Bless This Beautiful Mess

“Perfectionism is self-abuse of the highest order.”
― Anne Wilson Schaef

  This morning, as the sun sparkled through the dusty blinds, I felt the rawness of my very emotional week-end set into my bones. An awakening took place that I am still processing and new awareness feels good, but like new shoes, it needs time to form to your feet…or soul .

Upon sitting up, my eyes take note of the laundry hanging loose on the ironing board and the  over flowing basket of clean clothes under neath still waiting to be put away. Clothes are intermingled with decorative cushions on the window seat and corners of books and papers peak out at odd junctures. “Why do people eat in my room and leave dirty dishes behind?”  I say to myself, and then feel a lingering resentment compete with my contentment as I make my way to the door.

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The disarray continues in the hallway as I step over Dr. Suess books and barbies in tattered gowns and missing limbs, but played with none-the-less. My head turns toThe 5 year old’s room that was spotless for a moment last week, but now scattered with toys and clothes and bedding that no longer lives on the bed. Next, I know I am headed to the kitchen where dishes await my attention and the to-do list gathers speed and my chest tightens as my world seems too big to handle.

My feet stop me at the top of the stairs as I look out the dust streaked window into the tops of the trees and memories of first moving into to our home six years earlier remind me of how I disliked our scrawny, little maple tree out front. It seemed so awkward and bent compared to the rest on our street, but I had no clue how to change it so I just lived with it like I did the other ugly parts of myself.

I was uncomfortable with the uniqueness.

I wanted my home to be the same as all the other perfect homes.

 Perfect yards and maple trees that stood tall and round and full set the standard.

I wanted perfect too…it felt safe.

This morning I notice how grand my ignored skinny tree  has become. It is full and round and rivals any of the others around. The branches reach towards the sky in a posture of worship in its fullness and it takes my breath away. I take a deep breath in as I realize how profound this moment is. I did not try and control the tree’s growth process and instead stepped out of it’s way and let nature do its thing.

Just like God does with me.

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Gratitude seeps in and I look back at the mess in my five year old’s room and I become curious about why the mess triggers anxiety in me. Yes, the job feels never ending , and the to-do lists seem daunting, and I can never seem to get ahead of the game, but there is something more. I have let the mess be a part of how I define myself and with every unexpected knock on the door or friend who drops in my fear of being discovered for the mess I am takes over.

Then it hits me…

This mess is actually the most honest thing about me.

It represents the truth of how I get distracted by other pursuits that fill my soul. How my house is full of life and children who create and explore and play and live with out constraint. It is a picture of how I am not perfect and quite frankly can’t always cope with the amount of work it takes to have the pinterest perfect home. The mess may define an aspect of my ability as a house keeper, but it does not define my worthiness as a  human being. The mess does not take away the fact that I am worthy of love and belonging and DOES NOT make me less than anyone else.

I feel another layer of perfectionism strip away  and begin to thank God for the power of honesty and I quietly ask Him to

Bless This Beautiful Mess and all who live in it”

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Between Two Moons

Something happened to me between two moons. Actually, it is an always happening more than a one time thing , but maturity is revealing the pattern to me. That’s right, this Metis girl can finally pull out the cliche “Many moons ago”….actually 48 first  spring full moons…and still counting.

I have been on a path of seeking personal growth and I want to grow and be amazing , you know, with out the growing pains.

With out the pruning.

With out the dying to self.

With out the cracking open.

I simply want to have this beautiful blossoming, but my suburbian self has forgotten the gardening process. It is embarrassing really. Six years in the suburbs with little , contrived 2 x 8 patches of earth to plant and I have lost touch with how to garden. Not an excuse I know, but I am blaming it on the crowded house effect that has me spending too much time in my minivan, shopping at big box stores and piling up packaging in my recycle bin.

I have lost touch.

I have lost perspective.

I have put my faith in something other than the gardener.

What do the two moons have to do with this? Well I could not really put my finger on it until yesterday, the first full moon of spring. I had been going through a very difficult time and had been praying and seeking and reading and writing and sorting through some tough things. I had prayed for God to remove some things in my life that keep me from living wholeheartedly. I had prayed for a deeper, more authentic  relationship with God and I simply wanted Him to reach in magically make it so.

Instead, He planted me in darkness and asked me to trust the process. Like a little seed in the deep, dark soil, I sat waiting not knowing if I would ever see the light again. The dark was scary for me and it felt completely out of control, which is EXACTLY where God wanted me to be.

Letting go of control

Leaning into the unknown

In complete surrender to the process 

I sat in darkness grieving, but completely unsure of what it was I was grieving. Does the rose bush know why its branches are being severed fruit, thorns and all?  Probably not and either did I , but some big things were being trimmed out and I had to trust the process. It was painful, this letting go of tired old branches that felt necessary.

Perfectionism

Retreating

Shrinking

Believing my voice did not matter

It all had to go in order for prayer to be answered, for me to grow new, more lovelier branches of myself AND I had to grieve. I had to lean into sadness which is so very contrary to my perfectionist ways and yet so completely necessary in order to fully experience my joy.

In between the harvest moon  of autumn and the first full moon of spring I experienced a letting go so that I could be replanted freshly in new, rich soil. My heart has had to be cracked open so the nutrient rich word could seep in and begin its sprouting. This first full moon of spring has drawn a renewal, a rebirth, a sprouting towards the warmth of the sun  and God answers prayer like how He grows all of creation. With new strength I push up out of darkness and soak up the gentle spring rain  and know that all is grace.

