Faith/Spirituality, Marriage, Recovery, Relationships

It’s not you, it’s me…

July 11th, 2020 was my 28th wedding anniversary. Our 28th wedding anniversary. By the grace of God. When we were preparing to get married we did some pre-marital counseling. I don’t remember much of it, but the biggest part I don’t remember is being told that the “worse” part of “for better or for worse” is far “worse” than you can imagine it can be at that point in your relationship. Most of our marriage was what people would define as good, but there were a few years that definitely put the “worse” part into practice. I would say that we both had ample opportunity to call it a day, call us incompatible and beyond repair. At times it felt to both of us that it might be easier to just start over with someone who really “got” us or just be on our own. Either of us could have made a good case that we were in the right and often there were people around us who even encouraged such an option. Leaving would have been understandable.

But after being separated emotionally and even physically for a period, here we are, trying to find an interesting way to celebrate this milestone during a pandemic. We settled on an afternoon at a local pool and dinner out. Occasionally, I have thought about what I would say if someone were to ask us to speak about how we made it out the other side of separation, addiction and leukemia (because, you know, the opportunities are just rolling in to do so! ) . Or, more realistically, how would I answer you if we were having coffee and the subject came up. What’s the key?

close up of wedding rings on floor
Photo by Megapixelstock on Pexels.com

Was it just us sticking to our guns and gritting our teeth in the name of God, ending up together but still miserable? There is nothing God honoring about that scenario. Just to be able to say “we didn’t quit” is not enough to keep us going strong as we move forward. It can be valid for a short stent, but it is not a long term solution to a solid marriage. It’s not about winning by digging our heels in to weather the storm, it’s about continuing to thrive and embrace each other as we invest in our marriage day after day. So, what would I say to someone who asked me how we reconciled and gave “us” another shot?

There is not just one answer, but I would say that the primary way we eventually found our way back to each other was by working on ourselves. This is the exact opposite strategy we had been using the rest of our marriage. We went to countless counseling sessions in order to “fix” our marriage, which was basically an attempt to fix the other person so we could be happy. If “he would just…. Or “she would just….” Then everything would be hunky dory! We created lists and assignments about how each of us would implement changes that would satisfy the needs of the other person (if you have been married for more than say, a week, you know the list of which I speak). This ended in failure and resentment every time.

When we finally each focused on ourselves, the primary goal of any recovery group. We made progress. Instead of looking to the other person to make us happy, content and whole, we took it upon ourselves to become the kind of person that could be content and happy, content and whole regardless of what other people did or said or how they behaved. In recovery terms, that is called “detachment with love”. Separating yourself spiritually and emotionally from other people so you can think and feel and act in ways that honor who God made you to be and what He is calling you to.

“The two shall become one” is a phrase used in many a wedding and sermon regarding a married couple. Over the years, though I believe it is true at some level, I realized that I had taken this principal to the extreme. Yes, we are one, but we are also an “I”. I am accountable before God for myself alone. I can’t blame or use my spouse as an excuse to not follow God’s lead on something. I am responsible to keep my side of the street clean even if theirs seems to be a wreck. I am the only one who can make me “OK”. That’s not my spouses job. Often we ourselves are not OK and we try with earnest manipulation to make it our spouses fault.

We also would do well to remember that being “one” does not require us to take on his/her foul mood or angst or depression or illness. I can be empathetic without allowing my day/week/life to hijacked so that we are both miserable in the end. It’s OK to be OK even when they are not OK. During our time apart, I learned I that to become “one” with someone I had to bring a whole-me to the table. He cannot complete me. To put someone in that position is to make them an idol. It puts them in the place where God alone needs to be, because while my husband is a fine husband, he makes a pretty shoddy god.

When we both got serious about focusing on our own emotional and spiritual health and becoming the type of caring, selfless, confident, serving, tender, gracious, understanding, tolerant, forgiving, encouraging, interesting, loving and whole-hearted person we could be, our marriage became, well, easy (er). Any time either of us falls out of alignment by expecting the other person to meet needs that only God or ourselves can meet, it becomes hard again. Then we evaluate and observe what we have been doing that smacks of anything that does not follow what we know to work: bringing our best self to the game. That’s something that only we can do as an individual.

