Where I pause before proceeding with this series to tell you about the necessary parameters of the project, and — because I feel like I am about to poke a bees nest — the disclaimers.

Going Local Blog Series logo

One Moment Please

“My eyes were bigger than my stomach.” As I initially waded into the first parts of this project (inspired by my local Farmer’s Market) I quickly came to understand that I bit off more than I can chew.

– Yes I am interested, hungry to discover more about the larger idea of ‘church’ by beginning with a bit of exploration in my quirky little mountain town.

– Yes, with this series I have had a surge of new interest on my blog and a sudden spike in subscribers (Welcome, new subscribers!).

– And yes, I have already visited two churches. In the last post I noted that the church trek would begin here, with the first church on my list. I am ready to get going!

However, turns out I needed to pause for a bit. There are a whole lot of local faith communities in my town. More than I thought. If I visit all of the churches in the area I will still be doing tis project in the fall of 2016. That’s … well … too much, really.

Before heading forward, I backed up a bit in order to build some specific and more realistic project parameters. So, before we proceed with the first church on my trek, I thought you should hear what I’ve been working on, behind the scenes.

 

The Scope

The number of faith communities in relation to population is a little staggering up here on the mountain. So, I set out to create a list which limits the participating communities and narrows the scope. For the record, my long list of potential churches is nothing compared to the nearest city. Down the mountain, Colorado Springs has a reputation as the conservative Christian mecca in the United States. It is home to power house ministries like Focus on the Family, Young Life, Navigators, YWAM, Compassion International, and New Life Church. Christian radio stations abundantly populate the FM dial. Christian bookstores are easy to locate. And, there are a LOT of churches. A lot.

I got side-tracked in my research and spent some time flipping through the lists of churches in the Springs. The longer the list got, the more I felt a familiar burn and nag at my core. It’s the same bothersome question that follows me around lately: Why do we have so many churches and so few that will actually interact and relate with each other?

I am bothered with this question. (I asked a similar question on my Facebook page a few weeks back and got some really interesting answers. You can go check that out in the direct link at the end of this post). The question grows out of the same space in my brain that is currently questioning American Christian wealth, and power and elitism. I wrestle with the legacy of American protestantism which constantly measures the threats of The Wrongs vs The Rights and defends The Correct from The Incorrect. Not to sound all utopian, but I wonder about our tendency to go to separate corners and build separate buildings and create separate mission statements. In my experience, we don’t generally behave like we are all a part of the same “one body” and “one Spirit” as described in the Bible.*

Hopefully my burning (and probably naive) question will fuel some open dialogue and bring some clarity. In the meantime, back to the point, I have narrowed my list of faith communities.

For research purposes, I have chosen to visit a significant sampling of churches which:

  • Are local, meaning, reasonably close to my house
  • Demonstrate a fair cross-section of “Christian” denominations and backgrounds.
  • Currently meet in a local church building
  • Profess belief in Jesus

The Parameters

  • I will not name the exact names of the churches I explore, as I want this to be a larger conversation about going local with faith community rather than a small conversation about specific churches.
  • I will attend each community’s worship service 2 or 3 times.
  • I will not dress up ‘churchy’. I will wear jeans and/or similar every day clothes.
  • I will contribute tithe.
  • I will read the mission statement.
  • I reserve the right to arbitrarily exclude communities which exhibit dangerous community practices or cultic characteristics.
  • I will set up an interview with a church leader, priest, or pastor.
  • I will ask the question, Why Is your church necessary when there are so many other churches in the area?”

 

The Disclaimers

I am not an expert. I have a lifetime wealth of personal and professional experience in the conservative evangelical American protestant church. That said, what I write on this blog may not reflect a scholarly body of knowledge — the kind that might come from any number of people who are smarter and wiser than me. Any views I express about the faith communities I visit are unapologetically from my limited personal experience. I am committed to being as fair and objective as possible. My opinions are simply offered to be considered and weighted as opinions which are open for discussion.

I am a Jesus Follower. This mountain church experiment will openly embrace and explore various views and religious affiliations or denominations. Most any day of the week I am totally game for conversations about different world religions. However, the scope of this particular project is limited to faith communities which claim and in some way adhere to a Christian belief system.

We will be civil.  Feel free to respond, challenge me, disagree with me, or tell me I’m completely nuts in the comments section, but I reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason whatsoever (including trolling, abusive, profane, or rude comments). I am the sole moderator of the content of this site, so we are going to keep it civil.

There you have it.

 

Your Turn … Your Question

I just mentioned my burning question about why there are so many churches in my region. And now I’d like to know yours.

I tossed the following question out to my subscribers and got a load of great hard-hitting responses. So I am opening up the opportunity. What’s your burning question(s)? Go ahead leave me your question in the Comment section. Or, if you don’t want your question to be quite so public, feel free to message me in the Contact tab up on the top of the website.

As I’m formulating my own questions for pastors, priests, and elders, I’d love to consider yours as well.

church question

If you’d like to make sure you are a part of the Church Trek experience, please subscribe HERE. You’ll get a weekly Saturday update anytime there is new content, and I will occasionally check in with this group as I need specific help or insight. (Because yes, I do NEED HELP on a regular basis.)

 

NEXT … the first church on my Mountain Church Trek. Really.

Unless I get bogged down in more disclaimers. : )

 

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*Referenced: The Bible, Ephesians 4:4-6

“There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all.”

 

See the Facebook Discussion and join in here … Hit this link: Post by Kelley J. Leigh.

 

Where I explain that I left “church” and why I have decided to try again … kind of.

 

woodland-park-farmers-market

Community

My quirky little mountain town clears the road by the park every Friday morning for The Farmer’s Market.  One half is art and crafts, the other half is local produce, food, and flowers. The street is lined with tent tops on either side and lines of crowds streaming between, to pet rescue puppies, taste salsa, buy bread or admire woodworking.  For me, last week’s market meant beets, basil, and honey from the guy who owns the RV park out in Lake George that just got hit by a freak tornado.

This summer I have made a commitment to be at the Farmer’s Market early, and to be open to pause and engage with whatever interactions happen. I don’t intimately know absolutely everybody, but a majority of the people wandering the street at least know of each other. And since I stepped away from the church our family attended for over a decade, I hear a common question, over and over. At community events, weddings, funerals, or farmer’s markets I hear, “Hey, what church are you going to now?”

