”No problem can be solved from the same consciousness that created it” – Albert Einstein
Nothing beats a failure like a good-ole-fashioned try right? Wrong. For some of us, this route has been a pain-staking journey that has led us on paths we would rather not remember. As relieving as the inability to not recall our past may sound, we should equally understand we simply cannot forget. Not because we don’t want to, but because we cannot. The intertwining weave of brokenness, pain, hurt, anger, emptiness and even spouts of joy has found its way deep into the pockets of our souls, which won’t allow us to simply erase what was.
This does not necessarily have to equate to a present life of misery, unforgiveness and shame, but it certainly can and has been the story for many, including present company for many years. For many years I was that guy who allowed the past to dictate the future. As much as I tried, I was unable to break the negative cycles that seemed to torment my every move and relationship. I was doing the right things, so I thought.
I went to counseling, prayed to God and spoke to trusted friends, however one important part was missing. That missing piece was my inability to get past myself.
Often times when we blow it in life, we tend to label ourselves as the biggest losers on the face of the earth. This frame of mind can become impenetrable even towards God, the wisest of words and sound counsel. A hardened heart cannot hear.
So there we are, living our lives as if nothing has gone awry. We smile when we’re suppose to, talk about the kids as if they have no problems and as for our relationships – well they couldn’t be better we say. In most cases the ones we are sharing these so-called truths with, reciprocates the effort with the greatest of ease. Sound familiar?
Although we may repeat moments like this effortlessly over and over again, one thing holds true, whether we want to admit it or not. Once we have shared and walked away, something inside of us tends to feel more alone than before we spoken. The reality of our empty words consumes the moment and we become saddened with the idea of being the only one who feels this way, even though we are not alone.
Change never come easy, especially when that change means the life that we know today may never be the same again. Our desire to hold on to what we know often overshadows the ugly reality that we live in and usually feels more comfortable than the gaping hole and dissatisfaction that we are currently living in.
What if it could be different? What if there were a way to stop living behind the veil of perfection and just be you? The you that cry’s when he/she is sad, the you who admits imperfection at the perfect time, the you who stands against injustice, even when it’s unpopular in your community and the you who dares to become vulnerable in the most inauspicious moments. Is it even possible, or is this just a fairytale idea?
Life is not just a about what you make it and who you share it with, but more importantly how you share it. The things we choose to give away from within are the things that will resonate with others and give them life, and in turn give life to us. The type of life that reaches to the depths of our being and speaks in that small still voice saying I hear you, I see you and you matter.
Yes, change is hard work, however it is essential and a part of our own humanness, but somewhere along the journey of life, of becoming better people, we have lost our deep longing to simply be who we are. A people who were created to dwell together and make this world better, more sustainable, safe and a stable place for the next generations that come after us. Tall buildings and technology will inevitably always be a part of this equation, but those things alone will never replace the human element that exist in each of us. The desire to be authentically known and accepted by another. The soul that is saying, “I am here”.
“If you find it necessary to judge me by my past, don’t be surprised when I find it necessary to put you there.” – Unknown
How many times have you said, “I am sorry”, for the same thing more than a few times? You know the feeling, you feel terrible and there seems to not be enough of anything in the world to alleviate the pressure or make it go away, even for a little while. So on you go in life, feeling bad and guilty about past transgressions that once invaded every space of your life, and even though time does not necessarily heal all wounds, you know deep down that it is time to live your life with honor and self-respect.
The type of self-respect that does not disavow the victim(s) or ignores the responsibility you may have as the perpetrator, but the type of self-respect that recognizes once you have served your pennants to society or made amends for your trespasses, it is time to move on with the rest of your life.
Yes, it is simpler spoken than acted upon, but can nonetheless become a life changing moment for the accused. A moment of liberation that can transcend time and become your lifetime mantra for peace, harmony and felicity.
No one is perfect and I am certainly far from it, but I have been through enough drama in my life to realize that at some point we must simply get over it and move on. Again, not to discredit those that we hurt, but to recognize the responsibility we equally have to ourselves to live whole and full lives.
Perhaps there will always be ones in your life that believe you do not deserve to live a full life because of what you have done, but how long will it take for those persons to have a change of heart? Maybe a year from now, perhaps ten years or maybe never. So are you supposed to wait until they are good with you until you begin to live again?
The answer to move on may seem obvious, but many of us remain trapped and haunted by a past that seems to stay attached to our present conditions. Conditions that are continuously affected by yesterday, and a mind that has not learned how to be free.
So as someone who has directly lived this type of life, what can one do to finally break free from the past and begin to live, truly live? Below are a few suggestions a friend once shared with me that I still hold true to today.
1. Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present. – Simply stated.
2. What others think of you is none of your business. – Stop trying to please other people and wonder what they are thinking of you. You most likely will never be enough in their eyes, so move on.
3. Don’t compare your life to others and don’t judge them. You have no idea what their journey is about, just like they don’t know your’s. – Quit being your own worst enemy.
4. Stop thinking too much, it’s alright not to know the answers. They will come to you when you least expect it. – When we over think we have a tendency to cycle into a tailspin of doubt and depression, because we seem to always find and focus on the imperfections versus the beauty we hold.
