When Dory quit swimming

Jet lag has lingered like a bad cold. It is now 7a.m. and I have not been asleep since I took a 5 hour nap this afternoon. I laid in bed and binge watched a show. There is not much else to do when one finds herself awake from 8pm-7am. As the show played, I became restless. I felt a struggle within me. Voices condemning me for being lazy. Lies about things that would distract me from my thoughts and my self. If you watch one more show, drink one more cup of tea, eat one more piece of bread, then you’ll feel satisfied.

I did not know settling in to a four week journey of writing was going to involve so much internal purging. It feels like a clogged tube of toothpaste that needs to have the hard stuff removed before the flow of thoughts can come easily. I had ideas and felt murmurs of what it might be like to venture alone for a month, but in reality, I did not know what I was in for.

I sat up after having finished my amazon prime binge and a fear came over me. “you are all alone!” You are half way around the world from home and friends and family and life… what are you doing? The questions flooded me as if Hoover Dam itself had broken open. The questions simultaneously shamed me, condemned me, and lied to me. Tears again came swiftly. “I don’t want to be here!” I felt it deeply. I did not want to be here. I am still uncertain if I do.

I feel paralyzed from the work I came here to do. For, I believe there is a work that needs to be done in me before that work can begin. And, this particular personal work is noisy and hard, like crusty hardened toothpaste.

I told someone recently that I gave myself an F for 2017. I way overcommitted. I did not honor myself, my boundaries, my limitations, my body. I hit a wall of exhaustion that I had not, to date experienced. Then, after the wall, I experienced loss after loss after loss, if I were counting I would tell you that I lost 8 friends and other acquaintances during Fall and Winter. I walked with others through their grief during those same months.

And, I just kept going, serving, giving, not really knowing how to stop or how to reconcile all that had taken place during the year, and in honesty, not wanting too.

I’ve made some significant changes in December and January that have allowed me to live with more intension and integrity when it comes to caring for my whole self. I watch the hours I work, make time for the gym, eat better and create room to find hobbies and be with friends. I could easily have kept going through 2018, adapting my new habits and finding freedom and good in them, but I would have missed it. I would have missed the release of the pain, the exhaustion, the grief, the loss, and the loneliness.

Life has beauty and pain. It is the reality. And, it all must be felt and entrusted to Jesus. I have, like Dory in “Finding Nemo” just kept swimming, and in many ways, that has served me. But today, as I stop, I realize how tired this particular Dory really is. I am here, half way around the world from all that is familiar, all the things I can hide in and all the things with which I can use to distract me from the truth of only half felt emotions and an entire year of exhaustion, output, and disappointment.

So, though I came to Spain to write, today I find that I came to Spain to listen. To wait and listen to the Lord and to see if I can experience Him as the weight of the past year falls away.

I do not write this blog with hopelessness, rather, I find it cathartic and quite hope-filled. The wrestling has to happen. The fear must be felt. The silence must be experienced, and an honest look at my life, the world in which I live and the lives of those I love must no longer be stuffed, ignored or placated with inspirational sayings or out of context verses. I must step into the hand of Jesus with honesty and ask myself once again, do I believe that He is the one in whom I trust. The one who holds me in the midst of it all and the one to whom I submit all of my story along with the stories of others for our good.

The answer comes easily, “yes.”

And with that… I just quit swimming, take a moment to pause and receive the care of being held, rather than to finish swimming on my own.



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