Tag Archives: life

Chasing Anger and Pain Away

If this continued, I’d have to ask my husband to take me to the hospital. My heart was racing, my blood pressure was probably through the roof and I was almost doubled over from stomach pain. In the midst of a full blown panic attack, my feelings were so frightening, overwhelming my heart to the point of desperation and misery.

I kept telling myself my feelings were a prison of my own making trapping me within my past experiences, trauma and poor decisions. My skin felt like a thousand ants were crawling all over it as I sat on my bed, stroking my dog, trying to remind myself that feelings can also be amazing, rejuvenating and liberating. That’s what they had been when I walked down the aisle to marry Richard, my beloved husband.

So what do we do with our negative emotions? They move around us like a wind, sometimes at hurricane speed threatening to topple the foundation of who we are.

Frustration, pain and disappointment rob us of our joy and continually haunt us. They become a nightmare when they overtake your soul, heart and mind. This internal emptiness can steal your attention from God, negate God’s good plan for your life or make you feel like you will never be enough. Most importantly, they stifle our God-given desire to live boldly.

When negative emotions play havoc with us, when they show up on our doorstep, we don’t have to answer the door and invite them in forever. You are never obligated to say, “Come on in and make yourself at home.” You don’t have to be ambushed by a broken heart, nor do you have bury your dreams. Our tendency is to avoid pain, yet when we do that, we also stall the opportunity for growth and renewal.

So just what are we to do with these negative feelings? The key to keep challenging, draining thoughts in check is not to deny them, but to lavish them with compassion and guide them from your spirit-led self.

What if Jesus wanted you to extend compassion not just to your neighbors, but also to the damaging thoughts harbored in your heart that get in the way of you becoming all God wants for you? The idea of befriending negative emotions sounds counter-intuitive, but has criticizing or rejecting parts of yourself ever made you better? Take time to ask, “God, what do you think this is? What does your Word say about making a friend of this negative feeling?”

We can discern the answer by asking ourselves a few questions.

  • Is what I am feeling causing me to dwell on what is “true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy” (Phil 4:8) or lesser things? Are my emotions leading me to life or death?
  • Are they reinforcing God’s truth? Or are they backed by Satan’s lies?
  • Are they helping me to love God (and others) with all my heart? Or are they causing me to pull away from the love of God?

God has graciously called us to do all things in love. Anything contending against that love should be heart-checked. That’s because sadness can quickly turn into isolation. Rejection becomes depression. Anger leads us to division. Loneliness keeps us bottled up.

Let God’s grace wash over your negative feelings and create space for internal transformation. With God’s word as your guide, you extend hospitality to those demanding feelings deep inside, eliminating the derision; instead creating space for internal transformation.

Identity Crisis

It wasn’t the “who am I” identity crisis occupying my life for the last month. I’m not sitting around contemplating where I fit in this world. No, I was truly having trouble actually proving who I was.

With my license about to expire, my goal was to renew it with a REAL ID. For those of you not familiar, this is a federally compliant version of your old driver’s license needed after Sept 30, 2020 to get on an airplane or to visit certain governmental buildings. There are strict federal laws governing each state: Anyone requesting a REAL ID needs to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt who they really are.

My problem was I let my passport expire. I read up on the items needed instead. One of them was a birth certificate. I searched my house for weeks trying to find a document I wasn’t even certain I had. Finally, I gave up and obtained a new one from the county where I was born.

As women, we also have to prove our name change for every driver’s license. So I packed up my marriage license, my birth certificate, social security card and proof of my address before heading out to the DMV. Yet, I was still rejected because I brought my marriage license not a certified copy of my marriage certificate. Never mind this was the very document I used years ago to change my driver’s license, my passport, my social security card, all my bank accounts – you get the idea. The DMV’s logic seemed circular to me, but I did all that in a pre-911 world when I guess the government was more lax about my identity.

I was upset leaving the DMV for not even thinking about obtaining a state issued copy of my marriage certificate. I didn’t think the bar would be so high to prove I am me. Despite this huge frustration, I also was thankful God knows who I am, he has welcomed me into his family and no matter how many names I have, he has only one for me: daughter.

Yes, I was in the midst of an identity crisis of biblical proportions, but also felt God giving me a lesson about who he is and who I was called to be – his! Scripture clearly conveys God’s heart for the poor, the oppressed, the orphaned and yes, the rejected. He treasures those of us who have been rejected and made a way to adopt us into the family of God. He never wants us thinking we are left out any longer. Daughters, heirs of God, don’t whine and beg; they pray and believe in God’s love, power and affection.

My identity is firmly established in the finished work of Christ on the cross. His overwhelming victory gives me a place at his table of grace. 1 Peter 2:9 remind us: But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (NIV)

Approaching the clerk at the DMV, I was filled with anxiousness and fear of rejection. But when I approach the throne of God’s grace, I am assured of God’s welcome and loving embrace. I will always be his forever, no matter what. That thought leaves me speechless, but in a totally different way than I was at the DMV. My wordless response there was of anger and disappointment that I had failed to prove who I was. Accepting my identity in Christ leaves me speechless in humble, yet awe-inspiring gratitude.

As an heir of Christ, I have nothing to prove – not even who I am – and all of eternity to live out that identity.

Nothing Else in the World

I never questioned her loyalty until that day. Since the time I purchased her, Lily, my German Shepherd, had developed endearing qualities to proclaim her loyalty. One of my favorites always remains the time she and my husband, Richard, were walking through our neighborhood. Driving past them on my way home from the grocery store, I stopped for a second to call out a hello. With that accomplished, I resumed driving home until in my rearview mirror, I noticed Lily hated my departure. She was pulling my husband up the hill in attempt to catch up with me. In order to prevent Richard from having a heart attack, I stopped and waited until both were in the car.

On that day at the doggie park, Lily wasn’t showing any loyalty. It was her favorite spot on earth, and she did not want to leave. So instead of obeying my command to come, she bolted away. For over 15 minutes, I pleaded with her to obey or at least get close enough for me to grab her collar. She was so disobedient that even went I left her alone in the park, she wouldn’t come to the gate so we could go home.

I sometimes can see myself in Lily’s behavior. I have a tendency to want my own way, to be disloyal to my friends when it suits me. Which isn’t to say I’m a back-stabbing traitor. No, it means sometimes I miss out on the joys of being a reliable friend.

Lily and I have a strong bond, yet she hurt me. I wanted her close by me, to listen to what I said, to enjoy following me. That’s what friends do. You stick close by, you listen to what your friend says, you laugh when they laugh and cry when they cry. Being a loyal friend means your relationship makes you stronger than you would be without it. You love harder, laugh louder, live richer and become more together than you could ever be by yourselves.

This isn’t for the faint of heart, much like trying to train a dog – which I sadly found out that day. Life is full of twists and turns and staying in step with someone else is not easy. We struggle to be vulnerable to another especially when the way we want to go isn’t the same as our friends. We battle with ways of feeling safe, secure and significant with another all the while trying to get our own needs met. We tend to want our hurts to be addressed rather than helping others through theirs. It is so difficult to lay your heart into someone’s hands and say, “I trust you with all of this,” and have that person do the same.

There are times in our friendships when we must heed to the other person’s instructions. Lily lacked the perspective I did. A treat was awaiting her at home, along with her dinner and an evening of warm snuggles. It was time to leave the park to enjoy some of these other delights.

Proverbs 18: 24 tells us, “One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Friendships never just happen – they are forged. They are knit together by leaning into each other, by staying close, by experiencing life’s bitter and sweet moments together. And it means standing by one another even when disappointment sets in.

I eventually got a leash on Lily and we went home to an enjoyable evening. Despite her unfaithfulness, I remained loyal to her, but I learned to create a fulfilling friendship, sometimes you have to work at it – sometimes you have to chase after it. It’s worth it, because being close to another human being matters like nothing else in the world.