October 16, 2016

Blessed Sunday

It is a beautiful day here in sunny and mild, Phoenix. The skies are clear, and the air temperature is warm (not too hot, yet). The high today and through next week is expected to hit the mid-90s. Truthfully, I am ready for cooler days. It seems odd that our weather has remained steady in the 90s. Normally, our average temperature in October is around 75 (with the high in the mid-80s). November typically sees high temperature ranges from the mid-60s to 70s. It just seems so off to me, I mean, given we are midway through the month and we are still hitting close to 100. AGH!

When I lived in San Jose, our normal daytime high during mid-October would be in the mid-60s. We would have rain some days, but mostly we had lovely cool and crisp weather. I sure do miss San Jose — especially right about now. My favorite time of the year is fall, and while I enjoy moderate climates with four distinct seasons, San Jose had by far the most “perfect” weather of any place I have lived. Of course, I hated the earthquakes and the traffic. Even now, San Jose is crowded, and the cost of living is sky high. I couldn’t make it there on a teacher’s salary for certain. I couldn’t afford rent, either. Sigh!

I am glad I lived there when I did (the late 1970s-1990s). Now, though, I am ready to move to another place, to another city where I can experience life in a new way. I guess you could say that I am ready to move on. I’ve been thinking a lot about moving, and about relocating for work for many years. I think the truth is that I am simply ready for a “change” of pace. I long for a different view, a new perspective, and a change that will bring some challenge to me. I hope to move next year, in May or early June, Lord willing. Of course, I will have to have a job by then, and I am dependent on the Lord for His provision to that end. Until I do move, I am mentally visualizing the whole process. I am thinking about locations, houses, decorating, and so forth — just so I can prepare myself for the real thing —when it happens, I mean. God has this well in hand, and with that assurance, I can rest in the details. He knows where He wants me settled, and He knows what my next steps are to be. I let this go, and I let Him bring the plans to fruition. I let Him do what He must, and I relax now as He prepares my way before Him. He is good, so very good to me!

In other news, I am home today on this blessed Sunday. My brother is visiting us from San Diego so we all stayed home from church to spend time with him. Tomorrow is my Dad’s 84th birthday, and my brother came over to go to dinner with us (tonight). I am thankful he is able to come to visit. I am thankful that he is willing to give up his time to come to visit. He is very busy with his business, yet he still makes the trip 2-3 times each year. My parents appreciate his visiting too, and we usually have a nice time together.

I can’t visit too much today since I have to complete my grading for my British Literature class. My prayer is that I can get everything done today so that I can post final grades by Wednesday (the due date). I also have to get myself prepared for the week, and I need to start to prep for my next series of courses at Regent University. I have to admit that I am busy with teaching. I do love that I am busy, though. I would rather be busy than be not — so praise to God — and thanks to His good name for His great gift of teaching contracts! Selah!


Thinking About Next Steps

My life is full right now. Mostly, it is full with teaching responsibilities and my dissertation, yet I have other things to take care of as well, and in all, my days, my weeks, and my months seem to be planned out. I don’t mind, really. I have never been very comfortable with the “go with the flow” way of life like some of my family and friends. I guess I am a planner by nature, and I like to know that my little ducks are all in a row, so to speak. I would rather be planned than not planned, and as such, I am very comfortable with boundaries and such. It is funny, but lately I have thought about planning and styles and the like simply from the standpoint that I have come to this place in time (in my life, I mean) whereby I need boundaries, fixed and stable boundaries. I need to know that what I expect to come to pass — will — come to pass, know what I mean? Some people are totally okay with flexible routines, schedules, and with not really knowing what each day will bring. There is always a measure of uncertainty in life, and I am not really talking about unforeseen circumstances or the chance for good/bad to happen. I get that, I do. I don’t have an issue with the variability of life. I know that my days belong to the Lord, and in this way, I am at His mercy and under His grace. I understand that my days are numbered as well. He knows my beginning and my end. It is just that lately I have come to realize how much I need to control the details of my life, in so much as I can control them. What I am getting at is this…for some people, being in control is a matter of power or authority whereas for others, being in control is a matter of comfort and routine. Let me explain…

I am part of the latter group. I need to know that certain things will happen each day at their appointed time. I am flexible, for sure, and I can handle change. I simply prefer to live a very controlled life that is predicated on what is already known. So for example, I go to bed at the same time and I wake up at the same time every single day. Sure, I may be off sometimes, but generally you will find me in bed by 11 and awake by 7 every single day. More so, I eat lunch and dinner about the same time every day as well. I find comfort in routine. I enjoy my boundaries, my “fixed zones,” and in this way, I find that I can rest and relax because I know what to expect.

