2.28.2011

KILLERS!

Pete and I were sitting at home last week and there was a knock on the door around 7 or 8pm.
I made Pete get up to answer, because he's in charge of taking care of the killers and I'm in charge of the spiders....and let's face it, the likelihood that a spider was knocking on the front door was slim to none.
I heard a voice ask if Pete was the owner of the home and dang it I had to get off the sofa anyway, I hoped this wasn't some sort of killer trick.

There was a young woman at the door with a clipboard and other people in her same outfit with clipboards wandering up and down the street in front of my house. So of course, I thought KILLER KILLER KILLER!
She basically said that :insertcontractingcompanyhere: had just finished some work in my neighborhood and wanted to know if they could provide me with a free estimate for anything from roofing, siding or room remodel work.
I said no, thank you and shut the door firmly. Then I went through and made sure all the doors and windows were locked. (Ok, maybe not the last one....but probably because Pete was there and I was too embarrassed to be that paranoid in front of anyone.) But I had (fortunately or unfortunately) just read an article about thieves disguising themselves as contractors/handymen/women that try to get in your door by "cold-calling", casing the joint and then unlocking doors or windows to come back and rob/attack the homeowners later.

Nice story right? A little funny Bethany paranoia and strangers roaming the streets at night, hilarious! Except.....


The next night we were at Sharen's and there was a knock on the door and THE SAME WOMAN was standing on their step saying they had just finished work in HER neighborhood and wondered if they would like free estimates for anything. THE SAME WOMAN! MILES AWAY! AHHH! KILLERS KILLERS KILLERS!

Pete was at Sharen's too and said it would have been hilarious had I whipped open the door and started screaming at her about stalking me and how I moved just to get away from her and then she showed up HERE! Which would have been funny, but I just didn't have the energy.

2.25.2011

Look at You

The therapist asked me as part of our "getting to know me" survey how I felt about my body. I didn't even blink when I said, "Hate it."
She asked what my eating habits were. I said, "Out of control"
I stopped myself from getting a Hostess Cupcake out of the vending machine the other day because I went to the bathroom first and saw myself in the mirror.
I thought, I should only ever eat in front of a mirror.

I know it's not the food. I know that it's me and my brokenness. I'm finding this body image/weight thing is far more of a spiritual issue than anything else.

But still I eat. I eat when I'm hungry, I eat when I'm bored, I eat because there's food in front of me or when it's time to eat. I eat when other people eat, I eat in secret in my car and when I'm home alone.

If my body is supposed to be a temple then my body is in serious disrepair.

I mean, it's not a new issue. But it's a huge issue, because I feel huge.
There is shame attached to almost every aspect of my physical life and I just can't shake it. I feel isolated and alone in it. It's made worse when well intended loving people try to talk to me about it. Because while I might be a little sniffly but mostly calm on the outside inside I'm running around in circles desperately looking for a way out of this conversation. Instead of hearing the words "I love you and want you around for a long time" I'm hearing the words, "You're disgusting. I can't even look at you. How could you be so hideous and repulsive"
I can't even hear you anymore those words get so big and loud in my head.

I'm slowly but surely removing myself from video and photographic history because of how much I hate my body...then to add salt to an already seeping wound I feel so left out and invisible because I"m not in videos or pictures. Sometimes I feel like I just can't win.

It's a confusing hot mess in my head and heart right now and I feel all jumpy and exposed. I'm tired so easily because it is taking a lot of energy to stretch towards mental and physical health when I've had 31 1/2 years to learn thought and behavior patterns that are trying to kill me (melodrama much?).

It's definitely one of the things on the therapy docket, because I am clearly not able to take care of this by myself.

Now...where did I put that pizza?

2.24.2011

Focus

I can easily get stuck in a rut of focusing on that which I have lost. That which I do not have. It seems that once it starts it eats through my focus and creates a mindset where I just can't see anything else.
But then I wonder, if shutting down the way I have time and time again to numb myself to these losses is any healthier.
I'm working on a balance between the two and also figuring out what healthy grief and emotions even look like.
Losses do that. One life-loss can infect the whole of life. Like a rash that wears through our days, our sight becomes peppered with black voids. Now everywhere we look, we only see all that isn't: holes, lack, deficiency.
- Ann Voskamp "One Thousand Gifts"

2.23.2011

Hollow Motions

For years of mornings, I have woken wanting to die. Life itself twists into nightmare. For years, I have pulled the covers up over my head, dreading to begin another day I'd be bound to just wreck. Years, I lie listening to the taunts of names ringing off my interior walls, ones from the past that never drifted far and away: Loser. Mess. Failure. They are signs nailed overhead, nailed through me, naming me.

