Posts by Linda Sharon Connelly

Email me at LindaSharonConnelly@gmail.com for freelance writing services in the South Florida area. Follow me on Twitter @writerconnelly Instagram @lindasconnelly

Sacred Spaces

I grew up watching Mr.Rogers Neighborhood. Along with other PBS shows. Shows that I am convinced shape who I am as with much as my family and the books I read as I grew up.

When I think of Mr. Rogers, I think of the verse below.

“Love your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew 22:37-39

In this age of instant judgment and defensiveness, this kind of love is scandalous. The reality of Mr. Rogers message is that he was as scandalous too. Wearing his cardigan sweater and soothing voice, he taught many how to care and love.

Watch an episode and you see him taking the time to listen to his guests and understand them. He took his time with things and people. Especially children.

I recently watched the documentary Won’t you be My Neighbor, listened on the audio book The Small Faith of Mr.Rogers by Amy Hollingsworth and am in the middle of the new Rogers biography The Good Neighbor (The Life and Work of Fred Rogers) by Maxwell King. Both-available on Hoopla.

One of the most fascinating things about him was his belief that the space between the screen and the audience was sacred ground. Imagine if this idea was endorsed today? That as we all have access to reach so many people to view that space as sacred?

How would this change how we engage with people? That the space where we post things and the person viewing it be considered sacred space? The words we use online whether to make a statement or to comment on something are revealing of our hearts.

That in fact one of the ways to love another is to also care how and what we post online. The same care we take of people in person. Engaging with people instead of simply trying to change their minds.

Fred Rogers understood that the sacred moments were in the small and overlooked. That they take place in the most basic, seemingly mundane moments are indeed sacred.

For myself it has meant being less reactive online. Taking my time to respond if I choose to respond at all. I don’t have a well loved television show as Mr.Rogers did but I do have my small space here and hope to use it well.

Almost 40 and Single

I used to think it would be a tragedy of sorts to be nearly 40 and single. That if not married or at least in a serious relationship then somehow I’ve failed as an adult. After all the narrative I was told was that happiness only came from finding the one to live life with.

But what is not spoken of as much is JOY. Happiness is fleeting and runs away from the shadows of life. Joy, however sticks around. Joy is there for the long haul and still there in the midst of hardships.

For a long time, I believed that marriage was some kind of reward. As if getting married was some statement of who I am deep down in my soul. That If I was good enough to warrant a partner in this life, that this was some stamp of approval.

I lived in this tension long after I became a Christian. It has taken me most of these past ten years to begin to understand how wrong I have been. Years of longing for something that wasn’t or isn’t meant for me just yet. Years of jealousy over others getting to have what I wanted. Believing that somehow I was lacking because I didn’t have a mate.

This was the way I lived. At least, until I started to believe that love is greater than the small box I had placed it in. Instead, Believing in the enormous, unending love of God.

I understood that I am loved by God intellectually. The disconnect was with my heart and spirit. I kept turning away from what was right in front of me and towards my idol of marriage.

One of the breakthroughs began when I started to develop deeper friendships. Friendships that not only provided companionship but also pointed me to Jesus. One time, after having my heart hurt over some unrequited feelings I reached out to a friend. Instead of the comforting words I craved, she only said that she couldn’t help me. Only Jesus could.

Those words stung. I didn’t want to hear that. I wanted to be told how awesome I am, that it was his loss blah blah blah. In that moment I was hearing what I needed. I needed Jesus, full stop.

Through my tears in that moment, I cried out to Him. To be fair I have cried out many times since.

I’m grateful for my church and the real community they offer to all who want it. It comes with a price, being part of a community. It means being lovingly confronted at times. To pull back the mask and embrace the God who loves us.

I will be 40 next year, odds are I will also be single when I do. I no longer believe it’s a tragedy. The tragedy would be if I were still missing God’s love not only for myself but for all.

Single is a box I check on forms, not the entirety of who I am as a human being.

I am defined by who I am in Christ. I am the beloved daughter of Christ. I was thought of before the creation of the world. God created me to exemplify His love and holiness with my life.

If I never marry, I have the peace and love of Christ. If I do marry, I still have the peace and love of Christ. Either way I am blessed and that is what matters.

A Place to Call Home

Last May I moved into my own place. For the first time since my early twenties, I had my own door to close. I’ve shared homes with roommates and family but it still was not something I could call my own. I never believed it would be possible that I would have have my own home.

But God did.

So much of my growth have been the times that God forced the situation. Forcing me to look at Him in trust and provision. Because so often when I have looked at the situation from my perspective, it was impossible. From God’s perspective it was possible.

