Yoga-Mat Thieving, Foot-Washing Fiasco, and Other Triggers

IMG_7353What does being an abuse survivor have to do with foot washing and people trying to steal my yoga mat? The answer…EVERYTHING!

Being on ANY healing journey is no cake walk (I’m way past the point of judging my pain as  worse than anyone else’s), but it DOES come with its funny moments. And being that I am now years into my own intentional healing journey, I’ve learned to laugh at so many more of these awkward human moments and triggers of mine than crying at them or even worse—shame spiraling because of them.

Self-awareness has been my golden fruit from healing.

That’s why I didn’t judge myself this morning when a lady I’d never seen before tried to take my mat at yoga class to position it on the floor and I bravely told her “NO.” True…I was a LITTLE worried she was gonna take my mat and run. But I think the even bigger issue for me was that she was Ms. Unknown Authority Figure trying to tell me what to do in a newer environment. And being that there were a million people milling about and bumping into me just a few minutes prior, clutching that yoga mat tightly to my chest was a shield of protection to my VERY being.

And nobody was gonna steal my safety in that moment.

Plus…she’d already bossed me around a bit a few minutes before when she told me where to put my UGG boots away—outside in the hallway WITH the million people. I already knew the information actually, and she probably didn’t love me in that moment when I told her I’d prefer to keep them inside with me. Again…a million people that I didn’t know and expensive boots. Need I say more? Besides…those boots are basically my bff since I’ve had them for ten years and fixed them numerous times.

They aren’t just a possession now—we’re in a relationship. 😉

I made sure to engage Ms. Unknown Authority Figure in conversation a few minutes later just to let her know I wasn’t a complete insubordinate smuck. But did I feel bad about telling her no and not doing what she wanted? Nope. I value my boots and I value my yoga mat, and I’m never an ass about it. I made sure to politely explain my reasons for not doing what she requested, though I made sure to leave out the part about my weird fear of someone stealing my stuff. I had to keep some decorum after all.

But onto my foot-washing fiasco…

I think it’s cool that Jesus washed his disciples feet as a model for servant leadership. I can totally track with the metaphorical meaning of it all. And the modality of leadership that serves its followers is actually one of my core values: empower rather than control those who drink from your spiritual stream.

But do I actually LIKE the practical experience of foot washing or desire it to play out in my own life? My answer: Noooooooooooo. Nope. Not at all.

And yet, I’ve actually had way more awkward moments with it…and not by choice I might add…than I would have liked. The latest one happening just a couple weeks ago before I could even choose to opt out. It just sort of slid into my world covertly through the trojan horse of spiritual blessing.

“Follow me,” a new acquaintance at church said to me that night. “We have a surprise for you.”

Oh boy… A surprise?

I actually HATE surprises from people I barely know—but I didn’t tell her that. I just followed her like an obedient puppy, making sure to keep my eye rolls inside my head. My next trigger happened when I stood next to an unknown door with a handful of people, while I listened to a very sweet and genuine man tell me why he valued me.

Did I remember ANY of what he said post-speech? Nope—I wish. Like I said, it was VERY sweet.

I was just overly aware in that moment that about six people had their eyes on me, watching my every reaction. I was trying to focus on my breathing, while making an occasional furtive glance down the hall towards a possible exit route.

What followed said speech was a period of suspense (another trigger) as I waited for what was to come. And then came the request for me to close my eyes, as Mr. Random Guy took me by the hand and let me INTO the unknown room to do unknown things.

Can you say abuse-survivor recipe for disaster?

Two years ago I probably would have pretended to spontaneously break my foot or something in order to get out of that moment. But because I KNEW in my heart that I wasn’t in any real danger—even though my limbic brain thought that I was, I decided to let the whole weird thing play out. Come what may.

And I decided to play my trust card with God.

So yes, I actually let Mr. Random Guy walk me blindly into the room. And when he backed me up in a corner and had me sit down in a chair, the first thought that shot through my mind was: “Oh God, just NOT a foot washing.”

Cue eye opening…and what did I see? Yep. You guessed it: a water basin below me and an acquaintance sitting beside me ready to wash my feet—which I figured meant that she’d have to actually TOUCH my feet.

Did I mention that being touched in areas that are usually covered by clothes or shoes is another no no for me? Shocker, right? Go figure.

So I took a deep breath, fake smiled, and tried to pull off my boots to get this awkward process started.

“Oh no, I’ll take them off for you. You just sit back and relax”, she said.

Fat chance, I thought. But I let her struggle with taking my boots and socks off anyway and just tried NOT to laugh. I’m a nervous laugher usually, but in this case it was because I like my boots super tight and she was having a REALLY hard time getting them off.

