Easy Like Sunday Morning

I heard the Commodores song “Easy” the other day for the first time in 36 years. There was a reason for the delay.

I hated that song.

I’d turn it off every time it came on, as the familiar waves of guilt and shame came over me.

This time I felt the nudge from the Lord. Listen to it.

When I did, I was shocked at the positivity of the lyrics. You see, I’d been conditioned to hear two words in the song: easy and high.

I was 16 and in a halfway house for drug addicts and alcoholics. I think the program started out with licensed counselors because it was accredited. But by the time I got there, adults who completed the program and had nowhere to go were promoted to counselors. Crazy, right?

But my counselor, Bill, a laid-back black man who’d once roomed with Eric Clapton in rehab, seemed like a legit counselor. He got results. Unfortunately, he got them by using the tools of the devil.

In the 80’s the term easy was the go-to word for someone who got around sexually. It was a moniker I’d somewhat unfairly been assigned and definitely worse than being a drug addict, at least in my head. In fact, the drugs only came after the sexual abuse, a numbing tool for the pain.

So Bill would play this song over and over and all I would hear was EASY and HIGH. I was a sobbing mess each time. Shaming me was supposed to bring about a resolve to change.

Being away from my family and also experiencing the beauty of a Texas landscape completely sober was what really brought about that desire.

Nevertheless, this was the tool he used. I don’t remember the words he said. I do remember the feeling. And I hated that song.

But once again, the Lord took something meant for evil and used it for good. Because when I listened to the song earlier this week, I heard Easy like Sunday morning… Why, Sunday mornings in the South are the epitome of peace.

Yes, I am now easy like Sunday morning

The wanting to be “high” part? Well, regardless of Lionel Richie’s intent on that line, I choose to see being high as being extremely happy and free, much like the birds who visit my porch every morning.

This is not a bad song. It’s actually a great song about perseverance.

Easy by the Commodores

The lessons learned here are vast:

A) If you send a loved one to rehab, check out who is actually counseling them. (My time at this facility ended with a helicopter-and-SWAT-team FBI raid!)

B) Never use music to deal with problems. Satan uses music to fuel fires and plant discord. If you must blare something to deal with your emotions, I suggest TobyMac’s Move (Keep Walking) or Matthew West’s Hello, My Name Is.

C) Don’t let the devil keep you in bondage. I didn’t realize that little hold was still there until the song came on. You can’t afford little holds because they always turn into bigger chains.

D) Forgive! I’d already forgiven Bill (and the others involved) because they did what they thought would work. Maybe it’s my naivety coming out, but I think there was a true desire to help people. They were wrong, no doubt about it, but hanging on to a decades-old resentment, no matter how justified, will only hurt you.

I look back now on my time there fondly. I had my ever job at Denton County Hamburgers. My dad and I revisited the restaurant about 20 years ago and indulged in a Hickory Bacon Cheeseburger. That’s also where I learned how to count back change!

The horses were soothing and the Texas sunsets were amazing.

I learned how to say no (or face bathroom cleaning duties for a month) and I learned how to strip down all of my pretenses and just be myself. I discovered that girl was enough.

I met a boy whose mother I am still in touch with today.

God was at work, even then. In the midst of all that was wrong, He was still right.

Those cringe-worthy moments

You know those Facebook posts from the past that pop up on your feed prompting you to reshare?

I have some adorable ones- past trips with the grandkids, cute vacation snaps, visits with Mom and Dad…

And I have some “Why did I hate my body THEN?” ones when I realize that even though I might’ve been bigger than I’d ever been; it was, in fact, not the biggest I’d ever be.

But the ones that get me the most are the truly cringe-worthy ones. The ones that make me a little sad for the girl I used to be.

We aren’t talking pre-salvation either. We’re talking someone who let a setback or two (work, health issues) derail her to the point where there was no joy and no peace.

Ten years ago, I posted about being so angry at a television character that I turned my tv off. I wouldn’t admit the “lame program” I was watching at the time. I reposted it today, half-curious about what show it was (my money was on something on Nickelodeon since I wouldn’t name the program) and half-embarrassed that I’d ever posted that. To be honest, I’m not even sure why I REposted it except to chastise myself just a little. And give a little grace too….I genuinely felt bad for 10-years-ago me.

