Opening Up The Wounds

I have been putting off this post for a VERY long time. And the original reason it started bothering me infuriates me even more but I really can’t get into that very much. So if it seems like some of this post is a little disconnected….well, it will be.

I have continued to ignore it but I think I’m just gonna feel better if I just say it and get it out of my head so I can move on. Who knows – I may type it all and end up not even posting it. A lot of people will be happy about that one.

About 18 months ago – after 3 years of being on Facebook – I suddenly disappeared. I was gone for a year. If you know anything about me at all you know that I am a transparent person. I deal with invisible illnesses but I feel my ministry is to bring them to the light to provide support and information for education. I live with Chronic Depression and Fibromyalgia. Those conditions may be easy for some people to hide but they aren’t for everyone. That comes into play in the reason for a lot of what I share in the realm of social media. Am I TOO open? Maybe for some people. Should that be MY problem? NO! I am ME! If you don’t like what I do or say – that is not my problem. It really doesn’t have to be ANYONE’S problem. A better explanation is that it’s probably just none of your business if it bothers you. I don’t make your business MY business so please grant me the same courtesy.

There are people in my life who have personalities completely different than mine who would prefer I wasn’t so transparent but they have graciously not expected me to abide according to their personality. I really can’t explain how much I appreciate that. I am a stay at home mom. I started out being a SAHM because it was the right thing for our family. However, since becoming ill, it has become a necessity because of my medical problems. So the online world has become, for the most part, my only contact or influence with the outside world. It has not been an easy transition. But I have now settled into a routine with it. I have this blog (which is a place I can, for the most part, be open and honest). I have Twitter. I HAD Facebook. That’s when the problem began.

Someone stepped up and voiced to those around me that THEY thought I was TOO OPEN on Facebook. This person (who has NEVER had a FB) told me, to my face, that they have looked at my Facebook and “it seems to all be all about you”. Honestly, my blood pressure went through the roof, my chin hit the floor and I was speechless (for a few seconds). EXCUSE ME? THAT’S WHAT FACEBOOK IS!!!!! It’s MY profile with MY information with MY thoughts with MY likes/dislikes. I’m not sure where this person, who had never had a FB got off telling ME how to run my FB profile! And 18 months later I, honestly, still don’t get it. I was infuriated. I don’t think I have ever been madder in my life. And the pace of my heartbeat right now tells me that it still really makes me mad. So, to keep the peace, I deactivated my account. Some of you may know when that happened and I disappeared.

I took a year to rethink the entire thing. I refocused some of my priorities. I spent some time away from social media. It was hard in the beginning. Then I began feeling like it was time to go back. I really missed the contact I had with people thru my accounts. I missed the ministry I had. I realized I needed that outlet in my walk thru my illness and the seclusion it brings. So, I stripped down my friends list to a group of people I knew I could trust to not judge me. In actuality if you search for me you won’t even be able to find me. I have certain accounts blocked from spying eyes who look for opportunities to find fault.. I find myself thinking twice before saying things, which is probably a good idea. I have just maintained more control over those who I let into my circle. I do confirm some people who send me friend requests. However, 90% of the people who send me a request I do not confirm. It may not be because of them personally but because of who I might find myself opened up to by “being their friend” on FB.

So I suppose that person did me a favor in a round about way. And I suppose I still have a lot of anger toward them – which I need to deal with. My relationship with them will never be what it was before. But I think this confrontation did teach me to be even less judgmental than I was before. I’ve never thought of myself as being a judgmental person because I don’t like to be judged. I’ve become more sensitive to it in other people – especially those around me. I snap my mouth shut a lot more. And believe it or not I am not easily offended. I kind of think this situation was an exception to that because I believe it was MEANT to be offensive. I must say I find myself even more guarded about what I say and share. I suppose that’s not a bad thing. I’m struggling with finding the balance between being transparent and over sharing. I’ve learned a number of lessons thru this experience. I know some people have wondered about why I’ve not friended them or let them in. Who knows – I may in time. But right now I’m a little tentative. And I’m still very raw. My spirit is bruised. My heart is wounded but healing over.

