Archive for November, 2013

What Makes You Come “Unglued”?

Have you ever come unglued?  Have your emotions ever welled up to the point where  you have temporarily lost control of your words or you actions?  I know that I certainly have.

What does coming unglued look like for you?  Are you a screamer?  A throwing-things type of person?  Do you cry?  Or say hurtful things?  Do you bottle everything up inside and let your emotions seep out other ways?

When I come unglued, I tend to cry and be emotional.  Or I get super-cranky and snappy.  It’s not pleasant to be around me when I come unglued, and it certainly doesn’t honor God.

resources-bookIn our Wednesday night women’s class at church, we are starting a lesson series on the idea of coming “unglued.”  It is based, aptly enough, on Lysa TerKeurst’s book, Unglued:  Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Raw Emotions.  It’s funny–before I read the book, I never considered myself the “emotional” type.  I have always felt that I’m a pretty rational person, and since my husband has expressed appreciation for that very quality in me, I feel somewhat validated in that belief.  At the same time, a lot of what TerKeurst said in her book really resonated with me.  And, as fate would have it, I read her book during a time when I was under a lot of emotional stress, and the temptation to come “unglued” was very strong.  In that situation, I found her words and strategies to be very helpful, and I hope that you do, as well!

Tonight in class, we talked about what coming “unglued” looked like for us, and we discussed the first step toward what TerKeurst calls, “Imperfect Progress” in this area:  Changing our Thought Patterns.  She explains that the more we think a particular thought, the more engraved it becomes on our mind, and the easier it is to think that thought in the future.  Thus, we need to do what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 10:5 and “take every thought captive.”  Specifically, we need to engrave on our mind positive thoughts, such as,

“I can face things that are out of my control and not act out of control.”

This mantra has helped me so much since I’ve read it.  I have always known that I am the type of person who likes to feel in control of my life.  Which is kind of hilarious when you think about it, because really, there is so little that we can control about our existence.  And yet, I really love having the illusion of control.  However, that means that when I feel out of control, I also feel LOADS of stress.  

This week in class, we made our “Out of My Control” lists, where we wrote down all the things that are out of our control AND that have the potential to make us come unglued.  On my list, I wrote, “other people’s behavior,” and “financial issues (like selling our house).”  Some other lists had “other people’s perception of me,” “my children’s behavior,” and–one that I thought was especially poignant, “Tomorrow.”  What’s on YOUR “Out of My Control” list?

Our challenge for this week is that when circumstances feel out of our control, and we find ourselves being pushed to the point of coming unglued, to step back and remind ourselves that “I can face things that are out of my control and not act out of control.”  After all, as Christians, we serve the One who is IN control of all things, and we are told in His Word to us that He works all things to the good of those who love Him (Rom. 8:28).  Sometimes we can see that good, and sometimes we have to simply “walk by faith and not by sight,” but either way, in times of stress and strong emotions, it helps to remind ourselves Whose side we are on.

If you could not attend our class this week, I’d love to hear your answers to the questions we asked in class (What does coming unglued look like for you?  And what’s on your “out-of-my-control” list?)  I’d also love to know what purposeful thoughts or verses you turn to when you are tempted to come unglued.  I think we could all use help in changing our thought patterns, so if you have any helpful suggestions, please share in the comments!

Advertisements

Dear Kids: Please Never Be Normal

Dear Luke and Anna,

Let me start off this letter with an admission:  when you were first born, I was very concerned that you were “normal.”  From counting your fingers and toes at birth to comparing your weight gain and sleeping habits with other babies your age, the question I kept coming back to was, “Is this normal?”  Because I wanted you to be okay, you know?  I wasn’t looking for hints of a baby Einstein; I just wanted kids who were normal.

Maybe it’s because I’ve never felt quite normal myself.  I’ve always felt a little “too much”:  too sensitive, too intense, too quiet, too weird.  And as an introvert, I didn’t want to feel that way–I would have rather died than stick out in any way.  So those moments where I felt like I really fit in–where I dressed like everyone else and acted like everyone else–well, I cherished those times.  It was nice to feel normal.

And even as I’ve raised you past infancy into full-blown kid-dom, I’ve always kept a close eye on “normal.”  When we decided to homeschool almost two years ago, one of my biggest hesitations was that we were setting sail from “Normal.”  I was scared, frankly, that, quarantined with myself–whom I know to be weird–you would turn out to be most decidedly “not normal.”  And you know what?  I was right.

