What’s the deal wanting to be some “new” person whenever the calendar ticks over to January 1?
I’m not perfect. Sooooo far from it. But people, if you aren’t somewhat happy with who you are, you need some therapy, not a set of resolutions.
Now granted, we can all use some improvements. But I’m a firm believer that if it’s the external that most concerns you, there is probably a lot of internal work that needs to happen first. And I’m not just saying that because (1) I’m a Psychology nerd and (2) it feeds my excuses to neither diet nor exercise.
I spent the whole of 2017 doing things for my MENTAL and SPIRITUAL health. And, I have to say, it was a resounding success.
I didn’t get in better physical shape. I lost some weight and gained it ALL back. I even went through a few months of VERY HEAVY depression.
But I read more.
I road tripped more.
I laughed more.
I gave in to what wasn’t and pursued what was and fell on my face and found moments to stand tall.
And I settled a bit further into my own skin.
My scarred, freckled, sensitive skin.
And you know what I discovered?
I like my skin.
I’ve drawn closer to some and more distanced from others as I’ve learned to be more loving toward myself.
I’ve put my foot down, firmly, in the face of manipulation and people trying to twist my words. I hold others accountable for what they say and do instead of constantly assuming it must be my fault.
I’ve learned to be okay with things that I know will never change.
Because some things are just not going to change. And I can exhaust myself trying to change others, or even change myself, but I’m learning that the key to contentment is not change, but release.
When I stop trying so damn hard, my heart becomes more malleable. I become better able to see where my attitude and mindset need to be adjusted, and stop forcing change upon myself that my brain and/or body are not ready to accept and simply let it happen. Organically. Supernaturally, even.
As the new year starts in earnest, I feel the pressure, like everyone else, to make personal improvements.
But instead of launching headlong into a list of things I want to do or resolve to do better, I’m just going to take my damn time.
There’s still 355 days to walk this particular journey.
Goals are great. Goals are important. But so is peace.
I will not create a more anxious mind by putting impossible goals on my horizon.
I will not strive for perfection. (Okay, I probably will, but this is kind if a personal pep talk, so lay off the judgment).
I will rest in the acceptance that I am loved, just as I am.
I will love others, just as they are.
So if I resolve anything, I just resolve those two things. Not to be *new*. But to be constant.
Especially toward myself.
Maya Angelou said that people will forget a lot things about us, but they will never forget how we made them feel.
So often, part of missing someone, whether they’ve passed away, or a relationship has ended, or there has been some type of distance, that is what is missed: how they made us feel.
And it can be hard to separate from missing the actual person. Because our feelings remain, long after the people who gave them to us are gone.
I think, oftentimes, there is a certain loss of innocence that goes along with each loss of a physical someone in our lives.
Because relationships have so many intangible things attached to them.
Things like hope.
And those kinds of things are often built from a very innocent foundation.
When that person is taken from us, in whatever way, it can be very easy to feel as though something has been stolen from us.
I attended a funeral yesterday, as is often the case, for someone I had never met. I was there for a friend. A show of support. Of love.
It seems to be a rare occurrence for there to be an actual eulogy given at funerals in this part of the country, at least that has been my experience. I have only attended a handful of funerals where someone close to the departed stood up and actually gave some insight into the person being memorialized.
But there was a eulogy yesterday.
And I left feeling like I had, in fact, known the man who was being remembered.
Because of how this man’s brother spoke of him. It was clear in his tone, in his words, the way that his brother had made him feel throughout his life. And that emotion carried throughout the church. And I could feel the love that was shared among this family.
We seem to forget just how much power we have, in terms of the people around us and how our words and actions affect them. I’m as guilty of it as anyone. Not being considerate enough.
I think one of the reasons people love the Christmas season so much is because of how it makes them feel.
The giving of gifts, the outpouring of generosity – these things are special not only because of tangible value, but because of what they mean. How they make us feel.
I always kind of laugh when I think back on some prior Christmases.
My daughter’s father and I married very, very young. 17 and 18. And, to be quite honest, it was a very tumultuous relationship. And I don’t have just a ton of good memories of our time together. But the ones I do, I cling to like life support. Just to remember that, in addition to our daughter, we did have some happiness. It wasn’t all for naught.
