Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Trickiness of Trios

While I'm talking about what I've learned from relationships, this year I've learned another relationship lesson, about the treasure of being part of a trio (not the singing kind), but also the trickiness of it.

The number three is one of the numbers that carries unspoken significance, like the rule of three. It can signify something good, it can signify something bad. In relationships it has it's moments with both.

The Trinity of course is the epitome, showing us there can be a sacredness to triune relationships. The threesome at the very least brings to mind the obvious intimacy imbalance. Most of us are far, far from either of those experiences however we sometimes get a glimpse of the harmony and the discord.

I have been a part of a few trios over the years, but growing up as one of three sisters has held the most lessons of the delicate balance of a three-sided relationship.

At first, as young siblings, the decks are stacked towards an equal balance in affection for each other. As kids we had the same exact upbringing, the same life experiences, the same people we live with shaping us, we were all in the same season of life - school/dependence, had mostly the same social circles and developed similar hobbies and interests.

Of course, we were kids, the 'still growing into our maturity' often tanked the equality. There is also the dynamic of growing up that involves testing out boundaries in relationships, learning to assert our identities. And don't forget plain old taking loved ones for granted, choosing 'me' over 'us'. That meant it was frequently 2 vs 1, but at least the 2 and 1 were fairly equally rotated. :)

Then, within a couple of years, circumstances all changed. Our common experiences slowed, the distance grew but at least so had our maturity, and so, the balance returned. We had a lot of common interests between the 3 of us, then I had some with my sister Jodi that I didn't have with Tami, and vice versa, but still all very fairly distributed. Gatherings were time for the 3 of us, and throughout the rest of the year it once again rotated between 2 out of 3 of us, but no taking sides this time, just dependent on who could travel the distance to spend time together.

That is until circumstances changed again. Tami and I ended up sharing a common experience of infertility. That was the starting point of a deeper connection, the more we shared our heart about that it seemed the more the Holy Spirit was moving in us and through us to help each other, and our spiritual connection grew deeper as well.  In our eyes, I don't think it ever shifted the balance, we loved and valued Jodi no less, we made no less time for her. But then again, we weren't the one whose connection wasn't growing deeper.

One day the reality of trios and their inevitable lopsidedness became very real. The fact is, amongst humans, a completely equal three-sided relationship is impossible. Once you accept that, when you are the one who feels the imbalance, you have two choices:
1) You can decide that you value the tri-bond over your own desires to be preferred.
2) You can let envy squash the bond, becoming jealous and competitive.

Essentially that's what it comes down to, the person who feels the imbalance doesn't feel as important as the other two are to each other.

But then, when it becomes known to the other two, they also have two choices.
1) You can address it honestly
2) You can pretend it isn't happening

Of course, either of those responses are no guarantee of a positive outcome. Like the saying 'it takes two', in this situation, it takes three.

Boundaries of course come into play as well, we have to take responsibility for our actions, our expectations, our feelings, and if you are trying to make any of these the responsibility of someone else, relationships in general will not work well. A trio is no different, and actually can make it more evident and a bigger point of contention.

So, with that in mind, when the two of us became aware, we brought up a discussion because we wanted to strengthen our friendship rather than letting this weaken it. We acknowledged that Jodi had the right to feel the way she felt, however also explained we were not in control or responsible for her feeling less important. We clarified how we perceived the situation, and that we loved and valued her no less in our minds. We also explained it wasn't fair to ask us to defer our one-on-one relationship, especially since we all had one, and in fact, Jodi & Tami spent a lot more one-on-one time than I did with either of them.

As we discussed it a few things became evident. There was only one solution if Jodi were going to hold our actions responsible for the separation she felt, and if we were going to take ownership of how she chose to feel, we'd have to try to shut down our connection, which would only serve to take away her responsibility to deal with her own feelings and expectations.  This was not an option.

So we continued talking and something else became evident, being able to be mature and talk about our feelings, in an honest and vulnerable way, not only brought us closer, in and of itself, but it led us to initiate deeper connections in other ways that would strengthen our tri-bond and de-emphasize the bond Tami and I had without actually making it less important or feeling like a competition. Now, we're even closer than ever.

Sisters are of course not exactly the same dynamics of unrelated friendships, because I think the playing field can be much more even without the added rivalry friendships can have, adding titles like 'best' and 'bestie', or having friendships in different arenas and stages of life, etc.  I don't know if the self-doubt ever fully stops, but now when I feel that bitterness arise in my own chest, that insecurity that I can't compete, I stop myself.

I stop myself from going down that rabbit hole and I draw strength from the foundation of great friendships I've had/have, where I have experienced the intimacy of being deeply important in each others lives. AND, I need to allow others the space to find that as well.

