Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Real Life Stories: When Your Family Becomes The Challenge

I choose joy now the same way I always have. The only difference now is my understanding of life has increased, so my capacity to feel joy has increased. 

The back story on this one: 

This story is being kept anonymous because there are some stories that are extremely influential but are easier left disconnected from us. So, to preserve this person's sanity, we will call them P, you know, for Person. Haha. Let's get to the interview now.

TJB: Thanks for being willing to share your personal story. Let's get started. What does having joy mean to you? 

P: When I feel a deep love for others, a calming peace within my soul, or a closeness with and confidence in God, I feel joy.

TJB: What other things bring you joy? 

P: So many things bring me joy. I don’t think I can write them all, but here are a few. Making other people smile and feel loved. A hike in the mountains or being at the beach. Music, whether I am playing the guitar, singing, at a concert, doing karaoke, or jamming in my car. I LOVE music. Dancing, my friends will tell you my body naturally moves regardless if there is music on. I love letting my hair down and dancing the night away. 

I recently discovered a love for creating things, from building my bed frame to painting a picture. I want to create all the time now. Reading books and engaging in conversations that challenge my thinking and push me to improve myself. Exploring new places, playing with my puppy, and investing in people I love. They all bring me joy. 

TJB: Life is never perfect for anyone, so please describe in detail a time or event in your life where you dealt with a mountain that seemed impossible to climb.

P: When I was 20 I found out that my father had committed identity theft against me. I then discovered he had a long term problem of this, among other things, and many had been victims of his weakness. I felt like my world shattered immediately and I instantly became broken. This started a series of events within me and my family that have forever changed my life. This started a painful 7 year process that would create something within myself so valuable, that I wouldn’t change it for the world. 

For years I felt like I was drowning and dying inside. My heart experienced so much anguish that sometimes I couldn’t believe I was in so much pain, yet still alive. I remember crying so hard and long one night that my face became so swollen and puffy I didn’t recognize myself when I looked in the mirror. I cried all the time, but only those really close to me saw my tears. 

I remember a friend telling me, one day I wouldn’t cry about this. Although I knew that was true, I knew there was light at the end of the tunnel, I didn’t know when I would see the light. I spent some months in depression. I mourned the loss of my father, because the father I knew no longer existed, and experienced the grief cycle. I felt little to no support from my family and at times felt contempt from some of them. This, hands down, is the hardest thing, emotionally, I have ever experienced in my life. 

TJB: That sounds really overwhelming. So many mixed and stressful emotions come to mind. How did you get through that? 

P: It is important to understand I never felt alone, but felt on my own since I had had little support from my family. While my friends were loving and supportive, they did not know how to help me. I simply had God. It was me and God. I was left with Him to figure things out. So we became a team, best friends. He was my leader and I was his follower. I consistently followed this pattern; with intensity I studied the scriptures and modern day revelation every day. 

I prayed specifically for things, all the time, and with real intent, having faith. I took the time to listen for answers, guidance, light, truth, and knowledge. I did whatever God asked regardless of how hard it was, how easy it was, or how impossible it seemed. I created some distance from my family to help get myself in a healthy place. Once I felt stronger and healthier I started spending more time with them. 

TJB: Do you feel like you chose happiness as a way through it? If so, what things did you do to bring happiness into this difficult time? 

P: I always chose happiness and will always choose happiness. Regardless of how I felt inside, I kept my commitments. I would give myself a certain amount of time to cry, then retouch my makeup and go out with a smile on my face. I focused on being in the moment and serving others. I focused on making others smile and laugh. I invested my time in creating friendships, memories, and experiences. I developed talents and skills. I continued to invest in myself, life, God, and relationships around me. Every day I chose God and to do hard things. And let me tell you, God had me do a lot of hard things.

TJB: What did you learn from those trying experiences? 

P: I learned that whatever you have at your dispense to help you through a situation is enough for God to work with, if you rely on Him. I felt like I had so little, yet he was able to do so much with what I had. I learned that you can survive a situation or thrive. I chose to thrive which is the harder path. That meant I had to deal with ALL of my issues. This is in part why my process ended up taking 7 years before coming full circle. 

I learned the pain of dealing with my personal issues and facing hard truths is absolutely worth it. The grass is so much greener on the other side. I learned God really knows who I am. I learned that if I follow Him he will create something beautiful out of me. I learned that because I followed Him an inner strength was created that is unbreakable, IF I continue to follow Him. I learned that I can do hard things. I learned that others didn’t need to change for me to have a relationship with them. I learned that I was the one who needed to change. I learned how much I love my family. I learned to love my father for who he is not who I wanted him to be. 

TJB: That is an incredible example of forgiveness. I believe that's one thing many of us struggle to ever accomplish. How do you choose Joy now? (If you do.)

P: I choose joy now the same way I always have. The only difference now is my understanding of life has increased, so my capacity to feel joy has increased. I take more time to be still. I take more time to be in nature and ponder. I go out of my way to make others smile and feel loved as often as I can. I listen more. 

I invest time in creating. I invest time in building and maintaining relationships. I choose God every day. I read, listen to music, throw a football around, sing, and dance. I notice the little things that make me smile. I compliment others and express gratitude. I give love freely and often. I smile almost all the time and laugh as much as I can. I continue to turn weaknesses into strengths. I continue to do hard things and not give up.

TJB: That is such an incredible way of looking at life. It's one that is such an incredible example to me. I tend to get caught up in the hard things and how I'm feeling, instead of just pushing along, doing the things that make me happy, and forgiving others. Thank you so much for sharing your story, and for sharing your example. I think you've given a lot of us something to think about. 

++ If you have any comments on this Real Life Story, please share them below. They are always welcome!

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  1. What a powerful story of forgiveness. And I love that God transformed you through it/in it for those seven years. How wonderful that now, on the other side of the worst of it you find yourself inspired to create in new ways. It sounds like your life now is just as inspirational as the mountain you got over. Thanks for sharing!


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