2

React or Respond

 

When you can’t put your prayer into words, God hears your heart.

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On Wednesday of this week, I got an email from Eddie Bauer, informing that they were giving me a gift card for $30 since it’s been a while since I’ve bought from them. They claim to miss me! I haven’t bought any clothes in over a year, I like clothes, but I always buy way more books and food than I do clothes. For Christmas, my Mom gave me a $40 gift card for a local and very popular second-hand store, St. Vincent du Paul. Most people would probably agree with me when I say their selection and prices are better than Value Village. I am at the point where I really don’t like the clothes I wear. Maybe, I should go to the trouble of printing off this coupon at the library because I don’t have a printer or a mobile phone.

I haven’t found a perfect way to express what may burst into my life, but I’m realizing this is somehow linked to who I am. I am taking off the layers that cover the core of who I am.

Learning who I am

Just when it seems that I am doing pretty good, Lent and spring allergies pop up, like I haven’t experienced in years.

I want to be who I am all the time, but by not eating refined sugar it’s brought up anger that I didn’t think were still there and a situation I tried to push away. Even though I know that life isn’t perfect, I think I expected it to be, and I feel as I am waiting for it to happen. My invisible feathers get all huffed up when someone isn’t as kind or respectful as I would like, but who I am to determine whether I get kindness or respect. Instead, I am being nudged to be the one to show kindness and smiling when I am all out of playing nice with other people.

All of my struggles all of a sudden are magnified a hundred times. This isn’t what living an authentic life is supposed to be. – right?

The Real Deal

I want the real, unrefined, not going to slip through my fingers kind of life. I don’t want a processed life, so instead of a cheap version, it will be filled with the wholeness of who I am. I have this image of me running in an open field but I don’t know my destination. Becoming who I was created to be will not happen overnight. I grew up believing that I would know everything when I was in my twenties, but I don’t know where that belief came from. Becoming an adult hasn’t given me all of the freedom I sought as a little girl. Instead, I think I am realizing that it’s possible, but it may take some time, probably my entire life! But if I can get glimpses of what it looks like, I can keep going back to the map that’s imprinted on my heart.

 

 

 

 

2

Love My Dad

Who you were, who you are and who you will be are three different people –  Author Unknown

 

Your identity is the most valuable part of you, but most of us, some of us have no idea what it is. Knowing who you are minus all the titles we play day in and day out can blur out the truth of your identity. Confusion is a big deterrent and a likely suspect in losing ourselves to the constant swirl of life.

~

As a little girl, I loved the feel of the cool green grass under my bare feet. I believe at the time that I had the biggest backyard than anyone I knew. I could hide in our tree house that existed out of weirdly shaped trees that bordered our property. In the summer, I would walk over the cracks in the cement in our backyard because I never knew for sure if stepping on them would break my Mothers back. Clothes hung on the clothesline overhead. I could go visit my (Hebrew for grandmother) Bubi anytime I wanted. I remember the sand stuck between my toes and ants crawling over the big peony buds right before they would bloom.

Fear that no one wanted me

Ever since I started this blog, I have used each post as a place for my healing. It has become a place where I have been able to share who I am without fear of rebuff of any kind. Finding my identity and claiming it has been a long process. From an early age, I have been shy, preferring to stay close to my Mom.  When I met Jesus, I became more aware of myself, and at times it was extremely painful. Slowly, I would surprise myself at how well I would speak to others. Over time, the shyness that I assumed was a part of me disappeared, as I would go to reach for it. It was my protection over what I felt I couldn’t control. From the world that I had a hard time processing through.

Shyness is a reaction to feeling rejection. This was at first confusing because as that little girl with the ash blonde hair I thought knew who I was. I believed that the shyness was a part of the package of my personality.

If we lived in a perfect world, I would be living my dream. I wanted to be loved. I didn’t know if I deserved it but it was this silent, persistent need that over time gave my credence of what I didn’t see as acceptance. You see I wanted my Dad to see me as a lovable little girl, but what I didn’t know at the time was he didn’t have the skills on how to fill my emotional needs.

It wasn’t until I was in my mid-twenties that I learned that daughters’ need their fathers love as much as we need oxygen to breathe. The extreme anxiety and depression that I struggled throughout my childhood through to my early 30’s. spoke volumes of how I tried to teach myself on how to handle my emotions.  I can’t breathe unless I know my father loves me unconditionally. It was the root. I really believed I was a terrible person.  Desperate, I was for my Dad to notice me. To take an active interest in who I was.

Before I go on, this is not a post to bash fathers because they are hurting too. Too many men are being pushed down, or believe it’s not good to be masculine and to be as they have been created.

