Sometimes I Don’t Like Me Very Much …

Can you relate to this title? I am not looking for pity and this is not a passive aggressive attempt for pats on the back. I am simply stating a fact. There are times that I don’t like me very much. These times are usually triggered by my failure to do something that I know needs to be done. Or at least putting it off so long that it becomes an emergency that must be rushed. I don’t like myself in those situations. I usually have some intense conversations with myself in these moments. It is not a pretty picture. But it is true, at least for me. Do you ever have times like this?

I have been wrestling with the why of all this recently. Why do I do this? Why don’t I simply do what I know needs to be done, especially considering that I am painfully aware of the feelings that will pop up if I don’t? Why do I repeat this behavior and put myself into such a frustrating cycle?

After much reflection, I have come up with 3 big whys for this tendency of mine.

My 3 Whys …

-I often delay, avoid, or run from, what I know I need to do because I will have to change some behavior. Ironically, I am a person who generally likes a lot of change. When I hear “We’ve never done it that way before”, my default response is “Great, let’s try it!” And yet, I still resort to familiar, comfortable or convenient behavior when I don’t really want to do something. When this happens, I don’t like me very much.

-I sometimes don’t want to do something because I am not sure I can do it well. As much of an adventurer as I normally am there are times that I back off just because I don’t think I can something well enough. This seemingly random reaction on my part reveals some natural insecurities. Whether it is normal or not, doesn’t help me to like myself any better for not doing it.

-There are also times when I just don’t want to do something because I am afraid that it will work. Think about it. While it is true that if I attempt something and it doesn’t work or I fail at it, I will be sad, maybe embarrassed or mad. It is also true that if I don’t do it well the expectations for the next time will be lowered or, I might not even be expected to do it again. However, if I go for it and it works, then things may never be the same again. This can be a little overwhelming when you think about it. And I think about it a lot. I don’t like myself much when I realize this is the reason I don’t do what I know to do.

I am convinced that these 3 whys are not just issues for me, but that many people struggle with the same or similar issues. I am certain that they show up every Sunday in churches of all sizes, shapes and styles.

What are your whys? Is there one that plaques you more than others?

I am comforted to know that God’s grace is sufficient for all of us. I am motivated to reduce those times of not doing what I know to do by this same amazing grace and by the fact that there are others watching. Let’s encourage one another to make a change, to get over our fears and do what God has created and called us to do and to be who He longs for us to be.

 

Dennis

The Power of Pain …

As I sit here it is 4:00 AM on a Saturday morning. My thoughts are on the fact that my stomach hurts. Don’t feel bad for me there is considerable evidence that I created this pain. I created it because I ate too much Chinese food last night. It tasted so good that I thought a little more was okay. The problem is, I thought a little more was okay several times. So here I am sitting at my computer instead of sleeping.

Then I thought of pain. I am feeling some right now, evidence suggests it is due to the afore mentioned overeating. That led me to thinking about the power of pain. Pain can destroy or it can strengthen and there is much debate about which is more likely. We have all learned, there is no denying that pain is powerful.

Pain often dominates our thoughts when it is present. (It is dominating my thoughts tonight.) Anything that dominates our thoughts is powerful.

Sometimes it is physical pain. It can be temporary, the way I am hoping mine is this morning. Temporary pain can be from an injury that we know will get better quickly. The temporary can be planned, knowing that what we are doing is for our benefit and will be gone in a short time. Exercise can even fit in this category, as in “no pain, no gain”. A minor medical procedure can fall into this category. The key to using the power of temporary pain is to focus on how soon it will be gone and look for how it can bring strength for the future.

There is long term pain. Chronic illness or when an injury is not going to heal in a short time are examples. It is often heard around this type of pain “I am just going to have to learn to live with it”. The power in this pain can be how it can chip away at us physically and emotionally.  This type of pain can wear a person down. There can be strength gained in long term pain when we look at how we are surviving in ways we hadn’t imagined before the pain.

There is another type of pain that might be the most powerful. That is the pain of shattered expectations. The pain that comes when what we were planning and expecting doesn’t happen. This can be somewhat minor as when our team loses or the package doesn’t arrive on time. It can be major such as when the job is gone. When the person we loved is no longer present. When a person we depended on doesn’t do what we expected them to do. This type of pain can be devastating.

When the pain is from shattered expectations we need help from outside ourselves. We may turn to a friend. We may turn to family. We may turn to a counselor. We may turn to God and the Bible.

The intersection of our pain and the need to gain strength to go on is a great place for a turnaround to begin.

In our pain, it is likely that our vision is clouded. The pain can be so dominating that we struggle to focus on anything but the pain. That is where having someone else to grab our hand and guide us in toward a turnaround. Turnarounds are not “scar free zones”. It is rare to come through deep pain without some scarring. But scars are signs of healing.

If you are in pain I am praying for you.

Recently I have had an overwhelming burden for people struggling with pain. Some in physical pain and especially those with long term physical pain. Some in the loss of a loved one. Some of those losses have come through death, others through divorce and some through indifference, but all feeling the pain of the loss. I have also been grieving for those who have been devastated by shattered expectations.

Take some comfort in knowing that someone is praying for you today and part of that prayer is for a turnaround.

Dennis