Who Needs Emotions?

I was reading through some old journal entries and returned to a season of life that held a lot of loss and elevated emotions:

our family dog, Friday

  • Daughter two was headed to college…
  • Daughter one was headed to Chicago…
  • My Daddy was dying…
  • My dog was dying…
  • I was leaving my job…
  • Beginning a ministry…

An innocent comment of a friend: “Becky you are surviving well in the midst of so much change,” made me mad.

I did not want to be a survivor, last one standing, instead I wanted to be look back and know that I had thrived and lived in the midst the changes that were swirling.

But how?

What did that look like?

My emotions were heightened and my logic was reeling – could I hold both in the midst and what would that look like?

Sitting by my father’s side one day at a doctor’s appointment, his very strong, but wise words to me were, “If you really want to thrive, you will have to let your emotions tutor your logic — they were not designed to be separate.” (Side note, when someone is actively engaged with their own dying, you will want to follow them around with a notepad and pen to gather every morsel they speak).

Your words continue to inspire me...

This made me stop and wonder…for me as a woman what did that look like?

At times it was messy with tears:

  •  grocery shopping holding a favorite cereal and knowing it was not needed at home…
  • hearing phantom barks after my dog’s death…
  • aching from missing my daddy’s hugs…

At times it was filled with logic:

  • flying to a foreign country with my daughter and helping friends move back home…
  • walking someone through a favorite recipe for her own dinner party…
  • seeing the sunset and knowing it would happen again tomorrow…

Who needs emotions?

I do! Emotions are often defined as feminine yet they are a part of being human. How I carry them as a woman may be different from a man, but they continue to be a vital part enriching life and tutoring logic.

Celebrating Desire…

Captain

I know this guy.

He loves to sail.

For 30+ years he has been fascinated by wind and water. He watches the water for how the wind moves, anticipates the sails filling and how the boat will be taken to a more intense angle–and increase in speed.

It is the elements that have taught him, returning that causes him to keep learning but it is desire that keeps bringing him back.

I marvel at these qualities in this man who was raised on the plains of Kansas and once feared the water.  Wheat fields were his playground and water starved farm land was his landscape. He talks of having puddles and watering troughs to swim in as a child. But lakes and water were not a part of his upbringing.

What caused this love for water and wind?

Where did he learn to be so astute and aware?

At the helm

I think that deep within all of us is a desire to learn, to be stretched and to reach for what seems impossible. Yet so often these first stirrings of desire are quickly crushed and silenced by the many questions of logic that share the same breath.

Desire shows up in strange ways and we are invited to notice. Yet the fruit of desire is only seen when the seeds of desire begin to multiply and others are drawn towards this same desire. Desire always utilizes the power of inviting others to participate. What does our desire invite others into?

A Kansas boy, that once feared swimming, being able to captain a boat?

This guy is my husband and today I celebrate his birthday, but what I celebrate most about him is his desire – how it:

Happy Birthday Captain

  • engages with and births life…
  • teaching men to be captains…
  • invites men to risk learning from the wind and water…
  • experiencing others participating in their own lessons…

Here is to celebrating the deepest roots of desire I see in you and how illogical it is that the plains of Kansas would produce a captain with the desire to sail.

What potential of life does desire hold?

So Many Choices…

There are so many choices of what we read AND how we will allow words to impact us.

Like  junkies looking for a fix,we can use words to fill the swirling silence within us. Desperately seeking to take from them, we grab, hold and pause for a moment to let them fill-up and cover the silence within. Other’s words become the focus rather than the silence within holding relevance.

Or like a bulimic we consume massive quantities in short periods of time not noticing the texture or taste, but upon feeling full we quickly force them out and into our next conversation, without allowing them time to nourish us.

I call this word bulimicism (if you look in the dictionary you will not find this word – I made it up).

