Posts Tagged ‘Self-doubt’

The Fragile Bond of Mother & Son

My son had a fall today and it was a sobering moment.

We had been goofing off when he fell backwards and hit his head. All I could do in that moment was to completely freeze because if I had reached for him as he was falling, the shift of my body would have made him fall harder.

I just waited and pictured the worst in my mind.

You know how they talk about people having their whole lives flash before their eyes? Well, in that moment when my son was free-falling, his whole life flashed before my eyes.

And, of course, what that meant was my entire career as a mother flashed before my eyes. And I thought about all the ways that I have let my child down.

portrait

I can never quite decide if this portrait my son drew of me is flattering or frightening.

I’m pretty sure he doesn’t see it that way. He got up and let me comfort him and we both vowed not to try that stunt again.

He was a bit stunned and his head was a little sore, but he was okay. Nothing was broken and he was still alive and able to speak, hear and all that.

The worst case that I imagined had not occurred, not even close.

He was okay.

But I sobbed, uncontrollably.

I sobbed over what might have happened–that I might have lost my child in a fall that I was partly responsible for.

I sobbed thinking about the time when he was a babe in arms and we both fell and I almost lost him then too.

I sobbed thinking about the times that I am cranky or cross with him even when he has done nothing to deserve my bad attitude.

And I sobbed thinking of all the times when I have put him off when he has wanted me to play with him because I just wanted to finish writing or reading whatever I was working on.

And I sobbed thinking about how hard it was for me to bond with him when he was first born because my postpartum depression put such a whammy on me.

And I sobbed worrying if my bond with my son will be healthy and strong as he gets older.

And I just wanted to hold him and pray and hope that we will be okay.

And now, he is waiting for me to finish writing this so we can spend some time together…I want to make it count, because I really do love that kid more than I can say.

Shrinking, Shirking and Shutting Down

20130726-181414.jpgSo this whole self-image and self-importance thing has been a theme here lately on the blog. What I thought was going to be a simple post about a little snippet of The Deaconess Litany has turned into a mini-series complete with lots of my own drama.

Dana Hanson, one of my fellow contributors at Life and Liberty had a sermon about “Self-Forgetfulness” that made me really wish I could get myself out of my own way! (Have I mentioned what an extraordinary tribe it is that I’ve found there?) But I’m not quite able to forget myself just yet.

I gotta keep writing about this stuff because it is exactly what God is doing in my life right now. And working through this is part of how I am living out my faith (which, of course is the tagline of this very site). Also, I think that awareness and mindfull release of unhealthy self-focus is better than pretending I’ve already got this figured out.

So far I’ve shared about my desire for fame and glory (that bit from The Deaconess Litany about thinking too highly of myself). But I haven’t said as much about the other side of me that wants to hide, to shrink away from what God has called me to do.

The Deaconess Litany requests “the mind of Christ” that we not “deprecate ourselves in unbelief, calling common what you have called clean.” The temptation to dismiss my own gifts has been all too great over the years.

I’ve found myself relegating my creativity to paper crafts that hardly anyone sees instead of putting words on paper to share as widely as possible as God put on my heart in high school.

I have kept many of my ideas quiet instead of using the speaking ability that God has given me.

Why? Because I didn’t think it mattered. I didn’t think I mattered. What good is it to write if nobody wants to read it? What good is it to speak if nobody wants to hear it?

In a lot of ways, I just shut down. I shirked my calling because I decided for the world that my voice was better off muted.

A funny thing happens when you don’t write or speak, nobody knows that you have something to say. And if you’re not saying it, they’re not listening because there’s nothing to hear!

It is only in daring to share that you can have any sense of whether what you want to say matters. So for my lost years when I was busy hiding and assuming nobody cares, I was getting zero actual feedback.

There may have been a time or two that I tried to pipe up but was given a gag order. But to universalize that negative feedback was to do myself and my gifts a disservice. And ultimately to not do what God was calling me to, was indeed an act of “unbelief.” I was “calling common” or unimportant what God had already blessed and set before me.

