Life Happens

From the Heart of Grace Waters…

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Internal Embrace

Many of us have been encouraged over and over to be and do the person we know we can be, but sometimes we remain stuck instead of branching out and embracing what is unfamiliar or uncomfortable for us. We remain stuck sometimes out of fear: What if “they” won’t hear me, or what if “they” don’t like me? What if I am not relevant and no one cares what I have to say? What if I do what I know I should be doing, and it doesn’t seem to be effective? What if I fail? What if I succeed? We are often overwhelmed with the “what if” questions and low self-confidence, until a time comes along that we have no choice but to embrace who we are.

Last night, I had a somewhat “out-of-body” experience. I went to a meeting that I initially had not planned to attend, and I was partly distracted as I had other things I was doing at the same time. At one point in the meeting, the facilitator of the meeting said my name, and I looked up. When he said my name, it was not to have me do anything, but by him saying my name, my attention returned to the meeting. As we sat in the room, one of the participants began to talk about something that had been bothering him and he generally needed encouragement. Within me I felt a stirring that I have not felt as strongly ever before, but in my head I was telling myself to let the moment pass because I did not want to draw attention to myself. As soon as the gentleman stopped talking, the facilitator said to him that I was someone who could encourage and speak to him. Put on the spot, I had a choice to hide behind my insecurities, or embrace who I know myself to be. So, without further prompting, and without a script, I poured encouragement and strength into a young man I had never met before. As the tears began to flow down this young man’s face, I felt my heart, mind, and spirit come together in an internal embrace. I had my “epiphany moment” where I really came to terms with exactly what I am on earth to do and be.

Despite how I felt, and despite not planning to go to the meeting in the first place, I was right where I was supposed to be, doing what I am supposed to be doing. It felt good. It felt right. So, maybe you have stopped yourself from fully embracing who you are. It is not too late. Maybe you don’t believe in yourself. It is time that you do. Someone is waiting on you to give to them exactly what they need.

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Sometimes when we take a look at our lives, we may not be satisfied. Maybe we are not married with 2.5 children and a dog, or maybe we are divorced and now single. Maybe we had a baby out-of-wedlock, or maybe we had a baby with someone else while married to another. Maybe we made a horrible mistake and did someone terribly wrong, or maybe we responded the wrong way when someone did us wrong. Maybe we said the wrong thing, thought the wrong thing, or looked the other way instead of offering assistance when we could have. Maybe, just maybe, we have not been perfect, and maybe, just maybe, that made us think that we are undeserving of some things. Or maybe I am the only one who has felt that way.

When I look at my life, I can directly pinpoint the times I have messed up–and I don’t mean like a little “white lie” type mess up, but the kind where lives were disrupted, and I almost contemplated taking my own life rather than face up to the misery I had caused. Yes, I have messed up that bad. After it was all said and done, I felt that I had been disqualified from the good things in life. I could not fathom having a clean heart again and enjoying life. It was unthinkable that one day I could escape from the prison of my own mind, and live in the freedom of being forgiven. Because of my mistakes, I thought that I deserved whatever bad came my way, and me not receiving some of my greatest hearts’ desires just had to be the punishment that I endured. I was afraid to trust, afraid to believe, afraid to hope. I disqualified myself. I forgot about this God that I said I believed in–the one who said that I could be forgiven. I put aside my faith, in a backwards sort of way doing penance for the wrong I had done. Every bad thing that came up in my life, I took it as a rightful consequence for the person I had been. I was broken. Miserable. But fooling others.

Then one day, I understood that while there are consequences for every action, if something is meant for me it will happen regardless of what I have done. I began to understand that the rest of my life does not have to be a makeup session for one or two mistakes. I hesitantly began to believe in the desires of my heart, and expect them to come true. I peeked out from behind my prison walls, and began to hope, finally beginning to understand that the very things that I thought had completely made me unworthy, had actually been what qualified me to appreciate the blessings on the way. Because I had struggled, I could help someone else find their way out of the swamp of despair. ¬†Because I had almost lost my mind, I could now be a compass for someone whose life is foggy. Because I had endured, I could offer strength to someone who feels a little weak. Because I failed, I could show others how to succeed. Because I was “that”, I could show others how to be better.

