Waiting for Sunrise #Write28Days

Welcome to day five in #Write28Days. Today’s prompt is “Sunrise”. It is also this week’s prompt for Five Minute Friday. I’ll try to freewrite for this post, although I won’t set a timer.

At first, the prompt didn’t speak to me. I have rarely in my life ever seen the sunrise, as I don’t usually get up before dawn. Besides, I am almost completely blind, so I am not able to appreciate its visual effects as much as others. To me, sunrise looks pretty much exactly like sunset. I know there’s a difference, but I can’t see it.

Then I saw that some fellow Five Minute Friday writers have used the sunrise prompt as a way to symbolize the coming of something good. According to Genesis, God created the sun to mark the day and the moon to mark the night. Indeed, a new morning is often appreciated as something positive. It symbolizes a new chance to make positive changes to our life or world.

Why, though, should we wait for that new dawn? We shouldn’t wait for Jesus to come back to make everything right. With God’s help, we can make positive changes to our life and world right now, even though it’s 8:30PM on a Friday in February and the sun has long set.

There are so many things I want to change about my life and world. Personally, I want to develop my distress tolerance. I want to lose weight. I want to deepen my faith. Politically, I want to educate myself on areas in which I experience privilege, such as race.

I don’t need to and shouldn’t be procrastinating on these things. I may not be able to accomplish them all at once. However, with God’s help, each and every second of every single day, I get to make a choice between love and judgment, ignorance and education, health and sickness, faith and despair. Right now, I am making a choice to trust God. Thanks to His grace, I trust I can make these other positive choices.

A Fresh Start in Jesus

Today’s Five Minute Friday prompt is “Fresh”. I couldn’t quite think of something to write on this topic at first. Then I read Kate’s original post.

She wrote that she took some fresh breaths of air before having to put on her face mask. Now I rarely wear a face mask, as I hardly ever go to public places. That being said, I definitely enjoy the fresh air. That’s why I went for three walks today despite my shoes getting damaged due to my having drop foot.

The word “fresh” also made me think of a fresh start in God. As regular readers of this blog know, I became a Christian only a little over a month ago. God gives me a fresh start.

I am constantly reminded of a metaphor my husband explained to me last week. He explained that, as humans, we are all on a train ride to hell, but Jesus stands outside to command everyone to get off the train and be saved. I like to imagine Jesus standing on a platform at every station.

Another metaphor is the team building exercise in which one person is supposed to fall backwards and trust the other people will catch them. That’s what faith is like. Maybe that proverbial train is moving, in fact. Ouch, how scary! I probably still have one foot on it.

God, thank you for your presence in my life. Thank you for your everlasting love for me. Please help me gain the confidence to jump off your proverbial train into your loving arms. Help me get a fresh start in the fresh air of your presence. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

More Time

Today’s Five Minute Friday (#FMF) prompt is “Time”. There are so many things I wish I would make more time for. Today, in five minutes (and I’m trying to do this in five minutes seriously), I am going to share about the things I want to make more time for in 2021.

First up, of course, is faith. I want to spend time each day praying and reading my Bible. I already read my Bible everyday so far in 2021, but sometimes it’s just five minutes before bed.

I have also created a faith-based journal in Day One, my diary app. In it, I want to write down my prayers as well as interesting Bible passages. I think consciously writing them down helps me devote more time to God.

Second is walking. I did a great job of this this past week, getting in over six hours of active zone minutes so far.

I also want to write more. I really aim to blog almost everyday. I would like to say everyday, but I can no longer make that work for 2021. But I can start now.

Then comes reading. I definitely want to read more. I am doing okay in this respect so far.

Lastly, self-care. I didn’t make a resolution about me time or essential oils this year, like in 2020, because I did well enough on it already. However, self-care also means taking good care of my body, and I could certainly improve on that.

By this I mean healthy eating, exercise other than walking, yoga, etc. I could definitely work on a healthier body.

That’s it. I did pretty well freewriting for five minutes flat and I was in fact already sort of done when the timer went off.

What do you hope to spend more time on in 2021?

Moving Beyond Shame

I’ve been struggling a lot lately. I feel shame over a lot of things. Then again, my husband said that shame is only useful for the one second you realize you should’ve done different. Then you need to move on.

