“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 the bad things that happen in our lives put us directly on the path to the best things that will ever happen to us.” – Unknown
Lord knows I have had my share of relationships that did not end well. Whether the demise was instigated by my actions or the actions of my partner, it is something I will never wish on anyone, including my worse enemy. I say this because when our hearts become intertwined with another person, it is always painful to let go, even when it is the most healthy decision to make.
Letting go of love is like letting go a piece of our very person because usually we have invested so much of ourselves into the relationship, and ultimately a hardness had to develop in order for us to finally make the decision. When I say hardness, I do not necessarily mean one has to become cold-hearted to end a relationship, however there is an aspect of closing up that needs to occur to move on with life.
Essentially like closing a door and making the decision to not return to it. No matter how we explain it, there has to be some exposure to hardness in order to pull this off effectively, otherwise that door becomes a revolving one, which typically results in more pain and more heartache.
Now I am not here to advocate divorce or saying it is simply okay to prematurely walking away from a long-term relationship, although it does happen, and sometimes for the right reasons. What I am saying is when one decides to go down this path, it is imperative to search their soul, take lots of time, consult with wise counseling, pray daily, spend quiet time with themselves and God, and then repeat those steps all over again until it is settled in their own heart to leave or remain in it.
So many times we are in such a hurry to walk away, (me included in times past) because we just want to be done. Done with looking at our partner’s faces, their scent, quirks, pretty much everything about them annoys us. But if we allow this major decision to become driven by emotions, primarily fear or anger, we will ultimately regret not allowing ourselves the opportunity to go through the process of real closure. Of course this does not apply to abusive relationships. When safety is at stake, I will always advise one to get out and deal with the aftermath from a safe place, emotionally and physically.
It is inevitable that letting go of love will change you. Just like the love itself from the beginning changed you, (hopefully for the better) but at this stage as we begin to close our hearts and prepare for a journey we cannot fully comprehend what will be on the other side, besides our new-found freedom, one cannot help but go through a personal metamorphosis. And depending on what type of individual work you did/do during this process, including who influences you the most, will ultimately define if you become bitter, better, happy, disillusioned, an unbeliever of love, hate the opposite sex, the list goes on.
We all want to feel good as we go through a break-up, but it is important that we take heed with the steps taken to get there. An ex feeling bad should not be the barometer of the other feeling good. Sure it may bring a sense of temporary satisfaction, but let it be just that, temporary. Otherwise you will find yourself consumed with negatives thoughts and plots on how to keep them down, and inherently dismiss the health of yourself. That is simply too much energy to spend on someone you just broke up with, no matter how good it makes you feel.
Ultimately wholeness should be the personal goal. As our hearts and emotions have been literally split in two, we must regain our sense of self, even relearn who we are or possibly reinvent who we are, and desire to become. Again, another process, however a process that can provide a pathway to new and better beginnings, new hopes and dreams, a more informed perspective on life, and a holistic approach towards relationships and love.
Letting go of love does not have to relegate our lives to a future full of misery, shame and disappointment. It could possibly become the birthing of your ultimate purpose and destiny. You have the power to influence that as I did. After two divorces and a host of other broken relationships, I continue my journey to wholeness and new discovery. I am certainly not the man I was in the past. In many ways I am better, and in others not so much, however I continue to grow, remain open and trust in the power of love and it’s influences on my life.
“Life is like a camera… Focus on what’s important, Capture the good times, Develop from the negatives, And if things don’t work out, Take another shot.” – Unknown
Have you ever had one of those moments when you knew that you should step up and do something or say something, only to quickly talk yourself out of it? I imagine it happens to the best of us at any given time, but for some maybe too often. For some it is much easier to remain silent and allow others to voice their opinions while we watch and listen, albeit painfully.
Many years ago this was me to a tee. I always took second fiddle to someone notably (at least what I assumed) smarter and more experienced. I was very comfortable with this approach until I was not, and equally realized it was not furthering my career path or providing me with any notable opportunities.
So after becoming frustrated with my own ineptness and lack of drive, I decided to change things. I first thought about the years I already had. At that time I was about ten years into my career and felt as if I knew a few things that were worthy of advancement and opportunity. Only problem, no one else knew. It was the perfect secret I had kept to myself for years, until one day I heard a voice deep within that said, “It is time to step up and no longer be silent.” Immediately I knew what the words meant and how I needed to apply them.
At that time there was so specific opportunity or profound job to speak of, but I held on to those words regardless. Ultimately it would be those words that literally changed the path of my career.
Sometimes what we hear today is not for now, but for what is to come.
I literally had no idea what was to come, but I knew what I heard and I was going to hold on to that instruction no matter what. Eventually (about 2 years later) an opportunity presented itself for me to apply the words, and I did. The rest is truly history. Today I sit at the highest position I can hold in my particular line of work, but I still hold true to those words as if I have more to accomplish, because I do.
Just last week I had the opportunity to present to my executive committee. It was an event I did not initially sign up for, but after careful review of what was going to be discussed I realized that I needed to be there, because it was a topic that I am very passionate about, and have experienced good success with. So I got in touch with my direct team and asked if they would mind if I tagged along with them. They agreed and I was off to our corporate offices. The old me would have settled for someone else delivering the message.
Needless to say, the presentation went extremely well and our team received rave reviews. It left me feeling humble, grateful but most importantly thankful. Thankful for listening to that small still voice inside on a crowded train one day almost 20 years ago.
How about you? What “thing(s)” have you not yet accomplished that you know is a part of your calling or purpose on earth? What still prevents you from pressing towards it? Could it be gender, race, religion, divorce, education, a criminal past, doubt, fear or an unbelief in yourself? The list could be endless, however it does not have to be what continues to stifle you or cause you to shrink back.
One day several years ago, I had to realize that I (Henry Nutt, III) was more than his past, no matter what anyone else had to say. My poor choices, two divorces, color of skin or lack of confidence would not be able to stop me. Matter of fact once I realized that the only person that could stop me was myself, I begin to break free of the bondage I had placed on my ability to make progress.
I removed the naysayers from my life and replaced them with people who believed in me (there weren’t many, but enough). I read great books, and put into practice what I learned.
Today, I am nowhere near where I want to be, but certainly far removed from where I once was. My life has purpose and I continue to cultivate and nurture that purpose with attributes that foster hope, community and love.
So, no matter where you are in this journey called life, it is never too late to start over, regroup or find a new path. We only need the will to do it, and begin again or for the first time.
“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!
“In order to love who you are, you cannot hate the experiences that shaped you.” – Andrea Dykstra
For the most part I grew up not having to learn most things the hard away. I listened to my parents more often than not and typically made fairly smart decisions while growing up, however my yester-years had no barring on what was to come for me as an adult. Well lets just say, I really gave great advice when it came to relationships, but my ability to consistently practice my own advice fell way short.
It is not that I went out and deliberately deceived people or straight-out lied to them, (well maybe to myself I did) but some of the challenges that came my way, I quickly learned that I was not prepared to handle them appropriately, maturely or even sometimes honestly. I found myself taking the path of least resistance when it came to certain struggles. I mean do not get me wrong, just like many others I did give things my best effort, (most of the time) however on some of the major challenges, like keeping a marriage together, I cannot say I always did the right thing. To be blatantly honest, I totally did the wrong thing(s), when it came to my second marriage especially.
One would have thought I had learned a few lessons about marital bliss, or the lack thereof after 15 years in my first marriage. Not me, I needed more lessons to really get it I suppose. Well call me a glutton for punishment, a man who enjoys to bleed emotionally or maybe some would simply say I was an idiot. Perhaps I was a mixture of all three and then some, but thankfully we all have a breaking point. A point at which we have had enough of the pain, torment and humiliation and we begin to adjust our lives in a way that becomes congruent with the ideas of getting better or becoming whole.
So after suffering and causing others to disproportionately suffer, I came to my end. The pain became overwhelming. Like, have you ever felt suffocated by your own pain? Where nothing else seemed to exist, but your turmoil and you were reminded of it every morning when the alarm clock went off? Hello, that was me too.
However, as I mentioned earlier, at some point in our lives we all come to the end of the BS, excuses and blaming others for what is rightfully ours to own. A point for me of being exposed in a shameful way. A way that caused me to finally acknowledge my responsibility in the failure of my second marriage. I wish I could sit here and say that I finally came to my senses, but it was quite the contrary. Quite honestly I was responding to the overwhelming grief and pain I felt from how the breakup actually occurred. I would say I did deserve most of the treatment inflicted on me and it certainly had me standing in attention to what was going to become the next chapter of my life, because in that time that was all I had to hold on to.
It was like I was in a cave and the waves of water was beginning to fill every crevice. My air supply was quickly being overtaken and my instinct to survive kicked in. This time it was not a reaction to simply save myself, but to really understand how I got there. Not just from a, “I made a few mistakes point of view”, but sincerely acknowledging it from a deeper place. A place of ownership, taking full responsibility, and not seeking to point blame or make common excuses.
