When I mess Up, Is there really forgiveness, love and grace?

February 10, 2015

Sharing about my mistakes doesn’t seem like the best thing to write about on a blog.  What is the point of expressing the insanity of my life.  I prefer to be a vessel of encouragement and rightful living, than disclose that life isn’t always easy for me, and sometimes this is do to the choices I make.

Being a chronic pain survivor is something that is often beyond myself.  Though I can impact my pain by eating right, exercising and reducing stress, I still have pain.  Even though at times I can blame myself, in essence I know when I wake up in the morning with pain, I didn’t create it.

I also struggle with an addiction.  My addiction, my past, and my chronic pain are all intertwined.  When I went to therapy to deal with things I struggled with in the past, I began to escape into addictive behavior as I couldn’t deal with it.  As these behaviors continued, I got sick with a cold, took antibiotics, and my pain and fatigue started to take hold.  I coped with more addictive behaviors to deal with the pain.  I both sought help in a higher power, and sought help in other powers.

Eventually, I found help for myself through a support community, and through the medical community.  Over the years, I was able to reduce my pain, and not live in addictive behaviors.  I took myself off of pain medication, and felt like my life was going well.  I was still limited, mainly because of the fatigue, but overall had a fairly active life.

So why did I relapse?  Pretty complicated – life, opportunity, desire, denial, pain, resentments, selfishness, etc.  Something I continue to explore.  Unfortunately, the pain it has caused is great.  I feel much shame.  Many people can’t separate my action from who I am, and do I blame them? Not really, it doesn’t make sense.  Addiction and clearly harmful actions generally don’t.

I titled this blog post, Is there forgiveness, love and grace? I really believe that the healing of my body, mind and soul and connecting to something spiritual lies in the forgiveness, love and grace.  As much as I have hurt people, and can see and feel the effect in my life and in my body, I also believe healing can come and effect my life and my body.  Forgiveness, love and grace come through my higher power, my spiritual source that I hold onto.  Each day, I feel this more.  I am blessed to have several people in my life and a community group, who have also shown me the power of grace.  As I continue to integrate this into my belief about myself, I change.  I become more loving and other centered, and give grace to others.

Unfortunately, it can be easy to not love the ones who have hurt us.  This makes sense, and I have compassion for those I have hurt.  I don’t expect them to love and forgive me.  When those moments happen, I do feel the gift of such grace.  I take responsibility for my actions, and continue to do so as I see more.  Healing is a process, and it takes time for all.  Layers and layers often continue to be pealed away.  Much pain – yet a deeper love can develop.  May I become more forgiving, loving and graceful, and be able to give these gifts to others.  Not because of something they have done but because it shows my gratitude for what has been given to me.


My understanding of a spiritual power

November 13, 2013

I have been reading and contemplating what my spiritual power means to me.  I find that I grow in my understand and relationship with a greater power when I ask the questions and watch for answers.  As I have been working through steps 2 and 3, I have written where I am today regarding this step, ways I rewrite the step to mean more to me, and questions/struggles I still have understanding the concept.

Step 2 from AA:  Come to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

My wording of this step:  I am reception to spiritual guidance for restoration and am willing to work towards it.  I believe there is something spiritual beyond my understanding that has the capacity to create miracles.

I struggle with the idea that a spiritual power would care and chose to cure my addictions and my chronic pain, as I have been spiritual yet still struggle.  I see the spiritual everywhere, but don’t always believe it can be personal to healing my pain or cares about the details.

I wonder if my definition of insanity is different than HP.  May not mean I don’t struggle but have clarity and spiritual growth in the process.

Step 3 from AA:  Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand him.

My wording of this step:  I am willing to grow along spiritual lines and seek a HP.  I am willing to turn towards a spiritual source for guidance in my choices and understanding of my needs.  I seek to have this spiritual power guide me in releasing what I have no control over (pain, addictions, peole and outcomes) and guiding me on where I can make an impact and be open to a new way of doing things.

I struggle with giving up myself to another person or spiritual source and the idea of a caring God.

I wonder if it is more about being willing to follow principles for living such as love and grace verses perfection, contol and rules.  To bring unity and allow this Spirit to nourish us for what we really need.


