Running the Race with Altered Expectations

I am 41 weeks and 3 days pregnant today.  At least according to the due date (March 27th) my doctor gave me based on the blood test and personal information I gave them back in July.  When my due date came and went, I started to get really anxious.  I was ready for this baby to come.  I had washed (most) of her new clothes, I had been resting and taking some time off from work, I had gotten most of things on my to do list accomplished, and I had cleaned up the house (enough). Well, my daughter had other plans for me.  God had other plans for my daughter. God had other plans for me.  … None of which included having this baby ‘on time’.  Due dates are somewhat arbitrary, (especially in my case) and honestly deceptive.  I’d like to blame my feelings of frustration, discomfort, irritability, and so on, to the fact that my daughter has not arrived when my medical professionals thought she might, but that isn’t fair.  I’ve decided instead that this whole process has provided me with yet another opportunity to reflect on how I’ve reacted to unexpected changes, especially when I’ve imposed my own personal expectations on such a big life event.

I expected Hattie to arrive by now.  I expected to have a midwife deliver my baby.  I expected to have more done before now.  I expected to feel ready.  Instead?  Hattie is still in my belly.  I have an OB (who is awesome, but not who I had anticipated) delivering my baby.  I still have a long list of things I’d like to be finished with.  I don’t feel ready … I don’t think I’d ever feel ready to have a kid though.  And the reality? I haven’t trusted God with my expectations, I haven’t been waiting expectantly, I’ve been expecting for things to go the way I nearly planned.  

I blogged earlier on in my pregnancy about wanting to suffer better, and pay attention to moments in my pregnancy, and be patient in the in betweens.  I have not been patient the last two weeks.  I have been just the opposite.  [Although, I will say that it hasn’t helped having lots of friends and family also anxiously awaiting the arrival of baby Hattie. Everyone means well, and that’s what I keep reminding myself, but friends, if you know someone who is just as anxious about something, telling them what they should do or should have done, does not help the situation.  So I’ve had to do a lot of re-thinking about how I listen to people’s comments and suggestions on my current situation.  Bottom line?  I’m doing what’s best for me and Hattie.]  

So in my impatience and frustration over my current state and everyone’s opinion of it, I have now worked myself up to a state of anxious friendzy that felt like it came to a head while I was driving to my acupuncture appointment this morning.  I was driving my husband’s car, and the check engine light (which was already on) started flashing.  Great. The car’s going to explode.  I’m like 3 blocks from my appointment and I’m not going to make it.  Great.  This baby isn’t going to come on time because I’m going to miss this treatment. Wow. My thoughts spiraled like that, and it was all I could do to hold back tears.  Well, after my appointment, I called my husband and he told me what to do with the car, I did it, and now I find myself sitting at Starbucks feeling stupid for getting so worked up.

Now that I’ve calmed down and feel like I can breathe, I’m taking that step back and am remembering that I’m still not done with the marathon.  There’s still a lot ahead of me, and I’d just stayed too long at a water pit stop and didn’t keep going. Well, here’s to continuing the race and remembering what’s at the finish line … and that ultimately, while there are moments of rest, all of this is a marathon and I think I forgot that for a little while. I miss running, can you tell?

Thanks for being on this journey with me, and for encouraging me and loving me.

#CementWedVid

This Christmas was a special one.  For one, it’s John and I’s last Christmas as just us…  OR, our first Christmas with a baby, but … she’s still in my uterus, so she’s super easy to take care of right now.  In most ways.  For two, my family decided to do a gift exchange where we had one other person we made a gift for.  I was initially peeved by this idea because it would take up some extra time and thought, but it ended up being great. My dad made John a scrapbook of memories of me growing up. My brother made us a super sweet cross stitch of our last name that he framed.  He also finished our wedding video!  I was blown away.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

My Brother and I
My Brother and I

Joy in Light of Cynicism

I battle constant cynicism and constant joy.

