Why Does Loss Happen?

Why does God let us hurt? Why does He bring us people or animals to love when He knows we’re going to lose them?

Maybe because we don’t love people or animals simply because we’re going to have them forever. We love them because loving them changes us. It makes us better, kinder, healthier, more real. Even if people leave us, or animals die, loving them still makes us better.

So we keep loving. Even though we’re going to lose. Because loving teaches us and changes us, and that’s what we’re here to do. We’re here to become better lovers and to learn how to be loved. So when we get to heaven, we’ll be prepared for the place where everyone loves each other perfectly.

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I Don’t Believe in Advice

I don’t believe in advice. So when someone comes to me and says, “I need advice,” what I think they’re really saying is, “I need love.”

And offering love looks a lot like being quiet, listening, empathizing, and letting someone talk long enough until he/she discovers that they already know the answer they’re looking for.

The thing is, we each hold the answers right inside of us. Sometimes, people simply need a safe place and some time to discover what they already know. So I think offering advice is essentially just trying to hold that space and time for folks in need.

Control vs. Letting Go

There are really two ways of going about our day to day lives.

Either we’re striving and trying to maintain control (a fruitless effort, by the way, which leaves us exhausted). Or we’re relinquishing control to God, and trusting that He will bring us what we need each day.

There’s a distinct and noticeable difference between how good our days are, depending on which mode of being in which we’re acting.

When we’re striving, the people around us can tell. It says to them that there is something more important which we need to accomplish. Something more important than being present with them and letting God work. When we’re trusting God with all of our needs and desires, we’re at rest. And people around us can see this, too. They wonder how we’ve found such peace within the whirlwind of our daily lives. We’re a living testament of what it’s like to know God.

What it really boils down to, is that all of our striving and trying to gain control, makes the statement: “I don’t trust God.” And that hurts Him.

He’s already proven to us His goodness, grace, and love. Why would we not trust Him to take care of us on a daily basis?

Life becomes so much easier when we learn to let go, and let God. With every single aspect of our lives.

To Love At All is to be Vulnerable

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”

-C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

I Hope You Find Someone Who Fills Your Heart…

“I hope you find someone who fills your heart and I hope you let them in. I hope you learn that you don’t have to achieve anything to be happy.”

This is a quote from the movie, Passengers and it’s stuck with me ever since I first heard it. So much so, that I actually wrote it on top of my calendar for the year 2017, in order that I could be reminded of it each day. And what a blessing that has been!

For a lot of us, this quote hits close to home. So let’s break it down.

How do you know when you’ve found someone who fills your heart?

So you’ve met someone new and you’re totally infatuated with that person. During the dating process, you often find yourself thinking, “If only I act just a bit more _____, we’ll be perfect.” Or “I just need to _____ less, and I know (s)he’ll be totally crazy for me.” If this rings true, he/she’s probably not the one who fills your heart.

Any time another person makes you feel as though you need to do or be anything more or less than what you already are, they’re not right for you. Plain and simple. It’s nothing personal and this can be a hard lesson to learn.

When you find the one who fills your heart, it’s easy. It’s natural. You feel safe and secure. Like nothing you could ever do or say would change things between you. Because (s)he knows your flaws. (S)He acknowledges them, then accepts, and even embraces them. (S)He pushes you to grow in your weak areas but (s)he never causes you to doubt her/his adoration for who you are, flawed and all. Not once do the earlier thoughts of, “I just need to do this, and all will be well,” cross your mind.

All that you are and all that you do is totally and completely enough for this person.

And he/she makes that known.

Now on to the next part of the quote, “…and I hope you let them in.”

For some of us, with a string of past relationship failures, when we find that someone who fills our heart, letting them in is often the most difficult part. “How can he/she love me when I act like ______?” “Why would he/she want to be with someone who _____?”

Thoughts of self doubt ring most true when we find someone who fills our heart. Because it’s hard to believe. We’ve met someone who accepts and adores us so purely and wholly. Someone who wants nothing from us but to receive their love. This kind of interaction is life changing and mind blowing. And it’s common to have a hard time believing in its possibility.

