brigitte kathleen

rediscovering my heart


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Morning Walk Musings: To Be Loved

SPRING HAS SPRUNG! Obviously, this means that I want to spend as much time outside as possible, so I started walking this week. My first day of walking was Sunday. I walked almost 10 miles between two different trips outside.

This past weekend and early part of this week has been particularly trying so I’ve been finding solace in putting in my ear-buds and drowning out the world. That’s why I had no problem spending almost four hours outside on Sunday. On my second walk that day, I went a route I knew but had never walked before. As I was walking down the sidewalk, I came across this message in the pavement: Image

It might be hard to read, but this is what it says: I wanted to tell you the name of the street where I crashed my bicycle, got my best scar, or how I went walking at sunrise to see dawn’s great evacuation of star. There must be some method, when two people meet, to explain to each other who we really are.

This got me thinking, first of all, about relationships and how we allow them to develop in our  lives. What does it mean to know someone? What does it mean to care about someone? What does that look like for us as someone who cares, but also what does it look like for someone who is being cared for? Although an important conversation, it’s one saved for another time. The other thing this made me think about is my last post that listed things that made me who I am. In the middle of this unexpected existential moment, I realized that this pavement poem could have been written about me. I remember crashing my bike and I have scars. But the other thing I realized is that I haven’t seen a sunrise in a long time, so I decided that I was going to start getting up in the mornings to go walking. Not only would this be a healthy choice, but I’d be able to watch the sunrise… while walking around a lake. I just described what I’m pretty sure heaven is like.

So, to the musings from this morning…

It was about 5:45am and I’m 2/3 the way through my walk as I walk past the Como Lake Pavilion. Normally, I wouldn’t stop because I wouldn’t have a reason to, but this morning, this caught my eye:Image

It was surrounded by a few other chalk drawings, but this one was the largest art piece on the sidewalk. It also happened to be the message I needed to hear. Like I said, I had a difficult weekend. Work, relationships, a never-ending concern about what the future looks like… you know, all the normal stuff that normally fill my relatively large plate, but this weekend, I had a buffet’s worth. I’m not sure if it hurt or helped that Pastor Jon’s sermon could have been written for me, and I cried through the whole thing. So yeah, a pretty difficult weekend despite the comfort that people were attempting to surround me with. It wasn’t until this morning that I really felt it all come together.

Unfortunately, some of us don’t realize how loved we are by the people who matter until it seems like things are falling apart. And even then, sometimes we don’t understand, believe, or trust them. But guess what? IT’S TIME FOR THAT TO CHANGE. You know why? Because. You. Are. Loved.

You are a child of God and worthy to be loved. That is, you are beloved…allow yourself to Be. Loved. A friend of mine tweeted this to me last year. He has a way with words and has wisdom beyond his years. Mostly, he’s a very calming presence and has a beautiful assurance of God’s love that he’s not afraid to share with people. When I saw the message on the sidewalk this morning, my first thought was, “I hear this all the time.” And it’s true, isn’t it? We are always being reassured that we are loved- commercials, jewelry stores, Church. But do we believe it?

I think my friend’s words nail it on the head– sometimes we need to be reassured that we are a child of God and the promise that lies in that knowledge is God’s unconditional love (I’ll get to fellow human love in a second). That means we are sons and daughters of the only presence who can and will and does love us to extremes we can’t fathom. What this also means is that we-you, me, everyone- are worthy of love.

Did you catch that? By the simple fact that you are a living, breathing, existing child of God, you are worthy of love. Don’t get me wrong- this doesn’t mean that everyone is going to love you, nor does it mean that everyone should love you. What it means is that you get to open yourself to the people in your life and allow them to love you in the way they are going to. But this also means you need to open yourself up to that. The people that love you are going to love you despite your flaws, your shortcomings, and everything you think is wrong with you. But guess what? It’s not your decision for them to love you– It’s your decision to let them.

I only know this because I may be my worst critic, but I’m also my worst enemy. I face demons every day, some of them easier to overcome than others, and it is a fight for me to remember that yes, I am not perfect, but I have people who will continue to love me anyway. And usually, there will be nothing I can do to change that. And in that case, it’s a lot easier to let them love me instead of telling them why they shouldn’t.

See how I used the word “usually” there? There’s a reason for that- here comes the flip side of the coin. We’ve established that we all deserve to be loved, right? Well, here’s the deal- If you’re worthy of being loved, then you’re not worthy of being un-loved. People who come into our lives and spend their presence there un-loving us are the people who poison our ability to accept love from the people who are giving it freely. You need to love yourself enough to let those people go. They’re wasting their time by not loving you, and bringing you down with them at the same time. You’re not worthy of treatment like that because you are only worthy of love. Do you hear me?

YOU ARE ONLY WORTHY OF LOVE. YOU DESERVE TO BE LOVED.

YOU DO NOT DESERVE TO BE UN-LOVED.

