| || |
Yesterday. And the day before.
Two days chock-full of some pretty intense emotions... good & bad. Much heartache and crying, many cleansing words, and in the end quite a bit of healing.
I'm exhausted. I slept about 12 hours last night & am sitting here barely able to keep my eyes open. But despite the heaviness of my eyes and all that emotion, there's a lightness about me. A lightness that has not been felt in quite some time.
And today I praise God for that lightness because He has indeed "turned my wailing into dancing" and has "clothed me with joy."
This lightness is a direct result of talking to my father. Finally.
13 years in the making and God blessed that conversation beyond all expectation.
Now that it's over I'm tempted to dwell on the reasons it took me so long to get here. I'm tempted to kick myself for being so stubborn and for not gaining the courage to speak sooner.
Then I hear God say "Grace, my dear daughter. Remember GRACE. I have extended grace to you, to your father, and you must now extend it to yourself. My timing is perfect. My plan is divine. It took you this long because you needed to be in the right place to forgive and to move on. The waiting was not in vain."
Oh how I take comfort in those words.
And how I want to dance with joy today as 13 years of pain, hurt, fear, and remorse have been lifted off my shoulders to reveal a closeness to my earthly father and to my Heavenly Father that I have sought for so long.
It has arrived. And I am blessed.
"You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy."
| || |
I'm so not that girl who just posts a picture and leaves it a that... I gotta include some words.
So when I stumbled upon Rachel's adorable site
, I got super excited! Wordless Wednesday but with words! Squeee!!
So here it is...
Summer has arrived & I am so elated. No more "June Gloom" or marine layer to cramp my style... I wake up in the morning with the sun shining through my window & have the urge to go jump in the canal. I don't do it, but I'm always tempted. I did stick my feet in today & the water was still a bit too chilly for my liking. I'm going to have to suck it up soon though because CJ
and I are going to begin swimming in the bay
to help her prep for her Half-Tri (she's such an over-achiever!). BRRRR!! Nonetheless I'm excited for Summer, for my favorite holiday 4th of July, for my first paddle boarding experience, and for all the other goodness this season will bring! Happy Summer y'all!
This topic has come up time & time again and although I've written on it before
I thought I'd touch on it again. I wrote an article about this (almost 2 years ago now!) for Hope Magazine for Women... the overall response was mixed, but my conviction has never wavered.
I've begun to think about offering Christ-centered yoga at my church because let's face it, there's a lot of stressed out peeps there!
My heart is to offer a class at a discounted price as a service to those who work so incredibly hard in ministry. I often times think people don't really understand how immensely taxing ministry work can be. Those who work in ministry (whether paid or volunteer, part-time or full-time) daily empty themselves for the sake of others, for the sake of God's Kingdom. And often times this emptying comes at a great cost to themselves and without much recognition. So many of my friends in ministry struggle with balancing work & self-care, and I can absolutely relate.
This struggle with balance & the lack of self-care was how my own yoga journey began...
Many years ago I was finishing college, immersed in 2 jobs, and on the verge of pulling my hair out... this was when Yoga became an incredibly significant part of my life. Following graduation, I decided to take a yoga teacher training, not with the intention of teaching per se, but with the intention of reconnecting with myself. I had no idea what a challenge this teacher training would be physically & spiritually, but it was. Oh, it was. Never, had I been so stretched (pun intended) or so spiritually torn.
At the sake of saving you the time it will take to read about my crazy journey through yoga teacher training (you can read all about it here
), I'll just say that it was quite intense. I had moments of complete enlightenment where I felt so incredibly connected to God and myself. But I also had moments of fear and of doubt... moments where I nearly walked away. These fearful & doubtful moments were mostly rooted in the Hindu beliefs that yoga is founded upon.In all honesty, they scared me. A lot.
And sometimes they still do.
But, the many positives that I received, far outweighed that slight fear of Hinduism. I knew my faith was strong and my own spirit was clearly sensitive... this became evident as I burst into tears during our "Chanting/Mantra" module. I wasn't comfortable chanting "Hare Rama" or "Hare Krishna" because I don't lift my voice in praise to anyone other than Jesus Christ.
The love and understanding I received from my instructors allowed me to continue moving forward in my journey and I am so glad that I did. They taught me to take what serves me, what honors God & to leave the rest behind.So here's how MY yoga honors God & myself and how MY yoga aligns with the teachings of Christ:
which means "Non-Violence"... not only in action, but in thought and speech. And not only to others but also to yourself. Hello?! Ring a bell? "Love your neighbor as yourself." Throughout the course of His teaching, Jesus repeatedly emphasized the need to forgive, to turn the other cheek and to refrain from anger.
