One day while I was sitting in the therapy office; my counselor gave me a little bottle someone had made.
There was a little hand written note on it that said, “for someone.”
Then she quoted the verse about God noticing and saving our tears in a bottle.
[You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle.
You have recorded each one in your book.] Psalm 56:8
I thought it was very sweet and powerful that she would make something for someone she didn’t know.
It also had an impact on me since all the years in therapy I never cried, came really close a few times.
Growing up it was a ‘known lesson’ that showing feelings or especially tears was not a safe thing.
Often I would cry in my bed quietly but no one would know.
So when I think that God was with me when each tear fell, it is comforting to know I was not alone.
The process of letting go of old rules or lessons has been freeing.
To experience sorrow in a normal way. To accept it and know that it is ok to feel the feelings.
To say what you feel without hurting someone gives value to your voice.
I remember when it would be a struggle during counseling to say the words.
I would hear him reminding me in a very quiet voice, “I am here listening.”
Another part of letting go is the process of cleaning.
Letting go of things that used to be ‘important’.
It is in the letting go when we learn to release the grip either it had on us or we had on it.
Another step of this journey is going through closets, ‘keepsake’ things that have less meaning now.
It’s taking a big risk for me as I am definitely a sentimental messy.
I love cards from people and keep them, I treasure children’s drawings and save them.
There will be a point in time when I must let go.
Release and purge the ‘stuff’ now when I am mentally in a place to do it.
Just as I had to let go of childhood pain and move on into freedom and healing.
I have to move forward and get rid of the ‘mess’ because it doesn’t have to be part of the message anymore.
My story is still here.
I just don’t have to keep the years of journaling, the pages of words that could do more harm then be helpful or healing to anyone but me.
The process of letting go is releasing the grief. Understanding it’s power and then learning to breathe again.
I saw a quote from Brene’ Brown and I wanted to share it:
“It takes courage to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart.”
The process of letting go is being able to tell the story as it was and then move on.
That was then, this is now, and I like who I am becoming.
[“Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest for your souls.”] Matthew 11:28
[“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.”] Psalm 56:8
Have you ever been in a place in your life where a deep heaviness followed you around and the sense of sorrow was real and not able to shake off no matter what you did?
Yeah me too.
In those times I have to remind myself that within the process of grief there is a learning to let go.
A few years ago my husband and I experienced a series of deaths of people of both family and friends.
We lost my parents within a year of each other, we lost our spiritual ‘parents’ within the same time frame, in the same time frame we lost an old cat and then an old dog, then our other good friends were killed in a horrible crash, then another good friend died of cancer.
A few years before that we lost my husbands parents too.
It was a lot of grief to process on many different levels.
When you think of grief and letting go it’s hard. It impacts you deeply.
You lose a part of your life story.
When I think of those who passed away sometimes memories fade.
The power of the story changes when those we cared for are gone.
In the process of saying good bye there comes a realization that in this life, we never will see that person again.
If we are believers we know we will, but we miss them in the here and now time.
In my last counseling session before I did closure on that too, he said to me, “do you realize how much loss you have had in less than four years?” It was hard to think of each passing as a loss.
Each one held different places in our hearts and each impacted us deeply, even the animals.
My parents ‘closure’ was a hard one for me as each of them had a different story and impact on my life.
I did not let go of the ‘story’ but I did let go of the pain that surrounded it.
To disregard the ‘chapters’ that affected my life would be wrong, but I don’t have to dwell on them or stay seated in that place emotionally.
The other hard closure was letting my counselor go.
He was the one person who really knew me and understood how my emotional ‘world worked’.
But in saying that I knew it was time to say goodbye.
I was in his office for many years and the tools he had taught me to find safety in my feelings worked within the context of trauma and death. I was stronger and more able to handle the crisis without him.
Did I feel sad when I drove away? oh yes. Did I want to go back into the room ‘just one more time?’
Oh yes. But the one thing he always told me, it was his job to work himself out of a job.
Learning to let go is just another way of saying, that this time in my life will always have deep meaning to me and I will never forget the moments treasured in memory about them.
