Strategies to go into Thanksgiving with Confidence

I’ve talked to a handful of women in the last couple of weeks begging the question – help me with Thanksgiving!!!  What am I going to DO?!

I hear you.  Navigating extended family and recovery work is freakin insane.  Some of the strategies Jason and I used early on in our process we still use today.  If I’m honest – which I will be – I still struggle with the holidays.  #workinprogress  It isn’t nearly as difficult as it used to be but it still takes intentional effort on our parts and a lot of conversations before, during and after.

Before I get to the strategies that can help us navigate the holidays with greater ease – let’s talk about why the holidays can be so hard.  I’ve narrowed it down to four big reasons and I want you to see if any of these hit home for you.  I know there are others out there and would love to hear what they are in the comments section below –

The pretend factor – Questions abound for us women as we are working through the early and middle stages of betrayal – Will what has happened to me be the elephant in the room?  Who knows what?  Will someone say something that will either embarrass me or send me to my room crying?

The space factor – Will I have space to grieve and to feel the emotions I need to feel with so many people around and so many activities going on?

The little boy factor – Will my husband assume the role he played in his family of origin once we are with his family?  Will he become enmeshed again with his mom while we are there?  Will he do whatever it takes – even throwing me under the bus – to get love and acceptance from his dad?

The we are changing factor – Just because we are changing (and aren’t we so glad that we have the capacity to do so!) doesn’t mean that anyone else around us is changing.  Unfortunately when one person changes in a family system – it can cause a disequilibrium and others in the family will react (for better or worse) to this change.  I hear a lot about negative reactions to the positive changes women are making which can be confusing for women that are working so hard to set boundaries, understand their limits, use their voices, etc.

As I tell the women I work with in my groups as well as in the one to one sessions I do – Having the insight and awareness is half the battle.  Being able to name what is going on is HUGE.  So if none of these factors above hit home – think about what might be playing in.  Name it.

So now for the fun stuff.  Let’s talk about what we can do to go into Thanksgiving week being grounded, more confident and less stressed.

Strategy #1 – Honor your feelings + name your reason.  Be real with yourself and at least one other person that you deem safe (preferably your husband but depending on his recovery work and where you guys are at in the journey – this might need to be one of your go-to girls or a friend or mentor, etc.) as to how you are feeling.

I am not saying that you are going to base your every move on your feelings.  No.  But I want you to stay connected with yourself.  Honor what you are feeling, name it, and share it.

Sometimes we go to a holiday gathering not because we are excited and looking forward to it.  Instead – we might feel scared, dreadful, sad – but we do it anyways.  And there is a reason.  Name it.  It might be that your kids get to spend time with their cousins or grandparents.  It might be that you want to honor your parents or his parents.  Keep the reason in mind and continue to honor how you feel as you walk through the event.

Strategy #2 – Ask yourself what YOU think, want, need and feel.  I talk about this briefly in the Rescued workbook in the self-care chapter.  I think it’s important to put everyone else’s needs and desires in a box when we do this exercise.  All we are doing is exploring what we think – want – need – feel.  And then after we explore – we can start to piece together the best way to move forward.

For example – recently I was talking to someone that shared she and her husband are separated and she didn’t know what to do about Thanksgiving and navigating his extended family and her extended family.  As we talked – I asked her – what do you need?  And what she really wanted and needed was permission to not have to go to her in-laws.  She knew it would be too difficult for her heart.  What this meant was she would have her littles with her family for part of the day and he would have them with his family for part of the day.  Oh the grief that she felt.  No momma wants to be without her kids for thanksgiving – and she also knew what her heart could tolerate and heading to the in-laws and faking it – not tolerable this year.

Strategy #3 – Have a plan.  Before the gathering (or before you leave for the trip or before your guests arrive for the week) – sit down with your husband and talk about the best way to stay connected and work as a team.  Jason and I still do this before every trip or holiday – whether it’s going to be just the 5 of us or the 5 of us plus the rest of our crazy family.

For instance, we plan out good times to step away and do a check-in (for us, it’s usually on a morning run).  Jason likes to get away for some alone time (introvert alert!) almost every day and I step up and watch the boys.  We talk about how we might need to protect ourselves emotionally and what our limits are in conversations, etc.

My hope is that each of you can approach next week feeling empowered, connected to yourself and more confident than in years past.  You can click here and here for some other posts that I’ve written in the past as you prepare your game plan.

