Friday, November 27, 2015

The Redeemed

In recent months, I've become conscious and deeply appreciative of my life's small victories.  I'm no longer concerned with widespread and total deliverance, though I still seek that as an ultimate goal. While I struggle against the tide of addiction to nicotine, for instance, I'm learning to relish in the seemingly insignificant decision to leave my cigarettes behind when I go somewhere. Or, when I know I've smoked less today than I did yesterday, I recognize that as a baby step towards quitting completely.  Today, I went to exercise instead of sitting on my patio with a good book and smoke. Although I enjoyed one upon my return, I'm cognizant of the very decision to initially delay it and I celebrate that. I've spent ample time beating myself up for having started again after quitting five years ago, but I'm discovering that this internal berating serves me not. It leaves me feeling defeated, condemned, guilty, and lacking in motivation to keep trying at all.  In response to such feelings, I've found that it's easy to settle into the idea that our circumstances are hopeless, but what this does more than anything else is let us off the hook.  We don't really want to change our behavior, and we haven't yet entered the stage of ambivalence, so we sink into a despondency that creates a disengagement to the battle. Why try? I'll never quit anyway. It's too hard.  I'm not strong enough. Sound familiar?  I've spoken these self-defeating words countless times in weeks passed as I've stood on the front lines of the war against my own temptations and addictions.  Interestingly, in my work, I often find myself guiding clients out of this dark pit and onto paths of self acceptance, onward movement, and ultimately positive inner growth.  Many of their experiences and struggles mirror my own, yet I find that the same compassion and generosity with which I counsel them, I frequently withhold from myself.  I'm working on that, and as I do, I'm discovering that our stories of heartache and pain and bad decisions are not stories of those things at all.  They are stories of redemption and we are the redeemed. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

All of Me

In the last few months, I've undergone a whirlwind of transformation.  Back in August, I moved out of my house.  Out of my marriage.  Out of the only life I've known for the last 10 years.  Separated from my husband by mutual lies and deception, brokenness and despair, I embarked on a journey marked with anguishing heartbreak, hard hearted rebellion, humble submission, and, ultimately, beautiful restoration.  My first step through this unknown and unfamiliar door, I began searching for a self who I didn't even know was there.  In the world of the human psyche, we all have what is known as a "lost self," a "false self," and a "disowned self," each one formed during the earliest stages of our existence.  Dr. Harville Hendrix defines the lost self as "those parts of your being that you had to repress because of the demands of society," the false self as "the facade that you erected in order to fill the void created by this repression and by a lack of adequate nurturing," and the disowned self as "the negative parts of your false self that met with disapproval and were therefore denied."  What I have since discovered in unearthing each aspect that comprises my whole self is the darkness of my own heart, my overwhelming propensity for sin, and the amazing grace of a loving Creator who knows about it all.   He truly loves me.  All of me.