Peace for the Day

Devotions for our daily angst.


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Guilt – The Great Angst

There is therefore now no more condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1 RSV

I feel guilty over feeling guilty. It’s true. It leads to kicking myself in the butt with words. I call myself names. Not nice ones. I hang my head and sigh. Again.

Anxiety increases. Faith decreases. Fear rises. Joy falls.

My sister reminded me one day when I was feeling guilty over writing – writing, not writing, playing Wooden Blocks instead of writing, focusing on the wrong story, too many stories too little time, writing God’s story, not writing God’s story, not getting published, OMG what if I do get published, and what oh what if I get it all wrong – that condemnation doesn’t come from the Lord.

So why do I feel so guilty? I ask her.

You’re the daughter of an alcoholic. You feel responsible, that it’s all your fault.

I do.

Guilt piled on top of guilt until there’s one gigantic mound of, well, crap.

That’s exactly what it is. Crap. The enemy is more than happy to keep me contained with an invisible fence of guilt. He doesn’t even have to do any work. Being at the ready to convict myself, I do it all for him.

But what if I took God at His word and believed what He said?

If He doesn’t condemn me, who am I to condemn myself?

It’s been a lifelong fight that continues to be an ongoing battle. One that needs to be stopped before it even starts.

I take my stand.

Yo! You, girl in the mirror. Listen up. Stop it. God says you’re not guilty. Lies be quiet. Negative thoughts back off. You have the mind of Christ so take those thoughts captive. You are more than a conqueror. Now act like it. If God hasn’t given you a spirit of fear but of power, love, and a sound mind, get up off the ground and stop wallowing. Move.  

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Yo! You! Girl in the mirror. Listen up!

Slowly, but surely the vise grip of anxiety loosens and I can breathe again.

 

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Florence Foster Jenkins

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth. (Psalm 100:1NRSV)

I get Florence Foster Jenkins. Although she couldn’t carry a tune, hit a note, and had an uncertain sense of rhythm, she sang with gusto, determination, and – at least in the movie version of her life starring Meryl Streep – from the heart.

As a teenager, I, too, lived in a diva fantasy world. I just didn’t perform it for all the world to see. It stayed in my bedroom in front of my full length mirror. When no one else was home. And the windows were shut tight.

With ‘tude and New York shtick. Tears glisten in my eyes as I take my final bow. The Academy Award speech I always had prepared resonates through-out the theatre. Demurely, of course.

I moved on from movie soundtracks to rock and roll where I’d sing back-up with Rita Coolidge to Joe Cocker’s Feelin Alright. Or freewheeling on Maggie May with Rod Stewart. (Okay, I admit, I still sing my heart out with that one especially on summer days in the car with the windows rolled down. Sigh. Good memories.)

Don’t rain on my parade with facts. Please don’t tell me to wake up because you’ve got something to say to me. I’m fully aware I can’t sing. I realize I rarely get the words right. Even though I taught aerobics, my rhythm isn’t great. Tune? There are so many of them and they get confused and jumbled up. I swear the song coming out of my mouth is not what I hear in my head.

But I love music. And I love to sing. Especially to God. Thankfully, He wrote a Scripture specifically for me and for all singer wannabes! Psalm 100:1 says to “Make a joyful noise to the Lord.” He gets me. Those who hear me might not be feeling too good themselves, but I’m feeling alright singing my heart out to God. To all the Florence Foster Jenkins around the world – sing on, my friends, sing on.

km-as-florence-jenkins-1

 


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Love Lessons Learned from Mom

I’ve invited my dear friend Gayle to share today. God has a way of using our mothers – and our children! – to teach us. I was so frustrated with my parents when they wouldn’t allow me to help them. In my rant to the Lord, I heard, like Gayle, “Ah-ha, maybe you’re not so different from them. I stand ready to help you if you’ll let me.”  Enjoy my dear readers and send your own lessons learned to us.

Mothers!   It’s so much easier to see another’s faults, isn’t it? So much easier to remove the splinter from someone else’s eye rather than yank that beam out of my own. My relationship with my own mother recently brought this home to me in a big way.

My elderly mother and I have never had a warm and fuzzy relationship, and we have lived very different lives. As she has aged, I’ve had a difficult time adjusting to caring for her needs while at the same time living my own busy life. Folks my age have been described as the “sandwich generation” for just this reason.

As I drove to pick her up for yet another doctor’s appointment, I discussed my frustrations with the Lord. She’s stubborn. She ignores the things my brother and I tell her she should do or not do to avoid troubling physical conditions. By disregarding our advice, the inevitable happens, and the very people who tried to help her avoid the mess in the first place are the ones she calls to clean it up. This is a pattern with my mother, and I was resentful and frustrated.

