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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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fear

About Last Night

When we’ve gone through something enough times and we get sick and tired of being “sick and tired“, we promise ourselves that next time, if faced with a similar and familiar situation, we will do better. We will make different choices. We will respond differently. We will do anything but be…sick and tired.

And I have been doing well. I’ve placed my feet upon the path of health *not happiness* and each day I’ve drawn a new breath and a had stronger step. But the other night, there I was. Face to face with a situation that was oddly similar and familiar.

Same story. Different day.

And through it, it brought up an immense amount of fear, an entire of ocean of it to be exact and I found myself drowning somewhere in the middle. No one likes to drown. I’m done drowning. It’s the sick and tired” I no longer want to subject myself to.

So, I swam. I swam far far away out of tide that was trying to pull me under. In reality, I literally hopped into my Jeep and didn’t look back and when I got home, I sat under the carport and cried.

And after things settled, and they always do, I was able to sit and listen to Truth and identify what was the similar and familiar that I could not quite put my finger on in the moment and call it by name.

Rejection.

Same story. Different day. Different person.

Here’s the things about rejection. It’s NOT a person though it is easy to attach a name with a face. It’s not one particular heartbreak. It’s a wound. A lie. An evil spirit from the pits of hell. It bides its time and patiently waits. It uses any hosts it can find without permission. People will show up in our lives as unsuspecting pawns in a game our emotional wounds try to play with us and unbeknownst to them, old situations arise in us that are similar and familiar and we are faced with the choice to sink or swim.

Or drive far far away.

The thing with rejection is that it feeds you the lie that you are not good enough which makes you feel small and insignificant. Flip the coin. Same story, different day…it can also feed you the lie that you are too much. Too much to handle. Too complicated or too messy. Heads or tails. It whispers one or the other.

Both lies place a heaviness in your heart that’s suffocating. A heaviness that makes you feel “bad” for being who you are, like if you could just mathematically fit into the equation, things would be different. But they are not different because here you are, finding yourself in a similar and familiar situation because you are feeling rejected and with rejection brings shame because if you had been more than or perhaps just a tad less….

And it’s your fault, so you apologize.

“I am sorry for being me.”

And that apology leaves your insides raw and achy because you know that you’ve stopped another layer of your identity away so you can be less or more of the person someone else wants you to be.

I wish I could go back in that moment the other night and know at that moments notice what I was dealing with but I didn’t. I just know what was taking place was hurting and I took that hurt personal. I made it about me. Things weren’t going the way I had hoped because there was something I was doing or perhaps not doing right. If I had been dot dot dot, things would be different.

Lies. Just lies.

Days later, here’s some things I’ve recognized:

1. There is no once and done. Learning, or rather, unlearning, is a life-long process. As Maya Angelou once said,

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

And each day after that, do your best until you know even better. And so on and so forth. It’s how this one wild life works. It’s not a race or a competition so go easy on others and yourself. I truly believe at the end of the day, we are all truly doing the best we can.

2.  Most likely what you are “sick and tired” of will chase you around your whole entire life unless you deal with it, and not once and done deal with it but continually and intentionally deal with it. You are not Jesus and are not the embodiment of perfection. Rejection has been my nemesis. My lie. My inner wound. Do I recognize it right away? Not always. Am I doing better with calling it by name and seeing it for what it is? Absolutely. Someday I’ll stand face to face before it and I won’t run. I won’t need a stone or a sling to knock it off kilter. I’ll just stand and rest in know that I am neither not enough or too much. I am who I am. I will just be.

3. I am not one to avoid confrontation. I am learning to say my thoughts and express my needs without being an asshole, to respond rather than react. I’m not necessarily afraid of that though I do not enjoy it. I don’t need someone to agree with me, in fact I question relationships that agree on everything because we are all different and unique with different and unique thoughts and experiences and yet we tend to show up to the table the same? Come on. I don’t buy it.

What scares me is that we out one another. We cross each other off our lists because we value being right more so than being in relationship with one another. So rather than be crossed off someone’s list, I’d rather run away or build a high wall to protect myself. I am afraid of is being vulnerable, of showing up and then being rejected for it.

