Giving [ourselves] Permission

hammock

Image courtesy of EA at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The following list are things that I wrestle with on a daily basis. The list is by no means all-inclusive, but were the first words that weant from my heart, to my brain, and to my fingertips this morning. These are things I have difficulty giving myself permission to do on a regular basis. These things will help me to live more wholeheartedly. I’ve been walking on eggshells for a really long time and have forgotten how to do some of these things.  I also look forward to dreaming again and not allowing fear to be my guide.

So here it goes. (Deep breath). Today, I give myself permission:

To Dream

To Fail

To Grieve

To Be Still

To Make Mistakes

To Say “No”

To Scream

To Love and Be Loved

To Be Me (whatever that looks like)

To Acknowledge My Own Needs

To Ask for Help

To Receive Help

To Be Honest

To Breathe

This struggle of allowing ourselves to be human is real. This world is hard and tells us we’re not allowed to do many of these things. There are many unspoken rules in our society, which, I believe, crosses into all neighborhoods, whether folks have faith or not. Status quo threatens our very souls from living. These unspoken rules sound something like: You’re not allowed to be real, to feel, to be still, to be honest, to struggle. I’m on a journey which is shedding light on these negative entrapments and releasing freedom to my soul which has somehow gotten caught up in these lies.

I have long misunderstood humilty for not valuing myself. I’ve always struggled with the concept of loving others as ourselves, when I have such a low value of self. I find it easier to love and serve others while ignoring my own needs. I’m not promoting narcism , because that is a behavior I absolutely detest. What I am suggesting is the kind of self love that guards one’s own heart and nurtures the soul by giving permission to do things which cultivate fulfillment. By giving ourselves permission, we are free and empowered to help others do the same. It’s rather hypocrital telling someone they need to be still and breathe, if I don’t know how to implement this practice in my own life.

As I write, I’m reminded of these words from a Mumford and Sons song, Sigh No More:

“Love that will not betray you, dismay or enslave you, It will set you free

Be more like the man you were made to be

There is a design, An alignment to cry, Of my heart to see,

The beauty of love as it was made to be”

Today I anticipate reciting one of these permissions to myself when confronted with any obstacle which may challenge me to cave and go back into hiding behind this facaude that everything is awesome. Everything can be awesome, when we allow ourselves to simply be. Even the struggle can be awesome if it produces a more humble or refined soul. Purpose has room to be reignited and flourish when a soul is refreshed. A soul is refreshed when it has permission to breathe.

What about you? What do you need to give yourself permission to do today? Would you join me on this journey of being honest withourselves and write your own list of things you struggle with daily and give yourself permission to do them?

We’re All In This Together

This is my first entry typing from this laptop.

courtesy of Stuart Miles @ freedigitalphotos.net

courtesy of Stuart Miles @ freedigitalphotos.net

Vulnerability is asking for help. Sometimes it’s easier to give than to receive. To be the receiver of a gift can sometimes make one feel needy. Asking for help feels even more needy and requires a strong amount of vulnerability. This post is a first-hand account of how I am learning about being vulnerable and accepting a gift after I reached out for help.

Last week I broke down a small part of my wall which I traditionally like to hide behind as if to say “I don’t need help from anyone”. I had a need, and I asked with much trepidation. I would, traditionally, much rather help someone else, but don’t let this fool you as humility. I amagine it has more to do with shame. Shame that I am trying to painfully purge myself of. I am learning that it is not only okay to ask for help, but necessary. When we think we can’t ask, we have a false sense that we don’t need. Failing to ask, may not only rob another of the opportunity to give, but also rob myself of experiencing true community. Community and genuine humility abound when space is given for people to openly share their needs.

Lately I’ve been writing more to therapeutically unpack my heavy heart and clear spaces of chaos from my clustered mind. Writing has been like breathing some days as learning to breathe during such heartbreaking seasons is sometimes all one can do.The reality is I don’t own an operable computer to utilize as a personal tool to use for blogging and whatever else it is people in the 21st century use these nifty little devices for. That is, until today. Last week I posted a shout out on social media that I could really use an operable laptop and didn’t have money to afford it. This action was excruciating and I felt pathetic in the moment. The moment I clicked “post”, my mind filled with anxious thoughts, including, Why don’t I just save the money and by my own laptop like most responsible adults? Where’s your self pride and respect? I nearly deleted the post from my timeline entirely for fear of being too vulnerable and exposing my neediness. As I write this, I am so increasingly thankful that I didn’t delete that post.

