Harmful Perceptions and Mindsets

In Disney’s Pocahontas, when they sang, “They’re different from us, which means they can’t be trusted”, it was easy to see how self-righteous they were. I believe it was easier for viewers to see because we got to see both sides.

We got a glimpse into how both sides lived and thought and had a picture that was more broad. From what I can see, the sentiment from that song has permeated a good deal of people in America.

On one hand, we say we love freedom and free speech, but the moment someone says something in opposition to the narrative we have chosen to believe, we damn them. They are wrong, we are right. We condemn what we don’t understand and label people accordingly. We call them hateful names, believe them to be deceived and worse, all while missing the venom spewing from our very pores. All this, because we don’t understand their point of view. How childish… How self-righteous… How, narcissistic.

Our thinking and comprehension is finite. We have little more than tunnel vision when it comes to many things. We need each other to see things more clearly. We need God. In some instances, we seem to be able to face this fact, but the idea that someone you don’t understand is suddenly deemed whatever horrible label you want to assign to them, is sheer lunacy. Just say you don’t understand! You know your side, how about you listen to another side? You just might learn something.

People’s hearts are so wounded. It grieves me to witness the horrific things that come out of those I previously thought were mature, balanced, and kind. I am even more amazed as I see that they are completely blinded to their hatred. It is true that when pressure is applied in one’s life, what’s inside comes out. For some, it is a shining moment, where obvious inner beauty shines forth as with diamonds that have endured tremendous pressure. For others, what comes forth is simply rancid and ugly.

My prayer today is that we can all learn to look inward. As I type, Michael Jackson’s Man In the Mirror plays in my mind. We truly need to be the change we wish to see. Many of us have heard that often, but how many of us actually live like that? If you have hatred and are holding grudges, spewing all forms of malice in anyone’s direction, you are bound and only hurting and deceiving yourself. Galations 5:1 in The Passion Translation reads, “Let me be clear, the Anointed One has set us free– not partially, but completely and wonderfully free! We must always cherish this truth and stubbornly refuse to go back into the bondage of our past.”

If you see yourself still bound, still as a victim, still being oppressed and depressed by some elusive other, you won’t experience the freedom Jesus died and paid for. As long as you see yourself this way, yeah, you are oppressed. You need little help from anyone else to keep you that way too. You do it yourself just by your thinking. You turn your back on what the Word of God says, in favor of… what? As my dad, Russ would say, “How’s that been working for ya?” We have to stop putting all the focus on some elusive other, look inward, get real with what’s there, and seek to heal. Famous Actor Denzel Washington said, “We can’t blame the system. It starts at home. By the time the system is involved, it’s already too late.”

Truly, it starts with that “Man In the Mirror”. As long as we are looking outward for others to fix our issues, we will only be as good as they are to us, moment by moment. I don’t know about you. You are free to do what you want, but I am not set up for that kind of bondage. I am free.

Who Is Responsible For My Wounds?

We live in an unjust world. We live in a world where people, for whatever reason, can do us wrong, wreak havoc in our lives on many layers, and simply walk away without ever taking any responsibility at all, never making any attempt to make amends or right the wrong(s).

I believe, a very difficult truth to stomach, is that our wounds are our responsibility. Recovery from any wounds is never easy, although some wounds are easier to recover from than others, but if we wait around for the offender(s) to make things right for us we may very well wait until we die, all while we sit, feeling justified and angry or pretending our wounds don’t exist.

Some of us actually allow ourselves to get comfortable in our pain, preferring the position of victimization, taking it on as an identity of sorts, nursing and in some cases, deepening our own wounds without any further help from the original offender(s). We can make things worse for ourselves and be completely deceived all the while.

I believe this isn’t necessary. Jesus said he came that we might have life and have it more abundantly. It was for freedom that he has made us free but we have a choice in the matter. At every turn, we have free will. We can decide to just stay enraged, hurt and grow more and more bitter, or we can take him at his word, move into experiencing all he paid for on the cross, and actually be healed.

The path to healing is not linear, easy or fun, but it is far better than remaining stagnant, steeped in anger, fear, frustration, and confusion, all while trying to make someone else take responsibility and make things right for us.