I realize that it is impossible to know everything or to manage all expectations. I get it, and like I said, I understand and accept the variability of life. However, I also know that it is possible to live by fixed rules. It is a choice, really, to either live by a routine and schedule or to choose to live without one. Some people really like to “wing” things, and that is okay by me. However, I cannot do that without causing stress and upset (internal). I need to have my ducks in a row. Perhaps it is my OCD tendency, or perhaps it is just that over the course of my 54 years, I have come to learn that I am most settled and satisfied when things are stable, secure, and steady.

In my marriage, I lived without fixed boundaries for almost 30 years. In this constant pressure-cooker of an environment, I suffered great harm. In fact, I would say that I lived in a constant state of stress from the moment I married until the moment I found out I was to be single again. In the interim, I lived without boundaries, without fixed plans, and that variable setting caused me to suffer internally, mentally, and physically. The after effects of stress produced pain, headaches, stomach aches, and a nervous condition along with a deterioration of my mental state. In truth, I was a nervous wreck, and the longer I lived in this way, the more detrimental it became to my well-being.

Praise be to God, I am no longer in that place, but I still suffer with a lack of boundaries here in my home. Mostly, this is due to the fact that I live with my parents, and our life (collectively) is driven by their needs. I guess what I have come to realize, is that at this point in time, I simply need to live where I control all the outcomes and where I am not reliant upon anyone else. I need to be in control, and this means, in control of how I spend my days, how and where I live, and the way in which I live each and every day.

It has been a long time for me to accept my “lot” in life, and to come to terms with the fact that I struggle with control and with giving or letting others control my life. I am no longer willing to sacrifice or compromise in key areas of my life. I will always compromise, of course. And, yes, I will always sacrifice my time and my attention as the Lord leads, but I can no longer comfortably live where I am not able to call my own shots, so to speak.

It is weird to finally articulate it this way, but I have thought about this for a long, long time. I am simply not well-enough nor am I willing to place myself under any additional stress. I need to be at peace, and to create a place of rest whereby I can practice restoration of my mind, my body, and my health. You see, stress — prolonged and long term — stress can have life-shortening results. I have suffered from post-traumatic stress syndrome since I was a child. Then, I lived under another individual who controlled my life to such an extent that I had little authority over my own day. Now, that I have been set free, I have come to realize that in order to be well, really well — healthy emotionally and mentally — I have to be the one in control. I have to decide where I live, how I live, and the way in which I live so that I can manage my stress. This means that while there are times when I will not be in control, I understand that I have to work extra hard to make sure that all the other times are controlled (to the best of my ability).

In short, I have come to the place in my life where I am ready to say that I have to have “things” just so or else I will suffer physically, emotionally, and mentally again. It is not that I am complaining or saying I am weak, per se, it is just that I have accepted the fact that all the years of harm have made it impossible for me to live a normal life. My “normal” is a life that is clearly bounded, defined, and well-ordered. I have to live this way or else I cannot function. I will suffer physically, and as such, I will lose my sense of wellness.

Making Starts

I think what I am saying is the truth because the Lord has helped me come to this realization over the course of the past 6 years. In hindsight, I always thought it was odd that the Lord didn’t provide immediate solutions to me. Instead, He measured out His provision almost like a doctor prescribes medication for a medical condition. He gave me a little bit at a time, measure by measure, until I was able to handle more and more responsibility, and could take on the stress of a full-time job or of living on my own. As I reflect back on those early days, I remember how I was so desperate to be in control of my finances that I would beg the Lord to provide a job, any job, to me. He didn’t do it right away, and even though I would pray about it, time and time again, He said no or “not now.”  As I would pray about it, I would hear His still small voice say to me, “Rest, Carol. You must rest now.” He made me patiently wait to work, to move out on my own, to take on more and more control until I was ready to do so. I thought I was ready, but my Lord knew what was best for me. He made me wait because He knew that I needed to rest — I needed a really long, long, long rest.

