“A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it. It just blooms.” – Unknown
I’m not much of a gardener, but I appreciate the multiple colors that flowers can bring to a dull landscape or front yard. Regardless of the arrangement, type of flowers planted or the blend of colors, it is always a sight to see them in full bloom. I suppose it is why so many of us head to our local nurseries every spring to plant flowers that bring life, color and beauty to our otherwise simple yards.
Today I found myself thinking about the blooming of flowers and its close correlation to our lives unfolding in different seasons. As we the gardeners plant our choice of flowers in the dirt, we have expectations that we will see the manifestations of our work at some point in the near future. We will do the work of watering and making sure our flowers have the proper nutrients to grow in their environment, all so we can experience the magic of the colorful blooms of our perfected arrangement.
Like a flower, we often have untapped beauty waiting to be experienced and seen by the those that can appreciate its wonder, amazement and vitality. But what if that flower fails to bloom? We immediately recognize that something is not right and we go into the “fix it” mode, because one, we paid for a flower that is supposed to bloom, and two it falls short of the anticipated array we envisioned from the lawn and garden books we studied.
So how does all this tie in to us? Well if I asked you if you were blooming, what would your answer be? Are you allowing the beauty that lives in you to shine through, or are you hiding it, due to shame, lack of confidence or have you become more comfortable with conveying another version of yourself that has become more your norm and quite honestly, more acceptable to family and friends? As doctor Phil says, “How is that working out for you?
As I have grown in my own journey, I have come to understand that living anything less than my authentic self compares to making a choice to deliberately wear shoes that are one size too small. I will be always uncomfortable, uneasy, irritable, lacking confidence, doubting my decisions, feeling awkward, and ultimately in some sort of pain that seems to linger on. I get it, been there and have lived the life of someone other than myself for many years, and for a diverse set of reasons, but no matter how good it seemed to look or feel on the outside, ultimately I was making the choice to die inside. A slow death that squelched every part of my self-respect and esteem.
There I was smiling on the outside, and crying on the inside. And I knew the reasons, but lacked the courage to do anything about it, until one day I faced my fears after a harsh breakup.
I learned that brokenness is not necessarily a bad thing. Although it feels terrible, it was the process of putting things back together where I learned some of those pieces were no longer relevant in my life or never belonged in the first place. Other parts I discovered were closed off and dormant with a purpose. A purpose that relegated me to silence, doubt and living comfortably in the shadows of life.
So my decision to open those dormant parts were akin to a flower blooming for the first time. My life has never been the same and I continue to press towards higher heights and deeper depths.
How about you? What are you holding back? What are you shielding? Are you letting your flower bloom? The world is awaiting its beauty and aroma.
”You will never be able to escape your heart. So it’s better to listen to what it has to say.” – Paul Coelho
Just last week I witnessed a dad telling his 4-5 year old son to not be a “cry baby” because he wanted his mother. It was in a public place, so I am pretty sure the father was a bit embarrassed, not because he should have been, but because of the valueless stereotype placed on boys, (and fathers) whom one day become men that are taught to believe that emotions, specifically crying is a sign of weakness and should never be displayed.
The term is, “suck it up”, and as a dad I have used it with my own son on many occasions, and have been told the same by my father many times growing up. Initially it seems like a harmless thing, but over time young boys (like me) learned to internalize that idea, and it eventually began to shape how we think about what it meant to be a man, father and husband.
Imagine growing up and being shamed for displaying any type of emotions. Being called a cry baby, punk or sissy. After a while you learn to contain those emotions, just to protect yourself from being shamed any longer, despite the circumstances and the slow burning turmoil begins.
Now I absolutely celebrate the beauty of our differences as men and women. We each play an important role in the family and in some cases the roles are actually reversed, but nonetheless there are a unique set of attributes being disseminated to our offspring through us. Those attributes do not primarily come from what we say, but ultimately how we live and interact with our children.
What is important to take note of is one day we grow up. We become men who raise our own children, men who establish relationships, get married, interact in the work place and in our respective communities. What does this type of man give if he has been told all his life that his authentic self is weak and should be replaced by someone better, someone stronger or someone less sensitive?
He morphs into that acceptable image of a man and screams inside, because we learn it feels better to be accepted for who we are not, than to be ridiculed for who we really are.
Obviously this goes deeper than just being shamed for crying after experiencing a fall, cut or bruise. It is about the impact to our psyche, ideals about who we are and possibly who we will become in the future. If I choose to hide my best self, due to the shame I experienced for a great part of my life what have I become? Sadly I have become a liar of the worst kind. The one that lies to himself.
It took me many years to truly discover who I was. I was ashamed based on what I thought I was supposed to be true about me, but I eventually learned there was more to who I was, and those new discoveries were admirable, holistic, pure and honest. I learned that I was okay in my own skin, no matter what anyone else had to say.
