Monthly Archives: May 2016

There is a Reason

After doing some thinking about what I wrote last time, I decided that my last post needed a follow-up.  A sequel.  I was just a tad bit judgmental, and it’s time for me to right my wrong.

I realize that the victim of my judgment was a fictional character.  I realize that writing another post about Finding Nemo may be overkill.  Even with these realizations, I am moving forward.

As a tribute to a character that I have grown to appreciate.  Marlin.

I promise this isn’t the beginning of a long string of Blog posts about my psychoanalysis of fictional Pixar characters.   There will not be a prequel, or a threequel, or anything else like that. It stops here.

With Marlin.

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Marlin is the epitome of the overprotective “helicopter parent”.  His life is ruled by his fears.  If there was ever a candidate for some anti-anxiety meds, it’s this guy.

He cannot move forward in his life because he is plagued by his past.  And consequently, he cannot let his son move forward in his life either.

The movie starts with a scene where we see a care-free Marlin having fun with a wife that he obviously adores.  They are about to have a family. They are coming up with names for their children, and dreaming of their seemingly bright future.

It is during this moment of great joy that something horrific happens.  Marlin’s wife is brutally murdered while she is trying to protect her children.  Marlin, in the process of trying to save her, is knocked unconscious.  He wakes to discover his wife and all of his children, but one, are dead.  He promises in this moment to never let anything happen to his one remaining child.

Fast forward a few years and we see a completely different Marlin.  A Marlin who is consumed with anxiety.   His son, who we learn was born with a birth defect, is grown and about to go to school for the first time. 

Fast forward a little bit more and we watch as Marlin’s son is kidnapped.  Again, Marlin is powerless and unable to stop this atrocity from happening.  He watches and can do nothing.

This fish is anxious, but it makes sense.  Doesn’t it?   He has been through an incredible amount of pain and suffering in a short period of time.  His wife and children were murdered.  His son has been stolen from him. The entire movie is about him trying to find his kidnapped son, while encountering one dangerous situation after another.  This is a petri dish for anxiety.

There is a reason he behaves the way he does.

Until we know somebody’s story, we may not know why they behave the way that they do.  Like Marlin, there is probably a reason.  A reason that they are angry.  Or scared.  Or sad.  Or anxious. Or over-protective.

It isn’t our job to judge. Judgment does not help a situation. Instead of offering judgement, offer love. Offer encouragement. Offer to meet people in their pain and suffering.  Offer to love them where they are.

That is what Dory does for Marlin.  We all need a little Dory in our lives.  Someone who helps us to move forward when we are afraid of what lies ahead.

And it always helps when we are able to recognize when somebody has been through a lot in life.  It is helpful when we can come along side them, while allowing them the time and space to heal.

I went through a period of time in my life, years ago, when it was hard for me to move forward from my past.  I was afraid that if people knew who I was, or the choices that I had made, that they could not possibly love or accept me.

Over the course of time, God has taken away those fears.  I have come to realize that His love for me never changes.  I have also come to realize that not everyone will like me. Some people may judge me for past choices I have made, and that is Ok. I am not ruled by the fear of what people may think of me.  I am no longer consumed by my past. It is a part of me. It is a part of my story.  It does not define me.

We all have a story.

We all have bad things happen in our lives. We all make bad choices.  It is part of living in this fallen world.

The next time I encounter someone who seems a little bunched up and Marlin-like, I hope I remember to offer them a smile and a word of encouragement.  I hope I remember to say a little prayer for them.  I hope I remember that I have not walked a day in their shoes and have no idea what they have been through, or may be going through.  I hope I can be like Dory and encourage them to just keep swimming. I hope I can remember that there is often a reason that people behave the way that they do.  I hope I will always love people in their Marlin-moments. Because that is how I would want to be treated.  And my next one may be right around the corner.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Just Keep Swimming

 

I believe that Dory, from Finding Nemo, is one of the most endearing characters of all time.  She is eternally optimistic.   Repeatedly, she finds herself in very difficult situations.  She suffers from short-term memory loss and her traveling companion, who she is with 24/7, is a pessimistic fish named Marlin who suffers from severe anxiety.

What she endures would cause many fish to throw in the towel, but she does not.  She keeps moving forward.

One of my favorite scenes from the movie is when Dory is faced with another seemingly impossible situation, and her response is to sing.  She sings as she swims into the darkness.  She sings and believes.  She believes that everything will be Ok.

“Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming.  Just keep swimming. What do we do? We swim. Swim.”

She does not know what is ahead of her, and cannot remember what is behind her.  Unlike Marlin who is paralyzed with fear because of the memories from his past, she is fully present in the moment. She does not move with fear. She moves with confidence. With faith. With joy.

I feel like I can learn a lot from Dory.

The past couple months of my life have been busy, to say the least.  I have felt like I was moving from one thing to the next at warp speed with no time to breathe in between.  I was getting a little bunched up and Marlin-like.  It was hard for me to be in the moment because I was consumed by what was ahead of me, and a long list of what-ifs.  What if I can’t get this all done? What if it doesn’t work out as I had planned?

When someone would say, “how are you?” I would inevitably list off all of the things that were going on.  I would list off the things that I needed to accomplish in that day.   I’m not sure how that answers the question, “how are you?” Other than tired and maybe a bit over my head in commitments.

I often say that I feel like, with four young children and all that comes with raising a family, I cannot think past “the next big thing.”

When I say “the next big thing” I mean the next vacation, or Birthday, or holiday.  I cannot be working on too many things at once. There is just not a whole lot of extra time and energy left at the end of the day.  Just the regular events that happen on a daily basis are enough in and of themselves.  I have learned it is best for me to stay present in the moment focusing on the tasks at hand, while also working on “the next big thing.”

But what happens when each weekend is filled with “the next big thing?”

It seems that what happens is I rattle off lists to every person who makes the mistake of saying “how are you?”

And I break out in hives.  Yep. Hives.

I actually am still breaking out in the occasional hive.  I’m not sure if I was just so stressed that my immune system went haywire, or if I am actually allergic to something.  I will find out next week when I have my allergy testing done.

What I found in the past months of being all hivey, stress-bally, and overly-listy, is that this seems to be a predicament that many people find themselves in.  As soon as I was finished rattling off my to-dos, many of my friends would list off their to-dos.  It seemed that myself, and many people I knew, were drowning in piles of to-do lists.

So, what do we do in these moments of being pulled in too many directions?

I can choose to either be like Dory’s traveling companion Marlin who is constantly in a state of freaked-out panic, or I can be like Dory who sings her way through life.

When I do as Dory says and “just keep swimming,” I will often find a wonderful gift from God awaiting.  When I stay in the moment without fretting about what is ahead, or focusing on what is behind, then I am at peace.  During the painful times in life, and the busy times in life, and the times when it feels like I am drowning in my to-dos, there is always something wonderful happening too. Something to be grateful for.  Every day is filled with wonderful gifts from God.  It is just a matter of what I choose to focus on.

For me, during this busy time, the gifts came in the form of people that I love.

It was the joy of celebrating a friend’s upcoming marriage.

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It was the joy in seeing my daughter’s face during her Birthday party.

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It was the joy of watching our daughter play a sport she had been wanting to try for a long time.

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It was the joy of having family at our house on Easter Sunday.

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It was the joy of being with family on a short vacation over Spring Break.

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It was joy of making the trip to our college town to spend the day with great friends.

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It was the joy in standing next to a dear friend as she said her vows.

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It was the joy in seeing the look on my daughter’s faces when they saw their new rooms.

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The many nights of staying up late to complete tasks ultimately ended with great joy. It was worth it.

Now, I don’t recommend moving at this pace often.  It would not be healthy to be that busy all of the time. But sometimes, because of life’s circumstances, it is inevitable.  Sometimes you get life on steroids.

Slowly, over the past couple of weeks, things have started to calm down at our house.  We are slowly getting back to normal.  And at the end of the craziness, God gave Pat and I an unexpected gift. We were able to take a short trip to Florida together.  It was a time of rest and relaxation.  A rainbow after a storm of frenzy.   It was exactly what we both needed.  We were able to push the reset button.

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Oftentimes, if we “just keep swimming” we will swim into something completely beautiful, and unexpected.  We may get a little Marlin-like along the way, but that’s Ok.  That is where grace comes in. We are all works in progress.  I hope as I grow older, and wiser, that I will become a little more like Dory and a little less like Marlin.  A little more able to trust. And believe. And move forward with joyful confidence.  In my experience, some of the roughest waters I have swam through have lead me to the most wonderful places.  I always need to “just keep swimming.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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