Paradox of Full: When We Think We Are, We Aren’t

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I recently read a blog that contained an excerpt of The Heidelberg Confession. I had to pause for reflection as I read:

“Q. What is your only comfort in life and in death?
A. That I am not my own, but belong – body and soul, in life and in death – to my faithful Saviour, Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil. He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven; in fact, all things must work together for my salvation. Because I belong to him, Christ, by his Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him.”

What is my only comfort in life and in death? I can with all assurance say that I believe the answer above is my confession. But my life experience will show that I have not experienced the truth of those words. Not here, not now. I believe there is a future day when I will be with Christ and my fullness in Him will be realized. But can I experience that fullness now? Can you experience that fullness now? Perhaps. But our potential is blocked by the madness of sin in our lives. The sins that have been committed against us and the sins we have committed against ourselves and others. And these sins, at times, confuse the signals in our brains and cause us to feel empty when we really aren’t. I over-eat to compensate for my emptiness. While I have never been morbidly obese, the eating behavior is still present. It is hard-wired in my brain and tells me that eating is a pleasurable activity and I can feel full any time I want. Of course this is not true and many other people would attest to that, because we have to keep eating more and more. So, what is happening here is at the root of desire.

Every living thing on the planet has been given the gift of desire. Desires drive us toward fulfillment. We desire to be full or to be filled. We are motivated to seek fulfillment over and over. Why? Because we also experience emptiness. When we are empty we look for something to fill us again. We don’t like the feeling of emptiness, so we seek to be filled. This is good desire.

While our desires are common,( need for food, water, intimacy, etc) the expression of those desires (what we desire, where we desire, and with whom we desire) are as varied as each individual. Our past experiences, our culture and our families, in many ways, shape the expression of our desires. While the desires themselves have been declared by God to be “good,” sin and suffering has affected every part of our being as humans and that includes our desires.

The paradox is this: We attain to be filled here and now, and while we can have some fulfillment we can’t have it all. Everytime we engage in eating or sexual relations, sports, recreational activities, building our families, worshiping God (collectively or individually), we have to keep coming back to be filled and filled again. Because we get empty. We don’t like empty. And this is especially true of people who have been abused or are experiencing abuse of some kind.That is because their brain has lost the ability to recognize their own feeling of empty and full. So,some turn to sexual promiscuity, or they develop eating disorders, or eat more than their body can metabolize. They turn to drugs or alcohol to escape the unavoidable emptiness that is so much a part of their life.There is a heightened desire, almost a feeling of desperation to be filled all the time, but they cannot attain it.

Here is the solution: Since we can’t avoid emptiness on this side of heaven, we can choose to be grateful for the feeling of emptiness because it ultimately brings us to the only one who can fill us completely. He fills us with His Spirit for this life He has called us to. Everytime we feel empty we are reminded that we are totally dependent on God for our food, for our health and for our joy in living. Yes,on earth, we need to be filled over and over again. Because we belong to God and He has given every provision for us to come to Him for filling, we can know that in Heaven we will be filled with Himself and we will have no need for any other fulfillment. He is the Bread of Life, the Living Water and the Door by which we will enter into an eternity of riches that have been promised to anyone who is acquainted with physical and emotional hunger in this life. There will be no more cravings or hunger of any kind.

I want to leave my emptiness behind me. I want to be filled by the Spirit of the living God. I can give myself wholly to the Christ who emptied Himself so that I could receive His fullness. The Heidelberg confession lets us realize this dependence on the finished work of Christ, for our fulfillment now, and at the time of our death when we are finally emptied of this body that we carry on earth. Come with me on this journey, together we will discover the endless provisions of an Almighty God!

The Burden of Lifespan Integration

I believe in the neuro-plasticity of the brain. I believe that what was hardwired as a child can be rewired as an adult. I understand that one of the premises of Lifespan Integration (LI) is that many of us get stuck in certain behaviors and modes of thinking that served us well as children, but are no longer useful or healthy as adults in our relating to others. Therefore, LI can be used to show people who are open to this form of therapy that they are no longer stuck in their circumstances as a child, but in fact they have grown up and new ways of responding, being and doing are accessible and lead to life instead of a powerless existence. Well and good.

