Letter To Ray

Sarah & D

I’ve written a pile of love letters and spilled my words out like baskets of flowers. Sealed them carefully with a gold sticker, sprayed them with my perfume, drew cartoons on them, kissed each one and I’ve tucked them away to be cherished when the moment comes. I meant every word of them poured my soul over and into each one of them… because words are important Ray.

And one day it may be all that is left behind to remind the people who have been important in my life of the mark that they made. I just wanted you to know I didn’t forget about you. I am writing something extra special that I hope you take your time reading. It feels strange to finally get to say the things I always wanted but was too afraid to. Make no mistake I’m not afraid anymore and it’s not a love letter you’ll be receiving.

Instead I wrote down every name you ever called me: slut, bitch, dumb ass, cunt, whore to name a few. Know that your words made me strong. Then I recounted every detail of what it was like being ‘loved’ by you. Every disappearing act, every tear I could remember. Every offensive attack on my spirit, every battle wound, ridicule, mockery, and every bruise. I’m handing it all back to you and hope that seeing it all there in writing will shake you and motivate you.

And that little boy who’s looking for a man to guide him may have no choice but to look in your direction. I don’t know why it is that the most spiteful, hateful people thrive, while those who sacrificed so much of themselves are sacrificed to things like cancer. But that little man in the making is going to need tenderness, respect, and affection.

I may have no other choice but to hand you something you don’t deserve but mark my words…. You ought speak gently and let him unfold according to his nature and never discourage him because if you do I will be there around every corner and in the periphery of your mind and I won’t be quiet, peaceful, or kind to you.

He’s going to need to know how to approach so many things with integrity- How to open the doors of hearts and how to tie a tie. He’s going to need an example of how to forgive and how to let go and how to cope with disappointment and anger and to understand where there’s pain there’s growth. He’s going to need to know how to navigate to the high road, when it’s appropriate to turn the other cheek and when to fight. All of these lessons require careful thought and intention and commitment and time.

So just do this one honorable thing. Ray, this one thing and don’t fuck this up the way you did with me.

Hey You! The Time Is Here!

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Is there any charm left in the way you are living now? Is there any romance left in it? Your eyes have been saying it’s been feeling empty for a while. When was the last time you slept peacefully and woke up with a sense of purpose and happiness to approach the day? Decide to hand over your burnout, your pain, your emptiness. I am praying for an awakening deep in your bones. Deep in your heart. Deep in your eyes. Deep in your soul. Take a look at things with your heart and take your time.

I am praying for you to have the desire to move on and search for something more meaningful, live with more meaning, that your spirit will grow and you will grow emotionally. You are not trapped. That thinking is just an illusion.

I am praying for self confidence for you and the dissolution of all fear in your head. I am praying for healthy thoughts. Don’t you want to be healthy? I know you do. I can see that you do when you make ½ committed efforts that only last for a short period of time. Those attempts are an indication for what your soul wants. Become confident about your abilities and have faith. Think positive thoughts. You are not helpless. You are not a victim.

Face the reality that you were never abandoned or alone. It was you who abandoned yourself. You who abandoned your life. You who turned the light out. You who isolated yourself and let your anger separate you from those who love you the most. You who looked for validation from empty and lost souls who only reflected back to you what your ego wanted to hear or that hurting child inside wanted to hear. Not what your divine nature wants you to hear. You are more than they could ever imagine but they sense it and that is why they want to keep you with them. Because they know if you grow and move on that it will force them to look at themselves.

I know you are scared. Scared of letting go of the devices that bring you comfort and allow you to cope but if you would allow your mind to connect with your heart things would be clearer. That social network you are trying to maintain, the appearances you are trying to keep up, are exhausting you and fueling your depression.

When does it stop? Will it take a devastating rock bottom? I love you- the real you and I won’t ever stop loving you. I’m just waiting for you to figure it out. I know you will. I can’t wait to see you rediscover who you are and find your happiness. You are going to shine so bright and I will fall to my knees with gratitude for our savior who pursued you so lovingly.

You don’t have to be a saint, you don’t have to be boring, you don’t have to be anything other than you. It isn’t all or nothing even though it feels like it has to be. It isn’t. It’s just you and God having a conversation and you surrendering that you are all out of hope. You haven’t failed or screwed up your life. These are all just lessons.

 

Starring Contests, Ugly Crying & Pure Grief

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I haven’t had a good solid, cleansing cry aka “Ugly Cry” in about three years. I’ve tried but the tears wouldn’t come. There were a few times where the tears pooled and a few even fell but not the rain storm or hurricane that my soul feels inside. I’ve certainly had events that called for it where it would be more than acceptable and even expected.

