Saturday, June 24, 2017

Puzzle Piece









Before I begin writing, let me first state emphatically that I am not suicidal or depressed. I have simply been watching a good show which has got the wheels in my head spinning…

As much as we hate to admit it, a lot of times, how we feel about ourselves comes from the events and people around us. It comes from our own decisions, as well as the words and actions of others. It’s all a bunch of puzzle pieces.

When someone commits suicide, or attempts it, or even just considers it, we look for that one reason that will answer the question “why?” But it rarely is one reason. It’s a series of reasons. It’s a myriad of puzzle pieces coming together. And the picture those pieces make is dark, bleak, empty. It’s a picture of utter aloneness.

When someone commits suicide, perhaps you’re on one of that person’s puzzle pieces. Perhaps I am. And it usually isn’t intentional. It’s simply a decision we made that seemed harmless at the time. Or perhaps a decision we knew was harmful, but it was really no big deal in the grand scheme of things. It was no big deal to you anyway. Or me. Or those other people. But when the puzzle pieces are all put together, it can be harmful.

Anytime you decide to tell a lie about someone, no matter how insignificant you think it might be…
Anytime you choose to listen to a lie about someone, and believe it…
Anytime you choose to tell someone else what you’ve heard…
You become a puzzle piece of that empty picture.

Anytime you tell someone to just ignore the lies being spread about them…
Anytime you tell that person it’s no big deal…
Anytime you tell that person they’re just over reacting and taking things too personally…
You become a puzzle piece.

Anytime you try to silence someone from speaking out against the lies…
Anytime you accuse the person of just trying to create drama…
Anytime you shut off your phone to avoid the drama…
You become a puzzle piece.

Anytime you ignore the cries…
Anytime you ignore the signs…
Anytime you ignore the pain…
You become a puzzle piece.

Anytime you choose to believe a person’s reputation is truth…
Anytime you choose to believe and think it’s acceptable to proposition someone because of her reputation…
Anytime you choose to believe and think it’s acceptable to grab or smack her ass because of her reputation…
You become a puzzle piece.

Anytime you call her a whore, or bitch…
Anytime you tell her she’s fat, or stupid…
Anytime you insult her character or appearance…
You become a puzzle piece.

Every decision we make in what we choose to say…
Every decision we make in what to believe about another...
Every decision we make in our actions towards another…
Gives us the potential to become a puzzle piece in that empty picture.


I’m not saying we have to be there every minute for every person. I’m saying we need to be aware of how our seemingly insignificant actions can affect someone when we least expect it. I know I have been a puzzle piece before. I know I may be a puzzle piece right now for one or more people. I can only pray to be more aware of this potential, and pray that puzzle of aloneness never gets put together… that I can change things and become a puzzle piece of a brighter picture.


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Why Am I Not Good Enough



A friend of mine shared this video on Facebook not too long ago, and listening to it had me nearly in tears. Why? It is just a 7th grader, reciting a poem she'd written as an end of the school year writing assignment.

But it wasn't just that. It is a 7th grader reciting what most of us feel, even as adults. It is a 7th grader expressing the doubts we, as women, start to feel in our early teens (or younger), and continue to feel as we enter high school, college, and beyond. We want to be accepted and feel we need to dress right, and look right, and be skinny, and have our hair perfect, and talk right, and not be too smart (or too stupid), and hang with the "right" crowd, and well... be anyone other than the person we are.

That's how society is. It's how it's always been.  Whether that society is a school, or a work place, or a church, or a community... we are expected to be more than what God made us. We are told that what God made us to be isn't enough. And we find ourselves continuously wondering "why am I not good enough?"

We wake up and try to cram ourselves into jeans that are a size or two too small, and a bra that lifts our breasts to where they should be and are padded so we appear to be the size we should be. We put on make up to hide those little imperfections. We get frustrated when our hair refuses to be the way it's supposed to be.

We go out into society pasting on the smile we don't feel, holding back the tears or anger or frustrations that would make us look weak or like we're "just female." We tuck away our true talents, fearing we'll be judged or ridiculed. We try to be the quiet docile creatures we're expected to be. We try to be the pure yet tempting creatures we're supposed to be. We try to appear "better" than we are so that others will accept us and love us.

We fail to realize that we are perfect just as we are. Just as God made us.

We fail to realize that because we're told or shown repeatedly that we are not perfect just as we are.

We fail to realize that because we see time and again people leaving us, or ignoring us, or persecuting us, because of who we are.

And...

We fail to realize that because we are so focused on the whole of society rather than God and those God placed in our lives who love us unconditionally...

