Monday, 27 October 2014

I have now reached the anger stage

I did learn something...if you want to grieve well, some things just can't be avoided.

I do not like anger. In fact, I detest it. I don't like being angry. Angry people scare me. Growing up, we had two of Tim LaHaye's books grace our shelves at home. These are books before the "Left Behind" series. I think they were called, "Emotions, can you trust them?" and "Anger is a Choice".

I don't think I ever read them, but from what I gathered through talking about/skimming them, my immature, pre adolescent mind came to the following conclusion:

If you are/get angry, it is a sign of  character weakness and you are flawed and should be pitied.

I have held onto that  idea for the majority of my life, although I would scarcely ever say it out loud. Growing up I had this awesome friend that I'd hang out with lots, her parents were awesome too, but they fought and were mad much of the time. I just couldn't wrap my mind around that. Why couldn't these lovely people keep it together? What emotional misfortune had been thrust upon them to give them the inability to control their emotions?

I struggled with the story of Jesus overturning the tables in the temple too. All I could think of was what a mess he made and if I was his Mother I would have made him clean it up and apologize. Which led to my skepticism around Jesus being being sinless. How could he be sinless, he got mad?

Yes, I realize the error of my ways. But it has shaped me.

I've now had three critical incidents in my life which I refer to.
1. My Dad dying of pancreatic cancer when he was just 70.
2. My first husband leaving.
3. Being laid off from a job I loved.

My anger around the loss of my Dad was directed the most at my Mom. We've never had a touchy/feely relationship. She raised me in a "spare the rod, spoil the child" kind of way and it  affected how I relate to her, and in turn, how I parent my kids. After Dad died, we had a good couple of years where anything that the other person did (right down to washing the windows) was met with fury. It took me a long time to figure out that those very strong emotions was us dealing with our grief. Nasty.

When my Kid's Dad left, I did get mad. Righteously so. I won't tell you how I expressed that anger, but Ladies, if you ever need "Scorned Woman" resources, let me know. I think the fact that I did engage in activities that expressed how I was feeling was therapeutic for me and probably one of the most helpful parts of my grieving process. Actually, I will tell you one very helpful thing I did was take a Women's Self Defense course. Even though it had nothing to do with grief, being able to practice yelling and screaming and beating someone over the head with foam (sorry, Mike Kendell) was fantastic. I felt euphoric afterwards.

And now this. I had hoped that I had risen above this part of the grieving process, but not so. Things were going pretty well until the last couple of weeks. Not a day has gone by for the past two weeks where I haven't run into someone from church. Go out for supper? There they are. Answer the phone? They're calling. Get a text? It's them. Go on Facebook? There's a message from them. And the message is always the same. "We love you, we miss you and we are so upset that this has happened".
And that message is fantastic. It humbles me. It blesses me. It overwhelms me. It makes me cry.

And it makes me mad. I think if I didn't love the people so much, it would be much easier. If the people didn't love me, maybe I could accept it.

Why was I taken out of a situation where I loved and was loved? It makes no sense.

I can maybe understand it in a platitude-y "all things work together" sort of way, if you're going to remind me of that, don't bother. I know that already.

But going back to my original thought - I strongly dislike being angry. And what would my guy, Richard Rohr say? He has a devo in his book, "On the Threshold of Transformation" about anger. Here are two thoughts:

"Anger is a necessary and telling emotion long before it is any kind of sin." - good point
"Feel anger, learn what it has to tell you; but do not identify with it or it will kill you" - from Eph. 4:26-27

So that's where I sit. That's what I feel. I want to tell you that now that I've had this rant I feel so much better and likely won't feel another negative emotion for a few years, but I'm learning to know better.

If I'm going to grieve well, winter well, so spring can come, some things just can't be avoided. 

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Meditation is not for the faint of heart

I did learn something....meditation is not for the faint of heart.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not completely new to this. I've been on enough retreats (silent, women's and otherwise) to have lectio divina'ed with the best of them. I can dial down, hold thoughts, and sit with an open hand like nobody's business.

