Thoughts: Becoming Myself, Chapter 6

treasure box

“A Treasure Chest” by LifeIsPixels, 2012

“From Accepting to Embracing” has been the hardest chapter for me so far. The most challenging, I should say. Because it encourages me to dream. Immediately I withdraw, shake my head, flee the building. Dreaming is too risky. There’s too much disappointment involved. Loss, heartache, pain, self-blame, accusations of failure. Like so many other people, I’ve stuff my beautiful box of dreams deep down inside. It’s okay to peek on occasion, then quickly stuff it away again. Gazing at the contents too long is dangerous. Because it shows me (or appears to be showing me) how far along I expected I’d be by now. Compare that with the reality, and things look a little bleak and very discouraging.

When I become frustrated with how my writing is going, my husband will often say something that doesn’t exactly help. “Well, at least you’re getting to write.” It’s only been in the last week that I’ve been able to articulate why this statement is like tearing a band-aid off an amputation. In order to articulate this pain, I had to remember why I chose to write in the first place. My motive had become lost in the act of actually pressing on word after word, day after day. The end goal, surprise, surprise, goes beyond having a book or ten published. I don’t shoot for the stars or anything, sheesh.

Now, to discuss this causes me to approach a precipice of panic, because the box is hanging wide open. My lifelong dream was not to write. Gasp! It wasn’t. That came later. It was to travel. My childhood vision of my adult myself was of me making a living so that I could travel the world. I loved National Geographic magazine, not for the articles, but for the visions of faraway places and people living in mysterious and wonderful ways. When I was little, I thought this dream was a simple one, attainable, black and white. I get cash, I buy a ticket, I travel to this place, then a while later, to that place.

In my complete ignorance, I chose writing to pay my way. Yeah, I know, you other writers out there are probably laughing. And you’re right. Most writers can barely pay bills by selling stories, much less afford the luxury of travel. Did I know this when I was sixteen? Pft.

Here’s something else. I gave up having children in order to achieve this goal. Writing in quiet, traveling during the school year, didn’t jive with the conventional life with kids. So here I am, almost 37 (dear God, keep away the panic) with neither a traditionally published novel nor travel nor children. What was the sacrifice for? Doubt floods in. Terror quickly follows. I chose a path. But that path, it seems, ends in a stone wall. Stuff it away, hit the keyboard again, don’t expect much. Then I can’t be disappointed.

So Chapter 6 leaves me with more questions than answers.

Unsettling Quotes

“God dreams big. And he invites us to dream big with him. God has planted dreams and desires in each one of our hearts, and they are unique to us. Opening up our spirits, our minds, our hearts, our imaginations to what we would really like—to even the possibility of wanting—allows the Holy Spirit to awaken parts of ourselves that are in such a deep sleep no dreams are happening.

When we dream with God, we don’t want to run to thinking, How can I make this happen? Dreaming with God isn’t about how. It’s about what.”

(Becoming Myself, p. 100)

To which I asked, “And the point of this dreaming is…?”

On the very next page, Stasi goes on to say,

“The point … is to allow God to access the places in our hearts where dreams and desires are planted. God speaks to us there. About himself. About ourselves.” (p. 101)

girl dreaming To which I asked, “But why?” I’m a “why” person. I ask ‘why’ as often as a toddler. If “why” isn’t answered, the concept has no meaning for me and does not reach the heart of the issue. Why should I dream if it only causes regret and pain? Is it not better to suck it up as a loss and move on? My life hasn’t turned out as I worked my tail off for it to be. Period. There is no going back. What good does it do to hold on to the same ol’ dream?

“Awakening and owning the dreams that God has placed in our hearts isn’t about getting stuff or attaining something. It’s about embracing who we are and who he has created us to be.” (p. 102)

Okaaay? And that is …? Someone who dreams of world travel but gets to sit at home? What is the point of that?

“There is a reason you have the desires you do. … Let God use your dreams to guide you into the fuller expression of your unfolding glorious self!” (p. 103)

Aaaaaargh! What is this even saying? I know what I want it to mean, but that leads me down the dangerous slope that I’ve utterly failed, that I chose the wrong life. This chapter is supposed to be comforting, encouraging women to be butterflies emerging from cocoons. But this is my pressure point, okay? So how is this implication not supposed to scare the crap out of me?

“By dreaming and writing them down, we aren’t demanding they come true. We are just owning the reality that they are a part of us. And since they are a part of us, we embrace them.” (p. 103)

… So Icheerfully wave as world travel passes me by. Yeah, no, this isn’t very comforting either. I embrace my dreams all right, and since I centered my entire life around this particular dream, the not-attaining it is kind of a problem. All I have is the brittle comfort that I’m still young. It could still happen, but don’t look at the vision in full color, just glance at it on occasion, from the corner of my eye. Otherwise, hope creeps in, and all those negative clichés about spinning wheels in a muddy rut and bashing against that stone wall.

