Release. Be filled.

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I have been so tightly wound. Circumstances and chaos have spun me around and around. The horizon is lost and so I hold fast to whatever I can. But, unaware, I’m holding on to the things that hold me back. Tonight, I thought I would write out some things that have been pressing on my soul…but the list kept growing. And I realized how much I have been trying to control, how much I have been trying to regulate, how much I’ve been trying to find my horizon.  It is time to release.

Release all the self-expectation. Release all the perfection. Release all the striving.

Release the inadequacies. Release the deficiencies. Release the insufficiencies.

Release the emotional chaos. Release the career chaos. Release timelines.

Release the half finished home projects. Release budget imperfections. Release retirement plans.

Release dress size. Release missed workouts. Release failed meal planning.

Release missed opportunities. Release limitations. Release perceptions. Release judgements.

Release the disappointment. Release hope deferred. Release anger. Release confusion.

Now may the God of hope fill me with all joy and peace as I trust in Him, that I may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)

Release. Be filled.

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Weathering the Storm

What a dark and miserable weekend this has been. Somewhere around Friday afternoon, the storm in my soul began and it was unrelenting until Sunday night. It first started with thoughts of insecurities and then migrated into self-loathing. I was entirely caught off guard by this hurricane of emotional fury and unprepared for the lies that it would bring to my mind. The deception came in a series of crashing waves, each lie stronger than the last. I was so overwhelmed by the darkness that I finally heard, “cutting will give you relief.” It was a coup de grace to my wounded and weary soul.

There it was. That option was on the table again. You see, dear reader, a couple of years ago, I gave into cutting as a way to provide relief to my very broken heart. It was a way to physically validate my emotional trauma. There were small cuts at first and then there was the four-inch gash to my arm that required a dramatic trip to the emergency room and 14 stitches. But cutting didn’t give any lasting relief; it just took me on a vicious cycle of despair.

Somewhere in that merry-go-round, God found me. Healing comes in layers and over time. My church community surrounded me with love and my friends stood with me as I was pieced back together.

There was also specific encounter with God. I remember holding a knife in my hand, so incredibly conflicted. I wanted relief, but I knew I couldn’t go back to that way of coping. God spoke very clearly that if I put the knife down, He would give me lasting relief. If I am entirely honest, I have to admit that I didn’t believe Him. But, I stepped out in faith, put the knife down, and immediately God covered me with a beautiful and sweet peace that I have never known before. In that moment, I was given freedom from the cycle of cutting.

And for over a year, cutting was not an option. Until this weekend, that is.

For two days, I have fought the despair, the deception, and the urge to take it out on myself.  It is so incredibly disorienting to find yourself back where you started. “But I thought I had won this battle, “ I told myself. “Why am I here again? I thought I was free.”

And then the biggest lie was presented to me, “You have never really been free.”

I absolutely crumbled under that untruth. It was devastating to think that cutting will never go away as an option. This meant that every challenge in life that presented itself would be multiplied because I would also have to face the battle of not taking it out on myself.

I prayed as best as I knew how, but the prayers of a battered soul didn’t seem very effective. My fiancé prayed for me too, and there were pockets of solace in those moments. But the torment still pressed in from all sides. On Sunday, I went to church, the weight of darkness on me. I sat quietly on a pew, wondering if God saw how beleaguered I was. But, the Psalmist was right, there is no place I can go, where He is not there. Even my “darkness is not dark to Him” (Ps 139:12) A friend came to pray for me, and in that prayer, something lifted, the lies subsided, and I felt God’s peace again. That beautiful and sweet peace.

There are storms in life that will come quickly and suddenly, without explanation. You will be taken to a dark place where you will face old foes and wonder if you have the strength to fight that battle again. But, let your soul be anchored in the truth of Christ’s love, let your community surround you and support you, and you will weather the storm.  If He has set you free, then you are free indeed! (John 8: 36)Image