Tag: guilt free

”In order to save myself, I must destroy first the me I was told to be.”  – The Dreamer

 

Yesterday I was thinking of all the ways that God has blessed me. I think of my family, my career and being in great health at 49 years of age. None of this has come easy, but I am grateful for all of it.

However, I was thinking even a little deeper than just those obvious things. I thought about the many gifts and talents I was born with or have learned over the years of my life, that unfortunately still lie dormant. I think of the many reasons (excuses) I have given myself to keep them on the shelf. Of course none of them are really viable, but nonetheless they have created a successful bridge between it and me reaching some of my goals.

I understand that we can be and usually are, our own worst enemy and critic, but for me this goes beyond just coming down on myself. I read somewhere (that I cannot recall at this moment), that many people place their goals on the shelf due to fear. And the weird thing is it is not fear to fail at it, but to actually become successful in it. Imagine that one thing holding people back is the idea that they will become successful and that concept becomes the paralyzing factor.

So one way I have learned to mitigate this is to write things down and make myself accountable to a few trusted people who will question my progress and status of a project. I have given them complete license to do so, and it helps to remind me of the big picture I have created to remain focused and on task.

However, even with my friends licensed to annoy me to no end, it will not be enough to get me through those stale seasons. The dark places where every excuse seems legitimate to me. The times when I am feeling overwhelmed, depressed and tired. Something in me has to break free, almost to a type of righteous indignation level. You know when you begin speaking to yourself like it is time to do it and no excuse works any longer?

It is as if you become angry (with yourself) for allowing yourself to hold your own self back. Yes, you look to no one as the crutch or reason for your current wilderness state. The full responsibility is yours and nothing will hold you back once you arrive at this place. You envision opportunities and finally see it clearly, the game plan required to take you to that next stage in your life journey.

So what is on your list?  A mediocre relationship that has lost it’s fervor, a job that is uninspiring, your desire to lose weight and always end up in the same place, being retired and going through the motions of a dull and uneventful life or it just an overall feeling of being stuck?

Well I get it and can totally relate, but me relating to you will not help you. What are you going to do? What do you believe about yourself? What mission does your purpose serve, or better yet who does it serve?  This type of life transformation cannot be about getting rich or having the perfect anything. Those “things” become a by-product of the mission.

For example, I been writing a book for several years that is in the beginning editing stages, but if I allow the past to dictate the future, the book will sit in this condition for another two years. I believe it will serve a great purpose for my potential readers, but this idea in itself will not produce anything. Only my actions to follow through will, allowing nothing to distract me.

A break-out moment is the time in our lives when one becomes so focused on what they need to do, that they start with what they have, where they are and trust they will have what they need for every stage of the journey. Excuses are no longer a part of their vernacular. Each struggle becomes an opportunity to grow, learn a new thing and press closer to the ultimate goal.

One cannot be coaxed into the place. It has to be a personal choice, a choice that lies deep within our souls, well beneath the layers of self-doubt, second guessing relatives and friends and the critic within.

Are you ready to experience your breakout moment?  I’d love to hear about it. Please share it on the comment section of this blog or email me at hgene780@gmail.com or theupsideofdown.org

Keep Pressing,
Hank G

“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.  

 

Keep Pressing,

Hank G

 

 

 

 

 

“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. 

 

Keep Pressing,

Hank G

 

 

 

 

 

 

“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.

 

Keep Pressing,

Hank G

 

 

 

 

“Surrender to what is.  Let go of what was.  Have faith in what will be.”  – Sonia Ricotti

 

Once upon a time we were the apple of someone’s eye.  Whether it was our parents, spouse, another family member or perhaps a school teacher or mentor, we could seemingly do no wrong.  There is nothing like that feeling and I believe it is essential for us all to have high esteem and see ourselves as individuals that can achieve anything that we put our minds to.  

In order to maintain a healthy outlook on life, along with the many pursuits that come with it, and to not allow our desire to live a life full of pride and honor to become mistaken for arrogance, self-righteousness or self-appointed entitlement, it is equally important that we practice living with compassion, humility, mindfulness and gratitude. 

The interesting thing about these attributes along with similar ones, is they are not instinctive.  We never have to teach our children how to be selfish, mean-spirited or to lie.  Quite the contrary right?  It is the human condition and has always existed.  So if we are born this way and as adults continue to see ourselves as invincible, invulnerable, supreme or even bulletproof, it is no wonder that we find ourselves struggling when it comes to living life by the golden rule – “Treat others as you want to be treated.” 

