Movements of My Heart

Promises for 2019 by rebecca keating

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30 December 2018

Today, Noah and I (and his brother Cord) have been driving from Noah’s parent’s house up near San Francisco down to San Diego. This full day of being cooped up in the car has been full of moments to be bothered and annoyed, disheartened and misunderstood. Around the fourth quarter of the drive, I really snapped. All of the anxiety that I had worked to buckle down throughout the day burst out of my chest, bringing tears to my eyes and paralyzing my mind. I pulled out my laptop to unpack the anxiety that has become too familiar to me over this year. I got the cheesy idea to start broadcasting that I am leaving anxiety in 2018 — that I won’t be bringing it into 2019. Maybe I’m not hopeful or optimistic enough yet, but I quickly nixed that idea, thinking to myself that unless a miracle happens, there’s no guarantee that my anxiety will magically disappear when the clock strikes midnight tomorrow night. (update from 2019 — anxiety is still here)

Call it a lack of faith or call it pragmatism, I have decided that if I wasn’t guaranteed that my anxiety was going to still be hanging around in the new year, the best I can do is make promises to myself for 2019 — for how I am going to handle my anxiety (and other things too). Since I’m getting married this year and writing wedding vows in May, I feel like it’s quite appropriate to write vows to myself in place of resolutions this year. 

So, in 2019, I promise these things to myself:

I promise to pursue peace in my mind. I promise to fight vigorously for my mental and emotional wellbeing. 

I promise to lean into the Holy Spirit to break myself off of years and years of horrible cycles of unhealth.

I promise to cut anxiety off from the authority I allow it to have over my present realities. I promise to protect my emotions from the attacks that anxiety relentlessly spars my way. 

I promise to give my mind more room to breathe, to give my intellect rest days and sabbaths. 

I promise to stop allowing my critical spirit to rob me of hope. I promise to be slower to judge, quicker to ask why. 

I promise to be patient with the healing of my body. 

I promise to leave college well: with grace and gentleness, lamenting the end of a season but praising God for the abundance of faithfulness that led me in and out of each semester. 

I promise to practice secrecy and gratitude. I promise to claim the goodness in the present and ponder things more deeply in my heart. 

I promise to cherish my final months of singleness, gratefully being present in these days before my life is bound to Noah’s in the eyes of God and our loved ones. 

I promise to enter into my covenant bond with Noah with a humility and selflessness that is only made true by the Holy Spirit. I promise to ask God to teach me how to love Noah like Christ loves the Church and deny myself of the selfish desires that get in the way of practicing perfect love. 

I promise to serve my Church with meekness rather than self-righteousness and generosity instead of vanity. In this year I will grow to love the Church in a way that trades my ideals of how things should go for joy to be in the Presence with God’s people. 

I promise to keep my hands and eyes open in this new year, looking for ways to help and be curious and understand and love. 

I promise to be vulnerable, even when it hurts. I promise to let myself get scary close to people.

All these things and more, I commit to these 12 months. I give myself to the Lord to be mended and mended, again and again. Willingly and in faith, I surrender these days to He who sees beyond the year to come. 


photo by the best! : Lindsey @ http://www.lindsmariephoto.com

THIS IS ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS I HAVE LEARNED SO FAR by rebecca keating

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I know these things to be true. I have for most of my life: “Your grace is sufficient for me." "I have all that I need." "You do not withhold any of your love from me.” But I am learning these things in a deep, gut wrenching way this week. 

I had oral surgery last Thursday. I got my wisdom teeth out and a bone graft to prep for an implant. The recovery process has been infection free and supposedly smooth, but the pain will not cease. It’s relentless, unceasing, excruciating, definitely the worst physical pain I have ever experienced. There has not been a single night in the past seven days where I have not woken up in the middle of the night, kept awake for hours crying out to God begging for Him to ease the pain so I could sleep. I wish I could learn resilience and endurance by listening to a sermon or someone else’s story — not my own physical pain. I keep asking God why I have to learn this way. I have this theory, though. God loves me too much to let a hard experience come and go, so He uses trials even like this ache in my mouth to teach me about Himself. He cares for my growth too much to let this disappear into another journal entry in the stack of notebooks under the bed. 