Our first Christmas as a married couple, we didn’t have a tree. We were so very broke. Had only been married for 3 months. Trying to prove ourselves.
I got sick. Had a bad case of the crud. I was working retail and I’m pretty sure I worked that Christmas Eve….
I didn’t get him anything that year, I don’t think. And I wasn’t expecting anything. He and I had both been working and hadn’t had time or money to get gifts. Our relationship was not one big of gift-giving anyway.
When I got up Christmas morning, there were gifts for me.
While I was sleeping, he had gone to the all night convenience store and gotten me cold medicine, cough drops, and some of my favorite candy.
It was, to this day, one of the most memorable gifts I have ever received.
Because of the unexpectedness of it. Because of the heart behind it.
I will tell anyone I meet just how little I get along with my ex. And even now, 13 years after our split, I deal with issues created from our relationship.
But there were times when he made me feel special. And loved. And even when, to this day, I want to literally choke him, I find myself, more and more, choosing to focus on the times I felt positively.
Because bad doesn’t always negate good.
Sometimes it does. Sometimes it has to.
But not always.
I wonder, as I often do after attending a funeral, how I will be remembered.
I think it’s clear, from the rise of social media, just how deeply we all hold the need for validation. Acceptance. Love. To be made to feel as though we’re special.
The most popular posts I’ve written here at a Pensieve View have usually involved my tributes to people I love.
I hope that my life is remembered because of how I made others feel. And that, when all is sifted away, how I made them feel was important.
The slogan has been around for as long as I can remember. But I don’t think I wondered, until this morning, how it came about.
I’ve been back to the track in the last couple of weeks. I didn’t do a single 5K this year. That is not acceptable. Not when it’s still my goal to run one. But I can’t do that unless I start by walking.
And that doesnt happen without a decision. “Just do it.”
Even though I’ve been prioritizing other things. Even though the time has changed and I have to rush to get in an outdoor workout before dark. Even though I could make 1,000 excuses.
I have to decide. I have to consciously tie up those laces and go.
Some things in life become so much a part of our lifestyle that we no longer really make conscious choices about them.
We call them “habits”.
But somewhere along the way, we decided. It may be so long ago, or we may have been so young that we don’t remember the deciding. But it happened.
And from those decisions, whatever we “Just do” is born.
I don’t know why it’s so easy to start bad habits and so hard to keep good ones. But I think the key word there is “easy”.
If something is easy, we generally don’t have to be told to do it. We just do.
And I’ve been thinking about how that translates into our everyday lives, beyond the walking track or 5K goals.
The hard things, the moments where we have to be motivated or told what to “Just do” are often some make or break times in our lives.
Learning how to “Just do” is a lifestyle.
Don’t wait for permission. Or until you “feel” like it. Because it won’t happen if you wait. And then you will be empty. Your heart and your spirit will be out of shape.
One of my problems, and the problems of other people with personalities similar to mine, is we simply think too damn much. We overanalyze in an attempt to understand.
Understanding is important, and it has it’s place. But it’s not always necessary. Sometimes, oftentimes, what is necessary, is to “Just do it.”
Look if you must, but don’t linger.
Allow the possibility of pain for the hope of love.
Decide on happiness, even when, especially when, it seems the most elusive.
Find something, some sliver of joy, and cling to it. And don’t be afraid to eliminate that and those from your life (and your newsfeed) that somehow temper your contentment.
Pursue your passion.
Write crap. Post it on the internets and let it be.
Paint and let it be.
Photograph and let it be. Play the music and let it be.
Make a quilt, or a big meal for your family and let it be.
Your passion doesn’t have to include perfection. In fact, it won’t. So embrace that, and just do it.
Love people, love yourself, recklessly. It will hurt like hell when they’re gone. And some of them may never love you back. Just do it.
Just do it.
Just do it.
Today is not just any, ordinary day. Which is why no simple Top 10 post would do this week.
My big sister has a birthday today. And not just any birthday – a milestone. The big 4 – 0.
So, instead of a Top 10 this week, I’m going to share 40 things about why I love my sister and love being a sister to her. 40 things about why my sister is awesome. 40 wishes for her. All of the above. Because 40 is special. And no simple list will do.
