Tag Archives: relationships

Moments

I have been troubled recently by how busy I am.  I am not proud of my busyness.  I do not think I am running from anything; I am not trying to avoid anything.  Yes, there is brokenness in me.  I experience acute loneliness, but I do not run from it, or ignore it, or deny it.  Not all of my relationships are what I would like them to be, nor are they all healthy, but I do not think I am running from them either.  If I have had one realization over the last ten months (I’ve had many, but one of the most obvious ones), it is just how very important relationships (family, friends, romance) are, and how incredibly crucial it is for us to enter into them as fully, as brokenly, possible.  We are to fight for them.

Not the point of today’s entry though, however.

My busyness bothers me.  When I picture who I want to be, the woman I feel called to be, my fullest self, I envision a woman with enough time to be spontaneous.  I don’t have that time, currently.  I envision many other things for that version of me, but living a slower life is the one aspect most incongruent with the current version of me (well, the part which bothers me the most).

So this afternoon, I was given a gift of an inconspicuous realization.  With an adorable, almost-two -year old princess on my lap, blowing bubbles and watching them float above the curves of purple bell flowers that I love so much, I realized sometimes a slower lifestyle is not so much in how busy we are, but in the willingness to slow down when the unplanned moment presents itself.  Watching one large bubble in particular float extra gently, with more grace than you would expect for a mere sphere of soap, ascend above the tips of the twilight lavender fairy-skirt flowers, the iridescent magenta orb popped, and then ceased to exist, I realized that in that moment, I was given the gift of a reflecting a bit more of the woman God originally thought up when He thought of me.  It was a beautiful moment of stillness, of buzzing bees, of feeling deeply, intimately loved.

I might not be able to leave my life of busyness right now.  I deeply want too.  But, until that time comes, I am going to start searching for more delicate bubble moments.  Moments to witness the fleeting bubble lives.  Moments to watch the pearl clouds sing the harmony of a luminescent full moon.  Moments to watch the yellow butterfly flitter around, delighting in the freedom of wings after being mere mush, unable to even walk, let alone fly, not so long ago.  Moments to wonder if that flying thing is a gigantic moth, or a bat with antennae.  Moments to delight in the song of the hummingbird, or the enticing fragrance of pine in the early mountain air.  These moments are more valuable than gold, or knowledge, or anything else physical that I might try to hoard.   These moments whisper lyrics of the woman my heart strains for and is being, ever so slowly, whisperingly sung into being.

 

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Be STILL, and KNOW that I am God…

Abide in ME….

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Time Treasure

It is late, and I have had a very long day, and I am in the middle of saying “good-bye” to two very special people who have been a huge part of my over the last five years and “hello” to two others who I suspect will become incredibly special to me as well.  I am in the middle of a whirl-wind of emotions.  Planning a sermon and parties and photo books on top of “normal” life.
I’m ready for things to slow down.  I’m ready for this craziness to end.
But not really, because when it does, I’m that much closer to saying good-bye to my two dear friends.
I’m learning how incredibly precious each and every moment I am given is.  I am realizing that I need to get better at simply enjoying and treasuring life – the crazy times, the heart-wrenching times, the tired times, the wonderful times, the every-day times.  I’m not good at this.  This is something I need to get better at, a gift God has given me that I need to learn to treasure.

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Make or Break

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Relationships make or break life.  I’m serious.

Think about it.  In elementary school – what ruined your day?  It wasn’t if you got an “F” on the spelling test (if it was, your momma and I should have a talk).  It wasn’t if hot lunch was taquitos instead of the French Toast that was on the menu.  It was if you and your friends had problems. (Okay, so keep in mind I’m speaking from a girl’s point of view.  I have no idea about boys.  It might have been earth shattering if you didn’t get to kick the ball at recess if you’re a boy.)  But if you’re a girl, than you know that the worst thing that could happen was getting in a fight with your friend group.  You would go home in tears and even Mom’s pudding wouldn’t make things better.  The same was true of middle school, except the fights got nastier and lasted longer and were generally more public…in a quiet, whispery sort of way.  High school pretty much was a repeat of middle school, except there was less fighting (hopefully).  But, in high school, there was the additional stress of “boyfriend”.  Or lack of “boyfriend”.