5. No one is in charge of your happiness, except you, so start living your life like that is true. – Begin owning your own life.
6. Smile. You don’t own all the problems in the world. – Give yourself a break. Punishing ourselves will not solve the problems either.
7. Remember that man/woman who gave up? Neither does anyone else. – Never quit, someone is counting on you to make it, so they can hear your story or prevailing.
Take a little time to ponder these points and begin to apply them daily where they fit. I believe you will experience the difference versus doing nothing at all. In addition, remember that none of us are perfect. Some fail miserably many times before they finally arrive at place of maturity, and although there may be a trail of broken hearts in your wake, I pray that you seek/sought counsel and authentically see the poor decisions for what they are and learn from them.
Feeling guilty will never take the pain away, only enhance your own, so make your future bright by allowing your personal pain instigate a new path. A path that declares it will not be recognized for who you were, but who you are becoming. A new creation that is not defined by your past and lives unashamedly.
“Some people are so broken, they get mad at you for being whole” – Unknown
How many things can you look back on in your life and get angry or sad? You know, the missed opportunities and poor decisions that took you way off the mark, or perhaps it was indecisiveness or procrastination that seemingly held you hostage from your ideal paths and goals.
To be more specific, how about a relationship that went sour after years of your time, investment and commitment, only to see your life partner walk away. Or perhaps you were the one to leave the relationship to try to salvage any dignity that remained in you, after realizing you had been betrayed by the one who claimed to love you with all their heart and soul. Or like the old cliché, you grew a part and found yourself more empty being together than you did alone.
There is no question that we can all fill in the blanks with a laundry list of disappointments that have filled our lives over the years. Perhaps some were avoidable, while others required a bit more maturity that you simply did not have at your disposal at the time. So you made your choices with what you knew and understood, and whether wrong, right or indifferent those decisions currently shape the world you live in today.
Seeing that I can relate to all the above and more, I have learned it is what we do during calamity that defines us, and how we respond cannot be mistaken and is seldom debatable. This defining moment reaches to the fabric of our being and is a great opportunity to expose our true hearts, intentions and motivations. Very rarely is it a feel good session for the one being exposed, even if only to one’s self.
So what do you find ourselves doing after the dust has settled, your separate lives have went on, and the emotional distress of the moment has long faded away? Have you become bitter, distrustful and suspicious of all those that merely represent the one(s) who hurt you, or are you learning to grow, embrace truth and live a new and better life?
I wish it were as simple as typing these words down, but unfortunately it is much more difficult and complex than that. And in many instances it requires support from outside sources, uncomfortable transparency and a decision to live a different kind of life. One that allows time for introspection, reflection, meditation, submission, prayer and self-analysis. All things that cause us to slow down, to allow us at some point to go fast, however with much more wisdom, empathy and integrity.
It is indeed the journey of life, for those that choose to go down that path. A journey that will not only enrich our own lives, but the lives we touch as well. The hardships of our past can become lessons we share with others that choose to listen. Our growth will teach us to no longer exude energy on what we cannot change, or the people who remain angry and point fingers at us. Our focus is only on what lies before us. Our past pains will remind us of what can potentially happen, however our new identity sees past the negative images and helps us to navigate towards what is better and full of life.
So if you are still looking back on your life and becoming disheartened when you do, don’t you think it is time to embrace a new way? Life is truly too short to remain mad, hurt and perpetually disappointed, however it is never too late to make a new declaration. A declaration that opens the door to peace, hope and joy.
“Although our version of the story usually feels better and is easier to tell, a lie will always hurt the one you love more in the end.” – Henry Nutt, III
We have been hearing it for most of our lives. Phrases like, “don’t tell lies, you are only as good as your word and your word is your bond,” etc., but as we know, people lie to one another all the time and without flinching.
Of course we are aware that it is not okay, but it somehow feels convenient and like the right thing to do, at least in the moment. After all, we don’t want to hurt anyone, and in our minds somehow we believe the truth will hurt too much. I have been there done that, and have paid the ultimate consequence in a relationship. The death of it without reconciliation. So I have learned a few things about the path of destruction that is created by lying.
In its simplest form, lying is choosing to be dishonest and attempting to evade the truth due to fear or some consequence that may bring discomfort or displeasure to the one telling the lie or someone else. In a more complex and evasive form, lying is a mask, a covering or distortion of the creed we claim to live by. It misrepresents the liar and deceives the one being lied to. It removes our ability to make a choice, resolve, consult or deal with the liar first-hand with raw truth. And ultimately uninterrupted, it will promote the demise of any healthy relationship like a cancer to the physical body.
During my season of engaging in this destructive behavior, I honestly felt as if it wasn’t that bad. I was trying to (so-call) protect the one I claimed to love. You know, spare her from being hurt. And I know that was stupid! As crazy as that even sounds to me today, that lie was the truth I lived by once upon a time until I was forced to deal with my own actions, alone.
It was a painful time, but equally helpful for my spiritual and emotional growth. I peeled back the layers of my history, including my childhood. Nothing was off-limits. Every girlfriend, marriage, friendship and past relationship I examined. I went to counseling to try an understand how and why I became this man who could lie so easily.
