undeserving

I know what I’ve done:

bought lies on sale,

broken all the rules

ignored the wise

and followed the fools.

I know what I’ve earned:

the scorn of many.

the laughter of foes,

the whips of soldiers

lots cast for my clothes.

I know what I deserve:

to be roughly hurled

naked to the street,

blood rolling down from my head

in red streams to my feet.

In spite of all this

all the hatred I’ve earned,

all the shame I am due,

the consequences of my life,

have been carried by You.

 

COMPLETION

It is popular to pay lip service to New Beginnings.  New jobs, new homes, big moves and big changes have their own hype and energy around them.  They each offer a new and unique opportunity to step away from what has been and create what will become.  New Years Days have always been met with hope and joy and promise for me.

But what about the baggage?

You know what I mean by baggage.  It is the residue of old hurts and old disappointments, the coping mechanisms that they activate in us that then become defensive pieces of armor welded to our personalities.  This baggage-armor is heavy and we are naturally fused to it.  It takes action akin to surgery to remove it.

And so, new beginnings bring new hope and ideas of walking away from the old, but do we really?  How much of the old poison is carried over like extra vacation days?

Introducing the concept of COMPLETION.

This year, before even making my resolutions, I have applied myself to letting go.  But it isn’t something I was born knowing how to do.  I researched it, discussed it with wise people in my life, and worked through some very practical steps that were recommended to me.  My findings were that it is not a short process and it is not worth doing if not done thoroughly.  It involves the complete purging of ones’ emotions around the issue, taking the lessons out of the soup, and finding gratefulness to close the chapter.  New Years Day 2012 has found me prepared like an athlete working her way through weeks of training for a marathon to let go, complete, and move on.

I have spent the better part of this afternoon and many afternoons leading up to this writing out every emotion and purging myself, driving through this process.  I have isolated circumstances and protagonists of 2011 and those carried over from before and vomited page after page after page of written words.  Words carrying weight that have sat on my bones and joints and festered in my organs like a cancer.  The process began weeks ago and layer after layer has been stripped revealing my clean and healthy essence in place of rough and calloused armor.  By no means is this process fully complete.  But I am excited to find that there is soooo much space once you defragment your emotions and choose what you’d like to save! 

The New Year finds many a home spotless and expectant.  There are festivities and celebrations all over the world.  Desks are cleaned on the last day of work for the year.  Garbage is taken out of the house.  All in preparation for a fresh start.  But what of hearts?  What of minds?

I challenge every one of my readers to face this year with confidence.  Complete your grief processes and the cycles of disappointment as best you can.  Forgive where that is called for.  Chip away at your callouses.  Purge yourself of your baggage.  And offer the space that you have cleaned out to the will of God and new opportunities.  Face the adventure of your future with space.  Space for love, space for joy, space for adventure and space to grow.

Travel light!  Happy New Year!

5 Little gems…

… dug out of me in Life Coaching sessions that have surprised me.

  1. I am not a commitment phobe as I have always thought, but quite the opposite.  I am a commitment junkie.  Totally addicted to the stuff.  But, as with all addictions, this one is terribly unhealthy.  I over-commit and then drive myself into the sick-bed/the grave/some form of insanity in order to get the impossible done.  The worse thing that can happen to me in these commitments is for me to succeed.  Because then I set a new, stupidly-inhuman goal and go all out to kill myself to meet that one too.  And succeeding this, there is always a new level of insanity to conquer.
  2. I am hiding myself in work.  There is no balance.  Time poverty has been taught to me and accepted by me as a virtue.  If I keep this up there will be no humanity left within me for other sentient beings to relate to!
  3. I hold on to hurts.  Doing this only succeeds in hurting me longer.  This is not a surprise to me as some of the other five gems have been but I have historically had No. Clue. At. All. how to let things go.  It isn’t natural for me to forgive and forget those who do not actively and contritely seek my forgiveness and forgetfulness.  I have to teach myself how to do it.  Follow a difficult and disciplined process to purge myself.
  4. I am in love with my own essence!  Falling in love with myself and my own gifts, my own unique reflection of God himself, is a process that is bringing me much joy.
  5. I have let myself go.  My wellbeing is way down on my list of priorities.  Something has got to give.  Panic attacks and migraines, drinking and breakouts, insomnia and weight fluctuations are all pointing to abject neglect.  My neglect.  Of me.  And this has to change.

