Hope, Keeping it Real

Operating in the And Also

There’s a term, a thing, in psychology called black and white thinking. It also could be referred to as splitting or polarized thinking. 

If you have done recovery work, are doing recovery work and have ever experienced trauma maybe you can understand this idea of black and white thinking. It’s a life stealer if you ask me. I used to operate there regularly, and have learned to operate in the “and also” over the years. 

The polarized thinking that steals pieces of our lives, relationships, opportunities and memories maybe sounds like: 

  • It is or it isn’t there is not in between.
  • He is the best thing that ever happened to me or he is the devil incarnate there is no in between.
  • You always. 
  • You never.
  • It always….
  • It never….

That thought pattern keeps us from seeing the world as it is: complex and full of different shades of every color in between black and white. Right? It holds us in a place of extremes, and nobody likes to live at nor thrives best at one extreme or the other. It’s difficult to have much of a life or quality of life at those extremes. 

I have got to be on guard against slipping into that type of thinking as a regular way of functioning, coping (read NOT COPING) or facing the real issue. I can say that operating in the and also is a much healthier, fruitful, wise and hopeful way to live and think. God carefully reminds me, from time to time, that I have slipped or that even in the smallest ways I can and do respond in a black and white way instead of an and also way. How about you? 

There’s the big-time, big deal examples of seeing a hard circumstance as just bad, just hard and just impossible. The flip side? There’s the opportunity to see it as an and also scenario. It is bad, and I am also learning new things about myself. It is hard, and also easier with great people around me to love and support me. It is impossible for me to see the way through this and also it is not impossible for Him. 

In my own life, there’s a silly example of me not listening to any music other than Christian music that was created from the year 2012 forward. No, I am not kidding. I stopped listening because I was so offended that George Strait and Eric Church performed on an awards show together one year and I was mortified. So, I stopped listening. I also probably had it in my head, more honestly, that because I had turned my life over to Jesus that I could not listen to that kind of music. Seriously. I know, ridiculous. As it turns out, I have discovered that all new country music is not bad and also I might actually enjoy some of it. I have not thrown my faith out the window by listening to it and nobody got hurt in the process. 

My point is, friends, that I think that whether you believe in God or not; no matter who you choose to worship, there is always an opportunity to take a quick check and see what kind of thinking we have going on inside our heads. If we are moving away from the life-sapping defense mechanism of black and white and towards more of the and also thinking while learning to operate more in that space, then we are better for it. 

Learning to operate in the and also, thinking in the and also, and speaking that into my own heart and mind has gained me a much more colorful, happy, joyful, authentic life. How about you? 

Hope

Be Careful That You Don’t Fall

It blows my mind how God sends the exact things at the exact moment that we need to hear them, or at least He does that for me.

I was in the shower this morning having a conversation with Him about the status of things and passionately telling Him I just did not understand all of this and what the point is/was in drawing the recent months into what feels like forever. 

As I am having this conversation I heard Him speak to me inside my very soul asking me, “Dig deeper. What’s really underneath all of this?” I both love and hate it when you hear Him tell you something that you literally have uttered out loud to someone else a time or two. You know those times when a friend is feeling all sorts of out of shape and not quite sure what the actual problem is and you put on your best friend/sponsor/counselor/sister voice and make them really get honest with themselves? 

Seriously God? Well, okay then. I thought about that prompting and asked myself that very same question. What is underneath all of this? As it turns out, there’s a wee bit of fear of change, rejection and abandonment wrapped up into a nice little package of not wanting to have to adjust because adjusting is not what I really feel like doing right now. Do you know what I mean? Please tell me I am not alone in this. 

There is a scripture in the Bible that says, “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” (1 Corinthians 10:12) and you will never guess what came to mind today. 

The truth is that pretty much nobody is all excited about having to adjust when it isn’t in their game plan. I knew months ago that there was so much good that was going to come out of this reset, slowdown, crisis, or whatever you want to call it. There HAS BEEN GOOD. Truly, there has. 

