vulnerable bridges

It’s been an interesting 24 hours. I’ve felt quite overwhelmed, with good things, and bad things. And loadshedding (read the post here) continues…although not quite as bad as it was – we’re down to only being without power for four hours a day – I can handle that!
The funny thing is that even though we’re conscientious with the scheduled times and switch off plugs etc to prevent damage from power surges, the surprise cuts seem to have affected things somewhat. My modem appears to be confused – it seems to think its function is now that of a strobe light 😛 It’s rather fun watching the internet light go on and off every minute or so. Green…red….green….red…. it’s a special kind of Christmas tree 😛 adding holiday spirit to my home 😉

With regards to yesterdays post :

Thank you to those of you who have offered support, prayers and encouragement. It is very much appreciated at all times, please know that.

Up until a few months ago, I wasn’t aware that I could be reached at my private email address through WordPress. This isn’t a problem for me at all – as you all know, I love to communicate and make new friends – and of course I am always there for support and encouragement. I’d like to thank one lovely lady in particular for emailing me – I won’t mention her name but she knows who she is – your continued encouragement and outpouring of love and prayers touches my heart deeply. 

I did receive another email though, from someone that I wasn’t even aware was reading my blog. The irony of this email is that it’s from an ex-South African, now living overseas, who only returns to SA every few years for a week or two on holiday. I haven’t responded… I guess I’ll do so a little later… or maybe I’ll just leave this here :

I am well aware that yesterdays post was rather negative, and reveals that I have ‘that side’ to me. Unfortunately, living with, working with, seeing and being emotionally involved with the atrocities that are occurring here daily, it sometimes does affect me in a negative way. My heart is not made of steel. While I have the ability to practice ‘tough love’ in situations where it is called for, this does not mean that I do not shed tears when I am alone, and that it doesn’t affect me in any way.

So in a round about kind of way, this post is actually about vulnerability.

I am an extremely vulnerable person. And no matter how you try to convince me otherwise, I will never see this as a weakness. 
I AM an open book. You can pretty much ask me anything, and I will answer you. But I won’t just give you facts. I will share in a way that exposes my emotions and will ultimately open me up to the possibility of getting hurt. How else will I connect with you?

And you see, that’s the thing…. I truly believe that I am designed for the purpose of connecting – not just with God, but with other people. In order to achieve that purpose, unfortunately, I need to make myself vulnerable. 

And yes, it means I get ’emotionally hurt’ sometimes. (Other times it is the most rewarding thing for me!) But through all those experiences, the rewarding ones and the hurtful ones, I learn life’s greatest lessons, and the crucial skills that I need to continue with living this life.

Raw truth is necessary to connect. But it has another function too. If I am not prepared to be vulnerable and share the truth of my experiences and failings, then how will anyone ever be able to walk away from me knowing hope, kindness, goodness, grace and joy? 

I am about to make a statement that many are going to possibly attack me for :
I understand and a part of me has to agree with Ghandi : ”I’d be a Christian if it wasn’t for Christians.”

Except I AM a Christian. And now you’re as confused as a chameleon in a bag of skittles.

So I’ll explain it like this : I grew up in the church. And there were some who didn’t preach God, but showed me who He was. But from a little girl, through various stages in my life, I was emotionally, physically and sexually abused by people in the church who were in positions of leadership. I left in my late teens. I have returned many times, to different places, and found much of the same, sadly – except now it has added judgment for some of the bends in the road of my life.
It has been preached to me on numerous occasions that I am a dying ember – because to be a burning light, I need to be with the coals in the fire – a church. While I understand what they are saying, and agree that it is an amazing thing to worship with a group, I remain a dying ember. I guess? Well, in the churches opinion (and the opinion of most of my family members too). That’s where it all gets confusing, even for me…and we’re talking about me… so confusion reigns! 😛

It has taken me a very long time to fully appreciate the statement that ‘God is God, and I am not.’ In the same way, all those people seated in church, as well as all their leaders, are also not God. Which means that like me, they also suffer from sin – hidden or exposed, their choice. They choose to wear masks, instead of being vulnerable enough to admit to their failings. And this means that they never learn anything, and can never be helped. It discredits any good that those who know their secret sins could ever glean from their words or their seemingly perfect lives. By not making themselves vulnerable, they have prevented growth, not just in themselves but in their ‘victims’, because many of those ‘victims’ have turned their backs on God as a result.

I am no longer angry about the abuse I suffered personally. It’s been a long and very difficult road to get to that place. The circumstances surrounding those different types of abuse affected the options that were open to me – and while I could have made different choices, at those times the circumstances affected me negatively and I made a long list of bad choices.

