Search

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

Tag

questions

The Intentional Pause

I’ve been thinking a lot the last few days about motives, about mine, and had been saving talking things through with my counselor today at my appointment, but as counseling appointments go, she found other topics we needed to discuss.

**If you don’t have someone that you pay to see past your bullshit, I highly recommend you find one**

Anyway.

I recognize a lot of my motives have been rooted in fear. Fear of loss. Fear of failure. Fear of making the same mistake another zillion times. That fear has twisted my motives for WHY I do and say what I do into a jumbled ball of knots. What was once so incredibly simple has become utterly complex. Especially when it has come to other people.

Self-protection has been a strong motivator and I have allowed it to strip away at my desire and ability to be vulnerable because experience has taught me that people make bad choices and hurt one another. Protecting myself has seemed like the only viable option because pain and has demotivated me in stepping into new relationships or even maintaining existing ones.

And though we did not talk about my motives today, we talked about the complexity of how I’ve been feeling. The simultaneous process of both healing and hurting at the same time. It made me realize that fear isn’t such a bad thing. There is a reason it is there. It has a purpose. What I need to remember is that it is ok on one hand to be afraid just as it is ok on the other to be courageous.

It is ok to heal.

And it is ok to hurt.

Both at the same time.

So today I’m choosing to replace fear as my motivator with awareness. I’m aware that I’m both healing and hurting and out of that, I just need to remember to ask myself WHY am I doing or saying what I am and WHERE is it it coming from.

I heard a talk on the radio the other day about kids who act out for attention. It made sense until the speaker said that seeking attention is not WHY kids act out. Attention is not what unruly children crave…connection is.

And we are no different.

Connection is a legitimate motive, at least it is for me. Sometimes my actions speak otherwise, especially when I hole myself up in a thin and flimsy shell and tuck myself far, far out of reach, but it doesn’t negate what’s truth: I ultimately crave it. Though many days I feel like a kid acting out and seeking attention, I know it’s because I’m afraid and have equated fear as a negative. Today I remembered that’s its ok to be right where I’m at so hopefully tomorrow, I will intentionally pause and ask myself if I’m going to allow fear of being hurt keep me from something or someone needed and good.

I pray the answer is no.

Advertisements

My Fakest Life

“I feel like I’m living my fakest life.”

These are the words I spoke out loud seven days ago to my husband and now here today, I have a 1:00 PM appointment with a lawyer.

“It’s just an appointment,” I say but I know it is more than. It’s the start of me even though some would say it’s the end.

I say it’s the start. Some say the end. Who am I going to believe?

I choose me.

I’ve been a people pleaser all my life. All of it. Every single day I wake up and for the most part, I aim to please. My decisions are largely based off of what you would think and if you’ve given me your opinion, I most likely pay heed. Can I keep peace? Can I make you happy and maintain status quo and do all the needed and expected things?

Seriously, I can’t. Not one single day more.

Twenty-three years ago I found myself as a single mother with a wedding dress. I discovered I was pregnant in October, was to be married in June after I graduated from college but by Thanksgiving, my fiancé was gone and I was living in the spare bedroom of my parents farmhouse dejected and confused.

And without realizing it, my guild-ridden self began looking for a father for my daughter. A good man.

And I found one.

But here we are, almost twenty-one years later and are at an impasse. I can and will no longer beg or plead for communication and since it has been recommended that I do not publicly share these very private parts of my life that involve other people, I will speak for me, OF me.

Because NOT speaking about this very large part of my life is deafening, almost drowning and it does me no good to pretend this is not happening. I will not live a fake life.

I know WHO I am and one of my nonnegotiable’s is communication. I need it in order to work through anything and if I cannot talk about the things I need to work through, I don’t see movement and I am no longer willing to remain at cross roads wondering which way to go.

So despite not feeling great about it, I will take a step. I will continue to remain open but I am not willing to sacrifice my non-negotiable. I’ve secretly battled within myself for months and openly hoped things would change and go in another direction but they haven’t. I’ve battled if it’s wrong or if it’s right because as one who loves Jesus, taking these steps are incredibly complicated and conflicting. I have seen what NOT communicating has done over time and I refuse to repeat the negative and unhealthy patterns for the safe of maintaining a nice home and the semblance of a family.

