There are experiences you go through in life and you wonder if the change and excitement will stay or if it will slowly fade away. You relish in the newness, hoping it is a life long change, but life happens, circumstances come along testing the steadfastness and the change. Granted it has only been two weeks since the last Ultimate Journey class, but I can honestly say I react to Mark differently, I react to my kid’s differently, I react to life differently. I have learned to embrace fear, to look at my sadness, anger, guilt and shame in the face and to truly feel them. Not stuffing them, not blaming anyone for them, but simply giving myself time to feel and acknowledge the feelings and emotions are there. To allow myself to get angry at what is happening both to me and around me. Giving myself permission to not be able to handle life perfectly and to give myself permission to grieve that life isn’t going the way I thought it would. Grieving the loss of an ideal I had dreamed of for so long and in return finding peace and freedom at being able to embrace the new dream God has planned for me.
I am in practice mode and I believe I will be in practice mode the rest of my life. There are some situations and circumstances one cannot dream up will happen. Relationships I don’t know how to deal with and must go to the scriptures and to God to get the answers. Especially when they are relationships that I need to decide if it’s healthier to let go or if they are worth hanging in there and persevering through the struggles. Weighing the cost to my family and our emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual health. I do find myself more willing to tackle confrontation, as uncomfortable as it may be, I find myself stepping up to bat more often. Actually speaking up instead of letting things lie and let it go, which usually would have lead to me harboring bitterness or anger and not letting it go. Addressing the issues has allowed me to let it go and let be what it ends up being. This is a place of freedom and often a place of tension, because my boundaries have changed, what I have allowed to happen and not happen has changed, and it makes people uncomfortable.
I wanted to know how to handle relationships, especially hard relationships with the newness I had found and I wasn’t sure how to do it. The Lord lead me to Proverbs 15 which says, A soft answer turns away wrath, or at least that is the premise of the chapter. I encourage you to read it, it has truly helped me in dealing with relationships. Helping me to take deep breaths, encouraging me to not just bulldoze someone, but to show them the same patience I would want, the same love and compassion I would want shown to me. I still have a ways to go in learning how to feed my soul and my spirit, taking care of me before anyone else is taken care of. This would seem selfish but it is actually quite the opposite. How can we give out to others if we are selves have nothing to give, yet we try and often fail miserably, because we don’t have ourselves filled up. We must seek to find our passions first, we must be rooted in what fills us up before we help anyone else. Otherwise as great as our intentions are, they will suck us dry, frustrate us, and lead to depression.
What does taking care of myself look like? It looks like creating art, baking and cooking, it looks like blogging and writing, it looks like a mocha and a long drive all by myself listening to the radio. It looks like sleeping in and allowing myself time to myself. It looks like saying no when I want to or need to, it looks like not taking on commitments if it overtaxes me or makes me too busy. I’m still learning everyday what fills me and what empties me, I’m still learning when to say no and when to embrace something and jump in.
The answer is, yes, I am changed, my family is changed, yet with a large learning curve thrown in. Giving myself room to still blow it and throw fits, giving myself room that when life gets to be too much and I find depression sinking in and I don’t go to the truth first, to be thankful that God will bring me truth and encouragement, taking comfort that Jesus the shepherd will always come looking for me and he will always find me. I am not lost, I am a beloved, cherished, sheep who sometimes gets lost or takes a wrong turn. I am a beloved, cherished sheep who has a shepherd who loves me so very much and will find me no matter how tangled I get myself.
Life after journey is well life, it is wonderful and painful at the same time, it is up hills and down hills, it still has it’s struggles, but I have better tools to handle it. I have better courage to go forward, unafraid and unashamed! That is a great place to be! When guilt, fear, and shame is removed it is amazing what God can accomplish through me. When love abounds in Jesus Christ I can tackle anything that comes my way!