RSS

Search results for ‘circle’

When We’re in Pain: Keeping the Circle Small

When We're in Pain-Keeping the Circle SmallThe blog right before this one talked about opening ourselves up to more feedback in life. This one is more about the times when we need to keep our circle small.

I don’t know about you, but when I’m hurting, my circle of interaction suddenly shrinks to about five people outside my own immediate family. I think we’re all selective on purpose, during these moments, as a self-protection reflex, an instinct. I’m sure shelves of psychology reference books have been written about this very thing.

Part of the reason behind the shrinking circle is because others are often in their own very rough seasons and can’t really take on something else right now to help.

And that’s okay. We’ve all been there.

Another reason is because it can be difficult to be around people who aren’t tuning into our pain on any level. It can be beneficial to just put those relationships on hold until we regroup and come out of the gray clouds over us. They’re still our friends. They just might not know what to do in this particular situation. That’s okay too.

Sometimes our pain touches in too close to someone else’s pain, and they can’t be part of our inner circle for this reason—at least not in this exact moment. Grace, much grace for them. It’s okay to need some space in these situations. Our experiences can be used to help others, certainly, but if we are still in the throes of deep pain ourselves, it might be wise to not advise others until we’ve come out of it.

Then there are other folks who only really want to be around us for what we offer—not for what we need. That’s okay, too, but they are definitely not entering into the inner circle of “safe”—and really, it’s okay, because that’s not necessarily their goal. They don’t want to. Better we realize that up front. It’s all about expectations, and setting them correctly.

Neither should we let in, during these very sensitive times, those likely to remind us of our own failing (or the failing of one of our children) later.

Yup, not allowed in.

While we may find that our support group of prayer or bringing meals in a moment of sickness or sorrow may be larger than we realized, when we are either struggling with our own particular torment, or a loved one in pain or at risk, we tend to not want to share that with the world. We tend to keep it close, at least until the storm has passed.

Although people are well meaning and offer comfort in their own ways, there are also those tougher moments when someone might walk right up to us, see our tears ever on the edge and rigid tension in our face, and talk on and on about themselves in whatever mundane way or demand our audience over something we can’t really handle at the moment. And while they are not wrong—just maybe a little insensitive—it can make us want to run and hide, find the exit ramp and speed madly down it.

These are the things that overwhelm me personally when I’m in that place. One of my worst triggers is not feeling heard or understood. It also throws me into a panic if I think someone is coming to take from me when I am beyond depleted. I’d so much rather not be approached when I am in that place if the pain is going to blown past as if it is a figment of my imagination. That’s assuming, of course, the person is aware. Obviously, they are not accountable for what they do not know.

And it needs to be accepted.

We recently closed our shutters during a nine-month struggle getting one of the birds in our nest from mental unwellness to a better place of mental wholeness—or something approaching it. I walked around during those nine months tensing up so incredibly afraid of encountering people who wouldn’t “get it” because they hadn’t experienced anything like it yet (thank God!), wouldn’t offer grace, would probe unkindly, or would still want to take something from me in my weakness. My shoulders are still coming out of that tense posture, even now, months after the crisis. And I did run into those kinds of people. Definitely. And I had to draw my boundaries. But I found more grace along the path to soothe my wearied, battered soul—dear, trusted folks who loved me back to safety.

And really, it’s healthy to keep the circle smaller in those moments. Not only is our private stuff, well, private, but I find God calls a few people to help carry us in these times—not the masses. The masses often bring tangible provision, like meals during moments of sickness or for welcoming a new baby, but few will walk through each burden with us in our heaviest times. And that’s okay.

When We're In Pain- Keeping the Circle SmallAnd it may be different people each time. Sometimes it’s a family member or a different friend than the last situation. I love how God uses the people who are going to be able to give us what we need emotionally and offer good counsel at that moment in that particular struggle.

I don’t think we’re all meant to carry around all burdens at once. It would be too weighty. Only Christ could do that on the cross.

I need to also be okay with the idea that I am not always someone else’s answer or “circle person” as they walk through something difficult. I love it when I can be used in this way, but I certainly cannot meet every deep need out there. None of us can. That’s why listening for His guidance and leading is so important. It can overwhelm otherwise.

What do you think? Do you find this to be true?

More of our faith walk through personal struggles can be found in Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day.