Maybe it's only one or two people... but we all have someone whom has seen us when we first wake up - our hair in disarray, wearing the same pj's we've worn for a week straight, no make-up on. We all have someone whom has seen us break down crying, our eyes puffy and red. Someone who's seen us get angry and punch things, or go off on a rampage - sometimes for no reason whatsoever. Someone who's seen us secretly painting, or writing, or dancing, or singing, or stealing our child's algebra book because we like math, or working on computers, or fixing cars, or whatever it is that we have the love and talent to do. Someone who's seen us secretly watching weird movies, or reading the Bible, or whatever it is we enjoy doing.

Someone who loves us because of those things. Someone who loves us because of who we truly are... not because of who we try to be.

Someone who loves us as God loves us. Someone who loves us because they know that who we are is who God made, and God does not make mistakes.

Hold onto those people. Believe those people. And learn to see yourself as they see you - as the wonderful and perfect person God created.

You are good enough.


Saturday, May 13, 2017

Celebrate those God Gave You

Before I start this post, let me apologize for the typos. When I was a teen, I used to practice typing with my toes in case I lost use of my hands.... but never once did it occur to me that the temporary loss of one itty bitty finger would stunt my ability to type. Or do a lot of things.

ANYWAY....

In two hours, it will be mother's day. A day that many mothers will pretty much expect to be catered too. "Hey! I popped out a baby! Celebrate me!"

Don't get me wrong.... There really isn't anything wrong with wanting to be recognized one day a year. But for me, this is more of a reminder to me... not that I should be celebrated or recognized, but that the people who made me who I am should be celebrated and recognized.

So....

To my mothers...

Marlene (it really feels weird calling you by your name).... I don't think you will ever fully understand the impact you made on me. God truly did have a hand in bringing you into my life. You didn't just teach me how to be a mother, you taught me there are selfless people out there. You showed me who I want to be. I have never met anyone who opens not just their door, but also their heart, to someone in need. I havent lived with you in over 20 years, but you still are the person I try to be like. The person I want to be like. The most giving and loving person I know.

Sandy (and, also feels really weird calling you by your name).... You didn't really question me coming into your home. Your son loved me, and so you accepted me. But you went way beyond that. You have stayed up countless times just listening. You taught me how to be a mother. You let me cry, and gave me relief from the stresses of parenting when I needed it, and have always been an incredible strength and teacher. I have 6 incredible children.... and I have you to thank for how great they are. You are an amazing mother, grandmother, great grandmother, and just an amazing woman in general.


To my children....

It wouldn't be mother's day without you :p  Seriously, you guys shouldn't be getting me gifts. I should be doing that for you. You each already are my gifts. Whether you were the first, the last, or one of the in-betweens, you guys all raised me - not the other way around. Every day, every moment, every injury, every crisis, every success of yours shaped me. I can never express enough how much each of you mean to me. Each in your own way. Different, but equally important.

But.... while I do say equally important... I do have to point out one specifically, just because it is mother's day....

Cassie...

As my first, I screwed up a lot with you. It was a lot of trial and error....and error....and error.... But I cannot even find the words right now to say how insanely proud I am of you. Of all my memories of you growing up, I do have to admit that my most vivid memory is when you made ME grow. When you told me you were pregnant. When you made the decision to give your boy up for adoption, When you came to me with those two portfolios asking me to help. When you let me be there during his birth.... and during your intense pain at having to let another couple leave with him. You are my hero. You are the BEST mother I have ever known.

 I do also have to give credit to Kari because of all I just said....

You dont just have my grandson as your child, you also accepted my daughter and have let her be a part of your family.  Colin has a terrific mom. God couldnt have given him any better. God couldnt have given Cassie any better.

And.... One last one I have to add....

Jenn... you dont have children of your own.... but you are an amazing mom to so many. There's a reason we all ask you to be a God-mama.... its because we know how giving and loving and perfect you are. I am so blessed to have you as a friend, as the god mother of one of my kids, and just to have you in my life.

-------

Happy Mother's Day to everyone. I hope you are all able to see this day as a reminder of the wonderful women in your life... the ones who made you who you are today.



Saturday, April 15, 2017

The Journey Doesn't End Here






For the past few years, I have taken Lent to actually mean something. I've recognized the importance and purpose of it. But, I've really never been into the sacrificing of something during the season, simply because I never thought that simple thought of "giving up chocolate" or whatever it is really is the point. The point is to do something during the season of Lent and using that time to bring you closer to God.

The last few years, instead of giving something up, I had made the decision to write a post a day. This was something that would draw me closer to God (since these posts are, for the most part, about God). And I continuously failed. And I really didn't feel any closer to God. I mean, yeah, maybe a bit... but that's not anything that has been particularly special to the season... it's just something that sometimes happens regardless of the season.

So this year, I went a bit further. I brought others (knowingly and unknowingly) on the journey with me. I decided I would spend less time with some people; and more time with other people. I would spend more time in prayer, making certain to do both morning and night prayer every day. I would quit drinking and smoking. And I would write a post every day.

The day after Ash Wednesday, I realized that there needed to be a theme to these posts. They'd be about Lenten sacrifices. Not the "I'm not going to eat meat on Fridays".... "I'm giving up chocolate"... ."I'm giving up coffee".... "I'm giving up going out to the bar"... kind of things. I wanted to write about the things that really pull us away from God. The things that pull us away from each other. The things that ruin relationships of all kinds.

So.... how did this journey go?

The less time with people fluctuated. The more time with other people fluctuated. Sometimes I held to those things, sometimes, I just couldn't. Spending more time in prayer - I actually did do fairly well with this, although I admittedly failed at making sure to do both morning and night prayer every day. Quitting drinking and smoking? Well... I'm writing this a bit tipsy and just took a smoke break. So I guess that answers that.

So that leaves writing a post a day...

Yes, I did fail on that one too. In fact, I am currently writing this post the Friday AFTER Easter Sunday. Many of my posts were written a day (or several days) after when they should have been. Those who've known my original plan of writing one a day have picked on me for back dating my posts. And yet, I don't regret it.

Once I came up with the theme for the posts, I also realized that I couldn't just write about anything. That isn't the point of Lent. Lent is one of those times for personal reflection, and the personal journey. One of my latest posts talks about how we're on this  journey of life together... but Lent truly is different... at least in my eyes. It is a time self-reflection and self-growth spiritually.

So my posts had to reflect that. Every Lenten post has a bit of me in it. Perhaps a past me. Perhaps just a small piece of my thoughts. But they're me. They all hold a lesson that I know I need to work on. They all hold a sacrifice I know I need to make. They all are a personal reflection.

Because of that, I do not feel guilt or failure at the fact that I didn't meet the once a day decision I had made. I am filled with peace and joy at the fact that God has given me the words when I needed them the most. I am filled with peace and joy that God always gives the words when they are needed the most.

Today's Lenten sacrifice:

Don't stop your Lenten practice after Lent season is over


Of all I have learned on this Lenten journey, the one thing that stands out the most is that there was a purpose to all I decided upon. Yes, perhaps I failed in the moment at holding true to those decisions. But those decisions were given to me by God for a reason. Perhaps some of those have been met and aren't needed to be continued. But some do. And just because Lent is over does not mean we just go back to the lives we had before. If you did Lent right... you figured out that your "sacrifice" was a way to keep you on the correct path in your journey.

That journey does not end here... it does not end because Lent is over. The journey never ends.


Friday, April 14, 2017

Are Some Emotions and Feelings Evil?

Many of us grew up being taught that certain emotions and feelings are wrong. They're sinful. We're taught that anger is a sin. We're taught that depression is a sin. We're taught that wanting things is a sin. We're taught that sexual desire is a sin.

This teaching can create some really insecure and withdrawn adults. It causes us to hold in our feelings and emotions, trying to ignore them. It makes us feel constantly ashamed because we cannot get rid of those feelings. It sometimes causes people to finally give up attempting to control them, and instead makes them turn those emotions and feelings into sinful acts.

Don't get me wrong, these things can quite easily become sinful if we let them. If we get angry about something that has happened, it can turn into anger towards a person or group of people, and can lead to us thinking harmful thoughts towards that person. Depression can lead to self-pity, selfishness, lack of caring for self, others, or God. Wanting things can lead to us actually wanting something someone else possesses, and perhaps even to theft of that possession. Sexual desire can lead towards lust towards someone other than our spouse, and possibly to sex with that person.

But the underlying emotions and feelings are not in and of themselves sinful.

Today's Lenten sacrifice:

Stop believing certain emotions are sinful.


God created these feelings within us. God created us to have emotions, and to have biological needs. We cannot stop these things from existing, and we shouldn't. To see any of these as evil on their own is to say that God screwed up. To try to stop these things from existing is to put our own idea of perfection above what God has already said is good.

However, God also gave us the ability to make choices. This is when these emotions become sinful, or not. What do we do with the emotions we feel? Do we turn to God and ask for help in handling them in a good way? Or do we rely on ourselves, and often times wind up turning them into sin?



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