I just read a part of Bobby Schuller’s book You Are Beloved in which he tells me that God’s love is the antidote to shame. Jesus, he says, did not act out of shame. Maybe he didn’t even feel it. He didn’t care about his reputation, inviting the lowest-status people of his time to eat with him. Schuller notes that eating with someone in Jesus’ time on Earth means seeing them as equals.

Jesus regarded people who didn’t believe they belonged, as equals. Of course, he is God, so we can never measure up to that, but we can rest assured that he loves us no matter what.

God, help me move beyond the feeling of shame towards an experience of peace. I know You love me for who I am. Please help me see this with all my heart. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

This post was written for Five Minute Friday, for which the prompt this week is “Beyond”. I didn’t set a timer, but I think I did a pretty good job of doing this piece in five minutes.

Grateful for Love

Today’s Five Minute Friday (FMF) prompt is “Grateful”. It truly speaks to me, even though I, being from the Netherlands, don’t celebrate Thanksgiving this week. In fact, all I do for it is look all over the Internet to see whether the Apple Watch I want is on sale for Black Friday (it isn’t).

That being said, I haven’t felt more grateful than I feel now in a long while. Here’s why…

I feel so immensely grateful for my husband. He loves me and cares enough about me to show me his love multiple times daily even though we don’t live together. He must miss me, but rather than turn around and find someone else to live with, he tells me he loves me too many times to count. In fact, when COVID hit here first, we weren’t allowed to see each other for three months and yet he still loved me.

Last week, I wrote about grieving the loss of my “normal”, functioning self. Today, I am so immensely grateful to be loved for who I am. Not just by my husband, but by God as well.

“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:22-24 NIV)

I have been meditating a lot on this Bible passage and somehow come across it almost on a daily basis when reading about Christianity. It was the start of the Bible reading for the First United Methodist Church of Baton Rouge, LA sermon I referred to on Tuesday. More than commanding me to be Godlike, it speaks to me in that my old self doesn’t matter. I am loved by God just the way I am.

Okay, this took me longer to write than five minutes, but then again it usually does. Sorry about that. In fact, I took probably about five minutes to find, read and copy/paste the Bible passage. Well, at least I tried to keep it short.

Grief

Today’s Five Minute Friday prompt is Grief. When I first saw it, I knew I just had to write on it, but I didn’t know what to write. In a way, I still don’t know. But let me write anyway.

I have been close to clinically depressed over the past few weeks. I don’t know whether this is grief for something I have lost. Perhaps my old, functional self.

Then again, that functional self was a façade. A mask. Layers upon layers of masks formed within those early years of my life, when I still functioned. On the surface, that is.

And here I am, in a care facility, waiting for the manager and behavior specialist and the funding authority to figure out if I can get one-on-one support. And now I grieve the loss of that façade. I am intensely sad. I worry that if I am truly myself, if I peel off all the layers and layers of masks, an intensely wicked, horrible monster will remain. I can almost literally picture the monster in my mind’s eye.

Everytime I think I’ve found the real, authentic me, and it’s a good thing, it turns out to be yet another alter. I wonder what remains if they all go. Will the intensely wicked, horrible inside of me seep through to the outside world?

I am not very religious, but I do believe in God. Especially in these hard times, I pray. I pray that God will help me remove the layers and layers of masks I’ve put up over the years. I however also pray that, beneath them all, the monster will turn out to be some kind of prince(ss) from Beauty and the Beast or whatever. At least not as wicked as I see it as.

Okay, this turned out very different than I had imagined. This piece does reflect my innermost thoughts. For those who haven’t read my previous posts, I do not see my inner monster as some kind of universal thing, like original sin. In fact, I am convinced that most people are both good and bad. The wickedness applies only to myself. And yes, I know I’m not some type of criminal, but I still see myself as intensely bad.

Born

Last Friday, the prompt for Five Minute Friday was “born”. I assume many writers, being Christian, will have written about the moment of their salvation. Even though or maybe because I consider myself a progressive believer, I didn’t have such a moment. I was saved 2000 years ago. Rather, something else came to mind. Here goes.

I am still not done reading the book Preemie Voices by Saroj Saigal. It is a collection of letters from people born very prematurely between 1977 and 1982, which was published in 2014. One of the letters I did read, however, spoke to me.

