The Rose

It was late that night, probably around midnight.  I had just gotten home from work.  Exhausted, I dropped my purse on the floor and fell on the couch.  My kids had been tucked into bed by their grandparents, yet again.  As an overwhelmed, lonely, single mother, I sat in silence in the dimly lit living room of my small apartment.  “How can I continue to do this anymore?”  “How can I face another day?”, were just a couple of the questions being mulled over in my mind that night.

As thoughts and questions regarding many details of my life intensified, tears began to spill over their boundaries and streamed down my cheeks.  I tried to stuff down the emotion that I felt welling up, but it was a force so powerful that night that it erupted from some deep, unfamiliar place.  Tears turned to agonizing sobs that had me doubled over in pain.  I don’t know how long it lasted but it seemed like hours.  There finally came a moment of emptiness, silence once again.  An almost eerie clarity of thinking had returned.  My questions had a simple answer.  A very matter of fact voice whispered, “End it all.  Why try anymore?  You “can’t” do this anymore!”

Thoughts like this had entered my mind, previous to this particular occasion.  They were always quickly squelched by the realization that my son and daughter needed their own mother.  This night, the dark side of my soul overshadowed any sense of good judgment.  Something sinister had found its way in to my decision making process that night.  The decision was made.  Something evil had me planning the least painful, surefire end to my misery.

If you are wondering how I found myself in this place, here is the nutshell version.  I wasn’t even thirty years old at the time, but had already been divorced twice from abusive, alcoholic spouses.  I worked long hours trying to support my two children, but it was never enough.  I couldn’t pay all of the bills.  I received no child support.  I was tired from the dead end relationships that I did have and I was tired of always needing help from my family.  No one seemed to care enough to know or understand what I was feeling.  Of course there were lots of details that further complicated all of that, but the bottom line was, “I” wasn’t enough of what I felt I needed to be.  I saw no hope for anything to change.

Empty of emotion, satisfied that the firmly settled plans for my short lived future were in the works, I headed to the kitchen for a drink before I went to bed.  There on the kitchen table was a single rose, left by my mom and dad.

You have to know, my parents were an amazing support to me during this time.  They watched my kids while I worked, got them off to school, fed them, bathed them, made sure the homework was done and tucked them in on nights I had to work late.  I don’t know what I would have done without my parents during that season in my life.  Yet, even with that support, they had the role that I wanted to have in my kid’s life.  I wanted to be the best mom in the world and I didn’t fit my own picture of what that should have looked like.  The weight of guilt that I carried from that, in itself, was unbearable.

Thankfully, the stove light was on and I was able to see that there was something on the table.  I picked up the rose and admired its beauty and sweet scent.  There was a note that had been lying underneath the rose.  The message was simple.

“We are proud of you.  Love, Mom and Dad.”

The stream of tears began to trickle down my cheeks once again.  This time, the tears seemed to come from a different place, a place of life and hope.  Of course, I questioned, “How can this be true?”  “What had I done to make them proud of me?”  I only saw failure, yet they saw something different that made them proud.  They saw some thing in me that I was unable to see.  Maybe they saw that I was able to do this.  Maybe they saw that there was hope for my future.

I felt a new strength rise up in me that night.  It was a strength that brought true peace.  It was ever so slight, but it was life giving, not life taking.  That rose and the power of the love it represented brought light that overpowered the dark thoughts I’d had.  It was a “God moment” and God timing at its best.  I was able to go to sleep that night with renewed hope.  I had no answers, but I knew I could make it another day.

Thank you, Mom and Dad.  I don’t think you ever knew.

I love you!

The take away from my story, never underestimate the power of the love that is behind the simplest gestures that we make to show it.  Never underestimate the power of the love that is shown to you by the people in your life.

Who has been trying to show love to you through simple things?  What kind gestures has someone shown you that gave you hope to go on?  Who can you show a little love to today?

