What We All Need: Now and Forever

From the time he was little, I have tried to let my son know that he is a blessing to our family. That without him our family would be missing something.

“What would I do without you?” I would sometimes ask him.

“I don’t know.” He would say.

“I would have no little boy to read to, or tuck in bed, or tickle until he laughs,” I would say. Or something similar to let him know he was loved.

One day, when he was around 6 or 7, we were in the kitchen together and I asked him if he knew how much I loved him? “No,” he teased.

“Well bigger than this toaster. Bigger than this kitchen.” I said.

“Bigger than our town?” he asked.

“Oh yes. Bigger than our town. Even bigger than our state.”

“Bigger than the world?”

“Bigger than the universe,” I said.

And then I asked. “What would I do without you?”

And for the first time he didn’t even hesitate. he said, “Without me you would be sitting around the house all day just crying.”

I was a bit surprised. “I would?”

“Yup. Because your heart would have a big hole in it and you would be sad.”

I smiled and glanced at his sincere face that was waiting for an answer.

Now rationally I knew I would not be sitting around crying 24/7 without him, and I almost opened my mouth to tell him, and then I stopped.

“You are right,” I said. “Without you I would be crying all day with a big hole in my heart.”

He smiled and walked away. Content in my love for him.

Later that week when I told the story to a friend she asked why I hadn’t told him the truth? Was I giving him the wrong idea by not letting him know his older sister filled part of the hole in my heart? Wasn’t I promoting a mistruth by letting him think I really would be sitting around all day crying if I hadn’t had him?

I told her that of course I would not be sitting around crying all day, but wasn’t it sweet that he thought I would?

Over time I thought about her words. Should I have corrected him? Should I have promoted something not entirely accurate?

And the more I thought about it, the more I knew I did the right thing.

Because when it comes down to it, we all want to feel loved. Needed. A necessary part of a bigger group or family. We want to feel that without us, others would be sad, their life a little less bright. It’s a desire we are born with and one we die with.

I had a childhood friend who was told she was a mistake as she was growing up. The reason of her parent’s marriage. That if her mom had not gotten pregnant with her, then her parents would not have had to marry and their life would have been so much better.

What a heavy burden for a child to carry. What harsh words to weigh upon her soul and identity. What a sad message those words conveyed to her.

Who wants to be told they are not necessary? That they ruined other people’s lives? That the world would be a little brighter and nicer without them?

No one.

No one should ever hear these words.

But some people do.

And some people have.

And if you one of those people, then my heart breaks for you. And I want you to know that those words were a lie. They were selfish. They were pulling life from you, not nourishing you. No child should ever be told they do not matter. No one of any age should hear these words. These words are not a blessing. They are a curse.

Because when it comes down to it, we all want to know we are needed. A necessary part of the world. A blessing to those around us.

The tiny newborn needs to feel and hear they are wanted and precious. The picky eater playing with their Legos and learning to count needs to know how valuable they are to the family and how much they are loved. The teen with a defiant attitude and earbuds in their ears needs to know they are a blessing and joy. The mom who feels she is failing as a mom and is at a loss as how to get her child to eat some vegetables needs to hear how valuable she is. The man who is worried about providing for his family and connecting with his kids needs to be told that he is loved heart and soul.  The worker who can’t seem to please their boss and doesn’t feel like they fit in with their coworkers needs to hear they are part of the team and needed for more than their output. The person in a wheelchair that feels like life is moving on without them needs to feel they are valuable and loved no matter their abilities. The 92-year old neighbor whose kids rarely visit needs to know she makes a difference.

We all need to know we are special, that we make a difference, that we are loved unconditionally, and always will be. That others delight in us and enjoy us.

Our enemy wants us to doubt the love from others, to feel negated, and not needed. Most of all he wants us to doubt God’s love for us. He wants us to ultimately believe we are unlovable ad steal our joy and hope. Because if we think we are unlovable we isolate our self from others. We don’t love others and they can’t love us.

