I wanted to try and expand my world, even if just whisper-thin.
I had come to a place where my new normal looked nothing like it did before.
I was someone who was walking through post-traumatic stress. But, what kind of life could I live now, while I’m in recovery?
I had been going to a mommy-and-me class with my three-year-old once a week since fall last year.
And I had started the class immersed in the silent chaos of anxiety attacks that could happen any time during the day.
I kept to myself and hardly spoke to any of the mommies — except for a “Hi” or casual “How are you?”.
I was there to hang out with CJ, which was the only reason why I even signed up to be there in the first place.
This mommy-and-me class was the one time a week I could lavish undivided attention on my second born — uninterrupted for a big chunk of time — to do crafts, paint, play and sing songs together. Without the need to clean up the mess or hurt myself trying to think up creative crafty things to do.
Because you see, I’m not so crafty. At all.
But, this class makes up for this. All the supplies are laid out for projects that are age-appropriate and parent-kid proofed. We simply walk in with our hair a mess, clothes crumpled and homey-looking. Every week offers a different theme, matched up with a round-robin of theme-inspired activities to enjoy with our child.
So, for the entirety of last year’s classes, I did not interact much with the other mommies, simply because I’d be either holding myself together (barely) or afraid that at any moment, the social demands of engagement would just be too much.
But, as the new year was approaching, I felt moved to brainstorm a small list of small movements I can take in the new year.
These were so small, I even hesitate to write to you about them.
These movements seem so pitiful ordinary and so simple, it makes me feel embarrassed to even confess that I even put them on a mental list.
These movements seem so insignificant, confiding in you about them seems to validate how very frail I’ve become.
But, I know this feeling is my broken self speaking.
This voice I’m having to speak in feels small and insignificant.
And that is exactly the reason why I must bring this part of me into the light. Here with you.
Because the easiest thing to do is to silence the parts of ourselves that feel timid and unsure.
But, I’m learning those are very places in our souls Jesus is longing to touch and bring back to life — so we can find our place in this world.
I told you about one of those ideas that started to emerge into my thoughts, the way honey first drops thick and heavy into a cup of hot tea: clearing the clutter from my drawers.
Even though from the outside, you’d never think time capsules of papers and momentos were stuck in transit, sitting in the dark of a closed space.
But, let me tell you first about another idea that began to float to the top, like faint sweetness that warms your mouth as you taste that first sip of honeyed tea, before you decide it needs a second stir with your teaspoon.
I thought to myself, I don’t know how long God will hold me in this place of tension and dissonance.
Is there anything I can offer to Christ in this place of prison?
Smallest of Ideas
My thoughts drifted to the cold iron bars of a cell darkened by chains and the murky damp of isolation. Paul the apostle. So on fire for God, so much passion to go beyond bounders, and what an orator he was, drawing crowds in the great cities of the Roman Empire’s gilded age.
Yet, prison was where Jesus sent Him. Out of all the places God could have sent Paul, that was where he was to remain. He could not go where he wanted. Even the last days of his life were spent no further than his front door, for he was confined to house arrest.
And what did Paul do when he was imprisoned? Nothing, except write a handful of letters to a small number of people. Very short letters, if you think about it– compared to classics written by men who were free to roam in the city squares, like Sophocles and Homer.
But, Paul wrote from where he was at — when he could write — if at all.
And so, this smallest of ideas floated to rest on my heart.
What small movements could I make — if and when moments of the fog lifts — even if the sum of them amounted to nothing at all?
If there is anything I’ve learned in working through trauma — and re-living it with Jesus — it’s this:
Being present is everything.
I decided I would try to talk with someone in my mommy-and-me class. And I would listen more than speak. Because I can’t sustain too long a conversation.
I chose to trust that Jesus was present in me.
I chose to trust that by simply being present with someone, I was bringing Jesus to them.
I didn’t need to do anything.
I didn’t even need to say much of anything (I can’t. Which if you knew me in real life, pre-PTS, you’d know was killing me!)
I chose to believe the smallest movement I make to be present would be bringing Jesus in me to light.
Now, before you think I suddenly rose from the grave and was free from my ailments after this prayer, let me tell you quickly and right away.
I was raccoon eyed, pale-lipped, joint-aching exhausted, dragging my what-not-to-wear self to that first class of the new year.
I did not feel inspired in the least bit as I stood there, dizzy from a night without much sleep.
A mommy looking very tired stood near me.
So, I asked her, “Hi, how’s it going?” I didn’t even remember her name (I had to look at her name tag).
She smiled widely, eyes coming to life, “Great!… How are you?”