I am not saying we should be an open door, allowing any and everything to come our way without us seeking to protect ourselves. That should be common sense. Most of us, when we come home for the day or before going to bed at night, lock our doors. Boundaries are necessary. We must guard our hearts in the same way or we will slowly allow what the enemy has sent our way, to utterly destroy us.

I don’t say any of this from any sort of rosy position. I say this as one with experiences, many times over, where I have been mistreated without any sort of recompense.

I say this as the 14 year old girl, whose mother decided to leave her and her 9 year old cousin home alone overnight while she went to on a trip to a casino and rape occurred when we allowed neighborhood friends over that evening after school.

I say this as the one whose rapist told many that “He had her”, never making any sort of amends ever, even up until he died.

I say this as the girl whose mother, when she learned of the rape, said, “I thought about whether I may be responsible for that happening to you, but I decided I’m not. I deserved to get away.”

I say it as the Black woman who has been the token in several workplaces, knew it, and has personally experienced racism and discrimination.

I say this as the woman who, with God’s leading has decided to stand up and say, “No more!” to years of abuse, betrayal and more from the very person who should have protected me, loved me and cared for me, all while my character is being tarnished to all who will listen behind my back because I have stepped out of my “proper” place.

Of the few who dared approach me upfront, only one has asked me why I backed away. The others who approached me came to try and convince me to fix what I did not break. I feel they came to me because they know I am the safer one to speak to in such a manner. Others just talk about me behind my back, believing whatever is being said about me.

There is no responsibility being taken. There are no apologies, no changed behavior. Nothing. So who will fix this? Who will fix me? Should I go around enraged, unloading my anger on any and every one who hits one of my many raw nerve endings I possess and sometimes nurse as dear friends? Should I wait for the day they will see their errors and seek repentance? Would that fix me? Would it make me brand new if they did? Who will fix it all for me? Who will take responsibility for me?

I won’t go to my offenders for help in repairing my wounds. It doesn’t work. They are massively wounded themselves to even have the self-awareness necessary to even glance my way, and I know this like I know my name. I choose to take responsibility for my own wounds, face what is, and go to The Great Physician. I won’t go to people to do for me what I know, only God can do for me. I take full responsibility for my wounds. My position, my confession, and my declaration over my life is that with God’s help and by Jesus’ stripes, I AM HEALED.

Simple Things

The simple things in life really get to me. They make me feel happy, content and even excited to be right where I am in life.

I awoke fairly early this morning and before getting out of bed, my toddler came into my room. He checked to see if I was awake- if I was asleep, his habit is to leave and allow me to sleep (amazing right?). When he realized I was awake, he climbed in bed with me and lay in my arms. All too soon, he was fast asleep again. I lay in bed, just holding him and feeling his little arms around me as well. I thanked God and thought to myself how grateful I am that this isn’t my life because of the pandemic, this is and has been my life for many years now.

Eventually, I had to get up. I decided to go check on the raw goat cheese I started the dripping process with the day before. Then I decided to finally make the lip balm, lotion and goat milk soap I’ve been putting off making. As I gathered items to make these products, I was blessed 4 times over as I stayed in tune with all that was going on around me while I worked.

I could hear our 2 doves cooing. We also have a cockatiel, but he’s still covered so he isn’t making his noise. The doves have a more muted smooth sound that is kind of nice. In addition to their cooing, I could hear my husband’s voice as he spoke with friends. I love his voice.

I could also hear foot falls from upstairs. I could tell it was my youngest daughter waking up and heading down the hall. Then, I could hear the muted sweet voice of my oldest daughter who is stationed in the basement each day, working.

At that moment, I stopped what I was doing and just listened, enjoying the songs of the birds and my daughter, the laughter of my husband and the foot traffic above me. It was every day, simple. Nothing out of the ordinary. But, it was oh so glorious. I pray you notice these things and more in your life. There’s always something to take note of and be thankful for in life. Don’t miss it.

The God Cheat

There have been so many times I thought to write. There have been many things I thought to write about, but each time, I just didn’t. I have had so many different things on my mind. I have several new things I am already doing and a few others that want to get into, so, as usual, I’m all over the place.

I pray all is well with you and yours during this time. For many, it is fraught with fear, uncertainty, sadness and more. I pray often for us all, and especially those having a tough time as we wait out this pandemic.

I never want to appear callous or as if I take grave things lightly, especially when others around me are clearly suffering. I am sensitive to that as I have been told throughout my life that I didn’t take things seriously because I wasn’t perceived to be worried enough.

The fact is, I trust God. That doesn’t mean I don’t have bouts of fear and He doesn’t have to pull me back into sanity, but as I heard a doctor say on a video, (paraphrasing) “If I can’t trust God to protect me from this virus, how can I say I trust Him for salvation and an eternity with Him in Heaven?”

In the beginning of this, I remember a moment where I felt fear creeping in. It was because of false information being circulated. Thankfully, God set me straight and showed me where I was to get my information. Ever since then, I have felt hope and peace and even joy in the midst of it all.

In this moment, I sat to write because I suddenly turned my attention to Abba and said, “Are you serious? Am I really sitting here happy and making plans and enjoying this time? It seems like I am cheating. It seems kind of wrong.” I am enjoying time with my husband and our 5 children. I am planning and delving into new things and old things that I used to enjoy, like rollerskating. Numerous blessings have come about because of and in spite of all that is going on. Things just look, hopeful and bright. I won’t apologize for this, and I refuse to allow anything or anyone rob me of this.

A former pastor of mine used to say peace isn’t the absence of conflict. You know you have peace when all hell is breaking loose around you and you’re good. I am using wisdom when I have to go out, but I am grateful that I am not afraid. I see this as an opportunity to grow deeper in intimacy and trust in God. I remember when I felt that first bout of fear coming on, I asked God to help me to trust Him because I didn’t really know how. The really cool thing is, even with Him saying we are to trust Him, He is the one who helps us to do it. He does it all. I pray you are well.

To Be Seen

I really thought I was hard to see but I am realizing with great surprise that this is another big lie I have believed.

I have felt misunderstood by my mother for the vast majority of my life. She would tell me that she knows me best and would also say I was things like selfish, rude, manipulative, etc. Now, in truth, I didn’t think I was these things and didn’t intend to be any of them either, but when you’re a child and you’re taught these things about yourself, you believe them.

I thought, if my mother can’t see that I am really trying hard to be perfect, something is wrong with me. If she can’t see that I’m trying hard to do my very best to make her and everyone else proud and happy, and it isn’t coming through, something is wrong with me. I’m not doing it right. Being massively misunderstood is no fun at all. Being told you are the exact opposite of who you are is devastating and degrading. In my mind, since my true intentions weren’t obvious, I just needed to try harder, do better. That was my thinking for most of my life.

Now, I am coming across more and more people who are telling me things about myself, things that are actually true of my character, and I am dumbfounded. I wonder, “How do they know?”, they seem psychic or something. How is it that they see so clearly what my own mother, who says she knows me best, doesn’t see?

It didn’t dawn on me until recently that perhaps I am not at all difficult to see, I am who I believe I am and maybe the problem begins and ends with my mother. Maybe she does in fact see who I really am but doesn’t want to admit it to me. I don’t know.

Regardless, I am experiencing shock after shock as people I am friends with on social media describe me perfectly.

I posted about missing my oldest who just moved out, and one dear Facebook friend said to me, “You are so close with your kids, so intentional, you’re such a good mom, you’re real friends. I thought this was going to be really hard for you.”

Another dear Facebook friend wrote, “To not ache, I’d be concerned. I know you well enough to know she’s your sidekick. Your babies are your friends… and it’s beautiful and painful and messy and wonderful, and all the things. This is a testament of what an amazing mama you are!”

I am an open person but even with what I do share, I don’t share everything. To have these two women see the real me like this amazes me. I have only met one of them in person and that was only one time, probably a good 10 years ago, but they see me. And now, I understand that it isn’t that I am hard to truly see. They see me because they want to and the real me doesn’t present some sort of imposition for them in any way. They don’t feel the need to tear me down in order to feel better about themselves. It’s good to be seen for who I am. It’s good to know that I don’t have to try to be perfect. It’s good to know I can just relax and be myself and that is not just enough, but it’s plenty. It really feels good. Actually, it’s not just good. It’s great.

Valuing Relationships

Last week, on my Facebook page, I posted about valuing people over differing opinions, theirs and mine. I said, I value relationship, and I do.

In the not too distant past, I have loved people and valued relationships in very unhealthy ways and to my own detriment. I am not doing this any longer.

If I am dealing with a person who is unwilling to take responsibility for their actions, I am able to eventually forgive, but a necessary shift occurs.

I am at a point now where in such a case, I can and will go on loving the person. I am wise enough to understand that I cannot make anyone change and/or see what I perceive as reason. We have all been gifted with free will from God. Who am I to think I can override another’s will? Why would I want that responsibility? It’s too much, not to mention, unreasonable.

In this instance, the relationship I am choosing to value changes though. I will still honor and value the relationship. The one I am now choosing to honor and value, is the one I have with myself.

My Jaiela

I think what I will miss most is my daughter’s laugh. From her first laugh out loud moment, I remember feeling I never wanted to miss that. I dreaded when I’d have to send her off to school. I didn’t want to miss a thing with her development. I knew that in school, her teachers would miss or dismiss that laugh, maybe even find it disruptive and punish her for it in some way. Thank God for unschooling and divine appointments.

I was unschooling Jaiela (pronounced jay-la) before I knew what unschooling was or that it had a name. I was simply living and learning alongside my baby girl and enjoyed every moment of it. I was shocked when a woman, after watching our 2 children play together at an educational booth (at an expo of some sort), came to me and said, “You homeschool her, don’t you?” I had no idea what she was talking about and was astonished to learn that she was doing it, it was legal and I had this option as well.

My husband thought it was a phase when I came home with a bunch of books about homeschooling that day, and declared, “This is what we’re going to do!” My mother told me I was going to make her granddaughter stupid. My daughter was in a teaching daycare when I told my grandfather my plans. He said, “Get her out of there quick and do it.”, and I did. At 4 years old, when she would have been about to head to kindergarten, I quit my full-time job, took her out of the school-ish daycare and never looked back.

I have done my best to be the type of mother to her and my other children that I would want at any given moment. Not knowing how to do what I wasn’t taught, presented challenges along the way but it has been nothing short of amazing. My children have taught me far more than I believe I have taught them. Growing alongside them has enabled me to reclaim various simple aspects of childhood that I missed, things like getting muddy, playing in dirt, running, hiking and wearing t-shirts that weren’t dressy enough, right out the front door.

Today, I sit in my oldest daughter’s living room and type this. My children and I will travel home tomorrow and leave my daughter for the first time.

Others have said they feel like she is theirs. They feel happy and proud and sad, all at the same time. I don’t feel the sadness at this point, just happiness and pride. I would love it if others could take up all the sad on my behalf so I don’t have to deal with that. I am grateful that I have had her for 21 years. She could have left sooner, many do.

It all happened very quickly. She was offered a job out of state and needed to start 17 days after the offer was made. She was on it. By day 7, she traveled here and visited several apartment complexes that she’d researched and narrowed down. By day 12, she moved into her new apartment. On day 14, she purchased her first vehicle and was ready for work on day 17.

My sister jokingly asked if my daughter had a sugar daddy she was hiding somewhere to get so much done in such a short span of time. I told her she has 2 things, favor and financial savvy.

My daughter was accepted into an apprenticeship program that only 15% of applicants get into. She worked for 7 months and saved up all of her tuition money. She put aside money for buying us all Christmas gifts -this child bought me almost $70 hiking boots! She set aside money for when life throws that curveball and she saved a chunk of money to use for the inevitable move she knew was coming at the end of her apprenticeship program.

The company that hired her, did so immediately and because they aren’t actually affiliated with the apprenticeship program, she wasn’t offered the typical 6-month apprenticeship but a full-on position in the company. This was a clear case of favor and opportunity meeting the prepared.

