Archive | April 2015

BRAVE: Update

11088539_10152885026453935_6365408097417848396_nAs I had mentioned in my post yesterday, during the journey we reach a point of facing a fear.  Mine was personally apologizing to someone, and the fear was rejection.  Few people, including yours truly, can graciously accept an apology and say “accepted and forgiven”.  We feel the need to delve into more, perhaps rub salt in the wound or flat out just reject the person.  And my fear was the rejection and a healthy dose of salt, so when I opened the mailbox today that is exactly what I initially felt I had received.

The letter writer has reason to still have ill feelings, as I did indeed say some very mean and hurtful things.  I admit I was going for the heart in the things I so often said and posted, and it would seem I was an over achiever when I posted them.  And I was wrong, as I said in my apology.  It wasn’t about being vindicated, and I certainly did not feel persecuted.  I simply reached that place where it was time to apologize.  I knew there was not going to be any reconciliation, I got back exactly what I had expected.

The writer asked a series of questions.  At first I wanted to take them as pure salt in the wounds, but then one thing I had always loved about this friend was her ability to ask questions that made me stop and think, deep introspection of me.  So, instead of seeing it on the knee jerk side, I’m choosing to believe that despite her words she isn’t attacking,  but that underneath she does care.  And as she has requested I no longer send things to her, I will answer them here.

I do find it interesting that I just answered, in some ways, many of these yesterday in my blog post about the Brave Journey, before receiving her letter.  Perhaps this is God’s way of confirming those very things I’ve been addressing.

*Are you really happy with your life?

Over all, yes I am happy.  No one has a perfect existence and never will.  Every day things spontaneously erupt in our lives, both good and bad, but it is how we choose to react that counts.  We choose to be happy, or angry, and 95% of the time my choice is to be happy.  My life is full of laughter and good times.  No, getting divorced was not a fun thing to go through.  I was very hurt and often lashed out in irrational ways at many around me.  But while hurt, I was also happy, and found fun and good in my life.  Now, more than ever, I am happy with my life.  I see now that some of the bad was direct or indirect consequences of my own choices and actions, and other providences were meant to bring me to where I am now.

*Do you ever stop and think, “what if I’d been a better friend, wife, mother, daughter?”

Yes, I do stop and think that.  And I have often seen where I fall very short of being the perfect version of any of those.  I cannot fix the sins of my past, only work in the present and toward the future of being the very best version of those and countless other hats I wear in life.

*If you could go back, would you do things differently?

Tough question, as I have to assume that you mean IF I could take back what I know now, so that I could change the outcome.  And I honestly do not know that I’d do much if anything any differently.  I’m in a different place now than at any given moment in the past.  We’re all on a journey toward eternity, and everything we do causes ripples in the pond.  Sometimes things we do that were meant for evil, God uses specifically for good in another’s life.  And the bad others do He uses for good in my own.  Part of growing, however painful it has been, has come from making the very mistakes that bring me to who I am now.  This woman I am now is far better for having made the mistakes that I did.

*Did you really believe you were the airbrushed photos of yourself?

That truly is an odd question to come up when I was apologizing for being so hateful but I’ll gladly answer it.  Um no, I knew more than anyone else what my flaws were and still are to this day.  Airbrushed photos were fantasy stuff and that was all.  No different from what is published in Playboy, just fun, fantasy photos.  I enjoyed them, but I knew that I had imperfections as did everyone else.  I guess they bothered you as you are still bringing them up now, 7 or 8 years later?  If they caused a problem for you then certainly I apologize for that as well.

*How did your choices lead you to where you are now?

Many choices brought me here.  The first and largest was the choice to allow myself to be talked into the swinger lifestyle.  I believe it tore the very fabric of my marriage apart.  My choices of that, and to be open about it, and the photos being published all contributed to my failed marriage and my losing my job after 26 years.  I went from a life as a deacon’s wife serving God in a great church, to unemployed and soon after divorced and way off the path toward Christ.

After that, many choices I made during the first 3 years of my after-divorce life were also poor ones that very nearly cost me my relationship with my kids.  My dating a 1%er and being an old lady to a motorcycle club member was NOT one of my better choices.  I went through a very self-destructive time, all of my own choosing.

Where I am now came from all of that.  Now I know where my true value is, not in photos, or a sinful lifestyle, or being anyone’s wife, girlfriend etc.  My value is 100% in the death and resurrection of Christ, paying for all of the sins I have and will commit in my life.  My value is in the shed blood that makes me a daughter of God, true royalty, and the soul that God sees through that blood that is perfect because of that blood.  My choices make me appreciate so much more what was done on that cross to save my worthless soul.

*Do you have people you consider real friends?