“Oh, I’m hanging in there. I’m very tired.” I smiled weakly. I noticed she had a limp in her stance.
“I noticed you were limping a bit. What happened?”
“Oh, it’s nothing.” She shrugs her shoulders and smiles some more. “I just slipped down the stairs. It’s so stupid. It’s just bruised.”
“Oh, that must have hurt…” I grimaced. “Does it bother you at night?”
“Actually… It kinda does…” She confides.
“When you’re not feeling well, it can get worse at night.” I offer. “It’s so distracting… Makes it hard to sleep.”
“That is so true…” She whispers. “It’s terrible. I haven’t been sleeping…”
And so, for longer than I would have predicated, she tells me about her doctor visits and how it’s more than a bruise. How stressful it is to try and go to physical therapy, all the while, feeling pain every time she has to run up and down the stairs.
I listen and I nod because I can hardly breathe freely myself.
Then, we both laugh about how insane it is, to have the hardest job in the world taking care of our kids as moms, without time off for sick days.
This was the only one conversation I could sustain for that day, so I didn’t think too much about it.
I thought, If this is all I’m able to do. One small conversation. Dude. My life has become a shadow of what it could be.
But, just as I think this, I hear another woman comment in a circle of moms chatting off to the side.
“Oh, man. When I’m depressed, the most important thing for me to do is to stay away from people who are depressed. No thank you.”
“Totally. I just want to surround myself with happy people,” agreed another.
That’s when I knew. The conversation I just had means more to the heart of Jesus than what I thought to be true.
Room For Small
The world does not have room for small.
But, Jesus has made His home in you and me.
You and I hold one of the greatest gifts we can offer to another person.
We can be present —
— as we are,
— whenever we can,
— however we are able to.
Because the smallest movements are not measured by impact, numbers or even duration by Jesus.
“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.:
~ Hebrews 11:1
In Jesus eyes, the smallest movements we make by faith — believing Jesus is making them with us — brings Him the deepest pleasure and holds immeasurable worth.
Jesus sees the weight of your faith by the expense you’ve expended to exercise it — the hardness, the fear and even the doubt you put on the line, to carry it out.
Make that list of small movements, friends.
Write it down and don’t let anyone tell you it’s not worth anything.
Not even when that person is yourself.
Because Jesus is taking that list, reading it with great compassion and He’s making it His.
“Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put
and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury.
Many rich people threw in large amounts.
But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins,worth only a fraction of a penny.
Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others.
They all gave out of their wealth;
but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had…”
~ Mark 12:41-44
What are some small movements God’s put on your heart?
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*Today’s 2/7/13 Writing Prompt: “Trust” (inspired by Faith Jam contributers Renee, HisFirefly, and Amy Nabors’ One Word 2013.
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Oh, wow, you have no idea how much I relate to this!! Seriously, this very topic has been on my mind so much lately because I so often feel odd making mental to-do lists of small tasks for myself too….but literally just today I was feeling distressed by not getting many big things done lately, and so I can’t tell you how much it encouraged me to read this post right now which reminds me that it’s more than OK to simply do what we can, small things….that Jesus truly values those things especially when they’re tough and come from faith!! Truly, that is an amazing blessing for me today, the exact message that I needed! Congratulations for stepping out and talking with the other parent–what a beautiful story of faith! Yay for the “small” things–not really small at all when done by faith! Thank you for such an inspiring story, thank you for taking the time to share it!! Many blessings to you!!
Without fail, every time, your posts are simply awesome Bonnie. I am awestruck by your consistent courageousness in allowing Jesus to speak to us, through your tremendous brokeness. What an example you are. What an aweseome inspiration. Thank you xxx
Great devotional. Thank you for the energy it must have taken for you to write it. You are so right–nothing we do in His name is insignificant.
I’m not a facebooker or blogger, but I used to do a lot of writing. Until this past summer when I dared to write about some horribly wrong experiences from my childhood. I just sat in a small tent in my backyard with my laptop and let it flow out.
And flow out it did. I haven’t written a word besides a few sporadic posts about gardening since then. Also for some reason I am now unable to clean my house or finish any project I start. Not that I haven’t had these tendencies before but somehow it seems — as a direct result of this past summer’s writing — the tendencies have blossomed into a fullblown disorder. And that’s all I have right now — fullblown disorder all around me.
I definitely feel ashamed and kind of crippled in a way I just haven’t been in touch with before. I mean I had discussed the issues in therapies before, and in small women’s groups at church. I had moved through forgiveness processes seemingly endless times before, and felt again and again that Jesus had led me through it all and out the other side into acceptance and healing.
