The Post I Secretly Hope No One Notices

Fix It

In the five months this blog has been alive, I’ve had two goals. Inspire others to overcome everything that holds them back from living out who they are. And don’t make anyone mad.

Unfortunately, that’s not the way human nature works. We stay stagnant until someone is brave enough to slap us in the face and wake us up from our stupor.

So, here’s to making people mad. If it inspires even just one person, I’m ok with the rotten tomato brigade.

Today, I will stop trying to live by the popular Pinterest saying: “Be brave enough to tell your story, but polite enough not to tell the story of others.” Our lives as humans are so tightly twisted and mangled together, that that’s just simply impossible. You can’t tell a story of triumph without speaking of the darkness. But you can’t tell of the darkness without speaking of the person who caused it.

I’m on a journey to break through the darkness of a hostage identity. The one holding it hostage was my mother. She really messed me up.

“Yeah, well none of us had perfect parents,” you say. “At least you had a mom. At least she wasn’t a druggie prostitute living on the streets.”

Both of these statements are true, but there’s fallacy in the thinking.

If we’re honest, we don’t shrug our shoulders at our parents’ mistakes out of kindness, but out of fear. Fear of confrontation. Fear of drama. Fear of rejection. But mostly, fear of responsibility.

If we acknowledge their parenting failures, we’re forced to act upon that acknowledgement. We’re forced to confront the “messed up” parts of our life and fix them. We’re forced to take action to prevent making the same mistakes they made.

But here’s the rock solid truth: If you don’t stand up and acknowledge how your parents messed you up, no one else will. If you don’t fix what’s messed up, no one else will. Your parents cannot do that for you, no matter how many times they anguish, “I’m so sorry. Forgive me. I only did the best I could.”

So today, I’m taking my stand. I’m standing up on the wooden soap box in the park to say…

My mother made mistakes. These mistakes messed me up. It doesn’t matter if the mistakes were huge or small. What matters is I’ve spent the last 9 1/2 years trying to fix what’s messed up, and I’m not done yet. That’s huge.

I’m messed up because I spent every waking hour of my first 25 years of life doing exactly what she wanted, when she wanted, and how she wanted because it was my job to make her happy. It took me 9 years to even realize that this emotional control had polluted my thinking.

I’m messed up because my mom taught me that every.single.man had only one thing in mind: sex. And that they will take every opportunity to get it from any female body. She would stop our homeschool afternoon and drag us with her to my dad’s job site to make sure he wasn’t messing around. I struggle with trusting my husband a lot… I mean like beyond the normal trust things that come up in a marriage.

I’m messed up because my mom decided our family should join ATI. My dad went along with it to make her happy. She gave herself to following Bill Gothard and conservative family Christianity. She set up “standards” we had to follow so we could be Gothardy. I resisted, then fell for it, then resisted, then fell for it. Funny thing was, the only time I resisted was when I was away from my mother. The only time I began to fall for the legalism and strict authority focus was when I was home with my mom. Even in my 20’s, I submitted like a child to her rules and wishes, because Mr. G said that’s what a godly daughter does.

I’m messed up because my mom abused me physically and psychologically. She became the dictator, in the name of parenting. It’s made me so confused in my own parenting. I hate the concept of authority because of it. The recent realization that I am a teacher, and have no reason to even try to be a dictator, has been the most freeing thing to me as a parent. I’m so relieved. ‘Cause if being a mom means being a dictator, I can’t do it.

There’s many more ways I’m messed up, but that’s enough to get the point across.

woodcrates

I can’t just shrug my shoulders and excuse her with “she did the best she knew how” and “she was probably messed up by her parents too”. Excusing it doesn’t address the problem; it simply shrugs off responsibility.

Now don’t get me wrong. It’s not a blame game. I’m not throwing mud. I’m not lashing out. I’m just being honest and shouldering the responsibility to do something about it.

Now that I’ve realized it, stated it, and believe it, I have the power to change it. I see where I’m messed up. I realize why. Now, I can take the action to fix what’s broken and do my darnedest to mess up my kids a little less than the previous generation.

So stand up on your soap box. Admit how your parents messed you up, so you can fix it.

 

*photo credit

Just Let ‘Em Be Them

TotallyEthanToday, Grace for Moms is sharing a post I wrote on letting our children just be themselves. It starts with a story I told my daughter…

…I watched the wheels turn in my daughter’s head. “But now you’re your own person, and you can wear make-up if you want,” she stated emphatically.

