Wednesday, April 24, 2013

You Can't Always Get What You Want

I really felt led to this post today.  It's been a couple days in the making really.  I have started it a couple times in my head and pretty much scratched it each time.  I find that when I get into a particular mood my posts follow suit.  Truth, I've had a craptastic week.  Yes, for those who don't know what that means - simply, it was not good.  Now, I've had some good events, like taking my last finals ever as a college student, but I've also had the unfortunate pleasure of a few lessons learned.  Ironic, huh? 

These lessons I've learned, they aren't exactly new ones.  Nope.  They have been taught to me before.  In fact, to add insult to injury, I was actually able to recall, ver batim, what I learned the first time. And, because there cannot be enough salt in this wound today, I even remember the time, place, and face of the person who taught them to me. Yep, exact same scenario.  Man, I'm a glutton for punishment!

So here is the thing - we all have those lessons we learn in life along the way.  The ones that we tuck away when we think they aren't needed, because maybe, just maybe, we are able to escape from the truth of them.  However, we aren't really escaping, we are simply filing them away for future reference.  BUT, and this is a big but, if we don't keep that memory, that perfectly organized card catalog of all the lessons learned, we get the joy of revisiting the lesson.  And let me tell you, the second time around is even MORE painful than the first. 

The reasons? 1) You're older.  Simply put, there comes a time when you should know what it is you are facing.  You should be able to see things for what they really are.  Yes, I understand that some lessons present themselves in different editions, if you will, but the subject matter is always the same.  Always!  2) You're wiser.  They always say that wisdom comes with age.  Well, let me tell you some cases, with age, comes the reversion to your youthful idiocy.  You know, those ideological fantasies that all men are good, decent humans. 3)  You're finally unaffected by charm.  What-the-smurf-ever.  Yeah, ok, so  you thought all that "time" was well placed.  Nope, it was a tactic.  Yes, this was the exact lesson you had already been taught. 

To which, I want to say thank you to J.R. for that lesson - initially learnt in 1998.  You have no idea how much I fought that lesson.  How much I thought it was the wrong message at the wrong time, but really it was the thing I needed to hear the most.  The thing that the moment I needed to apply it, I failed.  But in hind-sight I remembered it more clearly and saw it for what it really was.  I blew it off then, and fought it now, but the student has finally heard the teacher.  Praise the Lord for forgiveness and the opportunity to right wrongs and try again.

So, friends, as you go about the day-in and day-out, remember one thing; You can't always get what you want.  But for all those other times, you might just find, you get what you need!  Oh, and lessons, are never out of time!

You Can't Always Get What You Want

Sunday, April 21, 2013

What's in a Name?

I've thought about this so many times over the past few months.  The meaning of my name.  So, Mandy, in and of itself,  doesn't have a a "special" meaning, but since it is a derivative of Amanda, which does, one can say the meaning is: Worthy of Love.  Actually, any number of Google searches will say the same.  I have known this since I was young actually.  My grandma had gotten me a bookmark that said this when I was in middle school.  You know, back in those days when romantic ideology is at its peak.  Back when you could believe in prince charming and happily ever after.  In fact, it was my 8th grade school year when I got this.  I can see it now, in my mind's eye.  It was pink with a meadow scene on it and it said - Amanda:  Worthy of Love. 

I wanted to believe it.  I have always been a hopeless romantic at heart.  I've always believed in true love, love at first sight, and happily ever after.  I've always believed that commitment and honesty were synonymous, and that "I do" meant "until death do us part."  I always hoped that "When a man loves a woman Can't keep his mind on nothin' else" (thanks to Michael Bolton for putting it to words!).  But that is the problem I have had...I've always seen it all through the eyes of a story, a movie, or a love song.  At that time I never knew it was so much more.  So, very much more.  But now I do.  Now I know.  Now I know way more than I should. 

Love is brokenness and heartache.  It is vulnerability on an epic level.  It is deeply painful and remarkably joyous at the same time.  It is anticipation and let down.  It is excitement and disappointment.  It is acceptance and rejection.  It is found and lost.  It is who I am and what I want, but it is also something I don't have.

And that is why I find the meaning of my name to be one of the most comical things I have heard.  Apparently my parents were messed up in the head to give me this name.  No, I'm sure there was another reason, something more profound than a Barry Manilow song that prompted the issuing of said moniker.  I'd like to know what, but am sure there is no clever reasoning behind it.  So, worthy of love....  worthy.... of.... love....

