Posts Tagged With: Faith

Unforgivable

Unforgivable

 

Is there really anything that is unforgiveable? Something so bad that we just can’t accept or pardon?  For me – YES.  There are definitely things, acts, decisions, and actions in this world that I will never be able to forgive, not even for myself if I did them.  Before you start throwing your judgment darts at me – let me remind you that I’m not God.  I am a human being, filled with both the capability and capacity to do good AND evil, to love and hate, to judge and forgive.

However what does it really mean to forgive? What makes the things we do either good or evil? How are our actions and thoughts placed upon the morality scale?  Who made the scale? Is the scale the same for everybody else?

This is the cause of many wars, mankind’s idea of what is right, wrong, moral, and divine.  It’s a battle of ego – who’s right and wrong, whose god is the real god, whose god is the false god, and of what is truth and what is defined as opinion.  For me, and I can only speak for me, we don’t really need those ‘written’ laws, decrees, commandments to know the difference between right and wrong.  We know it the moment we think or commit an act if it’s wrong or evil, and that’s when we start looking for excuses and loopholes to try and feel better about our decisions. Getting caught or being sorry has nothing to do with forgiveness.

I have done evil. I have done thing in my life that when I did them, I knew it was wrong, not because someone told me, or a religion commanded and declared it so, but from this gut feeling, this sinking knowledge deep inside that let me know it was wrong.  I have acted in anger, jealousy, hurt, selfishness and pride – and cast my judgement on others for doing the same. There may have been reasons, but there is never any excuse.

Am I unforgivable?  I can’t speak for others or for God, only for myself. It has taken me years to forgive myself for some of the things I’ve said or done, there are some other things I’m still working on making right. Not by saying, “I’m sorry.” No, by studying my true intentions, my true motives, my true desires and trying to understand and learn, to see the consequences of my choices, and how those choices affected others and the world around me. Did I learn something from them? I can’t even begin forming the idea of forgiveness until I understand and face the dirty, ugly truth of my actions.

Forgiveness isn’t a word, it’s a state of being. I can’t just give it to myself, I must step into the truth of it, and I can’t do that unless I first face my offenses, face my actions, face my consequences in TRUTH. Then … when I look upon myself, my true self, I have another choice …to love myself anyway – as the dirty, sinful, hateful, pathetic and weak being that I am – love myself anyway.  I am NOT talking about making an excuse – but really seeing the truth of me. THEN – and only then will forgiveness become available. Some of us have done so much for so long our souls no longer cry out and we no longer feel any shame or pain.  In essence we have lost our souls and are dead inside. Forgiveness is for the soul, so it’s not going to be available for the soulless.

I’m sure we’ve all done things that we are not proud, that we are ashamed, that haunt our souls – for those of us who still have them. I’m sure we’ve all lost our minds sometime in moments of weakness, moments of pain, and moments of fear, leading us to do unspeakable things. Ignoring our truth doesn’t make them go away. Denying truth doesn’t make things in a state of have never happened.

Seek forgiveness and free your soul. All – not some of us, but ALL have fallen short of the glory of God.  The difference is who stays there and who rises. Don’t lose your soul. Don’t ignore your truth. Seek and find your forgiveness. Only YOU can do it.  Let stop worrying about what others have done – and look to ourselves.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Categories: author T.L. Gray, Faith, family, friends, Health & Fitness, Hope, Hurt, Independence, Inspirational, Instructional, Musing, Philosophy, Poetry, Quotes, Relationships, Review, Spiritual, T.L. Gray, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Life is Hard – Face it Anyway

life_is_hard_logo

 

I know I’ve said it a thousand times, but life is hard. At least it is for me. NOTHING is easy. Even my workout this morning was hard, but that’s not the thing on which I have to stay focused. No, when I mention life is hard, that’s just stating a fact and a truth.  It is hard. Really hard.  Even the good stuff is often hard. Getting up in the morning, opening my eyes to face another day – that is fucking hard.  BUT – how I face it   – that’s up to me.

I’d love to say that every day I wake up feeling like Tony the Tiger and everything is …GRRRRREAT!  But, that would be a lie and I’m all about the truth. There are some days I wish I didn’t wake up at all. There are some days I wake up and I’m ready to conquer the whole world. There are other days I want to burn the whole damned world down and all the people in it, because most often people suck.  (Hang on  …there’s a good message here.)

Life is a compilation of a series of events, some good, some bad, some really, really good, and some just fucking nightmares.  Nothing makes you see life in its complex simplicity more than losing someone you love or failing at a dream you’ve spent the majority of your life pursuing. These tragic events causes us to face our mortality.  We don’t like to acknowledge our mortality.  We love the illusion that we are invincible, immortal, and immune. But, we are not.

