What ideas about your identity are ingrained deeply in you? Does it feel more safe to believe the hopeless parts of you instead of the hopeful?
I’ve been thinking about the lame man in the Bible who was afraid to figure out a way to move into the water. 38 years of being paralyzed. When we read of his encounter with Jesus (who he thought was just a man suggesting he simply try), we’re conditioned to label him as crazy, lazy or simply self-pitiful and disabled by choice.
What a label, “disabled by choice”. Maybe though, disability was what he knew, how he planned his day, accepted the unfairness of his condition. So, what seems crazy was really just fear of different. Unfamiliar.
“They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?” John 5:12 ESV
The man who learned to walk couldn’t really explain it. I suppose he just thought less about who and how than he was astounded to be walking. I wonder how long or if it took him a bit to feel stable, stable in his steps and the miracle that began his embrace of faith. Maybe.
I wonder if he was tempted to lay back down, in a sort of awe and uncertainty life could be this way for him.
If we’re not taught that change can be possible and that even though it might be trial and error, we might “stay on our mat” too.
This is a truth not often expressed.
It’s safer to be the person you’ve called yourself or been called (even if fragile and floundering) than to see our very own growth, to acknowledge how far we’ve come and to slowly dip our toes in the water…the truth of God loving us…until slowly, intentionally and not without moments of backward sliding, we find ourselves lighter, floating, completely and confidently immersed in our healed identity.
If the toil and trials of life have a larger tally it’s likely loss feels more dependable than gain, more believable.
Knowing we are loved because God is love and is patient with those of us who are just learning to swim without the weights of our past keeping us only frantically floating.
Friday night, two weeks ago, I sat in my friend’s den. We’d had a yummy and not without funny incident meal in a tiny town nearby. The night was cool. The Labrador and cats had been fed. My friend sat on the “Elvis” velvet green sofa and her husband faced me, each of us in the ivory armchairs.
My friend suggested, I “give my talk” as a practice for Saturday morning. This would be my third practice reading.
I made it through and my friend and her sweet husband approved. Then, she added,
“Lisa, it is beautiful; but, try to talk instead of reading. Look up.”
“Okay, okay.” I assured her and went to bed scared and vulnerable.
Tossing and turning but waking to a pink morning sky, I journaled and landed on the passage in II Timothy that tells us not to have a spirit of fear. I found another verse I’d only skimmed over before.
“Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord.” 2 Timothy 1:8 ESV
We arrived at the gathering place, women preparing and chatting; I found a pen and reviewed the words I’d be sharing.
Added in places that I felt needed it
LOOK UP HERE
I’ve decided to share the essay/speech.
You’ll likely recognize the paragraphs or two that led me to choke up, lose my place and for the life of me not want to look up.
Places that caused me to stare in an awkward vacantness.
Still, I knew someone might benefit from my sharing. I didn’t know I’d be given such a gift of acceptance in their kind expressions that morning.
“Your slightest pain finds response in his sympathy.” Handley C.G. Moule
Here are my words:
Of Lasting Value
Lisa Anne Tindal
Louisville Presbyterian Church, October 22, 2022
I suppose it was over six months ago. My friend called me by surprise which is her nature. The call is always genuine, the conversation always for my betterment. I have a friend who is closer than a sister. She is why I am here.
This friend who is both soft and strong, hilarious and humble has influenced me towards courage all along the way. And so, this phone call from my splendidly southern friend was a gift and then, an idea shared in an unexpected request.
I am here with you today because my friend believed I should be. She shared that she thought of me and my journey and felt I’d be the just right speaker. I told her I would think, I would pray, and I thought…
Well, I don’t have to worry about this now, October is a long time away. August came and then September and I began to be very afraid.
And the fear became heavy and close to paralyzing. I couldn’t be quite sure why or rather I couldn’t decide which was the most accurate reason. After all, I’d spoken publicly in many places, business, philanthropic or civic engagements and I’d spoke about much less pleasant topics, homelessness, suicide, mental illness. Why the fear over sharing about my life, my journey, and least of all, art? Why did I feel so deficient? Why did I regret saying “Yes”?
