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Essay: April- releasing control

Releasing control

We live in a washing machine of change. Transition fatigue, overwhelm and stress. Fear and worry, ask us daily whether we will make it through this pandemic? It makes sense that when the world feels out of control, then maybe if we hold tighter, things will feel less out of control.

Tighter,

Smaller,

Keep Everything Contained.

I’ve gone back to therapy in the last couple of months for the first time in a long time. I believe that the greatest gift we can give our future selves is the beauty of insight and growth. With the passing of my Dad, the pandemic, the constant change in all spheres of my life, the pressure of parenting children through this season, I knew I needed some strategy.

Anxiety would rise when I couldn’t hold all the things in my hands. The same stories were looping my mind, asking for attention. Early morning wake ups without a reason to rise. I found myself trying to make my world smaller and smaller, through control and worry. If only I could clean the whole house and keep it clean longer, then I would be okay. I would plan out conversations and try to keep things contained.

Sitting in the chair across from a stranger was actually so liberating. Someone with no context, who’s role is to hold space without judgement, like a car service for my soul. The capacity to field out the unspeakable and face difficulty with courage.

I am three sessions in and I know I have many more to go. I am learning so much about this constant state of tension and control that I am trying to plan out all the different scenarios of the future, in a season that is completely out of control.

I am learning about releasing the seeds of faith and letting wildflowers grow, in places of the future, that are completely outside of my capacity. This is the walk of faith to release what we think is our role and surrender to a walk of beauty and grace.

“Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you.”

Luke 12: 27-28

An interesting reflection on control is although it makes me feel safe in the moment, it creates unnecessary tension for circumstances that may never happen. As we have been unpacking a few stories, I have realised that I have learnt to create strategy upon strategy in the land of What if! I have learnt to hold responsibility for the wildflowers to grow. Holding onto the places, the colours and the environment.

When as I even write that I know is impossible, but when we learn these strategies from a young age, they are not sensible, they have become copy mechanisms, holding defence to those vulnerable places. You see the energy we give to control is expansive. The tension, requires energy, as if we are holding a tightrope for others to walk across. Our arms get heavy, our breath labours and we tire.

Maybe you are thinking, why does my stress matter? There is a world who is writhing in pain, people who have lost their whole family? But pain is not a tool of comparison. We all have seasons of loss, no matter the breadth and width of its impact.

The what if scenarios, are sneaky, they seem like they are only little thoughts hovering in the background, but they require energy, effort and focus. That which is often taken away from the people who are in my everyday. They rob us of the capacity to stay calm in our today, not worrying about what is to come tomorrow.

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

Matthew 6: 34

Control asks me to hold space for something in the future, that I don’t have the full understanding of what can actually happen. It seems like a helpful defence mechanism but in fact we are locked in a holding pattern, waiting for the circumstances to come into reality.

The problem is, what if it doesn’t happen. We gave all this energy to something that was but a breath of wind, nothing, tumbleweeds of our mind. The answer is presence and fluidity.

“The reason many people in our society are miserable, sick, and highly stressed is because of an unhealthy attachment to things they have no control over.”

Steve Maraboli

Just like the way we grip a pencil, to write beautiful calligraphy or write. If we hold the utensil too tightly the writing is messy and illegible. There is a fluidity required of the paintbrush and the pencil , these tools of expression require a loose hold to create straight and legible lines.

The moment when we hold the pencil too tight and our writing becomes a mess.

Our life needs that same loose grip of fluidity and response. When we hold onto the possibility and responsibility of the future through control, we miss out on the beauty of the spontaneous, the present and peace that is available in that moment.

As you are waiting in this season- can you release control?

As things change constantly in this season- can you release control?

As we step towards an unknown future- can you release control?

These are the complex learnings in this season of transition and change. I know you feel tired, I do also. I know you feel unsure, I do also. I know it seems easier to make things smaller and more contained, I also have tried this coping mechanism.

