Oh life…

It is so strange how our life experiences serve to teach us…I think they do anyway.

I read a quote, “Instead of asking why is this happening to me, ask what is this teaching me?” Instant shift.

It really is an instant shift. I begin to ask myself what my accountability in the experience is, how it is familiar to choices I have made before, and I can explore what is at the root of my choice. Hopefully, even if I can’t clarify the lesson, I can find value in the journey.

Goodness sometimes life surprises me. People surprise me. Sometimes in ways that make my heart sting, other times in ways that make my heart soar…and everything in between. Trying to remember that in many cases, the hurt someone caused is so much more about them than me but my mind has a much easier time grasping this than my silly heart.

So, my questions of the day…what am I learning right in this moment and dear God, where do I go from here?

Happy Tuesday my loves. Enjoy your journey today (and every day)!

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Struggling

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”

― Rainer Maria Rilke

Oh geez louise.  If there is a mistake to be made lately, I am making it.  The struggles are real.  I’m trying to comfort myself by reminding myself, ‘this too shall pass’, ‘in everything there is a lesson to be learned’, ‘find the value’ and ‘God’s got me’.  Truthfully…I wonder if these things are true.  What if this is as good as it gets and nothing is going to ‘pass’?  How come I keep getting the same lessons, what am I missing?  Am I figuring out who I have always been or am I living out the years I never got to live out (adolescence)?

I bet parenting me is much like parenting a wild 17 year old who is determined to find her own way without undertaking any advisement.  So be it, I guess.  It’s where I am and I am so entirely sick of fighting with myself that I’m trying to just be.  Be me.  The challenge…I’m not entirely sure who I am.  One day I’m full of maturity, light and goodness…the next day I am determined to be as naughty as can be, wanting nothing or no one to constrain my freedom.  But you see…I’m not even sure what freedom means to me.

Forgive my scatteredness, and be thankful I took time to write in my journal before this post in order to ‘sort’ my everrunning thoughts. 

I spent time with a fabulous new friend last night, who happens among other several things to be an atheist.   I am very much a lover of Jesus and a hater of rules, and I greatly enjoy discussions with those of different belief systems.  As long as we can agree to disagree, I find great value in hearing another’s perspective and in sharing mine.  I am open to both their story and to telling mine.   We are all connected, there is value in each of our stories.  This is why I have difficulty when someone is closed to these interactions.  Like…what’ so scary about hearing another person’s view?   There’s no need to have a change of heart or mind just because there is a different perspective and if a change results…whatever.

I also have a dear, dear friend who happens to be more devoted to his Catholicism than anyone Catholic person I’ve ever known.  We have strikingly different views and we’ve had some terrifically difficult conversations.  That said, I have the utmost respect for his beliefs and I feel valued when I share with him.  I am thankful for that give and take. 

On the same token, another one of my dearest friends is an atheist.  It’s the same kind of give and take in our relationship and we actually learn a lot from our open heartedness toward each other. We ask each other super tough questions and continue to challenge one another to grow through these fittings together of our puzzles.  I guess I can surmise from this that when a person is valued over the need to be right, a very different relationship emerges.

Furthermore, I have many friends who don’t fall into an extreme end of the spectrum but somewhere in the middle.  They might be sure of their faith, they may be doubting and searching or they might just be numb and oblivious.  There isn’t one of them that doesn’t offer value to my life with where they are and I hope I do the same for them.

So…back to last night with my new friend….  I was very curious about their reasons they hold so tight to their beliefs.  They shared  and so much of it made  complete logical sense to me.  During our conversation, I tried to share just the little bit that I could about my faith.  It was hard.  I am deeply searching and trying to understand the foundations of my beliefs.  The faith part is so much easier for me to share.  Just like my own life, I’m so much more assured of how to share my feelings than my thoughts, and as a Christian, my feelings are more cemented and easier to share than my logic.

I explained that it was exceptionally difficult for me to understand how I was alive.  I made it through an open heart surgery at 9 months of age that was supposed to be done in two parts.  As I understand it, they came out in the middle of my first surgery and told my parents that they had to do the rest then or I would ‘be a vegetable’.  My Momma tells me that this was the first time she really knew she had faith because she never doubted that I wouldn’t be just fine. 

To give a little picture of the weight of the circumstances, I was more tubes than baby, and was one of the youngest babies to ever have this complete correction at such a young age.  It was a significant deal.  The doctors told my family it was a 50/50 chance of success but not doing it would mean bad things.  They did it and I’m obviously here to tell about it.  So, why, oh why are there babies with a lesser degree of the same defect that die today still?  Why am I alive?  Why doesn’t everyone get their miracle?

