March Madness

It’s time to start breathing again.

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Y’all.  I don’t know about yours, but my March was filled with some crazy stuff.  So many things shifting, changing.  It’s left me a little tired, a little breathless…

  1.  My father died.  This is a man I hadn’t seen or spoken to in over 20 years, a man who caused no small amount of stress and horror and terror and issues for every person in my family.  He was not a good man by even the most generous definition of good.  I spent a lot of years working through all the yuck and was truly able to come to a place of forgiveness.  And I’ve stayed there, at peace.  But I felt nothing when informed of his passing.  It wasn’t like I was trying not to feel; there really was no connection and no reaction, except maybe a little pity that he died senile and alone in a VA hospital.  Messages of condolence came rolling in, and I had no idea how to tell people how completely unnecessary they were, so I just said, “Thank you.”
  2. A family member called me confrontational, said all of us were, and we just needed to sit down at a table together and hash it all out.  No, no, no.  First, there’s a huge difference between being confrontational and standing on the truth.  Think about it.  The first conveys a sort of aggressive forward motion, a loud voice.  The second conveys a sense of stillness, being immovable, quietly holding one’s ground.  A big part of the difference between the two is knowing when to speak and when to keep quiet.  I’m not confrontational – I don’t have the time, energy, or inclination – but I will defend the truth.  Second, I know my family members, and they are all very set in their own opinions, which is fine.  I don’t know what this particular family member expects to magically happen, but all that table session would be is a lot of yelling and negativity and no one budging.  As with the stuff with my father, I worked through the family drama, and I forgave and moved on.  And for that matter, I moved 4000 miles away.  How much less confrontational can one be?  A pastor friend once told me, “You can forgive someone fully, but that doesn’t mean you have to sit and eat apple pie with them.”  I think there’s a lot of wisdom in that statement, especially when you don’t live your life from the same place as the other person.
  3. I reached my limit with the terrible job I talked about in my last post.  I got tired of not being able to sleep, of having a heavy weight on my chest at all times, of the dread of going to work, of being constantly undermined.  J and I talked, and his exact words were, “None of this would be worth it if you were making $200K a year,” (which I’m not).  So I resigned, and you would not believe the number of coworkers who came out of the woodwork and said things like, “Good for you.  I’m afraid to leave,” or, “99% of the staff on center feel like you do, but we’ve all got reasons we have to stay,” or, “Did you ever notice how no one ever volunteers their real feelings in the management meetings because they’ll just get shot down?” or even, “I hate to see you go.  You’re one of the good ones.”  I know I made the right choice, and while it’s stretching my faith in a totally new way (scary), I know I need to take some time and, well, decontaminate.  That’s really what it feels like.

I have no idea what April is going to hold, but I know Who holds me, and things are going to be okay.  If you’ve just come out of a tumultuous season, I really encourage you to seek the Lord for direction.  The direction he’s given me is to rest, heal, play, create, and get in the sun, and while a huge part of me feels like I’m not doing anything productive, the smarter part of me knows that I’ve had a really rough few years, and if the Lord is telling me to take care of myself (and providing a way for that to happen), then it’s the most productive thing I can do.  So today, the temperature hit 51 degrees, and I laid outside on my deck and basked in the warm sun, and I’ll probably do it again tomorrow.  And I will paint and write and take it one day at a time until I know the next step.  And then I’ll do that one.

Stay tuned…

My Cup Filleth Up

The Lord really does do what he says he’s going to do.

There’s a story in the Bible (see Mark 9:14-29) about a man who brings his demon-possessed son to Jesus and basically says, “If you could do anything to fix this, that would be great.”  Jesus looks at him somewhat incredulously (implied by the use of the most emphatic form of “if” in the Greek) and says, “What do you mean, ‘if’? IF you are able to believe, all things are possible to the believer.”  The dad hears this, and according to one translation, says, “I do believe…now help my weakened faith.”   And let me tell you, often I relate to this guy more than any other character in the Bible.  Because I DO believe the Lord, just…weakly at times.  I want to be this powerhouse believer, never wavering, never feeling nervous, never questioning, but I’m more likely to be the one saying, “Yeah, God, I know you’re perfectly capable of doing ______, but are you actually gonna?”

Sigh.

Such was the case when I went to Denver over my birthday weekend.  I had a lot of expectations of the Lord because he had been shouting “REDEMPTION! REDEMPTION! REDEMPTION!” over the 6th of May since the start of the year.  I just didn’t have a lot of optimism that J was in line with all of it because there have been sooooo many times where I was hopeful, and my hope dropped like a bird shot out of the sky in the face of whatever mess J was dealing with at the time.  But I resolved to trust God regardless of how shaky I felt, and I went – this trip was the Lord’s idea to begin with, so once I said yes, I committed to it with everything I could.

And it was a fantastic weekend.

It was a little awkward at first; plus, flying sucks these days, so who’s really ever super-happy after stepping off an airplane?  But I had a great, blessedly quiet hotel room – we both agreed that a neutral space would be better than me staying with J – and after getting a good night’s sleep, I felt a little more optimistic.  We spent the whole of Friday driving through the Rocky Mountains, stopping whenever we wanted to, eating good food, and having good conversation.  We really enjoyed each others’ company, and by Saturday night, I felt a physical and psychic shift. (Have you ever had that happen?  Where you feel like your reality has literally been picked up and moved over a couple of inches and it takes you a second to recalibrate yourself?)  We sat in the hot tub at my hotel, and J poured out his heart to me.  Sadly, I couldn’t hear most of it because of the VERY loud children in the pool, but I could feel the truth and the sincerity of what he was saying.  I didn’t tell him that until after we had gotten out, though. 😀

The bottom line is: things are not what they were.  The old truly has passed away, and all things are made new.  We’re still in the process, but we are watching God’s promises unfold before us.  How gracious is he that our little, tiny, weakened faith is enough for him to work with?  I am so very optimistic for our future now!

The rest of the story in Mark finds the disciples asking Jesus why they couldn’t cast the demon out of the boy, and he told them that kind couldn’t come out except by prayer.  I say that to say this: if you need to see God move in a situation, PRAY.  And give him your little, tiny, weakened faith, and let him take it from there.  Don’t try to demand the hows or wheres or whens.  Let him do it.  If he says he will, he will.

Also, M and I are planning to move back to our beloved Alaska this summer, with J to follow when the Lord releases him to (at which time my cup shall overflow).  How this came about is for another post, but I will say that it is well in line with the words the Lord gave me for 2018: restoration, equilibrium, and tabula rasa.  I’ve applied for pretty much what seems my dream job, so hopefully I’ll have even more good news to share soon.

He’s so good, y’all.  He really is.