My goal this upcoming year is to stay focused on the here and now. This year I’m taking the philosophy of Edna Mode, the fictitious designer of superhero costumes in the Incredibles.
I’m going Mode mode. Renee a la Mode. Ok. Enough.
Her sentiment about “never looking back” is fantastic but that can be hard when you’ve got a lot of life to look back on. Staying in the present requires changes that keep me in the right frame of mind. Facebook contacts may have to be blocked or less contact made with negative people, but I have to do whatever I can to remain on the upward track. I feel the tug from above to face forward and keep my emotions from getting tied up with the past.
I don’t mean to sound weird or schizophrenic, but all of us have an inner voice. The voice that tells us it’s time to move on and start a new chapter. The voice that warns us in our gut about dangerous people. That gut feeling, Malcolm Gladwell calls it the Blink moment.
For me, after having my gut check, it is time to leave some things behind. I talk a lot on this blog about spiritual awareness, and the hardest thing for me to let go of in 2018 was the comfort of a church home. I had to face that there may be loneliness and uncertainty, but I could feel it was time. Since my church homies were people who had been a constant part of my life for 35 years, letting go was difficult. Probably hour for hour, I spent more time with these people than my relatives. I was a teenager when I became a part of their denomination. I never questioned what I was taught and was a great supporter of their teaching. I sat at the bedside of their people and held the hands of those suffering, went to their parties, birthdays, funerals, weddings and attended their services faithfully.
But often, as in any relationship, when you start to see disturbing things it may be time to take the good that you learned, move on and not look back. I realized that holding on and trying to fix what I saw would leave my ministry and personal goals unaccomplished. The relationship was not working for my life anymore.
One person from my church asked me what was I doing now. I told them “ I was working on myself.” I do wonder whether the person understood the significance of learning the answer to the great question “who am I.” In my conservative circles, it seemed to be something that was not important.
As a Christian, I’m conscious of my spiritual life. My life walking with God. I was drowning just going to church and not really being able to function in areas that were a vital part of my ministry. Views had changed about women leaders, views had changed about the role of ministers, and for a long time, I wasn’t sure what God would have me to do.
I believe that at the beginning of creation, God breathed a part of himself into mankind (Genesis 2:7) and whether we know it or not, there’s a subconscious way we pick up the truth. I have to learn to listen to that voice.
Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. John 16:13
There’s no way to know all truth and all things to come. This knowledge certainly has to come to us through the guidance of the holy spirit.
I know that inner voice, most of us do, but I didn’t always listen to it or do anything about it. Usually, because I got caught up with staring at the problems surrounding the obvious conclusions. I felt conflicted about the hows and whys of following that voice. I over analyzed instead of moving and would get analysis paralysis. Sometimes the paralysis lasted years. What should I do Lord?
For example, have you ever gotten a bad vibe from someone and then down the road, you find out that the weird feeling you had, had been accurate? I’m sure it’s’ happened to you.
Why don’t we accept that initial tug?
For me, it was because I didn’t want to make a mistake. I tried to be forgiving, kind and non-judgemental. Yet, when it’s clear that the bad vibe is not just a feeling, you have to move forward even when you love people. I wanted to move forward in love.
That’s possible you know.
To move away from a situation and hold no grudges. Why? Because you’re not trying to change anyone. You’ve let them be who they are, and you’ve accepted who they are, but you’ve also realized that being close is not good for your life.
Part of spiritual awareness is being able to listen to that inner voice in time enough to do something about it.
I want to get past the “something told me” phase and start paying attention. Things I’m sure about in my gut. I had lost trust, and I tried to get it back. I even asked God to give it back to me, only to have God tell me that I had a feeling but not the truth of the matter.
Wow. How many times in relationships have people been there? You see something off about the person, but you’ve put in investments of emotion and time. To give up all that time and effort away seems a waste. But it’s also a waste to stay in the relationship that’s dragging you down.
