It Feels Personal

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I posted this on my Facebook page and received many comments and likes but I also received quite a few private messages with stories from women who were trying to learn not to take things personally. This was coming on the heels of the  Kelly Clarkson body-shaming tweets so I thought I’d respond with what I’ve learned.

First off, there are mean people out there. They have no filter. They mask it under the, “I just say what I think you know? I’m just being honest.”, only their honesty is aimed as the knife that stabs you to your core, and remember this, their honesty only pertains to the output not the input. In other words speak the truth to them and it’s WAR. Not everything needs to be said but so often we think what we have to say is important, because it is important to us. No one is exempt from this not even me, hence this post.

Compound that with the phenomenon of social media where because we can’t see the hurt look on someone’s face it is easy to blast people. These are your typical pounce and flounce people at a new level. I have a friend who seldom replies to online posts because she says the attacks begin immediately and sadly she is right.

So how do we not take things personally when they seem so personal? My husband taught me a great trick I’m going to pass on to you. He said,

“If they have nothing nice to say about anyone, and they talk about everyone then it isn’t personal. If they don’t say nice things about even those they love then they aren’t going to say nice things about you. It isn’t personal, it’s just how they are.” 

“If they don’t have problems with others but they have problems only with you, then it’s personal to them not to you. They have things that need to be worked out and they need to grow up and come to you about the issue.”

Listen, you’re not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. Friendships happen with like-minded people. Leave it at that. I often hear people say, and I’ve said it myself,  the solution is to go and confront the person but the problem with that is that those who talk behind your back never say it to your face so oftentimes my experience has been that  I’ve gone to the person and asked if there is an offense because I’ve heard such and such from so and so, I get the standard answer of nothing is wrong it was a misunderstanding, and more often than not, the pattern continues.

So here is a pattern that I chose to live my life by, and so far it’s working, so let me post it and hopefully help you.

I no longer take it personally. The comments, the blasts, the opinions, come from people who don’t know me. It’s okay. Those comments and opinions don’t pay my bills nor do they pour my cup of coffee in the morning. I have a choice to snuggle with those opinions in bed at night or kick them to curb. I choose to boot them out of my life. I hope you’ll try it because you’ll find your life is a lot less messy.

A Mother’s Heart

dailymail.uk
dailymail.uk

I watch with interest as thousands of children arrive at our border. While the pundits on both the left and the right argue and do nothing but fight for political gain, I can’t help but be saddened. For us and for them.

I see a hopeless parent put their child on a train to cross borders of countries illegally in hopes of a promise. Perhaps the child will die in transit but for a parent it is better than the life they can provide. As a citizen in a country where we don’t even let our child play outside alone, let alone talk to strangers this must be heart-wrenching.

Oh, we can demonize the parent if it makes us feel better because parents of children from other countries can’t possibly love their children as much as we do. We can say it’s a political ploy and these are nothing more than pawns, and we are correct they are pawns, only the more we dehumanize children the easier it is for us to make snap judgment.

And they have lice and diseases, and we have lice and diseases, only we have access to a drug store and vaccinations and money and we clean up well and they don’t. And they send gang members and children who are incorrigible and we have gang members and children who are incorrigible in big cities sent to live with relatives in smaller towns, but somehow we measure more worthy because our poor children are a product of the lack of opportunity and a system that isn’t fair, oh wait, is that them or us? Are they simply pawns of human traffickers? If they are then what? And while we create a chasm of difference we forget that a parent sent this child on the road, and may never see them again, knowing the danger and risking their own child’s life a parent dared to hope. And what was Moses’ mother’s name because I seem to recall her story?

Your political view says I am naive, and I get why you think so! We have a messed up immigration system and people take advantage and draw unemployment on fake social security numbers and live in welfare housing undeserved and feel entitled and commit crimes and while yes, that is a real problem and I don’t like it, until you change a political system that is broken down, there will be no remedy. However I trust in a higher court, and in that court the people who cheat, lie, and steal, will have an end that will not be profitable for life despite their religious affiliation, but in the meantime a mother has sent her child across countries to find hope. And while I don’t have solutions I have compassion. “Send them to Mexico”, is the cry I heard and despite Mexico’s screams for immigration reform in the United States, Mexico does not care for the immigrant. They don’t provide medical care or education. They are country who screams for the United States to have compassion while I have seen none from them. A poverty mentality only looks after their own. So their doors are shut.

