Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Dealing with disappointment

sunset at city pond
In the back of my head for several years now I have felt the need to address this, to make it real through writing, and most importantly to allow the thought that comes with writing it all out to help process through the different experiences from the past and others that will inevitably come in the future in hopes to better help heal, better help guide and better help learn myself how to approach them with the right heart and attitude.

The only problem is I don't want to think it through.  I don't want to process, I want to suppress.  My desire is to stuff it back in or brush it off as nothing and continue about the day knowing sooner or later the fresh feeling will go away and the ability to say "see it wasn't that big of a deal" will be easier.
But holding hands with the desire to just ignore is the realization that I just don't know how to help.  Which is, in all honesty, so much worse and the reason why flight is a frequent go-to reaction.  The helpless feeling of not knoSing what to say, if you can help, when to speak, and when not to, can be gut wrenching.  It's a second-guess girl's worse nightmare. 

It's hard to voluntarily open yourself up to any subject that hurts, that lays your heart bare, that has the possibility of leaving more questions than answers, or worse, to come to realize that there's not an answer.  There's not a clear and concise 'why' to soothe the spirit.

But ignorance is not always bliss.  It's a wall that keeps you stagnant, keeps you from walking through to the next thing designed to continue molding you into the man or woman God is creating you to be, keeps you stuck instead of movable, instead of yielding, instead of freed from self to fully submit to the hands of the One who has always been holding you.  

Countless topics could follow this introduction, and that part does conjure up a small smile in the midst of a hurting heart as you see clearly that God's design is for each of us specifically and all of us together.  We are all learning the same lessons, in a million different ways, and He speaks straight to the heart of all of them using the same Truths.

The subject at hand today is the hard that comes through dealing with disappointment.  Not in my own life this time, but more so in the lives of my babies, though usually I learn plenty about and for myself as I help navigate them through the inevitable ups and downs of growing up.

The times where as a parent you have to watch the look on the face of this child that you would, without hesitation, lay down your life for, as the difficult road of character building begins through a disappointing experience just plain sucks. Sorry for the non-impressive literary slang, but some words carry meaning better than others.  Just be happy that the rhyming word I really wanted to say stayed in my head this time.  Let's face it, character doesn't get built through sunshine and roses, but there's a part of you that wants to convince God that you promise you'll be fantastic at learning things the easy way!

We had a tough parenting weekend where we had to watch our baby hurt, watch him be disappointed in a way not so big in the grand scheme of life but very big in the heart of a dedicated boy.  Details are not necessary, because unlike the voluntary sharing of my own struggles, screw ups, disappointments, and hard fought lessons learned, my job is not to spill the guts of another but instead to assist them in feeling confident to spill them out themselves preferably before the throne of Grace, before the Savior who, without a doubt, understands our weaknesses.

However, like I said, I have no concrete answers.  I'm a rookie in this game, who has already self admitted to purposely ignoring God's call on my heart to even address this topic because I knew I would have to sort through my past and my disappointments and then convince a heartbroken boy to do the same, even when I know we'll both be better for it

No matter how many past experiences we have where the hurt is completely worth the place God brings us to, it is still difficult to roll up those sleeves and trust that the same result will be true.  Lord we believe, please help our unbelief.

In these times, no matter how serious or frivolous they may seem, there is a Hope, a promise of redemption, a promise of renewed heart and being molded into the ultimate goal of the likeness of Christ.  On this earth we will see joys and failures, experience elation and devastation, and convince ourselves more than once that these individual moments are what define us, are what are important, are the reason we live. 

But just as you can't define yourself by the difficult things that happen, you can't, on a different day, define yourself by the awesome ones either.  The only identity that matters is the one found in Christ.  This is our ultimate goal for our children and for ourselves, to know whose we are and what that means.  There's always something that can be learned, always a lesson that provides another step in sanctification, always a way to become different, more Christ-like, more available to help others with a need you've already gone through.

