When a Friend is Trapped

Dear Readers,
Consider your life.

I can’t use enough words to say how important our lives are. You are more than a job. You are more than your latest or last relationship.

 

I had a shaking experience with a friend. We recently meet up, though we live in different towns, and have for years. I know his life isn’t what I’d hope for him, and despite my husband & I offering him a place to live at anytime…he remains where he’s been.

“What makes you happy?” I asked. “Not entertained, but happy…joyful.”  My question was met with silence. If possible black silence. My heart cracked. I understood the non-answer.
“You don’t do anything that makes you happy anymore, do you?” I asked, and humbly he confirmed.

He went on to tell my husband and I that he doesn’t think about “these things”. Simple questions that are deep. What difference do you want to make? What makes you happy/joyful? If money wasn’t an issue, what would you want to do or be?

My husband and I explore this questions all the time, so that we can assess the steps we take in life.  Money isn’t the goal, it’s the necessity on the way to goal. We try not to offer too much of our thoughts, ambitions, and life to such a minut factor. It’s not everything.

 

Don’t be trapped.

When I moved out of parents and into the shaky land of adulthood,  one of my first purchases for my new apartment was two huge maps. One of my country, one of the world. I hung them on my wall, and I’ve looked at them frequently thought the years. I still look and I still think the world I know is small. There is so much more beyond me yet.

If I’m happy with my small world, that okay. If I’m unhappy I remember that I could choose change at anytime. Get up, move, learn, experience, move again. No problem.

Money maybe a factor, but only one. Determination is another factor. Friends and influences could be another factor. Don’t let this things pigeonhole you. It could always change. You have choices. You have options.
In our meeting up, my friend brought his newest girlfriend. They seemed to speak of their city as the representation of our state. (A pathetic representation that would be too.) I’ve been around most of the state, intentionally learning and experiencing different things, so that I could legitimately know that state. We all make broad sweeping statements, but I’d just like to be able to back mine up if possible. It’s a wonderful state. I love a lot about it; despise a little about it, and I have learn to adore many of its quirks.

When I mentioned that perhaps they don’t leave their own city much (which I’ve seen to be true with many people) the girlfriend tried to say they don’t have much money for that.  Money has never stopped our friend before. He’d been an adventurer. Finding rides with friends, and friends of friends. Exploring whatever places he got a opportunity for. Maybe it wasn’t much, and yet …it was.

A while after talking with her, I realized she probably imaged traveling as a vacation. Hotels, eating out, spending money on attractions. We haven’t often done that.

 

GO and BE.
I believe every city has its own personality. And I suppose small towns do as well. A region can definitely have a particular culture to it. It’s amazing to see the stunning differences with crossing of a boarder, whether geographically mapped or not. You don’t have to spend tourist-y money to learn this.  Being there, driving through, walking around, sleeping, eating, talking with people, watching people …all of these normal day to day things reveal the full experience.

Often my husband and I camp when it’s warm enough. It’s cheap and it tells a lot about region. Some place have been amazingly beautiful and calming, others were rough and more unwelcoming as a whole.

 

Ironically, at the end of the day, this isn’t about traveling or visiting places. It’s about living life, knowing there’s more out there when you need an “out there” to adventure into. Sometimes we live our lives in such a small space that we miss our whole lives.

Survival mood can only work for so long, before it stops feeling like life. Before hopes stops flowing in. I don’t want to see that happen. Sometimes, I have to watch it happen. I can’t force anyone to get help, to try something different, to adventure beyond the unhappy state that they’ve known for so long.  Sometimes I can only proclaim that “other” exist.

 

We continue to pray.  We continue to hope, while we have hope. We continue to remind people the think, seek, pray, progress.  Sometimes the unpaved road leads to home.

What Does Relating Have to Do with Relationships?

I listened to an interesting video of an orthodox Jewish woman talking about the concept of “Judaism is not a Religion, It’s a Relationship”. What a familiar phrase. Yet there’s good evidence in the roots of Judaism for such a concept. I watched to see what she’d say.  Not much, I’m afraid.

We don’t understand relationship. We don’t practice relating. We are a must-do-these, must-be-this, must-be-seen-as such&such. We don’t know about relating, and therefore our best concepts of relationship suffer.

We bend our language to make things fit. We don’t consider what is being said and what needs to be said. Sometime we only know that something should look like this, it should cover that, it should fit across here… but don’t consider the limits of a word or the benefits of that limit.

In the previously mentioned video I heard the woman give different examples of relationship and how we can compare our interacting with God to something similar. The problem came in when some examples were of a relationship, yes, but a tip-toe relationship.

Appeasing isn’t relating.
It maybe done in love, but it still isn’t relating. It isn’t dealing with root issues. It isn’t connecting to how someone other than ourselves might feel and why. If we take enough time to fix the problem, but not enough to consider why the problem arose in the first place, we are just managing one another. It’s not relating.

