A Step Closer

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Some of you might be sick of me telling you that I am writing a book, and maybe you don’t even believe me! But I’m making steady progress, and in January I decided to make it the focus of a lot of my energy.  My friend Marion, who is an author from Oregon Christian Writers, has offered to help me put my book together, and we are both pretty excited about the headway we have made.

To my surprise, some of this process has been a little bit difficult. I have been pondering how deal with the darker parts of my life as I write my story.   Maybe part of your story isn’t so happy and you might not want to talk about it, but those hard struggles are what teach us valuable lessons and help us to grow in the future. As children, we might have grown up learning not to talk about certain things or feel negative emotions, and so we just avoid them. We make people think that we are just happy and in control all of the time. A lot of this is because we are afraid that if people only knew what we were really thinking and feeling, they wouldn’t like us.

This reminds me of a class my friend and I taught at Good Samaritan Ministries called ‘Letting Go of Fear.’ In one session, we covered some of the coping mechanisms that many are often taught to us as children. They were ‘don’t talk, don’t trust, don’t feel’ mechanisms, in other words, just keep a smile on your face. Unfortunately, this doesn’t work because it can lead to addictions that will help to numb the painful experiences.

These patterns are very hard to break, but it is essential to living a healthy life. Actually, the hard things in life can bring strength;  if you are open to talking about them and receiving healing from the Lord and through the encouragement of others. Not just in my writing, but in my life I have had to figure out ways to communicate the difficult things in order to bring restoration.  When I have shared these things, I have received healing and have been able to encourage others to look at some of the messy parts of their lives as well. Sharing with others helps both them and I take one step closer to freedom.

What are some positive experiences that you have had when you have shared the difficult parts of your lives with others? How do you feel when you share with others?

 

Love is Calling

Lyla walking down the aisle

My daughter just celebrated her first wedding anniversary. It was a marvelous day! Looking through all of the wedding pictures has filled my heart with joy throughout the year.  But when we looked at the ones with myself in them, it was a different story.  Rachael would often say, “Mom, I really like this one or that one,” but there was always something about the pictures that I was in that I didn’t like. I could always find I something I wanted change about myself.  So finally, Rachael asked me, “What is it that you don’t like about them?”  I said, “Look at my crooked arm, or look at my feet,” or look at this or that. Finally she said, “Mom! Stop it! I really like these pictures of you!”

My disability has been incorporated into the lives of Rachael and I. It has changed our lives but not diminished them, actually just the opposite. Her wedding day was a great celebration of friendship and love.  A year later as I look at the pictures and see when my friend Chuck walked me down the aisle, I am no longer fixated on my ‘crooked arm,’ but instead I celebrate that I got to experience that wonderful day. Isn’t it amazing how God can change our perspective? My disability is just part of my story, a part that has given both my daughter and I strength.

Yesterday when I was in church, I was reminded that we often hesitate to go to God because of our imperfections. We try to clean ourselves up on our own. That is about as easy as me straightening out my right, withered arm! It doesn’t work. In fact the longer you look at your own imperfections, the bigger they become. But when we begin to understand how much God loves us, everything else fades away. God doesn’t see our imperfections and sin, because of what Jesus has done for those who believe. All we need to do is come because He just wants to wrap us up in His robes of righteousness. I don’t know why that is often so hard, but it is! Like my daughter, I can just hear God say, “Lyla! Stop it! Come to me and receive the love I have for you.”

Isaiah 1:18

“Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord:
though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red like crimson,
they shall become like wool.”

Breaking Down the Walls

This Saturday on Facebook, I wrote that I had a great weekend; however, that is a little less than true. I was reminded this weekend of how painful it is to not be seen as a gifted woman of God. This is a problem that I’ve had all my life because most people see my disability and stop there. Some people must believe that I think with my feet, and therefore, since my feet don’t work, neither does my brain! There is nothing that I can do to change their minds.

At a conference this weekend, I was prepared to discuss a writing project and figure out some different options for my piece with a peer mentor that was provided to me by the conference coordinators. When I rode into the room on my scooter, I was all prepared to show her samples of my writing as well as a chapter in my book that a friend of mine had helped me to write.  This woman, however, did not even look at one piece of my writing for more than a couple of seconds. There was a gap between us that I could not bridge, and I don’t think that she wanted to.

Besides not being heard by her, it triggered years and years of the hurt caused by similar experiences as a person with a disability. In the past I have hid and held onto the pain caused by these types of insults by just smiling and pushing through it. I have been learning now that it is ok to be mad and have been working through the grief of not being seen or understood for who I am. Holding onto that pain is very hazardous to my mental health. Until I’ve forgiven those people, I could easily assume that everyone sees me the way that actually just a few people do.

I realize though, that I see people and jump to conclusions as well. I put them in a box as well! When I pass a street person and don’t stop to engage them in conversation, I am doing the same thing that people do to me. What is it that makes us do that? Is it a fear or is it a lack of vulnerability in ourselves? How do we break down those barriers between us? We can only break the barriers between us when we allow God to heal our own wounds.