Probably that’s what led me to the point where I was able to write about it. But I was always able to manage my facade, until I wrote that fearlessly about the experiences this past summer.
Your “fried rice” article was a real help to me I want you to know. Because almost everything I’ve done since past summer has that unfinished quality, and so for me can be viewed as yet another fried rice ingredient lol. The idea that Jesus could use all these loose ends was a real encouragement!
And today when I tracked down your PTS reference and what it meant, I was blown away by how similar our experiences had been and had to write to say thank you for being this forthcoming and honest.
For me the small movement will involve being fully present while I move out in faith, choosing to know that Jesus will be with me while I move through this mess, cleaning as much as I am able. That somehow re-experiencing the horrendous episodes has been a movement forward. Though I feel my personality at this point rates somewhere in the neighborhood of lump-on-a-logdom.
“though he slay me yet will I trust him”
Thank you for your wonderful insights
Hi Holly, I wanted you to know that I wrote a chapter in my book yesterday about the disorder and the clutter that had been surrounding me since I experienced PTS. Since I started writing. It’s that part of us that is suddenly emerging, and we’re stuck, in fear of what’s happened to us in the past. Being frozen. It’s not us “now”, but us back then. I asked a friend to come help me de-clutter, because it was getting worse and worse. I could see it. It’s a painful process. Because I didn’t want to let go of anything. But, the pain of letting go was also part of my healing. I hope you are well, friend. You’re not alone.
Live knowing we are not the source of life, but the channel. Cracked and broken, paper thin, meaning still surges, drips, and pours over our limits, through broken hands. If we connect by choosing love, we share the gift given to us. And since it never was our own, we find far more than we contain in that woven moment.
And those two women … wow! Happy people cause more damage by rasping careless over wounds. (I almost ranted, but managed not to.) Yes, you are needed. You saw right past that woman’s mask of social response and connected to her heart. I bet the encouragement lasted all day.
Have you read the story “Leaf by Niggle” by Tolkien? We’re studying the book Every Good Endeavor by Timothy Keller at The High Calling, and he kind of summarizes this story in the introduction. I posted about it on Monday because it really stuck with me that every tiny thing we do because of Him has an impact that we can’t even imagine. Love you big, girlfriend.
Oh, and I’m linking last Friday’s post because I got a week ahead and was thinking about your trust prompt along with Lisa Jo’s afraid prompt. 🙂
Thank you again Bonnie! I suffer from depression, but some days I am just as paralyzed as you in social situations…I think “why bother ?” But then you share something like that and show me how every little thing we do can mean something to Jesus!
God is speaking to me through each topic you discuss, post after post. Thank you for letting him use you, no matter how small the progress may seem. You are doing so much for God’s glory.
Have a blessed day.
Your words sound so familiar. Sometimes it is all I can do to have that one conversation and be present with the person. YOU were amazing. Jesus in you was amazing. Your conversation was REAL and a listening heart is all she might have needed at the time. I am also taking small steps of trust and talking with a loved one who betrayed me. I actually wrote a bit about that today for the jam on trust.
I love you friend. I wish I had some wise words to offer other than that. I wish I could just take all this from you, but I can’t. Please know I am praying for you everyday.
Thank you for sharing. I have been going through some tough times myself. What you wrote was very touching. Thank you and God bless.
Your words are balm to the hurting, my friend. Your bravery to step into these wounded and weary places of the heart is so encouraging to the body of faith in the blogosphere. I am so thankful for you, my friend. Praying hard for you. I am facing a recurrence of PTSD (that I thought I was DONE with!!!) so I know a little of what you are walking through. If you ever want to talk…you have my email!
Today’s post resonated with me in a way that made me want to scream out loud, “YES!” Someone else knows how it feels to be so vulnerable, so fragile, so afraid that at any given moment you might break, and no one will understand what is happening.
Bonnie, please know that your courage to be so transparent, and your faith in Jesus encourages me, as well as others.
I think there’s maybe something here you may not have realized. While you indeed brought Jesus to these women, they also brought Jesus to you.
I am being reminded that it is not good to always be alone. He means for us to commune with others; doing so is like watering and fertilizing a plant to nurture it as it grows. some times being present is what matters not the conversation.
Your words really spoke to me this morning and encouraged me. I have struggled with desiring the approval of others and not feeling acceptable to God. But reading about choosing to believe and trust that Jesus is present in me and values even my smallest efforts has brought me such peace. I have copied this, am posting it on my wall so I can read it over and over. Thank you!
