Time

A friend’s son died last night. It was a very sudden death. It could not have been foreseen. It reminds me that life is exactly that fragile. It is incomrehensible.

I do think of death a lot. More in the past couple of years. More than people would like. 

So, I long for it and am afraid of it in cycles, like everything. I am sensitive, but everybody goes through this type of thinking…probably less than me.

So I have had this feeling the past couple of years that I haven’t done anything with my life. I don’t amount to much. I have lived in a pit   I have engaged in self destructive and others destructive behaviors.

I won’t go further. I can do the whole self-deprication thing and you know I’m getting past that since I can’t do anything about it now. Except for living better and making better choices. Loving and not being angry and resentful. I’m growing as far as that goes.

So I feel sad and sorry and depressed that I only have a little bit of time left. Not enough. 

That is a lie though. The truth is that I don’t know how long I have, but best case scenario, I have decades. Enough to wear out some furniture. Enough to need 3 or 4 new rugs. Enough to replace my dinnerware a few times. Many sheets and pillows.

I have time to go up and down the coast…I am not supposed to change time zones with my condition, I can explain that if you want…but I can go down to South America. 

I have time to get educated and start working in a skilled field, the one I left to raise my kids. 

I have enough time to get the kids through college and into adulthood. And then I have enough time to see grandchildren born and growing…maybe more. I can’t imagine how wonderful that will be.

That seems like a lot of time.

I have enough time to grow leaps and bounds into the person God intended me to be.

When I was thinking about it earlier, I thought to myself what if all we were given was 30 years on this planet? If we were born and expected to die at age 30, how joyful would we be to live to be 60, 70, 80? We would rejoice!

Sometimes just a little perspective shifts and a whole world opens up to us.

 

Time

Sabotage and Sabotage

I sabotage myself in 2 ways. In the first way, I read things in to what other people say to me. I assume the worst. Then I get mad because I think that person had an agenda…which they did. 

I see that people who have shared things with me or confronted me about behaviors or things they are concerned about don’t have a chance. If they, like I said, have an agenda, try to share something with me subtly or gently, and I preceive that, I get upset. If they come right out and say what they are concerned about, I get mad and withdraw. Either way, I’m disengaging.

I have a hard time accepting the negative. Either I take it to heart and run it over and over in my mind with self loathing, or I’m indignant that they would tell me things I don’t agree with and would disengage.

Either way, I end up alone on my couch.

People get upset and I haven’t known why, or I dont’ want to admit why to myself. Not doing anything is just as bad as doing things that are wrong. 

It is about responsibility. If I withdraw into myself, it’s a huge disservice to my kids, and they suffer for it and people rightly take issue with it. I can’t freeze, I’m not invisible, and I have an obligation to put on my big girl pants and be responsible.

I have challenges other people don’t have and I know it’s hard to understand. If I love my kids, I will work 10 times harder just to be the mother they need. 50% of my inaction was inaction due to learned helplessness. 50% was my environment. That’s what I think. Being in a new, warm, nurturing, cooperative environment has given me legs to start to fight for myself. In the past it was overwhelming.

Hope is a powerful emotion. 

Sabotage and Sabotage

Then and Now

Before I had children I was anxious about becoming a mother. I was ambivalent. After 4 or 5 years of marriage, I became interested. I started to research being a parent, raising a child. (Isn’t that just typical me?) I became convinced that having children would enrich my life. I believed I could be a good mother. I went into it wanting it.

Being a mom was difficult for me. I had a mood disorder that blossomed with the birth of each child. Hormones and the demands of work and home wreaked havoc on me. I had mood swings, I became less able to function, my productivity decreased.

It was hard. I had to work so much harder than I did before my mood disorder became so acute. As time went on, there was a lot of tension in our home. Before the end of my marriage I was just about unable to get out of bed, I was having a lot of physical symptoms of stress, and the whole family was awry.

