Faith

How Our Faith is Changing Our Life

Faith

Photo by Guilherme Stecanella on Unsplash

 

I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:13 NIV

 

Faith is a tricky thing. We have always had faith in certain things. Faith that we could keep our children alive, faith that the sun would rise, faith that night would come and go, to list a few. Faith is what kept us pushing forward, even when we didn’t know what we were pushing for. From the very beginning of our collective existence, whenever that was, there was faith in something, always. The vast majority of us did not have faith in God or faith in ourselves.

We knew about God. We were raised in a Congregational church. We knew (and still know) the bible stories and we knew that we had to be good and kind in order to be in God’s good graces. We were in church plays, children’s choir, and eventually confirmation classes. We did all of that.

What we didn’t do was develop a personal relationship with God. None of us did. Many of us enjoyed and found comfort in the rituals of the church, but we never really prayed or talked to God. We didn’t feel worthy. We felt rejected and abandoned by God.

Fast-forward a lot of years and skipping a lot of things, we have finally found faith in God. We finally understand that we were never rejected or abandoned. We have been working hard for the last 5 months to develop a relationship with our Heavenly Father. The effort is there and there is absolutely a peace that comes with it.

For so many trauma survivors faith in God is a hard one. Whenever the trama was, it’s easy to feel that God has left us, that we are handling the hard and nasty on our own. I don’t want to make this simplistic at all. It’s a hard process. It’s one that requires moving forward and stepping out of the chaos, the hurt, and the pain. Especially if that is where our comfort is found. God is there in the mix of it but all of our heavy emotions are blocking us from seeing Him. We are so wrapped up in the hurt that we can’t feel His love. For some of us, feeling love is raw and uncomfortable.

It’s not until we can risk taking that baby step out of the pain that we can shake off the darkness enough to see Him. He wants to love us. We have to let Him, invite Him in so that we aren’t alone. He won’t come barging in to save us when we don’t feel safe enough to invite Him in. Why would He add more stress for us? It’s up to us to seek Him out, then He knows we truly are ready for Him and His presence won’t cause more darkness for us.

We took that step months ago and we have not only sought Him out but we allowed Him in. Life still isn’t perfect. Bad things happen. We get scared sometimes and stressed out other times. We still battle getting caught up in the chaos and darkness. We still battle the feeling of needing something to be wrong all the time. We still sometimes find comfort in chaos instead of the light, but this time He is with us and we make it through so much more quickly and with far less self-defeating attitudes.

All things are possible with Him who gives me strength.

 

 

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Learned

10 Things We Learned This Week

Learned

1.) Red Robin will soon be going strawless, as was proclaimed by a large button pin on our server’s chest yesterday. We will have to bring our own straws if we intend to use a straw at Red Robin. Our server said he has friends who carry around metal straws when they go out to eat so they always have a straw. I’m not quite sure what I think of this yet, but I do know it’s something we learned.

2.) Our fitness classes make us very sore. Hey, its proof they are working, right? It’s not a complaint but if we stay in one spot too long we can’t move easily. Encouragement to get up and move more often? Fitness is becoming a lifestyle. If only we could move our food choices to the better range more often haha.

3.) Brisk Green Tea is really good. Especially with citrus or peach. It’s a bit carb heavy, but it’s still really good and isn’t green tea supposed to be good for metabolism? It’s good, and I’m going to say it’s healthy. Maybe we will keep it as an every-so-often thing. Walmart makes a carb and sugar-free water green tea and mango peach water flavor. It’s so yummy.

4.) Sometimes what looks like rain is really not raining. It’s like a mist, a heavy fogy weirdness that comes and goes and looks like something out of a horror movie.

5.) Dentists are weird here in Washington. We had to wait 5 weeks to see a dentist that could handle a crown issue and when we got there all he could do was extract the tooth. So why couldn’t another dentist do that sooner?

6.) Sometimes people need time to process and think about things. Other people’s actions and reactions are their concern. It’s up to us to regulate our own actions and reactions and to love ourselves and others through their own struggle. It is not up to us to fix someone else or to move our boundaries to accommodate someone else.

7.)  Our emotional support dog is a complete moron at times, and we love that about him. He’s goofy, funny, sweet, and a cuddler. He’s neurotic and afraid of the strangest things, but we are pretty sure that if we were in trouble he’d protect us. We spend most of our time emotionally supporting him haha.

8.) Having a tooth extracted sucks a lot. The pain is stupid. The hole where the tooth was is stupid. The fact that it was necessary is stupid. And having it hurt 3 days later is stupid. It’s all just plain stupid.

9.) Writing here has a profound effect on our mood and how we process our life. Not writing is harmful to our emotional state and our processing ability. Not sharing on our blog takes away our ability to help people.

10.) Boundaries must reasonably set and respected all the time. Boundaries keep you safe and healthy. There will never be another time in our life where a person gets to railroad us and run all over our boundaries. This is our time to shine.

 

 

emotions

Feeling Feelings: Allowing the Emotions

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Feeling feelings is not always fun or easy. Trust me, this much I know well. It’s so much easier in the short run to stuff them, ignore them, dissociate away from them. It’s easier to deny the feelings and pretend we’ve processed them. It’s something we do very well. And something that Mama never fails to catch on to.

