The No Caller ID Phone Call

If I thought the call on my screen were a bill collector I would just let it go to voicemail but unfortunately, I had seen this “no caller id” call a few other times and ignored so I figured I would answer it today in the car coming home from an errand. I am glad I did.

I answer, “this is Michelle,” my phone serving as both my personal and business cell. Hello, she says, I am calling to ask a few questions, I pause and think I know she doesn’t think she can start talking without telling me who she is.

She proceeds to tell me, “I am (the man’s name) wife. And I just had a baby! I literally could not breathe. This man is a pastor, we had great conversations, we have known each other a few years now, dare I call him one of my best friends that is a guy.

Sometimes the conversations go into what it would be like to be together, but nothing real serious. Last week (when his wife was giving birth) he told me his sister was in the hospital and had to be moved to ICU. Like wow, he asked me to pray for his sick sister in ICU to cover for what is really happening – HIS WIFE GIVING BIRTH!

Over the last three years, we (I say we but really it is “I”) have shared the ups and downs, pains and sorrows since I have known him. He knows two of my children well and has a special name for one of them even, and they know of him. I mean seriously they just think he is some cool guy that just happens to be pastor.

As I still sit in shock, I find it hard to focus on what I need to do, I am trying to find something good in this. I decided to make something good out of it by sharing it with the world. In sharing my hope is to perhaps move another woman to ask some hard questions, especially if you are single and have male friendships with potential, considering marriage, etc., in whatever case, if something just doesn’t feel right, LISTEN! The more he flirted with suggestive remarks about our relationship, the more I felt uncomfortable, at times, but recently the red flags were clearer or am I “woke” as they say! The louder the inside voice the more I pressed him recently about his life and future.

About a year ago, I became angry at his games and some of what he would share about his family life that sounded out of pocket to me, I never gave him my new number. Eventually we were back in touch after I called him to let him know I would be in town and by this time I was no longer dating someone. After about 6 months of an occasional phone call or hello, he called. We caught up and picked up where we left off.

During my travels, I would ask to meet up, but it seemed it was more comfortable for him to visit me then me going to him, another red flag. Considering too many red flags presenting themselves, I decided to tell him that we would discuss the future of our relationship after his sister was better.

Meanwhile, his wife is supposed to call me back and according to her, we were going to support each other. Um, no sweetie, we are not. Instead, I would highly recommend a therapist and not a pastor! A licensed therapist! I will also maintain that having been in a dysfunctional marriage, at best, for most of the 17 years I was married, that is likely the direction of their marriage given all this and many other concerns he and I discussed. It was all too very familiar to me. I am starting to grow very weary of the familiar!

Listen to yourself, what you need is within, just listen, perhaps we just don’t listen because most of the time we want what we want, this blinds and binds us.

It seems the best place to end is, to repeat as I repeat to myself, listen to yourself, all that we need is within. Perhaps we don’t listen because we want we want and or our issues blind us. My eyes are open, but my heart still trusts until I am shown otherwise and clearly the two don’t mix at times. There are times to bypass the emotions straight to thinking and logic. I am grateful that I am not as blind as I used to be. I am grateful that what happens in the dark is brought to the light…eventually…and if not in this life well that’s another blog post.

My take-aways –

I have no idea what to say! Maybe only that it is not a woman’s job to uphold a man to honor. I am not responsible for his actions. This is not a reflection on me. However, I am learning the law of attraction and attachments. (more on this later).

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Everyone Needs Some Power!

I could remember days thinking if I only had someone to call that is neutral and will tell me the truth but be kind and gentle. I mean the type of help that is not bossy or imposes their crap on me, etc. This is what a life coach can be. A life coach does not take the place of friends, family or even therapy. Instead, I view it as a supplement to what you may be already doing. If that is not the case, and you do not have support, I highly suggest a life coach or therapist.  

To paint the picture plainly, I liken it to vitamins. I used to hate when my mom would say, “that supplement will be more effective if you took it with this…so I took the other vitamin, then she would add another vitamin and before you knew it I would have a pile of vitamins on the counter that all had a specific purpose. While true, super annoying and it is super expensive!