I made it through the whole freaky foot washing though.

A lot of other laughable things happened in that fifteen-minute, foot-washing fiasco. But let me sum up by saying that the whole situation ended up NOT being that terrible. It was filled with tons of triggers and awkward moments, yes, but also a lot of beauty. And I got so many laughs out of the post experience and saw so much evidence of my own healing growth that I was thankful.

I’m thankful for a lot of things these days.

I’m thankful I didn’t scream and run down the hall towards that exit. I’m thankful I didn’t pretend to spontaneously break my foot. I’m thankful I didn’t cuss anyone out or punch anyone in the face. And I’m thankful that I’m still in community with all the foot-washing offenders to this date—even though one of them covertly tricked me into doing a foot washing for somebody else the following week.

But that’s another story….

💙

Don’t Settle For Small

I’ve loved walking in the middle of the street for as long as I can remember. It reminds me that I am on a journey and that I am going somewhere, one step at a time.

And I don’t like sidewalks because I don’t want to live my life always on the sidelines, playing it safe. I want to always live in a place of risk—outside of my comfort zone, because that is where I see God show up.

Time and again Jesus leads me to do something counter-culture, off the grid of normal, outside of my upbringing, educational training or social convention—and He meets me in that space.

I just can’t afford to play life safe and live small. We get one life to live. And honestly, I get bored with living within the lines of social convention anyway. I wanna meet Jesus on the waves of the supernatural.

💙 Nova

Breaking Up With 2018 (A Year in Review)

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Dear 2018,

I’m finally breaking up with you. I thought our time together was going to be more about climbing and conquering mountains, about increasing in new flavors of sonship mastery. But in retrospect I see that we spent more time in the valleys and in pressure-crunched times of learning. I don’t hate you though. I am actually really thankful as I look back over our time together, no matter how painful it turned out to be.

You really were a good teacher. You helped facilitate a lot of epiphanies for me during our year together. Regarding spiritual revelation, you helped me realize that I could walk through an extensive season of moving, packing, house-hunting, furniture selling, and city warring just by myself in partnership with God.

Without any horizontal support.

You helped me discover that I could leverage a more tightly-knit vertical synchronization with heaven instead in order to get through all of the looming unknowns and financial crises.

You were a faithful witness to my every sleepless night and shed tear. And you gave me a song and a biblical metaphor to get me through a really tricky season, which proved to be really all the principle and revelation that I needed to walk it out.

You also brought me a ton of clarity throughout the year about how to recognize my own sheep and God-given assignments, as well as how to hone my specific calling so that I could maximize my time and kingdom ROI.

You taught me how to partner with musical revelation and downloads. You encouraged me in my efforts to move my family into more of God’s principles and promised land. And you taught me how to segue smoother between the various mothering and fathering life-giving dances in my world.

You taught me that I was both stronger and weaker than I knew. Weaker in the many unresolved areas of pain that I didn’t realize were there. Stronger in my ability to vanquish any foe or trigger, both new or old.

Learning that as long as I clung tightly to the Father, I could push into any territory to destroy its lingering giants.

And you taught me bold new ways of interacting with the spiritual realm, with land dynamics, and with using my authority in order to set boundaries to protect time, space, and community work.

Regarding soul issues, you brought me a bunch of new tools. You taught me how to be both brave and kind while offering honest feedback—even to people in authority. You cheered me on as I learned how to move past the enforcing of my physical and time boundaries, and move onto the enforcing of my emotional ones. And you helped me navigate the transitional nuances involved in ending certain seasons of housing, community, and relationships well.

You taught me the valuable lesson of how to entrust my reputation to God when people misjudged, devalued, or got angry with me. And boy did I get a lot of repeated practice in this area. You held my hand tightly in support when I began to stop playing other people’s emotional games and change some deeply-entrenched patterns.

And you gave me tons of coaching along the way as I learned how to navigate a person’s heart with integrity without also feeding their false-legitimacy addictions or heart’s idols.

It was terrifying at times to rock these relational boats, but you were right in saying that it was like working out a new muscle—and that it would get easier over time.

You helped me wake up to some uncomfortable relational issues in my own life. And you taught me that I didn’t have to be afraid of them or freeze-frame myself in any one place—as these realities were fluid and could still be changed.

You taught me the important principle of bringing things out from the shadows and into the light. And you championed me as I began to tell the secrets of my life—aka anything that I was holding inside because of fear, lies, or past belief systems.

You proved over and over that I was STILL loved, not rejected or abandoned, once I began to tell my secrets and my story. And you kept reminding me that my courage would spark a flame in others to do the same.

