Monday, January 31, 2011

Continuing...Guilt and Fear

I've been thinking more on the lines of Sabbath's realizations today. I posted some of my thoughts on Facebook and a couple friends commented that they believed guilt was a tool of Satan, or rather that emotions should be classified negative or positive, rather healthy or unhealthy. Personally I think semantics are getting in the way of the point a little bit, but it kept me thinking about it, so that's a good thing!

I realized that God has never used guilt with me to draw me to repentance. He has gently pointed out error, He has convicted me of changes that needed to be made in my life, but guilt has never been a driving force of that change. When I feel guilt, when I succumb to guilt, the result is depression and the feeling of being forsaken. I have to say that I don't think anyone would consider those positive emotions.

When God calls us to change, He does it without the condemnation that guilt brings to our hearts. God's way is love. It His love that draws us to repentance. Otherwise, it is the same as a child who obeys because he/she is afraid of his parent, there is no depth in his/her obedience. When they grow older, they will rebel and hopefully learn to obey all over again in a different way.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Guilt... Anxiety... Fear... Perfect Love?

I came in late for Sabbath School this morning and to get an idea of the topic, I opened the study and jumping off the page at me was the point that guilt only came to Adam and Eve AFTER they sinned. It was not a God-created emotion, it was a consequence of sin. Interestingly enough, the speaker this morning also touched on how God draws us close with love, not with fear or guilt and then, when I got home T and I had a very good talk about forgiveness, anxiety and love.

I've been questioning myself. Am I trusting God enough? Am I failing? Am I enough? See, there is fear in my life, yet God is in my life also... If "perfect love casts out fear" (1 John 4:18), then why is there still fear in my life if God is in my life? So, I suppose the answer is that I am not yet perfect. Which, is normal and ok. In fact T has been sharing her daily devotional with me and one of them just this past week read "we cannot expect perfection this side of heaven" (and I'm paraphrasing there). So, it's okay if I'm not perfect? Are you sure? LOL

If perfect love casts out fear, what does damaged love do? So, I'm living in the fallout of damaged love and working through the fear.

I am amazed by my God. All conversations pointed to guilt, to love, to fear and back to God. T & I were talking about her anxiety attacks, when they diminished and why. We came to the conclusion/realization that it was not an event, but rather a shift in focus. If I shift my focus to God, if I truly immerse myself in His Love, His Word, His Being, will that reduce my anxiety? It has for other friends.... The stupid, inconceivable thing is that there is a part of me that is afraid to fully immerse myself in God. Why? I KNOW, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that He has only good things planned for me.

Oh. I don't believe I deserve those good things. I don't feel like I'm enough, like I'm worthy. God isn't about worth, He is about giving. I don't have to earn my value in His eyes, it is His gift, freely given to me, bought with a desperate, incomparable price. He did that for me. For me! How can I throw that away?

I need God, I so desperately cling to Him, He has been my sanity, my strength, my life for so many years.... Why does He still scare me????

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


I find it very difficult to face myself, to face my fears.

Recently D was sharing with me how she is doing a 12-step program and how liberating steps 4-6 were for her. I half-jokingly said they need a Life Anonymous group so anyone could feel they belong and were able to participate in the 12 step program. I could see the value in it, I can see the changes in D already.

It's a brave process, to look at yourself and take a fearless moral inventory. Wow. How many of us face our past pain, decisions and actions in a fearless manner? I'm lucky if I can remember 1/2 of them! What is it that makes it easier for one person to look back and face it, to look into themselves and say "this is how I feel, this is what is going on inside of me". Why am I having such trouble doing that?

Oh, right. I'm afraid that the worst things people have said about me are true. Honestly, I'm afraid that if I look too deep within myself I will find this horrid, disgusting person that no one, including myself, can stand to be around. Someone so putrefied and decayed that there is no way to make it better, no way to save me.

That's a pretty big lie. I can intellectually recognize it for the lie that it is, yet I am having difficulty accepting it as a lie emotionally. Choices says to "act your way into a feeling", but the truth is, I've been acting my way into that feeling and the fear is just growing. Of course, it doesn't help to be told how evil and vile I am on a fairly consistent and almost weekly basis, but...

Will taking a fearless moral inventory of myself help? Or will it just prove my naysayers right? Does it come down to intelligence vs. emotion? Fear vs. courage?

How is living in my fear helping me? I think I can say with all definitiveness that it is not helping me, especially considering I spent the better part of the afternoon in ER (on the advice of Health Links and the urging of good friends) over a panic attack. I feel like I could crawl right out of my skin some days, like I just need to run away and escape life for a while.

