Fear And Love

I am convinced that my un-welcomed fears have made far too many decisions for me. Reflecting on the emotional rollercoaster that has been this most stable and wholly loving relationship I’ve ever been in has made so clear what I had been lacking in the past.

Silly thing, but listening to a One Direction song it all came to mind in a single second.
“She told me in the morning she don’t feel the same about us in her bones”

Wait, really? The implication is that a relationship is ending because of a feeling. It hit me hard, because this is such a prolific rudder in modern society. I find it immature and stupid, and then realize it’s been such a theme in my life before. Sparing the gruesome details, every romantic relationship I have been in has ended because of either being cheated on, his leaving because I wouldn’t have sex with him, or because he simply lost interest and “ghosted.” All of those things suck, but worse than that is way it all happened. Without warning. Every single time, I would have a conversation with him and share my thoughts and feelings, ask where he stood and try to get on the same page. We would talk, he would kiss me, look in my eyes and assure me that we were in a great place and then head home. The very next day there would be a confession of cheating, a break up text, or that would have simply been the very last time I heard from him. The worst part truly was being lied to so many times. I became jaded.

Now, here I am in this most wonderful relationship with an incredible man. He love the lord, loves me, loves my son, is honest to a fault, and from day one has been perfectly transparent with me about what he wants and how he feels. I spent the first few months waiting for the other shoe to drop. The part where he disappears, or doesn’t keep his word; that’s been my consistent experience in the past. It’s a challenging thing to break through my jaded, insecure heart and keep sharing my love as much as I feel. I’ve been so  meticulous to guard my heart, which I think is important but it’s also of foundational importance to remind myself that I can trust him. If I had let my feelings make decisions for me I would have, in my jaded guarded heart, let my unfounded fear of him turning out not to be a man of character, cause me to pull away. I would have made my goal distance. I would have begun adding brick and mortar atop the tower that already wrapped around my heart. I would have “felt different about us in my bones” and walked away just to avoid heartbreak again. I would have chosen fear. Instead, he stood there, leaning on the wall I had built and looked into my eyes, waiting, saying everything without a word. It’s a good thing he’s such a strong climber, and could withstand those new layers I had frantically added while I let my fear motivate me. He just keeps stepping up, showing up, and patiently letting me learn that I can trust his integrity.

Finding myself here, I have a clear mind to share what I think love is. Love is a choice, it is a commitment, a code of ethics, a glue and finally a feeling. Let your feelings serve you, but do not let them lead you. Every morning you have to wake up and choose to continue pursuing connection with that which you love, whether it is a person, a business pursuit, or a faith; you still have to intentionally choose love every day. Some day’s you feel awful, whether physically or emotionally,  and you still have a choice. In this way, love is a commitment. You have to give yourself to it, or them, even when you don’t feel like it. Love, as a choice stewarded well and a commitment, that kept, will hold together even the most god-forsaken shipwreck. I am constantly challenged to choose love over fear, but I believe it to be me the most valuable battle to take on.

Settling In.

Ah, it feels like home. The Christmas tree was the first to go up, the beds are made and the fire has been roaring. Somehow, I’ve been able to keep the house mostly tidy, but I think I’m attributing that to the fact that we’ve spent less than half of our waking hours IN the house. I am so happy to be settling in to our farm house, and farm life, but let me suggest that moving the week before Christmas is not the best plan. In our case, it was mostly unavoidable. Lease terms and home rental legalities reigned in our decisions, but honestly?….

Sparing the rant, the past two weeks have been fueled by coffee and support from the incredible people in my life, including Sterling, my threenager. Yes, he has had his moments and napping has been sparse but I’m genuinely impressed with how well he has handled this extreme change in life style, and how much he is thriving! I shouldn’t be so surprised, but it’s been a joy watching him love this new season of life as much as I do.

We’ve overcome impressively low temperatures and serious snowfall on moving day, maintaining a 40 hour work/preschool week while adding in about half of our committed farm chores, last minute Christmas shopping and gift crafting, Staying up until all hours of the morning to finish the days’s “to-do” list, all while navigating life in a new town. It’s been awesome to see what I am capable of in an adaptive capacity, and has revealed strength in an area I should have been expecting to be challenged. I’ve learned a lot about myself, and its only been 12 days.

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Helping Ms. Beckie collect eggs

The end of December is a naturally reflective time of year. I do my best to live a thankful life and have found this wild, busy season to still be overwhelmed with things, moments, and people to be thankful for. In this moment I am incredibly thankful for learning to go to bed even if I haven’t put that rewarding check mark next to every task on my list for the day. Personal fact, I have a hard time going to sleep before tidying my room. Most nights, if I haven’t already, I’ll even make my bed before crawling in. I’m not so uptight about everything, but one of my quirks is obsessively tidying my room. I’ve even come to appreciate letting go of that.

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Peacocks on the roof.

In learning to stretch my adaptability, I’ve discovered a deeper thankfulness for the serenity prayer, and applying it a little more practically (as opposed to theoretically) to my life. Parenthood, and adulthood alike, demand people take more responsibility in life and I think I’ve been mistaking that as demand to be in control. I do not have control, nor do I need to take control of many aspects of life. I believe that to be a vital differentiation. Control puts the outcome of all things on your shoulders while responsibility only requires you to manage how you respond to the world and events around you. Many things are outside my control, but I can take responsibility for how I respond to those things and stop holding myself accountable to the things in which I have no sway anyway.

Danny Silk speaks about relationships in his teaching called Loving On Purpose and it struck me when he said, in regards to a parent responding harshly to a child’s poor choice,

” you say, “I do this because I love you” but that’s not true. You’re doing it because you want to control me.”

Two days later, I should have remembered this a little better, but thankfully I have someone I love to gently remind me.

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Perhaps his favorite, the baby chicks.

Sterling was eating cereal for a quick snack before a VERY late attempt at a nap. I was exhausted and wanted a nap myself. I sat on the couch while he finished up and as his hunger was quickly appeased he turned into his over-tired-silly-self. He started shoving his whole face into the bowl and looking up at Alex and I with the drippiest milk goatee and cheerio ‘stache I have EVER seen…. The grin on his face was adorable but my exhaustion lead me to tired-plea with him to stop goofing around, making a mess, and just eat. Without missing a beat Alex leans over and kindly reminds me to let him be 3.

I supposed in this situation I could have (and would have) tried to control Sterling, and hurry him off to a nap. I guarantee it would have led to a stressful fight toward the bed and absolutely no nap. Instead, we laughed at his silly personality, celebrated his goofiness and then he bounced off to a brief nap. I had no business controlling him, nor do I want to teach him that he should be controlled. I did take responsibility for how I responded, and turns out, we all had a better day for it. I wanted a peaceful surrounding, and went about it by trying to control my son, when instead I was much more successful by instead taking responsibility for my reaction, my inside world.

“If you put a pauper in a palace he will turn the palace into a prison. If you put a prince in into a prison he will turn the prison into a palace. That’s the story of Joseph. You always reproduce the environment around that you cultivate within you. ”
– Kris Vallotton

There is so much more to that quote, but for now, I’ll leave it at this.

Grown-up/Toddler Translations

Children are notorious for hearing things differently than we’ve actually said, and for perceiving reality as different than it is. Last week my three year old son came timidly out of the bedroom a mere fifteen minutes after I had finished singing him a lullaby, explaining that he had slept and was ready to play. We spent the next fifteen arguing about whether he had actually slept of not. “I know that you didn’t sleep, now it’s time to go take a nap!” I would repeat. It was important to me that he didn’t think he could get away with lying to me. Quite instantly, it hit my like a load of bricks as I slowed down to actually hear his plea. I heard him to understand, instead of listening just to respond. There was genuine belief in his words. His expression was desperate and I could see that he just wanted me to believe him. He truly believed he had slept, and our conversation (for him) was not about the nap, but was about hoping I would trust him. Now my insistence that I knew he was lying was teaching him that I don’t trust his word; that I think he’s a liar. Suddenly that afternoon nap was much less important than laying a foundation of trust in my relationship with him. Our conversation quickly changed, “are you sure you napped?” I asked through squinted eyes. His simple response was heavy with relief, “yes.”
“and you feel, rested and ready for this afternoons adventures?”
His response became slightly more energetic while I could see he was still leery of getting his hopes up, “yes!”
“Okay, then lets go turn off your sounds.”
Our tiny ritual which seals the deal of sleep time being over. Turning off the white noise machine.

In the past month we have moved, changed daycare/babysitter plans three times, lived temporarily at my moms house, and have otherwise been incredibly busy and detached. It’s been a rough transition for both of us, but of all things, valuing communication has eased the season more than I ever imagined. It’s no secret that adults struggle to communicate efficiently and a well known fact that children often gesture and grunt instead of actually talking. It’s also well known that only 20% of communication is actually words. listening for that other 80% of communication destroys frustration and has overall significantly improved my relationships on every level.

It’s All In Your Head

I’m comforted to know that my heart is in the right place. There’s a guy who works at the restaurant with me and every time we interact, or I even walk near him, I have to seemingly restrain my body from reaching out to grab him while my mind screams “SEXXXXX!!!” That’s where the thought ends, immediately, And the red flags go up so I re-center my thoughts to a more productive frame. I am fully aware that this is not what I’m really looking for, and though I’ve been here before I’m certain that I’ve learned from my mistakes. Carnal instincts can be strong but my mind and spirit have grown stronger. Knowing too intimately the consequences of even entertaining these thoughts, it’s a lot easier to move away from this state of mind than it has been in the past.

Other times I am sitting alone and a group of young men walk past. They seem nice and I can’t help but acknowledge that I am deeply hoping they will strike up a conversation, sit for a moment – or a while and even if we don’t exchange names….maybe we could just exchange a few thoughts? It never happens. Not more than a single “hello” anyway. I don’t mind, I’m used to unfulfilled hopes at this point.

Occasionally I’ll meet someone who really sparks my interest. Maybe he’s a musician, dancer or some other kind of artist and I am intrigued. Maybe he has traveled to, or has a passion for the same countries as I. Maybe he’s just a genuine person and his transparency grabs my attention. In these sort of encounters I often imagine what It could be like to simply be taken to dinner and treated well for a change. Most of the time this happens when I see how happy my other friends are, in their adoring relationships that round out a lovely, happy family where even their new baby is smiling in the photo. I’m not ignorant to the natural challenges and struggles of relationships, but I do know that despite the rainy days, the rainbows are worth it.

Sometime a it’s as simple as sitting around a campfire with my whole family, having known all of these people since the day I was born, and still feeling un-known. Are you picking up in the theme? Intimacy, in any instance outside that of a mother and her son, is about as vivacious as the high desert.

No matter which of these circumstances I find myself in, numerous times each day, I always come to this thought: that my longing is so misplaced. I want to be in a place where I want nothing more than to know the presence of my God. He is so good and adores me more than any human is capable. I so want this, but the struggle come when from all the way back to the begining of creation. God himself said it was not good for man to be alone. Clearly He knew that man was not ALL alone, and yet for the first time in history He still said it was not good. Where is the healthy balance for me? I do deeply long for community with God, and while I know I could put more effort into making a place for that, it’s in my nature to long for a companion and father for my son. I can’t fight the longing, so how do I balance it and what do I counter balance it with?

And lastly, why am I asking the blogging community this instead of takin it to God himself, who holds all the answers and wisdom?