Do You Hear What I Hear?

Recovering from codependency comes with a lot of discovery and freedom in new areas of life. Part of my recovery has involved surrendering my people pleasing and fear of failure when it comes to the talents God has given me. I love to write, sing, and illustrate but most of my life I’ve kept these to myself due to negative thinking and fear.

Slowly this has begun to change. I no longer want to keep my gifts to myself. It is through these gifts that God has granted me the joy to praise Him. My life’s goal is to honor God and glorify Him. One of my professors in seminary, described praise in this way, “In the Old Testament culture, the word used in place of thanks was praise. That is, one would tell another what God had done, rather than merely saying, ‘Thank You, Lord.'” (Allen, Ronald B., And I Will Praise Him, pg. 64.) When I keep my methods of praise to myself, it’s hard for it to actually be praise. No one gets to experience the goodness of God but me!

In honor of God, recovery, and challenging my fears, I’ll be adding a new category to my blog called, For the Positive Thinker. This category will help those who struggle with negative thinking to replace those false accusations with truth. Scripture memory is a good way to begin storing up truth in your mind and heart so that you’ll have an arsenal prepared when negativity starts creeping in. The way I memorize scripture is through song. I can never remember scriptures if I memorize them in spoken word. They never stick. If you have the same issue, I invite you to take the songs I post and use them to help you begin to treasure God’s word in your heart, and at times more crucially, in your mind when obsessive or negative thinking kicks in.

In the spirit of the holidays, I’m going to start this new category of the blog off with a Christmas Carol. Do You Hear What I Hear is one of my favorite carols and I think it holds relevancy to recovering codependents. The last verse of the song proclaims, “He will bring us goodness and light.” Jesus came to the world and became the light of men that shines in the darkness. Jesus is the Word. Every time you place God’s word in your memory, think about the light that is entering into your body and removing the darkness. Every day as you pursue God and place His word in your heart, you can see more and more how free you are in Him.

Enjoy and have a Merry Christmas!

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Loss of Control

I have bad weeks.

This past weekend – bad weekend. What was so bad about it? Externally, nothing. God is in control and He has blessed me with many great things. I got to go to my last class on church history for the semester on Saturday, discovered my car has an electrical problem (need to get that fixed), I got out of class early and hung out with my roommates and my dog, I went on a walk with my neighbor, and after all that went to bed. I tried a new church on Sunday (I think I’ll stick with my current church), got home before noon, hung out for awhile, and went to a Christmas show… came home with a migraine and nausea so I went right to bed. Woke up the next morning, and wanted to crawl straight back into bed and forget my existence. I was low. I was anxious. I was guilty. About what?

What I didn’t tell you in my weekend summary, is that underneath all the activity, there was a growing feel of pressure, anxiety, stress, and guilt. A nervous feeling of being in a rush and having my time stolen. What I really wanted to do all weekend was nothing. And when I say nothing, I have this image in my mind of slowly waking up with no alarm, sitting on the couch drinking coffee and staring at my Christmas tree, no time commitments, just hours of free time waiting to be filled with relaxation, reading, and creativity. There would be a couple of nice dog walks in there. Work on some manuscripts and enjoying the warmth and safety of home.

I’ve created time slots for mini versions of my day dream into my planner. At the beginning of the day, I have 30 minutes to drink coffee, sit on the couch, and write. At the end of the day, I set aside 30 minutes to sit in a chair and read whatever I’d like. I have intentional time with my dog, Tucker, for both parts of the day and it’s in these times that God refuels me to go back to work and spend the majority of my time earning money to not be homeless.

It’s a nice system I have, however, what happens when a stick gets thrown in the spokes? I mentioned I had class this Saturday. Did I mention it’s from 8-5? Yes, an all day class. Which is basically going to work for another full day. Also, did you catch that my car has an electrical problem? The turn signal, headlights, and interior dashboard lights are all not working. Yaayyyy. That means I have to find time to get to the dealership (which does not have weekend appointments). Also, I tried a new church and had a Christmas show Sunday evening. Does any of that sound like my day dream of the perfect day? No! A thousand times no!

And guess what I did all last week? I dreaded the weekend (and that was before I knew I’d be having car troubles). Last week I was tired. The work days seemed longer and I just needed some time! But I wasn’t getting any because people and institutions were taking it from me. Every week I feel robbed and I choose to focus on the negative rather than the positive of each day. And somehow, doing that leads me to feeling out of control, anxious, resentful, trapped, and guilty.

Work and rest are both important. If I spend all my time at home, how will I be an ambassador for God and have those conversations that really matter? So, my job is not just to refrain from homelessness, it’s to be a walking light of truth to those in darkness.

I know things need to change, but it’s going to be so, so hard. I do love my resentments and I do love possessing my time and working towards that day dream. There are three forms of codependency going on with this part of my life: fear, control, and fantasizing.

To start, I’ll write a letter to God and describe in detail all the things that are bothering me. I’ll surrender them to God and ask Him to remove the feelings of anxiety, fear, resentfulness, and guilt. I’ll ask Him to replace them with His characteristics and to forgive me for idolizing my schedule, my dog, and my dreams over Him. I’ll thank Him for the good work He is going to do. I look forward to it! He’s always done me right in the past and I know for certain He won’t stop now.

Anger: A Coping Mechanism for Something Deeper

I know most of you don’t know me or the looks of me, but believe me when I say the idea of me being angry is hard to accept. Most of the time, I am very chill, joyful, and easy going. However, there are the days… the last straw days… where everything is terrible. And the world and all its incompetencies have aimed their ridiculous arrows at my innocent, productive life.

A last straw day can include any of the following (and more):

Family members disappointing you and they have done it for the very last time, terrible drivers that make you late to work… for the very last time, coworkers that can’t seem to get a clue… and today is the last day you’re going to put up with it. The handle to your purse gets caught in the doorknob and jerks you backwards… the doorknob is toast. It’s the Day of Last Straws.

The Day of Last Straws doesn’t begin like this. It starts with an off feeling. I know I don’t feel right but I can’t put my finger on why. Then something will happen to spark the impending blaze.

For me, it can look like this:

In the morning, I’ll walk into the kitchen, and behold, piles of other people’s dirty dishes from last night! I’ll open the dishwasher to put a glass in there. Behold! An empty dishwasher that all those dishes could be in!

Now, on a normal day, I don’t mind either putting the dirty dishes in the dishwasher or just leaving them for whoever it is to take care of… but on last straw days? No, no, no. On those days, leaving dishes out when there’s an empty dishwasher is a murderous crime to my being and it was done with malicious intent and planning. Sparks of righteous indignation clash together from my toes and ignite into a rage that surges to my face.

After the fire is lit, it doesn’t matter what happens next… it’s annoying and an outrage. Someone could walk wrong, breathe wrong, eat wrong, say something – anything, and I’m beyond irritated.

Usually, I’m able to get out of the house without saying anything stupid while I’m in this emotion. But the car… oh, the car. The moment I pull into traffic, I’m in a sea of incompetency that could refill the Mediterranean if need be. The feelings of rage are at peak, the dialogue in my head is running about all the injustices being done to me today, and then – I open my mouth. Expletives, accusations, and slander fly out of my mouth into a thick cloud of anger, all inside the compact box that is my car. Then, I’ll feel horrible and put on some Christian music to try and turn this weird surge of anger around. I’ll be singing along and then shout an obscenity at someone going 20 miles under the speed limit (why do they do this?). This is some serious James 3 stuff right here.

By the time I pull into work, I feel horrible and basically, the cure is going to bed that night and waking up to a new day.

I’ve been experiencing more of these bouts of anger the past couple of months than I can remember ever before. Usually what this means is that God wants me to face something and work through it. When we move into our pain and seek healing, God is gracious and walks with us in the midst. I’ve found that when I am willing to step into the hurt to discover the depths of what’s there, the ongoing misery I’ve been feeling (for most of my life) releases. Living life without those pieces of misery is phenomenal. It’s so worth taking a look into the stuff we want to run and hide from.

So, if you have a Last Straw Day, here are a few tips I received from my counselor on how to work through the misery in the moment.

First, when you feel angry and the dialogue has started in your head, pause.

Anger comes from shame. There is something about yourself that you don’t like, and your ego is blocking you from the shame by placing it on others. The reason your ego does this is because it’s crucial to your survival for you to like yourself. If you didn’t, what’s motivating you to live? We take what we dislike about ourselves and we throw it away from us. It’s time to take it back and own it.

After you pause, ask yourself, what is it that I don’t like about myself right now? If you can’t think of anything, ask God to show you in His divine, perfect will. This is a small, but important step towards overcoming rage.

Godspeed and know I’ll be doing the same!