What Good Am I?

I’ve fallen behind from where I wanted to be with my book-writing, but I’m still plugging along. It’s at a slower, less productive pace than I was aiming for, but it’s progress, nonetheless.

What Good Am I-

One thing that has really surprised me in writing this book is how much I’ve forgotten about my own marriage, and life in general. All of these memories and circumstances that have been crowded out by new memories and circumstances, have been finding their way to the surface of my mind. I’ve found myself reminiscing about a lot of my past experiences, what they were, who was involved, and how they might have contributed to the person I am today.

Along those lines, there’s been a giant dose of self-consciousness heaped upon me, especially in moving forward with the book.
“Oh dear…I did that.”
“Oh gosh, I forgot about how foolish I was when I….”
“Ugh, I was hoping to never remember that again…”

These are some of the thoughts I’ve wrestled with as I type along, hoping to impart wisdom on relationships and marriage to anyone who might read it one day.

And “wrestled with” is putting it lightly. My emotions have taken over in an all-out brawl at times as I recall choices I made, people I hurt, or promises I broke.

Many mornings I’ve woken up with some great ideas, only to talk myself out of them. You can’t do that because you lost credibility when you ____(fill in the blank with something from my past)____. No one will listen to you, because they’ll remember when you said, “___(fill in the blank with something hurtful or unfounded)___.” 

I’m constantly talking myself down. I struggle, also, with whether or not I’m being narcissistic in this venture. Why would anyone trust I have anything helpful to share about marriage, or life in general? Why, when we live in a world where everyone wants to be heard, do I think I need to be heard above any single one of them? How does my message benefit anyone? What hasn’t been said before? I don’t research, I don’t counsel, I don’t have any degree or letters after my name that credit me as any kind of authority on marriage, or relationships.

What good am I?

I slink back in my own little shell, being a mama, a wife, and employee. I have nothing to offer other than what’s before me. What I’m required to do well in. My worth is counted in my pre-programmed tasks. I loaded the dishwasher today – score! I kept Little Man from bathing himself in yogurt today – score!

Honestly, some days, that’s all I can manage. But that’s not all I was created to be, and certainly not what all of my days were meant for.

Those self-deprecating statements, those triggers from my past that hold me down in a pit of unworthiness, and those burdensome chains of doubt and insecurity are all gifts to me from the father of lies. He wants to hold me in bondage. He wants to shame me. He wants me to forego healing, and cling to hurt. His business is keeping me out of the business of helping others, and of helping myself. His business is ruining marriages, and anyone who tries to build them up. His business is destruction.

The other morning, as I was reading my Bible, I read this passage from Psalm 139:

You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.

I’m a crier, admittedly, but I only remember crying fewer than a handful of times with regard to scripture. Until I read that passage. I surprised myself with how choked up I became. This beautiful depiction of God’s omniscience nearly did me in. He knows me. He knows everything I’ve done, everything I’ll do, and still, He lays His hand upon me.

He doesn’t reject me. He doesn’t show me every way in which I’ve failed. He doesn’t tell me I’d better not pursue anything better than what I have right now because what I’ve done in life prevents me from deserving more.

He lays His hand upon me.

When you’re at your worst, scared you’ll be unaccepted, shunned, dismissed, and you’re embraced instead – you know unconditional love. He doesn’t want to condemn me – He invites me to continue on with Him.

He knows everything. Everyone. Eternally. It’s not my story I’m telling. It’s not my mistakes or shortcomings I’m proclaiming victory over. It’s His story. His glory. His purpose.

He lays His hand upon me. And I keep writing.

3 Ways Hurting Has Helped Me Heal

Call me stubborn, but I’ve never quite bought into the whole “pick yourself up and dust yourself off” mentality. If I’m going to feel something, I’m going to feel it until it’s all feeled-out. I’m going to be mad until I can’t be mad anymore. I’m going to laugh until my sides ache. I’m going to cry until I have no energy left to shed more tears.

I don’t pick myself up. I don’t dust myself off. I allow myself the freedom to roll or wallow, barge or bolt through, or whatever I need to do to make sure I understand what I’m feeling, and why. Usually, I end up learning from it.