And then there’s college.  Your roommate (or roommates) make or break college.  If you and your roommate get along, if you guys know how to talk stuff out, and actually deal, and know how to give each other space, but also how to get into each other’s space when needed, your year will be awesome.  I don’t care if you have the worst classes ever.  You like your roommate, you two click, your year will be good.  On the flip side, if you have the best classes ever, and even make some good friends, but don’t get along with your roommate, your year will be incredibly hard. In.cred.ib.ly. Holding on by the white of your knuckles hard.

And then you get to  “adult” life and relationships take a different tone.  You have work relationships.  And church relationships.  And friendships that have miraculously hung on through the years from college or earlier.  And maybe, even, a husband (or wife).  And those relationships are crazy important too.  Your relationships will make life fun and wonderful, or incredibly stressful and hard.

So, all that to say, take care of your relationships.  Whether they’re romantic or really deep friendships , or even family – take care of them.  Life is SO much more enjoyable when things are going smooth-ish. (even good relationships have bumps – and they should!  Otherwise they don’t grow!)

So, today, on a day when stores are packed with haggard-looking men desperate for the last rose left on the shelf, and the slightly beaten-up box of chocolates, maybe broaden the subject a bit.  Sure, romantic love is fun, and necessary, and it’s not the worst idea in the world to have a day reminding us of that.  BUT, it’s also a good day to look around at the relationships of all types that you have in your life and appreciate them…and maybe polish them up a bit.

Send your friend a text telling them what a great friend they are.  Give your mom (and maybe even your brother) a hug.  Spend a few minutes in quiet, listening to whatever it is God’s been trying to say to you for the last week that you’ve been too busy to listen to.  Buy that single, red rose for the one your heart adores.  Take the time to have hard conversations, and to say you’re sorry, and to just listen.

Relationships make or break your life.  So take the time to take care of them.

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“Once Upon A Time” instead of “Happily Ever After”

From the long, flowing, perfect hair that looks gorgeous even when wind-blown, to the teeny-tiny ten-inch circumference waists, to their dashing princes that come to their rescue and fall deeply, madly, head-over-well-shoed heals in love with their fair damsels, Disney Princesses have it made.  Or, we think they do.
As young girls we in the Western World watch their stories over and over, memorizing lines and songs, learning from a young age to dream of or wait for a Prince Charming that will come, rescue a girl from whatever her current trial is (cleaning her bedroom, doing homework, escaping from an emotionally unavailable father) and whisk her away on his white horse into the sunset – into their “Happily Ever After”.  And life will be perfect.  Any troubles will be gone – forever.  They will love each other perfectly.  He will fulfill any desires and expectations she has, and she will, of course, do the same for him.
In the Christian world, we dream that any sins we struggle with will also be instantly erased the magical minute Prince Charming or Disney Princess walks into our own story.  And so we create our own fairytale-endings, complete with white dresses, expensive parties, snappy clothing for our princes, and elaborate ceremonies with our kingdoms watching.  Because, after all, what’s not to celebrate?  Everything’s going to be grand now!
If only.
I think it’s about time we recognize that dating, engagements, aren’t an indicator that “Happily Ever After” (aka The Wedding) is about to happen.  “Happily Ever After”, folks, is when we’ve completed our time here, and we enter through those pearly gates (for the record, I have NO idea how gates can be made out of pearl; I’m pretty excited to see those.  Maybe it’s more like mother-of-pearl.  Either way – Gor-GEOUS!!!!).  The wedding is more like “Once Upon A Time”.
“Once Upon A Time” is the beginning (shocker, I know).  Once Upon A Time means there’s a story ahead.  A story full of frustration, hardship, obstacles to overcome, characters to get to know and to say good-bye to, character development, and love – much love.  Any good story has love at its center.  Maybe not romantic love, but love (for something OTHER than self) just the same.
I think maybe, if we start looking at weddings as “Once Upon A Time” expectations would be different, and maybe, more marriages would be saved.
Just sayin’.

