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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Just Keep Running

So, this weekend, I called myself making up for the times when I have been slacking in my personal workout routine. I had been teaching my fitness classes all week, but I had not been weight lifting like I used to, so I agreed to workout with my husband on this past Saturday. Now, why in the world did I agree to that?! My husband’s nickname is “the hulk”. He loves weight lifting and is amazing at it. I enjoy weight lifting, but nowhere near on his level. So, I decided to be crazy enough to join him. It felt great while we were working out. I remembered my love for weight lifting, and it was awesome just being in the gym with him, but I forgot the after effects of a grueling workout. That next day, my body was tight in places I had forgotten existed. I was shuffling along and sore, and I tried my best not to move too much because everything hurt. EVERYTHING! Sunday night, hubby was talking about running the next morning. Before I knew it, I had blurted out that I would join him. Again, what was I thinking?! So, the next morning at 5:30 we headed out for the run. Now, I had just BARELY rolled out of bed because it felt like my entire body had locked up, but I was determined to run. As I stretched, I second-guessed my entire life in that moment, and visions of me falling face first on to the pavement flashed through my head. Yet I pressed on. As we began to run, I slowly shuffled along behind him, just content to at least follow his lead. My legs groaned. My muscles tried to lock up and rebel, but in my mind I was telling myself I could do it. Step-by-step I grunted, groaned, sweat began to pour profusely down my face and back, but I kept going. I realized along the way that my body did not hurt as much anymore, so I picked up the pace. As we ran, things became easier. I still felt a throbbing ache in some areas, but I figured I had gone too far to quit. Before I knew it, we were headed back home. As we came up the final hill towards our house, I felt such a huge sigh of relief. That’s when hubby decided we would run PAST our house to the end of the road, and then turn around and come back. I stared at the back of his head without saying a word, but I kept going. Then, it was over. All of the pain, the heavy breathing, the moments when I thought I would pass out…it was all over. I had made it to my final destination. It may have hurt. Things may not have felt good along the way, but I picked up momentum, and eventually the pain could not stop me from racing towards my goal.

Life is like this. Sometimes things just hurt. Sometimes you cannot believe that you can take one more step and move forward. Maybe the “hill” seems insurmountable. Maybe that thing they did to you made you hard-hearted and unrecognizable. Maybe life has beaten you up so bad that it seems whenever you move, it is with more difficulty, and sometimes it’s just easier to roll over and “sleep” rather than face the world. I get it.. I have moments when I don’t want to put one step in front of the other, when it seems easier to ignore what is going on that facing the problems head on. Sometimes my own doubts and fears get the best of me, but there is more to life than this. Maybe, in those moments, we need to get so focused on the end goal that we press through the pain. Maybe we need to remember to keep running forward because if we just keep running, we can make it where we need to go. Maybe…I just know I learned something about myself that day. In the midst of my hurt and pain, I kept pressing. Yes, that was on a physical level, and I know that emotional pain sometimes goes much deeper, but if we can apply this principle to our physical pain, it only makes sense to make it work for our mental/emotional as well.

So, I challenge you to keep running. Push through. Finish Strong.


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Embrace the Weird

I’m just a bit quirky…ok, maybe a lot quirky, but who’s really measuring? lol. I am the one in the room with a bunch of people who can choose to be extroverted and talkative, but who most likely will find the best corner to sit and watch others. I am that person who really does not care to say much, but finds it weird to be in the  midst of people talking, so I try to interject a little just to say I tried. I am that “weird”. Now when I use weird, it’s not in the negative connotation that many think about. My “weird” means peculiar, different, not like the rest, set apart, intentionally and innately comfortable being one’s self. That’s my weird. For years I tried to be different. I tried to be someone who everyone would embrace. I got hurt time and time again when people didn’t seem interested in me, but only what they could get from me. I shut down, opened, up, got hurt again, and shut down again. Cycle after cycle, my weird got me in trouble. That is until I decided to embrace the weird. Even now, I don’t always fit into the crowd. I often have nothing to say when everyone else has so much to say. Sometimes I just don’t want to talk or be around everyone, but sometimes my responsibilities force me to; however, that does not mean that I have to blend in with those around me. Just as in romantic relationships, there is someone for everyone. So, I choose to embrace those who embrace me…love those who love me…and be kind even to those who don’t understand or accept me. This life is too short to spend it being anyone or anything but who God created each of us to be.

So, if you are struggling with fitting in…struggling because you feel like the odd one out (which you just may be), struggling because “they” seem to like “everyone else” better than you…frustrated because your circle is small and the number of those you can really trust is even smaller…I get it. But this is an opportunity for you to get to know the intricacies of yourself, understanding that not everyone was meant to be “the life of the party”. Some were meant to stand out. As the saying goes, there really is a lid for every pot. Stop letting what people say and think change you into something that makes you dislike yourself. Embrace your weird. Embrace who you are. Enjoy being different. That makes you amazing. Some will like you. Some won’t. Some will love you. Some won’t. Some will understand you. Some won’t. Even so, it’s not your job to make anyone embrace you. Free yourself.


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I Am Enough.

