You Are Enough For Me.

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This has nothing to do with my post – I just thought it was the cutest picture in the world!

Sometimes, I wish I had more to offer this world than this sliver of online space I call my blog. Sometimes, I wish I could write an eloquent speech so moving it would bring healing to thousands of wounded hearts. Sometimes, I dream of big ambitions, of speaking to millions, of writing bestsellers, of having a movie made after me because I touched the lives of countless souls across the world.

Then. I remember. I am happy simply being me.

I smile at strangers in Starbucks. I say things like, “Excuse me. Can you please pass the half and half? Oh, and how’s your day going?” I listen to people tell me their stories. I listen to the undertones of their still-hurting hearts. I offer an ear and a compassionate, “I think I understand, and I’m sorry.”

This work is enough.

It is enough for me to simply touch one life, not the lives of millions.

I think?

I am smack dab in the middle of trying to find a therapeutic internship for next school year, and it feels like this internship will set the trajectory of my therapeutic career for the rest of my life.

The. Rest. Of. My. Life.

I am putting a lot of pressure on this internship. I am putting all my eggs in one basket. And I forget that my basket is bigger than I thought.

I forget that I am enough.

I recently ended a meaningful relationship, and the funny thing about endings, whether it’s breaking up with someone, moving away, or quitting a job, is the freedom (and urgency) to speak our minds. It feels like, “Shit! I only have these few minutes, or hours, or days, with this person and I need to say everything I’ve always wanted to say to them! If I don’t say it now, it will never be said. This is it!”

In our final conversation — you know, the one where there’s closure and crying and the ending becomes really real — I made every effort to think of everything I wanted to say, to make some kind of last-ditch, meaningful impact on him, and to be a sage. Instead, I was surprised by how much he impacted me. In that conversation, he reminded me of my strength and my beauty. He reminded me of how meaningful our relationship was to him, that it wasn’t just me who was moved by our care for one another. He reminded me that what I thought I wanted wasn’t what I actually wanted, but at that point it was too late.

I was reminded that I am enough. Just me. Enough.

I wonder how often we trick ourselves into thinking we’re not enough. We’re not good enough, smart enough, driven enough, pretty enough, thin enough, fat enough. Or, maybe you swing to the other end of the spectrum? Maybe you’re too much? You’re too loud, too funny, too organized, too ugly, too charming, too blonde, too smart, etc. etc. etc.

“Shame is the most powerful, master emotion. It’s the fear that we’re not good enough.” – Brene Brown

This is shame.

Like Brene says, shame tells us we’re not enough. Shame shames us into believing we’re not cut out, we have nothing to offer, we’re too much, or we’re not what the other person wants. Shame consumes our thinking, puts pressure on us to be different or better or perfect or nothing at all. Shame keeps us from rejoicing when it’s time for us to celebrate.

Shame steals our joy and lies to us about who we are.

So.

Who are you?

I will not impact the lives of millions of people. I won’t write any bestsellers, and I sure as hell won’t have a movie made after me. I have reconciled this desire to be more than I am, but the peace I have found has come from the understanding that I am already pretty great. I am okay being me. I know that I am enough.

Do you?

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Writing Hiatus: Over

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I woke up this morning and decided my hiatus from writing needs to end.

There’s nothing better than putting my thoughts into coherent words and sentences, but I feel like the stress of this year has hindered this process. Plus, when you have a million pages to read about psychotherapy, and a million of pages to write about psychotherapy, publishing a blog post about the Church being like a country club seems daunting and, quite frankly, insane.

So, just like that…Hiatus: Over!

More to come, I promise.

Why Are We So Mean?

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“Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.” — Proverbs 10:12 

Behind my kind eyes, smiling face, friendly attitude, and outgoing spirit is the capacity to say the cruelest, most hurtful things to another person. I have belittled, name called, and hurt the most beloved people in my life. Over the past few months, as I work through my own brokenness, I have come to realize how hurtful I can be, and I’m beginning the process of asking for forgiveness, especially of myself.

