Running on E

Between each crisis I have been able to find small moments of calm, but as the weeks have gone on winter has done nothing but wear me down. Ice storm after ice storm makes the world a little colder, and in that cold I find a little darkness.

Still, the weeks bring combinations of pleasures and pains. Friends have been getting together and we have been building positive relationships with colorful people. People so colorful that they boggle the mind, and bring me to such laughter that I often come home beyond exhausted and in desperate need of recharging, but still longing for more exhausting nights just like it.

The truth is, the past few weeks have been a struggle. A struggle in patience. A struggle in spirit. A struggle in mind.

I’m going through the painful experience of a faith crisis, one that seems to leave me with more terrible questions than answers, and makes me feel more and more abandoned by God and desperate to stay in communication, but at a loss as to how. In a way it makes me feel a little crazy because all the emotions piling up are sort of a whirlwind of anger and fear. What does one do, when they lose faith, and how does one get it back if they miss it? Are you even allowed to miss it when it is lost? Have I really lost it at all?

I’ve been getting into more metaphysical stuff lately. A scary realm for me, yet I am no less drawn to it. It feels like a complete swing of opposition, and yet, I feel like God is so much apart of the mysteries of the universe that I cannot help but feel a little of what I’ve read can be supported by a Christian faith, and yet, some of it I find completely unconvincing. I don’t know weather to seek more information on such new things, or if I should just stop altogether and protect myself?

This all comes at a bad time too. While I have not had a huge crisis in my life I have had many small ones to deal with along the way that have just been that much more difficult as I’m dealing with the faith crisis….that and my husband is not good at dealing with any crisis, big or small, and has allowed the burden to fall on me more often than not. Which is exhausting. Little things like my husbands battery not starting, severe winter weather that keeps one home from work, and scuffles with coworkers that have bad attitudes have added only more to the deep tired I feel within me.

All of this I think directly correlates with my spiritual issues. I’m spiritually exhausted. I want to crawl in a hole in the ground and be planted there to rest until I’m recharged and renewed, or just sleep for eternity. I’m not sure which yet. It’s hard to say. I’m just so deeply depleted….of what I do not know, but it is so depleted that I feel like I’m falling apart.

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A Letter I’ll Never Send: Spiritual Abuser

Dear “brother” in Christ,

May I remind you God created woman with the intention of coming into the world through one. There were female judges in the Bible. God used a lineage that includes and mentions a harlot to come into the world. God saved Armies with women. God used women for great political and spiritual change in Scripture.

Don’t take your toxic masculine Christianity and call me the weaker sex. I have known women Biblical and otherwise who saved nations on rebellion and disobedience to men. I’ve known women who are stronger than most men. Don’t force my submission to you. Because my submission is meant for God honoring men who have earned my love and respect, not the ones who believe because they have a dick that my respect is an obligation. Also, my submission is MINE TO GIVE based on how I discern who is worthy of it.

I know who God says I am. Do you?

You can take your watered down Bible stories and toxic pride that you’ve so lovingly mixed into a cocktail of religious heresy and SHOVE IT. You can take your condemnation and eat your own bitter words. I am loved. I am forgiven. I am made beautifully and wonderfully by a creator who doesn’t see my gender and uses it against me or to exert power over me, but rather sees the state of my heart and washes it clean and renews it with love, and with that love earns my wayward heart back everyday.

Take your words, and take your lies, and get behind me Satan! You have no power here.

Christmas Eve

As a child, I don’t ever recall believing in Santa. It’s just not something that my parents perpetuated. We believed in celebrating the birth of Jesus, and by giving to each other and spending time with family and friends. Of course we did lots of other traditional things. My parents kept our gifts a secret and they didn’t appear under the tree until Christmas Day. We went to my dads parents in the afternoon and my moms mother in the evening and stayed out late. We usually fell asleep in grandmas guest room and woke up the next morning in our own beds. Christmas Day would usually be spent at home so we could stay in pajamas and play with our new toys.

