There's so much going on day-to-day and often times, my to-do list seems so freaking daunting that I neglect to spend time nurturing my spirit.
Even before I became a Christian, I felt a soul, my soul. My friend Katie would often say that I can't possibly be an Atheist because I was so spiritual and in-tune with that part of myself. (Looks like she was right, ha!) Your spirit is crucial to every aspect of your life. If you are not in tune with the part of you that isn't physical, everything around you suffers. How you interpret situations and how you handle them, it all becomes skewed.
For me, as a Christian, nurturing the spirit means spending time in the word, praying, and meditating on scripture. When I am feeling super frazzled and defeated, 9 times out of 10 I will realize that I (coincidentally) have been on a streak of spiritual neglect. With 3 children, and being the stereotypical neurotic writer, you can see how that could be seriously detrimental to my well-being.
A couple weeks ago, we attended a new sermon-series at our church, Cleaning Up My Side of the Road. This particular sermon focused on "Sin Patterns" (you can watch here.) Let me tell you, it was a smack in the face. Though, it was probably the first time I actually welcomed the smack in the face with open arms.
I was jotting notes down like a maniac:
"Your journey with Jesus will consistently be derailed when sin patterns remain unchecked."
"Your side of the road can cause GENERATIONAL DAMAGE."
"If you doubt that the maker and creator of you loves you, you will spend the rest of your life chasing that love."
"Religion says: clean up your sin. But a relationship with God says: clean up your heart."
I cannot let the neglect of my spirit, and my very needed relationship with God, derail my journey through this life. If I allow this to happen, I could cause generational damage (!!!!). I could be setting up my children s children for hardship/strife/all of the terrible things.
And, wow. Don't even get me started on the entire "chasing love-thing." I think that basically sums up who I was from the ages of 15 to 23 years old (maybe still, sometimes?... On my "emo" days! I hate admitting that.)
We went through healthy steps to begin cleaning up your side of the road:
1. Identify the Pattern
2. Identify Obvious Disruptures
3. Clarify the REAL ISSUE
"What comes out of you, starts with what's in you."
We were given time to pray and think about our patterns. I wrote:
I get so angry, and then so sad. I hate that I cannot control my emotions, it makes me feel weak. That opens up the window to intense self-loathing and I begin cycling through each instance in my life where I feel that I have failed, where I feel I've been "bad" or done something wrong. Once I get too far into my past, I start to feel angry again over things that happened to me that I had no control over and that anger becomes this living breathing fear of adulthood-- that maybe I'm ill equipped to become a functioning adult. And that's when the anxiety sets in, I start thinking about the future. The future. The future. Do I even deserve a future? I don't deserve a good future. My poor children! They deserve a much better mother. Those thoughts take over my brain and then I feel depressed. And that depression makes me angry. And then we are right back where we started.
My pattern of sin is Anger > Anxiety > Depression and the vast universe of emotions that encompass those individual states of mind. And, since I was a teenager, that has always been my issue, or at least the root cause of my myriad of issues. For a very, very long time I did not have God. I did not feel loved. I sure as hell did not love my self. So, I went looking for love in all of the wrong places, which usually resulted in my doing things that made me loathe myself even more. Which would make me depressed and then angry. And, usually, I'd eventually explode on someone who didn't deserve it because I had been pushing so much down, that I'd finally burst. (Yeah, I was kind of an asshole. I'm really sorry.)
We were asked to identify the things that disrupt us. I'm still working out the answer to that one. I know there is no simple answer and I want to spend a lot of time searching this one out.
Finally, we spent time clarifying the real issue. I wrote:
I'm afraid no one really loves the true, messy, me. I'm afraid that God doesn't love me as much as he loves the sons of this world, strictly because I am a woman. Sometimes that keeps me from asking God for the guidance I need. At the end of the day, my issues all stem from love: self-love, love from others, love from God.
So, now I'm left with a bit of clarity but also more questions. Oddly enough, it does bring me some peace though. I feel a bit more armed in the attacks on me and my self-esteem. Because, really, at the end of the day: depression, anxiety, and anger, those are coming from a place of insecurity and learned survival tactics. I am no longer a naive little girl who is merely surviving life. I am a woman of God who, when I lean on The Creator can thrive. But, I do know that I will be hashing out my feelings towards God+Woman for awhile. I've luckily found an incredible woman to mentor me, and maybe she can help me through the vast expanse of questions I have.
What are YOUR sin patterns?
I know a lot of you are not Christians, so the word "sin" does not have any bearing on how you identify your emotions. But, I'm still interested in the things that disrupt your life in a negative way- what are your go to downfalls? How do you pick yourself up again? Is there a pattern?