Some “kind soul” found it “necessary” to respond to my original post, so I was able to see what I’d been fussing about. It was a teenage gymnastics drama on what was formerly ABC Family. I remember the show- I liked the show a lot- but I don’t remember the character that made me so angry at all.

Imagine that!

For starters, I let it sink in that I was this mad at a CHARACTER. Okay, okay…maybe I do still get a little invested. Dale has to remind me often, as I’m sobbing into a tissue, that those things didn’t REALLY happen. But she ran after him in the rain and he got hit by a car as she reached out to him… (Okay, I made that one up, but you get my drift…)

It was the anger that bothered me the most. Because I remember that time period well. I had been miserable at work and then had major surgery; I was still not adjusting well to an empty nest; and my entire life revolved around lying in bed watching tv. It was all I had. And I was angry.

I was angry at the failing school system I’d thought I could make a difference in. It was the first district I’d been in that didn’t want innovative teaching; they wanted test questions drilled from Day 1.

I was angry that my son was overseas fighting for our country and we couldn’t hear from him for months at a time. I was angry at my girls for avoiding me (in retrospect, I completely understand. You know that one person you dread talking to because he/she is always miserable and it’s draining just to listen to them? That was me.)

So my anger at this tv character WHO I DON’T EVEN REMEMBER was really more about the anger within me. A deep, deep anger.

But how did it get there? After all, I’d let it all go ten years ago. And I don’t mean I THOUGHT I’d let it go. I had.

So how was there that much anger?

Simple, I let it in a little at a time.

Have you ever done a major closet cleaning? Cleared out stuff you no longer wore, put clothes on hangers facing the same direction, maybe even color-coordinated? The satisfaction of a well-organized closet can run deep. It also comes with a vow to NEVER let it get it piled up again.

Fast forward a year and there you are, finding something to wear from the pile of clothes in a jumbled heap. How did it get so messy? Simple. One garment at a time.

Our spiritual closets are no different. They require effort and a daily maintenance to keep them clean. When we do notice a problem, it’s best to take care of it immediately. Otherwise, you just pile more problems on top of each other until you can’t even identify the real issue anymore.

Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Psalm 51:10

Living YOUR Best Life

You see it on magazine covers and book jackets everywhere: How to Live Your BEST LifeĀ with the emphasis on BEST. It makes sense; after all, no one signed up for a mediocre, less-than-fulfilling life. You don’t say “I guess” in place of “I do” or flip that tassel over after four years of studying in a field you’re disinterested in.

But what if we shift the focus to YOUR? Living YOUR best life?

I’m not talking about living vicariously through your children or suppressing your needs to fulfill a spouse. (Though neither of those is healthy either!)

I’m talking about holding your life up to a mirror and seeing what God has for YOU.

It’s hard not to be influenced by (or a little envious of) the lives we see on television and in magazines. Kardashians who spend more on birthday parties than some families make in a decade. “Real” Housewives whose closets resemble small department stores. Chrisleys, Braxtons, Busbys…

Though I’m probably the only person who could be envious of a woman whose second pregnancy resulted in quintuplets!

There are celebrities who never have to clean, cook, or shop. That may sound like a dream to an overworked, over-stressed single mom. There are families of ten crowded into two-bedroom apartments who dream of living in one of the mega-mansions from the latest magazine spread.

But while we are envying, and wishing, and dreaming, we are missing out on what God has laid right in front of us.

The family. The friends. The opportunities.

After taking stock of YOUR life, without any comparisons to the Bravolebrities or even the neighbors, look at what you have to be grateful for.

And then look at what can be changed….

Not many friends? Look around in your community for shared interest groups. During this Covid crisis and quarantine, I’ve reconnected with so many wonderful friends I’d lost touch with. That was a true blessing in disguise.

Lost your job or stuck in a rut? Pray for wisdom and look for new opportunities.

God wants to bless you!

But you have to be ready to receive what He has for YOU and not spend your time comparing it to everyone else around you.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Jeremiah 29:11