Thursday, November 20, 2014

A cup of coffee and permission to be real

This morning feels like one of those days where I wish I could sit with you over a cup of coffee.
  While I am not a big-time writer as many of my friends are, and perhaps one day I aspire to be in some fashion, I wish I had a way for each of you to know my story, and even more so, for me to know yours.
 I wish that we could sit and talk over coffee. Coffee and connecting- two of my very favorite activities to pass time, both of which I could do for hours.
  I used to be the barista behind the counter, watching all the customers come in and talk over coffee. I watched some shed tears. Others laughed hysterically. Some came and sat and held hands and sipped their lattes. And some brought books and had no need for words, just each other's presence.
 Now I have become the customer who orders a cup of coffee and sits and talks. Having a cup of coffee with my best friend is my first choice of "something to do" in those rare moments of "extra" time. Now, I get to be the one sipping my coffee, sometimes laughing, sometimes crying, sometimes just sitting with a book.

Today, I invite you to grab your coffee and pretend we are sitting together chatting.

  What is it you need to hear on a hard day? 

We all speak different languages.
  Some of us need a hug on a hard day.

     Some of us need to hear we are awesome.
          Some of us crave the approval of a supervisor or a spouse desperately.

 Others need a "snap out of it" kind of conversation, or  as one friend said it, "Quit that stinkin' thinking'"

  We are all made uniquely and what I need on a hard day is likely different from what you need. And that's okay.   What I have come to believe is that what we need most is permission to be real.
 Permission to be who we are.
 But so often, we want to put others into our own box. If we have a hard day and need a hug, we tend to want to give others a hug on a hard day, but they might need space. If we need to talk when we have a hard day, we tend to try to push others to talk, but they might want us just to sit quietly with them. If we feel a need to cry on a hard day, another person might have a desperate need to get out and laugh. We are all made uniquely, and therefore, need to be able to told it's okay to express that.

 It's  a proven fact that men are fixer -upers. If you tell them a problem, their solution is to try to find a way to fix it.  But women...women respond even differently.
 How many women have you interacted with who, when you tell them your problem, you find out later they go and whisper it to someone else?  Or some women want to try to relate so they come up with a story that is to try to say "I know exactly how you feel" only their story has nothing to do with what you're going through?
  I've been there, and then my tendency becomes to shrink away from sharing at all.

 I have come to believe that what we need most on a hard day is permission to be real, however that is expressed. And if I need that, then how much more so do others need that, too?
   I also believe that in the christian world, many women try to pretend it's all good, because  that is the behavior engrained in their minds. I was once there...
 But there is  significant power in sharing and in being real. I think we struggle to do this because that permission to be real gets lost at times.  We are supposed to have it all together, we've been told.
 Most often, my best blogs come out of my hardest days. Why? Because when I sit down and write, when I allow myself to get real, those are the moments in time God stops and uses. Why? Because we are all real people, with real problems, who need to understand others' have those real days too.
   I battle anxiety. I fight depression. I have marriage struggles  you might be surprised about. I wrestle with a middle school age daughter trying to find herself in this crazy world. I struggle with thoughts of insecurity about my image, my body. I am real. But God uses real...if we allow Him to.
  And when I allow that "real me" to be expressed, God takes it and uses it. And as He uses that,  He begins to change it little by little. The anxiety and depression become a gift, a way to relate to others (or others to relate to me) in new ways, new conversations, new friendships.  Marriage struggles become God's miracles. Parenting problems become a way for me to connect to older moms and take notes on what I can do to encourage younger moms. And those nasty insecurities about my self image? That struggle that nearly every person faces in some fashion? Sharing and getting real on those days helps me remember that it's not about size or what others say I should look like. Those moments have the potential to remind myself- and others around me- that beauty comes from within. And as that smile returns, the beauty shines through.

 Permission to be real.

 What do I need most on a hard day?
 I could tell you I need a hug or a kind word, and that would be true. I also could tell you I need a cup of coffee!! But mostly, I need permission to be real.

 What do you need most on a hard day?

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