Monthly Archives: September 2012

Casting Stones

While walking on a cobblestone beach with my husband we came across a lone golden colored pebble in the shape of a heart. Immediately it caught our attention. As far as our eyes could see the shore was lined with dark rocks. The crashing of the waves made a thunderous sound as the water tumbled the rocks beneath the gigantic swell. We stood there humbled by the glory we were experiencing. It was all so surreal.

This gorgeous, tumultuous landscape reminded me of a sea of people. All of whom used their boisterous voices like the thrashing of the waters on a cold, hard, black surface. We are likened to these stones; exotic in nature, beautifully polished, and congregated together. We can so eloquently point out the darkness in others while we struggle to recognize the juxtaposition that we are residing on the same beach.

We resist disciplining our own thoughts, actions, and lifestyles. We are affected by the tides and get caught up in the breaking waves. It may have a different shape and different size, but a rock is still a rock. We judge the person next to us as if we are somehow better than they are, not realizing we are human too. We condemn those we disagree with as we protect our pet beliefs, especially when it goes against our moral paradigms.

We set standards based on our opinions of right and wrong. These beliefs on how things should or shouldn’t be done muddy the waters. Fickle, we try to please others and become miserable and miserably confused. We are trapped by the hillside defining our borders. Layer upon layer, our morals are subject to humanity’s standards, and therefore judged by its laws.

As the cloud of pride hangs over head, we take the liberty to damn others while living arrogantly self-righteous, often guilty of the very thing we are condemning in others. But, we justify our actions. We have well reasoned excuses for our behavior. We do not hold ourselves to the same rule of law that we expect others to honor. We choose to whom we grant empathy, grace, and mercy. In our fear, we place ourselves behind the bench with gavel in hand. In haste we wield it’s power. Often while the jury is still out, we choose to proclaim guilt and shame in our attempt to manipulate that which we cannot control.

It has never been our job to convict the heart of another. Humility, empathy and true understanding comes from a place of rest. Rest comes from a peace that passes understanding. It resides in confidence of personal identity and purpose. It speaks the truth that sets us free. It remains in a state of continual love, and it stands out among the rest. While there are many who champion this cause we all seem to fall short in our own imperphections. There has only been one who has loved with a heart of gold and stayed pure. There is only one who has the right to cast a stone and even He chose mercy over judgement.


Lover

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Fear welled up inside of me as I heard him say, “open your eyes.” It was the same kind I get due to my fear of heights. My stomach started to churn, my imagination ran wild, my body began to tingle, and my world began to spin. It was the largest, most frightening roller-coaster I had ever went on. All I wanted to do was keep my eyes shut. I figured as long as I could not see the distance between me and the ground the safer I would feel, or, should I say, the less scared I would be.

But, this was not a ride, and death was not my concern. It was far worse than that. What if I opened my eyes and I did not like what I saw?! More so, what if what I saw was a disappointed look staring back at me? What wouldn’t kill me would destroy me.

I had a choice to make. I could keep my eyes closed, protect my fear, and live in denial; or, I could open my eyes, face reality, and let come what may. Things I knew for sure and for certain: he had NO false expectations of who I am, I was not under duress to perform any certain way, and he had continually been a refuge and a safe place.

What I had to find was my heart. I had become so numb, so robotic, so inoculated. I wasn’t sure what true love looked like… even when it was looking back at me. I had so carefully tucked my heart under the clutter of duty. I hid it so perfectly beneath mounds of hurt. I covered it beautifully behind a mask of independence.

Yet through patience, diligence, and determination, he sought it out. He nurtured it to health. He removed it’s rough calluses. Over time he tore down the fortified walls I built due to the assaults my heart had previously endured.

Why then such intense irrational fear???

He was the man I wanted all of my life. He was the one I dreamed of, but did not truly believe existed. He was the man I was told was worth waiting for, and he was right in front of me. Yet, I was the one who doubted my emotional security.

Such cruelty haunted me. As long as I did not have to face the danger I was in, I was fine with my situation. However, the danger I was facing was the prospect of loving like I had never been hurt. I was getting ready to take the biggest risk of my life. I had to face a fear greater than my fear of heights. I was getting ready to jump from a perfectly good plane and had to trust him to be a well-crafted parachute.