On a Saturday afternoon, just before dusk, I made a list. Lists help to organize my thoughts, give understanding of my worry, spur me on. This list with a column for opportunities over the past year or so lined the left side and the right was absolutely nothing at all as I tried to respond to my mind’s question.
Why is this not enough?
What more could be proof?
Will it matter if you’re in a gallery, a solo show, if all five paintings in the current Charleston show are sold?
My soul was sullen. My mind knew the answer.
It would not matter at all; you’d still be trying to prove to yourself that you are “enough”. You’d still be trying to win the next marathon, jump unhindered through the next circus hoop of culture and comparison.
You’d still feel unqualified.
Later, I prayed before sleep and there were tears. The prayer, not one of request or providential goodness, instead I asked God to forgive me for trying to be anything other than his plan and his idea. I acknowledged I’d been striving to succeed, to fly on the wings of my own, wings that aren’t broken, no not broken at all…just marked by fading scars and not fully grown.
I sat in my morning spot the next day, recalling my cry. I reviewed the list and remembered a couple or three wonderful things I had omitted.
The list is long. The list is truly amazing; but neither sufficient nor satisfying on its own.
As a woman, a little girl, a mama or wife, how do you measure significance? Is it in the success of your children? The accolades in your profession or maybe in the longevity of your marriage that has endured some stress? Or is it smaller, more insignificant things that matter so much more?
I am a woman from south Georgia, raised by a mother who loved through cooking and often masked depression with achievement, a father who was broken and as kind as a southern breeze on a humid day until he needed relief from whiskey and then he could express his brokenness and anger. It was hard many days, thankfully not all of them.
My parents were human.
A girl who was “daddy’s” who became a young woman broken by the weight of that label. A young woman who loved the quiet comfort of art and longed to love God but was afraid she couldn’t measure up.
A young woman who suffered harm, overpowered by strong and angry hands on more than one occasion. A college student who lost her way and began to starve herself to gain control.
A woman who became a single mother to two and found the wherewithal to support them through keeping Georgia’s children safe as a DFCS employee.
I am a woman who is now married to a man who understands me (although it was an effort) and the mother to two adult children I treasure, a grandmother to four, very soon five grandchildren.
What’s your story? Have there been debilitating detours or even small dilemmas? How have you tried to redeem them?
Has it been tough on your own?
I love to imagine being alongside women in the Bible who found themselves in places and situations that didn’t masquerade their disadvantages.
Their stories are ours.
They are in our Bibles. These women I call “Colors of My Bible”, figures that began to develop in the margins of a Bible gifted to me in 2016. I began to see myself in their stories, at times not sure the reason, and yet, as I continue, their stories, their colorful lives continue to change mine.
They are women who came to understand, it is God who decides we are valuable.
It is God who positions us in places to remember this and to add value to the lives of others by our embrace of this truth.
Of what value are you?
Maybe we are similar to the women with ancient stories,
We are strong and have value.
Esther, an orphaned young woman raised by her uncle found herself in an unlikely position. Her beauty, I suppose we could say was her ticket. More so, it was her commitment to her people, her family that made her courageous. I like to imagine her clothed in purple, diminutive in size and in the background are the other competitors for her place in the palace. I remember Esther for her bravery. Her allegiance to her family and her courage to protect them became her value.
Martha, a favorite of mine because she did what I do. If there is angst, an unanswered prayer, a rescue or remedy I’ve decided isn’t coming, I have the answer. It’s control, cleaning, rearranging.
Once I painted the bathroom cabinets, replaced the mirror and changed out all the towels in the bathroom. I was waiting on a call from The Citadel to see if my son in his Freshman year first week would be coming home. I think of Martha and her plight of “needing to know” or being sure all would be well. I like to envision her finally sitting down to rest beside her sister Mary and being gently reminded things like a cluttered kitchen don’t matter. I remember Martha for her anxiety. I remember Jesus telling her to rest, all will be well. Her learning to trust and rest became her value.