If we really knew the deep love that God has for us, nothing could stop us. Nothing. It is the most important thing in the world. The most powerful, motivating, and life changing thing. God is love. Always and Forever. He will love us because it is his nature. He can’t help but love us. And that is a wonderful thought.

He sees us through eyes of love. He sees us as valuable, necessary, and wonderfully made. He uses many terms of endearments to proclaim his love for us. We are his beloved, his children, his treasure.

Remember this fierce love he has for you, now and forever. Especially on dark and long days.

No matter what anyone has ever said or told you. You are valuable and necessary. Without you the world would most certainly be a little darker, a little sadder.

Believe this. Live like you are loved. Like you do make a difference. Because you do.

Now, go tell someone today how much you love them. That they make your world brighter.

Thanks for stopping by. Keep remembering what’s important!

Theresa

 



Need some weekly encouragement and hope, tied up with some humor? Subscribe and join the journey. Life is sweeter when we walk alongside one another.



Join the Discussion: What makes you feel loved?

May link up at Jennifer Dukes Lee (#tellhisstory); and Holley Gerth (#coffeeforyourheart), Lori Schumaker (#Moments of Hope),  Crystal Storms (#HeartEncouragement), Arabah Joy (#Grace & Truth).

Getting Through the Tube

Sometimes the past sneaks up and bonks you on the head with a two-by-four and you are left gasping for breath and life.

When I checked in at the clinic there was no warning sign of what lay ahead. Nor was my memory yelling stop.

Maybe because the lady who checked me in had red hair and lots of freckles. Just like me. In fact I couldn’t help looking at all her freckles and wondering who had more. When she asked me to hold out my wrist so she could slip a plastic identification bracelet around it, I joked and asked if that was because they were afraid I might faint and they needed to know who to call?

I wandered back to radiology and changed into a gown. One of those lovely green looking cotton gowns that have faded to nothing more than a few strings with tissue paper fabric from all the washings.

So far no warnings. Maybe because the receptionist had said that there had been great improvements in MRI’s. Maybe because it had also been a busy day and there hadn’t been time to think about the procedure.

Daniel, my technician, came to fetch me from my cubicle and we walked into the large and rather dim radiology room.

He had me take a seat on the long tongue like bed of the machine, joking with me and asking me questions. He velcro-ed a plastic upraised shoulder pad type thing around my right shoulder, saying this was to hold my shoulder in place during the MRI.

I lay down and he placed a squeezable sand pillow in my right hand saying that it would keep my arm in place and give my hand something to do.

That should have been clue number one.

Why did my hand need something to grab onto?

He placed a plastic bulb in my left hand, telling me to squeeze it if I had an emergency

That was clue two, for those counting.

An emergency? That did not sound good. And what kind of emergency was he talking about?

I was going to ask, but he distracted me by asking what kind of music I liked to listen to. Then he was placing ear phones over my ears and telling me he would see me in 20 minutes.

Twenty minutes? It takes that long?

I was beginning to panic a little, and then I remembered what the receptionist had said. Things had changed a lot in the last 20 some years since I had had my last MRI.

I was wondering how much things had changed, when the bed started sliding into the metal tube.  Suddenly I realized I had not taken a look at the machine. That I had forgotten what a MRI was like. That I had not prepared myself for this.

It was too late. My bed was sliding inside and unless I screamed out bloody murder and squeezed my panic button, this MRI was going down. And it was going down right now.

My eyes darted around and I realized the tube was about three inches from my face. Gulp. I quickly closed my eyes, knowing there was no way I was going to be able to keep them open and not go crazy with claustrophobia.

Music started blaring in my ears as I felt the bed eaten by the tube. I pulled my arms closed to the sides of my body as the metal sides slid against them.

I am being eaten alive, I thought.

This is what my coffin will feel like, only it will hopefully be softer, I thought.

I can’t do this, I thought.

And then memories of my first MRI rushed into my mind in full blazing color and I knew they had put the wrist band on me, not in case I passed out, but in case I died of fright in the tube.