It was up for minutes before I had a personal message from an old friend asking my address. He intended to send me a laptop, no questions asked. How much? I asked. Nothing, was his reply. Can I at least pay for shipping? He refused. Perhaps it wasn’t as much a laptop I needed in that moment than to be reminded that community is real and can still exist. To simply know that if I reached out my hand in the darkness, there would be another one reaching back I could hold on to.

Today was long to say the least. It began with a deep conversation over coffee with a good friend. This was followed by receiving a new pair of glasses, which I haven’t worn for years. Needless to say, my eyes have been adjusting all day to these new lenses. (Ooh! Another analogy for another blog on another day.) I had to cut work short for a two hour custody mediation, which was positive, but required emotion. Following which, our local Friends Food Bank distribution needed an extra hand, and I needed a healthy distraction, so I accepted the invitation. From there, I rushed to the nearest fast food chain to stuff my face before a board meeting I needed to attend. Sometimes going nonstop can be as therapeutic as being still. So long as it’s in healthy moderation and doesn’t promote burnout. I’ve been there, and am learning the balance.

Tonight I came home from this busy and emotionally exhausting day to a box on my doorstep. By the shape of the box, I knew what it contained. I almost began crying. But I help that for later, as I was too excited to open the box. Not only did it contain any old laptop, but it was like new, refurbished, and even smelled new! And most of all, it was sent in love, which made all the difference.

This extraordinary gift has taught me and reminded me of some powerful core truths. Sometimes we are in the position to give, and sometimes we need to allow ourselves to receive. We can’t always give and we can’t always receive. Sometimes we have things to offer and when the opportunity arrives, we can give whatever it is we have. Sometimes it isn’t even a material item, but it can be as simple as time or a smile. When that opportunity comes, there is a great feeling when you can provide whatever the need is. The same is true of asking, but many struggle with coming across so needy. I know I do. If I remember correctly, some of Jesus’ famous words were, “You have not because you ask not.” There is something powerful in this truth and I think we miss the value of humbling ourselves to not only pray in faith, but to invite others on our journey of faith and struggle.

I am also reminded of the power of community and how much we really do need each other. Even as I write, the following song came on the radio, which lyrics I will conclude with. To my friend who heard my need and responded, Thank you for responding with such extraordinary grace and reminding me of the values of community. Words can’t clearly communicate the extent of my gratitude.

If I could take this moment and pay this act of generosity forward, I would like to plug my friend’s project which he and his family is involved with which has even greater value and deserves far much more attention than a laptop. For this past year, my friend and his family are raising funds to dig a well for a community in Asia. You can find more information about this project here: https://www.mygfa.org/givewater/. If you sense the spirit of generosity stirring you and you have a few bucks to spare, please consider participating in the ongoing gift of giving. They only have a few hundred bucks remaining to reach their goals, and it is my hope that through this mention, we might be able to help them complete their goal.

Thank you for reading. Thank you for giving. Thank you for the invitation to give when you are in a place of need. We are all in this together.

together

courtesy of Ryan Pfiel

 We’re All In This Together

By Old Crow Medicine Show

Well my friends, I see your face so clearly/Little bit tired, little worn through the years/You sound nervous, you seem alone/I hardly recognize your voice on the telephone

In between I remember/Just before bound-up, broken-down/We drive out to the edge of the highway/Follow that lonesome dead-end roadside south

We’re all in this thing together/Walkin’ the line between faith and fear/This life don’t last forever/When you cry I taste the salt in your tears

Well my friend, let’s put this thing together/And walk the path with worn out feet of trial/’Cause if you wanted we can go home forever/Give up your jaded ways, spell your name to God

We’re all in this thing together/Walkin’ the line between faith and fear/This life don’t last forever/When you cry I taste the salt in your tears

All the hour there’s a picture in a mirror/Fancy shoes to grace our feet/All there is is a slow road to freedom/Heaven above and the devil beneath

We’re all in this thing together/Walkin’ the line between faith and fear/This life don’t last forever/When you cry I taste the salt in your tears

© JAY (KETCH) SECOR, WILLIAM (WILLIE) WATSON For non-commercial use only.

© DOWNTOWN MUSIC PUBLISHING LLC For non-commercial use only