Official Title Doesn’t Equal Importance #QuoteExplained #Relationships #YourRole

Some of the most important people in our lives will never have an official title.

These words spilled out of my mouth without thought the other day, during a conversation with friends. Whenever that happens to me, I know it’s one of those God moments. That phrase is more profound than I could ever come up with on my own.

It fit the situation we were discussing perfectly and then I realized it fit into so many other places as well. I can think in my own life of people who have been great mentors, mother figures, father figures, motivators, and spiritual guides who don’t have an official title. I could say they are friends but friends sounds too generic. The word friend is often loosely thrown around and doesn’t necessary distinguish the depth of closeness and the bond we hold with a particular person.

Looking at that quote in reverse, sometimes the people in our lives with official titles of mother, father, grandmother, grandfather, sister, brother, uncle, aunt, cousin, and so on don’t hold the relationship bonds we expect of them. I’m not bashing anyone here but this is a reality almost all of us have experienced to some degree. Official family titles matter to us. We’ve been raised (even in this messy confused world) to expect the people with those official relationship titles to have a certain depth of closeness and loyalty to us. I could write forever and ever about disappointing relationships with people who hold official titles, from my own experiences and the experiences of others. But that’s not the rabbit trail I’m hopping down today.

Instead take a moment and think about the people in your life who matter deeply who don’t have an official title. Individuals who have deeply inspired and motivated you, pulled you through difficult times, and guided you down the straight and narrow path of “doing the right things.”

I’ve had female figures in my life (outside of my own amazing mother and other women in my family) who have helped direct my steps towards paths of righteousness, justice, and truth. Some were co-workers, some classmates, some counselors, others teachers, and some were complete strangers. Their influences have made me who I am today. In each of their own unique ways and styles, these women have shown me different perspectives, skills, and ways to be a good and loving person. We need those kind of unofficial people in our lives, especially outside of our family to help guide us. The difficulties of life are one of the few guarantees we get on this earth and because of that we need all the tools we can get on how to handle those moments without tarnishing our souls. Grace and strength are both gifts from God and learned behaviors. Other human beings to teach us how to use the gifts God gives us.

I’ve had some very significant male figures in my life as well. They’ve taught me so much more than I can even begin to put into words. They’ve helped break down the lies the world has thrown at me about who a man really is emotionally, spiritually, and physically. One of the greatest gifts I’ve received in my adult life is a greater understanding and compassion for the obstacles men face in their personal lives, work lives, and spiritual lives. Men have just as many unrealistic expectations put on them as women do, but you don’t “hear” that as often. The real men deal with their injustices in silence, behind the scenes as many real women do. The truth doesn’t shout; the truth just is.

In taking a quick glance at these figures in my life, it makes me realize that some of these people could never fully know the depth of importance they’ve had in my life. Don’t get me wrong, I do my best to let these people know how much they matter to me but sometimes I don’t even know what to say to them other than a “thank you” or a “you have no idea how much you’ve helped me.” Those phrases just aren’t enough but it’s the best I can come up with.

Now flip the coin with me. Think about the people in your life, the people you come into contact with, the ones you talk with, the ones you wave to, the ones you smile at. We come into contact with so many people. We have short amount of time with some and lengthy amounts of time with others. I bet there are people in your life, young, old, and in between that you hold no official title with other than “the person who always holds the door for me” or the broadest title of all “friend.” You may be a key influential person in their lives. Process that for a second. Does that make you think a little deeper about how you treat others? (I’m hoping it does.)

We are all connected. The way we act, the way we treat others creates ripples of energy. Are we pelting out stones of negative energy or tossing confetti of positive energy? Are we weighing people down or lifting them up? Whether you want to be or not you are a walking testimony for your gender, for your religion, for your hometown, for your employer, for your family, for an endless amount of things. We are all examples of something. The question is are you going to be an example of goodness, indifference, or hurtfulness?

The world needs more love so why not strive for that? You can be an example of love even when you’re sad, even when you’re hurting. You don’t have to “feel good” in order to show love to others. Love is a choice. Love is an action.

Remember you have no idea what kind of impact you are having on someone’s life. You could be the reason a young person stays out of trouble. You could be the reason a peer sees the truth in a world of confusion and keeps moving through their tough times. You could be the reason an older person doesn’t lose faith in the triumph of goodness after all the difficulties they’ve experienced.

You could be the ripple that starts a tidal wave of goodness and healthy changes in our world, merely with a smile and kind word.

You are the reason love exists in this world, because it exists in you and through you.

You are someone’s most important person without an official title.

Love, Hugs, & Sunshine,
Michelle

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Hamster Wheel Problems #Confessions #CaseOfTheSads #PrayingThroughIt #LoveHeals

Do you ever feel like you’re stuck on a hamster wheel? Sometimes you’re running so fast in the wheel that everything blurs and you think you’re getting somewhere. Then other days you can barely move and you recognize you’re inside the same cage with the same wheel moving around and around.

