Creating Our Own Clouds

Photos by Chris Lawton and frank mckenna on Unsplash

I’ve learned recently something all too true, and somewhat scary… we often in life create our own clouds, our own pain, our own drama.

There was a situation recently where I had a choose to do or not do something regretful, and unfortunately, I didn’t choose wisely. I chose a chaotic storm of events that has filled me with sadness and grief ever since.

What was I THINKING?! I’ve asked myself for weeks. Not that I condone living in regret and shame—there is no reason to replay a series of bad events over and over. But I did and do need to process alone and with those closest to me—what is going on and what led to me making one bad decision over a different good decision?

I created my own clouds, my own STORM really, and didn’t have to.

But then, I realized the hope. I didn’t have to.

I actually had the power to not walk into that decision. I had the power to choose differently. Which means I have the power to choose differently the next time.

Sometimes when there are clouds over our lives, clouds that keep us bogged down, we need to recognize that those painful things that “happen to us” aren’t really happening to us at all, but are a series of choices that we could have made differently. And when we can realize that difference, we become empowered.

We become empowered to see joy in pain, to learn, to walk through the steps of making the wrong right again.

Creating clouds and storms can honestly grow us, if we let them. It’s time to recognize we have a choice and to let those painful things change us into more wise and mature people. Kinder. More loving.

Storms, clouds, and chaos. It’s time to stop worrying about what we did wrong. Or for some it’s time to stop playing the victim. Instead, we need to see where we have control, and need to take control back into our own hands, learn from the pain, and let sun shine on us again.

“Practically Perfect in Every Way” -Mary Poppins

BrookCagle

PC: Brook Cagle

NOT.

I’ve done some pretty ridiculous things over the years that some might call dumb. Or silly. Or crazy.

One time, when I was leaving Sevilla, Spain to travel on to Tel Aviv, Israel I HAD to get to the Spanish post office to ship a suitcase home to the USA the night before I left Europe. So with about 2 minutes till the post office closed, I ran through the city, brandishing a sword in front of me that I bought in Toledo, Spain, which I also had to ship and had no box for, dragging a 60lb suitcase behind me that didn’t even have wheels. Spaniards thought I was a crazy American, ducking and tripping out of my way as I yelled “!Perdoname!” through crowds with the sword in front, suitcase bumping along in tow praying there was a line at the post office and it would be open late.

Another time, when I lived in Southern California, I pulled off the freeway to the exit on my way home. Waiting for traffic to slow down, so I could merge and join them, I inched forward with my car. As I looked left to make sure it was safe to merge, a man who was homeless, dehydrated, and in need of hospital care stumbled across the intersection and collapsed on my car. A homeless man on my car in the middle of an intersection! I didn’t know what to do.

Another day more recently, I ran bra-less through town trying to find a present for a bridal shower that started in two hours. I didn’t have a bra because it had been about 5 weeks that I had done laundry. So I had to buy a new bra, and a present, and pretend like I didn’t have a hangover as I showed up a flustered mess wearing the previous nights makeup to this shower. Oh yeah, and I arrived an hour late to the party because I got lost on my way. Even though I had GPS and it was in my hometown.

I’ve crossed lines with people and relationships, started things that I can’t finish, and wondered what the heck am I doing with my life most of the time.

And while this has been going on, I’ve smiled and laughed, and even had fun, not realizing the problem till after the fact, only then asking God for help to deal with my heart as I’ve felt guilty to the world around me in my mistakes.

During one such prayer, it occurred to me that at least part of what I’ve been dealing with is why Jesus called the Pharisees “hypocrites” in Mathew 23:27. They were more concerned about their image than their own hearts and souls. And like them, I prayed that God would protect my image and reputation… that was my biggest worry in the moment.

So then I realized not only do I choose sin, let people walk all over me, but also the cherry on top, I’ve been a hypocrite too worried more about my image than anything else! Wow. Praise the Lord I have any friends at all after some of my ups and downs.

But the beauty is, I DO have friends. Some really great ones that sprinkle truth, encouragement, and understanding for the decisions I make. And through it all I’ve been learning about myself– that I’m not as strong as I think I am. That sometimes I’m a hot mess. And that I’ve been putting myself in a box with what I think I want in life.

Beyond that though, I’ve been learning about God– that He is faithful, doing WORK in me to answer some pretty major heart prayers. That He has me right where He wants me at this point in life. Mostly I’ve been learning alllll about His grace and mercy.

You see what is grace and mercy without sin? Grace and mercy mean everything because of sin, not in spite of it.

In years past when I’ve messed up, I’ve wallowed in it, living in guilt like a rat in a sewer afraid to come out to the light of day.

But not this time. I realize now that I live in a sinful world and it is inevitable that I will find myself messing up. And it isn’t tragic to the point of wallowing away like sewer rats. It’s human. I am human as you are, and that is why we need a Deity to come down to the crap that humanity has made the world, to rescue us, and to pull us out. We need a God. And the God who calls me His daughter was and is willing to do just that! With all of His grace and all of His mercy…

How AMAZING that my Best Friend since I was 5 years old when I asked Jesus to come save me, is even better than the friends I call up, text, or grab a drink with to talk about the latest life lessons! With Jesus, I don’t have to explain myself. I get to bring my depressing, crappy issues to His feet- that He immediately, no questions asked, begins to Build, Restore, Teach, Edify, Encourage, and the Laugh with me about.