It’s so easy to keep those poisonous people around and I think it’s because when and if they do show us some sort of love or appreciation, we feel like we’ve earned it. Trust me– I’ve had friendship upon friendship that has been written like this. In fact, until recently, this is almost every relationship I ever knew. When someone would treat me well or affirm me in some way, I felt like I had won the game and was able to validate our friendship by the mere fact that they were being nice to me. I still catch myself doing it every now and then. I’ll see how much I have to do before I receive some kind of notion of satisfaction from people. And let me tell you, the second I recognize what I’m doing, I snap out of it right away. Why? Because I don’t have to DO anything to win your love. God has already validated my existence, and my existence is proof that I’m worthy of love. While these poisonous relationship might feel good to have around for validation, these are the relationships that seep into your healthy relationships and start to eat away at you and everyone you’re in a relationship with. Not only is it unfair to you to have these un-loving individuals in your life, it’s unfair to everyone who loves you, too.

I know I’m the last person who should be giving any kind of guidance on this front. Like I mentioned, I struggle daily, and most of this is easier said than done. However, I believe that if you’re going to become who you are meant to be and fully embrace the love that is being offered to you by people who honestly and earnestly care about you, the first step is to figure out how to embrace your worthiness of the love they have to offer you…. and the love you have for yourself.

It seems fitting that I’m listening to the new Michael Buble album today, To Be Loved. If you’re interested, I’m WAY digging his version of Something Stupid, featuring Reese Witherspoon. I’ve loved that song since forever, and I always thought it would be a perfect go-to karaoke duet– who doesn’t love Sinatra karaoke? But Michael and Reese kill it and it is awesome. You’re welcome for that tidbit of the day.

So friends, go forth… love others, and don’t be afraid to let them love you back.

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Who I am.

Who I am.

I’m posing this as a statement and not a question. Although I’d say I’m pretty confident in knowing who I am,  I wouldn’t say I’m confident in knowing what I’m doing with myself. Today, I thought I’d do myself a favor and recognize who I am and what I have to offer myself and the world.

I think it’s important for us all to celebrate who we are as individual souls and personalities. Celebrate the things that make you unique.  Today I’m treating myself to a gentle reminder that I am a person deserving of love.

I am Brigitte Kathleen Leininger.

I am 27 years old.

I am a brown-haired, blue-eyed child of God.

I am a woman.

I am a daughter.

I am a step-daughter.

I am a granddaughter.

I am a step-granddaughter.

I am a great-granddaughter.

I am a sister.

I am a niece.

I am a cousin.

I am a friend.

I am a bestie.

I am a classmate.

I am a theologian.

I am well-rounded.

I am a work colleague.

I am a writer.

I am a leader.

I am a trumpet player.

I am terrified of rodents and arachnids.

I am a singer.

I am an artist.

I am spiritual.

I am an ENFJ.

I am religious.

I am well-traveled.

I am a story-teller.

I am open-minded.

I am an extrovert.

I am a sports fan.

I am a Seminary graduate.

I am compassionate.

I am passionate.

I am an adventure seeker.

I am emotional.

I love autumn.

I am well-read.

I am a conservative dresser.

I am a social media enthusiast.

I am a Democrat.

I am an excellent driver.

I am in love with the people of Kenya.

I am an advocate for justice and equality.

I am a lover, fighter, and dreamer.

I am a visionary.

I am an ELCA Lutheran.

I am a less than excellent athlete (but I try).

I love large bodies of water.

I am a baker (but not so much a chef).

I am patient with everyone but myself.

I am a confidant.

I am slow to trust others.

I am quick to love others.

I am partial to blue skies.

I am a voice.

I am a migraine sufferer.

I am relational.

I am sarcastic.

I am a jokester.

I am warm.

I am astute.

I am persistent.

I am a survivor.

I am afraid of vulnerability.

I am a momma’s girl.

I am multifaceted.

I am a dog person.

I am free-spirited.

I am not afraid of a challenge.

I am not a Pepsi person.

I hold true to my convictions.

I enjoy shopping.

I am a New Yorker at heart.

I am critical.

I am a vodka-tonic enthusiast.

I am enthusiastic.

I am earnest.

I am excitable.

I am thoughtful.

I am joyful.

I am wonderfully made.

I am beautiful.

I am me.

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When You’re The Only Single Friend

You took the words right out of my mouth.

Thought Catalog

Everyone around you is happy. You can hear them laughing, even in your sleep. When you lie awake at night and look at the enormous expanse of sheet and comforter and unused pillows, it’s all you can hear. They are happy, and holding hands, and making plans for things that you will never be a part of. Eventually, their lives will fuse together and you will be unceremoniously phased out. You don’t speak about this, because it’s not a pleasant image, but we all know that people eventually go from being “I” to “we,” and everyone who is not in that “we” sort of falls by the wayside.

You’re going to be left somewhere, and you don’t know exactly where it will be. One day, you’ll wake up, and you’ll be even more alone than you already are.

