Fear … Is It Holding You Back?


Fight your fears and you’ll be in battle forever; face your fears and you’ll be free forever. — Lucas Jonkman

Everything you want is on the other side of fear. — Jack Canfield

We stopped checking for monsters under the bed when we realized they were inside of us. — Charles Darwin

Fear is only temporary. Regret lasts forever!

Fear is the brain’s way of saying that there is something important for you to overcome. — Rachel Huber

What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do. — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Fear is a powerful thing. Depending upon how we view it, it can paralyze us or spur us on to greater things.

I have a dear friend who is terrified of intimacy in relationships. He wasn’t always this way. He met a girl once whom he fell head-over-heels in love with, so much so that it scared him. He had been in love before but never to such a degree that he felt out of control, and it was that lack of emotional control he couldn’t handle. The relationship lasted for about four years, until the girl finally got tired of his shenanigans of pulling away and saying they needed to see other people. She decided that could go on forever and decided it was time to let go.

Now, 25 years later, the girl is back. She contacted my friend, whom she never stopped loving, in an attempt to restore the relationship they could have had if both of them hadn’t messed it up so badly. He wants nothing to do with her, not because he doesn’t still love her, but because he went through hell the first time he lost her and doesn’t want to experience that feeling again. He also doesn’t want to go back to having no control over his emotions.  The thought terrifies him.

I find their whole situation so sad. They both care deeply for each other, but he is so paralyzed by his fear that he won’t even communicate with the girl anymore. Think of what they are both missing out on … perhaps the greatest joy either one of them has ever known.

My problem is public speaking. The thought of getting up in front of people and speaking brings back fresh memories of 7th-grade speech class, when my voice shook so uncontrollably that everyone watching me was embarrassed for me. They were probably just as uncomfortable watching me as I was standing up there in front of them. My fear of public speaking is unfortunate, especially because I’m fairly certain my future dream job will require me to have this skill. I’ve spent my whole life avoiding it, but it’s time to stop running. It’s time to turn around and face this thing once and for all.

I’ve gone back to grad school after 30 years. I absolutely love it! The problem is, I have to do a YouTube interview with a classmate where we each take turns pretending to be a journalist and a PR professional discussing a crisis situation. Doesn’t sound too bad, unless you have an extreme aversion to being on camera. My first thought was, “I’ve got to drop this class.” I immediately rejected that idea because, as I said, I love the class.  My second thought was, “I’m going to contact the professor and tell her I’ll take an F on this assignment.” Unfortunately, that idea seems pretty stupid even to me. I finally came to the conclusion that as much as I hate the thought of actually doing this assignment, I want to get past the brick wall my fear has succeeded in putting in front of me for so many years.  It’s time to break through that wall. I may not like the process, and it may hurt; but I am doing this thing.  It’s time.

How about you? Is fear holding you back from something you want more than anything? What are you going to do about it? I would encourage you to not let it define you. Get help. Move past your fear. Your greatest accomplishment/love relationship/purpose may be on the other side. Don’t miss out! As Joyce Meyer says a friend of hers once said to her, “Why don’t you do it afraid?”

You’ve got this. Get going! 🙂
Lori Lynn

Dear LORD … when we are too afraid to follow through on your best for us, give us a nudge. Help us to visualize what is there on the other side of our fear and to want it so badly that we’re willing to do whatever it takes to make it a reality. Give us the courage to knock down our brick walls of fear knowing that You are there with us every step of the way. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

 

 

 

When God Doesn’t Make Sense


This post was originally published in 2012.  However, since our Lenten service last night focused on Abraham sacrificing his son and the corresponding sacrificial Lamb of God in the New Testament, I thought it was appropriate to post it again…

Blessings to you this Lenten season,
Lori Lynn

After all this, God tested Abraham.  God said, “Abraham!”

“Yes?” answered Abraham.  “I’m listening.”

He said, “Take your dear son Isaac whom you love and go to the land of Moriah.  Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains that I’ll point out to you.”  –Genesis 22:1-2 (The Message)

Don’t you wonder sometimes what went through Abraham’s mind from the moment he first heard God make this command until the time he followed through in obedience?  We read it and think, “Abraham knew God.  He was a giant of the faith.  He didn’t struggle.  He just did what God told him to do.”  But as I ponder this passage and think of the incredibly difficult decision I am faced with in my life right now, I can’t help but wonder, “What really happened in that white space between the end of verse 2 and the beginning of verse 3?”  It’s the instructions written in invisible ink in that white space I could use right about now.  The ones that tell me how to get from  point A (listening) to point B (obedience).

I have found over the past few years (more than a few actually), that I have become quite adept at second guessing what I think God may be telling me.  I can believe I hear very clearly God telling me one thing; but over the course of a few days, I have completely tied myself in knots wondering if I heard right.  And then begins the tug of war… “Did God really tell me that, or is that the devil trying to trip me up?  I am certain God told me that, but it just doesn’t make any sense.  I could see how God could use that (and work good from it), but it doesn’t seem like it goes according to what I know from His Word.  No, that CAN’T be God.”  Then I find myself right back at the starting point, continuing to stay stuck in a rut of indecision, paralyzed by insecurity and doubt.