And the words of TD Jakes run through my heart in this time, “Where money rules there can be no justice”, I wonder if these parents would have sent their children away if they had not been desperate? For you see, despite America’s problems, we are still a beacon of hope. The Taliban targets us because they say we are the bearers of the cross and if that is so, then we must bear our cross. I have a Mother’s Heart and that heart keeps saying; There is parent out there that is desperately missing their child. They may never see each other again, or our government may send them back, the jury is still out. But we have a parent who thought, I can endure heartbreak and send my child away, or we can sit here until we die.

The Selfie-ish Generation

Duck Face Diva? This woman may never be out of the internet spotlight thanks to her memorable mugshot --> http://abc30.tv/1nqxDTI
Duck Face Diva?
This woman may never be out of the internet spotlight thanks to her memorable mugshot –> http://abc30.tv/1nqxDTI

 

I stepped out and said it. I did. I posted on my Facebook page that I was proud of Pastor Rob Cox, who pastors a group of young adults training for ministry at his church A Place Of Refuge, for all that he is doing. I also commended him for making a rule of no selfies for the seminary students.

I swim upstream here. I know I do. I don’t mind an occasional selfie. A profile pic, a picture on vacation, but I have an issue with the obsession of it.

Romans 7:9 I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died.

Matthew Henry’s commentary on this scripture says:

Paul describes himself as in sensible of the corruption of his nature till he saw himself in the glass of the law (Rom. 7:9 ): “I was alive without the law; that is, I took all to be right with me, and thought myself not only clean, but, compared with the generality of the world, beautiful too; but when the commandment came, when the glass of the law was set before me, then sin revived, and I died —then I saw my spots and deformities, and discovered that amiss in myself which before I was not aware of; and such was the power of the law, and of sin, that I then perceived myself in a state of death and condemnation.’’ Thus, when we attend to the word of God, so as to see ourselves, our true state and condition, to rectify what is amiss, and to form and dress ourselves anew by the glass of God’s word, this is to make a proper use of it.

There is this look at me mentality that we need to overcome. All of us. And I’m not the only voice speaking. In an article by Stephen Miller True Worship in a Selfie World he writes:

This is the world in which we live, the world of the selfie.

The world where people take something that is not about them and make it about them through the lens of their camera.

Grown men pose with their best “Blue Steel” smolder while the tip of Paris’s breath-taking Eiffel Tower protrudes from the side of their heads like a tiny, awkwardly placed steel horn.

Teenage girls attempt their cutest look while a singular stone column of Rome’s ancient, awe-inspiring Colosseum is barely visible in the background.

We are not seeing the world through their eyes so much as seeing their eyes blocking the world.

And there is my point. I want to see the world through your eyes when I’m talking to you. Facebook is considered a one on one conversation with your closest friends. It’s the new water cooler meeting, the new breakroom chatter. I want to read about what you see in the world. I want to read about your thoughts on current events. I want to know what you think about issues that face our world. I want to read about how you are working in your area of ministry. As my friend Adrienne Piasta says, “tell me something good”. So I take the time to read my newsfeed and day after day I read, “I love myself.” Well, that’s great. I’m truly happy for you, the first 10 times, but after awhile I want to know if there is anything else going on around you? I want to know if you care about others? I want to know what you have going on today. I want to know about your goals. I want to know what you’re reading, what you’re learning, that you need prayer or you’re stuck in traffic and need a misery buddy for an hour. I love you, I think you are beautiful, but you don’t need constant approval….

Or do you?

 

So, I honor Pastor Rob Cox who is trying to change a generation’s view. I honor the Apostle Paul who said and I paraphrase, “I thought I looked okay until I looked in the mirror of the Word of God and then I realized there is a bigger picture.”

Stephen Miller ends his article perfectly:

May we all resist the temptation to fill the frame with our face, but rather fill our minds with his eternal glory, and never stop repeating the refrain of John 3:30:

“He must increase. I must decrease.”
“He must increase. I must decrease.”
“He must increase. I must decrease.”

 

Men Don’t Matter

What a lie we have been given.

If you haven’t read Part 2 click here.

As women, born of this generation in America, we have this ideal of a single mother that while true for some is not true for most. We can buy a house without a man, we earn our own income and for some we earn more than the man in our life. For some women who are not interested in equality in a marriage, often because of their own daddy issues, this becomes the seat of power in which we devalue a man and emasculate him to show our power. This has nothing to do with love and everything to do with pride.

