Tag Archives: encouragement

Isolation is the Opposite of Community

My mom always says, “There is safety in numbers”. This principle is seen time and again  in nature – schools of fish, herds of zebras, flocks of birds, forests of trees, fields of sunflowers, colonies of ants. Individuals are often weak and vulnerable. The strength of the community gives strength to the individual.

I have several coworkers with whom I pray and share my daily life. There have been times recently that life has been rather challenging. We can turn to one another to share the burden of what we are going through. Galatians 6:2 says, “Share one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.” What is ‘the law of Christ’? To love one another as you love yourself and to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength. By bearing one another’s burdens, we love one another as Christ loved us.

One does not have to believe in God to be part of a community. I am a woman of faith, so my community is one of faith as well. Cycle Dude belongs to a group of ‘free thinkers’ who get together weekly. There have been times that I have seen “bear one another’s burdens” in action in this group as well. Caring for one another and bearing one another’s burdens is a human thing, not just a Christian thing.

It is easy to want to isolate ourselves when we experience difficult times. We may feel like we are the only one going through this and that no one else would understand. We may feel that our situation is such that no one would want to understand or want to walk with us through the trial. That is a lie. We experience healing and support in community. We are weak and vulnerable when we decide to isolate ourselves from others. Dear one, seek out friends to walk with you through your difficult time. Do not walk alone – let others share your burden. Stay tuned. . . .

 

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Where Are Your Eyes?

I was the Queen of the Pity Party when I was a child. I was always upset that my older sister (by 10 months) got to do things before me. I was upset when life didn’t go my way and I had a strong tendency to wallow in self-pity. My mom would often tell me, “Get your eyes off yourself and go do something for someone else!” Why are moms always so wise?

I remembered that advice when I first got divorced and tended to muck around in the mud puddle of self-pity. I looked for ways to “do something for someone else”. I eventually volunteered with a local refugee resettlement service in teaching those refugees English.

Where are your eyes? Are they on yourself? Are you stuck in the muck of the mud puddle of self-pity? Get your eyes off yourself!

1. Volunteer: There are so many opportunities in one’s community to volunteer – at the local humane society, at the Boys and Girls Club, at a local after school program, etc. Go to https://www.volunteermatch.org to see what’s going on in your community and how you can get involved.

2. Join a local philanthropic organization: There are plenty of philanthropic organizations in your community – Lions Club, Rotary, etc. Google those in your area. Volunteer your time and talents for a cause you believe in.

3. Give: Being newly divorced will most likely leave you with fewer financial resources. That’s okay. Do you sew? Can you teach others a new skill (music, etc.)? Use your talents to help others. There are many people in your community who can benefit from your talents and experience.

It’s okay to feel sorry for yourself. After all, divorce is a painful situation to have to endure. However, it is not okay to stay in that place of self-pity! Stand up, dust yourself off and move on! Getting your eyes off yourself and giving to others is one step in your healing journey. One step at a time! Stay tuned. . .

Independence Day

I remember when I was first divorced. Even though I knew for several years that my marriage was over, it was still difficult to sort through the emotions, the finances, and all the stuff from my marriage. It wasn’t until I moved into an apartment almost two years after the divorce that I finally felt independent – totally separated from my marriage and the pain it represented.

I learned a great deal by truly being on my own and being financially, physically and mentally responsible for just me (and my pups, of course!). I enjoyed being on my own. It never got very lonely because I had Jack and Shirley. Cycle Dude would come for dinner once a week and I’d drive out to his place, too. I remember sitting in my napping chair with the canine children and either watching a movie, listening to the rain or taking a nice nap. Those things brought me great joy.

I moved in with Cycle Dude almost two years ago, but I have still retained my independence. However, this independence is a bit different. Cycle Dude and I are different people, yet we enjoy those differences and love each other. We give each other space, but encourage one another in our different pursuits. He bikes, I quilt. He reads, I binge-watch. I am there to cheer him on when he does bike marathons. He gives his approval to my quilt designs. We both love working with our hands – he builds stuff, I sew stuff.

My divorce represented my independence from a painful relationship. That is a day I will never forget. The day I moved in with Cycle Dude represented my independence in a loving relationship. That is a day I will never forget, either. Cycle Dude is kind, loving and respects me for who I am and I am grateful that he encourages my independence and doesn’t stifle it. I do the same for him.

When was your independence day? Celebrate the unique person you are and encourage that uniqueness in others. Stay tuned. . . .

Appreciation

After my divorce, I was scared, anxious and distrustful. I wanted to be alone, but then I didn’t want to be alone. I was angry, bitter and reckless- almost to the point of self destruction. I am thankful for my two steadfast friends who kept me grounded during that time.

This morning, I was eating my breakfast out on the front porch, enjoying the morning – listening to the birds sing, smelling the forest after the rain, and watching critters come and go. Cycle Dude recently hung a hummingbird feeder for me. For a long time, no one visited the feeder. However, this morning, I heard a beautiful male hummingbird buzz up to the feeder. I watched in amazement as he darted around the feeder and landed to enjoy some of the nectar. He came back several times.

As I watched him, I thought of a word – appreciation. It seems to me that I have a greater appreciation of life after the divorce. I enjoy spending time with my children. I like cuddling with my dogs. I enjoy being out in nature. I love spending time with Cycle Dude. The new beginning of the divorce has given me the opportunity to start over in more ways than one.

I know that it is difficult to appreciate much after one has been through a traumatic event like a divorce. Yet, there is so much to appreciate and to be thankful for. When you wake up tomorrow morning, look out your window. Is the sun rising? Or is it raining? Appreciate either one. What will you have for breakfast? Savor the taste of coffee, appreciate the lingering smell of bacon and eggs, meditate on the sweetness of the pancakes and syrup on your tongue.

Life is tough, but there is a great deal to appreciate. Stop, take a deep breath, and take in all that surrounds you. Life is an adventure. Live it!! Stay tuned. . .

(I took the accompanying photo in Cycle Dude’s yard. He has a tree beside the driveway that looks like it could be a hobbit house. These mushrooms were growing inside the little ‘doorway’.)

 

 

Another Season

My youngest niece will graduate from high school tomorrow. She is the last of my siblings’ children to graduate from high school. Her graduation represents the end of an era – no more nieces or nephews in K-12 school. Earlier this month, my youngest sister’s oldest son graduated from college. My little sister doesn’t look old enough to have a son that age!

Both my niece and my nephew are moving on to another season in their lives. My niece will go to college clear across the country on a diving scholarship and my nephew will move on to get a graduate degree. I am excited for the adventures that are ahead for these two young people. I can’t wait to go watch my niece dive and hear about my nephews studies.

Getting divorced and walking forward as just me was another season in my life. It was scary and I was anxious. I had a great support system to help me along the way and I had my faith ion God. Each new phase of our lives is another season. How do we handle those seasons? Do we wither and fall or do we weather and flourish? Do we succumb or do we succeed?

This may be a time-worn cliché, but I think it’s worth repeating. The mighty oak tree grows from a single small acorn. The tiny seedling grows stronger with each passing year. Soon, it is home to birds and other animals. Oak is a tough wood that has been used for centuries to make homes, furniture, and tools. As we enter new seasons in our lives, we need to look to the oak tree as an example and stand strong. Stay tuned. . . .

It’s Going to be Okay

Several years ago, I came across a “Survivors Guide for PMS”. I clipped the piece from the paper and put it up on my refrigerator. Some of the tips were things like, “Don’t make any big decisions when you’re PMSing, get plenty of sleep, don’t tackle all the household chores at once”, etc. The one that really caught my attention was for the guys, “Hold her close and tell her everything is going to be okay.”

We all need to be reassured sometimes. When we have that horrible day, when we made that really stupid mistake, when we said the absolute wrong thing at the absolute wrong time, when did something really dumb that we laughed about in others – yup, been there done it all!

A couple of weeks ago I had my review at work –  and the day before was the anniversary of my dad’s death. I cried all the way home that day. When I got home I just went over to Cycle Dude and cried in his arms. He wrapped his arms around me and said, “It will be okay.” Of course, he was right. The next day I was feeling better. But at that moment, his arms and those words were just what I needed.

Do you need to be reassured? Do you need to know that it’s going to be ok? Let me give you a cyber hug and tell you, yes, it really is going to be okay. Your life may not be perfect, but you’ll be okay. Give yourself a hug! Stay tuned. . . .

 

Enough

One of my coworkers shared with me this morning that a family member has cancer and the chemotherapy the doctors are using isn’t working. The doctors want to try another chemotherapy that is three times stronger, but has worse side affects. As my coworker shared this, I thought, “When is it time to say ‘Enough’? We’ve tried everything and it’s okay to let go.”

When my dad was sick with cancer, my mom tried several different things to give him more time. She even traveled halfway across the country to get him into a clinical trial at a famous cancer center. It turns out that my dad didn’t have the genetic markers the doctors were looking for and was ineligible for the clinical trial.

When we go through a rough time in our lives – health issues, a divorce, trauma – when is it time to say, “Enough”? Ex remarried and moved clear across the country – while still owing me over $21K from unpaid alimony. When he was still local, I tried several times to take him back to court in order to collect the money. He ignored my lawyer, his lawyer and the judge. I did not have the money to pursue the matter further, so I had to say, “Enough”.

2 Corinthians 12:9, “And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.'” St. Paul is talking about his ‘thorn in the flesh’ (whatever this weakness is) and his unanswered prayer to have this weakness removed. Christ tells him that He is enough to overcome the temporal weakness.

Christ Tomlin, a Christian singer and songwriter, has written a song called, “Enough”.  The first line of the chorus is, “All of you is more than enough for all of me/ For every thirst and every need.” Christ assures us that He is indeed enough for us – His grace, His strength, His provision, His love. When we are in the midst of terminal cancer, He is enough. When a spouse abandons us or thumbs his nose at the courts, He is enough. When we are down to our last dollar, He is enough. When we say, “enough”, He is there – with unconditional love, with everlasting grace, with boundless mercy.

When in our weakness, we say, “enough”, He is our strength. Stay tuned. . . .