Isn’t it interesting how God gave Abraham three days to think about things after he decided to obey God.  Three long days to travel to Moriah.  Three excruciating days to torment himself with thoughts of what God was telling him to do.  Unlike Peter, who took his eyes off Jesus and began to quickly sink amidst the crashing waves on the Sea of Galilee, Abraham continued steadfast on the path God was calling him to follow.  He did not waiver in his obedience.  He remained calm amidst the storm of his emotions.  He kept his [spiritual] eyes on God and kept his [spiritual] ears tuned to the radio frequency of God’s voice.  If we did the same, how much different would our lives be?

I often think of the analogy of the clenched fist.  If we are desperately holding onto something we can’t bear to part with, how can we expect God to bless us with anything?  Our hand will be too tightly clenched to receive the blessing.  In order to receive something, we have to let go… either by holding out our hands, open, with palms up, or by reaching out with an open hand to grasp onto the hand of God and go with Him to the place He can’t wait to show us.  Then, and only then, can God give us something that we may find is a much greater joy than we could ever have imagined.

I’m going to challenge you in something.  Over the next month, pay close attention to what God is telling you.  Listen to the message He puts deep within your heart.  Pray about it, asking God to reveal His truth regarding the particulars of whatever it is He is telling you.  Now here’s the kicker… FOLLOW THROUGH on what He is telling you.  I’d love to hear how He has blessed you through your obedience.

Walking in faith,

Lori Lynn

Dear LORD… just as You blessed Abraham through his acts of obedience, we pray that You would bless us.  May we be willing to unclench our fists and let go of those things that are hindering us from receiving the best that You want to give us.  Through this letting-go process, we pray that You would use our obedience to bless others as well; and through it all, may You be glorified.  In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.

 

Life Lesson #4: Go With the Pain


Suffering has been stronger than all other teaching, and has taught me to understand what your heart used to be. I have been bent and broken, but – I hope – into a better shape. –Charles Dickens

Pain is never permanent. –Teresa of Avila

When I was nervously anticipating the birth of my first child a little over 17 years ago, a wonderful woman (Karen) from my church gave me some advice that helped me through each of my deliveries with little to no pain medication.  By the time I gave birth to my third child, the delivery room nurse told my husband, “you would never know she is about to deliver a baby.  She doesn’t look like she’s in labor at all.”  What was the secret?  Go with the pain.

Karen told me when I was in labor to imagine how a turtleneck stretches when we put it on over our head.  She said to think about labor and delivery the same way.  She said, “The pain of childbirth has a purpose, so don’t fight it.  Go with the pain.  By going with the pain, your body is able to do what it needs to do through the birthing process.  Fighting the pain only serves to make us tense which, in turn, makes the pain worse.” So, I went into my first delivery room armed with relaxation music and a bunch of other things I had read about that could help assuage my apprehension, only to toss it all aside as I focused on breathing in on the count of four, breathing out on the count of four, and remembering what Karen said.  I was so focused on the numbers in my head and the visualization of the turtleneck stretching over my head (enabling me to go with the pain instead of fighting it), that labor and delivery was probably the easiest part of having children.  (I find raising them much more difficult!)

I recently mentioned this piece of advice… going with the pain… to a counselor friend of mine, as I was explaining some of the junk I’m working through.  She wisely advised me not to give up… to use that same advice in my life now.  Don’t give up working through the emotions and the pain that surface as introspection, prayer, and discussion bring difficult events to the surface.  Go with the pain, for it has a purpose.  Healing comes on the other side.

Some days are better than others.  For example, I just finished reading a wonderful set of books by Francine Rivers (Her Mother’s Hope and Her Daughter’s Dream), which made me sob and weep more often than not.  It brought to the forefront so many emotions… of love lost, relationships gone awry, insecurity, not measuring up, miscommunication, etc.   Her Mother’s Hope reminded me of all of the ambitious dreams I had when I was young and all of the places I was able to travel in Europe.  It took me back to a time of adventure, excitement, and unending promise.  As I continued to read, memories surfaced of intense love and passion… the joy of having met my soul mate, the impact of knowing I had encountered someone who had changed my life forever… the worry associated with raising children and how I don’t want to mess up.   Along with the memories came moments of pain.

My instinct, more often than not, is to run away from the pain… to stop the memories… to wish away what was; but some of those same memories contain immense joy and love, and I want to remember those things more than anything else.  It is in those memories that I realize I am capable of loving.  It is those memories that remind me I was at one time deeply loved by another for simply being me.  I didn’t have to give until there was nothing left in me, nor did I have to pretend to be something I wasn’t; I was loved for the simplicity of being myself.

I’m not sure how life became so complicated as the years have passed, but I do know this: I want to be healed, so I am going to once again go with the pain… this time to birth a new Lori Lynn.  It may be a messy process, but I am hoping the end result will be well worth it.

