Saturday, October 12, 2019

first


31 days of five minute free writes, 31 days of October, emotional health


When I started digging deeper into my emotional health, I realized that the best way to have time to sort through my emotions and seek God's wisdom on the next step was to take a step back. This summer I wrote precious little for my blog, and limited my other writing avenues to my newspaper column and state fair features.

I imagine some of my readers were surprised, but I knew I wanted to focus on what was going on in this area of personal growth. What would I have left worth talking/ writing about if I did not deal honestly with myself and with God? Not much.

I had priorities that had to do with my own health and my family relationships. It was freeing to spend extra time with our girls this summer. We made great memories, and shared a lot of time just being together. In a world where everything is go-go-go, it was refreshing to just be still.

If you're wondering if you need to step away from the busy-ness of everyday life to sort through your emotions, the answer is probably yes. Finding even small chunks of time alone to process, evaluate, and think through your emotional responses can help you see the areas where you need to let go, and the areas where you need to learn something new. 

I encourage you to take the first step: pray. Ask God to show you where to carve out time alone. Ask God to show you where you have hidden your feelings and to teach you how to make better, honest responses in the future.

Life is a journey, not an event. Take the first step, and then the next, and soon, you'll be able to see how far you have traveled.




Friday, October 11, 2019

deep


emotional health, 31 days of October, boundaries, emotions


Emotions run deep. Hurts last until we can find a way to overcome them. Joys take us to the mountaintop, but we cannot stay there forever because we live in a fallen world where another event or emotion will come along soon.

How do we deal with the emotional roller coaster of everyday life when we haven't yet processed yesterday's emotions? It isn't easy. 

The way I have found is to start by having an honest conversation with God every evening before I fall asleep. I read from the Bible app on my phone. I have it set with low light on, so it has a black background and the words are white, but not glaringly so. Often I only read a paragraph or two, to understand the next part of what is being told, and then I click my phone off and lay back to think about what I have read.

I think about the story the verses have told, and imagine myself in the situation. What would my emotions be if I were there when Saul was confronted on the road to Damascus? Am I like Peter, who needed God to tell him three times that no person is common or unclean and that they all need to hear about Jesus?

Then I think about my day. What happened that drew my closer to God, and what got in the way? I ask God to show me how to let go of the hurts, and to hold on to the good. I ask for peace as I sleep, and strength for tomorrow. It has been a challenge to have these nightly conversations with God - it makes me look honestly at my own heart and actions from each day. Some people journal their day, I have learned freedom in praying through it and asking God to make me more like Jesus. I have a long way to go - but the road is being paved with peace, trust and joy as He removes the fear, anger, and insecurities of the past one conversation at a time.

A reminder that I often need on this road to emotional health:

Oh the deep, deep love of Jesus
Vast, unmeasured, boundless, free
Rolling as a mighty ocean
In its fullness over me
Underneath me, all around me
Is the current of your love
Leading onward, leading homeward
To your glorious rest above
Oh, the deep, deep love of Jesus 
'Tis heaven of heavens to me
And it lifts me up to glory
For it lifts me up to thee
Oh, the deep, deep love of jesus 
Spread his praise from shore to shore
How he loves us, ever loves us,
Changes never, nevermore

Songwriters: Mark Ladd / Samuel T. Francis
Oh, the Deep Deep Love of Jesus lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc

Thursday, October 10, 2019

scared



emotional health, 31 days of October, facing our fears


I think we don't talk about our emotional health, and how it relates to being Spiritually mature, because we are scared that if we open the Pandora's box of our emotions there will be no end to them.

While there are often a lot of emotions to deal with, because we've been ignoring them and stuffing them inside for so long, there is an eventual end. Getting there is not an easy road, but keeping our emotions bottled up inside of us is even more difficult.

I knew I had a problem when I stopped being a compassionate person. I was curt and unsympathetic, I would often think to myself "so what, I have my own issues to deal with, let someone else listen to them." Ouch! That is not the person I wanted to be, or the person I knew God wanted me to be.

How do we go from scared to trusting?


One small step at a time. Often, it is three steps forward and two and a half steps back, but at least we have started moving in the right direction. While you can get your emotional health back in control with just God and yourself, it is easier if you have friends. Of course, that takes work, because to have a friend you have to be a friend. For me, a big part was joining a small group from our church. Our group is a family, and we share not only discussions about God and Jesus, but real life as well. It was important to me to find a group that did both. I've been studying my Bible for decades, I needed a group that would challenge me to live out what I had learned!

When I finally stopped trying to hold all my emotions inside and started sharing them a little at a time in safe spaces like our small group, I re-learned that there is a lot of freedom in speaking the truth. Jesus told us that the truth would set us free and He was right!

Don't stay scared. Start the journey from fear to faith today. God is waiting with open arms to help you.





Wednesday, October 9, 2019

join



emotional health, 31 days of October, boundaries


On my way to understanding what needed to stay and what needed to go in my everyday life in order for me to find a better emotional health I had to think about the outside activities I choose to be involved with. It was a little bit easier than in the past since our daughters have both already graduated high school and I don't need to base my decisions on their schedules as well as mine.