My husband maybe one unlucky man. He married a woman who wasn’t planning on marrying. He married a woman who straight-face told him she not a believer in “woman submit!” theology.  When he married me, his life began to change, and he didn’t know what he was in for.
Everyday I work with my man on life. Sometimes I feel sorry for him. Many christians marry and their wives are these humble-meek creatures the live to serve and honor their man. I teach him. I don’t mean to do it. It’s not my intention, but yet it’s my goal that he realize who God has created him to be.

He came from a reasonable family, but not one that was going help him become into greatness. In fact they expected him to fail because a few doctors and teachers had critical words to say,  and for some reason I cannot conceive his parents believed those “professionals”.  Yet I meet him as a young man, and something in my spirit recognized his spirit, and fate was sealed.

I think probably everyday in our marriage I ask my man questions. Simple questions, hard questions, rhetorical questions, long-term-thought questions, intraspective questions. I cause for him to work, to search, to rise up. …and he has.
I think a reason that I do this, isn’t because I don’t already love who he, but because I don’t think he has seen who he really is.

We all believe lies about ourselves at different points in our life.
Sometimes we allow those lies to define us. Sometimes we get tired of fighting them when they’re repeated over & over again. Sometimes it’s all we’ve known and we are not aware that they are lies.  And yet, they form us into something we are not. They keep us from being who are meant to be. The stifle beauty that means to gently unfold. Yet we don’t always see them within ourselves. Sometimes it takes someone else who can relate and therein reveal a problem that hasn’t yet been dealt with or considered.

I propose that sometimes, as loved ones, we perpetuate the lies that one we love wears. We mean to treat them with honor and therefore we allow them to continue to cover their shame or hurt (ect.).  But a wound that is covered can still get an infection. It must be treated underneath a clean cloth. …But in relationships… that a hard place to be. It’s a fragile company to keep. It’s deep.

Sometimes it’s easier to allow it to be “their problem” and let them deal with it in their own way. Sometimes others’ wounds remind us of our own, and we too would like to keep that hidden.  But that’s not relating, it’s just managing.

I might also point out, that to dig up wounds for the sake of “healing” them and being a hero or rescuer, can be manipulation or using one another, and that’s not healthy either. There’s no healthy substitute for relating.

It takes learning what it’s like to be in our own skin, or to feel our own bones before we can actual relate to another. And yet…we have this thing called “relationships” were sometimes we just get lost and hide in one another. We don’t always consider what’s it like to be who I am, and what does that have to do with being connected to this person here, who I am in a relationship with. Instead we’re hiding in feelings, schedules, raising a family, making then spending money, plans for the future …and we take very, very little time to consider our soul or the one whom we love, their soul. We just keep passing the days, and we do fine.

I don’t want fine. I don’t want a good life. I don’t want average. …and I don’t want that for my man.  He’s more than that, I know. I’m not sure he knows. Despite my struggles of worth & importance, my spirit knows that my life was made for adventures. I know I could be something that helps others cue into their importance, and I know that it could be world changing. But I have to be able to touch something that’s alive. I have to have life within myself that I believe is unique and intentional for my surroundings.

For me I have to believe in God who believes in me. A God who created be to be some specific in this time and in this generation. For me this is my bases for being able to relate to other people despite any internal struggles, or even because I have those specific internal struggles.  I know I’m not the only one who struggles, and reality has allowed me to connect to something gives me strength to bear the load and shuck the shame.

Relationships were meant to have more relating in them, than what we give credit to them in our modern society. To be able to relate is world changing, life-touching, and life giving. Consider… what does relating have to do with (my) relationships?

How to Not Become What I Hate

I have the luxury that not too many time on my news feed do political things come up. However, the do come up. I can’t help but laugh at the slogan “not my president” like an individual needs a president, instead of that which it truly is, a country receives a president. I can’t help but notice the venom of not getting everything “my way”.
I’m surprised how many people have fallen in line with this. Surely there’s other ways to reasonably express the same thing. So much time spent on something so disliked. …and why? What difference will it make in the end?

What happened to be the change you want to see? Or is hate a hot seller right now? I wonder: How do we not become the thing we hate?

It’s not just about politics. It’s actual life and character that are at stake daily.  I ask myself this questions not because of politics or news feed propaganda, but because I’ve come across (and walked away from) people who cannot be reasoned with. People who are destructive, manipulative, cunning & deceitful yet claiming to be innocent. The struggle was all too real. Too close to home. Too appalling. In the end, I got nothing. No one heard me. I was the trouble maker for pointing out the lies. In the end all I had was this questions: How do I not become what I hate?

In our lives, I believe we learn not just from good examples, but also from bad examples. Yet either way, we can find that this path markers can become more like our aim or goal. We focus on them too much and we never get to enjoy the path ahead of us. We can even get into messy situations or get lost.

