It’s a Secret

I find it interesting that my last post was during Holy Week in the season of Lent and now it is Advent. Both are seasons of reflection and preparation for marvelous times. I also find it interesting that the last post was about loving too much and I sit here this morning victim of the same circumstance and wondering how I will get myself out of this situation.

I heard a sermon a few years ago that has always stuck with me and the underlying theme in the sermon was really about expressing love openly .The preacher asked what would have happened if Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus had loved Jesus openly. The gospel of John records the story that after Jesus’ crucifixion, Joseph asked for Jesus’ body to bury it and tells us that Joseph was a secret disciple of Jesus because he feared the repercussion of the Jews.  Joseph was accompanied by Nicodemus whom John tells us had visited Jesus under the cover of night, also implying that his following of Jesus was not commonly known.  I was and have been arrested by this premise since then.  In fact, I have been having an inner dialogue on the notion that secret love is no love at all.

Secret love is no love at all.  As much as I enjoy (get life from truthfully) Olivia Pope and her onscreen love affair with President Grant in Scandal, there is a piece of me that says that is not really love…or certainly not fully realized love.  Back rooms, whispered conversations, stolen glances…that is not love, yet so many times that is the situation in which we find ourselves and I am not only talking about extramarital affairs.  Sometimes we find ourselves in situations where both people are single and there are no obvious barriers to a public declaration of love, yet that declaration never really comes.  There are no status updates, no pictures, no acknowledgement, yet there is a seeming connection.  No doubt, Jesus’ inner circle knew on some level the connection between Joseph and Nicodemus and maybe others but if pressed to describe it publicly, I imagine they would not be able to do so beyond the superficial.  Well, they eat lunch together, they have a lot of the same friends or they attend the same church.  Surface connections only. No depth. No substance.

Now that is not to say that you have to publish the play book of your relationship.  You do not have to announce every action, publish every text or relay every phone call and conversation, but if you cannot acknowledge that you are in relationship or that you like, love, enjoy or admire her or him, if you won’t sit next to, touch or talk to her or him when you are in the presence of others, inner circle or otherwise, then it calls every private moment into question.  At least I think it does.

See this is where I find myself after all these years of inner dialogue…equivocating on the subject.  Is my heart so damaged that I am willing to accept a flawed version of love simply for the sake of relationship? I don’t think so, because I know this is not what I want but it is what I have accepted. I have been unwilling to articulate that this level of relationship is unacceptable and in the final analysis, silence equals complicity.  And again, hear me when I say that I am not regretful of the things that have transpired.  Just like Joseph’s and Nicodemus’ actions and interactions with Jesus were, the moments shared, the conversations, the vulnerabilities exposed were necessary things.  They had value and meaning and a place in the story. But now there is a new possibility, a different desired outcome and that demands different actions because doing the same thing and expecting a different outcome is insane. I don’t want to be crazy in love. Sorry Beyoncé.

At Lent, when this thing began, it was shiny and new.  Now it is advent and the shine has dulled so it is time to evaluate this thing.  Can the shine be restored or is it time to find something new? I don’t know the answer today, but when I do, rest assured it will not be a secret.

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Too much?

As Holy Week begins tomorrow for the Western Church, I find myself in a contemplative mood.  I was driving around aimlessly today even though I had a million things to do because I could not focus my thoughts clearly.  The fog that is hanging over my mind is dense with the notion of loving too much. It looks wrong as I type it. It sounds wrong when I say it out loud.  It really should not be possible to love too much, but it is and I am guilty of it.  

On an intellectual level, I get it.  It is about balance and boundaries and protecting one’s heart, but deep on the inside, I don’t want the depth of my love to be problematic.  After all, it takes me a very long time to open my heart (see aforementioned boundaries and whatnot) because I have some abandonment and some trust issues that even at 43 are not fully resolved, but once I make the decision to let you in, we should not have any problems. And yet I spent 40 minutes wasting time and gas considering why I love some people too much. Why do I love people who mishandle me, betray me, take me for granted? Well because it’s love.  A writer far more eloquent than I said it best:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

And as a matter of faith I believe that everywhere the word love is in the above quote I should be able to substitute my name so that my life is an embodiment of love, and if that is true and I love too much, then what does that say about me, my life, my faith?