In the arms of Jehovah-Rapha,

Lori Lynn

Dear Lord… I so often want to fight the pain.  I’m tired of hurting emotionally.  I’m weary of carrying a neverending load of responsibility.  I long for carefree days and joy-filled moments.  When my heart feels heavy, help me to remember that pain has a purpose; and if I go with the pain, it will birth something wonderful in the end.  Amen.

 

Life Lesson #2: Follow Your Heart


Who gives intuition to the heart and instinct to the mind? — Job 38:36 (NLT)

 

For years, I have wanted to be a writer of children’s books.  When I was in my 20’s, I flew to New York City and interviewed with a major publishing house.  I didn’t get the job.  A few years later, I followed the man of my dreams out to Boston to pursue a job in children’s book publishing.  I had dreams of working at Little Brown or Houghton Mifflin.  I went so far as to call Little Brown and offer to work for free.  The girl I spoke with thought I was a crazy person.  I wasn’t crazy; I just really wanted to learn about publishing.

I wound up working for an accounting firm as a secretary, and then I got fired.  I hated my job.  The day my boss and the human resource person told me I was being let go, I looked across the desk at them and said, “Thank you SO MUCH!”  They glanced at each other with a raised eyebrow.  I had no idea how I was going to pay my rent, or even if I would be able to stay living in Boston, but I did know one thing; I was free.  I had been released from a dungeon of drudgery.

I spent the summer looking for a job and collecting unemployment.  My future husband surprised me by taking me on fun outings to get my mind off being unemployed… hiking in New Hampshire, visits to Martha’s Vineyard, dinner and excursions throughout Boston, etc.  The man of my dreams somehow faded out of the picture.  He basically said, “Tough break.”

I’d like to say I persevered and found a job in publishing, but I didn’t.  I wound up in another dull, lifeless secretarial job.  By this time, I had convinced myself I wasn’t supposed to get into publishing.  Throughout the summer, I had continued to look for jobs in publishing.  I had one wonderful man (a vice president at one of Boston’s major publishing houses who rode the same bus I did, and whom I wound up interviewing with) tell me, “In this business, unless you’ve gone to an Ivy League school or come from money, your chances of breaking in are pretty slim.”  That’s when I sort of wilted and gave up.  Publishing wasn’t God’s plan for me.  He had closed every single door I had tried to go through.  Obviously, I was supposed to be knocking on different doors.

I figured since I wasn’t making it in the career world, perhaps I was meant to be a wife and mother.  I changed my focus.  I got married, gave up grad school, had three children, and completely lost my identity.  (Before you start thinking, “Oh boy, here she goes… on the pity-me bandwagon!”, I want to assure you that’s not where I’m headed.  I HAVE been there, done that, but have decided it’s time to get off and start doing what God intended for me to do in the first place… hang on to Him and persevere.)

Throughout my journey, one thing has remained constant (well, two actually, when you count God being the only One who has continued to love me through it all), and that is my love for publishing and writing.  My writing needs a lot of work; it’s rough and tends to segue off onto multiple tangents at times, but it hopefully touches my readers every now and again in a a profound way.  I’m praying it will smooth out in time.

My point to all of this is… if your heart consistently tells you something, and the message rarely changes, LISTEN.  God designed each of us with a specialty.  We’ve each been given a gift.  Your gift will call to you.  It oftentimes will be something that comes naturally.  It can also, at times, require a great deal of studied focus and attention.  It ALWAYS will be something that touches your heart and spreads a warmth throughout your soul.  It will be something that brings you joy, and usually it will be something that blesses others.  So…

Lesson #2: Follow Your Heart

Don’t allow other people to determine what you should do in life.  Don’t be forced into a career that will make you miserable.  So much of our life is spent working, that we really need to be careful that we don’t get locked into doing something we dislike intensely.  If we’re unhappy when we get up in the morning, and we can’t bear the thought of getting out of bed to go to a job we can’t stand, it doesn’t set a good precedent.  There ARE fantastic jobs out there.  It might be something as simple as taking meals to the elderly people on your block or it might be jet-setting around the world cinching major business deals.  If it makes you happy, it’s the right job for you.  The thing is, no one can tell you what it is except YOU.

If you are a young person reading this and  you don’t know what it is, volunteer your services in a variety of areas.  Talk to your friends and ask them what they like/dislike about their job.  Take some time to reflect on whether you enjoy being around people or being alone, working with things or working with ideas, traveling or staying put, working set day shifts or a flexible variety of shifts, being your own boss or having someone else give you direction.  When you’re in high school and college, take a variety of classes.  Get involved in extracurricular activities.  You don’t always need to know what you want to major in at the start of your college career.  Part of the early college experience is exploring your options (of course, high school is an even better time to do this), but my point is to try out a variety of things to find out what you like and what you don’t.  You aren’t going to be good at everything.  That’s okay.  Focus on what you ARE good at.  The rest will fall into place.

