Tag Archives: freedom

Living in Paradox

fireworks

Another goodbye. How appropriate. Who knew, after writing my last blog, that I would have yet one more goodbye to say? And a biggie, at that…

This time, to my son and precious new daughter-in-law who left for Idaho a couple of weeks ago after a job transfer. After only a two and a half weeks’ notice. After buckets of tears from yours truly.

They will no longer be able to pop over anytime for dinner, jacuzzi, and Amaretto Cherry Cordial ice cream nights. They will not be here for most birthdays, holidays, and nothing-going-on-days. They won’t be coming over to watch the house when we go on vacation and make sure Bella doesn’t pee in dad’s office.

But they are flying – completely out on their own with no parent-strings attached. They are taking chances, risking a ton, and experiencing life to the max. They are excited, happy and optimistic.    truck

Yes. My heart is on the floor. Beyond sad and grieving.

And yet, my heart is so proud. Thankful and happy!

A little schizophrenic, huh? A good friend recently asked me how I was doing with all of this. I was almost embarrassed to answer because, well, I’m all over the place – feeling feelings that shouldn’t coexist…

As if because I’m sad, I can’t also be happy…as if to be in mourning means I can’t be thankful…as if to feel discouraged means I’ve lost all hope…

I’m pretty sure that’s a form of legalism.

We buy into the lie that we’re not really being honest with ourselves if we have feelings and thoughts that are polar opposites of each other. (Either that or we think we’ve finally gone nuts.)

We believe stuff like:

If we’re angry, then we’re not really operating out of love or trusting God.
If we’re sad, that means we don’t see a bright side.
If we’re discouraged, then we’re not really thankful.
If we want something, then we aren’t truly content with what we have.

Sometimes those things are true. But who says we can’t also live with diametrically opposing feelings?

Somehow we’ve bought into the idea that two conflicting experiences cannot cohabitate.

My all-too-often disarrayed soul begs to differ. I call it living in paradox.

Paradox: a statement that is seemingly contradictory or opposed to common sense and yet is perhaps true. (Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary)

Yup. I think we live in dichotomous, parallel truths more often than we realize. For instance:

  • I am thankful to be in school. I cannot WAIT for it to be over with.
  • I am beyond angry, sick, and frustrated at an injustice my girlfriend has been going through the last two years. I trust God to work it all for good and am happy for all He has given her.
  • I am disgusted with our political environment and am even more sickened with how some of us “Christ-followers” are behaving in the midst of it. I am so grateful to live in this still-super-awesome country and still believe in the church.

I wonder what living in paradox might mean for you right now…

I know someone who had to give a much-loved foster child back to a mom who’s really trying to get her life back together. And someone else who felt relief that their loved one wasn’t suffering anymore but also experienced incredible distress at the loss. Talk about conflicting feelings.

The problem isn’t living in paradox; it’s not acknowledging its existence.

When we engage in “black or white” or “either/or” thinking we discount feelings. We minimize. We dismiss. Or think we’re crazy.

But embracing that there are two opposite sides to the same coin is very freeing.

Because then we accept. Open up. Relax.

If you’re all over the place too, you’re in good company. Maybe realizing it and giving ourselves a break is the sanest, most productive thing we can do.

Personally, I’m into sanity. See you in paradox.
Sherri-sig-png7

 

Choice Imposters

Well, I’m most definitely back from vacation. In just the first day of being back, the demands of life showed me very little mercy; including the needs of my sweet little dog Bella who refused to let me adjust to the time difference at my own pace. Nice.

I had to unpack. I had laundry to do. I had groceries to buy. I had e-mails to attend to. I had prescriptions to fill and a ton of mail to sort through. I had, I had, I had…

I think I hate that word. But the reality is, that’s just life. Life is full of “have-to’s;” they’re to be expected. And the truth is, those kinds of demands really aren’t all that bad. In fact, in a strange way, they can actually be cathartic at times – especially after coming back from a long vacation.

It’s the other kind of “have-to’s” that suck the life right out of me. That kill my peace. And steal my joy.

They are choices disguised as “have-to’s;” imposters that insist I comply or else be condemned. They are demands that don’t come from the outside world but from a much more intimate and secret place. They come from within.

The external demands of my outer world pale in comparison to the internal demands that I place on my own self.

Sometimes they’re big demands. Sometimes they’re little. But always, they’re false…

  • demands that I read my Bible every day. (And reading my “daily Scripture” app doesn’t count.)
  • demands that I regularly perform to a certain standard like, for example, the unnecessary  pressure I put on myself to post my blog at least once a week because the “industry” says I have to be consistent.
  • demands that I don’t confront issues because I’m supposed to just “let it go.”
  • demands that I get an “A” in every class – even though I am simply going to school for my own fulfillment.
  • demands that I’m always full of faith.

As a Christ follower, I know we also have an enemy who delights in baiting us with false demands – knowing exactly which ones we are each more likely to “bite.” And sometimes even well-meaning people in our lives place unfair expectations on us. But in the end, it doesn’t really matter where the source comes from because either way, we always have the choice to either surrender to these false expectations or deny them power and expose them for what they are.

I began denying some false demands over my vacation. For one, I decided to put my blog on hold until I got back. Since my return, I’ve begun to identify a few other false demands I’ve been unknowingly operating out of and have already started to experience incredible amounts of freedom in letting those go as well.

My prayer is that if you, too,  happen to be one of those people who struggle with false demands – choices disguised as “have-to’s – that God will reveal those to you and you will begin to experience great freedom as you let each and every one of them go!