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“Try to live your life in a way that you will not regret years of useless virtue, and inertia, and timidity. Take up the battle. Take it up. It’s yours. This is your life. This is your world. You make your own choices. You can decide if life isn’t worth living. That would be the worst thing you can do – how do you know? Try it, see. So pick it up. Pick up the battle and make it a better world. Just where you are. Yes, it can be better and it must be better. It is up to us.”
– Maya Angelou
I often think of what 80-year-old Lauren would say to thirty-something-year-old Lauren. “What are we doing here Harry?”- Dumb and Dumber. “What are we doing here, Lauren?”
Go ahead and put on Lauren Daigle’s song “Rescue” on repeat while you read this. I’ll wait. And then you’ll need tissues because I only cry to that song 87.27% of the time.
Recently I took a personality test. I don’t care if you think it’s voodoo because it felt like I was looking into a foggy mirror and finally wiped the fog off to see my true self. It suddenly made all my quirks and weirdness make sense. I can’t help that sometimes I’m not feeling very people-y. Sometimes I’m so into my feelings that I can’t verbalize what’s happening on the inside. But discovering I’m an INFJ made sense. My DNA is aligned perfectly and orchestrated so that I can communicate more effectively through writing. And that’s okay. I’m okay. It’s ok that I’m not a stay-at-home-mom with perfectly made paleo organic meals and smile on my face as I clean the toilets. That’s not my hill I’m supposed to die on. I applaud the women to whom that is their calling because that does not look easy. I’m not perfect but I’m the way I’m supposed to be. Other famous INFJ’s include Martin Luther King Jr, Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela, Mohandas Gandhi, Carl Jung, and Florence Nightingale. That is incredibly motivating to know that I am among the greats (in my opinion) of this world. My girl Maya Angelou was an extroverted NJF. Nonetheless, I am honored to be part of the 2% who have the personality to make such waves. (Send me your Myers-Briggs Personality- I’d love to hear it!)
Now for the waves.
“Heal. So we don’t have another generation of trauma passing itself off as culture.” -unknown
Sometimes I think about how humanity has been consistent over time throughout the Bible. We still have all the same social issues: prostitution, abuse, infidelity, murder, pride, shame, deception. But on the other hand we went thousands of years living life the same way and It’s only been the last couple hundred that we have plumbing, social media, in vitro fertilization, and outer space missions. Our evolution is taking off. We, as the people of this earth, are making incredible strides exponentially.
One time, at my place of work, I apologized to an African-American woman for a racial slur. You know what she said? “I don’t recall you every saying that. Thank you for the apology. Look at you. Such character.” I was shaking and wanted to crawl into a hole and she embraced my effort. I am so grateful for her kindness. Another time I apologized – also at my place of employment (no I wasn’t fired!) – for calling a physician a “douche bag” to his face (twice because he didn’t hear me the first time) for telling a student that she was stealing a banana from the physicians after being offered a banana. When I finally got to apologize he also couldn’t remember what I had said. He hugged me and told me how much he enjoyed working with me. Both times I was scared and didn’t want to apologize. Both times I did it on my own because I value integrity over safety. Both times I didn’t deserve their mercy and love. Both times I was absolutely liberated of my own shame and it felt amazing. Both times I was in the wrong but wanted to make it right. Both times I was well-intentioned (I wanted to be liked by the woman, and I wanted to stand up against abuse of power with the physician).
If I can implore you to evolve and learn and read books and blogs and listen to podcasts on how to be a better person – do the things. When I turned 30 I didn’t even have a TV (demon box). No TV’s are not all bad- we have more TV’s than we have people living in our house. But we only have a limited number of minutes on this planet. Are you trading it for increased knowledge and time spent defending the defenseless? Are you trading your precious time for TV shows that give you a false idea of real life? Or iphone games for the love of God? What are you doing with your precious time?