The old adage is right: “We hurt the ones we love the most.” Yet, why? Why are we so mean?

Psychologists would answer that our capacity to be mean to others stems from our capacity to be mean to ourselves. If we call someone a hurtful name, chances are we’ve spoken worse things to ourselves. Meanness comes from somewhere, it’s a learned character trait, and it’s often misguided and directed towards the ones we love the most, the ones whom we know love us back. Meanness is a symptom for lack of love — whether we were unloved as children, cast aside on the playground or bullied at school, or fail to have the capacity to love ourselves as adults. We learn to be mean from the people we surround ourselves with, but our meanness towards others bubbles up from the meanness we speak to ourselves.

Theologians would argue that meanness comes from sin. It’s an unfortunate consequence of the fall in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve ate some fruit and now we all have the capacity to be mean to each other. In fact, Adam was the first to blame Eve – “The man said, ‘The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.’” (Genesis 3:12) I wouldn’t necessarily accuse Adam of being mean per se, but I would definitely put blame in that category.

Meanness sprouts resentment and bitterness, not only towards someone we love, but towards ourselves (especially towards ourselves), which can deter us from our relationship with God. Meanness is often a battle within one’s inner world, as opposed to an external conflict with another. Being mean to a friend, partner, or spouse comes from an internal war within one’s self. Yet, the question I ask is this:

If we are at war with ourselves, is there room for the Spirit to reside?

Being mean creates a rift in relationship. Meanness causes a schism between you and your loved one, but it also causes a schism between us and God. I think this is why we see that much of Scripture speaks into how we should approach others and how we should see ourselves.

“But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.” – Colossians 1:22

I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” – Psalm 129:14b

“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” – Proverbs 15:1

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” – Ephesians 4:32

“I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.” – Song of Solomon 6:3a

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – John 13:34-35

“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” – Matthew 5:44

Meanness is both a psychological and a spiritual issue. Meanness lies at the jagged intersection of theology and psychology and it’s here where I find myself struggling with moving forward in kindness — towards others and especially towards myself.

My experience with bouts of meanness come directly from shame. I mess up, I make a mistake, and immediately an onslaught of shame rises in me, like boiling water. I can physically feel my face get hot and all I want to do is hide. Shame is the worst feeling in the world and I will go out of my way to rid myself of this wretched emotion. So, I throw it on someone else. I can’t bear my own shame, so I cast it onto someone else in the form of meanness and I walk away. However, the shame always comes back and it often comes back with a vengeance as I recall the hurtful words I spoke earlier to my beloved. Soon, I’m doubled over with shame and I’m stuck.

My meanness isn’t simply being a bully because I feel unloved. Yes, this definitely has something to do with it, but it’s the perfect storm of feeling unloved, ashamed, and afraid that I’m “too much” for the ones I care for the most. If I were to honestly communicate my feelings of shame and inadequacy to those I love, would they stick around? If they only knew, would they be willing to stay? Unfortunately, my narrative is dotted with people who have left, so I find myself taking opportunity to push others away with meanness, rather than risk rejection yet again. I crave consistent relationship with another, yet I push away in fear. It’s the unfortunate juxtaposition of, “Will you please come closer?” and “Too close! Get away from me!”

Why are we so mean? Everyone has their own story, but I’d bet it’s not much different from mine.

I find myself curious about love. If meanness stems from an internal bully who torments us in our brokenness, what would it look like if we began to love the bully, to love ourselves?

If we learn to love ourselves, we may be able to love others in return.

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” – 1 John 4:7 (NIV)

Spiritual Pressure.

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I originally wrote this on September 22, 2013. Almost two years later, I feel these words resonate so deeply with me still. May it bless you on your journey.

Someone once told me to rejoice in spiritual oppression because feeling opposition from evil means you’re doing something that Satan doesn’t like.

That sounds like a nice rhetoric, yet whilst in the middle of a spiritual battle , any feeling of joy is highly unlikely.

Anger.

Sadness.

Depression.

