Don’t fade away

The people in the pictures began to fade when the future started to change.
Your future, the one where you live life in the right lane, shouldn’t fade. It should be vibrant, and clear.
When you value yourself, know who you are and what you’re worth, you won’t fade.
VALUE: 
the regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth, or usefulness of something.

We are all VALUABLE.  

Unfortunately, our value has the ability to disintegrate over time, if we let it.

Our value decreases when we don’t stand up for what we believe in, and for who we are.

Our value decreases when we lose sight of where we are, where we want to go, and what we accept instead.

Our value decreases when we go along with things we aren’t comfortable with, hoping that the risk of pain isn’t real.  We hope for the best, and we place our value on a platter.

What you place on the platter can either be cherished or used. It can be appreciated or dismissed. It can be sharpened or it can become dull.

If you value yourself, others will value you.

If your value depends on others, you’ll always be left expecting more.

I’ve recently discovered that my value was determined when I was created. It took me a long time to see it, but it’s always been there. Sometimes, actually several times, I left it on the platter. I didn’t know it was mine. I thought it belonged to the people who gathered around it.

The day I realized it was mine, I adored it. Cherished it. Treated it (myself) differently.

I know it will never fade the way it did in the picture.

It has been with me from the beginning even though I was unaware. It will stay with me until I leave this world and enter eternity.

Vibrant and Clear.

 

 

 

It wasn’t me

Do you think he regrets it? Throwing it all away?

She struggled for a long time, trying to figure out how he could leave.  Leave his kids, his family, his normal life.

Looking in the mirror, after years of seeing the rejection, she finally saw someone else looking back at her.  She saw words on her face that faded as they registered in her mind.

Memories flooded in… words written in lipstick on the bathroom mirror… she didn’t wear lipstick, so whose lipstick was it?… when could someone have been here?… It must’ve been written when he was home during that weekend camping trip she took with her friends… phone numbers written on small pieces of paper in his car… why wouldn’t he throw these away?… “hello? who is this? have you spoken to _____? Yes? This is his wife”… Dinner is ready, on the table, where is he? Endless phone calls that rang straight to voicemail, again… cleared internet histories… guilt became the face he wore, daily.  Denial was his reality.

She asked him these questions, daily, for two years.  She tried to believe the lies, even though her gut told her otherwise.  Her gut became her worst enemy.  The last day of that two years, stuck on the floor, face down on the bathroom floor, she was drowning.  She could hear the kids breaking things in the kitchen, spilling drinks on the carpet, wrecking the house.  Her body was done.  Her mind was gone. Her gut won.

He walked in the door, two hours after dinner was placed on the table.

“Where is your mom?”

“What happened in here?”

“Why is there chocolate pudding all over the couch and all the way down the hall?”

“WHAT IS GOING ON???”

She heard banging on the door above her head.  “OPEN THE DOOR!” Bang. Bang. Bang. “OPEN THE DOOR!!!!” She closed her eyes until the noises stopped.  She wanted the world to stop.

The next day, she decided she would make a call.  The insanity had to stop.  If he wouldn’t tell her the truth, maybe he would tell someone he respected.

A meeting was made.

He told all.  Her gut was right. It was over.

Ten years later, the struggle behind her, as she looked in the mirror again, her mind whispered – “It wasn’t you.” 

Her rejected self, and the words on the face she saw in the mirror… faded.

His choices were made on his own. It was his free will. It wasn’t supposed to be that way, but it was his choice.

… It wasn’t me.

 

 

 

“Far From Home” (the new Spider-Man movie)

“I don’t think Tony would’ve done what he did if he didn’t know that you were going to be here after he was gone.”

This line was a revelation for me.  Tony Stark sacrificed his life to save the world because he knew that he could trust Spider-Man to carry on the legacy.

Someone else I know made a similar sacrifice.

Here is the revelation I experienced in that moment, at the movie theater when I heard that line: He chose me, and many others, because He trusted us to carry on His legacy –  to love people, and to tell them about His love for them.

