Oy vey. Big questions. Have you heard of this? I have a lot lately and I am thankful it is now that I am faced with the notion of answering the hard questions, rather than five years ago because I would have ran even further in the other direction. For a person devout to their ways and not at all into evolving throughout the course of life, asking questions meant admitting I could be wrong, that I could not know it all and once again… be imperfect. LIKE, WHAT?!?! No thanks.
Now I say, “thank you and YES PLEASE” to big questions.
With every question I have asked, it has lead me to a confidence I would have never known otherwise. Due to my INCREDIBLE acting skills, people have always attributed my personality to being a confident one. Little did they know… well… little did I allow them to see, I was quite the opposite.
The three days I had per year where my life was neatly put together and I had all my bills paid, I was thin, I had worked out and cooked a meal – THEN I was confident.
But that was a false confidence, it was circumstantial.
After asking some important questions - I was left with an unwavering confidence I had never had before.
It was questions like, “What do I believe about God? Do I believe in God? What do I believe about myself? Was I created? Was I created specifically? How would I define myself? What do I believe I am on earth for? Is the way I treat myself and others out of a heart felt love or an obligatory love?”
Those questions unraveled to other ones that revealed others and the process will inevitably continue forever. I am so thankful for that, and so thankful for the confidence I have today. For the gift I was given of community and love in order to say yes to this process. To ask the big questions.
A lot of social beliefs changed, pretty much none of my foundational beliefs were left behind. The difference is, that I am confident in them now. I am confident that what I believe about life and God and others and myself is so true and SO real. It was not merely a thought handed to me, but one explored and debated and the reality of the GREATNESS of life and of each of us… the reality of LOVE being greatest – was what it came down to.
I am now convinced that the corridors of my heart are explored with feverish expectation when I explore them in love. In love with this world, with knowing others, with my Creator and myself. Not dictated by what I do, or even the love that I contain but that I AM HERE and I AM ME. I was created to be nobody else. I flourish in that place. The reality that we are all equal and can show up equally and fully; that the authority of that belief is something I hold tight to so that I can sit with people and declare the same.
The honor of knowing others is one of the greatest treasures in this world.
To hear your stories and your heart beat is something that is so raw, always depth filled and consistently leads me to the realization that we are so LOVED and so LOVEABLE. And that nothing could change that.
There is a quote that floats around that says something like; “I never knew a person up close and did not like them.”
You see, when people speak… when they tell their story, either they are speaking from pain or from joy. There is a place of empathy and compassion we can choose to hold for one another in that place. When we get to hear peoples’ heart – we get to bear with them in a new way. We get to bear pain with them, joy with them and ultimately – hold hands with them in this treacherous and glorious world.
A large part of the confidence I hold now, is not solely in myself – but in all of us.
That no one person is greater than the other.
I hope I can continually learn to show up, abandoning comparison, to live and show up fully in this beautiful world with all of you.
Perhaps you are ready for that, or you are thinking of stepping out of hiding. Some of you are light years ahead of me. To those that are right there with more or on the peak of being ready, there are some BIG questions I encourage you to ask:
What do I believe about life and WHY I am here?
How would I define myself?
TIP: Write about a friend, how do you describe them? Describe yourself as you would a friend. Do you describe the way you feel around them? The things they do? Their qualities and characteristics? Their personality? Do the same for yourself.
Now look at that definition… is it true? Is there any fear that lead you to write this narrative? Any past experiences that have scarred you to identify that situation as truth? Is this how others would describe you?
Now write a kind description of yourself, one that does not include what you deem as imperfect.
THIS is WHO you are. I have a friend that says; “people are not defined on WHAT they do, but rather WHO they are.” This changed my entire perspective of myself and others. So…
WHO are you? Write about that.
What are your biggest fears in life?
What is one thing you can do that opposes those fears?
I feared I would never have anything to do with foster youth, so I became a CASA for some time (I thought I could only be involved if I was married… I was always waiting – read about it ). I also feared I could not take care of myself and was incompetent, so I chose to live alone. You know… the small things ;)
What do I believe about humanity and other people in this world?
Be real about this. I used to think knowing others was a drag. More baggage, more distraction, more imperfection and more fixing. I mean, I knew the essence of life and they didn’t sooooo… (this is so sickening but really how I felt). If you are in THAT place, it is okay. Show up in it, be real in it. It is the only way to rise above it.
If you are not… be real about that too and CELEBRATE your journey you have had to get there.
What do you WANT relationships with others to look like in this world?
With your family, friends, significant others, random dates, co-workers? What does this look like to you? Is it one on one time, is it always party time? Is it quiet nights or fun filled ones? What questions do you ask one another? What is your encouragement to them? Where and HOW could you cultivate these relationships now?
My therapist asked me one time; What if you received love from others, the way they want to give it? When I thought about it, I was so relieved. In that place, I was at rest. I could truly listen to them and see how to give love back to them. I was no longer dependent on them loving me in a particular way, but out of WHO they are. I could now celebrate HOW they love. It lead to a greater love with others.
How do you want a relationship with yourself to look?
THE HARDEST OF THEM ALL. I always had this thought that building a relationship with myself was selfish. That I needed to be outward focused and THEN I would be filled up. Well, when I was living in a co-op in Oregon, the house Pastor had coffee with me and he told me; “Carissa, if you are not filled up – you can’t pour out.” It then took YEARS for me to embrace this, but I have finally realized this is true. That if I am not filled with kindness and thankfulness and joy and celebration over the life I have been given, of WHO I am, I won’t do that with others. This is the hardest part for me. Probably for all of us, but I celebrate doing my best everyday. That in every moment, I am doing all I can out of my state of being that day and that I AM ENOUGH. I was created enough and so are YOU.
WHAT do I want to do?
This question used to revolve around my career (in western fashion), after all, this greatly defined WHO I was. Now, it is that I want to show up fully everyday. In my mess, my greatness, my imperfection and the glory within. I want to show up in loving kindness and mindfulness. That is all. The days I don’t do that… there is just more room to grow in grace.
While you are answering these questions, THAT is what I hope you keep in mind. A grace for yourself. That you truly are doing the best with what you have. If what you have right now is pain, you are doing what you can out of that. If what you have is unremarkable joy, you are doing your best with that. No matter WHERE you are in this world or WHAT you do… WHO you are is YOU. So be kind to yourself, write nice things about yourself and if that changes your narrative, please let it. But YOU are so loved and YOU are so valuable. Every damn step of the way, sweet girl. From the BOTTOM of my heart (that is still working through all this as well).
P.S: What other questions would you ask? I AM DYING TO KNOW.