Storms And Endings

Who are we when we stand in the midst of the storm? When we’re waiting for the thunderclap, when we stand to look at the clouds?

Where do we look? To the sky, or to the creator of the heavens? Who calmed the storms and seas, but the one who made them.

I’ve felt a little distant lately. Calm. At peace. There’s something going on under the surface that I can’t quite grasp or lay my finger on. I’m not sure what it is, but I feel a shift in me.

It’s funny how changes don’t tend to happen all at once, but gradually over time, all the subtle shifts add up, and soon we notice the chasm between who we are, and who we used to be, wondering how we ever got to this other side.

There are more paths ahead of us now, more options to choose. More hope. More future. And yet, we’re somehow closer to the end.

Someone died recently. I didn’t know him, though I knew his name. A man who was full of adventure, and that adventure killed him. We were the same age. He spoke just the day before, talking about a busy week and so much to do after it. He talked with excitement. But for him, that busy week never ended. He did.

It makes me wonder how much time I have left. I’m at peace with dying. But I also want a chance to truly live.

What am I doing with the time that I have?

What are any of us doing?

I don’t want these storms to have the final say. I don’t want these voices to crush me any longer. I want to rise above the ashes. What will we say, when we finally reach the end?

Welcome

Keep the kettle on, there’s always room for more. Tea and talks go far deeper than warming our bodies, they fill our souls. I want to be that friend who provides safety and comfort. Friends are always welcome, and talks can be abundantly filled with depth and beyond.

I was recently welcomed into an acquaintance friend’s home for a church meeting. There were only a couple of us there, but I felt so incredibly welcomed by her. She had tea ready, and freshly baked gluten-free snacks.

Her home wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t about that, it was about the atmosphere she provided and created.

I want to know how to do that. I’m not sure I know. I’m a bit out of touch with what it’s like to entertain others. It’s been too long and the idea of it frightens me a little. Fear of judgment, having a small place and not much room. We don’t even have a kitchen table.

What it really is is that I’m uncomfortable with me. I’m uncomfortable with my life and how much I neglect the physical things. It’s just not a priority for me. As the mother says on Yours, Mine, and Ours, “Homes are for free expression, not good impressions.”

My home is my solace, my safe place, my little retreat. The place I go into when I’m overwhelmed and need a break, a chance to be cut off from the world and find a little corner of peace.

Boundaries.

Welcoming the good ones, but not the bad. Allowing others to see me, but not just anyone. Is that okay?

Distance

I’ve been holding people at a distance. I want to say maybe I have, but there is no maybe, I have been.

I don’t know how to interact genuinely or honestly with pain without sharing at least some of my own. I said this to my therapist, and she talked through it with me. I said this to my husband, and he said “vagueness is your specialty.” He meant it as a good thing, I think… Or maybe just a simple observation. He sees how I am with others, and how I am when we’re alone. And I’m different.

Everyone wears masks to some degree, I don’t want to be one of those people. I don’t want the masks to exist, I want depth. I want to share genuinely and honestly everything that’s happened, everything I’ve been through. And yet, as my therapist reminded me, I have my group of safe people, and the boundaries I’m holding to are healthy out of respect for everyone involved.

I’ve heard that gossip is involving people in something when they’re not a part of the solution or the problem. I like that definition, because it helps put things into perspective. There were times that I did break down in groups, there were times that I have shared (and probably too much). But now things are different. Now, the pain isn’t as unbearably overwhelming as it was when I couldn’t help but let it all spill out the second I started talking. I couldn’t even talk about basic things sometimes without crying and not fully being able to make my way through it. It was too much.

There are some who have been part of the solution. There are some who have been part of the problem, and things have healed, maybe not completely, but God’s working on us. Then there are others, who are incapable of love or thinking about anyone else, people who are unsafe, who we have to keep at a distance, and even distance isn’t always enough.

But there are all these people outside of those little bubbles. People who are hurting, who need a safe place. I want to be a safe place. I wouldn’t open up to me either if I was around myself externally, I come off too happy, too put together. And I say this because of the shock and reaction I’ve gotten when certain people have found out that I’ve struggled with depression.

