The Bricklayer

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It takes years to build up trust, and only seconds to destroy it. – Anonymous

A bricklayer, according to Wikipedia, is a craftsman who lays bricks to construct brickwork. Building a brick wall is a process. First, the bricklayer needs to ensure they have a solid foundation to support the structure. Once they have created their foundation, they start laying the bricks from the left end of the wall, then they spread a layer of mortar on, and press the brick down. After the day’s work is completed, the bricklayer goes home, leaving the structure abandoned and exposed. Anyone is welcome to access the structure as there are no security measures in place.

The place I am in now is a place of rebuilding. I am a bricklayer only I am building trust. Love completely bulldozed the strong, impassable tower which I labored over for years and left me with a new place to build. I am building confidence in someone based on their word, their character, and their actions. I am building trust.

Rebuilding is difficult. I have doubts. The design is completely different from what I am use to. The only foundation I am familiar with is typically rocky. I am not too certain about something solid. I don’t fully believe in the process either as I am afraid of getting hurt again.

In spite of my fears, my doubts, I continue on. Care and respect is spread across and another brick is pressed down. With each brick, comes another layer, and another, and another. This process is laborious and takes time to complete. If I had it my way, this would be completed overnight. However, I am not calling the shots. I am just the bricklayer, not the foreman, and I have to leave the structure unattended until I return.

What seemed to be another successful day on site, turned into a setback. A friend, out of concern, warned me to proceed with caution. The new-found friendship that caused this rebuilding was faulty. The foundation I perceived to be built on trust, care, and respect, was actually lies and deception. What did I know of the contractor? Could he be trusted? There was something off about him.

She felt that I was caught up in the appeal of the design and had my blinders on. I could not fully see the danger ahead. Immediately, I let the doubt she planted take root. She was right after all. This was all too good to be true. What was I thinking trying to build again?

For a brief moment, I actually entertained the idea of abandoning my work and walking away altogether. The risk was too great. The wall would probably crack and fall apart anyway just as the others did in the past.

Instead of running away, I decided to consult with contractor. It was risky, but I felt the need to check his credibility, and give him a chance to deny the accusations. From our talk, I realized the truth. My friend had never seen the structure. She never paid a visit to the site and inspected the place for herself. She only heard there was rebuilding taking place. What did she know really? She did not have access to the internal structure, only what she saw on the outside.

After sorting through my emotions, I picked up the designs, surveyed the potential damage, and decided to build any way. While I appreciated the concern of my friend, I decided to pass on her warning. I was quite confident in what I was building. My foundation was solid. I was creating something beautiful and something that would last. If you don’t believe me, take a look for yourself 🙂

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A Pool of Vulnerability

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Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen. – Brené Brown

Pool season is rapidly approaching. Here in the South, pools open around Memorial weekend. The water is still too chilly to submerge yourself in for long periods of time, but warm enough to stick your feet in.

I am a lover of the sun and I love laying by the pool. My fair skin would arguably disagree as every summer season it is tortured for the sake of a sun-kissed look. It’s a high price to pay, but everyone looks better with a tan 🙂

Every Saturday and Sunday if possible, I can be found at a friend’s pool.  A good book, a good research magazine aka People, conversations with good friends, tasty refreshments, and music pumping out of an Ipod sums up a delightful weekend.

However, for the past month, I find myself sitting in a different kind of pool – a pool of vulnerability. I’m not finding the same satisfaction as I do at my friend’s pool either. My mind endures the same type of torture as my poor pale skin does when it is first introduced to the sun. I don’t like it. It burns. As one author described it, “It feels like I am coming out of my skin.” I absolutely agree.

As I sit in this pool of vulnerability, of course I have a book to read. I cannot go at this alone, and I need some form of entertainment.  I am reading Daring Greatly by Brene Brown.  Taken directly from Amazon, the book is described like this,

Every day we experience the uncertainty, risks, and emotional exposure that define what it means to be vulnerable, or to dare greatly. Whether the arena is a new relationship, an important meeting, our creative process, or a difficult family conversation, we must find the courage to walk into vulnerability and engage with our whole hearts.

Unfortunately, this does not entertain me like People magazine. The text lends itself to those “hard” conversations I prefer to avoid.  I’m not a fan of engaging with my whole heart, and I sure don’t enjoy being vulnerable. Vulnerability is emotional exposure. It’s torture. I am quick to jump out, grab my towel, and cover up. I can’t risk getting burned again.

As summer progresses and my skin is exposed more and more to the sun, the burn starts turning into a tan. I have that sun-kissed look, that healthy glow I’ve always wanted. Eventually, my tan begins to fade, and my skin starts to peel. As the skin begins to peel back, a fresh layer of skin appears. My skin is healthy and no longer damaged by the sun.

For the last few weeks, I have desperately tried to get out of this pool. I feel like I have been kicking my feet and all I do is keep turning in circles. My float is getting no where and definitely not closer to the edge of the pool. I’m stuck and my skin is on fire.

However, I am learning that the longer I stay in the pool, the burning sensation lessens. The dead layers of my heart are being peeled away and wholeness is beginning to emerge.

