reflections vs. shadow dwelling

I believe reflection is good.
It’s good to take intentional time to see “how I’ve grown since last month, last year…”

However I may have a tendency to be dramatic.
I may have a tendency to not know healthy boundaries until I’ve reached the edge of healthy & now it’s unhealthy.

I have done this in reflection, especially over the past several months.

Too much reflection ends up to be living in the shadows.
I have been reflecting so much, and looking back on last year, as more of a “what was I doing last year that I’m not doing this year” and it became an earmark of “this is how far I’ve wandered off into nothingness.”

That ain’t healthy reflection.

I turned what started as recalling happy memories, significant moments, lessons & people to this unhealthy comparison of, “I was in this incredible place and now I’m in this dark terrible place. How I’ve let myself wander astray so far” woe is me self pity party.

How long did this woe is me attitude persist? I’m unsure. But it was brought to my attention one day when God said to me,

You are not living in the shadows of your yesterdays.

What? Of course I am, look how I’ve settled back into familiar, back into comfort.
I’m nowhere near where I was last year, or even the year before.

Of course you’re not where you were last year, or two years ago. I was not doing then what I’m doing NOW.
You are not living in the shadows of your yesterdays.

This phrase, stuck in my head, though I did not understand what He meant by it.

A day or two later I was writing and He revealed more. Shadows. Think about your shadow when you’re outside.
Shadows are proof of the sunshine.
God gave me this practical picture to make a point.
Though this season, these past months, however long I’ve been subconsciously making the unhealthy comparisons, and through my feelings of unimportance, He reminded me, the shadows I’ve been feeling, they are real, but they prove the Sonshine. They prove His nearness. They prove His existence, no matter what I feel.

Like the sun that makes the shadows dance, his hope [when I’ve felt hopeless or hopeful] has remained as well. Hope is always here. It’s a matter of whether I feel it more or less. And that’s a choice I make.

Shoot.

It’s these uncomplicated conversations that shut up my whining. They shut up my unhealthy comparisons and bring me back to where I was meant to dwell.
In hope.
In light.

You are not living in the shadows of your yesterdays.

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disappointment, loneliness, rejection + how to move forward

 

Earlier this year, I read a book about rejection & moving forward.
I highly recommend the book; it’s Univited by Lysa TerKeurst. I was wondering this past weekend as I had a conversation with a new friend if I’m in a season I need to read it again.

I am not a stranger to rejection, loneliness and disappointment. Unfortunately, you probably are not strangers to them either.
The emotions and feelings these leave us with are not pleasant. Loneliness leaves us feeling low, hopeless & depressed.
Disappointment leaves us feeling we are stuck and we shouldn’t keep our hope or expectations as high next time because we’ll be let down, again.
Rejection leaves us feeling like we aren’t wanted, loved or valued.

The incredible thing about our feelings though- they can and will change. We have the deciding power, (and with Jesus even more so) to not be ruled by our emotions.

I am ruled by my emotions more than I would like to admit.
Papa has been teaching me (over the course of the past 20 months)

a) it’s okay to feel disappointed.
b) my emotions are valid and to immediately shut them down is to shut down my heart.
c) feeling the emotions is important, but don’t stay there too long.

It’s okay to feel disappointed.
Though the feelings of it don’t feel great and I feel like I’ve again placed my expectation where I shouldn’t have, disappointment is a positive sign. Hang with me. It’s positive in that when I feel disappointed, that disappointment allows me to evaluate. What was I hoping for? Who was I hoping in? What was I expecting & why do I feel let down? It’s a chance to look at the situation from a different perspective. So it’s positive in that feeling disappointed has the potential to help me see the situation differently.

My emotions are valid and to immediately shut them down is to shut down my heart.
Positive and negative emotions are valid. They are real. To deny them or beat yourself up for feeling them will not diminish the real emotion.
I grew up feeling that I shouldn’t  show my emotions. I felt I had to stuff them, most especially the negative and confusing emotions.
I was taught to “just get over it.” If it was not beneficial, I didn’t feel I was allowed to share it. I wasn’t taught what I felt was okay to share.
So I swept feelings under the rug. I stuffed my feelings of frustration, hurt.
Y’all, at 28 years of age I am just now discovering that it’s healthy to express the hurt & disappointment. Discovering is an active verb- I have not mastered sharing the hurt or rejection, but I have had a couple significant conversations this past year.
This is a process & I am still stuffing emotions that I should share.

Feeling the emotions is important, but don’t stay there too long.
This one is fresh in my mind & heart.
Just the beginning of this week I had a significant heart-Papa moment. I’ve been on a particularly emotional journey of my heart the past several months and Papa spoke such a timely sentence to me and I felt He was so right, and the time was right. Over the two days, I checked in on my heart & felt I had peace, for what had seemed like a long stint of not feeling peace about the matter.
Essentially, Papa told me, it’s time to breathe, let go, move forward. Don’t shut your heart down to this situation, that won’t bring health and wholeness. But it’s time to give the last pieces of this to me.

:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: 

This is some of what Papa had been taking me through this past year and a half, nearly 2 years.
It hasn’t been light, joy had felt far at times.
I’ve felt the most transparent and honest, and later I feel I’m stuffing emotions and shutting my heart down.

I’m here to share this- Papa has a plan. He’s at work. Whether it feels like your on a mountaintop or stuck in a predictable routine that you find yourself loathing.
He is at work. Whether you feel close or far to Him, He is near & He is at work.
He loves you.

He values you.

You are exceedingly important to Him.

You are worth pursuing.
Friends, I don’t want to pretend I have mastered this journey. I have not. I’m stumbling and whining along the way.

You’re not alone! I’m not alone.

When God told me my future husband won’t be hot

 

Y’all, can I be real with you?
Do you have those moments when you’re on a walk or cleaning or cooking, or something without really thinking & God shows you a lie you’ve been believing for so long, and you realise how ridiculous it is?

This morning I was out for a run/walk and just letting my thoughts run wherever (ha, pun not intended). And God turns on a light bulb and “wait a second, I’ve had this ideal in my head for years & it’s been seeping in without me knowing it. You sneaky little…”

Girls, if you were like me, back in preteen & teen years with your closest girlfriends you would talk about your list. The list of who you dreamed your future husband would be.
I wrote silly things on this list.
I kept it in a special box. I read it about 7 years later & decided I needed to part ways with it.
It’s good I did.
But I still had lingering ideas that culture, books, movies & such had me thinking were “musts” in a man I would be pursued by.
The major thing on this list I was still believing: he has to be “hot.”

Attraction is important. Super important. Attraction is what draws me to my friends & in and of itself is a good thing. Attraction is not wrong.
But this standard or idea of “hot”, what is that even?
I use hot to describe the temperature of my coffee, and the temperature of water or air.
“The temperature outside in Redding is hot, especially in the summer time.”
“Come eat your food while it’s hot.”

But to describe a person as hot? Uh, I describe myself as hot when I’m sweaty, overheated and want to jump in a cool lake or river.

Character is attractive.
Discovering who a person is on the inside, when they share their life, their heart, that’s attractive.
Jesus present in their life is attractive. Pursuing a life of adventure with God, growing to be more like Jesus, letting God heal your pain & your past, that is attractive.

Join me in removing this idea we’ve got about our future mister or miss being “hot” and let’s pursue a life of adventure with our Creator. We are drawn to Him and naturally we’ll be drawn to others pursuing Him as well.

Maybe this is why Papa says for us not to worry, especially about the future because He’s got good gifts & adventures for us to open.

He’s a good father!

Thanks for this fresh perspective Papa.

 

F i v e MONTHS

Today marks five months since I came back into the US of A.

A couple days ago marked being back in Redding two months.

How is it that coming back into the States feels like it was just yesterday and simultaneously ages ago?

One year ago I was about 7,374 miles away from where I am now.
Over seven thousand miles. Across a vast ocean and on another continent.

Just this week I moved in with different roomies than the ones I had been with the first two months  here.

Transition last year was one aspect of the year I felt was difficult every time we left one place & stopped in another.
Transition into the States has been extremely difficult & complex.
Yet, this time around, I felt I was coming into a place I didn’t have to tiptoe around. I guess I could call this home.

Home is where I feel I can be myself.
At home I feel comfortable.
At home I don’t have to tiptoe around.
At home I don’t feel I’m an intrusion on someone else’s space.
Home I feel I can let my guard down.

Being in so many different homes last year, I think I learned how to make myself comfortable in a home whether it’s mine or feels like a safe haven.

I’ll be straight though- home is a strange concept & more of an idea to me. Home to me is where I can let my guards down & not feel judged. Judgement from myself or others. Home to me is most often with my closest mates. It’s less of a geographic location & more of a sense of belonging.

Home to me has been:
: a rooftop in Casablanca.
: in the company of my bestest mates.
: sitting in a tree.
: at the lake side.
: in my pjs on a slow morning.
: loving conversation in Nepal.
: learning to play cricket in India.
: curled on the floor crying surrounded in prayer in Nazareth.
: ice cream with a pal in Kathmandu.
: baking pie with a chum in Cali.
: knitting & processing on a couch staring at a Christmas tree in Washington.
: venturing with two sisters in Oregon.
: taco dinner with new friends.

// glancing back at the past five months, there has been so much to process & adjust to. I still have so much to process. Yesterday I read a chapter in a book that was exactly what I needed to read. ((Amazing how that comes about, and it’s happened almost every time I’ve sat down to read this book.))
The book is Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst. I highly recommend the read. Essentially the book is about rejection, feeling lonely & left out.
The chapter I read yesterday was about the in between stages of feeling the sting of pain, hurt, rejection & moving toward healing.
Pain- in the physical is a sign of something wrong, and it causes us to move toward healing. If we don’t feel the pain, how can we move toward healing? We must acknowledge the pain to move to healing.
I’ll let these excerpts speak for themselves… they spoke to me & I pray they speak hope to you wherever you are today.

