Tag Archives: suffering

Don’t clam up. A blog post on taking risks in relationships…Part 1.

Author’s note: As I write this blog, I am finding that there is really two parts to this topic: taking risks in relationships in general, and the process of choosing a person with whom to take a risk.  In the interest of not writing a REALLY long post on both parts, I am going to break this into two parts.

A dear, sweet friend of mine, whom I have known since childhood, has been hurt quite a bit lately by relationships.  As a result of her pain, this appeared on her Facebook page:

While can appreciate the reason for the sentiment, I’m not sure I agree with the idea behind it.

I got married at the age of 20, mostly because I was pregnant and I needed the father’s health insurance to cover the related health care costs.  We had convinced ourselves that we loved each other and that we could make marriage work despite the true reason for marrying.  Little did I know that that marriage would end in disaster.  While I was no angel in this marriage and contributed to the failure of our marriage, I felt I was treated horribly, including, but not limited to, adultery on his part at least once, probably twice. Then, I was left, and divorced, by the person who had pledged to stick with me through thick and thin.

Relationships are risky.   The potential for being hurt, or hurting another, is huge.  People often present the best of themselves at the beginning, then the worst of themselves comes out as time goes on.  Often, the worst of ourselves, and the other person clash, causing chaos in our relationships.  Unless the chaos is effectively worked through or controlled, the result is generally a split (or a divorce if one is married).  It has to be said than in some cases, there is no hope for the relationship, no matter how much work goes into the relationship.  Splitting up with someone you committed  yourself to can cause intense emotional pain.  This pain is akin to having a limb ripped from your body, even if the other person was horrible.  The suffering can go on for years afterwards.   Self-doubt can creep in.  Fear of being hurt again becomes the new paradigm.  Any potential future relationships are affected by past hurts. One can be come overly-cautious in their attempt to try out this new relationship while avoiding true risk.  Which makes the new relationship more likely to fail.  Like I said, it’s risky.

When my marriage failed, I was at the beginning of the long healing journey that I have been on.  Frankly, at the time my marriage failed, I was not capable of managing the hurt associated with ripping and tearing that was going on.  I did not understand myself, nor the reasons that my marriage didn’t work.  I was single for about 7 years before my current husband decided he wanted to date me.  During that 7 years, I had to do a lot work in counseling, and with God, to overcome the terrible feelings of loss, anger, and sadness.  For 7 years, I was a single, working mother struggling to make ends meet, and trying to manage my volatile emotional state and a child who severely struggling as well.

The idea of adding a husband, and stepfather, into the equation was downright scary.  Like so many situations I observed, adding a man into my, and my son’s, life was extremely risky and likely to result in chaos.  What if my son and husband didn’t get along (they didn’t for a long time)?  What if my husband committed adultery like the first one?  What if he left me?  What if he couldn’t deal with the emotional baggage that came with marrying me (he does with a ton of grace)?  What if we just couldn’t work out our problems?  What if one of us gave up hope (I’ve been close a dozen times or more)?  What if my marriage failed?  Taking that step toward marriage again was a huge risk.  It could end in disaster like the first one.

The desire to close oneself off to the world, to potential love, to other people becomes intense after a split with someone you once loved.  Wrapping yourself up in hard shell of safety really only results in a life half lived.  Sure, you are safe from harm, but you are also safe from joy, happiness, fulfillment, and a good, lasting relationship.  This hard-shell reality affects how you react to other people, how you make decisions, how you behave in relationships.  You cannot fully commit to another person when you live your life this way, even if the person you found is the best person for  you.

The heart of the matter is that while putting yourself in a position to not “be let down” feels safe, I believe you are actually risking more than if you allow yourself to take the risk of being hurt.  I think I have made that the point that taking risks is dangerous,  BUT (with capital letters no less), I believe that taking risks is a necessary part of living life to it’s fullest.  Sure, the potential for hurt is there, but the potential for joy is there too.  The hurts described above can eventually heal, if you allow that to happen.  That’s right, you can heal from the hurt.   I would like to add an addendum to this statement: I think that one can make poor choices in partners and end up going the healing process over and over again.  If that’s what’s causing you so much pain, I would question how you choose partners.  So, we are gonna talk about that in part 2 of this post.

You are not forever tainted by your marriage’s, or relationship’s, failure.  You can rise above the associated pain and suffering.  You can place yourself in someone else’s hand again.  And, if you get hurt, you can  heal, again.  Unless you allow yourself to take that risk, you don’t know how something is going turn out.  You can live a a full life with someone by your side.  You can put your trust and hope in someone else’s hand.  Let yourself out of your shell.

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It’s your turn: do believe you can be healed from the hurt caused by failed relationships?

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Who would attend my funeral? Some thoughts on friendship.

Don’t worry, I am not planning my death or anything crazy like that.

