On privacy and pain: when you don’t know what to write

On privacy and pain: when you don’t know what to write

woman sunsetThey say, “Write what you know.”

But … what if what you know is too painful, too difficult, too private to write about?

Maybe they’d say that I should write it all down in a personal journal rather than in a public forum. And maybe they’d be right. Just keep expressing, keep trying, keep moving forward.

That’s not my story, though. When life got too difficult, too painful, too messy, I wouldn’t write anything. Not a darn thing. Well, maybe one or two things, but nothing that required me to dig in and peel back the fragile layers of my life and possibly bleed all over the poor soul who happened upon my words.

I admit: I’ve been holding out on you.

It’s sometimes a confusing tightrope to walk, this life of imperfect faith and so-called public platform. I strive to be “real” and “authentic” and “genuine,” with as little difference between how I am behind closed doors and when they’re open. But I also am a flawed human being, tied by sacrament and faith and birth to other flawed human beings. Respect for my dignity and theirs (and yours) means that, sometimes, I write around the things that are breaking my heart rather than fliging the thin veil aside for everyone to see.

The last thing I want this space to be is one where, in my brokenness, I damage relationships and possibly my heart and maybe even your heart as well. I have always, always intended this to be a place of encouragement and redemption.

And so I wait. I wait for it to stop being so painful and difficult. I wait for the sunshine to appear, burning off the months and months of frozen cold and dreary damp in my soul.

I wait for the redeeming wounds of the resurrected Christ to bind and heal my own tender wounds.

Because if there is one thing I can write with any semblance of authority and certainty today, it is that God is not finished with me yet. I know that He is guiding this healing, this transforming, this becoming.

I believe that my story–where Jesus Christ alone is glorified through every detail of my wild and blessed life–is being written, even if I can’t yet see the words.

photo credit: Alex Jones via unsplash 

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Who Am I?

Who Am I?

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In the silent stillness before dawn, I slowly opened my eyes, reluctant to survey the aftermath of the previous night’s activities. There were empty junk food wrappers strewn about the small room, as well as myriad red cups offering up their remaining contents to the already-stained carpet. The sickly sweet smells of alcohol, incense, and smoke clung to my hoodie and jeans and clouded my memory. As I slowly sat up, I noticed about ten or eleven other teens—male and female—still sleeping in whichever spot they found themselves when they eventually passed out.

As I finally came to, my thoughts came clearly and rapidly: What am I doing here? Is this all there is to life? Is this what my future holds? Who have I become?

Read the rest here.

Photo used with permission by Blessed is She.

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I wasn’t able to forgive my husband – until I gave myself a gift

I wasn’t able to forgive my husband – until I gave myself a gift

woman-sitting-next-to-stone-wallEndless salty tears rolled down my cheeks as I replayed the evening’s events over and over in my mind as if on a loop. After providing just enough detail for me to feel as though I’d been hit by a freight train, my husband apologized for his behavior and asked for my forgiveness. And I couldn’t—wouldn’t—forgive him. No one in their right mind would expect me to forgive what my husband has done, I reasoned. No one.

Read the full article here.

Photo by Igor Cancarevic used with permission via unsplash.com
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Made in my own image

Made in my own image

Call it a mid-life crisis; call it a wake-up call.

Call it whatever you’d like, but I’ve been doing some pretty serious self-reflection and soul searching lately, and it’s been rather … unsettling.

An Incident occurred a week or so ago and caused me to weep, cry out to God, and reflect. And ponder and argue and wrestle. And cry some more. Far from the run-of-the-mill navel-gazing to which I occasionally fall prey, this situation – in light of many other situations – stopped me in my tracks.

It’s been during this time that I realized something that I’ve likely known for a while but was only able to articulate two days ago:

I have not been living as though I am made in the image and likeness of God. I have not been living according to His holy and perfect will. 

Rather, I have been living in the image and likeness of my own ill-conceived creation – of who I think I should be – and especially of who I think others want or need me to be. I have been living mostly according to my own excruciatingly imperfect will.

And it has hurt me.

Quite a bit.

I have over committed and under delivered. I have fallen behind and not followed through. I have engaged with others without engaging first with God. I have created a mirage of perfect availability through my social media interactions, yet allowed flesh-and-blood relationships to falter.

In short, I have been living in a prison of my own design, a false reality where so many more things than necessary rely upon me and my superhuman goodnesss and my superhuman wholeness and my superhuman abilities … all of which don’t truly exist anywhere except in the bent recesses of my wounded mind.

Even more disturbingly, I realized that I have forgotten to sit, to submit, and to surrender to Him Who calls me to be made free and holy and whole.

I realized that I have been trying to save myself. 

Without even fully understanding what I was doing, I put myself in the place of the One Who holds my life in His hands. I have put my own idea of who He wants me to be ahead of who He actually created me to be.

It’s pride, plain and simple, and it’s not without consequence. It’s a rare sort of ugly, friends, to live out of the unwitting belief that you’re in charge – that it’s up to you – that your way will save you.

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I had the honor of writing the reflection at Blessed is She today, and I focused on the paradoxes of the faith – in giving we receive, in serving we lead, in dying we live – but events over the past weeks allow me to see the readings in a different light.

In today’s Gospel, James and John ask Jesus to give them something to which they have no rightful claim. Jesus responds to them: “You don’t know what you are asking.” And they insist that, indeed, they can take it – whatever “it” is. I can visualize their zealous, righteous indignation now: “We can do it, Lord. Whatever. BRING IT ON.” They press Jesus with their own agenda, their own plans, asking Him to accept them. And because He loves them, He allows these two with whom He’s journeyed to choose their own free will over His perfect version.

I’ve done that, too.

I’ve chosen my will over His. My vision over His. My desires over His. Like a petulant preschooler, I have insisted on eating a lollipop when what I really need is bread. I have thrown a fit in favor or endless hours of screen time when what I really need is to read a good book or write a good story. I have asked for a party with lots and lots of people when what I really needed was silence. With Him.

At its heart, this isn’t about me being too busy or too ambitious or too enthusiastic or too anything, really. It’s also not about me being undisciplined, unintentional, or unwieldy, although those things are definitely symptoms of a larger issue.

The truth is this: I can no longer survive by going my own way anymore – the way I think or the way others think. My way hurts. It hurts me, and it hurts others. And it has to stop.

May I have the courage and the strength to pray and believe and live:

Lord Jesus, not my will but Thine be done. Now and forever. Amen.

God bless y’all.

 heather

 

 

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My child, I say to you: arise

My child, I say to you: arise

Photo by Marlee Kay
Photo by Marlee Kay

Hi, there, friends!

I was blessed to write today’s devotion over at Blessed is She, one about seemingly devastating pain and sorrow that was miraculously transformed by the healing touch of our saving Lord. Maybe, like me, you’ve experienced pain or sorrow so deeply that, at times, life doesn’t seem like it’s worth living anymore. I am here to testify to you, my dear sisters in Christ, that life is *always* worth it, even if it isn’t easy. Real healing begins when you can allow Jesus himself to enter into your life and say to you as he did to the little girl in today’s Gospel: “My child, I say to you: arise.”

Please know that he loves you so, so much and wants nothing more than for you to be healed. You are not alone. God bless you.

heather

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