You often showed me how to be more emotionally present to my family and others. And you introduced me to new strategic friendships during our time together, as well as a few unexpected traveling adventures. These were definitely high points for me in an otherwise crazy-destabilizing year of trials and uncertainty.

I think you must have known I’d need something significant to savor so that I didn’t lose heart and give into the resignation cloud that loomed overhead.

You taught me much through these new friendships, including how to broaden my human synchronization so that the horizontal could complement the vertical. And I definitely recognized your vote of confidence as you purposefully threw me into new communities and told me just to be myself. Again and again, I’d ask you for more training and help, but you’d just tell me that I’d figure it out along the way.

And I did.

You brought me new body understanding too. You helped me learn to trust myself more—in any and all situations. You taught me how to listen to my body cues and interpret them. You showed me how to recognize misalignment in a variety of dynamics and then come in the opposite spirit in order to self-regulate and rectify the imbalances. And you drilled down on how important it really was to recognize my own needs and then move past the knowledge to my actual self-advocacy with others.

And my favorite takeaway from the entire year was when you taught me how to put self-judgment to death and learn the language of self-compassion instead.

To conclude, you were right. You told me it was going to be a year of manifesting sonship together, but I admit that how I initially envisioned that was massively different from how it played out.

Still…I see the netted growth. I see your intentionality in helping me heal and refine certain places. I see your kindness in moving me towards more self-care practices than I would have pursued on my own. And I see that instead of mastery, you led me into much more mystery. And I will forever be grateful for that mystery…

So thank you, for all of it.

For all of the pain and all of the beauty.

Your time in my life has now come to a close but I will forever remember you.

❤️

Nova

Learning To Value Self

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I always used to try and win people over. It was usually in an attempt to make friends or as a way to commoditize myself in a community setting so that people would see my value. See what I had to offer and bring to the table.

Some people would call it people pleasing but my experience went deeper than just trying to keep people happy. And this deeply-rooted internal behavior became an exhausting hamster wheel that I just couldn’t seem to get myself off of no matter how hard I tried. I eventually did, but it wasn’t an easy exit.

I don’t do that much anymore—try to win people over.

But stopping that behavior actually brought a different pain into my life altogether—the pain of reality. Living in a state of denial and non-reality was in essence an illusion, and it was painful for me when it finally came crashing down.

But I needed the disillusionment in order to find the truth.

For me, the reality pain hit me hard when I realized just how much of my life had been spent in INITIATING mode. Initiating friendships, initiating conversations, initiating intimacy. And then maintaining those friendships through an inordinate amount of self-effort, rather than the gradual friendship development of mutuality and a more-evenly-distributed basis of give and take from both friendship participants.

My initiating strength was a two-sided coin that came with its inherent side of weakness. Both in my over-initiating behaviors and in being content with the friendship leftovers that people would throw my way. I began to realize that some friends would only want to get together with me if I initiated or when their other plans didn’t work out.

I’d watch some of these friends throw their spontaneous invites my way and I’d grab onto them like a starving shelter dog grabs a bone. I’d reshuffle ALL my other responsibilities to make it work, acting like it was easy and was no big deal. It wasn’t easy.

But I came to the realization that just because I COULD reshuffle a million things didn’t mean that I SHOULD. I learned that I didn’t value myself enough to wait for friends who would honor my time by scheduling something with me ahead of time.

Self-awareness is a beautifully complex and yet painful experience.

My self-awareness in this area of my life came in stages. God knew I couldn’t take it all in one fell swoop because it would have been too devastating and destabilizing. To realize just how much of my community life was built on the sand of self-effort could have spiraled me into depression.

As it was, God chose to reveal it to me more gently. It came over a period of many years, through a conversation with a friend, a quote I heard in church, something I read in a book, a lyric I heard in a song, a dream that God gave me.

Little bits of revelation and resonance to other people’s stories gradually grew into one large epiphany of self-awareness, which ultimately led me to a deeper understanding of my own story and an increase in self-compassion.

That stronghold of self-sustaining relationships which was rooted in a lack of self-value eventually came crashing down, and I began to look for a new relational way to live.

I landed at the place where I no longer chased down people or friendships, trying to make things happen. Instead, I began to invest more into the relationships that had a healthier level of mutuality. 

That transformation ultimately happened because I had reached a deeper place of belonging in God. A place where I not only KNEW I was accepted, loved, and valued but a place where I actually FELT it.

In that deeper place of belonging and communion with God, I began to value myself as God valued me. And through that experience, I also began to recognize the more compromising expressions of community that didn’t seem to mirror God’s heart or original intention.