How can I make a change? I think I need to follow D's example and fearlessly face the demons of my past. Fearlessly make that moral inventory and see where God leads me. If I let Him lead, the dance will go far smoother than when I try to take over the lead. I keep tripping and falling. He can make the dance beautiful. Will He make me beautiful?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Heroes and Idols

I have always wanted a hero. The heroes of my dreams have changed through the years, but a constant remains in that I want a hero. I want someone to come into my life, really see me and come to my rescue, saving me from the pains, failures and enemies that surround me. Someone to take care of me.

Recently God called me to account on my desire for a hero, for that person who will sweep into my life and take care of all my problems and hurts. He showed me that I have made an idol of seeking someone to, well essentially, to heal me. The reality is that I have such a hero.

Jesus came into my life many years ago and there have been so many times when I look back that He has rescued me, protected me, healed me, saved me. All those things I desire, those things I look for. I guess I keep looking for Jesus with skin on, but I keep forgetting that those times I need someone with skin on, He sends them to me. It may not be exactly what I think I need, but it is most definitely what I actually need.

It has come home even more clearly in the past few months that Jesus is my hero. There are days when I still want someone else to step in and take care of me, to be the buffer between me and the nasty parts of life, but I'm remembering to turn them over to God because He truly is the only one who can handle it properly. He has never failed me, never forsaken me, He has shown His hand to me and guided me, He has clearly shown His protection of me on a minimum of two occasions.

Why do I keep doubting Him? Why do I desire for more than He gives me? Why is my faith lacking?

When I trust that I am walking in the path He has set before me, I am confident, secure and alive. When I begin to doubt I become fearful, feeling trapped and alone. I need to trust and obey. I need to keep walking even when I stumble, even when others try to dissuade me or question whether I am truly listening to God's Words. There will be people who mean well and may even be God's servants who will think I cannot be listening to the Holy Spirit because of the choices I am making.

The reality is that I have to follow God's leading, not man's. The reality is that I know I am listening and obeying. That should be enough. I need to stop listening to people, stop caring so much of what they think of me. When I look only to God, I see the path clearly before me and I am not alone. Many have affirmed that I am following God, many have affirmed the message He sent and the path He is leading me on.

That is enough for me. I choose life (Deuteronomy 30:11-20). I choose to continue following where God leads me. The path may be rocky and uphill, but my hand is in His. He has the strength to get me up the mountain, He has the strength to carry me if that is what I need. God is my hero. There is no other, there can be no other. Should He decide to send a helper with skin on, well... as long as God is sending him, I'll be grateful for the gift.

Keep dancing!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

My Sister

I'm avoiding writing. Yesterday and today. It's not even because I have nothing to talk about, well, yesterday I was drawing a blank. Unfortunately as soon as I climb into bed, my mind starts racing and I find all kinds of thoughts I can process out, but by then the computer was off and I was quite exhausted. The thought remains though and tonight, I'm avoiding it. I want/need to talk about my sister.

I miss my sister. Angela was one of those people in your life that is a constant. I always knew where I stood with Angela, she was never shy about asking me questions or giving me her opinion. I suppose in many ways, she was just your typical older sister, always looking out for me.

We weren't always together growing up. Our parents split when I was 11 and she was 14 - she left with Dad and I stayed with Mom. They moved halfway across the country and I missed her immensely even then. We stayed in touch. Weekly (at minimum) phone calls and bi-annual visits, it wasn't enough and we gradually grew farther apart. After Dad died, Angela didn't come back home very often. She came for my grade 9 graduation, for Mom's wedding and for my wedding. That was about it, but as an adult, I made it a point to get out to see her at least once a year. It still wasn't enough and we really didn't know or understand each other very well.

Angela was the favoured of our Dad, obviously. I could never measure up to her. She was athletic, fit, beautiful, confident, strong... She was, to my mind, the perfect woman. Her nickname was Angel, well, I knew better (little sisters do not always see the best in their older sister!), but most seemed to treat her as if she was an angel. I loved her, I admired her, I looked up to her, and I envied her. In fact, it wasn't until I graduated high school that I looked at our pictures that Mom had hung on the wall side by side and realized that I looked like Angela and therefore, I must be beautiful too. I always felt like the ugly duckling in her shadow.

In 1998 our brother, Cory, died and it set into motion a plan, on my end, to change the distance between us, literally and figuratively. I couldn't bear the thought that my last remaining sibling was such a stranger to me. Cory was one of my best friends, we enjoyed spending time together and talking on the phone. Angela remained an enigma. We had different personalities, different upbringings, different life perspectives.

I was dating M by then and things were pretty serious so we discussed it and decided that after we were married, we would move to live near Angela. It was a great plan, and a lousy one. In retrospect, I should have just moved immediately and let the relationship with M fall where it may, it might have saved me much pain but it would have lost me my boys, so.... I try my best not to play the "what if" game, some days that is more difficult than others. I stray off topic though.

