names have been omitted in this post
Growing up it was like my family lived on another planet far away that had no resemblance to what "normal" families lived. It was like we lived in a cult, a different dimension that left you feeling like you were locked up… shut up inside some pit or hole resembling prison... childhood often felt like a life-long sentence… it was the stuff of books or movies yet it wasn't glamorous but more crushing of the spirit and soul… it was removed from the rest of the world, it was eccentric and odd and "different". It was seemingly forever and all each of us; my siblings and mother wanted was to escape it and never look back.
"It is far better to grasp
as it really is
than to persist in delusion,
however satisfying and reassuring."
-Dr. Carl Sagan
When you grow up in an alter-odd environment where you request to do something… anything…normal stuff like a very simple thing... like going to a school function or to a fellow peers home after school to work on a school project… it never happens. It's usually always met with "No, that isn't necessary" or second choice is it's met with "I'll think about it." A few days pass, a week goes by… you go to him and ask again, reminding him that you're still waiting for an answer to your request. Instead you are met with the pages of a newspaper rustling and a grouchy verbal grunt of "I told you I'd think about it!"
You stand there not even being given the courtesy of eye contact… the newspaper is a shield between you and he… a buffer in the hopes that maybe, just maybe if he ignores you long enough you will go away and leave him alone in peace to read his paper. You sigh again. You dare to push the issue because you're the eldest and the strong willed one. You break the silence... "But you've had a week to decide." You remind him… your patience is beginning to wear thin.
You see it's wearing thin because it's always this way.
Every. single. time.
Your life gives new meaning to over-protected.
It gives new meaning to sheltered.
Those words don't even touch the surface of how you really live.
You finally irritate him to no end with your nagging and haranguing (which merely cements the idea that that's what girls and one day women have to do to get a "yes" from a male) that he finally, finally gives in one time. And when he does… you learn how very different your home life is. As you sit on the carpeted bedroom floor of a fifth grade school peer and take markers to poster board… working on a school project after getting frozen yogurt earlier (your family has never had frozen yogurt) her dad appears in the doorway and says "Hey, Court… remember tonight is family meeting night after dinner." Your classmate smiles at her dad and nods and says okay. After he departs down the hall you turn to her assuming family meeting night must be something awful… that must be punishment, right? Because it must mean you get yelled at for doing something wrong or not doing whatever it is you were supposed to do. You ask her with curiosity what this family meeting night thing is. She smiles and tells you "Oh, that's where we all gather in the den after dinner and talk about whatever is bothering us. We can talk about anything."
I stare at her incredulously.
My mouth hangs open in disbelief.
"Anything?" I echo.
She nods and explains further "Yes… we can talk about anything we want to. We can say if somebody has made us mad, or did something we didn't like. We can talk about anything and nobody gets in trouble. It really helps."
Maybe your own family would have benefitted from such a meeting... open dialogue where each person felt heard and was encouraged to express how they were feeling. For myself growing up a family meeting would never happen. That would mean everyone had feelings, everyone had a voice in how they felt, that everyone had the right to assert what they believed. "Assertive" was a bad word. Assertive got you a yard stick slapped on your butt so hard it snapped in half. Assertive got your arm grabbed so tightly it left red marks. Assertive got you put in time out in the storage room alone on a hard backed chair. Assertive got you screamed at and then listening to a rant-a-thon in the background for what felt like an hour. Having a voice? That was so foreign to me. I wondered wistfully what that must be like.
11 Things I Learned From My Childhood:
1. You're more valued as a person by working (work always comes first) than spending time with your family.
2. God is someone whom we are to fear not to be loved by.
3. Constant fear (fear in general) of failure is normal.
4. Self-awareness and therapy are not important and are not ever done.
5. Spending money on yourself is perfectly acceptable at the detriment of your family's needs and the upkeep of your home.
6. Even if you feel something, deep inside, please keep it to yourself. We don't talk about things such as feelings, dreams, goals or hurts.
