Good Grief.

Pain is pain. Hurt is hurt. We like to give rank to some pain over others, and though it might hurt more to lose someone to death than a breakup, for example, we don’t get to lessen someone else’s hurt. A lot of the time pain feels the same…it’s the duration that changes. It’s our capacity to feel it even.

Pain feels like pain regardless of the severity of the problem.

I have come to an understanding in myself on this very topic. For a time in my life I kept my pain inside, because I thought it was petty. I thought it would sound stupid or sound like complaining. Honesty doesn’t promise to be pretty…much of it isn’t at all. I had a wonderful life and family and no reason to be ungrateful. Here’s the thing though, I kept inside that I felt certain hurts in my life, because I made it small, and guess what, that harvested so much negativity. Negative thoughts and actions, and all of that could have been avoided, if I hadn’t avoided it to begin with.

Years later I’ve come to realize that grieving is a GOOD thing.

I remember reading in a book a few years back that pain demands to be felt. It’s hard to pay attention to something else when your stomach hurts or you’ve broken a bone, right? So why do we have such a hard time understanding that our emotional hurts do the same thing to our physical selves. These experiences change how we interpret the world. How we see ourselves. It’s crazy to me that we can probably all relate to this feeling. This heavy, exhausted, don’t want to talk about it, desire to be anywhere else, any other life, get me to the next picture I can post life. I’m guilty of it, and I don’t even want it. Oh the tension. Haha.

Today I know that you don’t get over pain that you make small for the world’s sake or even your neighbor’s. You have to feel your way out. You have to understand the weight of what hurts you and work your way through the ugly why. You come out understanding yourself better, which allows you to treat yourself with respect and teach others to treat you with respect, AND treat others with respect.

I hear people casually put themselves and the hurts and pains they feel down more than I’d like to say I have. It’s so commonplace in the society we’ve created. This “get it together” world is what we’ve created and it’s hurting our relationships and our souls. We feel isolated in this overstimulated place. How is that?  Numb. That’s what happens when you are overstimulated with all the things this world has to offer. You are in synaptic overload. Emotional overload. “Perfect” world overload. We push down the things in our hearts that hurt us and leave them there to fester, because “time heals all wounds”. No actually it doesn’t; God does…and it takes time. If we leave hurt alone for years, guess what comes up years later in our relationships, our family life, the rules we run by, the games we play…oh that ugly little thing we thought we’d buried. We forgot that just because it can feel good, procrastination doesn’t solve problems.

We’ve forgotten the importance of grieving. Whether it’s the loss of a job or a friend or maybe your favorite restaurant that’s closing. (I get that those aren’t “equal” but the point is it’s not a sin to grieve something regardless of the bigness of the thing.) I’m not trying to say we should grieve every little thing in life, but if it bothers you grieve that it’s gone…and learn to let it go. Yeah it might sound dumb…but that’s how you heal. That’s how you become a genuine human being. That’s how you recognize and give importance to something you truly enjoyed.

I started doing this very thing two years ago and it changed my life. I learned to lament. Which sounds kind of stupid, let me clarify, I learned to ALLOW myself to lament. Actual lamenting is a natural thing that we do without having to learn. The allowing ourselves is a totally different beast. Now I get it, lamenting a closing restaurant probably isn’t the case, but you can still grieve it and move on. Lament is a crying out. Wailing out. Complete lack of words for the sadness.

I think as a society we need to quit praising faked strength. Do you ever see a post on social media that looks like a strong stand up quote or revelation?

Sometimes I wonder if it’s honestly an outward expression of inside pain. And don’t get me wrong sometimes it benefits us to consciously stand up for the pain we feel by posting something or doing something to remind ourselves we aren’t sitting in it. That might look fake because it’s not maybe 100% where we are right at that moment. It’s not wrong to do that. That’s ok, I’m not knocking that. I will say that sometimes I hope that people have a best friend or spouse to share the truth with when I see those posts. It tugs on my heart.