Being fine is a mask. I’m okay now. But I haven’t always been. And just because I’m okay, and God’s growing me, doesn’t mean I’m fine in the loose and casual way that people often take it.

People used to open up to me. Random people. People I’d never met before. There have been a few over the past several years, but not nearly as many as there used to be. Maybe it’s because I’m not around strangers or new people as much, maybe it’s because I’ve changed. I’m more guarded, less open. More cautious, less free.

And yet, there is a freedom in not being compelled to speak, and share, and there is a freedom in not being so broken that vulnerability was forced upon me if I wanted to say anything at all.

I guess what I’m saying is, I’m not sure how to strike a balance. I know the need for healthy boundaries, I know the need to be unmasked. I desire the ability to share and be known, not by everyone, but by some, and I desire to know and understand others, to love them, and support them, and to offer comfort in the places I’ve been broken, comforted, and healed.

In this, I also realized while sitting in my therapist’s office, that I’ve placed my identity in all the wrong things. I’ve based my worth and my value, not in God where it should be, but in my ability to be there for other people.

I hold my hands up, keeping others at a distance, I dodge and avoid things that I really wish I knew how to speak on. And then I’m reminded that all this stuff, there is no clearly spelled out black and white, right and wrong, except that I keep my eyes on Christ, and follow wherever He leads.

Jesus had times when He spoke and called others out, and He had times where He stood silently as he was accused. Both are right, but both at different times.

I know the reasons for these masks, and I’m thankful for the relationships I have where I don’t need to wear them. But I also struggle with the guilt, or shame, of not living up to my ideal identity, of once again, not being able to save others by sacrificing myself.

Why do I hate me so much? And why is it so hard to trust God with my identity? My worth is not based on what I do, but who I am in Him. I guess it’s complicated by the ever nagging question of “who am I?” that all INFJs struggle with. But maybe that’s the key. I think I need to process and pray about this more.

I can’t save everyone. I can’t save anyone. God can use me if He wills, but ultimately, Jesus saves, the Holy Spirit convicts. And I am not God.

Change

Our neighbor is moving today. It’s weird, I didn’t know her at all, yet a part of me feels sad that she’s leaving, I was so used to seeing her.

On the flip side, watching  across the street as she’s packed up and left things out for others to take, I’ve found a bit of excitement at the idea of moving again. It’s kind of fun to have a new adventure.

Life changes so quickly, and I wonder if we ever fully enjoy the season we’re in.

My husband and I talked about how nice it would be to live in a place like Italy, where everything is walkable. There’s a part of me that would love to experience that for a bit, but I don’t think I could ever truly be satisfied without having more of the nature I’m used to.

Then I was thinking how travel changes you. You can miss places you’ve never been, or long to return to a place you once were. But how much more fulfilling could life be if we were fully engaged with wherever we currently are?

I struggle with this. I struggle with it a lot. I often blame my inferior Se, and I’m sure that’s part of it, but what if I could bring a calm awareness and intentionality to my life? What if I could change the dynamic of how I interact with the outside world in such a way that every day is an adventure, and every day, I find a life worth living.

We so often strive for a day that may never come. Then we wallow in the self-pity and shame of never having arrived. But what if we counted every step as arriving at that step? What if we saw everything as cause for celebration? Because no matter how small, every step forward, is still a step ahead of where we once were.

I don’t know when or if we’ll move, but I’m feeling more at peace about the idea than I was before. Maybe it’s okay to move on, and let go. Maybe it’s okay to be fully present here while I am here, while still looking ahead to what the future might be. Still holding on to hope, that in the future, and in the present, I’m exactly where I am. Which is exactly where I’m meant to be in this moment.

Do you struggle with change or to be present in your life? I’d love to hear your experience.

Four Years

Four years ago I started this blog. I had no idea what it was going to turn into, or what it would be, but I knew I wanted a place to write and freely express my random ramblings.

