Tag Archive | God

Hope is the Lump in Your Throat

You can live in hope or you can live in hopelessness. Or you can merely exist in numbness devoid of hope in any form. This was my chosen method for fifteen long years. Shutting down my emotions eased the agony of an emotionally abusive marriage. Some days I could almost forget it was there. I learned how to hide my scars and secrets. I functioned well. I did the best I could to protect my children. I didn’t know from what at the time. Just that I needed to be more than enough for them.

For me, numbness relieved some of the suffering some of the time. That is what made it a viable survival technique. However, it also reduced my ability to experience positive emotions. You cannot choose which feelings to avoid and which ones to embrace. It is all or nothing.

Unlike the day I chose numbness over hopelessness, I did not make a conscious decision to leave numbness behind in search of a hope filled life. It was my Heavenly Father that set me on that path. But before I could find hope, it was necessary for me to sink into the despair of hopelessness again. You see, God can and will reach down and pull us out of the miry pit, but He can’t do that if we are content to be stuck in the sludge. Often God will set a plan in motion that brings us to our knees in desperation where our only option is to call out to Him.

It is overwhelming and terrifying to have the bandaids pulled off your carefully concealed wounds and watch the bleeding resume all over again. The pain is just as intense the second time around. I wept. I prayed. Or more accurately, I brought the broken and shattered pieces of my heart to God. I did not ask God to mend the fragments. I did not ask God to heal my pain. I simply cried that I didn’t want to hurt anymore. That was it. No requests for love, joy, peace or hope for my future. That was an impossible prayer, a far away dream that I didn’t dare put into words able to betray me. Asking not to hurt anymore was difficult enough.

I recently read a description in Brene Brown’s book “Daring Greatly” of what vulnerability feels like. Someone described it as “A lump in my throat and a knot in my chest.” And I thought, yes, that is also what the beginning of hope feels like. When hope was first offered to me it emerged as a tiny ball in the pit of my stomach, ascended to my chest, my throat, and finally became a pressure behind my eyes that I fought to keep there. Behind my eyes. Where I could deny it and push it away again. Not betraying me by leaking down my cheeks to be seen and felt. My mind fought the possibility of hope, but my body believed and responded before the rest of me was able.

At one time or another you have been advised to listen to your body. Pay attention to its signals. Sleep when you are tired. Eat when you are hungry. Drink when you are thirsty. So, I ask, why not hope when your body is desiring the promise of healing?

Hope is challenging. Hope takes courage. But hope will not disappoint when you place it in the hands of our Abba Father, the One who will wipe every precious tear from your eyes.

Now hope does not disappoint because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:5

So Glad to Meet You

My name is not Cynthia. Well, that is not entirely true. My birth certificate says it is, but no one has ever identified me by that name. Well, that isn’t entirely true either. When producing my passport, the agent will undoubtedly call me Cynthia as that is the name printed there. But all that does is elicit my blank stare which isn’t at all suspicious when travelling to another destination. And if you were to attempt to get my attention by shouting “Hi Cynthia” to me I would not turn my head, simply because I wouldn’t know that you were. I tell you this so you can stop crossing off the list in your mind of any Cynthias that you may know. I am not her. I also tell you this so that we may begin our journey together today with truthfulness and no traces of deception between us.

I admit that when I read the post introducing me as a guest writer for this blog, I had quite the mix of emotions. It is an absolute honour and privilege to be invited into this valuable blog community where we can heal, grow and learn together. I was completely unprepared for the gracious and kind words used to describe me and my writing. This Cynthia woman sounded amazing. And then came the moments of doubt and fear. Could I really do this? Will I be enough? Will people be disappointed? How could I possibly live up to your expectations when it was me that you were going to meet? And so by writing one and a half paragraphs on this blog so far I have already been shown two truths. One, that the telling of our stories is an integral part of our ongoing healing process and transformation into the person that God created and intended each one of us to be. And secondly, that yes, by the grace of God and through the redemption of Jesus Christ, I am enough.  And so are you.