As I have learned about all my parts, or at least the ones He has chosen to show me, I have had many aha moments. He has brought clarity into my being, and a peace that is everlasting. And get this! People really do like me.

Knowing who I am, the peace can flow into every part of my being

As a little girl, I desired for my Dad to notice me, to see me and pursue me. I wanted him to be interested in who I was, but as time went by, he did none of what of what was in my heart. So I did the only thing I knew and I began shutting down emotionally, mentally and physically. Instead, I sought out my Dad, I asked him about the rules of Canadian football, what and why he washed his car. Nothing I did got the attention I was desperate to have from him.

It took me a long time to realize I couldn’t change him, no matter how many times I initiated something with him. I had finally got it, that it had never been my job in first place. It was his job as my father to delight in me – as his daughter. To show me his love, protection, values, and everything that was important to him. I wanted to know who he was and is, but that part of his heart to me has never been opened to me.

My Dad is without the skills I need. I believe his own father didn’t give him what he needed as a boy growing up. His own feelings about his Dad (my grandfather) aren’t the memories that you hold close to your heart. Rather they are the kind that you push away, and you let everyone else teach you how to be a man. Yes, we need our parents, a mother and a father to show us how to be a man or woman –  learned from their parents. A family is about love, trust and passing it down because it is good to know that there is a place where all of us can truly belong and be accepted. There is no cost to join, we simply need to be the product of our parents love that is between them. I believe how we are brought up determines a lot of who we become. It guides our perception of the world, it certainly leads mine.

I speak with my Dad once a month, we chat for about 15 minutes on the usual things. I would love to go to visit him but that just doesn’t seem to be his thing.  Does my Dad love me? Yes. I have no doubt that he does, he kind of gives it away in the way his eyes shine and sparkle when he first sees me. This could be a whole other post because I know my heavenly father has and is filling me with what I lack.

I’m not the shy, scared, self-hating little girl with ash blond hair anymore. Nor am I am the girl who hid from her peers. I am not the awkward adult who didn’t feel that she was a full-grown adult and just a child in disguise. Don’t get me wrong there are still times, the child in me comes out and gives a sly smile at those around her, and allows some of them into her heart so that they can see for themselves that God still saves.

2

How Not to Become Selfish

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I was shocked at first by his accusation, and it was out of this shock that kept me quiet.  Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t mean I am not screaming back at the person inside of my head. I have the greatest comebacks, sarcasm drips off my lips and I say it all with confidence. Anxiety invades my peace and spreads like a poison through my body.

What’s his deal? Why do people all of a sudden believe that just because they can see a dirty look on your face that they assume it’s about them? I don’t know how else to say it, but I feel ambushed by a lack of respect that I keep encountering. It’s sharp, hides behind corners and hits hard and fast.

It went without saying that whenever my sister and I (growing up) received anything that we were either to give a verbal thank-you, a phone call, or we got out the fancy stationary.

We were taught to share the sidewalk with other foot-travelers, strollers. We learned to ride our bicycles on the road and learn the signals. Always be on time for your job, and anything else that was worth of showing our respect. We were taught what our parents thought and believed were no-brainers to be bringing up young girls. It still makes sense to my sister and me after all these years,

It’s not the same

Of course, it isn’t, I haven’t been a child for over 25 years (scary thought) but a lot of things have changed, and most of it isn’t for good. Yes, I had a hard childhood, but I have good memories, considering that I wasn’t kidnapped, abused by a family member, raised in a cult, or abandoned to become a feral child. I remember dancing in the rain with my sister in the summer, going camping, walking in the grass in bare feet.

In case you live in an underground bunker, most of what is considered respect towards others have disappeared.  Somehow, when certain people come together, the idea of working together isn’t prized most. Being selfish wins hands down. It’s in my blood I think to move over so that other person can get by, or if I step on someone’s foot by accident, I apologize, and I acknowledge them.

The values that I was raised with like respect, courtesy, politeness has gone the way of the boars. Simply being kind and going out of your way is disappearing. There’s a lethargy that is spreading all around us.

Part of what has been happening at my work is the lack of respect that is being shown towards me by upper management. I work for a small organization, and up until October, I felt no real reason to not be proud of who I represented in my workplace. As of January 2017, I will get a new supervisor. None of my managers made the point of telling me what was going on. I found out from one of my clients that my supervisor had been removed from her position. In the handbook for employees, it states that employees should expect support from their managers, but from my perspective, no respect or even professionalism was used to deal with the situation.