It was after our terrible car accident. I had a broken back and other injuries and I needed an MRI.  Orderlies came to my room, where I had been installed only an hour earlier, and slid me  from my hospital bed to the gurney. At radiology they slid me onto the MRI table and strapped me to the table. While inside the whirling machine, I started to feel bile rise and I frantically squeezed the panic button. Up it came. Suddenly I was trying to lift my head and claw myself out of there. By the time the table slid out I was throwing up. I couldn’t sit up because of my back and being strapped to the bed. All I could do was turn my head and throw up on myself.

As I lay there with my eyes squeezed tight enough to give the rest of my face a lift, all I could think about was me panicking, throwing up, and trying to get out of the tube as quickly as possible.

I took some deep breaths and closed my eyes even tighter. Maybe if I didn’t open them, I wouldn’t know I was here. The whirling and clacking of the machine told me otherwise.

Breathe, I told myself.

Lord help me, I repeated over and over.

One song down. Maybe 6 more to go.

Breathe.

Calm down, or you will have to start all over again.

For twenty torturous minutes, I lay there wishing I was anywhere but in a loud whirling and beeping tube. I tried my best not to panic. Tied to not remember my first experience. Tied not to get claustrophobic. Tied to remember that this too shall end. Tied to remember to breathe. Relax.

The machine would stop whirling, and I would think, it’s done, and then it would start beeping so loud my rings were vibrating on my fingers. Actually, my fillings and whole body seemed to be vibrating. Then silence would descend and I could hear the music again. Then the whirling and swooshing would start up.

I remembered stories of people being buried alive. Of people digging up coffins and seeing scratch marks on the lid. Of people being buried with a string on their finger that ran to a bell.

I counted the songs and decided at three minutes a song that only seven songs were necessary.

I told myself to breathe. And chanted, Help me Lord.

I wondered if I would be able to get out if the electricity shut down.

I wondered how long 20 minutes was.

I kept telling myself. just one more song. Hold on for just one more song.

I wondered how quickly I could crawl out backwards. And if I would fall on the floor.

I wondered how long it would take for Daniel to back me out of the machine after I pushed the panic button.

I wondered all sorts of things. None of them serene and pretty. And at regular intervals I kept chanting, Lord, help me.

You probably know I survived because I am writing this. I am happy to say I did not give myself a concussion trying to raise my head and scoot myself out of there.

Eventually I felt the bed moving out. I finally allowed my fingers to relax their petrified grip and my eyes to jump open when the bed stopped moving. I was free at last from the confines of the metal tube. What sweet relief I felt.

I had imagined jumping off and kissing the floor. Or maybe fainting from all the tension and excitement. But I did neither. Which was a little anti-climatic. I instead kept my cool, got dressed. and collapsed in my car. Sitting there for a while until I felt I could safely drive.

I am sure you have had periods of life that felt like this. Where your eyes are squeezed tightly shut and all the what if’s are running through your brain. Where you are holding on for dear life just trying to breathe. Where you feel you are stuck in a whirling metal cage that is eating you alive and killing you with claustrophobia.

I have.

You may even be there now.

I am telling you that eventually the whirling and beeping stop and you are allowed to hear again. The darkness will turn to light. Your bed will slide from the tunnel vision prison.

It may not feel like it now as you are holding on for dear life thinking you are being swallowed up by life and its weight. But eventually all rides end.

Remember to breathe. To calm your thoughts. To focus on hope, joy, and grace. To keep your eyes fixed on him, even if all you can say is, Help me Lord. Because while we might feel abandoned, he is there in the tube with us. Helping and calming us. Even when it doesn’t feel like it. Even when we feel alone.

After the MRI when Daniel asked how I had done, I told him that all I could think of was my first MRI and throwing up.

Well you didn’t appear panicked, he said. You did just fine.

I hadn’t done it well or perfectly or even prettily, but I had survived and gotten through.