40. No one knows me better
I’ve known her longer than anyone else, besides our parents. She’s never not been in my life. Of all the people that know me, she has had a front row seat, and I have with her.
This results in a bond like no other.
39. No b.s.
Because we know each other so well, there is no pretense to our relationship. We don’t have to be polite for the sake of being polite. We can just let out anything that the outside world might find……unacceptable. I have discovered that I can say a lot of things to my sister that I couldn’t admit to anyone else. It’s very liberating.
I love that we are both moms. Both married. Naturally, we experience a lot of the same emotions. But we have more in common than just our parents and the fact that we are both domestics.
We struggle with some of the same issues. We deal with many of the same frustrations. We both know how important it is to just be able to have someone to complain with.
37. She has dimples.
My sister has a killer smile. And she has the most perfect dimples.
I only know a handful of people who actually have them. There’s something about dimples that make it almost impossible not to smile when you see them on the face of someone with a smile like hers.
36. Inside jokes
I could say something as simple as “monkey ass” and she would immediately get it.
35. Brutal honesty
Except when we each need to hear how wonderful we are. And it’s okay. We know we aren’t perfect. But sometimes you just need somebody to gloss over your imperfections and focus on your best features and traits.
We have been so many places, experienced so many things. It’s like having spent a whole lifetime with someone before your actual life really begins.
33. She has twins
No matter what, my sister carried and birthed a set of twins. That makes her infinitely better than me and more of a woman. There. I said it. You can stop rubbing it in my face.
32. She was born first
But they saved the best for last. 😜
Most of the people I know are creatures of habit and routine. To some extent, so am I. But there’s something to be said for totally breaking away from that on occasion.
My sister is the only person I know that I could text at midnight (because it’s quite likely she’d be awake) and propose a drive to the Huddle House, a trip to Wal-Mart for no reason, or to the coast to watch the sun rise and she’d say, “Okay!”. Or “Go to bed.” Because there’s always that brutal honesty. Even in spontaneous idea proposals.
30. Cat lover
She is the epitome of “crazy cat lady”. That is all.
29. Care giver
She has 3 kids and a husband with C.F.. Care-giving is her way of life. And I respect her, tremendously.
I don’t think that my sister thinks she’s better than anyone else. She’s never acted like she was and she’ll be quick to point it out.
27. Don’t mess with her
But she’s also quick to halt you if you’re being a crappy person or aggravating her!
26. She appreciates the absurd
At least a couple of times a week I will get a meme or a gif or a video that solidifies our mutual amusement at the ridiculous.
25. She’s nostalgic
I think I’ve always been the sappier one. But she’s got a nostalgic streak in her as well. Probably more than she’s willing to admit. And only she would appreciate some of the same things that I do. That’s priceless.
24. She’s fearless.
She’d say otherwise, but she’s faced a lot in her life. Stared down some scary stuff. I appreciate the part of her that owns the uncertain and takes it one day at a time
23. She FINALLY eats tomatoes
Not like I do, but, ya know, baby steps.
22. She’s affectionate
We’re an affectionate family. And her hugs have been there for me when I was falling apart. There are no words to describe what that means to me.
21. We are so different.
Like night and day, sometimes. But how boring would it be if we were alike in every way?
20. She is private.
While I live my life with my heart on my sleeve most days, she internalizes a lot. Sometimes I wish I could do that.
19. She has my back.
No fiercer defender can I call on when I need a warrior.
18. She’s pretty.
Not just dimples. Beautiful blue eyes. Soft skin. Great hair. She and I are both curvier than we used to be, but we own it. We embrace the bodies that life and children have given us. And that makes us stunning. And if you don’t think so, you can kiss our cellulite.
Sometimes, when we’re at our parents’ house, we’ll take a walk. Just the two of us. Just to talk. I treasure those walks.
She was there when I graduated. There when I lost my election. When my daughter was born. When we lost people we loved. I can’t imagine not having her by my side in some of the most significant moments of my life.
15. She knows the crazy
Only my sister can appreciate the deep vein of insanity that runs in our family. She’s one of the safest people I can talk to about it.
14. She cries with me.
Sometimes……sometimes that’s all you need. Someone to feel your pain with you. And give a damn enough to show it.
