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Life's Little Lessons

"If you ask me what I came into this life to do, I will tell you: I came to live out loud." – Emile Zola

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Bruised not Broken

When I was little, every time I turned around, I had a broken arm. Bike accidents were my nemesis and to this day, my left elbow still sports two titanium pins that serve as a powerful reminder to wear shoes when pedaling a bike. I also broke my wrist once riding a three-wheeler just weeks before my wedding but for the most part, I’ve been injury free. But two and half weeks ago it snowed (it will be fun they said) and I took the dogs out in our yard for a run. Little did I know one of their leashes would wrap itself around my boot and I would be suddenly pulled to the ground.

That hurt.

And long story short, I left it go even though I could not lift my right arm above my head.

It’s bruised, not broken. It will heal.

Yes and No.

Several days later I ended going to Urgent Care just minutes before they closed at the promoting of some friends who saw my yellow and black bruising. X-Rays confirmed no injury so the doctor sent me home and told me to move it as much as I could so it wouldn’t become stiff. And then the next day, Radiology called.

“We are sorry. The X-Ray was misread. You have a fractured Humerus.”

So two orthopedic appointments later, my bruising is an ugly shade of gray and I can lift my right arm now slightly above my head with pain. I have more motion but everything hurts. In fact, I have a constant throb that sometimes Tylenol doesn’t take away. My doctor assures me from my X-Ray that this is normal and that my fracture is healing but it will just take time and I need to go a bit more easy. I’ve been told no more heavy lifting, no more trying to reach my arm above my head and no more extending my arm out like I would to open the door of a bus.

I am not in a sling or a cast so if you were to look at me, you would never know what was beneath my sweater. You would never see the ugly shade of gray beneath the skin on my right arm. I look normal. Things look good on the outside and so I want the inside to match and they don’t. This injury’s come at a time in my life when I want things fixed. I want life fixed. I want my ducks lined up neat, in a row and they are somewhat scattered.

Not everything in life is a life lesson but most things are. Right now I need a hands on lesson in the external to help me better understand the internal, or better yet, I need the natural to help me better understand the spiritual. Either or.

Both.

My doctor wants me to keep moving my shoulder because moving it will ultimately help heal it. BUT I am only to move it as my pain tolerance allows so in other words, I’m to push it but not too far. Then when I push too far I am to rest and then push far again.

External injuries, much like internal ones, take time to heal. Hurts to your heart are finicky. You cannot place your heart in a sling or a cast, it doesn’t work that way and most of us, not all of us, are walking around with a wound that no one knows about. Much like the bruising beneath my sweater, you can hide your pain beneath a smile or behind a happy post and no one will know differently.

No one really.

But He knows. He always knows and He is always one I can turn to when I need to rest because the pushing has hurt just a little too much.

Friends, if you are hurting…it is legit. Pain and injury are real. Pretending that they are not by wearing your game face so you can soldier on will ultimately do you know good. You just go underground. Your scabby hearts get all crusty and eventually gets all tough but not in the strong and healthy way so give yourself time to heal. Be honest with your bruise but don’t mistake your honesty for truth.

Just because you feel broken doesn’t mean that you ARE broken.

Living above your circumstances is hard. Your present situation, though very real and up in your face, can make you think and feel a lot of things. If you are not careful, if you are not diligent, what you see and hear will lie to you and entice you to believe a different reality than what you are to be living from. It will tell you you are more than just bruised, it will tell you you are broken! It will make you believe a different truth than His and any other belief system outside of Jesus will take work to maintain and we are called to rest.

IN HIM. 

You may have a very real and very present circumstance before you and as tempting as it is to believe the lie that is loud and forefront, don’t. Practice believing the very opposite, even if it sounds impossible. Even if it look improbable, believe. Have hope. Intentionally move in the opposite spirit.

Regardless of whether your circumstance changes, YOU will.

And if you change, the reality around you will be forced to contend WITH you.

I believe in the finished work of the cross, even if I don’t always walk from it. I believe I am whole, even if there are seasons, much like this one, where I feel like I’m in pieces and parts. I know this “injury” is affording me the opportunity to look a little closer, take it a little slower, be a little gentler. It tells me that this pain is real but it won’t last forever. With time and Truth, I will heal and heal properly, wholly…all the way through.

Lead me in Your truth and teach me,
For You are the God of my salvation;
For You I wait all the day.

Psalm 25:5

So I’m taking my real-life circumstances, my up-in-my-face realities, and smothering them with Jesus, my Healer. I need Him more than ever to remind me WHO I am. I need Truth to speak to every broken place, every place that is real and alive with pain. I need to believe in another reality than the one I am living in…

Most of us, not all of us, need to.

It is time to separate our circumstances from our identity. Our identity is to reign and rule over our circumstances. Not the other way around.
 

