Priceless Support

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On Tuesday, I had a rotten, rotten day at work.  It was everything all at once, as it always is, but it was mostly about behaviors.  Let’s just say I had a hard time keeping myself regulated and keeping children’s behaviors from upsetting me.

Okay, let’s just say I cried during the first 15 minutes of my planning time at the end of the day, while my kids were at art.  And I spent the next 20 minutes unsubscribing to junk emails, dinking on Facebook, and playing Angry Birds.  Not doing the things the fine taxpayers pay me to do.

And then I cried some more at home on Tuesday night.  And I cried while I was blow-drying my hair on Wednesday morning, because I JUST DIDN’T WANNA GO BACK.

And crying is so UNLIKE work-me.  Work-me is composed, and professional, and put together.  I hope.

(Home-me cries over books and movies and new babies and Dodge truck commercials, but let’s put home-me aside for the moment.)

But let me get to the GOOD part of the story…the COWORKERS.  I don’t know why it helps, but it does…

My next-door neighbor who gave me a hug and said, “I’m right next door, and I have a student teacher right now.  I can help.”  Oh, yeah.  I forgot.

The teacher who saw me in the hall on the way to art, and said, “Can I help in any way?”  I said, “No…I just need to get rid of them for today.”  And she said, “Okay,” and squeezed my arm.  Care and concern, in a 3-second interaction.

The SAM (assistant principal) who came into my room a few minutes later and sat and talked with me for awhile, told me “Sometimes you just need to get it out,” and brainstormed ideas to make tomorrow better.  Understanding.

The teacher who said she was feeling the same way, and I should come up and vent anytime.  Empathy.

The teacher who said, “Sometimes we just have to make whatever influence we can make, and then start again next year.”  Perspective.

The teacher who said, “Everyone is definitely feeling it this week.  We need to get together and relieve stress.  I’m thinking pinatas?”  Standing together in the face of stress.

The principal who said, “Teachers have the hardest job in the building.”  Making me feel seen and heard.

The teacher who said,  “Is it the paperwork or the kids getting to you?”  And totally understood both options.  And shared what is getting to her.  Togetherness.

 

The teacher who stepped into my doorway at 4:30, looked long and hard into my eyes, and did not say a word for a long moment.  I may have imagined it, but it doesn’t matter.  It felt like priceless support, the kind that goes beyond words and reaches true understanding.

 

I’m probably forgetting more wonderful comments, but I’m remembering more detail than usual…because I was raw and vulnerable and I needed every little ounce of support so badly that day.  I don’t know why it helps, knowing that someone knows that it’s hard.  Knowing that someone knows you’re miserable.  Knowing that someone wishes you weren’t.  Friends, thank you for your support.  It is priceless to me.

This day shall pass.  Whether I dance gracefully through it or burn it to the ground, tomorrow is a new day.  Even if tomorrow isn’t better, I can burn that one to the ground as well, and get another new day after that.

“What you had and what you lost / They’re all memories in the wind / Those days go by / And we all start again”

–“Days Go By” by The Offspring
photo credit: pushthisbutton via photopin cc

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Yes Woman

I am surprised to find out how long it is taking me to “recover” from being a full-time-teacher/full-time-graduate-student.  That was intense…and in the experience of it, I didn’t realize how much different my life was.

It’s important, I think, to know what gives you energy.  Everyone spends time both alone and with other people.  Some people get their energy from the alone time, others from interacting with others.  I am SUCH an extrovert.  I get energy from being around other people.  The more time I spend alone, the more discontent I feel.  Then the discontent becomes a sort of melancholy.  The melancholy makes me believe I need to be alone, to rest, to hide in a hole until I feel better.  But of course, hiding in my hole just adds to the melancholy.

I loved my graduate program.  LOVED it.  I am SUCH a different and better teacher for what I learned.  But it did take its toll on my personal life.  A lot of time was spent reading, writing, doing projects, organizing research, etc.  All of those things, except the occasional project, take place when one is alone.  Hours upon hours–valuable hours, to be sure–but all spent alone.

