A Series on Abuse: Introducing an Abuser

I think this will be a series. I pray my heart has the strength to write the things pounding against my head and heart, demanding to be let out. But as I even consider it, my tears well up, threatening to take me out. These are not freeing tears, they are crippling.

Jesus, I give them to you. The tears and the people. The fight for control and against your people.

I am part of a group of writers who I love and who, by God’s good grace and miracles abounding, get me. When something is wrong, I can tell them. When something is right, they can tell. And there is a certain magic of people whose hearts understand your words and whose words speak to your heart.

 

Currently, we seem to all be telling the same story. And even with all our voices and all our hearts, we are just scratching at the surface. We are not creating a masterpiece, releasing the angel from his stone imprisonment. Our movements are not so fine, so calculated. We are not even fashioning arrowhead weapons of flint, as our renditions have not the effect being able to take to war. Instead, we are battering ourselves against a boulder, coming away bloody and battered  and making the barest of impressions. We are walking away, knowing that this time, the pain was productive. The mountain we face is changing it’s face. The changes we make on it can make a change in the world. So we continue.

our tiny impressions are important. photo by Christopher Ernest

our tiny impressions are important.
photo by Christopher Ernest

 

Today I want to talk about abuse. The word, the action, the seemingly impenetrable walls that go up when the issue is broached.

 

I want to broach it, y’all.

 

I want to talk about what no one wants to talk about because I think that talking about it is one of the very best ways to prevent the perpetuation.

 

So to start this conversation, I’m not going to talk about abuse I’ve survived. I’m going to talk about abuse I committed.

 

 

what does the face of an abuser look like?

what does the face of an abuser look like?

 

I’ve thought a lot about this lately. About how to tackle issues much, much bigger than me. About how to tell stories that honor the inherent human dignity of all involved, that allows survivors* to speak and abusers* to walk into the light. My God, my God, I want us all to live in the light.

 

Wikipedia, which we all know cannot tell a lie, defines abuse as follows

Abuse is the improper usage or treatment for a bad purpose, often to unfairly or improperly gain benefit. Abuse can come in many forms, such as: physical or verbal maltreatment, injury, sexual assault, violation, rape, unjust practices; wrongful practice or custom; offense; crime, or otherwise verbal aggression.[1]

dicitonary.com’s definition is here 

and there are lots of other resources to read up on. 

Abuse is mis-use. Using something out of it’s intended purpose. And there is a great chasm of ways to misuse a thing, an animal, a person. But have you ever wondered how people get to the far end of that road? It is most often because no one stopped them on the close end. Abuse, of it’s own accord, only grows, multiplies, travels. Without intervention, abuse is a hearty, abundant, freely-moving thing.

 

And I know, I KNOW, friends, that we don’t our yelling frustration to lumped in with things that make us shiver and shake down to the soul. But I believe, BELIEVE, that when we talk about something, we understand it more. When we understand it more, we can better handle it, better handle life in it’s wake.

 

 

I have been an abuser. A person who abused. I have yelled hurtful, awful things. I have physically hurt (or at least attmepted to hurt – my physical smallness/impotence of my efforts to hurt does not diminish the intent) others out of malice, not defense. I have used a person’s emotions against them. I have manipulated words, feelings, and situations to benefit myself at someone else’s expense. Hell, in my twistedness I’ve done it at the expense of us both.

 

In those times, I WAS ABUSING. I was a person, with inherent human dignity, saved by grace (because certainly these actions occurred both before and after I came to know Jesus and his love for me), acting in a way that ABUSED others. Or myself.

 

My God, my God, i want us all to live in the light.

My God, my God, i want us all to live in the light.

I say this because in the coming days or weeks (however long it takes to post) I’d like to start a dialogue. One that opens up space for people to talk about abuse in a way that is not scary or shunned. Or even if it is scary, is worth it.  And I want to start by talking about how part of overcoming abuse is knowing that abusers are people too. And that to fight abuse is not always to fight the abuser. And that love does not always look like a blind forgetting that others call forgiving, just so they don’t have to deal with it anymore. And that fighting abuse, and loving an abuser, means loving them enough to introduce interventions that keep them from abusing, from assaulting their own inherent human dignity by committing acts they were never design to commit….

 

but there I go, getting ahead of myself. C’mon back later. Walk this road with me?

