Pain, Perception, Forgiveness

This morning during my quiet time I had a chance to reflect on Pain, Perception and Forgiveness.

I was brought back to a time in my life when something I said was taken out of context and someone I loved was hurt.

After that person shared with me that what I said caused them pain (which by the way took a great amount of courage to put their vulnerability out there) I got angry.

I was furious with them because what I said was not mean, never meant to be taken as mean spirited and was totally exaggerated on their part.

Their perception was clearly off by a mile.

But what I realized later was that my anger was a byproduct of embarrassment. I felt some shame for having harmed the spirit of someone I cared about whether it was intentional on my part or not.

Perception is truth.

I perceived that was I spoke was harmless.

Their perception was different and they were offended.

I stopped….In my emotional tracks and listened to my heart.

What now?

I hurt someone I loved and the only thing I could do was ask for their forgiveness.

It didn’t matter who was right or wrong.

What mattered was that I hurt another human being.

And today I know, at my core, if I ever again speak a word or flash a look that brings harm to another person’s spirit, I will again ask for their forgiveness.

For it is in asking for forgiveness relationships are restored and the hearts are mended.

 

 

 

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Willingness

Willingness

As I sat in a service club meeting early on Tuesday morning at the local Panera bread, I began to hear that all too familiar voice chanting in my head. Oh no, not again and certainly not now I thought. I’m really trying to pay attention to what’s happening at this meeting. Decisions that need to be made for our local Kiwanis club and the dialogue being exchanged between board members.

I don’t have time for this.

But the voice continued.

I know this  voice. It’s a voice I have come to appreciate and trust but sometimes the timing is truly inconvenient. It is the voice of the Holy Spirit speaking on God’s behalf.

Today was not a good day, I was super busy and had a full plate for the remainder of the day.

But the voice was persistent.

“Buy Gayle a loaf of bread.” the soft voice whispered.

“What? God I’m really busy right now.”  I said in my head.

“Buy Gayle a loaf of bread,” He persisted.

“You want me to buy Gayle a loaf of bread and do what with it? Hang it on her door knob in a Mary Kay bag with a sympathy card from Vons? “Yes” was God’s response.

Gayle was a good customer of mine and have become a dear friend. She had called a couple months earlier to ask me to come by and meet her dad who had recently moved in with her and her husband so she could care for him during his final weeks of life.

Her daddy was suffering from cancer.

I was honored to be invited and went by early one morning to say hello. He was a kind and gentle man and I was grateful to have had the opportunity to know him, even if only for a few minutes. It wasn’t too long after I met him that she called again to share her sadness about his passing and three days later I sat in Panera bread and got the inner memo to buy the bread and leave it at her doorstep.

You can only imagine how I argued with God on this. What would she think of me? I knew Gayle would definitely believe I had lost my mind and I was dreadfully afraid of making a fool of myself.

After all I was a professional beauty consultant not a crazy woman.

After nearly 30 minutes of a quiet and hidden dialogue I acquiesced,  swallowed my fear and stopped by the counter on my way out to buy some sesame bread. I ran across the parking lot to Von’s to pick up a sympathy card and headed toward Gayle’s house.

I breathed a sigh of relief when I realized she wasn’t home. So I left the package on the door and left as quickly as I could.

It was only just a few short days later that I got a phone call from my friend telling me how grateful she was that I had dropped the bread  off at her home. She told me her friends had brought dinner for that night but no one brought the bread and so she and her family were able to share bread over the passing of her dad.

What a gift for all of us. Not only did I hear the voice of the Holy Spirit but I was willing to do what was asked of me. I was given a chance to listen and then make a choice to follow the prompting of God.

I realized at that moment that every day I wake up I am given the opportunity to be used by God in the quietest of ways. I am called upon each day to act on God’s behalf and do it joyfully.

But before anything happens I must choose to be willing, no matter what. On that day I almost let the gift pass me by because of my stubborn ego.

