Unheard

I’m silent in my living, can you hear me sigh

I’m hurting, but my words won’t make you know

You won’t understand my screaming inside

How can I make you hear me when I’m quiet

I can’t convince you of my pain so why try

I can’t make you be with me so just go

What is wrong with me that I can’t explain

I’m somehow failing at the part of being with

Because I can’t draw you into my space

I only hurt you when I speak out of my heart

And share the burden that puts us both down

So what is this I’m supposed to do

And what’s the point anyway

I’ve been trying and now I’m done

Enough of causing myself more to bear

When I cannot create the balm

For wounds I did not cause

February, the last five years

Now that it’s mid-February, I was thinking and I realized that the month of February has often been a month of change for me.  Especially during the past five years, the month of February has been an incredible time of personal growth, decisions and realizations.  Here’s some of what God has done in my life.

In February 2012, I traveled by myself to four different music schools around the country to audition for graduate school programs.

In February 2013, I made the decision to start “talk” therapy with a licensed marriage and family therapist because of issues of depression and anxiety.

In February 2014, I made the decision to discontinue “talk” therapy and anti-depressant medication.

In February 2015, I made the decision to start “talk” therapy again and change churches.

In February 2016, I made decision to step down from the church music team to focus on different areas of ministry, such as writing and other areas of leadership.

In February 2017, after twenty-one years of music lessons, practice, tendinitis and two performance degrees on my instrument, I was hired to record for my first movie soundtrack.  This is a milestone in my profession.  I am humbled and blessed to have come this far.  It is only by the grace of God that I have gotten to this place professionally and can continue.

To continue, in this month this year, I am more authentically myself then I have ever been.  I am striving to be more honest and therefore more available for relationships.  I am determined to be more transparent and more able to invest in others’ lives.  I’m learning to listen to God more.  I’m getting involved in my church in more ways than ever before in ways that I’m truly passionate about.  I’m finding acceptance and meaning in the God who made me as He did in the ways He designed me to be.  Without the incredibly amazing work God has done throughout my life and especially during the past five years, I would be nowhere near the complete person I am today, living a full and abundant life in Christ.  Without God showing me His infinite and expansive love, I would not be at the place of wholeness, healing and health I am, by His grace.  And it is all for His glory.

Who knows what this month and year will hold for me?  Who knows what God has in store for me during the next five years?

Love Conquers

Love is not sameness.

Love is not uniformity.

Love does not mean we believe the same things.

Love does not mean we look alike.

Love does not mean we agree.

Love is loving in spite of ourselves.

Love is loving because we can.

Love people without judging them for their baggage.

Yet love people while you still see them with it all.

And love them the same as if they didn’t have it.

Because we all have unlovable stuff.

That’s why we love.

Because we were made in the image of the One who loves unlovables.

Truly Listening

My word for this year (2017) is ‘listen.’  I think I’m a pretty good listener.  But I think I listen too well to people that are not best for me.  I think I listen too much to Christian people because I don’t trust myself.  I think I listen to the things they say because I think they speak for God.  But I forget that I have God inside myself in the form of the Holy Spirit.  And I have His word in the Bible.  God knows me better than anyone does.  And He knows better than anyone what is best for my life.

To me, since I call myself a follower of Christ, my number one priority is to listen to God.  But that’s hard to do when literally everything else around me is vying for my attention.  So that’s why this year I want to take several moments each day to listen to God and follow His leading in my life.  It’s less about me telling myself what I should and could do, and more about being loved by God and living in that love.  It’s about listening to God’s voice more and more and the other voices less.  After all, He was there before everyone else and will be there after everyone else as well.  So I pray and hope this year is a year of truly listening to the One who is truly worth listening to.  And that my life after this year is a courageous continuation of the steps I’ve taken in 2017.

Identity.

What is my identity? What does that mean? How do I identify? What defines me?

I am created in the image of God. I am a Christian. I am a woman. I am Caucasian. These define me. They make up my identity.

But growing up in the conservative Christian church, I often felt like my identities were treated like boxes to be lived in instead of treasures to be celebrated. They felt more like labels to be worn than titles to be explored. They felt more like words to be endured than mantels to be adorned with.

As a Christian, I am a follower of Christ. I was told my identity was Christ, which is true. But what exactly does that mean? I think many Christians are afraid of the unknown. They are afraid of not knowing what it means to have the identity of Christ and what that looks like.

I was just told by the church what I should look like. I was told what to act like. I felt pressured to look like other Christians in the church. It’s almost as if many Christians in the church don’t trust the Spirit to lead and guide Christians in living their lives. And so Christians tell other Christians how to live and be and act. And if they don’t tell them explicitly, they imply it through peer pressure or actions or sermons or silent and disapproving looks. And because of that, I never felt I could trust myself with my God-given identities and figuring them out, exploring them, and loving them. I never felt I could hear the voice of God’s Spirit over the sound of all the other voices.

I would have sacrificed myself on the altar of church.

I would have gone down the path of taking my own life because I believed I didn’t fit what the church said I should be.

I almost thought I had to.

But God.

God protected me from that trap so that I can now grow into fully being who God intended and created me to be.

God showed me my identity is not the church. My identity is not what the church says my identity looks like. My identity is not what other people tell me I should act like. My identity is in Christ, who is the author and perfecter of our faith and the creator of humanity. With such a creative force behind my life, why become entrapped by what people say I should look like? God is within me as a Spirit so I have God’s ability to live my life as God designed. And I don’t have to settle for comparing myself to any other human because God’s design for them looks completely different from God’s design for me. I wish the church would encourage more listening to God’s Spirit instead of the church taking the role of speaking for God.

So what is my identity? It’s what God creates in me. It’s what God leads me to be. It’s what God confirms in me. Identity in Christ is so much more than what people say it is. My identity is a gift, it’s an adventure, and I am not alone in it. My identity is not something to be shamed by or be in bondage to. My identity is given to me by God. My identity is greater than myself. My identity is boundless because it is from God. My identity is my life.

Confront

Clawing at my heart, as if that would make me to stop feeling things

I don’t want to feel, don’t know how to feel, don’t know what to feel, was told never to feel.

Maybe if I do my own heart removal surgery I can control

And not be pushed over by my own personal bully

Telling me to stop, don’t feel that, only feel something else.

I keep struggling, trying to get the beating organ of feeling out of my chest

So that the bully in my head won’t tell me

To shut up and be quiet and stop it.

I keep trying to get the feeling out of myself

Because the bully of my programming tells me

If my feelings aren’t “good,” they’re wrong, and not right

And need to be fixed because I must be a problem

Broken, weak, bad.

I keep trying to reach inside,

Scratching to bleed, to remove the source of blood

Because the bully tells me it is not the one at fault,

That it’s really me, it’s my heart that is to blame.

I keep fighting my heart because I have a terrorist for a bully

And I keep battling what is not the enemy – me.

I choose to not turn on myself anymore.

I choose to confront the bully and tell it that

I won’t fight myself anymore.

I’ll fight and battle the bully now instead of myself.

And I won’t struggle to pull something out of me

That I desperately need to survive.

I will push the bully out who would destroy me

If I didn’t fight for my life against it

And not me.