I’m an observer, a scribe, someone who watches, learns, learns how to learn, perceives and records. What I’ve discovered is that humanity is really complex.  One observation I’ve seen is: MOST people (myself included) spend a whole lot of effort, time, and money trying to hide from the pain and disappointments of life.  But, pain is a part of life and something we should face so we can heal.  We get disappointed because we had expectations.  We get our hearts broken because we first filled them with opportunities of love.  We get frustrated at our failures because we dared to succeed.  YET, we also feel pride at a job well done.  We smile when we experience love. We laugh when we feel joy.  We appreciate beauty because we have seen the ugliness in this world. There’s a balance to everything.  As Einstein says, “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.”

Don’t get lost in despair, but also don’t try to rush it either. Feel the pain. Know the pain you feel is because of the love you once had – and then move on.  Don’t stay still. Don’t let your worry, sorrow and pain rob you of your faith, joy and happiness.  Give it it’s time – and no more. Don’t hide it, try to shove it down, or ignore it – that heals nothing. Feel it. Accept it. Face it!

I have a new fitness goal and I’m excited about it.  I’m also apprehensive because I know to reach my goal I’m going to have to go through a lot of pain. It’s going to hurt.  Damn, is it going to hurt!!! I’m almost in tears thinking about the pain that’s to come.  BUT, I’m excited about what is on the OTHER SIDE of that pain. I’m excited about the good things that are also with me WHILE I’m going through that pain.  I’m excited about the support, love and encouragement I’m getting as I go through my journey. THAT people – that right there is what makes it worth facing the pain. Life is hard and full of different kinds of pain – truth – fact!  But, I’m not afraid.  I’m more afraid NOT TO TRY. I’m not even afraid to fail – because I know failure is a possibility.  BUT, I’m afraid NOT TO TRY.

I’m in a new relationship.  I know this new courtship can also fail, but I can’t let my fear of getting hurt again stop me from putting my heart back out there. There’s no success without risk. There’s no reaction without action. Yes, I could get my heart broke. Yes, it’s possible he will never love me or choose me. But, it’s also possible he will. It’s possible I have found a partner to share all the ups and down in this life with me so I don’t have to keep walking it alone. It’s possible I’ve found happiness. It’s possible I’ve met someone as tough as I am, who will fight as hard as I do, who isn’t afraid to go through the darkness and dance in the light with me.  It’s possible.  But, it isn’t possible unless I face it, unless I jump in and take a chance, and unless I let my walls down.  I’m afraid NOT TO TRY.

Life is hard. On those days I don’t even want to open my eyes, I do it anyway. When my body hurts and doesn’t want to move, I get up anyway. When Fear whispers its lies in my ears and grips me hard to face another challenge, I face it anyway. When Doubt tells me I can’t, I do it anyway. When Anxiety tells me I will fail, I try anyway. When Despair tells me I’m going to get hurt, I take a chance anyway. When Pessimism tells me I’m wasting my time, I’m optimistically hopeful anyway. When Insecurity tells me I’m not worthy, I love and appreciate myself anyway. When Rejection reminds me not even my own parents wanted me – to not waste my time and just give up, I take a chance and love anyway. When Death takes away my loved ones and my light and inspiration are stolen from this world, I inspire and seek inspiration anyway.

Again – I’m not afraid to fail or get hurt. I’m afraid to never try. I’m afraid to be one of the cowards of this world that can’t get their heads out of their own asses, who can’t swim in the deep waters because they are too shallow, who put too much emphasis on shit that don’t matter.  It’s vanity.  It’s as Solomon wrote – a chasing of the wind. I see lives nearly destroyed every day because of vanity and fear.  I don’t want vanity in my life. I’m not shallow. I don’t understand the ignorance of shallow thinking.  I don’t understand cowardice. I am afraid but I face my fears ANYWAY.  I don’t understand how people allow their lives to be cheapened by the unimportant things – yet I see them sell out every day and it’s everywhere.  It’s the disease that kills us all. I’m no coward. Life is hard, but I’m harder and I face it anyway.

 

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Categories: author T.L. Gray, blogging, Faith, friends, Life, love, memes, Musing, respect, Spiritual, T.L. Gray, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Find Something Worth Dying For …

 

Irish Gladiator

A friend of mine has an Irish Gladiator banner hanging on his wall that says, “Find something worth dying for, and live for it.” I call this saying a Scottism. For several weeks now that phrase has been rolling around in the back of my mind, trying to find a tendril of understanding to latch onto, because in its simplicity it’s very profound.

Just the first part alone – the very first part – to “find.”  To find indicates an effort, a movement, the making of a decision that’s followed by action.  FIND – seek, explore, hunt, track down, identify, discover, uncover, etc. It doesn’t say wait for something … but FIND.  Get off your ass and hunt it down!

That’s where we fail as a society right out of the gate.  We’ve become a culture that doesn’t hunt, that doesn’t seek, and sure as hell doesn’t find. We want everything given to us without any effort of our own, and then lie to ourselves and tell ourselves we ‘deserve’ it.  I once heard another statement that said, “Grace is God giving us what we don’t deserve and Mercy is Him holding back what we do deserve.” What the hell do any of us really deserve?  We often get what we seek to find. If we seek shit, we find shit. We seek destruction, we find destruction.  If we seek shallow plastic, we find shallow plastic – and then bitch about only having shallow plastic.  Oh, what a world in which we live. But, thank God not everyone is that way – just the majority of common people. I thank God that “I’m uncommon amongst uncommon people.” LOL (Shout out to David Goggins for that motto – it’s ingrained into my soul now.)