Then…a pretty healthy life.  Fast forward to that big ole stroke when I was 37.  That one that ‘should’ve killed me’ and that one where I had to learn to walk again…like an infant.  Again…why am I here?  So many are not.

So…my new friend asks me what kind of God would let little bitty babies die and me live?  An extremely fair question and one I have often wrestled with.  Tonight, I wrestle extra hard because the best answer I have is that I’m not God and I have to trust that He has a panoramic view and I have a snapshot.  Sometimes I believe this a thousand times over, other times, I doubt everything.  

I sure don’t know why God has me here and I’m really wondering how my life is one he’d be proud of right now.  I mess up.  Alot and quite intentionally.  I can be obstinate and determined to create my own path, hurting others along the way of my learning.  I can be unfocused and lackadaisical.  I am a bundle of pure messiness.  It is what it is. I am so deeply grateful for every moment.

A bit weary and overwhelmed, I am searching too often in others and not often enough in my own heart. It’s all okay. I’ve finally found peace with trusting that God not only accepts my doubts, He welcomes them.  For when I doubt, I am searching for his majesty when I am so small.  I am searching for His peace amidst my chaos.  

I am struggling, 100% with the dawning of these new lights…and that’s perfectly okay.

Soul Spark

It has been said, “when the student is ready, the master appears”.    Could it be that when the soul is open and willing, God brings the lessons (sometimes painful) that take us to a higher level of surrender (closer to Him)?   It all fits like a perfect puzzle in the end, right?  The issue is that no earthling is privy to just what the end is.  Possibly, even, what we see as the end is truly the beginning.

My precious friend shared a wonderful Taoist parable with me, I was lost in the beauty of the words and awestruck when he asked me to consider that this was only the middle of our story.  If we are in the middle (or anywhere but the end), how is it possible to judge life circumstances as good or bad, for we don’t know the end result.  The parable goes like this:

Good or Bad; Who Knows?

There once was a poor rice farmer, who had a very small field just large enough to feed his family.

Then one day a herd of wild horses came run­ning through the vil­lage. They ran into the farmer’s rice field and got stuck in the mud, and since they couldn’t get away, they were his.

His neigh­bor came run­ning over and said, “This is good news! Such good for­tune! You are rich, this is amaz­ing!” And the rice farmer said, “Good news, bad news, who knows?”

A few weeks later the farmer’s 12-year-old son jumped up on one of the wild horses for a ride, only to be thrown off and have his leg bro­ken. The neigh­bor comes run­ning over and says, “Oh no, this is such bad news!” And the farmer said, “Good news, bad news, who knows?”

A week later a Chi­nese gen­eral is march­ing through the farmer’s village on the way to war. On this march, the army is con­script­ing every healthy boy over 10 years of age. So they took every boy in the vil­lage except the farmer’s son because of his bro­ken leg.

The neigh­bor comes run­ning over and says, “Yes! This is won­der­ful news, how lucky are you?!” And the father replies, “Good news, bad news, who knows?”

Life is bursting with opportunities to form dichotomies…good news or bad news, who knows?  There comes to mind a zillion personal thoughts initially perceived as bad news that turned out to be the best news.  The big ole stroke could’ve been the end of this earthly life.  Instead, it gave immediate notification of an unknown hole in my heart that was putting my life in imminent danger, that hole is now repaired.  My sweet Daddy’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis was horrific.  At the same time, there was so much healing in our relationship that occurred as a result of our time together those last years.  My divorce…I struggle with the good news in that, yet I fully trust that it’s there even when I only see glimpses.  Another  consideration; news for one might seem like bad news for another and vice versa.  Again, who knows?  Additionally, in each moment we choose our path.  Is it possible, even when the ‘good’ is concealed in the dark, to live confidently,  truly believing it’s there?  It is more than possible, and I seek to live passionately and wholeheartedly while walking in love, hope and integrity.

Am I living congruently?  Do the desires of my inner being mesh better with right this minute or also with hope for a bright future?  The things I (think) I believe in my core…do I?  Why or why not?  Where did I learn them?  Yes, I’ve been growing healthier spiritually, physically, professionally and emotionally but there is far more growth to come.  I don’t have answers.  I don’t want to argue…not even with myself.  I don’t want to prove anyone right or wrong.  I just want to seek the things that spark my soul.

