Many years ago, before I experienced the Road Adventure Seminar, I had come to a place in my life, that had caused me to question my relationship with God. I determined that I was better off out in the world on my own, rather than trusting in a God that I felt never showed up when I needed Him.
In complete hurt, disappointment and anger, I walked outside one night, looked up into the sky and said Goodbye to God. I told him that, while I believed in Him, I just didn’t want to be in a relationship with Him anymore and that I would never call on Him again.
I describe my life at that time as being on an Island. I’d recently gone through all the legal drama with my dad and his trial. (see my story on “Mental Illness” and “My Brother Paul”) I’d lived several years without my brother, but still hadn’t fully processed my grief so life for me felt very lonely and isolated. Part of my personal makeup, is that I tend emotionally, to be very self contained. Even my closest friends had little idea of the pain I was feeling at that time. I’m not sure how I became so guarded with my feelings or why I have always been so reluctant to share my pain when I’m hurting but it is a trait I struggle with even now.
During that time, my friends and acquaintances came and went who needed my help, which I freely gave, but I never felt like there was anyone for me to lean on. The few times I tried to reach out, I got hurt. My way of coping, when a person asked how I was doing was, to be light hearted about it rather than dealing with my feelings. So, I stayed on my Island. OH, and I blamed God for it.
I went along for a few weeks until a friend of mine encouraged me to go to The Road Adventure. This program is much like the Boot Camp and was run by the same people. I’d been asked to attend more than once by several friends but never made the time. I decided that, so long as it wasn’t religious, I would attend and maybe get some tools for a positive way to live my new life without God. I smile now as I write this because I sound like such a drama queen, but at the time, I was determined that God had let me down once too often and I was done with Him.
Then, I went through The Road Adventure. My life changed so dramatically that it is hard to explain. I was able to forgive God for “my perception” that he hadn’t been there for me. I was able to truly forgive my brother, though I had done it several times before. I forgave my dad, I forgave everyone! I’ve never been the same.
During the seminar, there is a process where you write the new definition of YOU. They’re called Contracts…….and I was stuck. The Directors explained the benefits of forgiveness and that if we perceived hurt, then our story, whether real or merely perceived was our reality. One of the things they explained was that forgiveness did not require a restored relationship with someone. For example, I could forgive my ex, but not reconcile the relationship. I was frustrated because while I knew I needed to forgive the abandonment that I “perceived” from God, I did not want to return to a relationship with him. But I couldn’t figure out how to define myself without God.
Jim Carroll stood across from me and role played God. I challenged him as to why forgiving God wasn’t enough? Why did I have to reconcile the relationship when I already felt so much better by just forgiving Him? God, (Jim) explained how He loved me and how He wouldn’t take away my free will by forcing His way into my life. Jim explained that because of the free will I had, the next step to take was mine and not His (God’s). You can’t imagine the fear in my entire body when He stood there with his arms out and asked me to trust, just one more time. I knew in my heart I’d never really be where I needed or wanted to be in my life if I didn’t let God back in. When I finally took that step, my heart broke, my fear dissolved and I again, I knew that God love me and that I needed Him.
I don’t pretend to claim that I understand God and His ways. In fact, I’ve let Him know many times that I was outraged at an outcome that I didn’t think happened as it should have. But as time goes by, I see his plan play out and I know he truly is working all things together for my good. I know He must sit in Heaven wondering why He gave me so much stubbornness and independence; I wonder it myself sometimes. Why is it so hard for me to trust? Why is it so hard for me to let people get really close to me?
So began my journey off the Island. The picture above should explain how it went for a while. I’d take trips off the Island from time to time, but home and safety still meant isolation for me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a very social person and my calendar is always full, but emotionally, it has always been a battle to let people in. It is something I struggle with still. When I hurt, I swim against the current, until I’m exhausted, to get back out to my Island where I feel safe. Some of my efforts to be “open” to others include things like directing seminars, sharing my life stories with others and even in writing this blog.
If you’re like me and you shut down or shut others out, I can tell you that you will only find the answers to life when you’re willing to be open! Openness has been my theme since those days some 10 years ago. Sometimes I forget and start swimming but I have learned that I won’t grow, if I’m on my Island. Life is a risk. Living sometimes means getting hurt. So what? Being alive and getting hurt can’t be any worse than living in emotional isolation with a full calendar.
So will you open your life up to others? I always say that the dumb thing about putting up walls is that they don’t keep us from getting hurt they just make us hurt alone! If you have walls up, you know that you’re hurting anyway.
Take it from an A-number-1 Island girl…………get out there and live! When you get hurt……GROW!