Back to the Scottism I’ve been working on – Find something worth dying for…” If you really think about that – what on this earth is worth dying for? For me, EVERY bit of it is intangible. I would never die for stuff, titles, money, opportunities, or luxury. Yet, I watch people daily sell their souls and step over humanity to obtain these things that will one day burn to ash. No, all the things I would die for are intangible – Love being the greatest of these. Freedom – and man it has a high cost.  Faith – I would die for faith – believing in something bigger than myself, and in someone I love. Family – I would die to protect my family. Hope – I would die to keep hope, because I know that without hope I would already be dead.  Purpose – I would die trying to live with a purpose. But, not much else.

I think before we put our lives on the line for the things we deem worthy to die for, we should really consider the true cost. It shouldn’t be a whim, but a truth we diligently had to search for, dig for, and then find.  But, once we got it – once we’ve given it the respect of discovering the truth of it – then and only then does the second part of that statement come to live – and hit home.  THEN … LIVE for it.

Dying for something is actually the easy part. True strength is coming from being able to LIVE for the things we would die for. God, if we would really take the time and think about all the stupid shit we waste our time chasing and started loving and appreciating the things in this world that were truly important – truly worth dying for – our lives would have so much more meaning and value. We chase after pretty faces, cold hearts, baseless and useless shit – and then bitch about it – because the truly valuable things are not easy, often not pretty, and on the surface doesn’t look spectacular. But, how blessed are we when we do get ahold of it? When we truly open our hearts and let the real shit in – the real pain – the real love – the real purpose?  Wow, just wow. Thank you, Scott for that inspiration. I don’t know where you got it – and it really doesn’t matter – because it’s latched onto my soul now.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Categories: author T.L. Gray, Blog Post, Destiny, Dream, Dreams, Fairy Tale, Faith, family, friends, Health & Fitness, Hope, Hurt, Independence, Inspirational, Instructional, Life, love, memes, Muses, Musing, Musing., poem, Quotes, relationship, Relationships, respect, Review, Spiritual, T.L. Gray, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Proactive Vs. a Reactive Life

Proactive Reactive

 

Regardless of any faith, there are some fundamental truths in the universe that help us succeed as we maneuver through life.  We only get one life (well, unless you believe in reincarnation).  We only get a small measure of time while we occupy some space on this big blue planet. We have to share that space with about 7 billion other people, animals, and other forms of life, but we only have one drop in the bucket of eternity to do something with the life we’ve been given. I’ve already been here forty-seven years and I’ve a learned a few things in my short time.  However, there is still so much to know. I often seek the wisdom of those who’ve come before, as I try to enjoy the present, to leave a legacy for future inhabitants. One of those bits of wisdom …its wiser to set a plan, count the costs, and then work toward a goal to achieve success – be proactive, than it is to live life by the seat of your pants dodging everything life throws at us  – being reactive.

Maybe it’s just because I’m an A-type personality that deceives herself into believing she has somewhat control over her life.  While, I am well aware that LIFE will always throw things at us that we didn’t see, didn’t plan, or happen to us beyond our control, I believe with my whole heart we have complete control over how we respond and allow those surprises or offenses to affect us. I believe in a higher power that I can’t even begin to understand with the limited knowledge and wisdom I possess, but I have faith nonetheless that Power within me and through me also affects me in many ways. But in everything else …my failure or success is ALL within my power, and responsibility of that failure or success lay with me – the buck stops here. Proactive is taking responsibility. Reactive is making excuses.

In my experience, I’ve obtained many, many successes.  None of them were just given to me. None of them came free.  ALL of them costs me time, energy, money, focus, and sacrifice to make them happen.  ALL of them. I was proactive. My failures in life also have a re-occurring trait, they were things I ‘reacted’ to either financially, physically, or emotionally. They were decisions made without planning, thought, or were even contrary to what I knew was right, productive, or beneficial.  They were ignorant decisions made in the heat of the moment, because I desired them, wanted them, or ignored the warning bells to have them.  I was reactive.

If we build without planning, then plan to build again, and again, and again, following failure, after failure, after failure, reacting to every change in the wind.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

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First Steps

First StepsNo matter what struggle or difficulty or achievement or success we find ourselves, whether it’s physical, emotional, or spiritual, we are not stationary in our positions.  ALL life is fluid.  Everything is always moving, changing, and transforming.  Even within our bodies, we are constantly evolving.  Our feelings change. Our ideas change. Our faith changes.  Our knowledge changes. We are born. We live. We die.  In the midst of that journey, based on our understanding and observation we make decisions that effect that life. Some good. Some bad. Some really good and some really bad. Regardless of the state – it won’t remain in that state for long.

