Morning Glories

My daughter wrote a story about someone who sinks into deep depression and then slowly, slowly, pulls out of it. And the story uses the Morning Glory flower as a symbol of hope. When I read the story I found myself sobbing, recognizing myself in the main character. Finally acknowledging the numbness that had taken over my life, which I had grimly tried to ignore as I pushed through each day, determined to not let my family down. And I was filled with a tiny spark of hope. Yes, you can pull yourself through. Depression does go away. Life returns. 

Since I’ve read that story I have been seeing Morning Glories everywhere. As I was driving down the road to take my kids to school, there, look, Morning Glories covering a fence. Hope. As I took a walk, there, look, Morning Glories in the neighbor’s yard. Hope. And yesterday when I found myself actually having the motivation to get out into my yard with my kids, play with them, plant some things, I found Morning Glories in the very back corner of the yard, a place I usually don’t go. And I laughed and took a picture and I knew that it was no longer a spark, but a full blown flame. Hope. 

I went on a retreat several weeks ago. During the retreat I dealt with some old wounds. Or at least, started dealing. And I found myself feeling emotions again. Sure, it was anger and pain, but I was feeling again. I read somewhere that in order to feel joy and happiness we have to allow ourselves to feel anger and pain. When we stuff the bad emotions we end up in a place where all our emotions are flat. We can’t have the good without letting ourselves feel the bad too. As I have allowed myself to process the hard emotions, I have found the lighter ones returning. 

After the retreat I felt myself going silent. I needed a break from words, from thoughts, from interacting with people. I needed to just sit and feel and mourn and heal. And that’s why there haven’t been any new blogs in a while. I didn’t let it bother me. I knew the words would come back when I was ready. And this morning I felt the familiar itch to put my thoughts down where I could see them. And it’s good to be writing again. 

We’ve had a lot going on in the family the last couple months. Made some big decisions about our kids’ schooling. My third child graduated high school. We got to have a mini family reunion as I had all my kids in one place for the graduation. And now summer is going full force as I try to keep track of everyone’s summer plans with kids going in all directions. I am living one day at a time. Welcoming joy back into my life. Keeping an eye out for Morning Glories. And, as always, resting in the fact that God is good. 

Breaking Down Strongholds

I wrote the following piece, thinking, this is just going to be for me. And now I have sat here for some time, wondering if I should share it on my blog. It’s personal. Not G-rated. Not particularly something I feel like chatting with someone about later. Maybe posting this will be a help to someone though. So here goes. 

 

I’m thinking about strongholds. How we get stuck in them. How we get free from them. 

 

When I was a small child, I was assaulted by a group of older boys. I was young. My memories are pretty hazy. I remember laying on the ground sans clothing. I remember their faces above mine. 

 

I always thought it was some kind of recurring nightmare that I just remembered from early childhood. But then, when I was twenty years old and struggling with panic attacks, a young man at our church talked to me about how our past wounds can cause present day anxiety. He suggested that I pray and ask God to show me things from the past that were unresolved issues in my life. I took time, prayed, and God started downloading a list of memories that still caused me to have an emotional reaction. I wrote them all down. I was really surprised that the memory of being attacked by these boys was on the list. I hadn’t thought of it since I was a child, and I really thought it must have just been a nightmare. I wrote it down anyway. Later, I met with this young man and a couple others and we talked about each thing on the list. And he spoke truth over those memories. And as he did, something loosened inside of me. Later I took that list and burned it in a symbolic act of no longer having to think about these things. 

 

Fast forward to my late, late thirties. I was again doing Story Work. This time in a bit more formalized setting.  I had a friend who had been trained in Story Work. The premise being that each of us has a handful of stories from our childhood that have shaped how we see and interact with the world. When we can write those stories down, and then discuss them in a safe group setting, we are able to unravel some of the lies we have believed and perhaps in that way, bring healing to some of the wounds. 

 

My first story session was at a retreat. A lot of prayer had been poured into the retreat before we even got there. Early on, we were sent to our rooms to pray and ask God to show us what story we should write down. God gave me a story from my early childhood and I was really surprised by it. Again, it was something that I hadn’t thought of in years, and on the surface, it seemed pretty tame. Not much happening here. But, during the group time, when it was my turn to share my story and have a group discussion, I was blown away by how much debris got kicked up from a simple story. Some of the things that were brought up actually took me a whole year to process through and come to peace with. 

 

I signed up for another story group, maybe a year later. And as I prayed about what story I should do, again the story of when I was very young and attacked by a group of boys, came back to me. This again? I can barely remember this time, why is this so important? I decided to write the story down. As I did, more details came back to me and a larger overarching story came into place. 

 

I took the story to the group meeting. We discussed it. Nothing super magical happened that I could tell. I did get some better understanding of myself and how I approach life. 

 

But then, something really surprising happened over the next couple months with my thought life. Stuff I wasn’t expecting at all. 

 

Since I was a young child I have had an active fantasy life. Nothing super-sexual, just stories running through my head with me as the main character. There was a major theme though, that ran through all my fantasies. In a nutshell, I was always being attacked or hurt by a group of people, and then a Savior-like figure would come and rescue me. A king, a Lord, a Chief…something along those lines. My relationship with this Savior was never sexual. It was more like Master and Servant.\

I had realized, when I was a young adult, before I even got married, that my fantasies were very much a Salvation kind of replay. I am trapped, hurt, stuck, considered unworthy, and then the King arrives and says, You Are Worthy. I am going to save you. And I pledge undying fealty to my new Lord. But, despite the fact that I had analyzed and could see the good story line in these fantasies, I was still drawn to them. It was kind of like being stuck in an ever-repeating loop. 

 

And then I did my story group where we discussed my story from my early childhood. And by habit, I went back to revisit my old fantasies, and suddenly they had no pull on me. No attraction. They just seemed like a worn out shoe that I no longer wanted. These fantasies were a habit that I had never broken free from, and suddenly, they had no appeal. 

 

I realized that those fantasies had been playing a role for me. They had been an attempt to fix something broken inside of me. But, it never quite worked. No matter how many times I was rescued in my fantasy life, the next day, I needed rescuing again. 

 

But somehow, taking that old story from my childhood, discussing it in a safe setting with people who could help me understand it, and see it through the eyes of truth, somehow, that set me free. 

 

And the stronghold was broken. 

 

If you are interested in learning more about story work, here is a link to my friend’s website.   Click to Look Inside