The one thing I found more profound than anything else was in order for me to lie to anyone, man woman, boy or girl, I first had to lie to myself. That was a deafening realization, but it helped me come to terms with my own brokenness and inability to recognize the detrimental convictions that were destroying my once virtuous integrity.
So ultimately there is a breakdown and a decision being made with lying. The breakdown, being the reasonings or rationale we come to, to forfeit the truth over and over. The decision, being the choice to accept deception as an option, because at its core, it is indeed always a choice.
For me it was all things coming to a head. My lies finally catching up with me and having no one to blame, with no excuse for my behavior, but it was my relationship with God, my ability to feel the pain I created and finally, to have a deep remorse without the luxury of closure from a marriage that went astray from my own doing that led me to repentance and healing.
What I have learned is lying is not a shortcut, nor should it ever be an option in any type of relationship, even when you are attempting to spare someone’s feelings. As much as one may feel they are doing someone a favor by lying, they are actually doing them a disservice. An act that has multi-faceted implications, like the breaking of trust, which in many cases takes years to rebuild if even possible.
Lying at its core is a selfish act. It fails to consider another person’s emotions or well-being, and at the end of the day it will always do more harm than good. So when given the option, if lying is still a choice on the table, that speaks volumes to your character or lack thereof, a lack of respect for others and more importantly an indication that a big part of your life is being guided by fear, an unhealthy need to be accepted and a lack of courage.
Let’s begin to honor others by first honoring ourselves. Tell the truth at all costs, swear to your own hurt and face the consequences that come with that decision. Your loved ones may be hurt or become angry with you and still decide to walk away, but at least you will have the (self) respect of knowing you chose to speak truth to power. And that cannot be held against you, for the truth always stands the test of time.
“You are what you do, not what you say you will do.” – Unknown
How many times have your dreams been shattered or the perfect ideal of what you thought you wanted only led to great disappointment? Wait don’t answer that question, because we all have been there to some degree. Whether in great magnitude or on a small-scale. I imagine it’s a definite indicator of being a human being.
So, since we are all pretty much experiencing this at some point in our life journeys, how are we dealing with it? Are we overcoming new obstacles, putting into practice lessons learned, repeating poor decisions, getting it, like really getting it, or are we falling into the same destructive patterns that led us once-upon-a-time into distressing emotional turmoil, depriving physical estrangement or financial disarray?
I know we all want to believe we are growing and getting better as we get older, but the true test falls under the category of, “the life we are currently living”. Quiet honestly not much else matters. Our words are great and have their place, but if they fail to align with our current actions, they simply fall to the ground and hold no barring for anyone, which actually causes us to not look so becoming to those that bother to listen to us.
So, like me you let someone down by breaking a promise. You fell short of the ideal mark. You proved that you were not quite ready for the commitment. You accepted and agreed to deliver without fully understanding the full picture (or perhaps you did and still didn’t care). You failed to consider the cost and said yes anyway, or you simply weren’t ready. Or perhaps you always knew the situation/relationship would fail, but you went through it anyway. On the other hand, you were the recipient of all these. Welcome to the club, but let it be your goal to expeditiously remove yourself from this membership as soon as possible, because lifetime affiliation is honestly not good thing.
My core values fall under the category of perpetual optimist. I inherently believe most people want to do the right thing, even when they do not. This is not to say that I fail to recognize there will always be an element that do not have my best interest at hand. I simply choose to believe the majority will. Call me naive.
That said, after I have endured my own pity party, played the blame game, suffered as a victim and been let down, a few questions still lied before me. What the heck am I going to do now that my heart has been broken or I broke someone else’s? What will my next steps be when my alleged soul mate found someone else or worse, cheated on me? How do I recover when I am left with nothing?
I can say there must be a season of licking your wounds, grieving and remaining to yourself. The length of time all depends on how deep the wound is and what type of help and work you commit to. Some of us bounce back quickly, while others may take years. We are all different and should give ourselves license to heal at own our pace, but we must also be cognizant of becoming bitter, numb and distant, as this is counterproductive to truly moving forward.
For those that fall under the category of heartbreaker, remember that you are also human and subject to frailty. Not an excuse to repeat past poor behavior, but more importantly an opportunity to correct it, own it and make amends for it. This is a lot easier said than done, but nonetheless a critical and mature step. At minimum (and especially when the victim refuses to speak with you) forgive yourself and take corrective authentic action to become a better man or woman.
It is never too late to learn a new thing, only to those that fail to see their impact and power in the world. When we recognize how important and relevant we are, we take quicker action to remedy unfavorable situations. We understand the sooner we heal, accept our failure and own the steps we took to promote the demise of another, the sooner we will be free to live the lives we were meant to live.
The sunshine awaits us, especially the broken soul. Your beauty is radiant and filled with promise. The promise to deliver a message that embraces empathy and encourages hope and promise. Living beyond broken promises and disappointment is a gift. A gift to everyone that crosses our path, because our lives have been enriched with a deep brokenness and pain that enables us to see life in different way. A way that not only sees beyond right now, but offers a real hope for tomorrow, despite the current circumstances faced.
