The geese were all gathered on the new neighbor’s lawn.
Looking one to another, they sort of sashayed towards the water.
The newly laid squares of sod already thick like a 70’s shag, I watched their heavy bottoms shimmy as if to get their fins loose.
The water was near, the path was no longer tree filled, the pond was just down and behind the new build.
The environment had changed, still they were intent on their annual season of pursuit.
Same with me this morning.
I found an old photo from a seven year ago beach stay, with the quote by Mark Twain.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines, Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails.
Two men sat on the ground listening to the chaotic excited and curious crowd.
The disciples and Jesus coming into town welcomed by onlookers, critics and seekers.
Two blind men gauged the steps of the approaching healer. They shouted for his notice.
Others told them to hush their mouths!
Their shouts continued.
They were blind.
Together they must have decided it’s worth a try.
I think I would have too; taken the risk, especially if a friend said “Let’s try. I’ll ask if you will. We have nothing to lose and everything to gain. This is our chance. Let’s do it! We might be healed! We might open our eyes and see!”
So, they likeminded, replied to the question from the mysterious healer.
“When Jesus heard them, he stopped and called, “What do you want me to do for you?”
Matthew 20:32 NLT
They told Jesus they wanted to see.
And they were healed immediately.
We can go either way with our take on this and other Jesus stories.
We can recall prayers we prayed a long time ago that must not have made it high enough for healing, we suppose.
Or we can sit with this question, imagine ourselves in the presence of Jesus.
Hearing his question.
We can sit a little longer, we can maybe close our eyes and notice only the whirring sound of the room’s electrically run things.
We can notice the quiet as if something’s being offered and if the offering is waiting our taking or our forfeit.
We can sit even a little longer, our every day habitual journal, our little trinkets on the table lamplit, and we are still very quiet.
Settled amazement over this very question awaiting our own current answer.
We can take up our pencil and we might begin on a clean page without other requests, doodles or gratitude tracking.
We can begin this way.
Jesus, I want you to…
Then we can express our secret thing then, the thing others have no need to know or to tell you it’s ridiculous or unrealistic to request such things.
What do you want Jesus to do?
Then we can go on with our days knowing we encountered Jesus today.
When He asked, I answered in a paragraph or two and summed it up with believing.
Jesus I want you to help me believe and to follow where my belief is leading.
“Lord,” they said, “we want to see!” Jesus felt sorry for them and touched their eyes. Instantly they could see! Then they followed him.”
Two days ago I chastised myself for being selfish.
My quiet time was altered, I longed for a thing I got and when it required so much of me shifting my attention, I got a little hopeless, got a little embarrassed and considered I’m not capable after all.
Then I added to the dilemma, rationalizing my pitiful. It makes me anxious, it feels like attack, I got bitten one time, remember, by a crazy German Shepherd…!
I’m ashamed looking back that I considered my home should not be his.
I’ll not linger here. Let’s just say there was justified shaming and the shaming and the perspectives of those giving it were, well…accurate.
Point taken. No need for further discussion.
It didn’t really hit me until we were alone, the pup and I and over and over my mind verified.
“Selfish, so selfish, so selfish.”
When I told my husband beseeching his understanding…”He won’t even let me read my Bible!”
There was no reply from him other than “Give it time.”
So we bonded that evening, I cleaned up from his accident and then bathed him. (The pup not my hubby😊).
Then a crazy crazy thing happened to say don’t get cocky here, there’s still work to do and patience required.
A blue jay was trapped on our screened in porch. I stood to watch it up high in the corner, turned to get the broom to shoo it to freedom, instead it landed even more trapped behind the grill.
In seconds the puppy pounced!
I freaked out.
This situation grew more intense despite my screaming as the puppy ran through the door and to a private place to finish, to end it.
Crazy how I tried to pry the bird free, pulling nothing from the puppy’s locked jaws but cobalt blue, grey, black feathers.
I was beside myself. There’s a reason my daughter calls me the “crazy bird lady”.
It’s not because of my crazy but my crazy love for birds, my captivating interest in seeing them as if they are my messengers.
The bird was gone, totally gone and in the belly of the pup.
Apparently this is a thing. Google confirmed it.
Although I kept repeating to my husband “He ate a live bird!!!! That can’t be okay.”
It happens. He pooped it out the next day and it was regular, no obvious little bones or feathers.
Thank you, Jesus for that mercy.
So, this perspective thing. I won’t get into too much and thereby add to my shame. My daughter has a newborn. She reminded me about commitment, patience, adjustment.
She also said “Well, you’ve got a huntin’ dog.”
Her husband added in his sweet loving his mother in law in all her exaggerations and crazy ways way…
“Puppies do those things.”
My son’s perspective,
“Dogs will be dogs.”
I’m working through some things I have learned in the last year about the perspective of one who experienced trauma.
Trauma is the reason for so many reactions; but, it can’t become your rationalization for inappropriate behavior.
At the same time it matters. It is a part of my texture, can’t be unwound, unthreaded, “unhappened”.
“My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me. But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
Lamentations 3:20-23 ESV
Puppies nip at body parts because that’s what puppies do. It is play. Puppies do not pounce or bite because they know you’ve been backed into corners and pounced upon by big evil mean dogs who were men.
