Desperate Dreaming

 

I had a whole different blog planned about dreams.  I might get to that.  But this blog…it’s burning a hole in my heart right now.

I can’t think about dreams right now without thinking of Dr. Martin Luther King…and his thoughts on dreams.  You might not have listened to his dreams since you were a kid – you can listen to it here.  It’s worth the listen.

I have spent countless hours on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial where MLK gave that speech. On the 30th anniversary of that speech I marched with thousands, in the sweltering heat of an August day, just like he mentions in his speech.  And when I walked there, as a young and idealistic college student, I relished in the progress, in the promises, and in the unity of the moment.  I believed that we’d already seen the coming true of his dreams.  That our nation had walked past those problems and we could look back at that time in our history with sadness and mourning, but know that it was OVER.

I was wrong.

That naiveté was born of my white privilege and my limited experiences.  My view was gifted to me by growing up in an idealistic Midwestern university town that was incredibly diverse, and I thought, where everyone was treated the same.

I was wrong.

The events of the past few months have proven that.  Over and over again.  The conversations with people who don’t look like me, the long coffee talks and the attempts to hear things that might not make me comfortable but might still be true…those conversations have broken my heart and opened my eyes to the fact that our great nation is still a work in progress.  And I am sorry, but if you think that the things MLK was standing up against are over, that people are over-reacting, that we need to stop talking about race and racism and white privilege, than you simply aren’t taking the time to get to know anyone that doesn’t share your life experience.

You don’t have to walk far to meet someone – of even my generation or younger – that has experienced outright, blatant racism in their life.

It’s time.

It’s time – as Americans – to start talking about race and freedom and MLKs dreams again.  It’s time – as Christians – to start asking how we can stand up with our brothers and sisters as allies and partners – as neighbors – to love them, to help heal our nation, to ask how we can stand up for righteousness in our own homes, our neighborhoods, our churches, and our nation.  I don’t have the answers, but I know it’s time.

A couple of months ago I started listening.  Sitting with people I don’t always have the chance to sit with, and hearing their stories.  (That includes police officers by the way!  I’ve been heartbroken to hear some of their stories and the vilification and hatred coming their way.  This blog is NOT about hating the police.)

Now, I’ve decided to start dreaming again.

I’m dreaming with MLK, and the generations of brothers and sisters that have carried his torch, and his pain.

In church last weekend we talked about seeing THROUGH our situation – asking for God’s eyes, and believing in the promise that God will be faithful to provide us with anything that we need to do what He has for us to do.

This isn’t a Pollyanna attempt to act like nothing is wrong.  I still carry idealism with me like I did when I was in college, but it’s not naïve and blinded like it was then.  It’s a desperate cry, a hope that doesn’t make sense but has no choice.  Believe me – I see that we’re surrounded by the conquering armies.  I see the hatred, I see the pain, I see the wounds that look impossible to heal.  But what’s the alternative?  Should I lay down in the city square and admit defeat now when I am surrounded by the enemy?  Should I give up now, and let my brothers and sisters keep facing evil and subtle hatred and do nothing?  Should I allow them to continue to be shut out by deep and hidden systems of hate?

NO!

It’s time to stand up.

I don’t know how, and I don’t know where, and I don’t presume to have any answers.  But I know it’s NOT time to give up on our nation.  It’s NOT time to give up on my brothers and sisters and let them fight their battles alone.  It’s NOT time to throw in the towel and believe that there are people beyond the touch of grace and love.

It’s NOT time to pretend like nothing is wrong.

It’s time to stand up, and it’s time to dream again.  It’s time to remember those that have gone before us, and learn from them.  It’s time to lean in – to get in relationship with real people that are facing these real problems – and learn from them.  It’s time to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.  It’s time.

Do you have thoughts or answers?  Share them with all of us.  Ideas about how I can help?  Please share them.  Want to put me in my place?  I welcome that too.  (Unless you just think there isn’t really a race problem in America.  Then you can keep those comments to yourself.  I am not interested.)  Have a story to share with all of us?  I would be privileged if you would share it with me or if you’d like me to share it here on my blog.

I am going to dream with MLK – and pray his dreams as a prayer, as a desperate cry – with eyes wide open, and no choice but to hope.

