Comfort in the Uncomfortable

What does it mean to be comfortable to you?

 Comfort is a warm fuzzy blanket, a book in my hand, a warm mug of coffee or tea, and a quiet house.


Of course, those cherished moments are just that, cherished moments. To be comfortable​ in the day to day existence…What does that look like?
I told a friend once that I don’t think God wants us to be comfortable for too long. During that particular time in my life, I had just left a long-time job to try something new. This “new” was different and very uncomfortable.

I believe it is during these challenging periods of life that we experience the most growth. I realized that even when my job was hard, I could find something to be grateful for. Believe me, I’m definitely not trying to sugar coat anything or be “Pollyanna” about this…Some days finding something good in a difficult day was, well, hard.

Some days may be like a typical dinner conversation with our son…

Me: “Jay-R, how was school? What was the best thing that happened today?”

My son, with a smile on his face as he gets ready to take a bite of food, “It ended.”

 Maybe some days​, you are grateful to have just made it through yet another day. 


My prayer into work has become a prayer of “God I have no idea what I might face today, but I say yes to whatever comes my way because I know You will be right there with me.”
Greater trust. Overcoming anxiety one moment at a time. Glimpses into what really matters to me in my life. All lessons in the uncomfortable.

Yesterday morning I read this in my In Touch devotional by Charles Stanley…“We must accept that God’s priority for us is transformation into Christ’s image and not necessarily comfortable circumstances.”

Paul shares in Philippines 4:11…

Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. 

Times of plenty, times of less. Times of sickness, times of health. Times of comfortable, times of uncomfortable.

Finding comfort in the uncomfortable….Perhaps this is on my mind so much as I reflect on the message of Easter. Christ endured the greatest “uncomfortable” for me, for you, for us. He was ostracized, ridiculed, beaten, mocked, and hung to die a pain staking death. Why? So that we can live a life full of His grace, His love, His mercy, His peace, and His hope.

Is comfort possible in the uncomfortable?

I think it is when our hearts are open to what He is wanting to whisper into our souls. 

My friend, all things are possible through Him.

I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13

How about you…Where has God spoken​ to you in the uncomfortable?

Bridges

I like crossing bridges. Usually. I have this one memory of crossing a very narrow wire bridge at a mountain area with my husband shaking the bridge. The height combined with the shaking…not my favorite moment. He realized quickly how much I hate heights and feeling unsteady!!

For the most part, though, I love bridges. When we hike, we know if we cross a bridge, something awaits us on the other side. Sometimes, it is a beautiful waterfall. Other times, it is simply crossing to the other side to continue our journey into the woods. Usually driving over bridges involves passing over a body of water.

Bridges also have symbolic meaning to me. Right now, I feel like I am experiencing a bridge in my life. I am growing spiritually, professionally, and personally. I am reflecting and evaluating what I desire from life.
Bridges are ….

  • The only way to reach the other side. Literally, if you are crossing a bridge over the ocean to an island, you must drive your car over the bridge. Figuratively, if you have a goal or dream, you must be willing to take steps of faith to cross the bridge between where you are and where you want to be.
  • Bridges are transitions in life. I am not the same person I was a year ago. Where I am right now in life is opening my eyes and heart to where I want to journey and that looks very different than what it did a year ago. 
  • Bridges are hopeful places. I am learning a lot about myself. I am stronger than I thought I was. I am learning to trust God deeper. If I can get over this bridge, no matter how long it is, I can persevere to my dreams. The crossing over the uncertain waters can be scary, but if I keep my eyes on God, I feel hopeful.

If you aren’t exactly where you had hoped to be at this point in life, maybe where you are is the bridge to where you desire to be. You may need time to stop and reflect, but don’t get stuck in disappointment. Keep moving forward.

I encourage you to read Draw the Circle by Mark Batterson. It is a 40 day prayer challenge. This book is helping me to see prayer in a renewed, powerful sense and giving me courage to pray myself forward on this bridge trusting God to lead me.
May He grant you according to your heart’s desire, and fulfill all your purpose. Psalm 20:4 NKJV

Slow Down

It was Saturday night, and I had the rare occasion of an officially declared date night with my husband. We were both determined to do something more than just grocery shopping. Lol…The married life. 

I am happy to say that we took advantage of the nice weather and went for a walk in one of the city metroparks. Some of the trails were closed due to high water, so we ended up on multiple trails to piece together our walk. My husband told me at one point…You don’t have to walk so fast….

