Posted in My life in pictures, Post A Day Challenge

216/365 Stranger Danger?

Tonight I had the wonderful pleasure of having dinner with my new friend Debra from our growth group. I only met Debra a few weeks ago but, as with everyone in our small group, I feel like we’ve known each other for much longer. You see, it seems we are a group of sharers, and it’s one of the most liberating and rewarding experiences ever. Each person in our group has been so transparent and the honesty is sometimes overwhelming. We still have several weeks to go before we finish our study and I have no doubt that these relationships we are fostering will continue to grow well beyond our 10 week study.

I took advantage of a free Monday evening to invite Debra, who lives nearby, to meet up for dinner and some get-to-know-ya-better chit chat. Oh, and get-to-know-ya-better we did. It took us 2 hours just to eat our meal because we were both talking so much.

It was in the middle of one of my long-winded stories that the lady in the booth behind Debra decided to join us at our table. She literally grabbed her giant, almost empty, margarita glass and scooted right into the bench with Debra and began to recount pieces of the conversation we were just having. She explained how she and her husband had been listening to us talk and that she wanted to tell us ‘we were beautiful’. She explained that she had been listening to us talk about other people not in a bad way, but with love. She shared personal information with us that most definitely fell in to the TMI category and then went on to praise us for not sitting there gossiping about others. At some point Jesus became the topic of conversation and she squealed with drunken delight as she proceeded to proudly display her Jesus earrings that ‘she wears every day’.  Then she strangely began lecturing us on how we should unconditionally love everyone, just like Jesus did.  Then, in her next breath, she praised us for being good Christians and that the world would be a better place if there were more people like us.  It felt like several hours ticked by although I’m sure it was only about 15 minutes. Every now and then she would compliment us and then lecture us some more on unconditional love. She sat and talked and shared and talked some more until her husband, ever so delicately, encouraged her to get up and leave. After a few more minutes of “Bless Yous” she had finished her margarita and they were gone.

When I say “God bless Debra” right now, I truly mean God bless her. She sat there and tolerated this strange, very slurry lady hugging on her, and never once expressed any discomfort. I sat there completely in shock and bewilderment. I had no idea what to say or do. Debra was a champ and is now my new hero. Honestly, I think I would have handled that situation in an entirely, less Godly way had I been with anyone else. She was the epitome of grace under pressure. And the best part was when the lady was gone she looked at me and said, “She was nice. And that was odd.” And that was it. We picked up our conversation exactly where we had left it before our interruption and I never once thought about the lady and what had just happened again.

Well, at least not until I got home. As I sat thinking about what my blog would be about tonight, I kept thinking about the new TV show, “GCB” and desperately wanted to post the show’s logo. Seriously, while that lady was praising us for being good Christians, my warped sense of humor kept replaying that show over and over in my brain. I soooo wanted to come home and post that “tonight I was a GCB” but, alas, my fear of Debra reading this and NOT appreciating the humor kept me from doing just that. I did just a few hours ago give her the link to this blog and invite her to read my post from yesterday, so it is very likely she’s at this very moment reading. (*waves* Hi Debra!)

So, I moved onto plan b. Since the topic of our conversation had been all about unconditional love, I hit the googles and started searching for images reflecting scripture about God’s unconditional love for us. And of course, the rabbit hole opened up and here I am 2 hours later with a completely different post flowing from my fingertips to this page. After reading verse after verse and several bible study lessons on what unconditional love truly means, I settled on this one. I won’t share the details of our conversations or the personal stories from the tipsy woman, but I found this particular verse to be very appropriate for our evening’s conversations.

Debra, if you are reading, I just want to say again how much I enjoyed our evening. Your insight and perspective are inspiring and enlightening. I look forward to many more talks about faith, God, struggles and Jesus’ love for us.  I think I’m going to learn a lot from you.

Source: pinit.tk via Diana on Pinterest

Posted in My life in pictures, Post A Day Challenge

158/365 Reconnecting

Today has been a day of reconnecting. I had lunch with very dear friends and was able to wish them happy travels as they head to New Zealand for a 2 week cruise. After work Gil and I had dinner with more dear friends, Ross and Elise (below). We had not seen each other in months it was so nice to just have dinner and hang out. On our way home we popped into Collage in Ybor to catch the last few songs of my friend Matt and his band, Fight Another Day. We had not see Matt in a very long time so it was fun to catch one of their shows.  I’m really thankful for so much friendship and support as a new chapter starts in my life on Monday. I’m trying to see beyond the negatives  and focus only on the blessings, and today was all full up with blessings and good stuff.

