Shining My Faith Through Doubt and Wonder

My dad asked to borrow my bible, (The Voice version) to see if he likes it. I, of course, said yes when he noticed I had a bunch of papers stuck in it. I mindlessly took them from him and placed them on my meditation/prayer altar and did not think of them again until this morning during my prayer and meditation time. One was a letter I wrote to God at the end of our church's Explorations class. Honestly, the class that changed it all for me. This is what I wrote one year ago to God and probably to myself all at the same time,

This has been some of the most challenging years of my life, which I feel like is saying a lot considering what I've already been through. And yet, I finally feel, not only more me, but I am finally feeling at peace with me, with You, with it all. I think I need permission to doubt and question, and then I really needed to admit that I was, and maybe still am, so angry at You for what I've deemed as unfair. And yet, I also know at the same time that I don't get that power of what is fair or unfair in this life, in Your kingdom or what You have planned for me. And more than ever before, with this knowledge, with this peace, with Your grace, I am finally trusting You. I feel this sense, Your spirit, inside of me; almost always. I'm still definitely learning and questioning and figuring out how to do this all, but it is with this sense of faith that I'm both proud and a little scared. But I also am going to give myself permission for that fear because I don't ever want to lose my wonder about this all or about You.

A year has passed since I wrote these words and my sense of trust in them has only grown. This sense that I can stop treading water so hard all the time and know that His hands are underneath me to help me float. This sense that everything will be okay, even if I am not loving it all right now.

A year ago this week was when I walked into the waters of baptism and every day since has been full of growth and wonder. This coming weekend I will take part in my church's baptism services. I will walk on stage and share my faith testimony with our congregation of thousands. And, in front of those thousands of people my "cardboard testimony" will have the word infertility on it.

What I hope is that I give someone else permission to seek themselves through this journey of infertility.

To know that everything will eventually be okay as we define our own happy ending.

To know that this journey has nothing to do with punishment or what is fair or unfair.

To know that through embracing the complicated gray, they will actually find their truth.

My prayer is that in that dreaded, and yet now completing word to me, infertility, the hope of being okay can shine. And, most of all, that we all can trust that we can rewrite parts of our story, trusting in how He has it all in His hands, and that the end of our story is nothing short of a grace filled miracle.

 
 

Fear: Embracing It To Move Through It, Not Living From It

There is a lot of fear right now. Fear of struggle. Fear of violence. Fear of depression. Fear of it getting worse. Fear of sadness. Fear of unanswered questions. Fear of pain. Fear of loss. Fear of it never getting better. Fear of the unknown.

Fear of fear.

Fear is a constant topic in my office with my clients; most often the fear of the unknown or the fear of things never getting better.

The exact sentiments we are seeing and feeling in our community lately.

Fear keeps us stuck and paralyzed. Fear makes us react instead of respond. Fear keeps us from living our lives authentically and wholeheartedly.

Our challenge is not to get rid of it or to not feel it or to stuff it down or to numb it out. I think many times we are socialized to believe that we shouldn't feel "negative" emotions; fear especially. But the fact is, just at Brené Brown states, we cannot selectively numb out the dark.

Our challenge is to embrace it, move through it and live our lives with courage despite the fear.

Living from a place of fear

We must make the choice to not live our lives from a place of fear. When we live our lives from a place of fear we only hurt ourselves and others. Living our lives from a place of fear means we use shame and anger to get through our days. Living our lives from a place of fear means we compare and live from scarcity.

Living our lives from place of fear means we ultimately choose to live in the dark all alone.

Allowing fear to move through

Rather, we must make the choice to live our lives knowing that our fear will not kill us. Knowing that our fear doesn't have to mean we hurt ourselves and others. Knowing that we can embrace these "negative" emotions (jealousy, anger, sadness, shame, etc.) and trust that most are coming from this place of fear.

But, knowing that we can move through the fear with bravery.

If we can embrace our fear to move through it and not live from it, it can and will exist right alongside hope. As much of the research shows:

Brené Brown discusses in her research how we cannot be courageous and comfortable at the same time. We must be brave and afraid all at once. This iswholehearted living. And,

"The dark does not destroy the light; it defines it. It's our fear of the dark that casts our joy into the shadows."

As Jarrett Stevens guest pastor at The Crossing said a few weeks ago said:

"Fear borrows from a future possibility and makes it our present reality. Fear is believing that the best God has for me is the worst I can imagine. But, faith can bring us through it."

