Overwhelmed?

Man, what a whirlwind life I seem to be living! For this season I feel like I am in a constant head-above-water battle, but I know that as all things do, this too shall pass. Since writing last I have experienced emotions of sheer joy, relief, anxiety, worry, anticipation, and happiness.

Over the span of 3 months Aaron and I have reunited with estranged family members, got engaged, got in a wreck and totaled his truck, watched our dog have puppies, began the planning for remodeling our future home, dealt with the looming threat of me being unable to have children, and been involved in court proceedings to help ensure our niece remains in a thriving environment. Put that on top of me personally playing the piano at church every week, about to finish grad school in a few weeks, beginning my internship, maintaining my “real” job, planning a wedding, helping friends with babies and showers and moving…

It’s a lot. And I will admit, while I am living it, it seems like normal because it is my life. But writing it all down, no wonder I feel tired in the mornings!

I often wonder why I don’t feel overwhelmed. Tired, extremely, but rarely overwhelmed.

I truly believe that my main source of strength and perseverance comes from God. Aaron and I have been reading Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life. We are truly living our life, the best we can, according to God’s Word. And it’s showing throughout our lives. As Perry Noble says, “As our view of God increases, our worry and stress decrease, because it’s only then that we begin to believe that all the things that are over our heads are under His feet.”

Perry Noble also points out some key ways of thinking that create such overwhelming feelings. I’ll outline some for you here.

Thinking you are in control. I don’t believe there is ever a time that God laughs harder at you than when you kid yourself into thinking you have complete control over your life and the things around you. It says in Proverbs 19:21 “You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.”

Thinking things are totally out of your control. If you are a Christian, and you were born after Christ died on the cross, you have the Holy Spirit living inside you. This Spirit could be characterized as many things such as your conscience or the angel on your shoulder but ultimately, it is God inside your body giving you the power of discernment and courage to overcome trials of the world. The Bible says in 1 John 4:4, “You belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.” We have the power to relax and let go of our worldly troubles if we just choose to do so!

Expecting to live an easy life surrounded by good people. Because we live in a fallen world, the world is full of fallen people. We are not much unlike these people, as we all sin every day. However, even if we surround ourselves with people who are only good, Christians and go to church every time the doors open and pray religiously….the world around us is still fallen, and we are guaranteed to feel the effects. Perry Noble says, “When we meet Christ, we are saved from the penalty of sin, but we do not escape the effects of sin – whether that’s our own or other people’s sin or simply the broken world we live in.” No matter how good we try to be, we will still feel the backlash effects of sin.

Expecting to have the energy and time to do it all. I once heard a professor say, “The Bible calls those who will not work lazy, but it calls those who will not rest disobedient.” Wow. Self-care is truly important. In your profession and your personal life. There is no way one person can do everything there is to do. We must learn to let go of some things and delegate them to others.

Accepting sin as a way of life. Now I am just as guilty of this as the next person, but it’s true. We are contributing to our negative feelings by not omitting the sin in our life and just dismissing it. Perry Noble says, “In today’s culture, the temptation is to look at sins and refer to them as issues, mistakes, or problems. And as long as we see sin as something that we need to learn to cope with rather than something that needs to be removed, we will never take the cation necessary to peel the cap off the bottle so we can be spiritually refreshed.” He makes a good and valid point. Some things we are unwilling and reluctant to give up, but we may be amazed at how much more at peace we would be if we did so.

We refuse to forgive others. Another hard one. Maybe the hardest. I’m a grudge-holder by nature. But what I have come to learn is that my “nature” doesn’t matter because I am in Christ and should put Him on display each day. There are those who say, “if that person would just apologize I would forgive them”. And yeah, that’s nice when it happens. But that’s not the example that was set before us. Jesus is our example. and the people who were murdering Him never even asked for forgiveness…He just gave it to them. The example for us is that we must forgive freely – even to those who don’t deserve it. We can’t put stipulations on forgiveness and keep score of rights and wrongs. That’s not up to me. I’m going to be a therapist, not a judge. Besides the fact that not forgiving breaks up families and causes strife, it also is just stressful keeping tabs on all those tally marks for each side! LET IT GO!!!! Please. For your own sake.