If you aren’t so young anymore, but you realize you’ve spent your entire life doing what makes everyone else happy, and you wake up one day and realize you’ve lost your spark, it’s time to reassess things.  It’s never too late to learn something new.  Take some time to think about what you’d rather be doing.  Find some time to go away where it’s quiet.  Take a pen and some paper (or your iPad!) and write down steps on how to make that happen.  It’s a proven fact that the first step in getting from Point A to Point B is to have a plan, so make some goals and write them down.  Start imagining yourself in your new role.  Our thought life is a huge contributor to where we end up in life.  Make a timeline.  You may need to make a budget.  Post these things where you can see them on a daily (or weekly) basis.  Cut out pictures of where you see yourself or what you see yourself doing.  Visual reminders are HUGE in helping us move out of a rut.  Reward yourself along the way to reaching your goal.  Remember, a journey begins with a single step.  If you don’t take that initial first step, you are never going to get to where you want to go.  Believe in yourself and others will believe in you too.

Go on now… get going!  I’m rooting for you!

Lori Lynn

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.  –Steve Jobs

 

 

Do You Want To Get Well (John 5:6-7)


When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”

“Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”

In Jerusalem, near the Sheep Gate, there was a pool called Bethesda. It was here that many disabled people used to lie–the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One man who was there the day Jesus walked by had been an invalid for 38 years.

I can relate to that man. I know what it’s like to be stuck in the same place day after day with no help in sight. I know what it’s like to be there so long that you give up hope of things ever being different.

God laid this portion of Scripture before me numerous times over the past few months. I think He wanted to teach me something. I noticed that the teachers expounding on this passage would say that if the man truly wanted to get well, he would have found a way to get in the pool; but I kept thinking to myself (angrily, I might add), “He COULDN’T. He was paralyzed!!” Then, one day, it dawned on me.

Sometimes, in order to get well, we need to depend on others. We can’t do it alone. We have to reach out to those around us and ask for help. We can’t let pride get in the way. We can’t let our independence get in the way. We must ASK. We must RECEIVE. Only then can we truly get well. Sometimes we need to lean on others for support. Sometimes we need the help of others to get us where we need to be. God created us for relationship… yes, with Him, but also with other people. He even said in Genesis, “It is not good for man to be alone.”

I don’t know about you, but I have difficulty sometimes asking for help. I feel like I should be the one doing the helping. I have just as much difficulty sometimes receiving help. I don’t want to be a bother. I don’t want to burden others with my problems. I realize other people have their own issues. They are busy. They have just as much stress as I do. But someone told me once that if we don’t ask for help, how are other people supposed to know just how badly we need it? If we aren’t willing to receive help, we deprive another person of feeling a sense of fulfillment in helping a fellow human in need. We deprive them of the joy of giving.

How about you? Have you been struggling with the same issue for a long time? Do you want to get well?

Lori Lynn

Teach us, LORD, to receive Your love and blessings. Show us how to reach out to others and develop meaningful relationships. Help us help others. Transform us into a people of courage, people of faith, people with a heart overflowing with love… love for ourselves and for others. Above all, transform us into people who when others see us, they will see Your reflection and want to know You better!! Amen.

I Don’t Want Social Media … I Want Friends!


When I was in 6th grade, I suffered a temporary bout of ostracism from every kid in my class with the exception of one girl, who was a bit of an outcast herself. The details of this sordid event escape me. I’m sure I did something to raise someone’s ire or the green horns of jealousy; but whatever the cause, the repercussions have been profound. Decades later, the effects are still felt. Pretty much every experience I encounter gets processed through the lens of rejection.

Although the ostracizing event blew over that summer and I went on to have many friends throughout junior high, high school, and college, I have found, as an adult, that I still frequently feel like an outcast.

I have a significant number of friends on Facebook (not thousands, because I’m very selective about whom I friend), but here’s the thing … I could have hundreds more if not for the cloudy vision of life I see through my cataracts of rejection, which cause the recurring tape in my head to say, “No one likes you, so they won’t want to be your friend.”) I realize this is faulty thinking. The friends I do have would assure me it just isn’t true. Nonetheless, my faulty thinking affects the outcome of my daily living.

Why do I care how many friends I have? If I really think about it, I don’t. I mean, in the big huge scheme of things, what really matters more … that other people like me or that I like myself? I mean, if I have thousands of friends on Facebook (or any other social media platform for that matter) but I don’t like myself, am I really happy?

We live in a technology-driven, ADHD world of nonconnection … plugged in and tuned out. I firmly believe it’s time to unplug and tune in … tune in with some real flesh and blood friends who truly care and are there when we need them.

I don’t want thousands of friends on Facebook. I want real friends … a dozen flesh and blood comrades in arms who will call me up periodically and invite me to do things with them. “Hey, Lori Lynn, Chris Botti is going to be in town. Want to go see him?” “Hey, Lori Lynn, I feel the need to go Christmas shopping in Chicago. Want to go?” “Hey, Lori Lynn, I’m contemplating signing up for a mission trip to India. You game?” To each of these, I would answer a resounding, “YES, definitely!”

I’m tired of being lonely. I’m tired of not having anyone to connect with in the flesh, so here’s what I’m planning to do for starters:

  • Contact a handful of high school friends, whom I haven’t seen in years, and invite them to my home for an evening of fun;
  • Start a weekly Bible study in my home to connect with a number of people I’ve met at various churches in my area;
  • Initiate new friendships by beginning a monthly book club.

