Friday, July 15, 2016

Keep your eyes open

I’ve been feeling very overwhelmed over the past couple of weeks. A lot of negative emotions and reactions caused by everything I have experienced in my life and things that are happening at the moment. Though overall, I feel I am doing a great job of controlling what I am feeling. And no matter what I feel, I always have a grateful heart and soul. I try hard to be and to express my gratitude. But sometimes, our feelings need expression in order to heal and move on. Something happened earlier this week, which kind of served to open my eyes. See, with everything I am going through, I easily allow my problems, what’s worrying me to dominate my mind and to weigh on my soul. I’ve got to admit and I want to apologize for this that with many interactions I have been having, I end up speaking about my problems. I am very grateful for amazing friendships with people who understand what I am going through. I know that they too, have a lot of problems. But something happened that made me question the ways that I have been approaching issues. I’ve been seeing a spiritual counselor for a couple of weeks. And each time I enter his office, I take the opportunity to unload my issues. The last time I met with him, he asked me if I had a goal in my meetings with him. In answer to his question about what my goal was, I told him that I wanted to work through a bit of the shame and fear I was feeling and to retrain my inner child. To continue, he started asking me some questions about my life and my situation. The way he was asking them encouraged me to dig into some of my feelings about myself. One of the questions he asked me was what I am doing to face my fears. Man! He really helped me realize how well I am doing, especially in the face of all I have endured in this life. It was so wonderfully refreshing. I’ll share with you the same story I shared with him after a while. For most of my life, I've had a pretty crippling fear of heights. I couldn't even step up four rungs of a ladder before my body would start to force collapse into the fetal position. I’d been watching Youtube videos of people’s experiences on the Edge Walk for a couple of weeks prior. I had absolutely no intention of going on that but was watching because I knew I wanted to challenge my fears. I imagined starting in a smaller way. Still, I’ve got to admit it looked so exciting. I skirted around the idea of buying tickets a couple of times, even going to the point of inserting my details into the form before closing the browser in a huff of anxiety. Until, one day I decided I was finally going to do it. No regrets right? So, like an idiot, I posted on my Facebook page that I was going to do the walk in order to challenge a lifelong fear. There was no backing out at that point. That morning, the day of the walk, I woke feeling near death with anxiety. I had difficulty even getting out of bed. Anyways, my body tremoring like a leaf, I got on the bus and went down to Union Station. Then I cabbed over to the Tower, just shivering in fear. I was terrified that I would have a panic attack in the middle of the walk and not being able to come inside. I met a couple of amazing people who did the walk with me. They seemed to welcome me very easily and happily allowed me to join in their discussion. I think our ease of friendship was increased because of the fear we felt. At least, that’s how I feel. Anyways, I appreciate their talking to me. It was very nice. They strapped us up pretty well. My stomach was dropping and I felt like I was consciously choosing death, though surely knowing the contrary to be true, stepping out. Stepping out was terrible. The hardest part was looking over the edge first, trying to move my toes up to the edge. Once I was out there for a couple of minutes, an amazing sensation of deep peace felt like it washed across my senses. It was amazing. I remember repeating to myself over and over, every time I felt anxiety, ‘I trust you, Lord Jesus’. It got to the point where I didn’t have to hold on to the harness to walk. And I was looking down to the city through the grate most of the time. Amazing! What a marvelous experience! Once I came down, I felt a little bummed out actually. I had just started to get comfortable up there and, at that point, could have spent a couple of hours. I literally feel like I had so much fun that I could have just walked around in circles around the top of the tower until the sun set. I had such an awesome time! It felt liberating and empowering to stand up for myself, the rights I know I have always had and to challenge the fears. This particular fear, for me, was devastating. I feel like it is one fear I will never have to face in the same way again. That is to say, the fear won’t challenge me as deeply any more. I will say here, though there is going to be a post about it in the future that I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. I've been healing for a number of years. One thing I have learned with the trauma in my early life is that in order to heal, we sometimes have to reopen how we felt about a lot of the stuff that happened to us. As much as we need to go back and revisit old wounds and the feelings associated with them, in order to heal, we also need to rest. We need to stop and take a look around. Not only at all of our accomplishments, which can be easily brushed aside when we get caught up in our healing. But also, we have to look around at the incredible Creation that surrounds us. That we are very much a part of and are connected to. We have to remember our value as human beings. It is easy to hold on to the Gospel in our sunny days. But we need to hold on to hope when the storm clouds of fear are in the sky. Our spiritual journey does not always lead to human happiness or freedom from fear and worries. Rather our journey locates the insights, strength and courage we need to face that which makes us afraid. The amazing truth is that with Christ in our hearts, with even a small amount of faith, we can accomplish any feat. Because we know that God is on our side. Learning to heal from many traumas in my life has taught me how important the Gospel of Christ is to me. It is in healing, in moving back and reliving our shame and our anger and our fears that we experience emotions that were never validated or allowed to process. It is in approaching and retraining our inner child to trust us that we allow the injured part of ourselves to be vulnerable and to grow. It is in retraining our hearts, by replacing the wounds and the lies from how we were treated as children with the love of the Gospel that we are able to let go of the loss and move forward to living the life that God always intended for us. We have nothing to fear in fear. "I will show you fear in a handful of dust" - TS Eliot. We deserve better than our fears. Because waiting on the other side of them, are joys and feelings - a life - we can’t know anything about if we don’t step past them. I've done a lot in the past to challenge myself. And no matter how rough things get, I can’t lose sight of two things: First of all, that I am doing better than how I feel in difficult times. That I am bigger than my problems. And second and most importantly that I am so incredibly loved, valued and cared for by a God who created literally everything. Whoever you are, wherever you have been, you are so worthy. This is not about what you've done. Rather it's all about what's been done for you. Indeed, whatever you have done, we are so blessed to have such a loving Father in Heaven who is so passionate about us for our good. He is in love with us. Keep your eyes open to your own wonderful potential in love. Without love, there is nothing. With love, we can do anything.

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