Up-Rooted

For a while, my acceptable answer to the inevitable question was the name of a downtown church that my husband and I occasionally attend.  It’s a progressive Anglican-influenced faith community that meets in a retro auditorium of a high school about 30 miles down the mountain. I enjoy visiting there for three reasons.

One: The pastor is a spiritually gifted and anointed teacher. Freakishly personal things come out of his teachings. Some Sundays I’m like, “Was he a fly on the wall of my house this week?”

Two: Group worship and communion are just plain good for my soul and my faith.

Three: It is far away. The downtown church is a long drive down the mountain. This worked especially well for me during my season of healing from what I’ve known as church. I benefitted greatly from being the consumer anonymous. In a Farmer’s Market sense, I became the warehouse shopper without any connection to the food growers.

The cool new downtown church-plant is an awesome community, but it is not ‘home’. My soul has not set down roots there.

Untangled

The idea of living out faith in a community is bolted, welded into the shape of my faith. I grew up happily bouncing between pews and Fellowship Halls as a pastor’s kid in a northwest suburb of Chicago.  I spent rich childhood years with close friends in rooms with insider names like The Fireside Room and the Narthex. My weeks were filled with Sunday School, youth groups and church services. A long thread that is the American Protestant church weaves and sews through the tapestry of my life through adulthood.

If I have been woven and spun within the culture of conservative evangelical churches, the past couple of years have been a rather strenuous unraveling.

In the untangling of what I’ve understood as church, I have come to understand how the work of church became a drug for me. I mistakenly came to use church like a false cistern to fill my sense of worth in a constant flow of programs. I had a hundred busy ways to ‘serve’ God while running away from any true rest or healing from him. As Christian mystic, Richard Rohr puts it, I had “a love affair with words and ideas about God instead of God himself or herself.”

Somewhere along the way, church became my best means to avoid true intimacy with God, and people.

Boiled Down 

During our shared process of church deconstruction, my husband and I chose a stripped-down faith community setting.  We moved into a micro-church and met with our 3 or 4 people each week. In living room spaces, I learned a lot about the benefits of:

  • Eating together in homes
  • Intentional time that is not scheduled down to the minute and is open to spiritual interruption
  • Healing Prayer
  • Reading Bible quotes
  • Hard questions about how to stop ‘managing circumstances’ and rest long enough to really trust Jesus
  • Authentic conversation about how to allow God’s Spirit into marriage and real life struggles

According to Christianity Today, we were in good company:

“24.5% of Americans now say their primary form of spiritual nourishment is meeting with a small group of 20 or less people every week. About 6 million people meet weekly with a small group and never or rarely go to church,” [Ed] Stetzer says. “There is a significant movement happening.”

It’s all fine and well to be a part of a significant movement. But personally, I just needed time to relearn community in a smaller context — one with space to heal and the absence of a stage. After some time away from my ‘drug’, I feel lighter now, more authentic, in a new way both sober and joyful.

If my faith used to be a full pot of thick liquid on the stove, it is now boiled down to the last essential salty remnants. A handful of irreducible minimums remain of my core beliefs as a Christian. So many add-ons and non-essentials have evaporated. What remains for me are a very few tenants of Biblical doctrine as found in ancient bottom-line statements like the Apostle’s Creed; a whole lot of listening prayer; and a longing to love people in a newly-born Jesus way.

And, boiled down, at the very bottom of my pot called Jesus Faith, I can honestly say I still believe we are built to grow in context of a larger faith community.

I just have so many open questions about what that means. I feel like I’m starting over.

Going Local

Most of the people I know who are looking for a new faith community head down the mountain to large worship centers and mega churches; the ones with blockbuster worship, coffee shops and parking attendants.  And there’s nothing wrong with that.

In food speak, most people I know choose to make a long drive to the huge high-volume warehouse versions of church down the hill.

But The Farmer’s Market got me thinking about about the benefits of going local; of eye contact, everyday relationships, shared food, and sustainable travel.  And somehow that translates cleanly to my current experience with church.

The Farmer’s Market used to kind of stress me out because it was so … well … social. Little local markets are about face-to-face community, people and their livelihoods. Commercial warehouse and grocery stores are about clean floors, well marked exits and entrances, properly marked shopping cart returns, and customer service. Farmer’s markets are about dogs, soil, weather, unplanned conversations and a lack of parking.

Don’t get me wrong. I am all about the comfortable convenience of a commercial grocery store. But these days, in a lot of ways, I’m more about the mess.

I am walking the streets of the open air mountain market more slowly, with a lot more peace and freedom. I am seeing people from the faith community I used to attend and I am freer to engage. I find myself simultaneously holding a hope for those who have left, and a love for those who stayed. And that freedom has led me to a question.

What would it mean to go local with church?

Even though I was obviously very involved at a church here in town, I don’t actually know all the faith communities within spitting distance of my house. I want to embark on a journey to find out about the local church around me. At least, I think I do.

Like I’ve said, this is a quirky town. People move up here because we tend to be difficult lone-eagle types with authority issues. Area churches tend to sprout up and split-off the way viruses grow under a microscope.  I’ll talk more about that as the series goes on. Frankly, I am a little nervous – concerned that maybe I am poking a black bear or a bees nest.

But I want to do this.  I am hungry for a bigger picture of the organism called local ‘Church”. And it all seems right and messy like the Farmer’s Market.  Eye to eye. Hearts beating. Face to face.

I’m going local.  ’Wanna ride along?

I’d love to hear your thoughts:

What about you?

Do you relate to the need to explore a new way of doing church?

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Don’t miss any of the small town adventure.

On my first stop … find out what I discover at the church

with recliner Lazy-boy chairs, tambourines, and a puppy in the front row. 

Subscribe HERE to get the weekly Saturday Update.

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CITED:

Christianity Today, “The State of the Church“, Ed Setzer, October 2013.

“The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See” by Richard Rohr, 2009 Crossroad Publishing.  (I love this book!)

 

 

Where I wonder about the necessity of certain fractures in life and share a quick picture of two little dove eggs hiding in a charred log.

After dinner. Before sunset. In the forest. On a hike.

My husband and I huffed along behind our big old dog on a dirt trail up on Rampart Range. A mourning dove flew off to our left in a panic. “What was that!?”  The bird had flown from the truncated remains of a pine tree. The black trunk, now a stump no taller than my chin, probably burned in the Waldo Canyon Fire that raged through these parts back in 2012.