I knew someone years ago, who didn’t share their inner pain often. And to be honest, I think their inner pain ate them from the inside out. Not literally, of course. But their thoughts, the way they interpreted situations, the way they treated people closest to them, it was completely rationalized as this is the smart thing to do.

I cannot emphasize this enough…find someone you can trust and find accountability. You are not alone.

Social media doesn’t need to know your whole life. Let me repeat that. Social media DOES NOT need to know your whole life. But we are built for community and vulnerability.

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Relationships.

Falling in love is easy. You don’t see it coming. You just kind of trip in.

Staying there might take every ounce of who you are…and who you aren’t yet.

Relationships regardless of whether it’s friendship or marriage take work. We’ve all heard this.

I can’t bypass planting and cultivating a garden and still reap a harvest. I also can do everything in my power to get a harvest and I have no actual power over how many flowers or fruits grow abundantly. Some things will be harder to grow than others.

I think the world, myself included, forgets that love and trust and understanding aren’t inherent in the definition of friendships or relationships. I think we assume that they will bring companionship and intimacy.  Sometimes we just expect that everyone else will treat us how we want and forget that not everyone has the same ideas about how to do so. We are in our own heads and therefore that makes sense.

Love and trust and understanding, however are characteristics people possess. That’s what makes certain relationships right for certain people and not work out for others. You have to find someone who is willing to grow and live how you want to as well. Shared vision and purpose is more important than liking all the same things. You have to put in love to reap it. Learn to forgive to get it. If we take out more than we put in, we are like dogs frantically digging deep holes. You can’t reap a harvest from a garden of empty holes.

I see a lot of the world around me doing just this. I’ve been there myself, I’ll probably be there again.

But I urge you to look at the life you have. How many times have you been hurt in this life? Lost someone you loved? Got dumped? Were lied to? Felt left out? Felt uncared for?…This world is full of hurt. Too much to even count.

But the way we decide to move forward is the difference. It’s what grows you. It’s what builds you. And by being the very person you hope to find, to inspire and attract that in your own life.

Impatience.

Impatience.

Thick like mud. Like humid air. Like sweat beading on your skin.

Type. Delete. Search. Exit window. My fingers type wildly for an outlet.

Lists increase in size and the dreams in magnitude.

I’ve planned ten trips in two weeks. Added three destinations to my watch list on the hopper app. Visited Airbnb at least a dozen times. Checked car rental prices and wish lists so many times it’s not even surprising that all my ads on facebook have changed to travel ads.

Each of these searches ended in the exited browser window.

My mind whispers into my longing heart…don’t wait anymore. My heart aches at that, but it also knows you can’t make things happen or work out any more than you can get a cat to listen to you. It will move on its own.

Part of me wanted to put this part of me down. Wish or pray it away. This girl who longs so much for fresh open air, to lay back on completely uncomfortable rocks, and not care that she has dirt on her skin or the seat of her yoga pants and probably a powdery feel to her hair. This is me. Raw, and true. In my most comfortable state, when the worries fall away…slip off, I’m left as my soul so in love that nothing else matters. The freedom I long for every day.

I wanted to pray for contentment and patience. But I’m realizing it’s not discontentment or impatience, though it’s always good to pray for more of those things. This is a part of my spirit. I have to learn how and when to use this part of my heart. This part of me shouldn’t be wished away. It should be molded and guided. And that, my friends, is very hard to do.

It’s been a little bit since I’ve typed anything. Since I’ve tried to make sense of what’s in my head. Life has been on autopilot…that might be my least favorite type of pilot.

Sometimes the best thing we can do for our souls is just stop. Stop trying to make things work out. Stop trying to make life happen. Just stop.

Sometimes I’m forced to stop, which is more than often the case.

My heart has not felt present in the space I’m in. But God has been disciplining my heart to understand. I can love being in new places, but I CANNOT want the place over his presence.

