Unbury

Yesterday we started our conversation about feeling overwhelmed. Today we are going to address the first definition of the word: 1. To bury or drown beneath a huge mass.

When I admit to feeling overwhelmed by my life, I am essentially saying that I am living in a grave. The weight of the dirt changes in various seasons of life, but chances are, you know what I’m talking about.

I don’t think we are supposed to feel this way. I know we’re not supposed to live this way.

Did you know that unbury is a word? I’ve never used it before. It means to remove (something) from under the ground. Friday morning I felt as though I finally came above ground. My to do list was just as long as it had been on Thursday. The items that had brought me to tears on Wednesday night still needed to be tackled. So what changed?

I learned some simple steps to getting unburied.

Step #1. Talk to yourself!

My pastor quoted D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones on Sunday. This is a good one.

jones

We spend so much time listening to our worries and fears. I how tempting it can be to dwell on your problems the moment your eyes open in the morning. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones is suggesting that we instead start the day by dwelling on our joys.

 

Step #2. Claim truth!

On Friday morning I woke up, poured my cup of coffee and sat at the kitchen table. Even though I wanted to rush to shower or jump straight into my never-ending task list, I instead pulled out my Bible and journal. My daughter rocked contentedly in her chair (for a brief moment!) and I started by reciting the verse that kept coming to mind.

From the end of the earth I will cry to You,
When my heart is overwhelmed;
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I. (Psalm 61:2, NKJV)

I could feel those items on my list wanting to bury me, so I started saying the verse aloud. Over and over I repeated those words from Psalm 61 until I began to picture myself being led to a higher rock. I needed a visual picture. This time last year we were visiting Ireland. Gorgeous, green, the island was a perfect break from the desert heat. We spent many days hiking in craggy rocks. Those rocks are what I pictured on Friday morning.

 

rocks

 

Step #3. Admit your feelings in prayer.

I knew what was making me feel overwhelmed, so I listed everything out in my journal. Then, one by one, I listed everything in prayer.

Lord, I cannot write all of these posts without you. Lead me to the rock that is higher …

Lord, I cannot figure out how to balance all of my roles right now. Please lead me to the rock that is higher …

Father, I don’t know how to make this decision. Lead me to the rock that is higher …

With each prayer spoken it felt as though layers of dirt were being pulled off of me. The burden was lighter every time I admitted I did not have the answer, the stamina, or the wisdom to face this day.

 

Step #4. Focus on this day.

The moment I let my brain dive into everything I have to do in October, the overwhelmed spiral would begin again. One of my favorite verses, 1 Timothy 1:12, says … “I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.” 

God is faithful to give me the strength for right now. Don’t let the worries of tomorrow affect your mindset today. Remind yourself that God is able to guard what you entrust to Him today.

 

Step #5. Get vulnerable.

Wednesday night our small group convened at our house. We all went around the room sharing our stories from the summer. We hadn’t convened since early June and a lot of life change has taken place. When it was my turn I started crying. Gah. Not my favorite thing to do. I used the key word: overwhelmed. I tried to convey that I am so thankful, blessed, and grateful for this season of life, but that I just don’t know how to structure my days so that I can be both mom, wife, blogger, friend, and now author.

Had I not shared on Wednesday night, I would not have received the texts, e-mails, and phone calls that so encouraged me on Friday. The Lord knew exactly when to send in reinforcements. When we are willing to get real, others respond in turn.

So that’s the short initial list that has been guiding my new outlook. Instead of letting myself get buried by emotions and fears, I’m choosing to be active in my unburial. Who knows if that’s a word?

 

Following and learning,

Ginger

Loop

Have you recently stopped to consider the conversation that plays in your mind on a regular basis?

I’ve been memorizing Psalm 139 throughout my pregnancy and verse 23 just happens to be my verse for the week. After sharing thoughts about meditation yesterday, this verse could not be more timely. Here’s what it says:

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.” (Psalm 139:23, NIV)

The Psalmist is requesting for God to examine everything that he meditates upon. As I recite the verse in the shower, as I clean the kitchen, or on a walk, I’m asking for the same thing. I am asking my Heavenly Father to sift through and know all the words in my heart and mind. Only slightly nerve-wracking, right?