I’m learning to be the protagonist is my own story and not the villain all the time.
I refuse to take the blame for protecting my spiritual welfare. I am learning to be more comfortable with myself and more forgiving. At, least as forgiving as Christ is to me.
One big lesson for me in 2018. I decided to stop being a hero. No more capes flapping in the wind trying to save the day. Too often, people come to the “heroes” and complain about conditions on the job, or at church or in their home. If these people notice you have a hero complex or courage to fight, (stupid courage by the way), they may push you into the center ring but then go hide out at the concession stand. You may be used by the wrong people.
If I go to the center stage to fight, it’s because I’ve walked there on my own, and not because I feel pushed.
One time, a person complained to my husband about church politics being rampant and told him “you can tell them I said it.” Well, my husband took him at his word, when the time was right he mentioned him. Why? Because it meant actual support, an actual incident, a witness to what was happening. The complainer said, ”oh no, why did you mention my name?!” You told me I could. “I didn’t want you to actually tell them…” sigh.
People often want you to take on causes they are not willing to fight for themselves.
More often than not I was a sucker for a crusade. If there was a cause, I was ready for battle. I’ve always been like that. Truth and Justice. I think that’s what drew me to my church in the first place. They talked a lot against falseness in the religious world. In fact, my children are like that. If something is not right, they get incensed about injustice and unfairness. But people like us can’t always be in search of the holy grail. Why?
First, people complain to folks like us, the crusaders, but at the same time, they ’re very comfortable where they are, happy with their positions and really don’t want to change a thing. There are people, usually lazy people who don’t care about any issues at all but will use you for their own cause and to further their own ends. You’re just a pawn to them. I’d been used and spiritually abused and taken advantage of because I wanted to do the right thing. But I’m not ashamed of that it’s who I am. I just trusted people because of their positions.
There are times I must refuse to be a hero for other people’s causes.
2019 will be the year of NO CAPES!
A Pastor who had a burden for church unity asked me if I wanted to help him. He was trying to get some pastors to start cooperating with one another. Noble cause. I applauded his efforts, but for me, I said “Nope” not doing it, because I knew it was a lost cause. I hated to rain on his parade. I knew all the players involved and was not wasting my time. He was a Pastor in a Pastor’s world and still could not get cooperation. I had enough of trying to work with people who were pretending to follow the bible. No Capes! My desire to fix my denomination was very much like a person who is in a relationship, and they realize this relationship is damaging to their mental health and life, but they keep giving their partner chances they don’t deserve. They keep trying to fix the un-fixable. You think maybe if the person went to therapy our relationship would be great, but the person keeps saying that they’re fine. So your best bet is to move on. That pastor as of this writing has not been not successful in his efforts. I applaud him though.
It took me a long time to realize that some people want heroes and others try to be heroes. Folks would tell me horrible things that went on in my church, and since I was an Elder, I guess they thought I could actually do something. They didn’t realize the whole system had changed and unless you were a pastor, or a pastor with a big church, or connected with certain pastors, or someone they liked, you would not be taken seriously.
There’s no reason to be angry at people and wonder why they are n’t better, more compassionate, better listeners, more honest. That’s not my concern. I spent years trying to fix things and people. I realized that often the same people who complained about the conditions weren’t willing to do that much about it themselves, they just hoped I would. Unfortunately, they were talking to a police officer who had a uniform but no badge. It was like a sheriff riding around with no siren. No power to do anything. They didn’t realize the whole system had changed, and the checks and balances that God put in place were gone and swallowed up by groups and cliches. How sad.
Many men and women struggle once they discover and accept the real character of an individual. People always try to put their best foot forward. People will always try to appear 10x better than what they really are, always. It’s in the human genome.
How many times do we have to see the lousy character of a person to make a judgment about whether this person should be a part of our life?
As I go into the new year, I’m determined to accept people for who they really are, the first time, and move on with my life. No Capes allowed.