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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What’s the purpose of marriage?

For the first time, I am able to understand the “no desire to get married” perspective. So many of my non-Christian friends have expressed this attitude for years and I just never got it. To me, you love each other… clearly want to build a life together… so why not?

What I failed to realize, is that beyond my cultural beliefs… my spiritual/religious beliefs are what truly nurture my views on marriage.

Prior to my salvation, I witnessed what my parents shared, and admired every aspect of it. They fostered a relationship of mutual friendship… knew each other inside out…actively yielded to one another in disagreements, jovially played and had intimate discussions with each other. They were an ideal example and I loved it!

Some early mornings, my brother and I would ease drop at their bedroom door and routinely heard them getting on the same page about any and everything. There was a peace about how they related with one another…it was simply beautiful.

I have no doubt that it took years for them to get to that place. Years of working through trials… years of learning each other and adapting… years for a selfless, unconditional love to develop. But from my 3 decades of observation, I am grateful I have had such a positive example to influence my views.

(Especially after seeing the casualties of the abusive marriage my biological mother endured for 8 years.)

However, my view on marriage got 106 fold enhanced, after coming to know Him.

It is not that I became more unrealistic about what marriage entails. I just saw it through a new set of lenses.

It was no longer just a perfect union of two people… it was a union in God and a powerful expression of His love manifested for us.

Marriage was made for the same purpose we are…for His glory… but what makes it even more amazing, is that in the midst of it…the potential for growth is exponential.

Based on current divorce rates (in the US), it is clear that it takes way more than some puppy love-infatuation-sexual connection-financial security- and wavering happiness to maintain a marriage. The initial giggles and coos from over romanticized fantasies eventually fade to standard daily living. Sometimes physical appearances change… or the act of communicating begins to suffocate rather than liberate.

So what is the purpose?

This was the question posed by a lab mate of mine who is currently in a new relationship. Though culturally, her parents (traditional Chinese) would expect her to tie the knot… she has more “modern” ideologies of how things should go. She believes there is no point… you can live with each other, have sex, enjoy each other for a lifetime or not. Essentially, she sarcastically questioned whether she should do it for tax benefits…and expressed how she sees no purpose in it. In her perspective, if he wants to leave her, she wants him to be able to do so, without feeling obligated…without the messiness of having to separate acquired material goods and finances through a legal system.

It was like, WOW… I get it. There would be no purpose if I did not believe marriage was a deliberate choice to unconditionally love another person… to serve them, regardless of it being reciprocated… to stand faithfully by their side, even if they failed to meet your emotional, physical, or even intellectual needs. There would be no purpose if I did not see it as a testimony of His redemption. So how can I expect “modern” society to view it the same way? I really can’t. Culture, mindsets and beliefs are continuously evolving. So I certainly can’t think that even within a society where people are pushing for same-sex marriage… that “traditionally” accepted marriage between man and woman can’t fade into companionships that either work out for a lifetime or end in a simple break up (though not so simple when years are invested).

Don’t get me wrong. I do believe that levels of maturing can occur within companionships…after all, various close relationships can show our deepest character hiccups as well. But as a Christian, I believe there is something that happens in the spiritual when that union is made. All that being said, I finally understand why some people do not see the purpose of getting married.

 


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Dating Standards

Tonight, I decided to skim through Clutch Magazine online since multiple pages of the website were left up (on my computer) by a friend of mine, who seems to love reading their articles. Though I have never seen the purpose of reading this mag (for reasons I will not expound upon here), I decided to give it a shot and dive in.

As expected, articles ranged from struggles with “transitioning” from relaxed to natural hair; to debates on whether some young black boys were either sexually abused, gay, or just influenced by some of the horrendous “music” that is put out in today’s culture; to people’s blatant opinion on why black women should ditch college and get married… essentially, its like the soap opera of whatever seems relevant to the “black community” at the present moment.

Though I will choose not to focus on the overall magazine, there was one article in particular that seemed worth commenting on.. mainly because I have had a number of discussions and/or debates with people about the general topic.

“My Panties Are Staying On If…” dealt with some of the challenges faced by the writer as she decided to return to the dating scene following a 2 year hiatus from her “insecure and possessive lush of an ex-boyfriend.” But what intrigues me about the article, really has nothing to do with the title… but more so with some of the commentary made by readers supporting the notion of a man not being worthy if he does not have a job and at least a bachelors degree.