But I don't do it all the time.

So when Karen suggested that in this time of freaking out, I should really take time to meditate, I figured, why not, I've got the time. She suggested I read "Christian Meditation" by James Finley. They were out of them at Coles in the Mall, so I googled him, and now am in possession of a lovely PDF of an interview that he did with Gary Moon. He laid things out reasonably simply, although there isn't much simple about meditation - actually it's very simple and that's what makes it so hard.

I found my favorite chair, which now resides in Ben's room, and brought down some yogurt and granola (I don't know if you're allowed to eat yogurt and granola when you're meditating, probably not, although it does seem like food the mystics would have enjoyed) and picked a word to set my mind on.

My go to word in these situations is usually "Jesus" - go figure - but this time I thought I'd mix things up a bit and chose "love".  I set my timer for 25 minutes. That seems like a reasonable amount of time. I shut my eyes and started to dwell on my word.

Not long after I realize I have to pick granola out of my teeth. My tongue starts digging around and I'm wondering if this is considered multitasking while meditating.

The granola thing is now dealt with, and my attempt to experience the presence of God continues. That lasts for about 15 seconds and I start to giggle. You see, I have this rash on my arm, I've had it since about August. Way too long to have a rash. I did go to the Doctor and he gave me cream but it's still there 2 months later. I did some research and discovered that I've been putting vaginal yeast infection cream on my rash. That's probably why it's not really working. Anyway, the whole "vaginal yeast infection cream on my arm" thing is really quite funny and of course I'm distracted easily at the best of times. So the next 5 minutes of my precious meditation time was spent in utter bemusement.

Focus Beckie, focus.

Maybe I should sing. That could give me some spiritual direction. I'm a singer, surely there are lots of songs that could help guide me into oneness with my Creator.  Alas, the only song, and I mean ONLY song that my mind could think of was "No One Mourns the Wicked" from Wicked.

Good grief.

I check my timer. 9 minutes left. This isn't going well.

So I have more work to do around this. I think I will attempt it again, maybe tomorrow. And for today I will rest on this James Finley quote, "First, from the standpoint of contemplation, God’s invincible love for me is absolutely sovereign, regardless of the degree or the extent to which I respond to it or

Nice. Or the amount which I'm able to concentrate or not.

Friday, 10 October 2014

My Ego is having a Tantrum

I did learn ego is having a tantrum.

I wondered what was going on with me this week. I felt so out of sorts. I wrote a post but didn't "publish" it on FB because I didn't really want you to see me like this. 

I feel indignant to the position I am now in. 
The word I used was inconvenienced.
I sent the post to two people, my darling husband and my BFF. Their response was that:
1. I'm pretty normal
2. I'm having a tantrum

Well frankly I don't like either. I want my struggle in my circumstances to be NOT a struggle. I thought I was so "connected" as Richard Rohr says, that I can float from experience to event to joy to sorrow without so much as a hiccup.

And speaking of Richard Rohr, on Tuesday he said, 

All you can do is stay connected to the Source, which connects you to everything else. We don’t know how to be perfect, but we can stay in union. “If you remain in me and I remain in you,” says Jesus, “you can ask for whatever you want and you’re going to get it” (see John 15:7). When you’re connected, there are no coincidences or accidents anymore.

God help me in my unbelief.

The BFF, ok let's just call her Karen, because that's her name, then went on to say, "What I hear your post really saying is 'I am not special anymore, and I am not even sure who I am anymore.' And that's really appropriate for where you are."
I don't like that she said that.

In May I spoke at church and COINCIDENTALLY ENOUGH the sermon ended up being about ego. The text was John 3:30 "He must become greater, I must become less." In the Greek, the direct translation of the last part of the verse is "ego must become less". And I went on to say that opportunities for our ego to become less are usually inconvenient and not sought after.

Damn right. 

