Cost Uncountable

(A Five Minute Friday Post)

Everything.

It cost everything.

Stepping into obedience the first time cost little in comparison. Yes I gave up time. A LOT of time. And I gave up freedom to do what I wanted when I wanted to but I gained so much in that same space. I gained a knowledge of the Holy Spirit. Of how he moves and works and gifts. I gained insight into missional work and what it means to give thing up in order to serve someone else. Even when that someone else is unknown to me. Unknown to many. Unseen and unloved.

It cost me innocence but gained wisdom and a deeper connection to Jesus. More time in prayer. More time in praise. More time just being.

The second step into obedience was not the same. The second stepping in was a stepping out. Stepping out of the life that had been built. Stepping out of the community I’d come to love. Stepping out of the routine our family had come to know.

Stepping into obedience the first time was joy, light, excitement and nervousness at moving beyond anything I’d done before but knowing Jesus was asking it, that he would equip me regardless the challenge.

Stepping into obedience the second time was pain, sorrow, mourning and reluctance at moving out of familiarity, joy and community. It was like my heart was forcibly ripped from my chest. Yet Jesus was asking this too, same as he had the first.

In my darkest times, I lament the cost. In the brighter moments, I know his cost was much, much higher. And I rejoice through the sorrow.

Settle

(A Five Minute Friday Post)

Why do I settle? Why do I put up with the crap, the pressure, the ignorance, all those things that people foist upon me? I settle for their indifference, for their distain, their inability to see truth or even acknowledge the presence of someone they don’t understand. I settle for this bad form of attention because at least it’s attention? Any attention is good attention I guess. And yet rarely was it even attention. A shrug a nod if I’m lucky. 

I settle for non-existent praise

I settle for misplaced affection

I settle for doing the best I can because it’s the best I can.

My presence there wasn’t for them. It wasn’t about settling for them it was about settling for me. For what I can do. For what God asked me to do. 

The father had very specific instructions for me. Settling for that truth was motivational. inspiring. About following, serving, living life to the fullest. Being who Jesus wanted me to be. Wants me to be. I settled for relationships that were convenient and tried to make them richer. Tried to make them what they needed to be for me but I settled for what they were. I SHOULD have made them what I needed them to be for me. My brain doesn’t work that way. It filters, processes, finds excuses for why others are how they are and how I can and should adapt rather than expect better, ask for better, create better. No more will I settle. No more will I settle for lack of thanks. For lack of acknowledgement for lack of tact or for the lack of gender. I no longer will change who I am for others to settle for what they expect but will push for what I expect. want. Need to thrive. It is my time. 

Lean Into It

There it is again. That ache. The pain. The reminder of loss, of things left behind. Of people, lives, relationships, goals, passions and dreams altered. Separated. Not because of physical loss but spiritual, emotional. One act of obedience that changes the path and leaves a portion of your heart on the side of the road.

It’s a pain that eventually fades. Changes. Mutates. Moves from grief to sorrow. The stabbing lessens to a dull ache, fades to a tender spot. The tender spot the enemy loves to poke with impeccable timing. Those moments when joy starts to shine through, when purpose is forming like an ethereal dream, that’s when he jabs his boney finger right into the most delicate space. That tender spot that awakens the sorrow, stirs the tears and squeezes the heart.

The poke, the pressure, that ache that rises and casts a grey pallor over everything, creating doubt shadows where each decision, each moment, comes with a backpack full of questions, doubts and second guesses.

2 Seconds of Bliss

It’s the fraction of a moment when you first wake up where things are full of potential. Look out a window, take a deep breath, yawn, stretch, sigh, maybe pray for a moment or simply be.

And then reality sweeps in. The crushing weight of … fear, loneliness, grief, hopelessness. Futility.

I remember a time when this wasn’t a challenge. When getting up in the morning just was. Work. Eat. Sleep. Repeat. And all was as it should be with the world. I never had cause to consider it would ever be another way.

When Lo came into the world it was evident that genetic anomalies were at play. And while it meant early intervention, visits to more “-ologists” than I knew existed and a future of therapies and support services, the most exhausting part was the evening when it was time for me to go to bed.

Going to sleep meant being one step closer to going through it all. Again. Another day of doctors, therapies, advocating, researching, plus the more joyful but tiring aspects of parenting – not to mention the fact that Lo is a second child so there was another child already running about needing to be cared for.

I began to dread the evening hours. That moment when the TV is turned off and everyone is ready for sleep. It wasn’t the lack of rest ahead or the emotional or financial cost that would cause the anxiety but the anticipation that for a moment, first thing when my eyes open, there would be moment of bliss. Of having forgotten. Of seeing the world as it once was and, for many, still is. It was knowing that the bliss would last for only a fraction of a moment before being squashed by reality while I watched.

Eventually we grew beyond this, Lo began to thrive. The critical issues taken care of, her limitations overcome and school life settled into. There came a time I never though would arrive – where I could actually forget she had a unique genetic condition. Now, 11 years in, we can go a long time without the name of the syndrome even coming to mind let alone be voiced.

Mornings became mornings. Evening was no longer torture waiting to happen. It’s amazing what you don’t notice is gone.

Until it comes back.

Grief is not linear

There is no straight line from loss to what we’ll call recovery. I’d like to say “all my life I thought…” but truth is, I never even thought about grief, about loss, about what it means for everyday, what that loss does to the light, to time, to joy, to the very act of breathing, getting up in the morning, going to bed at night, how things look, feel, sound, taste.

While I have lost family members, it never occurred to me that grief as a journey isn’t a straight line. The direct loss wasn’t mine. My heart ached for the spouses left behind. Still aches for them. But it wasn’t until an entirely different circumstance introduced me to grief directly that I began to see it for what it is.

Grief stripped me of all that I thought I knew. It ripped me to the core of my being. It flipped upside down everything I thought I knew about life and loss, living and dying.

In my current journey of loss, the most recent lesson is that it is not linear. One doesn’t simply and gradually “get over it” like walking up a gradual incline. There are days when getting out of bed is an achievement. When emptying the dishwasher counts as a productive day. And while I can look back on the months between impact and today and see how things have gotten less painful, how things have changed and, for lack of better words, gotten better, I then had an experience that put me so far back on the path to healed that I’m not sure the end exists. The proverbial “two steps forward three steps back”.

In this particular case, words spoken in support and hope created turmoil. They were intended to heal, to soften a moment of history yet had the unintended result of ripping open a carefully stitched wound. To be clear, I do not hold the source responsible for the outcome. My reaction is on me alone and I hold no malice, anger or disappointment.

The results though tell the state of my heart and stage of my journey. The imagery that comes to mind is that I had just climbed out of a deep chasm. Rocky walls, damp, rough, the only way out going up, through the pain. And, standing on the edge, finally out of the depths and face turned to the light and warmth, to then have words blindside me back over the edge back into the hole like a wrecking ball into the side of a building.

My choice, once again, to remain in the pit or work, inch by inch, memory by memory, hurt by hurt back up the edge. Jesus on belay, me searching for toe holds through the threat of tears.

Grief doesn’t travel a straight line. It weaves and ducks, it leads then follows, strangles then caresses. It sneaks up like a storm on a sunny day. The tiniest scent, a flash of memory, a habitual motion, phrase or task brings a sweeping wave wiping out all forward progress, sets back days, weeks, miles, back to the bottom of the pit.