I blame a lot of my cynicism on the environment I was surrounded by, growing up in the Northeast.  On the outside, I’m cynical and judgemental of a lot of things around me.  On the inside, I constantly feel inadequate at most, if not all, activities.  As a kid, my mother always made me feel like it was never enough; academics, music, sports, anything.  So by the time I got to high school I had what I would describe as a fairly broken spirit.  My motivation to achieve good grades or continue with the viola was based only on the fact that I wanted to make sure I got into college so that I could leave home and get away from the negativity that clouded my vision and spirit.  I knew there had to be more than what was in front of me, but being in the midst of it, it felt interminable.  

I have a journal entry that I look back on that sums this up.  It has a list of things I felt I could never accomplish.  Some of the things included: graduating from college, getting a job, getting married, etc.  I must have reached a point, when I wrote the entry, where I felt that none of the desires of my heart were possible.  I don’t remember writing that journal entry.  But I do remember feeling that way.  Often the most intense emotions are what we remember best; extreme sadness and loneliness or extreme joy and happiness.  

Standing in my parents’ shower last night (I’m visiting them for Christmas), I remembered a time that I felt so utterly hopeless that nothing was worth it any more.  I remember sobbing as the water splattered around me, making my tears seem wasted.  Looking back on that memory I was sad for my past self.  I wish I could have talked to her and told her that hope and joy don’t come from any of the things that she thinks they do.  They don’t come from inside you.

But funny enough, I was pleased to realize that a large part of that list has already been accomplished.  I graduated college.  I have a husband.  I have a ‘big girl’ job.  And I’m sure some other things on the list.  I was even more pleased to realize that really none of these things had happened because of something I did.  I grew up thinking I had to achieve at a certain level and do certain things in order to feel content as a person.  While being a good student, musician, wife, daughter, or other roles that I play(ed) in my life is great, it’s ultimately not where my joy comes from.

As a part of the same stream of consciousness, I realized I had just as many things to be cynical and even depressed about in my current stage of life, as I did when I was in high school: I have tons of bills I have to pay every month, I’m having my first child soon, I work about 65 hours a week; and more, all of which I let weigh heavily on me at different times.  

But I don’t let those things steal my joy anymore.  Most of the time.  Because I let my hopelessness and fear of failure consume me as a teenager, I didn’t have as much joy as I do now.  Now, I joyfully and hopefully look at the challenges and frustrations I face in a different light.  I remember (or try to) that at the end of the day, it’s not about whether I’m the best at my job, at being a wife, or eventually a mom.  

My joy has already been accomplished and I have more in Christ than I ever had when I relied on myself.  If I could go back in time, I would tell my high school self that nothing she can do will ever make her feel better or good enough.  But then again, I can’t say that I’d want to take away my experiences and the process it took me to get to this point.  I feel accepted, loved, and whole in the best ways, which is really what I wanted in high school, and still want today.  And not because of anything I did or because of any one person that’s in my life (although I do have some great people that I’m surrounded by), but because of the Cross.
Christmas is a wonderful celebration of the birth of Christ, but it wouldn’t be worth celebrating if Jesus didn’t complete what he came to accomplish, dying on the Cross.  Christmas is much more meaningful in light of the Cross.

~

Prince of Peace

I’ve listened to this song too many times, and actually don’t enjoy the melody,

but the lyrics really hit me today as I was writing this.

Jesus answered a prayer I didn’t know I prayed:

“Lord, meet me where I am.”

~
My heart a storm, clouds raging deep within
The Prince of peace came bursting through the wind
The violent sky held its breath
And in Your light I found restTearing through the night
Riding on the storm
Staring down the fight
My eyes found Yours
Shining like the sun
Striding through my fear
The Prince of peace
Met me there

You heard my prayer

Hope like the sun, light piercing through the dark
The Prince of peace came and broke into my heart
The violent cross, the empty grave
And in Your light I found grace

Tearing through the night
Riding on the storm
Staring down the fight
My eyes found Yours
Shining like the sun
Striding through my fear
The Prince of peace
Met me there

You’re always there
And You hear my prayer

Your love surrounds me
When my thoughts wage war
When night screams terror
There Your voice will roar
Come death or shadow
God I know Your light will meet me there

