For a few years from late 2006 to late 2009 I was unable to drive due to a bad fall that took its precious, precious time to heal. During that time I had the privilege to be chauffeured around via vehicle by family, friends, church associates and family members at the time. Literally, anywhere I needed to go or wanted to go had to be at the beck and call of others. I often dreaded the thought of having to pick up the phone to ask anyone to do anything for me. Pride and fear of rejection or the concern of being a burden were running rampant in my life. It seemed like the longer I dreaded the ask the longer the healing process took which required me to have to ask more people, for much longer than I’d planned, which, for a girl who likes to plan really messed with my plans. Even in my anguish of not being in control of my own schedule, or arriving to my own destinations on my own I recall now, being able to see so much from the side view. Things I might have missed like beautiful flowers, fresh graffiti, the “hot now” sign at Krispy Kreme, changing leaves, a family of deer in the distance, buildings being built or deteriorating, setting suns or blue birds frolicking on the road were now easy to spot because all I had to do was sit back and see.
I’m a firstborn, a natural born “controller” (in the sweetest, possible Southern woman way), a professional planner, a type A personality, and an INFJ who often has a hard time relinquishing control. (Whew! There I said it!) There’s nothing like three years on the right side of the car to teach a girl how to learn to let go…or so I thought. Riding with others since that unwanted experience in patience and letting go, has been a rarity now as I live alone and live far from most friends. So I’ll be honest and say that the I’m in control/I can do it on my own/I don’t want to be a bother monster was creeping back in my life. Recently I had the opportunity to ride along with a family member. It wasn’t until zipping up 65 North at the mercy of someone else behind the wheel going in a direction I wouldn’t have recommended did I realize how much I still had to work toward letting go, and how much I’d missed enjoying the view from the passenger’s seat. I realize now that for those who lead, in any capacity (which most of all of us do), it’s sometimes hard to let go, but it’s something we owe it to ourselves and others to do.
Here’s what I’ve learned:
- Not being the driver let’s you enjoy the view from the passenger’s seat.
- Not always being the center of attention let’s you step back to see the beauty of others.
- Not always being the one who has something to say let’s others be heard.
- Not being the one to always put plans in motion lets you simply show up and enjoy.
- Not always being Number 1 allows you to learn from those who are.
- Not always being in control allows relationships to flourish, unexpected blessings to surprise you, pride to disappear, trust to build and the gifts of others to show up…for YOU and ME!
So the next time I’m tempted to take control, I’ll (try my absolute best to) opt to sit back and enjoy the view.
As I type this blog the stirring, bass-driven words to an old negro spiritual “Let My People Go” sang by many, but very eloquently by Paul Robeson looms in my mind. It’s a commanding chorus of words which are Biblically-based orders out of the book of Exodus from God to Pharaoh via Moses to let His people the Israelites go. That’s it, simple and plain. God told Moses to tell Pharaoh to “let my people go.”
As I was walking into work this morning enjoying the crisp Alabama fall air, with a bit of a breeze still seeping through the last of the open-toe shoes I’m determined to wear I could feel God say to me “let my people go”. Having an internal conversation with myself (actually the God in me) I started down a litany of questions and comments…Hold up. What? Huh? Who Me? What do you mean? I’m not Pharaoh. I’m Angela. I’m your girl. I love you. Let who go? They’re gone and I’m gone past it. Are you sure you mean me? And just as gingerly and genteel as always I felt an overwhelming “yep” rise up within me.
Here’s what I know about forgiveness. It’s a blessing for the person who forgives. It’s also a blessing for the person who has been forgiven. Often times the best forgiveness comes without an apology. So if you’re waiting on an “I’m sorry” before forgiving then don’t hold your breath. Sometimes, however, the absolute BEST forgiveness comes with a simple and sincere “I forgive you” from the person who was offended to the one who committed the offense.
I’ve gotten into enough spiritual trouble over the years holding on to unforgiveness. It will tear a person apart if they allow. I recognize the spirit of unforgiveness as being one of the weapons the enemy has used against my bloodline for decades so when finding myself heading down that same path I pursued a different route. I forgive, and try to do it as quickly as the healing process allows. The Pharaoh-like, human part of me however, had a way of knowing I’d forgiven, but a sly way of not letting those I’d forgiven know the same, which could easily lead to the thought that I still held something against them. (It’s wacky. I know.) It would cost me nothing to say “I forgive you” and return to the business at hand, but that wasn’t something I’d often thought to do.
