Friday, July 31, 2015

Should vs Want: A Game in Mind Trickery

If you are like me and overanalyze/over think to a fault, you have probably come up with some tactics in mind trickery. You know, to make it behave and not be getting in the way of everything. Today a mind tactic HIT ME  RIGHT IN THE FACE, metaphorically speaking.

Today it's beautiful outside. It's been so rainy this summer I caught myself in this kind of annoying thought cycle: "It's so nice out. I should go out. I should go for a walk! It's so hot though. But in the winter time all I want is for hot weather so I SHOULD go out and enjoy it. I SHOULD." Then I feel like because I should, I have to rebel against it. All because I feel like I should. It goes on and on!

 "I should go exercise. I should go water the plants. I should paint this. I should organize that. I should hang this. I should have done this a long time ago. should SHOULD should SHOULD should SHOULD". It's practically the word my heart beats some days. SHOULD. Expectations! Not meeting them! Disappointing everyone, especially myself!!!! Constantly piling up a whole library of should do or should haves.  Then the list is so long and heavy, you don't know where to start and you end up (sometimes) doing NOTHING and then feeling TERRIBLE and beating yourself up about it.

I believe thoughts are the very foundation of what makes our lives. They can be life giving or life taking. We ALL have inside our head our regular, normal voice/stream of consciousness and that negative one that is always giving us every reason NOT to do something. I've been working on responding truth to those negative thoughts.

So today when I was like struggling with the MOST SIMPLE OF TASKS of "should I go outside" (saying it out loud makes me laugh because seriously...who argues in their head about going outside!?), this thought struck me: "I WANT to go outside and enjoy the weather. I GET to. Not should, WANT". It applies in SO many areas that I always think should:

I should spend time working out today. But what's the point. I can never be disciplined enough.

I should go grab some groceries so we can save money and eat better. What's the point, I can neve seem to eat healthy enough.

I should go work on the landscape out front, it's the worst. Everyone is probably judging me. Why isn't her yard a golf course!

I should reach out to so and so, I'm probably not very good at staying socialized.

I should spend time working on my writing...I have enough time I should have accomplished ______ by now.

I should spend time working on my photography....just another skill/hobby I've let go by the wayside.

I should spend time with God....I am so selfish with my time.

I should pray for this, or that. Why don't I do that more often.

I should be better.

I should do better.

WATCH how this changes everything:

I want to spend time working on my fitness today!

I want to get some things off the to-do list!

I want to spend time with God!

I want to write today!

I want to spend time in prayer!

I want to go outside and enjoy this WEATHER!

I want to spend time with friends !

I want to show my yard some TLC!

I know, it's seems lame. But for REAL, when I was thinking "No, you WANT to go outside" it's like everything changed about how I felt about that simple goal. Yeah, there are always reasons (and sometimes reasonable reasons) not to do things. When you start thinking should, it becomes a chore. When you choose to go on the flip side it does help (of course, not always 100% effective, haha) but thinking I want to do this (because you really do) really does help. I'm going to try and keep using this technique and ignoring the "shoulds".

Of course, I will always be trying to weasel out of working out and yard work.

I hope this made SOME kind of sense. Happy friday!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Words for the Radioactive Heart

Well, I'm taking a break from my Women's Therapy Center story to talk about something else. Because this is the kind of writing I do; chaotic, unorganized, unplanned, and off the cuff. Tada! It's good to write about things while they are still fresh, if you can. Clearly I haven't mastered that concept but here's to trying! (Clinks starbucks cup to computer screen, makes mess, loses faith in humanity).

This past weekend, we had the opportunity to visit some of our very best friends, the Johnsons! (I still can't believe and get excited over the fact that they are now THE JOHNSONS).  I love that we have friends who are willing to let us come and crash their house and play with their dog and eat all their food. And kindly watch all our weird youtube videos. (There is ALWAYS that portion of the day where youtube videos have to be shown and shared and demanded to be taken seriously).  One of the things I love most about visiting them is getting to visit their church, too! I love hearing them lead worship and always love hearing their pastor preach. This particular Sunday, I felt a lot of words speaking directly to me. You try to put God on hold but he finds a way to patch through when you least expect it. I like to hear what others are struggling with, being convicted about, what their victories are. But it's hard to be the one sharing, especially when it's not a victory but YET ANOTHER STRUGGLE. But, here it is, laid out there in all it's ugliness and candor.

