Monday, November 28, 2011

I'm coming to terms, I'm starting to learn this ain't all it's cracked up to be

"I know life is hard, but I feel like it shouldn't be this hard."

^Topic of a recent conversation I had with an incredibly beautiful soul.

What shouldn't be this hard, you may ask?

1. Trusting God.
2. Maintaining friendships/relationships
And of course many other things... but this is what I'm sticking with for the sake of this conversation....because this is a conversation? ;)

1. Ok, so, intellectually, I get that God is perfect, can't change His will, is all loving, and ALWAYS wills the best for me. That being said, His way of going about it just doesn't always compute well with my little broken human intellect and such. For example, (not getting into the details, though most of the people who know me can probably hazard a guess) for a great length of time, I was working towards a specific goal, and I earnestly believed that it was God's will that I do. However, wouldn't you know it, said end goal ended up being swept from beneath me and lost its every ability to be an option. I must say, I can understand now, and have for a while, that I really was never meant to meet that goal, that it's better that I didn't. However... I really did think it's what I was meant for at the time... and I thought I was giving all that I had to do what was right. It wasn't perfect, but I honestly thought I was following God's will for me.

Ever since, even though, once again, I get it's better in the long run, I've found it a lot harder to trust God. Or maybe it's more just that I don't trust that I'm following Him. Or a little of both. I still find myself asking Him why He let me believe He wanted a certain end goal for me if He really didn't. It boggles my mind. And I know that everything is in His time and in His way, but I have to ask Him why He had to use methods that feel so underhanded to my broken heart. (disclaimer: I know He's not underhanded, etc. I'm just rude and imperfect and this is the best way for me to describe it... He and I have an understanding, I promise)

During a conversation with the aforementioned beautiful soul, she mentioned to me that she just had a friend who left the seminary because he realized his call was to be a husband and father. And he said that if he knew in the beginning that he would be leaving the seminary after four years to pursue the vocation of being a husband and father, that he probably wouldn't have been as committed to the formation he received in the seminary. But that formation is what he needed for the next step in his life.

I still don't know the precise reason I had to run headlong toward a goal that was never meant for me, but I have learned a great deal about myself in the process. I have also grown a lot stronger in some respects. I have grown to appreciate vulnerability and openness, even in myself, more than I have before. I also  understand better how my heart operates, and some things that I will not live without. I am coming better to grips with my own worth, and that alone is tremendous, I think.

Everything has a purpose. I just have to focus on doing what's right. (And of course keep the focus on the Big Guy) Everything else will fall into place.


I put more emphasis on this because, for me right now, this seems to be more of a kicker. Not that it's more important...just that God is there at any time, for any reason, and can always love in the right way... He can't mess up. He never changes. People change. People are different. And weird. But beautiful! But weird.

It's so easy to be friends/maintain a relationship when we're always around each other and having a good time. But then there's distance. Then there's a fight/disagreement. Oh no! The world is ending!

That's how it seems sometimes. But WHY?? I mean, if you really love someone and act on what you believe is best for them, it should just easily follow and work right... right?

But then there's not speaking the same love language, not bearing burdens the same way, working things out differently, yada yada. Sometimes we want so badly to do something wonderful to help the other, but it can't be received the way we want because of how the other functions. And that really hurts sometimes. BUT IT'S OK. That doesn't demean what we've done in the least! The success of love is in the loving, right? It's natural in love to want what's best for the other person, but at the end of the day, it's all about the  fact that we love them. It can be frustrating when our efforts aren't as fruitful as we'd like to see, but they still bear fruit!

...ah, life.

I know that I'm far from being where I need to be... I don't have all the answers, and I never will. As much as I get frustrated with life and how complicated it can seem, I know it mostly comes down to my own limitations. I need to have more peace of heart. I need to own my own gifts. I need to love more strongly and more consistently. I need to seek beauty. I need to recognize beauty. I need to translate for those who don't see it. I need to smile more often. I need to recognize it's also ok to cry, be frustrated and what have you- emotions are part of being human. That being said, I also need to not run away with them, as I feel I am mostly a big ball of emotion. I need to forgive more, including forgiving myself. I need to trust my instincts and my upbringing.

I need so many things. But I also know that I'm given everything I need to meet those needs. Because, go figure, God wants us to be happy...not to think "this ain't all it's cracked up to be." (I'm listening to some Carolina Liar, hence the title... fit the mood/post though). If we ever get to a point where we're recognizing that something in our lives isn't what it's meant to be though... something's gotta change, be it our perspective, where we are laying our trust, or where we're seeking happiness. If it's not in the Good, it's gotta go, right?

