Frozen by Feelings

I’ve been there…. way too many times.

  • I’ve lashed out at a loved one because I felt so strongly that they needed my version of help – bringing a cold chill to our relationship.
  • I’ve procrastinated to the point I couldn’t preform my best because I didn’t feel worthy or capable of the task at hand…. I simply “froze up”.

In short, I’ve been frozen in my tracks from doing the very things my Maker designed me to do because of my feelings.

But, I’m not going to be able to turn my feelings off. Nor should I. Feeling things deeply and intensely is simply part of my Maker’s unique design of me.

I’m learning to love myself and the way I feel things so deeply – even though I’ve spend much of my life wanting to turn my feelings off. And I’ve been told by many well-intended people that I could and even should simply not feel so deeply.

Again… there is just no “off switch” for these feelings of mine.

The lesson I am learning is that I can choose to do the things I need to do in spite of deep sensitivity and strong waves of emotion….. or even learn do things with my own unique brand of excellence because I am learning to channel the depths of these feelings into what I’m doing rather than being frozen in my tracks because of them.

When Maker instructed us to “Choose life that you may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19), there was no caveat of “unless your feelings don’t let you”. But He will give us the strength to follow His steps through the midst of those feelings, much the way he led the Israelites out of Egypt through the middle of the Red Sea. (This story is found in Exodus 14:19-31)

All of this is why this quote from Mel Robbins hit home today:

“Your feelings aren’t a choice. Your behavior and your actions always are.”

May “the same power that rose Jesus from the grave” (Romans 8:11) give you the strength to embrace everything your Maker has for you to do and be in the midst of everything you’re feeling today.

The da Vinci Team

Is your team a da Vinci team?

One of my favorite colleagues is a funny and smart process engineer named Alireza. You know the type.... If there were something higher than a Six Sigma black belt (a platinum belt with bling, perhaps?), he probably would easily achieve it.  

One day, I lamented to Alireza that I wished I had more his focus, organization, and straight-forward strategic thinking. He replied by encouraging me that I have gifts that he doesn't and that he admired my creativity, communication skills, and ability to connect with just about anyone. 

But I continued my "woe is me" moment by saying, "But I want to be more naturally focused as well. I want your strengths and mine!"

Alireza's reply to this was, "If you had all the 'giftings', you would be da Vinci!" (He and I are both fans of good old "Leo"). 

The conversation not only made me feel a bit better about myself, but it helped me better understand the importance of teams. 

It truly takes all of our different "wirings" and skill sets to accomplish most things worth accomplishing. 

The goal of an effective team shouldn't be to clone each other. Rather, we should be constantly striving to bring out each other's skills and gifts in order to bring the needed balance and momentum to achieve our goals.

Would you say you are part of a da Vinci team? If not, what steps are needed to get there?

Just a few thoughts to "chew on" over the weekend!


Simply Not Enough

In case I’m not the only one who has those days of simply feeling not enough to accomplish any and every task in front of me, please remember these words Saint Paul wrote to the Church in Rome so long ago: “The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.”- Romans‬ ‭8:11‬ ‭(New Living Translation)

(And thanks to The WORD Among Us for having just the right words at just the right time in your devotional guide today! )

Paradox

For today’s blog post: some photography from 5 years ago paired with a little lunchtime poetry….

PARADOX

in the breaking

lies the becoming

in the standing still

the strength for running

out of deepest anguish

lies great healing

ugliness exposed is

beauty’s revealing

unending paradox

lies in this mystery

what we’re avoiding

may just set us free

©2021 Tracy Mauro

Nothing is Beyond….

Another post. Another news report.

More sorrow. More anger. More frustration.

And there are moments these days where all of these emotions flow through my own soul in a split second “roller-coastering” along with the highs of the joy and thankfulness of next breaths that so many in our world no longer have….

It is so easy for all of us to feel that nothing will untangle the messes in our world and in our own hearts so light can get through again.

But today I read Psalm 139 and I was reminded of these lyrics from a song written by Rich Mullins & a Ragamuffin Band back in the early 1990s called, Nothing is Beyond You:

Where could I go, where could I run
Even if I found the strength to fly
And if I rose on the wings of the dawn
And crashed through the corner of the sky
If I sailed past the edge of the sea
Even if I made my bed in Hell
Still there You would find me
‘Cause nothing is beyond You
You stand beyond the reach
Of our vain imaginations
Our misguided piety
The heavens stretch to hold You
And deep cries out to deep
Singing that nothing is beyond You
Nothing is beyond You
Time cannot contain You
You fill eternity
Sin can never stain You
Death has lost its sting
And I cannot explain the way You came to love me
Except to say that nothing is beyond You
Nothing is beyond You
If I should shrink back from the light
So I can sink into the dark
If I take cover and I close my eyes
Even then You would see my heart
And You’d cut through all my pain and rage
The darkness is not dark to You
And night’s as bright as day
Nothing is beyond You
You stand beyond the reach
Of our vain imaginations
Our misguided piety
The heavens stretch to hold You
And deep cries out to deep
Singing that nothing is beyond You
Nothing is beyond You
And time cannot contain You
You fill eternity
Sin can never stain You
And death has lost its sting
And I cannot explain the way You came to love me
Except to say that nothing is beyond You
Nothing is beyond You
Nothing is beyond You

(Copyright 1998 – Liturgy Legacy Music / Word Music / ASCAP / White Plastic Bag Music / SESAC / De Cristos Music / BMI)

These words were such a sweet reminder that although we human-types have collectively made a mess of our world and wandered far from the Garden we were created for, we can never ever ever wander beyond our Maker’s reach.

