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Life's Little Lessons

"If you ask me what I came into this life to do, I will tell you: I came to live out loud." – Emile Zola

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beginning

Listen

I don’t always do it, but when I’m intentionally listening, my body tells me what it needs and my inner compass tells me which way to go. I’d say it’s usually spot on, but I’ll leave room for error because sometimes *read MOST times* I have my own agenda.

For example, the other morning I wanted nothing but coffee and something quick and sweet, but my body told me I needed water and chicken. Yes, chicken. So there I was at 7:30 AM, sitting on my couch with a plate of grilled chicken and a large glass of water. It wasn’t what I pictured, but my body was right. I’m stressed out and substance is something I am craving.

Nothing quick. No empty calories.
No shallow relationships.

I read an article this past year about the top five most stressful life events and it made me feel somewhat better in regards to my current state of inner chaos. They are:

  • Death of a loved one.
  • Divorce.
  • Moving.
  • Major illness or injury.
  • Job loss.

After reading the complete article, I felt like an over-achiever. 3/5 in one year. I can do hard things.

Truth is, we all have particularly great seasons of life and conversely, particularly not great seasons. When it’s your turn to get chewed up and spit out, you’re left feeling understandably disheveled and out of sorts (and for someone who struggles with control, it’s even more of blow when you feel you have none).

Resetting your life is both physically and mentally taxing and I’m not sharing my journey looking for sympathy because you and I both know how quickly the tables can turn. I share because there’s a difference between living “in theory” vs living “in reality”. We THINK things are going to go one way. We THINK we’ll handle things differently when they don’t. As much as I’d like to show up all pretty and pressed, real life is kind of rumply and it shows. No one is exempt. Life doesn’t have any qualms with randomly placing a bitter cocktail in front of us and telling us to drink up.

And to that, I say, “Hell to the no.”

We do not need to drink up, but we do need to listen. Just like how our bodies can’t function well for too long on only caffeine and cookies, our hearts can’t heal if we are out looking for the next quick fix. Listening to what we really need is important. I realize only now how much I filled my life with a lot of empty moments because I did not want to stay uncomfortable. My longing for ease created a bunch of short cuts that only delayed an inevitable process IN me. And all processes have their day. And their way.

Friends…please sit quietly in your heartbreak and listen. Sit quietly in your anger. In your longing. In your confusion. In it all. Listen.

Listen to what YOU need. There’s a time and a space for other people’s good opinions of what you should or shouldn’t do, but only you can choose how and when you get up and shake the dust off your feet.

Learn to trust the voice that is whispering inside of you. Learn to trust yourself.

Make Room 

The perfect morning to me is a cup of coffee, the couch and a book and time void of hustle and rush. Slow. Slow makes it truly, truly perfect and as Chief Hopper says in the very first episode of Stranger Things

“MORNINGS ARE FOR COFFEE AND CONTEMPLATION.”

And this morning I found myself having it all. The coffee, the couch and book…with plenty of time to get lost in some thought or some conversation and they walk right past, stuck in their morning routine, just the same.

“Come sit with me for a bit,” I say and I make room on the couch. I want more than just the normal Sunday Morning. I want their presence.

I’ve been thinking a lot this week about PEOPLE. Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do? Isn’t that Christmas? I think of people in particular…their role in my life, my role in theirs and our influence on one another. I’ve been asking a lot of questions, gleaning a few answers and in between doing a lot of soul-searching.

There is more to life then living from here to there. There is a place in between.

In the past few days I’ve sat with people when it wasn’t convenient or easy and through it, I’ve realized once more how important it is to give each other our presence. We all want to be seen and heard and sometimes, most times, I liken all of humanity to the old stainless steel tea-pot that sits on my gas stove: We take time to warm up. We don’t want hurried along like we are an appointment on someone’s calendar or an errand they are running that can eventually be crossed off their list.

But sadly, most times, that is what we get.  Remnants of someone’s leftovers, their seconds, their hurry, their less than best.

Looking back now, I can see where that rush has caused more than a problem or two. Lack of presence places Constance where intact should be forged and before you know it, it’s easy to feel like distrusting strangers.

I think it’s the people in my every day crazy, when things aren’t calm and slow, that I’ve needed to pay closest attention to. The ones I’m most likely to whiz right by or take for granted have needed my solid and sturdy legs to remain strong yet bendy so I could ask simple and basic questions.

**Like**

“How are you?”

How many times do we dig our heels in and wade through the awkward silence for their answer? Their REAL answer.

Not many enough.