The stars are blinking out.

Funny, this. Yesterday morning, the morning before, all these mornings, I wake to the discontent of life in my skin. I wake to the self-hatred. To the wrestle to get it all done, the relentless anxiety that I am failing. Always, the failing. I yell at children, festering with bitterness, forget doctor appointments, lose library books, I live selfishly, skip prayer, complain, go to bed too late, neglect cleaning the toilets. I live tired. Afraid. Weary. Years, I feel it in the veins the pulsing of cultures hopes. Would I ever be enough, find enough, do enough? But this morning, I wake wildly wanting to live. Physically feeling it in the veins trembling, the hard pant of the lungs, the seeing it in steady stats, how much I really want to really live,. How I don't want to die. Is that the message of nightmares and dreams? To live either fully alive...or in empty nothingness?

It's the in between, the days of walking lifeless, the years calloused and simply going through the hollow motions, the self-protecting by self-distracting, the body never waking, that's lost all capacity to full feel- this is the life in between that makes us the wildly walking dead.

- Ann Voskamp "One Thousand Gifts"

2.22.2011

Blind & Deaf World

I was sitting in the plastic chair reading my book. Waiting for the oil to be changed and the tires to be rotated.
Then the old man came limping in.
I at first thought he was dirty, but I think he was just old.
Do you know what I mean?
The old where all the dirt and debris of a long life has settled into the folds of your face and hands so there's a film of living laying over you.
He had a gruff voice and a red handkerchief hanging out of his back pocket. There were pens in the shirt pocket and an old farming cap on his head, slightly crooked.

The man behind the counter was kind. He smiled with his eyes and listened to the old man rattle on and on about his car. How he can still get down to work on it himself, it's just the getting up that's a bit hard nowadays.The man behind the counter said he could squeeze him in if he wanted to get his car checked out right away.
The old man said no, he had groceries in his car and he should probably head on home to get them put away. But he said, "I'll probably pop back in tomorrow if that's ok with you."
The kind man behind the counter said, "Anytime, sir."
Taking a good chunk of time to do so, the old man shuffled back out of the waiting room.

It made me tear up a little. Because we just don't treat each other that way anymore.
I don't treat people like that as often as I should.

See, I'm fairly certain old man was just lonely. Probably no family, or no family that can come around as often as he likes. Maybe he was a recovering jerk. Maybe he had been a cruel person in his youth and now no one will come around that believes he's worth a second glance. I don't know. But the kind man behind the counter who probably had several other things to do didn't hurry him along, he didn't sigh and roll his eyes when he thought the old man wasn't looking. He smiled with his eyes and he talked with the man, letting him be heard.

I was reminded in the waiting room that smelled like oil and grease that sometimes, kindness and even grace is just letting the lonely have a place to be seen and heard in a blind and deaf world.

2.21.2011

2.18.2011

Validation

I don't know that I'm going to write about therapy a lot but I wanted to write this.
I have no idea how to wear validation.

I have struggled for a long time trying to minimize things that have shattered me. Because they were just these silly things that happened; it never occurred to me that if they were really silly I would have moved on years ago.
I have silenced my voice and confined my grief to behind closed doors. Because it never occurred to me that anyone would stick around or care to hear anything. I was after all just a petulant bad girl. Who could possibly care?
I have medicated myself with boys, food, alcohol and sarcasm and I have numbed myself so deeply I couldn't figure out how to ever feel anything again. Because it's not safe. It's scary and people go away and are never who they say they are anyway.
I have placed blame on shoulders that, while they hurt me deeply, the offense was not proportionate to the rage I applied to them. Because I have practiced saying it's no big deal for decades, and how could I break the news to those I tried to convince it was ok that it was not, in fact, ok at all?

Then I broke. It was too much. Being back there in that town. Seeing those places again and feeling let down and unimportant was too much. Even now, it's just too much.
I was already cracked and being tenuously held together by an intricate facade of  sarcasm and practiced deflection and the straw, that last straw, it was just too much.

I couldn't explain what happened. Even I could see the punishment wasn't fitting the crime. But I just kept breaking. Over and over in small cuts with every breath I was being shredded and I could no longer stand. I felt like I had to justify it, that when you looked at it up close it seems like just a silly little white girl drama being played out. But it was more and I felt so invalid in my panic and pain.