Suddenly, God opened my heart. I do the exact same thing! How many times had He instructed me to do or not do a particular thing, I ignored his warning, and I ended up reaping the consequences He tried to help me avoid? Then what would I do? Run crying to God asking Him to clean up my mess—a mess He did everything He could to help me avoid in the first place.

But how did my heavenly Father handle it? Did He talk down to me, sternly reminding me of His words with an “I told you so!”? No. He just loved me unconditionally and pulled me out of the muck and mire. He didn’t even remind me of just how many times I’d wallowed in the same mud pit!

I humbly admitted what He already knew: that I wasn’t offering the same forgiveness and patience, the same unconditional love and understanding to those dear to me. And the truth is I am fully capable of loving the way He does, because the Holy Spirit, the Helper, equips me with the ability to do so, if – and it’s a big if — I let him.

Driving down the road that day while praying for a smooth trip to the neurologist with mom, I recognized that she was the iron God was using to sharpen me. It was a reminder to me—as both His daughter and hers—that I am still a work in progress and my mother, no matter what her age, still has things to teach me.

Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend [to show rage or worthy purpose]. (Proverbs 27:17)


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Let It Go

 

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which passes understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Jesus Christ. (Philippians 4:6, 7 NKJV)

 The first step to overcoming A-n-g-s-t is to admit it, so here goes.

 I had a melt-down last week. A big one. In public. In front of friends. At a restaurant. Over the top, even for me, all because of a mistake at work.

I FORGOT TO DO SOMETHING, SOMETHING IMPORTANT- AGAIN.

 When the slow-grinding gears clicked into place and I remembered, I was beside myself. I am not a surgeon, pilot, police officer, soldier or in any other profession where a mistake could lead to death, mine or others, but my mental and physical reactions were at that level.

My husband and friends got to hear the inner dialog that was now pouring out of my mouth. How could I be so stupid as to forget THAT? I know I came out of the meeting ready to do it. What happened? Where did the thought go? More importantly, why didn’t I look at my notes? Where were my notes? This always happens to me. Why can’t I get it right? It’s happening again. I’m losing it. I can’t do this. Make it go away. My boss is going to be upset. (She was, rightfully so.) I’m going to hear the “I’m disappointed” talk. (I did.) I hate this. I hate this. I hate this about myself.

 DEEP BREATH.

UNCURL FROM FETAL POSITION.

Katherine Fetal Position

 I try to explain it to my husband who admits he has rarely, if ever, felt this way. It’s not this one thing. It’s a lifetime of things. All of them proof that I’m the loser my “itty bitty shi@@y committee”, as Jill G on her Anxiety Self Help blog calls negative self-talk, says I am.

I searched Google and found a title for my life – General Anxiety Disorder or GAD. Here are the symptoms:

  • Escalated heart rate
  • Obsession about small or large concerns that’s out of proportion to the impact of the event
  • Worrying about excessively worrying
  • Difficulty concentrating, or feeling that your mind “goes blank”
  • Distress about making decisions for fear of making the wrong decision
  • Carrying every option in a situation all the way out to its possible negative conclusion
  • Indecisiveness
  • Inability to set aside or let go of a worry

How do you spell K-A-T-H-E-R-I-N-E?

  My dear spouse is a fixer, so he offers suggestions. Make lists. Put in a calendar reminder. He eventually becomes frustrated when I resist his help and yells, “Just let it go!”

I stare at him, incredulous. “Are you kidding? If only it were that easy.” But it’s not. It takes focused determination to grasp the good God says about me and to place the negative into His hands and to “let it go.”

If you’re like me and you’re reading this, let’s walk the road to freedom together. As we seek wholeness by talking to a counselor, taking medication, or eating right and exercising, let’s remember to pray. Lord, Prince of Peace – Help us to never forget who we are in You. Remind us daily that we are chosen by You and precious in Your sight. Amen. It shall be so.


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The Devil’s in the Distractions

“…but I resort to prayer” (Psalm 109:4b)

There’s an enemy afoot who would like nothing more than to distract me, but in the hard won lessons of battle, I chose to resort to prayer.

I learned this lesson years ago when my husband was laid off and could not find a steady job for an extended period of time. This led to severe financial problems which led to horrible marital problems, which led to anger, bitterness, resentment, and distrust with a fairly strong dash of hate, – on my part. That’s the cleaned-up, toned-down version of what was a very dark period.

In the middle of it, the Lord sent friends to drag me to a retreat I did not want to attend. What good could it do being around happy, faith-filled women? The thought of “up” people made me want to bang my head against the nearest wall. My friends ignored my drama. They paid my way, drove me there, deposited me in our room, and had the good sense to leave me alone long enough to allow the Lord to work.

