Monday, September 19, 2011

If you love something, let it go

I want to talk a bit this week about this most irritating saying and why although it is deeply frustrating, it is also full of truth and very necessary.

This saying used to really frustrate me something serious. It just never seemed to make any sense. "If I love something, why on earth should I let it go? Then it might leave and never come back, and then I'll lose it and be miserable and depressed and never find anything like it again, then I'll die! Screw it. I'm never going to let it go then. It'll stay here with me forever, where it's safe!"

It always seemed like a bit of a backwards theory to me. I had many things in my life that I held onto with an iron grip and just refused to let them go. People and relationships were a big issue for me when it came to this. I would literally hold onto people long after they wanted me to and would continue to try and resurrect friendships that were already dead - even people that I hadn't spoken to for years. No doubt I had a few people wondering to themselves - "Why on earth is Graham trying to contact me? I haven't spoken to him in over 5 years!"

I also used to put marriage and intimacy on an enormous pedestal when I was younger. I honestly saw it as the final solution to all of my problems and that if that was to just happen for me, I would be happy and never have to feel alone or afraid again because marriage was going to be perfect and full of love all the time, right? There was no such thing as problems and animosity in marriage, was there? My wife would complete me, right? All would be "happily ever after", right? Wrong.

I've never been married, of course. But my thoughts towards the subject - as well as the subject of relationships - have changed drastically over the last few years. I have realized that my obsessive need to hold onto people and never let them go came from a deeply withheld insecurity within my own life - and that my obsessive fantasies regarding marriage and intimacy stemmed from the exact same insecurity. In a sense - I wanted to use people as drugs to numb my feelings and block out my insecurities so that I wouldn't have to face them.

I now see that my insecurities would have actually turned marriage into a living hell, as eventually the honeymoon period would have worn off and my wife would lose the ability to "keep me medicated" so to speak whenever some kind of argument or anything rose up between us, which of course would inevitably happen. Then I'd realize I was stuck in a commitment with someone who could no longer help me to keep my insecurities contained, which would inevitably translate into depression.

This insecurity has already killed countless relationships in my life through my obsessive need to control the friendship and keep it alive no matter what, as well as obsessing over every minor detail and going into a panic mode if something didn't quite add up properly. Simply put - people would get tired of me. And who could blame them? I was tiring.

I have realized that if I want to truly be able to appreciate either a friend or a romantic relationship, I need to be able to come to a place of complete strength and wholeness within my own inner being, so that I can look upon others as people with flaws and insecurities like myself and not as drugs to be used to help me to block out my feelings. When I can look at a girl who really gets my heart racing - and yet remain strong enough in myself to be objective and able to be honest with her and myself about the relationship and whether or not I believe it will work, is when I will be far more able to appreciate it without building up a whole lot of unreasonable expectations which will no doubt destroy me (and her too).

If I can let her go - and truly accept that she may not come back if I do this, and be strong enough in myself to accept that as truth and be ready to completely move on without her if she doesn't come back - then I believe I will be ready to have a relationship which will truly bless both parties and won't turn a dream of mine into a nightmare.

I guess my message in all of this is that we need to be prepared to let go of the things that we love if we truly want to be able to appreciate them properly. I believe God wants us to stand strong on our own first, and once that has happened, we'll be able to see relationships properly and therefore be able to join our souls with another. So if you've battled with insecurity and it's affecting your relationships and turning you obsessive as it has done me - learn to deal with it before it turns your dreams into nightmares as it so often has done for mine.

Peace out, all.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Wants and needs

There is a substantial difference between things in our lives that we want and things that we need. We may think that we "need" something, but in actual fact what we truly need can be something else entirely.

I have been challenged on this a lot over the past few weeks. Over the last few months I have been reading passages from the Word For Today (A Christian daily devotional book) talking about a change in times and seasons which I felt spoke to me that change of sorts was on the horizon for me. I've also had friends speak over my life saying the same thing. In my heart, I agreed with what they said and I began to imagine what I thought this change that may be coming into my life might look like.

I had a few different ideas as to what I thought I "needed" this change to be. I never for a second imagined that the change that was heading my way involved having a complete nervous breakdown, having to resign from my job as a result and go on the sickness benefit to support myself financially. This certainly was not the change that I was hoping for, or "wanted". There were times when I found myself very angry at the changes that had taken place and wished I had done something to prevent them.

However, as time has passed over this last 5 weeks or so that I have been off work, I've come to realize that as hard as this has been, this has been the change that I have really "needed" as I have gained some amazing insight into things I have struggled with for years and as a result I am feeling much freer and stronger within myself than I ever have before. I can honestly say that the changes that have come into my life that I initially didn't "want" have become the best thing that has ever happened to me in my 27 and a half years on this planet.

It has been extremely difficult to face this and it has tested me to the very core of my being, which has been very painful - but as I have begun to realize - what is the alternative? I have gained insight into deep and powerful tensions that have kept me as an internal prisoner for my entire life which I would never have gained if none of this had ever happened to me. Sure, I could have received my "wants" and had a nice easy ride, continuing to skim over the surface of what was happening deep within my own heart - but the alternative would have been that the unresolved issues would slowly have gnawed away at me from the inside out and worn out my ability to truly appreciate and enjoy the good things that I know are headed for me in the future. My "wants" could easily have destroyed me. Fortunately, God ignored my wants and focused on what I truly needed in my life.