My prayer today is that I will hear, obey and be thankful to be chosen to do God’s work especially in the simple ways. And in doing so my life and the lives of others will be enriched and God will be glorified.

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This Place of Gray:

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Where do you go when you slip into that shadowy place of gray where you don’t feel love, supported or accepted?

I can’t say it’s pitch black here because I know there is light. And I understand that this feeling is only a momentary and passing sensation of loneliness which is being manifested in my mind.
My heart knows better because God lives in my soul and I trust in His divine love and care. But there are just times when I peer at the world through lenses of my thoughts which always create distortion to a certain degree. The all or nothing. It’s perfect or awful. It’s good or bad. It’s black or white.

I know that this is a lie I can fall into believing when I have lost my connection with God. It’s the place of fear that I move into so easily without even knowing I’m going there. It’s the all too familiar which I truly despise but I go there anyway and then find myself crying out for God’s help when I feel lost……Again!

I can’t fix a feeling not will I judge it. A feeling isn’t right or wrong. It just Is. So I accept it for what it is, a feeling that will pass and quicker if I stop fighting it while letting it sit with me during a moment of quiet to pass over me when it’s ready.

Lets hope it’s soon as I replace it with gratitude for having the ability and awareness to recognize where I am and be okay with the constant evolving journey to peace.

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Suffering vs. Misery

photo 2Suffering vs. Misery

Is there a difference between suffering and misery? I believe there is.

Suffering is part of being human.

It can be the byproduct of an illness, accident or handicap that we never asked for but have been burdened to live with.

It can also come as the result of consequences due to my poor choices or the choices of someone else.

Coming from an abusive childhood I suffered physical, emotional and psychological violence and although I never intended to be harmed by my parents, I was. I was traumatized because of their behaviors. I don’t believe they did what they did because they didn’t love me but rather because it was all they knew. No one can give what they never received and hurt people hurt people. So I grew up and began to re-create my own drama with my children the same way my parents did with me. And those choices caused my kids to suffer. It is a vicious cycle and will continue to repeat until someone has the courage to find a new way and create a different and healthier path. Suffering comes because we live out the human condition in an imperfect world. I believe misery comes from allowing the choices I made in the past or the choices of others to continue to permeate my well-being. And when I repeat the mantra that what I have lived through or what I’m living with now is not fair then my misery is perpetuated by my need to be victimized regularly by the world I live in.

I was victimized. There is no denying that. It’s what I was taught and it’s what I know.

But somewhere along the way it becomes my responsibility to stand up against those who have harmed me either verbally and/or physically and scream, ” Stop it. That’s enough.”

And there are times when I just have to tell the chatter box in my head to shut up every time it wants to feed me daily lies about the unfairness of life.

It is then that I can begin the process of stepping out of my misery, deal with my moments or times of suffering and move on.

Only when I will allow myself to understand the sick cycle of abuse and crazy thinking, the acceptance of unacceptable behavior, the damage done by continued shaming and the tremendous need to stay in the pain of familiar will I be able to find my courage, raise my voice, and stop the pain. Being human is something I embrace, knowing that there will always be threads of heart ache woven into my life journey. But misery? I can let that go whatever I make the choice to end my own victimization.

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Oh no. Here comes my Shame. AGAIN

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How often do we, without knowing, either say something that triggers another’s shame or have someone do the same to us?

Do you even know what a shame trigger is and how to recognize when it has been detonated?
Shame has been described as the concept of “rather than what I have done is bad but who I AM is BAD.”

My shame was a quiet ache that lurked in my soul and was covered up with my hunger for sugar, approval from others and my quest for perfectionism. It was a monster looking to be fed and I fed it every day.

I compared my insides with your outsides because I believed that was just my way of wanting to become a better person. And then I judged myself relentlessly when I didn’t measure up.

I struggled to do everything right because why do anything at all if you’re not going to do it right?
I walked on eggshells around angry people because I thought that being a peacemaker was what I was called to do.

