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.

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.

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.

Owning My Stories

Anne Lamott says we own everything that happens to us and that we should tell our stories. This brings up fear, sadness, false shame, false guilt and anger for me.

I don’t enjoy causing anyone pain, whether it be directly or indirectly. I have gone out of my way to not say things, or to say them only when absolutely necessary, with such meticulous calculation, that I can cause the least amount of pain possible. I see now that this is another layer of codependence. This is another way I take on responsibilities that are not my own, and frankly, I want to be done with this harmful practice. It serves no one, not even the ones who think they would fare better with my silence and enabling.

When I was ordained 3 years ago, I didn’t want to tell anyone. I remember low-key begging my mother to keep quiet about it and of course she didn’t. Anything I didn’t want shared, should not have been discussed with her, lol because it would always be as good as broadcasted before anyone who would listen. It took far too long for me to understand this. I think part of the reason I felt unofficial was because I didn’t feel I had a clear understanding of my purpose.

I now understand my ultimate purpose is to love and be loved by Him. From there, I have gifts and things to share, all from a place of overflowing love from my Abba. These are things I get to do, not absolutely have to do. There’s no ball and chain that comes along with this deal. There is freedom, peace, love, joy, and when the trials of life come, there’s my Abba, walking me through it all. We do it all together.

I am naturally, an open person. I don’t like superficial conversations and small talk. That is draining to me over time. If you look at my very first blog post, I’m sure there was a level of vulnerability there because it’s just who and how I am. I make no apologies for that, but now, things are different. God has shown me areas of my life that I need to face full on. Things I need to accept and deal with, and in doing so, I need to speak and share openly.

It hurts. The last thing I want to do is cause others to feel uncomfortable, but my sharing my story is just that- me sharing my story. I am not responsible for others’ feelings or actions beyond that.

Anne Lomott’s quote says, “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”

God is giving me greater clarity on my ministry, and in order to do it, I must have room to speak openly. I will do my best to be sensitive to others, but I will not shy away from where God leads. I said earlier, that beyond loving and being loved by God, I get to do other things. I refuse to live a mundane existence where I cower in fear of man or woman. When it comes to my life, I want Jesus to get what he so dearly paid for because I love him. I love him more than I fear you. There’s more to come, dear reader.

Triggers, Triggers Everywhere

“Trigger” is a word I have had to come to grips with and just get used to. Just a short time ago, the word grated on my nerves. The word itself would illicit an eye roll that started way back in my head somewhere.

So many are “triggered” so often. I thank God for the truth taught in a book I read years ago called, The Four Agreements. It isn’t a Christian book (((gasp))) but God’s wisdom is littered throughout it. I mean, the Bible does say He is all in all so… Anyway, that book helped me in enormous ways because I am a highly sensitive person. It helped me to not take everything someone else says or does to heart and as a personal affront to the entirety of my person hood.

I read an article on a friend’s page entitled Don’t Tell Me God is Good and commiserated with the author. I commented to my friend that the post reminded me of the time I cried and screamed in anger towards God because I’d lost another baby. I have lost 7 total, but 5 happened within 9 months and I was really a mess. After yelling at Him and crying, I clearly felt His presence. It was as if He got down to my level and I heard Him say, “I’m Sorry”. That floored me and helped heal me in many ways. It also brought our relationship to a greater level of intimacy.

What that post brought to mind though was triggers. As I read it, I felt the author has more healing to experience in the area mentioned in the post. Don’t we all have areas we still have yet to experience healing in? When things trigger us, it points out a sore spot in us that is in need of healing, but instead of looking to God for freedom in that area, we often want others to change. Look at how many words we are being told we shouldn’t use today because it may trigger someone. People are confronted with attempted censorship every day on social media and in real life.

There’s a massive call to remove all words that could be possible triggers and nothing is being done to aid a person in healing from those triggers that are to me, very obviously their problem. It’s a call for you to stop triggering me so I can be comfortable and ignore my responsibility to obtain healing for my issues and traumas. This reminds me of another good post I read entitled, Trauma Is Not Your Fault, But Healing Is Your Responsibility.