But at my first meeting with my therapist I felt validated. In the green room with a woman I'd never met and was frankly a little terrified of, I felt safe. She felt soft to me. She gave words to the tatters I presented to her in my tear soaked hands and she validated my feelings in a way I never thought of before. She gave name to the behaviors of grown ups that she said should have been better and she didn't dismiss the depth of the scars they had left.
It was like a long, deep breath of hope.

I went in prepared for there to be at least 6 weeks between appointments because of scheduling issues and she said no. She said I shouldn't have to wait and she made a choice that had to be inconvenient to her because it was best for me and it was refreshing to feel her take my seriously. It was startling to feel important enough to have someone go to that much trouble.


I spent the next day walking around in a cloud. Exhausted from feeling so much, and then talking about and also just sort of dumb struck because I have no idea how to wear validation.

2.17.2011

Guilty

There's been a pretty huge news story in Cincinnati for the last several years. This guy has been on trial 3 times for the death of his wife. I don't know much about the trials. I think the first two juries were hung and the third jury found him guilty of murder yesterday.
I cried.
Not because I knew anything about the trial. Not because I have a strong opinion about the case or the justice system in general. But because I just felt how broken the world is right now at this very moment.

Because this woman is still dead. The families are torn apart and devastated and that my friends is a fact that won't ever change. Does it bring solace to the family that what they perceive (and may actually be...I don't know) to be justice has been served? Do they miss her less?
I would say no.

I was wound up tight about my first appointment with the therapist and I was wound up tighter about other scary things happening but I still was just so devastated at how broken and imperfect this world is; how I longed for Heaven.

I don't have any answers. But I know that I am guilty too. Not of murder. But of causing devastation and of breaking relationships apart; I'm guilty of jealousy and anger and all sorts of other things and I long for Heaven.

2.16.2011

My Beloved

It was one of those days. When every breath seemed forced, when every limb felt heavy. The very day itself seemed to be pressing down on me.
I didn't feel brave.
I didn't feel safe.
Everything just felt hard.

It was a busy day, lots of things on my to do list, not a lot checked off at the end of the day. My mind was traipsing through what ifs and maybe for some things coming up that I'm feeling anxious about and it was just a lot.

I left work on time, ran to pick up something from my seester and then headed back to the dog sitting house.
I was overcome by the desire to go to Target. So I went to Target. I wandered for almost 30 or 45 minutes just picking things up, putting them in the cart, putting them back.
I looked up once and was startled to see I was still in Target. That's when I just left the cart where I was standing and walked out.
Then I got outside and I just stood outside the doors trying to figure out what to do next.

I mean, clearly the answer was to go to the dog sitting house. But I just felt so lost. Lost in the middle of small choices that feel so big.
I want to ask people to assure me they won't leave, that they won't forget me when I hide. But I'm too afraid to hear that the answer isn't a guaranteed "we won't"
I want to be reassured that I can trust you, that you won't one day say "just kidding" and become an opposite version of yourself then the one I'd known.
But I know it's not possible; and it makes it very chaotic in my head and heart.

I want to ask you for help, but can't think of what specifically I need you to help me with.

I ache to be known, but fear letting you in because I won't measure up (and neither will you)

Then I came home. I read her beloved list and I remember. I come splashing up through the surface of the loss I'm drowning in and I gasp, drawing in any air I can.
I remember that  He knows me.
He already knows I don't measure up and He pursues my broken and dirty heart anyway.
I remember that He is everything I have always hoped for and nothing I ever expected Him to be.

He holds me gently.
He reassures me that He can be trusted. He won't forget me. He won't one day say "just kidding" and become an opposite version of Himself.
His character is constant.
His goodness has been proven.
He fights for my tattered and suspicious heart even when I try to hide it from Him.

He is my beloved; and I am His.

Inspired by her Beloved List.
Love of my life
Look deep in my eyes
There you will find what you need
Give me your life
Lust and the lies
The past you're afraid I might see
You've been running away from me

You're my beloved
Lover I'm yours
Death shall not part us
It's you I died for
For better or worse
Forever we'll be
Our Love it unites us
It binds you to me
It's a mystery 
- 'Beloved ' Tenth Avenue North

2.15.2011

Loser, baby

I love The Biggest Loser.
There is a guy on this year whose abdomen hangs down to his knee caps. He weighed in at the beginning at over 600 lbs. He ate a large pizza as an appetizer every night. (I mean, he didn't even have to order, the pizza place just brought it to him)
His team has worked the last few weeks to keep him safe. To keep him on the ranch because he needs to be on the ranch.

