Wednesday, January 7, 2015

An Open Letter To People That Have Been Through S**t.

It's the ending of a year, sayanara to 2014! So many of us look forward to a new year because we have a sense of starting over....of having a re-do for the things that we didn't quite get to in the previous year. A time for reflection and planning for change. But are you able to truly let go of last year? Are there things that you drag with you like tedious heavy suitcases that are wearing you down, but you insist on over packing and lugging around anyway? Are there traumatic things you experienced, life lessons you learned, spiritual awakenings that changed you on a heart level? You have an obligation. You have an obligation to those who have experienced or are about to experience what you did. Who need to hear what you have learned, how you got through something, and for God's sake, how to LET IT GO. If it involves someone else, or someone who wronged you, it's ok. It's ok to tell your story because the truth, the authentic make-you-cringe truth is sometimes the only way someone else is able to grasp onto the start of healing, deeply wounded and desperate to move on to a life that makes sense again. So do it! Tell it! It's your story, and as the wickedly sharp and funny Ann LaMott says, YOU OWN EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENED TO YOU. TELL YOUR STORIES. IF PEOPLE WANTED YOU TO WRITE WARMLY ABOUT THEM, THEY SHOULD HAVE BEHAVED BETTER. I have had the opportunity to talk to others that have been through what I have, because I was willing to share on a small scale what happened. Close friends know, and a family member of a friend came to me when they were experiencing the same and said, "How did you handle this? What did you do?" No, we don't all have the answers. But we are beacons of hope to others in that we are SURVIVORS. It may have felt that we were going to die, but we DIDN'T. We can't stay stuck, folks. We can't carry around anger, bitterness, unforgiveness, sadness. It does us no good and it surely doesn't hurt the one who caused it. And we HAVE TO HAVE TO HAVE TO believe that, like GOD HIMSELF says, that EVERYTHING....YES EVERYTHING....works together for good for those who are called according to His purpose. If we have even a mustard seed of faith that God has our back, then we can rest in knowing that EVERY SINGLE THING will eventually work together for our GOOD. I went through the anxiety. The gut-wrenching uneasiness and pain of not knowing what my life was. And I'll tell you what, there were so many family and friends that walked through it with me and were there for me, for which I am so grateful for, BUT the ones that helped jump-start my healing? Those are the ones that said "I've been exactly where you are. I understand how that feels. No, you're not crazy. Yes, it DOES get better." They were my LIFELINES. It helped me to see that on the other side of this season was a return of JOY. Some days it didn't seem possible, but the stories I heard got me through. It took a year. It took ups and downs like I couldn't imagine, but I DID IT. I did the work to learn and grow from it instead of wallowing in it. It didn't define me. And now? I can handle A LOT. Very little throws me anymore. I'm thankful for that. And somewhere along the way, when I placed my heart back in the hands of God, he released me to love. He released me to allow someone else to love me, and to have the ability to trust implicitly. I'm not carrying nonsense into the beautiful, honest, open and real relationship he has blessed me with. The past has no place in the future, or in the present. It belongs dead in the past, with only the better understanding of life, love, myself and the very character of God coming with me. Recently I caught a teaching by Rob Bell that was on tv. Chill OUT, Christian legalists. Yep, Rob Bell speaks to a place in me where the "Oh, just give it all to Jesus and everything will be roses" Christians couldn't touch. Sorry. Sorry I'm not sorry. If you're unwilling to carry on with me because I've mentioned a (gasp!) liberal in Anne LaMott or (gasp!) a controversial pastor/teacher in Rob Bell, it's cool. I will still love ya. Something maybe mainstream church should look in to. ("Oh my word, she said THAT too!") I am thankful to be a part of a faith community now that speaks to authenticity, realness, growth, and becoming who God created you to be. It's a refreshing break from Christianity-as-usual. Anyway, point being, tell your story. Love people through their mess. Don't judge them; WALK with them. One of the most offensive things I experienced going through a divorce was a message from a former church member who chided me for making a joke about the absurdity of my situation, of easing some of the discomfort of MY STORY with humor (it's how I do). Until you've literally sat in the street on a 35 degree night in your pajamas for hours wondering if the person supposed to be home by now is dead on a road somewhere, (he wasn't), I ask you to understand someone's story and walk through with them before rebuking their coping mechanism. So, do it! Don't be afraid. What are we if not our stories? What else do we have to leave behind, besides the one-to-two generation evaporating memories of our children and grandchildren? What we know, what we learned. Per Rob Bell: "If you want to take part in the reconciliation of all things, you HAVE TO NAME IT. Sometimes the problem is, especially when it comes to abuse or betrayal, and especially if it's an abuse or betrayal by somebody close to you or a family member, is we gloss over how hellish and awful it was. You will only move to a place of healing and wholeness, when you are ready to say what it actually was. It was awful. It was evil. It was degrading. It was violating. But it only begins when you are ruthlessly honest about how awful it was. That's where the healing starts. And then there's this thing that happens as you name it. You own it. __________ happened. It is a part of your history. It belongs to you. The really beautiful things happens when you have gone through a particular kind of suffering and then you see somebody else who is going through that and you say to them, 'Me too." Carrying that backpack around makes you weary until you open it up and take a look in there; you see there is food in there. There is water in there. You discover you have things in there that other people need for their journey. You went through this hellish thing and you meet someone else going through it, and you say to them "I went through that and I'm still here. And then the thing that was weighing you down becomes the vessel through which God's healing love flows through you to somebody else." Give what you have. Your story is LIFE.