I have lived God’s provision in my life over and over again. Ten years ago I was in between jobs, with no savings and no idea what would come next. For months, as I looked for work somehow I managed to put gas in my car and eat. I gave my sister what I could for rent and took up cleaning and cooking for the household to try to make up for the deficit.

Eventually, I did find a job along with some side gigs and another part time job. It wasn’t perfect and I still struggled to get by most weeks. But I was getting by and God was working in me through that time. I needed to mature in some areas and learn how to trust more in others. Trust in Him that good would come from this season.

Last May I signed the lease to my place and handed over my deposit. I held those keys with a sense of awe and disbelief. I finally had my own place! A place to be filled with people and laughter. I didn’t bother to change out of my pajamas or make my bed the first time I had someone over for breakfast. I’ve discovered I enjoy having friends over!

I still have my moments where I still can’t believe that I actually live in my own place. I understand what a privilege it is to have a place. God provided it and I recognize that just as He provided it, it can be gone. Having a safe place to live is such a blessing. A blessing I don’t take lightly. I’m just so grateful.

My Health Journey

Six years ago I learned how to be healthier and that running isn’t the devil. But so much can change over time, mindset, metabolism, schedule and motivation. I’ve found what works for me, what foods or moods can trigger me. That just because I know how to make better choices when it comes to my health, it doesn’t mean I will or want to.

The things I have learned about my body over these six years are numerous. I will continue to learn more as I get older. I’ve learned what I don’t want just as much as what I want.

Why I Don’t Stress My Weight

It’s not that I don’t care that my weight is where it is today. At my “ideal ” weight, I was the least joyful. The process of losing weight was easier in some respects than maintaining my “ideal” weight. Losing weight, I had a goal to meet. It’s the same as when I did Whole 30, I also had a goal to meet in doing that. I do well with goals it seems, especially if they are public ones too.

But maintaining an “ideal” weight that in the end isn’t so ideal isn’t healthy either. Nor is letting my continued apathy towards where I am right now. How will this look in my life as discover new goals? I honestly don’t know yet. But I do understand better that ideal isn’t necessarily a number on the scale.

Where I am today and where I would like to be has a ways to go.

Lacking Motivation

I also lack the motivation to do what I need to do to get there. When I lost the bulk of my weight, I was doing two intense workouts a day, seven days a week (I learned later on about rest days). It wasn’t something that can be maintained in the long run.

I also don’t want to stop eating the way I have been. There, I said. It’s been a stressful time with my move and moving into a new role at work but it’s also been my choice. It’s not that I eat nothing healthy but ending each day with ice cream doesn’t help that.

A New Start

I know what I need to do. It’s about owning the choices I have made to get here. To understand why I have chosen to eat the way I have ( tastes good, makes me feel good, convenient).

Previously as I posted about healthy eating or a motivational picture, I was not always following my own advice. That is the reality of blogs, social media et al. It’s not the entire story.

The reality of getting healthy is that it’s something that can fall away. I didn’t believe I would end up making the same choices that have lead to my weight gain when I was in the midst of losing it. But here I am and the reality is at times it can feel easier to fall back into the habits that I know. Instead of habits that are good for me.

This takes routine as well as motivation. But life doesn’t adhere to routines, at least not for long. Things shift, an illness, a change in jobs and *poof* it changes. Sometimes it’s easier to get back into it. Other times it takes longer, or even not at all.

This is where I’m at right now. Trying to make the better choices, owning when I don’t and meeting myself where I am. And most importantly, not comparing myself to others. The other day as I went out for my run/walk, a gentleman ran circles around me at the park. It hit me that I too had been at the point where I could run laps nearly non-stop. One day I may be there again but I have to want it and work up to that once again. That’s what I mean by meeting myself where I am.

The Everyday Moments

It’s been a while since I last posted a blog. There was a lot of change in my personal life. Not only that but I had become less enthusiastic about blogging. I felt that blogs had to be about something BIG. A statement about the state of things and pontificating on such things isn’t easy. There are far better educated and nuanced writers out there who can capture these ideas than myself.

Then one day on Twitter, a blogger I follow lamented the loss of the blogs of old. Blogs about the everyday moments. Then she posted a blog about those very things. And I recalled why I fell in love with reading blogs (a moment of silence for Google Reader please!). And why I had fallen in love with writing my own. Starting on Blogger, moving to WordPress, to my own website and back to WordPress. My blogs have covered a variety of topics, the biggest one my journey to getting healthy five years ago.

Writing those posts about health, I began to feel like a fraud. While I’ve maintained certain aspects of healthy habits, I’ve let others fall by the wayside. So I began to write less of those. I wrote about writing ( another habit I’ve gotten out of as well). But I began to feel I didn’t have anything new to say that hadn’t already been said.

