turn away from the past

When one door closes, another opens;
but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that
we do not see the one that has opened for us.
– Alexander Graham Bell

I have heard this adage all of my life – when one door closes, another one opens – or an alternative – when God closes a door, He opens a window. I have heard it said from friends, relatives, and characters on television shows. But do I really believe it? Do we, as humans, believe it? I like think so, with a large number of us optimists, or at least hopeful for the future. But I have never heard the rest of the quote by Mr. Bell. And that second part is far more powerful and meaningful than the over-used adage.

We all spend too much time looking back – we look back in regret, in longing for times gone by, in feeling the pain from long-ago wounds, and in the joy that once was ours. Looking back is good – it always pays to see where we’ve come from. The danger is in looking too long, so long that we forget to live for the future or even today. The danger is in looking so longingly at that closed door, as Mr. Bell tells us, that we forget the future.

Of course I have to interject with a Harry Potter reference (for those of you who don’t know, both the Harry Potter books and the movies are extreme favorites of mine and have been read and seen by me multiple times) – in the first book/movie, Harry discovers the Mirror of Erised and he finds he is drawn by its power to show him what he most desires. He spends much of his spare time in front of it, so much so that Dumbledore tells him that it will be moved somewhere else in the castle and not to go looking for it. “This mirror gives us neither wisdom nor truth…” I bring this up because like Harry, we can spend too much time gazing into the past hoping for a different outcome of the now.

The only way to keep from wasting away in front of the Mirror is to purposely turn our face/mind/heart away and set it toward the now and the future because that is where life is and where life is going. Few, if any of us, have a Dumbledore character in our lives; but we do have God and if we chose to reach out to Him, He will reach back and bring us gently along the path of our choosing, using every opportunity to bring us closer to Himself.

Turn away, but turn wisely.

Turn away, and turn with regrets washed away in understanding and love.

Turn away, but turn toward the now and the future.

Turn away, remembering the Love that sustains you Always.

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a step forward in faith

The Lord is not obtuse. He does not try to be difficult.
The problem may lie with us, with our earthbound inability
to see trouble from the viewpoint of eternity as God sees it.
Eugenia Price, No Pat Answers

So I have been fighting this internal battle of wills over the last few months and over the last couple of weeks the fighting has become more intense. There are some things I need to change in my life that need to be changed and God has called me to make those changes months ago but I have been stubbornly hanging on to them because of the physical me doesn’t want – refuses – to give in to the spiritual me. And up until this day the physical side was winning the battle.

What has made the difference – maybe the difference in which me wins this particular battle – is something that occurred to me as I was reading my morning devotional – that I have been focusing on the negatives of what these changes would be. 

That’s it – that’s all I got for now. But it is a start. I grow weary of this battle. It has been a long one and I have lately been praying for some relief. I have prayed that God would speak to me through someone or something  – that I might gain insight into how to end this particular battle (the battle between the physical and spiritual me is eternal and never ending until I go Home).

There are different ways to handle this – I could make a positive/negative list. But I am not good at lists; for me they are tedious and boring (for my mom they work wonders). Probably the thing for me is to do what I do best – and that is to ponder. Mull things over. Think on things for a while. And while doing that make a conscious effort to keep those negatives away.

So while I am thinking about taking a step forward in faith and when a negative excuse or reason comes up, I need to consciously make an effort to replace that negative thought/reason/excuse with a positive thought/reason/excuse. It may be hard to come up with something positive in the beginning, so I may have to repeat the same things over and over again until I get the hang of it and actually win this battle.

When I was in therapy eons ago I had a similar battle – this was one where I was holding on to my hurt and pain like a badge of honor and it was effecting every part of my life (and I mean every part). My therapist (God bless her wherever she is – she saved my life) continually and gently encouraged me to release the anger and with it the emotional depression that accompanied it. I struggled with this for a very long time and it came down to this: who would I be without my hurt, pain and anger? If I gave it up would I still be able to create art? Would I still be able to write? Who would I be?