Oh Bonnie, how this post touched my heart! I remember a period of time when I was absolutely crippled with anxiety, and I was a young mother at the time also. And yes, I can remember the effort I had to expend just trying to get through a *normal* day. I applaud your (not-so-small) movements toward other people. I know it took great courage. And your courage has greatly blessed me today.
I was reminded of this verse from Zechariah 4:10 (NLT):
“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin…”
Yes, and He notices EVERY single step we take – whether it’s a small one or a giant leap.
Sharon – THANK YOU for sharing that verse! It just spoke to me so much.
Bonnie, I have been following your posts out of brokenness and appreciating your willingness to allow other journeying souls to travel with you. I struggle with OCD and just came through another horrible bout of it mixed with depression. Your post today gave me pause – why don’t I ask Jesus to come into that darkest night of my soul? I become very isolated (and as you said, communicating becomes a task), and can only function through the “have-to’s” while “managing my facade” (love that phrase, Holly). For some reason, I have tended not to ask Him to enter it with me though I did call out to Him this time as the battle was so intense. Thank you for being God’s nudge to risk the shame and vulnerability of inviting Him into the prison. He’s already there – I just haven’t wrapped my mind around that yet.
Soldier on, sister.
I hope you read this comment…and I hope you really “hear” it. I appreciate you so much. You are so very real. I know it must be hard for you to type out words that you are trying to figure out yourself! But, your words speak to me…or better yet, God speaks to me through you. Being the moldable clay in The Potters hands can sometimes hurt, but what a vessel He is working on, with you. I hope that this is a good week for you, my friend. I continue to lift you up in prayer:)
Your honest writing, heart-story telling about PTSD will be used by God in your life and in the lives of others. I have two sisters experiencing much the same heart-wrenching challenges as you are. The feeling that “you’re the only one” or that you’re going insane compounds the heaviness. I am blessed to know you’re story, too, share it with them and together trust that God is rebuilding hearts, beliefs and lives through this. Bless, bless, bless you. Aly
I am writing through my tears today because I had a task today that always feels big. Something I have been doing for several years and want to continue but every time it falls due I have an anxiety attack. (twice a month). I cried (real tears today) before God. How small are these tasks and yet I can barely do them. When I got up from praying I did FEEL better and I completed the task. Then I went to fb and saw your post and came to read. SMALL movements you wrote. Tears flowing…I took my small movement today. Telling God I feel ridiculous because so many people do so much more and here your post today is about small movements. God speaking to me comfort through your words. Thank you!
I wish I had words for how blessed I am every time I read your posts. I too am walking through the PTS of having been trafficked for 12 years in my childhood. I cried last night telling my husband that it feels like this pain will always rule my life – how sad I am that my world has become so very small and how lonely it is to stay in our apartment day in and day out with no contact with others. I think about making plans of one kind or another – plans to make a simple trip to the zoo with our kids even, and am immediately aware of how out of reach even something so simple is for me right now. Your last post about finding something to do for your husband to bless him because of the tremendous load he has picked up in doing most of what I used to do….and this post about finding some tiny way to bless Jesus by being present for a small thing, even if just for the people in my home……just the reminder that He sees my heart and calls these tiny things worthy opens my heart to His love for me in a way that I so often struggle to see right now. We are used to measuring our worth to him in ways that are all wrong…..Please don’t stop offering what seems insignificant to you because for those in this same boat, your words bring life beyond description. Bless you!
From the bottem of my heart – Thank you.
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It was good to speak to the lady and draw her out in conversation. So often we just say find thank you and let it go at that.
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Thank you Bonnie! Your “small movements” encouragement gives us all hope! 🙂 Isn’t that what we are all doing…each one of us in our own way, taking one small step forward…each day…getting stronger…looking more like Jesus.
We are listening, obeying and helping others, as we help ourself.
Blessings to you today!
The world does not have room for small.
But, Jesus has made His home in you and me.
Those words are so encouraging b/c it seems that is what I have now also. My life was altered years ago also. I’ve struggled past the fears to find more, but little by little I reclaim my life. I never saw Paul as you described him…sitting in a cell writing a handful of letters. He’s always been so huge in my mind…scary even…but he did impact our faith. Your post encourages me to get back into scripture and see it with new eyes. Oh to have a Sunday School teacher like you…real and honest. God bless you as you bless us so much. 😀
So proud of you, both for your small movement and sharing them with us.
Thank you for sharing…”little is much in the Master’s hand”. I could not believe what you were writing…my exact thoughts!
Where is the woman I used to be? The woman who loved, needed to interact with people? Some days, it seems all I can do is to sit…just to “be”.
Is this what I am now? What does my future look like? What, if anything can I accomplish in this place of healing?