That, however, can take a lifetime to truly embrace, so until then this rookie is going to rejoice with my sons when they rejoice, mourn when they mourn, admit with them that unfair things will happen, try to help them see that Grace and Mercy is also beautifully unfair, cry and pray on their behalf in the way too early hours of the morning, ask women with wisdom and experience to lift us up and tell me what the heck I need to do, screw it up out of my own anger and frustration, seek forgiveness, let my sons know that I love them fiercely, be there when they need a laugh, a hug, silence, or just a cup of hot tea, help them when they are ready to seek humility and the lessons they can learn through it, and remind them as many times as humanly possible that they are loved unconditionally, that they are made in the image of a Holy God and that there is a plan specifically designed for them by the One who holds on to them no matter how many times they not only want to but do let go.

That is true for us all.

I'll be praying you know and believe it's truth, please pray the same for me.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

consistently inconsistent

For twenty minutes this morning I reread through past writings, some shared through May Days some here but hidden, out it in the open, before the courage to share had begun.

I was in search of something to repost, to share again, or for the first time, because the possibility of having some alone writing time today seemed, well impossible.  More than one conversation has been had in the last few days about the epidemic of exhaustion on the faces and bodies of mamas, daddies, teachers, coaches, and anyone counting down the days for school to end and today was just another day with multiple engagements on the calendar.

As I read and searched nothing seemed quite right, nothing seemed to fit the thoughts I would have for right now, for this day, for this time and season.  Not because the words I read I now disagree with or felt could no longer be helpful or encouraging for someone.

No, all the words I read brought forward many memories, a few smiles, and more than desired hardships, but above all infinite thanks because where I was then I no longer am.  Even with the numerous similarities that were brought up of busy schedules, blonde boys, and overwhelming doubt that forever attempts to shadow all of life there was enough different to make me think.  Within them I found a hidden gem, a beautiful reminder of faithfulness and sovereignty.

Life is consistently inconsistent, but we are dearly loved through it all.

There will always be Summer, Fall, Winter, and Spring.  There will always be scary or exciting beginnings.  There will always be sad or triumphant endings.  There will always be friendships.  There will always be heartbreak.  There will always be loss.  There will always be gains.  But none of them will happen the same way twice.  All of them will cycle around, over and over in a variety of scenes played out as you go through life seeing, experiencing, and being taken through the challenges and joys that mold and sanctify your heart.  But in all the consistent inconsistencies there will always be growth.  

During counseling, which I recommend to anyone whether you think you need it or not, when I would get frustrated about having to deal with emotions that I was confident I had gotten past, my pastor would just remind me that I was "a yo-yo on an elevator." I might be doing, dealing with, the same thing over and over but each time I was higher up, I had grown a bit since the previous emotional meltdown, for want of a better word.  I was better equipped to understand, to trust, and to recover.

It always reminds me of a poignant line from a beautiful character in a favored show of mine growing up..."we ain't what we should be, we ain't what we're gonna be, but at least we ain't what we were."

It's a beautiful thing to look back and see you are not where you were, but it can be a terrifying thing to look ahead and wonder where you are going to be and if you're even going to make it.  Whether the road ahead is bubbling with excitement like college after high school graduation, moving to a different town, starting a new job or racked with the fearful unknown like carrying forward after a devastating loss or heartbreak or working through an experience or relationship where the outcome is still uncertain, you can rest assured that there is Hope, there is promise of renewal, there is growth that will carry you on through the next thing and next thing proving again that you are held in the hand of a loving God who is ever faithful.

No matter what part of your own cycle you are going through right now, I'll be praying for you.  Pray for me.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

opening doors to dark tunnels

Far over the misty mountains cold
To dungeons deep and caverns old
We must away, ere break of day,
To claim our long-forgotten gold.
~ J.R.R Tolkien, The Hobbit

If I was to list for you my fears it would be quite an impressive list.  Maybe impressive isn't the right word; depressing, shocking, or embarrassing might better suit the ongoing run of people, places, things, and possible experiences that have in the past and still at times in the present, not to mention unknown ones of the future that shake my faith and shift my eyes to things not given from God (2 Timothy 1:7).