Walking fast…. That’s just what I do. I have the reputation at work of walking fast and with purpose. What do you think I saw just a few short minutes later into our walk after he told me that??

Slow. 
And that is definitely a message God wants me to embrace. Slow down….And breathe, and wait, and embrace, and pause, and the list goes on. Just slow down.

Prayer is about communication with God and trusting He is listening. With this comes trusting in His timing. So often, I want an answer soon….Like yesterday. I know that I am not alone in wishing for quicker response to prayer especially in the middle of hard things.

God’s way might feel like the slow way, but He is working things out for our good, moving mountains, orchestrating the pieces, and speaking truths we need to hear along the way if we will listen.

Slow also applies to simply slowing down and not flying through life. Sure, we are all busy, but the older I get, I find myself wanting life to slow down. I don’t want to miss moments. There are opportunities to laugh, to reflect, to share coffee with a friend, to linger over a bridge during a walk, and to notice the flowers beginning to bloom.

My point is….Slow Down and enjoy life. Nichole Nordeman has a song titled Slow Down. While the song is about children growing up too fast and was the accompanying song to my many tears during the time of my daughter’s graduation, it captures the essence of living life a little slower and more intentional.
Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest. Mark 6:31 NIV
 If the Bible mentions the need to get away from the busyness for quiet and rest, then I think that slowing down is something God wants for us, too.

Reflect on your week…Can you think of a simple way you took time to slow down or a way you can in the week to come or even today? For me…Lingering over the bridge at the metropark enjoying the sound of moving water even if it was brown in color offered a moment of intentionally slowing down.

Have a great week!!

You’re not the same person…

You’re not the same person…Those are the words I heard a few days ago as I sat in my counselor’s office. Encouraged by a friend a few months ago, I decided to see someone to help me work through my anxiety.

I went a few weeks before Christmas and that first visit was very uncomfortable. I don’t particularly like to talk about myself. I answered his questions and listened a lot that first visit. When I left that night, I told my friend, I am never going back. The next day, I found myself using some of the ideas he had shared with me about anxiety. I decided maybe I could learn something. So, I made another appointment.

I think God wants us uncomfortable sometimes. When we are too comfortable, we can become complacent with the way things are. As uncomfortable as I felt sitting one on one with someone talking through my anxiety, I realized that I was willing to endure this uncomfortable feeling in order to move forward. Complacency with anxiety was not a place I wanted to rest and remain.

I have poured myself into the Word the past few months. The hour morning commute is a great time for prayer 1-1 with God. I listen to praise and worship music. I have committed to memorizing Scripture. Mark Hall from Casting Crowns said at the concert I attended…(paraphrased)…When you are in the middle of a storm, you are not going to recall a verse you have never read. In other words, pour yourself into the Word, so you have the words stored away.

So, I have decided to be uncomfortable and go back to my counselor. Each visit is a little easier. He has taught me several things…
1. Give yourself permission to let go of things and not rehash them over and over.

2. Rename your beliefs. When anxiety strikes, I can now call it what it is and pray my way through it. (Philippians 4:6-7)

3. Be okay with knowing I did my best.

4. Take time for me. Breaks are important. I am worth it. Breathe.

5. Quit second guessing myself​. Make a decision and be okay with it. If it ends up not being the best decision, reflect, learn from it, and move on.

So, as I sat in his office the other day as the wind gently blew in through the window of the upstairs office, I felt a sense of peace and calm which have grown to replace the intense uncomfortable feeling. 

You’re not the same person you were a few months ago. You seem more relaxed.”

Those words were a breath of fresh air to my soul. He’s right. I am not the same person. Do I still have times of anxiousness? Yes. Do I still find myself second guessing myself? Yes. But, I can work through these things. They do not have the power over me they once did just a few short months ago.

Sometimes, you may not see the progress you are making. Sometimes, it takes someone else to recognize it in you to remind you that you are a beautiful work in progress. God’s beautiful work…He is not finished with you. He is writing your story. No matter where you are in life, every story has a beginning.

Confused Flowers and Brokenness

I’m in a bit of a slump. I’m not sure why or how I found myself here. I think I am simply tired and exhausted on so many levels.

Yesterday, it snowed in my neck of the woods. The spring flowers are confused after the unseasonably warm February days. As I looked at my neighbor’s slumped over yellow flowers blanketed by snow, I thought, that’s just about how I feel.

Broken. Defeated. Tired. Confused.