Posted in beaty, Post A Week Challenge, Treasure Chest

Monday’s Treasure Chest – Feathers, Friends and Google TV

I can’t believe it’s been so long since I posted a Monday Treasure Chest. I’m going to try and get back on track with that by posting a few things I’m thankful for today. And yes, I realize today isn’t Monday but for the sake of this blog, let’s just pretend it is. Okay?

I am rockin’ some new feather extensions in my hair. I LOVE them! I want more. As a matter of fact, I’m already plotting ways to make that happen before we leave for vacation next week. My super awesome amazing hair designer, Sugar, ordered the extensions because I begged and pleaded and she loves me. They came in Friday afternoon. Yes, I was at the salon bright and early Saturday morning to get my new bling. Did I mention that I love them? If you are in the Tampa area, you should definitely go see her and get your own. See how awesome they look?

I also want to recognize a couple of people in my life who mean the world to me. You know who you are and I can’t thank you enough for being the real deal when it comes to walking the walk and talking the talk. I respect and admire you and and hope to live my life as authentically as you do. When I needed a sympathetic ear yesterday, you were both there for me. We haven’t talked in months but there was no doubt in my mind who I would turn to when I needed truth and honestly. You are two of the most beautiful women I’ve ever met and I am blessed to call you friend.

The last on my list is sort of a shameless plug in order to get myself some extra entries in a contest over at Aiming Low. Well, it’s not entirely insincere that I would write about Aiming Low because I do completely and utterly love the site and regularly stalk follow a few of the bloggers over there. I mean, who wouldn’t love a site that brings several of your all time favoritest bloggers (Anissa, Faiqa, and Cecily) together in one place?  How can you not be sucked into a website that’s is described as “…a group of women/men/moms/dads/bloggers/friends/writers that believe that there’s no shame in serving mac and cheese for dinner three nights in a row, Febreeze was created to make a questionably clean shirt smell ready-to-walk-out-the-door-fresh and that slack isn’t a way of life…it’s an art.” I do highly recommend you scoot right on over there because I guarantee there will be laughter in your future if you do.

One of the bloggers over at Aiming Low, MommyGeek, is launching a new bi-weekly column about geeky stuff. Helloooo. I’m all over it and can’t wait to read each new article she posts. She kicked off her new column in style by telling us all about Google TV and now I’m all in lust and must own this. Oh, and to make it even better, Aiming Low and Dish Network, are giving away a Google TV system. OMG! Can you imagine how much my dear husband would love me if I actually won this spectacular prize? So, I’m telling you guys all about it for two reasons. First, by doing so, I’m earning an extra 10 entries in the contest. Second, and against my better judgement, I’m sharing the opportunity for you to also enter to win the Google TV from Aiming Low and Dish Network.

Have a great week!!

Posted in Post A Day Challenge

Valen-What?!?

Gil and I don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day. We celebrate our Valenversary instead. Valen-what you ask? Valenversary. Gil and I met on February 15th so we choose to celebrate that day instead of the traditional Valentine’s Day holiday. Get it? Valen-versary. I know, we are complete dorks and we are ok with that.

For weeks now I had planned to write this open letter to my husband on our special day. I have thought about the things I wanted to say and I even made some notes along the way.  I struggle with choosing words that say what I feel. I have a really hard time expressing my emotions with written words. This is one of the reasons I wanted to start a blog. I thought the exercise of writing daily would help me to move past whatever it is that blocks my ability to convey my sentiments outside of my head. I also realize from my blogging experiences that I have a really long way to go.

For every momentous occasion in our lives that call for a greeting card, Gil always writes the most beautiful words to me. And what do I do? I sign, “I love you”.  That’s the best I can do. Really, it is. I have the worst case of greeting card anxiety ever recorded. Ok, maybe I’m the only one so I guess that makes my last statement a very accurate one.  I don’t know why the words won’t come but they don’t.  And guess what? They aren’t coming for me now either. I was off to a great start and then I lost it. It was just gone. I am going to save what I started because if the words ever find their way back to me, I feel like it’s going to be a great post. But in the meantime, I still want to tell my husband how I feel on our special day.

