~ Or Life as Toni ~
Just recently I started a little series of writings that I titled “Silly Scribbles” or “Life as Toni”. I began posting them on a private writing club that I joined. I received such positive feedback I decided to be be brave and share with my Maid Arise readers.
So often the writer in me throbs and insists, but my current work in progress is strictly grammatical at this point and my creative juices feel cramped and unjustly squelched. So I have decided to allow these juices passage and wait to see what comes of it. I decided to share my experiences with you. Sometimes my life can be quite humorous to the point of disbelief which I have come to accept as normal.... or sometimes I learn new things about myself or little lessons God teaches through the inevitable we've fondly labeled “life”. I hope that these shared stories and bearings of the soul are somehow a blessing, or in the least, a few minutes of entertainment.
An Open Door with Confidence
I froze mid step and stopped breathing. Yes, there it was again, the distant rumble of a vehicle. Fear rushed over me like a thousand biting needle points and my heartbeat raced away with my reason. I couldn't stand there just gripping my pathetic little pepper spray and wait for it. Springing like a deer I fled into the dense tree line that followed our dirt road. Crashing through brush and anything that stood in my way I ran to a little indent in the earth under a large tree and stopped to listen once more, like hunted prey. The forest stood silent except for my heavy breathing. The rain ladened pine slowly dripped on my face. I was shaking. And I felt like an idiot – no one was coming. It was all my imagination.
I had taken every rebuke. The just and unjust. I was told I was inefficient. Told I lacked confidence. Told I was inept. I was lectured, ridiculed, and belittled. Every day I cried out to the Lord for peace and joy and comfort. It would come, but only to be swept away every time I went to work. And now she stood there, her blue eyes piercing into my soul, knowing she had just offered the ultimatum. Would I consent to her conditions or not? If I did, I would be making a huge sacrifice, and disobeying my authorities. She knew that. But then to refuse meant I would lose my job, and worse, a friend. I had to decide, but fear pierced my heart and hung like a led weight.
These are paragraphs of real incidents of my life. Snippets that describe and define me. I guess you could say I have lived in insecurity for a long time. Something taught me by my experiences. And yet insecurity isn't a cause, but a result. Actually, I haven't lived with insecurity, but have lived without confidence. Without confidence I am left insecure and exposed for fear.
Before any negative experiences happened I already was a timid person. Nothing my parents ever said or did has given me any right to believe that I was less than anyone else. But for some reason I have grown up thinking that I was just below average. And if anyone thought otherwise it was because, somehow or other, I had fooled them. They really didn't know me. If they had seen me struggle over that math problem. Or had seen how long it took me to master the concept in piano. Or watched over my shoulder while I wrote in illegible cursive. The very same math problem my little brother could figure out in a cinch. Or the piano concept that my brother (who didn't take lessons) could conquer effortlessly. Or the same cursive alphabet that my sibling received compliments from my Grandmother for. I knew I could kind of keep up, and for the most part, if no-one watched too closely, I'd kind of mesh in the crowd and my inadequacy would be overlooked.
I tucked that mindset under my arm and set off to accomplish life. And in life I was hunted down and accused and rejected. Unfortunately I gave into my fear. I believed them. Every new door of opportunity was now opened with anxiety. Every expectation of me was something I dreaded messing up. Every employer was someone to be feared. It climaxed after losing my job as caregiver. My little boy I had so dutifully and faithfully guarded was taken away from me as a punishment for something that wasn't my fault. But I was told it was my fault.
After this I would have nightmares. Sometimes they would seem quite unrelated, but looking back I realize it was rejection and fear eating away at me. I lived without confidence. Until a few days ago.
Losing my job happened last Autumn. So my healing has probably been in little steps since then. But it was just a few days ago that I embraced who Jesus has created me to be. I can't even convey to you the simple radiant beauty in this freedom. I have refused to hold onto other's judgments of myself. Jesus gave me Isaiah 30:15 “In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength...” I claimed it. And applied it practically.
In little day to day problems I tried it. I decided to look at my problem confidently, cheerfully, quietly. And it melted away. I could think clearly and the negative emotion disappeared.
So I tried it in “big” problems. This Monday was my first official day of work. I had gone in last week to get acquainted with the overall process of the secretarial motions of Aspen Wellspring (a natural Health clinic). Every time my employer showed me something or spoke to me gently I was overwhelmed with relief. She wasn't upset with me. She didn't find me inefficient.
Now it was my official day. It started off with several extra feet of snow. After an hour and a half of shoveling out the car to no avail, my brother offered to drive me to town in the beat-up truck. The one at the end of our long quarter mile unplowed drive way. And the one without fuel I might add. So after trudging to the pick up we find that the road is hardly navigable. Our neighbor with the plow is doing her best, but as she passes us she leaves behind her a daunting trail with two narrow ruts. Half way down the mountain we get stuck. We had left 45 minutes earlier than we had to, but it took us at least 30 minutes to get unstuck. Normally this would have gotten me quite anxious. What would my boss say? I was sure to be late. But instead I calmly, quietly took my problem with confidence. I knew the Lord knew, and I would do my best with what He allowed.
That's when we ran out of gas. Yep. Three and a half miles from town. Right in the middle of the one lane trail. So Chris pushed the back while I pushed the front and steered. As soon as it would get going down the hill, I would jump in the seat and slam the door shut and Chris would jump in the bed. It would pick up speed for a little ways and then stop. We did this a little ways until we ran out of hill. After that, it wouldn't budge. So down the icy mountain we jogged to town. Normally this would have been my limit. I would be overcome with negative emotions and drained. But I was actually laughing. It was raining, our shoes were soaked and Chris had hurt his knee. He looked over at me as I gingerly jogged alongside him in the ice and he reassuringly declared, “You know, if you fall down on this ice I'm going to laugh my head off!” Huttoesque humor at it's best. When everything falls apart you either laugh or cry. And for the first time in a long time... I was laughing. Confidence.
Since then I've been faced with multiple circumstances that should have left me quaking. But every time there He is, holding my hand and with quietness and confidence I find my strength.
After applying it to my daily lifestyle I finally took my great emotional insecurity by the horns and faced it. What caused me to fear and lack confidence? Some of it stemmed from being chased down by men not so long ago. That really had shaken me and left me afraid to jog or even use public restrooms. But I had conquered this fear with some basic training. It only haunted me now and then.
But I stopped to think when I had started having nightmares and insecurities and being afraid of what others thought. And I pinpointed it's climax. It was when I lost my job last year. It hurt to lose my little boy, but the heaping of untrue perceptions on my head was something I couldn't cope with. It drained me and squeezed my “comfort zone” into a small sphere. I was told I was socially awkward and lacked capability and now everything looked complex and I felt inadequate in everything.
I have to pause to say that I don't believe this was my employers intention. I don't think she lay awake at night planning my emotional destruction. But she allowed her flesh to dictate her attitude and tongue and took it out on the closest defenseless person around. And that happened to be me. Nothing personal. :) But it was my choice to hold onto it. My choice to allow it to dictate my dreams and security and relationships and actions. She was right in one thing: I lacked confidence.
How silly to hold onto other people's garbage! And I have found the key to dumping it! In quietness and confidence I find the strength to cheerfully let go. It's not even taking one day at a time but each new emotion, which can be moment by moment.
My dad just recently left for North Dakota to work a 30 day shift, with 10 days off. I can't even explain how this shakes my world upside down. But this time I tried Jesus' promise. I quietly accepted it, and confidently embraced it. It works! I don't dread anything anymore. Life's problems are God-given circumstances that I can quietly accept and confidently embrace.
This life-long struggle has held me back from blossoming into the person Jesus has wanted me (made me) to be. No Father desires His child to cower and tremble in insecurities. It had gotten out of control. I started feeling inadequate in the things I've previously conquered, not just in new things. Now I can open every door of opportunity wide and confidently step in with a smile on my face.
Thinking highly of yourself can be taken to unhealthy extremes, but it is just as detrimental to think that extremely low of yourself. It's life altering, emotionally and physically. You can probably think of people you know who live like this. I wish I could tell them how beautiful and strong and comforting confidence is. True confidence. And this is found in the Vine. In the all-powerful One who calls me Beloved. In Him is true confidence. He makes it possible to quietly accept anything because anything can be accepted if you believe your life is orchestrated by a Lover who looks to your best interest. With that knowledge tucked under your arm you can be sure to take on Life with confidence.
For the first time in over a year I prayed for my “x” employer. And for my sweet boy. Up until now my insecurity was a sore bereavement on my soul. I even lacked the confidence to talk much about him. But now I can think about him and talk about him, and pray for him and it doesn't hurt. No guilt or fear is associated with him anymore. He is my dear baby again.
I now can shut that door, quietly with peace. It was slammed in my face, but I had never found closure. Now it's done and I'm faced with other doors. I've grabbed the knob. I'm going to swing wide and jump in. Who knows what lays before me? But with Jesus I'm going in with confidence.
Silly Scribble#4 "Starless"
Silly Scribble#4 "Starless"