I’m not a terribly social person … I tend to be an introvert … but I’m an introvert who needs to know I belong … that I matter to someone. I need to know there is someone out there who understands me or, if they don’t, are honest enough to say, “Ya know, I have no idea what you’re going through right now, but I’m here for you. How can I help?” Unfortunately, I don’t have many of those people in my life at this point; and I think what is so depressing about that is the fact that I was brought up to be that kind of person (which I was until the majority of people I encountered in life were more than happy to receive my help but weren’t able to reciprocate when I was the one needing help). Constantly meeting other people’s needs while your own continue to go unmet leads to burnout rather quickly.

A huge contributing factor to why my marriage ended after 22 years had to do with so much of this. My husband and I never went out with other couples; we rarely went out period. I longed to connect with another human being; my husband was content connecting to a computer or TV screen.

God designed us as relational beings … first and foremost to be in relationship with Him, yes, but also to be in relationship with others. It’s why He gave Eve to Adam. We need one another. We need encouragement when times are tough. We need hugs when we are hurting. We need companionship when we are lonely. A cyber hug just won’t do!

Lori Lynn

___________

Dear LORD … Thank you for loving me and being my friend. I know You are always there for me and listen intently when I talk to You. You know my heart and the loneliness I feel. So today, LORD, I come before You and lay my loneliness at Your feet. I pray that You would send friends into my life … new friends as well as old … friends to laugh with, hands to hold, and arms to embrace me. I pray that they would be a support and encouragement to me, and I pray that I might be the same for them. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Handicapped


“Don’t judge a man until you’ve walked two moons in his moccasins.”  –Sharon Creech

I have a daughter who has borderline Asperger’s. It has been so difficult watching her grow up because, like most Aspies, she is socially handicapped. She longs for relationships, but she lacks the skills necessary to maintain them. Unfortunately, she also struggles with learning disabilities; math and English are her most difficult subjects. She cannot grasp abstract thinking, and she has a difficult time putting thoughts down on paper. She is incredibly bright and has an above-average intellect; there just happens to be a huge disconnect between what’s in her brain and what shows up on paper. It’s not surprising, then, that academic test scores are less than stellar even though she can give you a verbal answer that would blow you away. She is very insightful. You wouldn’t always know, just by looking at her, that she struggles the way she does. Unlike physical handicaps, her difficulties aren’t always so apparent.

It makes me think of my own handicaps. Mine don’t show either. They are emotional handicaps hidden behind a smile and a helpful demeanor. I know when they started. I was in the sixth grade, and everyone in my grade signed a petition called the “I Hate Lori Lynn” club. I went home that day with a crushed spirit. When I mentioned it at supper that night, my oldest brother laughed. I didn’t see the humor and was even more devastated. It is a horrible feeling to know everyone hates you.

The good news is that by the beginning of seventh grade, everyone had forgotten they hated me, and we no longer had such well-defined cliques among our classmates.  The bad news is that the effect of the devastation from not being liked stuck with me into adulthood. It became a handicap. I continued to have a nagging sensation that there was something wrong with me. Everything I did or thought was filtered through the lens of “what will people think? Will they approve or disapprove? Will they think I’m weird? Will they like me?” I became a covert people pleaser.

Being a people-pleaser is exhausting. In the midst of trying to keep everyone around us happy, we lose ourselves. We no longer have boundaries; and not only are we frequently frustrated and disappointed, but the people we associate with can’t quite seem to feel comfortable being around us. We fail to have opinions about anything, at least genuine opinions that we are willing to share. We lose sight of the fact that God put us on this earth to be a unique individual with a unique purpose, and it’s not to be a people pleaser!

I am learning (and I am teaching my children) that it really doesn’t matter what other people think; what matters is what God thinks and what we think of ourselves. So, I am learning to filter things through a new lens. “What will God think? Will He approve or disapprove? Will He bless it? Am I being obedient to what He is calling me to do?” Ultimately, if the answer to any of those questions is “no,” then I need to adjust accordingly.

What about you?  Do you struggle with a hidden handicap?  What are your coping mechanisms?  Are they working for you, or is the burden becoming too much to bear?  Maybe it’s time to get rid of that load.  Ask God for a new pair of glasses so you might see your situation in a new light.

Growing in Christ–

Lori Lynn

Physical handicaps are one thing, LORD; they are visible.  Emotional handicaps, however, can be invisible, and we might miss many opportunities to show Your love to others because we fail to see their struggles.  Give us eyes to see these “walking wounded,” that we might better understand them and help ease their burden.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

 

When Life Hurts


“Therefore, I will not restrain my mouth;

I will speak in the anguish of my spirit,

I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.”

Job 7:11 (NASB)

I’ve always liked the book of Job.  I think it goes along with my melancholy spirit.  I can identify with the man.  That’s why, when I came across this verse the other day, I immediately felt I had found a kindred spirit.

You see, I’ve spent the better part of the last 14 years complaining in the bitterness of my soul.  Life has been hard.  It has not gone the way I had hoped or planned.  It has pressed me near to breaking point, and it has brought me to my knees (flat on my face actually).  I have cried out in anguish.  I have stormed about in anger.  I have nearly gone mad from frustration.  Through it all, I have learned that I am not the person I thought I was.  I do not have the patience I thought I had.  I am not as kind as I would have hoped.  I can be downright mean and nasty, and I have learned to hate myself at times for it.  It’s funny how life can do that to you… force you to see the not-so-good side of yourself.

Sometimes our hearts are so heavy, we can’t help but complain.  The misery we feel within is so intense that it boils inside like a live volcano that eventually explodes, producing pyroclastic lava flows that cause great damage to everything in their path.

I’m sad to say that I’ve burned quite a few people with my magma of misery.  I knew things were heating up, and I knew I would eventually blow, but I had no idea how to stop what was happening beneath the surface.  I felt like I was stuck in a life I had no control over.  I felt like things happened TO me, and I was powerless to change them.  Eventually, when you feel that way long enough, you give up hope.  You look ahead to the next portion of your life and can’t wait until the good LORD calls you home.  I know, it sounds grim; but that truly is the way you feel when you keep getting knocked down.  I remember explaining it to someone once like this:  “I feel like I have two broken arms and two broken legs, and my trainer is telling me, ‘Get back into that ring and FIGHT!'”  I had nothing left with which to fight.  I was down.

I am happy to report that I didn’t stay there.  I sought help.  God placed some wonderful counselors in my path who taught me that what I was feeling was real.  I had a lot on my plate.  (Sometime, in another post, I’ll tell you a bit more about that.)  Suffice it to say, I remember telling my first counselor, “I feel like one of those plate spinners in the circus.  I keep trying to keep all my plates spinning; but by the time I get to the last one, I can’t make it back to keep the rest going.  Plates are crashing everywhere.”  He helped me to see that I wasn’t crazy like I thought I was.  I just had way too much to handle and no one to help me.

A few years later, after my husband lost his job and moved halfway across the country to take a new one, I once again found myself face to face with despair.  I was looking at having to move back to a place that was very traumatic for me.  I felt like I had no options.  Thus began my descent into major depression.  Once again, God placed a wonderful counselor in my path who suggested I go to one of the Meier Clinics for treatment.  It was the best thing that ever happened to me, because that was the beginning of my journey out of the pit of despair.  The first and most important thing I learned there was that I DO have choices.  We all do.  We think we don’t, but that is not true.

Sometimes we feel unworthy, like our opinion doesn’t matter, or like our needs aren’t important.  I’m here to tell you they are.  Years of squelching my needs to satisfy the needs of my family, and not getting my needs met in return, was a recipe for disaster.  We all have needs.  God designed us that way.  His intent was that we would work together in relationship to mutually meet one another’s needs.  We can’t always give, and we can’t always take.  It’s a two-way street.  A dear lady from the church where my husband and I met explained it to me this way, “As women, we are always meeting other people’s needs.  It is like we hold a big bushel basket full of apples, and we go through life handing out our apples.  If we don’t stop every now and again to replenish our basket, we will run out of apples.”  I ran out of apples a long, long time ago; and I didn’t know how to replenish my basket.

I’ve since learned many ways to do so.  Probably first and foremost is learning how to establish boundaries (and not feel guilty about having them).  I’ve learned to not feel guilty (oh… there’s that word again!) about taking time out for me.  I might do one of the following:

  • read a book for PLEASURE (not a self-help book that requires me to underline or highlight… seriously, most of what I read means there is a pen in the book);
  • go for a 3o-minute walk while tuning into nature (smile at the sun, laugh in delight at the sight of a bluebird, drop my mouth in awe at the sight of an eagle soaring overhead);
  • call a friend to go to lunch (I love to eat!);
  • light a few candles, put on some soft jazz, grab that pleasure book, and soak in a hot tub;
  • watch one of my favorite movies;
  • reminisce over some wonderful people whom God has placed in my path who have filled my life with love;
  • eat chocolate (dark, so it’s healthy);
  • crank my stereo and sing to my heart’s content;
  • write an entry for my blog (and hope someone reads it).

The interesting thing is that, through all the pain, God has been there picking me up.  He has given me the insight to know that it has not all been in vain.  Through it all, He has been teaching me and molding me and transforming me into the person He wants me to become.  I know that one day I will be able to look back and see how it all makes perfect sense as to why each of those hurts was there.  There was a bigger purpose.  Perhaps it has to do with being a beacon of light to lonely, hurting, brokenhearted people who, because of poor choices, find themselves in codependent relationships over which they feel they have no control.  That is something I can REALLY relate to!

How about you?  How do you replenish your basket?  I’d love to hear your ideas!

Walking in His grace…

Lori Lynn

Life can sure hurt, LORD.  Sometimes we don’t know how much more we can take.  When we reach that place, help us to hang on to You and just trust.  Trust that You are in control, and you won’t let us be obliterated by it.  Help us to realize that Satan wants us to fail, and he is doing everything in his power to keep us from living in the joy and freedom you want us to be living in.  Are we going to let him WIN?  Give us all the courage and strength to answer with a resounding, “NO!”, and teach us to see beyond the hurt to  the blessing on the other side.

Life Lesson #1: Deal With Your Stuff


“A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”    — Ecclesiastes 4:12 (NIV)

It’s very difficult when writing a blog to know just how much to share with your readers.  As a writer, I want to touch my readers’ hearts.  I want them to read what I write and say, “Oh my gosh.  I know exactly what she’s talking about!”, or “I SO get where she’s coming from.”  At the same time, I don’t want to share so much that it portrays people in my life in a bad light; because there are two sides to every story, and you are really only hearing mine.  Suffice it to say, because of poor choices I have made in the past, my life has not exactly gone the way I had hoped; but I am hopeful that some of my mistakes can be used for good in teaching others not to do what I did.

Lesson #1:  Do NOT marry someone until you have dealt with your “stuff.”

When I married my husband, I knew I did not love him.  I did know he was a good Christian man, and he had a good heart; and I truly believed that God would help me grow to love him in time.  I was 28 years old, desperately wanted to be a wife and mother, and felt the biological clock ticking.  I had just come out of a four-year off-again-on-again relationship with a man whom I loved more than anything but who had no intention of marrying me anytime soon because of family pressure on his side.  It was actually this man who sat in church with me one day, looked out over the congregation, saw my future husband in one of the front rows, pointed and said, “You should go out with that guy.”  My initial reaction was, “Oh my gosh.  No way.  He is SO not my type!”  (Now I realize that many of you highly-intelligent readers will be asking, “Why did you go out with this guy for four years when he is telling you to go out with other people?”)  Can I just say, “It’s what insecure people do.”  It’s also what led me to marry my husband.

Which brings me back to dealing with our stuff…

We can drag an awful lot of baggage, which we aren’t even aware of, into our marriages.  Are you familiar with any of these:

  • Insecurity
  • Low self-esteem/unworthiness
  • Unresolved relationship issues
  • Poverty (lack of money or love)
  • Emotional/physical/verbal abuse
  • Codependency
  • Anger
  • Mental health issues

If you haven’t dealt with them BEFORE you tie the knot, trust me when I say that you WILL deal with them at some point after.  All of the baggage mentioned above comes with a bountiful set of emotions.  Emotions get triggered in our brains from the darnedest things…  a sound, a smell, a touch, a look, a word, etc.  You may think that you can suppress emotions, but they can only be suppressed for so long.  Emotions are alive, so suppressing them is like burying something alive.  They will eventually erupt and find their way out; and when they do, it isn’t pretty!

I’ve been married for 19 years.  I can honestly say, it has been a struggle from Day 1.  On my wedding night, I was crying because I had a new last name.  Please don’t misunderstand me.  I had every intention of changing my name when I got married.  It wasn’t having a new last name that was the problem; it had everything to do with thinking, “Oh my gosh, I can’t go back.  I’ve made a horrible mistake.  This is not what I wanted.”  I don’t come from a belief system that says, “Get married today and divorced tomorrow.”  I had made a covenant before God.  This was serious business.  For what it’s worth, my husband was probably feeling the same way.  All of the sudden he was faced with a hysterical wife who was not at all like the woman he thought he had married.

In retrospect, I think I was more in love with the IDEA of getting married (the ring, the dress, the flowers, walking down the aisle) than I was with the man I had agreed to marry.  Also, in my insecurity, I didn’t believe anyone else would ever ask me to marry him.  My husband did; therefore, I thought I better jump at the opportunity.

I had had similar feelings (that I was making a mistake) that morning but had brushed them off as wedding-day jitters.  At that point, I remember thinking, “I can’t back out now.  Everyone has flown out here for the wedding.  My parents have put a lot of expense into this.”

Both of us have lamented the fact that we did not have premarital counseling before our wedding day.  We were supposed to have it.  We even went to our first session; unfortunately, right in the middle of it, our pastor got an emergency phone call and had to end the session.  We somehow never rescheduled.  I think the pastor thought, “These are two mature individuals who obviously love each other, both from good Lutheran stock, so they will be fine.”  (Of course, I have no idea what he was actually thinking.  Pre-marriage counseling for us may have just slipped his mind.)  I do think, though, that many of the conflicts we have struggled with over the years would have surfaced in those counseling sessions, and we could have been spared quite a bit of the heartache we’ve experienced (or at least been a little bit more prepared for it).

So, why are we still married?  In this Married-Today-Divorced-Tomorrow Age, I’d like to think it’s because neither one of us can come to terms with breaking the covenant we made before our God; and we’re both too stubborn to give up.  In reality, it isn’t because of anything WE are thinking or doing.  The truth is that God is the third strand in our cord, and where our two strands have broken, His is holding on.  That means there is a purpose in all of this.  That means that just as an ugly ragged-edged rock can be put into a tumbler and bounced all over for days on end and come out a beautiful gem, our marriage has the potential to come out of this as a beautiful thing to show others.  It means that all of the junk our children are being forced to wade through is strengthening them and building them up for service to others.  They will have a sense of compassion and empathy from having “been there” that will give them remarkable insight in helping others through the maze.  I have also come to realize that divorce does not separate us from our stuff.  If not dealt with, our stuff follows us into any marriage we enter into.

Maybe you are in a similar place.  Maybe you’re about to get married and you realize you’re not getting married for the right reasons.  Maybe you’re already married, were lucky enough to have been in love when you walked down the aisle, but now find you have drifted apart.  Maybe you’re struggling with a wayward or mentally-ill child, and it is wreaking havoc in your marriage.  (I have a daughter who is ADHD/NLD/and borderline Asperger’s.  Trust me when I say I KNOW the havoc mental health issues inflict on a marriage.)  Maybe you are a single person who feels the only way you can be loved is to sleep with every person who asks you to with the hope that maybe one of them will propose.  Maybe you are the child of an alcoholic who has become a workaholic to compensate for the love you never got, and you’ve reached the point where you realize you’ve accumulated a lot of things but you have no one to pass them on to.

We all have issues.  We all struggle.  But there is hope.  We CAN deal with our stuff before it deals with us.  We CAN break the cycle that we’re in … be it codependency, verbal abuse, anger.  We CAN stop it.  It isn’t easy.  It means making some tough decisions, but remember that it is for your good and the good of those who come after you.  Dare to be the difference in your future child (or grandchild’s life).  Dare to be the one who breaks the chain.  And remember… the best thing you can do is to deal with it BEFORE you get married!

Holding on in Christ…

Lori Lynn

Dear Lord… Thank you for being the third strand in my frayed and broken cord.  Without you, I would have been done a long time ago.  Continue to show me in a myriad of ways that You have a purpose in all that I am going through and give me the strength to continue holding on until beauty shines through.  Give me the courage to change what I know needs to be changed; if not for my sake, for my children’s sake.  In Jesus’ Name.  Amen.

The GPS of Life: God’s Guidance


Shortly before our youngest child was born, my husband and I went shopping for a new minivan.  The only one we could take possession of before the birth of our baby happened to come equipped with a GPS system.  Both of us thought it was totally unnecessary for us to have a GPS system; after all, it was expensive.  Nonetheless, get one we did.

 After logging many miles between the East Coast and the Midwest in that vehicle, we soon realized what a blessing it was.  It never failed, when traveling through places like Chicago, someone would need to make a potty stop or roads were under construction; and that GPS system came in handy.

How about your GPS system?  Has it helped guide you through some pretty rough predicaments?  What’s that you say?  You don’t have a GPS?  Of course you do!  You just might know it by another name… the Holy Spirit.  Jesus tells us in John 14:26:

But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

 Just as Global Positioning Systems help us find our way physically to our destination, our spiritual GPS (God’s Personal Spirit) helps us navigate our way through life.  Amidst the potty stops of sinfulness, the detours of wrong choices, the “under construction” routes where our will is not in sync with God’s will for us… our spiritual GPS is there providing discernment and wisdom when we can’t find our way.

Now, the interesting thing about GPS devices is that you have to activate them in order for them to work.  The same holds true for our spiritual GPS.  Have you ever tried driving your car with the GPS engaged and then you totally ignore what it’s telling you?  Try it sometime!  It will frustrate you to no end.  You wind up screaming at it, “Why are you telling me to go THAT way when it makes so much more sense to go THIS way!  Will you just shut up!  AAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGG!”

You activate it, thinking you’re going to use it, it shows you the overall route, and you decide, “Oh, no, I know a better way.  I won’t listen to it this time.”  So, you head off to your destination completely ignoring the warnings.  As you make “wrong turn” after “wrong turn” it gives you a warning signal and repeatedly attempts to get you to turn around and start heading in the “right” direction.  You continue to block it out and ignore it.  Eventually, you may wind up where you wanted to, but the means of getting there was probably much more difficult or time consuming than it needed to be.

Isn’t that just how it is with us and God’s Holy Spirit?  We ignore His guidance.  We get irritated with the gentle promptings of where to go and which way to turn.  We block out the warning signals and the repeated efforts to get us headed in the right direction.  We, too, wind up taking the hard way or the time-consuming route, because we think we know better.  We fail to realize how much easier it would be if we would just listen to the “Voice.”

I look back on my life and see many instances where I was driving along without my spiritual GPS activated.  I wound up pretty lost, angry, and confused.  I wondered why I didn’t wind up at the destination for which I had started out.  Nowadays, I don’t go anywhere without it.

Oh, there is one major distinction between my van’s GPS and my spiritual GPS… my spiritual GPS was a gift.  It didn’t cost me a single cent.  Peter tells us, in Acts 2:38:

Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.  And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

The price has been paid by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  We’ve got this remarkably helpful tool on board.  Let’s start using it and listening to its guidance!

Praying you find your way today…

Lori Lynn

Dear LORD, help us utilize the remarkable built-in “perk” you’ve given us when it comes to navigating through this journey called Life.  Help us to realize that part of learning to use our GPS effectively is to listen to what it says.  Open our ears and help us to pay attention to what we hear.  In Jesus’ Name.  Amen.