Friday, May 30, 2014

Nothing - Five Minute Friday

I've been married for nine years.  When we were newly weds, I'd ask my husband what he was thinking and he'd say "nothing".  I didn't believe him.  But it kept happening.  He kept saying the same thing.

If I was asked what I was thinking, I couldn't in good conscience say "nothing" because I'm always thinking something and normally about seventeen things at the same time.  I thought he was being evasive.

It turns out I was wrong.  The male of the species, is apparently able to think absolutely nothing, they can just switch their brains off.  Several therapy and comedic sources finally made me believe that it was possible - they were male, they said it was true.

I have sincerely wished I could do the same, but I cannot.   I was sick last week and I was grateful for the mind-break.  I knew I was better when I tried to go to sleep one night and my brain went 'bing' and started working on oh so many ideas and projects that are unlikely to ever to be put into practise because my early-a.m. body never agrees with my late-p.m. mind that making them manifest is important.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Learning to dance in the rain - Whitespace Thursday

I've spent most of my life holding my breath.  Rarely feeling safe enough to exhale, never mind to actually rest.

Despite being an optimist, I am not often a happy one; most of the time my most positive emotion is relief.  Relief that maybe, at last, someone might listen to me.  Maybe, at last, the time of crisis is over.  Maybe, at last, I have some time to myself.  And then I use that time to grieve for all the hard stuff I've been through, before it starts all over again.  Lurching from one crisis or difficult phase to another, I've begun to realise that constantly waiting for the calm after the storm and before the next might not be the best way to live.

The new journal I bought says

 "We are NOT here to wait for the storm to pass but to learn to dance in the rain".

Since moving to the new realm, I hardly ever see actual raindrops fall from the sky.  But the storms of life are just as common above my head here as they were in the old realm.  Soon after moving, I determined that I would live my life more restfully, more peacefully, more quietly, in the hope that it would soothe my soul.  I have prioritised rest, I have as peaceful a life as I can with the two small people and one big person I live with, I savour the quiet when it comes, but I still struggle with unrest in my soul.

I WANT to know how to dance in the metaphorical rain (I've done the literal version).  I'm hoping that I might find the key in the spiritual whitespace Bonnie Gray talks about in her new book.

In her story I am finding strong echoes of my own.  She doesn't promise me solutions.  She offers only "whispers, etched in pain".  But these I trust.  If I speak in my "full voice", when I utter truth from my heart, it is never loud.  I too, can only offer a whisper of wisdom, or confession.

And I too, know what it feels like to be unwanted.  I know the longing of wanting to be known but the overwhelming fear of the transparency that requires.  Her gentle prompts to open up to Jesus, and to find the little girl deep inside me - they reverberate in my soul.  They help me to believe that hard work, self-sufficiency and "getting on with it" are not necessarily the most helpful practices when trying to move past the wounds of the past.  I appreciate her guidance, knowing that she also is a wounded warrior on this pilgrimage of life.

The idea of stepping into 'whitespace' is quite daunting, and yet inviting.  A place where 'being seen' is valued at the cost of our hiding places.  Striving to survive was not my life's goal, yet it is the place I find myself.  I long to be saved, mostly from myself.  So I take Bonnie's challenge to find spiritual whitespace and the gentle mercy of Jesus within it.  I will stop seeking my own solutions and listen for my Saviour's voice.

Jesus promised us 'trouble' in this life, but He also promised He would be present with us.  In all my lonely wonderings about life in the old realm, I forget that He knows, He was there with me, and still is now.

I don't know how to dance in the rain yet, but maybe I  hear a few musical notes floating in my direction.  And I think my toes are starting to tap!  I'll let you know when I've learned a few steps.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Time to sleep? time to rest? or time to remember? - Whitespace Thursday

This week the Princess is claiming sleep as her superpower!  This has happened before (she knows never to take two Benadryl again if she wants to be conscious) but this time it was due to some virus that made her stomach ache but mostly made her crave her bed.  Sir Rianus was slightly perturbed that she was spending so long in slumberland; he claimed it was because he missed her, the Princess is sure he is jealous of her superpower!

Sleep is good, the Princess has always believed so.  It was prescribed to her by her mother as a cure all and it worked fairly well.  Naps have still be known to get the Princess out of a terrible funk sometimes.  But even though the last couple of years have featured a decent night's rest most of the time (unlike when the wee man and little maiden were babes) the Princess still longs for rest.  She can often sleep through noise and light or in strange conditions but she finds it harder to rest in those circumstances.  What she is really looking for is:

"Space to breathe, to feed her soul, and dream dreams."*

This is more elusive to the Princess than sleep.

Princess Morag had been looking forward to this morning as finally her chance to rest.  Finally, there would be some peace and quiet as Sir Rianus was returning to work.  Not to be - the wee man came down with the sickness so the Princess is not alone, and it is not quiet.

But she is here, and she is fighting to maintain her concentration and be creative.  It is not the same though.  The Princess knows her limits.  When her son is present, her radar is switched on, and she cannot rest.  She remembers those long years of his baby and toddler-hood when she could never rest.  She discovered her supercapacity to be hypervigilant.  That's tiring to read, never mind operate your life on!

