December 9, 2016

Friday ~ Woohoo!

It is Friday, my last Friday, for the semester. I am feeling so anxious today — not sure why — but I am. Perhaps it is just the end of the semester getting to me or perhaps it is because I know that my fall has ended, and that means that my spring is just around the corner. And, ta-dum! Spring means my dissertation defense and my graduation from Regent University. And, that, I think is my stressor point. I am feeling the “burn” so to speak simply because I am not where I had hoped to be at this point in the month. I have not started my data importation or my analysis, and well, I am starting to panic a bit. But, praise be to God, I am trusting Him for my timeline. He has me well-covered, and I believe He will see me through each and every step of the process.

God is good, so very good. All the time, He is good. He is so very good to me! Selah!

Thinking More About Style

So, this past week has been difficult for me. I have processed A LOT of old history, old issues, and I feel better, more settled in my mind and in my opinion as to the cause and effect story that is “my life.” Yes, I have come to this place of agreement, whereby I feel ready to accept all the “trash” along with the “treasure” that has been my life for the past 54 years. Today, thus, I think I am finally at the starting line, ready to leave the past behind, and now, clear headed and forward thinking, I am ready to tackle the big unknown “future.” I am ready, so very ready.

In some ways, this “readiness,” has been a long time in coming. I have felt, “Ready,” for months now, but I still had some lingering thoughts, doubts really, that caused me to feel so unsure, so uncertain, so tentative about my next steps. Lately, however, I have realized that any hesitation on my part will cause my forward movement to stall. Therefore, it is vitally important that I agree, really agree, with the Lord’s assessment of my life, in total, in order to let the past go. For the last several years, I have blogged about my path, my journey through single hood. I have written posts that explored my inner thoughts and feelings, and where I critically analyzed decisions, situations, and outcomes that affected my ability to function normally, to be whole and well in my mind and in my body. These posts were cathartic for me, and they gave me a forum where I could examine my role in the process. In truth, the whole experience was healing for me. I learned how to deal with hurt, hardship, and then allow the Light of Christ to heal those old wounds, to finally allow Christ access to the deepest and darkest parts of my soul, my psyche. In this way, and through the writing process, I was able to let all the past come to the surface, to sort through it, accept the reality of my actions and the outcomes that came as a result, and then in the end, let them float away. I let the hurt float away.

I didn’t realize how important it is to let the hurt, the past hurt, go. I know many people who still hang on to their hurt. They bury the remnants down deep inside, and they act as if they have moved on, but with one small trigger, one word or thought, the hurt boils up again inside of them. For whatever reason, the Lord has determined that in my life, I must not live this way. The hurt has to be removed from my heart, and all of my attempts to bury it, to hide it away, simply would not suffice. No, I had to let it all come out — the ugly parts, the sinful parts, and the shameful parts — just so I could be free, really free, and ready to move on in my life.

The truth hurts. And, at times, the truth can be shockingly difficult to accept. In my own life, I have had to come to terms with so much sorrow, so much sadness, so much suffering, and in this way, I have had to accept, agree, and acknowledge what other people did to me (to hurt me) as well as what I did to myself (to cope with the hurt). Now, that I am free, finally free, I am better able to function as a minister to others. I am better able to let the “me” part go so that I can begin to see others and their pain. It is important to understand that I didn’t simply wish it away or choose to “not discuss it,” no, not at all. Rather, I did discuss it. I wrote about it here in my blog, and in doing so, I had a conversation with myself. In doing so, I gave myself license to vent, to cry, to absorb the truth, and through it all, the result was a liberation of my spirit, and the restoration of my sanity, and my sincere desire to help other people. Yes, the Lord provided a great service to me. He helped me discover who I really was under all those layers of hurt. He helped me learn about myself, and yes, even come to like myself. He showed me my inner strength, my power, and then gave me the victory to overcome some lingering sin issues as well as areas of weakness (where my enemy tempted me). I was able to finally put to bed some problems that had plagued me since childhood, to break the cycle, so to speak, so that these things no longer have power or hold over me.

In many ways, the Lord showed me how to break the cycle of addiction, and in this way, He helped me come clean, to finally be free from the control that these things had over my life. As such, I am able to walk in a new way, and this means that I can now help others who might be dealing with similar things — without getting emotionally involved or upset — as they deal and process through their hurt and sorrow.

“In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you” (Matt. 5:48 Message)

I remember Joyce Meyer saying that you cannot minister to others if you are still struggling with your own hurt. It takes time and the healing of the Holy Spirit to allow that hurt to be healed, and once it has been healed, then real ministry begins. I am at this place now, where I feel I can handle the emotional aspects of another person’s sorrow, and in this way, I can be a compassionate and considerate supporter, someone who can come alongside of them and offer them a warm hug and a tender word of encouragement.

My journey has been difficult, but the good news is that I processed through it, and now I stand at the ready, the starting line. I am waiting for the gun to go off so I can take my leave, and begin to run this race of faith with more zeal and confidence then ever before. God be praised, I am good. I am whole. I am healed. He is so good to me, so very good to me.

