Love Unreturned

 

 

Wrote this song somewhere between Phoenix and Seattle on Southwest jet headed for home after being gone a week.  It’s a rather somber song.  But somber is OK sometimes, too.

 

Love Unreturned

I See You there

I stir inside

I reach

And cold you turn away

I must be wrong

I try again

It’s true

My love is unreturned

Now kind your face

When my heart’s stone

You try so hard

To win me back

All safe with you.

It’s trust again

I reach

And cold you turn your gaze.

I must be wrong

I try again

It’s true

My love is unreturned

Cello (This is you, Annalee:) Think soulful baltic sad and tears sounds with piano

We must be wrong

We try again

To stop

This dance of no return

 

Here’s to today, taking love gestures from the others around us:)

 

 

 

Broken Safe Heart

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Beautifully Broken.  A testimony shared in word and book form.  The story of Elisa Morgan, former president of MOPS International.  The telling of a teenage daughter pregnant, the shame of the thing, of the realization that we are all a mess, and this is a truth.  A friend and I ventured from home to attend the “I Am Loved, One Strand” Event featuring Elisa.  An evening of challenge to a church crammed packed with ladies.  Will I hide my brokenness, or will I take the risk and be a mess, for Jesus Sake.  As the evening hours came to a close, half dozen pastors and elders waited up front to offer a prayer for anyone who could use it.  Just as I Am keeping time, verse after verse and out of the hundreds of women attending, no one came forward.  Verses repeated.  Still no one.  Then a couple of the pastors facilitating the event came forward to be prayed for. As if to say “This is how it’s done”. 

We had been dismissed, the church mostly emptied, a few pray-ers still at post when I asked my friend if she wanted to go together for prayer.  Pray for our marriages.  For our kids. For our own personal struggles.  My friend is no ordinary friend.  She is one of those heroes who lives her faith despite depth of pain.  Sunday mornings, despite hostility at doing so, dresses herself and her children and slips off to church alone, shaking inside but holding it together, always holding it together.  The only Christian in her family.  A mentally unstable husband who swings from kind to damaging.  Having to scoop up children and leave her home for days, fly away, until the storm passes.  She is a mother who is doing everything she can to give her kids what they need, her husband what he needs, works full time, is a loving adult daughter of aging parents, a loving friend to me and many others.  All this amidst a blast that comes and goes, sometimes nearly crashed upon the rocks, when once again God comes through, and she holds steady again. 

We have so much in common, her and I, and you too, I’m guessing.  Our lives are full and beautiful and messy and painful.  We have the unexpected that tares at us.  Every time the calm comes, on it’s heels is destruction.  Willing again and again to be a mess for Jesus sake, as it would be so much easier to pretend all is well, easier to dust ourselves of the messes that disrupt our hoped for lives, but we’ve decided to refuse to give up.  And there we were, she and I doing the very thing the evening had lauded.  Praying not for the superficial, but for what needed praying for. 

Pastor woman, kind eyes, nice prayers she offers up.  The flowing kind of prayers, until tears flow from depths of those she prayed for.  Immediately friend and I feel the change.  Pastor Woman holds steady cold eyes on the one with tears and steps back.  Starts lecturing.  Shrouded in Christian-ese, she with smile and sneer eyes, she offers up a lecture of indignant setting straight.  Arrogance and irritation.  Distance.  Rejection.  Parental eyes.  As real as if she had said the words, “We don’t do messy here.”  

Shame, it hit hard.  Feeling sick.  Needing to find a hiding place, a bathroom, tears they showered pant-leg beneath the eyes.  And as shame flooded in, I remembered words I had heard hours before in a training I had attended.  Fight, flight and freeze occurs when comfort has not been extended.  Fight, flight, freeze.  The body’s reaction to not trusting.  An unsafe place to be a mess. 

The church is realizing how important authenticity is, and vulnerability.  Elisa Morgan has written “Beautifully Broken”.  Ann Voskamp’s latest book reiterates the same idea in “The Broken Way”.  Brene Brown has written extensively about vulnerability and authenticity, and about becoming a wholehearted person.  And many are speaking out on these issues, including God.  The Holy Bible is packed with raw stories of real people.  And still the church isn’t prepared for what it’s asking for. 

We better not ask for real if we have not done the due diligence of placing front and center only those who have done their own raw and messy work.  If my healthy vulnerability frightens you, as culturally Christian as I am, you won’t at all be comfortable with folks with a criminal record, an abortion never spoken of, same sex attraction shame, cut scars that run deep behind long sleeves, a porn addiction, shoplifting, the pain of life as a stripper, hidden heroine, purging, on the run.  Christian servants are not prepared unless we have intentionally peered into the toxic morass of our own less than lovely lives.  The grace of Jesus administered to shame makes worthy and safe my ears to hear your wound, and your secrets.  Professional pretenders have no place at the front line of the body of Christ.  This interaction was uncomfortable for me, but I’m not harmed.  I’m surrounded by healthy people who give me all the love and support I need.  Someone else might not have what I have.  One considering Christianity.  One who has risk it all to try once again to reach for Jesus.   

Jesus says:

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35

Of course we don’t want pastors and leaders functioning as out-of-control messes.  This pastor offering prayer has either never come face to face with her own lacking, or had experienced the discomfort of letting a judgmental person in on her own disgrace, which is why she reacted the way she did to ours.  How can a pastor be honest with themselves and others when we marginalize them for owning their weaknesses?  Pastors are human beings.  They have a past, a present.  Arrogant Saul was only safe to serve when struck down by Jesus, made blind and dependent, and a mess.  Peter was only safe when he faced the ugliness and rejection of his distancing behavior.  We are only safe when we see who we are, and let God’s Grace pick us up again.  A pastor able to admit and speak about his or her own messiness becomes safe to love another.  And not before. 

I’ve written on this topic more than once, and will continue to write on it.  The front lines call for the real deal.  No pretenders.  Our Christian Culture must stop rewarding leaders and pastors for pretending, and punishing for honesty.  The route from death to life is across a cravat that separates Hateland of Pretend from The Loveland of Known.  From the Hiding, fight, flight and freeze (Adam, where are you?) place to a place of being seen, loved and forgiven.  Christians can’t stand on both grounds. Authenticity is attractive to the hurting who don’t know Jesus, because isn’t this what we all want most of all?  To be known AND loved.  We can’t pretend to be authentic as a way of extending a hand.  The call for authenticity has already been sent out.  Front line Christian’s, time is now to step across.  

Lying Mocker: The Deceit of Shaming.

DSC_0298She’s Psycho

He’s a whistleblower

What a Bitch

The safety officer has arrived, I see.

What a Nerd.

A real Drama Queen

Rejection names.  Names given to a person finally able to speak the truth of a thing, unable to pretend anymore.  The name given to the one who says: Enough!

Here is what the word means according to www.dictonry.com and  Merriam-Webster.

Mocking:

1. to attack or treat with ridicule, contempt, or derision.

2. to ridicule by mimicry of action or speech; mimic derisively.

3. to mimic, imitate, or counterfeit.

4. to challenge; defy: His actions mock convention.

5. to deceive, delude, or disappoint.

verb (used without object)

6. to use ridicule or derision; scoff; jeer (often followed by at).

noun

7. a contemptuous or derisive imitative action or speech; mockery or derision.

It’s obvious that mocking is an attack using ridicule towards someone.  Most, however, do not realize that built into the definition of the word mock is “to deceive”.  That is exactly what happens when we mock.  The reason a person mocks is to fake out the one they mock.  The lie takes the attention off what should be heard or acknowledged or noticed. Minimizing what one has done or said that is worth respectfully acknowledging. It is a behavior for the avoidance of truthful discussion.  To harm another when I don’t like what you’re doing, or what you’re saying.  Rather than allow you to be who are are, and notice what you’ve noticed, or listen as you speak of what bothers you, in my discomfort I tell a lie by not honestly stating “I’m uncomfortable.  I’m afraid.  I’m ashamed when you talk about this, or do that.”  So rather than tell the truth, we make the choice to lie-mock. 

Mocking does what it’s intended to do.  It shuts the mocked one down from doing.  From being.  From noticing what needs noticing.  From saying what should be said.  If only the mocked one would remember that to be mocked is to be lied to.  The shame words might have less power.  We might take courage and do what needs done, despite disgust and disdain, because we know that the mock-lies are weak strands that hold back only those who will be chained by cover-ups.

Billboard Hiding

Sitting on a bench alongside my friend in a sundown park, people, they are everywhere and we watch.  Watch the milling about, the comings and goings.  A group of boys silently step out of the overgrowth, walking slower than boys going any place at all, more silent than any collection of guys together on any August evening. And without a billboard announcing drug sales and drug use, 7 boys let the entire park in on what they’d been up to.  Hiding. 

I know this hiding.  Our kids start young.  Round eyes watch through soft blond lashes, little arms tight behind back.  I peek round the little hider.  Melted blobs of green, yellow, orange, red.  Warmed M&M’s concealed behind brown smudged lips and chubby fists.  It’s hard not to laugh just a little.  It’s cute at 3.  Not so cute thereafter. 

What if boys and girls of all ages came right out and stated:

“I use drugs and sell it to my friends.”

“I sneak your credit card number and use it intermittently so you won’t notice”

“I prefer porn to people”

“I cheat on my taxes”

“I live in more of a house than I can afford so you will think I’m important”

Honest, and still not helpful enough.  I’m thinking it’s not the lie that feels so worth hiding.  It’s the action.  And why, with all the variety of ways to think about life, with a wide range of taste in popsicle flavors do people choose to hide and lie about certain behaviors rather than just say “I’m grape, you’re strawberry”?  Maybe lying is used for avoiding trouble.  The law doesn’t support kids snorting coke in bushes.  Doesn’t support streakers.  The baby doesn’t want M&M’s taken away. 

And still, at times we hide because we don’t like and don’t approve of the way WE act, and don’t want anyone who isn’t doing what we are doing to see us act the way we act. 

Shame is a thing of the eyes.

It’s eyes catching the action of another person’s shame.  Eyes seeing bottle downed.  Eyes watching as item is lifted.  Eyes that make pretese hiding so ridicules.  We think no one can see our pretense, and then we parade it out for all.  Never knowing.

What do I hate about my own actions?  What do I think I hide from you – that indecent piece of me I’d rather die than let you see?  The hiding I do is a waste.  I’m not hidden.  I’m announced.  The knowledge of good and evil.  The garden gift we all share.  To see the shame of another, no matter how much we try to conceal. 

Let my eyes be used for loving, no matter another’s shame I see.  Let my own eyes notice my own shame – with purpose in mind.  Let me allow kind eyes to peer into who I am, those healing eyes of knowing and loving anyway.

  

Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked.  Genesis 3:7

Jesus looked at him and loved him.  Mark 10:21.

The Id of Prime: How to Prevent Destroying the Best Years of Your Life

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It’s a familiar pattern.  Man at the top of his game at work, making the most he will ever make, married to the most beautiful adoring wife, envy of us all decides it’s time to engage in a seedy fling, starts shooting up, embezzles money at work.  Beautiful woman happily married, finding success at work, finally a publishing a book, living in a community of friends who adore her and she decides to have an affair with a teenage druggie down the street, decides to quit work, starts to drink, it’s all over. 

The reasons given are many:

He’s afraid of responsibility 

She wants to sabotage her life because of guilt that it’s going so well

He wasn’t respected enough by his wife 

She could never get over harm done to her as a child 

His testosterone made him do it 

Her hormones were out of whack 

And what I say to that is “Why now?”  Why didn’t his wife’s disrespect cause him to act this way two years ago?  Why didn’t her painful past kick in long ago? His fear of responsibility cause him to steal at work, to use drugs, to cheat before now? 

The safest people in the world seem to be unsure of themselves.  Awkward teenagers, trying to understand where they sit at the table of life.  Young adults struggling to get through college.    People at any age who have not made it in life.  Aging folks who have lost..  Had their heart broken.  Buried a parent.  Been abandoned by a spouse.  Lost a child to drugs.  Lost a job.  Been through bankruptcy.  12 step boot camp en route to sobriety.  These people unsure of life itself seem to be the ones much less apt to do harsh things to others in their journey up the proverbial ladder.  It is my view that the id is most commonly enlarged at prime.  At the place in life where things are going the best.  I am amazing, I will protect this amazing persona of myself, and others better see me this way.  If they don’t I will throw it all away. 

Brene Brown’s research shows that wholehearted people, those people who do the best in life, are the ones who embrace their own vulnerability, and with an authentic style of living, share their real selves with others around them.  Which really is the best antidote to the Id of Prime.  Much different from the need to convince others that I’m OK in my quest to belong, I set out to develop a habitual view on myself starting young that embraces me as flawed and valuable even-though.  When I embrace my flaws, and let you know mine, I am inviting you to own and state yours, and together we can care for each other as imperfect, challenging each other along the way, to garnish strength from the other when I need it, which is all the time. 

When I am in a state of awkward insecurity, why would I be more authentic and vulnerable?  Simply put, in my reaching for answers, I am in the position of teachability.   To be teachable is to be vulnerable.  I am saying there is something you know that I don’t know.  And this makes me much safer than the position of ‘I have all the answers and you should be lucky to be in my presence’. 

The self made culture celebrates the exact opposite of teachability and neediness.  Regardless of how brazen we are to proclaim ‘I’ve got it’, this is not reality.  Like it or not, we are needy.  Consider getting through college.  Say we earn our way through college by getting good grades, 100% scholarship.  Someone in a dark room surrounded by stacks of papers, using red pen, sweat and coffee is also getting you through college.  Someone wearing hairnet and gloves is making food in a cafeteria.  Someone is cleaning the toilet, furnishing toilet paper to the stalls, applying bleach as needed, lysol, elbow-grease.  We are our brothers keepers.  We are not islands. 

Working in an Emergency Room for 19 years, one dynamic showed itself over and over.  Didn’t matter if I was dealing with a brilliant Microsoft manager, a rich elderly banker, a well known pastor or a street drug user.  He or she open and vulnerable over time with some close loved ones was the winner.  Sometimes the ‘professionals’ were the ones in real trouble.  They had face to save, a reputation to maintain.  Would rather crack then look like a mess.  Every human being goes through crisis.  We may think we will skirt crisis by keeping distance,  not ‘bothering’ anyone with our problems.  Eventually we come to the end of ourselves, and those of us who have been real with others are the ones to get better.  On the other hand, isolated we can find ourselves pulled under by relatively small setbacks, because we are lacking skills of teachability, flexibility (able to flex even thought it puts me in a poor light), vulnerability and authenticity.

The id of prime. 

An avoidable destruction of me as I practice:

a heart position of reaching toward learning from someone who knows more then me

practice honestly with myself about my weaknesses and deficits

choose to not fake who I am with you

reject the prideful prison of self protection

These practices set us up for deep abiding relationship, whether it be in marriage, with our kids, in the workplace, with our bodies.  Id of prime that walks away from it all is walking away from pretend.  It’s not walking away from intimacy real and raw and deep. Let the best years of our lives honor The God who knew what I was about and gave the prime of his life for my eternity anyway.

Weight Loss

Summer and Fall 2013 179
The writer and butterfly.

I use to be who I am now

Fat and covered in cellulite

Always hiding sloppy me

I didn’t the match the girl inside

And as I prayed and struggled on

Appeared, one day, just what to do

A friend I’d make

The one I hate

And over time

The change it came

Inch by inch

and

Size by size

I finally matched the girl inside

The years went by

most all was well

And then a cancer came to tare

And ripped the breast from off my chest

And choked my trust

And froze my bounce

And once again the hiding came

I didn’t match the girl inside

And still I prayed and struggled on

Appeared one day just what to do

A friend I’d make

The one I hate

And over time

The change it came

I grew to love

the one breast me

18 months of

all is well

And then a cancer came again

This time to claim

my thyroid gland

And spill around throughout my nodes

And throw my body balance off

I use to be who I am now

Fat and covered in cellulite

And now I know just what to do

A friend I’ll make

The one I hate

And over time

The change it comes

I grow to love

the one breast girl

fat and covered in cellulite

And as I friend away the shame

The outside me

it starts to

match

the girl I’ve always been

The Courage of Action

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Doing takes courage.  Doing anything but what’s expected.  Expected doings are, you know.

bed making

dish washing

floor sweeping

laundry

cutting grass

                etc…. 

