5 Options for Dealing with Emotional Pain

Man alone

What do you do with pain? You’ve been injured. It wasn’t fatal, but it hurt. In this post, I’m talking about emotional pain. The fact is emotional pain often hurts more than physical pain. It certainly can last longer. All of us have experienced emotional pain. Some more than others.

What do you do with emotional pain?

You have options. Here are 5:

Rehearse – You can keep reminding yourself how much it hurt. You can go over and over again in your mind the people to blame. You can live the hurt repeatedly in your mind. The longer you do the longer it seems to hurt.

Repress – You can pretend it doesn’t hurt. With the right performance you can even convince people you’re okay…even yourself…for a while. But, deep inside, when the fake smile goes away and the pretend laugh goes away, it still hurts.

Resent – You can build a grudge. You can increase your anger towards others. But the depth of the grudge will be directly proportional to the depth of the pain and the time of recovery.

Repeat – You can hurt others because you were hurt. Get even at your next opportunity. Take out your hurts on another. But the emotional pain remains. It does.

Release – You can let go, admit it stinks, ask God to begin to restore your heart and allow you to begin again. Emotional healing is almost always a process that takes time. It may require outside help. It won’t be easy, but it begins with the intentionality to release the pain and move forward.

Choices…choices.

Which will you choose? 

Obviously this is a simplistic approach to a very complex issue. But the principles are true. If you have serious emotional injury, get help. Don’t struggle alone. See your physician. See a counselor. Talk to a minister. (As a word of counsel, if it is serious emotional issues most ministers aren’t equipped to counsel through this. But, most can refer you to someone trained to help you.)

My Thankfuls: 10 Reasons for a Happy Thanksgiving

thanksgiving-clock

For years, when the boys were at home, we shared our list of “Thankfuls” each Thanksgiving holiday. We would each take turns (one item at a time) of ten things we were most thankful for that year. I remember early in this tradition the boys’ spellings weren’t always correct, but their lists were always sincere.

I miss those special times sitting in our living room, but that shouldn’t stop me from sharing my list with you.

Here are my “Thankfuls” this year:

1. My relationship with Christ. And the grace that got me there. (And keeps me there.)

2. My loving wife. She’s my best friend. She’s seen my best and my worst and keeps being my biggest supporter.

3. My two amazing sons. Jeremy and Nathaniel (Nate)…age 25 and 22…are simply two of the best men I’ve ever known. Seriously.

4. Jeremy’s wife Mary. If I had raised a daughter…or picked a wife for my son…I would have wanted a Mary. Thanks God.

5. My calling. I work for Jesus. How cool is that? I ran from it for years…but it’s the best “career” I’ve ever had. And, I’ve had several.

6. Family and friends. Cheryl and I are so blessed with amazing families…with low or no drama. We have friends we can call upon at any time day or night. The greatest asset of our married life together is people.

7. The staff and people of Immanuel Baptist. Nearing a year and a half with them, I can honestly say we’ve met some of the most loving, supportive people we’ve ever known. We’ve already made friends for life.

8. My health. Granted, I work on it, but I’ve had friends die of cancer (and other causes) this year…some younger than me. I am thankful for being able to run…and walk…and feel well enough to work…and play.

9. The city of Lexington. We adopted our new home quickly. It’s our mission field, and that’s what missionaries do. We love the sports, exploring the many restaurants, the neighborhoods, and especially the people. What a lovely place to live!

10. The future. I look around the world today and see a lot of darkness. But, this year, I’m thankful, as always, that I serve a risen Savior. That makes every morning new with His mercies and grace. I’m grateful the days ahead are bright…because He is my light. (Cheesy…maybe…but always true.)

There’s part of my list. I could continue, because I am blessed. No, my world is not trouble free…far from it actually…but when I pause and consider all that God has done and is doing around me…thanksgiving is my only proper response.

And for what (or whom) are you thankful this year?

6 Tips for Happier, Healthier Relationships

family prayer

It’s that time of year again. Thanksgiving. Then Christmas. Family and friends. Good food and good times.

Mostly.

Truthfully, this time of year is especially stressful for some. I am not referring, in this post, to the ones who have lost loved ones this year. That’s especially difficult. My prayers go out for you. I’m talking about those who have living “loved ones”…positionally speaking at least.

The holidays expose many people to broken relationships, hurt feelings, grudges from the past. Many will have to be around people, by default, that they wouldn’t choose to be around unless those people were blood relatives…or in-laws…or friends who aren’t your friends, but come with the package of celebration. They will be there…and the reality of that causes you to be less enthusiastic about celebrating this year.

That’s true, isn’t it? And, the truth hurts sometimes…doesn’t it?

(Raise your hand if that’s your story.).

What should you do? How should you respond to the one who has hurt you the most…or who always seems to say the wrong thing…or who is…honestly…even mean at times? How do you respond to the most difficult relationships in your life?

I want to encourage the Biblical approach.