Grief is supposed to be nature’s built- in genius to relieve us from the shock of and disassociation from an emotional reality that seems far too great to come to terms with. I think grief by this design is a form of grace and an expression of God’s deep love for us. Although I feel it and am aware of its presence, I have had significant difficulty understanding its purpose or expressing it and releasing it from my body until now.

Life taught me that my feelings and expressing myself are dangerous and because of that belief I have attracted people and circumstances into my life that validated that hideous lie. Over and over the people in my life would beg me to reveal my emotions, inner most thoughts, feelings, desires to them like a prize to be won and when I did they would sometimes chastise me for my delivery or tell me my feelings were wrong or use my feelings as a way to manipulate me into feeling differently about them or get me to be who they wanted or do what they wanted.This led me to give up, choose numbness and disassociation. Guarded doesn’t even begin to describe it.

The truth is feelings cannot be wrong, they just are. Only preemptive thoughts resulting in feelings can be flawed and our thoughts are products of all kinds of experiences. Our experiences are intimate and limited to our interpretation of what they mean to us personally and because of this our experiences can trick us into believing false things about ourselves, our environment, and the world, how we should be treated, treat others, and the love we deem ourselves worthy of receiving.

With the recent realization that my experiences create thoughts and those thoughts create my feelings it got me real curious about my own experiences and those that may have contributed to my inability to experience grief the way nature intended. So I started to write it all out. I started with the belief (thinking) that if I express my sadness and grief outwardly that it means I am weak and it is an admission of brokenness. When did I form this belief? The first memory of a time when this may have happened was at five years of age.

I watched my parents fight to near death several times when I was little and one of the most frightening memories I have is of my dad chasing my mom with a belt into my bedroom and her fleeing behind both me and my sister for protection because she banked on him not hurting his children. He doubled the belt over and snapped it at her threatening her several times as she coward behind us. After the situation subsided my mom turned to me and said thank you. Not sorry, not- I was afraid and I shouldn’t have put you in harm’s way, not- this is unacceptable behavior and I promise I am going to get us out of this situation. But….thank you? In hindsight I think this highlighted for me that she was relying on me (a kindergartener) to protect her, the twenty six year old mother of three.

My mind recorded several lessons from that event even though it only lasted a matter of 3 minutes. This moment that happened 34 years ago imprinted on me and would only get reinforced with other similarly traumatic events throughout my childhood. The takeaways for me at 5 were:

1. Life is scary and unpredictable
2. I don’t like the way this feels
3. I don’t ever want to feel this way (helpless, confused, scared) again
4. Am I capable treating others this way?
5. Am I next?
6. He looked pleased and gratified when she submitted
7. I cannot trust my caregiver; therefore, I cannot trust anyone
8. Be on guard and protect yourself at all costs
9. Fly under the radar as much as possible, become less so you don’t get noticed
10. I need to protect others because if I don’t someone might get injured or die

That is a shit ton for someone so small to process and deal with. BTW- if you have engaged in domestic violence- there you have it. Enough said. Those are the forever gifts you are giving the children in your life. Get real with yourself and get help.

There was another time when my mom decided to use corporal punishment on me. I have no idea what I even did but, whatever it was, my mom felt it needed to be addressed with a spanking to be performed with her bare hands. I was 9 and my mom told me to bend over and pull my pants down (never understood why that was an ingredient to spanking anyway- guess it hurts more?). It’s downright degrading to have to get on your knees, bend over, and have to submit to someone who is filled with anger. In any case, I just told myself- don’t cry. When I didn’t cry after her taking several pretty solid swats, she told me if I would just cry she wouldn’t spank me anymore. Finally, her swatting got more angry and intentional until my skin broke in places. She screamed, JUST CRY!

So let me get this straight, if I allow you to break me then you will stop? My spirit wouldn’t accept it. So my mom spanked me until her hand went numb, turned purple and she fell to the floor and cried in pain. I later broke down crying in my room because my ass hurt so damn bad and the shower water hurt like hell but I also got a sense of gratification and strength from the fact that I did not submit. It was like me throwing it in her face and saying with my unwillingness to be present and feel the pain “you hypocrite, I won, I am stronger than you, oh and screw you for not protecting me all these years, no matter what you irresponsible assholes do you can’t hurt me.”

