You are one of the strongest women I know…

Was received as both a compliment and a contradiction quite some time ago. But this statement likes to make a reappearance in my brain from time to time to remind me it was said. To fill my emotions with the security I felt the day it was mentioned. To almost tawnt me into the ring of life with an “are you chicken?” kind of tone. I know there are times I exhibit strength. I know there are times I have been stronger than others. I know I have pushed through certain types of pain that would melt the average individual. But all this pales in comparison to the massive list, I have in my mind of the times I have been anything but strong. Where I have been weak, weaker, the weakest. I give in to what others want, I sacrifice a dream because of fear, I look the other way because I don’t want the hassle, or I am afraid of what people will say or think of my choice.  So in the picture of the tipping scales, most of the time, I do not SEE myself as STRONG. So when I come face to face with one of my battles, I hear the second part of the conversation:

“…Are you going to let THIS define you?  Are you going to let this one thing defeat you?  This is nothing, this is minor, this is such a minute part of life; I cannot believe for an instant you are not strong enough to overcome it, defeat it, master it.” 

And there is was… a statement of BELIEF in who I am as a person.  A statement that reminded me of how much BIGGER and HUGER I have made this whole food, exercise, weight issue in my life.  Why isn’t this as straight forward as every other challenge I have undertaken?  Why has this habit, lifestyle, perspective taken up sacred untouchable territory in my subconscious?

For me it is simple… because I allow it.  I have decided that there are enough excuses, reasons, allowances for me to be this way, eat this way, live this way that it is OK to given in, give up, throw in the towel at a moments amount of pain.  People will understand, its okay, sometimes its just too hard, life just can’t always be won.  Everyone has something they struggle with.  But I must say I am tired of this being MY THING… I am ready for a new challenge.  I am ready for God to reveal to me something ELSE in my character I can master and correct and improve.  So no more excuses, no more permission, no more reasons it is acceptable to give in.

Make decisions now for the outcomes you want later.  So I am making decisions now that will give me the outcome later… In the center of my decision making process is the fear of pain, embarrassment, rejection, humiliation.  And I have determined that it is better to hide behind the physical boundary of weight than to deal with the world without it.  I heal my pain with food, I reward my pleasure center with food, I hide away in my room away from life and activity for fear of the pain mistakes bring, judgement holds, and life distributes.  But that is not the life I want, that is not the life I can have, that is not the life I am meant to experience.

Only one way to change direction… change actions.  It is time to build character, strength training for the soul, kick that belief out of command central of my feelings, and do things that hurt.  Do things that will stretch my heart, mind, & soul to new places.  I’ve tried easy, I’ve tried grace, I’ve tried one step at a time; but now its time to take command of my life.  Tell my inner self it’s time to get in line soldier… because we are going to the high places, we are going to change our name, we are going to do as the Shepherd says because the time of living as Much Afraid is over…

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You be the judge

As I continue my way through The Shack, I am continually surprised by the ideas and concepts that grab my attention. Under the justification of self-preservation, being alert, or just calling it like it is; so many times I find myself in this exact position. In the exact defense of my snap judgements or firm judgments of the people I see and meet.

“You have already proven yourself very capable [of judging], even in our short time together. And besides, you have judged many throughout your life. You have judged the actions and even the motivations of others as if you somehow knew what those were in truth. You have judged the color of skin and body language and body odor. You have judged history and relationships. You have even judged the value of a person’s life by the quality of your concept of beauty. By all accounts, you are quite well-practiced in the activity.”

WOW… What a statement. And it clearly speaks to me in that punch to the guy kind of convicting way.  I have made judgements and decisions, comments and conceptions all based on my gut reaction, my emotional feelings, and my eyes sight; but in all honesty how much of that is truth. How many times have I had that conversation YEARS later with a friend or co-worker that revealed some deep dark secret about their first impression of me? Or my feelings and thoughts of them? At which point, we have a great grand laugh and joke about how good our friendship is now and continue to tell the stories that make us who we are.

But in those moments of revelation is there not an ounce of concern or worry? Do people not think for just a second about what a judgemental their friend is for thinking those things? How about the idea that if these truths about perception had been revealed in those early moments, the friendship would probably have never formed?