We try to force love on others and on ourselves. Love is strong. And it’s a strong action, not an emotion like we’ve been taught. Love is doing, actively pursuing, proving day in and day out the commitment to the other person. Perry Noble says, “Love is determined by what we’re willing to seek out and what we’re willing to sacrifice for.” Knowing that, also know that God loves you. And his love and grace are sufficient. You need no one else’s. It’s nice to have. It makes life more enjoyable. But it’s not necessary. Don’t try to push love on those who don’t want it. Just lay it out there for them to pick up. It’s not hard, though it is work. It should be one of the most awesome jobs you have, loving others.

We expect instant gratification. Guilty! I want it, and I want it now! Yes, please. NOW! Though that’s my thought process most of the time, God laughs again. We must be vigilant, persistent, and enduring on our quest and towards our goals. That shows dedication and love. The Bible gives us one for this in Galations 6:9, “Let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.” Good is coming, but it may not be today. Rest in that knowledge.

Ultimately, these things are all things I have or continue to struggle with. Overwhelming feelings come and go. However, if we refuse to allow our circumstances to shape what we believe about God, we will walk in freedom from fear, knowing that the One who holds tomorrow is good and is in complete control. In writing this post I have utilized Perry Noble’s book Overwhelmed a lot. I encourage you to read it!

Also, please be in prayer for me and my family. We have been going through a lot and are still waiting on answers and concreteness of things. Pray that God’s will be done in all areas of our lives and that his healing hands will be upon my body. Love to you all!

What’s Missing?

I have been quiet for a while. For some reason I just feel that the Lord has quieted my soul. Why, I don’t know. But anytime I sit in the silence for any length of time, one thought often plagues my mind…

What does it mean to miss someone? What does it truly feel like to you? Some people come and go in our lives and some stay forever. Is that a choice they make? Is there such thing as fate?

I know what it’s like to miss someone who is dead. I know how to accept that. It hurts, but I can handle it. It’s the other type of missing that hurts the most.

Missing someone who is still here. Who lives just down the street. Who you’ve shared so many laughs and tears and times with but no longer are no longer welcome to call or catch up with.

The worst part about this missing is the wondering. Wondering what they are doing. If they are okay. If they miss you. Then I think to myself, “Obviously you don’t miss me or you would let me know.” The worst part about missing someone is caring about them, loving them, and that feeling not being reciprocal.

Be it friends or family who have drifted apart, it hurts the same. Our friends are our family. Our family are our friends. I think sometimes we get so busy with our own lives that we forget to reach out to those around us. Then one day we look around and we are alone.

Success is not everything. Money is not everything. Control is not everything. Love covers it all.

Then I wonder…how can family separate like that? I can not imagine or begin to fathom life without my family by my side. Do those who are estranged not miss their loved ones? Do they not ache for an update in the life of their loves? If not, how incredibly sad. How sad a life they lead. And if so, why don’t they do something about it? I truly don’t understand.

If you are reading this, swallow your pride. Pick up the phone.

You can’t choose your family. You have to love them unconditionally or not at all. And if it’s not at all, I can only imagine the hurt in your heart that must cause that.

Tomorrow is not promised. Make today count.

Reality

It seems that every day I see more and more people who are not living in reality. People who either live above their means, blame others for their situation, or just get by telling themselves lies. Now when this happens, my flesh responds in an extremely negative fashion. My flesh wants to get angry and point the finger at these individuals. And I admit that in the past, my flesh would have won out. In my personal life I pride myself on being pretty transparent. What you see is what you get. I don’t sugarcoat or tell you what you want to hear. That’s my natural attitude. However, to some that causes negative feelings and the start to negative relationships. And I recognize that isn’t what I want. Although I don’t agree with a lot of what people put out there on social media and in the public for others to see, it’s not up to me to point out the truth. Each person is an individual who can choose to live exactly how they want to, believing what they wish. I have to remind myself that although I am the type to face things head on, others are the type to avoid, dilute, and distort.