Like the flowers pushing forth and attempting to spread some sunshiney joy and then unexpectedly set back by a little snow… It feels a bit like, well, life. Things are going well, life happens, and then you feel defeated, discouraged, drained.

A passage from Psalms flashed through my mind as I snapped the picture of the flowers.

My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise. Psalm 51:17

And, just like that standing there shivering in my driveway looking at my neighbor’s pathetic flowers​, I was reminded that God welcomes our brokenness.

Perfectionism is not my purpose.
Sigh. How often I forget this and try to aim for something I can never attain. 

No wonder I am tired.

God honors our broken spirit. I find that a lot of the time, I overthink, I work too hard, I push myself too much.

The answer isn’t working harder. It is trusting God more. Listening. Accepting that I can only do so much in a day. It is learning to be okay with knowing that I will never make everyone happy. 

I try to pray during my commute into work. I pray that God will help me through whatever comes my way. He already knows what I will face. My response to it is my choice. 

My current situation? The slump I am in? I think I am tired. Life is filled with pressures and expectations. Sometimes, a snow storm can beat down the flowers, but that isn’t the end of the story or the end of my story.

God is working. We don’t see the details, but He is paving the way. 
But forget all that-it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?  I will make a path through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. Isaiah 43:18-19

God honors your broken spirit. There’s always hope for the spring.

Is there anything good about Anxiety?

Anxiety is a battle. If you suffer from anxiety, then you understand that battle.

What if you gave that anxiety to God and quit looking at it as a bad thing?

I just finished reading The Anxious Christian…Can God Use Your Anxiety for Good? by Rhett Smith.

The concepts, ideas, and messages in this short little book have been life changing words for my once very anxious soul. The book is now filled with highlighted sections and my scribbled words in the white spaces of the margins. 
Page 101…When you finally acknowledge your own anxiety and face it for what it is, then you enter into that reimagining process as God takes your anxiety and helps you follow Him into the places He is calling you toward. He is calling you into a relationship where your anxiety is dependent on Him and not the things you do. (Rhett Smith)

Over the past several months, I have discovered that being open with people whom I trust about my anxiety, seeing a counselor at the advice of a friend, pouring myself into prayer and God’s Word, and reading helpful things like this book, have really carried me and guided me on my journey over anxiety.

There is such healing power in truth and understanding. As my eyes are opened to the “why’s” behind my anxious thoughts, then it is easier for me to take a step forward and not become stuck in a place of anxiety.

If you struggle with anxiety, I encourage you to read this book as part of your healing process over anxiety. Yes, anxiety is still a part of my life, but it no longer defines me. When I feel anxious thoughts coming on, I turn them over to God.

God really does care about our anxieties and He can and will use everything for His good in our lives, even anxiety.

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28

#anxiety #healing

A Sense of Control

Control. Positive or negative? It all depends.

Webster dictionary defines control as the power to influence or direct people’s behaviors or the course of events.

Perfectionism and control freak closely mirror one another. When I want everything to be perfect, then I am trying to control the situation. Perfectionism, control, performance…Huge creators of anxiety for me.

Here’s what I am learning…So little is truly within my control. This realization has been freeing.

I cannot control the weather. I cannot control the actions and reactions of other people. I cannot control decisions made by the higher ups in my organization or my husband’s company. I cannot control car issues. You get the picture.

What is within my control? I can choose the way I react to challenges and difficult people. I can make choices that impact my health. I can learn to say “no” sometimes. I can choose to put God first every single day.

During my first counseling session, my counselor told me that anxiety and depression are often closely connected. I went to him for help with anxiety. I certainly was not depressed. 

Well, in the weeks that followed that session as I dealt with the busyness of the Christmas season at work and home, I began to consider that maybe I was feeling depressed. 

Depression to me feels like a sense of loss of control of everything around me. During the holidays, I know that I am not alone in feeling this way. 

With the dawning of a new year, I find that I am reflective in what I hope for this new year. In these reflections, I am acknowledging areas I have control over and those I do not. This certainly helps me with the pressures and expectations I place on myself.

A few examples…

Discovering that coffee makes me jittery and adds to my feelings of anxiety, means that I can choose to drink green tea instead.

Desiring more time with my family means I can set boundaries at work to help with time management.

Situations of conflict and tension… I can pray before I react in anger or another unhealthy emotion.

I am learning to discern between letting go of what I cannot control and feeling empowered to make choices in what I can control.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6