In my head, I heard myself say, “love is a safe place to land, first I must fall.” It was from a poem I had wrote years ago, just after we first met. I had to admit, I did so enjoy the way I felt in his arms. His voice was gentle and pleasing to my soul. His smile made me radiate with happiness. He had drawn me in, and with every part of my being I wanted to answer his call.

I pondered a little longer. I had never before seen lust linger behind his pupils. There was no darkness when I had previously peered through the windows into the depth of his person. It was not him that I feared. Instantaneously, I was swept up into self-consciousness. I was overwhelmed by my inadequacies. All I could do was view my exaggerated flaws as in a fun house mirror. My short comings were suddenly thrust into the forefront of my mind.

What could he see in me that he would find desirable? What would he find in me if I opened my eyes? I was covered in shame. What could I offer him beyond my pain?

Still I found myself trapped in this moment… caught by these words, “Open your eyes.”

I knew what they meant. I knew what they would cost. This was not so much about me opening my eyes as it was about me opening my heart.

Suggested reading:
Captivating by John & Stasi Eldredge
Moral Revolution by Kris and Jason Vallotton


Inside

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“Inside”

She may dance and sing and twirl inside.
She may laugh and giggle and not be shy inside.
She is silly, frilly, and smiley inside.
She is wild and free and delighted inside.
She is comfort, warm, and mild inside.
She is love, innocence, and pretty inside.
She is adventurous, ambitious, and a fighter inside.
She is protective, fearless, and exciting inside.
She is hope,
she is joy,
she is life inside.
Her hair is down, her arms arms are open, her eyes are bright inside.
She is glory and humor, she is splendor and cheer, she is elegant and clear,
Inside.
She is beauty, she is desire, she is mystery inside.
Soft as satin, and smooth like silk,
Her face is glowing, and her skin like milk…inside.

She is passion, she is sweet, she is stubborn, she is meek.
She can roar like thunder and pour like rain.
She can light up a room and dye like stain.
She is tender, she is wise, she’s a fun-filled surprise.
She is radiant, courageous, and fire…inside.

She has wings to fly…inside.

She is time in a bottle and make moments last forever inside.
She is fanciful, dainty, and quiet inside.
She is a walking contradiction and simple as a clear blue sky;
She is spontaneous, outrageous, and committed inside.
She is thoughtful, thought provoking, and thought of inside.
She is daring, risk-taking, and calculative inside.
She embodies grace, displays poise, and excels at posture,
Inside.
She is strong, she is rested, she is exuberant inside.
She is observant, careful, and trusting inside.
She’s a dreamer, a seeker, and a climber inside.
She is smart, intelligent, educated inside.
She’s a rainbow, a cloud, a pot of gold inside.
She is faithful, stable, and devoted inside.
She is the world’s best story ever told inside.

She is me and I am her, but to truly live
I must let her out and no longer hide her…
Inside.


Self Defense

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When we try to defend ourselves we bring out what ever weapons we have in an attempt to make us feel safe. When our character is feeling threatened, we fade into the background as what we hold on to comes to the forefront and is highlighted. We do not like being misunderstood. It challenges what believe about ourselves. It hurts when we are judged. Without the proper armor, we are cut by the remarks of others and carry wounds from their words.

The other day I found myself crying. Not because I was lonely; not because I was sad; not because I was depressed. I was crying because I felt helpless. My actions were misinterpreted. My motivations were in question. My heart was judged. What hurt the most was in my gut, at my core, from the center of my being I knew the truth, yet I did not know how to convey it.

The fear of man rose up inside of me. It appeared so strong, and I felt so weak. It was a powerless feeling that swallowed me whole. I felt unable to share about me. I felt unable to shed light and bring understanding, clarification, and be vulnerably honest about the situation. I struggled to be heard as the screaming presuppositions drowned out my voice. I was crushed as it appeared there was nothing I could do to reveal the perspective from my side of the fence.

My goal in the relationship suddenly shrank to simply being known. I was armed with the best defenses. What had been inferred was vehemently contrary to my viewpoint. How could I get them to accurately see when they assumed they knew what was in my heart? They do not live my life. They do not know what goes on day by day. They do not comprehend “all” the factors I take into consideration as I make decisions.

