From Feeling Stuck to Freedom

Feeling stuck? Yes, we all get there at different points in time during our lives. Summer is a great time to work through being stuck because we’ve typically got some extra downtime to work with, and long drives or hours on the beach with which to do the thinking. So if you’re feeling stuck here are some things to consider:

First, start with honesty. If you’re really serious about moving past being stuck, it starts with being honest about why you’re stuck and what’s making you feel stuck. Part of that honesty is knowing whether or not you’re willing to take the necessary actions to get over being stuck, or if you’re just in need of some venting time (and there’s nothing wrong with that).

Once you’ve decided that you are ready to make changes in your life and you’re done with being stuck it may help if you journal out your feelings and situations and examples, that way you can just dump and consider each issue after you’ve gotten it all out. You may have an idea of what’s frustrating you and holding you back, but writing it out can help reveal things you didn’t even know were an issue.

Then it’s time to talk about getting free. Freedom from being stuck will include new actions you’ll include and things you’ll remove from your life. It’s not likely that you’ll just add some things to your life (like eating more fruits and vegetables), it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll be removing, decreasing or stopping some things as well (like the number of times you stop for ice cream each week).

Moving forward it may be right for you to go cold turkey and make some really big changes all at once, but for other people they’re just as successful taking it one smaller step at a time. Regardless of how you do it, make sure you’ve got the support you need to do it and you’ve told the important people in your life about the change you’re making so that they can try to be considerate of the life change you’re working on. Who knows, they may want to join you in making those changes as well!

So what’s got you feeling stuck this week and what are you going to do about it?

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Standing Strong to Make A Difference

As I’ve been thinking about our topic of the month (strength/courage/bravery) and one of my other favorite topics, victories, I had what may seem like an obvious epiphany, but here it is: it’s through using our individual strengths that we’re able to make a difference in the world. It’s not by bringing my weaknesses to the table that I can help others, that I can make the world better for the next generation, or I can have a happier life, it’s by standing on my strengths.

I can’t avoid or completely erase my weaknesses (although I can improve on them), but I can rely on other people’s strengths to help me with my weaknesses or to support me where my skills or resources aren’t as good as theirs. I don’t believe we have to be perfect people or good at every single thing. It’s OK to bring our own skills and strengths to a project but not be able to do the entire project on our own. There are tons of short cuts and supports that have been created in our modern age from “supermarket short cuts” that help us cut cooking time down, to tech templates that allow us to do some of the online design work but not have to do it all, to search engines that give us answers with a few taps or clicks with no trips to the library required (unless you want to!).

The question really is will you bring your strengths to the table for the good of everyone, or will you keep them just for yourself? While I don’t think we have to help everyone with everything, I do think we need to give back and make a difference in the world. Lawyers can donate a couple of hours a month to helping non-profits, doctors can donate a couple of hours to free clinics, teachers can donate a couple of hours to inner city students or those with learning disabilities, parents can donate a couple of hours to single parents in their neighborhood to watch their kids, and business owners can donate a couple of hours to helping veterans learn a trade or start a business. Not to mention that everyone can recycle, plant a tree, share information with the police or crimestoppers, help someone cross the street, pay for someone’s coffee, or say something nice to someone on social media.

You know what you’re good at, you know what you enjoy. How will you take your strengths and use them for good in the world?

Earth Day Encouragement

Earth Day is less than a week away, and as I was reflecting on some of the earth/nature related Bible verses, the earth related events I know about coming up this weekend, about tax time, and still about Easter which is only a few weeks ago, I was reminded that it all eventually circles back to one thing: community.

Let me explain. Yes, the Bible tells of God doing things for just one or a few people, but Easter is really about everyone, not just one person or a few people. Everyone pays taxes, because it’s too big of a burden for just one person to take care of. The earth is something we all share and we’re all going to either keep it or lose it depending on how we live on it. As much as we’re all individuals and God sees us that way and has individual relationships with each of us, we’re all still part of a body of believers and called to meet together, care for each other and love each other.

