A Certain Point of View

watson mill

Luke: You told me Darth Vader betrayed and miurdered my father.

Obi Wan: What I told you was true, from a certain point of view.

Luke: A certain point of view?

Obi Wan: Luke, you will find many of the truthes we hold are from a certain point of view.

We have all heard the cliché, possession is 9/10 of the law. I think it is equally true, if not more true, to say perception is 10/10 of reality. Our reality is shaped by our perspective – our interpretation and understanding of the events and external stimuli we encounter. How we perceive the world around us becomes our reality. We approach life, situations and problems based on the way we interpret the external influences on us.

What’s the big deal about this? So what? This is critical because it sets the framework for how we react to life. I have been told I’m a ‘the glass is half empty’ kind of guy. I tend to have what some call a pessimistic, defeatist outlook. I would argue, it’s a practical, reality-bases outlook but whatever.

Many circumstances we face can swallowed much easier if we have a proper perspective. As I got up and got ready for work, ate breakfast, drove to work and arrives do late what was the cause? Did my alarm clock purposefully not go off at the appropriated time? Did my boys refuse to get dressed solely to irritate me? Was every other driver on the road setting out to get in my way? Is the world just avainst me today? Or did I have a unique set of circumstances which led to me arriving to work later than I planned? Did these circumstances allow me a few more minutes with my family this morning? As annoying as it is to catch every redlight, I can’t help but wondering what I may have avoided on the road by being stopped at those lights.

Our perspective sets the tone for our attitude and outlook on life. Here are three ways to keep perspective in perspective:

  1. Remember we aren’t alone – We barely are facing a situation which has never been faced before. We aren’t the only ones who have suffered in the way we are suffering and likely not the only ones suffering in this way currently. Remembering we aren’t alone is powerful in dealing with whatever life is throwing at us, because we know we don’t have to do it alone, all by ourselves.
  2. Remember there is a lesson in this – I have come realize even the difficult times of my life have taught me something… especially, he difficult times in my life have taught me. It is through the fire that the core of my being has been forged and made me into the man I am today. I am who I am because of what I have learned in the midst of the chaos that has been difficult times in my life.
  3. Remember someone may need our help –  It is possible there are others around us who are also suffering who need us to be there for them in the difficult times. If we can look around us and see those around us who are suffering, we could be in a position to help those who need it. Maybe we are both on the same journey and we are farther down and have words of encouragement to share. Maybe we have already conquered what they are struggling with. Maybe they can find strength and the ability to carry on because of what they see in us.

Life isn’t always easy. We don’t have the ability to control life, but we can control how we approach it and we can control our response to it. Are we going to assume we have to accept the garbage we face in life or are we going to try to look at life in such a way that we can make the most of it?

It’s all about People

baby eliw

I’m not the best dad this world has to offer.

I’m not the best husband this world had to offer.

I’m not the best brother or son this world has to offer.

I’m not the best friend or co-worker this world has to offer.

 I’m not the best director or supervisor this world has to offer.

But what I am, is implicitly aware one of the things that matters most is relationships with people. People matter more than most other things. The relationships we build with people matter more than most other things. In my line of work, building authentic and trusting relationships are critical. It is the bedrock upon all of what I do is built. I am in the business of people. And people want to know you care about them. People want to know they matter to you.

I have learned there are three sure-fire ways to torpedo a relationship and totally destroy a chance to make an impact in someone’s life.

  1. Sarcasm – This is tough for me, because I fancy myself a sarcasm expert. My ability to use sarcasm extends beyond the average person’s ability. I am really good at it. I can use sarcasm in every scenario. There is no situation where a healthy dose of sarcasm isn’t warranted. Sarcasm is cutting, injurious and it tears down instead of building up. It is the antithesis to building relationships.
  2. Belittle them – This is easier to do than you would think sometimes. It is easy to answer with a short, terse answer that hurts. Belittling comes in many shapes and sizes, but it often looks like treating them, their experiences or ideas as stupid. When we do this, we communicate they are not valued and their ideas aren’t valued. Belittling someone makes them feel small and insignificant.
  3. Dismiss them – Dismissing others tells them they don’t have value. Not just their ideas, but they themselves aren’t valued, aren’t important, they aren’t relevant, that they don’t matter.