We moved in 1999. We had no place to live so we stayed with Angela and her family for the first few months until we found an apartment. It was strange. Angela and I both wanted a friendship. We'd been working on building it since Cory died via telephone and my annual/semi-annual visits but it was strained and taxing. Imagine throwing two very different strangers into a room and expecting them to be instant best friends. Sometimes that can happen, but it's pretty rare and special when it does! It didn't happen for us. I was a newly-wed, we were both struggling but not really sharing with each other what was going on. We lived totally different lives but we didn't give up. We eventually found that common ground, we became best of friends.

We were able to grieve Cory together, to talk about him and share stories, to keep his memory alive. We were able to talk about our childhood and all the pains and angst, all the misunderstandings and false beliefs we had grown up believing about the other. We were able to laugh at the things we did together and remember the good times, as well as the bad. We were able to share with each other memories that the other had forgotten. We made new memories together.

Instead of annual visits, we had weekly or monthly visits. We talked regularly on the phone and were able to share family experiences. I went to her children's school & sports events, I cheered them on when she coached her youngest sons baseball team and sat beside her when her oldest son learned to play soccer and had a part in the school Christmas program. She came to the hospital to visit me when I was in labour with my first son and was one of the first to hold him after he was born. She was in church the day we dedicated his life to God and came to church events that I was singing in. We shared Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, birthdays, camping, boating, shopping, life. I am Godmother to her youngest son.

I miss sharing my life with her. Even now, 5 years after her death, there are days when I just want to pick up the phone and talk with her, to get her advice, to commiserate or vent, to have her just be there to share everything with! She's never met my youngest son. She was the first person I called after we found out we were pregnant with our first, and she never even knew I was pregnant a second time. I threw up four times a day during my first pregnancy, she told me she thought I had the flu the first 8 months. She only threw up 1x with each child, she would have been glad to know my second pregnancy was more like hers.

She loved playing with my baby. Angela loved babies, she had a knack of getting them to go to sleep in her arms. I found pictures the other day while unpacking of her and my eldest just laughing at each other. I love that I have pictures of her with him. She could pick up almost any baby and have it smiling at her in no time. She was a beautiful person, inside and out.

Her death seems senseless. God has used it for good, but I still can't wrap my mind around the reality that she is gone. She is though. Through no choice of her own, through no fault of her own, she is no longer here to share life with us, to love her children, to raise them or care for them, to battle for them. They are left with battle scars that no child should ever have to bear, I am left to struggle with why of the three of us I am the only one left standing.

I am the only one left standing though and I have promised to myself that they will not be forgotten. I tell my children about their Auntie Angela and their Uncle Cory. I have promised that I will tell their stories because if anything good can come out of their untimely and inane deaths it can only come if someone gives voice to their stories, to their lives. If the story of Angela's death saves one more person, then it, and she, continue to have value. If the story of Cory's death encourages one person to hold on for one more day, then it, and he, too continue to have value.

I am not my siblings. I cannot tell their story from a firsthand perspective, but I can tell it from my perspective. I can tell you the facts, and I can tell you how it affected me. I can only pray that is enough.

Their stories will come. The music will change and the song does not end in happily ever after... yet; but there is hope and where there is hope there is life. Where there is life there must be dancing.

God bless you!

Sunday, January 2, 2011


It's been a time of re-identifying myself, of having to and wanting to re-identify myself.

For so many years I have been defined by who I am. I am my mother's daughter, I am a wife, I am a mother, I am a sister. I am my mother's daughter, but I am not my mother. I am no longer a wife. I am a sister to deceased siblings, so really no longer a sister. I am a mother, but I do not want to be solely defined by being a mother because I do not want my children to carry that burden... and, I want to be seen for ME. For who I am, not for who I am connected with.

My children will always be the lights of my life. I mean, seriously, look at them (if you could)! They are adorable, they are unique, they are talented, they are wise, they are creative, they are precocious, they are active!, they are joyful, they are my sons. Yet, they are who they are. They are not defined by me, nor should they be. They are unique individuals with distinct personalities, characters and traits.

But... if I am not to be defined by the people who fill my life, how do I define me? Who am I? I am a free woman, committed to loving others just as they are. I am free. Free to discover who it is that I am and how I want to be defined, how I define myself. I want to be defined as a woman who loves, who enjoys life, who sees beauty in all things and people, who is confident and graceful, who is herself in every circumstance.

Herein, I suppose, lies my journey to freedom. To define myself, to discover anew what it means to be free, to be me. With God at my side, it is a journey I am ready to embrace. Put on the music, and let's dance!