I told myself that going silent is a sign of strength, not reacting was control and going numb would protect me. She never spanked me again but she did slap me, pull my hair, choke me, tell me she wished she never became a mom, and held me under water once in the pool after getting wasted. The more unexpressed grief my mom had the more drastic her abuse. I knew she was in pain and I wanted her pain to end so I took it, didn’t fight back, and sacrificed my pain for hers.

I should say that my mom made a concerted effort to ask for forgiveness after rededicating her life to Christ and in the years after she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and leading up to her death we made amends and I forgave her. She became a soul mate to me. Even though I forgave her in my mind and in my heart I didn’t express it outwardly in the form of tears. I didn’t want to make her feel guilty. I wanted there to be peace.

I denied myself the grief and when grief is disowned it becomes dangerous. It was trapped inside of me like a bullet bouncing around. I set aside my needs for the greater good and harmony of my family. Instead I learned to use humor as a deflector or disappear when things were intense. I would sometimes lock myself in my room for days only resurfacing for dinner if forced.

Being funny came natural to me and instead of making everyone uncomfortable it got the point across and made everyone laugh. It seemed to break the tension but what people don’t seem to recognize is that the funniest, most charismatic, endearing, empathetic, intuitive people in the world are some of the saddest, repressed and depressed people on earth. You have to know deep buried pain to recognize when it is deep and buried in someone else. Being funny is likeable, acceptable and being sad, well that is just a downer and nobody wants to sit willingly next to sad at the lunch table for very long.

I just had a thought and I am going to share it. As I wrote out the above stories, deep wounds, and experiences above it felt good to get them out but, then I started to think about you reading them and you seeing my pain, your judgments and I almost deleted everything. Why? I don’t want to make you uncomfortable- that’s why. So let me go on record now, I am writing about this not to rehash every painful memory and depress everyone. I am doing it because I need to heal and I deserve to heal and to have peace and I can’t do that if I have more fear than I do love for myself. If you are uncomfortable, then perhaps you have your own work to do. So I am going to see that for what it is and release it.

Which brings me full circle back to my original concern- not having had a true “ugly cry” in three years. When someone doesn’t allow them selves to feel grief and express it in the way it was designed I think it gets trapped until it is so destructive that it requires divine intervention to dislodge it from the body and release it from the spirit. I think God uses gentle nudges to get us there but sometimes we have to hit rock bottom and we have to either temporarily lose something, someone, ourselves in order to wake us up.

A few days ago I was out and I witnessed a brother and sister having a starring contest. At first it felt like time stopped just for me to experience/observe them experiencing the joy of this wonderfully sacred moment watching them be playful with each other, enjoying each other, not having any fear of seeing each other and having full acceptance of each other. I thought, that is God right there. God just showed me that. It made me smile so deeply and then that moment turned into the most intense grief I have felt in a very long time and in the blink of an eye and I couldn’t control it. I ran to my car and burst into the most solid ugly cry I think has ever been cried.

I realized that God was bringing me the edge of a hole in my heart that I was too scared to face because in doing so I would have to admit to myself that I was hurt and that I could not repair it myself. That would mean I am broken, flawed, inadequate, wrong, not in control and I could not allow myself to be out of control- not consciously anyway. It would mean that I would have to consider that I was rejected, dejected, and maybe not really ever loved by someone I shared a few starring contests with- someone who was my mirror- someone I called my best friend. That we were a mistake in each other’s lives and other fear based thoughts.

Fear is a thief that enters our thoughts and love asks grief to step in and have us feel the discord between the truth and fear. That uncomfortable feeling then becomes the catalyst for love to show fear the exit sign.

Grief comes to the door of your heart and knocks and says let me take this from you and in a split moment you peer through the peephole and decide whether to answer and allow grief to do its job so that you can give what you cannot handle, control, or change over. If you don’t answer the door then grief waits forever and the more you ignore it, it becomes a pesky collector. To drown him out drastic defenses are required but inevitably grief will work as designed and since you are not working with the design and instead push against it you grow more and more tired until you are sick, addicted, the worst version of yourself, depressed, suicidal, or until you surrender to divine intervention who will unlock the door to your heart for you and invite grief in to be felt so that grief can be expressed and released. So that love can be felt and remembered authentically again and the truth can be seen.