While researching quotes for the blog I was going to write today, I found this poem by a man that may or may not have ever existed. His name may or may not be Roy Croft.  After reading the poem, I think maybe I wrote it in a previous life. Maybe I used up all my good words in some former iteration of myself and that’s why I struggle today. I know, I’m being silly but the truth is, this poem says everything I want to say.  Just because the words aren’t mine doesn’t mean I don’t feel what they say. So, here it is, an open letter to my husband, for our Valenversary.  

Dear Gil,

I love you,
Not only for what you are,
But for what I am
When I am with you.

I love you,
Not only for what
You have made of yourself,
But for what
You are making of me.

I love you
For the part of me
That you bring out;
I love you
For putting your hand
Into my heaped-up heart
And passing over
All the foolish, weak things
That you can’t help
Dimly seeing there,
And for drawing out
Into the light
All the beautiful belongings
That no one else had looked
Quite far enough to find.

I love you because you
Are helping me to make
Of the lumber of my life
Not a tavern
But a temple
Out of the works
Of my every day
Not a reproach
But a song.

I love you
Because you have done
More than any creed
Could have done
To make me good
And more than any fate
Could have done
To make me happy.
You have done it
Without a touch,
Without a word,
Without a sign.
You have done it
By being yourself.
Perhaps that is what
Being a friend means,
After all.

You came into my life six years ago today and filled a void in my heart that I didn’t even know existed. Thank you for rescuing me. Thank you for being my best friend.
I love you.

Posted in Post A Day Challenge

Jealousy and the Dildo Incident

You know how they say that some people come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime? This is the story of one season of my life.

I’m not sure what it was today that sparked this memory but I suddenly felt an urge to write about my old friend The Princess (not her real name, obviously). She was such an important part of my life but we weren’t able to sustain that friendship for some reason, not the least of which was my jealousy and the dildo incident.

For the first time in my 33 years, I had moved away from my small town home. I had recently gotten divorced and desperately needed a change in scenery. I chose Jacksonville because it was the first place I got a decent job offer.  I formed a friendship with one of my coworkers right away and we started hanging out a lot during the evenings and most every weekend. Pretty much everything thing I did for a year revolved around The Princess’ custody schedule with her son. So basically, if her son wasn’t with her, we were out and about and we were always up to no good. We were living life on the edge, totally reckless and completely carefree.  Remember the part where I said I had just gotten divorced? Yeah, it was that “I’m free as a bird for the first time in my life” kind of no good.

On one of our crazy excursions, I think to an adult themed store for Fantasy Fest costumes, we had a conversation about vibrators. She seemed intrigued by one of the devices and talked about how she would never buy one of them for herself, but wouldn’t be opposed to having one. Ok, as wrong as I might have been, I took that as a hint so that when Christmas rolled around, guess what I bought my friend? And I’m not talking some cheap little AA battery required model. I dropped a big bill and she was going to need a few D batteries to get that baby cranked up.

Christmas came and went and we exchanged our gifts to each other without much discussion. She seemed appreciative and shared a few jokes but we never really talked about it again for a few months.

Sometime after the holiday season, The Princess met a guy, and she started spending a lot of time with this guy. I think she even went on to make him her Mr. Princess, but I’m not sure. Anyway, guess what happened to me when her relationship with Mr. Princess turned serious? I was kicked to the curb. I was alone. This was my fault. I’ll take the bulk of the blame, but I have to put some blame on the situation. For the previous year I had spent so much time with The Princess that I had not developed any other female friendships. None. Not a one. For this reason, when she started leaving me out, the green eyed monster began to occupy my every thought.

This time in Jacksonville was not a good time for me, mentally speaking. I had some issues that I should have been dealing with but decided to party and forget about them instead. I did a lot of “forgetting”, so what may have started as a mild form of depression and self-loathing just festered into something really dark and unreasonably foolish. My thoughts betrayed me and I began to distance myself from The Princess, both socially and at work. Fortunately, I did remain sane enough to maintain every level of professionalism that one might need to get through the work day.

