Anyone that knows me, knows I hold our military in the highest regard. I have both family and friends that have served and/or are currently serving to protect our freedom. Once upon a time, I was wife to someone that worked pretty darn close to the military so I have had my fair share of exposure. And I love how our country celebrates Memorial (and Veteran's Day) but I have to wonder how we honor our military the day after the Memorial holiday?
Usually we return to our normal lives and at most we might be a bit more sun-kissed than the day before Memorial Day. We return to work, school, etc. and get to go about our days without missing a beat. But for the people that are recognized on Memorial Day, the day after is just as painful as the holiday. The loss is equally palpable.
This year Memorial Day meant a little bit more to me, as a childhood friend lost his life this past year. And although he wasn't in active duty, I will be forever thankful for his service and his family for sacrificing for my freedom. And although we typically hold Memorial Day for those that have sacrificed their life protecting ours...I would make an argument that every single person in the military loses a part of their life for their service. And their families lose out on living a 'normal life' like the majority of us are able to live. Our active military lose out on seeing the birth of children, celebrating anniversaries/birthdays/holidays, spending time with elderly parents, having dinner with family, hearing a baby's first words...the list goes on and on. Our military often spend months overseas where a general concern for their own life consumes them every single second of the day and night. And then they are expected to come home and immediately re-integrate into our normal lives. I do not know about you but I can count on one hand the times I have actually been concerned for my own life in the past 31 years. Our military are often concerned for their life at least every 31 seconds. There is an element of adaptation that isn't quite normal and often our military take on this struggle silently. And for some this struggle will haunt them for the rest of their lives. And for others, it is too unbearable for them to continue with life. No matter how you slice it, there is always a loss. There is always a sacrifice.
There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends.
To the families of our military...thank you for loving our military through the tough times. The times when they are far away and you never truly know if they are safe. Thank you for isolating yourself from the media so you do not live in fear moment-to-moment. Thank you for being single parents and trying to explain to your children why mommy or daddy is missing out on being part of their life. Thank you for picking up your lives over and over again during the many reassignments that come with military service. Thank you for being patient and understanding when your loved one returns home....but doesn't return home quite the same. Thank you for loving our military like no one else loves our military.
So this Memorial Day...and more specifically the days after the holiday, I pray for our military. Those that have lost a part of their lives that is silent to the world around them. I pray for those that struggle with beasts and/or memories that I only have to fear in my nightmares. Thank you for sacrificing a part of your soul...for my freedom. No words, love, or expression of gratitude will ever come close to what you have given me. And to your families...I thank you equally.
Freedom, sacrifice, and the days after Memorial Day,
This blog in particular is dedicated to the memory of a childhood friend and his two brothers. You were on my heart every single day this week and in my prayers.
I love being right...I think most people would agree 'being right' is an overall satisfying feeling. And I am very competitive person...I can turn just about anything into a competition. But I am not a sore loser. When I lose, I own it. And similar to embracing losing, I also embrace being wrong. And to be honest, I use failure to drive me forward. To make me a better person. It is one of the ways I think God does good through me as a sinner...
And I am sure that God, who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on that day when Christ Jesus comes back gain.
But it is really, really tough when you have to accept a wrong that really isn't a wrong. When you are accused but are innocent. These moments are hard for anyone to swallow...especially someone that likes to be right. I can accept being wrong when I am wrong. It's a million times harder to accept it when you know in your heart, you really aren't wrong. And I think these moments try us more than the moments when we are actually wrong. And most of the time, we fail miserably...instead fighting for that final say. Fighting to be right.
Recently, more than once, I have had to swallow being 'wrong' when I really wasn't wrong. (I am learning...when I face the same challenge over and over gain, God is trying to get my attention. It usually takes more than once for me to realize this...when will I learn?!?) And with each accusation, I have wanted the 'final say' but have remained silent (although....I have been kicking and screaming to God!!! Like I said in the previous blog...Give it to God!). As I continue to struggle with this internal battle, I had a moment of clarity. For those people super close to me, I do a lot of thinking in the shower. Some of my best creative ideas have come while washing my hair or shaving my legs. And yet again, an epiphany came with shampoo in hand. It's not about being right. It's about being. Being there. Being a witness. Being a sacrifice. And sometimes just being. But it isn't about being right. And really, it has never been about being right. It has always been about being with Jesus. And we know Jesus suffered the ultimate punishment for being accused of wrong, when He was really right. And He did so with grace, honor and peace. He didn't fight being right. He surrendered to His father.
Then Jesus shouted, "Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands." And with those words he breathed his last breath. When the captain of the Roman soldiers handling the executions saw what had happened, he praised God and said, "Surely this man was innocent."
Jesus didn't have to fight being accused a criminal. All He had to do was just be. He trusted God and the rest came full circle....and will come full circle again some day. He suffered both physically and emotionally with being accused of wrong but He didn't kick and scream out for His innocence. And at the end of the day, people just knew. People knew who He was and what He was....and He wasn't wrong. He was oh so right.
So if you struggle being accused of something you know to be a false accusation....remember to stay focus on God. On the sacrifice and the example in Jesus. Because it's not about being right. It's just about being.
Accusations, sacrifice, and silence,
In this world of being 'connected' and 'plugged in' by way of email, online degrees, online dating, Facebook, Instagram, Tinder, and the whole "there's an app for that" mentality....I wonder if we really are becoming a disconnected society. Never before have we been quite this 'connected' and yet I feel very disconnected from people. From friends. From family. Are we missing out on relationships because we are over connected by way of extremely impersonal manners. Just how far does a simple lol, xoxo, or emoticon go to build a relationship?
