It’s just a phase…

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“It’s just a phase.”

A paltry attempt at encouragement. That whatever we are facing will not last. A fading portion of the growth process. Phases become something we buckle down and endure rather than soak in and enjoy.

There are phases in childhood. 5 phases of grief. We might see depression as a phase. Maybe we go through an anxious phase. An awkward phase. A transition phase…

Phases – ways and periods of expression that we and others may not understand. 

Painful phases often leave me wanting to crawl into a hole, yet sprint as fast as I can, all at the the same time. But no matter how quickly I try and move, the phase will last as long as it is going to last. I can’t rush it by quickening my pace, exhausting myself, squashing myself in shame, or hyperventilating in panic. None of these things will deliver me from a portion of my life God intentionally designed me to walk through. Where He wants me to walk, I must walk. Even in the midst of incredible disappointment and frustration, the path remains.

And what if it wasn’t just a phase? 

What if I stopped excusing away difficult portions of life and started swallowing them for what they really are – moments that I can stop – open my eyes – immerse myself in the rawness of life – and soak it the heck in.

We run through and from these crude, rudimentary places as if they could harm us greatly. Like they will burn us alive if we dare let them cradle the unrefined secret places.

And what if the secret places could be healed by phases? What if depression and a deep sense of still could lend itself to new understanding-and eventually overcoming-dysfunction? What if a toddler throwing themselves on the floor is a chance to soothe the most tender needy places? What if the blistering sting of anxiety is necessary for growth?

The moments God places before you are precious. Perhaps painful, but freaking awesome. Do not dismiss them away as unstudied offhand occurrences. They are calculated. What if we embraced the rawness of their brutish glory? It pains me to think of how much life we miss because we are so dang afraid of a little discomfort and sadness.

It’s just a phase, and at the very same time, it’s so much more.

Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.  Isaiah 43:19 ESV

It’s a new thing and the passing of an old thing. It’s a way and a wilderness. It’s a river and a desert. It is both and all of these things – all at once. Sweet Jesus, help us to behold exactly what you have for us in this phase, even if it’s horribly distressing and inconvenient. In the midst of it all we don’t want to miss what you have for us. We want to see you.

 

 

 

It’s about the relationship…

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I’ve done a good bit of studying when it comes to counseling techniques to use for this or for that. I read scholarly journal articles on at least a weekly basis. I love learning new things. But sometimes I get obsessed with learning new information and forget what is most important.

Research shows 90% of success or failure in counseling is based on the relationship between the therapist and client. Only about 10% is what theory or method the therapist uses.

I don’t know why this surprises me. Because at the core of everything I value is relationship. A relationship so unconditional I could do or say anything and still be completely loved, valued, adored, and set free.

Relationship is the cornerstone of healing because God designed it that way.

Isn’t that amazing news? For you, for me, for everyone. When we don’t know what to say or how to help, the ministry of presence and relationship remains. Modeling the unconditional love and acceptance of Christ is a foolproof method. It helps every single time.

Some of us back away from others who are in pain because it quickens our heart and increases anxiety. Even after years of work in the helping profession, my heart still gets tied up in knots when there is a tremendous amount of hurt. And frankly, I hope it always stays that way. Because the moment I stop letting myself become undone in the presence of another’s wounds is the moment I render myself ineffective.

Relationship demands I let down internal walls and barriers. Relationship pushes past anxiety and says, “It’s tremendously uncomfortable, but I’ll stay with you here. You are not in this alone.” And in those moments there can be a tremendous amount of healing.

And that is what Jesus does for us. Like Hebrews 4 tells us, we do not have a stoic withdrawn High Priest who is unable to empathize. We have a loving Jesus who came to earth so He could feel what we feel and endure what we endure – ultimately to have a relationship with us. He could have remained above our offensive depravity, but instead He jumped into it with us and promised to never leave us alone.

He chose relationship with you so you could choose it with others. Yes it can be scary. You might say the wrong thing. You might shake with uncertainty through the entire process. But if you attach yourself to Christ and do what He has called you to do, you will not fail. You will show love. And someone will know Jesus because of what they see in you.


 

for when we panic and old messages come on strong…

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I couldn’t hear Jesus yesterday.

The voice of internal panic screamed loudly.

You can’t do this.

You are not enough.

You will never be enough.

