Life Happens

From the Heart of Grace Waters…


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When Life Shifts

Life happens quickly. Some things we can prepare for, while other things happen without us being able to get ready. Either way, once things shift, we have to determine our response to it. My life has been a steady avalanche of changes over the past few months. There have been some things I was anticipating, but often there have been things that were completely unexpected. Take the birth of my first child, for instance…my pregnancy was “normal” for a while, but towards the end, complications arose that changed every one of my birth plans. It would have been easy to stay completely stressed out due to the complications, but I had to make a conscious decision to be at ease. No, my first child was not born like I wanted, but the end result is that she is here. That in itself is enough.

Life has this way of reminding us that there are some things that will forever be beyond our control. How we respond to what happens can determine the next steps and how things play out for us. By learning to let go of the notion of always being in control, and remembering that when life shifts we were created to also be able to shift, we can make things just a bit easier for ourselves. The beauty of life is that even when things change, everything eventually works itself out. So, don’t get caught up in the shift. Flow with it.

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Fruitful Barrenness

I remember it like it was just yesterday…”you have PCOS…” Then, I remember as the doctor’s, year-after-year, told me that I would need medications to regulate everything. As time went on, doctor’s begin to talk about infertility. I watched them make faces each time they asked about birth control and I denied using any. They asked about how long I had been married, and they made more faces. I saw it in their faces before they told me it would be highly unlikely that I would be able to have children due to my condition. Then, my last doctor stopped returning my calls, letting me know there was nothing else she could do unless I opted for an experimental surgery that could possibly help. So, there I was, at the end of the line, or so I thought.

But during the journey, despite the heartache and struggles, in spite of watching so many others get what I so desperately desired, I was planting seeds. I encouraged others. I pushed others to believe. I wiped others’ tears. In the back of my mind I knew that even in my heartache, others still needed me to be who God created me to be. Slowly, I began to see the fruits of my labor. I saw people at the moment they chose to keep believing. I watched as others saw their dreams realized, and I rejoiced. Aching inside, I celebrated the fact that while my body appeared to barren, my spirit was alive and well. It was a daily battle, but one I chose not to lose.

Just as I remember the doctor’s telling me about the blemish in me, I remember the day I started feeling a bit “strange.” It was an uncanny feeling, and I took a pregnancy test more to rule out the possibility than to affirm it. To my surprise, what I had almost given up on had become a reality. Three more tests later, I finally believed. My body had rejected what the doctor’s told me.

Ten years later, I am finally seeing what was becoming a distant hope. This was a reaffirming moment, a necessary moment.

So, today I come to encourage you. Maybe you have some things you are believing will come to pass. Maybe the naysayers are more rampant than the encouragers. Keep believing even if the belief shrinks to just a glow in the corner of your heart. In the waiting season, sow into others. Be to others what you sometimes need people to be to you. In your barren place, be fruitful. Let your spirit flourish in the midst of. This is not the end.


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Life Check In

So, how are those New Year resolutions going? Are you sticking to them, or has life succeeded in influencing you to kick them to the side? For me, life has been something else, but I intentionally didn’t make resolutions knowing that life will take that as a challenge sometimes. Instead, I declared that this year I would be “better.” This means that as much as I may have gotten off track last year, as long as I don’t do what I did last year, I qualify as being better. Now, to some that may seem to be a low threshold; after all, not doing what you did before does not make you your best, right? Wrong. Continuously striving for better gets you ever closer to that elusive “best;” however, if I can never see improvement, it is much easier to get stuck in the mire of “not good enough.” I refuse to be stuck.

So, no matter how far off from your resolve you have wandered, I have some breadcrumbs to get you back on track. Each day that seems a bit off, strive to do the next day differently. The beautiful thing about life is that there are numerous chances to start again from right where we are. It’s up to us how many times we take advantage of the fresh start. So, maybe this first month of the new year has challenged you and won, but tomorrow is another day for you to fight back. Are you ready?


