Death, Divorce, and Heartbreak Part 2: A Personal Reflection

images (5)I was telling a friend, “I’m much better at death than heartache through divorce or breakups.”

I have known this about myself for quite some time.

And I have asked God, “What makes heartache so much more difficult for me to deal with than death?” 

I loved reading Nancy Drew Mystery books when I was growing up. God must remember this about me because when I have big questions He never gives me the answer straight up.  I have to become a detective being keenly aware of what He reveals to me over time to start to piece together the answer to my personal perplexing questions.   (I’m thinking many of you can relate to this, also!)

These next few blogs will present the pieces of the mystery I have so far in regards to why divorce and heartbreak have been much harder for me than death.   This particular post will talk about all the grace God has given me through my life which has made death a more peaceful process. The next posts will discuss some revealed truths about what makes heartbreak so much more difficult for me….and maybe you…and some wholehearted ways to deal with divorce and breakups.


images (8)PERSONAL EXPERIENCES OF DEATH AND HEARTBREAK

Seventeen years ago I watched as my mom battled cancer for two years and then pass away.  Just 4 weeks ago I watched as father’s body was overcome by cancer, and he too passed away.

In each of those instances I was fortunate to be prepared for their deaths.  

I was given time to talk with them,  say what I’ve always held in my heart about them, and hear what they wanted to say to me.   Though my mom was too young in my eyes to leave this world, it was God’s grace that I was given notification.   With my dad, he lived a full life, and in God’s grace, again, I was given notification.

Working in a hospice for a short bit in my 20’s, I learned that time is precious.

Don’t wait till the “notification” comes to deal with something or say something you’ve always wanted.  

That was a lesson I integrated wholeheartedly, so in the last few days of each of my parent’s lives, my heart found only a few questions I had always wanted to ask—what they enjoyed most about their lives, what were their spiritual beliefs that I didn’t know, how my mom felt about my dad, what my dad had always wanted to do but didn’t, any last words of advice they wanted to pass on.  The information from those questions has been precious to me.

I was fortunate in their deaths to have time to prepare and send them off with love. 

The heartache from my parents’ deaths was a mix of sadness and joy:  I miss them yet thankful I had them for as long as I did, I became much more aware and grateful for what they taught me and passed on to me, there was no more suffering for them to endure, and I was peaceful about their belief and trust in God to take them to heaven where I’d see them again.

Obviously, having spiritual life makes death and dying more peaceful.

Knowing that my parents are finally with God and that they are more loved and joyous then they were ever on earth makes their going much easier.

I have been fortunate.  My close family has not experienced sudden deaths, tragic deaths, or unexpected deaths. In High School several of my classmates were killed in car wrecks and I did observe, from afar, the mournful cries and moaning of their families.  Something I’ll never forget.  And I knew the anger and the “words can’t describe” shock and pain I felt at the loss of those friends. I have walked a few friends and clients through the process of sudden child or spouse deaths.

But for the most part death for me has been easier to deal with and adjust to than divorce or relationship heartbreaks.

I have never been afraid of dying.   I have had fear about HOW I will die, but that seems to be waning as well.   Someone once said that I was probably not scared to die because my spirit remembers where it came from and longs to go home.  That made sense to me, even though this was said to me during a time when my Christian walk was trying to come back to life! I was “saved” at 11 y/o but spent many years between then and 45 y/o walking in and out of churches like a Velcro ball that lost its place to stick or stickiness.

Have I wished for death? Yes, I have wished for death…but never after someone dies only after heartbreak! 

I’ve had 3 significant relationships (one engagement, one with my husband of 20 years, and one long term relationship) with men I mindfully chose to put forth effort for a lasting, committed relationship.  The ending of those relationships were devastating to my heart and mind.  I was a mess!  I’d cry for days, and honestly, even months or years later. Part of me felt lost or gone.  Direction and goals I had disappeared. I felt empty and alone. Life seemed dark and hopeless.

Death wishes would come sometimes as fervent prayers for God to take me home and sometimes just as a comfort and an escape.

I have a daughter who I love wholeheartedly and even that didn’t keep them from coming. I didn’t like that.