 

*for the sake of these posts, and the ease of readers/commenters engaging, I’ll be forgoing much person-centered language and using “abusers/surviviors” rather than “persons who abuse/ persons who survive abuse/ persons who have been abused.”

30 Before 30

this pic has a little to do with the post….if you stretch it. but it’s pretty and everyone likes pretty photos. Stay tuned for a post about our shoot with Caryn from http://carynnoel.com/wordpress/ (but i’m sharing it because it relates to the goals I had of who I want to be, relationally  and how that’s helped me not wig out like I usually do.

I added a new page to my “About” sections today. I don’t know if that set up is helpful of confusing, so any comments about how you navigate the “about” pages (or, if you don’t) is greatly appreciated.  I’ve been working a lot this year on goal setting and so I refined a lot of things I’ve been kicking around forever and made a 30-before-30 list. I made it a page so that I can highlight things as they get accomplished, and link to the post I write about them. But here’s the list so far:

1) Go to a UT football game.

2) Earn my MA in Professional Counseling

3) Earn my full LPC license. (This means getting all 2600 remaining hours post-school in 21 months.)

4)Become a fully licensed MT.

5) Do a headstand.

6) Do a handstand.

7) Skydive.

8) Write a novel.

9) Write a memoir.

10) Dance a half marathon.

11) Develop a financial plan for paying off school.

12) Live according to a budget. Like a real, numbers-on-paper one.

13) Have a garden for as much of the produce I usually eat as possible.

14) Develop a compost heap to reduce waste and promote soil health at home.

15) Go organic for all the meaningful produce I’m not growing.

16) Eat only free-range or ethically treated meat.

17) Purchase only ethically responsible goods.

18) See a professional ballet performance.

19) See a professional symphony performance.

20) Record tracks of original songs with my father in Tennessee.

21) Raise and keep chickens to support my egg consumption habit.

22) Develop and keep a meal-planning system.

23)

24)

25)

26)

27)

28)

29)

30)

As you can see, I have a few spots open. Most of these goals were just ideas I knew I wanted to put into place “someday.” I have learned over the past few years that things ALWAYS happen faster and better for me if I put a plan in place. Even if the plan doesn’t work out, I’m still closer to the goal and better prepared for life choices than if I didn’t have a plan, just letting my dreams lie fallow.

eating: hummus, corn tortillas “quesadilla,” steamed veggies and fresh bell pepper slices: an example of how I eat more often now. (hint: it’s impressive because it’s not microwaved or from a package and because it constitutes an actual MEAL)

The are basically two kinds of goals I have on this list: the achieving a one-time (skydive!) and the lifestyle-change (composting).I want to take steps toward making all of my choices and moments count the best they can. To me, that’s not a burden, it’s an opportunity. I feel great about TRYING rather than burdened about not achieving.

working out: I made it a priority to get in a certain number of miles. I made it about half the time, but even when I didn’t, I still got to the gym for at least a couple of them.

I turned 27 in September, and I acknowledge that it’s possible “34 months” is too short a time to institute all these changes. It’s also possible that it’s really, really not.

I feel good about trying for this much because I’ve seen that God’s grace is big and strong. In just this past year I’ve

  • become a consistent worker-outer,
  • started steps toward eating clean and organic,
  • learned to cook,
  • gotten into a serious romantic relationship and
  • become a massage therapist all while maintaining a 4.0 in grad school the two semesters I had.

If I hadn’t set goals, I would have

  • worked out just “whenever” (in the past – twice a week to once a month)
  • broken up with my boyfriend in the first 24 hours (not an exaggeration)
  • eaten like I always had, which means
  • no cooking, and
  • zero organic items, and
  • not done ANYTHING toward becoming a massage therapist.

All of those things only happened because I decided to make them goals, and when I have a goal, I pursue it. IT DOES NOT ALWAYS WORK OUT, which I’ll try to talk about next blog, but obvi it’s always better than if I’d had no goal at all.

school: massage school was really hard sometimes. But it was also REALLY SUNNY.

I’ve also learned that I have a high level of gumption most days, and can get a lot done. So I want to set goals that allow me to pursue doing the RIGHT things, as opposed to watching every episode of MTV’s AWKARD….Or wahtever.

Anyone else making life goals? I want to hear them! What are your systems for goal setting?

What’s next and Why I’ve Been Gone

Sometimes there are things that, because you can’t talk about them right away, you need to wait. Until things calm down, until you have the proper words, until the sting goes away.