My children deserve a better example.

I’d like to say I do but there’s a large part of me that says, “No. Lay your life down for your friends. Sacrifice” but friends, if you only knew where we’ve been and where we’ve dangerously been heading…

I just can’t.

So I won’t just write about the happy things. I won’t just share the good times. That has never been me and trying to people please in order to maintain status quo, even the incredibly watchful yet silent people in my life…no thanks.

No thanks at all.

Maybe

“Is there anything you want to talk about?” 

“No.”

And with that I go to bed.

OK.”

My daily communication attempts trying to delve past talk of kids and business fail. It is glaringly obvious, it is our only common ground. I long for deep and healing here in this place, this vast ocean that looks consuming and my continued asking feels like nagging and drudgery.

Maybe he is right. Maybe there is nothing more to talk about. Maybe this is as good as it gets. And with that, I walk up the stairs and step into the bath, delving below the surface of my life.

The water has become a drug to me. The heat is calming and soothing and numbs out my raw and achy parts.

I’m basing the whole of who I am and my happiness on this marriage. I forgave quickly. I thought I’d never mention our latest snag again. I immediately became a busy little bee who opened up her heart wide. I thought I’d work and he’d work and we would meet somewhere in the middle and this could potentially be THAT happy ending. The ending we all hope for and dream is possible and maybe for some it is, but it takes more than one to dream, maybe more than that to hope.

A mustard seed…and I had it.

But there needs to be communication and not just for a day. Not just for two. We need to cultivate intimacy and by default, I’ve been crowned conversation initiator and my initiator is tired and worn out.

I no longer volunteer as tribute.

My brain tells me all sorts of good and needed truths and I know I am full and overflowing with knowledge of WHO I am but my heart tells me another story. My heart tells me I don’t feel valued or loved, that I’m sitting around waiting for scraps and someone else’s left overs. My heart tells me if I was more important things would change and go another direction. My heart tells me a lot of things…

And if I stay here, stuck in a place that continually perpetuates these lies, that is exactly where I’ll stay.

An orphan.

Actions or lack thereof speak pretty loudly.

I’ve got to get myself healthy, for indeed I am sick. I hear the voice of my counselor in my head, “Your heart is broken. You need to heal,” and I know he is right. It is broken and I need to give it time and trying to help someone else mend who perhaps isn’t quite ready is not helping…me. I am pouring way more into this then he is and I’m beginning to feel the strain of my expenditures. I just don’t have it in me to ask one more time, “Is there anything you want to talk about?”

Because essentially my tired refusal comes from a deep and hidden heart cry, “Would someone please pour into me first. I am empty. I no longer want to fix.”

And under the covering of the hot water that fills the tub, it becomes obvious.

The last time I turned someone over to the Lord with such resolve, my oldest son was six years old and was about to be airlifted to Hershey Medical Center for a skid loader accident. I remember standing over him as he was screaming, a mother whose heart was torn between what she could and couldn’t do, realizing, “There is nothing here I can. My very best works won’t help. But Jesus, if you exist, if you are alive and real, I believe you can help. He is yours.”

So I say it again, just the same.

“He is yours.”

I refuse to settle for anything less than what I know is possible.

The Question We Don’t Ask

It’s one word seldom asked. It is a sentence all in itself but rarely spoken.

WHY?

Good question.

Why have we stopped asking the good and needed question?

Singular.

I think if you find yourself asking this one questions, you may not need to ask another.

Here’s why…

Opinions are much like assholes, everyone indeed has one. Now before you (the reader) potentially take offense to my language, ask yourself if that phrase is true. I bet all the money that I don’t have you say it is.

You may have thoughts on my language choice. You may even have thoughts all together on me if you are lucky enough to know me beyond anything I ever write or share publicly or personally with you. And it may sound like a great thing to sit me down and say, “Hey. This is what I think about what you are doing or how you are living or thi is how I think you are feeling.”

It’s not.

If you start there…before you start here with my heart…you will miss out and most likely, if I am not in the best of places…

Shut me down.

I know I am not the only one.

WHY? 

Because I have done this TO others. I have interjected my thoughts and opinions FIRST and the ramifications have been deadly.