I’m honored and humbled that He loves me that much. That He shows me my blind spots in real life situations. That this weekend, or last, or the one before that are not where my life ends, but are building blocks to the next season. And His heart is all about restoring me back to Himself for His own glory. I have the faith of a mustard seed to move on- chasing rainbows, dreams, and promises that He’ll fulfill saturated with grace and mercy flowing down.

“After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you” (1 Peter 5:10).

I don’t have all the answers, but that is the whole point in not being perfect. I’m not supposed to have all the answers. God tests us, He lets us choose paths, He lets us make decisions, He opens doors at the right times, and He redeems the messes we make, if we let Him.

Sometimes I spill coffee on myself in the car. Or bite my nails when I’m nervous. Or buy new bras because all of my current ones are dirty. And even as a 25 year old grown woman, I broke a vase of my mom’s and tried to hide it. But I realize when I let go of trying to be perfect, He can finally work and reveal to me the truth of who I really am– a forgiven daughter of the King. The bottom line is: I’m not perfect and I’m done trying to live some image of myself who tries to be. So in choosing not to be perfect by my standards, I am FINALLY allowing Him to move in me with all of His.

“I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me” (Philippians 3:12).

Thirsty.

 

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The heat in the room, the pounding music that thumps your heart, the drinks that you’ll down because of how thirsty you are. It doesn’t matter who the guy is, as long as someone is telling you the words you want to hear. That you are beautiful, desired, and worth it; that he’s never met anyone as funny and cute as you. If you were to check in with yourself and think, instead of simply feeling how good this charming stranger’s hand feels on the back of your neck and that his flirtatious words sooth a dry spot in your cracked heart, you might realize how deeply unsettling it is that a stranger can have such an emotive effect on you. Your heart is broken, and you don’t even know it. And you are willing to do anything to feel the love you deserve. Even through the combined magnetism and repulsion, disconcerting push and pull, feelings of anxiety and excitement of his lips on yours. But is this really what you deserve, is this really what you want to feel, a confusing mix of precious and worthless?

Bodies are packed against each other. Trying to sway and move to the music. Drunken arms cling to the seductive figures behind them. Guys grope anyone with the boldness to wear a thigh-high dress. Girls stumble in their sparkling high heels, splashing you and everyone around them with sticky, sweet alcohol. Your dress clings to you from sweat and other peoples’ beverage, and for a second you think, “I wasn’t made for this.” All you want is to be alone, safe, in the fresh air that the cool night offers. You silently long for the quiet solace that the twinkling stars in the black sky whisper down to you. You languish for two moments of reality, without someone physically pushing past you as if you are just an object in the way. But. The thoughts are fleeting as the noise is loud, the beat is deep, and you remember that the guy behind you is judging everything you do. Your moments of being kept in his arms or abandoned on the dance floor to the ocean of men around you hinge on how you move your body against his and the witty comments you throw back to his seductive manners. So, you shake off the annoyance, pain, and all thoughts of relief with a flip of your curls, a sassy dark-lipped smile, and another swig of bitter alcohol. And the drink does exactly what it is supposed to. As it takes away the pain it also dulls any faint hint of the still small voice inside that wants you to desperately know, there is more to life than this. This is not your destiny. And yes, you do deserve love. But not like this. Not from a provocative pub rat that captured your attention with a free drink and hot breath on your cold skin.

This still small voice is asking, telling, pleading for you to listen. But when the pub rat’s hand moves to yours and the other pulls you close, what becomes reality? The reality is you are scared, and the still small voice is so far away as you put the glass to your lips once more. You know you should stop, but you’re just so thirsty. And you forget to ask yourself, is a drink with this guy, a sloppy sweaty kiss in the night, worth the shame and regret you know you will feel in the morning? Or did you forget, that the last time you did this- the last time you allowed someone to make you feel important for two minutes in the night- you woke up feeling so empty and lonely that you were scared to be alone for fear of what might happen? Did you forget?

You know people are watching, but they are all doing it too. After all, this is why people came here. For a kiss and a word and a moment to feel the love they deserve. And you forget to ask yourself is this what love is? His hand moves to your thigh and suddenly it’s too much. But you laugh, because if you don’t, he might leave you. And then you will be alone because you don’t know where your friends are. And since you are insecure, you keep dancing and drinking, drowning out the war of voices inside of you as he pulls you even closer to himself, doing things to your body you would just rather not remember. So you drink to forget and drink to be encouraged. He doesn’t know, no one knows, not even your friends of the pain that you feel.

Ahh the friends, and there is another word that lines up perfectly on this Path of Fake you find yourself stumbling down quickly. The friends who just an hour before said you were beautiful, hot, sexy and damn it if you don’t deserve the best guy tonight. So they left you in his arms, because clearly this attractive beguiling guy, with one thing on his mind, is the best you can do. You and your friends had kissed and hugged each other, giggling as you painted your faces with red, pink, and all manner of colors and shapes around your eyes; covering the God-given “blemishes” that you don’t want the world to know about. And as you drank wine and posed in front of the bathroom mirror you told each other, “This, this is how I want the world to see me.” This is as close as you will be to a model on a magazine cover, and so you pursed your lips and flashed your cameras, hoping for a thousand likes online to boost your confidence in the fake appearance you all so carefully wrapped yourselves in.

Wait a second, you think. When did the Path of Fun and Freedom become the Path of Fake? And where are you now, oh child dancing in the night? When did you end up on the Path of Lonely and Alone? You were untouchable. Right? You were dancing with the crowd in laughter. But how long ago was that? Ten minutes, weeks, months? Did you lose the crowd on Path of Fake? Were there that many twists and turns in the tunnels of your heart and mind that everyone left you to Path of Lonely?