So much of our lives is spent on jockeying for position, affirmation and status. We our taught at those tender young impressionable ages through expression, interactions and experiences, that we really are not good enough as we are. Therefore we spend a lifetime reinventing ourselves. For men, we define ourselves by our possessions, how strong and viral we are and the current status we hold in the workplace and community.
Of course the aforementioned list has it’s place and relevance in our lives, but far too often it becomes the standard we live by name strive for. Therefore we short-circuit the creative genius and beauty that is waiting to manifest itself.
Sadly, for so many that beauty and creative genius will die or remain dormant, trapped inside the walls of shame, disgrace and fear that someone else built for us many years prior. Like a glass ceiling we can see the other side, we just are not sure how to actually get to the other side of it. So we make do with what we know and are comfortable with, however something on the inside will always be shouting to us, “YOU ARE MORE THAN YOU ARE RIGHT NOW!”
Will you listen or simply continue living with the armor on?
“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.
“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.
“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.
“He that would live in peace and at ease, must not speak all he knows nor judge all he sees.” – Benjamin Franklin
I have always been one to lose stuff. A wallet, (with money or a check in it) car keys, a phone, you name it. If it were not lost, it was certainly misplaced for a good period of time that usually drove me and those around me a little bonkers. Thankfully I have become a bit more careful when it comes to losing or misplacing my belongings, however nothing can compare to the loss or displacement of losing our peace of mind.
Honestly the two do not compare at all actually, because when we lose our peace there are usually other contributing factors, often not in our direct control or cognitive thought. And although losing my keys will prevent me from physically getting from one place to another, which is really important, losing my peace will prevent me from even having the desire to arise for a new day. Who cares about keys at that point, right?
As for cognitive thought, I firmly believe in Maya Angelou’s quote that states, “When we know better, we will do better.” This is why it is imperative to learn lessons, and apply those lessons as soon as we learn them. When we choose to not acknowledge or live by this creed, we probably will find ourselves repeating poor choices, stifling our growth and surrounding ourselves with people who do not promote our good welfare, which is a pretty good indication that we are not living in peace yet.
Quite honestly, we mess stuff up with the best intentions. We hurt those we love the most, but authentically desire to do them well. We make promises we cannot keep, and commit to things that are not sustainable by our own strength. We are easily influenced by societal pressures (whether we care to admit it or not). We see what others do and swear we will never become like them, until we are the splitting image or worse. Was this just my life or can anyone else relate?
Life can be like a whirlwind. Things are always changing and for every question we have, there are 100-plus more answers to navigate through, from well-intentioned family, friends, acquaintances and I’ll add the internet. How do we know which road to take, what job to pursue, which school to attend, should I date him or her, should I marry him or her, do I get a second opinion on a negative diagnosis? It can all be quite overwhelming. I have been there, done that and on many occasions I might add. And I suppose I will experience more of it in the future. That is life. The real truth is in life we can always count on most things changing. Imagine that.
However as things change, which they will, we can remain more consistent and stable even in the hardest of times. It all begins with what we are doing with our time. There is a scripture in the Bible that says, “Bad company corrupts good morals.” Simply stated, what we are attempting to shape will be impacted by who and what we allow to have dominant influence over it. Whether a marriage, a child or your own mind. It will become and respond to what it exposed to the most. That said, consider what and who you allow in your space. Be selective and protective, like your peace relies on it.
There are no quick fixes or easy buttons to press to obtain peace. My personal route for peace comes in my relationship with Jesus, however even with Him, it requires something from me. It is a personal decision to surrender my life in way that releases control, and anything that requires me to give up control, my personal control, is not an easy an easy thing to do. So consider the cost, weigh the options and decide if you are ready to no longer be at the helm of your own life. Seems crazy I know, but what good things have you accomplished alone, really?
“Don’t be pushed by your problems, be led by your dreams.” – Unknown
Anything worthy of experiencing or having in life usually takes time. In most cases that time will fall under the category of what we know as a journey. You know that place in between the beginning and the final destination? That is where the magic happens, real life unfolds and often where we discover who we really are, or desire to become.
Sometimes what we discover is not what we initially sought out, but once the dust settles, if we can muster the courage to continue on and press through the hardship of raw facts and painfully transparent friends and family that (if we were lucky) ever so delicately placed the ugly pictures of who we are and who we were on a canvas like a meticulous artist, on the other side can be an amazing opportunity of new beginnings.