These are thoughts that I’ve had since the other night. Knowing why you sink or swim or erect a high wall is important. Ask the question: What is going on inside of me? It’s revolutionary question because there is always an answer and that answer will help you do better next time.

4. Don’t take anything personally. My face-to-face situation that was oddly similar and familiar from the other day had nothing to do with me being not enough or too much even though my feelings told me so. The person in the situation was not trying to be malicious or harmful. How I felt actually had nothing to do with them either. Rejection is a blame-shifter. Since it won’t take responsibility for being an asshole, it tries to make everyone take the fall. We are all journeying along, reacting or responding to life and to one another. Keep your focus on where it needs to be.

5. I’d be remiss not to mention that I walked into the situation with high hopes. It’s enticing to go with the vision that pops into your head of how you think things are going to go and run with it. Needless to say, expectations, even seemingly good ones, can lead to being disappointed, which ultimately can lead a person with high hopes *like me* to feeling rejected.

6. Forgive and move on. I realize I still have healing to do which just embodies everything above I’ve previously mentioned. There is no once and done when it comes to healing a deep wound and forgetting it and calling it healed it doesn’t work. Forgiveness does. Do it with yourself and others and get on with it and when it come back up, which it will, do it again and again and move forward. If you don’t, it only reattaches the wound to you so you can drudge a heavy ball and chain through the mire and much creating more of a mess. Forgive and move on.

7. Jesus. ALL of Him in ALL of this. Always. The end.

Friends, my words of advice are to keep at it. Simple and sweet. Wherever you are at, keep going. Do the best you can with your one wild life. I think that’s the very best thing we can do with it.

 

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You Will Not Have My Hatred

I am not sure where I read about Antoine Leiris but his words “You will not have my hatred,” found a way into my heart and buried themselves deep.

“You will not have my hatred,” says Antoine Leiris in a FB post that addressed Islamic State terrorists behind the deadly strike in which 129 people were killed. On Friday November 13, 2015, Islamic State terrorists struck at multiple targets in Paris including the Bataclan theatre, the Stade de France football stadium and a pizzeria, gunning down people. Over 89 concert-goers were killed at the Bataclan theatre in the worst of the attacks. Mr Leiris’ wife was among them.

“Friday night you stole the life of an exceptional person, the love of my life, the mother of my son, but you won’t have my hatred. I don’t know who you are and I don’t want to know, you’re dead souls.

No I won’t make you this gift of hating you. You have it coming, but to respond to hatred with anger would be giving in to the same ignorance that made you what you are. You want me to be afraid, to look at my fellow citizens suspiciously, to sacrifice my freedom for security. You lose. The player still plays.

I saw her this morning. At last, after nights and days of waiting. She was as beautiful as when she left on Friday evening, as beautiful as when I fell head over heels in love with her more than 12 years ago. Of course I’m devastated with grief, I grant you this small victory, but it will be short-lived. I know she will be with us every day and that we will find each other in heaven with free souls which you will never have.

My son and I, we will be stronger than all the armies in the world. I cannot waste any more time on you as I must go back (to my son) who has woken from his sleep. He is 17 months old, he’ll eat his snack like any other day, then we will play like every other day and all his life this little boy will dare to be happy and free. Because No, you won’t have his hatred either.”

Let’s be honest, most of human kind will not experience an attack like this. You and I, in our regular lives will not find ourselves being the unlucky recipient of such terroristic acts against humanity. We most likely won’t find ourselves in theatre’s, football stadium’s or pizzerias. We most likely won’t find ourselves in high-rise buildings or airplanes. We may not even find ourselves in schools, churches or outdoor concert venues where mass shootings occur. Whatever our life, Whoever we are; White, Black, Christian, Muslim, Straight, Gay, Upper Class, Lower Class, Democrat or Republican…we may never be placed in a situation where we later write, “You will not have my hatred.”

Or will we?

Let’s take this down to our level, in fact, let me bring this down to mine.

I am a White, Middle-Class Soccer Mom.

I’m straight.

I’m a Christian.

I have no clue which political party I identify with.

I have a college degree. A full-time job. Married with kids.

I vacation every summer. Eat out when I want to. Attend Church when I can.

