What is it?

Looking through my journals and email, I found out that I was wishing for a lot of good things to happen. I claimed to be “hoping,” but I did not/could not be confident the desired outcome would happen. That is not what hope is about. Hope is more than wishing. [Want to know more? Click here.]

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Making Commitments

I admit it. I’m a perfectionist. Often that means I will not try to do something if I don’t think I can do it perfectly. That sometimes means I miss out on things that could be fun or that could be helpful.
For instance, I don’t like to promise I will do something if there’s any chance that I will not be able to follow through. This has been a source of frustration to my kids at times as they like to think I promised to do something, when I know I have not promised anything. It is also a source of frustration for myself because I say no to things that I could say yes to with a reasonable amount of assurance that I can follow through.
What does this have to do with making commitments? Easy. I see each commitment as a promise, something I said I would do. But what if I can’t live up to the commitment? What if I fall short? What if I do not do it perfectly? What if I fail to complete one aspect of the promise?
Recently, it was pointed out to me that I can make a commitment and not have to be perfect in the way I carry out of the commitment. It's like deciding to play a musical instrument to the best of your ability. Deciding to play an instrument doesn't mean you won't make mistakes and need to practice through the rough spots many times over. It will take practice. Mistakes will be made. But the intent is still there to play the instrument as well as you can. And, even imperfect music can be enjoyable to listen to.
So as I think about commitments I need to make in my life, I can see why I’m afraid to make some of them. I feel I have to “play the notes” completely and totally right so the final sound is perfect. So, while I'm willing to concede that suicide is not really an option, and I should commit to maintaining that point of view, I am afraid I cannot do everything that means perfectly. When I think of all the things that means like always taking insulin correctly, exercising, eating right, food journaling, keeping a mental health journal, not engaging in self-harming activities, etc., I get overwhelmed at thinking I can’t do it all perfectly.
But if I'm going to be honest with myself, I don’t have to do all those things perfectly to still keep the essence of the commitment. I can be committed to life and still make a misstep from time to time. One sour note does not mean complete failure.

Thursday, July 19, 2012


My son is off to graduate school this fall. He will be taking his bed and desk with him to his apartment. As a part of this transition, I am remodeling his bedroom into my office or study. I need a place to go and write. I used to go to the local coffee shop, but it closed and left me without a place to go. Since then it has been hard to schedule daily time to write because there are too many distractions around the various places in the house. Even now, as I write this, my daughter has the television on. She’s not watching anything I’d be interested in watching but it is a distraction from fully concentrating on what I’m writing. It will take me extra time to complete this article.
So I’ve begun dreaming about my study. What color will I paint it? What inspirational saying or Scripture verse can I put on the wall? What furniture do I need? What furniture do I want? What lighting do I want besides the overhead light fixture? When will I start the transformation? Will I keep my son’s bookshelf or move it downstairs? Will I ask for or accept offered help? Will I do it all by myself so it feels like my space?
It will be hard to paint over the decoration my son chose when he was about 8 (blue paint with a border of maps, topped by sponge painted blue walls that look like clouds). In a way it will be like erasing his childhood as I draw a new post-childhood picture for my life. His room will be transformed as my parenting role also changes.
The remodeling could also be symbolic of the changes I need to make inside of myself. The way I think and the things I believe about myself need some overhauling right now. It’s time for some fresh self-reflection and perspective. The despair and doubt I presently view myself with is dysfunctional. A fresh perspective with hope and confidence could give me a brighter view of my future; possibly a future where I accomplish the things I want to do and help people like I want.
Now to decide on a color scheme, a desk, and a chair; the remodeling can then begin inside and out.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Disguised Blessings

A friend recently shared this song with me.

by Laura Story

We pray for blessings
We pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love is way too much to give us lesser things

Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom
Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough
All the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we’d have faith to believe

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know that pain reminds this heart
That this is not our home

What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise

I hadn’t heard it before but it spoke to my heart. It’s hard to wrap my head around the idea that maybe the “bad” stuff in my life is really the stuff God’s puts in my life to improve my life.

I remember times when I’d be in a hurry and the traffic light would turn red. I’d think that maybe this traffic light just saved me from an accident up ahead, so I’d accept the apparent “misfortune” of the red light as a possible good thing. But, how different and difficult it is to view other things in my life with the same perspective. As this song says, “What if trials of this life are [God’s] mercies in disguise?” What if my illnesses, and all the struggles that come from them, are God’s best for me? I need to try to be thankful for what I do have. Maybe without these struggles I would have something so much worse.

This is not easy. It is hard to look at the things in my life I view as unfair or overwhelming from the perspective that they might be exactly what God wants for me, His best for me. I can be thankful or resentful when I think about this. But what I have to remember is that God’s best for me is the absolute best there is. Being resentful will not do any good. Being thankful can only bring good. So as I try to think of the things in my life as God’s blessings in disguise, I will try to give thanks to the One who gives me His absolute best.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Rigorous Honesty

In Alcoholics’ Anonymous (AA), we talk a lot about rigorous honesty and its importance to staying sober. But rigorous honesty can do more for us than keep us from taking a drink. And, it can also be the last defense against the first drink.
When I’m honest in the rest of my life, I am doing what it takes to stay sober. When struggling with some area of my life, like diabetes management, dishonesty makes things worse. My mood, level of irritability, concentration, and inner turmoil will increase when I am not willing to be honest about how things are going. Each little truth shared with a trusted friend or small group lessens the turmoil. Things may still be going wrong. I may still be avoiding doing the right things. I may continue to make bad decisions. However, telling the truth about those things means I’m not lying to myself or to others.
Lies make things worse. Think about it. You do something you shouldn’t. You feel bad. You know you did it and you know it effects your relationship(s) to others in some way. You know you got away with it. You know no one knows, except you. How do you feel? Assuming you have a conscience, you don’t feel good. In my case, my stomach gets upset, I may get a headache, I don’t want to be around people, I lack energy to do anything, and I stop talking with God. Now, add the dishonesty. Now I want to actually, physically hide from other people. Now I might tell a lie to hide behind. Now I may start to believe that what I did was okay.
But deep down I know it isn’t and I feel worse than ever. Enter rigorous honesty. I confess to someone, admit where I’m struggling, and the problem, with its emotions and thoughts, diminish just a little bit. Being honest doesn’t mean you have to change; it just makes change possible. Being honest doesn’t mean you have to suddenly be obedient in every area; it just allows you to have choices. Being honest doesn’t mean you are perfect; it just develops progress and growth.
So today I remember one other AA saying: There is nothing that a drink won’t make worse. I think the same can be said about the lack of rigorous honesty: There is nothing a lie won’t make worse.