Life Happens

From the Heart of Grace Waters…

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Delayed Childhood

Life can be strange, but wonderful at the same time. We all have different experiences and so many factors contribute to making us who we are at this present moment. Some of those experiences have been amazing and life-changing, while other experiences have been desperate, but still life-changing. Many of us remember tears and laughter, ups and downs, victories and setbacks–a constant cycle of “good” versus “bad” in the constant cacophony of a our individual worlds. Looking back, I see situations that, at the time, I perceived as bad, and I mean REALLY bad, but they ultimately worked out for my good. I also see situations that I thought were good that were actually wolves hidden in sheep’s skin, and I probably should have never gotten involved. Either way, the experiences shape us and prepare us for what is to come. So, as I began to ruminate on life and the roller coaster it has been, I realized that some things that I had going on now were due to my delayed childhood.

The low self-esteem issues that I never dealt with caused me to be a hesitant and uncertain adult. I began to think I was not good enough and that no one could ever love me. I did not think that anyone would value my opinion or what I had to say. I shrunk back from attention believing that people would realize I was worthless, and begin to treat me as such. I did not believe in me. This was all because growing up in foster care, not everyone believed I would be anything. I remember the one foster parent who was talking to someone else (thinking I would not hear about it), who said I would not graduate college. Instead, I was supposed to end up pregnant and drop out of college; thus, in their eyes, becoming worthless. I remember that same foster parent telling my boyfriend at that time that he was too good for me, and me finding out just how low I was thought of by the person who was supposed to be my parent. Over the years and various homes, each time they sent me away, I felt I was not good enough. There had to be something about me that made me unworthy. No one wanted me. Or so it seemed. But then, HE wanted me. He showed me attention. He said nice things, but then he too showed me I was worthless when HE took my childhood innocence. HE cared about what he could get from me, but even he thought I was disposable. So, I grew up way too soon. I rehearsed what had been said and done. I believed it. So, when I finally came to a place of realizing that even I have a purpose, I denied it. What if what “they” said was true? What if I really am not good enough? What if I try and fail? What if no one cares? What if I really am as worthless as “they” believed I was. What if I fail God? What if no one values me? What if….? So, somewhere in there, I really believed that I was not enough for my journey, and that I was not built to succeed.

But piece by piece, God begin to put my “puzzle” back together. Here and there my confidence was built. One person at a time, my heart begin to mend, and I began to believe that maybe, just maybe, I was good enough to make it to the end. Peeking around the corner, I began to see the warm glimmer of hope. Timidly I stepped out on a faith road, and inch-by-inch, I began to make my way towards a tiny light I saw on the horizon. Then one day, I looked up from my travels, and I looked back realizing just how far I had come. But, then the reminders began. “Just because you made it this far doesn’t mean you will finish,” is what my mind told me. I had a Sherman Clump moment from one of my favorite movies when the memories became too much. Instead of giving in to the noise, I shouted within myself, “Yes, I Can!” So step-by-step I began to believe. As each memory resurfaced and each reminder threatened to envelop me, I fixed my eyes on the light and repeated to myself, “I Am Enough. I Am Enough. I Am Enough!”–until I believed it.

So maybe you are traveling on your journey, and everything in life tries to tell you that you will not make it. Maybe your childhood was delayed like mine and all of your stuff from then seems to be coming up now. I am here to remind you that YOU are enough. You can make it. You will make it. Even if it is an uphill climb and a daily mantra you have to recite, YOU have to believe in you, and know that if you can keep your eye on the light in front of you, you can succeed. Life can throw some hard blows. Things can be bitter and desperate, but they can also be enlightening and amazing. Bitter with the sweet, yeah, I know. But in the end, you win. So pick yourself up. Dust yourself off. Set your eyes on what is in front of you, and refuse to lose. You ARE enough.


