Motivational Monday Moment – 3/6/2017

I want to talk about grace today. Grace as a noun means favor or good will. I never really thought much about that word until recently. So, my Motivational Monday Moment is about grace and how it is not the same as forgiveness.

Let me tell you how I discovered that they are not the same…

I went home last month to Tennessee to see my father. It was uneventful, which was good. He’s recovering. He’s not doing what he’s supposed to do. His family is helping him out.

I flew in late Saturday night and drove almost two hours to my grandma’s house. I got lost. The outlets in the rental car didn’t work. I had 10% of cell phone battery left. It was trying. I got in and went to sleep.

Sunday morning I went to church with a friend of mine to hear him preach and later that evening I went to check on my dad. We sat and talked for a couple of hours. It was good. He asked me to take him to McDonald’s and get him something to eat.

So, off we went and he started to talk about how his family mixes things up. How they get information confused. His mom (who is deceased) and/or his siblings. It was random, but he mentioned how the first time he brought his girlfriend Arlene to town from Chicago, people had assumed she was white.

I listened to him talk. I said “I remember Arlene.” He replied “You never met Arlene.” I said, “Yep, I did. It was one year that we happened to be in town and my grandma made us come over to visit your mother. Your family. Funny thing is that she didn’t even tell us you were in town. We found out by visiting. I wanted to walk down the street to the local park with some of my friends. I asked you could I go. You told me to ask Arlene. Why? She wasn’t my mother. She was the first woman that I met and you thought that your girlfriend should give me permission? She wasn’t entitled. You were the parent. I felt disrespected. You didn’t provide support for us. Neither did Arlene. Non-financial people shouldn’t have opinions. Especially not girlfriends.”

He just listened. He changed the subject. He doesn’t remember that I met his first girlfriend outside of my mother. Only that he brought her to Tennessee. I, on the other hand remember everything. I have a long memory.

My memory won’t let me forget the pain inflicted by my father. I’ve tried. Other things happened which I will tell you about later. I didn’t understand. I hadn’t felt bad in a LONG time. What was happening to me? I shouldn’t be feeling the pain of longing for a father who wasn’t there.

I came home the following Tuesday and met with my therapist that week. I told her what happened. She asked me “Why do you go and visit him?” I told her that God told me to forgive him. She inquired whether or not God told me to build a bridge with him? I told her that he only told me to forgive him. She told me “You haven’t forgiven him.” I told her “Yes”. She said “No, you’ve given him grace. You’ve not forgiven him. You have too much residual pain left.” She went on to explain that the pain is both normal and understandable considering the years of abandonment, but she needed me to think about what forgiveness looks like.

I sighed.

For the last four years of my life, I thought I gave forgiveness. I gave grace. They are not the same. The weird thing is that I never knew anyone who gave grace. I thought God was the only one to give grace.

I was wrong. We can give grace. I allowed him to occupy a space in my world after almost 30 years of no relationship by thinking I was doing as God instructed…forgiving. But, now I see I was only giving grace.

I was being graceful by allowing him to be a part of my life. I was thinking that I was forgiving him by letting him spend time with me and dealing with the parts of my life that were painful. The parts that were caused by him and others. But, I wasn’t forgiving him. I haven’t forgiven him.

I’m struggling with this uncovered feeling. I’m trying to process what I need to forgive him. It’s hard. It’s a process and ultimately, I need to both obey God and forgive my father. God forgives. God gives grace.

I am not God.

So, my Motivational Monday Moment is spent somewhere in reflection, thought and understanding of grace and forgiveness. I ask the question, “Have you forgiven or have you given grace?” Let’s focus on both this week.

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Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links:  Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mskeeinmd/.

Remembering I’m Enough

I am enough. That was one of the hardest things that I had to tell myself. As someone who is extremely self-confident, I seemed to lose it when I got married. He became bigger than me. Not because he wanted too or even asked me to. It was me. My choice. I thought that’s what you do when you get married. You sacrifice yourself for the greater good of the marriage.

But, I was wrong. Marriage is much more than that. How can one be expected to have a healthy and functioning relationship when you’re jacked up mentally? If you lose a piece of yourself in the process of attaching yourself to someone else, how can you be expected to know that you’re enough?  Truth is…you can’t.

I couldn’t. I didn’t. Because I was broken. Broken people can’t seem to realize that their enough. Life and storms knock you out and you feel as though you are drowning. You can’t swim. Why did this have to happen to you? Why not? This was the question that I truly had to answer. Was I above trials and tribulations? I knew from church and prayer that the road wouldn’t be easy, but dang. I couldn’t drive over those spikes without getting a flat.

Until I realized that at least I have the ability and tools in my car to fix and repair that flat. I didn’t have to drive on that flat tire, damaging the rim. I could pull over and keep repairing the tire or use the spare. You see it right? The Aha Moment…I could do it. My attitude towards my situation and life’s circumstances had to change just like that tire or my soul would be damaged.

I realized that I deserve to be forgiven and I deserve to forgive because I’m enough. Knowing and believing that you are enough in the midst of difficult situations can impact your self-esteem in a major way. You doubt the little things. You act out because you feel like you’re not enough.  But, balance is what I’ve learned. Faith renewed. Spiritual growth. They happen when you stop acting out and expecting everyone to fix or understand the messed up you.

Once you start to grow and walk with the confidence you truly have, it shows. People can see the light in your eyes when you genuinely laugh. They notice your change in hair color or clothes. They notice that effervescent smile plastered all over your face. They want to know what it is it about you. You were broken and messed up last time they saw you. What changed? You know what you tell them?

Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links:  Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mskeeinmd/.

Life of Regrets

It is at the end of a man or woman’s life that they really begin to ponder things. Did I live a good life? Did I enjoy it? Was I good person? Did I leave the world a better place than when I found it?

Or at least I hope that is what we’ll do.

I have been thinking a lot about the life yet lived and the mistakes that we make when faced with the possibility of death. No, I’m not dying. I’ve been sick, but I’m recuperating. That’s why my posts have seemed erratic lately. Please bear with me.

But, I told ya’ll last week that my daddy had a pace maker put in and I was worried about him. His family was calling and asking me about a living will and what do I want to do with the surgery and being his decision maker. I started freaking out. What do you mean? Is he conscious? Can’t he make the decisions on his own? I don’t know about the will. He mentioned it a few times, but I’ve seen or signed nothing. Ugh!

I was overwhelmed and frustrated to say the least. I was told they would call me back and they didn’t. I just called the hospital and spoke to his nurse in ICU. He was conscious. He was able to make the decisions on his healthcare. He wanted the pacemaker.

I got answers. I was happy that the hospital was being very concerned about my dad’s health. They took down my phone number and called me. There was a wonderful nurse who told me she was trying to let the social worker know what my daddy needed when he went home. He needed a nurse. He needed help. He didn’t have a phone.

She asked me about my dad’s military service. My dad said he was a vet. He is. He is a vet. He was dishonorably discharged. The nurse said “He told me he wasn’t dishonorably discharged and he has papers to prove it.” I sighed. It was 1:30 in the morning. I responded in exasperation “My daddy is an alcoholic. He’s had a drinking problem all his life or at least for the last 35 years. Too much drinking and smoking. His brain cells are gone. He can’t produce any paperwork and I’m too tired to argue.”

She was sympathetic as I explained that I am the only one of a possible 9 children still speaking to him. One out of 9. That’s his life. So, I have no reason to lie. He’s broke and sick. He’s one of the forgotten. I just don’t know how to feel.

She understood. She listened as I explained that God had told me to forgive my daddy. That God told me that it in order for me to be blessed I had to let go of all the pain my daddy caused by not being in my life. She said “Me too. I know exactly what you mean.” She said she would help him. She would exhaust her resources.

Apply for Medicare. Do everything she can. Thank God for her.

She didn’t have to go above and beyond. It was appreciated. I wasn’t there. I knew at that moment that I needed to go home to see about him.

I talked to him the next day. He was moved to ICU to his own room. I called and heard his voice. He’s alive. He’s able to make his decisions. I told him the calls I received from his relatives. He said that he knew.

I was exhausted. Emotionally and mentally. It’s hard loving a man that you don’t really know. I’ve spent 11 years of my life with this man and 31 without him. It’s hard trusting him to not come in my life and hurt me again. I’m not his only child. I’m one of many.

My dad said that he wants me to contact his other children. To reach out to them and ask them to talk to him. I won’t. I can’t.

I feel that God gave me the message in order to move me from the pain to the promise. He may not have given my siblings that message. It’s not for me to clean up my daddy’s mess. I’ve said to him that he needs to find a way to clean up his own mess. That you can’t ask me to do what you should have done a long time ago. Be a man to your children.

I know that he’s living a life of regrets right now, but I can’t help him. We are all responsible for the choices we make. Good, bad or indifferent, you have to know that there will come a time when payment is due for your negligence. I wish that his regrets were more of the life not traveled, but I know they are more about the man he wasn’t and the forgotten children.

One Day

One day you will wake up from this cold world where you feel all alone and know that I am here

One day you will listen to those whispers of love and encouragement and have them not fall on deaf ears

One day you will see the beauty that your eyes hide from

One day you will hear the beat of the drum

The drum that speaks life into you

Slow and steady

It beats for you

It beckons you to come forth

It beckons you to not stay in the dark

It beckons you that you are a fighter

Feel the rhythm my sweet princess

Dance

Dance and move enjoying the beat

Move

Let the power within take control

Be encouraged

Be faithful

Morning sits on the horizon

Your breakthrough is coming

Dating Diary: Work?

Relationships require work. I learned this from my first marriage. I had never had a relationship beyond one year prior to my marriage so I didn’t know how to work on it or what that work was supposed to look like. I didn’t get that message in pre-marital counseling.

I tried to work at it. I think he tried to work at it. But, we both got frustrated. Working with no progress made us complacent. We became roommates. Partners. Homies. We were falling apart and didn’t know how to fix it. We tried counseling.

It was expensive. We couldn’t afford that, our bills and raising an infant. So, we just accepted that was supposed to happen. I talked to my married friends about my concerns and frustrations and they said it’s normal. They all go through it.

We didn’t know that it wasn’t normal.

That we were dysfunctional and we needed help to get ourselves together and back on track. I mean I tried. I prayed. I read books to try and get myself together to be a better wife. But, let’s be honest…it takes two people to get married and two people to work at it before both people end up in divorce.

One of the books that I read was Gary Chapman’s The 5 Love Languages. I took the test. I learned that my love language was quality time. Quality time is defined as giving me your undivided attention. This doesn’t mean via phone or text, but time spent together without distractions.

I didn’t have that in my marriage. I was exhausted. I had stopped communicating my needs and wants and just let it go. I stopped fighting. I was tired of fighting. I couldn’t keep fighting.

In the four years since we separated and divorced I learned that healthy relationships don’t require you to fight for them. They require you to work at it. Two healthy people choose to put their relationship first and work at it. Continually. You selflessly choose your partner each and every day. You do the things necessary to maintain a healthy relationship.

This doesn’t mean that every day will be roses. It does mean that you two recognize that in order to keep growing and keep maintaining you have to work at it. Work is a verb that requires action on both parts. I think that’s what I’ve discovered since dating Mr. C.

I discovered that I want a healthy relationship and in order to get it, I have to selflessly choose to work on my relationship with him each and every day. I can’t stop working at it or we will become complacent. I shared this philosophy in the beginning of us dating. I told him that I believed that couples who choose to selflessly love and work on their marriage each day are the ones that last.

It was simple to me. If I wanted a healthy relationship, I had to work at it. I had to choose to selflessly love my partner each day. He had to do the same.

 

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The Third Love

Let me tell you about the types of men I’ve loved. Some good. Some bad. Was it all there fault? Nope. In many cases, I didn’t know who I was so they could never love me the way that I needed to be loved.

I didn’t know me.

I didn’t love me.

I couldn’t love them the way that they deserved to be loved.

Love was a concept to big to put in words and yet I desired it so much. I believed in it. I craved it. I wanted love and I needed to be loved.

Don’t most people?

What happens when you wake up and realize that you keep falling in love with the wrong type of people? What happens if that love abuses you or leaves you so messed up that you can’t fathom the pain of ever giving of yourself so completely? You sigh. You withdraw. You start to believe that you will never know love. True love.

That’s how I felt. I kept falling in love with the same kind of men. Until Mr. C. He was different. I couldn’t explain it. For the first time. I felt safe. I felt wanted. I felt loved. It was easy. It felt natural. It was healthy.

I was in shock. I was surprised. I was scared. I didn’t believe that a love without cursing or yelling, cheating or hitting was possible. We women are taught that no one is perfect and that we must fight for love. That love was hard.

However, that’s not true. I read this great article called  We Only Fall in Love with Three People in Our Lifetime – Each One for a Specific Reason by Kate Rose while perusing Facebook about a month ago. Man, this article was the truth.

This article had a profound effect because it basically summarized my  life story. I wasn’t alone. It basically said that we fall in love with three people in our lifetime:

  • Idealistic love—the one that seems like the fairy tales we read as children.
  • Hard love—the one that teaches us lessons about who we are and how we often want or need to be loved.
  • Third love  – the one we never see coming. The one that usually looks all wrong for us and that destroys any lingering ideals we clung to about what love is supposed to be.

I’ve had 5 idealistic loves. I’m not sure if they knew it. We just existed in this space between fantasy and reality and planned lives we would never have and futures that wouldn’t be. We believed in fairy tales. These loves occurred between high school and college.

I’ve had 2 hard loves. These loves were painful. They were loves that I tried to fit. Loves that I wanted to mold and manipulate into the greatest love ever to be. But, they couldn’t. They weren’t designed to be my forever love. They were designed to teach me about myself. I was hurt. I was broken. They shaped my belief that this can’t be real. This can’t be the love that God has for me.

And then there was three. The third love from the third type of person. The love that just works. That’s the best type of love. I know because I have it. For the first time in my life.

You can too. We just have to get out of our own way and love ourselves enough to heal from love #2 to get to the third love.  We can’t let number #2 have all the power over how our lives turn out. We have to move past the pain,the anger, the resentment, the failure – all of it. Once we do, we allow ourselves to know and appreciate a safe and easy love.