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Posts Tagged ‘NSCO’

Face to Face

Early last week we returned from visiting my family in Ohio. It was a pretty normal trip for me, except that I needed to ask something particular of my mother.

Now, my mom and I aren’t particularly close, and that’s mostly my doing. I’ve been a challenge from the outset, and I can totally own that. But over the last three months I’ve been having some really painful, disgusting memories of things that happened to me at the hands of my father during my toddlerhood.

The Not-So-Casual Observer and I have been working from those memories as if they were true because, well, I have all the symptoms a person would exhibit. But I felt like I needed to know the truth for myself. I’d been praying during the week leading up to the trip that if I was supposed to tell my mother what I remembered, Jesus would make a clear opportunity.

He did.

The first night, I told mom that my father had been in contact with me, and that I was really confused because I remembered X, Y, and Z (general types of abuse, the one I really wanted to know about tucked in there). Not only did she not deny it, she quietly nodded and said, “Uh huh.” I didn’t press, but I did mention the particular kind of abuse a second time, and again, same response.

Sooo, goodbye denial, hello Jesus. And counseling. I hadn’t told the NSCO I was considering talking to my mom about it since I’m only seeing her every other week and hadn’t really decided by our previous appointment, so when I sat down and told her the day after we got back, she was a little stunned. Wide-eyed and slack-jawed, actually. She didn’t actually SAY much about what I’d done, but she was clearly surprised. It was kinda priceless.

Yesterday I had counseling again, trying to work out this Father fathering issue. It’s not pretty, this thing. I don’t like it one. little. bit. Jesus is trying to get me into the presence of the Father, but I’m totally resistant. Yesterday in my session He said there’s something I fear too much to even name and, given the intensity of what I’ve already dealt with, that doesn’t bode well.

This morning He told me something I’ve seen hints of in isolated moments but haven’t wanted to believe, still don’t want to believe. There may be another conversation with my mother in my future, because this one might just drive me crazy, and I have another 15 days until processing with NSCO. Arg.

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I’ve been learning to grieve these last couple of months, and it’s been a real challenge. A month or so ago I placed an open call for songs of lament, and my friend Rachael (besties starting in sixth grade) came through with a Beth Hart song called Lifetime. It’s ripping me to shreds right about now, but in a really holy way.

Of course, since I had counseling today, the Not-So-Casual Observer got a head start on the shredding. We’re just starting to delve into the idea of being fathered by the Father, and I squirm and writhe under the fear-slash-hope of this process. I wish I had counseling every week, but I’m grateful that Jesus trusts me enough to do this with an appointment only every other.

There is more to say, more that begs to come out of my fingertips, but my spirit asks me to hide it away for just a while longer. And so I will, as I’m learning to listen to what I didn’t even know I needed. Oh, so much to say. Sigh.

But back to the song. It’s my life, my past. It’s my radio and, “don’t call, the truth ain’t home.” If you need a good cry, this should get you there.

 

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Dearth

I feel really void right now. There are so many thing whooshing and swirling and rushing together in my head right now, and they won’t just settle in their little pockets of thought. I want to give voice to the cacophony in my head, but I’m just not able right now.

My trip home went well.There will probably be more to say at some point, but just now I’m guarding it pretty jealously.

Last night I had the gift of processing with the Not-So-Casual Observer. That’s atypical; she said last night that she loves how I process, and that together we usually process (in session) what I’ve already processed (at home). Since we got back late Sunday night, though, I hadn’t had the time to work through stuff before we met, and it was nice to let her have a voice in it, walk with me through it. I don’t really ever do that. It was welcome and beautiful. It was trust.

And now I’m gushing.

Tonight I will again have the gift of sharing with friends (God willing). It feels like ripples in a pond, my life right now. I experience things myself, then share with NSCO and the Music Man, then a small group of people, then out there in the world. I think that means it’s going deep.

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During my last session with the Not-So-Casual Observer, I was lamenting God’s apparent love of present participles. It’s the “-ing” that kills me. Refin-ing, restor-ing, heal-ing. Never past tense, never refined, restored, healed. There’s always something that needs to be fixed, redeemed.

