Wildly Imperfect in My Own Gorgeous Way

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I started writing this blog as my attempt at journaling. It then phased into my Facebook before Facebook. I used it for updating friends and family about our life and for sharing things I thought were important with those who were interested to know. Over the years it morphed into only conveying the spiritual lessons I was learning along the way which tended to make it more thought out and edited (because when it comes to a person’s theology, I do NOT want to lead anyone astray.) But with that new intention for posting came a sense of required eloquence and weight to deeply affect people with every post. Eventually, I didn’t have the brain power to maintain that kind of conversation with my blog followers regularly, so I just stopped “talking” (blogging). These days I post here and there but even as I sit here right now and type this, I feel the freedom to not impress, to not sound like a “wise sage” that has all of the answers. I admit, in the past I wanted people to think I was highly intellectual, I mean I did study the Bible for a college degree. But now I am comfortable sitting in the reality that I am smart without having to prove it to you, even when mom brain kicks in and deletes a word or two from my database. Ah, the joys of being in my thirties! Age has granted me permission to release carrying the weight of everyone else’s world on my shoulders and guided me to the importance of keeping my personal world healthy and strong. There are times I try to dabble in both realities still but I am hopeful by 40 I will allow myself the freedom to live without expectations that suffocate me.

So along that vein, I wanted to let you guys know that I am going to return to the original intention of this blog; me. It became about you over the course of the past decade or so and now I need it back. I need a place to ramble, to process and to record my reality. I know it will change, I know it will vary, I know some posts will have impact and others be a waste of your time but not mine. I need this blank canvas to click clack my keyboard at until what is in my head becomes a mirror for me to look into and learn, grow or just laugh. I want my outlet to be writing again and it may not entertain or impress you to read what comes out, but I am ok with that. This is for me to see me.

If you see yourself between the lines of these random postings then, by all means, engage in this adventure called life with me. I love how tethered two hearts can become when they can say, “ME TOO”! But if you don’t see yourself in the reflection of this mirror I am creating for myself, that’s ok too. Hopefully, it will give you some insight into how others might feel, live, think and therefore help you grow in understanding and compassion toward those unlike you.

Here you will get a peek into my beautifully crazy world folks. I hope you like it here, but I am ok if you don’t. You see I love it and wouldn’t want it any other way. Here is where I get to be my “wildly imperfect in my own gorgeous way” self. Hi, I’m Bethany. It’s good to see you again Bethany.

The necklace

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During the after school hustle yesterday my daughter brought me a necklace. In it’s present condition however, it looked more like a metallic ball of yarn than a piece of jewelry. It was twisted and matted together tightly but I remembered what it looked like before. I took a look at the clump of chain links and charms she placed in my hand and listened as she requested I “fix it.”

As I began the task I had carried out many times with many different childhood objects over the years, I quickly realized this was going to be way more involved than I had the time or attention to give at that moment. I explained to my daughter that I wasn’t going to be able to complete the task in time for her to wear it that evening and her heart began to pour out. She pleaded with me to “fix it” because the necklace was her favorite and it was ever so important to her. I could tell by the look in her eyes, this one mattered. I promised I would try again later, set it on my dresser and went on with our evening activities.

As I passed the necklace in approach of my bed for the night, I decided to pick it up and try again. For over an hour I wove the chain over, under, around and through but still could not “fix” the necklace. It seemed hopeless.

But something in me confirmed it was important so I placed it on my nightstand, turned off the light and went to sleep. All day, my eyes would catch glimpses of the necklace as I passed through the room and it practically called out to me from its position on the nightstand. Finally I sat down next to it and began to unravel the chain again.

As I did, this time, I heard the voice of Jesus:

“See what I am doing.” He invited. “I am working. When no one is watching, when no one is expecting and when no one knows even where to look … I am at work. I am untangling. I am restoring. I am moving. Trust me. It looks like a mess, I know, but it is important work. Don’t quit. It matters. Rest. Trust. I am at work here.”

As the way of untying the last knot became clear and the last link of chain loosed, the necklace unfolded and indeed, it WAS special to behold its designed form taking shape once again.

During this Advent season remember, He IS working. It looks like a mess, it looks hopeless, but the untangling has begun and when He is finished, only beauty remains.