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When My Earth Stood Still

I remember it like it was yesterday…that day when my entire life shifted. Never could I have imagined that things would ever turn out the way they had. I never thought that I could EVER do what I had done. Never. But it did. I did. The worst thing was…I couldn’t take it back. I could regret it. I could apologize for it. But I could never take it back. This “it” became something upon which I based so much of my life from that point forward. Yes, I know you may be curious about this “it”, but suffice it to say that it’s something I thought I could never be a part of. Six years ago, I proved myself wrong, and my earth stood still. I was on the precipice of who I was before, and who I would become because of what happened. I did not lose all of my earthly possessions, but in the aftermath of what I have deemed “my greatest mistake”, I lost my sense of self. I lost my confidence in who I was and who I could become. I began to believe that I would be nothing, that I could not have good things, and that my one mistake had disqualified me from all things to come. I took on a sense of false humility, and I began to allow people to treat me in the way that I had come to accept as my fate–all because I messed up. I remember what it was like before “the great mistake”. I cannot say that things were perfect, but things were going mostly according to plan. I could see the future, and for the most part it was great; however, there was a void that I tried to fill, and my attempt created a hurricane in my life. Maybe you have been there. Maybe you did something you thought you would never do. Maybe you think less of yourself, and you give in to others’ negative thoughts about you. Or, maybe you have never made that “great mistake”, but you have judged others for what they have done because it seems they got away with it. Believe me, that is NEVER the case. You may not see the consequences, but they are always there. I lost me. I stopped loving me–for a long time. I no longer believed I could be all of the things God created me to be because I was blemished, flawed, messed up…I was so low. It took a few years, but slowly, things started to shift. While I still remember the pain I caused others, and the defeat I felt within myself, I began to crawl out of the hole. An uphill journey, I picked up my “cross” again. I decided to stop being that low person, and slowly, I began to believe again. Almost at a snails’ pace, I picked up the pieces of my shattered heart and the tendrils of my low self-esteem, and I began to embrace confidence. Now, this was not that confidence in which you KNOW without a doubt that you are better than where you are. No, this confidence was that kind where I embraced the fact that I was not as low as I had allowed myself to become, and I understood that there had to be more than where I was.  Afraid to come out of my shell, I crawled out. When people got too close, I sometimes ducked back in, but I made myself continue coming out. When I felt judged, I ducked back in, but I kept coming out. When I had to endure hurt because of the hurt I caused, I learned to take it, but not stay in the hurt. Eventually, I began to resemble the woman I once knew. It’s interesting that the day my earth stood still was also the day that my life changed for the better. I did not realize it then, but that day birthed something out of me that was necessary. It hurt to birth it. I never would have chosen this path if I had been given the choice, but it was necessary. I remember what it was like to have things come to an abrupt stop, but now as I revel in my journey, I can finally say that my earth has started to spin again. I believe again. I can BE again. It hurt, but it was worth it. If you are going through something, and it seems things will never shift for you, endure the process. Watch as your earth starts to spin again.

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Forgiving Yourself

I have found that my husband is my counselor. I counsel people all day long, but then I come home to be counseled. It is necessary. I had a conversation a few days ago with my husband as we were visiting family in Georgia. We began to talk about life and how we have been affected by things that have happened to us. I brought up some things that happened in our marriage and asked him if he would change anything about us. My husband said no because all things happen for a reason. I then asked him if he had forgiven me for some things. He said that he has forgiven me, but then he turned things around on me and said that it seems that I have not yet forgiven myself. That stopped me in my tracks. In that small statement, he said something so profound and life changing that it took me a moment to come back to the conversation at hand. Once I got over the initial shock, and I took an introspective look into myself, I found that what he said was true. While I had been forgiven, the one thing keeping me held up was me not forgiving myself. I began to give him seemingly valid reasons for why I had not forgiven myself. I justified my thoughts and feelings, but at the end of it all I realized that no excuse or justification was good enough to stop me from forgiving me. So, I thought it over. I felt myself resisting, but then I let it go. Because I had not forgiven myself, I had not been able to walk in confidence in the fact that I am an overcomer. I forgot, for a moment, that I am not to live in condemnation. I had placed myself in my own prison, and forgot what it was like to be free. His statement made me see myself as if I was looking at my reflection in a mirror, and I did not like what I was seeing. All too often, we lock ourselves up. We make mistakes, and then we keep ourselves stuck when we refuse to forgives ourselves. We forget that as humans we are bound to make mistakes. We think, sometimes, that if we punish ourselves enough, people will see that we are truly sorry for what we have done. What we forget, though, is that forgiveness is not about appearances. Forgiveness is about the heart. If you have messed up and truly apologized for what you have done, and you have turned away from the person you were when you messed up, then you are forgiven. If your heart is pure and your intentions good, then forgive yourself. In the end, it does not really matter if anyone else forgives you-although that would be great too. What matters is that you love yourself enough to be able to acknowledge where you have gone wrong, and know that your mistakes do not denote who you are. Your mistakes build character, and add “flavor” to your life. So free yourself. You are more than what you’ve done. You are greater than where you’ve been. Time to step up and be the you that you can be once you have released yourself.