There is this intense desire to live life fully, embracing completely the season I am in.  Learning to love and be loved wholeheartedly, to express and receive genuine adoration…these are “worthy wishes” that are new additions to my repertoire.  I’ve prayed often recently, wishing to strengthen my relationship with God more than anything and trusting that the rest will follow.  I’ve asked God often for heartfelt relationships that are soulful, deeply engaging and bring me closer to  Him. It should be no surprise that my eternally inquisitive spirit has recently been exposed to endless discussions that cause me to ponder and question my own belief system in every area.  I  cherish this journey, for every opportunity to investigate myself grants the opportunity to live a richer life.  There could be a blog written on each question, but until the internal chaos settles a bit, I can only name my ponderings.

  1.  Now that I’ve dared to dream the possibility of a future relationship, what would I dream that it looks like?  Heart flutters (the good kind), belly butterflies and googly eyes are excellent; but what beyond these precious prizes?
  2. I believe that God loves me and that I am secure in my salvation.  I am baffled that there is so much doubt surrounding that for so many that I love.  I’m left wondering how to defend my assuredness and my faith or if defend is even the right word.
  3. Conversations about God and spiritual practice make me happy.  They also make me think outside of my box.  In the end, all I can do is seek wise counsel and trust that I am on the path God has for me.  I really cannot fathom that my path is better than anyone else’s or that there’s is better than mine; I can keep an open heart and mind and seek the value.  I guess the challenge in this is searching my own soul and trusting that small, still voice.
  4. I am intrigued by the practices of worship, adoration, meditation, contemplation, and in how we all perceive God and our relationship (or lack of) with Him.  There are so many times that I have run from God, still he pursues me.  I wonder how I live out this unconditional kind of love in my own life?
  5. Where in the heck should I intern and how will this (work, family, growth, school, internship, etc) all come together?  This feels like another exercise in trust….am I on Candid Camera?
  6. It’s pure loveliness to be respected, doted over, and presented with fun surprises!  It’s lovely, novel, different and feels so grown up.  It makes me wonder why I have ever been okay with being treated as less than the beloved girl my Father created me to be.
  7. I don’t have a crystal ball or magic wand yet, I’m not sure why God hasn’t made those my spiritual gifts, lol! Hmmm hat I am reflecting on heavily is the joy in the journey and the impact of earnest gratitude. Gratitude is a life changer, Ranger!
  8. When I willingly lay down my burdens at the cross, everything, everything, everything changes.  Why do I insist on holding on not only to my hurt at times, but to control?  My theory…I had such a chaotic childhood that knowing the ‘what if’s’ and deciding how things should look creates a false sense of safety for me.  Time to let that illusion go.  Seriously.
  9. Some things build up slowly, other things are immediate.  One is not better than the other.  I do wonder though…what does it mean when there is an intense draw to one that I barely know and at the same time,  a desire to move away from or stay status quo with one I know well?
  10. Every spark (lots of the sparks) does NOT come through comfortable or kind vessels.  Don’t discount the spark, Sarah.
  11. We’ve all been hurt in the past. I think it’s just human nature to try and protect or defend ourselves from more hurt. Sometimes it’s covert and unconscious, other times it’s overt and intentional. Perhaps it’s worth it to investigate what fronts and defenses I put into play and to remember that before I know it, my walls become my devastating enemy.
  12. I forge out the what if’s and all the possibilities I foresee, and when others mess up my plans, I have a propensity toward an inner (sometimes outer) freak out. No! Stop. What an excellent opportunity to be reminded to trust God and his timing before my own. Those freak outs are humiliating and embarrassing and I don’t have to weigh it long to discern my own contribution to the ouch factor.
  13. Laughing…especially ay myself…even at my mistakes…it’s absolutely delightful medicine for my soul. Laughter sparks.
  14. There are places that spark my soul, and if they don’t spark my soul and I’m in those places daily…how do I change that trajectory?  Additionally, I dream of places I want to go…namely Maine and Vermont in the fall and back to the Cascade waterfalls.  Is that going to happen ever?  Gosh, I hope so.
  15. God is good, all the time.  All the time, God is good.  The more I believe this, the more my heart is filled with unwavering joy.

Albert Schweitzer said it beautifully, “In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out.  It is then burst into flame by and encounter with another human being.  We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.”  Life can take our flame and drown it in floodwaters until it’s seems like it’s gone; yet if we look closely, there is going to be the tiniest little spark remaining.  Much like the faith of a mustard seed that moves mountains is little spark that I feel rising within me.

I’m a ready and willing student and the teachers are coming in droves.  The good and the bad seem to cohabitation.

Good news or bad news?  Who knows.  Maybe that’s not the question.