Pain.

These emotions have replaced my usual, optimistic outlook on life and I can’t figure out if it’s rooted in spiritual pressure or God’s gift of discipline.

Maybe it’s both?

The Bible talks a lot about God disciplining us, molding us like jars of clay, or teaching us to trust in Him. It’s not unusual to suffer in Christ, take up a cross, or, like Paul, struggle with a thorn in our literal or hypothetical side, but when it all comes down to it, how do we know the difference?

This is the ultimate theological “which came first: the chicken or the egg” types of questions:

Where is God in evil?

Maybe God is trying to teach me some altruistic life lesson? This is the Christianese, churchy, “trust in God” kind of answer that I’ve heard a couple times in the past few months from well meaning and loving friends. While it could be true, it doesn’t really help me at all. Instead, it’s just a spiritual band-aid on a bleeding wound.

If God is trying to teach me something, why do I hear lies running through my head all day? I’ve separated myself from my church family because I don’t fit in anymore. I’m consumed with negative self talk and thoughts that scare me while I’m laying in bed at night.

Does this really sound like God?

Now, I’m stuck. I’m left in this weird place of spiritual confusion and discouragement.

For someone who used to know all the answers, I’m at a loss for what’s happening in my life. Deep down, I know God is in my life somewhere, but when I can’t hear Him, see Him, or experience Him, I am left wondering where He’s hiding. I feel spiritually abandoned, like I don’t belong to anyone.

So, where is God in evil? Does He allow evil to happen for purpose or is it simply part of our broken world?

What do you think?

Something New.

 

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See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland. – Isaiah 43:19 (NIV)

My “Summer in the South” has ended and I am forever grateful for my time in North Carolina. I am grateful for Southern hospitality, sticky humidity that feels like a warm, wet blanket of love, fireflies that dance over grassy fields, and the deep slowness of Southern living. I’m grateful for the time I spent playing with my nieces, building forts, baking cupcakes, and trekking out to the beach for one disastrous camping adventure. What a glorious blessing to be able to gain distance and time from the heartbreak I left behind.

I’ve been back in Seattle for a few weeks and was greeted by the bipolar weather of the Pacific Northwest. Sunny days brought rainy mornings, which eventually led to a grand summer thunderstorm with grey, cloudy days. Seattle welcomes me with rain and I feel loved in this place, like I’ve come home from the longest journey of my life. Like the proverbial prodigal son.

Seattle has brought something beautiful and good and fresh. I have found a sense of newness my heart has been longing for. Coming back to Seattle brought me back to myself and I feel God has created something new in me. I feel new. I feel rebuilt and solid, with the strength of an oak tree, deeply rooted in rich, luscious soil.

I have been made into something new.

Today is my official move-out date from the house I’ve lived in for the past year. This year has been incredibly transformative and I have experienced a lot of heartbreak and grief. This house carries so many memories and beautiful moments, both of joy and despair. This newfound newness is perfectly symbolized in closing the door to this chapter of my life and the newness in my heart becomes even clearer.

As I say, “Goodbye,” I pray that God blesses this new chapter in my life. I pray that S/He continues to change my heart, continues to do the work in me that is forming me into something new — something closer to myself, closer to the woman I was created to be. I pray that God continues to work in the lives of those I love, especially the loved ones who have embarked on their own journey of transformation and change. I pray for strength and endurance, a ferocious tenacity to continue this work. I pray for lost friends and broken relationships, that God mends the brokenness in our hearts and reunites us when the time is right. I pray for new friendships and budding relationships, for blessings and glory to infuse itself in the fragrance of new life.

Most of all, I pray for this newness to permeate through my soul and bring about a peace that surpasses my understanding of this earthly life.

As I begin taking steps towards a new school year, I am joyful and excited to see heavenly plans unfold before me. I have a hunch God is going to surprise me this year. I feel new, yet God is not done yet. S/He isn’t finished with the work that has begun.

God is still working here.

Fighting When There’s Nothing Left.

