Breaking Up Is…

There’s an old song from 1960 sang by Neil Sedaka that has the title, Breaking Up Is Hard to Do. The song finds Sedaka pleading with a girl, asking her to remember the good times, as he knows he’ll be in misery if she leaves. I wonder how she answered his plea. Good times are great, but it takes an overall look at the relationship to decide whether or not it’s worth the time and energy to continue. 

I’m ten days in to breaking up, not with my man (whom I adore!) but with social media which in turn gives me space from my phone. Did you know there is a phobia of not having your phone? It’s called nomophobia. According to dictionary.com it’s “a term that first appeared in the results of a 2008 UK Post Office study which contracted UK research agency YouGov to study anxiety in mobile phone users. The term is a portmanteau of no, mobile, phone, and phobia.”

There’s also a phenomenon called phantom vibration syndrome which occurs when a person thinks his or her phone is ringing, dinging or vibrating when it actually isn’t. I have a friend whose arm had been amputated as a child and she talked about phantom pain or itching where her forearm was supposed to be. Same kind of thing. Only we’re talking about a phone not a limb. We’ve become so “attached” that it becomes a part of us, an extension of who we are, so much so that we find ourselves hearing or feeling things that didn’t happen. Often times it’s the reason why we are constantly checking our phone, and we don’t even realize we’re doing it. 

Bet you didn’t find those fun facts out on any of your social media sites! 

So, how AM I doing ten days into this break up?  

To quote Dave Ramsey, Better than I deserve! No really! 

The night before I was headed to the dark side of the moon, I went to bed with a sick-to-my-stomach feeling. How ridiculous is that? I went to bed wondering how I would stay connected, as if I had never had a social life prior to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. 

I have a friend, Lysa, who is traveling this road with me and shared some thoughts she wrote in her journal the night before catapulting herself into disconnection: 

Tonight I’m a little nervous.

Will I be able to let it all go cold turkey? 

How will I connect with people? 

What will I miss out on? 

How much extra time will I have? 

So, I’m not the only one. 

There are things I miss a bit like the convenience of groups and communicating or finding out things that are going on. But then my friends have actually texted or called…you know…what a phone was originally used for. And would you believe I’ve had more face to face conversations in the past ten days then I have in a long time. Porch swinging and problem solving go hand in hand. Conversations with real people tend to make you not think in black and white but in shades of grey (and more than 50!) 

I wonder if anyone misses me…which sounds so asinine to think that a grown woman would wonder this about her cyber-space friends…but I told you I’d be honest! (Cue the Pink Floyd song Is There Anybody Out There?)

I miss sharing my ordinary days because today life is anything but ordinary and I think people appreciate (and need) the simpler things. So, here are a few pics around the farm: 

There are things I don’t miss. Political agendas. Keyboard warriors. Useless bickering. Watching hamsters run on a wheel and get nowhere…but keep running little fella…you’ll win your argument eventually. Sarcasm (ahem). Hatred. Comparison. Just to name a few. 

I found that I’d developed the bad habit of waking up, rolling over and grabbing my phone to check emails, Facebook and Instagram “real quick” before my feet even hit the floor. Now I wake up, stretch and say a quick prayer to start the day. I’ve turned off my notifications (for email) at night and don’t check anything until after I’ve had some coffee and quiet time. What a difference that has made! 

The first couple of days I found myself reaching for my phone for a perfunctory peek through the land of make believe that is social media only to realize the reason was either boredom or comfort. Let’s talk about those two things for a second. 

Bored was a word we NEVER used around my Granny because she would find our behinds something to do if we dared speak the words I’m bored within her earshot and it was NEVER anything fun. So, being a “Granny” myself now, that’s exactly what I do…find myself something to do. I no longer have the excuse: I don’t have time. So much more gets done when you don’t get lost in the roll of the scroll. I read more, write more, swing more, garden more, talk with friends more.

Then there’s the comfort factor. If you read anything at all about technology addiction there is a chemical messenger called dopamine that your brain sends along a reward pathway which makes you feel good. Dopamine is comfort. Comfort (dopamine) comes when you get a like or comment or heart eyes or share or any social media notification, it’s like a validation that you’re okay, because, see how many people “like” you. Geesh. 

