I really like sitting down at the computer to share my heart.
Well, pieces of my heart.
And in this post, you’ll get the part of me that is hyper focused on this season of pruning and feeling of being in the wilderness. Quite simply, I’m struggling with what it is exactly that I’m supposed to be doing.
In doing a deeper study of Luke 15:1-11, I’ve come to better understand the concept of “remaining in Him” as being very active. Not the answer I was expecting, but stick with me – it’s so good.
I took two weeks to read more deeply into the words of Jesus in this section of the New Testament. There was learning and I was challenged, so I thought it would be helpful to share in this space.
REMAINING IS DOING
Remain is an action word; it’s a verb.
Here are a few definitions from my friend Merriam-Webster:
to stay in the same place or with the same person or group
to continue unchanged
synonyms: abide, bide, continue, endure, hold on, hold up, keep up, last, persist, run on
It was in the synonyms that I realized I have been looking at “remaining in Jesus” all wrong. I’d placed my understanding on His message and was missing the significance. Remaining in The Vine is so important to Him (and for us) that the word is repeated ELEVEN TIMES in eleven verses.
Y’all, that’s a big flashing sign of direction and hope.
MY REMAINING VS. TRULY REMAINING
I have some recurring challenges that I’ll be facing in the coming weeks and though I’m faithful that God is in control, I’m stuck in the mindset that I should be doing more than simply remaining.
I should be clear on my business vision for 2019 and have it written down, ready to present and share. I should be available to the friends I still have and am doing life with and be over the friendships I’ve ruptured or that have ended (through some fault of my own). And that I ought to be in a better space with fill in the blank – there are many things. All of the expectations that keep you stuck and not really remaining.
Rather than resting and remaining in the True Vine (Jesus, John 15:1) I still think it’s about me performing, striving, producing, serving, fixing, repairing, getting it all right and cleaned up. When instead, it’s about intentionally deciding to ask for God’s glory to shine brightly in my circumstances, in my health, my marriage, my mindset and in my soul.
This means embracing the slower pace of this season as good for me. Seeing what feels like invisibility and being looked/passed over as a reprieve, as grace; as a gift. It means shifting my point of view from what’s wrong or difficult, to what’s redeemed and good. Truly good.
Truly remaining is continuing to do good and grow in hearing His voice, praying for things out of my control (hello, everything!) and not comparing myself and my life to anyone else’s. It means living freely in my non-busy life and more margin than ever, believing that I can and will still have a bold impact. It means resting when I need to rest, saying “no” when I need to – without apology or explanation – and “yes” to the things that scare me a little, but will put a little hair on my (proverbial) chest.
REMAINING IS SOUL TENDING
You may be wondering where all of the stuck comes from. For me, it’s a lot of things.
I’ve been stuck on what comes next. Stuck in what’s “wrong” with me or in my life. Stuck in my past. Just stuck.
On November 8th, 2004 we experienced a life altering moment.
November 8, 2004On this day in 2004 I got a call from Major Terry Race that three of these Marines were killed while serving in Iraq; the fourth would die a few days later. And that my husband (top, far right) was in critical condition but still alive in a small hospital in Iraq.He had survived an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) that was detonated under the humvee that he was driving.He lived another 9 months through many attempted surgeries and efforts to bring him back to us, but the damage to his brain was so bad that he would never speak again. I made the very difficult decision to let him go, to remove life support.At times I envied the families of the Marines who died instantaneously. They would not receive what felt like false hope. In talking to one of the surviving family members, I learned that they experienced envy that we had the additional time because we got to say ‘goodbye’.It’s fascinating really.How we could all be faced with horrific situations and wish for someone else’s horrible. But, it’s one of the (many) bad things that I did; one of the many expectations that I carried.I wasn’t the mother I should have been.I wasn’t the friend others expected or needed me to be.I wasn’t the daughter, daughter-in-law, sister, sister-in-law, niece, co-worker, fellow griever, fill-in-the-blank and for years I’ve carried so much guilt and shame about it.Though it was the best I could do in an almost impossible situation, it never seemed like it was good enough. It’s over a decade later and I’m still learning to let this go; still walking toward healing.It comes back to this day – the beginning of the end of that season in our lives. Every year, a reminder of the ones that are no longer with us and whether our lives are honoring their sacrifice or not.My heart is with the families of the other Marines in this photo. I didn’t know these men personally but I feel I know them and carry them and their families’ hurt around in deep within my soul.C.R.O.W.S.Ryan CantafioBranden RameyShane O’DonnellBobby WarnsChad SimonPlease. Say their names aloud today. Remember with those of us who are grieving a bit more intensely today. You don’t have to have walked through it to empathize with those who have.
It’s been 14 years, but somehow, I find myself struggling with being stuck.
Stuck between sharing because well, it’s a part of my story and not sharing because our lives are so much more than what happened on this day all of those years ago. I am not diminishing their service, sacrifice or the lives they lived, but I am bothered by how engaged folks are with the struggle, the pain and the wounding rather than the healing, growth and change. I don’t know how to navigate this, but don’t want to quit trying. Or quit sharing…
This is where I am. And what I’m walking through, wondering about and praying for.
How do I share that the past impacts the present without being stuck in it? Or being only known for those things. Or only having people see me as this person to feel sorry for. It’s not why I share.
Over the past week, I’ve been wrestling with what this time of year will look like next year. How I might be able to better honor these men and their sacrifice without people feeling they must bust out the violins or treat us differently (better than/pay more attention to) than they do on other days of the year. It was a difficult thing to walk through but because we have remained in Jesus, we have been able to do it.
And this is what I want people to witness.
5 WAYS TO TEND TO YOUR SOUL + REMAIN IN JESUS
1. Keep moving closer to Jesus, don’t stay too stagnant as you work through things – remaining is doing
2. Do something for someone else; something you enjoy – something in your wheelhouse
3. Ask for help
4. Spend time with people who make you laugh
5. Be honest + vulnerable about what you’re feeling and walking through
Still unsure of what I’m supposed to do with all of my stuck, I will continue to write and share about what it’s like to keep living life after you experience death up close and personal. Thankfully, I am married to a godly man who is not threatened by my grief, my past or my wounds. He’s not perfect, but the way he steps into this season of pruning and wilderness alongside me, helps me remember that we’re moving toward something godly, something really good…together.
Soul tending in this loss, for me, looks like letting others close to me love me. It’s writing the vulnerable, real, difficult things and sharing them with whomever it is that wants to read them. Tending to my soul looks like learning more about my highly sensitive nature and seeing it as a gift, not a strangeness or something to apologize for.
It’s also baking to share, reading slowly, having brunch with friends on a Monday morning (hello flexibility!) and it’s sleeping 12 hours straight through.
Soul tending can be serving a friend.
It can also be sitting quietly for 30 minutes each week and just writing what comes out.
Tending to my soul also looks like editing and proofreading people’s writing (I’m doing this on two projects that are going to be very impactful) and considering writing for other platforms at the invitation and recommendation of trusted friends.
It’s really so many things that hold gems within them as I trust God and believe that my remaining in this season is more than enough. Ultimately, my soul tending remaining is making time to read my Bible and lean fully into the grace I need to continue remaining in Him.
Maybe this is why I continue to share, through the darkness, through the depression, through the uncertainty, through the sensitivity – because with the horrible, there has still been so much, sweet good.