At some point don’t we realized that life is all about relationships (not work, money, things, etc)?  My relationship with God, YES…yet others, too!   But if this is what life on earth is like with relationships, then I can’t wait till I’m gone.

I remember sitting in church singing songs about how everything will be amazing and wonderful when we get to heaven, and listening to sermons on the hardships of life but we had heaven to look forward to.

These were all well and good, but what am I to do in the mean time till I get to go to heaven?   

I would have thought that death would have brought such a reaction for me.  I know it has for others that have lost children, spouses, and parents.  And I do believe, if I had tragically lost my ex-husband during our marriage or tragically lose my daughter, some of those same thoughts would appear.  But my deep down grief and sorrow have come after relationship loss and not death loss.  What was the difference?   Why was this seemingly so much harder?  How could I bring the peace I experience through the loss to death into the loss of a significant relationship?

(Come back next week for some things God has taught me about this.)

012014_2108_SelfCompass1.jpgEncouraging Your Whole Heartedness:

Can you relate to the difference in my reactions to death and heartbreak?  I’d love to hear your heart.  Leave me a comment or a snippet of your story on death and heartache.

WHO ARE YOU Part 4: A Taste of WHOOP—Whole Heartedly Opening Our Purpose

images (10)Love transforms one into what one loves. –Quote from a Facebook post that stuck in my head; author unremembered!


 

 

Last week’s post discussed some of the ways we might behave when we believe two lies:

  • Love Hurts and if God is Love then God Hurts.
  • If God hurts and we are made in His likeness, then we must be hurting and hurtful beings.

The truth of the matter is that God IS love and Love does NOT hurt.  Unloving behaviors hurt.  Who we are in our core is LOVE, and we are beings capable of great love.

Believing that God hurts leads us to believe that we are all hurtful beings, and we then engage in fear-based, self-protective behavior that is rooted in fear.  We begin to avoid the connection, intimacy and love that we’re made for and that we long for.  In order to break this cycle, we need to recognize that feeling unfulfilled is more a reaction of fear (natural instinct and conditioning from past unloving encounters) than a choice to love (our true spiritual essence).

Becoming aware of our false beliefs and acknowledging the behaviors we engage in to protect ourselves isn’t always pleasant.  It takes a great deal of introspection, self-knowledge, willingness, and time.  And let’s not forget COURAGE!  In areas of your life where you feel unrest, anxiety, anger, pain, sadness, or unfulfillment, you are very likely participating in fear instead of love.  To honestly examine your behaviors – to dig into your beliefs and uncover the causes of your actions – takes a great deal of bravery.   So if you are still reading and following these blogs, I want to give you a whole-hearted cheer…a big WHOOP!  You are already being brave, so keep going!

As I promised last week, I want to give you a practical, do-able spiritual practice that will transform you into what you will love.  Here it is: start and practice loving yourself every day at every moment no matter how you are being or what you are doing.  Love yourself and you will transform into something you love! 


images (2)Self-love is a spiritual practice. 

Some of you might be thinking that sounds awfully selfish and self-indulgent.   I used to think so, too.  And this same reaction occurs in my WHOOP groups when I tell them, “for the next 5 weeks you are going to concentrate on YOU and loving yourself!”  We are often taught that loving ourselves is a form of conceit and self-absorption.  We might also think that self-love goes against the selflessness that Jesus teaches by his example.  But I have learned that loving myself is a form of honoring God, and that it also honors others.

Here are some truths I’ve learned about the link between loving myself and loving others:

  • You can’t love others unless you love yourself just as you are at every moment. “Every moment” is the challenging part.  I don’t know of anyone who acts perfectly kind, caring and loving all the time. Least of all me!  But I’ve found that the root of this thinking is within me: the amount I judge and criticize myself is the amount I judge and criticize others.  When I learn to be kinder and gentler with myself—the good and the bad parts—then I can do the same to others.  This is how God loves us—He will never remove His love from us no matter what we think, say, feel, or do.  Check out how many times the word STEADFAST is associated with God’s love; if we are made in the likeness of God, then we are capable of steadfast love for ourselves and others.
  • If you’ve ever flown on a commercial airplane, you’ve heard the oxygen mask instruction, “If you have a small child with you, put your mask on first before helping them.” WHY?  Because if you are struggling to breath, start to panic, or pass out how can you help another.   If you can’t love and take care of you, how are you ever going to love and give care (being selfless) to another!
  • To honor, love and know WHO YOU ARE is how you learn to honor, love, and appreciate who someone else is. The more loving and compassionate you can be toward yourself, the more you can extend love and compassion to others.  When you can forgive yourself for your selfish, controlling or unkind ways, you will be able do to that for others.  That is love!
  • Self-love is believing and practicing the truth about our relationship with God. The extent to which we understand and experience God’s love is the extent to which we can love ourselves and others.   Self love is living out the truth – through our thoughts, deeds, and actions – that there is no separation between us and God. God is in us and we are in God. Therefore, the same kind of love that He gives us, we can give to ourselves and others. We become mirrors—we are to reflect God’s love and we can reflect that love right back to our self and others.
  • Did Jesus show self-love? I would have to say YES! He lived the ultimate Whole Hearted Life.  He totally got God! He knew who he was in and as God. He was conscious of his “being” and “doing”.  He honored what to do for himself to stay true and connected to who he was and his purpose.  He extended love and compassion. He fulfilled his purpose! If he had had one ounce of fear or doubt, I’d hate to think of where we’d be or what we’d be doing.  Have you read the end of Exodus or Leviticus lately?  It will make your head spin with all the proper procedures and sacrifices! I’m so glad Jesus’ new command to us was to love—love your neighbor as you yourself are loved, love God with all your heart, mind and strength, love others as Jesus has loved us.

God’s love and self-love is a sweet dance between us and God.  You can’t seem to have one without the other.
If you love you, you love God.
If you love God, you love you because He is part of WHO YOU ARE.
If you dishonor yourself, you are dishonoring God.
If you dishonor God, you are dishonoring yourself.
If you are not connecting with yourself, then you are not connecting with God.


images (7)Love transforms one into what one loves.

The transforming that occurs is God’s love to us, through us and given back to our self.   (You might need to read that one a few times to let it sink in!) Practice some self love and see what starts to happen in your life.

Practical Tips:

  1. WHAT IS LOVE? WHO IS GOD?  These are big questions.  Anything you can do to study and learn about love and God will be important to understanding how to love yourself.
  • Read the bible. Pick a version that you like!   I like The Voice, The New Living Translation, and The Amplified bible.  There are lots of great study bibles with commentary that explains more of the history and the concepts presented in the bible.
  • Here are a couple books I recommend:
    • Return to Love by Marianne Williamson
    • Keep Your Love On by Danny Silk
    • Immortal Diamond by Richard Rohr
  • Here is a starter for you. Read what 1 Corinthian 13:4 says about love, and practice it on yourself this week:
    • Be patient and kind to yourself.
    • Don’t be rude, crude or indecent to yourself…in words or actions!
    • Don’t get upset with yourself or keep a list of all the things wrong you did today.
    • Love anything and everything that you do this week.
    • Trust, hope and endure however you are “being” this week!
    • Don’t dismiss yourself this week and any shape or form.
    • Remind yourself that you are important and needed by God.
  1. Make a list of 100 Ways to love yourself. Every good life coach eventually asks their client do this list.  WHY?   The list sheds light about WHO YOU ARE, what you like and what feeds your soul.  It also becomes a resource of what to do when you feel the need for love. Once you write the list, put it into practice right away and notice what starts to transpire in your life.  Get your list going by asking these questions:
  • What activities do you like to do that make you feel peaceful or more alive?
  • What activities do you do that make you feel better about yourself?
  • What things do you know from deep down in your heart that if you did them, you’d feel more loved by yourself?
  • What things do you wish someone else did for you to show you love?

These can be big and small things. They can cost money or not.   They can be actual activities or a way you want to be.

