A Facebook window into my ># book saga…

It’s been a month since I received the fateful news that the publisher did not like what I turned in and canceled my More Than a Number book contract. Over the past month God has been showing me a LOT, and I think it’s time for me to start blogging again. So this post is just to bring you up to speed via what I had posted on my Facebook page in the early aftermath, and to set the stage for what I hope will be a continued memoir-in-real-time of the journey God has me on to learn that I am enough, because HE is enough.

POST 1: The day I got the news of the cancellation…

Facebook - June 6POST 2: Quick lessons God already started teaching me through this trial…

Facebook - June 8

POST 3: A little God-wink a couple days later. Even if the publisher didn’t like what I’d written, the topic of “enoughness” is clearly relevant…

Facebook - June 10

And so… as I continue wrestling and learning, I am planning to return to blog-writing, to document the truths God is teaching me along the way. Stay tuned…

Why Mental Health Matters

Saddleback 15 thumbnailI never imagined I would work in the Mental Health field. As a teen and into my twenties I thought I was destined to be a rock star. No kidding. I was going to be the next Amy Grant (I’m dating myself here…). So I moved to Nashville and had a big showcase and crashed and burned and then felt like a big, fat, nobody. A zero, as I would often say at Girls of Grace events.

It took a while for me to begin to learn why I felt like such a zero, not just after the devastating showcase, but pretty much always. Always feeling on the edge of being found out, that I don’t really matter, that I’m just a burden, that someone’s going to figure it out and cancel an upcoming speaking date, or book, or… something.

Why the zero?

My mom had an eating disorder when I was growing up. She moved out when I was around nine or ten, leaving a big hole in my heart – and psyche – which I wouldn’t discover until much later. Dad did his best to hold it all together but, by his own admission, thought he was going to lose his mind a few times in the process. After juggling work and single-parenting three young kids, not to mention his ministry involvement at church, there wasn’t much left for him to pour love into me during my formative years.

During this season of turmoil, my inability to manage the loneliness and distress led me to fracture internally a little, and then a little more. Without realizing what I was doing, I slowly fashioned a new, better self who learned how to walk through life giving off the aura of having it together, separated from my true, internal self who was hurting and dying and who no one seemed to see or care about. The better I got at projecting the new self, the less possible it became for my true, internal self to even be known, much less loved.

We all do this a little. It’s a natural – God-designed, some would say – defense mechanism. When we feel rejected, it can be overwhelmingly tempting to hide the part of us that experienced the hurt, until we no longer have a good connection between the different aspects of who God created us to be.

The problem is that when we fracture internally, we lose the benefit of operating from a central core of wholeness, which means that we are making decisions that may help one aspect of our self (most often, the aspect we think will win the approval of others), at the expense of truly loving our core self.

In my own life, I focused so intently on building up the “external” part of who I was that I battered my internal self through food addiction, sex addiction, and approval addiction. It was only through investing in healthy counsel/therapy that I began to see just how fractured I had become, and to understand how high the stakes were, not just for me, but for so many people who have managed pain in similar ways.

And here’s the bottom line: When we live disconnected and dis-integrated as whole persons, it not only impacts our physical, relational and spiritual health, but it hinders our ability to walk out in God’s ultimate purpose for our lives. Mental Health matters because LIFE matters, and God has a purpose for your life that is so much bigger than your own. To walk fully in it, you need a strong mind that can help you operate from a position of wholeness and wellness. A mind that has been loved and healed and given the ability to once again guide you as God originally designed.

Satan knows this, and so he is intent on attacking the integrity of our minds – our mental health – as soon as he possibly can. But he’s not bigger than the One who created us – and our minds – in the first place.

God knows your mind. He knows the wounds you have borne, and the fracturing that has occurred as you’ve tried your hardest to heal them on your own. He knows what you need right now, much more than any person possibly could. Yet he will likely use people – flawed as we all are – as part of his healing work in your life. And, because his ways are higher than our ways, he will probably even use YOU to help bring healing to others. Because he designed us to walk in community. And to BE a healing community toward each other.

The key to it all is love. Which is a lot easier to extend once you have understanding. In October, I am proud to be a part of Saddleback’s 2nd Gathering on Mental Health and the Church, a three-day event designed to increase understanding, compassion and love for those impacted by mental health issues. Attending this event – whether in person or via the web – will equip you to find more healing for yourself, or to be a part of healing community for others. You can learn more about it here:

saddleback 15b

Even though I never imagined I would work in this field (it’s far less sexy than being a rockstar…), I am grateful today for the opportunity to walk out my God-given purpose  and to be a part of a growing body of believers who are passionate about being a part of the healing God wants to bring to so many who need to know that his love extends even – and especially – to them.

In these crazy times in which we live, it is critical that we band together to help facilitate the healing that God wants to bring to our minds, hearts and souls. Lives are on the line.

Including our own.

Want Balance? Learn to “Complete the Moment”

leftoversImagine that I’ve invited you over for dinner. You walk in the door, and smell delicious aromas simmering on the stove. Eagerly you take your place at the table, and then you realize something is a little strange. While you can clearly see fresh food being prepared, in front of you sits leftovers from another day’s meal. Tupperware containers containing a little macaroni here, a few bites of chicken there…

Now imagine me telling you that you have to eat those leftovers before I can serve you the new, fresh food. Bummer, right?

This scenario sounds crazy, yet it’s a picture of how many of us live our lives each day, dragging around “leftovers” from previous moments instead of being able to fully immerse ourselves in the moment we’re in.