I don’t remember when it happened but I think it must have been early spring. I was at home, alone, playing some silly computer game when my caller ID indicated The Princess was calling.

“Hello”

“Hey, it’s Mr. Princess and The Princess” (male and female laughter)

“Hey, what’s up and what’s so funny?”

More laughter.

“We called to tell you that The Princess will no longer need the gift you gave her,” (uncontrollable laughter by both of them) “And we’ve thrown it out for the garbage men to pick up tomorrow.”

“OK, why are you telling me this?”

More silly, giggly laughter.

“We just thought you should know.”

“Ok, bye?”

HUH?  What just happened? I was in shock. I could not speak, I could not think. I was seething with anger and crushed from the hurt all at the same time. How could she have done that? Why would she have done that? Why was it so funny to them? Had they been sitting around laughing at me and felt the need to call and ridicule me? I was so confused. That was the moment that our friendship died.

The Princess had been such an important part of my life for over a year. She became my mentor by day and my partner in crime by night. She was my confidant and my soul sister. We laughed and we partied and we sometimes even cried together. I don’t know what my life would have been like had she not been there with me during this transformation I was going through. I was like a snow covered mountain just before the first spring thaw. My time with The Princess represents the melting snow and ice as winter turned to spring. It was quick and severe and sometimes devastating but it had to happen for the seeds to grow and the flowers to bloom. I don’t have any regrets about the way that my jealousy and her dismissal of my gift ended our friendship. It was our time and it passed. We had our season and I’m okay with that.

(32/365)

Posted in 30 Days of Truth, About, Me, Post A Day Challenge

About (Me), Part I

(30 Days of Truth – Day 28: About, Part I – Me)

I looked at today’s topic and realized that yesterday’s blog post really covered my biggest dream in life so I’m not going to bore you with more on that subject right now. I’ve got something much more boring to talk about tonight. ME. Okay, I know I’ve pretty much talked only about me for the last 27 days but this one is going to be different. This one is going to be about me and about my blog.  And, you can totally blame Danny Brown for this.  Danny is kind of a big deal in marketing, social media, blogging, philanthropy and a host of other things I’m sure. In addition to his own blog, Danny is also a contributor for one of my favorite sites, For Bloggers, By Bloggers and it was his post today “Why Telling Us About You Helps Promote Your Blog”,  that served as a swift kick in my arse to do what should have been done 27 days ago.

In Danny’s blog today, he says that the About page is “the single most important aspect of your blog when it comes to letting your visitors know who you are, after the content itself.” I’m a very bad little blogger because my About Me page was completely an afterthought. I added it before I went live because every blogger has one and I had to have something. I used the words that Gil and I had developed a long time ago and I didn’t bother to elaborate or expand on that text. I want my readers to want to know me and if my About Me page isn’t enticing you to come back or read further, then why even include it? I want to change that starting right now. I want to enhance my About page to include more about me and about my blog (Part II Coming Soon). And I have a plan to do just that.

Before I get too far ahead of myself, here goes my attempt to describe me.

About Me

I am Lee and I am a girl. There has been some confusion before so I thought I would clear that up right off the bat. Wait…I just realized that didn’t come out right. The confusion is with my name and the fact that it’s spelled in the traditionally masculine spelling and people often think I’m a guy if they haven’t met or talked to me. Everything else about me is all girl and there is no confusing that.

I have been married to Gil Gonzalez since June 13, 2009. I am very lucky in that my sweet and caring husband also happens to be an incredibly talented writer. I live to read the words he writes.

I am step-mother to his beautiful children, Natalie, 11 ,and Daniel, 9. They live with us part time and rarely a day goes by that we don’t see them, even if they sleep most nights at their mom’s house. And yes, we all get along beautifully.

I work for one of the top global defense government contractors in the world. My title is Program Management Specialist but that was mostly made up when I needed something to put on a business card. Basically, I work in business operations in direct support of the program manager on a $1.5B  US Special Operations Command IT contract.  I’m kind of a jack of all trades when it comes to basic business processes so I pretty much fell into this role and it is The.Best.Job.Ever. It’s as if it ws created specifically for me.

I love cats, especially my cats, way more than I should. For your future reference and because I know you are dying to know <don’t roll your eyes at me LOL>, their names are Peppy, Dudley, Boo, Monkey and Vancouver.