And there is no influence when the doors are closed.

Here is what I am discovering from experience and much introspection:

When this happens, my heart often feels judged before I have even had a chance to share it WITH you. And I do not know about you, but if you want me to share my heart with you AFTER THE FACT…

Godspeed.

WHY am I sharing any of this?

Because it just may be one of the very most important things I have ever realized about hearts and communication, therefore relationship building.

Asking questions is a great conversation starter. It shows you are trying to understand and your digging shows me you are actually interested IN me instead of just giving your opinion or asserting your potential need to be right. It also may even help me dig myself. Maybe your question is one I have not even thought to ask. WHO KNEW!

I say this to you.

I say this to me.

WHY?

Because relationships are pretty damn important. So are our hearts. There is nothing an open heart cannot do. It can accomplish anything it sets its mind to. So rather than pelting each other with our opinions or worse, our assumptions and judgements, of one another, how about if we start with a question.

WHY?

If we say we care and if we mean well deep down in our hearts, it’s as good a place an any to begin.

And end.

fester 

I can feel it flowing through my veins. Toxins are trying to poison my soul. There are things that have not been talked about recently and I take the lack of initiation on any part, other than mine, poorly. 

The long and the short is this: I want to stop reaching becuase I want to be reached INTO and my “ I wont if you wont” attitude is seemingly costing me a great deal. Anger is festering. Communication has been waining and open to interpretation, which becomes a free-for-all for assumptions, which I know better than to make. 

I appears we are not on the same page and that feeling adds extra weight to my gut. I don’t know how we’ll ever move forward because at the end of the day, weeks later, here we are. Same ole. Same ole. Time and space have crept in and the hot water has slowly turned to not so hot at all. Nothing has really changed. Nothing has really been talked about and as much as I sit, telling myself, “Just focus on yourself. YOU keep moving forward,” there is this undeniable reality that I’m not the only one here.

We both are. 

So I go back to “Who am I?” 

I AM a communicator.

“If that is WHO you are, march yourself downstairs and communicate.”

Sometimes I really loathe the voice of reason and wisdom within myself.

And I do. I bound down the steps and plop myself in my chair and as much as I don’t think it is my turn or duty (which often feels like an obligatory noose) to continue to reach forward, I do. I initiate. I communicate.

“I think we need to talk.”

And there is agreement from both sides in this statement.

Not much is solved but we both walk away and doors are left opened.

I have a picture in my head of taking the doors of my heart off its hinges. I see myself throwing them into the flames along with our very dead Christmas tree that lays on the ground outside our house…watching it disintegrate into nothingness.

I don’t think my heart was created to find refuge in doors.

 

 

 

Making Sense Out of Christmas 

I woke up early this morning and said good-bye to our son. His ninety-six hour leave would come to an end in a few hours and he has to report back for three days before he could venture home again. I hug him and his girlfriend tight and tell them to be safe and that I love them, all the things I’m growing accustomed to saying when we part ways and moments later I crawl back to bed. I don’t have any trouble falling asleep and I wonder if I had truly woken up because sleep comes quickly and the minutes spent saying good-bye now feels like a dream.

I wake up for real several hours later and take the dogs out. The thought of heading to the barn crosses my mind but the thought of hot coffee nags and wins. I resolve to feed my miniature pig Rosie the next time I’m out and walk through the front door. My brain scans the living room that houses an incredibly dead Christmas tree and I begin plotting out my day.

It’s time to make sense out of Christmas.

Needles lace the floor and I almost cannot see the carpet. I’m not really sure what happened because I never missed a beat and was faithful in watering but I apparently missed something somewhere because evidence points to the obvious. It is dead. The tree has got to go…today.

The dog quickly finds a candy cane and then shortly after, a forgotten toy, and I feel as if I never stopped raising toddlers and somewhere between the living room and the coffee pot, I remind myself to go slow and smile because smiling is important.

I get to work.

I start in the kitchen and eventually meander my way back to the living room; sorting, unpackaging…trying to find a place for everything that was recently brought into this home. “Christmas is more than this,” I remind myself. It is more than the gifting and the eating and the cleaning.

But today it feels just like that and I am done.

