Hold On…Just a Little Longer

It seems like it’s been a lifetime since I last talked to you and in some ways it truly has been. So much in my life has changed and then changed again, so although there are lots of words waiting in the wings, I’m not really sure where to begin with all of it. There is a huge lesson in all of it though and that is, just when you think you cannot bear to deal with even one more thing, one more thing comes along and you fight your way through it. You take one more step toward your belief in yourself being re-established. You take one more step away from the expectations of others. It’s a scary place to be sometimes. Standing far, far outside the relative safety of your comfort zone and all that it entails.

As you take those first tentative baby steps, you find yourself having to hold on through one more mind bending explosion of disbelief. Hold onto all those emotions you’re feeling for just one more minute that turns into one more hour and one more day. Eventually, the days turn into weeks and then months have gone by with no sign of a light at the end of this journey. Your comfort zone is now far removed and you’re no longer sure it ever really was your zone of comfort. Rather it was a place in life where you simply settled because that’s what you thought you were supposed to do. That’s the place you were supposed to be. That’s the place where it was best for all concerned if you just planted yourself and did not budge at all.

I would’ve never thought of running as something I was meant to do, or something I was supposed to do and certainly not something that was implanted in me to do. I’d always despised it before. Somehow though, running became my peace of mind and even that was taken from me and I found myself second guessing its necessity. Until the headaches and insomnia returned in full force. Oh yes my friends! Some people turn to drugs and alcohol or prescription medication to alleviate the stress of life and aid in their sleep cycles. I had been on prescription headache relief and sleep aids for two years before I really got serious with the amount of miles I ran every week. Once my mileage became a nice steady base of 30 miles a week it was like a veil was lifted, the insomnia was there one day and all of a sudden it was just gone. I could sleep! The headaches went away with only a few stragglers who held on…

Hold on for one more month. Do whatever you need to do. Tie a knot in that rope you’re holding onto for dear life and pray that it’s strong enough to keep you safe. Pray that it’s strong enough to keep you from tumbling back down into the hole you’ve spent these months crawling out of. Granted, it was a hole that I helped dig. Every time I turned my back on what I felt was right. Every time I compromised the boundaries I’d established for myself and our family. Every time I allowed someone in my life, an important someone no less, to make me feel as though balancing between my needs and that of the family was a selfish act. Is it selfish to take care of oneself? I say not! Everything that I’ve learned in the last 28 years of parenting has taught me that in order to be the BEST parent I can be I must take care of myself first.

What is it about being a mother that makes it okay for someone to come along and tell you that what you are doing is not enough? You are not enough. You are selfish. You cannot take time away from the “family” to replenish your soul because it’s not right. You cannot spend time with others who are of a like mind because they’re not your family and the entirety of your focus must be on just your family to the exclusion of all else. Oh, and just for good measure, while you’re being repeatedly told that these are all selfish acts, you have to put on this act of perfection for others. Nobody would believe you if you told them that you live with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Once the doors close and any temporary residents depart, the mask comes off, the joker goes away and the coldness arises from the depths. Sounds dramatic I know, but that makes it no less true. Hold on.

Just hold on. That’s what running ultras has taught me. Every mountain eventually tops out and then you are coasting back down again. When your legs tell you that they cannot possibly take another step that they’re too tired, you have to fight that feeling and keep moving. I had to keep moving forward and break out of the set expectations that were before me. Breaking out of those expectations meant breaking vows I’d made to God and that was a big deal to me. When one makes a vow to God you don’t simply break it without a lot of deep reflection and conversations with your God. How could I cleave our family in two and cause a huge disruption in our lives? Many nights of fitful sleep over the course of several years. I asked for guidance and none appeared. I prayed for strength and I received more trials.

On one particular day there was a moment when it all reached a very anti-climactic breaking point and I knew it was over. I prayed for a method to help me begin the process and within days I had my answer. The method was provided. I knew in that moment and every moment since that this action of breaking my vows was acceptable in the eyes of my God. You can call it coincidental or whatever you want to call it. I held on some more. This was just the beginning and it was not going to be without pain. How ironic is it that when you ‘fall in love’ there’s no pain with the butterflies in your belly, but when you find yourself disliking the person you were supposed to love through ‘thick and thin’ there is so much pain you’re not quite sure where it all comes from.

