I have struggled, over my lifetime, to find an answer to the recurring question of why I seemed so different; more emotional than others, more inclined to seek the truth, more concerned with people’s feelings than their bank accounts (or my own).
I have met so many people who seemed to find the right partner, the right job, to enjoy the pleasures of life so much more easily than I did.
For some odd reason, I often found my inner comfort zone to be right where others saw discomfort. I was secure where they would feel lost. I was at ease where they were acutely distressed.
I am beginning to understand that while I appeared to have every basic body part and brain function in tact, I have apparently always been handicapped. In the same way that a blind person has extra perception when it comes to hearing than many of his sighted friends, I always seemed to pick up on heart waves that no one else noticed, or if they did, they could not describe them as easily as I seemed to be able to.
I know now that all those times that I had such a different experience than what appeared to be the normal response of those around me was precisely because I was indeed handicapped, with a sensitivity to the spirit God put in me at birth, made only more profound after I asked Jesus into my life at age 37.
As so many people with severe handicaps will testify, I appreciate things in life that others just don’t even seem to notice. I am aware of the kindness of people and the workings of God in ways that others can’t begin to comprehend, especially when they consider experiencing my circumstances. And in the end, those handicapped individuals almost always say they wouldn’t change a thing about their lives, because their experience of it has been so rich and so filled with awe and wonder. I have to say that from my vantage point, I would totally agree.
I have struggled, over my lifetime, to find an answer to the recurring question of why I seemed so different; more emotional than others, more inclined to seek the truth, more concerned with people’s feelings than their bank accounts (or my own).
I have to laugh at myself sometimes, a lot of times if the truth be known, and one of those times is when I approach a traffic symbol where the words to follow have been written on the pavement before it, telling me exactly what to do.
This morning while I walked Gypsy back from the beach, I walked over one and as usual, read it top to bottom, instead of the way they intended it to be read, bottom to top, the order in which you would roll over it in your car.
This one said Wrong Way with an arrow going toward the wrong way. I laughed because I couldn’t help but read it my usual way…..Way Wrong! I got thinking about how I used to be so much more easily led astray by not heeding the signs God intentionally left for me to see. I guess I am a bit obtuse or just easily adaptive toward pleasing others, so I naturally got off the path more frequently than I do these days. I would take jobs that were not in my gifted areas and then be in pain about them. I would get into relationships that were not good for my personality type or my heart and then be in pain about how to get out of them (without hurting the other person of course!)
Nowadays, I spend much more time praying for God’s purpose and jobs that He leads me to. I pray for relationships where he wants me to be involved, and they are always a benefit of some sort to both me and the other person in our growth as a Christian. Or He wants me to bless someone and it always feels like a service to Him, not something I would necessarily choose in my flesh.
So, when I looked at this signage on the road before me, I laughed because now I often am able to say at least to myself, “Way Wrong”, in terms of the direction I might choose on my own vs something I know to be the Lord’s leading. Staying anchored in His word also helps me to discern the difference more easily. Perhaps as I get older, I just don’t want to go the wrong way any more, as it takes so long to get back on His track sometimes. So I will keep looking for the ways He confirms my path, trying not to get ahead of Him but appreciating it even if he has to shout Way Wrong! before I detour out of His lane.
Someone recently told me that she had heard a psychologist say that children in the same family actually had different parents, depending on when they were born. I guess this relates to the whole birth order studies of personalities in many ways, but also in a new way that made so much more sense to me.
Our parents were often at very different places in their relationship to each other and to life in general, at the times that me and my three siblings were born. That has helped to explain why we seemed to have very different contexts of our parents during our childhood and even very different relationships with them. Partly because of that, we also relate differently to each other.
My Dad was just home from World War 2 when I joined the family. These days we would probably recognize his symptoms and hair trigger anger as some kind of PTSD. He, as a very young man in charge of many other young men, had witnessed horrific things that I am sure he could never forget. He must have had a very difficult time resuming life as he had left it and the cries and antics of two young children as he tried to determine how to make a living after his service.
My parents moves and Dad’s subsequent success in his career and his natural gifts and talents as a singer and piano man and boss, dad, and wonderful human being, began to be reinstated in higher and higher priority in his life and that of his family. This had the simultaneous effect of making him temperamentally easier on subsequent children, particularly the fourth, than he was able to be with the first ones. That is why I believe there is truth in the wisdom of the statement that we all actually had different parents. It could be they get more relaxed at parenting or in life, or the opposite could be true; some circumstance such as a lost job or an accident could change the experience completely as does divorce and moving. More money, less money, the possibilities are endless.