“Sometimes God allows times of transition to create transformation.” – Lynn Cowell
I can promise you that I do not have an affinity with darkness. I actually consider myself to be a very optimistic person, who consistently attempts to look on the brighter side of life, however after blogging for approximately two years now, I have come to better understand the many hurting people who still exist in the world. An even more closer, the ones that have the courage to share a little of their personal stories on social media with me and the audience I share here on this website.
As I have mentioned in prior posts, life is hard and we can never fully be ready for all that comes with our specific journeys, and I have had the privilege to hear some amazing stories of tragedy, recovery and being somewhere in the middle of both. What remains consistent with each story is the insurmountable feeling of loss, grief, pain and turmoil each person experiences as they go through their season of darkness, yet there has equally been a consistent ray of hope that seems to keep them holding on and seeking to get beyond it.
I am truly blessed to be a part of such a wonderful community of people who “get it”, and I wanted to take the time in this post to acknowledge those that continue to suffer and press through darkness. Suffering has no ethnicity, gender or religious background. It comes to us all, planned and by surprise, day or night, young and old. It does not take in consideration how nice we are or who we may have hurt in the past. It just comes, and often like a rushing wind.
So if you find yourself smack in the middle of a hard place, this post is for you. A few things you should know was you go through:
1. You are not alone, even if you feel like you are. – One of the worst things you can do while facing a tragedy is to go it alone. This is not to say that everyone in your circle should know your intimate secrets, but isolation is the devils playground and when you retreat from your immediate world you lose some of your best resources for good counsel and support. Darkness is just that, a place where we cannot always see our way due to the circumstances we face and the emotions we harbor. So as you are feeling your way through that dark place, do not be afraid to reach out to someone who may know better than you do, been there before and willing to offer support. It can literally change the trajectory of where you are headed.
2. Give yourself license to feel the pain of your situation. – So often we are told to get over it and move on, and we equally know that is much easier vocalized than done. We are each different, with our own set of propensities to recover, see the light and move past our pain. Some bodies heal faster than others and I imagine this logically applies to the emotional part of us as well, so don’t get in a hurry seeking relief, because in that search what you may find will only offer a temporary refuge, not a sustaining peace that you need. Although pain never feels good, it does have a way of stripping us of pride and deflecting blame on others after it has run its course. Once you begin to allow ourselves to feel the pain that you are experiencing it will force you to reconcile more of the core issues that caused it. It is definitely not our initial response while going through the difficulty, but if we can gather the courage to have those hard conversations with ourselves the sooner we begin to address the hard stuff.
3. Don’t beat yourself up over what happened or hold yourself hostage with anger. – Whether it was your fault or not, there has to be a time that you begin to move past that specific place of blame. Once you accepted responsibility, or had the opportunity to speak with the person who offended you, (and said your peace) it is time to move on. Harboring feelings of resentment can only lead to more pain and the short cycling of your own healing and recovery. This becomes critical as you see yourself getting better, but you allow someone or some circumstance to take you backwards. It is important to realize that you cannot undo the past. What is done is done, but the unrealized future still remains ahead of you, and how you choose to respond to it will dictate if you will be ready for it or not, and even influence how it will manifest later your life.
4. Know who your safe friends are (including family). – One of the fastest ways to relapse back to a place of bitterness and unresolved pain is to surround yourself around people who do not support the process of your recovery. Sometimes our friends can become more angry than we were at times. I am all for my “ride or die” folks that want to come to my aid, but it is equally important for them to know when to stand down and accept where I am, whether they agree with me or not. Remember, it is always easier for someone else to remove themselves from your circumstance when they have no real attachment, authentic connection or ultimate responsibility to it, therefore remain with like-minded people. Ones that want to see you grow and become healthier versus being full of unforgiveness and aiming to seek revenge.
5. Take life one day at a time. – I truly empathize with those of you who are going through hard times. It is never easy and often feels like the pain will never go away. I know from my own personal experiences, but it does get easier as we learn the lessons we are supposed to learn and grow from the situation. This is a process that cannot be rushed. It takes time and what we choose to do in that time really counts. My best advice is to take everything one day at a time. It may sound like a trivial piece of advice, but it is really important to get this. Now is not the time to be in a hurry and speed your life away, but purposefully slow it down through surrendering prayer, meaningful mediation and thought-provoking reflection.
Growing through darkness can be a reality that we all experience when life gets hard. It certainly will not come easy and unfortunately many decide to prematurely quit before recognizing the change they desire, but it is possible. I am a living witness. After suffering two divorces, being molested and experiencing other broken relationships, I have had my share of pain that I wish on no human being, but through it all I have grown and learned some lessons that I will carry with me for the remainder of my life. Lessons that cause me to stand when I feel like falling, see hope when life seems hopeless and acknowledge that life could always be worse when it seems at it hardest point. I have grown through my darkest seasons and so can you. Never give up!
“When a deep injury is done to us, we never heal until we forgive.” – Nelson Mandela
We have all said it at some point in our lives to loved ones, close friends and even ourselves when times are tough. “Things will get better with time.” The phrase does sound good and lends itself to even seem comforting when we are hurting, but do things really get better with time? I suppose on the surface, the answer is an absolute yes. Over time it is true we do tend to feel less of the sting pain indiscriminately doles out, whether physical or emotional, but does feeling better really mean we are better? Hmmm… one of those questions to ponder I suppose.