I mean, I get it, we should not love folk who don’t deserve it, who mistreat and abuse the privilege of sharing our space but as we get ready to enter Holy  Week and rehearse what is for the church the greatest act of love EVER and includes profound moments of betrayal, mistreatment and judgment, well I have a difficult time finding the appropriate limits. I am not suggesting that I am Jesus or that I love perfectly like he did but where is the line.  When does love become too much?

At this point, I only have questions but I pray that this Holy Week will reveal some answers.  Speak to my heart Holy Spirit.

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To Tell The Truth

One of my favorite movies of all time is Mean Girls.  I love it so much and quote it often.  Apart from Lindsay Lohan at her finest moment, it is a really accurate portrayal of how Girl World functions.  I am sure that is due to the fact that it is actually based on a nonfiction sociological study, but whatever the reason, I love it.  One of my favorite exchanges occurs early in the movie when Cady, the new girl, is sharing that she likes this guy who is the ex-boyfriend of her new-found friend Regina.  The other two members of the clique explain to her why that is a bad idea and the final line is from Gretchen Wieners who says: irregardless, ex-boyfriends are just off-limits to friends. I mean that’s just like the rules of feminism!

I am Gretchen Wieners.

Don’t get me wrong…I have done my share of man=stealing, but never from anyone I considered to be a friend.  I have a couple of situations that might look suspect on the surface, but trust me when I say that if I have knowingly dated your ex-man, then I don’t consider you my friend.  It just is something that I don’t do.  I am not sure if feminism has rules but if it does, that ought to be one.  I know a good man is hard to find.  I know all is fair in love and war.  I know it is tempting, but just don’t do it.  Friends are much harder to find than a date.  Trust me.

Anyhoo..Having said all that, here is my present situation.  I totally had some unresolved feelings for this guy – we will call him Rusty.  Our relationship never really amounted to anything, but I thought we were on the road to being solid friends.  He is smart and funny and we see people and the world similarly, but what really endeared me to him is that he completely understands me and how I function.  He gets my sense of humor, he can handle my silences and moods without being messy or aggressive and we like to eat the same things.  He understands when I need attention and gives me said attention.  He knows me.  At any rate, when we reached that tipping point that every relationship comes to, well, we did not negotiate it expertly at all and things kinda fell apart quickly, but we found ourselves together again and trying to make that transition from prospective partner to faithful friend and part of that transition required us to talk about some very sensitive things.  I really thought we turned a corner when I asked him a very important question and at the time he gave me what I thought was an honest answer.  Two weeks later, however, I discover that it was false.  Not a bit of truth to be found.  It was a bold-faced lie!  I was, and still am, hurt and disappointed.

Ok I know you all are thinking given my opening paragraph that he is dating one of my friends, but no he is not.  However because we have a lot of people in common, I found myself questioning how many of my friends knew the information I discovered and did not tell me because in my mind, that is the same level of transgression.  It’s funny how much one lie will make you call everything you know into question and for a minute I was on such a rage spiral because I did not think that I could trust anybody.  But thankfully, I reached out to some friends that I know value honesty and truth as much as I do, and when I tell you they showed me such love and compassion and helped me look at the situation so rationally that I soon found myself in a good and happy place. I was not even angry when I saw Rusty the next day.

I wrote all of this to come to this point: just tell the truth.  I don’t think most people get up intending to lie or to hurt someone.  In fact, I think a lot of people lie because they think it will help the situation or they don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings, but what’s done in the dark will soon come to light and people are better prepared to handle the revelation when expectations have been properly set.  If you give people true, timely, reliable information, then they can make the best decisions for themselves.  If Rusty had just told me the truth, then we could have had a very different conversation that night and been well on our way to a healthy happy friendship instead of the awkward place we find ourselves in now.  In time, I know we will work things out, but think of all the good times we’ve forfeited because of one lie.  Just tell the truth.

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Out of Sync

I learned at a very early age to be independent.  It was a painful lesson but for the most part it has served me well.  I don’t have any problems figuring out what I need to do to survive and I know how to make things happen.  Recently I have realized however, that sometimes my fierce independence can be a hindrance as well.

I have been independent for so long that it makes it difficult to trust and to wait.  This is especially is true in my important relationships.  I am finding that I don’t always recognize when someone is trying to show me that I can trust and depend on them.   This is a problem.  I have grown so accustomed to being disappointed and not considered, that I fail to recognize that I am being considered, that I won’t be disappointed.  I have danced to my own rhythm for so long, that I find it difficult to dance in step with someone else leading.  I have heard the sound of my own heart for so long, that I am now out of sync with the rhythm of love.  This is a problem, but there is good news.