And that is what you have to do. Don’t worry about doing it right, or perfectly, or knowing all the answers. You are in survival mode, just trying to get through the next 10 minutes. Don’t try to figure it out. Just breathe. You are not expected to have all the answers as you traverse this uncharted territory. You just need to get through the tube. That’s the goal. Because life and light are waiting on the other side.

Thanks for stopping by. Keep remembering what’s important!

Theresa

 



Need some weekly encouragement and hope, tied up with some humor? Subscribe and join the journey. Life is sweeter when we walk alongside one another.



Join the Discussion: How do you keep from panicking when in the dark tubes of life? Any specific tips? 

May link up at Jennifer Dukes Lee (#tellhisstory); and Holley Gerth (#coffeeforyourheart), Lori Schumaker (#Moments of Hope),  Crystal Storms (#HeartEncouragement), Arabah Joy (#Grace & Truth).

Why is There Always Something to Complain About?

It seems we don’t have to look far.

Maybe just in the mirror.

Or at our house or apartment.

Or our lack of house or Apartment.

Or at our job. Or lack of job.

Or at our kids or husband.

Or lack of kids and husband.

Before we find something to complain about.

Things to complain about are lying all around us, shouting to us their defects in neon blinking colors.

There is never a lack of things to complain about. Never a shortage. Rations are not ever enforced on complaints. No little man ever pops up and says, “Ma’am. I am sorry, but you’ve used all your complaints for the day. You will have to wait until tomorrow to begin complaining again. At midnight your allowance for complaints will be refilled. Until then I need you to refrain from complaining.”

And not only do we complain out loud to our husbands, friends, children, neighbors, the cashier at the grocery store, and anyone who we think will listen and not report us to the complaining police, we even complain in our mind. Silently, we complain and whine and think, “Oh no, not again.”

Yes, it seems, there is always something to complain about.

Always.

If you are not convinced, try and go a day without complaining.

Okay, if that is easy, how about a week?

It’s like trying to not eat for a week.

It’s darn hard! Nearly impossible.

Our mind likes to notice the harmful things, bad things, dangerous things. Things that are not right or safe. The faults in things and people. And that is not all bad. It is trying to protect us, help us.

Complaining never helps us. It never solves the problem.

It makes us feel like we are doing something (yes, we are venting our emotions and feeling, and our disgruntledness), but we are not doing something helpful.

Because here is the truth about complaining. One complaint leads to another. And then another. See one thing wrong with yourself, and it won’t be but a nanosecond before we notice something else wrong. Then two more. No four more. And soon we are heading into a downward spiral and about to sit down and start a pity party of one. Don’t forget the balloons and noisemakers! And if we notice someone walking by, someone we feel comfortable with, we may even start telling them our woes and ask them to blow up a few balloons and bring some chips and dip and join our pity party. Because who wants to party alone?

Yes, find one complaint, and more follow. Bam, bam, bam, until it is hard to stop the train from rolling down, down, down.

Let’s imagine there is something wrong. Maybe you find a big thick three-inch green hair emerging from your left eyebrow line. So is it time to complain. A big fat ‘NO’ is coming at you. And here is why. Complaining never solves anything. Nada. Not a single darn thing.

Complaining and whining and throwing a pity party won’t remove that three-inch green hair from your brow line. Girl, what you gotta do is grab a pair of tweezers and give a big mean yank to that stubborn green hair. That’s what will solve the problem. Now you can have a celebration party for solving your problem!

Remember, complaining never solves a problem. It only makes us think we are doing something towards solving it.

The only way to solve a problem it by taking action and doing something. Doing something  involves an action verb. While complaining could be classified as an action verb, I am not going to allow you to employ it as an action verb.  Mainly, because complaining only creates a bigger problem.

Complaining helps us see all the other things wrong with us and others and our situation.

It sends us in a downward spiral.

It sucks the joy and peace and grace from us. Out it rushes like an uncorked balloon. And just like that screeching balloon zipping around the room, it don’t sound pretty.

Complaining topples us into a negative attitude. And that can be a deep pit to climb out of.

We become critical, negative, sarcastic, and hard to live with.

