Posted in Mental health, Parenting

Crying at the Rink

They came, finally. The tears. Yesterday, in a flood… releasing the overwhelm, frustration, and confusion that had consumed me for weeks. It felt good. My boys looked at me questioningly, as I puttered about with laundry and dishes, sobbing in between loads.

“I’m fine,” I told them, “just a little bit upset.” They nodded knowingly, with endearing concern in their eyes, before continuing on with their games and chatter.

This second lockdown has got me feeling like I am losing my mind. In addition, my church is experiencing conflicts that are dividing the congregation and resulting in hurt feelings on both sides. I have felt exhausted, emotional, invisible, and value-less.

And I finally told somebody.

“Some days are good,” I had typed in the email to her, “but I’ve had more bad days lately than I’d like to admit. Maybe you can pray for me.”

“Yes, I get it,” came the reply. “I would LOVE to pray for you.”

Was it her simple acknowledgment that my feelings were valid? The immediate effect of her prayers? Or the fact that I am learning to be more vocal about my concerns, whatever the outcome, as opposed to veiling them in some kind of ridiculous, prideful, even fearful – stoicism?

Whatever the case, I felt as though I had put down about seven suitcases full of bricks.

But I was still sad. Once the tears began, they didn’t want to stop.

“Are you coming skating?” My nine year old asked, his hope unhindered by my sorry state.

“I don’t think so,” I said deeply, through my stuffed up nose. My body and mind were weary. And the neighbors might see my tears.

“Ok,” he replied, and was off.

“Mo-om,” my youngest pleaded, “I want to go-oh.”

His persistence brought a smile to my lips. “Oh, alright,” I conceded, “let’s go.”

Ski pants. Boots. Gloves, coats, hats. Boy and skates in the wagon. Skate trainer in hand. Stepping onto the street, we squinted against the sun, and made our way to the rink.

A short time later, gliding over the ice, the cold air dried my tears, and freshened my lungs. A neighbor came to stand beside the rink and chat. Discretely, he held a cigarette between his fingers, not wanting my children to see. He was the one who had set up the rink for the community.

“I’ve seen you out here,” he said to my oldest. “I’ve seen your red jacket out here a lot.” Then, to me – “The last thing you want is to set something like this up, and have no one use it.”

A few minutes after he had returned to his house, a woman came by, walking her dog. “Having a nice skate?” she called. My boys engaged her conversation, in their typically nonchalant way.

“Can I pet your dog?”

“If you like dogs, you can pet her,” and she released the animal from its leash. We learned she was a therapy dog, and that her name was “Claire Bear”. The woman said she didn’t have children (other than Claire). She was on a walk to deliver a gift to a friend. She held a small gift bag in one hand. Later, I wondered if she lived alone (aside from Claire). What kind of loneliness must that be, at a time like this?

The skate was over too soon, even though I hadn’t wanted to come. “Let’s go home. I have to make supper.”

“What are you making?” (The daily, suspense-laden question.)

“Spaghetti.” Cheers, all around.

On the short walk home, I thought about our community. The rink. The Christmas lights. The people. My boys, and their unfettered positivity.

I felt better. All divisive issues aside, we need each other. The woman who prayed for me, the man who set up the rink, the woman with the sweet dog. Where do they stand on everything? Who knows. Who cares. One thing is for certain: we’re all in this together.

“I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.”

Mother Teresa

A simple question for today: How are you doing? Let me know in the comments.

Warm wishes,

Lisa

Posted in Faith

You’re His Favorite

Sometimes, tears come quickly, while words come slowly.  That’s what it has been like for me, the first part of this summer.  I’m not sure why.  I’ve been enjoying the glorious weather, warm waters to swim in, camping, and being with friends and family.

But in addition to these pleasantries, it was like some kind of switch flipped in my brain, and I was suddenly swamped with memories.  Both good and bad.  Forget memory lane – this was a vast network – hundreds of winding, meandering paths.

I realized a few things.  They came together, began to make sense, and were shed with new light.

I speak often of God, the Holy Spirit; His comfort, and His healing.  I honestly didn’t intend for this blog to be so full of spiritual themes.  But I can’t help it.

He has been with me in a special way, lately.  I sense His love, and His kindness.  He loves me in a way that no one else has ever been able to match.  He knows what I need, at every moment.

He gently prods away at my past, helping me to understand it.  I feel His compassion.  He cares too much about my hurts, to let them lie buried forever.  He reminds me of them and is showing me how to heal.

And perhaps most importantly, He tells me that I am enough.  He sees my innermost thoughts and feelings as worthy of respect and love.  He reminds me to be careful, who I allow in.

I know that opinions are divided on the book/movie “The Shack,” even among Christians.  However, there is one thing that I think the story got right.  In several instances, God is quoted as saying: “I’m particularly fond of him,” “I’m particularly fond of her,” etc., until the main character comes to realize that this God is “particularly fond” of every person.

Lately, this truth has gotten down into my heart.  I feel like I am His favorite.  Like His entire attention is on me.  And if there is one message I would like you to take from this post, let it be:

God is particularly fond of you.  You are His favorite.  His entire attention, is on you.