If you are wondering what I will be writing on this blog, so am I. Because I will be leaving that decision up to God. But what I can tell you now is that you will hear of our mighty God’s miraculous healing power that has redeemed the untold pain and despair of my life and marriage. You will hear how beautifully God has designed every detail of the healing that He has available for us. You will hear that I am a wife of a man recovering from sex addiction and intimacy anorexia, married for 27 years, the last two happily. And I would be amiss if I did not tell you that I am the blessed mother of two awesome young adult children and a beautiful daughter-in-law. But most importantly, I am an extravagantly loved and cherished daughter of God which took me nearly 46 years to discover.

I am Cynthia. But if you are reading this, then quite possibly so are you. Or maybe it is the woman sitting beside you at church, your neighbour, or co-worker. It may even be your best friend, daughter or mother. There are many Cynthias living each day in invisible pain and shame.  Many Cynthias that need to know, and not only know, but believe that there is hope and healing for the wounds and pain they have kept hidden for so long. Because there is. Oh, there is. And my prayer for you is that as we journey together you will open your heart enough to glimpse the hope and healing that is within your reach. No matter how faint the glimmer may be, there is One that can and will take the smallest offering brought to Him and turn it into more than you can ever imagine. I know because His name is Jesus and He has become my best friend.

Look at the nations and watch, and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe even if you were told. Habakkuk 1:5

Welcome a New Writer!

I have invited a guest writer to my blog and although she will introduce herself in the coming days and weeks and she shares her story and her heart, I would like to take a moment to say a few words about her and to welcome her to Tears in A Bottle. 

A few years ago when my life seemed to unravel I often thought; “I’m so alone! No one else gets it!”

And then God brought Cynthia into my life!! And though our stories may be different there is a common thread that runs through them.

inspire

Cynthia is a talented writer, a wife and mom and a dear friend. She sees, not only with her eyes, but with heart and spirit.

She writes about the invisible grit, the soul parts that we feel but can’t see. And she does so with gracefulness, honesty, and whispered words of faith.

She is a gift to me.

Cynthia’s honesty challenges me. Truly. And yet, her honesty shows me grace, not shame.

I am grateful for that about her. Over the last couple of years as I’ve come to know Cynthia and have read what she writes, I kept thinking; “this has got to be shared!”

 

writer

And so from time to time I would mention this blog and ask if she would consider writing and sharing her story here…..because I know there are many who need her words of encouragement, life and yes, even challenge.

It’s a scary thing to write on a blog, but she was willing to listen to God’s voice…and in His timing move forward in faithful obedience…knowing He’s right there beside her.

writer6

Really, for all of us, whether it is with a pencil or a paintbrush or a mixing bowl or a microphone or a dust cloth, an empty page, a blank canvas or a sheet of music.

They are tools….and we are called create.

Friends, for each of us, it’s time to peel back the layers, remove the veil and find the art – the gifts – deep within. Uncover them. Dust them off. They are yours. Unique to you.

And like Cynthia, in His timing, we use them. I encourage each of you, use your gifts to influence those around you. This is your art.

You will find that Cynthia writes with feeling, depth and truth. You will see glimpses of her heart through her words, her writing is her art.

Beautiful

writer1

I hope that you will welcome Cynthia and read her words and hear her heart, because through them God will impact your life.

Thank you Cynthia for saying “Yes” to the invitation to share your heart.

Thank you for your obedience Cynthia and the legacy you’re leaving. Thank you for sharing with us your art. 

Our Stories of Brokenness….

Spiritual whitespaceI have been following a blog by author, Bonnie Gray, for some time now and I have also read her book, “Finding Spiritual Whitespace”.

She is a gifted writer, who shares her story and her soul. Her voice is pure, calming and inspiring.

At the end of this post I will share a link to an article she wrote, please take the time to read it. She expresses what is in my heart.

The enemy continues to try and quiet my voice…to not share my journey, especially in the midst of this painful time in my marriage.

I sometimes daily battle the urge to appear to have it all together, to offer only what I think people need, what I think it is they want. To offer a false self to them and even to my husband.

Why?

Because I’ve always felt this  pressure to seem unbroken, especially as a good Christian woman.

But I am finding that in my support groups this isn’t the case. We are all there because we are broken and there is no denying it or hiding it.

