Monthly Archives: February 2011

this *love* thing

I’m touched by the comments to Tuesday’s post. Some of you are walking the very same journey I am, and it means so much to know you are out there. As I was reading and responding to the comments this morning, I began thinking more about this *love* thing and how radically love has changed my life.

Marriage has been a source of healing love in my life. Even as we stumble and love each other so very poorly some days, Steve makes it a habit to fight for me, believe in me, support me, and know me. Even on the days when I want to scream out terrible expletives in his direction and throw heavy objects across the room and slam doors dramatically, I know that we share something important. Something that continues to heal us both.

Another way that I have been changed by love is through my Growth Group. We meet once a week, and we talk. I know this is really controversial. A group of nine women sitting around talking and calling it “GROWTH.” But I will tell you that this group has meant more to me than just about anything I’ve ever been a part of. I believe that’s because I feel a deep sense of love, acceptance, and belonging in the presence of these women–a love that comes from Christ himself.

I have a few other women, in addition to my group, who have this incredible capacity to love me . . . women who are beautiful and broken and who are sharing their journey with me, every step of the way.

Sometimes we underestimate the power of these radical forces in our lives and we fall into the trap that studying and/or discussing with someone is more important – more holy, even – than listening to them work out their salvation with fear and trembling. How incredibly empowering it is to bring woundedness, brokenness, fear, shame, doubt, indecision, unhealthy behavior and habits etc to another human and be met with love and grace.

This changes people. I’ve seen it. And it has changed me.

Where do you experience belonging? Who is a manifestation of Christ in your life? What scares you about entering into this kind of relationship with people (because it’s not always simply easy breezy)?

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Emotional Bulimia and Chili by Candlelight

Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and work and reading on the subject of emotional health. It’s a topic I’ve always tended toward but have really devoured since becoming a mother two years ago. Motherhood has ushered in this very complicated array of significant emotions, most of which I’m still trying to sort out. (If you’re feeling “complicated” about motherhood, you are not alone.)

A couple months ago, a friend gave me an article entitled, “I Suffered From ‘Emotional Bulimia’ Until I Learned to Accept Love.” I’ve read the thing like 14 times.

What I’m realizing is that, no matter what we use to dull the discomfort of life—alcohol or drugs or food or work or Twitter or approval or sex or shopping or piety or perfectionism or (fill in the blank for yourself, if you dare)—we pretty much all have that same gaping hole inside us, a soul longing, that is looking to be filled up.

How we choose to fill the hole (by virtue or by vice) directly reflects our emotional sobriety.

The emotional bulimia article got me thinking about how I nourish myself and if my nourishment comes from healthy places or if I rely on the binging and purging cycle of approval-seeking (shoving it down my throat as fast as I can take it in) and striving (working relentlessly to prove my worth).

Brene Brown (one of my new favorites) says emotional sobriety all comes down to one thing: “How much we know and understand ourselves is critically important, but there is something that is even more essential . . . loving ourselves.”

And, of course, I would add: there is something even more essential. Realizing that the power to love and accept ourselves in not something we can just drum up from somewhere inside us. We love because he first loved us. We need the transformational love of Christ in order to muster this kind of radical love for ourselves.

Ultimately, all this is about taking a step toward the present moment and all that it holds (namely, all my complicated emotions) instead of doing anything and everything possible to numb out.

The toxicity of shame invites me (just about every day) to believe that I am failing, that most people are doing better than I am, that I am destined to live a life of regret, that I am wasting these precious days (a sentiment that never fails to create this panicked urgency inside me). In fact, I spent the better part of yesterday walking around in this urgent haze, wishing away so much of the present, hog-tied by those crippling toxic voices.

Like an alcoholic with a bottle, I can do everything in my power to try to drown out those voices (though, in my experience, they just start yelling louder).

OR, I can sit down and be still and do the difficult task of accepting God’s love for me even as those voices would like to tell me otherwise. Sometimes, like yesterday, it’s the simple act of acknowledging and accepting the stress I’m feeling (because, after all, I’m human) and inviting God into the big mess of my internal world. Something like: God, I realize it’s OK to feel stressed given all of these circumstances. Help me to accept and love myself even though I don’t feel great right now. And, God, if it’s at all possible, please create some space for joy to sneak in.

We spent dusk (my favorite time of day) at Presidio Park with lattes in hand and kids running in the mud. Joy arrived somewhere in the middle of all that. I’m not sure how or when. And after the kids went to bed, we made chili in the kitchen . . . by candlelight. And, like a medication, the joy nourished that soul longing inside me. Virtuously.

Today, it all starts over again. The choice is mine: nourish the toxic voices or nourish myself. God, I need you.

I’d love to know . . . How do you battle the toxic voices?

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A Pirate and a Gypsy

Waiting is hard.

Steve and I are waiting for our next set of orders with the Navy. Nothing is official until you have those papers in hand, so we’re waiting.

Lots of scenarios.

Lots of maybes.

Lots of there’s a chance you might be . . .

But, the reality is, we’re waiting. Waiting for our life to change, probably. Waiting for our life to stay the same, maybe. Trying to hold emotional space for all possibilities. Trying to name desires and, at the same time, relinquish the outcome. This is pure work for me.

Waiting is a complete release of control. That’s probably what makes it so hard. We have to sit still without any real power, any real choice, other than the option to do the work of waiting well.

The pent up energy of wanting to hold orders in my hand – have it all down in writing – makes me want to do something, anything. But doing anything at this point is really wasted energy. So I’m invited to do what I don’t naturally do well: just keep breathing and let things unfold. Practically impossible, really.

In the midst of waiting, I’m processing what I want for my kids, my marriage, myself.

Isn’t it strange that wrapped up in the same human being is both the intense longing to settle, put down roots, nest, claim a place AND the wild longing to run toward adventure, risk, unknown, change, journey?

My Pirate and I may be headed for the high seas . . . the gypsy in me is dazzled. The housewife in me is scared.

No matter, we wait. The hardest and the holiest work.

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