Blogtember: It’s Not You…It’s Me…

itsme

Today’s challenge was to write about a time I “screwed” up.  As I sat thinking through the times that I have made mistakes, I was drawing a blank.  Not because I have never made mistakes, I have made plenty.  Like cheating in high school,  lying to my parents, breaking things, and etching my name into my mothers favorite end table.  Running in the church parking lot, and climbing on things I wasn’t supposed to, which resulted in several concussions and a few dozen stitches.  Riding my bike to a store I had been told I was not allowed to go to.  Never finishing my school work on time, and the numerous times I down right challenged my mother to spank me.  Which thankfully she did.

These would all count as “mistakes”, times I’ve “screwed up.”   However, as I have always promised myself I want my tale relating to mean something to my reader, and conveying the above stories in detail don’t seem relevant.  Unless for some reason 10 year olds are reading my blog.  Which if they are I’m flattered.

But in the effort to be real, and to say something relevant my mind fell upon a time in high school when my best friend wanted to be more than “just friends.”  I knew that although he said things wouldn’t be different in our friendship, they would be.   I just didn’t want to admit that at the time, because this was before I knew that I had a problem saying, “no.”

So somewhere in between my freshman and sophomore year in high school we made the move from “friends” to “more than friends.”  I admit that about 8 weeks into this new level of “friendship” I knew we should be just friends.  I KNEW IT.  But I screwed up.  I dragged out that relationship for almost 7 months.  Because I couldn’t bare to “hurt him.”  When you’re 15 you don’t realize that sometimes you have to hurt someone in order to not hurt them more later.

I finally got up the nerve to end it with said friend. I also felt like “it’s not you, it’s me” was a genuine, heart felt way to end the relationship.  Only in my adult years did I realize how clichéd this statement is, and how it doesn’t make anything better.  But this dragging it out for several months and then using a cliché to break up with this friend was not the mistake actually.  The real “screw up” came several months later in my Junior year of high school, when I sat with said friend on a fall night and allowed him to convince me to give him another chance.  Although I KNEW I was not interested in him.  Romance has a way of muddling our better judgment.

So we started dating…again.  And once again, only several weeks into it this time, I knew it was time to break up with him.  This time because he was mentioning marriage and I was like, “What?! I’m 16! I have plans for my life and I know that you are not a part of those dreams.”  So I broke it off with him again.  And I won’t get into that whirlwind of drama.  The aftermath was not pretty.

And why should I have expected any less? I knowingly, even selfishly, dragged this guy’s heart through the mud. Twice.  Naïve or not, I screwed up.  It is the one thing that I wish I could have done differently.  However, I am grateful for the use of my friend’s heart.  Because it taught me several things about relationships and how I wanted to approach them from here on out.

*KNOW WHAT YOU WANT

*KNOW YOURSELF

*Never go out with someone just because you feel sorry for them, or want to boost their ego.

*Never date someone because it will somehow stroke YOUR ego.

* When you know it’s over end it.  Don’t think you’re doing them a favor by dragging it out for another several weeks or months.

*If you are not interested in marrying the person, DON’T DATE THEM.

*Do some recon before you say “yes” to even a first date.  It’s easier to say “no” to a first date than a second.

*Be careful when dating a friend, because there is a chance that you can’t go back to “Just friends” after you break up.

*DO NOT, under any circumstance, start dating someone again just because you are lonely.

* Be SO careful in interactions with the opposite sex so as to not “lead them on.”

*Flirting can be a very harmful thing to someone’s emotions.  Especially if they’re interested and you’re not.

*Never use someone’s attention to gain some kind of momentary self gratification.

*Always think of the other person before yourself, and so on.

I learned so much from that mistake in high school.  I learned about my real desires for my future, and that I didn’t want to date in high school.  I also learned that breaking up with someone is always worse than being broken up with.  At least for me.  Hearts are delicate, fragile, tender.  Yours and others.  So treat other’s hearts with as much care as you know your own heart needs.

But also, take risk. There is no sure formula for never making a mistake, being hurt, or hurting someone else even with our best efforts.  But we can be intentional and hopefully make things a little less complicated and painful.

