In the last two years, I've faced many crossroads. I've moved five times, gotten a divorce, conceived a child, finished my doctorate, and am now roommates with my ex-husband..in the same house I moved out of two years ago. Are we back together? Not sure. Yes? I think? Neither of us really knows, but we're raising my daughter and our son together, we get along great, and we occasionally speak of remarrying. With an infant in the house, no one really knows what sleep is anymore, especially me since she and I share a room, so when we've tried to define our relationship and life together it's just comical and uncertain. "So am I like your boyfriend or something?" he will ask with a smile. "I dunno, should we like...go out on a date or something?" I'll ask in return. We both try to be hip and fresh and new, yet he's the same man who talks to me while I sit on the toilet and I'm the same woman who yells about his odorous gas and smelly socks. We've been together for over 11 years and know each other inside and out, so it's hard to try and carve out something new when we're both so accustomed to the old. But we try. Then the baby cries and the answers get lost in a sea of spit up and dirty diapers. The truth is, we don't have all the answers. We don't even have half the answers we'd like to have. He loves me, I love him, and we both love the children we're raising together. That much we know. It's an unusual dynamic considering my daughter was conceived by someone else while he and I were apart, but it's our dynamic and,strangely enough, it works. For now. Amidst the chaos of starting over with a newborn and stumbling our way through a marriage, divorce, and a now new and undefined, yet unfolding, relationship, we're just trying to take the next step and let hope rise.
Thursday, October 12, 2017
If you've ever sought therapy, then you know that your first encounter with a therapist is often birthed from some ongoing mental, emotional, or existential crisis that has finally become unbearable. Prior to setting that appointment, you were attempting to regulate and manage the pain or circumstance on your own, but you reached a breaking point. Congratulations, you're now ready for help and you can choose to see the breaking point as either a new beginning or a sad ending. It's your perspective to define. We all have a limit on how much we can take, and seeking therapy is not an indication of your weakness, but a bold statement of your humility and fortitude and drive to overcome. While many disdain the benefit of mental and emotional health treatment, as a therapist, I've seen beautiful and profound strength in the broken client who tearfully seeks help (Psalm 51:17). Those who disregard the advantages of therapy are usually the ones who have never experienced it, and therefore, have no knowledge with which to judge the treatment process and therapy dynamic. Is that to say therapy is for everyone? Certainly not. Each person must handle life in a way fitting for himself, but if you're a therapy patient, and have sought help from a place of brokenness and despair, know that you're stronger than you think, more capable than you've ever dreamed, and fully known and loved by a God who sees you (Genesis 16:13), not just as you are, but also as you can be.
Sunday, October 1, 2017
Have you ever struggled with sin? Ever found it difficult to stop behaving in a certain way that you knew wasn't good for you? Perhaps you drink too much and want to stop, but find yourself still pouring that glass at the end of the day. Maybe it's a sexual behavior and you're finding pleasure in promiscuity only to have it give way to feelings of guilt and shame when it's over. Pornography? You want to stop watching, but the strength of what you see pulls you in one more time. Addicted to stealing? The rush you get is one from which you want to be free, but you haven't been able to break that chain. We've all got something and from mid-2015 to January of this year when I found out I was pregnant with my daughter, I experienced self-inflicted heartache and struggle on an unprecedented level. Like Jacob, who wrestled with God (Genesis 32:22-32), I regularly fought with God, myself, and others, and like Jonah, who ran from the call of God (Jonah 1:3), I, likewise, fled the Lord's summons. I stepped deep into pits of my own sin and rebellion, and I watched as my family unit disintegrated under the tumultuous battle between good and evil, righteousness and wickedness. Recently, however, I have come to realize that despite the chaos and storms raging around and within, even when I am against me, God is still always for me (Romans 8:31).
Thursday, August 31, 2017
Back in January, I was still working in Orange County so the commute home always took me on the I-57 North, which, if you're familiar with Southern California freeways, then you know that this one takes you through some small rolling hills before hitting the I-10. I drove through these peaks daily, but rarely noticed the beauty they offer until after a week or so of regular rainfall. Instead, I mostly grumbled about having to drive in the downpour (pictured below) and sit in bumper to bumper traffic. I dislike driving in wet conditions as it is, and most residents of the state will readily admit to being spoiled by the usually sunny conditions, so when our rainy season hits, people nearly lose their minds. It's as if we all forget how to drive when water strikes. Our interstates are jammed packed already without precipitation, but throw a storm into the mix and it looks like what L.A. dubbed "Carmageddon" in 2011 when the I-405 temporarily shut down. Simply put, many of us, while keenly aware of the need for it, don't like the rain, at least not while driving. On January, 12, however, I was heading home through the hills after the week of storms had subsided and I was caught off guard by how beautifully green the landscape looked as I passed by (see pictures below). It was as if I was seeing everything for the first time. Had it always looked so colorfully vibrant and just missed my attention or was there really a difference? There was just something deeper and richer about the shade of green than what it had been before the week of storms, and it wasn't long after that when I realized the sweet parallels in the spiritual realm - To see clearly, sometimes it takes the rain.