And there are some things that you have to just say. This is a little of both.

I’ve been M.I.A. from the interweb world for the past few weeks. I didn’t have internet at home, life was busy like whoa, and some great/awful things happened.

You know. Great/awful. Like, my great grandmother, a woman who we joked would NEVER die, died. Awful. But I got to go to Tennessee, I spent 24 hours in the car with my mom AND ENJOYED IT, I saw my daddy and generally learned to experience that whole side of the family in a new way/was challenged to see my sin in the way I view them now.  Great!

But I tell you, it’s God mercy to me that things have been so crazy, because something that happened weeks ago is something I can just now update you on, because I needed this time so I could tell you and make sure it was the truth, and not just how it feels (especially because at first, it did NOT feel anything like what it actually is). I should get to “it,” right?

 

Okay, some of you knew, some of you didn’t, that my next “step” in life, after myKidStuff internship was up, was to begin student counseling at a Gospel Counseling Center. It was something I was super excited, although never fully peaceful, about. I was hesitant to talk about it for some time because it just always felt a little off. (You non-feelers have NO idea what I’m talking about) But it seemed clear that this was the next logical step, a great opportunity, and an amazing chance to hone skills that I definitely want in my professional career.

A few weeks ago, while discussing the details of the job, those involved (myself included) determined that I was not yet ready for this role.

In the interest of keeping minds from wandering, I will share a few details:

There was no moral failure on anyone’s part, though some honest mis-communication.

I didn’t fail to grow in any way that was ever asked of me.

But I’m just not ready for this exact role.

I (as well as my professors) feel I AM equipped to give beyond-adequate care in a student counselor role.

But that’s not what’s being asked of me.

 

I won’t be working there. But nothing is wrong, no one has been wronged, or failed, and life is still just as beautiful.

 

Now, that’s all I’m gonna say about that.

 

HOWEVER:

Get ready for some AWESOME coming your way. Complete with a new house where I live that i LOVE LOVE LOVE, a new semester of awesome learning opportunities, and random musings of conviction, love, and life as your favorite gypsy/counselor/fashion-wanna-be. Oh and pictures. I haven’t been posting them, but i HAVE been taking pictures. :)

Bags of Adventure

I don’t wake up in the morning feelin’ like P. Diddy*. I wake up and think, once again, “Gluten is NEVER worth it. And WHY do i insist on such awful sleeping patterns?” Then: I roll out of bed (yes, actually roll, cause I’m all tangled in my blankets)

Clean up, pack, plan my day

Bank

Outlet Mall

Class (where I am now…blogging and doing homework because I want to be respectful, but listening to this man talk has the same affect as telling me to be still….an extreme LACK of stillness)

Work

Hour-long meeting about new job (starts in two weeks)

Hour-Long meeting about current job (ends in six weeks)

Lingerie party (explains the outlet mall)

Karaoke

Dancing on Dirty Sixth because I love Tenaya.

Go home and sleep until 7am, to ramp up for tomorrow’s adventures, which will involve even more costume changes than today’s.

 

which is saying something.

 

part of today's survival kit. Not pictured: my backpack full of work & class activities.

 

Because what i’m wearing now will change at 5, again at 8, again at 11, and once more whenever I get home (hallelujah).

 

In other words, my life is always an adventure, never boring, and full of bags.

 

*I almost linked to that video. Then I saw the sidebar. KE$HA IS NOT SAFE ON YOUTUBE. thatisall

Bubba and Belle

if I really think about it, if I really look at them, my brother and sister who are moving across the country and across the world, i tear up.

my heart, unbridled by TRUTH and giving in to perception, cries out along with my eyes. No.

No! Please, please don’t leave. Please don’t go away. I love you, I want you here, I want you near me.

I’ve done it again. I’ve grown attached to people. The deep veins of familial ties never truly established in blood have etched themselves in through these people, this spiritual family. They have become part of my daily routine.

They have become part of my heart.

I was not, at first, quiet about this displeasure. Especially with Bubba. With my Belle, I had more time. I knew this was her plan from the moment I met her. We’ve had years now to grow together and love and as I have supported her, i have, not thinking what it would really mean to not have her (or, in more faithful moments, believing that “what it would be like” is God’s plan – infinitely better than any alternative). So with my Belle, as the date has approached, I’ve kept myself (ever so slightly) in check with the (out loud) “OHMYGOSH DON’T LEAVE ME,”-s.