We welcome your presence Jesus. Come, Oh Come, Emmanuel. Do your work in our lives. Amen.

All I do is this

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I want to do it all,

but all I do is this.

This means everything to some,

for me, its not enough.

 

Don’t tell me its a season.

Don’t say my time will come.

Ive been waiting. Ive been patient.

But what’s left of me is almost gone.

 

Not a life that’s either/ or,

Rather both/and.

We don’t have to cancel each other

Instead, let’s collaborate.

 

My voice is growing faint now

But sing with it, I must.

For if I don’t do something quick

My song will fade away.

 

Grant me the courage.

Show me the way.

Because the day is coming,

when regret will bring my death.

The Path of Vulnerability.

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Life is difficult. For some more than for others. I have seen my share of struggle but if we were to sit down together and share our stories, we may find my path less arduous than yours. The battles I have faced, am facing, and will face though, are specifically designed for me. Just like yours are for you. Let’s just agree here, that life is universally difficult (John 16:33).

For many, that reality drains hope. Because life is difficult, they see no purpose for joy. ‘Life is hard so I am hard,’ is the mantra. This belief is beyond familiar to me. I’ve worn the armor for so long its warmth is familiar and comfortable. Defensiveness carried me through many circumstances, serving me well time and time again. The walls being “up” kept me safe – the convincible lie.

Truth is, the gates intended to keep others out become prisons for our own soul; rooms for isolation. This is because when we stop caring and feeling, we lose our ability to connect.

What’s the alternative? Trust again? Be hurt again? Use your voice to express your heart again? Have promises broken again? Tell the truth again? Be lied to again? Yes!

True strength is on display when we are able to stay soft through the pain. It’s called vulnerability.

Brene Brown has done extensive research on vulnerability and defines it this way, “Vulnerability is the willingness to show up and be seen with no guarantee of the outcome.” She goes on to say, “Vulnerability is the only path to more love, belonging, and joy.”

Vulnerability is not safe. It is, however, life giving and grace receiving. Vulnerability is not weakness. In fact, its our greatest measure of courage. Vulnerability is not isolating. It is choosing to stay connected and experience all life has to offer with our whole hearts. Vulnerability is the way of Jesus.

Despite the disbelief, hate, and violence experienced, Christ remained compassionate, loving and peaceful. Jesus did not exchange His heart for comfort and safety. Instead He walked the path laid before Him while remaining connected to the people around Him.

The path of vulnerability is enduring the struggle without picking up the armor. Soon vulnerability will feel warm, familiar and comfortable too… I just need to keep wearing it for awhile. I plan to start a new trend, wanna join me?

No more petting

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I have a jacket that is crazy soft and so comfy. Literally it feels like a warm blanket with arm holes but WAY better than a Snuggy. I LOVE this jacket. When I wear it around the house it is inevitable that my family will reach out and touch it. Once they do, they fall in love and find it hard to stop petting it. They love how it feels so much, when I am out of town they have been know to ask if they can sleep with it!

I also have a teal pillow on my over sized chair in the living room that if you ever visit my house, I will force you to touch. I am slightly embarrassed that I even spent $30 on a pillow but making people touch it helps me feel better about the indulgence b/c once they do, they will understand. Its life-changing.

Im telling you all of this to emphasize from the get go: I am a lover of all things soft. I too process feelings through the art of touch. In fact, my secondary love language is physical touch so if you’ve been around me you know I, like Olaf, love a good warm hug. Touch in and of itself is a beautiful way to connect with another human being.

But there are times when it would be most appropriate to ask permission to touch someone or something. For example, when I was pregnant, it took a little getting used to how people would approach my belly like a separate piece of my body and start petting it and talking to it. Some people don’t think twice but I would prefer it when people took my feelings into consideration and asked first.  Or if someone was walking with their dog, isn’t it common knowledge by now that you should always ask the owner IF you can pet the animal BEFORE reaching down your hand to do so? It just makes sense.

So here is the rub for me and I will say it as nicely and as plainly as I can…

Please stop petting my daughter.

I know Jaydn has beautifully soft skin (I do too- shameless plug for Rodan+Fields). But a smooth skin texture does not warrant the same form of touch as my comfy jacket or life-changing pillow does. It also doesn’t equate to how you would approach touch for a pregnant belly or an animal.

