{Ten Thousand Tears}

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My tears are welcome.

I see them splattered, dried on my glasses as I peer out the window into the wintry, cold, gray, foggy morning;

tiny specks on the panes of my eyeglasses.

I wipe hard at these dried salty witnesses.

They are a record of my sodden heart.

Ten thousand tears come raining down.

The soil of my soul is softened.
Broken apart by tears, which took forever to reappear.  Though I fear

that I cannot stop them, deep down I know that they are what keeps my heart growing.

Soil ready for love, open

to the community of believers,
to grace,
to healing, forgiveness and new life,
to hope.

My tears, such an old and forgotten notion

for me.

When I was a child I pinched my eyes closed to reject my weakness, my torment as I was hollered at by a daddy that

didn’t know

better.

I closed down my heart;

it hurt too much to feel bad all the time.  So I told them, you aren’t welcome here.

And my heart and soul slowly turned

hard as stone.

Today my tears rain down though I fear them, they make no sense

their intensity, they make me vulnerable,

they make me feel weak, even when I know this

is

wrong thinking. But it is true now, I cannot protect my soft heart, sodden and murky, saturated

still,

My tears, they are here to stay I hope, welcome.

MHH

I’ve lived with depression, at some points melancholy as a part of my “personality” for much of my life, but it only became clinical major depression about ten years ago.  A variety of things came into play and I fell into a dark, frightening place. (I tell a little of my story in Not Alone.  I tell parts and pieces here on the blog — under My Story.)

But I have worked hard to face my mistakes and demons,as I did I began to heal and then had the strength to do the personal care that one must do who lives with this sort of mental illness.  

Though I am in a similar place today, depressed I know that I am a different person. I am different  “Spiritual Soil.”  I thank God for that picture that came recently from a friend’s teaching in Luke 8. I know God as I never knew God then.  I sense the Holy Spirit’s whispered truth of healing and hope. I have enough hope to believe the truth that I will heal, I will heal again even as ten thousand tears rain down.  

Much of my blog has been about my depression, beginning in 2001 which worsened through a series of personal and family adversities over the next several years (including the death of my father from brain cancer, during which time my sister and I cared for him in our homes). In 2005, when I became even more severely depressed, I was nearly non-functional, attempted suicide, and I was hospitalized for a while.  

In later years, I became a quiet, desperate drunk attempting to self-medicate and forget..  My drinking addiction grew worse and worse over the period of my depression, becoming debilitating by 2006 or so. This was very difficult for my husband and the children at a quite impressionable age saw me frequently out of control. They are now to the age when these things do impact them, though I got sober in July, four and a half years ago.  

These are not easy things to admit.  They make me feel damaged, weak, and if ever there was a stigma related to being broken I feel it like never before.  But it came to me recently, that I have to write my story.  I have to tell it, and let it go.  So that’s where I will go, to that place of heartache, depression, my experience with being a hard-core fallen down drunken mother and my cavernous personal grief about that, and interlaced in-between is Hope that I have found.  

So as much as I fear my own tears, I fear more the depth of my sorrow and grief when it I shove it back inside.  That’s what makes one depressed.  That’s what made me drink.

I know this is the next step for me, to sort it out  and live hard days, weeks and months of therapy, sleeplessness, and depression ahead.  

I am thankful for the everyday, tangible and incredible voices of love and encouragement I find foremost from my husband, but also from friends and family.

Thanks for all those that read and live this story alongside.  I know there are fellow sufferers.  I know there are others who have family or friends who descend into this murky, sinkhole of a hell and you cannot imagine how to help.  I hope that whatever I find in my story that’s redemptive will one day help others understand, find help, and live through it as you walk beside a fellow sufferer.

This isn’t over for me, my story isn’t written.  

Grace & Peace,

Melody Harrison Hanson

January 29, 2013

When our Traditions and Tired Beliefs are Calcified into Orthodoxy (Brief Thoughts On Women)

 

Yesterday as I was sitting across from one of the people I respect most in the world when my life changed forever. 

You see I have had many long years of being in pain about being a woman in the church, though I am on a path of healing. Yes, this story does have a happy-ish ending.