May my mistakes and yours lead us to truth. And may that truth lead us to take better risks.

WV

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Blogtember: Take the Risk

 

Take the Risk
Take the Risk

Today’s challenge was to review a book, a product, or a place.  I immediately thought of two things.  One the book that I am currently reading, and a new app that I have recently fallen in love with.

First the app.  I apologize in advance if you have already discovered Pixler Express.  I however, have just recently entered the smart phone era.  Like a week ago, recent.  Since then I have been thoroughly enjoying this photo editing app, and sharing my new discovery and it’s beautiful addition to the things in my life.  It’s like adding layers of awesomeness to things that you already think are amazing. So I hope you all will enjoy this app as much as I have!

Secondly, is the book I am currently reading. TAKE THE RISK by Dr. Ben Carson.  Dr. Carson is the head of the pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins.  I had never, much to my chagrin, ever even heard of this amazing man before I picked up his book.  But the Lord has been speaking to me A LOT recently about taking risks.  So, when I saw this book sitting among a stack at my friend’s house I knew I needed to read it.

I am so glad that I picked up that book. Within the first chapter I knew it had plenty of truth to speak to me.  Truth about what we are afraid of and what our society has done to help us learn all kinds of fears.  And the truth is that all fears, except for the fear of falling and the fear of loud noises, are learned.  So with all the information from the media and the way that technology almost allows us to live everyone else’s disasters, and the warning labels, that make you think, “Seriously? Someone actually needs to be told that this cape will not allow you to fly?” It’s no wonder that we live our lives afraid to take risk.  I know for me that this book is helping me to step off the sidelines and back into the game of life.  Realizing the life giving truth that, “By insulating ourselves from the unknown–the risks of life–we miss the great adventure of living our lives to their full potential.”

I don’t know about you, but I know that Jesus came to give me life to the fullest.  I am also learning that most of the time I am rejecting that offer because of the risks involved.  Dr. Carson’s words are helping me to realize that there is a method to decision making.  A method that enables me to reasonably and methodically test and see what the best choice would be in a given situation.  Whether the risk involves finances, future, relationships, or career.  This book gives an outline for using all that wisdom that God has given us in His Word.  Putting it to good use, and helping us to live life to it’s fullest.

So I hope that even if you don’t choose to read this book, although I really hope that you will, that you will at least take this away.  “No risk, pay the cost.  Know risk, reap the reward.”  We were meant for so much more than we allow ourselves to imagine.  So I will also give you a huge piece of wisdom that this book contains, and let you take the risk from there…

What is the best thing that can happen if I do this?

-What is the worst thing that can happen if I do this?

-What is the best thing that can happen if I don’t do this?

-What is the worst thing that can happen if I don’t do this?

May we take risks,

WV

Blogtember: All the Single Ladies

You know you’re getting real when as a response to someone’s pleading for answers you respond by reading them a journal entry.  Radical community, right?  As I sat looking my friend in the eyes, tears streaming down her face I felt helpless.  I also saw a little piece of myself being projected right in front of me.  Like a holographic image of my soul.  Sitting there, pain radiating from her wet eyes.  Today’s challenge was to give a self update.  But I have always had a hard time simply staying on the surface.  It would be easier to talk about the “weather topics” in my life, than the actual struggles.  But something that I promised myself, is that I would never write something that was not relevant.  I would never waste a readers time with “fluff.”  I would be real.  So this one’s for you single ladies of the blogging world.

I would say that I am coming into a new season.  An exciting one.  One that was unexpected, and one that I am learning a great deal about.  However, as I sat on the couch with my friend last night, I also thought of other girlfriends that I have recently interacted with.  Other woman who are well into their 20’s still asking that life long question, “God, do you REALLY have someone for me? Am I only fooling myself?”  At the root of this question, and I know this because I have felt it, is the real question, “How long do I hope for?”  When hoping becomes a painful thing.   I have spent most of my life hiding behind a lot of things.  Not daring to ask this question because I didn’t truly want to know the answer.  So I kept pressing forward.  While my hope seemed to be lagging behind me.  It was easier when I was 22, 23, 24, 25, even 26, but as 27, 28, and even 29 began to pass hope seemed to be farther behind than in my earlier 20’s.