Her words hit me like a slap in the face. She caught on to an underlying theme of my childhood. I was not allowed to be my own person.

And it made me question. . .In all my striving to find myself, do I allow my children to be themselves?

Be sure to catch the rest over at Grace for Moms. And check out a few other posts too. Many of the posts there have given me the chance to ponder life and how true grace is intertwined within it. A few of my favorite posts are:

Redeeming Negative Life Events by Donald Miller

Since Becoming a Mom, I’ve Lost Myself by Kristy Chowning

Grace, More Than a Word by Christa Ashworth

 

A Letter to my Pastor

writingDear Pastor,

Five years ago our little family was in need of direction and healing. God lead us to you and to the church family you shepherd. You probably don’t know that the words God spoke through you and the circumstances (both good and bad) that were taking place within the church were like stiches sewing together the rips in our hearts and in our marriage.

Your words and your leadership added water and sunlight to the seed of faith within us… the faith that God truly is 100% sovereign in all things… ALL things… even when it doesn’t make sense. The faith that God is not a list of rules and do’s and don’t’s that’s thrown for a loop when we mess up… but rather a God who is in control of all things and who works all things for good and for His glory.

Yes, it’s been five years. The rips are healed… though there’s still some light scars. The seeds of faith have sprouted and began reaching high toward the heavens.

And yet, I’ve never said much more than “hi” to you. You don’t see our family at Sunday school early every Sunday morning. You don’t see us on Wednesdays and Sunday nights. In fact, we’re probably present only about 70% of the time on Sunday mornings.

Why? Why are we ghosts flittering in the doors barely seen and back out again before anyone notices? Short answer… I don’t know exactly.

Long answer… it could be any of these or all of them…

I can’t speak for my husband, but me… I’m scared. Scared of committing myself to a thing… a church… a group of people… a leader. I’ve seen the danger of cult like religion. I’ve seen people who love Jesus place their hearts in the hands of the leader. I’ve seen these people lose their love for Jesus as their hearts turn to stone. They faithfully follow the standards of their group’s leader and judge those who do not. They religiously read their Bible. They claim to have revelations from God, but they are conclusions of their own. I’ve seen these people, and I’ve been one of them.

I love God with my whole being. I’ve sought Him like a crazy person these last five years. And what I’ve found has taken my breath away. I’m scared that by committing to the church… to faithful attendance… to participation in Bible studies… to fellowship with other believers… I may lose this personal thing I have going on with the God of my soul.

Then there’s the fear of people… the fear that I will be found guilty of something… I’ve no idea what. I may be judged. I’m more of a black tea person who likes to percolate the deep concepts of life. Small talk… getting to know you talk… it’s hard. I stumble over my own words. It’s like I can give an entire speech on the incredible sovereignty and grace of God in the workings of life, but I can hardly manage to ask a genuine “how are you?”. The friends I have managed to make at church tend to leave about the time we get past the up front hellos. I’m scared to lose another friend.

I also have this strange fear that any time I even smile at a man in church, I will be found guilty of flirtatious behavior. In the religious circle in which I spent all of my teen years and half of my twenties, speaking as a friend to the opposite gender was just not right. People were punished for it. In those so important years when normal people were learning how to appropriately interact with the other gender, I practiced the standards of looking the other way when a man or boy my age walked by. I did not smile. I did not speak. And when I did, I always felt guilty. How can I comfortably interact with my family through Christ with this weird fear and false guilt always at the front of my mind?

Then there’s just the plain old fear of commitment to anything other than my family. I get easily overwhelmed with life as a wife and mother. How could I possibly join another family and the commitments that go along with it? Could I really give? Do I even have anything worth giving?

It’s just easier to not to…. to not commit.

So in case you were wondering… there it is.

Sincerely,
The little lamb that slinkers past you on the way out the door

 

*photo credit

Muddled Trust

trustTrust. The word itself conjures up mixed emotions. We feel grateful for those we can trust through thick and thin. We feel anger and hurt when we think of those who’ve taken advantage of our trust. We feel proud for the positions in life that our own trustworthiness has bought us. And we feel guilt and sorrow for the relationship mistakes that have cost us trust. We all find ourselves at various levels of trust in each of our relationships.

I wish trust were easy. Like you either trust them or you don’t. You’re either trusted or you’re not. But it’s not that easy.