Then, last week there was a temptation challenge. Each person was able to go into a room filled with chocolate and had 3 minutes to decide if they were going to eat any or not. The person that ate the most chocolate pieces was able to rearrange the teams by swapping 2 people on one team to the other.

Phillip, who weighed in over 600 lbs and was on a ranch to lose weight at 35 pieces of chocolate. He literally was elongating his throat and utilizing competitive eating tools he ate 35 pieces of chocolate.

Then, he moved the 2 strongest people off of his team in exchange for the 2 weakest people on the other team. Because he wanted "sacrificial lambs" to throw off the show to save his dad and himself.
Now, the decision was confidential. The teammates were never going to find out that he made this decision.
Yet after the switch was made. After the announcement he said he wanted to explain himself. Then he went on to explain that he was sacrificing these two people from the other team to keep he and his dad safe.

Needless to say, it was dramatic.

But then, the next day at the gym Jillian and Bob walk in. They realize there are new people on the team and ask what happened. Phillip explains, others chime in. There's more tears and more shouting.
Then....everything gets quiet.
Phillip says that he just didn't trust the people that he move to the other team and he needed to protect himself and his dad.
After a few more moments of silence Jillian says:
"What you've created now, is the very thing that you were afraid of..."

She also says:
"In fearing that situation and not trusting in your ability you're now in a situation that is the very thing that you feared"

Then Jillian went on to say: 
"You knew the plan. You knew the plan that we had for you, and now everything that we've set up for you...in one foul swoop you destroyed everything we planned for you. I think you were feeling afraid. You were trying to protect you and your dad."

Phillip replied, "But I was just trying to save everybody"

I mean, ya'll. I just started crying. Flat out.
I don't mean to be all Jesus freaky but if that wasn't a summary of the sin in my life I don't know what is.
I get so afraid. So terrified of being left, being abandoned, being ignored, left out and cast aside that I panic and try to manipulate and create the very situation that I've been afraid of, and worse yet...I often do it under the guise of trying to protect people.
Because I don't trust the plan that God has for me. Because I don't know what it is, and you can't control something you don't know about.
Because I'm afraid that he'll forget me and cast me aside like so many others have and I try to manipulate God.
Like Phillip I can see from this standing back and taking a deep breath that that is just one of the most ridiculous things I've ever thought...that I can manipulate GOD.

I just had to share. Because I'm still reeling at the truth God showed me through something as silly as The Biggest Loser.

2.14.2011

This Redeemed Life

Sometime over last summer my face changed. It began to break out and became simultaneously sopping wet with grease and so dry it was itchy all the time. Deeply painful acne popped up along my jawline and in the plumped out circles of my cheeks. My forehead was spotted and shiny and nothing I did could stop it.
I changed my face wash. I changed my makeup. I baked in the sun and stood in steaming showers.
But nothing helped.

I was marked.
I felt hideous.

Habits of laying my head on my hand at night had to be broken, because the dirty film covering my hands even after washing them (and the grease from lotions applied before collapsing into bed) would only aggravate the pores that were screaming in rage.
Even my hair changed. It because greasy and dirty looking. It grew in weirdly sporadic bursts and no matter the cut would seem to either lay slicked back with grease or poofed out completely frizzy and bushy.

I didn't know what to do. I felt unfamiliar in my own face and lost in a pile of poofy hair.
I changed face wash again, back to one 3 face washes ago and it stopped the red itchy bumps but the deep and painful acne was still there. Bumping and throbbing with every pulse of my heart.
I changed shampoos, to a non-sulfate brand that seems to help still. Although, I have to be vigilant about the conditioner/hair ratio.
I cut my long layers to shorter than I would have preferred, but am willing to push through to forgo the accidental bushy mullet that was taking over my scalp.

But I also began to avoid mirrors.
I avoided windows and even the darkened screen of computers and smart phones for fear of catching a glimpse of what felt like a grotesque version of a person I once thought I was.

I struggled to keep making good food choices, and to be honest I struggled to continue to make good life choices.
I was (am) stuck in this mire of self-loathing and loath(ed) myself even more for being stupid enough to be stuck there.

There are days that I feel like I'm coming out of this cycle. But there are also days that I make a choice every day to get out of bed.

I just feel so out of place.
Out of place in my own body.
Out of sorts in years and decades old relationships that were cruising along just fine.
I feel like I don't even recognize the face I see in the mirror and that the eyes reflecting back at me must surely belong to someone else.
So I stop looking in mirrors.
So I stop calling friends.
So I hold on and nurture hurt that while it was justified in the beginning has grown into something so big I can't see the edges of it anymore.
So I disconnect.
I put on my "everything's fine" face and I do what needs to be done.