Of all the comments, one woman mentioned how she passed up multiple good men in her lifetime due to being “selective”… aka having standards…

Good points but be careful ladies, you get my age and you realize these are just rules. I passed on so many great men and now in mid age, I know that all I want is a man who loves and respects me. I wish the guy I loved had money but he doesn’t. I am ok with that because no one can love me like he.

Somehow, present culture has taught us that meeting standards are what make us worth something. We are groomed that we must be educated to attain decent jobs, to be respectable, to be of value in society… and nowadays, it appears to even be worthy of love.

But why?

When did it become a crime to just be a good hearted, decent human being, who works hard and is supportive? Who says that everyone who has achieved “success” in manners we can measure (ex. income, degrees, etc) are truly the ones worth considering?

But most of all, do WE want to be held to those standards? Do WE want to be judged based on our merits?

I personally think someones character is what will dictate the future of a relationship. Their character will greatly influence the values instilled in the family hoped for. And I surely, do not want someone looking at my track record… though I may be educated, my net worth is definitely in the red.

Don’t get me wrong, if you happen to meet that guy who is “successful” according to whatever standards there are… and is truly of upstanding character… a blissful future I bid you.

But do I personally think elimination based on a list makes sense? No. And chances are, if you are miserable in your singleness because of this… you might want to loosen the grip just a little bit, see beyond the list, and evaluate them on something that counts for more.


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“It’s all about presence”

I am now trapped on the thought of this phrase…”it’s all about presence”.

In all my thinkings this week… did I forget the thing that ties it all together? Presence??? I think yes…

While in a simple discussion about my place within my family…presence became the focal point… it’s what makes a difference in all our relationships.

This would not be the time to point fingers of accusation nor to even draw a comparison to the concept of “out of sight, out of mind”…it goes even deeper than that.

Though you can talk to a person and get to know them… though you can believe in who they are and what they present themselves as… though they can hold a specific role in your life… all adding to them   acquiring a level of intimacy that seems to penetrate most facades (maybe some residual pretense exists but not anything substantial) —- please note these may or may not be mutual —-… without presence… something will always be missing… lacking… in want… in need…absent of…incomplete.

I am not even certain what word to use here.. but it seems to be understated in all our relationships… there is something about someone truly being there, that integrates and touches parts of the human soul which can not be reached in any other way. To the point that even words cease to play the most important part. That person… whether they are a significant other.. a family member… a friend… whatever they may be… are THERE… they may exist in your life physically and/or emotionally and/or mentally… I refuse to dive into what thoughts people may have about spiritual existence… but bottom line.. they are PRESENT…this is where entrance into our heart, thoughts and deepest parts of our being can be influenced. It’s the cause.. and the effect.

Presence is the opposite of some common scenarios listed below:

the absentee parents who are physically able to care for their children… but are truly not meeting the needs of their children to feel secure, adequate, loved, etc

the married couple living in growing silence or aimless bickering yet steadily marching on without choosing to let go of pride and selfishness

the girl who is only seen for her looks…her inner substance being completed neglected leading to her sadness

the boy who never had a father in his life so seeks the approval of any male figure

there are many examples of the absence which exists in our present day… however presence is an existence that is real… and when ignored, can leave us utterly empty…

will expound on this more possibly tomorrow! (too sleepy to think clearly but wanted to finish)


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Quick fix

 

In the past, I used to spend a lot of my time dwelling in pits of loneliness…deep, painful, dark and cold pits of loneliness. Basically intolerable. Points where I would utterly question my entire existence on this planet we call earth… and would have relief in the idea of being gone…dead…

I would imagine if then, my life would suddenly matter to those around me…like I was having an outer body experience picturing the scenery as certain friends, colleagues, associates, etc would be in shock at my suddenly being plucked from their lives…from this world. I thought of those who might even shed tears when they learned of my passing… and I literally felt more loved in those made up scenes in my head than I did in the state I was in.

I imagined the regret of people who did not take the time to care for my soul.. the people who took me for granted… the one’s who could not see me and truly know the depths of my pain.

Sounds pretty dark… but this description only expresses the surface of what was my reality.

I chose various methods of escape, whether it was sexual, food, people, entertainment, alcohol, etc… all the standard things that are used to give me a purpose in that moment…a promise to elevate me out of that darkness.

Despite knowing time and time again that the quick fixes would leave me dissatisfied at the end… unfulfilled… and plunge me deeper into nothingness…I found myself addicted to the idea .. addicted to that moment of having a purpose and acting on it.

