She’s A Brick House

I heard something the other day about bricks as they specifically apply to walls. The comment was made about the theoretical brick walls we all erect in our souls in order to protect us from pain, hurt, sorrow, disappointment, and just plain icky-ness in life. But the way the comment was made struck me like, well, a brick wall.

“Walls keep our hurts inside,” was the comment.

Inside? No. That’s not how it works. We keep those things outside. But the thought wouldn’t leave my brain and soon my epiphany of the day finally occurred.

I began to watch, listen and learn from conversations around me. People often times harbor deep, horrible, life-altering pain inside their souls. But to face those hurts is unimaginable and even more painful than the original cause of said pain. So instead of keeping future, unknown hurts out, people are keeping them in, nestled safely behind a strong brick wall, not easily torn down. No blowhard, big bad wolves will get to these walls.

I began to think about what my internal hurts and sorrows and disappointments look like, but when I tried to put a name to them, I found discomfort. A lot of discomfort. This was definitely not my happy place.

I faced them, however, with not a little trepidation, and tried to list the biggies:

A. Rejection: he didn’t fight for me and I was left alone and empty.
B. Loneliness: I miss him, dammit!
C. Regret: What if….? Why did I….? Why didn’t I…..?
D. Anger: how dare he?
E. Self loathing: I’m a mess…who would want me? I’m fat, ugly, my life is a disaster, I’m in debt, and my house is one mess away from being an episode of “Hoarders.”

I mean seriously….those are just the biggies! I didn’t even touch on the little ones.

I came to the conclusion that no one is exempt from the brick wall of avoidance. We all do it. #thestruggleisreal makes a ton more sense to me when filtered through this scope.

I have heard many things about divorce recovery: “It takes 5 years to recover from a divorce” and “it takes half the time you were together to recover from a divorce.” I am 2.5 years post divorce. So in the instance of the first statement, I am halfway there. In the second timetable, I’ve got hell of a long way to go. Half of 18 years is 9. Not to mention the 2 we were together before marriage.

My point is this: I think that until I begin tearing my brick wall down from the inside, brick by brick, I will be, in essence, trapped by my own pain.

I can’t do that. No more. I want to move forward and to heal. I have healed a lot, but this epiphany seems to suggest the next phase in my healing process will take some heavy lifting on my part.

She’s a brick house, indeed. She’s got lots of bricks to repurpose into a new house.

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Webs and Flows

If you have ever sat in silence on a beach and did nothing but contemplate the ocean waves rolling ashore across the sand, you will notice many things.

First, every wave is unique.  Each one is like a fingerprint and the ocean has millions upon millions of unique fingerprints.  No two are alike.  Some are gentle and have very little break, while others break quickly and come ashore full of noise, froth and movement.  In specific spots on the planet, there are waves that are giant sea monsters, taking on a life of its own, growing taller than some multi-story buildings, and curling back in on itself to form a pipeline.  Personally, I prefer the gentle, quiet ones that cause little disruption and are beautiful in their simplicity.

The next thing you might notice about the ocean is that it is a moving force.  If you look further than the breaking waves on shore, out in the distance, you will notice swells, peaks and valleys that never quite fully form into the waves their counterparts eventually become.  It’s like a pan of liquid coming to a “rolling boil.”  While not much happens on the surface, it is obvious that much is happening below.  It is awe-some and not a little terrifying.

Lastly, the most obvious part of the ocean waves are the aftermath.  The receding water comes sweeping in with majestic and powerful force, after building up for perhaps several miles, then just as suddenly as it breaks into a wave, it is gone, taking most of what it covered back out to sea:  shells, trash, toys, jewelry, clothing, and the occasional sea life.  Sometimes, too, the waves leave gifts upon the shore, gifts from other parts of the sea that have been swept out, taken from one place and deposited in a different location altogether.

Mostly, waves sweep landward, destroying sand castles and erasing words written in the sand by playful beach-goers.  There is nothing left.  Nothing, that is, but the sand.

The sand has a magical quality about it of just swallowing up the water, reforming into a flat surface and never giving up any of the secrets formerly imprinted there.

So many times I wish my life were like the sand:  constantly wiped clean and rid of all the detritus that clutters my days (and my house!).  I could start with a fresh slate with every single wave.  But what would I lose?

I would lose the memory of happier times, the joy of current moments and the lessons learned along the way:  essentially, I’d be trapped in a “Groundhog Day” web, never able to escape and move on. The more I would struggle to free myself from the strands of repetition, the tighter their grasp would become. I would wither from lack of sustenance–experiences that would help me grow–and eventually cease to exist. How altogether unpleasant.

The other day I walked along the beach at sunset. The sand was almost not visible for all the shells covering its surface. The waves washed over those shells leaving them sparkling in the waning sunlight and making them appear new and fresh.

