Thinking out loud while "changing my thinking"

in Him


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Are you “powerful” or “powerless”?

I have to say, I am pretty excited for what is happening in my heart.

For the past few months, I have been challenged in my thinking and actions in ways that go beyond subtle awareness of faults.

Areas in my heart that need “work”…healing…and softening, have been highlighted relentlessly, yet delicately.

The real question is where to begin in the sharing process (bear with me as I am running on 2 hours of sleep again).

Like a great number of people, I was the product of a broken home.

I grew up in a family that was filled with laughter and celebration. The sweet smell of fresh-baked yeast breads clothing the house in warmth. Sounds of music fluttering through the air. Gatherings where games were played, movies watched and stories shared.

On the outside looking in, we were the perfect family.

Even under the scrutiny of an insider, we seemed like the perfect family. But something was just a little…off?

Expression of who I was seemed to contradict the culture I was growing up in…or maybe it just threatened authority figures sense of control.

If I was in a serious or sad, introspective mood… I was commanded to look happy.

If I wanted to spend some time alone in the bedroom, I was approached – asked what I was doing – and told to come join everyone else.

If I expressed myself truthfully but politely through letter, I was given “the keys to my life”… aka told that the security I had in having someone care for me, was being removed… and I, in return, would have freedom to do anything of my choosing without interference. A pretty detrimental thought to a child.

Considering verbal communication was already a challenge for me due to fear of rejection, the statement of giving me “the keys to my life”, along with other responses to my attempts at communicating, pushed me further into a lifestyle of people pleasing.

However, the hardest, yet most hidden issue within this, was the sense of not belonging.

There was an aching inside that was not pacified by the warmth of my family. And I had no idea how to process it.

Fast forwarding to about 17/18 years old, I discovered a lot was hidden behind lies for my protection.

Parents were grandparents… oldest brother was biological father…my dreams of witnessing physical abuse and experiencing intense fear must have been real…and the woman in those dreams, was my mother.

So naturally, the next question was…who and where was she?

Though grateful for the family I grew up in, for all the good things….ex. saw a beautiful marriage, had a loving father and strong mother (bio grandparents), etc…A part of me struggled to suppress the restless desire to know who I came from genetically… even though I did not understand why I was curious.

I also had a longing for intimacy…a true desire to connect.

Fast forwarding to the present day… I am now pretty disconnected from my family.

Between broken ties from my biological parents (who are divorced) at a young age…rejection of who I was over the years … coupled with moving every 3 years…AND then moving away from my family. I have become a detaching/distancing expert.

A queen at avoiding pain…fleeing while masking it with confidence…(unknowingly).

Initially, I saw my detachment as a coping mechanism that became a part of me…which meant I really had no control over it.

But as the issue began to surface in my close relationships… especially one in particular…I became more attentive to it.

Then another friend addressed me head on, telling me how he felt slighted when I kept my distance while his daughter visited etc…he proceeded to discourage my detachment from those I love…advising me to allow myself to feel the pain of missing people.. to put myself in the presence of them, even at the risk of rejection.

I WAS BAFFLED.

All I could say in response is “Why on earth would I do that?”

But the conversation was speaking to my heart despite the resistance I put up.

Every single day, from that point on…I can tell the dead, dark places of my heart are surfacing and being replaced…the dry places are being watered…while the calloused parts are being chiseled off…slowly, steadily, and gently.

Every day, my interactions with people are revealing my active commitment to moving toward them, or away from them. Aka, my actions are revealing my subconscious or conscious goal to connect or disconnect with people… as described in Keep Your Love On by Danny Silk (so far a great read).

All this coupled with what God has revealed to me through scriptures and reflection…. I am like wow, I have lived so much of my life as the “powerless” when I am fully equipped to live as the “powerful”. 

