Wednesday, April 29, 2015

What to take from pain

The last 5 weeks have been rough.
Painful. At times debilitating. Frustrating. Expensive.
It's often hard to see the forest for the trees.
It's often hard to see the beauty in the ashes.
It's often hard to remember that brokenness is a season, an opportunity, a blessing.

But until that holy shift in perspective comes, it just feels like a gloomy day; a day where the sun is hiding and the light has gone away.

I am a sort-of runner. I say sort of because if there was a different "thing" I could do that would reap the same benefits for the same cost (ie. free), then I would probably do that instead. I don't love running per say. I'm more of a team sport kind of person. But I have discovered running is good for my mental health as well as my physical health...mostly.

I am a sort-of soccer player. I say sort of because I really love soccer, but I'm not terribly talented at it. I can hold my own on the turf, and I'm smart so I make up for my lack of skill with an overabundance of firing synapses. I play on a team where the average age is probably 40 so none of us are gonna be world class players--ever. But we have fun and it's good exercise and I like the folks I play with.

Combine the two, plus a 38 year old body, and sometimes that body doesn't cooperate like it did a decade ago. Thus my last 5 weeks.

It was my own fault. I knew my lower back wasn't right. There was pain for quite a few weeks and that pain wasn't really going away and every time I played, I aggravated an already aggravated issue. I let the issue compound itself and build into and upon itself until one game, my back told me, in no uncertain manner, that I was done. DONE.

I had crazy pain. Pain that I might just equate to labor pain. It was horrible. And awful. And excruciating. And constant.

I was sad. To put it mildly.

And as I sought treatment for that issue, I realized that while I was relatively fit, parts of my body had been sorely neglected and were now sending that message in quite an unfriendly manner. The realigning of my lower back sent my hip flexors into a revolt against the rest of my lower body. For those anatomy buffs, the hip flexor (aka the psoas) I've learned connects to the interior of some of those lower back vertebrae so when you start moving those, then the hip flexors resist, which pulls on the hips which irritates the IT band which then irritates some other muscles. It's super awesome. So these last weeks have played out like some crazy dramedy (you know-- drama plus comedy) which should've been cancelled before it began. I say dramedy because pain is drama. There's no getting around that. But to an outsider who's watching me slowly get in and out of my car, it's probably pretty funny.

I have come to have a great appreciation for how God has designed us. And I have also come to realize that fixing one issue often peels back the veil on several other issues. Or deeper issues.

So it goes with our souls. We might find ourselves dealing with fear and then we find ourselves dealing with anxiety and avoidance and denial and faith because of the fear. It's never just about the one thing. God sees us holistically so He also deals with us holistically. He peels back the layers of our hidden selves to see what we deem unseemly.

He plucks those unseemly bits like so many weeds and He doesn't mess around. When we surrender, He goes for the gusto and yanks the whole root out so that that weed is good and gone. But what's left is a raw and gaping hole where all that weed used to be. In His goodness, He doesn't leave us to our own devices because we'd go right back and fill that hole up with the first thing we could find that might sort-of fit. Instead, God offers us the very essence of Himself, His goodness, His grace, His love and as His grace flows down, those holes are filled with the stuff of holiness and grace. God straight up sanctifies those holes and what grows from the beauty He plants are vines laden with abundant fruit.

When I ignore my brokenness, my pain, my fear and try to bury it, the issue only gets worse and again, it becomes a mess derived of my own creation. Pretending something isn't there is a sort of perverted creating because it doesn't go away and the act of ignoring gives permission for that "thing" to then become.

Procrastination in doing, in surrendering, in addressing an injury does not speed healing. It negates healing. Denial of an injury does not promote healing. It prevents healing.
It doesn't really matter what the injury is or where the injury is.
And if 'injury' is too literal for you, replace it with 'brokenness.' That works, too.

I've learned some important lessons these last 5 weeks:

Embracing the pain and breathing through the pain help immensely with perspective. It's a season. If I'd addressed it earlier, the season might have been much shorter, but there are consequences for procrastination and denial. Thus the importance of breathing.

Rest is good. Rest promotes healing. Inside and out. Body and soul. While forced rest isn't always what we might order, I have found it's often what He orders when we've ignored the signs and symptoms for too long.

Jesus is faithful. Even when I don't understand all the ways my body freaks out, I can hold fast to the knowledge that He knows exactly what's not right since He knit me together. The Creator knows which offers me some peace when I don't know.

Broken things take time to un-break. I can't say that I'm back to fighting form yet. I'm better than I was a week ago and for that I'm grateful. But since I didn't break in a day but over a span of months, it's unrealistic to think that I can be put back together in a week or two. Healing takes time. (I know, you're probably saying "Duh, I know that" but this mama apparently forgets these simple truths sometimes!).

Little victories lead to big victories. I have to celebrate the small triumphs so I can keep my head, keep my peace, keep my wits. And the accumulation of small victories leads to those bigger victories that become stones of remembrance in a season where it's not just about the pain, which I'd like to forget, but about how Jesus met me right there in the middle of it.

