Tuesday, August 12, 2014

I'm back?

"Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge."
-psalm 62:8
vulnerable, adj.
  • easily hurt or harmed physically, mentally, or emotionally
  • open to attack or damage

(And this is a virtue?? Lord? 'Splain.)

I know I must choose to be open. It's a choice. Open as in honest, but also open as in receptive. Open as in not closed like a fist. Open as in bare, as in unprotected.

No wonder the church has embraced this word "vulnerable" when it extols the virtue of honesty. I feel vulnerable when I am honest about the most fragile parts of myself. It's a scary nakedness, but it's a nakedness we're called to. 

"This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin."
-1 John 1:5-7
Walking in the light = living honestly. Open.


It's scary, but worth it, the word says. There's freedom in the light, and fellowship. Community, communion, all those wonderful "together" words. That wonderful "one another" that we all crave. Walking in the light is also consistent with my identity, if I belong to Christ. Because He is in the light. If He's out there and I'm hiding in the dark, how can He and I walk together? We can't. 

Sometimes, though, I have to preach that to myself even though it feels like cardboard on my tongue. It sticks and tastes like nothing. Sometimes when I say that 1 John stuff to myself, I'm saying it purely in faith. It feels flat and not real. What feels real is my absolute terror. Sometimes the scary looms much, much larger, and all I can think about is how much I want something to hide behind. Sometimes it seems like pure lunacy, this "vulnerable." Seems so raw and painful, and who the hell wants to feel that exposed? Exposed to all the stuff Merriam-Webster so helpfully put in their definition of this "vulnerable": harm, attack, damage. Yeah, no thanks. Been there, done that, and it hurts, and no thanks.

So that Psalm verse popped into my Facebook newsfeed this morning, and I latched on as if for dear life. God is my refuge. My hiding place, says Psalm 32:7. That is good news when I feel such a need to hide someplace safe. It makes me think of who God really is. Is God the kind of god who would save me only to throw me to lions so I could be ripped apart? Sometimes this "vulnerable" feels like that. Like I could be ripped apart. Sometimes life feels like being ripped apart. 

But somehow the God who beckons me to walk with Him in the light is the same God who says He is my hiding place. I can wrap myself up in Him and be protected even as I peel more layers off of myself and take brave steps into the blinding light. Both things. True at the same time. How does he both peel off the painful bandage and BE a bandage for me? Cut into me like an expert surgeon, yet heal and protect me from damage? Imperfect metaphors (sorry, people, it's all I got today). 

Another way to put it is that there's a difference between being hurt and being harmed (this isn't my idea; I heard it in a sermon and have never forgotten it, it was so stunningly clarifying). There are plenty of things that both hurt us and harm us. The front-page headlines this week are pointing to wicked people who are causing plenty of both. But hurt and harm aren't the same thing. There are things that harm (cause damage) but may not hurt (feel painful). Many addictions are plenty harmful but actually feel good in the short term. The flip side is also true. Maybe something can feel painful and yet be good for me. Surgery. Exercise (if you're a couch potato like me). 

I think the sting of the "vulnerable" falls here. Again, typing this feels kind of like cardboard, but in faith I need to camp out here. The sting is real, the pain is real (so real, sometimes). But there is good on the other side. There has to be, otherwise God is a sadist, and He and I have been through enough together that I know that's not true. He's not out to harm me. He doesn't delight in causing me pain. He delights in bringing healing. He delights in being a hiding place (and who needs a hiding place if they're settling for the fake safety of the dark?). He delights in making himself known.

There's so much more I could write (like C.S. Lewis's wonderful analogy in Mere Christianity about how we are tin soldiers being slowly, painfully, turned to flesh, and how the part of us that feels the pain is the part that is dying and needs to die so we can truly live), but for a first blog post back, I think this is quite enough.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

It's almost spring!

Of course, here in Ohio it barely feels like it has been winter, but that's how I like it. Most years, it feels like we're waiting and waiting at the door, looking for Spring's car (in our pajamas, freezing our butts off while someone behind us is calling "Close the door! You're letting out all the heat!"). This year, it feels more like Spring never really left town, so we (or I, anyway) never got the chance to really miss her with that aching, familiar "Pleeeeeeeeeease come back!" feeling that gnaws at our guts by the end of most Ohio winters. So when she finally gets here, it'll be more like she finds us playing in the yard with our backs turned, happy to be surprised that she's here to stay this time.

Aaaaaand of course, our February vacation to Arizona could have contributed to my weather optimism. Nothing quite kills the winter blues like walking around Phoenix in flip-flops and sunglasses and enjoying a beer on a patio. I have a friend at work who goes to Florida every January. When she told me that, I thought "How brilliant is THAT?! How come a winter vacation never occurred to me?" This year, we finally did it. And it was lovely.