What I could offer seemed so small, if anything at all.
Then I realized that the woman I used to be is still here & if I am to recover her totally, I must be willing to fight for her.
This scripture gives me strength, “Do not gloat over me my enemy. Though I have fallen, I WILL arise. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be (is) my light. Micah 7:8.
I too decided that no matter how small, my small, I must begin, and so I have: notes of encouragement, small conversations, small tasks, but I will arise!
I have begun to accept that this is where I am, but not where I will always be. For now, I must accept the job of healing…”Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator.” 1 Peter 4:19.
God is a God of love & it is not his purpose to suffer, but when we have suffered at the hands of others or our own poor choices, it is God’s desire to redeem those places. We must trust Him to take us THROUGH, not just somehow, but TRIUMPHANTLY!
I have set my spiritual compass to “wholeness” and when come out of this healing process, I will come with much ammunition to plunder the enemy of our souls to free others to the glory of God.
Thank you, Bonnie; your little is much in the Master’s hand!
This means so much to me, Bonnie! THANK YOU for writing!
Bonnie, thank you for these thoughts, straight from your heart. It was very encouraging, as often we think that our actions have to be big and grand; but what a beautiful reminder that even the smallest thing, done in faith, is so important. It’s all about God in us – not what we do ourselves. So blessed to read your writing!
Bonnie, you are so right. He celebrates even the weakest leaps of faith we can take, some that look more like a limp than a leap. The small mustard seed size faith I offer makes a difference in His hands. I have been talking small leaps (limps) of faith in my new job. The fear is taking a lot out of me, but you have reminded me, with your bravery, Who it is I offer my meager steps of faith to in the first place. *hugs from my side of the world*
I hope to jump back on the Faith Jam wagon soon!!
Oh Bonnie, I don’t know how God does it but your posts always seem to come right at the time when I need them most. I just started this small prayer/sharing group at my workplace with some of the Christian girls. I’m filled with so much apprehension and so afraid that I’ll some how mess it up and then God sends this post. I know He was the one who made this happen and He will be the one who will lead and guide it. It’s just basically sharing an article that I feel will encourage them from incourage and then we pray before we lead worship in the afternoon for the children in my student care centre.
Still thinking of you always and praying for you on your journey. Sending you lots of love!
Bonnie, I can imagine what a relief it must have been for that woman to have someone finally understand. Your courage always inspires me. I also had very bad anxiety for years, especially when I was going through a serious illness. I would be consumed with anxiety in every single social situation, through every meeting at work, on the train home. It was so easy to live inside my own head all the time – focused on trying to hide my fear. Whenever I met someone who understood what it was to be less than perfect or to hurt, it was like I was breathing oxygen after years of smothering myself. Your simple words and conversation surely felt the same to her, especially if she felt like she had to be “OK” for everyone else. I hope that you also find that oxygen and that you know what a blessing you are to all of us every day. I will be praying for you.
Bonnie, as always I am inspired by your writing. I have been reading all posts linked here and it came to me that your transparency and honesty has given us all courage to write from places deep within with our own transparency. You are in my prayers and the prayers of so many…….so grateful God led me to your cyber home.
“This voice I’m having to speak in feels small and insignificant.” Yes. YES. Thank you for continuing to speak through the hard days of a life. You are giving me courage to speak, too, however faltering and incomplete it feels. And really, for us writers, to speak our hearts is to breathe. We are breathing together, all of us broken ones, trusting God to take our feeble offerings and use them for His Glory. Giving thanks for the few nights of rest you had this week and praying hard for more of them to come soon. Grace to you, Bonnie.
I’m a little late to the party but I wanted to participate. Trust was my one word for 2011. I’ve grown since that time but I’m always on a growth journey.
Sometimes those little steps seem huge but God is with you each step of the way Bonnie. I am cheering you on sister. And I’m also praying you on.
Blessings and love,
Thank you. Just the effort of writing and sharing must be taxing to you, but I really want you to know how much it’s appreciated. Thank you.
Dear Bonnie, Thank you for this deep encouragement to just be and trust Jesus in us to reach out and listen and hear what He has heard and be Jesus with skin to another hurting woman.
It may take all the strength of the moment but it seems His life flowing through is like a promise of resurrection.
I just wanted to share with you how much my brother James has been inspired by your articles. Whenever i receive one i print it and send it to him. He is in a prison in Tx . Thankyou for sharing from your deep heart . Your relationship with the Lord is beautiful. Thankyou for who you are,
[…] (a day late due to a crazy day at work and an even crazier cold) and the always incredible Faith Jam over at Faith Barista again […]
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