The Invitation of Simple Moments
Hello, friends! These past several months have had many ups and downs, and I’m sure that's also true for many of you. I want to share a simple joy I experienced this week- a restful afternoon at the beach! It never ceases to amaze me how much getting outside into beauty can help brighten a difficult, and sometimes dark, season in life.
I had the privilege of growing up near the ocean. This photo was taken at "my spot;" a place I have retreated to on many occasions. I admit that when I arrived there this week, it had been a very challenging few days for me. Upon looking at the waves, all I could see was how brown the water appeared, and I feared I had missed a notice about possible contamination. Walking along the shore searching for the perfect place to shelter me and my book, the hot sand between my toes was too hot for my comfort. The annoyance and frustration of the morning needed a bit more time and intentionality to leave my tense and achy body before I could appreciate the breathtaking scene in this photo. As I looked at the beauty around me, the inner critic in my mind started to use the all-too-familiar voice of shame telling me, "I need to be grateful for what I have because so many others have far less."
Gratitude is powerful, and it isn't meant to be another way we gaslight ourselves into believing we are somehow failing at being a good Christian.
Please don't misunderstand my intentions- I believe gratitude is a powerful way to break out of the ruts in which we sometimes find ourselves. I personally take time before bed every night to examine each day and find at least three very specific things for which I am grateful. Even during times when prayer is difficult, this practice allows me to see God's hand in my every day life. Gratitude is powerful and it isn't meant to be another way we gaslight ourselves into believing we are somehow failing at being a good Christian. I came across something online recently which has really provoked a lot of thought- it said, "Spiritual trauma is someone handing you an inner critic and telling you it's the voice of God." (The original source may have been Hillary L McBride, PhD https://twitter.com/hillarylmcbride?lang=en I don't know much about this author so this is not an endorsement of all the content on the author's page,). I believe God speaks a language of love and mercy, not one of condemnation. It took me years to understand spiritual abuse as a reality, and even longer to identify the ways it harmed me while I was already vulnerable. (But that's a post for another time.)
Love and mercy, not condemnation.
I found the perfect place to sit, and as I settled in, the "too hot" sand became very grounding for me. I allowed my feet to find a cooler reprieve burrowed beneath the top layer of sand, and took several deep breaths of the salty sea air. Listening to the crashing waves and looking more closely at the water, I saw that the brown color was due to a greater amount of seaweed in the surf than is typical at this location. I thought, 'Ah, seaweed, that explains it. It's totally natural.' That's when I began to laugh as I realized the frustration I had been feeling was not a result of mere "ingratitude." Rather it was natural experience being amplified by my nervous system which is so often on edge as a result of years of trauma. My brain and body needed to be intentionally reminded that I am safe.
I am safe. I am free. I am worthy of love... and so are you.
I am safe. I am free. I am worthy of love... and so are you. I don't always have easy access to get away for an afternoon at the beach, but there are so many beautiful gifts all around me which help remind me (and my often anxious nervous system) that I am safe and free to be me. Just yesterday, a friend who does not live near the ocean shared with me how she stood outside and watched the sprinkler in her yard spray into the green grass and onto her flowers. She joking said that yes, she was running a sprinkler while also patting herself on the back for having a rain barrel, and that the simple joy of this experience was somehow magical. Magical. I could use more magical, whimsical, grounding, lighthearted moments. How about you?
Hoping you are well and find ways to allow magical, childlike wonder to enter whatever situations arise today and in the upcoming weeks.