Up on my tip-toes, I peered down into a nest the size of my hand. There in strands of grass, lay two oval shells the size of large June strawberries. Warm round possibilities of new life incubated in a bed of coal black ruin.

In that unlikely place, those eggs got me thinking about the necessary pain of hatching.

Staring at those perfectly smooth shells, it’s hard to believe:
Brokenness is the gateway to flight.

 

hatch

 

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Where I talk about embracing hidden messes.

 

old-couch_ashley-vowinckel

 

“Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day.

It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest.

The choice to let our true selves be seen.”

 

Brene’ Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection

 

Craigsrisk

I should have known. The picture on Craigslist was a little too blurry and dark.

The heavily pregnant wife met me at the door. She pushed back her long hair, set her hand on her lower back, and led me past three young grade school boys and a dog playing in dirt and swings beyond the smudged patio doors. They had just moved in, she explained. It was going to be a girl this time. We walked past her husband’s newly framed Army medals hanging on the wall and found the couch in a room full of unpacked boxes and bags. The claw feet were in a separate bag, so I couldn’t sit on the couch and test it out. Only a year old, it had cost over 3,000 dollars she said, and it should look brand new but the movers just wrecked it when they pulled it out of storage. She sniffed and rolled her eyes like it happened yesterday. I touched the leather and craned to see around the back. I removed the pillows and a couple crayons peeked out from between and I thought I saw a juice box stain. I have spent much time vacuuming and cleaning similar terrain beneath cushions. This couch was not one year old. The scrapes were not from movers. I am a seasoned mom of four boys. I know.

She looked so weary; the baby had clearly dropped and was due any day. She was tired, desperate to be rid of the sofa which clearly would not fit in her new house full of small children. She was willing to use any means to get rid of it; any means except an admission of the buried truth.

 

I recognized something of myself in her.

If you’ve been around this blog for a while, you know I experienced a long free-falling icy slide at mid-life. To that point I had built a life around the management of circumstances and emotions. I maintained a facade and kept up appearances. Before my husband bravely demanded a change in our marriage, before so many other cracking and transforming things of life that came crashing in besides him, I used to regularly hide and cry in the bathroom. I used to isolate until I could pull myself together. I masterfully concealed my anger and suppressed my depression. I lived that way, in crowds of unsuspecting family and church friends, hiding in plain sight with broken things stuffed away in the deep creases of my private world.

Given the crayons and lies, I got the feeling there were hidden things stuffed deep inside the young Craigslist mom as well; things only God could see.

Sharp Things

I decided to take the risk and buy the couch. My oldest son and the military husband strained to load the monstrous piece of furniture into the back of our pick-up. As we drove away, I had serious second thoughts.

At home in my living room, I pulled off the cushions and reached down in the folds with a well-practiced caution. I know this drill. Sometimes sharp objects lurk below. My fingers prodded with learned discretion from forks and scissors in years past.

Sharp and painful things can’t be removed unless we are willing to take a risk and drag them out into the light.

So, I gingerly retrieved an unopened new pack of soccer pencils, chewed lollipop sticks, a Lego brick, candy wrappers, and a small stack of tags for new toddler clothes. Honestly, the more junk I found, the more irritated and angry I felt.

Somewhere in the midst of so many found objects, anger wore away to sadness. I felt sad for her prison of hiding. Because, I get it. The way of vulnerability — of moving toward and being honest about the mess — it’s scary business. Having pulled my own crap out into the open, I know. In that place, you could say I found Jesus standing beside me with a gentle smile and a garbage bag. As a result, I’m a changed woman with less tendency to hide in the bathroom. I’ve learned it’s ok to speak the truth of broken things hidden away. In fact, that’s a wide path to freedom. But I remember when I chose my prison instead. I do.

So, I gently scrubbed the remnants of something that looked like spilled milk, and I wished the same freedom for her. I wish I could tell her I’ve seen her concealed debris but I’d still choose it anyway. And I hope her new baby girl is thriving.

craigslist couch

Repurposed

My husband fixed the sagging springs on the left side. I buffed the leather seats and arms, and covered a bunch of big old throw pillows with new fabric. The couch doesn’t really match the style of the rest of my house, but it is everybody’s first choice seat in the living room. The big comfortable well-worn sofa invites you to put your feet up, settle in, and talk at length. I like to think it’s a personal reminder, smack dab in the middle of where we live everyday.

There is freedom in the vulnerable face-to-face embrace of hidden messes.

 

Gifts of imperfection

 

 

 

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Free Couch | Flickr image by Ashley Vowinickel 

 

Where I recover from my third son’s graduation and talk about what tangled weeds have to teach us about relationships … 

 

a good year for daisies

First Day of June

My hard-packed green grave of a garden stares me down like a dare. I’ve been too busy. After successive weeks of last-minute preparations, guests and graduation celebrations, it is time. The high-altitude garden in my front yard has become a collection of brambling growth and hard dirt. While I was planning parties and running with the clamor of life, the weeds quietly moved in. They arrived and pretended they were just passing through, hands in pockets, whistling and looking at the sky. Now tenacious clover, wild grass and dandelions are doing their best to avoid eye contact and blend in. They act as if they belong, and tighten their rooted grips.

Inevitably, the defense of flowers requires a fight with weeds. And where weeds are concerned, today is always a better day than tomorrow.

After a long angry May full of snow storms and floods, the mountain sun rises on a warm first morning of June. I find my crusty garden bag and wonder why the middle finger on my right garden glove always has a hole. I set down the claw, rake, and shovel and pick up my cup of coffee. I stand and stare at so many weeds and flowers mixed together in my tangled bed. My flower garden runs the length of my yard and is a wild but intentional swath of collected favorites and mostly whatever will grow.  I wonder what this year will bring.

Last year was a boon year for blue flax. Like a sprays of blue drops hovering in the air, flax has four delicate little papery blue pedals which float atop tall wiry stems. I’ve heard the tough twine-like stems were used to wrap mummies in Egypt. I don’t know if that’s true. But I do love blue flax. The year before that was an explosion of lamb’s ear. The year before that, daisies.

I take a sip of coffee and note the apparent absence of daisies. I realize I miss the cheerful crowds of white blooms and wonder if they are gone forever.

