Sitting in the Chaos

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We are terrified of the painful grief that is hot to touch, sharp or piercing, so we keep moving, faster and faster, so we will not feel how sad we are, how much we have lost in this life:  strength, youthful playfulness, so many friends and lovers, dreams that did not come true, all that have passed away.  When we stop even for a moment, we can feel the burning, empty hole in our belly.  So we keep moving, afraid the empty fire of loss will consume us. – Wayne Muller

In today’s world, we are scurrying from place to place. We’ve got to get here, we’ve got to get there, and we have no room for error – can’t get lost and most definitely can’t be late. To help navigate our travel, we’ve relied on physical maps, embraced the move of technology with the use of map quest, and now we have the ability to travel almost anywhere right at our finger tips. Our phones today are equipped with applications that make traveling very easy. The Google maps application allows you to:

  • Explore a new city
  • Go on an “off-road” adventure
  • Assist in driving to a new place

This app is pretty much right on track too, and very rarely do I get lost when using it. This app is tech savvy too. All you have to do is let the phone search for your current location, type the address or name of your end destination, and off you go. This little red pin will guide you, maneuvering you through the streets, towards your destination.

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I love convenience and I love simplicity. I use to live a life of simplicity – key word being use to. I would work out, go to work, go to Church, socialize with friends and family, spend time writing and blogging, and traveling. For the most part it was simple – easy come easy go. Life had its bumps in the road for sure, but the flat could easily be fixed, and I was well on my way again. I liked it. I loved it actually.

A few months back, my Pastor preached a message about 5 steps to becoming an effective Christian. For the life of me, I cannot remember all the steps only the last one, which is the most important – crazy/radical. I was not radical or crazy in my walk with God. For the record, I was not radical or crazy period. I was structured, confined, and rigid. Crazy was no where in my vocabulary.

His message inspired me to shake loose the chains that grappled me, let my hair down, and get a little crazy. Without hesitation, I marched right up to the altar and actually prayed for crazy. Looking back, I’m not so sure why I uttered those words so freely. I guess in the place I was at, I was tired of being so guarded, so rigid, and so methodical. I wanted to completely abandon my ways. I was desperate for change.

Guess what? That is exactly where that little red pin lead me – right into chaos, right into crazy town. My once quiet life has been uprooted, filled with complication. It is loud and messy too. It awakens me in the middle of the night in a cry for help. It yells, it challenges me, and it drives me out of my comfort zone. “Wait a minute”, I screamed. “I did not sign up for this?” “This is not the direction I wanted to go.” Oh but wait, I did, remember? The altar a few months ago.

Heed my warning, be careful what you pray for 🙂

So, here I am – sitting in the chaos – unable to move or recalibrate my direction of travel. I keep trying to type in a new end destination, but my app is not working. On occasion, I’ve pleaded, cried out to God for Him to get me out of this situation. Yet, He doesn’t. He said I must ride it out, and as painful and uncomfortable as it is, it is only temporary. There will be a bend in the road soon.

Up until this present moment, I have been guilty of hustling through life. I’ve spent my whole life running from one place to the next trying to escape the present. The present is where you get hurt and where you have to deal with things. I thought if I kept moving, I could escape the hurt and not have to feel anything. As Wayne Muller so accurately described, I was terrified of the pain. So, I kept moving faster and faster to not have to feel or think about what I lost through all the years of my life.

If you were to ask me if I truly wanted to leave this chaotic state, my answer would actually be no. I’ve grown accustom to chaos and I’m getting good at just being and hanging in the moment. This place of chaos has shown me that my life before was boring and stale, and I was only living a fraction of the one life that I have. I sure don’t want to bring my life any injustice.

I am learning too that the empty fire of loss does not actually consume us. It burns out any impurities and allows us to grow and move into a place never traveled before – passionate, nonsensical, wild, bizarre, and crazy love.

