the unbearable raw

Rawness is hard and tender.

There is a draw, a pull to stare and at the same time, a compulsion to avert the eyes and look away,

because how can you look at something so unbearably chaffed and not try to alleviate the discomfort, to help heal the wound, to apply a sweet balm and make all the coarseness go away? Either you must try to forget it or do something to help. So, we try:

“you will get through this.”

“things will get better”

“just give it time”

“don’t give up hope”

“be strong”

but what about when the rubbing doesn’t stop and months and years go by and you are still living with the rawness, reliving the crude spikes of tenderness, like waves splashing over and over against the cliffside, taking away a little bit more and more and more, barely noticeable, but then, one day, it all splits and crashes into the sea.

And you swear you hear the waves roaring with laughter at another bit of you worn down and snuffed out.  A fresh new side now exposed to begin the process again, and you’re not sure how much more you can take before there is nothing left of you at all.

You ask yourself all the what ifs and feel the rubbing and the burning feeling again. What if I had said something different?  What if I had stayed instead of ran away? What if I been more? Less? 

There are always what ifs, past, present, upcoming.

What ifs don’t solve anything though.

They don’t patch up tears in our hearts or seal lost moments away for us to forget about. We ask them, even though we know we can’t change the past. We open up the wound again and again, picking at the scab until we finally decide we really shouldn’t be doing that and pull our sleeve back over it, hoping for no infection.

At some point, we need to stop asking “what if” and begin to ask, “what now”.

What now provides a path to healing and real change. It invites us to lift our chin a little and brush off the dirt and step toward a new path. We can look at our past choices and acknowledge what has happened, allowing our life to be seen for what it is, and then turn away and move forward.

What now involves us in the present.

Instead of being focused on the past or the distant future, what now asks us to look at what is right in front of us and determine what good thing there is to do next.

It is a simple practice and one that helps tremendously when I am trying to be mindful and at peace with what is going on around me on any given day. It keeps me focused on goodness and love, on slowing down and taking care of others and myself.

It requires sacrifice and an openness and awareness of new opportunities that might present themselves. And it is freeing.

-bec

finding balance

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I have had so many thoughts swarming my mind, but every time I sit to write, nothing really seems to matter enough to put into words.

I have been tired and slow and fast and life is wonderful and hard and challenging and easy.  Balance is found in the tension and some days are harder than others, but I have found that when I become less preoccupied with all the things I want to get done in a certain time frame, and slow down and not try to accomplish so much so fast, I see more moments.

moments like the giggling and cooperation of my children playing a game together, when my older is displaying patience and gentleness toward his little sister.

the little expressions that I am never ready to catch on a camera, but leave an imprint inside of me, perhaps more deeply because I know its the only record of it.

small conversations that are mundane yet important.

the deep soul look into my husband’s eyes that allows us to re-connect and remember why we are here together and sometimes it speaks more than the words.

Many blogs and articles I have seen popping up on feeds and blogs I follow have seemed to follow this theme of balance.

I couldn’t agree more that living a life that is balanced is essential to our health and that of those around us.

But I also feel like many of these posts have been pointing to this idea of never being extreme, never allowing ourselves to believe in something deep enough that we become a little “obsessed” for a while, because something else will suffer and thus, we will find ourselves “out of balance”.  But some times, something is already suffering and we don’t even realize it, because it is our “normal”.

I don’t advocate obsession.  My husband has a habit of becoming very one-track minded.  I have known this about him since we first started dating, and over the years I have gotten used to this tendency and in our relationship we tend to balance each other out (me going every direction, him only one) but at times, it still drives me crazy.

At times, however, becoming more focused on something in particular is beneficial.  What are we doing when we enroll ourselves in school?  We are focusing in on something specific for an extended period of time in order to master the subject.  We place authority figures (teachers, mentors) above us in order that we are put in a place of accountability to help us maintain this focus and discipline.

Do we expect to do this forever?  Of course not.  I don’t think we would do it if that were the case.  Think of medical students.  I can only imagine what they feel after the years of intense training they go through, and how they stay motivated in the midst of it.  After schooling is over, when the discipline has been learned to an extent, it becomes a part of us.  We can now use those skills and depth of understanding we have learned in a practical way, and soon there is a new area to learn balance in.

I have seen this in my own life many, many times.  Some times I share the things that we decide to try and I am sure to some I have come off as legalistic, extreme, and foolish.  For me, doing is integral to learning.

And many times, after doing something a bit “extreme” for a time, I see firsthand the benefits or cons in my life and adjust. This is how I learn to balance.

Balance does not mean that every day I spend a certain allotment of time doing specific things.  I believe life is more holistic than that.  There are seasons.  I think of the Jewish calendar and how it has so many feasts and holidays to observe through out the year.  They signify different times of our life, a rhythm.  There is time to rest to feast to fast to celebrate to mourn.  They are reminders to hold us accountable so we flourish, so we stay humble, so we remember.

I don’t have any clear answers of what this means on an individual basis.  What it looks like for you or me to live a balanced life.  We learn what to say no to, what to embrace, some times we follow a gut feeling.

For me, I know that I am not perfect, and to appear as such is not my goal.  I know I would love everyone to think that I am always gentle and kind and disciplined and self-sacrificing, but while I occasionally can be described as this and have come a long way in the past few years, I am not.

I can be very mean-spirited and judgmental.  Some times I treat my children like a mean older sibling would their younger.  Some times I sit around in my pajamas half the day and hardly get anything done.  I’ll eat extra pie. I say mean things about others.  I gossip.  I think up all sorts of great comebacks and comments to justify myself against someone I think has me all figured out (thankfully I don’t usually think of these until much later when I am not able to say them, but still I am intentionally thinking up words to harm someone).  I think awful thoughts about others to make myself feel better about myself. I compare.

Thankfully, oh so thankfully, I have a loving and supportive family that sees beyond these awful traits to something more valuable.  They remember me at my best and over time, forget and forgive the worst.  Some times balance comes over a long period of time, as we test and try and learn and become more refined.  It is a constant process.  We need to be willing to be wrong at times and change our minds and make the best decisions we can about what we will do and pursue.

It is hard, because it will not always be understood by others, and at times we may not really be sure about what we’re doing ourselves.  Here we need to extend grace not only to ourselves, but toward those who see things differently.

To be willing to listen, because perhaps we are wrong,

learn to discuss without tearing each other apart,

be open to having parts of our lives challenged, although I’ll admit that I am not always at that point or ready for it,

and to realize that things can take time and some things will never happen during our lifetime.

– b.e.