The Weeding

Down on my knees, I begin to carefully sort growing leaves as foe or friend, enemy or ally. Before each ruthless yank of war, I inspect. Since so little actually grows in the thin air at 8900 ft elevation, I allow some so-called weeds take up residence. A long wandering purple sweet pea, wild sweet sage, tiny blue penstemon are unruly about where they set down roots, but welcome nonetheless. I reach into the middle of tender clumps of creeping flox. With two fingers, I pull the unwanted blades of grass while protecting the new growth. I cut brown twiggy stems left over from last year and expose the hidden green beneath. Choices matter in a garden.

Left untended, the good and the bad grow side by side. Eventually, one chokes out the other. 

I pull out my iron claw and confront the tall grass and dandelions. My husband ambles out of the house to stand beside me knee deep in my weedy war. We begin to catch up on the last weeks of busyness and guests. We agree about running on the surface and recount how we slid back into the worst versions of ourselves. For a few weeks, we fell into the old default modes of avoidance. He stands patiently and we chat about all the things we kept shoving out of the way, all of the unattended conflict seeded below the surface. We dig them out, one by one:

That shut down interaction in the back of the pick up, while we were freezing in sleeping bags…

That anxiety melt down I had before the party …

The way neither of us knew exactly when loving touch disappeared …

The way we both headed for our corners of isolation after that one dinner …

We talk, and pull the weeds in our relationship. I move across the long yard of dirt, slowly yanking green and revealing wormy loose brown goodness beneath. Piles of limp cast-off plants grow and so does our pile of cast off hurts. I feel empowered about the excavation of a very hard surface and then, I discover them. Twenty, maybe thirty small clumps, hiding beneath last years stems and this year’s weeds. The daisies are there, clump upon clump, small, determined, green and growing; no blooms yet, just the small regenerating signs of life. Turns out, it’s going to be a good year for daisies.

My husband and I pause after so many difficult words and finally thaw enough to smile. We speak the obvious, “Why is this always so hard? It is always so much better afterward, and still we resist entering the work of it. What’s that about?”

New Growth

Weeds move into untended spaces when we are too busy to notice. The surface gets hard, difficult to penetrate. Roots become tenacious. But in the end, the work of yanking dandelions creates space for daisies. And I think those principles apply to humans, too.

The good and the bad, the wise and foolish, always grow together in a big tangled mess. We are always both, side by side. In a way, the process of weeding is a lot like the practices of confession and repentance. Confession is speaking the hard truth, and taking responsibility. Repentance is turning in a new direction. The simple act of entering into the mess and moving toward each other with our words clears out space for understanding, intimacy, and goodness. And on the best days, space opens up for supernatural regeneration which could only come from God.

The Dirty Bottom Line:

Life in relationship with people, and God, requires white-knuckled confession and dirt-under-my-fingernails repentance. What we allow in the garden, grows.

Just in case something in this weedy tale resonates with you …

Maybe you are currently avoiding a hard conversation

Maybe you are getting ready to speak a secret that has kept you in prison for a long time.

Maybe you have been isolating, running away in dangerous ways, and you need to stop and re-engage with God and your safe people.

Whatever the current obstacle or fear, if you are hesitating because of the hard work ahead, hear me say this: In the end, the growth that comes after the weeding is always worth it.

Don’t give up. Keep going, friend.

 

daisy+6

Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other

so that you can live together whole and healed.

 

The Book of James | The Bible

 
 
 

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Single daisy image by Mass Pictures

 

Where I talk about my explosively creative third son and what I’ve learned about nurturing the voice of an artist.  

Some characters can’t be described without long intentional pause and focus. I have paused much in this project of sketching my third son. He is layered and complicated to describe. He is like a prism, a crystal that catches and refracts layers of light in different ways. Sometimes an irresistible vast array of delightful color, other times, bright shards of light that make the eye squint and adjust.

In the writing of this post, I have struggled to differentiate the shiny vessel from its affect. And in the process, I find myself steeped in the fact that the rainbows will soon be gone from the walls.

I usually write a note as each of my sons move out of the house (even if they end up coming back for seasons here and there). Here, the latest benediction to one of my sons.  For Isaac, about to head for college; a word to the one who paints the walls of life and gives voice for the rest of us.

 

isaacs sight

At the Heart

My third son arrived like a fog horn in a house full of whispers. As a baby in restaurant high chairs, he screamed like a baby eagle with piercing yells loud enough to jar and startle neighboring diners. His nickname was “Budge” because he wouldn’t. Ever. Budge. A late- blooming talker, he yelled and thumped and stomped. Sometimes he was a joyful and tender little toddler. Other times, he shoved and bit playmates. He would melt into loud angry sobs when we left him in the church nursery or with babysitters. In grade school, teachers routinely commented on report cards some variation of, “I don’t ever have to wonder what Isaac is thinking.”

In our family he says things others won’t. He does things nobody else would. Because he leads with his actions and words, and because for some reason all eyes turn to him in a room, often he commands the attention of groups and is involuntarily ascribed leadership. He is gifted with an ability to create impact. As a result, more often than any other son, on many ceremonious occasions my third son has caused my well-behaved church-girl’s heart to nervously pound in my chest.

Back in the early days when I cared about such things, Isaac hated to dress up for church. HATED it in a way that meant war every Sunday for weeks on end. We fought like cats and dogs about kaki pants and combed hair. He saw no purpose for dressing up — except that people were trying to look better than they really were. And honestly, he had a point. In later grade school, he tried to tell us his teacher wasn’t paying attention to him. We missed his point. So he started not coming back in to class after recess.  He did it for days, staying outside, playing, waiting to see how long it would be until she noticed.  He had several days of free play, unnoticed outside until a playground attendant figured it out. He got in trouble, but he had a point. In high school more of the same, he named broken pieces of the system in forthright and sometimes inappropriate ways. He got in trouble. But he had a point. And that’s the bottom line: Sometimes Isaac finds himself holding a lonely truth, because he usually has a valid point which the rest of us aren’t brave enough to speak.

And that has been the tight rope my husband and I have walked with our Third Son. When he speaks with his iron voice, my first default response is to bristle and demand quiet compliant relational behavior. In the process, I have often overlooked the heart of the issue. Fortunately for Isaac, my philosopher husband chooses to see life on a case-by-case basis.

 

After years of practice and constant failure, my life with Isaac has taught me to care more about what’s happening in the heart of my child more than worrying about people’s responses to his behavior.

 

Isaac graduated from high school last month.  His three brothers would tell you, Isaac makes people laugh … hard. He is a student of social behavior and a cunning wit.