And occasionally, I'll gulp down some fresh air. Occasionally I'll believe you when you say you love me and want me around. Occasionally I'll look in the mirror and feel startled by the recognition of the person staring back at me.
Occasionally is enough for now. Enough until tomorrow when I meet for help the first time. Enough until tomorrow when I wake up with mercies that He has promised are new every morning. Enough until I feel back in place, or back in a place that isn't as scary and riddled with fear and panic as this place is right now.

My face is still different, and I don't think it will ever be back to what it was before. Because I've panicked and pick pick picked at the deep and painful acne. I've panicked and picked at the deep and painful aches that I've shoved down for so long. And there are scars that may never go away. There are marks that may just be part of what I am from here forward. But I'm moving forward anyway, hoping that the scars will become part of the beauty of this redeemed life

2.11.2011

Green Eyed

There are moments when your own brokenness and damage come clearly into light.
Moments when something finally clicks in your head and even though you weren't the only one in the wrong that you were in fact wrong.
Moments when the crushing realization that the motives behind your actions, your words, your anger and your hurt are not from a pure innocent place; but from a place of deep jealousy and insecurity.

I don't know about you. But I hate those moments.
Worse yet, those moments make it so much harder for me to offer grace.

Because I've been seething for a long time. But I've been jealous for even longer.
Jealous of the time spent.
Jealous of the easy, casual laughter that I am not a part of by simple geographic fact.
Jealous of things I don't even know are true, just that the green-eyed monster is telling me they are.
Jealous to the point that I wish bad things, that I wish for failure, and defeat.

I want to cut these parts out of me.
They hurt my heart.
You hurt my heart, but this hurts it too.
I find the fascinating thing is that in discovering my own mistakes, I become more open to offering you grace for yours.

2.10.2011

Spouses

I literally know one other single person in Cincinnati that I hang out with on any regular basis. I know other single people, but it takes some coordination to hang out with them.
So, as a result the remaining people that I hang out with on any regular basis in Cincinnati are married.

Sometimes I become friends with the couple at the same time.
Sometimes I connect with the wife and the husband comes along for the friendship ride.
Sometimes I connect with the husband first. Either because I met him first or in most cases because he wasn't married at the time I met him.

When that last case happens I seek out the wife and work hard to friend her too. Because the most loving thing I can do for my male married friends is be transparent with their wives so they (the wives) know that I am no threat at all. That I want their marriage to be successful and for it to last a lifetime.

I set conversational boundaries and time boundaries so any friendship I have with a married man is above reproach. Not because I have feelings for them. Not because I am some scheming hussy of a home wrecker. But because again, the kindest and most loving expression of friendship I can give to my married men friends is to honor their wives.

With my married women friends, well it's a little different. I try to encourage them in their marriages. I try to build up their husbands when/if we talk about them. I try to encourage them towards reconciliation when/if they call me upset about an argument and I work really hard to set appropriate conversational boundaries so I don't get drawn into marital strife that riles me up on their behalf, and then I'm never included in the resolution of that strife.

I vacillate between a content and totally prepared to be this way for the rest of my life single girl and a girl with so much relational baggage I can't imagine ever having another new friend let alone a romantic relationship. So sometimes it's really hard for me to be privy to marital strife. Because it makes me feel very lonely and very brittle. The only way I can combat that sometimes is to cheer on my married friends in their relationships, hoping that their success and their making it through will reassure me that sometimes, it's worth it to fight.

2.09.2011

Relevent Singleness

I read this article in my google reader and just nodded along the entire time. With few exceptions this is exactly what I've been trying to say about being single for YEARS.
Read it.
Even if you're not single.
Because it might help you understand your chronically single people better, and let's just say we singles work to understand our married friends so maybe you can work to understand us a little too.

Until I quit dating and decided to pursue celibacy, I’d never actually met a single Christian who was not interested in finding a mate. Have you ever met someone who has chosen singleness? I am not talking about being single as an inevitable state before getting married. Being not-yet-married is not the same as making a conscious decision to forsake the possibility of love and marriage in order to pursue the Lord's work wholeheartedly. I am referring to singleness or celibacy as an act of sacrificial worship, offering one's body as a living sacrifice to God (Romans 12:1-2).