Just get back to the keyboard. Head down, press on. My life is great. I am blessed beyond deserving. Really! I know this. But in this most vital area of my blessed life, I’m aiming at a target and haven’t hit the mark yet. One of my biggest fears is that I’ve been aiming at the wrong target all along.

Verse of Encouragement: Troubles

Sunrise view from our cabin above Twin Lakes, CO, 2014

Sunrise view from our cabin above Twin Lakes, CO, 2014

A road trip wonderfully interfered with routine, so I haven’t been in a place to read the next chapter of Becoming Myself or blog about it. Should get back into the swing of things next week. Until then, this poignant passage about God’s faithfulness and desire for restoration just sang to me.

Your righteousness, O God, reaches to the highest heavens.
You have done such wonderful things.
Who can compare with you, O God?
You have allowed me to suffer much hardship,
but you will restore me to life again
and lift me up from the depths of the earth.
You will restore me to even greater honor
and comfort me once again.

Psalm 71:19-21

I guess life’s troubles have often been compared to climbing mountains. It’s so apt a description that it’s even become a  cliche. But it was illustrated quite vividly last week when I attempted to climb Mt. Elbert, Colorado’s highest peak (its lower slope is visible on the right side of the photograph). Troubles definitely look intimidating from the ground, with all that progress still to go. Keep your head down, trudge on, one step at a time. Lungs burn, legs give out, the trail goes on and on, and there is still more mountain to climb.

Sometimes the mountains even win. For a while. But they can also cause us to realize our weaknesses, where we need God to intervene and help strengthen our faith, our character, our maturity. Then, we mount the slope again, again, again, until one day we can say, “I got this,” and suddenly the summit no longer looms overhead but lies beneath your feet.

Thoughts: Becoming Myself, Chapter 4

Mothers. The hand that rocks the cradle moves the world.

In Chapter 4 of Becoming Myself, “Our Mothers, Ourselves: part 1,” Stasi discusses the Father Wound and Mother Wound, focusing mostly on the latter. I know my mother reads this blog, so I need to let her know that I have identified and dealt with my Mother Wound. Years ago, actually, so exploring this chapter has been a good reminder of healthy progress, more than a painful journey of discovery. I won’t go into detail because, I feel, this issue lies between my mom and me.

Part of the healing came when I resolved to stand up for myself. Part of it came from going on an extended trip with my mother to Europe. If you need resolution on some things, take a month-long trip through a country where the only person who speaks your language is your mother, and see if things don’t change a bit.

In 2009, while we were in Paris, about Week 2 of what really was a stressful trip, I finally had an emotional breakdown. I got stuck in the subway station, in Paris’s version of a turn-style; the party I was with chose to walk from our hotel to the touristy areas instead of take the very competent and very available buses; with all the glorious food Paris offers, all I had to eat that day was a hotdog on a dry baguette; and that night, when I was exhausted, hungry, sweaty, sooty, and footsore, I got locked out of my hotel room. I lost it. My mother caught the full brunt of my rage. She saw me at my worst. She spoke to me in my language, words I had never heard her use, which aren’t clean enough to quote here, but it was like a slap to the face. In the middle of my sobbing, I started laughing. I sobbed a bit more, took a shower, and apologized. She apologized. It was stiff and awkward for both of us. For the rest of that evening, things remained tense between she and I, between the rest of our party. It was just not a happy situation.

snapshot, Mom and Me, Notre DameWe got a good night’s sleep and rose early the next morning to resume our touristy activities. I insisted we take the bus. Oh, yes, the buses in Paris are worth every euro. Mom and I still hadn’t really looked at each other after our tiff. Then when we were standing in front of Notre Dame’s iconic façade,  a member of our party asked for my mom and I to stand together for a picture. I remember smiling at her, risking, hoping. And thank God, she smiled back. A tentative smile at first, then genuine. It was like forgiveness. It was like her saying, “I still love you—with all the stuff I don’t understand about you.” In the picture our arms are wrapped around each other, and we actually mean it.

We came away from that month-long trip with a new sense of camaraderie. The kind that doesn’t have to be spoken. Our relationship just seemed … easier … after that. We had endured each other, we had connected, and gained what I hope is deeper understanding.

FAVORITE QUOTE

“Mothers bestow self-worth, and they have the ability to withhold it. Intentionally, but more often unintentionally. A mother cannot pass on what she does not possess…. Mothers have the ability to withhold acceptance, value, love. Our mothers failed us when, without meaning to, they passed on to us low self-esteem. Or based our self-worth on anything other than the fact that we exist.

God does not do that.

Our worth is not based on what we do, which life path we choose, or what we believe. Our worth is inherent in the fact that we are image bearers of the living God. Our worth is based on the fact that we are alive. We are human beings. Our worth is immeasurable. …

We are all hostages of such value that it took the blood of God himself to pay our price. You have worth beyond counting.”

(Becoming Myself, 76)