I use to have a mask that kept me hidden from the world. It was a mask of smiles and saying everything is fine. Yet it was a lie that I told others and myself. I told myself for so long I believed it. I would not let myself feel the “bad” feelings. The feelings were stuffed so deep, I did not realize they were there. I would not let myself cry unless it was for a storybook character or fictional tv character. I was so much like Spock on Star Trek pretending I did not have emotions.
Then I found I could not hide from myself anymore. I would blow up in anger at the littlest things my husband did. I would cry for no apparent reason at times. I was hurting deep and had never expressed it to anyone.
I started attending Celebrate Recovery six/seven… maybe more years ago. I started to learn to explore what was going on inside me. I started counseling with a pastor. I started learning that feelings were just feelings, not good or bad. I had to learn to give myself permission to feel all my feelings. I had to learn to cry and grieve. I let God and a few trusted others know the real me, deep inside. I let them see my tears.
“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are messengers of overwhelming grief…and unspeakable love.” Washington Irving
In learning to grieve and cry for my hurts of my past, I learned to love more deeply God and those around me.
“Emotions are the colors of the soul; they are spectacular and incredible. When you don’t feel, the world becomes dull and colorless.” ~ The Shack by William P. Young
I connected with others who were hurting just like me. I connected with others who just needed someone to listen to them. In doing so they were God’s grace and love to me. They showed me hope and love when I saw none.
“When we open up to friendship, we free our hearts to connect with Christ. We are saying, I see beauty, to the other.” Bonnie Gray – Faith Barista
Feel all your feelings. Trust others with who you are deep inside. Give yourself permission to love and grieve. Give yourself over to God and see what he does inside you.
I still struggle with many issues happening in my life. Yet looking back and seeing what God has done gives me hope to keep on going and trusting in the hope God gives.
Joining others at the jam session:
A journey I am walking during this Thanksgiving season…
Thanksgiving is all about being thankful and gratitude. I am thankful for all the different things that were taught to me through their lives and examples. I am thankful for my new job, working in the bakery at Walmart because it has provided me with steady income. I am thankful for the new people I have met and new skills I am learning.
I am learning to be thankful for even the hard things that have happened in our lives. Matt’s health issues and my job loss for the last several years have been trying on us, physically, emotionally and financially. I have seen God provide for us time and time again, even when sometimes we have no answers from the medical field. I am thankful for the tests that have come back with good results, even though it means we still have no answers. I have also had many dear friends move away the last couple of years who were my confidants and help. I would not wish any other life than the paths they chose for themselves, but it doesn’t make the heartache any less when I miss them and different times. I am thankful for the time we did spend together crying and laughing.
Yet even with all these things to be thankful, I have struggled with my depression and anxiety this season. I have changed my medicine and am finding new friends to share my heart with. I am continuing to learn to break through my own walls and share my heart with others as I struggle.
What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving season?
Joining others over at Faith Barista for the jam fest.
Tonight I shared my story, again at Delta (my twelve step group) up in front of EVERYONE. It wasn’t the first time and it won’t be the last.
My fear is still there. It is something I don’t like to do, getting up and sharing my heart in front of a crowd of people. It is hard enough sometimes one on one sharing my heart.
I am doing it though. When I first started in my Celebrate Recovery Group, I wouldn’t share at all. I would just pass and let others speak.
Looking back five/six/seven… I have lost track of when I started going now. I see how much of myself has changed, yet I am still the same person who really just wants to run and hide. I don’t want to share what is going on deep inside. I want darkness to envelope me and hide me from everyone. Yet in the darkness, Jesus shines that much brighter. Psalm 139 says that even darkness won’t hide me from God because He is there. Going into the darkness and through the fear of sharing my heart is the only way to get to the sun.
The quickest way for anyone to reach the sun and the light of day is not to run west, chasing after the setting sun, but to head east, plunging into the darkness until one come to the sunrise. I discovered in that moment that I had the power to choose the direction my life would head, even if the only choice open to me, at least initially, was either to run from the loss or to face it as best as I cold. Since I knew that darkness was inevitable and unavoidable, I decided from that point on to walk into the darkness rather than try to outrun it, to let my experience of loss take me on a journey wherever it would lead, and to allow myself to be transformed by my suffering rather than to think I could somehow avoid it. I chose to turn toward the pain, however falteringly, and yield to the loss, though I had no idea at the time what it would mean.” Jerry Sittser — A Grace Disquised
Sharing my heart is the best way to remain heading to the sun and through the darkness.