In other news: I pray your day is filled with joy and beauty, and that your heart may be turned in such a way that you can perceive it.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Write you a letter, but it's better that you hear me

Happy Thanksgiving!

Yeah, this is one of those slightly cheesy Thanksgiving what? You know I'm going to ramble a bit before I get to the really cheesy stuff, so I think it's a fair trade off?

I just wanted to take this opportunity to say: thank you.

God knows I'm a mess and a half... I wouldn't be anywhere close to functioning if it weren't for the amazing family and friends I've been blessed with. Thank you.

This week has been a weird one. It's been one of those clearing through all of the crap in the basement/attic and choking on the dust kind of weeks. For a normal human being, that's obnoxious enough, but for an allergy-induced asthmatic such as myself, it's just a little bit more uncomfortable. (and yes, I'm still being figurative...just weird...go figure). But I think I'm starting to see more of the big picture... Maybe... and that's something that is very good for me.

Anywho...fall cleaning (I'm a little backwards, and I like fall better)...working through life... trying to figure it out...awkward and uncomfortable (as I often am)... I am spoiled and blessed. God's pretty good like that.

As always, through every trial, there remains a million little reminders that I am loved. (and if this mess of a lady is so well loved, you can bet that you are pretty darn loved as well. Because you are. So. Loved.)

I'm starting  to see that (believe it or not) I am making at least a minuscule difference in my workplace. (which is huge for me because most of the time I feel like I'm a million years behind where I need to be to do a good job.... I also put impossible standards on myself, knowing I can't meet them at this point, and get frustrated with myself when, go figure, I don't meet them. I'm kind of dumb sometimes....) I am blessed with some truly fantastic co-workers, and I am beyond grateful for them. I am proud of them. They have been doing so much to make our store work better, and they keep me sane... most of the time ;) I am uberly thankful for them.

I am also thankful for my roommate...roomie...roobie...oobie...oobs... we've gotten lazy and absurd. (no way!) She's a huge support for me, and she never yells at me when I know I'm being dumb. She's just there... like Samwise... and that's pretty neat. I am so thankful for her.

I am thankful for dear friends who randomly visit me at work or come to my apartment.  And for gatherings with cheesecake, tea, and cocoa. Last night, my oobie and I set up our tree while friends were visiting and making merriment. SO good for my little heart. (don't judge too harshly on the Christmas tree...Thanksgiving will be over before we fully enjoy it. We're just eagerly anticipating the Christmas season! And putting some extra beauty in our apartment. everybody needs extra beauty in their lives, yeah? Well, we decided we did.) Anywho, I am thankful for my lovely friends and the merriment they provide.

Think I forgot my family? HECK NO! Because without them I wouldn't be here in the first place. They are my support, my stronghold, my sanity, and my joy. I love my family. Family is just about the most important thing in the world. I love mine. Love them, love them, love them. And I'm so happy to be able to spend today with mine! We're going to chow down on turkey and taters, and all will be right with the world. SO thankful for them.

I am also thankful for my faith, which, admittedly, I take for granted sometimes. I realize it's one of the things that truly keeps me grounded. If not for my faith and all that I've been taught, I dont' know where I'd be. It makes life make sense. So... yeah... thanks for that, God. Thanks for you too, God. I mean, you're pretty neat.. and the source of everything good that I have... that's pretty amazing.

I am wonderfully blessed. Even indirectly. I am so thankful for the soldiers fighting for our country. I am thankful for those serving/taking care of our sick and injured. I am thankful for those who educate our youth (I feel like that makes me sound old, but my baby brother is 8... and also the 'youth' are our future... we need to make sure we give them what they need to continue making a difference). I am thankful for priests and religious. I am thankful for awesome moms and dads. I am thankful for those in food service, for those in retail, and those who volunteer. I am thankful to artists.

I am thankful for YOU.

Because your existence makes this world that much better.

And that's something to be thankful for.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

They don't even know you...all they see is scars

My Sixx A.M. kick continues, but this time I'm pulling from their new(er) album. The last track is called "Skin," and I think it's beautiful (go figure).

"'Cause they don't even know you; all they see is scars. They don't see the angel living in your heart. Let them find the real you buried deep within. Let them know with all you've got that you are not your skin."

At first, all I could think of was the people I know who've harmed themselves. I have a friend who never *seriously* harmed herself, but obviously was crying for help... and she was yelled at... and rejected. "It's stupid and selfish to cut yourself. How did that help anything?" I visited her in the hospital and I wasn't sure what to do for her. She knew cutting herself wouldn't change the situation. All she knew was that she *hurt* and she couldn't pinpoint where... so she gave the pain an outlet... a location. 