Yes, I do have a small, select group of individuals who I consider real friends and who consider me a friend as well.  They know my weaknesses, my darkest secrets, my greatest sorrows and regrets, as well as my highest moments, greatest joys and the love we have is deep and true for each other.

*In the middle of the night? Could you pick up the phone and have someone there for you?

Yes, and I have made that call in the past few years, more than once.  And the calls were answered and I had the support, guidance and love that was needed at those moments.

*Would you answer the phone if someone called you?

Yes.  If you are in need, give it a try sometime.

*Why do all of your relationships fail?

Poor choices for one.  Motorcycle club members that qualify as gang members by police standards, do not make for a good match.  I broke that one off.

The control freak, yeah that didn’t go so well, he broke that off because I wasn’t one that is easy to control.

Mr. Wonderful, well he left out a really important detail when we were dating, see he was still married and that is why that one failed.  Once I uncovered that piece of information I ended things.  We’re the best of friends now but that is why that relationship failed.

Then there was Pat, my Knight, who I lived with for a year until a year ago.  That didn’t fail, I ended it.  I was back in church and struggling with living in sin.  We both knew what we were doing was wrong, but I also didn’t want to be married.  I didn’t want to be a step mom as hard as I tried to be a good one.  I made the choice to end that and moved back to Cincinnati.

Most recently there was the Badge.  My son-in-law had done some research and warned me about him.  At first it was a great relationship but it was built completely on lies.  Lies about his family relationships, lies about how many times he was married, pretty much the only thing he did not lie about was his name.  He put up a great show, going to church and respecting my no sex til married criteria.  But when the lies unraveled and the truth started to surface, I ended that one as well.

So, they didn’t fail, some the guy ended, but the most significant ones I put an end too because they were not at all right. That isn’t failure in my opinion, just ending something that simply was all wrong.

*HOW CAN YOU MAKE A DIFFERENCE?

First, by making sure that all things in my life line up with the guideline of who I know I am in Christ.  There are still things in my life undergoing change, but I’m not the person you knew before.  Not who I was even a year ago.  I am more prayerful about choices that need to be made, I try hard to put myself in the other person’s shoes.  I’m far more other oriented than I’ve ever been.

I do not believe for one minute that the writer does not care good, bad or indifferent.  If I had ceased to exist she’d not have bothered to reply, let alone put so much into the reply.  I DO think she cares, deep down, but will never admit it.  That is okay, she is still on my lips often in prayer, and always will be.  I make a choice to do so.

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This Brave Journey

11088539_10152885026453935_6365408097417848396_nOur church, Crossroads in Cincinnati, recently began what they are calling an all church experience.  Every year they do a journey in which everything is geared toward the journey, so the entire church from the babies on up, is on the same page, same journey with God.  This is the first time I have participated and I’m seeing quickly why it is so loved by so many.  It is deep, and powerful, and life changing.

This year the journey is called BRAVE.  It centers around Peter getting out of the boat and walking on the water to Jesus during a storm.  We all have our own heading, and also storms to go through as we journey together on our course.  While in past years the church has printed up books etc for this, in the interest of saving money and paper they are doing it via an app for Android and iPhones, and it is one amazing app taking us all on one amazing journey.  The messages for 6 weeks on Sundays are associated with the journey we are all on, and we all joined small groups to work through the group portion.  It will end in a blaze of serving on May 16th when everyone who is able, 10,000 people, will flip our city doing 800 projects.  We landscape, paint, build playgrounds, serve people, it is just amazing.  Last year, GO Cincinnati was on my birthday, this year it is the day before.  I loved working with homeless vets last year, who knows where I will land for this one.

Part of the journey is about finding out what is holding us back from the heading we are striving toward.  The whole thing is nautical in theme, you know the Peter and boat thing.  We each pick our heading and while it may not seem like some are spiritual, if you believe, and I mean REALLY believe in God, and live for Him, then everything you do is for His glory, and spiritual.

Each week there are 7 or 8 steps in the journey, and each one is designed to bring us closer to God by being brave.  Last week it got really deep, with each answer we put in, the app then asked “why” to that answer, and then “why” to the next and so on.  It made us uncover some things, and honestly it was pretty uncomfortable but freeing at the same time.

My heading is financial freedom, building my business and finances to complete independence.  This may not seem spiritual to you, but believe me the things I long to be able to do require this, and I need to be a good steward with my money.  The root of why I haven’t gotten there was uncovered last week through the steps.  I’m going to get real vulnerable and share that.

See, I loved my life until 5 years ago.  I was happily (so I thought) married to the love of my life, I loved my home, the things we had, our friends, the crazy neighborhood that did crazy fun things together.  I had a good job 7 years ago, and we had stability and I thought pretty much the American dream.  I lost the job, got let go and I was chosen to be released during downsizing because I had made some really poor choices in my personal life.  Then 2 years later my husband asked for a divorce.  This just after I finally found a new job.  Everything I had worked for, loved, and enjoyed came crumbling down around me and shattered my world.

