Friendship


I didn’t plan on writing today, but then I read this powerful article. Here is an excerpt:

Evil seeks to use men’s addictions to power and shame to continue to exploit women’s bodies and silence their voices. Evil loves to use harm only to perpetuate more harm. And I think that our greatest weapon against such evil is to help men tell their stories with courage and boldness, with grace and truth, but mostly with strength and tenderness.

We must bless what has been cursed. A story well told is always a story that honors the desire to be seen, known, and loved.

How can I stay silent after reading something that resonates so deeply within me?? I’ve witnessed that evil on arrogant display within nearly every single man I love and cherish. I am desperate to help all people share their stories. It’s only in the Light that the ominous shadows are shown in their powerless state.

 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

– John 1:5

For weeks, months, years, I’ve been captivated by this verse:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

– 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

I am doubly struck. On one hand, I am personally empowered to reach out to others and share the comfort I have received from Christ and others. On the other hand, I am reminded that comfort cannot be obtained or shared, without first experiencing the healing power of comfort, grace, mercy and forgiveness.

The article above is a gateway into experiencing that healing power. The first step is to name the problem, name the source. Call it out for what it is, and then share it as a light for those wandering aimlessly through the dark. Bless the curse.

My last blog entry was founded on a single word in a song. This entry came to me after watching a video posted on Facebook.

A stray dog was found, angry and alone. Skin squeezing through her rib cage, and dangerously close to strangling her heart. She was vicious, neglected, and starved. Starved from physical sustenance and starved from comfort, care, concern, and love. She was wretched. She was deplorable. She was me.

As it does whenever I see pain and anguish, my heart broke when I saw this video. But I could not watch it without personifying the dog. As strange as it sounds, I saw myself in her frightened gaze, snarled lip, and snapping teeth. I was immediately taken back to my teenage years. When I lived as a victim, fought with anyone that came close, and – in order to engage in rage – I chased down people trying to avoid me. I perfected the construction of the wall around me and had no idea how to respond to attempts at people trying to share grace and love with me. I couldn’t recognize pure attempts at love when there had been so many years spent with people taking advantage of me. The years I spent being victimized – and neglected of comfort, care, concern, and love – had turned me frightened, angry, and alone.

The absence of care, concern, and love does peculiar things to the living. Think about its effects on animals, on humans, even on plants.

What does life look like though when love remedies the hate? What happens to a life where acceptance is fully known and unconditional love is fully experienced and understood?

I have only ever been able to reciprocate love once I fully accept pure and unconditional Love.

Transformation demands acceptance.

I saw my own transformation within the transformation of this dog.

This dog had to accept love from her rescuer in order to be fed and shown a better way to live. She started eating, she gained weight, she played, and shared love and joy. My life change happened once I accepted pure, unconditional, and holy Love.

Only when I’ve accepted the Love of Jesus have I been able to share that with my husband, my children, my family and friends. The Love of Jesus doesn’t demand anything from me beyond acceptance. It doesn’t require I perform or jump hurdles. It happened with my life change in 1996. It happened again in 1997, when I could look my uncle in the face and tell him I forgave him for what he did to me when I was eight. It happened again when I chose to marry my best friend, and once again when I had our son, our daughter, and our youngest daughter. It happened yet again in 2009, when despair took over and I had to finally come to terms with all that was done to me and all that I had done to myself and others. Finally, and most profoundly and influentially, my marriage was healed and restored once my husband and I both accepted that we were loved UNCONDITIONALLY. It was only in that realization and acceptance that we are able to love each other and stay true to our vow of marriage.

Time and time again, the love I’ve shared with others has only been made possible by the Love I’ve accepted from the Creator Himself.

In what ways have you been transformed by Love? And how are you transforming others by that same Love?

 

 

Sometimes my titles take flight and land before the content has a chance to conceptualize. This entry is one such example. I heard a song by Wild Rivers and learned a new word today: fallow.

fallow

nounusually cultivated land that is allowed to lie idle during the growing season

Hope springs eternal in the human breast;
Man never is but always to be blest:
The soul, uneasy and confin’d from home,
Rests and expatiates in a life to come.

– Alexander Pope

There is hope. Light always shines in the darkness. When I say I believe in God, that I follow Jesus, it means there is a Well of abundance — an overflow — of grace and mercy from which I glean. From this Well, there is also forgiveness that the world will never understand as well as kindness and joy that causes others to scoff and share about in gossip hell or to look on me with pathetic / patronizing eyes, as if I’ve been afflicted with The Naiveté.

Three months / ten appointments later, the marital counselor’s therapy is truly taking shape into something beautiful and powerful. I’ve been given glimpses into a marriage and life that Disney could never dream, one that I would never have been able to fathom over a decade ago.