I wished to tell them how hard I am on myself. I wanted so badly for them to realize I am not cold. I wanted to show them how much I desire to live in humility. I felt my heart breaking as I agonized over how much I sincerely look out for the best interest of others, yet I could not find the words to express those truths. All the phrases that bubbled up fro my heart sounded like excuses in my head. Every well thought out reason only drew attention to my sword and further away from my heart.

Suddenly, I began to judge them in return. The more I thought my words to be invaluable, the more I felt I was wasting my time. I could hear myself making good arguments and watching what I said fall on deaf ears. I went from hurt to anger. “I am so glad others know so much about me and what goes on inside my head. I don’t even need to speak.” Sarcasm wanted to have the last word as I entertained negative thoughts.

The sending and receiving of messages is based on so many factors. Non-verbal and verbal communication is subject to so much interpretation. I should know. I have a degree in communication. I have a plethora of tools in my belt, and still in this situation I did not know how to clearly relay my soul. Misguided, I projected my heart to be so “pure” it should speak for itself. Shouldn’t they know me better than this by now?! However, relationships are messy. There are two (or more) people involved. It is like comparing a boxing match in a ring with a sparring partner to a training session in the gym with a sand bag. Hitting a punching bag that does not swing back is way different than being in the ring with someone who has instincts, training, and a coach.

A person’s normals can come from the instincts we have developed through our cultural, social, and economical upbringing. Someone’s perceptions comes from their “training” (i.e., experiences), and their  motives come from beliefs that have been shaped by those they allow to speak into their lives similar to an athletic coach.

When we question the goodness of others we set ourselves up to either attack or defend. When we speculate and reason as to another person’s responses in life, we pridefully assume we comprehend their “why’s”. To save ourselves from a lot of confusion, it becomes paramount to step into humility, and seek to understand rather than be understood. We end up having faith in others, rather than fearing them.

Being vulnerable is scary. It can be awkward, uncomfortable, and it allows for the unknown. Living in freedom may appear like chaos and anarchism. However, when we chose to honor rather than demanding honor we allow for unity, thereby strengthening the relationship instead of tearing it apart. Philosophies are easy to discuss. Its walking them out that takes effort.

Considering people, keeping the peace, and staying true to our hearts is a lot of freaking work.
Humans can be so complicated. Its difficult to want to be around them sometimes. Our narcissistic behavior opens the door to spirits of fear, insecurities, and perpetuation of lies. Our “fight or flight” mechanisms do not instinctively give us the option of staying connected.

So, we have to consciously chose. We have to see value in not retreating. We also have to lay down our weapons, and choose not to war against our fellow comrades in this battle we call life. The best warfare we can “engage” in is to remain “engaged” in relationship, to seek understanding before being understood, to use descriptions rather than persuasion, to seek connection over being right, and to release wholeness rather than hold unforgiveness.

While we will never gain perfection in the battlefield of relationships, we possess the remarkable ability to continually learn and become better communicators. In the end, even after doing our best to communicate our hearts we still run the the risk of being misunderstood. However, the truth does not change simply because someone chooses not to believe it. The world did not suddenly become round because those who thought it was flat changed their minds. The sun did not start revolving around the earth simply because someone thought it did. And ultimately what another thinks about you does not mean you need to change your behavior so they do. The only moral obligation you have in this world is to maintain a clear conscious through open, honest, vulnerable communication, as God is your judge.

Your neighbor is not.

 


Pretty Woman

     “She’s so pretty,” the words every girl wants to hear about herself. However, it is what she believes about herself that is more important. It is where she defines her beauty that actually makes her attractive. Beauty goes beyond skin deep. It goes into the depths of a woman’s soul. The most radiant women light up a room when they exude confidence. They shine when they operate from the inside out and they leave you wanting.

The woman who is average in the looks department or even less than, may hide her beauty. She willingly betrays her feminine side as she puts in little to no effort to accentuate her God given allure. She down plays her appearance as it has become an evil bane to be avoided. Rejection stings like a blistering sunburn. She covers herself up or avoids light altogether. While she protects herself from such hurt she also squelches her free spirit.