In It’s a Wonderful Life, we spend the first two acts getting to know George Bailey.  He grows up in a small town of no real consequence.  He has loving parents, and a brother, he is friendly, loyal, honorable, part of a local community, and is bent on seeing the world.  But, life takes some twists and turns he did not expect.  Instead of traveling the world, he marries, takes over a business he does not want (his father’s Savings and Loan), has a few kids, builds homes for others, and does his darndest to keep the local baddie at bay.  He has some friends and life is okay.  Until something terrible happens, and he effectively wishes he were dead, or had never been born.  The third act of the movies shows us what life would be like in his small town had he never been born.  Life is ugly without him in Bedford Falls.  A measuring stick was held up to his life when the townsfolk started to show up to help him out of his crisis.  George needed that angel to show him that alternate reality to help George to understand what his life has meant to others.  George definitely made a difference and it showed.

Sometimes I lie awake at night and wonder if I died, who would show up at my funeral?  How would I be eulogized? What would people say to those closest to me in an attempt to comfort them?  I used to have a morbid fascination with this idea because for a time I felt that no one would show up.   I felt lonely and afraid that I would die alone and unnoticed.  I struggled with invisibility (and often still do) and felt disconnected.  I really wanted connections in my life so people would show up at my funeral.  Initially, my motives were selfish.  I wanted people to care about me enough to care about  my death.

God does not like selfishness.  He likes selflessness.

Forging lifelong friendships is a long and difficult process fraught with danger and pain.  There were some relationships that were toxic, some that just ended, and some that kept going.  The friendships that kept going were eventually based on a mutual exchange of time, trust, and energy.  At some point, this process became less about what I could get from others, and became more about what I could give.  A bowl of soup here, a friendly and kind word there, a much needed moment of free childcare, some empathetic tears, a hug, a kiss, a little cash, trusted advice, helped others to know their worth to me.  And I receive these things in return and can feel my worth to those people.  The Holy Spirit gives us energy to maintain relationships with others because He desires an exchange of love between Him, us, and others, above all things.  Relationships matter.  Jesus said that the world would know us by our “love for one another” and that “no love greater is this; that he would lay his life down for his friends”.   Having friends is not really about what you can get from others, it’s about what you can give to others.  It’s about offering yourself, your gifts, your wisdom, your time, and your energy to other’s benefit.  The more you pour out, the more is poured into you.

I have many people that I love dearly outside of my little family.  Let’s cross that out; these people are my family.  I rejoice that these people are my brothers and my sisters.  They really care about me, and I really care about them.

To quote Clarence the angel, “…no man is a failure who has friends.”

Would love to hear your thoughts here….

Down in the valley so low. Up on the mountain so high. And tighten up that brain, why don’chya’?

Moments of clarity can be blindingly brilliant.  Bringing light into the dark places, reveals the what’s been hiding in the dark.  Which makes these moments of clarity something to fear.  When there is no light, no one can see the mayhem that the darkness brings.  Who wants to see the mess they have made of themselves, right?

I feel so low right now.  All I know right now is feelings of defeat, despair, self-loathing, and anger at my stupidity.  And, I really have no idea why.

Paradoxically, I feel like Noah’s dove bringing back the olive branch that I found on tree that is high up on a mountain top, free of the floodwaters.  Free to go off and do what I was meant to do in the places I am meant to do them.

Such a strange place to be, both high and low altogether.

As I was sitting and pondering all of this my brain was listening to the movie playing in the living room, Spy Kids.  This is not a deep or profound movie.  But the moment that I tuned into the dialogue the father spy, Gregorio, was explaining some research he had been involved in to his wife spy in a flashback.  The research was for developing artificial intelligence and was called the Third Brain.  While the various researchers are busily working on their versions of the “Third Brain”, the spy in charge of the project walks by one of the researchers, pats him on the back and says something like, “Why don’t you tighten up that brain.”

Hearing this gave me pause.  It’s as if God is challenging me to “tighten up” my brain.  God, in His grace and wisdom, teaches us in our infancy how to live our lives according to His rules.  The bible says that He doesn’t give us more than we can handle.  I take that to mean that God expects me to be able to stand on my own two feet and walk out this salvation of mine.  Especially since His strength is flowing through my veins.  Which means that I have the power to speak His light into the dark places in my soul.  When I get to the realization that I need to tighten up my brain I usually go here:

Psalm 42

As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, my God.

My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?

My tears have been my food
day and night, while people say to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”

These things I remember
as I pour out my soul:
how I used to go to the house of God
under the protection of the Mighty One
with shouts of joy and praise
among the festive throng.

Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.

My soul is downcast within me;
therefore I will remember you
from the land of the Jordan,
the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar.

Deep calls to deep
in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
have swept over me.

By day the LORD directs his love,
at night his song is with me—
a prayer to the God of my life.

I say to God my Rock,
“Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I go about mourning,
oppressed by the enemy?”

My bones suffer mortal agony
as my foes taunt me,
saying to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”

Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.

Which generally leads me to repentance of my attitude.