7. It's perfectly fine for everyone around you to feel powerless, to feel controlled and diminished… because you're "the man" and way more important than the "little people."
8. Stay a safe physical distance away from others; no hugs, no pats, no high fives, no anything… because that would be weird… the human touch is not needed.
9. Follow the footsteps of your earthly father, his obligations, his dreams, his goals… don't think authentically, or spiritually… don't go outside the box or on any adventures… cling to self-preservation because it's way better to be able to say "I may not have been anywhere or done much but I'm still here."
10. If you ever feel threatened that someone might take your stuff… be way more concerned with protecting your material/marital assets than your relationship… because people are disposable but things on the other hand… those are worth much more.
11. Trusting people leads you to being screwed over, to being bamboozled. Always have something on someone in case you need it later, always have evidence… and listen more than you ever give away.
In life we don't get the childhood we want.
We get what we are given and then often we just have to make the best of it. All familial issues stem from the previous generations that were not resolved but instead allowed to continue to grow like toxic weeds… where growth and change have not yet taken place. We meet someone, we marry and if we haven't done the necessary work to address what needs haven't been met when we were children, we then on some level (we may not even be aware of this at the time) look for those unmet childhood needs/issues to be resolved with the one we marry. We are each looking to the other for healing… for wounds to be soothed.
We may or may not find what we are seeking… but one thing is for sure… we can always look up to a higher power… the one who knew us before we walked earth… before we cried our first cry of infancy and breathed our first breath… we can look to our Father in Heaven for affirmation… that we are more valued than any material thing on earth… that we don't have to fear He doesn't love us… that we don't have to fear at all… that our identity comes from Him… and He is always there to wrap us up in His arms with comfort and eternal love.
Today I'm here to tell you that God loves you... you are his child and no matter what you have been through in the past... In this journey, along each curve, each mountain, through every stumble and triumph He is with you... you are not alone.
© gps-gracepowerstrength.blogspot.com ~ 2014
Last Friday afternoon found me sitting in a movie theater… escaping reality for a little while and enjoying some much needed down time. The Best Of Me was a tear jerker like nearly all Nicholas Sparks stories… and I left not only with a wad of wet kleenex in my purse but reeling from the emotionally charged film. If you haven't seen it or heard of it it's a story of two high school sweet hearts who take different paths and eventually find themselves meeting up again due to events out of their control.
I opened the door to my SUV, sliding on the brown leather seat, tossing my oversized bag onto the floor of the backseat behind me. Sunlight streamed into the windshield and I winced from the harshness of it despite wearing Jackie O style sunglasses. The late afternoon sun was in full force and even though my stomach grumbled it was hungry I knew it had to wait… I was needed back at the office… work called.
Beside me, my mother flipped her visor down to shield the light from her eyes and she pulled her seat belt across her, buckling it in place. Starting the ignition I breathed in deeply through my nostrils and felt the tension that had built up in my neck and shoulders begin to slowly release as I exhaled.
"What did you think of it?" I asked her… backing out of the parking space and slowly making my way across the lot toward the street. The late October weather was mild and finally boots were justified… fall is terribly fleeting in Texas… it barely makes it's presence, like a flirt it disappears as quickly as it comes before winter settles in full force.
"It was a little rough… rougher than what I expected." She murmured and I immediately detected her disapproving tone.
I myself had not expected it to be that rough… I was expecting sappy and sweet not what it had delivered… a mix of heart gut wrenching emotions that had left me feeling more drained than anything. I affirmed my agreement with her with a murmur.
"What did you think?" She asked me… "Did you like it?"
