A Slow Miracle

“Something changed. I’m not sure when, exactly,” I told Brendan between pauses in our meal. “I guess, the fall—it doesn’t ache in the same way. I think I’ve healed even more than I thought.”

He paused, waiting for me to say more.

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A few weeks ago, I noticed my typical response to the seasons changing felt different; lighter. Far, far less heavy than many other years.

Awhile back, I wrote a blog post I still love. It’s about fall, and the inherent bittersweetness of the season. I discuss a profound sense of grief in the midst of beauty and the inability to put my finger on the exact why; and that this is how it is for many of us. We know something, but we don’t know why. It’s less of a solid memory and more of a wave of sensations that causes us to question why a time that “should” be hopeful or good doesn’t feel that way.

 Instead, it feels more like goodbye.  

For me, the months of October and November have often beckoned something akin to impending aloneness. As though, whatever parts of my life felt solid were about to be thrown into a blender. No longer would firm ground lie beneath my feet—instead would be the murky quicksand of all that is not steady.

 As I’ve reflected on the leaves changing where I am and feeling the temperature drop; I found many of the intense emotions connected to this season have dissipated. It’s not to say autumn doesn’t hold bittersweet memories for me. It does. But the other day as I gave myself permission to search for the grief that has accompanied much of my life—I found she had saw fit to settle into something less acute, and painful.

It could even be called peaceful.

*

Often in my work as a therapist and even just interacting with folks around mental health, I hear how difficult the transitioning of seasons can be. This makes complete sense, as our body is constantly assessing the information around us and attempting to figure out how to keep us safe. Then, if something reminds us of a time that felt threatening or isolating or shaming, it follows that any unprocessed emotion or disturbance connected to that time will show itself. It’s important to know, this is completely normal. Of course the time of year we experienced difficulty will hold reminders for us. It’s okay to wrestle with all that is required to be a human.

Yet, I suppose I write today because even for someone who does this work, observing a change in my own story still feels like a miracle. Not the quick ones that so many of us long for, but as Sarah Bessey calls them—“a process miracle.” Or as I’ve been calling it lately, a slow miracle.

 And now I see I needed the blog post from a few years ago. I felt grief for so long. It wasn’t until I let her sit at the table and listened to what she needed that I moved toward deeper healing.

 May it be so, for each of us.

A Love Letter to Fear

Often, I encourage folks to embrace or befriend their “shadow.” What I mean when I say this, is compassionately listening to the parts of us we may repress or don’t want to acknowledge. When we do this, we actually have the opportunity to work with these parts of ourselves in a different way. Ideally, instead of these repressed emotions or experiences controlling us—we have the ability to recognize why they mattered in the first place, and how to interact with them in a healthier way. And this is why I decided to write a love letter to fear:


I don’t quite know where to start, fear—we’ve been through a lot. It seems like you’ve been getting a bad wrap lately and I know you’re often misunderstood.

So I suppose I’ll start here: thank you.

Photo via Unsplash, Thomas Verbruggen

Photo via Unsplash, Thomas Verbruggen

Thank you for the ways you’ve protected me. For all the times you alerted me that something was off; that it wasn’t quite right. Thank you for activating my nervous system, and putting me on high alert so you could protect me in all of those scary situations.

 Thank you for racing my heart when you wanted me to notice that person who meant harm to me.

 Thank you for helping me to move my body out of the way when the car almost hit me.

 Thank you for reminding me I am alive, with the tingling in my spine, when I wondered if maybe I had already died.

Thank you for the hyper vigilance you incited when I lived in a home that kept me constantly wondering if I was safe—thank you. You have truly done all you could to keep me alive and here.

 *

Fear, I suppose one of the reasons I’m writing to you now is to also tell you—you may do your job too well sometimes.

 You’ve kept me so adept at staying safe that sometimes now, when all is well—I cannot tell if I need you or not. You keep me too on guard, and sometimes I forget to breathe for wondering if you are speaking.

