Archive for the ‘Friendship’ Category

Photo Credit: Photos by Mavis via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Photos by Mavis via Compfight cc

In this life there are always going to be problems. After all, as I have been reminded of time and time again, we live in a broken world full of broken people. And broken people hurt each other – sometimes on purpose and sometimes by accident. The bottom line is, everyone gets hurt at some point. And I’d venture to guess if someone insists they have never been hurt, they were probably either the ones inflicting the pain, or they are lying to themselves. I suppose there could be the rare case that it’s actually true, but if it is, then it truly is a rare case indeed. It would be nice to be able to say that the cause of all my problems rests squarely on the shoulders of others, but unfortunately for me, often I am the cause of my own problems.

So, if I am the problem, what can I do to fix it? And shouldn’t that make things easier to fix? I mean, the only person I can really do anything about is myself, right? Alas, it’s not that simple. It’s actually easier to see the problems in someone else’s life because I’m not part of that life, and it has no bearing on me. I’m a neutral party. But the reality is, it’s not my job to see everyone else’s problems. It’s my job to work on me. So, how what does that mean for me?

First things first. Before I can begin to fix a problem in me, I have to actually know that there is a problem. My experience has been that I don’t really see my own problems. I’m too close to the issue. That’s where friends come in and help. I am blessed to have at least 2-3 good friends who are willing to point out to me when I have a flaw in my thinking or if I am overstepping my bounds. I trust these friends with pretty much every aspect of my life – which is saying something because I don’t really trust people easily. But because I trust these friends, I know that if they are taking the time to tell me I have an issue, I listen. I don’t like it. But I listen. I might get angry at first. But I listen. I listen because I don’t want to be one of those people who refuses to see the issues in my life and stay in the same unhealthy patterns. But what do I do once I have seen or someone has pointed out to me that there is a problem?

I think there are three things I need to do in this situation. After all, God gave me a brain, and He gives me the tools necessary to learn and grow.

1) I need to review what has been pointed out to me or what I suspect, to determine the truth in the situation. Sometimes a perceived problem, isn’t truly a problem. But often it is. So, first, I need to examine the facts. Who is telling me I have an issue? Is it someone I trust or someone I just happen to know? Is it someone who tends to find problems in everyone or someone who usually thinks well of people? Am I just feeling insecure, or do I have facts that back up my suspicions? This could mean that I need to ask for honest feedback. It definitely means I need to get into God’s Word to see what He says. The main point here is that I need to be willing to take an honest look at what has either been pointed out to me, or I have a suspicion about.

2) Once I have determined that there is actually an issue, I need to be willing to admit that there is a problem. Admitting the problem means that I recognize the issue, and now I want to do something about it. I don’t want to be one of those people who says “Oh yes, I have a problem, but that’s just who I am.” That’s not a healthy outlook. If I have a true issue, then it is something that can be remedied and worked on. Yes, I have a personality, and that personality makes me who I am, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. But if I allow myself to be ruled by my personality, then I am not looking out for the best interests of others. And as a child of God, I am called to care about other people. Philippians 2:1-4 says:

“Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others” (NASB).

I don’t have the luxury of thinking only of myself. I have a responsibility to look out for the interests of others. So, if I have an issue, I need to admit to the issue. It doesn’t mean an overnight change necessarily, but it does mean I need to admit there is a problem.

3) Finally, I need to address the issue. I need to take steps to improve in that area. Sometimes that’s difficult to do because perhaps the action or thought has been so deeply ingrained that it takes a long time to make the change. Making the change quickly isn’t required. Committing to making the change and then acting on that commitment is. Some things I can do to help me with that is to ask someone to help hold me accountable. Knowing someone is going to be asking me about my progress means I am more likely to take action. Another thing I can do is get into God’s Word and see what He says about that issue, and also memorize Scriptures that can help me stick to my commitment. I can also keep a journal to track my progress.

I do need to remember, though, that making progress isn’t necessarily overnight. I am going to have times when I fail. At those times, I need to remember that this is a process, and instead of giving up, I need to get up and keep moving forward. My experience has been, when I have actually done this, I have walked away feeling better about myself and have been better able to help others in the process. And really, isn’t that what I’m here for – to help others?

What about you? Do you have other ideas for how to make changes in your life? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear them!

~Until Next Time,

Karen Signature

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Photo Credit: Elisabetta Foco

Photo Credit: Elisabetta Foco

I don’t know why, but it always surprises me when people let me down. You’d think that after a while, it would be “old hat,” but the reality is, it always catches me off guard. It’s like I get into this illusion that certain people will never let me down, so when they do, it almost devastates me. I get frustrated with myself over this because the reality is, there is never going to be a person, not one single human person, who is going to never let me down. I’m sure I’ve let my share of people down. In fact, I know I have. You just have to ask my children, and I’m sure they will be happy to spell out the times I’ve let them down.