These types of situations are one of my weakest points. It is so hard for me to keep my mouth shut. My flesh is screaming for me to shake these people awake. Bring them back down to Earth. To reality.

However, I don’t. I just keep praying and loving. Because my Father tells me that love covers a multitude of sins.

Reality is a very real and present thing. You may not want to be here, but here you are. Deal with it. Deal with your problems, your stresses, your joys, your LIFE. Living in the past, future, or some fantasy world is doing nothing but hurting you and keeping you from the joy that is NOW.

In reality, we all have regrets. Every person wishes there are things we could redo or do differently. However, it is what it is. Nearly 100% of the time, your situation is a product of the choices and decisions you made. Own that. It’s yours. It’s no use trying to backtrack and undo mistakes. Simply move forward and focus on today. Today you have the power to change the future. Tomorrow is too early and yesterday is too late. TODAY is right on time.

In reality, people die, and there is never a right time or good time for it. Ever. It’s always a surprising, painful shock. If someone dies that you didn’t get a chance to make things right with, it’s too late. They are dead. And nothing that you tell yourself is going to make it easier or better. You ran out of time. That’s reality. The best thing for you to do now is pray about it, journal about it, and go out and make amends with the rest of your loved ones so it doesn’t happen again.

Everybody gets mad at one another. That’s reality. But the reality is you can’t let anger control your relationship and therefore your life. You are in control. I urge you, make amends. No matter what it takes. If you have to be the bigger person. If you have to apologize for something you didn’t do. If you have to swallow your pride. Just do it! Because the reality is that person is dying, right now, and you don’t know how much time they have left. That’s reality.

You don’t get but so many hours in a lifetime…think about how many of those you have already wasted on negative feelings and negative actions. You make your own reality. And then you have to live it.

Sweet Time

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=roOP29KVaAo

It seems that recently I have been in tune with the purpose of my life. I don’t know how much I believe in irony, but I know that my Lord has a sense of humor. And he has started to humor me on the daily. Today this realization came through the words of a song.

This song is me. Me being narcissistic. Me being egotistical. Me being controlling. Me being independent.

See, our society tells us that being independent is a good thing. Being able to do things on our own is admirable. But I am here to tell you that that is not the way we were intended to be. Shortly after Adam’s first breaths, he gained a companion. You see, we aren’t meant to go at this alone. Alone is a lonely place. There is a nice saying, and I am not sure by who that says “I don’t want to be alone, I want to be left alone.” How true. Loneliness is a choice.

However, with relationships of any kind comes chaos. And for a lot of people, that chaos is uncomfortable. We are always looking for that balance. We just want things to be “normal”. Angela Thomas says that we have an “illusion of balance”. You see, the happiness found in this balance and control doesn’t exist. 

As for the chaos that comes with these other people…that is something else that is hard to handle. However, as humans we do have a bit of a choice. We can choose to live our lives in solidarity and hope that chaos and stress will leave us be. Or we can love our neighbor, our friend, and our family and be guaranteed to be bombarded and overwhelmed at times. As for me, I would choose my loves every time. Every single time. I couldn’t imagine going a day alone. Without my mama or daddy, Aaron, Huck or Pearlie; as well as countless others. What kind of life would that be?! As Angela Thomas says, “When you are called to love lavishly and give generously, there isn’t going to be any external balance on this earth.” In other words, make a choice and live with it!

I encourage you to click the link and listen, but if you didn’t, the gist of the song I posted is that we tell the Lord to take his sweet time, but yet in the same breath are giving Him criterion that must be met in order for us to be happy. This just reminded me how sweet my Father’s timing is. Everything, and I mean Every Thing, happens for a reason, according to the plan, and on time. It may not be according to MY timing, which may mean that it comes as a shock to me. But I can assure you that it does not shock my God. He has a plan for me and my life. A plan in which I am the main character. My course is mapped out. If I am stubborn and constantly wanting my way instead of God’s way, of course my plans will be ruined!