I learned to say no.  I didn’t play ultimate frisbee, one of my FAVORITE summertime things, for those two summers.  I said no to social events and opportunities.  And it’s true — when you keep saying no, people stop asking.

So now, I’ve spent several months saying YES!!!  In the movie Yes Man, Jim Carey’s character says yes to everything, believing that even if it seems bad it will lead to something good.  Being a “yes woman” is my default state, although certainly not as ridiculously exaggerated as the movie!  I love to go and do and talk and experience, and I hate missing out.  So now, once again, I always say yes if I can.

The good news is, once you start saying yes to opportunities, the opportunities themselves seem to multiply.  That melancholy, that feeling that I “need” down time, disappears.  I don’t really need down time.  When I’m going and doing and spending time with people, the magical energy source is refilled over and over again.

Seven Gorgeous Women

Seven gorgeous and beloved women, one fantastic weekend.

What I did NOT think when I looked at this picture:  “Ugh.  My hair is so icky.  You can see my fat.  My face is not the right shape for pretty.  And have you ever seen legs so blindingly white?  Six beautiful women and…me.  No wonder they are all so much farther along in life than me.”

That’s the usual train of thought.  But thanks to all the growing and mending that’s been going on in the past years and months, I didn’t think any of that when I looked at this picture.  In fact, I didn’t think any of that at all this past weekend.  I can honestly say this is probably the longest period of time in ten years that I’ve gone without thinking really ugly things about myself.  The ugliest things about me are not what you can see in the picture.  The ugliest things about me are the thoughts that happen when my gaze is turned toward self.

But not this time.  This time, I thought:  “Wow, I look happy!  We all look happy.  I had fun this weekend, I enjoyed my friends, and I think the friends enjoyed having me there.” 

The funny thing is, I don’t see it when my friends lose or gain weight.  I often don’t notice when they get their hair cut.  After I see them, I really don’t remember if they were wearing makeup or not.  My love for them does not change based upon anything I can see.  So why do I judge myself so harshly based upon what other people can see? 

I think many women…probably many people…struggle with some version of this battle.  It’s easier to love other people; it’s easier to take care of other people.  It’s easier to be nice to other people.  It’s harder to be nice to yourself, either with thoughts or with actions.  “Love your neighbor as you love yourself” is a tricky concept.  We either need to start treating our neighbors worse or ourselves better.  I vote for the latter.

Unloveable

{I love this book.  It makes me cry.  I can’t read it to my students.}

My friends Stacey and Ryan were married yesterday.  {Sidenote–My first purple bridesmaid dress!  You know how I love purple.  It was beautiful.  For those of you who reference the movie and are counting, 7 down, 20 to go!  :P} 

At Stacey and Ryan’s wedding, a statement was made:  “True love means that you will love me when I am the most unloveable.”  That statement struck a chord with me.  I can’t seem to get my act together with regards to romantic relationships.  Never have.  I date the wrong guys for too long, I push the good guys away, I don’t open myself up and allow anyone to get close.  (At this moment, I sincerely hope none of them are reading this…and I don’t think they are, but I’m paranoid…but I’m going to be brave and honest anyway.)  Half the time I think it’s just bad luck, the other half of the time I think something must be wrong with me.  I am defective in some way.  Something about me isn’t compatible with being close to someone else.

But that statement from the wedding got me thinking.  Of course God will arrange the right relationship for me in His own time, and that’s the only way I want it.  But I also know that God can be holding out an opportunity and I can push it away.  I have this mentality that I sort of don’t want to meet my someone until I complete all these tasks and make myself more perfect, eliminate the unloveable.  Less fat.  Less debt.  More cute clothes.  Finally find a haircut that I like.  Clean closets.  Stop leaving things in the fridge well past their expiration dates.  Somehow be skinny, tan, stylish, graceful, generous, and…well…just less me and more perfect.

