How to help when someone you love’s life is upside down

Today I watched you play and all the world just fell away.

It was exactly what I needed, because lately my worlds felt heavy and today I couldn’t carry it a second longer. I needed to remove the load and walk away, even if only for an evening. 

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We were at grandma and grandpas- great grandparents to you- in the same home, with the same smells and the same blankets to cuddle in. The ones I used to wrap myself in when I was your age. 

I watched grandma run after you, sing songs, play pretend and teach you new tricks, all the while you squealing and babbling in delight. She used to do that with me too. 

I watched her pick Disney movies, pull you up on the big soft bed and dim the lights so the room was all cozy. She used to do that with me too. 

She fed you dinner, poured you juice and sent you home with a Nic Nac bag or two. She used to do that with me too. 

And while nothings changed – no problems were solved and no deep conversation was had – everything felt right in my world.  What we shared instead was something better; something mommy needed more instead: comfort, company and simple unconditional love.

Because 90% of showing you care is simply showing up. 

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Love doesn’t always have to try – to be intense, exhaustive or laborious. It doesn’t always have to have the answers or silver line the hard stuff. Is doesn’t always have to ask questions. Love is sometimes just about being there; being humble and quiet, ordinary and predictable. 

‘Cause when all the world feels upside down, this kind of love speaks louder. 

 

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When there’s a war inside you and life feels all together hard

God has a funny way of giving us exactly what we need at exactly the right time. 

For example, my husband and I have been working through this book for the past 6 months but it was given to us almost 2 years ago by friends. The day we started it, we were at a cross roads in our relationship and we begged for direction from God and he brought the book – which we had both forgotten about– to mind.

We planned to plow through it in a few weeks, while simultaneously fasting media so all our undivided attention was on it. Quickly that fell to the way side and while initially I had guilt over it, I know now that guilt wasn’t from God – it was simply my hyper religious tendencies that wanted to wow God with my discipline.

 Instead, we’ve allowed God to prompt in our hearts when it’s time to work through the next chapter and without fail, every single time we open it, it’s exactly what we need and meets us where were at; many times its been the insight we were begging for or an answer to our prayers. 

Yesterday he did it again, twice.

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First, by leading me to this podcast which normalized feelings I’ve been battling for months. It affirmed the gruelling, exhaustive and painful nature of the grieving process – validating the exact experiences and emotions I’ve been walking through for months.

I burst into tears. The little girl in me finally heard, “You’re not a freak, Kailey. This too shall pass. Everything is going to be OK.” 

Then later that evening, we walked into our family therapists office expecting to talk about one thing before she completely flipped our session on its head, zeroing in on me and the shame I’ve been carrying and beating myself up with.

She taught me about the two parts of my personality that are at war with each other: the General [the over achieving, try harder, responsibility taking, buckle up your boot straps, I can do anything, brush it off, side of me] and the wounded soldier [the one who actually fights and feels the battle and gets wounded in the process. The part that has vivid recollection and memories from the wars she’s faced, and will forever feel and experience life through that lens]

They’re supposed to be family, loving each other for their strengths and knowing their roles- working together for good – but instead they’re hating each other, creating division in my heart and tearing each other down. 

In essence, they’re each others’ worst enemy.

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I’d been begging God to give words to the war I’ve been experiencing inside me, because while on the outside I might seem fine, on the inside I’m completely beat up and bleeding. I feel helpless on most days and all together incapable of managing the simple acts of day to day life.

Some days, all I can manage to do is write, watch tv, have a conversation, drink coffee and I’m still all together spent by the end of it.  And on other days, when life just feels too hard and the grieving to great, I need to check out for a while – to numb the hurt by going to Starbucks, watching a movie, go shopping or eat a sundae. 

But that doesn’t make me weak, a bad Christian or a freak! This is all together normal for someone who is in the thick of grieving and I know those things can fix me; Only Jesus can. And He is with me in those moments; He does them with me!

Whether I’m praying or not, Jesus knows my heart and he knows I know, he is my true comforter – not those activities. 