When fear comes knocking
There You’ll be my guard
When day breeds trouble
There You’ll hold my heart
Come storm or battle
God I know Your peace will meet me there

(Again and again)
Oh, be still my heart
I know that You are God
Oh fear no evil
For I know You are here

And my soul will know Your love surrounds me
When my thoughts wage war
When night screams terror
There Your voice will roar
Come death or shadow
God I know Your light will meet me there

And my soul will know
When fear comes knocking
There You’ll be my guard
When day breeds trouble
There You’ll hold my heart
Come storm or battle
God I know Your peace will meet me there

Oh, be still my heart
And my soul will ever know that You are God
And You heard my prayer

The In Betweens

Being pregnant is like being engaged.  You’re in between.  Being pregnant is in between not having a kid and having a kid.  Being engaged is in between being single and being married.  Sometimes the in between times are the hardest to be focused in.  Sometimes it feels like the in between times are all there is.  While I was vacuuming at lunch today (does anyone else have their biggest life revelations when they’re cleaning?) I realized I haven’t been at all focused on being present in my pregnancy; I keep saying, and thinking, “I’m done being pregnant.”  Nearly three months of constant nausea, and then ongoing fatigue and who knows what else to come?  Yeah, I’m good, thanks. Needless to say, I don’t suffer well.  I hope I keep it together at least a little bit when you see me in real life, but on the inside … I’m throwing a tantrum like a four year old who didn’t get what they begged for at the grocery store.

So I decided today that I want to suffer better.  I don’t know for sure what that looks like, so I’m working on figuring that out. But I know for sure that I need to get out of the mentality of ‘being done’ with this before I’m close to finishing and start navigating it better.  What’s up with people judging things before they give people a chance or predicting how the race is going to end before it starts?  I’m 21 weeks into this marathon, and I’m not calling the end time yet.  I’m not calling how heartbreak hill is going to go.  I’m going to wait until I get there.

Another revelation I’ve had in pregnancy, even this early (and still having a small belly): my body is no longer my own.  Not only because of the baby that’s inside me stealing space (duh), but also because of all the people that feel they now have claim to touch it.  I have had the opposite reaction to what I expected I would have; I have embraced this aspect of pregnancy.  If you know me at all, you know I’m fairly averse to people touching me most of the time.  But somehow, with this pregnancy, I’m starting to change my physical outlook on things like that.  Don’t get me wrong, I still want appropriate physical boundaries with people, but when I see how excited women get when they look at my belly or ask me about my pregnancy, I realize that this is a chance to connect with them on a different level than I could have before.  … Dudes usually just stare at my belly for a minute, if they look at all, it’s almost comical.  

All that to say … if being pregnant is this crazy … how crazy will having a kid be?  Yeah, I know, you’d think it would have occurred to me before now, but … I’m a little slow on the uptake sometimes.
Here’s to another … 19 (or more!) weeks of joyful discoveries in pregnancy.

#PregnantNun

In high school I had a sweet classmate who told our group of friends that she couldn’t wait to be pregnant.  I remember being shocked and impressed that she would share such an intimate desire.  I too envisioned that this life experience would be exhilarating and visceral. I remember my friend talking about being pregnant as this magical life event that was to be admired and coveted.  I admired her courage and excitement.  

Even though it crossed my mind occasionally, it never really sunk in that one day I very well might start a family.  When I was in high school I couldn’t get beyond the, ‘you have to have sex to get pregnant’.  Well, I wasn’t getting married, let alone having sex anytime soon, so why was getting pregnant worth getting concerned over?

As high school turned into college and college turned into work and work turned into more than a full time way of life, I have realized that often our far-off thoughts of what might be next in life, the: ‘Well, maybe one day …’ are much closer than they appear.  

John and I weren’t ‘planning’ on starting a family this soon, but we also weren’t not planning on it … so, as our Pastor told us, it turns out we were planning on it.  (Yes, I got over the ‘you have have to have sex to get pregnant’ thing, don’t worry, we didn’t have to do anything super science-y to get pregnant).  