In the past few years, I have grown. And here’s what I know :

I will never come into contact with someone who isn’t loved – I need to be kind always.

I have learned NOT to judge – because I don’t know what choices you actually had. And here’s an additional thing to add to that – take time to find the person they are at that very moment, and not who they were yesterday or last week – based on fact or rumors. Change takes time, but the choice to change takes a minute. By judging and making it known, you may just undo that choice.

Don’t preach it – be it. At the end of the day, my words are meaningless if I can’t show you.

Unconditional love. The hardest of all. So important though because it sums up all of the above, and so much more. I struggle with this particular one a lot. It is hard to love others, especially those who have hurt us. It’s a journey all on its own. 
I love my children dearly – but they know when they disappoint or upset or anger me – a statement often used in my house is this : I love you, but I don’t like you right now because…..
And my children have free reign to use it on me. And they have. I have learnt from those moments – sometimes I am unreasonable, and sometimes I have worded things in a hurtful way. If they did not have the opportunity to tell me, “Mom, I love you but I don’t like you right now because…”, we would all live in a war zone in our own home right now. Being able to say this, and then walk away, leaves time for what has been said to sink in. When the initial anger and hurt has passed, there has always been apologies, calm discussions and resolution. And the freedom to continue loving and liking one another.

So yes, I am vulnerable, even with my kids. How else do I teach them that not everyone is right all the time, and that even parents/adults fail?

Vulnerability HURTS sometimes! It opens me up to judgment and criticism, and nastiness and negativity. But it also grows, helps and heals.
There may be ten people judging me, attacking me, and hurting me when I am vulnerable enough with admissions of guilt and failings. But there may be ONE person who is listening…. and hurting…. who connects with me and experiences hope in their seemingly hopeless situation; who somehow finds healing in a broken piece of their heart; or feels a kindness that no one else has ever shown them and sparks a ‘kindness seed’ that they in turn sow themselves. 

Vulnerability is also sometimes VERY REWARDING! I would not make the beautiful connections and friends that I do along the way if I wasn’t. And many of them patch up broken pieces of my heart in their own way.

And that, for every person who is reading this, is MY purpose in life.

Words and actions WILL hurt me. I WILL spend time crying and experiencing a form of brokenness. I WILL wish that I had a steel heart. And I will have my moments where I fight being ‘good’. I have tried being bitter and angry – I even think nasty thoughts. I have the potential to be all those things – and I’d probably be very good at it. In my head, I do great…for about twenty minutes.

But I WON’T change. And I have come to accept that. I am, and always will be, vulnerable. 

(there’s green light on the modem, so I’m hitting publish! 😛 😉 )

emotionally easy and ghosting

“Sometimes you just have to stay silent because no words can explain
what is going on in your mind and heart.”
— Author Unknown

Some people struggle to explain the magnitude of emotions they are feeling, and think it is a pointless exercise.
I have always been classed as ‘not one of those people’. I guess you could say that when it comes to emotion, I’m easy.
Whether I am struggling with negative emotion, or bouncing off the walls in a state of positive euphoria, you will know. Because I will tell you. I’m honest that way.
And even when I have ‘no words’ ….given the opportunity, I will share many – not that my insights are always of great value. And despite the emotional verbal easiness, I don’t have to have the last word. But I also just don’t believe in silence.
How can I say care about, and have a passion for people, and yet not talk to them, hear them, communicate with them, be honest with them? Needless to say, ‘the silent treatment’ has never gone down well with me.

And so this new trend of ‘ghosting’ deeply concerns me.
Yet another breakdown in society – another replacement for the moral value of honesty.

Ghosting / giving someone the cold shoulder and silent treatment is not a new phenomenon. But the regularity and recent trendiness of it is – and although the association seems to be mostly within the online dating community, it’s filtering into everyday life too. And it’s doing a lot of damage. It doesn’t just end there – apparently there is also ‘soft ghosting’. This is where you don’t just sever contact completely – you give them the odd thumbs up, or like on a Facebook post or tweet – keep them hanging on a thread, perhaps?
(I have to mention here that cutting someone off after repeatedly communicating your reasons for not wanting to have them in your life is not considered ghosting.)
So here’s my emotionally easy view on the concept of ghosting, soft or not :

The above comes from the Urban Dictionary.
Another definition can be found at The Free Dictionary : Do not misbehave if you are unprepared or unwilling to accept the punishment. 

Online dating is not misbehaving (not generally 😛 ) and neither is the attempt at cultivating friendships and/or relationships. However, playing with someone’s emotions and possibly destroying their already fragile self esteem is.

