Healing an Emotional Wound

I’ve come to understand that healing an emotional wound is much like healing a physical wound. Emotional wounds can get “infected” with increasingly negative thoughts; they can fester inside us if we ignore them or run from them. But others can shame us or we can shame ourselves into not getting treatment for our emotional wounds.

I’m still healing from the wound I received almost six months ago…sometimes I think it’s almost healed, only for a memory or a thought to snag it and rip it open again. I find myself sometimes so angry I could spit at the person who caused this bewildering injury and the grief that followed it. I did get treatment for this, but it still hurts, mainly because of the sense of injustice that goes along with the injury. There’s something in me that screams “you owe me big time!!! You cost me my hard-won joy and happiness–how dare you?! Pay me back!” But this anger and injustice only inflames the wound further.

The only thing I have found that comes close to healing this mess is confronting everything that was said that day, and refuting it. I feel like I’m draining the nastiest fluid from my wound, and it hurts to go back into that memory and experience those words again, but if it’s ever going to heal, I have to do something like this. If I can stop agreeing with and accepting what was said about me, then I will understand how to take the next step of forgiveness (for myself and the other person). For now, though, I have to cleanse the wound in my heart, and that is a daily process. ❤️

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Obedience…

What does “obedience” mean to you?

In many examples of literature and journalism produced by Christians, obedience is a strongly positive term, especially because it’s so strongly associated with teachings on how we should behave toward God.

According to these various teachings, we should:

  • completely surrender to God, having no thought of our own except for pleasing Him;
  • allow Him to increase and ourselves to decrease, seemingly to the point of our personal non-existence;
  • seek His will and how best to do it by staying in prayer and reading His Word.

I don’t know about y’all…but this list makes me feel like I’m supposed to be God’s dog, not His beloved child.

These teachings admittedly fill me with sadness, anger, and fear–bitterness, resentment, and rage. It feels like I have a choke chain around my neck when I think about “obedience” like this. As an adult who was constantly lectured and threatened into being “obedient,” there is absolutely nothing positive about characterizing my relationship to God like this. I cannot be free and real with God like this; I cannot be who He made me to be, because that me isn’t “obedient” (read: good enough). I feel like if I follow this teaching, I have to do so much work and abase myself in front of God just for Him to even look at me without wrath in His eyes.

In contrast, the way I prefer to relate to God is as His beloved child. I am free to come to His throne, crawl up in His lap, and weep or rejoice as I need to. I can ask questions, have a fit, or just enjoy being with Him. I am His child and He takes delight in me. This doesn’t mean He is fine with me behaving in ways that hurt myself or others. This doesn’t mean He doesn’t care what I do. It means that I can be honest and I don’t have to TRY so hard to be good enough, because Jesus took away that necessity of earning my way into God’s presence.

This way of seeing God and relating to God fills my heart with peace and contentment. I feel like a purring cat being stroked. I am comforted, given secure love, and yet I am still being taught and presented with opportunities to grow spiritually. It’s not that God demands I empty myself of soul and personality; He is instead gently guiding me in better ways of thinking about myself and the world, while using my experiences, personality, and perspective to help others.

Though I receive a lot of comfort, security, and growth from this new way of seeing God, I know others may not understand or may even criticize me for following this way. But all I can say is that I feel so much better about my faith now, and it’s helping me to live, think, and do better.

“No Complaints”

When I was teaching Sunday school, one of my class members was an older lady who always greeted my sincere question of “How are you?” with the sentiment, “Oh, no complaints. Doesn’t do us any good to complain anyhow!”

I would always laugh it off, pretending that I took it as the breezy #positivevibesonly thing she was going for, but it admittedly bothered me, and I find myself reflecting on that this evening. For me, even though I taught that class for 7 years, I never got to know this lady much better than this. It was like her “no complaints” statement was a wall between her and the rest of the world. I never really knew what was going on in her world, what I could pray about for her, what I could do to help, because she put up this whole “positive/got it all together” front. It was frustrating and sad as her Sunday School teacher to feel like she didn’t trust anybody enough to be real.

Now, I get that lots of people are more private about their feelings and thoughts than I am. I’ve always lived my life with my personal volume kicked up to at least 8 out of 10, putting it mildly! And I really don’t want to or mean to intrude on others’ privacy. But I also hate knowing that somebody is being fake to me. It seems to me that in the quest to be #positivevibesonly and complaint-less, we’ve forgotten about the beauty of being real with each other, even if that realness means discussing problems or negative emotions.

