I begin this post with Dear Reader because it reminds me there is a flesh and blood someone on the other side of these words I hurl into cyberspace.
Where have I been, you ask?
This summer I did a lot of soul-searching and zero blogging. There was a fair amount of talk therapy splattered in there as well. I spent eight peaceful days alone in the woods contemplating my life and asking hard questions. I filled my journal with ink that told on my heart, revealing the conflict it contained.
Recently I had the joy of experiencing my two-year old grandson. His antics and adorableness make me grit my teeth in attempts at self-control. If given over to my impulses I would scoop him up and smother him with unending kisses. Though his tolerance for smothering gramma-affection has diminished, his desire for my undivided attention has not waned.
We spent the morning playing and at one point in the back yard he observed and commented, “It’s windy.” For a poetic moment he stared off David Thoreau-like and added, “I like the wind. It blows the hot off me.” I could eat that boy up!
Though I enjoyed the occasional wind that blew the hot off me this summer, I more needed the wind of God to blow the dust layer off my outlook.
I took a hard look at my identity, my relationships, my purpose, my heartaches and my dreams. I also questioned my blog. (Ask a couple of my friends and they’ll tell you this happens on a regular basis.)
If you’ve read Grace Grips before, you know I’m intentionally transparent because I think people are tired of pretense, idealism, glossy rhetoric and religious cliches. Don’t you just want a place where make-up is not required?
One of my goals for this blog has been to acknowledge and share the messiness of mucking out my honest-to-goodness-real-life with its searing imperfections, frequent failures and side-lining discouragements.
I talk about living with depression and anxiety and PTSD and the effects of childhood sexual abuse. I talk about my relationship with God and share the things He shows me. And though I’m real, it’s not my intention to offer a steady diet of wallow and whine so occasionally I highlight the celebratory moments when It is well with my soul!
I try to offer glimpses of Jesus in the midst of it all and illuminate the Grace that grips when I don’t feel I can hang on.
And, I just happen to think there are folks who benefit from some of this!
A couple weeks ago I listened to a new friend update me on her life. She’s a first-grade teacher taking a fully-loaded graduate course. All I could offer her in response was to say that I’m a stay-at-home grandmother operating in the self-termed ministry of availability–helping where I’m needed. I didn’t add: when I’m not stuck in depression that is.
While I cheered her, insecurity chided me.
Though I’m getting better, I’m a perpetual self-scolder. I tend to dismiss my dreams and habitually question my purpose. I work hard to push against the persistent voice of disqualification that has plagued me since childhood. I get lost between my feeling of not being enough and my fear of being too much. I stumble over my emotions. I get tripped up on the opinions of others. I fall flat when rejection jumps me. I wrestle with anxiety. I’m easily overwhelmed when two or more of these factors are present at the same time.
Mostly, I just can’t seem to keep a firm grip on who I am so I’m apt to look for clarification from others and wait in vain for permission to live my own life. And sometimes I isolate in a vacuum of self-effort while I attempt to work out a fix for my current version of broken.
One muggy August afternoon I whined to my therapist, “It’s like I keep taking courses but I never get the certificate and here I am at fifty-eight questioning my purpose and if I’ve wasted my life and where do I go from here…and I’m very, very tired.”
Pass the tissues, please!
The tissue-passer reminded me that I’m never going to arrive. Her reminder was analgesic. This side of the gates I’m never not going to be broken, flawed and in need of transformation. I’m never going to be fully qualified or completely equipped. “But that doesn’t mean,” she added, “that you stop putting yourself out there.”
So this summer I laid my heart before God and somewhere in my contemplative exploration God turned the questions on me:
Does who you think you are carry more weight than who I say you are?
Trust me, my only response to that was repentance.
As summer packed up for the year I had come to some conclusions. Most importantly I determined to identify myself as one dearly loved by God.
I am His chosen, uniquely created, intentionally-loved, perpetually-cared for recipient of unending Goodness, Mercy and Grace.
(Read that again, please, because it’s true of you as well!)
I decided to accept that His calling on my life is exactly that–His.
I determined to trust where He leads, no matter how seemingly incongruous the path.
I agreed to relinquish the outcomes of His initiations for and through me and to release my need to quantify their import or impact.
And I accepted, once again, the inescapable reality that I’m going to mess up and not everyone is going to like or agree with me.
Back to my blog. I’m going to keep at it even though it still scares me.
You might be a Grace Grip reader if you aren’t afraid of someone offering their vulnerable journey with Jesus through a messy life. My hope is to point to a life-simplifying relationship with God. In the process I hope to be relatable and to offer identification for those who think their struggles are unique and that they are alone. I want to inspire courage for those looking at and dealing with the hard stuff.
Thank you, friend, for hanging out with me.
And, by the way, by taking a moment to comment, you join the conversation and broaden the impact—not to mention inspire trepidatious me.
Grace and Peace!