July 13, 2016

habit of awareness, part 1-4

In an effort to "listen to my life" in this season of discernment, I want to build a habit of awareness. To process parts of my journey, I am naming some of the pieces of my life that have shaped my heart and spirit. 

With this awareness, I hope to find a way forward into what my heart's desire is -- so that I can pursue what's next with confidence that I was prepared for it. 

PART 1 -- Pain

I am 10 years into my journey of daily physical pain. I've learned in those years that pain dulls other experiences. It steals clarity, drains energy and takes up attention. It depresses and suppresses the good things. It highlights the bad; it embitters. 

I dislike having this weakness. Actually, I hate it. Its enduring presence has taught me to be less hopeful. It has, at times, made me angry. It has taught me to ball up my hands into fists, and fear when I could trust. 

I have often felt as if I am acting from only a fraction of myself, while some other parts are taken up in the grind of navigating pain. 

PART 2 -- Reconciliation

Pain comes in many forms and through some of my experiences of lost relationship, I have felt unspeakable sadness. I grieve it -- the loss of safety and shared experience amongst friends. This is the painful to me, it feels fragmented and broken. I know some might say -- "ease up! people move on! get a little tougher." But I think I will always grieve it. I want the channels between me and others to be clear. I don't like barriers. I think this comes from leaving and starting again a few times in my life -- I like knowing there is a chance of moving forward together and taking care of each other. We belong to each other. 

I have a deep desire for reconciliation and wholeness in relationship. This to me feels like an unquenchable, leaving-the-door-open hope. Losing friends or broken relationships are to me an earthly picture of second best. Best case scenario is harmony and peace between everyone. It was never meant to be this way. 

PART 3 -- Love

My life has been filled to over-flowing with messy, real, running-over love. With a healthy bedrock of patient, intentional, intergenerational, deep-and-wide family love, I have learned good habits of trust and truth in love. My family members are among some of my greatest love-gifts I have and have the protect-each-other and build-together types of loving hearts. I also have a beautiful smattering of belly-laughing, sisterhood and brother-like friendships that ground me and teach me about love in its many forms. I have been blessed with the kind of love that draws you home and keeps you safe in my husband, Jordan, whom I call 'Love'. Daily, he shows me reckless-abandon, committed love that strengthens me and primes each day with peace in knowing I am always loved. Finally, I have a jealous King, resurrected Saviour, and kind Lord who has shown me such love and sacrifice in Jesus and through His generous grace towards me. 

I am abundantly blessed. I know deep love and feel secure in it. 

PART 4 -- Rest

I don't rest well. 

(On that note, I'm taking a break from writing. Will be back with more 'parts' soon.)

February 8, 2016

i'm doin' me

"Let each person lead the life that the LORD has assigned to Him." -- 1 Corinthians 7:17

In the past few months I've been thinking about what is assigned for me to do. As some of you know, I had the privilege of working with some of my favourite people in the world over the past couple years. In the fall, I stepped away from my role working with youth who have been removed from home and are trying to find themselves, who have found themselves before a court of law. 

I learned so much with them and from them. Working with them was truly a privilege. 

Even though I no longer work with those youth, with the distance of a bit of time I am trying to have a look at what I learned over the time I worked where I felt the most useful in my whole life. Will I return to working with them? Where am I "assigned" to offer my best/all/gifts? 

My experiences with these youth was equal parts a joy and a real challenge, since the youth needed so much more than I could ever find in myself to give them. They needed home. They needed hope. As I wrapped up my cases to hand them off to the next worker who would be taking over my 'cases', I was discouraged. I felt that my efforts had been insufficient, my energy was depleted, and mostly, I was pretty heart-broken. Stepping away was necessary for many reasons at the time, and God provided me a great job to be able to pursue further education

As I am back in school and working part-time, I am looking at a few things that have cropped up in the last few years of work/heart life that I am working on sorting out in what feels like a pivotal year for my 'next steps'. 

-- figure out who you are working [so hard] for. the truth is that your best will sometimes not change anything about the circumstances of someone you are trying to 'help', and sometimes working hard it will only make people like you less. in other words: people are going to disappoint you, set your sights on a steadier footing. a great book I'm reading currently is "Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership" by Ruth Haley Barton - and that has been a gift. 

-- where's the balance? yes, the work/life one. when work is knowing the unspeakable has happened, that people are aching, that their joy is gone, and life is happening all around in my own experience. how do i engage with friends at dinner, enjoy community spaces, and live as a whole person whose experiences have intersected with the great pain of others.

-- what's the game plan? should my heart be on the defensive or offensive? I am very sensitive -- I feel things very deeply. this could be seen as an asset or a liability in my line of work. do i go the way of the traditional, veteran social worker (no offence to anyone, just have been privy to some stereotypically sad cases) -- with calluses and wounds of years in the business, or do i stay soft, and feel the waves of pain as they come along within the stories and injustices and brokenness around?(even if it levels me?)

-- acknowledge and embrace brokenness. one day about 8 months ago I sat with my Spiritual Director after one of the youth i had worked closely with was stabbed and sobbed. she asked if i thought I should consider not doing the work I was doing. maybe, she said, i wasn't made for this. maybe my heart was too sensitive. but maybe, too, i was made for this, and my brokenness was a gift that helped me better understand God's heart and hurts when it comes to the stories that were so grieving me. 

Jordan and I often sing a line of a song to eachother these days-- "don't be mad 'cause I'm doin' me better than you doin' you". but, really, that's sometimes the hardest part, though, isn't it? figuring out what doin' you really requires. 

From the looks of it, I've got my work cut out for me :)