It took times of struggling and learning and stretching to make it sound like a good idea to stay together. If you would have told either of us two years ago that we would be content and dare I say, happy, in our marriage, we would have had gigantic doubts and I, with dramatic flare, would have rolled my eyes and said, “we’ll see.”

But here we are. After 28 years we are giving a whole new meaning to, “It’s not you. It’s me.” I am 100% the only one with who I am “till death do us part”. I am a full time job. I owe it to myself to put the work in to become the kind of person that brings every bit of who she is to my husband and accept what he has to offer as well. If I am committed to staying, It is indeed me and me alone who who can activate the changes I want to see in my marriage. The rest is up to God.

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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.

Addiction, Anxiety/Worry, awareness, Control, Faith/Spirituality, Recovery

Extraction!

I don’t usually write at 4:30 in the afternoon, but today I am a little off because I got a tooth extracted this morning. I went in at 7:00 am and left at 9:45. I have mentioned before that I am a big baby when it comes to dental work. My heart rate rises and even during the shots I am clawing the arms of the chair and my whole body is tense. It didn’t help that a kid was getting his tooth pulled in the room next to me. He was crying and wailing, which was pretty much what I was afraid might happen when they started yanking on my tooth! I wished I would have brought my headphones because the breaking and grinding was sort of making me go insane. I actually asked them to turn up the Mumford and Sons radios station that was playing. At least I could sing along in my head! The dentist was patient and luckily, strong. The roots to my tooth were so wound around the bone that the dentist had to pull on it with all her might for an hour to get it out. When the last piece finally released I thought she might do a post-touchdown dance!

All that was pretty un-fun. But here is the worst part; they don’t put my fake tooth in for 4-6 months! There is nothing there, an no, you can’t see it! I feel so “hillbilly-ish” I can hardly stand it. Apparently it has to heal or something dumb like that, then they can screw a fake tooth into the piece they just drilled in to my jaw (anyone feeling light-headed just talking about this?).

My point in all this isn’t to get sympathy (though I totally earned it!). I had to let my brain go somewhere different while I was waiting for all that to be done, so naturally I thought about how that pleasant situation could relate somehow to life. For starters, I remember a friend sharing that she had some trauma as a young woman that damaged her heart, her body and her tooth. She has been wrestling with the effects of this event for almost 20 years. Awhile ago, she finally had the damaged tooth extracted and shared with me how she used it as an opportunity to make it a symbolic extraction of not only the tooth, but all the pain, nightmares, fears, insecurities and anger that she had been battling for years. I decided to give it a shot.

I pictured God as the dentist, trying his hardest to extract the rotten, unnecessary or no longer needed defects of character out of me. I know without a doubt that even though I know it needs to happen, there is something in me that holds on to those things for dear life. I am like those roots, twisted and tight and clinging with all my might to the very things that can set me free. Relieve me of pain. Help me move on in health and lightness.

And about these defects of character…recovery rooms define them as “assets that have lost proportion.” When we get out of touch with God, listen to wrong voices, are self absorbed and egocentric, or are effected by the disease of addiction in whatever form it presents itself, we often let the very things that once served us well, morph into behaviors or thought patterns that are dangerous to ourselves and our relationships with others. Our job however, and thank God for this, is not to figure out which ones need to go and how to make them go. Our job is simply to turn them over to God and let him decide the where, when, what and how of it. This may sound lazy to some of you, but if you think you are in control of what gets removed and the rate at which it goes, you might be deceiving yourself a bit.

Giving it to God lets a great weight fall from your shoulders.

One last thing; just like the area where my tooth is missing (sigh) has to heal for several months in order for a new tooth to be installed, so do you. You have to give time time. After the old ways, the useless and sometimes harmful ways are extracted, a period of healing and preparing and regenerating needs to happen before the new can be installed in you. Enjoy that time. Rest. Recover. Be patient. Be present. Be grateful. But be ready, because he is about to do something new and beautiful in you when you are ready for it.

I promise it will be worth the wait.

Anxiety/Worry, Faith/Spirituality, Recovery

I left it in Montana

If I could go back in time and experience my life again, I know exactly where, and when, I’d go. Without a doubt, the time in my life that I felt the most free and happy was during my years in Helena, Montana. I lived there from kindergarten through 3rd grade. I lived next door, on a private lane in the mountains, to my best friend and her two brothers. When my mind goes to that time of my life, it’s not just those valuable relationships that stand out. If I had to come up with one word to defined those years it would be Play.