The Woman at the Well, known by many for her lascivious ways, I relate to her story. Admittedly, I am not a theologian; but I’ve read that is was not unheard of for women to “serve” more than one man. This was the culture back then. This is why I love the approach of Jesus. He didn’t have to say to her “your secrets are exposed; your lifestyle is well known”.
Instead, he offered redemption in the form of I know, and I still care.
I like to build on the story of when she ran back into town to tell everyone she’d met the Messiah and he too knows all about me. Here’s an even sweeter part of this story to me, the townspeople knew her. They thought less about her messy life than they did the message she brought them. Her living past her shame became her value.
The Woman Caught in Adultery I believe was despondent. I believe she expected to die by stoning that day. I see her with eyes cast down, numbed by the reality of her exposure. Although she was prepared to be stoned, I somehow see her as suicidal. When Jesus confronted the accusers, she must have been surprised. I suppose he could have told her to hurry home, to go her way; instead he asked her to take notice…you are not alone, “Go and sin no more”. Her life was changed despite her imperfections, it was changed as she acknowledged her wrongs. Her humble admission in the face of punishment expected leaves me with a beautiful image of her walking away, eyes lifted up and shoulders strong in faith. Her humility although despondent became her value.
Mary, the mother of Jesus, so young and unprepared. As I speak to you today, my beautiful treasure I call Heather Analise is ripe with the soon birth of her second child. I recall the first days of my granddaughter, helping any way I could and the preparations her parents had in place, things like schedules, feedings, monitors, sound machines and cradling swings that lulled her to sleep. Mary, surprised by an angel, simply believed and continued in her appointment arranged by God. I wonder about her questions, if she shared them with Joseph. She pondered ( a word I love) and I wonder if her ponderings were sometimes fearful worries over the mysterious and unfathomable delivery she was chosen for. Belief in what made no sense, confidence in what she couldn’t have predicted, and a quiet resolve to believe in what she did not yet see. Occurs to me now, the similarity of the life of Mary and the definition of faith. Her faith in a time of unknowns became her value.
Hagar, (Am I the only one who wonders, couldn’t God have at least given her parents a prettier name?) the mistress of Abraham and Sarah who met their needs and fulfilled their wish for family. A maidservant, who with the wife’s permission, slept with the husband so that in their old age could carry on the lineage with a son. Here’s where I used to find myself on “Team Hagar”, relating to her condition as a result of abuse and manipulation. Again, culture in these ancient days allowed this. Sarah resented Hagar and Hagar hoarded over Sarah the benefits she brought to her husband and to them, a child.
Jealousy between women has apparently been around for ages.
Hagar ran away, not broken and afraid as I once believed. No, I believe she was just angry. She had enough or maybe the “maidservant with benefits” was not proving to be as beneficial as she thought.
So, she ran.
The angel of the Lord found her in the wilderness and confronted her fleeing. More than a confrontation though, it was an acknowledgement that you may not feel it but “God sees you.” Being seen by God changed her, not so much her living situation or positioning in life; but, knowing God saw and sees her strengthened her to carry on. Hagar’s words, the first to give God a name, “El Roi” has become her value, we too are seen and known.
The woman who spent over a decade in hiding, unable to be cured from her uncontrollable flow of blood, despairingly decided to simply give the healing of Jesus a try. How many of us have had to leave work, tie our sweater around our waist or worse, agree to surgery to remove the source of flow? What a personal thing a period is.
What a last resort to try anything for better. So, the crowd was thick that day, the scene perfect for her to go unnoticed and to simply be near this man who’d been healing so many desperate others. She touched the hem of his garment and she was made well, and Jesus felt the sensation of the miraculous leaving his body and he stopped in his tracks.
He sought the seeker.
When he found her, He called her daughter and she began to live unhindered and unhidden that day. She didn’t expect to meet Jesus, only hoped for healing. Her resolve to seek healing and to keep seeking. This is her value.