An hour later, my husband comes into the house and tells me he went out to feed the chickens and found Rosie. She had died sometime between when I fed her yesterday morning and today. At first I have no words. I really don’t even know what to say about a pig I wasn’t supposed to love.

But did.

I think of our barn and how it’s housed calves, chickens, 4-H pigs and now little Rosie. I think of the smell, the cobwebs, the mice and the dirt and I wonder if moving Rosie from our home to the barn a few years was a good move. Did we cut her life short in the transfer? My brain scrambles to make sense and it can’t. Was she old in miniature pigs years? Was I feeding her enough? She was social and here I stuck her in the barn, no longer having room for her in my house. I don’t have answers so I shake my head and resolve to let those thoughts go. It will do no good to sort that out because there is no sorting. My little pig is dead.

The most random of all pictures comes to my head; a feeding trough. It’s one of the dirtiest and foulest things in a barn if not kept clean and I instantly think of how Jesus was laid in one at His birth. I don’t know why I think of this at the same time I think of that little pig, laying cold on the barn floor but I do.

I think of the packages that fill my home and the needles from my dead tree that fill the floor and the list of all the things I want to get done and thoughts of my son still flutter through my head. I look around the kitchen at my husband and kids. They sit, both quiet and compassionate, waiting for me to respond terribly with tears, but I don’t. It would be awkward to cry over a little pig and I do awkward enough. 

This is what I tell myself.

I think in my trying to make sense out of Christmas, I was trying to package Christmas up so I could move forward and get back to life as normal. I wanted to move forward from the gifts. Move forward from the floor laced with needles. Move forward from the busy and the chaos and the goodbyes.

And here all along, Jesus was reaching into me from the barn, reminding me there is no normal to move on to. He was trying to show me what Christmas really is: Love comes in unexpected ways and in unexpected forms. Jesus, the baby in the manager who I now call my closest friend, reminds me to open my heart wide; unbiased and unrestricted. Hours later I give myself permission to cry, even if just for a little and I wonder if the Innkeeper had known who Jesus was if he would have given him more than just the barn, more than just a feeding trough, more than…

So I choose today to not put Christmas away. I choose to stay focused on my family as I walk around the clutter as needles cling to my feet. I choose to allow my heart to relentlessly love who and what it loves, to be surprised when the unexpected stranger knocks on its door and to embrace the unsuspecting.

One thing we should never have to do is apologize for our hearts.

 

The Day After 

I wake up and am filled with a heaviness that has settled deep within my gut. I feel as if I just gave my hand full of aces away. I had the winning card but instead said, “Here. You need some help? Take mine.

I don’t like this feeling. I want to reject this thought but I believe it is telling me to have another conversation.

Make sure you are very clear with your heart.”

Crystal.

There’s this thing that happens in our marriage called the “smooth over.” It’s what I call the times when instead of getting to work, someone tries to smooth things over and usually I feel that person is not me.

Hint.

I’m the talker. I will talk things to death. Talking makes me feel safe. Things happen if there is enough talking. I am also a fixer and when action plans are put in place, I feel smothered in the protection of steps.

The heaviness makes me wonder if I just used forgiveness to smooth things over. Was the pain so great that I decided to no longer bear it? Maybe if I mouthed those magic words “I forgive you. I choose to forgive you,” it would alleviate the tight grip I felt around my neck.

Part of me feels that maybe I did. Another quick fix? I hope not.

Maybe this raw and achy feeling is there to teach me how to be mindful and watchful moving forward. Will he do what he said? I’m afraid he won’t and I don’t want to keep track or score. The entirety of my life I feel as if I have continuously held a clip board in my hand, marking things off with my little ball point pen as I go. Past experience has shown me that it’s easy to say all the right things in the moment when emotions are high and situations higher, but past experience has also shown me we both have a tendency to get lackadaisical in our commitments for various reasons and to various degrees.

Will he show up? Hell. Will I?

I decide not to remind him one more time of what he said. He is not a child. I decide he said it, I have to choose to trust it. To trust him. To extend trust even though I don’t feel he has earned or deserved it. After all, isn’t that what Jesus does for me? Doesn’t He hand me the keys to the Kingdom on a daily basis all while cheering me on through the gates despite my past performance?

