Two years ago…A Lesson in Love

We are nowhere near Valentine’s Day but I wanted to share this with you. Lately I have been a little discouraged…much the way I was when I wrote this post that originated as a note on my Facebook on Valentine’s Day 2011. I wanted to share it again because I have been thinking about it. Basically, it was written at a time when my life was changing. I had hurt people and had been hurt (probably unintentionally) by people in my life, but I was mostly doing the hurting…and then coming to my senses and pouring my heart out:

2/14/11 – I’m writing this because it helps me get it out…instead of crying. I know that I will be okay tomorrow but I need to let you know how I feel right now…I feel like a jerk. I’m the most oblivious person I know. Valentine’s Day is about love, actually, EVERY day is about love; I know this, but I am too stupid to act on it sometimes. Many of you love me in one way or another and I usually don’t notice or care or bother to thank you guys. I’m an idiot.

I realize now what my lesson is and why I always have to be the one to initiate things when it comes to my relationships. Because they want me to. Because, for whatever reason, I am important to some people some how.

If you are one of them, know this. I’ve been so stupid lately. I SEVERELY underestimate how many people care about me and I really take them for granted or just neglect them and their efforts. In fact, I am very immature and very selfish. I’m not one to pay others any attention and I usually don’t notice or care when people are trying to show their love and concern for me. Also, when people talk I usually don’t listen, when they call I don’t answer and when they try to love me I throw it right back in their face. I don’t break hearts; I don’t even TAKE them, I just let them fall to the floor and shatter into a million little pieces.

When I think about it, this is the reason that I have lost touch with many of my friends and other relationships that could have been, but ended in flames. I even lost my first love due to my stupidity and neglect. Yes, my selfish actions have cost me dearly over the years. If you you have known me for any length of time, you know that I use to be a masochist, in short; I was absolutely addicted to ensuring my self-destruction. And you know that I use to be worse, much worse, than this, but I’m not over it. I don’t mind anyone knowing that because honestly…this is the first time I actually really cared about changing it. I mean, I really, really want to make it go away now. I thought I was better, but I’m not. I feel like I’m still going out of my way to ruin my own life, just as before.

Because of this tendency of mine, I have let someone very important to me down. And, whether I like it or not, what I did (or didn’t do) had a consequence that I can’t forgive myself for…at least, not just yet. It scares me. It now, occurs to me that if I don’t stop this I may end up alone and dying and completely without ANYTHING. No house, no family, no husband, no cats…anything. I have realized that this MUST stop.

I cannot keep blaming it on my past. I’m in control now. What REALLY disgusts me is that I was in control and I let this mess happen. I didn’t want the responsibility. I lost confidence. I was being a child. I suppose that at 23 there’s only so far I can go in the sense of growing up and becoming mature. I did this and I am destroying it. I made my life this way: better, and now I am breaking it down…I didn’t realize that my life was good and I was loved. I never meant to hurt anyone, but by hurting myself, I do.

My Valentine’s Day lesson: Don’t go through life as if you are unloved, because before you know it you will be.

What I have been thinking about is this: as I read over this old post I know that I’m not the same girl who wrote it BUT I still feel the same way every so often. Lately I have been feeling sort of the same. I have a new group of people in my life now, wonderful people, brothers and sisters in Christ that, if I could give them the chance, could be invaluable friends to me. The problem with these people becoming friends, however, is that sometimes I feel that I can push people away simply by being passive. Oh, I’ve been working for 2 years on my attitude so that’s not so much a problem. The thing is that after that, underneath the attitude, lies more layers, layers of isolation that go largely unnoticed by me because I do not have a problem being alone. I’m alone now. I think I like being alone too much and end up unknowingly isolating people as a result. I don’t mean it, it just happens. I feel that I am doing this to my ministry [music]…just leaving it alone. At first, I was deciding to “take a break” but a few weeks into that, to be honest, I started to feel very discouraged and “unmissed” or not “needed”. I know this is crap; quite possibly burn-out but I still feel it. I know I’m not the only one.

Curiously, the message this past Sunday was on idols…not as things but feelings. One of these was “acceptance and influence”; idolizing those feelings and wanting them from sources other than God. Hearing that caused me to break because I knew that the cause of the above post and what I’m feeling now is a result of wanting those feelings from people and things. Now that I know a problem is there, I’m working on it. In fact, I’ll post that message here when it’s online because it was so refreshing.

Anyway, I keep repeating my lesson: “don’t live as if you are unloved..” over and over in my mind, trying to combat this discouragement and desire for approval. This desire…if left to grow will take my focus from others. I can’t let that happen.

I hope that, if this lesson finds you, it will help you.

The Next Chapter

Hellllloo, everyone! Everyone who reads this, even if it’s just one person, share my joy. I’m so happy to be here. April 26th 2013 marks the first night Tristan and I spent in our new apartment. It does feel like I’m starting over again but I’m thankful I get to start over as me instead of the me of 6 years ago. I’m truly blessed. And now that I feel lighter and don’t feel like I have to try so hard just to exist, I’m slowly coming back to the things that used to make me happy – before the huge mess that was 2009-2011 happened. If you don’t know about the last two years of my life, you can catch up here. But if you do, read on.

Our new apartment is a reasonably sized 2-bed, 1 bath space sectioned off from a 3 apartment building, squeezed into place on a little one-way street in west Philly. Ours happens to be at the back of the building and can only be accessed from an ally (which I like), essentially invisible from the street. I loved that – it was one of the many things that I liked about this one in particular.

We started seriously looking at places to live in March, of course we had always been looking. Every time I went out I eyed houses like they were shoes on a shelf at Ross or some place, for that perfect “pair” to call my name but I wasn’t too serious about it. I didn’t want to take my “shopping” too seriously because the last thing I wanted after losing the last house we lived in was to take matters into my own hands; I wanted God to be the authority on this one. So I waited and prayed – always looking but never “picking up and trying on”. Though in March it hit us that 1/3 of our marriage had been spent in a dark, tiny space under someone else’s home. While I will be forever grateful for my time spent in darkness and silence – we both knew that the end was near. We started looking on our own – deciding not making any decisions until we had a walk-through and prayed about it. At first we thought we could actually buy something, neither one of us really wanted to rent again but the events that followed our first walk-through helped us learn just how much we weren’t ready for that. Starting over in that way is a little frustrating to me, but at the time I knew and I believe that God knew that I needed to be shown the deep end to decide on what I knew was right: that I wasn’t financially or emotionally ready to take the plunge. Several more misses later I had started to except the idea that I might be in that basement for another year and that it might be better for us to stick it out that long…but then (I love the “but thens”). We found an offer through the church, not only that, but through one of my teammates on the worship team which I had waited and prayed on for a year before I considered joining; praying that God would put me on the stage if He wanted me there but I wouldn’t go by myself.

We saw this apartment at the beginning of April. I liked it right away but I was determined NOT to make any snap decisions. So I waited some more, about 2 weeks more and I still felt the same. I had prayed for a perfect home in season and it was just that: the size, layout, number of rooms, location – all were perfect. It was (and is still is a bit) dirty, neglected and smelly but I hadn’t had to clean a home in years so I didn’t mind – in fact I think God knew what I really wanted and that I really wanted to be a homemaker again. He gave me a home that covered all the things I asked Him for and many things that I did not.

Needless to say, I’m writing this from my new office right now. I’m amazed at this, at everything and I can only give the Lord all the credit. I just can’t explain this any other way. I want to share some verses that got me through some 800 days of silence and waiting on the Lord for a new home. If you made it to these words and don’t believe in God, read them anyway and may you be blessed (or whatever you choose to call it), and if you do, be blessed my brother/sister!

[Jesus said] “What is the price of five sparrows—two copper coins? Yet God does not forget a single one of them. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows. – Luke 12:6-7

…Jesus said, “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food to eat or enough clothes to wear. For life is more than food, and your body more than clothing. Look at the ravens. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for God feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than any birds! Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And if worry can’t accomplish a little thing like that, what’s the use of worrying over bigger things?

“Look at the lilies and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

“And don’t be concerned about what to eat and what to drink. Don’t worry about such things. These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world, but your Father already knows your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need.
“So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom. -Luke 12:22-32

Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later…

But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.
And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.
– Romans 8:18 & 25-27

Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. – Ecclesiastes 3:11

The Lord is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him. So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord. – Lamentations 3:25-26

To cite a few! I added the emphasis because these are the things that really stood out to me and still encourage me when I read them.

So now, as I’m getting settled in my new home I want to put a heart-felt “thank you” out into the blogoshpere for anyone that prayed or wished me well. I look forward to writing much more frequently as the next chapter of my life begins.

My new office :)

My new office :)

Writing & Singing & Resolve

I’ve started writing again; random things. I started writing my memoir that I was thinking about doing for about a year. It won’t be done anything soon because it’s a memoir chronicling my 20s (and I’m not quite finished with those). I haven’t added to RS recently but I’m probably going to soon. And I wrote a random song. I can’t even write music but I had a melody in my head and lyrics so I wrote it down. I may actually do something with it later as I’m getting more into music since becoming part of my church’s worship team, which I am LOVING. It so weird to me because I coasted through Christianity and church as a kid…I just didn’t ever get nurtured I guess and I just went through the motions. Now I’m doing less thinking and more feeling and progressing through song – a gift I’ve known about for a long time and I feel like is finally being used at this season in my life. That happens. It’s like I go through seasons where my gifts are in rotation at different times. Right now it’s writing and singing.

The random song I wrote in about 2 minutes yesterday is like my intro: feeling dead inside until I realize how loved I am and that my fears have no power any more (Romans 9 <3). I guess because lately I've been trying not to be afraid or discouraged. And I've been writing because there's so much crap in my head I have to put it somewhere. I'm hoping to finally be getting some actual vocal training and learning some music theory since I don't even know what the notes sound like. So I guess that's my only "resolution" this year. I don't normally make resolutions because to me January 1st doesn't mark the beginning of anything except the year, of course. So GOALS for 2013 now that I’m over my “new year blues”.

1. Get some training and put this voice to the test.
2. Write more.
3. Sing more.

That’s it. Everything else is just going to happen or not going to happen.

Powerless

This week I was powerless, quite literally.

This home (basement included of course) was without power this from Monday evening to yesterday afternoon on account of hurricane Sandy. The internet was out even longer. I’m writing this because 1) I’m happy to have my Internet back and 2) The pitch black end to my October made me think of some things.

It seems like the hurricanes have followed me up the cost. Having grown up in the south I have been through too many of these things to remember and I figured that Sandy would be no different. Even as my Philadelphia-native friends were preparing for an unfamiliar (for them) bout with the storm, I brushed off the need to prepare for anything. I knew what “category 1” meant and exactly what that entailed. I also knew that the power would probably go out. I just didn’t count on it being out for days.

I was right. Sort of. We got little rain and it was windy. Some trees fell (not on houses! Whew!) and some branches broke in the night and landed in the yard. And it was dark; very, very dark for almost 3 days. And though we didn’t get the worst of the storm by any means (prayers for NJ and NYC), there was still the difficulty of having no power in the house and a lesson to be learned for me in the process.

I had been thinking the past few days about panic, not the kind to be taken lightly but the, “I’m going to die” panic. I realize some people have never had that feeling, they’re blessed. I had the misfortune of coming face to face with panic during some of my first open water dives. [Scuba diving] as fun as it is, there’s a overwhelming sense of being very close to death in the moments when the water is deep and the light fades. When I was about 15 I dove down into my first underwater cave and it got very dark very fast. I was about 60 ft. down and maybe 30 ft. inside when I lost all light and in that second I felt it. It was pure fear, the kind that makes your bones feel cold. At once I lost all sense of direction. I became very aware of my frailty and the millions of gallons of cold water pushing in on my lungs. My breath was the only sound I heard and I was completely blind. My mask began to fill with water and I thought I was done. I hung there in the void feeling not only panicked but completely alone, and powerless to stop the fear.

I thought back to the cave while I descended the stairs into the basement yesterday night. I saw the stairs going down but I underestimated the bigness of the darkness and once again I was there in the blackest dark. It had swallowed me. I thought about my encounter with panic and how I had fought against my body to keep calm in the face of nothingness. Because it wasn’t the cold, or even the dark that scared me so bad. It was the loss of direction and with that, the loss of hope. It was uncertainty.

Obviously I did make it out of that cave. I remember I had never been so relieved to see the light. I was exhausted when I finally reached the surface; but I made it.

When you learn to dive, one of the first things you learn, that is reinforced throughout your training is, “don’t panic”. Because when you’re under there, surrounded my so much water there are too many things that can go wrong. The last thing you want to do is let yourself panic. That day, I had successfully felt panic and ignored it. I got out. I thought my way out, despite what my body was screaming at me.

Since then I have to leaned to accept my own powerlessness. I was powerless to make the electricity flicker back on. I couldn’t make the darkness disappear but I had power over my attitude. Again and again that is my lesson: Jackie can ONLY control Jackie. That’s it.

I also learned (again) that thinking I know everything is a sign of pride and that would not serve me well if this (or worse) happened again, in this case preparing for the worst was a good thing that I foolishly disregarded.

“Pride goes before destruction,
and haughtiness before a fall.” – Proverbs 16:18

Even so, the wonderful promise of Romans 8:28 came through! All things work together for good. We all made it though the storm safely (and so did our food)!

[EDIT]By the way! I’m in the process of redoing this site and moving some things so I apologize if it’s looks a little “undone”![/EDIT]

Money over mind?

I pass by glamour-covered mannequins in shop windows on the street or find my way onto a shop online; a website with a pretty slider displaying models in clothes that I neither want or need and a cleverly designed cart that just makes you want to fill it with things and somehow I feel drawn to them. At first I thought I just like to look at things because I’m visual. I love art and design and all things pretty. The only things that seem to interest me now is make-up and hair and whatever trends are in at the moment. When did I become so shallow? Or is it deep?

Is it deep that I may just desire the lives of the people behind these pretty, Photoshopped faces? That I have the money that their character might have to buy such frivolous items whenever they please? Because it’s the same with catalogs and trips to Ikea. I may very well want the life, not these things. It would make sense, right? Or is that just how I try to make sense of it all and justify my apathy toward everything but the beautiful and comfortable? Do I find myself lusting after these things, or am I just dreaming of having them – or being able to have them if I wanted to? Being broke can do strange things to a girl’s mind. I never use to think about what I am thinking about now. I had money once. I never cared. When I walked into a store I didn’t stare longingly at the clothes sensually draped over the mannequins in the window; big, bight signs in back telling me I needed that and me slightly nodding in agreement. No. I walked in, got what I wanted and walked out. I didn’t need to lust or look or spend hours in the store ogling the sale rack – touching everything. That is sure: it didn’t take me near as long to shop when I had money. I didn’t have to think so hard about making purchases, weighing values of clothing and trying to decide between the dress that fit perfectly (which is rare) and getting everything on the grocery list this time around [instead of skimping to afford it]. Yes, money (or lack there of) does terrible things to a girl’s mind.

So what is it? Have I really become shallow and flat? Or is this just me hiding or trying to deal with my less-than-ideal life style of the moment. Do I want or do I just want to want?

DISCLAIMER: This isn’t a pity post. I’m, not complaining. No, just reasoning. This is an issue that I’ve had for a while now and I’m still trying to figure it out. In this place that I God has me these are some of the things that run through my mind because I have seem to have lost much of my interest for anything else. I think it’s just burn-out (a two year long burn-out) and it will pass. But I just need help getting though it. Christians out there, pray for me.