 

 

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Shattered

“Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall. 

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.

All the King’s horses and all the King’s men,

Couldn’t put Humpty together again”

This childhood nursery rhyme is in my head this morning as I drive. I rounded the bend in the road and crossed over the railroad tracks and it played through my mind again.

“Couldn’t put Humpty together again.”

Shattered to pieces, poor Humpty. And where was the King? If all the King’s horses and all the King’s men couldn’t, could the King have put him back together again?

Will my King put me back together again?

I think the better question is, “Will I allow Him?”

I cannot play the victim here. I can no longer afford to allow other people’s actions or lack of dictate WHO I am. And I have allowed it. It’s a choice I’ve made, over and over and over again. It’s an old habit, an old neighbor, if you will, and the property lines are no longer clear and weeds have encroached me.

I am not broken.

And though I feel that I am, because I am most definitely bruised, I will not lay on the floor in a thousand little pieces waiting for someone to come rescue me. Waiting for someone to notice that I have fallen and fallen hard.

I will.

HE will.

HE does.

I show up to my doctor’s appointment and I am brutally honest. I am honest with my feelings. I am honest with my thoughts. I am even honest with the not good ones. There is no covering up today, I am direct.

“Help me. I need just a little. Just a little to get me through.”

I sound beggy. I sound pleady. Like a child, I out stretch my hand, “Please.”

Please. Because I am looking for a fix.

My feelings are running the show and I need to make sense of them, I need order, I need peace.

I want to escape. I want to run. I want to numb out. I no longer want to feel.

So we talk some more, she hugs me at the end after taking way more time with me than she should and hands me a script. I walk to the check-out desk with hope in my hands that maybe a little pill will help me to not feel all over the place so I can think clearer, be better.

Because I have indeed fallen all apart.

And I have hope to fall back together again.

Hope that reaching out to the doctor is a step forward.

 

 

fester 

I can feel it flowing through my veins. Toxins are trying to poison my soul. There are things that have not been talked about recently and I take the lack of initiation on any part, other than mine, poorly. 

The long and the short is this: I want to stop reaching becuase I want to be reached INTO and my “ I wont if you wont” attitude is seemingly costing me a great deal. Anger is festering. Communication has been waining and open to interpretation, which becomes a free-for-all for assumptions, which I know better than to make. 

I appears we are not on the same page and that feeling adds extra weight to my gut. I don’t know how we’ll ever move forward because at the end of the day, weeks later, here we are. Same ole. Same ole. Time and space have crept in and the hot water has slowly turned to not so hot at all. Nothing has really changed. Nothing has really been talked about and as much as I sit, telling myself, “Just focus on yourself. YOU keep moving forward,” there is this undeniable reality that I’m not the only one here.

We both are. 

So I go back to “Who am I?” 

I AM a communicator.

“If that is WHO you are, march yourself downstairs and communicate.”

Sometimes I really loathe the voice of reason and wisdom within myself.

And I do. I bound down the steps and plop myself in my chair and as much as I don’t think it is my turn or duty (which often feels like an obligatory noose) to continue to reach forward, I do. I initiate. I communicate.

“I think we need to talk.”

And there is agreement from both sides in this statement.

Not much is solved but we both walk away and doors are left opened.

I have a picture in my head of taking the doors of my heart off its hinges. I see myself throwing them into the flames along with our very dead Christmas tree that lays on the ground outside our house…watching it disintegrate into nothingness.

I don’t think my heart was created to find refuge in doors.

 

 

 

“I Saw it Coming.”

 

I have this very creepy habit of possibly eavesdropping on other people’s conversations out in public. I call it active listening but I’ll use that term loosely since I’m not really a part OF the conversation. I can’t help it (says creepy people everywhere)… people intrigue me and I find myself sucked into their life into attempts to know them despite my best attempts not to.

 

 

The other day I was standing at the grocery store in a line that spanned the distance of forever and the couple behind me was talking about a friend of theirs who was just arrested for a DUI. They seemed to be genuinely concerned and I thought their sincerity was touching. However, one of them said something that absolutely caught my attention. They said,”

 

 

“I saw it coming.”

 

 

And the other person murmured in agreement. “I saw it too.”

 

 

I really didn’t want to listen anymore after that. I willed my ears to close as I stepped forward and proceeded to check out.

 

 

Those words really hurt my heart.

 

 

I wonder if people have seen it coming in me, in my life, and have turned and looked the other way. I wonder what people have become aware of and still…never reached out.

 

 

I wonder.

 

 

I’ve been thinking a lot about the junk we have in our lives, at least I have been thinking of mine. And try as I might to find scripture condoning my need at times to point out other people’s trash, I just haven’t.

