Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Blessing in Forgetting

A friend wrote this. I think it's too good not to share, so I asked for and received permission to publish it here.

Alzheimer’s and Glory

My mother is losing her memory. She lives in New York with her husband. My sisters have homes near her, about five miles away. I live in Texas. I tell you that because I don't want to cheat anyone out of what I'm about to say. What I mean is that I know it isn’t easy, dealing with someone who has Alzheimer’s, but that my point is further away in a hope of Heavenly things. I've seen something remarkable inside this so called loss.

My mother has lived a hard life emotionally. I don't pity her or feel sorry for her. I do have compassion, though. And I think she'd rather have that than the other.

It used to be difficult to talk to her - all of those defenses up, protecting herself from being hurt. So much judgment spoken into her life, that you had to be careful what you said because, to no fault of her own, it would feel like insult and razors to her.

When I speak with her on the phone now, there is an ease about it that wasn’t ever there before. She doesn’t so much laugh, but giggles when she tells me she falls down a lot, and I tell her she has to work on her landings. Like a child she listens and if she doesn't understand she can just ask again, over and over, and not feel stupid or embarrassed, like we've been trained to do as so called - grownups. I don't hear the defensive breath being held, waiting for the slight to drop. I don't hear her wheels spinning, thinking of counter statements to wag back if she feels hurt or threatened. What I hear is a clean slate. I hear a spirit where there is no condemnation, nothing to come up and compare or feel guilty about. And it's no effort on her part. I mean, she's losing her memory. It isn't as though she's making some willful choice to not remember. And I can't help but wonder if that's what it must be like when we get to Heaven - and finally lose our memory and fully taste what it means to not keep any record of wrongs. God bless you, Mom. Thank you for revealing this hope to me. I love you. I love you. I love you.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Permission to Feel

Last night I talked with my little sister. Well, we're not biologically related but she's my little sister in every way that counts. It felt good to connect, but my heart broke for her.

She'd recently experienced the loss of someone near to her heart. Due to circumstances, she hadn't had a chance to say "good-bye" to this person and it was eating her up on the inside. She was dealing with a storm of emotions in the way she'd learned as a child, which is basically not to deal with them because the emotions she has are not considered good.

One of the reasons she's my little sister is that we're similar in many ways. I understand where she is on the road because I've been there. I'd suffered a sudden loss where I didn't have the opportunity to say "good-bye" and I had a lot of anger and guilt as a result.

It took a long time for me to process my feelings at the sudden death of my father. There were things I wish I had done or said, and I felt like I'd been a poor daughter, though I did the best I could. Telling myself, "you did your best," didn't help me deal with my feelings. I had to give myself permission to feel what I felt.

Emotions aren't bad or good, they just are. We have them. As much as we might try to control them or keep them under wraps, we really can't. They're just there. What we can do, what I had to learn to do, is give ourselves permission to actually feel them.

It might sound odd, this idea of needing permission to feel, but there are a lot of people who, like me, were taught that only certain emotions are acceptable. Or that only certain emotions are allowed to be expressed.

In talking with my little sister, I asked her if she could give herself permission to feel what she feels. I asked her if she could give herself permission to be okay with what she feels, because those feelings are real and normal. I reassured her that being okay with where she is now and feeling what's there does not mean that she will always feel this way. Actually, by giving herself permission to be okay where she is now, she's taken the first step in processing through them so she can get to the other side of them.

She told me that she hadn't even realized the load that she was carrying in refusing to allow herself to simply feel what she feels. By giving herself permission to be okay with her feelings, a weight was lifted from her that she hadn't realized she was carrying.

Have you ever been in a place where you needed permission to feel? Where did you get the permission you needed?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

I'm Not Crazy, I'm Gifted

Not too long ago, a friend proposed the idea that I might be "gifted" and suggested that I connect with a dear friend of hers, a life coach whose focus is gifted children and their parents. I was rather surprised to think that I might be gifted. Honestly, the idea had never entered my mind. I was used to thinking of myself as a lot of things, but never gifted.

Once I connected with Lisa, and we began to talk, I started sharing some of my thoughts and feelings with her. I didn't hide anything. I didn't hide the things about myself that I see as negatives. Her response to me was, "That's classic in gifted people."

It has taken time to adjust to the idea. As I've continued to communicate with Lisa and research what it means to be gifted I find myself becoming much kinder to myself.

Today, I was reading a couple of online articles about being gifted. I found one on the Talent Development Resources site, and the other on the Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted site.

I noticed that both articles said very similar things in their descriptions of the gifted adult. Both articles described traits of a gifted person, addressing the postive and the negative of each characteristic. One of the articles mentioned that the people on whom the article was based exhibited three of the traits discussed.

I recognized myself in both articles. Each trait described is one that I exhibit. Not one or two or three. All of them.

As I continue to research what it means to be gifted, I'm beginning to realize that the isolation I've felt my whole life, the sense of being a weird sort of freakish, high-maintenance and needy person doesn't mean that there's something inherently wrong with me. It doesn't mean I'm crazy. It means I'm gifted.

That's such a load off my shoulders. I'm still amazed by the whole thing. But I'm also sensing a freedom that is new and delightful.

So, what about you? Have you ever considered that perhaps you, too, are gifted?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Last Call: The Destiny Project

This past Thursday was the last official session of my journey through the Destiny Project.

It took a bit for me to be able to fully focus on the call. Part of that might have been because I simply didn't want the journey to end. I'd come to rely on the calls and the connections made during them. Part of the struggle for me was that I felt incredibly scattered. I felt like I was being swarmed by a bunch of insects, some were gnats and some were hornets. Adding to that, I was exhausted.

The Destiny Project is an amazing journey into discovering who, at the very core of a woman's being, she was created by God to be in this world. Out of that core identity flows what she was created to do in this world. Through this journey I discovered that I was born to warm others and create a safe space where they can be who they were born to be. I've already been doing that, which is why some of the people who open their lives to me are comfortable doing so, I just didn't realize that was me walking out God's purpose for me.

I find myself frequently encouraging others, when they feel like they have to pull back in saying what they truly think or feel, not to hide or pretend with me. Those words are easy to say. A lot of people do say them, then when the other person has let his or her guard down the truth comes out and judgment falls. Then the person who let his or her guard down regrets having trusted the one who presented themselves as safe.

In religious circles, that sort of thing happens all the time. But that's not who I am, that's not who I want to be. That's not who the Lord created me to be.

Jesus is the safest person in the universe to go to and let it all hang out. Christians should be the same way, but too often they're not.

I decided some years ago that I didn't want to be "a good Christian girl" because I've met too many who are plastic. I do, however, want to be the best Christ follower I can be. That's one of the reasons I decided to go through the Destiny Project. It is, in fact, the primary reason. I can't follow Christ well if I'm not authentically being who He made me to be.

I didn't expect the hounds of hell to come chasing after me almost every day of every week of the project. In the wonderful view of hindsight, I suppose I should have seen it coming.

The enemy of everything and everyone whom God loves, and that includes everything and everyone in all of creation, doesn't like it when people take steps toward their destiny. He certainly didn't like it when I did.

Warfare is exhausting. I spent the better part of two months in the middle of a full-scale war. The Lord was revealing wonderful things during those two months, and there was a lot of joy and amazement. What the Lord was revealing to me is big, bigger than I would have ever thought. Actually, it's still all pretty overwhelming.

The enemy set me in his crosshairs and came after me with everything he could, trying to drag me or drive me back to the place where I had lived in cold darkness and isolation. There were days when it was a very close call. There were days when I wanted nothing more than to simply curl up and die, so it wouldn't hurt so much.

Even in the last week of the Destiny Project, it was a full on battle. I still hear him whispering to my soul, telling me that it was all in vain and that the connections made throughout the journey will fail. I keep telling him to go to hell, where he belongs, and shut up.

Here's the thing - the Lord's promise to me during the final session of the Destiny Project, spoken so profoundly that it shattered something inside my heart, is that all will be well.

While I don't have the particulars of what that will look like, I do know that it's not cold darkness and isolation. I do know that it's not what I fear the most, which is being thrown away as a person and utterly abandoned. Actually, it's highly likely that it's quite the opposite.

I wouldn't have recognized that truth had I not begun and completed the Destiny Project. Knowing what I now know was worth every bit of agony and warfare I experienced throughout the journey.

The Destiny Project is powerful. It's amazing. It's full of wonder and delight. It's also not for the faint of heart. I am recommending it to every woman I know.