Even in a trio. Especially in a trio.

It doesn't lessen my bond. It doesn't lessen my value. In fact, as I've found out first hand, quite the contrary, that kind of maturity increases them.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

To Mothers, From an Un-Mother

I was forwarded a blog post today from a great friend who happens to be a mother.

It is from the perspective of a mother, who never had the struggle of trying for children, all 3 came easily to her. She writes about an important lesson she learned the first pregnancy, when she was full of joy and broadcasting it to the world. Some people just can't share in that joy, no matter how much they would like to.

She made several really great points. One being, infertility is often suffered in silence, so very often those around them are unaware of the pain they face, over and over again, each month. It is mostly a hidden grief so many people are oblivious to the impact of their declarations of parent-appropriate emotions. Second she acknowledged her own struggle with empathy even once she did know, and admitted her desire to have her feelings trump those of the infertile friend. This was her own personal experience but one I know that isn't an isolated situation.

The summary of the blog was to encourage mothers in particular to be sensitive, understand the continual pain, and to try not to do anything that just adds to the grief. I appreciate that sentiment, thank you. But I really hoped my friend who had sent the post hasn't been burdened with guilt  for her sharing pregnancy joy and toddler trials. So now I wanted to offer my own words to mothers from the other side, and hope other people battling infertility will consider these words as well.

Over the nine years of trying without success to be a mother I have encountered many different responses from women who are mothers but I have also encountered quite a few infertile women as well, and I have learned that mothers are not the only ones at fault for the hurt feelings that happen around infertility.

We who fall under the label infertile, even for a season,  sometimes choose our feelings over friendship, and we act like we have cornered the market on pain and strife.

We who can't be labelled mommy can let jealousy, envy and resentment cloud our ability to see mothers as just woman who have different struggles than us, but struggles just the same.

We who have empty wombs and arms can be so harshly judgemental for no other reason than our target was able to get pregnant and give birth, something they have no more control over than we have control over our inability.

The blog author mentioned she wanted her joy to trump the sorrow of the one who couldn't be a mother, but at times I have wanted my struggle to trump the struggle every mother goes through.

It took awhile for me to realize how unfair that was but it finally dawned on me, I don't compare any other pain, I don't begrudge someone dealing with anorexia because I have a problem with over eating. Hardships of motherhood are just as difficult as the hardships of infertility. I'm sorry to say my final lesson that hammered that home was learned at the expense of my sister, who had her own journey through infertility for 5 years, but when she had her first son and it wasn't an easy birth or newborn phase, and she didn't even complain, but as she shared her difficulties, my immediate reaction was to resent that her gratitude didn't automatically overcome her distress. It was then my eyes opened to just how insensitive I could be to moms, how insensitive a lot of infertile women could be to mothers.

I realize it's part of the society we live in, people tend to fall into ignorance to the impact of what they say or elevate the importance of our own feelings, but that doesn't excuse it, or help maintain healthy relationships. And there seems to be a growing hyper sensitivity increasing rather than just compassionate sensitivity around this area in particular.

Granted, it would be nice to have people consider my feelings before they say something like 'if you want kids so bad you can have my brats', but I never want a friend to feel like they have to walk on egg shells around me or feel like they can't share the reality of their life with me, because then I am not being a good friend, or a friend at all really. My feelings are not more important and do not negate the feelings of my friends. It hasn't been as hard to change how I choose to react and feel about it now that I am aware.

And maybe I'm also really lucky that I have pretty amazing friends who really do respect and honor my feelings, and feel them with me, and so it makes it easy to value them over holding tightly to my pain.  I am a lucky girl.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Jesus Loves Me This I Know

You know how when you've spent a lot of time apart from a spouse or significant other, whether it was separation by happenstance or a not-so-happy-stance, once you reunite there is another honeymoon phase?  I was blessed with the beginning of a new honeymoon phase with Jesus this last week and I just wanted to capture this amazing day here.

After I finally realized my misery has been my own doing, not God's, and I was determined to make time with Him my top priority, we reunited for our first date in months the last day of 2014. No better way to start a new year than to have good closure on the previous year.

To be honest, previous Jesus dates I struggled what to actually do to spend time with Him. I copied ideas from a friend, like reading my Bible at Starbucks, talked to Him in my journal, I did things I enjoy that I have no one else to enjoy with (like sushi), because if I enjoy them Jesus created me to enjoy them, and so He must enjoy them too ;) I knew what we did wasn't as important as intentionally trying to spend time with Him yet it still felt a little awkward.

