Cardinal and Phoenix

Finding Hope and Beauty in the Mess of Life

And it isn’t a formula either.

Who hasn’t heard that quote said a million times? Especially in the past few years where people are realizing more and more that “time does not heal all wounds”, “Forgive and forget” is impossible (the forgetting part at least-the forgiving is a whole different kind of impossible). While we all need to remember this all the time, I mean, I tattooed it on myself as a reminder, I think we need to start saying that “healing is not a formula” more. I’m sure people say it – I am not inventing something new by any means, but it needs to be said more. I can’t count the amount of times I have heard people use their own healing as a formula for other people. They had some sort of miraculous healing and now they go around preaching how you can have the same thing. Or they didn’t have this crazy BOOM you’re healed thing, but the way they healed and experienced God is still the way it is presented for your healing. It has to stop! The way you heal is not the way I will heal and vice versa. I believe 100% in the power of telling your story and how people are encouraged and helped through it. I have been so encouraged by other people’s stories time and time again. Story is powerful and brings healing. I actually believe we need to share stories more and be more vulnerable in our sharing. They are how we connect, learn and heal, but when your story becomes my formula we are all in trouble. Even though I know what someone may mean as they share their experience; that they of course don’t think it will happen the exact same way for you, It is still so triggering to hear things worded in a formulaic way. My mind will start spinning and wondering why God has forgotten me in healing? Why is this person making it seem so easy? I have been going through hell and POOF they are all good. WTF God? Do you hate me? Am I doing something wrong? Not enough faith? I could go on and on with the things that start to spiral in my mind. It usually gets to the point where I no longer hear the person speaking and begin to get angry at God, them and myself. I can only imagine how other people listening are feeling if I am feeling this way. I have read the stories of Jesus healing people and no two are the same. He touched some people and they were healed, others he just spoke to and some he even spit on( not my preference for healing btw). So if Jesus didn’t have a set way of healing all those centuries ago, why does he have a set way now? An even better question is, if Jesus didn’t have a formula how can you have one?

The way we present our stories of healing matters. It really matters! Are our words encouraging others to pursue God in their own stories or are they causing them to spiral into confusion and doubt? Words truly do have the power of life and death. So we need to use them wisely. Just because you experienced a physical or emotional healing one way or someone experienced healing through something you prayed for/with them doesn’t mean it now becomes a set way for everyone. Don’t go writing a book with the five ways people can be healed. No need for a 10 week study on how to heal others. Share the story, yes! Give God the credit and thanks that He deserves, but please choose your words wisely, because there is someone listening that is not experiencing healing the same way. Your healing is yours and mine is mine. We can not share the same healing. So, thank you for trying to share, but actually, no thank you.

The following was written by a friend and I was given permission to post it. It is raw and real. With that being said: This can be a potential trigger for some people so please read with caution and be kind to yourself and stop reading if you begin to feel triggered.

I am from playing in the neighborhood on summer days, lost for the day with neighborhood friends.

I am from fuzzy memories and a buzzy chest, tight throat.

I am from the white house and spin the bottle.

I am from stuffed animals and hours teaching in my playhouse.

I am from Flo on Alice and Nikki on The Young and the Restless.

I am from young dreams of being on a stage as a stripper and being rescued by a man who would see and delight in me.

I am from Penthouse, Hustler, and Playboy mothering, comforting, and offering embodied life and electricity. A glimpse of God running through my veins.

I am from being moved by faces, not words.

I am from electricity, tension, anger, and pressure in a room without explanation and yet the demands for my response being clear as day.

I am from a small town where you are loved for your family name and respected for upholding said name.

I am from the love of Granny Strick’s famous Mac n cheese, Nana’s chow chow, chicken & rice and chicken & dumplings, and Mrs. Smith’s apple pies.

I am from a long line of men who demand women are less than, unimportant, unseen, but their bodies are a temple to be devoured, offered at the man’s beck and call without question to make him feel like the most powerful person in the world.