I think when you say something when you are young, you grow and change, all of that is predictable. It’s just part of the process.

I have a mood disorder and I’m an addict. These things affected my ability to parent my children and I am deeply grieved over that in addition to wracking guilt. I have wallowed in it for over a year and I’m starting to feel stronger and more stable.

Through prayer and time, I believe I can re-parent my children. They have had it tough for a while, and I’m the scapegoat which is ok, I do hold a lot of responsibility for the turmoil in all of our lives. At the same time, I’m strong enough now to do better and to view these years with a better perspective. If they have problems, they are going to be better able where to go.

I have a resonsibility to get help, be honest and be available to my children. That’s the process I am going through. Yet I believe all parents go through this to some extent or another.

My God is a god of second chances and for that I am truly grateful.

Then and Now

Shifting Gears

I’ve had reason to reflect this week on something that I’m not sure I have gotten over. A pattern in my life that started in my childhood but has played out quite a few times in adulthood. I think part of what has happened is self-sabotage, and another part is the ‘I knew you didn’t love me.’ 

I don’t want to get in to the nitty gritty of what happened, but here is how it played out. I made a friend, after a while the friend shunned me and I was never sure why. ‘Shun’ is the right word here.

I had occasion to talk to my former husband about my family’s reaction to him. He sincerely seems puzzled. He has brought it up from time to time. Now I just figure if you have to ask the question, you won’t understand the answer.

What has happened, however, is that I have put a lot of that ‘people against me’ list into a box entitled ‘there is no reason.’

Most people aren’t mean to each other with no reason. There are reasons. I’m not saying I can know the reasons or that I will respond rationally.

A sponsor of mine would always say to try to be open to the fact that you might be wrong. She didn’t say blame yourself for every possible thing. She didn’t say to blame anybody else. 

What people choose to share or not share with me is their business. Nobody has to be my friend. Friends usually try to talk to you when they know something is wrong. My job is to be pliable. To not be defensive. If I’m not defensive,that doesn’t mean that I’m totally open and vulnerable. It means I’m listening.

I haven’t trusted anybody for a very long time. I think I know where to find people I can trust implicitly, and I’m starting there. Then, I’ll look at moving further along.

Shifting Gears

A Light Yoke

I was away on vacation last week and gave myself a rest. I got some good ideas though, some ideas I have percolating. The one I want to share today is different than usual, I think. Maybe not.

I was thinking about how people operate and talk about their personal orientation in life. I’ll give two examples that are personal, but I think will illustrate what I’m thinking more easily.

The first person is Jim Bakker. Many people know him from when he was on tv, a preacher with PTL ministries. He misappropriated funds and went to jail. He lost his ministry, his wife, everything. He wrote a book after he got out that said ‘I was Wrong.’ 

The book seemed authentic to me. He faced it head on. I don’t know what he is doing now…he has a tv show, but he sells that book on his web site. What he spoke of before his arrest was in my opinion very pointedly about God blessing Christians financially. Now he has a story. It is an opportunity to talk about what he did, what happened and what he is like now. It’s a testimony.

Number 2: Jimmy Swaggard. I didn’t follow this closely to be sure. The thing of it was that he violated his wedding covenant multiple times while preaching against the very behavior. So he struggled. It is human to struggle. The thing of it is that he showed his hand by what he spent his time preaching on. That was his environment. He told on himself.

The funny thing is that there is no mention on his web site or anywhere I could find where he had dealt with any of it. His web site talks about his ministry and his family, but nothing of a very personal struggle. What he did in his life is the same as millions of people. I understand being ashamed and not talking about it. I am that way too, but what an amazing opportunity it could have been.

 

 

To me, it would be awesome if people could face these things head on, but there is fear wrapped around it. The fear of loss of status or money? 

The thing is that people know. They know when I’m sober and when I’m not. They know when I’m spending money frivolously or when I’m eating too much sugar, and really bottom line is that I garner more respect if I am honest about my struggles. I’m finding that just opening up makes me wonder what the fear is about?