You aren’t normal.  You love books, and you love to learn.  Luke, you obsess over stories that age-wise, you should have no interest in.  Anna, you pore over chapter books that you shouldn’t be giving a second look.  You guys like to play chess–chess–in your spare time.  You know who Genghis Khan is, but not Taylor Swift.  You make allusions to “crossing the Rubicon.”  And, God help us all, you enter Target in the middle of a school day looking like this:

Holding hands...cloak and all.  Bless it.

Holding hands…cloak and all. Bless it.

And you know, just to keep it extra real, there are some areas in which it would behoove you to conform just a little more to the patterns set forth by society.  For instance, if you could stop eating like baboons and perhaps start making consistent eye contact with people who are talking to you, that would be fantastic and helpful for your life.  No worries, though.  It will come with time.

And when it does, it might also come with a dawning awareness of larger society and how it functions.  Table manners and people skills will perhaps correspond with a growing self-consciousness, and suddenly, there will be pressure:  the pressure to be normal.  To like the things that other people like.  To pursue the things that other people pursue.  To talk and think and act like everyone else.

I get it, I do.  I’ve already told you that I have felt it myself.  It’s funny, though–the more I’ve grown, the more I’ve decided that normal is not all it’s cracked up to be.  In fact, I’ve decided that God does not make “normal” people; “normal” is what we slide into to protect ourselves, or to let ourselves off the hook from truly living.

See, the “normal” life is largely unexamined (and you know what Socrates says about that).  “Normal” doesn’t question its purpose, doesn’t ponder why it’s here.  It just is.

The “normal” life is unoriginal.  It follows well-trodden paths and always looks to others for its cues.  It’s faintly institutional.  It conforms to the template of existence set out by its place and station in life.

Normal lacks vision.  It’s more concerned with whatever is in front of its face at the moment.  In that sense, normal is largely materialistic.

Normal is comfortable, but it’s usually a comfort that comes from settling for less than God created you to be.  I see normal people every day, and sometimes I just want to shake them and say, “Wake up!!!  You have no idea what you are missing right now!”

I pray everyday that you become the people that God designed you to be, and more and more, I see Normal as an obstacle to that prayer:  both a distraction and a temptation.  And that’s why I’ve decided that you guys can be the weirdest kids in the world, and I wouldn’t care a bit.  I wouldn’t want you to lose your ability to relate to others, of course, because relationships are a big part of a full, rich life…but may God spare you from the curse of “cool.”  Obviously, it’s not about being weird for weird’s sake; rather, my hope is that you don’t ignore the God-given possibilities for your life in order to fit in to society’s mold.  God did not create you “normal.”  He created you beautifully unique, with unique gifts.  And the sky is the limit for how you use them.

Be passionate–explore your interests, and pursue your curiosities.  Do you want to learn to cook?  To quilt?  To orate?  Do you want to write computer code?  To learn French or how to fish?  Do you want to make beautiful music or express yourselves through the written word?  To learn about what makes people think and how to truly listen to them?  To be a missionary?  To travel the world?  Then, let’s chase after those things–I’ll do everything I can to help you learn and to be whatever it is that God has put in your heart.  And then my prayer is that you do it with gusto!  (Also, we may have to win the lottery for that world-traveling thing.  But we’ll do what we can.)  But even more than pursuing those things that set your heart on fire, I hope that you will do them in a way that helps others–that blesses this world.  See, Normal tends to think of inner passion in terms of personal fulfillment, a mindset that overlooks the fact that you truly are God’s gifts to the world.  He gave you your passions and talents so that you can use them to show His love to others.  That’s why I pray that you look to Him–and not all around you to what other people are doing–when you decide how to bestow those gifts.

Because society will probably tell you to be Normal.

When you, dear children, are anything but.

I love you higher than the moon and the sun and “all the skyscrapers in Atlanta,”

Mom

Two Years Ago Today

Two years ago today, I loaded up my kids in our minivan and made the drive from South Carolina to Nashville, just like I did today.  Two years ago today, we hugged our neighbors goodbye and thanked them for everything, just like we did today.  Two years ago today, I wound my way through the beautiful mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee, and I pointed out all the colorful trees and vistas to my kids, just like I did today.  Two years ago today, my heart was full of hope, just like it is today.

