Out of these ashes - JJ Landis
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Out of these ashes


Every few years, I tell myself I’m going to do yoga. For a week or two of discipline, I grow strong and healthy, long and lean (feels that way anyway though somehow I remain five feet tall). Stretching unused muscles is invigorating. My back becomes strengthened. My posture improves. I feel poised, in charge of my body.

 

But like all good workout plans, it doesn’t last. I fall away from my noble intentions, because yoga is more difficult than it looks. And hard is just too hard sometimes.

 

My favorite yoga pose (and this may be part of the reason I don’t really grow long and lean) is child’s pose. Relaxing and comfortable.

 

A few days ago, while I held child’s pose for more minutes than the rest of the workout combined, I concentrated on the vulnerability of the position of kneeling.

 

It’s a completely defenseless situation to put oneself in.




BEGINNER'S Pose - Child Pose

 

Like a child.

 

I’ve not lived through the violence of bombs, guns, torture that I have just read about in three successive memoirs of war. (I so need a new topic.) But I have lived.

 

And in this world, big, bad people attack the weak. The powerless ones are often wrecked physically. The bullies dominate with intentions of getting their way while obliterating anything in their path.

 

The world is poised to destroy us. We are set up to be hurt by being alive. Most of us won’t be intentionally targeted with bullets; we will be wounded by misunderstandings, arguments, dishonesty, disrespect.

 

Usually our injured feelings come from our instinct of self-preservation. When wronged, our reaction is to fight back. To defend. Preserve body and mind. Guard spirit. Protect from pain.

 

What happens though when we surrender? I don’t mean give up. But surrender. Become vulnerable. Realize the battle for the mind is a mind game.

 

No one can destroy us without our permission. I am talking here about adults. (Pretty sure grown-ups can seriously maul the spirit of a child.)

 

When we take a childlike posture, we become vulnerable to our God, to ourselves, and to others; we become free.

 

Jesus said: “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:14 NIV).

 

With that humility comes peace, then courage, then strength to act on that courage. You may say, “Come on. You want me to just ignore (insert situation here) done to me by (insert person here, can be yourself)?” No. I don’t want you to ignore anything. I want you to be better than the situation that causes you pain, anger, bitterness.

 

Who of us has not been wounded? Who does not have the right to be angry? We suffer. Some with relationships. Some poverty. Some hunger, abuse, neglect, violence. War. Bullies. Illness. Divorce. Family battles.

 

My mom committed suicide when I was in seventh grade. I saw her sleep with men. I saw her do drugs. She left me alone at nights so she could go to bars. My brother followed in her footsteps. I began along that path as well, becoming addicted to alcohol in my freshman year of high school. I dated jerky boys. I was hit. I was raped. I had an abortion. I have been a thief and a liar. (And here I pause for a meager chuckle, wondering how my husband found such a gem as me.) I have sold drugs. I’ve been depressed. I’ve wanted to die. Many times, I have been hurt, neglected, disappointed. Many times I’ve had the right to be angry.

 

But do you see? That stuff can chain me or it can set me free. What is in me that I will not share with you? Not much.
 
 
If I tell you the worst about me, then I am free to give you the best.

 

I went into a tailspin last week when my feelings were hurt by a comment someone made to me. The person made an implication about me based on faulty perceptions. After a day of lingering on the offense and wondering why and how one sentence could knock out my peace, I became like a child, bowing in reverence to God.

 

Who can harm me? No one but myself. I know the words spoken to me were ignorant and untrue. And I released them.

 

Kneeling (literally or figuratively) puts you at the complete mercy of someone besides yourself. But God raises the humble and strengthens them. “Humble yourselvesbefore the Lord, and he will lift you up” (James 4:10 NIV).

 

Just like the child’s pose relaxes and soothes, so does surrendering yourself. We have been given one time around. Do I want to live tethered to all those who mean me harm (or harm me unintentionally) or do I want to rollick in the joy of freedom?

 

Giving up control is not giving up in defeat. It’s more of an acceptance, a decision to move forward. Admitting weakness is not so bad. There is great strength in weakness.

 

When I can say, “I am totally destroyed. I can do nothing,” then I will rise. From the ashes. Rise.


Rise by Shawn McDonald

Yes I will rise

Out of these ashes, rise

From this trouble I have found

And this rubble on the ground

I will rise

 

Cause He who is in me

Is greater than I will ever be

And I will rise

 

Sometimes my heart is on the ground

And hope is nowhere to be found

Love is a figment I once knew

And yet I hold on to what I know is true

 

Well I keep on coming to this place

That I don’t know quite how to face

So I lay down my life in hopes to die

That somehow I might rise

 

Cause He who is in me

Is greater than I will ever be

And I will rise
 
 
———-

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the suffering and afflicted. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted, to announce liberty to captives, and to open the eyes of the blind. He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of God’s favor to them has come, and the day of his wrath to their enemies. To all who mourn in Israel he will give: beauty for ashes; joy instead of mourning; praise instead of heaviness. For God has planted them like strong and graceful oaks for his own glory. Isaiah 61:1-3 Living Bible

5 Comments
  • Swilsongoodwishes
    Posted at 07:20h, 24 October Reply

    <3

  • Swilsongoodwishes
    Posted at 07:20h, 24 October Reply

    Thanks for sharing your life J.J. You have an authentic voice as a writer. Keep writing. Your words make a difference.

  • Unknown
    Posted at 06:32h, 24 October Reply

    I wonder if you will ever know how much your words and friendship comforts me You are a brave woman. You learned from your mistakes and the mistakes of others

  • Cindy Bultema
    Posted at 18:50h, 23 October Reply

    JJ,
    Thank you for your gut-wrenching honesty and authenticity. Wow. I wasn’t expecting this in your post – but I LOVE seeing you speaking openly about the amazing “stuff” God has brought you through. I’m also sorry that someone hurt you last week, but I’m grateful you are not allowing it to define you.
    You, my friend, are brave. Courageous. More than enough. An overcomer. I’m blessed to call you FRIEND. 🙂
    Love you.
    xoxo

  • Cindy Bultema
    Posted at 18:49h, 23 October Reply

    JJ,
    Thank you for your gut-wrenching honesty and authenticity. Wow. I wasn’t expecting this in your post – but I LOVE seeing you speaking openly about the amazing journey God has brought you through. I’m also sorry that someone hurt you last week, but I’m grateful you are not allowing it to define you.
    You, my friend, are brave. Courageous. More than enough. An overcomer. I’m blessed to call you FRIEND. 🙂
    Love you.
    xoxo

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