Be Brave When the Winds Blow

Mutable: subject to change; inconstant

The annual summer concert in the park, played by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, was in peril of not happening because of Georgia’s wavering weather!

A close friend and I had planned a day out in Atlanta to visit a cat cafe (that’s its own story. Haha) and stay out there for a summer concert at which we’d meet up with other friends. I mass texted several friends a few weeks prior, inviting them to the concert, but every time I looked up at the sky, my heart constricted in worry.

Why does there have to be so many clouds!? The weather forecast went from a 70% chance of rain to a 40% chance and now it’s climbing back up again! Was that thunder or an airplane? What if rains out and cancels our plans? Those clouds look really dark…

I’m not even a worrywart, but these thoughts kept plaguing me while I patiently listened to my friend share about her heart matters. I decided enough was enough and that we’d brave it.

After parking and making our way to the lawn where the concert would be, I was feeling optimistic. Granted, the sky didn’t look breezy and beautiful, but a lot could happen in two hours before the start of the concert.

A friend joined us 30 minutes later and with him, brought ominous looking clouds. The winds gained speed, the trees wildly danced, and my heart sunk. Mr. Friend annoyingly pulled out his fancy, virtual weather map and talked knowingly about the direction of the gathering storm. I looked out at the lawn where other spectators had arrived early to claim a spot; some were hurriedly gathering their belongings to flee.

It started to drizzle and then rained steadily.

*looks at phone* 6:15pm. A lot can happen in an hour and fifteen minutes…!

People were wrapping themselves in their picnic blankets and tarps. We jokingly discussed hiding out under the already set-up stage. Or watching the brewing storm through the window of a nearby building. We chose to stay and be brave.

After some time, the weather subsided and the concert wasn’t rescheduled after all. I looked up at the sky during the onset of the live music and noticed the left portion of the sky was blue with light gray clouds and the right side was cloaked in dark, stormy clouds. And you know what? It stayed like that the entire time.

The music played on and we had a blast!

I suppose it does pay to commit and be consistent when your circumstances seem undesirable and flaky, eh?

~Lina Marie

 

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Humorous Intentions Gone Sour

Gauche: tacky, graceless, tactless, rude, boorish, or awkward and foolish

I’ve always struggled with discerning the fine line between conveying information and oversharing personal information. I’m not a reserved person and though I’d hope to not have secrets or embarrassing moments shared freely among friends, I genuinely enjoy people asking about my life, because I’m as nosey as they come (it has gotten better, most assuredly). I don’t share people’s deepest, darkest secrets, but we all have different boundaries of privacy and security.

This past week, a thoughtless incident reminded once again of the need for tact and social graces, especially among people in the same circles. A friend shared with me a joke this person knew I would find funny. It was about someone else, but not in a way that was degrading or backstabbing, but related to something we’ve discussed and this person knew exactly what to say to pique my interest and get under my skin in a playful way.

I casually mentioned the essence of the topic to the person of interest thinking this person would laugh. This person didn’t and was quite flustered, because it was annoying and something this person had made statements about disliking. If something isn’t directly and firmly spoken to me, sometimes I don’t get the hint and forget that I need to be thoughtful in not only what I share but in what someone would find funny.dsc_8539

The simple, shared statement turned into heartfelt (and not the sentimental heartfelt) texts which morphed into two long phone calls and me feeling thoroughly embarrassed. I’m not good with guilt and didn’t sleep well that night, even after receiving forgiveness (sometimes negative emotions linger). I’ve dealt with situations like this before, but it still took some emotional stamina not to cry or entertain less-than-edifying thoughts about myself.

All that to say, in hindsight, I keenly remembered and realized the need to value what others tell us in confidence or not. Relationships are built on trust and in learning what is meaningful to another person. It is not enough to explain away situations with justifications about your seemingly “insignificant” role but take to heart that we don’t often realize how our words sting and could put someone in an unsavory light.

~Lina Marie

Hiding Exposes

Parry: to turn aside; evade or dodge

A sticky incident with a friend who chose avoidance rather than assertion reminded me of an unwise set of choices I made a year and half ago that backfired. Needless to say, it set the precedent for future change.

During my six-month internship at GE Energy Management, I showed up late, by choice, almost every day. On top of hardly liking being confined in an office, I didn’t see the point of being there eight hours a day when my work could get done in less. It seemed wasteful and unnecessary. {In hindsight, I realize this was stupid and selfish, and God knows what I was thinking.}

I was put on a fair remedial plan that lasted about a month. The requirements included showing up on time, having a one-hour lunch, showing up to SAYU (internship support) after a certain time. Easy stuff. It put me back on track and jolted me toGE Post Pic reality that I could easily be fired. This wasn’t school, and I wasn’t surrounded by people who knew and trusted me for years.

