Love Backwards

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Why is it so difficult to love people who are different from us? It is easy to say we love them, even believe we do, but loving them well enough to change their lives is daunting. We spend so much energy focusing on how to change them, fix them, that we miss what they really need. To be loved for who they are. Now I know I’m no expert in loving people the right way all the time. I have a list of people I’d love to fix when I should just love them.

I have to be in control. That is what my core programming says. I have to fix everything and everyone and if I can’t, I’m a failure. The problem, of course, is reality.

I can’t change people.

And, oh, does that drive me up the wall and across the ceiling. God is the creator. He made people and he’s the only one who can change them. On top of that, the person had to agree to change. We spend so much energy focusing on how to fix the ones we care about that we make them feel broken, isolated, alienated. Oops.

We ignore the ones who are doing well, who fit our mold. Then they start acting out, angering us just to get our attention. Society has created a system where the squeaky wheel gets the grease while functioning parts fall into disrepair.

I digress. Step one is the hardest to get past. How to love people well enough to bring to their attention the dangerous, wrong behaviors we see. How can I love them without making them feel damaged or judged while not turning a blind eye entirely? Where is the line? I Need a process chart or timeline. How about a walk through? I’d settle for cheat codes. But we don’t get any of that. We are the cheat codes and walk throughs. We go through rough experiences so it builds compassion and strength of character in us. These are the tools for loving people like God wants us to.

Can someone please bumble through this with me so I’m not the only idiot trying to love someone backwards? In a world where we need to build up reasons to be loved I found someone who loves me for no reason and everyday I try to give him at least one. If we can do that for others how much better would the world be?

Love someone for no reason today, expect nothing back even if you feel like an idiot. You may just change the world.

Who Wants a Kidney?

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I’m worn. Mike’s surgery went well. He’s healing marvelously but he still has at least three weeks until he can return to work. He feels amazing. I’m drowning. The surgery was worth it to get my husband back but the cost has overwhelmed me almost daily.

This family, with the amount of debt we have collected, cannot run on one income, especially mine. I’m good with numbers but as hard as I work our budget I can’t stretch the money far enough. I’m trying alchemy and contemplating if I really need both my kidneys. I mean two kidneys is just being greedy right? But seriously, I know no matter what I do in this situation it’s not enough. That sounds hopeless. It feels hopeless. And that’s where I am wrong.

God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness. He can’t fill what is already full. I get so caught up in the emptying, so frustrated that all the progress I’ve worked so hard for is gone that I lose sight of the rescue. I’m drowning, losing hope, ready to succumb to my failures and obstacles and my lungs won’t stop sucking air. Each breath hurts worse than the last and only prolongs what feels like the inevitable. And then somehow when I really, REALLY, can’t take another breath God fishes me out of the drink. “Relax, I’ve got you.” He whispers. “You know I’d never let harm come to you.” We must have different definitions.

I can’t give up. I can’t do it. I’m hardwired stubborn. Failure may be an option I’m much too good at and sometimes I accept failures that aren’t mine but giving up has never been an option no matter how attractive. If I can keep my eyes on Jesus, the one who walked on stormy seas, then I too can quit drowning and do the impossible. I will not be in debt forever and debt will not be the legacy I leave my daughter. It may take longer than I want but we will make it out of this, and we will be stronger for it. Take courage and keep sucking air my friends.

Sticks and Stones

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Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me. We grow up hearing it but most of us were too smart to believe it. Physical wounds heal much faster than emotional wounds. Cut me or bruise me but don’t tear down who I am. That is why self-mutilation is so popular in today’s youth.

I was one of them growing up. One of those lost souls who looked for a way to bleed out emotional pain the only way that felt effective. I grew up with brothers. I knew how to deal with physical pain. I was ill equipped to deal with the emotional pain.

Children of alcoholics will go one of two ways: into the bottle that destroyed their lives or away from it entirely. I was the latter. I lived in fear for years that if I drank, at all, I would become my mother. If I couldn’t hide from my pain with alcohol I needed another way to deal.  I decided I would turn my internal pain into external pain.

It was like a band-aid on a bullet hole. It covered the problem but I was slowly bleeding to death. The pain never went away. It only got worse. My story could have ended like so many, in tragedy. But it didn’t. I survived.

I had support. Even when I felt completely hopeless, alone, and not understood I was loved. God loved me enough to put people in my life that loved me. My parents were far from perfect but as alone as I felt I always knew I was loved. That was a big reason why I couldn’t end it. I was in so much pain that I couldn’t bear the thought of causing more pain. And I knew if I killed myself I would cause truckloads of pain for the people who loved me, whom I loved.