Personally I have numerous news sources that I allow to inform me as well as relationships and phone conversations that feed into my daily life and yet I wonder how much time do I really give to allowing other’s words to

change me…

challenge me…

comfort me…

It is raining today, I have emails, proposals, questions and phone calls to answer and yet I find that I need to notice the words that are speaking to me, nourishing me. So here are the words that I am holding today:

A friend reminded me – “The clouds are overflowing with life and so they rain.”

A phone call of desperation – “Can I ever experience healing out of this mess I have created?”

A blog – “Silence is the furnace of transformation.”

A tweet – “Once a man is united to God, how could he not live forever?” C.S. Lewis

So I am choosing to honor these words today, holding them all together within the same space and realize that they belong together and I am meant to hold them, notice them and allow them to teach me.

Words that linger

I want to continue to learn how to hold words and silence, making sure to notice the difference between consuming and communing.

Sitting on the Edge

I remember as a child often hearing these words, “Becky, be careful you are too close to the edge.” Now I don’t know how often those words were delivered out loud, but it often replays in my mind when I am getting ready to

make a decision…

let go of what is safe…

answer a question…

Okay here lies the real reason for this post – I love questions. I love hearing them, discussing them, letting them roll around in my head, watching them shake loose and offer people challenge, freedom, hope…

I love asking them, gathering thoughts, scriptures and letting it all be stirred together. Some how the thought of offering an “answer” seems daunting and a bit overwhelming because someone has trusted you enough to ask. And for this moment you hold their exposed thought, they are inviting you to their edge of something

change?

fear?

freedom?

While I don’t fully understand the rush of compassion that swooshes in and calls me to this sacred space of holding another’s question, I know the risky experience of asking questions and the potential of being

disappointed…

not heard…

and worst of all being misunderstood…

These all matter....

These questions are from my last conference in the fall. I carry them everywhere with me, in fact they are in my computer case as a daily reminder that I have not answered….yet…

At dinner the other night a friend, who knows I am carrying them, challenged me with a question…

“Becky, I want the words of what you do have inside so that I can wrestle with them.”

So I realize that in a way I have been holding something back, not allowing myself to step near the edge of writing out answers that could be

misunderstood…

judged…

or

misquoted…

Yes I found my own edge – fear.

Questions are the sacred place that we meet, it is not meant to be the place of separation and holding back, but instead together we are meant to “stand too close to the edge” so that together we can see more.

Looking at these questions is sacred, wrestling with them can be dangerous. So if anyone is out there and really wants to know, I am going to tackle  two questions a week(from the last conference) by literally drawing them out of the pile, letting the questions be the guide.

Join me if you want because I believe all voices matter.

Me…I will be on the edge, sitting next to my fear…looking out and waiting….

Sitting on the edge...

Creating

Have many letters and emails that need to be written and yet I find myself wanting to vacuum up the sand tracked in from the weekend.

The truth is that I am fighting against taking the words that are tumbling around in my head and actually creating something.

How do I say it right?

Can I trust the words arrive in the voice they are being written?

I believe that the core of my identity is less about arriving at some mysterious definition of who I am and more about something I am called to discover every day as new. To affirm myself within the hardest work of this moment and recognize that every moment is creating something. It is my choice how I create and use the talents I have been given.

What do I want to create?

Do I have space to hold and affirm who I am and how God has designed me?

Bizarre, but cleaning through my inbox I found this:

Rebelling or Creating by: Laurence Boldt

“The truth is, until we have taken the time to discover and affirm who we really are and what we really want, we are left with only negative identities and negative passion. We define ourselves by what we are against, and so have negative, not creative, passion. We need something to rebel against or we don’t feel like we exist. We need someone to rebel against or we don’t feel passionate about anything…. We are comfortable with rebelling, but fearful of creating.”

What if the deeper question that guided my days was

What needs to be created today?

I will write these letters and emails and choose to create life, not fighting against anything, even myself….

Yes, MN does have times without snow...

Pain Singing

The truth is that as I listen to other’s pain, it touches me, it sings to me and ultimately it marks me. I am not wanting to be relieved of this part of my job, but I am learning in unexpected ways that the pain of others is tutoring my own heart.

Today I am reminding pain of these three things (reserving the right to add to this list):

1) Pain cannot carry a tune. Ever listen to an off key musician (think of Phoebe on Friends and her guitar)? Pain scales all of the notes seeking to find harmony, but it cannot because harmony would destroy the very purpose of pain; so instead it just sings louder and more obnoxious seeking to be heard.

2) Pain demands retreat. The simple body language of pain is to pull away, move away and into the familiar brain patterns…alone. Yet there is a dangerous moment when a choice can be seen to identify, name and acknowledge pain. This moment also has the potential to reveal the hands and hearts that are outstretched in our direction. We will be able to distinguish these because they will be accompanied by love, reminding us we matter and we are seen.

3) Pain does not define identity.  When I watch the wounds of the past pounce upon people’s lives, I am often caught off guard by how familiar the tunes are that have long defined existence through singing, “You are alone, no one cares.”  Yet it is the pain-filled eyes that always remind me of the beauty of another that is being masked by this pain – nothing has the power to erase real beauty it is carved in our DNA.

During the night a random song came to me, Drunkard’s Prayer (it is my “go-to” melody, when I cannot even remember how to pray). My goal is not to out sing the pain, but instead pray that those who are hearing the song of pain, just might notice the melody of something that is being sung in harmony.

What is tune are you singing?

I Share Your Name

This morning at the hospital, I sat beside the man who has been my father-in-law for the better part of thirty-one years. We don’t have a snuggly relationship, but rather a mutually respectful one forged by our shared name. We politely listen to one another’s political and religious views and tease one another about our quirky differences. We live three states and 600 miles apart.

I had not expected my Christmas break to include an additional 150-mile journey to a small internet deprived town and a trip to the emergency room, but surprises seem to be a part of the holidays.

The time for good-bye was drawing close. He was fragile and vulnerable with only a warm blanket and random tubes running in and out of his body. I began to review our relationship. It was just the two of us, his eyelids closing between our spoken words. As I reached to hold his cold hand, I felt an incredibly large lump growing in my throat and tears stinging the edges of my eyes.

Does crisis release some random gene that loosens the tongue?

How does one sum up and say things that are assumed?

Does he even want to hear?

Rising at an alarming rate that I could not ignore or deny…words were forming on my tongue. This world-weary, 85 year-old man’s use of words is masterful for crossword puzzles or an argumentative stance, but words of tender feeling or emotion are a foreign language.

As I spoke of the name that we share and how he has “left his mark” on my world, I realized that between us something is there. It is not something required or even planned; rather it has “grown-up,” with us, today we noticed it together and chose to give it a name…love.

Forged love surprises us by the intensity with which it clings to us when we don’t even recognize it is there. It creates space and carves into us the ability to hold things that seem unlikely and not “love like.” If we reduce love to a mere feeling, we miss the opportunity of even pain to reveal something deeper that we cannot see. “For God so loved the world…”isn’t about a sentiment but rather a covenant that is being forged as it is proclaimed. Was it the covenant that revealed the depth of love? Or true love that created the space for covenant to be held?

Suddenly my words to my father-in-law became ours and our hands clung to one another – neither wanting to be the first to let go. Through tears I kissed his forehead and gently wiped the accumulated moisture from his eyes…we knew it was time for me to leave. “Go on get out of here!” his hoarse, but strong good-bye proclaimed. Yet I carried these words from their  mysteriously revealed covenant between us…love.

Thank you for sharing your name!

Merry Christmas

It is the week of Christmas and I find myself filled with joy and anticipation; yet I have also found myself in a lot of conversations where people are stressed because of how this one day seems to magnify all that is unsettled. Frayed families, unraveling friendships, broken hearts, unfulfilled expectations, absence of loved ones – each reveal the pain that this season can also uncover…there is a tension inside of me to make space for both. What does it mean to hold both, to not fall so deeply into one that we cannot conceive or hold the other?

