Entries in circumstances (6)
I admit it. I love celebrating my birthday. In fact, I love it so much I am guilty of celebrating it months after it has passed. Something about birthdays makes me happy. First of all, I am glad I was born. Secondly, I believe the world is a better place because I am in it.
One of my favorite movies is “It’s a Wonderful Life” with Jimmy Stewart. The main character, George, is given an amazing gift. He is able to see what his corner of the world would have been like if he had never graced this earth. And he was surprised to see that he had made a difference. He never traveled from his home town; he was not the President of his country or even the mayor of his city. However, the influence he had because he cared for others was monumental.
How about you? What do you do when your birthday rolls around? This year, I encourage you to take a moment and reflect on all the positive ways you have touched the lives of others. Think back on what people have said to you concerning your influence on them. Also, make this a year where you intentionally give back to your family, your community, your world.
It feels good to be celebrated! The key is to let the celebration of self-begin with you!
In and out of history and cultures, we human beings have acknowledged that our mental and emotional state is somehow related to our physical state. But for some reason, it is easier to say “I have a headache” than “I am overwhelmed with my job and my head is letting me know that.” As human beings have industrialized, increased the rate of speed, number of relationships, and daily mental output, we have grown less aware of what is happening inside.
Many times clients will sit on the couch across from my chair, and I will see where they are keeping their pain, sadness, anger, or anxiety. Some carry stress in their shoulders (a personal go-to place for me). Some have a constant stomachache with no explanation. Others feel restless in their hands or legs. The list goes on.
Our bodies are amazing in so many ways, but perhaps you have never thought that your body could actually be speaking to you! Ruth Haley Barton writes that our bodies serve as a prophet. Your body is speaking to you now!
Let me take you through a quick exercise.
- Sit comfortably upright.
- Close your eyes and breathe slowly.
- Place all of the distractions that come up for you and mentally place them on the table.
- Become aware of your body. Go from the top of your head to the tips of your toes.
- Where do you feel off balance? Where are you storing those unwanted emotions? Do they feel like a ball, or pin pricks in your fingers, or a nagging ache, or tightness and restriction?
- Talk it through with a counselor or good friend.
I have heard it said that our heart and our mind may betray us, but our bodies speak the truth!
My youngest daughter is notorious for having a difficult time following instructions. As a younger child, she had a difficult time remembering and staying focused on the instructions given. Now it is more that she is overwhelmed with the mess around her. Perhaps sometimes I expected more from her than was possible. However, I would find myself frustrated that she could not carry out one simple task, such as “Please take your shoes to your room” without repeated reminders. As she has gotten older, the problem remains. Cleaning her room is an exercise in torture for everyone involved! I would prefer to say, “Go clean your room, please,” and have it done in 30 minutes without one more word or whine.
She is a precious, loving, and sensitive soul and loves to please us, but carrying out instructions is a challenge…with one exception. She wants us to be with her! If we go with her to her room, she is a happy little worker. She smiles, puts away her toys, hangs up her clothes, and all is well in the Demetrician household. She simply needs our presence. Hmmm.
I for one am glad that I have a God who both SENDS ME OUT and GOES WITH ME. Left to my own devices, I can’t “clean the room of my soul” very well without the great Helper’s Presence. I simply can’t carry out the Father’s desires without His sustaining joy, hope, strength, and insight. I would be like my sweet daughter, hopelessly defeated and overwhelmed by an extremely messy room. I am sure I would sit on the floor and cry surrounded by sin, pain, shame, and bitterness knowing I had to do it all on my own. Our loving Father knows our limited capacity, and HE ACTUALLY WANTS TO HELP US. He enjoys being with us. It isn’t annoying to Him, and He doesn’t get tired. He is not like me, mostly helping my daughter just so it will get done.
There are messes that need to be cleaned up and places He is sending you, but rest assured, you are not alone.
I have been coughing for a month and it is probably been the most frustrating illness I have had in quite some time. I have a cold. Or, probably more accurately, I suffer from “the common cold”. I wish it were more dramatic, that descriptor. Something like “The Phlegmatic Flare-up” or “The Pulmonary Piranha”, because at times it feels as if evil little fish are swimming around in my lungs causing all kinds of pain and mischief. But, alas, I am left with no other categorization than “I have a cold.” It’s not a very impressive illness and everyone seems to respond by saying “Oh, me too.”
Sometimes, the most emotionally difficult hurdles to jump are seemingly the smaller ones. The co-worker that talks behind your back, the friend who stands you up, the spouse that just doesn’t seem to care about what you’re going through to the extent that you want him or her to. I find that it’s not the dramatic challenges and difficulties that are the most dangerous; it’s the little ones that don’t seem to be or shouldn’t be so hard. No one can fully understand or comprehend that the small and seemingly insignificant difficulties that we encounter every day are the ones that sap our energies the most. And it’s during those times that we need to be most on our guard. You see, the common cold can become pneumonia if it is not dealt with appropriately. And the small stressors can become roots of bitterness and anger that can lead to bad decisions and chronically bad attitudes.
Solomon stated in his “Song of Songs” that it’s the little foxes that spoil the vine and the Apostle Paul writes in I Corinthians 10:13 that: “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man [there’s that word ‘common’ again!]. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” So my encouragement to you is not to let those “little” frustrations fester and begin to fetter you. Instead, give them the appropriate attention they need, and then, before God and in the presence of a trusted friend or counselor, allow these wounds to be appropriately dressed and healed and may your physical and emotional “colds” soon be healed!
Hospitals, emergencies, and unknowns…our health can be a great interruption in our lives and can take us away from the things that we desire to accomplish. There is a reality that our lives are finite and the time that we have needs to be stewarded well. Last week was a hospital week for me. I have a history of gastric bleeds and this one required hospitalization and a blood transfusion. To say I was sobered was an understatement. But these are the best teachable moments we have and here are some of the things I learned or was once again reminded of:
- Relationships are most important. Right before I went to the hospital, my wife asked me if I was afraid. I told her no I wasn’t, but I was sad in thinking that I might not see my grandchildren grow up and I would miss her and my kids.
- God speaks loudly through our pain. If ever there were a time to realize that I am not in control it’s when I’m ill. God is in control and I am better for acknowledging it and accommodating myself to where He is taking me.
- I need to take care of my body. I am an American (with German heritage!) and I push myself too hard and don’t care for my physical body as I should. Nothing like an IV in your arm to remind me that I need to pay more attention to my physical needs.
- I need to use my time well. Our lives here on earth are finite and I need to avail myself of the time allotted to me in such a way as to wring every drop of life out of every minute I live.
I could go on, but you get the gist of where I’m going. If you read this, it’s just a friendly reminder to stay focused on the things that matter: your relationship with God, your loved ones, and the tasks that God has privileged you to perform on earth. Everything else is fluff.