His way of relating to you may be different from what I have described here, just as I relate in different ways to each of my two sons.  One is an energetic chatterbox who tells me everything that is on his mind at every moment.  He wants me to listen to his stories and loves it when I do activities of all kinds with him.  My other son talks less, but has a sly sense of humor, and has been cracking me up ever since he could string two words together.  He likes it when I tickle him, and he’ll often just come and lean up against me, or climb onto my lap and lounge there.  They are so different, and I delight in them both.

So it is, I believe, with God.  All of His children are so very different.  And He delights in each one.

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If you’re hurting, He wants to bring you healing and freedom.  If you have been abused, or are being abused, He can show you how to get free.  If you hate yourself, He can reveal the goodness inside you that He created and knows so well.  If you are stricken by fear, He can become your safe place – the one place where you can rest.

I will leave you with a song that has become my summer anthem.  I feel as though it is the cry of my own heart, through the mouths and instruments of other people…as if I could have written it myself.

It’s hard to believe in the goodness of God, until you have experienced it yourself, or, until you hear the stories of people who have encountered Him.  People who have tasted, and seen, and invite you to do the same.  This is the strength of our stories.  Our testimonies.  Share yours.  Listen to those of others.  It’s all just too good to miss.  

And remember: you’re His favorite.

“Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.”
Psalms 34:8 NIV

 

Posted in Faith

Love Blockers

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
1 Corinthians 13:4‭-‬7 ESV

Well, the holidays are nearly over.  Feeling a little grumpy?  Feeling overwhelmed?  I know I am.  Clutter, noise, excitement, being away from home, socializing, and breaking from the gentle routines that soothe me will leave me feeling depleted.  I see it in my kids, too.  Yesterday my 3 year old cried nearly the entire day and didn’t seem to know how to do anything except get into trouble.  My 8 year old didn’t want to leave the couch (and I didn’t make him).  They both went to bed an hour ahead of their usual bedtimes.

I didn’t do much better – just drifted around the house, and very slowly picked up, sorted through, or cleaned the aftermath of all our merriment – trying to ease my anxiety by restoring order.  (First world problems, right?)

Christmas was fun, but man, we’re tired.

And it’s at times like this that we’ll lose sight of why we did it all in the first place.

Why did we celebrate Christmas?  Isn’t it all about love?  Jesus and His love, and the way we’re all supposed to love each other?

I don’t always feel like being loving.  As I laid in bed the other night, I confessed this.  And I asked the Lord: what is blocking me?

The answers may lie in a chapter of the Bible that has been made famous by weddings everywhere.  But let us be clear: these words are not only for weddings!  They hold the keys to the things that trip us up; that throw us off of our love game.

Impatience

“Are you done or not?” “Hurry up.” “Either do this or I’ll do it for you.”

Few things tax my patience like assisting a 3 year old with his frequent, long-drawn-out, slow-pokey trips to the bathroom.

But patience, is what is required.  Impatience, is a love-blocker.

Envy

Don’t even get me started on this one.  Everywhere I look, there is something to envy.  Homes, relationships, physical attributes, clothes, wealth, success, talent, recognition, vacations, accomplishments…even spiritual experiences!

It’s a daily struggle.  It’s a love blocker.

My way or no way

“It’s fine if you want to get together, but if it’s not on my schedule, then too bad.”

“Oh gross, didn’t we eat (fill in the blank) last year?”

“What a lousy gift.  Why did they even bother?”

“There’s no way I’m driving that far.”

Let me be clear, personal boundaries are allowed.  If you can’t accommodate the way others want you to do things, there is a way to decide that with a clear head (after you confess your offense/anger to God and let it go).  And then, to communicate your decision to them kindly.

But getting in a huff over it, and holding on to resentment, and NEVER being willing to adjust your plans or preferences to accommodate those of others?  Major love blockers.

Rejoicing at wrongdoing

“Uh, what’s that juicy bit?  Tell it again, I may have missed it.”

Proverbs 18:8 (NIV) says that “The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts.”  I think this is a very vivid, pointed verse.  Are you familiar with that little leap of excitement you feel on the inside, when you hear about some kind of scandal?  Especially if it’s someone you’re angry with or envious of, because their wrongdoing or misfortune either substantiates your position, or makes you feel better about yourself.

I am learning to check my heart, and if there’s anything in there besides love and concern for the person being spoken of, not participate in the conversation.

Impatience, envy, “my way or no way,” and rejoicing at wrongdoing.  4 major love blockers.  I’m acquainted with them…are you?

Response

Lord, I confess that I’m rarely as loving as I want to be.  Thank you for these verses, which help me to understand some of the reasons why.  I’m sorry for being impatient, envious, wanting my own way, and rejoicing at wrongdoing.  You are the only one who can help me to conquer these things, so I ask you to help me, please.

I know that to me, nothing feels better than being truly and genuinely loved.  Please give me the capacity to extend that to others, in an authentic way, so they can experience the amazing feeling of being loved, and so I can be of good use to your purposes while I am here on earth.

Amen.