Jen Jeffrey: Time’s Secret

Sunday, July 13, 2014 - by Jen Jeffrey
Jen Jeffrey
Jen Jeffrey

Now that I live in Kentucky, my assignments for the Chattanoogan.com are fewer and it has given me the opportunity for book writing. This has always been my dream as I have many unfinished books written ‘in my head’ over the years and now they are competing as to which one will be published first.

When people ask me, “What book are you writing?” I will keep the conversation light and only admit to the first project I almost have complete, because I don’t want to sound insane and tell them, “I am writing nine or ten at once.” I have outlined book projects just waiting for the time to write them.

I have never been one to fit in someone’s box and I think that is why God and I get along so well – He doesn’t like to be put in a box either. When I am asked what books I want to write – Novels, Fiction, Poetry, Mystery, Children’s, Self-Help … my answer is simply “Yes.”

At least, I want to attempt them all. I have had the ideas for many types of books swimming in my head for a while and, as I research, the opportunities seem endless. I have written a children’s book that I need to get “publish-ready” and I have another book I have been working on as a ghost writer that is almost publish-ready. I have ideas of about four more ‘easy’ books to complete and use all of these undertakings as ‘get my feet wet’ books to be published as I learn what to do and what not to do.

Then, I want to pull out the ones that will take more time.  The books I will painstakingly put my heart and soul into and which I am compelled to write. The first two of these will be self-help books, encouraging two groups who were laid on my heart – singles and women.

When I was single in my youth, single as a mother raising her children and then single over 40 – I learned how different life was for all types of singles going through different phases of life and what mistakes we made that actually began inside ourselves that we never took the time to learn. God taught me so much and I still have a heart for singles even though I am married. I had asked God never to let me forget the pain, the confusion and the displacement one can experience while living single.

I thought at first God wanted me to teach a singles class, but that opportunity never really presented itself. I am a writer and what I have to say is usually at a keyboard with an audience who set aside time to read what I could not speak formally; an audience who seeks what it is I have written and they can read it when they have time to digest it.

After a painful divorce, God also laid women on my heart who went through similar situations that I did. He placed women in my path to encourage even while I was healing myself. It became a deep-seated passion to help these women with my words.

A hug and a kind smile letting them know I understood was an immediate response, but I knew there was so much more I needed to share.

Not to rescue them - that was God’s job - but to empower them with the tools of wisdom God had given me that seemed so hard to obtain. Even women who did not share my faith drew to me as if I had some secret of survival. It was so simple yet almost a sacred secret that only a woman in the right place could hear.

That ‘right place’ of realizing that she no longer wanted to live as a victim - a place where she stopped blaming others for where she was and she looked inside herself and a place where she picked up that wounded little girl inside and decided to love her. Those are the women I must share with.

As I have explored the differences in men and women and what we expect of each other, what we don’t quite understand about the other (or what we have not done in ourselves before seeking a mate) I have learned that a couples book, a singles book and a book on women all go hand in hand in what God has taught me and has for me to share.

I had to learn it from experience and that is what writing is for me – sharing what I have experienced so that my involvement isn’t fruitless, but will help someone else.

As human beings we are basically made with the same human essence – we all have a brain, a heart, a soul… and I have realized how very equal we really are, yet we tend to make ourselves greater than we ought, or less than we ought. We let status, gender, and race define us.

Because women have nurturing qualities, they sometimes will allow themselves to fall into a role of taking care of everyone but themselves and, they can become resentful when they feel taken advantage of or they run out of steam.

These women may be two very different types of women – strong women who have careers and seem very assertive and women who are in a supportive role and may be more domestic, but both types of women will sometimes take a back seat in their own lives or live apologetically.

After my divorce, when I asked God ‘how’ I got where I was, He began showing me how little I really thought of myself. I could spot a woman like I had become a mile away. They apologized in nearly every sentence, they discounted themselves when given a compliment and they were not the bold creatures that God created them to be. Even shy, introverted women have a boldness required of them to play their role in life, but for some reason have held back.

At one point in our lives we had dreams. We had a passion for something. As we grew up we were presented with what was presumed ‘reality’ and our passions and dreams were put on hold or forgotten about. We forgot who we were and in whom God had fashioned us to be or were on our way to becoming and we took a detour.

I believe this to be true of men as well. The little boys who were heroes and protectors and encompassed so much strength somehow got distracted while their family or peers led them away from being who they were made to be and their self-esteem and confidence is shaken. They either backed off or overcompensated.

Some men used their power and strength in negative ways while others never embraced it. Some women tried to hide their emotions, never understanding how we were created and how to embrace our differences, or we became overly sensitive and feeling we were ‘wrong’ for being that way.

As we grow into adulthood we allow society to tell us we are ‘too much’ or ‘not enough’ before we are able to get a full grasp on who we really are. And, to begin a covenant relationship with a love interest before we even know what we are all about is not only unwise, but detrimental to our well-being.

We live our lives as cattle being run through a shoot. We follow what we hear others say, what we see others do or we do what is expected of us and, instead of searching inside ourselves, we look outward for the answers. While I agree that we are all here for each other and we are to encourage each other, I also feel there are those negative beings who harm us and our outlook on life. We must be responsible to search what is good for us and not let toxic people have a say in our lives.

It seems so simple, but when we live each day – one day at a time - it is easy to get lost in the big picture and especially when we try to figure out all the answers.

I am a fairly analytical person. I get that from my Dad and I spent half of my life wanting to ‘know the answers’. I wanted to know which religion was the right one, I wanted to know which political party was right, which path was right… and each time I searched, I would always learn there never was one ‘right answer’ because every individual I would ask would feel they were right. Then it dawned on me… the only answer I needed to search for was what was right ‘for me’. That didn’t mean to allow myself to do ‘what felt good’ or only do ‘what I wanted to do’… but to do what I felt was ‘right’ for me and to avoid what felt wrong for me.

We must come to that point in life where we become assertive and set boundaries for what is right for us individually.

I like being happy and I generally am a happy person… but even in my darkest moments, I couldn’t search for ‘happiness’  and find it – it’s not out there to find. Happiness is not in money, people, or a place even though we all have our ‘happy place’. Happiness is an emotion and can change in an instant. What I maintain in my life is “joy” - even during the hard times. When we rely on our feelings, we are led astray. So how do we ‘do what is right for us’ yet not live our lives by momentary feelings?

That is the secret. That is what I must share. That is something not able to be told in a column, but to be told in a book. It is for someone who is searching and makes the time to study, to discern, to accept and embrace. It is not a quick answer or for superficial conversation and it takes time to digest.

We have stopped ‘taking our time’ and after dealing with many losses in my life I have realized that time is all we have. There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the Heavens:

There is a time to be born and a time to die,

A time to plant and a time to uproot,

A time to kill and a time to heal,

A time to tear down and a time to build,

A time to weep and a time to laugh,

A time to mourn and a time to dance,

A time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,

A time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,

A time to search and a time to give up,

A time to keep and a time to throw away,

A time to tear and a time to mend,

A time to be silent and a time to speak,

A time to love and a time to hate,

A time for war and a time for peace.

Several of you have written me and shared your sufferings and also your joys as you identify with something I have shared. My hope for those who read anything I have to say whether in a column or a book, I just want to encourage you to take your time, give of your time and …love your time. I want you to have the time of your lives.

jen@jenjeffrey.com



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