The body is an amazing creation. The fact that when we injure ourselves the body is designed to go into healing mode. Over a course of weeks, months and therapy (depending on the severity of the injury) besides a scar, there is no noticeable evidence of an injury at all. Now we all know that it was not the time that healed that would, but the amazing work occurring on the inside of the body to mend things back together.
The same is true when we are injured emotionally. If someone hurts us in a relationship and we do nothing to understand the core issue(s), we are destined to repeat the circumstance with someone else. For some of us (including present company) this has been an all too common occurrence.
Simply taking a hiatus from dating is not enough to thwart the problem (if dating is your issue) if we do not add the parts that identify the core problem, work through it and apply the learned principles to prevent it from happening with the next guy or gal.
There are so many websites dedicated to discussions on cheaters and liars, and although some have valid points to make, many others simply use the platform to complain and bash the opposite sex, but seldomly look at the work required for prevention or the responsibility they had in the demise of the relationship as well.
It will always be easier to blame another individual, especially when they created the majority of the issue, but what about that small percentage owned by the other person? Does it present a pattern? Have you been here before? Same situation different person? Could you be the common denominator? Again, something too think about.
When we fail to allow ourselves to authentically heal over a period of time, which includes doing the work necessary to become whole how is it possible to think we would make a better decision the next time? How is it that our anger simply becomes directed towards a gender, personality type or ethnicity, versus ourselves? Could it be that we are still carrying baggage from our past that is destined to bring extra weight and turmoil to our next relationship or circumstance? Could it be that time did nothing but give us an illusion that we were better, but in essence we were just numb? And the only way we really know we have not healed is when a circumstance presents itself that reminds us of our brokenness, and we flash on someone or become instantly disengaged. Been there?
In essence, time heals a wound like a bandage heals a cut. It will never be about the time directly, but more importantly what we choose to do in that time. So my prayer is that we choose to recognize the patterns that hinder us, (different face same guy) do the work to change and grow and apply the lessons learned to live a healthier life.
For most of my life I have bought into this relationship between time and healing, but I have always questioned the core idea. I would assume most professionals would agree more than time is required to heal wounds, but somewhere along the way of this commonly used phrase, the translation became lost or diluted with the masses and it simply continues to get passed along like it is a scientific fact. Or perhaps this is simply a part of my perfectionist personality to address it. Either way, I believe it is important that we understand what is implied when we make this statement or any commonly use saying that solicits hope, when it fact it may actually perpetuate the contrary.
To all those finally acknowledging your part in your healing or lack thereof, welcome to the club. There truly is an upside to being down, but we must first recognize the pain and do the right things with it. Numbing it feels great for a short season, but it truly never simply goes away and it will most certainly come back to remind you, “I am still here until you deal with me.”
Neither your age, a new relationship or a geographic relocation will change that fact, because the pain lies within you lying dormant until it is once again disturbed, so yes it requires painstaking, emotionally distressful and committed work, but it is worth the blood, sweat and tears. You are worth it!
“To give anything less than your best, is to sacrifice the gift” – Steve Prefontaine
Me and my Mother -2015
Life is funny. How we start is not necessarily a guarantee on how we will finish. What we thought was true ten years ago may be different now for us today. How we define success changes and some of the people in our lives are no longer present, by the choices that we have made and by some of the circumstances we have faced. We make statements about what we know now and how our lives would be different if we had only made better choices when we were young and dumb. They say hindsight is 20-20, and hopefully we continue to learn as we get older. Hopefully the choices that we make today as mature adults look differently from our past decisions. And as we grow, hopefully we do not measure our lives by how educated we are or not, if we own a home or not or the amount of money we have in our bank accounts. Although these things are important and we should strive to live better lives than our forefathers and mothers, we need to remain mindful of what is truly important in life.
Since being back on Facebook for about one year now, I’m encouraged by the many voices of my childhood friends that seem to get it. Men and women alike that I grew up with recognize the value of it, my colleagues and business partners even see the value of it, but more importantly I see it. And that is the idea of giving our best love to our families, friends and even some strangers when required.
The one person that comes to mind more than anyone else that has sacrificially loved me beyond measure is, that’s right, my mother. When I look back at what she accomplished I see an amazing woman who has committed herself to being the best mom that any woman could ever be. Although there may not be a long list of titles behind her name, a house on the hill or other pedigrees we rightfully pursue, my mother gave me something that not only prepared me to obtain those superficial things, she gave me something inherently more valuable. She willingly gave me her best love.
Like so many of us that reflect on the goodness that has been bestowed upon our lives, usually our mothers are not far off from these sentiments. I was raised with three sisters and each of us are successful in our own right, but one thing that stands out for me, is we care for one another deeply and consider each other friends still. I attribute this desire to remain close to my siblings to the way my mother loved us as children. We obviously have our differences as adults, but I can say we genuinely love and care about one another. My mother was definitely the glue to our family connection and bond, which remains true to this day.
So why is this even worthy of mentioning and what is the significance of giving our best love? In my lowly opinion it pertains to everything that has been and will be ingrained in us. For those that have experienced the death of someone close, understanding this is easier. At the end of the day, nothing else really matters, but how we loved.
Giving our best love will cure the ails of the world in one swipe.
As I give my best love several amazing things are occurring simultaneously that look like this:
1. The life I exemplify will be worthy of following – I do not mean that you will lead a life of perfection, but when you make the choice to love first, you’re actually placing someone else’s needs before yours. For many this concept is counterintuitive, but when we’re motivated by love or selflessness we look to see how we can please others first. And when you have made this choice prior to any specific circumstance, bias and conditions are easily removed from the equation. This person may not always get things right, but they are consistently present. They are concerned, emotionally committed and they show up on time for real life events, planned or unplanned. They are the ones that leave indelible marks on hearts and minds forever.
2. I have an opinion, but I am not quick to accuse – This person waits to hear the entire story before giving their two-cents when asked. This requires discipline, because the temptation to speak prior to knowing all the facts is usually very enticing, but equally detrimental to at least to one of the persons involved. However once the dust settles the truth typically reveals itself, and because this individual is aware of this fact, their patience is essential and a key ingredient to sharing impactful wisdom versus making premature accusations. In a time of need this person is a welcomed sight because they truly want to help versus gossip, and they typically care about the outcome for all those involved.
3. I have a strong core, but a gentle spirit – There is nothing like meekness. It can often be mistaken for weakness, but by definition, it is strength under control. This person may have the ability to crush someone’s dream by divulging sensitive information that could embarrass or bring harm, yet they choose to exercise self-control during this time. They have profound wisdom and are usually more aware than what people give them credit for. They simply choose to walk in consideration of others, yet with firmness. This person will empathize with you, but never waver from his/her convictions. Their strength and gentleness combined become very calming during chaotic situations. They are excellent listeners and when they speak, an audience is usually there eagerly listening.
4. The truth will be spoken in love – Although the unadulterated truth can often hurt, it equally can release one from bondage or potentially dangerous situations. There is nothing like hearing it like it really is! Although we may get upset with this person, we come to appreciate them for their courage and ability to set us straight. The great thing about this person’s characteristics is they are not out to get us or see us fail, they simply want us to stop hitting our heads on the same walls. They force us to deal with ourselves versus allowing us to habitually take the easy route of blaming others. Without these courageous individuals in our lives we would be doomed to learn everything the hard way. They truly are a ray of light in the midst of a cloudy circumstance.
5. I accept you as you are – There’s nothing like acceptance. As we are all a masterpiece in progress, during the journey of getting to our finished product, we tend to look a hot-mess at times (present company included). And during this season, a friend that simply loves and accepts you as you are is critically important. Although many will proclaim to accept you when you are at your lowest, the proof is when you are there and recognize who is there with you. There you will find your true friends. These friends are not initially interested in facts, or the circumstances during an episode, they simply want to be there for you. They are consistent, steadfast and comforting. We could all stand to benefit from having at least one person like this in our lives. They are quick to lend a hand when we’re down and usually know us deeply like no one else does. We are freely vulnerable with them as our true selves are revealed and in progress of becoming more.
So as I stated in the beginning, “life is funny”. However sometimes it can be downright hard as well. And as we are being proven during difficulties, let us remember what we are made of and that we are precious creations made in God’s image through love. The best love we have is always in us, peeping out from the inside. We just need to realize that it is inside of us and someone nearby could stand to receive some of it from you. Whether it is these five points I have made or ones you can add to them, look to your point of reference to recall not only what it looked like, but more importantly how it made you feel when you needed it the most. For me it was my mother’s love. I say give that. That is the best love.
We’re all familiar with the quote, “you can’t unscramble eggs,” and most of us know exactly what it means or how the saying can apply to our lives at different times. And although I’ll would usually agree with this, I do believe there are times when we should, and must challenge this statement.
The key is knowing when is the right time.
Typically these are times when we must become still, tune-out well-intentioned friends and family, pray and listen to our inner voice.
Who decides when a situation becomes irreparable or when it is time to figuratively and literally throw in the towel, in regards to believing in a person who has consistently let us down or hurt us? We all have our own set of answers for this question, (and why) and we should equally understand where our thresholds lie as it relates to turmoil, problems, conflict with others, and when the time has come to cut him/her off for good.
We can only do this when the foundations for our thresholds our built on truth, purity of heart, goodwill towards others and honesty towards ourselves.
As I reflect on the past turmoil and conflict in my life and the people who I have hurt, I realize that I am a direct benefactor of a woman who chose to listen to her heart, get quiet in the midst of noise and drama, pray and listen to her inner voice during times of our distress. That inner voice stemmed from her faith in God, trust in what she believed (about us) and ultimately the friendship we had established over the years. Was the relationship all a lie, based on a foundation empty promises or was there something there truly worth saving? Only she and I knew the answer to that question.
No one else qualified, because they weren’t involved with the intimate details of our story.
They did however see the aftermath of the pain created and naturally came to the rescue of us both, but it was up to us to remain in a place of neutrality, which at times became very difficult and sometimes impossible, hence where the scrambled eggs metaphor comes into play.