Sometimes I wonder if I left my creative brain in Montana. I haven’t been able to play like that since. I played with freedom and fierceness. We built forts (with real wood, hammers and nails) and learned to snow ski in the gully behind our houses-both slalom and bunny Slope. Sometimes one of us would say, “Hey, you wanna play motorcycles?”. It’s exactly what you would think; a bunch of kids running up and down the gully pretending to be riding a motorcycle (in Montana this was more of a dirt bike) with all the accompanying sound effects (I always admired how the boys could do that sound with their mouth that made is sound so authentic). We wore ourselves out until the sun went down. When Halloween came, we would pull all our candy and create a candy store in her basement, displaying the mini candy bars under plastic record player covers. We played “Bears” with our stuffed bears, dressing them in my baby sisters clothes and putting them to bed on suitcase with a pillow on top. We played light as a feather, stiff as a board, listened to the band KISS (I don’t think my mom knew that 😳), conned our brothers into eating dirt that looked like brownies, and tormented each other at sleepovers (hand in the water, shaving cream in the palm of hand with a tickle on the face, the usual). I didn’t have to work at playing and never felt an ounce of guilt for doing it.

A lot has changed since I left Montana. A lot has changed in me. I am not sure when it happened, but I lost that sense of play that used to come so naturally to me. Somehow I started following a rule and have been following it ever since: Here it is: you have to earn your play-time.

I talked about this in my blog a couple days ago. I have this voice in my head that tells me that Play is a reward or celebration of something good; closing on a house or two, losing a few pounds, my kids getting out of school (or starting school after summer break!) or having a birthday. It also tells me that I have permission to play as a consolation for or comfort for something bad; the sale of a house falls through, my kids being demanding and driving me crazy, gaining a few pounds, or, having a birthday 😜.

You get the idea. But I’ll tell you one thing for sure, it is never about play for play’s sake. Even if I schedule a fun event or vacation, I feel like I have to kick it in to gear so I can earn my right to relax. No wonder my heart has become so heavy. When life becomes about being productive and impressive and efficient, there is little room for creativity and light hearted play. And, I have found that even when I am playing, I am not really present. I am always thinking about what’s next or what just happened or grieving that my play-time is almost over (as if I won’t get another opportunity for months!).

Man, I sound messed up. But awareness is the first step toward recovery. I think I need a 12-step program designed for people who have forgotten how to have fun. Brene’ Brown, a researcher, author and speaker talks about Play being essential to living a “whole-hearted” life. She said she was perplexed and a little put-out when she interviewed who she considered to be whole-hearted people and discovered that they “fooled around” a lot. It took her some time to put a name to this frivolous “hanging out and doing fun things”. The idea was so foreign to her that she didn’t even recognize it as Play. She says “we’ve got so much to do and so little time that the idea of doing anything unrelated to the to-do list actually creates stress. We convince ourselves that playing is a waste of time…spending time doing purposeless activities is rare. In fact, for many of us it sounds like an anxiety attack waiting to happen.” Sobering words for someone who has forgotten how to play.

Reading is good. Praying is good. Meditation is good. Serving is good. Working is good. Learning is good. And so is playing. I hardly know what that looks like as a 47 year old woman, but I intend to seek God, learn from others who do it well and often, and recover my ability to play. Somewhere along the way I lost my skip, and I am determined to get it back.

Anxiety/Worry, Control, Faith/Spirituality, fear, Recovery, Trust

“Act as if”

“Easier said than done”, or in my case, “easier blogged than believed”. It’s ever so much easier for me to write about wise ways to live than it is to actually live them out in my daily life. The other day my son came in the room while I was working and asked what I was doing. I told him I was editing my book to get it ready for publication. His response? “You’re writing a book?” I told him that indeed I was and that maybe he should read a few of my blogs sometime. His next response? “I don’t need to read it. I live it.” I suggested that he go ahead and read it because my blogging self is much wiser and more put-together than the mom sitting before him.