But really! Who wants to appear broken, doubtful, uncertain and in pain…..who wants their words to be misunderstood, used against them or wrong assumptions to be made? telling our story

Bonnie Gray encourages me with these words:

“It’s hard to write and put our stories out there, but I passionately believe every part of our journey is soul beautiful with Jesus.

It’s our authentic stories that frees people to see that Jesus real, loving, beautiful and alive. Right now through you and me. As is.

The world longs to know God through real people. Your voice. Your story.

Love the world by letting God love us — through our stories.”

Maybe, just maybe, it’s time for all of us to not give up, to be courageous, to keep trying, to not let our voices be silenced any longer.

Telling your story is really about finding and using your voice. Be kind to yourself and listen to the parts of your story that want to be told.

I love what Bonnie Gray points out in her article-

“I thought about God — how did He decide what to include, given this is His only written book about Himself? Talk about stress and pressure to pick and choose!

But, God didn’t choose to write a book of rules or formulas. God chose to write a book about real people — His favorite stories of those He loved.

These were real people, all journeying through different human experiences.  God did not choose to edit out tragedy, betrayal, and brokenness.  He included it all”

And isn’t it true, it is in the midst of these broken, authentic stories that God shows such grace and beauty!

http://www.faithbarista.com/2015/04/im-writing-about-sexual-abuse-today/

Peeling-Layers

Choices!

Back in July I wrote about going to see my spiritual counselor and what God showed me at that time. I also mentioned that my counselor made a second observation and I would share it in the next post, well, I didn’t….because honestly, I was truly grappling with it. I didn’t like her suggestion or observation. I didn’t want to look at it and to some degree I am still wrestling with it.

What she shared with me was the Serenity Prayer; the first part of it. If you are familiar with Alcoholics Anonymous then you have encountered the Serenity Prayer. The prayer has worked its way into so many cultural outlets that many non-Christians know it, or at least the beginning, by heart:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.serenity 1

The rest of the prayer goes like this:

Living one day at a time;
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
forever in the next.
Amen.

I admit I reacted to her strongly because deep down I was truly afraid to accept the things I could not change and feared I didn’t have the courage to change what I could…..and would I really know the difference??

Why did I struggle to “accept” things? Because I believed that accepting something was laziness. I was afraid that accepting that there are some things I could not change would make me complacent. But slowly (very slowly) I am beginning to realize instead that acceptance constitutes a leap of faith — an ability to trust, as the prayer goes on to say, “that He [God] will make all things right if I surrender to His Will.” I then make the choice to let go and have faith in the outcome.

acceptance

Accepting or surrendering takes courage…..for me the word “surrender” like acceptance, had mostly negative connotations. I associated it with resignation, failure and weakness. But the Serenity Prayer reframes the notion of surrender as an act of faith and trust. The wisdom of the prayer lies in exchanging a life of endless “what ifs” for a life of trust in powers beyond ourselves. That changes my perspective!

Another thing I am coming to realize is that acceptance takes courage, it takes courage to change ourselves. And I didn’t want to be courageous anymore, it was too much work.

One of life’s greatest challenges is imagining how our lives could be different than they are now. Often, my own deeply-ingrained habits are my own worst enemies, and simply identifying them is half the battle. Since habits gain power through repetition, it takes real focus and perspective to take a look at ourselves and our habits and ask, “Is this how I really want to live?” As the prayer states, this act of self-investigation is nothing less than an act of “courage.”

And in my mind it also meant that I must accept “hardships as the pathway to peace.” What??? I didn’t want hardship, I wanted easy, painless even!!
Yet, every person confronts obstacles in the course of his or her life. Yet, it’s what I do with these obstacles. Do I view them as frustrations or failures, or as opportunities for growth and learning? If I choose the latter then I can transcend my circumstances.
courage
Accepting what I don’t like may be one of the most difficult aspects of life, because there will be people, situations, and events I don’t like and I am not able to change.

Yet, it is true, acceptance is not the same as resignation or passivity. I can continue to push forward despite accepting that there are things beyond my control. It is not passive when I lean into and trust God with my life, situations and relationships. It is not passive when I seek His wisdom and ask for His supernatural courage. It doesn’t take resignation it takes strength, perseverance, faith and trust.

