To be sorry…

The door swung open to my right as the lukewarm water splashed over my hands in the sink.

“Excuse me.” Said the woman pushing her way through the bathroom door.

“Oh, I’m sorry.” The words spilled out of my mouth before I even realized what I was saying. As I finished drying my hands, the elderly woman closing the stall door quietly said, “Never be sorry,” with a smirk.

I politely smiled as I started to walk out the door, face flushed red at the admonition. Good Lord, why do I always say I’m sorry for everything?

“Sorry, I’m in your way, sorry I’m in line before you, sorry I’m breathing, sorry I’m alive..”

It’s what I say.

It’s this annoying, knee-jerk response I have to any inconvenience, even if I did absolutely nothing to be sorry about.

“Why do I do that?” I muttered to myself under my breath as I walked to the car.

Exhaling deeply, I fastened my seatbelt as I thought about those words the woman exhaled.

“Never be sorry.”

They sound wise.

All of the things that I was sorry for began marching through my mind. The list was long.

Turning out of the parking lot, I turned down the radio so I could hear my own thoughts a little more closely.

“Never be sorry,” I whispered to myself. I like the idea of never being sorry, it’s like “no regrets.” But truth be told, I am sorry. I do regret. It sounds so virtuous to never be sorry, to yell at the top of my lungs, “no regrets!”

The problem is, I have lots of regrets.

There’s plenty of things I wish would’ve done and even more, I wish I wouldn’t have. Words I’ve spoken that I can never take back.. and so many I’ve left unsaid.

“What right does she have to tell me to never be sorry?” I asked the silence sitting next to me.

Frowning, I realized I was being unfair. She may have been sorry about many things in her life and wanted to give a little encouragement to those that still have many days of regret ahead. I don’t know the life she’s lived.

But nonetheless, I’m sorry.

It’s okay to be sorry

Reading this morning about King David and his life in I and II Samuel I noticed that he was a man who was sorry. Psalm 51 is one of the greatest “I’m sorry’s” in the whole Bible. At its simplest, it is an I’m sorry for what I did. In return, God extends His gracious forgiveness.

“For I acknowledge my transgressions…against you, you only, have I sinned. According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions.” Psalm 51: 1,3,4

If we’re sorry, a true repentant sorry, that’s never a bad thing. We are imperfect people living in an imperfect world. There is so much to be sorry for. And quite frankly, that’s okay.

Having said that, I don’t think God intends for us to walk around constantly sorry. The point of this Psalm and the forgiveness we find in Jesus is restoration. We can be sorry but then we move on in the grace and freedom we find in Him.

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10

Looking up the various meanings for steadfast within the Bible, the word translates to be firmly established, stable, secure or settled. I just love that. We say, “I’m sorry” and in return, he gives stability and security.

That sounds like freedom to me.

Even within our earthly relationships, there is so much to gain from being sorry. In parenting, I have learned the importance of saying I’m sorry to my children when I’ve messed up. For years I did not realize that it is as essential in our relationship, if not more so, for me to speak I’m sorry as it is for them to say it.

There is a barrier that breaks down when they see the humanness of their mom. And for me, a perfect humility created within my own heart when I turn to them and ask for forgiveness.

I believe this seeking and giving forgiveness is a basic relational component designed by God for us with Him and each other.

So, next time I knee-jerk speak those 2 words, I’m sorry, I’ll be a little nicer to myself. Even if not completely necessary at the time, I’d rather be open to being sorry and the freedom that comes with it, than not.

 

 

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Living with Anxiety and Jesus.

How do you know it will be okay?

The scene is epic, an edge-of-your-seat thriller…for a 5-year-old.

Let me paint the picture for you if you’ve never seen Finding Nemo. (Or possibly only once and not 100 times like I have with my kids.)

Dory and Marlin are in the mouth of a whale, after Dory spoke a little whalenese (yes, that’s a word) (no, it’s really not, but I like to keep you on your toes) to a whale for help, they end up sucked into its mouth. Anyway, they’re holding on for dear life to the tongue of the whale as it’s lifting it up to swallow.