Before we even got engaged, John told me he wanted kids.  He said he’d always wanted to be a dad.  At 24, and fiercely independent, that was hard to wrap my head around.  I knew one day I’d want to add children to my family, but it felt far away and impossible.  

Once we got married though, fear encroached on me: what if I couldn’t get pregnant?  What if I couldn’t give John what he wanted?  What if we never had kids and secretly John felt like I was a failure and disappointment?  … All of these were irrational fears, yet they still creeped into my heart and worried me. 

It’s funny how fear creeps into our hearts.  It can make us doubtful about almost anything.  Even the things we are most sure of.  I always like to remind myself that fear is not from God, fear is from the enemy, sneakily trying to crumble the hope that God has instilled in us; the hope that reminds us there are things out of our control, and that ultimately God is in control.  Yes, there are choices we can make, but a lot is not up to us.  So in the midst of it all, John has been more than encouraging and reminded me many times that at the end of the day, God is in control, I am not. 

So with that in mind, John and I start our next adventure as parents.  So far this has entailed a lot of being sick and feeling crummy for me and for John, a lot of waiting on me hand and foot.  John has been an incredible husband and has cooked for me, driven me places, and put up with a LOT of whining.

And so begins the adventure of the #pregnantnun.

#pregnantnun

Joyfully Uphold Grace

My social media feeds yesterday (June 26th, and probably the next couple days ahead) were consumed with reactions to the recent ruling on same-sex marriage.  So much so that I neglected to realize that yesterday was the year anniversary of my engagement to John.  (I blogged about it here).  I thought that June 26th rang a bell but I couldn’t put my finger on it. (I’m not big on dates, really … ) So I went about my day here at the Outer Banks and read my book, blogged about my current state, did my devotional, and scanned through my Facebook Feed.

Along with not remembering the significance of the day, I also couldn’t figure out why I was feeling so unsettled about the ruling on gay marriage.  I stand on a Biblical viewpoint of marriage and believe that Christian Marriage is between a man and a woman.  I believe that John and I made a covenant with God, in front of others, to love and cherish each other forever.  Do I believe that marriage between a man and a man or a woman and a woman is right?  No. But I also don’t believe in denying people something that I am allowed. I was allowed to marry who I wanted because it happened to be allowed under the law.  But it’s not my government marriage license that reminds me what marriage is.  It’s God’s Word that does.  God’s Word tells me what marriage is to me and others that share my beliefs and what that means.  But for other people that is not the case.  And for me to say that my beliefs should be their beliefs is wrong.  In fact, our Country was founded on this basis.  Our Country was founded on the basis of separation of church and state, SO THAT I (and all of us) could practice my faith as I choose.

I got ‘in trouble’ for posting this article yesterday.  It felt a little scary but also awesome. Do I completely agree and side with the author on everything in the article?  Probably not.  But do I think that he articulates what I was trying to understand about how this law affects, and more importantly doesn’t affect me?  Yes.  The new law on same sex marriage has no bearing on how I will operate as a follower of Christ.  I will not be forced to attend a ‘gay’ wedding or perform at a gay wedding as a musician, or anything of the sort.  I can recognize though that now a whole group of people, who had been denied rights that I am allowed, have now been allowed those rights, because they are citizens of this country.

More than anything that upset me yesterday, I was upset by the fact that ‘others’ felt responsible for my beliefs.  Someone went around me to voice their concern of my article re-post to an authority in my life.  That scares me more than the new marriage law.  If someone has a concern over my beliefs, they can come to me. And at the end of the day, my beliefs are not your concern.  I will gladly tell someone what I believe and how I live, but the law of Biblical boundaries dictates that each of us is responsible for our own spiritual property and not others’.  If our relationships as Christians don’t look different than the relationships of non-believers, we’re doing something wrong.  Going to each other when we have a disagreement, concern, frustration, or hurt should be a part of that operation.