Today, I can say, a lot of those addictions are gone… some by choice, some not so much… while others are a work in progress… but has my battle with loneliness ended? or have I found more acceptable “quick fixes”? Or am I coping with loneliness in more wholesome ways?

One thing I can definitely say, is though I am alone…and have been alone for a long time now (even in the midst of relationships)… today I realized that I am not actually lonely. I miss having close, intimate relations in the form of truly sharing myself with someone… my thoughts, feelings, weaknesses and strengths, etc… i miss learning through the reflection of my character those relations offer… but i am not in pain.. there is actually a peace about where I am now… though I am alone..

and though a big part of me wants people who I care about or miss or love or whatever…to reach out… to speak to me… to tell me every once in a while that they are there for me etc.. I’m actually okay with where I am right now…

To answer the questions I posed earlier… I do not think my battle with loneliness has ended…i think its dormant… I think I am in the “cease-fire” of it all… Do I have more “acceptable” quick fixes? Maybe.. possibly, blogging is one of them for me…its a way to share what I think and feel without fighting for someones undivided attention and wondering if I am boring them to death or sounding too self-absorbed or whatever else… And yes, I am coping in more wholesome ways… when isolation does not seem like what I need in the moment… I extend myself beyond my boundaries and connect healthily to others.. or I just spend it with Him.

But I do believe the more I connect with Him, the more I make choices to be in good relationships, and resist all temptation of my mind to think on lies… the more I will experience transformation from the inside out… the more I will experience freedom and truly be content.

No relationship, no status, no popularity, no illusion of love, no knowledge about, no substance/material… will ever fill those pits. I’ve tried it all. My hope rests in Him.

http://www.footprints-inthe-sand.com/index.php?page=Poem/Poem.php

 


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Where to begin

 

I have spent the past couple of days reading a lot of blog entries, talking to people whether in person or via text, thinking… and I find myself drawn to so many seemingly different topics that all boil down to the same thing… our desperate need. In an effort to discuss the topics… I am now trying to find a way to calm the raging waves of my thoughts which are going in every direction possible… so I can communicate clearly and more categorically…so please bear with me as I spew randomness!

The words that come to my mind are emptiness versus loneliness (which are not the same but can overlap), fear, no one can ignore the notorious topics – relationships, love… healing from the past versus moving forward, “finding yourself”, choices, belief… the list goes on.. I am not sure which to dive into first because they are all weighty topics which need some level of sensitivity.

Suggestions are welcome, considering I can have as many drafts going… and will typically only publish when I feel the thought has been completed.

 


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Why is that the be all and end all?

 

A little while back, while in the midst of a conversation, I saw the “nugget” look…something that could either be lost in a barrel of thoughts forever (slight exaggeration) or could be shared to invoke more thoughts… a worthy conversational piece…

Why is that the be all and end all?

The that in question was basically marriage tagged with the idea of having the standard dream of kids, a house, etc. The idea of truly having it all … success (as long as a stable, comfortable income is generated)… Like once that happens, a light switches on and the deepest needs to love and be loved, to know and be known, to accept and be accepted…are instantly satisfied.

With statistics showing that in the USA, the divorce rate is about 50%, etc… why does this seem to be the last point that will mark our lives being complete?

But even aside from the statistics… what happens beyond the fairy tale ending? After the hero and the princess are united… what next? Is that it?

So much energy is placed in the idea of what that will bring into our lives… wholeness? security? comfort? happiness? a sense of self-worth or significance?

But what about the people who never get married…or got divorced… or are widowed? Where do they stand in this picture?

From my stand point, as much as I believe in marriage and the beauty of what it represents… as much as I hope to one day share in that… to grow through the challenges of the experience.. the commitment to serve another till death… well physical death at least. I would like to NOT get rushed into it… I would like to not be treated like I am less complete…inadequate… and like I am excluded from club elite because I am not there yet. Because the reality I see is that THAT is NOT the be all and end all.

that will not satisfy all my deep needs for love, acceptance, security and significance… that will not define who I am because my relationship status is not what gives me my identity.

I will not walk this path like my one purpose is to finally find THE ONE… like all of a sudden loneliness disappears (which it does not, talk to some married folk) and then I will be content?

The depths of my soul needs something way bigger and more fulfilling than what that can give… so how about we get a little realistic and put our hope in something that is constant and will actually last for an eternity. Desiring it is good…but there is something even greater.