Why is that so many strong women come across as closed off, uptight, and pretentious? She may be well dressed, up-kept, organized, and assertive, yet she is intimidating. She can put off an aura of invulnerability. A vast majority of men find her intimidating and thereby avoid her. This woman lives under an umbrella even when the sun is out, not being admired and adored for their strengths. She may even begin to pretend she is ugly.

Other females who are educated and have intellectual thoughts can become torn and even annoyed with those who live at a superficial level. The overemphasized outward beauty and the under appreciated inward development causes us to question our world’s priorities. Pink’s song “Stupid girls” is a prime example, “She’s so pretty, that just ain’t me.”

We all know these women. The cute girl with a pretty face and a gorgeous, hot body. She is easy to be envious of. She emanates sex appeal. She has desirability. She’s been endowed with the art of seduction without trying. Life seems to come easy for her. She acts carefree, happy, silly, and innocent as boys linger at her every word… or so it appears. However, her beauty is fleeting and her charm is deceptive. Her insecurities are endless and her fears overwhelming. Her identity is based on something temporal, therefore it is only a matter of time before her value depreciates quicker than the US dollar.

But being acknowledged for her physical appearance has brought her a long way.  Many like the Kim Kardashians of the world are beautiful and even business minded, yet the remain shallow. With no depth of person, she has no deep well in which to draw from. She may be moved with compassion by the latest “social justice” fads, but she herself is starving for truth. Though she is gorgeous with a mind of her own, often times she simply does not develop it. She overcompensates with materialism as her looks have become her primary facet. Her world crumbles as she ages. Like the queen in Snow White she grasps for potions and seeks the fountain of youth.

On the other hand, the Jenny McCarthys use their beauty as a platform. Though she may flaunt her outward beauty, it has become a vehicle to gain the attention of her real worth of being an articulate educator. In this juxtaposition, she develops an “I don’t give a F**k attitude” which tends to sting like a slap in the face if one payed her a genuine compliment. They fall to the floor as she has no container in which to hold them. She utterly believes her beauty is not a virtue to be extolled, but a weakness to be exploited. It is often her knee jerk reaction to a cruel life of abuse where she does what she has to to survive. She plays the part, but struggles with love. As in Jon Mclaughlin’s song, She feels “…there is no difference betweens the lies and compliments if everyone leaves her.”

It is the Marilyn Monroes of society who have become the most self-destructive. Her desire to “belong”, to be “wonderful”, to be loved for “herself” are her driving motivations. Her self inflicted torment and torture engrosses her being. It only takes a simple read through Marilyn’s famous quotes to hear the longings of her heart. We find the root of her pain in her statement – “No one ever told me I was pretty when I was a little girl. All little girls should be told they’re pretty, even if they aren’t.”

What is in her mind has become her reality. Similar to the movie Inception she can no longer distinguish fantasy from reality. Unless she chooses to believe the truth, not her presuppositions and reasonings, but the true truth, she will be consumed by the lies she accepts to sleep with. Riddled with shame and filled with unbridled pain she has no place for her heart to call home.
She sell her priceless treasures for mere money, or gives them away for free simply because she does not know her worth. She is not willing to wait for someone to pay the cost. She believes there is no one who will put in the effort to pursue her heart. She desires respect and appreciation, yet she opens the door to thieves. She acts desperate and violates her own heart by not holding out for an offer of real love.

She is the girl who lives in constant comparison to others. She lives in lack and hurts the most believing she will always fall short. She can try and try to the best of her ability but she will never be good enough to be genuinely wanted. She may have wisps  of affection, echoes of love, and muddy reflections of respect, but in the end she dies alone.

Are we as women destined to do one of these things? Do we quit before we start, saving ourselves from a world of hurt? Do we preemptively decide there is no hope for us and simply forfeit? Or do we strive for unattainable perfection thereby validating our inadequacies and ultimately throwing out any all real beauty we possess? How is it we live with no hope, no attainable aspirations, and no trust in the truth? How has our beauty become our own worst enemy?