And honestly, while yes, we are under the law of this country that we live in, and have to abide by those laws, I don’t believe that this is the law that I will be judged under when I die, do you?  I believe in the Truth and Judge that is Jesus Christ.  “There is only one lawgiver and judge, He who is able to save and destroy.  But who are you to judge your neighbor.” (James 4:12)

I know the truth that I believe and the truth that I live by.  My country will never dictate that.  When I die, I don’t think that I will get judged based on the laws of our country, but rather by the ultimate Judge, God our Father.  Do I need to abide by the laws that the country I live in gives me, yes.  Writers in the New Testament explain this to us.  As believers, we are to obey civil authorities (1 Peter 2:13-17).  But ultimately God calls us to obey Him.  And that is how people will be able to tell we are different.  Yes, we are Americans.  Yes, we live in a country where abortion, gay marriage, and other sins are ‘allowed’.  But that does not mean that we commit those sins.  Or aid in other’s committing those sins.   We are called to look different, act different, and be different.

If we continue to offer up judgement, law, ignorance, and hatred towards others, we will look no different than the Pharisees looked in Jesus’ time, holding up judgement and law, over grace and forgiveness, leading us to the Cross.  Read the story of the woman caught in adultery.  Replace the woman with someone who is in a gay marriage (or has gotten an abortion, or drinks too much or another ‘popular’ sin).  Let me know if you’re allowed to throw a stone at her/him.

I know I’m not.

Joyful Change

Disclaimer: The beginning of this is post is going to sound very critical.  Often how I realize something I am trying to work on in myself is through what I see in others.  So the opening is artfully crafted (in my humble opinion) as a criticism that turns into an introspective rant. 

I am so over reading the status’ of my ‘Minute-to-minute Facebook status updators’. Yes, I just made up a name for you, you ‘I just took the kids to the pool and they had a great time, now we’re going to watch a movie, we have such a great family!’  *see attached 5 pictures for proof, in case you don’t believe me* But guess what, I keep reading those status’!  It’s like even when I tell my brain I don’t like doing something, I’ve formed this seemingly unbreakable habit where even when I don’t want to do something, I still do it.  Oh wait, that’s being a normal human.

Something I’ve discovered over the past five months about breaking habits and taking something so much a part of your life, out of your life, is making new habits in their place.  Even though I have primarily been focusing on one aspect of this in my life, it has transferred over to other facets, and I’ve realized little and big habits that have slowly crept in that I like and don’t like.  Why is making good and new habits so hard? Oh right, because they are new – even when I tell myself they will be good for me, my muscle, thought, and emotional memory tells me it doesn’t want to change.  Change is hard.  Change is work.  Change is effort.

But change is often worth it, when it’s working towards something meaningful.  Don’t worry, constant Facebook status updators – I know, you just want us to know how wonderful (or terrible) things are going – I know this is how you use your Facebook, and you have the freedom to continue to do so.  I’m saying that I’ve learned something about myself from you.  Thank you.  It translates to other patterns that I see in my life, too.  Behaviors, thought patterns, and attitudes about myself that I don’t like.

When I get angry about what I’ve taken out of my life, I try to remember what I do have, and what I’ve been blessed with, and how much more I get to experience because of the new and healthy habits I’ve made.  Don’t worry, there are still a million things I’m catching about myself every day.  Sometimes it’s all I can do to focus on one though.

Perrier
The Change I See

For The Wonderful Love He Has Promised

I love hymns.  I grew up in a church that sang (and still does sing) straight out of the hymnal.  The first time I was at a service where we sang off of words projected onto a wall I was so perplexed.  There’s something about seeing the music and being able to read the pattern of the notes while you sing.  And the weight of the hymnal in your hand.

So seeing friends’ hands in the air or clapping along with the beat the first time I went on an Intervarsity retreat was so strange. I felt uncomfortable and out of place. Where was my hymnal?  You want me to read off a song sheet or off a projected image?  I gradually got used to this type of worship, but I still cherish the times I worship at a place that uses a hymnal. Glancing at the year a song was written (words or music) usually brings me so much hope, knowing (sometimes) over a hundred years ago someone else had the same longings I did, or the same fears, or the same dreams.  And the that the word of God can come alive across years, through music and words that so many others have sung.

