Friday, July 24, 2015

a growing of us

ou're only four days old now and I still can hardly believe you're here.

Sometimes it feels like I'm floating and it's not because I am just a tad bit back logged on sleep. Is this truly not a dream?

The joy I feel is just so unbelievable.
The peace I feel is just so remarkable.

I carried a hope to be a Momma to another and you've been a long wait for me.

Watching you nuzzle and guzzle what God made my body provide for you, I am reminded of all those times I thought I was broken.

The doctor says you're just a few ounces away from your birth weight, gaining and growing quickly. I smile and then I tear up, knowing you won't be this tiny with squished up legs for much longer.

I watched your daddy take over and undress you at the doctor's office today, and then change your diaper one and then two times. He is so patient, concerned more about being gentle with you than rushing in response to a waiting nurse. I think, if only I could be half as good at changing diapers! Then I remember . . . 

Comparing isn't the way to live our own unique lives.

It's the changes that I notice most in these days since laboring and birthing you that astound me -- in me and in all of us.

With each contraction I experienced during my labor with you, I felt such a calm and profound peace as I focused on letting go and surrendering to the process. As I pushed you out and into the world, my loud, gutteral, uninhibited screams were more than just a response to the physical pain.

I screamed for the wrestle of surrender, for the receiving of grace, for the journey of hope, for the love being birthed in me.

Since that day I looked at you astounded that you really are here, I continue to feel immense joy and peace. I look at you and know that it's not about being worthy or deserved, it's simply about the plan God wants to accomplish.

I can truly rest from trying to be someone, I can just live, as I am. 

I don't have to do every thing right, I really am good enough. 

Your brother has been opened up to love. His heart is private and how he's been touched by your life already is in deeper ways than we could ever fully know. From the moment he learned of your budding life, to the moments now when he looks at you, something profound has been happening in him.

Your daddy and I are true partners now, not competitors or trying to prove anything to each other. We appreciate each other and love each other no matter our irritations or annoyances. Letting us be partners and friends on this journey is no small thing for me, let me tell you.

It could be the nearly 15-years of marriage and 11-years of parenting together that has taught your daddy and me to work together in coordination and cooperation, like sinews, yet I know it's more than that because we could be 30-years in and not have what we have today. 

God has given us courage to face the days with perseverance and to choose commitment over comfort.

This is a special time and I will not rush it away. I have already been out of work for over a month as we awaited your birth. Under the surface, there was a deep birthing of me during that time. I will be home for several more months and I am determined to not pressure myself or obligate myself to anything beyond our growing together.

I will nap when I need to, surrendering the compulsion to singlehandedly tend to you.

I will let your daddy in, and all the others who want to know and love you.

I will resume running because it is nourishment to my wellness, not to hurry away the remnants of my pregnancy with you.

This time is different. 

I am becoming the me I was designed to be; I am content and grateful for my life, as it is. I am at peace with all the parts of my story I had once wished were different. 

I'd say we're both quite blessed.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Hope unfurled

Through a long and painful journey, I learned that if I wanted a life of rest I would need to be patient. Trouble was, patience wasn't my thing.

For so long, if I wanted something I would go get it.

Even my groom told me once I'm a "Go-Getter". I took pride in that. And part of me still does.

If I saw a problem, I would niggle my way to a solution, or at least do something to make it work even if it wasn't the right way.

Answers to my questions weren't solid in my mind. I'd niggle until I was a little more satisfied, as though there is always a compromise to be made.

Rules were always negotiable to me; guidelines for the general population. I always assumed once people told their own story, there was wiggle room for adjustments.

Being patient seemed like a waste of time to me.

     How can I sit still and wait when there might be something I could do? 

It seemed utterly ridiculous for me to just wait and see

     If there was a house I liked, I'd jump on it for fear it might pass us up.
     If there was a job description I found interesting, I'd apply for it.
     If there was a dream I held, I'd pursue it.

Yet, tucked underneath the surface of my sometimes admirable "Go-Getter" personality was a fear-based way to my approach of life.