Esther, Martha, the Samaritan Woman, the Adulterous, Mary the Virgin; Hagar and The Woman in need of healing, these are just of a few of the figures you may find in the margins of my Bible. What began as a tentative practice with color moved to canvas and from canvas to local shops and galleries. From galleries to pages on social media, articles in magazines, a website, a children’s book and an invitation to be photographed for a national exhibit.
I stand before you an example of a woman sort of lost and found.
You see none of these accomplishments were solid enough for my soul’s standing as far as my value and worth to be unshakeable. It made sense to me that my childhood was so deficient in encouragement and notice that I’d set my mind on achievement and unrelenting aspiration in the confidence that one day, some way, I will believe I am enough.
And yet, I had to understand, accept, on my own I am never enough.
Rather, I am a work in progress, a sailboat shifting in the winds of God’s direction, a woman who asked God to cancel this event, deciding for God that I was not qualified, not attractive enough and not skilled eloquently as far as speaking.
Hmmm, I wonder did Moses have a sister?
Thank you for the invitation to choose the braver as Martha chose the better, as Esther chose the more courageous, Hagar chose God’s knowing, the three women defeated, scorned and or wrongfully living chose the joyous gift of living differently, Mary chose not knowing and yet, believing and because she chose our story continues,
a life of value according to Jesus.
My prayer is that you know this choice, that you’re easy on yourself as you try to remember.
Your value is not accomplishment or acclaim. Rather, it’s a quiet thing, a life that leaves an example, one that is lasting even if often scary.
Have you wondered if God sees the wrong, personal and in your home, our world? I’m comparing Hagar and Martha, two women distraught and dissatisfied. God saw them both, brought gentle words, reassurance and courage, made them more wise.
She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me, for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” Genesis 16: 13 NIV
Is the mystery of knowing God is sovereign a contradiction at times? Have you experienced uncertainty that has led to a feeling of loneliness? Is there some situation you feel held captive by and alone? Have you found yourself in a relationship or a pattern that either has you trapped or do you somehow feel you contributed to it and thus, belong?
Women, especially mothers who are in unhealthy relationships are in complex situations. Unhealthy relationships that entrap us are very misunderstood. There is no easy answer to the question, “Why didn’t you leave?”, a question no woman should be asked.
This is a question for which many women have no answer. The layers and the reasons are hard to explain. Abusive relationships, emotionally or unhealthy in other ways have a way of numbing a woman to the day to day. Once women are able to find the strength to leave, there’s no value in revisiting the rationale for staying. I suppose I’m saying “Don’t ask.” along with “Stop asking yourself.”
Women who find themselves in situations apart from God, from friends and family are trapped, they are perplexed.
“Perplexed”, the meaning is completely baffled, very puzzled.
I think of two women in the Bible, Hagar and Martha. Hagar, because she found herself the bait of a tormented woman who wanted her way and got it. Hagar, the servant who provided a longed-for child in exchange for provision found herself cast aside and alone, having to make the decision to allow her son to die alone so she did not have to witness the loss.
Martha, who was a friend of Jesus’s and had been gently warned of her priorities found herself at a loss over why her brother was dying and Jesus had not yet come.
I wonder if it occurred to them, they got what they deserved; many women do, believe they deserve abuse and for that abuse to go unnoticed by God.
I pray you’ve never thought this way.
I pray you never do again.
Hagar and Martha were fully seen and known by God. The mystery? The perplexing thing? Why so long, God? Why was my desperation needed for you to come through? These are questions much like the question posed to a victim of abuse for which we won’t have answers.
There is comfort in comparing our stories, not just with Biblical women; but, with others. We intersect women with dropped faces and lost dispositions, babies in their arms, children tagging along. We can offer understanding, a smile, a knowing nod and prayer.
We can find a way to relate to others who are trapped in perplexing situations while waiting for God’s rescue. We can assure them it will come.
We can give praise alongside when it does.