Still, there is struggle. Sometimes it’s ten steps back after three steps forward. Confusion and anger, hot-blooded and cursing, as the selfishness, pride and conditional love bursts forth. Yet… there is perseverance. Endurance. Hope. Love.

Amongst the truth, hope can fly. Amongst the grace, love endures.

To God be the Glory.

Empathy is a good thing. Empathy is necessary. There’s not enough of empathy in this world. The fighting in the world would probably cease to exist if everyone had empathy. Right?

Well, I have a problem controlling my empathy. Yes, this is a bad problem.

I’ve never known empathy to ever be a problem. As a matter of fact, the world has too much apathy and indignation and self-righteousness. Not enough people care. There’s not enough grace and love and valuing of human life.

Empathy comes very easy to me and I know that that is a miracle in and of itself. In middle and high school, I used to just rage and fight, as I was living from a central force of anger. Now, I find it a little too easy to cry when others are sad and I feel physical joy for others when there is great news. Love and compassion seem effortless as I am drawn to those that are broken-hearted and hurting. I ache for suffering and want desperately to change it and change the way it stomps out humanity. I know that all of the love and joy and empathy that I have is from God and that if left to my own depravity, I would choose to be self-involved and not care about the suffering of people, especially strangers. This empathy-prone nature sounds like such a good thing but I’ve recently learned that I have a problem guarding it.

Like anything meant for good, empathy can also be used as a tool to bring about discord. I had no idea this was happening in my own life until this week.

I’ve done a LOT of soul searching and reforming and relinquishing (to God) in the past few years. This has been the longest and deepest stretch of emotional and spiritual growth that has ever taken place in my life. This change has been painful and rough but it’s been necessary and breath-taking and glorious. For some reason, though, I couldn’t shake the fact that there was still some very deep-rooted issues going on in my life and I was struggling to find the cause. There are countless times that I will walk away from a conversation and feel like the worst person in the world. Feeling as though I just let someone gossip my ear off and talk trash about someone and I never took the high road or shined any light into the conversation. There are times when I’ll walk away from the conversation angry and upset at the person being spoken about even though they never caused me any harm. There has also been times where I’d also share my own negative feelings about (and insecurities with) people so that the conversation isn’t awkward and heavily-sided and uncomfortable. It never fails that as soon as I walk away, I feel horrible. It doesn’t happen with every conversation and I don’t feel this empathy kicking into overdrive every single time someone mentions negativity toward or about another. However, for the times that I would find myself in this situation, I’d feel like a heartless hypocrite. In my core, I know that’s a lie because I don’t know another earthly being that is more in love with humanity than I am. I have forgiven people for trauma they’ve brought on me and resumed friendships (time and time again) despite the fact that they spread gossip and lies about me. I don’t just love the loveable, I love the unloveable as well.

This isn’t a pat-myself-on-the-back blog entry. I’m admitting the fact that I’m not feeling 100% loving and full of grace all of the time and trying to figure out why it seems to tie so closely to when I’m around others. I know that the love I have can’t come from anywhere other than God. I also know that the anger I feel toward someone, after a chat with someone else, is something that I am doing wrong and something that I need to change. This is all to explain that I’ve had some fierce battles going on and I’m learning their point of entry.

Feeling the same anger and hurt that other people feel, without ever having been hurt by the person being talked about, is showing me that I’ve let my empathy get out of control. Now that I know where this dichotomy of feeling loving but not responding so loving (even though I felt that my empathizing was loving) is coming from, I know where to bring about damage control.

With God’s help, I now know that I have to start working on guarding my empathy and using it ONLY for good.

There’s been a stirring in me for quite some time. A restlessness unable to be transcribed. A rerooting of sorts. A split-second glimpse of part of the finished puzzle comprised of pieces of my life, finally fitting together after years of rolling them around in my hands.

I’ve become unsettled and it is good.

Attending the We Event for iEmpathize a few weeks ago, a dam burst within me… I know I have this immense empathy for people. I know I have a deep-rooted passion. I know I want to make a difference in the lives of others. I know that I want my past to stand for something good, for God, and not as it was intended by man. I know that without a college degree I am significantly limited with my ability to have a “legitimate” voice.

I also know that my motivations have always been wrong. I’ve wanted to change the world and that proposed change was unknowingly limited or viewed from a skewed perspective. I have always led from a place of pain. Focusing and leading others from the pain of my past, instead of from the endless strength of God. I told God where I’d be used and how I would be able to do so. I told God what difference I would make and in what way the people’s lives would change. I was ignorant and clueless. Living off of remnants of my disillusioned upbringing and trying to share that same disillusionment with others.

In the past year, combined with my continued focus on my past and dealing with it, I also read a significant book, Generous Justice. It kind of washed clean the mud and grit that had been distorting my view in the way I interact and view humanity as a whole. This entire process took me far beyond seeing that, when suffering and broken, human beings had a cap on their value and that it was up to me to help get them through this temporary struggle of life so that they could just eat or just get water or just ______. Just to keep them alive… Then I’d move on to others.

