Identity

It’s the core of everything.

And when it’s in question, it’s the crumbling of everything.

When you don’t know who you are… all of it implodes.

Start with the beginning of the day.

There’s a mirror.

What happens when you look in it?

I would love to think it’s good but I think many if not most people lean in and look at flaws at some time in the day. Or compare their face, their hair, their body with someone they know and more likely some popular online person who’s likely been altered either online or truly.

That’s impossible to measure up to.

And that’s just the beginning of the day.

We exercise. And best case scenario is we do it because we want to be strong and healthy. That’s good! Often it’s to silence the taunting voice in the mirror. And it doesn’t matter how beautiful your face or hair or body is, you still hear it.

Then, get dressed. More challenges because who knows if what’s hanging in the closet is in style this year and if you’re even comfortable in it. But thanks to the insidious machine of advertising, if you’re not comfortable, you will be in a year or too due to the psychological warfare being waged on your brain, but then it’ll be too late as a different style of dress will have come in. And likely (if you’re a woman especially) it will cover even less of you than it did before.

Are we even hungry after this? And if we are, the plethora of food options is mesmerizing.

How we even get out the door intact is questionable.

Family. Transportation. School. Job(s). Social life.

And now add in pandemics and all the ideologies out there vying for your soul.

And if you don’t support them all you might be cancelled.

Cancelled? Like a date. Like I’m not wanted? Like I’m out?

Now what’s happening to your identity?

Spiral. Spiral. Spiral.

Depression. Medication. Suicide.

Look at this?!

Whoever you are out there, I’m hugging you.

Breathe.

It’s a lie!

There is hope.

You are loved!!!

Just you, without all the bells and whistles. Without you agreeing with everything. With your questions and discomfort and probably rage and sadness.

Like what the hell is going on and why do we get to inherit this mess?

You’re right.

Here are some thoughts in the midst of the deconstruction of everything.

There is a foundation. Something solid to stand on.

There is truth and stability.

There is love and it’s more than what’s being thrown around out there.

If you are desperate for something to rest your tired soul on let’s talk. There are a few pages here to dive into.

Try “What if a Kingdom.”

And just “Welcome” if you haven’t gone there yet and “Contact” if you want to actually chat.

This is not about promoting a blog but knowing sometimes we all just need a stable place to land.

Peace to you. And I love the Hebrew word that means the same, only more.

Shalom

That is my prayer for you today.

I’m tucked in, bundled in these layers; rumpled cotton sheets, off-white with this soft green leafy pattern like I’m swaddled in a spring garden. Comforter, and the fleecy blanket I swiped from my daughter’s room when she left for university, cover me. Everything’s warm in this nestling as I look across the room at the rocking chair, in the dim light, my clothes laid across the high back.

I’m not a morning person.

But this early morning is calling and I’m not sure what I’ll answer.

Yes, and push back this comfort or sink deeper and yield to another hour of oblivion?

Creativity is calling. I know I’m going to write this while I’m still deep in. I’m going to beat this.

What am I willing to trade for the moments of being weighted down, letting inertia win so my sleepy body can atrophy a bit longer? Which words will not find a page, thoughts succumb to the numbing, so that I and God and others won’t benefit from me being awake.

And I put it in that order on purpose.

I – because I benefit when I put my feet on the floor, grab those clothes and agree that morning is here and being awake is a good thing. Thoughts spark, spirit stretches to the Most High and that’s the next point.

God – not that He benefits from my getting up but I have to believe He’s pleased that I choose rising rather than sinking and has thoughts and plans about this day and all the resources I need in it, so is blessed in some fashion as I reach for Him on this still dawning day, but the blessing is all mine.

Others – because I don’t want the focus to be just on me, but on what God has planned to do through me and that is to bless others in some way, small or big and it’s not about trying but just showing up.

What do we trade all through the day for His glory and our good?

What little decisions press us into our comfort zones, lingering us there in repeating patterns, kaleidoscopes of same habits, stifling the God breathed invitation to wholeness shimmering around our souls daily.

It’s a conundrum as we lay in the beds we’ve made, covered in what’s familiar, safe feeling in some fashion, even if it’s not, yet around us is this sparkling more, this goodness calling us past the self-comfort into a galaxy of provision and we hesitate, I hesitate to step out, crawl out, leap out of the thing that binds me. And sheets, even pretty ones, sure can do that.

So this day…I’m up!

Early and writing. It’s good. Quiet, like no other time. Thoughts flow as I sip this cinnamon tea and anticipate.

And this offering is what the morning brings … so far.

Dog and I at the reservoir.

Crisp air.

Blackbird’s tinselly tune,

and the chickadee -dees dart (note to self: bring sunflower seeds next time).

An orgy of burgundies and ochre, paint-splattered across these autumn acres. Flaming sumacs arch into the path.

Then, this tributary and you grey and still against the rushes.