I suppose what I am asking is that we take a moment when triggered and consider what lies we may be believing in that moment. What are we telling ourselves? Asking others to stop saying what triggers us is handing our responsibility over. It’s akin to asking someone else to fix you. Only God can and has done that. We need help to walk in the freedom that was so preciously paid for. We need healing.

By the way, a huge trigger for me that seems to bother me to no end is whispering. If someone speaks to me in a way that is barely audible, with just the right intention (perceived by me) behind it, oh my word, it does something to my insides and infuriates me to no end. I need healing, Lord.

Jona’s Emotions

My 2 year old son Jonathan is an emotional little guy. Actually, both of my boys are, but my focus is on Jona in this moment. If something doesn’t go his way, he is liable to scream and growl and cry real tears. This guy gets upset!

Because my husband and I both have come from backgrounds that have not taught us how to effectively deal with our emotions, we don’t know what we’re doing. That being said, I am grateful that we are not merely doing what was done in our family (of origin), with our children. We are forging a different path, in hopes of breaking cycles of abuse and dysfunction, and it is hard.

I am one who looks at a thing from every angle that I can. This often makes things a bit more complicated.

Yesterday, Jona got upset and yelled and my husband quickly got angry and told him to go upstairs (to cry). This boy can scream. Here’s what I see.

For my husband, he has had whatever type of day he has had, and the boy starts yelling and crying about something that to Jermaine is minuscule. It’s frustrating to no end.

For Jona, he is 2 years old. His vocabulary and cognitive reasoning abilities are very limited. He is trying to communicate his needs and desires and is often misunderstood. I mean, the baby talks funny. We don’t know what he is saying, but he is clearly saying something because he says it the same exact way every time. (This is one of the reasons we sign with our babies, to enhance our ability to communicate during these tougher phases.) So, Jona wants something or something goes wrong, no one understands, he gets frustrated and angry and naturally, blows up. Who wouldn’t feel the way he does? The fact that it is about his kindle being dead is irrelevant, he has a problem that for him, is very serious and very real and I for one, respect and honor that. Yes, he’s a child, but he’s a person, deserving honor and respect, which unfortunately is a foreign concept for many adults. Insert eye roll here.

When I see Jonathan reach his limit and cry, it is upsetting. He is loud and I just want to help him. One thing I talk to my husband about is how we as adults need to learn to stop making the child’s behavior about us. Parents take offense, get angry and yell, curse, punish, hit, or whatever, not realizing the impact of their actions on the child long term.

Not only are you not teaching the child how to deal with their strong emotions, but when you do any of what I mentioned above and send them away, you teach them that you are not available when they need your help, something is wrong with them and their emotions (insert shame here) and so much more. Then, we wonder why so many adults have no clue about how to process their emotions. You have a grown man who, when he feels angry, stuffs his feelings because he doesn’t know what else to do with them. How long does that work, until he makes himself sick or harms someone else and ends up in prison or dead?

I’m not saying I have the answers, I don’t. I know Who does though, and I go to Him and get help on how to help my son and family with these issues when they arise. With God’s help, we can change things for the better for ourselves and future generations. The abuse and neglect has to end here. I am tired of it.

Warning Dreams

I want to apologize for my downer posts. It’s my knee jerk reaction. It’s the conditioning I received growing up. The message is that I should be careful to not get in the way, be it, physically or emotionally so. The message was that I was to care for the needs of others and not have any needs myself, because who wants to bother caring for mine? No one, I was told. I was told I wasn’t wanted by anyone. I was reminded from time to time, in front of my children, of the time when I was around 8, when I was told that my father nor mother wanted me. It was said that no one wanted me and my mother proceeded to pretend to call the police to come and get me because she was done with me.

That story did not need to be repeated. I never forgot it. I took that message in deeply, along with the many others I received before and after that time. I had no idea that the call to the police never happened. I was too young to know that, had they been called, they would have come. I had no idea that any moment I did anything at all that set her off, they wouldn’t come and take me away forever. The problem was, I didn’t have to do anything to set her off. It could happen at any given moment for reasons unknown (and unrelated) to me.

