Tuesday, May 8, 2012

what works

I'm blogging through Kathy Escobar's fantastic series, Rebuilding after Deconstructing, in an effort to clarify some things for myself, to share my story, and to encourage forward motion. This is so not about whining or placing blame, or picking on any person or institution.  Just the story of God and me, up to now... abridged. 

An important part of this journey for me has been finding ways to run to God instead of from God, even when I'm not too sure what's what. Like I mentioned before, I truly believe this process has been mostly about re-defining who God is to a soul that's become sad and cynical over time (yup, that's me.) One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Psalm 27:13--I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

In order to have an authentic belief in God as a good being; I've needed to somehow disconnect Him from some negative associations. I've found that this sort of thing takes a lot of time, intention, and space.

Ann Voskamp's book One Thousand Gifts has been hugely influential for me. The beauty of her prose, the raw-ness of her story, and her desire to be well all resonated with me. I found comfort and inspiration in her words. I started keeping my own gratitude lists; noticing the beauty right in front of me. The thing that's really special about what Ann proposes though, is choosing to see all of the beautiful little details as gifts from God. It's brave, really, to choose to see a sunset or an unexpected surprise or the expression on your child's face while he sleeps as gifts from a loving God--it's brave when you're torn apart about whether or not He's good, anyway. It's a bold declaration of faith in what you're not quite sure of.

So that has really helped. My thank-you's began as tentative whispers, but I can see now how thanking God for the small things has made Him bigger in my life. He's in the bedtime stories, the garden planting, the momentarily clean kitchen, the coffee outside in the morning, the much-needed conversation. He's here; and I'm starting to like him again. He's starting to feel like a friend again. It's actually a little weird to say again, because in a way this all feels pretty new.

What else worked/works?

  • giving up dutiful Bible reading (the kind that stems from obligation, not love)
  • practicing stillness, being quiet, listening
  • getting honest on this blog; being braver in my conversations
  • books about spirituality
  • day to day things with my kids--I've found space in my days for prayer and contemplation, for meeting with God while I go about my routines. Also, the times when I feel overwhelmed as a parent have become points of connection with God. I'm asking for help more, and trusting that he will help me more. 
  • my job--because it's mentally and physically challenging, and I miss my family when I'm gone, and I often see my children in my patients. Because it gets me out of my head. Because it helps me to remember Jesus, the least of these, and what this is all about.
  • working through some issues in my marriage
  • pursuing the dream of foster adoption (another step of faith)
  • honoring the creative spark, making space for it

Those are the big things that come to mind. Everything is spiritual; I believe that. A healthy mind, marriage, home atmosphere, nurturing of dreams, silliness, laughter--all of those things are spiritual, so putting those things in order help me to be in tune with the divine. I feel a new steadiness because of it.

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