Friday, January 14, 2011

Are You Hidden?

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” ~ Maya Angelou

One of the things that breaks my heart about my past is the fassod my family and I put on - the fake masks of happiness and togetherness that we all put on to make everyone on the outside think everything was okay.  And how damaging that was to my brother and I.  It just prevents you from being helped.  And being believed.

Something I wrestle with is KNOWING there are other kids and families out there who are putting on the same masks.  Kids and parents sitting in MY church!  And they aren't being helped. 

I told my counselor that I have the strongest desire to talk to these kids and tell them to tell someone!  That they don't have to wear the mask and they can feel safe to go to someone and share their story.  His response to me was this...

"If you do have that conversation with the teenagers in your church tell them that the more they share, the less power it will have over them."

A Gestalt moment.

He's right.  Hidden secrets have tremendous power over us.  They make us weaker even though for some reason we feel a sense of strength in keeping them.

Are you sharing your story?  Even anonymously?  My prayer is that the power of your past and even your present will fade each time you are able to share.

Praying for you today.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Humor Anyone?

One of the things I deal with is feeling illegitimate.  What I mean by that is I wonder if I can actually have an opinion that is worthwhile.  If I can participate in conversations, parent my children and appear confident at all without someone looking at me like I'm an alien or like I'm 5 pretending to be 35.  I still treat myself like I'm 15, not like I'm in my 30s.

So I've been working on it.  Self talk is supposed to be one of the ways to do that.

So one day I'm standing in my closet picking out my clothes for the day.  My husband and I have a fairly large closet and we each have a portion.  My husband has to walk through my side to get out. 

I also need to mention that the light is on my side of the closet.

So, I'm standing there, particularly anxious about something for that day and my confidence level in dealing with that situation, saying to myself over and over, "I'm legitimate.  I'm legitimate.  I'm legitimate."  Over and over.

My husband, also in the closet, walks out of the closet, walks right past me and shuts the light out. 


How ironic was that?

I said, "Hey!  I'm still in here!" 

His mind was apparently elsewhere and he just didn't realize.  It's almost stunning the coincidence of that though.  He apologized and we both shared a laugh over the irony of the whole thing.

Can you find any humor in dealing with yourself today?  I hope so because sometimes it just gets too serious.

Here's to working on ourselves and finding joy even in that.

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Poor Car Salesman....

Not really. I think he ended up alright.....

I am learning a lot. I'm being stretched in ways I DO NOT LIKE for my own good. Don't you hate that when things that are for your own good are painful?

I am not assertive. I have a little business and when people forget to pay sales tax I let it go. When they are late in paying me I wrestle with how to tell them, especially if I know them. Assertiveness is just painful to me. I'm too afraid of how much the person is going to hate me after I've been assertive.

Not this past weekend though.

My husband and I had a fairly new car - a Ford Freestyle. I don't recommend it. We had it in the shop for MAJOR things and it only had 50,000 miles on it. It just wasn't worth it anymore. A scary, undependable car is not what I have in my mind for my family.

So after the steering column went out and the transmission started acting up, we decided it was time to move on.

But that meant car shopping.

After a few difficult salesmen, I was finished. I actually called ahead one of the places and asked for their least pushy person. If I got the least pushy person, I feel bad for the person who answered the phone! I told the salesman we only had one hour and we had to leave so could he please have "..." car ready for us to look at.

Denied. "I have to go through the steps my boss makes me go through first."


So we walk in the door to the showroom and he starts showing us the brand new version of what we are looking for. But I don't want the new version.... I let him talk for a few minutes - yes, minutes - and then I say, "but I don't want a new car. I want the used one." His response - "I have go to through these steps first."

I don't think so buddy.

After he finishes his speal, he takes us 20 feet away to where the car we asked to see was. Why couldn't we go there first? He starts another speal, not letting us talk at all and then asks us if we're interested.

What did I tell you when I called? (Can you sense the impatience?)

He walks away. Another, gentler looking salesman approaches us and asks us if we need help and I tell him we have a salesperson but the guy is really pushy. First salesguy hears me because he is about 10 feet away. Oops.

He says, "I heard that!" And I responded, "Good. Please stop."

At this point my husband is horrified and wants to leave.

Later on in our interactions with him I tell him to stop being mean, no we're not asking for something for free, yes we understand you have to heat this building, etc. Not a fun conversation.  Needless to say, we did not buy the car.

Typically I wouldn't have said a single word about any of those things. I would have been super angry and not said a single word.

I'm starting to think an assertiveness checklist might be a good thing to develop. What do you think?

Questions to ask yourself before you're assertive:
  •  Is the person mistreating me in some way?
  • Do I feel confident that what I'm saying is true?
  • Am I letting my anger be in the forefront or do I REALLY mean what I'd like to say?
  • Is this person beyond extra grace?  What I mean by that is, have I already extended grace to them and now I'm just being walked on?
I think that's a good start for me anyway.

But does it fit in biblically?  Does God want us to be assertive?

I think He probably does.  He picked some pretty assertive people to carry out His will.

  • Isaiah, not exactly a wallflower.  He traipsed around naked trying to make his point.
  • Paul didn't mince any words with anyone.  And he didn't cower under his prior mistakes either.
  • Jesus, didn't get trampled on until it was part of His suffering.  He said how He felt until it came time to take on our sin and He took it on to the full extent.

And what about the ones who wanted to be wallflowers?

  • Jonah got eaten by a whale when he didn't go to approach the Ninevites.
  • Moses got the help of a staff/snake when he needed some extra confidence.  He was not meant to be a wallflower either and he certainly didn't stay that way.
  • Jacob was terrified of his brother Esau after the many ways he tricked him.  When he was going to meet him finally, he sent tons of gifts ahead of him.  Esau's take?  "What the heck brother?  Just meet me face to face?"

I think God likes face to face.

Am I anywhere near as godly as any of these men?  Absolutely not.  Out of all of them I relate to Jonah the most.  DO NOT make me do something I'm uncomfortable with!

I do think though that God wants us to reflect Him.  He doesn't want us trampled and taken advantage of - especially by our own volition.  He wants us to reflect Him. 

I think what I'm getting from all of this is that God wants us to be honest.  Not to pretend we aren't hurt or upset and not to give the "smack down" to everyone who rocks out boats in the slightest way.  Just to be honest.

I think a fair assessment was that I was honest with the guy.  I did extend him grace and I was not mean to him.  I said what was honest.  He was being pushy and mean and I wanted it to stop.  And you know what?  He did.

What do you think about assertiveness?