Over the last couple of years, Isaac has filled mounting piles journals with sketches and poems, and lyrics, and invented languages, and short stories. He carries a Field Notes journal and pencil pretty much everywhere he goes, to capture and comment. He spent much of high school on stage, an actor affable long and lanky like James Stewart. He has dabbled in photography, public art, painting, sketching. He plays guitar and bass guitar and writes music. And as his voice gains focus, he continues to physically morph. At times, his hair has been long cowlicked and wild. These days he wears his thin curly hair with a swoop and slicked back whistle like the Great Gatsby.

The Wall

A couple years ago, we stripped down his bedroom. Isaac wanted more of a blank box than a bedroom. We pulled up the carpet, cleared the floor down to the concrete. I purchased a long repurposed unit of cubbies from a first grade class somewhere and stood it on end. The tall wall unit is now a display of old typewriters, sketches, sketch books, camera accessories, art supplies, miscellaneous old magazines and asian newspapers. A TV from the 1950’s and a turntable for vinyl records sit in the corner. The rest of his creative space consists of a tilted art desk, a chair, a bed, an area rug, and ‘the wall.’

The wall in Isaac’s room is like a constantly changing billboard; a 20 ft. x 10 ft. dynamic canvas.  The wall is Isaac’s visual voice. Over the years he has laid layer upon layer of large art expressions one on top of the other like a visual timeline of his inner world.  For spray painted graffiti projects, he puts a box fan in the window wears a gas mask. To start over with a clean slate, Isaac uses a homemade wheat paste adhesive to plaster a blank canvas of paper over old wall thoughts.

Isaacs Wall

The wall has morphed with abstract images, words, outlines, facial portraits, repeated negative space graphic images from floor to ceiling, single framed thoughts, big and picture questions. One of my favorite walls spoke with influences of Banksy or Shepherd Fairey. Currently, the wall is plastered with retro choir music he retrieved from the choir room trash can. The wall changes with his messages and moods.

The bedroom wall full of morphing art is a perfect picture of how my son lives his life.

When he leaves for college in the fall, the walls of our house will go quiet. I will miss the ever- changing color, music, and words that have filled our rooms. The leader that is my third son will take his voice out into larger spaces and speak words and ideas for the world to share. As it should be.

 

To the One Who Speaks for Many

May you find the answers for your soul’s search.

May your questions lead you to the source of true love and grace.

May you grow in your ability to see realities the rest of us miss.

May God protect your heart in the process.

And may you continue to find your voice as an artist who writes words on the

walls of hearts and minds.

 

isaac timelapse

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Related Posts about Children Leaving Home:

Permanent Marks

Benediction and Flight

Guitar Picks 

 Da Vinci Quote / Image: Photo of Isaac Leigh, taken by Lucas Leigh. 

field notes

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Where I talk about running on the dirt trails behind my house.

I am a mountain trail runner. I don’t run every day. But regular seasons of running help keep my brain clear and my soul fed. I also write a lot about dirt. I love how dirt is the stuff of both gardens and graves; the material of life and death. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Here, a ramble of thoughts about the divine dirt of the trail … from my book notes.

star sky

“Oh that God would have made man of a better metal than dirt.”  

~Wm. Shakespeare, Much Ado about Nothing

Trail Running

Dog and I follow narrow dirt game trails. Beyond my backyard, paths of black bear, fox, mule deer, and humans wind through rocky inclines and aspen valleys. Pike National Forest climbs behind my house and spills over the southern front range of the Colorado Rocky Mountains. On steepest running inclines, the high altitude air is thin, harsh, dry, pine salt in the back of my throat. My heart pulses blood rhythms in my ears, loud thumping like the drums of Ute Indians who walked these forests hundreds or maybe even thousands of years before my European ancestors. The paths are ancient, dynamically eroding and rebuilding, forests burning and regrowing. Ancient and present, birthed and buried, bones now crushed into quiet direction beneath my feet.

My shoes thud and I think about how humans travel with similar thumping feet on top of each other’s ancestry, so many stories buried with the dirt of our bones. We run the same trails, with the same mysterious breath, inside the same crumbling clay shells.

Stars

I have heard that human bodies are made of the same substance as stars; carbon fallen to earth and redistributed, elements from somewhere beyond the atmosphere. 99% of the mass of the human body is made up of the same six elements — oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, and phosphorus  — with a thimble full of another five elements. We are the stuff of stars. 100 million people on the same planet surface with the same dose of celestial carbon.

We are stars and dirt, animated by divine alchemy.

Dust

In the poem at the beginning of my faith’s book, the genesis of man is described in terms of elements and animation; dust and breath. The first book of both the Jewish Torah and the Christian Bible names Adam as the first living, breathing, created man.

The substance God uses to create Adam is described as “dust”. This word in ancient Hebrew is the word “apar” which literally translates, “dust of the ground” or fine particles of earth, dry earth, fine dust as blown by the wind. Adam’s name means “red clay” but later came to mean “man”.  So in a sense, the man made of dust and clay was named Man; Like naming your fish, Fish or your dog, Dog.

My pet cat is an example.  At my house, our orange marmalade cat, (who, sadly, was eaten by a coyote last week) was actually named simply,”Cat.”  My sons tried different variations of naming when we adopted our mountain savvy hunter from a camp down the road.  But, in the end, when we went to the door to call him in at night, we did not yell for Ted or Iris (my first choices).  Instead, we hollered, “Cat!” The name Cat identifies our one particular mouse-hunting pet, while the word “cat” describes all cats of his species.

In the same way, the first human in Genesis is named “Man.”  He is the first to breathe and he is all who come after, singular and collective. Adam is us. We are man, given breath from God, created from dust.

I run on remnants of Adam, crushed particles of the universe and fool’s gold beneath my feet.  My trail shoes crunch on mountain paths made of pulverized boulders and prehistoric dead things returned to dust.

I am the dust of stars.

I am Adam.

stars and dirt quote

“… then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground,
and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.”

~The Book of Genesis, chapter 2.

 

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dog on the trail

 A Picture from the Trail | Dog Looks Back to Check on Me

 
 
 

 Mountain Sillouette photo by Anna Liz Photography

Where I share a quick thought regarding the sad disappearance of Cat who was, after all, just a cat.

cat

Dogs come when they’re called;

cats take a message and get back to you later.
Mary Bly

We only meant to borrow him. Our house had a mouse problem so I asked my friend, Kandi, if we could use one of her young ranch cats for a bit.

That was 6 years ago.