I love being crafty but I never make the time to do it. I LOVE LOVE LOVE needlepoint but haven’t picked up a needle in forever. I like sewing, cross-stitch and embroidery but my passion is needlepoint. I miss it so much. I can do other crafty things but only if I have good, solid direction. I’m crafty but not overly creative when it comes to making things. I have also discovered that I can paint if guided by a professional. I’ve only done this successfully three times but I intend to do it much more. I really like the focus I have when painting and I want do it again very soon.

I love social media and I love the interwebz. I love how this pile of pieces and parts and this big cloud in Inter-space brings the world to me every day. I could sit at my computer 18 hours a day and not get tired of it. I love techie, geeky speak and I want to learn everything I can about everything related to this humming box on my desk.

I like to take pictures. I mostly stalk my cats and the insects around my house for that perfect shot. I don’t know the ins and outs of a camera but I get lucky sometimes. I want to take an actual photography class at some point but there are so many things ahead of that on my list of to-do’s that I’m not sure it will ever happen. In the meantime, I’ll just pretend like I know what I’m doing and only share those rare exceptional shots I’m able to capture.

My life would be complete if I could make a comfortable living providing social media solutions and planning fundraising events for charitable organizations.

Now, why don’t you join in the fun? Why don’t we all share and get to know each other better?

If you know me, leave a comment below with one a fact about me that I left out of the list above and one interesting, funny or profound tidbit about yourself.

If you don’t know me, leave a comment below and ask me any question you would like for me to answer about myself and then tell me one interesting fact about yourself.

I really hope you guys play along….this could be really fun.

And, as always, thank you for visiting me here!

Posted in 30 Days of Truth, Post A Day Challenge

What an Impact!

(30 Days of Truth – Day 18 – Someone you met randomly that’s made an impact on your life)

Her name is Melissa Burch and I mentioned her in my very first blog entry. Here’s what I said:

“She barely knew me and she opened her home and her heart to me. She became such an inspiration for me, and I’m not sure I’ve ever told her that. She is so smart and so sassy. I love her spirit, her wit, her Susie Homemaker skills, her generosity, her beauty, her brains, her force, her everything. She is extraordinary and I love her.”

There was no one else that even came close to topping the list of people who fell into the category of random people who have impacted my life. I love telling our story because it doesn’t stop with our first meeting, or our second or even five years into our friendship. She just keeps bringing good things to my world and I don’t know how I’ll ever show her how much love I have for her and how much I appreciate her.

Back in early 2004 I was scanning the classifieds for possible part time jobs. I was already working a full-time 8-5 job, selling Avon part-time and going to school 2-4 nights a week but I’m a glutton for punishment. On a whim, I responded to an ad that said “Interviewers wanted. Flexible, part-time, must be willing to travel”.  Many weeks later I received a call saying that they were calling about an ad I had responded to and would be in my area and wanted to set up an interview.  Well, I interviewed and got the job on the spot. The problem was that I would need to travel to Chicago for 10 days of training. Of course the trip would be paid for but it would mean missing almost two weeks of work at my real full-time job. Also, even though the trip was paid for, I would still incur a substantial amount of out of pocket expenses up front. And all of this for a very part time job when I returned home. This was a lot to think about and my head kept telling me to thank them and politely decline the offer. However, something wouldn’t allow me to do that. I worked a deal with my then boss to ‘borrow’ against future vacation days and I borrowed enough money from family members to make it happen.

In late May, 2004, I flew to Chicago to train to become an Interviewer for the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago. As fate would have it, I ended up in a small group of trainees with Melissa Burch from Tampa, Florida. It was some pretty intense training with only one day ‘off’ to actually do some sightseeing in the city. A small group of us took the train into the city and enjoyed a whirlwind kind of day. During our evenings, we usually met up for dinner and then relaxed in our rooms. It was during this downtime that some of us women were able to form some new friendships and even make plans to stay in touch when we all returned home to our normal lives.