Some things already have!  Friendships, pastimes, focuses have all started to shift.  But more will come and I am very excited!

Cleansing Flood

There is nothing like sleeping in the rain.  And rain has not failed to fall for me.  Every time I lay my head down in Honduras to rest the rain meets the gurgle of the stream outside the window and makes for a beautiful sleep.  The windows are louvered and allow a fresh breeze in to sweeten the night and the stream is blood-red with the drain of the earth into it.  Always there is the sound of water.

Yesterday I bought two works of art to hang in my home.  One was a metal-worked thicket of leaves for my porch.  The other was a cross also of metal.  It is beautifully woven and will be put in a place of prominence in my home to remind me of my Father’s love.  Tonight the cross is wrapped for my journey home, tight in cardboard and masking tape.  But there are reminders everywhere.  The constant flow of water is music calling to mind the only never-ending grace.

No matter what I have done in my day, no matter where I have gone, how I have felt and what I have said His grace meets me like rainfall when I lay my head down to rest.

Isn’t it strange how it is the imperfect among us who forgive with the most difficulty?  It is also very amazing to find that imperfection in myself and feel grace rise to meet it.  I am forgiven – not necessarily by men and women around me and not necessarily by myself, but by the only person whose opinion is worth anything at all.  I am loved best of all by my God.

Rain of grace that washes away all imperfection...

Six Words That Built A Bridge

I am not in the business of holding grudges.  Probably because I’m not very good at it.  When it stops hurting I stop remembering it.  Mind you, some hurt stays fresh for a long time with no nurturing and wallowing.  Some earth-shattering hurts hurt forever.  I have yet to master the skill of how to forgive while I still hurt.  But once the hurt is gone I forget and it is over for me.  In the heat of the moment I explode like a firework.  But ask me two years later and I will have forgotten what the whole show was about.

Because I forget the hurt I sometimes forget the lesson and I will be open to a repeat-hurt later in life.  Which is why I don’t hold grudges, I burn bridges.

Now every psychologist in the world will say this is unhealthy.  I am by no means going to attempt to justify myself.  This is simply a statement of fact.  An explanation of what is.  I burn bridges and trust the decision of the self of my past rather than remind myself – the current self – of the hurt and re-live it all over again.

But things are changing…

I have a cousin, someone dear to me but very different from me in all but two respects.  Our anger is explosive and our bridges go up in flames.  Our differences have given rise to hurts and fights and misunderstandings and flames for years.  We have been bridgeless now going two years.  Family hurts are often the hardest to heal.

Yet she is mine and I am hers.  I have not chosen her – she was chosen for me.  The hot latin DNA that makes us who we are to each other is the exact same code that makes us flash like lightning.  The storm was magnificent.  No bridge survived.

Yesterday I sent her a message.  “Peace?”

She was not long at all to reply.  “…yea…life is too short…”

And with those six words a bridge was built.

© Brent Mclennon

Dear John

Today you, a gracious reader, gently reprimanded me for the raw vitriol of my morning post on Why Weak Girls Make Poor Friends.  When I stubbornly told you I wouldn’t regret it you banished me from the Shaolin.  Bless you.

The ironic thing is that this morning when I started my day it was with every intention of writing a post on the return to gentleness.  A deeper look at the last four weeks and the progress I have made in taking the focus off of the idol of an idea and putting it on the blessed present.  It was to look at the ground I have gained in forgiveness and healing.  Before my train of thought was interrupted.

For the first time in the Journey of the Hair I took a step backward, out of my disciplined and focused path to grace and back into the jungle.  I’ve been praying Psalm 35 and muttering “traicionera” under my breath allllll day.

This is not an apology.  Not yet.  Probably not ever.  But it is an acknowledgement.  A kick back to focus.  An end to the drama.  The movie is over.  The villains are slain.  Dead to me forever.

The post on gentleness will come.  Just not today.  Be patient with me.

