A Pile of Ashes

This didn’t happen so I could document it here. ¬†Believe it or not, there are so many things I don’t share. ūüôā ¬†Intensely personal things are not for the interwebs, in my humble opinion.

However, God and I have this sort of deal. ¬†He does these amazing things and sometimes, even months later, asks me to tell whomever will listen about how capable He is to make miracles happen. ¬†You’ve read my stories of healing. ¬†You’ve heard me tell of miracles. ¬†I’ve let you know that my past wasn’t too pretty, and tried to tell how He turns every bit around in His way and in His time.

This is the story of my ultimate heart-healing completely orchestrated by One. ¬†I’m going to tell it just like I’ve told a couple of my closest friends, and let you see the beauty in the ashes for yourself.

It all began one lovely summer day last July with a motorcycle ride with my son.  One in which I launched myself from my bike, head-over-handlebars into the woods and ended up unconscious and a bit wounded.  The concussion that I acquired left me more than a little foggy for awhile and though most of it faded, what lasted several weeks was my confusion about time.  Things like how long ago events took place or what day of the week it was took me too long to process.  This is relevant to the story because when I drove a couple hours away to the airport to pick up my friend from the airport ON THE WRONG DAY!!!! it sets up my story.

I really prefer to not dwell in the past which is precisely the reason it’s taken me seven months to tell this tale. You see, I had made great strides in healing from my childhood and thought I was doing pretty well, but I lived in a land in my mind where ugly lies had become my truth. ¬†I felt like every time I looked in the mirror, or made a simple mistake, or pretty much breathed, the damage from years of ugly words spoken to me or the lack of love I experienced voiced themselves to me as self-hatred. ¬†It was oppressive. ¬†It was constant. ¬†I put a great face on things, but inwardly, I was suffering greatly. ¬†Sadly, it became my normal, and as it grew, it became harder and harder to live in a place of forgiveness specifically toward my mother. ¬†I realize that a lot of folks with beautiful mothers simply cannot relate to the idea of a mother who doesn’t love, but that is a reality for some of us and the early damage is extraordinary and because I knew only one other person in the world who could relate, I felt very isolated and lost. ¬†One day, somehow, I came across a book (I still have no idea how I ever found it) that was titled Mothers Who Can’t Love — a healing guide for daughters and, though I have rarely been able to finish a non-fiction book, I bought it and began devouring it. ¬†Never in my life had I had anyone put into words what I had been feeling my entire life. ¬†All the things I thought I had exaggerated in my mind were in print. ¬†Other women had walked this path!!!! ¬†There was hope for me to move on and I read and read, highlighting almost every page…until I got to the second half where things were about to get real — fast. ¬†The author set up exercises for working through the pain and moving into a place of healing. I saw one and shut the book. ¬†Ain’t nobody got time for that! ¬†NO way!!!

Less than ¬†a week later, I’m far from home, in a hotel with nothing but time on my hands and a set-aside 24 hours until I can pick my friend up from her flight. ¬†Coincidence? ¬†No way. ¬†I bought a journal and pen. ¬†I got dinner and breakfast and brought them to my hotel room and put on my comfy pants.

And then I balked. ¬†And stalled. ¬†And pouted. ¬†It felt like facing a giant with nothing but a slingshot. ¬†I was so alone in this and I wasn’t sure I had the courage to turn around and look at the nasty thing which had hidden under my bed for my entire life.

So I did what anyone would do and opened Facebook instead. ¬†And there I scrolled and stalled. ¬†But wouldn’t you know, God can even nudge you when you’re hiding on Facebook because there someone had posted a song by my favorite artist and though that song had no meaning for me at that moment, I was excited to buy his new album! ¬†Song one plays. ¬†I’m a puddle on the floor. ¬†The words were written for me for that moment. ¬†Song two, song three. ¬†I’m gone. ¬†My Daddy was singing over me (Zeph. 3:17) — inviting me into His arms to heal.

I began my exercises. ¬†I journaled. ¬†I sobbed. ¬†I wrote out my pain. ¬†I ended up in the bathtub broken and weeping. ¬†I found myself working through things I didn’t know I had buried in the deepest places. ¬†I forgave. ¬†I closed chapters. ¬†I literally had a funeral for the mother I would never have and had one dead daisy I found in my bag as the symbol of that memorial. ¬†Song after song played from different artists that ministered to my heart audibly all evening long.

ashesI slept some, and the next day ended up buying a balloon, a lighter, and a marker and drove myself to a cliff overlooking the lake that is my peaceful place.  Alone, in the rain, I burnt all the ugly words.  I released my truth and purpose written on a helium vehicle and sent it sailing far far away where maybe some other daughter needs to see her value.  I just dug it all up once and for all and let it all go.  And I set my phone up to take this picture to mark the moment of my freedom.

balloon

freedom

And when I looked down, there was one LIVE daisy growing at my feet.  The only flower in sight.

daisy

It’s a nice story, right? ¬†Not particularly. ¬†It was absolutely gut-wrenching and scary. ¬†The author of the book recommends a counselor to walk through this stuff with a person. ¬†I didn’t have that, but I had a divine appointment with One Who had seen it all and arranged a healing meeting with just me and Him. ¬†And let me tell you, I am a changed person. ¬†I wish you could see the difference in my mind. ¬†I wish I could have let you hear the before and the after. ¬†It’s like someone bleached the ugly and left me white and clean. ¬†All of the self-doubt and ugliness is like it was never there. ¬†I know it sounds too good to be true — I would be thinking the same thing. ¬†But I’m telling you, I was healed from the inside out. ¬†Yes, my stuff still happened, but it’s all so vague in my mind, it’s like a faded Polaroid where you can hardly make out the details. ¬†The memories are there, but they are unattached to pain.

