Life Happens

From the Heart of Grace Waters…


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Replaceable

Not long ago I lay in my bed with tears running down my face, curled into a tight ball facing away from my husband. Before this, my husband was right in the bed behind me, but I had somehow curled away from him. Thoughts raced through my mind, and before I knew it, the tears fell over the rim of my eyes and cascaded down the curves of my face. Trying to pull myself out of my despair, I asked my husband one simple question…at least I thought it was simple…I asked him, “Would you miss me if I wasn’t here?” My husband, sounding utterly confused, asked what I meant. I asked him would he miss me if I were no longer alive. At this, I felt him perk up in the bed behind me, and he hesitantly asked me where that had come from. I did not want to talk about it, so I told him it was not important. He would not let it go, and eventually I told him that I felt replaceable. I explained to him how I felt that no one would miss me if I were no longer around. Then I delved into the depression I had been battling, and the feeling that no one really cared about me. I admitted to myself that suicidal thoughts can even touch those who are seemingly so strong, and I admitted that right then I was not strong enough. My husband’s next words to me were slightly angry as he asked how I could ever think something like that, then he switched to soothing and encouraging as he told me how much I mean to him and others. He told me that if no one else needed me or cared, he does, and he told me to never think such crazy thoughts again. Then he grabbed me from my tightly curled ball, and would not let me go until I stopped crying and relaxed…learning to trust and daring to believe again. Life happens. Sometimes we feel like no one really cares about us. Many times we smile and laugh, and we try to make people believe that we are worth loving, but take it from me: You are worth loving even if no one seems to believe it. But, first you have to love yourself. I had to understand that my life does have purpose, and that no matter how dark things seem, just like the night-time, the morning has to come. Maybe you are like I was, feeling desperate, lonely, depressed, and seeking a way out. Maybe your prayers have seemed to get only as far as the ceiling as you stare at it. Maybe the words you want to say are not coming out clearly. Just remember one thing…your life matters. You are necessary. You are loved. You are NOT replaceable. You may be fighting, but you are powerful, and with God’s help, you win. I win. Believe.


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Worth the Wait

We live in what many have called the “microwave generation”. Everything seems to come quickly. You want hot food? Warm it up in the microwave. You want money? Try this opportunity and that marketing ploy to get money fast. You want a good relationship? Try the plethora of online dating sites guaranteeing perfect matches? You want to be happy? Go online and shop for more things and spend the money you got through your “get rich quick” scheme. Now, these things are not necessarily negative things to engage in, but they sometimes make us forget that some things do not happen overnight. Many times, the things that have longevity are those that have been cultivated; and the people you see who seem to have “made it”, many times they were working under the radar for a decade or more until their time came to be recognized. It is difficult to feel like you are not seen, or to feel that no one appreciates who you are and what you have to offer, but keep believing. Your time will come too. The amazing thing about you is that you have been pushing through a process that may have sometimes threatened to take you out. Someone else may not have made it through your process, but it was perfectly designed just for you. You have triumphed and cried. Laughed then cried. Danced and cried…and maybe you’re getting tired of the cycle. I understand. Just know that your processing will benefit many because you have been time-tested and process-approved. When it is your time, those whom you are meant to reach will tell you that you are well worth the wait. So, in this time of waiting and wondering if what you have seen will ever come to pass, know that there is a spot in the horizon of time that has been reserved specifically for you. Don’t give up in the waiting area when your name may be the next one to be called. You are relevant and soon the process will make sense. Keep pushing.


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Depths of My Mind

I learned something today. Want to know what it was? If you’re still reading, I assume you do, so thanks for joining me. 🙂 I learned today that I am not crazy, and that’s just as I thought. Today I took a Trauma/Brain class, and in the class we were discussing the effects of Trauma on the brain. We talked about how trauma can be chronic and something that can change the very nature of our DNA, as well as how we think. As we delved into the topic, I began to remember things that happened to me as a child, and I began to understand the reasons behind some of my actions since childhood. The trainer asked us to give examples we could think of regarding some of the effects of trauma, and as people in the class gave their guesses on what the effects could be, I remembered vividly my lived experiences.

I remembered being separated from my mother and being put in foster care. I remembered, even before that, before I was taken away from my mother–the environments in which we lived and in which my brothers and I developed. I even went back and thought about the big, black snake that caused me so much fear as a young child. Most vividly though, in the discussion of how certain experiences change our DNA and how we think, I remembered the molestation. I thought back to the first time my brother’s friend got a little too friendly, then to another time when a friend of the family tried to show their “love” for me, but it would not go as they planned, and then to another time when my supposed “cousin” at one of my foster homes tried to make me feel good…and while I longed for love and attention, some part of me just knew that none of this was right. But, it all came from somewhere. There were others, but those experiences specifically gave me a distinct distrust for men, and even for anyone who claimed to love me. In the depths of my mind, I began to think that no one could just love me without first wanting something from me. I even thought that maybe if I let people “love me” the way they wanted to, I would feel something other than empty. My experiences changed my life, and they made me weary, but they also left me vulnerable.