My transition has been slow

I seem to keep running into heads first in the department of lack of respect that I am deserving as an employee. I could say that I feel I am not receiving the support that I need from management. Meanwhile, as I attempt to muddle through the transition I am accused of having an attitude. Many people work in environments that aren’t safe, nor are they being paid a salary they can survive or raise a family. It’s like the noose around our necks is being pulled tighter and tighter.

For the last few months, I have been depending on the Foodbank because even though I am paid more than my province’s minimum wage, it’s not enough to get by on. If we were all treated with dignity, kindness, and mercy we wouldn’t have this problem. We need community, we each other, but we would rather retreat inside of ourselves, partly due to the widespread availability of computers, and usage of social media. It’s supposedly our new way of relating to others, but how can you really get to know someone when a screen separates you, and it allows, and encourages the ability to remain anonymous.  A vulnerability is still required. We build high fences so we don’t have to see our next-door neighbour’s backyard. New houses aren’t built with front porches anymore. Condos are built in rezoned areas that used to be residential thus destroying the area that used to inspire other families to move in and build lasting memories. Building a true and vibrant community isn’t about squeezing as many people in an area. Is this how not to be selfish? No, but I have learned that all you need to do is plant the seed of kindness with a smile.

 

 

 

0

Hindsight is Perfect

 

Michael stood in the last row on the very end in my kindergarten class picture with the biggest teddy bear. He had chocolate brown eyes, black hair that never seemed to be in place with his cow’s lick and a proverbial runny nose courtesy of his all season allergies.

He was this paradox in my life from the time I was five until I was 24 years old. He was a constant in my life. Being with Michael was always fun, especially on P.D. days. I learned how gross boys could be, but I chalked it up to boys just being weird, always dirty and entertaining. He didn’t like it when I was sick, and he would attempt to kiss me when I was feeling better. Even though I would pretend indifference as he attempted to kiss me when I felt better. I would never admit it ,but I liked that he missefile000202384719d me. I could just look at him, and that would send me into fits of laughter

In high school, we kept in touch mostly by calling each other once a week, and I think I believed everything would stay the same. But it was then that I saw changes taking place in him. Nothing concrete, but like bread crumbs being laid down, I saw, heard and sensed the confusion that slowly developed in him.

The entire time I was friends with Michael, I wanted him to notice me, but I was always in conflict with myself because I didn’t know where I stood with him. I had this bad habit of mixing his name up with my Dad’s name, and I would call my Dad; Michael. I knew something wasn’t right, but I didn’t know I was looking at Michael for what I really needed from my Dad. I knew psychology would probably explain why I kept mixing the names up. Communicating well was not in my vocabulary at this time. I kept everything locked up tight inside my head. I was quiet, shy and very observant but Michael was able to see beyond that. He would always remember me.

It wasn’t until he moved away for University that I began seeing a side of him emerge that I had never met before. He had purposely chosen a program that would take him away from home. The home was not the oasis that most would assume about his family. His parents were both teachers, and while it made for great appearance sake, things were fraying at the edges in his family.

I remember one year when Michael had come home a few days before Christmas, and of course, he hadn’t even started his Christmas shopping.   It was probably my only chance to really spend time with him. One such year, I remember as he met up with some friends and he started talking to them. It was like he pretended that he didn’t know I was standing right beside him. I had started becoming invisible to him. On reflection, I realize it had been happening longer than I wanted to admit to. I had him on such a high pedestal, I could only see his good side. There were some other situations that showed me that we weren’t little anymore. I began to doubt his loyalty and friendship to me. I even wrote him a letter at one point, about our friendship, and his solution a bouquet of a dozen red roses. At some point, I started hearing a silent voice, and I believe it was God, who spoke. “Michael is not the marrying kind.” I ignored this, but it was the truth.

Around the time of my initial conversion to Christ(1999) when it seems like God simply picked me up, and everything that I was avoiding and had suppressed was unearthed from me.  For me, that meant acknowledging my feelings. Every single one I hid from because they scared the crap out of me. It was around this time that I noticed that Michael had this friend that didn’t seem like the kind of friend Michael would normally hang with. Michael always had to work hard for his grades in school, and was in no way a nerd, but this ‘friend’ was very much a nerd. These bread crumbs that I saw while he was in high school had never disappeared.  He never stopped trying to tell me what he feared I think the most, at the time, was his sexuality.

I don’t remember the exact circumstances but I remember the age that we were when I last pexels-photo-105041saw him; he was 24 years old, and I was 23. He was four months older than me. My mom had heard the news on the radio, and a neighbour confirmed hearing his name as well. Michael had been charged with sexual assault of two young boys. I wish I could remember exactly what he wearing and looking the last time I saw him but I don’t. In fact, I don’t have a single picture of him as an adult, and I don’t think that’s an accident. I don’t remember my thoughts, but in the weeks and months ahead I experienced so much anger towards him. He had stopped being that person I thought I knew.