Yesterday was the anniversary of our marriage. It would have been 15 years had he still been alive and we had still been with him. For the bulk of the day, we felt unsettled and out of sorts. Focusing was hard and admitting we were struggling was nearly impossible. We did manage to admit it and reach out to two people outside of our home. Thank God, literally, for our accountability partner and our sponsor. Cadie talked about it a little with Mom, and we were able to admit later to Dad that it was an emotional day.

But in almost all of those cases, we brushed off just how hard. Not because we didn’t trust them, but because we weren’t allowing ourselves to actually feel it. We just let the sadness touch us a small bit and siphoned off the rest.  We woke up this morning feeling better, but also realizing what we did yesterday. We opted to not feel it. We opted to not be a bother, or a distraction, from other people’s day and tasks. We opted to shut it off.

The healing isn’t going to happen until we start dealing with the pain. More than that, however, we need to start feeling all of our emotions. Feeling them, identifying them, and accepting them. We’ve been through enough therapy, and we have a degree in psychology, so we know that we have to do these things in order to heal. We also know that we have decades of pushing the emotions to the side.

In order to do these things, you have to be able to identify your emotions and learn to let them out. That’s a bit hard to do when you aren’t fully aware of blocking them. I think, in our case, we need Jenna to help point out when we are blocking them. We also have to put the effort into being mindful. Each of us has a responsibility to do that. We have to be aware of ourselves and each other, and we need to focus less on being in the way of other people.

We’re going to have to work on being as kind to ourselves and each other, as we are to others outside of the system. I’m fairly certain that most people need to work on being as kind to themselves as they are to others. Maybe that is the starting point for feeling emotions.

What can you do to be more aware of your emotions?

Puppies and Kabs

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A large tree at the park in Longview. It was an amazing park! We were on Lion’s Island.

Last weekend the whole family and princess Francis piled into the car and we headed down to Longview. We had two reasons for this trip. We went to meet a friend that we’ve been talking to on Facebook for what seems like forever (over 3 years, actually), and we were also picking up our new dog!  Yes, Family Chaos has a new dog!

Walter is a puggle who was in a kill shelter in Las Vegas. He was getting close to the end of his time there. Mom found him online and arranged for him to be transported to us. Two amazing ladies helped Mom get Walter from the shelter to Longview where we picked him up. He’s a great little man. Howard thinks Walter’s pretty cool too as long as Walter stays off of Howard’s bed.

Meeting our friend was a good reminder of how far we have come in our life. We can meet people, safely. We can understand what boundaries are and how to implement them. We can talk to someone online and then choose to meet them in person, should we wish to. Our life has endless possibilities. Our future has endless possibilities. We just have to put things in motion and not allow fear of growth to hold us back.

 

 

Forgive Us Our Trespasses

(Content Summary for our readers who have trouble with religion as a topic. This post is mainly about religion and how it teaches us forgiveness. This is a big deal for us and while we’d like to share it with everyone, we acknowledge potential triggers.)

 

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Last night’s church service was about forgiveness and caring for others. 

Lately, there’s been a lot going on in our family, in our chosen family, our inside family and our biological family. Most of these going-ons have nothing to do with us personally, we are simply affected due to proximity and, in some cases, name. Some of these things have really pushed some huge emotional buttons within us. Some have brought back memories we didn’t necessarily want back.

As we’ve faced these things, many of us have noticed an increasing struggle with forgiveness. Forgiving others, forgiving ourselves and each other, and being forgiven.  In some of these cases, a few of us had been convinced that they already did that forgiveness thing and had moved on. Emotional reactions state otherwise.

The other night Lyssa and Erica were reading a book before bed.  The book brought up an interesting thought. In the prayer commonly known as The Lord’s Prayer, there’s this verse.

Forgive us our trespasses (debts)

As we forgive those who trespassed against us (debtors)

The word “as” is the focal point of mine*, Erica’s, and Layna’s** thought processes here. It doesn’t say “forgive because I forgave you”, it uses the word “as”. I just read through many versions of this prayer (and the reasons why some denominations won’t use it – I distract easily) and most of them use that same word “as”, even if many of the other words have been modernized or changed.

So why has this caught our interest and taken hold? Because the word “as” changes how the statements are interpreted. People we know and things we have read often use this phrase to teach us to forgive others because we are forgiven.

While I agree with that whole-heartedly, what happens if we read this phrase as “forgive us our trespasses in the same manner as we forgive those who trespass against us”? What does that look like?  For us, it would look a lot like we aren’t going to be fully forgiven anytime soon.  That’s a huge awakening for some of us in the system. We want to be forgiven (and we know God has forgiven us), and we need to work on forgiveness. This thinking about that word “as” has a few of us really processing what it means to forgive fully.