But Bubba up and made this decision OUT OF EFF…REAKING NOWHERE. (Not true. I’ve known he was thinking about it for months but literally REFUSED TO THINK (or even pray other than a randomly thrown up “oh god, tell him and make it clear….but mostly make it clear that he should stay but i mean, whatever you want, im just sayin..”) about it.

And long story short in a month, they’ll both be gone.

My sweet neighbor who I love and visit and spend time with and who is, as many have pointed out, a special friend, a brother-from-another-mother who plays with me so well that other people will miss our interactions, HE IS LEAVING.

My beautiful gypsy sister, the one who is so different from me, but SO GOOD AT LOVING ME, will be HALFWAY across the dang world and WHO  will i call to come over and have sparkling grape juice and strawberries with my while i scurry about cleaning my apartment and over-analyzing whatever is on my mind and with WHOM will i go on movie dates with my pink glittery flask (a gift from my bubby, the biological brother, the other Valle-felon) if my Belle in in TURKEY. Where the last time i was there, they kept trying to abscond with my passport and squinty-eyed at me even though I don’t have the evil eyes.

(that was a tangent. if those last few sentences didn’t make sense to you it’s only because they don’t make sense.)

This is not supposed to be a rant. this is supposed to be about not ranting.

i’ll ‘splain tomorrow. if i can pick myself out of the “what will i do without bubba and belle” despair.

The Blessing of Unrequited (shadows)

As you may have expected, people have been asking me how I’m doing since that little “in love with someone who wants someone else.” fiasco. (which you can see more about here, here, and here.)

And honestly: I’m OKAY.

See? Cute outfit. I must be okay. ;)

I mean, i’m probably better than okay. I don’t feel any differently about him, but I am trying every day to be faithful with whatever is in front of me. And you know what’s NOT in front of me? That man.

But what is still in front of me is my God and His goodness. And one of my favorite things about God is that since His glory is the point of everything, I can count on everything to teach me something about His glory. Circular references can be the bomb sometimes.

And I am so grateful that my feelings are what they are.

I am grateful that I have no control over this strong, abiding, i-know-will-go-away-when-God-sees-fit, beyond-all-sense love.

Not because it shows me how I should love God,

but because it shows me how God loves me.

And that man not loving me* shows me a lot about how I love God.

I hope this can make sense.

I didn’t choose to want this man. In fact, I fought it like CRAZY. Until I just knew. KNEW  that I couldn’t fight it anymore. There wasn’t anything I could do to change it. And like he told me again and again, the man didn’t change in any way to make me want him. He didn’t measure up (not that he had some failing to cover) or win my affection with his goodness. He didn’t suddenly warrant my love in some way that changed for those feelings to resurge SO STRONGLY. It just happened and I knew it wouldn’t un-happen.

But he didn’t want me.

It reminds me of the love of God. Except he CAN and DOES choose to love us. To love ME in a way that isn’t EVER going to un-happen. He loves me not because I measured up or won his attention with my worthiness. He loves me no matter what I do.

And so often, I just don’t want him. I choose other things (and here the analogy breaks down because I choose far less worthy things. Q didn’t choose anything less worthy, just different).

See I love the way I feel about that man, and even the way he feels about me, because it points me again and again to the greatest love story, told on Calvary with an empty cross and an empty grave. It reminds me that the strongest love I’ll ever understand (which no, i don’t think i’ve experienced yet) on this earth

Will still only be a vain shadow of the love God has for me.

It points me back to how grateful I am for this unmerited gift. This thing I could never earn. This thing beyond words and understanding.

The blessing of an unrequited love all wrapped up in the love I could never hope to match. The love of the Father and King and Lover of my soul.

How have past loves taught you about His great love?

*not romantically, anyway. He’s still a kind, sweet creature. Just one exercising his privilege to prefer another. I can malign no one this choice. Please no, “he’s so {anything}.” comments about him not wanting me. ;)

Evangelistic Encouragement

::Warning: this is a LOT of words and if you don’t like Jesus, you probs will think it’s boring. If you DO like Jesus or even think he’s interesting, you might find some encouragement within::

 

Tonight was the second night in a row that a non christian has sat down next to me and asked me to explain the Gospel.
Let me back up.

