Learning to Expand

I began writing this post a little over 3 weeks after I birthed our third sweet child into my arms.

He is now 9.5 months and I am just revisiting this draft.

The story of his birth I will save for another day, but as I pushed him out, I screamed and gasped for air and my midwife told me to slow down and that I could safely hold him a moment under the surface of the water, gracefully allowing him to float up toward me and everything just stopped.

I stared at this beautiful face that I couldn’t even imagine a day before, and my heart swelled.  As my abdomen, which had homed his tiny body for 9 months prior slowly collapsed, my heart expanded.

This feels so natural and unreal at the same time.  How can one person feel such love?

But my nature – and I believe our basic human nature – is to contract.

I want to be comfortable. I want to take care of my immediate needs and my family.  I want to do the things that make me happy and not really think about the impact my decisions have on others.

I am a selfish person, but the more selfish I become, the more blind and empty and callous I am to the needs of others. And the smaller I become.

Now, love.  Love is hard. It may include the feeling I get while holding my sweet, milk soaked baby, heaving soft breaths up and down, up and down, against my chest.

Or the swelling of pride and joy as I look into my sons eyes and see his compassionate heart played out in front of me.

My husband when he wraps his arms around me and tells me he loves me and I know that he means every single part of me, the squishy bits and the broken parts that are still healing and lash out critically at times.

But it is more.

It is sacrifice and surrender and strength.

It is the loss of sleep and the bouncing of the babe when he can’t settle on his own and nothing seems to help him.

It is the steady acceptance and kind discipline toward my older children when they don’t quite get it “right”.

It is the believing the truth my husband speaks to me and exercising grace when we disagree.

It is giving time to another person.

It is listening when there are so many other things to do.

It is offering resources to someone even when (and perhaps, especially) when it is an inconvenience to myself.

It is feeling deeply and mourning with others.

It is being available, even when there are no words.

It is constant.

So.

While I often find myself saying I wish my plate was smaller, instead, I am finding myself longing to expand in love. Beginning with myself and spreading out to my family, friends, and the world beyond.

– bec

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What my ink means to me

 

inkmeanstomeThis year has brought about a lot of inward changes in myself that are just beginning to surface.

For most of my life, I have been so focused on who I don’t want to be, what I don’t want to be associated with, how I never want to come across as.

So I previously began to distance myself from these people and places and ways of living and organizations.  Although I don’t know if I always chose the best route, I do believe that this was an essential part of where I am today and I found that it is some times necessary to cut off areas of our life that are unhealthy.

Only recently have I realized that my focus has shifted.

I am no longer so concerned about who I don’t want to be.  I am starting to look forward to and embrace who I actually want to be.

And it is an empowering and exciting new direction in my life.

Instead of isolating and distancing myself from others, I am wanting to find those who already have much in common with where I feel called to be and surround myself with them.

Words are powerful and meaningful.  I think of Jesus words when he defines Peter’s name as the “rock” in context of how his church will be formed.

How did receiving that word shape his identity?  Who he believed himself to be and thus who he saw himself become?

It is similar when people speak words into our lives and something about it rings true and deep within and we somehow just know there is something to it.  And we remember it.  And it helps shape us.  It gives us a new lens in which we see our life and selves.

I wonder how different would we be if we hadn’t received certain words in our life?

The child who grows up being told how well they excel and intelligent they are.

The one who is more rambunctious when young and blamed for many circumstances.

The A+ student,the class clown, the tough guy or girl, the ladies man, the useless loser wasting away their lives, any type of person you have ever met or can categorize.  How much of this comes from the messages being sent to them from others?

Some are not so easily defined or found.  We are fairly good at adapting and fitting in when we need to.

But this is all part of life.  We can’t remove ourselves from it.  It is part of who we are and there is nothing to do about it.

Except.

Through the death and resurrection of Christ, we are given a new name.

We are co-heirs with Christ.

Set free from the bondage of the titles we have been so carelessly given and have so easily accepted.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.

Freedom to be who we are, to celebrate the diversity there is between us.

In the past year, I have found a few words that have taken on a deep meaning in my life that I have felt become part of my identity.

 

September 013eucharisteo.

I was first introduced to this word while reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.  It is taken from the gospel of Luke, where it is translated as “he gave thanks”.

The root of this word is “Charis”, which is grace, and also contains the derivitave “chara” which means joy. (here is a conversation with Ann Voskamp if you would like to read further about the meaning she has personally found behind this word)

For me, this simple word becomes a reminder of finding grace and joy in giving thanks for even the smallest things in life, and beyond that, to extend that hopefully outward to others.

peacetatoo2Peace, be still

This is a small and simple phrase.  It’s the beginning to a song by Elevation Worship called, “all things new” which embodies the message that Christ wants to restore all things to their proper place and have all creation share in the fullness of his peace.

march 008

bold

Earlier this year, I wrote a post about this which you can view here.  This word has acted as a catalyst for me in many ways.  To be bold in my gifts, abilities, identity, and faith is a challenge and it is causing me to grow.

I am not deciding to do things just for the sake of being bold, but rather I am no longer shying away from the things that I am passionate about because of the words of uncertainty I have accepted in my life for so long.

I am tired of striving so hard to fit into a mold that is not made for me or to impress certain people or to seem so perfect that I don’t do anything out of fear of failure.

I believe that as followers of Christ, as those who are to bring a message of hope and peace and kingdom principles here on earth, a great amount of boldness is needed.

– b.e.

further reading:

Your Name In Christ – (in)courage blog

Seeking the Peace of Christ: Christianity and Peacemaking

Justice = Forgiveness – EmergingAnabaptist