Okay happy isn’t quite right but I feel hopeful in the knowledge that we have not seen the end of Our Story.

Being a woman in the evangelical Church can be painful.  Being a natural questioner is too.  

More than a decade ago, I began to question the roles of women in the evangelical church and this has brought me a lot of personal pain.  The process of learning what was True – scriptural, cultural, and relevant for us today, was slow and difficult because no one really wanted to talk to me about it or help all that much, as I questioned my pastor, and the elders, and pursued it with others.

Little did I know that in some cases it was because others didn’t really know what they thought.

This is a part of what makes this issue so slippery.  I pushed, sought clarification, and ask for perspectives and read a lot of books! The process of the last ten years has been uncomfortable, isolating and even at times agonizing.

I learned recently that I have even scored a “reputation.”

Not as I would hope of being a thinking, theological person – because I have asked the biblical basis for these things and sought truth. That I would take as a backhanded compliment.

And not as I might wish for being a questioner –because I do have many questions and never saw that as liability as a person of faith.

Rather, I have been called the f-word, yeah that f-word – Feminist. And even more malevolent, an “Angry Feminist.”

Actually, the angry part is true. Once I am able to step back from my defensive, hurt posture, I’ll confess that I have been angry.  I have carried around inside me, close to my heart, an oozing, pussy, and infected spiritual sore and this has been  very bad for my soul.  I even picked incessantly at it.  I have been wounded, offended, bitter and angry and worst of all to me is this.

I have felt unheard.

Sitting there across from my beautiful, big-hearted and loving, Bible cherishing, Jesus following, Holy Spirit filled, Bible Church attending friend, she uttered the most unbelievable words.  And she repeated them when I seemed to just look at her bug-eyed, in shock.

“You are not alone.  You are not the only one wondering what’s true,” she whispered to me.

She asked me this simple question:

 “What did Jesus say about women?”

Well, nothing that I am aware of and I will double-check because she asked. But I am not aware of anything prescriptive that Jesus said about women.

Jesus saw women,

Jesus spoke to women,

Jesus healed women,

Jesus taught women,

Jesus was financially supported by women,

Jesus loved women,

Jesus listened to women?

Jesus was persuaded to change his mind by a woman.

All in a culture and time when women were unseen and unheard, unworthy, unquestioningly invisible.

So I ask you friends.  What did Jesus say about women? And what parts of Scripture bring you hope as you consider the place of women in the church today?

I’ve had a healing of that sore that I allowed to fester for more than a decade.  That incredible story is here.

And I have a renewed challenge by my friend, someone who I never thought would ask about the injustices toward women in the Church.  Because of her, I now dream of somehow bringing a riptide of change into the middle of this vast ocean of tradition and tired beliefs which have been calcified into orthodoxy.

These days, most days, I feel hope about the place of women in the Church. Other days it feels foolish and the lack of certainty is soul crushing.

On the days that I maintain my weak hold on Jesus, I do believe change will come.  And hearing the questions coming from this dear friend meant everything.

I am resolved to begin again to study and write on this topic — I gave it up for a good long while.  The angry feminist in me has become resolved and certain of Jesus and his love for me and all women.  Something shifted in my mind and heart , in my soul as I sat listening to my friend.

I am not alone.  I am not the only one asking.  I am not the only woman looking for answers.  We will find the Truth together.  We have not seen the end of Our Story.

Melody

Other things I have written on these subjects.
//

Let your Fear Fly Free

So often, if I find myself returning in frustration and anger, again and again, to a subject.

When this happens I know that it has become an area of idolatry for me. Or it’s an area that God wants to heal in my life.   Or both!

I’m a slow learner but I’m learning this about myself.  About God.  His Truth is a beautiful thing.  Opening my heart to God’s voice in my life not easy, even unnatural.

How to you do that?  How do you listen well?  And when you know that you need healing by Him, how does this usually occur?  That’s something else I’m learning to allow space for in my life.

