Vanity…

When we moved to Colorado, my contacts quit working for me.

I mean, my eyes were so dry they hurt, thanks to a new dryer climate, it became evident soon after moving, I couldn’t do contacts anymore – unless I wanted to look like I was crying all the time…

So, all this year, I’ve been FORCED to wear my glasses – and I have a few cute pairs, but they just aren’t convenient – you can’t see as much as you can with contacts, and your ears and nose get sore from wearing them, if a young child wants to head butt you (yes, it happens at our house) it hurts much worse with glasses on, you can’t run or play sports the same – they just aren’t fun.  11146583_10100496490701616_4971471899792477095_o

But, to be honest, the real reason I’m frustrated with having to wear glasses is that I don’t like how they make me look.  I feel like they hide my eyes – the one thing on my face that hasn’t changed or gained weight…

Everyone compliments my glasses and how cute they are – but the second they are off, without realizing the ONLY difference is I am not wearing glasses, people compliment me on my appearance.

It’s pure vanity.

Today, a new eye doctor is having me try some new contacts – and they feel a lot better and more “cooperative with dry, Colorado air,” than my last pair…but a whole new vanity issue has arisen.

I can’t see things close up.

This isn’t a problem without my contacts.  It’s not a problem in glasses.  With contacts, however, I cannot see close up very well at all.  The reason?  My eyes are getting old.  Most people don’t have this problem until they are in their forties, but lucky me, I am starting early.

A conundrum in my extremely privileged life, I know.

But this wasn’t a problem when I was younger.

I must continue to remind myself that with the gift of age comes special circumstances.  Circumstances that some will never be able to experience.  Even bad eyes are a gift – that they open and can see at all is a miracle I too often take for granted.

I am resolved to stop worrying about how I look with or without glasses – and do what I can to see the best in order to work and play and be with my family – even if it means putting contacts in while I play, and glasses on to work – and I’ll do my best to remember that God has blessed me with the ability to do so.

Single Dad

Recently, while binge watching a favorite show on Hulu, I’ve seen a Mass Mutual commercial run at least twice each show – which in a day adds up to me having seen this thing a bazillion times.  A bad thing, since I HATE what this commercial is saying about gender roles.

  Click here to see commercial
The dad talks about how knows so much about “girl” things because he’s raising two girls on his own.  Now, let me say, that when you’ve lost a spouse for whatever reason, and are raising your kids alone, it is sad.  It is difficult to watch your kids grow without your partner – I am not trying to say it isn’t.   What frustrates me about this commercial isn’t how sad he is – but what he’s sad about.

He seems to be sad about being an expert in softball, tea parties, and princesses.  He knows so much about this because the “appropriate” parent, their mother, is not present.  Because if she WAS present, he’d be off doing his solitary “man” activities like he should be – or taking these girls hunting, or to a more man-friendly sport, like football.  Or, because if he had boys, it wouldn’t be sad at all that the mother was gone.  COME ON!

There are many dads with living partners who know about tea parties.  There are many daughters who like to play in the dirt, and care more about superheros than princesses.  This commercial affirms so many gender stereotypes I’m trying so hard to push against – a task I had NO idea I’d be working on at this point in time.  Not only does it purport some old-school gender roles, it completely ignores the many same-gendered parents – is it sad that two moms must figure out how to “properly” raise a boy?

Can’t we find a way to get our media to represent a more progressive world?  A world where men and women   can behave in whatever manner feels right, rather than what the dominant culture dictates?  A world where persons of color star in commercials more than caucasians?  

I truly had no clue when I was growing up that issues of equality would still need fighting or still be so real and in the forefront of our lives – or that a COMMERCIAL would set me on a rant about such things…

To be a Nomad

I’m not sure I was ever a homebody…but I know I always dreamed of living somewhere exciting or fun when I was growing up.

I remember visiting Uptown Minneapolis every year, visiting my aunt and uncle and cousins – their house was beautiful, and the neighborhood was glamorous – everything I felt that my home in small-town, eastern South Dakota was not.