Well, thank you for reading if you made it this far. I expect some  hand slapping in the comments. But I hope you’ll understand if your comment doesn’t get approved. Sometimes a person just needs to protect themselves. Thank you for your patience with me.

Are You Really YOU or Are You Who THEY Want You To Be?

Are you truly YOU? Do you have anyplace that you can really be who you are? Or have you been “faking” you for so long that you aren’t really sure who YOU are? Do any of us really know who we are? Have you discovered your true identity? Are you hiding who that is in order to please other people?

As you can see I’ve been doing some deep thinking while I’ve been quiet the last couple of weeks. I’m not even sure I could answer any of the questions I asked you above. I’m not sure I’ve ever really explored who I am. I feel like I’ve always had to live a life being who everyone else wanted me to be. When I was little I grew up in the home of a minister who was well known in our denominational state ministry. I remember being told one time “remember whose daughter you are” before going on a church trip. At church I was Mike Stokes’ daughter. My mother worked at my school when I was in elementary school. So, there I was Mrs. Stokes’ daughter. Then when Ron and I got married and started pastoring I was always the Pastor’s Wife. For the last 17 years I’ve been MIchael and Lauren’s Mom. Now my husband is a director in one of our denominational departments so I am the Director’s Wife.

I’m 44 years old but have somehow reached this far into my life without really knowing who PAM is..inside! You know? Above all things I am a Christian so I am a Daughter of the King. But somehow along the way that title has fallen down on the list below all of those other titles. I think that’s who I’m working at discovering now. That’s who I’ve been truly trying to find a slot for in the hierarchy of who I am. That really is the title above all titles. And you know what – that should be the most important one. We should all want to be known as being a Child of the King. But somehow we put more stock into being what people around us expect us to be. I suppose we assume that because we are a Christian then God will understand that we have to please everyone around us. I mean that’s how the world works. We try to live up to everyone else’s expectations of who we are so much that we lose sight of who God wants us to be. And when we search for our identity apart from our Creator then we lose sight of our real self.

As I look back on my life at this point I see 40 years of trying to be what everyone else wanted me to be – always trying to prove I was good enough to carry those titles – when in actuality here I sit 40 years later even more confused and STILL searching for the real me. I’m learning that the real me is not the one I see in the mirror or the one reflected in the eyes of other people around me. The real me is who I see when I open the Bible. Do I see the reflection of Christ? Do others see the reflection of Christ?

**Gonna link this up at Shell’s place for Pour Your Heart Out Wednesday. Come join us.

All I See Is Two Black Holes

I’m worried! Ok I’m more than worried – I’m scare to death! God is really doing a number of my faith ability. I know in my heart that I need to just let go and stop letting it consume me. God has seen us through so much in the last 24 years. I know in my logical mind that He will see us through this and provide for our every need. I HATE worry! It’s completely useless. It serves no positive purpose. Most of the time I able NOT to worry. Most of the time I am able to trust God. But the one area I’m having a hard time doing that in is COLLEGE. The numbers don’t add up. I think I’m most concerned about it because we had a plan. We had it all figured out. And our plan has fallen through. The plan was for me to go back to work about now and work through college using my income to pay for two college tuitions at once for four years. Well, fibro has negated that plan. Right now when I look ahead I can see my kids enjoying their senior year of high school. I can see them walking the stage and graduating. But when I get to the part where they move into their college dorms all I see are two black holes. I just don’t see how that is gonna happen.

So when thinking about what to share for Pour Your Heart Out Wednesday this week it seemed obvious that the only thing to pour our is my worry and fear about how we are ever gonna come up with the money to pay for EIGHT years of college in FOUR years. How does that happen? It makes no sense to me. I know from past experience that God is gonna take care of it. I know that He doesn’t see two big black holes. I know He sees the college bills stamped PAID IN FULL. But all I see in my heart is PAST DUE! He has NEVER (and I do mean NEVER) let us down. He’s never let any of the four of us down. We have battled along and stuck together and come out holding hands on the other side. But this time I feel like a failure. I feel like this is all my fault because I can’t do my part. I can’t hold up my end of the bargain. I feel like I am holding us back because my part of the plan flopped. That’s what I feel in my heart. My heart feels bruised and broken. My heart feels like the black hole because that’s what worry does to you. I’ve never felt this unsure about the future. What a huge lesson God is trying to teach me! Will I pass it or will I fail?