The fact that I push people away when they start getting close to discovering the “unloveable” about me is an issue.  My friends Dave and Christine recently helped me with my taxes, and I couldn’t find last year’s taxes when I needed them.  Dave and Christine witnessed me searching high and low for last year’s taxes, knowing full well that if I had just filed them away in an organized manner last year, this wouldn’t be an issue.  Or if I had thought of it, I could have searched for them before they came over. 

By the way, it is actually possible to do this year’s taxes without access to last year’s adjusted gross income.  🙂

(I never did find them.)

Dave and Christine have seen me in some of my more “unloveable” moments.  In a swimsuit when I don’t feel particularly attractive.  No makeup and sweating like crazy when we’re playing ultimate frisbee on an 85-degree day.  Dave and I went on vacation together last summer…Going on vacation with me is a lot more than I usually have to reveal to friends!  Plane travel, sleeping in the same room, seeing exactly what I do eat and do and say for five or six days straight. 

And yet, this feeling of having Christine and Dave see me not be able to put my hands on something I needed…I was mortified.  I don’t think they knew that.  Or maybe they did, they’re pretty perceptive.  Dave and Christine are just the right kind of friends for me–they will shove their way in through a window if I don’t open a door for them.  Metaphorically, of course.  I would like to think they are aware that it would really freak me out if they actually entered through the window in my apartment.  🙂

Which brings me back around to wanting someone who will love me when I am most unloveable.  The debt, the fat, the disorganized…those are not the most unloveable things about me.  One of the cliche statements about parenting is that babies don’t come with an owner’s manual.  Well, I think I should come with an owner’s manual.  There are so few people in the world who love me when I am unloveable.  I can count them on one hand.  That’s just the way people are, and I doubt anyone else’s world is any different.  Everyone wants something from you, or expects something of you, and when you don’t live up, when you are found to be defective, they are finished with you.  Or if they’re your family and can’t get rid of you, they are finished with you until you prove to be worthy again.  I have a feeling this is true for everyone, but we all experience the world differently.  The owner’s manual for someone who wants me needs to make it clear that I experience a world where I am never, ever good enough.  Where I will always feel like I’m weighed and found wanting.  Where I feel alone in the middle of a crowd, and terrified in the midst of success.  And I think those things might be the most unloveable things about me.

So my directions might say:

1. Never, ever be pushed away.  I will push you away, because that is what I do.  I push people away so that they can’t get in, can’t see the things that I fear they will find unacceptable.  When I say I want you to go, what I really want is for you to stay, to see me, and to accept.  What I am saying is, “If you stay, you will see something that I don’t like about myself.  If you don’t like it either, it would be worse than you just leaving.  So go away, and then I’ll never have to know if you would have rejected me.”  Push back.  Stay.  Don’t let me push you away.

2. The loudest thing I experience isn’t what I see, hear, smell, touch, or taste.  It’s what I feel.  I experience emotions every day that are raw and fresh.  I take on the emotions of those around me, real or fictitious.  You can’t dismiss them.  You can’t say I shouldn’t feel this way, and you can’t say something is not a big deal when, to me, it is.  Because I will try to please you, and I will try to hold it all in, and eventually, I will explode.  So just be a sponge to absorb what I give.  Hug me when I’m happy, and when I’m sad, or scared, or excited.  Really, that’s all I need.

3.  My sister and I are a package deal.  End of story.  She was there before you, and she is the only person on the planet for whom I don’t try to be perfect.

4.  And on a practical note…Hug and kiss me all the time.  All.  The.  Time.  I cannot have too much contact.  For all the things I don’t understand about myself, that is one thing I know is true.

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I read an autobiography today.  All 279 pages of it in one day.  {After the wedding week, I protected today from obligations, knowing I would just need some down time.}  It was an easy and fast read, but it still surprised me that I finished it!  I’m not going to tell you who it was; it’s embarassing.

Okay, I’ll tell you.  Living boldly and authentically and all that.

I read Miles to Go by Miley Cyrus. 