Conversely, last night as I was putting on my shoes, a random thought popped into my head. I thought of one person in particular, one I’ve been giving too much time and attention to though they havn’t been anywhere in my travels, no where in my circles but they indeed have been taking up space in the thoughts inside my head. As I laced up my last shoe, I didn’t think but more RESOLVED that they were a common denominator in too many of my here-and-now-life-problems. Too much of what I have rolling on the inside of me has their name attached and just like that… I made the decision to take them out of my equation.

And I realized I can do that.

Just. Like. That.

I’ve been giving them too much space through no fault of their own and in the big picture, it’s been frustrating. I’ve allowed their influence to tip some scale inside my life in a less than life-giving way and I refuse to carry them with me into the New Year.

I choose to no longer give them a seat on the couch that is housed in a room within my head. I stood tall after tying my shoes and within moments, showed them to the door. I don’t need to think about them or talk about them because to do so, places an unhealthy, unbalanced importance where it shouldn’t and afterwards, I’ve wondered WHY I’ve ever given away such a powerful choice.

And the sad but wonderful thing about this moment, in the midst of shoes and laces is this…

My resolve has nothing to do with an actual person as first assumed. Sure there’s a name but in the grand scheme of things, it could be a hundred names. They were merely just a representation of a festering wound and I think I needed someone, essentially anyone, to blame.

And since blaming does no good.

Here’s the door.

Be free.

What they represented to me has to go. I need to make room in my heart for vision and hope and joy and laughter and I don’t want to make time for the incessant chatter things past try to hold me to.

We need to free up space friends for real people. Not for the stupid things people do or our assumptions about them. Not for past hurts that keep replaying like a broken record. Not for our offenses or the sordid scenarios that we play and then rewind again and again in our head. Sometimes it IS as simple as refusing to give those thoughts an audience and if it means for a while that the name that’s attached goes unmentioned so you can quit your bad habit, then let it be so. Go cold turkey. Do whatever you can to think favorably again.

It’s not about cutting our losses. We need to look at the rooms within our homes and examine what is filling them. Sometimes it gets a little crowded with stuff and I don’t know about you, but if I’m going to have a full house, I’d rather have it packed with presence. People presence. Not poor thinking OF people presence because at the end of the day, negative attention is STILL attention and takes up space. An awful lot of it.

Friends I’m short on time and like you, I want to make my time count. I want my presence count. If I have any resolutions this year it is this:

want the person standing in front of me to walk away knowing they were heard and seen **THAT THEY WERE LOVED** and I want my thoughts to count.

I don’t have people to waste. I don’t have thoughts OF people to waste.

Neither do you.

Now what? 

Have you ever been in two places at the same time? The place where you are physically in one place and the other half of you is somewhere else meandering around in your mind or in your heart. I have. Yesterday I was in a car for s-e-v-e-n hours total traveling with my family…fielding questions, singing, laughing and at the same time, I was sitting with Jesus somewhere in the midst of the bustle asking, “Where do I go from here?” I know I haven’t been in the “best” place, but still…not all lost because regardless of what it has looked and felt like, I still have been in SOME place.

Seven hours later, I really hadn’t receive a response that gave a finite answer. I think I’m the type-of-girl who thinks she wants step 1 ——> step 2 = step 3, but really I’m not all about that one bit. Top pretty. Too packaged. The only thing I know is my heart intuition saysto keep taking steps when steps are needed and to keep taking steps WITH Him. “Keep doing what you are doing now.” My family, chaos, car rides and me living in two-worlds with the person of the Lord…check.

I mentioned in my last post “honest” that I asked several leaders from our church to pray for me on Sunday, and not just walk away and “pray for me” or add me to some prayer chain, but “Grab my hands right now, look me in the eyes and stampede the throne room with me.” A tenderhearted man who I don’t know well named Steve Burris grabbed my hand. He asked me to do him a favor, and though I have never really spent any amount of time with him, I know enough to take what he says seriously. He asked me to take a really deep breath.

Because I have been holding mine.

And the tears began to flow becuase THAT hit home.

For months I have been holding my breath, trying to get through with both fist clenched tight. “If I can just make it through the day.”

Me. Myself. and I.

The very breath of life, Holy Spirit Himself, I shut out.

“I can do this on my own. I can get by. I can fix.” 

Pain tempts you to think the most awfulest of things. It makes you feel isolated and alone. It makes you think you are in a great battle instead of trusting that the war has already been won and that you can rest in what has been done. 

I held my breath and gave back my rest. I am sorry Jesus.

