When Emotion is Anathema to Gentleness

Twice so far this week (oh, who are we kidding? Twice in the same day…) I have wanted to get into a fight, or at the very least, a shouting match with people who have made friends of mine feel marked lousy. It didn’t matter to me whether it was a mistake or not, I just knew that they had hurt someone I care about and I was seeing red. It doesn’t help that I have been in a depleted, weary place for the past week and am finding my negative emotions easily amplified right now, but that didn’t matter either. All I knew is that these people needed to know just how much they suck. I even  gave in to internet courage and posted something to that effect on one hurt friend’s FB post about the incident.

And then I immediately felt guilty. I immediately felt like a fraud, a liar.

Here I am, claiming to espouse love and grace and gentleness, and yet I can act and say things so absolutely contrary to any of those things. I wanted my friend to know that she was supported and loved but I tore someone else down to do it, someone I didn’t even know.

I went back and edited my comment (to say that I wanted to yell at the HR person in question rather than hit them), but, obviously, I still feel badly about it. Or else I wouldn’t be sitting here, feeling compelled to write this at 6am the following morning.

Emotion can sometimes be an anathema to gentleness. Mine are currently running high, subject to amplification because of weariness and need to recharge/refresh, and I allowed them to rob me of an opportunity to show gentleness to a stranger. I lost a chance to model the gentleness that I am very much wanting and trying to internalize so that it becomes habit, instinct. That chance is gone now. I can change the post, I can apologize and try to do better, but I cannot erase that first response, that first action, those first words. They are written on time and memory. I won’t forget them, and I am honestly struggling a bit not to be consumed by them right now. I acknowledge my tendency to ruminate on things and cause myself a fair amount of emotional pain because of past mistakes. That is not what I want to do to here.

I acknowledge my humanity, my fallibility, and that I’m going to do the wrong thing at times. But I am not through. My growth is not over. I have felt that nudge of guilt, and I have listened to it. I see where I was wrong and I apologize for my behavior. I will try to be better today. I will strive for gentleness today, even with those I don’t know and may never meet. The words below were published by Jennifer Dukes Lee on her Facebook page yesterday and I am ever so thankful for them and their God-breathed truth.

“I want to be reminded that there is no failure. Failure is just another word for “try again tomorrow,” or “move on; there’s something better for you.” Failure is not the opposite of success. Failure is simply this: NOT TRYING.

Your bravery has a voice. As the week begins, listen to it. Bravery is the voice within that says, “I did not fail. I will try again tomorrow.” — Jennifer Dukes Lee


Lessons from “Calm Down”

I have been watching Inside Out with my toddler girl–or, as she has renamed it: Calm Down–for the past few days and I am finding that, while I am trying to teach my daughter lessons about emotions and feelings, I am learning and relearning some important ones myself. While one can learn to be emotionally awake and mature, I believe that there are always lessons worth revisiting as we grow through life.

*It’s okay to not be okay, even when people ask or want you to be okay.

*Just because you’re sad about something, it doesn’t mean your feelings are wrong.

*Just because you forget something or don’t think about it anymore, it doesn’t mean that it wasn’t beneficial or important or that it didn’t do you any good at the time.

*It is entirely possible to feel two things at once and have both of them be “right”.

*Crying is OKAY! Sometimes we just need to cry, and it really does help.

*It’s all right to not have all the answers.

*It’s all right to be scared and sad when what we have loved ends for whatever reason.

*It’s perfectly okay to look for the fun and to try to find the joy in situations if that is what you need to do in order to cope.

*There is no shame in your personality, interests, hobbies, etc., changing as your life goes on. It’s part of growing.

*It’s also okay to not be willing to look for the fun and the joy in a situation for a time. We need to feel sadness, too.

*It is all right to need someone just to be there.

*We can sit on the bench with someone and not try to fix things or make things better. Sometimes someone just needs their sadness to be heard and felt and their tears shared.

There is so much that we as human beings are still learning about ourselves, our feelings, reactions, relationships, and growth, even as adults. Our personalities shift and expand and deepen. Our interests vary. Who we are and who we choose to be may change and that is all right. The truth is that we never stop growing, learning, feeling, or changing. And that is okay. We are okay. YOU are okay.


(Disclaimer: Inside Out and its images are the creation and property of Disney/Pixar. None of it belongs to me.)

NaBloPoMo Day 24: The 21st Turn

I do not have any journal entries about my 21st birthday night aside from the mention that my friends and I were going to go to dinner and then a film festival (don’t even remember what the films were about). But I do have a particular journal entry from the night before my 21st birthday that I really like and would love to share with you.

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So…soon (in a matter of hours), I’ll be 21, and I find that rather odd, honestly. I have a hard time stepping out-of-body and looking at myself, not as the little teenage girl who came here almost four years ago, but as a 21-year-old woman.

There are ways in which I KNOW I’ve grown. Only in the past year have I truly found what it means to be comfortable in my own skin. I’m a ‘walking contradiction’, and I like it. I’m a paradoxical simplistic, a semi-angsty romantic, as I once put it. I’m a girly-girl with a love for action and battle prowess; I’m a hobbit who speaks the tongue of Elves; I’m a wielder of pen with a love for the sword;  I’m a teacher who loves to learn; I’m a drama queen who has to work on graciously accepting compliments; I am a self-confirmed bachelorette who would someday like to get married; I’m a walking contradiction.

And I like it that way.

For years, I tried to be only one thing, what I thought people thought I should be: the perfect young lady, the angsty tomboy, the all-knowing sage, etc. No, it doesn’t work that way; I’m merely bits and pieces, as are we all–flawed but lovingly forgiven. This past year has just proven to me that God can put the pieces together in ways we could never imagine. Pieces that ‘should not go together’ come together perfectly in me. That’s not saying that I am perfect, but my Creator is, and I admire His ingenuity.

When Connections Fray

A friend of mine said something interesting to me back in March. She said, “[It m]akes me wonder what the next big bonding experience will be,” in reference to mutual friendships and how they have progressed. I didn’t notice it at the time, but that sentence came to mind recently right before I fell asleep and I realized that there is something in it that felt remarkably free. It was as if she had unveiled this divine secret to me that I just couldn’t grasp or understand until now. The secret?

Not all connections last.

It feels like she acknowledged it, accepted it (though the idea is hard and clearly does cause her pain), and was preparing herself to move on, happy to remember the good times and work through and file away the bad. It also felt like she was looking forward to new connections and friendships on down the road, the “next big bonding experience”, and she had just shared this secret of freedom with me. But it’s not exactly a secret, is it? It’s a truth.

Not all connections last.

I have had connections break and friendships end before, but that took a pretty deep hurt or traumatic catalyst to happen. One such catalyst was being thrown under the bus of someone else’s lies accusing me sexually harassing him and trying to steal him away from his wife. Not only being accused but those rumors — completely untrue, by the way — being spread around to people I knew and even those I didn’t know. That connection was done. Friendship over. No turning back, no second glances and no regrets. That is not something a connection can come back from, at least not for me.

In general, though, I am a personality type that works to preserve my connections, especially those that have been formative to who I consider myself to be as a woman and a person. So a truth like the one above can be hard for me to swallow at times. Very hard. Letting go can be quite painful and it feels suspiciously like giving up to me, but it doesn’t make the truth any less the truth.

Not all connections last. Not all friendships/relationships remain close-knit or even remain, period.

I still communicate with my friends from high school but have only really remained close with one. I still communicate with very dear friends from college but have also lost touch with more than I care to admit over the past eleven years. I still have some close friends from nine or ten years ago, but some of those connections have ended, others rather abruptly. Others I still hold near and dear to my heart, are still thriving with synapses firing in both directions, and those are lovely and life-giving.

But not all connections last. And sometimes that is incredibly difficult for us as interconnected, interdependent human beings to accept. But we do need to accept it. To refuse to do so will rob us of the joy that we can take in the connections that still remain, as well as rob us of the ability to grow and mature and continue to build ourselves up with new connections and new, deep bonds that resonate with this particular season in our lives.

Now, please, do not mistake me. I am not saying that we should just give up on the old bonds and connections that helped us along this road of life. No, no, no. If there is still life there, nurture it and be intentional about preserving those connections and friendships. Life is busy, yes, but make time. At the same time, though, you know as well as I do that sometimes connections fail, bonds unravel (swiftly or slowly), and friendships can fade for any number of reasons (and most not malicious). If that happens, if you have tried to stem this flow and it continues, it is all right to step back and let it go if you feel that it’s necessary and for the best. Don’t be afraid, however much you might feel so. Believe me, this message is just as much for me as it is for you.

Not all connections last. And that is all right.

Some people find it easy to end connections, move on, and find new ones. For some, it is not so easy and can be incredibly painful. I am one of the latter; I only have a handful of people at a time whom I would call “close friends”, with whom I am comfortable being wholly myself, and from whom I fear nothing. However, none of this makes anyone else’s experience any less valid or the truth of this any less…well, true. Not all connections or friendships last. Life flows and carries us with it, no matter how hard we tend to dig in our heels.

There is a goal in all of this change, however. Lynn Cowell wrote a thought so well that it has stuck with me continuously: “Every day we are becoming something different. The question is, Who are we becoming? During the planting, watering and weeding of change, if we will be diligent and faithful during each season, we’ll see beauty grow in our lives.”

Each season of our life (even those of change) has different needs and those that enter our lives during those seasons can help us grow in specific ways. This article is not a call to be cruel. It is not a rallying cry to take a pruning shears to your life. Rather, it is a permission slip to acknowledge that, sometimes, it is okay to let go, to let things and people go. It might not be easy and we may not like it. Actually, it might be difficult and quite painful. However, we can still “allow the pressure of transition to transform [us] (Cowell)” and grow us into better, more mature, and stronger people. Likewise, connections that remain can still bring us joy and growth as well, as long as we are willing to to work on them to keep them alive.

Not all connections last, not all friendships are immortal. And that is okay. We can remember the good, process and file away the bad, and move on, acknowledging the part those connections played in helping us become who we are.


The Landslides of Life

Today, as I drove home from Planet Fitness, I began to sing through my Glee playlist on iTunes. One of the songs I came across was Gwyneth Paltrow and the Glee cast’s rendition of Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide”. I love Glee’s arrangement of this song and, as I sang alone in the car, a curious thought struck me.

“This could really be my song for 2014.”

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