Christian Living, Finding Peace, Grieving, Healing Season, Surrender, Uncategorized

You’re Not That Strong (and why that’s good)

“You’re gonna be so strong after this thing, honey,” her eyes were locked on mine. Her heavy hands giving my shoulder an affirming shake.

“How strong does someone need to be?” I asked. I don’t think I want…sob…I don’t think I want to be…sob…that…sob…strong.

I was young.

I was wise!

You should not be as strong as I am.

shannyn7falls

I’m not talking about gains in the gym, I’m talking about lifting the crushing weight of hopelessness.

20 years ago today my parents, Lee and Jacque Cook were killed by an F7 tornado in Montgomery, Ohio.

emt workers carry out mom or dad

I know. Ouch. So ouch.

At the time I received a LOT of help, so help people with their “ouches” now.

My friend was right, I became “so strong through this” but I’m still no convinced that is a good thing. It’s been suggested that my strength is often detrimental and creates imbalances in life. I bet that’s true.

Guess why?

It’s fake news.

I’m not strong. I am carried by the King and He strengthens me.

If all of a sudden you’re like…ope…I’m out.

Peace.

And speaking of peace…Jesus…He gets a crummy wrap sometimes, but He is actually known as the Prince of Peace. 20 years ago today, I became a witness. I know that heaven fell on me like honey from a comb and once I get a taste, I was like freaking Pooh Bear.

20 years ago, I was walking around the wreckage where my family and house used to be.

And I was looking to two things a)treasures-anything that proved we existed and b)answers-like why?

At the time, I believed in reincarnation. I thought that in each life we had a lesson to learn in order to progress forward and eventually attain Nirvana. I don’t really know what combination the “all you can eat buffet of faith”, I’d stacked on my plate to think that way. But…there it is. I wandered the ground asking “why, God” and “what are you trying to teach me” as my born-again brother was on the t.v. news saying stuff like “God is so faithful. He’s so good. He took them together. They would not have wanted it any other way.”

I was entirely carried by friends, civic and church people who I didn’t know. You can read the whole story in my book The Healing Season: How a Deadly Tornado Wrecked and Reshaped My Faith. It’s everywhere books are sold (and there’s a small group DVD and audio book, too)

HSsmallgroupupdate

I was not strong. I was carried. I was weak. The community was strong and carried me.

I “have  some “strength”. I may even be strong.Or, maybe I’m weak and trying to keep you at arms length by flexing mine. I’m in therapy for my “strong ” because like I said, it’s fake news. I am needy. I need my friends, family, church, counselor. I need my workouts (but to burn off the crazy as much as build muscle).

For at least 20 years I wore I black pleather jacket. It was bad to the bone and looked killer on me.

But but God is doing a new thing. Think about it: do the words “bad to the bone and killer” best describe who I am and who I want to be?

I threw the jacket away. It does not make anyone think I’m tough. It’s not going to stop someone from mugging me (or worse).

I am covered by the King and clothed in His mercy and grace.

I know…so much Christianeese.

But, dude, it’s Him. He’s my strength. He carried me then and now and always. And that’s enough for me. My God strength is my good strength. Not my real strength. Not my black pleather jacket. My Jesus.

So, 20 years now.

20-years with a yucky title, I didn’t pick “orphan”or want “tornado girl.”

We all have those, right? “Divorced guy” “Cancer mom” “Unemployed boy”.

Is there anyone in your life saying, “this is going to make you so strong”…sure.

It is.

But I really hope it also makes you weak. Weak enough that you need someone and reach out and feel them clutch your hand.

We can’t do it alone.

We are not made to.

tornadomessage

Plus those titles, “orphan” “looser” “failure” are also lies. I’m calling them out.

You are not those names. You are a God-breathed and divinely inspired movement of heaven on earth. Put that on your next job application! Right next to “emergency contact: Christ”.  Like the t-shirt says, we need a little bit of coffee and a whole lot of Jesus. But we also need people. Not just our tribes either.

Part of my “so strong problem” is this lie: I don’t need anyone. I can do it myself.

Again, so much fake news.

We need each other and we are needed.

Taken to it’s natural extreme for this tornado girl looks like isolation that is justified by introversion, which is probably instigated by a scary freaking world where tornadoes kill parents and kids get shot at schools, and planes fly into buildings sometimes. Not always. Not usually. But sometimes. At the mall. Or movies. So maybe I’ll stay home.

But there’s a problem there.

It was not ME who held me up back then, it was YOU. It was them.

It was God (of course) and the community. I worry about the unity in commUNITY.

Today, 20 years later that worry is wasted energy.

I was not worried a tornado would come. And most of the “tornado” we worry about only swirl in our minds. But there is one who calms the storm and in our weakness, He is very strong.

Plus…biggest bonus prize ever, because of Him I know I for sure get to see Mom and Dad again. It’s a done deal and it’s makes me so bold in the soul I could trash talk a tornado: what you got windbag? It only LOOKS like you won.

But there I go, being strong again. Today, I’m being gentle with myself.

I’ll sit with a coffee, and blanket and dog. I choose the little way to remember: plant a flower, read devotions.

Maybe I’ll bake a cake (angel food, of course.) and share it with someone.

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Shannyn Caldwell is a Traditional Naturopathic Doctor and Founder of The Healing Season: Holistic Wellness Community.

 

 

 

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Christian Living, Surrender

Rock Salt & Light

It was only 9 am. I was already overwhelmed by the wave of yuck that is my Facebook feed.

I saw a fire in Cali, a flood in Louisiana, an abandoned boy in Syria. I saw Donald. I saw Hilly.  I went to shut…it…down. When I saw THIS:

“Local friends. This is hidden art. The picture has the clues to help you find it. #finderskeepers”

It’s a post from my friend Kristie (who is an amazing super hero of a woman).

It looked to me, from the picture that this was near my local health food store.

Challenge accepted!

On my lunch break, I headed out to grab something from the Health Hut and keep my eyes peeled for awesome rocks while I was in the neighborhood. OK…to grab a komucha and Find. That. ROCK!

I looked like a kid with the Pokemon Go App…wandering downtown…looking at the screen, then the sky. Looking at the screen, then the flower box. Looking…where are there hanging baskets? Go there. Where is the sidewalk  concrete? Where does it come to a corner? Where is there mulch with hasta?

The sunshine on my face, all by itself was enough to burn off the cloud on my shoulders. The idea that someone in the world still cared to create art and give it away, burned off the cloud in my heart. Yes…the is BAD…lots of it. But there is also beauty. Seek the beauty.

 

hidden art 3

Thanks, Kristi.

You are salt and light and you…just…ROCK!

As a gal who’s putting the finishing touches on a book call Raised Catholic, I bonus love where the rock was hidden! Look at the sign at the church.

Yes, Lord. Let us be good disciples: People who look for your signs and follow hard after signs and wonders and stand on the rock!

This weekend, I think I will paint a rock, and hide it. #finderskeepers

Matthew 5:13-16

Salt and Light

 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

hidden art 4

Christian Living, Forgiveness, Social Justice

A Simple Song of Grace

Last night, compelled to write, I sat down.

A song came out! I have only written one other song in my life…when I was 9.

It was right after my Catholic school class went to confession.

The song was called “I didn’t mean to sin”.

Last night…in the spirit of renewal, God gave me a new song.

I’ll learn to play the tune He gave me, but share the lyrics with you:

It’s called A Simple Song of Grace

by Shannyn Caldwell

I will sing a simple song of grace
I will sing a simple song of praise
A simple song about a King who’s battle won us everything
So I will sing a simple song of grace

And I will bring an offering to you
A hurting heart’s the best that I can do
A broken/contrite heart, my God, you say you won’t detest
I’ll wear that like a blanket and find rest

(bridge)
And I don’t sing because I have a voice
I sing to you because I have a song
And I will search of stillness in the noise
And seek hard after you my whole day long

And I will sit and settle down my soul
The voice inside it says “Be still and know”
And the hardest thing I’ve had to say is “I am yours Lord have your way”
But in surrender finally, I’m whole.

So I will sing this simple song of grace.
And I will sing thing simple song of praise.

It’s a song about faith and hope and love and mercy
Blessing those who chose to curse me

Reaching out to help then needy

Telling of the One who freed me.
Standing in the intersection, dying and then resurrection
First for Him and then for you and me.

(bridge)
And I don’t sing because I have a voice
I sing for you because I have a song
And I will search for stillness in the noise
And seek hard after you my whole life long.

So I will sing a simple song of grace
And I will sing a simple song of praise
A simple song about a King who’s battle won us everything
So I will sing a simple song of grace.

princesswarriorsong

You may know that right now, I am doing “a second round” of the 40-Day Healing Season...this time going after a tornado that has been swirling in my life since I was…like 7 years old.

I feel God restoring me. Renewing me. I’m reclaiming the Shannyn that “little girl Shannyn” was born to be.