It is always a good thing to recognize that no matter our best intentions, each of our children may have an entirely different perspective on their childhood. I have found over the years that being defensive about my role in my children’s lives at any given time only served to distance us emotionally. If I was willing to accept and listen to their version of how they felt about a certain time or event, I was often able to apologize for negative consequences I may not even have been aware of. My denial and/or excuses had little effect on relieving their pain and often only prompted more emotional punishment and distance because I had, in effect, rejected them by rejecting their perspective. I am finding the older and wiser I get, the quicker I am to step into their memories, and see things from their eyes, rather than my own.
This has opened the doors of both of our hearts more than any psychiatry could have ever accomplished with the result being real healing on both parts as well as a new sense of caring and love, much less complicated by the past. Keeping the slate as clean as possible going forward is certainly my goal, where family and all relationships are concerned. So much less mess to clean up!
Just wanted to bring this blog and anyone who follows it up to date on the outcome of my excursion into the Christian dating scene. The past few months have been really exciting, but more because of the way God has brought me closer to Himself than for anyone I met while making myself approachable online.
What happened was that several men I met, spoke with or corresponded with all asked me the same question: You have an amazing testimony. What are you doing with it?
Hmmmm. That was a tough one, but it had an easy answer. Nothing.
I had stopped blogging, I was not volunteering in any capacity except hospitality at church, and although I regularly attended and shared at my bible study group, I wasn’t doing anything with the story of my adventures with the Lord.
Could it be that what I got out of the dating site was a direct road back to the love of my life? Actually that is exactly what happened.
I asked God to go with me and indeed He did, and facing my past head-on where men were concerned, helped me to find a few places that still needed forgiveness and God’s healing touch. Had I not gone there, I may never have known there was still some crusty residue in the heart of this vessel. As the months progressed, I felt as though I was finally willing to let go of all hurts where men from my past were concerned and come back into God’s loving arms with a clearer love and yearning to know Him than I had ever had the previous thirty years.
I was able to choose Him completely, knowing He had already chosen me, no matter which way my head had turned toward gentlemen at any given point in time. I have to say, this journey did start out with me wondering if I had yet found the love of my life and ended with me knowing for certain that yes, I had already found Him, and He was going to remain with me into the eternity He has promised. There is nothing safer and more certain, nothing more exciting than that! Nothing.
He never wastes a connection. The longer I live and the more I observe His divine connections, the more I am convinced He always has something for each of us to learn in any connection He makes between people.
As I recently reviewed many past loves and attractions in a wonderful Beth Moore bible study called Breaking Free, I could see how God had lessons for me in every one of them, although they had only seemed like rejection, abandonment and disaster at the time. Although I also believe He had a lesson for the partner I had been with, or the date or the acquaintance, I could only show up and be accountable to learn the one He had for me. If I chose not to learn the lesson, I could also see where God took me back into a similar situation where I had yet another opportunity to learn it. Choosing not to learn may be called denial, or just plain stupidity, but I often found it was only the second time when I began to recognize a pattern, one that opened my heart to allow God to change it and to see what He wanted me to see. The pain the second time was usually twice as bad as the first, helping me to desire to change before a third opportunity had to arise.
His protection of me, and especially of my heart, has been evident to me for a very long time, ever since I first turned my life over to Him thirty years ago. He has a vested interest in protecting me and in keeping me safe as I continue to grow and learn about Him and as He continues to lead me where He can use the particular gifts He has given me. I have come to lean on and appreciate that leading more and more every year. I now jump at the chance to learn the lessons He presents for me, rather than wait for a second or third opportunity. I know that doing that lessens, if not eliminates completely, the pain that I, or those I love, may suffer and prevents the awful cover ups and deception that the enemy thoroughly enjoys manipulating to his advantage.
I may never know if, or how, the Lord has used these same connections in the other person’s life, but that is not important for me to know. God has used it in mine and we will move on to another lesson and that is all that matters.
I just spent the past two days playing with my 2.5 yr old granddaughter. I love our time together because it is most often spent in the ‘wiving woom’ playing whatever game she wants. She has an amazing mind and capacity for remembering and arranging data, and all her experiences to date have seemingly been cataloged for her to revisit at will. As my brain requires more and more focus to bring about this compliance, I am both intrigued and thrilled to see how she utilizes so much information, all relatively brand new to her.
Her favorite games to play involve ‘tending’. This is her best attempt at the moment at ‘pretending’, and yet I found her shortened version of the word extremely accurate to explain what she, and I as her accomplice,were really doing. Whether it was flying on an airplane, swimming in the ocean, or cooking in her kitchen, there was not a detail of the process that she left out.
