Independence over relationship

Somehow my entire adult life, I have been striving to achieve independence. Independence from my father, independence from debt, independence from food, and independence from men. Now please attempt to take those as they are intended which is a stand of strength, confidence, and accomplishment (not that I was trying to be an island or hide away in a cave). So the decisions I currently make are all based on the intent to further my independence, to prove that I can DO IT myself. In the past I have found myself to be quite competitive in this department, which has led to quite the conflict with most of the men in my life.  Which at the time I found fun, enriching, and exciting; for the men NOT SO MUCH. 

I believe I have generally been driven to  be that capable, confident woman who can live out in the real world and survive. Not necessarily by myself, but that I can do the things I need to do when they need doing. And in my humble opinion and the opinion of some of my trusted advisors; I haven’t done to shabby. I have a job that is in the field of profession I was seeking (not perfect but about 75% there). I live in a house with roommates where I manage the finances, pay the bills, and keep the lights on (now the cable is a completely different story-hee hee hee). I am striving to get my finances under control and I will be debt free (except my student loan) in less than a year. My food is beginning to see the signs of management and control, but alas I am working on it (some days are better than others). Each of these things I have done myself-the independent woman. I have reached out for prayer, support, help, connections, ideas, and a ride from time to time; but in my mind it was still done myself.

So the idea of releasing my independence over my life is a completely foreign, abstract thought that has no place in reality. The idea that this whole time I have been working towards a counter productive goal seems just silly and completely off balance. As I continue my trek through the book, The Shack, I find myself in a state of confused agreement. Why is it that when I read that independence takes us away from God and out of relationship; I admit I was dumbfounded? The idea that this goal of independence in my life, in ALL aspects of my life, has taken me out of relationship with God and maybe even out of relationships with others, has my psyche chasing its tail. It really began when I read:

“When you chose independence over relationship, you became a danger to one another.  Others became objects to be manipulated or managed for your own happiness.  Authority, as you usually think of it, is merely the excuse the strong ones use to make others conform to what they want.  In your world the value of the individual is constantly weighed against the survival of the system-political, economic, social, or religious.  One… are easily sacrificed for the good and ongoing existence of that system.  Unencumbered by structure and stress to simply be in relationship with me and one another.  If you had truly learned to regard one another’s concerns as significant as your own, there would be no need for hierarchy. Broken humans center their lives around things that seem good to them but will neither fill them nor free them.  They are addicted to power, or the illusion of security that power offers.  When a disaster happens, those same people will turn against the false powers they trusted.  In their disappointment, either they become softened toward me or they become bolder in their independence.”

How is it that this seems so DIFFERENT than anything I have ever heard, but rings so true to my core. Maybe this is why so many people speak of this book’s value. The idea that independence translates so quickly to manipulation caught me off guard. I have this EXTREMELY negative aversion to the concept of manipulation in word and in deed. But the more I am becoming aware of my surroundings the more I am realized I am manipulated every day without my consent (between the internet and my television not to mention my well-intentioned friends, I am beginning to wonder how much the marketing machine is winning). So if I am independent, I am manipulating and managing people for MY own happiness. That sounds so vulgar and cruel. It sounds controlling and deceptive. It represents something I had strived my whole life not to be.

It even becomes a stronger thought when he writes of hierarchy because that is something I have learned to trust. Official political, business, or even church levels of authority is to be respected and honored because that is how you (we) know who is right. My goodness this sounds familiar. It doesn’t just stand in the way of the circle of relationship, it really does put the will of one over another. But some how I always believed that is how things NEEDED to be in order for us as people to work together at ALL. 

Some days it is amazing to read new ideas and thoughts on the world or even ones own perspective, but other days it just makes me think I have been doing this life thing all wrong.  So how do I make such a significant change to things?  Am I the only one who finds this fascinating and disturbing all at the same time?

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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?