I have had several dear friends move away, as much as I miss them and ache to talk to them in person or just see them at church, I know they are following the path God has them walking and following their own dreams.
But it doesn’t make the heart ache for me missing them go away. I have things I do to treasure them in my heart. One way is writing here and saying how much I miss them and wish them well. Another way is to look at pictures and remind myself of laughter and smiles and tears we had together. Remembering the last hug I gave each of them, helps me get through the day sometimes when I really wish they were here.
Last night, it was my turn to lead Delta, and I could not help but miss one of the dear friends who use to facilitate our recovery group with us. I admit part of me wanted him there so I would not have to lead up in front of the group, but really I just wanted that smile and hi from him. But continuing on with Delta and sharing my heart is just another way to honor him and share my own heart.
Another way is to keep an eye on Facebook and keep in contact my friends that way. I have see pictures of Hawaii and Colorado from their perspectives. I see the joy they are having and some of the heart aches. I admit late night phone calls with one friend in Hawaii just made my night.
These friends have found a place in my heart through the grace and love they showed me. They have been real with the their own struggles, which helped me to learn to be real and not hide behind a mask. They have shown me God.
The truth is I may not see them again in person (although I hope I do). I will see them again because they are Grace Friends, who have shown me God in their heart and actions. Grace Friends will see each other again in heaven someday.
Lisa over at Lisa Notes had some amazing insight today that touched my heart. Her post was on encountering others and how God is growing and teaching her to be less self-centered and more other centered. She ends with two questions: “What hinders you from encountering others more often?” and “What helps you overcome the obstacles?”
What hinders you from encountering others more often?
Myself — Hiding inside my own skin and mind and not sharing my heart with others. I have been hiding lots lately, especially since I have had a hurting heart. When I get hurt, I get afraid and I shut down. I have been trying to overcome this again. It seems I deal with this constantly.
Time — so much going on I am just so busy that I am overwhelmed. I think just taking time to sit and be still and take care of myself is the start of not being overwhelmed.
What helps you overcome the obstacles?
The only thing I know to do is just share my heart……. and today is one of the first days I have done that in a long long time. Thank you Lisa, I needed this reminder. I am trying to get into my writing again and sharing at least with God in my journal but it has been so hard to even do that. So I am attempting to get outside of myself and write for the first time in a long time on my blog again.
Go visit Lisa’s Blog. It is an encouraging blog. Click the link above and it will take you to her site.
I ran into the director who fired me last year and accused me of child abuse. I was picking up snacks for our recovery group last night. She pulled up in the grocery line behind met and had that fake smile and fake hi how are you? I had seen her in the store and had rushed to check out since I was done shopping, so I would not have to face her. I just answered fine and went back to what I was doing and left. I refused to do small talk and fake that we were friends.
God’s timing was good. I left there in such turmoil inside. I still feel the shame that comes from just being accused and fired from teaching daycare/preschool, even though none of it was my doing and false. And just anger. I wanted to punch her, cuss her out and all sorts of in appropriate things came to mind. God has shown me how I am innocent, not just of this which is untrue, but how I am innocent of what I have done wrong and sinned and should be called out on because he took it on the cross for ME. Yet those feelings still came up.
I went to Delta my recovery group which is a safe place for me. My friend and pastor was there. I was able to share with him first, then later in small group. His lesson had a poem on anger last night and walls and letting anger turn to bitterness. I don’t have walls up, I am talking and sharing but it still there. I am talking to God about how I don’t want to forgive and don’t feel like I can forgive and to help me forgive and forgive through me because I don’t know how. I am feeling my feelings.
BUT 6 years ago when I first came to recovery group and then later started counseling, I would not even feel my feelings, they were stuffed so deep and walls were so high. I was angry, hurting and bitter then. I had it inside me so deep, I did not even see it was there. Yet it was seeping out of me. Snide remarks, judgemental attitude, know it all, and blow ups toward people. While I do still slide back into these things sometimes (I really do….), I see how far I have come, but that I have a ways to go still. I am working the twelve steps, I am talking with God and others about what is inside me. I am continuing to break through the walls I put up around myself.