Yesterday, a friend of mine said something to me that hurt. The biggest reason it hurt was because the statement wasn’t entirely truthful. I don’t think my friend said it to be hurtful, nor do I believe my friend was trying to be malicious. It had been a frustrating day, and I hadn’t made it any easier with my insecurities and worries. So, I feel kind of bad that I am still hurting, and yes, even a little angry over the statement that was made. If there is one thing that hurts me most it’s feeling like I’m getting the blame for something I have no control over or for the actions of others. And that’s how I felt about what was said. But in all honesty, I can’t say that the entire statement wasn’t truthful – just part of it wasn’t.

See, I have these insecurities inside of me that I have been trying so hard to get past. Sometimes I feel like I’ve made great strides in doing so, and then other times, they come back full force and haunt me until I do or say something that I never intended to do or say. It’s like I sabotage all my closest relationships because to let anyone too close is to allow them to hurt me. But I can’t live life like that. I can no longer live in a vacuum of friends because I am too afraid of getting hurt.

I was thinking about that this morning, and I realized something. Not all hurt is a bad thing. “What?” you might ask. That’s right, not all hurt is a bad thing. Here’s why I say that. Yes, what my friend said to me hurt my feelings. I could sit here and dwell on the part that wasn’t true and stew, mutter, and grumble about it. But what does that do for me? Absolutely nothing except to feed my insecurities. My other option is to consider the part of the statement that was truthful – the part I can actually do something about. That does serve a purpose. It can be a catalyst for change.

If I look at all hurt as bad, then I never learn to grow. I stay stuck in my harmful and discouraging behavior – I stay alone. But, if I look at hurt as a change-inducer, then I give myself an opportunity to grow, learn and mature. That seems way more productive to me. I don’t want to stay stuck in the past and dwell on the things that tear me down. I want to dwell on those things that will build me up. In turn, I want to use those things to allow me to help build others up. I want to learn from my past, so I can have a better future. And then, I want to use those things to help bring change to others.

So, even though I am still hurting over what was said, I do see a purpose for it. I do see how it helps me to grow. I do see where it can help me make a change in my own life. And maybe just maybe that will help me let go of the past and move toward my future.

Your turn! Are there things you’re holding onto – insecurities, hurts, anger, etc? Are they building you up or tearing you down? What things do you need to let go of in order to move forward?

~Until Next Time,

Karen Signature

Image courtesy of rattigon / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Image courtesy of rattigon / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

I’m a person who has many acquaintances, but only a small amount of people that I actually call friends. And I’ve an even smaller “inner circle” of friends that I’d call my close friends. It’s only in the past couple of years that I’ve realized just how important having those friends is to my well-being. It’s not that I didn’t know having friends was important, but I think for a long time I just felt like it was easier to be off by myself. I wanted friends. I’d complain that I had no friends. But I wasn’t doing anything to actually be a friend.

One of the things I’ve learned is that in order to have friends, I have to be willing to be a friend. That means, that I need to be willing to listen, give, learn from, and be there for someone else. And those are all things I’ve actually always understood and tried to do. But there is one thing I left off that list. Being a friend means I have to trust. I have to be willing to take a risk. And that’s hard for me. I’m not known for my risk-taking ability. I’m more of a “stay in my comfort zone” kind of person. But the only thing staying in my comfort zone has netted me is a boring life of loneliness. And who wants that?

I was recently contacted by someone from my past from whom I never expected to hear. At first I was a little skeptical. I mean, it had been a really long time. But, I’d been curious about this person for a while, so I decided to respond. And then after a little while, I took it a step further and decided to trust this person. I don’t even really know why I felt like I could or even should. I think I just got tired of always having to be wary and careful not to let too much of myself be seen. Or maybe it was the inherent lack of judgment I felt from this person. Whatever the case, I chose to trust. All I can say is I’m so glad that I chose to do that. For one thing, a very good friendship has grown from that decision. I have someone I know I can talk to, and I don’t have to hold back information for fear that I’m going to be rejected.

But there is another benefit that I have started to see from this friendship. My other friendships have started to become more open as well. I’ve started to become more outgoing. I’ve also started to be more willing to be vulnerable with my friends. I am sharing more of me, and as a result, I am finding these friendships to be more rewarding and fun. It makes me think that maybe my lack of trust because of past issues was unfounded. True there are some people who can’t be trusted. But are they really the majority? Have I been allowing myself to miss out on wonderful friendships because I was too scared to trust?