The desire to seek out a partner for life, or to make a new friend, is not a crime. But unfortunately it does come with consequences and it will take your time.

Because any relationship is hard work. Investment is key to making it a success – in all aspects. And emotional investment means opening yourself up to not only a wealth of positive feelings, but sometimes negative ones too.
I am fortunate to have a handful of friends who have walked my road with me for more than twenty years. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t moments where they may still disappoint me, or say something that hurts, or bruise my ego. Because we’re all human and we all have our moments. We wouldn’t still be friends though if I chose to just cut them off. Communication has been the key to opening the door to a lengthy and fulfilling friendship with each of them.

I was recently ghosted by a new friend. Even as I type, I still have absolutely no idea what it is that I did/said wrong. What I do know though is that this particular new friend, by her own admission and in her own words, once said to me, ”I think I am a little bit emotionally immature. And I just can’t do confrontation. So if something upsets me, I rather just completely ignore it and walk away.”

So her ghosting me has come as no surprise. And although I am a little hurt, and completely dumbfounded as to the reason why, I understand that the crux of the issue is hers, and not mine. And this is an important thing to understand when you have been ghosted : it’s probably not personal and thus you should not own it. This is not always a reflection of your character, but most times a reflection of theirs.

In a world where ghosting and soft ghosting is trending, would it not be great to start a new trend? A trend of communication and honesty. A trend that says, “I will deal with you, and I see you, and I will tell you, because you matter!”

Because, ladies and gentlemen, all lives matter. 

Politics and Religion

On Friday I received a surprise phone call from a friend who is a medical representative, saying that she was in my area and wanted to know if she could pop in for a quick coffee. I am always up for a cup of coffee, even more so when shared with good company, and so of course I shifted things around in my schedule to make time for her to come over and visit.

We haven’t seen each other in a few months. Four, to be exact. Where has the time gone? I don’t like the times that life gives me things to do when I’d rather be doing something else. But it happens. A lot. And I have come to accept it. It’s made ‘catch up’ time something that is that much more dear to my heart, and I treasure the times I get to do the things I want to be doing.

I greeted her with a giant bear hug, and the first thing she said to me was, ‘I’m so glad it’s finally Friday’. I laughed out loud, because of my recent post referring to naming my days. She hasn’t read it, because ‘who really has time for blogging and then still reading what everyone else has to say’? Um, like with everything else that might possibly be important to you, you make time. I can’t be offended by her opinion though, because it’s her opinion and I respect that – and I also accept that while blogging is somewhat important to me, not everyone needs to share in that feeling. I did tell her about my post though, while pouring our coffee, and she loved the thoughts and ideas.

We moved on to other topics, and as only women can, we jumped from one subject to another – returning back where we started when another reminder of the ‘more’ we had to say on that topic entered our minds. Thankfully, we think alike, and neither of us were out of breath from the exercise 😉

There is one topic that I always try and avoid with this particular friend though. Most times that we’re together, I am successful. Friday was not a ‘most’. I guess now would be a good time to mention that her husband is in politics. I happened to mention to her that I was thinking about doing a few blog posts on where I live, but was trying to find a way to do it without ‘focusing on all the negatives’. I explained to her that I don’t want to harp on our current political climate – and then realized my mistake, too late! I blame it on the fact that I had not had sufficient coffee yet that day to equip my brain in the topic of avoidance.

I won’t go into great detail regarding her reaction to this, but suffice to say that she was not impressed. Apparently I am ignorant when it comes to politics, and if people like me were more committed to getting ‘the truth’ out there, then we wouldn’t be in the place we currently are in our country.
By the time she left, we were still friends. I think this is largely due to the fact that I was willing to admit to my political ignorance, and apathy.

Here’s the thing though: I am not ignorant to what is happening in the political climate of my country (although I am confused by the weather climate, since we have experienced such strange weather lately). I think that when you have a social media account, it is difficult to be ignorant about things like politics, and religion. My Facebook news feed is constantly inundated with the ‘latest political shortfall or scandal’, and the same goes for religious problems and issues.
When I was 23, I shyly admitted to my father that I felt like I was finally growing up. He asked me why I felt that. To which I responded, “I now read the newspaper and watch the news, almost every day”.
So I don’t just have Facebook to rely on as my political source – but I definitely have facts from the news too. Although, admittedly, these days I don’t watch the news on TV and I don’t buy a newspaper. I visit a variety of news sites via my web browser, and when I get tired of reading about all the horrible things that are happening and my heart feels like it can handle no more of seeing what people are doing to each other, I just click close. I wish I could do that in real time too sometimes.

