Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Sequel to: The Broken Vase

Recently I shared a story about a favorite vase of mine that had mysteriously broken. Yes, I was disappointed, but I had no other recourse than to just "let it go". Since then I have learned a significant lesson. The lesson again of letting go and not holding on.

 Although I think that I am not a materialistic person, I  constantly find myself connected to the things in my life. The material items are not really worth much monetarily speaking.  (most have been purchased at really great deals at thrift stores or yard sales) but rather in the emotional attachment that I place on them. Perhaps that comes from my family losing all our possessions in a house fire when I was a child. Or perhaps it comes from the joy I get in finding the "perfect" accessory to complement my living space. You see, I consider my home "my nest" ~ it is my haven, my sanctuary. My home is a reflection of who I am, an extension of myself. When I come home after a long day, I find comfort & rest there. I live on very limited means, so the items I do have, eventually find a special place in my heart, because I know that I normally could not afford to purchase them at regular prices. It's a challenge to me ~ sort of "the look for less". When I get my home decorated the way I like it ( and on my shoestring budget) it makes me happy.

Okay, that being said, the vase that broke was special to me. However, After I had disposed of it, I let the attachment to it go.  (it's very hard holding on to pieces of broken glass) Then an interesting thing happened the next week.

Let me back track for a minute. For several months I had been searching for an aqua blue glass vase for my bathroom. (to me this is known as "the quest"). I had even found the perfect vase, but it was way out of my budget. So one day I was at a Coldwater Creek (definitely NOT my budget) and happened to come across a beautiful aqua blue glass vase that was marked down from $40.00 to $5.99. Whoa ~ I asked the clerk to check the price again, yep $5.99. Of course it now graces my bathroom.

But here is the lesson I learned thoughout this whole experience: sometimes we have to let go of what we think is the "perfect" thing so that God can provide us with something even more special. We can do it gracefully, or we can do it kicking and screaming along the way. I am even taking it one step further; what else am I holding on to that I need to release?  I am learning to create "breathing room" in my Life. From my closet to my bookshelves, from my dishes to my accessories, I am lightening up my life and making room for the blessings to follow. If my cup is too full of what I don't need (or what really doesn't serve me anymore ) how can I be blessed?~ I'm learning to let go of it. I am finding just like the vase, things are miraculously appearing in my life. it's a process that I find amazing, yet simple.

 There is an old story about a monkey who is trying to get a banana out of a narrow vase. The monkey puts his hand into the vase, grabs the banana, then tries to pull it out. He can't pull his hand with the banana in it, back through the opening of the vase. Impatient, he struggles to win by holding on to the banana that much harder. Of course the moral of the story is that in order to have the banana, he has to release his grip on it. (if he tips it just right, it may fall out) I am learning to loosen my grip in a lot of areas of my life and it is refreshing. I still have a long way to go, but I know that I am learning new things everyday. Most important is that I learn that God is the one in control of my life.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Growing Pains

Remember having growing pains as a child?  Mine usually happened in my legs, and even though the pain was uncomfortable, I told myself that it was worth it ~ because I was growing, and that was exciting!

Now as an adult, it's harder to recognize that the painful situations, relationships and events I have experienced are actually things causing me to grow.

When I am in the middle of a crisis, the easiest thing to do is start looking for an emergency exit & find the quickest way to escape. However, many times I have found no exit, no relief, and definitely no escape. Sometimes I am forced to endure emotional and/or physical pain, without understanding the reason why. It is ony after I have come through a situation that I begin to see the lesson I have learned, and the growth that has come out of it.

Growth can be on many different levels; emotional, physical, or even spiritual.
Many times I do not recognize the fact that I am growing until after I look back I see that I chose to react or respond in an entirely different way than I use to. I may not recognize my daily growth until I am once again challenged to see if I have indeed learned the necessary lesson at hand. I find it amazing that the chinese word for crisis is the same one as opportunity.

There is one thing I can say that I now recognize and that is that I realize I cannot change people, situations, or events. There are things that will happen to me beyond my control; however the one thing that IS within my power ( or control) is the ablility to choose how I react or respond to people, situations and unforseen events in my life. Now just because I recognize this fact doesn't mean that I always react or respond in the positive way I know I should, however, I am learning to accept responsibility for the choices I make.
I am recognizing that I don't have to respond from an emotional place; fear, anger, insecurity, etc. Unfortunately, sometimes I still do. But at least now I am recognizing the emotion that is fueling my response. For me that is a big Wow! It is one of my "adult growing pain" moments so to speak.

Recently I heard someone ask a group of people where they were in their growth. The choices were stuck, struggling or striding. I'm not sure if I can say that I'm "striding", however, I'm not exactly stuck either. I would say that there are areas in which I still struggle ~ but I am definitely "striving" to be better than I was last year. For me, that is growth. I am not where I want to be, but I am certainly not where I use to be either. I am going forward and growing, one step at a time.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Quote of the Day

Nobody can go back and start a new begining,

but anyone can start today and make a new ending.