When I decided to get up the courage to move – it was tough.  I left a job I’d known all through college for the romantic ideal of the “big city.”  I was fortunate to have the support of my sister, and my best friend from high school with me – and we adjusted rather well, even though I was ridiculously homesick for my parents – especially at first.

My parents both live within a two hour drive of their parents, and I saw my extended family on a regular basis.  It was hard – at first – to be SO FAR AWAY, and yet, we acclimated to the longer drive, and my parents came to visit on a fairly regular basis – especially once my children showed up.

And then the itch started again.  We had purchased a home in the suburbs – and I couldn’t believe I was going to live somewhere FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE – it felt so stifling, I couldn’t explain why.   Stability in a home is such a value ingrained into my being – and yet, I was ready to go.

Well, we tried to sell the house, and were a victim of the housing bubble of the time.  Our house was worth much less than we paid, and we ended up in forclosure.  A blow to my husband’s and my ego, but nonetheless, an opportunity to start over.

We lived on campus while I finished my classes for my seminary degree, and I loved it.  I loved that we were closer to my sister, I loved that I could walk everywhere I went, and I loved the community that campus housing offers.

The experience  was a bit jarring – I had a few night terrors at first, wondering if I had made the wrong move in giving up on the house – even though we did all we could to make right with the bank – but I adjusted with fairly little issue.  

We then spent the summer living between couches in our friends houses and my parents house in South Dakota – in preparation for our move to Denver, for my internship with a beautiful ELCA congregation out here.  I felt so delighted to be so nomadic – and I couldn’t wait for the next adventure to begin.

I had done so well, I stopped taking my anti-anxiety medication, and was feeling better about life than I ever had before!

Then we arrived in Denver.  The drive was excruciating, and the altitude almost killed my lungs.  I knew I would miss my friends and family, and I was instantly homesick.  Add to that a nagging pain and numbness in my dominant arm, and you can imagine, it was just a rough start.

It took a long time to adjust – thanks to surgery, and a merry-go-round of supervisors – but I eventually settled in. I still missed my family and my many friends back east, but I started to fall in love with my congregation, and find a few local comforts to make my new neighborhood feel like home.

  
And now, it’s almost time to go back.  I was reminded of the crazy feelings of homesickness in a recent visit from my home congregation, and now I’m in the weird position – ready to head home, and not ready to leave.

I’m not likely to struggle as much to adjust to be back in a familiar place, but in anticipation of leaving this place, my church family and friends, my actual family that’s out here, I’m feeling weepy – and I’m beginning to worry that adventure isn’t for me.  It’s painful to leave – but a Pastor’s job is to enter and love fully, and then remove oneself fully – even if we never move, this will be a reality for me.

If this is to be my future, luckily for me, so far I’ve been sent to places filled with wonderful and loving people – it’s better to miss people than the alternative – but it means I’ll have the occasionally tear-jearking dream that wakes me up to cry a little…and when I’m gone, I’ll be able to rest in the comfort that God will be with us all until we meet again!

Holy Agitation…A sermon for Mark 1:29-39

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD..  Isaiah 55:8

This Bible verse never TRULY made sense to me until this year.  Before then, it struck me as annoying.  Yes, I don’t know as much as God, but I thought for sure I was doing Gods will.  I’m finally following this call to ministry, behaving, learning, growing, and trusting deeply in the grace that I knew I needed for every time I inevitably mess up.

I had given up my messy history, I had stopped running from what the Holy Spirit was calling me towards, and I thought my struggles and doubts were over. I mean, I am following God’s plan, aren’t I?

But that’s not the end of learning and growing, is it?  I know the Christian culture of the United States today wants you to feel like your life will be perfect once you “find Jesus” but for those of us lifelong believers, we know it isn’t quite like that.  Life might be better, we may have peace knowing we are saved, forgiven, and be happy with the community, but life isn’t perfect just because you have faith.

I had grown up thinking at some point I would be fully grown up, fully faithful, and settled. I had even hoped maybe God might be more willing to give me a break now that I am pursuing ordained ministry.

I have been sorely disappointed.