Without going into all the details, (read my post about Forgiveness to learn more) for many years I was wrong – in the forms of being indecisive, not ready to settle down, leading her on, not believing she was the one, lying to myself and her, having a dismissive attitude, and finally, straight up rejecting her. For a season, she was equally wrong, however not as hurtful, I submit, in the forms of – over protecting her heart, being seemingly transparent, (but only to a degree), and not being honest with her feelings and concerns with herself about me.
These were the ingredients for a very toxic relationship. As much as we tried during these times, we could never quite get it right. Things would be great for a season, but we would always come back to turmoil, because of what we had not dealt with independently within ourselves. Everyone that cared about us could see the turmoil and conflict that consistently arose between the two of us and they were correct (on the surface) with their advisement for us to simply walk away from one another and start new with someone else in the future, however as much as it seemed like the pieces were broken for good, our story was still not over.
No matter what is said by others during these emotionally charged times, only the ones in the relationship or the particular situation can make the decision. Not the best counselors, best friends or even loving family members understand to the degree that is necessary to make the appropriate decision regarding all the facts. This is not to say the advice given by these groups is not helpful or perhaps even life saving, but how many times have you given a loved one sound advice based on what you believed to be true, only to see them do the exact opposite of what you advised? Maybe that person was you. Either way, it is during these moments that we must realize that it’s time to take a step away and allow life to play out as it will. It can be an arduous road to take and often a lonely one, but at least the final choices are based on only those involved. Listening to our family and friends is not bad thing, but it should not be the first thing we do either. For many this is where the real problem exist. There is nothing like someone who loves us and to feel sorry for us, or to empathize with our side of the story.
Be honest, it feels good.
It’ just not always what we need to hear. When we hear the brokenness in a loved one’s voice or the anger stewing in their words about how they were harmed, it can rile every unresolved emotion that we have regarding the topic. Almost suddenly, if we’re not using good judgement, that situation will develop a life of its own (in our minds) and we’ll exert more energy towards a fix than the person originally offended. It can become a new life mission for the outsider, trying to resolve something they have no business being involved in, at least to that degree. How does this happen so quickly and so often? Simply because we all have all have a deep need to be heard and affirmed, especially when we’ve been hurt. I have learned a few tips to keep my relationship intact during conflict and turmoil.
5 Ways to Keep Your Relationship Intact During Turmoil and Conflict
1. Always give yourself time to breathe after a blow-up or fight – If you immediately run to a friend or family member, (assuming there is not a history of violence or domestic abuse) you will quickly receive advice that may deem to be unfruitful and ruin any chances for restoration. As much as we want to believe that we’re being fair as we describe the list of the events, it still comes across as one-sided and the other partner doesn’t stand a chance.
2. Never make decisions while you’re angry – I guarantee you that you are not thinking rationally while angry. Remember, anger is a secondary emotion that masks the place of the real hurt. Our focus tends to be about retaliation and revenge while things are still heated. Once we calm down we can think more clearly, and make choices based on facts versus emotions. Perhaps the answers or results will be the same, but because you have given yourself time to ponder on the whole situation, you are more likely to make a decision that you will not regret later.
3. Communicate with the person that hurt you, by telling them you need some time to think – This is not the time to play the silent treatment game. Not only is this a sign of immaturity, it can quickly dissolve a possibly salvageable situation. You may not be ready for a full dialogue just yet, but give him/her an approximate date when you’ll be ready to talk. Remember, punishment is not the goal here. It’s to utilize the time to sort through your feelings and to hopefully have a productive conversation at a later date.
4. Realize that someone has to become the champion – I learned from my partner during my tumultuous relationship, that someone has to be the bigger person. Someone has to be willing to decide if the infraction should end the relationship or not. If so, then begin the steps to do just that. If not, someone has to be willing to face the other and begin the road to recovery, no matter how difficult. Being the champion is not about who was wrong or right, it’s about understanding who and what is most important, despite the circumstances. See past the hurt.
5. Prayer – Last is certainly not least here. Get in your quiet place and seek clarity and answers that will come in the form of that small still voice. God knows everything and will give you the answers that you need by confirming them in you spirit. You simply need to be obedient to the answer(s) that you receive. Don’t over think it, just do it.
There are obviously many options available to you regarding how to handle conflict resolution. These are just a few that worked for me in my relationship and unfortunately I did not learn them immediately. It took several attempts and a very patient partner before I realized where I was falling down, but I did finally get it and she did as well.
It’s always easier to throw a relationship away than work on it, and it’s even easier for someone else to throw it away for you. Believe me I know. I’ve done it and live with that truth everyday, however I equally understand that I didn’t know what I know today and that is, even the most difficult of relationships and situations can be restored when the ones involved choose to work through them, combined with their faith. They can indeed turn around a seemingly impossible situation by learning from what was broken and starting new. That relationship will indeed be stronger and prepared to last.