Last night I had to leave missional community training early. My friend and co LTG member asked me to join her on her formerly loan-ranger mission field… a karaoke league (yes, they have leagues). I, until this moment, HATED even the idea of karaoke, but we’ve been taught that we need to be IN COMMUNITY in mission, so I signed up. I even found myself getting excited about it. Since we learned just before I left that to be missional we need to both DEMONSTRATE and DECLARE, that was my prayer as I drove to Ego’s bar. “Dear God, please, somehow, in a bar, while people are singing, give me the chance and ability to demonstrate and declare. And …please don’t let it be awkward.” Well, friends, it WAS awkward. My friend wasn’t there yet, so I tried to make friends with a group of girls… Rebuffed! I eventually met my “team,” and sat there thinking “I am so out of my league, here. The only things I know how to do at a bar are get hit on, or avoid eye contact so I don’t get hit on.” Finally, my friend arrives and I think that maybe, i’ll make it through this night.

I’m not sure how much later, my friend introduces me to a man who was not unkind man, just the type you meet and think that people aren’t probably very kind to him. A bit awkward, probably more intelligent than those around him. So, less relateable than the homeboy next to me chugging a brewsky. I get it. But my friend, H, knew him and knew that he was studying counseling so she introduced him to me. What happened next I can take ZERO credit for. Because even though I work at a church, a pretty easy gimme into talking about the gospel, i was only telling people I was a student that night. Because all I wanted to do was NOT get hit (really, something I should elaborate on later) on or feel awkward, and because I WAS SCARED ABOUT SINGING KARAOKE. Through all of this, God was willing to show that He had bigger plans. The man asked me what kind of counseling I want to do.
I said Gospel counseling.
He asked what that was.

And spent the next 45 minutes talking to me about God, the Bible, the Gospels, “church history” (what he knew….which was fuzzy). Since I’ve had the benefit of amazing theology, Religious Studies in college, and GT classes, I had a lot to contribute to the converstaion. He was impressed at hearing what The Austin Stone is doing in the city, and asked about our “bible studies.” I told him I’d bring him a church history book next week. And I will.

A man just sat down next to me and asked me to explain the Gospel. That’s not the kind of thing that happens every day. I mean, sure, we’d JUST prayed that God would change our hearts and cause us to be his ambassadors in the city, but c’mon. Fluke, right? No, y’all, we know better than that.

Then today, i was out at the pool reading Stetzer and Nation’s Compelled By Love. Which, for the two chapters I got done, is a great read. A reminder that we are called to SACRIFICIAL love. Which is the ONLY reason I got myself up from the pool and ready for dinner with my friend, M. (Greater love has no man than this: that (s)he would leave the sunshine by the pool for dinner with her friend.;) M and I know each other from undergrad and we’ve hung out exactly one time in my whole life: when he wanted to hang so I invited him to church. I did the worst job ever on following up with that, but M is gracious, and God is really really loving and really really loves M and will fight even the selfish tendancies in my own stubborn heart to show M that love. We got to Chuy’s and, for a reason I really don’t know, M asked, “So you haven’t always been religious, right?” That one comment turned into me sharing my testimony and sharing the Gospel.

M said he loved God, but he couldn’t be a Christian, could he? Because he’s gay.

I told him I believe everything the Bible says, and the Bible says homosexuality, along with every other sin, is wrong. But it also tells us that we are saved or damned based on one thing, and one thing alone, the atonement of Christ on our behalf. I had my bible with me and we looked at Ephesians 2, and lots of other passages I can’t even remember at this moment. I shared with him and showed him (Thank the Sweet Lord that I decided to bring my chapstick, cell phone, wallet, AND my Bible to dinner. I don’t even remember making that decision.) that the giants of the Bible were all bums who God used because HE LOVED THEM, not because they were so great.
I said, “Yes, homosexuality is a sin. But you’re asking the wrong question. People don’t go to hell for being gay. The thing that makes the difference, that says if you get to be with God for eternity, is if his grace has caused your heart to change, to love him, to have faith in Jesus’ sacrifice for you. Sins are attoned for by Christs’ blood, not our actions.”
We talked so long and so much about God and the Gospel that they called our names, and we didn’t hear. Many minutes later a hostess asked me “aren’t you Ritz?” “yes.” “We’ve been calling you forever. A whole page of people after you has already gotten seated.” They took us to a table, but God wasn’t done yet.
We talked about the Spirit leading and changing us, about God’s way being best because He is God and perfect.
“But how do you choose the parts of the Bible to believe?!”