Self-Worth, Esteem and Identity

The reader, at this point in time, might be saying, “So what does style have to do with healing?” I would say, “Not much,” but that would not be entirely true. I titled this section, “Thinking More About Style” because style, personal style has a lot to do with how one sees their own self. One of my students did her presentation on fashion and how fashion forms and supports our sense of identity and self-worth. She viewed it from the standpoint of communication, and looked at how fashion communicates who we are to the world. In the same way, our personal style, be it fashion or hair or home, is an extension of our personal uniqueness, and yes, it supports and helps to identify our sense of “ownership.” Our style says to the world, “This is who I am,” and it communicates our impression of worth and valuation.

Over the past few months, I have explored style through Pinterest. I am addicted to that social media platform (in a good way, I mean). I love Pinterest. At first, I was tentative about it, but now I have almost 10K pins, and some 120 followers (LOL!) all because I wanted to discover my own unique style. I have decided that my personal style is somewhat eclectic, but leans toward traditional along with some modern and industrial elements. I prefer symmetry, wide clear spaces, and a lot of white (or creamy white). I don’t like junk, clutter, or a lot of things that collect dust. I am not a minimalist, per se, but I do prefer clear counters, and things put away when not in use.

As I have explored my style, I have come to realize that I like a lot of things, a lot of different things, and in this way, my style is really a mod-podge of different traits and characteristics. Likewise, in my personal dress, I tend to favor traditional over trendy. I like some trends, but mostly I favor styles that flatter my figure and that are very practical for me to wear, day in and day out. My hair, the bane of my existence (on some days), has always been a challenge for me. Now that my hair has more gray, I am stuck with coloring it or looking mousy and washed out. For the next few years, I will stick with coloring it a natural dark blonde color (it suits me). My eyewear is traditional, wire framed, and sort of oval shaped. I prefer pink to black, tortoise to silver, in frame color.

It has been a long while for me to discover that I prefer my hair long to short. I wear my hair short, most of the time, simply because when it gets long, it gets time consuming. But, I like myself better with longer hair. So once again, I am growing my hair out to shoulder length, blunt, with bangs for softness and some layers around the face (I like Cindy Spivey’s look — right). In all, my style says something about myself. I have decided that no matter how hard I try to look fashionable and upscale, I tend to look very midwestern soccer-Mom-ish. I simply cannot force myself into heels and short skirts, and I cannot get away from my jeans and Sketcher tennis shoes.

My professional wardrobe is standard black. I wear black pants every day to work, and I usually layer tee shirts with sweaters and minimal jewelry. In the colder months, I wear jackets over my long sleeve tees. I am not one for scarves, but occasionally, I will wear one. My shoes are professional and comfortable. I cannot wear heels and stand all day long, so I opt for Sketchers clogs with memory foam in them. I look a little matronly, but at least my feet don’t yell at me when I am done for the day.

In all, my style has been redefined, but in many ways, it is the same style I have had since I was first in college. I wear the same type of clothes that I did when I was 20. Granted I don’t wear the prairie look anymore (that went out in the 80s), but I do wear dress pants, shirts or blouses, jackets or sweaters, and flat shoes (Now, I like Jo-Lynne Shane’s style — see left). I wear “horn rimmed” spectacles, and my hair, while not to my waist, hits my shoulders and looks eerily similar. I have shaken things up, but I tend to settle back to this style after a while. I like my short hair, and I think it looks sporty. My Mom says I look “years younger,” but then I hear the same from people who say that long hair flatters me and I look like I am in my 30s and not 50s. I guess it is just personal preference and style choice, so if one likes short hair more than long, that is what they will say when they give their opinion.

My desire to create a style is simply to finally accept that there are certain things I like more than others, and that throughout the years, while my stronger family members dictated a preferred style for me, and I often compromised to please them, the truth be told, I am very comfortable with my own style now. I am very comfortable saying that I tend to favor “country” over “chic modern.” I can say that I like some of the modern farmhouse look I see (Joanna Gaines, aside), but not the trendy “farmhouse” look that HGTV seems to say is the rage. I like old fashioned things, but not shabby chic ones. I like an English or Scandinavian feel — white and uncluttered — more than I like typical American country. Yes, I am eclectic in my preference, but now after all these years, I think I can finally say that I have come home, I have come into my own, and I know what I like and do not like when it comes to my own personal style and my lifestyle choices.

In Closing

As I have come to this point in my life, I am able to finally say that I like myself — all of myself. I am happy, content, and well-satisfied in who I am today. I am comfortable in my own skin, and I can now embrace my self in such a way that I can show others that healing from past hurts is possible. It is possible to no longer live as a victim, and to no longer be imprisoned in the past. Christ came to bind up the brokenhearted, to heal the sick, and to set the captives free. I am free in every way, even in my own style and sense of style, because in being free, this simply means that I am finally able to embrace the person God created and designed me to be. I am free, indeed.

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