Sunday, July 31, 2016

When Anger is Easier {Anger Series}


I recently remembered a conversation I had with a friend years ago. I don’t remember what situation I was telling her about, but I know I was angry. After listening for a while, she said, “You’re hurt.” I agreed. I was hurt by what had happened, but what I said was, “Yes, but anger is easier.”

I’ve been thinking about it lately as I watch the news and hear about things going on around me. Even as I look at my own life.

Sometimes it’s easier to be angry than to admit the emotional pain.

Anger feels offensive. Hurt feels defensive.

Anger allows me to put up a wall, with the assumption that it will keep pain out. In reality, that wall locks the pain inside. {Tweet this}

Admitting emotional pain makes me vulnerable. It means I have to address what has happened, and it might involve forgiving someone who isn’t sorry…or someone who doesn’t even acknowledge they hurt my feelings.

Vulnerability takes us to a risky place. To admit we’ve been hurt means we have to take the “I’m fine” mask off, and risk being hurt further. But keeping the mask on brings just as much risk.

Behind the mask, we take the chance of losing ourselves to a life lived in anger.

Emotional pain and vulnerability are frightening places to be—except when we take them to the foot of the cross. There we don’t have to rely on our own strength to forgive because Jesus will help us.

We are only able to forgive others because God first forgave us.

Anger is a normal human emotion, but how we handle it and how we act while angry is in our control.
Understand this, my beloved brothers and sisters. Let everyone be quick to hear [be a careful, thoughtful listener], slow to speak [a speaker of carefully chosen words and], slow to anger [patient, reflective, forgiving]; for the [resentful, deep-seated] anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God [that standard of behavior which He requires from us]. James 1:19-20 (Amplified Bible)
I’ve been thinking about this as I watch the news. We have a lot of anger, and so much hurt, in our world. Maybe we see more of the anger because anger demands attention…while emotional pain often suffers alone. {Tweet this}

For myself, I’m trying to identify anger before it takes root. Here are a few questions I’ve been asking myself. Maybe they will help you too.

Why am I feeling angry?

Is it something legitimate? Or perhaps I’m overtired, stressed out, or not feeling well, and things are just getting to me. Little things have a way of building over the course of the day. Changing my perspective and taking control of my thoughts go a long way.

Is there something I can do about the situation, or is it out of my control?

Identify what I can and cannot control. If there’s something I can do to change my situation, then planning a course of action helps. No matter if it’s short-term or long-term goals, it still feels like I’m doing something to make a change.

If the situation is truly out of my control, then I need to make sure I’m spending time with God to get past my anger. Stewing about whatever it is will only make everything worse. Negative feelings and a bad attitude grow quickly and are highly contagious to everyone around me. Negativity needs to be diffused before it grows like wildfire.

Is my behavior pleasing to God?

Whether it’s deep-seated anger I’m dealing with, or a really bad day, I can work to control my behavior. Walking closely with God and considering what He thinks of my words and actions really helps. And it goes a long way in keeping myself out of trouble.

Anger is the easier route if that’s what you’re used to. It takes a conscious effort to make a course correction and then to keep walking on that new, unfamiliar path, but it can be done. 

In time, we become accustomed to a different way of doing things, and even when it’s still difficult, it is more familiar, and slightly more comfortable.

In Christ,
Laura 

[Photo credit: FreeImages.com]

Saturday, July 23, 2016

He is Here


I’m joining the Five Minute Friday community with Kate Motaung…5 minutes, no rewriting, and a one-word prompt…
I have called you back from the ends of the earth,
    saying, ‘You are my servant.’
For I have chosen you
    and will not throw you away.
Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.
    Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you.
    I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.

I love these verses from the book of Isaiah.

They remind me that even when I don’t feel God close to me, He is here. We are chosen by Him, and we will not be forgotten. {Tweet this}

When He calls me to something I feel unqualified for, He is here to lead me. We are chosen and called, and He does not expect us to work alone.

When I feel afraid and alone, He is here to comfort and strengthen me. We are chosen by Him and He walks with us.

When I feel discouraged, He is here to encourage me. He has chosen us, not to be dismayed and disappointed, but to be built up by His strength.

When I feel weak and powerless, He is here to help me. We are His chosen people, and He does not leave us in a helpless position.

He is here. He is with us. God strengthens us and helps us—even holding us up with His victorious right hand.

In Christ,
Laura

[Photo credit: FreeImages.com]

Linking up with: Five Minute Friday

Monday, July 18, 2016

God-sized Dreamers Are Stronger Together


Two months ago, I was invited to join the team of writers at God-sized Dreams. I was thrilled! And surprised…because only a week before, I’d been wondering about the writing team and how often new writers are added. God at work, right?

After a few days of praying and thinking about it, I gladly accepted. And then…I panicked. Self-doubt kicked in (complete with dizziness and nausea), and I felt like a fraud. How could I write about dreams when sometimes I’m not even sure what mine are anymore?!?

That’s the beautiful thing about God-sized dreams…

When I’m too weary to dream, God is still at work on His dreams for me.