Seeking something spiritual I can hold on to

November 5, 2013

This past week I have been thinking a lot about what spirituality looks like and how to move beyond my own distortions of what a God/The Spirit looks like.  Often when I think about God, I think of someone who is allusive, uncaring, judgmental and unfair.  Though my religious upbringing was filled with many wonderful spiritual connections and memories, when the road gets tough it is easy for me to focus more on those who have hurt and failed me, and the teachings that seem to leave me stuck.

How do I surrender my life to something that doesn’t feel solid?  Where do I find this rock that feels real and brings me peace?  For me it begins with finding a little bit of openness, to watching for the spiritual, for sensing what works.  What truths brings me to grace and love?  If I can clear the slate, something new may be able to enter.

What I want to believe, what feels spiritual to me:  There is something powerful and spiritual when I look at the mountains and the ocean, when the leaves change in the fall, when thunder strikes in the sky, when plants grow, and when a baby is born.  I also feel a spiritual power when I truly connect with people, when I take in love and grace, when a coincidence seems beyond my understanding, when I meet a soul mate, when wisdom and clarity come in a time of need.  I can feel something different when I hear or read a truth, when people’s lives are an inspiration, when someone forgives me for my wrongdoings, when I give grace from somewhere beyond me.  I feel something powerful when in a meeting of people sharing their hardships and people give compassion and kindness, when I am meditating, when I am listening to inspirational music, when I move forward in recovery and healing.  I feel a sense of humanity and spirit when I am humble, serving others, in need, and vulnerable.   There is something amazing that happens in yoga and when running, being intuned to my body and what has been given to me.  I feel a release when I am grateful.

I can trust that the Spirit is not people, things or places.  It can be in all of these things, but it is not these things.  People bring both the spirit and the human, religious people do the same.  None of us can claim to truly know all about the spirit or about his/her truths – this is why it is called faith.

May the truth continue to reveal itself to me, may the Spirit guide me today.


Step 1 unmanagability and powerlessness

November 4, 2013

Having chronic pain is something I am powerless over and can’t always manage.  I have good days and bad days.  The good days make me feel like I am able to function well, I feel healthy, and empowered to accomplish my goals and build relationships with people around me.  On my not so good days, I see the pain and fatigue show up in my life limiting me from doing what I want, but still able to function overall.  On the really bad days, I feel depressed, get tired of crashing, and seek the quick and often unhealthy escapes.

Powerlessness is what happens physically to my body.  Fibromyalgia has a path of its own that I don’t always understand.  Certain activities and situations can draw me into an overwhelming sense of fatigue and pain that at times can catch me off guard.  Though I can limit this pain to some degree by watching my stress, exercising, being healthy, managing activities, it will always be there ready to be activated.  Sickness and unintended stress can sometimes seem to come from no where, causing me to become more aware of this thing inside my body.

Unmanagability is what happens in my life because of my chronic pain.  When my fibromyalgia is in full force my life can revolve around my pain and fatigue and often other areas get neglected.  The more I try to control it,it can just make it worse as too much activity just wears me down.  When things feel totally out of control, I seek to escape this feeling and don’t always have the capacity to make good choices.  I get really tired and can’t  think straight, and don’t always care anymore to make the needed effort.

As depressing as this all sounds to me, seeing the reality allows me to look for a new solution.  I can be aware of what is beyond my own ability, and surrender this to God, a spiritual power, to the earth, to friends, or something that brings a sense of release.  Then I look at what I can do to keep my fibromyalgia in check as best as I can, and prepare for those days where life seems to sweep me under.  Often for me this is finding my support network, reaching within myself and seeking something spiritual.  If something isn’t working, seeking the truth of it, allows me to search for something better.  May today, I focus on what brings me peace and health, and prepare myself for the darker days with grace, wisdom and compassion.


Accepting my imperfect body

November 4, 2013

It is difficult for me at times to accept my body for its imperfections.  From a young age, I have struggled with focusing on whatever wasn’t right with my body.  This could be weight, being too tall, not being good at a particular sport, or having a bad hair day.  Our society is very focused on the physical, and a perfect physical body often appears to be a perfect person.

Each day my body seems to fail me, I have to find a sense of compassion and grace.  What I had hoped for, is not always what reality is.  My body can hurt in situations it shouldn’t hurt, can wear out before I want it to, can limit my activities because I am too tired, or lead me to do things I would rather not do.  I can’t always control what comes my way, and this powerlessness can result in frustration.  If I can find a way to bring some acceptance and love to the less than, I will have more compassion for myself and be able to integrate all that my body is.  When I bring love to myself, this also flows out to others around me.  I become less judgmental, able to focus on the more important things in life.

