Monday, August 8, 2011

foundations



In light of some life changing news in the last two weeks, I found myself angrily and defensively asking myself and God questions like:

‘How can I be a good mom when I haven’t ‘grown up’ yet, or without good foundations, and good role models…?’

Of course, at 35, I have some level of maturity and responsibility, but I feel constantly challenged in some key areas of my character, and often fail to be the person I want to be – especially in certain situations… My relationship with my own mother is also a constant source of frustration, confusion, and stress - even though we have both tried in recent years to rebuild and restore it…

I am sure many people can identify with these fears and insecurities, but on the surface everyone looks to me as if they have it all together, know exactly who they are and what they are doing with their lives.

While these thoughts have been mocking and taunting me, it has been impossible to feel excited or peaceful about what lies ahead. It is with great relief that I came across some notes I made recently, after listening to someone speak about ‘strong foundations’.

What follows is a bit of a conversation I had with myself, which I am now applying to my heart and soul again – a much-needed balm of grace and the peace that comes from resting in God, our Father. I hope by sharing these random thoughts, maybe some others will find a bit of comfort and encouragement.

‘Who do I need to be to accomplish the things I want to accomplish with my life?’

Notice I didn’t say in my life, as in: ambition and personal goals in a shallow sense; but with my life, as in: by offering my life towards building something, contributing towards a better world, giving life and enriching the lives of others…

I need some time and spiritual impartation to fully answer this question, and its intertwined, inseparable question, ‘what do I want to accomplish with my life?’

If this is a question of needing a stronger foundation to support the bigger and heavier things God may want to give me, or build into my life…then how can I retrospectively strengthen my foundations - is it even possible?

Of course with God all things are possible – and with God being omniscient, it is surely not implausible to suggest that He knew long ago what He wanted for me and from me, and would have been building these things in me already – all along the way.

I am no surprise to God. He knows me intimately, better than I know myself in many ways, because none of us can bear to look too deeply into the dark recesses of our own souls- we all have blind spots and self-deception or denial.

We need to tackle these weak areas on the path to maturity and growth and healing… BUT I am not sure if any of us manage to reach full self knowledge in this journey we call life. It’s too difficult to sustain an ongoing self awareness at that level, and anyway there is so much more to life than looking inward…God would not wish us to spend our whole lives only on looking at ourselves and our shortcomings or areas needing improvement.

That’s probably why God deals with things gradually, in manageable increments, and sometimes doesn’t address certain issues in our hearts and lives at all. Think of all the other people you know who have glaring issues, yet are used mightily by God to impact others. Although their all-too-human habits may be obvious to us, they carry on for years, or maybe their whole lives, without these issues being addressed in an obvious way, much to our annoyance!

So it seems, mercifully and graciously, God leads us on this journey slowly, carefully, lovingly…not with a ruler poised, ready to rap us on the knuckles, and not with pen and notebook ready to record every misplaced step… and this is how we should remind ourselves to view others. More love and grace, less judgement and nitpicking. How about applying this to ourselves too- being gentle with ourselves, even as we push ourselves to keep going onward and upward…

Now back to foundations: whatever is in there, is probably beyond changing by now. I can’t rewind time and avoid the mistakes I made first time around, and the resulting wounds and baggage… Anyway a lot of our foundations are built by others – our parents and teachers, for example. In an ideal world, this would mean they poured in love, acceptance, encouragement, and a host of other essential ingredients into building the foundations that would support a secure, whole, balanced, well-adjusted person one day.

Not many of us had that though, and even many who did have, later in life wobbled a bit anyway… human being and identity is such a complex, fragile thing. So if I don’t have those foundations, it is tempting, but pointless to blame those who did not live up to their roles as foundation builders in my life (probably because their own foundations were so compromised they had no ‘overflow’ to impart to the next generation).

Feeling angry and sorry for myself will only take me further away from being the person I need to be to live my life to the fullest, and be a blessing to others – to add value (not merely survive) and break all the self-centered, self-serving, wounded, unforgiving and fearful cycles I see in relationships around me through the generations.

What is needed to do that, is the ability to accept myself as I am, while of course still trying to improve, fill in the gaps, strengthen the weak points, and so on…but realistically, I am never going to be like those whose foundation builders took their responsibility seriously, and really wove priceless gems into the very fabric of their beings… as I hope to do for our little one in the years ahead.

So where does God come into this? God can and has miraculously reformed many aspects of my character - which is another way of talking about foundations – and I pray and trust God will continue to do that for me. I am just not sure how much, or what, or when God will change me.

That sounds very passive, it’s not – there is a substantial amount of pleading, praying, yearning, striving for change in my heart, my life, ME. But there is a massive amount of leaning on God, because without the grace and guidance and spiritual input, true change is not only difficult or unimaginable, but exhausting.

It’s exhausting to never be happy with who you are, or to feel you have nothing to be “proud” of (in a good way), to never feel good enough… we all need to be loved and accepted for who we are, even (or especially) along the way to healing and maturity.

So for now, perhaps that’s all I can say about this question of foundations. For now, it’s probably all I can bear – I am too tired to go further and end up with yet another self-improvement list or end up in the space of ‘woe is me for missing out on all this, now I can never do anything meaningful with my life and no one will ever like me either…’

I have got to find my way to a safe space, where I can just ‘be’, and trust that everything will be okay, even though I haven’t got all the right foundations in place. Perhaps because I don’t, God could use me in ways He couldn’t use a more ‘stable’ and confident person, who knows?

So here we go, Father, here I am again – surrendering to you, your amazing love and grace – falling into your arms, because I can no longer keep dragging my feet along this path…for now I just need to rest in YOU.

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