Friday, April 3, 2015

Whole Again...



 

Fragments

When we came to this earth we came whole.  As I watch my young children, especially little Shipton, they are without shame.  They love entirely and have joy and confidence in the little people they are as individuals.  According to Sennika, she is popular.  Leland is the best artist in the world.  Gavin is the best architect.  They are free to be.

As we begin to live life, we experience wounds of love.  These wounds of love come as we fragment ourselves.  Bit by bit we begin to leave parts of ourselves behind, bookmarking the wounds of love.  We “learn” that if we behave in certain ways or do or don’t do things, we “are not loveable,” and therefore conclude that those “parts” of us are the “bad” parts.  For some it may have taken longer than others.  Others may have even begun this sorting process while still being carried in pregnancy (go check out Bruce Lipton!).  For most of us it’s fair to say that within the first three years or so of life we had begun to hide those parts of ourselves we felt were somehow “bad” or “broken.”  And in this encapsulation of shame we vowed never to let those “parts” see sunlight because our perceptions of our past experiences had taught us we would be hurt or we would hurt others.  This is not an accident and to some degree we all experience it during our time on the earth.

The problem is these “bad” parts of us kept bubbling up the surface, threatening to come out or even at times making a quick escape before we can stuff it back down.  We shove them deeper down.  We used more duct tape to keep them there this time.  No matter our efforts, they would continue to float to the surface like a balloon filled with helium---seemingly unaware of the laws of gravity.

We find ourselves stuck in old patterns and belief cycles.  It can be much easier to see the good in others or to watch the atonement work for them, but sometimes we think we are some how the exception.  We feel isolated in our shame and get caught thinking we are the only ones with "bad" parts.  Maybe we are unaware on a conscious level that this is happening, but maybe we have been walking around with a pit in our stomach and feeling guilty for no reason we can put our finger on.  

The ego, or natural man, perpetuates the illusion of separateness and separation from God.  The brain literally registers new beliefs as pain.  We grit our teeth and muster our will power and try harder to white knuckle and force the suppression of the "bad" parts of us---to just push harder.  This is not our loving God' plan.  We cannot somehow bypass the natural man nor our fallen natures by anything we can "create."  He didn't expect us to rely on ourselves.  He is patiently waiting for us to come to the realization that we can't "fix it," then take the steps forward to grow our hope that Jesus Christ can, then be willing to allow Him to.

I have learned in the past 6 months more clearly what I've needed Him to do with all these "bad" parts of me.

Trauma Egg

I just came home last night having spent the past 6 months doing some of the most challenging and demanding “work” of my life.  Our capstone project in my group counseling came to a pinnacle and required all of the tools and knowledge I have been blessed to spend the past 3 years developing.

My assignment was to draw a picture of each trauma for my whole entire life from earliest memory to most recent.  My wounds of love.  Those experiences that in the moment I picked up beliefs about myself that weren’t true or those experiences that were pivotal in shaping me.  Those moments that I went down a different path because of what happened.

At first it was overwhelming.  I was flooded.  I literally kept a paper on my person at all times because there was so much coming up.  It was all raw and overwhelming.  As I continued to write, the brain dumps freed up my mind for more and more and more.  It felt like it was never-ending.  Things I had done/said to others and what others had “done/said” to me.

I began meeting with my counselor 2 months ago to begin processing through it.  Next came my group.  I cannot describe the vulnerability of unrolling the giant butcher paper that held literally over 100 of the worst things I had ever done or said or had experienced.  Tears welled up in my eyes just having it exposed to those in the group.  I wanted to sink into the floor.

But that wasn’t the assignment.  The assignment was to share each and every picture.  It took me 6 weeks of 1 hour blocks to get through all of it.  This whole process has been one of the hardest things I have ever done: to allow the light to shine in the darkest corners of my life AND to have to share it, then share it again.
It has been a blessing to have extra eyes on my life.  All have helped me see it from a new perspective and that has begun to allow the atonement to heal those areas in my life that are still raw or stinging---to allow Him to shift my perspective or help me to have a different experience with these experiences.



Becoming Whole

Last night finished the assignment.  I have spent the past week preparing a timeline...taking these same drawings and laying them out with the blessings that came with these experiences below and the hand of God in my life and angels lined above.  It was clear that although there have been difficulties and challenges, I have always had everything I needed and I was always in His care (even when I couldn’t see it in that exact moment).  I asked the group, "How can you have anything but joy for me?"  It was so apparent laid out like that.  My life has been wonderful!

After the timeline, each person in the group read a letter they had written to me .  These letters were their responses to having heard EVERYTHING.  All of the “good” AND “bad” parts of me.  In that moment I held my breath wondering what their reaction would be.  Had they shuttered and pulled back?  Had they put me "in my place?"  Now that they know what I truly look like without the mask, will they still love me?

