Thursday, May 29, 2014

One Shall Become Two Reprise

Yesterday was Michael Anthony’s 16th birthday…a milestone,,,and not just for him.

As I began to wrap his presents the day before his birthday, an onslaught of emotions came over me as I was reminded again of the mystery and reality of how “One Shall Become Two”…a topic on which I wrote a couple of months after Michael died. One person, trying to fill the needs that before took two people to do successfully. I think the transition is nothing short of a miracle.  Miraculous that it can be done at all, and done somewhat successfully.

Parenting presents new challenges after losing your mate.  It is incredibly difficult at first to meet the needs of your children because where there once were two people meeting their different needs, there is now only one.   Genesis 2:24 says, "Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and shall become united and cleave to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”  Ironically, this can reverse into “one shall become two”.

One shall become two…. One person doing what once took two.   Where it once took two to run a household now must be done by one.  Picking up the children, attending their events, taking them places.... one shall do the work of two.  Recognizing and meeting the emotional needs of our children took two sets of eyes and hearts before, must now be discerned by one. 

The hardest part is being a female and trying to recognize the needs of a son without any input from a man.   It was an overwhelming responsibility at the beginning but I have learned how to parent more from both sides.  I shared this with my friend Barri yesterday while I was at the gym exercising. She said she saw me as both mother and father, transferring seamlessly between both roles automatically.  She said she could tell that it had become instinctive, like I was now on autopilot. Some days it truly does feel like I am on autopilot, while other days, like the day I began to wrap his presents, I feel like I have nothing to offer this young man.

A few weeks after Michael died, I gathered my children into my bedroom to help them understand that I was one person trying with all of my heart to do what had always taken two…and to be patient with me.  I apologized in advance for failing.  I told them that there would be times that I fail as a parent.  I will not always recognize a need when they have it or I may recognize it but not know how to meet it.   I told them not to always wait for me to come to them to meet a need.  I may miss it sometimes.  I told them to come to me and I will also come to them.  I told them their father parented and met their needs in ways that were slightly different than my ways.  We filled in the gaps for one other.  I was the only one now. I prayed then and continue to pray for God to show me how one shall parent as two did before. 

The truth that one shall become two is also one of enlightening realization that two really did become one flesh.  Because we were one flesh, I learned from Michael how he met the needs of our children in his way, he learned from me, and we were able to parent with a holistic approach of loving our children as a team.  I learned from him to recognize certain needs that I would not have seen without him.  I am parenting now, as one, because we became as one flesh.  Because we spent 24 years watching each other and learning from each other, I am now able to also see as if through his eyes.  I now have character qualities and abilities because two became one.  That union is now allowing me, one, to do, what in the beginning, took two.

Back to wrapping birthday presents…

My husband had attended some Wild at Heart Boot Camps, men’s retreats in the mountains of Colorado sponsored by John Eldredge and Ransomed Heart Ministries. While attending one of these, he purchased a William Wallace replica sword. His intention was to give it to Michael Anthony at the perfect time to signify him crossing over from boyhood to manhood.   He was 10 years old when his father bought the sword.  It had remained in the box until the moment I began to wrap presents for his 16th birthday.  

I knew this birthday would be the perfect time to present the sword.  Anticipating this, I had John Edlredge autograph a copy of his book Wild at Heart for him when I had the opportunity to meet him last fall.  It said, "Happy 16th Birthday!  You are this young man!"  Realizing that he would receive both of these gifts representing his masculine journey and the bridge from boyhood to manhood,  the moment overwhelmed me. I suddenly felt completely unqualified as a parent for him. 

I was overwhelmed that he is and has become a young man without his father.... overwhelmed that I have and am raising a boy to become a mighty man of God.... overwhelmed that I have and am encouraging him to be the man that God created him to be.... overwhelmed that this precious young boy, who was 12 when his dad died and a whole foot shorter than he is now, has shown courage that I did not know was possible…overwhelmed that he is doing it without his father.... overwhelmed that he and I have navigated this together...overwhelmed with sadness that he won't get to share his manhood with his father....overwhelmed with pride at his hope for the future.