I know that the person I shared starring contests with loved me and I am grateful for those moments. I am also grateful for the grief I feel remembering those moments because they have brought me back to consciousness with my spirit and I know for certain that at least for a few moments I was seen and loved completely and that I saw and loved this person completely, without fear of failure, without condition, without an agenda, without any external input or opinions from others not involved in our starring contest. So if that is the case that means the lie I keep telling myself is just a fear-based lie. Because it feels more realistic and plausible to believe the other person was not who they pretended to be, that we tricked each other, than to recognize we are human, we hurt each other, and if we admitted we were wrong and forgave each other we would have to risk loving each other again and that is scary.

I’ve Loved Like I Should But Lived Like I Shouldn’t

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“There comes a time in everyone’s life when all you see are the years passing by and I have made up my mind that those days are gone.” Quite frankly it’s time to grow the f up, stop being afraid, stop accepting substandard love and stop just existing and live like I was meant to before I don’t have the opportunity to. This song https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q1pHbP0aMf0 hits so close to home for me.

It has been rough the last ten years. Life hasn’t been easy. It’s been unkind and some of my choices have been really bad. I have been through more than a person should have to go through. There are piles of experiences and sorrow that I have never shared with anyone because I didn’t want to burden anyone or appear weak. So the piles got out of control and instead of dealing with it I just shut the closet door and picked up a drink instead. Before I knew it time flew by and instead of having that fulfilled life and family I always wanted I had resentment, regret, several sad goodbyes and heartbreak as my door prizes. Now, my body is protesting, my mind is fed up, and my heart so broken I am not really sure how I am going to put it all back together again.

I have put so many other people’s needs, demands and dreams before mine and placed un-even weight on the side of loyalty to others that what I’ve lost far outweighs the equity gained in my own life. I’ve been all in for the select people in my life which would be fine if I was all in for my own life first. My spirit has been broken for the last 7 months and it was breaking down slowly for years before that.

It has felt like every time I come up for air something pushes me below the water line again. I could blame it on an endless set of life circumstances and players in my life but the truth is I let it happen. I left myself open for it to happen and I’ve carried burdens that weren’t mine to carry. I’ve made excuses for others and myself. I’ve taken blame where I shouldn’t. My priorities were misplaced. I’ve let other people’s and my own: perfectionism, ridiculous standards, unrealistic expectations, judgments, lack of focus, dependency, addictions, emotional deficiencies and fear based decisions close more doors than were opened. Being guarded with my feelings and protective of others and sensitive to their feelings and secrets has created unwarranted drama, attacks, and fueled critic’s tongues and I put up with it and turned my cheek, chose silence and humility instead of picking up a sword.

When I got a divorce friends and family were buzzing with gossip. I remained silent. It’s interesting to me when I run into old mutual friends/acquaintances of ours the completely off base reasons they think I left my ex-husband. They would be shocked that I lasted one year in my marriage, let alone the 8 that I did if they knew the whole story. Most people don’t know that shortly after my divorce I fell in love with who I thought was THE love of my life- my soul mate and that I became pregnant and that when that door was closed on that relationship it broke me in ½. I felt so completely betrayed and hurt that I went to one of the darkest places I have ever been. I lost my footing completely and have felt lost ever since. It would shock people because I didn’t cry on anyone’s shoulder about it. I chose self-protection instead. I picked up a drink, put on a smile, refused to show that I cared. The show must go on. Meanwhile, I continued to encourage and build up those “friends” in my life and I shut the door on romantic relationships for the long haul and my feelings.

I gave 100% to work and to other people. If someone needed a resume written, a job, a shoulder, a babysitter, a drinking buddy, money, to feel confident, to feel validated, bailed out of a jam, I tried my best to be there and provide what I could and be supportive. I didn’t realize it wasn’t my job to do all that. It wasn’t until I lost my job of 15 years prematurely as a result of taking an activist level stance for others that I started to realize just how unequitable some of my relationships have been. There is nothing more depleting than finding out who and how people have stabbed you in the back, spoken untruths, and climbed over you for their own elevation after you set them up for success and put them in the positions they have. Still, I put on a smile, kept my mouth reasonably shut about it and pressed forward. All those people I helped get jobs and you think one of them would have passed along my resume for me or put in a good word. Nope.

I would have never classified myself as depressed before. I know now I was severely depressed for the last year. That is really hard for me to admit because I used to think people who were depressed were lazy and overly negative for no good reason. I have lacked affection in my life. I felt unclaimed and unlovable. This has a lot to do with all the people who have died in my life. I don’t expect someone who hasn’t been through it to even have a clue or fill a void that can’t be filled by another human. That isn’t fair to expect. Every time I took a risk and opened myself up to someone it felt like I was asking too much though. I watched the people I was closest to give affection to mere acquaintances and felt awkward even asking them for a hug when a hug is all I needed sometimes to keep me from wanting to leap off the edge of something. That is my fault. I have a huge tendency to see in others what I choose to see because I love them so much. This sometimes causes me to be blind and place people on pedestals when they haven’t earned it.