Father, our God who sees and knows, help us to help one another. Help us to respond with an offer of connection rather than question. We are comforted by the knowledge of being seen by you, even if we do not fully understand. Make us open to the hardship of others without judgement. Remind us of your ever-present gaze. We are thankful to be able to say, because of mercy, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
The two paintings in this post will be available on April 1st through The Scouted Studio’s Emerging Artist Show. Other art can be found at http://www.lisaannetindal.me
Over several weeks, I sat at the desk in my art room and pieced together a broken bowl. It had fallen to the counter as I put dishes away at my daughter’s home, a loud crash and pieces and chunks of pretty white with raised polka dots was destroyed.
Instantly, I thought “Here’s your chance, try kintsugi.” (the ancient art of repairing broken pottery with gold)
I laid out the pieces, gathered gorilla glue and thick gold paint and began. It couldn’t be rushed.
It was a thing of patience and phases, requiring me to allow the repair of one section before beginning the next.
Covered in a cloth in case my daughter stopped by, I continued imperfectly because of missing pieces, adding blue from a broken intentionally cup for fill ins and well, just because it was pretty.
Finished, it became a gift to her for Valentine’s Day.
Last week, I heard words that were not new,
“We live in a broken world.”
The pastor added with emphasis in his message on “expectations” and I received the familiar phrase differently.
It was time.
Have you considered yourself broken by life? Maybe you do now. I began to think of other catchy phrases like “broken and beautiful or beautifully broken” and pondered how we can be both.
I sat in the sanctuary between my strong son-in-law and a very large, burly man who sang every word to every song and sighed like a little boy at the passages about God’s love, no condemnation anymore and other promises because of God’s spirit in us.
I thought, “I’m not broken, after all, all along it’s been this world and what it caused others to do to me.”
“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:19 ESV
Journaled on Monday:
This world is broken and so, things that happen or happened may determine you to be broken. But remember, you are whole, made whole fully and even more whole and unbroken as you allow yourself to understand the difference. You are not broken. The world still is; but no, you are not broken, not you. Not broken made beautiful as much as simply beautiful, redemptively beautiful, completely so.
To say I’m in need of my Heavenly Father, my Savior, His Spirit in me is not saying I’m broken, it’s more of a humble recognition of my identity now, in light of then.
God caused me to consider self-condemnation in my sleep last night. I’d been thinking of the practice of Lent and intentional changes. God had a better idea, told me what I really needed to let go of is self-condemnation.
The thought danced in my mind all night and I woke to consider it and journaled.
Self-condemnation turns me inward, causes me to fixate on my failures. Self-condemnation is not a healthy or even godly self-assessment. Instead, it’s an obsession with myself in a way that’s tricky, makes you think it’s a companion to humility.
Humility acknowledges with reverence the repaired places you were broken, made new, places you were unable and now have courageous abilities. Humility shines a soft light on the places you were weakened by wrong, but now are allowing yourself to grow strong.
Humility says “thank you”. Self-condemnation says you’ll always be “too far gone”.
I gifted the bowl and later sent my daughter a note I’d saved in “Notes”.
Kintsugi is the ancient art of fixing broken pottery with gold. … Kintsugi reminds us that something can break and yet still be beautiful, and that, once repaired, it is stronger at the broken places. This is an incredible metaphor for healing and recovery from adversity
Strange gifts from me don’t surprise my children and they know the unspoken truth of most of my gifts being gifts with a deeper meaning. No need for spoken explanations, just hope for little contributions to my legacy of love always.
And hope that I see this bowl, others who pass by or stand in her kitchen pause and maybe take a deep breath and rest assured.
We’re not broken anymore. We are beautiful and slightly imperfect, yet made new.
“For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.” Psalm 107:9 ESV
A ladybug landed next to my boot camp exercise mat. The heavy bar for chest lifts and the wayward yoga ball were waiting for the next series of reps.
I should’ve stayed home.
I should have skipped this class. Vague queasiness threatens as I move from crunches to cardio. I feel my neck tighten and I fear the later headache.
