01 March 2017

Are You Salty?

Image result for png green grass
Have you ever looked back at your life?
...maybe the last year... or 10...
and thought about the burdens and frustrations you encountered during that time.
How you loathed the mundane and prayed for something better?
For a change?
For a challenge?
For adventure and excitement?
For something new and different?
Because life was pretty predictable and maybe even a little boring?
And the fact that your schedule could pretty much write itself out in your own planner, made your days even more dreary?

Or maybe you loved your life back then.
Like I did.
...or so thought ...

When I think about my past life...
The comfort of the full size bed I slept in...
How I cradled my perfectly misshapen pillows and curled up with the blanket.  My favorite blanket.  The one where the corners frilled and the padding in it had flattened itself out after years of use.
And I would always rotate the celebrity posters on my walls... I remember Kirk Cameron being my favorite.  I had the perfect view of the "center" of drama in the neighborhood from my window.
When a fight would break out I'd rush to the light switch - CLICK OFF - and jump on my bed, peek from behind the curtain and stare out the window (through the window gate - any project dwellers out there understand this dilemma?) to see who was involved, how the fight started and if anyone was headed to a pay phone for a free call to 911.
Back then there were no Mobile Phones or GO Pro Cameras to capture the drama.  If you missed it, you had to trust the 3 different versions of the same story you heard, and piece it together to have it make sense.

And what about the job I had?
The commute to and from work.
Always giving myself several extra minutes to grab my favorite breakfast at my preferred deli.
For years my order was the same, an omelette with mushrooms, peppers, onions & cheese on a toasted onion bagel with a little bit of mayo.  And for my after breakfast snack, I'd order a toasted corn muffin, with butter and Tropicana.
I was so predicable, and I was okay with it.

I used to think I had the absolute perfect life.
Nothing could compare to how wonderful things were.
The grass was definitely greener on the New York side.
I would never move to Florida, I always muffled - because although the palm trees and blue waters were appealing, my hair was not humidity resistant - and it would ruin my perfect life...
and I would definitely never marry a Puerto Rican - because my brothers were Rican and they were cocky and rude to me as a kid.
Which, to my teenage and young adult mind, meant that every Boricua possessed this arrogant attitude.
I was living in the biggest and best city in the world.
I was single and dating.
I was in my prime.
I had goals and ideas and a vision for the future...

...and then one day my world changed.
I met a guy.
I wasn't searching.  I was honestly avoiding men altogether.
Because I didn't have luck in the love department.
Sure I went on dates.  Why would I reject a free movie?
But I never took any of it seriously.
(maybe I'll share more of our love story later)...
When I wanted love it didn't want me.  The moment I built walls, love came knocking them down.

...and meeting that guy challenged me...
He was Puerto Rican from Florida, but I didn't let that stop me...
I developed new goals and wishes.
I suddenly found myself heading towards what would be my destiny.
But as excited and enthusiastic as I was, I was very unsure, worried and confused.
I was settled where I was.
...or so I thought...

I had a nice 401K plan.  I was getting promotions and raises.
Aside from all the positive and perfect living I was experiencing, I knew I had to leave and go where God was calling me to, but it wasn't without looking back.

At first my days were great.  The beginning was perfect.  It almost felt like living a full-time vacation.
But soon my yearning to return to what I once knew, and the curiosity to know how things were back at "home", put a pause in my development.  Ruined my focus and had me tripping beside myself.

I started to think back to Lot's wife.  They were given clear instructions.  Go forward and don't look back.  I won't quote the verses, because it may take half this page, but for those interested I invite you to read Genesis 19.  For a preview, read chapter 18 as well.

The bible states in Genesis 19:26, that when Lot's wife turned back she "became a pillar of salt".

This particular verse speaks volumes to me.
Especially the 1st - 3rd year of me having moved from New York to Florida.

Sure I had every reason to feel lonely.  I left my entire family.  All our game nights.  All our camping trips and holiday festivities.  I even missed the intermittent drama.  I didn't have any coworkers when I moved.  I wasn't making as much money.  I wasn't enjoying life.  I was home.  Alone.  All day.  I didn't know anyone.  Just the people that my husband knew.  Florida friendships differ from those up north.  Up north your word is true.  It's solid.  Here, "let's do lunch on Saturday" really means "if I have nothing else to do and if I wake up in time and if I remember, then - let's do lunch on Saturday".  That sort of rejection is hard to swallow.

