Some days it’s hard to find a solid place to stand. Winds of change and trouble blow through my life, shifting and moving even the most reliable of shelters. Relationships grow, change, wither, break. We grow and diminish and hopefully grow again in the esteem of our children. Close friends become acquaintances. Sometimes, families fracture. The landscape of my life is constantly under construction. New things erupt, old structures collapse, and I must navigate this changing landscape.
In the face of these changes, I need to find a place to set my feet. To own my footing and know who and what I am, what I believe, and what matters most to me. Too often, I’ve connected my stability to things that shake and move. I’ve found shelter in relationships and people who made me feel important, in my status and connections, and my accomplishments. I’ve defined myself by my job, my ministry, my marital status, and my ability to produce (and raise) offspring. Over the course of decades, I’ve found that though I might find shelter in these structures when the winds of change and trouble come, they fall down like houses made of straw.
In this stage of my life, I am committed to anchoring deep and standing my ground. This commitment requires some new thinking on my part.
I must know where I begin and where I end. Too often I absorb responsibility that I do not have the authority to manage. When I take on responsibilities for other people’s feelings, rather than allowing others the privilege of managing their own, I am stepping into turbulent spaces. When I shift and change in order to fit into a box that makes others more comfortable, I am violating the laws of my nature and good sense. When I relinquish my responsibility to take care of my own emotions, body, or soul because I am too busy taking care of others, I am on dangerous ground. For me, these truths have not come from a textbook but from the bare knuckle brawl of life. Honoring these lessons, and applying them well takes hard work.
I must take the time to understand and decide what I believe. When winds of trouble blow through my life, I can get swept up in the drama. The immediate need often consumes my focus and I lose sight of the chance to reconsider and imagine how change might reshape my life. Strong people can have the same effect on me. I can get swept up in the wake of their lives, losing sight of my own values and anchors. In order to combat these weaknesses, I need lots of time to think, for me that is often done on paper. Here, I process my emotions, sort out my priorities, and listen for a still small voice that leads me forward.
I must tell the truth to myself and others. As a card carrying people pleaser, I almost always know what people want to hear. How to calm them, avoid the conflict, and smooth over the challenges long enough to get out of the way. This rarely serves me well. In my effort to keep a calm facade, I relinquish the chance to make some peace. Sometimes the most loving thing I can do is look someone in the eye and tell them to stop. It takes all I have to stand and resist, to hold a line, to speak the truth and let the cards fall where they may.
For me, each of these principles represents a decision to acknowledge and accept responsibility for myself. To own my own power. My goal is not to wield that power with impunity but to protect, preserve, and promote peace in my life and in the lives of those I influence. Not that I have this all down. Mostly, I have learned that these things matter. Daily difficulty and trouble teach me how to apply these principles to my life. As I walk out my own path, I find that moments of overwhelming emotion often stem from a lack of grounding in these principles. I seem to aways be looking for a solid place to stand.
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