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Wimpy King Arthur

Guinevere stood facing the audience, back to her husband, King Arthur (of the Round Table).  In other words – the air was thick with awkward tensions between the two, and the audience was holding its collective breath, waiting to see how King Arthur would respond to Queen Guinevere’s challenge.  She had just told Arthur that she would NOT do as he asked (give Lancelot her handkerchief as a token of her good wishes for the tournament tomorrow), unless, as her King, Arthur commanded her.  And then, she begged him, to not command she give her token to Lancelot, but to him, himself – Arthur (even though he would not be fighting).  The audience could see on Guinevere’s face that she wanted Arthur to admit he was jealous (an accusation she’d previously declared and he’d denied) and command her to give HIM the token of her affection.

Arthur stood there for a moment, staring at his feisty and attention-loving wife’s back and all the air that was puffing up his angry chest, left him as quickly as if he’d been punched in the gut.  You could see the pain and conflict on his face.  He was Arthur, King of the Britons, Leader of the Knights of the Round Table, the most chivalrous, civilized man around.  He was a leader, a manly man.  But when it came to women – most notably his wife – he was a coward.  He could not tell her that he WAS incredibly jealous; he could not command her to only give tokens of affection to him.  He told her to do as she wished, and then walked off.

And Guinevere’s heart broke.

And, in that moment, Camelot began to fall.

There’s a reason women – especially the good ones – have this stereotype of going for the “bad guys”.  It’s because there’s this sense about them that they’ll fight for us, and for their relationships – and that desire was built into women.  We want a man who will fight for us (dragons and school-yard bullies and the man behind the counter who is being a jerk to us while we’re in the process of renewing our driver’s license).  And we want a man who will fight for our relationship (even if that means the occasional fight WITH us).

Unfortunately, there aren’t many men out there like that.  Some hide behind “manly” jobs – like firefighting or being a policeman or fighting for someone else’s rights in the courtroom…but when it comes to something closer to home, like their own relationships, they don’t fight.  They don’t say what needs to be said, or do what needs to be done.

And this breaks our hearts.

Now, not EVERY man is a coward.  There are some out there that will say the hard things (gently) in a relationship, in order to keep it healthy.  There are some men that will fight our dragons (whether they’re actual dragons, or simply stubborn whimsies in our heads).  But those men are few and far between.  But they are worth waiting for.

So wait for them, women.

Don’t give up, he’s coming for you – in God’s perfect timing (that’ s part of fighting for you too).   But make sure, before you hand over your heart to him, that he’s not faking being an actual man – hiding behind a manly career or a great relationship with God.  Make sure he’ll fight for you, and for your relationship.

And men, speak up.  Fight!

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No Great Expectations

He’ll notice the non-existent tear in the corner of your eye, and ask what’s wrong.   She’ll have your favorite dinner, perfectly prepared, waiting, steaming hot on the table when you come home.  He’ll intuitively know when to bring you a rose for no reason.  She’ll know the perfect words to say to remind you of the man you are.  She’ll always be beautiful.  He’ll always be able to fix the leaky sink.
She’ll know when to take you out for coffee and just listen, and she’ll know when to interrupt.  He’ll know when to get you to come over and play X-Box and to let you kick his butt.
She’ll know when to hug you and put a band-aide on your owy.  He’ll know when he needs to call you Princess and scare the teenage boy cowering behind you – mostly because he wants both you and the boy to know how very special you are.
She’ll glare at you whenever you pass in the hallway.  He’ll call you names behind your back.
He’ll ask you why you didn’t try harder on the test…again.  She’ll give you slack because she always does, and let you get by with it again…this time.
He’ll take care of everything, make sure the world runs smoothly, make sure none of the children go hungry or get hurt.