Turning the knobs on and off on her ‘stove’, the ding of the ‘microwave’ signalling done, blowing away the steam on the ‘soup’ before we ate it, putting our seat belts on in the ‘tend’ airplane, after putting our suitcases securely under our chairs, then remembering to remove each in the correct order before getting up: the details of her follow through were incredible.
Even when we played in the ‘ocean’ of my puffy comforter on the guest room bed, she made a practice of confronting the situation that may hold the most fear for her at the moment (being knocked over by a wave) by repeatedly having it happen and laughing as she fell down and got herself up giggling at how much fun it was to be knocked over by a comforter wave. Knowing this was a scenario that had brought her to tears mere weeks ago, I thoroughly enjoyed seeing her happily confront it over and over again, to ingrain on her mind a different outcome for the next little wave that overcomes her and momentarily destabilizes her balance.
She also surrounds herself with the most positive company while attempting to change her perspective: her never far from her arms BFF bear, and assorted other stuffed cuddly companions, who also braved the waters with her, mostly so she could teach them how to prepare and react, as her Dada had taught her.
“Tending” is indeed a perfect way to rehearse the things in life we want to confront and change and make a new path for, helping us to prepare the way. The word implies we are doing it with great care and attentiveness. It has been taught by those who have led for generations and will continue until the end of time. One thing we need to do to change our attitude and outlook is to simulate a new one, and practice it until it replaces the old one that no longer serves us well. The other is to ask God to help us make that change. I am grateful once again for the guidance of the littlest among us who will show us the way to confront our own fears, if only we are willing to pay close attention.
My journey through this dating experience, and getting caught up on life with a man God has brought into my life at this moment in time, has uncovered many memories. Initially they seemed good, then not so good, then good again. Layers and layers of where we have been and how we got to the place we are right now. Water under the bridge in some ways, but information that a potential mate for life needs and expects to know. The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God, as they used to swear in the witnesses in Perry Mason court cases!
After processing some of the negative ones again to see if they are still binding me in any way, there often surfaces a second memory of the same place and time where I could see that my heart was turned to God and the expectation of the good life He had ahead for me and my children. As a single Mom, I often missed the presence of a male at the head of our table, both to anchor our family and to be the covering and protector any family needs. I remember at a certain point that I would set the dining room table with our finest linens and silverware and china. These were former wedding gifts I rarely had occasion to use any longer, yet they looked pretty when I looked at the dining room we also rarely used, as though we were awaiting a special guest.
I remember setting the table for four, though we were a family of three at that time, and for most of the time I was raising the boys. I remember laying out the place settings, and thinking as I did that Jesus might show up any time, and in the guise of someone that I might not initially recognize. I wanted to be ready to welcome Him into our home, and to always let anyone know there was a place for them and for Him at our table.
As all of this looking back and remembering the places He has kept me grounded in an unsteady world, makes me smile when I think about the ways in which He was present at our table. I remember the blessing my grandfather on my Mom’s side always said before we ate. “Be present at this table Lord, be here and everywhere adored. Thy creatures bless and grant that we, may live in paradise with thee, Amen.” I always thought it odd he said the same blessing at every meal, but it was really a good one, as I reflect on it now.
I received a special gift this weekend, along with a book that Billy Graham has just written, The Reason For My Hope. It is probably the last one from this incredible man of God, and I am stuck by how each paragraph, each sentence contains so much truth , insight and yes, hope for all of mankind, in spite of everything we see going on in the world today. To me it would seem as though he would be discouraged at what he has seen over his lifetime, but because his hope is in our eternal salvation, in God not in man, he is every bit as passionate near the end of his life as he was in the beginning of his ministry. He is an amazing blessing to the decades of people whose lives he has touched and to the generations that will follow.
The part that struck me this morning even as I was being uplifted by his words, was that I hadn’t read thirty pages when I had noticed two mistakes. Not in his message, not in his work, but typos! Typos, can you believe it? He has a great publisher, probably hundreds of people who have read this before the publisher took it to print, and yet here are these common errors seemingly obvious to me, that no one caught.
At first I thought, should I call someone, write them that these were there so that future printings would be perfect? Then I realized God was just showing me, once again, how I struggle with the fact that regardless of being saved, in spite of spending thirty years safe in His protection and love, I still struggle with imperfection. And I always will. I am imperfect. We all are. Save one, Jesus Christ, who came so that we might have eternal life and be accepted, with all our imperfections, into His Kingdom when we leave this earthly body and return home.