There was still plenty of magic in the air. Especially if there was snow.

This year my husband and I are attending our church for one of the three Christmas Eve services. Afterward and friend is coming with us as we do a short Year Walk in the woods to contemplate all that has happened and pray for all that will. Gifts have been under the tree for a few weeks now, and my husband and I are really good at keeping secrets. We plan on giving the kitties extra treats and catnip before bed, and waking up extra early the next morning to open gifts and rest on the couch before heading to my parents house for lunch and Christmas movies.

I’m actually looking forward to it.

I leave you with one of my favorite Christmas songs. Feel free to post your favorite Christmas song in the comments. I’m always a fan of music.

My God Kept His Scars

Lately my self image has been really really bad. After certain comments my doctor made to me my last visit I’ve been trying to lose about 10 pounds of weight…and I’ve managed to gain five since then. This has caused a lot of mirror looking. A lot of watching what I eat. And a lot of eating bad things out of rebellion because I have a lot of inner conflict about my image and what self-care really looks like. Because cookies feel like self care even if their 400 calories for two Girl Scout cookies. Pissed.

So I’ve spent a lot of time being self-critical of my physical image. Wondering if this meat bag is really worth taking care of. I noticed my stretch marks and scars from my insertion sites for my insulin pump. I wonder if it’s really worth trying to look and feel better. It’s not like the scars are going away for the stretch marks. it’s not like the weight is shedding like I had hoped it would, and as I’ve spoken of in previous blog post, the more insulin you take the fatter you tend to get. And as an insulin-dependent diabetic I can’t just stop taking insulin (a habit I got into in college when I realized I could just shed weight if I did) and expect to get better too.

Last night I felt particularly distraught over the state of my physical being. Which of course that’s silly because I’m not really fat whilst I am getting bigger, but my doctor’s very poor phrasing, when talking to me about my weight gain upset me deeply, and because I’m an introvert and I fear shallowness you can imagine I had a great deal of inner conflict while I sat there crying on the couch alone in the dark wondering if I was ever actually going to get healthier and thinner.

It has taken me so long to finally determined I wanted to do it the right way and here I was struggling with all these conflicts within my heart and my mind and asking God why.

While I sat in the dark and my cat curled up on my stomach purring loudly as if she knew that this was a problem I was having and my stomach was the cause, a thought occurred to me that felt very outside of my own actual thoughts. I’ve only ever had this happen to me once in my whole life where I had a thought occur to me that I’m pretty sure I could not have thought of on my own. But this particular thought was a quiet whisper to my heart:

“You have a God who kept his scars.”

For those of you who are not religious this probably doesn’t have a ton of meaning to you, but to me this means everything. I grew up in a Christian worldview, which I still hold to this day and while people call it “religious” I call it faithful. Granted I realize I really do suck at being a Christian. While I am a child of God and I have that assurance, most days I don’t feel like a child of God. And I know it’s not a feeling it’s simply a truth that is not dictated by my emotions, but emotions are so real. So very real. That they feel like the truth.

So on this night, while I laid in the dark and had this sudden thought occur to me, I broke into tears as it really penetrated my soul. My God really kept his scars. Those things I condemn on my own body I had a God who showed up in a room full of hundreds of his believers after he had passed and risen again with his body completely mutilated as a symbol of him truly passing and truly rising again, a task no mere human could ever accomplish and yet is the basis for my faith and my redemption. Did I not find those scars beautiful when I first came to faith, and do I not still find them beautiful now for what they represent? How have I gotten so far from my faith that I became so wrapped up in myself and my own body image that I would condemn the things that prove that I have survived as well? Furthermore, when my soul is what matters, why did I get so caught up in what this meat bag of a body was doing?

This is not to say I shouldn’t keep trying to get healthier. In fact, I still do want to get healthier and lose weight, and I still want to do it the right way despite how discouraged I am. But all the self-conscious feelings I had about my body image had suddenly melted away on this realization that I had a God who kept all those human imperfections even in his divinity.