Earth Day is one of those things that individually we’re responsible for doing our part to pay better attention to how we live on the earth as well as make sure we give back to the earth. But it’s only when we look at our collective effort that we can really see the difference over the years since 1970 when Earth Day officially began. It’s only when we recycle all year long, and not just on Earth Day, that we’ll make a difference. It’s only when we consistently choose the environmentally friendly choices that we begin to see a difference.

The same is true for our faith communities. You may not think you’re doing much only talking with one person about what faith means to you, but when many people are talking with others about their faith, not only does the Great commission not seem so overwhelming, but it actually looks like we’re making progress spreading the word.

So today I encourage you not to give up. Don’t be disheartedned if you don’t see your personal efforts having huge effects. Take the time to be part of your community and see what your community is doing to make a difference in the world, both your local community for Earth Day and your church community for the Great Commission. I’m not suggesting that when you see everyone else is doing the work that you let others do all the work and don’t give a personal effort, but rather be encouraged that the work you’re doing in connection with the work they’re doing is making a difference.

“Sometimes—by sheer determination–we can just kick the stone away from the door of the tomb and march out triumphantly into Resurrection Life. More often, we must wait: wait for circumstances to change, wait upon on God, wait on others for help. When Lazarus was called out of the tomb, Jesus said: “unbind him.” You –you friends and family of Lazarus—you unbind him. Sometimes we cannot unbind ourselves, but have to wait for others to help us into freedom.” Br. Mark Brown

Together We Are More

We’ve all got failures in our pasts, and we’ll all have more in our future.  None of us are perfect and none of us can be perfect given the way things are in the world at this time.  But what it will take for the world to become a place where our failures haunt us less and we’re less concerned about being perfect, will be for us to care more honestly and deeply for those around us.

When we’re more concerned about what goes on around us, we’ll be more conscious of our actions and the impact that our actions (and our words) have on the world around us.  We’ll be quicker to notice that we’ve hurt someone’s feelings, quicker to respond to situations that are going to pot, and quicker to forgive and accept forgiveness.

What difference would this make you ask?  Simply put, it changes the entire equation.  By being more conscious of what is going on around us we’ll realize quicker when things aren’t right.  But beyond that, when we’re more focused on caring for those around us we’ll actually make the necessary changes to rise above the situations that arise.

Right now many of us are semi-motivated people.  We get up and go when we can’t take it anymore, when it’s in our best interests or when most people have already hopped on the bandwagon.  We like to know that others are doing things we’re interested in, and we really like to know that we’re not alone in the world.

Which brings us back to our point: if we knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that other people around us were just as concerned and interested in us as we were in them we would be less insecure, less self-conscious and more ready to take action because we knew we wouldn’t be judged for our mistakes.  In fact, people would be more likely to come up and lend a helping hand when things go awry.  This will mean that instead of picking stupid fights we’ll be focusing on improving the lot of the world and helping each other out.

Together we are more than we could ever hope to be apart.  Remember that you’re not alone in this world, but that there are other people who truly care about you and want to support you.

“To be capable of steady friendship or lasting love, are the two greatest proofs, not only of goodness of heart, but of strength of mind.” William Hazlitt

Finding Confidence in God

One of the biggest challenges to our lives and successes has to do with the fact that we’re sometimes insecure people, or lacking in confidence. Yes, each of us has little things that set us off or raise red flags and make us question, even if there is no need to question, even though we’re confident, strong people in every other area of our lives. Many of us have insecurities around whether we’re important or not, whether it’s at work, in a relationship or to our children. Whether we’re young or old, we sometimes feel that we’re not important, it’s unfortunately part of being human.

Ezekiel 37:14 says: “I will put My spirit in you, that you may live.”
Psalm 89:17 says: “You are their amazing strength. Their power comes from you.”
Jeremiah 31:25 says: “I will give rest and strength to those who are weak and tired.”

God gives us life, gives us the strength to become the best version of ourselves, and the encouragement to get through the times of doubt. This week, know that you do matter. Who you are, what you can do, your dreams, your goals, your hopes, your dreams, who and what you call home, these things all matter. To you, to me, and most importantly to God. He’s your biggest cheerleader and greatest coach, the voice of reason and little flame that spurs you on to do better.

If you’re struggling with confidence or feelings of insecurities, turn to God and ask Him to show you the confidence and strength that He revealed to so many leaders in the Bible who didn’t start out as amazing leaders. And don’t forget to tell someone this week that they matter to you, you may think they know, but they may not. Your vote of confidence in them and acknowledgement of their ability could be the encouragement they’ve been needing.

Can You Have Too Much Help?

I firmly believe that we rarely achieve success without at least one other person being involved and helping us along the way. Maybe that person is the stranger who built the website technology you used to create your website for your business. Maybe that person is your partner who encourages you to get up and exercise every day. Maybe it’s the truck driver who delivers the supplies to your store after hours. I think it’s great when we’re brave enough to ask for help, but can it go too far? Can we get too much help?

I think that in order to really achieve success personally we have to be involved in the success process. I don’t think you can really hand it all of to your people or your team and call it a win for you personally when you didn’t do anything (this would be an example of a team win). And you can’t call it a win at all when all you do is hand stuff off to others so you don’t have to deal with it and don’t take up the responsibilities that you should be handling instead.

What we’re talking about here is delegating vs abdicating.  The difference between delegating and abdicating or abandoning is that when you delegate you do so with the express purpose of giving a task to someone better equipped to do it or because your time and effort are much better spent doing other things.  Abdicating and abandoning means that you’re either giving up, paralyzed with fear or so overwhelmed you can’t do what you should or could be doing, and so you do nothing.

I’m all for delegating when it comes to success, I don’t know that anyone is truly capable of doing everything for themselves all the time, especially if you want to live in the world that we do (and not be a farmer who lives off the grid and doesn’t really interact with society). But delegating becomes an issue when you’re using the delegation to avoid doing anything. Then not only are you not having successes, the people in your life are probably also not having successes, and they’re possibly getting frustrated with you.

As you finish off this week I encourage you to take a moment and think about the responsibilities in your life and whether you’re living up to them or not.  Victory may be just a few commitments and actions away.

Have a Little Respect

Over the past week we’ve been hearing stories of #metoo, of primarily women who had unwanted attention showered on them by bosses, people of authority and other guys in general. It’s actually a campaign that’s more than 10 years old, but you and I most likely heard about it really over the past week and weekend with the news breaking from Hollywood. Many of my blog posts are about relationships. We’re all in relationships, whether of the sexual kind or the friend/coworker kind. That’s how our world runs. But not everyone is sensitive to or aware of, or caring how damaging seemingly simple things can be to a person and a relationship, not to mention the big issues like rape and domestic abuse.

As far as romantic relationships I fully support working with a counselor or therapist and trying to work things out when you and your partner hit a rough patch.  We all change as we grow up and grow older, and adding kids to the mix changes the dynamic between the two of you as well. Not to mention all the exterior challenges like work and health and other people that can be like a baseball or tennis ball automatic thrower that just keeps beating at your relationship. But sometimes the best thing to do is to walk away. It’s not always the easy thing and it’s not always the popular thing. And depending on the situation, even if it is the right thing to do you or your partner may have a season of hurting and healing ahead as you deal with the cause of the fallout and the subsequent separation.

I don’t believe that anyone should be in a relationship of any kind with someone who’s violent or demeaning. But as we’ve talked about here and overall as a nation and world, there’s a lot of growing and changing that has to happen with regards to race, violence and women, beyond all that we’ve already done to work on those issues. This most recent discussion won’t solve all the problems, but if anything, I hope it gives a few more women the strength and courage they need to stand up and get out of the not healthy situation they’re in. The violence may be all they (or you) know, all they grew up with or the only way they know men to behave.  I may not have the horrific stories that other women do, but I’ve experienced more than one uncomfortable situation with a guy.  I know that there is something on the other side of that wall. I know that each and every woman is capable of saying no, of having a say in how they’re treated and has something amazing to contribute to society other than, or in addition to, their physical capabilities as a woman and mother.

It starts with all of us women standing up and saying that it’s not right for anyone to be treated disrespectfully and doing something about it.  But nothing can happen if the men of the world won’t stand up as well and say that they’re going to treat women better and follow through on that promise.  Danny Brown shared a powerful blog post recently on the subject from a guy’s point of view and I would encourage you to check it out as well.  Let’s work together to make sure there are fewer ‘me too’ stories in the future.