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Grow Through It

I had the opportunity to travel to Hawaii recently in celebration of my 10 year wedding Anniversary. I was excited to rest and relax, but even more excited to have no real plans for about two weeks. As my husband and I drove to our hotel from the airport, I admired the view. The landscape was different, but beautiful. I saw the water, and then I saw the volcano rock. All around, there was rock. I wondered about wildlife and vegetation in this area of the drive. Then, I started noticing a grass-like growth seemingly right from the rocks. I admired the steadfastness of the growth and the fact that while nothing else was growing out of that rock, this grass was. I remarked to my husband how amazing that was, then I began to ponder on the significance of what was going on. It made me do some thinking about life. Sometimes our situations seem dark and do not, seemingly, have a foundation from which we can grow. In the midst of our trials, we despair. We fret. We struggle to see the end of the process; But we forget that every process produces growth within us. Just like the grass growing out of the rocks, out of a hard and impossible place, we too grow and evolve. We SURVIVE. The situations may not be ideal, and we may not like how we come to our growth moments, but it happens. So, we have to be as resilient as that grass growing out of the rock. Keep growing. Refuse to bend. Decide not to let go. But grow through it. Thrive. Be. Do. Just because you can.


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Good Enough

Have you ever thought to yourself, “I’m just not good enough”, and you believed it deep down on the inside of you? Have you found yourself comparing yourself to someone else’s greatness, and finding your own self severely lacking? When was the last time you looked at yourself and said, “I am good just how I am?” Are you still thinking? That long, huh? Yeah, I understand.

I had a discussion with someone not long ago, and he reminded me that in the whirlwind of all that I do, I had lost the capacity to consider myself. I helped everyone else. I got pleasure from seeing others happy. But when he asked me what makes me happy, it took a while to think about it. Caught up in everyone else, I realized that part of my drive to make everyone happy was so that they didn’t look at me and see that I was struggling. I didn’t want anyone to see that I didn’t think I was good enough to live up to the big dreams God put in me, so I pushed everyone else’s vision, supported everyone else, encouraged everyone else…and somewhere along the way, I forgot about me. It is easy to do. Sometimes, we get so great at hiding our need from others that they begin to think we don’t need anything from them, and they become content allowing you to push their vision while yours gets dropped off on the side of the road. It’s not totally their fault. But as I spoke with this person, I began to remember the dreams I had put on the top shelf, not totally out of reach, but far enough away so that I wasn’t bothered by the sight of unrealized dreams.

I understood again that if the dreams were given to me, then I am good enough to function in them. It is timeout for losing the essence of me trying to be everything else for everyone else. Not to say that we shouldn’t support others and help push others, but not at the detriment of losing ourselves in the process. So maybe you have allowed yourself to believe that you’re not good enough, pretty enough, old enough, young enough, popular enough…destroy the lie. You ARE good enough. Now own it.


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My Truth

I am socially awkward. I am that one who CAN talk to everyone in the room, but probably won’t. The wallflower that is vibrant and vivacious, but would rather stay to myself. That one who loves everyone, but still gravitates to seeking my own company. I used to wonder why God gave me the personality He did. Why did he make me quiet and observant as opposed to outgoing and the life of the party? Why couldn’t he make me to be the one with a whole lot of friends and associates, rather than the one with very few friends and even fewer associates? I have watched those who seem to be well-liked by everyone, and I wondered about their secret. Then I tried to mimic who they were, but it made me feel fake and out of pocket. Eventually, I came to realize that the me the way God created me to be would have to do.

If you think about it, all of us having the same personalities would make for a very bland world. No differences. Same way of doing things. There is a place in society for all of us. For the quintessential wallflower, the gregarious life of the party, the easygoing in-the-moment participant…all of us. Now, I know that our lives sometimes shape who we are. Looking back at my childhood, my experiences shaped me to be unnaturally suspicious of anyone I encounter. Trusting someone is not always first on my list. Then as I grew older, my own mistakes led me into hiding. I used to think, “What if they knew all the things I have done. The wrong I have done to others…THAT mistake? Would they still think I had value?” But that is a mindset that has to be broken. Our lives lead to us portraying ourselves in certain ways, then we project that on others and stop being true to ourselves. I decided I would live my truth.