I am not a cat lady, per se. But of our two pets, I did relate more to Cat than Dog. I loved how he only needed us in limited doses. I enjoyed how he slept at the end of my bed and rode my tosses and turns like a blanket surfer.

One home video of a black bear digging in our garbage reveals Cat’s small head peering around the corner of the house, observing, always observing at a safe distance. He was the sort that laid trustingly on the floor with his belly up. That said, he killed too many birds and regularly stalked the dog with harmless swaps. Our savvy mountain cat chased lego trains and speeding matchbox cars, and occasionally chased his tail as a mistaken enemy. And, when nobody was looking, he routinely tipped over half empty glasses and flower vases.

Cat went through a phase when he really hated my third son, Isaac and we don’t remember exactly when he dropped the grudge.

Oddly, Cat also loved to go on trail runs with me and Dog. As soon as he saw us depart toward the forest, he’d run, tail straight up in the air. He’d follow faithfully a dozen paces behind. Which all sounds very endearing, however, once we crossed some invisible cat boundary, usually about a mile away from home, he would stop, look backward, and yowl in protest. I’d try to shoo him home. But inevitably I ended up carrying him back for fear of predatory mountain lions or coyotes. Cat also ran along behind family members on mountain bikes, which was even more awkward and exasperating. Over time, we all learned to search for him and toss him indoors before hitting the trail.

When he disappeared, my husband and two high school sons weren’t too concerned. We stood on the porch and called for Cat. We waited. Days passed and we lost hope. We decided the worst had happened. This morning Steve and I noticed a large grey coyote loping around the neighbor’s bird feeder. The big canine was sleek and clearly well fed. Since another cat is missing from the neighborhood, I think we found the answer to Cat’s disappearance. Not to be too gruesome, but dog has since retrieved certain identifiable Cat parts. We shuddered and buried them. In all honestly, closure is good. An gruesome explanation is better than no explanation at all.

I will miss having Cat’s purring sack-of-potato weight by my feet at night, and the way he lounged on the stomachs of my husband and sons. But truthfully, I won’t miss having to carry him back home from the trail.

Adieu, sweet Cat.

 

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Pike National Forest, Colorado
Cat stops on the trail just before we have to turn around and take him home.

 

What about you?
Do you have a disappearing pet story?

 

Where I share a personal sketch of an extreme collision of life events.

A few months ago, I briefly documented how our family moved from my son’s wedding to Christmas to my mother-in-law’s deathbed within the span of 18 days. Here, I pencil in details of my raw experience of those days, including the mysterious simlarity of birth and death, and a new sense of God’s whispered presence in the labor pains of entrances and exits.

[Content Warning: Contains description of death.]

 white dots

Umbilical

18 Days in December

 

Those days bleed together in my mind the way the blood slowly pooled in her body after her heart stopped. I sit at my writing desk and sift through recent piles of wedding programs, Christmas cards, and funeral notes. I sort the collision of occasions like an upturned puzzle of sons and mothers, vows and death all jumbled inside a frame of eighteen days.

Some things don’t go down tidy on a calendar until after the fact.

My sock feet slide slow and tired down the hallway in my quiet morning house of sleeping sons. My mind follows like a toddler at my heels offering handfuls of uninvited memories from the last three weeks like marbles from a small cup. “Look at this one. No, this one instead. Look.” I think about the bride’s sheer veil, my glittery mother-of-the-groom shoes, twinkle lights in pine trees, frigid wind and frozen tears, the granite gravestone. I pause at the laundry room window to check on the cold mountain sunrise and my eyes lock in an involuntary unblinking stare. For 15 seconds or a half hour, I think of everything and nothing at all.

I scoop up the pile of dirty laundry next to the washing machine. The floppy white sweater on top still smells like my mother-in-law, her hospital lotion and cold clammy arms. I remember foregoing a shower that morning. I see myself threading my arms into these sleeves and pulling the soft knit over tousled bed-head hair. When this sweater was clean, I thought we had weeks left, not hours.

All at once, the lingering death scent on my sweater throws me back to the uncomfortable chair beside her hospice bed.  My husband, her compliant Minnesota-born son, sleeps in the reclining chair of the hospice room.  My warm hand rests on her cool boney chest. My fingers feel the telltale lung rattle and racing heartbeat. The citrus scent of lotion wafts and mixes with her heavy breaths. Her open-mouthed gasps come up empty like a dragnet cast in shallow water, again, and again, and again. I lean in like a midwife to whisper, “You are almost done. You can do it. You are almost done. Today is a good day.”

Vows 

I first met my husband’s mother when I was in college and she could still walk. She was a dutiful pastor’s wife with a long-term illness, a ready smile, and the open admiration of many for her refusal to complain.

The last time she walked without assistance was twenty-four years ago at my wedding. As the church organ played, she took her husband’s arm and cautiously stepped down the aisle. With neatly curled brown hair and a fresh blue mother-of-the-groom dress she stationed herself in the front row. She watched as I walked down the aisle in a white dress, my first son hidden in my newly pregnant belly. That day, I carried perishable flowers and a quiet shame that would take years to absolve.

She never spoke to me about the whispered scandal of fornication between two pastor’s kids. She avoided the subject of my sex sin with her son like an enforced contract, always shut down without question or response, as though history could be erased with the consistent and deliberate change of topic.

A few months after our wedding, my new husband awkwardly pulled on green surgical booties, scrubs and a ridiculous hospital hair net. Together, we monitored the aching patterns of my contractions. He leaned in to whisper, his large hand rubbing slow light circles on my chest, “You are doing great. You’re almost done. Today is a good day.” My breaths slowed then quickened, deeper and closer together until the warm gush of blood and water, the stretch of blue umbilical cord, the large round head with dimples in each cheek. I watched a clamp tighten on the cord of life between my son and me. Beating pulse stopped on the bridge between womb and infant, mother and child. The nurse wrapped our son in a tiny blanket.

Years passed unperceived like spinning rotations of the Earth around the sun. Every day we flew 800 miles per hour in porch swings and dining room chairs. Our house became a flying nest of brothers one after another, four altogether. Four umbilical cords snipped and tended into one outie and three innie belly buttons. We lived in a long fast succession of birthing, breathing, crawling, running, driving days. We moved through soul-feeding, heart-breaking, blissful, crumb-riddled, stretched-to-the-limit years.

And in one flutter of an eyelid, on the first of 18 days in December, my dimpled son stepped to the front of a church with a wedding ring in his hand.