Stay tuned…for my next move 🙂

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The Road to Love

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Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it. – Jalal ad-Din Rumi

The sweltering outdoor conditions in middle Tennessee is an indication that we are approaching the second season of the year. Time is racing by, too fast in my opinion. Like everyone else, I have big plans for 2013. I don’t want the year to quickly pass by and I have not accomplished any of my goals.

I set my sights high, but I believe they are in reach. I want to be love and I want to fall in love as captured in my One Word Resolution. I’ve been exercising love at every chance and proud to say that I did not fall victim to New Year’s resolution statistics – abandoning my resolution after a month.

The goals that I mapped out for myself have been challenging and led me in unexpected directions – road blocks, adversaries, discomfort, and even a taste of excitement.

Today, I accept the challenge presented before me and to others who have embarked on the journey of One Word Resolutions. I am to post a mile-marker blog on how the word has shaped up so far. What an unbelievable journey it has been 🙂

  1. Accept first challenge – myself.

I naively thought love was going to be easily attainable. I was going to fall right in like diving into a refreshing pool. Wrong. Although I hungered for it, I was not quite ready to sit down and eat. I was scared, a bit of a coward. I feared the pain of opening myself back up. I was reluctant to carve out the space that love needed to fill.  For some strange reason, I grabbed my shovel and began picking at the hardened soil of my heart. Every encounter, experience began creating a new home for love.

2.  Pray for love with expectancy.

God deeply convicted me that I did not fully believe in myself and that I actually deserved to be loved. Deep rooted wounds of rejection and abandonment covered every square inch of my heart like cancer invades the body. As a result, I gave the ho-hum approach to prayer – halfheartedly pray because nothing would come true anyway.  I’ve learned that prayers are answered when you believe.

3. Educate myself on the real meaning of love.

Apparently, I was taught the wrong meaning of love. Life gave me a second class education on that subject. My knowledge of the word and my approach to it was totally wrong. I thought in order to receive love, you had to be perfect – blameless, no imperfections. I thought the person you were in love with had to be perfect too. You had to have the perfect little union, you know, do everything right all the time.

As this former teacher heads back into the classroom, I am presented with a new teacher and a new syllabus. I am learning that love is more than compassion, romance, laughter, and warmth. It is intrusive. It pops its head in without a notice or an invitation. It’s persistent and somewhat direct. It’s messy and a tad on the crazy side – impractical, erratic, and unusual.

It’s not perfect, but it’s genuine, thoughtful, and respectful. It creates a soft place in your hardened heart, leaves a smile on your face, and it leaves you hungry for more.

4. Accept the invitation to love.

God’s been knocking on the door of my heart for years now, but I never really let Him in. I couldn’t, I wouldn’t for fear of letting go of control and honoring my vow to never be hurt again. God was persistent. He sent various vessels of love my way. Finally, I accepted and He began to heal my fears of rejection and unworthiness – wounds that have haunted me for most of my life.

5. Defeat the enemy – myself.

I was born to act. I played many parts on stage and in my own life. My most frequent role was the enemy. I carried around feelings of disbelief, doubt, and unworthiness for most of my life.

I fully gave myself to others, like in my performances, but never opened up the door to receive the love that I deserved.  As the door is opened, kind words like,  “you are beautiful”, “you are brilliant”, “you are inspiring”, rush in unleashing belief. They melt away the layers of my frigid heart a little at a time. With every word I swallow, the wound dies a little bit more till eventually there is no more.

6. Close the door to the past.

Recently, I read this quote “How do you know when it’s over? Maybe when you feel more in love with your memories, than with the person standing in front of you.” My response, “I think you know when your heart has made the connection that the mind already knows. It’s over and it has been over.”

After making this connection, I wrote a letter to the great love of my life – the one whom I thought I would marry. I thanked him for reviving my lifeless heart and discreetly said goodbye.

7. Swim in a pool of vulnerability.

The book Daring Greatly by Brene Brown challenged me to take a risk and walk head on into vulnerability and engage with my whole heart.