13. She has a strong faith.
She’s not showy about it. Doesn’t use it to make other people feel inferior. She just trusts and leans on God and her belief is sincere and steadfast.
12. She has a tender heart.
Babies. Animals. Older people. She has a soft spot for the vulnerable. I think that’s one of the things I love about her the most.
11. She’d do anything for me.
I know it.
10. I wish her joy today.
The kind of joy that nothing can diminish.
9. I wish her good health.
Energy, light-heartedness, and physical contentment.
8. I wish her prosperity.
That all of her plans would be blessed and succeed.
7. I wish her peace.
When things don’t go as planned. When uncertainty abounds.
6. I wish her freedom.
Freedom from anything that holds her spirit down.
5. I wish her security.
That she would know, beyond any doubt, just how special and loved she is by so many.
4. I wish her hope.
That she’d never give up on her dreams.
3. I wish her strength.
To continue fighting the battles she has. To be the best wife and mom she can be. These are the hardest jobs in the world.
2. I wish her wisdom.
For every crossroad, every decision, large or small.
1. I wish her love.
That through these words she would see just how special and unique she is, and how lost I’d be without her as my sister. My forever friend.
I cannot bring myself to a place of lighthearted, easy writing. Not today. Not this week.
The hatred I’ve seen, not just as it has been reported by news outlets, but within my own circles of contacts, has been nearly unthinkable.
I say “nearly”, because I have spent the last 24 years in the south. It’s where I was born. Where I was mostly raised. I’ve witnessed the attitudes of white supremacy from an early and impressionable age.
This week, I was reminded that these attitudes not only cause division in our country, but in families. Even my own.
It’s beyond “sad” as the President likes to say. It’s tragic.
And, as usual, I don’t have the answers.
Maybe the removal of confederate monuments would mark the beginning of something positive. Maybe it would cause more violence. But one thing is absolutely certain: hate, in its most raw and organic state, is alive and well.
I’ve read a lot of opinions this week. Many I agreed with. Many I didn’t. But there is no neat and tidy way to deal with the painful issues that divide.
So much of the problem seems to be the inclination of people to stop looking at human beings as human beings, and simply assign them a label. Group them together. And hate them.
Because that’s the easy thing to do. It’s much easier to stand up against a “movement” than to take each conflict as a personal opportunity to listen to individuals and their point of view.
By “grouping”, we don’t have to take any kind of personal responsibility for trying to understand. And by joining a “group” ourselves, we don’t have to necessarily justify our positions on these matters. We can hide behind the group. And let them bear the brunt of the conflict.
But it takes one individual to another, giving and receiving information in a clear, non-hostile way, before common ground can be reached.
At the root of hate, by anyone, there is always the refusal to listen. To open ourselves to the vulnerability of their opinions and criticisms. We fear much. And that, perhaps, is the root of hate itself: fear.
Fear that history will be lost? For some, yes. Fear that our country cannot truly be united unless monuments to the past are removed from public places? For some, yes. Fear that our opinions and ideologies are wrong? Many times. Why else would people be so defensive?
One of the arguments I witnessed personally this week was between brothers. One was trying to show a Christian perspective. One of Love. And humility. And peace. And he was confronted with hatred.
My defense mechanisms went into overdrive. They always do when people behave like bigots.
These are the divisions that the news doesn’t report. The ones that create a divide in families. Between friends.
They go deeper than just ideology. They go to our very roots. And when one person starts examining their roots and pointing to the problems in the soil, there are always those who are so deeply clinging to what they choose to believe, a resolution seems impossible.
I have seen what happens when hate drives people. And I have witnessed discrimination and unequal treatment of people because of who they are, who they cannot help but be.
And many times, I have said nothing. Because nothing I could say would change anything. Not because I couldn’t say something with relevance or truth to it. The simple fact is this: people who choose to believe something, whether it’s true or not, are usually resistant to anything that implies there’s another way to look at something, or someone. And some are resistant to the point of hatred for anyone or anything that dares to challenge them.
Violence should not be tolerated. And you cannot reason with the unreasonable. You can’t fix stupid. But you can educate the ignorant.