She got the help she needed, but she still struggles with the faint scars lefts behind. Now she's labeled a "cutter," even though she hasn't harmed herself since her stay in the hospital. All people see are the scars.

This song brought me back to that, and again, all I can think about are our broken. Why is it so much easier to see scars on another and automatically think of the worst of them? Why is it that scars incite fear or negativity and harsh judgement? Why don't they incite *compassion*??? Yes, they represent a terrible action, but behind that action is *pain*. Behind that action is suffering, and illness. Yes, it takes an illness to do such a harm to oneself, but those afflicted are treated as lepers. It agitates me.

When we see friends suffering from some physical ailment, we direct them to a doctor or remedies we've tried to cure it. Why is it harder to do the same if we notice a friend is ailing mentally/emotionally? Is it because we know less about what to do, or that seeking help indicates some sort of "weakness?" What is it? 

Admittedly, I feel somewhat helpless when I know someone is suffering so much. I know that I don't have the capacity within myself to "save" them, but I just pray that whatever love I can give is translated in such a way that it does some good. I can never pretend that I have the answers because I don't. But sometimes it's enough to listen. How often do we even do that? How often do we get irritated listening to someone list their woes because it means nothing to us? What if those woes are crippling that person and they just need an outlet? What if it took all the courage they had to tell you about them?

Just because a person is suffering from depression doesn't mean s/he's weak. They're just *hurt* I think the only weaknesses that exist are sins. Depression isn't a sin. I'm going to stick to that. People will say that depression is selfish, just like self-harm, and suicide. It's not ok, but it's not a sin. It was once the case that those who committed suicide could not have a Christian burial because of the sin of taking a life, but we've realized that one canNOT  be fully be in the correct mindset if they're at such a point. I don't think it's so much that someone suffering from such an affliction can't think of others. There are plenty of people suffering from depression who dearly love their friends and family, and would do anything for them. But that doesn't mean they can just "shake off" the depression. I'd say it's like breaking your wrist and still trying to use it every day- it's painful to the point of distraction. You keep coming back to it.

I feel like all I've been able to talk about is depression, pain, and brokenness, but I guess I'm just tired of (seemingly) no one else caring. I'm surrounded by broken people who I love, and I want them to know they're loved. All advertising is spent anti-depressants. Medication isn't always the answer! As a society, we're so set on band-aids to cover the issue instead of TREATING it. Gah.  

Anyway... A person is more than her scars (or his scars). When we reduce a person to ANY particular point, we lose who s/he essentially is. And that's heartbreaking enough as it is. We're made to be seen... to be known... and to be loved. Even all the broken pieces. It's generally where we find the most incredible and beautiful strengths, anyway. And God knows we're in need of more of that. 

Next time, look for the soul as well as the skin. The skin tells a story, but only a small part, and we don't want to miss out on the person telling that story.

Paint yourself a picture
Of what you wish you looked like
Maybe then they just might
Feel an ounce of your pain

Come into focus
Step out of the shadows
It's a losing battle
There's no need to be ashamed

Cause they don't even know you
All they see is scars
They don't see the angel
Living in your heart

Let them find the real you
Buried deep within
Let them know with all you've got
That you are not your skin

Oh [X2]

When they start to judge you
Show them your true colors
And do onto others
As you'd have done to you

Just rise above this
Kill them with your kindness
Ignorance is blindness
They're the ones that stand to lose

'Cause they don't even know you
All they see is scars
They don't see the angel
Living in your heart

Let them find the real you
Buried deep within
Let them know with all you got
That you are not your skin


Well they don't even know you
All they see is scars
They don't see the angel
Living in your heart

Let them find the real you
Buried deep within
Let them know with all you've got
That you are not
That you are not your skin

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Fragile doesn't even come close to describing how I feel

So, I've been on a Sixx A.M. kick lately. The Heroin Diaries album has been playing almost nonstop when I'm on my computer (This is Gonna Hurt has gotten some play time too, but I've been sticking mainly to Heroin Diaries). The music is definitely not for everyone, nor the content. However, I am genuinely moved by all of it. The album goes through Nikki Sixx's addiction to heroin, his overdose, and his recovery. His honesty about the pitfalls and the pain is so beautiful to me.

Perhaps that sounds cruel... I don't mean it to be. I am not happy that he went through all he did, but I think it's admirable that he was able to get through, even though he relapsed, and that through his experiences, he was able to being something beautiful from his pain... and that it has been a benefit to others.

In the song "Girl With Golden Eyes," he chronicles a ten day period of rehab. "Day 4: last visit to the clinic.My whole body feels like it's cracking into pieces. Fragile doesn't even come close to describing how I feel."

It gets me. Every. Time.