I spent too much time the last two years with a drink in my hand, going home empty and no closer to any of the goals I want to achieve. My health as of recently has been a huge wake-up call for me. There is a lot of uncertainty right now and I am scared but I have to face it head on and make the changes I need to make if I am going to be here for the one person who deserves 100% of my attention and presence- my son. It’s time to let others show me that they love me for once and stop bending myself in half to be everything to everyone. I didn’t get to this point because I was selfish. I haven’t been selfish enough.

If I’ve told you that I love you I meant it whole heartedly. If I went out of my way for you, was available to you, set you a part from others it came without strings. This blog post isn’t to make anyone feel guilty or call out anyone. It is to out myself and free myself of some of what I have been feeling trapped by. I hope you know just how loved you are. It is just time for me to fall in love with me again so I can be someone I am proud of. If you wronged me, stabbed me in the back, said mean things about me, you are forgiven even if you don’t want the forgiveness. I am still here. It’s time for me to honor God with the life he has given me and do better, be better, and heal so that I can be loved the way we are all supposed to be loved.

 

 

My Sweetest Friend

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My most dearest precious friend… don’t you know how you shine? Don’t you know how amazing you are? Don’t you know that I lived to hear you tell a joke and make me laugh? You rescued me so many times. So many times when I was ready to just give up and stop you showed up and reminded me who I was. You are amazing and wonderful and deserve all of life’s graces. This life has been a test. A really hard and test and it had been lonely and rigid and sometimes disgusting. Everything I thought I could count on eventually revealed itself.

Then there was you…. beautiful… honest… graceful…. And someone who I could always count on. A miracle. When everyone including myself abandoned me you were there. For as long as you could. Thank you for being you and for all your gifts.

My 50 Natural Highs

 

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I have been taking note of the things that make my heart smile. Those things that make me jump up inside and take notice of someone or make me feel closer to someone. Those sometimes small, special moments or gestures that leave me feeling naturally high, happy, and/or loved. What gives you a natural high?

  1. An answered prayer
  2. “Thank you, what you did impacted me in the following way_____”
  3. “I love the way you ____”
  4. Songs that remind me of my loved ones, songs that remind me of good times, songs that remind me of you.
  5. Being pulled out onto a dance floor to one of my favorite songs.
  6. Inside jokes.
  7. Getting lovingly teased.
  8. A nickname that only you call me by.
  9. When you trust me with your secrets.
  10. Getting tickled.
  11. Your arm around my shoulder.
  12. A sincere and long hug.
  13. A kiss on my forehead.
  14. When a door is opened for me.
  15. When I’m asked how my day was.
  16. Babies. Everything about them.
  17. When I overhear you saying something sweet about me to someone else.
  18. When someone unashamedly tells the world they love me.
  19. Cards for special days or occasions.
  20. Small gifts because you were thinking of me, or something reminded you of the time we spent together_____.
  21. Long drives down back roads on good weather days.
  22. Singing songs in the car.
  23. When someone fixes something for me without me asking.
  24. When a perfect stranger does something nice for me like carrying large bags of dog food out of the store to my car.
  25. When I sincerely apologize and the other person forgives me quickly so that I can forgive myself.
  26. When someone invites me to do something and they give our time together attention without distractions.
  27. When I am given a second chance without the threat of being abandoned or punished.
  28. When someone takes time to teach me something new.
  29. Inappropriate jokes.
  30. Pranking someone and getting pranked.
  31. Someone cooking me a meal.
  32. Seeing the look of gratification and appreciation on someone’s face when I cook for them.
  33. Seeing someone do something extraordinary against the odds.
  34. DejaVu.
  35. Eaves dropping on children talking to each other.
  36. Starring contests.
  37. When you are proud of me.
  38. When you smile at me.
  39. When you seem happy to see me.
  40. When I hear you laugh even when you are on the other side of the room from me.
  41. When you surprise me.
  42. When you reassure me and stand by me- even when I’m wrong.
  43. When someone draws me a picture.
  44. When you brag about the time we spent together.
  45. When I fall or hurt myself and you ask me if I am ok and pick me up before you start laughing at what a klutz I am.
  46. When I’m recognized for my accomplishments.
  47. When I am down and you make an ass out of yourself to make me laugh.
  48. When someone holds my hand when crossing the street because they know I’m prone to falling.
  49. When someone takes charge at a restaurant and orders for me.
  50. When someone opens up to me and shares their life with me.