I am so proud of her. I am excited to see where she goes and what she will accomplish because she has some serious plans for obtaining financial freedom. So far, she loves the job. The people she works with are silly too, which is right up her alley. I am going to do my best as always, to enjoy this new phase of our relationship. I couldn’t be happier or more proud.

Opening the door to her first apartment, with no coat. Freezing, lol.
New vehicle and plant!

Being Valued

I always thought that in order to be loved, I had to be really good. I was literally told that I wasn’t wanted so I translated that message into having to work hard to make everyone happy and proud and then, maybe, I would be loved and wanted in return. I did pretty good with it too, adapting a lot of perfectionistic behaviors to try and make it all work out. Thanks be to God, I am so done with that.

What I dismissed and ignored, God has shone a blazing light on. I am no longer normalizing the abnormal and harmful. I am facing what is, head on and with God’s help, healing and dealing with it all. It is HARD. I am worth it though. So I trudge through, sometimes laughing, playing and joking, other times sobbing and wailing, but I am moving, always moving along.

Just after Christmas, I had two sisters come to visit for 5 days. My children and I were sick most of their visit but we still managed to have a great time. One of my sisters prophesied over me that she could see many hands reaching for me, to give to me, to love me. Others in my life have said that this is a time of me really seeing my worth and how people value me, like never before. I am finding that I am far more valued than I ever imagined and it isn’t new. I just didn’t see it. I believed lies and behaved from that perspective but I am not doing that any more. What I am noticing is amazing.

My husband was face timing 3 friends when he came home from work one day. He passed the phone to me and when the 3 guys saw me, I was ready to cry. They all tilted their heads to the side, smiling and what I can only describe as pure love, shone on their faces. I was stunned. It was very overwhelming and I even laughed and told them they were gonna make me cry looking at me like that. Then they all laughed.

The truth is what my Mama Robin recently told me when I thanked her for loving me. She said, “Loving you is the easy part.” I am seeing now that it’s true. I am easy to love and oh so valued by so many. I am so grateful.

New Things

Although I don’t currently write as much as I would like, I am keeping pretty busy with wonderful things. I recently went to NY to do a trailer shoot for a webisode I am a part of that has to do with narcissism. I will post the trailer and more info about it when it is available. For now, you can see the cast and learn about the story line here. I am very excited to be a part of such an important work.

Anyone who knows me, knows I love to cook and bake. I’ve been doing a lot more of that lately for my family and others. It’s so much fun! And I can’t get enough of my newly discovered passion of hiking! My goodness, I had no idea how much I love it! I have even started to sing in the woods, with abandon, which is something I would have once shied away from, fearing being thought of as a show off. I am shedding so much of the foolishness I once believed and it feels amazing!

I am also starting a new ministry! Learning about how to care for myself, coupled with conversations with women I am in regular contact with through ministry and life in general, I decided to do a trial meeting in November teaching some of what I am learning. The response still has me shocked. After talking it over with my Dad Gary Fishman, I now have a ministry called Love Perfected. You can learn more about it here.

I’m so excited to see what God will do with all that I am involved in. I feel very grateful and am eager to help others.

Loneliness

I am convinced that the idea of loneliness is a scam. Perhaps it’s our feelings, trying to lie to us.

The fact is, we are surrounded. We are never, ever alone, not even for a millisecond.

I have not felt lonely in a long time, several years now. I’ve noticed a few times recently, that I am tempted to feel I am alone but it never seems to take hold these days and I am grateful.

I’m grateful that I hear from God so well, that if that inkling comes, I hear Him say, “Hi.” or, “I’m here.” It is actually difficult for me to feel alone in this world.

Truly, I shouldn’t feel alone. No one should. It’s a lie. The truth is, I am in union with Him. There’s nothing I can do to change that and I don’t want to. Maybe I could ignore it, but why would I want to even do that?

My prayer for you is that if you don’t experience this as your reality, that you will. You are never alone. You never have been, nor will you ever be, and that is an amazing thing to consider.