Yes, I’m Divorced.

With a wizard nightap on, she drew hearts in the air and across my skin, she held my hand tightly and with a squeeze, told me she loves me.
With a wizard nightcap on, she drew hearts in the air and across my skin, she held my hand tightly and with a squeeze, told me she loves me.

I’m feeling a little impulsive at the moment. My daughters are sleeping tucked in and warm and I have an equally warm feeling in my heart.

When I was married, I would feel this when the night was complete: dishes done from a home-cooked meal, girls bathed, house straightened, candle lit. I would feel like I was doing something right. One time I even remember making a cinnamon zucchini bread late in the night and thinking I may very well be feeding the girls’ dreams with extra love and sweetness. I believe in the power of the home.

And being divorced can make this really tricky business.

Yet this is not a post about empowerment to the single mother – although if you are and you feel empowered by the end, God bless it. Nor is this a post justifying my decision to remit to the dead end in which my ex-husband and I found ourselves back two years ago. This post’s full intention is to explore the over-whelming feeling I am experiencing in this very moment as I equally process both the joy of the first day of “mom week” and the immense feeling of longing I feel on behalf of my children.

What is it like for them? How do they do this?

** I take a deep inhale and oddly I hear Lucy sigh in her sleep

What do they want? From me..? from life..?

.. to have explained to them. ?

I have these moments when they are with me of such surreal and powerful love. I go into their rooms over and over again and kiss them, tuck them tightly, brush my hand on their hair. I feel so beyond full with their presence and our laughter. We cook together and have dance parties. We have amazing weekends and write songs about things like love and animal tantrums. And this is when being divorced becomes especially tricky business, you see, because in these moments where I relish the fullness of who they are and how they complete my life; I instantly can’t believe I can go without seeing them for an entire week at a time.

And this makes my heart ache very badly, you see. This is the argument so many people put at my plate when the divorce began: “what about the girls?” and I would have to muddle through the moment somehow portraying trust it was for the best. And then when mothers would say “I could never do that!” about 50/50 custody, I would smile as graciously as possible and think “don’t make me a hero”.

Though I once asked my ex if he ever felt embarrassed that we were divorced, I have never felt like a failure. (Truth is, I do feel embarrassed sometimes.) To that same end, though I know I actively give my daughters good, solid experience; I have never felt such crippling panic-stricken moments of how I might fail as I do now as I begin my house hunt, dream of our next trip, and think of how I might teach relationship lessons that will promote strong self assertiveness, love, and compassion.

And so here’s what I come to – in these dear moments when I am so thankful the spirit intercedes through low breaths and sighs, Adele-toned groaning while I cut up celery to pack into lunches – that

A) failure only comes with the thoughts of success

and

B) God really is still (always and forever) here.

It’s not light in the darkness type presence (though it is, but the point here is different). It’s not about “all I’m doing” and how “good of a mom” I am type thoughts to make me feel like I’m “on track” and that things are “all working out for a reason”. Rather, it is about real love for Jesus presence – real true faith in Christ’s grace type presence (I am crying now) because it is because of this, there is freedom in my here and now.

I am no longer a slave to the right way, the modern thought, the parental code. I am only human and if I am not trying to be right, then – quite frankly – I can’t actually be wrong. Rather, I stay present. Because of the relief I am offered from my inadequacies in my past relationship decisions, I can accept the fact that I am divorced and I live on. I trust my ability to explain things to my daughters. I take heed the advice from the stories of great people of faith and meditate – pray in every moment – that the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable. Always knowing that change will occur. Always preparing for impending loss. And readily opening my heart to the life ahead of me as I stay ever mindful of not the thoughts of the house and the trip and the parenting prose – but to the spirit that was put in my body and the person God has designed me to be.

What does Jesus look like anyway?

I think we do a major disservice if we raise our children to “type” need. In considering Matthew 25: 31-46, where Jesus basically breaks it down like so: don’t just do it for Jesus, do it for the “least” of these; it’s easy to walk way looking for the ragged and wondering if behind the smell of urine is Jesus.

After years of praying for God to soften my heart, I have found my heart has led me into a number of experiences with others.  I found myself feeling a sense of sadness for a really adorably dressed, well-groomed, “pop-culture pretty” 23 year old “chick”. Similarly, I felt compelled to reach out, aware of the fact that a 40+ year old woman I met was experiencing a deep hunger for the freedom offered through grace. Then I met and prayed with this guy who I realized was suffering in his relationships because of a lack of faith. Then I massaged oil into my Grandmother’s skin the night she died because I could tell… I could just tell.

And so my point: we are all the “least of people”

Really. I think my whole life until a few years back, I took this verse and started to do that thing where everytime I saw a homeless person I thought “What if it’s Jesus??” And give him all my cash in my pocket. (True story: I did this at the ball game then didn’t have $$ to get out of the parking lot at the Courthouse and had to ask the car behind me to spot me..) :-/ #humility

Anyway. I think it’s easy to do this! I think you can get in this mode where people who look poorer than you, act hungrier than you, seem thirstier than you,  are on your radar and you feel some great mission to find them based on what you think they look like and treat them all as good as you would if it was Christ himself asking for a bite of your Jimmy John’s.

But here’s the deal:

Have you ever bought yourself a great oufit and looked down to see your kid’s jeans are completely high watered?