But it happens. So believe it when it does. And let that person in.

Which brings us to the final portion of this powerful quote.

“I hope you learn that you don’t have to achieve anything to be happy.”

That person we’ve described above is how you learn. Once you’ve let them in and embraced the love that they’re offering, you realize what life’s about. That you don’t need to acheive anything to be happy. That to love and be loved is enough. In fact, it’s our whole purpose.

Soon You Will Be Confident in Who You Are and What Your Purpose Is

My new dog is what trainers refer to as “reactive”. Probably due to the fact that she had zero socialization during the first few months of her life. She sat alone, abandoned, and afraid during her most crucial development period. And then she came home with me.

dog

She’s a farm girl living in the city and she’s terrified of everything unknown. (Which given her background, is pretty much everything.) I’ve had her with me now for about four months. She’s been slowly gaining confidence and I thought it would be a great idea to send her to doggy daycare once a week. Not only to give myself a much needed break, but also to help her socialize. She loves dogs and I figured by watching the more confident dogs at daycare, she would learn to overcome her fear of people, as well as many other ordinary, everyday things.

Yesterday, we had our much awaited initial evaluation with a Doggy Daycare Center. Needless to say, it didn’t go well. She failed her temperament test. Apparently, once I left, she sat in the corner trembling and wouldn’t let any of the dogs or people come near her. She was terrified. Not the place for her, they told me and sent us on our way.

I was crushed. I’d been spending every day working with this dog for four months and I’ve watched her make incredible progress. To hear that she hadn’t progressed enough to attend a dog daycare, when other dogs are the one thing she loves most, was devastating. I felt exhaustion begin to overwhelm my thoughts as I contemplated just how long this road to recovery would be.

You see, I feel a sadness for my new dog. It makes me sad to think she doesn’t get to experience the fullness of joy that this life has to offer because of her own unfounded fears. I’m sad when I see her insecurities preventing her from enjoying the world around her. And mostly, I’m sad because her defense mechanisms prevent other people from seeing the real her. The dog that I know and love.

The sweet soul who can talk a big talk, but doesn’t have a mean bone in her body. The playful puppy who loves nothing more than a good game of fetch and close cuddling on the couch. She’s brave and courageous and incredibly bright. She’s fast and strong. Gentle and loving.

I could hardly sleep last night. I couldn’t stop brainstorming of how I was going to help this dog. I needed to go back to the drawing board. She was making progress but not enough. I spent the night formulating our recovery plan.

When I awoke this morning, I had a new sense of determination and hope. I found myself talking out loud to her. “You are going to be the bravest pup in all the land,” I said. “Soon you will be confident in who you are and what your purpose is.”

And that’s when it hits me. Isn’t our plight as humans more or less the same?

I wonder if God thinks the same thing about us? Feels the same sadness when He sees our own unfounded fears preventing us from experiencing all that life has to offer. When He watches us push away other people with our defense mechanisms. When our own insecurities cause us to hide who we really are.

“I know you,” He whispers to us. “You’re brave and courageous and incredibly bright. You’re fast and strong, gentle and loving. If only you could see the real you, the person that I know, then you would know your purpose. You could approach the world with confidence, letting other people know you in all of your glorious imperfections. And finally, you could experience the fullness of joy that this life has to offer.”

How Much Do You Love Me?

I recently rescued a puppy and as dogs always do, she’s teaching me a lot about life. Dogs have countless lessons to teach us and I’ve written on this subject before, but puppies, I’m finding out, have even more!

As a rescue, I’m unaware of what life was like for my puppy before coming to me. She has a lot of trust and anxiety issues, as many rescue dogs do. I have another dog, who has been with me since he was born, and the three of us have been in constant negotiation since the new puppy’s arrival. It seems with every new experience, the dogs are working amongst themselves to figure out who’s the boss. Whether it’s a bed, chew toy, food, or my attention. They’ve spent the greater part of our first few weeks together determining which one of them gets what, and when. The puppy will even try to play this game with me. She wants to know who’s boss.