I wont’ apologize for waking up, feeling down this morning. I have feelings as everyone else does and I refuse to pretend I don’t any longer. I will deal with my feelings, pray and ask for help as needed. Just like anyone else, I deserve love and care. I had a bad dream, again.

The thing is, God gives me warning dreams. I like to call it Holy Intel. I may have just awakened from one such dream and it grieves me.

I need a hug.

What I am dealing with is so wrong. The last warning dream I had, happened a few weeks after I dreamed it. I handled it very well and feel proud about that.

I felt very prepared and loved by God for the warning. I don’t want to do this again/anymore, but I will if I have to. It’s just heartbreaking.

Another thing God is doing is bringing things to my attention that I was not aware of, concerning this situation with my mother. Things I was made fun of and ridiculed for, were totally orchestrated by her, unbeknownst to me. There were many insidious set ups.

I am surprised, but grateful that God has helped me to not succumb to it all, allowing it to change who I am at my core. I see people who are forever changed, in horrible ways from such experiences. And although it feels wrong and akin to a betrayal to speak and write about such things, I will do it anyway, for as long as God wills it.

The Singer Who Rarely Listens to Music

You know how music makes you feel things? I rarely listen to music because I don’t like to feel things. Most songs from my childhood end up having me in a state of grief. I know this isn’t a bad thing. I need to grieve what I once thought I had but never did and likely, never will. There are times that I feel led to play music that I know will lead me to grieve a bit. When I feel that nudge, I do it. Otherwise, I avoid music altogether.

The other day, someone in the house played El DeBarge’s “Love Me In A Special Way”. I sat in the kitchen and just cried uncontrollably. I remembered myself as a very little girl, singing that, not knowing what I was singing but doing so with all my heart because singing is one of my gifts and I used to love to sing.

I just felt led by the Lord to look at the lyrics because I woke up this morning with that song playing in my head. I didn’t really know the words, but part of the lyrics struck me as I read them this morning…

“Love me in a special way
What more can I say 
Love me now
Love me in a special way
What more can I say 
Love me now (love me now)

‘Cause I’m special
Not the average kind 
Who’d accept any line
That sounds good
So reach into your chain of thoughts
Try to find something new
Because what worked for you so well before
For me it just won’t do.

Love me in a special way
What more can I say 
Love me now
Love me in a special way
What more can I say 
Love me now (love me now)”

I am beginning to feel differently now, more authentic, more un-apologetically me. Manipulation tactics that worked on me before, just don’t any longer. Not because I didn’t catch them before, I caught them, I just ignored them and pushed through because I thought I was here to make others happy and comfortable. I thought I was here to take care of people and leave my own needs for some other loving soul to hopefully, prayerfully see, take pity on me, and take care of them for me. Now that I know I am responsible for taking care of my needs, not others’, I refuse to continue to let myself down.

There’s still a little girl inside of me. She is incredibly wounded and afraid. I have carried her with me all my life, yet, I have ignored her needs and wishes, in order to favor others. She couldn’t depend on anyone to meet her emotional needs. Sure, she was dressed nicely. She was fed, but she was also starving for real and unconditional love.

She needed care that just wasn’t offered. She was psychologically and emotionally beat down behind closed doors. She was lonely, and lived in survival mode, because back then, she had to. Not anymore. Now I get to care for this gem of a girl. I get to love her unconditionally. I get to accept her tears, her fears, her grief, her anger, and not just her love, her generosity and care because it feels better and suits me.

I accept her wholly. Little by little, I am gaining her trust, and whatever she does in my chest that makes it feel so uncomfortably tight, whatever she is doing that makes me feel like I am struggling to breathe at times, is lessening as I remember how to care for her.

That little girl will no longer need to sing those lyrics from a state of grief and desperation. If she sings it at all, she will sing it for the love of singing, because she has a beautiful voice. You should just hear her.