…or any other disease. God didn’t create pornography or addiction, violence or crime.  God doesn’t cause people to fall off a cliff, break their leg, or lose their job.  He also doesn’t entice anyone to make bad choices that result in heartache or loss.  God does, however, surround us with miracles. I used to curse God… literally. In fact, there have been many a time when my prayers consisted only of swear words… and it’s okay… I know God can take it.  He understands. 

I no longer swear at God.  I know better than to blame Him.  In fact, when things appear to be really horrible to the human eye, I trust that God has my back and will turn trials into sacred learning experiences that are truly priceless.  

I have noticed it is during the times of the most extreme heat in the “refiners fire”, that Christ is the closest, and not just Christ, the son of God, but also angels, those who have passed before us…. They have our backs too.  

I used to believe I was in control of my life and that my actions only affected me.  Both of these ideas are complete nonsense. I live in a constant state of surrender… it feels as though I am on a roller coaster with both arms high in the air, not knowing what comes next.  This can be a grueling and scary place… unless…. You let go of fear and live life with wonder and awe, completely present in each moment, fully trusting God, and believing that everything happens perfectly in His universe.

I have spent a lifetime worrying about others feelings, including my kids.  I have tried to protect them from hard things, hurtful things, or things I saw to be stumbling blocks in “my perfect plan” for them. I used to tell my kids to be extra kind to their sibling because they were struggling or I’d run to their rescue, getting in the face of a teacher because “my child didn’t deserve that”. What I’ve learned is that when you protect others from their feelings or experiences, the consequences of their choices or life, it keeps them from feeling and experiencing the very things vital in teaching them the lessons they needed to learn.  

I’ve had to let go of this concept because my children have been given trials far bigger than my capacity to control or even affect.  Do you have any idea the extreme agony, frustration and helplessness felt when you can do NOTHING to take away your child’s pain?  When there isn’t a damn thing you can do to save their life? But what if that’s the point? When we interfere we aren’t saving their life… we are getting in God’s way and making messes that could potentially alter the perfect plan God has for them.

For the past five plus years my life feels like the teacups at Disneyland… and it seems there is an invisible hand spinning my cup way faster than anyone else’s.  My life is fluid, constantly changing.  I have stopped getting upset when my “plans” completely change on an hourly basis.  I’ve stopped getting angry or frustrated when nothing goes the way I think it should go.  I watch people throw tantrums, flip others off and waste a whole bunch or energy over things they can’t control and I just look at them through my exhausted eyes and think, “oh honey, ….. if you only knew”.  

I’m sure that to others my life and my family’s lives seem horrible, ugly and sad… and honestly, there are moments when I think that myself, but there is one lesson I’ve learned that helps me see past these falsehoods.  

We are all spirits who came to this earth and received the most miraculous gift in all of existence…. A body.  A body patterned after Gods.  Our bodies house our spirits.  Our bodies are the sacred vessels that contain the essence of who we are and allow us to feel. I’ve noticed, however, that most people don’t like to feel.  In fact, most have never learned how.  I lived my life this way for years.  I became so good at not feeling that I didn’t even realize what was happening.  In that very first millisecond when my body felt hurt, fear, sadness or anxiety I became a first responder and shut it down.  Sometimes I shut it down with alcohol, other times with exercise, often by just staying extremely busy, or by looking at everyone around me and what they were doing and what I could help them with.  

This seemed like a great plan…. Avoiding all “bad emotions”.  All you have to do is numb out and not feel them and they go away…. Right?  Unfortunately, they don’t go away, in fact, they actually compile one on top of the next and get worse until all those stuck un-felt emotions start to manifest as sickness or dis-ease in your body.  

Recently I read a book by Brene Brown called “The gifts of Imperfection”.  Brene is a researcher and has studied this concept for years.  What she found is that you cannot selectively numb emotions.  If you numb sadness, hurt and pain, you also numb joy, peace and happiness. That drink or that donut (or whatever your favorite coping tool is) that took all the hurt away and made everything better…. Just robbed you of the very things you are searching for in life. 

Brene talks about the importance of feeling emotions so that we can take the positive emotions and experiences and build a reservoir to draw from when life gets really tough. If we consistently numb out, there is no reservoir to draw from and we are left depleted to handle what may be the hardest experiences of our life.  

I’ve noticed that life generally offers sequencing as a means to prepare us for what’s to come. We start out as children with fairly small trials and disappointments and gradually these strengthening experiences become larger and larger.  If we check out and numb out we are preventing ourselves from strengthening the very muscles we need to handle life.  

I guess the reason I have pondered on this topic so much is that my family is going through a very “hard” but sacred time.  We have conversations that most only see in the movies and I want to express my gratitude to God, for helping me learn to feel.  The painful and scary conversations had and the things I have to watch my children endure are probably most parents worst nightmare… and trust me…. I have cried through many nights.  But my message is this… As I have been taught (okay forced) to slow down, to be still, and to use my breath to be fully present in my body, rather than chasing thoughts in my head… as I have let go of fear and replaced it with love and gratitude, as I have developed the courage to feel every emotion, I have discovered it is during the times that the world would describe as horrible, that are what I would define as sacred.  Feeling is a gift.  I am so sad that I have missed out on feeling “hard things” for most of my life.  Feeling hard things is what teaches us the very lessons we came here to learn …. But mostly… it is during those times when we allow ourselves to feel hard things that we discover God is far closer to us than we ever imagined.  It is during these moments of feeling that we are present enough to recognize the miracles in our lives.  

I am humbled and full of gratitude for all of the teachers in my life who have helped me learn that it’s okay to feel.  I am so happy to say that I haven’t used alcohol as a coping mechanism for over six weeks and the more distance I put there, the more clarity and peace I feel in what could be described as some extremely difficult times.

I know God lives. I know God has a perfect plan and mission for each of His children.  I have witnessed His miracles far too many times to count and feel His love for me and my family more than I ever have.  I am so grateful for friends and family who surround us and acknowledge the sacred nature of this time in our lives.  

Cancer has reared its ugly head again.  I cannot tell you how proud I am of not only Riley, but of every member of my family, for taking the last five plus years and using the trials to strengthen us and draw us closer as a family than we have ever been.  No one knows how long they have on this earth, but regardless, this earth life is a very small portion of our eternal existence. 

The Culleys are learning everyday to be fully present in each moment and to live a life of gratitude and love.  Anger, bitterness and fear result in nothing good and especially when directed at God. My hope is that everyone on earth will slow down, be still, and embrace the gift of feeling….. this is where you will witness miracles….I promise you won’t be disappointed.