Going through a huge heartbreak and recent death, I have felt many times that it’s too much for me, that I can’t even breathe.  The world I imagined, I had hoped for, and I had loved with my whole heart crumbled around me. I saw the destruction coming, I felt the change in the wind, and I noticed the warning signs long before the walls fell. And I fought like hell to stop them, but I was powerless. For me, the reasons why were not good enough to justify the pain. But the pain came anyway. The storm came and blew against the walls, and the house fell.

All life is fluid.  The storm has passed. Now comes the calm. At times I thought the storm would kill me, and sweep me away with its waves into the abyss, but I survived. I’m standing in the middle of the destruction, but I’m still standing.  Nothing is recognizable around me, except me.  I’m still here. I’m battered, bruised, but I’m standing. My life has changed from what it was, to what it is, and will change again to what it will be …to change even beyond.

I still see the storm raging in the distance.  I still feel the wind blowing. I still see dark clouds hovering, the lightning striking, and the waves beating against the shore. The storm still exists.  It didn’t fade and its winds are still causing destruction, but it’s moved on from me. I’m not part of it anymore.  I can’t save those within it, but I pray they survive. I pray they get out of the storm, but the only way out requires a first step – as with every program and every faith that exists in this world, the road to recovery, to escape, and to freedom is – acceptance.

The moment I accepted I was powerless to change anything, that I could see the truth of my situation, my life, and my circumstances as they were –  instead of struggling to hold tight to my hope of what had been and what could be, that’s when the storm finally swept me away. We can’t move forward in our life without acceptance.  We can’t change in ANY positive or good way without the acceptance of the truth. We can lie to ourselves and continue to circle the same issues over and over and over and over again – deceiving ourselves into thinking we can change things, or that WE are in control, but that keeps us bound to our destruction, bound to our pain, bound to chains that weigh us down, making us addicts to our own destruction.  Just as an addict or someone involved in destructive behavior will not, nor cannot, change their behavior until they first accept the truth about themselves.  No matter how much we hope for them, plead with them, try to reason with them – they cannot hear ANYTHING until they accept the truth.  Until then, it is a vicious cycle – over and over and over and over and over – some NEVER overcome.  Healing will NEVER come until acceptance. That is the first step.  In faith – acceptance of who we are and that we are not in control of the universe around us, but that there is a higher power – is the first step.

I took my first step. I accepted. I am surviving.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Categories: author T.L. Gray, Blog Post, blogging, Dreams, Faith, family, friends, Health & Fitness, Hope, Hurt, Independence, Inspirational, Instructional, Musings, Philosophy, relationship, Relationships, respect, Spiritual, T.L. Gray, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Faith, Hope and Love

Faith Hope Love

Life is hard.  One of the sad realities is that we are often lonely souls, even when we are surrounded by other people.  We are born alone, unless we are a twin, or a triplet, or a quadruplet.  We also die alone, unless we are part of a multiple catastrophe like a plane crash, natural disaster, etc., that takes a lot of people at the same time.   But, you get the point. We are individuals.  Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes… I’ve heard all this bullshit before.  What I’ve learned in my nearly 46 years on this rotating ball of iron is that we are social beings and we need interaction with other humans, with other souls, and no matter what we achieve in this life, gain or lose, it’s our faith, hope and love that matter most.  The rest are the non-essential details.

Sex, money, fame, success, the American dream, etc., all of it is bullshit if we don’t have faith, hope, and love.  Sex alone is fucking boring (pun intended). Sex with someone without love, is even worse, it’s empty and does nothing to abate the loneliness inside the soul and attacks the love we have for ourselves.  Money and all the things it can buy is powerless because it can’t buy love, respect, or faith.  I love having money, for the purpose that I can spend it making the people I love happy, or providing what they need, or being there for them if they need me. If there’s no one to spend my money on, it has no value.  Yes, I need a roof over my head, food in my stomach, and clothes on my body to keep me warm or covered.  Basic essentials are important and it takes money to supply those needs.  But, possessing those things isn’t living, it’s surviving.  Surviving is natural, and some of us do it better than others. Some of us are lazy, stupid, and immature and surviving becomes a major importance in life – but what do we strive to survive for?  I’m not living so that I have somewhere to sleep, food to eat, or somewhere to lay my head.  I don’t want to eat to live, I want live to eat.  I want to see the world, but I want to see it with someone who will enjoy all the places we go.  Like Whitney said, I want to dance – with somebody. I want to laugh – with somebody.  I want to cry – with somebody.  I want to dream – with somebody.  I want be someone’s cheerleader and share in their successes.  I want to be a shoulder they can cry on when their world starts closing in on them and squeezing their hope.  I want to have someone I can come home to and share all the exciting or boring things that happened that day.  Life is meant to be shared.  Love is meant to be shared.

