Life Happens

From the Heart of Grace Waters…


Do I Really Matter?

A question as old as time itself…and an answer that can be heartbreaking…this question often reverberates through our minds. It makes sense because we are only human, but sometimes acknowledging the fragility of our humanity does not offer us solace when the answer to this question leaves us wanting. What happens when you ask yourself this question, then you look around at the “evidence” in your life, but you can’t find anything that seems to lean towards the answer being a resounding “yes”? Do you just stop trying? Do you give in to the depression that waits just an inch outside of your proverbial bubble? Do you even dare to keep believing that you will see everything your heart could ever hope for? Do you?

For some reason, I have been in this place of wondering if who I am and what I do matters? With all that I give, and in each of my businesses, I have still wondered if I am talking to and encouraging myself. Seeming lack of response, and watching what seemed like everyone else supporting others, left me in a low place. I stopped writing. I stopped encouraging. I stopped hoping. I hid myself in plain view, but I was not me. The funny thing was…no one seemed to notice. That left me even deeper in the hole of depression until those old thoughts of just disappearing and never coming back began to resurface. Yeah, those negative and dismal thoughts that are only supposed to apply to anyone else but a motivator…those thoughts. I was in a rough place.

Finally, I couldn’t take that place anymore, and I cried out to God hoping that at least He could see me. He could. He never left. I just stopped believing. So, piece by piece, I began to rebuild my broken heart and shattered dreams. No, no one came to my rescue, and yes it still feels at times that no one cares, but who I am and what I do is about more than just me. If I don’t write, who will miss being encouraged because I didn’t do it? If I don’t speak, who would miss hearing the very words that could save their lives? If I don’t mentor and coach, what young person will grow up believing that they don’t matter? If I am not me, someone else is affected. Even when it doesn’t feel like it, that one truth remains.

Your life matters, and maybe you get tired of giving and not seeming to receive, but keep believing that one day things will look so different. One day you will look back at these times and thank God you didn’t quit when it was easier to just walk away. There is something so magnetic and necessary about you, so don’t allow life to lie to you. Your circumstances are not bigger than you. The hurt can’t conquer you. You MATTER.


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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.

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Uncomfortable Reflections

As the year draws to a close, many are looking back over the year and reckoning with the decisions they made throughout the year. Others are celebrating a great year. Still others are standing in limbo because they never quite caught up with the year, and now they are facing another year filled with its own uncertainties and obstacles to overcome. All of this is normal as the end of the year tends to be one of introspection. It definitely is for me. I remember coming in to 2016 “bright-eyed and bushy-tailed” as the saying goes. I remember my high hopes and declarations regarding this being the greatest year of my life. 2016 was a year supposedly filled with endless possibilities and unlimited greatness. At least that was my plan. I forgot that my plans have never quite worked out as I have imagined. Now, that is not to say that there were not great moments this year, because there were many of them. I accomplished a lot. I learned many things about myself and others. Somewhere in this year, I recognized myself again, and I realized I like who I have become. I also experienced one of the greatest periods of depression I have ever had. I almost gave up on a lot of things more times than I can count. There was a point where I did not like myself, nor believe in my value. Low moments. High moments. Such is life. With the euphoria of the new year, I forgot that life sometimes happens, and I forgot that sometimes bitter comes with sweet. But at the end of an interesting year, I can say that I have come a long way. Perfection? Not at all. Better? Definitely. Now, I could be fearful about what the new year will bring. Believe me, a part of me wants to be. But I won’t.  I could allow my doubt and frustration to make me believe that my dreams and goals that I did not accomplish this year will never come to pass. But, I would be doing myself a disservice. I could do many things, but one thing I will do is believe that this upcoming year will bring more sweet than bitter, and more finish lines being reached than cramps along the way. So as you approach this new year, don’t refuse to reflect or have resolutions. Acknowledge your truth for the year, and choose how your next year will be. Decide to be purposeful. Decide to be successful. Decide to perform even with opposition and/or lack of support. Choose to be you. Opportunity is waiting on the other side of your uncertainty. 