Today, I was sweeping the floor and a Phillips,Craig, and Dean song called Your Grace Still Amazes Me. The bridge came on and, since I seem to know the words to like every song I’ve ever heard, I was singing along without really thinking.

In those lyrics, I heard Jesus whisper, “It just keeps getting better.” If I were healed, whole, and perfected on this side of eternity, I wouldn’t know His love any deeper, His grace any wider, His peace any higher than I do today. Getting to know it more, that is the mystery. It’s what makes our lives worth living.

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Some months ago I was telling the Not-So-Casual Observer about how therapy is like giving birth. What I didn’t know then was that I was right, and that I’d actually be called upon to do this thing. Now I’m able to find comfort in my own writing, isn’t that sweet of Jesus?  He gave me the thing I needed months before I needed it, so today I could roll it around in my palm like a marble, smooth and glassy and cool.

The previous six months have been like pregnancy. The NSCO and I have been building trust, knitting together my stories and feelings with her reactions like connecting bone to sinew. Now it’s time to give birth, and I am as prepared as you can be when you’re walking into the unknown.

She calls herself a midwife. I’m glad that, though she’s never given birth in the natural, and despite the myriad things that can go wrong, she’s attended births as they’ve come through the pain of the past. I am excited to experience my own birth, to discover its nuance, its rhythm. I am grateful.

What I know is merely this: that it already hurts mightily, and will hurt more. That right before the breakthrough, I will think I am being drawn into death’s grip. That I am being ripped in two by some invisible force whose rumblings make me pause and steady myself, grateful for the temporary relief but braced for the next wave of anguish. It’s job is to wrest this life from my death grip, to squeeze out the muck and present this new thing, slippery and fragile, but strong and flexible.

Rest in the tension.
Peace in the pain.
Authentic transformation.
Transition — the sum of all grace.

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Kairos

*What follows is an experience I had with Jesus a few weeks ago. When I told the Not-So-Casual Observer about it, she asked me to write it down and submit it to Epi. Since it was published yesterday there, I’m posting it here today.

“It’s a real risk, and a real choice,” echoes the voice of the one whom I have trusted to walk with me. I quake inwardly, almost imperceptibly, knowing she’s right.  An ultimatum lingers, an austere dare of self; I hug myself in tight and wait for Jesus.

I reorient myself in this waiting place, this hidden space where soul and spirit rush together.  As my awareness grows, I am awed at the expanse of gray swallowing my field of vision. “What is that?” I reel with sudden vertigo.

From the cloak of the periphery, my Jesus speaks. He tells me that it is my wall, the construct of defenses I use to keep myself safe and others out. I am the storied princess locked in castle tower, but instead of a wicked stepmother bearing the precious key, I am my own jailor.

I pelt Him with questions. “Can I scale the wall?” Impossible, He says, for there are no footholds. “Could I tear through it myself?” He laughs softly, kindness in His eyes. It would take decades. Now desperate, I make my last-ditch plea, “May I tunnel under?” He replies that it would crush me.

Jesus offers to move it like a mountain into the sea, but I refuse. Terror of the unknown overshadows my fragile trust in the goodness of my Savior; I have not yet seen what lies beyond. We seem to be at an impasse, and I hang my head in shame.

After a moment, He offers to swing the pickaxe and allow me to control the pace. I assent, and He begins to labor. A jagged chunk of rock soon falls to the ground. I heft it into my arms and struggle under the weight of this stone named “unwillingness,” then move it into a pile designated for rubble.  So it begins, and so it goes.

As the weeks pass, I look forward to this time with Jesus at the wall. The familiar sound of metal waging war against rock somehow soothes as I tote away the ruin of my defenses. A reverent goodbye falls from my lips — a requiem to the fear of knowing — and Truth comes. Afraid to feel soon grudgingly follows. Day by day, Jesus appears and we labor together.

