What to say!  I’ve had a few posts sitting in the draft bin for awhile now.  Reading through them I realize I couldn’t even seem to complete them with partially coherent thoughts.  I’d type a sentence and then stare at the screen, “thinking” for a bit, delete the sentence, retype it and stare at the screen.  It’s a bit of a vicious cycle and perhaps a little what writer’s block may look like.  I would never be able to write a book.  I’d get stuck eventually and the grand dreams of being published would be crushed:)  However, it’s weird how coming back to them much later doesn’t change the truth of them.

In a previous post, I mentioned a variety of life changes that have occured in the last year.  One of them was hitting 40!  Thankfully, I have a wonderful group of friends that celebrates the milestones together and my significant birthday was no different.  We have some fond memories of our “fancy digs”, aptly named for the less than desireable location and overall beauty of the accommodations that were much more appealing in a picture on the rental site than in person.  However, we made the best of it and laughed, cried, argued and made up all while listening to the stomping of our upstairs neighbours and promises that I would never again be responsible for booking our accomodations!

However, the months that followed that celebration left me feeling a bit overwhelmed by the quagmire of the dreaded “middle-age”!  Okay, that sounds ominous and terrible but honestly that was really what I was feeling.  A constant pit in my stomach, tears at the drop of a hat, perhaps not unusual for me but this felt different somehow.  Actually just constant anxiety was filling my days, something I had never experienced before in my life but was clearly struggling with.   I was concerned about finances as we managed James being self-employed and for Sam managing to find the financial means for his first year of university.  Add to the mix some incredibly deep shifts in my spiritual journey.  Questions, conversations, contemplations, readings, podcasts, etc. that left me reeling a bit about what I had grown up with, raised to believe, raised my children in and framed my entire being around, my mental capacity was filled beyond what it could handle.  I saw my doctor knowing that how I was processing was not particularly healthy but not sure how to get things back into balance.  She asked me to do some counselling before we talked about anything else.  I was not surprised and TO BE CLEAR, I am a HUGE proponent of professional counselling.  Three of my four children have been to a counsellor, one whom sees her “therapist” regularly and I have seen it work wonders for many people.  However, that didn’t stop me from feeling apprehensive and nervous.  I can not really pinpoint why I felt this way except that it meant that I had to admit that I was not managing well and managing well is my specialty.  Having said all that, I took my doctor’s advice and saw a professional.  She is amazing, I felt heard, she validated my anxiety, she gave me a number of suggestions and I went home to use them.  They worked for awhile and then they really didn’t.  I think there were two things that made me realize I needed something more than counselling.  The first was lying in bed every night not being able to sleep and usually waking up in tears and the second was calling my best friend and crying on her shoulder over the same issues again and again.  I realized I needed to put some things on the back burner so I could manage the practicality of life.  I had to take stock of what was most important and in this particular time I needed to focus on getting my anxiety around finances in check and focus solely on my kids and work.  I set aside my spiritual quest, understanding I would need to come to it when I was in a more healthy mindset.

Heading back to my doctor was humbling.  I felt defeated as I told her that I was not coping well with life.  She is also a great physician, she’s not particularly warm but extremely professional and matter-of-fact.  She explained to me that sometimes a chemical imbalance is created when a person is under a significant amount of stress for a long period of time.  I was relieved to be understood and to have a solution.  It’s been a few months and it’s taken some processing to work through the need for medical intervention, I can feel the difference it’s made to be taking something to balance out the chemicals that were not in-balance in the first place.  I am also a huge advocate of medication, when necessary, but it’s hard to feel complete and comfortable when it’s your own body betraying you.

Fast forward to now and things are manageable once again, life is back in balance with a few tweaks to make it just right.  As I have begun to manage the practical parts of my life, marriage, work, kids, etc. I feel some freedom to delve back into the area that I’ve put on the back burner for a bit.  There continues to be some deep contemplation and absolutely beautiful conversations with people who are also experiencing some deep shifts in their understanding of self and faith.  I’ve been reminded several times over the last weeks of how easy it is to put our best foot forward, when we present ourselves on social media.  It’s also easy to stop short of asking some pretty big questions and opening some uncomfortable conversations.  As I re-enter the world of writing and sharing online I really do not want to do that anymore.  I want to step into the uncomfortable, engage in some deep questioning and discuss the conversations that some might try to bury.  Perhaps that’s a bit of a reason for the write, delete, write, delete cycle that has plagued me.

I want to be authentic and allow my experiences to be useful and honest for myself and those around me.  I want to engage purposefully, carefully and bravely and help others who are similarly questioning to have a place to begin to process.  I hope for a safe place to process the changes that have happened as I’ve entered this stage of life.  Over the next bit I want to unpack some of my spiritual journey in order to encourage others to journey through it as well.  My eyes have been opened to realize just how many people are on this journey but feel stifled and uncertain as they deconstruct their belief system. 

It has been an incredibly long time since I blogged and honestly it’s not for lack of thoughts or happenings in my life but really more about time, not really feeling much like sharing and maybe just giving the whole blog thing a break when more important things need to be focused on.  However, this week has been interesting.  Full of inner turmoil and so many thoughts in my head.  If you are reading this, I guess I did decide to share it but there is a small part of me that wants to keep it for myself because not everything has be shared publicly right and it’s an unfinished, unanswered part of my life journey?!  But we share so we can learn, share so we can support each other, share so others may know they are not alone in how they feel, or share for the sake of making a difference.

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I took up reading this book as I was finishing my Teacher Education Program.  I knew I would have quite a bit of spare time on my hands through the summer being finished my schooling and recognizing that I was likely not going to be working until September.  So I decided on a book that was non-fiction, a subject I’ve been contemplating, struggling with for quite a period of time now and it would ease me out of the life of being a full-time student as I began summer vacation with my kids.

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Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”!  For those who do not believe in God or the bible and for those who are struggling in their faith right now those words probably feel like a slap-in-the-face.  I acknowledge that because as a believer who feels growth in my relationship with God I too feel like this passage is immensely hard to grasp.

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Where have I been you ask…or maybe you don’t! Either way the truth is that I have had a multitude of things I could have blogged about over the last months but I haven’t really felt the desire to sit down and hash it all out via bloggo-sphere (not sure that’s an actual word but it came to mind). Life has been full and rich…full of great moments, family memories, laughter…rich with teachable moments, reflection, understanding and revelation. Lately I’ve been reminded of the fact that God has created me to be who I am and if I believe that, then I must honor that God has indeed created others to be who they are. In acknowledging that fact I feel that it’s opened a whole new set of questions and feelings of inadequately understanding our Creator. If I started listing them it’s unlikely that I’d be able to stop. In this realization I’ve become somewhat aware/disappointed in how Christians today are extremely judgemental and black and white in their view of the world. I know what I’ve been taught over the years in church about what’s right and wrong but I have also lived in this world for 33+ years and become a mother in this world. There are very few things in this world that is black and white and as such I think it’s fair to say that we must be willing and ready to navigate these muddy waters with care and empathy. More often than not I see a world full of people screaming out to be heard, listened to, loved and validated. Many of them have lived their lives being marginalized and their opinions squashed and as a result they lash out with their views. When their values are threatened, they attack and they don’t care who stands in their way. What I find myself wondering is how would God call us, us being those who have engaged in a personal relationship with him, to act? Or better yet what would Jesus have done? Would he have stood on the latest, greatest corner (ie. facebook, twitter, blogger, etc.) and yelled for the world to hear what he KNEW was truth. Or is his example much, much more difficult…personal relationships with those who then invited him to speak truth into their lives. I realize that Jesus had a major advantage in that he knew when a person’s heart was ready for acceptance but the amazing thing is that when we opt to develop deep, meaningful relationships with those around us we become aware of when they’re ready, sensitive, and actively seeking for truth to be revealed in their lives. I also recognize that some might say that Jesus did in fact stand on his proverbial soapbox, as he spoke in from of hundreds at a time but no where in those accounts were those people bashed over the head with his message. I’m determined to keep exploring how these ideas/revelations swirling in my head affect my daily faith journey. How to best live out God’s truth while honoring that he’s created an entire world of individuals walking their own walk, discovering who they are through their own set of trials, strengths, weaknesses and most importantly, valuing how God has chosen to reveal himself to them without judgement.

In November I posted about an upcoming interview that I was preparing for as part of my job. I spent hours preparing, pouring over the “right” answers to the questions that may be posed, talking to the people I trust to help guide me in my spiritual growth and then trusting that God would guide me to answer appropriately.

Yesterday dawned bright and clear, I was feeling nervous but extremely hopeful! I’d spent the night before re-reading my study notes with confidence that I could answer the questions they threw at me with some sense of confidence. I arrived at my destination with plenty of time to glance over my notes one last time and then relax. I was greeted and introduced to the four individuals who would conduct my interview and the usual pleasantries followed. I gave them a synopsis of my life, my family, my journey to my current position…then they dove right in.

This is about where I’ll end the commentary and say that I am so thankful that my guarantee of entry into Heaven was so much easier than facing this panel of individuals. I’m very glad that God has given me the reassurance of salvation beyond my futile efforts at remembering references down to the chapter and verse or memorizing word for word large portions of scripture or the entirety of scripture. I am a proponent of scripture memory, there’s no question about that, but I will be the first to admit that it is not my strong point and from the first question asked of me I felt frozen in place by my inability to answer correctly many of the questions initially asked.

I feel blessed that God honored my desire to serve him and the prayer that I prayed as I drove in, that He would allow my passion for the children I serve and my love for Him to shine through despite anything I might say. That answer to prayer was my saving grace when it came down to the wire. I can celebrate that I was successful in fulfilling the obligation I had, to meet those specific requirements as part of my employment but I was reminded again, through this process that God is gracious. That He alone holds the knowledge of the world, that He has no expectation of any human being to accurately and adequately explain who He is and what His purpose is. That faith is much simpler than that and as believers we can hold tight to His ability to reveal himself to us in many, many ways. One of the verses that will be forever burned into my brain (mainly because it was one of the many that I could not direct the panel to) is Hebrews 11:1 and it reaffirms to me my responsibility to God but also the basic truth of everything I stand for.

My beliefs and knowledge of scripture may come into question (by those both for me and against me), I may be asked to explain what has led me where I am today, somebody may want to know whether my theology is correct or incorrect and really I’m okay with being held accountable and questioned but what I am most relieved about is that the ultimate judgement and questioning comes from the One who created me, the One who knows me inside and out, the One who loves me more than anything else. My hope and joy remains with the One who is PERFECT!