I cannot solve the world’s problems. So for many of us who are privileged enough, the answer is often to do nothing. Say nothing. Don’t rock the boat. Don’t stir the pot. Don’t invite that controversy to your doorstep.
I know many activists. While I am passionate, and I think collective efforts can reap benefits, I am also a huge proponent of personal responsibility.
I believe in taking ownership of one’s own thoughts and actions and trying to propel them towards good.
Because I think, if there IS an answer to some of the madness, it’s to be found there. In each individual. One at a time.
But that takes work.
I am, and most people are, impatient. We want immediate results. We want immediate satisfaction. And long standing problems do not have those kinds of answers.
In order to make our voices heard, we first have to make sure we know our facts. Not just b.s. we’ve been spoon fed by the media, or by politicians, or by bloggers, or by preachers, or by our parents, our friends. We have to be able to discern. Understand. See the problem as a whole. See it from someone else’s perspective besides the one we’ve held all of our lives.
Secondly, we have to continue in that quest for truth, and never be certain that we’ve figured it all out. It requires constant examination of our own belief systems, consciences, and motivations. It’s exhausting.
I, for one, am usually so tired from doing this that I don’t have time to point many fingers.
But most of all, I think, our personal responsibility means that we live our truth, and not just speak it.
We all fall short and fail and miss the mark. Nobody is perfect. But are you the kind of person, do you live your life in such a way, does your attitude reflect the light of a person who speaks from the heart? Who can think for themselves? Who has studied and observed and really looked at the WHOLE issue, and not just the part that pisses you off?
This is so hard. I struggle with it daily. I want to scream about the injustices I see. I want to call out people for hate all while displaying my own version of it, because MINE is justified. Right?
While the temptation is often to look outside and point at someone else, blame another, the only way to really begin a healing process in a family, in a church, in a country, is to stop looking outside. And turn our gaze inward. Stop calling out, and reaching in. Deal with what’s inside ourselves.
And maybe if more people did that, we’d truly begin to eradicate the monster. Starting with the one inside us all.
Definition of enemy
1: one that is antagonistic to another; especially : one seeking to injure, overthrow, or confound an opponent
2: something harmful or deadly ‘alcohol was his greatest enemy’
3a : a military adversary
b : a hostile unit or force
Jesus was once asked, “Who is my neighbor?”
I wonder what he would say if he was asked, today, “Who is my enemy?”
Would it be those who wish to do harm to others?
If that is true, am I the enemy?
Would it be those who disagree, hatefully and carelessly with others, politically and religiously?
If that is true, am I the enemy?
Would it be those who spread messages of hate, division, segregation, discrimination?
If that is true, am I the enemy?
Much has been said in the last few years about landing on the wrong side of history.
Whether it’s concerning the rights of the LGBTQ community. The rights of women. The rights of immigrants. The rights of races.
We all make conscious and unconscious decisions, every day, about where our loyalties begin and end.
More and more, I see where apathy and indifference, silence……these are simply not options anymore. Maybe once upon a time, but if you have children, if you have a conscience, if you have a heart, for God’s sake, these are not options.
Yes, it is exhausting. Mentally and emotionally, to take stands for what is right and good.
Yes, it can be disconcerting. Because you might have to make those stands alone.
And that, that is the point.
Because first, one has to come to terms with the enemy within. And most people, myself included, don’t take the time to do that. To examine our own hearts.
That “hostile unit or force” can often be our very selves. That “something harmful or deadly” can be the very attitudes of our minds, hearts, and actions (or lack thereof).
I try to refrain from too much political subject matter here on this blog. And it’s not because I lack passion, but because I lack the emotional and mental fortitude to withstand a constant discussion about such things with people who have no interest in examining what I have actually said, but only want to argue.
I have to be careful. Not because of them. But because of myself.
Because argue? Well, I’m a seasoned pro. I come from a long line of people who are right, opinionated, verbose, and unwilling to NOT have the last word.
And there is no victory in that kind of engagement. I’ve seen it. Because people are so unwilling to see themselves as the potential bad guy.
This is where my politics and religion settle: in which scenario am I the enemy? In which scenario are my behavior, actions, and attitudes unbecoming to one who claims to be a follower of Love Personified?