More than five years ago, as a twentysomething, career-oriented woman, I decided to pursue celibacy. My decision was not well thought-out; on the heels of a breakup, I decided to drop out of the dating-and-romance race for one year. As I came to depend more on prayer, Scripture and meditation to exert control over my mind and body, I not only persevered through my new austere life style, but found it to be a profound learning experience. I realized I came to see men as more complex people when there was no possibility that romance could develop. I found I had much more time to devote to my Lord's service without all the excitement of meeting guys, dating them and eventually moving on. Now, not quite six years down this road, I love celibacy. It has been a profound experience of growth and worship. I would be honored if God saw fit to keep me single. On the other hand, I have taken no vow; I am not a nun. If it becomes clear than marriage is right for me, I can live with that too. No matter which path I follow, I will always be an advocate for singleness because I deeply believe that it is part of God's plan.

So, why choose singleness?

There are a couple of direct New Testament references to singleness. Our Lord said: "For some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others were made that way by men; and others have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it" (Matthew 19:12).

While Jesus gave validity to the single life in this passage from Matthew, it was the apostle Paul who explained in detail why singleness can be such a productive lifestyle choice for those who serve God.

"I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord's affairs—how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife— and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord's affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord" (I Corinthians 7: 32-35).

So, are singles part of God's plan? Jesus indicates they are. Why is singleness useful in the Kingdom? Paul explains that following God with reckless abandon requires people to leave behind all earthly attachments that distract them from the Lord's affairs.

These two passages really cut to the heart of me. I do want to offer my whole life to my God's service. I long for my heart to be aligned with His. If remaining single will make me more available for His service, then I can think of no better use of my life.

In the last few years that I have been pursuing celibacy, I have been shocked to hear some of the assumptions people make about single Christian women. No, I don't feel like God owes me a husband and I don't feel disappointed that one has not appeared. No, I don't have trouble getting dates. In fact, I have become an expert at avoiding and/or turning down potential suitors. No, my father wasn't absent or abusive or bad to my mother. He is a good Christian man who has been a faithful, loving husband and father for more than 30 years. And no, I am not angry at men, hiding from men, gay or sexually confused.

Yet I do understand why so many folks need to "explain" my choice. Our culture, both the larger culture and our Western, protestant, church culture, has no place for single women. There are no official channels for women who wish to dedicate their lives to the Lord's service. If a woman chooses to give up the possibility of being a wife and giving birth to children, then that woman must be damaged in some way, right? Truth be told, I do not believe anyone consciously thinks I am damaged. But I do suspect, based on the concerned looks and pitiful glances of the church folk, many of my brothers and sisters think I am settling for a lesser version of God's will, a sadder, lonelier life than what God intended for me. In fact, I am wholeheartedly engaging life, serving my God with loyalties undivided. I feel nothing less than blessed.

Although I love my life, I am making a sacrifice. The idea of spending the rest of my life without sex ... well, that is a hard reality to bear. Also, I admit that, in fits of girlishness, I have indulged in imagining who my perfect match would be—what that big, strong, humble, God-fearing man would be like. I have the occasional weak moment, moments of doubt or frustration.

Neither the pitiful glances nor the moments of doubt have led me to question my decision. Somehow Jesus makes celibacy seem like such a good deal. "'I tell you the truth,' Jesus said to them, 'no one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age and, in the age to come, eternal life'" (Luke 18:29-30). In this life, I choose Jesus and gladly follow His lead wherever we may go. I believe that whatever I give up will be restored to me in ways I cannot possibly fathom. For now, I will continue to pursue celibacy as a spiritual discipline and an act of sacrificial worship, giving cheerfully from what I have to a God who has given me everything.

2.08.2011

Connecting

Lately I've felt totally incapable of human interaction. But I also recognize the giant red flag that is my constant withdrawing from human contact and any form of community.
So color me.....caught..... when our small group winter term launches and I begin looking for the safe bet of a learning group.
I feel comfortable and safe in a learning group. There's a defined topic of conversation and I can "brace" myself for the community that happens there.
It all sounds so sexy doesn't it?

Because sometimes I need to prepare for community. To make sure that all my ragged edges and ugly is contained and neatly tucked away in the darkest part of my heart. Which...yes, I realize is the opposite of what the actual point of community is but whatevs.

As I'm flipping through the group choices I feel that annoying stirring. Most of you know which one I'm talking about.
It whispered...NO learning groups. You need to CONNECT.
Ughalicious

There's this standing apart I feel when I go to learning groups. I can cover myself in learning and studying that while on the surface it seems like I connect with others I don't really. I get to be the sometimes serious but mostly joking/ice breaking person. No one pushes this on me, it's my comfort zone.