 

 

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The Point of Grace

“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”    Marie Curie

 

The Point of Grace

If you were given the chance to re- design your life story what would it look like? Would you be rich, poor, famous, tall, short, heroic, tragic, comfortable or an epic adventurer? Where would you live? Who would your parents be? How would the world receive you?

This is one of the very questions that has lead me to believe in God. You see, only He could have woven beauty in the mess of my upbringing. Because, in all honesty, If you or I would have been in charge of designing my life story, neither of us would have ever conceived the craziness , nastiness, or the absurdness of it all. It has actually been so bizarre at times that even I question if it was real or imagined.  The stories of hurt, abuse, neglect, abandonment, and even criminality are at times so extreme and haunting that it is stranger than fiction.

In light of all of it the story’s ending should have been  predictable. As a writer, even I would put a character that has gone through so much trauma directly into a padded room where she can rock back and forth in the fetal position and YET that is not my ending.

It is not even my middle.

Somehow through physical, mental, emotional, sexual, and spiritual abuse I am able to put one foot in front of the other and walk through life in an upright fashion. I am not with out scars mind you….but I am blessedly endowed with a resilience that can only be explained (in my mind) as grace.

What do I mean by grace?

Well…grace has meant many things to me and all the meanings are real and true to me.

In our culture we can see grace in a manner of something or someone who displays elegance. Grace Kelly, Princess Diana, Audrey Hepburn are some famous women who come to mind as pictures of this type of grace. This is not the kind of grace that would describe me or my life but it is a lovely variety of grace none-the -less.

There is also the grace that shows up as a prayer of thanksgiving usually around the dinner table.  Coming from the Latin Gratia  or gratitude and in a most humble fashion makes grace a verb.

In my instance grace has not been elegant or something anyone would naturally associate with gratitude. OH, on the contrary, The grace I am referring to has come at points in my life as a blessing (usually in disguise) and serves as a catalyst for change or opportunity.

For example….at 16 years old I had to escape the clutches of my physically abusive 20 something boy friend by army crawling through the neighbourhood hiding under vehicles desperately trying to be unseen. He had locked me in his bedroom of his mobile home (Cliche I know) and threatened to beat me if I made a sound. I somehow got loose and made a run for the door. He heard the screen door slam behind me and the scene quickly turned into predator chasing prey.

I remember the terror that ran through my veins as his corvette passed up and down the streets looking for me. It had been raining and the ground was muddy and wet soaking me to the bone. As the sound of his car grew distant I made a break for it and headed out of his trailer park avoiding the main road putting myself into a 6 foot deep irrigation ditch to get to the highway. The ditch was about 3 feet deep with water and the muddy bank kept giving way as I scrambled to climb up to the road. My hand finally reached a clump of weeds that somehow held my body weight and allowed me to pull myself up to the edge of the highway. My heart was beating out of my chest and I must have looked insane hitch hiking covered in mud. With the sound of the corvette still charging through the distance, I hopped into the first car that stopped.

This was a point of grace.

As I sat sobbing and vulnerable in this man’s car, he was kind enough to drive me 35 minutes to the house of my foster family. It was late and they rarely kept track of my coming and going so it was easy to slip in and out unnoticed. When I arrived home I went straight to my bedroom to undress and climb into bed. What I was not expecting was what happened next.

As I turned on the light I saw it right there on my bedroom mirror. Written in black eyeliner …

” YOU ARE A DEAD  LITTLE SLUT”

I stood frozen in that spot looking past my own reflection at the marked threat. The air hung heavy with traces of his smell still there. It could only have been a matter of seconds between him leaving and me arriving.

This one last intrusion scared me enough to break change. 

He had somehow, brazenly snuck into my foster home looking for me and in his spiteful way left me the message that would open the door to me telling someone….finally….about the abuse.

Again, no one…especially me….would ever think to bless someone with this kind of grace. However, this one intense point of grace…a crack that let enough light in…. gave me the courage to speak up. Some where, some how I was not letting him have control over me ANYMORE. and so I told my foster sister who then told her mother who then told someone who told him directly that we were all on to him. It was a small town so I still ran into him but, I had the strength to not be pulled back into his sick little world. You see….the moment I shined a light on the dirty little secret the shame of it lost its grip. Without shames hold on me I gained strength and grace seeped in.

That strength to me is grace.

This is the type of grace I am now understanding as being cut from the cloth of faith and in my instance identifies as the unmerited favour of God who bestowed a blessing upon me to bring me into relationship with Him so that I could see my worth. Yes, I had to go through an abusive relationship to eventually fully grasp grace.The dark CAN give shape to the light.

A life of faith building rarely looks neat and tidy and this is how I know it is of God, because if I wrote my story I would have chosen something that glorified me. I would have been rich, good looking, perfect family, neat and tidy life. My mother would not have been a prostitute addicted to heroin. My father would not have been the violent drunk that sometimes lived in the park all bloodied and sad begging for change from my friends as they waited for the bus. Christmases would have been spent around our big tree with smiles and love instead of at the penitentiary where we could visit both parents and a couple of other relatives too.

Yep….if I had been the author of my story it would have been a bit different.

Instead , God made me a mountain climber and gives me the strength to take each step from valley to peak and back again gaining a deeper perspective with each climb. Sometimes it feels like I am ill equipped, like climbing everest in flip flops, but that is just my fearful human perspective. When I take my eyes off my lack and instead focus on His greatness, I am able to climb to the top.

And when I practice the other kind of grace….as in gratitude….I can be thankful for the trials that have made me unique and for how God is using every messy little detail to write a bigger story

Besides….no one said grace had to be boring and apparently I am here to prove that.  😉

 

Grace and peace to you my friends!