Think about this a little … Let’s say you give me a hug and notice that my skin is really soft (it is thanks to Rodan+Fields). I don’t know anyone who would spend the next 5-10 minutes rubbing their hand up and down my arm while we carried on in conversation. Yet that has happened on multiple occasions to my daughter.

Why?

Of course I have my speculations but I won’t project them onto anyone else unfairly. So for now I will just challenge YOU to ask yourself the question WHY? Is that appropriate? Would it be socially acceptable in any other circumstance? I am relatively sure you will conclude that it’s not

It seems preposterous to many that I am even having to address this issue but you have NO IDEA how often this comes up in regards to my daughter.

If you’d like to know where I got my jacket or pillow, I will be happy to pass along that information. I will even lend you one of my many soft blankets and let you pet my dog if you need to but my daughter is a different story entirely. So please, no more petting.

 

The hero within.

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Some people need a hero. A knight that swoops in and rescues. An oracle to make sense of all the shattered pieces. They only apply padded answers and cliche’s to the wounds. Put a pretty bow on this messy life and say it’s all going to be ok. Better yet, they just teach you how to pretend it is now and maybe someday it will be true. You can’t throw money at every problem and laughter doesn’t take away all the tears. They remain: buried maybe but not dead.

True healing comes when you break. When you stop hiding and start showing. When you stop preaching and start learning. When you stop searching for a hero and become the hero of your own story by utilizing the heroic spirit within you.

Real help comes from within the trench, not the sanitary edge where rose colored glasses are bought and sold by the master of ceremonies. The hand that truly provides can only do so when you aren’t so busy looking for the next handout.

I saw through your cape and I heard what you said under your breath when you thought no one was listening. I am no fool. I won’t play pretend. Continue your charade and gather up your puppets but I am not among them. No strings attached. No manipulating me.

Only the pierced hands can be near my need. Hands I can trust b/c they are dirty…like mine. Hands of the beaten, hated, invisible and bruised One: by me, for me, like me. Oh the treasure of a free gift. There is nothing so pure. I wish you all could know it too but you settle for the fix. The plug. The facade as you all recite your line, “Its all going to be ok. My external hero says so .”

He gives me the tools. He builds strength in me. He trains for the road I travel on. He doesn’t pretend its not there. He doesn’t say its going to be easy. He doesn’t swoop in and take away the process so that I only get the rewards. He shows me how. He walks it with me. He meets me step for step like a friend. He doesn’t enable, He equips!

Why me?

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I often ask this question. Not to anyone specific but in my head. To life in general. Ultimately my soul questions The Craftsman. “Is this what you intended? Was this what you had in mind when you made me? Are you sure I’m built for this?”

The question could be a symbol of gratitude. Why me? Why do I have a marriage that is lasting? Why do I have kids that are a blessing to not just me but others? Why do I have a community no matter where I am in my, seemingly endless, metamorphosis?

More often, the question indicates anger. Why me? Why did the bottom drop out as a result of someone else’s choice? Why couldn’t I be a child when I was a child? Why do I have to watch and walk through so much death, destruction and disappointment?

Why me? Its a universal question.

The temptation is to hide the question when it hurts. To band-aid it with false mantras. Why NOT me. Pretending the sting isn’t real and convincing others it’s ok and I will be fine. That may be true. Its not yet.

For now, the ache is debilitating. It’s silence, deafening. The question is heavy and it’s ok to buckle under the weight of it.

I don’t wish it away anymore. It reminds me. Broken places that point to truth: I am not in control. The good and the hard alike, happen. They happen to me. They happen to everyone.

Why me often leads to me too.

My favorite phrase of all time. The perfect balm for any heart. Me too. You are not alone. I’ve been there. Its not exact. No cookie cutters. Not a mirror image. Only, I’ve walked a road near yours and Im here now.

Oh the saving grace of that knowing.

It doesn’t change anything but you. The struggle continues but deep down you know you will sing again. Rise up because someone showed you you could. Take what you have been dealt and continuing to play. You walk with a limp now so I will slow down my pace.

Follow the path that “Why me?” travels down. Let it lead you. May you find your resting place in the comforting arms of, “Me too!”