Where oh where did this come from?  Why do I do this? <– My question for EVERYTHING I do that I don’t like.  So I search my heart, my life experience, my mind, and my feelings.  At times I wonder are there they reasons, excuses, justifications or something more dramatic like genes or upbringing (nature and nurture – gotta love it.) Yet for me I find its deepest, loudest voice is found in fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of rejection, and fear of failure. That if I can not understand it then it will hurt me.  If I cannot put it in its box, I cannot predict it and prepare for what it will do.  If it is not like me then it makes me uncomfortable.  If I do know KNOW what it is capable then I cannot protect myself, because I NEED protecting… I always need protecting… if I don’t do it no one else will.  (There’s a thought for  future blog dissection. )

As much as I would love to live in that exotic place with my gold crown shines beautifully, I must be honest and truly search for why I cling to the need to continue as I always have (Brent knows how much I like Cleopatra).  Evaluating, observing, deciphering, determining, planning, perceiving, and in all it does translate into a form of Judgement.  And where does the first glances of innocent first impression fleeting thoughts turn into brick hard judgement?  At what point, do I insert the wall of mistrust because of a statement, joke, look, gesture, or story someone has shared?  When does my perception of their person become a judgement in my mind against that person? 

This da Judge???

And even worse at what moments in time do I then say those things out loud to another person, passing it off as truth with a capital T?  For then they accept my judgment or decision on that person and apply it to their behavior or interactions with that person.  And in the blink of an eye a fleeting thought, hurt feeling, misunderstood statement, or giving gesture gone awry has turned into this pile of judgement against a person. 

So I am taking a couple of days to dig deeper into my thoughts surrounding judgment and where it comes from in me.  And even share some of the things I hear in my mind when I do it, not in the form of justification, but in an effort of self-disclosure.

Life is Pain, Highness.

Begins a quote from one of my favorite movies of all time.  Not because it is a romance with all the GOOSHY ICKY girlie feelings in it, but because it tells an incredible story.  And in that story there are some of the finest quotes ever spoken, bit dramatic, well just remember who the writer of the blog is.  Yet as I continue my ever so slow read through “The Shack” I am finding that there are certain pieces of perspective that are triggering parts of my own world view.  And this day it was the “Here come Da Judge” chapter. 

In this season of life, I am struggling with meeting new people, believing their input, trusting the sincerity, and leaning on them for support.  Now each of these things are at different levels of relationship (I understand), but my heart’s goal is to have true community and be able to lean on people for support.  In turn also be there to provide support emotionally, physically, and financially as much as I can.  So at times the first thing is completely bogging down the ability to accomplish the end goal.  For some reason the ability to just relax and enjoy the newness of a potential friendship is clouded by the fear of OH SO MANY THINGS.  So in my giant list of REASONS why I do not step out and reach out and initiate just the simplest of HI how are you?  There is this paralyzing wave that over takes me and I am beyond my normal strength to break through it. 

When reading today it occurred me the part that what I fear is the pain.  The potential pain or the fear or experiencing the SAME pain I have in the past.  I worry that these people will do all those things I fear: laugh at me, reject me, ignore me, humiliate me, make fun of me, and yes most importantly LAUGH at me for trying.  Then even deeper is the thought what if these people cannot be trusted?  What if I put in all this effort and energy and they hurt me ANYWAY? What if I believe this is real genuine heartfelt honest to goodness friendship and they abandon me, again.  Again… What a word that is… and it of course launches me into a whole new pile of analysis.  But that one is the heart of this posting ANYWAY. 

Again… Abandoned again… Left Alone again… Even harsher Hurt again… Ignored Again… Rejected Again… Humiliated AGAIN… All of these phrases take me to memories in my head that are specific to some of the most painful, hurtful times in my life.  But amazingly enough these people (most of them) were and are my friends.  The ones at the time I trusted, leaned on, relied on, opened up my deepest of worries and concerns… but they still hurt me.  Not on purpose, not with malicious intent, not to inflict harm.  Yet they hurt me. 

Just recently I had a situation with some of my nearest and dearest friends (at least so my emotions would tell me) and I feel like I trust them with so many parts of my life and soul.  But our exchange was hurtful, their advice biting, and their understanding of my dilemma was completely absent.  Instead I experienced judgement, criticism, unwarranted advice, and condemnation.  It confused my heart, it baffled my emotions, and left me feeling completely depressed and disoriented. 