I stopped, mesmerized by the picture at my feet. The sand was literally buried beneath a layer of shells. Imagine each one of those shells as a different life experience. Some of them are perfect and whole, without blemish, chip or discoloration. But look closely at the picture. Most are damaged with holes, cracks, divots, stains, and missing pieces. Many are simply fragments of what once was beautiful. I found many pieces of what I knew were once stunning displays of sea life. And diving head first into cliche-land, I identified absolutely with those shattered pieces more than with the beautiful, whole and perfect shells.

I am such a broken creature, with chips, cracks, missing pieces, and edges worn down by repeated bashing of the waves. And yet, like those shells, I am beautiful. I don’t always believe it and often times I see the exact opposite of beauty when I look at myself. But the truth is undeniable.

There is beauty in brokenness. The web that entangles my life also creates something so ethereal and so precious.

It creates me.

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Righteous Indignation

Have you ever known, just known, in the very depths of your soul that you are right?  That your stance is the correct one, the moral one, the righteous one?  Have you ever experienced utter befuddlement that those closest to you just don’t get it?  

This sensation has consumed me for quite some time.  I have seen relationships damaged deeply, I have seen love tarnished and jaded, and I have witnessed rejection and hurt.  There is no way I am wrong.  I know I am right.  

Or am I?  

I begin to wonder if I am too close to the situation to fully grasp all the ins and outs.  But on the other hand, perhaps so is everyone else.  I refuse to allow anyone else the same luxury of righteous indignation that I have granted myself.  You cannot have both parties in opposition to each other and both of them be right!  Can you?

I see no clear answer to that conundrum and I worry about the outcome.  But the issue is so complex that even resolution of this aspect leaves many unanswered questions, many hurts to be addressed, and conversations I really would rather never have.  

Can’t we all just get along?

I am told that love and concern are integral to the opposite side of my barrier fence.  I have been told that others want the best resolution.  But it is so hard to accept that.  To swallow my pride and admit it might be true.

To forgive.

There is a trite saying that swept the Christian world like wildfire for several years:  WWJD.  What would Jesus do?  It was printed on t-shirts, jewelry, artwork, bible covers, stationary, and gum, mints and candy!  I always wanted to say in response:  Well, for starters, I highly doubt Jesus would chew gum and say “Aha!  Who’s ready for wine?”  

But putting commercialism aside, it begs a difficult question.  What would Jesus do in this instance?  How would he respond?  If my purpose in life as a Christian is to become as Christ-like as possible, then I should be asking myself this question every single day.  But I don’t.  Partly because I just don’t think about it.  But perhaps more importantly, because I don’t want to know the answer.  

Jesus might say, “Lynette, you need to swallow your pride, get off your high horse, step down from your soap box,  and walk a few feet in someone else’s shoes.  Then ask that question again.”

The thing is, I really don’t like the taste of my pride.  It is bitter and disgusting.  My horse is about 24 hands high and if I try to hop down, I might just break one of my aging, potentially brittle bones.  And what in the world is a soap box?  I guess it implies standing above others, lording over the lesser masses that my opinion is the only opinion.  And yes, you may all kiss my hand now in grateful adoration for bestowing said opinion upon you.  

When I step back, it is truly a bitter pill to swallow:  forgiveness is really hard to do.  Asking for forgiveness is even harder.  My stance might be the correct one.  The opposite side might be the correct one.  Most likely, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.  

I wonder if that is why God created compromise:  to force people to step away from their staunchly protected fortress and step into neutral territory.  If I leave my weapons on my side of the fence, and, hopefully, the others will do the same, we might find some common ground in between.  And there might just be room for all of us to stand.  Together.

I looked up the etymology of the word righteous.  It stems from an Old English phrase that literally meant “right” and “wise; having wisdom; prudent,” or “wise ways.”   

Wise ways.  Which way will I go?  

My way?  Or the wise, right way?

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You Really Put Your Foot In It Now

I love a freshly painted room, with rearranged or new furniture and decor.  I love the feeling that I just stepped off the set of a reality makeover tv show, and that my old room has transformed into something spectacular.  I also happen to be pretty good at painting.  I can trim a ceiling and baseboards in nothing flat, and painters tape?  Puh-leaze.  That’s for amateurs.   

Years ago, I was taught by a family member who was a painter by trade, that the best way to paint was to buy quality tools from the outset and that would save me time, effort and money in the long run.  Quality, in this case, equates to pricey.  But, I figured, he must know what he’s doing since his business is quite successful, and I gave it a shot.  I bought lambs wool, high nap rollers and the finest paint brushes.  And what happened?  He was right!  

The first room I painted with my new tools spurred me onward and before long, I was painting every single room in our first home.  After that, I became the “go-to” painter and painted a lot of rooms, in my homes and in my family members’ homes.  