What happens after they receive that next meal or that clean water or those shoes or that jacket? What then? What if the cap, that we put on these lives, was infinite? What if the limits of their existence and worth went far beyond the temporary comforts that I (we) may bring? What if I took part (by God’s grace and help) in helping them truly live and love and find joy and beauty in every day and then empowering them to share that all with everyone around them?

Here’s where I stand in my unsettlement: I want to take people from being a victim (which places the power in the perpetrator) and from being just a survivor (which places the power, and keeps it, within the person that was harmed) to being a warrior of love and empowerment. I feel God steering me to lead women out of the pain of their past (and present) into DOING for good. For God.

Jase and I were talking through all of this and he had a great realization. In cases of sexual abuse, the fallout is usually to clam up / brush it under the rug / detach OR the result is to crumble / completely shred the life that was given you. But I want to know where the freaking warriors are. I want to find the women that can link arms with me and become a front-line toward helping those in need and giving them hope that they can rise up and succeed and make a difference in this world. I want to stand on the shit from my past and make it a strong foundation for doing good in Jesus’ name.

I am also tired of being on this island. With all of the women I’ve know in my life (and keeping the stat of *1 out of every 3 or 4 have been sexually abuse* at the forefront) I’ve only known a few to have been sexually abused. Or only a few have ever shared that with me. That is ridiculous to me.. that this kind of travesty can be so drenched in silence. In this silence, we give so much power and authority to those that have abused and they can continue doing so, while we stand idly / apathetically on the side lines.

So, here I am, ready to be a warrior. To fight. To stop listening to the enemy in his quest to smother me and grind me to a pulp. To stand up against the lies that I am nothing, that I am worthless and to start believing and focusing on God’s Truth. I want to make a difference. I want to serve and to lead and to learn and grow and water and shine. I want to stop hiding in fear and I want to share this light. Part of this recent unsettling is that I want to (finally) learn spanish, fluently, and that I want to (finally) take a mechanic class. I “see” myself opening an auto repair shop. For women, by women. I want to overcome my fear of other countries and lead women toward changing lives around them. I want to start by making a big change in the immediate “world” around me.

My prayer is that this will help at least one person and that person may not be you… so look away, hide me, delete me, or ignore me if this makes you feel uncomfortable.

I was raised in San Diego. My family (immediate and generational) had some very strong convictions with the Baptist and Evangelical demonations denominations. I am a christian and this is a story about how I’m trying to live my life the exact opposite of my christian upbringing.

As a mom, a wife, a sister, a daughter, and a friend that follows Jesus, I have committed my life to these promises. I will share words like sex and drugs to my children and I will teach them to love Rock and Roll. I refuse to brush problems under the rug and I refuse to let time run its course over heart-wrenching trauma; making the wounds deeper and bandaid-covered gashes infected and seemingly irreparable. I won’t allow secrets to fester in the darkness. I will demand honesty and not be hypocritical with honoring that honesty. I will encourage myself and my children to dance, especially when the beat makes people think we’re going to hell. I will foster, and deeply grow, relationships with people. Not because of what I will gain or “what heaven will gain” but because I love all people as they were made in the image of Christ. I will show love and grace just as I’ve been shown grace and love. I will allow people to choose whatever path they desire and not write them off as a lost cause for choosing the “incorrect” path. I will NEVER shoot the wounded or maim the broken, nor will I spread their stories in the sharing of “prayer requests.” I will forever help people out of their shitty pits of manure, whether they placed themselves there or not. I will never give up in trying to find ways in helping the broken and the needy, even when I’m not enough to fix it all, because *fixing it all* is not my job anyway. I will give people grace, no matter how many chances I’ve given them in the past. I refuse to place myself on any higher ground or pedestal in my living and thinking, especially when it comes to my thoughts on God, Jesus and my relationship in and through that. I will never condemn or chastise. I will never hold a picket sign in condemnation of another soul or against a person’s actions. Unless it’s found in the bible, I will never claim I know how or what God is feeling or deciding. In everything and in all of who I am, I will mirror the Jesus I admire and follow. I will graciously love and help, heal and fight for, walk and share meals with the lost, the broken, the needy, widows and orphans, the abused, the down-trodden, people on the fringe, outcasts and the “losers.” Because when it comes down to it, we’re all in the same boat anyway. And if I can forgive a molesting uncle and rapists because of the forgiveness given to me, then there HAS to be hope for me and everyone else…

Published on: Sep 2, 2011

I’ve been on a blog-surfing kick lately. Partly to do with researching all I can on the clinical side about Asperger’s Syndrome as well as reading stuff from parents of children with Asperger’s. But I’ve also been popping around on sites of Mommy + Motivational-Speaker sites. I need as much encouragement in my life and these sites are chock-full of inspiration and courage and encouragement. Reading the stories these women share make it really easy for me to kick my life into high gear and start making a better difference in my life and the life of my family and friends.