I am from a long line of women who believed their role was to stand by their man because how he sees me measures my worth and value. I will be agreeable and fulfill my role as the orbiter of any man who needs to be worshipped to fulfill his destiny. This is my most important task in life. That and to make sure I jack him off well and look beautiful all the while.

I am from women who love a small god, ask no questions of him, have little curiosity about the small life they live even though they feel the call for more in their veins. Oh and we look beautiful.

I am from a body that holds much need for others and a newfound curiosity for my own need.

I am from a body that has been trespassed on by others without question or consent, all the while believing that I am a fucked up little girl.

I am from a body that lived with dread and a feeling of impending doom.

I am from eyes that can remember how my dad lovingly caressed his feet when he ate and was pleasured by his favorite food – mint chocolate chip ice cream, German chocolate cake, Maries dressing with cauliflower and broccoli.

I am from the memory of my dad’s sexy hands and a strength and smell I could not get close enough to.

I am from the label of too sensitive and too emotional. Tiddy baby.
I am from a long line of deceivers – men who cheat and women who deny reality with ease.

I am from a long line of entitled people – men who demand beautiful, sexy wives to finish them well and women who believe life should be simple.

I am from the label cry baby.

I am from knowing how to seduce my dad and bring him into a room by using my body and face to acknowledge and serve his young need.

I am from a dark, cold, dirt filled crawlspace where my seducer is turning out the lights and leaving me to die because he has no use for me any longer. He cares no more as I scream for help as I see death coming for me.

I am a masterful dancer moving with elegance, grace, and sex, trying to avoid the trap of envy, humiliation, and shame.

I am held by a mysterious God who calls me delightful. I light up his face. I’d love to hear Him call me by name. He consistently pursues my heart with Truth. Truth of delight from a rescue miniature dachshund with three teeth and a history of tail tucked trauma stories that show up in her choice not to use her voice. We delight in one another. She dances with joy for food, affection, connection, and snuggling.

I am from the Knight of all knights. Who has the ability to redeem with a glance, touch, word, or nothing at all.

I am from True Love born before the universe existed.

I am from a King who throws his head back with each of my silly attempts at telling a joke, being silly.

I am from Wind who moves through my body to help remind me of His presence in my cells.

I am from the rescue of the Son on a cross who was shamed for all the ways I’ve agreed with darkness and lies.

I am chosen. I belong.

Since today is the first day of 2020, I thought I should do the obligatory year in review thing. So throughout most of today I have been thinking about this past year and what to say about it. An initial summary: Shitty. But if I left it at that then this post would be over… As I continued to think I listened to a podcast called The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey. If you are not familiar you should check it out (I will post a link). She interviews different women in the Christian world and they just talk about real things. Today’s interview was with Beth Moore and honestly even though I have always liked her, I was apprehensive to listen. See, I have had a pretty bad taste in my mouth over the last several years of the church and christians in the “older” generation; so even though I liked her I was nervous to hear her speak. BUT she said something that made me decide what to write about in this post. She said that the hard things we go through are not (were not) necessarily “worth it”. That it is ok to not feel like they were and to even wish we could change it. Something doesn’t have to be worth it for God to make it matter. I am not a huge crier, but if I was I would have cried as I was listening! This is one of the issues I have had over the past several years. I don’t want to say I’m ok with things that have happened to be or to those around me because it is the “Christian” thing to say. God does work all things together for good, but that doesn’t mean that we have to be grateful for what happened to us. We can wish that something never happened at the same time as we have the faith that God will do something with it. God can make it matter without us having to be good with it happening in the first place. It isn’t a lack of faith or a slap in the face of Jesus if we question why something happened and refuse to say it was worth it because God has a plan for it. Screw that! Feeling unloved and unwanted, being abused, losing loved ones, illness etc is never worth it.