 So fear, as much as I’m grateful for you and can’t believe how much you’ve helped me—I think it’s time we re-negotiate our relationship.

 Please don’t misunderstand me, I certainly still need you, fear. But when I am at the park with my kiddos, my feet firmly planted in the cushy grass, can we call a truce on imagining all the ways my little people will fall? I know you only want safety, but I need to think clearly, so maybe we could try?

 And when I stop to notice the sunset, could you, for a moment—let my grip loosen as I watch for beauty? Could you let me help you, when I know for certain we are safe?

Could we work together to do this differently now?

I know, I know, all the years you had to work in overdrive. I know you only meant to help.

And you did; I’m still here—and I’m thankful.

***Need more resources on how to work with fear instead of it working you? Sign up for my email list and receive a video that guides you through learning a few emotional regulation techniques. Sign up here.***

Easter Changes Everything {Spoken Word Poem}

Happy Easter! I had the privilege of writing & performing a spoken word poem with my friends over at Westwood Church this morning. I hope it blesses you and helps you to remember how loved we all are (the video is at the bottom).

With deep hope,

Aundi


You whispered in the final minutes before death came, I’m sure—

And what must you have said?

You’re worth it, Beloveds.

Of course, this is my interpretation—but how could you have not?

 

I imagine you thinking about each of the faces you would rescue;

Every heart that is broken,

Every body that is disconnected from goodness,

Every trauma still being relived—

You came to bring it back to rights.

 

Jesus, as you knew what you faced on that cross,

I’m certain you felt fear—of course you did.  

You were fully God and man;

You asked the father to take this cup from you in that garden.

And yet, you chose the harder way even then.

 

Jesus, you were no stranger to a body that is limited—

One who experienced all that comes with humanity.

But I’m certain you thought of the wholeness your pain would bring us.

You remembered why we needed you.

 

And when you considered how vulnerable, how fragile we all are,

I can’t help but hear you say: “You are dust, my loves—but you’re valuable dust.”

And from this dust, you bring back life again and again and again.

 

Then the morning came,

And you threw off death like the King you are.

You broke the chains that bind us, so that even while we are still being made new

You reminded us the final battle is done.

 

Death was trampled SO that we may truly, completely, fully, and unabashedly live.

And while we are still being made new,

You have promised that you never,

No, never, leave us.

 

We needed to know—and still do—

There will be a time that you will set it all to rest.

Jesus, you are the truest, best,

Surest Savior we could ever have.


Easter—Changes Everything.

3 Steps for Handling Unwanted Conversations {Guest Post for Propel Sophia}

Hey there! This post originally came out several months ago, but I decided it was about time to update the old blog. I hope it’s helpful as you navigate tricky boundary issues:


Mary walked into my counseling office breathless. She sat down quickly, and with tears in her eyes, began apologizing for nothing and everything, in particular.

“I just feel so stretched. I don’t even know where I end and the next person begins,” she told me.

Mary and her husband had gone through several years of infertility. As the years went by—she faced more and more questions about children.


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Mary began seeing me, partly for support through infertility, but also because she didn’t know how to deal with all the well-meaning questions that often caused more pain then the asker realized.

Over the next few weeks, we examined Mary’s tendency to say ‘yes,’ even when she meant ‘no,’ and how that was playing out in dealing with unwelcome questions.

“Growing up, we would never turn anyone down—for anything. Honestly, it wasn’t really allowed,” she shared. “Over time I began to assume that always giving people what they want was part of what it meant to be a faithful Christian. Then, when we went through infertility and subsequent miscarriages, I figured if someone asked me a question, I had to tell them...

Didn’t I?

But then, some people gave me awful advice, and I found myself even more guilty and ashamed for not taking their advice. I feel trapped in those situations, as though I don’t have a choice.

Keep reading at Propel Sophia by clicking here.