The good news is that I am aware of my situation and knowing is half the battle and there are some very important people who have not been afraid to tell me to slow down and sometimes shut up so that I can appreciate the significance of the moment.  I am learning to trust and take some people at their word, to not immediately expect heartbreak or disappointment.  I am learning to hear the song in someone else’s heart and recognize that it fits in my heart’s score. 

Finally, the best news of all is that my lessons are coming from a very unexpected teacher.  He probably has no idea how significant his words and actions are to me and at this point that is fine.  He shows me what love is, pure and clean, and is compelling me to get back in sync. 

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I have been on vacation from work this week, and I have enjoyed every minute.  My goal for the week, in addition to celebrating my birthday, has been to handle all of those things that go unresolved during the regular hustle and bustle of my life.  I have some business matters, some things around the home and some personal matters that have been unresolved for far too long.  I decided that I would tackle them in order of the size of the job, and with the exception of one business matter, the majority of the things at the end of my list are personal matters.  Those are the big unresolved moments in my life.

Today I tackled my virtual life as it were.  I cleaned up my Facebook and Twitter accounts and settings and this evening I went about my email inbox.  Like many of you, I have a number of subfolders where I move important information, things I need to take action on or that are in progress and tonight I doscovered that I had a number of folders where the most current item was at least a year old.  At first I was overwhelmed thinking that sorting through them would take forever, but then I decided that if I have not dealt with it or revieiwed in all that time, well I could delete the entire folder.  What at first was a remarkably large task suddenly became quite easy. Delete.

Until I got to the last three folders.  Two of them had items in there that were several months to at least a year old, but because of the situations they addressed, I could not bring myself to delete them.  Even though one of them has not had any activity, since 2010, I could not delete it.  That situation is still unresolved in my heart and in my mind.  So I left those three folders but at least I am keenly aware that those matters are still current for me, even though the dates are stale.  It has given me a lot to think about.  I am not sure I have the fortitude to resolve them this week, but I will certainly start the process.

The good news in all of this is that I was able to clear up a lot of things and there is now much more room in my inbox and more time for me to deal with the bigger issues and that is a lesson that is as old as human history.  We don’t have to let our lives be occuppied by the little things, the old hurts, the small issues.  Let those go and deal with the weightier matters of life.

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Whenever I get to the end of a relationship, I always think about how I even ended up in the relationship in the first place, and nine times out of ten the answer is the same: he had potential.  While I am not naturally a nurturer, I love special projects and a man with potential is exciting.  I look at him and immediately see all the good and while I am aware of the rough spots, I see them as opportunities to make something fantastic happen.  I actually think that is one of my better traits: I appreciate one’s raw material.  But at this point in my life, I don’t have the fortitude to take on any special projects beyond myself.  I want someone on my level or better even, someone who might look at me and say: she has potential.

But I just want to put in the universe why I danced to his rhythm, even for a short time.  I love that he can look at me and know I don’t feel well or something is wrong.  I love that we both like potato salad and honey mustard dressing on salad.  I love his beautiful mind and that he always knows the right thing to say.  I love that he thinks I am smart and funny and when I asked him what he liked best about me he said I was classy and sophisticated.  I love that he puts his family first and I love that we can have difficult conversations like some people talk about the weather.  I love that he wants to be great.

And I love that one day when he comes into his own, the world won’t know what hit it.

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So Emotional

I think I have always been quick tempered.  Things run me hot very quickly, but I have never really wrapped my mind around it until recently.  I am a firm believer in owning my emotions and I take the time to acknowledge how I feel.  I love that moment in the movie Pretty Woman when the Richard Gere character is telling the Julia Roberts character about his therapy sessions and how long it took him to say: I am very angry with…you get the point.  I found it empowering to be able to declaratively say how I feel and that it really did not matter to whom that declaration is made.

In an ideal world, I would always declare my emotional state to the person who helped bring it about, but we all know that the world is far from ideal.  How many times have we failed to say I am angry with you, or I am disappointed in you, or I love you to the person who really needed to hear it?  Sometimes we can’t say it and sometimes we should not say it to them, but I am clear that it needs to be said.  Emotions are better expressed than not.