He exhorted people to love their enemies and to do good to everyone who hated them. This principle of non-violence was the beginning of my understanding of grace, especially when it came to negative self-talk.
or "Truth." Again in action, word, & thought... and to yourself as well as others. “You shall not bear false witness.” The little white lies are the ones that can always be justified, right? Not according to Christ. Being truthful in all things is of paramount importance to living a life in alignment with God's will. I dove deeper into this as I learned how to be true to myself
instead of being co-dependent in nature... being able to say "No" as a way to honor my boundaries and my time was a huge step forward.
or "Not Stealing" - I have everything I need right here, right now. God will provide all that I need. I do not “own” anything…not even my body and every possession is a gift from God held in trust. Everything belongs to and comes from God. Waste in all its form – energy, water, excessive material consumption – is also theft at the expense of the rest of the world’s inhabitants. This also goes hand in hand with “You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods.” This is a lesson I'm still learning... relying on Him to provide all that I NEED, not all that I want. Preach.
or "Moderation" specifically when it comes to sexuality. Honoring and respecting oneself and to see the body & sex as sacred. This principle is about expressing love from the heart, honoring the gift of sex as God created it to be, and cherishing it.
If you're a frequent reader of my blog, then you know my story & my struggle with sex... this one rings true above all.
or "Non-Attachment"... letting go and accepting that change is constant and that everything is temporary. I am a temporary inhabitant of earth and when I go to Heaven I cannot take anything with me.
A culture that rewards profit at all cost and accords status based on the accumulation of material things without need is a culture based on hoarding. Aparigraha encourages voluntary simplicity and a modest lifestyle. Yep, still working on this one!
So you see... yogic teaching and Christianity are quite compatible. It's all about perspective.
And my perspective is that Christ changed my life, but so did yoga. I believe that Christ used my yoga teacher training as a way to extend compassion towards myself & my body, as a way to quiet my spirit and see the world around me, and as a way to open my heart to the beauty that comes with unity of mind, body, and spirit. Not to mention, it introduced me to my career!
There's so much more to my experience that I will share soon, but I'd love to hear from you...
What are your thoughts on Yoga & Christianity?
Have you ever had any conflicts?
Do you see compatibility between yoga & Christianity? Or do you still struggle?
When I started this blog I was pretty determined to "live out loud" in this space. I wanted this blog to be therapeutic, not only for myself, but for others. I wanted it to be a running commentary on my life and my journey. From this screen I wanted to embody authenticity, vulnerability, and honesty.
And I feel that I have accomplished that.
I'm proud of my blog. I'm amazed at the words that flow freely from my heart onto this screen. And I find such peace in coming to this space and just writing.
But others have not necessarily seen it this way. This saddens me.
Some have chalked me up to being narcissistic and wanting everyone to know EVERYTHING about my life.
Others are unhappy with how up front I am about certain taboo topics.
And still others are taking personal offense to the words that I write here.
The words that come forth are not always of my own making, but they are of my own experience. If you find therapy, encouragement, support, strength, or anything else in my words, I am glad. That means that you relate and that you see a part of yourself in my journey. That is what this is about.
Let me be clear though... this blog is not about you. It is about me. If no one were to ever read this blog again, I would still write and I would still grow because of it.
I share my story, my journey, and my experience so that I may fully express the gratitude I have for living this crazy life.
I share my story so that one day I can look back and see how far God has brought me.
I share my story so that you or you or you, may find hope & healing in these words, in my experience.
I don't share it to be voyeuristic. I don't share it to seek attention. I don't share it to rub things in your face. Those reactions are more about what's going on inside of you, then what's happening in my world.
There is therapy here. Intense, life-changing therapy that I receive by doing this. And this is one of the only times in my week that I allow myself to be somewhat selfish without apologizing for it. This blog is my highest form of self-care and I'm so thankful for it.
So, please... react, receive, and reflect on the words that I write, but please don't attack me because of them.
This is my space. All mine.
There is a road in front of my that I don't want to take. That road is one of obedience, but also one that could mean more pain. The Spirit has been urging me to take this road for some time and I just keep resisting.
This urging, this road is the one that could potentially be the biggest catalyst to wholeness and healing in my life.
It is talking to my father about the wounds that were created by words that he said.
It is the scariest thing I can possibly think of doing at this point in my life. But God is pressing its urgency upon me and I realize that I won't be able to let go of this hurt, this wound until it happens.
A few days ago, my mom told me that my dad will be coming back to California for a bit to attend a funeral of a family member (my parents live in Montana about 7 months out of the year).
“Wait God, I though I had until October/November to get up the courage to speak to him in person! I thought I had more time!!”
Apparently the time is now... or at least a week or so from now.
My heart is beating as I type this out because I anticipate pain in this conversation, but more than that I anticipate relief. Relief that will come when I finally tell my father how much his words have hurt me. Relief that I will no longer try to avoid talking to my father about serious/emotional things out of fear of what his reaction will be. Relief that this will all be out in the open instead of ruminating around in my overactive mind.
This is the road that Jesus wants me to take right now. I'm scared shitless, but I know that it needs to happen and in His timing, not mine. He's making that abundantly clear.
Courage is what I seek now. Courage, strength, peace... and a grace-filled heart that will ultimately allow me to forgive my father, release him from this bitterness that I hold, and continue to move down this ever-lengthening, ever-surprising path of healing.