And more often than not, I fail. I am sensitive and passionate, which makes for a very difficult inner dialogue, especially when confronted with dissent. By those I care about. By those I know to be hateful people. By even strangers.
So the only thing I know to do for now, and regularly, is examine my own heart. Look for the enemy within. And engage it first. Because that enemy is the deadliest one of all.
Beware of no man more than of yourself; we carry our worst enemies within us.
Men (and women) fall from grace every day. Every hour. Every minute. The flesh is weak.
Ask anyone I know and they’ll tell you that I don’t give a hoot about college football. SEC or any other conference. There is MSU memorabilia scattered throughout my house, but it’s my husband’s, not mine.
I claim no allegiance. To a school. To a coach. To a player. I’m just an observer of the entire scene that surrounds college athletics and its superfans.
And here’s what I observe:
The coaches and players of the SEC take on an almost rock star status among those that love the conference and their team with passion and fervor. And I might be about to commit southern heresy here, but I’m going to say it anyway:
It’s just a game. They’re just men. All of them. Coaches. Players. They are all fallible human beings with struggles and corruptable hearts. Just like you. Just like me. Just like everyone else on planet Earth.
I’ve seen good men (and women) fall. It’s not pretty. If we’ve built them up in our minds at all, it can be an uncomfortable, painful thing to witness.
First, we think about how much they’ve disappointed us. Hurt other people. We call them selfish, hypocrites. We cast our stones either publicly or privately, in the recesses of our own hearts and minds.
I hurt for Coach Freeze’s family. Their pain and humiliation is on a public stage that isn’t fair for them to have to navigate. But I’ll tell you someone else that I hurt for: the man himself.
I have experienced my own shame. Disappointed others that I love more than life. Rejected all that I knew and believed about a God that I tried to serve for something that satisfied my own selfish desires. And there is no excuse for it. But the flesh is weak.
I don’t hurt for the legions of Ole Miss fans. Not because I wish them ill, but because the world of football is so ridiculously minute compared to what is happening to this man and his family.
I’ve seen people talk about how much this coach was paid. All of his accomplishments during his time with the University. And it’s true. The man seemingly had everything going for him. He spoke publicly and willingly about his Christian faith. And I’m going to choose to believe that he was sincere about it. Not because of his words, but because from what I know about his actions outside the public eye. He does his best to live his faith. But the flesh is weak.
Truthfully, it’s on those mountaintops of life when we might actually be more susceptible to falling from grace. Because it seems, there, that nothing can touch us.
I wonder, as I often do, what was going on with the man and his family, behind the scenes. What drove him to his deceit. There is much that we will never know. And rightly so, because it’s none of our business.
Granted, I’m sure I’d probably have stronger feelings if he was coaching my son. But these are not children. These are young men. Impressionable still? Of course. But better for them to see that even our heroes make mistakes than for them to spend a lifetime pursuing perfection that doesn’t exist. In any of us. For any of us. There might be a better lesson in this whole situation that could teach these players more than anything their coach could have taught them on the field.
The pain we inflict upon ourselves and others with the choices we make leaves a mark, yes. Scars will be left on Coach Freeze’s heart and the hearts of his wife and children forever. He failed them. He failed himself. And I cannot help but feel deep compassion for them all.
But if he is willing, if his family is willing, redemption can be found.
Maybe not in the public eye, but if that’s all they care about, then it will never come anyway.
Personal redemption is what I speak of. A chance for pain and grieving to be turned into something strong and beautiful.
Nothing about it will be easy. It will require consistent and steady applications of grace, forgiveness, and the understanding that, yes, no matter who you are, the flesh is weak.
I have no envy of the road the Freeze family is walking. Its curves and potholes and detours are familiar to me.
I don’t know the man or his family. But I know pain. One of the great equalizers in this life. And love Ole Miss or hate Ole Miss, college allegiance doesn’t matter.
What matters in the response. The response of the Coach, owning and accepting his mistakes. The response of his family, letting it mold and perfect their faith in one way or another. And our response, it matters too. Maybe not to this family, but our response to others when they fall matters infinitely, to their hearts and our own.
If you call yourself a Christian, our first duty is that of love. Whether it’s a public figure you admire and respect or someone in your personal life. The response should be the same. Love.