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This post was originally published for The Seattle School of Theology & Psychology.

You can view the original post here.

“When the people we love or with whom we have a deep connection stop caring, stop paying attention, stop investing, and stop fighting for the relationship, trust begins to slip away and hurt starts seeping in.” – Brene Brown, Daring Greatly

About a year ago, a good friend named in me a fighter.

He said, “Kelsey, you are a fighter!”

In all my time on this earth, I had never been called a fighter before this unassuming moment, but as I look back on the narrative of my life, my friend saw something in me I wasn’t able to see in myself: a fighter. He was right. I am a fighter.

I have fought for myself and my sacred story. I have fought for the shame that seems impossible to beat, and the shame I see others carry. I have fought for my faith. I have fought for truth. I have fought when most other people would have given up.

I am a fighter. My war-torn heart tells of great battles fought, and my scars prove them.

There aren’t a whole lot of fighters left in this world. We’re an anomaly, a rare breed, so I pride myself on being a fighter, a warrior. I am proud of those battle scars and the lessons I have learned from fighting through ‘til the end. I boast of both my victories and losses, because each tells an epic story.

Yes, I am a proud warrior, yet what happens to the fighter when there’s nothing left to fight for? What happens when the battle is over?

There is a particular battle that comes to mind, and this battle was particularly brutal. Each side wounded the other, and these wounds pierced through to the deepest parts of our hearts. There was no victor, but a fatal loss for both. The battle had ended and I found myself hurting, regretful, and grievous. Time would be the only healing balm, but some wounds may never heal.

Have you ever lost a loved one in a battle like this?

The tragedy of such loss is overwhelming and devastating. I was heartbroken as I mourned the end of a once beautiful friendship, a relationship with mutuality, grace, compassion, and loyalty. We saw each other’s goodness and brokenness, and we stuck around…until we didn’t.

As the smoke cleared and time granted me healing and clarity, something shifted in my heart. My broken heart began to repair, and the painful hurt I felt began to lessen. Anger dissolved into compassion and resentment turned into love. I began to see something beautiful in the brokenness. Grace overwhelmed me and I was given the gift of seeing goodness, both in myself and in my friend.

As I write this today, my wounds have yet to fully heal and I am still nursing this broken heart of mine. But, there is a little fight left in me. There’s something in me that’s telling me to stay, to be still, and to wait.

The charred battlefield has cleared, yet I am still here. I haven’t gone anywhere.

I am left with a choice. I can succumb to the pain of a battle lost. I can walk away and pretend this friendship was meaningless, all the while hardening my heart as a futile way of protecting myself from future damage and loss. I would be completely justified in letting go and moving on, casting aside a meaningful relationship.

I can choose to give up.

Or, I can stay. I can choose to fight. I can advocate for the goodness I see in myself and my friend, fighting shame on behalf of us both. I can choose to see this temporary brokenness as a process and hope for beauty to be born from the dust of destruction. I can choose to say, “You are still worth the fight! You are worth sticking around for. However long it takes, I am here. I am waiting.”

I can choose to love—Love is patient. Love always protects. Love always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

Is this foolish? Is it unwise for me to continue the fight? Is loving the other a waste of my time and energy? Are my prayers futile?

Maybe? Yet, maybe I am being called to love with fearless abandon, to risk greatly, and to be vulnerable? Maybe this love is meant to be a catalyst for something impossible? Maybe fighting for the other is bigger than me? Maybe loving the other looks differently than I ever imagined? Maybe, just maybe, I am being called to be a fool?

Maybe loving the other looks differently than I ever imagined?

“As long as we are on earth, the love that unites us will bring us suffering by our very contact with one another, because this love is the resetting of a Body of broken bones.”

—Thomas Merton

My Summer in the South: Unresolved Endings.

