Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Love, or something like it

Some say love is a burning thing, that it makes a fiery ring.
Oh, but I know love as a fading thing
just as fickle as a feather in the stream.
See honey I saw love, you see it came to me
It put its face up to my face so I could see
And then I saw love
disfigure me
into something
I am not
recognizing.


....I will not open myself up this way again.
I will not lay like this for days now upon end... You will not see me fall, you'll see me struggle to stand. I will not open myself up this way again.

...see honey, I am not some broken thing.
I do not lay here in the dark waiting for thee. No, my heart is gold. My feet are light. And I am racing out on the desert plains all night.


Some say love is a burning thing, that it makes a fiery ring.
Oh, but I know love as caging thing
just a killer come to call from some awful dream.*



I am a total nerd for song lyrics. I like a good beat, but really when it comes down to it, I'd much rather listen to a song for what it says than what it sounds like. And this is one of my favorite songs. It is heartbreaking and totally depressing, but it opens up this part of me that knows exactly what it's saying. How many times has 'love' disfigured us? How often has 'love' used and abused and broken us?

But that is not love.

Love is not fickle. It is not a killer from some awful dream. Love does not disfigure. Love does not cage us.

Love frees us. Love transforms us. Love restores us. Love redeems us. And in our brokenness, Love
holds us up in all our weakness, calling us to come out from hiding... to rest in security and safety.


I think it's safe to say that we've all been hurt (and maybe even crushed) by someone who said they loved us. Someone who made the promise that we were safe with them.
And then they left out of nowhere. Or they grew distant and slowly disappeared. One day, we're safe. And the next, we're not.

We can carry this hurt for the rest of our lives, growing more and more resistant to love, more guarded, and less willing to accept offers of love and acceptance. We will not fall for that again. We will struggle to stand on our own. We will run free never stopping, never resting, never safe.
We will not open up ourselves this way again.


But we will lose something so beautiful, so tender, and so freeing. And that is what the Lord God, our loving Father, gave us when he set us in families, in friendships, in community. He gave us His People, His Church. He gave us a picture of His Love here on Earth. A picture that we will sometimes mark up with our sin, our selfishness, our own agendas...

It can be scary sometimes, and it might hurt... it might be uncomfortable, but it is infinitely worth it.

But our hope is not ultimately in other people's love or acceptance... it is in Jesus' love and acceptance. And so, we are freed up to point to the Love of God, free to proclaim the awesomeness of our Jesus. We are freed up by His Love to love other people ... people who may hurt us or leave us...   but we are secure forever in His Love.

And that Love is worth it.


*Phosphorescent



safe in our Daddy's arms

But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me.
Psalm 131:2

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Responsible

Both of us have had quite a few nightmares about it. We drive past a pool or see one on tv and she asks me if it's deep. Out of nowhere, she'll look me intently in the eyes and tell me she doesn't want to sink again.

It was traumatizing, for the both of us. I really haven't talked very much about the details because it's too hard. I already get the image of her under the water in my head enough, and I have to physically shake it out again. 

I know how close we came that day, closer than I ever want to come again, to losing her. If I hadn't looked back when I did, if we hadn't been just that week talking about holding her breath under water, if... what if...

**

I started going to therapy to help my PTSD about two years ago. Under the layers of grief and anger, triggers and flashbacks, we discovered the heavy burden I've been carrying of feeling responsible for Owen's death. And how my anxiety and fear, my panic attacks all trace back to the intense feeling of responsibility I feel to keep my children safe and alive. 

What maybe you don't understand about PTSD is that you have no control over it, really. But you can learn ways to cope and live with it.
I think an easy way to explain what it can feel like is to think of the last time you were reminded- out of nowhere- of your most embarrassing moment from your childhood- one that still (maybe after 20 years) makes you physically cringe. You can vividly remember what you were wearing, where you were and random details around you. Your heart still may beat faster, and you still might blush or get really uncomfortable thinking about it. 

This is how it goes with PTSD. 

When I get a trigger that reminds me of when Owen died- a smell, a sound, or just a thought that randomly pops up- I get a physical reaction to it. I feel sick to my stomach and I'm thrown right back to the days surrounding his death and birth. I can't control it. My brain is wired to respond. "Are we still in danger?" "Are we going to face loss again?" "What can I do to prevent it?" 
And a myriad of questions and plans and obsessive thoughts follow.