Examples:
Light candles
Read more fun books
Take a bath
Listen to music and sing
Drink more water
Brush my teeth
Make my bed in the morning
Have fresh flowers in the house
Don’t go to bed mad
Take family vacations every year
Go on lunch date with girlfriend
Cook a new recipe
Schedule Date nights
Tell the truth in love
Go for a walk
Take an art class
Buy new pajamas
Keep my morning time sacred
Breath before responding when feeling angry
Take responsibility for any behavior I did that might have been hurtful and apologize
Remember to take some healthy snacks in the car so I don’t eat something unhealthy

cropped-011114_2043_selfcompass1.jpgEncouraging Your Whole Heartedness:

I’d love to hear your heart.  Leave me a comment or tell me a few ways you plan to love yourself this week.

WHO ARE YOU Part 1:  A Taste of WHOOP—Whole Heartedly Opening Our Purpose

Your problem is that you don’t know what your problem is.  You think your problem is your problem, but that’s not the problem at all. Your problem is not your problem, and that’s your main problem.

–Bill Gillham from Lifetime Guarantee

hands-making-a-heart-in-the-sunset_00450550-28812_650x250 (1)The HEART of Whole Heartedly is very important to living our purpose.  What is “heart” beyond the actual organ in our body that keeps us alive or what some might think of only as emotions?  This is a very deep and sometimes confusing question…and is often at the “heart” of our problem!

Out of curiosity, I looked up how many times the word “heart” appeared in the bible.  In the Old Testament (KJV) it is the 3rd most used word after God and Lord.   In the New Testament (KJV) it is the 13th after God, Jesus, Lord, Christ, Father, heaven, faith, love, grace, believe, brother and sin.  This is just the count of the single form of heart and not the plural, “hearts”.   Again, HEART is third in the most popular words in the OT after God and Lord!  It seems that God thinks HEART is a very important word for us to understand and know.

As I was searching the web for the above, I found this post, which is a nice compilation of biblical and other definitions of HEART.  If you read through that web post, you will find that HEART is basically WHO YOU ARE in your thinking (mind processes), decisions (will), and feelings (emotions).  Heart is who you are at your core, your essence, your being—the inner most center of who you are “being”.

The issue or problem (didn’t that quote above give you a chuckle?  It did me.) is that most of us don’t know WHO WE ARE or we try to figure out and define who we are from sources that are unreliable, changeable, untruthful, and, often, unloving.

I heard long ago that we are spiritual beings having a human experience.  This rings with lots of truth.  Most of us will define who we are by outside, “human experience” influences.  We may define who we are by our roles, such as mother, father, husband, wife, daughter, son, brother, sister, etc, or what we do, such as accountant, realtor, lawyer, artist, football player, baker, etc.  Those are all changeable and at any moment we could NOT BE one of those through divorce, death, being laid off, injury and so on.  When that occurs, the question often arises, and to our benefit, WHO AM I REALLY???   It’s to our benefit because it is in those moments we get to find our unchanging, truthful, reliable and loving selves in our spiritual “being”.

In addition, who you are can be influenced by what people say you are with words or how they treat you.  Some of these can be positive in our life and how we are being, and some cause such havoc in our perception of who we are that we end up with other problems that are just symptoms (think addictions, relationship issues, depression, anxiety, and so on) to the real problem–not knowing and believing WHO YOU REALLY ARE.

Taleda-full-heart_500Life seems to be a process of coming to know, understand, and believing WHO YOU ARE–about knowing your HEART, about understanding your WHOLE HEART.  It is seeing, being mindful, becoming aware of when you are BEING from a place of humanness and then how to bring your spiritual being into that!   Most of us are taught how to be very good human “beings,” yet still living in some kind of lack, looking for ways to fill that (sometimes in very harmful ways) or feel stuck and joyless.  Delving into the WHOLE HEART of WHO WE ARE, which is combining who we are spiritually and bringing that into our human experience, is what can fill that space and bring you more life.

Am I as clear as that initial quote?  I wouldn’t be surprised if your head is spinning a little bit.   My intent with this post is   to get you going, to make you think, to start you to ponder about WHO YOU ARE—who you are being right now and what is influencing that; are you being who you are spiritually; do you know who you are as a spiritual being; are you aware of your spiritual “beingness” yet still joyless or catch only glimpses of fully living?   The next few weeks posts will be offering ways to be more mindful of who you are and how to bring more of your spiritual being into your human living.