There’s a flip-side to that though… the more surfing around I’ve done, the more I’ve realized that all of these women (as in, ALL) have a core group of women friends. A core group of women that hang out together, cry together, laugh together, dream together, dread together, fear together and create together. They relate in good times and bad and spur each other on to greater things. These women also have AT LEAST one woman in their life, or an inspiration from afar, that spark them on to go for their dreams and goals and seek out courage.

It kind of hit me again this week… I have no friends or mentors like this. I never have and it makes me wonder if that’s a major part of the reason why I feel in such a rut so often. I’ve got some horrible shit from my past, combined with the fact that I really have no support. No one to really look up to and no one around to really help me back up to my feet. For my whole life, I’ve watched friendships bloom and grow around me and pass me by. I’ve got friends now that I feel are great and I feel like we’re all on the edge of taking these friendships to the place of *3o years down the road*. But there always seems to be something in the way. Everyone has always already had a super close friend or two and I’m always the third wheel or these friends of mine are so popular that they barely have time to share any substantial amount together.

I’ve always longed for the type of friends where we can go away on vacation together or if I had an emergency at 2am, they’d be the first I’d call.

Looking at my life and comparing it to those friendships I’ve been reading about online, makes me wonder… is it merely the fact that they’ve got a mentor or someone to look up to and friends to help prop them up that makes them successful and happy and courageous and positive and prosperous?

I know I’ve got God… but sometimes consistency in tangible smiles and tears “helps the medicine go down.”

Besides my life path change in 1996, 2010 was the most defining year of my life. I’ve learned so much about myself in the last year, things that I never would have believed were true. I learned that I’m judgmental. I learned that I am codependent. I learned that I cared more about trying to control the way people view me, rather than how I was treating my husband and my children. I learned that I cared much more deeply about the opinions of strangers and acquaintances than I did those that truly love me. I painfully learned that there are people that will judge me and dislike me, no matter how much I try to win their praise and adoration. I learned that I don’t need anyone’s praise or adoration. I learned that volunteering, at least at this point in time, in the children’s ministry and youth ministry caused me to be much too distant from my own flesh and blood. I’ve learned that what I do, does not define who I am. I learned that there are lots of people that I considered a friend that actively try to avoid / ignore me, rather than speak truth into my life. I’ve learned that I’m ok without their friendship, without their approval, without their false smile. I’ve learned that I’ve lived most of my life envying the accomplishments of many people. I learned that I froze in that envy, preventing me from pursuing my own dreams and changing my life for the better. I’ve learned that I can find value in my life without feeling like people “need” me. I’ve learned to (finally / really) start taking care of my mental and physical well-being and to keep it consistent.

I’m learning to be more like the moon. Reflecting the sun, rather than trying to be the sun.

It’s a long and difficult road, but I’m also learning how to keep my heart and mind clean because I want it to make a difference in the lives of those that I care about the most.

“First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.” Matthew 23:26

Confidence is a tricky thing. If you have too much, you’re arrogant and annoying and if you don’t have enough, you’re self-deprecating and annoying. The line in-between is thin and tough to find but I think I’m beginning to recognize it. I’ve wanted to swing as far away from arrogance, as possible, but it has left me constantly beating myself up and never being “good enough.” My *lip service* has always been that I’m good, just as I am, and people should be happy with that. I should be happy with that. But my counter-actions and feelings were a LOT stronger than those words. In everything I do; as a mom, a wife, a friend, a mentor, a daughter, a sister, and a singer, it’s never been good enough for me. Conversations could have improved, time spent with a teenager or my children or my husband could have been increased, singing a certain part could have been different and better, my house could look nicer. I was never happy with my end results. The more self-deprecating I was, the more withdrawn I became and the more off-key (vocally/emotionally/spiritually) I was. In everything I did and with everything I was, I was discontent and it’s a very depressing state of mind.

In the last several weeks, though, I’ve realized that this state of mind existed because I was placing my worth on my own unrealistic expectations. By doing that, I wasn’t allowing God to just *be* in/with/through me.

It’s a tough path to stay on but I’ve got a bounce back in my step and my shoulders are settling back a little more firmly and my head is lifting a lot higher. I’m feeling a new and strange sense of confidence that I’ve never had before and it’s exhilarating. I’m learning to tell the difference between confidence and arrogance and it’s such a freeing place to be. I’m learning how to give everything my all and then give it over to God and not dwell on it. No matter the outcome.

I’m not naive but I have a feeling that the episodes of beating myself up will slowly disappear, because I’ve already seen and felt a difference in the last few weeks.

So, there it is, I’m a change in progress and I’m gonna try and stop being so pathetic. 🙂

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