Friday, October 25, 2013

It's your party; you can cry if you want to.

On Wednesday night, I had a much needed therapeutic intervention in the form of card night with a couple girlfriends. We used to have card nights more frequently, but life gets busy, and sometimes we get so busy scheduling all the things that make us crazy we forget to schedule the things that make us happy. Card night makes me happy. Time with my friends centers me.

I've been on this roller coaster of forgiveness and offense the past few weeks. This week I got a reprieve. God placed some wonderful people in my path to remind me that yes, there are unkind people in my life, but I am overwhelmingly blessed by so many people with amazing hearts and beautiful spirits, who inspire me every day.

Some of these people I don't interact with daily. Some of them I only know through social media. Some are really in my life, and I'm remiss if they don't all ready know who they are and how much I adore them.

I felt compelled to share this because a shift in perspective reminded me that good attracts more good. When we focus on giving, loving, encouraging, and blessing others, sweetly unexpected blessings come back to us.

This week, virtual strangers poured out kindness on my family. If I hadn't spent the last week or two analyzing flawed and toxic relationships, I don't know if I would have appreciated such sweet gestures as much as I do today. When we are trudging through dark memories, it is hard to see the light. More than a few times, I have told my darling husband, who patiently reminds me of all our blessings, "I don't want to see a silver lining right now; I just want to cry."

And it is okay to cry. Sometimes, even in the midst of a million blessings, I let sadness creep in and derail me. Yes, I have three beautiful amazing kids; also, I have two dead brothers who didn't get to know them. And even though my dad lived for 94 years, he's not alive now, and I miss him. And while most of the time, I am positive and focus on the amazing life God gave me, I remind myself it's okay to be sad because remembering the sadness makes the sweet moments even sweeter.

When Chloe was first in college, she was having a rough day, and I was trying to cheer her up. She said, "It's okay, Mama. It's just a bad day in a really good life." My baby girl is so wise.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Forgiveness and gossip and offense, Oh My!

When I'm struggling with a particular issue or better yet, when I think I am NOT struggling with a particular issue, I find myself confronted with multiple lessons on the issue. Perhaps, my heightened awareness makes me pay closer attention, or perhaps God, knowing that I require multiple examples from many different angles before I can get something, sends in the heavenly troops.

For example, just this past week: I read about forgiveness, kind of dismissed it thinking, "I'm a pretty forgiving person." Immediately I was confronted with a host of past hurts that, guess what, I haven't forgiven--strike one. Next, I read about gossip, and thought, "I don't really say mean things about people." Then I walked in on two people gossiping about me and my youngest child and said HORRIFICALLY unkind things about them--strike two. Finally, I read about offense, and I got scared. Hard as I try not to take things personally, I fall short most of the time. So, I prayed, "Lord, please...I all ready know that is an area where I need work,"--check swing.

The Revelation: Wow. I suuuuccccckkkkk.

It would have been easy to beat myself up for my reactions, agonize over how little progress I have made, and wallow in self-defeating guilt. Fortunately, I realized that the point of the lessons was not to drag me down, but to lift me up. The point was to realize that I can't change the past--not what I did and not what anyone else did. But I can stop that cycle of bitterness and resentment when it gets to me. I can't change what people think or say about me, my kids, or anyone else behind our backs, but I can stop that gossip right here. I can react with kindness, compassion, and forgiveness.

This is much easier said than done--obv (shoutout to Chloe), but I'm going to keep working at it. And every moment I'm breathing is an opportunity to do so.

As Lysa TerKeurst reminds me: “I was made for more than being stuck in a vicious cycle of defeat. I am not made to be a victim of my poor choices. I was made to be a victorious child of God.” Amen, sisters.