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Our Worst Enemy.

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Fat.  Ugly.  Worthless.  Stupid.  Short.  Useless.  Unable.  Lazy.  Invisible.  Weird.  Quirky.  Broken.  Alone.  Indecisive.  Anxious.  Gullible.  Weak.  Insecure.  Detached. 

When you have an overachiever at the office, you may feel a bit frustrated.  Maybe you will call them names to your peers, accuse them of sucking up to the boss.   You mutter on the phone to others finding anything negative to say about them that you can.  It’s ok to vent.  We are human.  But, what you don’t know is this.  They work hard to hide pain.  They work hard to block it out.  They don’t have what you may have at home, like family.  Work fills the void.  For 8 hours, they are somebody.  Somebody they don’t hate.  Somebody they wish they could be all the time.  Somebody who matters.  She goes to sleep at night, excited to go back to feeling this way in the morning again.  Weekends are long and vacations aren’t necessary.  She doesn’t help everyone for attention, she helps because to her, this is her family.  Work is her life.

Your cousin didn’t show up to your grandfather’s funeral.  Terrible, right?  You instantly talk about how it’s not right and how selfish they are.  They must be living it up or found something better to do.  Everybody goes to pay their final respects.  Anyone who doesn’t is inconsiderate and you will not associate yourself with them again!  What you don’t know is this.  Your cousin sat in the car, shaking and crying for an hour.  Hyperventilating because of anxiety.  Uncontrollable anxiety which can hit at any given moment.  She wants to be there, she’s trying to be.  Her brain just won’t let her.  She prays to God to get her through, just for today.  It’s too much.  She doesn’t want this to happen at the funeral.  The attention shouldn’t be on her, the focus should be on the beautiful memory of her grandfather.  She decides to stay home to make sure she doesn’t ruin anything once again.

You notice somebody wearing an outfit a little snug.  Instinctively, you make a comment to a friend about how she should not be wearing that.  “I’d kill myself if I looked like that.”  The girl overheard you, closed her eyes and could feel the sting of the tears prickling.  You don’t know that she heard you.  You also don’t know that it took her years to get to this point.  To get to the point of working hard to lose weight.  To feel a little bit more comfortable in her skin, she took the plunge and wore something a bit out of her comfort zone.  She convinced herself 7 times this morning, changing in and out of other outfits, to finally leave the house in this.  She felt good, yet could still hear his voice in the back of her mind.  You see for years she heard from someone she thought loved her about how disgusting she was.  How she should never wear anything aside from oversized clothing.  How she must wish she looked like other women, so she could actually put on a bathing suit.  Today took a lot for her.  But, listening to somebody confirm what he always said made her realize that maybe he was right after all.  She didn’t report to work that night.  She couldn’t handle feeling worthless anymore.  Today, you helped her reach her final breaking point and you probably didn’t think about her feelings for a minute.  She didn’t even look bad at all, you just knew you probably couldn’t pull it off yourself. All because in your own mind, you aren’t physically where you wish you were. Ten seconds of your own insecurity is all it took to break someone down.  Someone who finally gave up.

If we all took a moment to understand each other’s stories, we would know that there’s so much more under the surface.  We see people passing by and we think we know everything about them.  The truth is you probably don’t know even a 1/4 about why they are the way that they are.  Maybe instead of spewing hatred, maybe we can try to spread more love.  God only knows how much we all need it.  It’s a cruel world, but for a lot of us, the darkest words come from inside our own heads.  Our own worst enemy tends to be ourselves.  If we are critiquing ourselves throughout the days, do we really need strangers or friends pointing out our insecurities verbally?  We need more love.  If you took a split second to stop and think before making the rude remark, maybe even changing it to a positive comment, maybe you would be saving a life.

We all have stories.  We all have felt broken.  The last thing we need is for the pieces to continue to fall.  I challenge you to be the glue.  Mend people back together.  Understand who they are without doubting them.  Rather than turning to vocalizing the faults of others in an attempt to you feel stronger, try using your own broken heart to put people back together.  We are all capable of doing this.  Imagine being the person whose compliment saved another human!    You may not even realize it happened, but I guarantee the person you saved will always remember your words.  Make them good!

Our mind is our own worst enemy, don’t contribute to the chaos.  Help the words in the minds of others become positive.  You have the power to be the good.  You have the power to be a light for others.  Don’t leave them in the dark.  Shine all your light on them and I guarantee He will do the same for you!

Blog · forgive · God · Life · live · love · new · opinion · write

Who’s Got Your Back?