With that episode firmly lodged in my recent memory, I was confronted with an ugly truth.  They will always hurt you, they will always disappoint you, they will always come up short.  So if my friends that I trust and believe in will, can, and DO hurt me… how is that any different than the strangers I am so afraid of meeting.  How is my perspective in trying to start something new so scary and insurmountable because they can’t be trusted, when really truly no one can be trusted not to hurt me. 

That is not how this world operates, that is not a reasonable expectation in this fallen world of selfish people… myself included. The next thing in realizing that life is pain, highness is to attempt to remedy life inside a world of pain.  How then does someone walk through this life with reasonable expectation of being hurt, but not allowing it to destroy them or deflate them?  How do I embrace the knowledge that pain is coming without being paralyzed by the fear of its coming?

Its JUST A GYM – And Other Exercise Myths

What They Looked Like if there were 20 in a Row

I am reminded of a trap I fell into at the beginning of the year, that hundreds if not thousands of people embrace every year right around the new year.  I joined a Gym.  I know I KNOW what was I thinking?  New years resolution, new body, new energy, or new attitude it is hard to say.  I had been on the food plan about 6 months at that point and I believe I thought that if I could just incorporate a little exercise it would help keep me on track. 

So there I was at the 24 hr fitness SPORT edition looking at what looked like the biggest complex I had ever seen.  Well that’s how it feels until you start to use the gym and then you just feel like a sardine packed into a giant treadmill factory.  Of course it reminds me of how some offices are set up making the people feel like half employees because the cubicles are smaller than an average coat closet and the walls only provide an illusion of sound reduction.  But I wasn’t thinking I would be ONLY using the treadmills.  I mean I had ideas of using the bikes, taking a class, doing some swimming.  I figured if I’m paying for it I will be motivated to go.  So that is the myth all gyms are preying upon, because even though it was my own idea and ambition to join for the convenience, it was the allure of all those options that kept me paying each month despite my non attendance from February to October. 

But let’s return to the scene of the commitment, when I signed up I was assured I would get a tour.  I would have someone I could ask questions to and be guided through all this big bad intimidating equipment.  I opted to WAIT and not pay for the $100/hour trainer because I wanted to see how this was going to affect my budget.  So when I waited until my timing was right, about 2 weeks, I walked in and I was ready for this engagement in the GYM.  But I walked in the door, they swiped my card and when I asked about the tour, not only did they look at me with confusion and irritation; but it took 10 minutes for a non-specialist, non-trainer 12 year old to come to the front to “show me around”.  There was no instruction, there were no questions about what are you interested in, or what do you have questions about.  It was here’s the bank of treadmills (okay that is my word mostly because they literally looked like a set of telephones in an outbound sales office, minus the cubicles).  Here’s the locker room, Upstairs the classroom, and free weights, and the pool is at the end of the hall.  Now there may have been more, but it sure was not what I was expecting and it DEFINITELY did not satisfy my need for direction. 

As I retreated to the safety of the women’s locker room, I was trying to figure out exactly where to start my workout.  I was originally going to just do a simple 30 minute work out on a treadmill… but having walked by the farm with no privacy, protection, or even space from the outside world, I was CONVINCED that was not going to be the choice.  Did I mention that it was 5:30pm on a weeknight?  Shouldn’t that be part of the orientation packet?  Oh by the way, the busiest times are between here and there AND ALL the pretty people who are looking to hook up with each other arrive between 5:15pm – 7:00pm so if you want to feel completely self-conscious and evaluated like a Parade Pony make your entrance during those times.  So NO I would not be making my GYM debut on a treadmill, exercise bike, or elliptical.  That and I forgot the headphones to the iPod, DANG IT!!

Now what?  Trapped in a women’s locker room bathroom stall, I began to ponder the stupidity of this investment.  I had paid my good hard earned money for this place; and I couldn’t get myself to leave the stall.  Yeah JUST a GYM, just a place, JUST a one stop shop for all your exercising needs.  I was beginning to EMBRACE how much of a lie that really was.