Please understand what I am not saying….if you are in an abusive relationship or have been abused, I am not saying that you should just accept what is happening or what happened. I am not talking about abuse. I am talking about situations and circumstances that affect us and that we feel we have no control over, maybe in our workplace, our marriage or our relationships.
It truly takes supernatural wisdom to know the difference of what we can or cannot change.

serenity-quotes-7

As you can see I am still chewing on this, wrestling with it and walking this out…..to be continued!

What about you? How do you see “acceptance” or “surrender”?

My Facebook Sabbatical Comes to a Close.

As you may, or may not have known, I went on a Sabbatical from FB for awhile. And yes, I was so disappointed I had missed umpteen opportunities to find out which Disney Princess I am or which decade I should have been born in!! (insert sarcasm here!!) lol

In all honesty though, it was not as tough as I thought it was going to be. Yes, the first day was hard, and the second day I had almost uncontrollable urges to log into Facebook but I’ll have you know I stood strong in the face of temptation.

As with the breaking of any habit, the first week was the hardest. Ignoring the notifications that were demanding my attention felt like a sacrilege. I also couldn’t quite shake the feeling that I was missing something, without being able to give voice precisely to what.FB

I also admit that I missed interacting with everyone on FB….interacting with living, breathing people….although you have to wonder if some might be using false identities. Hahahahaaa!

And now that I have come back to FB there are countless requests to play Pet Rescue Saga, Candy Crush Saga, Bejeweled Blitz, and of course,Farmville among countless others. Yes, I had to go through each of those requests and turn them off because I don’t do Facebook games. Period. Sorry friends.

In taking a sabbatical I came to realize that my life is busy and I’m easily distracted and then it’s easy to feel overburdened and overwhelmed.

I had to be honest and admit that often what causes me anxiety is electronic entertainment/media. Whether it be pinterest, linkedin, tumbler, twitter, texting or email….when I feel available all the time it sometimes becomes too much.

I have come to learn that there is something deeply spiritual about honoring the limitations of my existence as a human being—physical being in a world of time and space.  There is a peace that descends upon my life when I accept what is real rather than always pushing beyond my limits and boundless joy that comes from delighting in God and God’s good gifts

leads

There is just something about being gracious and accepting and gentle with myself at least one day a week (Sabbath) or for a period of time that enables me to be gracious and accepting and gentle with others.

I have definitely found there is a freedom that comes from being who I am in Christ and resting in Him that eventually enables me to bring something truer to the world than all of my doing. It is when I allow myself to be human in the presence of my Lord and Creator, that I touch something more real in myself and others than all that I am able to produce or make happen.

pause and rest If I think about the time I spend (daily) watching tv, texting, emailing, Facebook, work, family etc, it’s no wonder too often I limp around spiritually, emotionally and physically unhealthy….I haven’t had time to rest!!

I don’t take the time to be renewed….to even have the mental resources and capacity to choose life. The busyness of our lives affects my decisions and my decisions in turn affects those around me. There is something freeing about understanding our limits…..choosing times of rest and proving to ourselves that we can actually live without social media for a time.

As my Facebook-free month started coming to a close, my resolve did waver a bit. I will admit to checking my Facebook notifications more than once, I even “liked” a couple of status’s!! But I no longer feel as though FB takes up so much of my time-a definite win. From my sabbatical, I also learned that Facebook does have positive aspects for me, maybe more than negative.

 

I realized that I just need to change the way I use it, but other than that, it will continue to be a social media tool for me. I will continue choosing to use Facebook to post constructive, positive, and inspirational things, and hopefully through that, I can influence others to be more loving, more giving, more compassionate.

And the main thing that this sabbatical did for me was to give me the time to write on my blog….it gave me time to read, to pray and seek my Heavenly Father…..and I did hear from Him.

Through writing, listening prayer, and taking time to care for myself, I feel a lightness in my spirit, a peace in my soul and a new freedom in my heart. I took time to get some Myofascial release massage and allowed myself some time to sit and talk with my spiritual counselor….all these things were good for my soul and much needed.rest2 I had gone for a long time not writing, and I missed it….and whether anyone reads it or not, blogging is good for my soul, it helps to keep my thoughts directed upward.

Now that my self-imposed sabbatical is over, I will definitely go back to sharing my life on FB, but I hope to do so in a way that is definitely more mindful.