bondage

Being vulnerable is a scary thing. One of the most challenging aspects to my blogging, for me, is the fine line I walk between being transparent for the sake of authentic dialogue and to perhaps setting someone (including myself!) free, and baring my soul with so much abandon that an emotional vulture could swoop in and choose to use my words against me.

In an argument.

To make a point.

While trying to win…

Or hurt.

The thing about transparency, however, is that as expensive as it can be to open up oneself to possible rejection, the cost of NOT being so bold is infinitely more damaging. Nothing is more powerful, equalizing or freeing as to expose ourselves for who we truly are. To express what we really feel. In quiet of the night, from the recesses of our minds.

It is an odd pain when someone uses your own words against you – it’s extremely powerful. And yet I must remind myself that for a fellow human to feel it’s appropriate to intentionally forge a weapon with another’s vulnerability, is by far more a reflection upon their own heart and capacity for genuine relationship than my own self-perceived flaws. I would far rather be raw and possibly let someone else know they are not alone, risking the occasional hater, than keep to myself and present a facade.

Always remember the value of your testimony, of your contribution. Someone, somewhere, right now, is longing for the encouragement that YOU alone can bring. Don’t allow the FEAR of possible rejection to prevent you from setting others free…

For if you do, it is then you in bondage.

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the unedited point

I can’t sleep tonight. Oftentimes these days, sleep eludes between 2 a.m and 5 – sometimes I am lucky enough to doze off right before my alarm, but other times…

It’s usually when my mind starts to process. Wander. And tonight was no different. It started with a child’s nightmare at 1:30, followed by a loud sawing of logs on the part of my husband around 2. After trying myriad things, I decided that for once I would simply write down all the things that I ponder, and maybe, just maybe, getting them out will bring the silence I so desperately long for.

Love is so hard to find. Within ourselves, that is. I don’t mean the emotion we have for others, nor the dizzying euphoria of having found that compatible counterpart. But true, authentic, selfless love. The kind the bible talks about – laying down one’s life, and setting aside self. The kind of love that cannot be repaid – sacrifice with no promise, or even expectation, of reciprocation.

The kind of love that nailed Jesus to a tree.

I had a moment recently, and again today, when I was confronted by my inability to give without expectation. It was one of those grounding, confirming, almost time-stopping moments when the truth is so clear that it can only be responded to with a complete a paradigm shift. In my desire to do it “right,” to be a “good Christian,” and to really, save face and look good, I created the very thing I was trying to run away from. As many times as I told myself that my choices were based on being who I wanted to be, I stuffed feelings, thoughts and ideas, and subsequently became the worst version of myself.

Love is authentic. Has no expectation. Never requires reciprocity. Demands authenticity. Screams of sacrifice, while striving for nothing less than absolute freedom.

Sometimes love is vulnerability, regardless of the cost.

Love is transparency, even if it is used against you.

I am so guilty of not loving. Of holding other people to the expectations in my head. I have subconsciously asked others to think like me, respond as I would, and have allowed disillusionment and bitterness to be my response when they haven’t. Worse yet, in an effort to maintain the equilibrium that I insisted on, I refused to put boundaries around myself and caused endless damage. My unexpressed expectations have left a bitter taste in more than one mouth – most notably my own.

So the question is, how do I love better? Jesus died for an entire world with absolutely no return on his investment – am I willing to do the same??

There isn’t a neat bow to put on this one. I think it’s an open-ended conversation that should be had daily, for without such self reflection, I run the risk of never fully being able to experience, and to give, a truly genuine freedom to anyone including myself.

How do you love? Can we as humans ever fully love without any expectations?? More and more, I recognize my depravity, and it always points me back to the cross… And maybe, that’s the point.

 

 

fathers.

Yesterday was quite possibly the most emotional Father’s Day for me to date. I am not entirely certain why this year was such, but a lump rose up even as I gave my husband his morning kiss and greeting.

Days celebrating a parent can be emotional for many of us.

I have fond memories of my dad growing up. And some not so much. There were challenges in his personal life that bled into his capacity to be as gentle as my spirit longed for. Even in my adulthood, certain issues sprung up that led to the setting of boundaries that had to put a distance between us. There is peace in the safety, and sadness at what could have been.

Our papa is missed and I celebrate him today.

Growing up, my oldest and dearest friend’s father was a constant presence, and a particularly tumultuous  season following my separation from my first husband lent an opportunity for us to grow even closer. As a result, he became my “spiritual father” and a most wonderful grandfather to our children.

I celebrate him today.