 

 

What I have found is this:

 

 

“But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. “And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.” John 16:7-8

 

I read this and think when Jesus Christ Himself says, “IT IS TO YOUR ADVANTAGE THAT I GO AWAY…” I better pay attention to WHY He says it is to my advantage.

 

 

And my WHY turns out to be a WHO. 

 

 

Holy Spirit.

 

 

I often forget I am not Holy Spirit. **NEWS FLASH** Jesus did not depart this world so I could make it my life mission convicting the world (aka my family and friends or my “friends” online) of the junk they may have in their heart. That is what He does, it is WHO He is.

 

 

And me? My part in all of this is to LOVE.

 

 

Plain and not so simple.

 

 

Yes, Jesus pretty much made that clear as crystal when He said,

 

 

“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”  John 13:34-35

 

I know love looks different for each and every one of us and sometimes, even “tough love” is still love when done with His leading and a open heart. I just know when I stood in that grocery store line the other day and heard the conversation from behind me; my heart broke into a hundred pieces for the gentleman with the DUI. The gentleman that obviously had his flag waving, “Hey. I’m heading down a dangerous path. I need some help; I’m just not quite sure how to reach out for it. Will someone see me? I know you see me. Will someone just love me enough to …”

 

 

Who knows? Maybe they did. Maybe someone had. Maybe this guy had tons of people cheering him on and trying to love him back to healthy and wholeness. In the end, just as it is not our job to convict people of their sin, it is also not our job to reach in and save them from the depths. We will exhaust ourselves from trying.

 

 

I’m a recovering fixaholic. I know how that all goes.

 

 

So friends, if you “see it coming” in someone’s life…please reach into them.

 

 

Not to convict them.

 

 

Not to fix them.

 

 

But to love them.

 

 

Not sure how? I have this friend and His name is Jesus…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Making Sense Out of Christmas 

I woke up early this morning and said good-bye to our son. His ninety-six hour leave would come to an end in a few hours and he has to report back for three days before he could venture home again. I hug him and his girlfriend tight and tell them to be safe and that I love them, all the things I’m growing accustomed to saying when we part ways and moments later I crawl back to bed. I don’t have any trouble falling asleep and I wonder if I had truly woken up because sleep comes quickly and the minutes spent saying good-bye now feels like a dream.

I wake up for real several hours later and take the dogs out. The thought of heading to the barn crosses my mind but the thought of hot coffee nags and wins. I resolve to feed my miniature pig Rosie the next time I’m out and walk through the front door. My brain scans the living room that houses an incredibly dead Christmas tree and I begin plotting out my day.

It’s time to make sense out of Christmas.

Needles lace the floor and I almost cannot see the carpet. I’m not really sure what happened because I never missed a beat and was faithful in watering but I apparently missed something somewhere because evidence points to the obvious. It is dead. The tree has got to go…today.

The dog quickly finds a candy cane and then shortly after, a forgotten toy, and I feel as if I never stopped raising toddlers and somewhere between the living room and the coffee pot, I remind myself to go slow and smile because smiling is important.

I get to work.

I start in the kitchen and eventually meander my way back to the living room; sorting, unpackaging…trying to find a place for everything that was recently brought into this home. “Christmas is more than this,” I remind myself. It is more than the gifting and the eating and the cleaning.

But today it feels just like that and I am done.

An hour later, my husband comes into the house and tells me he went out to feed the chickens and found Rosie. She had died sometime between when I fed her yesterday morning and today. At first I have no words. I really don’t even know what to say about a pig I wasn’t supposed to love.

But did.

I think of our barn and how it’s housed calves, chickens, 4-H pigs and now little Rosie. I think of the smell, the cobwebs, the mice and the dirt and I wonder if moving Rosie from our home to the barn a few years was a good move. Did we cut her life short in the transfer? My brain scrambles to make sense and it can’t. Was she old in miniature pigs years? Was I feeding her enough? She was social and here I stuck her in the barn, no longer having room for her in my house. I don’t have answers so I shake my head and resolve to let those thoughts go. It will do no good to sort that out because there is no sorting. My little pig is dead.

The most random of all pictures comes to my head; a feeding trough. It’s one of the dirtiest and foulest things in a barn if not kept clean and I instantly think of how Jesus was laid in one at His birth. I don’t know why I think of this at the same time I think of that little pig, laying cold on the barn floor but I do.

I think of the packages that fill my home and the needles from my dead tree that fill the floor and the list of all the things I want to get done and thoughts of my son still flutter through my head. I look around the kitchen at my husband and kids. They sit, both quiet and compassionate, waiting for me to respond terribly with tears, but I don’t. It would be awkward to cry over a little pig and I do awkward enough. 

This is what I tell myself.

I think in my trying to make sense out of Christmas, I was trying to package Christmas up so I could move forward and get back to life as normal. I wanted to move forward from the gifts. Move forward from the floor laced with needles. Move forward from the busy and the chaos and the goodbyes.