Sometimes I don’t even know. Everything seems upside down.

I decide I need to rest and place my hope in ME. I hear my friend Jen’s voice in my head encouraging me to do so and I decide I wanted to forgive because forgiveness is a huge part of WHO I am and not because I was looking for a ticket out. This isn’t just about my marriage or our latest snag. I decide that I AM going to glean everything possible from this journey. That I AM going to make changes. IN ME. That I know it is more than just a we issue, I HAVE A PART. 

So I crawl out of bed and head to the coffee pot and this time forgo the rum. That was yesterday and I no longer want it. The heavy feeling follows me around all day long and I don’t say a word about it and I don’t ask to be reassured that changes are coming. I do however show up with my open heart and love in every way I know I was born to love knowing that change is already here because I am.

 

Ask The Question

Recently I asked someone a question because I wanted to better understand what was happening in a situation *READ: in our relationship* with them, or more so, what wasn’t, and for the last few days, I have been mulling over their response.

TRYING TO UNDERSTAND IT. 

TRYING TO UNDERSTAND THEM. 

What I have been trying to do is apply their answer, their way of thinking and being and living TO ME. I’ve picked their response up in my hands and dropped it into a compartment in my brain that has been longing for an answer. I’ve attempted to absorb their words into my heart so I could begin to grasp the void that has taken place and in doing so, I’ve become increasingly unsettled.

There has been no reward for my sincere diligence in trying best to understand.

Not Fair.

So yesterday, in the midst of doing everyday random things, Jesus whispered, “Your question is a very good question, but you asked it to the wrong person.” I stopped. In my spirit I knew what He was talking about and soon my conscious mind knew as well.

Asking THEM the question was good. Seeking to understand is not wrong, in fact, communication is a good goal in any relationship, but I needed to start with ME. So the rest of the afternoon, I talked with Jesus about what a particular situation in my life looked like TO JESUS.

TO ME. 

I think it was the best starting point to move forward and to keep connection alone.

If you have a sense of wonder IN you, ask the question. Do not be afraid, like I was that day several weeks again, to come across eager or excited, scared or confused. Just ask the questions that need to be asked so you can better understand.

B-U-T…ask the question first to YOURSELF before you ask it to someone else. Often we (I) want to understand others ideas or their perspective before we’re willing to grapple with our own. I know if I would have asked myself, “What does this look like to ME” and then gave myself permission to be fully honest, I would have most likely rested in my identity and then asked the other person, “What does this look like to YOU?” so we could have moved forward further.

TOGETHER. 

But here we are, in my opinion, stuck. Each with a different idea of how things are to flow. We could have both went forward on the same page, at least in the same book, walking towards a common goal instead of things being left in a state of confusion where expectations take root and people fall short.

Disappointment.

And I have been filled with it. I realize now, it could have been better avoided if I would have just had the guts to ask the questions I really wanted to ask from the get go.

Don’t make assumptions. Find the courage to ask questions to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. – Don Miguel Ruiz

So friends, before you seek to understand someone else and why they do what they do and think like they think, make the time to better understand yourself first. Ask yourself the questions, even the hard ones. I really do believe you can rest a lot easier, be more peace-filled, EVEN JOYFILLED, when YOU know that YOU know…

for YOU.

It turns out my idea of this situation is similar in parts but completely differently then the person I first asked the question to AND THAT IS OK. We all have these pictures in our head of what something looks like. Our lives are all shaped very differently so to say “I am right and you are wrong” serves no purpose. What does serve purpose is the asking, “What does this look like to me?”

This. 👆🏻

You were not created to grace this planet walking around in someone else’s shoes, making your life look like theirs with their thoughts as your own. You were uniquely created so go ahead and ask others the questions in order to better know and understand them. Trying to understand their WHY’S and WHAT’S is good and will help foster intimacy and connection.

Just remember to start with yourself first.

Ask the question.

 

 

 

Longing

Thanksgiving hits every year and I begin. I purge. I think it started years ago when the reality of Christmas continually hit me. One child, two child, three child, five. Christmas and all its stuff overwhelmed me so every year, every Thanksgiving Day weekend, I begin.