There are new words that this trial is giving me to worship with. God is taking this experience from pain to suffering. From physical to emotional to spiritual. So these are the prayers that have been inspired within me. They are being sewn deep into my heart. 

If you are in a trial — whether it be seemingly meaningless like a toothache or visibly tragic and totally life altering — I invite you to pray these words with me. Pray them until you believe them in your gut. Pray them even if they roll right off your tongue. I am realizing my need for these words in my every day. Let them become a new liturgy in my life. 

Lord the pain is severe. The pain is excruciating. Let the pain to be what I need to know deeply and truly in my heart that no matter what I lack, no matter the unfulfilled need, your mercy is active over me and sufficient for me.

I have your fullness right now. You are not withholding grace from me. Healing does not dangle on a stick before me saying “pray longer” “ask for one more person to lift you up” “obey me better”. Your heart is good. Your love for me is complete, it is not fractured, and it is fully present. 

I give you permission to use every physical pain in my body and every emotional and mental pain in my mind to draw me closer to you.

In my lack, show me your complete love, abundant grace, total mercy. I will take the pain if it teaches me more about your love. 

If you want this message of your sufficiency to sink deeper — if you know the fight will increase my trust — then I trust that you will let it stay if it’s forming my heart. 

Please do not let my suffering go to waste. I will worship you here in it. I will worship you for the things I struggle to believe. And after, I will sing even louder. On that day, when the pain is gone, it will be easy to sing of your faithfulness. But I know I’ll forget. I’ll forget how much wrestling it took me to get to this place. I’ll forget my desperate cries for healing. So please help me to not forget. Help me not forget these moments when the true words felt so foreign to my lips. I always forget when it is good. Come Lord. Help me not forget what it is like to feel so far from fullness. The memory of this desperation will fill my worship with even more belief. 

And lastly, throughout all of this, I have been meditating most on the Lord's Prayer, given to me for the days when I have a million beautiful words and the days when there are no other words. 

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be Your name
Your kingdom come
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
Lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For Yours is the kingdom,
the power,
and the glory
Forever.
amen. 

This is my daily bread. This suffering is not the bread that I asked for, but it is what You have allowed for me. So I will take it. I receive it with willing hands and a faith filled heart. This bread fills me with the most satisfying grace -- I will not let it go to waste. 

 

pic by my babe boy noah

Arrival Moments by rebecca keating

July 7
8.17am

There have been so many things happening inside me. I’ve been writing most of them down every day but I haven't had the right words to share them. My Instagram captions are not as thoughtful as usual. This website has been a digital ghost town. The season I am in is unique from other seasons that I have identified in my life. Typically, everything is really wonderful and I am soaring OR everything sucks and I am in full on crisis mode. This season is a really even mix of both. I am not in shambles but I am not thriving. I am not balanced either. 

I’ve been thinking a lot about Arrival Moments lately. I don’t think we live life with an end goal of who we are to become. There is no final destination to our purpose or anything. But I believe that there are moments in life where you feel like you’ve made it. Like you’re all there. All set. The moments often come alongside a good and deep revelation for me. They come after a longwinded pursuit of growth. They are accompanied by huge amount of relief and it feels like nothing can separate you from this feeling of being “there”. They happen with the true awareness that this is not the final stop—this is just a big building block for everything to come. 

The idea that growth builds upon growth has been something I have pondered a lot this year. In a book on purpose and calling by Parker Palmer, he inserts a poem that includes these lines: Whatever’s been uprooted, let it be / Seedbed for the growing that’s to come. These words have stuck with me like scripture as I have learned well that being present in seasons of growth is crucial in order to welcome in the next patch of growth required in the process of becoming. Growth never ceases to build upon growth, and I like to notice the Arrival Moments that kind of bookmark each patch of growth. 

Arrival Moments are less “arriving at your destination” than they are a check point. Moments that make me feel like I have arrived are so temporary. It is good to get swept away in them for a second. The boost of confidence is empowering. But it is easy to be shaken quickly afterwards if you hold the moment as too definitive for you. Arrival Moments come after periods of uprooting and are sort of like a fresh seedbed. 