Grace always Rises,

Hey there, I'm linked up today with some lovely ladies: Holley Gerth at Coffee for your Heartand Jennifer Dukes Lee at #TellHisStory.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

When Grace Flows Down

 It was a hard Saturday.
There was an issue with the Eldest.
More specifically, with her room. 
Or rather all the stuff in her room that manages, in a very short time period, to unearth itself from where her parents have shown her to put it and to migrate to some other location that's not GPS accessible.
Her room is rough.

She couldn't find her soccer jersey.
Or her shorts.
And all the places where those items should be kept did not contain those items.
And all the other possible and impossible locations did not contain those items either.

I am a master at finding lost things.  (ALL mamas are master lost-thing finders. Amen?!)
And I was worried. And that worry quickly translated to frustration because in the process of looking for her uniform, I found a plethora of other things in unapproved locations.
(Read: Her room was a hot mess.)

So I let her know I was frustrated in a very loud and frustrated way. 
Perhaps not one of my finer mama moments, but there was no doubt as to my message and we have had versions 1.0, 2.0, and 3.0 of this conversation in the last several weeks so I felt my message needed to be communicated in a way she really couldn't misunderstand.

She was to stay in her room and clean it. Every inch, every drawer, every surface.
I removed my frustrated self from her room and up to my room so I could breathe.

She cried. 

And while I was practicing my breathing, I had a grace epiphany.
And I'm finding these grace epiphanies happen not because my children need grace, 
though they do, but because I desperately need grace, and when I need it most is when I'm having a not-so-fine-need-to-practice-my-breathing mama moment.
And this was definitely one of those moments.

I needed to have a moment with the Eldest and make this a different kind of lesson where perhaps there could be a different, more graceful, message that maybe would settle in her deep.
And one which would settle deep in my heart.

The Eldest came upstairs, cheeks splotchy, eyes puffy.
"Mama, I'm sorry for my room."
Her voice hitched on the last word and her eyes welled up again.

I held her and breathed Holy Spirit words that weren't my words because when they left my mouth,
I realized they were meant for me, too.

"Sweet girl, I love you. I am frustrated with what you did. With how you've been keeping your room. I am not frustrated with who you are. I love who you are and I know sometimes my frustration is not always nice and it might seem like I'm frustrated with who you are."
I laid my hand on her heart, really maybe it was my own heart, too.
"I love who you are. I'm frustrated with what you do. I always love you. Does that make sense?"

She nodded her head, sighed, and spent a great majority of the day purging her room.
And doing it with a joyful heart.

And I even helped.

And those words settled in, are still settling in, somewhere deep in me, too. 
I admit that I sometimes show great impatience with the Eldest.
And I start to see her through the lens of my frustration and my impatience.
I lose sight of who she is and 
that who she is cannot be the sum of what she does.
 I lose sight of what she needs because of who she is.

We are not what we do.
Oh sure, sometimes who we are dictates our choices and our words.
Sometimes what we do can determine what we become. 
But who we are, our identity, our core, our value, our worth, 
is not determined by the things we do.

God's love for me is not based on what I've done, what I'll do.
It's because of what He did.
It's because He calls me His Beloved.
He calls the Eldest His Beloved.
He calls you His Beloved.

As in He's in love with us.
And He wants us to BE LOVED.
That doesn't change.

If His love for me was based on my behavior, I'd be sunk. I'd be lost and sad and hopeless.

I'm a child of the King and sadly, I don't always act like one.
The Eldest is a child of the King and I don't always parent her like one.
Many days I parent her according to what she does. Or doesn't do.
And instead of consistently parenting her in a way that reflects who she is and what she needs,
I'm reactive and not responsive. 
And it doesn't' mean I'm not disciplining her actions, but it means that my discipline must also nurture her soul because what's discipline without care, without thought, without nurture?
It's just rules and regulations. Legalism without grace.
She is so much more than what she does.
We all are.

When that Holy Spirit breath moved out of me, I saw my own actions, my own doings, my own rebellions, and how far off the mark I so often am. And how grateful I am God grants me grace after grace and doesn't give me what I deserve.

How often my actions or my words are the very opposite of who I am, of who He says I am.
And God still doesn't treat me according to what I might deserve.
He disciplines. Which means I might have consequences.
But He keeps covering me with grace.
He keeps loving me.
He keeps me.

Parenting children is all about grace.
How often I seem to forget that. Forget grace.
How different my Saturday might have been if I'd not been moved by a moment. 
Our day was transformed because it was moved by grace and not anger, grace instead of frustration.
My heart was moved because I gave up my parenting agenda in lieu of a much greater one.

 Because He offers me grace, I could offer her grace
And all that Holy Spirit grace carried me right up in rolling rivers of it.

Grace Always Rises,

Hey there, I'm linked up today with some lovely ladies: Holley Gerth at Coffee for your Heartand Jennifer Dukes Lee at #TellHisStory.