Slowly, then kindly to myself I say, “Breathe, breathe.” The little ladybug still sitting near as I speak kindly again, “Breathe again, slowly and intentionally. Soon you will see, the fearful feelings are fading. You will see. It is good to be here.”
Isolation never suggests we challenge ourselves.
Isolation loves the lingering in the same place, same way of being. We convince ourselves it’s the safe place, even the stoic choice more than seeing it as a settled stagnation.
We fear change.
Early yesterday, the rain began with a whoosh of wave, heavy early as I woke, no need for my alarm for an 8:00 meeting for breakfast.
In a very gentle way, God has been telling me to be with others, to step back into life, towards even greater healing and to love others, unafraid.
It began with breakfast on Thursday and again on Friday. Later today, a third time to be with a friend among other women, lots of them.
I’m not naturally social. Still, I knew I’d been becoming way too alone.
Even for me.
It was God who told me to be with others again, to embrace what is theirs to give, to give some parts of myself in exchange.
I feel God beside me.
On my left wrist I’ve been marking a Sharpie’d cross, I sense a strong hand holding, a with-ness as I go, a never letting go.
I sense God with me as I go although I don’t know quite where I am going or how my going will change me.
I sense a rising up in my soul, to greet the greater things, leave the lesser things already learned behind.
There is more. There are greater things.
Thank you for helping me, God, for being my helper.
Thank you, Lord.
My resistance to a life lived fully has lessened. The moving from isolation is an invitation I’m responding to, a sweet and invigorating choice.
Now, the Saturday sunshine dances on the weave of my blanket. There’s an energy uplifting.
A dance that says “join me”, it’s safe to step in.
Life’s a dance, right? At least according to Garth Brooks
Learn as you go, just please keep going.
“fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 ESV
Once I was a member, although not fully eligible to join, of a community of people who gathered over grief.
I was the leader, though never feeling equipped. Often, I thought to advise or redirect which led to empty gazed expressions from those mourning a loss due to suicide.
It was simply better that I just sit with them, that I listen.
Often listening lasted too long for me.
Moments between a gut-wrenching story and the responses of others stretched out long around the conference table.
Still, sitting still together in silence was best.
On Tuesday, my granddaughter who’s two and a half going on twenty asked to get closer, get closer to the little birds.
I saw one bird on a thin branch. She spotted its companion nearby. We walked carefully, me instructing her, “Step up high, high knees, watch your feet, be careful!”
We walked over limbs, pine tree remnants and broken up soil in the place where the land is being cleared for changes, her future and her family’s.
I thought of, am thinking of David, of the psalms. One in particular I cling to and others so honest we’re reluctant to say we can relate.
“I lie awake; I am like a lonely sparrow on the housetop.” Psalm 102:7 ESV
We found our footing atop a little high place she called the mountains and we saw the sparrows before they flitted away.
In the margin of my Bible there’s a sketch here, a rooftop with a solitary bird brings me comfort, tells me others understand.
I have a very old Bible, an estate sale find. Once I thought to find the owner’s family, now I have decided it’s mine.
In this old Oxford Bible, a leather woven cover soft over the thin yellow pages, I find papers, a teacher’s identification card, and a lesson plan marked “January”, a typewritten script for 5th grade students on the color wheel.
The owner of the Bible I found was an art teacher.
Underlined in faded red, she must’ve wanted to express the importance of colors developing, merging, being strengthened when placed alongside or blended together.
I found it fitting to tuck the funeral pamphlet of my mama’s service here.
Here in January.
“Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me: thou shalt stretch forth thine hand against the wrath of mine enemies, and thy right hand shall save me.” Psalm 138:7 KJV
Today, I journaled prompted by more ancient words, the quote in my “Joy and Strength” devotional.
Let them be strangers, your dark thoughts. Believe them not. Receive them not. Know them not. Own them not. (Joy and Strength, Isaac Pennington)
“For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” 2 Corinthians 3:17 NLT
Continue and believe. Share your sorrows. Listen and agree.
After a very long time, I pulled the stubby stems from the dirt. The four times or more repotted “lipstick plant” was not thriving.
