#WeekendCoffeeShare (July 2, 2022)

Hi everyone on this first Saturday of July. Wow, can you believe the first half of the year is over with already? I certainly can’t. I’m joining #WeekendCoffeeShare today. I just had my afternoon coffee, but the other residents are probably still having theirs. Let’s have a coffee and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, I’d start out by asking how you are. How’s your weather? Ours has been mixed. Right now, it’s about 23°C and partly cloudy, but we’ve had daytime temps as high as 29°C and as low as 19°C and a mix of sun and rain and thunderstorms.

If we were having coffee, I would share that this week was a mixed bag. I’ve been struggling quite a bit with all the new staff being introduced to me over the week. Now I hear you say what my staff have been saying too: isn’t that better than temp workers? Yes, it is and, thankfully, I didn’t have any temping staff all week. However, on some days, I had two staff introduced to me in a day and this generally meant at least one of them was orienting to my one-on-one shift. This means they’re with me literally all the time and this means I have two staff with me all the time, who are sometimes chatting among themselves about their kids or whatever (sometimes under the guise of the new staff telling me about themself). That cost me a lot of energy. By the middle of the week, I had thankfully been able to get it through to the staff that I don’t like this.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I’ve been struggling a bit with the discrepancy between my emotional development and my intelligence again. I have been reading up on emotional development as it relates to people with developmental disabilities and, though the theory makes perfect sense to me, this does actually create intense turmoil inside of me. This specifically relates to the situation in which staff confront me with my challenging behavior, trying to let me know it’s unacceptable. I am not even always rationally able to see their point, for example when it relates to the temp workers and new staff, but even when I am, it is sheer impossible for me to grasp it emotionally.

If we were having coffee, I would share that, on Monday, some evangelicals were handing out flowers near my neighborhood supermarket. As a progressive Christian, I agreed with a lot but not all of what the woman doing the evangelizing to me said, but I didn’t feel like challenging her. After she started challenging my staff’s Catholic beliefs and all of us noticed the conversation became awkward, I accepted the flowers and moved on. I do feel that this, odd as it may seem, came at the right time, being that it was my birthday and I’d just had a really hard appt with my nurse practitioner. At least yesterday, the flowers still looked quite good.

If we were having coffee, lastly I would tell you I’ve been very crafty lately. The creations I shared yesterday, I had finished late last week. This week, I’ve been experimenting with the plunger cutters I got from the new student staff on Wednesday, as well as with my extruder. I didn’t actually create anything using the extruder yet and I might’ve broken it already after all. Today, I did create a sort of Earth charm. I originally wanted to do the continents much like they are on the real planet, but that didn’t work out.

How have you been?

Rebirth

I remember reading a story some years ago in the book Preemie Voices by Saroj Saigal. This is a collection of autobiographical letters from people who were once premature babies in the university hospital NICU Saigal worked for. I, like the contributors, was a preemie.

In this particular story, the author shared how she felt she has three birthdays: one, her actual birthday, the second, her original due date, and the third, the day of her rebirth. In this author’s case, her rebirth meant being diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome (her choice of words).

I haven’t experienced one such pivotal moment in my life. I mean, I too could choose the day I was diagnosed as autistic (March 16, 2007). Then again, my diagnosis has been removed and reaffirmed so many times that I could just as easily choose the last time I was diagnosed (May 1, 2017). Besides, self-diagnosis is valid too.

I could choose the day I was given long-term care funding (June 4, 2019). Maybe that is the most pivotal moment in my life, but it didn’t exactly mean I was reborn.

I could, of course, choose the day I became a Christ follower (December 7, 2020). Many people in the Evangelical Christian community say they are Born Again and indeed, rebirth in Christ is a common Biblical concept. However, I am more of the opinion that, as Christians, we are on a continuous path towards God. I believe that, each time I consciously pick up my Bible, or the cross my husband gifted me and which I use for prayer, or each time a message from God truly enters me, I am transformed a little bit. I don’t believe that I will be made fully new until the day of Jesus’ return.