I shudder when I look back on my life and think of all the things I have "wanted" over the years and have become very angry at God, others and myself when I have not received. I realize now that if all of my "wants" had been met, I would not be the person I am today and I certainly would not be coming into the place of strength and clarity I am slowly approaching at the moment. It has been a very hard road at times - especially recently - but the alternative, though it looks smoother and happier, would have left me in a far worse state than what I am in now.

It can be a very difficult place to be in when you look around at the lives of those around you and especially at how the world values "success" these days. It's all about having the fastest car, the biggest house, the largest salary and so on. I wanted to live a life like this and I have found it incredibly frustrating at times to be living in what appears to be a great sense of poverty while others appear to have things so much easier just because they have material wealth and high paying jobs. It can seem like it's a waste of time being where you are. But let me ask you this - how many of those people use their possessions to compensate for a lack of emotional strength and character in their lives, and would be reduced to nothing if they lost everything they had "wanted"? That's a very shallow way to live life and a very unstable foundation to base everything on.

When push comes to shove, you see what you're made of. And although it's hard, I am being strengthened in the core of my inner man. So when push inevitably comes to shove in my future, I will be stronger than ever when it comes to dealing with it, because of this time I am going through at the moment where my "wants" have been put aside by God because He cares enough to give me what I truly need.

Take care.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Facing the unknown

What separates a strong, confident and able person from a weak, timid and fearful one? What is possibly the most frightening and subsequently challenging position we can find ourselves in as human beings? For the other blokes out there - what is the difference between being a boy and being a man?

I believe it all comes down to this - how we deal with the unknown factors in our lives - either in our external circumstances or buried deep within our own hearts.

Knowledge is power. This statement is very true. There is safety, strength and confidence in knowledge. However, knowledge can also be a cover up for some of the deepest character flaws we experience as human beings. For example - there can be people who are deeply afraid of confrontation of any kind, however when it comes to scolding their children or someone they perceive to be weaker than themselves, they have no problem initiating the confrontation whatsoever and sometimes even revel in it. Simply put - they are using their knowledge that their children are weaker than them and dependent on them to get an emotional release as well as cover up their need to face that part of themselves they wish to avoid.

Facing the truly unknown can be terrifying, to say the least. The most important thing about the unknown of any sort is not so much what we expect to face out there in the darkness where the light of knowledge does not yet shine - but what we will face within ourselves when exposed to unknown circumstances that have the potential to frighten us.

We are not encouraged to go deep within ourselves when it comes to facing circumstances we already know and understand. Facing the truly unknown takes away all of our shallow sense of emotional security and strips us right back to the very core of who we are as people and forces us to ask ourselves - do I believe in myself? Do I trust myself - and God - that I can boldly walk into the darkness and face and overcome what I find there? Do I have enough self belief and self confidence to be able to boldly tread where I have never tread before, relying on nothing but my own ability to face what I find out there? Do I believe that I can turn the unknown into the known and that I can be strong and insistent enough to be able to not give up on making this happen and run back to the already lit areas of my life, where it's safe?

The unknown is a breeding ground for fear, as it is knowledge that nips fear in the bud and stops it in its tracks. When we intentionally walk into the unknown, often our deepest fears begin to arise from the deepest core of our being. However we are not able to crush them with knowledge as we are walking into a dark and unknown environment where we have nothing to rely on except our own strength and confidence. Though this is a frightening place to be, it can also be one of the most enlightening and healing places to be - if we face it the right way.

When our deepest fears arise due to unknown circumstances, we cannot run away from them as more often than not, God has orchestrated what we are facing in our circumstances in order to get us to face the truth about ourselves. Every fear is like a weed that grows up inside of us - we can cut the top off it, but it will just keep on growing back. It needs to be pulled out at the root in order to rid ourselves of it completely and replace that fear with peace. The root of the fear is what hurts the most to feel our way into - but it is a necessary part of healing it if we want to walk free of it.

I still struggle with facing the unknown as I still find it difficult to have faith in myself to overcome anything I might find out there and actually trust that I have the strength and capacity to deal with anything - even if I don't know what it is yet. I am not there yet. But I am facing the unknown circumstances in my life at the moment with far more peace and faith in God and myself than ever before and that is due to pulling the fears out at the roots that previous unknown experiences have brought me into. It is hard work. But I am getting there. I am beginning to learn what it means to be a man - facing the unknown with an attitude of "bring it on, I'll stare you down, I can overcome anything" rather than running from it timidly.

It is necessary for us to learn to face the darkness both externally and within ourselves as if we just shrink back in fear all of the time, we are cutting ourselves off from what could be some of the greatest experiences we could ever have, and receiving some amazing gifts God and other people have to give us - if we could only get over our fear of the unknown and step out into it anyway.

It is a process to overcome. And it takes times. And at times, it hurts like blazes. But it is working. I am more grateful for unknown circumstances than ever before as they are helping me to get to know someone I need to know more than anyone in the world - myself.

I hope this speaks to someone out there. Take care and God bless.