Everyone tells you that you’ll find someone. They think that this makes…

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Guess & Check & Guess Again

When I was in sixth grade, we had a large mason jar in our math class. Every week, it would be filled with something- buttons, gummy bears, leggos, etc., and every week we had an estimation contest. I never, ever won. Want to know why? Because I’m terrible at estimation. I don’t guess right on anything- distance, time, numbers of people, how many miles I’ve got left in my gas tank… you get the idea.

If you know anything about me, you’ll know that my journey to April 8th, 2013 has been nothing less than unconventional. In fact, if I’ve ever been in a situation where there are guidelines and rules, I’ve probably danced outside of them. I took six years for my undergraduate degree (a B.A. in Business for Religious Organizations– what??). I went to seminary and took two and a half years to finish what is traditionally a two year program. I drove a pick-up truck with 250,000 miles on it. I was a flight attendant. I’m 27 years old and have never dated. I LOVE Twitter. I got to hold an Emmy. What I’m trying to say is this– Although I have many stories to tell, my life has been a collage of experiences and blind moves on my own little chess board.

Don’t get me wrong- I’m not complaining, nor do I regret anything (for the most part). But what I’ve learned in my 9,952 days on this lovely planet is that life is nothing more than a series of games of “Guess and Check.” Maybe you believe in a God has some grand plan or maybe you don’t believe in God, or maybe you believe in fate– No matter your beliefs, the decisions you make are up to you, and realistically, you never know if you’ve made the right one or not.

I don’t know about you, but this sends me into a frenzy. On one hand, I’m really glad to know that everyone else is potentially making life-altering mistakes like I am. On the other hand, it’s terrifying to think I could be making life-altering mistakes! Although believe in the beauty of grace and that my mistakes will eventually work themselves out, it’s hard to move forward not knowing what potential risks you’re facing.

There’s a movie out there called “Love Happens,” starring Jennifer Aniston and Aaron Eckhart. At one point in the movie, Jennifer Aniston’s character, Eloise, addresses a mistake that Burke (played by Mr. Eckhart) made in not going to his wife’s funeral. During this little “Come-to-Jesus” meeting she says, “My life is a day to day experiment in really bad decisions.” As much as I want to respect and admire Eloise’s humility in addressing the fact that she’s not good at life choices, isn’t this a sentiment that everyone can relate to? Whether it’s picking a wrong restaurant for lunch or marrying the wrong person, each of us has a history of poor decision making.

Up till now, I’ve been preaching a lot of law, and I apologize, and while I’m the last person on earth qualified to give you a dose of gospel in this area, I’m going to try. I know I addressed this in an earlier blog post, but this is what it comes down to: You cannot live life with regret. You’re going to make decisions. With those decisions come mistakes. But at the same time, with decisions come GIGANTIC victories. Risk is scary, but where would anyone be if we didn’t risk something (at least once in a while)?

I get risk, trust me. I totally get it. I happen to be completely afraid of vulnerability- ANY kind of vulnerability. This means I end up living a very guarded life. Meanwhile, I’m cheering for everyone else, encouraging people to take great leaps of faith, and take risks, and not to fear failure. I have a master’s degree in this, for crying out loud. But for some reason, my own fears and vulnerabilities get in the way when I try to apply what I want for other people to my own life. I think if we all take a second to think about it for a second, we come to the conclusion that VULNERABILITY SUCKS. The only way to get around it, though, is to get over it– unless, of course, you don’t mind living your life alone and with very little to show. Because, you know what? Sure, taking risks involves being completely vulnerable, but the only way to succeed is if you embrace it, and take that leap into a great unknown.

Like I mentioned earlier, I’m terrible at estimation. The only thing I’m somewhat good at estimation is the price of things (mostly because I spent the better portion of my childhood watching Supermarket Sweep). But, major life decisions? I can’t even handle it. And let me tell you, most of my decisions are in the “guess” category. I’m never sure of anything. I could pray, and pray, and pray till the cows come home, but are we ever REALLY sure? I mean… really…. are we ever REALLY sure of anything? And sometimes, I make really bad guesses. However, I don’t believe in a God that’s going to hang me out to dry if I make a wrong turn. Instead, I believe in a God who loves me enough to work through any situation, and get me turned in the right direction.

I hate guessing because I hate being wrong. But I’ve realized that while you may be wrong (and you may be wrong a lot), you also might get it right. Embrace the guessing. Embrace the estimation. The only way to move forward is to guess which way to step. But also know that the reality of the “check” is there too. Life is full of “Guess and Check,” I just wish they would have told us they were teaching us a major life lesson in 6th grade math when we were guessing how many paper clips were in the jar.

As much as I hate guessing and hate vulnerability, I can’t help but come back to this final thought: The beauty of the “Guess and Check” game of life is that if “check” comes back and says “wrong guess,” you get to guess again. Eventually, you’ll guess right.