Category Archives: Lessons Learned

The Darkness that Brings Hope

trialsAnother year and another “annual” post. I do love writing but it is not a priority right now. I happened upon my site (Thanks, Facebook memories) and read my post from last December and was reminded of things learned and things forgotten. Sure would be nice if once you learned something it was just part of who you are and you never had to re-learn it again. Apparently that’s not me so I find myself going through more learning. Lucky me, lol.

Life has hard lessons and they seem to find me quite often. I told my best friend not too long ago that I was so over being able to identify with others because that meant going through hard stuff over and over again. And yet, here I am again. However, being alive on this earth for 49 years in a place that is not “my home” will always have me saying, “It’s not supposed to be like this.” Anyone else?

I will say that through it all one thing has NEVER changed. God was with me every single minute. Bethel Music’s rendition of It Is Well says, “Through it all my eyes are on You. Through it all it is well.” This has proven to be true in my experience.

So just in case you need someone that truly understands where you are or what you’re going through I can relate with… depression, death of a family member, death of a close friend, miscarriage, loneliness, divorce, food addiction, anorexia, bulimia (because I also have issues making up my mind), parenting (enough said, right??), alcoholism, losing a job, betrayal by a friend, poverty, rejection, emotional abuse, suicidal thoughts, breast cancer scare, bullying, sexual abuse, pornography, drug addiction, physical abuse, and probably some I’m forgetting. Before anyone starts assuming when and where I experienced all that, this is over a 49 year life. No one person or event was responsible, some I walked through with a close friend, and many were of my own doing.

Reading those may seem depressing but honestly today I feel hope. Could be the sunshine after raining three days. Could be the fact I was able to exercise and get some endorphins flowing. But I know that in James 1:2-3 the bible says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” I can attest to the fact that the product of going through hard stuff brings perseverance which leads to hope. It also brings strength and courage like no other experience can. The strongest people I know have the hardest stories to tell. Don’t assume you know someone based on their “today”. Everyone has a story to tell and if you slow down enough to talk to them you might even learn something about yourself.

So this year I’m rounding out my “trials” with hope and thanksgiving. Not because I was thankful when I was going through them, but thankful that I’m not the person I was before I did… And hope that the person I am today is a much better person than before.

Merry Christmas and love to you all.

 

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. :)

Turning Around

texasFor those of you in cold climates, you might not understand the significance of what I’m about to write. This morning it was cold in Houston. And by cold… I mean BRRRRRR. Cold. Well, I am a Texan, so it may not have seemed that cold to some…but to me, it was cold. Arctic.  OK, well, maybe not that cold.

Anyway, I got dressed for work and was out the door on time. (Unlike yesterday.) Making a quick stop to get gas, I jumped out to fill up the tank and a gust of cold air blew through me. It.Was.Freezing. Had I dressed appropriately, it probably would not have seemed so cold. But when you decide to wear a lace top (um, did I mention I grew up in Texas?), it’s cold.  After getting the pump going, I got back into the warmth of my car. I sat there trying to decide whether or not I should risk being late to go home and actually dress for the weather.

At 47, you would think I could see the temperature on my phone and dress accordingly. You would think. But as a Texan,  in the back of my mind I’m always thinking it’s going to warm up, and then I’ll be hot. Even when the weather app says otherwise.

Isn’t that like my life, though? God gives me this amazing book that tells me exactly how to dress in Ephesians 6 –

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God,so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Yes, I’ve read that passage many times and have heard it even more. But do I really “dress for the weather”? The spiritual weather.

There are spiritual forces. Ones fighting for those who have asked Jesus into their hearts and ones fighting against those who have asked Jesus into their hearts. It may appear to be a person, a group, or a string of bad luck.

Satan wants Christians to believe that we’ve blown it. That we couldn’t possibly be used by God to do great things. Such a lie. But a lie I believe all the time. Because I do blow it. We all do, because we are human.

Fortunately this morning, I decided to go back.

Ten minutes later, I was wearing clothing that fit the cold weather, not something that would have been great for “cool” weather. And right now I’m thankful I did…because it’s still cold outside. Even with all the sunshine.

I need to remember to go back in the mornings and put on my spiritual armor, too.  It’s much easier to do, since I don’t actually have to turn around… except in my mind. But too often, I do not.

God would not have told us about armor if we didn’t need it. And without it we are left in the cold. Open for things and people to “blow through” us.  His laws are always to protect His people. Always.