Here is what I discovered: too often we join groups because we have a fear of missing out, not because the group will actually be beneficial to us, or we will be beneficial to the group. So I started taking a hard look at what I do besides work. The activities I now join in with are limited, not because I stay at home all the time, but because I actually need some time to stay home and relax. I somehow had the thought that I should be doing it all - but it is not my job to keep the world running - that is God's job.

So now, when someone asks if I want to join a group, or go on an adventure, I stop and think more deeply than in the past. Will this be a good experience? Will I learn, grow, be challenged mentally or physically? Or will saying yes to this activity simply take away my margin time to decompress from work and other responsibilities? It's not always an easy answer.

Before you say yes to the next "thing" - stop and ask yourself, and ask God, is this the right activity for me? Learn to be okay with setting boundaries to protect your time and emotional health. You cannot draw water from a well that is dry.


Tuesday, October 8, 2019

gather


emotional health, 31 days of five minute free writes, letting go

Along this road toward better emotional health I have found that I need to do the opposite of gather, I need to let go. In life we tend to gather things that we think will be helpful, like when you gather up the towels, cleaning bucket and spray bottles before you clean the bathroom. With emotional health it is more about sorting and letting go.

I've gathered enough in my life - books, clothes, pens...what I needed to realize was that sometimes I gathered material things because I was avoiding dealing with my emotions and the processing that needed to happen to let go of them.

As I have been walking this path, I have found a lot of anger, and am letting go. I have found disappointment - in myself and in others, and I am letting go. Each time I process through another emotion and decide if it stays or can now be let go I find greater freedom. 

In having less emotional baggage I find that I also need less stuff in my material life. I am decluttering my heart and my home. There is more room for the things that matter.

If you are the type to gather emotions and hold them inside please realize this - you are building a shaky wall, and eventually it will crumble. It is so much better to take time to sort through those tough emotions and let go of the ones that lead you away from peace.

Jesus knew we would have trouble here on earth, He warned his disciples about it, but He also offered peace. If you want that peace that He offers, you have to stop holding on so tightly to your past hurts and open your hands to accept the gift.





Monday, October 7, 2019

same


emotional health, 31days of october, writing, journey


God knows that we are going to face troubles and trials in this life. We know that on some level ourselves, but then we struggle with being content in our circumstances. What if we finally decided that contentment does not equal sameness? What if we step out in faith and ask God to show us how to be content while also changing things around us?

What would you do if you had nothing to loose?


For most of us, we struggle to even think about that question. We have had the same-ness of jobs, family responsibilities, and financial struggles for so long that we have a hard time imagining our lives being any different. I believe God wants something more for us and our lives. 

I can be content with where God has placed me, and still be looking forward to where He is going to lead me next. My life was not designed to be ordinary - to have every day be more of the same. My life was designed for me to delight in God, in the wonder of His creation, and in seeing Him work His power to His glory all around us. 

I was designed to live an extraordinary life.


It is okay to have a routine. It helps me get out the door to work on time, or to do the most grocery shopping and errands in a limited amount of time. But life is more than routines. Life is about change and growth, and about what God is doing.

God is the only thing that stays the same - He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. 

Me? I'm a work in progress. Each time I learn something new, I ask God to show me how that is supposed to play out in my daily life. I have a long way to go. Some days my heart is still very hard. I don't want to stay that way - I want to be loving and kind. Those can be hard emotions to live out. I have to look to Jesus for my example, and His love was hard work, truth, and compassion.

Trust the One who never changes, and then get ready to see Him change your life into something different!


Sunday, October 6, 2019

notice



emotional health, 31days of october, writing, journey

What do you notice when a group of people gathers? Are you a people watcher, a clothes evaluator, or an emotional thermometer? Sometime you might be all three. 

If you look around a room and tune into the emotional undercurrents, you can learn a lot about others and yourself. Unfortunately, too often we are distracted by our phones, our schedules, and deadlines at work to notice the people who are around us.

Have you heard this before?
Be kind to everyone, you never know what struggle someone is going through.

Why do we not know about the struggles of others? Maybe because we have a hard time being honest with ourselves about our own struggles. If we admit that our friend or co-worker is struggling, then they might find out that we are struggling too.

If we stop and admit to ourselves how gratifying it is to have someone simply sit and listen to us as we talk about what is on our mind, then hopefully that can spur us on to notice the other people around us who need a listening ear. We can give that same help to others, we can be the one who notices them. We can be the one who offers to listen, to pray, and to hold a confidence.

It takes courage to step outside of our own little bubble and notice what others are going through - but oh, the benefits are worth it - for both of us!



Saturday, October 5, 2019

other


emotional health, 31days of october, writing, journey


Learning more about being emotionally healthy has led me to several life-altering conclusions. One of the first ones was about the other part of my life. What part? This part? No, the other part - the part that nobody really saw, where I was confused, confounded, and often lonely.

We cannot decide to split our lives into sacred and secular, and we cannot split ourselves into public and private. We need to learn how to deal with our emotions so that we can be the same person all day long. When we don't deal with our emotions, we push them away and think they leave, but they don't. They stay with us until we deal with them.

