Today, I’m met with strong emotional strife over some hard realities in my life. I’m reminded that Jesus was clear to us in His Word that we WILL face troubles. Jesus declares in John 16:33 (from the Bible) that we WILL face trouble in this world. He doesn’t say “You MAY face troubles” or “You COULD face troubles.” He said “You WILL face trouble.”
Not a promise I like being reminded of. We WILL face pain, sorrow, heartache, conflict, loss, confusion, abuse, ridicule, discrimination… It seems that list could go on for days and days.
Thankfully, He didn’t leave us to face the trials and sadness on our own. After He bore the weight of the world on his own shoulders and died, He was resurrected on the Third Day. He overcame the world. Death could not defeat him. The grave could not hold Him. And He tells ME to take heart because of this. And He tells YOU to take heart because of this.
THAT is the promise I’m clinging to today.
Days like today, when the lies that aim to bring me down and destroy me are swirling in my head and trying to wreak havoc on my body, I have to CHOOSE to stand firm in truth. Instead of dropping my daughter off at school and coming home to crawl back in bed and hide, I reached out to a friend who lovingly opened her home to me and my son for a visit. Instead of staying isolated, I reached out to dear friends to pray for me and with me. Instead of aimlessly avoiding or covering up my pain with food, social media or sleep, I sat down to immerse myself in TRUTH: both the Biblical truth of the Word + the emotional truths from my therapist and Life Skills class.
It’s so easy to sit in shame and fear, isn’t it? But the wise studier of shame, Brené Brown, warns us:
“Shame corrodes the very part of us that believes we are capable of change.”
Do you struggle with that, dear one? Do you struggle to believe you are CAPABLE of change because of the shame you carry?
I did. Before embracing the help of a gifted therapist and the transforming information I learned in Life Skills, I was convinced I was “un-fixable” “forever broken” “incapable of being fully accepted and fully loved” and the list went on and on.
I know firsthand the pain that comes from shame. It literally eats you alive. It sucks the joy right out of every situation. But dear one, THIS IS NOT HOW IT HAS TO BE. You do not have to stay in your shame. There is a way off of the roller coaster.
And the way off the roller coaster? Choose to get off.
I know that sounds trite. And some of us, ok, most of us, are not ready or able to take that step on our own. It’s too familiar and oddly comfortable to stay on than to CHOOSE to get off.
Trust me, I’ve been there. I didn’t believe I had an ounce of control over my feelings and the actions that followed. But the truth is, I do. I just had to LEARN to make CHOICES. I had to learn how to reclaim control of how I felt and come to the stark reality that NO ONE MAKES ME DO ANYTHING. I chose my feelings. I chose my actions.
That reality hurts.
But embracing the truth is what set me free. And it can set you free too.
The truth is, we DO have control of our choices. And even if we don’t yet know HOW to make better choices, we can LEARN how to. That takes two things: awareness and humility.
If you are unwilling to admit you have an area of growth you need help in, things won’t change. Things will remain unhealthy and toxic:
- Relationships will continue to be strained.
- Your self esteem will remain in the dumps.
- The anger that spews out of you in unawareness of your true feelings will continue to distance you from the happier and healthier life you dream of.
BUT, if you can press beyond your pride or self-doubt, with the HELP of a trusted friend, pastor, counselor, therapist… YOU CAN EXPERIENCE CHANGE. Not that who you are intrinsically needs to change: Your worth, value and personality are God-given and unchangeable. But HOW you interact with your feelings can change. And therefore, your personal health (emotionally, physically and spiritually) can be enriched.
- Your relationships can become healthier and more fulfilling.
- Your dreams can become realities because you’ve learned to embrace responsibility for your actions and have reclaimed control of your feelings.
It may not seem like it, but THE COMMAND CENTER FOR YOUR FEELINGS DETERMINES THE COURSE OF YOUR LIFE.
If your feelings control you, your life will reflect dysfunction and chaos. But if you have control over your feelings, your life will reflect balance and perseverance.
Now, let me be clear. No one has “arrived”. No one has all their ducks in a row. No one is living a perfect life unblemished by poor decisions, either their own or those of someone of influence to them. No one.
But EVERYONE is capable of making choices. We make them every day. But when it comes to our emotions, most of us need significant training in the learning how to make healthy choices. Many of us are stuck and continue making the same poor choices that lead to the same pain day after day. It does not have to stay this way.
Life Skills, for me, was like boot camp. It kicked my butt. It brought me into painful realities that I did not want to sit in. But it changed my life. It helped me reclaim power over an area I was always intended to have power over, not the other way around. Grounded in Biblical truth, this class coached me through un-learning unhealthy behaviors and replacing them with healthy behaviors. It empowered me with tangible tools to break up with the lies I had believed and embraced for so long. And the truths I was learning were reinforced over and over and over again.
And today, I have a huge binder filled with these truths. And I sat down and re-read them. Because I needed to be reminded. I have choices. I can make choices. Even when they’re hard choices.
‘A student is not above his teacher. But everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher.”
On this earth, I will not enjoy the perfection of a pain-free or conflict-free life. But I know the One holds the keys to that life. I know the One who gave up his place in the heavenly realms and all its glory to put on human flesh in order to bridge the gap between heaven and earth.
Jesus Christ, in and of Himself, is pure Perfection. And He is my Teacher, my Rabi. And He has equipped others to be teachers so that students like me can learn His ways and hear His truth. And as I sit under His teachings and His truth, I will learn His ways and in turn become a teacher to someone else.
This is the beauty of being a student. Being someone who is willing to see they don’t have all the answers, they’re not always right and they don’t know everything. Being someone who chooses to be trained in the ways of life and freedom, rather than staying bound up in the chains of shame.
Dear one, today, you can make that choice.
You can choose to embrace a healthier way of life. You can choose to become a student of truth instead of continually being torn down by lies. You can choose to learn ways to reclaim control of your emotions and set a new course for your life.
Close your eyes and imagine what you want your life to look like a year from now.
- How do you feel about yourself?
- How are your relationships?
- What is your career and how are you feeling in it?
Now imagine what your life COULD look like if you embraced the role of becoming a student?
- Imagine the areas of your life that could be enriched through sitting under the teaching of a trained specialist, a trusted counselor or a local pastor?
- Imagine how healthy your self-image and relationships could be.
- Imagine tipping the scales from shame to freedom.
- Imagine the joy and pride you could feel from living an emotionally healthy life.
Now make your choice. Because it’s yours and yours alone to make.