At its core, this idea violates everything we stand for from birth, so it is not easily shaken, overcome or altered, as much as we want to believe it is.  Even with our faith in God, it is still a lifetime of trials, growth and learning new things about our fragility and capabilities to be perfectly human.  And sometimes the being human part is what we tend to forget or neglect.

I get it that we want to teach our children to be the best, (and we should) and to aim high in life, but let us also not forget to share with them that living meaningful and full lives is not only about accomplishments, goals and having new things.  Let us share with them that richness in life can be found in failure, and although our struggles may cause us to become ultimately stronger, they first may cause us to feel vulnerable, weak and fragile.  Attributes most of us are seldom comfortable with and would rather just pass to the next guy, (present company included) but I realize that if my struggles have done nothing else, they have done this one thing very well.  That is to help me get over myself. 

The characteristics I would rather not recall, yet are essential parts of who I am, and without the experiences I would be less of a man.  I say this because I recognize the value in what I learned through the process.  It was painful, disturbing, disappointing, and at times hurtful, however it was equally life changing.  I can honestly sit here today and  say I know who I am.  I am far from perfect, but I am better.  Not better than any other human out there in the world striving to grow, but better than who I use to be.  That is enough for me.

So I know that I am still the apple of a couple of people’s eye, (like my mother’s and youngest child) but I no longer live for that or even try to uphold the image, because at some point people will be let down.  At the end of the day I am human, pressing to grow in character, which for me equates to courage, not simply seeking to be stronger for strength’s sake, but courage that equates to admitting my own faults, failures and ability to live in truth even when it hurts me the most. 

 

Keep Pressing,

Hank G

 

“I’m not giving up, I’m just starting over.” – Unknown 

 

You were strong, vibrant and life seemed perfectly intact and even predictable to some degree, until it wasn’t.  Then one day it all fell a part, almost out of nowhere.  After you cried in disbelief, and wallowed  in personal misery for a while, eventually you reopened the curtains to your self-inflicted dark life and began to take notes on what the hell happened to you.

Often times accepting what and why things fell a part is harder to take than the occurrence of the actual event itself.  This is true because once we start to examine the real causes of our temporary demise we begin to not only see, but understand how we failed.  And once we are able to ascertain the layers behind the cause we usually cannot point a finger at anyone but our lowly selves.

However, if you have any gumption in you at all, you also fully recognize that this event has also provided you with something new.  A new opportunity to start over, hit the reset button and begin again.  I will always believe that it is never too late to start over, no matter our age or the circumstances.  The ingredients for success lie within each of us.  We just need to be able to pull the lessons out and apply them to where we are today. 

So where are you today?  Have you let go of the past or do you still hold on to it with feelings of guilt or anger?  Have you reconciled with the people involved or is that even possible?  Are you able to face the situation or people involved without angst in your heart?  This is usually a tell-tell sign you have finally released the past. 

None of this simply happens because we want it to, or because it is the right thing to do.  It totally depends on the work we do in the time we have to accomplish it.  If we spend more time complaining about what occurred and seeking excuses versus recognizing and owning our part, we still have not arrived at the promise land and will ultimately find ourselves in the wilderness of life again searching for truth that is actually nearer than we could imagine, but still out of reach.

There is nothing like owning your own poor decisions.  Once we own them, no one can throw it in your face later with any sting.  Our acceptance provides us with an opportunity to grow, learn and heal.  These are like one way tickets to a better future.

So are you ready to go there?  Are you tired of being bogged down by past issues?  Well face them with dignity and courage. Own them and reconcile it.  Get help if needed, but do not allow your past to dictate your future.  There is still much to live for, so go live!

 

Keep Pressing,

Hank G

 

“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.

 

Keep Pressing,

Hank G

 

“The secret to genius is to carry the spirit of the child into old age.” – Aldous Huxley

 

This picture is indicative of what my youngest daughter Alena loves to do whenever we have the opportunity to go to the beach.  Whether she is prepared with the right clothing or not (I think those were jeans), she tends to find a way to indulge herself in one of her favorite pastimes, and although I took this picture over two years ago, it reminds me of her still carefree and loving personality. 

In this moment nothing else mattered to her except essentially jumping over the waves as they came crashing ashore.  I remember as I was watching Alena and her friend, I thought to myself, “to be young again.”  Not so much from a chronological stance, but from a state of mind.  A place where life is simple.  Our cares are few, our concern about those cares are minimal and our dispositions tend to be renewed promptly after a good night sleep.  