I’ve felt like that lately, like I keep circling the same kind of crap. I’m exhausted and overwhelmed. I stop running in the wheel and start to examine my feelings–which ones are founded in truth and with one are founded in myth and then I go through my “how to cope checklist.” It takes a little time for my feelings to reconcile with reasoning but eventually they do and I lighten up a bit.

Sometimes I just go, go, go and don’t stop to look at what’s bringing my spirits down. When someone asks me how things are going my best response is a shrug. That’s a legit answer because sometimes I have no idea. Last week I stopped for a moment and gave a quick recap to a friend all of the things that had happened in the week. Then I got really depressed, thinking about all of the tough stuff I’ve been juggling slammed me right in the face. No wonder I’ve been so exhausted lately.

When Sunday came so did all the tears. After church, I found myself sleeping the afternoon away and when I wasn’t sleeping I was crying. This is what I refer to as a case of the “sads.” I felt myself starting to shut down and retreat so I sat there and forced myself into praying. That’s tough to do when you can barely think straight. But I did it. (Thank you, Jesus.) Part of that motivation to pray was fear driven because I remember how long I lived in sorrow and that’s a deep pit to get out of. Of course I realize that sorrow was from losing Chris BUT that was a scary, dark place I never want to return to. Remembering that darkness of sorrow gives me enough motivation to look at my feelings and sort things out before they spiral out of control.

As I prayed and asked why I was feeling this way and what the real problem was.

What were my emotions rooted in? It came down to one strong feeling and it’s sidekick. I was feeling helpless and that helplessness was causing me to feel exhausted because I was trying to figure out a way to not feel so helpless. I was looking for something to do, some way to change this situation. I was looking for a means of control. (Crap!!! Not that again.)

Upon that realization I asked myself the following questions, just like I was talking with a friend:

Do you trust God in this? In all of these tough situations are you trusting God?

Yes, of course I do.

If you trust Him, then why are you worrying?

Because I don’t feel like I’m doing enough to help or I don’t know if I’m doing the right thing at all.

Do you know how stupid that sounds? It’s about where your heart is and how you put your hands to work for your heart’s calling.

*sigh*

What do you think God expects of you? What is He asking of you?

To do my best. But what if my best isn’t good enough?

There it is. You’re feeling unworthy again. Not good enough. And you know that isn’t true.

 

I promise I’m not crazy. Okay well I am but self-talk works for me and that’s why I do it.

I can tell you I feel lost. I’m struggling with putting balance into my life. I’m struggling with my desire to help others and with understanding what it is I need to be doing with my time. I struggle between expectation and reality. I struggle between hearing the world and hearing the Lord.

Each time I’ve felt this way (lost/confused), good things came afterwards. But the process of putting one foot in front of the other can become daunting. What if I’m going the wrong way? What if I’m messing everything up in my life by doing the things that I’m doing? What if I’m too busy looking the wrong way that I miss my next opportunity? What if I miss seeing the man I’m supposed to be with because I’m over here doing other things? And then I miss my chance at my family. What if I’m over here doing the wrong things and I miss the next step in my career? What if I have to go back to work that sucks my soul because I missed my next financial opportunity?

Here’s the thing. All of those what if fears are pretty much bullcrap, because those “what if’s” carry zero weight if I’m fully trusting God with my life. Sitting here on my couch writing this post, I’m having a difficult time seeing where this path for me leads, because our humanity often makes us shortsighted know-it-alls who actually know enough to be dangerous but certainly do not know ALL.

Since last fall things have been tough. Watching those I love fight sickness is hard. Watching the way people wound the ones they love (often because of their own personal fears) sucks. I’ve found myself on my knees praying and crying for others more than I can ever remember.

I’ve gone through days without hearing or seeing any kind of word or evidence of God’s workings. And I’ve gone through overwhelming days filled with vivid dreams, signs, and bold responses. Through all of this, I’ve found I’ve gained more compassion and new perspectives.

But Sunday, I was sad. And it’s okay to feel sad sometimes. My sadness didn’t keep me from enjoying a Sunday evening with my family and homemade ice cream.

So maybe I’m not really stuck on a hamster wheel. Maybe the troubles on this path are just taking longer to get past than I expected. Some lessons must be taught slowly so you don’t have to keep re-learning them. Maybe these are those types of lessons.

Am I still tired? Yep.

Am I still moving? Yes.

Am I attempting to find the sunshine in these clouds? Absolutely.

Experience has taught me the sun always shines behind the clouds. When things look gloomy, faith reminds me to carry my sunglasses because I’ll be needing them soon enough. 😉

May the sun shine upon us. And may we never forget that healing happens because love never fails. And love is what heals us.

 

Love, Hugs, Prayers, & Sunshine,

Michelle

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