I have never been denied a job based off the fact that I am a White Female though I have been the recipient of the occasional cat call or random solicitation for “friendships” on FB from male strangers who think I am nothing but “pretty.”

I have never been laughed at our made fun of and have absolutely never been a target of  a hate crime based off the fact that I am any and all of the above.

I know no real persecution, except that which lies within me, and for the most part, have a cushy life.

And yet I sit at times and fester.

I give them my hatred.

Things have been stolen from me.

I have been suspicious and have sought refuge in feeling safe.

I have grieved.

I have done all these things and more and day after day, my hatred seethes and disguises itself…even from myself.

Because I know that hatred starts small. It starts with one moment and then builds to two and then five…five hundred small and inconspicuous moments where fear takes a hold and plants a root.

Hurt can become an offense.

Enough offenses and you give way for hatred, even towards ones self, to reign and rule.

Can we take gut-wrenching events, like the one that happened on November 13, 2015, and make something large-scale small?

Yes.

We have to.

I want to.

I cannot afford to allow my wounds to fester because loving large-scale means I need to love small-scale FIRST. With me. With you. If I miss it here, with the person staring back at me in the mirror or the one standing before me, I’ll miss it there.

And I simply do not want to miss a oppotunity to forgive, an opportunity to love where I know it can have the greatest impact.

You will not have my hatred.” 

These are the words of Antoine Leiris. They are mine.

Will they be yours?

 

 

the places I cannot afford to visit 

In my prior life, I was a sales representative  for a company that awarded its performance team with luxurious trips. I could sit here and name all the different countries I’ve traveled to and all the five-star resorts I’ve stayed at but I won’t. I will say this, they all have something in common:

On my own, they are not places I could afford to visit.

Fast forward to this life, not a lot has changed. I still travel but lately it’s been to military bases to see my kids and I rarely frequent airports and seldom hail cabs but one thing transfers from one life to the next and remains consistent and true: I still can’t afford to visit certain places.

Location is just about everything, ask any realtor. Location location location. Is it high traffic, high population…what is it’s draw that determines its value and worth? To each person, that answer may be different. What I am looking for may be different from what grabs your attention, that’s why it’s so important to ask yourself what’s important to you. If you don’t, you’ll end up somewhere that’s important to someone else and you’ll find yourself in a location that is miserable at best.

Ever been to the beach with someone who hates the sun and the sand? Miserable.

Our daughter called today from the Navy’s boot camp and it’s been over a month since I’ve seen her. As we all stood in the kitchen, gathered around my phone, I felt sadness taking up space within the room. I not only felt it within me, but I heard it in her voice. It’s Christmas. Her brother, who is a Marine, is Home for a short leave, and it’s her first Holiday Season away from us. The phone call was a happy one despite the underlying sadness but when the call was over, I turned to my husband and cried.

I felt sad for several hours afterwards and I realized my location wasn’t really the best. I was slipping, and my mood was beginning to match the weather…cold and dreary.

As a feeler, I often hole myself up in some shack, dodging bullets and trying to stay out of the enemy’s line of fire in the worst parts of town. I truly pick some of the worst locations to camp out in, within myself. These shacks have given me the illusion of safety even though the foundation was crumbly and I knew it. If safety’s my goal, I most certainly have found myself hiding out in some of the most unsafe locations.

My mind or my feelings left unchecked tend to wander and create scenarios that aren’t even accurate and I end up assuming the worst. I do not recommend this. AT ALL. It’s really not fair to you because it creates such heartache and agony and it most certainly is not fair to the other person. Want to talk judgement? Assume something, anything, about another and there you have it.

I’m recognizing the feeling I have are normal…it is more than ok to be sad. I AM allowed to miss my daughter. I AM allowed to be angry over situations. I AM allowed to not agree.

It’s when I choose to stay sad and angry. It’s when I choose to care more about being right than being in relationship that gets me into trouble.

Can I really afford to visit these locations?

No. The answer is vehemently no. I cannot afford to. Visiting leads to wanting to stay. There is comfort in old friends and sometimes, hanging around old friends leads to holding onto old habits…I have to choose the higher thought.