*This blog has also been shared at any link highlighted here: Mom 2 Mom Monday Link-Up, Make a Difference Mondays, Pick Your Pin Tuesday, Women With Intention Wednesdays, Grace & Truth, A Little R & R, RaRa Link-Up, Me, Coffee & Jesus, Dance With Jesus, Blessing Counters, Coffee & Conversation, Saturday Soiree, Tell His Story, Find Stability, So Much at Home, Faith-Filled Fridays, Reflect His Love and Glory Link-Up, Bonbon ‘n Coffee Linkup, and Christian Mommy Blogger.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Unmasked: The Importance of Being Real

Unmasked_The Importance of Being RealProverbs 24:26, ESV
Whoever gives an honest answer kisses the lips.

In an attempt to encourage a very dear person in my life after a loss causing her complicated grief, I wrote the following:

A thousand times over I admire _______ for facing his demons and working to give back good, however flawed and imperfectly. I prefer this a thousand times over to people who won’t get real with each other and who want to pretend all is well when it is clearly not. Reading the obituary made me admire _______ for things I cannot admire others for in that same generation. I will take “real” any day over faking it. The latter is an exhausting way to live.

Jesus hung out with the humble like  ________ who knew they were messed up and needed Him. Those are my kinds of people.

My entire life I have been surrounded by people who feared being honest with and about themselves. Some of it may have been learned behavior, cultural norms at the time, and generational. The point of this article is not to lay blame.

Some of these people were in my church, my neighborhood, and my family. Some had significant influence over me. Some just passed through my life briefly. And like anyone else, I still meet people like this who, for whatever reason, are trapped inside themselves and hiding behind a façade.

We can argue that at any given point, all of us have a façade. Just look at social media, ha!! And sure, I’m going to be professional with a client and not let her know I just got my act together at 1 in the afternoon because I struggled to focus all day due to a concern over one of my kids. Maybe I showered for the first time in two days, my house is a wreck, and problems are dripping off every family member like a leaky faucet quicker than I can address them—if I even can. Yeah, not the time to share that, but that’s not what I’m referring to.

And, to be fair, at the other end of the spectrum are people like me who wear everything on our sleeves, consequently making more private people uncomfortable with our over-share at times. I get that. I really do. Private people are not wrong to be guarded or true to their nature.

The problem comes in when appearances Read the rest of this entry »

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Top 10 Ways to Sit with Someone in the Trenches

Top 10 Ways to Sit with Someone in the TrenchesSee that trench? It’s under major construction. There is heavy equipment escavating and doing repair work.

That can be scary, right? Everything tells us to keep away from the danger there. There are warning signs. We may get hurt.

But what if someone is stuck there for a while? How do we come alongside them so that they can eventually emerge repaired and restored?

A few weeks ago, I wrote the tiny portion of thoughts below. I knew it wasn’t edifying. I had the good sense not to put it on social media. (Points for self control!) But I was sore, raw, sleepless, hope-starved, and feeling very alone. It was challenging to talk to people in any light-hearted setting and make conversation.

See, as it should, life goes on for other people in the midst of our personal trials, but it took everything in me to give my conversational angst to God and restrain my tongue. If you are currently deep in the trenches of a crisis, illness, or despair of any kind, perhaps you can relate. I decided to include my thoughts (at the time) below in order to be fully disclosing, to demonstrate my own failures, but also to show you how real I feel it.

If this is you, please know: I GET YOU. This pretty much sums up my perspective whenever stuck in my personal trench:

I am usually an incredibly compassionate person willing to extend my ear and heart to almost anyone. (My kids may say the opposite, but as a mother, I’m wired to mix compassion with healthy boundaries.) I’m actually quite proud of that, as it is pretty consistent…as consistent as my flaws of impatience and low frustration tolerance can be. 

But sometimes we are in a season of full intensity, and our tolerance for other situations and needs is completely on “empty.” I am at that place most days right now. Do not tell me about your stubbed toe, or your kid getting a C on a test, or your trash dumped out on the street and the collectors never picked it up. I’m sorry to hear all that, but my pain filter is set on Extreme right now, so anything lower than Mediocre isn’t going to register.

And don’t give me your heaviness. It will literally crush me right now. I can’t encourage you, and it’s not my role. I can’t give back at the moment. If you can’t handle that, please walk away for a while.

