inspiredness TM

Copyright 2013


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Comfort Zones

by theologian Reinhold Niebuhr

Where are your comfort zones? Are they centered in Christ? Or do they center around having all the control to yourself? Do they center around fear, worry and unbelief that the Lord won’t pull through for you?

For most of my life…okay, all of my life…I have known nothing more and nothing less than the comfort zones that hold me in a place of worry, fear, mistrust, unbelief, and total self-control and control of others (and my environment).

The fear of failing has always been one of my central comfort zones. What will people think if they see me fail? I will feel utter humiliation, embarrassment, and I know I’ll be a let-down. I won’t try again because I don’t want to fail again; I don’t want to go through the stomach-wrenching emotions again. Even as I write this my heart is racing and my insides feel like they are about to come out! Why would anyone want to stay in a comfort zone when it’s not a comfort?! Because stepping out of those boundaries means you have to do something uncomfortable, something foreign and something scary. Some people thrive on the adrenaline of doing things like this but others, like myself, can only see the failure in it all and that scares me to my bones.

Something that is helping me to reframe my thoughts on fear and failure is a bit I read from a book titled “99 Things You Wish You Knew Before…Stressing Out!” by Lauren E. Miller. Lauren has spoken at my MOPS group a couple times and has such an inspirational story and a strong, healthy presence.

#47 Failure is a perspective

Did you know failure is simply a label you use when you don’t get certain desirable outcomes in life? When something happens in life that you feel is insufficient or falls short of your expectations or assumptions of how it was supposed to be, from your perception, you often label it as failure; this can lead to “less than” feelings about yourself or others.

If you can watch for this in life and choose to observe yourself making these kinds of choices (to label undesirable outcomes as failure), you give yourself the opportunity to reframe into a positive. Whenever you choose to reframe any negative response into a positive, you open yourself up to creative solutions.

Often you say to yourself, “I can’t do that!” This automatic response instantly aligns yourself with your experience of failure. How about saying, “I just don’t know how to do that yet, but I have the confidence in my ability to learn.” Words are powerful to help you link to your God given strengths and abilities to overcome.

Part of moving through those moments in life that you label as “failure” is to practice the prayer of serenity. “God grant me the grace to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to accept the things I can the wisdom to know the difference.” Any time you resist what is before you, you set yourself up for remaining stuck in life. Yes, you will remain in a place of emotional paralysis each time you do accept the things you cannot change…

Know that whatever label you chose to define a situation in life will directly affect the outcome.

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Turning fear into faith

I am a type-A, anal control freak…and I’m not afraid to admit it. But what do these attributes of my personality really say about me? I’m just plain afraid! I’m afraid of letting go of any control that I think I have. Afraid that if I do my world will come crashing down. As a believer, though, my confidence should be in the Lord, not myself. Where is my faith in Him? Did I just forget that God–the maker of heaven and earth–is much bigger than I am? Where can I find faith?

There are so many instances in the Bible where God showed the people His glory in the midst of impossible situations. He brought Jesus back from the dead!

A book that I’ve been reading takes a look at the issue of turning fear into faith. The author took the story of Jesus walking on water (Matthew 14:22-32) as an instance when Jesus’ disciples let their faith override their fear. Several lessons can be learned from this story.

  • Obey fully– sometimes we don’t know why we feel God is calling us to do something, especially when it’s something that we might not feel compelled to do. We need to obey Him and trust that He has a plan and that we will be taken care of no matter what.
  • Accept God’s comfort– just because we’re obeying God doesn’t mean it’s not going to feel scarey…going into unknown territory isn’t comfortable for many people. Remember what it feels like to have a parent hug you and comfort you after a nightmare? This is what our Father is doing for us.
  • Keep a childlike faith– how many little kids are completely logical in their everyday thinking? Mine still think the bathtub drain will swallow them up if they get too close! As adults we take logic a step too far when it comes to obeying God…we rationalize why it’s not a good idea, why there’s no way that we can live the way God is asking us to live. God asks us to step out of our comfort zones in seemingly illogical ways but having that childlike faith in Him, that he will take care of us, can help us step out of those zones into the unknown.
  • Listen for God’s invitation– “Stepping out in faith outside God’s will is foolishness” (Savage, 2009). Listen to God, have a conversation with Him and hear His invitation.
  • Get out of the boat– Just as Peter took that first step out of the boat to walk on water toward Jesus (Matthew 14:29) we too need to get out of the proverbial boat and walk toward Jesus trusting that He won’t let us drown.
  • Keep focused on Jesus– When Peter took his eyes off Jesus he began to sink…this can very easily happen to us. Our doubts begin to surface and fear wells up in every crevice of our bodies when our eyes aren’t on our Savior.

I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. ~Psalm 16:8

  • Grab God’s hand– you may not feel His hand necessarily in the most expected ways…He might be reaching out via other followers or situations. He has amazing ways of sending us encouragement at just the right times.
  • Recognize the value of storms in our lives– It’s not easy for some to reach out in our darkest hours and it’s definitely not easy to recognize that there is value to these times. But these are the times when our faith has the potential to grow exponentially as does our intimacy with the Lord.
  • Respond with worship– Give credit where credit is deserved. Praise Him, thank Him, tell others of His works in you!

Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” ~Matthew 14:33

Resource: Savage, Jill. Real Moms…Real Jesus: Meet the Friend Who Understands (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2009).


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Anger…

English: A metaphorical visualization of the w...

has a stronghold on my heart and it has for some time. Why? I am finally coming to terms with this but, really it’s quite scary. I’m finding out things about myself that I probably didn’t want to find out…I’ve repressed so much.

Am I really angry or is this a mask for the fear that I feel?

Scared that I’ll be rejected for who I am, scared that I won’t be loved, scared that who I am isn’t acceptable, scared that I will be abandoned. All this fear in my soul started at a very young age, I’m sure. I could go places with this that I really don’t want to, so I won’t. Who am I to blame any one person for this? It is, what it is. We are all sinners, we all have our fears and insecurities.

This is who I am but who’s to say that the Lord can’t change my heart? That process is also frightening and a vulnerable place to be.

I am angry that I am constantly being demanded of…I’m scared that I won’t be able to give what needs to be received.

I am angry when I don’t get time to myself to be myself…I’m scared that who I am won’t be listened to or will be flat-out rejected.

How do I get over this?

Pray.

Lord, this place that I’m coming from is not a happy place…not right now. Help me to see that only You can truly change my heart, that You aren’t out to get me. Help me to see that You love me, cherish me just the way I am; that You won’t reject me; that You are always listening to me even when I’m not making much sense to myself. Help me with my anger, my fear and use these emotions to somehow better my relationships and further Your Kingdom.

Amen.