Now whenever I need comfort, I reach for the gallon of Chocolate Coconut Almond ice cream…oh wait…that’s a whole other level of issue…

But seriously, I’ve had to remind myself that staying connected to the Vine (John 15) is enough validation for me. I am who God says I am not because He sent a heart emoji to a Facebook post but because He sent His One and Only. We are all made in the image of God not the images we scroll through and sigh because somehow, we don’t measure up. 

Maybe that’s something you need reminded of as well.

I’m ten days in and I’ve already learned a lot about myself. And my friend Lysa? She’s doing beautifully and is surprised how little she misses it and how much she’s gotten done! Lots of good stuff that I’ll share more of after another ten days. 

Now I don’t want to paint a false picture. I love the time it frees up and it’s great to get off the dopamine roller coaster of need for likes, but when you’re a writer whose main readership comes from social media, you do tend to hum along with Pink Floyd quite a bit. IS there anybody out there? 

Breaking up isn’t as hard to do as I thought but I’m a work in progress.  

kw

Cyber-Space: the Behavior, the Bull, the Bully

Once I was let down into a deep well into which chokedamp had settled, and nearly lost my life. The deeper I was immersed in the invisible poison, the less capable I became of willing measures of escape from it. And in just this condition are those who toil or dawdle or dissipate in crowded towns, in the sinks of commerce or pleasure. (John Muir) 

Our use of technology, looking at screens and social media has been around long enough now that study results are beginning to come in, and the results do not bode well for us canaries in the coal mine. Gas is leaking and we are clueless. 

Hours of scrolling through other people’s picture-perfect lives (thank you (?) Pinterest!), being available 24/7(iPhone or iCrazy?), and round the clock news, feeding us images of war, waste and want, leaves us depleted and confused emotionally, physically and spiritually. We hear and see so much information that it’s impossible to process it all. 

And yet, still we try. We don’t shut it off even though the deeper we immerse ourselves the less capable we become of escaping it. Maybe we can’t. Maybe we’re drowning in an invisible poison we can’t see, feel or smell. We have no idea, the damage we’re doing to ourselves, our brains and dare I say, even our souls. 

Perhaps that sounds a bit dramatic but is it really?

 The Behavior

From Dr. Eva’s File

Fred sat in my office looking for help with stress management. It wasn’t his idea; it was his wife’s. She had threatened to leave him if he didn’t seek help. During the one-hour visit, Fred checked his incoming text messages five times and answered two of the four phone calls, saying first, “Do you mind? This is important.”

Does this sound familiar? Oh, we might think to ourselves, we would never do that in a doctor’s office!  Except for that one lady who had to be asked to put her phone away as she walked down the hall to her room and the gynecologists office. Maybe that’s not you but they are out there. What about when you’re out to dinner with friends or coffee with a girlfriend or at your kids soccer game or at the family dinner table? Are we more worried about getting the perfect picture of our plate than the company we’re with? Has being available to everyone else via text messaging become more important than watching your daughter play basketball or your son’s piano recital? 

Trust me, I’m guilty too. That invisible poison can’t be seen but it can sure show up in our behavior. 

Back to our friend Fred: 

From the history I was able to get, it turned out Fred, who had an “important” job, spent 12 hours a day working, including during his hour-long commute, allowing little time for exercise, self-care or downtime. 

I asked him, “What do you think you would have done if you were in this office 20 years ago when smartphones, e-mail and such did not exist?” He thought for a minute before answering, “Probably pay attention and learn how to relax!”

I then explained to Fred the consequences of an overactivated stress response system that does not have the chance to get a break, rest or relax: depression and anxiety, heart disease and hypertension, inflammatory disorders, musculoskeletal problems, memory loss, immune compromise…”Shall I continue?” I asked. (Your Brain on Nature by Dr. Eva M. Selhub pg 49) 

Bottom line? Don’t be a Fred.  Put down your phone. 

We lose valuable IQ points through the act of texting and email. The ping of notices on our phones destroy creativity, leading us down a dead-end road, blank canvas and blinking cursor. We lose profitable performance at work, treasured time with family and our recall ability is cut by half. 

Fear Fred’s future. Put down your device. 

