Tag Archive | hope

Fear and Faith Cannot Exist in the Same Place

Far be it from me to suggest that I may have been out of touch with my own self in the past several months, but let me suggest just that.  I have been sorely out of touch with myself in the past few months.  Although I prayed every day, I also felt as if I was out of touch with God.  No matter what spiritual books I read, saying a hearty “Amen” to what I read, or what practices I tried to employ to get me over the hump, I remained absolutely stuck.  Stuck rhymes with another work…and it was  that, too.  Yes, it stunk!  (I trust you to get what rhymes with stuck.)

LeSeur In end1

Gosh darn it all to heck, a once ongoing issue had me scared and traumatized to the point where I could no longer write.  I was completely afraid to write for fear of some unforeseen backlash.  Being totally afraid to write left me in a place where my soul got sucked dry.  Each day I prayed to God to help me deal with the fear and the trauma, and to bless whatever might be the source of my fear.

Some things are like the interest on credit cards, or a saving account.  I needed do nothing, but they were compounded daily, or annually, and now I even sort of know what that means, because I am no financial genius.  You can trust me on that.  It means that even things I ignored added up, and even as I kept ignoring them, they continued to add up, then one day God came down and froze my assets and then what did I do?  Well, I prayed harder.   I also may have gotten depressed quite a lot.

There I sat.  My assets frozen, and I could not move because of, or from, fear.  Suddenly, the deficits started to pile up.  First, my own perceived deficits, and I found that they piled up quickly, with no interest whatsoever.  Some deficits I acquired rightfully…I judged, I spoke ill of someone, I felt compassion at times, and anger at others.  Other deficits were old issues, long gone, but back again for a visit, and I let them in, gave them tea, and a place to stay.  Fear lived in my home, and faith and fear do not cohabit well together.

What was I afraid of, you ask?  It makes no matter at this point in time.  What mattered then was that my fear was based in pride, and the resurrection of old trauma.  It took me a long time to figure that out, and even when I *knew* it as plain as the nose on my face, it would not disappear.  Still, I continued to pray every day.  I did not pray only for me, but for the source of my fear.  For some softening—for an end to hate and an opening to love.  I have been praying for that for a year and a half and nothing, but I am no quitter!

There are times when God tests us, and He does so not just by trials, but by a feeling of dryness in our faith.  Lord knows, (Oh, yes, He does!) just how stale I felt.  As a Montana gal, I do not give easily, so while I faltered many times, I did not give up, and then the grace of God descended upon me in the form of something so gracious, loving, and humble, that my weak faith never thought it would appear.  Ah, but it did, because God is good, and I am one persistent woman, for the good, or the bad.  God has given me the biggest prayer of my heart, and the fear is gone.  Today, I can write.  Hallelujah, today, I can write.

As is often the case, I write with tears streaming down my cheeks, and so much joy in my heart.  I pray that this is the start of a reconciliation of sorts—of a new beginning.  Today is the first day of spring and I welcome the thought of an end to the cold, and renewal, and new beginnings, and while there are still many unknowns in my life at this moments, I can feel the coming of sunshine, and warmth, and love. All of this come thanks to a season of trial, and the glorious grace of God.  Hope, like this new season, springs eternal, and my gratitude is too large to fill this page.  May that grace find all of you, too.

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The month where it seemed as though nothing went right.

Where have I been, you ask?  Maybe you have not asked, but I sure have.  I am right here, waving at all of you!  This has been the month where it has seemed as though nothing has gone right, and I am still recovering.  Actually, it began before Christmas, but who is counting, anyway?  I haven’t written in many weeks and yes, as much as I have been dying to do so, it feels as if there is just so much emotion that has been trapped inside of me I am afraid I just might blow to bits, or cry.  It will likely be the latter, so you can all relax now a bit.  I still have not entirely pinpointed what caused this disturbance in its entirety, but that is probably because it was just a myriad of “one thing after another.”

Prior to, and during the Christmas holidays, every plan that took me weeks to construct seemed to fall apart within a minute’s time, and need to be reconstructed in even less time.  Visitation schedules were confused.  When you are working to two former spouses, and seven kids, it is hard to begin with to get everyone in one place at one time.  Things just kept changing and changing and changing, and while I am so much better now at rolling with the punches than I used to be, I felt as if I were rolling, and ducking, and jumping, and side stepping, and having to give up a lot in the process.

My Christmas Kid

My Christmas Kid

Many things simply did not happen, or if they did happen, I had to let a lot go just to get it done.  As much as I loved having all of my kids home, and as much as many, many good things did happen, like my younger daughter getting engaged on Christmas Day, and wedding dress shopping with my two girls the day after, I was dizzy from all of the rolling and I felt that everything was helter skelter.  I felt that I had lost control…the control that I wanted, anyway.  I could not find my joy.  Looking back, I think that I had lost it somewhere even prior to all of the going with the flow.  I still feel sad looking back, as if I missed an event that I had attended.