For years I struggled with low self-esteem and with a persistent feeling of people rejecting or not liking me. Now, I know where my feelings of rejection came from–I remember vividly the day I was taken from my mother’s home, then placed in my Aunt’s home, only to end up in foster care. I remember thinking that I must have not been good enough, pretty enough, smart enough…just “anything” enough because no one seemed to want me. Then, I remember going from foster home to foster home, and ending up in a home where I never felt I belonged or was accepted. So, my insecurities years later were no surprise, as frustrating as they were. These insecurities and thoughts led me to not really have friends or close acquaintances throughout the years. I did not trust anyone; Nor did I think that anyone could really care about me. Besides, I did not want to open a door to possibly getting hurt. Even now, I think about the fact that I never had that “best friend” that many people around me have–that one you have known for 20 years and gone through many of life’s changes with–the one who knows ALL of your deepest, darkest secrets, and loves you just the same. Yeah, I missed out on that, and sometimes that hurts, but my childhood was just different from many others.

So rejection, fear, abandonment, low self-esteem, and this feeling of not being good enough constantly bombarded me through the years. At some point, I learned to open up enough to let people in, but even then, a small part of me would be looking for the slightest reason to run away. Then, when I finally had a few people who seemed to like me even a little, I began to cater to them, and I slowly lost me. I thought that if I was exactly what they wanted, if I never caused strife, if I did what they wanted, laughed when they laughed, thought like they thought, if I became their mirror image, then of course they would not walk away from me. Somewhere in those thoughts, I believed that I was not good enough to keep the right people around. So, I became a wallflower, always around, but hardly noticed–afraid to do anything that would make people walk away from me. I became a shadow of my shadow’s shadow, lost somewhere in the dark waters of unrealized potential and untapped dreams. For years, that was me. Then something changed for me. I got tired of being overlooked and of being someone else. The stress of trying to be liked, and people still walking away even for trivial reasons, and the realization of what is inside of me, caused a quantum leap into a new dimension.

I don’t remember the exact moment, but I know that one day I stopped caring about who liked me, who wanted to be around me, who was there one day and gone the next. I remembered that before the lost hopes and dreams, before the truncated childhood, and before the hurt had a chance to burrow into my heart, I used to believe…I believed that I could be whatever I wanted to be. I believed that I was lovable, beautiful, necessary. I believed that I did not have anything to prove to anyone but God. I remember years ago when I believed in me. I wanted that girl back, so I brought her back to stay. The reunion has been bittersweet and lonely, but it has been worth it.

Maybe you are now like I was, lost in the cacophony of noise brought on by trying to be everything else to everyone else, and maybe you are just now realizing that you lost yourself. Maybe you forgot that it is ok for you to speak up and express your opinions without fear of being discarded. Maybe you have gotten so far off track in trying to be “just right” for everyone else, that you don’t even know if you can get back to being who you are supposed to be. Maybe, just maybe, you have forgotten how to breathe and appreciate the amazing entity that is you. Maybe…but I have good news for you. As long as you’re alive, it is not too late. Now is the time to pull out every bit of power left in you–to stand up and no longer have to slink on the sidelines. This is the perfect time to rediscover who you are, and allow yourself to appreciate your quirky inconsistencies and even your insecurities, and even in that understand that it is those things which make you the priceless jewel that you are.

Life has a way of turning things upside down, but it also has a way of turning things right side up again, and sometimes that is up to us to do. Are you tired enough yet of being someone else? Then it is time for you to stand up and declare that, “I Am Enough”.


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Lifestyles of the “Not So Famous”

I have been writing for years….I mean, like years and years…since I was a little girl. I started writing professionally when I was in high school, and the rest, as “they” say, is history. I write because I love to encourage. I write because it gives me an outlet. I write because it makes me feel alive, and I am passionate about reaching the world beginning with the tip of my pen or the tap of the keys. I am undeniably a writer, and most definitely a motivator. Those facts are intrinsic; however, sometimes I get weary. Sometimes it takes everything to muster up a few words of encouragement. At times, I get serious writer’s block, to the point where I don’t write for weeks.  Then, maybe life happens, and I get distracted; Out of all of that though, one thing never changes, and that is that I am a writer.

Recently, I have been getting a lot of random encouragement to keep writing from some really unexpected places. My grandfather, who admittedly does not like to read books, just told me that he is blown away by my writing and my book makes him want to read. My friend sent me a message telling me that my words have power and are necessary…and more from others. Their words have lifted me up, and pushed me to be and do even more. Sometimes, in the midst of feeling like you are being overlooked, what you do may be even more far-reaching than you realize.

So, don’t stop being who you are because you feel unappreciated or not taken seriously. What is in you will not change just because you don’t feel like “being” it. It is still there. It is still waiting on you to walk into your full potential. Maybe you are not “famous”, and you do not have worldwide acclaim, but to who it matters, you are a “star”…and just maybe you are right where you are supposed to be, processing through the lifestyle of the “not so famous” to come to a place of wholeness and potency to where the very essence of your life’s purpose oozes from your pores even without you having to say a word. So, write…dance…speak…create…be…someone is still watching you…


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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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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…