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Alone Surrounded By People

This goes out to all of those who are alone surrounded by people. An oxymoron I know, but to those who feel or have felt this way, it makes sense. Just imagine being in a room where you’re standing in the very center of the room. All around you people are talking and having a great time. They may even be engaging you in conversation; however, you feel disconnected, disregarded, and unnecessary. On the outside you smile and participate, but inside you wonder if anyone really sees you. I understand. I’ve been there. Sometimes all the cares of life converge on you at the same time. Maybe you have tried to express yourself to people, but they could not or would not understand. Maybe you thought that the people who care about you the most would “just get it”. Unfortunately, that is not always how things work. I understand the feeling of being overlooked and unappreciated. I understand the loneliness and the hurt. I understand the desire for someone, anyone, to prove to you that you are valued. In a perfect world, people would just know what those in their circle need. This is not a perfect world, but that does not mean you have to remain in your loneliness. Personally, I believe in God, so I know that with Him I am never alone. I also have come to understand that there are always people who love me. Even one is enough. Don’t allow yourself to be so caught up in the loneliness that you neglect to understand just how pivotal you are to the world around you. So, I dare you to reach out. To hope again. To dream again. To join the story of your life as an active participant. You matter.

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Bye, Bye 2014

Get ready for the new years resolutions! Prepare for everyone telling you of all the great things they have planned for the new year. Many of these same people will be the ones who had the greatest plans for 2014, but many things were not accomplished. While it is great to make plans, there has to be a method of accomplishing those things we have planned. When I think over 2014, it was a rough year. Many of the plans I made did not come to fruition. Some of them because it was not yet time for them to be. Others because I did not create a method for making them come to pass. The rest of the plans I just “forgot” about when the path seemed too difficult. In 2014, there were many ups, and a lot of downs, and I wanted so many things. Alas, the new year is here and many things are left undone. I could wallow in self-pity. I could lament the fact that I missed out on so many things. I could even get depressed and swear off making any new years resolutions for 2015. I could do all of that, but I won’t. Instead of going to the extreme of not making any plans, I will ensure that the resolutions I make have plans behind them. Rather than just saying I want to be in good shape, I have decided to write out how I will be fit, what I will do, and when I will do it. Instead of just saying that I will publish my book, I have to create a plan for marketing, distribution, etc. 2014 was a year of just saying the things I wanted to happen. 2015 is the year of having those things actually come to pass beyond my words. So, bye-bye 2014, I will not miss you. There are many things I wish I had accomplished, but the year was not wasted. I learned many lessons. I dealt with many trials. 2014 left me better, not bitter. Bye, Bye 2014. Hello 2015. This year, words become few, but actions become greater. Bye, Bye 2014.

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Behind The Clouds

Sometimes life is tough. It really is. Believe me,  I know. One thing after another seems to go wrong, and sometimes we can’t see our way clearly. It is almost like those days when fog is so heavy, that it makes going forward dangerous; yet during those times we press forward to reach our destination. Life is like that. Regardless of what is ahead, what we can see and what we cannot, we have to press forward. Staying stuck where we are almost guarantees that we will never be who we know we are supposed to be. Even when we do not believe it ourselves,  there is something deep in each of us fighting to be free. So when life throws seemingly everything it has at us, do we give up? Do we throw in the proverbial towel? Do we turn our faces to the wall and try to ignore what is going on? No. We have to understand that even on the darkest days, the sun still shines behind the clouds, even if we cannot see. The sun never becomes less bright, just less noticeable at times. So, maybe it is cloudy in your world right now.  Maybe it seems you are surrounded by things falling apart. Maybe you feel all alone. Maybe you are hurting deep down inside, wishing someone would notice. Behind the clouds there is still sunshine. No, things may not be better at this moment, but they will be. You keep believing. Know that what is in you is stronger than what is going on around you. You are built to withstand it all. Keep looking up. The sun will show  in just a little while