The realization that God chose me for this, made me feel like an Olympic relay race runner who has just been handed the baton.

Tony Stark saw something in Spider-Man that told him he could go, and the rest of the plan would work out. He trusted him to carry on his legacy.

Spider-Man struggled.  He didn’t believe that he could live up to what Iron Man did.  He also didn’t want to leave his “normal” life behind.

Again, I can relate.  It is a daily struggle to do the right thing, and not do the wrong thing.  To swim against the flow, to stand for what I have been called to.  To miss out on things that the world takes part in, things that look fun and harmless, until the long-term consequences creep back up in my memories and remind me of all the reasons they are harmful.  Rules were created for our own protection.  Parents do not allow their children to play in the street so that they won’t get hit by a car.  God provides rules for the same reason – so we won’t get hurt.

Back to the movie, there is another character who has traits that remind me of someone…

The bad guy.  He convinces Spider-Man that he was a more suitable replacement for Iron Man.  Spider-Man didn’t even realize that he had been deceived until several scenes later.  The bad guy I know does the same thing. Constantly. The more good we do, the more people we love, the harder the devil tries to dismantle our efforts.  His goal is to destroy us, and to win us over to the dark side.  He tells us we are worthless.  He encourages us to fear rejection, and he tries to make us give up on everything.

I am thankful that the battle has already been won.  I just need to remember that when I feel like I’m still in the battle.  The devil does not have any weapons that can defeat God.

The bad guy in the movie was discovered, just in time.  As always.

It was a great movie.  I hope I didn’t ruin it for you.  Go see it if you haven’t left already!

 

 

Happiness…

People look at me funny these days.  They can’t figure me out.  I kinda like it. Makes me feel mysterious.  I’m not hiding anything, usually.  (ha ha, just kidding). The only things I hide are my thoughts, sometimes.  The conversations I have with myself, healthy ones, where the thoughts make me giggle.

There was a time in my life where I relied on other people to provide my happiness. It was treacherous.  Unreliable. Messy.

I was in pieces.  The pieces were everywhere, with everyone.  The way people treated me determined how I felt. Never whole, always fragmented.

If I were my Raggedy Ann doll, my hair would’ve been frayed, my clothes ripped, dirty, and hanging off of me.  That doll would go anywhere, and do anything to be accepted.

Looking in the mirror, I was missing parts. I lent them out to people who I thought would love me.  They never did.

Eventually, I stopped looking in the mirror.

Until recently.

I took them back.  All of my pieces, frayed hair, ripped clothes, lost parts.  I walked back through the moments, stood boldly, wore my newfound confidence, and… just… took them back.  Amazingly, I did not experience any conflict.  No one fought me.

Once everything was back in its place, I tiptoed toward the mirror.  I popped my head into just the corner of the mirror, and then my whole face, neck, torso, arms, legs, feet…. It was all there.  Whole.

I breathed in every piece, filled my lungs with, um, happiness? Peace? Whatever it is, it felt amazing.

Miraculously, instantly, I realized that I no longer had to rely on other people to feel true happiness.

Everything I need to be happy is inside of me.

I went on a long journey to figure this out.

The road was paved with pain, heartbreak, defeat, and suffering.  Until… I surrendered.

I left it all behind.

Now, the road is paved with strength, peace, wholeness that I see in the mirror, and happiness.

True happiness that wells up and bursts out of me.

It causes me to smile more often.  I used to smile out of obligation, or as a learned response.  Now, I smile first, because I don’t mind if it’s not returned.  I smile because it makes me feel good to smile.  I like how it can transform people.  It is contagious.

Sometimes, I even smile when someone looks angry, just in case it will break through their unhappiness.

I smile because I know that I won’t run out of them.  An endless love flows out over me, from a creator that made me on purpose.

Unique. Just the way I am.  For a specific purpose.

I haven’t figured out what the exact purpose is yet.  I’m learning that everything that has happened along the way has shaped me.  I’m eager to fall in to that purpose, but I am waiting patiently for clarity.

I’ll keep being mysterious.  I like it.

Emotionally healthy.

Has a nice ring to it.

Happiness…

 

 

Breaking free

I’ve been told recently, by two people whom I value, that you cannot release someone from your anger if you are not ready and willing to reconcile the relationship.  I passionately disagreed with both of them.  Here is why… I refuse.

I refuse to open my heart to the hurt that would come rushing in if the relationship was allowed back in.  The Hoover Dam would burst, and the pain would drown me.

I know this sounds dramatic, so I will elaborate.

Every year, for forty three years, I have attempted to make sense of this.  Yes, even as an infant, it was confusing to me.  I do not have evidence of hearing the yelling or feeling the pain from inside my mother’s womb, but I will argue that I remember.

If there was joy, it was temporary.  The main emotion was fear.

We were slaves to it.  It controlled us.  It became us.

Never knowing what to expect, we tiptoed.  We pleased.  We became who he wanted us to be.  Until who he wanted us to be changed.  And then, the new expectation, and then it changed again.

As I write this, I finally see it as a disease.  I see that he was controlled by an unknown.  He knew what he wanted us to be, and how he wanted us to act, and what he needed to do to control us.  And then, it changed.  So, he demanded new actions, and new expectations.  And then, it changed again.

One day, when my mom found courage within us, the three of us, she escaped.  We were free from the daily tirade.

At first, everything was good.  He seemed to have released his anger during the week, before we visited.  He taught me how to ride my bike before the party, before the drinking.  Or maybe he was drinking?  He moved to a house on the lake, where I fished on the dock, rode go-carts, snowmobiles, played with our new pretend kitchen upstairs, went for boat rides, and had big parties.  It felt normal.  Every other weekend.

I fell in the lake once.  I was rocking back and forth on a fold up canvas stool, sitting on the dock.  It folded me up, and I fell in.  That was the closest I’ve ever come to dying.  As I was sinking, and then floating, but not floating up fast enough, running out of air, seeing the surface but realizing it was too far… I saw my grandpa’s hand reaching down toward me.  Somehow, I reached my hand up and we made contact.  He had polio, and a prosthetic leg.  He acted quickly, when he saw me fall in (even though he was nowhere near the dock).  He laid down on the dock and reached down into the water.  He must’ve prayed too, because it was truly a miracle – that he saw me fall, that he got there in time, and that he was strong enough to yank me out of the water and onto the dock.  I don’t remember what happened next.  I just see his face and his arm and his hand, vividly – as if I am still under the water, waiting to be rescued.

We moved soon after that.  To a house out in the country.  I received my first spanking there, because I touched the wood stove, on accident.  I was forced to eat whatever was served (even liver and onions), and…  I got sick.  I hated the weekends.  I hated the anger. I hated the fear.

I found some courage once, to refuse to go.  I was told that if I didn’t change my mind that I must not love him.  That I wasn’t his daughter.  That I hurt him.  I changed my mind.

I missed my friends’ birthday parties so that I could be his daughter.

I became someone else.  Someone who wanted  to be accepted as his daughter.

I grew up thinking that this was normal.  To become the person that someone else wants you to be.  To avoid the guilt trips, and the pain.

I didn’t realize how much it hurt to set myself aside so that I could be accepted.  Set aside everything I wanted, to be called his daughter.

The details are blurry from age 8 to age 18.  Blurry, or numb maybe.  I didn’t really feel any emotions.  I just jumped through the hoops, and tried to meet the ever-changing expectations.

I accumulated identities.  None of them mine.  Just whoever I thought I was supposed to be.

We stopped talking a few times, when things would escalate and the person I was trying to be just wasn’t good enough, one too many times.

And then…

I became someone else.  The me I was always meant to be.  I found my identity.

I no longer wanted to be anyone else, for anyone else.

I broke free.

So, that is why I refuse.  I refuse to reconcile.

I refuse to be the person I would have to become all over again, in order to meet the ever changing expectations.  I would have to go back through everything I’ve been through, endlessly in order to please him.  I refuse.

Instead, I release him.  And all of the identities that he created for me.

The Hoover Dam can burst, and I will not drown.

I am the me I was meant to be.

 

Harshest critic

I hit a wall.

My toes, and my nose, also smashed into the wall, daily.

The path I kept taking, no matter where I entered, ended back at the same wall.

Frustrated, I spoke to myself, (to my harshest critic), and asked her why she is taking me to the same path, that ends at the same wall.

“You aren’t worthy,” she said.

“You have done horrible things,” she said.

“You don’t deserve to find it,” she said.

I closed my eyes.  I tried to see beyond the harsh words that I spoke to myself.

I found myself in an overgrown garden, weeds everywhere.  I pulled on one weed.. the roots were deep.  I yanked harder… the weed stubbornly released itself from the ground.

I heard the roots screaming at me as they left the ground.   They repeated what my harshest critic said.

“Unworthy, horrible, undeserving.”

Their voices grew softer as the roots left the earth.  Softer and softer, until they faded completely.

I continued to pull the weeds from the overgrown garden.  Each weed, each yanked root, set me free.

My harshest critic was quieted.  Finally.

I looked around, at what used to be the overgrown garden, and saw a new path.

I took one step onto the new path, leery of what might lie ahead, and leery of the wall hitting me in the nose.

It felt different this time.

My harshest critic was…. REALLY gone? 

Instead of “you are unworthy, you have done horrible things, and you are undeserving,” I heard “You are victorious!, you are free!, and you are loved!”

The new words felt like being wrapped up in a warm, soft, fluffy blanket while skipping along with all of my favorite people holding hands and smiling at each other.

I still can’t see the whole path, and I don’t know if I’ll reach another wall, but I am choosing to trust.

I will keep moving forward with my warm, soft, fluffy blanket, and favorite people by my side.

 

 

 

 

 

 

a bridge

Today, it felt like I took that last step, off the bridge.  I looked back, at all of the beams that made up the bridge that I’ve been walking across.

When I placed my foot on the first beam, I was 22. Young, free, and ready to take on the world. I was in college, learning, and loving the knowledge that was pouring in. I didn’t even realize that I was on a bridge.

Moving forward, a few more beams, I graduated from college, got married, had my first child.

I stood on the edge of the bridge at this point. I looked back, often. Everything happened so quickly. I kept trying to figure out how I got there. I relied on myself to take the next steps. I fell a few times, and relied on myself again, to get back up.

Another child, a few more years of marriage, a few more beams under foot, exhausted.

We moved an hour away from our family and friends so that his commute to work would be less stressful. We met new friends, but I drove back to regain comfort every weekend.

I never looked up. I just kept waking alone. I thought I had to be strong for my kids.

More beams, more years of marriage, two more children.

The bridge suddenly gave out.

I was hanging on, barely, fingers slipping, while my children were clinging to me.

Instead of crying out for help, I climbed back up, and walked back the way I came. My children were still clinging to me. They were afraid to let go.

We lived with my parents during the divorce. We were still on the bridge, going the wrong way, crossing the same beam over and over, feeling stuck in one place, for several years.

I was so tired, and they were so heavy.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but I see it now as I’m looking back at the completed bridge. It was being repaired, as we stood there, holding on to each other. The planks were being reset before us. Stronger.

I also didn’t know who was carrying me the next several planks in the right direction.

We bought a house. They started letting go of me. They started to breathe on their own. They started becoming their own.

I watched them run, jump, even skip ahead of me at times, on the bridge. I cherished their laughter. It made an imprint on my heart, and remained in my ears.

They reached the end of the bridge, leapt off, looked back at me, smiled, waved, and ran into their future.

I was alone.

For the first time in ten years, I looked up.

Instantly, my feet moved forward. Plank by plank, they found their way. Fear was behind me.

I felt a presence, daily, walking alongside me. I felt a love I never knew. I felt an embrace that gave me the strength to move forward, toward the end of the bridge.

I looked back, often, and I saw peace.

I took that last step off the bridge today.

I left the pain behind, and I decided to never let go of the arms that carried me across the broken planks.