Pray MLK’s dreams with me:

“Oh God, we stand today in the symbolic shadow of those who fought against slavery and helped bring an end to the captivity of our brothers and sisters.  We stand in the symbolic shadow of those that marched against the systematic segregation and evil hatred that existed in every sector of our society.  We rejoice in the progress that they walked us toward.  We share schools and businesses and busses with all of our brothers and sisters now, and everyone can vote without fear.  Thank you God.

But all these years later, the black person still is not free. The manacles of segregation have been loosened, but the chains of discrimination still exist. Oh God, there is still more poverty in black society than white.  There are still black people getting pulled over in areas they aren’t ‘supposed’ to be.  In all of the areas where we are still not living up to the promise of what our nation was built on – a nation under God, a nation where ALL people can pursue life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – help us.  Bring a new day.

We refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of love, of kindness, and of equality. We ask now God that you would bestow the riches of freedom and the security of justice on ALL people, regardless of their color.

There is an urgency of now, Lord.  Lord – “This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.”  Show us how, Lord.  Show me how.  Guide our steps and make things happen.

1963 was a beginning, Lord, but it was not the end.  All was not accomplished.  But you are not dead, and you are not done.  Do your work, Lord.  Show us how to help.  Forgive us of our wrongful deeds and wrongful thoughts.  Make straight the path of RIGHTEOUSNESS and love in our nation.  Heal us as a nation, and pour salve over the hearts and families of black people in this nation that have so long faced subtle hatred.  Remove our hatred, remove our bitterness.  Heal of us of our arrogance and indifference.

Help us walk together, as a nation.  White people with black people, again.  As MLK said, and as you expect in your Word, we cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.

We cannot turn back.

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, Lord.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that you will be able to drive a car in any neighborhood and not be suspect because of the color of your skin.  I have a dream that black men and white men, in uniform or in gang colors, will not use their guns as their primary tool of survival.  I have a dream that people in jail will not be treated as less human, and that when you surrender you will not be shot.  I have a dream that we will not be a nation of hate and fear, but a nation of hope, and trust, and a nation that sees through.

I have a dream today!

“With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

And this will be the day — this will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning:

My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.

Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim’s pride,

From every mountainside, let freedom ring!

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.

And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.

Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.

Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.

 But not only that:

Let freedom ring from the streets of Minnesota,

Let freedom ring from Oklahoma City to every neighborhood of Washington, DC,

Let freedom ring from every school and neighborhood of Chicago.

From every city to every ‘hood, let freedom ring.

Oh Lord, let freedom ring and let healing begin.  Let eyes be opened, and let arms join together in unity and righteousness.

Let us shout – Oh God Almighty! Let YOUR freedom ring!”

 

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He speaks for the people

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I met Lungala yesterday at an art fair in a quirky little beach town next to booths of jewelry made out of spoons and wooden pens.  I was immediately drawn in by his art – (I almost accidentally wrote HEART – which is exactly the case).  Each picture tells a story, and my heart connected with his stories immediately.  Lungala can mean “He speaks for the people,” and his art was doing just that– telling my story of motherhood, of letting go, of finding my voice and my strength again, of finding my path.  His art also tells the story of my son, the one I left my heart with on the other side of the country just a couple of weeks ago.

Refreshing

Lungala was engaging, and shared much of himself with us in a short amount of time.  His love, openness and wisdom was incredibly refreshing.  His smile pulled you in.  The way that he saw each person in his booth held whoever came along.  He was trusting and believed in the goodness of people.  He convinced us that if we really wanted his art, we should just take it and pay him whenever we could.  No hurry, no timeline.  Refreshing – shocking even.

Lungala shared stories about moving from Uganda to Kenya with nothing in hand, and sleeping on the floor for six months.  With humor and humility Lungala took us through tales of Africa and shared his mother with us.  I would love to meet his mother in person, and sit at her feet to learn about the world for a time.  I learned so much from Lungala in a short period of time. He was a light, and I left a little changed.
Refreshing.

Finding the Beat of Your Own Drum

Besides meeting us at a heart level with his wisdom and life lessons, his art was speaking to me on a deeply personal level.  I am just now beginning to find words to put to the journey of taking my first son to college.  I haven’t had words to express the journey I am on or lend voice to my heart as I enter a new phase of life.  Lungala’s art was another step in my process.  His art was giving voice to my journey; his name rang true and he spoke for me.

Lungala came to study at UCLA in economics and business, with plans to enter the corporate world.  He tried to keep walking away from the art and stories he’d been gifted with to be the corporate giant he thought he was supposed to be…but eventually he had to concede that the drums he was meant to play were telling stories and using his art to connect with peoples’ hearts – to bring healing and restoration and wisdom to people through the gifts he had been granted.  One of my favorite pieces of art is shown here next to him.  There is a drum with a stick, but instead the man in the painting chooses to play with his hands the drums that most closely match his hat.  Each person must find the drums they are meant to play, that most closely match who they were created to be.

I’m over forty with gray hair and a kid in college, and still this art speaks something important to me.  I am still trying to find the drums that most closely fit who I am created to be.  Not only that, but this is what I pray over my boys each day – that they would know what they were created to do, and that they would stay on the path that was created uniquely for them.  Lungala told us about a seventy-nine year old man that found the painting and left crying, painting in hand.  Lungala’s art had expressed what this man was experiencing for the first time in his old age.  He felt that if he could find his drums in his old age, there was hope for anyone.  So at 42, there must be hope me.  I know there’s hope for my man cubs.

Love

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 We just dropped our oldest, our first, off at college.  This was a big, important step in all of our lives.
It’s his journey.  I am bursting with pride and excitement for him.  He is so clearly where God has him.  He is grounded and wise, smart and strong.  And brave.  He is ready.  He is sleeping through alarms and sharing food bills with roommates and running for president of his dorm.  And I would never dream of holding him back.  He’s meant to fly, and walk his own path and play the drums that most closely fit his hat.
But in a way I never imagined, him leaving for college is also somehow my journey.  It’s my time to let him go, to allow him to fly.  I need to let him walk a path that doesn’t necessarily include me every step of the way.  He will likely play a different melody on his drums than the one I have sung over him each night when I put him to bed.  I need to allow the space for that.

And that is love.

Lungala’s painting depicts the love of letting go perfectly – its all motion – a choice – an act of will – it’s looking at each other but heading in different directions – it’s being carried on the wings of the Spirit.  It’s beautiful. It’s as it should be.

And it’s utterly, heart-wrenchingly painful.  It’s being terrified that there’s something fundamental you failed to teach or lay in his foundation.  It’s being afraid he might not ever text or let you know what’s going on his life.  (So grateful this hasn’t been the case!)  It’s having kissed your boy every single night on the cheek and praying over him every single morning, and knowing you won’t get do that every day.  Ever.  Again.    Apparently, it’s looking through old DVDs to see what to give away, and bursting into tears when you realize that one you wanted to show your boys hasn’t even been opened.  (My poor husband.)

So I bought this painting.  Well, honestly, I left with this painting on Lungala’s honor system because I couldn’t actually afford it.  I saw this painting and through my tears knew that I needed to mark an important time in MY life.

I want to build an altar.  I want to remember all that God has done to get us here.  I love having a picture of my desperate prayer for all that I dream for my boy, and all that God has for him.  And I want a constant reminder to LOVE my boy, my man, in the way that love looks now.

Lungala plays his drums as he was meant to, and gives what he was gifted with freely that others might be changed and receive his melody.  So I will let my man cub go, and give of him freely into the world, that the melody I have poured into him might be able to bring light and life and love into the world as it (HE) was meant to.  So thanks, Lungala, for trusting me to pay you back.  I will.

I totally recommend meeting Lungala at an art show, and buying his art.  I promise you, he (and his cousin) has a story that will resonate with your heart.  You can see it all and follow him here.  I am grateful for his wisdom, his graciousness, and his smile.  I pray he is blessed in equal measure as the ways he blesses each person that walks into his booth.

The Problem of Hope

 

Here’s the thing:  I’ve written a couple of times about the beauty that can come out of hard times, the beauty in the mess, and the importance of leaning into people.  Each time, though, I’ve walked away praying that it hasn’t hit someone at their darkest.  I want to acknowledge that it’s not that simple.