If I focus too much on what I despise (for the sake of not being that) there’s a chance I could actually accumulate those same traits, that same path. I could find myself almost hypnotized by it. I don’t want that to happen.

I have to keep a balance. I have to remember that goal and not just the means or the markers. I have to remember I am not the things that I’ve been “shunned” for, and that those who would shun me, don’t know me. They’re unwilling to know me. I have to know who I am, not based upon the accusatory things that others say. I have know truth apart from opinion. …and that’s ridiculously hard. But If I don’t it’s consumingly destructive.

Sometime I get lost in destruction. I forget to move. I forget to cover up and protect the necessary core. I get worked over by those who don’t intend good for me, but wins for themselves. I am in the way. …to them.

These moments can’t define me. I am more than my weakness. I am greater than my strength.  It’s something that takes training and self-diagnostics. It takes refocusing and breathing good air. I have to remember what is beautiful, and let that also be an inspiration. I cannot fill my head with what I despise, and then expect that I’ll become better than just that. I need to consider that there is beauty which is still waiting to unfold. I need to remember that I can be part of that (regardless of what others say I am). I need to protect that…delicately.

I need to remember that no matter who “won” that there’s a lot of work to do. Good work.

I am becoming something that I wasn’t before. I need to cultivate that into the good that I want to see. I need to keep my eyes on prize, and not dredge down into previous failings. I need to move forward, because there’s more than just me at stake.

I need to consider whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise… then these thing shall also obtain a place in my mind and my musings. I will not be overcome by imbalance and injustice. I will strive for beauty’s sake.

 

Loneliness: Struggles of Isolation

Loneliness doesn’t mean I’m alone; it means I’m isolated. I can be hanging out with people, or sitting right next to my own husband, and I can still feel deeply alone. For me, I can grin and bear it most days of attack. But not all days. And not everyone can.

The ironic thing about loneliness or isolation is there will always be those people who say “oh I’m here! you can talk to me anytime” …Anytime? How about the last time we hung out and we never talked about real life? How about last weekend when I had nothing going on, and I dwelt quietly in my own silence. “Anytime” seems like a pretty flexible word when it’s only heroically attached.

Besides…

Loneliness isn’t defeated by distractions.
To engage in friendship long term is something I feel utterly inadequate to speak about, and yet…these are they who we depend on. If someone wants to help defeat loneliness in another’s life, they must also help defeat boredom, incessant questions, empty chatter, and yes, isolation itself.
We must be a people who act like…well…people.

The last thing I want to do is create a formula to nullify loneliness. That would be the epitome of recreating the problem. Formulated relationships are isolating. Maybe that’s why it has little effect when someone says “I’m here for you” but then never is “here” so to speak. Or they’re around and yet still very distant.

Nothing kills like the silence of my closest friend. Nothing nullifies my worth, like my husband dealing with something on his own. Just when I thought we were a team. I’m locked out.  I’m on my own, waiting, alone. Isolated.
Marriage isn’t the key to escaping loneliness, and this is a myth that I long to dispel for those who sink headlong into this new arena. Loneliness doesn’t mean a marriage isn’t working; it means you’re human…very human.

I have a big family that I love, but sometimes there’s nothing lonelier than being in the midst of that group. When there’s an argument on, and I’ve taken a firm stance on the minority side of things… whew! It’s pretty lonely out on that branch. It’s isolating. And they’ll wait me out. …so they think. Instead…there becomes a rift.
They’ve forgotten all about the argument…or most of it… and I still feel the burn of scorn in my inner being. Oh God! What’s more isolating then pretending nothing hurts? Few things are. I won’t lie. I know a few things are worse.

I grew up playing a part. Being known as a title instead of having a name. That’s what happens when you have a parent working in public service. …That’s also what happens when you have a charming charismatic brother who all the girls think is hot. From one title to the next, I was pretty use to the shadows.

So something happened when I got out on my own. A freedom that I wasn’t use to. Some people saw me, and I wasn’t use to being seen or noticed. I wrote it off …for the most part. Yet it was fun too. And then… I got married, which was awesome! But it didn’t take anytime at all before I sunk back into a shadow. My man…the theologian, the musician, the science man, the darling religious dictionary.
And I…I grew up to be the distasteful hard-nosed confident woman who shares her opinion…her unwanted opinion… without even realizing that it was an opinion or unwanted. Here I thought I was making jokes, making friends, and stating the obvious.

I can be such a fool.

Loneliness doesn’t require a lack of people or contact with people. It only requires isolation. Sometimes it’s people and dear friend which are exactly they who bring it.
I’m sure I’ve been a villain as much as a victim. I am not careful. I am only sincere.