I have been hungry, homeless, and in need, but I’ve never been helpless, or lazy, and I know how to survive.  I have loved with my whole heart, and it’s been broken so many times.  I have many people who love me and care about me, but I’m lonely, my faith is weak, and my hope dies a little more every day.  I have to encourage myself. I often feel unnecessary, lost, and unwanted by this world, most often forgotten.  At times I don’t want to be here anymore because I’ve lost purpose, direction.  I’m not wanted or needed and I know the world would keep turning without me in it.  But inside, deep inside, there is a soul that clings tightly to her faith.  Oh, I get angry and feel betrayed by that faith, but don’t you see – those are all evidence that it’s still there. You don’t get angry at what you don’t believe.  It’s because I believe so deeply that I get so angry.  There’s a soul that holds tightly to hope, a hope for a better tomorrow, a hope for peace, a hope for love, a hope for purpose.   And that same little soul is wrapped in love; love for a hateful and selfish world, love for a beautiful  and kind world, love for those who’ve already gone, those who are right in front of her, and even for those she’s yet to meet.

Sometimes I lose focus and allow that loneliness to consume me, the pain of it to engulf me, and I make bad decisions, do rash things, put myself in harm’s way, and fight the thoughts of giving in and giving up.  I want to, but I fight back.  I put on my smile – my armor, my shield, my sword.  I focus on the positive. I give thanks for the souls that are in my life and who take their time to listen, to let me know they care.

Yes, one day I will die and leave this place behind.  The ONLY things that will matter when I’m gone is the love I left behind.  That’s it.  NOTHING ELSE matters.  When James died, all he left me was love, and it’s gotten me through so many years, so many tears, so many times.  Just a little bit of love. I’ve done some AMAZING things with that little bit of love.  Imagine what I could do with a little bit more, fired by my faith, and infused with my hope?

Take all the sex, money, fame and success and all those materialistic and vain things people kill, betray, and abuse themselves and each other to obtain… and shove them up the world’s proverbial ass.  Give me faith – faith in myself, faith in God, and faith in my friends.  Give me hope – something to chase, something to strive for, something of value to achieve. And give me love – the binder of all things.  With these three things I will conquer the world and myself, and the devils that whisper in my ear that I’m unnecessary, unwanted, unneeded, and unloved.

Faith, Hope and Love.  1 Corinthians 13 (NIV)

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. 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, and always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, and I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Categories: author T.L. Gray, Dream, Faith, family, friends, Health & Fitness, Hope, Hurt, Inspirational, Instructional, Life, love, memes, Musing, Philosophy, relationship, Relationships, respect, Spiritual, T.L. Gray, Writing | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Faith, Hope and Love

Faith, Hope and Love

 

Faith, hope and Love

Life has a funny way of sometimes jumping forward, pulling you back, or getting stuck in the present that you can’t move in either direction.  That complexity is what makes it life.  If everything worked the way we thought it should, or our thoughts always went in a forward momentum, or our hearts always moved in a particular direction, we wouldn’t be the complicated human beings we’ve turned out to be.  We’d be happy plastic people.  Isn’t that the way the song goes? We’d be strong in faith, solid in hope, and brimming with love, right?

Anyway, we are complicated, complexed, and often confused.  We are taught morals and values that create walls and boxes, and when life doesn’t go according to plan, we often crumble inside those boxes, doubting ourselves and becoming weak in faith, void of hope, and empty in love.

I was thinking about God and family this morning.  Well, how religion often portrays God, really.  I thought about the scripture in Philippians 4, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything through prayer and supplication make your requests known to God… “, and I remembered being told more times than I can count not to worry about things, that God is watching out for me, He’s got me in his protection, and He’d make a way for me, to protect me; that my worry was detrimental and contrary to my faith.  I’ve always wondered at those who would quote this scripture to me, if they’d ever suffered any real loss, any real tragedy, any real heartbreak, any real disappointment, any real set back or failure, because I had.  For many years I felt weak in my faith because I still worried about the things that threatened my welfare, my children, my family, or the life I was trying to provide for them.  Yet when I expressed those worries or fears, told with a smile NOT to worry, to have faith, to trust God would see me through it. Yeah, like all the things I already went through, that’s what I feared.  Many of those things I worried about happened no matter my faith.  Instead of feeling the strength I had often felt growing up in a severely abusive childhood, I felt like a failure, weak, and a disappointment to a god that was supposed to love and protect me.  But it’s easy to talk warfare when you’ve never been in true battle. It’s easy to talk of a father’s love if you’ve never known a father’s love.  But, what of us orphans who never knew love, never had a father to protect us, but a father from whom we needed protection? What of a soldier on the battlefield of life, one that’s seen the brutality of war, the ugliness of mankind? How can we ask them not to be afraid?

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the past, not really the experiences I’ve had, but the woman I used to be.  I was strong, but so lost.  I was damaged, yet impenetrable.  But what’s changing for me now is love.  I’ve known love, but I didn’t quite know how to accept it.  I’ve loved deeply, but I didn’t know how to express it.  I’d like to say it’s because of the love that’s growing for my Dominican Marine that’s creating/inspiring this new outlook, and perhaps that’s part of it, but it’s more of the love I’m receiving from him, from my best friends Jenna and Kenny, from my kids, but mostly it’s from the love I’m receiving for and from myself.