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“When God is going to do something wonderful, He or She always starts with a hardship; when God is going to do something amazing, He or She starts with an impossibility.” – Anne Lamott

This past weekend, I psyched myself up for a solo camping trip to the Outer Banks in North Carolina. I wanted to spend my weekend lying on the beach, getting a tan, eating some seafood and enjoying everything the east coast has to offer. It’s not everyday this west coast girl gets to frolic around the Atlantic! However, my trip did not go as planned! I was hot, miserable, and now have a thousand mosquito bites to prove how terrible it was. Needless to say, I begrudgingly came home early.

My time was not what I had planned. However, while I was at the Cape Hatteras lighthouse, I stumbled on a WWII cemetery for two British Navy officers lost at sea. Their bodies were found in the Atlantic and buried on a small plot of land on the side of the road. Being the spontaneous person I am (aka, I was bored), and a huge history buff, I just had to pull over.

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I walked over to the gravesite, the smallest of cemeteries, and read the gravestones for these two men. The first, an unknown soldier in the Royal Navy. The second, a young soldier named Michael Cairns, 28 years old.

As I stood, reading their names over and over, realizing how young these men were, a sudden wave of sorrow washed over me and I began to cry. I mourned the lives of these two men, both of which ended abruptly.

Their death was an unresolved ending. Loved ones were left hoping, waiting for their return, yet they never made it home. This is a tragedy and a loss for those who cared for these men. Their lives should be mourned, albeit years after their death by an unknown friend.

This moment triggered something in me that I couldn’t quite explain. I allowed tears to run down my cheeks and grieved for their unresolved ending, yet I think I was also grieving all the unresolved endings I had experienced in my life.

We all strive for resolution and closure. Our deepest desire is to end well. We move away, we quit jobs, we break up, and we mourn loved ones who have died. We end chapters in our story. Yet, we all yearn for those endings to be celebrated. We have goodbye parties, we sign “Good Luck!” cards, we seek closure and have that final conversation with someone we once loved, and we memorialize the life of those who have passed.

How do you sit with unresolved endings? What feelings are stirred in you when someone vanishes from your life, without resolution and without a “Goodbye?”

I think about the disciples on Saturday morning. Some of these men and women spent years with Jesus, following Him, dining with Him, investing in His story as they watched Him heal, speak words of wisdom and revelation, and multiply fish and loaves to feed thousands. Yet, it’s Saturday and Jesus has died. This was the man who was supposed to bring peace and freedom. This was the man who was supposed to save the world.

Death wasn’t part of the plan. Jesus’ death was the ultimate unresolved ending.

I don’t sit well in the space between death and resurrection. The liminal place of waiting for resolution is not familiar to me, nor do I enjoy the tension and anxiety I feel when I find myself in it. However, this is where I often find myself. Actually, this is where I find myself as I write — stuck in Saturday.

This time, however, I have surprised myself with how much I am actually enjoying the discomfort of the “not yet” I find myself. God has been clear with me, “Kelsey, it’s not time yet. Wait.”

Waiting is not a muscle I flex very often. It’s painful, confusing, and uncomfortable, yet the hope of Sunday gives me peace that passes all understanding. The hope of Sunday, the hope I have in my Saturday Savior, is my refuge and my strength.

That said, there are many moments of anguish and frustration. There are times when all I can do is I cry and scream out to God, asking Him to remove the pain, to take away desire, to skip ahead to the end of the chapter, to provide some sort of resolution. There are mornings when I wake up weeping, sobbing as I mourn what has yet to come. There are days when all I want to do is lie in bed, binge on Netflix and Chinese take-out, and avoid the world (and my overwhelming emotions). Sometimes, all I can do is get angry and blame God for putting me through hell, cursing Him, and lamenting. This is part of the process and makes hope so much sweeter, and an essential piece to holding an unresolved ending.

Sunday is coming.

This is not the end.

Seeds have been planted and God is asking me to wait for the harvest.

There are some endings that will never be resolved. Some people will leave and never come back. Jobs will end. Diplomas given. Endings will end, regardless of what “Goodbyes” we fail to say. These unresolved endings should be grieved and mourned.

However, some endings aren’t endings at all…they’re the beginning of something new, something beautiful. After all, Saturday wasn’t the end of the story.

