Friday, March 21, 2014

Nothing Could Steal Her Joy (a five minute friday)

My Five Minute Friday on: Joy

So many things out there threatening to steal our joy. I walk a line between good and bad, most days.

I used to think joy was that fickle — coming and going like the wave lapping up against the shore.

But I know better now.

"She knew that when her affections were set on things above then nothing could steal her joy."

These words sit on the shelf above my computer. My eyes whirl by it as I rush to the next thing. But so often the word "joy" catches me and I wonder to myself if I'm feeling joy today.

Joy isn't the same as happy. I've bounced this conflict around in mind over the years because happy and sad, good and bad, hardship and status quo have never existed in the same moment for me.

But joy. Well, joy cannot be stolen. It exists simply because of Him. It is not a fleeting feeling that arrives in circumstance.

Joy is like believing. Joy is like faith. We choose to rest in it.

Today is wild adventure. It's mourning a loss. It's missing out and licking wounds. It's friendship and comfort and creativity. It's hello and good-bye.

Joy is my constant today. I only need to know where to look for it.

Linking today with Lisa-Jo
Five Minute Friday

Monday, March 17, 2014

Silencing Your Inner Critic

Totally unlike me I forgot to pay three bills last week. And it didn't dawn on me until Tuesday.

My initial response was surprise, "What? Did I really forget that?"

Followed by justification, "Well, last week was a crazy week."

But eventually it came to rest at irritation and criticism, "How could you have forgotten that? What a dumby!"

That last phrase was actually hard for me to type. Did I really say that to myself?

Yes, out loud, over and over again as I wrote out the checks in a panicked rush to the mailbox.

Sometimes the inner critic slips out into the open. Her words ringing in my ears long after the moment has passed.

My counselor catches me repeating the labels. She's one of the first people who has ever held me accountable for them.

Maybe it's because I'm good at hiding it. I plaster on a smile while I internally harass myself.

It becomes so typical, so habitual that you may not even realize you're doing it. The problem is that what you say to yourself is a response to what you believe about yourself.

When your self-worth is neglected your inner critic becomes an enemy, an abuser, and the author of the fiction you are writing about yourself and relationships.

I know it's time to hush the critic. It's time to kick her to the curb. Because she's out of line and I've given her so much power she drowns everything else out.

I believe the truth is inside of me. I can discern what I know to be true from lies, most of the time.

Let's do this! But how?

Catch her in the act. Your inner critic has been harassing you for years, but maybe you've never stopped and listened for her. Recognizing her voice and her critical comments is key to silencing her.

See her as a bully. Your inner critic is not kind to you. In fact, she likes to use labels, guilt, and shame to push you around. In the emotion of the moment, I believed her offensive notions about me — silly, dumb, unacceptable. Seeing her as a bully spouting lies is an important step to being free of her.

Confront her with truth. Your inner critic needs your support to thrive. The best antidote to her lies is truth. You don't necessarily have to know what the truth is to poke holes in her verbal assaults. I may not necessarily be able to claim wholeheartedly that I am valuable (yet), but I can stand up for myself when she tries to tell me that I don't matter.

A little something about truth: Truth is true whether you believe it or not. (Think about that for a minute.) Like a lawyer, you have the power to prove or disprove the inner critic. The inner critic tends to exaggerate.

For example: She may tell you that you're a failure because you forgot to pay your electric bill on time. Truth is: I'm not perfect. It was a mistake. I didn't do it on purpose. The worst consequence may be paying a late fee.

Forgetting to pay a bill isn't the end of the world and it doesn't mean you suck as a human being (even if the inner critic tries to convince you otherwise).

Treat yourself the way other's want to be treated. Sounds kind of backwards, but I would never speak to another human being the way I allow my inner critic to speak to me. If the words you say to yourself aren't kind, loving, and full of grace then you're allowing your inner critic to reign. And she's got to go!

Like most things, silencing your inner critic is a process. It might be helpful to find a loving friend or spouse who can help spot the inner critic when she surfaces and even speak a bit of truth to help drown out the lies.

I forgot to pay three bills last week. And I'm still valued, accepted, and loved.

Linking with:

the Soli Deo Gloria girls,

Holley Gerth (today's Coffee for Your Heartand Jennifer Dukes Lee & the Tell His Story link-up:

Friday, March 14, 2014

Freedom From the Crowd (a five minute friday)

My Five Minute Friday on: Crowd

I remember well the allure of the crowd. Didn't matter what they stood behind, popularity, common interests, even God. There was a certain amount of comfort in knowing you belonged somewhere.

But somewhere in the crowd you lose a part of yourself. You either go along or you're left out. It doesn't take long to blend into the one of many.

There's a hope I have for my kids — that they will find "their" people, but also find themselves. That they will add their voices to a cause and believe in something and make a difference, but have the confidence to be who they are (and know that's okay).

It's a balance I'm still trying to figure out. In a culture where there's no "i" in team and conformity means you "fit in." Some days it's a battle to accept the path God is leading you on without looking back, without caring where anyone else is or what they are doing.

If I surrender myself to the crowd, because I want to feel like I matter, then I also surrender me — the quirks, the broken parts and all the special things that make me, well, me.

These days my heart betrays me — how easy I'm swayed by people and my desire to be loved and accepted. How much I long to be a part…of something. To have purpose and to be seen.

This is my journey. A challenge to step away from the crowd. To be okay walking my own path. Just me and God and whoever He brings in and out of my story.

I'm tasting the freedom and the blessings of this shift in focus. Daring to step out of the crowd is risky, but it's quieter here.

And in the quiet, I'm starting to hear His voice again.

Linking today with Lisa-Jo
Five Minute Friday

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Be Loved

Be loved.

Seems simple enough.

But is it?

These words have hung next to my bed for the past year and a half and I have wrestled with their meaning.

How do you "be loved" exactly?

I feel like a walking contradiction. On one hand, I find myself chasing down love and acceptance and approval from others. But when I get it, I reject it because I deep down don't believe I'm worthy of it.

My past informs me, my present believes it — the lie of not ____________ enough.

It's futile and exhausting.

This girl, who wonders if love is earned, who questions if people only value her for what she does and how well she does it.

Always the good girl, the yes girl, the rule follower, bending over backwards to stay in other's good graces.

It's painful and it has to stop.

There's a movement to identify and get rid of love idols. And the reason it resonates so strongly for me is I believe this is a universal issue. We all have things we are white-knuckle holding onto. And we are afraid to let them go.

Or perhaps, we're afraid to let something new in.

What if I just accepted that I am loved? What if I revel in it? Surrender to it?

What if "be loved" is an action I choose every day? A place that I can rest in, believe in, and trust.

Because I am loved…period. You don't need to know who I am or where I came from or what I do or don't do or how well I do it to know that I am loved, lovable, treasured, and cherished.

I have wondered if I was the only one who struggled with being loved. We were made for it, after all. But then I heard a song by Christa Wells, fittingly called, "Being Loved" (listen to the song here). And in it she sings:

"we are born unclothed/as we came, we will go/from the first, we are known/being loved is a hard thing to take/I will try, I will try"

So during a season when people are giving up things for Lent, I will join my friends at the Love Idol Movement and give up my need to prove to myself and others that I am loved and worthy of it.

And just be loved. I will try, I will try.

My name is Christy and I'm #preapproved by God.

Jennifer Dukes Lee has written a book called, "Love Idol" that examines our need for approval and affirmation from others. It exposes the idols we cling to and challenges us to, by any means possible, remove them, throw them across the room, smash them into teenie-tiny pieces. Because getting rid of our "love idols" helps us hear the Truth again and reconnects us with an unconditionally loving God who has already decided we are worthy, valuable, loved, treasured, and approved.

Read what Jennifer Dukes Lee & others are giving up at the Tell His Story link-up:
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