After New Year’s, my little man returned to school for a couple of days and I looked forward to life returning to normal, whatever that is around here.  The following Monday, he came home with a bad sore throat and by Thursday night, I had fallen ill.  This was no ordinary cold.  Nope, this was an honest to goodness siege of influenza that had befallen us, causing him to miss more than a week of school, and causing me to miss more that a week of work.  No work, no money.  No money, no way to pay the rent or bills.   We had suddenly become like lepers trapped in our own little germ filled colony.  No one wanted to be anywhere near us, and I do not blame them.  I didn’t really want to be anywhere near us, either.  I totally lost whatever good humor I had and I was a less than delightful person to be around.  As is so often the case, the little man was starting to feel better just when I was at my worst.  Visitations with his Dad were cancelled, ah, but we finally made it back to school and work, only to have me relapse with a bronchitis/asthma thing.

Add to all of this snow, and bitter cold, and school holiday, and teacher work days, and a car misbehaving, gastroenteritis this past weekend, and more missed visitation, my computer broken down for over a week, and finally on Monday, my car broke down.  That is what it has been like day after day and it has been hard and draining and then some.  Every day, I would pray, and every day I would try to find my gratitude–to count my blessings, but my blessings felt limp in my hands.  I knew that I had so much to be grateful for, but trying to hold onto the gratitude was like trying to get a tight grip on a handful of Jello.  I felt awful for not feeling grateful.  I felt lonely, too, as well as sleepy, dopey, and grumpy.

Today, I am not working because my road is an ice slick.  I will work tomorrow and I dearly needed this day to find perspective.  At no point during any of this was I ever truly alone.  I have God, my family, and my wonderful friends. My rent did not magically pay itself.  My rent got paid because of many kind, wonderful, and generous friends around the world.  I have never met most of them in person.  One of my son’s took care of my electric bill.  My first ex-husband got us an Omaha steak gift pack at Christmas that gave us a lovely New Years dinner and many breaks from pasta.  My beloved probation officer and friend has put me in touch with a woman who runs a counseling service and she is pursuing me for a job as a case worker, working with people with substance abuse issues, and coming out of incarceration situations.  It is a dream job if it works out, and as my P.O. said, “You know, I don’t just do this kind of thing for just anyone.”  Oh, yes, I DO know that!

When my car broke down on Monday, a friend was a phone call away and there to pick me up in 10 minutes.  I had AAA within the hour, and my car was towed home within two.  A friend is coming over to fix it this weekend, and my son fixed my computer.  I am loved.  I am so well-loved that it is crazy and now tears of joy and gratitude are rolling down my face.  I do not know why I could not see this, or feel it sooner, but I think it has a lot to do with not being able to write.

I get my footing back when I write.  I find my hidden emotions and bring them out into the light when I write.  Something overtakes me, and the blur of life totally disappears and it is just me and God when I write, and when I write, even if my hands may tremble, and my eyes may cloud over with tears, obscuring my earthy vision, I see much better when I write.  I may have to stop at times to let out a long-held sob, pain mixed with joy and hope, but I find release when I write.  I find hope, and joy, and gratitude when I write.

I need always to write.

What About Bob? What about you?

I am not in the business of doing movie reviews, but our family has a number of favorite movies, our own cult classics, so to speak.  One is the film, What About Bob?  It stars Bill Murray and Richard Dreyfuss, and if you haven’t seen it, you should add it to your Netflix queue, or better yet, go buy it on Amazon.  It is inexpensive enough.

The movie is a comedy, and it is the story of Bob, played by Bill Murray, who is a man with a number of phobias that have him nearly crippled.  Bob is bounced from one psychiatrist to another, because he is so high needs, until he becomes a client of Dr. Leo Marvin, played by Dreyfuss.  Dr. Marvin sees Bob for the first time just as his new book, Baby Steps, is released at the day before he and his family are set to go on a month long vacation in New Hampshire.  Bob is very upset at the idea of going an entire month without seeing Dr. Marvin, and leaves his appointment, book in hand, distraught.  I am not going to tell you the entire movie plot, but Bob follows the family to New Hampshire, much to the chagrin of Dr. Marvin, but to the delight of Dr. Marvin’s family, because as they get to know Bob, as flawed as he is, they find out what a treasure he is as a human being.

Why is Bob such a treasure amidst his giant ball of fears and phobias, and with his absolute lack of boundaries?  He is such a delight because he is genuine, and honest, and extremely transparent.  Bob is who he is, warts and all, and he’s not ashamed of that.  This blatant personal honesty about his many quirks and shortcomings seems to draw people to him like a magnet.  Bob gives people the gift of allowing them to admit to their own fears and imperfections and he accepts them unconditionally.

As the movie progresses, Bob begins to take some giant steps forward in facing, and removing his fears, and he begins to deliver another gift to the people around him–the willingness and courage to face their own fears.  As Bob heals himself, quite publicly, openly, comically, and with no apologies for who he is, others begin to see that they to can be who they are, speak about what scares them, and erase their fears, too.  Bob becomes a beacon of hope to the people he meets.  It’s a hope that they can be genuine, and flawed, and courageous, and in the end, still be loved and accepted.

I wonder what would happen if we were all more like Bob?  If we did not build elaborate facades to hide our true selves, and our flaws, and our fears?  What is we were trusting enough, and willing enough, and courageous enough to just be who we are, each and every day, with no apologies needed.  What if you showed your own fears, and imperfections, and vulnerabilities, and quirks fearlessly?  What if you were genuine?  What would that look like for you?

Why do we so often fear being who we really are, and work so hard to hide our flawed beauty?  I suspect the answers are as unique as their are people, but there is a commonality in there.  We have all been hurt, or felt “less than,” or been told that we are not enough as we are.  We relentlessly compare ourselves to others instead of looking in the mirror and working on that one person.  We are afraid that no one will like us, let alone love us, if they really knew our thoughts and feeling and fears, so we pretend.  It doesn’t have to be that way, and it takes far too much work to maintain the facade.

We all have areas that need work, or where we need help, but if we do not face them, or admit to them, there will be no change.  If we are not genuine with the people in our lives, how can we expect them to really know us, or know what we really need?  At the same time, how can we expect to have honest relationships if we are not who we genuinely are in public, or in private?  So many of us are terrified of being human.  What will people think if I am not perfect?  If I do not hold it together all of the time, what will become of me?  What if people find out that…fill in the blank.

Generally speaking, I think we would find out that we are all more a like than we are different.  I think we would all enjoy our lives more if we were “real” with ourselves, and with others.  Of course, if we dropped the facades and exposed the areas where we need work and fine tuning we would have to have the courage to do that work, but we wouldn’t be alone in doing so.  In the film, Bob is not a victim. He is a person who strives to become better, then he becomes a survivor, and in the end, he thrives, surrounded by people who love him, and celebrate his uniqueness.

What is the key here?  Is it the willingness, or the honesty, or the courage?  It is a combination of those attributes along with a healthy sense of humor, and a lot of hope.  I believe we all hold those keys within us.  They are the keys that turn us from people pretending to live  into genuine people who are not just surviving, but are sincerely thriving.  Don’t be afraid to use your keys.  The door is waiting to be opened.

So, here I go…

I’ve tried to blog before and it didn’t last, probably because I was doing it for a reason that was not something that was in sync with what my heart knows that it wants to accomplish.  So, I plugged away, and plugged away, and what do you know…it became a bore and a chore.  This is going to be different.  This blog is going to be all about me.  The essential me, who I’ve just come to know at the age of 52 years old.

To say that I have lived a life of extremes would be a gross understatement.  I have lived a life where I never had to worry about money, and I’ve lived in abject poverty.  I have survived childhood sexual abuse, incest, rape, and two abusive marriages, the first mostly emotional, and verbal, though I guess those two black eyes and being held captive in my home for a week when I wanted out do take it to a higher level, and the second to a sociopath.  You could say that I do not pick ’em particularly well, but I am thinking that I won’t make those mistakes ever again 😉

I am a recovering alcoholic, 8 years sober.  I have a college education, and have been on many boards and committees, and all of that good stuff.  I have also been to two rehabs, and one halfway house, and I have been in jail twice, and just got out of prison six months ago, after a 6 months stay paying for sins of the past.  While, it was not on my prison “to-do” list, I made many lifetime friends there, and found myself, as well. I have seven of the most beautiful, caring, generous, forgiving, and accomplished children on the planet.  I like to say that they turned out quite well despite me, but when I am honest with myself, I know that it is because of me to a great extent.

I believe in God, and I love Jesus Christ.  I am devoutly faithful but not religious.   I think that most of the time it is Christians who give Christians a bad name.  I work very hard to walk the talk.  To that end, I am fixin’ to start and ministry and mentorship program for women coming out of incarceration situations. I am a true introvert who does an exceptionally good extravert imitation 😉

Most people, when hearing of my life experiences say, “Oh my, what a tragic life!”  I do not see it that way at all.  I am the eternal optimist, and idealist to the core.  I love my life, and finally knowing who I am, I love myself.  I spent a lifetime trying like crazy, until it made me crazy, to conform to some elusive standard of normalcy, or perfection, or success, and I never quite got it.  Now, I honor myself, and my heart and soul.  And suddenly, because of that one big change, I find that I am no longer just surviving, I am thriving!

The world is a beautiful place and I love life!  Most day, I feel like the most blessed woman on the planet, but this wasn’t always the way that I saw things.  It’s not easy getting from pain and blame and negativity to a place of peace and radical acceptance, but I know that if I can do it, anyone can.  So, let’s saddle up and ride and get to the other side, because the other side is a glorious place!

I typed this while eating toast and jam, which I highly recommend.  I must now go get something to clean my keyboard!  Onward!