Worthy - having adequate or great merit, character, or value
Love - a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person

Yet, here I sit, not feeling love.  Not the recipient of anyone's love.  Not the giver of love to another.  Not, well, in love.  Really, I'm having a craptastic day.  It is quite horrible actually.  Not so much that it started that way, but in that it is ending that way.  Have you ever wanted something so bad, gotten yourself all worked up with anticipation, and then only to have it torn to shreds because it was recanted?   Yeah, it sucks.  Big time.  One should NEVER allow another to have this much affect on them. No matter who the person is.  One should always have 100% faith, grounding, and reliance on God.   No one should EVER, EVER need another person. 

I'd like to say I'm no least by the definition above.  However, I am not that type of no one.  I know, pity me.  Poor me.  I understand I am not the only one to go through divorce, or break up, or a broken heart.  But what I can tell you, for those who don't know...these are true thoughts.  True feelings.  These are real!  No one knows what it feels like until they've been there.  No one knows the emptiness of it until they have had to walk a mile in those shoes.  NO ONE. 

But, truth - I am worthy.  I know that.  I know that there is, somewhere, a man who will gladly give me unselfish love.  I know that there is a person, hand picked by God, to fill this role.  I firmly believe that God alone will make this happen and that by no work of my own will it come to be.  I also know that I will be a mess until I truly come to terms with what I know and actually let God be God as well as let His timing reign supreme.  I know a lot more than I let myself remember.  I also know, that that person will always, ALWAYS, know it too. 

And to help me and them know, I've permanently reminded us both.
Oh, and because you are all just dying to hear Barry Manilow croon, here is my song: Mandy.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The First Step

Lao-tzu has told us that "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."

I took that step today.  Quite literally.  I ran my first 5k.  I had told myself I was going to do this and do it to the best of my ability.  I ran this race with a friend.  I was open and honest with her from the get go.  I told her that if she was faster, to go on ahead.  To which she replicated the statement.  I agreed.  I set off on my journey.  I wanted to see what I could do.  This was of utmost importance to me.  I needed to know what I was capable of.  After all, running is one of my pleasures in life.  I did this for me.  I did this with no one cheering me on.  Well, at least race side.  I had many cheering me on from where they were.  I'm going to stop this train of thought and go there for a second.

I have to say this, I am the most blessed woman in the world.  Yes, I may have lost a husband and failed in marriage, but I have found the beauty of true friendship and gained the understanding of just how many people truly do care about me.  That's the thing.  When we are living life, day-by-day, following our routines, coming and going, we don't see the impact we have on others, then when we stop long enough, or in my case it came smacking me in the face with the proverbial frying pan, we can see just really how many people we have.  How many beautiful, caring, thoughtful, inspiring, God-given people we have in our lives.  I have so many.  Again, I am overly blessed.

So my fan club, if you will, was there for me, in my heart, if not race side urging me to push myself one more step.  I had just recently purchased for myself, in a complete momentary bout of selfishness, a Garmin Forerunner 110W.  For you non-runners, this is a geek's high and a runner's dream.  I'll let you google it.  Yes, I know.  So, there I was, somewheres in the middle of the running pack (approx. 400 runners) fiddling with my watch, getting ready to see just how fast I could really run and then, off we go.  I finished the first mile, according to my watch at an average pace of 9:11.  The timer said 9:20.  Either way, I was pleased.  Then I pushed harder.  I felt I could.  I wasn't winded.  I can do this.  No, I did do this.

The next mile I finished with a combined time of 19:40 according to the timer.  My watch, I can't say.  I forgot I was wearing it at this time.  I was too focused on not giving in.  I was going to beat this.  I was going to not stop.  I was going to conquer this.  I had to.  I had to do this for me.  I know I am made of something.  Everyone keeps telling me how strong of a person I am; this I am sure is in reference with my ability to get through the ick that has been my life.  But this, this was a situation that I alone had the power to dominate.  That the only thing it required was my sheer determination not to fail myself.  I was not going to fail myself.  I may be a lot of things, but I am not a quitter. 

Then, I finished the race.  I crossed that finish line.  The time on the official clock - 28:21.  I was elated.  I had told myself that 30:00 was my time.  That if I could do the 5k in a half hour I was on my way to accomplishing one of the many goals I had for myself.  It took a bit later for the official times to come in.  When I went to the table to get my place standing, not only was I shocked at my place, but also my official time.  You see, what I failed to remember was that my time didn't start until I crossed the line and being further back in the pack, well yes, the race clock had started, but that wasn't my time.  In fact, I not only beat the time I originally saw, I blew my initial goal out of the water.  (Any runner can attest how mere seconds is a profound accomplishment.) 

My time, for my first 5k of the season.  The first one I've ran in years.  The first one I've ran as a single woman.  My time, the one I earned all by myself, for myself, because I was doing this for me -  27:48.8!  Yes, I had tears in my eyes.  Yes, I understand this is not a Boston marathon qualifying pace, but I did it people!  I did it!  I did it for myself.  All on my own.  No one pushing me.  Just me.  I'm going to take this moment to be proud of myself; I'm sorry if this offends someone.  Now, I want to share with you that my goal for the end of the summer was to have a 5k time of 25:00.  I'm still holding on to that.  I still want to get there.  2:48 is still a lot of time to shave off.  But, I'm not going to stop trying.  I am still going to work on doing this for me.

