Raising the White Flag
Something tells me we all struggle with an important piece of our lives that can get easily puffed up or damaged on a regular basis, sometimes within a day. And that's our ego. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines ego as a noun, which is a person's sense of self-esteem or self-importance. Sigmund Freud defines ego this way as a part of psychoanalysis: The part of the mind that mediates between the conscious and the unconscious and is responsible for reality testing and a sense of personal identity. So, you see, our ego can be tested on a regular basis because of how much it's a valuable part of our lives. And it's also the one that can make us egotistical, especially at the worst times. Because when we believe in the self-importance we have in our gifts, talents, tasks, and more that make up who we are as individuals (a little bit too much from time to time) and the unexpected happens that doesn't go according to plan, it's only natural to feel our ego bruised and we're feeling the pain of it all. It can be over the littlest of things, or it may actually seem pretty big to us. Things like losing a hotly contested game. Things like being blown off by a date. Things like being insulted on social media for no reason. Things like your pants ripping open. Things like falling down in the middle of a crowd. Things like losing out on an important promotion or opportunity to someone else you know. Things like getting drenched in the rain without an umbrella. Things like missing the subway or bus by 1/10th of a second. Things like burning your dinner. Things like saying the wrong thing at the worst possible moment. And the list is long and extensive, and it goes on for infinity. You want to hear about how my ego has been bruised lately? Well... How about finding out a good friend of yours getting a role I auditioned for that's opening up next month and is doing extremely well in her acting career? How about expecting a callback for an opportunity but not getting one at all? How about taking a stand for an actress whose show just got cancelled and getting laughed at on Facebook... by over 50 people (and growing)? How about having accidents on the way to the bathroom... especially during a urinary tract infection? How about telling a colleague that you had to use her desk for a virtual callback when she wasn't available? How about not getting cast in an NYC play festival via the sound of silence? How about getting drenched in the rain without an umbrella AND being a water rat for an in-person job interview during the pandemic? How about some people telling me that I'm not worthy to be their friend even though I share my vulnerabilities and wear heart on my sleeve and do my best to love them for who they are? How about seeing others artistic careers going so smoothly when mine isn't anywhere near the heights that I long to be at? How about being inadvertently blown off by a friend on a Saturday night excursion to see Come From Away? How about getting lost on my way to an audition? How about tripping on my own two feet or even falling down on the ground several times amidst groups of people? Yeah. My ego's quite bruised right now, thank you very much. And my mom tells me that it's happening in bunches. Why does it seem like our ego gets bruised at the worst possible moments? And it seems like it happens in bunches? Well, it may involve this:
You do realize what he's holding, don't you? It's a flag. And what color is the flag? It's white. And usually a person in wars or battles often holds a white flag as a means of surrendering to the other side. It's almost as if they're saying: "We can't take anymore losses or casualties to our side." "This is too much for us." "Stop. Just stop." "I GIVE UP!!!!!!!!!!" It's been a feeling I've had a lot time experiencing lately. And yet, I feel reluctant to wave the white flag. I know many of you out there reading this can relate to this. If we were to say "I give up," it means that we're no longer going after what we put our heart and soul into or what took up the most time and energy that's meaningful to us. In other words: It says that we're "quitters," "lazy," "cowards," or worser yet, "failures." But maybe it means something else when we're compelled to hoist the white flag. I'll give you an example I found in a daily devotional I read. A married couple in Kansas City, MO, had an unexpected problem in the form of a big, fallen tree that came crashing down during a summer thunderstorm. The problem was that the husband was a historical reenactor at Fort Osage, the Kansas City-area fort built in the early 1900s, and was prepared to take part in the 200th anniversary of the Lewis and Clark Expedition with his fellow reenactors to repeat the 1804 voyage up the Missouri River. And they were scheduled to stop at Fort Osage...