With that being said; my year in review is that I am glad 2019 is over! I would have said a couple of years ago that things can’t get any harder than they were right then. 2017 was rough. I stopped drinking and started trying to heal more. Healing is hell and healing without drinking to numb is even worse than hell, if that’s possible. Can’t get harder than that. Wrong. Most of 2018 was equally as hard as 2017 and trying to stay sober was a daunting task. One that I wanted to give up on often, but I got through to my 1 year anniversary. Then, in November I spent 6 of the hardest days in Seattle with 14 other women (all strangers at the beginning) with an organization called The Allender Center. The point of the time is to work through your stories of childhood harm. 6 days face to face with things you don’t want to look at. It was awful and I came home and spent the next several months spinning. I made some pretty destructive choices (none having to do with alcohol) and spent a lot of time in a deep dark hole. I was undone in every way and I didn’t see any going back. So the start of 2019 was crazy and dark. Good news is that I started to emerge from the cave I hid in all those months, but would quickly retreat back. Actually, part of why I started this blog is to continue to come out of hiding. I didn’t find myself in 2019. Some days I wondered if maybe I lost myself a little more. I didn’t get many questions answered. I ended up with a hell of a lot more questions. I didn’t thrive in relationships or my giftings. Did I change? Yes. Did I learn? Yes. Would I ever want to repeat any part of the year? NOPE. After listening to the podcast today I feel the freedom to say that I am not thankful for 2019. The hard wasn’t worth it.

I am though, grateful that God wants to make any of it matter. That He knows, sees and loves me and that He was never scrambling to try and figure out what to do with me and all my crazy. I am thankful for a God that has never stopped pursuing me. In all my questions and curses toward Him, He has never left me. I am thankful for the people I know that see me and love me anyway. I am thankful for the amazing women I met during the week of intense pain. So, while I’m not glad for the pain and hard of the year, I do see the good things too. I don’t know what 2020 will hold and I am not going to say it can’t be harder than 2019 because historically that bites me in the ass every time, but I will say I am glad for a fresh start.

To end it seems fitting to share a benediction from Nadia Bolz-Weber that I love:

Blessed are the agnostics. Blessed are they who doubt. Those who aren’t sure, who can still be surprised.
Blessed are they who are spiritually impoverished and therefore not so certain about everything that they no longer take in new information.
Blessed are those who have nothing to offer. Blessed are they for whom nothing seems to be working.
Blessed are the pre-schoolers who cut in line at communion.
Blessed are the poor in spirit. You are of heaven and Jesus blesses you.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are they for whom death is not an abstraction. |Blessed are they who have buried their loved ones, for whom tears are as real as an ocean.
Blessed are they who have loved enough to know what loss feels like.
Blessed are the mothers of the miscarried.
Blessed are they who don’t have the luxury of taking things for granted any more.
Blessed are they who can’t fall apart because they have to keep it together for everyone else.
Blessed are the motherless, the alone, the ones from whom so much has been taken.
Blessed are those who “still aren’t over it yet.”
Blessed are they who laughed again when for so long they thought they never would.  Blessed are those who mourn.
You are of heaven and Jesus blesses you.