Our reactions must shift.
My perspective must not default in every situation back to fear, to anxiety to trauma.
More importantly we can’t use our trauma as a scapegoat for unpleasantries about ourselves we’d prefer not to admit.
Like giving up on a commitment or a goal.
Like being afraid when fear makes no sense at all.
Like claiming attack when no one’s against you, you just are still craving rescue.
Still looking in the wrong places to be found.
So, the perspective is shifting. No need to fight anymore. You’re a victor not a victim.
If you’re reading this and thinking that’s ridiculous that she’s comparing trauma to an uncontrollable puppy.
It is ridiculous; but, it’s also real and it’s also changeable when we choose to see from God’s perspective.
The intent of past trauma is to change your perspective of every single soul you encounterfrom hope to fear.
The enemy longs to keep us tied to fear and sometimes the enemy is deeply embedded.
That is, until we get brave and sick of fear.
I am almost 8000 words into the book God has formed in me about my past trauma(s).
I have finished the proposal and it just waits now for editing.
The original idea was an expose’ of trauma and all the ones who I felt needed reminding in case they needed to remember what kept them from saving me back then.
Sigh, what an undeserving unnecessary story.
That’s not the idea now.
It’s honest and it’s a perspective that calls me out in the horror of it all and more a tribute to the “Jesus in them” despite of it all.
It’s not a shocking story, more a settlement of my story and the redemption and hope waiting us all.
Charlie the pup lies beside me all curled up.
Shortly, I’ll head to my desk to pray and then edit. He will curl up in the corner next to my feet and he’ll be with me.
With me as I change my perspective of victim of trauma to brave child of God and optimistic survivor.
I’m cleaning up my desktop and trashing some things I’ve written, keeping a sweet little fiction piece based on my grandparents’ relationship because it was fun and silly and although it wasn’t a winning piece to the publisher, it felt like a win for me…stepping into new places, having a light touch with words. This piece was a submission for a “Chicken Soup” book about running, not selected; but, not to be wasted. Oh and for those of you who know the meaning of “The Colors of my Bible”…I gave that three hours this morning and added almost 3000 words. God is not finished with my story.
Hope you enjoy, here’s a piece I called “Freedom Feet”.
Last week it was damp and cold, forty-eight degrees in South Carolina. I watched the wind amongst the pines made shadows of subtle gray. I was taking a day off, a “mental health” day. I layered, one shirt over another, tucked tight into thick leggings. I was creating resistance, a shield from bitter air. I donned the winter cap the color of my hair and noticed how unattractive it was on me, even a tad bit tragic. No matter, the weather app said rain was coming, less than twenty or so minutes away. I told myself to go, must go, you must do the thing that nourishes your soul. I head out to find it is not so bad at all. The neighborhood is quiet, it’s a Tuesday after all and it is cold for Carolina.
I made my way with wisdom in ears, with song, with sparrows and blue jays bursting from barren branches to say to me it seemed, “Come on, come on!” and so I continued. The rain had not begun. I rounded the corner, avoiding the places where the roots decided to burst through the pavement, and I was driven on by the notion of how far I had come considering where I had begun.
The very first time I ran without giving up and giving in, I ran with my stubborn daughter very early in the morning. We were up and out while the others were sleeping. We were determined and intentional. She was merciless. She told me I could not give up. I had to go on. She tracked our time on her phone, yelling at me when I told her I could not go on. So, I ran my first mile next to the ocean on the South Georgia shore. While it was an accomplishment, it was months before I would try again, I was hanging on to the me of before.
The me that ran a punishing path, to erase excess in calculated calories, to keep what I could in control. Running was restitution and justification, a mad method in my life of control. Almost forty years later, I am brave. I am challenged by the chance try again to not tell myself no. I am committed to believing in so many possibilities I never thought could be so.
It is so much more now than a shameful competition with self. It is an at your own pace and in your own way exercise in confidence, surrendering control. A few months ago, I decided to run again. Because it was personal, I sought solitude in my gradual adding of more distance. I was careful to stay hidden in my attempts. I was slow and hoping not to draw attention, my stride would shift from long and safely situated jog to a bounce in my steps, a slight intensity in my go. I ran stretches on the trail obscured from kitchen windows. I worried over my weight, aware of the bulkiness of my gait. I ran as if it was a secret, something I wanted no one to know, because it was just for me, a cherished gift.
I ran in the rain when the day ended without positive resolution and my shoulders were sunken over by the load. I ran to escape, I ran to unravel my day. I threw my hand up in a wave as neighbors passed on their stroll. I kept to the side of the road, my chest out my legs establishing a pattern and pace. I continued. I continued on. I ran with song, I ran with wisdom or I ran with no sound at all. I became captivated by the sky, called it “noticing God”.
I was caught by surprise and a sweet recollection last week.
My daughter, pregnant and weary shared a photo of herself and her dog. They had gone walking down back roads and trails to a creek. She gave credit to her mama in her caption, thanking me for instilling in her the love of walking.