So I stood Sunday in the parking lot breathing in and breathing out FOR REAL as my church family stood with me. I don’t think I needed to explain much of the situation, it’s obvious I have been deficient of oxygen as my thinking has been affected by my poor brain, but as I stood…my lungs and my pores began opening up as I felt His/their love as we stood in the middle of a vacant parking lot. Who cared who saw. Who care anything. I was believing lies and wanted to be free. ***Once more…invite people into your pain. If you still haven’t done so and are doing it alone, don’t. Reach out to just one person. Then reach out to two. It’s the best thing I’ve done since Sunday. Perhaps it’s just the best thing I have done.***

LIE: “You have been a Christian for 10 years. You have proclaimed to walk intimately with Jesus. You have… IF you are WHO you say you are…YOU. WOULD’T BE HERE stuck in the middle of the parking lot needing prayer.” This is the lie I STILL hear in my head. It is perhaps the #1 way we get attacked. IF. YOU. ARE. **a good mom**a good wife**a good person**caring**honest**loving**merciful**grace-filled** Sounds an awful like how Jesus was questioned in Matthew 4. Go read it. Once we give into the lie that our identity is anything LESS THAN the truth = BONDAGE. 

Don’t let your pain or your pride stop you from going after what you know you want or need.

*SO* In the car driving, somewhere resting with Jesus…no easy answers, no ah-hah revelation except the simple knowing, my heart intuition, that if I keep sitting with Him long enough, if I keep breathing-in this life, this ABUNDANT, AMAZINGLY BEAUTIFUL life and keep stepping, HE WILL GUIDE ME INTO WHAT’S NEXT.

I don’t have to have it figured out. I have an overwhelming understanding, despite my perceived lack of it, that it’s OK to hurt at times. It is OK to have just walked through a really hard season and say “GEESH. THAT ALL JUST SUCKED.” It’s when I believe the lie that it’s better to do it on my own that I stop breathing because the heavy responsibility of it all falls back on me and my chest feels crushed, lungs and all, by the weight.

Breathing WITH Him. Step one.

Further ahead today than yesterday. Two steps further then the day before. Leaning in more than I have in a long time.

the beginning, middle and end

I tend to over complicate things. Like W-A-Y over complicate and maybe it’s not so much over complicate as it is…over think. <<<<<——- See, I just did it right there. I have a disease.

Either way, over thinking leads to over complication. Agree?

It comes down to thinking I need to be somewhere other than where I am at.

I have recently been going back and have been rereading some old post/journals/blogs. Each entry is a door into my head and into my heart at THAT moment and each one has been NEEDED. I could not be HERE, in this right now moment experiencing these right now things, if I had not been THERE

I realize I have a propensity to gravitate towards RIGHT and WRONG and for this incredibly gray, in-the-middle woman…it baffles my mind that I weigh in so heavy on one side or the other, but I do. **WITH ME**

When I was little, I don’t think there was a lot of room for conversations, as in “What do you think?” It was “This is how it is. End of discussion.” So to think outside of “This is how it is”  has made me feel small, as in stepped on, as in END. OF. DISCUSSION. 

No perspectives.

No opinions.

No conversations.

And sadly and ultimately…No relationship.

I haven’t quite learned how to master the art of resting in WHO I am and yes, the people pleaser in me is still alive and kickin’ for I continuously resurect her from the dead and invite her to sit at the head of my table, but I am learning.

I do not have to TRY to convince…

So now here I am, an adult who thinks A LOT and who goes back and rereads and begins to gauge her own thoughts against her new ones and places them on a scale. Was I right then or was I wrong?

HA. I was both.

It is no longer a matter if I was right or if I was a wrong in what I thought about what I was walking through at that time…it’s just another layer of me, a ginormously large onion, right where I am at.

**GOOD ** BETTER ** BEST**

These my friends, are words to live by. Not necessarily wrong or right or some hazy shade of gray but…

IN THE MOMENT.

RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE AT.

DOING THE BEST THAT YOU CAN.

Which some days is good. Some days is better. Some days is best.

My friend Amanda taught me those words. I sat in a chair in her kitchen with a black binder in my hands that I often still use. I was new to health and overall nutrition and she was about to teach her first class and she said these three little words. It’s as if the heavens opened up above me and trumpets began to play, they impacted me that much. They’ve allowed me to take myself OFF THE HOOK and extend grace, mercy and kindness to myself.

Where you are at is GOOD.

If you step over here, it’s BETTER.

And if you push ahead, it’s BEST. 

Whatever it may be, it keeps you in the game instead of standing on the sidelines having been picked last at recess for the daily kickball game. It rules out NOTHING, it negates NO ONE.

Live in the moment. Live right in THIS moment, just as you are. Do not cross yourself off or rule yourself out. You aren’t getting it all right nor are you getting it all wrong…you are somewhere continuously between the beginning, middle and end.

Enjoy the journey.

Much Love- 

August

 

 

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