For the longest time I drank to try to make that Ugly Thing (you name it) go away. I ignored God’s regular, persistent call.  His knocking was gentle, consistent, reliable true.  But I chose to numb myself with alcohol or shopping or other idols.  But by self-medicating, aren’t we simply postponing the inevitable?  Running from reality.  Ignoring truth. Letting the Ugly Thing win.

Areas where I have seen this in my life recently, where I am letting go of my vice grip of control.

I’m letting fly free the issue of women in my denomination.

I’m letting fly free my need for a “paying job.”

I am letting fly free my need for significance and accolades.

I am letting fly free my self-loathing.

I am letting fly free my wish for my children to know Jesus as their Savior.

These are all things that I have tried to ignore how much they hurt, yes my big gut wrenching fears that control my mind and heart.  And in the end the weight of them crushes my spirit.  I cannot bear the weight of them any longer.

So I open my hands and I see them fly away knowing that the universe is God’s and he is in control of it all.   He loves me, he loves them, more than I ever could.  His desire for justice and truth to prevail  in the Church is stronger than mine.  And in fact he gave me this heart, that breaks and so easily comes undone.

And finally, his desire for me to be useful to him is less than his wish for me to know, fear, and love who he is, the Holy One.

He made me and he’ll carry me and all my fears.

May we be people open to God and able to let go of our need for control whatever it is — it’s so different for everyone. Let them go free into God’s hands, because is it not true that the Holy One is so much more capable than you or me?

What do you need to let fly free?

If you Read Nothing Else from me. Read this. ((On healing))

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So much to read, so little time. I know that.  If you read nothing else from me in a long while, I hope you’ll read this post.  It will not be long. (500+ words, a record.)

I have been writing (and living) out of a place of brokenness for so long that my story has become cliché and not honest – not dishonest exactly, but lacking the truth of my healing ….  A fractured painful childhood, a tenuous if bullheaded short-lived career, accidental stay-at-home motherhood, and loss, depression and loneliness, even alcoholism.  (And the biggest monster under my bed: being a feminist woman in the evangelical church.)

And now, this season that I cannot label because I am still living it.

Perhaps a place of abundance and healing, if only I would open my eyes and see. 

When you are in pain, you tie experiences together to find truth and your story all too easily becomes stuck.  I know this.  Today.  Living the life of Jesus is one of constant transformation.  Renewal.  Healing.

It is time to live into that healing. 

Be the truth that I have experienced.  Stop being “the abused child.” Stop being the frantic workaholic archetype striving for meaning in my work and looking for personal value in everything others do and say about me.

Stop living so empty.

Allow the One who fills, to fill me up overflowing.

Will I continue to talk about injustice?  You’re damn straight!  But I want to do it differently, do it with hope, and grace and peace.

With every part of me, I have wanted to be useful and in my cavernous need to be important I have invalidated myself.  My story.   For that I seek forgiveness and will endeavor to live out of Jesus’ fullness!

Mine is a story of healing and of transformation.  Not because of anything I have done but out of the grace of God and by receiving love from my husband , my children, and from my community of believers.

But by holding on…

to my anger about my upbringing,

to my disappointment with being born woman into a man’s world,

and to my fear that if “allowed to fly” I will flounder, fall, and I will fail.  Well,

I have allowed fear to rule and this is the day that it stops.

I want to live like I believe that the One who began a good work in me is faithful to complete it!

I am going to step toward trust.

Trust the words that I wrote today in the poem Nothing and Everything.

The Holy One accepts you for everything you are today and sees who you are becoming. For this Creator God made you, even chose you and is the architect of your life. The Holy One heals, because we sure need a healing.  Especially when confronted by the hideous ogre of our envy and pride. The Holy One guides and has a plan.“Even for me?” I cry, in the shadowy, nocturnal hours of fear, anger, twisted truths, ignorance, self-delusion and distrust?“YES, even you” whispers The Holy One.

I am going to step toward a life of abundance.  Even for me, my soul quakes?  Yes, even you.

MELODY

P.S.  I am so grateful for my husband.  And for the community of believers that I am a part of – it is a community of grace and abundance.   And I am grateful for my online community which is becoming a rich source of love and support.