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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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discovery

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.

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 Upside Down

Rejection.

I think I’ve battled it since the womb and I’ve wondered if it’s the first thing people see when they looked at me. Has it been something I’ve hidden behind or has it been a shiny little pin I’ve worn on my lapel and I’ve used it as an excuse for the things I’ve done?

Probably both.

My parents dated in high school and my mother was a year older than my father which made him a Senior when she announced she was pregnant with me. He was honorable and gave her a little ring, which I store in a little wooden box in a chest in my room since their divorce, and I choose to believe they went in, full of hope, that a baby would save them.

But rejection was rooted deep in my family and everyone had their own baggage long before I was born. Unfortunately, as much as I love them both, their baggage became mine and sooner or later I had my own and before I knew it, everything was jumbled and it became very difficult to sort what was theirs, what was mine and what was ours.

I took it all.

Fast forward to my own marriage and here we are, all jumbled. Maybe we are normal. Maybe jumbling takes place in every marriage. Maybe every couple has their share of heart aches and breaks. Maybe it’s part of being human and being in human relationships. I am not really sure but one thing I am sure of is this:

I have continually allowed myself to feel rejected based off other people’s responses TO me. If it’s not what I had hoped for or what I had envisioned it would be…if their words did not match their actions and I found myself in the presence of a good talker rather than a good walker, I’d allow the perceived lack **of whatever** to pretty much obliterate my identity. I become worthless and not enough. Not valued. Not really liked or loved. I essentially allowed man to take the place of God and I’d worship the opinion and the approval of flesh and blood rather than The One who already says I am…

And I tell myself it’s easy. Too easy. “Anybody who has been through what I’ve been through within the span of my short life would be looking through the same clouded and muddled lens.” As soon as I have that thought, I realize I’m double-minded and rejection IS the shiny pin I wear on my lapel. I use it as an excuse. Rejection has been an old friend and as much as I loathe it, I don’t know how to live without it.

So over the last two weeks, I’ve been waking up each day choosing to intentionally posture myself to see how God sees.

How God sees me.

“Who am I?”

I need reminded because I’ve obviously forgotten.

I think of Jesus and I think of one of my favorite verses in scripture:

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

This is WHO HE is. This is ME.

I read further and know I’ve been thinking like a child. I looked up the scripture “Do unto others and they do unto you,” and all I find is this: 

“Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.” Luke 6:31

Damn.

I think again of Jesus. My thoughts always go back to Him and I realize that deep within me, what I’m really longing for is to become Love. Not just a little bit here or there. Not just in pieces and parts or to have characteristics of but to BE…

So I give up my childish ways and I show up and it hurts. It hurts more than I thought it would.  It makes me feel naked and exposed. It feels all upside down. It sears my flesh and feels like salt on an open wound and it is not always reciprocated and as much as I want to adjust myself and alter WHO I AM based off of how someone responds to me, I do not. I choose to believe I’m worth someone’s time and attention because I know that I am and that knowing allows me to give freely without strings.

Until I stop reacting to my circumstances and start responding to the love of Jesus, my circumstances will not change.

And I know it.

Don’t stop showing up and being you based off of how people respond to you. How you love anything is how you love everything for love is a quality of relationship more than a statement about the worthiness or deservedness of the object loved. -Richard Rohr

the closet

I stood in front of the closet and grabbed out a sweater. I was quick and haphazard, I was cold. Any sweater would do.

The morning went on and I stuck to the routine, but I just didn’t feel quite right. This sweater that I had on was an impulse buy, on sale. It was itchy. The color was off as well as the shape so I stood in front of the mirror trying to gauge, “Should I? Shouldn’t I?”

This sweater wasn’t really MY thing, but I spent money on it so it really should be. Right?

Another lesson learned.

I took the sweater off, folded it nicely and set it on my bed. It was going downstairs to sit on my ever growing consignment pile. One wear, oh how pathetically sad.

This unfortunately has been the story of my adult life. I get something that really isn’t ME and I force myself to wear it because I bought it or I make myself do it because I didn’t have the guts to say no. My life has been filled with “I should’s” and “what ifs.” If I am not mindful, as in if I do not intentionally guard my heart, I DO what I THINK is expected of me. I do what I THINK would make other people happy which ultimately comes down to one big, fat root: rejection and the fear of.

Stuff has consumed my life in a secret attempt to fill the tiny nooks and crannies where being at peace with WHO I am has been void. It’s been a me thing, certainly not any issue of some poor, unsuspecting sweater. In reality, I have ten others just like it, but I’ve functioned on the hopeful and unrealistic mindset that ONE more could do THE trick. One more sweater could FIX my void, hence fix ME because somewhere along the way I bought into the notion and the lie that I am broken. Unwanted. Yes, rejection has been grafted into my flesh’s DNA something fierce and I am continually pulled to be a consummate people pleaser.