All my trying hard to get what I wanted, or what I thought was right, was really because I feared life would pass me up . . . that maybe I wasn't good enough. And so over and over again I tried to be.

I didn't really consider God allows certain experiences to occur for purposes we'll never understand. I didn't grasp Him wanting the "best" for His children and consider myself as one of them.

When I realized just how anxious I was living and how I'd constructed a tight-gripped life, I was at the bottom of myself -- suffocated in feelings of exhaustion from trying all I could muster to make things happen and discovering I simply couldn't.

I asked my groom and a few close friends how else to live, because I knew no other way but the try-hard way and finally had discovered that really is no kind of life.

Finally, I decided to test God.
     If He really is real, then I could stop trying so hard. 

If He really is real, then I could sit back and sip a cuppa, even in the mist and the fog, and even in the whirl and twirl of the storm. I ventured to believe He would hold me, and even if something bad-seeming happened, He would make beauty out of it.

This consideration overwhelmed me and gave me courage to see aspects of my story in different ways. So I choose to stay on my proverbial porch and loosed my ideas and plans for how life should be.

     I let Him do what He wanted to do and I chose to trust Him.

I surveyed my life as it was and determined that no matter what happens, I could trust Him. After all the choices I'd made and all the awfulness I'd put people through, I was still treasured and beloved.

For years I held a deep seeded belief in my heart for two dreams.

     I hoped we would have another child.
     I hoped my father and I would have peace.

On the baby I hoped for, it felt ridiculous in every way when month after month of begging and cajoling evolved into years -- nearly a decade worth.

On the relationship I hoped for, that too felt ridiculous in every way when month after month of no contact evolved into years of tense, awkward, distant, and tangled communication -- much more than a decade worth.

I ached for these dreams because I believed it was God's will. Yet, mostly, I wanted to see it all come true so then I could know for certain He really is real.

I imagined all sorts of things, including a script which wasn't mine to write. I nearly convinced myself these dreams weren't going to happen and hoping for them was a waste of time.

Still, deep inside my heart stirred the words: Chase. Hope. 

     It seemed so silly. So foolish.
          After all this time? Still? Why? What's the point? 

The journey was long and finally I surrendered to the possibility that I could be wrong. I was exhausted from trying to make these dreams happen and even from anxiously anticipating that they might come true. I considered that maybe things wouldn't turn out the way I imagined or the way I thought it should be and it was then that I realized He is real. He showed me there is great purpose, even for pain.  

I could have made the choice to trust Him and still come up empty handed so to speak. Even that wouldn't have been true, though, because the true Rest I experienced in surrendering my life and patience to Him was so much more than any dream could ever fulfill.

It wasn't because I chose patience and loosed the dreams that they became true. 
     It was because of God's plan, period. 

There's so much more I could say about all of this. So much more I want the world to know and understand, mostly about God than about my story.

In the process of loosing these dreams and choosing to trust Him, God taught me a new definition of strong:
     To bravely choose to trust Him for Now, as it is
          . . . even though we hope for something more.

God taught me to Chase Hope -- as risky as it is. 

He taught me to pursue it with reckless abandonment of fear that I might be wrong, that I'm not good enough, or that it just might never come to be. He helped me realize I will never be "good enough" to get everything I want to be just right or just how I would prefer it to be. 

My story involved a lot of waiting and wondering and wrestling. I learned the important of patience and most of all, that I can trust God no matter what. He helped me understand that He loves me, that I am good enough, and I can rest. These aren't just cute sayings, they are truth. 

Ultimately, I didn't even need the dreams anymore. 
     Yet, after all the sojourning, my hope has been unfurled. 

The peace I hoped for between my father and me has come. Shame and fear no longer have a grip on our relationship. We have been freed to accept each other as we are. Love between us has been birthed. Truly I tell you, this is no small thing. 

Within days from now (or perhaps even hours) our long-awaited and much hoped for child is expected to be born.  