Repentance is a funny thing.  Imagine that you are standing in the darkest of caves.  The master of the  light has given you a torch and a match, of which you light.  And there you are, crouching amongst the bones and debris of your sin, filthy and in tattered rags, hair matted against your head.  You are both crouching in fear of the light, and the light-bearer.  You need to coax yourself out of the corner and gently reveal the need to say to the source of the light, “I am sorry I fled from your light.  I don’t want this cave of darkness anymore.”  Repentance seems so simple, but it is so hard to do.  Yet, the reward is worth the price.  As soon as you turn to the light-giver, He breathes life into the dark place and blows away the filth and yuck from every corner and every crevice so that the cave has no remnant of the sin it bore.  And you look as if you have been undergoing the year-long beauty treatments that Esther underwent so she would look her best when she met the king.

Lord, please forgive my unbelieving attitude.

It is now time to tighten up my brain and say to myself “Why are you downcast, oh  my soul?  Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”  Amen.

Do you have anything to repent of today?

Play (paint, write, draw, dance, sing, speak) the Sunset

“What is it that you like most about yourself?”, Mr. Holland asks the young red-headed girl next to him, clutching nervously to her clarinet.  “Well, my dad says he loves my hair.  He says it reminds him of the sunset.”, she says with a little nod to  her head as if to affirm the belief that her hair does indeed resemble the sunset.   “Then play the sunset.”, Mr. Holland says to her (paraphrased from my memory of this little exchange in Mr. Holland’s Opus).  After hours and hours of practice, the girl finally was able to play her clarinet beautifully and with confidence.  Sometimes, we just have to get out of our own way.

Do we believe God when He tells us something about ourselves?  Does this knowledge inspire you to greater heights or leave you cowering in the corner?

The Creator of the Universe believes in  you because He created you.  He put the color of the sunrise on your head, the depths of the ocean in your eyes, the sprinkling of cinnamon on your skin.  He believes in the shape, the size, the loudness, the quietness that is you.

You only need to believe it yourself.

Believing in the creation that is you empowers  you in an infinite measure to move beyond the moment, to climb higher than you have ever been.

So, go! Paint, write, draw, dance, play, sing, or whatever it is that you do, the Sunset.

Chrysalis

Formed from my own skin, wrapped in my own desire.

What was me, is not me, anymore.

Me is different.

Wrapped tightly in my own desire.

I put myself in this darkness,

Wrapped myself in this pain.

I long to be free.

Pushing, shoving, hoping.

Looking for the light,

That must be there.

Chrysalis, set me free.

A scent, a sight, a sound.

Can it be?

The urge of freedom,

Stronger than my desire.

Pushing, shoving, straining to be free.

At last.

I can fly.

The Truth on Being a “Princess”

He didn’t have to compliment her on her looks, or the way the sunlight glinted in her eyes.  She kissed the frog because it was the right thing to do.  You see, she understood that she had been given a gift by her father, the King.  He bestowed her with a gift of confidence in who she was as his daughter.  She understood that the gift of confidence from her father showed itself in the beauty of her form and her manner. 

The poor frog was once a prince, but he had made a bad choice and now suffered the price for his lack of wisdom.  He happened upon the princess while she sat by the river humming with her sweet voice.  He instantly knew that she held the key to his prison.  So, he jumped over to her and simply asked for her help.

And, she said, “Yes.’

On being a victim and a weakling

My Prince is calling my name.  But, I cannot hear Him, the rumble in the Dragon’s throat is too loud.  Pain is my constant companion here in the Dragon’s mouth as I lay skewered on his teeth.  Death-stench overwhelms my senses.  Woe to me as the Dragon makes his plan for getting me out of his mouth and into his stomach.

My Prince keeps me caught between Heaven and Hell, preventing my destruction.  Light breaks through my blindness, catching my attention and distracting me from the pain and darkness.  I am too weak to get up on my own and leave the Dragon’s mouth.  I call to my Prince to help me, a damsel-in-distress. 

My Prince hears me calling and suddenly is closer than life itself.  He tells me that that I am the only one keeping me here, a victim of my own choices.  “But”, I protest, “the pain, the darkness, the stench overwhelm me and I have no strength.”    “Do you not know that I have come to defeat the Dragon?  And overcome death?” 

“Help me.”, I reply,with faintness of breath.

My Prince reaches into the pouch on his belt and pulls out a crystal vial filled with dark red fluid.  He begins to reach towards me and undoes the stopper.  I cringe back, unsure of what is next.  My Prince reassures me with depths of unspoken love in his eyes.  He places on drop of the dark fluid in my mouth. 

Unexpectedly, I choke and sputter.  My body is wracked with pain and uncontrolled spasming.  I fear that by accepting this fluid from my Prince, my death has come.  Perhaps that is my release from this slavery.  My body becomes still.  I wait for death to come. Instead of feeling my life fade away, I feel a rush of Life.  Warm gold begins to emanate from my body overwhelming my senses with sweetness and light. 

I am literally pushed up from the Dragon’s teeth and the wounds instantly heal.  And the healing pushes past the boundaries of this world, there are no scars, no traces that I was ever there in the Dragon’s mouth.  I turn with gratitude on my tongue and in my heart to my Prince, who has come to save me from myself.

He puts his finger to my lips and shushes me.  “You are welcome.”