On the flip side, I have learned there are at least three ways to build any relationship, deepen it and show those in it you care about them:

  1. Put people first – No matter else is going on, what the heat of the matter is… focus on caring more about the person than the issue. Issues will come and go and aren’t want really matters… people do. Show people you care by placing them above whatever the issues at hand is. More than that support your people. Let them know you have their back and this issue is in no way going to affect your relationship.
  2. Be humble – If you are like me, this is hard. Not because I’m overly prideful (although I am at times), but because this includes a significant amount of vulnerability to admit when we are wrong or to allow others to speak into our lives for purposes of improvement or to offer advice. Humility says, I don’t have all the answers and maybe you can help. Humility is keeping a proper view of ourselves and out limitations. Humility doesn’t have to be right or have the last word.
  3. Put yourself in their shoes – Trying to understand their perspective will go a long way to building your relationship. Being able to consider their side of the story or to see where they are coming from will help you to put them first and remain humble. Understanding their side helps us to understand why they are acting the way they are, it helps us to know their heart.

People are important. People need to know they are important to us. We have to make efforts to ensure people know we care about them and that we are committed to building an authentic, trusting relationship with them. Will you take the extra effort and focus on the relationships with the people around you?

Sleep-Deprived Thoughts and Musings

Sleep is for the WEAKSleep eludes me sometimes.

I begun to realize my life goes in cycles of sleep. It’s been awhile since I’ve had trouble sleeping. Not sure if I could quantify why I haven’t had trouble sleeping until recently.

I wonder if it’s related to stress… although, stress doesn’t seem to explain past experiences with trouble sleeping even it might explain my current stretch of sleep elusion. So, stress maybe the culprit currently but historically it hasn’t been therefore it can’t be the answer.

Anxiety? This doesn’t seem to fit either. I could make a case for higher anxiety currently, but I don’t know if it works historically to explain it.

I suppose it possible I have inadvertently altered my sleep patterns. I’m not staying up particularly later than is ‘normal’ for me. The hang up is, even when I do go to bed I’m unable to sleep. I guess I am starting the going to be process slightly later than normal… but this feels like it would be a waste to head to bed if I’m not going to sleep.

Contentment? Could this be a reason? I feel a fair amount of discontent currently… I don’t know if my discontent and general lack of joy are strong enough to prohibit me from sleeping. It would be hard for me to identify if this reasoning works from a historical perspective. It’s possible. It could make sense. At the same time, it feels as though I have a generally discontented disposition. If I am generally discontented by disposition, then I’m not sure if this explains it due to discontent feeling like a larger over-arching theme in my life not following any sort of cycle.

It’s not outside the realm of possibility, I have sleep issues because I have conditioned myself to be awake late and therefore I am the cause of my trouble sleeping. While this seems like a potential answer, it doesn’t feel right to me. I don’t think I am conditioning myself to stay up later, I think I stay up later because I can’t sleep.

I’m not any closer to understanding why I have trouble sleeping some times. What I do know is stress, anxiety and contentment are withiny power to change.

Stress… there are countless strategies to reduce or relieve stress from our lives. For me, it’s as simple as running, training, Xbox or taking a few quiet minutes to breathe and collect myself.

Anxiety… this is a little more difficult to quiet. But, through quiet time and prayer even this can be calmed. By realizing there are things I can’t effect change upon. Understanding I can only do what I can do and I can’t do anything more. It isn’t always easy and it doesn’t always go away, but I also don’t have to hopelessly accept it always has to be present.

Contentment… sometimes, faking it is the best way to create it. I don’t have any secret recipe or potion to cause contentment. I have been able to draw a connection between my walk with God and my contentment. The closer I walk, the more contented I am. Sometimes it helps to remember not everyone appreciates sarcasm as much as I do and maybe I should be a little nicer. If I try to manifest kindness and gentleness and self-control, it makes it harder to think about how unhappy I am.

Contentment is about happiness. What do I have to be unhappy about? I live a life full of blessing and privilege.

