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Friday, September 21, 2012

Strong enough

Wow, two blog posts in one week is a definite record for me!  I have been thinking a lot about being strong and being a strong person for everyone.  I was recently told that I didn't need to be strong for everyone and that I need to allow myself and others to rely on God and not try to be everything for everyone (this was very humbling to say the least). 

This seems like such a simple concept and it seems like it should be so freeing to not try to be strong enough all the time, right?  Yet, I have struggled day after day for the last few weeks to try to figure out how this looks.  I always want to have everything all together for me, my family, work, my friends etc.  I hate to break down. I hate to show weakness. I want to be in control and I am definitely proud. 

What are the real reasons behind my inability to show weakness and be real?  Do I worry and care so much about what others think of me?  Do I not trust God who has again and again been faithful?  Do I only keep it together because if I let down all the pieces will fall apart?  I think I could truly answer yes to all of the above questions! 

I also have realized that through many years of dealing with illness and pain, I have learned to try to appear strong through it and put on a smile, even when I was hurting.  I believe that because of those moments, I learned to not be the real, authentic person that I am called to be. 

So, now I am working on still figuring out how this looks.  I have held on so long to this belief that I could handle anything that I am frightened of what it would look like to not have it all together all the time.  I know that in the moments that I have been truly authentic, real and broken I have learned more that I ever could by keeping it together and pretending everything is okay.  So, for those of you that know me, if you see me crying or being weak :-), please know that I am working to let God be my strength and I am working to be the authentic, real and weak person that I truly am. I also am praying for who are like me and are constantly battling to be strong enough, that you, like me, will realize that it is okay to not be strong enough on your own.

I will leave you with the words from Matthew West's song "Strong Enough."  This song that I have heard many times hit me full-force this morning as I drove to work.  I am glad that I don't have to be strong enough on my own, but only through Jesus Christ my Savior! I am looking forward to the freedom that this will bring.


You must, you must think I'm strong to give me what I'm going through
Well, forgive me, forgive me if I'm wrong but this looks like more than I can do on my own
 
I know I'm not strong enough to be everything that I'm supposed to be I give up I'm not strong enough
Hands of mercy won't you cover me Lord right now I'm asking you to be strong enough strong enough For the both of us
 
Well, maybe, maybe that's the point to reach the point of giving up
Cause when I'm finally, finally at rock bottom well, that's when I start looking up and reaching out
I know I'm not strong enough to be everything that I'm supposed to be I give up I'm not strong enough 

Hands of mercy won't you cover me Lord right now I'm asking you to be Strong enough Strong enough
Cause I'm broken down to nothing but I'm still holding on to the one thing you are God and you are strong when I am weak
 
I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength and I don't have to be strong enough strong enough
I can do all things Through Christ who gives me strength and I don't have to be strong enough strong enough
 
Oh, yeah
I know I'm not strong enough to be everything that I'm supposed to be I give up I'm not strong enough 
Hands of mercy won't you cover me Lord right now 
I'm asking you to be strong enough strong enough strong enough

[ From: http://www.metrolyrics.com/strong-enough-lyrics-matthew-west.html ]

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Life-altering moments

I know we all have had life-altering moments. Those moments that you never forget.  Those moments that you can remember every detail about. Those moments that are forever burned into your brain.  In view of my most recent post about being grateful for what I have and choosing to look at life with a positive attitude, some of my life-altering moments came to mind. 

One of the most vivid and difficult moments I have had was the day I was told that Darren and I would never be able to have more children unless we tried IVF and even then our chances of conceiving were very low (there are many more details here, I chose to leave out).  I was driving my daughter and my nieces home from a day at a water park when the fertility doctor's office called.  I remember what street I was on and I vividly remember ever detail of the conversation.  I also remember breaking down when I got to my sister's house to drop off my nieces.  I remember my Mom and my sister comforting me.  I remember calling Darren and crying so badly that he couldn't understand what I was trying to say.  I remember feeling shell-shocked that after 4 years of trying, hoping and praying to have a baby being told I couldn't.  I remember being angry, sad, mad, hurt and in shock all at the same time.  I remember feeling like my world had ended.  I remember thinking that I didn't know how to go on and pretend things were normal when all I could think about was never being able to have a baby. 

As you can see every time this difficult life-altering moment comes to my mind there are a lot of thoughts and emotions behind it.  Maybe you are still living with the aftershock of some difficult life-altering moments of your own.  It may not be related to infertility, maybe you have gone through the pain of losing a child, maybe you are having to deal with devastating health news for you or a loved one, maybe you have had a negative and life-altering moment in your marriage, whatever that moment was for you I am sure that when you think about it, there are a lot of emotions associated with it. 

Will you (and I) dwell on these difficult moments or will you learn from them, grow from them and  eventually be able to help others going through similar situations?  Will you remember the verse from Romans 5:3-5 that says "More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us."

So back to the positive outlook (see my positive spin there).  One of my other vivid life-altering moments was the day that my husband of 11 years asked me to marry him.  I was 20 years-old (yes, I was young and Kaitlyn will have to be at least 35 before she gets married :-),  I was a Junior in college.  Darren and I had been dating exactly a year. It was Valentine's Day and I knew Darren had my engagement ring. We had picked it out together and one night I sent him to pick out a movie for us and I looked through his apartment until I found it.  I also knew he had asked my Dad for his permission to ask me to marry him. Darren knew how much I hated surprises, so in true fashion he decided to mess with me.   When I talked with him that day he acted like he had forgotten it was Valentine's Day and didn't mention us doing anything that night.  I was so upset by the time he picked me up from my dorm that I didn't even want to go out that night.  We drove to Applebee's which was the restaurant we ate at on our first date (we are real big spenders :-). When we got there I knew this was the night he was going to propose.  I even called my friend Nancy from the bathroom to tell her.  After a dinner of not eating much because I was so excited, Darren proceeded to read to me (he is an amazing writer) from a special book he had written that documented all that had happened in the last year of our relationship.  He drove me around Oklahoma City to special spots and gave me a rose at each place. At the final spot, he had the whole bouquet of roses and in the roses was my ring. He made the night so special and sweet that I will never forget this positive life-altering moment.

 So we all have those good and bad life-altering moments, what do we do with them?  I know I am personally still in the learning process of how to not dwell on the negative life-altering moments, but instead to learn from them.  I do not want to be defined simply by the bad moments I have had, but I want to be defined by how I am living my life now and by the many positive life-altering moments I have experienced.  I know that I cannot alter my past, change the hurts that have happened to me or completely forget all of those bad life-altering moments, but I can choose to face each day grateful for what I have and grateful even for those difficult, life-altering moments that are producing character and hope within me.