But connecting groups. UGH. There is an open end of conversation, there is no one focus for the group other than connecting and having fun.
I mean, I'm sure they're awesome. I hear they're awesome. But I get so stressed about it because how do I plan witty things to say?! How do I know how to behave so I won't be the weird awkward girl?! What if I have to ask where the BATHROOM is?!

Unfortunately, I'm asking for help this year. The thing with asking for help is that I have to DO something. I have to make an effort instead of sitting at home and pouting about :insertanynumberofitemshere:.
So I'm doing something.
I'm signing up for a connecting group.
I'm going to go every time.
I'm going to reach out and connect even though the most casual new acquaintances seem terrifying to me right now.
Because if I evade people long enough I'll have no one left to ask for help.

2.07.2011

10 Things: TV Edition

I cancelled our DirecTv service last week. Here are 10 things I have to say about that.
  1. I was cable free for 5 years and then signed a 2 year contract for satellite. I have had a love/hate relationship with it the entire 2 years
  2. I started trying to talk Pete into canceling satellite a few months ago. Because he was looking forward to tv in the basement finally and I wanted to be fair to him, but I also really wanted to go satellite/cable free again.
  3. I got a Wii for Christmas, in case you haven't picked up on that. We can now stream Netflix through the Wii
  4. I bought a new TV for the living room when the living room murdered my old one. It's HDMI capable so I can hook my computer right to it and watch Hulu for free.
  5. Pete and I haven't watched live television in I can't remember how long (except for last Friday when we both looked at each other and wondered what we do now)
  6. I have lost my last day to reality tv marathons
  7. With conversion boxes and HD antennas I already have we can still see the local/network channels (ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, PBS) for free or a small up front cost of $40 (conversion box).
  8. We have gone from $85 per month EVERY FREAKING MONTH to $8 for our live stream Netflix account. Holy breathing room in the budget batman.
  9. I got a little choked up canceling it on the phone with DirecTv thinking about how inconvenient it might be to watch TV now. Because I'm basically lazy and don't want to have to get off the sofa every 40 minutes to choose another episode from my Hulu queue....
  10. We're going from $85 per month to $8. It's a big enough relief to say twice.
So here's to making it less convenient to lose days to mindless TV and more time reading books and doing product things around the house!


I'm really hoping I don't have a post in a few months talking about how annoying it was without cable and that we re-signed. But I reserve the right to change my mind because I can and what are you going to do about it anyway? Huh? What? Yeah....that's what I thought.

2.04.2011

Where Hides This Joy?

Where hides this joy of the Lord, this God who fills the earth with good things, and how do I fully live when life is full of hurt?

How do I wake up to joy and grace and beauty and all that is the fullest life when I must stay numb to losses and crushed dreams and all that empties me out?

How do we choose to allow the holes to become seeing-through-to-God places? To more-God places?

How do I give up resentment for gratitude, gnawing anger for spilling joy? Self-focus for God-communion.

To fully live—to live full of grace and joy and all that is beauty eternal. It is possible, wildly.
                                        -

2.03.2011

Everything's OK

There have been several things happening both around my office and around my sphere of friends. Little things, adding up. But everyone is still ok. At least that's what they say when you ask them how they are.
When people ask me how I am I usually just say I'm ok. Because I'm ok. I'm fine. I'm not great. But I'm out of bed and out in the world doing what needs to be done just like everyone else.

But I said to a friend at lunch the other day, how do you respond when the answer feels like "I'm completely falling apart". Because while I'm ok, and I'm fine and I'm out in the world doing what needs to be done I also feel like I'm completely falling apart. I feel like little birds of prey disguised as friendships disintegrating, professional chaos and what is (if I'm being completely and frighteningly honest) an escalating and choking case of pretty severe depression, are picking away at my coping with life skills.

Sometimes it feels like if I say that, I need to justify it. It feels that way because I am a pleaser but also because I've had to in the past. People who I've finally opened up to have asked me why I can't just get over it because I have a nice life so what could possibly be the problem.
How can I possibly explain that it's not one thing. It would almost be better if it was something big. I told my friend I wish I could get a boyfriend than have a terrible break up because I feel like people could understand feeling like this about that. But it's all the little things of life. Paying bills, navigating complicated professional relationships, tiptoeing through friendships that feel unfamiliar and where I mostly feel unwanted trying to belong somewhere, even breathing in and out, getting out of bed in the morning....it's all just feeling like to much lately.

I don't know if it's seasonal, actually I know that it's not. I just want you to not worry about me. This has been going on severely since that September weekend and was building before that since the previous spring. I've just been able to manage it (however poorly) since then.
But I can't manage it anymore.