Somewhere in the middle of trust and no trust is the muddled up trust. The place where one day your heart is so full of trust and the next day it’s overflowing with doubt and suspicion. That place where you think you’ve finally won their trust only to realize they still accuse you of imagined offense.

And this muddled stage of trust rips at the heart. We want to trust; we really do. We humans are hard wired to live life based on trust. But it’s just that sometimes the defense mechanisms in our mind refuse to let our heart rest in trust. And the war of the mind is a tricky one. It’s hard to know which thoughts are the good guys and which are the bad guys.

We can’t keep the suspicions from popping up. And once they’re there, it’s like playing private investigator to determine whether it’s a suspicion to act upon or to reject. It’s the uncertainty that eats at the heart.

If the suspicion is true, you realize you’re once again naive and taken advantage of. You feel like an idiot. The pain goes deeper than it did the first time. You’re ready to curl up in a corner and cry your heart out while simultaneously forming a battle plan so the person can never hurt you again.

But if the suspicion is unfounded, you feel guilty. After all the hard work of the other person to gain back your trust, you pay them back with doubt. You stab them over and over again with the reminder of their offense.

Some relationships are distant enough that you can just leave it in this state and just not see the person anymore. Some relationships will just always be in the “I can never trust them” state. But sometimes it’s family. You see them day in and day out and you love them with all your being and you just want to trust them and be trusted.

And that’s where trust gets tough.

 

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Snatch Up the Nuggets

goldnuggetMoving on… As if we simply turn our back on it and walk away. And yet that’s impossible.

The hurts, the mistakes, the wrongs, the struggles… We strive to move on and get past them in an effort to keep them from defining who we are.

But what if we’re going about it all wrong? What if, instead of trying to forget it and erase it’s effects, we embrace it… the pain and the mistakes… the tragedies we face in life?

It’s in the midst of hardship that we find the sweetness of life. It’s then that we dig the deepest, search the hardest, and rejoice the loudest over the tiniest glimmer of hope. These are precious, precious things. It’s this digging, searching, and finding that chisels away the “un-us” to reveal more of our true selves.

This reminds me of something I heard once. I don’t remember who said it. Probably someone from my ATI days that I’d rather not quote, but it’s true, none the less.

“Good and bad run on parallel tracks, and they often arrive at the same time.”

I’m not talking about a Pollyanna theology here, where if you just find the silver lining, the sadness will just go away. I’m talking about letting the hurt sink in. Letting the struggle take its course. And finding the good in the midst of it.

I read an excellent article this week over at Grace for Moms that speaks of this very thing. Donald Miller shares a very practical way of digging for the good in the midst of tragedy. I highly recommend reading what he has to say about finding a redemptive perspective.

So, don’t try to run away. Don’t waste your time with the giant eraser. It doesn’t work anyway. Embrace the tragedy. Find the gold nugget buried inside and let it bring out the best of who you really are.

 

*photo credit

Wherein Lies Your Identity?

tornado

“Wherein lies your identity?” He asked, searching the depths of my soul.

“What do you mean, Lord?” I answered.

“Is your identity wrapped up in your possessions?”

“Of course not,” I assured Him. “They’re just things, and things do not define me.”

“What if I sent a tornado and leveled your house to the ground?”

I smile. “I wouldn’t mind too much, so long as we were all safe. We’d get a new house out of the deal.”

“Is your identity wrapped up in your role as a mother?” He challenged.

“No. I don’t think so.”

“What if your children died in that tornado?”

Tears threaten to spill from my eyes. “My heart would be torn, Lord, but I would still be all that I could be for You.”

“What if I took your husband from you? What then? What if your sorrow was too deep to bare?”

A tear hit my hand with a splash. I did not answer.

“What if, after the loss of your family, you were left with no home and no job? What if you had to stand on the corner of the street holding a cardboard sign? What then?”

He paused. I cried.

“Would you still put your identity in Me? Would you still seek to use the talents and skills I’ve given you? Would you still take pride in calling yourself a child of Mine?”

The tears poured down my face and my shoulders heaved. “I want to think that I would. But please, Lord, spare me from Job’s trials. Test me in smaller ways… in the day to day. Let me praise You and learn to be all that You’ve created me to be in the mundane ins and outs of the life you’ve given me today.”

“I was just asking,” He assured. “Remember, you are more than the gifts I’ve given you, and should they no longer be yours to hold, you will still be My child, equipped with the personality and the talents needed for whatever life you may find yourself in.”

 

*photo credit