Dory hears the whale give her the ok to go because remember, she speaks whalenese. So, she let’s go.

Marlin panics and grabs hold of Dory with one fin and the whales’ tongue with the other.

(Edge. Of. Your. Seat.)

“It’s time to let go, everything is going to be alright,” declares Dory.

Marlin shouts in reply, eyes wide, “How do you know?” “How do you know something bad isn’t going to happen?”

“I don’t,” Dory says with a shake of her little fishy head.

That Dory—she’s got some wisdom, am I right?

Control Issues

I have watched this movie so many times with my boys and something stands out to me every single time I watch this.

I’m a lot like Marlin. A lot. We’re pretty much pals, buds; *Fist/fin bump.

Both Marlin and I want to stay safe at all cost. We want assurance that absolutely nothing bad will happen before we choose to do it. We want control.

You see, if you’re anything like ol’ Marlin and me, anxiety and fear can tend to dictate our every choice.  This is especially true when it comes to situations where we have little to no control. We like LOVE control.

Let me give you an example.

I don’t enjoy flying. I actually hate flying. I mean, come on,  it’s just not natural. We’re not meant to be 30,000 feet up in the air. With our loved ones. In a tin can. With a seat belt (like that’s going to help.)

In this situation I am Marlin, sweating bullets, waiting to board and asking, “How do you know nothing bad is going to happen?” My best buddy, anxiety, is always so eager to whisper, “Let’s just stay local and save yourself the possible bad outcome. ”

Aw, isn’t that just thoughtful, he’s really looking out for me.

With anxiety and fear comes an intense need to control. If I could just see the future and that plane landing safely than we’d be good! Hand me my ticket and I’ll be skipping down the ramp, whistlin’ Dixie.

But when I don’t know the outcome? Well, I better just stay back where I’m safe and nothing bad can happen. Let’s not go bursting our little comfort bubble that anxiety has carefully put in place.

The funny thing about anxiety is that it promises you freedom, but in reality, your world grows a little smaller each time you listen to it. There have been so many times I’ve been so terrified of the outcome that I’ve simply walked away.

And I’ve regretted it. Every. Single. Time.

Where do you seek to control?

Maybe for you, it’s not a plane, maybe you’re fine with heights.. (weirdo.) I’m totally kidding. I’m just jealous you can get on a plane without a panic attack.

All kidding aside because I know how awful it feels to have anxiety control you.

Maybe for you, it’s allowing your kids to go somewhere without you, sending them to a friends’ house or camp. Something bad could happen to them and how would you handle that? Worse yet, it’d be your fault. Better to keep them home where it’s safe.

Maybe it’s taking a job or moving, what if you make the wrong choice? Better to stay where you are.

What about that desire that you’ve had tucked in your heart for years to go out and try? But what if you fail? Better to not try at all.

Or quite possibly you’re like I was years ago when even the everyday things were a challenge. Maybe you’re so caught in anxiety that it feels scary to even go outside or to socialize…or to be alone. Maybe every day is just terrifying.

If this is the case, can I just say, I’m sorry. Please hear me when I say this;

It does get better.

I promise.

I have lived with debilitating anxiety, panic, and depression. I have learned to fight it one lie at a time and because of this, I stand before you a different woman today. But it did not happen overnight.

Let me tell you one little thing that I have learned that has helped me with this controlling, anxious nature that seems to cling to me.

I do it anyway. And I do it afraid.

There are literally countless stories in the bible of people who “did it afraid.” I don’t have time to share all of them here, but let me give you one little snippet from the life of Paul the Apostle.

“For even when we came into Macedonia our flesh had no rest, but we were afflicted on every side: conflicts without and fears within..” 2 Cor. 7:5

Did you catch that? “Fears within.” Paul was not immune to the feelings that we feel. He had fears within. But did he stop? No, he didn’t. He did it afraid.

We may do it afraid, but we don’t do it alone.

There’s no guarantee that nothing bad will happen and that is a scary place to be when you know the whole control thing is really just an illusion. In fact, Jesus said bad things will happen. But you know what else he said

“..in Me you have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

When I find myself in a situation that frightens me, I look at it as a fork in the road. Anxiety calls me in one direction and Jesus calls me in the other.

I have a choice..

It might look scary walking in the direction Jesus is calling me, but I can tell you this, I have never once regretted it. Not once.

I can say confidently that neither will you. If you trust Him with who he says he is, then you can trust that he is in control. We may not know the future and every possible outcome, but He does.

This world is scary and uncertain, there’s just no way around it. Bad, scary things happen. But Jesus overcame it.

Believing in Jesus is being in Jesus.

That my friend makes you an overcomer. He overcame it, so you have overcome it.

That is true control.

Take some time to think about this. He wants you to know the peace that He bought with His life. It’s yours, just like that. You don’t have to do a single thing. Just believe.

You will feel afraid.  Anxiety isn’t going to just up and walk away. But when you know who you are and whose you are, life just doesn’t look as scary anymore. The more you believe and the more you choose Him over the anxiety, the more you will feel the peace He promises.

Bottom line, the more you face the fear, the more it backs down.

That’s what I mean by doing it anyway and doing it afraid. Let Him prove himself to you. Choose the scary and He’ll meet you there. I promise.

But more importantly, He promises.

Thankfully, for us anxious folks, we don’t have to do it alone. We don’t have to “jump” and just chance it. We can jump and know with certainty that He has a plan and it is perfect, no matter what.

I long to be like Dory, when Jesus says, “it’s time to let go.”

I want to reply with a leap.  

My greatest goal is to trust beyond my fear and all the, “what if’s” and “worst case scenarios.” When I’m wanting to control, I strive to look to the one that is in control. To simply trust Him enough with my very being that I just jump.

He is faithful, you know. He is.

I’ve seen it first hand.

Let’s hold fins, trust Him, and jump. What do ya say?


 

What frightens you? What situation is causing you to fear and want to back out because you don’t have control?

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You are Irreplaceable—A Mother’s Worth

I bet now there’s a Beyoncé song running through your head since reading the title?

No?

“To the left, to the left..”

Well, now there is— you’re welcome.

I’m so easily distracted. Let’s get back to where we were, shall we?

If you’re a stay-at-home mom like me, you, no doubt, have been asked the question, “Where do you work?” Here begins the awkward dance. And in the defense of the questioner, I’m pretty sure I’m the one startin’ the two-step.

“I’m a stay-at-home mom,” I reply.

You are Irreplaceable

Here it comes.. the old cliché that I dread hearing. “Well, that’s a job all in itself!” Or, “You don’t ever get time off do you?!” And my personal favorite, “You have the hardest job in the world!” (I cringe every time I hear this response.)

Then, I smile and give my best–oh, it’s no big deal, humble, stay-at-home mom nod. I agree with them and lament the “hardness” of my job, because, well, that’s what you do.

We continue on with our conversation, all the while, I can’t decide if they believe what they just said, or for that matter, if I do.

It’s a dance I hate and if I wasn’t so conscientious of the dance, here’s what I’d actually like to say.

“I don’t think you believe that being a stay-at-home mom is the hardest job in the world…”

Let’s just get this out of the way right now;

Yes, I’m extremely cynical.

Ok, good, moving on.

I can’t speak for everyone, but I’ve come to the conclusion in my experience that it’s mostly a trite response. You know, like when someone asks, “how are you today?” I don’t know about you, but I usually don’t respond with, “Awful, worst day ever, thanks for asking.”

I also have come to see that we as moms struggle with our own value in motherhood.

How often have you said, “I’m just,” before the reply “a stay-at-home mom?”

(Maybe you’re not like me, maybe you’re secure in your value as a full-time mom. If so, I admire that about you.. .teach me your ways.)

I’ve done it a thousand times. “I’m just a stay-at-home mom.”

Followed by: “I used to be…” *Just in case there were any questions— I promise, I have value. 

For some reason, I felt I was doing my part for society when I went to work. I could wear the shiny little badge that proudly proclaimed, I am a working part of society!

So, finding value in my job, as you can imagine, wasn’t a great thing when I came to the frightening realization that;

I am replaceable.

If you’re like I was, seeking value in something where I was easily replaced, it’s an exhausting thing. You’re always running a race you’ll never win.

I became fully aware of this when I was working full-time after my second son was born. Taking time off meant someone else would be doing my job. We then had some changes within our childcare situation and I had to decide to either stay home or take my boys to daycare.

Although I had a desire to be home, it still scared me. Where was my value if I didn’t have my career?

Essentially, I felt invisible without it.

If we are being completely honest anyone can do our “job,” (Well, maybe not if you’re the star NFL quarterback or the greatest physicist alive. I guess maybe you’re good there… you’ve got the market on that one.) But really, even then you’ll die one day, someone younger and better will take your place. That’s just all there is to it.

(I know, I’m just full of positivity.) But hey, congrats, my point has arrived!

As a mom I am irreplaceable.

I am essential.

I am the only one that can love and care for my children in the way that they need. So, when I think of where I am now, as a mom, I think of it as a privilege. I think of it as the ultimate gift and quite frankly, the greatest blessing.

It has taken me quite some time to not only be confident in saying this but to be comfortable with it as well. When I am struggling with the truth of my value I remember these 3 words,

I am irreplaceable. 

You are irreplaceable. 

You are the ONLY mother your kids have. While I’m sure this is no new revelation, I don’t think we stop enough to breathe that information in. To really STOP and THINK about the fact that these precious souls are our responsibility.

They are not only growing physically but emotionally as well. We are gifted with walking alongside them, guiding, directing, correcting and loving them every step of the way.

When I am in that place of not believing in my worth as a stay-at-home mom, I am listening to a society that doesn’t find value in a mother. What she contributes every single day to raise children, men, and women.

We are raising the men and women that one day will be our neighbors, our doctors, our policemen or teachers or clerks at the grocery store. Decent, loving, intentionally taught human beings.

That is the only job where I am irreplaceable.

Realizing this has brought me some peace in my fear of being replaced.

With that said, I wish I could tell you I never struggle with this any longer, but that’d be a lie (I’d rather not start our relationship off that way) So, I’m being honest, I do still struggle with my worth as a stay-at-home mom.

As with any other lie, there is a truth uncovered in the scriptures about Gods character that I believe helps kill the lie.


He sees you.

 Hagar was running away. She was pregnant with a child from another woman’s husband, a man who was her master.

She was basically a surrogate, but she was not loved. I’m sure she must’ve felt used. She was Egyptian and she wanted to go home. So she ran…

She ended up with a spring of water in the wilderness and guess who found her there? Genesis 16:7 says the angel of the Lord found her.

He said, “Hagar, where have you come from and where are you going?”

She answers Him and He proceeds to give her a quick synopsis of her future, including the name of her soon-to-be son. After this discussion with God, (I know, no biggie, right?) she gives Him a name based on what she experienced out of this interaction.

Genesis 16:13 says, Then she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her,

“you are the God who sees;”

He saw her. truly, He, the God of everything, took his time to see her, an Egyptian woman who was really not worth much in the eyes of the world.


He sees you too.

Indeed, He knows that what you are doing truly is the hardest job in the world, even if no other soul acknowledges that, He does.

You have a loving Father who is walking this life with you. Caring for you and shepherding you every step of the way as you shepherd your little ones. You and I can rest in the fact that even if this world says we are replaceable, He does not.

Let’s make a pact to believe this together when we’re fighting against the lies, ok?

We are irreplaceable.


What makes you feel replaceable? Are you a stay-at-home mom, working mom or somewhere in between? Do you struggle to find value in your title? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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Have you ever noticed how loud fear is? Take Courage!

I am well acquainted with fear.. and it’s close friend, anxiety. As I look back over most of my life these two have been my constant companions. When control was out of my reach, fear was close at hand. When answers were unclear and I wasn’t quite sure which way to turn, anxiety had a perfectly rational explanation.

Every. Single. Time.

It’s always made sense to run with the fear that was in my heart and mind, it was over-powering. It was the oppressor in my daily life that I just could not seem to shake. It followed me around and demanded I hand over my peace and rest like a schoolyard bully demands your lunch money.

Have you ever noticed how loud fear is? Fear yells. I mean, it just screams. You can’t possibly hear anything else when it’s siren is so loud in your mind.. at least that’s what fear wants you to believe.

Have you ever noticed how loud fear is? Take Courage!

Truth doesn’t shout, not at first anyways.

Fear always seems to shout. It comes at you with a fierceness that is piercing, confusing and almost always loud. Fear demands our attention, I believe, more than any other emotion. If you have ever struggled with anxiety, fear, panic, or any synonym that closely relates to the aforementioned words, you know exactly what I’m saying. When you are so deep into the pit of despair that fear causes, when someone speaks truth to you it can sound barely audible, like a faint, far away whisper. The shouts and incessant clanging of the lies that surround you in that pit can be all-consuming and life sucking.

When you hear that little whisper behind the leers and shrieking of the demons that shake their chains in your face;

.Listen, I mean, really listen.

 because after all, even the loudest shout sounds like a whisper when you’re at the bottom of a pit.

Once you listen, once you open your ears to that truth, don’t let go of it. Grab onto that truth with both hands, and no matter how bloodied they become, don’t let go until that truth whisper becomes a shout. Hold on while you feel the fear falling away into the darkness of the pit as you are being pulled up by the rope of truth.

Hold on, friend. Be brave enough at that moment to grab hold and listen.

It’s scary when fear is screaming at you in the face, isn’t it?

When I’m in that place, I tilt my head a little to the right,  just past fear’s hideous face and I see Jesus.. walking on the water.

Take courage.

In Matthew 14, after a day of ministering and feeding over five thousand people, Jesus put his disciples on a boat and sent them off to the other side while He went up on the mountain to pray. In the early morning hours after the disciples had been out on the water for hours, Jesus came walking on the water to them. The text reads that when the disciples saw Jesus walking towards them on the sea they thought it was a ghost or a spirit. Uh.. yeah, I’d be shaking in my boots also. But I just love Jesus’ answer, depending on what version you read, his basic words were this;

“Take courage! It is I; do not be afraid.”

In some translations, there is no exclamation point after taking courage, but I like to think that Jesus spoke with the emphasis that the exclamation point adds. Take courage! I just love this. I imagine Jesus effortlessly walking upon the waves and coming towards the boat as the disciples are terrified at this phantom gliding towards them. And what does Jesus say? He says take courage.

It’s the words I bring to the forefront of my mind when fear is screaming at me. It gives me the perspective I need at that moment to look past fears ugly face and stare at the truth. The truth that He is with me, I’m not alone in this and I am His.

And you know what? I like to think that’s why Jesus said take courage before he said do not be afraid.

Because it takes courage to not be afraid.

It’s not exactly easy to not take the fear route. It’s hard. Especially if you’re anything like me and it’s hard-wired in you to just be afraid. It takes patience, perseverance and practice. Jesus knew that. that’s why he said it.

Fear and anxiety don’t exactly like to retreat easily but I’ll tell you this, in the presence of Jesus even the ugliest fear screams can’t stand. That’s truth, it’s rock solid ground to stand on when fear makes you shake in your boots.

So, take courage, my friends. Do not be afraid, listen to this whisper of truth if you are currently in a pit; you are His, He is with you and you are held. Look past the ugly screeching and before you know it the truth of Jesus will be shouting louder than the fear.

 

“Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid.”