Tuesday, November 7, 2017

An Essay on Growing

I’m Not Who I’ve Been

Goldie the butterfly was - hurt. Not physically. It was his feelings. His friends didn’t believe it was him. He flew over a leaning bird bath, where,in one cracked corner with peeling white paint, he caught sight of himself. He gasped at his reflection. Wowzers! He thought. This is going to take some getting used to. It’s me alright, he thought. Just different. He now liked nectar instead of leaves;  flying instead of crawling. But he still enjoyed the sun, and the trees and his buggy friends who all seemed to resent his change. “It’s still me”, he thought- I’m just not a caterpillar anymore…

It’s a  word  rich in hope and potential.
It says one’s present state of existence, is transitioning to a point or position where one is not-  at least not yet. The challenge is, moving from the being of now , to the being, to come. Who one is to become in the future is not always clearly known- at least not by the individual themselves.  We may be able to take a guess as to how we may look. We may have dreams and hopes that at present direct our next step. Yet, this is usually, the end of our knowing. From our point of view, most of our future self is written in hopes and maybes.

Somehow, however,  one thing is certain. There is an innate understanding that we can not remain the being we are, at present,  forever. Change is inevitable. The growth from a baby to an adult is the simplest change, yet, can not be avoided. Still, several things can make transition, or transformation, challenging. Here are two that stick out:
1.) self -limitations. We do not believe we can be something more than what we are now; and 2.) fear. We are afraid of either losing  parts of who we are now, or  afraid of being forced to embrace something unfamiliar or unknown about our future selves.

Limitations.There is no doubt that humanity is obsessed with itself. We study our own nature, psychoanalyze patterns and traits, and try to get a grasp on who we are. We fall into the trap of allowing ourselves to be comfortably boxed in by society’s philosophies regarding these personality traits and types, and astronomy signs. There is a plethora of sources ready to help you  figure out who you are and where you fit in. Why? It makes us  feel empowered. It makes us feel justified.  We want to own our identities and personalities, and solidify why we do what we do. Truth be told, we want to be free from accountability and responsibility for our actions.  This is evident in phrases like, “This is just the way I’m wired.”
Let’s be honest, it feels good to say, doesn’t it?

See the other day in a false sense of hopelessness, I turned to these natural methods of self-discovery. I am not saying they are all bad. I am saying we can restrict ourselves to the results of these “tests”. They supposedly reveal our personality, or thinking style, or dress style even, or whether we are sanguine or melancholy- or not. Before this point I thought,  why can’t I seem to break free of this habit of mine to (clears throat) procrastinate; or why am I so ( cough-cough) unfocused, or, when will I learn it’s OK to say no because I need a nap?  How relieving it felt as I read articles and clicked the multiple choice questions and watched “discover your truth” videos. Suddenly I felt understood, and so empowered when I read all about- ME. I read how my so-called deficiencies were not flaws, just misguided potential ticking bombs of positivity. I thought to myself, I just need to own that I am the way I am. All I have to do is capitalize on my strengths and view my weaknesses as just strengths-in-the-making. RED FLAG.

Without warning I was moving toward self-centeredness. I was becoming comfortable with simply being rather than becoming. I was willing to take the lazy road. Doing nothing required no effort.  I was being OK with limiting my existence to only what I see in the mirror, rather than beyond.  See, there’s a passage that talks about becoming.

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away ; behold , all things are become new.-2 Corinthians 5:17

So God doesn’t intend for me to stay the way I am. He never intended for me to capitalize on my weaknesses, but to give my weaknesses to him. He states

“be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” - Romans 12:2

I almost unintentionally bought into the lie that I am good enough the way I am.  Please understand, this does not negate the perfect image of God in whom we were created. This only serves to confirm the effect sin has in corrupting that perfect image. We are fearfully and wonderfully made,  and it’s only in God we can get back to original form. God say’s it’s “ in him we live, and move, and have our being”. In other words, I am nothing without Christ. My very identity must be in Him, for he is the source of my being. He is to be also the inspiration for my becoming- more like Him- the way he intended from the beginning. And get this, it may not always come naturally. We have to work at it.

Ok so let’s talk FEAR. I get it. Who you are right now is comfortable. Sure there are things you’d like to change, but you‘ve come to the conclusion, it’s easier to continue presenting this present personality.You may think, If I make drastic changes, I’ll lose my companions. If I began to behave differently I’ll run the risk of confusing my family. In reality, you lose yourself if you keep forcing the growing version of you into the mold of who you no longer are.