My mother-in-law sat in a wheelchair at my son’s wedding. Freshly curled grey hair atop a heavy body of immobility, she smiled with happy approval. As a small boy, my husband believed his mother would die of Multiple Sclerosis any year, any month, any day. And yet, there she sat at her grandson’s wedding in an elderly woman’s dress wearing her deceased husband’s wedding ring, sized to fit.

White lights dangled from the ceiling like stars in the sky. My four sons stood together at the front of the little church in grey suits and men’s shoes. My husband sat next to me and held my hand and I felt a hot surge of unadulterated life, like childbirth without the labor. There in a twilight gathering of family and friends, with tears on my wet handkerchief, I came to know a full circle of redemption and forgiveness. With my mother-in-law down the row, I realized a new grace. My redeemed wedding shame had bloomed into a strong new groom speaking his own sacred vows,“’Til death do us part.

In that little log chapel a love song of redemption, grace and new life started to reverberate over the coming days like a big bang of invisible sound waves. Over the next days, similar echoes would repeat in music, whispers, and words like a lover’s voice calling over a canyon, “I am here … I am here …” 

Entrances and Exits

Wedding guests waved the new Mr. and Mrs. off into the cold dark night, and I traveled from wedding to Christmas in a whirlwind. My little family got caught up in the festivity of gifts and honeymooners returned. We reveled in the union of relationships and laughter in the kitchen.

Christmas Eve, we sat in a large congregation full of candles held high. “Silent Night” wafted through a room full of tiny flame stars shining for a savior, singing out to the promise of peace and eternal life. We listened to the story of Jesus, angels, unexpected birth and bleeding, a son wrapped in blankets, and sacrificial love of Emmanuel, God with us. And I felt the pulses across the universe echo God’s grace, redemption, and gifts of eternity. I heard the silent reverberation, “I am here.”

Days later, a nurse called from the nursing home. My husband’s mother was in transition.

The labor of death and birth share recognizable symptoms: the rise and fall of breathing, the struggle and release, the unknowable final moments. At entrances and exits we funnel in different directions through the same door.

Our family filed into her room. My oldest son sat with his new wife. Three younger brothers situated in stiff chairs. We waited, sat in silence, sang old hymns while squinting at iPhone lyrics, told stories, laughed too loud. We rotated in and out of the chair by her bed and sat in silence some more. My second son timed her periods of non-breathing like contractions in an obstetrics ward. Slower then longer between, seconds passed between silence and resumed breath. Time slowed as midnight approached. Her breathing showed no signs of change. So, each of her tired grandsons quietly said goodbye, wiped wet faces, and headed home.

My husband moved to comfort his mother the way he soothed me in birthing rooms with quiet whispers of assurance and tender pats. “You are doing great, Mom.  It’s going to be ok. You can go see Dad now.” Without ceremony he gently bent down, removed his father’s wedding ring from her finger, and put it in his pocket.

As my husband rested, I stroked her clammy arm and murmured, “You are almost done. Today is a good day.” Her son jostled awake just in time to see her eyes open one last time. Loud labored breaths stilled to peaceful silence.

Echoes

The nurses arrived unannounced, like blackbirds on a fence waiting for permission. A giantess and a midget, they stood by the door and patiently watched for us to leave or stay.  In hushed tones they warned me twice, “You can just come back when we are done.” For some reason, it felt wrong to leave. So I stayed like a doula after birth and hovered at a distance.

The duo in nursing scrubs smoothed away the evidences of struggle and braced for the mess of involuntary reflexes. The large nurse explained details to me like a patient teacher, “After the heart stops, blood collects in puddles.” The unlikely team turned the body’s heft to reveal blue and purple pools of blood settled at the lowest places. I wondered at the hidden colors of death and the power of a beating heart.

Water trickled in a washbasin as the attendants wrung wash cloths and returned the body to a peaceful position. In the middle of her flat white stomach, I noticed the small mark of her infancy. I stared at the belly button, the last vestige of an umbilical lifeline embedded in a lifeless body, a reminder of clamped cords and new creations set free. And I felt the rumble of silent thunder. I sensed the divine echo that whispers through sanctuaries, birthing rooms and deathbeds, “I am here.”

The workers tucked sheets in around her clean body and confirmed the time of death. Just before sunrise on New Years Eve, my husband’s mother exhaled her last breath and was birthed from a bruised womb into the arms of an eternal father.

I turn the clicking knob on my washing machine. I stare as the streaming water churns into soapy suds and I think of the compression of our 18 days as a divine sloshing mix of brides and grooms, shame and redemption, birth and bleeding, final breaths and new life.

And I think I hear the whisper again, more felt than heard, “I am here.

I hold the soft sweater over the water, take one last whiff of that day in December, and let it go. Close the lid. We begin again.

 

 

 

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Circle Image, original acrylic canvas by 

messy-beautiful-700b

 

I am linking up with Glennon Doyle Melton over at Momastery for the Messy Beautiful Warriors Project. You can find this post linked on the Messy Beautiful Warrior page on Momastery, with a host of other truth-telling writers, HERE.

Glennon is tiny in stature and a mighty on motivation.  I resonate with her heart to encourage others to openly “deal with the discomfort and messiness of being a human being.” A catch phrase among Momastery followers is “Life is beautiful and life is brutal. Life is brutiful.”   

I joined this project to tell my own brutiful truth about my journey with intimacy anorexia — with the hope that you might be freed to do the same.   

 

heart and barbed wire

First Step

We sat in a full circle of folding-chairs in an office lunchroom with other people’s coffee mugs drying by the sink. The fIrst meeting started and I stared at the papers in my lap. I didn’t want to say the sentence out loud in a group, or anywhere for that matter. I fiddled with my wedding ring and crossed my legs again. My foot bobbed up and down like a nervous metronome. Around the circle, one by one women offered their names and recovery issues. My heart raced as my turn got closer.  Closer. Closer. Stop. The room waited.

My whole life had led to these words, to that sentence, and so many other declarations of recovery, one statement of truth at a time.

“Hi, my name is Kelley. I am a recovering intimacy anorexic.”

Every week I drive down 2000 ft. of elevation through a winding canyon pass from my quirky little mountain town down to the city below. I travel a long way to sit beside my women with their 12 Step journals and stories of heartbreak and hope.  Each week, my sentence of introduction flows with more ease, like icy mountain streams in the melt and thaw of spring.

The more we speak our truth, the easier it gets.