You got this girl!

And as always, I’d love to hear your thoughts or answer your questions – just comment below and I will respond.

xo – Shelley

Photo credits here and here

I’m a better person when…

Hey Y’all – before I get into this short and sweet blog post for today – just three quick things I want you to be aware of. 

First – there are two new groups starting in November.  If you are interested at all in one of these groups – I would love to hear from you. 

Second – the Restore Workshop is just around the corner!  Would love for you to join me there – it’s a packed weekend and I promise you will walk away with so much hope and clarity as to your next steps to move forward toward wholeness and freedom!

Third – I enjoyed being on this podcast a couple of weeks ago.  If you listen to it – you might notice it sounds like I am running around during the first 5-6 minutes of the show.  And that’s because I WAS.  I was on my land-line and the battery was low (and beeping) and I was literally running around the house from room to room looking for the 2nd phone which took me a loooooong while to find.  Oh my goodness – talk about terrible timing.

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It was last Sunday at church that I thought these 5 words – “I’m a better person when…”  I found myself actually looking for people I knew to say “hi” to in the hallways after church versus my usual – keeping my head down, collecting my kids and flying out the door.

I thought to myself – I am a better person when I actually make an intentional effort to connect with people I know.

Another reminder that while isolation is always easier – it’s not in any kind of way better.

And then I started to wonder – what else makes me a better person?  So I started compiling a list and here is the start of it –

I’m a better person when…

  • I get up before my kids and have even just 5-10 minutes to connect with myself and God before my day gets underway.
  • I carve out space to exercise.
  • I call the mail lady by name and say a word or ten when I see her at my door or on the street.
  • I have food in my pantry and in my fridge.
  • I have clear boundaries and expectations with my children and I stick to what I say.
  • I make my Friday morning date with Jason a priority.
  • I reach for a vegetable instead of a slice of cake. (Which I just indulged in and loved every bite!  haha!  Maybe I should remove this one from my list.)
  • I carve out time at the end of the day to cuddle with each of my boys once they are in bed.
  • I map out my week by Sunday evenings – just so there are no surprises.
  • I have margin in my day (which I haven’t had in the last 10 days or so – eeks!).

That is literally the very beginning of what could turn into a long list.  I’d love for you to join me in thinking this through as you go about your day and then sharing with me – what are the things that make you a better you.

And then – let’s go do them (minus subbing the veggies for cake) – ’cause we all need a little cake in our lives!

xo – Shelley

embracing this season

As my boys slowly return to school and I find myself getting a little more margin in my life – I am grateful to have some space to breathe.

I love summer.  I love the warmth.  I love the slowing down of life.  I love being with my boys.

I also love it when they go back to school.

And I always look back at the summer and wonder – How did I get by?  How did I DO it?

(And for those of you that home school – all I can say is – you, my dear ones, are the HEROES during this time of year.  I have always thought that home schooling would be SO cool, SO amazing, SO the thing for me.

Until I drop off my kids that first day and limp home, licking my wounds from the summer, and I realize – I almost didn’t make it, once again.)

Picking up where I left off earlier this month – I am in a season girls.  I have been fighting it and resisting it.  Doing anything and everything in my power to deny that it’s a rough one.

All up until last week, the first week of school, when I took that breath, sat down and then realized – this isn’t going away anytime soon.

Maybe that is the first step in surrendering these ugly seasons – agreeing that they are indeed right in front of us and not magically disappearing.

As for what to do next – well – I decided I need to name it.  If I was going to get comfortable in this season of wading through some tough parenting and some tough fighting with Jason – I needed a word (or several) for it.

(As a side note – recognize that there is power in naming things.  Whether we are naming our children when they are born, Adam naming all the living creatures that God created, or God renaming people in the Bible – there is power and authority when we call it what it is.)

So, last Thursday – Norman and I went on a bike ride/run (Norms doesn’t start preschool until next week.  Can you guys guess who was riding the bike and who was running?!) and I was asking God – what shall we call this season you have me in?

I started thinking through the best words to describe where I’m at – sh%# show would work but I just didn’t feel like that was the most godly of descriptions to use.  So I thought longer and deeper as Norman started to complain about his legs getting tired while he was biking (Y’all – did you really think I would make my five year old run while I rode the bike?!).