I know from experience that I have seasons when God is telling me to rest. I’ve learned that it’s best to yield during these seasons because there is a purpose. It’s a time for growth and renewal in ways I might not have realized I needed. But He knows.

Please join me at God-sized Dreams to continue reading...God-sized Dreamers Are Stronger Together

In Christ,
Laura

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

In the Lord’s Strength


Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.

When I read Paul’s words to the church in Ephesus, I imagine him writing them with emphasis and conviction. Be strong in the Lord! Be strong in His mighty power! I wonder if that’s the way the Ephesians read it.

Or how we read it.

As I think of the weight behind these words, I keep thinking about David as he prepared to fight against Goliath.

And David said, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.”

There is not an exclamation point at the end of David’s sentence, but can you hear the passion in his words? He was absolutely certain the Lord would deliver him, and from that assuredness, David’s strength came from the Lord…not from himself.

What if we were that confident in our daily battles?

Read Paul’s words again. Be strong in the Lord! Be strong in His mighty power!

Friends, we can be that confident! We have the same Source of strength David drew from—our Lord God.

We may not be facing a nine-foot Philistine dressed in bronze, but don’t some days feel like we are?

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

David knew what he was up against. So do we. Satan isn’t as blatant as Goliath, but he’s more forceful…and he’s sneaky.

Fighting this battle will take God’s strength. God’s power. And God’s armor.

Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

God gives us armor to defend ourselves with and the Word of God to fight with…and like David, God’s strength to rely on.

Lord God, thank you for equipping us with the armor we need to fight against the enemy. Please strengthen us like you did David and guide us through our everyday battles. May we confidently rely on You and give You the glory in everything. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

In Christ,
Laura  

[Photo credit: FreeImages.com]

Monday, July 4, 2016

Life Lessons {Anger Series}


When I was in college I worked as a pharmacy technician. The first step when a new prescription was brought in was to get the customer’s name, address, and phone number. If I already knew the person was a regular customer, I could bypass this step.

One day a gentleman came in, whom I didn’t recognize. When I asked for his information, he became angry and yelled at me. I don’t remember what he said or what I said in response. I didn’t know what to think…he was yelling at me for doing my job.

Fortunately, the pharmacist, who was also the store owner, was nearby and came to the counter to intervene. He calmed the man down, while I escaped back into the pharmacy.

Later in the day, after the man had received his prescription (not by me) and left…he came back. The pharmacist greeted him…but he asked to talk to me. I don’t know what I was expecting, but I was unprepared for what happened…

The man apologized.

He came back to the store because he wanted to apologize to me. He explained that when he had come in earlier, he and his wife had come from the doctor’s office—where they had just found out she had cancer.

I don’t remember the rest of the conversation, but what I’ve never forgotten are the lessons.
1 – We never know where someone else is coming from or what they are dealing with.
In our quick-to-judge lives, we jump to conclusions. Before the apology, I’d probably decided the guy was a jerk, but he wasn’t. He was a man who was hurting. He had received overwhelming, difficult news and I just happened to be the one who caused him to release a little steam.

Years later, I still think about this. Often, when I encounter an unpleasant person I start to wonder what has happened to make her so angry. Maybe it’s just a bad day or maybe it’s much more. It doesn’t excuse nasty behavior, but sometimes it does help to explain it, even if I never know the situation.

At the very least, my experience does help me to not take someone else’s behavior personally.
2 – Never be afraid to apologize.
The fact that the man came back to apologize meant more to me than he probably knew. Instead of ignoring what had happened, he took the humble step of coming back.

I doubt it was easy for him. In the midst of the bad news he’d received that day, he took responsibility for his behavior. Maybe it was the only thing he felt he could control that day.

I wish I could tell this man what he taught me, and how his example became a life lesson I still think about often.
3 – Pay attention to what I’m dealing with and try not to project it on to others.
When this man came back to apologize, I was left with a very different impression than I had before he returned.

We never know the impression we will make on someone else. {Tweet this}

Even if the encounter is only for a moment, it’s a moment that can last a lifetime. I don’t want to be the one who sours someone else’s day. But, if I am, I hope I can recognize it, take responsibility, and change that impression.

Kind words are like honey—sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.

In Christ,
Laura

[Photo credit: FreeImages.com]


Friday, July 1, 2016

God's Protection


I’m joining the Five Minute Friday community with Kate Motaung…5 minutes, no rewriting, and a one-word prompt…

Protect

When I was pregnant with my daughter, I remember thinking that I would never be able to protect her like I could before she was born. I knew I would do the best I humanly could to protect her, but every parent knows there is only so much we can do. Children will get hurt, sick, lost, defiant, and they will have to make their own mistakes.
  
The truth is, no one can protect my child the way God can.

He sees all when my sight is limited. {Tweet this}

He knows best when I’m swayed by emotion. {Tweet this}
  
And He can intervene unbeknownst to me.

So often I don’t understand the what and why of what’s going on in my life, but I know God does.

And sometimes that knowledge has to be enough for me.

In Christ,
Laura
  
[Photo credit: FreeImages.com]