I don’t know where my decision to break off contact with him came from, but I knew couldn’t deal with his stuff and my stuff at the same time.  I did what I thought was healthy at the time. I told him I couldn’t be his friend anymore. I wrote him a letter. He never tried to contact me, he respected my wishes. The innocence of our friendship had faded a long time ago, but I had just assumed I would be his friend in some way for the rest of our lives. But he has never left my heart.

I always believed my heart was burning for him. I wanted a friend who would always be with me, always listen, always want and love me, but it wasn’t Michael; he was badly chipped. I wanted him to be what I needed, and if only he would truly ‘see’ me everything would be better. I pinned all of the solutions to my problems to Michael noticing me. It took a long time before I realized he was just a boy, who just wanted to be loved and accepted by those around him. Yes, he’s an adult now, but there are parts of us that never truly grow up, and stand tall to be that man or woman that we were created to be.

Published previously in 2014

Luke~24:30-32

2

Parts of a Whole

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I saw my doctor earlier in the week for an unrelated situation, but he always likes to read what we discussed when I last in, by way of the notes, he has made. He asks all these questions that he knows the answers to, but he’s like that. Yep, I just want to zip in and zip out.

Questions

It’s the questions about being social that has me fidgeting, and it’s because well, I’m not big on the socializing thing, and there’s good reason, I’m an introvert. But instead of calling me an introvert, he called me a loner. There’s just something about the word loner that has me squirming on the inside of me. I feel as if he thinks I should be more social, but that’s not me. My doctor asks how often I socialize during the month, and to be honest being at work, really is my social hour five days a week. Then at the end of the day, the last thing I want to do is socialize again.

The loner really gets a bad rap because it’s the loner who ends up killing innocent bystanders as  the crazed gunman who opens fire on unsuspecting victims riding the bus home. It turns out the gunman didn’t have many friends, in fact, he spent a lot of time by himself. Most of his neighbours would go for months without seeing, but when they did, he would yell obscenities at them. He was estranged from his family, and that’s when everyone starts judging why he went on this rampage of terror…

Sounding familiar

Sure I know other people who are introverts, but in no way would they or I become violent. I can’t even watch movies with a lot of violence, and even if I’m forced I close my eyes. I want the HEA, and feel that good feeling that goes with it. Yes, most people who kill others in disregard aren’t healthy, and obviously, these individuals probably have serious emotional and/or mental health concerns. But that’s one of the reasons I don’t like the word loner.

It’s hard to get to know me and people don’t come running up to get to know me, I’ll admit it here that I  would rather observe you and the situation before I really open myself up to anyone I haven’t met before. Yes, I spend a lot of time alone, and yes I love it! But I also enjoy spending time with people, and enjoy being around other people and a small amount of socializing hasn’t yet harmed me! For most people, being around other people is something that is fun to do. Being by myself has really helped me to get to know myself, but it has also has helped me to know when I need others and step out into my community and seek others out.

When my Doctor used the word ‘loner’ I realize now that he didn’t mean to put me off. Yes, introverts are part of a minority, so yes I am to a point misunderstood, but sometimes extroverts need to try to understand what the minority is all about. I know growing up before I really knew what introversion was all about, I tried being like everyone else which, if you read this blog on any kind of regularity – you’ll know it didn’t work for me. I just knew that I couldn’t fit the shape of who I was through anyone else’s cookie cutter.

And that is exactly what my direction is.

It is the labeling of names, words that somehow start to define how we and others see us. We become part of this mold, and we try to live up to that impression or appearance. There are certain words and labels that would definitely show others who I am, but I believe that there are all parts of the whole and that unless they are shown just the parts they will never know the whole of who I am. I am convinced that people are only seeing parts of my whole, but maybe they are able to see the whole of who I am. It’s not all about being an introvert to know who I am. It’s in the knowing, in the confidence that I have from staying true to my beliefs, expressing myself in ways that attest to this belief. It’s a mixture of a lot of things, but in the end, my parts are essential to my whole. So I’ll continue to go along with this label annoyance!

A challenge to all extroverts!

Calling all extroverts I encourage you to go up to someone you know is for sure an introvert, and befriend them.  Make the extra effort to talk to them on a regular basis if this possible. If you preserve in attempting to speak to them, I promise you great things will happen! Let me know in the comments if do take the challenge and how it goes.