The plant sent by my fellow choir members at the time of my mother’s death. Inside, then outside, repotted and revived, try and tried again until it was decidedly time to let it go.
The forest like ferns in the window box were just there, not thriving either. My master gardener cousin suggested them and I liked that she called them “Fall ferns.” To me they looked like a walk in the woods, a reminder of creeks and pine trees.
My husband’s recent hospitalization (he’s greatly improved) reminded me not then, but yesterday, I’m good at operating on auto-pilot.
I’m skilled at begin subtly hyper-vigilant, of draping myself in sort of an emotional bubble wrap.
And praying throughout it all, praying believing in the power of prayer and the nearness of God,
Until I’m not.
Until I remember, “this feels like that”.
While I believe in my healing because of my faith in Jesus, the physicality of past trauma and memories are remnants and threads in my tapestry. I’d love to believe I’ll one day not be affected, but I’m more hopeful in knowing my hopefulness in this regard is real progress.
Is peace, is going forward in peace.
Still, conversations about options for life, long days hoping for turnarounds, ICU waiting rooms with siblings taking turns to visit and calls with the announcement “gone” are realities I have experienced.
No wonder it all came back to knock me off my feet when I quit trudging forward in a fog, when I finally slowed down.
Grief catches up. Trauma is skillful in its tactics.
It’s best that we not avoid it, rather go down the road again and again to the place where the view is more clear, better, an invitation to known peace and comfort.
Allowing the intellectual revelation that my life has been affected by trauma and loss, I have an understanding of the fallout rather than falling apart because of it.
I am in tune with myself.
I can grieve what happened back then in a way that brings a tender resurgence of sadness, but not one that destroys me.
Because I know Jesus told many “to go in peace because you’re now well, you are healed”, but the brain often rebels.
I’m not a clinician.
I believe understanding leads to disciplined healing and I don’t think remembering our hard things is always detrimental. I believe it leads to both understanding and to gratitude for who we are now
Despite what happened then.
Remember my mama’s broken pot with the miraculously spreading succulents from her funeral?
Well, they withered like an old flattened tire. The December frost took them. I brought the pot inside, too late, maybe.
I ran my fingers across the soil and tried to help the plants perk up.
Just one tiny plant like a miniature palm is standing. I’ll wait before adding more. I’ll hope more will rejuvenate on their own, find the nourishment to keep on.
The window box ferns are limelight green in the terra cotta pot. They’re happier on the porch in new soil. They must love the chance to grow in the place where death was accepted to invite new flowering.
Life continues. Life reminds.
New days bring new acceptances of our responses that hinder our acceptance of hardship or hope and invite us to know which are best.
To be brave enough to know ourselves and even braver to invite a new perspective.
Or not so new, just remembered.
Redeeming our days, because we’ve been redeemed.
Knowing ourselves in light of knowing the God who knows even more deeply and says I’m with you here, I was with you there.
Go in peace, daughter.
Go in peace.
Be gentle with yourself. Keep growing.
“For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” Isaiah 55:12 ESV
I didn’t realize it at the time, but yesterday on a couple of occasions, I felt God seeing me. I felt Him near. The veil between earth and heaven was translucently thin.
In my car, with a list of places to deliver art and calendars, in between being among hurried and intent on shopping people, a playlist emerged. Songs I hadn’t heard before both caused me to pray and to praise. A deep connectedness to God’s spirit within me, led to warm tears and others to a lifted open hand.
No wonder, I’ve been resting with the words, “Be near me Lord Jesus, I ask you to stay.”
My favorite people in the Bible are the vulnerable and uncertain ones. I’m drawn to Job. I’m strengthened by David. I adore Martha and can relate to Jonah. Thomas, the one who needed proof and wasn’t afraid to admit it. I love the ones who wondered.
“Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” John 20:29 NIV
Who believe and cling to times when their belief was solidified, made tangible evidence.
The Lord is near.
Believe. Accept the freedom of a sweeter commitment, the language of the heart, not rational.