So today I have been taking my own sample collection of words. I have tried to record (in my journal) or consciously take note of the thoughts that run through my head and heart.

I’m going to challenge you to join me. Pull out a piece of paper and write out the phrases you most often speak to your soul.

Here’s a short sampling from mine: You could do this better. There’s so much to do. Try harder. You should be more prepared. You should be a better friend. You are going to be an emotional trainwreck. Be afraid. Nicely Done (SARCASM).

I realize that I’m fairly sarcastic with myself, and more than anything the voice inside is pushing to do more, be more, try more, or simply feel more guilt. GAH. Haven’t I been through this? I feel as though I’ve made real progress in the past year to move beyond performance evaluation and into nurturing my soul. Any one else struggle in this arena? I know the truth I should cling to, the soundtrack that would energize and encourage me, and yet I keep pulling out an old cassette tape that should have been trashed years ago. I don’t want the thoughts in my brain to work like an involuntary muscle, and that’s why meditation must come into play.

There’s a reason why God gave commands to His people and then challenged them to live them throughout the day.

“Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 6:4-9, NLT

So often my reading in the morning can stay just that: reading in the morning. If I don’t make an effort to latch onto a phrase, thought, point, word, or verse, my involuntary muscle kicks in. That’s why memorizing a huge chunk of scripture has been such a blessing during this season. I’m up in the middle of the night more times than I would like to admit… okay, like 3-5 times. My bladder must be the size of a mustard seed. It’s ridiculous. Sometimes when I wake my brain is looping a top 40 hit from the radio, or I start in on the to-do lists, or the anxieties, and I know that I need to shut all of that down if I ever want to get back to sleep at 3:20am. Reciting Psalm 139 in my head or praying have become the go-to meditations… and it’s so peaceful, comforting, and beneficial.

doorframe

Meditating has become the way that I let the truth infiltrate my heart and mind. Meditating changes the loop playing in my head and redirects my thoughts toward what is excellent and praiseworthy.

So that’s my challenge for all of us today. Consider your tape, and ditch it if it needs to go. Make the word part of your day. Talk about it with your friends. Look at it on your mirror. Write it on your hand. Tape it on your window frame… meditate on it day and night.

Following,
Ginger

Dear Ginger: Bullying

dear ginger

Dear M,

Thank you again for your willingness to write in and share the struggles you are currently facing. Last week we took some time to talk about a large portion of your letter: what to do when you don’t like how you feel or how you look. I hope you’ve been encouraged by that discussion.

I wanted to take additional time this week to address the other component in your letter. Specifically these sentences:

There is a girl who called me a “fat seal” this year and that really hurt me. She’s bullied me since the 5th grade and this year I started cutting. I told my parents but I really need someone’s advice who has also struggled with not liking yourself. The very first night when you talked about how I’m God’s masterpiece. But I still haven’t figured out to deal with her because she constantly likes to bully me.“

You aren’t the first to bring up this dilemma, nor will you be the last. It deeply saddens me to know that bullying of any kind takes place in our schools, much less between two girls. Navigating middle and high school is tough enough without the added emotional stress of a bully. I am so sorry that you are experiencing so much hurt. I want you to know that I care about your pain. I can understand why the words of someone else have the power to keep you in self-worth limbo. I experience some similar comments when I was younger… and they still hurt.

I was also a child (and teen) who was very insecure about how I was perceived by others. It doesn’t take much for your confidence to be stripped away, does it? I can vividly recall the words of the unkind boy at my grandmother’s swim club and the girl I overheard in passing at camp. I don’t remember what I wore on the first day of fourth grade but I can clearly picture a boy walking up to me quite candidly and declaring, “My dad said you got fat this summer.

Not, “How was your summer?” or “I wonder what 4th grade will be like?” or even “I don’t know what to think of Mrs. So-and-so.” Not only do I wonder what compelled the boy to share this information, but I also wonder what made his father decide to proclaim that message to his son. One sentence and I carry it always. Isn’t it amazing how hearing from others can affect how we feel about ourselves?

Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me.

That’s a joke, right?

Words sting. They can scar. But rather than just accept the negativity and hide those thoughts in the back of our minds, I want to encourage us all with this verse.

The weapons we use in our fight are not the world’s weapons but God’s powerful weapons, which we use to destroy strongholds. We destroy false arguments; we pull down every proud obstacle that is raised against the knowledge of God; we take every thought captive and make it obey Christ.” (2 Corinthians 1:4-5, GNT)

Why start a discussion about bullying with a verse from the Bible? I believe the Bible holds the answers for some of our most challenging situations. When a bully comes with harsh words this verse reminds us that we destroy the false arguments and instead choose to believe what our Creator says about us.

1. Take those hurtful thoughts captive and replace them with truth from the Bible. “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” What usually causes a bully to act out? Insecurity. Don’t let this girl’s insecurity rob you of the worth and confidence you have from your Maker. God has a unique and special plan for your life, so don’t let the words of another keep you from remembering that!

“When you choose to believe God’s Word, your emotions may not follow immediately. Does that mean you aren’t trusting God? No. Faith is often exercised in the context of a struggle, in the midst of conflicting thoughts and emotions… When we trust in God, we will experience many obstacles to faith, but placing our trust in His Word- not our feelings- will see us through.” (Robert S. McGee, The Search for Significance)

2. Talk to your parents, a teacher, or a trusted adult if the bullying continues or escalates. I know you mentioned that you had spoken to your parents at least one occasion. Be sure to keep them updated and apprised of the situation. I realize no one wants to be a tattletale, but if this situation is causing you as much pain as you say, it’s worth doing whatever you can to make it stop.

And you’ve likely tried this, but I still want to mention it. Firmly look this girl in the eye and tell her to please stop. Use a clear and confident voice. If it seems as though she is going to lash out again, simply walk away and remove yourself from the situation.

3. Pray for this girl. What?! I know you might think I’m crazy, but here me out. We already discussed the fact that this young woman is likely struggling with a large dose of insecurity. Things could be really difficult at her home. Perhaps she’s been bullied before and this is her way of making sure she’s the biggest fish in the pond. Whatever the case, chances are she’s wounded and hurting on the inside.

Here’s the thing, there are several of Jesus’ words that I’d prefer not to practice. I don’t want to love my enemies; I’d rather be cold and distant to them. It’s hard to forgive.

You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!” (Matthew 5:43-44, NLT)

Prayer for your enemies is one of the deepest forms of love, because it means that you have to really want that something good happen to them. You might do nice things for your enemy without any genuine desire that things go well with them. But prayer for them is in the presence of God who knows your heart. Prayer is interceding with God on their behalf, and the prayer Jesus has in mind here is always for their good. He is not talking about praying for our enemies to be run over by a truck. He’s not talking about praying for lightening to take them out.  We are to pray that their hearts and ours be softened, be changed, be reconciled. That may seem far-fetched and impossible right now, but I’ve witnessed firsthand how praying for someone who hurt me has actually released me from a lot of pain and anger.

4. Cultivate positive relationships. Some seasons of life can feel pretty challenging and lonely if we don’t have friends to turn to. I’m praying right now that you have girls in your class or at church who can love and encourage you for the beautiful young woman you are. If you feel like those kind of friendships are few and far between, then begin praying regularly that God would bring you a kindred friend.

When I moved a few years ago I began to pray a prayer that went something like this, “God, you know that I’m lonely. I would love to have a friend who will encourage me to grow, and will challenge me to be the best version of myself. Help me to be a kind and generous friend to whomever you bring into my life.” God has slowly and surely provided new relationships to fit the bill of kindred friends.

M- God is for you. He will give you the wisdom, strength, and encouragement you need each day. Don’t lose heart. I’m praying for you and here if you want to write again.

Following,
Ginger