As you well know, even beginning the fourth year, this year, of a life newly devoted to Gods will, I have struggled. “Think of the growing you will do,” others keep saying to me, reassuringly.   I know it isn’t charitable, but all I can think is, I HATE THAT I DON’T KNOW IT ALL YET!  I don’t want to grow anymore.  I want to KNOW something already.  Haven’t I been faithful enough? Working enough?

Apparently not.

Had I known all that would change and challenge me in this year here at Bethany, I don’t think I would have come.  I wouldn’t have been brave enough.  I could have gone somewhere safe and familiar, lived out the tasks of internship, checked yet another task off my list, and I would probably   just as good of a pastor.  (Maybe that’s true, maybe it’s not – that’s my cynical voice, but want you to hear it in case that’s the voice that speaks to you.  You are not alone!)

But God had plans for me that were not of this world, but Gods kingdom.  Plans that involved pain, sorrow, loss.

You know. You’ve had a similar story as I did.  We all lost pastoral leaders.  Some of you didn’t have surgery, but the pain and reality of this world and its brokenness was present.  There were deaths. Problems with money, or fights in the family. Someone you hold dear may have had medical issues. You don’t have to be the one having surgery to feel the effects.  Just ask my mom, who spent an inordinate amount on a flight to support my family when I had surgery, or my sister who was here when I got the news I would have surgery, or my father at home wishing he had more time to help alongside my mother, or my wonderful husband, working early hours, and caring for his cranky, impatiently healing wife and two small children, who are lovely, but don’t care that he was tired and had JUST cleaned the kitchen comf Spirit to make us powerugh it.t the church changing, losing members, changing tradit…

This story isn’t meant to discourage you, rather to own the reality we live in.  Jesus promised salvation and eternal life, not sunshine and rainbows every waking moment.

And there WILL be sunshine and rainbows.  Just not perpetually.

In the gospel for today we hear a lot of hope. Jesus is a healing machine.  Goodbye sickness. So long demons. Jesus is here to stay!

But the next morning, Jesus wasn’t to be found.  When they found him and asked him to do more, he said, let’s move on and proclaim the message to more, for that is what I came to do.

At this point, you could say, ouch, Jesus.  Don’t you care about all the sick here?

The answer is yes, of course he did.  But now that these people knew him, they could be the ones passing on the message.  Doing the healing.  Casting out the demons and continuing to proclaim the Gospel.

Does it sound familiar?  We see leaders leave all the time. It feels personally devastating to some of us, anxiety producing to others.  Do they not care about us?  Of course they do.  They are just following a call from a voice that we are all trying to listen to.  Sometimes the voice is loud and clear and easy to follow.  Sometimes the voice is quiet, and takes years to effect change – I know, because it took over 10 years for me to finally listen to the voice encouraging me to become a pastor!

Jesus was moving to the will of God, willing to be molded and shaped into the place and time he was called.  Our leaders are doing the same, being open to the new experiences of life, risking the difficult or uncomfortable to grow, to follow the Holy Spirit.

This life we life does not have a specific date of full actualization.  There’s no time we are fully “grown up”.  I thought as a teenager, that by the time I was 30 I would have my life figured out.  I’d know ALL the things.  I could say those smart phrases my mother said, “Because I’m the grown up and I say so.”  And life would be figured out!

The reality is that now, at 30, my husband and I, though we be the “grown-ups” are continuing to reassess the life we have – continuing to learn, grow, be shaped and molded.  Learning new things about running our household, about raising our children.  In fact, the other day, my husband asked if we should allow ourselves to be punished by our children when WE do something wrong.  “It just doesn’t seem fair, that they have to stand in a corner, and we don’t,” he said.  It was beautiful – his willingness to be vulnerable, grow, and learn alongside his children is just one of the many things that make him an amazing dad – though I did tell him there should be SOMETHING that comes from having a few more years behind you, like only having to say you are sorry if you do something wrong, and not letting your four year old punish you by putting you in the corner.  I’m interested to hear what the boys think of this idea when they are teenagers…

I’m learning – slowly – that it’s not a bad thing that I’m not done growing.  The Holy Spirit is still working in me, molding me like a lump of clay, and I’ll be learning until the day I die – and who knows, maybe even in the hereafter!

I spent a few days this past week in a seminar hearing about the church changing, losing members, changing tradition, and even though I do not believe God causes the mess or the suffering, I think God is moving and working through it.  Does it make us nervous?  Yes.  Does it sometimes hurt to go through this change?  My goodness, yes.  Can we still have a positive outcome?  It can, if we remember to invite the Holy Spirit into our process, even if only to say, My God, my God, why have you forsaken me, as Jesus did in his suffering on the cross.  God is a God who understands our suffering, and is there.

God isn’t sending the Holy Spirit to make us powerful and comfortable and at some point, perfect.  There isn’t a date when the timer goes “ding” and we are done.  We will always be growing and changing in life, in our faith, and hopefully, even in the parts that are messy and painful, we can remain open to what God is doing in this, for us.

I return to the text from Isaiah – but with a new translation.  Rather than feeling like our plans are not good enough, as the first version made me feel, this new translation gives hope in the promise that God is bigger than what we could imagine, and has plans for us that we will prosper, if only we can wait out the mess.  The new living translation says, “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.”  Isn’t that better?  One step further – we know that there’s something new and beautiful coming out of this.  We do not need to cling to what we KNEW as the best, because different and new, that growth is new life, from God.  Isaiah 43:18-19:  Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old.  I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?  I will make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.”  One of the many promises of God, to help us forge a way, even in the hopeless, even in the times we think it will never be as good as it once was.  It might have been easier in the past, but there is always hope in the future!

Remember when I said I am not sure I would have come to Bethany had I known how difficult this year would have been for me? Rather than cling to the past that was so comfortable, or the “easy” internship I may have had elsewhere, I am grateful God was working in this place.

I can’t imagine having missed out on this community.  You, members of Bethany, have been so supportive and loving – and I would have missed ALL of that if I wouldn’t have been here.  There’s a reason I didn’t know things would be tough before I came, God had plans for me to learn here, in this time, to know YOU, to be loved by YOU, and I thank God for that.

Those voices saying, “think of how much you’ll grow” were right!  I didn’t have to like it – but there was the Holy Spirit, molding me into something new, to continue to be in this place, living out the mission of God.

So remember, in those moments where you feel God has forsaken you, agitated by what lies before you, that indeed God is right beside you, thanks to the Holy Spirit gifted to you in baptism through the death and resurrection in Christ.  This agitation is not merely an instrument to frustrate you, rather, a stirring of the Holy Spirit in your life to refresh you, and help you learn and grow.

You are a loved child of God, fearfully and wonderfully made, but certainly not done growing and being renewed, thanks be to God.

Week after surgery

As you may have seen from my prior post, the first few days after surgery were not the easiest.  It’s still not easy, but I’m seeing a light at the end of the tunnel that gives me hope for the near future.  “All I want for Christmas is to not wear a neck brace…”

I’ve been in the office this week, mostly half days, but it’s been wonderful to be out of the house and seeing people – always gives me energy!  I’m still taking it very easy, and I’m lucky Marty is willing to do so much with the boys and around the house, because I’m not supposed to lift, and with the collar, I can’t even turn to look and see if a kid is safe with the right timing.  Argh!

I learned Wednesday that I had been misinformed in the hospital – I don’t need to wear the collar at night.  I had been wearing it 24/7 – stiff, uncomfortable, and very paranoid if it wasn’t just right, what could I be doing to negatively affect my healing.  The provider reassured me the collar is there to keep me from going wild, but that I was allowed to move my head slowly, and indeed do not have to sleep in it.  Last night was the first night I didn’t sleep in it, and let me tell you what, I haven’t felt better than this morning in a long time!  The pain I experience now is almost exclusively in my shoulders, and it’s from wearing the collar.  It’s goofy that the incision doesn’t hurt the most, but I suppose it’s not seeing too much action thanks to the collar.

I’ve allowed myself to take it off to eat my lunch and to talk in a meeting earlier.  I figure if I’m seated and stable, I won’t do anything “Crazy” as they mentioned in that phone call.

Tossed aside my brace for lunch in my office.  Admire the smiley faces in the background...:)

Tossed aside my brace for lunch in my office. Admire the smiley faces in the background…:)

If I get out of a chair, it’s back on – I am dedicated to keeping my new neck hardware stable in case of impact, but I must say it’s relieving to know it’s stable enough to hold my head up without the brace.  Maybe I was naive or stupid, but I was convinced my head being upright was based on that thing…terrifying.  Incidentally, it will always be on when the boys are around – at 2 and 4, they just aren’t able to remember that mom’s neck is hurt, and hitting her or bumping her might be catastrophic…too much pressure, best to just wear at all times around them.  And I’m willing, thanks to the break I get when I sleep.

My voice sounds mostly normal in regular speech -but my upper register is still missing, as well as any kind of volume – I notice that the most with my children or if I try to sing.  I’m hopeful this will be better, too, soon enough, but for now I’m relegated to hearing music sung for me, and doing my best to wait for quiet moments to speak, so I can be heard.

I’ve been grateful for the care and kindness I have received from everyone – near and far – during this time of recovery, and I hope it continues to trend upward in these coming weeks and to be back to normal, and caring for others.  I’m also amazed at what the medical field is capable of, and immensely grateful that my arms are starting to feel their age again!  It has been worth the pain and frustration if only for that improvement.

Thanks for your care, words of comfort and actions of love.  I feel more blessed than I can say.

Post surgical thoughts…(Warning, vomit is mentioned.)

I just had surgery on a herniated disc in my neck (Between c5 and c6 for those of you who know what it means) and I’m home, healing, with strict instructions not to move my neck at all.  That’s hard, considering a few things happening at my house…

1. I don’t have an adjustable hospital bed, or a tv at the right height that keeps me from needing to bend my head to see it.

2.  Pain meds make me vomit, apparently.  I’m guessing I didn’t hold my head still during that escapade.  PS, when the last thing you have eaten was tomato sauce, it’s scary to throw up, because, you know, it’s red – OH MY GOSH is that BLOOD?  Nothing like examining your own puke a little closer…

3.  Am I wearing this brace right?  I mean, I’m holding my neck still as much as I can, but is this the right way?  I don’t want to heal with my neck crooked – and I really don’t want more surgery to fix something I didn’t realize was wrong… STRESS!

4.  In this house, bouncing children exist.  Sometimes they climb on the couch behind me, and extremities fly in directions that even they can’t control…telling them to get away form mommy seems mean, so she hasn’t done it yet…

5. A neck brace for the shower doesn’t mean it will be easier to clean yourself with it.  In fact, it will be harder.  I’m not sure I’ll have fully clean hair or neck for the four weeks I’m required to wear this thing.  Good thing my job requires me to hide in an office and never see people…oh wait.

6.  This neck brace is itchy.  Apparently my neck skin is used to breathing and would like to continue to do so.  My doctor said it’s not a rash, so I’m stuck being itchy.

7.  This neck brace looks terrible.  I can’t talk well in it, and when people see me – EVEN strangers – they automatically put on a pity face and ask if I’m ok, and sometimes a slough of personal medical questions – “How long do you have to wear that thing?”  I have wanted to offer caring to strangers in my past.  I’m done.

8.  They pushed my esophagus and throat aside to operate.  It hurts to swallow and cough, things that happen without thought…boo.  Makes me wish I was a biological scientist and was able to find a way to get this procedure done without needing to make any incisions or moving anything aside…yargh.

9.  My arms are no longer numb.  It’s insane.  I’m not sure how well they are doing as I’m not supposed to lift more than 5 pounds, but still!  It’s amazing – they could  go into my neck while monitoring nerves in all my extremeties, and remove a herniated disk – it’s got a job, but they can just take it out, and upon finding additional disk apart from the original piece, realize it was indeed serious enough to get rid of this way, and put in some titanium, that was sized in the OR WHILE I was open, and then SCREW it into my bones, sew me back up, and all I have to do for four weeks is wear a brace.  Kind of amazing, even though I’m sore and salty – this will be over soon enough, and I’ll have a fairly functional neck and fully functional arms.  Amazing!

