Unfortunately, I usually default to the bad outlook. Somehow I figure if I focus on what is wrong, I can fix it. Or, if I see what is not right, I’ll have a better handle on it. Or, if I know every detail of the problem, I can lay out a plan. I also like sympathy from people. Emotionally, when I feel hurt, I want someone to make it better. Or, I want someone to really grasp my pain.
After a bit these actions cause issues. On-loading problems onto people almost always off-puts them. There’s a threshold people allow. They may walk away, roll their eyes, tell you to get over it or not call you back. You really have to be careful about going “too far”, I’ve found. But more important than this is – we don’t need sympathy from man, what we really need is empathy and love from God. He is the only thing who will ever fill us up.
So, how do we find this?
Psalm 57 has some interesting answers.
David complains, “I’m surrounded by fierce lions…” (Ps. 57:4)
Shortly thereafter he says, “Be exalted, O God, above the highest heavens.” (Ps. 57:5)
David whines, “My enemies have set a trap for me…” (Ps. 57:6)
Shortly thereafter he says, “My heart is confident in you, O God.” (Ps. 58:7)
In the place of “not so good at all” thoughts, David gets back to “good”, quickly. His mouth runs ahead of his mind for a second. Then, he catches up to “good” with God’s truth.
We can do the same. Even if we think “not so good” thoughts, we can catch right back up to goodness, by immediately changing course, just like David. We can dwell on thoughts of:
“I will waken the dawn with my song.” (Ps. 57:8)
“I will look to you (God) for protection.” (Ps. 57:1)
“…God who will fulfill His purposes for me.” (Ps. 57:2)
“He (God) will send help from heaven to save me.” (Ps. 57:3)
5. Passion for God
“My heart is confident in you, O God.” (Ps. 57:7)
David didn’t always think perfectly, but he returned to the Perfect One, quickly and readily. We can do the same. We won’t ever be perfect, but above us, around us and for us – is the Perfect One who has all our answers. He answers when we call. Not only this, He sympathizes with our pains, holding our every tear in a bottle (Ps. 56:8).
What if your power to move ahead, was in stepping back? What is not pressing ahead, but sitting out?
I recently heard a story that captured me. A group of All-star basketball players went to meet an elite coach. His instruction was that they step back; he wanted to re-structure their basketball shot. The mechanics and technique of their shooting arm needed to be entirely reworked to take them to the pro level. For this change to happen, they’d have to go back to the drawing board for 3 months. They’d need to essentially sit it out on the sidelines as they learned a new way.
The sad part was many of the players couldn’t, or wouldn’t do this. They wouldn’t listen to the coach. They didn’t want to lose thier all-star status.
Yet, what they didn’t realize was to compete on the next big stage, they needed this new skill. The coach knew: refinement was required.
A rich man essentially said to Jesus, “I’ve followed your commands. Now, Jesus, what do I still lack?”
Jesus replied, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (Mt. 19:21)
To get ahead, we sometimes have to go back.
To follow, we sometimes have to give away.
To move forward, we must release.
To meet with God, we relinquish other important things even if it appears we will be set back, halted or we will lose out.
I don’t like moving backward. In fact, I believe so much in the message God wrote in the book, Battle Ready, these days, I want to keep working harder to make sure every person in need gets a copy. I believe in the transformation I am seeing happening in people’s lives. I see how mindsets are being renewed. I want to push, push, push…and get Jesus’ message out far and wide.
Yet, still, God whispers: Kelly, rest. Trust me (even if it feels like you are moving backward). Surrender.
To not strive, to not push, to not do anything….feels like I’ll lose what God is giving me. It feels like I’ll fail. It makes me feel nervous.
But, God never leaves us behind. Surrender never counts us “out.”
The truth is we only follow Jesus, when we follow him. We only can go where He is going, when we obey. It’s not easy to follow with the world on our shoulders. Nor can we follow when we clench our history and won’t let go of it. Following doesn’t look like demanding results.
Today, if it looks like you are moving backward, be encouraged. Christ did not bring you this far to drop you on your face, to leave you behind, to fail you, to discourage you or to hurt you. He brought you to this place to love you, to equip you, to ready you, to prepare you and to be with you.
Time spent reworking your life is not a waste. Time spent with kids is not idle. Time spent praying is not inconsequential. Time spent seeking answers is not useless. Time spent sitting at Jesus’ feet is not without merit.
Move backward and see Jesus change the trajectory of everything as you move forward. God is good and He truly does have goodness for you.
Women who are battle ready know this – and live it.
BLOGGERS, 4 Winners will receive (in order of votes):
1. A 15-minute Literary Agent Meeting with Amanda Luedeke from MacGregor Literary. (2 People)
2. A 15-minute Publishing Appointment with Baker Books editor, Rebekah Guzman. (1 Person)
3. A 15-minute blogging, writing, life-coaching or platform consultation with Kelly Balarie (1 Person)
Wilderness is a waiting period that feels like forever. It is an illness that won’t go away. It is people who are trying to go a way other than the right way. It is hope deferred. It is hours of turmoil on top of hours of turmoil. It is times when it appears God isn’t talking, moving or working.
I’ve lived through all of this on replay for years. I’ve camped in the wilderness.
Are you there today? We all go through the wilderness. Even Jesus did. In fact, the Spirit led Him straight into it.
So, if God is good and the Spirit is God, this teaches us the wilderness is good too. Right?
“Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.” Deut. 8:2
As this verse points out, the wilderness:
1. Humbles us.
2. Tests us.
3. Proves what is in our heart.
4. Shows whether we will obey his commands.
Underneath it all, (and I can confess to the truth of this verse), we learn, “real life comes by feeding on every word of the Lord.” (Deut. 8:3). We thought it was bread we needed – or answers, our own way, people who change, a better life, a move, or things to stay the same – until we realized it was none of those things we needed, but Jesus.
His Word. His Truth. His direction. His discipline that disintegrates every mistruth off of us, so we can actually enjoy the promised land we’re approaching.
The discipline teaches us to delight in our greatest delight: God. It teaches us to receive the goodness of Him, rather than the emptiness of the world. This is a very good thing.
Delight in discipline, in the wilderness, in the wasteland of today. For tomorrow, you will be well prepared to enter “a good land of flowing streams and pools of waters.” (Deut. 8:7)
And best of all, you won’t:
– Lose God
– Do it your own way
– Fret because you fear it will be taken from you
– Become angry because you wanted it another way
Your preparation today is preparing your joy for tomorrow. Be encouraged.
You would not use a hammer as a tool to get a baby to sleep. Nor would you use a saw to put batteries in a toy. Or a colander to fix a driveway. Specific tools address specific issues.
Are you using the right tool when addressing problems?
This is vital.
Just think, Aaron and Hur knew the battle against the Amelikites would be won through prayer, so they held up Moses’ arms.
Arms up, they were winning.
Arms down, they were losing.
One spiritual tool was their breakthrough: prayer. (see: Exodus 17)
Think, Paul in the prison.
He praised and sang – and prison doors opened. In this scenario, praise broke prison bars.
His spiritual tool was: praise and singing.
Specific spiritual tools address specific physical issues. What we see in front of us, is often broken by God above us, when we allow Him to work through us, as He wants.
If I try to pray, when I feel tired, worn and weary and I can hardly speak a word – my words may not amount to much. If I try to pray when I’ve lost all hope, my words fall flat. Yet, if I get into God’s Word and let it attend to my soul – it can be mind shifting. It is important for us to identify the season we are in and where God is moving.
Just as the enemy shifts his strategy, we must shift ours. And, we must know where God has traditionally moved in our life, what inspires us, what has broken chains and prison bars in the past. Most of us have a breakthrough point. Most of us have past approach that tends to work when all the chips fall.
Do you know yours? Your battle style?
It is vital we know our battle style. Why? Because we must be in tune to what wins our battles, shuts down our enemies, silences our fear, and pushes the needle. This way, we can win – our war.
This way, when we can’t think in our mind, we have a fallback plan. We have a vision of where God might want us to head. We have a strategy to get up and fight again. We remember what moved the needle before can do it again.
There are a lot of battle-styles. Here, we mentioned a few:
But, do you know the rest? Do you know what to do, when you don’t know what to do? Do your children? Do your friends?
Today, let’s equip not only our own hearts in being prepared to face what hits us, but let’s equip others in the same way. Let’s invite our friends to gain the wisdom and understanding of their own style. Let’s help those going through a hard time to gain new strength.
Learn Your Battle Style for FREE!
Are you curious what your Battle Style is? Download and print the FREE quiz at IAmBattleReady.com.
When you get your results, message a friend your style, and encourage them to take the free quiz. We can’t do this alone. We’re stronger together.