Of course it always requires more than one person to make a relationship successful, but this relationship/marriage was over and in this moment I had an opportunity to grasp for the air I desperately needed, even though I had failed to acknowledged this very same moment in times past. This time the pain changed me, broke me and thrust me towards my true reality of denial, lies and my own emptiness.
This was an unfamiliar place for me, but I cannot say that I was afraid or anxious to be there, because for the first time I could feel and see. See what was really in front of me, and feel the pain of decisions I chose to make that hurt other people. People I was supposed to care for and protect, but I did not do for so many reasons.
Today, although I am still growing and very far from where I desire to be, I am better. A better man, that acknowledges his failures, his weaknesses and his brokenness. I am thankful for every hardship I faced, every moment of despair and the pain never seemed to cease, however it gave me courage. The courage to believe that my past did not necessarily have to define my future, but it would take tremendous work on my part to not repeat the same failures.
“The work” that would ultimately change my life and future relationships. Pain truly changed me for the better. Today I am whole, yet not perfect, hopeful, yet with a clear view of my reality and I am my own greatest surprise.
“Success isn’t just what you accomplish in your life, it’s about what you inspire others to do.” – Unknown
Having children will always be one of my most exciting, fulfilling and monumental moments that I will ever experience. It still feels like yesterday that I was having my firstborn (Niala). Well, okay her mother was having her and I was on the sidelines cheering her on, or at least trying to be a good coach. I can recall the very moment she poked her head into the world. I saw all the hair on her head first and there she was alive, healthy, kicking and screaming. It seems the screaming part lasted longer than I imagined, but I digress.
For some reason after she was born I had to make a quick dash to our vehicle to get something, not sure what it was anymore, but upon my return her mom (my wife at the time) was rushed into emergency surgery. Our newborn had caused her to tear during the birthing process and she was bleeding internally. It was a scary time for us both and it took many years for her to fully recover from the blood loss, which caused congestive heart failure. So point being, Niala almost killed her mother during birth, literally. I promise there is a point to this story 🙂
When Niala was just four months inside her mother still, I had a dream about what gender she was. I was convinced that she was a girl because I believed that God had given me her name during a dream. It was as clear as day, but I was concerned her mother would not like the name, so I kept it to myself for a while. Then I begin to look at names and their meanings in a book. When I found her name I realized it indeed was a real name and actually had a profound meaning. It was kind of two-fold, because her full name means “destined for success”, and her short name (Nia), means “strong warrior”. It was confirmed after that, and she has certainly lived up to both names and then some. From day one she came out fighting, (hence the mom story at birth) and has never let up. And interestingly enough her mom always believed that Niala was a boy, even up into birth.
The first-born is always special and because I actually wanted a girl first, it made the entire experience of being a parent that more special. The first child inherently gets the best of your time as you are learning to adapt to the new lifestyle changes, which include learning when she wanted to eat, what cry means what, and the new appreciation for what a fifteen minute nap can do. I don’t think I have ever slept the same since I had children. You gotta love them. Anyway, back to my story…
As I have watched Nia grow and mature as our eldest and the older sibling of the group, something begin to take shape early on. I wondered what type of legacy she would leave on the earth and how I would impact that. Science says that children learn the most between birth and six years old. I was blessed that her mom was able to stay home for a significant part of her early years and instill values and skills that are important for healthy development and life preparation.
As Nia grew it became evident that she was very intelligent, friendly and a kind-hearted person. At her core she has not changed, at now eighteen years old. She tends to be the glue between her now childhood friends. It has been amazing to watch it all unfold.
As a parent there are so many things that I wish could have been different for her, but I realize there is a plan for her life and I am happy and content on who she is now as a young adult. We have both given her a foundation to pivot the rest of her life off of and we both expect to see great things in her future. As she approaches the last few months of high school with an average 3.90 GPA and several collegiate options, I am obviously a proud father, but it is more than the grades that I am proud of. It is her tenacious spirit to keep focused in the midst of her parents’ separation and ultimate divorce. It is the going between two homes and maintaining a positive attitude during the process. I know what it feels like, because I was there myself as a child, but I am proud that her mom and I have committed our lives to being the best divorced co-parents that ever existed. It certainly has made a tremendous difference in all of their lives.
