Not the same person I used to be...

I love to read quotes until I find just the right one for my present moment of contemplation. I try not to share the quotes that resonate in a negative way; choosing instead those that might encourage someone else as I attempt to encourage myself. Today, this is the quote that speaks loudly to my heart. And it makes me feel inspired to write; something I don't do as often as I used to.

I have been in a time of shifting for a while now. It was subtle at first. But it built to a crescendo over a year ago. I finally recognized that I had progressed to a point where I was compelled to make difficult choices; choices I knew would be followed by consequences. And today I find myself in the reverberation of the crescendo. I long for the day when the reverberation becomes a diminuendo. (If you are not familiar with these musical terms, I'll let you look them up.) I long for my soul to feel still. But right now, I am stuck with reverberation.

Grief is not limited to death. I have been in a season of grief for almost two years resulting from a painful relationship and the losses I have had to accept as a result of not compromising and devaluing myself in order to be accepted by another. I told John this morning that my battle right now is the sadness that comes in waves. So much of the time, I am fine. I still feel joy and enthusiasm for life, and know that I will weather this storm like I have so many others. But I have moments that come out of nowhere, like a huge wave of sadness that pushes me under the water. These waves are temporary. It's not normally even a full 24 hour day. I'm not gasping for air. But the hours that I do spend submerged in my grief frequently leave me feeling weakened and exhausted; reduced to my tears of anxiety until I once again regain my bearings and adjust my sail. And then I'm above the water once again.

As I am writing this post, the Christ Church Choir is singing in the background "There's a Healer in the House Today ... And for you He wants to make a way!" I know God prompted me to listen to the service through the live stream. God has been telling me to hold on for over a year because He is going to make a way where there is no way. And I face every challenge with the promise of Romans 8:28; that He is working all things for my good ... even this (whatever it may be in that moment).

My life looks relatively free from stress if you only see the surface. I am usually smiling. I am a glass half full person who chooses joy and gratitude. If it's one of those days when I find it hard to smile, I don't go out. Although you might guess when I'm having a hard day by the memes and quotes I sometimes share on Facebook or Instagram.

I'm a fairly open book. I don't try to project a perfect life or a life free from struggle. I just try to find the balance between being real and being a real downer. I've had some very difficult days when nobody knew other than John how hard it was for me to just get out of bed. I'm not in a clinical depression. I have lots of good days. But the stress I've been carrying deep in my soul for so many months has affected me physically. I have battled recurrent nausea and vomiting for almost a year. (NOT sharing this for sympathy. This is just life. I'm fortunate to have enjoyed excellent health for the majority of my 59 years.)

I started writing a book last year. I have only written four chapters and I don't know if it will ever become a published book or just a piece of my heart I leave for my nieces to read after I'm gone. But I knew the title before I started to write the first paragraph. The title is "Grandma Shari Grows Up" and it is a continuation of my journey of epiphanies about life -- beyond the spiritual and emotional abuse I have already written about.

God gave me the word Release for 2018. I know He wants this to be the year I completely let go of everything that is not for me to fix or control. I am doing my best to stay disengaged from people, situations and thoughts that pull me down. I've worked at self-control this year. I've wanted to say things in moments of hurt and frustration that I have not allowed myself to say. I'm even learning the value of not responding at all. 

I have learned that sometimes the most loving thing I can do is to take a stand and then continue standing -- even while being pummeled with pouring rain. Being meek does not mean allowing others to overpower us and dominate us. Meekness comes from a place of power. Meekness is not saying everything that comes to our mind; not lashing out; not desiring to hurt someone who has hurt us. Jesus was meek. He did not assert His rights. But He willingly laid down His life; He was not overpowered. He submitted Himself to God's plan and God's timing. 

When we have the power of the love of God flowing through us, we love from a place of strength and self-control. Only those who do not have control of themselves seek to control others. 

As I write the last few words of this post, Dan Scott and the Christ Church Choir have been singing about Pressing On to a Higher Calling. And now he's telling the congregation that his sermon next Sunday will be about finding our place to stand in these turbulent times. The turbulence of my life right now is deeply personal. It's not about the chaos of the world around me. But the challenge, either way, is in finding our place to stand and know that He is God. The battle is not ours. It belongs to Him. 

As the quote above states, I'm learning to speak at times when I used to not rock the boat. I'm learning to stay silent at times when I used to react in emotion. I'm not doing either perfectly and I probably never will. But Grandma Shari truly is growing up. 

I am thankful for the people closest to me who I have been able to lean on through this difficult season. You know who you are. When you can be in an isolating experience but never feel alone, you know you are a very blessed person. I choose to focus on the "never alone" part rather than the isolating experience.

I don't know if anything I've shared will be encouraging to anyone else. But I always hope someone reading will at least feel less alone in their struggles as I share mine. My prayer is that we will know the power that is within us to overcome our every heartache, every disappointment, and every obstacle.