But two years ago, my head was full of questions.  The date was 11-1-11, which was fitting, because it was Day 1 of our new lives in Nashville, TN.  I wondered what my house would look like, even as it was being unpacked and painted for me while I drove.  I wondered how the kids would like Tennessee.  I wondered what we were going to do about Luke’s school situation.  I wondered how life in our new church would be.  I wondered how I would do teaching classes at Lipscomb.  And I wondered what was going to happen with our house in Summerville.

Today, I don’t have any of those questions.  I know that I love my house, and that it’s perfect for us.  I know that the kids love Tennessee and that, in fact, some of their best buddies have also moved up from Summerville.  I know that we now homeschool, and that it’s one of the best decisions we’ve ever made.  I know that we love our church and cannot imagine life without that community.  I know that teaching at Lipscomb is fun, but not for me this year–because my husband is now a grad student there!

And I know that we just closed on our house in Summerville yesterday.

——————————

The story of our house in Summerville is long and uninteresting to hear about, but frustrating and worrisome to experience.  And I must say that from the beginning to the end of the saga, there was no evidence whatsoever that the process was being guided by an Omnipotent Being Who Values Efficiency, Tidiness, and the Shortest Distance Between Two Points.  However, there was evidence that it was being guided by an Omnipotent Being Who Loves Me, if I had the eyes to see.  And sometimes I did.

I saw it on my birthday in 2011, the day our first renters signed the lease.  It was a huge relief, and I took it as a birthday gift from God.  As my birthday neared again in 2012, Greg and I were just realizing the difference in paying 6% in property taxes versus 4% (hint:  it’s substantial).  It was dawning on us that we would need a little more income in 2012, and then again on my birthday, out of the blue, the head of the English department at Lipscomb called and offered me some courses to teach.  This was after I had turned him down already and assured him that with homeschooling, I wouldn’t have time.  But wouldn’t you know it, one of the courses he offered me was the only one that would have worked with our schedule.  And I took it as another birthday gift from God.

I saw God’s love on Sept. 28 this year, which was our Ladies’ Day at my mom’s church.  By that point, our renters had moved out, and our house had been placed on the market, where it was currently sitting, having had no viewings for weeks.  I was living with a thinly veiled sense of panic: my days wavered between faithfully recounting all the ways that God had guided us up to this point in our lives, and fearfully contemplating the exact nature of our impending financial ruin.  That Saturday at my mom’s church, we got into prayer groups and prayed together about the concerns of our heart.  I put in a request that my house would sell, and my mom prayed for it.

We got a phone call that very afternoon:  there was a contract on the house.

I saw it in the week leading up to closing, when I was assured that, actually, we wouldn’t be able to close on Oct. 31, and yes, you just drove your children nine hours for nothing (well, nothing besides an incredible visit with our good friends).  I saw God’s love when I got into the car to drive to my not-closing-but-maybe-you-can-turn-in-some-necessary-papers, and the first words that came out of the radio were, “Don’t you worry, don’t you worry child–Heaven’s got a plan for you.”  And then I got to closing, and turns out, we were closing, and I got to meet the family moving in, and they told about their six kids, including the two they had adopted as teenagers after hearing their story at church.  They were so excited to be moving down to the warm south, along with the woman’s parents, and their adopted-son’s-former-caseworker-turned-best-friend.  And one of their comments really stuck with me:  “You know, we’ve been wanting to move down here for two years now–we were just waiting for our house to sell.”

———————————————–

I know that God is not my co-pilot–He’s the pilot.  But I confess that sometimes I make a pretty annoying passenger, with my steady stream of suggestions:  “Do you really think this is the best way…?  Surely it would be better for all involved…?  Have You ever stopped to consider…”?  And sometimes my suggestions veer into panic:  “Are you trying to kill us all??  Are you even in control of this aircraft??”  But then God brings my life together with absolutely beautiful timing–like the exact, two year anniversary of our move–and it is like He is winking at me.  Like He is saying, “See?  I got this.”  And it reminds me of a line from the first Lord of the Rings movie, which I watched last week.  Frodo sternly tells Gandalf, “You’re late.”  And Gandalf replies soberly, with a twinkle in his eye:

“A wizard is never late, Frodo Baggins.  Nor is he early.  He always arrives precisely when he means to.”

I’m so thankful for a God who arranges my life precisely as He means to–and who mercifully lets me see His love throughout the process.

%d bloggers like this: