Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Its Time

I've been a little off ever since I came home from vacation with some sort of weird cold/allergies that makes me think I can't walk or breathe or think properly. I'm thankful to SC for the bout of sunshine I experienced, as here the weather hasn't gotten the "It's April!" memo and is cloudy with a damp, chilly feel to the air. (As an aside, my friend in NY still had snow on the ground not too long ago so I suppose I can't complain.)

I've always been the type of person who loves to help other people. (I should clarify and say I love to help other people when I feel I might be good at what they are asking me to help with; otherwise, I feel helpless and stuck. And this is completely off topic, but the sidebar ads on websites I frequently check freak me out. I just went to a website that I visit nearly every day, and the bar running across the top was an ad for anthropologie, which I've never seen advertised there before. Incidentally, I was just at an anthropologie store last week, and had the receipt emailed to me rather than take a paper copy (RRR). And now I'm seeing anthropologie ads on websites I visit? Isn't that a weird, kind of Big Brother, creepy thing? Do they know what is emailed to me? Does anthropologie know what websites I visit? I always feel like...somebody's watching me...And one more thing, which I was reminded of by talking about anthropologie in this very long rabbit trail. While I was there, looking at all the fun things that store has to over that are also made in China but no comment right now, several people--moms with teenagers is what I assumed--came into the store and started an immediate and emphatic commentary not only on products but on the store's visual displays, complete with much waving of hands punctuated with exclamations over the use of "normal, everyday items like yarn used in a whole new way". The only way I can describe it is like a museum tour, where the tour guide points out things museum guests may not have noticed. In this particular case, they were verra, verra excited about the aforementioned yarn display and also about how the ceiling heights in the store changed. I also appreciate these things, and tend to notice them, but I thought it was interesting they way they pointed these details out to each other. Almost like they were learning about creating new displays. Maybe there were. Who knows. I'll now move on to the main topic.)

As I said, I like to help other people--but I don't like to ask other people for help. I feel like I'm asking too much, or placing a burden on them that they may not want to accept. I feel like I might give off a "I don't need any help" vibe because I'm overly sensitive to asking other people for help.

I have this deep-seated fear that has remained an insecurity into my adulthood, and it's one that no matter how hard I try, I just can't seem to shake. Ready? Deep breath, because it takes one, along with closed eyes and a please-don't-judge-me pinch to my face to admit this...

I'm afraid of not being liked. I'm afraid of being rejected. I'm afraid of being lonely. And I'm afraid I'm projecting that fear onto my kids, too.

There. Now it's out and I can deal with it.

Sometimes secrets that aren't secrets anymore no longer hold power over the one who held the secret for so long.

A while ago, over lunch and coffee, a friend told me about several times she has been in a bind, and a mutual friend has stepped in to offer assistance. And now when she finds herself in similar situations, our mutual friend will make a friendly phone call to ask if she needs anything. If I could help, I would, but I don't have the resources to do so.

During our conversation, I found myself coming slightly unhinged because I have also been in similar situations, and our mutual friend has never offered her resources to me, and she has never called to see if I need anything. But even I recognized how utterly ridiculous and petty I sounded in my head and pushed those ugly feeling down. I could never admit to my friend that I was jealous over the fact that she had help and I didn't, and besides, who does that anyway? But feelings that get pushed down never stay down forever, and in my head, I was quickly mulling over the facts and assigning assumptions to each one, and in the process labeling myself, too. And the more I thought about it, the more unglued I started to become. I mean, I've known both these friends for years, and in fact have known the mutual friend longer. In the end, I came to the unfair conclusion that I was forgotten and rejected, verifying in my head my initial, deep-rooted fear of not being liked.

Reactions are different for everyone, but normally people fall into two main categories: exploders and stuffers. (unglued, lysa terkeurst)

And when my mind starts screaming at me see, I told you so, I told you you are alone, I realize I am a stuffer who builds barriers to protect myself. At least it feels like protection. But the reality is, barriers reinforce the feelings of loneliness and rejection because they are so effective at doing what they are meant to do: keeping people O-U-T. Rational thinking ends as irrational thoughts and fears surface, typically the same ones I've had for years.

Get a grip, I told myself at the time. This isn't a big deal.

But simply telling myself to get a grip wasn't enough, and I found myself going over all the nice things I'd done over the years for people, fuming over this one, small incident, wondering if anyone else notices me at all. The last thing I wanted to do was pray over this, but I found myself in a familiar, circular thought pattern, unable to get out of the "thought ditch" I was digging in my mind.

Familiar might equal comfortable, but it doesn't always equal healthy.

I've been working so very hard to change my thought patterns over the years, finally recognizing (not until my thirties!) that change is a possibility. But it takes a lot of hard work, breaking habits, changing familiar mindsets, and ultimately for me, going to God with it all, because my unhealthy habits, fears, insecurities and mindsets had become so ingrained, I couldn't change them on my own.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come; 
The old has gone, the new is here.
{2 corinthians 5:17}

Some people are gifted with beautiful words, and they use those words together as a beautiful prayer, but I am not one of those people. Especially when I'm wrestling with an unhealthy thought pattern that just refuses to go away. Sometimes the only words I know to whisper are "help me, Jesus" because frankly, I don't know what else to say.

But I know I need help.

I wish I could tie this up with a pretty bow and say everything has worked out for the best and I am no longer plagued by dark thoughts about people who are supposed to be my friends, but it wouldn't be the truth. I am a passionately self-centered person, and not on purpose, I just always tend to think about myself before I think about others. (This is also something I'm working on, as it doesn't tend to work well when in relationships with others.) But that "thought ditch" I was talking about earlier? Typically, I'm the only one in it, and when your mind centers on the ME in everything, you will typically find yourself dealing with negative side effects like a lack of contentment, negativity and ding, ding, ding, ding relationship struggles. (stronger, angela thomas)

Do not be conformed to this world, 
but be transformed by the renewal of your mind...
for by the grace given to me 
I say to everyone among you 
not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, 
but to think with sober judgement, 
each according to the measure of faith that God as assigned. 
{romans 12:2-3}

The point is this: we have the Holy Spirit living in us. We have been given the power than can not only transform thoughts but that can transform lives.

A LITTLE STRONGER--I have mistakenly believed I must fill my mind with thoughts of myself--my dreams, hurts, improvment, happiness. But too much thinking has left me unhealthy.
It's time to live stronger than this.
{stronger, angela thomas}

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