Although life can often become complex and full of unplanned events, learning the art of being carefree can essentially become a lifesaver for those of us (like me) that can get a bit stressed and overly uptight at times.  Not to say that we should not address our issues responsibly and thoughtfully, but have we established a rhythm or balance that allows us to breathe and release, in the midst of hard or stressful times?

According to the Richmond Hypnosis Center (April 2013), 110 million people die every year directly due to stress, that is 7 people every 2 seconds dying from stress. What a staggering number!  If that does not get us thinking twice about how we manage our lives, I am not sure what will. 

From the very big things like how we handle tragedy, manage money  (especially when there seems to not be enough), to the daily grind of our part in making relationships successful.  Life is hard, but our perspective on those hard things is what can get us through when we are beginning to lose sight or lose hope. 

Now ultimately it is not enough to say, “forget about all my problems and let’s go to the beach”.  That would obviously be irresponsible and will most likely get you evicted, fired or you may find yourself alone in a relationship.  However, I believe there is a way to balance the responsibility while maintaining your joy.  

Somethings we learn the hard way, and we also realize that we cannot necessarily change or alter things because they involve the minds of other people, however the other variables in our overall destinies is you and me as individuals.  The one person we can control is the person staring at us in the mirror, and although even this too can be quite challenging, it is ultimately where our power lies. 

The one thing I have learned from my children (especially when they were younger) is to keep life simple.  Granted, playing or jumping around at the beach will not cause any of our problems to dissipate, but there is nothing like taking a walk on a trail, taking in nature or going to the gym to release some stress. 

The fact of the matter is absolutely nothing about the circumstance may alter, but the key component is you, me and our collective perspectives.  That is what kills us.  When we see no hope or way out we become disillusioned, depressed and with thoughts that can lead to irrational and illogical decisions.

How many poor choices have you made while in this state?  Do those decisions still haunt you today?  Was there a lesson to be learned from it?  Have you learned the lesson?

I have learned through experience to never make a decision while I am angry.  Every time, I have come to regret it and have usually suffered from it in some sort of way.  So because I refuse to continue to repeat bad history, I remain open to new ideas and ways to view my life.  In addition to my prayer life and seeking God for answers I keep that child-like attitude towards everything. 

When I find myself becoming too serious or methodical about a situation, I do the following:

 

1. Sleep on it a good night sleep does wonders for the mind.  You will awake refreshed, renewed and ready to handle the situation with a different mindset and more energy.

2. Release the stress – get involved with an activity, e.g. Exercise, massage, talking to a trust worthy and wise friend and  prayer.  Remember that stress kills and usually we can feel it in the form of neck and back tightness, headaches, stomach aches, sleepless nights, etc.  I love going to the beach.  I purposefully went to the beach years ago to take a nap while I listened to the waves on the background. It did me wonders.

3. Know when to walk away or pause – at times it is imperative that we give ourselves a moment to think about what is happening.  People may be pressing you to make a decision now, but give yourself time to reflect and consider all the facts before giving any answers.  

Even if for a moment, when we give ourselves the opportunity to take a second look, revisit the whys or confirm in our hearts that we are making the right decision, it could mean all the difference.  Choices we make that have any bearing on the rest of our lives require our keen attention, sound minds and balanced thoughts, so however you arrive at this place, give yourself a reason to do so.

For me, I will remember the beach and Alena jumping over the waves in her jeans like it mattered.  And for her it did.  An example I will always remember and take to heart. 

 

Keep Pressing,

Hank G

 

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“Your present circumstances don’t determine where you go; they merely determine where you start.” – Noah  Qubein

 

I am like a little kid when it comes to traveling, especially when it comes to travel by plane.  I still prefer the window seat and it has always been something about the takeoff that excites me while I peer through the window once we become airborne. Even as I am writing this week’s post I am currently on the runway at Midway Airport in Chicago, about to take off and return home to the Bay Area.

As we sit here awaiting our turn to depart, I prepare for that exciting moment when the pilot says, “we have been cleared for takeoff.” Like so many others passengers, once we are airborne I gaze into the skyline on a clear day or night watching the earth below become smaller and smaller as we climb higher in altitude. And when it is cloudy there is something magical about bursting through that last cloud to once again see the beauty of the radiant sun and clear blue or dark vast sky and the stars.

Those cloudy skies or inclement weather patterns tend to carry some turbulence that is able to seemingly toss the plane around like it is a toy, however time after time and trip after trip we place our trust in the hands of the pilot and crew (along with a few prayers to God) to take us through the rough patches safely. Thankfully they do this more often than not each day all around the globe.

So what about those rough patches and turbulent times occurring in your personal lives? How do you find yourself navigating through them, if at all?  I have found there are about three categories most of the world will fit in when it comes to how we deal with our circumstances. In my humble opinion, they are as follows:

 

1. Acceptance – this person will live with a circumstance as if it belongs to them and rarely feel a need to challenge, question or change it.

Many times one can find themselves in this place due to the simple fact that they become emotionally, physically and psychologically fatigued. Life is hard and sometimes the desire to fight no longer out weighs the pain being endured by whatever situation we are dealing with. Take for instance the plight of a single mother raising a child or children alone. The demand and expectation to be “on” everyday of each year can become a daunting responsibility.  And although I see and personally know many single mothers that get the job done each and everyday, it does not mean they are not without those moments of feeling like giving in to what may seem like a never-ending struggle.

Sometimes the power of our reality will cause the hope and faith we have to believe it will get better, to shift to a negative only type of thinking. Our focus will literally begin to revolve around the idea that this thing will never change, and even if it does not the moment we begin to live as if it will not, we become victim to a way of life that welcomes defeat and this gives us license to lower our standards. Although this choice may bring temporary relief it will not bring sustainable fulfillment, so it is imperative that we consider the ramifications of our decisions.

 

2. Denial – this person will deny that there is even a circumstance or situation to contend with at all.

Have you ever met someone in denial of a blatant reality that everyone else seems to be aware of?  It is quite a sad situation, because they continue to dig themselves deeper into the turmoil by blaming others or never taking any responsibility. Perhaps they have become so numb and cold that they fail to recognize or feel the pain of the circumstances any longer. Unfortunately our failure to see will not excuse us from future torment or provide any solutions.

Consider a father that has lost touch with his children. After years of ridiculing, emotional outbreaks and painful exchanges of blame, he is finally left alone. However in his mind he is right and due to his inability to really hear his children out, he continues to have a distorted version of the truth, which further perpetuates his dismissive attitude.

Sadly these people tend to die alone while being justified in their version of what was true. Not many choose to be around them because their lives our full of turmoil and pain, and as much as you want to reach out many times they still push you away literally or by remaining emotionally unavailable. Much of which has been created by the circumstances they chose to deny.

 

3. Positively Resistant – this person not only accepts that they have issues to contend with, but they are actively seeking ways to confront and rise above them.

Have you ever met someone who simply never gives up? Their acts of bravery are contagious and honorable.  Sometimes it may seem as if they are not fighting anything at all, but never forget that they are. They have just learned how and where to focus their energy towards. Like you they may cry at night and encompass all the feelings of disbelief and frustration, however the difference is they wake up each day prepared to fight again, and the word quit is not in their vocabulary because in their minds there is no other option.

Often this individual is misunderstood for being insensitive because they allow little (if any) time for counterproductive conversations. He/she will utterly dismiss you, because they cannot afford unproductive talk to influence their focus. They have a plan and only want to work that plan, not make excuses or complain about why a particular situation did not work in their favor. When they fall, they rise up ready to plan for the next thing with more wisdom and knowledge.

I like to believe that at some point each of us will come to a breaking point or revelation about our own plight and circumstances in our lives. Whether we decide to do anything with it is obviously another matter. For most it will require great courage, unrelenting strength and a long-lasting commitment to ourselves.

A commitment that declares you are important enough and worthy of the work or change you want to see in your own life. Nothing is harder than starting because it usually means you have to take some sort of inventory and ownership of your current condition. No longer will the kids, your ex or current spouse, boss, or ignorance suffice for an excuse, because you began to realize that is exactly what it looks like to live below or at the level of your circumstances, and that is no longer okay for you.

So perhaps you are one of those individuals that was not afforded the luxury (if I can call it that) of a choice. The life and circumstances that you face have always been this way and you just deal with it the best way you can. I know many will fall into this category as well, so there should be no shame or judgment cast in whatever condition you find ourselves in. You just need to be aware of where you are, so that you can appropriately and effectively address the issues.