So vulnerable, in fact, that I made many mistakes as an adult because I really just wanted to be loved, and when I did not feel loved, I took whatever I could get. I hurt others because my voids were so deep that it did not allow me to understand how others could feel. I wanted to be loved. I wanted to feel something besides empty, but the emptiness grew.

Many years have passed since the molestation and since the moments that stole my childhood, but the trauma was still there. I have noticed through the years that I have reacted a certain way to people and situations, and I have seen things a certain way because of my past. Ideally, I could snap my finger and change the circumstances of my childhood, but that is not realistic; however, I have learned to be intentional about changing my mind in specific moments. Now that I have matured, I have come to understand that my life has purpose, and every experience has built me into the woman I am today. I am perfectly imperfect, and my experiences have grown me in a way that I may not have if I had not gone through what I did.

Sometimes things happen that we do not understand, and many times we act without delving into the reasons why we respond to others and situations. Traumatic situations change us, and they scar our hearts/minds. We have to remember, though, that we are not our pasts. We are more than what happened to us. We are no longer that person who was powerless. We are valuable and loved. We deserve love, and we deserve it in the right way. Acknowledge your past and the effects it has had on your present, and work to change your behaviors as you can, but also give yourself some slack when things trigger a memory. There is more. YOU are more.


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Birthing Pains

Infertility. That word alone inspires fear and doubt. It changes lives. It disrupts plans. I know it did for me. I remember years ago when I first got diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). I remember the doctors telling me that something had to be wrong for me to not have been pregnant yet. But, I pushed that aside, and I went on in life as if nothing was wrong. It bothered me subconsciously, but I put on a brave front. I continued encouraging others. Life went on. Recently, I went to a new doctor, and she again talked about my PCOS. She was incredulous at the fact that almost nine years into my marriage, I had still not conceived. She brought up that curse word again: Infertility. This time though, the word gave me more grief. I began to automatically think about the fact that maybe I would never conceive. I immediately wondered what I had done wrong for my body to betray me in such a way. Maybe I did something I should not have. Maybe something was wrong with me. Maybe I was not good enough…fertile enough…woman enough. Woman enough…yeah, that one hurt. You see, I thought that being able to conceive makes one a “real woman”.

As others around me conceived, some of them not even wanting to, I found myself drawing deeper and deeper within myself. I cowered behind my pain, but I put on a mask of happiness and joy, and made everyone think that life was perfect. But it wasn’t. I wanted so bad to have a child. Well meaning friends and associates would often tell me that my time was coming, and I was “next”. They asked randomly if I was pregnant, or if I had tried all I should to conceive. Unbeknownst to them, each question/well-meaning inquiry reinforced my belief that I was not woman enough. What woman cannot conceive on her own? Not a real one, I answered myself. Negative pregnancy test after test, let down after let down, and  every menstrual cycle that decided to show up, I began to question God more and more until I got to a place of being angry with God. This one thing so greatly desired, I had been denied. “Why God?”, I cried. I thought that life was really just unfair.

But somewhere along the way, things shifted in me. I don’t even know when the shift occurred. I just know that one day, the hurt was not as deep, and I was actually looking forward to my life as being an amazing wife to my amazing husband–even if it were just he and I for the rest of our lives. I began to look forward to my “freedom” and to learning more about myself, as well as exploring all else I had not tapped in to. While the desire is still present, and the hurt is still there, I learned to live in the midst of the “birthing pains”, as I came to call them. The hurt has now become just a dull thud in the corner of my heart. In this place on my journey, God reminded me to live. I remembered that there is more to me than having a baby. I have a purpose. I have people to touch. I have a life to lead outside of being a mother. Life can still be fully lived, and I remembered again that I am “woman enough”. I am not broken because I have not conceived. I am not less than anyone else because I have not been blessed in that way. My path has just been different. Maybe one day God will see fit to allow me to be a mother, but even if He does not, my life will be full and happy, and lived well.

I don’t know what you’re dealing with that you haven’t told anyone. Maybe you’re hurting in a place that you believe you will never recover from. Maybe even your close friends do not realize the extent of your hurt, but know that God knows all. If you don’t believe in God, I hope to convince you otherwise :-), but know that life is not over because of that one thing you may not have. Every obstacle, every pain, every setback, and every moment of frustration is all a part of the “birthing pains” to your purpose. You never know the lives you will touch because of your experience. So when you are ready, remember that it is time for you to live again. Don’t allow life to make you settle for “just good enough” because you cannot have your greatest desire. Live in expectancy of greatness. Love, laugh, live fully. There is really more to you than this moment…


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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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Disqualified

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.