I’ve been listening to a lot of contemporary worship music.  This week I found the new Hillsong album, Empires, which is fantastic.  Someone I follow on Instagram posted a photo with the lyrics and they tugged at my heart.  The song is called Even When It Hurts (Praise Song), and it talks about worshipping even when we’re at the end of ourselves.  I always feel like I’m at the end of myself.  Whether because of circumstances, or because of my longing for The Kingdom.  So this song hit my heart hard. And reminded me that even though I am at the end of myself, Jesus can take that, He can take it all.  (Find lyrics here)

Contemporary worship is fantastic.  It often feels more accessible to my genre preference, and the words, often, more relatable. But since moving my faith from my own accomplishments and achievements, and onto the Cross, I have been able to look at all worship songs differently, and hymns feel even deeper and wider than they did growing up.  I have my string students learn hymns, and I often play them when I warm up.

This morning I decided to do a hymn, Softly and Tenderly, for my #NameThatTuneFriday, something I started on my social media.  I first heard the hymn in a movie, Junebug, and the arrangement was fantastic. It’s a cappella and so moving. At first the melody is what catches my ear; that’s the musician in me.  But then the words.  The words are what grab my heart.

Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling,
Calling for you and for me;
See, on the portals He’s waiting and watching,
Watching for you and for me.

 

Refrain:
Come home, come home,
You who are weary, come home;
Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling,
Calling, O sinner, come home!

 

Why should we tarry when Jesus is pleading,
Pleading for you and for me?
Why should we linger and heed not His mercies,
Mercies for you and for me?

 

Time is now fleeting, the moments are passing,
Passing from you and from me;
Shadows are gathering, deathbeds are coming,
Coming for you and for me.

 

Oh, for the wonderful love He has promised,
Promised for you and for me!
Though we have sinned, He has mercy and pardon,
Pardon for you and for me.

 

The third verse in particular is standing out to me today: Time is now fleeting, the moments are passing, Passing from you and from me; Shadows are gathering, deathbeds are coming, Coming for you and for me. I started reading a book by Frances Chan and his wife, Lisa, You and Me Forever; I’ve only read the introduction and first chapter, and it’s already exploded my thoughts on what marriage is really about. The tagline sums it up: Marriage in the Light of Eternity.  What does that even mean?  Well, the Chan’s explain that marriage isn’t about each other, it’s about God, because ultimately, when a husband and wife, individually, center their life around God, and then push each other towards God, the marriage will work. And even beyond that, the goal of marriage is to prepare the other person to face God on the judgement day.  How crazy is that?  My friend Craig is probably one of the best examples that I’ve seen live this out. Definitely read about his story on his friend, John Gunter’s blog, and on Craig’s blog about her cancer as well.

What am I doing with my time?  Am I spending my time and life with the end in mind?  I’m always ‘re-prioritizing’ my time and ‘reorganizing’ how I do things, and focus to much on how I’m doing things instead of what I’m doing.  I’m great at focusing on anything besides what’s important.  It’s practically my second job.  I have gotten better about using my time for things I value, and less time for things that I know don’t bring me joy, but it’s still a daily struggle.  How do you spend your time?  How are you spending your time with the end in mind?  What do you do daily that brings you joy and helps you see that there’s so much more?  How do you worship?  Do you worship and sing even when it hurts and nothing makes sense? What has the Lord put on your heart?

2015-05-27 00.02.57

Thursday Thoughts

2015-03-16 22.18.02

In one of my college writing courses we read Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott and it was one of the best writing books I’d been assigned and have read up to this point.  When this image passed through my Facebook feed last week, I immediately shared it (which I rarely do with anything) and saved it to my phone.  In a culture where women are prompted to employ any and all technique to make their face and body look perfect, this reminded me that I need to stop hiding behind my mascara and lip gloss, and know that what people really see in me is my joy (or sometimes lack thereof).   So now, as I put on my makeup, I try to remind myself that what’s more important is what’s underneath …Simple, but true.