"Parts of it… " I replied slowly and cautiously… "Parts of it I was disappointed in… there was no justification for them as high schoolers to have sex… it wasn't sweet or endearing… this is a PG- 13 rating… it sends the message to young teens that this is okay behavior… that scene was disturbing… it bothered me." I told her with a furrowed brow. "And… " I continued, "They didn't learn their lesson later in life… she's ready to have an affair with him… even if she is likely from what we can gather married to a jerk. And he was more than willing to let that happen. It was disappointing to see that occur… them together when she wasn't divorced. I wish it had been written differently."
She echoed the same sentiments as well and as I followed the flow of traffic down the main thoroughfare my thoughts spun too… "It's really a story of destruction." I said quietly. "It's a contrast of how maybe you think things should be and then how they really are. It's idealism and painful reality clashing like two opposing planets. It's the age old battle of how life coulda been versus what unfortunately is." I added… "You think to yourself… if only his family would have crawled under a rock… left them alone… they created so much pain and heartache. And it ultimately killed him. It's the injustice of that part and then the struggle that he's not his father. He's not like his family… him realizing his identity is not in them and their sinful ways. He stood for beauty and good."
"And then you've got her family… her dad trying to buy him off to not see her anymore." She added, "That was so cliche… it's been done time and time again."
"True… and yet it happens all the time I imagine in higher social circles." I affirmed and pursed my lips in thought... "How can she respect her father when he behaves that way? Her father is a man choosing to be defined by his wallet not Godly character."
5 Truths In Life:
1. You are not your family
You are not defined by your father who beat you, a mother who neglected you or any other scenario… we are not summed up by our relatives, by our bloodline… we are not their mistakes. They are separate from us… their wallet doesn't equate to our value as a person whether it's full or empty. God knows who we are… we are His and we are loved by Him.
2. Missing someone doesn't equate to pursuing them
We all have past relationships whether they are short lived or long and span the course of several years… we may have regrets or simply just wonder from time to time what coulda happened if it had worked out. It's one thing to wonder… but not fixate… eventually we have to let go… release these feelings and connections like a dandelion to the wind. We hurt others when we indulge in our selfish emotions, when we act on them and hold expectations of others. We also hurt ourselves staying in a state of mind that remains in the past… life is about growth, about change… and if it's meant to be it will happen under God's way and blessing not against the grain.
3. Money doesn't solve everything
True, money can solve a lot, without a doubt… it can solve emergencies that pop up and threaten our monthly budget… it can solve car troubles, an extra high electricity bill come mid-August or even paying for our kids college educations. But when it comes to wielding power and control… money can fall through… not everyone can be bought… a young woman intent on being with a young man she's in love with or vice versa likely isn't going to respond to a father extracting his wallet. True love doesn't engage in bribes or deals.
4. There is bad in the world
It is an unfortunate truth in life. There is bad everywhere and sometimes it hurts. Life isn't fair and no one ever said it was. Why does it happen? Not one of us can fully understand or explain it. Because of this fact many may be quick to dismiss God and Christians… to poo poo at them, claiming they are living in some type of fantasy world without concrete answers. We as Christians may tend to measure our sins in comparison to others and cry "...but I'm better than Suzie Q or John… so why do these bad things happen to me?" It's human nature to think our sin card is a tiny bit better… cleaner, than the person's next to us, at the office or even on social media. Like thinking of our own children or our own home we are each undeniably a wee bit biased. But the truth is we each deserve the wrath and fury of hell… each day we are still here living and breathing on earth it's because of God's great mercy. The fact is… we live in a sinful world and we each have the power every day to infuse light and love into it or contribute to the continual downfall.
5. She/He Is Maybe A Jerk Yet She/He's Still Your Jerk
In life we may be married to someone who is difficult… heck, were all difficult at times… who isn't when we've had a bad day, been sick or it's that time of the month. Maybe on the extreme were married to someone who is emotionally, physically or verbally abusive. Maybe were married to someone who is toxic, who has a "temper" or who is merely absent. We may not love them, we may not want to be around them or maybe we don't even like them… but unless were divorced they are still our spouse… were either married or were not… there is zero in-between or gray area… even separated still means married in God's eyes. Until were legally divorced we shouldn't be involved with anyone physically or emotionally… if we are struggling with this we can go to Him with it… as pleasing God should be first on our list and it shouldn't feel like a chore but a joy to do.