“I believe it all.”
“The parts about slavery?” then we talked about how God told his people to be good to their slaves, how it was differnt then, and often kinder (like a way to get out of debt) and not at all what we think of today. We talked about cultural context and reading historical works. We talked about how Jesus came to break the chains of bondage. We talked about the place of Godly principals, even in secular practices.

“And about women being submissive?” So we opened to Ephesians 5 and talked about how men are called to love and lead, and the beauty of the roles of Christ and the church played out in real life. How that is supposed to show people part of God’s story. M agreed that if he ever saw a couple like that, he’d think something was different about them.
After dinner, we went to the Match Maker Band event at the St John site. There, M got to really see the community apologetic. He saw people coming together to serve each other, to support. I showed him the pictures of Kibera (a slum in Africa where our church sends teams to go do mission work) and shared about what people are doing in Reagan (a high school where we do the same). I stopped at the picture of N (a high schooler from Reagan) and told him about T (the youth minister) having him living with him for a while when he needed a place to be. Suddenly these friends I’ve known so long seemed so much more remarkable, seeing them from M’s eyes. I even shared that I am a fundraising intern and that my friends send in checks every month that pay for my salary. He was floored. What could compel people to give $10, $20, $100, $250, EVERY MONTH?! Not me, certainly. Just the Gospel, just the love of Christ that calls us to love others.
“This is what it’s supposed to look like. This is how the body is supposed to work. This is how we are supposed to be known, as Christians, by our love.”
“I don’t have any friends like that,” he said. “I couldn’t get anyone to help me move. My one friend, if I ask her for a ride, her first question isn’t where I need to go but if I have money to pay for gas.”
“I have the most amazing friends. But it’s not because I’m great, it’s because Jesus is, and he loves them, and that changes people. I know the most generous and loving people, and that has changed me. And God’s love is supposed to flow out like that.”

After we got back to my apartment to part ways, I sent him home with Redeeming Love, just to read a story of how it’s not the sin that mattered, it’s the persistent love of the Lord. He wants to start reading the Bible together and we’re going to hang out again next week.

At karaoke. :)

Mrs Dubs

I just found out that the mother of my first love has cancer.

Which made me think of two things: First, that I will start to pray for this woman who deserves a thank you for putting up with my rowdy teenage angst while I dated her son. And second, about her son:

The man I loved back in high school.

i was going for sassy, but came out angry. the matching fauxhawks we AFTER we broke up!

Tall. Brown hair. Hazel eyes. Grew his beard out for me. Played every instrument he touched. Yeah, you can imagine how 15 year old me felt about 16 year old him.

Though years, states, and circumstances have separated us, and though I smile back on every memory I have of the man(the boy, back then!) I don’t feel any unresolved business between us. We had a rough break up, we went different places in the world and in our lives, and eventually we just… were okay, I guess. I mean it took a lot more drama than that but it’s sweet to look back and remember that during a time I was sure I wouldn’t make it (it really was a ROUGH break up, now that I think about it) God carried me through. What at the time was THE most important thing in my life is now something I have to search to remember.

God’s mercies are new every morning, and after 8 years of new mornings, it’s difficult to truly recall what pain that time was. But I wanted to remember for a minute because it wasn’t the last time I felt that way.

And there will be times in the future when I feel it again.

When what I think is THE most important thing in the world suddenly becomes no longer part of my world.

And I will hurt.

And I will cry.

And I will be sure that I am not strong enough to handle this.

And I won’t be.

But God always will.

If you pray, please take a moment to pray for Mrs. W and her family.  As she faces a treatment plan she cannot afford and a sickness she cannot fight on her own, I know they will all appreciate the strength and peace of the Lord.

