The Empty Cup

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I hold an empty, disposable coffee cup in my hand.  It symbolizes my spiritual journey in the last year.  I have felt empty and disposable in the Body of Christ.

For the past several years, I have been on a healing journey–spirit, soul and body.  My thyroid stopped working and I ballooned in weight; so, last year, after a couple of years of getting the thyroid medications synced up to my brain, I started exercising again.  I LOVE working my body hard, and I love watching my body slowly, excruciatingly slow, gain back its strength.  This year, I begin the art of living bravely and vulnerably.  For years, I lived out loud and fearlessly.  I remember feeling alive and unafraid to take risks in relationships and daring to try new things.

Then I took a nose-dive with no parachute opening for me.

It’s a long journey and a long story; but I relate well to the man in the parable of The Good Samaritan who was beaten to the point of death.  Spiritually, I experienced that severe beating.  Emotionally, I experienced that severe beating.  All that beating took a toll on me physically.  Anyone who has been that character in the parable knows, but may not be able to articulate to anyone, the mystery of “O death, where is your sting.”  One moment I thought I might actually die, another I nearly panicked that I would not.

We all have what I call ‘ugly stories’ in our lives.  Mine are no worse than anyone else’s–they are just mine.  Some of my stories stifled my bravery and shut down my vulnerability.  I’m starting to reclaim myself this year.  If my physical body can recover with the help of doctors and discipline, I believe my spirit can recover its vibrancy and vitality with God’s help.

I hold an empty, recyclable coffee cup in my hand.  Empty of my preconceived beliefs about God and my place in His world, I wait with expectancy of what liquid He will choose to pour into me as my “drink offering.”  Recyclable, I wait with expectancy of how He will transform me to His purpose and give me “beauty for ashes.”

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Oneness of Heart

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Jud is reading Toxic Parents: Overcoming Their Hurtful Legacy and Reclaiming Your Life by Susan Forward and Craig Buck.  Last night, he hugged me and whispered, “I’m sorry for what that man did to you.”  He had read about the effects of sexual abuse on children.  He teared up when he looked at me.  For the first time in my life, I felt like someone actually FELT what it was like to be me.  Long-held defenses that I’d forgotten I forged melted with those tears of his.  As we talked about what he was reading and how it described the battle the abused face, I was able to describe my own struggles with shame and body-image that have become second-nature to me.

“Do you feel heard” is a buzz-phrase in our culture these days.  It’s a great starting place and I wouldn’t discourage that level of understanding another’s point of view.  But sometimes, when a heart lies raw and has tried to find the courage to express the deepest wounds it possesses, that heart needs someone to feel its pain and experience the wound.  I didn’t know I needed Jud to be ‘one’ with me in my pain from so long ago.  When we talk about marital ‘oneness’ in Christian circles, we rarely (if ever) mean fully experiencing another’s life.

After last night, I understand Jesus’ words afresh:  “I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one–as you are in me, Father, and I am in you.  And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me” (John 17:21).  When we can feel another’s experiences, then we can truly love another.  That kind of love should not be limited to marriage or a sexual relationship.  I echo that prayer for all who attempt to know and follow Jesus–may God make us one.

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Woman with Balloon

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My husband, Jud, and I just celebrated our 25th anniversary on January 9th.  We have 3 children who are almost grown:  Emily is 21, Jason is 19 and Jonathan is 17.  My goal as a mom has always been to work myself out of a job.  Sometime in 2012, I realized I have done my job well and my kids are flourishing and discovering their passions and making their journeys without me deciding things for them.  I’ve never felt like I ‘starred’ in life–I always related to the main character’s sassy best friend in movies.  Recently, in a fit of feeling especially unneeded, I told Jud that I don’t even feel like a supporting character anymore.  I’ve become an extra at the end of the movie credits like ‘Woman with balloon.’

And a blog was born.

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