You will know because of my glow 🙂

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To the One Before

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Open your heart. Love is on the way. – Jude 1

To the one before, who captured my heart right from the start, the chance meeting was electric and just the shock I needed to revive my lifeless heart. You saved me from the pit of despair. I had recently lost my job; one that I cared deeply about. I was in recovery from surgery; one that left me fighting for my life. I also was recovering from yet another failed relationship. I lost hope in about everything that mattered most to me – health, relationships, career, and security.

Six months prior to our meeting, I created a list in my prayer journal. I made a list of the qualities in a man who I could live with and without. The list was extensive and in looking back, I know it was hard to obtain. I thought you had to be perfect in order to achieve or receive love. That list proved to be a hindrance and taxing for us both. You were always jumping through hoops to prove yourself and my view of love was clouded.

The day I met you, I knew you were the one I prayed so fervently for. The connection was instant and the chemistry was undeniable. You were sensitive, attractive, passionate, driven and funny. Your embrace was strong and I felt safe inside. I began to trust again because of you.

We were in love, or mostly skating on the surface. No matter how hard we tried, we could not quite master the emotional connection. We could never bridge the gap. We were both guarded. We had been hurt in the past and unwilling to completely abandon that hurt and fall into love.

When push came to shove and I needed/wanted more, like marriage and true commitment, you walked away. You let go. I was crushed and my heart was broken. For reasons of your own, you couldn’t or weren’t willing to go the extra mile. For a year and a half, I kept the door of my heart opened. I eagerly and hopelessly waited for you to come back, to tell me you changed your mind, and that you made a mistake for leaving. However, you did not.

I read this quote the other day. “How do you know when it’s over?” “Maybe when you feel more in love with your memories, than with the person standing in front of you.” To answer that question, I think you know when your heart has made the connection that the mind already knows. It’s over and it has been over.

When our paths crossed the other day, I sensed a change in my heart. Love has been offering up a few samples here lately. At first, I was hesitant and wanted to pass. However, as trust is building, I find myself accepting the samples. I’ll be honest, I like the taste. It is refreshing and I find myself wanting more. Where you are currently, more is not an option and I have accepted that.

I will always be forever grateful for you and our relationship. The gambling man you are, you took a chance on me. You hung around and endured the rough patches; the times my demons surfaced and roared their little ugly heads. You gave all that you could in the capacity that you carved out for yourself. You brought me back to life.

So, thank you. I will always cherish our journey together – the road that led me to love. The memories are all sealed up and tucked away in my heart. I am forever changed, but my heart is now open to love that is on the way.

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I’m Melting, Melting

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Your heart is free.  Have the courage to follow it. – Malcolm Wallace

“I’m melting, melting,” shrieks the Wicked Witch of the West. The water thrown violently at her by her adversary, Dorothy, causes her body to evaporate; leaving no trace of her behind. In that brief moment, she is gone.

The frightening scene unfolds how the Witch, in her final moments, refuses to go down without a fight.

Ohhh! You cursed brat! Look what you’ve done! I’m melting! Melting! Oh, what a world! What a world! Who would have thought a good little girl like you could destroy my beautiful wickedness! Ohhh! Look out! Look out! I’m going! Ohhhh – Ohhhhhhhhhh! –

At the close of every school year, my dance company presented their annual recital for the proud parents and any willing participant from the public who dared to attend. Not only did we have a recital to showcase our hard work throughout the year, we also put on a special performance through the production Turn Out. We performed Cats and An American Tale, to just name a few.

The theater, aging in years, sat on the corner near our downtown square. The inside matched the wear and tear of the outside. The wallpaper was ragged, the air reeked of must, and the carpet, burgundy in color, was worn down in spots. The wooden floor of the stage creaked with every step. The lights were bright leaving the audience barely visible.  You very much felt alone, but so alive at the same time.

Our second production was the The Wiz, the musical adaptation of The Wizard of Oz. I played the role of, you guessed it, the Wicked Witch of the West, known as Evillene. As one may assume, I did not die by evaporation. I was tricked into thinking I was being handed a delicious and satisfying peanut butter and jelly sandwich, only it was poisonous and led me to defeat. To this day, I find it hard to “choke” down a good PB&J 🙂

Although those days of playing the evil witch are long behind me, I still find myself playing the role of the enemy who must be defeated. I screech,”I’m melting, melting“, only this time it is the frigid lining that surrounds my heart that dies, not me. Every kind word, “you are beautiful”, “you are brilliant”, “you are inspiring”, unleashes belief which in turns melts away the layers a little at a time. With every word I swallow, the wound dies a little bit more till eventually there is no more.

Who would have thought that something good would triumph over darkness like the Wicked Witch declared? Who would have ever imagined that a sweet little girl from Kansas could be ripped away from everything familiar, everything that comforts her, to pursue a yellow bricked road to find her true destiny? And in the end, she comes to the realization that there really is no place like home.