As I mentioned, I find myself staring hope in the face at this moment in time, but when I say, this is recent, I mean that.  Like 3 weeks recent.  Like 3 weeks ago this hope I am talking about was a small ember.  An ember so small, and barely holding on, that I was hoping I wouldn’t extinguish it with one tear drop.   I found myself being more open and honest with God than I had ever been.  Because the truth is,  even in my quietest times with the Lord, we rarely spoke of that dreaded word: Marriage.  But this year has been different.  Actually just the last couple of months really.  When I dared to finally let the Lord into that room of “faded hopes and dreams.” Letting Him help me sort through all that I had discarded there.  While presenting myself as “content” on the surface.

So when I say I understand the dreaded question, the feeling of hope dying, and the unanswered questions, and the feelings of inadequacy, and impatience, and sadness.  I mean it.  I wish I could look every young woman reading this in the eye and somehow, through our eye contact, give you a transfusion of this newly birthed hope.  But these words will have to act as a salve.  This “Blogtember Challenge” was to give an update on how my life is going, how my goals are going, what I am “up to.”  I could spend time talking about me, but really I wanted to use this opportunity to talk TO you, single friend.

To tell you not to lose hope, to not lower your standards, to not give in to that awful, societal game of comparison, to not shut down on God, to keep those lines of communication open.  To ask as many questions as you want, and to fight back.  Don’t let the enemy steal your hope.  One of my favorite quotes of all time comes from an old war film, “Man can endure incredible amounts of pain and suffering, as long as he has hope.”  You too are in a battle.  A battle to continue on this single journey and finish well.  To not compromise, change, or alter your course.  To stay firm in your convictions, strong in your knowledge of who God has made you to be, and unwavering in your trust in His goodness.

So, here’s the real part.  A prayer/dialogue I wrote in my journal last month, that I hope will not only encourage you, but that perhaps echoes as a prayer for yourself:

“I do want forever.  I want more than good, higher than average.  I don’t want to settle because it’s “time.” Thank You for valuing me.  For protecting my heart in ways I’ll never know.  And yet making me feel so desirable.  Thank You for calling me out.  Setting me aside.  For guarding my heart.  I have the utmost confidence in Your match making abilities and that You haven’t put me on the shelf forever.  For even the shelf is lovely.  The way that you care and protect the shelf.  They way you dust it daily, and spend ALL Your time perfecting me.  I sense You’re so excited to give me away.  Because you know how good this is going to be.  Help me to finish well.  I so desperately want to finish well.  I don’t want to settle for “Saul” when “David’s” right around the corner.  Give me the continued perseverance, endurance, patience, and steadfastness, to run this race well.  Grant me a partner to accomplish your will here on Earth.  For You, Yourself, said it was not good for man to be alone.  So I am asking for that partner.  The BEST partner for ME.  A man after your own heart.  Despite the world’s standards of what they think a man should be.  You better than anyone know my heart’s desires.  More importantly what I NEED, not just what I want.  I only want His heart to match yours. Give me the continued hope to get there.”

After that entry I felt him simply respond, “Child, watch and pray, find in Me your all in all.”  My prayer for you is as you “watch and pray” your hope will rest in Him.  It will come to life, and that in His timing He will reveal His beautiful plan for both of us.

May we find hope in vulnerability.

WV

Blogtember: The Discomfort of Comfort

Today’s challenge is to react to the word: Comfort.

I have a love hate relationship with the word: comfort.  The word comfort reminds me of where I live. The reminder of where I live brings to mind questions of my existence.  These questions often lead me to the conclusion that I am indeed blessed.  You may be wondering, “Then what’s the problem?”  Because at the end of the word comfort, guilt lies waiting.  Questions that I can’t answer, and feelings of inadequacy.

Even though I have lived in plenty of “uncomfortable” living situations.  Comfort is still a luxury that I often take for granted.  I know what it’s like to live with no hot water… for months, and what it takes to get food when you don’t have a grocery store, and the extra work that is required to make life work with none of the American amenities.  No car, check.  No, air conditioning in 100+ temperatures, check.  No bed to sleep on, check.  Cramming 4 people into a 2 1/2 person backseat in said temperatures, check. Not being able to communicate in a foreign country, while being harassed by foreign men, check.  Dressing for winter in the middle of summer because a culture dictates it to be so, check.

I expound on these “discomforts” only out of a desire to convey that I am familiar with discomfort, and that I have witnessed absolute discomfort in other’s lives.  Like women who carry water to their plumbingless homes everyday, and children that run around with no shoes, and women who plant grass one-blade- at-a-time bent at the waist, because this is all they know how to do.  These are all things that I would consider extremely uncomfortable.  However, they are also the memories that remind me that I am indeed blessed beyond words.  But this is where I get hung up.  I get stuck on the notion that I am so blessed while others are not.  I look at my family, my job, my possessions, my opportunities, and it leaves me feeling VERY uncomfortable.  Uncomfortable in the midst of comfort.

Then the discomfort turns to guilt, as I begin to ask myself questions, like: Why me? Why was I chosen to be born in America while others were born in Africa?  Why was I placed here for such a time as this?  AND how do I steward all that God has blessed me with in a manner that is honoring and glorifying to Him?  Then I begin to feel inadequate, as I look at all that I have been given and hope that I won’t be like the last man in the “parable of the talents.”  Hoping that I invest all that He has given me responsibly and wisely.  Praying that He gives me wisdom to use what He has given me to bless others. For to whom much is given much will be required.  It makes me glad that I don’t have more!

Then I stop myself.  I shake off the guilt. Because I know that guilt is not from the Lord.  And I thank Him.  I thank Him for blessing me although I don’t understand why.  I ask for more wisdom.  And I apologize for questioning His sovereignty.  Then I look around me and I decide what I can do for today.  This one day.  How can I use the comforts in my life, not to make others more comfortable, but to bless them.  To draw them closer to eternity.  For my being blessed truly is a gift, and one that I cannot afford not to share.  And these opportunities to share are not often BIG DEALS.  GRAND EVENTS.  They normally come to us in the form of a homeless man, or a baby that needs extra time in the church nursery, or an elderly widow that needs help with her lawn care.  It looks like letting our blessedness flow out in our smiles, and tithing more than 10%, and listening to a wounded soul at inconvenient times.  It looks like living to the fullest because we can, and being thankful, and letting that thankfulness turn into joy, and allowing  that joy to impact the lives around us.

Sometimes I need that reminder.  Because sometimes, “comfort”, can become a little too uncomfortable for me.

Blogtember: Fiction Challenge

To say I was dreading the dinner party would be the understatement of the century…but this is how it all ended, or maybe it’s really where it all began.  After all the ending of one chapter is really just the beginning of another. And I didn’t have to like it, but I did have to turn the page and keep reading.  

Change was approaching.  Big change.  You know change that feels like it’s going to alter your entire destiny?  The change that begins with a choice.  A choice that once announced cannot be taken back, cannot be altered.  I checked my reflection in the mirror again.  Staring at my all too familiar face.  Wishing that I could swap bodies with someone.  Anyone.  That they would have to go to the party and stand in front of the sea of faces, that face.   I swallowed.  Smoothed back my hair.  Took a deep breath, turned off the light, walked out the door.

I walked down a shadowy hall.  Thankful that the lighting matched my mood.  No need for bright florescent lights that felt like they would reveal the depths of my soul to complete strangers passing by.  My feet felt like lead as I mechanically walked down a flight of stairs.  Across the open lobby that felt larger than all of Asia.  The effort it took to move felt like I was walking the last leg of a triathlon.  My breathing was much shallower though.  “Just breathe, just breathe.”  Was all I could manage to think.  Each step made me aware of how my feet didn’t feel attached to my legs.   And how my legs were beginning to betray me too.  You know that feeling in a dream when you know you are supposed to be running, but you can’t because you seem to be moving so much slower than normal? And you’re frustrated and scared, and you just want to RUN, but you can’t.  That’s how I was beginning to feel.