Very high on that list since childhood and beyond lies one that is an inevitable part of everyday, darkness.  Each day it comes like clockwork, when the light of the day is ending, intended to give us the rest and refreshment of sleep, the ability to recoup before the light of the next day appears and we are up and ready to go forth once again in a new day.  

While there are some that seem unaffected by the feeling of shadows that creep in as the light of the day is lost, many others can automatically begin to feel anxious, nervous about the discomfort of darkness, the time of day when the objects around you are not clearly seen and the unknowns of what is happening monumentally outweigh the known that comes through clear sight bathed in light .  Studies have been done that suggest that the "witching hour" all parents are way too familiar with is caused by the ingrain knowledge the the sun is setting and darkness is coming.  

But whether it's a fear of ours or not, it happens on a daily basis and that darkness doesn't just provide the reminder to rest, it also provides a daily reminder of how it feels to be without light.  

The thing with darkness, is that it isn't just the time of day that comes after the beautiful sky a sunset brings, it's every part of the day, every part of a life, where the Light of Christ does not reign.  

As a believer I know the Truth that I am not alone.  I know the Truth that If I say, "Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, And the light around me will be night," Even the darkness is not dark to You, and the night is as bright as the day Darkness and light are alive to You." (Psalm 139:11-12).  The problem comes when I believe the fears, believe the lies thrown in the darkness, whether the literal or figurative, and don't wait for the Truth to float up.

But also as a believer, it's not enough to just know there is light in the darkness, but to go into the darkness carrying the Light you've been given.  Through a trip to Romania God rocked my heart with a tangible to go with Matthew 5:14-16...

I like to live in a bubble of happiness and block out the evil and scariness of the world, but when you come down to it that is just naivety, ignorance, and selfishness.  There is evil in this world.  Satan is real and has a real mission.  I always say I want to be a light in the darkness but I can't be a light in the darkness if I'm not in the dark!  

Life is full of God given opportunities to open the doors to dark tunnels and step down into the depths carrying with you the only Light you need.  

Those opportunities come in overwhelming variety.  For some it's walking through cancer, of their own or a loved one, and instead of succumbing to the dark dread, not only trusting God through it all but pouring His love on the ones who are beside you on the same road.  For others it's investing time in the lives of high schoolers in what on the surface appears to be a time of loud with crazy music and games on the side but at the heart is Jesus streaming from one onto another in the midst of the rocky roads of pre-adulthood.  

There is not enough time or page space to describe the infinite doors that can be opened to search in darkness.  One only has to step out of the safety of their front door, into the world around them to find an opportunity.  Everyone has a story.  Everyone has a hurt.  If you are sitting desperate to find a place to help, a way to shine, just pray.  It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, And the light dwells with Him. (Daniel 2:22)  Simply not entering into the negative conversations, but instead bringing a full heart driven by love into your workplace is a noticed shining and a less scary way for some to begin. 

Just remember it is all done with help, all done through Christ, all done with His Light in you and not your own.  "When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don't throw away the ticket and jump off.  You sit still and trust the engineer."  ~Corrie Ten Boom

For us, there is a new dark tunnel emerging through a door that is just beginning to be opened.  A door many others have already begun the trek into and others that are barely peeking through along with us.  The dark tunnel into foster care is quite new, as in we are only preparing to even be allowed to walk through, but already we see it will be going deeper than we could have ever comprehended and will reach a depth that our finite minds might never be able to truly comprehend.  But in it, just as in all the others, is the promise of Hope.  The promise that the battle has already been won and that we are just blessed to be allowed on the journey to be used to show that victory to others.

“The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.” ~J.R.R. Tolkien 

That greatness can only grow when love is shown, when Light is spread, when the sadness mixes with the joy.  I truly hope you see the Light you've been given in your own darkness, I hope you know the door God is calling you to open, I hope you see how He is walking in front of you, beside you and behind you into the depths.  I hope you follow carrying Light and Hope with you.  I hope these things for you because I first desperately hope for them for myself.  None of us are alone in it.

Pray for me, I'll be praying for you.