"For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths." 2 Timothy 4: 3-4
What are you searching for? Are you searching for approval? For agreement for the choices you are making? Are you searching for truth?
I have been searching. I have shared briefly over the past few years that I have really been struggling. I have wrote a lot of journal pages and wasted a lot of time scrolling on social media trying to figure out how to heal from the hurt.
My husband and I have dedicated our Saturday mornings to coffee and "discussion". My husband and I met on a missions program where we toured across Canada speaking in high schools. When you are travelling all the time stuffed inside mini vans you learn a lot about each other really quickly. After the tour we both went home to our different Provinces, thousands of kilometers apart. Our long distance phone bills were outrageous and many emails were exchanged. Our only form of building our relationship was with communication. At the time I resented it, but now I really appreciate that time because it built our relationship firmly on our ability to communicate well with each other and to express our thoughts and emotions through our words - there was no Facetime - it was a receiver, attached to a cord, that attached to the phone on the wall. Yes I am that old. I still remember the party line we shared with two of our neighbours. Don't judge.
Anyway, back to our Saturday morning coffee - we have always been able to communicate well but we weren't always making the time for it. Now we do. I have been doing a lot of journaling and reading and self exploration over the past year. I was tired of struggling and it was time to move forward. I wasn't sure how but I took the first step on the journey. Last Saturday I was sharing with Dustin about what I have learned about myself over the past few months, about the people who have come into my life at the perfect time and how I am feeling lighter. I told him that I feel like sharing about what I am learning with others but I don't feel like I have the answers yet. Dustin then told me to start sharing. He said normal people don't share publicly about their struggles as much as I do (I think that was a compliment 😁), that many struggle through things alone. He gave me example after example of times I have stepped forward to share, and how it has helped others. We talked about a time in high school english class that my class was asked to write a page about ourselves. I was so honest in that page that I ended up in weeks of appointments in the student counselling centre. 😂 Dustin then told me that I was most likely the only one to write how I honestly felt, most would have written either what they felt like should write or what the teacher was expecting of them. I chose to be honest in my writing and that has never changed because it is who I am. My book became another example of that.
In my journaling workshops I ask people to write in their journal about who they are in the dark. Who are you when you are sitting in your room in the dark, with the door closed and your phone is in another room. No one is around, no one can see you - who are you?
The last few years have been a struggle for me. I do not have the answers but I know that my healing comes from me sharing and teaching. The hurt that I experienced went deep. It hurt to the core of my being. When you are hurt by something that is tied so close to who you are, it shakes everything.
I experienced a hurt that I still haven't been able to define. I was trying to figure out how to deal with it and I didn't even know the words to search on google.
It has been largely described as "being hurt by the church", or when "Christians attack their own".
Mine came in the form that it was a message from God that I needed to hear and it was one that left me feeling rejected, abused and hurt on such a deep level.
Trust me I have experienced church hurt in the past, we have pastored in two different churches that did not end well, I have had many experiences over the years that would be described as mental abuse and shaming. I know how hurtful Christians can be to one another - Christians are sinful just like everyone else. They have selfish agendas, they struggle with jealousy, they gossip, they are searching for validation. I know this can be the person sitting in the pew, the usher at the door, the person on the music team or the person behind the pulpit. I taught a youth Sunday School class where I told them not to believe anything the pastor says in the sermon that day, but to make notes and go home and search the scriptures for the truth.
I have struggled within myself because I know these things and yet I was so very hurt and didn't know how to heal. Over the last few years I have seen a deconstruction in my faith. I still attended church, but I didn't want to be there. My Bible that was once opened regularly, with worn pages and tons of highlights and notes written in the margins now sat on a shelf gathering dust. Worship music was no longer heard in our home. I just couldn't. It felt dirty. It felt like manipulation. My life of praying without ceasing didn't exist. It became words of rejecting God and anger for all the years I had devoted to serving Him and all I received was His rejection in return. I was in a very dark place.
