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Bethany G. Paget

Midwife of words

Month

August 2013

Why my *SOBS* are so big

Last week I sent my 7 year old wild girl off to second grade.  There were no outer tears but my mama heart was a mix of emotions.

Image

I often look at her with these eyes of wonder.  Almost as if she isn’t mine.  It’s a strange feeling to describe and I am not sure if another mother could say they have ever felt it.

She has grown up so much in the year, into this girl, this wild eyed lioness that even when she’s driving me insane I am still so enamored that God chose me to be her mom.

There are days when she is at school that I wish she had a cell phone so I could text her and tell her that I love her, that I am thinking of her and am so glad I am her mommy.

Our path has not always been easy.  In fact it’s been marked and scarred with trauma and ugliness that only the God who gave her to me can heal.

We are walking that healing road now and it is just as painful as the one that got us here.  Only the deeply rooted trees of beauty I see sprouting, like the emotions I feel when I look at her never wouldn’t have been there before.

She comes and gets in bed with me most nights and says:

“Mommy, I want to snuggle”

It’s then I think back to the girl I was 10 years ago.  The girl who never thought she’d be a mom.

2003…….

I was living with Abigail’s dad whom I met in the Kansas State Hospital (OMG I just said that out loud.  On the internets)

It’s ok.  It doesn’t change who I am now.

I digress. 

My days were spent being fueled by crack cocaine.  It’s all I had to keep the deeply wounded parts of me at bay.  I was told by so many different people, so many different things about “who I was” or “what I needed to do”

Diagnoses

Medications

Therapy

I chose instead to just do drugs.  It was easier that way in my opinion.  Plus, back then the crazy life suited me.  It kept her dad and I together.  Without the drugs we wouldn’t have survived as a couple.  As a 22 year old I was sure he and I were going to spend the rest of our lives together and that that a picture perfect ending was sure to come.  

Maybe…….

When I look back now I realize that I couldn’t see past each day.  My only objective was to make sure I was intoxicated somehow.  It did not matter what I put in my body as long as my reality was altered.

July 2005 is when everything started to unravel.  We had lost our apartment, had been living in the Topeka Rescue Mission and were both burnt out and fried.  

I don’t remember how it happened but we made the decision to move to Florida to escape the drug filled everything-ness of Kansas.

That’s when the shit hit the fan.   Without drugs our “relationship” wasn’t the same.  So the void was filled with alcohol. 

Not.a.good.idea

I knew it was over; I just didn’t have a reason to leave.

Then December 3, 2005 at 315pm I heard the words that would, in the course of 20 seconds change my life FOREVER.

“Honey, it’s positive”

The nurse had to say it like 5 times.  I am pretty sure she was pissed by the third time I asked her because she started talking a bunch of blood test mumbo jumbo but I blanked her out.

Pregnant

Me

A Baby

I was happy, he was not.  His response was to go get a six pack. 

Mmmmmmm yeah I am going to leave you hanging with that one.

I was not totally clean at that point but over the course of the next nine months there was radical change.  I left her dad, I got clean, I became a Christian and then BOOM a baby.

Yet everything was still buried deep.  The things I had been shoving down deeper and deeper with drugs I now used Jesus and legalism to shove down.

Cause you know if you love Jesus and follow ALL the rules then everything is perfect RIGHT ( sarcasm font)

But it wasn’t and it took some seriously life altering things to bring me to a place where the buried stuff was all spilled out, including my mothering.

So when I look at this beautiful, wild eyed, lioness now I am marveled that God chose me…. ME, to be her mom.  Because He knew where the path would lead and where it would take us. 

I have to take a second glance at her sometimes because I think to myself “WOAH, she came from me?”

Being her mom is a sacred thing. 

A beautiful thing.

A holy thing.

All because of how it came about.  I was a junk show when I found out I was pregnant yet still in that moment there was hope of something different, something bigger than myself.

Somehow there still is.

As Always,

Bethany

Dirt Floor Love

Walking into the house, she noticed the people dining with Him and she felt very small, scared, ashamed and unnoticed.

But the she sees Him. The man she came to see. The One she heard was the Healer, the Lover of the broken, the messy and the tattered.

Walking over to Him she suddenly felt as though her insides have been turned outward and that He can see her guts, splayed out, cut open and spilled on the dirty floor.

When He looked up at her the look in His eyes was one of love, one that said “you are beautiful and I SEE you, come sit here with Me”

He pulled up a chair next to Him motioning for her to sit beside him. He poured her a glass of wine and laid out a plate.

But all she could do was run to His feet and grab them. Clinging, as if she were to let go everything would fall away.

He didn’t seem angry by this gesture. Rather it seems as though He had been expecting it.

The tears started to fall from her eyes immediately. Fat, heavy, old tears from years of pain began to fall onto His feet that were dirt crusted from all the time He spent outside.

She did not care. As the tears fell relief began to creep into her heart and she began to kiss those feet. Of the One whom others said was either God or a lunatic.

The people dining with Him began to laugh and shout at her.

“What are you doing?”

“He CAN’T make you better”

“YOU, of all people will NEVER be better”

These people have known her all of her life, seen what she’s done, her sin and they love to point it out to her to remind her that she will never be better.

With a glance He looked at them, a piercing look and said:

“This woman here, she is my daughter, my Beloved. Your insults and the shame you have tried to hold over her head have lasted long enough.”

“You do not get to tell her who she is or isn’t anymore. I have seen this woman walk out of the darkness and into the light in the face of the pain you continue to inflict.”

“But today, TODAY she decided NO MORE. I see her stepping out, even further by coming here to see me, knowing you’d be here to try and stop her.”

With that their angry, hate filled voices stopped.

Her heart settled back into her chest and she looked up at Him, into His eyes that were so clear. Eyes that spoke a depth of love, grace, acceptance and truth that was foreign to her.

He took a ceramic jug from the table and began to pour water onto the top of her head. So cool was the water that flowed. It soaked her hair, ran into her eyes, down her neck and soaked the gray tank top she was wearing.

Even though by all means of possibility the jug should have emptied by now but it didn’t. The water kept flowing.

Clear

Cool

Life-giving

New

Fresh

He put His hand under her chin and lifted her face she that it met His. Brushing the hair away from her forehead He kissed her there, right in the middle as a Father would.

Then leaving His chair He sat down on the dirty floor with her, now muddy from the water and pulled her next to Him.

Putting His arm around her He said:

“My daughter, in whom I am well pleased”

As Always,

Bethany

PS:  Go here and have a listen.  I promise…. It’s good 🙂

I do not remember when it happened exactly.  But it was as if the glass that had been holding up my fragile faith fell, shattered to a million pieces and exposed the lies I had believed.

My “salvation story” reads as a big news one, or so I’ve been told.  Drug addict, four months pregnant, gets saved, God removes her addiction and she is suddenly redeemed.

Those were very high expectations to live up to and there wasn’t alot of Jesus spoken.  What was spoken were the truths that others held.

Such as:

No you cannot be a Christian and vote Democrat.

Cover up your body because it’s your responsibility to protect your brother in Christ from lusting over you.

Oh and those tattoos….. Please read Leviticus

Non Christian music is unholy and not sanctified.

Homeschooling is the ONLY right way.

Homosexuality is the worst sin.

Next to abortion and you MUST stop women from having them.

TV is the devil and so are movies.

Swearing is filthy and God condemns bad language.

You must evangelize wherever you go.  Memorize Romans Road so that you are always prepared.

I could go on and on with the things that were spoken whether outright or subtly to me in the first few years of coming to know Jesus.

I was in such a vulnerable spot having swung from one pendulum to another that I was willing to believe anything if it meant not going back to “that life”

Except now I had a baby to take care of and that made things harder.  I struggled to see this God that was spoken in the midst of the struggle that Abigail and I were mixed up in.  I was told my problem was anger, a parenting problem, a strong-willed and undisciplined child problem.  I was a sinner, still sinning.
I needed to pray more, read a book, take another bible study or go to a conference.  Then I needed a mentor (dude she was WACK)

I did all of this but there was no clarity, only a foggy and murky puddle of water and I was thirsty.

I would certainly have moments with God where I felt Him move and life was progressing forward.

But forward is different when you look at it later.  It was lip service I paid to Christ.  When I took communion I thought that was enough.  Raising my hands in Worship felt like the right thing to do, my morning scheduled devotions were planned in advance and if they didn’t happen I was angry.  Because if you don’t have your morning “quiet time” well then how on earth are you going to reflect Christ to all those lost people (oh how I wish for sarcasm font)

My faith and my story seemed to make sense to everyone but me.  I mean I could talk a good talk, share “my story” but what was I really sharing?

Some candy coated version of salvation that church ladies wanted to hear because it made the cross look nice and pretty and sanitized.

Even as it was happening it didn’t feel right.  I mean, it was what I wanted.  I wanted a platform right?  I wanted to be like Beth Moore (shakes head) and man I was working my way up.

Then the shit hit the fan by way of a trip to Africa.

Now I struggle with the theology that God hurts us to heal us, or allows bad things to happen for good so lets just lay that aside for the purpose of this story.

When I was in Africa last summer my view of God began to shatter.  I began to see Him as a larger being, that fills time, space, nations and speaks in 2,000 different languages (that’s just in Africa) Worshipping God in a church with men and women who love Him and thank Him when they actually have nothing threw me sideways.

I went to different churches and sang to Him where there were dirt floors, wooden benches, certainly no fog machine and squatty potties.  In a language that I did not understand but was more beautiful to me than anything I had ever experienced in America.  It seemed as though this is what I had been missing.  Bare bones faith.

My heart started to quake and as my view of Him started to change.  I came home and my life started to unravel.

Fast forward eight months.  It’s now February 2013 and I am about to have brain surgery.  Not what I thought was on the agenda for my life but it was a catalyst for actual forward movement.

When one’s life starts to unravel the people who are involved can react in a certain number of ways.  Some are great, some just are there in the midst and some suck.

I experienced ALL.

But it was the ones that sucked that showed me that I had been depending on other’s people’s truth’s about Jesus.  That I had been absorbing their ideas and interpretations of scripture and logic and had allowed them to become my own instead of seeking out truth for myself.  In the midst of spending the five months before my surgery mostly in bed I learned that I had allowed the opinions of others to mold me into who they wanted me to be, rather than who God SAYS I am.

When the wrecking ball hit my life (okay so maybe it was more than a fraction of a second) and one thing after another fell apart and I was left standing bare, vulnerable and naked before God amidst the pieces, it was then I learned who He REALLY is.  Based on the truths He had been trying to speak to me all along.  Yet I was so hell-bent on following the rules, playing a part and wearing my pretty little church girl mask because underneath was a chaotic, traumatized mess.

It took awhile for me to grasp it though which is funny.  It could have been the massive amounts of post op pain meds I was on, which does explain why I don’t remember the month of March 🙂

Yet the moments He used to help me grasp the beauty of His truth and His truth alone are so sacred, so intimate that I am thankful, in a gripping the armrest kind of way that I went through some of those things.

I am still learning, leaning into this God that isn’t wrapped up in a box with a pretty bow on it.   The truths that I have found have exposed that He loves with a radical, all-consuming love.  A love which has no prejudice or blinders for gender, sexual orientation, race or any identity because He loves all of His children.  A love in which no one is put outside the doors because of how they vote, dress, whom they love or where they live.

It is hard to go from one pendulum to another and then stop swinging.  I am seeking now to rest in the comfort of knowing that He is who HE says He is and not a list of rules or a copy of a purity clause to follow.

There is a tension though.  A lack of in person support for my newfound excitement of fresh faith.  Also a lack of people to sit with as I sob because as my friend Caris puts it, it’s like shedding skin and sometimes the shedding hurts.

Beauty in the ugly and out of the ashes rises something new.

Whether it was that fraction of a second moment or one of the wrecking ball ones I am not sure, but He is.

And I can be sure that there will be more moments like that where truth is revealed.  In dark moments and in moments where I can say it is well.

I cannot say it is well right now.  Maybe I will tomorrow but for now I have the assurance that the God I know now doesn’t expect me to clean up before I pray.  And if I scream “FUCK” at the top of lungs during those intimate moments with Him, He’s sure to look at me just the same.  As His beloved daughter.

As Always,

Bethany

The Beginning of the Hard

This is part of the series in which I am writing relating back to prompts and questions based on the Story 101 ecourse I am taking through September.  This is in relation to writing my h.a.r.d. thing. 

The silence feels really hard today.

LOUD

Deafening thunders, painful echoing of loss and grief. Remembering shattered relationships and broken dreams.

I do not want to sit in it. Settle into the quiet and sit alone. I want some peace but I don’t want to be by myself. I am always by myself.

This burden is so huge I am flooded with pain and my real self, my Jesus self is gasping for air underneath it, trying to find some space.

The loneliness feels so palpable that again running crosses my mind.

Yesterday the emptiness was like a cavern in my body. A physical depth I could feel. I wanted to go somewhere, anywhere to escape that haunting feeling.

I dreamt of a change of scenery, different sounds, a place where there were people I could actually talk to.

I was hoping that a different bathroom, without a litter box would help. A different bedroom, with different walls to stare at, different pillows and a big fluffy comforter I could burrow myself in would make the difference.

Everything just felt wrong. My apartment, my dish filled sink and poo filled litter box that I did NOT want to clean.

My pain (physical) level, which is tied into my emotions sometimes, just would not ease up. My skin didn’t feel right.

My daughter, the sweet girl with her own pain was struggling yesterday along side me. We feed off of each other and she was so needy yesterday. Her hair pin trigger ended with me in the bathroom, with the door locked just wanting it to stop.

Every single bit of yesterday.

I wanted to know why she was hurting and needing control, so then I could calm my own need to control. It’s this dance. This round and round way of healing and I was just DONE last night.

She settled, I settled, we talked. She opened up about what she had heard me say on the phone to a friend earlier in the day.

There was a lot of reassurance, which in our house in common. The need for me to remind her that my love for her is unconditional, not dependent on who she is or what she does is a need she sometimes needs to have filled hourly. It’s where we are and that’s ok. Her needing to hear me say “I AM NOT going anywhere” is something that is said often.

It’s not only me who says those words in this house.

It’s Him.

“Bethany, I AM NOT going anywhere. “

“I LOVE YOU”

“I am with you in the depths of this and you ARE NOT alone. When you cannot breathe I am your breath”

It’s then, now as I type those words out that the silence doesn’t feel so bad.

As I look at these walls that I see every day the need to run doesn’t feel so pressing.

I am reminded that He, God, the one whom I am learning to call Father. That He breathed life into dry bones.

My dry bones have life too. I don’t have to depend on the weariness; I can depend on the breath. Gasping in, drinking in the freshness of who He is and has always promised to be.

Things have happened this week that have caused a torrent of healing to come down. On the other side of that healing is the grieving. That is the part I don’t like. The letting go, the realization of what was but isn’t anymore.  Of what never was, or what couldn’t be because of who they were or weren’t.

————————

I started writing this on Sunday, when it seemed as though things had lifted.

They hadn’t.

Yesterday in therapy I faced the realization that I am angry with God.  For a lot of reasons.  I suppose we have all been here.  We have all been told this is wrong (I’m just guessing, I know I have)

I am going to stand up and say that “NO, it’s not wrong.  He gets it because He knew I’d be here.  That this was another step in my coming to the end of myself.

When my therapist just out of the blue threw that out there (the anger at God) yesterday, words, thoughts and feelings started flying out of my mouth and body that counsciously I didn’t know I had.  I looked at her and and said “fuck you” but then let it all resonate.

And it did.

Some more.

More tears fell on her office floor as I realized that I was indeed coming to the end of me.  That place where there are no right answers, or “what now.”  I can’t fix this or stop it or make the hurt less.

It just has to BE.

It was there I realized I was naked.  Not in the literal but in the spiritual.  Before the throne.  Naked before my King, so vulnerable it feels like my guts are wide open and spilling out on the floor before Him.  It’s an ugly, painful thing to look and and feel.  Guts are ugly.  Guts are what hurt, but aren’t guts what also heal?

It’s there I realized the thought of sitting at His annointed, dirty, beautiful feet seem like a really good idea. 

This is it.  My hard thing.  In the midst of everyday life.

I thought it was something else, but it took being rocked to realize it’s more than just the simplistic idea of thinking that my story ended when I met Jesus.

As Always,

Bethany

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