So yesterday, as much as I missed our daughter and as much as I FELT sad because she is not home, I chose to think of how proud I am of her. She recently passed all her physical fitness tests. She is strong in both mind and body. I focused on all the friends she’s making and how lucky they are becuase she is packed full of maturity and wisdom and loves havng new expereinces through people. I chose to think of any other thought except the sad ones and slowly but surely, my mood shifted.

I’ve been practicing this in every area of my life, not just with my children. I’ve been packing up my bags and (sometimes begrudgingly) putting my feet on another path even though my thoughts and feelings tell me it’s ok to stay in my shack because it’s justified. I recognize there are places within myself I want to go, but they are places…memories or thoughts, that elicit negative feelings and pretty much put me in a bad mood. I want to bring healing there. Why? Because I know Jesus does.

I absolutely believe He chooses the higher…

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” – Isaiah 55:8-9

I’ve often said that perspective is a superpower and it is. One of the greatest revelations of my life is: I can choose my thoughts and think things on purpose. What the hell? Did you know you are THAT powerful? In other words, I don’t have to just think about whatever falls into my mind. Just because I think it doesn’t mean it is true. This was a life-changing revelation for me because as Proverbs 23:7 says, As he [a man] thinks in his heart, so is he. SeriouslyWhere the mind goes, the man follows.

Friends, there ARE places you and I both cannot afford to visit. Quick jaunts here and there can be exciting and they can feel good and right but be careful about dwelling there too long, especially without proper perspective.

Merry Christmas! Choose to think the very best this Holiday Season of the people in your life. Choose to forgive and forget.

Choose to love…

You may not always want to but I think you’ll find if you don’t, you’ll find yourself in a place you ideally don’t want to be.

Set your minds and keep them set on what is above (the higher things… (Colossians 3:2 AMP).

 

let it happen 

We had two small dogs and one cat. Then we began raising puppies for The Seeing Eye and adopted the first one we raised back because she did not pass her testing. Then this cat got dropped off at our house and then and then and then…

Let me start over. We have three dogs and two cats PLUS we raise puppies for The Seeing Eye. This past weekend alone, meaning SUNDAY…we had several animal related incidents and when I say several, I mean way more than two, the worst being the Seeing Eye puppy was bit by a poisonous snake on a family hike. Long and short of it is, she’s going to recover despite the fact that her face is severely swollen due to the toxins from the bite plus she’s tired and a whole lot of sore but through it all, I’m keeping the main thing, the main thing….she’s alive.

So I crawled into bed late Sunday night grateful.

AND THEN…

Our four year-old lab, our adopted back wonder pet, crawled under our very large king-size bed in the middle of the night and made the most gut-wrenching of all sounds and I just didn’t have the energy or the can-do to wake up and hurriedly grab her, pull her out from the pits of hell, drag her heaving body down the steps and out the front door to glisten under the moon light.

So I let it happen.

And my husband says, “Aren’t you going to do something?”

No. No I am not.

So I went back to bed.

For those of you who don’t have animals, you are thanking God at this very moment for that decision. If you are not a pet lover, you may not get why us pet owners endure the things we do for our animals, but I liken the whole thing to having kids whom you love that wet the bed, throw up in the middle of the night or destroy freshly painted walls with crayons.

Pets and kids…sometimes there’s little difference between the two.

Point being, that massively large dog who army crawled under our bed in the middle of the night is an accurate portrait of what life looks like at times. It’s during these moments, I often find myself half asleep, trying to grab the dog out from underneath the bed by its hind legs, just hoping we make it out the door before a ginormous mess occurs. I step in and deal, adjust, fix, mend, plan.

I CONTROL.

And I just can’t anymore. I’m not that great at it anyway. In fact, I kind of suck.

I’ve become increasingly aware this past year through a series of events that I often step in too quickly with my actions and/or with my words because I am afraid. Afraid to let others be responsible for their own choices. Afraid to set limits that say “This is what I am and am not going to do.” Afraid the dog’s gut-wretching sound in the middle of the night means my carpet is going to be ruined, thereby destroying the look of the home. MY house. Do you hear what I’m saying? I am afraid how YOU and your stuff will affect ME.

REFLECT me.