This story is not about the baby or a righted-relationship, or even about being patient or letting go of all the trying. It's about what God did in the process and the truth that He is so very real. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

a birthing of a God-sized dream

Stories connect to other stories and suddenly there's an afghan-length of thread to sort through with the beginning knit so tightly with all the others that it's unrecognizable. Such is the way with how to navigate where the journey began for me to discover the simplicity, breadth and depth of love.

For a long time I tried to be a fixer -- of situations, of circumstances, of hearts, of people. I lived a lot of my first 35 years as an anxious person who tried to control every single thing, including people.

The truth is, no matter how hard I try there's quite possibly someone I won't please, or something that I've overlooked, or a better way. Still, I expended an inordinate amount of energy on a highly unlikely outcome of perfection; it was a bit like insanity.

Eventually I realized how completely exhausting it is to constantly be on the lookout for brokenness. I sat there with all that wasn't whole and considered what it might mean to simply and fully loose all that I grasped with my hands.

Like a bird set free, my unfurled fingers gave permission for dreams and wants and visions to fly away . . . for me and even for others. 

This unfurling made space for new things to find their way in my hand and new people to find their way into my heart; things and people I hadn't anticipated or even considered.

In the loosing, I went through a period of grief in which my tendencies were shaken. Muscles were learning a new way of being, no longer constantly constricted. I learned to be patient with myself as I navigated this new way of living. Still, I found myself afraid of the openness that became of the new-found space in my hand and was tempted to grip those fingers tight again. The joy I felt was almost too much to bear.

The restful state I was living in was almost dream-like and I feared waking up from a slumber that resembled a fantasy-like world because, surely, I thought, the bottom would eventually fall out. I was afraid of living happy-clappy and not being prepared enough for the hard times, so I tried to brace myself and quickly realized that it was the reverting back to a constricted way of living.

Slowly, I discovered that there are people surrounding me who actually love me as I am; I don't have to do anything or be anyone differently.

There are people who see something in my brokenness that is more beautiful than I'll ever see. 

People who think that I am perfectly imperfect. People who accept me and adore me. Period.

I had slammed the windows shut and bolted the door tight so many of those people would stop looking at me and talking to me and thinking of me. Because I imagined I was a nuisance and a pest, a hypocrite who wanted to change and who couldn't. And then one day I thought about how lonely it feels to always be by myself, running from here to there and making it a sport. So, I chose to open the windows and let in the cool breeze. I opened the door and let in all the people. It was one of those moments when I decided to test God and see if I really would be okay.

And it felt like nakedness, I tell you.

Letting people in made me want to scream: Hand-me-a-bathrobe-please! Because it's scary to be standing there all red in the face and raw from the tight-grip life. It's vulnerable and incredibly uncomfortable. Yet, those people knew all of that about me before I did. And they stayed. I didn't need to send out invitations to welcome people back in, they were just there -- smiling and cheering for me the whole time.

I used to not want to be seen anywhere I went. 

I'd wear a baseball cap and flit my eyes around people to the "others" I presumed were more important. I avoided fitness centers and churches and coffee shops and parades. I wanted to be among but to actually be incognito. Secretly, I wanted to be seen and known, and deep inside I begrudged the people who just didn't try hard enough to see through my tough-girl image. I had created a story in which I made myself the victim and everyone else the villain.

I realized a lot as I considered all the people who remained in my life even though I tried to hide. Though I cannot control the future, I can choose how I react to today. I can hold my hand open and my fingers loose for whatever might find a new perch with me, or let what needs to fly away simply go, all the while living in a state of rest. I can trust God with me, as I am, and with my life, as it is. I learned that love looks at a person with empathy and says, "I get you more than you realize" and "I've been there, too".

Love allows us to hope even when we fear.

Love bolsters us in the midst of fear in a way that doesn't hide the truth of potential reality
     . . . and love reminds us that it is safe to celebrate joy, as it is.

Love knows that we're all humans starving for grace.
Love knows that no one is better than another.
Love knows that we all have something about us that makes us needy and needed.