One morning I come eager to work, but He declares it a day of lingering, a mid-stream Sabbath. I rail against the waiting, the agony of feeling ready to move on but hearing a sovereign, “no.” He calls me to deep rest, for this is where I will recover my life. As breathing slows, trust returns. I collapse like an exhausted child.

By and by, a gift awaits. His work and my willingness have created a clearing in the massive expanse of mortar and stone, fear and control. Jesus grins broadly and asks if I am willing to see beyond. Tentatively, I peer into the distance. ­­The laws of physics are briefly suspended, because I hear before I see,

“O afflicted one, storm-tossed and not comforted,

Behold I will set your stones in antimony

And your foundations I will lay in sapphires

Moreover, I will make your battlements in rubies, and your gates of crystal,

And your entire wall of precious stones.” Is 54:11-12

Beyond this grotesque, monochrome barricade I’ve constructed stands a dazzling wall. The difference is so profound that I am struck dumb. As I walk toward this precious, indeed priceless, structure, I begin to process His words.

My foundations are laid in sapphires; staid, substantial blue. My battlements are made of rubies; I am to fight from a heart place, for a heart place. My gates are crystal; boundaries sure but transparent. And my wall, oh, my wall. I’ve never seen anything so spectacular and I am certain that I do not deserve such extravagance. My cheeks burn, even upon seeing the Giver’s tender hope that I will accept His offering.

I feel the delicate rhythm of my heart rising from the ground and know with certainty that it’s time to see beyond the facade. Gingerly placing a hand atop the ledge and stretching on tip of toe, I peer at this battered, barely functioning center of life. I lament the years I’ve lived with distance masquerading as safety, far away from authenticity, from Jesus.

He invites me to meet with Him here from now on, at the wall He’s given me.  The old will crumble unaided, He says, and for the first time I realize just how hard I had to work to keep it in good repair. I ask Him if I can pick up the rubble as it falls, but Jesus asks if instead I would allow Him to be my groundskeeper. I protest, still groping for a way to achieve my way into grace.

He’d rather I simply dwell here, for I have much to learn about living in such close proximity to my heart. He says he doesn’t want my energy wasted on picking up trash when I should be cultivating life. Jesus beams at me. How could I do anything but obey?

He turns to take His leave, kissing my forehead and affirming my faithfulness. He loved enough to exchange my bartering for grace, to heal before I sensed the wound. It was a real risk, and a real choice. I have chosen life.

 

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Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor.” –Romans 12:10

Lately I’ve been thinking about what it means to be preferred. Apparently it’s not enough to be created on purpose, now I have to be, as the Not-So-Casual Observer said yesterday, “one of the most amazing people God ever created.” Yes, she’s pushing my buttons. Yes, she knows it. I suspect that she likes it. 🙂

Anyhow, so Jesus and I were hanging out, talking about being preferred. I told Him that if someone had ten invitations to a party and it came down to me and another person for that last spot, I don’t believe I’d be the one chosen. And do you know what He said in response? “Why couldn’t you be in the top nine?”

Gulp.

Then just a few minutes later, “Why couldn’t you be first?

A couple weeks ago I entered a contest on the Nester’s blog. I won this absolutely adorable set of decorative blocks, which is awesome since I’ve got decorating fever right now. When I checked my faithful Google reader, I saw God’s hand. When you look at the list of winners, I was first. Sweet, sweet Jesus.

Enter this morning. A few weeks ago, the NSCO assigned me some homework to write about an experience with God for our church newsletter (really more of a writer’s corner).* I grudgingly did it, but I wasn’t happy about it. 🙂 Today Epi came out for this two-month period, and there was my piece. First.

I glanced at Cara sideways, but didn’t mention it. We chatted for a few minutes after the service and she said, “I didn’t put it there, (the guy who designs it) did the whole layout.”

Being preferred: it’s uncomfortable, it’s sweet, it’s learning to live in His faithfulness.

*The online version isn’t on our website yet. I’ll either post it or link to it when it is because I know SOMEONE will ask. 🙂

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