Thursday, January 30, 2014

Forgive Yourself

Today, we're going to take a step forward, you and I.

I've written often about forgiveness over the past few years...  how to extend it, how to find the strength to do so, how to jump over your hurts to feel it. But there's one place that, more than anything, I struggle with forgiveness.  Forgiving myself.

No one can punish me better than I can. No one can draw it out longer. No one can berate right where it hurts in quite the way that I can... and do.

There are moments where I said things that I shouldn't have... things that hurt others.  Those moments when I didn't hang onto my tongue before it went flying. There are decisions I made... sometimes just plain bad ones, but sometimes choosing one of two evils cost me friendships.  And those I can replay over and over and over. The other options were just as bad... but maybe if I had chosen them...

It's not merely going over the what-ifs... it's repeating the belief that, because I didn't choose one thing, then I am bad. I recently had an interchange with my daughter who was telling me that she thought an old music idol was bad because of some choices he made.  I told her that making bad choices doesn't make a person bad, it just means they made some unwise choices -- but it doesn't make them a bad person. And if we can have that sort of understanding about others, then why is it so hard for us to have the same understanding for ourselves?

Am I the only one who struggles with this? If you do too, I want you to take my hand today.  Today, we're going to take a step on the road to self-forgiveness.  I don't know what it is you did. I don't know the choice you made, and I don't need to know unless you want to tell me. But today, I'm telling you and I'm telling me that choosing what we did doesn't make us bad people. You made a choice, whether out of pure intent or selfishness, I don't know.  But you made it. I made it. And it went wrong.

But you have a good soul. And because you do, that choice has eaten away at you. It's made you question so many things about yourself, about your very worth. And that doubt you feel... that doubt is all lies.

So today, we're going to stand together and we're going to take a step toward forgiving ourselves for being human and for being less than perfect. And for making a choice.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Just because they hurt you once...

My head says, "Be wary. They have hurt you before, and if you aren't careful, they will hurt you again. Don't give in. Don't trust. Be on your guard."

Even my heart says, "They hurt us. Hiding will make it not happen again. Don't ever open yourself up."

But, there's a single voice that lies somewhere within me... I don't even know where I would tell you that it lives. But it doesn't tell me to be wary. It doesn't tell me to hide. It doesn't tell me to keep people at arm's length. Instead, it says "Just because they hurt you once, it doesn't mean that they will hurt you again. Be open. Be trusting. Let people in."

Everything that looks like wisdom seems to say the opposite.  That it's wise to be careful, that it's wise to be wary. But I find wisdom in that still, small voice, too. Truthfully, most people probably haven't hurt us with the intent to hurt us.

Hurt comes through busy and selfishness, through not stopping to think before we act... not stopping to think before we speak. And I think that most of us have found ourselves at some point... we find that we've hurt someone we care about because we got so busy going through our lives that we didn't stop to think how that affected people. So we've been hurt... and we've been the one to make the hurt, too.

But if we keep on going, keeping people at arm's length, being wary of what they could do to us... where does that leave us?

It seems that the only place is leaves us is alone.  And of all the places I could be, that's the one place I don't want to be.

And so, I'm listening to that small voice, and I'm trying to be open, and I'm trying to let people in. Even if it's a little scary.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A Mistake?

A mistake?  No, I wouldn't call us a mistake.

I walked into this with my eyes wide open. Didn't you? I mean, I knew there was a risk involved. I knew I was giving the keys to my heart away. I knew I was giving you power that you might yield. I guess I just didn't think you'd yield it in quite the way that you have.

But, I wouldn't call it a mistake. It's not something I regret.

How could I? I put my trust in you. And I willingly put my heart in your hands. I let go of the fear of what might happen, and instead embraced what could happen. I can't regret that. Opening myself up to the possible was amazing. Letting go of my fears was amazing. And even if you couldn't see what I gave you, the experience was amazing while it lasted.

That's not something to regret. That's not a mistake to mourn.

That was finally living.

I'm only sorry for you that you couldn't enjoy it, that you couldn't see it, that you couldn't appreciate it.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Little Cracks

A broken heart is what changes people. That's what I decided.

I used to think that you'd just grow up and change. Or that you'd decide to change and you'd be done. But now that I've had awhile to think about it, I don't think it works that way.  I don't think it works that way at all.

And it's not even necessarily the big broken hearts that does it... the big break-up, the giant dramas.  But it's the little breaks, cracks that get made in your heart over and over where your heart just sort of drains out of you over time. You wake up one day and you realize that everything's different. That you're different.

Like the flow from your heart changed you... the way a river changes a landscape over time. And maybe you're not sure whether to be sad or happy about that. Maybe, in the long run, those changes are good. Maybe they leave you less naive, maybe they leave you stronger.  And maybe, they're not so good. Maybe they took your trust away... your ability to trust in others, or worse, your ability to trust in yourself.

Maybe we have to break.  In order to change, in order to become... those cracks have to happen.

Maybe there's beauty in them.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Bigger Than the Storm

Into every life, a little rain must fall. Sometimes it’s a lot of rain. Sometimes it’s a storm.

And when the storm rages, it can feel oppressive and impossible to get through.  But, a storm is just a storm.

I’ve just walked through a tough season with my kids. They’re great. The kids are great.  But, they’ve had to walk through some hard things, and because I’m their mom, I’ve walked with them. One of the things I’ve found myself saying and repeating often is “We are bigger than this. This won’t beat us because we are bigger and stronger than this can ever be. We will win.”

As I’ve said it, I’ve felt it. I’ve believed it. We are bigger than the storm because the storm is just a storm. It’s fear. It’s worry. It’s the unknown. But we are bigger than all that.

And we can make it through the rain.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Things You Love

What are some things you enjoy?  I mean, really enjoy?

For me, it's listening to that song that makes me dance or that makes me cry, no matter what. It's reading a favorite book and sliding into the lives of my favorite characters.

It's that first sip of coffee. It's a hot bath.

It's the feel of the wind against my face when I run outside. It's a message from one of my best friends. It's going for breakfast with my sister.

It's time alone with my husband. It's daytrips with my daughters.

For starters, anyway.

But sometimes those things get pushed aside. They get buried in the errands and the mealplans and the lists of things to do. They get sidelined in order to fit in the doctor visits and the housecleaning and all the things that seem like they really need to get done.

Sometimes they get hidden because someone might think it's weird that we like that thing, and so the pleasure gets denied for fear of censure.

But, we can't do that. None of it. We must choose to do the things that we love doing -- just because we love doing them. Because I think it isn't the things that we think must get done that we'll be the happiest that we did... it's the things that we love doing. And so it's important to think about what those things are.  What things do you love? What things make you happy that you did them? Who are the people you are happy that you spent your time with? Be with them. Do the things with them.

Do them unapologetically. Enjoy them. Make time for them. And let the joy flow and fill you until you can't be filled anymore.

And then do them again.

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