Sincerely,

Grasshopper

You’re sorry… uh huh

© Brent Mclennon, Donkey otherwise known as…

After months spent crying and clearing my head

Erasing photo memories of moments now dead

You feel the obnoxious need arise

To message me and apologise.

You’ve flicked through your album of time spent fooling me

And in your own image dislike what you see.

My forgiveness you crave to clean off yourself

It’s not about me, it’s for your own health.

Please don’t come apologising to me!

It will only succeed in setting you free

And I am not ready to free you yet, so

Go live a little longer with your regret.

Why you’re not married… Picking Sense from Nonsense

This week I came across an article that had me hissing and spitting before I’d even made it to the end.  It was Why You’re Not Married by Tracy McMillan (please read).  And she had steam shooting through my ears.  In the article Ms. McMillan has taken the single and yearning woman by the ear and explained her to herself.  In neatly cutting points she has told this woman “You’re a bitch.  You’re shallow.  You’re a slut.  You’re a liar.  You’re selfish.  And You’re not good enough”.  She took no prisoners and allowed for no arguments and pissed me off.

As a lady should, I took a few days to cool down and decided to pick the piece apart.    I gave it to a male friend of mine who laughed the whole way through saying “oh my goooodnesss this is so truuue!” here and there.  Then I had a very balanced girlfriend of mine read it through and she, after a little while, saw some value in the piece.

I still don’t like it.  McMillan is accusing and absolutist and belittles the demographic she is attempting to help.  I mean, how would YOU feel if someone called you a selfish, slutty, lying, shallow bitch who isn’t good enough?  And, by the way, if you aren’t married and you someday want to be, you aren’t just one of these horrors.  No you must be all of them.  So no.  Cooling down didn’t help much.  And her personal qualifications (three divorces neatly packed into one paragraph) impress me none at all.

But.  There are points I would have to say make sense and would be instructive from another angle.  Not just to a woman seeking marriage but a woman looking for fulfillment and growth.  And so, let me re-phrase for the benefit of those who might want to pick sense from nonsense.

Picking Sense from Nonsense

1. You’re Angry. (as opposed to “You’re a Bitch”)

So yes.  Anger scares people.  It isn’t just that female anger scares men.  All anger scares people.  Period.  Anger affects every human relationship – it is hurtful to parents, damaging to children, ends friendships and tears apart homes.

But what I don’t see in this article is where it comes from and how to fix it.  In fact, many an angry woman will see this article as a call to faking it.  After all “most men just want to marry someone who is nice to them”.  McMillan is essentially saying “be nice” not “stop being angry”.

At the risk of sounding like another horror (selfish) my advice to women who are angry would be “learn how to deal with your anger” or “practice forgiveness” or “take a yoga class”.  Otherwise, you fake it.  And if you fake it to trap catch a husband you really haven’t gotten rid of it have you?  It can still scare him later.  Into the arms of lawyers and the “D” word.  And if it happens more than once you might end up like the lady herself with three divorces in the rearview mirror.

So ladies, let’s clean the house before we invite anyone in.  Take a year, start a blog, cut your hair, let’s practice being joyful and contented where we are.  Because marriage is no cure for anger.

2. You don’t want to be bored  (as opposed to “You’re Shallow”)

Now let’s be honest, women get tempted to cheat too.  Not all of us do (I for one don’t).  But we do get bored.  We feel trapped.  Hubby goes to fat and doesn’t make the earth move like he used to.  Is it really shallow to try to head some of that off with a few shallow requirements on your checklist?

Yes.  I agree that character comes first.  But wanting someone with enough body weight to lift me to the kitchen counter isn’t always shallow.  Its practical.  What if I fall down or have an accident or something?

If he has no brawn but is brimming with character I’m afraid it won’t be enough to keep me in his bed for life.  So the muscle requirements stay.  Therefore ladies, in picking sense from nonsense, let’s not volunteer for a life of boredom without the occasional earthquake.

3. The Oxytocin factor  (as opposed to “You’re a Slut”)

Sure.  Now this one I understand!  You meet a guy who checks off your “shallow” requirements (see #2 above) and you jump into the steam without checking the rest of the list.  Oxytocin (aka cupid, or the devil) kicks in and bonds you like a man-eating vine.