Podcast: https://jamieivey.com/278-beth-moore

While I could start this introduction at the very beginning of my life, like a lot of people would, I actually feel that isn’t where my life really started. Sure, I officially started living about 35 years ago on the day I was born and a lot of life has happened between then and now, but if I honestly think about it I wasn’t really living. I was alive and life was going on, but I wasn’t living. I didn’t know who I was or where I belonged. Even as a child I don’t remember feeling encouraged to find out who I was. It was about 10 years ago that I started to let myself feel the impact of just having life happen and never really facing any of it. I met a group of women; who I would have NEVER chosen as friends and they pulled me in and haven’t let go. That is where my life started. Things didn’t become perfect or healed with this start of life, but it got the ball rolling. I began to learn about friendship more fully and trust a little more (very little at times-I’m pretty damn stubborn). These new friends taught me that you don’t run when things get hard and that you don’t have to fit in a certain box to be accepted. The first time anyone cried for me and things I had experienced happened with this group. I was loved and accepted, mess and all. There was no hiding with them; so obviously I tried even harder to hide. Surely they would be done with me soon enough. Ten years later and they still haven’t gotten rid of me. Even after everyone moved to different states for a few years it still wasn’t the end. We now all live in the same state again! Five years ago I left Florida and moved to Virginia to live with two of these women and that is when the story of healing starts. Looking back I can see small instances of healing that I missed then. Each bit leading to something much bigger. It’s funny how that works, isn’t it? Something so small goes completely unnoticed and then suddenly you realize that without the small things happening you wouldn’t be where you are. We really can’t discount the small. Let people point out the small things (victories & growth points) because we usually miss them and they DO add up. (That was just a little rabbit trail of encouragement ;)) Most of my life I hid behind things so that I didn’t have to face my own pain. If it would start to bubble up I would lead another small group or think about people I knew who had “worse” happen to them or fall into addictive/self destructive patterns. Whatever made it go away. I got so good at pushing it down that I stopped knowing what was really true or “normal” in life. I remember the first time a friend (in this group of course) mentioned that I had trauma in my life and how shocked I was. Me?! No way! Everything that ever happened either was my fault or not even a big deal and definitely not in the trauma category! So when I finally moved to Virginia and started to face things I was wrecked! My life was turned upside down and I couldn’t find the ground. The past five years have been rough, but specifically the past two years have been the worst; excruciating really.-More to come on that.- I have stopped saying that things can’t get more painful because low and behold they do. I am in the midst of figuring out who I am, who God is and everything in between. I am learning what truth is and what healing looks like. I was taught for so long in church that all healing happened at the cross so for years all of the brokenness I felt I chalked up to me just not having enough faith or maybe I hadn’t been “saved” the right way. Now I know that healing doesn’t happen all at once. It is not complete while we are alive. There is always something more to explore and be curious about within our stories. Always another layer to uncover. This sounds frustrating, right? ALWAYS SOMETHING ELSE?! No break??? It is frustrating for sure! But I try and find relief in it too. This means that all these years I haven’t just been inherently flawed or didn’t have enough faith. Or that God had just forgotten about me and moved on. It means, I am human. Was I healed at the cross? Yes. Am I walking out and experiencing that healing now? Yes. Will I experience healing when I see Jesus? Yes. It is all of it. The Bible is full of paradox. We want a cut and dry answer and often there isn’t one. It is not a this or that answer. It is an AND. That small, three letter word can cause a lot of tension in our lives because we want it now. But just like the kingdom came with Jesus, is here now and will be here in all its fullness; healing happened, is happening and will be completed. So this may not be a normal introduction, but it is mine. You will hear more about the other 25 years as we go on. Because those years were and are very important to who I am and who I will be, but this seemed like a good place to start. My name is Megan, BTW 🙂

Hiding in Playtime

Over the Summer as I was doing some EMDR work in therapy I started to do some writing. I have always liked writing and at times played with the idea of being a writer(whatever that actually means), but the thought of people reading what I wrote was scary. I never saw myself as a “good enough” writer so anything I did write stayed in my journals. This writing became different though. The above piece started out as a healing tool; it is easier for me to speak on paper than out loud sometimes. As I laid it all out on paper I began to see myself more. I was able to walk through something that happened to me in a way I never had before. Writing became different to me; it became sacred and healing. In the beginning there was no intention of sharing what I wrote, but when it happened I experienced more healing and things began to open up for me. I am in no way healed. I have just begun and deeply believe that healing will happen forever. We are not fully complete until we see Jesus. There is a tension between the already and not yet that we must hold(more on that in another post). This blog has come out of that healing. Selfishly, I want more healing and hope this avenue brings some, but I also want to see other people experience healing. Life has a way of leaving its mark on us all and we don’t always talk about those marks unless we can wrap them up in a nice bow. I don’t know about you, but I have never been the nice bow type. So the vision for this blog is to talk about all the mess life throws at us and how we stumble through. I will not be the only writer here (that is the hope anyway ;)), I want this to be an avenue of healing for others as they write too. We will talk about trauma, faith, counseling, emotions, our kingdoms and more.

I will more officially introduce myself in a later post, but thought sharing the writing that started this whole thing first would be fitting.

P.S. The entries here will not always be edited first so if you see mistakes just take that as part of the mess of life 😉