I was used to being the popular girl at church.  The one who everyone came to with their boyfriend drama because even though I was a pastor's daughter, I knew how to take things to the grave.  I was well-liked.  And I knew I was well-liked.  I hosted pajama parties; and when I became an adult and left church I had "even more fun".  Yet here I was, such a likable person resorting to midday theatre visits by myself and lacking friendships.

Losing my job.
Bringing my baggage to my marriage and putting a strain on my new husband.
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All the while looking back.
The grass in New York looked a lot greener than here in sunny Florida.  #IsntItIronic?
Yet here I remained.  I was breathing and taking care of daily duties, but I wasn't content with life.  I was not living out my purpose.  I was too focused on what I had left behind.  I was being pushed in a forward direction with my head faced backwards.  I was tripping.  I was headed the right way, but my attention was reversed.  It delayed and slowed my process.  It caused me to fall.  It caused pain and confusion.  And all the while I still participated in activities.  I went to church, I sang, I attended parties and shopped.  I visited the beaches and built a nice tan.  But I could just not get my head to focus on what was ahead.

It took God removing all distractions and comfort to get my attention.
I was left with nothing but a computer and a bed.
I began to seek Him.
Just because.
Not because I was desperate for an out.
But just because I knew I needed Him, and maybe I was a little bored too.
Plus I needed something deeper.
Something meaningful.
Not just a list of bible stories under my belt, or a handful of memorized verses I could quote on the fly to show that I knew the word.
But I really needed to find Him and know Him.
The God I knew as a kid and experienced as a teen.
The one who mom prayed to as I enjoyed my young adult night life.
I wanted to understand Him... or at least try.
His love.
Why after all these years of running from Him and doing things my way, had He not given up on me?
After months of seeking, I came to the understanding that there were things in me that needed to be healed.  Mistakes I needed to forgive myself for.  Hurt inflicted by family and friends and boyfriends that I was still harboring.  My heart was attached to what I knew, but what I knew caused me so much pain that I didn't know how to process God's goodness.
"Surely there's something up their sleeve", I thought.  "There's no way people are this nice, without a motive."
I didn't understand, because I had not fully submerged myself in God's perfect plan.

But I had to stay.
I knew it was detrimental to my growth, my life, my purpose.
So if I had to stay, this meant that I had to be processed.
I had to be broken.
I had to be humbled and be taken apart, so that God can begin to piece things together.
The right things.
What I needed to be a better wife.
Healing from my past.
All the brokenness I had avoided for the first half of my Floridian life was finally taking place, and the only way I could handle it was with God's Grace.

I chose to stop looking back, because I recognized looking back caused me to be frozen in time.  Caused me to be stagnant and immobilized.  Didn't allow me to let people in.  I wasn't interested in forming new friendships or letting down my walls.  And I certainly didn't want to be invited to places or parties.  Because I was/am an introvert, and that sorta thing brought on more anxiety.

I eventually reached a point where I knew it was vital to my mental, spiritual and emotional growth that I accept where I was headed and make the conscious effort to leave my past behind.  I knew the road to being processed was going to affect every aspect of my life, but I had to allow my will and my selfish desires to submit to the calling and purpose God had in mind when He created me.  I mean why else would He create me, if it doesn't come with a reason?

And if I wanted to enjoy my life, and walk in purpose, and fulfill His plan for me, then I had to allow for those lonely moments...
having no one to talk to...
no place to go...
It wasn't until I threw up my hands, as a sign of complete surrender, that I didn't find true joy in where I was headed and the breaking I had/have to endure to be there.  I also understood that the idea of my grass not being as bright green as it was "back home", was due to my perception.  Being faced in the wrong direction blocked the sun from shining on where I was headed.
Philippians 3:13-14[ESV] "Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."
I'm still not there yet - fully operational in my destiny, but the attitude & outlook I now have, once having accepted where I am, has made the journey more enjoyable.

It's okay to look back to a year ago...
or 10...
and reflect upon how life has changed, improved, taken a turn...
but be careful that your trip down memory lane doesn't become a common resting place...
causing you to yearn for what once was...
forming your salty demeanor...
and delaying the fulfillment of what has been purposed for you.
Isaiah 43:18-19[ESV] "Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old.
  Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert." 

For my bible journaling page, I used acrylic paints by Studio Calico, and stickers, washi and inks by Illustrated Faith, most of which are from the new "Delight In His Day" collection.

x0, d