It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes by Elizabeth Gilbert.

“There are only two questions that human beings have ever fought over, all through history. ‘How much do you love me?’ And, ‘Who’s in charge?'” (Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat Pray Love)

Raising a rescue puppy, or any animal for that matter, is confirmation of this truth. At our most basic and animalistic level, it really all boils down to this. 

My Top 10 Relationship Principles

I think it’s extremely important to have guiding principles in various areas of your life. Such principles keep you grounded and help you to see the bigger picture when it’s so much easier to get caught up in the small stuff. I decided to share with you my top 10 relationship principles. You can read them below. These relationship principles simply serve as grounding reference points in my day to day life. Also, one should note, they aren’t specific to romantic relationships. I try to implement these principles in all of my interactions, across a variety of relationships.

What are your relationship principles? Let me know in the comments section below!

  1. Be honest and direct in your communication. You’ll be amazed at how many problems you can avoid by being direct and honest in your communication.
  2. Show vulnerability. Don’t try to be perfect; it’s isolating.
  3. Be clear about what you need and ask for what you want. People aren’t mind readers, so don’t expect them to be.
  4. Be grateful. Appreciate how this person adds to your life. What if she/he were to disappear tomorrow?
  5. Remember that what the other person thinks, feels, and does isn’t any of your business. Your business is what you think, feel, and do as it pertains to him/her. 
  6. If there’s an elephant in the room, point it out. The sooner, the better.
  7. Keep your humor. Life’s not that serious.
  8. Listen more, talk less. Other people are our greatest teachers when we allow them to be. We weren’t given two ears and one mouth for nothing!
  9. Prioritize the relationship needs over your own. Don’t forget that there are three parties to every relationship. You, the other person, and the relationship itself!
  10. BE PRESENT! Probably the most important one of all. How can you experience the joy of true connection if your mind, body, and/or spirit is elsewhere?

Grief, Acceptance, and Grace

This past week has been a hard one. Filled with losses that don’t make sense.

A baby left in the car.
A sister’s body found outside an apartment building.
A dear friend who jumped into a lake and never resurfaced.

I think during such times of unexplainable tragedy, it’s natural for us to want to make sense of what happened.

How do you forget your baby in the car for 8 hrs.? How did you not see him on your way to work? How did your sister die? Why was she lying outside of an apartment building? Who was with her that night? How could such a good swimmer dive into a lake and not resurface? Why were there not cuts, bruises, or abrasions on his body?

What happened?
What happened?
What happened?
Why?!

I think of the five stages of grief. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. I think that they must have left out the stage of wanting to make sense. Or is it part of denial?

I think about my dear friend in his last moments. About the baby. About the sister. In that moment, just before death, when time is frozen and all is quiet, what was he thinking about? His family? His life experience thus far? Childhood memories? Did he think, “Ok I’m going to die now”? Was he scared? Was he peaceful?

Questions. Questions. Questions.
These are what we’re left with when our loved ones are snatched away from us without warning. Questions to which we likely will never know the answers. “I don’t know,” being the sole answer we must carry forth.

I don’t know why.
I don’t know how.
I don’t know.

I think how as humans it’s against our nature to admit that we don’t know. It’s against our nature to accept that we may never know. That some things will never make sense. That maybe not everything is supposed to. Acceptance.

Acceptance invites faith, freeing the chains of uncertainty that bind us to the dark. Acceptance and faith, I realize, go hand in hand. Together they form the sliver of light in our stormy sea of darkness.

Acceptance is our freedom.
Faith our guiding hand.
And grace our greatest gift.
This much I know.

The Dreamers and Visionaries

“The visionaries and dreamers of the world are the driving force behind it. These are the inventors, artists, philosophers, educators, business people, designers, scientists, leaders, and so on…

The world lives in their ideas and ways and it cannot let their ideas die fruitlessly.

The world is beautiful because of the dreamers and visionaries.”

I am Wealth. I am Abundance. I am Joy.