Because in your darkest, when you’re in the pit…you feel nothing but alone…and hope seems reserved for those that can’t be going through the crap you’re going through.

Telling someone to “hang on and hold on – just have hope!” – when they are in their darkest hour, or darkest years…it’s not going to work.  Hope can’t be forced.  You can’t work yourself into hope.

In your darkest, hope comes…but it makes no sense.

Insert cliché here…

Hope is the substance of things unseen.

  • When your husband has an incurable disease,
  • When you can’t find a spouse after years of praying,
  • When you are losing your home and everything you hold dear due to circumstances out of your control,
  • When you’ve lost your child,
  • When wave after wave of life’s worst keeps getting thrown at you and you can’t possibly keep your head above the water one     more       minute,

That’s when hope will break in.  And it doesn’t make any sense.

Skye Jethani writes: “There is a sorrow words cannot express and no embrace can remove.  It abides deep within and is accessible only to the one carries it.” In those moments, in those dark nights of your soul, you can’t work yourself into hope or tell someone they must hope.

Instead, hope just comes.

Hope is a powerful.  Hope saves.  This is a broken, messed up world.  Hope is a longing and faith in something we cannot see, but we know deep in our souls it simply must be…it is the only thing that will satisfy or bring any measure of comfort.

“In your lonliness and sorrow that nothing in the world seems capable of reaching, you can cry out to God and He, and His presence, will be your comfort.”  In that moment, alone, crying out, you will be met with hope, and the strength to take the next step.

The problem with hope is that it comes when it doesn’t make sense, and when you can see no way to get to it on your own.

But hope comes.

Hope will come.

For anyone that faces this Easter, the celebration of Hope Alive, with pain and sorrow and a loneliness that only you can carry…if you are living your own Good Friday of total defeat…cry out to the One who gets it.  You will be met with His comfort, and hope will come…even when there’s no reason for it.  Sunday is coming.

Stop on by to read Sarah’s blog.  Sarah is a gifted writer with beautiful insights…you won’t be disappointed!

Loving the “Unlovable”

Hey buddy,

It’s me, mom…trying again to share a little of what life has taught me before you leave home on your own adventures.  It’s me, broken, bruised, so-far-from-perfect mom, acting like I won’t be a call or a text away if you’re having a bad day.  It’s me, the mom that has failed at modeling self-acceptance and self-love to you, and probably made it harder to live in that space yourself.  The thing is, sometimes, I desperately want to give you the gift of not having to learn some of these things the hard way…even though I know you won’t really understand a lot of what I write until you are trying to learn it for yourself.

I think one of the reasons I am late in getting my blog posted this month is because this is just a really hard topic for me.  I know how much I let other people’s brokenness touch my broken places…and when that happens, how often I am filled with the opposite of love…resentment, self-protection, judgment, and even disgust.  I am also very aware that I find it difficult not to battle those same feelings toward myself.  I know that if I can’t love and accept myself for all that I am (and am not), I really can’t love and accept someone else.

  • How will you react to someone who attacks you with hateful words that find your mark deep on your already cracked, insecure heart?
  • How will you handle yourself at work or in a class if someone condemns you unjustly?
  • What if someone you know, and care what they thinks, judges you for something you know is at the core of what makes you, you?
  • What if someone you loves rejects you?

I found the perfect quote…and then lost it.  The essence of the quote was this: If someone attacks you, judges you, or interacts with you in a way that is hurtful, remember that it is their brokenness, their pain or hurt that is hurting you.  When I can separate out someone’s actions from their humanness, I have more room to find grace and love for them, regardless of how they treat me.

Combine this with some biblical truths:

  • Love is unconditional

  • Love always forgives and never holds a grudge

  • Jesus loved us first, while were still sinners. He knew everything about our ugliness and brokenness and still chose to go to the cross.  For me.  For you.

  • Love is our highest call.

What we get is an answer to loving unlovable people that seems trite, hard, and over-simplified:

Loving the unlovable is easy because no one is unlovable.  Love is a choice, and with the right eyes, love becomes the easier choice.