Have you ever talked to your boss about workplace politics and realized he was totally frightened?

Have you ever met with a 90 year old woman and felt compelled to touch their hand and kiss them on their cheek like you would a cuddly 6 month old baby?

We are all in that place – never too mighty to be cared for, never too fortunate to be experiencing a deep need for love and grace..

I think this Matthew verse is especially challenging because in it I feel God calls us to truly open our hearts and connect within the human experience. The first time I spent time at a woman’s shelter, I recall praying to God the most concrete prayer walking in: “Open my heart, please.” I was almost begging him to help me. And in my time with the women found myself realizing, “Erin, these women know you know they’re homeless . Don’t see their need – it’s no different than your own need – connect and laugh, relax and hangout.”

The needs Jesus lists are our most common needs and I consider this initial charge to be “Being a Reasonably Good Human Being 101″. I believe starting from an awareness of these needs, you allow caring to settle into your heart – it takes root – and you begin to grow to deeper places of insight.. you are able to move into performing acts of justice. You have a hieghtened awareness and are drawn to things you believe should change. You become more aware of levels deep within people – into a more specific part of the human condition. All of this unique to the eyes of YOUR heart, seeing things that you are especially equipped to notice BECAUSE of the person you are divinely designed to be.

God gave our heart eyes to see spiritual needs in others and by attempting acts of mercy, I feel you obtain some necessary level of humility that allows you to move forward -(aware both in how to care for others and how to accept care) in meeting others in their moments and act towards justice. Always true to your calling. And ultimately able to make a really profound difference in the world.

We are all the least of these.

Click here to watch this week’s message: “Breaking Up With Yourself: Part 2″

A Good Tree: A #CoreGroup reflection on “service as attitude”

Rushing into action, you fail. Trying to grasp things, you lose them. Forcing a project to completion, you ruin what was almost ripe.
Rushing into action, you fail.
Trying to grasp things, you lose them.
Forcing a project to completion,
you ruin what was almost ripe.                                    – Lao Tzu

 

I am sitting here trying to figure out the best way to get out what I have been thinking through since Sunday after listening to a message at my church (check it: Breaking Up With Yourself: Part 1).

The challenge we were given was to consider service not as an action but as an attitude.. to consider the fruit which we bear.. to consider how the words of our mouths are the overflow of our hearts.

Based on Luke 6:43-45, we are pointed to consider a tree: “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit.” And as I have been working through my personal application (finding myself in various degrees of depth) I consistently go back to this:

trees don’t think about what fruit they are going to bear.

Trees do not have conscious minds. That’s why in Jeremiah the man whose faith is in God is referred to as a tree planted by a stream.. not worrying in the drought, not fearful in the heat. The tree is a tree: a system that pulls nutrients from where it is planted, reaches for light, channels energy through its tissues, and – low and behold – grows, potentially bearing fruit. In this sense, faith (to me) is not ignoring impulses or feeling as though we can’t be a little freaked out and aware of the fact that we need water; faith is trusting the idea of impermanence (the tree, our body, will inevitably perish) and “being who we are” in all circumstances. Faith is also knowing God shows up and being ready to soak up the rain.

Side story..

I once had a particularly almost dead plant. I was packing up and moving out of the house I shared with my then husband and I looked at this plant and considered tossing it. But I didn’t. I packed it up, moved it to my little apartment, started throwing prayers in its pot via random dimes, watering it and talking to it while I did my dishes. Without thinking about its progress, one morning I turned the corner into my kitchen and saw that the blessed thing was thriving. Not just alive.. thriving.

I share that because it points back to what I think is essential for service as an attitude: going with who you are and what your inclinations are but without a lot of measuring, competition, or tracking. Knowing what your talents are and what time you have requires spending time knowing this core of who you are from which you are able to discern.

Give whatever is like breathing to you. Make it effortless. And, in that, no longer think so much about what you are producing. Just love and live with a strong heart and let your actions and interactions bubble up from there.

In my own life the fruit I claim I put out there are my ideas: ideas for you, ideas for the yoga studio, ideas for my work, etc etc. And out pour words, words, words. (Which makes me think of this favorite line from a favorite author)

But what does it look like if I consciously bring into alignment that which I am doing – saying – giving with that which is in my heart? How many ideas might I pass on sharing just because I think of them in order for the moment to arise when the contribution is coming from my core? Is stirred by the spirit I have invited in my life?  

All of this leads me further into these types of questions: Am I resourceful in pulling the nutrients from the soil in which I am planted? Do I need a new landscape to draw from? Am I reaching daily for sunshine / Jesus energy :) and bringing that into my inner system – my energy – my chakras? Am I even allowing the space and time I need to mature to pass in order to ultimately produce the fruit I am divinely designed to produce?

 Or am I forcing it all?

Trees don’t think about the fruit they bear, trees bear fruit. And good trees bear good fruit: the outcome of its character – its heart. So here we are now looking at this idea and I wonder how we may be more mindful to cultivate a life that helps us live authentically, giving truly from a place where our talents lie. Life, to me, gets more peaceful when I stop thinking of all I could give on my part and – instead – giving what I feel I should from my heart.

It seems to me that a Christ centric approach to service involves being a “good tree” in that you turn off all the noise and quiet the mind. Allow yourself to mature through daily feeding knowing the moment will come for you to give and, when it comes, you’ll know exactly how to make that apple.

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