The Craziest Thing I’ve Ever Done

Yesterday, I did THE craziest thing I’ve ever done in my life. Those who have known me long enough to object – talk in code, it’s a family show ;)

And YES I will tell you what I did. NO i will NOT do it now. :)

But when i tell you it was the craziest thing I’ve ever done, I need you to understand some context:

once I decided, at age 19, to go to india. and a month later, I did.

twice, i shaved my head. once all the way to a buzz cut, once to a faux hawk.

more than I can count, i’ve decided to tresspass, often at the beach, sometimes during AWFUL STORMS that almost blow the car off the road.

until grampa forbade me, i picked up hitchhikers.

i spent 40 days fasting (as in not eating), even though I knew i had struggled with disordered eating in the past.

i have a tattoo on my ring finger. But Im not married.

as a child, i’ve counted tens of thousands of dollars of drug money on my relative’s kitchen counter. (i really was raised differently than you were) and carried bricks of illegal things to be taken to do illegal things.

i’ve gone on tour with the 5 rowdiest, most ridiculous band brothers i know.

i’ve sat in the hospital next to my dying parents (separate times, both miraculously healed) and made life-and-death decisions.

i put most of my dirty laundry on the interweb for the world to see.

i chose to spend three years of my adult life in a job that, when it COULD pay me, still left  me solidly under the poverty line.

i applied to and started grad school without consultation of anything but the :feeling” i was supposed to.

i’ve colored my hair every color in the rainbow. except green. even on a list of crazy, that’s just crazy talk. ;)

and well, we’re not going to talk about parties in college.

 

but all of that, still not the craziest thing I’ve ever done.

In fact, most of it wasn’t  even in the last three years. I’ve clearly calmed down a little. Oh but yesterday…..

 

Anyway, clearly some of my above choices (even though not all were choices) were not right. But I think some of them absolutely were. I absolutely needed to go to India. It was one of the singular most shaping experiences of my life. I was forever changed for good. Some of the others, too.

 

So if you are ever considering doing something crazy, I have the following advice:

 

Doing something crazy because it is the weirdest, sexiest, or most exciting thing is the WRONG reason to do something. It’s probably selfish and chances are, on some level, you’re likely to regret it later.

 

But if you feel like you really need to do something,

except that thing, it’s counter-intuitive, and painful, and scary and new and against everything you’ve ever known, if it puts you in a vulnerable place and the outcome is RISKY, it has the potential to change EVERYTHING….I encourage you to consider if all of that is just a side effect of the fact that God is calling you to it.

 

Because all of that, the counter-intuitive, the painful, scary,new, against everything you’ve ever known, the vulnerability and risk, the ability to change everything,

THAT sounds a lot like Jesus. And God’s plan for him, through him, for us.

People Change

a “just a thought” post.

looking in the mirror just now, i felt comfortable. I wondered if maybe i’d lost weight, maybe the tan or the outfit or maybe….. maybe I’m just different.

 

I think i’ve done an okay job on this blog of chronicling the ups and downs of surviving disordered eating and skewed body image. Tell me if i haven’t. But for the last year or so, I’ve just been MOSTLY happy with myself.  Even my “not that chubby” series culminated with: I’m happy with myself.

 

There are some of us who believe people do not change. I used to think that. There are some that think you have to CHOOSE to change. I used to think that too.

 

So I’d love to say that either I’ve always been this way, somewhere, deep down. But that would be a lie. And I’d love to say that I just chose once and kept choosing to love truth more than my perception of it. But, that’s not really how love works, is it?

 

I find more and more that instead of a bright light, a moment of revelation (although, as Paul and his donkey would affirm, those happen), love often happens as a whisper that says, “Hi, I am here, would you like to see me?” And most often, I say no. I would not like to see love. I’d like to see traffic or heartache or hunger but not love. Sure COGNITIVELY i’d choose love. But when I “snap” at someone or fall into despair, my actions are choosing to see circumstances, not love.

 

Love, though, is of all things, first patient. (oh and I am, of all things, often first IMpatient.) And love keeps whispering. And somehow, as I say “yes” more and more, as love convinces me, wears down my defenses with comfort and joy and kindness and always rejoicing, i find the film falling from my eyes.

 

Until FINALLY, love doesn’t have to whisper from across the room. Love knocks on the door of my heart and I am over-the-moon. I smile brightly, “LOVE! I’m so glad you’re here.” And love comes in.

 

and with love in my heart, i look back at all the times I’ve stomped on him, and I become ashamed. I want to turn away, I don’t want him to see me so close, to know just…ALL of me. And with this knowledge, this perfect knowledge of my past and my future, with power to do anything with me, what does love do?

 

Love….loves. There is no fear in love. Perfect love casts out all fear. And When he does, I, now fearless, run back.

 

So…I think people do change.

 

Love changes them.

i found love in the middle of a textile while making a gift. how kind of love to remind me, he's everywhere.