Thursday, July 30, 2015

Butterfly Soup

"If you cut open a chrysalis you won't find a caterpillar growing wings. You won't find a caterpillar butterfly hybrid. You'll find butterfly soup. The caterpillar doesn't just change, it dissolves, it becomes completely broken down that it might become an entirely new creation"

There are times when my heart is full and I find it hard to write. I cry, I stare at the sky, I fit into small spaces and try to fit the large scale meaning of life into my finite human mind. But there are moments so big, so profound, so beautiful that they change you on a cellular level, and this past week felt like that for me.
It felt like butterfly soup, like the caterpillar dissolving and changing on an intricate level, making way for new birth, for butterfly wings.
Maybe I'm not there yet, but I like to think I'm a little bit closer to knowing what it's like to have butterfly wings.

I'm not a dancer. I'd like to be, but somehow my lack of coordination and clumsiness has made that a near impossible feat. I'm not fearless, or especially brave. I'm more like the cowardly lion, always looking for courage. I love deeply and wildly, so I know what it's like to live life as a reflection of one's heart. What I didn't know was what it was like to move as a reflection of one's heart in response to one's self. When the music plays, when the false selves are stripped away, when all that exists is the sound of a heartbeat and a group of people digging deep so you can root down and up, I learned a little something about loving myself. Not about being fearless but letting each breath and movement become a hallelujah fulfilled in and through me, letting it become the answer to every prayer I prayed when I didn't think I would make it, holding myself in a place of honour without judgement or shame. My body isn't that of a dancer, but I think my heart is. I think my heart knew how to dance all along, if only I'd give it the freedom to do so. I think when the skeleton of my old self was dissolved, all that boneless-ness gave my heart space to expand out and pulsate through every fiber and cell of my body. I think in that moment, I finally grew my butterfly wings.

Butterflies have beautiful lives. I heard that once. "You're like a butterfly," He told me, "Butterflies can't see their wings, they have no idea how beautiful they are."

It feels strange, moving with these new wings. It takes time to adjust, to learn how to adapt to life with these wings on your back. The big change, they say, is from caterpillar to butterfly and while I agree I also think that learning how to fly when you've spent your whole life crawling on the ground is a pretty big adjustment in and of itself. Sometimes I flap them around, just because I can. These beautiful gifts, this freedom, sometimes its hard to believe that it's all mine.

I got to experience the most beautiful thing the other day. I got to experience a room full of people believing in my wings. They knew I could fly before I did. They knew the chrysalis would eventually break open when I doubted it. They held me in the becoming, and rejoiced with me in the flying. It is the most incredible feeling knowing there are so many people rooting for your freedom, affirming that you are beautiful and deserving, worthy and smart and kind and lovely. And I am so blessed by their hands, their words, their love. I am so grateful.

There is a song I used to listen to way back in junior high I'd all but forgotten about until my tribe spoke these words of faith and love over me. I related to it then, and I think a part of me always has been getting ready for these wings.
Butterfly girl, don't you know you're beautiful by now? Too long in hiding. Free to shine girl, time to spread your wings and show your colours to the world.

I'm a lot of things in life. I'm a daughter, a sister, a friend, a girlfriend. I used to say I was never good enough, that I didn't deserve good things, that I was broken. I'm learning to replace those words with new words like beautiful, trusting, loving and free. I used to not understand the magic of butterflies. But as one floated across my front yard today, I couldn't help but pause and admire the beauty and strength it took this tiny creature to become. I didn't understand butterflies until I became one. Now? I think they're the most beautiful things in the world.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

To Write Love On Her Arms

This story has been beautifully haunting me all day.
It has stirred up emotions in me which I try to write out, only to end up sitting in front of a blank piece of paper. It's been years and still I don't have the words to accurately reflect the world of mental illness, even though its a world I know personally.
I have a tendency to try and rush through uncomfortable places. So as I reflected on Renee's story, and sat with the emotions it brought up for me, I had a desire to try and wrap it all up neatly in words. There would be a beginning, a middle, an end, and everything would be complete when I finally put the words to paper.
I'm writing to you from the middle.
I've been saying for years now that I'm healing, that I'm a survivor, and I am. But I don't know if you ever truly stop the healing process.
I thought I had healed from my issues surrounding love and sexuality, only to find out when I fell in love that I didn't actually know as much as I thought I did.
I have moments where my issues around food are relatively non-existent, and then there are moments when every single bite of food is a victory.
Sometimes my head goes to dark places.
And I'm still learning to give myself grace in those moments. I'm in recovery, not recovered. I'm healing, not healed.
There's a saying in yoga that it's not about touching your toes, it's about what you learn on the way down. It's called a practice, not a perfection. And I think the same is through with addiction and recovery. It's not about being perfect, it's about growth. And if I know one thing for sure it's that I'm growing.
This week I've been doing a holy yoga video practice every day, and what I'm learning about myself continually blows my mind. Every day the practices (unintentionally) seem to follow a similar theme of keeping the heart open.
In today's practice, the challenge was to write down one small 't' truth you believe about yourself and your body.
I didn't realize until I'd already written it that I wrote my small 't' truth in all capital letters. My truth?
In so many different ways, it's the story I've come to believe about myself. Physically, emotionally, spiritually, in so many different ways I've come to believe that there is something fundamentally flawed about who I am, something that makes me broken.
The second part of the challenge was to move through the practice as if that thing wasn't true. And at the end of the practice, the final part of the challenge was to write the big 'T' truth on the other side of the paper, to counteract what you believe about yourself.
The paper I picked up was one I had used for my practice the day before.
I had been writing about keeping my heart open, and this line I wrote on this page seemed so fitting to become my big 'T' truth.
I ask who I will be without it all and the whispered reply comes "Free." I will be free.
And underneath that truth telling statement I had written John 8:36
"So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free."
It became the statement to counteract the story I believe about myself.
I'm trading brokenness for freedom.
I wish I could say I'd figured it out. I wish I could say that recovery and healing and trading brokenness for freedom is a one time thing and I did it and now I'm good.
It's a process, a practice. And I'm somewhere in the middle, not where I was but not yet where I will end up. And I must continually offer up grace for the practice, for this beautiful ugly middle piece that I'm still making peace with.