If I absolutely had to get involved in a political debate, I think I could hold my own – for a short while, at least. I’d be able to hold my own a little longer if the debate was centered around a religion – particularly if it was focused on mine.

But here’s where one of my favorite words comes into play: choice.
The second definition at Dictionary.com seems to suit my post better, and so that is the one I will quote: “the right, power, or opportunity to choose”.
(I love the example they use: ‘The child had no choice about going to school.’ I tell my children this regularly.)
I have a right to choose my battles, even when it comes to matters that are of great importance – like politics and religion. And that’s what it boils down to for me. I find in my daily life, with a preteen and a teen who is almost a man, that I am constantly having to choose my battles. I also choose my battles with minor things – like when something breaks in the house. Am I going to get upset and have to call someone in to fix it; or am I going to Google this little challenge and fix it myself?
(I successfully fixed the leak in my drain pipe the other day, and for me this was a major achievement, and I’m proud of it!)

I am not trying to avoid any truths, and I am certainly not trying to ‘hide them from the world’ either. I am not entirely apathetic. But the world has Google, and if they really want to know the terror of my country, then they can look it up. I do not need to be political, and immerse myself in every bit of negativity associated with our current political climate. I am not sticking my head in the sand, and refusing to do anything – I still vote, even though it appears that it makes no difference. I try and assist those who have been affected by the horrible things that are happening; I give of myself as much as possible to my local community.

But there’s a reason why I am not a politician. And I never want to be.
I will do my small part with everything I have – but don’t expect me to focus and dwell on the negativity. I will ‘tell it like it is’ when necessary, but apart from that, I choose to not get caught up in the hype and choose to not participate in those conversations.

I think it also comes down to respect – and this is where religion comes into it too.
(I didn’t always feel this way, but as I have grown and had more life experience, I think I may have matured in my thinking. Although if you do not agree with me, you’re probably finding the faults here and have written me off as apathetic and ignorant. And that is your right, and your choice.)
Not everyone is going to believe what I do when it comes to ‘religion’. And those who do may be either more passionate, or less passionate, than me. And that’s okay. Because we are all different.
I have the right to believe what I believe, and am fortunate enough to be able to have the opportunity to choose, and live out that belief – because in some countries, people are dying for their Christianity.
And I respect the fact that others may have very different beliefs. I don’t involve myself in religious debates, or try and prove my point, simply because as far as I am concerned, no one has the right to judge me, and by the same token, I do not have the right to judge them.
I could say a whole lot more about religion, but then I fear I would be swaying towards giving you my opinion – which I am happy to do in a more personal way, if you wanted to really discuss it – but harping on about religion in this setting is not my style.

In the same way, I believe in respecting political views. I know a couple who are American, and they keep abreast of politics there, and their Facebook wall reflects this, as they post links and statuses relating to political happenings, and failings, regularly. That is their right, and I respect it. Do I ever comment? No.
Another word comes to mind though : Passion. It’s all about where yours lies. I am not ‘passionate’ enough about politics and religion to constantly be pushing for others to be more aware and agree with me, and that is my choice. I don’t criticize your passions, so maybe you could just please leave my lack of them alone?
Each and every one us has the right to choose to either be politically minded, or not. We have the power and opportunity to try and make a difference – even if it is just by voting, but we are not ignorant and apathetic if we choose to not share constantly in things revolving around politics.

And I suppose, at the end of the day. all this applies to life too. I wish we could all try and respect each other enough to be careful with our words, and afford each other the right to make choices. I wish we could stop using social media to attack each others opinions on things. I wish we could just agree to disagree. Most of all, I wish we could all respect human life enough to not take it in the name of politics, religion or whatever other reason we may have. But then again, if we were all doing all these things, then life would be perfect – we would all be perfect, and although the world would be a better place, it may not be as interesting.
I guess we ‘need’ politicians to spice things up a bit 😛

Reading through this entry, I do wonder if perhaps ‘I’ am what is wrong with the world (which was something else my friend hinted at). Perhaps if we were all as passionate as ‘them’ things would be different? I don’t know. I suppose I am entitled to my opinion, as everyone else is to theirs.
am working on some posts about my country, because it’s always great to learn about a new place – especially if you’re considering travel – and I will do my best to keep both politics and religion out of it. I guess there are some truths that will need to be told as I go along…but I am taking some time, and trying to present them in a way that are more entertaining and informative, than just an endless stream of negativity.

I leave you with this funny little thought, “If women ruled the world we wouldn’t have any wars – we’d just have a bunch of countries that were not talking to each other”.