What if the answer of presence was available where we allow the end result of our tomorrow to be held in the hands of the One, who knows the very hairs on our heads. He knows the colours of the wildflowers, destined for our tomorrow. He is capable and compassionate towards our story and it’s conclusion.

His name is written across the stars and held captive in chorus by the trees in the forrest. He is able. He is fighting for us. He is bringing together goodness, in the midst of the world that is aching.

He is able.

In this season what are you trying to control?

Can you take a moment right now and place it back in His hands? Release with praying and journaling below in the comments, to give back to Him the responsibility of the outcomes. Taking deep breaths in this moment and write yourself a reminder for this coming month, the ways that you can release control and stay present in this very moment.

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Essay: Finding Anger Mid-Air

If you asked me “what makes you angry?” a few years ago, I would have replied with “not much!”

It was a subtle, warm afternoon in Bali. I was sitting in a room in a writing retreat and an earthquake of emotion unravelled, quietly through my veins. The topic of the retreat was re-writing your story and learning about your defence mechanisms. I was a speaker for the event, but I had so much to learn and rewriting of my own story.

It has taken me a year and a half to truly own that moment in that room, overseas on a humid October afternoon. I needed to be honest with myself. It was a learning of owning my own story and truly allowing myself to say: I actually feel angry all the time.

The frustration I feel bubbling just below the surface, is a deep sense of resentment for always wanting to do the right thing and bitterness that tastes stark, when my boundaries are crossed constantly.

I do feel angry.

I hate it when…

Being able to say those words out loud has taken months of journaling, reading, talking and honesty. The word hatred had been completely repressed in my life, to the point I could honestly say I don’t hate anyone. I allowed people to cross boundaries, I let people off, not wanting to cause a fuss and I felt frustrated all the time.

The thing is about anger or insert whatever big emotion that you try to suppress or dissolve, unless we are honest enough to ourselves to actually let that emotion surface, it will grow and fester, like a wound uncared for, creating an infection of sorts.

Feeling anger is not bad, it’s what we learn to do with it, that is the place where we cause harm. Suppressing anger, may not harm others, but it indeed harms .

I was recently flying for the first time in over a year and contextually with a global pandemic, it felt even more privileged than it usually does. There is something about flying that opens my heart up to reflection and the power of pressing reset. It is very rare when I am flying on a plane, that I don’t write and this last trip was no different.

There is something about being far away from my everyday circumstances that opens up perspective like nothing else. After a year like 2020 when so much changed and there were emotions bubbling under the surface, I pulled out a pencil and wrote ferociously.

And suddenly then my old hide and seek friend, appeared on my page. Anger, hatred, frustration and fear danced across the page extravagantly. Something happened, that is hard to explain, but a waterfall of anger fell out onto the page. I found myself writing over and over and over and over, so that the page became a scribble of words, that no one could read. A place of deep healing and therapy their in that cocoon in the sky.

A piece of paper that became a bunch of scribbles that allowed my fury to flow, ended in a pile of tears and the knowledge in clear application in front of me, that writing truly does heal. As we take the time to empty ourselves of the big emotions, that we are trained to hold quiet within, there was a realisation that being angry is not a sin. Truly its the way that we use that emotion to bring colour, honesty and life, processing that emotion we are told that is bad.

When was the last time you felt angry?

What did you do with that emotion?

We don’t need to be in an airplane seat to do this exercise for insight and healing, all we need is a piece of paper, some quiet and privacy, then write to allow all of your emotions to have the space they require. In this season of Autumn, here in Australia, I am learning to allow myself to feel those big emotions and to process them in ways that release their control and bring change.

Reminding myself that the stories from my childhood that tell me “Stop crying, you are too loud or children should be seen and not heard” create narratives that hold emotions trapped beneath the surface. Relearning the narratives of not being enough and allowing people to overstep boundaries, to please people and keep the peace, in the end will always bring pain.

