Sunday, February 24, 2013

"It's Not In How You Fall..."

It’s rare to remember the most meaningful and thoughtful words of wisdom we’ve ever received. I’m not talking about career advice, but life-affirming words of action. 

If you asked me earlier today, I might not be able to give you an answer as to what it would be for me.

It was only in hearing it again, in nearly the same words, through someone else’s pain, journey, and subsequent triumph that it sunk in. Thank you Ben Affleck. 

Why do we give advice? In sincerity, it has nothing to do with wielding your opinion over someone who is too hurt to have their own. 

My hope when it comes to advice is to allow someone feel something they otherwise might not. 

The hope is to figuratively reach into someone’s soul and gradually peel back the layers, one by one, until they’re not afraid of the emotion that’s keeping them from moving forward. 

The hope is to offer an honest and earnest suggestion that will lay the path, however gradual, to peace and ultimately joy. 

I started this Grace Redefined journey on the heels of one such piece of advice: 

“It’s not in how you fall down, it’s how you get up,” she said to me in a text message. 

I stared at it and recalled similar words from my Grandma left behind in a handwritten and undated notecard. She wrote, “Life lessons are hard - changes! bumps in the road! discussions.” 

Then, armed with this new information I wrote my first blog post and arrived at my own version

“It’s not in how we fall, or if we fall, or how many times we fall, it’s that we do get back up.”

Next to knowing that is knowing there are people, probably few, but there are people in our lives who will pursue us and our need to meet joy even when we are in the midst of our own junk. God does that, so why can’t we? 
Blessed are we who have at least one or two people who will meet us right where we are. Blessed are we who has someone who is there to let us know they’ll still be there when we finally do get on our own feet. 

Rising up isn’t about walking away from those who carried us, it’s about walking alongside them so we can prop them up when their knees become weak. 

If you’ve fallen down and you’re walking ahead, you’ll know who those people are because they’re right there with you and if you have to... you catch each other and struggle up.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Perhaps I Didn't Lose Anything After All

I lost a diamond today. 

Well, I’m not sure if I lost it today or yesterday. 

I was getting ready for an afternoon run in warm and sunny conditions, and as I was grabbing my iPod, iPhone and car keys I looked down at my hand and noticed it was missing.

Oh, this is lovely, I thought. 

The “old me” would have been so frustrated by this loss, that I would’ve never made it down the stairs and into my car to drive to the park to go on the run I intended to take. It mattered to me, but it didn’t matter enough for me to stop everything I was doing. It’s just a diamond. 

I arrived at the park, and I thought for just a second I could search my car to see if this tiny between 1/8th and 1/4th of a carat diamond was somehow in the car. Within a few seconds, I found an old pair of sunglasses that had mysteriously disappeared months earlier. Relieved, I put them on and hit the pavement. 

It was just a diamond, I thought again. I vented about it though, and got helpful feedback on how to replace it. I didn’t, however, let that loss dictate the rest of my day. 

What’s in a diamond anyway? It represents so many things and different things to people. The “loss” of the diamond seemed quite appropriate for the journey that it took to exist to begin with. Diamonds aren’t pretty at first glance, and they become beautiful often under pretty volatile circumstances. To me, it seems like a fitting parallel for the person wearing this now-missing diamond. 

I bought the ring in which that diamond was set while on vacation in Hawaii just more than two years ago. It was a symbolic and thoughtful purchase I made after a series of difficult days and weeks. At the time I called it my “Freedom Ring.” I knew, if I wore that ring and looked down at my hand and saw the slight glimmer from that diamond, I was doing all the right things and I was going to be fine. 

Perhaps it is fitting that just a little over two months after I had this I am happy realization, this reminder that “I am okay” disappears. 

Just maybe someone who needs a little nudge and encouragement may find their own “freedom ring” and they, too, will no longer need it when they’re happy on their own. 

Then, they, like me, can choose to replace that missing sparkling reminder and carry with them the bookend of the journey: from one “volatile” and disruptive passage to the slow-goings of moving on and grace in the process to accepting circumstances and situations and loving it all and being happy anyway.

Perhaps I didn’t lose anything after all. 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Accepting Recognition and Other Conversations

I’ve always shied away from recognition. There’s been something a little uncomfortable about accepting praise and being proud. There’s something conflicting and contradictory about being told you’ve done a good job, knowing it, and then believing it. 

I write this, but I have two Emmy awards sitting on a bookshelf in my living room. They used to be actually in the bookshelf behind some books. I moved them when I rearranged for Christmas decorations a few months ago. A friend came into town to visit a weeks later, and when I noted the changed location of the statues she said, “As they should be.” The statement implied they should be out in the open for all to see. 

In the past, I’d have denied the truth and crouched away from it, but they still sit on top of the bookshelf and the Christmas decorations have been put away. Something about that conversation was enough for me to believe it was alright to be proud of myself. 

If you’re reading this, you’d think now is a time I’d start telling you that it’s alright to be proud of yourself while remembering the help you’ve had along the way. Or, you might imagine I’d use this as an opportunity to talk about “the moment when” I knew I could be proud of myself. That’s not quite what’s happening here. 
That conversation, brief mention, with that friend serves as the perfect transition into something different here at Grace Redefined. Recently, I had the opportunity to “Guest Blog” for a former colleague on her site. It was just published on Saturday, February 9, and the very conversation I just mentioned took place on the day in which I write about in that blog.

I was asked to write about my best day in Las Vegas and why.

So, if you’re interested, you’ll find that here: “My Best Day in Las Vegas.” 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Inside My Own Dreams

I dream in color. 

Sometimes, my dreams look like old filmstrip fluttering before my eyes and I am lucky if I can catch every other frame.

In the past few months, I’ve had very vivid dreams about reading emails or receiving text messages, so vivid that I roll over first thing in the morning to see if it was real. When it’s not, I find myself puzzled and wondering why I would dream such a thing. (And wondering, is there something I’m supposed to know that I don’t yet?)

On occasion, I have dreams that are so specific that my inquisitive nature and curiosity of the field of psychology prompts me to try to dig deeper for a meaning.

Well, after several recent “episodes” of being a surrogate and having someone else’s baby, a recurring dream about a Transformer that comes to my house and takes me (as a 5 year old) away, an awful dentist’s visit, and dreaming that actor Michael Keaton is my parent, I realized analyzing my dreams might not get me too far. They might just be dreams.

The analogy here is sometimes we try too hard to understand what’s happening in our lives, when we don’t have to do that work. As believers we have full measure of authority above us. He knows exactly what we need and when we need it. 

When we have a flat tire on our way to work, or meet someone we knew before in some unpredicted new setting, or a relationship falls apart, or a new one starts - we will drive ourselves crazy trying to figure out why. You know what? I think, if we knew why, it wouldn’t have happened in the first place! 

So, surrender it all... even the nightmares where you can’t find your dorm room on the first day of college. 

Matthew 16:23 (NIV)
“Jesus turned and said to Peter, 
‘Get behind me, Satan! 
You are a stumbling block to me;
you do not have in mind the things of God, 
but the things of men!’” 
Proverbs 3:5 (NIV)
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart 
and lean not on your own understanding.”

2 Corinthians 4:16 (NIV)
“Therefore we do not lose heart. 
Thought outwardly we are wasting away, 
yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.”