Bloggers, let’s reach our friends in need. Share this on social media: “Are you going through a battle? Take the free Battle Style Quiz for free at www.iambattleready.com. Discover how you best keep connected to God. www.iambattleready.com”
Sometimes it’s easier to be a spectator. When there’s an event or tragedy making headlines and getting lots of attention in the media, that’s often what I am. I sit back and read other writers’ words. I nod and silently say, “Amen.”
But over the last weeks following the suicide of two well-known celebrities, I knew I needed to contribute more than hushed acknowledgement. I watched others speak up about their own experiences with depression and bravely tell their stories, and God stirred my soul.
I know what it’s like to be in that space where you dread waking up.
To look out the window and try to feel anything other than the slow nothingness engulfing you. After having my first child, there were days I couldn’t wait to crawl into bed and slip into the abyss of sleep.
Last week I read words from a courageous one who voiced a truth most of us don’t hear very often: Someone can love Jesus but still want to die. And I applaud her for it. These are the types of conversations more of us need to have.
Days after I read her story, its points still circled my mind and I found myself wondering, “Why do we so often want to remain silent about our own darkness?” The autopilot part of me knows the answer. People who love Jesus aren’t supposed to want to take their own lives, right? They’re supposed to have faith that can heal and a spirit that finds peace in his presence, right?
Yes, these things are possible. God is able. But they aren’t always the rule. And the thought in my mind days after I read another sojourner’s words was, “Even some prophets dealt with this darkness.”
Want to see for yourself? Elijah and Jonah, who were both servants of the Lord and heard directly from him, stated they wanted to die. (See 1 Kings 19 and Jonah 4)
These were men who not only thought about dying, but openly told God they wanted to.
These were men who God chose specifically to speak to and use. He trusted them and set them apart in generations filled with people who worshiped idols, bowed to Baals and turned to everything but him to find fulfillment.
They were not far from God, but vessels of his message. They transformed lives and brought hope. At the point they stated their anguish, they had seen God perform the miraculous. Fire from heaven at Elijah’s word. For Jonah, the nation of Ninevah transformed from vile acts of brutality to repentance.
And yet, they wanted to die.
Now, I’m not going to go into the details surrounding each man’s journey. But if we read their stories, we see one was afraid of a crazy king’s wife and the other was angry. Their desire to die stemmed from very different emotions.
What I want to talk about today isn’t their reasons, but God’s response. Because there are many who think God turns away from these types of feelings and cries of despair. And I’m here to tell you he doesn’t.
So how did God respond? Did he chastise them? Turn away and cast them into hell? Hide his face and let them wander in darkness?
Not even close. Here are three ways God responds when his followers want to die:
He comes to them in their need and allows them to rest.
God does not turn away from his children. He doesn’t yell, “How dare you say such a thing!” or act as though he can’t believe one of his own followers is making such a bold statement. In Elijah’s distress, he sends an angel to him with food and water. He lets him sleep and prepare for the long journey ahead. Once he’s had time to regain his strength, he follows him to Mount Horeb. To Jonah he provides shade and eases his discomfort. And although he later takes the plant away to illustrate a point to Jonah, he doesn’t leave him.
He gets to the heart of the matter.
God doesn’t shy away from what’s really going on in these men’s hearts. He asks questions. He sees the things they’re not saying or asking. To Elijah he asks, “What are you doing here?” (1 Kings 19:9) and to Jonah he asks, “Is it right for you to be angry?” (Jonah 4:4) God already knows the answer to these questions. He wants the men whose hearts he’s after to see what he sees.
God doesn’t interrupt these prophets or cut them off as they’re explaining how they’ve arrived at this place. Once again, he knows the answer. In Elijah’s case, he knows he mistakenly believes he’s the only follower left. But he still lets him speak. He lets him say these words he’s been holding onto as he traveled through the wilderness thinking there was no one left to serve God.
Sometimes the journey through the wilderness is what prepares us to receive the truth.
Friend, I don’t know where you are today. I don’t know if you’re fighting through darkness or if you’re standing firm in a place of victory today. But can I tell you God sees you, no matter what? He doesn’t turn away from those places you keep buried.
God doesn’t stand in disbelief at statements like the ones from Elijah and Jonah. He comes close. He reaches through the gap. When we hurt, he hurts.
Talk to him today. Even if you don’t think he hears, talk to him anyway. He’s is right there and is waiting for you to reach for him.
Abby McDonald is the mom of three, a wife and writer whose hope is show readers their identity is found in Christ alone, not the noise of the world. When she’s not chasing their two boys or cuddling their newest sweet girl, you can find her drinking copious amounts of coffee while writing about her adventures on her blog. Abby would love to connect with you on her blog and her growing Facebook community.
If you need to talk or you know somebody struggling, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text with someone at the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.
He offended me. The fighting words my husband launched hours ago were now causing my entire afternoon to be thrown off. It wasn’t my fault, or so I thought. But, now, rather than being nice to my kids, I was snappy. Rather than being present, I kept thinking of how he was so wrong. Rather than tidying the house and helping out, I went on a silent protest in my room. Rather than dwelling on love, I wanted to release my own missiles.
In retrospect: His words were an attack sent by the enemy (one point for team-enemy!).
Usually we can recognize attacks. They are:
– issues that pop up out of nowhere.
– people problems that seem completely random (or odd).
– sin that makes you feel so guilty that you are unlovable (this issue starts with us and is leveraged by the enemy).
– past wounds that are intentionally re-hit.
– old tapes that get repeated by people to keep us stuck.
There is wisdom in asking: Is my unconfessed sin or my unrepentant heart holding on to what the enemy will use to his advantage?
Think for a moment. Judas got here…: “So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.” (Mt. 27:5)
…even though He said this: “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.”
Indeed, he was “seized with remorse”, but He failed to go to the Redeemer who could heal him. Sadly, he died by his own hand.
Beware of confessing to others, but not to God. Beware of carrying burdens, only Jesus was meant to carry. Beware of leaving unforgiveness untidy and unruly within your heart. Even the most specially-chosen disciple can fall.
If someone so close to Jesus could go down, so could we.
Today is the day to let go and let live with Jesus.
Do you need to ask God, “Will you forgive me?”
Do you need to tell God, “I forgive _____?”
Do you need to say to God, “Today, I let go of this (offense).”?
The price of holding on to guilt, shame and pain is death. The price Jesus paid to free us from it, becomes our new life.
Be Battle Ready today, by letting go of what pain you cannot manage any longer and putting it into the arms of Jesus. What will come about is restored connection and renewed hope.
“The best time to be strengthened against the Enemy’s tactics of doubt, disappointment, and devastation is before he makes his first move toward us. We all desperately need the biblical guidance and preparation found in Battle Ready!”
—Lysa TerKeurst, New York Times bestselling author and president of Proverbs 31 Ministries
But, I am not; the reality is: I still get shaken, unsure and a little nervous.
It’s embarrassing to say that despite my 90% growth, I still live with 10% lack. Friends, the pride in me, doesn’t want you to see me this way. I want to hide the embarrassing parts of me in my bedroom, shut the door on it, and return to you as strong-and-mighty Kelly. But, that would be a lie.
The reality is: I don’t know it all, my friends. In many ways, I fail. On my own, I fail. By my own strength, I fail. When I control, I fail.
Do you feel like you are failing? Failing those around you? Failing to do faith well? Failing to find answers? Failing to make a way for those you love? Failing to be pure, honest and true to God? Failing to really surrender? Failing. Failing. Failing.
What if…today, you let the weight of your super-sized backpack full of bricks go? What if you began to speak a new word and release new life.
It sounds like this (speak it aloud): “Father God, the enemy accuser is right. I have (controlled, grasped, managed and not let go of the reigns, put your words here). I am sorry; forgive me.”
This is powerful, because rather than trying to defend ourselves against the inner attacks we actually know are true, we release them to God. The second we acknowledge we are wrong, we see how Jesus is 100 % right, righteous and right by our side ready to restore us. He is not undone by what He knows we’ve done, He is coming to release us from the inner turmoil of it.
While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (1 Pet. 5:8)
While you and I sin – Christ comes for us.
Why? What is Jesus’ plan in all this?
“And 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.” (1 Pet. 5:10)
He comes to restore us, to make us strong and steadfast. He does not come to shame, to hate or berate us. The path to Jesus always leads to freedom.
Friends, rest assured, whether it is me, Mother Theresa, Billy Graham or you – there is no perfect keeper of God’s law. There is no key to sudden perfection. There is no way to the freedom of life – to grace, either – except Jesus.
He has designed our faith-walk in some ways (or the fall of Adam and Eve has) to be a continual return. We just keep coming home. We just keep coming back. We just keep getting up. We just keep surrounding ourselves with His truth.
Battle Ready women aren’t perfect, they just know Who Is. They have strategies, wisdom, truth, and promises lined up in their fanny-pack like weapons for hard days. They are practiced with thought-patterns of God’s love so that when defeat shows up, they don’t listen to it. They are equipped with little tips on how to change bad habits and how to embrace Godly vision. They know how to fight proactively, rather than responding reactively. They aren’t ruled by the world they inhabit, but ruled by God’s love for them that helps them love the world. They don’t get with God once, but they are so full of desire, they keep coming back to the well of His love. They believe in God’s love for them. They hope and see His best. They walk by faith and not by sight.
They see how far they’ve come. They give thanks for the 90% growth they’ve found because of all the Battle Ready wisdom God has poured out. They leave the other 10% in God’s hands and entrust: He is Faithful and True to His Word. They see the good, yet they don’t run from the bad. They bring it to Jesus.
Here’s what the Battle Ready launch team has been saying:
“Battle Ready is really helping understand what I mean to God. I’m beginning to understand I’m very important to Him.”
“How did Kelly manage to read my personal diary? I felt as if she had cracked open my head and started reading my deepest thoughts and fears. Her vulnerability in sharing how her own thinking is in need to redemption makes me realize I am not alone in the struggle.
“I love the practical Scriptural counsel that this book offers. Kelly guides you in how to take the truth and apply it to your every day crazy life. I am sure this is a book I a going to need to re-read often.”
“It’s really been transformational in my mind and business even in a short time period. It’s sad to realize that many are struggling through life when just with these simple daily principles they could be THRIVING.”
“I love it!!”
“Kelly has jam-packed this book with truth.”
“I already feel myself relaxing in that truth and the tension in my heart has already started to loosen…!”
“Battle Ready dares me to see my “prayer time as a battleground where wars are lost or won.”
BLOGGER GIVEAWAY: I am feeling a little gifty because of Battle Ready.
To enter:Either share the #BattleReadyBook Trailer (this Facebook Post) or feature a guest blog by me coming 2 weeks. Note what you did/want in the comments to be entered to win. I will contact you about the blogging details.
To some degree, I am a planner. This means if a vacation is coming up, I probably have a list going of what to pack. Can’t forget my charger! I also have semi-folded piles of clothes awaiting the suitcase. A hat is laid out, next to the matching shirt and just the right jeans. I always intend on bringing my big bag, my makeup bag and my carry-on bag. I’ll assure you, I’ve got bags. Plenty of bags for the trip.
Yet, Jesus says, “Don’t take any money or a traveler’s bag, or even an extra pair of sandals.” (Lu. 10:4)
What? I love bags.
Even worse, He says this right after proclaiming, “Go now, and remember that I am sending you out as lambs among wolves.” (Lu. 10:3)
Suddenly, it occurs to me: If we lug along bags of stuff we don’ need, the enemy will rob us. Jesus gives us this word of warning, because He doesn’t want us to get pick-pocketed by the enemy.
We don’t need the bazillion things we think we need, we just need abandon. Abandon is our protection.
I’ve seen this play out in my life. When I try to bring all my good plans, they quickly go sour and I feel angry at God. When I try to carry a complete understanding of all that is going on in the world, I scour the news and feel anxiety. When I take with me good intentions to do a whole lot of stuff, rather than stay connected to God in the moment, I get nervous and overwhelmed. When I decide I need to really need to get a big retirement going, I must take my vitamins every night or I have to be like the other moms, I carry unneeded burdens with me.
Keeping up with the world can be a bag of burdens. An open target for the enemy to rob. Like little Red Riding Hoods his ambush almost always comes.
Jesus, though, says we can let go of our bags and let our heart freely follow His footsteps. This abandon is our protection.
What bags do you need to let go of today? What is weighing you down more than it is letting you freely adventure with God? Isn’t it time to really start following Jesus today? Isn’t it time to lighten your load?
I hated how I looked. I hated how I acted. I hated how other people were better than me. I hated that I couldn’t control my family or my future. I hated that no matter how hard I tried, it always felt like it wasn’t enough. I hated how people seemed to do things easily, it was hard for me. I hated how I always had to prove myself. I hated how nothing came naturally to me. I hated how and I never seemed to have enough (money, smarts or looks). I hated how God seemed far and life seemed too tough and I didn’t really know how to get through the hardest times of life…
There was a lot to hate…
Then, I met Jesus. I began to find love.
I started to know He loved me and He wanted me as His daughter.
But I still hated how I was afraid to be me. How I needed to seem not too arrogant to church people. Or, too wild for their liking. Or, too smart in front of the leader of my small group. Or, too Christian in front of my neighborhood friends. I hated how I felt like I was made for more, but couldn’t access it. I hated how I didn’t really know why God created me. I hated that I partially believed God’s truth. Sure I read it in the morning, but I lost it mid-afternoon. I hated that about me. I hated how I tried to do good, but never felt good. I hated all that. I hated how, even though I had Jesus, I still hit hard battles and got emotionally destroyed. With shame, guilt, despair, and fret. Like a bad spiritual hang-over. I hated all that. I hated how I couldn’t really obey God. I hated how, underneath it all – I didn’t trust Him.
Then, I met a moment that changed me. All the circumstances boiled down to this thought: If I let God into my thoughts, won’t He change my life?
I started not to hate myself. Or, God. Or, what I do wrong. I started to invite God into my battles, my problems, and my doubts.
I began to see the ways to cultivate fresh faith, to renew my mind in Christ and to change my outlook on everything that had previously kept me stuck. I began to have: Breakthrough. Today, I can tell you without a doubt, I trust God more than ever. Here I am today, in the heat of a horrible battle (which unfortunately I can’t explain right now) that threatens me – BIG TIME. Yet, I feel at peace. I feel sure. I feel steadfast. I feel the purpose behind it. I am not freaking out.
This is huge. Now, I am far less afraid, doubt-full and stuck.
The lessons God has taught me within my mind – have changed my mind. I’ve discovered strategies, tips, truths and scriptural wisdom that has not left me the same. My life is a testimony. There’s nothing more real than that. It surprises me, but it also gives me so much hope for you. You really can change your thoughts, then change your life. You really can get past your doubts.
You really can be Battle Ready. Today, I feel unstoppable, strong and I live with a purpose.
****Will you share this trailer with your friends? So many are in need. So many need love. So many silently suffer from what I wrote above? Won’t you be the light in the midst of darkness? You never know, it could save someone’s life.
For 3 random sharers of this video, I’ll bless them with a: Battle Ready T-Shirt, a bracelet and a book.
Let’s help others in their pursuit of God, His love and hope.
About Battle Ready
In my new book Battle Ready (Amazon, B&N) I discuss a hands-on scriptural plan that teaches you twelve easy-to-implement, confidence-building mind-sets designed to transform your thoughts and, therefore, your life. Also if you pre-order the book between now and July 3, you’ll receive FREE bonuses including a 7-day printable journal.
I’m going to fire my to-do list. As my assistant, she does an excellent job of keeping me organized, but lately, she’s too good. Every single thought that pops into my brain is ending up on the list which sounds efficient but in reality, means that I am perpetually behind, unable to cross enough off to feel accomplished. My list thinks she is the boss of me and it’s got to stop.
Have you ever felt this way? I love being organized, and I’m almost famous for my lists and color-coded calendars, but I confess that lately all the joy has been sucked out of it. Rather than having items that help me remember the most important things, my lists have lists and all I feel is stress. Ironically, part of me things I am managing the tension by writing everything down. The thing is, I know better. I’ve bitten off more than I can chew on more than one occasion so why haven’t I learned? Why haven’t you?
When I’m feeling this much pressure, I am far from being my best self. I feel anxious, tired, and unmotivated. I lose the will to eat vegetables. I pick fights with people I love. I break out like a teenager. I have a stress twitch under my eye, and I struggle to laugh at jokes. I don’t even enjoy a good Netflix binge, which is when you know things have gone really off course! This is not some mamby pamby issue. Too much pressure and not enough joy is a toxic cocktail for the soul. When we aren’t functioning at our best, we fall out of God’s best for us.
Here is what I do when I need to prison-break out of the to-do list rut. I realize this is another list but go with me for a minute. Start by putting the list away. Then…
1. Do something you think is entirely frivolous. Watch a movie in the middle of the afternoon. Bake a cake you don’t need. Buy a new purse in a bright color. Read a romance novel. Learn the words to an upbeat song and then sing!
2. Change your scenery. Meet a friend or ten for lunch, a Broadway show, or just chips & salsa. Physically remove yourself from your stuck place.
3. Loosen your death grip on control. I promise the world will keep turning if you take a permanent marker and cross all non-essential things off your list. Yes, something will probably fall through the cracks, but when you take care of you, then you can take care of it.
I’ve learned to recognize the signs that indicate when my pressure and stress have reached an unhealthy level. I’m even getting better at noticing it before someone I love has to tell me (grin.) For me, the practice of being frivolous, changing scenery, and loosening control have all helped me move back to center. And that’s just better for everyone.
I’m not going to fire my to-do list today, I’ve decided. I’m merely going to give her a vacation. We both need it.
“Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.” 3 John 1:2