In any case, I am embarrassed to admit how different my written responses and my natural life responses can be. Today I am choosing to do it differently. I caught myself early in the day, so thankfully, I just might be able to have a day that I don’t end up regretting by bedtime. I found myself anxious and worried about a variety of things that are not going my way (translation: things are not going the way I think they should go for those around me). I don’t understand decisions or actions that have effected or been made my people I love. And to be honest, I am sort of honked-off about it. Well, at first I was sad. I cried a little and did a lot of whimpering and whining in God’s direction (I’ll get to the part about how I am doing it different in a minute).

I’d been planning to write this morning, so this was really throwing a wrench in my plan for a lighter subject. But as usual, God uses my poor reactions and bratty behavior to help other people either avoid it for themselves or help them realize “they’re not the only one.”

So, to get to the point of how I am choosing to do it differently…
I choose to “act as if.” I will “act as if” I actually trust God and His plan. His plan for me and for those I love, and even for those I don’t like very much. I used to think that meant I was being inauthentic or fake. But I have come to understand it as a gesture of gratitude and trust.  An acknowledgement of the track record that God and I have developed. One in which he actually does take care of me. Every. Single. Time.

I can write/say that I trust that God knows the big picture and has a plan that is bigger than the details of my life. I can write/say that sometimes difficult circumstances and disappointments can lead me to maturity and growth that can be experienced in no other way. I can write/say that I can live with a sense of joy and serenity, even when my life doesn’t look like what I wish it looked like. I can write/say that I don’t have to be in control of everything and everyone in order to feel secure. But…when push comes to shove, I have to confess to you that I have spent many a day tangled up in knots of fear, worry, anxiety and despair. I forget to “act as if” all my words, whether written or spoken, are actually true.

As I said, today I choose to try a different route. One that might lead me to the peace that passes understanding. And if I practice “acting as if”  often enough, it will bridge the gap between how I want to live and how actually live. And maybe I won’t have to “act” anymore.

Brokenness, Faith/Spirituality, grace, Recovery, Relationships

What’s NOT on your calendar?

Believe it or not, I am not too old to remember myself as a college freshman. I remember that I was very young, very naive, very excited, not always right but always certain. My passion and zest for life combined with a lot of new information and education (at a bible college) was, on occasion, a recipe for a smidge of “know-it-all-ism”. But I’ll come back to that in a few paragraphs. I revered my professors and consumed books they recommended with fervor and an open spirit, ready to put into practice anything they suggested that sounded reasonable.

In one of my classes, we were assigned a book about how to manage your inner and outer world. Not only how to keep track of and stay in control of your daily schedule, but how what you did each day reflected who you were; what your outsides were saying about your insides. That’s the gist of it. I admired the author and took his suggestions to heart, applying and reflecting on the principles he outlined for a successful Christian life, marked by integrity and discipline.

Think of my shock and disappointment when, not long after we read this book for that class, it came to light that this author had been caught in an extra-marital affair. You can probably imagine the conversation among freshman bible college students who, for all practical purposes, know very little about “real life” yet. We thought we knew an awful lot though, and judged likewise. There was no understanding or compassion for that author and, due to the nature of his book topic, he set himself up to be mocked accordingly: “So, what did his daily planner look like?: 9:00 meeting 10:00 bible reading 11:30 adulterous rendezvous 1:00 lunch etc.?” We just couldn’t wrap our minds around how such duplicitousness was possible.

Fast forward 29 years. I feel like I should make a formal apology. Not because what he did was ok. But because I have seen countless times in my own life where I lived in that same duplicity. Times where I claimed, and even believed, I was walking in the light of God’s Will but was simultaneously living in flat out sin. Sometimes it was in obvious ways. Other times it was in less discernible ways, but still a blatant refusal to live an “inner life that matched my outer”.

Let’s look at it like this: I think that author, who challenged readers to ask themselves, “what’s on my calendar?”, might have been better off asking, “what’s not on my calendar?” And I think we might be better off asking the same. Maybe you can relate to what I am saying better if I use a food analogy. Whether you have dieted or not, you have probably heard that a common suggestion for people trying to lose weight is that they write down everything they eat during the day. Everything. The obvious goal is that this method will prevent you from eating junk because you know you will have to write it down and the shame of having to do that will cause you to eat fruits and vegetables instead. But the fatal flaw of human nature is that we are sneaky little things and we tend to find a loophole. When someone does snarf on a Twinkie or eat a half a bag of chips, they conveniently forget to write that down. Even when meals are planned out ahead of time, which is often suggested, rarely does someone cheating on a diet go back later and fill in the gaps with “2 Cadbury cream eggs, 11 french fries, and a glass of wine.”