The letters were beautiful and a blessing for me.  They expressed deeper love now knowing everything than before.  There was something that was particularly profound.  One person wrote the following:

“Last [week]…after group…I drove past you while you were walking home.  By the time we realized it was you, it would have been hard to stop and give you a ride.  As I watched you in the rearview mirror walking down a busy street you liked like just another person walking down the side of the road.  No one else passing by had any idea who you were, where you were walking from (note: sharing the trauma egg assignment), what you were carrying in your hands (the giant piece of butcher paper all rolled up with all the pictures drawn out), and what you had just been through.  I did.  I felt this overwhelming feeling of wanting to go back and take you home so I could make one thing in your life easier for you.  Then the thought came to me that in your hands rolled up so tight were all your trials and burdens of the past twenty, however old you are, years (oh this person was generous on my age).  It was a nice day, and you didn’t have far to go, and you were carrying them with ease and confidence.  No one driving by would have known what you were carrying in your hands.  The analogy of ‘The Footprints in the Sand’ came to my mind.  I felt better knowing you were not walking down that road alone and you were not having to carry those trials and burdens alone.  Christ was with you guiding every step you have taken, were taking, and will continue to take for the rest of your life.  He will never let you walk alone.”

This has been my experience and I can see it clearly now and I stand as a living witness of this reality.  Not only has He carried me during the rocky times, but even when the path was smooth.  He has carried me.  The more I realize that and allow Him to, the smoother it seems, even though the terrain may be rocky.

I am becoming whole again.  I am becoming more and more comfortable with the realization that those “bad” parts of me aren’t bad at all.  I just needed to let in the light.  Just like a child fearing the shadow on the wall is a monster.  Flip on the lights, change the perception and it’s just a pile of dirty laundry.  Those things I have perceived the most unlovable and “bad” about myself are actually some of my greatest strengths and abilities.  I just couldn’t see it before.  He is bringing acceptance of all parts of who I am.

As humans we all have ever trait and characteristic, just in different combinations.  I have written before about my struggles to be more still or quiet.  In all reality, I am a vibrant quiet person.  We have within us polarities---traits that can only exist with the polar opposite being allowed to exist at the same time.  I cannot be a quiet person unless I am also a vibrant person.  We find wholeness when we allow the atonement to shift our perception.  In that shift, we can accept the existence of both polarities at the same time---a paradox.  Love carries us up and over the paradox.

Among many tender mercies through the past 6 months was the invitation to sing for our RS birthday celebration.  It was healing for me to testify through music. I have since recorded it as a music video with Sally Deford's permission HERE (and you can access my entire non-commercial album of spoken word and music for free HERE.  It's amateur at best, but it was so fun to put together!)

“I come before the throne of God
My kneeling soul is filled with wondering awe
As the Savior’s tender mercies heal the wounds of all my sins.
I praise the love that makes me whole again.

I come in hope.
I come in faith to fill the touch
Of His redeeming grace.
As I offer Him my broken heart
He heals the hurt within,
And I praise the love that makes me whole again.

Alleluia!  My healing spirit cries
As He reaches out His hand to bid me rise.
Alleluia!  Praise the healer of all men
Who makes me more than what I was
And sees beyond what I am.

And when I fall,  He lifts me up,
Restores my soul, removes my bitter cup,
For He heals my every heartache
And He carries all my pain.
And I praise the love that makes me whole again.”

I testify that no wound of love is too deep for the healing balm of the Savior.  God is waiting for us to come lay our burdens at His feet.  Jesus Christ’s grace is ready and available and will come into our lives if we allow it to.  It is through God’s love (“For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son…”) that we can become whole again.  I praise Him for that love and His great plan of Happiness.  The messy or “bad” parts of our lives were not intended to somehow be separated from His plan.  It is our allowing of His plan of happiness to be interwoven in the darkness that brings the triumph of light.

God is so good!

THEREFORE WHAT?

This challenge will require time.  Obviously, I would strongly recommend for each and every person to take the time to do an inventory in some form or another.  It isn't something to be rushed into or through, especially if your intent is to only have to do it once and to have lasting results.  This type of inventory I spoke of above not only took a long time, but required others who were trained to support me.  As a group we went through 12 weeks of training on shame so we could be prepared to hear the worst of the worst for each other without flinching or shutting down.

One of my beautiful friends has written a book that walks you through this process (and then some).  My challenge for you is to read it!  I have read it to my two oldest children and I have read parts of it to my husband.  (It would be easily followed by youth to read and applicable to men as well as women).  Jaci allows God to shine through her.  She is a masterful teacher, yet so relatable.  She shows the reader both sides: where we should/want to be, yet where we really are AND how Jesus Christ can reconcile that gap.  I cannot speak enough praise for the way she teaches the gospel...with no holes or parts I had to skip over or stuff away hidden. 

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