Pain. I learned all about this facet of life from a very early age and every step along my journey has only taught me more information about it. How deeply you can feel pain before it knocks out your other senses. How much pain you can tolerate before you just become numb to it all. Running taught me that pain is really an issue of mind over matter. Put it out of your mind then it no longer matters. Think about something else other than the pain and before you know it – you no longer feel the pain you once felt. This journey through the divorce process was very similar. There were days when I was in so much pain I did not know how I could possibly continue to move forward. I second guessed every single decision made.

Yes. I second guessed the decision. For those of you who know me personally this may come as a shock. Maybe, just maybe, I was overreacting. Maybe the problem was me and my way of thinking. There’s truth there you see. I was growing, branching out into other endeavors of life and felt as though I was not able to breathe or move without asking first for permission. Maybe comfortable was better than this struggle. If I just apologized and agreed with all that he’d wanted me to be, maybe we could save our marriage…..again. There was another side of me though that would not accept this. If our marriage was meant to be saved it would take two people wanting to do so not just one and I’d seen not a single sign from him that he was desirous of saving it.

Again there’s the correlation between running and life. Second guessing yourself and failing to follow through with your plan which then results in failing to accomplish the mission you set out for. I set the course, maintained the course and followed my heart as well as my mind along the way without deviation. It hurt. There were days when the pain was immeasurable. I missed……..wait. WHAT? What did I miss? The relative ease and comfort of knowing exactly what to expect from that particular rollercoaster is what I missed. Going around and around in circles, upside down and feeling as though my insides were being torn out by way of my heart is what I missed? Oh, there were good times too, but often they were simply bandaids to cover the wounds that had sunk in deep like a fish hook.

It’s over now. Finally. I can breathe and now learn what there is to discover about this person I’ve become and am becoming. There will still be pain and there are many more lessons left to learn, but I’m looking forward to the road ahead with our daughters. I’m looking forward to demonstrating for them that when you truly love someone there are sacrifices that need to be made, but they should never be of self belief. Hold on and be strong. Hold your course and love yourself enough to know that there is more to this life than what exists inside this little bubble of a comfort zone. Step outside of it and see the entirety of the world you’ve been looking at through your single, little window.

Life goes on….

Peace

~TLT

 

Pawns in King Solomon’s Court

I have much on my mind this day, and the words seem stuck in my head as though they’re struggling to make it out of their tangled maze – though the results they dread. Children are a gift from God above. They’re given to us for whatever reasons He has seen fit. As we go through the motions of our lives, the little ones are often caught in the crossfire of mixed emotions and childish games. These little people have their very own thoughts and feelings though and are not meant to be used as pawns to cause pain to those we see fit to harm.

King Solomon of the Bible told the story about the selfishness of human beings who look out for their own best interest, rather than for the best interest of the child. We’re to guard them with our lives, hold them up to the highest esteem and keep them safe while they follow their own dreams. As parents we ought not to put them in a situation where they must make a choice to love one more than the other. There is naught that breaks my heart more than to watch the actions of a child who is so confused by the situation they believe in order to love their father, they cannot love their mother.

It would be the same feeling if the situation was reversed and a misguided child was under the assumption that in order to love his mother, he had to abandon his father. As parents it is our responsibility to love our children unconditionally and with a consistent nature so that they feel secure enough they know they don’t have to choose. I imagine myself in the shoes of the kings court….ready to sacrifice the child to the afterlife..in order to prevent them from being used as a tool to cause pain. I’d rather give up my own life and sacrifice my state of happiness than to make my children choose that which they should have no business choosing. They’re only children with very little thought of the future and have only a small idea of what they’ll be losing.

Children are not meant to make major life choices. Hence the reason why we’re not legally able to vote until we’re 18. They’re not capable of choosing what is the best for them and the remainder of their lives when they’re under the age of majority. This is the reason why children under the age of 15 or 16 are not able to drive at all and even once they do reach a given age, they must be supervised by an adult. We have to hold them up and make the right choices FOR them until they’re able to do so for themselves. It is so sad to me that grown people use children to seek an advantage over another. I didn’t choose to bring babies into this world to mother just so I could use them as pawns in a twisted game of chess. We’re adults supposedly….who should do what is best.

Until next time friends

~Peace

TLT

To be THANKFUL…..thoughts on what that means

I read a book about 10 days ago. This is not a big deal ordinarily, since I tend to devour books like the air I breathe. It’s not unheard of for me to finish two novels in one day – depending of course, on the type of day it may be. Anyhow, I digress…This book I read by Ann Voskamp titled One Thousand Gifts really answered some questions in my mind that I didn’t even know were pinging around inside my head.