And I hate that. I hate not being available. I hate not having the capacity to handle the mundane. I hate not listening and lending a hand. It’s not who I am. It’s unnatural to me.

But I was swirling in a vortex.

When I am not the one in pain, I likely do this to others. And I want to say right now:

I’m sorry. It feels like abandonment when other people’s lives go on, and I’m so sorry if I ever made you feel this way.

I’d like to think I won’t do it again, but I will forget once this crisis in my family is over. Maybe that’s a way for me to understand. Not everyone can live inside our circle of pain, and certainly not everyone is called to sit there and swirl with us.

The truth is: Read the rest of this entry »

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

To Those Who Go Unnoticed

To Those Who Go UnnoticedThis piece is deeply personal to me. I almost didn’t write it. But something that has been bubbling to the surface for a very long time erupted in me as I watched my high school daughter dance at her recital dress rehearsal. It was as if time stopped, and God said:

“I see, Bonnie. I see. You think nobody else does, but Ido. Now, you find a way to communicate that to her.”

And my strong, sometimes fierce, and always feisty self crumpled as I shakily held the iPhone camera to record what I could for family who could not make it to the recital. There was an inner tremble, a hurt child within me, that let go as I watched her glide across the stage with such grace to John Legend’s “If You’re Out There.”

The message of the song is about people coming together in the name of peace. That’s an awesome concept, for sure. But I saw a very quiet, non-attention-seeking young lady dance for the pure joy of it,

“if you’re out there” watching or not.

And it spoke to me in all the hollow places where as a parent I had watched her hurt for so long in several arenas after a very difficult year of poor health and adjusting to a big high school—after time and time again of having amazing character and compassion to offer, but feeling like a wallflower.

My dear sweet daughter, you are not a wallflower. People in your social circles may not know what you can do and what your many gifts are, Read the rest of this entry »

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Burdens in My Backyard

Burdens in My BackyardI took my dogs out a few days ago and noticed some flowers scattered at the foot of the homemade cross in my flower bed. They were sprinkled so carefully: a layer of white petals creating a bigger ring with a smaller circle of pink petals inside, almost hugging the cross.

I was so touched by that, wondering which child put that there, or, did a stranger happen by? That would be unlikely, but it still intrigued me. I guessed the wrong child. My daughter had “prettied up” my little memorial,

my sacrifice, 

my pledge, 

my prayer, 

my surrender. 

Something about it called her in, and she adorned the holy ground there. To me, it was pure worship, adoration of what the cross means to us.

It’s a curious story how the cross ended up there. It all started in my therapist’s office. Yes, I have a therapist. [Feel free to reference some family therapy sessions if you like. If you find them as intimidating as I do to all be in the same room together with the eagle eye of a professional, this might bring you some relief.]

We were processing some events in my life since my father’s passing, and she suggested, in order to move on from some of the wreckage around it, I have some kind of ceremony or visual display of truly giving those ongoing concerns to Christ. That’s when I thought of Good Friday, when my husband and I went up with almost everyone else in the church service to hammer our own particular burdens to the cross. I’ll never forget feeling his muscles exert force along with mine to give those things to Christ. It was so beautiful and worshipful to do this corporately.

But what about in my own backyard?

I decided to nail two twigs together, place them firmly in our flower bed by the back door, and write a note to Jesus.

My note was simple: Read the rest of this entry »

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Are the Bulls of Bashan Surrounding You?

Bulls of BashanShe came over to my house that afternoon trembling. Life had rocked her, and while she approached the finish line of a chapter of her life coming to an end, she was fearful. Who wouldn’t be? What if all the pieces God had helped her set into place suddenly were yanked away?

The fear was palpable. As I embraced her and held her hands, I could feel it. And so I prayed. There was no other peace I could offer than Jesus. My words were empty. I was rambling as usual, grasping at straws to bring comfort. But His words are always full, life-giving, and without end.

As I prayed, I reminded Christ of these words in His Holy Scripture:

 

2 Timothy 1:7, KJV

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

All I could do was remember His promise and speak it to her. I had no power of my own to take the spirit of fear away.

But I had the name of Jesus. And it was enough.

***************

Initial news of a diagnosis had come in. It sucker-punched

Read the rest of this entry »

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

When You Can’t Force Conflict Resolution

When You Can't Force Conflict ResolutionWhen there is relational conflict, is waiting a copout?

I would say that sometimes it can be, but there comes a point where we have to realize that even if we’re ready to move forward and heal with someone, we can’t force healing and readiness in others.

************************

I sat across from her pleading with my heart and eyes to offer me a different answer. She could not. She confirmed what I had been hearing from God in my prayer time:

Wait.”

Me: “I want to, but I can’t offer peace in this situation.”

Person offering me counsel: “Why do you think that is?”

Me: “Because I didn’t take it away in the first place. My actions did not cause any of it. They need to seek peace through and with Christ. Until they surrender that, I cannot offer what they seek, and I don’t want to go ahead of what God wants to do in each person’s heart. Besides, I would only screw it up since I do not have His peace to act on this right now.”

Person offering me counsel: “Then that’s your answer. You’ve prayed. You’ve sought godly counsel. You’ve daily surrendered this. You are so right to not go ahead of the LORD. He cannot be rushed.”

And that settled it in my heart—what, in many ways, I already knew:

While the reassurance came from another Christian, I needed to check myself with God. God would not Read the rest of this entry »

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Top 10 Healthy Ways I Am Grieving

Top 10 Healthy Ways I Am GrievingMy father recently passed away, and while I knew it was heading in that direction and he certainly had fought a good fight against what turned out to be seven cancers over 30-some-odd years, there was more to grieve than just his death. Death has a way of putting what is unhealthy under a microscope and forcing it up to our eyeballs to view it whether we wish to take a close look at it—or not.

If you are grieving a person, a relationship loss, or even a shift in the plans you had for your life, some of these may work for you. I am not an expert on grief. I share this as a layperson going through the motions in real time.

10. Color!

Say what? Huh? My therapist handed me an adult coloring book. If you need one, here are some examples at my friend Mary’s site (which is fun to check out anyway): inspiredbooksguide.com. Some similar books can be found at Walmart for $5. I spent the holidays coloring through visits with family, a funeral trip, and some relationship dynamics.

I almost laughed out loud when my therapist recommended coloring, but I gave it a try, and I have to admit: It is so grounding. I often pray as I color. It causes me to be still, so I can hear and not just talk when I pray. I use twistable colored pencils so I don’t have to keep sharpening.

I even color through my children arguing! We all have to usher the peace in any way that we can, right?

9. Rest, Be

As Dad was passing and even afterward, I found it difficult to focus. Everything moved in slow motion. The rest of the world seemed to be moving at a swift pace while meanwhile I floundered between stunned and weary. I gave myself permission to go to bed earlier, whenever possible, and to catch a catnap here and there.

I also expected less out of myself for a while. I didn’t want my days to be spent escaping between the covers, which can be its own red flag after a while, but I also didn’t try to take on the world. I lowered my expectations for each day and focused on the few things that had to be accomplished, like feeding and driving family members to activities. I didn’t write a lot or even keep my blog marketing schedule going.

One of my favorite songs is “Be Still” by Selah. I needed someone to record this concept for me because I am usually resistant to Be Still. I have been attempting to get to know Be Still for a while now. Read the rest of this entry »

 
20 Comments

Posted by on January 21, 2016 in Grief and Loss, Ministry Moments

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Someone Else’s Courtroom: How Exactly Did I Get Here?

Someone Else's Courtroom-How Exactly Did I Get HereLately I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed by people stepping across boundaries into each other’s lives where they may not belong. Ever feel that way? Sometimes, they are my own toes being stepped on, but often, I am merely witness to someone landing in another person’s courtroom without realizing it.

How did we become so good at grabbing the judge’s gavel and slamming it around?

I’m not talking about expressing public opinion on social, political, or spiritual issues. I’m referring to people jumping into our marriages, parenting, and family business without receiving an invite.

You know those little comments made half in jest or with a veil of concern? The ones that really have nothing behind them other than that person’s different standard, unsolicited opinion, or insecurity? It can look like this:

Read the rest of this entry »

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Texting: Can We Raise Our Kids From a Posture of Fear?

IMG_6308

About a year ago, I had a discussion with Kid 2 (then age 10) about internet safety. Computer use at home is always in our line of sight, and really, only certain sites are approved by us. Searches need to be educational in purpose and have our okay and assistance. But it’s a good reminder what awful stuff awaits out there and why we have to guard our minds and eyes. It’s not really a very safe place out there. “Stay on the sidewalks I draw for you, Child, so you don’t get hurt. If you step off, I can’t protect you, and there’s no turning back or erasing that kind of scariness or darkness from your mind.”

In the meantime, I had a very conscientious and caring parent in my circle of friends raise an interesting question recently about navigating the texting world with our teens and tweens, and I feel it is such a valid concern so many parents of teens—and nowadays tweens—face, I wanted to discuss it blog-style.

People may disagree with me, and that’s okay, but I feel like the world of texting is actually an open garden of practicing social responsibility as well as building trust with my children, when done correctly (and at the right ages—the “right” age being something we parents may differ on). My oldest has had an iTouch since Christmas of his 6th grade year. He isn’t a phone talker (which I celebrate, since I’m not either), and he isn’t much into emailing, but the quick text-fests he and his friends occasionally engage in offer a space where he can practice so many things.

(As a side note, we agreed to him getting the highest-memory iPod Touch he could get at the time because he would use the memory for his deep love of music and a few apps, but only if he saved and paid half of it himself. That was about a year or more of saving. Paying for half made us feel more justified in using the iTouch as leverage the few times we needed to, and it also got across the greater message that while he saved up and persevered to earn something, during the time that he continues to live with us and be otherwise provided for, nothing that expensive is so much in his ownership that we can’t remove it when the attitude needs adjustment. And as a result, we have rarely had to remove it. He understands that while he alone uses it, it’s still only half his. We stumbled upon this concept by trial/error in our parenting. It worked with the iTouch anyway.)

My kids know that when they text or email:

1.) They need to write it as if all parents are watching, and in most cases—we all are.
2.) In general, photos of people should not be sent, at least not without me reviewing it first and only on very rare occasion.
3.) Content needs to be edifying.
4.) Conversation needs to be pure.
5.) It’s not a place to share confidences/secrets.
6.) We, parents, have all passwords and can check at any point to see what the conversation is about.

I would never embarrass my child by referring to it to anyone else, but I do reserve the right to spot-check.

I am not afraid of letting him text because, if I’m committed to spot-checking it, it more or less creates an open window into his world: What are they talking about? thinking about? paying attention to?

They learn:

–Self-control and restraint
–Time management
–How to better communicate and be understood in written/typed word
–Where the dangers are

So, I choose not to parent from a posture of fear on this one—caution and monitoring: yes, but fear: no. I choose to roll with the latest technology and put up the right safeguards and lessons to make it another place to teach my children. I don’t love everything about it, but there is good to be gleaned from it, if we’re deliberate in our parenting.

That said, sometimes we have a child who is more defiant and strong-willed. Sometimes we have to pull the rug out on his/her communication until he/she is more respectful. I call that boundary-parenting and good discipline, and not fear-based. Fear-based parenting* says everything is scary and needs our handholding through it, to the point we can’t let go, and we miss the chance to have our kids learn greater independence and responsibility.

And let me end by saying that handing a 10 year old a texting device is completely different than giving one to a 13 year old; obviously, there would have to be more structure and monitoring to go with the younger ages. No judgment on anyone else whatsoever, but in our house, my kids have to be almost 12 before any texting device becomes part of their world, and any emailing before 12 has to be approved by me before it gets sent. But if you have a younger peep with a device like that, then I of course support more structure, rules, and checking. It’s not about the age, so much, as it is about how willing are you to be on top of it? I personally wasn’t willing to “go there” until they were on the edge of teen and until they had navigated enough in-person social conflict to manage digital communication as an extension of that—an additional challenge.

To me, the scariest thing about texting isn’t the device in my own kid’s hand; it’s the unmonitored device in the hands of another. Like anything else, all I can do is teach them how to avoid pitfalls, be wise, protect themselves the best that they can, and tend to their own character.

Even if your rules are different than mine, what has worked for you on this issue? 

*Great references for fear-based versus grace-based parenting can be found below:

Kimmel, Tim. Grace-Based Parenting: Set Your Family Free. Nashville, TN.: W Pub. Group, 2004.

Chip Ingram is a wonderful resource for parenting in this new high-technology age and can be found at:
http://livingontheedge.org

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: