Sunday, March 24, 2013

Something More Subtle Than Energy

“This is something more subtle than energy.

You can’t think your way to the heart.  The heart works by obedience.  Obedience is not knuckling under.  It comes from the Latin Ob Audire, “to listen deeply.”  The heart is the compass needle that always pulls North.  The heart tugs.  You begin to feel your heart pulling you.  So you can tell when you are on and off by a certain quality of aliveness.  As that pull to centre gets stronger so you are more reliably able to follow your true trajectory. “

-Cynthia Bourgeault 

I am afraid of my heart.

Like with every other area of my life, I walk a fine line between order and chaos. I have learned to toe both sides ever so gently in hopes of keeping my balance. Sometimes I jump to one side or the other just to see how it feels. Does the fire still burn?

My heart is a liar.

Loneliness settles in and my heart wants a lover.
Anger rages and my heart wants to defend.
Pride flares up and my heart won’t repent.
Bitterness poisons and my heart won’t let it go.

Yet, there is something else that flows through my veins,
a breeze,
a stream,
leading somewhere deeper than I can touch.
A whisper.
A caress.

“Delight yourself in the Lord,”
it says.
Fill yourself on His sweetness,
meditate on His goodness,
seek His beauty,
rest in His hands.
and only then,
“He will give you the desires of your heart.”
Psalm 37:4

Friday, March 22, 2013

An Untitled Rough Draft

He whispered to me softly,
"Silence is a gift."
I may have missed
the means for the end,
waiting silently for my reward,
that delicate touch,
that still small voice,
when all along
the silence
was the answer
to the questions
I never spoke,
choking them back
because the words come out so messy sometimes
like a rogue fingerpainting
on the white bedroom wall,
like the human condition,
like men and women and love and heartbreak.
I want to scream threats
into the silence
just to say I tried,
but I'd be lying if I said
breaking the silence
made it any better,
made my heart mend any faster,
brought me clarity any quicker.
The thoughts race
like semis on the runaway truck ramps,
placed strategically
where the damage would be most severe
if they veered off into that ravine
or chasm.
Veer right is only good advice
when you're headed to the ditch on the left,
otherwise they're just directions,
like math word problems I never could solve,
or a recipe I never got the hang of
no matter how many times I tried.
In the silence
these anxious thoughts sound louder than before,
nothing else to drown them out,
except the beating of my own arrhythmic heart,
which sounds strangely like the dryer
on the other side of the bedroom wall.
Maybe my heart is just a replica of man made machinery,
breaking down just as often,
needing costly repair work,
on the verge of simply giving out. 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Lessons From a Recovering Codependent

We're all recovering from something. 

I spent most of my teenage and young adult years saying "yes" to every destructive person and action in my life.

I'm sure somewhere in there it stems from "daddy" issues. Ya know, my dad being perfect and me never living up to the role, trying to somehow fit into a mold I never fit into, flinging myself into the opposite direction instead, accepting every bad thing into my life because there was never a chance of being perfect. Why try?

I never learned how to say "no" to negative things and people in my life. Instead, I learned how to manipulate, how to make people fall in love with me, how to keep boys interested, how to be the girl each one wanted me to be. I learned how to fit into new molds, and because I was afraid of my significant other leaving me, I would bend to their every whim, destroying myself in the process. Hello codependency.

Of course, when this way of living nearly drove me to madness, God intervened and asked, "Are you ready for me to take these burdens you've been trying to carry? Are you ready to give it up?"

I was tired. I was broken. I was ready. I let go.

So now what happens? I still don't know how to say "no." You want to run a ministry? Yes. You want to be in charge of this event? Yes. You want to lead? Yes. You want to fix this boy so he can be the one God has for you? Yes. You want to pick this person up because they're stupid drunk? Yes. You want to help every person in every situation and be the savior? Yes.


I ran on my own strength.
I led in my own power.
I tried to save, to take the place of the God who saved me.

Lately, there has been a lot of talk among my friends and I about boundaries.

It was after I was burning out on ministry and trying to save everyone that I actually took a class called "Boundaries." It seems silly to take a class that teaches how to have appropriate boundaries, but no one teaches us these things. Especially when it comes to dating relationships within the Church.

Ya wanna know how dating works in the Church? Make a young adult group, throw men and women in there, let them start hitting on each other, and BOOM, you've got a hodgepodge of insecure, codependent people focused on finding a mate rather than finding and serving God. And that's how it usually works. Then, no one really knows how to date in a healthy way, so what happens? Guys and gals spill their hurts and emotions to one another, console one another, feel for one another, get emotionally intimate, start feeling like this person is my best friend, we'll hang out alone together because we feel that is safe because we're so emotionally close, then maybe we start sleeping together because that's the obvious next step, then maybe we move in together, or if we're too afraid of what people may say, we keep it under wraps and get defensive when our friends say something about it being unhealthy. And our mutual codependency eats at us because we are wrapped up in each other instead of God.

Story of my life.

