Archive for the ‘Vulnerability’ Category

Photo Credit: cellar_door_films via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: cellar_door_films via Compfight cc

Have you ever been in a situation where you feel like you’re a failure no matter what you do? Or how about one where you walk away defeated every time a certain person speaks to you? Or maybe you’ve been in one where you feel like you’re just hanging on for dear life and are afraid to let go for fear that you will fall further than you can get back from. I can honestly say I’ve been there. In fact, I can think of at least one situation in my life right now where I feel like that.

The question I have at times like this is, do I give up or do I hang on? The reality is, I could do either one. And either could turn out for my good because there are good and bad to both decisions. Currently, I have a situation whereby I have to decide if I need to stay where I am at or look for a change. That’s difficult for me because I have invested a lot of time and effort into this situation. I have worked hard and have had a lot of successes. There was a point when I woke up wanting to be a part of this situation.

Those days have passed. So now, I have to ask myself, do I stay or do I go? Do I survive or do I live? Do I give up or do I let go? That last question might seem like I’m asking the same question twice. But I’m not. Giving up means I stop trying. I just give up and let things fall as they will. Letting go means, I make a choice to walk away. I’m not giving up; I’m choosing a different path. Giving up means I probably stay in the situation that is defeating me. Letting go means I look for an opportunity to learn and grow and change – and hopefully be built up.

Right now, I feel sometimes like all I do is survive. I do what I have always done because it’s what has worked for me in the past. I’ve probably mentioned I like to stay in my comfort zone. That’s because I know it works for me. The problem is, I think I’ve become stagnant. And that is probably part of the reason I feel frustrated and defeated all the time. I’m tired of doing the same thing, expecting a different outcome. That never works for me (duh!). Instead of things getting better, I fall further and further into defeat until eventually, I either am forced to get out, or I fall so far I can’t get myself out.

I no longer want to survive. I want to live. I want to grow. I want to be built up and build others up. I do not want to stay stuck in a place where there never seems to be a win any longer. I no longer want to be in a place where I feel like I’m a failure every single day of my life. I no longer want to listen to all the things I’m doing wrong (and believe me there are lots of them). I want to hear what I’m doing right once in a while. I’m tired of dwelling on the negative. I want to hear and see the positive.

So, the question I pose to myself today is: “Are you going to give up or are you going to let go?”

Your turn! Have you ever been in a situation where you spent each day feeling defeated? What did you do (or are you doing) to better that situation? Do you think there’s a difference between giving up and letting go? I’d love to hear from you!

~Until Next Time,

Karen Signature

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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

From the first time I read the description about the book Unglued by Lysa Terkeurst, I wanted to read it.  As a woman who has many _240_360_Book.955.cover“unglued” moments, I was interested to learn more about how I could avoid reacting to my feelings or when others got under my skin and learn more about how I could respond when my feelings started to rear their ugly head or when I felt like someone was walking on my feelings.  I was not disappointed.  I am so glad that I got the opportunity to read this book because it opened my eyes to areas where I need to improve, but more than that, it gave me practical ways I could actually make progress.

From the words I read in chapter 1, “Feeling unglued is really all I’ve ever known.  And I’m starting to wonder if maybe it’s all I ever be.” (pg 14), I was hooked.  I know that feeling.  I could relate to that feeling.  What followed was a call to “imperfect progress”, to give myself hope that I could make progress, and that imperfect progress is still progress.  Throughout the book, Lysa shares her own experiences and how the principles she gives in this book have helped her to make imperfect progress.  

What I love about this book is how transparent Lysa is with us.  She doesn’t try to make herself seem like this perfect woman who has it all together.  She’s real and authentic, and she candidly writes about how badly she sometimes has responded when someone “bumped up against her happy.”  Because of this, I was more open to reading what principles she put in place to help her to respond better to those who got under her skin or in situations where her feelings were starting to control her actions.  She reminds us that even though we cannot control everything that happens in our days, we can control how we think about them and how we act in response to them.  This is so important.  

She not only gives principles for how to more appropriately respond to those who get under our skin or when our emotions get in the way, but she warns against labeling ourselves.  How often I have put a label on myself (or let others put a label on me), rather than choosing something different?  