I started planning out this date a week earlier, Christmas Eve, and I wondered what I would do this time. I had plans to borrow a devotional on prayer from a friend but didn't have it yet. I thought of buying one because I really didn't want to wait a day longer to start intentional re-connecting, and devotionals make it a lot easier for me than just opening the Bible. But I dismissed the idea of buying one because I really should start learning to restrict my spending, not knowing what 2015 employment would look like yet.

Yet, the day before our date I just couldn't get rid of the thought I should buy my own, and I had unexpected Christmas money, so I thought I'd at least pop in to the new Hull's that opened a few weeks ago and see what I could find. Often when I browsed I had trouble finding just the right devo I was looking for, so doubted I would even find anything. I doubted it even more when I walked in, they had 3 tiny little sections filled, the rest was empty and/or still under construction. I went to the one shelf of devos with about 20 choices, more than half of which were for families/couples. Yet, on the top shelf, with a very pretty cover, was a devo with large print HOPE, written by Beth Moore, an author I had been hoping to read something by soon. I flipped it open and the raw edged paper (I love raw edged paper) was filled with guidance towards a closer relationship with God and how to pray that out.....exactly what I was hoping to get from devotional time. I knew it was there just for me. So I bought it.

So, date day arrived, I dropped Sean off at work then parked near the 2 places I intended to spend time with God that morning. First was Starbucks, redeeming a free reward drink and snuggling up in a big arm chair, opening the devo and my journal to spend at least an hour talking to God. I opened the devo and on the first page was a personal poem by Beth that made me instantly cry and realized how intentional God really was in getting this devo in my hands. It of course was about hope, but the imagery she chose was imagery God had been pursuing me with since at least June, stars/diamonds. Her take on them was light in darkness, which has been my own theme for the month of December. And even mentioning 'a painted dawn for you', again a direct hit at what God spoke over me in 2013. Wow. Our date had barely started and He was giving me gifts. Then I opened it to Day One and it spoke to exactly the struggle I had been having all year, the reason I was letting my trust slip, but it spoke it in terms that I completely relate to, the metaphor of an artist. Especially with how much time I've been able to spend on art since being laid off! Again, I was completely blown away by God's pursuit of me through this devotional.  Especially with how much I had rejected His voice in my life throughout the last year, and especially last few months. I was so humbled and grateful.

My next stop planned was a piece of art right across the street. I follow the local artist @kalbarteski on instagram and ever since I saw her posts of creating this work of art on some windows on Graham Ave I have wanted to visit them. Her work is lovely in print but it was more the message than the medium that enthralled me. It is a message of self love and love of body image, the same message that God has been trying to work out in me, so I thought what a great place to go next. I wasn't disappointed, it was even more beautiful than I imagined and saw from instagram pics! I love when art not only gives beauty but reflects & accepts it as well!

Other than that, I only had one stop left on our date, sushi for lunch. But first I had an errand to attend to. I had not premeditated this as part of the date, but considering our theme for our date and been creativity, it soon became apparent that God likely did premeditate this errand. My next stop was to browse art supplies, with that unexpected Christmas money. I anticipated being able to buy something to further pursue sketching or watercolour painting, but not both. The store I was going to go to used to be right across the street from the street art, but it was no longer there, so I Googled on my phone another art shop downtown and sure enough found one at the place I've considered attending a painting workshop! And, they had very reasonable prices AND of course a boxing week sale! I had fun browsing and imagining all the things I could create, and I walked away with an arm load full of supplies, which will be a great start to my attempts to dabble in both mediums again!  Another unexpected gift from Jesus and the best date ever!

 Then, on to sushi :) I decided not to grab the cheap trays found at most grocery stores these days, with only 3 choices and a little dry even after only 4 hours sitting in their refrigerators. I went to one of the places I ordered from for my former employer and with their lunch special ended up paying only $2 more than I would have at a store. It was fresh and so very delicious. I literally spent every mouthful thanking Jesus for creating a culture that created sushi.

After that, it was time to start getting ready for the New Year's Eve date planned with hubby, but Jesus wasn't quite done with me yet :) A few hours later as Sean and I drove to get dinner the sky painted with one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen. What a perfect gift to end the most perfect date. What a perfect end to our separation and to the year 2014. Thank you Jesus!

The Good, The Bad, and The Good!

I started off 2014 with far fewer goals than in years past.

I didn't 100% accomplish any of them.

I'm totally ok with that :)

One of my goals was to improve photography creative skills with my phone camera.

It lasted all of 4 months.

I ended up taking way more Instagram photos than last year, including way more selfies which is not easy for me. Check them out at @Loriala77

One of my goals was to eat healthier, especially cutting out all my luxury food, baked desserts, chips, and drinking anything but water.

I cheated all but one month, and threw a few months of healthy eating out the window all together.