Are we able to truly connect with people? I've dabbled in the online dating world (and honestly, online dating experiences could be a blog altogether!!!); I've yet to feel a connection with someone that I connected with first online. If anything, I have connected more with people I've met up with after knowing little to nothing about them from chatting online. I truly believe when it comes to online dating, less is more. Type less and go out more so you don't waste time on a 'fake connection' with someone via online. And I think about the 2 classmates from my graduate program I am most connected with and they happen to be the two girls I actually met on-site during orientation three years ago. And I am convinced, email just might be the absolute worst way to 'connect' with an employee. There is little to no emotion and when there is perceived emotion, it is almost always misperceived emotion. I find I connect so much better with my team having face-to-face conversations about work and life in person, rather than email.
So I have to wonder if being 'connected' actually disconnects us from each other? And a small part of me wishes I could disconnect from the electronic world and just go back to meeting up for a cup of coffee in order to catch up rather than reading up on Facebook. And in fact, some of my most relaxing vacations were those in remote places that allowed for very little cell service and times when I was truly disconnected. The week I spent in St. John....where I actually got to know bartenders, waiters, and tenants because instead of being face down in my phone, I took in the world around me. Or the time I hiked my first 14,000+ mountain in Colorado and I met a couple of random guys on the mountain and ended up not only hiking the day with them but also going out on several subsequent dates with one of them. Or the Hawaii vacation where my ex and I establish a rule that we would not use our phones for the entire 10 days....and I remember relaxing, reading, writing, soaking in every little detail. I wonder how many details in life I am missing by being 'connected'?
When I look to an example of someone that truly connected to people, I think of Jesus (hopefully by now, you realize there will always be a biblical tie in my blogs...if this comes as a surprise, spoiler alert for future blog reading!). He understood connections and how to build them. He spent time with real people, not Facebook profiles...He spent time in homes (Martha and Mary in Luke 10: 38-42), in fields with large crowds (Matthew 13), with women at the well (John 4)...he spent time connecting with actual people. Both friends, family and totally random people. He spent time speaking and listening. And He built relationships off of these interactions. And there was an impact from these relationship. And I'm not so certain Jesus would have substituted these conversations for a Facebook poke, Tinder swipe or Match.com "like". I'm pretty certain He wouldn't have it any other way than sitting face-to-face actually connecting.
So Jesus may have been absolutely disconnected by our present-day standards but I think we have a lot to learn about relationships from his definition of connection.
Facebook, Tinder and relationships,
Disclaimer - I don't necessarily recommend everyone 'disconnect'...I think there are definitely pros to Facebook and the like. Everything in moderation.
I was having a conversation with a friend the other day about feeling guilt over getting frustrated with other people…actually this is a lie. I wasn’t having a conversation, I was texting. There’s a big difference. Anyway…I reminded my friend God understands our frustration because God deals with the same people we deal with day in and day out. He gets it. I mean He really gets it! And His understanding of our feelings goes way beyond a little frustration.
In life, I sometimes forget God really understands us. He understands our frustration, anger, loneliness, heartbreak, sorrow, joy…He shares emotion with us. Our feelings are no surprise to Him. And yet, we often hold back our feelings/emotions/true thoughts from Him. Which quite frankly, is ridiculous because He already knows and understands our feelings. And He is the only one that can truly deal with it.
Several years ago, I was really really angry and heartbroken over something that went incredibly wrong with one of my patients. It wasn’t a medical error but rather just really bad circumstance. This adorable little girl underwent a horrific event and was never the same. And yet I was the angry one. I was so angry at God. I couldn’t understand why He would let something horrible happen to this little girl. But I learned a really valuable lesson through her horrible experience…Give it to God. I had never questioned His decisions in life until this particular instance and I’ll be honest, I let God have a piece of my mind over it. I remember crying (and I mean balling my eyes out) for days over it. And crying out to God in prayer asking ‘why’ and ‘how could you do this?’.
But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander and dirty language.
I didn’t try to sugar coat it. I didn’t try to accept it during that moment. I let my true emotion pour out of my soul to God. I gave Him my tears, my anger, my heartbreak. And you know what…as I poured my heart out to Him he took the anger and replaced it with peace.
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.
This didn’t happen instantly but rather gradually over time. Instead of sulking over my anger, I was open and honest with God over it. I look back over that period of my life and there are moments when I can’t believe what I actually thought and felt toward God AND the fact I openly admitted it to Him. But it was how I healed. Or rather how God healed me. And whether I openly admitted it to Him or not, He knew. He knows our feelings. God understands us. He understands our anger. He understands everything. It’s really okay to give your anger to God and let Him deal with it.
I am confident the fact I have learned to give my anger, pain, heartbreak, loneliness, and the many other emotions that seep out of the scars on my heart, to Him is the only reason I feel nothing but joy in my life. And I am so thankful He is able to handle all of my raw emotion because it has freed me from pain and suffering that would have otherwise held me captive and ruined my soul.
The pastor at church said something so profound today....God becomes more real, when we become more honest. How incredibly true is that statement?!? We have to be honest with God...so He can be real to us.
So the next time you are really angry or frustrated or heartbroken…give it to God. And give it to him for real. He can handle it and He will handle it. And then wait for the peace to overwhelm your soul. It might not come immediately....heck, you might have to wait years for it. But it will come.
Real feelings, real emotions and a real God,
Just a few reflections about everything God is teaching me in this life...a journey deeper into His purpose for my life.