The Bull

Scroll through any social media medium and it doesn’t take long to get the sense that everyone else’s lives are spot on. You often walk away feeling as if your kids are the only ones who mess up, your husband is the only one who snores, and you are the only one with baby fat from your last pregnancy. Did I mention my youngest is 16? 

Flipping through social media can cause problems you didn’t even know you needed to have. You’re happy with your life until you’re not because of what you think is someone else’s picture perfect. Don’t always believe what you see. 

Take for example Rachel Hollis of Girl, Wash Your Face New York Times best seller fame. She posted this picture of her and her husband on Instagram with the caption: Today on the podcast @mrdavehollis and I are talking about how quarantine has affected our, ahem, “make out sessions.” Yes. We went there. If you’re in a relationship the RISE Together podcast is just for you. 

That was on April 30th

Then, on June 8th, just 39 days later, same pic, much different message: 

Don’t think I’m picking on the Hollis’. It’s very sad that their marriage is ending. I’m not saying to put all your business out on social media for all to see and have an opinion on. But for the love, don’t talk about a “make out sesh” when the reality is your marriage is the Titanic and has been sinking for quite some time. Warning: Iceberg straight ahead!

People’s comments went from sad to mad, grieved to deceived, feeling duped and having wasted their money and time on the books, retreats and podcasts that was meant to show people how to be just like them because they are normal people just like us. 

Do no harm, but you can keep your bull.  (And using the same pic? That’s just weird.)

This is just the one example I happened to notice on Instagram. There are so many more. I’m not sure who is more foolish, the ones who think they can keep all the plates spinning or the ones who are in awe of all the spinning plates. 

And the poison just keeps seeping. 

The Bullying

Have you noticed lately how many more experts we currently have living in the United States? A pandemic happens and suddenly everyone has M.D. after their name. Racial tensions are high and presto, people have a degree in sociology: the study and explanation of society and human interaction. 

Who knew? Social media is filled with doctors, lawyers, PhD’s in sociology and anthropology, and authorities on race relations. All manner of opinions. All opinions are, of course, based on solid facts from Facebook finds. Wait. What? Facebook isn’t the best resource for fact finding?

When really all they have is a Bachelor’s in Bullying. 

Keyboard Warriors who can rip apart a person they don’t even know faster than Superman can fly. That speeding bullet kills relationships, friendships and families; leaving them beaten, bloodied and bruised. All in the name of thinking you’re right about something you may have no idea about. And yet, they click their keys, spew their venom, close their computer and care not the damage they’ve done. 

Warrior indeed. Whimp more like it. 

According to Dr. Eva SelhubSocial media was supposed to link us together. Yet, for all the talk of connectivity via gadgets, it does not seem to be translating into a more caring world, at least not in North America. The ability to exhibit an emotional response to someone else’s distress have dropped 49 percent since 1980. Perspective taking, an intellectual understanding of another person’s situational and individual circumstances, has declined by 34 percent. (Your Brain on Nature pg 43) 

In other words, we stop caring about people and care more about our personal perspective, purview, and productivity. 

Compassion be damned. I’ll show them because I know I’m right! Who cares if I don’t know you! You’re an idiot, obviously!!

What a sad existence it must be to be a keyboard warrior, an internet bully, always pushing people around in a pretend world. 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

How do I even wrap this up? None of us control the bull or the bullying. But we can control the behavior. It may not be as easy as you think. According the Dr. Eva…

Although not official diagnoses yet, “Internet addiction” and “digital-device addiction” are terms batted around by the medical community. Currently, (this book was published in 2012 so I imagine this number is higher) 42 percent of Americans flat-out agree with the statement that they “cannot live without” their mobile phones and more than half of adults also state that both they and their kids spend too much time online. (Your Brain on Nature pg 48) 

Addicted? I’m not addicted. You’re addicted! 

So, the behavior is to not be like Fred and instead put down my phone. If Facebook makes me furious, why not give myself the freedom to take some time and spend it with real family and friends instead of virtual ones? If Instagram feels more like Image-gram, then why keep scrolling when I can be strolling through nature instead? 