“Go where you are celebrated, not tolerated.”

I first heard this quote over twenty years ago and I never forgot it. And finally after two decades, I feel like I’m JUST starting to live out these words. To live in a richer expression of relationships.

It’s not an I-have-arrived place. It’s a place that continues to evolve the more I understand myself, my own story, and God’s original intention in all things relationship.

It’s also my healing dance.

The more I heal, the more all things change.

And my dance partners can either learn some new steps…or they can stop dancing with me.

But either way, I keep on dancing.

Nova

The Journey of Childhood Imbalance and Body Reconnection

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How many times does a parent have to postpone a hungry child before eating or a child with a full bladder before using a restroom—before that child learns by experience that their needs don’t matter and are less important than others?

How many times does a child have to try and interrupt a parent’s conversation with a need and get shushed away before they learn they aren’t important enough to get attention?

I don’t know the answer to these questions, but it’s something that I’ve been deeply mulling over the last few days—because that child was me. Somewhere along my childhood, I learned the deep lie that my needs didn’t really matter and that they should come after everyone else’s got met (if they even got met at all).

And so I find myself now in the middle of an awakening, realizing how much my early childhood actually shaped my now adult belief system about my own needs. And I have become more and more aware of my ongoing struggle with being able to meet, voice, and even actually KNOW what my needs are.

I remember number-line assessment questions being used on me a lot when I was growing up. I think my parents meant to use them as a helpful assessment tool, like was I about to pee my pants right then or could I wait 5 minutes?—that sort of thing. But because I’d already disconnected from my body’s present experience in so many ways as a result of the earlier sexual abuse, I didn’t even know how to feel my body’s needs much less put a voice or number to them.

And so those abstract questions asking me to assign a number to my pain, my hunger, or any other body discomfort were extremely difficult for me. Those questions repeatedly spiraled me into a heightened state of panic as I was unable to connect with my body in virtually any capacity. Those questions also taught me that a need had to be really painful or intense before it was important enough to get met.

To this day, when someone asks me to rate something on a number-line scale, I want to punch them in the face and ask them how much that hurt on a scale of one to ten.

Needless to say, I don’t use those types of questions with my kids. If my kids are hungry, I go feed them. If they need to use the restroom, I find them one. I don’t want my kids to feel that they have to qualify their needs or their pain in order to get them met. Because I know what that feels like and what internal lies can be formed as a result.

I want my kids to have the childhood remembrance that when they needed something, their needs got met—unequivocally, no justification or number-line needed. You have a need—it gets met. Period. And I also know that the way I parent my kids will one day become the way that my kids parent my grandchildren. And I’m already planning ahead. I want my grandkids to receive a better spiritual heritage than what was passed onto me.

But I’m having to work reallllly hard now just to stay mindful and tune into my own physical or emotional needs and my present body experience. Decades of numbing out my own body reality didn’t do me any favors. It was a helpful coping mechanism when I was a child trapped in abuse; but once I became an adult, it became a completely counterproductive and obsolete tool.

So what does that numbed-out child look like once she grew into an adult?

She looks like someone who often forgets to eat meals, like someone who postpones urgent bathroom trips for hours, like someone who says yes to her kids’ requests even though her body is screaming, “noooooo, I need rest.”

She looks like someone who often escapes into her mind— ruminating, problem-solving, or planning whenever an overwhelming emotion pops up on her radar instead of just giving herself the space to actually feel it.

She looks like someone who doesn’t know when to stop working for the day and who has struggled with insomnia and adrenal exhaustion for most of her adult life.

And to this day, I still struggle with those things—especially staying in my mind, exhausting myself, unable to downshift and engage my parasympathetic nervous system in order to rest.

My current journey is a journey of reconnection to body. I’ve spent years working on my spirit and soul, and turning up the volume on my body connection is just the next piece of the healing puzzle.

Because that is where my current life imbalance lies.

And this journey of reconnection to body is a process; it’s not a light-switch fix. It will probably take me years of intentionality and patience to remedy. The only way I can heal this imbalance is to start paying attention, to STAY paying attention, to continually release myself from my perfectionistic tendencies, and to dump LOADS of compassion and kindness onto myself when I forget to pay attention—again.

And you know what?

God is so with me in this healing space.

And I’m not just getting reconnected to my own body experience as I heal the imbalance, I’m also growing deeper into my experience and union with Him.

❤️

Nova

When God Vindicates

I hit a bump in the road the other day when someone totally misread me and corrected me for something that was well just…totally…dumb. She was trying to put me in my place. I think it was because I had asked her a question that ruffled her feathers since she was the leader in the situation and I wasn’t—and I had questioned the why of one of her decisions. So she responded by slamming me for a word choice that I used during a prayer session.