My boss said after the expiration date of this contract, we’d have a meeting to process and assess. In my head, I did pretty well. In order to save face and protect my feelings (all of this was a kind of awkward and embarrassing…), the day after the end of the contract, I sent her an email stating it was the end, I had done well, and stated my new work hours. I breathed a sigh of relief and resumed working. It’s so much easier to hide behind a screen. All was well!

Or so I thought.

I received a meeting request from her that morning that seemed ominous. My mouth went dry mostly because I was nervous if I met the contractual agreements in her eyes. Turns out she was completely peeved by my audacity and fear.  This meeting could have merely been about my remediation. On top of an already embarrassing factor, I further humiliated myself by the way I handled it: avoidance. I was a little intern with virtually no work experience stating to my boss, via email, about my decisions without her say-so? She was my authority and contained the power to decide my fate. I didn’t give myself the chance to negotiate or process with her.

I should have swallowed my pride and fear, admitted to and apologized for my dreadful decision, and faced my fear with courage and humility rather than thinking I could wiggle my way out of it. By focusing on how the sticky situation would make me feel, I made it about me; it wasn’t respectable nor mature. From that point on, I resolved within myself to face anything no matter the consequence. I’d receive the tears, disappointment, and correction from others. At the end of the day, even though it will be difficult, it only builds character and repute.

Although my boss had a reputation for being a mighty influence and force, praise God she gave me more chances than I deserved and understood I was still learning. We need people who are candid about our bad decisions even if it makes us feel uncomfortable. On the other hand, if we are recipients of evasive behavior from a loved one, friend, or acquaintance, we need to lovingly and firmly express our feelings about how it made us feel and offer constructive criticism for next time. Hiding and avoiding anything only builds up friction for the future and reveals inward motives, intentions, and character. For “better are the wounds of friends than the kisses of enemies.”

~Lina Marie

Little Valleys

For real valleys

Dysphoria: a state of unease or generalized dissatisfaction with life

Generally, I’m an optimistic, contented young woman that likes to leave a trail of warmth wherever I walk. Contrary to my nature, recently I’ve been inwardly bubbling with frustration, discontent, and melancholy that’s been hard to shake off.

Without giving too much detail, I’ve been having some interpersonal issues at my job, trouble with finding joy in the monotony of my daily routine, a personal friendship I’ve had to be patient and prayerful about, and College Algebra that’s been ferociously tackling and confusing me.

On top of all that, I’ve had to remind myself not to feel guilty about feeling down in the mouth. Oftentimes we can look around us and notice the abuse, pain, tragedy, poverty, starvation, and war and feel bad for even feeling bad when millions are worse off. Though we should always carry compassion toward those around, I should never feel bad about carrying negative sentiments, because I’ve been given a different lot in life that carries its own frustrations.

Anyway, everything has built up so thoroughly, on the way home from work the other day, I sobbed in the car. No, not the trickling tears that you quickly wipe away but the type of crying that completely blurs your vision and convulses your body.

While lying on my bed after another bout of sobbing, I told the Lord that I’m not sure why He still wants to use me for His glory and workings when I’m obviously so weak, prone to numbing sorrow, and quite frankly, not full of integrity. However, in that way of thinking lies danger, if I’m not careful to put things into perspective. Yes, this may be a little valley moment in my life, but I shouldn’t disqualify myself or give up based on what I think. That’s selfish and inherently foolish.

All throughout the Bible, we see stories of deceptive, wicked, weak individuals that God still used to carry out His purpose; no situation is beyond redemption in His book.

With a tear-stained face and a heavy heart, I swung by Chick-fil-a for dinner after work. Naturally, the cashiers and employees were all engaging and kind. One young lady and man struck up conversation with me, and though I generally dislike small talk, I chose not to wallow in my negative sentiments and instead chose to be attentive. Like taking a sip of coffee on a blistery, winter day, that human interaction lifted my spirits and made me realize that when we’re in emotional, downcast states, the best remedy is to turn our attentions to the plights, stories, and situations of others.

When we focus on ourselves, we become bitter, self-absorbed, and a ball of cynicism. When we turn our attentions outward, we find that peace, healing, and joy that was once elusive.

I’d be lying if I claimed things have turned peachy on this end. I’m still struggling but not without hope. I have to intentionally cultivate a biblical, positive outlook and remember that all is working out for my good. In the light of eternity, friendships, school, and work won’t matter, but how I stewarded God’s gifts, loved others, and became more sanctified will. That’s something to smile about.

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” ~John 14:27

~Lina Marie