In my all time favorite movie Pretty Woman eventually the girl finally gets it. She reminds me much of myself: red hair, big smile, loves cars, and independent. She doesn’t use drugs and has a head full of dreams. She, like the me of the past, also did not know her worth. Through the process of experiencing love and letting go of fears, she realizes she is destined to be more than a call girl. She wants it all, and finally, when she discovers who she is, she is willing to wait for someone who will give her everything. Her time has come to be seen, to be heard, and to be known.

Though there may have been abuses in our lives, we can not live in blame of others. More precisely, we cannot live in blame of men. Though we have been neglected, overlooked, or under appreciated, ultimately we are responsible for our own actions. What we do in life is a direct response to what we believe. If we seek approval from the outside in we will continually be working on our outsides. If our certainty is from a strong internal foundation from the inside out, we then glow simply because of who we are.


More Than A Few Good Men

     I came across this article asking the question, “Are Men Necessary?” and it got me thinking. I was raised around a majority of boys. At times I found myself wishing I was one. I viewed them as emotionless, carefree, and adventurous. As I grew up I discovered they are actually full of emotions. That being the case, many were never taught to manage their emotions. They did, however, easily display frustration, anger, and avoidance. I also discovered they are not all carefree. Many men are heavily burdened, worried, and tired. They are deep wells, full of concern and carrying a heavy load. This often contributes to their negatively charged outbursts. Lastly, I discovered most men leave their adventurous days in years of boyhood. They grow up and begin to fear risk, fear failure, and often walk away before they even begin any kind of unfamiliar endeavor.

     What happened to this gender I admired? Men who once were seen to bring strength, courage, and hope to the table, are they now cowards, shallow “assholes”, or passive aggressive? Is it really true? Are men really unnecessary?

     But then I started thinking about the men I have come to know and love over the years. The men I adore provide comfort and stability. They are a source of truth, affirmation, and wisdom. The men that capture my attention are those who are still adventurous; those who see what they want and pursue it with tenacity; those who see obstacles as challenges to be overcome. The men I take note of have standards and convictions. Are they perfect? Maybe not in the normal understanding of the word perfect, but maybe that’s what we need: men perfect because they are okay with being men. They are tough like Clint Eastwood in Grand Torino. They are merciful like Jean Valjean in Les Misérables. They are wise like Mr. Miyagi, fun like Adam Sandler in 50 First Dates, and humble like John Coffee in The Green Mile. All this and they make you feel loved like a Nicholas Sparks movie.

     The good ones may not always know what to do or how to do it, but that does not keep them from trying. They put in the effort to be good fathers, good husbands, and good men in general. They keep their eyes on the prize, staying focused no matter what comes their way. They may make mistakes, they may falter, they may even veer off course, yet they will stay true to their hearts. Even though they may have a proverbial good sense of direction, they are humble enough to ask for for input, to ask directions from those around them, knowing they will find due north through the wisdom of many counselors.

     Goodness resides in their core of these men. They want more than mere existence. The men I look up to understand the value of a woman, they know the meaning of team work, and they appreciate discussions of substance. My hero’s are those that have stood the test of time and remain standing. They have fought for what they have believed in. They have not sacrificed others to get where they are going. They love fearlessly and defend ferociously. Though the ones I love make mistakes, they own their mistakes and learn from them, harnessing the wisdom gained into a gale of world changing force.

     Good men may be hard to find.  They are few and far between. They are rare, priceless gems and should be treated like the invaluable treasures they really are. Many of them have fought to get to where they are. They may have been fatherless, left to learn man skills on their own. They may have built a repitiore of hero’s they model themselves after. However they developed their character, we can be sure it has been tested and tried, and it shines through  faithfully.  Within this type of man, a woman can discover her own worth. She can be vulnerable, appreciate her own value without diminishing his, and let her beauty speak for itself. On real men, true men, good men, we can lay our heads on their chests and rest. We can call them home. We find solitude in their arms. We acknowledge peace in their words. We find life in their soul.

     Even good men may not have always comprehended consciously love in it’s fullness, but eventually they display it with every part of their being. They may not have always been a source of strength, but in the end they make you feel strong. Good men finish what they start. And really good men help others finish what they start too.

     So, thanks to all the good men out there. We are glad you are here. You are necessary, and we appreciate you.


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