God sees each one of us as His masterpiece, knit together with great care in our mothers’ wombs.  He adores EVERY person He created.  He loves us as we were created to be, and His love is not clouded or marred or lessened by the bumps and bruises this broken world and our own choices have marked us with.  Those are the eyes I should be looking at everyone with.  Including myself.

When someone I loved spoke words of hate and hurt over every aspect of my life and who I thought I was, I was devastated.  Then, my own pain and hurt didn’t allow any room to find love or forgiveness for her.  I could have cared less what her pain was, and I promise I wasn’t looking for it.  Now, looking back, I know that had taken just a moment to breathe and ask myself some questions, I would have reacted totally differently in the moment and our relationship would not have been as broken as it was.

  • How do you see her, Lord?

  • What is the truth about her, and who you’ve created her to be?

  • What broken places is she touching in you, right now, that make you want to hurt her back?

If I’d taken the minute to step back, ask for His eyes – for her and for me – I would have reacted in love and honestly, nothing she said would have hurt me as much as I allowed it to.  I would have realized that she was in a moment of intense PTSD and pain, and was reacting out of that, not out of me or my actions.  I would have remembered the truth about her, which is that she is kind, loving, generous, and compassionate, and she truly adores me.  I would have been able to see that her words hurt as much as they did because I still couldn’t truly accept those parts of me, myself…and I judged myself.  I was allowing her to confirm my own insecurities and the lies I already believed about myself.  Had I taken even just a breath when the venom started to spew out of her, I would not have yelled back and banished her from my life.  I would have waited, and listened, and tried to meet her where she was with compassion, and been very aware that was happening actually had almost nothing to do with me, and everything to do with her.

“Love unlovable people, because we have all been unlovable at times.  People usually need love the most in those moments when they deserve it the least.”  Dave Willis

So there it is: I have not always done a great job of loving people in their unlovable moments, and I will continue to screw it up.  What’s worse, and I am pretty confident you’ve seen this in me and I’ve passed it on to you – I fail to give myself these same graces.  I can be pretty unlovable, I can do pretty stupid things, I can fail to do my best, I can disappoint – myself, and others.  Am I asking myself why I am so hurt by something I’ve done or failed to do…am I asking God to give me His eyes for me…am I reminding myself of the truth about me…before I spew disgust, judgment and resentment at myself?  Am I choosing to love myself even when I am unlovable?

My prayer for you is that you will accept all of who you are, and are not…and then that you will learn to love yourself…the good, the bad, and the ugly – just like God does.  From that place may you live in peace and joy.  I pray that you will be able to separate people’s actions from their humanness, and find your way toward compassion and unconditional love for your fellow humans.  And I pray, most of all, that you will see yourself, and others, with God’s eyes.

Check out my dear friend  Sarah’s blog for more on this topic.  She spends her life’s work on loving those that the world has called unlovable.  After that, roll on through to some other blogs about love.

When you don’t belong

I am no stranger to the feeling that I don’t belong. Most of my childhood I was given messages that I didn’t belong. I was definitely the only one in law school with babies, and I was even told by career-services at my law school that they wouldn’t work with me because I had small children. At the same time I was trying to figure out if I should hide my motherhood from my professional life, I was part of bible studies and life groups where I was the only mom pursuing anything outside of my home and it felt like I was choosing to ‘sacrifice my children on the altar of my career”. One mom at church was so concerned about my choices she offered to give our family a free family portrait session so that I could start appreciating what I have.  I’ve travelled overseas, and convinced that I didn’t belong on my team, lost out on a lot of the joy and blessing of the experience.  I am at a new job now, and often battle not feeling like I belong when I am in new situations.  If I am being honest, I still have times when I am in a room with people I know love me for all of who I am, and I feel like I don’t belong.

In those moments when I feel like I don’t belong, I feel invisible. If I don’t feel invisible, I usually want to become invisible. I feel alone. I feel unworthy. I want to hide, and I imagine when I do no one will even notice I am gone.