All that being said, I do believe I am not the exact same I was a year ago. I am not even the same I was yesterday. Or when I started writing this post. In my view, every single moment is an opportunity for rebirth. Every second we are given is another second chance.

This post was written for Reena’s Xploration Challenge, for which the prompt this week is a theme: rebirth.

Poem: The Book Called “Me”

Endless streaks of time (or so it seems)
lie ahead of me,
as I turn page after page
in this book called “Me”

Until one day (possibly still far from now)
I will have reached
the page I pray concludes
with a happily ever-after

In six days, I will turn 36. I am hopeful that I am still not halfway through my life yet, but then again I recently learned that the life expectancy for someone born in 1960 was 52. I just Googled the life expectancy for my birth year, 1986, which was 74.8 years. If this is true, I am just under eighteen months shy of midlife. I am not the healthiest either, so to be fully honest, I probably can’t expect to live that long.

I didn’t want this poem to be fully about doom and gloom either, because, as a Christian, I do believe in eternal life for those who are saved. This is why I ended this poem on a positive note.

I am writing this poem for this week’s Twiglet, which is “turning page”, as well as the Go Dog Go Cafe Tuesday Writing Challenge, which is to start a poem with the word “endless”.

Being God’s Beloved Child As an Enneagram Type Four

Today, I read some about the Enneagram again. As regular readers of this blog will know, I’m a type Four. Type Fours’ core motivation is to be fully understood as their unique and authentic selves. As such, Fours often focus on their being different from other people in some fundamental way. I am no different (pun intended) in this respect.

When I was in the early days of my psych hospital stay, my parents came to talk to the psychiatrist. They told him that, ever since I’d realized I am different because of my blindness at roughly age seven, I had tried to make it look like I was different in a ton of other ways. For instance, I identified as autistic (with which I was eventually diagnosed), thought as a teen that I was a lesbian (I am not), etc. Indeed, identity confusion was quite a common experience for me. According to my parents, this was all because I refused to accept the fact that I am blind, rather than because, well, I felt different in some rather interesting, somewhat impalpable ways.

Today, as I read the Day 1 section of The Enneagram Type 4 by Beth McCord, I realized I’ve always focused my attention on how I am not just essentially different from everyone else, but in some fundamental way more defective than everyone else. In reality, this is not true.

I am reminded in this respect of a sermon or something I once heard about a king having two daughters who both got lost in a shipwreck and stranded with farmers or something. Years later, the king found out that his daughters were still alive and he sent out some men to track them down. One daughter believed she was the king’s daughter, while the other didn’t. To whom does it matter? Of course, to the one who believes. This is probably what it is like to be a child of God: we are all children of God, but only those who believe it will delight in His kingdom. I find this comforting to my non-believer friends, realizing that God does not somehow condemn those people or something. Of course, there is the difference that God is all-knowing and all-powerful, so He could’ve made everyone believe.

However, my point is that there is nothing that makes me less of a child of God because of who I am or what I do. I am also not more defective than anyone else based on any of my differences, be it my autism or my blindness or whatever. Neurodiversity and disability rights are clear on that. No matter how fundamentally different I feel as an enneagram type Four, or as an autistic, multiply-disabled trauma survivor, or as just plain ol’ me, I am still God’s beloved child and I do not need to – cannot even – attempt to earn that status any more. After all, Jesus Christ purchased that status for me on the cross.

I am linking this post up with Inspire Me Monday.

Locus of Control

Like I said on Tuesday, I am regularly reminded of the need to change my attitude rather than my external circumstances, such as my living situation, in order to improve my quality of life. There may be some truth to this, in that I will always take me with me wherever I go. In this sense, having an internal locus of control – a sense that I myself can change my outlook on life, irrespective of external circumstances – may be the more functional choice. But is it true?

Ultimately, whether I change my attitude or I change my circumstances, doesn’t really matter, in that I am the one doing the changing, and in this sense am the one at least apparently in control, when in reality, I’m not. I, being a Christian, believe that God is ultimately in control, but even if He isn’t, control seems to be a rather elusive thing.


This post was written for the Six Sentence Story link-up, for which the prompt word this week is “control”.