I have spent a lot of time studying the bible, reading and praying the past 2 years. I have wondered why it was I wasn’t moving forward in my life. I have struggled with grace and obedience. I tried to emphasize grace in my life because I sure wasn’t doing the works or showing fruit.

I was lying to myself. 

Finally, finally I am starting to realize that the reason it’s so hard to do good works and show fruit is because it isn’t me who will do those things. I was reading Hannah Whitall Smith‘s book ‘A Christian’s Secret to a Happy Life.’ It is a very simple, old book. In the past 20 years I’ve probably read it 5 times. It’s one of those good ones to revisit from time to time.

Over the past 20 years I have had many, many opportunities to tell my story. I have wanted a ministry, but not the one I was given. I want something else. Something more glamorous. Something that people would admire. The suicidal ideology, depression, anger, fear….it all doesn’t make me look very good. It is clear now that truly you can’t keep what you won’t give away. 

I’ll be honest, I cringe at the things I have admitted here. I want to take them down. I don’t, because I think they needed to be written. Some people share only in a general way. Right now, I have to be specific. It’s not like nobody knows.

So, what I read yesterday was very simple. In our relationship to God, out part is to trust and his part is to work. I was thinking about it this morning and I realized that I have struggled and struggled with even wanting to change, but if I do just trust, the work will happen. I will be a more Christlike person because I will see it, I will enjoy it and I won’t even notice whether it’s easy or not.

When Jesus said “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

I think he meant it. I haven’t really believed that in the past, but today I see that it’s 100% true. There is nothing to be afraid of. 

A Light Yoke

Knowing

I always wanted to know. Whatever it might be, I wanted to know it.

I wanted to know about sex. I wanted to know what was shown in a rated -R movie. I wanted to know what it was like to smoke. I wanted to know what it was like to drink. I want to know what people think of me.

I couldn’t take anybody’s word for it. That has caused me a lot of pain. 

I was in therapy a while back with a therapist who was tough on me, and I didn’t respond well to it, but she said the truth a lot and I remember it.

She told me the story of her adopted son. He was from Russia, he was a little older when they adopted him, and he had attachment disorder.

One night he slipped out of the house and went to a friend’s house to watch tv. On foot…not far. I don’t know that I condone this, but they called the police. They wanted to impress upon him how serious it was to leave the house at night without them knowing where he was. The police officer spoke to him and at the end of it said that since the adoption wasn’t final, they could deport him. 

 

He cried out, ‘I knew it! I knew you would send me back!’

Like I said, I don’t condone it….but I have thought of it a lot and I think I have done that in relationships. I felt insecure and I acted out of that insecurity and created a climate of repelling people. I sought answers and when I found them…

In the end, I thought ‘see, I knew it all along.’ She wasn’t acting in my best interests. He didn’t love me. They don’t love me. I knew it, I knew it. 

I think I might be wrong. 

Knowing

Telling Myself the Truth

I suppose this goes along the lines of ‘Denial,’ but I’m setting forth a different way to look at it.

Throughout my day I have a lot of emotions. Everybody does, I suppose. I think; however, my thoughts tend toward the negative more than they should. I’m not unique in that, but not everybody is that way either.

What I’m trying to do is replace negative thoughts with positive ones. For example, my son goes to another person for help that I wish he would come to me for. I immediately feel a sense of unworthiness and pain. There are two things that are true here. First, I’m worthy according to God. Second, he is going to someone and getting help, and that’s a positive thing.

I have fences to mend, and I’m doing that, but it gets discouraging and that’s understandable. So I try to stop, tell myself the truth and pray to God that my heart would be soft enough to believe it.

Scripture says that the woman who fears the Lord is ‘clothed with strength and dignity.’ (Psalm 31:25)

I’m trying to believe this and tell myself the truth. It’s a process.

Telling Myself the Truth