I had made my decision though and I knew that I had to do it tonight before it was too late.  Before my emotions caught up with my mind.  Before my feelings betrayed me and manually overrode my brain.  So I kept walking no matter how slow, no matter how excruciating.  My breathing actually felt painful at this moment, my chest heavy.  I took another step.  I took a deep breath forcing air into my lungs.  Then another.  I held the second breath for a couple of seconds, let the oxygen seep into my blood stream.  Took another step, so my knees wouldn’t buckle under me and end with me passing out.  Just a few more steps and I would be across the “great chasm”  of lobby that might as well have been the Atlantic Ocean.  I wished I was the Titanic.  Then I could collide with an iceberg and I would be released to the bottom of the ocean.

It was a moment in life that I wished I could die.  Instead I stayed the course, reached the doors to the banquet hall, where the dinner party was set to take place,  put my hand on the door handles.  I took another breath.  I held those handles like a life preserver.  Breathing in.  Breathing out.   Staving off panic.  Eyes closed.  Chest tight.  Hands trembling.  Tears starting to form behind dark lashes.  Then I heard that voice…I wanted to run, wanted to faint, wanted to disappear into the luxurious carpet beneath my feet.  I wanted anything but to turn around and look that voice in the eyes.

All of the emotions coursing through my body made it hard to think.  Hard to focus.  I would rather die than face this new future I was writing in this moment.  To know that I was going to be the cause of another’s pain, disappointment, rejection.   It was more than I could bare and I couldn’t make myself turn around.  I forced more air into my lungs, opened my eyes, and made my weighted feet turn my body towards the last chapter.  After all I didn’t have to like it, I just had to turn the page and keep reading…

Blogtember: Memory Lane

“Nothing stands out so conspicuously, or remains so firmly fixed in the memory, as something which you have blundered.”

 ― Marcus Tullius Cicero

From the first time I read, Out of the Silent Planet, by C.S. Lewis, I began to see memory in a whole new way.  How precious our memories are to our life and to our future.  Our memories are like our own, sometimes secretly kept, history.  In, Out of the Silent Planet, C.S. Lewis expounds, through the use of foreign creatures, the idea that a moment in your life is not fully lived unless it is relived through remembrance

I find this to be incredibly true.  One of the reasons that journaling is so important to me.  I keep a blog, an electronic journal, a hand written journal, and a running journal in my mind.  When I use all these tools to collaborate, I find myself reliving my life.  Learning from a past me, so that the future me can enjoy life a little bit more.  So that a future me can love a little bit more. Reliving the past can help us avoid the same mistakes.  It allows us to take hope from past experiences, and the knowledge that God was present in the midst of every joy, every heartache, every word.

Today’s blogtember challenge was to write about a memory that I want to relive.  But as ambiguous as this may sound, it just brought me to a place where I just couldn’t get past the thought of memory.  What memories are, and what they should be to us now, and in the future. They are our link to our past.  The silent films that roll in our minds day in and day out.  Silently beckoning us to learn from what we have already lived.  I talked about passing on our life lessons to others in my September 12th blog.    And this led me down a rabbit trail.

This trail led me to this question:

What if by choosing to not relive memories, especially the bad ones, we are missing out on our greatest lessons, and our greatest contributions to this life and others? 

The truth is that humans don’t have enough time to make all the mistakes in the world.  So what a gift if someone else walks through something before us and chooses to turn and offer that advice back to the ones behind them.  But I believe that the only way to truly learn from our past is to relive our memories.  To enter the darkest rooms of our weary souls, turn on a light, and begin sorting.  Blowing off dusty memories, and trading them in for something far more valuable than the pain they have always brought.  Breathing new life, and purpose into that which has left us wounded.  Bringing to light answers we have always searched for, mainly:

Why did such and such happen? What was the point?

When we can turn and look those memories in the eyes, choose to be open minded to learning, and are willing to process the pain, we often learn more about who we are at the core of our beings.  And when we know ourselves. We can know God and others more fully.  We all want to be known.  But first we must know ourselves.  And when we embrace that challenge there is no telling the impact we can have.

So I encourage you to face that room.  You know which one.  And begin watching those silent films that will bring you into the light, and birth new hope in your soul.

May Truth Change us.

WV