Control the behavior. It’s what I’ll be doing in the month of July as I take a respite from all things social media. I’ll be writing about the experience of the experiment as honestly as I can. No one likes to think they’re addicted to something, especially the pings on a phone from a message or the likes or the comments….they say it’s like a hit of dopamine. Maybe that’s the invisible gas of our day. Sigh…

Finding sacred in the simple. It’s been my mantra for quite some time. That’s where I’ll be if you need me.

And making sure the canary still sings. 

kw

Handling the Manic of Panic

I caught myself doing it the other day. Allowing my mind to wander to a place it shouldn’t. That place where fear freezes any part of the brain that is logical. I told my man, I feel vulnerable. You see, I’m healing from not one but two recent surgeries, first to repair a tendon tear from which I still can’t put full weight on my right leg or move certain ways. The second was for some surgical sites that weren’t healing. That one stitched up the open wounds but made my vocal cords mad from being intubated again, so they are refusing to work above a whisper. 

As we were talking through my I feel vulnerable statement, I recognized where fear moved straight into the frontal lobe of my mind (where logic lacks sometimes) without so much as a knock on the door. He pitched his tent and set up camp like he owned the place. 

You’ll never be able to outrun this thing. And you can’t even scream for help. 

This “thing” being the coronavirus. Have you heard of it? 

This thought was a flash. A momentary blip blinking in my brain. 

Ridiculous right? 

How does one outrun something they cannot see? Even with both legs working, this was the stuff and nonsense that was making me feel defenseless. 

Now I had a choice: let it spiral me into a manic of panic or let faith be bigger than my fear. 

The writer of Hebrews says it this way: The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. (Hebrews 11:1 The MSG)

Faith is my firm foundation. My handle on what I cannot see. 

Will I have faith? Will I fear what I cannot see? Or will I trust the One who sees what I cannot? The One who knows the number of my days (Psalm 139:16)

**********

What if you have let that flash of fear in your frontal lobe lob a rocket of irrational thinking with no return ticket to sanity? Let’s use the word calm as an acronym. (I know, I know. The last thing you want is for someone to tell you to calm down but it’s better than throwing a cup of cold water in your face and is what’s needed in this madness we’re experiencing.) 

Common sense. Use it. There are mandates and restrictions in place for a reason. You may not agree with all of them, but this isn’t just about you. You may be fine, but others are more vulnerable…like the elderly and immunosuppressed. 

For the love, stop hoarding like it’s the zombie apocalypse! Some folks can wipe their rears for the next century! They will be long gone and the only inheritance their children will get will be the 24 packs of Charmin divided 4 ways that will still be stored in their basement.

Be smart. Stock up but don’t hoard. 

In God’s economy, what good is prosperity if it isn’t shared? Divine vitality breeds hospitality, and hoarding is appallingly unholy. To love self without loving neighbor is to know nothing at all of the love of God. (From Chasing Vines by Beth Moore pg 221)

My God will supply all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. (From Saint Paul, Philippians 4:19NIV) 

Abide. In Him. Before you turn on CNN, CNBC or Fox News maybe try reading the Good News. 

It’s no coincidence that I have been reading through a Devotional Psalter each day for my morning devotion. I say each day, but I got “behind” a couple days. There is no such thing as behind in God’s timing. I read through a couple in one sitting. Hear the words of King David in Psalm 31: 

In you, O Lord, do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame….be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me! For you are my rock and my fortress…But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, “you are my God.” My times are in your hand. (vv 1-3, 14-15) 

Or how about this commentary on Psalm 33 from the author of the same book: 

The resounding note of Psalm 33 is the endless rule of God in heaven over all that happens on earth. Over all the madness and chaos of this world, all the political conflicts and military endeavors and voting booths and family dysfunctions and physical illnesses and financial meltdowns—God reigns. His sovereign supervision directs all that unfolds here in this life. 

Was I behind in my reading? I think not. I think my behind was right where it needed to be…in His word and His timing was perfect. 

Never mind the fact that I am studying Ezra for an upcoming Bible study where this same God moved the heart of King Cyrus to allow the people to be freed from exile so they could go back to their city and rebuild the temple, the walls and their worship. All at the expense of the king’s treasury…they didn’t have to pay for any of it. 

Are you listening fear? That’s the same sovereign God, my God, that rules today! Not one single thing happening in the world today is a surprise to Him. Not one. 