The same weekend after the big tree came crashing down. He had prepared for this opportunity for months, from creating the authentic implements (i.e. weapons and eating utensils) to learning some of the Osage language from a CD given to him by a local elder. The husband wasn't able to take time off to help clear the downed tree, and he made the heartbreaking decision to forgo the weekend event. This choice was as equally heartbreaking for his wife, who supported his endeavors and knew how much her husband was looking forward to this event. To make matters worse, she was dealing with a nasty case of bronchitis and a fever, and her spirits were very low on that particular rainy Thursday morning. What does one do in a case like this? Well, in this case, the wife decided to have a one-sided discussion with God about why her husband deserved to go on this special weekend, and how fed up she was with the her bronchitis and fever were treating her. Add to that one felled tree that needed to be cleared, it was too much. She just needed to vent to God. And the best way to end a one-sided discussion with God? "I GIVE UP!!!!!!!" She didn't know this at the time, but she was hoisting the white flag of surrender for a different reason, and it wasn't because she was a failure. She was starting the process of "letting go and letting God." How, you ask? She was unknowingly acknowledging the underlying order of the universe and opening the way for positive and often surprising outcomes. The mind-body-soul connection doesn't respond only to the conscious, thoughtful words, but it also sees and hears the expressions of stress, frustration, and upset. In cases like these, it opens us up to access the power of release, letting go of the illusion of control. Hmm... Maybe the reason why our pride has been bruised in bunches is due to us holding onto the illusion of control. It's certainly something to think about. And it's especially hard to raise the white flag is because we're scared of not being in control of our lives and things falling more apart than they already are at the time. It's the last thing we want to be seen as in society: Out of control. Incapable of managing our own lives properly. Crazy. Undeserving of all of the good and positive blessings, opportunities, and dreams we hope for and have faith in. But here's something even I have to remember on a day-to-day basis: We are ALL worthy of all of the good life brings us, combined with the hard lessons and struggles it teaches us. It may take admitting that we give up and surrendering to what God or the universe or the higher power has in store for us when we're at our most stressed, frustrated, dejected, and heartbroken for the good to start working in our lives. And we may not know it at the time, but the moment we so wave the white flag, the good and positive things we've longed for, need even, are already making their way towards us. Let's return to our Kansas City couple for a moment, shall we? When we last left our couple, the wife had just told God "I GIVE UP!!!!!!!!" Minutes later, she heard a noise outside and was a bit confused when she looked out the window. What do you think she saw? There were two trucks in front of her house, one pulling a large trailer driven by the husband of her husband's coworker. Her husband's boss was driving the second truck. Just then, her husband's boss called to let the wife in the house know that as soon as the rain let up, they were going to cut up the tree and haul it away. They somehow knew how much the coming weekend meant to her husband and they all drove to her house to surprise him. Needless to say, the wife was over the moon with joy. Their generosity and thoughtfulness overwhelmed her, and the timing was a wonderful demonstration of divine order. She realized then that as she was in bed feeling sad and dejected, even as she prayed for some form of help, it was already on the way. Literally around the corner, even. If only that were true for all of us. Help being on the way, and right around the corner. But what if it already is? And not in the way we expect it to be? What if that help came in different forms? Like a friend reaching out to you when you're sad and offering encouragement? Like GIFS and virtual hugs to make you smile and laugh? Like the sun shining to entice you to come out and enjoy the fresh air? Like your spouse taking on some of the chores so you can relax and rest after a busy day? Like being treated to dinner by your loved ones so you can be among good company and not be frustrated or stressed alone? Like a colleague finishing a task for you that took up so much of your time so you can breathe a little bit? Like hugs from your children, husband, friends, parents, and those who care about you? Like a stranger holding the door for you when you have a lot of items in your arms? Like a delivery of a package you were looking forward to receiving? Like your favorite meal being prepared at home? And exactly how you want it to be? Or whatever pleasant little things that can mean a gigantic form of love and reassurance that you needed in that moment? Well, it may not be a big form of help that you were expecting, but look at it this way: If you are stressed out and frustrated over the big problems and confusion that is taking place right now and are desiring some form of divine intervention and encouragement that things will work out, maybe the answers and comfort you need in that moment can come in the form of the small things and opportunities you need so that you can open your heart and mind to the assistance that you truly deserve for the big problems that come your way. Small things can often lead to big things, even when we don't realize it at the time. Perhaps it's in the moment of surrendering the big problems we find the small comforts and assurances leading us to the help we are seeking so much. In other words... Keep your heart open to the little things that bring your reassurance and comfort so that when the help comes to solve the problems of the big things, you will truly find gratitude and calm as help is on the way. As a Whitney Houston song goes: 🎶 "Hold on; help is on the way!" 🎶 It's easy to go into a pity party after our ego is bruised repeatedly, and often clouds our judgment. Thankfully, I've healed from my pride being hurt (or getting close to it) from going on walks and reflections on what I've experienced in these frustrating moments. And that's just what this and my other blogs are: MY observations and reflections. You are welcome to share your experiences and even disagree with me if you want. However, I absolutely will not tolerate any hate speech, offensive language, or cruel comments against others or myself. I'm not afraid to block you if that is seen. We need to take the time to be kind and understanding to one another, and being hateful towards each other is not the way to go.
In this season of change and transformation, we are often scared to let go of the control we have in our lives because of the fear of being seen as reckless, out of control, not focused, or whatever negative word that best describes us. We want and hope so many things, opportunities, and events to go the way we want it to be, and when they don't go exactly according to plan or the unexpected happens, we often blame ourselves... or the universe for not doing enough for us. It's natural to feel this way. I know that all too well. But trust me when I say this... Hoisting the white flag when things are falling apart can do so much wonders than just trying your hardest to control and fix everything you possibly can. Besides, if you keep on fighting to maintain control when so much is going against you, you will end up more stressed and frustrated than you would be if you simply say to the universe, "I GIVE UP!!!!!!!!!" It doesn't make you a failure or out of control. Not by a long shot. It simply means that you have too much to handle on your plate, and you can't seem to make sense of everything falling apart. In other words: YOU JUST NEED HELP. And doing all of the work and being in control of things by yourself isn't working any longer. Sometimes divine intervention may be the only way to help clear your mind and heart, and the let the assistance and blessings come your way. And also be assured that you are deserving to the good and positive things that come your way, even if it's not what you expected. Maybe the help you so want may not come in big ways, or even in known ways. It comes in mysterious ways. The Lord DOES work in mysterious ways. Help DOES come along in mysterious ways. And the help will be just as important and needed when it does come, simply by letting go and letting things come as they are. And NOT controlling every single thing we do before, during, and after makes a big difference. Here's something else to keep in mind: You don't need to do this only when you're at you're lowest point. You need to hoist the white flag up EVERY SINGLE DAY, and that's just as difficult to do. But it's vital in order for the blessings and divine intervention to come through when it's needed or unknowingly anticipated the most. I need to be reminded this every day as I wake up and take on the day. I can only do so much within my own power, but the rest is up to God, or the universe, or whatever you believe. As much as I want to control what happens in an audition or callback in order to get the part, I know I can't do that because it will only frustrate and stress me out more. As much as I want to somehow tell someone who hurt me that they are worthy of love and encouragement even if it's without me in their lives, I know I can't do that because it will only frustrate and stress me out more. As much as I want to ensure patrons are satisfied and abiding by the rules when they come see a show, I know I can't control them every single time because it will only frustrate and stress me out more. As much I want people to see and understand what I believe in as a human being, I know I can't force them to accept me or even listen to me because it will only frustrate and stress me out more. As much as I want to be in NYC living my best life, I know I can't rush things to magically happen on my own time because it will only frustrate and stress me out more. As much as I want so many things in life to come together, worrying about them and being meticulous about them aligning with my time and my time only will only frustrate and stress me out more. And I know you're all feeling this way, too. Think back to the Kansas City couple from earlier, and how proclaiming "I GIVE UP" began the process of things falling into place, without them realizing it at the time. Maybe we all need to say "I GIVE UP" and hoist the white flag every day. We can only control so much of our lives without collapsing in exhaustion and frustration. And there's no shame in admitting you have too much in your plate and needing help from above. And there's also nothing to be embarrassed of when you release ALL of the things you can't control. Don't be afraid to breathe, let go, and surrender to a higher power. You may never know when the help you so desperately need is coming, and it's probably sooner than you think. Maybe even around the corner.