So I'm getting help, I've made the appointment, and each morning I force myself out of bed and into a world that feels like monsters in a haunted house to me right now.

Forgive me that I don't know how to say that to you in person. Because how would I explain it. It's not just that thing that happened, or this thing that happened. There hasn't been any great travesty that has happened.

It's both simply and not so simply the damage of this broken girl finally making it's way to the surface and God refusing to let me bury it anymore.

2.02.2011

Choices

In the clanging and clattering noise I was able to see it.
Under the dull roar of the voices surrounding me I felt it all land on my heart at once.
I started speaking and then couldn't stop.
Warm puddles of tears pooling then falling, dripping into my lunch.

In one moment my brain clicked with my heart and I was able to articulate things hidden and shadowed.

I can still feel the warmth of the wetness under my eyes.
I can still taste the salt it left on my lips.

Is it possible to feel at once lighter and heavier at the same time? Because that is how I feel. My heart was lifted and reassured by the lack of revulsion in the eyes reflecting tears back at me. But now that it's been spoken out loud...now that it's been named and defined I am weighed down and down and down by the road ahead of me.

Unbidden I wonder if I can do it at all.
If I can muster the strength to take one more step towards any version of health. I feel too weak. Too resigned. Too bitter. Too angry. Too heavy. Too hurt.
Unwelcome I wonder if I can keep doing one thing every day that isn't curling up in my bed and darkening the world away.

But there are enough moments of clouds parting, enough hands reaching out even if they don't know they are doing it, enough phone calls to just check in that help me see I have no other choice.
So I slowly push the covers down.
I open my eyes and slide my feet around the side of the bed.
I stand
I stretch
I try

Each morning I make a choice
Each morning I realize there is no other choice I could possibly make

2.01.2011

Good Things: January 11

January 1- Happy New Year! Big breakfast at home then lots of Wii and chilling out. Thanks to the magical vodka from the night before not the teensiest hangover either!

January 2- Rearranging living room furniture is my love language

January3- Worked out with roomie before work and lived to tell the tale

January 4- Quick and efficient WP meeting followed by fun at dinner with the adults

January 5- Kickboxing with the seester

January 6- Finished a good book, unfortunately there was a home invasion and triple homicide so I was awake really late jumping at every little sound.

January 7- Woke up and got a good workout in despite my aforementioned late night of paranoia.

January 8- Slept in until 1130am and still had a productive day

January 9- Fun morning at Washington Project and brunch with the famdamily after

January 10- Taco night with a side of mango margaritas and Alias!

January 11- I spent all day thinking and acting as if it was Wednesday, which was hilarious sometimes

January 12- Kickboxing, finished a good book and hot dinner made by roomie shortly after I got home.

January 13- Family night at Sharen's, played some Wii of course

January 14- Alias and Martini's with roomie, which means a lot of giggling (We're playing a GAME?!)

January 15- Pretty much just stayed on the sofa playing Wii and watching The Tudors all day.

January 16- Pretty much repeated yesterday, except I did go to church in the morning and do a touch of laundry

January 17- Made it through a report at work that I previously hadn't made it through in one day since the beginning of the year. It's nerdy, but it's my good thing

January 18- Nap after work

January 19- Kickboxing with seester, I made it through without rolling off the ball and grunting when I hit the floor.

January 20- Stressful day at work was helped by watching pretty fluffy snow falling out of my office window

January 21- Chinese Buffet with the fam for Kirsten's birthday. Involved me telling my sister I needed to go get my buffet pants on.

January 22- Went out to the club with Pete and some of his work friends, stayed up until 4am and said things like: "This is a 5 course gay bar!"

January 23- Amazing sermon at church followed by a lazy lazy Sunday on the sofa

January 24- I might have accidentally gotten caught up at work

January 25- I actually got caught up at work, I also had a dream I got married and moved to a new city...which was weird.

January 26- No kickboxing meant I got to go home and just hang out.

January 27- Family night at Applebees for the girls birthdays. I stuck my fingers in my ears and shouted lalalalalalala while the waiter was trying to talk to me and later hit him. Awkwardsauce for the win!

January 28- Quiet night at home, finished a good book

January 29- Cotsco (toiletries for a year!) and Mario with Sharen and Matthew followed by yummy dinner and Mario Kart and regular Mario with Alexis and Ryan

January 30- Conquered Mario! Well, level 8. Then after all the credits rolled a special new level (9!) opened up. I fell asleep with visions of Bowser and flying duck/turtles dancing in my head.

January 31- I know I say it every time, but Washington Project leadership meetings are ALWAYS my good thing on the days I have them.