So Much More Than Fat.

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I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well. – Psalm 139:14

I have known all my life that I was a fat girl. Few have let me forget it. Classmates, guys I’ve crushed on, boyfriends, and the rest of western culture and media have reminded me at every turn that I am less than. I am undesirable. I am not what the world wants in a woman.

Being a fat girl is not something I’m proud of. I know body shaming is a major faux paus nowadays, and there’s a new movement of amazingly beautiful women of all shapes and sizes who are standing up for equality, but I am not quite there yet.

I am ashamed of the fat and what it represents in me.

This fat represents years of hiding behind a physical curtain of protection, hoping nobody would see and reject the real person inside. It’s much easier to swallow physical rejection than someone turning away from character. This fat represents trauma I’ve experienced and not knowing how to process the abuse. This fat is the excuse I have made to shame and punish myself. This fat is a coping mechanism, a defense system, and an exit strategy. This fat is my childhood attempt to control in an otherwise chaotic world.

I appreciate the women of this world who can love and accept their fat, but I reject mine. Rather, I reject what the fat represents, and I think it’s time I speak up and shed the weight.

Fat can be genetics, yes. Fat can be calories in excess. Fat can be little activity or living a sedentary lifestyle. Fat can be all these things, yet for me, there’s so much more than simply fat. I think the fat I carry carries so much more than weight gain, cellulite, and body rolls. It carries inner shame, hurt, and sorrow.

Fat is more than just fat.

I write a lot about the soul work I’ve been doing over the past few months, but I have recently realized how much of my outer shell is a reflection of my inner self. The way I look physically has been a pretty accurate portrayal of how I feel emotionally. As I shed my inner self through self love and care, therapy, and the discovery and strengthening of my identity, I want my outer self to reflect the same.

It’s time I lose the weight I’ve been carrying my entire life.

I am shedding the weight of shame around not being good enough. I am shedding the weight of duty and feeling like I’m the one responsible for fixing what others have broken. I am shedding the weight of having my identity chosen for me, rather than shaping it myself. I am shedding the weight of smothering those around me, in an attempt to control and keep them from leaving. I am shedding the weight of trauma and abuse I’ve kept secret for years.

There is no goal in mind. I’m not setting out to lose 500 lbs. or drop 20 dress sizes. It’s not about being skinny or looking a certain way. It’s not about gaining confidence or getting a boyfriend. No, shedding the weight is about letting go of the fat that has kept me immobile for years. It’s about releasing brokenness and darkness that has wounded myself and others. I deserve so much more than simply being fat. My body deserves to be loved and cherished, just like my soul.

I love the body God has given me and I love the girl inside. However, it’s time I let go of the fat girl and embrace the strong woman I am becoming.

So, yes, I guess I am fat shaming myself, but there is no shame here, and it’s so much more than just fat.

***By the way, I absolutely hate the word “fat!”

My Summer in the South: Sweat and Strength.

 

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“He gives power to the weak
    and strength to the powerless.” – Isaiah 40:29 (NLT)

As a poor grad student living in one of the most expensive cities in the United States, I don’t have the privilege of belonging to a gym. There are more important things I spend my money on…like rent and groceries.

Being in the South, I have the privilege of staying in a neighborhood with a clubhouse and I’ve been taking advantage of the gym everyday. I forgot how much I love to workout! Running has its advantages, but there’s nothing like testing one’s strength by picking up heavy things over and over again. As I press, pull, lift, and squat, I feel my body getting stronger.

I am much stronger than I think I am.

Ironically, my time in the gym has also been a place of rest and healing. With every drop of sweat, my body sheds the lies I’ve been told about myself, painful memories I’ve carried for years, and hurtful names I’ve been given. My body is releasing the toxins that have been stored up for far too long and my heart is being healed.

Sweat is cleansing proof that I am getting stronger. My true north, my core self, my identity is getting stronger everyday and my time in the South is helping me become more of who I already am.