No circumstances will magically disappear. They all will require prayer, effort and a tenacious disposition. Even when you pray, let your prayer to not be to take the thing away, but let it be, “Lord give me the strength to endure the road I must travel on.”  As you journey on this road you become like that plane. Initially you are on the ground level, but ultimately through your commitment over time you gain momentum and take off, eventually you will be above the storms of life, and you shall see the sun again.

 

Keep Pressing,

Hank G

 

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“Freedom isn’t going through life unscathed, It’s choosing to not let what has hurt you bind you.” – Leo Christopher

 

To finally come to an understanding that I will never stop growing has brought a sense a of peace, calm and self-acceptance to my life.  When I consider who I use to be, (not that I was such a bad guy) I recall a younger version of myself that was guilt-ridden, anxious, worrisome, unfulfilled, hero-driven, (a need to rescue others) and having a huge lack of confidence.  Honestly I could add more to this list, and perhaps if you know me you would as well, however I know that I have come a long way and I am grateful for the growth, genuine love and hope I have for myself. 

As a Christian, so much of my life has been centered around helping others and focusing on how to love people more effectively with God’s grace, not that I had mastered the love walk or anything, but as much as this is an essential component to our Christian walk, so many times we tend to neglect that portion of the “Golden Rule” that speaks about loving ourselves.  I mean how can we really love anyone effectively, genuinely and honestly if we have not first learned how to love ourselves first?   And one way to determine the level of love we have for ourselves is the depth of love we have in our personal relationships.  

For instance, it took me many years to come to a revelation that my chain of broken relationships was more about me than the women I dated or pursued.  The old (and selfish me) would easily deduce that it had to be something broken in them, versus me and in some cases they were equally broken, but it was still a more accurate reflection of me than them, and even though deep down in my quiet moments I intellectual knew this, I would still never allow it to truly resonate with the parts of me that mattered the most.  Therefore it was easily tossed away and on I went fighting within myself and hurting people. 

So what has to happen to finally come to a place where we recognize these dark things about ourselves?  Because we are each uniquely different and have obviously inherited our own set of proclivities and issues, the sky is the limit on what it takes to finally get to “that place” of genuinely wanting more for ourselves.  Whether we call it our “aha moment”, “our wake up call”, or we finally hit rock bottom, something has to happen to get us there.  Most of us simply are not wired to come to that place on our own recognizance.  I wish it were different, but sadly it is not.  Unfortunately (depending how you look at it) for me it was hitting that rock bottom place that finally woke me up, and although I am humbly grateful for that moment, I would rather not relive it again. 

So as much as I recognize that I am a new creation in Christ (according to II Corinthians  5:17), I equally understand there are more layers yet to be identified, revealed and acknowledged.  And I realize that a relationship is one of the instruments that God uses to challenge me while on this journey called life. 

Just today I had a conversation with my wife that revealed I still have many areas I still need to grow in.  It was not an accusatory type of conversation, but it prompted me to share a few things that perfectly identified an attitude or type of protection I still carry from my childhood after being molested.  The best way I can describe what I discovered is using the word layers.  Just when I thought I had something mastered, another thing pops up to show me there is still room to grow. 

This particular thing happened to be about how I display emotion and empathy while simultaneously protecting myself when feeling threatened.  It’s kind of a weird thing, but when someone is abused, (especially as a child) we develop defense mechanisms to protect ourselves when we have no control on what is happening to us.  Since we cannot prevent this terrible thing from occurring, we find a way to distract our brain or shut down the parts that feel the pain.  Although this became a way for me to survive as a kid, it also became a way of life for me as an adult, which has significantly impacted how I connect, defend and love.  

During my childhood I had no idea this form of protecting myself would gravitate to becoming a full-grown “thing” in my adult life.  It is like I either had all good and bad feelings together or I had none.  As a child, none was preferred, but as an adult my feelings and ability to share them is obviously essential to experiencing a “normal and functional relationship”.  So from time to time, this hidden place gets tested.  Initially I become defensive and agitated, but I then recognize “this place”, from “that place”.  Today I am safe and no one is attempting to harm or hurt me, like in the past, therefore I deliberately remove the blocks that allow me to retreat and hide.

I acknowledge that these layers are inhibitors to my overall growth and my ability to maintain a healthy relationship, and although the layers may always exist in my life, I am learning how to work through them with more effective prayer, applied wisdom and life changing grace.  I am working towards a future that is not defined by my past and a relationship that is not haunted by layers of deceit, abuse and lies.  I am living above the layers that attempt to bind me.

 

Keep Pressing,

Hank G

 

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