After we lost Harlynn, my entire perspective shifted. I was forever changed. I realized I didn’t want to be stifled in my grief. I wanted, more than anything, to be allowed to grieve messy. And whether I was “allowed” to or not, it’s what I did.

With another Mother’s Day recently past, I once again waddled through grief in different stages. And I was okay with that.

3 Ways

So how has hurting helped me heal? Oh, let me count the ways! I’m by no means “healed” or restored to what – or who – I once was. But I know allowing myself to feel the hurt has been more of a healing journey than a hindered one. Here are three of the many ways I can share with you.

1. Doing What Matters

Before Harlynn died, we did what we had to. We went to our jobs, dropped Little Miss off every day of the week, went home, fulfilled social obligations, and hoped one day it would all pay off. When I returned to work from “maternity leave” – which totally sucked because I didn’t have a baby with me during those weeks – I found so many things about my life pointless.

Why was I advancing this person’s distribution so they can make a boat payment? Not important to me. Why was I letting someone else play with and tickle Little Miss instead of being the one to do that myself? Why was I driving through fast food every night because I was too tired to stand over a stove and cook a vegetable or two for my family?

No. When I was able to allow myself to feel the hurt of what I was missing out on, I began to have clarity and focus on everything that actually mattered to me. I took a job working from home. I stayed with Little Miss and watched her sing Frozen songs to her own reflection. I have been able to witness every single moment of every single day of Little Man’s life. I cook for my family. We go shopping during the daytime because we can. We spend time together doing things that pull us together as a family. We know what we can lose in an instant, so we make sure we spend our time doing what matters most. And it’s absolutely liberating.

2. Totally In Tune

I am more in tune with who I am as a person than I have ever been. I know my likes, I know my dislikes. I know my preferences and my purposes. I know things I can do to fill my family’s emotional tanks, and fill my own.

I am not afraid to put my foot down for my own desires. If I don’t want to go somewhere, I don’t go. If I want to invite someone over, I invite them over. I don’t have to have every crumb picked up from the floor or every dust speck wiped from the shelves – I am totally in tune with who I need to be with in certain seasons and times, and I can assure you they don’t care about crumbs or dust.

I know when I need to step back and have some alone time. I can sense things in my environment that build me up or detract from what I need it to be, and I address it right then. I have nothing to hide, and no reason to pretend. It took me more than 30 years to get to know the real me, but I’ve got to tell you, I like this gal. She’s sassy, she’s smart, and she adds a lot of value.

3. Firmer Faith

Allowing myself to hurt whenever the feelings of grief crop up has not distanced me from God. Rather, it has drawn me closer. I was so tender at first, and I remember not even being able to pray. I felt far too vulnerable. I was a gaping, gushing wound, and my spiritual journey seemed too intense to bring into the fold of what was happening in my life. Yet, the more I allowed myself to live in the raw moments, the more I was able to trust the One who would get me through each one.

I used to think David, the Psalmist, was a bit bipolar. But you know what? His baby died. He lost more than one child. He grieved. He also ruled a nation and had the stress of a kingdom on his shoulders. Do you know how he handled it, though? By being raw in the moment, and praising God anyway. I can attest as time has gone on, the more I give in to the rawness of the moment, the closer He draws me to Him.

God has never once left my side in all of this. It wasn’t a side I was comfortable standing next to for a time. So I withdrew. But being genuine and authentic in my pain and grief in the very presence of God, has shown me that He’s authentic and genuine in His love for me – no matter how I’m feeling. I can’t even get over it. My grief in losing my daughter has given me firmer faith. It doesn’t make sense. But I love it.

Whatever season you’re walking through right now, I pray you give yourself the freedom to walk through it in whatever way you need to. Take the long way. Take your shoes off. Sit down right in the middle of your journey’s road. Just allow yourself to hurt when you’re hurting.

Work through the pain, learn from the experience, and let it grow you personally. It won’t be the same for everybody. It probably won’t be easy. But I promise, giving yourself the freedom to process through things the way you need to, will be totally worth it.