I was recently told that my identity was not strong enough to depart from a relationship. I was told that I was lost, that I would feel like a part of me was missing.

No! … No.

I know exactly who I am and who I am becoming. I am strong. I am brave. I am beautiful. I am courageous. I am loving, I am loveable, and I am lovely. I am wise. I am faithful. I am loyal. I am a warrior!

My time in the gym has solidified months of gut-wrenching soul work that I have been called into, and I am proud of the solid identity I have discovered in myself. I am far from perfect, but I have a better grasp of who I am than I did a year ago, and I am proud.

I am proud of the boundaries I have put around myself. I am proud of the risks I have taken. I am proud of the courage I have displayed in relationships. I am proud of the change that’s occurring in me. I am proud of the gallons of sweat that I wring out of my workout clothes at the end of the day. I am proud of the countless tears I have shed and the painful grief I have experienced, all to find healing and growth. I am proud of shaky muscles and spaghetti arms, mournful rainy days and faithful Sunday mornings.

I am proud of my perseverance to continue this work, to refuse to be broken by it.

There is a part of me that fears this is the end of something beautiful, yet as I seek the face of my Father and hear Him whisper softly in my ear, these fears are turned into peace.

This isn’t the end, it’s only the beginning.

My Summer in the South: Healing and Change.

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“And take my past
And take my sense
Like an empty sail takes the wind
And heal, heal, heal, heal” – Tom Odell, Heal

Before I left Seattle, my heart was broken.

Rather, I broke my own heart by making an incredibly difficult and painful decision. Sometimes, in order for growth to take place, necessary measures need to be taken, even if this means temporarily hurting people we love…even if this means temporarily hurting ourselves.

This decision is like re-breaking a broken bone that healed incorrectly. The initial break was terribly painful, but in order for proper healing to occur, the bone needs to be rebroken and set properly. This second break is excruciating, yes, but necessary for the bone to heal as it should have in the first place.

With friends surrounding me with love, I was empowered and encouraged to be brave and make the break — the painful, excruciating break — in the hope of properly mending something that was broken.

Now I find myself in the liminal space, between suffering and healing.

North Carolina was planned well before this decision was made, yet this trip has become my saving grace and a beautiful pilgrimage. Unknowingly, I have given myself the gift of distance and time away from Seattle. As the painstakingly slow process of healing occurs, I have also been given the gift of clarity, and I have realized:

Pain is a catalyst for change.

I have suffered in many ways this past year, but I have also changed in many ways. The pain and suffering I have endured in Seattle was worth it. It was worth crying into Costco-sized boxes of Kleenex. It was worth all the lament and anger. It was worth sifting through painful childhood memories and reflecting on past trauma and abuse. This work is costly and it was worth every ounce of energy I put in.

It was worth it, but pain can only be a catalyst when healing is part of the process.

The wounds we carry are heavy. They take up precious space in our hearts. The energy we put into reliving or repressing these painful events and emotions is overwhelming. We will go to great lengths to hide the shame we feel around the trauma we have experienced. We try to cover our tracks, we try to erase memories, we try to hide the fingerprints of past abuse, but the tragic stories of our past can never be hidden.

So, we do the work and name it. We shine the light on shame. We mourn, grieve, and cry heaping sobs of sadness. We refuse to allow ourselves to repress and instead, we gather every ounce of strength we have to do this brave work.

This is healing.

The healing process purges our hearts from the heaviness of tragedy, making room for change to occur. Healing is the key player for pain to be a catalyst for change. Healing relinquishes the old, broken, unhealthy parts of our stories and creates room for new, beautiful stories to be written.

Naming our pain, addressing shame, and mourning rewrites our narrative. This is the work I am being called into. This is the work you’re being called into.

Are you courageous enough to step into healing?

North Carolina is a sacred place. North Carolina is my spiritual pilgrimage. Newness is being cultivated in my heart, in this place, and I am choosing to walk this broken, painful, courageous road of healing for the goodness of change to permeate my heart.

My broken heart is reshaping the story I get to tell.