I have so much to learn.

A Future.

Why do you not dream of the future?

…silence.

My voice in my head is so good at speaking up until it’s asked a heart wrenching question.

…maybe I don’t believe I have one.

Maybe I sit in my chair and think this is my space. This is my box. These are the corners. I can stretch my arms out and know that it’s safe. Tomorrow is just today repeated. Just a collection of todays…

Isn’t that such a constricting, limiting thought? No growth. No change. No improvement or movement.

Stagnation is an epitome of Hell.

 

On cold mornings I actually love to sit outside consumed in an oversized, fluffy blanket and dream. So this morning the surprise of snow was just a love note. I close my eyes and breathe in the aroma of my coffee and remember journaling outside a café in Denver before heading to the top of Pikes Peak. The cold bite of air, partnered with the sound of pen to paper fresh in my mind. Looking down to see a stain on my hiking boots from the day before in the Rockies.

If you asked me to dream, it would be of mountains. The crunch of gravel under foot. Slight sweat as I assess the best way up a tough part of the trail. The soft chatter of my best friends not far ahead. No set in stone schedule day to day. Just the heart drawing you to places where you come alive. The views that draw your heart out in the form of tears. A heart that’s untamed by the thoughts of what should I be.

 

John 10:10 comes into play because God’s been throwing it in my path now for weeks.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (ESV)

 

I always focus on the first part of this verse. Watch out for the devil he’s gonna try to steal, kill, and destroy you.

But you see the end is the part we should focus on. The God end of the bargain.

 

I (God) came that they may have life. (and not just any life) Abundant life.

 

Focus on God and He will uphold His end of the bargain.

Abundant life is a promise to you.

No future, huh?

Just a collection of todays, you say?

Well watch out then. Because I never waste one.

Comparison.

It comes in so many forms, and maybe the most dangerous is the one we hold it in our hands.

“Connection”

*swipe*

“Motivation”

*scroll*

Glowing in our faces. In the most intimate areas of our life, when we are by ourselves, it shines in our eager eyes.

This past weekend I realized something while scrolling social media, and I had to stop it.

I follow a lot of fitness people on social media, yoga mostly and a few others. I tell myself it’s for ideas…which it is at its core. I noticed a common thread and decided it doesn’t come into alignment with my beliefs.

Many fitness people post photos wearing little and sometimes no clothing.

Here’s my beef. I don’t workout to post photos in near to nothing as proof of the gym or the reason for it.

I’ll be transparent here. I go to the gym quite often. 5 days a week. I’m pretty dedicated to it. And here’s why…I enjoy it. I actually enjoy spinning, barre, yoga, weights, Tabata, TRX, running, climbing, hiking, cardio…yes all the cardio, and most everything inbetween. I don’t do any of those things for the soul purpose to lose weight or staying at my current weight. (I don’t even own a scale, for good reason.) Progress is NOT a number.

I like sweating at the gym. I like feeling accomplished, and honestly a little sore. Without the gym I suffer from insomnia about once a week or more, which is actually one of my biggest physical reasons for going. I have too much energy, and I can drive everyone insane. But it actually started because I found in college it was one of the only ways I could study well. One of the only ways I could be focused in on one thing. (For those who don’t know I’m most likely ADHD. And oh sweet sleep. That too.)

Now I realize that liking the gym might be the minority, but there are a lot of ways to do fitness. I encourage you to find one you enjoy, it helps a lot. I won’t lie, I enjoy seeing my own progress…measured in what I can do, maybe it’s more squats, more weight, or a difficult pose I’ve been working on for months. Sometimes it’s just by the fact that the next time I do it, I’m not sore after. Maybe it’s because I see a muscle I was told I had and never knew what it did. Maybe that means I can run a half marathon, or I can run after the sweetest little kiddos in my life, but not JUST how I look. Yes, looks can be a result of working out, but don’t cheapen your progress to just this.