I started letting my face show and my voice be heard, and you know what? I didn't die. My worst fears didn't come true.

I was most surprised at the head nods and me-too's that I heard, affirming that I belong and I matter

As it turns out, that feeling of nakedness is actually quite freeing (though I promise you that I won't be making it habit to streak bare-butted across my neighborhood.)

Nowadays I like the girl I see in the mirror; I love her, in fact. I accept her and treasure her, as. she. is.

And nowadays, though I honestly still struggle with grasping for control and find that my muscles twitch in a restless-like way as they continue to learn how to rest and simply let things (and especially people) be, as they are, I am passionate about encouraging others to loose their tightly gripped fists and to simply accept their lives, as. it. is.

When we decide not to fix the brokenness and simply be, we reflect that we trust that the One who created us designed us with deliberate intention.

And when we embrace ourselves as we are, our lives reflect a living worship; the real kind that says, "I receive your love. You are enough for me."

Might we embrace our stories as they are.
Might we seek to know God and find peace.
Might we redefine strong and bravely live naked, trusting Him -- as we are.

: : : 

I said "Yes" to a crazy vision that didn't make any sense to me.

Slowly, passion and joy for this God-sized dream unfurled.

Birthed today, this here is a collection of hearts who have chosen to embrace life, as it is --
     . . . this is C'est La Vie: The Magazine:

Thursday, June 25, 2015

a trust thing

When you chase so hard after something you are certain is part of your story --

. . . and you find that it's not what you wanted, necessarily,
          it's just what you believed would be true . . .

. . . and all those years of worrying that you might possibly be wrong,
          that there's no guarantee your dreams will ever come to be . . .

. . . and something monumental actually does happen . . .

. . . and it happens in you . . .

Such was the case with me.

: : : 

I wanted to believe.
I wanted to know God is real.
I wanted to know in my own knock-my-socks-off way.

I thought I wasn't good enough, that perhaps He was annoyed and irritated with me like I was with myself, and like I imagined so many other people were with me.
All my fears, all the anxiety I carried around with me . . . it all became asked of me as possibilities to consider.

     What if my groom dies while we're still in the midst of raising him?
     What if our son dies?
     What if we die and leave him alone?
     What if I lose my job?
     What if I get sick and die?
     What if this dream never comes true?
     What if I never have the close relationships I longed for all those years?

To face fear is the only way to move through it. 

To avoid it or be quiet about it, only allows it to stick around longer and take up residence, keeping me frozen.

Do I trust Him? That is actually the real question to all my anxiety.

I always made every anxiety about Me.

I tried to ensure certain possibilities by eating a certain way, or working out a certain way, or learning all I can to fix all the things.

What if it isn't really about me?

What if someone in the crossfires of my story actually needs to be there for God to do some miraculous work in their lives?

What if the challenges my groom and I face with our son are really the way God will draw Boy-Man to His heart?

What if my imperfections are a way for someone else -- possibly someone who isn't even within my close knit circle -- to see the Hand and Face of God?

Do I trust Him with life, as it is?

: : : 

I think about the times I've lived reckless, the times I threw my hands up and pitched a little fit, pretending I didn't care. I contrast those choices with how my life is at this very moment and I am utterly amazed, incredibly humbled, and in slack-jawed awe.

Where my life is at is nothing short of a miracle. It is most definitely a reflection of the Hand of God, there is simply no other explanation. Because, I certainly haven't done enough good to be here, and it certainly can't be luck that brought me here.

My life is a reflection of Grace that says I am loved, as I am. 

There is nothing I need do to earn favor when my heart longs to honor Him, even though I can tend to selfishly want what I want.

I've realized that I can trust Him.

I can be naked, fully exposing who I am
     . . . and I will be held
     . . . safe and secure.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

learning the ways of rest

I was deceived. For years I was under this misunderstanding of Grace.

Scratch that. I didn't know about Grace. Really, I hadn't heard of it.