It happens and not just on the big screen. It happens in real life too. A sweet innocent girl from Kentucky, ripped away from her childhood into a violent, dark world, follows a path to find freedom, wholeness, and restoration. While I have never received an Oscar for such efforts, I’ve played the greatest role in my life. To find that little girl again and get her back on the path of her true destiny, to overcome darkness with love, is my greatest feat. She is beautiful, she is strong, and she certainly has what it takes to defeat an opponent once and for all.

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The Key to My Front Door

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When you love someone, truly love them, friend or lover, you lay your heart open to them. You give them a part of yourself that you give to no one else, and you let them inside a part of you that only they can hurt. You literally hand them the razor with a map of where to cut deepest and most painfully on your heart and soul. – Sherrilyn Kenyon

The distant sound of laughter and the shrills of excited children fill the air as another school day comes to an end. The bright yellow school bus soaks up the sounds as the children escape to their refuge of freedom they call home.

My expected time of arrival was at 3:10. This gave me just enough time to tear into a Little Debby cake and veg out in front of the television to catch an episode of Woody Woodpecker.  With the sound of Woody’s laughter blaring in the background, I slowly settled into my daily after school routine 🙂

My Mom worked at the local factory and her shift ended promptly at 3:30. I could tell she was home by the sound the tires made when they crunched through our gravel driveway.  There was no babysitter. No after school care. In my generation, we rode the bus home and felt safe enough to do so. We all had a key to our front door.

The key chain which held the key to my front door was a shiny metallic blue and in the shape of a question mark. My skin, blotchy red in color, served as a reminder just how painful this key chain was as it left tiny pinch marks from me repeatedly opening and closing the little clasp.

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The key chain not only caused me pain, but what lied behind the door that it opened caused so much more. There were things going on inside my house that I did not want anyone to see. Visitors dropped in frequently and engaged in activities not easily accepted by society. I was ashamed and embarrassed.

As I approached the door, without fail, I would hesitate out of fear. I was petrified of going in. The sheer weight of what was behind the door overpowered me, left me gripped with fear. It’s not that I could not go in, I did not want to. By hesitating, then knocking, I could give those inside a chance to “clean up” the chaos that was going on internally. It was their chance to sweep everything under the rug so we would appear to be normal and fully functioning.

As the years progressed, the entrance to my refuge of freedom also became a prison that no one could enter. This was my heart. There was no spare key, only the original. For so many years, I kept it tucked away from anyone’s grasp. I couldn’t just let anyone in for fear of the scrutiny I would receive.

I am slowly discovering that not all visitors are intruders. Some are sent by God to encourage, support, and hold your hand while you revisit the old wounds that have plagued you for so long. They let you cry, they wipe your tears, and they make sure you leave with a smile on your face.

When love wants in, it does not always wait for an invitation, nor does it knock, it simply walks right in. Love is intrusive, persistent, like a thief kicking in the door. It’s agenda is not to harm, but to help. It wants to saturate the wound, take the sting away, and provide permanent relief.

Today as I opened my front door, I was greeted by the warmth and brightness of the sun. The view was clear, filled with endless possibilities and full of hope. I felt my lost passion resurface and more importantly, I felt free. Not only did I open the door, I drew back the curtains so you could get a full view of my heart 🙂

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The Invitation

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The most important think in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in. – Morrie Schwartz

A little over three weeks ago, I received an invitation to my 20 year Class Reunion. It is hard to believe that 20 years have passed since I was in high school.

20 year reunion

I’ll be honest, I have not responded to the invitation.  I’m just not so sure I want to see those I went to high school with. Or maybe what really is going on is that I’m not so sure I want them to see me.

According to society’s standards, I have not met the so-called benchmarks of life. I have a thriving career in which I am very proud of, but to date, I have never been married, nor have I birthed any children. Someone might ask, “What have you been doing for the last 20 years?”

Just like the invitation to my high school reunion, I wonder how many “other” invitations have remained unopened and not responded to. I wonder if I tossed them to the side like junk mail or maybe I passed them by thinking I was not good enough to accept.

In one of my daily devotionals, I read this. “May you invite God in to heal a deep soul wound that has plagued you for too long.” It was a statement buried deep in the message, but I rang loud and clear.

What if God has been knocking on the door of my heart all along and I just never let Him in? What if He was right there waiting for the invitation to come in and heal my fears of rejection and unworthiness? Those wounds that have haunted me for most of my life. What if all He wanted was to show me a little love.

Love is intrusive. It pops its head in without a notice or an invitation. It’s persistent and somewhat direct. But what I am learning is that it is gentle and kind. It’s chivalrous, it can hold you without touching you, it sends a word of encouragement, it puts a smile on your face, and it leaves you full yet empty when it is gone.

As I wrestle with the decision to accept the invitation to my 20 year reunion, I wrestle with the fear of opening myself back up again and letting myself be vulnerable to love. Do I accept the invitation or not?

According to invitation etiquette, when R.S.V.P. is written on a personal invitation, it isn’t an optional request. It means you must inform the hostess whether or not you will attend. I would never consider myself a rude person, so I guess I’d better respond with a “yes” 🙂

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