I’ll share an example from my own often chaotic life. Until recently, I had a very loose attitude about cleanup after meals, especially meals during the day when I am working from home. I’d eat breakfast and lunch, leaving a small mess each time, which I told myself I would clean up later when my work day was done. The driving force here was guilt about taking time away from more “productive” endeavors of my work, but it set me up to fail later in the day.

Come dinner time, which is generally busy with kids and homework and a challenge to be faithful about in the first place, I now had to clean up my leftover mess from the day, which bumped back my prep time (I won’t cook in a dirty space), which bumped back dinner time, which meant kids were cranky due to low blood sugar, which meant stress at the table, and so on.

The “leftover” mess happened because of a sincere desire to be productive in my work day. In the end, however, it mainly produced stress in my heart and in my home. And whatever work I did get done in the 5 or 10 minutes it would have taken me to clean the mess earlier, was probably not really that impressive anyway.

Dragging leftovers from one moment of your day inhibits your ability to be fully present in the next. And when we’re not fully present, we don’t feel fulfilled or at peace.

And it’s more than just dishes or other household tasks to consider. It’s those conversations you leave unfinished because something more important comes up. The not-quite-finished bits of “to-do’s” that get dragged to the next day for months because they don’t seem important enough on their own for your full attention. Or the funk you keep inside because you don’t think you have time to work on your issues…

As Annie Dillard says, “How we live our days is how we live our lives.” Completing each moment as we’re in it is the best way to live the balanced, complete lives we long for.

Even if the next moment has to wait…

 

This will change your view of being “unproductive”

Until today I have believed a lie. Not a vicious, damning lie but an untruth nonetheless, and one that has served as the foundation for a lifetime of working too hard, resting too little, and being one of those people who always says “crazy busy” when asked how I’m doing.

I hate hearing those words come off my tongue…

So it was like a light bulb went off in my mind when I realized that one of the biggest driving forces of all this crazy-busy-ness is actually a misconception.

Are you ready? Here’s the lie:

“Being productive requires doing something that other people can see and/or will pat you on the back for.”

This thought popped into my head as I was standing in front of the mirror applying makeup and doing my hair. I don’t usually take time to do this during the week because there are other more worthy – productive – things that require my attention. Like responding to a million emails, checking off items on my task list, or strategizing for the future.

But today is a self-instituted personal day for me – a new weekly initiative borne out of my deep desire – conviction, even – to begin living a life of balance. And so as I’ve been taking it “slower” today, I’ve also been monitoring my thoughts, and recognizing just how very hard it is for me to give myself permission to chill a little.

By the time I stood there applying makeup I had already been away from my desk for over an hour and frankly the luxury was truly feeling excessive. Wrong, even.

And then I realized…

In that hour I had a) taken a shower, b) cleaned my bathroom counter of toys and rollers and various other stuff, c) noticed some filthy clothes of my son’s that needed soaking and put them in the washer, d) challenged myself to “wear something different” even though it required I shave my legs (another time-suck) and e) been quiet and mindful as I did all of this.

Which was really quite productive, if you think about it, because I am clean, I smell good, I will enjoy seeing my bathroom clean when I brush my teeth at the end of the day today, and my son will be grateful for clean clothes. OK, he probably won’t even notice, but I will, because they won’t turn into a smelly mess in an overly-full hamper.

The truth is, we are never NOT producing. As long as we are alive we are producing something. Every day, every hour – even those that we “waste” doing “unproductive” things like sleeping, reading, or hanging out with a friend – we’re still producing. Something…

So the question should really shift from “was I productive today?” to “what did I produce?”

As I considered this today, my mind went to the fruit of the spirit – Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-Control. My hour of “non-work” actually produced several of these things in me which I will now carry into the rest of my day.

Sometimes the most important things we can do are those that no one sees or gives us an award for. But they make us into the love-well people God has called us to be.

You’re Worth More Than You Think

Yesterday I was talking with my board treasurer at FINDINGbalance (my day job). We were having a conversation about salaries for some new hires, and as we tossed around numbers, I shared what I thought those applying for the positions might need financially. With passion in her voice, Bev stopped me in my tracks.

“We need to establish what the job itself is worth. Not what the applicant needs to make,” she said. “It’s this kind of thinking that had led to men making so much more money than women in the workplace. People assume the guy needs more to support his family.”

And the women are afraid to say what they really need, I thought to myself. Because we don’t feel like we should need, at least not if what we need will in any way burden someone else.

No, thank you, we think. We’ll just take whatever you can spare. We may resent you on the inside later, but don’t worry, we’re pretty good at turning the resentment back to ourselves in the end. Because the truth is that we are bad, we don’t deserve anything more than we have, and living with unmet needs is just our lot in life.

Hogwash.

I am worth more than my low estimation of myself, and so are you. As former Superchick front-woman T R I C I A sings on her new album Radiate, “Jesus died for who you are, not who you want to be.”

My fellow women, we must awaken from the fog we’ve been living in, so buried in our fear of not being good enough that we mindlessly shift through life doing less, having less, and being less than who we were created to be.

You were created to reflect God’s beauty. You don’t have to create your own based on changing media standards.

God created food and your body for your pleasure and his glory. Not as something to be at war with.

You are called to share God’s love with those who are downcast. You can’t do this if you assume the same posture.

He values you above rubies.

He loves you regardless of your clothing size.

He’s not waiting for you to get it right. But each time you do, he will celebrate, knowing that shame is losing its grip.

We can do this, my fellow warrior-chicks! It’s time to rise up. To be who we were created to be. To take the world by storm, for the only Man worth serving – our Lord (and friend) Jesus Christ.

Can I hear an amen?