“I’m Sorry.”

Today was one of those days when you just want to crawl into a hole and smack anyone who comes near you.  It started with a painful dentist appointment then continued into a very stressful day at work.  My frustration level reached a point where I found it hard to contain my urge to whine (even internally) about several things before the day was over.  I kept trying to see the positive but it just kept getting overshadowed by the negative.  It is unusual for me to fall into that kind of pit of self-pity, but I am human too.

shutterstock_143837407We all endure times when we feel like everything we touch is a problem or everyone that comes to us wants something.  They say confession is good for the soul so…here it goes.  Stick with me for a few moments, because I promise this is going somewhere.  Sometimes I get frustrated with people who take me or what I do for granted.  I get tired of people who slip into a place where they stop trying to do anything for themselves or figure things out on their own before asking me to solve their issues for them.  I get drained sometimes by people who think just because I’m nice or truly WANT to help them that it gives them license to continually load me up with stuff to do.  It hurts me when I work so hard to do things for others, professionally or personally, and after a while, it just becomes the status quo.  I don’t do things so that people will pat me on the back or say thank you, but once in a while it might be nice for someone to realize that it truly does take effort to pay attention to the needs of others and that once in a while, I need something too.  It hurts my feelings that people think it’s a compliment or a sign of gratitude if they don’t have something negative to say.  I realize it IS a good thing, but don’t think I feel happy because you didn’t tell me I was doing less than satisfactory work professionally or personally.  More than that, don’t think that your silence makes me think I’ve done anything right or good.  Sometimes I need to hear it too.  I’m not superhuman and I don’t know everything.  Just because I’m calm doesn’t mean I’m not at my breaking point.  Sometimes I’m calm so that you can feel more stable.  Sometimes I’m strong because you need me to be.   But sometimes I need you to stop what you’re doing for a few moments and see me.   Sometimes I need you to understand that just because I don’t complain doesn’t mean what I do is easy.

shutterstock_125574653Everything I just said is true.  I don’t often feel that way, and I certainly don’t normally say those things openly, but today I felt it was important.  A few days ago I posted about the gratitude meltdown I had a week ago…and today I somehow lost sight of it.  I let my circumstances get the best of me and crumbled a bit under the pressure of life.  I let my frustration show and even vented a little about certain things that were under my skin…and I am sorry.  Yes, I’m human, but I didn’t feel good about it when I was doing it and I certainly didn’t feel good afterward.  There was some measure of relief in saying some things out loud, but then I immediately felt guilty for doing so.  It isn’t wrong to feel what we feel in life; what’s important is how we respond to it.   I did not choose the best response – not outwardly or inwardly.  I gave up and was ready to quit everything.  What a shame.

So in this season of gratitude, I find myself feeling the need to say I’m sorry.  I’m sorry for forgetting how much I am loved by people who never say it.  I’m sorry for not appreciating the fact I have a job when so many people in this country are struggling to find work.  I’m sorry for whining (even internally) about being taken for granted when I should be honored that people feel comfortable to come to me.  I’m sorry for not speaking up and being honest about the fact I need things too sometimes.  I’m sorry for taking my frustrations and making them someone else’s fault.  I’m sorry for not stepping back and taking a breath and reconnecting with the spiritual things that ground me when I start to lose perspective.  I’m sorry for not being grateful for the countless blessings in my life.  I’m sorry for considering walking away from several things just because I feel like it’s the only way to finally be heard.  I’m sorry…you deserve better.

It’s ok to be human and to realize we all stumble sometimes.   We can have a day (or even a moment) of great clarity and gratitude and then have it stripped away by letting circumstances hijack our peace and contentment.  It happens…but we don’t have to stay there.  We have a choice.  We can choose to take a breath and recenter.  It doesn’t mean the feelings will always go away but what we tell ourselves during these times can be so powerful.  It is important to hold on to the truth when your feelings are swirling around you.  Talk to yourself – yes, out loud if you have to – and remind yourself of the truth…even if you don’t feel like it.  It can transform you.

shutterstock_154748687I am grateful.  I am blessed beyond what I could ever deserve, and when I focus on that truth, it brings me to my knees.  And even when I feel as though I am leaking like a sieve, I have a spiritual Father who keeps pouring more and more blessings into my world.   It is not only enough, it is exceedingly abundantly above all I can ask or think…and I will continue to follow what I feel led to do, even if it means giving all to a world that is so willing to take.  It doesn’t matter what the rest of the world does because I’ve been given so much that I cannot help but give.  It is not up to me to decide who gets to take or the manner in which they take.  How I give is between me and God.  How it is taken is between others and God.  And the sooner that is burned into my heart, the less often I will have “one of those days.”