Okay, and now you have to give me a chance to defend myself.  🙂  I saw The Last Song, and loved it.  Loved it so much I have watched the trailer online several times after I’ve seen the movie.  So much that I went and saw it again, by myself, because the first time we missed the first 15 minutes of the movie.  Loved it so much that it officially makes my list of movies that speak to me, and change me in some way.  Loved it so much that I’m not going to read the book.  Miley Cyrus plays the main character in the movie.  When I love a movie (or t.v. show or whatever) that much, I always want to know more about the real people who play the characters.  I didn’t really know anything about Miley Cyrus, other than who her dad is, and the fact that she plays Hannah Montana on Disney Channel.  (You are living in a cave if you teach little kids and don’t know the difference between Hannah Montana, Miley Stewart, and Miley Cyrus!)  I figured I would spend $10, read it, and sell it to Half Price Books for however much.  It’s still new enough that getting it from the library would be a small hassle and a long wait.

And who knows, I wonder if I’ll put it on my shelf and never touch it again, and stack it up with the Half Price Books pile in a couple months.  I just finished it 30 minutes ago, I need some time to process.  (As always!)  But I know that I’ll be putting it on my shelf for awhile.  Some of her pre-fame experiences are just too similar to my middle-school experiences to dismiss her to my give-away box already!  And her discussion of her first relationship, with someone she calls Prince Charming (though you can ask the girls in my class if you want more information…amused sigh and eye roll here…) is candid, wise, and hopeful.  Just in general, she speaks with wisdom of a woman with life experience, even as she writes with the eagerness and enthusiasm of a teenager.  I am very curious to see who she is in 20 years.

When I write songs, I try to tell a whole story. But sometimes the whole story isn’t ready to be told.  The bridge of a song is the transitional part, the part that musically connects two parts of the song.  It’s sometimes called the climb.  After the bridge, a song may come back to the chorus, but it’s bigger, it’s grander, and it feels different because of what happened in the bridge.  When you hear the bridge, you feel things changing, and you know the finale is near.

Over the past couple of years, my mind has wandered back to a relationship I had about ten years ago.  It was an important relationship, and a really great one, for who we were at the time, but for some reason I let go of it so completely that there weren’t any lessons learned, any wisdom to be carried into future experiences.  As I’ve been realizing that I don’t let people get close, I’ve been circling back to this important relationship a little bit.  Of all my romantic relationships, that was the only one where I really let him in.  I knew his deep dark secrets, and he knew mine.  He saw all the way to the back of my closets, if you will.  🙂 

We were so bonded, in fact, that after we broke up it was a good year or so before we stopped seeing each other between other relationships.  About six months after we broke up, we were hanging out, doing our usual cuddling and catching up with what was going on in our lives, and he asked me why I wouldn’t let him kiss me.  I said it was because we were broken up, and I knew if I let us go there, I wouldn’t want to be broken up anymore.  We still loved each other so much, it was hard to remember that we wanted to be broken up, especially when we were acting like we were together.  But when I was leaving, he hugged me at the door, and then just as I was turning to go, he grabbed my hand and pulled me back in, and kissed me passionately.  It was a movie-worthy kiss, which happens so rarely in real life!  And that is how he became my most romantic kiss ever.  When we weren’t even together.

Truthfully, maybe that’s why I let go of him so completely, in the end.  I had to move forward.  We both did.  When I finally let go, I had to let go to the extent that I could go on, and be with someone else without considering them through the filter of this relationship.  And I did.  I didn’t think about that kiss once for probably a good five or six years.  Or anything else about the relationship.  His name was in the “list of boyfriends,” and that’s it.