I had a lot of emotions to process through, and truthfully, I'm still working may way through them. But while doing this hard work of addressing my emotions, I have found freedom. Life is easier when you are the same person all day long, all week long, all month long. For me to be able to let go of the anger and confusion, the fear and the sadness I had been pushing around in the other part of my life, I first had to admit that those feelings were there. 

Sometimes you admit you have these emotions and that is enough. At other times, you have to decide what to do with these emotions. Do you walk away from a difficult situation, or do you face it and speak clearly and truthfully to the other people involved? Is there still more you need to do?

I've been doing a lot more praying recently. And I've been reading the Scriptures much more slowly than before. I look for the emotions that are being shown, I examine my own thoughts from the day, and I give it all over to God - the One who can help me sort it all out!

If you feel like you've got this life, and that other life going on at the same time, let me encourage you to figure out who you really are and just be that one person. To get to know yourself better, and figure out if the real you is shining through, you probably need to sort through your emotions. You might not like what you find - but in finding it - you can make an honest change if needed.

It's a long month - more thoughts on emotional health tomorrow!




Friday, October 4, 2019

listen


31 days of October, five minute free writes

Hear, O Isreal: the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Deuteronomy 6:4

Just as the nation of Israel needed reminders of whose they were, I needed reminders of who I belong to. I am a child of God. He cares for me. Surely the God who led the nation of Israel out of Egypt and through the desert to the promised land could lead me out of my emotional wasteland.

But first, I had to listen. I had to truly hear what God was speaking to me about and acknowledge where things had gone wrong. I needed to admit the reason my emotional health was so screwed up was because of choices I had made. Then I had to ask God for help, and the wisdom to make better choices going forward.

I had to learn once again how to listen to my family. I also had to learn how to respectfully set boundaries and make my own wishes and feelings known. It was a struggle for all of us at first, and some days still is. But, because I decided to take a step towards better emotional health, we are all doing better at truly communicating with each other. It begins when we decide to listen.


Thursday, October 3, 2019

problem


31 days of October, five minute free writes


I realized that I truly had a problem when I read this line "A person with nothing left to lose has just become the most powerful person in the world." I had been feeling like there was not much left to lose, and I wasn't sure what to do about it. But realizing if I let go of what I thought I had, I could maybe change something, or allow God to change something, so that my life would be more bearable.

I had felt like life was lipping away from me, and the plans I had were not moving as I had envisioned them. There had been two hard years filled with pain and death - both friends and family.  Add in the changes that came with graduating our youngest daughter from high school and my emotional state had become overwhelming. I needed a change! I was no longer content to drift around in an emotional fog and let the feelings of others dictate what I would or would not do.

I needed to admit that I had a problem and do something about it. When our pastor said we were going to be spending time reading Peter Scazzero's book Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, and studying what Scripture says about emotions, I felt not just a nudge, but a definite push from the Holy Spirit to get out of my seat and go get the book. This was what I needed: a way to identify where me emotional health was out of whack, and practical advise, based upon God's Word, for step to take to become healthy again.

As I read each chapter, and listened to our pastors preach weekly from what Scripture says about emotions, things began to change. I began to change. Like most decisions that lead to lasting change, things got more difficult on the way to getting better.


Wednesday, October 2, 2019

gift


31 days of October, five minute free writes


Life is a precious gift.

We are multi-faceted people and need care and nourishment.There are two ways that we undermine out own lives and emotional health. One way is when we purposefully sin and do something wrong - with our physical bodies this might be repeatedly eating something we know will make us ill - like too much dairy for a lactose intolerant person. The other way we damage ourselves is when we sin and don't do something positive that we know we should be doing - like eating fruits and vegetables every day.

Either of these scenarios can damage our physical health. We often do similar things that sabotage our emotional health. Have you ever chosen to go along with the crowd because you wanted to be the cool kid, or the cool mom, yet, inwardly you cringed at the poor choices being made around you? Or maybe you stayed at a job or volunteer position you disliked because you feared trying something new and possibly failing at it?

It's time to stop making choices based on fear! To treat life, and your emotional health, like the gifts they truly are, you will need to change both your thinking and your actions. The first step in this journey is admitting you need help and then asking God to send you that help!

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

why



31 days of October, five minute free writes


Why do we ignore what is essential to our well-being?

Sometimes we get so busy with the necessities of daily life that we forget to look at the long term effects of our actions or inaction.

That was a big part of my falling into a state of emotional un-wellness. I was working, being a wife and mother and homeschooling two high schoolers. I did not set out to destroy my emotional well-being, but by not cultivating this aspect of my life I ended up suffering.

The good news is that God knew what I needed. At the very point when I felt like I had no where to go for help, He sent me help and friends to join me for the journey.

I've learned a lot this year. I believe many others are wondering if there is a way for them to become emotionally healthy. I'm going to share parts of my journey. I hope these five minute views into my journey reach those who need encouragement to go get help with their own emotional health.

Thanks for reading along this month!