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. (‭Philippians‬ ‭2‬:‭3-4‬ NASB)

Victimology

colbycriminaljustice.wikidot.com/criminal-profiling-2012

colbycriminaljustice.wikidot.com/criminal-profiling-2012

victimology |ˌviktəˈmäləjē|
the possession of an outlook, arising from real or imagined victimization, that seems to glorify and indulge the state of being a victim.
I want to share with you a mindset or approach to life that has crippled me more than anything else other than being a sinful, fallen human being.
Being a victim. I should clarify, I don’t mean I have been crippled by an actual victimization that has occurred. That is different than this. Some of us have experience trauma and abuse and are victims of tragedy. I mean another kind of victim.
I mean the kind of victim that can best be described as passivity. This kind of victim revels in being a victim. This kind of victim using their victim-ness as an excuse to not move forward. This kind of victim is crippled and unable, dare I say unwilling, to make any changes or adjustments to their live in order to grow and move on from whatever circumstance they find themselves in.
This kind of victim is passive. They allow life to happen around them, to them… without taking any stand or trying to effect or impact what is going on around them. This kind of victim assumes they aren’t able to change anything so they don’t try. They passively watch as life passes them by, thinking to themselves how unfair it is that everyone else has everything they want and how good stuff happens to everyone else but me, I’m stuck here in the mud with crap just happening to me.
I am a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern (fancy way to say Licensed Mental Health Counselor in training) and have suffered my share of mental health related difficulties. I am aware of the intricacies of mental health struggles and how difficult it can be to take responsibility and action in our lives. I know how easy it can be to allow life to happen without trying to engage and impact the direction of life. Please understand that when I say, we can’t afford to passively approach our lives.
I only took seven years to complete my Master’s degree, which gave me plenty of time to think through and mull over how I approach mental health. I have realized a couple things about how I approach mental health issues. First, we all have a backstory. Each one of us has a history that helps to explain who we are and where we have come from. For many of us, in that backstory are clues to why we are using the particular coping strategy to manage life. Oftentimes, we don’t even realize our coping strategies are maladaptive or unhealthy… they are the only ones we know.
Secondly, in that backstory is the root issue we must face and overcome if we are to move on with our lives. For each of us this is different. It may be trauma or abuse. It may be our perception of experiences we had growing up. It may be unresolved guilt or anger. Whatever the root issue is, it will eventually have to be overcome.
Thirdly, I know we are responsible for our actions, thoughts and behaviors. We have to be. We aren’t machines or robots. There are at times circumstances making it more difficult for us to act, think or behave in certain ways… but that doesn’t give us a pass to sit back and stop acting, thinking or behaving in rational healthy ways. If we want things to be different in our lives, we are the catalyst to make that happen.
We can no longer accept passivity and victimology. Can’t continue to live life from the sidelines expecting for it to somehow get better or be different if we aren’t willing to get in the game and make an effort to make it different and better. You are responsible for the way you approach life. You are responsible for your victim mindset.
And so am I.
I have come to understand when we approach life and mental health circumstances we have to uncover the root issue in life causing us problems. We have to learn better ways to cope or manage our behaviors. We have to restructure the way we think each day. We have to adjust our behavior patterns to healthier ones, to ones utilizing healthy coping strategies to combat life. We have to take responsibility for ourselves, our actions and the place in life we find ourselves.
I am no longer content playing a passive role in my life, allowing someone else other than me or God to have the spotlight in my life. Are you? Are you ready to actively engage in your life? Let’s and together and overcome passivity and victimology.

Contentment

philippians4-11

Photo courtesy of dailybiblememe.com

Of all the things the apostle Paul wrote, these words are some of the ones I struggle the most with. Words I have some of the hardest time associating with. Learning contentment. This has been a struggle and journey I have been on my whole life.

There have been seasons of my life finding contentment has been easier than other seasons. Some seasons its a minor struggle, others it totally eludes me. Totally.

I wonder what is different about those seasons? Are the desires less? Do I have more of my desires fulfilled? Or is something about me different? Do I walk closer to God during the seasons where contentment comes easier? Do these seasons correlate with seasons of ‘mountaintop’ spiritual seasons? What is the connection and how can I bridge the gap and make the contented seasons become more prevalent?