Only one person knew that she was suffering so much, that she was completely strung out.  He met her in tears of grief and exhaustion.  He met her at the moments when everything was too much.  She wasn't always aware that He was there.  But now that she looks back, it's the only explanation for how she kept going.  She would reach breaking point and then someone would get sick, or Sir Rianus was going to be late home, and she just had to "get on with it" as her mother would always say for another day, another week....

This morning, she is in that same place, of knowing that she needs a break, a rest, and it might not be coming as soon as she would like.  But He is here, He is her strength.  He will help her to keep going.  He will give her the love they need from her.  She trusts in this more now.  She believes He is faithful, because she remembers.

And there might not be a whole hour, but there will be moments of quiet.  There will be time to sit with a cup of coffee and read a little, an interruption probably guaranteed but Princess Morag is getting better at telling Princess Perfectionist to hush and take a break.  It might not be exactly what she wanted out of the time, but it will be enough.

*From Finding Spiritual Whitespace by Bonnie Gray

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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Alone? - Whitespace Thursday

I went alone.  I invited four people.  Three couldn't make it and one didn't reply.  I didn't mind going alone, it had been my original idea.  But then I thought it might be nice to invite a friend.  I thought inviting four people increased the odds that at least one person might come.  It didn't turn out that way.

For a few hours I felt sad and hurt and rejected.  These were familiar feelings, but it had been a while.  A while since I'd allowed myself to be vulnerable to ask someone for something.  A while since the rejection that I feared, came.  I was pretty sure it wasn't personal, they weren't trying to avoid me.  And when my heart reacted in the same painful manner as in the past, I didn't like myself.

Making my mind up to do it anyway.  Making my mind up to not let myself wallow in bitterness.  Making my mind up that I should do the thing I wanted to do - that was the important thing.  So I got ready.  And I went.  And I was glad.

I sat at the back of the movie theater, in the left corner.  It was a good view.  The small theater was bustling and at the end there was a smattering of applause and some cheering.  They were vocal in their agreement that 'Heaven is for real'.  I agreed too, but slipped out quietly instead of hollering!

When I reached home, I sat in the car for a while.  There were a lot of thoughts and feelings that had arisen.  I had found it frustrating that there could be so little belief within a 'Christian' community.  But the characters in the movie, based on real people, were not saints.  They were just regular people.  And the humanness that was portrayed was heartening.  Trials one on top of the other had threatened to overwhelm.  Then came the voice of a child to tell them not to be afraid.  It was real, Jesus was real, he had seen him.  When each character embraced their brokenness, belief was found shortly after.  If we hide from our pain, we don't need a healer.  If we hide from our faults we don't need a redeemer.  If we hide from the fact that we are lost, we don't need a saviour.  Children naturally look to their caregivers when they are hurt, they are always conscious of the rules for behaviour (even if they don't always follow them) and they don't often go far alone.  As Jesus said, we would do well to be like little children.

"Then He called a child to Him and had him stand among them. “I assure you,” He said, “unless you are converted and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child—this one is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  "  (Matthew 18:2-4 HCSB)

But what of the little children that we never get to meet, the ones who never get the chance to grow up?  From the evidence in the movie, they go straight to be with Jesus and my heart knows they are happy there; but my heart is broken that families are missing little ones who belong to them.  I cried for the babies I knew that had gone straight to heaven, and later I realised that I must have siblings waiting to meet me there; maybe I have a sister!  Maybe, I wasn't really alone when I went out.

I believe that heaven is for real.  I believe it is closer than I think most days.

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Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Quieting - Whitespace Thursday

He cried and raged and blamed me and told me about all his terrible thoughts about me.

I hadn't committed a crime against him, I had simply said no to the thing he thought he wanted most of all.

I went about my business as he vented his feelings, then when I grew tired of his shouting I sat down beside him.

I invited him to crawl into my lap and he did.

He kept talking, he kept complaining.

I kept holding him and tried to gently correct his angry biased thinking.

Then I closed my mouth and tried to simply let my presence do the talking: my arms wrapped around him.

The impulse I had was what the Lord wants to do for us.

When we are angry, complaining children that didn't get our way.

When we're telling him that it "wasn't supposed to be this way".

When we try to bargain with Him.

When we want to throw Him out of the picture, and no longer bother having Him in our lives.

But at the same time, we're crawling into His lap in prayer.

And all He wants to do is

quiet us with His love.

(Zephaniah 3:17)

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Friday, May 02, 2014

Mess - Five Minute Friday

My house is a mess.  I don't like when it's messy but I apparently don't hate it enough to do anything about it, so it's still a mess.  The legos are no longer in the kitchen though - this is a wonderful victory.  Legos and kitchens don't really go well together.  Instead the lego are under the new loft bed.  Loft beds are a very good invention, except when you are trying to put sheets on the loft bed and have to climb up to do so.

I am now seriously wondering whether Emmet's double decker couch idea (from the Lego Movie), may in fact be awesome.  Especially the storage facility under the seats - that was a really good idea....!

In the meantime we will make do with the loft bed and completely inadequate storage, and probably continue to live in a mess.