Christ came back with scars. And he’s coming back again and I don’t know if the scars will be there or not or what that means, but at one point he showed up and kept his scars as proof of his love. Perhaps this means that I need to own my scars and respect them for proof of my self love?

As my husband once lovingly pointed out to me loving your neighbor as yourself does require you to love yourself… despite how selfish we feel like that statement can be. There’s a lot of humility that has to go into loving yourself. There’s a lot of grace you have to give yourself. And half the time we are our own worst critics, so we don’t. We either take responsibility for everything and feel the weight of the world on our shoulders, like everything is our fault, or we want to ignore the things that we’re supposed to take responsibility for. Either way, we become dissatisfied, self-critical, and harmful to ourselves. To the point where we can become so emotionally and spiritually distraught over something that we cannot change or undo. Why? Because were trying to play God when our brains and spirits were not meant to fathom the vastness of our own imperfection. If we were to suddenly become aware of everything we’ve done wrong and everything wrong with us physically, emotionally, relationally, and spiritually… we would be crushed and suicidal like most of us already are.

That is the whole reason we need God in the first place. For hope. Because to have hope in humanity is to know you will be failed. Even by ourselves.

An Ideal Accident III

The more I reflect on the accident and the more my husband and I talk about it, the more we find to be thankful for.

This is probably really odd to say, but it’s too true to ignore and we can only attribute it to small miracles and God’s protection.

One of the first miracles was that we were not hurt. Every time I think about the accident I consider all the things that could have gone wrong and didn’t. No gas leaks. No broken glass. No air bags went off to cause us further injury. We made it out alright all things considered. Minor bumps no some whiplash that is being dealt with and healing nicely.

Another miracle was having the accident just over the border from a no-fault state. Had we been a couple miles behind where the accident occurred we probably would have been slammed with a ticket or twelve (especially for being an out-of-state plate). Not to mention we were close enough to family that we could get off the road and moving forward to home right away without either of us having to drive in our shaken state since my aunt drove us to meet my dad half way at a job site he just happened to have near that area.

With how busy that road was….we never hit anyone else. That never ceases to amaze me when I saw how many people were around me as I was losing control trying to hold my lane. Because when we stopped spinning it was like all the traffic was gone suddenly. The road was clear for a while as we got out and assessed the damage. That makes no sense outside of supernatural to me because there were lines and lines of cars around me and behind me and then suddenly none. Even as we assessed the damage of our car in the rain, there were suddenly few to no cars so we could be safe for a little while.

The insurance has been easy. Words I never thought I’d ever say. Mostly because of no other vehicles being involved. In two weeks we have money in our hands to get the vehicle we need with more coming once it has been purchased. We have no expenses being charged to us because the deductible was met. We got no tickets because the accident was an “act of God.”

I’m not sure if the accident was an act of God, but everything else certainly was. Certainly the circumstances surrounding it were. The people who came into our situation to help us out, the “coincidences” and the timing were all too perfect to be accidental. My husband and I have found a great deal of growth in this struggle, and it has been a blessing, even while difficult. I’m learning to be more giving when organizing how each of us will get to and from work. My husband is learning to adapt, communicate, and make hard decisions…all things he has struggled with in the past. I’m learning to set limitations for myself, which have been good, and hard for me because of the pain in my neck and back. I’m usually all go, and this has made me slow down as having only one vehicle has done as well.

Another miracle has been how my husband and I have been able to have consistent work schedules that are so similar and jobs so close to one another, that we have had no issues with having only one vehicle. Yes, there is a bit less freedom in it, but it has been good for us to learn how to plan better and organize our days more to get us to the places we needed or wanted to be. It also makes us spend way more time together and we’ve been growing our communication because of it.

In all, things have been okay, now we face finding a car for my husband before winter, which while a while away, really isn’t as far off as it seems. I hope that goes as smoothly as everything else has.