Extend your arms straight out in front of you and make a fist. Start punching the air. That’s what I was doing. I was fighting out there – with my husband, with the bill collectors, with anybody who didn’t understand our plight and attempted to comfort me with platitudes. I battled it out, punching blindly, becoming more and more entangled in hopelessness and life-sucking bitterness.

Then, something happened right there in the middle of the retreat. The speaker taught that the enemy wants to distract us by getting us caught up with everything occurring out front, out there. He keeps us so busy scrapping and fussing that we don’t turn and run to the only One who can take care of it all.

The Lord fiddled with my vision knob and adjusted my sight. Bang! I saw the situation with clarity and light. It was a true God moment.

I left that retreat a changed woman. It made me a dangerous woman. At home, as soon as I felt myself begin to duke it out with external situations, I literally forced myself to turn, to run to a safe place, and to pour my heart out to God. It took time and every last bit of resolve I had; but with God’s grace, eventually, I learned to turn to the Lord before I was sucked into a distracting fight.

Lord, prepare me for battle. Teach me to be a warrior, not an angst-filled worrier.

“Let us pray, let us pray, everywhere in every way. Every moment of the day, it is the right time. Let us pray without end and when we finish start again. Like breathing out and breathing in. Let us pray!” Steven Curtis Chapman, Album: Signs of Life, Song: Let Us Pray

 


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Love Lessons

I’m skewered by texts. The family issues first mentioned in my blog titled Focus continue. I do what I always do, what I’ve always done – I grieve and talk to the Lord.

Me: I’m wounded, Lord. This situation really hurts. (Is there anything in the Bible about being wounded I ask myself. When I see the first verse that pops up, I smack myself in the forehead. Duh.)

Jesus: Take heart. I was wounded so you can be free. The Romans lashed my body so all could be healed. When they crushed the crown of thorns down on my head, it was for your peace of mind. I long for everyone to be whole. (Isaiah 53:5)

Me: Yes, but it’s someone I love. Someone close to me. Someone I trusted.

Jesus: I know. I get it. It was my close friend, remember? Someone I trusted, who ate my bread, who walked with me, who laughed and talked with me, who lifted up his heel against me. It’s hard, isn’t it? (Psalm 41:9)

Me: But, Lord, what’s being said isn’t true.

Jesus: Think about my trial when I was brought before Pilate. Many people talked about me. They lied. Finally, two men were found who declared, “This man said, ‘I am able to destroy the Temple of God and rebuild it in three days.’” They twisted my words. (Matthew 26.61)

Me: So what am I supposed to do? Should I defend myself? No one will listen anyway.

Jesus: Remember when I stood before Pilate? When the leaders brought accusations against me in front of him, I chose to remain silent. He even asked me, “Don’t you hear what they’re saying?” Pilate was surprised when I said nothing. (Matthew 27.14)

Me: I don’t know how you stood there, silent. I wanted you to tell them off just like I want to be catty and snarky right back, to tell my side of things.

Jesus: Grace. My grace is sufficient. My lovingkindness and mercy are more than enough, always available, whatever the situation I’m here right beside you. All of you. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Me: What do I do? What can I do?

Jesus: The most difficult thing of all and yet, the simplest. Love. Work at love. Lift patience and kindness. Practice contentment. Put others first. Forgive. Rejoice in truth. Be assured, my love for all of you will not fail.

Me: There’s not anything I may go through that you haven’t already experienced, is there?

Jesus: No, there isn’t. Hope, faith, and love. These three things remain, but the greatest of these is love.

Beloved, if God so loved us [in this incredible way], we also ought to love one another.

1 John 4:11 AMP


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Radically Alive

1…2…3…JUMP!Little Girl on Edge of Diving Board

“…the opposite of a nice girl is not just a good woman, but a downright dangerous woman.” “May we be women who acknowledge our power to change, and grow, and be radically alive for God.” Nice Girls Don’t Change the World by Lynne Hybels

 It started with a cassette landing in my lap. “Here, see what you can do. Write a play for these songs.”  With that challenge, and the Lord knows I thrive on a good challenge, I was given the incredible privilege of working with a talented musician to write, direct, produce, and perform a musical called One Week in Time. The entire experience absorbed me. I lived, thought, ate, and drank the production of that play. Back stage, as I listened to the audience react to the words, to the scenes, and to the songs, the cells in my body tingled. In that moment, I was fully alive doing the very thing God created me to do.  The play ended and life calmed down, but I’ve never forgotten that experience. I felt radically alive and on fire with the very knowledge of God and my place in His plan.

For a woman steeped in angst and sometimes paralyzed by fear, it’s much safer to be a good woman, a safe woman, a, well, boring, non-world changing, status quo woman. But that’s not who I want to be. I know inside of me there is a downright dangerous woman ready to risk all for the One who gave His all for me. I pray that in this season focused on resurrection this on fire, radically alive woman would arise from the ash heap of fear and live the life God planned for her.