Panache Desai in Discovering Your Soul Signature (love this three times a day "devotional" book):

"We need to find our courage, which of course, is not the absence of fear but rather the willingness to feel the fear and move forward anyway. Fear isn't going to kill us. It's an energy that we can allow to move through us."

And finally, that through this hope, compassion also exists...

Glennon Doyle Melton says,

“Kind people are brave people. Brave is not something you should wait to feel. Brave is a decision. It is a decision that compassion is more important than fear, than fitting in, than following the crowd.”

And, as Jeff Brown says,

"Compassion. It's not just a word. It's a way of being. It's not just a concept. It's love in action. It's not just something we conveniently practice. It's something we consistently embody. Compassion for those who are struggling. Compassion for our shared humanness. Compassion for the courage it takes to make it through. Unity begins with compassion. I see me in you, I see you in me, and I want us to live from love together."

Living through fear to compassion

What would it be like for us to simply name our fear? Name it, identify it, feel it and embrace it. Allow it to move through us by also allowing enough space for courage. Through practicing this bravery we will not have to keep living our lives from this place of fear.

We can find the compassion for ourselves and others.

We can find the light in ourselves and others.

We can find our loving power in ourselves and others.

And, maybe, we could heal.

Ever Upward: Overcoming the Lifelong Losses of Infertility to Own a Childfree Life is now available for presale!

If you found this post enjoyable, inspiring, helpful, hopeful, interesting or even infuriating ;), please take the time and the chance to share it through your social media! More shares means more eyes, means more people helped and the message heard on a wider scale. Thank you! Justine

This post linked at Amateur Nester's Link-Up!

In a Whisper or a Shout, Owning It All

Through fear. Through judgment.

To own it all.

But how?

In Through Fear and Judgment To Own It All, I Dare You I wrote about how the ownership of my story, of all of our stories, is done not without major fear and not without facing judgment.

And, how we must still fight for it, through the fear and judgment.

This is not easy work.

But, it is simple.

I am sure some of my clients cringe in annoyance as they read these words, as I say them often in my office in regards to the work of recovery.

It is not easy but, it is simple.

The work of recovery is simple, I know how to do it. Putting one foot in front of the other and taking the best next step.

It is simple.

But, good God, not easy.

As some days this work can feel almost impossible to practice.

I believe this can also be true of owning our stories.

I had a client who had a great moment of vulnerability with a friend recently and this very topic came up. Her friend made a brilliant point, you can own your story softly, it doesn't have to be loud.

And, this got me thinking...

In a whisper or a shout

 
 

Owning our stories, every single part of our stories, may mean that we shout it from the roof tops. Or that we do become the poster child for our struggles and cause. Or that we write a book or a public blog and build a platform.

For some of us, owning our stories is through a loud shout.

Owning our stories, every single part of our stories, could just mean that we own it all for, and to, ourselves. Accepting all of who we are, telling just one or a few people. But, still truly owning it.

For some of us, owning our stories is through a quiet whisper.

For all of us, owning our stories, every single part of our stories, simply means we embrace it all.

We accept what cannot be  changed.

We forgive.

We let go.

We talk about it.

We practice recovery from it.

Giving ourselves permission to do this work.

Giving ourselves permission to believe that it could help.

And, we own it.

To ourselves.

To a couple of loved ones.

To the public.

Whatever is our path, whatever is our light, whatever is our ever upward.

Trust it.

Quietly in a whisper or loudly in a shout.

Owning it all.

*To read more about my recovery make sure to pick up a copy of the soon to be published Ever Upward: Overcoming the Lifelong Losses of Infertility to Own a Childfree Life. Now expected to be available EARLY fall!*

**My interview with Fertility Revolution is also now available. Click here.

If you found this post enjoyable, inspiring, helpful, hopeful, interesting or even infuriating ;), please take the time and the chance to share it through your social media! More shares means more eyes, means more people helped and the message heard on a wider scale. Thank you! Justine

More Than Brevity

Taking the scariest step in my short writing career, I nearly panicked when I submitted to a well known mom blog as a childfree mother. And yet, here I am, in complete awe of the warm embrace I’ve received from the light and love of this ever upward lighted path.

 
 

This post inspired by the WordPress Weekly Writing Challenge: Fifty

WRITE YOUR FIRST “FIFTY”: No rules. Just stick to the word count — no more, no less than fifty words.