Patience…perseverance…steadfastness…surrender…endurance…

I don’t like those words.  I mostly don’t like perseverance.  And it was perseverance that I kept circling back to as I asked God – is this the word you have for me?

Aaaaaaaaand – it was just about then that I look down and Norman has a flat tire and is crying to go home.

I start crying, too.

I want to go home, too.

Why is everything SO hard?!  For crying out loud (literally) – why can’t I just go on a run to try to get grounded and feel good without it turning into a sh%# show?!

I walked in circles, took some deep breaths, and then told myself – oh, and Norman (since he was standing right there with his bike) – we’d make it home.  One way or another, we would.  It might take some serious perseverance (for the love!), but we would get there.

And isn’t this exactly what God is saying to us?  While we lose hope, feel despair and depression, wonder what in the world is going on – God is right there beside us telling us we will make it home.  One way or another we will get there and He’s not going to leave us until we do.

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Some of you might be in a winter season of your soul like me.  If you are – I encourage you to name it.  Start by simply asking God – what in the world are we going to name this season?  You might be surprised with what comes to mind as you present that question to Him.

Then – look up the word in your concordance in the back of your Bible.  You can use this website to help you look up verses and start to pick apart the meanings of the Greek and Hebrew words used.

That’s what I’m working on this week before the boys wake up in the morning and here is a little of what I have learned:

  • perseverance means to bear up courageously under suffering (Matthew 24:13).
  • it also means hopeful endurance (Romans 2:6-7) and is the opposite of cowardice or despondency
  • there is a connotation of steadfastness (1 Cor 15:58) and refers to someone that is fixed in purpose
  • another Greek word for perseverance refers to being patient and brave in enduring misfortunes and troubles; to have long patience (Hebrews 6:15)
  • and last – when we persevere – the result is completeness and wholeness (James 1:2-4)

Maybe I’m starting to grow fond of the word perseverance.  If the end result is wholeness and completeness – I think I’m game to sit in this a little longer.

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Would love to hear your heart on this.  What season are you in?  What has it looked like to let go and allow it to be rather than fighting it and denying it?  xo – Shelley

 

On What I’m Learning About Worthiness – Part 3

Alright ladies, I wanted to loop back to a topic I’ve mentioned several times here recently on the blog, that is oh-so-close to my heart – Worthiness.  If you need a quick refresher, you can read this blog post as well as this one and you’ll be ready to go.

Before we dig in to part three of worthiness – I want to make sure each of you knows about the Restore workshop in Orange County, CA in just over three weeks.  This is a workshop specifically designed for women desiring healing after betrayal.  There is an incredible team of women there that have walked this journey and are ready to support you as you take your next step toward healing.  Speaking of worthiness – you are worthy of whatever it might take to get to this workshop.  There is so much healing, hope and encouragement awaiting those that attend!

Okay, so here we go:  I shared in the last worthiness post about one of the lies that I repeat to myself over and over again. The lie is – “I’m a pig”. I shared about where this lie came from – really the situations in my past that gave this lie a place to reside in my soul.

Remember, these situations are born out of sin. Not just others sins but my sins as well.

When we begin to believe these lies, we also begin to isolate ourselves and self-protect. Because let’s get honest – do we really want others to hear what we really think about ourselves? Absolutely not. The lies represent deep hurts and fears. They represent our shame.

So we start to hold onto them and protect them. We start to change how we present ourselves to the world in order to make sure they stay our little secrets. We’ll call these changes we make the masks we wear.

This, my friends, is quite the opposite of living a vulnerable and authentic life.

Do you see how crafty Satan is? Scary, huh.

As I’ve stated many-a-times here – the antithesis to shame is intimacy. Remember, intimacy means fully knowing another and being fully known.  Intimacy is how we discard the masks and get real about ourselves, our lives, and who we really are on the inside.

I want to make sure we are all on the same page – the lies we hear in our heads lead to shame, isolation and insecurity. With that being said, the best way we can work through them is via intimacy and connection with God, self and others.

So guess what it’s time to do – it’s time to drag those lies into the light and share them with others. You can do that here (as I did in the last blog post) but I also want you to do it with a trusted friend that knows you well.  Put on your brave pants ladies!  You can do this!

Jason is working on a book and as I was proofing it last week, I was shaken by something he shares.  He mentions faulty core beliefs which are the same as the lies I talk about in this post.  Here is what Jason says:

The point here is that these faulty core beliefs will be resident as adults, and thus incorporated into a marriage. As you can imagine, sexual betrayal then does a number on these beliefs, further engraining them into our consciousness. In my opinion, this is the most acute, most insidious, most tragic damage done by sexual betrayal. As husbands we are called to create a space where our wives’ deepest hurts and the most scarring wounds on their souls can be healed, covered, smoothed, and renewed….Instead, betrayal accomplishes nearly the exact opposite.

I believe this is a really poignant reminder as to why we must work through these lies.  Unfortunately, betrayal does do the exact opposite of what God intends to occur in marriage.  Instead of the marriage being that safe place to work toward sanctification; when betrayal strikes, it becomes the unsafe place where the lies satan wants us to believe become cemented in.

So here is your homework:  What I’d love for you to continue to do with me is to work on these lies.  Share them here.  Confess them to God and to someone you trust.

Also, don’t forget to look backward from the lie and identify what experiences caused you to believe what you believe (think the origin of the lie or the wound).  In addition, see if you can identify how you’ve changed who you are (think:  the mask you wear) in order to make sure people don’t start to pick up on the lies you believe about yourself. (And if you are super nerdy like me, you can come up with a table where you keep track of all these things – the wound, the lie and the mask.)

One of my groups has gotten quite good at naming these masks – here are a couple to choose from:  perfect christian mask, all together mom mask, the tidied house mask.

We talk ALL about this at the Restore workshop as we walk toward tapping into our God-given worthiness.  I’d love for you to join me there if you want to learn more.

Once you have exposed your lies, the final step is to change them into empowering beliefs.  I’m going to loop back to this in part four of the worthiness series and share with you exactly how to do this.

xo-Shelley

 

 

On What I’m Learning About Worthiness – Part 2

In the last blog post, I shared a bit about worthiness. I believe that the antithesis of worthiness is insecurity. And for any of you that have followed me here, you know insecurity has been a battle for me.

It wasn’t that long ago that I said enough is enough and I hired a life coach to help me dig into this insecurity stuff and see if I could get to the bottom of it.

I have the feeling I’m at the beginning of this insecurity to worthiness journey. It’s complicated for sure and it’s going to be a process.

Here are a couple of things that I’m learning –

  • Repeating to myself that I’m worthy isn’t enough. What I’m finding is – I need to identify the lies I’m repeating to myself and then work forward and backward from there.
  • By backward, I mean where did those lies come from? What happened in my past that solidified those lies (in other words, what are the wounds I’ve endured that embedded those lies in my head)?
  • By forward, I mean how am I isolating myself and not showing the real me based on the lies I believe about myself? And how can I replace those negative beliefs (or lies) with empowering beliefs in order to change the script in my head?

Clearly, this is a process and it isn’t something I’m going to work through quickly.

What I started doing was simply reserving space in my journal to start writing down the lies that I hear in my head about myself. It’s been sobering to see them in black and white.

For instance, a couple of weeks ago, I had just finished with a group call and I felt hungry. And probably more than physical hunger, I also felt emotionally drained. I was searching for something to replenish me.

I grabbed a box of crackers from the kitchen and stood at the bar and started eating them. As I was putting one cracker in my mouth after another, I heard myself say, “I’m a pig.” Girls, who knows how many times I’ve heard that voice – that I’m a pig. What I do know is – it’s been hundreds of times. And guess what – I haven’t even been aware of it! That day in the kitchen, everything changed. Because I heard the voice loud and I ran to my journal and wrote it down. “I’m a pig.” As I looked at my (at that time) short list of words, I was overcome with how I’ve treated myself. No wonder I am struggling so much with insecurity!

I then started to wonder – where did that lie come from? At what point in my life did I start to hear that lie? How long have I been carrying it around, allowing it to weigh me down?

The first memory that came to mind was of me and one of my brothers playing ping-pong in our garage when I was a youngster. I was a pretty darn good ping-pong player (thank you very much!) and I remember he was becoming frustrated with my apparent expertise in the game (I’m being sarcastic, ladies). He was keeping score of our game on the wall of the garage and at one point, he walked over to my name scribbled on the garage wall and wrote next to my name “fatty”.

Other memories came to mind as well – insinuations that I needed to lose a few here and there.

What I want you ladies to keep in mind is it doesn’t have to be some excruciatingly painful memory. It could be, but it could also be a lot of little hurts through the years.

If you are interested in joining me on this journey of becoming a woman living life from a place of worthiness, I encourage you to do a couple of things:

  • start keeping a running list of the lies you believe in your head (See mine above if you need a little inspiration…  and yes, this turns my stomach to see my lies in black and white and then to share them here.)
  • start asking God to show you where these lies came from

God loves us so much and He is willing to expose these lies we believe and also show us where they came from if we ask for His help.

This is deep, cleansing work. Come on girls, let’s do this together!

On what I’m learning about worthiness – Part 1

About six months ago, I told Jason that it was really important for us to celebrate my big 4-0. I wanted just he and I to go away and spend some time together. What I didn’t want was for my birthday to just be another day or another birthday.

Ladies, I know you will get this – this is a big deal – for me to actually want to spend time with Jason. The reason being for many years in our recovery, spending time with him alone was the very last thing I wanted to do. Too vulnerable. Too risky. Just too much.

Sure, some of this was simply because I was recovering from the unthinkable. I also know for myself, it was more than that – it was also because I never learned to be fully known, fully intimate, and fully vulnerable.

Over the course of the years, this landscape has changed (hence the reason I deeply desired to spend time alone with Jason for my 40th). Thanks in part to Jason’s patience and persistence. I also wouldn’t be where I am if it weren’t for a safe place where I’ve practiced being fully known with a group of women. My sacred inner circle.

So Jason went to planning and I stepped back and enjoyed not having to deal with the stress of prepping a trip. In the midst of the planning, Jason realized how grateful he is that we don’t keep secrets from each other anymore. Planning my surprise reminded him of hiding certain parts of his life from me. He was so ready for the big day to come when he could fill me in on our plans.

That day came today. As I write, we are headed west on a plane, taking us to our warmer than Denver destination. Jason filled me in on all his searching and planning and stressing. During the midst of our conversation, I looked at him and said, “wow, you must feel really vulnerable doing all of this”. And he agreed, completely.

I for the most part sat in this very seat in shock. As I tried to put my internal feelings into words, what I realized is – I felt vulnerable too. And more than that, I questioned my worthiness in all these plans that he so carefully pieced together.

Worth.

For me, explaining and conceptualizing worth is challenging. Worthiness is knowing, believing and living out the fact that I am enough. No matter what I do or don’t do in a given day, because I am a child of God – I am enough.

It seems for me – that somewhere between those years in Sunday school and present day, I forgot about this. Or maybe I never fully conceptualized this as a child. I am a baby Christian after all. What I DO know, is when I listen to my boys’ music and when I read Jesus Storybook Bible to them – it’s loud and clear. God loves us more than anything else and we were born into this world as worthy. There is absolutely nothing we could do or not do to take it away.

So why, then, has it been so hard for me to live my life out of a place of worthiness? To live from a place of deep security and wholeness? To believe that on my 40th birthday, I am worth others going out of their way to celebrate me?

This is something ladies that I’m currently wrestling through.

And here’s what I think – it goes alllllllll the way back to Adam and Eve. When Eve ate the apple and sin entered the world, the wounding began. It’s from the wounds I’ve endured – both thanks to my sins and thanks to other’s sins that my worthiness slowly, over time, started to crumble.

So it’s not enough (no pun intended) to just repeat to myself – “I’m worthy, I’m enough.” I’ve got to go deep. Identify the lies I believe in my head that are causing my insecurity and thus my lack of worth. Then trace those back to the wounds I’ve endured.

With that insight comes validation and empathy. With that insight, I can start to replace the lies with the truth. And with that truth, I believe I can start to slowly piece together my worth as God intended it to be.

I’ll keep you posted!

xo-Shelley

The refining work of connection and when connection simply doesn’t work

I have to laugh – this month I wanted to talk all about connection here on this blog.  And the last two weeks have been quite the whirlwind.  So my plans to connect over connecting – well – they failed.

But that’s okay, I’m picking myself up, dusting myself off, and assuring myself that there is still time.

In the last blog post on connection, I wrote about the importance of connecting to God, self and others.   It’s all about pressing into being fully known and fully knowing others.

As simple as it sounds, it’s actually quite hard.  So let’s discuss some of the key character traits that we must refine on our journey toward connecting well:

First is cultivating a heart of acceptance.  Not only when we work toward being fully known but also when fully knowing another – one of the biggest challenges is to accept ourselves and accept others right where they’re at.  Awareness is key here and I want to point out a couple of areas where we will have to work at acceptance.

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For instance, when we are allowing someone else to be fully known – be it our husbands or our friends – we might be challenged to accept them fully right where they are at.

I know I love to go around fixing others – so when just the thing our husbands or our friends need is to be known right where they are at (versus fixing), accepting and listening are key.

Another reason that acceptance is difficult is because when we do choose to listen to others – we might find that their perspective is different than ours.  It’s always, always, always easier to rub shoulders with people that have similar views.  When we really start to get to know others – and realize that our views are different which is likely the case – it forces us to really think through why we feel the way we feel.  And then work toward accepting someone else even if their views are different.  This can be super challenging.

And last, when we are the ones working at being fully known, it is so much easier to do so when we are confident and accept ourselves just as we are.  However – and it’s a big however – we usually can not get there until we’ve shared our story, our hopes, our failures with someone else.  So acceptance is a hoped-for-gift but we have to jump off the cliff and risk in order to get there.

With that said, next up is cultivating a willingness to risk.  There is absolutely no guarantee that we will be accepted for who we are when we show up and allow others in to the deep places of our hearts and souls.  Risk of rejection comes with the territory.  So we have to be okay with allowing others in and then facing that risk of rejection.  This is SO hard.  And I think that very first time we dip our toes into the pool of intimacy and see if we will be accepted is the scariest.  After that, we start to gain such a deep satisfaction in the bottom of our hearts with being fully known that this risk is less – (yet still there).

And last, we must work toward getting comfortable with pain.  Although connection is the antidote to so much – acting out, acting in, and even shame – we must also embrace that there will simply be times when connection doesn’t work.  God feels like a million miles away, our friends just don’t get it, our husbands aren’t safe and we’ve tried every tool in the bag to comfort ourselves and we come up to the surface feeling the same old pain.

Sure, those negative coping strategies that we’ve used time and time again would work – but only temporarily.  And after that temporary fix, we’d be deeper in our pain hole than we were before.  So we know that isn’t the route we want to go.  So what do we do?

We sit in the pain.

For as long as it takes.

We open our hands wide, and allow our hearts, our souls, our bodies to feel the pain.  We assure ourselves that relief will come in the morning.  And until then, we wait it out.

It reminds me of birthing my three precious baby boys.  I chose to do it naturally because I’m cRaZy like that.  Nothing was really going to take away the pain.  And yet, I knew it would come to an end and the greatest gift would be awaiting me then.  At least that was my hope.  True, there was no guarantee.

It all came down to hope.

In the next blog post, I’m going to talk more about waiting and hope and how the two are connected.  And as always, I’d love to hear from you.  Is sitting in pain something you are familiar with?  What I mean is – have you ever tried to just sit with it versus coping with it or covering it up?

xo-Shelley

 

On the importance of connection

I have another confession to make (oh goodness, seems like I’ve been making a lot of these lately!).  Jason and I have done a great job at connecting once the littles go to bed over the last several years of our journey together.  But lately – oh lately – we have allowed other things to come between that sacred space we’ve worked so hard to create.

Writing deadlines, a kitchen convo series that we’ve yearned to get out there into the world, extreme exhaustion, littles that want extra cuddle time – you name it and we’ve allowed other (oftentimes well-meaning) things to creep in.

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So last week, we both decided – no more.  We are reclaiming that precious time.  We needed to get back on the couch and connect with each other at the end of the day.  The end. 

And so, we carved out 60-90 minutes in the evening to connect.

By the end of last week, we both agreed, we were back on track.

This week has been more of the same – sitting down on the couch, connecting, sharing our hearts.  And it’s been good.  Deep, sacred, fully knowing one another.

We sat there at the end of last night, staring eye to eye, feeling so proud of ourselves – realizing that this is how we really want to live.  And that it might just be worth having a messy house, not writing as much as we want or saying “no” to an invite in order to make sure we are connected to each other at the end of the day.

Because connection is top of mind for us right now and because of the importance of it – we are going to be talking about connection and what it looks like to live in community with one another all. month. long.

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Connection – this is where it goes down.

Connecting with God, ourselves and others as we walk through the painful and glorious parts of this journey is critical.  This connection, or living in intimacy is the antidote to so much.  It’s the antidote to acting in, to shame, to acting out.  It’s the silver bullet.

With that being said, it’s important for us to ask ourselves – how are we doing connecting with God?  Connecting with ourselves?  And connecting with others?  If we are lacking in any of these areas – it puts us at risk to isolate even more and that’s exactly where Satan likes us to be.

We start to believe the lies about ourselves.  We start to feel the weight of shame.  And we start to think that we are worthless, not enough, and unlovable the way we are.

Dragging whatever it might be that we are hiding into the light is the best and only way to live.

I’ve discovered that there seems to be this cumulative effect – the more I connect with God, the more I connect with others, and the more I connect with myself.  Likewise, if I’m feeling a disconnect with myself – I tend to struggle to connect with others and most likely, I’m not feeling connected with God.

So take a moment and reflect on this question – when you are feeling pain – do you isolate?  Or do you comfort yourself and allow yourself to feel.  Do you reach out to someone you trust to share your heart?  Or do you push others away?  Last, do you press into God when you are feeling pain or do you push him out?

Here is the thing – relationships are dynamic.  As soon as we think we have this figured out – life throws us a curve ball and we’re scrambling to put life back into order (think:  what I mentioned at the beginning of the blog post about Jason and I falling out of our connection routine).

So know that connection falls in the life work category.  We will work toward connecting for the rest of our days on this earth.

In the next post, I’m going to discuss what it looks like when connecting with God, ourselves and others doesn’t put salve on the wounds or help the pain.

xo-Shelley

 

Connecting with Yourself – A Simple Exercise for you to try

I met with my go-to girls on Thursday evening.  I didn’t take much time to prepare before our meeting.  That right there was a sign that something was awry.  As a part of my check-in, I mentioned that I wasn’t feeling connected to Jason.  And given he was out of town speaking at Every Man’s Battle, I didn’t feel much hope to connect with him anytime soon.  Sigh.

self-intimacy

It wasn’t until after we said good-bye that I started to realize something I’ve recognized before.  The reason I wasn’t feeling connected with Jason was in part due to the fact that I wasn’t connected to myself.  So I decided I needed to take some time over the weekend to do just that.  Connect with myself.  Because a lot of times, when I feel a disconnect with Jason – it’s because I’m not doing my part.  I’m not working on self-intimacy.  Could it be that in order to be fully known in our relationship with our husband, we must first be fully known (as best as we know how) with ourselves?  I’m thinking the answer, oftentimes, is “yes”.

So I did a little exercise that I’ve been doing lately.  It’s super simple (for the most part).  And it works.  So I thought I’d pass it along to you.

A Super Simple Exercise to Connect With Yourself

Step one:  The hardest part of this exercise is finding the time and the space to be quiet.  Oftentimes, this happens for me once my littles are asleep for the night.  So on Saturday evening, I sat down with my journal and a couple of homemade chocolate chip cookies and ice cold milk (not a required part of the exercise but definitely encouraged) and started the simple process.

Step two:  I started writing down any and all feelings that were surfacing.  After writing down each feeling, I journaled a bit about exactly why I was feeling this way.  I always underline the feeling as well so that it pops on the page and start a new paragraph with each new feeling.

I continue to write as many feelings as I can that come to mind (along with the why behind them).  I usually start with more negative feelings it seems, so I also try to tap into any positive feelings I might be feeling as well.

On Saturday evening, I came up with 11 different feelings that were hiding within.  Here are the 11 feelings:  sad, frustrated, bored, disconnected, disappointed, successful, thankful, hesitant, satisfied, relieved, uneasy… all in that order!

If you find you are having trouble identifying how you are feeling, I highly recommend you use the feelings wheel by Dr. Gloria Wilcox.  There is an explanation on how to use it here.

Step three:  After working through as many feelings as I can think of – I typically feel more clear headed.  I like to go back and just take a quick view at all the words again that I am feeling.  I allow myself to embrace all the feelings.  To acknowledge that they are there and acceptable feelings to feel.

And that’s it.  Super simple.

I encourage you to try this the next time you start to feel like you are disconnected from yourself or those close to you.  Remember, it isn’t a way to change how you feel but rather to embrace the feelings within.

xo-Shelley