I feel responsible... I have to figure out how to prevent it- the worst- from happening again.

My PTSD flares whenever it feels like it, honestly. Pregnancy and doctor's offices bring it out pretty badly. Sometimes I don't even know why I get triggered, but when it comes, I have to face it because the alternative is not healthy or safe. I'm so thankful that the Lord put my therapist in my life when He did, so that I can have all the tools I have to cope with it. 

**

After our accident at the pool a couple of weeks ago... more specifically, later that night as I was lying in bed NOT sleeping next to my precious girl, I had a few panic attacks and my PTSD was triggered terribly. I was devastated that I hadn't stopped her falling into the pool in the first place, and I was terrified/horrified/guilt ridden that I almost didn't see her until it was too late.

But then... but then I thought about how I did see her, I did get her out safely, she did hold her breath until I was able to grab her, and she has suffered no physical repercussions from her near drowning.... and then I thought... none of that was because of me.

I did it all wrong. I messed up big time. All of my planning and thinking and worrying and googling (I can tend to have a terrible google habit) did her no good when it came down to it.



We had a 14 hour day in the car a few weeks ago and ended up listening to a few Tim Keller sermons. One specifically Chris wanted me to hear because it talks about God's sovereignty and our responsibility. I think the tag line (if sermons have tag lines) was "because God is sovereign, we are responsible."
God orders everything to be in line with his plan, and He really is before all things and in Him all things hold together (Colossians 1). Every decision we make is not out of God's hands, but a part of God's design. If we believe we're in control then we feel paralyzed- this is often where I fall. And on the other side, if we're not responsible, then we feel complacent because it doesn't matter what we do or don't do. Both reactions are not in line with how our great God works.
It was a much more eloquent sermon than I could ever explain here. This is the link if you want to listen.


And so, I'm thankful for the gentleness with which the Lord deals with me. It is not harshness that I feel from Him at all, though I certainly could warrant a great deal of it... especially when I live out my days feeling and thinking that I am in control and it is my responsibility- my burden- to think of everything, to worry about everything, to try to control everything so that life will go as I desire (i.e. my big one- I want my children to be healthy and safe. I know what it feels like to be separated from a child, and it is a paralyzing fear sometimes).

I will probably always err on the more hyper-vigilant side of things when I parent, but what I've been so thankful to see recently is the Lord's sweet care of us. And I'm thankful that the burden that I've been so weighed down by has lessened some.
He was watching Hannah Mae when she slipped off the steps of the pool.
And He was paying attention when Owen's movements had changed and he silently slipped into Heaven.
It was not my responsibility to know what I couldn't have known... to control and stop his death. No amount of worrying or obsessing or researching will change the number of days our loving Father has given us. This should not discourage us, but encourage us that we are safe with him. This is a much harder reality to face and deal with when you've experienced the death of a loved one and now live with the reality of the separation, but we can rest in our Father's arms.

This is something I know I will struggle with until Jesus makes all the sad things untrue, but I am thankful for the glimpses we get... for the sweetness of freedom we can experience, for the rest that is found in Jesus. 



My sweet girls had a fancy morning one day last week.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Handling it

 I have been on the wrong side of those statistics you hear women whisper about nervously. "I couldn't handle that" they say. And inside I think, yes I haven't handled it very well at all.


Lying facedown on the bedroom floor in a house we hastily moved in to escape the toxic memories of our old apartment building, grief and sadness threatened to drown me.
Collapsing in the kitchen, in the middle of making dinner, sobs poured out uncontrolled.
Errands abandoned at the sight of pregnant women and babies.
Fists pounding on my steering wheel in rage, eyes barely able to see the road in front of me.

Shaking, nauseous and always at the edge of falling apart, I started going back to church. Only to leave midway through each Sunday, running out of the sanctuary because of a song, a memory, a hurtful (unintentional) word, the sound of a crying baby.


I haven't handled it at all.


Lying facedown at my Savior's feet, sadness and longing my only words.
Collapsing into my Savior's arms, my tears he caught and held.
My old life abandoned, remade and transformed.
Fists unclenched and open, eyes cast upward, looking forward.


I have been held, carried and kept.

It was never mine to handle.

We are held, carried and kept.