Faith/Spirituality, forgiveness, Recovery, resentment

Resentment Release Day: April 21, 2020

The stubborn resistance in me is palpable. I know that I know that I know that I need to write this down, but my insides are squirming because, well, you’ll see.

I don’t think it has taken me this long to view this situation from this perspective because it wasn’t obvious before now. It took me this long because I was in no way willing to view it in any way that might cause me to release my resentment over what happened. God has been prying it out of my hands for 8 years now, and yesterday, as I sat quarantined on my couch staring at the snow, in April, my weak, clinging fingers gave up their grasp. I gave it up and became open to seeing it from God’s point of view. From a compassionate point of view. From a “we’re all in this together” point of view, like I say when I stamp my autograph and tag line on most any book I sign.

So-Here is the gist. Sorry ahead of time if it sounds like a poorly written 70’s Soap Opera. It will be hard to tell without specifics, but hopefully it is enough to help you see what took me almost a decade. I have mentioned before that there has been a good amount of drama/trauma in my life. It didn’t start with Leukemia. That was just the icing on the cake. And I mean that sincerely. The emotional turmoil that came as a result of my husband’s mental health struggles and prescription pill abuse, as well as the reaction to it by some in our lives, including friends and some in our church, was a type of cancer that almost killed my soul long before it Leukemia threatened to kill my body.The betrayal and loss was all-consuming. I had to work through mounds of hurt, sorrow, anger and even hate all day, everyday, for months. It gradually became less intense, but was still there, lingering, and could be triggered at the very sight of anyone from my “past” life. I lived in constant fear of seeing someone I felt had betrayed me or my family. When I walked in stores and restaurants I would scan the scene for “mean people” to determine if I might need to turn and run. I have, ashamedly, “ran” more times than I can count. If someone forced me to repeat one of those 2 eras, I would choose Leukemia in a heartbeat.

One particularly painful thing that happened was that, seemingly, some of my friends who did not previously seem to have relationship with each other, became close. based on shared anger. At least that’s how I have been choosing to view it. They were not friends, but now (at least this is how I imagined it in my head) they could get together talk trash about my family and bond. Who knows if that is actually the reason, but what I do know is that they stopped talking to me at all. I have been silently and not so silently furious and in softer words, sad and hurt about it ever since. I have clenched my fists and “set my heart like flint” as I squeezed the scrawny neck of this resentment with all the self-righteousness and unforgiveness I could muster. A couple of times my husband has made the mistake of suggesting that for my own mental health and sanity (and quite possibly, his ) I “let it go”…the nerve!

Like I said, God has been wrestling this away from me for years, and the other day, He finally won. I am not saying that I feel led to set up a play date with any of those people, but the revelation (and I am sure you are way ahead of me, but I can be pretty stubborn when I don’t want to do something) was this: Maybe their friendship was not based on a common thread of hate. Maybe, just maybe, it was based on a common thread of suffering.

And that is something I can understand. When I am hurt, I want to walk through it with others who hurt like me.

Maybe they didn’t like each other at all before (I don’t truly know). And maybe they were very different in many other ways. But, their common pain leveled the playing field. That is the entire premise of the “Recovery Community.” In a fellowship I belong to, our closing says, “though you may not like all of us, you’ll love us in a special way, the same way we already love you.” We say that because we are there for one purpose and one purpose only. All other identifiers go out the window at that point. Politics, religion, and personal preferences are set aside so we can help each other work through the same-suffering.

When I had cancer, I became friends with others who had the same kind of cancer. They knew exactly what I was going through. I didn’t have to explain anything to them, because they already knew. I still don’t know what their views are on much else. What I needed at the time was someone to walk through my pain and understand me in a way no one else could. We looked for the places we were the same instead of focusing on our differences.

This new perspective, and my willingness to extend it to people in my past, feels good and bad. I am glad to see it from a less angry and sometimes psycho perspective, but it also feels a little strange. It’s a monster I have been nurturing for a long time. I’ll have to remind myself not to feed it anymore.

I pray that if you are feeding such a creature, that today you can “let it go”, too. Let it out. Remind yourself that we are all wounded in some way, and sometimes we injure others while trying to process and manage our wounds. Let us not take things personal that have nothing to do with us. Maybe choose to extend grace and compassion to someone who you have felt hurt by. Remember that our brokenness binds us together in unique ways. Especially today, remember that.