Here are some key points of the “powerful”:

  • They do not control other people; their job is to control themselves
  • They can choose to love because He chose to love them
  • They respond instead of reacting to fear and pain.
    • “Powerful people are not slave to their instincts…they can respond with love in the face of pain and fear”
  • In responding, they engage by training their mind to think, use their will to choose, and their body to obey

All this being said, I am on a journey and the question posed to me today, is the same I would like to share with you….

What is the goal in your close relationships? Whether it is marriage, friendship, parent to child, sibling to sibling, co-worker or even a stranger….

Are you trying to create a safe connection or a safe distance?

Will you choose today, to be “powerful” or “powerless”?

LOVE

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“(I can’t get no) satisfaction”

satisfaction by rolling stones 2

The old rolling stone hit, “(I can’t get no) satisfaction,” seems to capture a very present reality in today’s society…(feel free to click this YouTube link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HoxRFOr_sQ0).

The lead singer starts off with the title line, and follows it with the repetition of how he has “tried”… over and over, to no avail. But as simple as these lyrics may seem… the summary of the efforts placed on reaching satisfaction, and the message, of how “ideas” are sold to us through marketing/branding… is absolutely brilliant.

From radio to TV to magazines to social media… there is practically nothing left that is NOT designed to feed our imagination with “must-have” desires. The conditioning is almost inescapable.

But reality is…You will never become fully satisfied and secure in any position in your life…until you stop comparing. Whether this position is within your job, relational, activities, material possessions or even in self-reflection …it is a losing battle.

Over the years, I have spent a great deal of time evaluating myself and people around me, against what I believe… and what I have come to realise, and agree with, was well expressed by Neil Anderson…we all have the same basic needs: identity, acceptance (love), security and significance…But the real challenge comes in how we choose to have those needs met.

For me, I have constantly looked to the world to fulfill my needs… and boy has it failed on every level possible.

From my wild partying, dare-devil days… to indulgences in sexual lusts for the sake of wanting to “feel” loved and important to someone…to pleasing people for approval…to wanting some role or status that will place me in the lime light of admiration.

Each and every one of my strivings, have failed miserably. They have left me broken, lonely, angry, confused, without hope… and crazy enough… coming back for more. <SHOCKER>

The idiom “kill two birds with one stone” is not unfounded. In one sweep, the attempts to fulfil my needs have given me instant gratification….but have also left me fearful of loss.

What the world does not tell you… is that the very platform you are striving to take hold of, waivers. Just as we are guaranteed to get older the longer we live… we can also rest assured that people’s opinions of us will change…jobs can be lost…trends modulate… you name it!

Yet, there is a tendency to “come back for more.”

I can not even go into how many times I have repeated destructive cycles and found myself asking “how did I end up here again?”  Completely illogical when you lay out the cause and effect.

The earnest search for fulfillment…the longing to be satisfied in life…can not be found in what the world offers.

Working out for the sake of being healthy is great…but should not be confused with weight loss obsessions that give you the illusion of being more acceptable to people…or even yourself.

Peoples compliments/encouraging words about our character are timely…but should never be the source of our identity and significance.

Attaining degrees, having the “six figure” income, a place you can call home, a spouse and children, (etc) are all gifts…but should never be what we place our security in.

THEY CAN ALL CHANGE IN ONE SWIFT BLOW

At the end of the day, God is the only constant. He is my source of hope. He is the only one that will meet my needs the way it should be. Please do not interpret this, as me saying I don’t need people… because that is not true. We all do. The harmonies God creates through the right relationships… “are vital to becoming a whole person” (Keep your love on by Danny Silk). What He has made available is where true satisfaction can be attained…and that’s the beauty of this journey.


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Letters to the broken

As I stood in the kitchen washing dishes, the news of his father becoming a drug user began to circle my mind. Even though I knew there was no direct way to verify this allegation…there was also no reason to deny it. He used to deal…he just got out of jail  for dealing, about 8 months ago… and is currently dating a woman who is known to actively use.