Ok, I’ll be fine.  I will continue to bored blog, 1108141021be warned…

Not speaking well…

I’ve long been worried about Royce’s speech – or lack, thereof.  He’s an intelligent boy – he can take most things apart and put them back together like no one his age should be able to muster, but if you put him in a room with a group of kids his age, it’s clear, he doesn’t sound the same.

The first day I picked Royce up, he didn’t have many words to say – even though his emotions and non-verbal communications were clear to me.  Other children asked me about a million questions about the wrist brace I wore, “Why do you have that?” and weren’t satisfied with a pat answer, “Well what does it do?” they continued to ask, in a conversational tone I am just not used to at my house.

While I know Royce is smart – very smart – I know his verbal skills need help.  We had a check-up today, in which a doctor was FINALLY willing to admit he needs help, and recommend us a place to go.  I’m hopeful this screening gives us answers as to what is going on in his brain, and how we can best help him communicate with us and with others.  I look forward to the journey, even if it’s not a “traditional,” or “Normal” road.  Royce is a beautiful soul with many gifts and I look forward to helping him excel!

I was discouraged to hear that the doctor also thought my two-year-old, Arthur, is also behind in speech.  Comparatively, Arthur has many more words than Royce did at his age, and I wasn’t even worried about it.  Now, I wonder if I’ve been missing something, some warning sign – and it feels terrible.

It’s hard to be a parent.  There’s the agony and pain of pregnancy and childbirth, the sleepless nights of infancy, the mess and craziness of toddler years, and now, for us anyways, the pain of cognitive development not matching the “national standards”.  I’m hopeful our boys won’t spend too much time struggling, and we can help them thrive.  I’m hopeful I can focus on the beauty and joy both boys bring to our lives, rather than the struggles I  know most parents go through.

One thing I know for certain is I love them and I will do whatever I can to make sure they have happy and fulfilling lives.  They are beautiful children, created by God in his image, and I’m grateful for the gift they are in my life!

Where did Stef go?

It’s been quite some time since I posted last – those who know me personally know why!  Since my last post, my younger sister was married, my family and I packed up and moved to Colorado, and I started my internship at a wonderful church in Denver.

It was a tough transition – not the sister getting married part – I knew Charles was “the one” for Tracie since before I met him – the move to Denver is what I’m referring to.  Transition has always been tough for me, and it started in elementary school.  We moved to a new town for an awesome job opportunity for my dad, and it took me years to be fully adjusted.  I never felt like I fit at the new school, and though I had a few friends, my first few years there were spent being chanted at about what a dog I was, how dorky I was, you name it.  I’ve used the word tortured to describe some of the experience, a word which some have jumped upon.  I was nine when we moved, and this place wasn’t the kind of place that was used to new faces and new, loudmouthed young women.  It made an impression on me – change is bad, and somehow, my personality is offensive.  It’s a couple of damaging messages that I’ve spent years trying to overcome.  I’ll let you know when I’m done…:)

Anyways, I spent the first week at home with some family members that helped us move in.  I was grateful for the support but really feeling poorly about the separation from a life and a home I knew and loved.  The move from my college town to the Twin Cities was easy – I knew the place, I had my friends and family there, and I’d always felt like it was home.  Denver was different.  I didn’t know anything about anything, and though I have family and a few friends that just moved here, I felt incredibly lonely and forlorn.

Luckily for me, the church I’m interning at is large, busy, and filled with wonderful people who are very supportive.  This place KNOWS how to do an internship – they know how to welcome and support, and I’m grateful to have this crowd with me!  However, this place is also going through some major transitions – in the past six months, they’ve had several retirements as well as pastoral staff taking new calls – we currently have an interim pastor, and our associate will be gone in exactly one month from today.  It’s tough on them, and it’s tough on me.  I started with one supervisor, found out after I got the news I was going to Bethany I’d get a different supervisor, and a month in have news that I’ll have yet another supervisor.  This new one is the interim, and he’s promised that I’ll have a new supervisor again, since he hopes we have the permanent senior pastor starting sooner rather than later.  Talk about transition for a girl who struggles with it!  ACK!

I feel fairly confident God has a plan in what is being laid before me – and I know I will learn and grow through out it all.  I know this congregation is prepared to care for my learning, and I will be supported as these transitions take place. This system is set up in such a way that one person does not carry it through – there is a team of staff, ministers and lay leaders that are capable and I have high hope for what the future holds for this congregation.