-Maria Robinson

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Pit

I don't know about you, but sometimes around or after the holidays I begin to get in a blue funk. Maybe it's because after I take down the Christmas decorations the house seems so plain; ~ cold ~ empty. I have to be very cautious not to allow these deep dark thoughts to take root in my spirit, because I could become a "Pit Dweller", that is I could take up residency in a pit. What is a pit you might ask? Well, it's a deep dark cavern of a place where sunlight never,ever shows it's face. It's a emotionally place where negative emotions rule; like fear, anger, guilt, insecurity, depression, hopelessness, worthlessness, bitterness, & resentment. These dark emotions are like wallpaper, lining the walls, blocking out even the tiniest ray of hope and light, forming thick layer upon layer yuckiness. Believe me it's ugly and you definitely don't want to live there...ever.

Sometimes situations beyond our control can cause the downhill slide, smack dab into a pit. Things like a life threatening illness, being away from loved ones, the loss of a loved one, divorce, or even the loss of a job. Sometimes it's not even anything major at all; perhaps just the accumulation of an infinite mountain of disappointments, hurts,  & emotional pain. What ever the catalyst might be, suddenly the ground beneath our feet starts shifting, getting soft, squishy. We start to lose our footing and before we know it, we are knee deep in quicksand, sliding out of control into the gaping hole of the pit.

Other times we are pushed by someone into the pit. Maybe someone is threatened, intimidated or jealous of us. To make themselves look and feel better causes them to react and take out their frustrations on us by literally pushing or shoving us into the pit. They feel justified, because their needs were met. and we are left wounded and broken in the bottom of the pit.

Finally, the last way to get in a pit is the absolute worse. We choose to go there on our own. We take a flying leap, tuck our knees up, wrap our arms around our legs and "cannon ball" jump right dab smack into the deepest, darkest part. Whoa...though it seems unbelievable it's true. Can you ever recall a dark time in your life when you wanted to just run away from it all and never come back? Well, there is a path that will take you there, but it will ultimately lead you straight into the pit.

The irony is that "pit dwellers" seldom recognize that they have started living in a pit. it's like a two way mirror; others can see into the dark side, but those inside have blinders on, unable to see how miserable they really are.  In fact most "pit dwellers" can become very resourceful in camouflaging  their pit. First they make it pretty; paint the walls their favorite color, hang up pretty curtains (over the non-existent windows), put furniture into place ( a"pit group") is a good choice here, then sit back and make themselves comfortable.
Before you know it their pit has become very comfortable; too comfortable to be exact. Now the pit has become their comfort zone, their safety net and the scary thing is they like it here. The enemy of our mind even offers us "specials"; "free room additions" ~ to encourage to take up permanent residency there. What we really see is only a distorted view of how messed up our lives really are, like the wavy mirrors in a fun house.

But I am here to say that there is hope beyond the pit. and even though the walls of the pit seem thick and inpenatratable, they are really paper thin. (we live in prisons of our own making with imaginary bars) There are people on the other side of the wall waiting to help pull you out, but the first step is recognition. Look around your pit (no matter how you spruce it up) it is really a deep dark hole that is emotionally crippling you. Recognize it for what it is; it ain't the Ritz Carlton, baby.

Once you recognize it for what it really is, you are really stepping put of denial. Acknowledging the pit is actually the first step in getting out of the pit. Second, pick up a shovel and start digging your way out. Oh yeah, there's always a shovel in the pit. Once you pick up the shovel, the next step is reaching out and allowing someone you trust to help you. (they will offer encouragement & support, but you have to do the digging) Next find a network or support group of trusted individuals who will provide you with the necessary tools you'll need to dig & climb your way out. ( an excellent source of help is Celebrate Recovery.com.
A ministry designed to support you with your hurts, needs, & habits and hang ups. Help is always a phone call away. Do not allow pride or fear to prevent you from calling and asking for help.

This is a new year, and a blessed one at that. I pray that we be on guard and aware that the enemy wants us to continue to live in fear and oppression. I for one, would rather be emotionally living in "the Penthouse Suite". with abundant joy, peace, hope, faith & love. This is my prayer for you too; to find hope in these uncertain times, to find peace in the midst of chaos, to find joy in the midst of adversity, and unconditional love in a world that it starving for it.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Broken Vase

Today I came home to find that my favorite vase lay broken on an end table. Nobody was home, so I don't know how it could have broken. Funny, just yesterday I had carefully cleaned & shined it, and just a few days ago I put it on said table replacing the Christmas Nativity Scene I had just packed away.  Now this vase has survived a 750 mile move from the midwest to the south, so why it just ups and breaks today it a great mystery to me.

When I think about it, my life reminds me a lot of that favorite vase: sometimes I'm just standing strong, looking good, when all of a sudden I've fallen down (or knocked down) and it feels like my world as I know it shattered.

Last year was a year of loss for me. No, not earth shattering, but loss just the same; the loss of a job, the loss of a marriage, each painful in itself to hurl me spiraling into a place where I begin the question why why why?  I know that this place is dark and lonely and I cannot stay here.

My favorite vase can easily be replaced: my job, not so easy in this economy, and my marriage?  All I can say is that it was not in vain if I have learned some valuable life lessons from the mistakes that we both made.
( on the funny side~they say that marriages are made in heaven ~ but so are thunder and lightning.)

My vase has served it's purpose; it's provided me with years of enjoyment; likewise my job and my marriage. ( not all perfect~ but lots of good as well)

So whatever breaks in your life today, know that there is life after broken vases, loss of jobs and broken marriages.  And even if vases, jobs and marriages can't be repaired, know that tomorrow will bring a brand new day.