I remember our walks, how they served an important purpose. We’d venture around the long way; the roads were still soft dirt and clay. Every afternoon we’d walk to the place called the “run-around”, a creek that went from the river to my granddaddy’s pond. We walked together, my daughter and I and later her baby brother perched sweetly on my shoulders, his little feet bouncing as we went. My daughter ran slightly ahead to throw dirt clods in the water, and we’d linger to throw a stick in one side and then hurry to see it float out the other. We did this with regularity. It was our thing. My children didn’t realize it was therapeutic, that I was weary and worried and that our walks filled the times of waiting for their father’s unpredictable arrival back home every day. Walking was a way to unravel, seems it has become the same for them, walking or running, finding places to filter worry, make space for good.
My feet have found their rhythm, finally. Walking is my mind’s healing practice. My thoughts have given up their defeatist battle, my determination is winning. Not so long ago, I walked in seclusion, avoiding the cul-de -sacs. I imagined the neighbors’ notice and wondering, what on earth is she thinking, isn’t she way too fat, too old? Now I am at peace with my barely changed body because of my much stronger soul.
The afternoon turned just now and just in time from dismal grey to bright sunshine. The pine branches have changed to a luminous green, and I know if I go now, I’ll beat the sun going down. There will be just enough time. The gravel on the trail is black from two days of rain. In the distance just before the curve I see a couple. The music in my ears is a song about strength, courage and hope, an anchor. I consider chatting then decide to keep it brief, go on. They smile and I pause, notice her bright smile and happy pink sweater. I decide she’s hoping to beckon an early Spring. He smiles in his funny charming way and we all agree how happy we are for the sun. They continue on their way and so do I.
I continue on towards the place my feet, my thoughts and prayers are taking me. It is just up ahead. My walking, a pursuit of the assurance of my soul’s freedom, my body’s ability, and my mind’s peaceful resilience. Walking is medication, it awakens good things in us, changes our entire body chemistry. The world around us is an invitation awaiting our response, an invitation to walk and to continue and to believe. Continue and believe.
The irony of waiting is that it does not mean doing nothing at all. It means not doing things you know are not yours to do, things like anxiously putting yourself in places that might bring notice, like checking to see if a painting sold when you know you’ll find out at the already established time, it’s not calling four times when the caller shouldn’t be you but from the one you’re set to hear back from.
What waiting is, is knowing God is working and you keep moving you don’t sit still.
You move unburdened because you know He knows.
You left it with Him.
It’s a glorious walk that becomes a free run on a day all of a sudden you notice you’re not as heavy as before, oh, again you can run.
And so you run with music in your soul and your ears. You run. You run as you wait for your triumph to unfold.
I told myself feelings are not facts and I do believe it.
Add that little saying to all the others, Lisa Anne, over time your happy heart will override your frenzied mind.
Will cushion the knowing that’s gonna grow you, will soften the edges of you, will be a plump pillow for your head at day’s end, sweet rest for the soul.
I listen to a whole lot of stuff when I’m walking, wisdom and or lyrical voices.
I’m particular with my listening, not my favorite thing to learn from tones that are “chipper”.
Cut out the pretty words. I crave what I already know, just need a voice confirming on a firmer note.
I’m down to just a few now, podcasts that are good fits for me.
Yesterday, I silenced my phone.
I paused the voice that was the same as so many with a similar exhortation.
I already knew. I already know.
I’ve got extra blank space now. I’m not sure I’ve ever had so much room in my thoughts for things to grow.
I’m challenged to accept the void of activity. I resist the not knowing what may be next or not come at all.
I walked bored with others’ knowledge and I saw the geese behind their mama all swimming in a row.
But, first I heard them, the rhyme and rhythm of their following along.
I paused then walked on.
I turned the steep sharp corner carefully and hearing a rattling engine moved to the far edge of the high grass.
I was prepared; but, not to be startled, an old van, a bearded tank top man and a head down in the darkness passenger in his midst.
“I’m walking.” I answered when he asked if I needed a ride and then added, “I walk everyday.” wishing I hadn’t added that and hoping he didn’t hear.
He drove away.
I approached the place where the Labrador loved to sit and I heard the croak of a frog off someplace and I remembered the creek of my childhood and those simple and yet complex days.
We walked every day. We took off to our simple shady quiet place.
I turned towards home and saw the bright blooms of summer, found the hidden key, let myself in and then double locked the door.
Later, I told the neighbor, I’ll be walking a new way, find cut throughs through yards. She said okay, suggested I leave one ear without music.
I told my husband.
He listened and agreed on new ways to get to the cul de sacs, the neighborhood and finally the trail I love.
I mentally made a plan.
I expected to be afraid in my sleep, awakened by the encounter of the ones in the old tagless used and beat up van.
But I wasn’t.
I considered the possible intent of the man and I am responding accordingly, not afraid,
I’m changing, I’m listening. I’m learning.
Feelings do not write your stories.
Listen more to what you are seeing now.
Your story was written so very long ago by the one who knows you now and then and in all the days to come.
“O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do.”
Psalms 139:1-3 NLT
Notice the one who takes unending notice of you.
You, who God made fearfully and wonderfully well.
“Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!”