My Easter was spent at work, in the fitting room at Walmart. It was a good day, just busy working. It was my first Easter that I had not been to church to celebrate what Jesus did for me on the cross and with the resurrection. I took some Easter candy and passed it out to people and wished them a Happy Easter. My personal Easter celebration actually came on the Thursday before Easter.
My friend and Pastor got a group of us together and we read through the whole book of John from start to finish. He had one person per chapter randomly scheduled to read and we read from the Message version. He has done this several years now and it was amazing.
My prayer for myself had been for several week prior to this event, Lord help me see myself through your eyes. Please help my mind and my heart match up and see myself the way you see me. I had been struggling with my own sins and view of myself. My chapter was chapter 17 of John.
The Message (MSG)
Jesus’ Prayer for His Followers
17 1-5 “Jesus said these things. Then, raising his eyes in prayer, he said:
Father, it’s time.
Display the bright splendor of your Son
So the Son in turn may show your bright splendor.
You put him in charge of everything human
So he might give real and eternal life to all in his charge.
And this is the real and eternal life:
That they know you,
The one and only true God,
And Jesus Christ, whom you sent.
I glorified you on earth
By completing down to the last detail
What you assigned me to do.
And now, Father, glorify me with your very own splendor,
The very splendor I had in your presence
Before there was a world.
6-12 I spelled out your character in detail
To the men and women you gave me.
They were yours in the first place;
Then you gave them to me,
And they have now done what you said.
They know now, beyond the shadow of a doubt,
That everything you gave me is firsthand from you,
For the message you gave me, I gave them;
And they took it, and were convinced
That I came from you.
They believed that you sent me.
I pray for them.
I’m not praying for the God-rejecting world
But for those you gave me,
For they are yours by right.
Everything mine is yours, and yours mine,
And my life is on display in them.
For I’m no longer going to be visible in the world;
They’ll continue in the world
While I return to you.
Holy Father, guard them as they pursue this life
That you conferred as a gift through me,
So they can be one heart and mind
As we are one heart and mind.
As long as I was with them, I guarded them
In the pursuit of the life you gave through me;
I even posted a night watch.
And not one of them got away,
Except for the rebel bent on destruction
(the exception that proved the rule of Scripture).
13-19 Now I’m returning to you.
I’m saying these things in the world’s hearing
So my people can experience
My joy completed in them.
I gave them your word;
The godless world hated them because of it,
Because they didn’t join the world’s ways,
Just as I didn’t join the world’s ways.
I’m not asking that you take them out of the world
But that you guard them from the Evil One.
They are no more defined by the world
Than I am defined by the world.
Make them holy—consecrated—with the truth;
Your word is consecrating truth.
In the same way that you gave me a mission in the world,
I give them a mission in the world.
I’m consecrating myself for their sakes
So they’ll be truth-consecrated in their mission.
20-23 I’m praying not only for them
But also for those who will believe in me
Because of them and their witness about me.
The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind—
Just as you, Father, are in me and I in you,
So they might be one heart and mind with us.
Then the world might believe that you, in fact, sent me.
The same glory you gave me, I gave them,
So they’ll be as unified and together as we are—
I in them and you in me.
Then they’ll be mature in this oneness,
And give the godless world evidence
That you’ve sent me and loved them
In the same way you’ve loved me.
24-26 Father, I want those you gave me
To be with me, right where I am,
So they can see my glory, the splendor you gave me,
Having loved me
Long before there ever was a world.
Righteous Father, the world has never known you,
But I have known you, and these disciples know
That you sent me on this mission.
I have made your very being known to them—
Who you are and what you do—
And continue to make it known,
So that your love for me
Might be in them
Exactly as I am in them.”
Tears formed as I read the first part realizing this was Jesus praying for me over two thousand years ago. He was praying the same prayer of having the same heart and mind as God, to see myself and others through HIS heart and mind. It was all I could do to read aloud to everyone present. I went back to my seat after reading and just cried and cried. Realizing that Jesus and I had been praying the same prayer for me. The Holy Spirit guided my prayers to be like Jesus. Wanting to know deep in my soul how HE sees me is my own prayer.
How did you celebrate Easter? How has God spoken to your soul?
My friend Krista over at Reviving Identity is featuring a different women each day during women’s history month (March). My husband wrote this piece about me. Hope you all enjoy it as much as I did reading it.