So, this journey I'm on, the one that may or may not total a thousand miles, began with a first step - today.  I'm going to keep taking them, one at a time, until I get myself to the place where I am content, then I'll try for more.  After all, it's me I'm finding here people.  Me.  And this is where I chose to start.

Love, M

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Finding Myself

I've had this conversation with a couple people this week.  Not just any people either. Truly, I think it'd be too much of a conversation for that level of randomness, but with people who hold a piece of my heart.  They know who they are.  They will be reading this.  I love each of you for different reasons and the same reason.  You should know that.  I try to tell you.  Actually I have.  In my way.  But, now you know, and well, so do the others reading this!  Those people and their advice?  Simply - Find myself.

That's the hard part after divorce.  Finding yourself.  It's not so much redesigning yourself, but the honest to goodness finding of yourself.  In the almost 12 years I was with my ex I think I lost a bit of myself.  Now I'm not going to go down that line of stinkin' thinkin'.  It isn't right for a couple of reasons.  First, it was what it was.  Dysfunction and all.  Second, he's still a person and the father of our three children.  That alone commands respect.  Despite our differences he is still a part of my life.  And, whether its appreciated or not, always will be; for three very important reasons.

I had a rough day.  Ok, that is a mild way of putting - my day was so emotion filled that I ran the gamut of feelings up one side and down the other and then, for grins and giggles did it all again.  I got angry, I got sad, I was happy, I cried, no, actually I sobbed.  Yeah, those yucky whole face dripping sobs.  All the while I was on the phone with someone who listened and listened and listened.  Someone who felt each word and tear.  Someone who is becoming the dearest friend to me.  Someone I'm thankful to have in my life.  Someone who told me point blank I need to find myself.

But what is this?  Finding myself?  This is difficult.  I mean I just spent almost 12 years holding "roles."  These were titles that defined me.  There is a lot of courage that can be gleaned from knowing you are a part of something.  And not just courage, but strength.  Even in brokenness, just knowing there is someone there at the end of the proverbial day makes an amazing difference.  This is a person, that despite it all, you could still be all you with.  Yet, in hindsight was I really me?  Are we ever REALLY who we are when we are with another?  This is a really, really good question.  One I've asked myself a lot today.  That of course followed by, Who am I?

How does one go about finding them self?  Most particularly when hiding from it all feels the safest.  I mean, I know the things I like and most definitely know the things I don't like.  I know what makes my heart smile and conversely know what makes it break.  I know that I will never get to be just "Mandy" as I also honorably hold the title, "mommy."  So, does that mean I will never find myself?  Or does that mean the extension of myself is also a mom?  It's hard.  It's confusing.  These are things I do not have answers to and frankly am beginning to wonder if there are answers to.

So, how do you find yourself?  Is it when you are all alone, literally, not figuratively?  Is it when you are in your favorite environment doing your favorite thing?  For me that would be in the woods running on the trails.  Is it when you are accomplishing some goal you've set for yourself?  For me that would be getting my 5k time to 25 minutes by the end of the summer.  Is it when you are freely able to be yourself in front of another - raw emotion, honest talk, tear streamed face, anger laced words, and openly exposed heart?  For me, that was a phone call today. 

Here's to the journey.  The road to finding who I am.  My incompleteness as well as the part of me that is fully defined.  Here is to knowing just exactly what it is that is worthy about me and only accepting that and no compromise for the attentions of another.  Here's to showing that my words are a piece of who I am; my honest, open, sometimes poorly written words.  I will give you this...this is the one part of me that is as found as it is going to get.

Now, has anyone seen Nemo?!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Playing with Fire

James 4:17 says - "Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins."

I've had this verse rattling around in my mind for days now.  Actually, its been a few weeks.  I want to say I've listened to that still small voice consistently for the past two months, but I don't want to lie.  Can you believe its been two month since he moved out?  I have officially had a man free home for that long.  Yes, he was gone a few months before that, but his stuff was still here and I'm getting off topic. 

Truth - I've sat on this post for a few days because every word I typed felt more forced than it should.  Typically I can write one of these things in minutes as the words pour out, yet not this time.  Not quite.  I now know why.  I wasn't done learning the 'why'. I want these words to mean something, to be a tool for another person going through the same, or similar situation, but in this case I am the one who learned the lesson.  I learned it loud and clear.  Now its time for getting back in line.  Back to where I need to be.  Back to who I need to be.