So now, though I am not proud of everything in my life, I am grateful for the lessons that they taught. I am grateful for the love that was brought out of me because people loved me in the mess I was in. I am better today than I was, and I am stronger because I refused to give up–even in the worst of times. If you are going through a rough time right now, where maybe you have disqualified yourself from receiving good things, it is time to get back up. We all fall, but what determines our future is our decision to either get back up, or stay down. I challenge you to stand. I challenge you to be more. I challenge you to be qualified.

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The Door to Our Next

As I sit and watch the farewell address of President Obama, I am filled with mixed emotions. Sadness of course, because despite the things I did not agree with, President Obama did accomplish many things and was an overall phenomenal class act. Sadness is followed by uncertainty, because now I do not know what to expect as our country is asked to embrace a new President with ¬†a decided lack of experience, and one who has said many things that leave many Americans nervous and unsure. Hope, because despite that incoming president not having experience and saying many things I did not like, I still believe that anyone can do some good with guidance and encouragement. Excitement, more so for President Obama and his family, because now they can finally go on and live their lives outside of the always present watchful eye of Americans and the world. Feeling blessed because I have been able to watch President Obama’s journey, and been privy to the changes going on in our society–good and bad. As my heart is full of mixed emotions, it reminds me that, as life always does, things will move on. None of us knows exactly what to expect as we transition to our next, but we do know that we will get to what is next. So, as with life, instead of focusing on the negative, sometimes we have to take a step back and understand that one of our greatest gifts is being able to rebuild from the rubble. This means being able to embrace those who are different, being empathetic to those whom we have previously chosen to misunderstand, and deciding to be better rather than bitter. President Obama’s journey has been one to watch, but as one door closes, another one opens. Will we be ready to walk through that door into greater, or will we choose to be stuck in the past? This is all of our journey. Our choice.

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A Journey of Self-Discovery

In a year, many things can happen. Births, deaths, job changes, business opportunities, and so much more. For me, it seems that 2016 flew by, and as I reviewed my year I was not totally satisfied. Part of that was my fault, but some things were just beyond my control. One thing that ended up being a great thing, though the process was not always fun, is that I got to know a lot of things about myself. These were things I learned to love about who I am, but I also learned some things about me that I needed to change so that my new year could be effective. So, we will start with the not so great. In 2016, I learned that I could be self-centered and passive aggressive; I could be self-loathing and in many instances I lacked confidence. I learned that I sometimes went too far to get others to like/love me, and I often put myself on the back burner trying to please everyone else. I learned that I shied away from attention because I did not want to be rejected, and I did not believe in myself, because it seemed others did not believe in me. I learned, in 2016, that I had a heart, but it had been misplaced. I learned that I did not want to be that way. But, in addition to the negative, I learned great things about myself. I learned that because my heart is so big, I have so much love to give. I learned that my insecurities, while not always warranted, kept me from being arrogant and prideful. I learned that my uniqueness, honesty, and the essence of who I am, attracts those people and things that are necessary and a blessing in my life. I even learned that my intuition is usually great, and that it is ok to keep moving forward rather than getting stuck in my past. In 2016, I learned to let go. I learned to be me. I learned that though I am not perfect, I am beautiful, necessary, and valuable just as I am. I have things that need to change, but that is one of the best things in life–the fact that we can change. The past year was one of self-discovery. So, maybe your year was not everything you wanted it to be. Maybe things did not happen as you thought they would, but it is up to you to be better in this year. 2017 is an open door that only you can choose to walk through. Be better. Love yourself. Let go of negativity. The best really is yet to come.