In it, the woman said she was born three times. Once, when she was actually born. Then, when she was supposed to be born, so her due date. For me, this would be September 29, 1986. I was actually born on June 27.

Then there was her moment of rebirth in a spiritual kind of way, but dit didn’t have to do with any organized religion. Rather, she considered the day she was diagnosed as autistic to be her day of rebirth.

I am also autistic. For me, the day of my diagnosis was March 16, 2007. It wasn’t some type of epiphany moment though. My support coordinator at the time called the physician who’d assessed me because she hadn’t heard anything about the results of my diagnosis after my assessment was complete. Neither had I. She was told I had been diagnosed with autism and the report had been sent to my GP. How blunt!

I didn’t even dare write about it on my blog till some days later. It was so weird. Because I was diagnosed three or four more times, I never quite considered this day to be of any significance. Sometimes I wish I had such a moment of rebirth.

Looking Forward To…

Today’s Five Minute Friday prompt is “forward”. Let me share what I look forward to.

I look forward to seeing my husband tomorrow. The visiting rules for nursing homes were relaxed in prime minister Rutte’s latest speech on Tuesday. The new regulations wouldn’t take effect till next Monday, but my care facility decided to allow visitors from this Thursday, the day of Christ’s ascension and hence a bank holiday, on.

There are still strict guidelines. Visitors cannot touch clients or even be within five feet distance. We’re not allowed to travel in the car with our visitors or go to public places such as shops or snack vendors.

My husband was a little disappointed at the strict guidelines, and I wholeheartedly agree. Of course, I want to hug him too. After all, we haven’t seen each other in real life in over two months. Too bad we can’t at this point. However, it’s better than nothing.

I look forward to hopefully spending some good time with him. Hopefully, of course, the rules will be relaxed even more soon. That’s still unknown though. As far as I know, our care facility is already less strict than what Rutte said, as he said only one person per client can visit. Our facility allows two at a time. Not that I need that, as my parents or in-laws are a long way from visiting me, but oh well.

Wow, I actually finished writing this in five minutes flat. Thanks so much for reading.

Normal

This past Friday, the prompt for Five Minute Friday was “normal”. I didn’t have anything to write on the topic then, but I do now. Here goes.

Today I listened to a meditation on Insight Timer. The teacher said your observing self is like the sky (or heavens), while your thoughts, feelings etc. are like the weather. No matter how bad the weather gets, the sky remains the same. It can withstand even the darkest thunderclouds.

This is maybe how we need to look at ourselves in this time of COVID-19. We are told to adjust to the “new normal”. Even though our “intelligent” lockdown or stay at home order ended last week, I still cannot have visitors at the care facility and just found out the day center won’t reopen till October. I’m not sure how I feel about this. Well, about the day center. I know how I feel about the no-visitors policy, but that one might change this week.

Like Kate, the FMF hostess, I somehow settled in. I actually love being at the home for day activities and don’t mind not seeing people from other homes that much. I miss my husband, but I’m adjusting to that too.

This is where the meditation comes in again. I mean, no matter how hard life gets, I’ll manage. My thoughts may be dark, my feelings bleak, but I will ultimately be able to keep going.

Distracted

Wow, can you believe it’s May already? I completed the #AtoZChallenge rather well actually if I can say so myself. Now I want to continue writing regularly for the month of May at least.

Today I’m joining in with Five Minute Friday, for which the prompt today is Distraction. At first, this prompt struck a chord, but I didn’t know why. Then I thought…

I want to live more productively. I also want to live more mindfully. These two seem contradictory at first, but honestly, if you get distracted by a thousand other things whilst being “productive”, you’re not mindful and not productive.

I want to stick to a regular writing routine. That doesn’t mean I need to write actually high-quality posts everyday. Of course, if my post is scrambled and going off on a thousand tangents, it may not be as easy to read. However, my writing will improve even if I freewrite. That’s why I try to join in with FMF today.

Then again, I’ve started this post a few times already and then stopped after the first sentence or two. I thought my post didn’t matter. Wasn’t good enough. Wasn’t real “content”. But then again, when I started this blog, I meant for it to be my space to let you hear my inner voice. So no matter how distracted I am, I will continue to write. That will ultimately led me to being more mindful and more productive at least in my blogging life. And hopefully in life in general.