Today, I will try to be more aware of when I put shame upon myself.  I will strive for serenity, accepting the things I cannot change, and making changes in the areas I can.


Unwelcomed Memories

May 3, 2013

I lay here awake, feeling trapped in my memories.  Being triggered into flashbacks, and reminders of days gone by.  I try to escape the pain through activities or modes of tuning out yet they remain to block me from fully engaging in the moment or connecting with people intimately.  Sometimes life feels too complicated and too difficult to let people in.

I am taken back to my youth, when I was in high school.  A time of great confusion and a time of tremendous growth.  I was taken in by an incredible spiritual mentor who nourished me in my faith, and took the time to learn about who I was.  I trusted him, I needed him.  He taught me much about relationships, spirituality and life.  But some how through it all, it started to feel more complicated.  In many ways it felt similar to dating.  Too much time alone in places not meant to be – his house, with his family, many car trips and the adventure to the camping area where he baptised me.

One event changed everything, yet it changed nothing.  The beauty of denial and the inability to grasp the reality of that which you hope to not understand.  I am not sure how the trip to the camp site came to be, but I remember him driving us to Clark Creek, which was at least a 30 minute drive from where we lived.  When we arrived we walked around the campground where we had youth camp where I recommitted my life to Christ, then to the creek where I was baptised.  He persuaded me to take a swim with our clothes on in the creek.  It was really cold, and I remember feeling uncomfortable yet enjoyed the time together.  When we went to the car, my clothes were clinging to my body from the dampness.  He wrapped something around me (a sweatshirt I believe) and ended up touching me on my breast.  I felt fear and vulnerability of what was to come, especially since we were alone by the creek miles from home.  He was my youth pastor, this wasn’t making sense. He proceeded to act like nothing happened and we drove home.  I thought it must have been an accident, yet the situation created a sense of wonder.  What will happen next?  Can I trust him anymore?  What really happened?  Everything changed, yet it seemed the same.  I continued to see him for many more years, both alone and with his family or other youth.

It has been over 20 years ago that this situation took place, yet I can see that it created spiritual blocks that are difficult to break.  Though I can’t blame him for all of my spiritual conflicts, I realize it contributed to my personal trauma when it comes to the church and spiritual leaders.  It didn’t help that my family life also had inconsistencies of spirituality and dysfunction which probably drew him to me in the first place.   I have spent years in therapy, spiritual work and doing personal recovery, yet I feel at a loss of how to completely heal the wombs.  A few years back I attempted to reach out to some of the church leaders in this church, and to my former youth pastor, but resistance and denial indicated that more loss was likely than personal gain from any connection to these people about our relationship.  I am not sure why I expected more, I just assumed that someone (besides my therapist) would be interested in what I had to say.  Regardless, his complete denial and defensiveness of any outings taking place, made it pretty clear that he wasn’t willing or able to look honestly at what happened.

So where do I go from here?  There is no answer really, as not everything has a clear pathway.  I can continue to seek healing, and remember that brokenness in all of us, including myself.  I have done many things in which I regret, and am grateful for the forgiveness, love and grace I have received.  My heart somehow has to find the balance between openness and being aware, allowing the Spirit in, while being discerning of what isn’t God but the humanness of people.  I pray that God will bring healing to each of us on this path of finding freedom and peace through the brokenness of our past, and our current reality.  There is always hope – hope for a brighter day!


The Dark Hour poem

May 3, 2013

My soul aches, My heart cries;

When will, this pain die?

I watch and wait, for the morning sun;

When everything glows, and the children run.

Conflicts and confusion, trials and scares;

Broken dreams and promises, mistakes and failures.

Each day a struggle, for some air;

More cancer and death, that doesn’t seem fair/

Where is the wisdom? Where is my God?

It doesn’t make sense, in the gloomy fog.

I feel alone, though many are near;

Get me out, ignore the tears.

Just a little hope, or a little light;

help me see, a new sight.

Show me the praise, of a new day;

How to mend, what was frayed.

Show me the love, that I hear about;

Help me receive, the kindness of heart.