People disappoint us every day. Can we extend grace? The flesh, after all, is weak. Isn’t it much easier to cast our stones?
Good men (and women) fall from grace every day. It’s our job, our responsibility as Christians, to help them back up. Remind them of the endless grace that is free and abundant to all.
True, it’s easier said than done. I know this. But our own integrity as Christians who claim to believe in Love, grace, forgiveness, and the power of redemption demands it of us. Even when, especially when, it’s hard.
After all, you never know when you might need these things too. And my guess is, you, as I, need them every day.
I’ve always been one of those people that, for some reason, others instinctively turn to and open up about some of their deepest, most heartbreaking wounds. It’s a trust I don’t take lightly. But it can be heavy.
I think, as human beings, all of us long to be able to share some of our darkness with someone. But most of the time we don’t. Usually out of fear. A lack of trust.
The fears are well-founded a lot of times. There are those vultures among us that seem to thrive on pain, chaos, drama. The ones who love to “know things” – have something against you.
While I am as authentic as I can be most of the time, or try to be, there are things that only a handful of people know about me. My past. My present. Some things will stay between me and God, forever.
And we all have things like that. Some have more than others.
My point is, in a world filled with images, the ones we try to present to the world and convince it (and sometimes ourselves) they are true, there is always something behind the eyes.
We’re often so wrapped up in ourselves that we don’t see what’s right in front of us. But more often than that, we simply choose not to look.
All God’s children got to deal with their own, right?
Compassion. Love. These are choices. If we wait to express them only when we feel them, we are destined to live a very shallow life. And I think we all know how I feel about shallow living.
The thing is, it doesn’t take a monumental amount of effort to show people we care. It can feel to us like it does, but most of us just get out of practice. And good habits are harder to start than bad ones.
I know people that are living with chronic illness, mental and/or physical. People who are caretakers, and fighting like hell to just keep their heads above water. Marriages that are struggling. Families that are divided. People who are lonely…..so lonely. Minds and hearts that are tormented behind a painted-on smile.
Do you see those things? Do you notice? Do you care?
It is so true that we have no idea, most of the time, what battles people are facing. Many people just don’t share those details. Not publicly. But they might, with one other person, if they had a person. Someone who wouldn’t judge or offer clichés.
We can’t be all things to all people. This is a struggle that I deal with all the time. I want to help. To be that friend. To provide that comfort.
But I am only one person. And I have my own battles too.
My husband accuses me of psychoanalyzing everything. He’s right. I do. I seem hardwired to question, try to understand the inner workings of people’s actions, words, and motivations.
I can get caught up in that. So I try, very simply, to just remember that every one of us is a complex creature. With fears, scars, a past that has contributed to our nature. Genetic dispositions that some of us fight like hell to overcome.
It makes me thankful for grace. And it makes me fight against all my own natural tendencies to judge, or become exasperated with people and how they can be, and extend that grace to others.
We all have closed doors somewhere in our lives, our hearts. We may not always know what lies behind some of those in the people we know. But we know something is there.
Love is a story.
Happy beginnings. Sometimes, happy endings.
Plot twists. Protagonists. Antagonists. Supporting roles.
Love scenes. Fight scenes. Laughter. Tears.
Love is pushing through. Giving in. Giving up.
Knowing when to hold on. When to let go.
Opportunities. Taking chances. Putting everything on the line. Abandoning reason, logic, and self, for hope. Love isn’t always blind, but faith has no choice.
Blazing hot flames. Dying embers.
Passionate kisses. Friendly hugs.
Angry words. Tender moments.
Sometimes each of these occupies an entire season. Sometimes, a single, passing day is a story all its own, a mixture of heartbreak and hope.
Sometimes, beyond the valleys, there are breathtaking mountaintops.
Sometimes, the valleys are long, deep, endless.
The valleys are the proving ground.
There will be growth. It will divide or it will strengthen.
Love is risk. A gamble of the heart. And each time the cards are held closer to the chest.
It’s complicated. It’s easy.
It pursues us. Entraps us.
But it frees us.
The reflection we see of ourselves in love is who we are, underneath the masks we wear so well.
Vulnerable. Exposed. Desperate.
And yet we long to see that reflection. To know someone else, and be known in our most raw state of existence. And to be called worthy.