Is there something in your life, or someone that you are learning to let go?
Grief and letting go is a process we all must grow through at some point in time.
The main thing I learned in therapy was, the only way out is through
I read something the other day and it said:
“Never dismiss your gut instinct, if something deep inside you says something is not right, learn to trust that.”
Have you ever met someone or been in a situation that seemed to unsettle your peace?
Yeah it is your ‘gut’ instinct that is a true lesson to listen to.
Sometimes our heart ‘can move’ us in a selfish way but for most of us our ‘gut’ instinct is there to protect us.
I tend to have high discernment and as we have been married throughout the years my husband has learned to trust my reaction to something or someone.
It’s pretty immediate for me. “I don’t like this, or I don’t trust this.”
We bought a couch one time from someone and as we were driving down the road my husband said, “we are not keeping it right?” I could not put it in my house there was something odd or strange about the person and item.
We gave it away to someone who had a bonus room and I remained in peace.
I think we often disregard our hearts cry. We minimize it or make excuses.
It isn’t easy for me to do that as the discernment is there for a reason and if I ignore it my spirit remains unsettled and I don’t sleep well or feel in peace.
As we learn to trust our heart I think it’s very spiritual, as the bible used the word heart 956 times.
[I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me.] Psalm 16:7
[Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices; my body also dwells secure.] Psalm 16:9
I think as we think on the words above and understand that we must listen to our heart’s churning; we gain peace and an internal calm that is both refreshing and freeing to our every day living.
As we learn to tune into what makes our spirit at rest we find a relaxed way of living.
When I know I am walking and living in the right way I remain ready to say these words.
[Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.] Psalm 19:14
(This was hand written a week ago and now typed into this setting)
When I continue to think about the art of listening it moves me into the realm of how we pay attention.
Often I will say something to my husband and there will be no response, then I will say to him, “did you hear what I said?” and he will acknowledge that he wasn’t listening.
I could tell because of the lack of response.
Sometimes the noise around us is too loud for us to hear. Other times we just are not tuned into it.
I do not do well when the air noise is loud and there is too much clutter to sift out.
My personality does best in calm and peaceful environments.
How are we supposed to react when the noise is harsh like the current political climate?
For me, my choice is to turn it off.
My husband and I are at the beach and the silence is amazing.
Today I choose to listen to the waves, allow myself to feel the wind in my hair.
Refresh my spirit as I breathe in the beach air and the freshness.
I actually came down to do some writing but I think there was another master plan happening.
The camp has no electricity so I cannot plug in. My computer will not work, my cell phone is dead.
So plan b for the day is to respond with a joy and delight that change has forced me to unplug.
I will walk on the sand, and feel the softness as my feet sink into it.
I will slow my pace and breathe.
I will rejoice in this inconvenience for it forces me to be more in the present.
The beach and it’s beauty.
The waves always calm my spirit and I will return revived and refreshed.
I didn’t bring my camera so even that is not a choice for me.
I will just experience it as it is, in the present and remember it as a memory.
Sometimes a change of plan is good for us.
We can learn to be flexible and open to some new experiences.
How do you handle life when it throws you a curve?
Do you react and respond in a good and positive way?
One of the hardest things I think we all have to work on is letting go of our agendas.
Sometimes it is the laying aside our plans when we get really blessed.
When we talk about the gift of listening.
It brings awareness to me the power of being quiet and actually taking the time to listen to someone.
To listen to their words, to watch their body language, what they are not saying, while they are sharing.
Matters of the heart are to be treated in a tender, fragile way.
How often have you felt ‘safe’ enough to share places inside your ‘spirit’?
I just spent time with my best friend and as she talked and shared I wanted to truly listen.
I wanted to remember her voice, her ways of expressing herself, the gift of ‘being herself’.
It is not something we want to take for granted or miss an opportunity for connection.
The definition of listen is to pay attention; to hear something with thoughtful attention; to be alert.
When I was in counseling the words I said were heard on many levels.
He listened to what I said, and what I was not saying.
Both are necessary and both are real when one is talking about conversation.
It is a skill. An art. To listen with out thinking of what ‘you are saying’ next.