The thought of his son, now only 2 years old, losing the chance to have a dad involved in his life… the thought of what he will be exposed to as he gets older, and learns what his father is into… the thought of the cliché “history repeats itself,” seemingly so real, in a world where patterns propagate over and over again. The cycles are so heart breaking and painful to watch. Endless shadows of families that could have been, turned to single mother households… endless tales of young girls seeking affirmation from male counterparts leading to unplanned pregnancies.

Take a trip to your nearest low-income neighbourhood and watch. The evidence is overwhelming. But let’s not pretend it only exists in underprivileged communities. Even the wealthy suffer the same epidemic. Our society is laced with brokenness.

If I could write a letter to each man, woman and child.. it would go something like this…

Dear Brother

Before you walk out that door…Know that this attempt to show you’re in control… to show that you are “wearing the pants” …is a blatant display of your weakness. This woman, that you whispered promises of love and gave hope of a future… will be left with yet another wound, which will turn into a scar. Her heart will be broken… her insecurities enhanced. Her sense of worth will diminish as she recalls every conversation and quarrel you every shared… questioning whether any of it was genuine.. or if she just ‘played the fool’. Know that the fierce, rigid attitude with which she guards her pride, will crumble the moment you walk out. Realize that the child or children, who allowed you to creep into their heart(s), gaining acres of trust, respect and love… will lose their sense of safety and security… their world will become increasingly unstable… they will become intimate with abandonment, and flirtatious with the art of escape.  Before you make the choice to leave… ask yourself, how will this impact them? and is your immediate satisfaction worth it?

Dear Sister

We have been down this road before…I understand those words caressed your deepest areas of need… but must it end in the bedroom? Why not stop this time.. and allow him to learn you in every other way but the physical. Rather than have him be your measure of worth.. why don’t you begin to see your own worth? Look in the mirror and see how radiantly beautiful you are… embrace the tenderness of your heart; you were designed to nurture and comfort.  Don’t be ashamed of your emotions… though you are not to be led by them… having them does not make you less sane…less valuable. Before you submit your body… has he made you his wife? Has he honoured and protected you from the selfish desires of his flesh, and yours? Has he taken the time to know you in all your complex simplicities? Does he lead you down the right path? Will he make the choice of loving you, a daily mission?

If you’re a mother, look in your child’s eyes and ask if this he will be father and “daddy” to this precious, impressionable soul? Realize that the power to influence your child (or children)… is being released into his care.. for better or worse.

Dear Child,

I am sorry for every time your sense of security was trampled on…for every moment your parents chose to put their needs and wants above yours. I am sorry they did not create that environment of love, support and wholesome family hood that you needed. I’m sorry they made you feel like you had to earn your significance; fighting for their attention and approval. I am sorry you were guilted into responsibility or were considered too stupid to ever be a mature adult. Recognize that despite their seemingly infinite imperfections… they too are lacking. Choose to forgive them. Choose to love them. Choose to disrupt the pattern of brokenness by responding… by making the right choice. Your story does not have to follow their pattern. Your story can travel along a different path.

If I could write letters to each man, woman and child… I would say,

“Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light”

There is still hope.


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Things to be grateful for

The procedure has been completed.

If you have ever heard the expression “shot-gun wedding”… today was my shot-gun dental surgery.

Contrary to my earlier post, my endodontist decided to drive back from his other home (1.5 hours away) after receiving my tear filled page at 4 am this morning. I fought to manage my pain..  but nothing..  literally nothing was pacifying it. 2 percocets, 3500 mg of ibuprofen and on my way to refill ice for the 6th time…I broke out in heaving sobs by my dining table.

Oddly enough, as if Angel (my cat) knew I was in pain..she no longer ran ahead for my attention…she stopped, turned and watched me. The pain was overwhelming.

I prayed for relief. I could no longer sit and read online blogs while holding an ice pack to my face because I was starting to see spots…Half sitting up, I curled over the ice pack/towel/pillow set up I devised. Laying in the dark only aware that I was in pain…and that no one was there. (Interesting how in the midst of suffering we become very aware of being alone)

By 7 am…my prayers were answered. Despite aching pain… everything seemingly surreal…a soothing occurred that enabled me to sleep for a couple of hours.