For years I judged women. Admittedly, I still do.
     Mostly, I judge myself.

So when the Physician's Assistant asked me four weeks before my due date how I was feeling, and I told her the truth (because I've learned its importance), I wasn't quite ready for what she offered me.

I had a plan to be out of work on a set date and even that plan was a generous helping of rest I hadn't ever considered nearly 11-years ago when I was last pregnant and down to the wire, so to speak. Back then, I worked until Noon on the day of my scheduled induction . . . two-weeks after my due date. Yep. I sure did.

Everything had been going so well and I truly didn't even consider an end date for work except unless something happened that would require being taken out of work, or actually being in labor.

This time, I mostly had the same viewpoint; except, I thought about how difficult it is to go to work each day and wonder if it'll be any day, and I thought about my nearly 11-year-old Boy-Man and how I'd really like some time together before we become a family of four. So, I planned to take a "vacation" starting the week preceding my due date and just continue a stay-cation until the delivery, at which time maternity leave would begin.

Knowing our "plans" can get sidelined, I was prepared for the possibility of potentially getting taken out of work earlier than expected, or of something going quirky that would derail all of my highfalutin plans. So, I kept my ideas loose-ish.

What I hadn't considered was being offered to be taken out of work "to rest," and it not necessarily being because anything is wrong. 

I told my PA how exhausted I am . . . how the baby is "so low" . . . how I'm incredibly uncomfortable . . . and of the regular-ish (Braxton-Hicks) contractions.

She reminded me of the magnitude of pregnancy and encouraged me to consider resting even more than I'd so diligently and deliberately focused on (and was) doing.

     But, it just seems so silly . . .
     Women have babies all the time . . .
     There's not really a compelling reason . . . 

     What will people think? 

My perception of pregnancy had deceived me from reality.

I thought mean things like:

     Women who didn't enjoy their pregnancy weren't appreciative. 
     Women who complained about the discomfort of pregnancy are weak. 
     Rest is for the weak ones.

Yeah, I was a judgy one -- tight-fisted, insensitive, irrational, and incredibly intense!

I'm not sure I ever considered all that pregnancy requires of a woman's body, especially in the last month of pregnancy. I'm not sure I ever considered kindness, either.

So here I am with nearly two-weeks until this baby's due date . . . with a tween-age Boy-Man who is so happy to have his Momma home . . .

     And I'm still learning the importance of rest . . .
          I'm still learning the ways of Grace.

You can preach truth at me all the livelong day to loosen my grip and rest, and I'll nod my head in agreement that I get it. I write about it. I preach about it.

But growing is a process, and it requires my patience.
Even though we know truth it doesn't mean our "muscle memory" automatically reprograms. 
Though I am willing and aching for a life with less fear-based living that is the reason for my tight-constricted way of living, I'm definitely a work in progress and still growing. 

     I'm continuing to chase hope for my "muscles" to further develop . . .
          that I will live less clenched and rule-based.
     I'm learning to be patient in and with the process.

Maybe this whole experience of letting go and saying "yes" to the opportunity for rest, offered by one sensitive, understanding, and wise Physician's Assistant was one of those moments that will bring me ever further into living the kind of life I believe I was created to live.

I was hardwired to be a hard-worker, a "go-getter," and (at least slightly) Type A. This is a good thing. It helps me get things done and accomplish goals. Yet, it isn't all of me.

About my concern of what people might think?

I'm hoping that like my Physician's Assistant ultimately did, others might look into my eyes and with honesty say:

     "I get it. I so get it. And, I'm with you."

Because, as much as we all know loosening our grip is important, and we want to grab our friend's by the shoulders and shake them until they get it, I have to believe we're all a work in progress . . . we all struggle to fully rest.

And one of my biggest realizations?

    There is no shame for the difficulty in ever more fully learning this truth.

It was a couple of friends who stood in the gap for me, holding space for my continued growth. They walked alongside me in my struggle and didn't judge me or make me feel inadequate.