So I am thankful for the friends who have to listen to me rant and my Sock Monkey who has heard many a curse and felt many a tear fall.  I am grateful for those talks with Jesus where I can be totally honest and free.  I appreciate my sister friends who know everybody I really like and what they do to piss me off and I hope that I have provided a safe place for them to be so emotional as well.  I am convinced it’s a good thing.

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The Trainer

So I have been deep in the midst of relationship conversations with all of my sister friends this week. I don’t know if it is because the weather has gotten cooler or what is going on, but we all find ourselves trying to negotiate the significant relationships in our lives. In having these conversations, I am taken back to two very challenging conversations I had in my life about the subject matter. One was with my mother and the other was with my pastor.

My mom had been listening to me talk on the phone with a boy from my sixth grade class and afterwards she came in my room and I guess she did not like what I had to say about the situation because she turns and says to me: Jo, boys don’t like smart girls. I was speechless. Fast forward fifteen years and I am lamenting over how a relationahip was going to my pastor and he said to Jo, you are probably always going to be single because you are what we call a trainer girlfriend. You take men through the paces about how they should act and respond in a relationship and they are better men for it, and then they go marry someone else. Again, speechless. But I confess today that I took both of those conversations to heart.

In some instances, I actively embraced those conversations, entering into relationships with no intention of letting them develop naturally. I had all of my walls up, blinders on, heart guarded, whatever you want to call it because I resigned myself to the fact that it was going nowhere.

But then there were those other times when I opened the doors of my heart and soul, wanting to make it work, doing everything right only to find out that here I was training another one . I was the epitome of the words from that Vanessa Williams song:

‘Cause how could you give your love to someone else
And share your dreams with me
Sometimes the very thing you’re looking for
Is the one thing you can’t see

I gave so much and so freely only to be left for greener pastures until I just got to the point where I stopped looking or expecting…and then I turned 40.

At 40, I made the agreement to live free and that I would let go of any past notions or preconceptions. Now while I am still careful about opening the door of my heart, I am not unwilling to do so. I am just very selective about who I let in, but once you are in, well you are in. If you mishandle me, I am going to learn from it and move on until the next one comes along until I really find the best one or really when the best one finds me…

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I Just Want to Talk

I am a professional communicator.  I talk for a living and while my specific job title is something very different than that, talking is what I do.  What surprises me about that is that left to my own devices, I am pretty quiet and somewhat introverted, but when I have to talk, well I really talk.

Interesting enough, my desire to communicate effectively was driven by a time in my life when I really could not find the words to express myself and felt silenced and out of control.  Without giving you the blow by blow of my childhood days, suffice it to say that there was a lot going on in my family.  Most days I took it in stride and focused on my studies, but every now and then I needed to talk, to respond to the circumstances of my life and I simply did not have the words.  When I finally broke down in tears because I could not even tell the doctor how I was feeling, I made a vow that I would learn how to speak my mind, to share my thoughts, to express myself.

I was always a reader, but I committed to reading everything I could.  When other kids were out doing kid stuff, I was in my room with the dictionary or pouring through articles in my World Book encyclopedias.  I wanted to know what everything was so that I could talk about anything to anyone.

My desire for meaningful conversation has trickled down into my friendships and relationships.  I love people who talk to me in meaningful ways and not at me and who take the time to listen to me when I decide you are someone worth talking to…I really just want to talk.  Don’t get me wrong, I love adventures with friends but the best time we can spend together is at the dinner table or coffee shop just talking.  It works for me.  On the flip side, if you have no meaningful conversation or your conversation is constantly self absorbed or negative, I quickly dismiss you from my realm of interest.  Perhaps that is a bit unfair, but so be it.  It is what it is.  And of course, my greatest disappointment is me wanting to talk to someone who does not want to talk to me, but again, it is what it is.

I think that it why I started this blog…so that I can talk to myself out loud and maybe find some new conversation partners…time will tell.

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Hello world!

So I was talking with a friend today about how much I wanted to just go off in frustration over something that happened during the course of my day.  Really, I just wanted to get on Facebook and go HAM, complete with tags and photos.  Needless to say, I resisted the urge, but I was surprised by how much I wanted to do it.  Now I have kept a journal for years, but there is something very different about putting your musings into the universe.  It is in the same vein as  airing one’s dirty laundry on Jerry Springer honestly but there is a strange accountability to it.  There is something so right about being transparent, even when one behaves badly.

So I created this space to talk to myself out loud.  Welcome to my journey.

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