So the “let my people go” that I got made me do a quick reflection to see if there were any who might have thought still that I was holding my pain and our past against them. Of course the answer was “yep”. So I’m on a mission to let them know. I started today. I don’t know that any of them cared about or carried the burden of wondering if they’d been forgiven. I don’t know if they are even aware of the matters. I don’t know that there is an expected response I desire. I just want to do my part just in case someone thinks I’m holding something against them. Not that my revelation would change their life, repair what was damaged (because it’s already healed) or open the floodgates of blessings immediately, but it sure is nice when I know I’m forgiven by God for all of my foolishness. The same is so with man, and it’s certainly so with me. As humans, we deserve to know we’ve been let go.
Boy, oh boy, did Disney deal us a doozy! How many of us have dreamed of, prayed for, waited on, or talked about our “Prince Charming”? Most, if not many, I’m sure. We’ve possibly thought that our lives would be better if we could just find that “perfect” Prince Charming, or our problems would be over if we were married, or at least in a relationship. We might have even invested in the notion that we could be happy if we “just had someone to love us”. Well, not to be the bearer of bad news, but Prince Charming isn’t real. In fact, Prince Charming isn’t real, but Cinderella is. You, my sister/friend are Cinderella 2.0. That’s right, there’s some Cinderella in all of us. I’m remembering the story of the beautiful young woman who was dealt tragic circumstances in life but rose above the obstacles and rose to the…
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There are two types of questions I often get. One is whether I miss my “old life”. The other is some morphed variation of questions about my “future life” (as if I can see that far ahead).
At first I used to immediately jump to the questions about the future responding confidently and with certainty about how great things will be some day. That “future” conversation deserves its own blog and will one day get it, but this day is not my focus (literally and figuratively).
For now, I want to declare this fact regarding my past, “I don’t miss my old life, just some of the people in it.” Now, hold up. Wait a minute. Don’t get all up-in-arms thinking that by my “old life” I’m merely referring to the time when I was married, which many might assume, and should not. Definitely don’t think that I’m discounting, dismissing or being less than genteel about those nine…
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Sunday, September 14, 2014 was a revelatory day for me. While enjoying the fun and food at Birmingham, Alabama’s Trucks by the Track I was reminded by my sister that my bra on the left side was showing over my black and white striped sundress. This dress, in particular, has always been one of my favorites as it’s fashionable and flowly all in one. It’s the perfect frock for a food truck fest. The problem is, regardless of when I wear it and what I wear it with my bra on the left side always seems to inch up to be seen. I’m a lady, in the truest, southern-sense of the word so I don’t delight in having my “secrets” by Victoria or Delta Burke (Google it) seen. Having had that particular maxi-dress in my wardrobe a few years I’ve attempted to overcome the undergarment issue by adjusting the straps all the way to the end. Still, within a few minutes of wearing it, even if I put a jacket on top, I am challenged by an unwanted game of peek-a-boo bra.
Not that this dress is the only one who has given me a run for my money. There have been others, including a beautiful white sundress purchased at the Ross Dress for Less in Destin, Florida that caused me to sew the left side up so that the adjustable strap wouldn’t move. I eventually got rid of it. Never did it occur to me that the placement on the left side strap of a lot of things I own(ed) had to be adjusted higher or tighter than the right, or that my left pant leg would often get caught in my pump, or that my left heel would seldom slip out of my shoe…for most of my life. So, while standing there with a fresh, hot Hooked fish and chips basket in my hand I made a bold declaration, “One of my legs is longer than the other.” As if they had been waiting to hear me say that, my mama nodded with a look of agreement only a loving mother offer and my sister blurted out (as only she could), “And I know which one it is too. It’s that left one that’s shorter. Uuuhhhmmm, that’s the one.”
And just like that my 40+ years of standing tall and proud (not always proud, but now super proud) as a 5 foot 9 inch woman was cut short(er). “What the world?!?!?!?”, was my first thought. Then the questions started popping off in my mind and thankfully being answered, as if straight from Heaven, at the same time.
- You mean to tell me I’m even far less perfect than I already thought? (Yes, you are and God will make sure you don’t ever forget it.)
- Why hadn’t I known this sooner? (So that it wouldn’t get stuck in your mind and hinder my movement spiritually more than physically.)
- My left leg is actually a few inches shorter? (Yes, it is. It’s not that big of a deal. It’s quite common. Plus it matters not and won’t hinder your motion.)
- What would a shorter left leg mean for me? (It will mean what it’s meant all of these years…absolutely nothing, other than beefing up your sewing skills when needed, and monitoring your “southern girl switching” when necessary.)
- What would the world think? (They’d think what they have always thought, or likely wouldn’t be thinking of you at all, boo.)
- How would I go on? (Just like I have all along one leg at a time. Now get to steppin’!!!)
The moral of this message is: You can still keep it moving, even if things come up short.