The point is, maybe we should train ourselves to look regularly at what’s not on our calendar. What are the subtle ways that, in hindsight, we are undermining how we say we want to live and what we say we believe about how to go about doing so. It’s easy enough to review our day in big picture mode. But that doesn’t always highlight the details-what’s in the background. Recently, I have been working on Step 10 of a recovery program. The principle is one I think anyone could learn from: “We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.” A quote from a reading on this step points out that “the wise have always known that no one can make much of his life until self-searching becomes a regular habit, until he is able to admit and accept what he finds, and until he patiently and persistently tries to correct what is wrong.” We could prevent much suffering and heart-ache for ourselves and those we love if we would make a habit of this daily reading between the lines. What happened in the gaps, when no one was looking? Perhaps we should look for areas where we have been self-centered, jealous, prideful, judgmental, angry, vindictive, bragadocious, sharp-tongued, arrogant, unforgiving, fearful, short-tempered, or lustful. Any of these, in word or deed, are deadly. They may not kill you immediately, but over time, if they go un-checked, they will lead you to those dark, secret places that you would never write down in your day-timer or schedule as a reminder on your mobile device.

Please hear me on this. This is an opportunity for you to be honest with yourself for the sake of growth and guarding your heart. Looking back on your day can help you identify areas that you strayed from what you know to be true of who you are or want to be in your soul of souls, it is not a time set aside for self-flogging.

But hear me on this as well; if you ignore the maintenance of your soul, the rot will come. The axiom of the “slow fade” is tried and true. That author did not set out to deceive his readers. He simply ignored and avoided a regular review of the subtle seeds of envy (of someone else’s life, or wife), pride (I am above that sort of thing), and lust (meeting legitimate needs in illegitimate ways). Most people don’t set out to steal money from their employer (it started with fear, selfishness, and greed that went unchecked for too long) or physically harm or kill another person (festering rage and unresolved resentments grew too big for them to contain). You get the idea.

So I am asking you, and I ask that you ask yourself on a daily basis,

“what’s NOT on your calendar?”

Control, Recovery, Special ed pre school, Uncategorized

Never Cut Your Own Hair (from the series “Everything I Need to Know I Can Learn In Special Ed Pre-School”)

Yesterday I was reminded, yet again, that “Everything I need to know I can learn in Special Ed Pre-School.” (See previous blogs in this series). It’s a simple, and seemingly logical rule of life that all too often, one has to learn the hard way: “Never cut your own hair.” I was sitting with an adorable 4 year old, admiring her new hair style. I asked her if she had cut her own bangs. She started to say “no” and then confirmed pretty quickly that indeed, she had cut them herself. The others teacher asked, “and who is the only one who is supposed to cut your hair?”. “The barber,” she replied confidently. Clearly, she had been coached. Cutting your own hair rarely begins on ends well. I have a friend (who shall remain nameless) who cut her own hair into a mullet after a couple glasses of wine and and an Ambien. At the time, it seemed to her like a phenomenal idea and, until she woke up the next morning, she thought she looked like a rock star (In some ways, she probably did!)! I have personally never cut my own hair, but I do recall that when I was in junior high, I took it upon myself to cut my little sister’s hair. It was all one length and my friend and I decided she would look better if we cut it into a bi-level. I know I didnt’ ask my mom’s permission but as I recall, we didn’t have to hold my sister down or anything so I took that as a sign that she was open to the idea.

There are a few valuable lessons we can learn from these scenarios if we are willing. Regarding cutting your own bangs…this is an impulsive act. It’s one that’s taken with very little thought about the outcome, the consequences or even the reason behind it. This is something we do without considering if it’s the wise thing to do. Our society thrives on impulsivity. We are offended so we lash out without hesitating or considering the devastation of the aftermath. We send that text we shouldn’t have and hurt people. We flirt or flatter someone other than our spouse. We lash out at those we love or even complete strangers because we are on edge about something that has nothing to do with them. We can avoid so much needless pain for ourselves and other people if we will take a moment. “Pause, pray and proceed.” Or often, DON’T proceed.