Light. Be it. Shine it so the darkness does not win. Let the Church rise above the pandemonium and BE the church. Love the least of these. Check in on your neighbor. Share. Care. Be there. (If you are healthy and able.)

It’s times like these that we have the opportunity to show Jesus to others and I sure don’t want others to think Jesus is a jerk because of the way I treat others during a time of crisis. You know, like, grabbing 25 cans of tuna and the last 6 packs of TP on the shelf. Or running like your life depended on it to the meat counter at Costco. 

Maybe we need to take Jesus literally when He tells Peter to feed His sheep. Maybe we need to stop talking about Jesus and show people Jesus instead. Maybe Jesus comes in the form of a jar of Jiffy.  

Lots of churches are joining together to collect food for the kids who rely on school breakfasts and lunches now that all schools in Ohio are closed for 3 weeks. This is my church being the church.

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and our clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me. (Matthew 25: 35-36, 40 NIV) 

Mind. Manage it. There’s much we can’t control so we need to control those things we can. Watch what you take in. Be informed but limit your exposure to the mayhem. It’s so easy to get caught up in the media’s magic of mind control. 

Read a book. Learn a new language. Put a puzzle together. Listen to your favorite music. Memorize scripture. Go outside. Get some sun on your face. Put your hands in the dirt. Meditate. Go to coffee with a friend and talk about anything BUT scary things. Pray. Do something kind for someone. Smile. Start a gratitude journal. Light a candle. Play a board game with your family. Exercise. Clean. Laugh. Love. 

I have a daily choice. I can let fear win. Or I can let my faith be greater. I will leave you with this: I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13 NIV)

Here is a link to 25 verses to help ease your anxiety. I pray it helps you like it helps me. 

kw

I Loathe Blanket Statements

thumbnail

When my kiddos were younger we had a rule that we weren’t to use the words never or always. As in you never let me do anything or you always take his side. While it may seem that way sometimes, very rarely are never/always statements true. In fact they can be suffocating, taking the oxygen right out of a conversation.

A close cousin to always and never is “all.” It is precarious to make blanket statements using the word all like an umbrella that neatly fits everyone under one space. Here are a couple I’ve seen floating around…

All Women Should Automatically Be Believed

Before your panties get all wadded up, hear me out. I am an advocate for women. I want to see women succeed. I want to see women heard. I want no woman to be abused or neglected or made to feel unloved, incompetent or undeserving.

But it’s a dangerous thing to say that someone should be believed simply based on her gender alone. As if women are not capable of lying. That’s a slippery slope on a road to no good. Every single one of us (male and female) has within them the ability to lie.

It’s a tale as old as time. Potiphar’s wife lied when Joseph refused to sleep with her. (Genesis 39) Moses’ family did it to keep him alive. (Exodus 2) Corrie Ten Boom hid Jews in her home to keep them from being sent to horrific concentration camps. There have been court cases that have made national news of women who have lied about being assaulted (think Duke lacrosse.) I have seen firsthand the destruction caused by fabricated stories.

Whatever the reason (either for the saving of some or the destruction of others) the point here is that women had and will continue to have the capability to lie. We are broken people living in a fallen world. So to say women are to be believed simply because they are women is unhealthy and unwise.

All Men are Pigs

I get it. I really do. We are bombarded with news of more women coming forward with stories of abuse. It’s horrendous and I hate it. I have my own story that I’ve shared bits and pieces of as well. That’s why I understand how easy it is for the pendulum to swing towards this blanket statement.

It took me many years to not see a white man with a God awful tight perm and assume he was a child molester. For a very long time cigar smoke made me go into fight or flightmode. But not every man who smokes a cigar abuses women.

There are kind men in the world. Decent men, who respect women and who are just as abhorred at the thought of women being abused, neglected and treated unfairly. They just don’t usually make the evening news because kindness doesn’t get ratings.

I’ve seen much name calling on social media feeds. Women who hate being called names but who in turn name call. Doesn’t that make you the very thing you are shouting out against…a name caller?

My grandsons play that game. One calls one a bozo so the other one shouts back that they are not a bozo and proceeds to call the original name caller a poopy-faced bozo. Take that why don’t ya! Things quickly spiral out of control and they both get in trouble while continuing to finger point and name call all the way to time out.

Are we not more mature than four and five year olds?