Most notably in my thoughts are my oldest two children’s father, and my husband. Both have worked hard to overcome the challenges of co-parenting, of step-parenting, and both have risen to the task in ways I could not have imagined. I think if I were to be honest, I had (and sometimes still have), some high expectations of what a solid, godly dad would look like, and yet if I were even more honest, I would say that the areas where they have veered from my hopes the greatest is where my kids have been blessed the most.

I celebrate them. Daily.

Years ago, a very wise said to me, as I sat in a puddle of tears, that God gave me the parents I was meant to have to mold me into the person I was meant to be. Regardless of what you have felt, or not felt, for your dad, give him honor for who he IS today, not for who he is not. All have fallen short, but all have given us what we needed. Even if that need is an empty space only God can fill…

 

Honor your mother and father, that you may live long and prosper in all things. – Exodus 20:12

 

own it.

Our culture richly celebrates independence – freedom of speech, freedom of religion, Independence Day, self-starters, songs about living life “our way”… And yet, at the exact same time, we long for relationship, create infinite rules about engagement and protocol, and more often than not, set ourselves up for failure instead of success. While we scream for validation and attention in social media, we will often simultaneously stomp our feet and insist we don’t need anyone.

We got this.

I think one of the most ironic things about our perceived “independence” is the emptiness we feel when it comes to authentic relationship. So often our words, non-verbal communication and decisions are founded on, and promote, an I’m-gonna-do-it-myself attitude, while our hearts long for someone to join us in our endeavors. Instead of seeking to find a healthy balance of doing life ALONGSIDE someone, we push others away, set unrealistic terms of engagement, and then BLAME when we feel alone.

From the moment God created us, we were destined for relationship. He designed us to “do life” with others. Independent as we may think we are, there will always be a space that longs for, and seeks out to be filled. Relationally. No matter how often we lie to ourselves that “we got this,” we will never walk in fullness if we choose to go it alone.

As someone who has fought hard to overcome codependent tendencies, I have found it a struggle to learn how to walk with those who operate this way. The tug-of-war is a challenge as I work to navigate the ever-changing ebb and flow; the push-pull element of being in relationship with one who pushes away, only to curse your absence when they want you there. On their terms. For those of us who have done the pushing, it’s imperative we are really honest with ourselves when we find ourselves feeling as though our mountains must be climbed alone. Most likely it is me-myself-and-I who has hand-crafted that chasm.

Who do you need? Who needs you? What does that truly look like? How can you “walk” better than you have? I know that for myself, digging deep and examining my  own personal limitations, and expectations, is something that has not been easy to accept, but I think, in time, I may find myself more capable of accepting the ebb and flow more easily, letting myself off the hook more readily. And to close the door when necessary…

love myself.

I’ve always told my kids that it doesn’t matter what other people do; we are still responsible for our own actions and decisions. This foundational truth works great when it comes to hitting back, choosing nice words, etc. But, to be honest, as an adult I find this principle a little more challenging to live by than it would seem to as a child.

There are some relationships and situations in my life where I am beginning to weary. After years of humbling myself, offering love in the face of abuse, neglect and sometimes absolute silence, I am starting to tire of choosing to “be who I am regardless of what others choose to do.”

When does love become dangerous?

The line is beginning to blur. I know some who set huge boundaries at the slightest sign of pain, others who are patient and offer little bits of affection and time. Myself, I do my best to protect my heart while living a life of generosity. At this stage of life, however, I am beginning to wonder if I may have offered just a little too much.

I am broken.

As much as I would LOVE to tell you I’ve overcome my co-dependent tendencies, honesty mandates that I confess a sincere case of the “what if’s.” You know, what if I tried just a little harder? What if I just work on my communication? Certainly it’s my fault – what if I give up now and breakthrough was just around the corner…?

As much as generosity flows through my veins, I am beginning to discern that there may be some people in this world for whom there just isn’t enough. That it’s not so much that I am not enough, but that the chasm they function with could not be filled by the entire world.

They are broken.

There are some amazing people in my life. They are full of grace. Love. Forgiveness. Complete acceptance. They know my heart and are quick to forgive even before I apologize for my mess ups. There are those who love me for who I am. Are grateful for my time. Who appreciate what we each bring to the table. Such friends require so little while others expect more than I can give and that’s not even enough.

I love them so much. There are no words. But it may just be that nothing I can offer would ever be enough, and I might completely lose myself in the effort to maintain the impossible.

Maybe when I stop chasing those who do not want to be loved, I might just learn to love myself…