And I never really looked at my family of origin because, in my eyes, they were almost perfect and I loved them. Besides why look for anything derogatory when there is so much good to see?

What I discovered was these behaviors were all triggered by my secret Shame.

I questioned myself daily about the choices I made because I lacked confidence. I may have looked like I had things under control, but if you opened up my soul you would’ve seen terror and fear carved over every inch.
I compared myself to you because, in my mind, I was never enough. You were always so far ahead of me, earning more prizes, getting more recognition and achieving more success. And I was always sucking your wind. It was a dreadful place to be, but I was familiar with that spot of always trying to measure up.

And what if I made a mistake? What if you asked something of me and I didn’t do it? Would I be honest and admit it? Most likely not. I would make something up and lie to you about how I had tried when I had really made no effort at all. What if I did what you asked and failed miserably ? How could I be open and honest and just tell you? Because of the shame I carried believing I was defective. There must be something wrong with me if I couldn’t do, with complete success, what I have been instructed to do.
I would simply tuck my shame between my heart and soul and run away.

Being the family hero and peacemaker was a shield I wore with pride. I would make it all better. I would rush to your aid and fix your pain. I would smooth over anyone’s anger and keep everyone safe. That was simply because I had swallowed my voice for so long that there were no words left to scream out my rage for having been harmed and abused by others.
The thought of speaking my truth horrified me and I suffered in silence as I continued to stifle my wrath. Shame stole away my ability to speak up and defend myself.

I am the product of my childhood. The beliefs I was taught, the lies I was told, the dysfunctional system I tried so hard to believe was honorable and true. The behavior that was modeled for me.

Until today….
Today my journey has begun to open my eyes to truths I never thought I would embrace much less understand.

The shame I carried was never mine in the first place. It belonged to my parents, and their parents and those who raised them. It was passed down from generation to generation and to my sadness and sorrow, I passed it on to my children.
It’s what we do. Hurt people hurt people.

I no longer have to accept anyone else’s truth as my own. I can begin the process to think for myself. I can start opening my mouth and speak up. I can come together with others and recognize that we all deserve to live a life free from judgment, ours and others. It’s okay to stop affirming our own lies.

The time is come to breathe in courage and let go of the bitterness, resentment and anger that has distorted our lives and how we see our world.

We were born enough. We are enough and no matter what happens along the way, we will always be ENOUGH!

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Financial Security vs. Financial Serenity

Financial security vs. financial serenity
I am not sure I will ever reach the place where I could be financially secure in a world that revolves around money and power.
Besides, how much is enough?
When will I feel safe enough to let go and trust God? After I have won the Lotto or inherited a boatload of money from a dying relative?
Will I ever be comfortable spending what I have socked away for a rainy day when it is really needed?
I have spent much of my life living with a mentality of “Not enough,” not because I accept that at my core as truth, but because that idea was so ingrained into my psyche from childhood that the belief just lives there.
So now my struggle is to let go of the fear that creeps in whenever I am taking time away to visit family and friends. To stop the cycle of quietly counting every dime I am spending as I nourish the love relationships I have through sharing time together. To cease the mental chatter that feeds my mind of the fear of losing everything I have worked so hard for if I take too much time to play and have fun.
Why have I spent my entire life working if all I can do is scare myself to death for taking the earned money to enjoy the life I have now?
Thus the idea of financial serenity.
I don’t need a lot of money to be financial serene if I have a trust relationship with God.
If each day I can focus on the NOW, I will be more prepared to live life one day at a time. I will start believing that my needs will be met and then slowly and cautiously I can begin taking baby steps towards letting go of my need to voraciously work to put more money in the bank for tomorrow.
When I operate from the place of lack I am at risk of losing relationships in the moment. When I refuse to let go of my control by offering up to God my fears of the future, I live in scarcity and sorrow.
There is no tomorrow. I get that, and yet I find myself trying to stock pile for a day, a week or a month from now, almost like I am demanding that God give more than I need so I can breathe more easily.
Will I ever live with God’s ease, balance and grace as I learn to respectively use what God has blessed me with? Can I give myself the freedom to enjoy the company of those I love over a shared meal, or a weekend away from the phones and hectic schedule of everyday life or simply paying for coffee for a stranger in need?
I am talking about trusting the fact I have been cared for my entire life. I have never gone without a place to lay my head at night after a difficult day, or a meal to fill my belly when the hunger monster starts to roar or a job that allows me the space and freedom to do what I love.
Has there always been everything I need right when I needed it? Absolutely.
Has it been enough? As a woman who chooses to believe in God I can say yes, but as a human who gets pulled into a world of “You must have more, better and bigger to survive,” that answer is no.
So now what? Who do I want to be and how do I want to live?
Today I will seek the will of God in everything I do. I will quiet my mind and listen for the small voice that gives me direction. I will be grateful to have the ability to do the next indicated step even if all that means is doing the dishes. I will take the action necessary to build a relationship with God based on “Thank you” instead of “Give me.”
And most importantly I will surrender my bank account to the God who has always managed to make sure there is something there for a rainy day.

