Against the noise.

Life is noisy, yes? Full of children and sick parents and traffic and work deadlines and too-full calendars heaped on over-worked shoulders. And that’s just the tangible stuff. Our inner lives are noisy, too. A cacophony of grief and shame and joy and sorrow and worry and trying to be the best of ourselves when we rarely offer ourselves the best. Too much noise.

It is no wonder we are all so desperately tired. I see it, sisters. I see those bags under your eyes that no concealer can conceal. I see the way your shoulders drop when someone pokes fun too close to your heart or delivers a lecture you just didn’t need TODAY. I’ve watched you slip off to another room to wipe away tears or remain silent when you wanted to scream.

I know how you weep, sisters. I receive texts  and phone calls of pains at work, pains at home, pains in broken marriages, pains deep within the heart. I’ve held hands at babies’ sickbeds and deathbeds, I’ve listened when you just couldn’t take anymore, when a husband left, or a sister betrayed. And you’ve listened to me: listened to me claw my way out of depression, listened to me weep over a broken heart, sat beside me silently  and lovingly when my people die.

That’s a lot of noise for a life, for a heart that longs to beat and live well, for a mouth that wants to laugh more than it holds back tears. That’s a lot of noise for you to bear, for all of us to bear.

Let’s all take a step out of the daily ordinary and breathe. We weren’t made to be emotional and robotic marathoners in this life. We’re human but we rarely acknowledge it. So let’s be human for a moment. Let’s breathe a little. Maybe a lot. Let’s just leave the dishes for one night and let the dirt settle and simply settle down in our souls for a moment.

The noise doesn’t allow much time for that. I know. But we are so much bigger and brighter than the noise. And we are designed for bigger and brighter things. Just breathe. That you’ve made it this far means you are already a resilient being. And the One who loves and saves will be there to breathe fresh life into your lungs when you have exhausted your resources. He loves you, tired and noisy and weary, all. And He designed you for rest. Fight against the noise. It will never serve you well.

Find rest for your soul. He is waiting, patient and true.

REST VISUAL

 

28 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” ~ Matthew 11:28-30

 

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Loss and losers.

I’m not the most comforting of souls. I often don’t have the words to say, so I don’t say anything. I think I’ve had the wrong thing said to me so many times that I refuse to be part of that sort of dialogue. This translates to some as my not caring. If they only knew how I weep alongside them in my heart.  Alas. People who don’t bother with your heart only know you by their perceptions of you, so carry on.

My lack of knowing what to say or what to do in the face of loss was made fresh this week. A darling aunt said goodbye to a friend. A dear friend said goodbye to a loved one. Another of my tribe is facing medical issues with unknown consequences for the future and so we talk and weep and encourage from afar. Loved ones losing jobs and searching for better. So much loss. So much aching.

“Sorry” feels like a paltry term in such circumstances. “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Gag me. After hearing that uttered one too many times by faithful, well-meaning lips, I have decided that funerals and hospice care rooms are the absolute worst places to show off Bible verse memorizing skills.

When I ponder my tribe, I cannot help but pray that they don’t lose. I don’t want them to lose anything: parents, friends, spouses, children, jobs, homes, innocence, joy. I want them to keep everything given to them, everything they have worked for, everything they have desired and have received. They don’t deserve to lose. But then, nothing about loss is fair.

And yet, there is some messy, beautiful grace in loss. Something about it puts some fire in a belly and some compassion in a heart. The “lose-ers” become individuals who have gained. I don’t think they want to hear that, so I won’t tell them just yet. Loss is painful, heart-wrenching, joy-stealing, and very nearly, sometimes totally, life-killing. I have seen it more in my wee 32 years than I ever thought possible and I wish this on no one. Yet we all lose. We are losers. Life, and the fact that it is terminal, demands it.

Back to the messy, beautiful grace bit. It is only after loss, after we’ve waded in it and contemplated it and shouted and cried and come to some sort of uneasy truce within ourselves, that we let it change us. How we let it change us is up to us and the responsibility for that rests on no one but ourselves. Loss can put out a fire or build an inferno, making one a change agent in the world. It can mend a heart or break a back, bring peace or make chaos, eat away at a soul or make it stronger. And that’s where grace comes in.

We cannot control what happens to us or how we lose, but we can control how much grace we give ourselves to learn from it and use the lesson wisely. We can control how much space we give to both the naysayers and the yes-men who hover in difficult times, neither of whom I want around me in loss. We can control the way we surrender to let this grace roll over us and bind our wounds and we can acknowledge and rejoice in the way that it gives us breathing space and hurting space and room to scream when we need to. We can control how long we allow ourselves to wallow and when the world wants us to get up and move on when our tender hearts aren’t yet ready, we can give ourselves the grace to still cry and continue the healing so that it is real and solid and lasting, and not some made-up show to make others feel less awkward about our vulnerability.

I think we need more of this grace, sisters. Grace for others in their times of loss, and grace for ourselves in our own grief. And if you are weeping and I say nothing, know that I’m walking/weeping/hoping with you in spirit because grace is found as much in shared silence as it is in good words. We’re all losers here. And sisters, too.

Beginning again.

I’m sitting here at my desk watching the sunrise and drinking my coffee, and all I can think about is how badly I want to write. To write down everything and everyone and every feeling and moment and sight. Putting pen to paper (or fingers to keys in this case) is how I love, how I express, how I think.

I have been pondering lately why I started this wee blog in the first place and if I even want to continue. It began initially as a place to encourage my students through reflection on my life and the lives of those around me. Well, I don’t have students anymore. I have patients. Loads of them. And I am quite certain they will never read my words. So that’s out.

What’s more, I have been so terrible at writing lately. Not in things to write on, but in taking the time to write. Most bloggers I follow write EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. They have carved space to do so. Me, the girl with three jobs and grad school ever weighing on her back, has not carved much space at all. Barely made a dent in the rock, really.

In all of this, I have to consider what remains my heart’s desire. And what I have long desired is to create an online community where women are encouraged to share their journeys and to learn to be okay with where they are, who they are, and who they want to be. I found in my female university students, in my female colleagues, and even in my own incredible tribe, that we women apologize far too often. The vast majority of us give too much, do not set healthy boundaries, and lose ourselves in pursuit of things that were never meant for us anyway, but look good when compared to the measurements of others.

I can’t fix every woman I encounter. I’m not God (thank God for that). But I can encourage and explore and give voice to what lies within a heart. I aim to do just that. And to do it intentionally. Sisters, I love you. I don’t care if you believe what I believe, do what I do, or approve of my life and the way I have carved it out. I’m not looking for your affirmation. I am looking for your story and longing for you to live it well.

So, here’s to you, sisters (and the few brothers that care what I have to say): we are on this journey together and I want to create written space for you to not apologize, but to go forth with boldness and love and vulnerability and be amazing. I’m going to write and I pray you find a little bundle of truth for you in it. And I deeply desire to hear your stories of growth and failure and hard days and good things. I cannot wait to embark on this new adventure with you.

Much love. Always and always, without end. – Dana