In other news, I'm taking a class at church that is all about prayer. It has been very good, and much more challenging than I expected. In a way, praying has never felt more difficult than now, when I am focused on trying to learn to do it more often and more effectively. I am trying to push through the difficulty, and this quote (from the book Prayer by O. Hallesby) is an encouragement in that:

"I do not think that we should look upon these painful experiences too pessimistically. Surely they are more profitable than we think at the time we are going through the anguish connected with them...But if they are to be of any benefit to us, we must, in the first place, be truthful and not begin to practice deception, that is, excuse and defend our slovenly prayer life. We must admit our weakness in prayer, and admit that we are faced with a problem that cannot be solved by our own efforts."

Speaking of our own efforts...I'm realizing that I am very much in love with my own efforts. I like to think that any difficulty can be solved by my applying effort to it. I am very good at trying hard, and I like the feeling that I can do something well when I do try hard. Spiritually speaking, this type of approach is suicide. The heart of the gospel* is that my self-efforts are futile next to what God requires of me. The gospel says that I have tried (we all have tried) and failed. So Christ did what I could not do, and now the only effort of mine that is fruitful is the effort I put toward trusting that Jesus is enough. So I must press on, but not in working for God or somehow proving that I am good enough, but I have to press on in faith. Something cool that our class teacher said was that when we realize how weak we are (when prayer feels so difficult), instead of getting bummed out and giving up, we can take our weakness and combine it with faith. Bring it to God, and tell him we are weak. That is prayer, and God says it bears fruit.

"Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing." - Jesus (John 15:5)

So I'm excited about this class.

*The link was not buried there by Internet spammers. It's a 5-minute lyrical masterpiece that describes the gospel very well. Well worth your 5 minutes.

Monday, November 7, 2011

random things I have been learning (or at least thinking about)

  • Pretending to know something you don't know is silly. I'd like to resolve not to do this anymore, even if I feel stupid.
  • What's the point in yelling? Unless you need to have your voice heard across a large distance, there's usually no good reason to use a lot of volume to communicate something you could also communicate with just words.
  • Babies are cute :) Since I've passed the 30 mark, they seem only to be getting cuter.
  • Every year I dread Ohio winters a little more.
  • Sometimes (often) I need people to point things out to me that I cannot see on my own.
  • I used to think only kids could be bullies. I'm realizing that adults can be bullies, too.
  • Even though I wish I had the answer to everything, I don't. (And that's okay.)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

memo to the world

You know what, world? I don't need you to like me.
I almost said "I don't care what you think of me," but that's not entirely true. I do care, but I wish I didn't. And what I really mean is "It doesn't matter what you think of me." I do care, but I shouldn't. Because it doesn't matter. 
I don't mean that what you think doesn't matter. Of course it matters. Because you matter! Your thoughts,  your words, the things you say and do--they all matter. But what you think of me--whether you like me, don't like me, think I'm stupid, think I'm a dork--those things don't change who I am. And that's what I wanted to say, because it's been weighing me down for awhile.
So world, no offense here, but I don't need you to like me. After thirty years of life, I think I'm maybe starting to realize something: not everyone is going to like me. You might like me, you might not. I've spent a good part of these thirty years under the assumption that, if you don't like me, I must have done something wrong. Something I need to fix or make up for. So I try to win you over; prove to you that I am likeable, if only you'd take the time to really get to know me.
Oh world, I am embarrassed to admit this now, but this has been such a giant a waste of time! I've spent so much energy trying to prove something to you--that I am valuable. But you know what? In doing this, I've been saying something kind of profound: "If you don't like me, I'm not valuable." Wow! Where'd that come from? Again, no offense, but how do you get to determine whether or not I'm valuable? Who gave you that kind of power?
Well, I guess I did.
So, I'm sorry about this, but I'm taking that back. That's not something that's up to you to determine--whether or not I'm valuable. But you know what? The opposite is also true (and this is the good news!)--your value isn't determined by me or by anyone else, either. Isn't that fabulous news?
So anyway, I feel better getting that off my chest. And you know what the ironic thing here is, world? Now that I don't need you to like me, I think we can actually get along much better. Because we can just be free to be ourselves without having all these issues making things all weird and needy.
So thanks for listening, and I hope you have a fabulous day :)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


I have lots on my mind lately, but nothing I've been eager to barf out onto the blog-o-sphere, so here will be a popcorn-ish update:
--Weight Watchers: Still going well, but last week was kind of a downer. I gained a little, even though I had had a very "by the book" week. So that was discouraging, and this week I am struggling with my motivation. But I'm still committed to writing everything down and taking it a day at a time, so we'll see how this Saturday goes.
--I have been keeping up with this blog since I heard about Colleen and Brett's loss. It has me very, very, very sad. I knew Brett in college (and knew Colleen a little), and their story is just heartwrenching. Colleen has a very soft and honest way of communicating what this has been like for them, and I think that has made their story hit home closer than I'd expected it to. Prayers for them are appreciated.
--I feel like a melancholy cloud has been hovering over me since the weekend, and I don't like it. I don't really want to wallow in it publicly (so I'll keep this post short), but it is what it is. Some of it is related to circumstances, some of it...oh, who knows. Blah blah frickin blah. The weather has been cooler, which you'd think would be a relief after the blazing hot summer we've had. But for some reason, I think it's making me think of fall and winter's inevitable arrival, and I keep thinking "It's halfway through August! It's too soon for this!" So yes, it's in the 70s and sunny and beautiful and I should NOT be complaining, but I think this sudden need for a jacket after dark is adding to my mopiness.
Okay, enough gloomy gus. See, this is probably why I don't blog more!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Again, with the Weight Watchers? What do you think this is, a diet blog?

