I do not know where to begin.
So I'll pray. God, what would you have me do, what would you have me say? What will serve others? What will serve you?
Dear God, your will -
nothing else. - Bobby Richardson
Do you know how hard that is? Nothing more, nothing less, nothing else?
I'm going to tell you several stories, and hopefully show you how miraculously they have been woven together. So, pour a cup of coffee or tea, relax and know that this story is for you. It isn't an accident that you are reading it today.
Integrity for Women
13 years ago, I attended two support groups that rocked my world. One was grief share, the other was Integrity for women. Integrity dealt with shame. I had a lot of it, so to experience freedom from my secret self-loathing was indescribable. Mine was such a transformation, that I was invited back several times to share my experience and tell my story. Eventually, I led that recovery group for several years. The woman who led the group when I participated, eventually became my spiritual director. [Spiritual direction is a practice of being with people as they deepen their relationship with the divine and grow in their personal spirituality.]
Earlier this year, she invited me on a nine month pilgrimage with her and the divine, in something called Ignatian spirituality. This inward path is in the form of spiritual exercises, which "aim to help one conquer oneself and to regulate one's life in such a way that no decision is made under the influence of any inordinate attachment."
Let's remember that phrase: inordinate attachment
inordinate: unusually or excessively large
attachment: attribute importance or value to
Safety and Security
In 8th grade, my dad died suddenly. My mom was already ill, and got much worse after his death. In Maslow's hierarchy of needs, I still had my physical needs met, but I'd lost my sense of security. The world was not safe. This rooted down in my sensitive soul like a poisonous weed.
I didn't know that, I was 13.
I spent the next 40 years trying to meet my belonging, love and self-esteem needs. But I had skipped a level without knowing it, so the foundation of these things was always shifting sand. I had no rock to build upon. All I knew was to co-create my life with this fear of being unsafe, which meant for every single decision I made, I first sought counsel from my Security Need to see what to do next.
Every single decision.
Clear Rock Fitness
When I was almost 40, my life toppled over like a house of cards. If you take a layer out at the bottom, the whole things collapses. Security and safety were being filled by counterfeit things, not the real deal, so there was no sustainable foundation. OK, I thought, if marriage and family and children and a house with a fence and a good paying job and 401K aren't gong to give me the security I crave, I'm done with them. I am done.
I left my corporate job and started personal training.
My food, water and warmth needs were still met with this career change (well, maybe not warmth), and my need to belong, love and be loved, and grow personally were rocking my world. Still, I felt like a wanderer. So, in 2010, I opened the studio and it was beyond my wildest dreams. My very own place. I believed with all my heart I had found what I needed to fill my Safety and Security layer. As long as Clear Rock was OK, I'd be OK and I can out-work anyone.
As long as Clear Rock was OK, I'd be OK.
And, holy wow, did it feel like it would always be OK. I owned it. I was in control. I was even in control of my control (haha thanks, Marie). As it grew, I started to notice these grooved-in patterns and groundhog day-type behaviors:
Bailey the Schnoodle
My two schnoodles came along at the same time as my career change in 2004. Maggie and Bailey, my fur kids. I also bought a house on my own for the very first time. I had it. My safe place. My fortress. And my little noodles to keep me company. Sorry, no men allowed. They can topple the house of cards and take all my stuff.
As long as my little castle, and Maggie and Bailey were OK, I'd be OK.
Then Maggie died. The feeling of responsibility and guilt overwhelmed me, as did the sense that I'd lost control of my control.
So, I bought Bailey a shirt. Does anyone remember what was printed on it? Of the hundreds of doggie shirts in the store that day, what are the chances I came home with one that said: Security
At the beginning of this year, I reorganized the studio. I did not consult God. I consulted my fear. My lack. My poisonous weed. The anxious thing with which I have co-created my life since 8th grade.
I truly believed the changes I was making would cement the studio in safety and security for many years, until I was ready to retire.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
- Proverbs 3: 5-6
I didn't consult God. Instead, I consulted my:
The Real Story
It's tempting to get caught up in the worldly, material story. The 611 Park Meadow Road story. The drama, betrayal and desolation. How it all toppled. I know it feels like our family has been scattered. But that is not possible. Not height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God. Or each other.
The real story is a divine story.
I have written across my bathroom mirror the following:
What is God inviting you into?
Learn to wait. Trust God.
How could it be, anything other than God himself, that wove Integrity, my 8th grade, the studio, Bailey, Ignatian spirituality, and this reorganization together into one amazing tapestry of healing! I never, EVER would have seen that this lack, this deep need for safety and security was running my life and keeping me from God's best for me.
I don't think I ever knew what it really meant to trust God.
Or find God's strength in my weakness.
Or lean on him instead of my own understanding.
Or turn to him instead of my own ways to deal with pain, loss, and betrayal.
I lost my business. I lost Bailey. Possibly my house.
And do you know what?
I am SO grateful.
I see the grace. I see what God is up to and why. There is more for me and there is more for you. But not if we keep co-creating our lives with fear. Or some poisonous weed. Or lack. Or anxiousness.
God wants to co-create with us on every single little thing. Moment by moment by moment. He is trying to set us FREE from our past, from our wounds, from the lies that keep us from being the spiritual warriors we were created to be.
I know we have a transition to go through, and we will miss seeing each other at 611 Park Meadow Road. But brothers and sisters, the story is just beginning. God wants your heart. God wants you free from fear. God wants to heal you completely.
Nothing more, nothing less, nothing else.