Over the next few months I spent many hours on the phone with some of those women, including Melissa. It only seemed natural that when she started planning her birthday party in September that she invite me to come for a visit and attend her party. If course I agreed and planned to drag my mom along and to make a long weekend of it. We left Alabama early one Friday afternoon and headed south for a much needed get away. It never occurred to us to check a weather report. That is until we hit I-75 South and noticed that we were the only, and I mean ONLY, car heading south. However, the northbound lanes were backed up as far as the eye could see.  After a quick call to my uncle, the man who knows everything there is to know about the weather, we discovered, through his laughter, that hurricane Jeanne was making a bee-line for the east coast of Florida. Oh crap was all I could say but I didn’t for one second think of turning that car around. It was the wee hours of Sunday before Jeanne crashed our party. Before I left to come back home, we had several discussions of me returning in late October to join Melissa for a trip to Miami for a Halloween party. Of course I said I was all in.

Now flash forward to October 22, 2004. I was in a job that I hated and was being directed to do some unethical accounting so I walked out. Now what you need to understand is that I had been searching for that part time job months earlier because I was seriously struggling financially. Walking out on my job was not the smartest thing to do at that time and one of the many repercussions of no longer having an income was that I would not be able to make that trip to Tampa/Miami the next weekend. I called Melissa to tell her what happened and she presented me with one of the craziest suggestions I had ever heard. She said, “Why don’t you come on down a day or so early and check out the job market down here?” Hmmm. Well, I had no valid argument against that so I said what the hell. The thing about me is that I’m not a very patient person so I hit the internet and started my search a few days early. I applied to almost every temp agency in the Tampa Bay area in the hopes something would present itself to me.

What I didn’t expect was that on Monday, October 25, I would get a call hiring me, sight unseen, and asking me to start the next day. I explained how that just wasn’t possible but I could start on Wednesday. I promptly called Melissa and asked her just how serious she was about me coming early and sleeping on her couch to check out the market. She said she was serious. I said Good cause I’ll be there tomorrow to start my new job on Wednesday. Once she recovered from the shock of it, we mapped out a game plan and I packed a bag and headed south again. This time there was no hurricane to slow me down.

I arrived in Tampa on a Tuesday afternoon in October 2004 and I have never looked back. I knew in those first few hours that this is where I’m supposed to be. I knew that something great awaited me in this scary, wonderful new city. I just knew.

For months I lived with Melissa and her family and I’m sure I would not have the life I have today if not for Melissa and her generous soul. She housed me and supported me when I couldn’t even afford to buy my own lunch. She took me places and showed me what living life outside of Small Town America was really all about. She took care of me both physically and emotionally during those months I lived with her, and long after I found a place of my own and was able to financially support myself again. Melissa never once asked for anything in return. Never, not once. Ever! Do you know how rare a trait that is in a person? Melissa paid it forward with me tenfold. She took a chance on me when she barely knew who I was. I pray that I’m someday in a position to impact someone’s life the way that Melissa did (and still does) for me.

I couldn’t help but include this video of Hurricane by Needtobreathe. It’s these lyrics specifically that I think are most appropriate for this post.

In the light of the mourning
Can we change what we felt and heard
Can we turn it into the glory
Break the paths of our fathers before us
Though we stand on the outside
We will find what we once believed
And will crawl our way to the clear skies
Standing up we are
Standing up we are

Posted in 30 Days of Truth, Post A Day Challenge

Tyler Perry – God’s Messenger?

(30 Days of Truth – Day 3 – Something with which you struggle)

Whenever I’m wronged, be it real or imaginary, intentional or by accident, I struggle letting that go. I struggle with forgiveness. I’ve held onto grudges for months, for years, even for decades. I blame my mother for passing this little character flaw on to me. When it comes to forgiveness, I’m completely paralyzed. I’m incapable of moving on from some hurts. Don’t get me wrong, this is not always the case. Sometimes it’s easy to shrug it off and forget. I can forgive, I am capable of it. There are just some times when I can’t and I don’t know why that is. Hell, I’m still mad at my best friend from elementary school who ditched me for the cool kids when we transferred to a new middle school. See….it’s bad. It’s very bad.

We can all be hurt but so many different people and in so many different ways. What do you do when it’s your family who hurt you? How do you let go when you know it’s not intentional but the same behavior happens again and again? It’s your family. You should forgive and move on right? What if you can’t? What if every time you think about this situation the pain you feel manifests and completely blinds you to what you know you should do.