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24 hours are in a day.  8 of those hours we use for sleep (unless you are a parent in which case you are lucky to reach 4-6 solid hours.  It does get better as they grow up, I promise).  After factoring in our 8 hours of sleep, we have 16 hours left in our day.  In all honesty, how much time do you waste thinking about people who  have had a negative impact on your life?

Speaking on behalf of myself, I spend hours thinking about these people.  I focus on things that have been said about my character by people who do not know me.  People who claim to have been friends or family who now are complete strangers saying hateful, negative, untruthful things about me, I think about them.  People who have hurt me, people I have cried over, people who have convinced other people who I love to believe lies without speaking with me first, I think about them.

I spend my precious time thinking about the minds of the ignorant, of those who are not saved, of those who cannot forgive.  I spend my time thinking about those with malicious intent, who do not want to hear any story aside from their own.  I am thinking about them.

16 precious hours that I am awake during the day, I am spending my energy on people who do not want the best for me.  People who would love to see me fall.  People who spread lies about me.  People who have no faith in me.

Why do I do this?  Why do we do this?  Something within me needs to shift.  And with God, we can make that happen.

Who are the ones near you when you hurt?  Who lingers a few minutes after church just for a chance to say, “hi, how’s life for you lately?”  Who sends you a text now and then just to check in to make sure you are ok?  Why are we ignoring these people just to focus on those who will never love us.  Why not shift that energy and focus to the ones always there?  The ones we may take for granted because we are trying to figure out where those other relationships went wrong or trying to figure out why they are saying such negative things without even properly knowing you?  The real you?  The real you that these other people know and love and want to be around?

We can shift this energy into positive.  We have control over our own minds.  Not those who are against us, not the enemy, not our own self-doubt.  We have full control over our minds and we can choose to focus on the positive.  It’s not going to be easy!  Is anything like this ever easy?  No!  But, through Him we can focus on who He has placed within our reach!  It’s just a matter of focus, perseverance and faith!

Let go of those who have ill intentions towards you.  It’s not our job to change their minds!  Pray.  Pray for yourself, pray for them.  But, we need to let the negative go.  Let it be and control our own paths.  I don’t want to continue focusing my precious 16 hours a day on who loathes me or who thinks they know my story.  I know my story.  God knows my story.  Those who love and want the best for me are who I intend to spend my time on.  I’m focusing on those who fill the bucket with love, not the ones who drill the holes in it.

Forgive those who have hurt you, but focus and love those who are always there.  16 hours sounds like a long time, but it flashes by so quickly.  Don’t waste it worrying about the negative.  Use it thinking about who will be by your side when you conquer the world.  They’ve got you, He’s got you.  Look for them, you may be surprised by who has always been there that you have never noticed before.

“In the end, you’ll know which people really love you.  They’re the ones who see you for who you are and no matter what, always find a way to be at your side.”

 

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All the feels.

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I’m sensitive. I have been my entire life.  I tried for years to deny it and always considered it an insult if someone called me such thing.  I was taught that being sensitive is a bad thing.  Realistically, the world at times makes being sensitive into a negative character trait. Look at the nicknames we’ve heard on the news over the last few years.  If you feel strongly about something and voice your concern in politics, you’re suddenly dubbed a, “snowflake.”  It’s as though people think all humans should consist of ice kings or queens with no emotions at all, or at least with no opinions other than their own.  If they do have all the feels, they are too sensitive, wrong, and their voice just doesn’t matter.

I’ve been told to, toughen up, let it go, suck it up, you need thicker skin, or my personal favorite, don’t let things bother you so much.  Right.

One of my kiddos is incredibly sensitive. Things just get to him, big and small.  I found myself saying to him, “Dude, you need to toughen up.”  Then one day, my own words just slapped me right back in the face.  I was repeating those same phrases to him!  He can’t help being sensitive, it’s who he is!  It’s who we both are. I can’t believe I let something that had bothered me my entire life begin to impact him the same way.

I realized at that moment that it’s ok to be sensitive.  As a matter of fact, it’s not such a bad thing at all. I’m not weak by any means, neither is my sensitive child.  We just seem to feel everything around us more than others.  And that’s ok.

Some days I may wish to be an ice queen. It may seem so much easier to not be able to feel anything and to just not care.  But, that’s just not who I am.  Maybe things do bother me faster than they do others, but at the same time I feel the good things all the more.  I’m empathetic and perceptive.  I’m aware of those around me, whether they are having an off day or not.  I can feel their pain and by having this trait, I’m able to show them that I care.