Sometimes belief in something does not necessarily turn into reality. For instance, I have been participating in LI with my therapist as my coach for nearly 4 years. At times I have felt this was very successful at alleviating tanger abandonmenthe horror of some childhood memories. Today, however, I felt mired in my own fear and even my time-line, which is a vital part of the LI process, betrayed me. Every memory that was the timeline cue for the passage of time, became infused with fear and anger toward the person who had wronged me. I don’t recall ever having this person’s approval for anything I have ever done and yet I was so terrified of being abandoned that I made it my aim in life to continue to seek her approval. For some reason this felt like a double bind today instead of being released from the grip of fear that has made me feel that my one responsibility in my life is to make everyone around me happy (or at least happy with me). I have never tolerated not being liked, and when hurtful accusations are made against me, I just want to curl up into a ball of self-protection.

I believe in God. I believe that He will restore the human spirit and everything on this planet. He will recreate Eden in all its glory and humans will thrive in His light and life. Then, there will be no fear, no anger, no crying and no need for bearing the tremendous weight of responsibility that comes with seeking approval of all people and avoidance of unpleasant encounters with them. Even now, I have an understanding that I can trust God to turn my fear of man into a respectful fear of Him-one that empowers instead of belittles, one that gives life instead of death. But I am not there yet. I have not broken free from the chains that keep me locked away in a child’s mind. I don’t know if LI can help me this time. I only know that I am dying one breath at a time, ever since I had the wind knocked out of me as a kid. imagesCA6PF50C

Bi-Bi Baby

This has not been a good day. I am happy that it is almost over. I have a new obsession and I don’t like it. I need to find out all I can about bisexuality because apparently it is time for me to admit to this life-long orientation of mine. I spent the better part of my day browsing google, my local library website, and of course, amazon .com, for any and all information on what it means to be in the minority of the minority group known as LGBT.  I wasted a perfectly good day off of work engaged in research, until it suddenly dawned on me that trying to understand bisexuality for me is really pretty pointless. Number one, there is very little likelihood that I will ever “come out.” I am not open to engaging in the LGBT community or activism just to have new friendships because my past is tainted and my future uncertain. I am the same person I was before I accepted the label and I will continue to be the same person. Another problem with “coming out” is that it assumes I would welcome intimacy outside of marriage. I do not want that. I barely had intimacy inside my marriage (to a man). So, my choice is to stay celibate, even though I am aware that I am choosing solitude. For some, this choice just about takes all the joy out of life, but I really don’t see what I can do and still remain true to my spiritual convictions. I can’t seem to do that when I am in relationship with other people. My marriage left me feeling lacking in just about every way–spiritually, emotionally, socially and physically. I was a big, fat, nothing for 26 years. It is very difficult to see myself any other way than that, and I don’t ever want to be in that kind of relationship again.

This morning, I had my therapy session. I am seriously thinking about stopping. I know my therapist has a lot of faith in Lifespan Integration and the neuroplasticity of the brain to alleviate my depression. I came away from that session feeling worse than I did going in. I felt disconnected and unreal. I was supposed to be connecting with my 5-year old self, which I was able to do for periods of time but she was a very pale, ghost-like image in my brain. She would disappear at times, when I was trying to concentrate on the timeline. Like, “poof” and she was gone. When my therapist told me to open my eyes at the end of the session, I felt disoriented. I felt as though I had gone somewhere and had sort of returned. But I still felt like I was having an out-of-body experience. When I left, I was thinking to myself, “I’m done here. I’m not coming back to anymore sessions. I feel like shit.” Then, I had a moment of panic that I would never see my therapist again (this is my bisexual side speaking to me), and I would be stuck in this damned outer-space world where I will feel disjointed forever.

So, that is the reason for my terrible day. I’m a depressed, bipolar, bisexual, obese, insomniac. Wow. There seems to be a great divide between that and, in Christ, free, loved, and redeemed. Maybe I’m not a Christian after all. Maybe I’ve been fooling myself all this time. Or maybe, that stupid-ass enemy called Satan, is chomping on my own ass to keep me from having a relationship with my Heavenly Father. What do I know of relationship with a father? My own died when I was two. What do I really know about any kind of relationship? They have all been broken and I feel so alone. (Satan talking)

Sometimes I feel like books are my only friends. My books and my music. I have spent my life hidden behind pages and musical notes to keep me from feeling the intensity of my painful relationships. But now I am being made to feel it. I can’t continue to go back in time because there are too many bad memories. Except for the birth of my sons. Those were happy memories and they are the only true happiness in my life.

I can’t end this pity-party on an unhappy note. I think I’ll go sit on my front porch and sip a Summer Shandy before calling it a day. I never count on sleeping well, so when it does happen, I feel better in the morning. I am a caregiver for newborns and their mothers, so that is the bright spot in my work-day. Yes, maybe tomorrow will be okay. I would be happy with okay.