One day more than eighteen years ago, my first child was born. Who knew what she would become? Who knew what she would face in life? Who knows the ultimate plan for her life? I can only trust God that it all has occurred for a reason greater than I can understand, and as time progresses He will use every story and experience for her good. But today in this season of my fatherhood, I realize that my roles must change as she embarks on now what will become the rest of her life, the beginning of her career and the legacy that she will ultimately pass down to her own children one day.
What legacy do you have in the making? Are you nurturing and cultivating it like a delicate flower? Are you taking care of it like it needs you, even when it begins to talk back? One thing I told Nia when she first transitioned into womanhood, was that as her father I will be the only man in her life that would be willing to give her the world, and expect nothing in return. That’s just a fact of life, so in other words the message was for her to know that I will always have her best interest in mind when I make decisions regarding her, even when she did not fully understand or necessarily agree with them.
It is often said that we typically give our flowers to our loved ones once they have passed away. Well as my eldest child begins to take larger steps into her future, I want her and the world to know how proud I am of her accomplishments, hard work and dedication towards her education, her commitment to excellence and most importantly for being a sweet human being that I am proud to call my daughter. Keep living up to your namesake. I love you always.
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.
“No one can develop freely in this world and find a full life without feeling understood by at least one person” – Dr. Paul Tournier, M.D.
The moment I began this blog I knew a level of my privacy would be gone forever. For many reasons I was just fine with this. I’m not sure if it was the many years of teaching classes and sharing bits and pieces of my life to strangers and friends for years, or going through a few bad relationships that broke me. Maybe its how I am framed. Whatever the reason, here I am sharing my life story to the world with no hesitancy. Some of my friends ask me, “how do you feel after releasing such a personal part of you to everyone?” My answer is simple. I’ve released everything I have written long before I press the send button. It would be too painful to do it any other way. My point is, the journey that I took to get here was hard, agonizing, however essential, like a prerequisite or pre-qualification to share with you on this type of platform. I have nothing to lose by sharing my story to the world. I actually have a sense of peace knowing that my traumatic life experiences, when shared with integrity will impact someone to hope more, hold on a little while longer or keep believing that life is worth living.
It wasn’t always this way. Like many, I had secret parts of me that no one knew about. I was a master at disguising the real me. What I divulged was perfectly orchestrated. No surprises, at least to me. I was in control and very comfortable with it. The sad part about all of this was, I was living a lie (at least to a degree). The real me was hidden and only surfaced when I allowed him to. A “Plan B” was ALWAYS in my line of sight. I would not be hurt, (so I thought) rejected or dismissed by anyone. I knew how to protect myself, like drinking a disinfectant. It’s meant to kill germs, but when applied incorrectly it can destroy everything it touches. This was me. Hurting everyone around me, by keeping the ones I professed to love at a distance. I wouldn’t dare reveal the real me.
Once the brokenness (read my other post to find out what they are) did its work in me and I chose to surrender, my life begin to change. This change didn’t simply occur because I willed it to, but because I was in a new place. A place of reflection, a place of being still and finally coming to the understanding that I was missing something very essential to living a full life. That place was being true to myself. I mean really true. I came across a great book entitled, “Why Am I Afraid to Tell You Who I Am?”, by John Powell.
It challenged me to look into the mirror of my soul and ask myself several hard questions, like:
- What is at the core of my fear to show my real self?
- What happens when I finally disclose who I am?
- Why did I always seem to have a “Plan B” in place?
Answer to Question 1 – Ultimately I have learned to understand that my biggest fear was the fear of rejection. I honestly had a fear that if the most important people in my life truly knew me, there is no way that they would still accept me, therefore that perpetuated the lie. It’s human nature for most of us to believe that we’ll never be good enough or measure up to societies’ standards and the truth is we may not ever measure up, but what we must learn is we are enough as we are. My faith in God tells me that I am ever-growing, imperfect and to trust the process of my transformation to evolve to the best me over time. It cannot be with a mindset of comparing myself to others or pretending I understand something when I truly do not. We all want to be accepted by others, but we must resist the temptation to project something or someone who we have not yet become. If we only fit into a specific circle because of an illusion that we feel obligated to project, than we continue to lie to ourselves and perpetuate a lifestyle that saps us of all the creative energy essential to living a life of authentic wholeness.
To authentically learn to love thyself is to release the bondage of performing for others in order to be loved and accepted.
When we learn what mask we place on our hearts every time we have an opportunity to be fully present, is the moment that our chains will begin to drop off. For those of us that have perfected this to an art form, it may require much more work, prayer and therapy to have full release, but it is certainly possible. I am a living witness.
Answer to Question 2 – It’s easy to think that our world will fall a part when we finally choose to live a life of integrity when we haven’t for so long. When we’re making decisions to bring the real me to the table for the very first time, our common sense may tell us to consider the cost and take delicate steps. As a man who can over think even the simplest of things, I encourage you to listen to your first mind and take that leap of faith and courage. No need to figure it out completely, write a dissertation on it or share it with ten friends, just step out and frickin do it.
Take baby steps at first.
I remember the first person that I confessed to that I was molested and the first person that knew how broken I really felt after my string of broken relationships. It was absolutely freeing! For us men, we don’t do this. We place a cork on every hurt and disappointment that we have ever experienced, and will profess that it doesn’t matter when we know that it really does. We’ll cope by turning to drugs, illicit affairs, meaningless sex, violence and others acts that are detrimental to ourselves and others. While these coping mechanisms may provide a temporary way of escape, they are also equally effective in keeping a barrier up so we can remain elusive, at bay and removed from the painful reality we’re trying so desperately hard to escape. Sad truth is it doesn’t work. It never works. Disclosing who I really am brings on freedom like nothing else can. It’s the truth we have heard of for so long that truly sets us free.
Answer to Question 3 – I’ve learned over the years that having a “Plan B” in place is quite common in most things we do. We’ve been taught as children that with college and career choices, we needed a “Plan B”. We always need to have something to fall back on just in case our first plan didn’t come through. This practice has carried over to serious relationships, even marriage. I recently saw an article on Facebook where a poll was taken on how many women had a backup “friend” in case their marriages didn’t work out.
A staggering 80% of the women polled, admitted to having someone there if their relationships were ever in trouble.
I imagine this is not just a women’s issue, but more a human issue. We will enter into relationships declaring our whole heart to someone, (I know this because I did it) committing our lives, time and future, essentially all that we are safe to share and know good and well we aren’t ready yet. We know that we have only revealed the best parts of us, even after a few years and we dare to take the relationship to the next level. What pain this will bring you! Ultimately, none of us want to be frauds or live a lie, but many of the pains of our lives have made it very comfortable for us to retreat to the person that seems most accepted in that particular moment. No one quite knows but us when we shift into that other guy or gal mode.
We smile and laugh the same, we still share in interesting exchanges and come across as very engaged, but something deep within us has checked out.
The familiar wall begins to rise and soon we’re projecting a limited version of who we are. “Plan B” is full effect at this time. For me it simply was easier to project this guy then to be explicitly open with the ones closest to me. My “Plan B” was my safety net and I had justified why I allowed it to exist, not realizing that it was suffocating those important relationships and my own personal growth.
Thankfully, as we continue to journey through life we find ourselves with opportunities to grow. These are typically the times when we have suffered a broken heart or some other type of tragedy. When we confess that we hurt, or that someone hurt us we can begin to own that pain and do something positive with it.
The pain is just the indicator, like a warning light on the dashboard of your car.
It’s our opportunity to heal by acknowledging the pain. It’s our opportunity to remove the walls that have effectively kept us watching life, versus doing life. Being afraid to tell someone who you really are is indeed a scary thing, but I have learned its scarier to live a life alone, a life alone with people all around you that are clueless to the real you. It’s time to step off the ledge my friends. Dare to believe that you can.
“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” – Louis B. Smedes
“Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future” – Paul Boese
About two years ago I had the opportunity to attend a seminar at my church on forgiveness. Being raised in church for the most part and a teacher (by calling), I have experienced my share of sermons, books and discussions on the topic. One thing that was significantly different for me this time was, I was the student versus the teacher. I can’t say I approached it like any other seminar that I have attended in times past, because my life had taken a severe turn just about 6-8 months prior. It was a devastating time for me. I had went through my second divorce and hurt someone I have known and loved for many years as well. Although I had forgiven myself and asked the people I hurt for their forgiveness, which I believe they had, I just needed something more to better understand and gain the clarity that I needed to move on with my life.
So there I was, in a two-day seminar trying to understand better what I thought I already knew fairly well, until that time that is. The pastor took an interesting approach for his introduction. He had an apple in his hand with a knife. I’m a visual learner, so this was great for me. He then took the knife and sliced a small section out of the apple. The apple represented our soul/emotions and the knife represented the sins/offenses against us. He demonstrated how we are impacted by the offenses of others and depending on how deep the cut, slice or sections taken out of the apple, the deeper the wound to our soul. It was quite traumatic to see this. He even showed how some offenses can have life long impacts, by slicing the apple in half or cutting a large piece out of it. (Picture that for a moment) He then began to share the role that forgiveness has with our healing.
Now, understanding that we all have our own choice to exercise our faith and beliefs, you have to decide what direction you personally choose to take for recovery, healing and ultimately moving on with your my life. Some may choose a 12-Step Program, counseling or seeking help from a higher power. As a Christian, my personal belief system is trusting God, through Jesus Christ. I’m not here to speak on that, but it’s important for me to state this so you understand my actual process to heal and recover, specifically with forgiveness. So for me this was a three-step process, first starting with confession.
This is the act of stating what you did, essentially owning it and having the courage to tell someone else about it.
If this can be the person that you offended, that will be even more impactful, if not, make certain they’re trustworthy and honest, because this a time for authenticity and truth and nothing short of that, even if it temporarily hurts your feelings.
Next, we must repent.
This is the act of truly acknowledging what and who you did wrong and making the decision to go in a different direction, a direction that brings forth healing to you and the one you offended.
This may require support from a professional, so don’t be ashamed to get the help. During this phase, you must be patient and allow who you offended to voice their pain and how what you did made them feel or impacted their life. This phase is not for the faint of heart, so be prepared to take accusations and criticism from the one you hurt and anyone that loves them. It’s a critical step for the actual healing process to occur, because it’s allowing how you actually hurt them to finally come to the surface without hearing any excuses.
The next step would be to forgive. This could mean you forgiving yourself first.
The act of forgiving is to release someone for how they offended you, and to no longer seek retribution or revenge.
Keep in mind it is their choice to forgive you or not, but it’s imperative that you forgive yourself during this time if you haven’t already.
It is important to clarify that forgiveness will not fix the problem necessarily, heal a physical wound or return money back into your bank account that someone took from you. It doesn’t even guarantee that you will be friends again, (in some cases it may not be wise to be) but what it will do is release you from the bondage of the one that did you wrong. Unforgiveness has a picture. It looks sort of like someone in a straight jacket bound in a cushioned room, with the room representing your place of pain and the straight jacket representing what you haven’t released. Can you picture this person? Bound, tormented with a desperation for freedom, but with no idea on how to achieve it, while the anger continuously fuels the desperation. Who wants to remain in this place? It’s imperative that we release ourselves from the anguish of what others have done to us and what we have done to others by the sheer act of forgiveness. I know that many will say, “You don’t know what they did to me, I cannot ever forgive them!”. I understand this and empathize with the thought, however it is the quickest way to remain bound with poison in your heart.
My personal story of forgiveness is one full of personal anguish, however equally amazing love. I will share only a part of it now, and one day soon the entire story will become a post on this blog. My story, being the act of the very God that I believe in coming to my rescue through a person to restore me and love me unconditionally in my time of tremendous need. A true friend that I have known for years had the courage to come along side me when so many others had abandoned me or simply didn’t want to hear my side. My heart was like that apple (broken and punctured with deep wounds), and so was hers (my friend). You see she was someone who I had equally hurt during this time and I could not believe or understand why she would come to my rescue, believe in me or even choose to be by my side while I was attending this seminar. Just the act of her courageous selflessness brought a type of healing to my soul that I pray I can return to her one day. I tried to understand it, but I couldn’t. I tried (even now) to articulate it, but my words fall way short of the true depth of love exemplified to my soul on that day by one human being. I can only chalk it up as amazing grace. Truly amazing! Next to the love of my mother, I cannot say I have ever felt that type of love from another human being towards me, especially when I deserved it the least. Sigh…
I am so grateful for the example that Christ has left for me to forgive. I am so thankful for the strength of one person that I hurt the most show me what unconditional love really looks like.
Today I am thankful for Monique.
You are truly God’s vessel of honor and I will always be thankful for what you gave me during that time. God chose you to set me free through forgiveness, and you had the courage to actually go through with it. I love you dearly.
Coming full circle, the final step in this cycle of forgiveness is reconciliation, for those that are blessed to experience this, where the broken relationship and heart is restored and made stronger than before, if you can imagine that.
Where is your soul in the area of forgiveness? What apple truly represents the condition of your heart? Are you bound, or do you still hold on to the pain of what someone else has done to hurt you, whether last year or from your childhood? Are you ready to forgive them and be free, finally? I pray that you are.