Many of us are odd in the fact that we find it easier to forgive our childhood abuser than we do someone close to us who says something harmful. That makes no sense at all. Hurtful words from someone close to us said in the heat of the moment, should not be harder to forgive than the abusive and toxic actions of a grown man against us as a child that shaped our development and life path. We hold on to the resentment of harsh words. It makes a lot of us hypocrites and we do not do well with hypocrisy in others, so what makes it okay for us? Nothing. We tell ourselves we’ve forgiven only to find ourselves stuck in negative thought patterns that tell us that maybe we have some work to do there. That needs to stop.

What is it about our childhood abuser that all of us can shrug it off and declare him forgiven and move on. The answer to that scares me a little bit. I believe that enough of us have decided that it was our fault so its easier to let it go than deal with that. That isn’t any more healthy than holding on to hurt over something minor.

Layna, Erica, and I want to forgive. We want to forgive like we’ve been forgiven. We want to learn and grow and progress, and to do that we have to forgive. And that’s going to require more action on our parts. This was something we wanted to work on in therapy but not bad enough to commit to a therapist. We can work on this with our support system and each other.

While it may help us to remember and process some things from our past, it doesn’t mean we need to dig it all up and live there again. That’s where the direction of our book went wrong. We don’t need to live in that trauma anymore. It happened. We will deal with it as it becomes necessary, not use it to continue to beat ourselves up with.

Maybe our struggle with forgiveness is because we have to forgive ourselves and each other before we understand true forgiveness?

 

 

 

 

*We are not educated at all in religion. We’ve read a lot, experienced a lot, studied some, but have never had any formal instruction. These thoughts are all simply mine, Layna’s and Erica’s**. They are more food for thought for us than any kind of instruction at all. Ever.

**(Side note: I am trying to get away from just saying a general “we” when not all of us may experience, believe, etc the same. I’m really trying to reserve the general “we” for things that are absolutely system-wide. I will fail at times, but it’s a work in progress.)

How to Make Fear Work for Us

achievement confident free freedom

Photo by Snapwire on Pexels.com

Fear is a real jerk sometimes. It buddies up real close with anxiety and together the two of them get in the way of really experiencing life. Fear stops us in our tracks and causes us to re-evaluate whether something is worth the risk. It allows us to believe the negative self-talk and the negative and unkind words of people around us. We get stuck on words like fat, lazy, over-emotional, stupid, etc. We get pulled in by the necessity of meeting the expectations of others, many times others who couldn’t live up to the same expectations they set (that could be us, each other, family, friends, teachers, etc). The fear of failing to live up to those expectations can be, and often is, paralyzing. We are doomed before we ever start.

There’s got to be a way around this fear. As a system who has lived in fear of some form for well, 37 years, we can tell you that this is a real pain in the ass problem. We know we aren’t alone there. It’s a common human problem. The fear wins.

Lately, if you’ve noticed, we’ve been reflecting on our life. Specifically how we’ve grown and changed in the last 3 years.  We are still fat…. but not AS fat. We are still lazy… but not ALL the time. We are still prone to predicting failure before we even begin… but we often begin anyways.

Do you see what we’ve been seeing? There are still those stinging words, but there’s progress behind them. Fear is losing, somehow. We’ve been active in Zumba for over 3 months. We fought through the fear of going to something new and found something we love and can be consistent with. We are going to CR consistently and participating on a helpful level. Learning to work the slides and helping to greet people as they come in. Fear almost kept us from that too.

Hitting publish on every post we write is an act against fear. What if people don’t like it? Don’t read it? Say mean things?

Who cares? For real. If we’re writing for ourselves then what does it ultimately matter. Other people are going to have expectations and opinions on how every single one of us lives our life. Let them. Listen to them and see what you can take from the expectations… and then move away from trying to please everyone else.

Let fear go. Don’t feed it anymore. Acknowledge the fear and then do the thing anyway. If we fail, we’ve learned how not to do it. Maybe, just maybe, we also learn that failing isn’t the end of the world.

Inner Excavation: Learn to Thrive?

Inner Excavation is a book we found at Goodwill. Have I mentioned that Goodwill is our most favorite place to shop?

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No? Well, now you know, haha.

The book is pretty awesome. It’s all about exploring yourself through photography, writing, crafting, and mindfulness. Some of us have been following some of the exercises in the book and it’s been fun. I thought I’d take some time to share. There’s a lot of chaos inside this morning and too many different post ideas. It seems like the perfect time to share what we’ve been seeing on our walks. Part of one the photography exercises was to take pictures of what’s happening right now (or right then, as is in this case).

Walking around our neighborhood kind of seems mundane, but we noticed the other day that we’ve been missing a lot by being so focused on just walking. We haven’t been enjoying some really awesome things. The pictures I’m going to share now are just the beginning of recording our experiences visually.

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For whatever reason, Erica is drawn to trees. She loves everything about big, strong, and tall trees that have withstood the world. Storms, drought, and humans didn’t get the best of them. Looking at these pictures I see life. Strong life. I want to be strong like the trees Erica values so much. I want to grow as the trees did (and are doing). A lot of us want to experience life. Be involved, like the roots of these huge trees. Dig down and build relationships with God, with others, with each other. We want to learn about people and societies. We want to understand the intricacies of the world.

We want to thrive.