We can buy a car, we have great credit and we can afford to do so. We can pay for private school, camp, medical care, and trips to amusement parks. This is the picture of a single mom. Only that usually isn’t the case. Many single moms struggle to make ends meet. Often have more month than money left at the end of their payday, and life isn’t this happy place they thought it would be. They get up early to get their children ready for school, lunches packed, themselves ready. They work hard to get the laundry and dinner and homework finished while they are dogged tired. They make grocery lists and hope there is enough money for the food they need to buy. They make pancakes for dinner at the end of the month because sometimes that’s all there is. They don’t get to go and have spa days or go with friends to have a nice dinner because it isn’t in the budget.

And no matter how much we try and no matter how much advances in technology and medicine we make:

A woman can’t be a father.

 

No matter how much we try to fill the void of a male influence we can’t do it. We’re failing miserably statistically. Our children are missing out whether we want to admit it or not. Sure, there are statistics of moms who raised incredible people on their own but they don’t outweigh the statistics of those who can’t. I have a saying,

“A woman can do it all. She just can’t do it all at once.”

So while we’re busy earning a buck and climbing a corporate ladder, our children are missing out on a critical component of a family. In their mind, they are learning that they may have to go it alone that one day, they too may be called to raise children on their own because families may or may not be sustained.

So let’s throw the lie out. Let’s begin a discussion with young women about how valuable they are and how we need to make better choices in the men we choose to father our children. Let’s talk about working on our marriage before they are broken and let’s talk about marriage before babies. I know it sounds counter-culture and I know it it will sound sexist and it will be met with push back and name calling but I’m okay with that. And here is why: Watch this video and tell me daddies aren’t important. Watch this video and tell me that she has someone else who fills this void in her life regardless of who her daddy is. Tell me that these daddies are not necessary. Tell me that she isn’t affected.

“When he does time, she does time.”

 

I’m okay with the being an unpopular voice if a child gets an active, involved, worthwhile, father. I’m okay with the term baby daddy being thrown out of our vocabulary. Because it was never meant to be there in the first place.

I Changed My Mind

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My husband and I took a drive to the beach to sit on the sand, enjoy the sun and read a book on our day off. It was a hot day and there were children playing in the waves of all ages. As I glanced at them I noticed something. Each child had a personal lifeguard. There were blankets on the beach and coolers and bags but they were empty because all of the caretakers were on duty. I saw mostly mommies but there were dads and grandparents as well.

Such a strange dichotomy between that scene and a 20/20 episode I watched recently about moms moving out and choosing to be non-custodial parents click here. One mother said she didn’t want to to do the bath and bedtime routine. One mother moved states away and Skyped in to speak to her children. Her middle child, a daughter, took care of feeding and getting her little down syndrome brother ready for school. Dad was there and the family was coping. At first I went into judgment mode, “What?!! Who does this?!!” Then I stopped and thought, she is doing what fathers have been doing for decades. I am outraged either way, maybe I understand it less because I am a mother or a woman I don’t know but I do know that it seems incomprehensible for a parent to leave their child.

The mothers were in new relationships, didn’t know if they had ever really wanted children, but knew they didn’t want the daily interaction of it. I get that actually. I remember once in a particularly frustrating day I announced, “That’s it, I’m running away from home.” Casey who was 4 at the time said, “Wait, mommy! Let me get my shoes on, I’ll run away with you.” I laughed and went on with my day. But what if I had been serious as apparently these mothers were?

The women made the argument that men had been doing it forever and they wouldn’t be judged as harshly as the women were. I just can’t go there. Children need their parents mother and father. They don’t get to change their mind.

One mother when asked if she loved her children more than herself answered, “Should a mother love her children more than herself?” I guess I think we should.

Regret

GettingStrong

Maybe only some really feel regret for the hell they gave their mother (and father) and maybe that’s because only a few ever really rebel.

ME: “Geez Mom, just think if someone would have told you when I was 16 that I’d turn out to be your good kid.”

Mom: Laughing, “I’d have said, ‘Just shoot me now’.”

We had a great laugh over that one. Her heart has been restored towards me. Not that she ever turned from me, just that I deeply disappointed her in those, “I know more than you do years”.

On Mother’s Day as my kids checked in, I was happy to hear from them. We went to church in the morning, my oldest child preached a great word where his sermon confessed to the whole church that I spanked him with a shoe when he was six,( it’s a Latina thing, don’t judge).  We came home had lunch, watched TV and dozed and then the kids were on their way home.