Come to think of it, I have always thought that if any of my relationships is responsible for my interpersonal defects, it was the next one, the mean one.  But I wonder if my Prince Charming didn’t play a part.  Being that connected, that bonded with someone…the separation was long and painful.  Wanting to kiss someone you’re not really allowed to want to kiss…wanting to call him when he’s not supposed to be your first call anymore…knowing that you could say one sentence and he would already know the background information to understand what you’re going through…  When two people’s lives are woven together like that, pulling them apart is a slow and difficult process.  I wonder if a part of me just wanted to avoid ever having to do that again.  And I will admit, all my breakups since then have been easier, cleaner, and more satisfying.  You know, when you know the relationship isn’t right, there is something very freeing about being done with it.  I don’t think Prince Charming and I ever felt free, or had a “clean break” moment.  We just had to keep pulling at the threads for awhile.

He is the beginning of the story.  He is the chorus of the song.  The bridge has lasted nearly eight years, once you account for all the in-between-trysts, but in my future there is someone who I will let see my secrets, and my closets, and my unloveable moments.  And it will be like that important relationship, but it will be bigger and grander, because this person will be more right for me, but also because of everything that I have experienced since then, including struggling to let people in.

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I know that’s a lot of personal information.  I just had to share with someone, even if it is internet strangers!  🙂

Sleep Deprivation

bed-on-beach

I would like to say, “This issue finally came to a head today,” but the truth is, it has come to a head many times before, nothing changed, and I have no reason to believe anything will change tomorrow.

The issue?  I cannot, for the life of me, go to bed at a reasonable hour.  You may laugh, and blow me off, and think I just have myself a little bad habit.  My own mother makes fun of me for this issue, so go ahead, I can take it. 

The thing is, I’m thinking you have no idea.  For the last four years or so, I’ve been stumbling through life in a fog, living on caffeine and the anticipation of Saturday morning.  In the last year, I have had one stretch of about 5 days in a row of getting enough sleep.  Otherwise, I only really get a good 8 hours here and there, never for more than one or maybe two nights in a row.

The cause, I think, is my discomfort with being alone.  I am never more alone than when I turn off the lights and try to go to sleep.  I will do anything and everything to avoid that moment when I actually have to turn off the lights and lay my head on the pillow.  By myself. 

I had a conversation with some friends tonight about “alone time.”  I think everyone needs some measure of alone time in their life, but everyone falls somewhere on the spectrum.  I need very, very little, and certainly not at night.  Growing up in a big-ish family, a shower was often enough alone time for the day!  (Four kids, two parents, one bathroom.  That’s a big-ish family, right?)  These days, I get plenty, overdoses, of alone time!  You might think the dog would make it better, but he doesn’t.  In the beginning, he actually made it worse, because I had to be very conscious of coming home regularly to take care of him, home where I was alone.

Tonight, I came home late, around midnight, took the dog out, brushed my teeth, put on my pajamas, and then just stood there looking at my bed.  To my horror, tears started streaming down my face, and I dreaded that moment of getting in bed and turning off the lights, and all I could do was just go back in the direction of the living room.  Two things: One, it wasn’t that I wasn’t tired.  I was exhausted!  When I’m tired, all my emotions, good and bad, want to express themselves as tears.  So obviously, it wasn’t that I don’t need sleep right now.  Two, despite my tiredness, nothing about my own bed is appealing to me.  Do you see the beautiful picture at the top of this post?  That is the most beautiful, inviting bed I can imagine–sunset, on the beach, imagine a warm breeze, fresh, outdoor scent…  And yet, nothing about it is appealing to me if I have to lie down alone. 

In case it’s not obvious to you, this issue has nothing to do with sex.  A houseguest sleeping on the couch, a roommate in a bedroom down the hall, a sister sharing my room, or a man laying right next to me…any of those options would fix this for me.  Of course there is one of those options that would be the preferred solution :), but this is not about that.

People have said, “You just need to get to a place where you’re happy, all by yourself.”  And the thing is, I am getting sort of good at that balance between being happy in my life alone, while still hoping that God does have marriage in His plans for me.  It is good from the time I wake up until about 9:30 p.m.  After that, the discomfort with going to bed alone in my home manifests itself as loneliness, far too often.  Does that mean that I actually am very lonely, and I just don’t see it the rest of the day?  Because I don’t feel lonely.  More often than that, I feel busy and happy and just saturated with things to do and people to spend time with.  Of course I’m hoping for that one person to commit my life to, but I don’t feel lonely in the mean time. 