I mentioned in my last blog that one of my son’s is getting ready to graduate. The thought that he, out on his own, might feel alone, like he doesn’t belong…that he might feel like he needs to hide, that his ‘otherness’ might paralyze him and rob him of his joy…that thought is heart-wrenching to me. I so badly want health and wholeness, peace and joy to go with my man-cubs always. I don’t want them to have to feel like they don’t belong – ever. Knowing that’s not very realistic, instead I am going to write out a letter, something of a prayer, for my boys – about things I’ve learned and things I hope for them (and some things I hope for you too):

Dear You,

There will be times when you feel like you don’t belong. Whether you walk into your first college class, you go to a party with people who don’t truly know you, or you are at a new job, there are moments you will feel like you don’t belong. The question is, what will you do with those moments? Will you run from them? Will you take the time to figure out why you feel like you don’t belong, and what is at the root of your feelings? Will you persevere and continue on your path, in your truth, even when it’s hard and you feel alone? Will get a shovel, dig a pit, jump in, and let the ‘otherness’ paralyze you and rob you of joy?

I still have moments when I feel like I don’t belong, but I have learned to lean in to those moments, learn from them, fight for the truth, and share myself with others so that they can help me in the fight. What I’ve learned is not to be surprised by my feelings, and not to fear those moments. Those moments of aloneness, of not belonging – they are not the whole truth of who I am, but they do feel very real and very hard. Here are some things I’ve learned that might help you in your moments of not belonging:

A deep sense of love and belonging is an irreducible need of all people. We are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, to be loved, and to belong. When those needs are not met, we don’t function as we were meant to. We break. We fall apart. We numb. We ache. We hurt others. We get sick.”  Brene Brown

We all have moments that we feel like we don’t belong.

You are not alone in your aloneness! You are also not alone in your need to feel like you belong. You could be sitting a table with eight other people, considering the ways that you don’t measure up or the ways you are different from the person next to you, while at that very same moment the person next to you is doing the same thing. Each one of us carries some baggage, some measure of suffering, some way in which we feel different or not enough. May you always remember to wonder about the woundedness and needs of others around you, even when they are excluding you or you feel like you don’t belong with them. Enter in life with love, gentleness, patience and compassion going before you, and not only will your eyes for others and their behavior toward you change, but you will also find yourself dwelling on your own otherness a little less. May your eyes for others, and yourself, be His.

“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” – Brene Brown

Lean into ‘the feels’ and look for the root of your ‘otherness’. 

Don’t just run from the negative feelings or stuff them away in a tidy little box. Allow yourself to press into the negative space of feeling like you don’t belong, and really look at why you feel that way. Sometimes it’s a lie, and there’s something in you that needs to be healed. Comparing yourself to others, trying to measure up to some false, unattainable standard, or believing that you are not worthy or not enough as you are…those are lies. You need to go after those lies and weed them out of the garden of your thoughts and your heart. Sometimes you feel like you don’t belong because you NEED to be different. Doing the right thing, or even just what you are called to, can leave you on the outside of a group. Sometimes you aren’t supposed to belong. This is when you need perseverance and you must take courage. I pray that you will never love feeling like you belong more than you love doing the right thing.  Whatever it is that has caused you to feel like you don’t belong, take time to know yourself and then be ok with all of who you are.  You can’t expect anyone else to accept you if you can’t accept yourself.  May you end each day accepting all of who you were – and weren’t – that day, and may you live your life in courage and vulnerability.

Assume the best about yourself, others, and your situation.

Go in to a situation believing that you are worth being known, and don’t start out being suspicious. I work with a student with special needs and special intelligences. She is well known at our school, and she definitely doesn’t fit the mold of a ‘typical’ student. She doesn’t really ‘fit in’ in any traditional sense. Still, she knows that if she asks for a hug, she will always get one. She knows that if she stops to talk to someone, they will talk back to her. She knows that she belongs at our school and she goes into every situation assuming that whoever is there has been placed there to love her. If you choose not to love this precious girl, the issue is clearly yours, not hers. That’s the attitude I pray you have wherever God takes you. Every time you enter a room, may you assume that you are worthy of being loved, and that if God has placed someone in your path or in your room, you are with them because you are supposed to be.

Focus on the Truth.

