Your Voice is Different

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I’ve been scouring the web lately. Looking for encouragement, looking for advice, looking at people’s lifestyles, I think I’m trying to find my guide.

You know, a Yoda, a Haymitch, a Grandmother Willow. Someone who’s gone before, beaten the odds and accomplished what they set out for.

Surprisingly, instead I keep finding reasons to quit.

I thought I had something to offer the world and then I found Yoda and said, “The world already has you. I guess they don’t need me.”

Photo by Lord Mariser
Photo by Lord Mariser

A more personal example is this: I have these ideas stewing around in my brain and maybe I start jotting them down, or maybe I start testing them out with J or with friends and then, BAM! One of my favorite writers or speakers comes out and says EXACTLY what I’ve been wanting to say. And… they said it better.

There are so many great writers out there. They’re communicating what I want to, they’re living the lives I want to with the furniture I want and the pets I want and relationships I want and I go, “I want to be JUST like you!” But there this saying:

If you both are exactly the same, one of you is unnecessary.
So then I think I’m the unnecessary one, because people are already listening to my hero. He already has my audience.

First, now I’m wondering what my hero is thinking. “Am I the only one out there willing to encourage others? Am I alone in this fight? Won’t someone stand with me?”

The other thing is… I can never be exactly the same as anyone else. It’s actually ridiculous to think I am. It’s also ridiculous to try.

No matter how hard I try to be my hero, I won’t be. I’ll be different. We’ll disagree on something. I won’t have the same lifestyle, because I don’t like snow and I’m not into sports. I’m going to be different. I’m going to be ME, no matter how hard I try to be someone else I will always live in a different house, possibly a different city and definitely be married to someone else.

Which is why I’m here at this blog. I’m standing together with those who’ve gone before and embracing myself as much as I can.

Because I’m different, my voice is different. I have something to share.

Is there something or someone that causes you to think you’re voice is unnecessary? What has helped you realize you’re unique and you still have something to offer?

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Your Voice is Different

Change and Let Change

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My brother came and stayed the summer with me here in California last summer and we talked a lot about books and movies and characters and relationships and I loved every minute of it.

We talked like Donald Miller does about making our lives more meaningful the way they make movies more meaningful. My brother said something and it’s stuck with me. He said he had tried to get into a popular TV show and after a few seasons he realized why he didn’t like it. He said the characters never changed. He was actually kind of disgusted that the same things that plagued them in the first episode still plagued them. Not a single one of them grew in character or decision making at all. The show is Big Bang Theory and I’ve seen it a few times and was surprised he didn’t like it because everyone else I know has watched all ten seasons. And he’s an engineering student, so he should like the show. But even though he got all the jokes and had friends in his classes who were exact replicas of the characters, he didn’t like it. I think it’s because he wanted his friends to be able to grow and overcome their challenges. He wanted it to be an option for him to grow and become who he thought he could become.

Then he told me about a show he loved. I haven’t seen the show, but I want to because of the way he talked about it. It was How I Met Your Mother. Each of the characters started out one way and at the end they were a little less “that way”. Insecure to secure. Single to in a good relationship. Lonely to having friends. Irritating to endearing. Grouchy to comforting. It’s the kind of show he wanted to see.

We want people to change. Or at least have it as an option.

I’ve been processing a lot of my life lately and think back on the characters who have caused pain, discomfort, heartbreak and I think, “I’d really hate to see that person again. I definitely wouldn’t trust them the way I did before. I’m so glad I’m a different person today.”

I know I’ve changed. It’s so easy for me to see myself for who I am today, but I keep thinking of others as they were yesterday. What if they’re different people today, too?

IMG_1947
Photo by Death to the Stock Photo

Two years ago I did run into two of those people I didn’t want to. I was so nervous. But they were both different than when they had hurt me. It’s still hard for me to see their old actions as anything but hurtful. One was in leadership over me and had been controlling, manipulative, and devaluing.

He gave a really good effort to make things right with me. He looked me in the eyes and told me it was good to see me. Then he spoke directly to one of the ways he’d hurt me and told me he saw things differently. He didn’t grovel. He didn’t even apologize. But it was like he was telling me he wanted to be different. And, as foolish as it may have been, I believed him. I still don’t want to be around him everyday, or even once a month or year, but I believe the road he’s on is heading up.

I want to be free to be better tomorrow than I was yesterday and I guess I’m realizing in order for it to be possible, I have to extend the option to others. As long as I’m keeping others in their pasts, I’m stuck in mine.

I think this is what grace looks like practically. Showing grace to others is allowing them the freedom to be someone new–better–today than they were yesterday.

Change and Let Change

Take a Load Off -or- We Found A Church

Well, it’s a new year and we’re still here. Definitely time for another update since the last hard one. James and I made it through some busy holiday seasons at work and we’re glad for some time off to celebrate James’ birthday.
James is in the other room doing a rough draft recording one of the songs he’s been writing and I’m so excited about it. 
The first two weeks of this year have brought a lot of new insight and inspiration already. We sort of skipped the traditional reminiscing about the last year and setting goals around New Years, but it’s a conversation we have so frequently now, with our search for purpose and meaning. Talking about our goals in August, and October and November meant January 1 didn’t mean anything out of the ordinary.