With much care, I delicately pulled the sword out of the box and began to remove the bubble wrap that had protected it all these years.  The air in the room began to feel heavy and breathing was difficult.  When all the plastic was cleared, the blade glistened in the afternoon light peering in through the blinds. The moment felt almost magical. That is when I saw the inscription, “Wild at Heart” on the blade.  It was at this moment that the gravity of this gift weighted on my heart.  I stood up and let my eyes gaze over the hilt that was partially encased in leather and then examined the extremely long blade.  I grabbed the hilt with both hands and extended the sword out in front of me.  It was as if that moment was empowering me to empower Michael Anthony to chase after his journey into manhood, his masculine spirit that God placed in him, with every bit of courage and strength that is in him.  

…But then the feeling of inadequacy set it in my thoughts, "What words do I have that I can say to him as he receives the gift?  What can I, as a woman, say that would speak to his manhood and encourage him in the way of God?  To encourage him to keep his heart wild for God and live with all of his glory unleashed?"    I had to fight despair that there was not a man who could speak into his life.  After experiencing all of this, I collapsed on the couch with the sword in my lap and cried like I have not cried since my father passed away a year and a half ago.  Once I cried out all of the tears, I pulled up my bootstraps when I realized that this was a journey for my son and I to do alone.  God's grace has carried me to this day and would continue to carry me…One became two.

I felt commissioned to affirm him with the same words that John Eldredge wrote in the book, “You are this man!”…  This man God created you to be.  You are this man who has a purpose uniquely designed for you alone.  You are this man that we had prayed since birth that you would become.  You are this man…a mighty warrior. You are this man…valiant, strong, and masculine in heart.   You are this man that your father saw in you. You are this man…wild at heart…just as God wants you to be.

Eyes straight ahead, embracing all the roles that God has me performing in this season of the journey.  One became two

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Post Script...Lose the Weight

It is clear that “Lose the Weight” resonated with countless readers.  I am continually surprised how God’s timing for what He is teaching me in my life lines up with what other people are struggling to understand at the same time... then He uses my written word to speak about the issue at hand.  His bigness is overwhelming.

More thoughts on weight loss…

As I wrote before, the extra weight, be it emotional weight, belongings weight, or relationship weight, causes multiple distractions in our lives.  All of these different distractions either slow us down or keep us from moving forward at all.

I did not go into relationship weight previously, but wrong relationships, such as relationships that hold you back or keep you looking back, or relationships that keep you from moving forward in any way, shape, or form, are weighted relationships.  They are not only a distraction keeping you from moving forward in your purpose, but they are a huge stumbling block and hindrance.  Sometimes these relationships are more than just extra weight; they can be like a boulder tied to your ankle and prevent you from making ANY progress.  In other words, you are stuck.  You need to either deal with the issues in that relationship that are causing the hindrance, or if the relationship is like a boulder strapped to your body causing you to be gridlocked, you may need to cut the cord.  Relationship weight can be the hardest weight to lose but is often necessary.

The purposes for losing the weight are many. The distractions that come from the extra weight not only keep us from going forward to live out our God given purpose, but the weight can also keep us from ever discovering our purpose at all.  We do not have to know or understand our purpose before we can start to lose the weight.  Sometimes we need to begin to lose all the weight in order for our eyes to see and discover the purpose that God has had out in front of us all along.

Losing any of the weight...emotional, relational, or belongings...does not necessarily mean you are preparing for a physical move but it always prepares you for a move forward, the next step, or a change of direction in your life toward your God given purpose…a preparation for your life journey.  Think of it like a military boot camp or basic training.  They keep their belongings weight to a minimal, they keep an orderly environment, and they prepare their bodies and mind for lies ahead…not knowing when or where, but when the time comes, they can move forward quickly, their load is light and they are ready to fulfill their purpose.

It is all about staying in a state of readiness so that when it is time to take the next step, a curve ball is thrown your way, circumstances change, or the door of opportunity opens, your weight is light, you are emotionally and relationally strong,  and you can move forward with ease.   Don’t let the extra weight in your life sabotage you from fulfilling your purpose.

Eyes straight ahead.  

Monday, May 12, 2014

Lose the Weight

Have you ever tried to walk forward while dragging extra weight behind you? Sometimes you may even need to turn around to put more strength into it and walk backwards while pulling the extra weight along with you.  How can you see where you are going when you are walking backwards or trying to look over your shoulder at the extra weight while simultaneously walking forward?  It is difficult, labor intensive, slows down the forward motion and is extremely frustrating.

This is how I see how I see my life.  I have been dragging some extra weight around with me while trying to move forward…and its time to lose the weight.