"Tell them to look up. Tell them to remember the stars. The stars are always there but we miss them in the dirt and clouds. We miss them in the storms. Tell them to remember hope. We have hope."

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

I wrote words yesterday that surprised even me. They weren't profoundly brilliant or beautiful, weren't dripping with poetic prose, but something about their honesty and truth shocked me, forcing me to put down my blue ink pen and pause over what I had just written.
This place, I wrote, is so full of Him.
A few days ago I heard a woman I know mention blogging as talking to a friend. She painted it as sitting across from a dear friend with a cup of coffee and catching up on life. She said when she wasn't blogging, she missed it.
My approach to blogging has always been slightly different, and has changed over the years. I did, and do, have a really hard time drawing the line between that talking-over-coffee-with-a-friend kind of blogging and the artistic endeavor of writing. I've written myself through many tough life situations, from death to finally coming clean about my story of past trauma, a faith crisis, family and friend struggles, bad relationships and (now) my beautiful relationship. But whenever I wrote, I always kept a slight distance. My personal writings are for that loud, cursing, messy kind of writing where I hash out every problem and thought. My blog is the place where I write about the storm after it has passed, when I feel as though I have some sort of offering or lesson to share. But I think I was mistaken when I thought I could have this blog and write about my life without ever really personally writing about my life.
I remember the first time I ever cried in church. February 10, 2013. I remember exactly what song was playing, who was singing, who I was sitting beside. It was exactly 5 months after receiving my Dysautonomia diagnosis, 5 months that had been plagued with exhaustion, grief, anger and brokenness.
This day started an epidemic, and now it is not uncommon to find me crying in church (or anywhere else for that matter).
This Sunday, my crying in church started with my crying on the yoga mat. Up until Friday, I was the kind of girl who didn't understand when people said they started crying during yoga. I would feel things, sure, but it was more so a way to give my mind some rest.
When I did this amazing practice led by Morgan Day Cecil her words spoke to my heart. I've always been hesitant to use the term "God spoke to me" because I am very much resistant about that stereotypical Christianity aspect to my relationship with God, but as I sat on my mat, I heard these words spoken over me and it was enough to make me begin to cry.
"The work you are doing is hard and holy"
I try so hard to resist the hard. I say things are good, because they are. My life is beautiful and full and I can never deserve all of these amazing blessings.
But it's also hard.
Moving houses means changes, and the shift from school life to summer working is a big one, and family always has a way of getting on every nerve and the boy is spending his summer at camp, meaning our time together is squished into small snippets of moments, and while I am so blessed to have a house, and the freedom to work like this this summer and my family and my amazing boyfriend, it doesn't mean its all butterflies and rose petals.
It is hard, and sometimes just acknowledging that and realizing that this too is a battle, and part of a bigger warfare in which I am a participant is enough.
And then, on top of realizing that this work of loving and creating is hard, I realized it is also so very holy.
It is hard, but it is so full of Him. He has promised the victory, that He will guard my heart, that love will triumph and that He will go before me. He cares about these seemingly small and unimportant pieces of my heart, and writes love over all of them.
Not comfort, not human love, not ease, but the kind of love that sweeps itself over all and covers and says "I have such big plans for you. I have such big love for you."
And this place I'm in, this in between summer, this work of loving, it's not an accident. It's not bad, or a mistake. It is holy work. It is enough.

"We're not here to fight tooth and nail, to white knuckle our way through our day. Life will come at us as we deal with things that cause so much pain and suffering. These things are real. Childhood abuse, miscarriages, divorce, disease, death, disappointments of all kinds, unfulfilled longings, mean people, debt, betrayal, addiction. But through it all, friends, you are someone with honor, with character, with integrity, with hope... You will be victorious. Love will win. All things will be restored and redeemed."
This place, this hard and holy place, is so full of Him.
Jesus in the waiting.
Jesus in the longing.
Jesus in the hoping.
Jesus in the loving.
Jesus in the grieving.
It's Jesus in my yoga.
Jesus in my relationship.
Jesus in my family.
Jesus in my writing.
Jesus in my conversations.
Jesus in my desire.
Jesus in my wilderness.