Eventually she convinced me to convince myself that I would be okay if I gave the pain up. And I did – I don’t remember actually how – but I do remember the first days after releasing that anger and pain – my head felt lighter. I literally felt as if a heavy weight had been removed from my heart. For the first time in my adult life I felt alive.

And guess what? It did change me. I stopped writing and creating art. I stopped creating angry and painful art. I stopped writing about death and destruction. The empty space I felt in my brain was replaced with life and beauty and peace. I started writing and creating art filled with life and hope and promise.

Of course my life isn’t always sunshine and flowers. In fact, it is mostly cloudy, rainy days. But that’s okay. Because underneath the clinical/chemical depression I suffer from and the aftermath of pain and hurt I deal with on a continual basis is a foundation of faith and hope and love. I didn’t have that before I let go of the anger and hurt and pain. And I need to remind myself of that often – that I have let go of the anger and pain – and stop carrying it around with me like an old purse I hate to get rid of.

Back to the battle – I’ll see how this new insight goes…

 

“David and Goliath” by John August Swanson

validation of my creativity

Yesterday we were, and today we are!
–Kahil Gibran, The Sons of Goddess and the Sons of the Monkeys

Time can be a terrible taskmaster if we allow it to be. Looking to the past is not always good and for some people, like me, it is not only terrifying but filled with opportunity. If I can get past the hurt and pain, no – not past it, but through it, then I can learn from it, heal from it and let it go.

I don’t have too many memories as a child; unfortunately I have blocked out the good with the bad. It would be nice to remember the good without dealing with the bad but that’s not the way my spiritual journey works. Being a fatalist I tend to think that if I unlock one good memory a whole cavalcade of bad ones will come tumbling out of the closet. But maybe that’s not the way it is. Maybe if I unlock a single bad memory then a lot of the good ones will surface. But I remain loathe to unlock the bad. It is this thing about the pain…

Anyway, I had a thought this morning about validation. I was wishing (and praying) that my little books I write and illustrate could get published to a larger audience – other than my immediate family. (I do publish them on a different blog but that is different than having an actual physical book in someone’s hands. I guess I’m old-fashioned. My sister says I should e-publish to readers through Amazon but I am still coming around to that idea. But I digress.)

Then I started thinking about it in a little more detail. Why do I need to see them published to the public at large? Isn’t writing them enough? I would write and illustrate even if I had no audience. It is a pure creative outlet for me, satisfies my need for artistic gratification both in writing and drawing. Somewhere, mixed up in my head, is a desperate need for validation.

My mom has always been my number one fan. She has always validated my creativity in whatever form it took. But I never received validation or support from my father. It doesn’t matter why. (Or does it?) He never validated anything or anyone other than what he did or he liked. So why does it matter to me so much?

Why is this such a stumbling block for me? Isn’t my mother’s love enough? Why did getting positive attention from a non-loving father mean so much to me?
I am sure there is some psychological reason for it. But I don’t care about the psychology. (Maybe I should.) I really want to know why this issue is such a stumbling block for me. In years past just knowing that I didn’t have the validation of my father quashed the creativity in me. And it has taken a long time and a lot of hard work to be able to be free creatively. And even after all that time, does he not sit inside my head, telling me I’m not good enough, I’ll never be good enough and being an artist is a job for losers. Oh – and you can’t make any money at it.

There has been too much of my valuable time wasted on wrestling with this particular dragon. I think I am willing to unlock the bad memory that is the root of validation desperation. If it is a single bad memory. Maybe it is more than one; maybe it is a whole childhood bad memories. Maybe I am not as willing as I thought.

God has given me a gift and it is up to me to use it to the best of my ability or it will wither and die. It is up to me as to whether I want to open the past up for a peek or keep the door firmly closed. My faith reminds me that whatever I decide – that whatever I decide – God will love me still, approve of me, support me and never leave me. If I decide to open the door to a difficult past time, I will hold onto that fact of faith, take a deep breath and walk through it. If I decide to.

 

 

Freedom to Create What I Want by Angela L. Walker