Last 4 months have been back on track, with new tools and resolve, and intend on continuing a highly reduced luxury food lifestyle. Also, will be donating $275 from my luxury forfeit project to donate to a clean water charity.

Goal to honor Sean, and start including 'undates' for more quality time together.

My week of blessing Sean around his birthday was interrupted by a wedding, only managed 4 days. And the intentionality of undates AND dates stopped, because I got too caught up in expecting what I wanted from them, not treating them like a time of connection.

When I stopped trying to plan dates altogether, Sean surprised me by picking up the ball and taking ownership for initiating both dates and undates the rest of the year!

Plan for continued minimization, trying to declutter life and especially my home.

In a whole year, still haven't completely emptied and got rid of the craft room I no longer use. Also didn't shop as much at thrift stores as I'd have liked to.

I have sold about 80% of my craft supplies, and made a plan for a new, small, creating nook upstairs, and whatever cannot fit into that from the old craft room will be donated somewhere. I did one month wearing one article of clothing again, this time a sweater, and absolutely no clothing purchases that month.

God planted new purposes in me over the last few months of 2013 and laid one in front of me Jan 2014, leading a support group for infertility.

3 women showed up, once each, one looking to help the ministry, not for support. Group cancelled.

God directed me to school to start my journey towards becoming a counsellor! He also laid on my heart to create and lead a study for young women, transitioning into adulthood and spiritual maturity. And just in the last week He opened a door to co-lead a support group for women where the leader is a professional therapist and I can learn sooooo much from her!

I don't think I recorded this as a goal, but creativity is always on my heart and I'm always looking for ways to work out my inspirations in art.

Photography was not the end result of this endeavor this year as I had hoped.

I started collage painting again, even putting them up for sale! I also ended the year picking up sketching and water painting again, thanks to a convo with my sis Tami. Haven't done either in 16 years but love it! Here is my second sketch in as many weeks.

Began the year on a fertility drug I hoped would finally be the answer.

It was not and reaked havoc on my body. Also, felt God asking me to release every form of control in trying for a baby. None of it has worked in almost 9 years, I should place every bit of it in His hands.

For the most part, the 4 months I have stopped tracking of any kind have been the most peace filled months of trying I have had yet (not including the last 2 weeks of December :( ).

I began the year determined to fight for my hope and my faith.

I was indeed actually fighting a battle for this all year long. Felt like a failure at getting closer to God most of the year.

I realized I had to fight for my faith first, not my hope. Time with Jesus, like Jesus dates, and devotionals, and Bible studies, and becoming a more intentional disciple are my top priorities this coming year!

All in all, I may not have accomplished my goals set out for 2014 but accomplished much more actually.

'The human heart plans it's course, but the Lord determines our steps.' Proverbs 16:9.

Friday, January 2, 2015

In With The New 2015

Over the years I have described times of emptying, where I felt like my life was being emptied, or even that my own self was being emptied, and while I knew it was in order to be filled again, that feeling of having a void is not a comfortable one.

But with every emptying I had felt I was given something to fill me back up again.

Hope. Love. Purpose. Friendship.

And I was good.

For a while.

I wondered why the emptying feeling had to keep coming back though.

Why couldn't I just stay filled and satisfied?

Each time I chose to seek out God.

To ask why. To request a refill. To sustain me. To show me what I need to do.

Please Lord just fill me again, whatever that takes.

2014 was another emptying year.

Everything seemed to ebb more than flow.

Hope. Love. Purpose. Friendship.

With every subtraction in my life I grew more and more needy.

My focus became more and more about how to get the refills.

I spent so much time this year impatient and demanding.

I asked God first for the refills.

Then I tried it my own way.

Then I went back to God, pleading to be filled.

I got angry at God for leaving me so empty.

The more I concentrated on filling the void the bigger it became.

It was like a black hole, the more of my focus it ate, the bigger it grew.

As I thought about 2015, what it would hold, what years beyond this could hold, I realized the void could remain for a long time yet to come.  I realized even if I got what I wanted, there could still be a void.  Even in the best moments of 2014 there was still a void.

That's when it hit me.

Each time I've been emptied, it was to make room for God.

It's a hole that can never be filled with anything but God.

Each time I started to fill it with God.

But then I began to fill it with promises of the life He wanted to give me instead.

But the life He wants to give me will only result from filling up on Him.

Even though I turned to Him each time, it was not for the sake of relationship, but in order to receive.

Somewhere last year my desperation derailed me and His gifts became the priority instead of his presence.

So. 2015, you lie before me a blank slate in so many ways.

I have no idea where you will take me.

You may take away just as much as you give, or more.

But this year, I will not be emptied.

My only priority is to fill the void.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...