(In my head I said that subject line like a Jewish grandmother. Not sure why.)

No, this will not become a diet blog. At least, I hope not.

Anyway, two weeks in and I am down 1.8 lbs. I was surprised and happy to find that out, considering last weekend was Craig's family reunion (aka 2-day foodfest), Monday we went out for nachos and wings for dinner, Wednesday we had Raising Canes, Thursday I got Graeter's, and...well, let's just say I was happy to see the big number go down. And two of my pairs of go-to pants now want to fall off when I walk (seems ridiculous after losing such a small amount of weight, but once again, I will just be happy and not question it).

Thursday, July 7, 2011

the blog about weight loss

So, I just read something that says you should use an image or video every time you blog. I am apparently behind the times with this stuff.

It is time--I am finally back on the Weight Watchers wagon. I began Weight Watchers about 4 1/2 years ago, but I haven't really been hard core for 3 years or so. My first attempt was a success—I reached my goal and became a lifetime member, but when I changed jobs in 2008, I slowly began to lose my weight-management mojo. My previous workplace participated in the “Weight Watchers at work” program (super convenient, and you got a built-in team of moral support with fellow coworkers), and it was great. The leader was fantastic, I knew and worked with many of the people in the class, and it really helped me get excited and stay motivated to live healthier.

The at-work program at the new job, however…well, let’s just say that leader was a little less fantastic, and the group enthusiasm was…well, it sucked. (So much, in fact, that the class ceased to exist shortly after that because they could not recruit enough members to keep it going. Pitiful when you’re talking about 20 people in a place where over 1500 people work, but I digress). So anyway, I was less than pumped up by the lackluster vibe in that class, and while I remained half-assedly committed for the next year or so, that was the beginning of a slow downhill slide in my weight management/healthy living story. I’ve had a few short “that’s it, I’m going back” spurts here and there in the past couple years, but nothing like the enthusiasm I had at the beginning, and in the meantime I’ve gained 10-15 lbs (not terrible for a 3-year span and not insurmountable, but it’s a number that I don’t want to get any bigger. Kind of like my ass).

Then a couple months ago, a friend and I were talking about dieting, and she was saying she wanted to lose some weight, and I mentioned that I had done Weight Watchers (at some point I began talking about it in the past tense, apparently) and that I really liked the program and had success with it. A few weeks ago, she told me that she had started the program and was going to a meeting right down the street from where I live. Score! If I’ve learned anything during this process, it’s that staying on track is much much much easier when you have the moral support of a friend. Doing it “on your own” (without a buddy and without going to meetings) is 100x harder. Excited for her and wanting to support her (and seeing an opportunity to help myself), I told her I’d come with her.

So, that’s about it. I’m back, and I’m adjusting to the new “PointsPlus®” system (if you’ve ever done Weight Watchers but haven’t been back for awhile, the new system is totally different. Overwhelming at first, but now that I’m adjusting to it, I think I like it better).

I never meant for this to be a plug for Weight Watchers (I had just been thinking about how it took me 20 minutes to make a sandwich [pulling out the calculator with every ingredient, re-evaluating my condiment options when I realized the Miracle Whip was expired, getting WAY too excited when I realized the lunch meat was only 1 point per serving instead of 2—you know, super dorky stuff like that] and thought I’d vent about the highs and lows of trying to do this again). But since it sort of has turned into one, I’ll just add that I really am a fan of this program. It is the only “diet” program I’ve ever done, but I’ve heard enough stories about the other ones out there to be confident that Weight Watchers is the real deal. It’s affordable, you don’t have to buy a bunch of extra crap (special bars, meals, or food scales), you basically can still have all your favorite things (in moderation), and it really teaches you how to make healthy eating (and living) a lifestyle change, and not just a phase you suffer through to shed some pounds before going back to enjoying your life again. It’s the most realistic weight loss program I’ve heard of (as far as it fitting into “real life” and giving you realistic expectations of yourself) Another thing I love is that it supports you for the long haul. Since I became a lifetime member, meetings and materials have been completely free (as long as I'm within 2 lbs of my goal. But even now when I'm above my goal, I only have to pay once a month, rather than once a week, until I get back down), so I’m able to get the support I need to stick with it long-term (not that I’ve always taken advantage of that, but it’s nice to know that it’s there when I’ve decided that I’m ready again).

Anyway. Sorry if you’re totally bored by all this stuff, but it does get me excited. I figure if you’re still reading by now (or if you didn't turn back when you read the title of this post), you’re probably somewhere on this journey too—I know the only time I actually care about reading other people’s weight loss stories is when I’m in that mindset myself. If that's the case, feel free to comment and share your own happy or woeful stories :)