Faith/Spirituality, forgiveness

“Gimme some-whole-ness”

It’s probably not a coincidence that I came up with an idea to write a blog on “unwholesome talk” while I was running (or trying to run) on a treadmill. Remember how in my book I talk about how the doctors made a note on my medical chart that says “she runs marathons”? Well, I did run two half marathons right before I got Leukemia but haven’t run since. Thus the “unwholesome talk” blog epiphany. It wasn’t like I was letting the profanity fly or anything, but I was definitely abusing myself mentally and verbally: “What is wrong with me?” “Everyone else is running — I’m so out of shape!” “That girl next to me is just showing off!” “I’ll never be as fast or thin as her, and she looks about 10 years older than me!”. You get the idea.

blog---positive-talk

There is a biblical principle in Ephesians 4:29 warning us to “not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful…that it may benefit those who listen.” Well guess what, I was listening to myself and it was not helpful at all. I used to think this verse was mostly addressing flat out cussing or mean-speech and potentially some pretty dirty and outright judgmental gossip. But that’s just the obvious stuff. Most people, even those who don’t really have a commitment to living like Jesus asks us to, believe that kind of talk is detrimental to all involved. It’s that sneaky self-talk that we tend to accept without challenge.

The synonyms for “unwholesome” help me understand the damage this kind of talk can bring about: destructive, damaging, poisonous, harmful, ruinous, injurious, un-nourishing. On the contrary, “wholesome” is defined as conducive or valuable to our physical, mental or moral well-being. And I would add our spiritual well-being as well. You have heard of the golden rule (which also originates from God’s plan for how we should love each other in Matthew 22:39): Love your neighbor/others as you love yourself. The problem is, most of us do.

When we are cruel, critical, judgmental and harsh with others, it is most likely because we are cruel, critical, judgmental and harsh on ourselves. Our self-talk is “unwholesome”. Practically, this means I have to keep my thoughts and words in check, mostly when I am frustrated or disappointed in myself.

I need to catch and redirect phrases like “I am such an idiot!”, “I’ll never be able to ….”, “I am always screwing that up”, “I can’t seem to remember anything or keep details straight” (that’s one of my favorites-I try to blame the Chemo but apparently Leukemia chemo doesn’t have that side effect. Whatever), or “I will never be __________ enough”.

The kind of talk I participate in with and about others starts with how I talk to myself.  I have to ask myself if my silent and out-loud words bring “some-whole-ness” to my life? If the answer is yes, then I am on the right track and it will be much more natural for me to bring “some-whole-ness” to others when I open my mouth. As usual, if I want to bring love, joy, peace and happiness the world around me, it has to begin with me taking tender, thoughtful and gracious care of myself. My wholesome talk has to start with me.

Buy the Soul Selfie book

Sign up to receive Soul Selfie updates by email

 

Control, Faith/Spirituality, forgiveness, grace

A huge mistake! (Followed by “God is my refuge”)

I have been reading through my book to collect quotes for my Soul-Selfettes (posted on Instagram and FB in between full blog posts). And it happened, one of my worst fears came true. I found a HUGE mistake! I haven’t actually read my book in book form yet because I was afraid of this exact thing! Spelling and grammar are the worst culprits, but this one was even worse. I  wrote a blog in May 2015 and quoted myself from an earlier blog I wrote on April 21st. Only I couldn’t remember reading that entry in the book. When I looked back, I was horrified to realize it wasn’t in there!!! Seriously, what are the odds that the ONE blog that gets left out is the one I refer to and quote from an entry a month later? Slim my friends. Slim. So, anyway, now that I have recovered from being thoroughly annoyed with myself, I thought I’d re-post. If you have the book, just prints and stick in it’s chronological home. Humor me. 😜

 