The problem is, the longer it goes on the more difficult it is to see, and that brings me back to my point about not slipping and falling. Perhaps, that sneaky little bugger that wants to steal, kill and destroy has gotten a bit of a foothold inside your head or heart, too. He is not firmly planted, but when we start looking under what is underneath and recognize the traps he so craftily sets for each of us I see that the gray is getting gray and things are getting pretty slippery. 

When the underlying fears surface and the real truth is told or admitted then the gray cannot get any grayer and the slowdown can still be a good, good God thing that He will turn into so many things for His glory and our good. Let’s face it, none of us really like to admit what we really feel or think from time to time. It’s just not our human nature. We want to hide and that leads to the slippery slope we should go to any lengths to avoid. 

Your turn. Have you found yourself on the slippery slope? What have you not admitted to yourself, to God or someone you trust lately? I challenge you, as I challenge myself today, to not become complacent or afraid to passionately share with Him what you really think or feel. He is a big God and He can handle it. Be careful that you don’t fall.

Hope, Keeping it Real

Traditionally Non-Traditional

Someone once said to me that I didn’t have any specific traditions for holidays.  At first, I was hurt by that statement and I really wanted to strike back with, “I DO have traditions, I just don’t have YOUR traditions.” But, I held my tongue captive, and after a while started to think about what she said.

 It still hurt a little, but I have been working hard at not allowing other people’s opinions and behavior to control my own for some time now. I have also learned how to see every bummer first as a blessing…giving power to negative self-talk gives your power to the enemy and frankly, he just doesn’t have the final say in my life.  

See, I enjoy being non-traditional with my traditions especially when I plan it that way. Once it was a coping mechanism, and now it is a normal way of life for me and I give myself permission and space to be okay with that choice. Before a lot of healing and recovery, traditions were attached to dysfunction and wounds of the past. In the middle of that healing process my damaged beliefs said being non-traditional meant not pleasing other people and not pleasing other people equaled failure.  Today, being non-traditional is my choice to celebrate growth and is a healthy decision for me. 

I believe that the unhealthy traditions I had before meeting Jesus have been made into new and beautiful creations. Maybe you can relate. I once held to the tradition of comparing my life and reality to the highlight reel of someone else’s life. I had the tradition of feeling anxious that my holidays would not look like I expected them to, and I had the tradition of making myself believe that that was a bad thing. There was the stronghold tradition of believing that if it was true that it was bad, then that meant I was a bad person. That’s a lot of false belief grounded in trauma.

 One thing I have come to understand in growing up in grace with Jesus is that he was non-traditional before non-traditional was cool. 

As I grew up in His grace, I began to enjoy being against the grain and so much more grateful for choosing to create memories and traditions that were my own and found so much more freedom and life in these moments than I did early on.

I am not against traditional things. I am not against joining you in celebrating your traditions. I celebrate others and their normal whether it is my preference or not within reason. The beauty of freedom in Jesus is that I am no longer a slave to people-pleasing, lack of healthy boundaries or fear of rejection. I struggle, but I am not chained to any of it. 

I have learned from Him who I am in Him and I have discovered the real me along the way. To love and honor myself, choosing to be far more relaxed, calm and loving towards myself and others. I have learned to do what’s right and healthiest for me.

We can choose to incorporate traditions or start new ones. We can choose a place of serenity in that compromise, but not break a promise to ourselves by not honoring our own preferences in the middle of that. We can choose to experience relationships and keep low expectations in the process. 

I do have traditions, they just aren’t yours. I am grateful that my being non-traditional resembles Jesus who teaches relationships over rules. I am grateful that He cares more about my desire to create room at the table more than what is served at the table. 

Let’s talk about it: Have you chosen to bend to the words and thoughts of someone other than God? What’s the first step in changing that today? Comment below. Let’s chat!