Photo by Death to Stock Photo

The last Sunday of 2014 we went back to one of the last three churches still left on our list and we really enjoyed it. In a lot of ways the people there seemed to really be free to be themselves. There was hardly any “show” or that “look at how great we are!” that we’ve gotten really exhausted from. I didn’t feel like I’d walked into a fashion competition like many other churches we’ve visited. But there was a heaviness there that is hard to explain. Looking at their vision statement and their website there was a lot of weight on what we can do. I know it sounds kind of lazy for me to say, but I’m really no longer interested in what I can do. I can do a lot. I can completely exhaust and burden myself and get a lot done for Jesus, but when I read the Bible I just don’t think that’s what he wants for or from me. He really isn’t concerned with what I can do. So, reluctantly, we

crossed that church off our list.
The first Sunday in 2015 we tried one more new church we really wanted to like. But from the get-go we knew it wasn’t home. The sermon was, of course, that beginning-of-the-new-year “get your crap together” sermon. Unfortunately, we couldn’t agree with most of his sermon, because, Jesus is the only one capable of getting your crap together. I really liked the parts where he read from the Bible. But his sermon didn’t much relate to what the scriptures he was reading were saying. Sitting in that service I felt the Super Christian coming out of me. It’s my alter-ego and it says, “Because I have Jesus I AM capable of doing what the Bible says.” Instead of saying, “Because of Jesus’ love and his finished work, he calls me righteous even though I’m going to screw it up again. He will never love me more or be more pleased with me than he is right now.”
While we are finding freedom and joy and life in simply accepting God’s love and not trying to finish His work for him, it sure makes it hard to listen to pastors talk about how we need to focus more, try harder and pray more.
The third Sunday in January we went back to the first church we visited over a year ago.  After worship the pastor said, “I’m no longer impressed by Christians who show their passionate love for God. I used to see them and want to be like them. Instead now I’m in awe of God’s passionate love for me. I see it and I want to be with him more and more.” 
After church James and I looked at each other and said, “This is home.” The people seem a little dysfunctional, maybe crazy, and they don’t look or sound like “our people”, but instead of trying to show the world what they can do for God they are simply resting in God’s presence and the only thing they’re trying to do for Him is receive His love from Him. 
That is beautiful to us.
Resting in Jesus,
Take a Load Off -or- We Found A Church

Afraid of Getting Sucked Out

One of my all time favorite movies is “Hook” with the late Robin Williams. Especially the part where Jack, Peter’s son, says “You’re afraid you’re going to get sucked out.” Whenever I’m in a plane and there’s turbulence, I have this moment where I have to make my peace with God in a half-serious way. That I’m cool if he wants to take me home.

It only seems silly after the plane’s landed and I’m walking around in the food court of the terminal.

I realized I feel the exact same way about
difficult times in my life as well. Things I know won’t kill me, I still think will completely destroy me.

To me turbulence means you’re trying to get somewhere and just because the road is bumpy, it doesn’t mean you should turn back or that it’s the wrong road or the wrong timing.

-James

Afraid of Getting Sucked Out

Oh yeah, it’s a new year…

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2015 marks a very special year for me.

It’s the first time I’ve gone through January 1st without thinking I was entering a new year.

This is the first time, since I was old enough to know the difference, I have accidentally passed through the new year without considering my resolutions, without reflecting on the year before, without regretting, without wishing. I also woke up at 6:30 in the morning and I can tell you that hasn’t happened on a New Years Day in a long time.

January 1, 2015 passed like any other of the 364 days before it.

THERE ARE SOME NEW YEARS’ THAT I’VE WOKEN UP RELIEVED. RELIEVED THE YEAR BEFORE WAS FINALLY OVER.

Like 2006. I’d lost three friends, one to suicide, one to a motorcycle accident and one to health problems. I attended two other funerals to support friends. I’d lost a man I’d considered as a father for 15 years to scandal and deception. Last but not least, I’d been in my first relationship… and ended it twelve days before Christmas. I didn’t even get a pear tree. 2007 was a welcome distraction.

THERE ARE SOME YEARS THAT I WISHED WOULDN’T HAVE HAD TO END.

2012 was one of those. I’d been married to my best friend for a year and a half and we were starting an adventure. We flew to Namibia, Africa on January 21. When I told my friend we were going to Namibia, she laughed. I must be joking. She’d heard about Namibia in a TV show and in her mind I had just told her I was going to Timbuktu. I shook my head. No, my mother-in-law has been living there over three years, it used to be part of South Africa, but they gained independence about 20 years ago. Oh… :)

Photo by Death to Stock Photo
Photo by Death to Stock Photo

J and I discovered a side of ourselves and each other while we were there, then we came back to America with very little direction. So we took a road trip we’d always dreamed of. We stayed with our best friends in the world for a few weeks. More time than the four of us had ever gotten to spend together before…them being doctors. Then we took an epic trip up the east coast. Got to visit DC and Long Island before J found a job in Jersey. At the end of 2012 I thought our adventure had ended. 2013 was looking bleak.

J of course never leaves me wanting adventure, but when 2014 started I just kept thinking, if we want to have a family, we’re going to have to find a way to settle down without losing our adventure. I had never been so ready to start living. Continue reading “Oh yeah, it’s a new year…”

Oh yeah, it’s a new year…