Help me hear, the wisdom up high;

To bring discernment, from the lies.

Bring me comfort, to ease the pain;

An inner peace, that forever reins.

I will open my eyes, and clear my ears;

Ready to see, ready to hear.

I will prepare my heart, and my mind;

to be ready, for a new time.

May the grace come, and fill me up;

forever hope, forever love.

Elissa 5/1/13


Stuck in Time – Roles we play

February 25, 2013
Solid Rock

Solid Rock

As I have run into many old friends and acquaintances this past week, I am reminded of how I feel stuck in a time zone. I have played a variety of roles over the years, and built many relationships. Different situations and time periods have brought out different parts of who I am or who people perceive me to be or how I perceive them to perceive me (generally not the same thing). When I run into a variety of people from different time zones, or different role periods, I find myself confused, as if I am struggling to feel solid in my identity.

Over the past 14 years I have belonged to a community of people from a place I call my “church home”. I love what the church brings – hope, love, faith, service, community, strength, and relationships. It also brings for me confusion, judgement, conflict, vulnerability, and questions about my beliefs and experiences. In my church home, I have gone through periods of sporadic involvement, little involvement, outsider, regular attendee and active leader. In many ways, the best and worst parts of me have been known in this community I call my “church home”.

As I walk the halls of the church building I feel like the wind is blowing in a variety of directions. I see teenagers and girls who are in my coaching world. The place of today, and where I spend much of my extra hours and devotion. I also run into people who were active in a mom’s group which I led, or a committee I was on, where we connected together for a purpose and passion. Then I turn around to the people who were around in the middle of my darker/addicted mind-set, watching me spin out of control. Next to them might be the person who recalls my early fibromyalgia days, and has compassion for my illness. And then, almost worse than the rest, is the new leaders and attenders, who are completely unaware of my existence and history, seeing me as “the newbie” or “nonexistent”. I can’t make sense of the history and the various feelings that emerge from within. How do I change and intersect these places, and block out the negativity that can haunt and paralyze me?

I often believe that the healing and transformation is in the process. Perhaps all my feelings are a way for me to be more graceful to myself and just step into the fears that permeate my whole being. I tend to believe that I have to do something to make up for the things I did that were destructive to my soul and hurtful to others. It is easy to simplify people’s responses, when I move into a shame based center. When I find my own place of peace, is allows me to be more centered and have a better balance of inward and outward focus. I may still feel the fear and shame, but my decision won’t come from that place. Maybe things will change for me if I look to receive the grace and love, than to question or seek to understand the complicated thoughts and feelings of another towards me.

I feel ready to get out of this zone. I honestly don’t know how this will happen – but I aim to at least see the next layer. Instead of focusing on what I perceive from others and the role I am playing, I can focus on the vision for myself and where the Spirit leads me in that moment. It isn’t a battle to win, I have nothing to prove to myself – this is about being open – about seeking to grow and build relationships with this community I am in. It doesn’t have to look a certain way, and I may not ever be “the leader” I once was, yet I can be someone with greater love and grace that continues to transform me from within.


How serious is my chronic illness?

February 25, 2013

This past week, I have learned that several people I know have cancer. Cancer is a horrible disease that most of us have witnessed in some capacity. It can be painful, deliberating, expensive, draining (emotionally and physically) and potentially deadly. We wish and pray that this disease finds a cure.

While learning of the cancer diagnosis for people I care about, it has brought about a lot of personal emotions for me to process. Having any chronic illness and going through the process of discovery of what it is, the prognosis, and treatments is difficult. At times we have hope for what the future can bring through this new illness, and at other times the future looks bleak. Having people around for support and love can make all the difference. It gives us a degree of connection, though we might still feel alone in the journey.

When I first began having fibromyalgia symptoms, I blew it off as an extension of an illness. I thought eventually I would regain my strength, and the tingling sensations were just a weird manifestation of an infection of some sort. Emotionally I was dealing with some personal issues, that seemed to be leading me into a dark place. I wondered if the stress was taking its toll upon my body.

After several months, and having pain that was moving into the 6-7 pain scale, it was time to see a doctor. I could no longer ignore what was going on, and the constant lying around was becoming problematic. Summer ended, and laying on the couch wasn’t as fun as laying in a baby pool with my kids.