So many of us bury our hurts. ¬†Daily, we numb out with substance or busy-ness, or just stuffing stuff so deep we are sure it can’t find us. ¬†But like a leaky tire, we know it will catch up at some point. ¬†I had a friend recently tell me that she just hasn’t grieved. ¬†She knows it’s there but she can’t look at it. ¬†Yes. ¬†That is a real truth. ¬†Who has time to peek under the bed and call that monster out?

You do, friend. ¬†You don’t have to be walking wounded. ¬†There is healing and grace to cover that pain. ¬†There is One Who longs to bear your burden (Psalm 68:19) and take it for you because you are so very loved (…casting all your cares [all your anxieties, all your worries, and all your concerns once and for all] on Him for He cares for you [with deepest affection and watches over you very carefully] – 1 Peter 5:7 AMP).

We aren’t meant to suffer through our days — they are, after all, so very short. ¬†There is hope and there is healing waiting for you. ¬†If you can relate, if you know it’s time to flip that bed and face that monster, may I encourage you to do so. ¬†Call someone you trust who can hold your hand and walk you through. ¬†Ask for help. ¬†But first, call on the name of One big enough to rescue you. (“No one who trusts God like this — heart and soul — will ever regret it. ¬†It’s exactly the same no matter what a person’s religious background may be: the God for all of us, acting the same incredibly generous way to everyone who calls out for help. Everyone who calls, ‘Help, God!’ gets help.” — Romans 10:11-13)

He’s waiting.

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A Riddle

It is, at once, both full and empty. It is rare and highly unappreciated. It deserves high praise for its beauty and for the opportunities of deepest solace and searching it allows. There is a time for it according to Ecclesiastes. It is sung about, written about, and longed for, yet it is shunned and feared by most. It was once cherished and noticed more often, but now mostly avoided and disallowed. It has the power to drive a person absolutely crazy, though some feel lost and overwhelmed without it.

Have you answered my riddle?

Silence.
The absence of noise.
Tranquility. Quietude. Hush. Stillness.

Those words speak loudly to the introvert in me. Give me any of those synonyms or that beautiful word itself and I am at peace.
I was that kindergartner that longed for those few minutes of quiet in the middle of the day on a half inch mat of foam when everyone had to finally be still and close their chattery little mouths.
I am still the one who has been known to escape a group, even of my closest friends, to go breathe and recharge in the other room. Three hours in the car alone? Happy me! No music, no noise. Just blessed silence.
And that is where I relate with few. In my circle, as in most I would guess, folks need noise. Music is always on, and if it’s not, hands are tapping out a beat, toes are keeping to a rhythm, someone is humming. Voices in conversation add a layer upon the notes and rhythms and most of them compete for space using volume as their means of winning the unspoken competition.

Even on a normal day, this girl escapes just to breathe.

“I need to be alone. ¬†I need to ponder my shame and my despair in seclusion; ¬†I need the sunshine and the paving stones of the streets without companions, without conversation, face to face with myself, with only the music of my heart for company.” — Henry Miller

I am comfortable with stillness. It soothes deep parts of my mind and spirit — the ones that make loud inner demands of myself to meet my own quotas of order and accomplishments — the whispers that keep me relentlessly in motion. In the quiet I find space and time to settle and listen — not only to the often unheard things around me, but also to my own necessary and overrun desires. Outside of the clamor is where my spirt settles in to a tandem rhythm with my God. It’s harder to find Him amongst the crashing and crescendos and cacophony of noise.

“I’ve begun to realize that you can listen to silence and learn from it; it has a quality and a dimension all its own.” — Chaim Potok

This place to which my family relocated is replete with a kind of silence such as I’ve rarely found. Away from society lies a quietude so rare…so exquisite…
We have invited guests around our campfire to listen to it, to breathe it in. It’s so quiet it’s almost deafeningly loud. Invariably, someone gets uncomfortable much too quickly to appreciate its subtleties and shouts or breaks out in laughter.

What is there, in the absence of noise, that is frightening? What can we not face? I’m concerned for a society that closes off parts of themselves and needs to numb out with noise or substance or the screen of a device — anything that covers up what is real. It’s true, sometimes when we are still, something that we didn’t want to face can approach. But the beauty of being still is that we can hear it coming and deal with it. If we are oblivious to the approach, we stand to be hit with a surprise attack. Much messier, in my opinion.

Quiet amplifies and empowers the senses. It tunes us in to what is real. We face what needs to be faced. We are given a chance to see what is missing or crippled or needed and to fix it.

“We can make our minds so like still water that beings gather about us that they may see, it may be, their own images, and so live for a moment with a clearer, perhaps even with a fiercer life because of our quiet.” — W.B.Yeats

Is it possible that our worlds are so full of noise, so purposefully lost in the shuffle that we are unaware? We numb our senses to not feel.

We don’t deal with the heart of anything when the world around us is¬†too noisy to find its almost imperceptible beat.

I offer you a challenge in the space of a quiet place.  Find it. Carve out the moments and just BE. Breathe there. Let your mind be still. Listen to everything and to nothing.
Quiet it all down…

“Be still and know that I am God.” — God

sunset