Whenever you feel alone, unworthy, like you don’t belong – focus on what you know is true. You are loved. You are worthy. You are God’s masterpiece, and you have a purpose. Read the bible, listen to worship music, inundate yourself with the truth. May you be intentional about fixing your eyes, your heart, and your mind on what is true and right about yourself and where your identity is.

Depend on your community.

Allow yourself to be seen. This one is still hard for me. I still find myself waiting until after I have journeyed through what I deem a ‘moment of weakness’ or my own ‘silly irrationality’ to share that part of me with the people I love. I don’t like people to see me and know me as a broken, hot mess – only as a strong woman that has it all together. BWAHHHAA. I know, funny, right? That’s what I pretend. The reality is that we can allow our brokenness to be an invitation into someone’s life. When we share our true selves, it allows other people to be more truly themselves. This is scary, but it is so worth it. When you don’t have to fight life’s battles alone, the fight gets a lot easier and you automatically stop being alone in it. Belonging is also a choice YOU have to make, not just the people you are seeking to belong to. You will never feel like you truly belong until you are fully authentic. May you be bravely authentic fully known, and find true belonging to a group of people that love you for all of you are.

I am so sorry that you have felt, and will continue to feel, moments when you don’t belong. You are not alone in those feelings; every single person you meet has been there too. Don’t be afraid or surprised by those moments, but lean in to them, and know that those moments are just moments. You do belong, you are worthy, and you are not alone. We will be together in our un-belonging. We will persevere, we will search out truth, we will be courageous, and we will find hope and belonging.

Stop on by my dear friend Meg’s blog at Meg on Tap to hear about belonging from one of the women that has taught me the most about becoming loved.  Then roll on through all of our blogs to read some wise thoughts from a lot of other great women.

The Adventure of Being…and Becoming

I’ve had two really epic travel adventures in recent years that kept me away for nearly a month. Both were incredibly fun – dreams come true. We saw the world and we made memories I will never forget. And yet, both times, by the time I got home I was so done being gone I couldn’t imagine planning another trip. I missed my people. I missed the place with the big brown chair with a hole in the side where the dog ate it and the glass door and floor I can never keep clean…home. I missed the feeling of being settled, and while I hate to admit it, I missed the 6am alarm clocks and making lunches and falling into bed fully spent. I needed to just ‘be’.

Most recently, my boys and I drove the East Coast together, visiting my old friends and my son’s potential college choices. We hit a new city and at least one new college every day. We saw beautiful country together. We laughed a lot with each other and we spent time in serious discussions about each college, praying and discerning. I spent a lot of time asking for a picture and pushing past eye rolls for the necessary Facebook post. (It’s all part of the fun, right?!)

But here’s the thing…no matter how many Instagram perfect moments God has given me with my boys, I still need to come to terms with the fact that this is the end of a season with them. I will be packing one boy up in a few months, not for a trip, but for a new season of his life – a season that doesn’t include me in the same way I’ve been a part of his adventures until now. Entering into a season of letting go of my kids and saying good-bye to a season of my own life has made me think…and notice. My next adventure is going to take more than a plane ticket and a hotel reservation… I need a new definition of adventure.

LIFE IS THE ADVENTURE

Since I’ve been home, enjoying my settled life and soaking in every single second of it before it completely changes, I’ve had different eyes for what’s going on around me. I’ve been sharing life with a friend who is going through unspeakable pain and tragedy. I’ve been journeying with people I love that are going through major life changes, filled with shifts in their identity and tears that make their path wet. I’ve been soaking in the joy of a son who is a senior, with all of the excitement, stress, and cool experiences that offers him. I’ve sat in living rooms and around tables with people who have taught me about deep, rich friendships full of prayer, laughter, growth, and faithfulness. I’ve been part of a little girl’s life who was recently diagnosed with a degenerative disease and seen from a distance the kinds of decisions and conversations that requires of parents. I’ve hiked and run through the unimaginable beauty of warm beaches and cool, shaded mountains. When I stop and look around, it seems so obvious:

Life is enough of a freaking adventure right where I’m at.