The Golden Rule

“Do you ever have moments where you feel like your perspective of faith inhibits you from taking care of yourself?”

“I can’t say that I have. Why do you?” He responded groggily and slightly muffled by his pillow as he laid in bed next to me. I had been laying awake for a good long while coming painfully slowly to a personal realization.

“Yes, I do.”

“How so?”

I began explaining it in a jumbled and partially incoherent stream of thought. But the basics of it came down to this: I spent so much of my life focusing on the self sacrifice of my faith, that I had become toxic in it, and often gave up things that were healthy habits for me to continue, because I felt like they were things I could give up in order to practice self sacrifice and take care of other things or because I thought it was selfish of me to take care of myself.

For a real life example, when I got married, my husband and I began contributing to a joint account while also holding on to our own personal bank accounts so that we could build a fund together to pay for joint expenses like insurance and groceries, but still have our own money to make purchases for ourselves without needing to talk it over. Of course, I contribute quite a bit to it so that we can build a better savings, but in doing so I had to give up purchasing vitamins and lotion to take care of common diabetic issues I deal with frequently. I felt like these were things I didn’t need, but rather could do okay without. After having stopped taking my vitamins, I began to see a decline in my health, both emotionally and physically. I stopped taking my St Johns Wort, which I used to help my mood when depression was getting bad. I stopped taking a couple vitamins I used for my blood sugar regulation, and my blood sugars got higher. I stopped taking my vitamin for my kidneys and sure enough….my kidney function went down when I got them checked soon after.

Of course, I spoke to my husband about it when I began to notice the severity of the changes, and I decidedly began taking vitamins again and contributing less to the joint account to do so, but it had been a choice made in my Christian faith to contribute so much to my household financially while also allowing me to practice a form of self sacrifice and self control.

What I hadn’t understood was how backward I had it. Self sacrifice doesn’t mean giving up your health in the name of faith. It was actually the opposite. To “love your neighbor as yourself” there had to be a little love of self in there to fully understand how that works.

The more I think of it, the more I realize I had done this for relationships too. I had practiced giving myself to people by offering them my time, only to have them use me to the point of abuse. I recall a former friend ho was very toxic, controlling, and destructive. Still, I held onto a relationship with this person because I had the perspective that I was to love people no matter what, and that’s what I as asked to do out of love, stick with this person and allow the abuse. Allow the hostilities to constantly come back and hurt my feelings, because that was love and I was being forgiving.

No it isn’t and no I wasn’t.

I understand now that love can be at a distance. I wasn’t being a good loving friend by enabling their toxicity. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that everything they did to me was okay, it just gave me a means of moving on from what they did to harm me and taught me to accept an apology I was never given. I was not obligated to stay friends with them if they were becoming harmful. So I forgave them and never spoke to them again.

The more I think about it the more I’m beginning to realize that much of what I thought was selfish or at some point in my life was told was selfish of me….is actually what my faith asks me to do. It’s to be joyful and have love for myself and to take good care of myself. To invest in the things that help me to be a better person and to keep me healthy so that I can take care of others, is actually just being responsible for what I have been given in life, which is exactly what Christians are called to do.

Where the mistake often gets made is the act of overindulgence. Things that are not absolute necessities to live are what we can self sacrifice and have self control in. We are asked to take care of that which we have chosen to be responsible for or are called to be responsible for. Our responsibilities and priorities to God, ourselves and our family are what ought to be our focus. For me, my health affects a huge part of my life. If I am not doing all I can to remain healthy, I cannot take care of my husband who I promised Before God that I would take care of. If I am not healthy, I cannot take care of my home because I will not have the energy to do so. If I am not healthy, my actions are not going to be in alignment with God’s commands and I will not be in an emotional place to be kind, caring, and loving. My health holds a lot weight in my faith, and by sacrificing my health, I have found that my faith hasn’t been health either.