And here all along, Jesus was reaching into me from the barn, reminding me there is no normal to move on to. He was trying to show me what Christmas really is: Love comes in unexpected ways and in unexpected forms. Jesus, the baby in the manager who I now call my closest friend, reminds me to open my heart wide; unbiased and unrestricted. Hours later I give myself permission to cry, even if just for a little and I wonder if the Innkeeper had known who Jesus was if he would have given him more than just the barn, more than just a feeding trough, more than…

So I choose today to not put Christmas away. I choose to stay focused on my family as I walk around the clutter as needles cling to my feet. I choose to allow my heart to relentlessly love who and what it loves, to be surprised when the unexpected stranger knocks on its door and to embrace the unsuspecting.

One thing we should never have to do is apologize for our hearts.

 

Know WHO Your People Are. 

My life is filled with amazing people and so not to make one sound more amazing than the other, BECAUSE WE KNOW WHAT THAT CAN DO, I’ll skip the identification process and leave you in a state of wonder.

I have one who will drop just about everything and anything and show up at your door if there is a need, announced or not, with food, a drink or a hug.

I have one who is a vivacious dreamer and they inspire me to think BIG and way outside my box and every time I am with them, they keep my eyes focused onward and upward.

I have one or five who are incredible listeners and I know I can sit with them and share real-life as it is and will be heard and not judged.

I have one who craves quality time and every time I am with them, I know they are 100% WITH me and they teach be how to practice being PRESENT.

I have helpers, grace givers, pray warriors, teachers, fixers and counselors. I have hard truth tellers whose words sometimes sting but are sincere and well-meaning and I have those who tell me what I want to hear when I want to hear it and their words help ease life’s stings, even if temporarily. I indeed have a plethora of people in my life who are full of amazing characteristics and qualities, each bearing their own unique gift to this great universe. Drowning? I have a friend for that.

But here’s what I’m finding. I’ve sat in a room with a fixer when I needed a good listener and have left feeling bypassed and manhandled by their good intentions. Likewise, life gets big every now and then and a big life brings with it big waves and I’ve gotten lost trying to navigate through the storms. During these times, I’ve felt that I was drowning and realize now, the last person I should have called upon for help was someone who doesn’t know how to swim or doesn’t want to get wet in choppy waters because of their own fears.

Expecting someone to show up and BE for me puts an unrealistic demand ON them. I get that. It’s the whole “We are responsibly TO people not FOR people” thing. No one can save me if I am drowning. No one can fix my problems. No one is ever going to fully and accurately hear my heart or make me feel valued or accepted.

But Jesus.

When I look you in the eyes and expect you to BE what and who I need or want in that moment is taxing and incredibly messy. I’m trying my best to hold each person I encounter in my empty hands, palms outstretched so they can flow in and out as they go. I’m learning to communicate what it is that I need or want instead of assuming that they know it.

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”  – George Bernard Shaw

I’m learning and learning takes practice.

But no matter how I try to not hold anyone up against the picture I have in my head, there IS this major component in a relationship where it’s important to KNOW one another. To know each other’s INS and OUTS. The places where we are each strong and adversely, not because we DO rely and depend on one another and if we pretend we don’t, we shortchange ourselves. Think of the Garden. Of Adam and Eve. Of Helpers and “It is not good for man to be alone.” Seriously, all of these amazing relationships in our lives are to look like something. They are to look like Someone.

The body of Christ.

And you cannot expect a hand to be a foot.

Secretly hoping it will be will leave you disappointed and disappointment leads to feeling rejected and offended.

This is why it is so important to KNOW WHO YOUR PEOPLE ARE…TO YOU. I absolutely believe we are called to love all people but we are not called to be in relationship with all people. Thinking that we can or should sets us all up to fail and I have tried. I cannot pour myself and my time in to everyone. When I do, we all stand in shallow waters which lacks depth and eventually I can’t keep up and I let people down. So instead of going wide, I’m trying to go deep. I’m discovering the importance of focusing on WHO is in my life in THIS season. This one, right now, because seasons change and we need to give each other permission TO change. I’ve gone in and out of people’s lives and watched them do the same and it’s not personal nor should be taken as such. The homecoming remains sweet when we return to one another when we keep our hands open and don’t hold on too tightly.

So friends, make the time to ask yourself the hard questions and understand what it is you need or want then have enough courage to communicate it. God has given you a slew of amazing Helpers as a gift so spend time with your people and listen to their hearts. Go after discovering their identity and what God has placed inside of them for you to access. BUT do not expect them to be who they are not and most certainly do not ask them to change for you. It only leads to disappointment and a cold heart.

Love them as is. It is how you keep your love active, alive and engaging. 

“By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35

 

 

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