So then, if I am walking with God, submitting my will and my ego to Jesus, and praying in the Spirit that other people will hear the Gospel through me, maybe I will indeed soon forget myself after all!

Thanks be to God!

What about you? Are there things that you feel drawn by God to do, but you’re dragging your feet? What is holding you back?

Let’s Talk About Spiritual Shrinking As Well As Spiritual Growth

spiritshrink.jpgSpiritual growth is one thing, but what about when we feel more like we’re just plain shrinking? I recently was inspired to write on my blog about spiritual growth because I believe that growth in our relationship with God in Christ Jesus is truly important. I love seeing God transform people’s lives so they can be a greater blessing to the world around them!

That post took inspiration from some “grow animals” that my son had submerged in water and I cautioned that spiritual growth is not just a simple matter of “Just Add Water.” Then something happened that took this idea to a new low–once the “grow animals” were taken out of the water and set out to dry, they shrunk considerably (see photo).

I knew then that I had to write about “spiritual shrinking” because our growth in faith is not always as linear as we’d like. And ultimately, being willing to talk with each other about the shrinking can increase our growth potential in Christ.

What do I mean?

I’m playing with this idea because when those little animals dried out it reminded me of other terms we use to speak of such things in our spiritual lives:

  • wilderness times,
  • dry spells,
  • and feeling drained.

Spiritual growth is not magical and “spiritual shrinking” happens more than we discuss.

I think part of why we don’t discuss the shrinking is because even if we don’t expect growth over night we do expect that we at least keep growing. We impose on ourselves some kind of expectation that each day we have to become a better and better version of ourselves. So when something occurs in our spiritual lives that causes us to shrivel up, we also find ourselves feeling like we need to suck it up and not talk about it.

When life happens

Of course, we want to remain in Christ and keep trying to live more fully into who God has called us each to be! But sometimes, life happens. Circumstances come along that seem to suck the life out of us:

  • We lose loved ones, then well-intentioned friends add to our pain by telling us to just “get over it.”
  • We struggle with a physical or mental health condition that is flaring out of control.
  • We experience strife with a friend or colleague and the relationship seems irreparable.
  • We can’t gain ground on our goals no matter how hard we try.
  • We learn just enough about God and Jesus to find we have a whole new set of questions that lead us to a crisis of faith.

These and many other predicaments can leave us feeling parched and shrunken in faith and life.

While we are drying out

I think it is important to name the reality of “spiritual shrinking” because we all have times in which growth does not appear to be happening. At some point we all have challenges in our spiritual lives. We don’t need to let these waning times prevent us from talking about our faith.

In fact, finding safe people with whom to discuss our spiritual wilderness can provide:

  • their presence in the midst of the struggle.
  • a sounding board to allow us to find meaning about the difficulty.
  • comfort rather than critique.
  • hope that God cares in both right-now and forever ways.
  • prayer with &/or for us.
  • and more.

Exactly how to find safe people like that is a little harder to define. Sometimes testing a person’s reaction with a small piece of your story can give an indication of their trustworthiness. Many times formal Christian support groups form around shared problem areas.

Most of all…

One thing I know most of all is that I want to be the kind of person, the kind of Christian, with whom other believers can share their struggles. I don’t ever want people to think they have to put on a pretense with me. I don’t expect my friends to be spiritual giants. I want them to be real with me and I want to be real with them. If I can be that kind of friend, then that itself is huge.

Finding My Voice, or Getting Laryngitis?

laryngitisI have a confession to make: blogging is way harder than I expected it to be. A lot of great writing advice suggests blogging is a good way to find your voice. I want to find my voice, but keep coming up with laryngitis.

I wouldn’t call it writer’s block, it’s not that I can’t think of anything to write. I have plenty to write about, that’s part of why I started this thing. There’s a lot more tumbling around in my brain than is turning up onscreen.