These few friends didn't try to fix me. They didn't tell me to get over it and command me to "simply" loosen my grip.

These few simply held space for me by opening their hearts, offering unconditional support, and let go of judgment. These friends honor the necessary part of the process.

As one dear friend prayed for me, I also pray, for us all:
"That the paths you are so prone to go down -- the ones of production, the ones of appearance, the ones of showing yourself worthy -- that the rigidness of those routes would soften, and that what spills out the edges of that would find new ground and new ways to make paths . . . for newness of life to grow . . . and a new strength to come from giving over to the work of God."

Saturday, June 20, 2015

when you open the door

We hadn't seen each other in about six years.

In that time, we'd spoken over Skype once or twice. They were good conversations, meaty and rich with sweetness. Yet, still, the times we even corresponded were few.

His life this year has involved giving a daughter away in marriage and seeing her move on, something he didn't experience with his first and oldest -- me. I've thought about the strain of his recent experience contrasted with the one that he lacked and empathy has risen in my heart.

We haven't had the idyllic father-daughter relationship through the years.

He moved away when I was young and our time together became splintered. As I grew older, so did our relationship.

I wanted to know things and was too afraid to ask. When we were together I wanted the happy and fun to last, so I resisted "going there" in deep conversation with him. I didn't want to risk how talking about the heart could affect our time together, making it feel uncomfortable. Eventually, I'd ask a few questions and attempt to gain some color to the foggy parts of our story, only to be met with resistance.

Back and forth we'd trade accusations through the years, mostly by phone because I'm not sure we were ever brave enough to talk face-to-face. We both probably wanted to preserve the sweetness of what little time we had together, yet we both had words we so longed to be said.

In addition to his two other daughters besides me, he has an adopted son just a year younger than mine. It's crazy to think we're raising kids nearly the same age, both in the throes of raising tween-age boy-men. We share a similarity and a bond of understanding, more than just biologically speaking, even though our worlds are different.

While he lives and works in a third-world country, he's in the States for several months to connect with the people and organizations who financially support him. His schedule is exhausting to fathom -- driving miles and miles across the country, sleeping in other people's beds, and living out of suitcases. They still have three more months of this kind of living and I can see the toll its taken on him already.

I could see the strain, not just sense it. 
And it's all because I said "Yes". 

When he offered to visit in between his traveling from here to there, I felt love swell in my heart. I was thought of and loved. I was wanted to be seen. Just knowing this was enough of a gift, even if something happened and we couldn't coordinate schedules.

Our time together would only be a few hours, yet it was more than we would have if he didn't make an effort and if I didn't accept.

In our communicating back and forth about schedules, I considered that perhaps he had a bit of fear and anxiety in seeing me and maybe even in simply reaching out to me. I've been welcoming on so many occasions, and yet there've been others when I've kept the door sealed shut. Would I open it this time? What would be the condition of my heart? 

I thought about what to do, wanting to make sure I didn't have expectations this time.

I wanted to fling the door wide open in love. I wanted to say, "Yes! Come!"

I wanted to connect. 
     I didn't want to think about the strain and the pain.

His second grandchild is expected to be born any week, or any day now, and I want him to meet the babe, and he will, someday. But that doesn't matter so much now. This was our time and I had a choice to accept and be grateful for what we were given. So I did.

After nearly six years apart, we had three hours together. Three precious hours.

Our boys interacted with each other as if they weren't strangers. I talked with his easy-to-be-with wife and got to know his now teenage college-bound daughter a bit. And though we hardly spoke to each other, I watched him from a distance as he played yard games with my groom and our sons. I saw him smile and laugh.

When he spoke, he was funny and reminded me of my groom's humor. I laughed a lot in those few hours and I imagine looking down on us, there were a lot of smiles.

Though we didn't exchange many words, we still connected. 
We shared the human emotion of joy and thanks for the gift of togetherness.

As he drove away, I wished we had more time together and I figured that's a good thing. We didn't cry or make a big deal out of the holes that still remain in our wounded hearts. Our time together was lighthearted and not at all heavy or uncomfortable.