I once had a friend tell me that he was working at not having any expectations in his relationships.  And I thought he was crazy. You need expectations, right?  Otherwise people will walk all over you; otherwise people will use you.  Otherwise you’re the only one giving in relationships.  Otherwise you’re directionless.

But, the longer I live, and the more relationship experience I have, the more I realize how wise my friend is.  Expectations in relationships – romantic, friends, parents or simply someone in your social circle, or even of God  – are incredibly damaging.

When we think we know how someone should react, or what they should do, we limit them to our standards.  No, seriously, think about it.  If you have a certain idea of how your best friend is supposed to treat you, when she doesn’t it, it’s incredibly painful for you.  And you probably get angry, because she didn’t do what you needed to do; she didn’t do her job as best friend.  Shouldn’t she know better?  So you punish her (get angry, pout, stop talking, or simply hold it against her until you can’t hold it in any longer) until she gets the hint and starts acting the way YOU want her to.
And when you carry those ideas around with you, you’re really hurting your friendship.  You’re not allowing her to be her*.  And, you’re saying that she has to act a certain way, when maybe she never thought of that, or maybe she was trying to do something better for you, or, well who knows.  The point being, you had expectations of her, and now that she didn’t follow through, some part of you that was banking on her doing that, is incredibly hurt.

See, the thing is, our expectations are one way we exercise control over people.  We expect them to be, or do, or look a certain way.  And we get hurt and furious when they don’t.

The same is true of God.  When we have expectations of who He is, or what He’s like, or what He should or can do, we limit Him, and we try to control Him.  Our expectations dictate what we think His actions should be.  But the crazy thing is – He’s GOD.  As Job found out – who are we to say what He’s like, what He should do, or question His letting children in Africa go hungry?  I know, I sound super shallow saying that.  I sound like callous, like I don’t care.  But I do.  So I do everything a poor, broke white girl in the US can do.  But I don’t get angry at God.  He’s God.  He is GOOD.  He has a plan.  My expectations of Him only damage our relationship.
So I let God do what God does best – be God.  I trust that He’s going to stick with who He is, the solid truths I know about Him.  And so I’m just along for the ride.

The thing is, we think that we can’t give up those expectations.  That somehow releasing those expectations of the people around us will allow them to be less than who we need them to be.  Or that the need that they sorta-almost-kinda fill will be completely neglected in us.  And it’s painful.  It’s harmful.  But the thing I’ve discovered is that holding grudges for expectations not met, for keeping those expectations when it’s obvious that person is NEVER going to live up to them, is actually incredibly more painful and harmful than if we were to let them go.
If you let them go – if you let the expectations go – than you allow that person to be who they really are.  You’ve given them freedom.  And who knows but that in their freedom they now have the room to be who you needed them to be – even if you didn’t realize you needed them to be that.  And somehow, in your release of your expectations of them – you allow God to step in and fill the spots that your friend or family couldn’t.   And that’s when healing begins.

We all have expectations.  Boyfriends and girlfriends have expectations of each other.  Husbands and wives have expectations of each other.  Daughters have expectations of their daddies.  Best friends have expectations of each other.  We all (whether or not we realize it) have expectations of God.  Let them go.

Let them go.  See what your relationships look like if you allow that person (or God) to simply be who they are.  See what your relationships look like if you allow God to fill the needs in you that right now, you’re expecting someone else to fill (and they’re failing miserably at).

I’m betting your pain will be dramatically less, and the relationship, over time, will get healthier than you’ve ever imagined.   Granted, it will be incredibly hard.  It’s natural for humans to have expectations of each other. It’s just what we do.  It’s part of how we make sense of the world around us.  And it’s part of how we kill each other.

So now I’m striving to live as my friend does –  relationships with No Expectations.

*Now, there are times we need to confront (gulp) our friends or family or even God when they really aren’t doing something we need them to do (or are doing something we need them NOT to do).  But if we hold expectations of how they should act – that confrontation is an angry confrontation.  While, if we didn’t have those expectations, that confrontation is a gentle one, one of humility and need.

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