Expected doings have to be done, and should be done. 

And then there are all the things not on the expected list that require a great deal of courage to do.  Let’s say that somebody needs to share Christ with an unbeliever.  And lets suppose that the best person to tell another about Jesus would be a faithful Jesus follower.  Immediately we have a problem, because although there are many Jesus followers, being of the human sort, there are very few if any truly faithful Jesus followers.  Humans tend to be unfaithful by nature, one way or another. 

Which brings us to the question.  Should an unfaithful Jesus follower tell others to be faithful to Jesus?  Should a landscape artist who has weeds in his yard create golf course beauty for his customer?  What about teacher who can’t get along with his own children?  Should he or she teach another’s child?  Should a scientist discover how important good fat is for the body while taking poor care of his own? 

Humans are a problem.  They are quick to point the finger and call another human a hypocrite because they can see the discrepancy between what is stated as idea and what is lived.  And most of the time, their call is right on.  Which is why we hold back from the tasks at hand.  Stop ourselves from doing what needs done because of fear of being seen as the hypocrite that we are. 

Pastors with poor relational skills. 

Health teachers carrying extra weight. 

Counselors who can’t keep their marriages together.

Shoe makers whose children have no shoes.

I have started providing marriage counseling.  Of the friends who have known my husband and I for the 26 years we’ve been married, they can attest it’s been a mix of happy love and no cake walk.  And still, the need is there for couples to work with a therapist who has been in the trenches in her marriage too, who at times is still in the trenches, but knows what works and what doesn’t, even if one step forward, two steps back.  Husband voice shouts from other end of the house, “IT IS PERFECT.  Because I said so!”

My niece joined the Marines.  She’s 18.  Anyone taking that risk is providing the perfect opportunity for the pointers to rub in where the Marine has been weak in the past.  And yet she’s the one who has decided to put herself out there.  To challenge herself.  To stretch what she’s capable of.  To serve God and Country, regardless of the risks of what others might throw back at her.

I have a friend who provides parenting plans in the courtroom for challenging divorce situations.  She has kids of her own.  Her parenting is not perfect.  Her kids struggle.  And still she has taken the risk to give back not withstanding her own doubt and frustration. 

One sister teaches life coaches and others how to manage chronic pain without pain meds.  Of course she risks not always managing her own chronic pain perfectly, but still she takes on the challenge and many are helped.

Another sister serves papers, teaches school, takes mission trips.  All risk taking activities.

I have a friend who keeps a blog alive for Adult Survivors of Religious Narcissistic Abuse.  So much misunderstanding speaking out on such a topic, and so many rotten tomatoes thrown her way, and still she continues to bless the broken hurting ones who are feeling known and seen because of the stories she shares, and the paintings she creates. 

My private practice work is for those who suffer with trauma, cancer, depression, grief, obesity, etc…  I’ve experienced it all at different times in my life, still have left-overs from each one, thought I was finished with obesity, along came thyroid cancer, adding weight that can not seem to be salad’ed, walked, biked, stretched away.  The vulnerability at meeting a new client first time on walking track with one breast and 35 lbs. extra nearly takes my breath away.  And still I know the risk of shame is worth knowing that I’m in the center of God’s will, doing what I’m suppose to do. 

What are you holding that another needs?  What are you hiding?  What do you fear?  Has God tugged you toward a work that would require courage?  Vulnerability?  Pride is a wall that separates us from life. Be courageous.  Do.

Jesus says it best:

“If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.” ESV   Matthew 16:25