I can’t put stipulations on my God. It doesn’t work. I can’t make someone stay in my life just like I can’t force them to leave. At all times I must learn to say “Thy will be done”. I don’t have to constantly be on the lookout for anyone or anything. I need only focus on one thing and that is the glorification of God. If I do that, he will take care of the rest. He is my daddy. And he WILL take care of me. There is no need for me to tell my Father what my perfect friend, relative, or significant other will “look” like. HE knows. He made them. For me. And all I have to do is wait. Wait on for His sweet time. I can rest in that thought.

 

 

Things That Matter

Sometimes in the here and now it is so hard to determine what things are important and deserving of our precious time. As time goes on, we can look back and see how senseless worrying about certain things truly is. I always find myself coming back to something that was said during my week in Lynchburg. But that is how much that experience truly changed the way I see things. I learned so much about the profession I am going into; things that I can carry over into my life. Perhaps the most important thing I learned is how absolutely ridiculous it is for us to worry. I, myself, am an obsessive worrier…but I have started to try really hard not to worry and just focus on the things that matter.

First, it doesn’t matter if I am “right”. The term right is a matter of opinion, and of course my opinion is the one that I live by, but you may not. And that’s okay. My job as a daughter, girlfriend, cousin, confidante, friend, and future therapist is not to be right. My job is to be a support system for those I love and care for. It is up to the individual to determine if what they are doing is right for them. That isn’t up to me. We each have our own set of lenses through which we see the world. It is ultimately this worldview that shapes our every thought. I have come to realize that by always needing to be right, I have failed to be able to just sit with the person where they are. That sediment sitting in an unfamiliar ideology was uncomfortable for me, so I tried to push people to see things the “right” way. This only caused me to ultimately push them away. Sometimes the thing that is important is the ability to just be able to sit, comfortable, and understanding with a person. It is not all about me and my comfort. If I can just learn to see things through that person’s lens and be willing to sit in the discomfort for a while, eventually I can introduce a wider view to that individual. That is what matters.

Sometimes I struggle with the things that matter. I get a skewed view of reality and lose my view of matter. This is where the worry comes in. I worry constantly for my loved ones. I worry about their safety, their wellbeing, their decisions and choices. And that, my friends, is not what matters. Worrying is for the birds. Dr. Jeanie Brooks says that there is nothing that a child can experience that our Lord cannot undo the damage of. Having the background that I do, I should know this. I have studied resiliency in children and have read countless case studies about children who have experienced horrible childhoods and turned out okay. Worrying is not a thing that matters. Worry does nothing but add stress to my life. I can’t change others views or actions. That isn’t up to me. I can’t change anything about another person; be it their habits, parenting skills, or lifestyle. I can just pray for their safety and guidance from my God. Because one thing is for sure, it is in His hands. Turning it over to the Lord matters.

Through all this I have learned to stop wishing my days away waiting for a better one to come. I have lost and gained so much in my short 23 years old earth. And no matter if I die today or live another eighty years, my life will only be a fleeting glimpse of time here on earth. My faith matters.It is through my faith that I can believe in things I cannot see, dream of a better place, and find comfort in knowing that I will reunite with my Christian loved ones that have died too soon. Endings are never a happy portion of life. Be it the ending of a life or the last bite of a hot doughnut; the end always sucks. That doesn’t matter, because it doesn’t exist. The Christian life is merely a continuum that we cannot fathom or begin to understand. Our brains are hardwired for finite instances. But that is not what the existence of a Christian person consists of. We are in a constant period of waiting. Waiting for an ending. Waiting for the next beginning. Whatever you do, just make sure you wait actively. Don’t confuse waiting with complacency. Take control and wait with a purpose. Do something while you wait. Be somebody, anybody, whoever you want to be.

 

These are things that matter.