April 21, 2015    God is my refuge

I spent yesterday weeding through all the things that have accumulated in my house over the past two months. It was a pretty big task and A LOT of decisions about where to put things. I haven’t had to make any “every day” decisions for a very long time. My brain hurt. One of the blessings of sorting through cards and gifts and lotions etc. was that I was able to read through some special notes people have given us. Warmed my heart all over again. One letter I found, though, was a note to Blake that someone ( thank you, friend, if you are reading this) had written to him soon after he left Hope. It was a letter and with it there was a poem. It was called: REFUGEE. I have always heard God referred to as a REFUGE, but never put two and two together (it’s a problem that plagues me) and realized that if He is my REFUGE, than I am the REFUGEE. Psalm 46:1 says, “God is our REFUGE and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear.” Just to clarify, a REFUGE is defined as “Shelter that provides protection from danger or distress. ” A REFUGEE is defined as “a person who flees TO a POWER to escape danger…” . No one FLEES to a country or a power who is more dangerous or harmful than the enemy they are running from. It has to be a destination guaranteed to protect and defend to make it worth the risk of fleeing. Yet I seem to do this all the time. I tend to forget that people, places and things are not powerful enough to provide me with a “shelter to provide protection from danger and distress.” Only God is loving enough. Big enough. Wise enough. I love the response in Psalm 46 when the Psalmist has reflected on how powerful and magnificent God is..He/She says, OH! CLAP YOUR HANDS, ALL YOU PEOPLE!!!! Celebrate and rejoice. God is your REFUGE.

The final lines from our friend’s poem say:

There, the sky is near as near can be, and we are not afraid to ask:

“If you will be my REFUGE Lord,

Then shall I be your REFUGEE?”

Faith/Spirituality, forgiveness

Jesus’ “birthday month”

I have a dear friend whose husband celebrates (and semi-requires his family to celebrate) his birthday, not just on his special day, but all month long. “His birthday month starts today,” my friend will inform me. It’s a busy time for everyone involved. Even though other activities occur out of necessity during that month, there is an over-arching theme that permeates each day’s responsibilities: the celebration of his birth and his existence in every regard. My friend is a good woman so even though she occasionally rolls her eyes, she cooperates and engages with what I would say, a pretty positive attitude.

I thought of this as I was doing my pre-Christmas-day reading. The book has dated readings and I started to panic a little when I realized I was on day 4 already! Every time I read it I will know exactly how many days (read: days to shop and get everything mailed and send out Christmas cards and bake cookies) are left until “the” day arrives. We all know Christmas isn’t just about the 24th and 25th of December. Advent, the time of preparation for Jesus’ birth, starts December 1st (and the bustle of Christmas in the retail world starts about a month before that!).

Jesus gets a birthday month…just like my friend’s husband. But I have to say, that even though it’s Jesus’ birthday, I have a natural inclination to make it about me. Let’s just take a minute to pretend that my friend treated her husband the way I treat Jesus during his birthday month. How honored will her husband feel if she regularly complains about the hassle of decorating or planning for or shopping for his party? Will her kids and family sense her love for them if she is cranky and short-tempered because this birthday thing is just getting to be a bit much? Will her actions and words during this month draw people into wishing they knew this amazing man who she has carved out her precious time to celebrate? Would her husband feel blessed and cared for if she didn’t do or buy anything she knew he really loved during this time, only doing what was fun and easy for her?

Does the God of the universe, who came to earth as a tiny baby so I could be free from sin and shame and loneliness and hopelessness, really “feel the love” from me during his birthday month? Have I been whining and complaining about decorating for Christmas? (Yes) Have I chosen to give him what he truly wants (forgiveness and grace and compassion extended to others) rather than what is fun or easy for me? Does my attitude about the Christmas season (Jesus’ birthday month) reflect well on him? Will others want to celebrate him also because of how I honor him with my words and actions? Have I made his birthday a month about me and mine rather than making him the common thread that runs through the Christmas carols, Christmas programs,  Christmas movies, Christmas presents, Christmas dinner and Christmas clean-up?

So, just a couple thoughts as you scurry through the next few weeks. First off, no, you cannot declare that you too shall have “birthday month”, because that sounds like a phenomenal idea to you. Second-we’re only 4 days in, so it’s not too late to start the party. Start putting your focus where (on whom) it belongs. Start doing the things Jesus likes because after all, it’s his birthday month. Start being mindful of how much you love him and acknowledge your gratitude for his unconditional love and selfless sacrifice. Start forgiving mean people who have hurt you on purpose or on accident. Start smiling. Stop complaining.