Overall, I highly recommend this book to any woman who feels like her emotions are in control of her actions.  I feel like I walked away with sensible, practical ways that I could start to respond in a way that would help me to promote peace, while at the same time not invalidating my own thoughts and feelings.  I found that her examples were easy to relate to and that they added validity to her premises.  This is an excellent read and a good resource for learning to make “imperfect progress.”

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com®book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

~Until Next Time,

Karen Signature

Today would have marked our 10-year anniversary.  This should have been a day of celebration, a day of rejoicing, a day of laughter.  Instead, it is a day that I remember what might have been.

Nobody thinks that their marriage will fail.  I certainly didn’t.  This wasn’t in my plans and certainly wasn’t in my dreams.  But it happened.  My marriage did fail.  And along with that failure, two people became separated.

You might think that after being separated for almost 5 years, I would be past the pain of our separation, but I am not.  Oh, I don’t feel the anger or the depression any longer.  I don’t sit around blaming myself or him.  I don’t berate myself for our failure.  But I still feel the pain.  And on this day, I feel it more keenly.

See, a marriage is a coming together, two becoming one flesh.  It’s about leaving and cleaving.  So what happens when those who are supposed to cleave are separated?  Inevitably, they hurt.  I feel like a part of my is gone forever – lost in the abyss of our broken marriage.  And I mourn her.  I mourn who I could have been.  I mourn who we could have been.

That part of me that I gave to him, I will never get back.  And that’s OK because I don’t want it back.  I gave it freely and willingly.  I don’t regret giving it to him because it means that for at least one point in time, I took a risk.  I threw myself wholeheartedly into a relationship, and gave it my very best shot.  The fact that we are now apart doesn’t change the fact that at one point we were together.

I loved him very much.  I still love him.  My former pastor said in a sermon that loving someone is doing what is best for them.  I do feel like I did what was best for him, even though it tore me apart to do it.  I know that we were not good for each other.  We didn’t bring out the best in each other, we brought out the worst.  That isn’t to say that our marriage had to fail.  I’m sure that if we had each done things differently, we could have stayed together.  But we did not, and we are not.  And while I still mourn what will now never be, I am OK, and I will be OK.  I do not find my purpose in whether or not I am married, have a ton of friends, have lots of kids, or having lots of things.  I find my purpose in serving God.  And I’m still learning how to do that well.

Perhaps if I had learned that lesson sooner, two people might have hurt less.  And as a result, three others might also not have been hurt in the process.  But I can’t sit here and dwell on what might have been.  What is important is here and now.  What am I going to do with the rest of my life?  How am I going to serve now?  How will I use this sad part of my life to help others?  Will I stay in my safe shell or will I break free and take a risk?

Is there something in your life that you feel like you could have done better?  Do you struggle with the guilt and shame of failure?  Where are you finding your purpose?

~Until Next Time,

Karen Signature

Have you ever known you should probably do something, but you didn’t?  You know, when you feel that urge deep inside – not a temptation that urges you to do something wrong, but the type of urging that says, “This will be good for you.  You need to go do this.”  Do you know what I’m talking about?  I have had these urges many times, and just about every time, I ignore the urge, and I don’t do that thing I feel like I’m supposed to do.  Last night was one of those times.

During our Wednesday evening service at church, Pastor gave an invitation for people to come forward and pray at the altar.  This would mean going up in front of everyone and kneeling on the floor at the front of the church.  It would mean, getting up and moving forward.  It would mean, anyone who wanted to could see whomever decided to go forward.  He said that those of us who had things going on in our lives that were difficult or painful, or if we wanted to pray for someone else who was going through something, then we could go forward.  It wasn’t a compulsory thing by any stretch, but it was an open invitation to be vulnerable and allow the people of God to embrace and comfort and pray for us.

I longed to go forward.  I felt like something was pulling on me to go forward.  And I resisted.  I fought.  I didn’t go forward.  I wanted to, but I didn’t.  Pastor mentioned that pride could keep us from going forward.  He said that we might not want people to see that we have needs.  He suggested that perhaps we felt like people would look down on us or that we might feel like it was an admission of weakness if we went forward.  He was right.  I keep letting my pride get in the way of me asking for help.  I let pride keep me from doing the things I need to do.  I let pride keep me pressed into that seat, longing to move, but unwilling – or unable – to do so.