I don’t want to change anymore and I’ll never tell my kids to toughen up again. I don’t take being sensitive as an insult.  Quoting an old Jewel song, “I’m sensitive, and I’d like to stay this way.”  I think it’s one of my best characteristics, my kiddo’s too.  We all have our place in the world, the tough, the laid back, the outspoken, even the most sensitive.  We’re all in this together.

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70 x 7 – Forgive them.

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It’s inevitable in life that we are going to be hurt at some point. Whether intentionally or not, it happens.  It starts out at a young age, maybe someone on the Kindergarten playground wouldn’t share.  After some tears and a talk with your teacher, sorries were exchanged and you probably continued playing without a grudge.  If only that were the case as a grown up!

Kids are much more resilient and forgiving than we are as adults. In some cases, you may get hurt over and over and over again by the same person.  How do we presently handle these situations?  How should we handle them?  Do we fight back knowing that they won’t listen to our words anyway?  Do we plea with them to hear our side of the story?  Do we update our Facebook status vocalizing our side for the world to see, just to have some validation from somebody?

I’m starting to learn how to handle these things with God’s grace.  It is hard.  It is so incredibly hard.  And sometimes I fail at it.  When people attack you or your loved ones, who wouldn’t want to fight back!  Sometimes  I hit reply faster than my hands can type.   Why should I allow lies to be spread?  I should say something!  I should fight back!  They don’t even know us!  Let’s end the rumors, tell our side!

I should…. lower myself to their level?

For who? To continue fighting back and forth with somebody that doesn’t understand is almost as bad as them spreading lies to begin with.  It’s fueling the fire.  The fire that you need to put out.  If you don’t, you’ll never feel at peace.

The thing is, people are always going to be there to remind you of mistakes that you made in your past. True or false, some people love to bring these things all back up to the surface.  It’s hard sometimes to be reminded of the hurt and pain.  Regardless, you still need to forgive them.   If not for them, for God and for yourself.

As hard as it may be, you hold your head up high, bite your tongue, and let them believe what they wish. It was never between you and them anyway. It’s always been and always will be between you and the Lord.  Put up your shield and repel their hateful words and thoughts.

Matthew 18:21-22 says, “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”  Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy times seven!”

That’s a lot of forgiveness. That’s a lot of pride and ego set aside.  That’s a lot of letting go of hurt without validation.  But, it’s possible.  If Jesus can forgive all of those who have sinned against Him, we can forgive those who sin against us.  It’s hard.  So very difficult to do.  But, the good news is we are not alone.  God is with us every step of the way and He knows the truth.  When you hit your knees and you cannot take any more of their painful words, look up.  He’ll hold you and help you back up to your feet.

Get back up, dust yourself off.  Look up, forgive them, forgive yourself, let it go and keep moving forward!

“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.”

– Lewis B Smedes

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Take down your walls!

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I can’t remember what show it was, but years ago I remember hearing someone refer to their best friend as, “their person.”  Their person is the one who they tell all secrets to, go to for all advice.  They can call them any time of any day to head to the mall or just walk into the front door without knocking.  This person knows all of your secrets, fears, hopes, dreams, kid’s birthdays, and then some.  More and more of people I know have somebody like this in their life.  Seeing this has made me wonder, geez, why don’t I have a person!?

I’ve always had a lot of friends (acquaintances may be a better word), but never really anybody quite this close (aside from my fantastic husband).  I always have wanted this type of friendship, who wouldn’t, but could never figure out what I was doing wrong? Why didn’t people like me enough to call like they do others?  Then it hit me, it’s completely my fault.  I’m doing it all wrong!  My problem is my wall.

I have a ginormous wall up.  It’s there, it has barbwire, an electric fence, guards with tasers, attack dogs, anything you can think of to keep people out, this wall has it!  Everyone’s a little different, but in my case the reason is all trust.  You can only be hurt so many times until eventually this wall just shows up.  You may not even realize it’s happening, but it does.  There are two things that go hand and hand when this occurs, 1) People may want to be your friend, but they may not understand why you keep pushing them away.  This will probably make them stop trying eventually and 2) when you trust God and learn how to forgive others, you will find it easier to let people in!

There it is, that’s what I had to do! Trust God and forgive!  Oh, but forgiveness is so hard, isn’t it?  There have been a lot of people in my life who hurt me.  A lot.  Some I don’t speak to and probably will never speak to again.  However, I made the decision to forgive.  I promise you, when I finally did this, there was a weight that was lifted from my shoulders!  All of these years of holding a grudge and being unforgiving probably had no impact at all on these people. You know who it hurt the most?  Me.

