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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Losing My Voice

Raison D’être

“The dark does not destroy the light; it defines it. It’s our fear of the dark that casts our joy into the shadows.” Brene Brown 

I cannot recall the exact moment it happened for me….this losing of my voice.

What I can recall though are the moments that it had made its appearance before slipping quietly back into the safety of its witness protection program.

From time to time , In fits of anger or bubbled up courage, I would allow my voice to surface and speak out.

While in my head my words had the eloquence and power of Martin Luther King, in real life they would fumble out of my mouth and end up looking more like the awkward fight scene in Napoleon Dynamite.

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The fumbling would inevitably trigger an avalanche of shame in me and so I would work hard to keep my words quiet….I would retreat safely into silence or craft my words in a manner that made everyone around me feel at ease.

I purposefully quieted my voice to allow space for others to speak more loudly….and in this I shrank.

Some how everyone else’s well being was more important than  my own.

Basically, everyone else’s comfort held a higher esteem than my own dignity.

This was my sad little truth.

The problem is that when I allowed my own dignity to be diminished, it dug a deeper hole into the pit of fear, loneliness and rejection blocking any chance of real relationship.

When shame binds you….fear will define you.

Growing up in a home rife with emotionally unbalanced people meant living in a home with floors made of egg shells. What anyone said or did could pull the trigger of violence and no one , BUT NO ONE , was safe.

So I learned from a young age that being invisible was not just safe, but a super power.

My father layed the ground work.

You see, my dad was a deeply insecure and broken man whose defence came through his fists. One of my first and only memories of him with my mother was when he knocked her off her chair as she fed me. I was in my high chair opening my mouth to receive the food on the end of the spoon and as she reached the spoon towards me his fist connected with her skull and she fell to the floor. I was barely a year old and had not yet learned to speak, BUT had begun the lesson that what I said would either keep me safe or tip the scales.

Again, at five years old, after years of being bounced between parents and grand parents, I went to live with my father, his new wife and her son who was my age.

My father put me on a pedestal and praised me at every turn which you would think would have a positive affect and build my self worth.However, there was  dark side of this as my father  also beat his step son into submission with clenched teeth and closed fists. This sometimes happened at the dinner table but mostly happened behind closed doors. The screams of that boy child invaded every corner of my imagination and I would sit frozen in fear as a shame storm ravaged my tender soul.

The message was loud and clear….NO ONE WAS SAFE…so shrink away unseen.

His hands never had to land on me for me to be hurt. My flesh was not damaged by him, but my heart and soul were torn to shreds making fertile ground for shame to reign supreme.

This was the beginning of the shaping of my character. I knew at 5 years old that my words held power and what I said or didn’t say was going to protect me and everyone around me.

Invisibility may have been my super power but I had to somehow find a way to exist in the world before me. Shrinking away was not always a possibility and so hustling for my self worth became an art in which I excelled. When the only mirror to who you are is via severely damaged and darkened souls you experience yourself as deeply flawed and unworthy of real love and belonging. So in this, you work to be what you think others need in order to be ok. When this is the only view of yourself, you accept it as truth and you go about the lonely business of avoiding real connection and in this, shame quietly wins.

Fast forward almost 49 years old ( I am on the fast train to 50) and I am just realizing the importance of not only finding my voice….but actually using it.

The first step has been in admitting that it was lost. It existed somewhere, but was unrecognizable. I have really had to get out the big girl shovel and dig through piles of shame to find it.

When I finally found it all beaten down and cowering in the corner, I was not so sure I wanted it to come out.

It had a lot to say and it was scary.

I was afraid of its power.

What if it was unruly and carelessly opened doors that I was not ready to open?

What if it told stories that I did not want told?

And then that magic moment happened. I looked into the eyes of my oldest daughter who saw that I was not speaking up for myself. She defended me in a situation that she should not have had to. She spoke the words that should have come out of me but my voice was too tired and beaten down.

I saw it right there in her eyes …the “why mom?”

How do I tell her that it is because I am afraid or because I am trying to protect her?  That my silence is my superpower…That I am still believing in the lie that it will save us in the end.

There it sat.

The truth is that I was holding on to a lie and my kids deserved better. They deserve a mother that speaks up….a mother that loves herself enough to know that her voice matters.

I want for them to feel whole and go out into the world equipped to experience love and belonging and trust.

I had to recognize that I am a leader and my little followers will go where ever I lead them. That is a powerful thought and I knew I had to step out at all cost.

But how?

In wanting  something better for those I loved my search began. I stepped out in faith and began by praying.

I prayed for the courage to move into this place of vulnerability.

I prayed for walls to come down.

I prayed for clarity and direction.

I prayed for wisdom of those who have walked before me.

If you are reading this I ask you to continue to pray for me as this will probably always be my battle.

I prayed and I listened.

I read and I talked it out.

I sought healing in counselling and I surrounded myself with people on the same path….and then as my eyes began to open so did my heart.

A friend invited me to sign up for the Brene Brown Courage works course. Her work as a shame researcher has more than held my interest and she has helped shed light on my inner workings. Through this course my eyes have been opened to these facts;

  • I crave wholeheartedness
  • I am bound by shame and this keeps me from using my voice and living wholeheartedly
  • Empathy heals shame
  • Self compassion helps me to move through releasing shame I put on myself
  • In order to have courage to live out side of fear and shame and practice using my voice I must allow myself to be vulnerable
  • Vulnerability will lead to wholeheartedness

 

Not sure why it takes having kids to want this for myself but it is a real wake up call to understand that I could not expect my kids to experience wholeness when I modelled something different.

 

I searched scripture to see how Jesus views me  and how he views all women. God, in the flesh, came at a time when women were valued as less than cattle and he spoke to women in that time and told them (paraphrase)”Sisters, take your high place!” and in the same way he spoke these words to me.

He has reminded that my image….my narrative….my value, is not to be decided by the broken people who have defined this aspect of me for so long. God has given me the power to step out of this. He has shown me through Jesus that I am valued beyond measure and has put loving friends on my path who speak healing truth…. a balm to my injured soul…

” You are a new creation in Christ”

A new creation means I no longer have to hold on to the garbage of my past. Time to declutter and renew my thinking. I can let go of what was so that I have space for what I want to be.

 

I am going to need a lot of space because my heart feels crowded.

It needs a workspace.

A sacred place.

A place to stretch out and listen….listen for God’s voice and in that find my own voice.