The evening was warm sticky-like as she and I stood there talking about serious personal matters. With intention I had engaged her in this conversation knowing she would be able to help me. Prior contact with each other had been minimal so it was the initial stage of forging a connection with her. In my church, this woman seemed to be the only lady that I thought had the tools to help me, someone who had "been there, done that." This is why I sought her out that night, in the privacy of the outdoors as people were leaving after the church's evening service. I had heard this woman speak about her past with its damage to her emotional health, and I knew about the miracle that came when God transformed her wounded self into a woman after God's own heart. I knew her insights were borne out of terrible scars from an abusive unpleasable parent who had mistreated her during her growing-up years. As an adult she found Jesus. In a slow deep-seated process, she had turned her ways and life over to Him, clinging to His everlasting arms. We couldn't have been more different.
She-- casual, expressive, self-taught, non-assuming, in the background, and easy to laugh.
Me-- formal, reserved, graduate level educated, in the front leading, and easy to smile.
I needed something from her that night. We delved in. I asked the questions. She answered them with candid frankness. Kind in her expressions, laughing with a quiet chuckle to ease the severity of the truth as it was delivered and then accessed by me. Somehow I knew she wouldn't disappoint, judge, or go over the top with advice and reacting. A few years older than myself, this woman had come to terms with emotional battles and had found a way to victory. I wanted that for myself, and I wanted to understand why people who are emotionally damaged often continue to emotionally damage the very people who love them the most. My family and I were going through a lot and I was hopeful for more perspective on emotional issues. I did not understand what I was dealing with or how to view emotional constructs.
When the mosquitoes began to pester, she and I decided to sit in my car, our conversation continued on unabated, the flow rich and deep. Her husband waited patiently in his truck, never coming over to interrupt us. He must have sensed that this was important. The evening wore on but we kept on talking while watching the sky turn from blue to inky indigo, sitting there in the church parking lot with the steeple of the white century-old church towering over us and a huge black walnut tree next to us becoming a black silhouette in statuesque beauty.
That day I found some answers that I needed because this woman cared enough to take time to share her life-lessons. Later on, we would exchange follow-up emails to each other to keep our contact flowing. Yesterday I went in search of these nuggets of truth I gleaned from our conversations. I found them written in a journal from 2003. This woman helped me to see that my purpose is to love unconditionally even if I am not loved in return. I appreciated her view on responding and reacting. This became helpful to me when I found myself frustrated with people in my life. The following list contains ideas she shared with me in our conversations.
- How can we help those who don't know how to love? Love them unconditionally.
- We are not responsible for what's down the road and around the bend.
- How do we respond to people pushing our buttons? Respond with "Okay." (I heard you), not with reaction or scolding.
- How we choose to react or respond to a situation may determine whether we will get a positive or negative outcome. Learn to differentiate between the two. Using an analogy, we either react or respond much like our bodies react or respond to medicine.
- Respond - like taking medicine that works well, there are no complications. It does what it should do, it responds to the medication. Responding is a positive.
- React - it does what it should do but also causes a bad reaction that is not good, it reacts to the medication. Reacting is a negative.
- A Good Response - "Okay. This is what got done now. What can we do to finish the rest?" etc.
- A Negative Reaction - "You should have washed the dishes! (You shouldn't have played video games all day!) You know I'm busy," etc.
Learn more about, woman to woman--voice to voice, sharing of personal stories in this new book by Jo Ann Fore.
When a Woman Finds Her Voice provides many illustrations of life circumstances that are poignant and genuine.
This book shows by example the importance of one woman reaching out to other women through the offering of acceptance and openness at a time when it is needed most.
Available for purchase. Amazon Book Link is HERE
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