You Are Beautiful

“You are so beautiful!”  Yeah, I’m talking to you, YOU, the person reading this.  I don’t care if you’re a woman or a man, young or old, short or tall, large or small, a natural beauty or one that needs a little help.  You are absolutely, undeniably beautiful, right where you are, right now.  Your hair may be undone, you may still be in your jammies, you may be unshaven and in desperate need of a shower.  Do you believe me when I tell you that you’re beautiful?  Do you have an excuse as to why you won’t accept what I am telling you?  What is it with us?  Why can’t we accept ourselves as beautiful people?  Why is it so difficult to believe it when someone tells us that, or is it just me?

I’m not quite sure when my misconceptions regarding beauty started.  Maybe it was when I was very young and realized that I did not look like my Barbie doll.  I certainly didn’t have the same vivacious curves that her body had.  My hair was not long and lush.  Straight, thin and stringy was more like it.  I don’t think I can blame TV, as we really didn’t watch a lot of TV when I was growing up.  I certainly didn’t acquire a bad body image from Ms. Bea on The Andy Griffith Show or Minnesota Fats who played pool on our black and white TV every Saturday night.  (No cable then!  Can you believe it?)

I do know that somehow I got the impression that makeup was very important.  So much so, that I started sneaking to apply it each morning on the school bus, before I had the parental blessing to wear it.  I was given a set of electric hair rollers as a Christmas gift in 6th grade and have been using them almost daily ever since.  Not many have seen me without makeup or hair done, and I am not saying how many years ago that started.

My husband has always been so good about complementing me.  I don’t know if a day goes by that he does not say something like, ‘You’re so beautiful” or “You just get better looking every day”.  His pet names for me are “cutie” and “hey sexy”.  The sad thing is that, for many years of our marriage, his compliments were laughed at or shrugged off.  I refused to hear and believe that he truly meant what he said, each and every time he said it.  Why is that?

Prior to my first pregnancy, I only weighed 98 lbs.  A few months into the pregnancy made me look just fat.  I couldn’t wait until I could wear maternity clothes and people would know that I was pregnant and not just gaining weight.  I was horrified when the doctor mentioned the possibility of a C-section and someone told me that I would never have a flat stomach again.  I am embarrassed to admit that I actually shed tears over that.

Many years have passed since the first pregnancy.  I’ve moved on to grand kids now and I haven’t gotten any better at handling the appearance issues I apparently have.  I’m not going to point out specific flaws, because I am sure you will be starring at them next time you see me.

Over the last few years, I’ve had to start using glasses for reading.  Of course, due to my own vanity, I would never wear my glasses all of the time, only for reading.  Broken down a bit, that means I never wore glasses on my restroom trips where there were mirrors.  It was a nuisance to have glasses on and off all day at work, so I finally got contacts this past spring.  I was blown away when I went into restrooms with the contacts.  I had more wrinkles than I had noticed before.  I realized that I had been deceived into believing that I looked younger than I do because I had not been seeing clearly.  How disappointing to find out that I do actually look my age!  (Not giving that up either.)

I believe that our culture has sold us short when it comes to seeing true beauty.  You’ve heard it said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and that is certainly true.  While one may find beauty in a field of flowers, another finds beauty in desert cactus.  One finds beauty looking at a models gorgeously made up eyes.  Another finds beauty by looking deeply into their loved ones eyes, whether they are made up or not.

We’ve been talking outward beauty, but what about inner beauty?  Human nature is very quick to make judgments on first appearances.  I don’t think that we even take the time to try to recognize beauty inside a person if we don’t like what we see at first glance.

My challenge today, is to allow ourselves to seek after, accept and esteem the beauty all around us.  I’m not talking about just outward beauty, but what’s inside every person.  I’m talking about taking the time to stop and smell the roses.  Not only do we need to look for the beauty in others, but we need to accept the beauty in ourselves.

Beauty lies hidden because the vessels that hold it refuse to believe that it’s there.

Wonderful things are being held prisoner by deceptions

that we have allowed to prevail over what is true and real.

Choose to wear glasses that give you clear vision of what’s beautiful around you.  There is someone in your life that loves you and thinks you are beautiful.  There is someone who loves those around you that you might not particularly care for, but there is beauty there.  Don’t miss it.  Don’t allow beauty to pass you by.

“If you could only see yourself through my eyes,

You’d see how much you mean to me and how beautiful you are!”