I was scrolling through Facebook when I saw that Eminem had released an apology to his mother in a new video called Headlights. I don’t know why I clicked but I did, not sure what to expect. When I watched it and listened to the words, I wept. Wept for the times I disappointed my mother, wept for the times I disappointed my children, wept for children who are estranged from their family and who are wasting valuable time being angry. I wept for the single moms who have to work so super hard to be a mother and a father. Her children carry hero worship of a father who vanishes, takes no responsibility, but steps up to take credit, and whose love and acceptance her children desperately yearn for. It’s easy to beat up the one who is your constant, she’s usually a safe bet. She’ll love you anyway. I wept because her children don’t know her pain. They don’t understand the mistakes she’s made and the way she beats herself up. I don’t judge those women who turn to drugs and drinking really. They are masking their pain and sometimes there are things so deeply painful that they don’t always recover. I do understand the pain it causes her children.

I watched the video as his mother tried to drive up to his house to see him and how she was refused and how deeply saddened she must have felt, and although I don’t pretend to know their history or story that prompted that video, I heard the regret of a son. I’ve never seen the movie 8 Mile, I have heard the song Cleaning Out My Closet. I felt their pain in that scene. In our youth we say such foolish things that we often regret later, we do such crazy things that sometimes we don’t get to recover from. Imperfect parents create that.

So tonight as I pray, I pray for recovery. I pray for reconciliation. I pray for sooner rather than later. I pray for time, that it not be too late. I pray for parents everywhere and their children. It seems according to the video I saw today that Eminem was loved as best as a mother who couldn’t fully love. I saw his realization of that. It wasn’t enough then. It isn’t enough now, I only hope they are able to reconcile and that they can build a beautiful life together with what is left. I won’t post the video here, nor the lyrics, it has very strong language which may offend some readers, so I warn you of that in advance. I overlooked that to hear his heart and it broke mine. Sometimes lessons and blog posts come from unexpected places.

What I Am Not

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Perhaps, when you and other girls hear bossy, you can think of leadership. Perhaps, bossy could mean someone has an opinion and is comfortable sharing it with other people. Bossy could mean someone has a plan, that someone is bold. Bossy could mean that someone is the boss, a leader!~ Helen Drinan 

There is this movement to ban the word bossy. I’m not a fan. My second grade report card stated, “Susan is extremely bossy…” The grades were straight up good. I received the award for most outstanding student, most outstanding reader, most outstanding in math. Here’s what I remember about my second grade teacher. She spoke very broken English and it was very hard to understand her. I remember asking her to repeat herself many times. I was also a rule follower. She would make a rule and then when children weren’t following it, she’d become exasperated and yell and throw chalk, but never followed through on her point system. So I’d remind her. Someone had to. The black and white thinker that I am was already formed at this age. If you said that you’d take points away if we misbehaved, then I took you at your word and felt that you should.

Bossy doesn’t bother me. Female leaders are often deemed bossy but my thought is hey someone has to be the leader. I can get things done, I work very well with others. All that being said, when my mother read the teacher’s comment to me and asked me about it, she smirked. I think she’s always been understanding of the bossy girl that was born to her. I remember explaining the issues to her. She told me to try to get along with her. I do not remember the term bossy hurting my self esteem nor making me feel less than. I know myself and I know what I am not. I am not a usurper, meaning I don’t seize power,  and I am not emotional. When this teacher would yell and throw chalk I would just watch her and try to understand why she couldn’t take control of her class. I would raise my hand and ask why she didn’t use the point system and write our names on the board. Then she would break chalk on the chalkboard writing all of our names on the board. Obviously she wasn’t bossy.

Here is where the misunderstanding of the word comes in. Men are not called bossy and weak men are intimidated by a woman who know what she wants and knows how to lead. I would never be able to married to a weak man. He would not be an equal and it would be frustrating. My husband is an easy-going, super nice guy but he is anything but weak. Everything I do in our life is discussed with him and I get the okay before I move. E V E R Y T H I N G. Some things are discussed longer than others but ultimately his no is no and his no is honored. He is great about directing me. I am heard and he explains why an idea is a go or not. We work well together because he is a visionary but I am a detailer. So when he gives me an idea, I can make it happen.

Where women like me clash is with the personality of what I call the Bull in the China Shop kind of man. They run around barking orders, and puffing themselves up. They lead by bullying. Bossy and Bullies clash. This is why women in politics and female executives get such a bad rap for the most part. I’ll let that sit.

Getting rid of the word bossy will do absolutely nothing about personality types. We need to focus on directing those bossy second graders to greatness.