In my current house, I have lived for close to 2 years with the previous owner’s gashes,  holes, and damage because I didn’t really have the time to repair the walls myself.  A couple months ago, I finally had the walls repaired so I could paint them myself.  My house was a shambles as I tried to squeeze in work, a social life, and a mini-vacation.   I finally buckled down this week and started in on the project.  I got the first three walls finished, and finally got my house back to a semblance of normal.  Last night I just stood smiling and enjoying the finished product.  I love my new color.  It lightens my house up considerably.  I love the freshness of it all.  And I relish the fact that I now have no giant gaps, holes and damage in my walls anymore.  But, it did not come without some issues.  

On Tuesday, I deftly painted sections of my ceiling trim at a time, perched precariously upon a ladder.  As I climbed down the ladder to move it and repeat the process on the next section, I focused on each step to ensure no chance of me falling…and I stepped right into the pan of paint. 


In the past, I would have been shocked, outraged and generally ticked off, trying to find someone, anyone to blame for my misfortunes.  But the moment I stepped into that cool, velvety liquid, I looked at my painted toes and instantly saw the ridiculousness of the situation.  

And I Laughed Out Loud.  

It felt good!  It’s been so long since I’ve been able to laugh at myself very much, because there hasn’t been much of myself worth laughing about.  But I tell you what…it was as refreshing and uplifting as the new color on my freshly repaired walls.  I coudln’t miss the parallels to my life.   

I have been putting my foot in “it” for so long now, that I was getting used to the darkness and dreariness of “it.”  But seeing the light, joyful color as it dripped between my chubby toes, I thought, “well isn’t that a nice change?!” 

I am determined to laugh at myself more.  Because I hope there is more to laugh at in my soul.  There is only one bad thing about the paint…

It definitely looks better on my walls.

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My Little Black Book

Little black books have such a bad reputation.  They have become synonymous with players, swingers, or anyone who strolls through life collecting names and numbers of individuals they plan to use and easily discard.  There are no emotional attachments to the names,  nothing permanent that strikes at the heart of the owner of said book.  Oh, perhaps, memories of a particular night with a particular person might strike an emotional chord and elicit a brief reaction, but mostly, there are no long-term connections.  The goal of the book is quantity, rather than quality.

I, too, have a little black book.  Well, actually, it’s flowery and has cute little woodland creatures on the cover, but it still is the receptacle for things I gather.  Several months ago I began collecting inspirational quotes, bible verses, and things I’d read.  A person or group I followed on Instagram or Facebook would post something that applied so directly to my life, it seemed it was written just for me.  I would screenshot the item on my phone and save it in a photo album called “Encouragement.”  Sometimes I would just scroll through the pictures and drench myself in the uplifting words all over again.   One day, I realized I wanted something more tactile, something I could actually hold in my hands and absorb the words inside the book through emotional osmosis.  Last week I began printing out these little snapshots of wisdom and placing them in my book. 

I printed them in the order I had added them to my phone.  I was about 2 months’ worth of quotes into the album when a word popped into my head.

Movement.

I noticed that as the weeks and months of this year have progressed, the quotes and verses I was drawn to were changing.  Way back in December and January, I was broken, wounded, fractured and oh so lonely.  I craved words that were a balm to my damaged heart, phrases that kept me from shattering completely, and verses that promised, absolutely promised that one day I would understand and rejoice!  It’s pretty hard to think about rejoicing when you are a puddle of emotional goo stuck to the bottom of someone’s flip flop.

Towards the middle of  winter, things became a bit different.  The promises to hold on, and that God is working everything towards my good were the predominant themes.  I could feel a bit of hope beginning to grow here.  I was writing more, learning more about myself through my own words (and the responses of my readers), and taking the time to really explore what, exactly, I was meant to be doing with my life.   The puddle of goo was becoming more formed.

Within the last week or two, a distinct change has come over me.  I find my collectibles now center around thanksgiving, joy, hope and deliverance.  Deliverance!  Remember the goo?  I used to be so afraid to feel happy because I knew, I just knew that life was going to sneak up behind me and smack me over the head with a brick the next day as punishment for daring to be happy.   Now, I know I will have good days and bad.  I will have ups and downs.  Life will ebb and flow.  But I no longer fear the other side of happy.  I know that regardless of what I experience on a daily basis, I am not alone.  

I continue to collect quotes and verses.  I may even need another book at some point.  But let me tell you this:  seeing that movement did more for my battled-hardened, weary and scarred soul than you could ever imagine.    I can truly say that I am finding much to rejoice in and for.  Who knew?

God knew.  He knew because he figured out all those quotes and sayings long before I was even born.  And he knew when I would need them most.  I, however, plan to have an emotional attachment to all the words in my book.  I never want to forget the journey I’m on and from where I’ve come.   My Little Black Book has now become a map.  

Wonder where it will lead me next?

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