I heard my ex-husband is getting remarried.  I’m happy for him, because I’ve only ever wanted him to find and feel love.  Everyone knew we married for convenience, to fulfill responsibility, and I could never be the woman he wanted, the woman he loved, and he often made sure I was reminded I was not wanted, or desired, or acceptable.  I am not without blame, because I always knew I was never in love with him either, though I respected and was faithful to him, I couldn’t give him the love he needed. What hurt most in our divorce wasn’t our separation, because now we both had an opportunity to find the love we desired, but the loss and separation of family.  His family was my family for two decades, and really the only real family I ever knew.  His parents were the only parents I ever really had and I loved them dearly. Still do. I miss them. Now they’ll have a new daughter and I hope it’s one they can be proud to love.  The bond I have with my natural brothers isn’t one of love, but one of survivorship, and while that bond brings us together and keeps us connected on some level, it’s also the foundation of the huge wall that keeps us separated, well… that and the lying, stealing, cheating, drugs, etc. My kids love me, but they don’t need me, and they’re getting on with their lives knowing they don’t have to worry about me. I loved them more than myself and only hope they understood and felt that love from me. I often fear I damaged them because of my own lack of being able to show what was inside beneath my thick armor.

I am a vagabond, a woman without a home, without a people, without a family, yet I am a very blessed woman because I am rich in love, in friendships, and in faith.  While I worry about the cares of this world, I am not afraid. Not because I cling to a scripture, to a promise, or to a faith in a god to protect me, or a man to save me.  I cling to a knowledge that shit happens, but I’m strong and I’ll overcome it, and I’m not alone, because LOVE is with me.  God is love.  God is with me. I love me. I love my kids. I love my friends. I love my Dominican. That love … that love is my strength.  That love helps me heal from a past, gives me hope for my future, and surrounds me as I walk through my present… in all its complexity and simplicity.  Faith is good. Hope is beautiful.  But, love is the greatest of all these things.

Till next time,

~ Love’s Lover

Categories: author T.L. Gray, Blog Post | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

If… If… If… People Lie

If If If People Lie

If.  I was once told that “if” was the biggest little word to ever exist.  That isn’t a lie.

Everyone posts these meme’s all the time with messages that sound good, but has anyone ever stopped and really read them, tried to understand what they’re really saying, or did they get caught up in the moment because they said something itching ears wanted to hear?  Everyone has the answer… to every problem. Yet all those answers come with a hitch, a ransom, a sacrifice, an obligation, or/and a price.  If… If… If… You know what I’ve learned?  It’s all bullshit. I lived my life believing IF… If I obeyed, then life would be okay. Well, I tested that theory many, many, many, many times. People lie.  Let me tell you a story.

I can remember being about seven years old and sneaking off one morning to catch a church bus.  I wanted to be like my next door neighbor, I can still remember her last name – Janosek. I wanted to be a regular girl, wear frilly pretty dresses, have girl toys, have two normal parents that weren’t handicapped or abusive, parents who had real jobs and not drug dealers, who went to church and PTA meetings.  I wanted to be free to laugh and be silly, be anything but who and what I was.  It didn’t seem like such an impossible dream, but to me at seven it seemed alien and a world away; impossible.  But impossible didn’t stop me, it never did.  So, I dressed as much like a girl (I was an extreme tomboy with five brothers) as I could and stood at the road, determined to wave that church bus down.  I caught that bouncy bus not knowing where it’d take me, what would happen to me, or when or if it’d ever bring me home.  People lie.

I ended up being delivered to a little country church where I was shuffled off to a gymnasium with several other children and told a story about a man sacrificing his son for his faith. I thought it barbaric that God would tempt a man to kill his own son in order to test his faith.  Wasn’t it supposed to be the other way around, parents sacrifice themselves to save their children?  That, of course, wasn’t the life lessons I’d learned by that age.  A parent killing their kid for their own interest… that was easy, that was normal.  What a manipulation.  People lie.

I was pulled to the side and asked if I wanted to go to heaven, yet I had no concept of heaven.  All I’d heard of heaven was a place in the fluffy white clouds, wings, and golden harps.  That sounded boring to me, so I told the lady that I didn’t want heaven, I just wanted an earth where people didn’t hurt each other, that I didn’t think this place was so bad, except for the people in it. I thought the earth was beautiful, even magical, if the people in it would stop hurting it and each other.  She quickly informed me that in heaven there was only peace and that nobody ever cried.  I didn’t believe that, because I cried all the time.  I didn’t cry to just cry, and I sure as hell didn’t cry where other people could see me.  My dad beat me so bad one time I passed out, because he wanted to see me cry. I refused.  In private  I cried because I hurt, because I was scared, because I hoped and constantly had those hopes dashed with violence.  Crying made me realize I was real, it reminded me that I could feel pain, but also joy.  Why did I want to go somewhere and not feel anything?  They were not selling me on this whole heaven thing.  I guess she could see that, so she changed her tactics and started telling me of the OTHER consequences of not being saved – the idea of eternal damnation, a life filled with violence and pain.  I wondered in that moment what I had possibly done at seven years old to have been damned while I was still alive.  I was a little smartass and told the woman, “It’s not so bad.  You get used to it.” Obviously that wasn’t the right answer. So, I soon learned of the lake of fire, torture, demons, the devil and brimstone.   I still wasn’t scared.  I was raised with a pack pit bulls, after all. People lie.