Gratitude Meltdown!

Last week I had a meltdown.  It wasn’t the type of meltdown that comes from too much stress or difficulties in life, but rather a meltdown of gratitude.  I know that sounds odd and maybe even foreign to some of you but let me explain.

BlessingLast Tuesday night, I was on my way home after an amazing seminary class filled with all kinds of discussion.  As I left, I found myself feeling extremely emotional and grateful for so many things in my life.  I am normally an overly thankful person who appreciates even the smallest things, but this was different.  As I thought about the path I have been on the last year or so, I couldn’t help but see how God has continued to work in even the smallest things in my life.   I was speaking with a friend of mine and told her, “I wish people could step into my soul for even a moment so they could have some kind of concept of how deeply my gratitude runs for them and how much I love them. “ 

There are things I believe I have been called to do in this life.  I have felt this way as long as I can remember, but there have been a few times here and there along the way when I believe God has made it abundantly clear what I needed to be doing.  Interestingly, the “calling” or purpose for my life has never changed.  It may have been manifested in different ways, but the underlying purpose has always been the same.   I have not always followed that calling, but I have also never been able to escape it.  When God reveals your true purpose to you, no matter what age that occurs, you are never the same.  You either live in fulfillment of your calling or you fight it.  Sometimes that decision changes from year to year, day to day, or even moment to moment.  The one thing you can no longer claim is ignorance.

As I reflected on my own calling and purpose last week, I was overwhelmed by a deep acceptance of what I know in my heart.  Then I was flooded with a sense of gratitude for situations and people who have helped me over the past few years more than they will ever be able to understand.  Most of these people have no clue what part they have played in the continual “gelling” of my purpose.  They have no concept of how God has used them to help guide the trajectory of my life.  I could write volumes on each one specifically but it would still only express a tiny fraction of what I feel in my heart for them. 1009759_10152000392095299_569841632_n Even in my professional life, God has used countless situations, and some very special people, to bring me to deeper realizations about myself and life in general.   I am blessed to be part of a company I believe in, owned by a man I deeply respect.  God used him to bring me to a place where I could grow not only professionally, but emotionally and spiritually as well.  I am not the most normal person on the planet, but he and many others in the office allow me to be true to the things I believe in most.  The freedom I have found in my work environment has given me the ability to follow where I am led both inside and outside the office.  It has strengthened my spirit beyond comprehension.  It has not only helped make me a much stronger and authentic individual, it has made me a more passionate and committed person of faith.  How many people can say that about their work environment, owner, boss or coworkers?  It is overwhelming.

My point is that we ALL have a purpose to fulfill.  We may try to ignore it or even fight it when it comes up but we can’t escape it.  Sometimes our calling is to something that seems entirely different than the job or circumstances in which we find ourselves.  That’s when we need to step back for a moment and consider that maybe we are exactly where we are supposed to be…for now.   Maybe God has us in places where our purpose is going to be fulfilled through unexpected means.  Maybe we feel called to ministry but find ourselves in secular professions.  Does that mean we have strayed from our true path?  Of course not!  Yes, sometimes we hide in our professions to try and avoid the fear of stepping out into the truth of who we are, but we must not forget that where we are is much less important than WHAT we are!  If you are called to love, then love!  It doesn’t matter if you work for a church or the government.  If you are called to teach, then teach!  It may be in the school system or within your own home.  If you are called to sing, then sing!  Do it in your car or the shower if nowhere else.  If you are called to minister, then minister!  You don’t have to be in a pulpit to share the truth of God’s love, grace and mercy with others.

shutterstock_157249559If you are truly called to do something, you will do it no matter what…even if no one applauds you or appreciates it.  You will do it no matter what it costs you in time, energy or finances.   You will do it because you cannot keep from doing it!  You will do it with humility.  You will do it with grace.  You will do it with compassion.  You will not demand the spotlight and you will not be angry with those who aren’t impressed with your passion.  You will simply live as you are called and let God take care of the rest.  It is my job to follow the truth of my calling and it is God’s job to take care of the results…even when it doesn’t seem like anyone notices.  When I live with that perspective, I live in a very different kind of peace.

