Life Happens

From the Heart of Grace Waters…


Leave a comment

What Kind of World Is This?

I had an interesting experience recently, and it made me really start considering the world we live in. Now, I am not in the least bit naive, nor do I walk around with rose-colored glasses believing that “everything is awesome;” however, I tend to believe the best in a situation as much as possible. Recently though, my optimistic nature took a crushing blow as I had to consider some unfortunate realities. Now, what I say in this post is not to be inflammatory or place blame on anyone. It is, however, the reality I had to face. Unfortunately, I had a death in the family and had to make plans to travel with my family for the home going service (funeral). Of course, with a new baby there are many things to consider. What I did not expect to have to consider is the safety of my family just because of the color of our skin.

As I began to plan the route and hotel stays, etc, I found myself googling “safe cities to stop in for black people,” and considering when to travel in an effort not to be on long stretches of highway at night. I started thinking about how to stay under the radar as to not draw the attention of police or anyone looking to cause trouble. It is not that we would be doing anything wrong or even going where we were not supposed to. I was considering our world’s climate. I vacillated back and forth, knowing that not all cops are bad and all people are not driven by hatred based on the color of someone’s skin; however, the fact that I even had to consider our safety JUST BECAUSE of the color of our skin hurt my heart.

I know racism and hatred have been a part of our society for years, but the blatant issues of the last few years have constantly drained me. When did it become acceptable to hate someone and show that hatred because of the color of their skin, nationality, sexual preference, gender, etc? Just because I don’t agree or have differing opinions regarding something should not give me a right to act inappropriately towards another. What happened to love, to giving people a chance, to being better than our base instincts? What would happen if we chose love?

How unfortunate it is that people have to consider their safety because of their difference, and that being able to live is seen as a privilege, not a right. What happened to our world? As I type this, my heart bleeds for those feeling marginalized, oppressed, disregarded, and unnecessary…for those who silently wonder if the person next to them secretly hates them…for those who just want to enjoy life but are constantly on edge. My heart hurts for you.

So, my experience of planning our trip brought up some deep feelings I did not realize were present to that extent. This makes me know that there are many people struggling with their own feelings. It may not be about race. It could be about gender, or sexual orientation, or age…either way, people are struggling, so when do we decide to change our world?

Maybe what starts in the mind and heart can transition to action…just maybe…

Advertisements


Leave a comment

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?


Leave a comment

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.


Leave a comment

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.


Leave a comment

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.


Leave a comment

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.


Leave a comment

The First Step

I’ve heard it said that the journey of a thousand miles begins with taking the first step. I agree. However, life does not always allow you to be able to think of a thousand mile journey when you’re struggling to get through today. For some of us, it really is about one day at a time, step-by-step, and acknowledging the moments as they take place. Sometimes our journey is about understanding that we cannot always jump from 0-100 without addressing the 1, 2, 3, 4…in between. When we try to think that far ahead, it can be overwhelming, frustrating, and heartbreaking. I learned something recently that I thought I would share. In my head I had plans for all of the great things I will eventually do. I was excited about every dream I have seen, and every desire being fulfilled. I still am excited, so that has not changed. In my excitement though, I began to look at my current situation. It seemed no one believed in my vision but me. I could not figure out how I could go from my today and get to that dream moment when my current situation may not lend credence to anything I have dreamed. Once I began to overshadow excitement with doubt, frustration, and covered my eyes, I lost the ability to see. My dream was still there. It had not changed its position. It had not become impossible. I had simply refused to take the first step because I was afraid that I would never reach my destination. I became encased in fear and doubt rather than trusting that each step would bring me closer to my goal. Instead of doing something, I did nothing, which in turn got me nowhere but stuck in a rut of my own making. So, to you who may be considering a dream. Don’t let yourself become overwhelmed by seeming obstacles and impossibilities. Don’t be afraid to take that first step, then to take the subsequent steps. Eventually that thousand mile journey will go down to 800 miles, 600 miles, 400 miles, 200 miles, and at some point you will realize that you have reached your destination. You can make it to what you have seen, if only you will take it one day at a time, and take the first step.