No Unwholesome Talk

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29 NIV)

I had a very bad anger outburst this afternoon. For a very minor reason, I yelled at and insulted a staff member quite majorly. I told her to leave, which she did, but not just because I told her to. In fact, I’d caused her to get a little teary.

Obviously, I regret my outburst, though initially I didn’t fully see that it was all my responsibility. I mean, I did feel as though this staff member had triggered me. I see now that my anger was extreme and way out of proportion to the situation.

Then, in a collection of journaling prompts, I was pointed to this Bible verse. I didn’t know what it said, so went and looked it up because I find that Paul’s letter to the Ephesians usually appeals to me. There it was. Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths. Wow!

This does not refer just to no swear words. If it had, I could’ve said I don’t use those. Instead, looking at the second part of the verse, we’re supposed to only use words that build others up. In other words, calling someone names is the exact opposite of what Paul asks us to do here.

I did eventually apologize. Initially, this was a kind of half-hearted apology. Not because I had meant my insult, but because I struggle to prevent this happening again and because, at the time, I didn’t fully see that I alone was responsible for my behavior. I see now. I am praying that, with God’s help, I will learn better anger management strategies.

God, I want to confess that I am a very sinful person. You know this already, but I need to realize that my behavior is wrong. I had a horrible anger outburst and I didn’t even fully acknowledge that it was my fault. Please help me take responsibility for my anger. Please also help me come to You in future situations where I get triggered rather than react in anger. I pray for forgiveness and hope that You will still accept me even though I am not living up to even human expectations, let alone Yours. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Accepting My Ordinary Identity in Christ #Write28Days

Welcome to day two in #Write28Days. Today’s optional prompt is “Ordinary”. Immediately, I thought: what a dull prompt! I don’t want to be ordinary. I don’t even want to write about it!

Like I said yesterday, I am an Enneagram type Four. One of the descriptors for type Fours is “The Individualist”. Another, less kind one, is “Specials”. As these denominators say, we don’t want to be boring, like everyone else, ordinary.

When I had just been admitted to the psychiatric hospital in 2007, my parents came to talk to my doctor. They said that, in order to avoid accepting the fact that I am blind, I sought out to be different in every other way possible. For example, as a teen I thought I was a lesbian. I had just gotten acquainted with my now husband at the time that my parents used this against me, but we were by no means dating yet. Besides, in my mental state at the time, my sexual orientation was about the last thing on my mind. That being said, at the core, my parents were probably right: I saw myself as a complicated, unique, special person. Extraordinary.

Now we’re nearly fifteen years on. In a way, I still see myself as different from “ordinary” people in many ways. For instance, I am multiply-disabled, including blind and autistic. I am a trauma survivor and identify as a plural system (dissociative identity disorder). I, however, also now see that I am loved by God and by others as I am. And that is what matters most: my ordinary identity in Christ.

I still sometimes focus on the aspects of my identity that make me different from most other human beings. That’s okay though, as long as my “otherness” doesn’t become all-encompassing. Ultimately, my main identity is as a person loved by God.

Joy Comes in the Morning?

Today’s verse of the day in the YouVersion Bible app really speaks to me in a kind of interesting way. It reads: “For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” (Psalms 30:5 NIV) I particularly loved this verse because certain translations use “joy” instead of “rejoicing”.

Obviously, it is easy for me as a Christian to draw the comparison between the short-lived anger mentioned here and our life on Earth, and the rejoicing to our eternal life in Christ. After all, we all know our life on Earth is temporary. No-one, until the time of Jesus’ return, will live forever.

God also doesn’t promise us a hardship-free life. No, not even if we are as faithful as we can be. Ultimately, suffering is part of our life on Earth. God never promised us a rose garden, so to speak. That is, not yet. However, He does promise us that, ultimately, in Jesus Christ, we will have eternal life.

In addition, however, the verse shows us that God is quick to forgive us. In the story accompanying this verse on YouVersion, the pastor compared God’s attitude towards us to her own attitude towards her children: when they misbehave, she may get angry, but nothing can prevent her from loving her children exactly as they are. This is so touching! Similarly, God may show anger towards us in a moment, but His love will always shine through.