Do you remember the story of Moses and the complaining Israelites? They had no bread. Meat was lacking. They were thirsty. Their feet were sore. Stones were poking into their ribs at night when they slept. They longed for the good old days of slavery to the Egyptians. Nothing was normal or the way it had been. They were tired of wandering and hot and dusty to the bone.

I used to hear that story as a kid and wonder why they complained so much. Chapter after chapter they complained. Even when bad things happened to them.

Then I grew up and realized they were just like the rest of us. They were born complainers and whiners. Just like I was. If I thought for a minute that if I had been on that dusty hot trek I would not have complained, than I am fooling myself. Here I live a life of ease and comforts with tennis shoes and hiking boots and dish washers and clothes dryers, and I still complain.

But remember what God told Moses? Because I did not notice this part for years. God told Moses that all their complaints to him about lack of meat and onions and the long trek, where really complaints about God. Yes, ultimately they were complaining about God and his provisioning of them. Sure they complained to Moses, but God heard their grumblings as complaints about him and his actions towards them.

Well I sat up when I noticed that. And then started thinking.

So when I am complaining about my house, am I really saying that God didn’t give me the correct one? Or that he didn’t know what he was doing?

When I complain about my day, am I saying God is not giving me the kind of day I deserve and want? That perhaps he doesn’t understand me well enough?

And when I complain about my appearance, am I really saying that God made some mistakes when he made me? That he perhaps gave me the wrong hips or nose?

Surly I was saying that I was lacking faith in him to take care of me and know what was best for me or to direct my circumstances to my best.

And surely I was forgetting to count my blessings and rejoice in all things and know that all things were working out for my good.

Well girls, it was sobering thought and revelation. And it made me realize how seriously God takes our complaining. Because bottom line, it seems when we complain, we are really complaining about how God is taking care of us and provisioning us.

Complaining also keeps us from walking in faith. It shows we are relying on our current  circumstances and our self, instead of God.

See, there will always be something to complain about because we are living in an unperfect world with other imperfect humans. Trials, natural disasters, and time and chance strike us. Heartache and sin assault us. The actions of others affects us. We get sick and lose jobs and have nights of no sleep. And inside our souls long for perfection. To return to the Garden of Eden where perfection was the norm.

But God’s plan is for us to learn and grow and overcome and change for the better in this  beautiful and yet messy world where we learn to rely on him and learn about his love and plan for us.

There is always something to complain about. But God doesn’t want us to be complainers.

So have I quit complaining? No, but I am trying to complain a lot less. And that is a step in the right direction.

One thing I can do is replace complaining with counting my blessings.

Counting our blessings is the opposite of complaining. One is seeing the deficits, the other is noticing the positives. One is telling God how he is failing, the other is thanking God for his provisions.  

Now I don’t expect we will never complain again. Far from it. We are human. And humans are known for complaining and seeing the worst. We will be fighting our complaining gene until the day we die. But girls, we can learn to stop ourselves and our downward spiral. We can learn to count our blessings. Learn to take steps to solve the problem. Learn to live with the problem. See the problem as a blessing in disguise.

We can rejoice and be thankful for what is right and good in our lives. Focus on the positive. And we can ask God to help us see his love and blessings, more than the complaints.

So what about you? Are you ready to complain less?

There will be always be something to complain about.

Is that how you want to spend your life? Complaining?

Because likewise, there will always something to be thankful for.

Always.

I don’t want to be known as a complainer.

I want to be known as a thanker. A thanker of every good gift.

Thanks for stopping by. Keep remembering what’s important. 

Theresa

 


Need some weekly encouragement and hope, tied up with some humor? Subscribe and join the journey. Life is sweeter when we can walk alongside one another.  




Join the Discussion: How do you keep from complaining? Any specific tips? 

Linking up at Jennifer Dukes Lee (#tellhisstory); and Holley Gerth (#coffeeforyourheart), Lori Schumaker (#Moments of Hope),  Crystal Storms (#HeartEncouragement), Arabah Joy (#Grace & Truth).