Be Uncomfortable

Have you ever noticed how little we share our problems openly?  Are we afraid of judgment?  Are we too prideful to admit we have struggled?  Is it that we are embarrassed and want to hide? 

Whatever the reason, WE NEED TO STOP!   In fact, I dare say that we should be okay with being 'uncomfortable' because that is where we will comfort those who need us most. 


Several years ago I was giving a talk in church and I kept feeling prompted to talk about several things that were VERY UNCOMFORTABLE.  One of those experiences was my adoption experience and the other was (and still is) something that still makes me squirm when I talk about it.  In fact, as I am writing this I am hesitant to even mention it… but here it goes.  I struggled with cutting/self-harm all through my life. [Note:  I haven't done it for many years but I would be lying if I said that the thought doesn't creep into my mind when I am going through something particularly difficult to deal with emotionally].


So here I was… getting the feeling to talk about something that the world doesn't understand and makes everyone uncomfortable to talk about it.  I told my mom my prompting… and she looked at me horrified and said "Well, maybe you can share that in your area but I don't think it would go over so well in mine".  OH-KAY… Now I'm more uncomfortable talking about it.  


The big day arrived and I had decided that I would give a 'general' experience and NOT tell them that it was about me.  But as I was standing in front of that room something happened… I found myself telling the stories in FIRST person.  Yep, I told them it was me.  


After my talk I was standing around talking to a couple of friends and in the background was a woman I had never seen before.  She was dressed in a lot of black and had sadness in her eyes.  I could feel that she wanted to talk to me alone.  I finally wiggled away from the others and the first thing she said was "I can relate" and then she lifted up the sleeve of her shirt to expose bloody gashes up and down her arm.  We then talked for a few minutes about it and she expressed that she was getting help but that she really appreciated me talking about it.  


My dear friends, let's BE UNCOMFORTABLE together.  As we open up and share things from our past, we will be exposed… but we will also allow others to find solace in knowing they are not alone in their challenges.  


Now I also want to give you a warning… you will get strange looks.  Some people will NOT know how to handle it.  And you might even hear rude comments from people who are extremely uncomfortable with your topic… but please know – that is THEIR issue, not yours.  I cannot even begin to tell you all of the times I got a strange reaction, or silence, or weird comments.  It is part of the process and hopefully they will someday learn to be uncomfortable, too, but if they don't – we shouldn't judge them but just let their reactions fall by the wayside as we continue on our path of helping others.  


A couple of years ago I was struggling with opening up about things in my past.  I had gotten some strange reactions from people and desperately wanted to stop sharing.  I sat down and prayed.  I asked God "WHY do I need to share these uncomfortable things?  Why? "  These words enter my mind:


"This experience is no longer yours"

"Okay, Father.  Let me see if I understand" I said. 

I flipped through the questions. 

"If it's no longer mine… then whose is it?" 

Answers filled my mind.

"Ahh… I get it.  I've gained all I can from this experience and now it will be used benefit someone else. Right?"



What do you think?  Can you do this with me?  Let's be exposed and fearless.  Let's reach out to those that are silently suffering and feeling alone. 



Have you felt the need to share some uncomfortable experiences?  How did it feel?  What are your reactions after hearing someone share a painful experience?  Do you judge them or feel closer to them?

Destination Happiness

You cannot ARRIVE at happiness. It is not a destination you reach and then stay there. Sometimes the choice to be happy is easy… but sometimes it is very, very hard. I was looking around at some of the patterns we put ourselves in that make us miserable and I realized some things about myself and others that I wish we could all do to prevent us from entering those dark places in our lives.
Here is what I see…
The pattern of being a victim: This is when you become very comfortable in this role – not that you LIKE this role, but it is something that keeps repeating itself and you feel like it happens to a lot.  Words that might be used are “Why does this always happen to me?”

The pattern of being self-absorbed:  This is when you think and act as if everything and everyone around you is either to serve you and if it doesn’t, then you don’t care (or even think about it or them) and you wish it would disapear from your life.  You could get irritated if things do not go exactly as you want.

The pattern of a dreamer:  This is when you place your happiness (or future happiness) on things that ‘could’ happen in the future.  Some of the comments might be “When I move into my new house, everything will be better”  “When I have more money, all my problems will be over”  “Someday, when…I will be happy”.