Why is it so hard to live in a space that seemingly came easily for Paul? I guess it begs the question, did it come easily for Paul? If not, what was his secret and how can I get in on that action?

I can recall reading in the book Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell (I could share many more thoughts on Bell’s books and his current stance on many issues, but now is not the time. Suffice it to say, Velvet Elvis was his first book and therefore remains untainted theologically by Oprah.) that one of the reasons our culture/generation/society has to constantly have music, sound or noise around them is because they are trying to either silence the noise inside their own heads or because they are afraid of the silence that comes from just being still. As I read that years ago, it totally connected with me. It resonated with me. At the time, I constantly had an iPod and earbuds on me or iTunes playing on my MacBook. I couldn’t stand the silence, being left to my own thoughts.

There still remains to question to be answered, what is the cause or root of discontent? The easy answer is sin. Obviously. But really, what is the answer? What is the reason I struggle so much at times with being content?

Because I long for more. My very soul cries out for more. I want more than I can have or am able to have. My soul craves something more. It craves something which can only be filled or supplied by God. The problem is, I often (as all humans do) attempt to fill that longing, that craving with other things which are clearly not able to satisfy. Things unable to fill the hole the void I am desperately attempting to get contented.

Okay. Great. I am trying to make content something which will never be contented because I am trying to content it with the wrong thing.

My heart and soul are restless. It feels as though I need to spend more time finding contentment in God.

I feel as though this is unresolved, but I also feel as though I don’t have much else to say about it right now… I suppose there will be a part two.

Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. Philippians 4:11

Verbal De-Escalation Techniques, Part 1

notesondeescalaton

The notes for these thoughts on verbal de-escalation came from a training given by Laurie Lee, LMHC & CBHA. I am compiling her outline notes in addition to the notes I took during the training.

The first place to start when approaching a situation that may need to be de-escalated, is to know your own style of arguing or conflict. We must know what our own style is so we are able to make adjustments on the fly if needed to the way we interact with others. A helpful question to ask is simply, ‘what is my normal response to an argument?’ There are several common ways people typically respond to arguments. Some of those are: pouting, pampering others, responding passively, protecting or covering up, pleading, verbally attacking, yelling and screaming or threatening. Most people will respond to an argument in one of these ways. They aren’t inherently right or wrong, they are just different ways to respond to conflict. The responses themselves aren’t right or wrong, however what we do with those responses are where the maladaptivity comes into play. Strike that, verbally attacking, yelling and screaming and threatening are inappropriate from the beginning. These responses are maladaptive at their core.

Once we are aware of what our personal style of conflict is, we need to be aware of our triggers. A trigger is something that brings a particular response or creates a set of feelings and emotions causing us to respond. Knowing what triggers we have and how we respond when those triggers present themselves, is critical to appropriately de-escalating a potential conflict before it even starts. I have realized some of my triggers, specifically with my boys, are whining, disrespect, and a general lack of cooperation. When I am faced with these triggers, I have to work very hard to continue in the argument appropriately. Triggers are easy to identify, but difficult to overcome. We need to determine ways to take our triggers and turn them into positive expressions. If we are able to respond to a trigger positively, we will be better suited to de-escalate a conflict before it develops into a full blown conflict.

Being able to de-escalate a conflict before it even starts is a skill which can be taught. Not all conflicts will be able to be de-escalated, but many can be minimized or kept less volatile by engaging in techniques to de-escalate. Knowing how we argue and what our triggers are mark the first steps in being able to de-escalate conflicts. There are many techniques to be learned and skills to add to our skill-set, which we will discover over the next few posts. If we don’t understand where we are and what our starting point is, it will be difficult if not impossible to keep others from escalating into conflict.

Bandwidth

BandwidthI am not a techno-wizard or computer geek or any kind of over the top tech-savy intellectual giant by any means. I know enough to get by… maybe enough to be dangerous with my knowledge. But, as I understand bandwidth it speaks to an amount of capacity something is able to handle. For instance, your internet has a specific amount of data that can flow down to your computer and back up to the internet. This is bandwidth. This is the amount of information that can come and go freely. When the bandwidth gets bogged down or bottled up, the info doesn’t flow freely and slows down dramatically. Causing issues. This is one reason why cable modems have been superior to DSL modems in the past. Cable modems have a specific amount of bandwidth dedicated to your specific location while DSL modems dedicated to say the block and if everyone is using the DSL modems to stream Netflix at the same time, no one will enjoy it.

We as humans, have a certain amount of bandwidth. I have noticed bandwidth within humans is a lot like pain. My threshold is not your threshold. You may find it very painful to have your fingernails clipped, while I may enjoy bamboo shoots under my nails. It is all relative. So is bandwidth. For a variety of reasons, we each have our own level of bandwidth and capacity to manage tasks or responsibilities.

One lesson I learned at H2O Church Orlando, is I have the tendency to overestimate my bandwidth. I was not unique in this. The other pastors at H2O had the same problem. John and I used to say, ‘for guys like us who are able to do so many things very well, it is hard for us to not overcommit to stuff that needs to be done.’ It was a half-joke, but also true. When you bandwidth allows you to accomplish much and when you are talented at many things, you tend to overestimate what you can and can not do therefore overextending yourself and overloading your actual bandwidth.

Going hand in hand with the lesson on overestimating my bandwidth and thereby over committing myself, I had to learn how to determine what were reasonable additions to my proverbial plate that my bandwidth could handle. What I had to do was come up with a strategy to realistically assess whether I could handle the added responsibilities and pressure. What I began to do (with varying degrees of success along the way) was ask myself these questions:

1. Is this something that is important to me? The first place to start is by determining whether the new task is something you actually care about. Are you passionate (I dislike use of that over-played word), excited, fired up, really interested and care strongly for the new responsibility? IS this something you see as a priority and needs to be done and you have the interest and skill set to do it? If you can’t answer yes to this question, you should strongly reconsider taking on this new thing whatever it is and however vital it is. There is nothing more taxing and stressful to our bandwidth than to take on something we could care less about.

2. Do I have the skill set to do this? I alluded to it in the first question, but this is a deeper exploration of the required skills and abilities to accomplish the responsibility in question. There are a wide range of things I am good at. There are even a handful of things I am really good at. There is a plethora of things not falling even remotely close to my wheelhouse, things I am not good at at all. When considering taking on new responsibility, we have to realistically assess our abilities and what it is going to take to successfully accomplish the task, not just do it. If the new responsibility doesn’t fall within the range of things we do either good or really good, we shouldn’t do it. While still taxing and stressful to our bandwidth, taking on things we aren’t skilled to do also is detrimental to the responsibility in question because it could fail due to our inability to accomplish it and our unrealistic assessment of our skills.

3. The third question I ask myself is, does it fit into my schedule or am I willing to rearrange my schedule to make it fit? This is critical. If we are super excited on fire about something we are over the top skilled to do, but have no time to do it… why are we taking it on? No matter how excited we are or how skilled we are, if we can’t find time to do it, it won’t get done. It just won’t. And what have we accomplished by adding something else we don’t have time for into our schedules? Nothing. We haven’t accomplished anything… literally, cuz it didn’t get done. I have found by adding every minutiae to a calendar so I can see how everything fits, is very useful when determining whether something can be done or not. I used to be super-organized (I have slipped dramatically in recent years), but this kind of organization and control over my time has been exceedingly helpful in making an informed decision about whether I can realistically do something or not.

Our bandwidth is not limitless. There is a finite amount of space we have and ability to realistically commit to various responsibilities taxing our lives. We will be better served and more effective in everything we do, if we ask ourselves these three questions when looking to add something new to our lives. If we want to be successful in what we put our hands to, we have to realistically assess if our lives are arranged in such a way that we may be effective in this new responsibility. This isn’t just a good idea, its scriptural. Paul writes in Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men,”. If we are overcommitting ourselves and adding more things we aren’t capable of actually doing we are not giving God what he deserves. We are not doing it ‘heartily’ or to the best of our abilities.

