Limits

I was feeling brave last week.

I was looking for a place to work, and my mind went to the coffee shop I used to love but is now tainted with memories of trauma. I had been once before for a meeting, and it had been hard. Maybe even a little ugly. But I had survived.

Desperately I wanted the physical reminders of trauma to be gone. I didn’t want my heart to race uncontrollably. I didn’t want to feel lightheaded, and I didn’t want to think my stomach might betray me.

I wanted to be able to walk into the darn coffee shop and work the hours away.

But I couldn’t do it.

Danger

Pulling up to the light at the edge of the parking lot, the gravity of my body’s response was too much. The panic grew too strong. My mind could not win the war being waged. I wanted to fight, but instead, I had to flee.

The next hours were spent lying on my couch trying to recover. It didn’t come easily. In fact, it took days.

The past months have been filled with hard work. I have gone to the scariest of places and opened myself to the most vulnerable of emotions. I have pursued healing with relentless passion, and I believe it is coming.

But I still have limits. There are still places that are too tender, too wounded to move past quickly.

Once upon a time, those limits really hacked me off. I didn’t want to acknowledge their boundaries. I resented they were so unyielding.

Today I find myself respecting them. Do I wish they weren’t there? Sure. But I have been growing in grace. Instead of fighting, I’m willing to embrace my limits exist. Those limits are the basis of how I can care for myself.

This is a shaky road I walk. Every step is a risk. But I am seeing the risks pay off. I am seeing kindness replace condemnation. I am making choices that are good, even when they feel like the last thing I want to do.

I can not say enough what a precious thing hope is. Hope is growing friends. It’s growing.

 

 

 

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A Parting of the Fog

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The clouds outside were dark, and the rain fell and fell until puddles claimed more than not. Grey threatened to invade and take up permanent residence in my psyche. Every hour felt hard.

As I wallowed in my own melancholy and loathing of the darkness, I had coffee with a new friend who has walked a similar road. There were not answers, but there was rest in knowing I’m not the only one. I welcomed the relief of hearing someone else share the same struggle of doubt and fear.

Depression tells many lies. One I hear often is that nobody sees me. I struggle to believe my little story is of any consequence.

On a day that same week, I was at the office later than normal. Another new friend found his way to my space. He reads my words and knows my longing for freedom. He recognizes it because he once had to fight for his own freedom. He is a speaker of hope, and he took time to speak hope to me.

The day that follows brings lunch with an old friend. A friend who knows brighter parts of me. She asks about the hard places because she wants to see them. She is not afraid. She has heard about the darkness for years, and yet she still asks. She speaks light and beauty and grace and hope.

My heart reflects the grey and gross outside my window, but my fog parts for awhile. This is grace. This is God caring deeply for me.

He sent one after another until I relented and could do nothing other than acknowledge His tender care. The lie that tells me nobody sees was crushed for a time. And the dark outside my window did not completely invade. Light came repeatedly through the words of those He put around me.

He is caring for me. Often I can only see the faintest glow right in front of my feet, but with every step I take, it is there. He continues to provide, despite my anxiety and dread otherwise.

This is hope for me. It wavers, and it comes and goes, but I will remember the week it pulsed strong.

It was good.

Hiding

I’m diving deeper. It is so, so hard.

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I sat with the hope-speaking counselor today and spoke things I’ve never spoken before. It shocked me. I have spent years burying those thoughts. I did such a good job, in fact, it startled me I could even say them out loud.

For 20 years I have been running from desire. My home taught me feelings are optional. They don’t change the facts. A logical decision is always the right one. Well-intentioned mentors instilled in me the danger of desire. The heart can’t be trusted.

So I got really, really good at ignoring desire. It worked great until the hurt became too much. Disappointment overwhelmed me. I moved from not acknowledging to outright numbing.

Just in case you’re wondering, depression is a great game of numbing. Numbing the bad sounds appealing until you realize it sucks the joy too.

Part of my healing lies in tackling this beast haunting me for two decades.

Last week I told the hope-speaking counselor I was beginning to feel a little brave. He replied with, “Then take a risk.” Today risk is slapping me in the face.

This is risk. This. Choosing to dive into the murky and dangerous black of desire.

What if it spins me out of control? What if I sink in discontent so deeply I’m not able to climb back out?

What if desire cuts even the few thin strings on which my faith is resting?

I write, and I hear, “Nothing is too big for God.” Take the risk.

Last week I listened to a podcast with Dan Allendar and John Eldredge. They were talking about the restoration of the heart. Do you know what Dan Allendar said?

“Hiding is the only thing standing in our way of restoration”

Ouch. I have not only been hiding this place, I have been trying to even forget it is there. I am filled with fear. I am so very afraid of what lies within desire.

There is no good in darkness. It has to come to the Light. I want restoration even more than I want to not expose what I have been hiding.

Help me, Lord Jesus, to be brave.