I know people who have and do struggle with addiction.  I know people who have and do struggle with depression. It can seem, outside of the situation that the pain can't possibly be so great, that getting better is merely a choice that can easily be made. But "getting better" isn't a choice. It's a series of choices. Or maybe it's the same choice that has to be made over and over again. In any case, it isn't easy.

"All you have to do is quit." "All you have to do is find a reason to smile every day." etc. How do you know that's "all" it takes? How do I know that?

I read a quote lately that got to me. It was something along the lines of, "Never compare yourself to someone else. You have no idea what their journey is about." And you know what? It's true. I will never fully understand the depth of what you've been through. You and I could be experiencing almost identical circumstances, but because of your past and mine, how we handle/bear it will be at a completely different level. And that's ok. Something I struggle to carry may be lighter than air for you, while something that weighs you down may be an easy weight for me. You never know. I never know.

Sometimes I need to remind myself of that. Ok, maybe more than sometimes. It can be easy for me to get caught up in all the little things... so much so that I can forget to make the effort to be kind anyway. Arg. It's frustrating for me. It's not as though anyone has to "earn" my kindness- that should be something I offer regardless. Mother Teresa said not to let anyone come to you without leaving better for it. I know I have failed in that regard. Many times. But when I remind myself that everyone is fighting their own battle, it gets a little bit easier.

Kindness is more necessary than I think we realize. On a daily basis, you probably encounter someone who is fragile to the point of breaking, hurt so badly they're almost numb. Seriously. Daily basis. People you wouldn't expect...because they won't let everyone/anyone see their journey. It breaks my heart. But it's not enough to be hurt by it... I have to love them as best as I can. That's why I don;t think I can ever smile too often or wear out the words, "I love you." Whether or not they believe it that instant, maybe hearing it often enough will get through even the smallest bit. Even when we feel our efforts go unnoticed... it doesn't matter. If it were only for us, it would. But a kindness for our own gratification isn't really kindness. Love, no matter what the result of it may be, is still love.

And that is success enough.

And in the times it seems pointless: you know what pain is like as well. Whether you've ever been broken (seemingly) irrevocably or just plain *hurt*, you know what pain is. And you know how necessary love is when all seems lost.

In the end, it comes down to love. It always does.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Inhale this moment deep into my lungs

Today is a beautiful fall day. I love fall. I think it's the most beautiful season. The colors change, the weather shifts to necessitate warmer, comfy clothing, and it's just peaceful.

I've been sitting in my apartment with the windows to the living room open (even though it makes it super chilly- that's what my cup of Earl Grey (best tea ever, btw) and hoodie are for), to enjoy the rain while I simultaneously blast some Sixx A.M., and paint. I am not particularly artistic, but it's so cathartic. It's one of my joys. So I paint.

Anyway, this is one of those times I can just breathe in, breathe out, and just enjoy the moment. So. Good.

Truthfully, I've been a little cranky lately. (me, cranky? Never... I mean... yeah...) I've been burnt out and without a lot of patience. I've been extremely agitated. And even though I just feel like a brat throughout it, God continues to spoil me. Or maybe He just knew this weak kid needed a break for her sanity.  In any case, I'm feeling much more at peace than I have. I can't say that it's going to last- God knows maintaining peace of heart is one of my struggles, but hopefully it'll be enough to restore my pitiful patience tank at least a bit ;)

Enjoy the day. Find a little beauty in it. Breathe in deep.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

I wish the best of everything for you, I hope you know that honestly I do.

To all the people whose presence my life has been blessed by, past or present,

Thank you.

Whether or not we even speak anymore, you have helped me get to this point in my life. While some days I don't consider it an entirely enviable position, I can say without a doubt I have grown wiser if nothing else.
Thank you for everything you've taught me.
Thank you for the smiles we've shared. (Thank you for any hugs, too).
Thank you for the support you've given me.
Thank you for encouraging me.
Thank you for inspiring me.
Thank you for moments you've seen me when I couldn't see myself.
Thank you for the advice you've given me.
Thank you for believing in me.
Thank you for challenging me.
Thank you even for hurting me. I've learned and grown just as much through any struggles as the beauty and joys.

My heart overflows, to the point it feels a dam is bursting when I realize how blessed I am.

I am sorry for the times I have failed you, but I hope in earnest that each time has turned into a blessing and given you something you need.

I know I'm a bit of a mess, and I fail every day, but with whatever good is within me, I am reminded of how beautifully I am blessed.

Whether our paths cross today or never, thank you. I am grateful for you, and I wish nothing but the very best for you. I hope you find happiness in your every day, that you find your dreams, and that you pursue what is good with everything you have, even when it feels like you have nothing. You are beautiful and worth the world.

Thank you.