// \\

Pain is the gift that motivates us to fight with brave tenacity and fierce determination knowing there’s healing on the other side.

Numbing the pain never goes to the source of the real issue to make us healthier. It only silences our screaming need for help.

Pain is the sensation that indicates a transformation is needed.

So don’t berate yourself for being in pain. It just means you are walking toward victory by not numbing yourself right now. You are making progress. You aren’t going to be stuck in this.

// Thank you Jesus for your constant encouragement when I tune my ear to hear you.
Thank you Papa you have never left me & never will.
Thank you for loving me every step of this unique journey I’m on.

You’re not alone friends.

I pray you’re encouraged today. Keep your head up.
I pray you have a space you feel at home & belong. A place you can be yourself free from judgement, whether it’s from yourself or others.

You matter.
You’re incredibly important.
This world you find yourself in needs you, the real you.
:: (( book )) Lysa TerKeurst, Uninvited ::

Transparency //

 

I’ve had some major breakthrough in this area of communicating what’s in my heart over the past 3 weeks. I thought, “Man I could write this in a blog & share the breakthrough I’ve been experiencing… The courage & bravery I had… How I’ve seen the affects of giving my heart a voice.”

 

I could share a snippet of the mixed emotions & thoughts throughout my days as I’ve been transitioning back into the workplace after 15 months of NOT being In the workplace.

 

I could share the life & joy I feel to be reunited with my friends in real life. It’s a place I feel loved & important.

 

I could share all these things & more, but today I’ve been feeling meh.
I’m currently eating cheese & have already had half a glass of wine & kinda feel like shit.

I’ve already eaten my “dinner” (which may or may not be my dinner & just a snack) & it’s nearly 5pm. I skipped my run today bc as I was about to leave, it started to rain & I wasn’t feeling like going.

Am I the only one who feels the pressure to have my shit together all the time? Is that something everyone experiences? Does everyone experience it but feels too ashamed to share it because of their age or status of work or status of marriage & family??

Well, I give you permission to not have your shit together! No matter what your life looks like! You don’t have to have it together!

Isn’t that what transparency is?
Being able to feel allowed to say I don’t have it together without feeling shamed or less than?

You are not less than!

I am not less than bc of what I shared about my afternoon!

I’m not pulling the lazy card here & saying that I didn’t work out just cuz I didn’t feel like it. That’s not what I’m saying. If people think you’re just being lazy, but you feel they are saying “you’re less than”, I hear you.

 

// I’m back working in an elementary school & I had a realisation today. “Bad behaviour” in school, let’s take the example of not participating or scribbling on a paper or getting frustrated bc you didn’t get an answer right the first time…I have a new perspective on this.

We call it bad behaviour or acting out & we tell/ask the kid to knock it off, pull it together, make a different choice, whatever we say. If the kid feels they can’t get frustrated or mad (at school or home) those frustrations are pent up inside & they need to get out!
I get it!

If you’re frustrated & don’t feel allowed to express your frustration, you’re going to stuff it down as if into a bottle. Soon enough the bottle won’t be able to hold anymore & an explosion is impending.

Are we allowing our kids and selves to not have it together 24/7??

Do we expect perfection?

Are we so used to performance that’s all we know & anything that’s outside of putting a mask on is not allowed bc we don’t know how to deal with it.

😬

 

It’s okay to not know how to deal with it!!!!
It’s okay to feel!

It’s okay to be frustrated!

It’s okay to feel hurt!

It’s okay to feel what you’re feeling whether it’s positive or negative!

 

Look I’m no sociologist or psychologist or counsellor.
One of my major breakthroughs though, that I briefly mentioned up front, has to do with allowing myself to feel hurt & feeling allowed to communicate that.

Actually, for the past 28 years, up until this breakthrough, I never felt allowed to voice my hurt to who hurt me.

I was taught & shown to “just get over it” or sweep it under the rug. I didn’t feel allowed to talk about it until very recently!

// Did you hear me? I didn’t feel allowed to express my hurt. For 28 years. Tell me I’m not solo in that boat. //

I didn’t feel allowed to hurt or voice my hurt until a couple weeks ago!

Boy, let me tell ya it took guts on my part to voice it. Boy, I’ll tell ya when I voiced it, it took a while to get it out & give my heart a voice.

It was received well!

I was heard & not shamed & not made to feel something different.

L I S T E N : : Whatever you are feeling, about yourself, a friendship, a conversation, you name it :: it’s okay! You’re allowed to feel that way!
Now here’s my challenge : : voice it. Take some time to write it down & talk to someone you trust & feel safe with.

I don’t have this mastered by any means. What I do have are two recent conversations to look back at and say, “this is what I did & I want to keep doing it, and I’ve learned this from it.”

You’re heart is important & you need to give it a voice.

This is what courageous bravery looks like. This is what transparency is.

I believe in you.