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Seeds of Joy

Positively Speaking

The exercises where one writes personal bits of one’s history on paper and burns them wasn’t appropriate. I had a lovely new life and was struggling with where to put the pieces of my old life. I’d raised four kids, been married for twenty three years, spent fifteen years preparing for the pastorate, and three years actually pastoring, with little if anything to show for it, or so I thought.

“I LOVE my past! I LOVED being a daughter! I LOVED being a wife. I LOVED being a mother. I LOVED being a pastor. I just happened to choose people who weren’t interested in being loved by me. What do I do with a past like THAT?” I queried emphatically. It was a relief to speak of my embarrassment that I had been too naive, and too undiscerning to realize I was throwing away my efforts on people who were either capable of only dependency based relationships  (the kind where people just use each other), or weren’t interested in being loved by me.

My learning curve had not been on how to become loving and kind. That, gratefully, is pretty much my natural inclination. My challenge was to discern, who was receptive to love and kindness and who was just looking to other people to fill a big vacuous hole in their soul. Since my mother had bi polar, and I had been trained not to see ‘it’, I had a huge handicap going into relationships. Throw in my desire for everyone in the world to be whole and healthy and whew!  There’s a phrase that says, ‘Don’t throw pearls before swine.” Not to malign pigs, who I think, along with cows, are wonderful creatures, but I not only threw pearls, but diamonds, and rubies, and my last pair of shoes and socks and shirt!  I always saw people through God’s eyes, which is great if your God, and actually stupid if you’re a person. Fortunately, my saving grace was a void in the ‘need to be needed’ category. I am the worst co dependent ever. So if you are lying to me or using me, the minute I figure it out, I call you on it and expose it for what it is. That learning curve, the fall out from that,  is another story.

The perspective such a past had given me was that it had been fruitless. All my best efforts had counted for nothing. I wasn’t going to burn it up. That would make it too dead and not represent my feelings at all. If any one of those people came and said they were sorry and interested in reconciliation, I would have been there for them in a heartbeat.  The driving force in my life is reconciliation. Big dilemma, from where I stood. Try it. If you’ve wronged me, come apologize and be pleasantly surprised to be welcomed back into my life.

The leader of our group of women writer entrepreneurs had a delightful response. Each week we presented our obstacles and she, wisely, designed homework to move past the obstacles sitting between us and a more actualized future.

“Can you get some biodegradable paper?”
“I’m from Vashon” I laughed. “Yes, I think I can.”
“Do you garden?” she continued.
“I do houseplants.” I replied.
“I want you to take the paper and write down everything you are thankful for about your past. Then I want you to get some new, fresh, pretty plants and push the paper into the soil. Everything good in your present life has come from something you loved in your past.”

Ohmygoodness! My heart leapt! My soul burst forth. My Spirit flew free! Yes! Yes! YES! That was it! That was the ritual I was looking for.

Googling ‘biodegradable paper’ yielded a place on Etsy that sold heart shaped, seed embedded, biodegradable confetti for weddings.  Perfect!

The gratitude list grew as the little hearts winged their way from Portugal. I was so excited. Meaning to a past that I had written off as useless and the end of self criticism for being too stupid to protect myself.

A chance to celebrate the fact that despite my choices, I still loved what I’d done as a daughter, I was still very satisfied with the kind of wife I’d been and loved men instead of dismissing them as hurtful. I still loved children and defined motherhood as a precious gift and loved all four of my children unconditionally. I still had my faith and loved and participated in the church despite seeing the worst moral corruption and usury of power and privilege that can occur.
Indeed, my love for the giving of love had saved me. I love loving. I love caring. I love being there for others and helping them find their highest and best.  Everything I loved from the past has made the present sparkly and bright and full of wide open doors of opportunity and joy.  To quote Disney, my past is in my behind, but my today is full of happiness because I loved what I did in the past. Try as my enemies could to twist love into something untoward and lie about my character, they were unsuccessful. At the height of it all, one executive said to me, “You just keep being you and your integrity will come shining through”. Sure enough, it not only did, but I have been offered major platforms in which I can encourage others to rise above the people and events and relationships that would drag them down.

A couple of weeks from now, those seeds will sprout and I will have a lovely bed of flowers. For a while, the houseplants will look silly with random wildflowers growing around their edges, but the soil of my new plants will be enriched as those plants decay and provide new nutrients.

Springtime is the perfect time to mulch my past into my present. Sometimes life rituals are utterly complete. I will write that on a paper heart now.