Does it make you a slut?  I don’t think so, Love.  Let’s look at this again.  This article was written for the woman who is single but very badly wants to be married.  If marriage is what you’re after then that list is very very important.  The shallow stuff you find out in an instant.  The stuff that moves from a moment passion to a lifetime of compassion is found in the rest of the list.  The things that can’t be rushed.

Let’s be frank about the jungle that today’s single woman is expected to survive in and find a match.  There are predators out there who are in constant pursuit of access to a woman’s body.  They scheme about it, discuss it with their boys, write blogs on it, all in search of the V and closing the deal.  That is one side of the market.

On the other side is the millions of women in the world guarding their Virtue (ahem) who spend their time, their conversations and their blogs on trying to tie the knot and closing a whole other kind of deal.

Both sides have their goal – to close the deal.  The problem is when both sides meet and they confuse their deal with that of the other.  And so many a woman will find herself in the rooftop hot tub with no ring on, in much the same way as many a man will find himself rushed and buffed at the altar with no idea how he got there.

The solution?  Be mindful of the Representative.  Women keep in mind that the first few months of knowing a man is you getting to know his Representative – the guy he shines up and shows in public in the hopes that you will be convinced enough in his value to let him close his deal.  Three months or so in, without letting him close the deal, you’ll either see cracks, he would have disappeared, or you will find that maybe you are actually looking at the same deal after all.

So STAY AWAY FROM THE OXYTOCIN!

4. You are dishonest with yourself  (as opposed to “You’re a Liar”)

Unfortunately I have to agree with almost every word McMillan says here.  Women, in their fear of “scaring him away” will close his deal at the sacrifice of her own.  Girl, some men NEED to be scared away.  Just… just drop the oxytocin and walk away.

There is nothing wrong with wanting what you want and being honest about it.  The first step toward it is to be honest about it and accept it within yourself.  That will translate to you accepting nothing less from a man than what you want.  And you will be much better at picking sense from nonsense.

5. You are focused on you  (as opposed to “You’re Selfish”)

At this point I completely abandon McMillan.  To be single and focused on self-improvement is not to be selfish.  When the time comes to give all of your life for someone else it would be better for those children and that husband to have a woman who has built for herself a foundation of selfhood.  To be their partner and to be their example.  There are seasons in life when it is healthy to be focused on one’s self.  Seasons of healing, seasons of working towards specific goals, seasons of anger.  What man wants to come into the life of a woman singularly focused on snaring him?  Certainly not a man of substance nor of character.  She needs to not need anyone to be her, to be complete.  He is going to want the freedom to be him without having to complete her.  He is likely to fit more smoothly into the life of someone with her own girlfriends, her own place, who buys her own clothes and sets her own goals.

Do you darlin’.  If he finds you doing you and likes it he will find a way to fit into to your life as you fit yourself into his.

6. Low self-esteem  (as opposed to “You’re Not Good Enough”)

Looking for someone to better you is not what marriage is about – I would have to agree here.  But how many people actually do that?  Isn’t it far more common to find the smart girl with the deadbeat boyfriend?  Much more frequently you will see women go for guys who look up to them, or live off them, or disrespect them while living off them.  Guys who are several steps behind them in the development of the brain.  And the bank account.  And the social graces.

But this is also a symptom of the “I’m not good enough” disease.  It extends to “no one on my level will want me” or to the impatience of “there are so few guys let me grab the first one that flirts”.

“Mejor sola que mal acompañada. ” That’s my answer to that.  Better alone than poorly accompanied.  Some women fear the bliss of solitude.  They fear that they might like it too much and get stuck in it.  They fear that holding out too long will leave them forever alone.  My advice – face your fears!  When you have found fulfillment in yourself the pressure is off.  You won’t WANT to give up your freedom for someone who isn’t worth your time!  Your power to pick sense from nonsense will develop and seal you in a place of strength.  Real strength.  Not powered by anger.

There are millions of amazing, talented, giving, generous, dignified, honest single women out there.  Most of them want, at some point, to be married.  If Ms. McMillan was honest with us she would have defied her own theory with many examples in her acquaintance – as we will all have – of women who are angry, slutty, shallow, lying bitches who are… you guessed it!… MARRIED.