Absent Butterflies

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When there is so much love pooling inside and no one is grabbing it,

Does it envelop itself and turn into sadness?

And does that sadness sit like an ocean

waiting for a full moon to force the heart into motion?

When no one but the angels are able to hear you,

And even your soul can’t muster up a whisper

Because it is chained by the disappointed lack of connection.

Well who then reaches in to save you?

Or do you just give up and give in, and decide to:

Leave everything behind you-

Leave everyone without you?

Is this where the contemplation of imaginary companions

In a fake network of “friends” inevitably happens?

Is it considered invasive to look each other deeply in the eyes?

Or will we all just become covert stalkers and spies?

Talking, hugging, laughing, silly dancing

Replaced by lost moments and acquaintances who know too much in passing?

Secrets that had been deep, sacred and guarded

Now labels for drama by the insensitive and discarded.

But if we can’t close the lid and we don’t ever restart or shutdown…

Then why does it feel like we are all shutting down?

What is supposed to be the core of our humanness-

A desire to love and be loved.

Is it just obsolete and outdated,

to feel one another without wearing gloves-

To be vulnerable without filters and risk a heart infection

Without the extensive pre-screening

Absent the butterflies and void of affection?

Just Want You

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The day bleeds into a night that turns against me

I let it all get the best of me

I take every little thing to heart and I don’t know how not to

I may be tired- I may be a little beat down

I keep trying to hold the world up by myself but it keeps coming down

And I don’t know how to tell you

I don’t want to be the strong one right now

I don’t want to be the one who’s right

I want to believe this matters to someone other than me

Cause I feel like I’m fading into your background

When I should be somewhere in your safe keeping

I don’t need my girlfriends to tell me what I want to hear

I don’t need just any voice on the line

I need to dance on the tops of your shoes to our favorite songs

And at the end of this night

I need you to promise me that everything will work itself out

That I can trust that you will still be there

No matter how thick the air gets

You’ll still look into my eyes and suspend me there

If I let this all get the best of me

It’s because I take every little thing to heart – I don’t know how not to

If I am tired and beat down

It’s because I keep trying to hold the world up but it keeps coming down

and I don’t know how to tell you just how I need you

Let Me Be Your Mirror

My Hero

Joy Is Not Circumstantial- It Is Conditioned

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With tear filled eyes, and my soul wide open and my failures, fears, anger, disappointment, and pain exposed I started to rapidly fall. And in my falling I threw my hands up and asked “why”? “Why am on I on this tiny broken ship in the middle of a hostile sea with no chance of survival, no life jacket, no anchor? Surely, I will be swallowed and others will be hurt.”  “Why have I never felt this lonely?” “Why do I feel slighted and the heaviness of injustice?” “Why do I feel completely abandoned?” “Why do I feel like a sitting duck waiting to be slaughtered.” “Why, why, why???” And in this moment- when I became completely helpless, I had no choice but to turn to the only source who would have answers. Then it came to me like a gentle nudge, “rejoice”. “Rejoice instead of becoming hopeless.” But why rejoice when everything is falling a part?

I recognized that in times of despair I seem to always have two options. Allow the difficulties I have faced to define me and engulf me or, take notes from my own history. Time and time again throughout my life I have been blessed through affliction. Most of the great things in life are hard and require overcoming. Talent is great- you either have it or you don’t but proven character is earned with blood, sweat, sacrifice, pushing the limits, falling down, getting bruises, performing consistency, and enduring over and over. Talent almost seems easy like cheating when you look at it through this lens.

I realized my own afflictions have produced endurance. The endurance that has forged my character, character that has instilled me with hope. Not a wish that gets begged into the air- but hope that comes from trusting God over and over and him never once letting me drown. What seems to be a curse or a death sentence then becomes a blessing when you are able look at affliction as an opportunity for God to show you his unwavering love.

This kind of hope makes room for joy. Anticipation of what is to come creeps in and possibilities and opportunities become bridges and doors where there were once roadblocks and frightening pitfalls. When frustration and doubt sneak their way into my mind I know it is ME- the co-creator of my life placing limitations on a limitless design. Joy then is not circumstantial. In other words, joy has not limited its accessibility to when circumstances are favorable and preferred. Rather it is conditioned like a trained muscle.

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