their hunger and thirst
They cried out to God He delivered them from their distress
They sat in darkness, prisoners in chains He brought them out of darkness

and broke their chains

They were tossed by the sea He stilled the storm to a whisper
They cried out He answered them in their distress
They were broken He turned parched ground into flowing springs

Psalm 107:43 “Ponder the loving deeds of the Lord.”

He is whispering, “I can redeem all things.”