Archive for the ‘self-care’ Tag

My Wise Wife   3 comments

Kimberly spoke at length with a friend today by phone and afterwards sent her an email.  I found the email so insightful, I wanted to let you in on it:

I thought I’d share the things I was reminded of during our conversation today:
1.  Growth doesn’t offer immediate rewards in terms of good feelings. In fact, it usually feels worse at first! Humans don’t like going into unknown territory, especially areas they’ve been avoiding their whole lives! So it feels bad at first, which makes us think we are doing something wrong. But be encouraged. Difficult feelings don’t mean bad things are happening. Growth is very challenging to our comfort levels, and often other people don’t like it because they are comfortable with the old ways, too.  Which leads us to #2.
2. Being a good Christian doesn’t mean everyone will always be happy with us.  We do have to be responsible, and that means for our own well being as well as others. We cannot always choose to make others happy over ourselves. That is a way to create toxic and dysfunctional relationships that don’t honor God…but instead make others walk all over you and become selfish because they always get what they want. God doesn’t want us to enable others, but often asks us to challenge them by being honest about our own needs. Then it offers them the chance to grow by having to think about being more generous themselves!
3.  Anxiety usually means we are entering new emotional territory. We all have fear and times of being insecure, but when anxiety becomes a regular and strong experience, it does mean something new is happening and it is so important to learn what it is and nurture the growth aspect. But again, anxiety doesn’t mean you are doing something wrong. It actually means your spirit is open in a new way that makes something new possible. We aren’t anxious when we are doing the same old comfortable thing. So think of it as being pregnant with new life. Anxiety…the “labor pains” of growth… comes when we are ready to give new life to something in us.  Something is trying to get born…like labor pains…and it hurts! So we need to go with the labor pain and encourage it  to come. In your case now, I think that is being willing to make a decision that others aren’t happy about (being willing to choose your own needs even when you know someone else won’t like it) and also allowing for grace when something you decide turns out to have a negative impact on people you love.  Yikes! Hard stuff!
These are all my own issues, also! I am still trying to get more comfortable with the idea of challenging others rather than always trying to make them happy. Challenge is a part of love, we need to remember. People need the chance to make better choices, to become better than they are by coming up against the needs of others. They do need comfort, too, which you and I are good at… but our growth area is challenge.
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Posted April 25, 2016 by janathangrace in Guests

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Come and Rest   Leave a comment

I drove home from work this evening with my windshield wipers swishing away the dreariness and plotting how to ease my weary soul: instrumental music, a cinnamon scented candle, a DVD fire on the TV screen, a cup of coffee and a chocolate chip cookie topped with birthday cake ice cream, while nestling into my sofa to love on my two dogs.  So here I sit with Mazie curled up beside me and Mitts stretched out on my lap, lending me their peace.

I have things to do, things easier done in the daylight, but I’ve set them aside as the shadows settle in.  Through the back french doors I can just make out the black tree trunks and branches against the dark grey sky on the hill above our home.  It is okay.  There will always be one more thing to do.  My inbox will always be overflowing.  Rest is so important to God that it made his top ten list.  It is an act of holiness so basic to our well-being that it was the capstone of the world’s creation.  Even more than my body, my soul needs to let go, relax, settle in, harbor from the blasts life blows throughout the day.

Come join me.  Find your place of calm.  Leave the lists and obligations, the insistent tasks and expectations in the hands of the One who can carry it for you and come away to Sabbath for a time until the weariness slowly drains off and washes away.  Every person and task in your life is benefited by your self-care.  Breathe easy.  It is an act of holy obedience.

Posted January 9, 2016 by janathangrace in thoughts

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Coloring My Calendar   4 comments

here be dragons

HERE BE DRAGONS

So it does not trouble me that I don’t know the shape 2014 will take.  Wait, did I just write that?  What poppycock.  I’m not okay with this at all.  One of my coping mechanisms is to be in control of my life, and I can’t steer blind.  2013 ran out of road a week ago, and there are no more leaves to unfold on my map… the journey ahead simply wanders off the edge of the page.  But the road carries me along still, without my leave.  So, since I can’t see or direct my destination or route, I’ve settled on coloring in the shapes of each day.

gift

My red crayon found this to highlight: “Every day, once a day, give yourself a present. Don’t plan it, don’t wait for it, just let it happen.”  I like it!  And after opening that daily treat, I want to jot down the experience in order to remind myself, to expand the pleasure, and to share it with others…  not just for the treats I find, but for those that find me or ones I stumble upon.  Someone even suggested keeping a photo journal, which I’ve been doing, and I think I’m kind of hooked.

o   o   o   o   o

Here’s my “gift to self” from 2 days ago DSC01585Mocha with a marshmallow.  I haven’t put a marshmallow in hot chocolate for as long as I can remember.  It brings back good memories of snow-frozen fingers wrapped around a hot cup and icy toes warming on a toasty hearth, watching the flames dance and sizzle.

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Yesterday, on my daily walk it was the unexpected beauty in winter’s deadness, nature’s ice sculpture

0107141458

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Today’s pleasure was sitting in a quaint local coffee house to write this blog and then listen to a friend share heart issues.

white hart

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May you discover for yourself simple daily pleasures to add a little color to the dark days of winter.

Posted January 9, 2014 by janathangrace in Personal, Uncategorized

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Sitting Still Is Hard Work   2 comments

I’ve been missing here for a month, not from depression or busyness or low energy as in the past, but from fence sitting.

doggie on fence

Not by choice.  I’m too weak to jump out of the yard and do anything useful–I’ve glanced at projects countless times, even started some, only to realize they would drain my soul.  in the other direction, the emotional gravity dragging me back down hasn’t found a grip as long as I’ve kept my shaky equilibrium.  I’m in a holding pattern on a narrow platform, and I sense that it is my task to wait and gather strength.

donkey airedThis is not easy for me.  My internal voices are always shouting for me to get busy, and ignoring them has always led me into a place of shame.  They drove me into more and more Christian service until it broke me. When I discovered the potholes this pounded into my soul, I thought I had turned onto the road to recovery, but the voices just switched goals, whipping me towards personal development, “figure out NOW what is holding you back and FIX it!”  I feel ashamed for not healing faster.  Patience with myself is rarely an item in stock.

I have lived all my life on the principle that rest must be earned.  After all, God worked six days and rested on the seventh.  I thought the Sabbath was simply a concession to our weaknesses: “Okay, you’ve worked hard enough, so now you get to rest.”   In fact, there was no command to work six days… that was simply a necessity for survival and advancement.  The duty, the order, the commandment  (one of the Big Ten), was not to stay busy, but to stop busy.  The Sabbath is not a reward for working all week.  The reward for working all week is the material benefits we reap.  The Sabbath was certainly a blessing, but it was a command, not a reward.  It had its own justification and importance quite independent of the other six.

The Fourth Commandment was also not a prohibition (“thou shalt not work”) but a prescription: “Remember the Sabbath to keep it Holy.”  It offered positive power and creative purpose for our lives, the one day to focus care on our spirits instead of our bodies (for food, shelter, etc.).  If anything, it was not the work week that justified the Sabbath, but the Sabbath that justified and gave meaning to the work week.  I was raised on the “Protestant Work Ethic,” but what I really need is a strong dose of the “Protestant Rest Ethic.”  The first has often pulled me from faith in God to dependence on myself, but the second forces me back to faith… and though it is shaky and insecure, it is a faith I am committed to.weak faith

Posted October 27, 2013 by janathangrace in Personal

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You Can’t Handle the Truth   1 comment

Last night Kimberly and I watched Beyond the Gates, a movie about the Rwandan genocide when 800,000 men, women, and children were hacked to death as the world looked on and did nothing.  It was terrible.  It was real.  It was a small window onto the depths of human depravity which ravage our world daily.  If you keep your peace of mind by sweeping darker parts of reality into a seldom-used corner of your mind, perhaps you buy happiness at too great a cost.  If the evil filling this earth does not burn in your heart and shape your daily decisions, you may be living in a fantasy world of your own making.

Frederick Buechner tells of his professor, James Mullenberg:

“‘Every morning when you wake up,’ he used to say, ‘before you reaffirm your faith in the majesty of a loving God, before you say I believe for another day, read the Daily News with its record of the latest crimes and tragedies of mankind and then see if you can honestly say it again.’

He was a fool in the sense that he didn’t or wouldn’t or couldn’t resolve, intellectualize, evade, the tensions of his faith but lived those tensions out, torn almost in two by them at times. His faith was not a seamless garment but a ragged garment with the seams showing, the tears showing, a garment that he clutched about him like a man in a storm.

To love a hurting world is to suffer with it.  Do you see this world as God sees it?  There is a reason the prophets of old, the seers, were mostly melancholy men and why the Messiah was called the Man of Sorrows.  Some of us by nature are more touched by the shadows.  It is not only the deep fissures in the ghettos and war-crushed countries, but the cracks in my own heart that torment me.  My own little hatreds and conspiracies, defensive moves and fear-driven words awake in me an understanding of and identification with history’s villains.

If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

But I realized something today.  I am not big enough to absorb all that pain.  I can’t handle that much truth… I have to shut some of it out so that it does not capsize my little boat.  I want the brokenness of the world to inform my outlook, but not to cripple it.  I instinctively have known this all along and have protected myself from those things that have pulled me too far down, especially when my emotional reserves are low, but I felt cowardly.  When I dropped Facebook friends because their posts or comments were too disturbing or I avoided confrontation with family, my love seemed limited and weak.  Well, since I am not God, my love certainly is limited and weak, and I cannot demand of it more than I am able to give.   I must live within my means not only financially, but emotionally, because if I have too many overdrafts, I will crash.  My heart will always be touched more profoundly by the tragedies around me–it is how I was designed–so I need to soak my bruised soul more deeply, more often in the pools of grace away from the harsher sides of reality.

Posted February 11, 2013 by janathangrace in Personal, thoughts

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You’re Really Okay with This?   5 comments

No arguments with my last Ayn Rand post, with my “selfish” assertion that I should care for my own needs before I care for the needs of others?  My primary moral concern is myself, according to Rand, and I agree with her.  I am ultimately responsible (before God) for my own soul, and it is immoral for me to make a choice that undermines my spiritual well-being, even if someone else might apparently benefit by that action.  I must not sacrifice truth or goodness, purity or faith, love or integrity for any cause, however good, because the end never justifies the means.  I must not be false to myself in order to benefit another.  No good ever comes from choosing against myself.

But what about a mother sacrificing herself for her children or a husband for his wife?  Is there no place for self-sacrifice?  I think I can best approach this question by considering personal gains and losses.  We all suffer losses in this life–not only those forced on us by circumstances, but those we choose for ourselves, for our own benefit.  I choose to lose income for a more fulfilling job, I choose to curtail freedom for the joys of marriage, I choose to forgo speaking my mind for the sake of peace.  In other words, I sacrifice the good for the better; the lesser for the greater, and ultimately, I am ready to sacrifice everything, even my physical life, for that which is fundamental to who I am–my heart and soul.

I think the term “self-sacrifice” is prone to misunderstanding in this regard.  I must never sacrifice my true self for anyone or anything.  I may often choose to suffer a loss for the benefit of myself or others, even great loss in extreme circumstances, but I cannot undermine my soul for the sake of anyone.  It would be immoral and ungodly.

IS THERE ANY LEFT FOR ME?

Many would agree with this theoretically, but in practice I think we regularly, though unintentionally, trade away our soul little bits at a time.  Instead of telling a friend that I need some quiet time, I keep talking on the phone.  Instead of taking a refreshing vacation, I spend the week helping a family member move.  Instead of taking a stand for myself at work, I yield once more to the boss’s insistence.  I don’t tell my spouse what I really think; I wear scuffed shoes to save money; I let the kids choose the radio station.  All of these choices seem godly, and they may be… unless they are slowly grinding down my soul, quenching my life, tripping up my dance with God.

I am learning to listen to my heart when it tells me what I truly need, and if I need it, then it is my moral obligation to meet that need to the best of my ability.  Others will push me to compromise myself and will make me responsible for meeting their wants and needs.  They are in essence making me their savior, but that role belongs to One alone.  If they truly need something, it is God’s responsibility to meet that need, whether or not he uses me.  Grace is the breath of life, and I must put on my airline oxygen mask before helping my child with his or we will both succumb. 

Posted September 28, 2012 by janathangrace in thoughts

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Living Life Fully   Leave a comment

Ayn Rand’s philosophy is simple: the purpose of humans is to live fully as humans, pain and pleasure direct us towards life or death, and we must choose life.  I find myself agreeing with her.  “Choose life!” God tells Israel repeatedly through Moses.  Surely life lived to the fullest is God’s design for us, and misery or joy seem to be fairly reliable indicators of what benefits or harms us.  But some caution niggles in the back of our brains: if we avoid pain and pursue pleasure, are we not hedonists?

Rand decries hedonism: “When… the gratification of any and all desires is taken as an ethical goal… men have no choice but to hate, fear and fight one another, because their desires and their interests will necessarily clash.  If  ‘desire’ is the ethical standard, then one man’s desire to produce and another man’s desire to rob him have equal ethical validity….  If so, then man’s only choice is to rob or be robbed, to destroy or be destroyed, to sacrifice others to any desire of his own or to sacrifice himself to any desire of others; then man’s only ethical alternative is to be a sadist or a masochist.  The moral cannibalism  of all hedonist and altruist doctrines lies in the premise that the happiness of one man necessitates the injury of another.”  Hedonism and altruism are alike in this: one person’s well-being must be sacrificed for the sake of another’s.

Rand Is a Rationalist

“The Objectivist ethics,” Rand explains, “holds that human good does not require human sacrifices and cannot be achieved by the sacrifice of anyone to anyone.  It holds that the rational interests of men do not clash.”   She sees a benevolent world in which every person can find genuine, full happiness regardless of the actions of others.  I’m not sure how an atheist such as Rand can be so optimistic, but if the God of all grace rules the world, hope is an inescapable, logical conclusion.  A theist might read her statement “the spiritual or life-giving interests of men do not clash.”  If God is committed to what is best for me, then I fulfill his will by living out this truth.  God must see to it that the choices I make  in pursuing what is best for me do not undermine what is best for another.

 

*Rand is an individualist, so we must still refine her thoughts with the Biblical truths of community and interdependence.

Posted September 19, 2012 by janathangrace in Reading, thoughts

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