She begins the book with a poetic description of her birth in all of its glory and in the next chapter telling the reader about the death of her sister when they were just small children. Her poetic manner of writing sits very well with me and I found myself eating up the pages, despite the fact that she discusses a subject that is often difficult to get through when one is reading,  unless perhaps you are a devout Christian. I am talking about religion. This is not your ordinary Christian missive however, but something else altogether. She discusses the fine art of being THANKFUL.

I am not just referring to the quick nod of thanks we give for the roof over our heads and the food in our stomach but also for all those things that bring us pain; the hard lessons of life that can either break us down to depths never before experienced, or lift us up into the highest of highs. The author talks about looking into her mirror and being brutally honest with her self evaluation. Seeing all those things in herself, both outwardly as well as the inner workings of her self that she finds lacking. All the ways she has somehow failed to be the person she thought, at some point, she thought she ought to be. This resonates deep within my own spirit as I have struggled in the last several years to feel successful. I have accomplished all these feats and yet, sometimes it feels like there is something I am not doing, a task I have yet to complete….a hole that is supposed to be filled somehow that remains empty.

It is not as if I have not lived life because I promise you dear reader, I have lived life from giving of my time to charities, completing service in the military, 25 years of mothering 7 children, athletic endeavors of miles upon miles of roads and paths traveled, thousands of books read, travel to foreign countries, mention in various honor societies…….blah, blah…blah. Yet, it all feels like it is devoid of something important. Like there is something or someone I am missing or have missed. All this has been done……and yet I am EMPTY?

The author calls it the legacy of the Garden. She is referring to the Garden of Eden where the very first sin took place and gave us all this craving for more, despite how full our lives may be we desire MORE. Ann Voskamp tells us that our fall from grace occurred because we are not satisfied with the fruit that God provides and instead we hunger for something more….This more is what drives us and has driven our planet to the brink. Look at our population as a whole and listen to anyone over the age of 35 talk about the ‘younger generation’ and how ungrateful they are. It’s like a disease that has gone systemic.

The biting of the apple in the Garden of Eden (whether literally or not) changed the way we see. The devil said to Adam and Eve, ‘In the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened…’ (Genesis 3:5 NASB). Our eyes were already opened though and we could see the perfect love of God and a world overflowing with goodness. We were fooled into thinking that there was something MORE and we were missing out on opportunities or other visions we had not yet beheld. They bit the fruit off the tree of life and in that instant they saw everything, except God. We see a world of loss, scarcity and extreme injustice and prejudice.

We become hungry so we eat and feel full…….yet empty. We are still looking at the fruit of the material world expecting it to fill our emptiness rather than looking to God to provide for us as he always has….There is one of the keys for me….God has always provided for me. There is no way I would have made it through everything I have ever lived through if He had not been there. I have often asked and found myself trying to research in order to understand, “Why”. Why did I make it? What kept me going when so many others quit trying? How did I get to this point in life when so many I know got lost in the pain? God was there and is still there through all of it.

My friends know me pretty well and I am not someone who throws around words like Christian and I don’t speak about the Bible or its content all that much, though I do BELIEVE that there is a God and that we all have a purpose for being on this earth. There is a reason why we meet the people we do at the time they enter into our lives. There’s a reason we enter into the life lessons we do – sometimes over and over again. We have to get it right. We have to learn the lesson before we can move onto the next one. Like we have to learn how to crawl before we walk, we have to learn these other lessons in order to be ready for better opportunities or for people to walk into (or out of) our lives.

I was listening to a random segment from Bishop T.D Jakes on YouTube last night with all of this on my mind and what he was preaching about was God waiting on us, where we are at right this minute….so he can propel us forward with His nourishment. He does not just stand by while we suffer with our ‘soul holes’ but tells us that if we believe, have faith in HIM and are THANKFUL for all He has given – He has so much more to give us. We only have to be thankful rather than acting like spoiled children with our hands out saying, “more, more, MORE!”

To be thankful for all we have does not sound like a difficult thing…until our boat is rocked by stormy waters. That, my friends, is when we find out where we truly stand in our faith, with friends and within our own stormy, monkey minds….

I have only skimmed the surface of where my heart is leading these words so I will let this sit and give it to you raw and uncut as always. There is more to follow….If you dare.

Until next time….

Peace