“Peace secured by slavish submission is not peace.” – Kim II-sung
“The submission of her body without love or desire is degrading to the woman’s finer sensibility, all the marriage certificates on earth to the contrary notwithstanding.” – Margaret Sanger
So often when we hear any form of the word submit, it can take us to a place. Unfortunately it’s usually not a happy place. According to Dictionary.com, submit means to give over or yield to the power or authority of another. If we’re honest with ourselves, just the sound of this definition gets under our skin and defies everything humanly independent about us, including our lives, our thoughts and pursuits. Depending on our life experiences, it ruffles some more than others. For women it may bring up past thoughts of living in emotional or physical bondage, conformity, inequality, complete deference or denial of self at all levels. For men it may bring back memories of chauvinistic dominance, servitude and selfishness, just to name a few. (And men, I’m hoping as you read this, you realize these traits as a husband or life partner are not admirable, but quite the contrary). However you associate with this word in your life, usually it comes with a negative set of observations and experiences. However, to authentically submit means so much more than the aforementioned descriptions and it is so incredibly important to the very success that we desire in our lives, whether professionally or relationally, for both men and women alike.
There is a widely accepted quote that states, “Every great leader must first learn how to follow.“
Most of us will agree with this. So what’s the problem? Why is there such a power struggle with the statement, when all it is, is a another form of submitting? Could it simply mean the one doing the submitting is defiant, or perhaps the one in authority doesn’t understand how to convey a submissive-worthy message or countenance? Of course these are both rhetorical questions that have a bit of truth in them both, but I believe they are worthy of discussion in order for our us to gain clarity on why we are (men and women) so at odds when it comes to this topic.
Having the privilege of growing up with three sisters, and being the only boy in the family, I’ve had the prime opportunity to learn the many ways and complexities of girls and women. Not that my three sisters represent all of woman-kind, but I do count my experiences as having an edge towards understanding what other men usually rely on books for. They were and still are distinctly different in their personalities, from moderately calm to semi-explosive when provoked, and l love them all dearly and differently I might add. They have helped to shape my ideas and thoughts and even assisted me in the area of empathy and patience. I am forever grateful to them.
Ephesians 5:21 states – “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God” (KJV).
Whether you believe the Bible to be true or not is not the point here, but to understand the practicality of the verse is more important. How sensible is it to think that one gender should not submit to the other? In other words, how much sense does it make for only a woman to submit to a man and not vice-versa? It would seem like common sense, however we know that common-sense is not always common amongst us. This very ideology has been the source of many painful relationships and is taught in many churches and organizations throughout the country. It’s one thing to believe that a woman should submit to me simply because I am a man and another thing to earn that honor from her, but for many decades now, we men have increasingly lost that honor due to poor judgement, lack of discipline, becoming mean-spirited and providing poor leadership for our families. We have demanded the respect without earning it first, and out of our frustration for what seemed like an innate, God-given right we brought our wives and partners to their knees with abusive actions to obtain it. There is nothing God-given about that, but it has occurred and continues to be perpetuated generationally through families across the world. To take it a bit further, I’ll ask the question, “What are we giving that is worthy of anyone submitting to, whether a wife, girlfriend, or etc.?” Again, if we use the Bible as an example we can accurately deduce that there had to be some assumptions being made by God Himself, like for instance as a husband we (men) are to love our wives as Christ loves the Church. (Ephesians 5:25 KJV)
To put this in laymen terms simply means that what we both truly submit to is not (us) the man or woman, but the very love that is conveyed by us.
I can submit to authentic love any day of the week and twice on Sunday. This is what my former pastor would call the “love walk”. Easily stated, but not easily fulfilled, unless an authentic change has occurred in our lives. A change that requires a new spirit being birthed in you. If we men want to rely on sheer physical strength and fear to gain the respect that we desire, most days we will win this fight, but at what expense? An expense that will certainly ruin every relationship we touch. Do we really want our wives and loved ones to be afraid of us? If you can answer yes to this question, then you are truly in need of counsel and I pray that you seek help before you ruin more lives in addition to your own. Or are you like them, someone who simply wants to love and be loved in return? Maybe you never had a model of what a loving husband and father looks like. Perhaps all you have seen are abusive, self-serving relationships, built on fear and intimidation. Today I pray that as you read this, an intervention will occur in your life that will change your heart and healing can begin for your new day.
When two people are authentically submitting to one another, in no way does it mean problems cease to occur or even fester, but what does happen is both partners lose one simple profound thing.
That is the will to win and always be right, for you can be right and be right by yourself on the couch sleeping at night.
Now who in their right minds want that? Actively submitting doesn’t mean I no longer have an opinion. Quite the contrary actually! When done the correct way your opinion matters more to your partner and your voice matters. There isn’t always marital bliss, nor should your relationship reflect a glass house, (perfection) but this couple has learned the art of deference. They understand that they are a unit and when one is down, they are both down, therefore winning alone begins to take second fiddle. Submitting truly reflects the oneness in the relationship.
To submit to another person is a choice, but not a choice we should make to an undeserving person, whether they’re a potential spouse, family member, pastor, community leader, or otherwise. That privilege should always be earned, like trust. So before you decide to marry someone, or enter into any committed relationship, decide first that they are worthy of you giving yourself over wholeheartedly. Decide first that he or she has proven themselves to you, not with words only, but honorable actions over a course of time. Decide that he or she is worthy of you following them. Do this with intent and like your very life depends on it. This may indeed become your life’s truth.