These past couple of weeks have been … not what I expected; filled with challenges; filled with love; scary in some ways; filled with unexpected blessings and well opportunities to grow. What sums it up to me is one of my favorites quotes “Life is change, growth is optional, choose wisely.” Karen Kaiser Clark
So that leads me to a question for you … when life doesn’t look the way you want … where is your focus?
It really is a choice you know; sometimes a very hard choice; but nonetheless a choice. A choice to focus on what has been lost; what has disappointed; and to close yourself off to self-protect from any more pain. Or, the choice to keep your heart and spirit open to receive. Receive what? Receive the blessings that are perhaps first unseen because life at that moment doesn’t look the way you want.
What did that look like for me in the past 2 weeks? The first week of May I thought would be vacation at the beach to relax with my sweetheart, family and friends; celebrating birthdays and anniversaries. Instead vacation plans fell through at the last moment and instead of the beach I was at work; I was having FMS migraines triggered by some dental work; my hubby was not feeing well; and my friends lost work hours because the schedule for their office was already in place. No vacation, no birthday plans; worn out from the physical pain; no answers for my hubby or me how to get relief; topped off by a guilt-trip that accompanied telling my family and friends the trip fell through.
This all happens before 9 AM Monday morning. Yippee … NOT. OK, what’s next on my to-do list … are you serious??? Arranging for the monthly birthday cake for our office … which I won’t be able to eat because of food allergies. Right, I’m a big girl, I can do this. It’s not all about me (although at that moment I wanted it to be 🙂 ) I pull out my list of flavor requests for our May birthdays and contact our wonderful “Cake Lady”. I’m telling her about the requested flavors for the month including one neither of us have ever heard of before — banana pudding cake — and, as always, her response is “Sure I can do that”. I think we are done and she comes back to me with “I want to know what you can’t eat so I can make something for you”. Now to those of you that have birthday cake every year, I understand this is not a big deal … but for me … nobody has even offered to try to make me a birthday cake in 11 years. Blessing #1. I started to laugh to myself as we corresponded. Only You, wonderful Heavenly Father, who knows every hair on my head (Luke 12:7) and every ingredient I can eat would connect me with this woman who cared enough to go this extra mile for me. Spice cake with goat cream cheese icing … YUM!
Blessing #2, I remember my friend who asked to take me out for my birthday and I had turned her down because I would be out-of-town. I sent her a text and said if your offer still stands, I’d love to go.
Not only was she available, but my heavenly Father had another birthday present for me that night that will last me a life time. My friend was surprised to find out of some issues that had been weighing heavily on me the past few months. Her question for me was why hadn’t I reached out to her sooner. Good question. One of those questions that makes a person squirm … but in a good way. Why hadn’t I reached out to her? I gave her my best answer of “because you have enough people pulling on you” and she gave me one of those looks of “seriously … after all we’ve been through … you’re going to hide behind that excuse”. Nailed. It was an “excuse” and I was definitely “hiding”, so the bigger question is why?
Once again, my Heavenly Father knew what was buried deep in my heart, and He wanted me to know so we could do something about it.
I was 11. I came out of my bedroom to find my brother in the hall-way and the door to my parents room closed. My brother looked at me and told me “Dad had a heart attack last night; the doctor just gave Mom a sedative and you’re not going to cry because they don’t need that.” He was only 18 at the time himself and had literally gone from being a boy to a man overnight. I can still see the look in his eyes and I know he was in no way being mean but rather trying to protect everyone, including me, from any more pain. However, what entered my heart in that moment was my pain, my problems are the straw that will break the camel’s back. If I share my pain, all hell will break loose and the world will fall apart. Quite a secret to keep on yourself.
It’s never been a problem for me to pour out my heart to the Lord. In that way I have never felt alone. But when it comes to the people around me … I’ve been really good at listening and being supportive but very rarely do I pour out my heart even to the people who love me dearly. How could I? I loved these people and didn’t want to destroy their worlds by being the straw that broke their back.
I saw myself standing in that foyer, trapped. Then I saw the floor change into the hand of God and He had me in His palm. The walls and all the closed doors with “who knows what problems” behind them literally disintegrated and fell away and I saw everyone else in God’s other hand. I apologized to my heart for believing that it if I shared it with others it would ruin their worlds and asked my heart to forgive me. God showed me that even when I am in a place of pain, I still carry His light within me and His light shines through whenever I share my heart.
I broke off agreement with an ungodly expectation that it was up to me to protect others and myself (I could not stand the thought of being that straw) by isolating myself. That ungodly expectation definitely impacted my behavior towards others, which impacted my experiences, which re-enforced the ungodly belief that I was “the straw” and continued the cycle rooted in that ungodly expectation. I asked my Heavenly Father what He would give me in exchange for all the above and heard “everything”. WOW … such a deal. I am just at the tip of discovering “everything” but just in the week that has passed life is already very different.
Like blessing #3 … the friends who were supposed to be with us at the beach … rather than be upset with me they went out of their way to celebrate me, “Princess of Cinco De Mayo”, by inviting us to their home and preparing a wonderful meal and sharing a special evening with us. I could have stayed “stuck in feeling guilty” and protected them from my disappointment by isolating, but instead I chose to be open to receive the blessing of their friendship.
But wait their’s more … blessing number 4. By being home both my sweet hubby and I were able to pursue and receive help and are starting to feel better … the best birthday present of all.
So no … life definitely has not looked the way I expected it to look recently … but by choosing to take my focus off of what wasn’t and staying open to receive what was … it’s looks even better.