Learning to rest was hard work, and in time, I did come to learn what “resting” means to the Lord. I learned that I needed downtime, physical and mental downtime. I needed time to heal from my emotional wounds, and I needed time to learn how to be single again. I struggled mightily at first, but in time, I came to appreciate the quiet solitude, the freedom to come and go as I please, and the power to say, “No,” when I didn’t feel well enough or feel up to doing something asked of me. As the days, weeks, and months wore on,  I came to enjoy my new found freedom. I came to enjoy living my life as I determined best. It was difficult for a long time, and I often wondered if I was making a right choice, a good decision, or whether I was following the Lord or my own selfish desires. In the end, though, I learned that I could discern between His will and my own. I learned that I could trust Him to provide for me, and I learned that in trusting the Lord to guide me through the decision making process, I could rest assured that He would also lead me to His promised outcome and reward. I learned that leaning on, trusting in, and relying upon the Lord was everything I needed to insure that I would not end up worse off than I started. I learned that the Lord was really my Good Shepherd, and as such, He was there to protect me and to keep me safe.

In all this process, I have been healed from so much hurt, the feelings of abandonment, and the disappointment that comes with significant failure. I’ve learned my boundaries are fixed by the Lord, and that in that way, I have had to learn where I begin and end, and where He begins and ends. You see, in this relationship that I share with the Lord, there are things that are in His purview and then there are things that are well within the limits of my own abilities. I had to learn what I can and cannot do, and in a like manner, I had to learn what He is able to do in and through me. In this way, I learned boundaries from Him. I learned how to lean on, abide in, and rely on Him for my everything. I learned proper order of things, what is my will and what is His will, and what I should do daily as part of our relationship. I learned how to be in relationship with the Lord, if that makes sense. I learned that our friendship is dynamic and not static. It is not about me always having my way or about me never taking any responsibility. No, rather it is about the way in which we walk together, Him and me, and how our journey processes along despite the hiccups, the odds and ends, and the trials that appear to come at me from a distance. I have learned how to be a companion and a friend to the Lord, and what matters is that this friendship is predicated upon His will for my life. I didn’t become His friend of my own accord. He granted me permission to be His friend, and it has been through His grace and mercy, His goodness, that I have been able to walk with Him as a friend, a companion, and a fellow worker walks.

As I begin to think about moving, physically moving, I realize that I cannot take this next bold step of faith until I am ready, really ready to do so. The Lord has said to me that I am ready, yet, I feel at times so overwhelmed by the process of it. I worry about it, fret over it, wonder and think (ponder) about the logistics of it. Yet, from deep inside of me I feel so strongly about moving, about being on my own again, about being in control and being responsible. I feel this movement swell within me and I believe that the Lord is telling me to “get ready, to be prepared, to make plans” because the time is coming when I will be given the “all clear,” the green light, and I will go. I will leave my parents home, and I will move across the country to settle in a new and unknown place. I will go to a place where I have never been before, and I will engage in business there (teaching), and I will live there for the rest of my life. I will conduct business, I will meet new people, and I will set down roots in this place of His choosing. I will no longer see my life as my own, but rather I will see it as His perfect and precise will for me, and in this way, I will know with such certainty that I am exactly where He wants me to be. I will be free, finally free, from the cords that have bound me to this place in time, from the pain and the sorrow of the memories of a life lived without joy, and from the oppressive influences that have followed me time and time again because of my unwillingness to stand for the Lord, to follow after Him, and to trust and rely upon Him. I will be free, and I will be at peace, at rest, and in a place of utter security. I will be safe. I will be protected. I will be provided for, cared for, and nurtured. I will be where He wants me to be, and in that thought, I find such hope, such goodness, mercy, and kindness.

Moving on is hard to do, but sometimes moving on is the best thing one can do. New doors are waiting to be opened, new opportunities are ready to be tested. In all, my life has become new again, brand new. I am excited, filled with eager anticipation, and so ready to step out and to go where He is sending me. He is good to me, so very good to me. Today, I give Him praise. I honor His holy name, and I lift up a sacrifice of praise for the Lord, my God, is good to me. He is good, so very good to me. I love you, Lord. Thank you for the privilege and for the opportunity to know you as my Lord, my Savior, and my Friend.


In Closing

As I close out this blog post today, I marvel at His willingness to show me how to become the person He has created me to be. He is patient and kind to me. He cares for me, loves me, and shelters me as I learn how to walk on after Him. He helps me, always seeking what is best for me. He goes before me, prepares my way, and makes all things possible so that I can be successful in what I do. My hand prospers because He has made the way smooth. He has clarified my purpose, and He has shown me the truth of His great mercy, His goodness, and His abiding love. He is good to me, so very good to me. I give Him all praise, all honor, and all glory this good, good day! Selah!

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