Sigh…

What are we to do?

First, avoid using blanket statements. Nothing snuffs out a conversation like using the words always, never and all. It will put defenses up and walls built. (We don’t need a president to build the walls, we are doing a great job at building them ourselves and keeping each other out.)

Second, be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves. (Matthew 10:16NLT) That is to say be prudent yet straightforward. Jesus prefaced that with, Stay alert. This is hazardous work I’m assigning you. You’re going to be like sheep running through the wolf pack…(Matthew 10:16 MSG) Man did he know what he was talking about!

Third, stop with the tit for tat. Choose to rise above the noise and go do something for someone who needs hope in humanity. Show someone love and respect and kindness.

Want to really hurt your (perceived) enemy? Feed him if he’s hungry. Give him a drink if he’s thirsty. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head and the Lord will reward you. (Proverbs 25:21-22)

Today. Do it today.

(Is that the smell of singed hair from burning coals of kindness? Yes and amen!!)

kw

 

 

Not Your Standard Measure

fullsizeoutput_364

When I was just a little bitty girl I would sit at the kitchen table and watch my Granny whip up all kinds of goodies. Cookies, cakes, crust for pies, noodles, potpie, apple turnovers, bread, rolls…you name it, she could bake it.

When I got above knee high she would let me practice by giving me some of the left over pie dough to which I kneaded and balled up and rolled out with the fervor of a young Julia Childs. Add some melted butter with a sprinkle of cinnamon and sugar, roll that up, slice into pinwheels and bake it for a delicious treat. (That is if I hadn’t played with the dough too much….Granny still ate it like it was blue-ribbon-at-the-county-fair quality. Bless.)

Fast-forward a couple of decades and I wished I’d paid more attention as a teenager. Instead of dishing out a cup of sass, I should have written a few things down step-by-step. There’s something about having a hankering for one of Granny’s desserts and not remembering exactly how she did it.

Several years ago, on a fall day much like we’re having here in the Midwest, I was in the mood for her sweet potato pie so I called her. She was now in a nursing home, her days of baking long past because arteritis had taken her sight except for seeing some shadows. I wasn’t sure if she’d remember the recipe from decades ago but much to my delight she did!

There was one problem…she didn’t use a standard measuring cup to measure out anything. She used a coffee mug. And even then never filled it past full, never careful to tap the side and get the air out,  didn’t scrape the excess off the top with a butter knife. How did she know how much she used? She measured by “cup and feel”; I needed rocket science precision.

I was afraid if I didn’t use the standard way of measuring, my pie would be a disaster; I would be a failure because I didn’t measure the right way.

Sounds dramatic, doesn’t it?

I’ve been thinking a lot about that conversation lately and Granny using her own method to measure. There’s a deeper lesson to be learned. It’s easy to use the world’s standard of measure to determine whether we are winners or losers, whether we have worth or are worthless, whether we are a favorite or a failure.

Take for instance the scales….groan…I know, I know! The scale is a measurement in pounds of what your body weighs. It is a guideline for health. It is NOT a measure of your value. Do we want to be healthy? Absolutely! But don’t confuse your weight with your worth.

Being single doesn’t mean you aren’t seen. Marriage doesn’t make you greater. Divorce doesn’t mean you’re less than.  All three can be or are hard. None of them makes us any more or less worthy of love and acceptance.

I’ve been both a working and a stay-at-home Mom. Both have pros and cons. Both are hard in different ways. Neither should be my plumb line for purpose. Nor yours. Why? Jobs/careers can change on a dime. Pink slips can be given without warning. Kids grow up, become adults, and venture out into the world on their own (as they should!) If the measure of who I am is based on the above then my value is one fifth of what it once was because I’m down to one kid living at home and I haven’t worked a paying job for 15 years. No. My value isn’t based on my career outside or inside the home.

Speaking of kids, we should never measure the quota of our competency based solely on their successes or failures. I know kids who come from terrible situations but are determined to beat the odds and succeed. Others who come from beautiful families that do everything they can to be great parents, but have kids who choose to take a destructive path.  If the measure of who I am is based off of my own kids’ wins and losses then there would be times when my value was through the roof and others when it was in the tank.

Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram and a host of other social media outlets are not benchmarks for our own beauty, brains or bravery. Scroll through on any given day and see picture perfect, then look around and see how it makes you feel. I have many Pinterest attempts that were a bust. Others that were helpful. Some days/seasons I’m fine, others I watch how much screen time I allow myself because it is very easy to compare my movie reel to someone’s snapshot. Our “real” to someone’s carefully construed contortion can often leave us feeling lonely, left out and lacking.

The measure of who I am and who you are is not based on the world’s standard of measure. No. We are each created in the image of the One who sees us, hears us and loves us right where we are. Today. No matter the number on the scale. In your successes and failures. No matter if you have Miss, Mrs. or Ms. in front of your name. No matter if your kids are angels, prodigals or in juvenile detention. Whether your movie is a mess or picture perfect. You are his beloved and he delights in you!

My Granny may have been on to something. Grab a mug and offer the world a better standard.

kw

Taking Care of You During High Trigger Times

 

20229861_10212306502051947_2485552375117149788_o

I was turning into the last quarter of a six-mile walk when I spotted two construction trucks lining the road. They were parked in front of a house that sat a bit further than midway down a cul-de-sac. I stopped dead in my tracks as I watched the men go back and forth from their trucks to the outdoor project they were working on.

Do I dare keep walking my usual route?

I’ve walked this particular neighborhood many times, know several people who live in it and lovingly call it the ‘hood because it’s anything but with its beautiful homes on spacious, large lots. I always feel safe walking there, even when I’m alone.

Not today.

My thoughts were all over the place. From: I will not let them dictate where I will and will not walk. It’s the middle of the day for Pete’s sake. To: don’t be stupid, be safe. Turn around and walk away. Back to: you give them the power if you walk away. You can always scream you’re on your period if they try something. (side note: this was something a cop told a group of ladies to say at a defense class many years ago.) To: if something were to happen you know people will blame you. After all, why would you walk down a road by yourself knowing there are men there?

All those thoughts in a matter of seconds. I looked around at the houses on the rest of the street and there was not a neighbor or dog outside so I turned and walked away disappointed, angry, confused.

I finished the six-miles (except for that one little bit) but not without realizing we aren’t as far as we’d like to think in this world. Maybe we haven’t come a long way baby. I’d like to tell you this was many years ago instead of this past summer but I can’t.

For the rest of the walk I had flashes of things that I had put to rest long ago…

Like being disappointed in myself for letting them/him “win”.

Like berating myself for not having my phone with me at all times. Just in case. Just because. There may be a man. In the middle of the day. In a safe neighborhood. Or in my childhood home so I could swim.

Like telling myself I deserved what I got for having a bathing suit on when I was molested as a young teen. Never mind the fact that I had just come in from swimming. I was told that if I hadn’t been dressed like that…

So I exchanged the swimsuit for a cloak of shame that I wore until my early 30’s when a therapist told me it didn’t matter what I was wearing, what happened to me was wrong. He had no right to violate me. Period.

I should be able to swim in a bathing suit just like I should be able to walk down a cul-de-sac where construction workers are working without fear of being hurt. Without men justifying bad behavior or others excusing it because I’m the one who should know better.

I’m sharing this with you because this triggering, these thoughts, happened on a bright sunny day as I was doing something I love to do in a safe neighborhood. It caught me by surprise. But that’s what triggers do sometimes even after years of therapy.

I can only imagine what the news and social media outlets are doing to trigger some of you who are reading this. You can’t scroll through Facebook or watch the news lately without seeing loud opinions on both sides….I Believe Her. Confirm Kavanaugh Now. She’s a liar. He’s a rapist pig.…have brought out emotions, finger pointing and a marathon blame game of he-said, she-said played under the big top of Barnum and Bailey’s circus.

This post isn’t about that or even them.  It’s about you who may be tempted to put that cloak back on, blame or berate yourself or send yourself down a spiral of no good.

Take care of you. The counselor I see off and on now will ask at the beginning of each session how I’m doing in three areas: mind, body and spirit because all three make up the whole you and all three are important.