Transitioning from the “now you” to the “growing you” can be daunting. Sure, you, and others around you, have only experienced you in the present. Your actions and responses and contributions to the party or group defined who you are, until now. With each passing day you learn more of who you are apart from the party and away from the group. Exercising individuality can be unfamiliar. Saying “no” when you’ve always said “yes” can have others raising their eyebrows at you. Or not.
Many of the fears we face are more in our own heads. Your circle of family and friends are not going to suddenly disown you. If we think about it, they are in their own various phases of “becoming”. Don’t suppress the unique individual that you are growing into, just to appease the comfort level of others. Your resentment and frustration of role playing will soon betray you.

Maybe a caterpillar knows it will be a butterfly one day. Maybe not. I laugh at the thought of the caterpillar stopping itself from crawling away to build a cocoon,because it didn’t want to offend it’s buggy pals. It wouldn’t survive in that form for long. If it kept trying to suppress the urge to go out on a limb and hang alone for a while, it would die. Can you imagine the energy and effort it would take for a caterpillar to force itself to not go to the next stage of growth? It can not be much better when we attempt it.  We may as well put that energy into becoming. Interestingly enough,  a writer named Paul understood this process.

When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.- 1 Corinthians 13:11-12

It’s Ok to not have it all figured out. It’s NOT Ok to deny your circle of family and friends the opportunity to support the person you’re becoming in Christ.
Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.  Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,-Philippians 3:12-13

So how about it caterpillar? Don’t be afraid to lose out on squirming around munching and getting fat on leaves. Don’t worry about whether or or not you’ll know how to spin that cocoon. It’ll come.  Before you know it you’ll have wings. And I guarantee, those can take you much farther.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Learning Love: The Marriage Cycle

Hello Sharecroppers. It's been a while I know.
When you are a bi-vocational momma ( that's redundant isn't it?since the word "mom" denotes multi-vocational, but I digress)....
  As it goes, I was super busy doing multiple jobs and going back to school. Talk about a full plate.
So the blogging took a little break.

In the meant time I have been writing music, juggling a full schedule, and trying to keep my head from exploding.
I have also been doing my best at nurturing my marriage in the middle of it all.

Aww, marriage.

"When two become One" by Mr. Peruca

It would imply an age of merriment - you know, merry age? ( ba-da-chh!)
But on a serious note,  experience proves it's not an "age" at all. It's more like a series of phases. Marriage can not be learned in a class. It's on-the-job learning at its finest. Marriage employs  learning love, and teaching love- and highest of all-  God love.

Amidst the learning and teaching there is a cycle I have observed in 15 years of marriage. Here is my take on what the " marriage cycle" looks like:

Phase one- Happiness, warmth "Oh my gosh I'm so in love",
Phase two- Contentment.  "I wish this moment could last forever", etc.
But Then an action or verbal event triggers
Phase three - discontentment about something, "Wow I never knew he/she/I _____."
Followed by
 Phase four- a period of questioning. "Does this mean___" " Who did I marry?" "Can I accept that?"
Phase five- the period of confrontation and frustration as two try to understand the other, and try to get the other to understand them.
Then that period goes into
Phase six- a period of contemplation. The fight/argument/discussion comes to a head and both parties feel at a loss. They don't want to keep arguing as it is getting nowhere, and just going in circles. During this phase, a mental analysis of self, the other, the situation, the state of the marriage- past present and future- take place.
After this phase it goes back to
Phase seven- confrontation. "OK I had time to think about what you said...."
Phase eight- understanding, then
Phase nine-compromise. I like to call this co-promises. Rather than thinking about what I am losing, think about it like It's promises you make to yourself and each other regarding working toward the a harmonious resolution.
This then cycles back to
Phase ten- contentment and
back to
Phase one- happiness.

The unique thing is this cycle can span a day, a week, a month, or a year, maybe more. But I can guarantee, you ask any couple married for more than a year, they can attest to the cycle.

It would be nice if we could have the " Hallmark " movie moment all the time, but real life and  different people don't make for sappy, predictable TV.

The truth is God is prepared for every phase and season of our daily lives. This is why he has granted and curated new mercies unique to each of our days.

by Mr. Peruca
The joy of marriage is that once you had had enough tense discussions and heated arguments, you can face them with positivity knowing that you'll be back at One.

Now to single out one phase, eight is possibly the most challenging. Phase eight forces you to really empathize with your spouse and go beyond feeling what they are feeling. It puts you into understanding what motivates the feeling they are experiencing.
Yes- you must get to truly know them. This is where the past comes out in the open, and when the present collides with prior selves. This is when you realize your spouse used to be afraid of the dark, so the TV on in the bedroom is soothing even though for you it's unnerving.  Or they experienced a mental trauma at age six with a family pet that they forgot about until you decided you guys needed a cute terrier. This is when you realize they were bullied in elementary school and going a different way home every day is a conditioned protective measure, not, as you presumed, a spontaneous act of adventure. Understanding is easily the phase that requires the most patience, yet it is where the most love learning takes place.