Here’s what I am learning about adventure, and if I could pass on a few thoughts to my mancub as he gets ready to leave my nest, this is what I’d share:

(Let’s be honest – he probably won’t listen, yet. Giving parental advice at this stage of the game is a little like sending a healthy lunch to school knowing that they are still going to take the free candy from the teacher and the free pizza offered at lunch. It’s part of life’s adventure to make your own path and try what seems attractive, and then realize it actually gave you a stomach ache and you probably should have eaten the healthy stuff after all. Just a guess. But I’m still going to pack the lunch with sprouted grain bread because it’s my job to prepare for and hope for the best.)

        1.  Adventuring is a choice.

        “Adventure: to engage in hazardous and exciting activity, especially the exploration of unknown territory.”

Life is full of mountains to climb and challenges to overcome. If you dream of climbing Mt. Everest but stay home and only look at pictures on the internet, you definitely won’t achieve anything. If you get to Nepal but stay at the base of the mountain, frozen in place by fear and anxiety, you will never know if you could have made it to the top. You will almost never know exactly how the climb will look or if you’ll actually be able to make it to the top, but you have to choose to lean in and walk forward to find out. Life at all of it’s transitions offers a lot of unknowns. New ages and stages, new jobs, new churches, new places – life transitions usually bring with them a lot of excitement, and can feel pretty hazardous or scary as you enter unknown territory.

As you enter these unknowns, you get to decide: fear and anxiety, or excitement and joy. Attitude changes your perspective and makes life what it is. Choose to see life, and it’s twists and turns, as an adventure. Choose to ENGAGE, not run, from what you are experiencing and feeling. Let God’s grace cover you and spill out of you. It’s ok to feel the full range of emotions that come with entering the unknown and hazardous of life…move toward it all and let God’s inexplicable peace wash over you as you sit with Him in it all. Choose life, choose adventure, choose joy, and choose God. Choose your own adventure.

       2.  Don’t try to force the adventure. 

If you do start the climb to peak Everest, you will quickly note that it’s not necessarily a straight line from the base of the mountain to the top. There are switch-backs, stop off plateaus for rest and acclimation, and plenty of twists and turns. There are also guides (sherpas) there to help you get to where you want to be in the best, most effective way possible. If you don’t listen to your guides, it becomes life threatening very quickly. Sometimes, weather and other unforeseen circumstances stop your climb altogether.

If you are willing to quiet yourself, listen to God, and ask for His eyes, you will be on the path you need to be to get where you want to get. You don’t need to try and create your own excitement, because the life all around you is filled with excitement. You don’t have to try and change your circumstances or fix your situation on your own power; you can trust in Him who loves you and knows you best. Life is enough of an adventure all by itself when you let yourself really experience it. If you lean in and allow yourself to really see, feel, and notice all of the life around you, you won’t need another travel brochure or to force God’s hand in anything. Listen to your guides and notice the indications around you, and don’t stress about the twists and turns and stops along the way. You will get where you need to be.

          3.  When you are climbing your Everest, you need someone you can trust on the ropes. 

When you are climbing your mountains and facing the stuff of life, sometimes the mountains before you feel too big and you can barely breathe.  You need to have people that you trust at the ropes, people that will share their oxygen if you start to run out. You need people that will help you persevere and keep climbing when you most feel like giving up. (Choose your people wisely – they need to have the same commitment to truth and love and reaching the top of the mountain that you have.) God made us for community, and people are very often His “plan A” for the help He sends us. Find your people, and stick with them through the thick and the thin, and the avalanches of life. Your people make life richer, deeper, more beautiful, so much less lonely, and infinitely more fun.

I’d love to hear from you!
What life transitions are you going through right now?
How often does life really feel like an adventure? 
Where do you see God journeying with you right now in your life?

Also, you can just tell me about your epic trips…because I still love trips.  🙂

Please take a minute to read my dear friend Staci’s blog when you’re done here: http://alifedeveloping.org/2015/09/21/adventure/  She offers us a lot of wisdom and beauty and you won’t want to miss out.

Inviting, learning, discovering, holding

Hello World!

Here goes nothing…

Messy, passionate, all over the map me is going to begin journeying with all of you.  I’m going to enjoy learning, about myself and you and our messy world, together.

Take a minute to get to know me…and please leave a comment so I can get to know you.

Until we meet again…