It’s been awhile since I’ve blogged…almost a year, as it turns out.
I never finished my review of Tom Oord’s book, though I will aim to do that since it is still a relatively recent contribution to the question of providence and evil. But this time away from writing has been so absolutely necessary. I was feeling it late last year and there were periods where I intermittently took longer breaks, but the desire and the ability to actually do any amount of reflection just left me last year and I knew that if I continued to do so, it would be a distraction from the immense amount of soul work that I needed to do.
In January of this last year, I began seeing a psychotherapist and for the first time in awhile I spent a consolidated amount of time working through issues of complicated grief, anxiety, fear, doubt, and most especially shame. I have spent the past 9 months—really ever since engaging in Curt Thompson’s book—looking at the story that I have been telling myself about who I am, where I’ve come from, what has happened in my life, and where I’m going. Of course, these questions have brought out a host of other ones: “What do I actually believe about who God is?”, “Am I being honest with myself in what I do and say?”, “What are my fears?”, “What controls me?”, “Why do I do x?”, “Why do I feel x?”, “What demons do I have and how can I confront them?” The questions have been endless—and by endless, I mean that I don’t have a point of ending.
At the same time, it has been a time of retrieving peace. To ignore my own soul-care for the sake of “responsibility” or because so and so expects me to do something or because one of my shame demon tells me that if I’m resting and not contributing to something then I’m “lazy”, is itself ironically self-destructive. Rest takes work. Peace takes struggle. And yet it’s a struggle because it is the undoing of something. As Richard Rhor notes, the false self feels like something. The true self feels like nothing. So of course, losing the false self for the true self is a process of hard work that feels like death.
I have been working pretty extensively with journaling my thoughts, pouring into my soul brothers, finding my way back to a true and authentic relationship with the Father, reading everything with the names Brene Brown, Richard Rhor, or Thomas Merton that I could get my hands on (also, Augustine’s Confessions have been immensely helpful), practicing mindfulness meditation, and looking for sincere and genuine ways that I can get out of what sometimes seems like “spiritual narcissism” (the idea that God focusing on my spirituality is what spiritual maturity is all about) and get into the lives of others (more to come on all of that). I’ve focused more extensively on my kids and caring for their hearts, discerning a future vocation and passion (some news there on the horizon as well), and learning new skills that focus on creativity. I’ve also gotten more appropriately focused on physical health and have been going on semi-regular long distance runs with a good friend.
So here I am. Back to writing after nearly a year away. This will be, in a lot of ways, a whole new blog. I remember thinking this time last year how much I wanted to change the name “The Bara Initiative” because of the fact that it moved from being a dual social media initiative to a personal blog and it just sounded corporatized. But…the more I’ve thought about it… “bara” is the Hebrew word for “create” and the challenge of our lives is to be in the process of being created new and creating things new outside of ourselves. Indeed, one of the tattoos that I bear on my right arm reads, “Behold, I am creating all things new.” All things–this includes me…you…everyone else and everything else. And it is a must that we be tuned in with what that process feels like and looks like.