My brain tore through file after file ripping out failures as evidence that this must be true. Showered with shame, I could hardly catch my breath.

What if I made the biggest mistake of my life by thinking I was capable of something I clearly was not?

No matter how hard I tried I couldn’t squash the harshness of my internal critic. And it’s in these moments we feel incredibly alone, unloveable, and abandoned.

“Be still, be calm, see, and understand I am the True God.” Psalm 46:10a 

God how can I be still? I must make up for what I lack. I must account for my mistakes. I must be perfect. Please God, I just can’t stand to know I made another mistake.

And at the core of it all…

Am I loveable? God please tell me that if I mess up, I will still be lovable…

I heard nothing. The reverberations of my heart pounding against the walls of my chest roared. It wasn’t until much later when I curled up into the safety of my covers that He spoke.

He never disrespects me in the same ways I disrespect myself.

He holds my pain with gentle hands. Never telling me it’s unjustified or that I shouldn’t feel this way. That I shouldn’t wonder if I am lovable or if I am enough. He respects the messages that have become very real to me over years and years of living in the world. But He knows these messages hurt, and for that reason, He whispers change.

It’s a sacred internal space where He mends the fences of protection around my heart. He roots me in security and draws me deep below the waves. Down where it’s calm and I can find rest. It’s safe. I don’t have to be more. Or less. Or even enough. Because here, in this space, He is all I need.

Sweet friend, I don’t know what it is that sends you into panic. Maybe you struggle with similar messages, and maybe they are very different. But we all fight internal battles. In times of stress, difficult circumstances, and transition…they come on strong.

And maybe we can choose to be as gentle with ourselves as Jesus is with us. His expectation is never perfection. He removes our shame, but also understands the throbbing pangs of our humanity. He knows we get anxious, uncomfortable, and all twisted up with agony and that’s okay. But we can choose a new thing. We don’t have to be ashamed of the old, but we feel much better when we accept the fresh reality of His new.

It’s never been about how much we can do, but what He chooses to do through us. And no matter how hard we try, we can’t mess up the hand of God working through us. We aren’t that powerful. He’s got this. He’s always been in control and He won’t give up. He is enough and you are loved. It’s going to be okay.


 

 

 

because anxiety, though it continues to exist, has NO POWER OVER YOU…

psalm 116

I love the Eternal; for not only does He hear my voice, my pleas for mercy, But He leaned down when I was in trouble and brought His ear close to me. So as long as I have breath, I will call on Him. Once I was wound in the wrappings of death; the terror of dying and the grave had a grip on me; I could not get away, for I was entombed in distress and sorrow. Then I called on the name of the Eternal…Psalm 116:4

Anxiety wields power. It rarely has form, shape, or color; yet it’s structure seems taller and wider than the largest mountain. It’s shadow has covered me. It kept me from moving forward into the places and spaces God has called me to be. It silenced my voice and kept me in the grave…too many times.

You have circled this mountain long enough. Now turn north… Deuteronomy 2:3 NASB

There has always been a choice. Dwell in foothill encampments, dredge myself around the base of impossibility, fall down in defeat as the magnetic shards of insecurity suck me closer and closer to the core. Or turn north.

North is unknown. And scary. We have no idea what lies ahead. But we can go anyways.

And what if I told you no matter where you turn, another mountain will appear? When it comes to anxiety, it will. We may walk away from one moment of paralyzing angst and insecurity only to run smack into another. It happens over and over again. There are mountains everywhere.

God, You alone rescued my soul from the grips of death, my eyes from weeping, and my feet from slipping. I will come before the Eternal as long as I journey in the land of the living. Psalm 116:8-9  

But we walk anyways. Knowing if we wait for the anxiety inducing mountain range to move, it likely never will. Because God doesn’t do it that way. He walks us through the wilderness, and rarely obliterates it for our comfort.

The mountains do their things with me. Anxiety manifests in my mind and body in so many ways, and likely always will. But I will go north because there is nothing of value to be found hiding or even standing still.

Anxiety is powerful. But God is greater. I have yet to encounter a room full of people, a confrontation, a platform I am expected to speak on, or a life God has asked me to invest in that has killed me. It’s always made me stronger. God always wins. And I have always been left gasping on the wings of His greatness.

He will do the same for you. Over and over again. He wins.