Here are some things I’ve been doing in each area to keep myself healthy during this high trigger time:

Mind. Turn off the news and put your phone down. I like to stay informed and want to know what’s going on too but I can watch for ten minutes and find out what I need to know. Social media was nothing but exhausting and had me so worked up mentally with all the name calling so I stopped scrolling. Watch a movie, read a book, meditate, pray, make affirmation cards, take a nap, take a class, look at recipes, have coffee/lunch/dinner with a friend…anything to engage the mind in a positive way.

Body. Get up and move. Get the positive endorphins going. Did you know you can’t be angry/depressed while you exercise? Ask a friend to take a walk in the park. Get outside. Breathe in some fresh air. Get your hands in the dirt. Take your shoes off and walk in the grass. (There is scientific evidence that this grounds you and there are microbials in the dirt that helps combat depression!) Eat healthy. It’s so easy to eat junk while mindlessly watching the news circus or scrolling through social media. Watch your alcohol intake. By watch I mean limit. Get the right amount of sleep for you and your body.

Spirit. Be still. Light a candle. Drink some tea. Read through the Psalms or Proverbs. Start a Bible study. Go to church. Connect with a small group. Serve others in some way…a nursing home, preschool, animal shelter or hospital. Volunteer somewhere. Write your favorite scriptures on a note card. Fresh sheets and new jammies are always a good thing.

Last but not least ask for help if you need it. Talk to someone, a friend, pastor or counselor.

You matter.

kw

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Letting Freedom Ring

3d74c0578c2c38e92280cb8d5d7f7412

Happy July! On this day in 1776 Congress voted to declare independence from Great Britain’s tyrannical king, George III. Two days later, on July 4th, the adoption of the Declaration of Independence was commemorated and has been celebrated in the United States ever since. Freedom fighters fought long and hard, blood was spilled, lives lost so we could live in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

I’ve been thinking a lot about freedom, freedom fighters and what it is to be a people who live free. I keep going back to this verse…

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1 NIV)

What does it mean to live truly free? Jesus’ whole mission was an operation of liberation. People were living under a heavy yoke of oppression with no hope of ever being able to live out the law. Besides that, the Pharisees kept adding to their load making the weight of it unbearable. We don’t begin to have enough space to talk about the Gentiles and their issues.

Jesus is the ultimate freedom fighter whose death lifted that yoke by fulfilling the law. Jews (and the Gentiles who thought part of following Christ was following Jewish law) were no longer under this laborious load of impossible rules and regulations. He had a new way, His way.

What does it mean to stay free? You would think that we would bask in this burden free way of living but as Timothy Keller says, our freedom is fragile and can slip from our grasp. (Galatians for You) Jesus brought with him a message so foreign, so unfamiliar to them (and us?) that I’m sure at times it was easier to slip that yoke back on. At least they knew the feel of it, heavy as it was. Anybody else go back to a comfort zone for the sake of the familiar?

But Paul says we have to stand firm against going back there. Living under the yoke of the law (spiritual) or the bondage of sin (physical/mental) are both enslaved ways to live and is the very thing Christ freed us from.

I sat down yesterday afternoon (this was not originally today’s scheduled post but it won’t leave me alone so here you go.) and came up with a list of what walking as free people in Christ looks like.

FREE PEOPLE…are forgiven

  • and forgiving
  • live loved
  • aren’t controlled by the past
  • or scared by the future
  • laugh more
  • rebel against the establishment (Jesus was a rebel!)
  • aren’t chained to bitterness or resentment
  • aren’t afraid
  • aren’t easily offended
  • see beauty in the broken and worth in the wounded
  • are for the outcasts, misfits and least of these
  • don’t judge
  • are dangerous to some (the Pharisees who don’t like free)
  • aren’t afraid to speak the truth
  • let go
  • don’t harbor, hoard or hate
  • don’t manipulate
  • be self-controlled not controlling of others
  • listen long
  • simmer slow
  • love the unlovely
  • know their worth
  • give more
  • notice
  • don’t take anything for granted
  • appreciate differences
  • don’t feel the need to always be heard
  • breathe easier
  • sleep better
  • are kinder, gentler beings
  • know meek ain’t weak
  • love lavishly

…just to name a few!

Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you. (Galatians 5:1 MSG)

Be a freedom fighter. Bust out, be brave, live free!

Feel free (see what I did there) to add your thoughts on what living free in Christ looks like in the comments section below.

kw