A few quotes to ponder about WHO YOU ARE:

The strongest and key word in Deuteronomy is love.  Love is the most characteristic and comprehensive act of human “being”. We are most ourselves when we love; we are most the people of God when we love.  To love we need to realize our unique identity as the people of God who love.   -–from the introduction to The Message Bible

Learn to live in the True Self, who you are and always have been in God.  Who you are in God is who you forever are; in fact that is all you are and it is more than enough.  Everything else is passing away.  Reputations, titles and roles do not determine your identity. —Thomas Merton

You have a basic nature that is uniquely yours—learn to trust that nature and be free of other people’s opinions negative or positive.  What is your own nature if you have no outside forces telling you who or what you should be?  –Wayne Dyer

All great spirituality teaches about letting go of what you don’t need and who you are not.  –Richard Rohr

We long for the space where there is nothing to prove and nothing to protect; where I am who I am, in the mind and heart of God, and that is more than enough.   –Richard Rohr

cropped-011414_2007_selfcompass11.jpgEncouraging Your Whole Heartedness:

Tell me a little about your Heart in the comment section!  I’d love to know your answer in one or two words to the question posed above:  What is your own nature if you have no outside forces telling you who or what you should be?

JOURNALING: A Taste of WHOOP—Whole Heartedly Opening Our Purpose

collagelgThere is a friend at the end of your pen which you can use to help you solve personal or business problems, get to know all the different parts of yourself, explore your creativity, heal your relationships, develop your intuition…and much more.   This friend, of course, is your journal.  Empty, blank, smooth—a beautiful gift waiting to be unwrapped!  

—-Kathleen Adams from Journal to the Self: Twenty-Two Paths to Personal Growth

One of the main components of WHOOP Classes is journaling.  What makes journaling important to opening our purpose whole heartedly?

  • Journaling is one way we get to know ourselves. By having a place to express yourself you can begin to see what you believe, value, think about and have passions for.
  • By expressing thoughts you are having and feelings you are experiencing, you can discern your mind more clearly.
  • By jotting down quotes, scriptures or songs lyrics you like, you can begin to see what inspires you and occupies your thoughts.
  • By putting down in writing your insights and revelries about those quotes, scriptures or song lyrics you can learn about yourself and integrate knowledge you are longing to acquire.
  • Answering self reflective questions can clarify your personal views and preferences.
  • By journaling a circumstance you find yourself in, you can calm your mind and access your creative problem solving abilities.

Journaling becomes a way for us to know our WHOLE self….our WHOLE HEART…with more clarity.

Journaling is one method that helps people unfold.  It can produce spiritual growth because one is learning about themselves.  It helps us stay in touch with and establish a connection with our underlying reality which is our personal source of meaning, strength and purpose.   —Carl Jung 

Journaling gets us in touch with thoughts and a deeper level of beliefs and patterns of thinking that may not be serving us and once we know them we can get rid of them.  Journaling creates new life and more authenticity as a person.   —-Mari McCarthy 

Journaling helps one know what their lives are trying to become.   —-Ira Progoff

My pastor at church calls journaling “PSALMING”!  Psalms are full of feelings and thoughts that aren’t all pleasant and loving, yet, you will notice a pattern in many of the psalms. First there is a dumping of fears, feelings and thoughts about a situation. Then there is a transformation to gratitude leading to a new more positive perspective.    This, too, can happen with us when we journal.  I know firsthand that just putting on paper a feeling I wish I wasn’t having can diminish it.  I also know by experience that journaling out my thoughts on a situation can help me clarify what is really going on with me or the truth in a situation.

I know there can be fear around journaling, especially in regards to putting your thoughts and feeling on paper.  My next blog post will talk about some of the fears you might be having.

Encouraging Your Whole Heartedness:

  1. Read some Psalms and look for the expression of fears, feelings, and thoughts…and then the transformation that happens.
  2. Be brave and jump in….Pull out a piece of paper or journal and jot down your fears about journaling.
  3. Click here to check out a couple of my favorite journaling tools and books to get you started.
  4. If you are an avid journaler, I’d love for you to inspire others by sharing what you love about journaling in the comment section. Thank you!