I am learning to be realistic about myself and my bandwidth. I have also found there is much more joy in being able to say yes to what I can accomplish and accomplishing it than there is adding something I can’t handle and not finishing and having to step away from it because I am unable to follow through and complete. These questions may not be the solution for you, but I bet they are a good place to start.

Do you have any advice or processes which you use to think through what your bandwidth is capable of? I’d love to hear them.

Curve Ball

IMG_6398I’m not into baseball. Never really have been. Of course, when I was younger I had the fascination all boys have with baseball. Even been to a few baseball games. I’ve actually been to more MLB games than I have NFL games which is real strange because I like football way more than I do baseball. I understand the strategy to some degree. And I understand baseball is a difficult game to play. Andy Stanley speaks about the difficulty in hitting a fast ball thrown by a pitcher in his book 7 Practices of Effective Ministry. Suffice it to say, the odds are against the batter.

In reality, we all play baseball in some form in our lives. Life has a habit of throwing us curve balls.

When a pitcher throws a curve ball, they want to the batter to think the ball is going to one place instead of where it is really going. In midair the ball will change directions, alter its trajectory and go somewhere unintended. Curve balls are meant o confuse and overwhelm the batter. Curve balls thrown by the pitcher in an effort to make the batter miss and strike them out.

I started to ask, ‘has life ever thrown you a curve ball?’ but decided the question was silly. If you have ever breathed, you have had a curve ball thrown at you. Life has a habit of throwing curve balls in an effort to make us miss and confuse us.

I am thinking about this today, because it occurs to me I have experienced another curve ball recently. I am standing at home plate realizing the ball just flew past me because it was not where I expected it to be. The trajectory, the flight path had been altered mid-flight.

I could, I suppose, muse and wonder the why of the curve ball. I could attempt to understand the lesson or meaning behind the curve ball. I could theorize what growth this curve ball is meant to inspire within me. I could ask God how could he let this curve ball be thrown at me.

But I’m not.

I would rather share the feelings this curve ball has elicited within my heart and soul. Not to resolve anything. Not to find any answers to any dilemma. But to express how I am feeling so I feel better. There is real power and freedom in expressing how we feel at any given moment.

I feel hurt. No, i feel sad. I feel sad become it feels as though something was taken away from me. I am sad because my heart is telling me there is no justice in this, but my brain is trying to make me understand this is how life works. I feel sad because others in my family are experiencing great pain and discomfort because of this curve ball. It makes me sad to watch family suffer.

I feel like something was taken away from. I feel as though there is a piece of me missing. A regular part of my day is now gone. A piece of me I had relied on daily is not there anymore. I have an emptiness where something very special, and important to me once resided.

I feel lost. I mean there are many times throughout each day I want to connect with this missing piece of my life via phone call, text, twitter, Facebook, youtube and many other ways I fueled my connection and now I can’t… and I’m not sure what to do. I haven’t lost meaning to my life, but I have lost something. Maybe it is more expressive to say I feel a sense of loss. That could be the best way to describe the whole conversation.

I feel loss. I feel something is missing. And I feel sad because of my loss and sense of missingness.

This feeling is not unique to me. I haven’t stumbled upon some experience none other has ever felt. I daresay, we have all felt a sense of loss in life. And it is likely that sense of loss came as a curve ball went zinging past us.

Where do we go from here? I am acknowledging my feelings as real and legitimate. And then I’m standing tall at home pate prepared for the next curve ball, hoping I can force it into a homerun instead of a strikeout.