I don’t want to do that anymore, so I’m making a commitment to myself to be willing to put myself out there more. I’ll trust that even though I might be rejected by some, there are others who will accept me for who I am. I think as time passes, I’ll find that because I was willing to be vulnerable with others, I’ll have a fuller, richer, more fulfilling life. And that’s not bad.

What about you? Do you have issues with trusting others too? Or are you the type of person who is able to be who you are, no matter who is watching? What are your thoughts about trust, risk taking and friendship?

~Until Next Time

Karen Signature

Today I started going through a book called The Daily Writer (by Fred White) – it’s a book filled with “prompts” and ideas for how to make writing a daily part of life.  I am looking forward to going through it. I opened up to the September 15 page, and today’s “inspiration” is to write down my thoughts.  Wait – let me rephrase – it’s to write down my most audacious thoughts.  In fact, it says “the more unacceptable you think they are, the better.”  It also says to do that for the next week or so.  Uh oh – we might be in trouble!  Without further ado, here I go.

The first thing I want to point out is the definition of the word “audacious.”  You see, I wasn’t exactly sure entirely what that meant.  I thought perhaps it meant “odd” or “weird” or “crazy” – you know stuff that would make some people wonder about my sanity.  What I found is that the “audacious” means:

  1. extremely bold or daring; recklessly brave; fearless
  2. extremely original; without restriction to prior ideas; highly inventive
  3. recklessly bold in defiance of convention, propriety, law, or the like; insolent; brazen
  4. lively; unrestrained; uninhibited

                                  –as found at Dictionary.Com

Well, if I decide to be bold, daring, reckless, and inventive, I might actually be right that people would wonder at my sanity.  But nonetheless, I shall attempt to be “audacious.”

Those who know me well might be surprised to find that I am actually a pretty shy person.  I don’t put myself out there in situations where I am uncertain or where I do not know anyone.  I go into a shell, and I only come out if someone draws me out or puts me in a situation where I am forced to reveal my personality.  See, once someone knows me, I tend to be talkative and open and I share more of me with them.  I have even been told I’m quite funny when I do so.  Some would think that might make me more likely to be outgoing and extroverted, but the opposite is true.

You might ask why that would be.  Simple answer – I seldom let anyone get to know me that well.  In fact, since my husband and I separated in 2008, I don’t think I have let a single person know me well enough that they get all of me, my full-blown personality.  I might let part of me out.  I might share a portion of who I am, but I don’t share all of me.  I hide the deepest part of me way down inside, so that she can’t get out.  I pretend to be someone I am not.  Deep down inside I am that extroverted, funny, full-of-life person.  I wish I knew how to get her to come out.

It’s not that I haven’t seen parts of her start to surface.  I have.  There are those rare moments when I let myself shine through, when I am the confident, bold, person I have always wanted to be.  But they are few and far between.  More often, I am the shy, quiet, insecure, shell-of-a-person that I let everyone see.  But what I want more than just about anything is to be me – to let people see me for who I am.  I want to be bold and courageous and let people know who I really am inside.  I want to be real.  I don’t want to be a shell.

So, let me introduce myself to you.  My name is Karen.  I like to read and write.  I love to sing.  I actually do like to dance – though I will probably never do it in person because it makes me feel like a spaz (and it really embarrasses my children).  I like to make jokes – though they tend to be lame, and I am the only one who finds them funny – but people laugh anyway because they are so lame that it’s ridiculous that anyone would have actually said it out loud.  Perhaps the delivery is funnier than the joke?

My favorite TV shows are things like Psych, The Mentalist, Criminal Minds, Covert Affairs, White Collar and Leverage.  (Notice any trends there?)  Now, for the funny one – my favorite all-time movie is Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.”  Yes, I said it.  I have always loved all the different versions of this story, and this movie takes the cake – and no I don’t care that it’s animated or if it’s childish.  My favorite series of books is the Anne of Green Gables series by L.M. Montgomery.  I have always wanted to be just like Anne.  I felt like her many times – unwanted, unloved, but full of passion.  The only difference is, she let hers overflow – and I learned to hide mine.

I will read everything I can get my hands on, though I have stopped reading books that have more cuss words than actual words in the first few pages.  I am a firm believer that if an author can’t find any other words to use that aren’t cuss words, then they should be finding a different profession.  Surely a good writer can find better words to use?

I am a Christian.  I believe that God created the world is 6 consecutive days and rested on the 7th.  I believe that Adam and Eve were the parents of all living humans today.  I believe that God sent His Son, part of the trinity, to die for our sins, and that that same Son rose again after 3 days, and is now sitting in heaven with His Father, waiting for us to confess that He is LORD.  I believe that He will come again someday.  And I believe that all those in heaven and on earth will one day recognize Him for who He is, and those who rejected Him will someday regret it.  I also believe that when we pray, God works.

I believe that I have a purpose here on earth, other than pleasure.  I believe that I am here to serve others, and that God has a unique job for me to do.  I believe that we are each given a specific talent and that if we don’t use that talent, someday it may be taken away from us.  I believe that God gave parents the job of raising their children to know Him and to follow His ways.

I am a mom.  I have two wonderful children who drive me to distraction at times.  They are teenagers now, and soon they will be moving out, and I often wonder if I am getting it right – and I often believe I haven’t gotten it right.  But more and more, I realize that I cannot do more than my best.  So, I do my best and then trust God to take care of the rest.

I believe that being honest is more important than whether or not I get in trouble.  So, if I make a mistake, I will own up to it.  I believe that hard work can give me what I dream about.  And I do believe that I can attain my dreams – if I am willing to put the work into it.

I get frustrated with people who say one thing and do another (and that includes myself).  I hate it when people talk badly about other people – especially when they only get half the truth.  I try to avoid gossip – though I cannot always say I succeed.  I try to be who I say I am – not just when I’m in front of others, but when I am out of their sight as well.  Again, I do not always succeed, but I do try.

I believe that good friends who will speak the truth in love, and are willing to accept the same in return are precious and hard to find.  I believe I met at least a few of them when I was in High School, and even today, I look back at those days with fondness – even if I rarely see or talk to those friends anymore.

So, if this is me, one might ask, why do I hide?  Because even though this is me, I have failed so often.  I have hurt so many people – including myself.  I have done wrong.  I have given in to temptation so many times.  I have let everyone down so often.  I am ashamed.  I am ashamed of who I became.  I am ashamed that I left all I believed.  I am so ashamed.  But I am so tired of being ashamed.  I am so sick of living in a shell.  I am so over being alone.

So, once I introduce myself, I can’t take it back, right?  So, here I am.  This is me.  Accept me.  Or don’t.  But I have to be who I am – and I have to strive to be the person God means me to be.

What about you?  What shells are you hiding behind?  Or are you the same person inside as you show outside?  What helps you break past your barriers and open up to others?

Until Next Time,

I just love Sundays!  Sunday is my day to relax and rest in the Lord.  I spend time every day in God’s Word, but Sundays I set apart especially to learn about God and to fellowship with other believers.  I find that the growth that I see in my life is directly proportional to the amount of time I spend in fellowship with other believers.  When I spend more time with other believers, I grow more.  When I spend less time with other believers, I grow less.

I think some of this has to do with the fact that when I spend time with other believers, they challenge me to learn more about God.  As I learn about God, I grow in Him and through Him.  I allow Him to work in me more.  That, in turn, helps me to challenge other people to grow.  It is amazing to me how fellowship with other believers can push us to grow.  I guess that’s why God tells us in Hebrews 10:23-25 to “hold fast to the confession of our hope” and to “stimulate one another with love and good deeds,” and finally “not forsaking the assembling together.”  It’s interesting how I have heard that my whole life, and only today finally put two and two together.

But then, that has always kind of been my way.  I have a tendency to take seemingly simple things and make them into something more complicated.  This is something I have struggled with for a long time.  I seem to have this habit of learning things the hard way instead of the easy way.  I don’t know why that is.  Perhaps it’s because I have the “need” to test everything for myself.

It’s not that it’s bad for me to test things, but when I am unwilling to accept anything as fact without testing it, I am doing myself a disservice.  There is nothing wrong with learning from the mistakes of others.  In fact, that can save some heartache.

I often find myself telling my daughters that they can learn from some of my mistakes.   The interesting thing is that God has given me two daughters who are just like me.  They test and test, and they make their own mistakes – some of which they could have avoided had they just listened to me.  Yet, they need to figure things out for themselves.  It seems it’s not really in our nature to just take the word of someone else.

It’s good that God has given my children who are like me (as hard as it is for me to admit).   🙂   They challenge me daily to live out my faith.  And they are always watching – and being teenagers, they aren’t afraid to call me on my inconsistencies.  This challenges me to grow.  It challenges me to listen and learn from other Christians who have been through similar trials.  It challenges me to get back up and keep trying – because what I do has an impact on someone else, even if I never realize it.

I am so grateful that God puts godly friends in my life…

Until Next Time,