Thursday, July 6, 2017
It's okay I felt His Spirit say. After what I had just done, it seemed incomprehensible that His message to me would be one of consolation. I had just done the unthinkable, after all. In a single moment I made the very mistake I had unknowingly been planning to make all along. The waves of forbidden desire finally emerged from my mind's shadow and came crashing into the shoreline of my moral compass, or as Freud would call it, my superego. The gratification and pleasure I derived from it all slowly faded into a black hole of guilt and shame, despair and confusion. How could I have let this happen? I silently and anxiously questioned as I fought back the tears that tried to fall. I was horrified to have come face to face with the sinfulness and depth of evil in my own heart. You see, we rarely just make a bad decision or engage in a particular mistake on the spur of the moment. Before there's action, there was thought. Contemplation. Consideration. We entertained the idea of the sin before we acted out the crime. You didn't just kill that person. A thought occurred before the trigger was pulled. Even in the most instantaneous and reflexive self-defense response, the thought preceded the pulled trigger. You didn't just fall into bed with the attractive co-worker. You first thought it through and imagined what it would be like. Your nose didn't just accidentally snort the line of cocaine. Your mind ingested it before your body ever did. You simply followed the thought trail that led you to it. The wisdom in Proverbs 4:23 that says "carefully guard your thoughts because they are the source of true life" is undeniable for it is in our thoughts that sin is first conceived. In my own scenario, instead of starving those ruminations, I fed them daily over a period of months. The next step was, inevitably, a painful one.
Sunday, August 21, 2016
In my job, nearly all of the clients with whom I work are struggling, or have struggled in the past, with addiction. Though I've had my own bouts with it throughout my lifetime, I have often minimized my struggles as being somehow less than an "addiction" problem. My two biggest Goliaths have always been smoking cigarettes or drinking too much alcohol, both substances that are widely available and completely legal. Most of my clients, on the other hand, doggedly battle against other foes. Meth. Heroine. Cocaine. You know, the "hard stuff." Until this last year I saw myself in a different boxing match than them, but what I've since discovered as I daily fight the urge to smoke, is that addiction is addiction and the struggle against one drug or habit is no less real than the other. Merriam Webster defines it as "a strong and harmful need to regularly have something (such as a drug) or do something (such as gamble)." Seems the heroine addict and nicotine addict aren't so different. Both are addicted.
Thursday, December 31, 2015
Fervent - A Book Review
Broken. Disheveled. Discouraged. Barely clinging to hope. Those are the words that encapsulate where I found myself as I picked up Priscilla Shirer’s book, Fervent. I felt broken by the looming threat of marital dissolution. Earlier in 2015, my husband and I separated and I found myself contemplating divorce as the year neared its cyclic close. I looked in the mirror and I was emotionally and spiritually disheveled from the harsh beating inflicted by gusty winds of uncertainty and icy storms of confusion. Discouragement over the future lurked along my horizon and I was barely clinging to hope. I sat alone in my small, one bedroom apartment and, through tears, opened the pages of one of the most life changing books I’ve read. Ever.
Immediately, I was incited against the dark forces that had held me captive for the last year. Things about myself that I had forgotten began to resurface in my memories. New words emerged. Called. Equipped. Armed. Empowered. Only moments into the pages, a shift began to occur in my thinking and suddenly, I felt a surge of strength. Of passion. Of purpose. Of anger. How dare the enemy aim to rob me of not only my identity in Christ, but also all of those things for which Christ died on my behalf. To hell with you, devil, became the new message ringing in my ears as I began to take captive every defeating and disheartening thought that had occupied my mind prior to opening the Spirit saturated pages of Shirer’s book. As the words took root in my heart, I began to see that this was no ordinary volume. It wasn’t written for the sweet child who prays innocently for a piece of candy after dinner. Neither was it addressed to the prideful Pharisee type who offers up prayers of gratitude that he’s not like others. It wasn’t even written to the one who already has a strong and faithful prayer life. No, it was written to the worn out, desperate woman who’s on the edge of the seat of despair. To the one who is about to give up. To her who is considering quitting. It was written to the defeated, the hopeless, and discouraged. It was written to me. So if that’s also you…if you’ve lost your fight, forgotten your position of victory, or feel your candle is about to burn out, allow me to recommend Priscilla Shirer’s Fervent. Reading it will leave you changed. Hungry for victory. Angry over the enemy’s lies. Fervent in prayer.