So, this determined lady was hell bent on saving my soul, she changed her tactics once again and asked me if I loved anyone enough to die for them and started telling me about the story of Jesus, how he was an innocent man yet tortured, beaten, and then killed to save us all.  It was the only story that really peaked my interest, but I couldn’t understand why this one man’s sacrifice was any different than what I had done regularly to protect my brothers, or to protect my mother.  I’d taken beatings for them, I’d given them my food at times, I’d kept my mouth shut and endured the worst of humiliation and abuse at the threat of losing them, being taken from them, or separated.  I know, had given the choice, I would have died for them, taken a bullet in their place. I dreamed of doing that very thing quite often. That was an easy decision.  So what made this man’s decision any better than mine, or any other human being that would do the same for someone they loved? I’d learned enough history by this time to know people died for other people all the time, yet we didn’t worship them. Why him? Telling me that I was supposed to love somebody because they first loved me and died for me,  was a hard concept for me to understand.  I wanted to scream, “Prove it!” People lie.

It took me nearly 20 years to reconsider that answer, because the next thing this lady did was scare the hell out of me by making statements like I needed to be washed in this man’s blood in order to be redeemed, dunked in some water to be cleaned, and then I needed to obey him and keep all his commands so that I will be worthy enough to enter heaven.  I knew I’d already flunked this test, because I sure as hell wasn’t about to let somebody pour their blood over me, nobody was going to push me under the water, and I was too stubborn to blindly obey a bunch of rules I didn’t understand.  I just smiled, shook my head to tell her what she wanted to hear, watched her shed a few fake tears for me, schedule a baptism for the next Sunday, gave me a Bible, gave me some candy, and then put me back on the bus that brought me home.  I never went back to that church. But, I never forgot that day. People lie.

I kept hearing that woman’s voice in my head saying, “If you believe in Jesus, he will save you.” I needed saving in the worst way. I once wished in the middle of a hurricane for Superman to save me, but he never came.  He ended up being a lie, a figment of someone else’s imagination. Don’t even get me started on Santa.  Biggest disappointment of all. People lie.

My next memory had me lying in the grass, staring into the sky, wondering what was beyond the clouds, beyond the blue, beyond the stars.  I watched the treetops sway in the wind, the ants crawl between the blades of glass, the beauty of the sunlight in a drop of water falling from the spigot into a tin bucket.  It’s the most peaceful and profound moment I’d ever felt in my life.  I was just a child, a human, and for the first time in my miserable life, I wondered why I existed at all, why I lived the life I lived, who I was, what was my purpose, and that if a real god existed, did he see me, know what I endured, know how I hurt?  That was the first time I ever prayed.  I whispered into the wind, “If you’re real then I want to know the real you. Let me see the truth. People lie. Save me, please.”

There was a wooden plaque that I’d sometimes stare at for hours.  It read, “If Christianity were a crime, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” I can’t even begin to tell  you the amount of hypocrisy it represented, especially for this waif of an abused Jewish girl, but I’ll never forget it.  I sometimes wonder whatever happened to that plaque. It shaped my mind more than I ever realized. Needless to say, Jesus never showed up at my doorstep to save me.  Until the time I was 23, I lived in hell, in survival mode, hating the world, determined not to let it beat me.  I honestly don’t know how I survived those years, but it was at this time I traded one hell for another, a different kind of hell, a hell that transferred the outside pain to the inside. I was no longer fighting for my life every day, instead I was fighting for my soul. When I lost my first hope at real love, a part of me died.  I finally became a Janosek, I hid among middle-class idealism, I became it’s poster child, only it wasn’t what I thought it would be. People lie.

For the next twenty years I obeyed, I lived a life of obedience, to my family, to my husband, to my church, to my god, to my community, to everything.  My dream was that my children would not have the life I had, no matter what it cost me.  I gave it my everything – I gave it my faith, my trust, my loyalty, my gifts, my skills, my heart… I gave it my all.  I studied, I learned, I volunteered, I tithed (everything – money, time, gifts, abilities), I prayed EVERY DAY with sincerity.  If ANYONE in this world could pray more sincere that I did with my nose in the carpet for 20 years, then NO ONE has hope. I believed with every ounce of my being… that IF… ‘my people who are called by my name will humble themselves, seek my face, turn from their sins, then will I open the floodgates of heaven and pour out a blessing they’d not have room enough to contain.  If… I believed I would receive.  If… I was obedient and faithful… my husband would love me, my kids would love me, my family would love me, my church would love me. People lie.

