I'm reading a great book called "Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions" written by Lysa Terkeurst. I would highly recommend it to anyone struggling with reining in emotions. Lysa Terkeurst’s life experiences in this book have brought me so much comfort. I haven't felt so alone after reading it and it's helped me through a really challenging season. Just like Lysa, I've grown up with past experiences that have shaped me into the woman I am today. I've been conditioned to negatively think and feel a certain way for way too long. I feel oddly safe with these unhealthy ways of thinking because it's what I'm used to. It's only when I started letting Christ in a few years ago that things started to change. He's taught me so much through His example. The way that He’s loved other people is astounding especially when they haven't loved Him back. For Him to actually ask God to forgive those that brutally beat Him and nailed Him to a cross (Luke 23:34) boggles my mind. We can all learn from His testimony. He's definitely getting me to a more healthier, more freeing place in my life. I'm a work in progress though. I can revert back to my old ways of thinking at times. Boy, I can be difficult. My stubborn nature can take over and I don't want to go where God is moving me. I’m so thankful Jesus loves me through it though (He wasn’t kidding when He said He has come to love the world in the midst of its brokenness). I'm making what Lysa calls "imperfect progress": "Imperfect changes are slow steps of progress wrapped in grace... imperfect progress... it's okay to have setbacks and the need for do-overs. It's okay to draw the line in the sand and start over again and again. Just make sure you're moving the line forward. Move forward. Take baby steps, but at least take steps that keep you from being stuck. Then change will come. And it will be good." Imperfect progress has allowed me to take a gigantic sigh of relief from a life filled with anxiety encouraging me just to make progress without the pressure of doing it perfectly. God doesn’t expect me to be perfect. He just expects me to walk with Him through this progress and allow Him to work in my life.
I've learned valuable lessons from individuals this year. And, even more on the person that God wants me to become. I’ve taken baby steps on how to make better choices in the middle of my raw emotions. Through this challenging season, I've been hurt. But, instead of getting stuck in my circumstances I’m choosing to move forward. God has given me the hope that more change is coming for me. And not just for me, but for the people in my life. My emotions not only influence me but also those around me. My progress may be imperfect and slow, but it's progress. I just need to be patient and wait on God to move me.
Thank you for those that have walked with me through this season of life. I'm especially grateful for those that have loved me even through my fears, my anxieties, my weaknesses…. my mess.
Here are some highlights from the book that have really helped me through this challenging season. I thought they would also bring comfort to others going through similar challenges:
"Yes, but I must remember God gave me emotions so I can experience life, not destroy it."
"No, we won't bend from the weight of our past, but we will bow to the One who holds our hope for our better future. It's a truth-filled future in which God reveals how emotions can work for us instead of against us."
"For me, perspective doesn't just help me see the current circumstance I'm facing from a new vantage point. It also helps me process future things I face in a calmer, more grounded way. It helps me develop a new way of thinking. And this isn't just some theory I've observed in my life. It's actually the way God wired us."
"I can't control the things that happen to me each day, but I can control how I think about them. I can say to myself, "I have a choice to have destructive thoughts or constructive thoughts right now. I can wallow in what's wrong and make things worse, or I can ask God for a better perspective to help me see good even when I don't feel good."
"I can face things that are out of my control and not act out of control."
"Could I trust God and believe that He is working out something good even from things that seem no good?" (rhetorical question)
"Either way, as long a I believe, really believe, God is there and that He is out to do me good, I can stop freaking out trying to fix everything on my own. I can face things that are out of my control and not act out of control."
"Labels are awful. They imprison us in categories that are hard to escape."
"Trapped inside these straitjacket struggles from all the self-defeating labels. Some prisons don't require bars to keep people locked inside. All it takes is their perception that they belong there. A soul that believes she can't leave....doesn't."
"Oh God, chisel me. I don't want to be locked in my hard places forever."
"One of my favorite passages that confirms God is calling us out of the darkness is from 1 Peter:
"As you come to him, the living Stone...rejected by [humans] but chosen by God and precious to him...you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.... you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light" (1 Peter 2:4-5, 9 NIV).
"Peter was also the man who loved his Lord with such passion he drew his sword and cut off the ear of the guard trying to arrest Jesus (John 18:10). Then, just seven short verses later, we find this same Peter denying he even knew Jesus: "You are not one of [the] disciples are you?" the girl at the door asked Peter. He replied, "I am not" (John 18:17 NIV). He sure sounds shifty to me. But not to Jesus. Jesus saw a courageous man who needed chiseling. Jesus saw a man who, when chiesled, whould boldly do what others would not. Jesus saw Peter not as he was but what he could be. Tenderly, Jesus chiseled."
“Self-effort alone can’t tame the tongue and our raw emotions that run wild.”
“When we are humble, we realize our honesty can’t be one-sided. We make an effort to see the situation from the other person’s vantage point.”
“Sip the shame before guzzling the regret. In other words, taste a little bit of the shame of letting it all rip before you find yourself drowning in gallons of unwanted regret.”
"Choosing a gentle reply doesn’t mean you’re weak: it actually means you possess a rare and godly strength.”
"Holy restraint is the seed that produces the fruit of self-control.”
“We can pour out our anxious hearts to Jesus who loves us right where we are, just as we are. Because His love comes without judgment, we soften and feel safe enough to humbly admit we need Him to work on us. Trying to fix another person only adds to my anxiety. Letting Jesus work on me is where real progress happens. I claim the promise that says, “Cast all you anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).”
"If I make the effort to handle this conflict well, I can be freed from the pressure to make everything turn out rosy. Sometimes relationships grow stronger through conflict; other times relationships end. Because I can’t control the other person, I must focus on the good God is working out in me through this situation and leave the outcome with Him. God’s Word promises that “the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast” (1Peter 5:10).”
“I’m an encourager at heart. I love to give words of encouragement and I love to receive words of encouragement. That’s probably why words of discouragement affect me so deeply. I don’t mind constructive criticism given in a spirit of love. But when someone hasn’t taken the time to invest words of encouragement in my life before offering some sort of constructive criticism, it doesn’t feel so constructive.”
“Open communication is the life-giving oxygen that fuels good relationships.”
“My job isn’t to fix the difficult people in my life or enable them to continue disrespectful or abusive behaviors.”
“Am I trying to prove that I am right or to improve the relationship?”
“But God gave me more than just a heart to use in processing life. He gave me a mind as well. A mind made for truth to reign supreme and to keep my heart in check. We must remember, “The heart is deceitful above all things….I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind” (Jeremiah 17:9-10).”
“Operating in the flow of God’s power is so much better than working against it.”
“Oh God, help us---help me. I want to be a passionate woman reined in by You and Your grace…. Not an exploder who shames herself or blames others. I want to sip the shame before guzzling the regret. I want to be the one who holds her tongue and keeps the Holy Spirit’s power working in me. I want these truths to sink in and become part of who I am and how I live. And I know that’s what you want too.”