It’s not a time factor either. My son is old enough to entertain himself for a while if I need to write. My husband is very supportive of me writing. I am aware of the time-killers in my life, now more than ever, and set them aside at will so I can write.

It’s not that I can’t write. There’s always room for improvement, but I I think I do alright with the basic mechanics of writing. Constructing a sentence or forming a paragraph are not my top worries when it comes to blogging.

Why Laryngitis Explains it Best

My trouble with blogging is much like suffering from a case of laryngitis when my favorite hymn is played in church. My heart swells with all the emotion that song evokes for me, but I can’t sing because I’ve lost my voice.

Likewise with blogging, when I actually sit down to write, I just can’t get the words out. Even when I have something really meaningful on my heart to write about, I get bogged down when I try to put it into a blog post.

I think the public nature of the blog intimidates me a little. I mean, people are reading what I put out here. It may or may not be all that many people just now. Still, thinking that others can access what I write at the click of an URL sometimes messes with my head.

Values competing in my thoughts sometimes distort what I want to say. For instance, I often try to “put things in the positive,” emphasizing what is possible or permitted rather than what is discouraged or denied. Yet, sometimes the clearest way to state something is to use a “negative” message. (“Don’t play in the street” is much more to-the-point than offering, “You can play in the lawn or on the driveway.”) The inner debate about how to approach a subject stifles my ability to just write.

Uncertainty about who my audience is challenges me on decisions about what to write or how to frame a post. Maybe if I was more specific about who I want my target audience to be, it would be easier to decide. Even when I resolve to answer that question, I have different ideas about who I hope to reach.

The Cure and Certain Hope

I suppose the cure for this bloggy laryngitis is similar to the cure for ordinary laryngitis: communicate the best I can right now and don’t overstress what voice I have. Like the patience required to wait out true laryngitis, I need to be patient with this phase of writing. How long will it take me to truly find my voice? I can’t say. But laryngitis always passes and I know this will too.

What if I Get it Wrong?

I hate trivia games. Yes, “hate” is a strong word and should be reserved for really serious things.

This is serious. Trivia is very serious. Furthermore, I am bad, seriously bad at trivia. Believe me when I say “hate” is not a strong enough word for how I feel about trivia.

I grew up always one giant leap behind a brother who is two years older than I am.

I love games and I always tried to get him to play with me. Sometimes he did willingly, but other times I had to beg, “Please just one game and I’ll let you pick the game, big brother.” Those were usually the times I got stuck playing a trivia game.

You see, my brother loves trivia and has always been really good at it. When we were kids he won every time and I always left the table feeling so stupid.

We even tried to find ways to make it more fair, like giving him harder questions. He still won, and I felt even more stupid.

It got to the point for me that I wouldn’t even give answers to questions I knew because I felt so humiliated. There were times when I was pretty sure I was right, but I clammed up because I didn’t want to get it wrong.

20130324-154229.jpgA glimmer of hope came for me in a game called Cranium. It has traditional trivia questions as well as singing, acting, drawing, sculpting, and word puzzles. I’m most likely to shine in the singing, acting, and word puzzles. The variety of categories means I can hold my own against trivia buffs.

Playing that game helped me see that even if I am not trivia smart, I am smart!

Do you know what else? The big brother that ran circles around me in trivia games admires my smarts and strengths.

It has been a slow process for me to go from recognizing my intelligence to having the guts to share what I know. That little part of me that was afraid to get it wrong, still tries to hold me back.

That’s part of why this blog is so important to me. I’m not letting that fear of getting it wrong hold me back from this.

The more important question for me has become, what if I am right?

I’m not saying I am an authority on everything I write. Truly, sometimes I may have more questions than answers. Still, what if me just putting it out there can help other people find answers?

What if my sharing can mean something to someone else? What if what I write touches someone’s life?

What if holding all my thoughts in is the wrongest thing ever? Then, I really don’t want to be wrong!

Do you have a love or hate relationship with trivia? What kind of smarts do you have?