Yet through that time, as much as I was pushing God away, there was still a desire in me that needed to figure it all out. I didn't understand why this person said these horrible things to me. I noticed that as my faith diminished, it did in my family as well. It was as I looked at my daughters that I knew I had to start figuring this out.
When COVID became a thing and the churches were closed, I was thankful. I struggled going to church, some Sundays I would go to church and stand in a location where a lot of people would pass by and they just passed by. I had no connections there, the people I did reach out to at the time of my hurt just dismissed it. I didn't understand how deep it would affect me, so I can't blame them for not knowing either. People have always said that I am such as strong individual, but everyone struggles, some just hide it better.
As months, then years of my struggle have gone by I have asked myself a lot of questions. Today my anger towards God is less, I don't hear His small still voice like I once did, but I feel His presence. I now search for truth. That is in the scriptures. That is always where I have found my hope, joy and peace. I am going back to the scriptures to search for healing on this journey. I am thankful for the deconstruction of my faith. It has helped me to develop roots that will become my strong foundation. I still have a lot of healing to do. But after a couple of years, I am beginning to feel more like myself. I am not scared about who I am in the dark. I am ready to give it light. I am ready to share more than I need to because that is just who I am.
I am ready to take the first step on this new journey and I am ready to start sharing about what many would like to keep in the dark.
It has been a long time since I have made time to write. I have been walking quite the journey over the past two years and I haven't taken the time to process it all.
So, last night I made myself a cup of tea and sat with my journal - it has been a long time. I turned to a blank page and it just sometimes that blank page just stares back at you - you have so much to write but you don't know where to begin or how to start.
When I teach my journaling workshops I always ask the group to start with the date. It is always a good place to start.
So with the date in the top right corner, the words began to flow.
Finally after four pages I felt like I had made a good start. There has been a lot going on and my heart needs a lot of healing. I have always found writing to be a form of healing for me. When I wrote my book it caused me to deal with a lot of issues from my past so that I was free to move forward in my life.
With all that is going on with the COVID-19 I have been found myself coaching people again. One of the main things that I tell people is that they need to start writing about this experience. As we write it is incredible to see the awakenings and healing that can emerge.
I have always felt that my life experiences and character building exercises are for me to share. As with my book and my journey over the past two years, I heal by writing and sharing. And hopefully through my sharing I can help others on their journeys.
Do you know that in individuals who have experienced a traumatic or extremely stressful event, expressive writing can have a significant healing effect. In fact, participants in a study who wrote about their most traumatic experiences for 15 minutes, four days in a row, experienced better health outcomes up to four months later
Finally, keep the following in mind while you are journaling:
Find a notebook and just start writing. It's where you will find me - and I will be blogging more over the coming weeks as well. I have a lot to work through - it's time to start the healing.
When life throws a few character building exercises at you, how do you process? How do you work through it?
I have been trying to figure this out for myself. In the past I have always used teaching. Yep, I would be struggling with something, I would do tons of research to learn and grow and then I would feel compelled to share it with everyone, whether they wanted to learn about it or not.
This time it's different. I can't explain what I am trying to deal with - I don't know what to google!!!
I feel like I am lugging this huge weight around and I don't know how to fix it. I feel broken in a way I have never experienced before, and I don't know how to move forward.
I have been carrying this for the past two years and I need to be able to move forward.
I do not have all the answers. I am not sure what moving forward means or looks like. But I am finally ready to start taking steps forward.
Are you carrying something? Want to join me?
It's always better to work through something with friends who are there to support and encourage. What do you say?
I know for me I have a lot of areas in my life that have been impacted. Through what has happened to me emotionally, mentally and spiritually has been affecting me physically as well. So there is a lot of work to do.
Through my blog and social media I will be sharing how and what I am learning (I apparently still feel the need to teach - even when I have no idea what I am doing 😂 ). I'm even thinking about resurrecting my old podcast - what do you think?
Join me on my journey on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/carolyn.carleton/ and sign up for my emails if you want to learn more.
Leave me a comment and let me know if you want to join me on the journey. We are in this together! I need all the support I can get.