I remember one time my little grandson was talking to his grandpa and at one point he said,
“grandpa are you Yistening” to me? (he didn’t say the L sound in the word.)
It was a valid question as we all want to be heard. To be valued. To be important enough for someone to hear us.
The real test of a relationship is how easy it is for us to hear. How much do we desire ‘the connection.’
How important it is for us to spend the time to listen to one another.
The word listen is in the bible 397 times, that is a significant amount of warnings.
[They would not listen but were stubborn, as their ancestors had been, who did not believe in the Lord their God.]
11 Kings 17:14
Hardness of heart will make us NOT want to listen.
[“See, I waited for your words, I listened for your wise sayings, while you searched out what to say.”] Job 32:11
[“If you have understanding, hear this; listen to what I say.”] Job 34:16
Do you see the pattern? I WAITED, I leaned in and paused with you while you gathered your thoughts.
[If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.
But truly God has listened; he has given heed to the words of my prayer.] Psalm 66:18,19
[For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. O that today you would listen to his voice!] Psalm 95:7
How about this example?
[She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying.] Luke 10:39
I am often reminded of the Mary story, as her heart was set on listening to every word of Jesus.
Nothing was more important to her. No job was more valued than to listen and lean in.
What a challenge for us. To truly listen with our mind, our heart and our body language.
What about these words?
26 [‘Go to this people and say, You will indeed listen, but never understand,
and you will indeed look, but never perceive.
27 For this people’s heart has grown dull, and their ears are hard of hearing, and they have shut their eyes;
so that they might not look with their eyes, and listen with their ears, and understand with their heart and turn —
and I would heal them.’] Acts 28:26-28
Good words to think on, in this noisy world that we live in. May we choose to listen and not be hardened.
May we see and not always judge, may we give attention to, what is the most important.
To learn the gift of listening.
When I was asked if I would like to write a letter to the women of the church, I had to pause and reflect on what words I would say. I am a senior who has slowly learned to use my voice and I wondered if I did, what would it look like for me to speak to many ages in a room?
Over the last 40 days, I have participated in an online Facebook group that has been reading and studying a book called Whispers of Rest, by Bonnie Gray, 40 Days of God’s Love to Revitalize Your Soul. I think what I would want to share with the ladies, based on what I have read recently in this challenging book, is this:
YOU ARE THE BELOVED OF GOD.
You have a gift and you are a delight. “You will be named my delight, for the Lord delights in you.” (Isaiah 62:4)
If you are a young mom with little ones who demand and tire you, until you have no more strength left:
HE delights in you. He calls you in a unique and personal way. Being a mom of little ones is very important.
It is truly a calling; for you are raising future big people who will need to know how to manage life, faith and responsibilities.
If you are a leader in the children’s or youth department, consider yourself ‘called’ to let your light shine.
You have a light that should not be covered or hidden. You are important and needed.
Remember the little song, “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine?” Let it shine and do not hide it.
Your voice will come as you stretch yourself in ways you never thought possible. Embrace your calling and giftedness and thank the God who gave it to you. Not everyone can do what YOU do.
Some of you love to encourage through making meals, writing notes, or even taking seniors to their appointments. Use your gift of encouragement in whatever way you find possible. Find something positive to say and speak out and encourage others with words of affirmation. If you can write a note and send it in the mail, do it!
You can easily find envelopes at the dollar store, along with paper and pens. Hand-written notes are always good.
Don’t feel you are not needed because of age. Embrace your age and share your matters of heart with others.
Our experiences cannot be just for us; when we tell our stories, we allow those who have not walked our road to hear and know and see how God has provided.
We just had a panel of four wonderful ladies who shared their stories and opened up their chapters for all to hear. It takes courage to do that – and not everyone’s story is beautiful.
But, everyone’s story is a testimony that we are the beloved.
To this virtual room of women, I challenge you:
USE YOUR VOICE, YOUR GIFTS AND YOUR CALLING.
EMBRACE THEM AND DON’T BE AFRAID TO MOVE OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE.
THERE IS BLESSING IN TAKING THE RISK