And it was the best thing to happen to me though it took until now for me to really grasp that.

I knew the life we were living behind the scenes, was contrary to everything about God and the character of God. I wanted out of it, my spouse did not.  That was when I began to pray.  We had left our church behind, justified our sin, and I was so far off the path and into the pit of sin that I knew it would take something huge to get us out.  So I prayed for God to change the heart of the man I loved to get us out of that and back where we belonged.  I begged to be out.  I just didn’t see the way it would work.  Next thing I knew I was out…of his life, the house, the job, everything I had helped to build.  I sure didn’t see that coming!

I was both devastated and delighted at once.  My heart was broken, but I was happy to be headed down a new path.  I struggled often while torn between the two sides of emotion, but over all I was content in my new life.

The trouble is content isn’t enough, is it?  I worked several jobs the past 5 years, and the most recent one I really loved what I did but I know God had other plans and pulled me even from there.  Things I knew were wrong and even corrupt there, meant that He wasn’t going to leave me in that place for long.  Same for the relationships, even the one I was in for a year, I was still so wrong in living with a man not my husband.

So at the end of last summer I found myself unemployed again, with this direct sales business on the side that was more hobby than it was anything.  And it is a business in which I know personally the women who are screaming successes, making 6 figure incomes.  But I couldn’t seem to get it really doing much other than paying for my makeup indulgences.  And I was in another relationship that was not healthy for me as he was not a true believer to say the least.

Just before starting this Brave Journey I broke up with the boyfriend and went back to again get my Nurse Aide certification.  If nothing else I see it as a means to pay my bills.  And then the Journey began while I was in school, and oh the things I’ve faced down and learned.

One thing I had to do was face a fear.  For me that fear was rejection.  I’ve dealt with rejection quite a bit in recent years, not the least of which was my marriage.  When your spouse of 22 years dumps you, it is about as big and painful a rejection one can experience is in life.  So taking time to send a long over due apology to someone knowing that they will simply reject me, was something I feared and didn’t want to do.  I don’t like having my feelings hurt, but the journey brought me to there and you couldn’t go further until you did that step, so I did it.  Then came the addressing the storms of our heading, because now that we had faced down a big fear, we had bigger things to deal with.

In the end of that ‘why’ session I knew why I have never taken my business and built to where I know it could and should be.

See, I had everything I wanted and loved.  I don’t want to rebuild.  I don’t think it is fair that I’m the one who got the shaft, had to leave what I loved and start over.  And then to once again have a great job and again see that go away….I’m pissed off!  I’m not the one that did anything wrong but I’m the one who had to restart my life and career over and over again.  I DON’T WANT TO DO IT AGAIN!

THAT is why I’ve never put into my business what I need in order to make it grow.  I had all I wanted and didn’t want to start over.  I think it is why I’m never happy in relationships since my divorce, I had the man I loved and wanted forever with, I don’t want to rebuild that again.  As a wise former boyfriend shared with me, it isn’t just the marriage that we lose, we lose shared memories and experiences.  When we get in a new marriage there is no “hey, remember when our little girl/boy did….” because they don’t remember, that isn’t their past, their memory.  I don’t know how to build new without that and not at all sure I want too.  Every corner of my life has to be rebuilt from work to love life and I didn’t want to do it because it isn’t fair!

Yet way back I prayed and asked God to deliver me from the sinful life me and the husband were living, and restore the relationship with Him.  I just didn’t see that this was exactly how He was going to do it.  Knock down the walls and destory the city, and have me rebuild.  I’m totally released from ALL things associated with my former lifestyle including the house full of memories of some of those very wrong activities.

I get to rebuild something beautiful and amazing with my life. No leftovers, all fresh.  A job that while it doesn’t pay anywhere near what I was making, I am caring for those who some might see as the least among us…elderly souls who very much need the loving care of someone who can provide TLC in the form of caring for their personal needs that they can no longer do.  Feed them, change them, love them.  It’s humbling work and it has so changed and softened my heart just in clinicals alone.  Those people do not want to be there, in a nursing home, having lost all they held dear including their independence.  I relate, I get that, I’m right where He wants me to be.

My business I can now start to build with a totally different perspective.  And NOW I WILL do it, with a new heading and new understanding.

And most importantly facing the fact that I’m rejected by some, but not the One who matters.  I’m a daughter of the most high, the very Creator of this universe, restored and at His feet and under His watchful care.  And because I know Him, as we learned today, I know His character, and to be His I must live up to the character of His child.  I won’t do it perfectly, but I will submit to His authority over my life and joyfully serve Him wherever I am led.