I was sabotaging my own happiness!

Did the person (which could be “your person”) reaching out to you hurt you?  Nope, probably not.  Are you being unfair in keeping them away and not being the same friend to them as they want to be to you?  YES, yes you are!  And, you probably don’t even realize it because you cannot see over that wall!

Forgive and knock those walls down!  If you’re having a hard time with this, ask God to give you the strength to forgive.  It’s not easy, at all.  But, it’ll get you a step closer to finding your person, that is if you want one.  Maybe you’re a one-man wolf-pack, if so, forgiveness will free you from the burden of hate!  Who wouldn’t want that?

This doesn’t mean you need to keep allowing the same people to hurt you over and over continuously. This just means you are no longer hurting yourself.

Forgiveness really is a beautiful thing.

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

– Ephesians 4:31-32

 

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Stop the Scrolling. Look Up!

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Do you ever get caught up scrolling through Facebook, checking out everyone’s posts, seeing how much better their day is compared to yours?  Ever wonder why you didn’t choose a life where you didn’t have to work and could stay home with the kids all day? Or, ever wish you stuck by your original career goals and followed the path of becoming a doctor, lawyer, or whatever it was that made you ready to conquer the world?  Maybe you think to yourself, “my Lord, that person is so happy every day, all the time!  They have such a perfect life.  Why can’t I be like that?”

I know I have caught myself doing this on occasion.  I have worked full-time, 40+ hours a week since I was 19.  While I know for a fact that I did not take an easy path in life,  I’ve still always felt a sense of pride in my accomplishments.  I love my children and my family, but staying home all day just was not something I wanted to do.  I wanted to keep growing in my career, all while being a hands on mama.  This balance fed my soul.   Life was good!

But, all of a sudden I was hit in the face with social media and a big ol’ can of envy.

I’ve never been jealous or envious, so what’s the deal?  Why was I longing to be somebody else?  Why was I regretting my choices and second guessing the way I raise my kids?  They are well-balanced, smart, and loved.  Why am obsessing over the posts of people who are so happy every single day?  Why am I wishing to have a bigger, fancier house?  Just a few years ago, this little house was my dream because it got us out of a tinier apartment!  Why am I wishing for her ability to be thin, or his new job, or their annual vacations?  Why does the sight of this person make me feel angry now?  Why am I hiding them on Facebook so I don’t have to see their perfect life?  Why am I so miserable?  Why, why, why!

I realized that I was scrolling and scrolling, admiring all these other people’s highlight reels.  That’s all they are, they are highlight reels.  All of us go through life.  We all go through stuff.  Messy stuff at that!  However, the first thing we are going to post about are the good things!  Obviously!  Although we all may rant once and again, for the most part we are using Facebook to brag about the best parts of our days.  Why would we share a photos of the kids messing up the house for the 3rd time today?  Or the pile of paperwork sitting on your desk, waiting to be attended to?  We are only sharing the positive.

So, what’s the balance?  Where’s real life?  How on earth do we move on from feeling an inch tall?!   Should we create a special Facebook reality page with cameras to prove nobody’s life is perfection?  No, we shouldn’t because the camera thing is pretty creepy.  But, finding reality in a place where there’s virtually no negativity is tricky!  I can’t tell you how many times I have wanted to quit Facebook.  But, all of this envy and jealousy are things we can control.  Quitting Facebook is not going to magically erase that hint of longing we feel for a friend’s fancier home.  Quitting Facebook isn’t the end all to envy.  The answer is within yourself and your ability to look up!

Sometimes we just have to remember that God is going to lead us right where we need to be.  This is tough!  So, so tough, but it’s true.  We are all where we are supposed to be.  Instead of asking God, why he seems to be rewarding somebody else instead of you, why not thank Him for giving you everything you have.  Why not trust in His ability to know what’s best for you at this time?   Maybe there’s a reason you are working all day?  Maybe there’s a reason you’re not?  It’s all in His plan and once you let go and give all of these destructive feelings of envy to God, you’ll find your contented heart.

Sometimes I do find myself falling into human nature and asking God, why?  Why does someone else get something I have longed for or had taken away?  But, He always finds a way to remind me there’s a reason.  There’s always a reason and with enough prayer and trust, He will come through.  He always, always will come through.