Understanding can not be skipped. If it is, phase one will be superficial, causing a break down in contentment. As the years go by and each phase cycles completely and healthily, phase one and two are experienced for longer and longer periods, until there is nothing left to question except death's parting. And even that, if your life was lived for the master, will pose no questions, but rather a statement at the end of it all
"Well done". 

Monday, April 10, 2017

Why not?

Image result for grace is the face love wears when it meets imperfection

Why Not
So even if you have nothing much to say
why not
And when you have no kindness left to give why not
give your last?
When you're all touched out, and worn out
why not
Why don't you go ahead and sing even if you can't hold a note?
 if singing is too hard then maybe
 just hum-
and if suffering is long
why not have a good cry ,then
look to the heavens and ask the Lord "why?"- "when?"
Yes life's unpredictable-
why not
laugh in the Devil's face?
Look straight in the mirror and,
Stand out in that crowded place.
Why not be intentional-
living for God-
then use your last hour of  the day
in His word.
Or when you're too tired
why not whisper His name?
 and just let the grace of
His love fan the flame?

And when sleep is distant
why not think of smiles,
and things that bring warmth to your heart,
 whispering praises for a while.
When success's inconsistent
why not voice the sadness,
yet still tell God Thank you
because what you don't have
gives meaning to what you do?

Then he'll say that perfection is being curated;
that even your weakness is strength underrated.
When God is involved , the limit's celestial
He sends forth his Spirit and you are created.

-Created to be his original vision.
This world is the sharpening tool of precision
exposing and molding and trimming, refining.
His Grace is enough. Live freely.
Why not?

Monday, March 13, 2017

Breathing Room

Image result for hope
*Image from Web*

Psalm 18:18-20King James Version (KJV)
18 They prevented me in the day of my calamity: but the Lord was my stay.19 He brought me forth also into a large place; he delivered me, because he delighted in me.20 The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands hath he recompensed me.

For the past month I have been bubbling over with pure excitement! Every time I have a quiet moment joy rises in me from my center and I have to let it out in an exclamation of praise and laughter.
I have caught myself randomly laughing, unable to hold in the physical stirring of anticipation and elation in my belly. 
Why?, you may ask. I am excited about the very near-future.
For a number of years my family ( like many others) has endured trial and hardship. It felt we could not get out of a cycle of financial oppression.  And while some things were effects of not-so-great choices, there seemed to be one wave of challenge after the other preventing us from coming up for air. In the last year however it felt the heaviest for all of us. Yet it was in the heaviness that our faith became the strongest. There were only two options- throw in the towel and give up, or "batten down the hatches" put our heads down and plow through.
I wish we could take the credit for the perseverance and faith, but God gets that. His own Spirit of strength was made perfect in our weakness.
Sometimes the only faith we had was mere faithfulness- commitment and determination to remain and do what we said we would do.
Yet, hope in the future and in a God who is infinite in wisdom gave us the push I needed, to walk on.
Suddenly, as year 2016 ended, and 2017 began, a renewed sense of hope was ushered in with it. Yes, this is the case with any New Year, but this was different. It felt more tangible and more than wishful thinking. It was more than simply a drive to succeed or fortified will-power. Something was planted in my heart, that let me know- know- we were about to walk out of oppression into a large place.
In the meantime, gratefulness flows from my heart, but it is a thankfulness that is fueled by the Holy Ghost. It is a joy that wells up in my soul, sparked by the Spirit of God himself. I can not help but let out a "whoop!" and say an emphatic " Thank you!"
I am myself blown away by it, wondering in my mind where it is all coming from. I lay down to rest and  take notice of the joy that bubbles up. It's remarkable.
And the enemy of my soul takes notice too. 
And he has attempted to put doubt in my mind about the genuineness of my praise. He has whispered that my thankfulness is shallow and superficial- that I am only praising God because the heaviness is lifted. 
The Devil is a liar! If he says it, then the opposite must be true.
So I know my worship is real and deep- and I will not stop. 
In the prison he is worthy and will receive my praise. 
In the large place he remains worthy and my praise too will remain.
Psalm 118:4-6King James Version (KJV)Let them now that fear the Lord say, that his mercy endureth for ever.I called upon the Lord in distress: the Lord answered me, and set me in a large place.The Lord is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?