Every human has a particular broken thing which warrants recovery and rescue. All addiction is about self-managing and medicating the emotional pain that comes with our broken things. We all have our ways to cope, to mask, to compensate for the ways we are imperfect.

My broken piece has a variety of names. Intimacy Anorexia is just one of many label like sexual anorexia, sexual abuse issues, sexual aversion disorder, or intimacy anorexia. For me, they are all different names for layers of the same onion. At the heart is a a fear of true intimacy.  I am addicted to self-protection in the form of withholding. I am in recovery from my addiction to self-preservation, to withdrawal, and withholding of sexual intimacy.

My husband used to say things like, “I just want your heart” and “Where did you go?” and “You are here, but you aren’t fully present.”  And he was right. But it took years for us to figure out why.

Barbed Wire

For years, I behaved well in my marriage, and hid the broken things of my heart. I starved myself from vulnerability and exposure from my husband, and from God.  In a sense, I spent a lot of time building barbed wire fences and setting land mines around myself, and my husband, for safety, to create distance. My subconscious mantra was “You can only come so close.’

At some point over 20 + years, Steve, my tall philosophic flannel-wearing husband, started to kill hope. He started to carry despair instead.  As mercy would have it, for a host of reasons, we hit bottom in the parking lot of Wal-Mart. One desperate night my compliant husband finally named the spade and demanded a change. He said he was afraid if we kept going as celibate room mates, that someone might come along and offer him what I wouldn’t. He admitted to feeling vulnerable enough to take the offer if it appeared.

To that point, we had lived a lifetime of false peace-keeping. We lived with an unspoken vow not to disrupt each other. We were silently co-dependent. I spent my times of crisis in the bathroom, quietly feeling hopeless and suicidal; he, in his own way, coping by killing all feeling.

We aren’t meant to be “nice’ at all costs. We are not supposed to ignore dysfunctions and cover up for each other. We are built to speak truth, with grace, in love. We are meant to be lovingly disruptive and step into the mess as truth-tellers. We are built to slop around in the healing together, to be known and loved in those messy places.

My husband’s bravery was the beginning of my recovery.

Battlements

At the beginning of my meetings, introductions may include a variety of issues.

“Hi my name is So and So, and I …

live with a sex addict, I am married and alone.

am a sex addict.

am a codependent.

am an intimacy anorexic.”

Maybe that’s confusing. Why would I be in the same room with people who have such different sexual issues? So let me explain my issue in terms of eating disorders. Organizations like FindingBalance put really over-weight people and really under-weight people together in the same recovery process. Why? Obesity and anorexia may have visibly opposite symptoms but BOTH are using food to solve something profoundly broken. The person who is using food to over-eat and self-medicate and the person who is spending all their energy avoiding food share the same core focus. Both people are using food to mask a bigger shame at the core.  In my group, we are all addicted to misusing sex and intimacy.  We are all either binging or starving ourselves … or living with addicts who binge or starve themselves.

At the core is a shared fear of intimacy. In different ways, maybe that’s a vulnerability we all share as humans. Intimacy is the emotional moving toward, the choice to be vulnerable. Sometimes, the hardest thing is a step toward being known, instead of a step away.

I spent a lot of time in our marriage building walls and burying land mines in order to create a safe distance. I used withholding characteristics like:

  • Staying busy in order to avoid connection
  • Blaming instead of taking responsibility
  • Anger/Silence
  • Withholding sex
  • Withholding feelings

That’s my sobriety check list. Those behaviors are like my drinks lined up on a bar. They threaten my marriage and make my life unmanageable. They are indicators of dangerous withdrawal in my heart.

So, each week, I find myself in the same room with people who are dealing with obsession and aversion. At the root, our issues are all about the things of beautiful intimate union, broken and mending. We are a room full of re-set bones in casts and slings.  We are people emerging on the other side of a massive invisible wreck with our lives intact.

Sting wrote a song back in the 80’s. It’s the soundtrack for my journey out of intimacy anorexia:

Under the ruins of a walled city 

Crumbling towers in beams of yellow light.

No flags of truce, no cries of pity; 

The siege guns had been pounding through the night.

It took a day to build the city.

We walked through its streets in the afternoon.

As I returned across the fields I’d known,

I recognized the walls that I once made.

Had to stop in my tracks for fear of walking on the mines I’d laid. 

 

And if I’ve built this fortress around your heart,

Encircled you in trenches and barbed wire, 

Then let me build a bridge, for I cannot fill the chasm,

And let me set the battlements on fire.

 

~Sting, Fortress Around Your Heart, Dream of the Blue Turtles

I love this song because, ok, it reminds me of younger days riding in my car with the windows down and the music very very loud. One. But, two, it’s an empowering anthem. It’s my song to my husband, my God, and my people.

Freedom

I still fight the urge to put up walls and create distance when I feel intimate fear. I am constantly tripping over old baited traps. I don’t instinctively want to move toward my husband when life gets disruptive to my heart.  I still struggle to stay in the room when my emotions get ugly. But I do, mostly, stay fully present.

I have been let out of the prison of my own design. I am not tempted by suicide anymore. Sure, I stress and feel anxiety, but those emotions are guides now. They point me to engage with my higher power, where Jesus leads to me to deeper truth and healing. I am learning that true intimate sex is a comfort and sweetness. I am learning to stay present and not run to busy avoidance; to chose disruption over false peace and hiding. I now believe these words like they are the newly formed scars of surgery:

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.*

I am a woman in recovery, a clay jar with hope and power spilling out of the cracks. And I am willing to speak the extremity and the mess. I am learning to tell the truth and listen for it. Because truth leads us out of the darkness of secrets, fear, and control, into the light of freedom. The Big Blue Book claims: “We shall know a new freedom.”  And I like to think these ancient words are the source of that echo: “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” 

Speak your truth, friend.

Let the frozen streams thaw into a cleansing flood.

Go.

 

What is your brutiful truth?

 

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Resources: 

Books

Intimacy Anorexia: Healing the Hidden Addiction in Your Marriage, Douglas Weiss, Ph.D.

Sexual Anorexia: Overcoming Sexual Self-Hatred, Patrick J. Carnes Ph.D.

The Wounded Heart: Hope for Adult Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse, Dr. Dan B. Allender

Sites

Finding Balance Eat Well. Live Free.

Intimacyanorexia.com

 

*Quote Source: The Bible, 2 Corinthians 4:7

Image Source: Old barn wood heart by TheLonelyHeart via Etsy