Every day we experience the uncertainty, risks, and emotional exposure that define what it means to be vulnerable, or to dare greatly. Whether the arena is a new relationship, an important meeting, our creative process, or a difficult family conversation, we must find the courage to walk into vulnerability and engage with our whole hearts.

Instead of walking, I belly-flopped in. It was painful at first, but I find myself  lounging around in the pool with no immediate plans of getting out.

8. Build something new – trust.

This brings me to the present – the middle of the year.  I am in a place of rebuilding. Love completely bulldozed the strong, impassable tower which I labored over for years and left me with new land to build on. I am building confidence in someone based on their word, their character, and their actions. I am building trust.

As I write this, I am overcome with waves of emotions. I choke back tears as I stroll down memory lane, revisiting the stops along this journey. The short journey has been filled with bumps in the road, but the closer I get to destination, the easier the path becomes.

If you were to survey your own road to love, what would it look like? Would you still be wrapped up in yourself? Would you be too afraid to love again? Do you feel unworthy of love? Would you still be hung up in the past hoping things would work out? Better yet, would you be taking risks and building something new?

Your response will be different just like your road to love is different. I think it doesn’t necessarily matter how you travel it, just as long as you reach the final destination 🙂

Stay tuned for a post year recap…

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The List

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Man falls from the pursuit of the ideal of plan living and high thinking the moment he wants to multiply his daily wants. Man’s happiness really lies in contentment. – Mahatma Gandhi

The closing of the fifth month of the year indicates that school is out for summer. Summer break equates freedom – freedom from alarm clocks, textbooks, rules, and homework. Summer symbolizes playing outside, swimming in the pool, relaxing in the sun, lounging on patios, and soaking up cool summer nights. After being cooped up for months in hibernation, it is time to come out of the dark cave we have been living in, stretch our legs, and breathe in fresh air.

My sweet six-year-old niece Madison knows the importance of summer. She jumped at the chance to plan her summer in detail. She mapped out her to-do list by what she wanted to do outside and what she wanted to do inside. the list

That list is so sweet, so pure, and innocent. It brings tears to my eyes just reading it.

  1. Swim in the pool.
  2. Work in the garden.
  3. Play board games.
  4. Paint.
  5. Go to Dollar Tree (a girl after my own heart) 🙂

When I first saw this list, I screamed “NO!!!” Actually, it was more like a reenactment of Joan Crawford’s tirade in Mommy Dearest when she discovered Christina was using wire hangers. “NO WIRE HANGERS!” Part of my soul commends here for her level of detail as I am a planner myself. I love order, I crave it actually. The other part of my soul cries “not her too”. She has fallen victim to lists, just like me.

There is something so satisfying about checking something off the list. The clicking sound of the pen, and the crinkly sound the paper makes as they meet for the first time as words are crossed off the page. It sends a surge of satisfaction through me. Another task completed. Another day controlled.

  1. Buy shampoo and toothpaste at Target.
  2. Book my travel for my work conference.
  3. Never trust anyone again.
  4. Pick up bananas and eggs at the grocery store.
  5. Never let anyone hurt me again.
  6. Pack a bathing suit and sunscreen for the weekend trip to the lake.
  7. Never let anyone in.

Lists provide structure and organization, keep us grounded and productive, and exhibit a sense of control.  However, they leave little room for spontaneity and random encounters of happiness along the way.

If we are not careful, our nose will be so buried in them we will forget to look up and around at the world swiftly passing us by. We lose sight on what is really important – the granular details that cannot be captured on paper.

God has been heavily dealing with me and my lists – meeting my husband, publishing my book, and moving up the corporate ladder. My focus has been down and not up and on the what and not the who. I forget that God is in control and He already has everything mapped out so perfectly. I’m so focused on checking something off my list, that I forget to just be.

We complicate life with our lists and our plans, but it is really simple after all. “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” – Psalm 37:4.  He knows our lists.  He actually authored them.

How awesome and magical would life be if we simply handed over the pen? What if we ceased striving, let go of our lists, and let life unfold organically?

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