As painful as it can be to revisit the past, it is where we find many of the answers that we seek, whether consciously or subconsciously. I say this because most of us do not consider ourselves as super heroes, where we knowingly place ourselves in inherent danger to seek the truth out no matter what the consequences. No, we are typically cowards and afraid of what we will find, so it is usually safer to just let things be as they are. Dull, but not in a boring kind of sense, more like a in a un-sharpened knife kind of a sense, that pierces through our skin. After all, it is the path of least resistance, which makes it safer, easier and requires less effort, however this path also leaves us empty, broken and often confused because we now realize that there is more to what we thought we knew, and left unanswered this will drive us crazy or worse, drive us to continually repeat the past like a highly executed math problem.
As I mentioned before, nothing worthy comes easy. For me love has been my mission. Not that I have always went about finding it in the best way. Like I do not advise three marriages and several preceding broken relationships to get there, but I will say true love is worth the scars and pain.
My journey has not been for the faint of heart. I had to finally come to a place where I acknowledged my part in the demise of several broken relationships. It was not them, it was a me. My inability to see, own and understand my specific responsibility was my failure, and not until I decided to journey within was I able to get it. Like really get it!
So of course this does not make everything perfect, but It has helped me make better decisions, focus my energy in the appropriate areas, (especially during a disagreement) become more self-aware of what I am feeling in the moment and to be a better listener. All things that were once far removed.
My attempt to find love again was nothing more than my innate existence of being a hopeless romantic. I would never stop pursuing it, however my natural desire to no longer experience deep pain on a continuum motivated me to travel on this journey with more wisdom (from outside sources) along with an open mind.
My only option was to become bitter and old with a mouthful of disdain from the mere mention of “true love”. This was not going to be my story, so I journeyed on and on and on…
On the outside it looked foolish I am sure to many, but again it was a worthy cause to me. My past did not necessarily have to dictate my future, and chance had nothing to do with it. It was purpose and a commitment to myself for a change.
My journey back to love actually had nothing to do with anyone, but myself. It was a choice to learn from my past, understand it in a more profound and dynamic way, which is a nice way to say I needed to do some work (with a counselor), introspection (with a plan to action) and actual application of what I learned along the way.
I have not arrived yet, but I am on my way to a life of authentic truth-telling and truth living. No more shadows, lies or niceties that attempt to keep peace at all cost. I am me. That is what I know, live and declare beyond with just words.
“To remember who you are, you need to forget who they told you to be” – Unknown
Have a moment of reflection with me… Think back on the things you have learned over the course of your life, whether through formal education or through the school of hard knocks. Both have relevance and have probably helped to establish you in life today, whether professionally or personally.
There is nothing like learning and I look forward to discovering something new every day, especially when I can apply that something towards my life in real-time. As of late, I have found myself gaining new insight with thought-provoking books, intriguing blogs or a good old fashion heart to heart conversation with a trusted friend, however as much as I am down for constantly being educated I equally understand the importance of how the knowledge that I possess, transcends to the knowledge that transforms me, because what I actually allow to work, apply and become a part of me is what will truly matter. Anything less is probably based in pride, a self perpetuated illusion or my unwillingness to grow.
Due to the fact that I have spent the majority of my life teaching, counseling and helping others, taking my own advice is sometimes an area that I fall down in. It can be so easy to read a good book or hear a great sermon and automatically think about who it can apply to, not thinking it was meant for me. Have you ever been there?
It easy to do, especially for those of us that spend more time giving of ourselves than not, but unfortunately it does not provide an excuse nor does it provide a remedy for performing the hard work of changing the (internal) ugly things about us.
What happens when we put that great book down, come home from a life changing church service or had that in-depth talk with a wise and thoughtful counselor or friend? Are we finding ways to apply the truths we have discovered about ourselves, or are we in denial and making excuses for the way things are still?
No, it is not easy and will more than likely cause you grief, distress and ultimately become one of the hardest things you will ever have to do, but when we fail to grow, evolve or change we quite honestly short-cycle our own blessings. In other words we get in our own way and become our own worst enemy. Been there, tired of doing that!
I cannot say that my desire to grow or change has come by the way of epiphany. It has usually come by the way of pain, whether self-inflicted or by outside sources. Either way it hurts the same and has been a motivating factor towards not repeating the things that brought me such travail.
So if you are anything like me, keep helping others and blessing people with your life-giving words, heart-felt thoughts and life changing deeds, but please do not become remiss with your own personal work. Once you are done with all that, do not fail to recognize who is number one (that would be you). The ones we support depend on us to take care of ourselves well, otherwise we will have nothing to give that is worthy.
Keep doing what you are doing, just make sure your words line up with your life choices.
“When you are willing to feel it, you can begin to heal from it.” – Unknown
I grew up during a time when the neighborhood kids played hard everyday and usually always until dusk or when the street lights came on. Being a young boy there were plenty of bumps and bruises to go around. On several occasions I found myself being rushed to emergency to close up a gash or cut with stitches. As many times that I fell on my head growing up, it was a blessing that I did not suffer any permanent brain damage.
One of my many exploits involved playing on an older abandoned car. Somehow I fell off the car and right into the corner of brick head first. I remember placing my hands over the open wound and walking to the front door to tell my mother. As soon as I got to the door I removed my then blood-filled hands away from my head and immediately began to scream along with my sisters. By my reaction you would have thought I was going to die, but several hours later, with about six to eight stitches, some ice cream and a few balloons I was all back to normal somewhat.
The human body is an amazing creation. The ability it has to heal itself is truly a wonder and an amazing testimony to God’s grace and mercy. A little ointment, some medicine or a few band aids and we are all good.
Unfortunately this proven cure-all does not apply to emotional or psychological wounds. Often these types of wounds are easier to mask therefore they go untreated for years or even decades if ever even identified. We can numb the pain we feel inside with substances designed to calm us, inebriate, or completely remove us from the realities of our pain. As much as this choice does nothing to help us get better, we must admit it certainly helps us to feel good in the moment, but at some point these potentially detrimental choices can begin to erode any goodness that remains in our lives.
Whether that goodness comes in the form of a great career, a healthy relationship or our respected positions in society, ultimately our inability or unwillingness to address the wounds can have lifelong impacts that not only affect us, but potentially generations of our families, friends and communities.
Although I am not one to judge anyone for where they are in life, I have learned through my own personal experience that one of the greatest enemies to healing is pride. No one could ever deny a physical wound or resist surrendering to the obvious treatment they need to recover, but an emotional wound can be hidden as I mentioned earlier for years. Unfortunately at some point the only person hiding from the wound is the one suffering from it.
The by-product of the wounds manifest themselves is very specific ways and usually have patterns that become obvious, and although no one may have diagnosed us or is qualified to do so, people eventually become aware there is something just not right.
Some of those wounds manifest themselves as angry uncontrollable outburst, over eating, abstaining from food, physical or emotional abuse toward others, isolation from society, an inability to maintain a healthy relationship and so many other things that simply get in the way of living a prosperous and healthy life.
No one sets out to purposely live this way, but it happens everyday to millions of people. We live with scars that have never been healed therefore walk through our lives living on egg shells. The slightest things can set us off or send us on a tail spin of despair.
The illusion of a scar is the wound has thoroughly healed. Sometimes this is not the case at all, because underneath the layer of protective skin could be an infection that is spreading throughout our body, and until we uncover it and treat the infection in our physical bodies we will never heal and ultimately die. The same is true with emotional or psychological scars. If we fail to treat the deep-rooted issues that we suffer from, the pain will spread throughout our lives and destroy every part of it.
For years I tried to make other people happy at the expense of my own joy, and for years it seemed to work, but at some point I became weary, resentful and angry. During that time I was not sure if I was angry with those I endlessly sacrificed for, or if the anger was with myself. After some introspection (but unfortunately not enough) I came to the conclusion that I was angry with what others did to me. I mean after all, “it was their fault because they were all selfish people who simply took advantage of a nice guy”, I use to think .
How wrong I was! My decision to give tirelessly was no one’ s fault but my own, and what I needed to recognize was why I chose to live my life in this way. Who was I actually trying to please or gain approval from? There lied the keys to the core of my issue. My desire to please others resulted from a childhood issue with my own father. For years I sought for his approval and in my own mind I never received it, so I went on a mission to make anyone that I could happy. The problem is it never seemed to fill the holes in my heart. No matter how much I gave, I was still that much more empty.
The wound grew deeper and my effort to gain comfort grew with it, until I had no more to give. That is until I arrived at a place where I became empty, numb and isolated. It was a part of the dynamic that led to my multiple divorces and ability to abruptly shut down. I went from one extreme to the other and for a time I felt justified and as if I was finally doing the right thing for myself. After all it was time for me. “I did enough for everyone else”, I thought, but the pain and emptiness was still there.
One thing pain does for certain whether emotional or physical is it brings a wake up call. It will force you to your knees in surrender or have you running to the doctors in seek of some sort of relief. I was there, seeking relief, not a temporary fix, but something authentic and sustaining. No longer did that cure lie in simply making others feel good, but it lied in my own decisions and ability to be okay with them as they were, no matter how others felt about them or if they chose to agree with me or not.
Fast forward several years and I see a man who has a scar, but underneath I am truly healed. The scar will always remind me of where I was and what I am capable of, therefore acts symbolically of my transformation of becoming whole.
No longer do I live a life that seeks to solely please people. I place myself in that formula now and realize, “I am important and worthy enough to be first and I do not have to apologize or feel bad about it anymore.” The hole in my heart regarding this issue has been filled as a result to becoming whole, living my truth and healing from my wounds.
I am enough and so are you, so let’s begin to conduct ourselves as if we whole heartedly believe it.