Even tonight, looking at my empty bed with tears of exhaustion and dread streaming down my face, I didn’t feel lonely…I just felt alone.

Is there a difference?

Can I fix it?

Something Personal

This post has been in my drafts for weeks now, and it’s…well, it fully reflects my feelings and instincts on this topic.  So here you go.  🙂

zv8

As you may have found out, or deduced from my vague blogging, Mike and I broke up.  Of course my first inclination was to go back and delete anything where I mention him.  But, it happened.  We went out.  And now, we broke up.

However, I point I mentioned awhile ago comes up again.  “My husband,” the one who God has for me, is out there somewhere.  And he, just like everyone else on the planet, is free to read my blog.  So I won’t tell the story here.  In fact, I am saving this draft tonight and I’m not publishing it until I’m sure.  And, truth be told, there might be some things about Mike that I go back and delete.  I want to be sensitive to Mike, to “my husband,” to anyone else I might date in between.

But I do process things out loud, a lot of the time.  Some days, “out loud” means on my blog.  You know that by now.  So I probably will write about what I think.

The picture above is from a song in High School Musical 3 called “Can I Have This Dance.”  I saw HSM3 in the theater with Mike, and watching “Can I Have This Dance,” even in that very moment, I knew the relationship portrayed in the music was not like the relationship I was sitting in.  (Portrayed in the music, not the movie.  I thought it was a great movie, very entertaining, but the relationship in the movie is two high school seniors going off to college.)  But the music, and the lyrics…oh my goodness.  Chills and tears, really.  The chorus:

It’s like catching lightning the chances of finding someone like you
It’s one in a million, the chances of feeling the way we do
And with every step together, we just keep on getting better
So can I have this dance (can I have this dance)
Can I have this dance

I had to go back in time a few months to dig up this memory, and I had to find the lyrics to this song to remember why I felt that way.  And now that I have, and I’ve been listening to that song for a couple of days, my point is this:  As life experience accumulates, my standards are going up.  In a way, this surprises me a little.  I thought my standards were going down because I was discovering the reality of relationships.  There has been an element of “disilluionment” in my life in the last 6 or 7 years, and I’ve been having these notions that life sucks, relationships suck, marriages suck, and that’s just the price you pay for being on this planet.  You might get a few moments of wonderful here and there, but mostly, it’s a burden.  A burden to be alive, and a burden to be in a relationship.  But you just do it, because we’re human beings and this is what we do.  Birds build nests, people endure sucky relationships.  It’s just what is.

But despite that growing cynicism, or pessimism, or whatever you would call it…I still wanted one of those sucky relationships!  🙂

In that moment in the movie theater, I had a fleeting thought:  Am I supposed to spend the rest of my life watching movies and reading books and listening to songs about these great relationships, even though they don’t exist?  Is the universe just going to rub it in my face for the rest of my life that I don’t ever get to have what I have always wanted?  And this while I’m sitting next to a man with whom I am having a (seemingly) happy relationship!

Well, as that relationship ended, I realized that all the disillusionment in the world won’t change the fact that I do want a magical relationship!  I want to feel like “it’s like catching lightning, the chances of finding someone like you.”  Well, like him.  You understand.  🙂  A certain amount of disillusionment was necessary, just for the process of growing up.  For example, “happily ever after.”  As a 7-year-old girl watching Cinderella, we didn’t even think beyond the end of the movie.  “They lived happily ever after,” what more did we need to know?  🙂  Had we thought about it, we probably would have thought that all the days of their lives would be magical and perfect, like the wedding day at the end of the movie.  As I put a few not-so-great relationships behind me, it was so easy to fall into the cynical mantra: There is no “happily ever after.”  But at this moment, now, I think we 7-year-olds were wrong about “happily ever after,” but it does exist.  It’s not, “happily every moment.”  It’s not, “easily ever after.”  But most importantly, it’s not happily ever after without lifting a finger!  Whether a relationship is happy and wonderful and fulfilling in the long term depends on the work of the two people in it.  “Happily ever after” is a purpose, a passion, a lifelong project, and forever a process.  It is not fairy tale magic, but it is definitely not a lie.

In this moment, far beyond the age of 7, I am grounded in reality, trust me.  But the reality is, obviously I don’t know.  I don’t know what my forever relationship will feel like.  I don’t know how I will recognize it.  I do know…I’m done settling.  If it’s not like that, if it’s not magical and blissful and wonderful, then I don’t want it.  If the guy doesn’t want it as much as I do, then I don’t want it.  If to be in a relationship would mean spending the rest of my life watching other real and fictitious relationships with envy, then I don’t want it!  I fully intend to be happy, and I’ll do it in a relationship, or I’ll do it alone, but I won’t have it any other way.

As always, I’m anticipating your comments even as I write this!  🙂  I can hear them now.  “Girly, you don’t know what you’re talking about!  I hope your honeymoon is as magical as all that, because nothing else after that will be!”  Or however you might put that.  Here’s the thing…I am sorry if you are in a place where you don’t see a possibility for happiness in your relationships.  And I pray you do find your way back to “happily ever after.”  But I want no part of the bitterness.  Bitterness finds me way too easily!  It is a slippery slope down to the dark and muddy valley, so I’m staying in the sunshine!  🙂

Lessons From the Wedding

I will post more stories about this weekend later, with pictures, because I am now a woman of the 21st century with a digital camera.  🙂  But as you might know, being a bridesmaid is exhausting!!!  I can’t imagine how exhausting it is to be a bride.  When my turn comes, will someone remind me to exercise a lot so that I’m in great shape and have lots of energy?  🙂  But despite the exhaustion, I would like to reflect a bit on some lessons I learned this weekend…

This weekend I felt the pull to cling to God’s promises, no matter how difficult the situation.  This was a hard weekend for me to be involved in a wedding, thanks to some very fresh relationship happenings in my own life.  And exhaustion never helps difficult situations!   God didn’t promise it would be easy, He promised that He would always be there.  When I reach my breaking point, God gives me a rest, or more strength to go on, or opens another path.  He will bring me to my breaking point over and over, because that is how we grow, but He will never leave me there alone.

Last night (or rather, this morning, when I finally went to bed!), I had a dream.  The basic plot was, I was completely focused on a man who wasn’t interested in me, but dating a man who was great.  Despite my complete focus on this man that wasn’t right for me, this other man continued to show me love and give me just what I needed.  (You remember how strange my dreams are, so let’s leave it at that, without distracting ourselves with the crazy details!)  I awoke from that dream in the middle of the night with such a gentle peace.  I felt as though God was giving me a message.  He was telling me to let go of my obsessive focus, or maybe look through or around it, and watch for the man that will be everything I need when I least deserve it.

Less than a week ago, a friend gave me some advice and told me to honestly make a list of what I am looking for in a man.  Of course I have heard this tidbit of “wisdom” before, and I’ve never been comfortable with it.  I don’t want to create an imaginary man who looks nothing like any real person.  For example, I don’t want to get it in my head that my future husband will be in a certain line of work, or have certain physical appearance qualities, nothing that would be too specific and distract me from the reality that I don’t know yet what my future husband will be like!  But over the course of the weekend, I felt like I was accidentally making a list.  Actually, it feels like God has placed these things on my heart.  It’s simple:  He will love God as much as I do.  He will follow God and lead me.  He will pray with me.  He will hug and kiss me all the time.  That is all I need in this world.

God uses all kinds of ways to change us or get our attention.  This weekend, for me, He used the absence of someone who I thought was important to me, and the example of a good friend who, after 13 years of friendship, continues to teach me and inspire me.

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