Maybe I'm stumbling upon something here. Maybe change  (and my resistance to it) has more to do with my ego and my plan than I thought. She then suggested I do some work around meditation and suggested the book "Christian Meditation" by James Finley. 

So this should be interesting. Stay tuned... 


Wednesday, 8 October 2014

the middle of fear

I did learn doesn't get any easier, living in the middle of fear and uncertainty.

I've done it before. More than once. And I've made it through. And each time I made it through I said to myself, "See? Next time I won't worry - God took care of me/us." I told myself that next time I'm in a hard situation I won't need to cry/fret/stress/freak out because I know that I know that I know that I will be looked after.

God help me in my unbelief. Sitting here thinking about what's coming in a couple months - or what is not coming - the fear can almost strangle me. Because of something else I've learned along the way.

Sometimes the worst that can happen actually happens.

So I can go there. Sit there. Camp there.
Or I can steer my mind to a happy place filled with unicorns and rainbows.
Equally as delusional.

The fact of the matter is, I was VERY comfortable in my position. Sure, I had no pension, but once I finished my M. Div., that would come.

I think what I am most fearful of is the fact that likely, I am going to be uncomfortable.
Likely, I need to reinvent myself.
That takes work.
And in that work lies risk.
Risk of rejection.
Risk of pain.
Risk of uncertainty.
Risk of no comfort.

I really, really liked the person I was. It was good for me, my family, those people around me. It worked.

This week I feel anger. I feel like a sacrificial lamb.

My heart acknowledges that I'm most upset because plain and simple I am being inconvenienced. I am now fearful. I am now needing to look at myself and answer the question, "How am I going to survive this time?"

It doesn't get any easier, living in the middle of fear and uncertainty, because even though God has kept me this far along, I can't help but wonder if this is the one time that he won't....

Monday, 6 October 2014

Kindness in change

I did learn something....kindness in change.

Kindness in Change. That's my new buzz phrase. Not because it's some sort of mantra I need to share with the world, but because it's something I desperately need to show myself. The last 5 years of my life have been nothing short of "change riddled", I moved 3 times, had a marriage end and another one begin, been a mother to 4 (now 5), experienced career highs and new lows, almost lost my shirt financially...the list of stressors just keep rolling.

And I kept rolling.
Stress at home? No problem.
No money? I can be creative. Pasta is our friend.
Need someone to move a piano? Well, that one was plain and simple a miracle every time. I don't EVER want to have to ask people for that again.
Introduce someone new into my kids' lives? Just keep'll be ok....

Was I kind to myself in those times? I don't really think I had that option.  I suppose I did, in that I beelined it to my Doctor pretty quick and he ever so wisely gave me that prescription for my 1/2 dose of Effexor. I think I could have managed my way through without it, but I would have cried a lot more and slept a lot less. It was more about survival.

Now that I'm in between jobs I feel a real pull to find something that will be a quick fix. Something that will give me security and peace of mind NOW. And I could. But I'm not sure that's showing myself any real kindness (or any life) in the long haul.

Just the other day I was doing something that was making me money and I was not loving it. It was actually a profound moment for me. I was doing it. I could easily do this thing for the rest of my life. And there was NO JOY. It was rote, it was automatic, but there was no life there.

Yesterday I got to play piano for an event. I used to play piano for everything. And then I was in a position for many years when I couldn't play, time just didn't allow for it. Yesterday it was back. The joy, the life. The keys were in my hands.

About 12 years ago I was playing for an Easter service. I can't remember what song I was playing but I felt sense a strong sense of God's presence. Then I heard these words (if you ask me if I've ever heard God speak audibly, this would be the one time), "Beckie, when you play and your heart is right, it is not you that's playing, it's me. I have simply chosen your fingers to play through."

In that, there is joy, there is life.
There is kindness to myself and others.

I know I can't pay the bills going around playing the piano all the time. But I can show kindness to myself by doing that which gives me life. Doing what I was made to do. And as I look for that which WILL pay the bills, I can play again....and experience kindness in the middle of my change.