What If….

One beautiful byproduct of this horrible pandemic is that the way we meet and gather is changing.

Yes, we all long for the time when the “6 feet apart” rule is ancient history and we once again can sit shoulder to shoulder at concerts, games, church services, etc. But have you noticed that when we’re shoulder to shoulder – we’re not face to face?

We’re doing a different type of gathering right now – and maybe that’s not all bad.

So… the other night I inadvertently conducted an experiment with 5 of us from my church’s small group as we gathered at my apartment community’s clubhouse for a little get-together. The room is so awesome and spacious that it is a “safe place” to gather during this strange COVID-19 pandemic season because there’s plenty of room for social distancing.

Anyway… before the group arrived – I didn’t set the room up in any particular way. I just told my friends, “Make yourselves at home.” One thing I noticed is that the furniture was neatly arranged in square formation sitting areas (barstools lines up at the bar, chairs around cute little square tables, and couches and comfy chairs in seating arrangements at about 90 degrees from each other).

I found it passingly interesting that we did not keep any of the furniture in tidy squares while actually using it. As we moved around the room chatting and enjoying food and drink throughout the evening, we always seemed to end up in loosely formed circles facing each other. It was just natural to do that. It was much easier to connect with each other that way than in the tidy and eye catching square formations throughout the room.

I didn’t think much about until the next morning when I picked up a book (moving it out of the way in my almost daily frantic search for the keys before work ritual). The book is called The Church Comes Home by Robert and Julia Banks. Because books are more interesting to me than searches for keys or commutes to work – I mindlessly flipped through the pages.

Well…. I “happened” to land on pages 36-37 and my eyes were drawn to these diagrams there:

A little backstory on why these pictures and thoughts of my small group gathering from the prior evening became significant to me…. You see, I think my life and the pages of days within it – good, bad, and ugly – has essentially been a quest for authentic community, a Ragamuffin Oasis. (Now you see where my blog’s title comes from).

Perhaps you are not unfamiliar with this longing for authentic community: a community that perhaps seeks not as much to form you as to hold you – as you are.

And…. having spent the largest part of my formative years at some church function or another – I think I automatically assumed that truest form of community and connection could be found at church. However, in my five decades I have not always found that to be the case.

In fact, though I’ve been a part of some incredible churches through the years of all different shapes, sizes, and denominations- I found, at times, that true connection with others was much easier to find in completely non-“churchy” environments.

I’ve been starting to wonder, though, if perhaps church itself isn’t the obstacle to authentic and relevant connection so very necessary for us to thrive. Perhaps our westernized institutionalized version of it is the problem.

When I saw those pictures – the first one

looking like most of the churches in the United States: pews or chairs in tidy front-facing rows with a stage or pulpit up front – I found it interesting that the home church/”early church” pattern of gathering was in natural relational circles.

And, in our informal gathering the other evening and many prior to that outside at a local park (we really have been trying to be good little social distances while trying to create community at the same time), we just naturally formed a circle where we could easily connect with each other. It would have seemed counterintuitive to for one of us to stand in front of the others and everyone else line their chairs up it a neat row facing away from each other and toward the “leader”.

So, why then has our “normal” as churches and other organizations that supposedly have the purpose of creating community been to set up meeting places that automatically take our gazes of each other and toward some stage?

Perhaps this is just one insight and example of why church has become so irrelevant to so many.

Because our current social-distancing circumstances have prevented us from gathering in our normally abnormal traditions, perhaps we are uncovering our true “normal” – our true North of connecting naturally and authentically embedded deeply in our souls by our Maker.

Also, I know a lot of us complain about Zoom meetings and such. But perhaps the reason why all those faces in those “Brady Bunch squares” make us weary and “creep us out” a bit – is that, with the exception of a select few in our inner circles, we haven’t spent a lot of time actually taking in the faces of those around us.

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” –Hebrews‬ ‭10:24-25‬ ‭

Perhaps we (church-goer types) have been “assembling” for generations – yet not really together…. All in one auditorium but never really connecting.

Maybe one blessing birthed from this pandemic season will be that we get our “together” back.

Our Real Journey

One of my current reads is Small Victories by Anne Lamott.

In her opening chapter, she quotes this poem…

And it had captured me.

Perhaps true beginnings can only happen when we are at the end of ourselves.

Our Real Work

-by Wendell Berry

It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,
and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.
The mind that is not baffled is not employed.
The impeded stream is the one that sings.

A Simple Reminder

Remember…. you simply can’t be strong enough to handle everything you’re going through… everything your community and world is going through.

There is only One who can redeem even the darkest places in us. And, we don’t have to grapple, fight, and wrestle to reach Him. He is constantly and compassionately reaching out for us….

Just be held.

PS: I’m redesigning my blog a bit to hopefully help it be a birthplace for my future book: Ragamuffin Oasis: Finding our places you Just Be.

You can help me fulfill my lifelong dream of becoming a writer by clicking that little subscribe button in the corner of your screen so future posts can drop in your email inbox. I have a much better chance of being taken seriously by agents/publishers if my “subscribership” proves that what I write is already being read.

Plus, you can use the comment space on the blog posts to add your thoughts and feedback and join in this ragamuffin journey. We’re all a little raggedy – but have amazing stories to tell.

Hopefully, together we can leave all of our vain striving for perfection in the past and create a safe space for each other to just be.

Thank you so much, Friends!