It’s mostly been a place to do just that, though it’s become an emotional journal of sorts where I write down my thoughts and experiences, and somehow you still like to read it. Thank you for that.

I’ve so appreciated this safe little corner of the internet, and thank you each and every one of you who have followed along the way.

Sending love. ❤

Autumn Days

It’s a cooler day today. I’m really excited just thinking about fall and pumpkin everything. As of last year I’m once again dabbling in apple, but I’m not fully convinced.

There’s something about the smell and feeling in the air that just makes this time of year feel so hopeful. I know that winter is coming, but for now, today, it’s that beautiful in between full of color, one last vibrant display of life.

There’s this peaceful feeling, that everything’s going to be okay. I’ve gained some distance from the things that once plagued me, and although I still struggle with it in my mind, it’s consistently less and less in my external reality.

I love walks in the crisp cool of midday. Leaves crunching underfoot, and I’m able to escape into another world to see a corner of my mind that feels safe, untainted. My mind has been such a dangerous place for so long. I’m finally beginning to feel the fog lift even more as I’m brought to a new level of trust in the Creator of us all.

Now, in this moment, my mind drifting and wandering no longer has to bring me to a place of despair, but I can see instead how far God has brought me, and continues to bring me. He is so abundantly faithful.

I’m healing. It may be slower than I would like, but it’s still there.

Pain and struggles bring us to a place of wonder. They help us to relate, and to connect. I’m not saying it’s easy, not by any stretch, but I am beginning to realize how it is good. And He is good for allowing it.

I once thought I was destroyed, but now I see that I wasn’t destroyed, only deepened. Those pits of despair and depression can feel so overwhelming, but they don’t have to claim us. Not now, not forever. Maybe there really is strength in weakness, maybe it really is when we’re weak that He shows Himself even more faithfully to be strong. His grace, and the goodness He brings through the hardship almost make it so the pain can’t compare.

And I am so thankful for reminders of His goodness, and how far He’s carried me and grown me. It isn’t of myself, that much I know, it is only through Him working in me. I couldn’t get myself into those pits alone, and I couldn’t climb out alone either. There’s a thought. This is why we need community. Yes, people will hurt us, but they’re also one of the ways that God shows us His grace and goodness.

Diving Deep

There are a lot of emotions lately that I haven’t wanted to face. I’ve discussed it with my therapist, that I’m not ready yet. I feel like I’ve just recently come up and have been able to breathe, and I’m not ready to go back down into it again.

I know the depths have the potential to pull me under. I don’t fear staying there, because I know that God will pull me through and up out of the waters, no matter how deep or painful, but I do fear being paralyzed. And I don’t want my life to once again be on hold.

I feel I need to prepare this time. Instead of just diving in head first. I know that I need to face these things eventually. I know I’ve processed and peeled back many of the layers and I’m in a far better place that I was a few years ago, but I also know there are many more layers to go. Some I’m aware of, others I am not.

As an INFJ, I admire depth. I crave depth. I long for conversations with substance. I don’t want to know just the surface of what’s going on, but I want to know the thoughts, the feelings, and the person behind it. So why is it so difficult when it comes to myself? Why do I struggle so much to show compassion?

I’m not ready. And that’s okay.

I’m thankful for the time I’ve had. And I’m thankful for the support of friends and family, and my therapist and God’s abundant mercy. I’m not ready to let that freedom go.

But I’m not. I’m not letting it go. I’m freely giving it to God, and trusting Him with the consequences. It’s okay to not go deep right away. It’s okay to stay on the surface, get things in order, and dive in after I’ve taken a breath. God is faithful, and He will always show me the way, whether or not I can initially see it.

It’s okay to take the time I need. It’s okay to be patient as I wait. It’s okay to not rush right in to all my difficult and complicated emotions. I feel like a hypocrite, but just because I feel something, that doesn’t automatically make it true.

I know it will take some time. I know I have more healing to do. Right now, I’m content in the silence. Waiting to see where God will lead me next. Trusting that He has the ability to heal, and qualify, and deliver.