Therapeutic Complaining…

It’s always been hard for me to have any sort of negative feelings.  I mean, they are there, but it’s been hard to own them. I have always lived in the Midwest, the land of making sure nobody rocks the boat or ever questions anything.  As a rather full-of-fire, go-against-the-norm kind of person, it’s hard to be located here.

Here’s the thing: I need to process my negative feelings.  I get frustrated, and I feel hurt, and I get scared.  I’d grown up thinking that there was something seriously wrong with me because of this – so many people seemed so calm, so with it, and just plain ok all the time – how did they do that?

If I brought up something that bugged me, I’d be chastised – other people have it so much worse, “what gives YOU the right to complain?”  So I’d be left alone in a shame bubble – I’m clearly the WORST person ever because I feel the need to bring up when something upset me.  

It was not the only cause, but I know it’s a source of my problems with anxiety and depression.  Rather than be able to vent out my negative thoughts, I’d feel compelled to hold them in, as I’ve seen so many do, and I spiraled into a ball of emotional anguish and self-loathing. “Why can’t you just be ok with what’s going on?  Why can’t you stop feeling angry/sad/anxious?  What the **** is wrong with you?”  I could be pretty horrible to myself at times…

As I’ve been in therapy, and exploring my psyche along with my theology, I’ve learned a lot about myself.  One big thing about me?  I need to process – good and bad – externally.  This means I have to talk things out to process them.  Talking about negative things is not the end of the world as I had been led to believe, just a means of working through them in my own head.  The big problem with this is that others are not always comfortable with my desire to discuss things, no matter how negative – they think it sounds selfish, or annoying – which might be true, especially if they don’t allow themselves this venting!

I have always wanted to please the entire world, and have everyone think well of me.  It’s perhaps the biggest sin that I’ve got – it puts a big wedge between what I should be doing in light of my call, for God’s plan for me, and even my self-care.  If I believe that EVERYONE is a beautiful creation of God, made in the image of God, I must trust that I am, too.  I am not a demure, quiet, always happy person.  I’m not a private person, either.  I need to talk about what bugs me.  This has to be ok for me to function properly…This does not mean I need to be a jerk – I must process feelings in a way that honors not only me but others.  There will be times when it’s appropriate to share publicly, and times that I can only talk privately with trusted family and friends.  I will try not to be a burden to you with this, but I do hope that others can understand that I do need to process…

What, may you ask, does this matter to you?  It matters that you know that no matter what, I’m an ear to listen when you have to talk about something that bugs you.  I’ll ask you to take care of feelings and such while you do it -but I’m a hard core believer in the fact that you need to talk through (or think through to those of you internal processors!) what bugs you.  Let yourself be mad, let yourself hurt, and know that it WILL get better.

 

What’s wrong with this picture?

Today I had another appointment to have my neck worked on after an accident.
I’ve had a terrible neck since I was young – and this accident has re-wrecked it.
I’m also trying to work on my posture – which in this photo, you can see is just terrible.

Note the hunched nature of shoulders and forward position of head

Note the hunched nature of shoulders and forward position of head

While talking with the chiropractor, he pointed to the fact that the exercises were about posture, and I said when I showed my family how I should be standing, they made fun of me for looking like I was sticking my boobs out.

He said that it’s a real problem for girls – posture turns to garbage once they start to develop. He told me it isn’t even the fact that they cause stress due to heavier weight – it’s that girls are ashamed of their bodies and are slouching to hide their breasts.

I was immediately enraged – I knew he was right!
What I wonder is, why should they be ashamed of their bodies? I appreciate modesty to an extent – please dress in a way that your grandma would be able to look at you without grimacing, but why should a young woman have to feel ashamed about a part of her adulthood? Why can’t she stand up tall and proud without worry of leering eyes or judgement from her peers?

Stand up, ladies – be proud of your God created beauty, and do your best to ignore judgmental or leering glances – you are a loved child of God, and your body – your spine – shouldn’t have to suffer because of a societal judgment!