Lastly, the last part of the verse may also refer to Jesus’ resurrection. For me, this is hard to grasp, as this psalm was written by David, centuries before Jesus’ time on Earth. However, believing that all of Scripture is God-breathed, it is very possible that David was, at least on some subconscious level, aware of what would be coming.

During the night of Jesus’ crucifixion, there was intense weeping, but in the morning three days later, Mary shouted with joy when she met Jesus again.

When originally reading this verse on its own, I was like, I can see where this is coming from, but this is an Old Testament passage, so…? Now that I’ve dug a little deeper into its meaning and listened to the YouVersion story, my takeway is not just that life may be hard, but that ultimately everything will be okay. It is also that God’s love is, will always be and has always been, even in the time of David, far greater than His anger.

Linking up with Sunday Scripture Blessings.

Abstinence

I bought yet another collection of journaling prompts, this one faith-based. It is called Journal-a-Day the Titus 2 Way and is about growing in Godly womanhood. Not all prompts apply to me. For instance, the ones that center on life as a wife or mother, for the most part, don’t. I mean, of course I am married, but I don’t live with my husband. However, Paul also instructs Titus to teach the women to stay away from addictive substances or practices. As such, one of the prompts in the book is a one-word prompt: sober.

I don’t drink alcohol. In this sense, the prompt does not apply to me either. However, sobriety can refer to other addictions too. In Overeaters Anonymous, it is called abstinence.

I have never liked abstinence-based eating disorder recovery programs like OA. I like to blame the fact that I struggle not just with overeating, but with purging and occasional restricting too. The real reason is though that I don’t want to give up foods I’m addicted to altogether. And, taking Paul’s letter to Titus literally, I don’t have to. After all, the Bible verse states: “Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.” (Titus 2:3 NIV)

For this reason, I wonder, is it really God’s plan, as OA seems to think, that we abstain from addictive foods altogether? Doesn’t Paul write “much wine” for a reason?

I have a problem with the idea that, if you just admit that you’re powerless over your substance, you will – no, should – become sober through submitting to God. Not with the submitting to God part, but with the requirement of complete sobriety, which is human-made. Jesus as far as I’m concerned didn’t abstain completely from alcohol and if refined sugar had existed in His time, He’d probably consumed it too. Shouldn’t the goal be self-control instead?

I pray that God provides me with direction as I navigate my journey towards recovery from disordered eating. I pray that He will help me submit to His will, whatever this may be. Yes, even if this is complete abstinence from sugar, snacks inbetween meals and all other things OA says we need to abstain from. Amen!

I’m linking up with Let’s Have Coffee.

My One Word for 2022

Ever since 2014 or 2015 I think, I’ve been sharing a word of the year on my blog. I’ve never been paying close attention to them over the rest of the year and, as a result, they never meant much to me. This year, I intend to change that. I’ve signed up to a project organized by Lisa of Lisa Notes called One Word 2022. Lisa has a Facebook group dedicated to discussing our One Word and a monthly linky that goes live each 22nd of the month. I originally intended to wait until then to write this post, but I feel inspired to write it now and Lisa said to write whenever you feel like writing.

The year 2021 was a really creative year, so initially I thought to choose a word such as “Create” for 2022. This year though hasn’t started off on a crafty note. Besides, isn’t the point of a word of the year to challenge yourself?

I came across a post on another blog a few days back (sorry, I can’t remember which blog) reminding the reader about the qualities of a follower of Christ, such as kindness, patience, etc. One of them was joyfulness and there I had my word. My One Word for 2022 is going to be: JOY.

Dictionary.com defines “Joy” as: “The emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation.”

“Something exceptionally good”, however, is subjective. For this year, I intend to look for joy in the everyday. I am reminded in this respect of a note on the wall in my mental health agency building that says: “Be grateful for the little things; at some point you’ll realize they’re the big things.”

This year, I will aim to focus on cultivating a grateful, positive attitude towards whatever I experience in life. I don’t need more of anything. Life itself is a reason to rejoice.

What’s your word for 2022?

I’m joining #LifeThisWeek.