© gps-gracepowerstrength.blogspot.com ~ 2014
Isn't it in the times of transition that we seem to flounder most (?)… when our lives have been uprooted by change either that we ourselves pursued or outside forces inflicted. Whether it's an unforeseen illness that has reared it's ugly head, the choice or need to move, a death in our family, a joyful birth… regardless of the type of change, whether it can be defined as wonderful or horrible… we know it can leave us feeling unsettled as we move into a new season in our life.
A New Season…
As I begin a new season of life… perhaps you are too. As I type this I am surrounded by boxes… moving boxes and plastic bins… I am moving by choice… downsizing again… ridding myself of the excess space and stuff that continues to act as a block to inner peace. Striving for minimalism, I believed that was what I was attaining when I moved before on the heels of my divorce becoming final… but it's often not until you begin living in a space for a while… adjusting, after some time has passed… and then realize that you still have more worldly possessions than you could ever need or want. You realize you don't even use rooms x,y,z… and you begin taking serious inventory of just what exactly you do utilize on a day to day basis.
Taking Stock Of Our Life…
Taking stock of what we are using, what were actually wearing, what space we are living in and even what we are enjoying is a big undertaking, no doubt. But doing so, downsizing… even in small increments here and there over a period of time… can bring such peace to our life… shedding ourselves, purging what we no longer use, need or enjoy can begin opening the door to what truly matters… we won't have so much static clogging up the doorway to a peaceful life.
Life can often cause us to give into worry, to stress…
To buy that box of cookies we don't really need but we do because were mentally or physically maxed out and need a "fix", we need to decompress, we need something to make us feel better. Some people choose alcohol, some choose retail "therapy", some choose exercise, some choose chocolate… there are endless options on what people may choose to self medicate on a bad day, bad week or even stressful season. We may find ourselves with pent up tension… tight shoulders, an aching neck, a headache… even stomach upset… but God doesn't expect nor want us to go around like that. I have to remind myself of this often… maybe you do too. Last night as I was reviewing a contract for work and making necessary calls I glanced at the time only to have a mini freak out… I had to go! It was getting late and my daughter had to be somewhere. I found myself stressed… and soon I found myself mentally saying to myself: "You cannot be everywhere. You cannot do it all. Just. Slow. Down. Deep Breaths. " Sometimes we find ourselves feeling the pressure of a situation and at the end of the day we either don't have control over it and/or we can remind ourselves to just take it one step at a time. We can remind ourselves that God doesn't expect nor want us to run around in a fervor of upset… that He wants peace for us in our lives.
Jesus promises to give us His peace
We have peace because He has overcome the world
1 Corinthians 7:15
God calls us to live in peace
1 Corinthians 14:33
He is not a God of disorder
but of peace
He is our peace
His peace transcends
should rule in our heart
Peace is a fruit of the spirit
Exhorts us not to worry
The best way for us to overcome stress in an increasingly stressful world that is filled with stressors like school, health issues, traffic, deadlines and maybe even family strife... is to increase our fellowship with God.
When we are moving into a new and changing season in our lives no matter what it is, we must take the time to develop a deeper intimacy with the Lord, to lean on Him. We can remind ourselves to remain in God's word, to immerse ourselves in it daily throughout the thick and thin of battle, of trying times. When life throws us unexpected curveballs we may often turn to a chocolate bar, a beer after work… an intense exercise regimen, or reality television… but don't despair, don't cling to the world… we can remember we may have stress, we may have problems, we may have change… but they don't have to have us.
We can turn to God, our Prince of Peace…
We can allow Him to
He is the ultimate healer and soother.
© gps-gracepowerstrength.blogspot.com ~ 2014