Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Big Enough

Amusement parks are filled with energy. Kids and kids-at-heart are excited as they play games, eat confections, and of course, ride roller coasters. Amusement parks also breed anxiety, disappointment, and tears. Many of the kids are at the awkward stage of not being tall enough for certain rides. Adults know that the child who is just inches too short will get to experience terrified bliss soon enough, but all that child cares about is that moment. Safety reasons or not, all that child wants is to be big enough right now! As we get older, we grow taller, but we have the same mentality. Even when it's for our own good, we never want to hear that we aren't big enough—mentally or emotionally—for anything.

As a teenager, I was well aware that I was expected to go to college, earn a living, get married, and have children. I also knew that there were levels to achieving each goal. Aspects of that plan would reveal themselves in their proper time. Much like at an amusement park, I needed to grow before I could experience certain facets of life. I needed to create a pattern of wise decisions so that I could learn to trust myself. I needed to discover the difference between those committed to walk with me and those who would simply walk. I needed to understand what kind of person I wanted to grow into and focus my energy working in that direction. Having awareness of expectations or desired outcomes is not the same as being ready for those expectations or outcomes. Awareness is not an indication of a timetable—it is intended to give guidance and focus. 

You may feel that you've been standing in line, waiting to be measured or prepared to prove that you are big enough for the ride. Perhaps you feel ready to start that business or handle the responsibilities of a promotion. Maybe you wonder why you're not someone's spouse by now or not living in that dream home or in the life you envisioned years ago. You might have developed frustration and impatience as you look at others enjoying the park and riding everything that you've been waiting to experience. Don't get lost in comparisons and watching others. Your life will unfold in a time that is most appropriate and best for you. Tomorrow's outcome will be a reflection of choices and decisions you've made today so create a pattern of wise decisions to help you learn to trust yourself, discover who walks with you, and understand who you are growing into so your actions reflect your direction. When the time comes for you to stand up and be measured, you'll be confident that you are indeed big enough for the ride designed specifically for you.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Love You Through

I’m not a mother, but there are quite a few children in my life. There are moments when a simple gesture or phrase melts my heart and times when they have emotional meltdowns that send me hiding in my own quiet corner. In both cases—and every situation in between—my love doesn’t waiver. What I feel for them is not dependent on their best or worst. I love them through it.

All of us have struggles and some require years of emotional work and determination to overcome. Few of us feel confident to be genuine with others because we don’t trust that they will love us through the emotional work. We hide behind what we think they want to see or hear. We hide behind smiles and ideas. We live isolated and contrived lives. My challenge to you is to discover those who will love you through and then let them!

The first part of that challenge is not easy. For years I struggled to learn who was going to love me through hardship and who was simply waiting until I crossed the finish line to love me in celebration. I made some mistakes. I trusted words over actions. I gave more weight to what I wanted instead of what I needed. Although I made errors on whom to depend on, I compounded my own difficulty by then loving fearfully instead of freely. I instituted a blanket method of relationship. No matter what individuals had proven, everyone was treated the same. Everyone heard the same response. Everyone received the same smile. I threw everyone at the finish line and pushed myself into running the race alone.

Loving freely requires trust. Trust means being vulnerable, placing your confidence in someone else, and giving up control. Yes, all of that is extremely difficult, but it is no less emotionally taxing than forced loneliness. Maybe you’ve had this vision of who would be standing by your side, loving you through and the ones who have proven themselves aren’t the ones you pictured. Maybe you’ve been so busy chasing who isn’t there that you can’t see who has been standing beside you. Don’t allow the absence of someone cause you to miss the presence of anyone.

I think about the little people in my life. They can have a catastrophic, emotional outburst or get the disciplinary action of their young lives in front of me. Even still, just moments later, no shame nor guilt nor doubt prevents them from jumping in my face, asking me to take them for ice cream, or begging me to play some game. They have the confidence to know that I’ll love them through their outbursts and lapses in judgment. I challenge you to exercise the same level of wisdom by trusting those who have been purposed and have chosen to love you through your doubts, fears, heartaches, and difficulties.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

What You Deserve

All of us have experienced hurt at the hands of someone else. Hurt could have resulted from a harsh comment, a betrayal, a refusal to be an advocate, or even an assault. Often times, we can rationalize that we were hurt because someone else made the decision to be hurtful. Yet even when we are aware that the hurt we experienced was unwarranted or undeserved, instead of rejecting the negativity, we ingest it. What we know is in direct conflict with what we feel.

For years I hoarded the hurt that others inflicted. I told myself repeatedly that what I experienced wasn't my fault, but I still managed to believe that something within me led others to treat me with less than kindness. The only rationale that made sense was that I brought something out in others and that the problem was internal, not external. Digesting the negativity of others further complicated my healing process. I had to learn to work through my pain without being consumed by it.

In last week's post on personal loyalty, you learned that you are not required to live out affinities inherited from any aspect of your past. Just as you can actively choose to pursue new loyalties, you are not required to carry the negativity that others have presented to you. If you had an overly critical or under engaged parent, that isn't a reflection of you. If you have had an unfaithful partner or partners, that isn't an indication of your worth. If your neighbor, employer, child, spouse, or even a stranger is unkind to you that doesn't mean you deserve cruelty. When you are mistreated or simply not fully appreciated, it is not your responsibility to take ownership of the blame for the abuse or neglect.

Taking responsibility for being abused or neglected is accepting that you are the reason it happens or that you deserve it. Over time, you seek out and are attracted to those who confirm your belief and the establishment of a pattern perpetuates what you feel about yourself. Instead of evaluating why you are drawn to certain personality types, you believe that you are being treated in hurtful ways because you deserve to be hurt. You do not deserve to be hurt! You are not required to live your life accepting hurt. You are not bound by the characteristics that the actions of others may suggest. While what you allow to remain in your life may be in question, what you deserve has never been.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Personal Loyalty

At eighteen-years-old I left for college and started learning about myself in ways that I didn't anticipate. One such lesson came as I paid more attention to my grocery shopping habits. While getting things like toothpaste and dishwashing detergent I was immediately drawn to certain brands. I became interested in the reasoning behind my automatic choices, but the only answer I came up with was that I bought what was familiar to me. I had no personal loyalty to any of the brands I chose beyond mirroring my parents' shopping habits.

Thinking of my imposed brand loyalty led me to consider my choices outside of the grocery store. If I'd been willing to purchase household items solely because it's what my parents bought, what other decisions had I surrendered? What other areas of my life had I let the past choose for me? What else was I loyal to without even realizing it?
Your childhood experiences greatly influence how you live as an adult. Fortunately, you have the option to repeat or repel and learn from your past. As you create normalcy for yourself, your partner, and/or your child(ren), it is wise to consider what types of loyalties are influencing your behavior.

You may have grown up in a balanced, healthy environment. In that circumstance, recreating as much of the positivity you experienced is ideal. For most, though, there are portions of your experiences that will require a bit more work. Having a parent who expressed more criticism than concern does not mean that you are destined to be in relationships with critical people. Make another choice. A parent leaving does not dictate that you will always be in relationships with unavailable people. Make another choice. An abusive past does not equate to an abusive future. Make another choice.

You have the option and responsibility to exercise loyalty to characteristics, actions, and people who make you feel the most supported, cared for, and loved. You no longer have to be loyal to what someone else selected for you. You now have the power to choose. Replace mindless, repetitive choices with intentional ones. You cannot control what has already happened, but you can positively shape your future by developing and strengthening personal loyalties that are most beneficial to you and for you.