Back to this season. I am really unsatisfied with the personal narrative that I speak to myself. I am a creative, lighthearted, energetic individual most days. But my deep, internal life is not as healthy as I desire for it to be. There are so many mindsets and thinking habits that need to be uprooted in me. There are pains carried from my past that need to be processed further. I know who I want to become. There is an image in my mind of who I will be when I have detached myself from negative self talk and live as the independent and confident woman that I know I am capable of becoming.

I've recently realized that I would not have been able to understand these needs for growth and maturity if I had not gone through the growing pains I went through this past winter and spring. That season was painful and my whole world was upside down for weeks. But I have joy looking back on it because of how refining it was for me. The discomfort of the start of that season is similar to what I am experiencing now. Last time, I dreaded it all. I was terrified of who I would become through it. What is different this time is that I am also thrilled at how I will grow. I am no longer fearful of the growing pains, but I welcome them and the healthier version of myself that they will develop. 

When I began the previous period of growth, I knew that the end "goal" was to make choices because I was worth it. Worth the effort, worth the good grade, worth the love. I knew that I would be better at the whole self-love/appreciating self-worth thing when I cared for myself better than Noah cares for me. And so the Arrival Moment of that season was when I consistently started making choices because I want them for myself because I am worthy of that goodness. 

I don't know what the next Arrival Moment is going to look like and I'm not saying I need to get there in order to do all of the things I have been called to do. We can live out our callings at every stage of becoming. I don’t think that things will be easier or smoother the second I unlock this level of self-assurance and respect. But I am so aware that there is more in store for me and who I have been created to be. I am praying for peace in just knowing I am on my way there.

I started seeing a new therapist this week. Both of us are really optimistic that counseling is really necessary for this season. At the end of our session, she looked me in the eye and said with utmost sincerity that she believes that the best is ahead. And I believe it too. I believe there is more goodness ahead for all of us--Arrival Moments, in-betweens, and everything. 

 

Things I am Learning in this Season of Lent by rebecca keating

For six months, I have been feeling disconnected from myself. I would sit down to soul search and walk away still feeling detached from myself. It was so difficult to get a good read on my heart. 

But last week, some conversations happened and it felt like tables were turned upside down in me and scales were lifted from my eyes. I see the things I have been blind to. 

It is painful--coming to understand that a great amount of growth needs to be had. 
It is painful--realizing you have been hurting people you care for because you don't love yourself.
It take courage--to not run away when it is time to be honest with yourself.

There are many hard and heavy things in life right now. The realizations that came from last week's conversations feel like they have the weight of the world attached to them.

On March first, when the prompting to change was fresh and startling, I sat in a small chapel at school and took communion with a mini snickers and water. I ate the snickers and the Lord spoke to my heart, "This is my body, broken for you--because you are worth it." I sipped the water and he said, "This is my blood poured out for you because I love you endlessly. . . You are worth good grades because you are a child of God. You are worth a healthy body because I love to heal. You are worth a loving boyfriend because redeeming love is your true theme. You are worth a caring roommate because I died so you can love purely and kindly." I am learning to see myself with more worth and value than I have in a long time. God is guiding me beyond the shallow and familiar waters of my inadequacies and self doubt. 

I couldn't imagine a better season to be in while I process these things. It is the season of Lent and, as my mind and heart turn to the cross, my spirit is softened. It is ready to be remade. I am spending a week in the mountains--there is no better place to be in this stage of renewal. Edna Hong writes, "The purpose of Lent is not to escape the conscience, but to create a healthy hatred for evil, a heartfelt contrition for sin, and a passionately felt need for grace". Later on in her piece called "A Look Inside," she says, "a guilty suffering spirit is more open to grace than an apathetic or smug soul." She calls Lent "a downward ascent. It ends before the cross, where we stand in the white light of a new beginning." My heart leaps every time I read and remember these words. I am more connected to myself than I have felt in many months, and the self I feel connected to feels so true to the self that God has created me to be. This is my downward ascent to the foot of the cross--I am no longer fearful of the discomfort that accompanies growing pains because I know my destination is "the white light of a new beginning."

 

How did we get here and why? by rebecca keating

I deleted my Instagram today. I cried and it hurt so bad. It was like that part of a break up when you both know it's over but you both don't want to be the one to end it but you just have to man up and cut the cord as fast as you can. It's over now. And it's super weird. My muscle memory keeps opening my phone and tapping the app that's now in it's place. Then I'll remember that what I subconsciously wanted is not around anymore.

I wish I could just call it a hiatus. Maybe a short fast. A head start at lent perhaps. 

But come on, whenever you hear your friends tell you about their "sort of break up" where they leave it open ended and all that, you just want to call BS on it and tell them that's not going to give them the space they need. And so I won't put any labels on it. I'll just say that I deleted the app and I don't plan on using my @rebeccakeating account anymore. 

Maybe you're curious about how I got to this place. I sure am haha. I've had an Instagram for seven years now. That means that every single teenage year of my life -- every single year where who you're becoming is really important -- had the presence of Instagram in it. It's wild to think about. And it's startling too as I have begun to ponder who I have become with Instagram in my life. I had my phases throughout high school where it was all I cared about. . .I went places just for the photo. . .followed a bunch of accounts for the fans, only to unfollow them the next day. I was labeled as "best social media presence" at my senior prom. That was super important to me then. But I grew out of the "immature stages" of being obsessed with Instagram, and on the surface layers, haven't noticed any issues since. 

But man oh man the Lord has been convicting me so hard of the deeper impacts of this app in my life. He's been nudging at me for weeks now to take some time away from the app, and I'm finally convinced that deleting it is obeying. 

I have this really great group of girls that meets for a small group. I've never posted anything about it on social media, though. I never felt a need to. But recently, another group of girls on campus -- girls that I love and treasure and admire -- started a small group. They posted about it on social media right from the start and instantly got so much applause for their commitment to building each other up and siding with one another in prayer. Yes, the Lord is glorified when we gather to seek Him together, but all I could think in this situation was this: because I never posted about my Bible study and the goodness of it on social media, nobody got to hear about it except the girls in my group and maybe the friends they directly told, but anyway, my group is less meaningful. But, the other group that told social media about their Bible study got a lot of praise and admiration from other people about their Bible study, making it super meaningful. 

I pouted about it to God. I want to be recognized and I want my pretty Christian girl actions to be adored. Gently and with grace, the Lord brought me to a place of recognizing how ugly my heart was in this situation. 1. I should be cheering these friends on no matter what. They are loving one another in a Christ-like way and they are going to bear fruit because of this small group. 2. I learned from this situation how I allow my value to be determined externally. I came to see that, while on a normal basis, I could care less about how many likes I get on an Insta post, but when it comes to posting something and getting praise for it outside of the app, that is how I am validated. 

This brought me to see how I really do need to take some time to live without the voices of Instagram. I need to re-anchor myself in the truth that value comes 100% from what the Lord says about me. 

Please please please don't misunderstand me--I am not against Instagram at all. My goal is not to make anyone feel guilty for enjoying Instagram. I don't hate people who talk about their small groups on social media -- I think it is such a blessing and freedom to be able to share how we are growing with others online -- I think it should be shared! I still love Instagram and I treasure the community there so much.  

You might be thinking to yourself that I am making way too big of a deal about a little app. Maybe. It might be a super secondary issue in some people's minds, but for me and the way that Instagram has been such a prevalent part of my life for so long, it's a big deal. 

Since one of my greatest beliefs is that "You can't erase, you must replace," that is why I've started up this new site at the same time as I've nixed my Instagram. I don’t have big huge dreams for this space to be the absolute most important thing I’ve ever done. I just want it to be where I can do all the things I tried and wanted to do with my Instagram, but never accomplished. I tried for a long time to make my Instagram message-based, and focused on writing meaningful words. But on an app that has so much going on and so many different purposes, you just kind of get lost in everything that it is trying to be. 

I don't want to keep throwing my words in a deep pool that expands into every direction. I want to seek out a truer, direct connectedness, and I believe that in creating this site, I might be able to accomplish that better. 

I want to love people through my words. I want to tell my stories and tell others' stories. I want to hear your stories as well. So if you found this site from my Instagram or from Facebook or some other means, I am so happy you are here. Welcome to the first official post of this site. I am grateful for the time you have spent to learn this bit of my heart, and I hope I can make this space safe and free for you to drop a note or spill your guts out without hesitation. 

photo by: Jerusha Crone