The pattern of a complainer:  This is when you never enjoy the moment at hand. You could constantly be in a state of criticism.  You might not even do anything to change the situation, just complain about it.  You might hear “I wish that person would do things differently”  “This is just horrible.  I can’t believe this is the way things are done around here”

The pattern of a martyr: This is when you view a situation as something out of your control when in reality you are creating the horrible situations in your life and you sit and feel sorry for yourself because of how bad things are.  That negative experience in your life, probably wouldn’t exist if you didn’t subconciously keep it alive.  Possibly you react to others in a certain way that encourages them to behave negatively towards you… but then you mope around afterward.

Do any of these patterns sound familiar?

I know that I have experienced all of them at one time or another.  Now that I have recognized the patters, I want to share what I have learned with you.

1. CHOOSE to be happy in whatever circumstances you are in.  Happiness comes when you choose a peaceful, forgiving, joyful, grateful, and loving thought instead of focusing on the negativity in the world around you. It is based on the choices you make each moment – NO MATTER HOW HARD – that will keep you in a joyful place. Only then will you be able to feel true happiness… even in the midst of pain.

2. KNOW that you are loved… and you are a child of God (which means he loves you no matter what and you are destined for greatness)

3. TRUST in the process of life. Believe that all things have a purpose and that in the end, it will always work out.

4. SEE the good in all things. Hidden inside each experience are great blessings. And yes, that even means the most horrible things that happen to us. We must look for the good in order to see it.

5. FORGIVE everyone and everything. By holding on to the pain, you are only hurting yourself more. (Forgiving does not mean trusting so if you are in a dangerous relationship – please protect yourself – but still choose to forgive them)

6. LIVE in the moment. Seize the opportunity that comes each second to be ‘in the present’. You will find new joy as you experience things on a more conscious level… you will truly see the people around you, you will enjoy your experiences completely, and you will feel peaceful, content, and happy.

7. LOVE the world around you. Love the earth… love your friends… love your family… love yourself. Miracles happen every day when there is love.

Although you cannot ‘arrive’ at happiness (and stay there permanently without any effort)… I promise you that as you apply these principles, you will feel joy like never before and it will be pretty darn close to actually arriving at “DESTINATION HAPPINESS”  🙂

When Choosing is Hard

As you may know, I have been working on a book (actually 3 that build upon one another). I felt such divine inspiration for these books and then a couple months ago the inspiration just sort of halted. I kept moving forward and making a little progress but nothing was coming out right.

I have also been having a few family and financial struggles that have been a bit overwhelming. Feelings of failure and inadequacy keep creeping into my heart and mind. I’ll shake them off for a while but they keep coming back.

So I pray… I pray for help, guidance, strength, confirmation, comfort, miracles… and nothing. I have faith that everything will work out the way it should and in the time that God wants it to. I turn to the scriptures for guidance:

“Whatsoever thing ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is good, in faith believing that ye shall receive, behold, it shall be done unto you”

“Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?”

“…faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.”

I keep having faith… and keep having faith… and keep praying… and keep praying… and nothing – not even peace and comfort.

I have felt abandoned and ignored. Depression and hopelessness has started to creep in – feelings that I have not felt to this extreme in years. It has felt like someone is screaming in my face “Give up” “Who do you think you are?” “You can’t do it” “You are failing at everything” “No one wants to hear what you have to say” “Everyone else is loved in this world – but not you”

Last night was one of the worst. We live with my father and in the basement there is a room that we use for a playroom with all of the kid’s toys in it. Well, my brother is coming home from his mission and that is going to be his room. So we are deep cleaning all of the bedrooms and purging all the things we don’t use to make room for the things from the basement. Plus, my mom has been decorating for Christmas (which is HUGE and very messy) so there are little pine needles and other stuff ALL over the carpet. The carpet cleaners were going to come the next day, which was also my daughter’s birthday, and I was completely stressed. It was physically impossible for me to do all the things I would need to in time. I got frustrated and stomped out of the house barefoot and sat in the car.

I started to cry (more like wail) and pray. Admittedly, it wasn’t a nice prayer. I was hurt and angry and I felt alone. I asked things like “Why have I been left alone?” “Why are you not answering me?” “Do you love me? “Do you even care?” I was angry. I had been trying to do EVERYTHING God wanted me to do, so why have I been ignored?

I finally calmed down and went inside. I showered and put the kids to bed. I grabbed my scriptures (trying to find some peace or at least an answer) but nothing really stood out. I listened to my Ipod trying to find music to uplift me. Nothing was really answering my prayer. I turned out the lights, hopped in bed, and put my earphones back in so I could listen to relaxing music to put me to sleep.

All of a sudden, my Ipod skipped. It was strange because it skipped to something completely unrelated to what I was listening to. Even when I looked at the playlist that was still showing, that song was NOT on it. This was so strange, that I decided to listen to see what it said. Here are the words to that song:

Because I Love You
I got your letter [however, in my mind I heard prayer]
From the postman just the other day
So I decided to write you this song
Just to let you know
Exactly the way I feel
To let you know my love’s for real

Because I love you
And I’ll do anything
I’ll give you my heart, my everything
Because I love you
I’ll be right by your side
To be your light, to be your guide

If you should feel
That I don’t really care
And that you’re starting to lose ground
Just let me reassure you
That you can count on me
And that I’ll always be around

Because I love you
My heart’s an open door
…Won’t you please come on in
Because I love you
I’ll be right by your side
To be your light, to be your guide
Because I love you
I’ll be right by your side
To be your light, to be your guide

Waves of love started to pour upon me. Tears flowed from eyes and I knew that God did care, and I was not alone, and that he loved ME very much.

Because I’m Beautiful

Several years ago as I was healing from depression I learned a valuable lesson.

One particular day, I was having a really tough time. I felt ugly and unloved and I wanted to just crawl into a hole and never come out. I didn’t want the world to see me. Well, I went into the bathroom and saw myself in the mirror. This was at a time that I was learning how to talk to myself nicely – so I stopped mid-self-deprecating-thought and tried to tell myself how beautiful I was.

Here is the tricky part – I WAS not beautiful at that moment!! So telling myself these things was really hard to do. I was still in my sweat pants, my hair was a mess, yesterday’s make-up was smeared under my eyes, my shirt was tight around my unflattering mid-section (it was shortly after having a baby – so it was even worse than normal), and I didn’t have much to go on for the ‘you are beautiful’ comments.

I started to think about all of God’s creations. He makes them beautiful. In fact, in the Bible I remember reading that he wanted Adam and Eve to care for all the earth. God wanted them (and us) to care for things on the Earth and BEAUTIFY them. This brings God joy.

It reminded me of a rose bush. Roses are already beautiful, just like God designed. However, if they are left uncared for they can get a little out of hand and the thorny branches start growing in every direction. If the branches are pruned and shaped – then even more beautiful roses grow and the bush reaches a potential that it wasn’t able to without the grooming process.

I relate this to us. We are already beautiful. However, if we do not care for ourselves and take a moment to beautify ourselves we will not live up to our truly beautiful potential.

Now I am not saying that we should all go get plastic surgery and wear 2 tons of makeup to try to make us perfect… But what I am trying to say is that IF YOU LOVE SOMETHING – YOU TAKE GOOD CARE OF IT. I love my children so I do not neglect their needs. I love my home so I do not let it take care of itself. I love my husband so I serve him where I can.

So here is what I have discovered about making this promise to myself and I have been suprised at the effect it has had on my life

– It has helped with my self confidence. When I do not feel embarrassed or self conscience, it helps to hold my head up high

– It has helped my feelings of self worth. When I view myself as a beautiful creation of God and by taking care of this gift God has given me, I can’t help but love myself more.

– It has helped me with depression! In fact, I noticed that on the days where I am really busy or just don’t feel like getting ready for the day (because I occassionally still do that), I have a tendency to feel a little more stressed or hopeless than on the other days. I have found that on these days, it helps to stop what I’m doing and
Go to my room.
Get dressed.
Do my hair. (even if it is just brushed into a nicer pony tail)
Brush my teeth.
Apply makeup or add lipstick.
Put on some good smelling lotion and deodorant.
And I feel like a ‘new’ lady!!

I did not truly realize the effect this had on my life until a couple of weeks ago while I was at a book retreat with 5 other ladies. It was afternoon and we were about to eat lunch. I had gone upstairs to get ready (basically what I described above) and when I came down all of them said “Wow! Where are you going?” I replied by saying “Sorry, but I didn’t do this for you… I did it for myself.” I had been having kind of a bummer of a day and couldn’t shake my negativity and it wasn’t UNTIL I beautified my outsides that I was able to lift my spirits.

I am a firm believer that our physical and spiritual bodies are intricately combined. We must take care of BOTH of them. I am very grateful for this understanding… it has greatly blessed my life.