It cost to take care of yourself. Not just monetarily but it costs time, emotional energy, creating intentions, mindfulness, and exercise to get all the chemicals working together and balanced in your body!

Hiring a life coach can be a pivotal shift in your next steps. I listen, I ask questions. Life coaches are not necessarily giving advice, we are not advice givers. All that you need is within, sometimes, we just need help rediscovering it. That is my role, to ask the right questions to help you rediscover what somehow got tucked away somewhere. There are many reasons why we compromise or ignore our conscience, nonetheless, we do and finding our way back to knowing ourselves and making decisions that are true to self is what coaching is all about.  

Personal power was a big one for me. It was that space where I constantly squashed my gut feelings and resigned myself to being agreeable for the sake of peace. While there is a place for peace and agreement, in my experience this was not a healthy response overall and wounded my spirit and self worth. I will never forget one couples counseling session and the counselor told me in front of my ex-husband that it is perfectly normal to desire personal power over areas in my life even while married. In this space, the space that I had permission, just like everyone else, despite my experience for 17 years in a difficult marriage…for the first time, in a long time I felt like I was given this space in time to experience a level of freedom and power. I felt of little value for so long in our marriage that I lost sight of my personal value regardless of my behavior or what anyone else thought of me.

When I began rediscovering my personal power I experienced so much freedom, l felt like a bird let out of its cage! I knew exactly where I wanted to go, what I wanted to do, and began that journey as soon as I was free! I hope this happens for you too!

Writing About Writing

I am an INTJ. Yep you got it, those are my results from the Myer-Briggs personality test. I am not so inclined to be with people, really, and I know that sounds mean. But I think that’s why I love words. The irony of this though is that my primary love language is quality time. I know… funny right! Well actually I think it’s really awesome – its kind of like the checks and balances of the judicial system – I actually feel somewhat balanced in what seems to be a dilemma!

This post isn’t about personality tests or love languages. It’s about my writing. I am still reading Soul Survivor, currently on the chapter about Frederick Buechner. I was so moved by this chapter that I must write.

At last Buechner had found a voice for his nonfiction. He need not be a theologian like his teachers at Union. He need not be a preacher of sermons. He could simply fashion stories and meaning out of the material of his own life, just as he already did in his fiction…all of them convey Buechner’s personal voice, his deliberate mining of subterranean strata for a hidden message of God. Like a beachcomber, he goes over and over the same patch of sand, seeking buried treasure.

That’s it. I don’t want to write devotions and I don’t want to sound preachy. I just want to tell you about my life, from my perspective, what I see of God, nature, and people. I just want to listen to my life, all the happenings of the day, connect the dots of that day to a prior one, and pull it all together to find meaning.

As a learner, with strengths in ideation and connectedness I am constantly observing the world around me, compiling my ideas about people and God to connect them together intuitively to eventually express in writing.

Knowing my strengths, personality traits and how I feel loved empowers me but I still have trouble with shyness, and putting my stuff out there for the whole world to see, literally!

Every writer must overcome shyness, putting out of mind the fear that we are being arrogant by thrusting ourselves upon you the reader, and egotistical assuming our words are worth your time. Why should you care about what I have to say? What right have I to impose myself on you?

That is exactly what I think.

In fact, I have a recent experience that exemplifies this well. I try to send an email out regularly to a few ladies who are part of my small group. We are studying the Names of God, so I like to stir us up a little and share a little something from the current “Name” we are studying. Well, I began my email in the normal fashion until I felt the Spirit prompting me to say something different. I wasn’t a fan at all about this prompting. So I began typing, starting with almost the same words quoted above, “you may not even read this or care to but I am going to say what I feel I should anyway.” It turns out one of the women woke up at 4 AM a few nights later and read the email and it was exactly what she needed to hear to pray herself back to sleep!

It is one thing to spill your own secrets, and quite another to spill someone else’s. Several times Buechner and I have discussed the occupational hazards of writing, especially the unavoidable wounds we inflict on people close to us.

This was exactly my initial reasoning for dismissing the slightest thought of writing my story. My story involves a lot of people, a lot of people who may not want “their business in the streets.” But I do remember when I began and as I look back at my second post, these were my exact words: don’t want to impose.