Stop waiting for Christmas to be over

(blog on that topic coming soon…)

**This is dedicated to my friend’s husband who shall remain nameless unless of course you helped him celebrate his birthday last month 😉

Faith/Spirituality, forgiveness, grace, Relationships, resentment

Turbo resentments

I am a spontaneous person. That is sometimes good. Sometimes not so good. When I write, it is a little of both. As a general rule, I sit on my couch in the morning, praying and reading and listening to what God is directing me to write about. It is usually more than obvious. Once in awhile I have ideas as I am going through the rest of my day. I have a notebook that I grab and jot down the basics and save it for a future date. Then, when I experience that topic in some way, I go to my notes, pull it up and expand on it. Today is one of those days. My notes were written down awhile ago, but yesterday, a conversation with a friend brought it to my mind so I feel like the time has come to put it on “paper”. I am pretty sure it’s just a coincidence that most of the topics I have “saved for a later date” are ones that involve embarrassing stories about how I think or what I have said or done in the past…

It will come as no surprise to you that I struggle on occasion with resentments and forgiveness. I may have mentioned it once or twice in previous blogs. But about a month ago, I discovered a special, new kind of resentment. I have even coined a name for it: Turbo Resentment. Let me tell you about how I realized I harbored a couple of them.

I am a realtor, so I was driving through a small town showing houses. There happen to be a few people from this town who I have felt especially hurt and betrayed by. I have done quite a bit of work to forgive them and release my anger regarding the events that happened. I truly though I was doing ok with this. I hadn’t thought about any of it for a long time, until I drove through their town. Near there houses. Past places we used to go together. It all came flooding in and I had this very rational thought: “I hate this town.” Yep. The whole town. I pray you don’t live there. I was ready to write off the whole community based on the pain I felt just driving through it. I called my husband, because even though I felt wound up, I also found it semi-comical that was holding onto to so much unforgiveness that I was incorporating an entire town in the offenses. I told him about how I was feeling and that I was aware it was pretty messed up. And then, I saw the car. There is a certain car that one of those offenders drives that when I see one, I think, “I truly hate red hyundais” (that’s actually the kind of car I drive-the name of the actual car has been changed for obvious reasons). I called my husband back and told him that by the way, I also hate this type of car. He told me that I may have a problem. I concur.

These are a couple examples of Turbo Resentments. Do you have any of your own, or am I the only weirdo out there? Have you ever avoided a restaurant because that’s where so and so works or where you used to go together before they hurt you? So much of what we experience is wound up in other people. Either good memories or bad ones can be connected to everyday objects, sounds or smells (see blog on “Smells ring bells”). Do you feel angry when you hear that certain song, reminding you of how a relationship that was significant ended in betrayal? Do you hate a particular cologne or perfume because a friend who became your enemy wore it? Do you transfer your disgust to perfect strangers when they exhibit the same character defects as your ex?

Our strong and usually unreasonable reaction to neutral people, places and things is a sign that we might not be as “free” as we thought we were. Maybe we only think we have forgiven because we aren’t in regular contact with them. We think we are fine until we start sweating and feel our heart rate rise when we are triggered by something random that takes us back to the source of the pain. We realize there are clearly remnants, the sludge of the grudge, lurking in our hearts. Even though you, and I, don’t recognize on a regular basis, it effects our serenity. Our ability to be free. To move forward in peace with ourselves and with others.

I have said this before but it bears repeating, “forgiveness is no favor. We do it for no one but ourselves.” If we want to be free of bitterness and underlying anger, we have to forgive fully. Root it all out. I truly believe that it is not an option to hate people. It is a complete anti-god state of mind. I never allow my kids to say hate about anyone. i barely let them say it about food or the like. That’s how much I hate the word hate. But, somehow I have let myself off the hook about hating towns and cars. That somehow seems acceptable. But lets face it, we all know it’s just a cover up for hating the actual people. It’s just not OK with me to hate people, so I hate where they live and what they drive instead. Somehow, I don’t think God sees them as all that different, and my heart still suffers from the same angst.

Living with resentments is hard enough. Harmful enough. Detrimental enough. But if you aren’t feeling the freedom that comes with forgiving those you feel hurt by, maybe you are nursing some Turbo Resentments. Take a look at that today. Maybe it’s never occurred to you that you are still in bondage them.

Don’t hate me (or my city or my car) for bringing this to your attention 😉