Learn more about what it means to be a good human. Educate yourself on abuse. This is something I feel that so many people don’t understand the different forms of abuse. They unknowingly utilize these tools because they don’t comprehend how damaging it can be. These behaviors keep getting passed down from generation to generation because people don’t know how or why to deal with their pain or shame. We all fall somewhere on the abuse spectrum. None of us are innocent. I have cursed at my husband (but lort help me sometimes). I have used my position to get things I might not have otherwise. But the more we can educate ourselves and try try try to do better and be better and help those around us be better or escape the oppression. Let’s do that. Sometimes abuse can be so under the radar and progressive that even the most intelligent of souls can’t recognize it.
I love the frog analogy: If you drop a frog in boiling water he will jump out. If you place a frog in tepid water and slowly turn up the heat he will boil to death because he doesn’t notice the change in temperature.
Whatever your background is, your education level, your age. Look for opportunities to apologize, to stand up against someone being hurtful. The biggest thing I remind myself about humans that puts things into perspective for me:
Everyone is trying their best. Yes, everyone. Some of us just have way better tools than others.
Hurting people hurt people. If your heart is full of love and joy it will spill out and run over onto others. If your heart is full of shame and judgement it will spill out hatred onto those around you.
Equip yourself with awesome (free) tools. They’re all out there. But you have to be willing to look at yourself and see where you were chipping away at someone’s eyeball with a socket wrench. Ouch. Find a better tool that will get the job done. And lift and equip those around you. Don’t be a democrat or republican or an independent. Be a humanitarian. That is the basis of being Christ-like. Don’t follow the masses, don’t do what your parents did. Carve the way through the wilderness because you love and value God’s people. You are worth it. They are worth it.
It definitely won’t be easy at times. I didn’t talk to my own dad for 10 months. My own flesh and blood has been using the same worn out ineffective tools his parents gave him (shame, perfectionism, pride, entitlement). He has no idea there are better tools out there. He doesn’t know they are free but that you just have to look for them. But I do know he is trying his best. He may not be getting anywhere but he’s trying.
I keep talking about abuse but I don’t even know if you know what I’m talking about. I’m going to do my best to list them here. If you’ve made it this far reading this- print this off and highlight behaviors you recognize in yourself or other people. (Courtesy of a basic Pinterest search). And then tell me how you’re doing. What did you do right? What do you need to work on?
Abuse: the use of an object for something other than what it was intended.
• Hitting, harming, physically injuring, restraining, choking, spitting, punching someone
• Blocking exits
• Driving recklessly
• Preventing someone from leaving a threatening environment
• Locking someone out of their home
• Destroying or threatening to destroy objects
• Injuring pets
• Substance abuse
• The threat of their physical safety through verbal attacks or violent intimidation through throwing or breaking objects. (How many people saw their mom throw a frying pan at their dad amiright?)
• Name calling
• Yelling at
• Belittling, condescending, sarcastic speech
• Offensive verbiage or racist remarks
• Threatening to or having an affair
• Forced sexual encounters, rape, molestation
• Sexual put-downs
• Withholding sex in order to manipulate someone’s actions
• Using pornography
• Demanding sex as payment
• Paying for sex
• Exposure to ideas sexual in nature as a child
• Unconsentual touching groping
• Body shaming
• Invalidation of feelings,
• Using guilt or shame
• Withholding affection
• Deliberate lack of sleep to disorient someone
• Silent treatment
• Playing mind games
• Hyper critical
• Jealousy/false accusations
• Monitoring phone calls/texts/emails
• Isolating from friends and family
• Controlling and making decisions
• Threatening to injure onself to control someone
• Guilt trips/blaming
• Gas-lighting, making someone think something that happened did not happen
• Neglect, lack of emotion or empathy
• Using children or triangulating other family members to control outcomes
• Telling someone who they can spend time with or be friends with
• Demanding perfection
• Making light of or denying the abuse
• Preventing someone from getting or keeping a job
• Controlling of finances through decision-making or prevention of access
• Refusing to pay child support
• Deliberately destroying someone’s credit
• Criticizing someone’s faith
• Cutting someone off from practicing their faith
• Using scripture or someone’s faith to control their behaviors or shame them.
Abuse of Power
• Using one’s social or financial status to harm, control, or manipulate people or situations or withhold someone’s rights