I am so grateful for what this past year has brought and all the people in my life who have affected my path.  When I truly consider it all, I am overtaken with emotion and fall to my knees in earnest prayer for them all.  None of us can know what tomorrow holds, but we can decide to live today paying attention to just how blessed we really are.

And if that realization takes your breath away and you cannot stop the flow of tears…then let them come.  Maybe a “meltdown of gratitude” is exactly what you need to be able to see clearly again.


Yo Ho Ho and a Bottle of…UGH!

Now that Halloween has come and gone for another year, I have to think about how much work goes into costumes and decorations for one day.  Yes, I know that every holiday is really just “one day,” but at least Thanksgiving and Christmas are more like seasons than days.

D pirateThis year, my work team and I decided we would be pirates for Halloween.  I work for an amazing company, owned by an amazing man who allows us to be freely festive and decorate everything we can find in the office.  Each area went all out and we had many visitors and trick-or-treaters who came to enjoy the atmosphere throughout the day.  But this year was different for me.  We started planning for Halloween in August.  We spent a lot of personal time, energy and even money on putting together realistic props and other things to make our area totally amazing…and it was!

The problem for me wasn’t that I felt others didn’t appreciate us for being in the spirit; it was how all the details of what we had accomplished went totally overlooked.  We crafted handmade dice, used real turkey drumsticks, turned our aisle into a wooden pier complete with pilings, made cargo crates and spent hours gluing gold coins to a tablecloth to create a treasure pile, etc.  I even brought items from home for my “captain’s quarters” that were old and valuable, including eyeglasses from the 1800s and some antique books worth several hundred dollars.  We had lights that made the walls look like water reflecting on them.  We had paid attention to every detail, but in the end, no one really noticed.  They enjoyed the theme but I think they would have been just as happy if we hadn’t gone to such great lengths.  It was disappointing and even discouraging.

As I reflected Halloween night on the disappointment I felt over such details going unnoticed, I was struck with the eerie similarity it all had to “real” life.   For those of us who pay attention to details, even the seemingly insignificant ones, it’s hard to understand how people can look at the same things we are looking at and not see the countless hours or huge amounts of energy and effort put into something we have either created or completed.  shutterstock_159315767We’ve all experienced great disappointment after having worked tirelessly on a project for work, home, church or some other organization, only to have others overlook the details that made it what it was.  Most people don’t see the details; they only see the overall picture.  For example, if you clean a spot on the carpet, no one really cares.  People don’t notice if it isn’t there, but they sure notice when it is!  One of the things Disneyland does so well is the details.  Every tiny detail is paid attention to so that the guest is immersed in an experience like no other.  Guests don’t notice the tiny details, but if they were missing, the experience would be lessened.  It is the details that create the experience, but it is the experience that stirs the soul.

The vision we have for our lives, or the things in it, is important, but that vision only comes to life when we spend the time and effort on the details.  It is the painstaking hours, days or even years we spend on the details of our lives that creates an overall experience that stirs the soul.  It is the thankless and overlooked work we do that creates an end product or result that is appreciated, even though there is no concept of the amount of blood, sweat and tears we may have put into it.

shutterstock_156549593People appreciate the scenes around them; few appreciate or even stop to consider all the “little” things that had to be taken care of for the scene to come to life.  These “scenes” might be something as major as creating or building something amazing or as routine as making dinner, but each requires “behind the scenes” work that, in most cases, will not be appreciated.  We must learn to find appreciation within ourselves for the hard work we do for others.  Sure, we can decide it’s not worth it and resign ourselves to just doing what is necessary to get by, but nothing can replace the sense of accomplishment we get from doing something well.  The harder you work on something, the greater the sense of accomplishment…and that is a feeling no one can take away from you.

We need to stop looking to outside sources to appreciate all the little things we do.  We need to stop waiting for others to say “good job” when we already know in our hearts we did a good job.  We need to stop pinning our feelings of success on the opinions of those around us and start understanding that true success comes from within.  Taking care of the details to ensure an amazing experience, is not something we do for others; it is something we do for ourselves.

shutterstock_73650523 (1)And the next time you find yourself enjoying a “scene” or person around you, maybe you should stop and look at little closer at all the intricate details that made it possible.  You might be surprised to find that what is under the surface is far greater than anything that meets the eye.