I feel like the song "All I Do is Win" is my ironic anthem. Of course, I know I have a good life and am thankful for it (seriously, I am, these are not token words).  I also feel that I struggle a lot and lately I have been struggling with STRUGGLING. ("put your hands in the air, make 'em stay there!!!" you're welcome). Every. Single. Day.  I am struggling my thoughts to make them less negative, jealous, anxious, sad. I am struggling my body to make it healthier, smaller, better, pregnant. I am struggling to be disciplined in so many areas that I doubt I'm doing anything good or making any progress. But I think the biggest struggle in the last 4 months has been battling bitterness, anger, and apathy. Dare I say even lack of faith?! Yes, it's where I am..might as well own it. I know, deep down, God is good. He has a plan. This world we live in is just temporary, and just the beginning. Ect, ect. But I am really struggling with the wait to becoming parents. The WEIGHT of the wait is getting heavier. There have been so many pregnancy announcements from close friends the last 6 months that I truly am struggling with bitterness and anger. (and of course, joy at their joy. Anger on my own behalf, selfishness, thinking I deserved it too, maybe even more because of all the waiting I've already done.  See?? Ugly).

Sometimes, I feel like I'm the burning man. Like if someone looked at me through infrared glasses they would see nothing but redness and fire. Radioactive. It's always burning but sometimes it's possible to keep it dwindled to a few flames that can be contained. Especially with concentration. Sometimes it wakes me up out of a deep sleep raging with no way of putting it out, except mindful concentration on something else. Or doing lots of physical activity. Or sometimes no physical activity, because all my strength is being used towards putting out mind fires.

To bring it all around to Sunday: one of the songs sang during worship was the hymn "Be Still My Soul". One I've heard many times and have always loved. Sometimes words mean something to you, but you really don't know the depth of them until a particular season in life:

"Be still my soul, the Lord is on thy side
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain
Leave to thy God, to order and provide
In every change He faithful will remain
Be still my soul, thy best, thy heavenly friend
through thorny ways leads to a joyful end"

The words "bear patiently the cross of grief or pain" really convicted me. I know I am not bearing this waiting period with much grace or dignity or PATIENCE.   I am convicted to ask God more often for a better attitude, more grace to welcome others announcements with joy and without jealousy and bitterness. I need to ask Him to help me put the anger to good use!!! In the past, usually anger is the best motivator for me. Maybe if I had no anger I would just...cease to keep trying. Give in. Roll over. Play dead. Is it weird to pray that God will help me use my anger in a wise way? Or should I pray for it to leave? I'm not sure. Knowing my personality I probably need the fire to keep fighting, spiritually, physically, and emotionally.

During the sermon, Pastor Rob was preaching on I Peter 3:13-17. (You know the sermon hit home when I can remember the specific passage of scripture, hehe). This passage talks about suffering for righteousness sake. I know, I am not a martyr. I am not suffering for the sake of the kingdom or suffering because I shared the gospel.  I don't know that suffering is the correct term for what I have been feeling, but I did take away a lot from this sermon! Mainly, the idea that if God has placed or allowed a situation in your life, your two different choices are to be angry and resentful about it OR to learn from it and open your heart to what God can use the hard time to accomplish for His kingdom. To potentially bring Him glory and let others see the hope you have even despite struggles or hardships. And be ready to tell them about that hope! To paraphrase (because I can't remember the exact words) he said "you can either drink this cup down and trust God's plan or refuse it". I have definitely been refusing this cup. Refusing it hardcore!!! The cup of what I mentally call "this ridiculous time period of continued extra waiting maybe I should get another cat and call it a day" (LOL).  It's the spiritual equivalent of "is Pepsi ok?" NO, PEPSI IS NEVER OK!!!!! GET ME A COKE, GOD, I WANTED A COKE!!!!!!!

I think honestly right now I'm somewhere in between drinking this cup and refusing it. I want what God wants (I GUESS) but I also want what I want. I'm not sure if those two things are the same. Which I guess is the point. No one WANTS to go through tough periods in life but at least for me, I know I'm always thankful for the trial by fire AFTERWARDS. But during I'm giving God the side eye and asking sarcastically "really????? how many injustices must I endure!!!!!" a million times and being dramatic and whiny.

For now, I'll be concentrating on harnessing the anger. Letting it motivate me to keep working towards my goals in a non sinful way. I'll be working on trusting God to order and provide for what I need, not what I think I need. And boy, am I thankful that God has blessed me with my particular husband and friends and family. I cannot imagine going through these things without them.

I'll leave you, radioactive, angry, overwhelmed, and struggling friends with these words:

"Be still my soul, the hour is hastening on
when we shall be forever with the Lord
when disappointment, grief, and fear are gone
sorrow forgot love's purest joys restored
be still my soul when change and tears are past
all safe and blessed we shall meet at last"