Here are six tips:

Bite your tongue – When you are tempted to snap back…don’t. Sure, it will be difficult…even seemingly unfair at times, but see it as spiritual discipline training. (James 1:26)

Extend grace – Forgive. Let go of a grudge. Even though it may not be received well and nothing may change in the relationship, it will change you. (1 Peter 4:10, Colossians 3:13)

Put on another’s shoes – Anyone who hurts you…has a story. Usually they were hurt too…by someone. Remember…hurt people…hurt people. Think about where the other person is coming from before (or as) you encounter them. (Philippians 2:3-4)

Practice patience – Be honest, some relationships require more patience than you thought you had, don’t they? But, isn’t that what we are called to do as believers? It is a “fruit of the spirit”. (Colossians 3:12-14)

Exercise humility – When we humble ourselves, we may get taken advantage of at times, but God always rewards humility. Who knows? It may be the break point in the relationship. (James 4:10, 1 Peter 5:6)

Pray for them – The last one is sometimes the most difficult…but oh how Biblical! Prayer releases the burden to the burden bearer…the One whose yoke is easy…the One who paid for your sins. Prayer can even change the dynamics of a relationship. Pray for the awkward, difficult, shattered and broken relationships in your life…and the people who caused them. In the most tense moments this holiday season, slip away and pray. (Matthew 5:44)

Apply liberally, as needed.

You’ll have healthier, happier relationships this Thanksgiving and Christmas season…and even into the New Year.

Do you have a difficult relationship facing you? What tips do you have?

5 Ways This Introvert Responds at a Social Gathering

image

It’s the holiday season again. I love the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I really do.

But, for us introverts, it can also be a very difficult season. We are far more likely to be placed in awkward, uncomfortable situations.

People have a hard time believing I am introverted. Certainly I’m not on Sunday.  I intentionally try to meet as many people as possible. And, I have plenty experience in extroverted environments. I’ve even served in public office. I can work a room if I need to do so. 

Introversion is a personality based on preferences. It’s how someone is wired by life. We don’t simply choose to be introverted. We are programmed that way in our core personality.

So, knowing this time of year can be uncomfortable at times, I thought recently about how I respond in social settings where I’m not the host or where I don’t know most everyone in the room.

This may not be true for all introverts, but it is for me. I had this discussion with a fellow introvert. He said he just avoids all parties this time of year. I don’t want to do that, but knowing my reaction will hopefully keep me from hiding out in my personality and missing fun I really do often want to have.

Here is my typical response:

Find the corner – I look for a place away from the crowds to adjust to that space. I do this before even looking around to see who is in the room. I’ve been told, “I waved at you when you entered the room”, but I didn’t see you. I promise. I wasn’t even looking yet.

Survey the room – After a pause, this is when I finally begin to process who is in the room. Who do I know? Where’s the “safe” place to begin conversation? It’s usually with people I somewhat know and can easily begin conversation.

Spot the extroverts - It’s not that I don’t want to talk to them. Possibly they are some of the ones I most want to talk to, but I need time to “warm up” first. Many times these people launch into heavy conversation as soon as an introvert hits the door. The thought that this might happen is many times one of our biggest fears…and a main reason we avoid the social gathering altogether.

Look for an opportunity - When can I best break into a conversation? Many times if I can get started I’m good. Getting started is the hardest part. I won’t interrupt. Introverts typically don’t do that. We are gentleman (and gentlewomen) communicators.

Decide whether or not to move forward – At this point, I will either make the best of it…and many times have a great time if I do…or flame out early…or never ignite at all. It’s sad, but true. I’ve gone through this routine countless times only to spend a few minutes at a gathering before exiting as quickly as possible.

So, introverts, let’s not miss the parties we want to attend this year. If you want to stay home…great. But, I am committing not to allow my introversion to stop me. I’ll do this by disciplining myself to attend, adjust, and engage.

Here’s to a more extroverted Christmas for this introvert! I’ll just take more naps during this season…recover energy in my introversion…and go at it again.

Help me out introverts, because whenever I post about this extroverts accuse me of all kinds of things.  (That’s why I wrote THIS POST). If you’re an extrovert and want to know how to better engage with introverts, read THIS POST.

Introverts, any other ways you respond in these type settings?

Are any of these true for you?

10 of my favorite John F. Kennedy Quotes

image

Obviously, John F. Kennedy spoke many memorable quotes. As with any leader of significance, I knew there were probably some statements that are lesser known, but are meaningful. In fact, in light of what we know now, some may even be more relative today. (I discovered these with simple Google searches and several sites attributed these to JFK.) If Twitter had been around, some of these would have been retweeted and favorited.

Here are 10 of my favorite John F. Kennedy quotes:

Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.

We must use time as a tool, not as a couch.

We would like to live as we once lived, but history will not permit it.

Those who dare to fail miserably can achieve greatly.

Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.

Once you say you’re going to settle for second, that’s what happens to you in life.

The cost of freedom is always high, but Americans have always paid it. And one path we shall never choose, and that is the path of surrender, or submission.

Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.

Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity.

A nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.

Do you have a favorite JFK quote?

The little tree that could…

tree

I saw this little tree while I was running in our local arboretum this fall.

It made me stop and take a picture. It also made me think.

You may not be able to tell from the picture, but this tree is not very big. Not a whole lot taller than me.

It reminded me of the Charlie Brown Christmas special.

And, some other principles about little things.

This little tree, one of the smallest in the park, is doing its part, in a marvelous way.

Displaying God’s glory through the amazing colors of fall.

In fact, this was one of the prettiest trees I saw all season.

It made me look. It made me stop. It prompted this post.

And, I was reminded.

Sometimes it is the smallest that brings the greatest impact.

When God chooses, He can use the smallest, or seemingly insignificant, to bring Him the greatest glory.

Because, ultimately, there are no minor players in God’s economy. He works all things for good.

Don’t overlook the small things in life today.

The small gesture. The one kind word. The small start. The beginning stages. The often overlooked. The gentle whisper.

The small things may actually be the big things.

Do not despise these small beginnings” (Zechariah 4:10)

10 Things I’m Learning in Ministry and Life

wisdom road sign arrow

Some are new…some are reminders I’m seeing lived out…

The most mature is often not the one with the most knowledge of Scripture but the one who has learned to most live like Christ.

The longer we sit in the same chair the more ownership we take in it and the less likely we are to want to move from it.

If we want people to grow we have to encourage people to change. Stability isn’t growing. It’s often the level field on the way to a period of decline.

Success in ministry is not always translated into success as a follower of Christ.

Just because they know it doesn’t mean they know how to live it. Or that they live it.

Without a sense of desperation, many people will resist any change you propose.

Pastors are human.

My attitude at the beginning of a day often determines my progress and attitude at the end of the day.

A similar perspective that changes frowns into smiles often changes worry into a prayer…fear into faith…bad days into good.

More talk the talk than walk the walk. And it’s easier. And I’m guilty too at times.

What are you learning these days?

If I Were Going to Start a Blog Today

Blog word.

If I were starting a blog today…I’d do things differently than when I started this one.

I’d be offline for at least 30 days.

Maybe longer.

If I had enough patience…maybe several months.

And, I’d write…just write.

As much or as often as I felt like it.

I’d sharpen my craft.

I’d build a great blog platform (I have to have help with that part.)

I’d read other blogs and gain ideas.

I’d develop some outlines or themes for future posts.

I’d discover my unique voice…what I’m most passionate about writing.

I’d build up a pool of great posts.

But, I wouldn’t release them until I knew I was ready. At least 30 days. Maybe longer.

Then I’d release them at whatever interval I plan to post. (Daily, several times a week, weekly, etc.)

Why?

It would give me an arsenal of posts. I’d have some ready to go and then be able to concentrate of future posts. I’d be thankful to have the margin.

It would give me practice. I would know that I’d need to be able to write frequently if I were going to make blogging work long term. Audiences take time to develop. This would also discipline me to build my blogging muscles.

Here’s what I know now. Most people start a blog, but never continue. This would test my commitment and ability to sustain myself as a blogger. If I were going to start a blog today, I’d first want to make sure I was in it long enough to build my voice.

That’s what I’d do.

How Rumors Spread…

Colleagues interacting

I’m telling you stuff I wouldn’t tell anyone else. I would appreciate you not sharing it. I’m not one to spread rumors.

That was from the guy behind Cheryl and me at a ball game recently. Loud talker guy.

I thought to myself, “That’s exactly how rumors start.” 

In fact, I probably should have said…

“No. You would never spread a rumor. But, you will talk loud enough for everyone around you to hear what you are sharing. About someone. That you probably had no business sharing…even if you were a soft talker. ”

They discussed business, politics and the church. No bases were left untouched. And people were trashed with no opportunity to defend themselves.

But don’t worry loud talker. I’m safe. I won’t share anymore about Bob and all his problems with Tim or what a low life Wayne is because of the way he’s treated Sam.

You’re “non rumors” are safe with me.

(Names have been changed to protect the accused guilty.).

Moral of the story here. And, it applies to all of us…even pastors and bloggers.

Rumors spread because people share them.

And, I’m not angry, even if I sound like I am. Especially not at loud talker. Sadly, he was being no different than many of our conversations. He was just loud enough to get caught. (But, he should lower his voice. :) )

This guy didn’t necessarily anger me. Individually, he would have almost been funny…if it weren’t such a serious issue.

You see, I’ve seen the damage rumors cause. I’ve witnessed individual’s reputations destroyed by rumors. I’ve known rumors to divide a church. Satan uses rumors to spread lies.

So, rumors anger me. It’s sin. Shouldn’t it anger us all? And, at some level we can all be guilty.

Let’s do our part to stop the spread. And, the way to do that is not to share them.

You may now want to read 7 Ways to Stop Gossip or listen to my sermon message on addressing gossip HERE.