I was trying to live a lie: that what people thought and said didn’t matter to me. What brought me out? The truth. That what people said made a difference whether it should or not, true or not, but that it didn’t define me. I learned that I am more than what people tell me I am. I am everything God tells me I am. If I can alter myself for a lie, I can complete myself with the truth. I am loved. I am worthy of love. I can make the world a better place starting with myself because I am more than the lies told about me. Know that you are loved even if, like me, the truth is buried deep and love someone else so they can find the truth too.

God’s Math

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Life is rarely ever dull in my house. If it is we are probably sleeping. My husband has been off of work for about three weeks now and is scheduled for surgery next week. It hasn’t been a picnic but we are making it work. The last few days he’s been feeling better which is bringing my stress back into humanly acceptable levels. My parents have been invaluable during all of this and his parents are coming up for a week to help after the surgery. I am so grateful for the support system God has given us. So many of our friends lack this kind of support.

Our lives are not always smooth. Sometimes it feels like just when we start getting our act together and paying things down then some calamity befalls us. And yet God always provides. It may not be how we want his provision but it is always enough. Mike only had enough paid time off to cover part of his absence from work (which has been much longer than we ever thought it would be) but somehow, improbably, the bills are getting paid. I don’t know how we are going to pay the medical costs but I know God will take care of them as he has the smaller monthly costs. It never makes sense to me but I’ll take God’s math over mine any day.

Born or Made

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They say some leaders are born and some are made. I am closer to the latter. I have all the necessary traits of a leader except desire. I only step into leadership roles when no one else will. I’m much happier working behind the scenes serving and following.

My husband is always looking for new trails to blaze and ways to make things better.  He’s not good with following directions especially if he can’t see or understand the end game. Sometimes it feels like we are polar opposite. Nothing is ever good enough for him. Consistency isn’t his strong suit but he is passionate, driven, and clever. His brain puts things together in ways I’d never think of.

He’s always trying to get me out from under “the man.” The thing is, I’m unusually quite happy where I am. Together we could be amazing but getting us to focus on the same goal is like trying to harness goldfish. He’s passionate in one direction while I’m going another. He’s business centered; I’m all about people. It could work of only we could get our act together.

I think one of the most important traits of a leader is being able to recognize valuable talent and being able to mesh different types into a functioning whole. I could use a whole bunch of clichés right here but I’ll try to stick to one simple quote. “God doesn’t call the equipped, he equips the called.”

Election Year

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I hate election years. (Although the gas prices get much better during campaigning.) We are supposed to do our civic duty and exercise our right to vote but to what end? What is the point of voting when none of the options are good? When did democracy become picking the lesser of evils?

All the candidates lie. They all have agendas for their own gain not the best interests of the country. I understand the country is a mess. It is too much for I one figurehead to fix but when all we hear on the news is how nothing gets done because the parties can’t agree and can’t be civil what are we supposed to support?

I will not get behind a candidate just because they have money or influence. How much money goes to campaigning and mudslinging in one election year? What kind of good could that money do if it was applied to the issues instead of just talking about them?

I catch myself forgetting that politicians are real people with families and lives. They have turned into reality tv personalities. Everything they say and do is an act for the camera. They make big promises then once they get into office it’s like they won class president in middle school just to find out they have no power at all.

We need to seriously overhaul our political system. I love that we have the right to choose who we want to lead but we need better choices. We need a new system. We must all decide what we think is best. This is one of the things I hate about being an adult. I can’t hide from it. I’m sorry this post isn’t as upbeat as normal.

Oh Yeah, I Forgot

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In Christian circles you’re supposed to have a favorite bible verse. I did all the kids bible programs growing up and committed countless bible verses to memory…short term memory. Honestly, I’m not a scholarly Christian who always has a verse on hand but every so often a particular verse will strike me.

It may sound odd or lame but for now one of my favorite verses is John 11:35. “Jesus wept.” For a time that was my brother’s favorite verse because it was short and easy to remember. I like it because how many tears have I shed over the years? Many times do we focus on Jesus’ divinity and forget he was also human. He knew the grander plan but it didn’t lessen the pain of what he had to do to complete it.

Jesus wept. He sympathized and empathized because he couldn’t skip past the unpleasant parts of humanity. He felt our pain, grief, and fear. And if he felt all that he may have even felt regret. Regret that he had volunteered for this. Regret that regret even crossed his mind because he loves us so much it makes it worth it. I get that. On an immensely smaller scale, I get it. When my daughter was born I could live on baby smiles. When she smiled at me suddenly it didn’t matter that she just spit up on me, or that I hadn’t had time to eat or sleep for more than two hours at a time. Nothing mattered, because I never knew how much I could love someone until I held her in my arms and I realized that she was as much a part of me as my beating heart and she needed me.

We are created by God with his very breath. And we are just as helpless as my newborn daughter was. His heart was so full of joy, love, and sadness that it broke and he wept. Because he knew exactly what he didn’t want to do, exactly what needed to be done, and that he would do absolutely anything for us because he loves us that much. Chew on that and hug the ones you love.

What We Really Want

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I posted this two years ago but it is an election year so I thought I’d bring it back.

 

We stick our fingers in our ears and pretend that we don’t hear,

all the secrets, all the lying, all the unsatisfying

answers to the questions no one’s daring to ask.

 

We dance around the issues and we tear each other down. We

want the glory, not the gory problems we don’t wanna fix.

Honesty is forgotten in our politics.

 

Why should we even bother to hold our pundits to their cause?

We don’t want to vote for a president, we want Santa Clause

to bring us lots of presents and a shiny new year.

 

We give up our rights and freedoms because we don’t want to think

about our responsibilities, we’d rather sit and drink

away our worries while we neglect our country.

 

We don’t want responsibility, we want someone else to blame

for all the darkness in our world and all our lost boys and girls

searching for the reasons why they are left alone.

 

They are dying on our streets and battered in our homes waiting

for someone to love them like they deserve. Unemployment leads

to desperation but that isn’t the problem.

 

We stick our fingers in our ears and pretend that we don’t hear,

all the secrets, all the lying, all the unsatisfying

answers to the questions no one’s daring to ask.

 

Heartbeat

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I feel like this has been a rough winter. The weather has been beautiful but I have so many coworkers, friends, and family who have lost someone close to them in the last few months. The holidays are supposed to bring celebration and joy but grief has stepped in in a big way overshadowing everything else. It’s times like these we want to be near, embrace, say something, anything to ease the pain.
I’m sad. Not so much for the dead but for those who will miss them. I hate seeing people hurting.
I don’t seem like the type but I analyse everything and sometimes I over analyse. I can get lost in my head. Sometimes I do it on purpose so I don’t have to feel what I don’t understand. What I’ve learned is this: There are two ways to acknowledge pain and grief. You can look at the shattered remains of your life, the scars and missing pieces and drown in despair. Life has been unfair and unjust to you and there is no hope. Or you can look back on all the crap and hardship and see everything you’ve survived, everything God has brought you through.
When I’m in the middle of fresh grief I’ll admit sometimes I throw a pity party for one. But once I pull out of it and regain my reason I look back and compare. I look back at all the things that broke my heart and I say, ” I thought I’d never be the same after that” or, “I thought I’d never stop crying but I’m ok now. It was the end of the world then but now it doesn’t seem so big. I survived that, I can survive this.”
I’m rather proud of my physical scars. They all have stories. I have emotional scars, which I think hurt worse, but they all have stories too. And anyone who knows me knows I’m a sucker for a good story.
Danny Gokey sings a song called, “tell your heart to beat again.” I’ve wished to turn my heart to stone so I couldn’t feel pain anymore but that isn’t an option. Everyone wants to know how you keep going after loss but there is no magic answer, you just do. You wake up, take a deep breath, and tell your heart to beat again. God will give you the strength you need if you just ask. It may not be how you expect but one day you will realize the ache has dulled and you’ve survived. It may only feel like a small comfort but understand that it is a huge victory.

Is This What I Really Wanted?

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Why is it the people we love the most cause the most pain? I have always believed my brother Joe understands me like no one else but what if he doesn’t really? What if he’s just an excellent liar who knows what to say to make me feel understood?

I’ve always said that was second best but is it? Haven’t I told Mike that a hundred times? If you don’t understand can you just lie and pretend like you do? But now that I think that it’s the case with Joe, I feel cheated….it makes more sense but I still feel cheated. I never could reconcile how he could understand me so well and miss how much of a problem his drinking is to me and himself.

Now we’re back to square one. I’m not sure how to feel. Standard. I swear my emotions are like a box of theater candy that melted. Everything is mixed and melded. Indistinguishable. He was the only person who never made me feel damage but now I’m not even sure if it was truth or a lie or if it should matter.

I guess that’s the million dollar question: Should it matter?

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