If I glance back to the first Christmas, 2,000 years ago, I have to admit the part of Mary that is rarely portrayed is showing the stress factors that her “yes” brought into her life. We turn instead to focus on the mixture of joy and excitement that obviously had to be there, after all she was carrying baby Jesus. But something within me tells me that she, like everyone else in the world, had a choice to make every step of the way to carry both joy and sorrow, stress and freedom. These choices don’t come magically, they are often day by day, moment by moment, yet they each build one upon the other.

So this morning I woke to a sense that THIS Christmas is one that I will choose to notice both the joy and the stress within me and within others. I will introduce these two strangers to each other and acknowledge that I see them both, but that they are going to have to hang out together at times. In fact this reminded me of a prayer that I turn to often by John O’Donohue in his book, To Bless the Space Between Us:

“May my mind come alive today

To the invisible geography

Sometimes you just need to make a snow angel

That invites me to new frontiers,

To break the dead shell of yesterdays,

To risk being disturbed and changed.

May I have the courage today

To live the life that I would love,

To postpone my dream no longer

But do at last what I came here for

And waste my heart on fear no more.”

I pray that as you experience Christmas you will notice what it is that arises within you and dare to be present to who you are and how God has designed you. Stress left alone will overwhelm us, but if engage with our Creator, we just may find that all the stress continues to point us towards something more.

Merry Christmas to all.

Stretch Marks…

When my children were small and asked about the stretch marks on my belly, I would take their little fingers and tracing the lines speak of the evidence pregnancy left on my body. Each one knew the specific lines their precious growth brought to my body. The scars of remembrance belonged to us both. Each one would eventually ask the same question, “Does it still hurt, mommy?”

Funny I don’t remember the stretch marks hurting when they appeared, but I do remember the pressure of the skin stretching and my wondering if my body could expand any more.

As my children have grown, I find that the ‘stretch marks’ on my heart begin with a similar pressure…something being expanded, a mystery an aching sensation that asks, “What is growing inside?”

I woke this morning to one of many days that will leave yet another ‘stretch mark’  both of our daughters now live halfway around the world. Both are carving out their lives–new experiences, new relationships… the choice before me is can I accept and honor what is growing within? That being their mother is about not clutching and hanging on, but letting go, yet again, and allowing this new ‘stertch mark’ upon my heart…

This is not a new vulnerability nor a new sensation for me to experience, as a mother, it is felt each time I release their small grasp and encourage them to live facing the future. Believe it or not God did not created me as a mother – I was created as a woman, I became a mother. It is this “letting go” that continues to tutor me in how to lean into a love that is molding all of our hearts.

This slow band-aid ripping ache, reveals a vulnerable heart that feels a bit like pizza dough being thrown into the air…and needing to be caught. So with purpose I choose to engage with both the joy and grief of this season, knowing that both are precious gifts that my children continue to give me AND that as I grow my mother’s heart continues to be stretched and formed in new ways.  I just want the hands that are flipping this heart in the air to be God’s….

Miles cannot separate hearts that are interwoven...

 

Dinner with Sanctuary

Went to dinner last night with three beautiful women. We talked of life and the things that are current challenges we face. I left feeling gratitude for the ability to find words that can free the things that ache within us to be discovered and defined.

We each held our own stories in a place of valuing where God is leading us, but each not knowing what that fully means.

Can we live passionately, without knowing fully the destination we will arrive at?

Can we hold dreams, of what we long for, in a way that they do not choke us?

Can we share the words of each other, honoring the space needed to “explore” their meanings?

Dinner was amazing and artistic, creatively feeding our senses and passion for beauty. The words crafted their own beauty, making spaces within that are held for future moments that will continue to reveal more as we engage with one another and hold the sacred questions we each uniquely carry of our own season in life.

The company, the words and the questions fulfilled the restaurant’s name Sanctuary.