(Tween-age boy-men have this way of distracting a person from being so serious.)

I awoke the next day nearly two hours later than I'd been sleeping of late and was awake in the night much less frequently than has been typical in this, my ninth month of pregnancy. I awoke with memories of my father's smile and laughter, and my heart felt full.

This is what happened when I opened the door instead of keeping it shut tight.

Boundaries are good to an extent and then at some point, they're just not necessary anymore. I needed (and perhaps we both needed) some time and space apart for healing to really begin versus trying to make it be.

Forcing something usually ends up in even more brokenness.

I've seen this occur so many times on such a literal level. My groom reminded me of this when he and our son had set up the badminton net. He instructed Boy-Man to "slowly unravel the net and if it gets stuck, don't keep pulling . . . like you would usually do."

In opening the door and letting us be as we are, and our story as it is, I experienced joy and peace. I didn't need the holes to be healed. I didn't need the fairytale relationship I had longed for all those years.

In opening the door, I saw another human. 
We connected and it was good. 

Our time together wasn't perfect, yet it many ways it was. It was so good -- rich and sweet. And I'm so glad I said "Yes! Come!"

I no longer wish for the idyllic relationship I thought I always wanted.

Now I see that what we've been given -- though crackly and gravely in nature -- has been a gift. We've grown and will continue to grow in ways we never could've if we didn't have this kind of story.

Acceptance is the greatest gift of all.

In opening the door I chose to accept another frail and faulty human, and the story that was perfectly scripted for us -- as it is.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

on the messiness in relationships

There are a few people in my life who I would rather not be around.

Mostly, my reason is because of how their fear affects me.

I sense certain people get paralyzed to voice their perspective of something I've said or done out of worry that I might close my life off to them altogether, yet they stew and wring their hands all because they made assumptions about me that may or may not be true. Imagining this makes it difficult to be around these people.

I get that I can be difficult to understand sometimes. I can be harsh. I can be inconsiderate.
     That said, a lot of the time what I say and do can be completely misunderstood.

Even though certain people don't actually tell me they're making assumptions about me, and I have no real definitive idea what it is they are even all worked up about, I feel badly about myself and they probably feel badly about themselves, too.

Just like that, we've made assumptions about each other.
We're all a brambled mess, each of us.

In these times, I wish I could just bolt and never look back.

I can't stand how certain people make me feel. Yet, I know how I feel is my doing not theirs.

Fear is nasty in how it can color our perspective.

It can make us freeze up and avoid interactions with the very people we treasure most in our lives, sometimes even tempting us to think our lives would be better off without them. I'm sure there are a few people who feel that way about me.

The thing is, relationships are connections not by our design. We can think we were responsible for the connecting when really, we couldn't be further from the truth.

I learn a lot when I'm around people who I sometimes don't like, the ones who I want to blame for the reason my skin itches, and who everything within me makes me want to avoid.

I venture to guess, they could learn a lot from me, too.

     What if I'm bold enough to speak up when I sense someone is disturbed by me?
     What if I'm brave enough to invite them to go there with me . . .
          even if what they have to say might hurt? 

They might not feel comfortable to be honest with me.
They might still yield to their own fear.
They might tell me I'm altogether wrong.

I have to be careful not to expect my speaking up might change things between us while remembering that if I don't try, the discomfort between us -- imagined or not -- will certainly never get better.

Ultimately, in all relationships, my motive can't be to comfort me. 

When I sense someone is uncomfortable being around me and is weighing his or her words ever so carefully, I want to be willing to ask because I care more about their heart than about what they might think of me.

I can't give up on people, especially the ones who annoy me with their unspoken fear. Besides, I wouldn't want them to give up on me.

     We simply can't give up on each other.

There's so much we can learn from each other, even by sitting amidst the discomfort and letting it be.

To those who fear, might you be bold enough to speak up?
To those who are uncomfortable around someone else's fear, might you be bold enough to stay?