I have to admit that I come across as a confident person, but really I am a chicken!
Far too often I give up too easily, I start off strong but then I get in my own way. This is something that I will never have to stop working on.
I know deep down in my gut things that I need to do and yet I still hold back. Why oh why do I continually do that! Am I the only one that does this?
I am making a list of what I know I need to do and I am going to put my view of myself and my abilities to the side and I am going to Be Bravely ME!
Why am I choosing this?
Because others may be missing out on something that I can share with, a way that I can encourage them, a life lesson that they can relate to.
So here I am making a public proclamation that I will actively choose to begin working on what the still small voice has laid heavy on my heart. Ready, set, here I go!!!!!!!
Life sometimes just feels so full. Sometimes too full. I am wondering how it got that way.
Since having health problems for over a year now, I have tried to slow down and yet I still feel like I am running around like a crazy person. At the end of the day I continue to ask myself, "What did I accomplish today?" And sometimes I can't think of anything but yet my day felt so full.
Why do I choose to do this to myself each day? I know I need to slow down. I had physio today and yikes am I sore right now. I felt really good when I came home but right now I feel really tight and sore, and well, like a truck hit me. Physiotherapists really know how to hurt a person. :) But I know that I will continue to get better from this. That all of this pain will help me in the long run.
Kinda sounds like life lessons. Well, it is how it works for me most of the time. You know the character building exercises that we go through in our lives? It really sucks when you are in those places in your life, but then in the end when you can see what you were learning and how it helped you. In a weird and yet wonderful way it all seems worth it in the end.
I guess that is what physio is going to do for me. I am not going to feel like a 90 year old woman anymore. I will be able to run and play with our daughters again. I wish I wasn't in this place right now but I know that I am taking the right steps, on the right path to get to where I need to be. I just have to figure out how to slow down this ride of life that seems like it is spinning out of control. I know I need to cut somethings out of my life, but where do you start cutting? Who do you cut?
I was talking to my husband about having to cut some things and he asks me, that if I decided to leave something, "Who is going to lose out from having me involved?"
It is interesting to look at things from the larger perspective - I start cutting things that I wouldn't mind losing, but what effect is that going to have on other people? There is more to life than ourselves. Even though that is what the media likes to teach us - 'Life is all about me!" Someone else is always going to be affected by every decision that we make. Man! I thought I had difficult decisions to make before, but now it got even worse!
So now my brain hurts along with my back. So I am going to bed, and hopefully when I wake up tomorrow I will try to take my day bit by bit and enjoy the day with my husband and our daughters and not worry about the next thing on my to-do list that I feel I need to cross off. Hey, I bought a new purse today! Life is good!
In life there comes a time when you have to put the baggage down and move on.
I was tired. So tired of carrying around baggage filled with the "old me". It felt like when you go to the grocery store and glace at the carts and think to yourself - "I only have a few things on my list I will just use a basket." Seriously! Then we struggle to make it to the check out with a basket overflowing and groceries tucked in wherever we can find room and walk as fast as we can to the conveyor belt that will save our groceries before gravity wins.
I once carried the baggage of my past around - crushing myself under the strain of the weight. I was on a journey - on a new path - I was a new creation. My past was gone - only it didn't feel gone. It was there staring at me when I woke up in the morning. I dragged it around all day and it became a part of my work - relationships - future. It filled my thoughts as I fell asleep each night.
I longed for the "new creation." What did it look like? How is it possible?
I have always found that asking myself questions is the only way that I can work toward finding the answers - and then I need to stop and listen.
You know what I heard?
"Stop carrying it around." Simple and yet so profound.
It was my own selfishness that was holding on to what was no longer a part of who I am.
It was time to put the baggage down and move on. I had a pretty firm grip, this was not going to be easy - but it was necessary.
I can remember the thoughts of weakness, a loss of power, a loss of identity. But as I began to walk away, the ability to take a deep beautiful breathe of freedom filled me with such peace. Oh, how I longed for peace. Another deep long breath - the weigh began to slowly lift. What a beautiful journey.