Monday, May 11, 2015

Why I Chose "Love" This Mother's Day

Gift to Women at Willowcreek Church for Mom's Day
In celebration of women on Mother's Day 2015 at Willowcreek Community Church, all women were gifted with a pendant on a chain that had one of the following words: Hope, Grace, Love and Courage.

Sitting with my daughter in service, we almost immediately agreed that I should choose "Hope." After all, I have been the steady rock in our family over the last 9 months during an incredibly difficult storm that is only starting to subside.

Then, I drifted off again during service, thinking I might choose "Grace." I certainly understand and walk in a huge amount of grace with God and those who live with me. Plus my understanding of God's amazing grace has allowed me to extend grace abundantly in my life over the last 8 years or so.

I never thought about choosing "Courage" as it is emblazoned across my forehead and most folks who know and interact with me would call me brave, courageous, bold and all the negative nomenclature that remotely relates to courage.  I have a bracelet that says "Fierce" and I barely wear it anymore as people really don't need the visual cue - it's pretty apparent almost instantly.

That left "Love" as my only choice. My first inclination was to resist. Love is cheesy. I love, I reasoned sarcastically internally. But really the more I thought about it, my tough character is in a season where it desperately needs love.

To love and feel loved.

It is very easy and intuitive for me to "get stuff done." I can shut out feeling anything for days on end especially when there are clear needs and things that need to be done. Courage is second nature and almost as deeply engrained in my DNA as Hope. Hope is my fuel. And as I referenced last week, even a sliver of hope can be instrumental in pushing me forward sometimes to my own detriment. On a brain and heart level, I get Grace especially the  undeserved, abundantly flowing and unrequited kind. Grace was not easy but it was innate in my personality especially since I got married and became a mom. But love eludes me.

Just writing that sentence brought burning tears and a frozen tense state of being. I love. I love my husband, my kids, my BFF and hosts of other people but I struggle to feel love and be loved from others  - all those people included.

Let me be clear, it's not about stuff or cards or gifts or even time together. For me, love is about actions, behaviors and attitudes that display what someone means to you, consistently. Key word being consistent. It's why I struggle with holidays. Why do most people need external prompts to show our appreciation? Love is year round, day in and day out. And even if I struggle to express love to those around me, I don't believe I struggle in demonstrating it. I mostly struggle to see the love of others toward me and I know it's my own lens of love blocking it. Love is a very negative trigger for me and it feels un-American and certainly unmotherly to feel this way. All moms love "love," right?

So when the Teaching Pastor closed the service reminding us to choose  our pendant wisely and remember that part of the idea behind the gift was to select something that speaks to you now, precisely in the season you're in but that you will be on the look out for it as a need in others so that you may one day "pass it on."

That's why I chose "Love". I aspire to generously and courageously love and receive love in my life from the people I do my life with.  It's scary to think that I have courage, hope and grace so firmly figured out without love.  In fact, it makes me know that when I get a better grasp on love, all those other things will manifest in an even greater form in my being.

I am excited to turn some energy to "love" and see what I can do to soften the trigger reactions to it.

Monday, May 4, 2015

2 Ways Forward When You Feel Stuck "Trying"

Late last year, with the help of one of my coaches, I learned that I had a big problem taking and owning responsibility for stuff that was not mine to own. 9 months later, even with that awareness, I still find myself struggling to only own stuff that is mine. In my yoga practice lately, that has been my biggest "intention," let go of stuff that is not mine. This past weekend, a conversation with my 13 year old made it crystal clear why I've struggled and gave me a pathway for freedom. Her simple assessment of a situation gave me two clear paths forward for the next time I get stuck.

Recognize Your True Contribution

Often times we inflate our importance to a circumstance or situation. When we stop to look at our true placement in a particular situation, we can see that even when we are an integral part of something, we truly are only a part of it - not the whole. We can never be the whole when we are part and understanding that helps us set boundaries for what we can and cannot do. My daughter clearly articulated that seeing and understanding our place in a situation enables us to make a good call on how much energy we should invest in changing that situation.

Know When To Say When

As the consummate overachiever in all areas of life, giving up and knowing when to give up is one of my biggest blind spots. Having had the opportunity to grind out victory over victory for most of my life has skewed my judgement on "when to say when." As much as recognizing my true contribution to a circumstance is key, so is understanding when my efforts are having diminishing returns. People like me take hope from even the slightest progress and sometimes that is ok. But most often, it is not and my 13 year old clued me into that revelation. In some situations, you need big progress, not small progress. And the reality is sometimes we fool ourselves into seeing progress when there really is none and it's truly time to move on.

What an amazing burden lifted from me to learn these truths and even more rewarding to learn them from my offspring. I must be doing something right.