So now, when I say I am a wallflower, it is not out of fear of what people think about me. It is because I have learned to speak when I have something to say. But, I am the one in the gathering who will most likely be off to myself. Not antisocial. Not standoffish. Just comfortable in who I am. It took years to get here, but it has been worth the journey. Spend time getting to know yourself, and being comfortable with who you are. Your experiences shaped you, but they don’t define the rest of your story.


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Silent Tears

Sometimes you just hurt. Not that surface kind of hurt, but that deep-down, soul-wrenching, unexplainable hurt. That hurt that seems to invade every facet of your life until you find yourself drifting through each day, pasting on the appropriate smile, and saying just the right things. But that pain deep inside is there as a constant reminder that things really are not as they seem. I have been there. “Where is there?” you may ask. There is where you silently cry as your significant other sleeps beside you. You soak the pillow with your tears, feeling lonely even in your togetherness. As you cry, your body shakes as you try to control the sobs from breaking free and disturbing their sleep. I mean, they wouldn’t understand anyways, right? There is trying to describe to someone you love how you feel, attempting to rid yourself of this vast feeling of going nowhere and mattering to no one, and them responding, “Well, you have a good life, right?” as if that makes what you are saying and how you are feeling null and void. Yeah, they missed it. Or, maybe you search through your mind polling the many phone numbers in your phone, but not one catches your attention as someone you can call and have them talk you out of this lonely place. 

I mean, when you look at the surface, life is great, right? You have everything you need and some things you want. You have a loving partner, maybe family and friends, even some children sprinkled in there. You are the one everyone depends on to encourage them and be there for them, but sometimes you want to shout “WHAT ABOUT ME?” On the surface, you have it going on,  but no one knows you’re struggling with being a hamster running around the proverbial wheel of life, seeming to get nowhere, but running because that is what you were told to do. The days spent building up others’ dreams while you see yours collecting dust on the shelves are tough days, but you grin and bear it. You have no choice, right? Working a 9-5 you hate because your family has to eat, right? Pushing others to be great when you want to give up. Yeah, I know what “there” is. But even with all of this that no one ever sees, you manage to make life look amazing. 

That is because even with all of that, it really is. Even with the soul-searing pain, at least you can still feel. Even with the loneliness, at least you still function. Even when it seems no one on earth understands or cares, there is still One who knows just what He is doing every step of the way. Maybe you are in the place I described. It is a ROUGH place, it is, but it is not the end. You may feel like giving up. Been there. Suicide has crossed my mind several times. That is not the answer. That is only hurting others because you hurt. Next up, getting in a car and just driving…disappearing like you see in the movies. Yeah, that would not work. Eventually someone would find you or you would just get tired of running from yourself. Well, maybe if I turn my back on God who doesn’t seem to care anyway, and I just do whatever I want, that will change things. Nope. Same issues just masked by “good times” which are really camoflauging empty moments. 

Sometimes just acknowledging the feelings is the first step. Acknowledging that you are broken and hurting, feeling unnecessary and overlooked, seemingly unproductive and thinking you can be easily replaced, yeah, that is the first step. Unfortunately, this may be a journey you take alone. It may be the roughest journey you ever embark on, but in the end, if you can acknowledge it, you can beat it. So, yeah, maybe there will be a few nights, weeks, months, of tear-soaked pillows…Maybe your phone will become useless as you can’t figure out anyone to call, but in the end you win. Let the silent tears flush out the bitterness and the hurt. Allow yourself to be in the moment, and know that as long as there is a tomorrow, there is another chance for things to get better from here. It has to get better. It just does.