I can’t believe in all my years of being a follower of Christ that this had never occurred to me, but I realize more and more that so many people of faith have this backwards too. Probably the same people who lead me to this impression of sacrificing health as a means of self sacrifice, were probably told the same thing by another toxic person before them and so on, to the point that it just became a cultural norm.

Well the toxicity of my culture stops here, and it’s time to learn a little more self love.

My Best Girl (After 8 Glasses of Wine)

I Believe it was Nathan Hawthorne that said the quote “write drunk and edit sober.” I assure you tonight I intend to only do half of his instructions so tomorrow we are both surprised by what I write.

Tonight my husband and I watched a film that he bought me for our one year anniversary (on Sunday) and polished off a bottle of wine (which I certainly feel like I had more of then he did). The film was Mame. One of my favorite musicals, only because I have only ever listened to the music from the original Broadway cast and I have never actually watched any rendition of the actual musical it’s self. Until tonight that is.

I am an avid fan of musicals. Like, in a weird way. I know a lot of people have a hard time with them, but since most of us grew up loving Disney movies (which are basically animated musicals) I cannot express how saddening it is to know how few people in the world actually enjoy a good musical.

For those of you who do not enjoy musicals…I’m so sorry you’re dead inside.

Since I was little my parents had always made sure I watched anything musical they could get their hands on. From Disney films, to their sing-along-song collection, to musicals, hymns, and anything else that could be sung, it was all handed to me without further explanation. I had grown up in a musical family. My father had a bachelors in music theory and to this day is often paid to sing at weddings and funerals alike simply because he is so highly recommended in the community as a talented singer. My mother was also very talented, though not a very well advertised, singer being able to range from first alto, to first soprano before she had her thyroid removed to prevent a potential cancer which left her an alto for the last 4 years.

I myself, was once a  first soprano in high school choirs and usually asks to perform many solos. Though I hardly know what I am now since I have not actually sung in a choir or a show since high school.

Tonight I brought my husband to tears as I sung one of my favorite songs from Mame to him, to which he remarked “I often forget what a talented vocalist you are,” as he wiped away his tears, and I wiped them from my own eyes at the emotion brought to my own heart from the lyrics I sang to him, feeling every bit of them as I sang them.

Unlike my talented father, I have never been able to remove myself from the emotion of music. It is why my father has even been asked to perform at family funerals. He is able to completely detach his ability to sing from his emotions in a  way that I simply couldn’t. I’ve never been able to sing songs that I felt deeply in my heart without faltering in some kind of deeply felt emotion. I have never had the talent of the profession as he was taught. When my father taught me to sing, he had little to do with my talent. He only taught me to sing what I felt, and never took advantage of this ability to feel what I was singing. I don’t know that being able to separate yourself from the emotions of a piece while expressing it all at once was able to be taught, and yet, in his kindness, he spared it from me. Because he knew that I was not a person who’s talent came from being able to sing from teaching, but from feeling. It was a natural talent that didn’t need further cultivating. One he never drove out of me, but one I never intended to use other than at church on Sunday in the congregation.

It was my mother, when I was in high school who wanted me to use it. So she got me in the church youth band as the lead singer, and in that time we did so many church visits that I finally had to have a nervous breakdown over the things I sang before she understood how deeply I felt music when I sang it and understood that in my few years from childhood to teenager, I and become an introvert.

To this day, I have a very hard time singing in church because I had practically burned myself out on singing after that. Yet around the house I often find myself singing and humming to myself alone. Usually numbers from musicals. More often however, old hymns that most generations of church goers don’t even know exist.

My husband’s tearful reaction to my singing reminded me of the talent I often forgot to use. The one that I felt I had burned out so long ago, only to use again as I sang “My Best Girl” to him on the couch. I had forgotten how much I had enjoyed singing. How much I enjoyed sharing my emotions through music, and how much I had wished I hadn’t given it up, nearly altogether.