Fear.

It’s lulled me to sleep.

And in my slumber, I’ve never fully allowed myself to BE who I was created to be so I can’t imagine extending you the honor.

Because living is messy. Pieces fall to the ground and clutter fills the floor with debris.

On my carpet. In my home.

And what if one day, on MY watch, you crawl under the bed and need help in the middle of the night…

Isn’t it my job to save you? To mend? To fix?

Will be enough if I just stand in it WITH you, responsible TO you and not FOR you?

Yes.

The other night my decline made space for my husband to get up and take care of the dog. In fact, I would have made space for ANYONE in the room if they were there. I didn’t have the expectation that he would get up and I wasn’t disappointed when he didn’t. I rested in knowing I was done for the day. If I were to become involved, it could wait.

I could. 

I felt empowered and free in that chaotic moment, in the bigger picture…in my life full of uncertainties late at night with that gut-wrenching sound happening beneath my bed. It is one of the craziest of all things but it grabbed my attention enough to wake me up. I made sense out of a whole lot of life in a moment and it was holy.

Friends, let it happen. Surely the sky will not fall on your head.

The Other Woman 

I dread the doctor’s office. I dread showing up on time and then sitting through the long wait. I dread the paper thin gown with the white strings in the back that inevitably rip off before I can tie them. I dread just about every last thing, but you do what you go to do.

So I showed up, I waited, I tied and I dreaded.

And inevitably accidentally eaves dropped on a conversation that was happening between two women that sat behind me…and when I say accidentally, you know what I mean. Ears are hard things to close.

The one was talking about a mutual friend and it was NOT pretty. “She this,” and “She that.” Had she known I was going to write about the whole thing, I am sure she would have changed her tune, but that’s ok because a helper was on the scene. She was sharing with one who I’ll just gloriously crown, “The Stand Upper.”

This other woman was amazing. It was like she paid the words of her friend no mind. She was rock solid, didn’t miss a beat and didn’t jaunt in defensively; to save or to fix, but rather meandered slowly but surely.

She was matter of fact.

She PRAISED the poor woman her friend was bashing till a wealth of treasure was bestowed upon the invisible woman’s feet. There was no face to the name, but I pictured her…

“Thats never been my experience of her. In fact, she is extremely dedicated and loyal. She has always been there for me when I needed her. She is incredibly encouraging. She has a full plate and manages the best she can.”

I sat there, wanting to turn around and shake her hand. I wanted her autograph, a picture, anything…and if I could be 100% honest, I was so incredibly attracted TO her in all the right ways. This other woman had something I wanted to possess; her ability to stand up and stay steady rather than being swayed and staying silent drew me in.

She was a needed breath of fresh air.

I sat in my seat waiting for my name to be called and thought about all the times I have been a giver and a taker. Since I can only assume that I’ve been the recipient of someone else’s side conversations, I’ll share about my first hand knowledge of how I have dished out my fair share of negativity towards others unbeknownst to them and have felt validated in doing so. Yes, I have played innocent.

I can honestly say, EVERY TIME, it’s a sure tell sign the issue is mine.

Jealousy*Comparison*Pride*Arrogance

Insecurity*Anger*Offense*Rejection

Which can pretty much be summed up in one word, right?

*FEAR*

So what are my issues then if I just sit back in my seat and refuse to stand up when someone begins to drudge another through the mud and the muck? Are the issues really that much different? I think not.

*FEAR*

I think the woman who stood up today was confident in WHO she was. She wasn’t afraid to disappoint and wasn’t out to people please. Fear of man was not a forethought and if it was, she was secure enough to push through the trembling and the best part was…she didn’t do it in a way that was ballsy or brash. She was loving and kind and steered the ship into a peaceful harbor. I appreciate accidentally eavesdropping…so very much.

It made me wonder what I would look or sound like if FEAR were not an option. If I removed THAT…WHO would I be? I want to be ME, but I want in large parts to be the other woman too.

Stand Uppers are one of a kind, in fact they are one in a million. They cannot be swayed by your opinions and are not afraid to go against the grain and form their own. They are tried and true friends.

Everyone doesn’t just NEED one, they need to BE one.

 

 

 

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