So, maybe it is a good idea to step away from scrolling a little bit.  However, it could also be a good time to think positive thoughts for the person posting their blessings.  Why not say a prayer or two and wish them well, rather than feeling hatred or jealousy?  Maybe show some love, rather than hate?  At the same time, give a little shout out to God and thank Him for knowing what’s best for your heart.

Don’t trust what you see all day on Facebook.  Put your trust in Him and He will show you the way.  There’s no status in the world that can compete with that!

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Against such things there is no law.  Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.  Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” – Galatians 5:22-26

 Follow me on Facebook when you do scroll, facebook.com/slowpaceandgrace 🙂 

 

 

 

 

Blog · God · Life · live · love · new · opinion · religion · Uncategorized · write

Religious, Churchy, Jesus Freak.

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Religious, Churchy, Jesus Freak.  Just a few of the names I have heard describe me since becoming a new Christian over one year ago.  I am amazed how my faith could push some people away.  I’m not scary, although I try to be when it comes to reprimanding my children (doesn’t work well).  I’m a pretty nice person, although I have a terrible tendency to laugh when people fall.  It’s a terrible habit, most likely some type of coping mechanism that I haven’t been able to shake for at least 25 of my 30-something years (this did not work out well in my summer camp counselor days).  But, still I wonder why my new-found faith pushes people away?

One thing that comes to mind is what many Christians are portrayed as in the media. Most of the time we hear the bad things that happen, over the good.  I have heard people describe Christians as having holier than thou, judgmental personalities.  Same with other religions.  As unfair as it is, there are still folks in the world who associate Muslims with terrorism.  That’s not an accurate comparison.  You do not damn an entire religion due to a few very evil seeds.  Same for Democrats, Republicans, different races, males, females, etc!  It is not truth, nor fact.  Yet it still happens.

It’s not my job to fight to make people believe in the same faith as I do.  It’s not my job to judge or look down on someone who does not believe in God (I married a man who did not believe).  It’s also not my job to preach my beliefs for the sole purpose of proving your belief wrong.   That’s not who I am and in my heart I do not believe that is who Jesus would have wanted me to be.

It is my job to be a light to the world, to accept everyone as they are.  I tend to observe and internalize my opinions, rather than putting it out on social media for the world to see.  You’ll find numerous amounts of family photos and silly kiddo quotes on my page, but you are not going to see me attacking other religions, political parties, or anyone. That is not Christianity to me.

I support gay rights.  I have several friends who are in the LGBT community and I love them all.  The thought of judging them all because I love Jesus and read the Bible does not even cross my mind.  While I know people who are incredibly vocal about their hatred for those that are gay, that is not me.  That is not the Christianity I practice.  Again, that is not what loving Jesus and believing in God means to me.

To me, loving Jesus means come as you are.  We all sin.  Every single one of us.  Myself, my husband, my kids, every single one of you, even those who hate.  Just because you hate strongly does not make you free of sin.  I feel that you can be gay and love Jesus.  I also think you can be gay and not believe in Jesus, but guess what?  I’ll still love you just the same.  This is the Christian that I am.  The funny thing is that while I like to call myself an Independent when it comes to politics, I always tend to lean more to the right. Again, not all Republicans (or Democrats) are the same.

I will testify all day long about the impact that loving God has had on my life in the last year and half.  I will tell you stories of God providing for us in a time where I didn’t think it was possible.   I’ll talk to you about what it means to tithe in our church and what that has done for our family.  But, I will not talk to you about why you should believe in all the same things that I do.   I also don’t want you to talk to me about why my beliefs are ridiculous.  It’s called being respectful, a characteristic  that I truly wish more would practice.  Differing opinions should not give you or I the right to be disrespectful to another human beings.  It’s not ok, even if you justify it with your own hatred.

I’ll continue shining my light into the world.  I’ll also promise to be a safe place and a voice for anyone feeling like they are shamed, scared, alone, or persecuted, Christian or non-Christian!  I am here for you and you are loved by me as a brother or sister.   Please do not let the darkness that some pour into the world impact your own light and spirit.  Keep pushing and keep fighting and know that I have your back!

It’s ok if you contact me regarding my opinions.  I’d love to have a conversation, as long as there’s a mutual respect involved.  It’s ok for you to disagree with me!  It’s also ok if you continue calling me a Religious, Churchy, Jesus Freak.  I’ll take it, I will own it and I will continue practicing being the loving, accepting, caring, non-judgmental, Jesus-loving Christian that I am.  Because that is what being a Christian means to me.

“Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” – Matthew 5:16