my letter to you : perceptions vs. intent + the "we" instead of the "i"
Updated: May 27, 2020
my church home, port city community church, does a personal retreat every year, facilitated by a tool and individually led by each person who chooses to participate.
this tool helps everyone who chooses to partake dig into layers of reason that we may not all be comfortable dealing with, especially if the year was particularly trying.
it helps us identify what God is doing in us and clarify how to best choose and begin expressing our focus on a "one word" for the new year.
for me, my one words look like this over the past few years.
there is a blurb in the tool this year that struck me in a way that was somewhat unpleasant.
“everybody is leading somebody somewhere. yet, we rarely consider where people end up when they follow in our footsteps...opportunities to influence are all around us; we must pay attention or we will miss them.”
i missed a lot of them in 2019...and when i didn’t miss them, i got God-awfully close to completely butchering myself and others, because of my lack of intentionality.
my heart didn’t align with my head on almost everything.
my beliefs didn’t align with the values i was manifesting with the choices i was making.
my words, promises to others, myself and God, were smoke in mirrors and my actions didn’t align with much truth throughout the year.
that means that, if i had the chance to lead you, i likely led you astray.
i lost you at some point and found myself in this hard realization toward the end of the year.
if you're reading this, you already know that though.
you're not dumb.
you're not heartless either.
you perceive me to be, though.
that's not the truth.
i'm not heartless.
i'm not a complete asshole.
i'm also not an angel, though i know whose i am.
i have gone through what most psychologists call "trauma."
and while that's not the point i want to make, nor is it an excuse, it really is the underlying WHY behind most of my intention-less decisions that likely left you wandering in the dust pile of my 250mph sprint away from you.
the book Boundaries by Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend taught me that it's normal to withdraw from relationships when we most need them.
that's exactly what i did.
i did it in a way that was more self-sabotage than respectful, however.
a way that just made you dislike me as a person, so you'd choose to alienate yourself from me first.
a way that made the choice easier for me- and likely, for you too.
[intimacy isn't the absence of conflict, but rather a safe place to resolve it]
my own self-sabotage was initiated in my marriage, not because of it, but despite it.
i realized this during my personal retreat.
i wanted so badly to fit into an image that i thought he wanted in his partner.
one that wasn't who i was, nor who i am.
so when i didn't fit into it, i'd self sabotage- by binge eating, running myself ragged, or making myself so busy i couldn't connect with him, let alone anyone else.
after we split (and also after he actually moved out),
my wild decisions, without intent, began- primarily as a distraction.
a distraction that started because i wanted to take advantage of this extra time i had, and at the very least, make a difference in the world.
the Bible tells us that we should share our sinful desires with one another and pray for each other (James 5:16).
and so, with intent, i tried.
it started when i shared my heart- my sin- with women i trusted.
instead of helping lead me, i felt like the reaction to me opening up about the WHYs driving those decisions were alienating me from a safe place.
into a place where i was judged.
not responded to when i needed someone.
and quite honestly, a place that felt void of love altogether.
and so i self-sabotaged.
put my own walls up.
made new friends.
kept myself busy doing other things.
this time, without intent.
...because the first time i tried intentional, i was left alone.
or at least that's how i felt.
and when i realized all of this, i tried again.
except this time it was you.
i probably led you astray.
then walked away.
because i couldn't dare face the consequences of similar judgement.
i want to pray boldly like i used to but haven’t had the faith to stare all of these unanswered prayers in the face.
so instead, with all of me, and all of my intent to align my heart with my head and my words with my actions, i pray the prayer of St. Francis for all of us this year:
“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. where there is hatred, let me sow love,
where there is injury, pardon, where there is doubt, faith, where there is despair, hope, where there is darkness, light,
where there is sadness, joy.
oh, divine master, grant that i may not so much seek to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love, for it is in giving that we receive. it is in pardoning, that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
with every intent and purpose driven motivation i have,
i want to turn my lofty articulation into an actual living expression,
i want to lead with love instead of fear,
and turn this “i” into “we” so i can lean on and love people who lean on and love me, too.
with love + light.