I always thought it was a good thing to be a natural proofreader, but sometimes it isn’t, unless it is your job. It makes me search words for the meaning that might be lost between the lines, a hanging participle that might cause someone to read something in a way other than what the author intended. Yet often this is just how God speaks to me in deeper ways, calling attention to the flaws I have asked Him to reveal in me that I might possibly improve on with some effort on my part and grace on His. I don’t want someone to read me wrong, so to speak. Or is it that I don’t want them to see my imperfections?
Today He has shown me that He doesn’t see my imperfections in the way I see them. He sees my heart. He sees the soul He gave me at birth and the life that I have lived trying to be true to Him and to myself. He does not proofread every moment of every day, every misstep that I have made, every wrong word that I have written or said. I sometimes can be so disheartened by getting something wrong that I miss His bigger picture for me. His love and compassion are always the meaning between the lines. His care for me goes far beyond my getting everything perfect. His joy in me is never undone by one wrong thought.
I thought I was not a perfectionist. I try to look for the good in people and in situations without judging the small mistakes, but I was wrong; being a proofreader is looking for perfection. I attributed this to a characteristic of God, but I was incorrect, as I so often am. We are made in His image, not He in ours. Nothing in His word says He is a proofreader, in fact much the opposite. We are flawed, imperfect, and we need Him to get through this life. He sent His perfect son to die on the cross for the mistakes we have made and will continue to make, just so that we can experience His love while we struggle through life on this earth and so we may one day join Him in eternity. End of story. I do not need to tell Billy Graham’s publisher there are flaws. If anyone knows that, it is Billy Graham. Perhaps God allowed those just for me to see. He’s like that, you know.
This has been the week of Thanksgiving, and as such a time when the children I care for weekdays have their parents home for much of the week. As a result I have some time off, and the thing I thought I would do with it was clean my apartment, getting rid of accumulated clutter and sorting through old paperwork no longer needed, to make room for more, I guess!
That was my plan, so I had absolutely no social events, save Thanksgiving dinner, to get in the way of that plan. God had a different plan. I was close, as it definitely involved cleaning, but instead of my house, He seemed to have more interest in my heart. This week, interestingly beginning on a Sunday, has evolved into a thorough searching of the insides of my heart; examining the things in residence there and the reasons behind them moving in. Many, it seemed, had actually already moved out, but left behind a few remnants of their stay and some cobwebs and dusty corners that needed a broom and a little elbow grease to remove. Cleaning up that space left a very beautiful peaceful new place for a future occupant.
All in all it has been a wonderful adventure, but emotionally and physically exhausting in the process. He has His reasons for this, and I believe He has been slowly revealing them as we do this together. I have given Him permission to bring someone into my life with whom I could share both my love for Him and a true and honest love and partnership here on earth. I believe all the hard work we have been doing this week will make perfect sense as He reveals the next part of this journey. At the very least, He has given me a clean bill of health and my heart seems to be ready to move forward! My heart, Christ’s home. That in itself is wonderful news!
My apartment, however, looks exactly the same as it did a week ago.
These are seriously precarious times. All truth seems relative to what one wants to believe. The facts are secondary to feelings. Good and evil can be switched at a moment’s notice, depending on a person’s perspective. I never remember a time quite like this.
I am grateful for a book that never changes, and that always presents the same truths in many different ways, but always the same profound and simple principles. The precepts upon which these truths are based are unwavering. And they play out continually as I live out my life. I have never noticed a Biblical truth to be invalid or incorrect when chosen as a basis for an interaction. I have seen however, on countless occasions, the opposite to be true: where one chose to disregard a Biblical principle, it ultimately never came to a good end.
I guess this makes me old fashioned. Not a person of this time and place. If that is true, then I do not care to be identified with this time and place, because it is bizarre to me how strong moral foundations have been manipulated in every area of life. How they are condemned and laughed at, as though they have no place in this world anymore. I try less and less to convince others, as they try more and more to show me how correct their new assumptions seem to be. While reality is changing all around us, our young do not see anything but good coming from abandoning the moral principles of their forefathers, in exchange for a fair and just reality they are sure will magically happen overnight if we just say that we want it that way. The Robin Hood government they think they are electing will somehow take from the rich and give to the poor and then balance in the utopian kingdom they envision will be restored.
I wish they knew the book I know, as they are the ones who must live with the consequences of not knowing it, and my life will not last to see the results they are setting in place now for future generations. They seem to be trying to demolish and abandon any allegiance to Christ and to a God they believe is a figment of old people’s imagination. I am saddened and dismayed, but as yet do not see what I am to do about it except continue to go forward with my own beliefs. Perhaps there will come a place and time I have to choose and I feel I will be ready for that, but it isn’t here just yet.
Footnote. I had this in Drafts, previously written July 16th. I think the time for me to choose what to do about it has come, and I find it interesting that I didn’t publish this then.