Here’s my point. In a completely innocent desire to find new workouts and moves, I found that I compared something I love with everyone else’s highlight reel. I have been bombarded. I started to feel like what I did wasn’t enough. I must be a sad yogi if I never get my feet off the floor regularly. If this happens to you, I’m going to urge you to try something. One word.

Unfollow.

Delete.

Adios.

I most likely have undiagnosed ADHD. I have asthma. I have psoriasis, on my face nonetheless. I don’t have a killer six pack. I have high cholesterol. I have cellulite on my backs of my legs. My skin has a mind of its own sometimes, and it can make me self conscious. I still get breakouts from time to time even though I’m almost out of my 20’s. I still can want all the foods that are bad for me, and also like really weird things that are good for me, like beets and spaghetti squash. I don’t know why. The point is we all are a collection of things. I don’t know your battle. I don’t know what you are going through, or what you’ve been through. I’ll never claim to, but I have my own no one else lives out but me. I can’t just live like the social media feed. My life and fitness will look different than everyone else’s life and fitness. And that is ok. Social media sometimes can make me think there’s only one win here, but there are so many wins that people don’t mention. Like one extra push up, your first push up on your feet, or your first push up ever! A one mile run or one more mile. Keeping up with your kids or your grandkids without running out of breath, and most of the world will never post those on social media. Those wins might be more ground shaking than all the inversions in the world.

It gets comfortable. Like your favorite worn in, ripped up, faded jeans. Like the softest cotton tee shirt you sleep in. Don’t let yourself get to that level of comfort with your soul and social media. When we are by ourselves we are so much more likely to talk down on ourselves. When we aren’t actively aware we are more likely to buy into what we see with our innocent eyes. The full set of abs on a person, who may never have struggled with weight, or sickness, or skin conditions, or loss, or whatever it is in your heart that you’ve encountered. This isn’t proof that you’re failing, because you aren’t where they are. The moment I start telling myself I should start doing yoga everyday just because someone else is, is the moment I’m doing it for the wrong reasons. I’m not meant to do yoga just because someone else is. I’m meant to do yoga because it gives me more ability to be who my soul is designed to be, if it does.

I’m not saying you can’t look at social media or that everyone you follow isn’t motivating. I’m just calling out something I see. If it makes you feel less than. If it makes you feel crumby. It’s not life giving; it needs to go. We don’t get enough time to spend any of it wasted on feeling less than who we are.

Always more.

I sat in a place I’ve sat many times and realized I was withholding the very thing I’m created for. To love. Love when your scared. Love when you don’t know the outcome. To hope for something. To dream a little bigger. Make God bigger than all the other things. It’s His rightful place. I talk about it all the time, yet needed desperately to make it personal this morning. And so on this ridiculously warm morning, I looked at my life and realized how easy it is to put up a wall in defense of the unknown and not even realize it.

Pretzel legs and hands open, I repented.

I sang these simple words.

“Unreserved, unrestrained, your love is wild Your love is wild for me.”

Reckless love…

That’s what we receive…and it’s what I’m called to.

Ending in 8.

Just like that she let go.

With ink passing over clean spaces.

Strong, sharp inhale. Slow, shaky exhale.

A hum lightly in the background. Fear rushing out, as the unfamiliar pushes in.

Closed eyes.

She let go.

Of the girl everyone thought she was. In her stillness, she let go. It wasn’t for show. It was for her soul. It was for every decision she made by holding on for too long. It was the reminder that you are more than your physical self and the thoughts that circle.

The slow, drawn out sound of scissors by careful, steady hands.

It was a bold stirring of the heart to change and to not be stuck on the comfort of being what someone else approves of, including yourself.

Hum. Buzz. Snip.

Inhale, sharp. Exhale, slow.

Without a sound. Eyes closed. She let go. One unsteady breathe at a time.

Opened her hands and gave every ounce of her heart, for the hope that the best is yet to come.