An Inspiring Teacher Is A Gift

Yesterday I was watching The Talk when a topic came up on the show and in the Tweet Chat about a teacher who made a difference in your life. I have had several great teachers. But as I’m sure is true with you there is a small handful of those who touched your life in such a way that the imprint on your heart is still there. I’m choosing to share this today as my Pour Your Heart Out entry because of that reason. (Come over and share yours too.) School is tough no matter how you look at it. It stretches your mind, your spirit and your self-confidence nearly all the time. Some teachers, for whatever reasons, cause the opposite effect. But certain others provide you with the confidence you need to learn not only THAT material but inspire you to learn for the rest of your life.

One particular teacher fits into that last category for me. I went to a small Christian school, Springfield Christian School in Springfield Ohio, for junior high and half of high school. While in 10th grade Algebra we had a wonderful teacher named Mrs. Jutton. She truly loved math. That is beyond my understanding – that she could LOVE math and, well, the math too. But you could tell she loved it. She had that tone in her voice that she was doing something she loved. It’s rare to find teachers who truly LOVE the subject they are teaching. These days so many teachers have to teach more subjects than they certified for because of the lack of funding. But you can tell which teachers are there because teaching is their passion and which ones are there because a paycheck is their passion. Mrs. Jutton was there because teaching math was her passion. And WE were her passion. She loved all of us. It came across in way INSIDE the classroom and OUTSIDE the classroom. She loved her job. She loved her subject and she loved her students. If anyone had a personal problem they went to Mrs. Jutton’s room. She would let you cry. She’d give you advice. She’d pray with you. Then she’d send you on your way with a hug.

The day I’m gonna tell you about will be no surprise to you after what you just read. Because this was in the early 80’s there was no such thing as “teaching to the test” as far as I know. Teacher’s could take their time with their classes and not have to rush through the year to make sure that everyone got all the information on the end of the year standardized tests. Teachers could actually spend a few days on one particular lesson until everyone in the class understood it before going on to the next lesson. (I could jump up on my soapbox here very easily but I will try to hold back.) Making sure that each of the students understand the material is much more important than meeting the expectations of the School Board to produce students who can score high on those standardized tests at the end of the school year so they can get more money. But somewhere between 1980 and 2001 the public school systems have lost sight of that. That has resulted in students graduating but not really understanding much of what they have “learned” in the previous 13 years. The almighty dollar has replaced the whole idea of producing children who are knowledgeable about the world and how it works and who are sufficiently prepared to enter college and begin lifelong careers.

If you walked by any of Mrs. Jutton’s math classes you would see a room full of students with frustrated looks on their faces. But if you look at Mrs. Jutton you would have seen a patient and gentle spirit. She would take as long as was necessary for every person in class to fully understand the material before she would move on. She had a phrase that she would often use that was quite fitting for teaching math. When she could see that we were getting frustrated and upset she would say “Keep the faith”.  She never seemed to be frustrated. She always had a smile on her face. And she always encouraged us to hang in there and keep the faith. I remember a lot of times spending 3 days on the same lesson. Then when we would all understand it she would be as happy for us as we were. She never minded going back and repeating a lesson if we stumbled on something after moving on.

I’m not sure where Mrs. Jutton is today. But I hope and pray that she is still teaching although I would imagine she is one of those teachers who are not happy about the whole “teaching to the test” philosophy of education today. How wonderful would it be to have teachers like her in every classroom in America? I wonder how that would affect the caliber of graduates who enter the “real” world each May. Keep the faith – I’m sure there are a few Mrs. Jutton’s still out there somewhere in the system. And their students are blessed indeed!