What do you do when it’s a friend? Not a best friend, but someone you care about, admire and have a genuine affection for? What if one day, they don’t like you anymore? What if one day, they turn hostile, accuse you of things you haven’t done? Do you talk to them and ask what happened? That seems like the logical thing to do right?  Not for me. This is where I’m broken. I hate confrontation. Nothing frightens me more. Nothing. I would rather hold on to the hurt and anger and let it fester. I would rather lose that person altogether than ask them what happened. What if I ask and they tell me it’s me, that I was the one who did something hurtful to them and this is why they hurt me in return. Maybe my actions simply triggered a fight or flight response in them. If I never ask, I’ll never have to deal with that possible truth. So I don’t ask.

What if someone you care about doesn’t necessarily do a hurtful thing to you but simply disappoints you with their actions. What if you suddenly discover they are not who you thought they were? What if you had ideals about this person and they simply failed to live up to those ideals. This happened to me recently. I’ve struggled letting this go. This friend did not do anything malicious or deceitful or mean. They just didn’t live up to the expectations I had for them. This made me so angry. So hurt. I can’t even explain why this devastated me the way it did. I spent days crying over this. I’ve tried so hard not to be mad, to not be angry, but I just can’t let it go. My solution was to just cut them out of my life. I have so many people around me that constantly surpass their own potential so why would I continue this friendship.

During the past week, I came face to face with two of these people. Let’s call them Thelma  and Louise. I had once had a solid friendship with Thelma and with Louise, a budding new friendship that truly excited me. Both of those relationships came to sudden and abrupt ends.  With both reunions, there was a moment of awkwardness and then with Louise, a feeling of forgiveness. With Thelma, I immediately knew that although we were cordial and friendly to each other, we would never again be friends. I’m ok with that. I still don’t know what caused our little breakup to begin with, and I’m not even sure what forgiveness needs to be granted but I do know I need to let it go. I will continue to struggle with this one.

As for Louise, I realized that I need to say “I forgive you”, if only in a whisper to myself. Louise has no idea that I’ve been angry. How could she, I’ve never said a word. I did have a recent conversation with another friend and she doled out some advice that I didn’t want to hear. I did not want to hear it one bit. I told her that I was ready to tell Louise how I felt. She asked me why? My immediate response was so that I would feel better, so that I could let go of the anger and move on.  I told her that Louise needed to know so that she could recognize the bad behavior and possibly correct it going forward. Maybe Louise didn’t even know she did anything wrong. Maybe by telling her, I could change her life for the better.  My friend said to me that if I told Louise that she had hurt me, it would do nothing but cause her pain in return. (Humph. What does she know anyway?)

Now fast forward one day. Yes, ONE day. I’m watching the movie The Family That Prays and thinking that Tyler Perry is a GD genius. I’m loving the story and then the line he wrote for me – yes, he wrote this entirely for me to hear – presented in a scene.

“You can’t make yourself happy by bringing misery to other people.”

Well now. Dear God, I hear you loud and clear. You sent one person to warn me not to confront Louise, but when you had Tyler Perry deliver the message, I knew this was serious. I almost immediately began to let go just a little. I haven’t entirely forgotten the hurt but I’m certainly letting it go. I’m learning how to forgive from within myself. I’m learning that I don’t have to hurt others to make my pain go away.

I know that asking God to help me let go and help me forgive is the answer. I know that when He feels that I’m ready, He will lift those burdens from me. However, I also know that God gives us freewill and I often feel that the devil is trying to gain control of my will. I feel that he is poking me and agitating me and keeping me riled up with anger and hostility. I’m tired of feeling like I’m being eaten from the inside out. Nothing good can ever come from holding onto this hatred, hurt and pain.  I’m embarrassed that I struggle with this and I don’t share it with many people so let’s just keep it between us. OK?

Now I’m going to ask you for help. How do you let go? Please take a moment to offer me some advice. Tell me a personal story. I want to know if you, too, struggle with forgiveness or letting go. Leave me a comment, shoot me an email or message me on FB or Twitter. Do you have a favorite quote? Do you recite a specific mantra when you feel wronged? What exercises do you do to help you let go? Sometimes knowing that you are not alone can be a huge help so I would like to hear your story. How do you know when you’ve forgiven?