Blog

▪️PICK YOUR BATTLES

The real growth was learning to stand up for myself.

We had already talked for hours, and sometimes that’s what it takes, hours. Hours to get to the heart of a matter. We’d shared our stories, bruised and battered as they were, yet on the mend. The conversation unboxed some old dusty memories of the “me” I used to be, broken. Broken in so many ways.

Emotionally broken, mentally broken, and spiritually broken. Recently these types of conversations have unearthed some old narratives that I used to allow to replay and control my life, set on repeat like tracks on a broken record. These narratives defined who I was by others, and who I saw myself to be. I’ve spent years rewriting these narratives, inserting more and more truth, adding objectivity and grace.

And yet with all that work I still find there are old silent narratives that live inside of me just waiting to be discovered in conversations like these. But now they serve a different purpose. Where they once bound me to a life of pain and abuse, they can now be used to unlock cell doors for others. While I had longed for someone to fight my battles for me, the real growth was learning to stand up for myself. I needed to endure the process of learning to set protective boundaries. It takes courage to set boundaries.

Its hard to loving yourself and trust yourself in the places where you have a dent in your courage. A beat up spot that keeps you from wholeness, health, and freedom. This is a place of self doubt. I had almost forgotten how far I’d come until my conversation today. The journey has been long and hard, but worth it. After waiting in this place for years, just hoping someone might secretly come and save me, I’m glad I finally got tired of waiting.

If you live on a pendulum that swings from the poles of discouragement to encouragement on a regular basis, you need to take the leap yourself. Disrupt the cycle. The decision to stop waiting is a leap, the action that follows is a step. Feeling your way to a middle ground begins by taking a small step that requires courage. We all have different battles to fight, but they all require the same thing – just a little bit of courage.

Will you take a small step today?

I hope so, you can do it, you are strong and courageous,

 

▪️PAIN HAS A PURPOSE

It’s time to realign and push the pain out of my life.

Last night while I should have been soundly asleep, instead I was deciding, “I’ve got to deal with this pain.” The acute cutting pain I’ve allowed to hang around for the last two years. Yes, you read it correctly, TWO YEARS. I wonder how many wrinkles I’ve added to my face by carrying this pain with me unnecessarily? Pain has the remarkable ability to wear us out, down, and into the ground if we don’t deal with it. Pain is a problem. And like all other problems, the only way to solve it is to work through it until we reach its source, and change something.

Pain is a boisterous indicator that something needs to change. For the last two years I have been holding a screaming pain in my right shoulder. My mobility has drastically diminished. With every lift of my arm I wince, hence the new wrinkles. Because I’ve dealt with chronic pain for most of my adult life – I let it move in, when I assumed it was just visiting like the pain I’d experienced in the past.

I wonder how often we assume our problems are visitors when they have every intention of moving in, taking ground, and lording over us? It’s a good thing I had no idea how long “this” problem would hang around, that in itself has been a necessary grace. I’m not oblivious to the fact that it seems I human in a different order than the vast majority of my peers.

I have a tendency to process life in a different order than most of my peers.First I emotion, second I analyze, third I deal with the matter, literally the physical matter. I spend so much time on the interior of things that I sometimes never quite get the surface to look the way it should. Humans love what’s on the surface, that’s what they see. The reality is, the problem is both on the surface and in the deep. Working through a problem all the way is exhausting. No matter which end you start with. It’s taken so long to work through this problem and now I’m exhausted. This is what I’ve learned. No one is courageous when they’re exhausted.

Last night however, I decided it’s time to deal with my physical pain. Since I have scoliosis I have a good idea where and how to get some relief. Even though the pain is in my shoulder area, I’m likely feeling the end of a pinched nerve. The source of the pain – like most pain – it is buried deep within my body, near my spine. The stress of my trial had tightened all my muscles. Their constriction pulling my spine out of alignment allowing it to rest on a nerve.

When life hits you hard you can get knocked clear out of alignment. When that happens you may just find an exposed nerve somewhere down deep at the source of your pain. I’ve felt – and healed – I’ve analyzed – and accepted… now it’s time to realign and push the pain out of my life.

If you’re in pain…emotional, physical, or even mental – don’t let it move in and take over, courageously discover what it’s screaming at you and take steps to live healed, however that looks to you. Take a courageous baby step.

I know it’s hard, but you can do it,

▪️FACE YOUR FEAR

There we were, finally at the top.

I’ve never felt anything like it before. We had completed our arduous climb up the hundreds of stairs only minutes ago. A slow creep upward in the hot sun. The mass of us dressed in all variety of aquatic wear, sunscreen, and personal misc… tats, jewelry, and chlorine soaked body hair. It’s the environment where everyone fights complaining yet we all feel the same, hot, tired, and impatient. The climb must be worth the pain.

I was there just to be with her. My fearless, adventurous, mini me. She’s the only one in our family who likes amusement parks and all their terror. I’m not a fan, but I do it for her. I’ll fight through just about any discomfort for my kids.

There we were, finally at the top. She was nearly two feet shorter than I, not able to see what was ahead. Personally, I had been analyzing our future adventure for several minutes. Pondering my own comfort level. Was this even safe? Is it just me or do you also wonder at the science behind the safety of amusement rides on occasion? Surely, there must be some law of physics or something that guarantees that we won’t flip off that raft we were about to climb into? That’s exactly where my mind had been just before I felt it.