Midnight is Just the Beginning: Joyful Forgiveness as Seen in Cinderella

In the new Cinderella movie, Cinderella’s dying mother tells her that she must remain courageous and kind.  Throughout the movie, the writers wove this into the framework.  It was a lovely way for Cinderella to be depicted, but in the end, not what Cinderella really ended up conveying.  Yes, she was courageous to stay in her deceased parent’s home and serve her terribly disgusting stepmother and stepsisters, and she was kind to them even when they were rude and obnoxious to her, but in the end, Cinderella’s ability to forgive her stepmother blew me out of the water.

Cate Blanchett
Cate Blanchett was excellent as the evil stepmother in Cinderella

At the very end of the movie, as the prince is taking Cinderella out of the clutches of her stepmother, Cinderella stares at her stepmother, who is sitting on the stairwell starting to sink down, and simply says, “I forgive you.”

“I forgive you.”

Nothing prompted Cinderella to do this, no pleading or anything.  When she said it though, it wrecked me.  The entirety of the movie, the stepmother treated Cinderella with disgust, disdain, and disapproval, all because Cinderella’s father had loved Cinderella.  The stepmother couldn’t see past her own envy and broken heart to see that Cinderella had done nothing to deserve her stepmother’s anger and hurt.  But unfortunately when we are angry and hurting, we have trouble controlling our actions and often they hurt others because all we can think about is assuaging the pain in any way.  For Cinderella’s stepmother, who had lost two husbands, and was jealous over a father’s love for his daughter, this pain revealed itself through control of Cinderella.  If her stepmother could not have the money, title, or husband she wanted, she could have control of another person, Cinderella.

While it is frustrating to see Cinderella put up with all of the abuse, she claims at one point she stays because it is her deceased parent’s home and she told them she would remain in the house, it endears the viewer to her all the more. And so when Cinderella forgives her stepmother, it’s all the more powerful.

Who forgives someone that has taken nearly everything away from them?  Who forgives someone that treated them so terribly?  Someone that has been forgiven.

I have concluded from the context of the movie that Cinderella forgave her stepmother because it was the ‘courageous’ and ‘kind’ thing to do, but I’d like to think there’s more to it.  When we hold an anger and discontentment against someone in our hearts, it doesn’t hurt them, but hurts ourselves.  I’ve done it.  You’ve done it.  (If you haven’t, we need to talk, I know someone has done something you haven’t liked).  We’ve all done it.  But Cinderella didn’t want to move on to the next chapter of her life with that burden or yoke on her.  So she forgave her stepmother.

It hit me.  I have forgiven the people that have hurt me the most so many times.  Or at least I thought I had.  Sometimes to their face, and sometimes just to myself.  But how painfully cathartic would it be to continually process through our hurt by forgiving the people we feel have hurt us: every time we feel it coming back into our heart?  Even if we never tell them.  Or even if we do.  Maybe we just write it out.  Or maybe we do tell them.  I’m not saying this is the best model for all situations, but for some.  Sometimes people don’t know they have hurt us, and sometimes they do.  In either situation, it should be noted that we need forgiveness even if we aren’t aware that we do.

I was on both sides of the fence of this last week and the week before.  With two very good friends.  Two different conversations, but it was handled gracefully.  In one I was hurt, but recognized it, forgave the other person, and we moved on.  In the other situation, I was on the other side and needed to be forgiven.  It was humbling.  Even in those small conversations though, it felt like a representative of what our hearts long for: acceptance and love and forgiveness when we’ve done wrong.

Besides love, I think forgiveness is the biggest game changer.

Who do you need to forgive?

What do you need to be forgiven for?

When we’re blinded by our own hurt and heartbreak, we often bring others down with us in an attempt to save ourselves.  But through forgiveness we can be brought back and move forward.  The key to forgiveness then is moving on and not getting stuck on what happened or what can’t be changed, but instead what’s ahead.

What do you need to put behind you?

What do you have ahead of you that you’re not seeing?

Forgiveness is the key to removing our blinders.

Ci