The back of my Jeep has been full of boxes and bags and I have a room in my home that continually collects the stuff I’d rather not have but just haven’t figured out what to do with, stuff that is easily discarded because I JUST WANT IT OUT. So this year I asked myself WHY?

WHY can I so easily toss out those shirts and shoes, those plates and cups?

WHY can my kids so easily discard what was once a favorite toy?

For me it comes down to one thing and one thing alone.

I NEVER really wanted it.

It is easy to discard what never really held any value. Maybe a thought pops in my head of the money that I spent but at the end of the day, meh. I really can do without it because it never really added anything TO me. In fact, I am learning the more stuff I have in my life that I never really wanted, the more the well within me deepens to collect even more. It’s like some ravenous pit, never fulfilling or fully satisfying.

I wish when I was younger someone would have sat me down and asked, “What is it that you really want?” Perhaps they did and I was rebellious and stubborn and their questioning made me more determined to go after what I thought I SHOULD instead of honing in on what I wanted. Perhaps I never even knew that was a question that could be asked. “What do you mean, “What is it that you really want? I want the same things as you. To be happy, healthy. To have a great job maybe some kids, find true love…blah blah blah.””

I had no idea HOW to dig deeper to find out what I wanted in life. I did not know how to sit with myself and discover what was really IN me and because I never took the time. I was like some butterfly fluttering along, filling my life with things (and at times people) that I could easily discard. Instead of waiting for what and who I REALLY wanted, I took what was available. What was quick. What was easy.

AND I KNEW IT.

Frustration is a friend when you know you are settling. Anger, bitter resentment… constant companions. When you know that you hold in your hands something you’d really rather not have or you’re stepping into doing something that you know is really not for you, it strips a part of YOU away. It dulls your senses a bit each time you say YES when you should have said NO or NOT NOW because you know it’s not where you are to BE and if you’re not careful, you can go from one thing to the next searching.

One job to the next. One church to the next. One relationship to the next…

Tired and worn.

As a mother of five, I have encouraged my children to WAIT. WAIT for the ONE because the last thing I want for them is to give away their time, their feelings or their bodies to someone who does not see their value and identity and will not commit to them relationaly. I don’t want them giving pieces of themselves away flippantly to anyone and everyone. WHY? Because I know. I know the cost attached to doing so and it is steep. I want my children to VALUE WHO THEY ARE, so I encourage waiting.

As an adult, I am NO different.

I am finding that whenever there is a lack within myself, I quickly try to fix it by adding something or someone to my life. I bring in another outfit. I volunteer with another organization. I find another friendship. None of these things are wrong or bad. Clothes are needed as naked people have little to no influence in society…I am sure you get my point.

Things, doings and relationships can be used to fulfill deeper longings within us if we are not careful. Places where God Himself wants to reside. Places where He wants to takes us deeper. Places where HE want to fulfill.

In order to know what it is that we WANT, we first have to know WHO we are.

If there is anything I have discovered over the last two-years, it is this: Take the time, MAKE the time, to discover WHO you are. What is on the inside of YOU? What are you passionate about and WHY? Why do you do the things that you do? Why do you respond the way that you do? I could go on and on…the point is, ask yourself questions that go far beyond the “What you want to do when you grow up?” Try instead, “WHO do you want to be?” When you take time to ask yourself questions that you never knew to ask yourself because you were just too busy living everyone else’s version of you, you will begin to HONE IN and embody YOUR identity. You will gravitate towards HAVING things DOING things that support and encourage your real identity to shine bright. You will be drawn to the right people…YOUR people.

So friends, take the time. Ask yourself the hard questions. Don’t sell yourself short and fill your life with things that really never had value TO YOU and don’t VALUE YOU. Emptiness will overwhelm you, it is a mere distraction. Stay focused and intentional on what is on the inside of you; your goals and your dreams. What is on your heart? Steps are necessary but those steps should always line up with what is already on the inside of you. Don’t waste any more time going after what it is not…

Discover what it is you are truly longing for. It will tak you back to WHO you are.

Much Love-

August

 

Round Table Discussion:

Look at the stuff in your house, your weekly calendar and where/who you spend your time with.

Now ask yourself the hard questions. You’ll know the ones…

 

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