The overwhelming sensation of fear, that’s what it was. As soon as we were cued in the rider line, a wave of fear rushed over me. Oddly though, I wasn’t the source. It was my mini. Her fear was so intense that it was uncontainable. I became a drenched bystander. When fear reaches this level it must be addressed. It takes courage to address our fears.

As I looked at her flushed little tween-aged face I knew she needed a way out of the fear. “Let’s not do this,” and with an extended hand I led her down the hundreds of stairs we had just ascended. No shame allowed.

Since fear is the emotion we feel when our deepest sense of security is challenged it’s important we do not judge or shame. As much as we would all love to say that we are wholeheartedly anchored in the security and protection of God (for Christians of course) we all experience drift. Some drift in the direction of popularity, some finances, some success. The important reality we need to face is that drift happens, and when it hits, we all need people who can offer a way to safety.

When fear feels like a tsunami who to you turn to for help?

You need your people to be strong and courageous,

▪️DON'T QUIT

There I was fixing my gaze on the early rising sun as it cast a shadow of a million diamonds across the sea in front of me. Our yogi modeled a tree pose, I think. I’m not really sure what I looked like, all I knew is that I had to fight through the wobbling. My leg struggled to find balance beneath me. I had to find stability. I admire stability.

I’m blessed to be a part of a church where Joyce Meyer, almost annually, preaches. There was an occasion several years ago when she was teaching on leadership. She remarked that she had only written one book on leadership, this book is now 20 years old. It’s one of the few books of hers that I own. She spends a considerable number of words on the topic of stability and how it relates to capability. I’ve revisited these words a time or two. There’s nothing inside of me that feels stable right now. I’m just being real. It takes courage to be real.

When we’re faced with a season where hard resides in every direction it’s easy to lose our stability. Sure, usually we can find one pocket of life to retreat to when other areas are tough, yet when all the pockets appear to be sew closed we might panic. I’ve been in this place a lot lately. I think that explains the extra long showers, binge movie watching, and mid day dog walks. I’m simply trying to stay stable. I’m taking breaks.

Oddly, I’ve noticed something recently, somehow I’ve developed the ability to persevere through a 3 step decorative paining process on a piece of furniture-which would have eluded me in the past. Yet, today’s problems have me threatening to quit, almost daily. I guess that means that learning to persevere, not quitting, is ongoing. There will always be new tests that require us to cultivate more courage in this area.

Maybe Joyce is right, stability does release capability. I’m now stable enough to get through the tedious 3 step painting process – like a pro. I’ve become capable for the painting task. Today’s trial however, I shouldn’t expect to be a cake walk. I haven’t had to persevere through anything like this before. Which brings me back to my wobble.

When I’m wobbling to the point of falling over, completely losing my balance and stability, it’s time to take a break. Taking a break isn’t quitting. It’s the courage to be real and say, “I can’t take any more…right now.” If you’re in a place like me where you want to quit because the going is tough, I’m here to say the tough don’t always get going, sometimes they take breaks. If you need a break today, I hope you take one for yourself, your future self depends on it.

As always, be strong and courageous,

▪️COMFORTABLE WITH UNCOMFORTABLE

He is awake.

He’s on the cusp of 18, fills the size of a doorway, and calls me his “little mommy.” His mere existence has ushered in some unexpected excitement to our home, recently. He’s abiding in anticipation, and bringing others along for the ride.

Just two months ago we had no idea this was possible. It was never a dream, or a goal, or a plan. Actually, it’s quite the opposite of what we anticipated. School has always been a bumpy road for this guy. With an August birthday everything always seemed to come late for him. Late to read. Late to settle down to school work. Late to care. I’ve been looking forward to his graduation for more than a decade. You might say I’ve been in labor for years.

However, just as labor produces pain – it also yields new life, and that is exactly where we are headed. New life. We’ve taken a 180 degree turn heading in a new direction, and it all started with a baby step of courage from my firstborn.

We were told that the new Head Football Coach would be a great addition to our school. We were misinformed, great doesn’t even begin to describe what his presence has brought into this community. We haven’t had the best of experiences with football over the years, nevertheless our son continues to come out and play each spring for a short season. He immediately took to our new coach.

I was proud that he took a baby step of courage and asked to play a new position this season. He’s all of 6’5″ at 240 lbs and his request was to play Tight End. He wanted to try something new, it was outside of his comfort zone. And that is where courage is found, in the space between where you are and what might ever be, in the unknown. He is awake.

Now we find ourselves just weeks into a journey of unknown, unexpected, and unbelievable. The dismay I once held wondering where he would launch to after high school is over, has been displaced with hope. That is why we leave our comfort zone…hope. Finding hope takes courage.

After a strong showing in the new position, coupled with his extraordinary size, we’ve found ourselves in the fast current of college football scholarships. We’re all learning to navigate these uncharted waters. Sure we’ll get splashed in the face a bit along the way, we know it will be worth it, everything that requires courage is worth it.

What baby step can you take outside of your comfort zone?

You owe yourself to do it, be strong and courageous,