Relief from My Distress

15727_20609_5
Answer me when I call to you,  my righteous God.  Give me relief from my distress;  have mercy on me and hear my prayer.
Psalm 4:1
Give me relief from my distress. This really stands out to me today. For some reason I feel distressed today. I have committed to stop drinking coffee (again). In the last 12 days or so I have had coffee three times and two of them have been times I have felt stressed and as though I need a release from said stress.. Today is one of those days. I am not sure if I could quantify why it is, but I feel pressure today. I feel pressure for work, I feel pressure for church, I feel pressure for home, I feel pressure for personal life, I feel pressure everywhere. It is in a moment as this, I find myself wanting to be a part of a small group of men with whom I can find confidence and community. Not really an accountability group or mentoring one… just something where I can hang out and we can do life together, as cliche as that sounds/is. It feels as thought the pressure I feel could have some release if I had a community like this to engage in. But this has little to do with the pressure specifically, or how I may find release of it in God.
Why should I feel distress? Am I holding back from giving something to God that he can handle and relieve the distress from me. At this moment, my mind wanders to Jesus’ words in Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” It’s almost as if he knew his children would feel pressure, feel the weight of life and feel the need for rest. It’s almost as though he has felt this same pressure, this same need for release, this same heavy burden of life. Therein lies the need for a Savior who was human just like me, a Savior who has experienced exactly what I experience, a Savior who has walked in my shoes.
Honestly, as I have come to understand God and his interaction with me individually through Jesus and the Holy Spirit I have come a greater understanding of the lengths God has gone to in order to have the greatest amount of empathy possible. God took it upon himself to become like me so he could understand the struggles of being me day in and day out. It adds a huge amount of credibility to his claims of being able to offer me the rest and relief from distress I seek knowing he has walked through the same trials as me. For me, this is why i turn to God in times of distress. Because I have experienced him in such a way that I find his claims to be relevant and true. His claims that he can offer what no other ‘god’ can offer to be truthful. In my times of distress I have trusted in every of possible avenue to relieve the distress and none of them worked. None provided the relief I was looking for.
Jesus’ words to find in him rest for a weary soul are refreshing words to me, someone who has looked for rest and found it nowhere else but in him. Today, as I feel distress and pressure and the need for release I will find the rest and relief and release in a God who can offer a lighter burden to me. What about you? Will you allow Jesus to carry your burden?

Quicksand

Found at: denvercounseling.com/quickstand-depression/

Found at: denvercounseling.com/quickstand-depression/

I love the movie the Replacements. Just a great movie. I think what I like the most about it is that it’s a movie about a team of underdogs captained by the chief dark horse. Just a fun movie with lots of humor.

One of favorite scenes is when they are in the locker room & coach asks what they are afraid of. Bees. Spiders. And finally quicksand. While I am afraid of spiders… on this list quicksand is the most terrifying to me.

Not quicksand quicksand. But quicksand where we get into something and begin to sink

The more we struggle or try to get out the deeper we sink.

Terrifying. It’s taps into our primal fear of not only dying, but failing too.

This must have been what Peter felt like when he got out of the boat. He gets out on the water a bit. And begins to sink. He has lost focus and is sinking. The more he struggles, the more he sinks because he is increasingly losing focus on Jesus.

We often beat Peter up for losing focus… but 11 other dudes stayed in the boat. Just an observation. Peter was apparently the only one brave enough, or dumb enough, to get out of the boat. But he did.

In the midst of the quicksand we find ourselves in, the answer is the same for us as it was for Peter. Focus on God. The Psalmist writes, “Be still and know that I am God” (Ps. 46:10). The way out of the quicksand is to:

  • Be still – calm down. Breathe. Slow down and stop being frantic. When we feel pressed on every side it rarely is helpful to freak out. It usually doesn’t get us anywhere to flail arms and legs. Slow down. Focus on our options and see the way out.
  • Don’t panic – panic is never the answer. Unless you are being chased by a T-Rex… then panic is the only answer. James encourages us to be of sober mind & sound spirit, which doesn’t sound like panic.
  • Know that I Am is God – this is subtle here, but we can’t miss it. When God called Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt he told Moses to tell pharaoh ‘I Am’ had sent him to deliver his people. God’s name is an expression of existence. There is no question as to whether he is God of everything, simply because he exists. But this also reminds all who reads this, like God delivered the Israelites from bondage in Egypt, so will he deliver all who call on his name.
I write this from quicksand. This week my plate feels very full. I feel as though I am having a hard time balancing it. As I meditated on my situation these thoughts came to mind. I’d like to say I was praying or reading the bible at the time… but it’d be a lie. I was driving worrying about all I have to get done.

God is God. God is sovereign and the king of all things. I trust him with my life.

I’m not afraid of quicksand. Even when it suffocates me.