I never realized that spilling my heart out to a guy was more intimate for me than sex.

"Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it." Proverbs 4:23

Guarding my heart and guarding someone else's means not being intimate in any way until we've made a commitment to each other. Guarding my heart means I don't spend time alone with a guy, I don't tell him the heart issues I struggle with, I don't spill out my past hurts and history to him, I don't look to him to fix me.  I don't allow him to spill out his heart to me, I don't try to fix him, I don't allow him to start looking to me instead of God for his comfort and security. I keep my interactions with men public, because anything I have to say to a man should be able to be said publicly. I need accountability. I need women and married couples in my life to keep me accountable for my actions and my words with men. As soon as I think I don't need accountability, I will get myself in trouble and I will overstep those healthy boundaries God has created for me.

I told my friend recently that the only reason I would ever get married is because I had found someone I could serve God better with than without. Shouldn't that be the only reason to marry?

I need healthy boundaries when it comes to friendships so I do not try to fix my friends, or to save them from unhealthy situations. I am no savior. I need to come alongside my friends, help them carry their burdens to the Cross to lay them at the feet of the One who can save and heal them.

I need healthy boundaries when it comes to ministry. If I am in it to save people or pluck them from their situations, I am not in it for the right reasons. I should be in ministry to bring the light of God to them, to allow God to heal them, and to let God work in the situation, especially if that means me getting out of the way.

I cannot save broken people. Because I could not, and cannot, save myself. I know from experience that my brokenness is only healed by God, by His Spirit at work in me and in those around me. I cannot fix anyone. But I can point people in the direction of the Son. I can say "no" to my habits of trying to give everything to everyone, trying to fix and heal them. I can acknowledge my inadequacies, knowing I do not have the tools or skills to help people in certain situations, but I can pray and I can join with other people who have those skills, being part of the Body of Christ to ministry to those who need it.

God gave us boundaries to keep us in healthy relationship with Him and with those around us. It has taken me years to come to this point, and I am still learning.

I am learning that my healing comes from God and from other women in my life.
I have learned that I can say "no" to destructive things in my life.
I have learned that I can say "no" to good things in my life when I know God wants me to wait for the best.
I am learning that I am no savior, but I can encourage and give advice in healthy ways.

I have learned, and continue to learn, that my identity is not wrapped up in men, ministry, lifestyle, words, or actions.

My identity is in God alone, in my Love Jesus, in God's Spirit who lives and works in me.

And because I love her, and she has a tendency to put my thoughts into words, here's my favorite song by Miss Ani Difranco:

"I am not a pretty girl,
that is not what I do,
I aint no damsel in distress,
and I don't need to be rescued,
so put me down, punk,
wouldn't you prefer a maiden fair?
Isn't there a kitten stuck up a tree somewhere?"

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

In Every Angle is A Photograph Not Taken

In every angle, there is a photograph not taken.
I try to live in those angles,
the forgotten moments,
the mundane.

"Be extraordinary," says my yogi friend.
Do ordinary things extraordinarily and watch what happens.

"We don't need to do great things, only small things with great love," said Mother Teresa.

I remember those cold days, when our noses were full of chocolate powder as we prepared ten gallons of steaming hot chocolate for cold men and women who, on the streets, had lost most of the warmth they once had.

I remember sweaty summer days when we felt like we were inches from the sun, when we saw sun scorched bodies and dry, cracked lips desperate for a drink of the cold water we offered.

I remember Charles, the homeless man who gave me a dollar, who yelled at me when I tried to refuse, "This is the money God gave me and I can do what I want with it and I wanna give it to you because you care!"

I remember Cowboy, my beloved sidekick whose dreams included traveling America on horseback with a rifle at his side, and getting churches together to open their doors at night to bed-less men and women.

I remember the smiles, and the stories, and the beautiful blessings.

I remember how exhausted I became, pouring myself out, 
never missing a week in two years, rain or shine, 30 degrees or 120.

I remember never sitting still to be filled with God's Spirit,
to listen to His direction,
to hear Him whisper,
"I love you. That is enough."

I remember the last day of The Bagel Ministry. I remember how Cowboy cried and hugged my shoulders. I remember not caring that this was the end. I was tired. I was burned out on "ministry." I felt I couldn't do it anymore.

It wasn't until recently that I discovered why I burned out.

My roots had not grown deep enough. I had not learned to sit in the Presence of God and just BE with Him instead of always DOING for Him. I had to become the woman He wanted me to BE, not just do the things He wanted me to do. And I had to learn that God was not speaking to everyone else in the same ways He was speaking to me, and He was not using people in the same ways He was using me. I had to learn diversity. I had to let God's Spirit lead. I had to learn to follow, to obey, to be humble. I had to learn to live in the tension between the profane and the sacred. I had to learn to be love in the midst of human relationships.

I had to learn that human relationships are complicated and messy, and sometimes the only offering of peace and solidarity we can muster is a smile.

What a life long journey of lessons I have begun.