A quick list of ways that you can allow your anger to be seen, felt and listened to, without shouting:

  1. Allow yourself to acknowledge the emotion. (maybe through a conversation, journaling or deep breaths asking for insight).
  2. Remind yourself that it is okay to feel what you are feeling.
  3. Identify why you are feeling that emotion and what triggered it.

As you take the time to acknowledge, remind yourself it is okay and identify why you are feeling this emotion, insight will be present and change will begin to occur.

Anger is not bad. Holding space for that feeling and allowing it to teach you may be the greatest lesson you give yourself this year. Learning why this emotion is holding us captive and freedom awaits us on the other side.

Anger and Journaling help you to reframe your story.
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Essay: January

2021 essay january

“But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”

Luke 5: 16

The world is so noisy right now. Platforms, apologies, righteous anger and sinfulness.

And I have withdrawn to lonely places and prayed.

Amid these awkward desert places, I have questioned what answers can be found in a culture that seems to be splitting at the seams. How can we recover from a year where everything changed?

And, I don’t have any answers, really. When I try to fix all the broken pieces together, my brain struggles to comprehend the complexity of it all.

But He does.

He calls freedom in the desert places. He shouts purpose amid loss. He draws us to lonely places, to remember the sacrifice that changed this tidal surge.

Freedom shouts at the doorways of hope beckoning a listening ear, but can we perceive its call. Can we hear its song?

Freedom whispers at the school gates and in the council office corners. Can we understand the beauty of its surrender?

The sound of freedom is a voice that is emancipated, a story free to be told. Friendships that remember the best in one another and bounty shared across each divide. The sound of freedom is seeking out the truth, rather than sharing another conspiracy theory. The sound of freedom is children singing, unaware of the cacophony of hatred being spun around their playgrounds.

What does it mean to withdraw and pray?

Each night there is a liturgy that draws me to questions that help refine the noise that bombards our modern life, called the Daily Examen

It is a place of safety and quiet, that brings perspective and peace. It is where I feel most known, understood and cared for. This serenity is hard to explain and is often mocked by those who misunderstand my intention. It is where answers come quickly some days and others feel like they slowly unravel across a lifetime.

It is a dance filled with playful desire and longing.(It feels naughty to write that out loud.) Who made desire a sinful thing?

The one who made the deepest parts of our hearts, created our longing to be the missing puzzle in finding peace and solitude. Rather than a place to feel shame and misrepresentation. Playful surrender in the way that we pray and live in relationship with a spirituality birthed in pain, pleasure and satisfaction.

This dance that calls me towards those quiet places, moments where time stands still. Remembering the beauty of humanity and the grounded-ness we all seek.

What if I told you there was another way?

There is a new rhythm emerging that laughs in the face of hustle culture. To Embrace Slow as a lifestyle, where we honour the everyday moments, right in the middle of the muddle. The messy, ordinary moments of being human. To notice those who swim alongside us in the pool. To breathe deeply, when comparison becomes our only measure of success. To find friendship with the most unlikely of companion and smile deeply at the gap between both our lived experiences.

What about living in a new story?

A quiet revolution is happening, as there is an unmuzzling of voices, who are determined to sing their song. A growing company of women and men, who are discontent to live the way their childhood held them captive, rewriting the story of their lives. Living wide AWAKE.

I learnt throughout January, the beauty of living a quiet life of contemplation and prayer. Learning that living a life of success and surrender often means the most satisfying things we experience don’t need to be broadcast to the world.

My Journalling prompt for January:

What does success in 2021 feel like for you?

“The most convincing sign that someone is truly living their best life, is their lack of desire to show the world that they’re living their best life. Your best life won’t need validation”

Steven Bartlett.

So this year, 2021, from my writing desk, it is going to be a little quieter. I will be publishing one essay per month, emailed out to my inner circle email list only. I will be hosting very limited, private events and for the first time since the advent of social media, I have made all my pages private.

My word for the year is PLAYFUL and my scripture from the process I did through REFLECT is…

1 Thess 4: 11.

Tell me in the comments below, what is your word for the year or a scripture/ quote that has inspired you from the reflect process?