Second Chances

second-chanceThere’s something about giving someone a second chance… especially when they don’t deserve it. It’s basically grace in action. It seems to go against our human nature. We tend to want to protect ourselves, or maybe that’s just me. Sometimes I feel giving someone a second chance means the other person gets off “free”. And they do, in a way, but it also frees my heart.

There’s also something about being on the receiving end of getting a second chance. It could be one of the most humbling experiences as a human I’ve known. Knowing you royally messed up and the very one you hurt gives you a second chance. It’s like new life breathed in dark places.  Grace upon grace.  Something so undeserved, yet given. The best way to honor a second chance given is to learn from the first mistake so it’s not made again. Learning usually means pain for me. Probably because I can be a bit stubborn and it takes more for me to learn than most. One of these years I’m hoping to actually learn something the FIRST TIME. That would be nice, for a change.

Going into the Christmas season I’m reminded that my Savior not only gives me a second chance, but chances upon chances. His love never changes. I’ve just got to trust in Him. Trust his heart even when it feels scary. Choosing to react out of trust instead of reacting out of my pride. (Such a hard thing to do.)

Um, hi?

changeSo… apparently I have not written since Nov. of 2014. The December one doesn’t count because I was just sharing a video. It’s September of 2015. Um, yeah… I just don’t know.

Now that I have that taken care of… I thought I’d pop in and document a little of what God has been doing. Because, of course, He IS doing stuff. All.The.Time. I love this about Him, I really do. Sometimes the stuff is hard and that’s what He’s been doing over the past 10 months. This could also explain the 10 months of quiet. And possibly the additional weight, because I tend to eat when things are hard. That could be a post all its’ own. But now I hear Krispy Kream will be opening two locations in Houston, so there’s that.

Anyway, I started a 24 week class called Faithwalking 201. Every other Monday the group met together and every week we “met” with our assigned coach via google. If you have ever been in any kind of 12 Step program, the coach is exactly like a sponsor. My Alanon sponsor moved a few years ago and I haven’t asked anyone else, so having a coach was great for me. In fact, accountability has never proven to be a poor choice for me. Plus, my coach was awesome!

There were several things I learned, and I am still learning, about why I do the things I do.  Having been through LOTS of study and counseling of who I am both in the Christian realm and through Alanon,  I had my doubts about participating in Faithwalking (FW). (I mean, really… in my head I kept saying, “I already dealt with all that stuff!”)  I have to say, though, FW201 helped me figure out how all my “character flaws” (Alanon)/ “vows” (FW) are related: I have never felt good enough. Ever. Well, since elementary school. Gah! Yes, I know in my mind all the things God says about me. I have memorized verses that talk about his love towards me, how I’m forgiven, how I’m cleansed through Jesus, etc. I have two amazing parents who not only taught me these things, but showed me by how they lived their lives. I’ve completed bible studies on the subject. I’ve even counseled others. But here’s the thing – when I was little I internalized something (a lie) and told myself I wasn’t good enough. Several events happened, which reinforced the lie, so it parked in my heart. And from then on I tried coping with that lie by being a people pleaser, perfectionist, and ridiculously competitive. It was an attempt to try and feel good enough. I made good grades, excelled at the extra-curricular activities I was in, could pretty much get along with anyone, did well at work, kept my spaces clean/tidy, etc. These things, in and of themselves, are not bad. But it is the reason I did these things (to “earn” value) that ended up being unhealthy for me.

Because I was trying to earn my value, I allowed bad behavior in relationships because I honestly felt I wasn’t good enough for the relationship anyway, so… yeah. Also, following the rules was imperative in my world and I’ve pretty much done that all my life. (OK, so maybe a “few” things I haven’t followed the rules on. Or more. But mainly… you get the point. Let’s not dwell on that right now. Ha.) I have also judged others based on their lack of rule following.  I have also expected things to go “right” if I did follow the rules.  As you and I both know, life is not fair and “following the rules” does not guarantee the conclusion you want. Unfortunately. Hard lesson.

As a competitive, people pleasing perfectionist (that’s a mouthful), I have hurt people. Sometimes it sounded like putting someone else down to briefly feel better about myself. At times it looked like agreeing, even when I did not agree, because I did not think my opinion held value. Sometimes it looked like “one – upping” on a project or activity.  It also took the form of being angry while playing sports or games or pretty much anything where there is a known winner and loser. Even if I didn’t show it outwardly (which I did quite often), it was in my heart. Activities that were meant to be fun were not. In fact, I would not try something unless I thought I would be good at it -and by good at it, I mean win or be the best.  And I have expected things from others that they are not able to give.

These coping mechanisms (people pleasing, perfectionism & being competitive) have not served me well over the past 47 years. But here is the GREAT news… as Dr. Phil says… you can’t change what you don’t acknowledge. For years I could not (or would not) acknowledge my people pleasing, perfectionism or the fact I felt the need to compete with every.single.person.on.the.planet did harm to anyone but myself. Inside I knew I didn’t like those traits about myself, but never realized those things could be changed.

Knowing the reason I started all that craziness, brings so much hope. Hope, because that means I can change. I can encourage and applaud those better than me without feeling less. In fact, doing that for others has actually increased my self-esteem. I can let go of the competition, knowing we are all created equally. I can let cars in front of me instead of having to be first. I can play games and have fun even if I lose. I no longer need to avoid social situations because I don’t feel good enough or pretty enough or smart enough… or any of the enoughs. I am enough because God says I am. I can share my opinion and even survive conflict (gasp) without my whole world crumbling. Obviously, these are all things in progress, so don’t read this thinking I’ve gotten it all together because I haven’t. Not even close. I’m sure my kids would agree. 😉

Acknowledging and changing are two very distant cousins…but they are related. More hope, just in case you needed it. :) Because here’s the truth: we ALL have SOMETHING. Some lie we have internalized and along with that lie, another lie which tells us that’s just who we are. That people can either “take us as we are or get out of our lives”. This is not true. God is in the business of changing us so we are able to serve him and honor him with our lives. He is willing to bring up all the yuck to get to the good stuff…if we will let him.

Isn’t it so great to know a God who loves you enough to show you your faults? Not to shame or guilt you, but so you can be FREE? Seriously, that is some kind of love.  I was just telling my kids a few nights ago that I have rules for them BECAUSE I love them. It’s the same way in friendships. I confront because I love, not because I don’t. It’s almost always difficult to be on the receiving end, but it can also change your life for the better if you allow it.

Once you start learning to live without the lie you’ve believed for years, replacing it with something true is vital.  Now when the lie runs through my head I remind myself of my 3 new truths: I am strong, I am courageous, and I am adored by the One that matters. These are true for you, too.

OH…and just in case I don’t write again for awhile (because obviously this post is long enough for several posts – hope you had some caffeine)…

Happy Halloween
Happy Thanksgiving
Merry Christmas
Happy New Year

Just kidding.

Maybe. :)

The Power of a Song

Last Christmas a friend posted the song below on her Facebook page. My kids were gone for a few days and I was scrolling through my feed to pass time. That’s when I came across the true power of a song. It literally changed Christmas last year from a sad, lonely time to one of worship.

This year I’m starting with this song, in hopes that December will be filled with all things Christ. Because He is literally my everything.

My journey through life