The Unravelling

The other day, while catching up, my friend asked me what my highlights were over the last 3 months. I had to clarify if he meant good things or just what stuck out because honestly looking back the first thing that comes to my mind is the large number of times I cried/sobbed in my car over the last three months (also, coincidentally, the number of times I thanked the Lord for waterproof makeup & a decent complexion so I don’t have to worry about the real struggle of tear tracks). The reason for all the tears? Well I mean you can read my last post too, but in reflecting it was quite honestly because there was so much change that happened in my personal life, inter personal relationships, and external circumstances that I either had 1. no control over, 2. had no say in, or 3. had turned out not the way I intended, resulting in me being completely overwhelmed and exhausted.

Beyond that, the degree of change in which I have experienced in myself over the last year is huge. The only work I can use to describe myself at this time last year is restless. I as coming out of one of the higher moments of my spiritual walk, I thought I had a lot of shit figured out (and PS why couldn’t everyone else figure theirs out???), I was having very fruitful quiet times, I had a great lent/Easter season, etc. etc. etc. And yet I was restless. I was desperate for change – in fact I wrote blog post after blog post and journal entry after journal entry  about waiting, hoping, expecting, and trying to learn how to rest. I felt like I was sitting in this weird limbo place and just waiting for my life to get started already. It was frustrating – like I was almost trapped in my own life. And then…..it all, very slowly, step by step, began to unravel.

Depending on how often you see me, you may not have noticed. I kept it under wraps for quite a while. If I did happen to share a glimpse into how I was doing under the surface, it was only that – a snapshot in time. I thought I was handling it fine, but the longer time went on the more I realized I didn’t.

Have you ever unraveled a knit piece? There’s almost a satisfying pop with every stitch you pull out, and as you keep pulling, it starts to unravel faster and faster …. just one string will do it, each stitch is connected. Ask anyone who knits and they’ll tell you how one good yank can reverse rows of work – great if you messed up and want to start over, not great if you liked it and a snag ruined hours of good, solid work.

The string that started the unravelling for me was an unobtrusive, small choice to decide to read Genesis after finishing up Hebrews in my quiet times. But something happened when I went back to the beginning — instead of getting a refreshing walk through old stories and God’s faithfulness, I instead found myself filling my journal with questions. I particularly struggled with the character of Abram and the seemingly nonsensical way God kept blessing this terrible (as I read him to be) man.  At the time I jokingly said that existential Christy came to play, but really – she didn’t leave. Questions in my readings bled into questions at other church events which bled into questions about my more fundamental beliefs and values and eventually bled into all areas of my life causing me to question my view points on almost everything, little by little, and then a lot by a lot.

Small things felt like big things, big things felt like bigger things. And they all just kept happening one after another. A week or two might go by and then a new slew of things would pour out and suddenly not knowing how to open the gas tank on a rental car or getting a tiny splash of oil on a shirt would cause uncontrollable tears.

The questioning, as painful as it was, was a key part of my unravelling. I scared myself with some of the things I was asking myself, and I felt adrift. But like a knitter pulls out their stitches to get back to where that missed stitch/count was, God needed to unravel me slowly as I begin to unlearn and let go of the things I held so dear. My questions about EVERYTHING were important because they began to strip away the person I had constructed myself to be. The Christy I thought I needed to be – the right Christy who did everything she thought she was supposed to do/told to do because only silly, irresponsible people make mistakes or do things that way because this way, obviously, is the only right way.

But I am not that Christy that I thought everyone wanted me to be. I am this Christy. I am this crossfit doing, bit of a mess, has a tattoo, really likes tofu and vegetables, has a thing with lipstick and heels, still doesn’t know what she wants to be doing in 5 years, Enneagram 6, binge eats ice cream when stressed, still don’t know everything about myself and what I like or want Christy.

I am in many many ways still a pile of unravelled yarn in a pile on the floor, but as I look at the mess and knots I’m working through, I am constantly reminded of Abram – this dude a year ago who rocked my world – and how I am Abram. I am the same mess of a person who, for no reason I can possibly justify myself with, I still blessed by a God who loves, pursues, and chases her into the dark corners.

With every “thing” that is piled upon me and every stitch that is unravelled, I am more and more convinced that this will work out for good. That the changed person I will finally end up becoming as I am re-knit together will be more the woman God wanted me to be than the girl I was a year ago. Diamonds and other precious gems stones are forged under intense heat and pressure (and very particular circumstances), gold and precious metals are useless without refining in extreme heat and purifying processes. As I tell my piano students — relearning a song after learning it the wrong way is painful, but worth it at the end. How much more worth will this unravelling be once I can turn around and see the knit-together piece at the end?

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Falling into Fall

When I was in  university, there were a couple people I knew who were slightly obsessed with John Mayer’s song Stop this Train  (kind of depressing IMO). It’s a sentiment I think we all feel at some point — we see our life seemingly passing us by oh so quickly and we can’t do anything to stop it. I feel like this feeling especially hits right about now as “summer winds down” and we head into the fall season. I’ve heard a lot of remorse and wistfulness over the last few weeks as we come up upon September!

But I can’t say that I agree this year. I loved summer, yes. And don’t get me wrong, I don’t look forward to the cold, short days ahead, but fall for me means other things. Summer is full of  adventures and spur of the moments, long days and late nights, sunshine and camp, cottages and vacations (ok I don’t have a cottage but I’m painting a picture, ok?). It is freedom and the reminder that things can happen out of the ordinary routine of my life and that those things can add colour and vibrancy to what had seemed dull and boring.

Adventures are great but if all I’m living for is the moments on the end I’ll miss out on the things in between – and there is a lot more in between than there is large events. Fall is the reminder that those in betweens have value and that the living of those parts can also bring joy. It is a time that reminds me to reflect on what I’ve done. It’s a reset for me more than January is; a time to form new habits and to take stock of what I’ve done in the last year. A chance to look forward again to what I want to accomplish. Like ACTUALLY learning new testament Greek for real (and not just getting through chapter 2 for the 5th time…).

Fall isn’t the hectic back-to-school season. I mean, I’m a single 20 something who lives at home. No season is hectic. Fall is a great expanse of slightly cooler weather, beautiful colours, and being thankful for the good times I’ve had. It’s reflections. It’s growth (ironically as the plants die). It’s a reminder to take time to just relax and be. It’s time to re-centre my life on Christ and remember that while he was with me in my adventures and spontaneity, he is also here in the day-to-day, journeying with me through all of my life.

Summer is a great season, but fall is too. And I really don’t think we should lament that summer is gone and reluctantly face the new season and the “negative” repercussions on our lives.So while I love the idea of living somewhere where it’s always warm…where I can be outside all year round without a jacket, I’m thankful to be in a place where I have physical seasons to remind me of different things.

Ecclesiastes  (one of my favourite books of the Bible) Chapter 3 starts with:

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

 

While we all enter the seasons known as the harvest, here are few questions I’m pondering and encourage you to consider as well as we fall, ever so lightly, into fall.

What “season” are you entering? What are you leaving?
What good things did God bless you with this summer? What did he gently teach you?
Where are you going? What do you want to do?
Who is God shaping you to be? What parts of your life is he calling you to examine or grow in?
Are there habits and practices you want to change or adopt?
What are things you’re thankful for that you get to enjoy right now?
How can you make the routines you have in fall be joyful, fulfilling, and Christ-centred?
How can you live redeemed this fall?