I for one feel much more closely bonded with someone when they have talked honestly with me and I with them. I don’t see it as “venting” or complaining, and it’s not a burden to hear someone else’s problems, nor is it shameful to share my own. I love deep conversations like that, where you swim in the shared experience of each other’s lives. I wish more conversations were like that, where one didn’t feel the pressure to be positive all the time, and didn’t feel the need for a false smile.

Now, I admit, some have shamed me about discussing my problems as openly as I do, about sharing as much of my life as I do. Some have said I’m doing it merely for attention or to crowd others out, and some have suggested I am spending too much time on negative thoughts. None of those, in my estimation, are true. This is my way of trying to connect with others, to find kindred spirits, and I’ve already found my tribe of folks who understand and emotionally communicate in the same way. I am not alone, and I am not wrong, even though many through the years have tried to convince me that my ways are aberrant and problematic.

I am aware not everyone will agree that being fully honest about life is the best way to communicate, especially when doing so is painted as “complaining” or “venting.” But perhaps, maybe, don’t knock it till you try it? ❤️

Winks from Heaven

My experiences with Mom since her passing have made me aware of all the little moments in my life that look like winks from Heaven. Finding that perfect parking space on a crowded day at work? Yep. A sweet little squirrel perched on a branch, looking at me seemingly to get my attention before it bounds away? Yep. Meeting an old friend by chance and being able to catch up with them? Yep.

If I wasn’t looking out for these tiny things, I could easily dismiss them…but now that I keep an eye out for them, and now that I interpret them as “winks from Heaven,” they give me a smile and a sense of comfort and hope. This practice really helps me feel like God is looking out for me and all of us. ❤️

My Songs are Prayers!

If I had known that striking out on my own in faith would have led to a tremendous burst of songwriting, I think I would have done it sooner. And it’s revealed something to me, too: my Christian songs are not “worship songs.” They are prayers in poetry form, set to music.

Where I attended before, folks in the church leadership wanted me to write “worship music” as soon as they knew I could and did write music. But after a few years of debuting my honest and real songs about my walk in faith, those folks asked for my songs less and less, or asked me to do different stuff instead of what I felt God was leading me to do.

But, like every other aspect of my faith, I agreeably cut away the unwanted portion of my creativity, and tried to shape it to what they wanted. Then I watched it just shrivel and die…and that’s where it lay for about five years. I resigned myself to singing in the choir, because my Muse was gone and I had no ideas left for songs or melodies or anything. Everyone else was happy, but I was terrified–what happened to half my soul? Where was the music in my head that had been there since I was a child?

As I’m discovering now, it was merely dormant, because I was trying to use it to please other humans, not God. I was trying to write generic, happy-go-lucky “worship” tunes when I knew in my heart all that felt fake, or at least it represented only a small part of the real Christian life. I didn’t need more songs telling me how good God was; I needed songs that rang with my despair and echoed with my fear, because between those bars and chords I could be real with God about my life and the things I needed His help with.

I used to wonder why I didn’t have a prayer life like other Christians, but now I finally get it: my prayer life IS my poetry and my music. These are the ways I talk to God and He to me. He blesses me with inspiration, I sing and play my feelings out, and someone else listening might finally be real with God in those moments, too. God can use my expression of self to reach and comfort others. I haven’t been doing prayer “wrong” all these years–I’ve just been doing it my way. (And how could anyone else understand that when I couldn’t?)

In all the upheaval of the last two months, I’ve written two new piano/voice pieces and one piano solo, and I feel more creative than ever. Half my soul is back where it should be, and I’m not letting anybody convince me to cut it away again!

The Weird Side Effect of Leadership

I’ve been told recently that perhaps I am going through this upheaval in my church life because I am meant to lead a ministry in some way. I’m not sure how that’s going to work, seeing as how organized religion and I have never really gotten along, but this thought has given rise to another, more profound idea: leaders must always be lonely. Especially at the start of things.

I say this because as I look back over my life thus far, I remember several instances where I was called out of the herd mentality to do something unusual. Each time, I was criticized by others, and when I was younger I was sometimes threatened with punishment if I didn’t “behave” (read: do things the usual way). Each time, my seeking led to a greater understanding in myself, and eventually good changes for others as well. And each time, I felt painfully alone, and desperately wanted to belong again.

Knowing what I know of God, He’s using this as an opportunity to encourage growth. But I can’t help aching for a community in which to grow–that’s what led me to seeking church in the first place. I know I couldn’t have stayed in that environment forever, because things had become so stale, complacent, and uncomfortable, but there was a certain security of identity that I’m missing now. What am I as a Christian, if not a “good little church girl?”

Answering that question has proven difficult, but sometimes, in the midst of my restless days and nights, I feel like I’m on the brink of understanding something big. Am I a leader in the making? I’m not sure, and I don’t know if I even want that for myself. But I’ve been called out again, and I can only follow where He’s leading. ❤️

Getting to Know God (Again)

You don’t have to do, say, or be anything for God to love you and want you in His presence.

I guess that’s not really an earth shattering idea in the realm of Christianity, but it’s something I’m finding comfort in these days. Worship in the context of religious ritual, attendance, and activity has been confining, stressful, and restraining, so for me this break from church feels like peeling off the wrong size bra I’ve been wearing for years. (Might be a funny/silly mental picture, but it gets the point across!)

Joking aside, I’m truly grateful that I have this time to finally explore what worship means to me, where I find time with God, and most importantly, what time with God even feels like for me. I feel like I’ve spent so many years hearing about this great friend and Father I’m supposed to love and trust, but now I’m actually in His presence more than just a few minutes at a time every Sunday, so love and trust feel more doable. And all I’m doing is just inviting Him into my space, wherever I am. I can say whatever I need to say out loud, write it down, or just think it; I can be open and honest, and there is infinite love meeting me even when I’m not feeling cheery and super positive.

There’s also no pressure to be anything other than what I am (creative, restless, impatient, excitable)…and that makes resting and listening a lot easier, because I don’t have to stuff down and suppress these traits with God. In the moments where my thoughts ARE clear and calmer, He is there, speaking, and when the tornado of thoughts spins off into the distance again, He just waits for it to settle down. For a woman who’s been told all her life to calm down, hush, be still, be quiet, not hearing or feeling these things from God is a blessing in itself.

I hope this continues, and that I can start growing in faith again. I hope also to find like minded people, too, but I know my personal time with God is most important to develop for now. I’m excited to see where this takes me next. ❤️

A DIY Journal for a Disorganized Girl

I’ve been putting together a sort-of bullet journal/sort-of planner thing for about a week, and I thought I’d share about how I set mine up for some journal inspiration. It’s definitely not the typical journal format, but then again I’m not the typical journal user!

This is the small looseleaf binder I got–I found it at Walmart for about USD $2.50. I like it because it’s smaller than the average binder, so it’s easier to pack and take with me to work, etc. Plus, I just love miniature versions of things anyway, so it’s cuter to use. (I can also change the front and back cover out at any time–yay personalization!)

I also bought a pack of five dividers and 2 special-sized paper packs for it (they were a few bucks each). Total cost for putting this together was between USD $8-$10.

This is where the magic of this journal begins for me. My number one complaint about nicely bound journals is that I can’t reorganize pages if I need more room in a section, and I can’t really rip out pages when I’m done with them or if I’ve messed up on them. This binder being looseleaf and openly organized means that this system is not only customizable, but changeable with my needs. MUCH less journal anxiety! (That is a thing, by the way–I’ve suffered from the fear of messing up a pretty journal all my life for whatever reason.)

I also did a fairly hasty Table of Contents (forgive my terrible handwriting, I have no patience or skill for “pretty” lettering). This page can receive on-the-fly edits and changes very nicely, or can even be completely replaced if I have to. As you can see, I don’t know quite what to do with two of the five sections, but I feel certain I’ll have something to put there in the future. (Wedding planning, perhaps? Lol!). All I did know at the time was that I wanted my favorite color blue to represent the Creative Projects area, so that’s why I left the big space in the middle.

I also like that this “journal” has two pockets (pictured is the front pocket), because I’m always writing important stuff down on little slips of paper and then promptly losing said slips. At least if I have this with me, I’ll be able to stick the papers somewhere relatively safe until I can file the info away officially. LOL

And lastly, this journal is just the right size and style to hold a pen in it without bumping out the spine weirdly or having to clip it on the front awkwardly! It’s a small hurdle to remove, but it’s an important one for me–if I’m always having to hunt for a pen before I use my journal, I’m just not gonna bother. Been there, done that, over it. Lol

All in all, I’m excited about using this new system of thought organization, and I’m hoping it helps me feel less scattered than I have been all my life the last few weeks. I’m hopeful that with the considerations I’ve made on how I actually use paper and pen, I can make a journal work this time!