And then there’s the mullet catastrophe. How often have we made decisions that seemed like a good idea at the time, only to regret making such decisions while in our previous state of mind. Sometimes people call or text or act when affected by alcohol and get themselves into big trouble. This is clearly a common problem since apparently there is a feature on cell phones that can prevent you from calling certain people you tend to “drunk dial”. Sadly, we are relying on a mobile device to filter out or bad decisions. But let’s say this isn’t you. Maybe consider the times you have made a rash decisions when you were angry or your feelings were hurt or you were feeling slighted in some way. Maybe you have written off a friend or a spouse because it felt right to you at the time. Often, instead of waiting until morning to decide if we actually have what it takes to sport a mullet, we make decisions when we are not in our right minds and end up with deep regrets. Getting your spirit right with God and reasoning things out with another wise human being before taking actions that could render long-term consequences will help you live in harmony with yourself and others.

And cutting someone else’s hair, well, that’s just idiotic. This is what happens when I think I know what’s best for someone else. I am quite sure this has been a problem for me since I began my “hair-cutting career” as a junior higher. I have spent way too much time trying to get other’s to live the way I think they should live. Trying to guide them in the way I think they should go, without considering that God might have a whole different plan for them. I am not All-Knowing. I don’t see what goes on in the depths of their spirit. I don’t know the circumstances God has aligned to lead them to a relationship with Him and to a life of freedom. It’s not my job to “cut their hair” and frankly, my skills are not stellar in that area.
While all of these stories made me smile, the ways I have related them to my every day life do not. I am not proud of the times I have made selfish, impulsive decisions without considering the ramifications of them. I am embarrassed of how many times I have made decisions to take actions while affected by alcohol, anger, hurt or fear. And I am fairly certain that just the other day, or maybe that was this morning, I was trying to manipulate someone into doing what I thought was best for them.

Oh, the things you can learn from a sweet little girl with quarter-inch bangs…

Growth, Patience/waiting, Recovery, Uncategorized

“I’m not fat, I’m fluffy!”

Well, maybe a better word would be “puffy”. Please refer to my previous blog entitled, “Fat-Suit” so that you can fully appreciate these follow-up thoughts. Before I was diagnosed with Leukemia, I was unfortunately mis-diagnosed with Rheumatoid arthritis. The main marker in determining this was my RA factor, which basically tells you how “puffy” or inflamed my joints are. The normal range is between 0 and 14. Mine was 842. Very NOT normal. Since I am now recovering from Leukemia, we suspect that the inflammation was due to cancer, not RA. I had my RA factor checked last week and they told me it was 142. Still not normal, but  I’d say 700 is a good drop. I called my oncologist to see if he thought this number was still high due to residual effects of Chemo. The answer: absolutely.  It turns out that my “fat-suit” isn’t actually fat after all. It’s chemicals and drugs and my bodies’ reaction to Leukemia. What wonderful news! I told the nurse that I was just getting ready to do some hard-core dieting so I could fit in my winter clothes. She told me not to worry about it because it was just going to take some time. I can’t control the rate at which I “deflate”. When I begged for a projected end to this foreign body, she said, “it’s hard to say. It’s different for every person.”

Here’s my take away: one: I, we, all have a certain amount of “inflammation” due to toxins and chemicals (sins and defects of character) that cover our “real” selves and two: we all shed this layer of foreign substance at our own pace. It’s different for every person, just like with chemo. We each have our own unique process of sloughing off the poisons that prevent us from being who God designed us to be at our core. This will take a life time for most of us. A lifetime of inflammation and deflation as we navigate, humble ourselves, surrender our will and take it back again-over and over and over. Oh-but friends…We have a patient, understanding and forgiving God, who does not give up on us or put a timeframe on our recovery. He does not wish that any of us should perish. Our soul disease is like my Leukemia: cured. But there are still remnants of it that take time and prayer to rid ourselves of. He will do it in His time. We just have to be willing to show up for the treatment and take care of ourselves in ways that promote healing. He alone can reduce the swelling in our “fluffy” and inflamed souls.