Since January, I have intently sought God in prayer concerning how to prepare for my future, this new life He has prepared for me.  As I have written before in my post entitled “Resurrected Desires”, my desires for my future and my purpose have been resurrected but as I see it, the timing has not quite yet arrived to move forward with any great speed.  So I have asked God questions like, How can I prepare for the forward journey into my purpose? Where do You need to see progress?  What can I do in the physical to get ready for the road ahead? Is there anything you are waiting on me to step forward and do before You can move me forward?

His consistent and resounding answer has been, “Lose weight.”

We see this truth of losing weight in Hebrews 12:1.

Therefore then, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance(unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us, looking away from all that will distract to Jesus, who is the leader and the source of our faith, giving the first incentive for our belief, and is also its finisher, brining it to maturity and perfection.”

The message translation calls the weight “spiritual fat”.  The New Living Translation says, “let us strip off every weight that slows us down.

Kim Wolinski, a well-known speaker, life coach, and author even goes so far as to say that, “Clutter (weight) will sabotage your spiritual life.”  That is a strong connection!

I cannot go forward with any speed until I lose the weight…that is, lose the emotional weight and lose the weight of my physical belongings.  How can He propel me into my purpose if I am still carrying weight from my past?

The emotional weight of grief, regrets, past wounds, fears, insecurities…these are weights I have been dragging behind me.  Yes, the load has gotten much lighter, but there is still some remaining weight to lose.

Recent research even proves how clutter (weight) in your life affects the brain.  Researchers at Yale have actually found that two areas in the brain associated with pain respond when you let go of things you own or things you feel a connection towards.  In other words, there is pain associated with letting go of the emotional weight to which I feel a connection and it has begun to clutter my life and slow me down. It drags behind me with each step I take like a ball and chain.  The longer I have held onto the weight, the more painful it is to let it go…but I choose to let it go. I choose to cast off the weight.  I don’t want to carry this weight around any longer.  I want to run the appointed course of my race that is set before me with total freedom.

In the same respect, I need to help my house lose weight. Having too much weight in the house can also hold us back like emotional weight because it becomes a distraction, a time stealer, and can often times be painful to lose the weight just like losing emotional weight.  Think of how much time you spend simply maintaining the weight in your house?  The weight competes for your attention…and all of the weight is temporal. In order to move forward in our purpose with our eyes straight ahead, we must strive to be more spiritually mindful in all that we do…and for me to be freed up to be more spiritually minded and purpose focused, my house must lose some weight.  I would never want the extra weight to sabotage my spiritual life.

I have put my house on a weight management program.  I want and need my house and emotional space free of all weight so that creativity can flow, my attention will not be divided, my eyes can focus straight ahead, and my steps will be unhindered, moving forward with purpose and freedom.

I was texting with someone today who is struggling with wanting answers from God of what to do with the rest of his life, direction, and purpose.  With his best efforts, he is trying to be still and listen to God’s lead but, as we all know, being still is extremely difficult when we are searching for answers about the journey ahead of us…and we typically want the answer now!  He said he felt like “steel being forged in the fire. I know I am lovingly being formed but when is this done?”  I have asked this same question of God….Okay God…mercy!  Lord have mercy!  Is it time to run yet?  How much longer must I feel like I am training in boot camp before I can cut loose and run the race that is set before me?

In spite of these questions, I also told him that being still and listening is the best thing you can do.  You learn much about yourself, your natural urges and tendencies, and gain a more clear perspective when you are able to force yourself into the self discipline of being silent and waiting on God…but the art is to know when it’s time to wait on God and when its time take action, lose some weight, and move forward in faith.

Because I love to garden, I often think of spiritual matters in terms of gardening.  Losing the weight is much like a hard pruning on a rose bush.  The more severe the pruning, the more fullness of life there will be, the stronger the new growth will be, and the greater the number of blooms.  This is what our life, our journey, our purpose can look like when we lose the weight and prune out everything that is pulling strength from the main limbs…in gardening terms we call them suckers.  Emotional weight and physical weight in our surroundings can suck the strength, the stamina, and future growth right out of us by silently distracting us from our purpose.

Even though the weight loss can be painful, I choose to lose the weight so that I can run the appointed course of my race that is set before me with total freedom and, because there is no more weight dragging behind me, I can run with my eyes straight ahead.