“We don’t use that word that way here”, she told me.

In retrospect, it WAS humorous, because I had told God in the past that I wanted to become someone who didn’t take offense at anyone. But in order to grow into that person, I knew I’d have to walk through actual offenses and CHOOSE not to be offended.

At the time she misread me though, it wasn’t nearly as funny. My body immediately flooded with a huge rush of adrenaline, which so often happens to me when I feel misunderstood. But I knew I needed to get back in the game—and fast. We were just about to enter into two intense prayer sessions in our team of three and I knew I couldn’t let this episode of bizarre mislabeling and correction derail me.

Because at that moment, I knew I was battling two things: the emotional offense at having been misread and my own physiological body reaction. I knew both of them needed to be subdued and brought back into God’s alignment or else I would be completely ineffective on the team. I was already feeling the adrenaline’s effect on my brain and thoughts. They were racing wildly. And I hadn’t driven an hour to be derailed and just sit on the sidelines.

So I silently prayed a prayer of release: “Jesus, I forgive her. I release her. I’m not gonna hold onto this and obsess about any injustice in being misread. I bless her and I trust you with my reputation.”

And then I asked Him to bring my entire spirit, soul, and body back into my regular spiritual equilibrium and balance. And then I got back in the game.

I battled a little bit of hypervigilance about my word choices during my times of praying in front of that leader. But overall, I was able to show up, be present to both God and each individual, and bring what I had to the table.

I was still able to synchronize with God in a weird people situation and just trust that He would straighten out all the awkward details. But I could have easily gotten stuck if I’d chosen to mentally stay in the offense and ruminate about the injustice of it all.

And so I just did me. I showed up. I trusted God with my reputation and honor. And when I prayed for each individual in our prayer sessions, I gave it my 100%. I was able to get back in the game.

Later on that night, God vindicated me in multiple ways. The leader that had initially misread and corrected me, ended up blessing and acknowledging God’s partnership with me. That was cool.

But honestly, even if she hadn’t, I would have been okay. I could have still walked away feeling intact in my identity, feeling loved and cherished by God, and feeling firm in my life mission and my specific assignment in being part of that community.

Because no person’s opinion or assessment of me gets to dictate who I am or how I show up. It just doesn’t. 

Nova

Anger Vortex

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I watched a highly-frustrated man at an office-supply store last night that was giving the cashier a hard time. As I walked across the store and up to the register, I could feel the spiritual dynamics that were swirling around even before I could hear what the man was actually saying. My first thought was “Ugh, I hate anger. I don’t want to be near this guy.”

Because I grew up around a lot of reactivity and walking on eggshells, anger is usually the last thing I want to be around. But God has been challenging me in this area, growing me, stretching me to be bigger, to become bigger in my spirit so that anger no longer intimidates me.

So I felt God telling me not to be afraid of the man’s anger vortex and just to watch him, to watch the interaction. And so I did. And as I watched and listened to him, I could hear the hurt and the fear behind his anger, behind his attempts to control what felt to him to be a powerless situation. And I felt compassion.

A few hours later, I happened to be at the yogurt store with my husband. I wasn’t planning to go. But after running a different errand together, I spontaneously decided to pop in and see whether my favorite yogurt flavor was back in stock (it wasn’t).

And lo and behold, as I walked into the yogurt store, who is standing at the register trying now to buy a yogurt but the same highly-frustrated man from my earlier errand. It was no coincidence. I knew it. God knew it. And so I listened to his second interaction with this new cashier. It mirrored the last one I had heard. Frustration. Anger.

The cashier was telling him that for some reason he wasn’t able to access his free points at this time in the store so he’d have to do it later from home. And for the second time that day, I watched this man spiral into feelings of powerlessness and frustration, followed by attempts to control the situation. My compassion engaged again.

And as I walked by him to exit the building, I just wanted to put my hand on his shoulder and tell the cashier that I’d buy his yogurt. The bummer thing was, I hadn’t brought my purse with me so I didn’t have my wallet.

And so I did the only thing I could think to do, which was to bless this man with peace (with the opposite of what I knew he was currently experiencing). I asked God to reveal to him how much he was loved. I asked God to comfort him and let him know that He was with him.

And I asked God to throw him or another into my path again one day, so that I could actually step into an opportunity to help a frustrated person and also help diffuse anger with a little bit of love and kindness.

I think God’s growing me out of my fear of other people’s anger, one slow step at a time. It’s all about the journey and the process– never about the destination. 

❤️

Nova