But not today.

Each sweater I take off, each invitation I say no to that I know is not for me, is a another step in walking in the fullness of my original identity because here’s the thing…rejection is NOT grated into my DNA. It’s just an unwelcomed houseguest that I have entertained for far too log. I actually believe, even if my thoughts don’t always line up, that I have immeasurable value and worth thanks to Christ and every day is another undoing, another unlearning and I have no shame in being honest in saying…I am a work in progress. 

Those who say our inner struggles can be fixed and mended with Jesus in an once and done exchange at the foot of the cross actually set people up for continual failure and disappoinemnt and before we know it, we have turned Jesus into another remedy for some ailment for a sickness. My need for Him is ONGOING. The continual choice to choose WHERE I live from takes daily effort and effort my friends, does not come with ease. I’m going to Him again, and again, and again so if I’m consummate about anything, it is Him. I’m not asking Him to save me, that’s already done,  but to be WITH me as I choose to remember. 

Over and over again. 

So today I took off another sweater. I took it down the steps after holding it in my hands, debating whether or not to keep it because for YEARS, I have tried to make things work that just weren’t me and to be honest, I am tired. I am tired of the clutter and I am tired of my own shenanigans. I am tired of seeking after approval and attention. I am tired of playing head games. I am tired of trying to fit in and I am tired of stepping into things I should of never said YES to, good things, but things that just aren’t ME. 

I think I should. I think they THINK I should. I kind of want to, but it’s just not the right time, but hell with the right time, I’ll do it any way. Maybe it will grow on me, maybe I can make it work, maybe it will become me. Perhaps it will fix.

One sweater at a time. One activity at a time. One thought…

Father, remind me WHO I am. Not the ME I have created, not the ME I thought I needed to be, not the ME others expected or the ME that has flittered through life feeding off of feelings and experiences, but the ORIGINAL me. Take me back to the ME you thoughtfully and creatively made. The ME you delight in, the ME you adore. I open the doors to my closet and ask you to help me sort, show me what belongs and what doesn’t. I’m tempted to ask you to give me the courage to be ballsy enough to NOT wear what you haven’t clothed me in, but then I think…I already am. All that I need is inside of me. Father, remain ever present as tenacity buries itself deep…

My closets awaits…

 

One Thread at a Time 

Every time the world around me grows big, I go smaller. I unravel like a spool of homespun thread. 

There’s not too much us friends don’t talk about now a days thanks to social media and it’s made us all become one big dysfunctional family learning how to communicate around the dinner table. We have BIG thoughts. BIG emotions. LOUD voices. It all becomes quite complicated and fuzzy and when it does, I find the need to defray. 

One thread at a time.

❤️

I had lunch today with an old friend. We ate at a place I used to work at in college and to this day, one of my past coworkers still works there. He’s flamboyant and full of life and is your stereotypical gay man, if there is such a thing. He came to the table and said hello, discovered he knew me and we began our exchange. However, my friend just didn’t quite know what to do with a flamboyant gay man and it showed.

It all took place in a matter of a moment. 

I’m reading him, he’s reading her. She adjusts and forces a smile. He adjust and realizes her hesitancy and it hits me. She has probably forced a smile her whole life when she doesn’t know what else to and has not given herself permission to do otherwise and he’s learned overtime how to tell who’s comfortable in his presence and who isn’t and there I just sat in the middle, wanting to order a Coke. 

I tired from figuring out how to maneuver the pieces and stood up and gave him a hug.

 He didn’t let go. Nor did I. 

❤️

I drove by a graveyard later in the day and look at the tombstones jaunting out of the earth. I realize, one day, I will be there too, buried beneath the dirt with my own tombstone jaunting upward. Overtime, it will tilt and slightly crack and my engraved name will fade. It’s a quick thought, a hurried blur, but I wonder if I will have made an impact when that times comes.

I no longer want to take up space. 

I long to make room. 

❤️

There was more to my day that prompted me to pause. Pause helps me see. Pause helps me hear. It’s like hitting the rest button that drowns out the noise and it restores my heart with gratitude. The miniature horse that was led through the tractor store gave me a chuckle and reminded that laughter and nonsense are important. The sole white dove flying with a swarm of sparrows reminded me that we can all get along just fine despite our differences and the sun peeking through the rain-filled clouds reminded me that despite what I see, light is always there.

That good is.

❤️

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