I wanted my writing career to take off via my blog. When it didn’t happen because I became overwhelmed with the amount of talent out there. My editing skills are not as honed and while I did find work for a time doing that, it wasn’t my forte. I felt lost as to where to start and if this is how I wanted to make my living. I had to ask myself what I wanted to gain from doing it.

Besides doubting myself I was also in the process of moving. For the first time since my twenties I was going to move into my a place of my own. Figuring out an affordable place to live was a long journey for me. I had also taken on a new role at my day job as well and I had no energy left to write.

I didn’t know what to write about for my blog or if I wanted to continue blogging. But then I saw the tweet about posting blogs about the regular everyday things and became inspired.

At this time I don’t have a plan for the blog. I know what I want to write about. I hope that people will find it helpful or funny or even themselves in them. I hope to recapture what I loved about writing blog posts and writing in general.

Reality of Justice

” Injustice anywhere is a threat to Justice anywhere.”

-Martin Luther King Jr.

Letter From a Birghinham Jail

This is one of my favorite quotes from Doctor King. If you haven’t read the letter in full, please take a few moments to do so here. I can get caught up in the visceral notion of what Justice should look like, righting wrongs.

Growing up, I believed that everyone in jail were all bad guys and deserved to be there. I believed all law enforcement were for the good of all.

Then I grew up and started to learn that this wasn’t always true. I began to understand that often people are lead less by altruism for others and more so for their own gain. Or defense of what they believed needs to be protected.

This week the Memorial for Peace and Justice opened in Alabama. It honors those who suffered at the hands of being lynched. A type of “justice ” served up to punish those who were convicted not of crimes breaking the laws per se. But the reality often was ( and is) the breaking of social morays. This memorial is necessary to highlight past injustices and current ones. To address the reality of our past and present.

This memorial is a place of reckoning. A small piece of justice but one that can be fully more so if the gravity of this place is fully embraced.

Justice is often more emotional than is admitted. We want to believe that justice is blind, where the facts of the case carefully weighed. Instead what often happens is the opposite. Emotion rules over facts.

Justice is something we will never get right. Human nature will always mess it up. Desire to be right or to push “undesirables” out of view will be around.

But we can do better. By being willing to learn and listen is a start. It’s the place I started. By asking the hard questions and leaning into the often hard answers.

Trusting in what God is doing is another place I’ve leaned into. In the end, true restorative and healing justice lies with God. Trusting Him, loving God and learning is the start of true justice.

Injustices must be called out, those previously dismissed listened to and given space to speak. We must examine our hearts about what we choose to look past because of the truth being too hard. It has to be hard.

Justice begins by learning, taking time to read, listen and absorb. I have much to learn yet but this is where I am today. Developing a better awareness and understanding in order to do better.

There is the possibility of true justice but I believe that it’s possible to do better, to have hope in that.

Two books that I reccomend reading

The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

White Trash by Nancy Isenberg

I suggest Truths Table podcast and finding voices on Twitter follow as well.

Typewriter

Finding the Right Words

When I relaunched this blog I came up with the tag line, finding my words. Writing is hard, keeping up a blog in a world of so many has been tough. I question the need for yet another blog in an already crowded field. Not to mention the constant death nil made about the state of blogging.

Which is why I took a break, allowing the website to gather dust. The truth was I had become overwhelmed with my self imposed blogging schedule. More often than not it feels like my words are flung into the great void called the internet.

Does it matter if I write in the greater scheme of things? Who would care if I find my words or not?

As I began to blog again, I found that it’s important to me. Writing, blogging these past few years has helped me to learn how to think through a topic. Believe me there have been many a blog post either deleted or sent to the draft file.

Finding my words mean also finding the right words. I have to own what I say on here, asking myself if what I’m writing will be helpful or show care for others. Too often words are simply flung out there. Not to mention how long things live out despite deleting anything.

Note how past social media posts can be used against someone? That something a person once believed can never change and therefore they should never change or grow? This often makes me think twice about posting much of anything lately to be honest.

I want to be real but also careful with the words I put out there. Regardless if they are read. I know what I’m putting out here and the effect of what I say can have on others.

With a less stringent blogging schedule, I found greater freedom in writing blogs . I’m not struggling to come up with a post. Instead I post as I like to, aiming for at least once a week. If I don’t have anything to say, I don’t post.

My words, whether spoken, texted, posted on social media or in a blog post matter. They come from my heart and therefore I must write with care. I hope for people to come away from reading a post having gained something. Some hope or encouragement or thought provoking.