I didn’t just pray once and expected the world to just fall into place in an instant.  I prayed faithfully for nearly 20 years.  I have journals and journals and journals of my prayers.  I’d crawl into bed next to a husband every night who didn’t want me, most nights crying myself to sleep, wondering why I wasn’t enough. I watched one of my kids run away from home, leave me worried for years if they were even alive or suffering, blaming myself for being too hard.  I watched a family that promised to love me forever disappear along with the divorce papers, along with other family members that stole from me, lied to me,  and used me.  I watched a church full of people who told me they loved me nearly every day just vanish behind their church doors.  I suppose as long as I looked like them, talked like them, and walked into their doors I was worthy.  Hmmmm?  I wonder where the lost sheep really gather? People lie.

So, here I am, bombarded everyday with the meme’s of life, seeking my own truth, trying to save my own soul, not for a heaven or to avoid a hell, and not to find love. People lie, especially to themselves. That includes me.  I don’t have any answers, but I know they’re not found in “if”.  That’s all bullshit.  I found love only when I chose to love myself.  Salvation?  Everyone has their own faith, even if they think they have something else.  Quoting scripture to me is fruitless.  Quoting meme’s, philosophies, logic, ideals… those are all fruitless too.  Quit trying to save me or change me, just love me.  If  you can’t do that, just go away.  I don’t want you. I sure as hell don’t need you. I’m still lying in the grass, staring up into the heavens, wondering, whispering into the wind, “People lie. Are you real, because I sure as hell know I am.”

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Image by: sympathyforlove.blogspot.com  – Lying in the Grass by Hermann Hesse

Categories: Musing, T.L. Gray | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Focused Leap

Focused Leap

I find it hard to really focus sometimes.  I don’t think it’s because of some medical reason, but more of huge mental and psychological issues within myself.  When I find myself looking for distraction it often means I’m wanting to hide, to escape, to avoid, to protect.  But from what?  It could one of a million things.

I’m a fighter.  I’m strong-willed.  I’m confident and courageous.  But, I’m also very afraid.  I’ve been burned. I’ve fallen hard.  I’ve been so down, so lost, and so hopeless at times that I didn’t want to live anymore.  I’ve seen and experienced horrors that would make nightmares pale in comparison.  Yet, I have survived.  I have overcome. I have defeated.  Though rejected in the most cruel way, I still hold hope to be loved.  Though abandoned, I still hope to be wanted.  Though despised, I still hold hope to be desired.

There are no promises.  There are no guarantees.  There is only hope.  All evidence points to an impossible existence, but I need only to remind myself of all the impossible things I’ve already accomplished.  The only thing stopping me is choosing to focus.  Once I make up my mind, turn my attention toward the thing I desire most, that’s when I leap.  I always leap.  It always requires a leap of faith.  I leap knowing I could fall, knowing I could crash, knowing it could destroy me.  But even more… I know not leaping would kill me.

What focused leap do you face?

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Categories: Musing, Writing | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Oh, My Weary Soul

God, this world is so messed up, and I’m broken in so many shattered pieces, there are just some days too heavy for me to bear.  I’ve lived in this valley for a long time, actually I think I was born here, and I can’t seem to find my way out.

I’m so tired of saying ‘goodbye’.  What the hell is good about bye?  What the hell is so wrong with me that I’m never enough to fight for?  I don’t think it’s that I’m not enough, but that I’m more than they deserve.  Because I know I sure as hell deserve a lot better.  I deserve something real, and the world is full of cowards too afraid to be real.

I have scars all over my body.  I try to hide them, not because I’m ashamed, but because I also carry the inner scars that were created from them and don’t want to share them with just anyone.  People are strange creatures.  We’re controlled by our fears, and often can’t see a person beyond their skin.  We lie to ourselves and convince ourselves that our faith, our beliefs, our values, or our philosophies guide and lead us in our decisions, but they don’t… our fear does.

I have a friend who says he fears nothing, but he’s lying to himself.  He runs as I hard as I do, perhaps even harder, because he’s afraid.  But I don’t have to tell him. In the silence, he knows the truth.  However, knowing the truth doesn’t keep him from being an asshole.  Even still, he’s beautiful and I love him, even though I also hate him for his vanity and cowardice.

I heard a quote this morning from Jim Carrey – “My soul is not contained within the limits of my body, my body is contained within the limitlessness of my soul.” The Journey of Purpose.  I believe this.  When I look at someone, I look beyond their flesh and try to see their soul.  When I tell someone they’re beautiful, it isn’t their body I’m talking about, but their soul.

Who sees my soul?  Who can see past the smile or beyond the scars?  I believe no one.  I’m just the girl who ______ (fill in the blank).

My soul is weary. My heart is crushed.  My faith is weak.  I’m tired of carrying this mangled scarred body around.  I can’t run any more. I wasn’t meant to run, but to fly.  I’m lost.

Categories: Inspirational, Philosophy | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

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