Walk Lighter

I am a detail person, which at times gives me greater delight than those who just don’t seem to notice things.

I marvel at the sky, the trees, the moon.  I notice things people say and I can hear hearts.  I see God at work and answers to prayer, even in the midst of darkness.  I have deep gratitude, even simultaneously when despair comes in like a wave to knock me down.

But all of this detail, at times, can be exhausting.  It is hard for me to step back, let go, and detach.  My mind can race, my worries can linger, and my heart can be unsettled just longing for calm.

I love a phrase I ran into in my studies that gave some shape to the idea of detachment.  It said to let go of the agony.  How true it is, that I carry that weight, despite how much more difficult I make it for myself.  That load, that burden or pressure, that entangled mess I try to figure out.  Let it float.  Walk lighter.

I’m learning to invest and choose how to spend the moments in my day.  Let go of the things I don’t really need.  Appreciate the graces that bring warmth in the middle of a rough week.  Treat myself more gently.  Nurture my heart.

In that freedom of a lighter heart, I can be more refreshed in the present moment.  Less burdened for things that don’t really need my focus and concern right now.  I’m more able to ask myself, what is mine to do?  What do I need in this moment?

Serenity.  Simplicity.  Walk lighter.

Love Reaches In

Clear across the world to a now familiar place, a second home.  It is the birth place of my youngest daughter.  It has been my privilege to return to her native land and serve in the orphanages there.

On this particular trip several years ago, I was asked by an adoptive mom to get an update on how her daughter was doing.  She was eagerly waiting for travel dates to come get her and bring her home.

Her sweet Chinese name was Dong Dong, and when said with a Chinese accent, my heart was instantly warmed.

I had grown accustomed to this orphanage from our previous visit.  I had even served in several other orphanages in several other countries.  But something about Dong Dong seemed unusual to me.  I was drawn in.

She was facing the wall, standing stiff.  When she moved around the room, her feet shifted across the floor rigidly.  If anyone came near her, she screamed in fear.  We were told she was afraid of strangers. We honored her space and gave her time to adjust to our visit.

I was in the outer corridor, taking a picture of a team member walking with one of the children.  I stepped backward to get a better angle, and didn’t realize that Dong Dong had followed me.  She bumped to the ground and I scooped her up in my arms in an instant.  I held her close to me, still stiff as a board, and soothed her with prayers and singing.

Together we walked those outer corridors.  As I held her in my arms, I told her about her mama coming to get her.  I told her about her two older sisters and how she would be loved in a family soon.  I trusted that the bond we were creating transcended the language barrier and her seemingly frozen state.

Love can do that.  Love can reach where no one has dared to go.  Love can melt what had no hope to soften.  Love can heal the orphaned soul.

No one wants to be frozen.  Some build walls to try to protect our hearts, afraid of more pain if someone comes near.  Some ball up, withdraw, and stay back — not because we want to, but because somewhere and somehow over the years we learned to cope.

Hidden, stiff behind walls, we wonder.  Would it ever be safe to be found?  To be heard, seen, known?  Or is that far too risky?

Deep down we wonder if there is a warmth and a welcome that can embrace our hurting.  But who dares reach?

Come near.  No longer isolated, rejected, outcast, and alone.  There is hope.  There is healing.  Life doesn’t have to be filled with walls and pain.  Love reaches in.

Dong Dong is home, surrounded in a forever family full of love.  She is transformed by the warmth of a healing embrace.  A commitment to nurture her heart and soul so that she can thrive.  Glorious adoption.

The door is open.  The opportunity is there.  Hearts can be healed.  Orphans can come home.

 

 

Colliding Priorities

I’m surrounded by kleenex, hot tea, blankets and books.  If I felt well, it could be a refreshing retreat to soak in some studies.  Instead I’m trudging my way through a week of not feeling well, day after day.  You can only have so much echinecea, airborne, tea and tissues before you start to feel fed up with dragging.

 

I’m sick of being sick, without the energy to keep walking and keep growing.  My body won’t let me do what my hearts want to do.

My old self by nature pushes hard and cannot slow down.  My old self wants productivity, drive, determination, order.  It is my inner critic that says I need to do more and be more.

It’s as if an invisible clip board hangs over my shoulder, reminding me of the tasks at hand that I seem to have no strength to do anything about.

What I wouldn’t do to have taxes done, filing sorted, and things crossed off my lists.  And here I am — I can’t.

I’ve been learning I can’t push so hard.  I’ve been learning humanity and limits.  I’ve been digging deep into nurture and self care.  Isn’t it ironic that I’m now in a week of testing to see if I get it???

Julie, do you understand grace?  Are you good to yourself?

I have done a tremendous amount of work to understand what recovery looks like for me.  It is a whole new world to factor in my own needs and feelings.  It is brand new for me to accept and live into my humanity without always pushing myself for more.

So on weeks like this one, where my body feels heavy in need, I see these two inner worlds collide.  My old self pleads to please find productivity (translate: WORTH) somewhere.  I need to DO something.  Other people are done with their taxes, after all.  Why can’t I?  I don’t want unfinished things weighing me down.

I am self critical and self defeating.  I fret over time and my lack of accomplishment. I want to feel better, and do more, and still be nurturing to my needs.  I wish I could have both.

I want  to give more of myself to my children.  I want to work hard in my home.  And I have nothing right now to give.  The whole week has had such limited functioning.

I’m grateful for this post.  It is bringing my honesty and conflict to the table.  It’s showing me my colliding priorities and how I want my new self to rise.  It’s a test that I want to come forth with new outcomes.

The same temptations persist.  Can I push more, do more, be more — but ultimately hurt myself?   Or can I accept that things have to wait?  To live with my own sense of disappointment that not everything can get done when I want it to.  It’s uncomfortable growth.  But I’m hopeful that in the midst of this messy lesson, I’m starting to get it.  It’s starting to sink in.

Tender Mercies

I’m just coming through a difficult week.  Things of the heart that were hitting me, one after the other, repeatedly.

I’m grateful for the tender mercies that soothe a hurting heart.  God is tenderhearted with our pain.  He is compassionate with our suffering.  He is comforting with our weariness.

I’m grateful for the tool box of things I’m learning from recovery.  Things in my healing that keep me taking the next step, paying attention to what I’m feeling and what I need.

I’m learning to nurture myself and my children well.  Life is harsh enough.  We need a safe refuge, a place to come home to, embraced with warmth and welcome.

Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down….

God knows our hearts and God understands our healing needs. God understands the good that is waiting around the corner for us, the good that we can’t see yet…

Later…I see the wisdom. I see the big plan, the one not limited by my vision. Then I thank God, truly thank God for the way things worked out. Often I thank God for not letting things work out the way I wanted. We do not know the whole picture, not yet.

Soothed by healing.  Inspired by growth. Refreshed by gratitude.