Reflected in shallow stream.

Standing.

Long.

I slip forward, trying not to disturb as your head moves, watching me and I you.

I turn for just a moment (where has dog gone),

And when I look back, you’ve disappeared.

I peer. Are you camouflaged in the reeds?

No.

I press through grass and weeds to my hips, closer,

And along the narrow, weaving corridor of this water, you are there.

Tiptoeing if I can call it that,

One long leg, one web foot after the other.

A graceful exit from my intrusion.

Your neck dips and head turns.

You look and I look as you saunter into the grey,

On this reddest of mornings.

Un-ashamed

You can wear a cloak for a lot of years, unknowingly draping most parts of you in a deep shade of shame.

There are unsettling, unexplainable times in all our lives. Events that drag a child from innocence to knowing. Apple times when the serpent dangles life altering fruit in front of us and we naively reach out, taking a terrible nibble.

I was twelve I think when he came through the door. He met my parents and asked for me to do some babysitting. I was standing in our foyer with Mum and Dad. As he and his wife chatted with us, his eyes wandered to mine. Dark eyes. Hungry eyes. I can still see them. Feel them. Like I was something to eat. The room seemed shaded as if the sun was blocked and I couldn’t catch my breath. And then the air changed. Bright conversation again. Happy to have the request for me to help, my parents smiled at me. His wife was pleased (I think) and they left. I was uncertain but had no words for the dark butterfly trapped in the pit of my stomach.

This one story wound its’ confusing narrative up into my teen years. This heaped on top of other, earlier exploitive chapters. As I look back I wonder if I was marked for this, for the insidious worm kept surfacing at segments of my life, and into adulthood.

What is it that decides this child, this young girl, this teen, this woman is chosen for exploitation? Or who I should say.

Is it the sins of the fathers, the mothers, generations back? Not my father, respectful and kind, or Grandpa. I didn’t have that crippling story added to mine. It was another.

The marks it left robed me, roped me into a thinking that tarnished my whole life.

How do you bounce back when you don’t know what’s tying you in knots.

One evening I sat at a table, in a gathering of wholesome and safe people. But this particular evening someone was absent. The one other women at my table was away. Part way through, as we discussed heart matters and watched the video the church had selected to lead us through, I became aware of panic. A sense of danger and the need to flee. Three men and me. Not safe.

Breathe. Not the same. Breathe. Reason. Don’t cry. Calm. Go to the bathroom. Settle down. Note to self: Make an appointment with counsellor.

Phew! Where did that come from.

And why on earth am I sharing this vulnerable story with you? Why say things that no one has any business knowing. Except that if we don’t tell these things then where will it end…. and….there’s the other side of it.

The gem in this dark soul space. The place of hidden stories.

I sense that when I became a Christian, there was a mere changing of clothes but the heart stuff stayed hidden and festering.

I grew, yes.

I fell in love with Jesus, somewhat.

I worshipped, kind of, the best I knew how.

I was catapulted into the place of being a ‘saved person’, part of the youth group, part of the Christian community that reaches more unsaved people and brings them into the kingdom.

But I was broken.

And I couldn’t express it but always felt something was amiss but assumed it was just being a maladjusted teen.

Don’t mistake what I’m saying. Jesus saved me! I did become part of the Kingdom and knew His voice. But there was this undealt with part of me that just got pushed to the side, the deep inside and caused a limp that wouldn’t heal.

I don’t understand God’s timing, why it’s taken these 40 years to get to the root. But it’s been now and before and will continue I’m sure….

I didn’t understand the depths of his caring, the layers of intensity and purpose in digging into what matters to Him. That He’s present, was there in my history and is here now and ferociously loves me. And is leading me in this healing. And His timing is right.

My heart is soil and He’s turning it

Hauling out shame

Digging deep for the vestiges of these roots.

Planting me a beauty garden

It’s a tenuous walk,

A tentative navigation of unearthed sensations, revealed rawness

Swirling consciousness as comprehension awakens

It’s a rebirthing

A needing to flail and wail

A wanting of being swaddled into safety

A peeling off of masks

A stripping down to the most vulnerable me

I believe it will lead to that garden, in time….

A pure place.

This confidence emerging.

He’s rooting out lies, amending me with love

speaking in His truthful word, gently

as I just lean in and allow this honesty.

Is the story complete? Is the healing done and I’m all better?

No.

Will I ever be fully restored? I hope so but know that this side of Heaven there may always be scars.

For now… just learning to be safe.

Learning to rest in the freedom of letting that young girl not carry the blame.

And that my friend, is good.

My prayer for you is freedom as well. We all have different narratives but the undergirding truth is that Jesus wants to set us free from all that binds us. To help us understand that He is FOR us. So then, honestly, who can be against us?

I hope you let Him into the most tender parts of your story and that you learn He is good and so wants to redeem what you’ve been through.

~In Christ ~