By the time I woke up…I had missed two calls from him…letting me know he was on his way etc…

As I had suspected…though my cheeks are chubby… one side was swollen due to infection and he could tell just by touching it.

Not all the tissue had been cleaned out during the root canal procedure I underwent 2 weeks ago, so it caused the infection from the abscess to fester. As he drilled in…he exclaimed that fluids were gushing out and how I should feel relief from the pressure… and bear with the taste.

Taste?

Forget taste… for me the idea of infection fluid rolling around my mouth and possibly getting swallowed was way worse than the thought of a nasty taste.
To finish it off…he began using a scraper to dig into my gums warning me that I would feel it..but that it was necessary in order for fluids to be drained etc.

He also shaved my tooth down since the infection had caused it to loosen, leading to collisions with my upper teeth.

I now have a hole in my gums, a hole in my tooth and more pills to ingest.

All this being said, I have decided there are things to be thankful for:

Thank You for him deciding to inconvenience himself for my sake.

Thank You for the problem being identified.

Thank You that my tooth could be saved.

Thank You that the infection was caught before spreading to my blood stream.

Thank You that the pain became so unbearable, I did not continue to “tough it out”.

Thank You for relief and for the possibility that I will be able to sleep through the night again.

And there are more… but for now, I will rest.

 

 


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Another tortuous night

Once again, I am giving up on trying to sleep.

Having dozed off multiple times, only to be re-awakened by the nagging pain… and/or from the dripping of ice melting down the side of my face… I just can’t take it anymore.

It’s another dental work gone doubly wrong.

The result of the over ambitious young’un who decided to drill so close to my pulp when filling with amalgam…= development of an abscessed tooth.  Once again, a situation of neglect and failure to listen when I reported having abnormal sensations and pains on my lower right gum/jaw… being told “oh, these things take a while to heal”… rather than investigating the source.

Found out 13 days ago, that the tooth now needed a root canal. But to make all this worse… after being in tears on the plane ride to Denver… after nights…just like this one… of waking up at 2 or 3 am… or not being able to sleep till such odd hours despite popping several hundred milligrams of ibuprofen… It appears the root canal was not done properly. SMH.

What is it going to take to get the right care? How many times must I be crippled with this suffering?

I have taken Percocet and at least 2000 mg of ibuprofen…I have gone through 3 wrappings of ice to help sooth… and when I finally felt the sweetness of sleep hit me… the stabbing became unbearable…sigh.

The response of the endodontist when I had him paged today…

Endo: “Does it hurt when you bite down?”

Me: “Yes

Endo: “Don’t you normally take a while to heal?”

Me: “No, this is different.. the pain is getting worse daily”

Endo: “So you feel pain when you bite down?”

Me: “Yes… it’s really painful.. it typically starts off feeling sore and uncomfortable, achy… then becomes a throbbing pain… progressively spreads through my lower jaw… then my inner ear.. then the temple of my head etc..”

Endo: “Hm. Maybe some tissue got left in there… so do you have more pills or you want me to call in some more for you?”

Me: “I’m sure I have some but I just…”

Endo: “Is your face swollen?”

Me: “Umm.. I don’t know.. doesn’t seem…”

Endo: “Well, do you want me to call in more or you got enough to wait till monday?”

Me: “I have enough..”

Endo: “Okay well I’ll get you in at 7:30 am monday and we will fix the problem… be there on time.. I’m coming in early for you..(etc)

Me: “I’ll be on time..”

(etc)

As I get off the phone… all I can think is…seriously? Because my face hasn’t blown up.. and I have enough prescribed pain pills.. I must continue to suffer till it’s convenient? And coming in early for me?… My original appointment was 8 am anyway… so how much earlier is 30 minutes? SMH.

There was a time, when people in medical fields actual cared about their patients well-being. Am I missing something?