Those early days of diagnostic testing and medication experiments were tiresome. I can remember the fear I felt as I went through the process of searching out potential diseases I could have. Each test brought different possibilities. At the beginning, I can remember hearing and dreading the word fibromyalgia. I hated this word, because it seemed to imply more mental issues and unclarity than other diseases, especially since it appeared to be more of a “we don’t know” diagnosis. As I had more tests, and realized the possibility of something deadly, I began to care less. I remember sitting in the doctor’s office having an echogram (I think that’s the name) where they were searching for a heart infection, and the technician was explaining that if they found an infection, it would need to be treated right away, or I could die. I felt relieved later, to discover that I had no infection in my heart, and became more open to any possibility, even if it was more in my head.

I can understand more clearly how fibromyalgia is an invisible disease. Though I have received great support over the years, especially in the early stages, in general this has subsided. I know people care, yet few people understand. I feel a battle inside of finding the balance of keeping it alive (this is what Fibro looks like), and living my life in my own personal fibro bubble. Because I look and act “normal”, even the people closest to me forget my pain and fatigue. Occasionally someone will add a reflection that shows an understanding of my illness to the situation at hand. I feel blessed and loved when those connections are made.

I cannot imagine fully the impact of having cancer. I live with a chronic illness, and have watched my mother die from tongue cancer and my sister-in-law survive cancer but have not experienced it myself. No matter how difficult my days are, I realize that this disease will not take me away from my loved ones. I may have to watch for other symptoms (such as depression) that could shorten my life, yet the core symptoms of fibromyalgia won’t do this. Cancer doesn’t necessarily mean a death sentence. Most people with cancer, actually live a long life. However, the fear of death is greater because the potential is there.

I hope and pray that I can be a support to others in their experience with a chronic illness and/or disease. I admit, at times it is hard for me, because I can long for the support and love that can come from people with a more serious illness. As with any difficult challenge, it is important that I recognize how people care, even when it may not be so evident in the way I desire. I still have people ask me how I am, years later – the love is there. May I be able to offer the best of what was given to me.

None of us know what it is that lies ahead for us. Our life is filled with both amazing blessings, and horrific challenges. The medical world can try to simplify and provide better treatment through diagnosis and statistics. However, regardless of what it might appear to be, the mystery remains. May I find a way to love and be loved in the mystery.


Memoir Review: Torn by Justin Lee

February 18, 2013

I love hearing Justin share about his process of searching for truth in the Gay vs. Christian debate with humor and grace. Though this feels like my most political post yet, it really doesn’t need to be. Searching for truth is always the right path, and this generally involves looking at our own beliefs and biases.

Justin is a conservative Christian who is gay. He initially seeks to find a way to change his orientation through ex gay turned straight organizations. He asks a lot of questions, trying to understand from an intellectual and personal viewpoint. He is surprised to discover much of the testimonies of the ex gays, are giving half-truths, trying to bring hope to others, yet denying the reality of their experience. He seeks answers through the Christian community, and through the LGBT community, not always fitting in well with either. He also studies scripture to learn more about the context the Bible verses against gays were written from.

Justin has a great way of sharing his journey without criticizing other people. He asks questions, and seeks to understand the perspective and wisdom of other people, and to find the right path for himself while following his personal Christian beliefs. I see a man always striving for integrity and relationships built on truth. I admire him for stepping out on this issue, putting himself in the line of fire, so others can understand we aren’t the judge of who can and cannot be a Christian.

Before I read this book, I have had many of the same questions Justin Lee has about this battle of Christians against gays. Though I am a heterosexual, I disagree with the cruelty that has often come about from a rather young age for people with different sexual orientations. Many years ago, I encountered some pretty severe criticism from people, because as a Christian I have been open on this issue, and couldn’t honestly say I thought it was wrong to be gay. Having had close gay friends in the past, I saw the same spirituality and challenges in them, as others who were straight. I questioned many of the scriptures he reviewed, also recognizing how often woman can be treated with the same disrespect throughout the Bible, and many people take this as a cultural issue, not a moral one. Because I am human not God, I believe that it is better for me to focus on what is loving than on what is right, and trust that my Higher Power can be the one to teach each of us what is right.

I highly recommend everyone read this book and share it with others they know. Regardless of whether you agree with his truth, you will learn much about compassion, grace, the personal struggles, and seeking truth.


%d bloggers like this: