Why Bother to be Loved?

Why Bother to Be Loved?

I grew up watching the Ed Sullivan show on Sunday evenings with my family. The show did not hold my interest as much as the horseplay that took place during commercial breaks. Dad would stretch out on his side down on the living room floor and two of my brothers and I would sit on his hip. Then he’d tell us the story about the little girl who sat on a bench at the beach on a very windy day. As the story goes, the wind became so strong that it knocked the bench over and everyone fell off. A silly little game, yet it left a deep and lasting impression of my father’s love for me. 

A Father’s Love

I knew my father loved me. He kept his lap open for me to climb onto, was always ready to wrap his arms around to snuggle me close, and could be counted on to read bedtime stories. I never felt rejected by him, nor did I ever worry about him ever forgetting about me. Then, when he ended his life, I felt abandoned, left behind, and dejected. More than anything, I was confused and full of doubt. How could someone who loved me leave me? Had he really loved me in the first place?  I couldn’t help but take it so personally. As a child, how else could I interpret it?

My dad’s story is a sad one and the sadness did not end when he ended his life. Instead, my six siblings and I, the survivors left behind, had to finish growing up without him. 

Something that I have had to deal with in the aftermath of my father’s death was allowing myself to be loved again. Trusting in my father’s love was easy and natural until he took himself away from and was no longer around to love me. After that, it was hard to believe in real, authentic, and lasting love. That is, until I personally met someone who could love me perfectly.

When I met up with Jesus, I was taken off guard. I had no idea he made personal visits to individual people. Yet, the night I met him, he was quite real, very personable and convinced me to follow him. My other option at the time was to follow in the footsteps of my dad and end my life as he had done. When I decided to accept Jesus’ invitation and allow him to show me how to live a new life, I really had no idea what I was doing. I only hoped for something better than what I’d tried on my own. I can say that walking with Jesus has been better than good.

Never have I been abandoned, I am always heard and comfort comes at all hours of the day or night. There is nothing that he does not understand about me, and there is nothing he does not know about me yet, he continues to love me. 

I am grateful that I knew that my father loved me. I felt it and knew it was true. It was sad when it ended. But I know and trust the love that Jesus has for me and this love will never end. 

Why bother to be loved? Once we trust in the perfect love of Jesus, everything about us changes.

Why Bother Paying Attention?

Why Bother Paying Attention?

The emotional ramifications of parental suicide are far-reaching, long lasting and life changing. Not only is there the immediate effect of shock, disbelief and confusion, but like tremors  that follow an earthquake, the emotional fallout from suicide reverberates for years after. 

Betrayal

The emotions immediately following on the heels of my father’s suicide included disbelief and heart-wrenching sadness. A few months later, fear and worry became constant companions. If one bad thing could happen, such as my dad’s death, then what other bad thing might happen next? My body and brain stayed on high alert and ran on anxiety long into adulthood.   

Even worse than anxious thoughts, distrust, especially with men, sprouted up. At first, it was nothing I considered to be a flaw. After all, mistrust toward men seemed par for the philosophy of the day. The women’s movement was a strong influence at that time on me, as well as the culture.  But the longer I held onto my independent stance as well as my suspicion toward men, the more I began to consider its original source. 

It took years for the truth to surface, but I was resolute. I followed the trail of my behaviors and traced them back to their original source. My dad’s suicide. I’d believed and trusted in his love when, suddenly and without warning, that love was gone. He left me, on purpose, not by accident. I felt betrayed. 

Not wanting to ever be deceived again, I’d distanced myself from those who might leave me. I was afraid of being fooled again, even by my husband who vowed to love me until death parted us. 

Soon after we married, I entertained the idea of divorce. Wondering if he’d leave me was a constant worry. 

But distrust is never conducive to relationships and I knew change was inevitable. Fortunately, my husband understood my dilemma and patiently reminded me that he was not my dad. Just because one man had left me did not mean that he would too. Learning to trust again began with paying attention to the reason I’d given myself to not trust in the first place. Though I’d felt abandoned once did not mean I’d be abandoned again. 

Why bother paying attention? Damaging behaviors originate from somewhere. Paying attention to their source leads to truth and ultimate freedom.  

Why Bother With a Different POV?

Why Bother With a Different POV?

My point of view shifted yesterday. I am a landlocked individual, meaning, I run, hike and bike along the pathways and trails that follow our massive lake. I experience the beauty of the water from the land. But, all that changed yesterday when my husband and I launched our new pair of kayaks.

    A New View

Though Lake Pend Oreille is in our backyard, so to speak, we’ve never owned any watercraft for ourselves. We’ve played on the water in borrowed canoes, kayaks, and sea-doos. We’ve ridden on pontoons and motor boats and sailed with friends. But at the end of the day, we go home without the water toy.

For years, we’ve kicked around the idea of owning a pair of kayaks. First, my husband considered buying kits and building them in our garage as a winter project. But our garage is not heated and turning it into a warm place for him to work required too many expensive alterations to the building.  

Something else involved in making a purchase such as a pair of kayaks entailed agreeing on a style and a price. I leaned toward the more expensive and sleek models whereas my husband, the practical one of the two of us, considered the logistics. “We can’t transport a 17’ kayak on top of either of our vehicles,” he told me. Yes, someone had to consider how we’d transport these crafts once we actually owned them.

We often shopped online on Sunday afternoons for our elusive kayaks, but agreed we both preferred to see and touch our merchandise before buying it. So, last spring, we ventured out to explore our options in some of our favorite retail stores that cater to the outdoor adventurous. The inventory was so very limited everywhere that we went back home disheartened and without making any purchases.

But, we did not give up on our desire to own a pair of kayaks. Once again, this spring we discussed our budget, along with the size, and the style of kayaks. When I pointed out a pair at a local retail store my husband smiled at me. “I think I suggested these a few years ago and you wanted something different.” 

“Oh well, I am entitled to change my point of view about things aren’t I?” 

And so I did. I changed my point of view in more ways than one. 

We purchased the kayaks and launched them yesterday, the first hot summer day. Because I’d altered my point of view about the kind of kayaks I wanted, my point of view went from landlocked to a water level view. 

Why bother with a different POV? When we change our point of view, everything changes. 

 

Why Bother Thinking About Our Thinking?

Why Bother Thinking About our Thinking?

There are a lot of things I like about being a human being. At the top of my list is the fact that I get to choose how to think about something or someone.  Then, if I realize my thinking is not producing the desired result, such as moving me forward toward accomplishing personal goals or enriching a relationship, then I get to change my thinking, which in turn, changes everything. 

The Prerogative to Change our Minds

Changing our minds about something, changes the direction of our lives. Why we switch an opinion, change our perspective or alter a particular pattern of thinking, varies from person to person. What matters more than how or why we change our minds is not as important as what happens as a result of our mind change. In most cases, a mind change usually moves us out of our “basement” way of thinking and onto a higher and happier level of thought. 

Though it’s possible to go from negative thinking to more negative thinking, it is much more beneficial when we move from a negative habit of thought to a more positive one. For instance, a friend of mine used to demean herself with derogatory comments whenever she made a mistake. To say the least, it was a disheartening habit to witness. Though we often talked about the fruitlessness of such negative self-talk, she never fully realized when or why she was her own worst enemy. 

But it wasn’t necessary for her to understand the “why” before she decided to change her perspective. Simply realizing the futility of her thinking gave her enough reason to change her particular pattern of thought. 

Now, when she finds she is scolding herself for making a simple mistake, she can actually stop. She’s concluded that such thinking is only unproductive. How she finally came to that conclusion is not as important as the fact that she finally came to the conclusion that led her to change a negative opinion about herself into something positive.  

Other examples of a switch up in thinking include witnessing when someone changes from disagreeing with someone else to agreeing with them, having an “it is not possible” attitude to “it’s possible” and from “I can’t” to “I think I might be able to.” In all cases, these turnabouts in thinking lead to something much more beneficial than the old habitual way of thinking.

I like how my husband put it the other day when he decided to get back into his habit of practicing yoga. An old injury had left him with a little less range of motion than what he was normally used to, so he decided to drop his yoga practice. But this decision did not improve his range of motion, it only caused it to stay the same: limited. Finally,  just yesterday he realized that, “If I want something to change then I have to change something.” And off he went to a yoga class.  

Why bother thinking about our thinking? Unless we bother to think about our thinking we will never be able to alter it for anything better.

 

Why Bother Thinking About Our Losses?

Why Bother Thinking About Our Losses?

Sometimes our losses are beneficial, other times, they are not as helpful. When I lose a few extra pounds, I am not anxious to regain them—losing my car keys, on the other hand, propels me into a frantic search.

Some losses lead to personal transformation. Recently, a friend of mine moved her aging parents from the family home. Their large house was filled to capacity with an assortment of furniture, clothes, books and other sundry items, a collection spanning fifty years. Giving and throwing away many of these articles facilitated their move into a smaller, less cluttered and easier to maintain home. Though it was a tough challenge for my friend to help her parents sort through their many treasures, my friend then decided to clean out her own closets. She told me she does want her children to be burdened with the same chore she just completed for her parents. Hers was a happy ending to loss and transition. 

But sometimes we are shaken by losses which are completely out of our hands, the ones we wish we had the power to vanquis, if only we could.  

Beyond Our Control

Loss of a job, our health, a marriage, or a loved one are some of the larger circumstances which can cause strong distress in our lives. Major dilemmas produce much more frustration and stress than a set of misplaced car keys. Confronted by sudden and unforeseen challenges, it is easy for some of us to dissolve into puddles of helplessness, desperation or depression. Other personalities may react with strong anger and a drive for vengeance. Either reaction only exacerbates the problem. Instead of surrendering to our circumstances and becoming victims, there are healthy and helpful ways to live through seasons of a major loss. 

With stressful circumstances, especially the ones which side-swipe us and send us reeling, our thoughts can be our own worst enemies. The messages — that we are doomed, there is nothing we can do, we are ruined, the circumstances are unfair— are powerful, but not always true. Sorting through our thoughts and discarding the falsehoods is a good way to begin instigating steps toward thinking on the things which are true. Yes, I’ve suffered a great loss, but am I destined for failure? We cannot control every event in life, but we can govern what we tell ourselves about the event. 

Though we cannot always predict what loss we might experience in our lifetime, or even prepare for them ahead of time, the healthier our daily life habits, the better we’ll be able to stay afloat when those major, unplanned transitions occur. Strong friendships, an active faith, a well rounded diet, and routine exercise builds our immunity against falling prey to catastrophic events. 

Why bother thinking about our losses? It is worth it to think about how seasons of loss will come, but they do not remain indefinitely. 

Why Bother Thinking About Prayer?

Why Bother Thinking About Prayer?

I grew up in a Catholic family and attended church every Sunday in a  cold cavernous building. Every little noise echoed off the tiled floor and bounced back from the tall arched ceiling.  The hardwood benches squeaked under each motion a person made and though I knew being quiet was the right thing to do, it was impossible. Every move I made reverberated. Just breathing made me feel like a “bad girl.” 

I tried hard to mimic my dad, who knelt in silent and unmoving reverence praying for long periods of time after communion. But kneeling, like the “stare down” competitions I’d have with my little brother, never lasted very long. Focused stillness was not in my chemistry. 

But church was not the only place where my family prayed. Before dinner, we’d fold our hands, and take a solemn posture with bowed heads and in unison we’d say grace, 

“Bless us, Oh Lord,

and these thy gifts which

we are about to receive from thy bounty,

through Christ, Our Lord. Amen.”

With the “Amen” came the cacophony; “Please pass the potatoes.” “Can I have more bread?” “Mom, Mark just spilled his milk.”

During lent, we said a loop or two of the rosary every night before going to bed. Mom or Dad set up a shrine of Mary on the stair landing and we knelt before her while repeating “Hail Mary’s” in unity. The droning voices only made me sleepy and I wondered if Mary even cared about our family’s devotion to her. 

As a kid, I did not know how my Dad suffered from depression or alcoholism, but I knew that when I made him a birthday card listing the number of prayers I’d said for him, fictitious as the numbers might be, he’d smile. But when he ended his life just before I turned fourteen, I surmised my prayers had fallen on deaf ears.

After that, I stopped praying. I’d witnessed Dad’s commitment to supplication, but it hadn’t “delivered” him from any evil, something I thought it was supposed to do. In my childlike mind, I’d equated my prayers to something similar to a one arm bandit slot machine; you say your prayers, send them off to God and then with any luck, you hit the jackpot and win the answers you’d hoped for. 

 I’ve moved beyond the one arm bandit slot machine idea and have instead experienced prayer differently. Similar to understanding how God can be three in one, prayer is beyond my limited thinking. And yet, I am drawn to commune with Someone I’ve never seen, cannot fully understand and yet believe is present and somehow hears. Prayer does not always or necessarily change my circumstances as much as it changes my view about my circumstances. I like how Madeleine L’Engle put it, “…the mind and the heart, the intellect and the intuition, the conscious and the subconscious mind stop fighting each other and collaborate.” 

Why bother thinking about prayer? It is worth our time to consider how we can view our present events from a different perspective than our current point of view and then consider how we might begin to change.

Why Bother to be Grateful for Change?

 Why Bother to be Grateful for Change?

I don’t mind when I get to choose to shuffle things around in my life, but when deviations from the norm happen to me, then I tend to see them as an inconvenience, an annoyance and a nuisance. 

 Last summer, my hairstylist retired. I am not a high maintenance gal, I don’t color my hair, perm it, or even require a shampoo. I just need my dead ends cut off every so often. My barber, whom I’d grown accustomed to, knew just how to trim my locks, fluff them up and send me out the door feeling pretty once again. I don’t blame her for ending her relationship with me, but I didn’t quite know what to do without her.

Feeling Pretty

 At first, I tried cutting my own hair as well as handing the scissors over to my husband so he could try. But of course, the look was not the same. Neither of us knew how to fluff my locks to make me look and feel pretty once again.

Then, I realized that putting off finding a new stylist was making me frumpy on the outside and on the inside. At last, I asked a trusted friend for a recommendation. Without hesitation she said, “I’ll call my beautician and ask if you can come with me on my next appointment.” 

Fortunately, the beautician agreed to adopt me as a new client and I followed my friend to her shop one afternoon. Without her guiding the way, I’d never found my way. The shop was located up a snowy county road, off the pavement, and off the grid.

Driving behind my companion in her jeep, I followed her as she drove down the highway then turned off onto a county road. From the county road, I followed her onto a one lane road that resembled a trail more than a road. The ruts in the trail were ice covered and filled with water, raising my adrenaline level.  The route took us around bends and tight curves and at first, I wondered how I’d find my way. But at each bend in the road, my friend waited for me.  In spite of the treachery of the drive, up and down dips and around tight curves, the ride reminded me a little of a roller coaster and I gave into grinning. 

Finally, pulling into a flat dirt driveway in front of the hairdresser’s shop, I got out of my car and walked toward my friend. 

“I’ve never seen the road quite that bad,” she said while laughing.

“I’m just glad you waited for me after each curve.”

“Yeah well, I wasn’t about to lose sight of you in my rearview mirror.”

Inside the clean and warm shop, the new stylist trimmed off my accumulated dead ends, fluffed my hair and made me look and feel pretty once again. 

“Text me if you have any trouble,” my comrade called out as I left her in the salon chair. I was confident she meant what she said and turned my car toward home.  

Although I’d rather my stylist had not retired leaving me to find a new one, deviations from the norm can’t be helped. But trustworthy friends who are willing to give you a recommendation and who don’t leave you to find your own way on an icy trail, make a difference. 

Why bother to be grateful for change? It is worth it when you have someone who turns those inconveniences, annoyances and problems into a little adventure.  

Why Bother Accepting Unsolicited Advice?

Why Bother Accepting Unsolicited Advice?

Some time ago, I had the idea to train for a triathlon. The event called to my sense of competitiveness, and my need for a good challenge. The race would include swimming one third of a mile in a lake, biking twelve miles and running three. I signed up, trained and competed. I liked it enough to do another triathlon again the following year, but this time for longer distances; one mile swim, twenty-four mile bike ride and a five mile run. I trained and competed four more times in local triathlons. They gave me a good challenge and satisfied my need to compete. 

   Stepping Into Yoga

“Yoga helps keep your ligaments supple,” I’d overheard another triathlete say to their friend after an event. So, on a whim, and while training for the next triathlon, I stepped into my first yoga class. I was surprised that it was harder than swimming, riding a bike or running. 

First of all, yoga wasn’t about going as fast as you could to cross a finish line. There was  no one to compete with because yoga is not a competitive sport. Secondly, swimming, riding a bike and running did not require me to think too much; I simply switched into cruise control and ran, pedaled my bike or pulled my body through water. Yoga, on the other hand, required me to pay closer attention.

 “Tuck your left leg under your right, and wrap your left elbow around your right standing knee.” Huh?  “Don’t forget to breathe and notice how your back feels in this twist.” 

Thinking about how my body felt while in a particular pose was completely foreign for me as was breathing full belly breaths. When racing, one just pushes through whatever one feels; pain or weariness, in order to complete the course. 

Friendly Yogis

But, I kept showing up for yoga class, drawn to how it slowed me down and made me notice more. And though I wobbled in my one-legged balance poses while others moved with grace and ease into forearm stands, the instructor cheered us on;  “Make it your pose. Every body is different.” 

Then after class one day, a friendly fellow yogi lady in her seventies, approached me with some unsolicited advice that changed my life. 

“Yoga fits you,” she said with a smile.  I nodded my agreement. It did fit, better than I thought.

“I’m training to become an instructor and I think you should too.” 

She was in her seventies, and she was becoming a yoga instructor? And she thought I could too? I smiled as I noticed how her unsolicited advice ring true for me. It fit my need for a good challenge minus the competitiveness.  

So, I found a program, traveling to a little town in Canada on the weekends and after 200 hours of bookwork and classwork, I crossed the finish line, but with a deep, slow breath.  

Now it is my turn to give instructions, “Tuck your left leg under your right, and wrap your left elbow around your right standing knee,” while reminding others, “Don’t forget to breathe, and notice how your twist makes you feel.”  

Why bother accepting unsolicited advice? You just never know how it could just change your life for the rest of your life and that just might be worth it.