I just started reading Grace for the Good Girl by Emily P. Freeman and let me tell you, I'm only one chapter in and already being punched in the face by truth.
Why the heck didn't I read this book when it was first released?! I think some heartache, some fear, and some major anxiety could have been spared on my part if I had.
But I know that I'm reading it now because I was meant to read it now. Simple as that.
The truth in this book applies now more than ever because the past 6 months have been all about living the try hard life...
Trying to figure things out.
Trying to navigate what is “right.”
Trying to make people proud of me while still being true to me.
Trying to serve others before serving myself.
Trying to get over past hurts.
Trying to heal.
And in all this trying I've tricked myself into thinking that I must not be good enough or else things would be running more smoothly and God would be providing me with answers, with direction.
I must not be a good enough daughter.
I must not be a good enough doula/student midwife.
I must not be a good enough leader.
I must not be a good enough Christian.
It hurts my heart to read these “not good enough” statements. It hurts my heart to know that these false beliefs create such fear & shame inside of me that some days I don't even want to walk out of the door.
And while reading Chapter 1 of this amazing book, it clicked... for the past 6 months (and maybe longer) I have been motivated by crippling fear. My action or rather inaction is based entirely in fear, insecurity, and anxiety.
Fear of failure.
Fear of rejection.
Fear of judgment.
Fear of the unknown.
Fear of what others will think.
Fear. Fear. Fear.
This is not from God, for God did not give me a spirit of fear, but of power (2 Timothy 1:7).
Of Love. Of Courage. Of Strength. Of Joy.
As I examined my heart further I realized that while a few of these fears were rooted in deep insecurities that I've held on for far too long, the majority of them were rooted in outside sources, specifically people.
In a nut shell, I'm afraid of you.
Afraid that you'll criticize me based on my weight or appearance.
Afraid that you won't think highly of me and my life choices.
Afraid that you won't like me.
Afraid that for whatever reason you'll reject me or hurt me.
Afraid that I won't matter to you.
Afraid that you'll judge me because I call myself a Christian.
Afraid that I might let you down in the slightest possible way.
You probably have done nothing to deserve this (or maybe you have, who knows!). I know that this fear is mainly a product of the image-crazed, and judgment-happy society we live in. It's ingrained in us at an early age to want more, to be more, to do more.
Well I'm not buying into it. Not anymore. Not one bit.
So here it is folks... I'm not perfect. I never will be. I'll most likely disappoint you and myself at times... perhaps more than I'd prefer. I'll never be someone I'm not & I'll definitely resent you if you try to mold me into some impossible expectation.
I don't want to be at war with myself anymore. I don't want to try hard for you or even for me. I want to live in the full characteristics of Christ, to relish in them, and to walk with Him in peace and in joy. That won't come until I let go of the fear of letting you down. Yes, you.
All of you.
It'll be raw. It'll probably be unpleasant at times. But it will be real.
There will be moments of triumph, moments of failure, moments of foolishness, and moments of pain.
But it will be me... all of who God created me to be – nothing more, nothing less.
And if you can't handle it... tough cookies.
This morning I took a walk. Not a walk for cardio. Not a walk with a destination.
Just a walk.
I walked leisurely along the seashore with no concept of time, just listening to my music and looking down at my shoes.
Yup, looking down at my shoes while there's a gorgeous view of the Alamitos Bay just to my right, pelicans and herrons perched on buoys, and with the morning sun peaking through the cloud cover.
If anyone needed a head lifter today it was me.
It's no secret that this season has been a rough one. This past week was even rougher. And then yesterday the hammer came down. HARD.
“When is enough going to be enough God?!”
That was my heart's cry yesterday... and so today I chose to fast, to pray, to listen, and to reflect. I chose to inentionally quiet my heart and mind so that I would be ready when God decided to move powerfully. I know He's there and I know He's moving, but I think I've just been too distracted to hear Him or see Him. So, today was the day I needed it to happen.
And it did.
He got my attention. I'm not entirely sure how, but this morning on my seemingly purposeless walk I heard His still, small voice.
“Look up, child.”
As the breeze picked up and the sun shone down, He lifted my face to the sky... and it happened.
With eyes closed and chin lifted, a smile appeared on my face. For no reason, but in finding simple joy in that moment and finally feeling God's presence after a long absence. The moment was fleeting, but it was so incredibly needed.
It may not have been the power move I wanted, but He knew that it was just what I needed and in His sovereignty, His omnipotence, and His glory I take rest.
He is my Beloved, my Rumn Ro'sh, my Head Lifter and He is near. Selah.
"But you are a shield around me, O LORD; you bestow glory on me and lift up my head.
To the LORD I cry aloud, and he answers me from his holy hill. Selah.
I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the LORD sustains me." - Psalm 3:3-5
The lyrics of this song speak for themselves. This is the posture of my heart for this season of my life.
God, please give me a reason to sing once again.
"When I’m overcome by fear
And I hate everything I know
If this waiting lasts forever
I’m afraid I might let go
I'm afraid I might let go"