For this reason only late in his career did Buechner dredge up certain family secrets…Out of consideration for his mother, who jealously guarded family secrets, Buechner did not write directly of his father’s suicide for decades…Finally Buechner decided that he had as much right to tell his father’s story as his mother had to tell of her husband’s story and his memoirs began to probe the family tragedy.

I concluded that I had a story to tell from my perspective, fully aware I could wound some in the process, I took the risk and started writing. I have no regrets.

Why do we do it, we writers?…I think we do it because each of us has nothing else to offer than a living point of view that differentiates us from every other person on this planet. We must tell our stories to someone.

All quotes come Soul Survivor, by Phillip Yancey.

Notes to Self for 2015

I know we’re already in 2015 but that’s why I think my timing to write this is ideal because all the New Years resolution blog posts, status updates and tweets about new goals has decreased so now is the perfect time to reflect on the remainder of 2015.

First note to self: The greatest things come from the hardest places. And as much as I hate acknowledging this, its certainly easier to acknowledge in the quieter, sweeter times. Most of the hardest places in my life are being restored into beautiful places that I wouldn’t change for anything!

I am going to be in the present starting today is my second note to self. I just witnessed Xaviar (my first born, adult son) propose to his girlfriend on January 1st actually! When I think of all the ups and downs this quote from one of my favorite rappers (yep you heard it right, I listen to rap!) comes to mind: “it takes a moment to make a memory but a lifetime to forget it.” Whether good or bad, every moment is made up of choices. The marriage commitment was never intended to be broken, rather intended to demonstrate the greatest of loves. So I will be their biggest fan as they journey into new and exciting ground.  But while remaining committed to the future, I am learning this past year that being in the today is so cliche we forget it.

My third note to self comes from the experience of buying my first house: Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life. (Proverbs 13:10) I get that to some people this is the American dream we chase but for me it was representative of another place that God restored to me (more on this but for another time). Certainly I don’t put my hope in the house, or don’t think I am so hung up on earthly treasures that I am not willing to walk away from my “dream come true.”

It is true that you will NEVER go wrong waiting on God.

Words of wisdom from one of my mentors during a dark time: “walking though hard places with hard people demands holy resignation” is my fourth note to self. Waiting on a persons stubborn, hard heart to come around is so painful.

Forgiveness

Resigning alone is not godly. Love is proactive and intentional. But when resigning is holy I would say its where in submission we say, “Lord, I am not in control of when that person comes around or what that person does, I am angry and hurt, yes, but only you can turn their heart of stone into a heart of fleshI am going to carry on with my day knowing what I am responsible for and wait on you to convict and change that person’s heart.” 

One more thing to add to this, love and especially in the context of a difficult marriage, but any relationship really, I don’t think always means quietness. Loving confrontation is necessary. In order to break unhealthy, patterns and cycles, we have to be willing to see and call the baggage what it is. Sometimes, everyone involved is not so willing.

Perfect place for the fifth and final note to self: I am only responsible for how I respond. This has been a long learning process for me, one which I am pretty sure I am still working on. Growing up, somewhere along the way, I internalized I was on my own and the world and everyone in it was against me. I had to carry my own and as a result shut down mostly and resisted love in every way. The sick part is that I actually wanted to be loved. And it is Love that softens and restores us back to who we are.

In this process, I resented love, feared man, and controlled everything and everyone around me in order to keep everything at a safe distance. I made judgments using words like never and always. I will never let someone…, I always let…, I always have to…, They never…

Eventually, through the hardest places, I would discover that God uses people to love us, and that created in his image we are relational at our core – created for intimacy with people and him. Love is sincere, I had to be real about what I felt, what hurt, and my view or perspective along with the choices I made because I am responsible for how I respond to life – no excuses. Even though some of it may be the result of a difficult childhood, I am an adult now, I am responsible for what I do with what happened then and what is happening now.

When what happens now is the result of what happened then, I must own that fact or hurt I am faced with, and do something about it, if its in my power to do so. If not then I must espouse the holy resignation attitude and wait on the Lord to work out his perfect plans and purposes.