School summer vacation has an immense undercurrent to it these days. Below the surface of the joy that the children feel about summer vacation from school, there exists a hint of angst when parents think about children being home in summer. It is rare though when a parent openly shares their negative feelings of shame and guilt associated with children being home. There is less structure, less mom time, and less money available because food, entertainment, camp, and vacation expenses go up. Moms, in particular, feel more guilt and shame over not being able to be the fantastic mom portrayed in social media. Therefore, they find it difficult to focus on the positive aspects of connecting with their children and find summer to be a struggle. Two conflicting emotions are colliding! However, God desires to empower us in all the losses and negative feelings we experience during this season. We love our children; however, we may need some assistance in processing our feelings of guilt, shame, inadequacy, and powerlessness that get stirred by the summer break. Join host Sharon Wegman and her guest host Jesukah Beachy (mom of four girls) as they discuss how to bring empowerment to the negative feelings tied to summer break.
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Are You Embracing Winter?
Here in the Northeast, we start dreaming about tropical climates and Island getaways by the beginning of January. By the end of February, we are pretty sure we will buy a beach home, and by the end of March, well, we won’t go there.
For most of us, it is hard for us to embrace winter, both in the natural and in the emotional and spiritual. Spring and summer are easy to embrace because everything is new. New growth, fresh fruit, and new beauty. We need winter in the physical and in the emotional and spiritual because in winter the pests die. It is in the winter that we are forced to deal with the conditions on the inside. So, for all those who are in a “winter” season in their lives, be reminded that winter is only a season. Thank God it doesn’t last forever!
Ecclesiastes 3:1-3 (NIV) There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build.
What is it about the American culture that makes us feel powerless whenever we feel emotional pain? It seems that we have grown weaker in our ability to feel pain with someone, to walk someone through pain, and/or deal with painful topics because it triggers our own painful experiences from our past. We somehow have come to the place where we avoid topics and conversations that are painful for fear of how the other person will react, and so we stay in a powerless place instead of dealing with that which is painful. We have been talking about powerlessness in our communication a lot this week in my office. Our words can reflect powerlessness through the need to argue, correct someone or devalue what someone states because whatever they are saying is triggering emotional pain in us. For example, we may have an unexpected event occur at work, and we leave work feeling powerless and arrive home only to be argumentative, critical or disagreeable with our family or friends. If we were able to express our powerlessness and what we need to our family and friends upon our arrival home, much of our reactions would have been averted. So, how do we keep our own powerlessness and triggers from seeping out onto those whom we interact? Self-awareness is the answer. Self-awareness allows us to understand what we can and cannot deal with on any given day. Jesus himself was very self-aware. He knew what he could and could not deal with on any given day and instead of taking back his power in how he communicated with his friends, he stated what he needed for himself and he stated what he could or could not do. Jesus never needed to argue a point to prove he was right because he simply knew what he needed. Self-awareness is built by daily reflection on my own emotional and spiritual state and moving toward the things that will fill the need or void. When I fail to do self-reflection, I put myself in a position where I will be surprised by how I interact with a person, surprised in my yielding to a temptation or feeling unfulfilled. It’s time to reflect on what you are feeling and needing so that we can walk one another through difficult times instead of reacting to people. So what are you feeling today? What do you need?
“Find a quiet, secluded place, so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.” (Matthew 6:6 Msg)
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.