I'm going to tell you, that voice in the back of your head, the one telling you not to do something - LISTEN TO IT.  Don't just hear it - listen to it.  Hearing and listening are two different things.  You can't control all situations.  You are simply not that strong.  Yes, I know that is a hard thing to accept, but its true.  There is nothing, absolutely nothing, we can do in life outside of God's strength.  It is when we try to do it on our own that we make the mistakes we make.  We make mistakes in our weakness, in our inability to realize our smallness, and not recognizing our great need and dependence on Him. I made a mistake.  No, I won't tell you what and don't ask.

I'm a strong willed person.  I fight tooth and nail to get my way.  I work at it until I get, in some fashion, what I want.  This has been my undoing multiple times over my life.  Everything we do and say has consequences.  If you play with fire you are going to get burnt.  Sometimes it is a slow burn and other times it is a total consumption.  Sin does that.  It starts as small as a spark.  The small ember glowing a brilliant shade of orange-red, flittering about, searching for a place to land and grow.  Then when it finally lands it is fed; it grows into a fire so big you can't run from it.  You lose a piece of yourself here.  You lose friends here.  You lose the possibilities of good, no GREAT, relationships here.  Lack of patience and reliance on God causes this loss.  And only their strength and belief in you and your acceptance of your failure can possibly allow re-growth to occur.

But, truthfully, it is God who keeps the fire tamed. Him. He alone can snuff that ember.  He is the one who puts perspective on it.  But you have to be willing to see it through His eyes.  Not  your own.  Sin will always take on the most amazing characteristics.  It is the moment after where it consumes.  Running from it does no good.  Drowning it does even less good.  The only right thing is to turn to the One who can restore and fix you.  The One who wanted to do it in the first place.  The One who will right the wrongs and find the best for you and create the best you you can be.  He wants to. 

And I need Him to.  I don't want to play with fire any more.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Fools Rush In

This was the title of the Fresh Perspectives devotional on the radio today.  The speaker shared that those who don't have their life grounded in the Lord are just foolishly running around rushing into any thing, situation, or circumstance they can in order to find what they are looking for.  I was so taken aback by the simple truth of it that I couldn't focus on much of anything else for the rest of my drive in to work.  I'm a fool.  I'm rushing.  Really.  Truly.  And in some cases, wholeheartedly.

Pardon the pun, but there is a rush to it.  There is a freeing quality to running full speed at something, but it is in the moment afterward where you see that perhaps maybe, just maybe, caution should have been exercised.  I learned this lesson the hard way.  I want to say that I never make these types of mistakes, but I won't lie.  I do.  I make mistakes.  I'm purely human.  I'm also a girl.  Yes, it's true.  But, I digress. 

I know there are a number of you reading this that are hanging on every word looking for me to give all the sordid details, but you should know me better than that by now.  They aren't coming, well, at least in their entirety.  I can tell you though, that opening up, talking to, and sharing things, personal things, deeply hurtful things, and amazingly insightful things with another can be liberating, but also heartbreaking.  Most specifically when you put that person in a place they cannot be, simply because they are not the right person.  It is a drain on you and them. 

BUT...and I must let you know that there is always a but...the lessons learned are profound.  They are sometimes a better teacher than the blessed advice from friends and family who want nothing but the best for you.  We all know this to be true.  We all have those messages in life, where we were warned against a certain path, but we chose to walk it anyway - only to find that the outcome was exactly what we were told it would be.  I've been there many times in my life.  If you look, you have too.  It's ok.  Don't beat yourself up.  Embrace it and learn from it, then travel on. 

My foolish thing?  Simply - Looking for love in all the wrong places.  I jump in head first foolishly expecting and giving more than I should, hoping for what I cannot and/or won't get.  This because they are not the person, not the one that really values me.  Yet, when I get exactly what I know is coming I still allow myself to be let down.  I still get sad, because I was hoping against hope that maybe I would be the one.  I just spent over a decade in a relationship where, in the end, I was not the one.  Will I ever be the one?

Recently a very dear friend told me something that made me tear up and smile a heart warming smile so large I can only hope the world saw it.  My friend told me, after sharing this similar line of thought, "Be the cloud.  The cloud is free.  Wrapped with beautiful colors.  Not caring what the world views are of it.  Be the cloud, your soul and heart are such a beautiful thing.  So show it as the cloud does to the world.  And if he is worthy enough he will stop and become lost at the site of the cloud.  YOU!  Let your hair down my dear and let the ride take you where it may.  LIVE GREATLY, enjoy with passion, and just smile!"  Now, this friend ALSO told me, "Don't let your heart be a factor.  For once put it in your pocket.  Its still there.  But just tucked away. Ready at any moment to pull it out and use it."  Sigh...

So, here I am slowly rushing in.