Instead of being or finding a cure, I try to learn to walk -long walks- in isolation without it fully killing me. What’s a little more death? I make it through. I live. I’m strong. …and people hate my strength. Around another corner will be another thoughtful person waiting to take me down… down into isolation. My fire swamp. I’ve lived there quite happily for sometime now. Why should I care what becomes of me?

One. Two. Three. Breathe in. Breathe out. Repeat. Repeat.

And yet… like many other human beings… I would theoretically like to be known, be seen, be remembered affectionately. Yet if my choice is self-inflicted isolation of the shadows or isolation of the strong being attacked for their strength. I hardly know which one to choose. I switch between the two like my life is a game of hot potato.

The hardest part is finding the strength to know others suffer this too.
Or so I assume. When you’re isolated it’s hard to tell.
I want be strong enough to say I suffer, not for sympathies sake, but because I fear someone else might think they are alone in their isolation, or that their loneliness is consuming and who can see them now?
It is hard to see from here, but sometimes I can still here a voice calling to me. Or I can still here my heart begging me to get up, one more time. Maybe if I feel this…maybe someone else does as well. Maybe I still have a voice that can be heard, that can help.

One. Two. Three. Breathe…

Words We Use

There is something beyond words, that we use to express ourselves. Perhaps in the most extreme situations this is the truest. To be whittled down into mere words, is an insult, a handicap, a lost, a silencing.

 “All I have is words, to which I’m a slave
I scribble them down, hoping they’ll save me…but I’m lost
…I am so lost”

– Mae
“You leave me with nothing but words
So I’ll put them together, and hope that I’m heard”

– Listener

It’s said that after World War II was over and when we had discovered the unfathomable reality of the Nazi death camps, one of the first things that happened was (I believe the president at the time) had it recorded with film (photography and video) so that the evidence would always remain with us, and people wouldn’t be able to out-right deny it. Unfortunately, so shortly after these tragedies there has arisen people who have tried to deny it.
Those who recorded the horrors on film,  knew such evil would lie to say it never existed. How sad that it’d be so soon (let alone ever). Beyond words, testimonies, and books, we now also have film (photography and video), to remember & record these horrific truths at the very least, and hopefully remind us not to bow to evil. I am thankful for those who choose to remind us of truth.

We are a people who love deeply, who hurt deeply, who feel deep callings that are unexplainable and yet are every bit as real as the hunger for food. In life we come to times where words are a poor means of capturing a moment or explaining the severity or portraying a need.

So we draw. We strum. We build. We dig. We walk. We look…we find…we capture a moment. We write. We hold on….just a little longer.

We move from a place where we use words to define the depths of our current circumstances, and into a place where we define the words as the essence of this moment, this feeling, this point in history. Whether love, wounds, wonderment, hope, …the place where hope once was, or even the search thereof.

We create to explain this is how we have lived. It’s not only to record ourselves, but to connect…knowing we do not face things in this life alone. We are one; one of many. We need to connect our hearts together, and if all we’re given is words, then we’ll find a way to transform words into heartbeats, rhythms you know. Rhythms I’ve felt. This is the beauty of creating. This is the beauty of allowing words to come into fullness. When our word describe reality and life, not just mere promises or flirts, then we’ve connected to the deep things.

We each have a rhythm that is attuned to our hearts. We may each hear a different calling, but different callings can align in a singular direction, a singular connecting point, a common ground.

We get lost in our own heads, thoughts, singularities, anxieties, busyness, feebleness. But being lost is never too out of the way to connect to one another. To hope for someone else, that which they no longer have the strength to hope for themselves. We are meant to work together, to encourage one another, to balance and to shake one another. To remind each other we are not alone, and we not be the only ones who feel alone.

In our lives we create markers for those who might pass through this way. Warnings of what roads not to take, and directions to the places of hope and restoring. With our lives we build monuments of what can happen. We must share our lives and stories together. We must listen to the stories, lives, and footsteps of others. We must pray for good, even if we expect the worse.

Our listening must be an observance beyond words.

If we always wait for words to tell us, how a journey is going and fullness of that life’s experiences, then we will miss many things. We may even miss very important things. Instead we need to listen through loving observations as well. We need to participate in the lives of those whom we love, and the loves of those who God has entrusted to us. We must find the bold humbleness that allows us to draw together, strum together, build together, dig together, walk together, look together…find together…capture a moment together. Write together. Hold on …just little longer to one another. Because these are the things that Love unfolds in our lives: intertwined paths.

Beyond words, life exist. Beyond description, beauty unfolds. Beyond myself, many lives have fought the same battles I fight. A few won. Others, like me, still fight. I am not alone. I am not an untold story. I am not unnoticed.

I am one. A one who is part of many. I hope one day, my life will be much more than words on page. I hope my heart will be heard…and loved for its irregular beat. But today…I use words.