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Living a Love Letter

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Living a love letter:

In my experience it has always been easier to write a Love Letter than to live it.

Putting down those words to a new spouse that promise to love and cherish, in sickness and in health, till death do us part. Or those special words said to a parent or sibling that say, ” I will support you no matter what because I love you.”

Writing the words “I love You” look very different when we are being asked t0 live them and not just say them.

Sitting down at my desk, looking out beyond the smudged windows into my newly planted yard I am reminded of all those sweet letters I penned to lovers long gone. Words that I was so desperate to convey that would make sure that this one would never leave me, walk away or abandon the woman I was trying so hard to become.

Clinging to these men like they were my life preservers who would keep me afloat of my strangling fears that whispered the lies of “You’re not good enough. He’s going to leave you. They all do.”

I promised myself to do whatever it took to ensure I would never be left alone and in the end, I was left alone anyway. Buying gifts to guarantee these men who would feel enough guilt to stay even when they wanted to run.

I took hostages, captives in my emotional nightmare with locks on every door and bars on every window. There was no hope for escape for those I pledged to love for I never had a clue as to what love looked like or for that matter, what it truly meant. All I knew was that at the core of my being there lived a deeply rooted monster called “Fear of abandonment” and I would do whatever was necessary to protect myself from letting anyone leave my prison.

It was not pretty and I was not brave.

It has taken years to untangle the weeds embedded in the garden of deception that I was planted in long ago. It has been many days of understanding what was a weed and what was a flower so I didn’t just dig up everything, throw it all away and start over.

There were lessons in my flower bed of life and I chose to become willing to search for the buds yet to bloom and make room for the new and fragile growth wanting to birth forth in springtime.

The journey has not been an easy one, but I have been guided by a God who loves me and wants so much more for me than my human understanding can fathom.

As I look back now I feel such a deep sense of sadness at how my pain played out with those I so wanted to care for.

Today I have lived enough life experiences to know that love is real and that showing it is far different than I was taught when I was a child.

I know that love is the only thing that will allow me to fully accept you right where you are without judgment. Love is honoring of your choices whether they include loving me in return or walking away. Love casts out all fear and makes room for trust and honesty. Love gives space to one another’s ideas and opinions with no fear of being shamed or ridiculed. Love asks me to give you respect when making decisions to care for your own personal needs whether I understand or not. Love is choosing kindness over aggression, consideration over condemnation, charity over selfishness.

Love can only begin inside when I feel cherished and cared for by more than another human being. I must feel loved by God first, and then by myself before I can give openly and genuinely to you.

Love is who I want to be and how I want to live from this day forward.

 

With love,
Susan
http://www.susangoodson.com

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