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Who Are You Listening To?

Who Are You Listening To?

Doing new things can be scary. In fact, most people sit across from me saying that they don’t like change and I tell them, “You are pretty normal. Most people don’t like change.” In fact, most people would venture to say that while they want to change their lives, the changes necessary for change are daunting and overwhelming. It feels more comfortable to do things as we have always done things; however, when we examine the emotional, spiritual, physical, and relational costs of not making changes, the price is much higher than if one never made adjustments.

There is a story in the Bible about what happened to the children of Israel when they arrived at their promised land after being released from slavery and abuses of all kinds. They had lived as victims for generations, and while they saw God’s hand repeatedly rescuing them as they exited their abusive captivity, it was hard for them to visualize being able to take the necessary steps to receive the promised land. Twelve were sent into the area to see what God wanted to give them and, of the twelve, only two were confident that the same God who had rescued them from slavery would enable them to be strong enough to make the changes necessary to access the promised land. You can read about this story in the book of Exodus.

It’s hard to think differently than we have been taught. We are taught how to live by our parents, our grandparents, our teachers in school, friends, our culture, etc., etc.. Sometimes it’s hard to imagine that we are making decisions based on things that someone told us repeatedly that weren’t true. The children of Israel had been told lies about their worth in captivity, and so when they were brought to the crossing over point, they could not do it because of their old beliefs about who they were won over what God had been telling them and showing them. God literally had to keep them in a holding pattern for 40 years until all of the old ways of thinking had died and the next generation who had not lived as slaves knew their worth. They saw God as their daily provider and were able to make a choice to make changes.

What about you? Are you looking at crossing over into the promised land and your old thinking is keeping you from making the necessary changes? Where did those thoughts come from? Where did you collect them from in life? Do they match what God says about you? In my own personal experience, each time I come to the threshold of new, I have to invite God into my listening process, or I could easily listen to the old recordings from my past. Rarely do I see how each thing will play out as I make decisions, but as the Bible states, “ the steps of the righteous are ordered by the Lord.” Each new step I take into a new promised land more is revealed and released that I would never have seen until I crossed over. Like Joshua and Caleb (the two of the twelve that knew they could cross over), I need to surround myself with friends who believe the same things so that their thoughts and words can spur me on to new.

Change is hard. Whose beliefs are you listening to today? God is bigger than anything you have to change.

I Kicked A Snake Today

Today I kicked a snake on my morning walk with the dog. I felt pretty proud of myself when I looked back to see what I had just stumbled over on the sidewalk. I let out a mini yelp when I saw the foreign object I stumbled over was a snake flicking it’s tongue, but then I thought to myself, “ why am I yelling? I already kicked a snake and there is nothing of which to be fearful of after the fact.” I would have been fearful of the snake had I seen it before I kicked it, but after the fact the same level of fear was not there.
This same phenomena is true with fear of many other things. We fear what could happen and yet rarely does that fear come true, but somehow a negative emotion from our past is what we associate with that fear and from that day forward, we associated the feeling of a negative emotion with fear and specific things. When I was a child I learned to fear roller coasters from a negative experience at age five and I assumed I did not like roller coasters. At age five I begged my mother to take me on a roller coaster at a small local amusement park and the ride did not turn out well. My mother could barely hold me into the coaster because the straps were not designed for a five year old and on one occasion I almost fell out of the coaster. Between my mother’s fear and my physical fear I was quite sure I did not like roller coasters for many years. I was avoiding the feeling I felt at age five that were quite traumatic. I tried roller coasters again at age 15 and discovered I loved the thrill more than I felt fear and I would have never known it if I continued to avoid that feeling of fear.
Paul says it this way in I Corinthians 13 when he talks of making decisions based on emotions. “11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” What are your childhood or adult fears that you continue to hold onto as a result of a bad experience? Under what conditions will you decide to release that fear? Here is what I know to be true when it comes to fear; in addition to avoiding possible negative feelings, we may be avoiding joy and empowerment too. Kicking the snake today made me slightly more empowered in dealing with my fear of snakes. Whether it was a fluke or not, kicking the snake made me feel more in empowered with my fear of snakes. What fear is holding you back from joy and empowerment? And by the way, I am pretty sure I will never love snakes.

My Break-Up Letter with Fear


The other day, some friends and I were sitting around a table talking about the person we want to be and the goals we have in life; however, fear always seems to stand in the way like a controlling partner. In the course of conversation, my friend Cristina declared, “ I just feel like I need to write a breakup letter with fear!!” and all of us exclaimed in unison that we felt this to be a great idea. I, of course, thought it to be a wonderful therapeutic exercise for clients. So this is my break up letter with fear and it is dedicated to Cristina, whose idea birthed much truth. Go write your own break up letter with fear after reading mine.

Dear fear,
This letter has been a long time coming and I am finally strong enough to say goodbye to you: GOODBYE! I hate you and what you have done to me!! I don’t need you anymore and I don’t want you anymore! I used you to protect me from scary things for so long, that letting you go feels scary and freeing at the same time. I remember how I used you to get comfort from people by telling people about what you were doing to me and people would bring me comfort. I would use you as an excuse to not do things I didn’t want to do and I would use you to keep me in a controlled little box that felt safe. But, no matter what, you kept me alone and abandoned when I was in your box. It was a sick, sick relationship!! It makes my stomach turn when I think of all the things I let you do to me. I let you control who I talked to, when I talked to them, and what I would talk about. I let you control when I went out, when I went to bed, where I would go, what I would eat, and how much money I could spend. I let you determine my worth, my value and my honor because I would always be thinking of what you would think about it if I let those things come into me. Fear, you were always in my thoughts! I ran everything I said and did through your twisted filter. Every education decision, career decision, relationship decision, etc, etc.. I am so tired of you running and ruining my life and I am not going to let you manipulate me any longer! You manipulated me to comply to you so many times I can not even count and you shamed me and accused me of things that were not true to get me to comply to you. The sad truth is that after being with you I wouldn’t know what was right or wrong! Seven people could be telling me one thing and you could be telling me another and I would believe you and trust you more than seven other people telling me loving things! You are evil and no longer am I going to choose evil over the voice of love!! I am choosing love and all that means over you. Love will kick you out and love will make good decisions for me! Love will propel me toward my future and will not abandon me! And most of all love will give me hope that no matter what happens, He will work it out and things will be to my benefit. Love honors me, values me, protects me, blesses me and love has never failed me.
So fear, this is your official break up letter. Do not try to contact me again because I do not want to converse with you any further! You will only try to confuse me into believing you are right, but I see the fruit of my relationship with you and it is rotten. By the way, that person named Love, His real name is GOD and He rocks my world!

1 John 4:18 The Message (MSG)
17-18 God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love.

Turning Anxiety into Excitement?

Turning Anxiety into Excitement?

On a recent trip to NYC, I had the privilege of meeting with a Broadway star with the group of students I was chaperoning. The actress had played the lead female role in plays such as Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, The Little Mermaid, and other amazing shows and she chose to share with the teens how she dealt with anxiety. She made an interesting statement by stating to the students, “ I figure the anxiety I feel when I go out on the stage is the very sign I need to acknowledge. My feelings of anxiety is not really anxiety, but the thing I was born to do and then I take that anxiety and turn it into excitement.” I am pretty sure most of the teens I was with had no idea what she was actually stating to them, but as I sat there with my typical therapist analysis running through my thoughts, I pondered to myself, “Yes, that is very true. The very area in which there is tension is the very area we need to move toward, because the area that holds tension and resistance is generally where we need to go.”

Now gentle reader, do not jump ahead of me in your anxious thoughts. I am not speaking of becoming a snake handler when we fear snakes; however, I am speaking of the areas we fear confronting inside of ourselves and others. Resistance and anxiety, and how we avoid them, are fears wrapped up with a bow preventing us from acknowledging what could happen if we successfully dealt with our fears. In our story today, the woman who faced her fears became a Broadway star. What will happen to you when you face your fears? What will happen when we come to see that the anxiety that is stirred to the surface regarding a person, place or thing is really a shadow of what light can come? Every shadow we feel or see comes as a result of light. Every feeling of resistance within us is the shadow of the freedom and light that could come. Spiritually, God says that when we are weak, He is stronger inside of us because His light and His power can be shown to us and to others when we still move toward that thing we fear.

The Apostle Paul explains it this way in 2 Corinthians 12: 7 -10 The Message (MSG):
7-10 Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me,
My grace is enough; it’s all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness.
Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.

Turn your anxiety into excitement. You are moving toward the light. You are moving toward freedom. You are moving toward who you were created to be.