But it’s not all about pride for me.  Fear plays a big part as well – fear that I might be letting someone down if I admit that I am weak.  Or maybe it’s fear that God might be disappointed in me, or that I am not good enough.  I am afraid to fail, afraid that I will look like a failure.  For me, pride and fear go hand in hand.  They are not separate, they are united and they are equal in strength.

Even now, as I sit here writing about this memory, with tears rolling down my cheeks, I wonder why I could not bring myself to get up out of my seat and go forward.  There are so many difficulties that I am going through right now – some that only I know, and some that only a couple of people know.  Some of the problems are little things, but when they are all combined and the big things are rolled in, they seem insurmountable and overwhelming.

Perhaps you are wondering why I am bothering to write this and share this with whoever decides to read this.  It’s simple.  This is my altar tonight.  I didn’t go forward last night.  But I am coming forward today.  I am admitting that I am overwhelmed and in need of prayers.  I am admitting that I am weak and have these heavy burdens.  I am confessing that I was wrong to stay in my seat when I so clearly needed to go forward.  And I am asking you, my readers, to pray for me.  I am not going to go into details, but I feel “hard pressed on every side” (2 Cor. 4:8 NIV).  I need wisdom and strength to get through this difficult period in my life.  But, I haven’t forgotten the rest of 2 Corinthians 4:8, which reads, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;” (NIV).  I am not crushed or despairing.  I may be weak, but God’s “strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9, KJV).

Have you ever felt like you were drawn to do something, but resisted?  Perhaps you’re overwhelmed now.  Perhaps you have something that you want to lay at the altar yourself.  Please share below, I’ll be happy to pray for your needs as well.

Until Next Time,

Karen Signature

 

Life is always going to be full of little surprises.  Things are going to happen that can’t be planned for or controlled.  Setbacks will happen.  Good or bad, curve balls are going to be thrown.  The question is, what am I going to do when those curveballs are flung at me?

Last week, I read a blog post written by Michael Hyatt titled, “A Question That Changes Everything.”  In this post he writes, “One of the best questions you can ask when something negative happens is this: ‘What does this experience make possible?’”  That question made me stop and think.  How many times do I let negative circumstances or incidents turn me into a complainer?  How many times have I cowered and refused to move forward because something negative might happen?  How many times have I chosen to give up, instead of move forward because life threw me a curveball and my life was upset?

Yesterday, my oldest daughter sprung some bad news on me while we were driving home from choir practice.  She told me about something she had done that she was not proud of…something I had warned and warned her not to do.  My first reaction, I must admit, was not exactly something I am proud of.  In fact, I had to ask for her forgiveness and God’s because I set a very bad example.  Or, another way to look at it is, I set a very good example of what not to do when your child springs unwelcome news on you.  In any event, my heart is breaking for my daughter because this choice she made cannot be undone.

After I had taken a few minutes to calm down, we discussed what had happened.  And that blog posting I read popped into my mind.  “What does this experience make possible?”  I paused.  I prayed.  And I realized, this experience made it possible for me to show my daughter unconditional love.  I could have chosen to make her feel worse.  I could have chosen to hold this against her forever.  I could have chosen to make the situation worse….which is really where I was headed at first.  Instead, my daughter now knows that I love her no matter what huge mistakes she makes.  She now knows that I am not going to abandon her just because she has done something wrong and made a bad decision.  And she now knows that there is nothing that she can do that is unforgivable.

I learned some things, too.  I learned that taking a moment to stop and ask a question can defuse a situation before it even starts to spark.  I learned that, with God’s strength, I can love without condition.  I learned that, even though I make mistakes, my daughter is just as willing to forgive me, too.  And most of all, I learned to love and accept my daughter – mistakes and all.

So, now, when life throws me curveballs, I’m not going to fall to the ground and cower in fear.  I’m not going to whine, grumble and moan.  I’m going to get up, and I’m going to ask myself what is made possible by that situation.  And then, I’m going to hit that curveball right out of the park.

I’d love to hear from you.  What do you do when you find yourself in negative situation?  How do you respond when life throws you a curveball?

~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,