Experiment update || 05 ||

Today marks nine weeks of this proposed 180 day, four month experiment…I’m roughly halfway through the time I set out to realign some things in my life.

contentment

{excerpt from April 24}

For example, I’d tell you that my spiritual life is of foremost importance and yet, I have not practiced regular, disciplined Bible study most of this school year after repeated attempts to get into a rhythm and practice. I’d tell you that my marriage is of foremost importance and yet, Ryan and I haven’t had any date nights and frequently go for periods of time where we don’t connect beyond the immediate-necessary-need-to-know details of our days. I’d tell you that mothering my children, investing in them spiritually, educationally, and lovingly is of foremost importance and yet, the routine of our weeks this past school year has left a lot to be desired; I’ve given away too much of their academic instruction to our co-op and honestly I’ve felt too tired and burdened to lead them intentionally toward Christ in devotional time. I’d tell you my well-being and health is of foremost importance and yet, I have not been faithful to create a space for regular exercise, consistently good eating habits, or rest.

The above paragraph was what was in my heart two months ago. It was coming from a place of exhaustion, spiritual dryness, and overwhelm. Thankfully, today, I am in a much different place. I shouldn’t say I am in a different place as much as I should say I am on my way to a different place.

I have needed a pause from things like mindless spending to fill a void, social media to escape, and the busyness of the school year to reset my heart and priorities. This pause has proven to be the start of renewal in my spiritual life, my physical life, and in our home.

These past few weeks have given me lots of mental space to really think about, consider, and listen to a message of what I believe the Lord has longed to get across to me.

It doesn’t take long to hear Him when you begin removing all of the distractions with which you have inundated yourself.

Essentially, I have needed this time to have my eyes opened, my ears attuned, and my heart softened. I am thankful that I believe that process has begun. I believe it started in Hawaii with the fallout after a mild panic attack and that message took on further clarity yesterday when I heard a short phrase on a podcast that got my attention.

Hawaii:

The short version of the story is that I didn’t especially want to go hiking in the heat of the day with Ryan on a trail that seemed beyond my current physical capabilities. I was full of fear. I was afraid of overheating, of over-exerting myself, of the unknown details of how long this hike would take, and how physically taxing it might be. #controlfreakmuch

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Most of our ascent, I was winded and quickly realizing that yes, part of it was not being in top cardio-vascular shape, but more of it was because I was slowing beginning to take short, shallow breaths and hyperventilation was imminent. By the time we reached a set of steep stairs I was nearly panicking.

I wasn’t in control of my surroundings or situation which leads me to feel out of control of myself. Around the next bend in the trail was a dark cave we had to go through in order to reach the top. It was in that moment, I began to cry as I was literally talking aloud to myself saying things like, “you can do this…,” “you can do hard things, you have done them before…” and “you’re almost there…”

I was continually looking down at my feet urging myself to keep going, to keep moving one foot in front of the other. I distinctly remember focusing on doing that. Thankfully, Ryan was behind me consoling me with messages of “you can set our pace…,” “we can take this as slowly as you would like…,” and “you’ve got this; we’re almost to the top…”

In those moments, almost didn’t mean much. I was losing it. Thankfully, we rounded another corner and I could see the top of Diamond Head. We made it and my breathing began to return to normal. The tears were still coming but I knew the downhill descent would be a breeze compared to the climb.

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During that time I had an opportunity to really open up to Ryan about some of my struggles and why, what he saw in that manifestation of my fear, was something I feel like I deal with (and hide) a lot.

I explained that I live most of my thought-life in a place of near-constant worry about a hundred things I cannot control. Some that top the list are the fears of sickness of family and myself; fears about not knowing what life will look like for our family in the next year, two years, five years; the fears about whether or not we will have community around us (family, friends, or even a support system…)

I live in fear of not being able to be in control. This mountain crater hike just put a giant spotlight on that fear and how I am clearly NOT DEALING with this.

Ryan and I had some good discussion. We talked about strategies for combating those fears and both practical and spiritual habits that would help me to alleviate my fears and learn to accept and trust more. <—Lucky for me, I live with a chaplain who has HOURS of on the job training in Christian counseling… 🙂

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My take-aways from that experience were these:

  • on a basic level I need to get into better cardio-vascular shape (my neighborhood walks aren’t cutting it when it comes to elevating my heart rate…)
  • I’m truly grateful for a loving husband whose understanding and empathy grows with each year of our lives
  • I know God doesn’t long for me to live spiritually “in knots” with an ever present, low-lying anxiety over the future…if I’d avoided the hike simply to avoid pain or fear, look at what beauty I would have missed out on…that’s a metaphor for life right there, friends…

So fast forward a few weeks. We made it home, we travelled to Williamsburg, and we have had many days back at home in our normal, routine, life. I have had a longing (not an obligation) to dig deeply into God’s Word, to regularly exercise and eat good-for-me-foods. I’ve been back on a good vitamin/essential oil regimen. I’m reading regularly, limiting caffeine and going to bed early. I’ve had some friend time, talked to and emailed with several folks, and have been trying to effectively hear from the Lord.

Yesterday I listed to this podcast with Andy Stanley’s wife, Sandra. I love hearing from other minister’s wives and what Sandra said had nothing to do with my life in particular, but rather she was talking about their own journey in parenting. She simply said,

“New seasons don’t scare me…”

I stopped the podcast. I made a note in my phone of her quote and proceeded to not stop thinking about her words all day. She basically went on to say that she doesn’t fear the unknown in new seasons of her life because she knows that God’s track record in her life speaks more loudly than her fears. She cited the Fruit of the Spirit as the power we have as Christians to live our lives in such a way.

Earth. Shattered.

I’ve been thinking so much about what I want my life to look like. Maybe it’s some pre-over-the-hill-I’m-turning-40-soon reflection, but that’s been at the root of my entire “Summer Experiment.”

I want to live a legacy of a woman who is full of faith, not fear. I want to live a legacy that says yes to whatever it is God has for me in this life. Whether in my marriage, in our parenting, in our vocation/calling, or in the possible hardships of separation, sickness, or any unpleasant thing…I want to be so full of the Holy Spirit that my faith isn’t shaken. I want the Fruit of charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, chastity to be the HALLMARKS of my life, not the targets I was grasping for but never quite attained.

So for me, here at the half-way mark of this so-called experiment I want to say that it isn’t about self-restriction from social media or purchasing. It isn’t about setting up a prescription, list, or chart for how I’m going to finally master myself.

Those things may have helped to set aside distractions and clear the noise as a means to open up my heart again. And as these weeks roll on, I’ll decide when and how to return a sense of balance in those areas of life. I don’t think the Lord longs for me to set about putting up legalistic rules for myself; rules that honestly propagate less grace and more striving, effort, and pride.

Rather, I know that He longs for me to return wholly to Him as I seek to give Him control over every area and detail of my life.

 

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3 thoughts on “Experiment update || 05 ||

  1. Kathy Milligan says:

    I am catching up on your blog….and the way you described your fears so resonates with me! Thank you for sharing and for giving me some things to think about!!

    Like

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