But I need to stuff the General’s voice aside and own the truth: 

It is not my responsibility to change my circumstance, to heal me, to change me or to rid myself of hard emotions. That is Jesus’s.

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My only responsibility is to be authentic in all this – to vulnerably acknowledge what’s going on in side me no matter what it looks like and to take it to Jesus rather than run away. 

What I need most right now is the time and space to heal, to be unconditionally loved and taken care of, not beat into submission or told I’m weak. I need to let the wounded soldier have her voice because truly, she is my heroine, not the General. She is the brave courageous one who will do the messy, hard work of grieving and healing, leading me to victory. 

She will know freedom and live to tell the story. 

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Lord, silence the negative voices, including my own; let your voice of empathy and your voice of love be louder. Help me Jesus, to run to you and not run away from the war inside me. Lead me out of temptation; away from guilt, shame, blame or independence. Thank you that you love me in the mess and that you never leave me in the dark. Thank you that I see the flicker of light and that redemption is on the horizon. Search my heart, oh Lord, and finish the work you have started in me.

Invisible crossroads

Theres something about the dark I find exhilerating…

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The way it calls me to cozy down and cuddle to what feels comfortable. The way it slows me still and my ears attune to quite nothing.

And then theres other parts of it that terrify me..

the loneliness that closes in. The lies that circle my heart. The doubt and unknown that whisper hope is fleeting.

A juxtaposition of fear and hope…

and like the true light that knows no darkness, my hope in him glimmers in darkest hours.

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When I run to everything that lies it fills… books. food. relationships. busy. work. never ending lists of mundane that promise to distract… I hear his voice whisper gently to stop and come to him.

My heart hears it. It tells me to stop and turn to him. To run with open arms to the one who’s comfort’s complete.

But my defiance wins far too often. Far too stubborn and self reliant. Still I run to the temporary comforts that leave me emptier and more desperate for him.

‘Till I’m face down on the floor in defeat. Till I’ve pushed in my own strength and theres nothing left. Till my soul feels parched for the water that will never leave me thirsty…

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Why, oh why do I do this, time and time again Lord?

The battle of flesh and soul that leaves me marred – invisibly beaten and battered.

In the quiet of my suffering, He speaks truth to a heart that’s ready to recieve.

You doubt me, my child. That what I have is enough. You love the gifts more than your giver and know the works of religion, more than the knowing and pursuit of me.

Now wait. Before you beat yourself up and listen to the lies. I know your heart. You love me. Oh, you desire me. But your expectations get in the way. Your fears rip my grip from your hand. And your doubt suffocates my promises.

Oh, how I know this to be true. How I live passionately for my time here on earth. How I deep down think He owes me a nice life and the fulfilment of my every pursuit and desire. That he’ll make my name great. For his sake, of course. Yah right…

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That somehow I’m privy to exemption of pain, because I’ve been dealt enough suffering for one life, thanks.

In the silence I hear the prays of a 6 year old kailey that asks the unthinkable of him. And he answers. Me believing my prayers caused such horrific pain. The pain that would rip my family to pieces and would close my heart to grace for decades.

But we’ve all been dealt pain- a full house of suffering.
And it’s that exact pain that produces perseverance, character and hope…

IF! I remind myself….

..IF we’ll give it to the One who promises to make good of it! To use it for his glory.

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Give it to me. He begs gently. Unclasp your hands for just a moment and let me show you. My burden is easy and my yoke light.

We all face this choice.

Today I have a choice. To continue running from my pain – the past I’ve put into boxes and shoved in the back of my closet and “forgot” about. The boxes that spring cleaning has dug up and sit heaped upon my bedroom floor waiting to be dealt with…

Will I stuff them back away, to only resurface again or will I take the time to carefully unpack them, sift through the useful and the junk thats taking up precious space and make room for something better?

Do you trust me, He whispers?

I stare into the darkness, face to face with my invisible cross road.

All it takes is 20 second of insane courage, I repeat.

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And without words, I breath deep, nod and fix my eyes on the glimmer of light ahead.