When the Holidays Aren’t So Happy

During this time of year, I know it’s not all turkey and tinsel for everyone.   The stark contrast of the celebratory season to some of our painful realities is a lot to bear.  Some friends of mine going through a difficult season right now are asking, “How do I manage the {emotional,  mental, spititual} pain?”.

There are so many ways to manage pain…. Some are not so good – like numbing the pain with substances, food, activities, and so forth.  Other ways of managing pain are much healthier – like relaxation techniques, praying, talking things through with a counselor or a friend, and journaling.

But for me, personally, what helps the most is thankful worship to my amazing God.  So, as we enter in to this Thanksgiving season, let me share one of my favorites with you.  It is a song by Bethel Worship called “Come to Me“. I love the lyrics (I’ve emphasized some if my favorites below).  I especially like the conversational feel of this track.  It begins with God singing over us and then we sing back to Him in response.

Will singing this or songs like it make your pain instantly go completely away? Of course not.  But it will definitely shift your soul in the direction of healing.

Worship will help you cultivate a thankful spirit. And where there is thanksgiving,  hope is easier to embrace.

COME TO ME – LIVE
CCLI# 6147419

Written by Jenn Johnson

© 2013 Bethel Music Publishing. All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission.

VERSE 1

I am the Lord your God
I go before you now
I stand beside you
I’m all around you
Though you feel I’m far away
I am closer than your breath
I am with you, wherever you go

VERSE 2

I am the Lord your peace
No evil will conquer you
Steady now your heart and mind
Come into my rest
Oh let your faith arise
Lift up your weary head
I am with you, wherever you go

CHORUS 1

Come to Me, I’m all you need
Come to Me, I’m everything
Come to Me, I’m all you need
Come to Me, I’m everything

BRIDGE 1

I am your anchor
In the wind and the waves
I am your steadfast
So don’t be afraid
If your heart and flesh fail you
I’m your faithful strength
I am with you, wherever you go

BRIDGE 2

When the storm rages
I won’t be afraid
I have locked eyes
On You face to face
Your voice I will follow
Your eyes I will see
I’ll come a little closer
Come close to me

BRIDGE 3

You are my anchor
In the wind and the waves
You are my steadfast
I won’t be afraid
Even in the darkest night
I know You are there
So I press into You, Jesus
And lose all my doubt

BRIDGE 4

You are my anchor
In the wind and the waves
You are my steadfast
I won’t be afraid
If my heart and flesh fail me
You’re my faithful strength
You are with us
Wherever we go

CHORUS 2

We come to You
You’re all we need
We come to You
Our everything

#LunchtimeInspiration: Where’s Your Center?

A friend just shared this verse and quote with me that made me reassess where my “center” is today.  Great stuff – so I thought I would share!

“…who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began.” 2 Timothy 1:9

vernick quote1

Who is Your Soul Anchored to?

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Who is your soul anchored to? And, more importantly,  in which direction are they pulling you?

If a relationship (friend, family member, significant other, colleague) consistently hooks you in to reactions of anger, fear, guilt, or shame – this could be a sign that your soul is more anchored to that relationship than it is to God. 

Even the most wonderful human is subject to gravity and is naturally pulled in a downward motion. But God defies gravity and a soul truly anchored to Him cannot help but be pulled higher. So where you attach yourself determines your direction.

So if you find that any other human has a great deal of control over your feelings and reactions, it’s time to detatch.  Does this mean a physical detachment? Not necessarily – however, in severe cases a season of physical distance may be necessary to facilitate emotional detachment and healthy rebuilding of the relationship   You see, attachment is not love and healthy relationships do not nourish a sense of attachment (or deindividualization). Just because you emotionally detatch/disentangle yourself from someone doesn’t mean you do not love them. On the contrary,  this disentanglement is the only way to love them well.

When you detatch, you still love –  but you do not assume responsibility for their individual actions. 

For instance, if a good friend at work is in a bad mood because she is having conflicts with other coworkers, it is neither my job to get her back in a good mood nor is it my job to “fix” things with the other coworkers. Yes, I may try to uplift her spirits with a kind word, cup of coffee, or her favorite candy bar – but if her mood does not improve In spite of my actions – I am still OK and I go on about my day. I don’t get pulled into any bitterness or anger she may be harboring.  Additionally, though I may offer advice on how to improve her coworker situation  – but whether or not she follows that advice – is completely her responsibility. 

Also, if my friend’s sharing of her less-than-ideal situation morphs into gossip and ongoing bitter venting – things that don’t benefit anyone – my relationship with her in no way obligates me to become her emotional dumping grounds for bitterness she has allowed to fester.  It is healthy to say “Since this conversation doesn’t seem to be moving toward solutions or talking with the person rather than about the person, I am going to have to end this conversation {hang up, walk away, etc} for now”.  And an individual who is healthy relationally will understand and respect your decision and it may very well move her to a healthy perspective of her situation.

If you are unhealthily attached to someone, however, you will allow yourself to participate in a conversation or activity with them that causes a great deal of discomfort, concern, and/or conviction in your spirit. (See God’s advice in Psalms 1:1-2 about pulling away from people who are pulling you down). The only one you should anchor yourself to no matter what they do is God, because on His actions are always good and right.

This unhealthy sense of attachment that will eventually erode your mental, social, and spiritual health is called codependcy by some.  But God calls it sin. You see, if you allow anyone or anything to rule your life but God? You are participating in idolatry.

Bit if you acknowledge, repent, and release this unhealthy weight from your soul, God is standing by faithful waiting to disentangle your soul fron all thay weighs you down. And in exchange, He will bind your heart to His instead amd together you’ll soar to new heights.

So, today… If you find your emotions in a mangled mess. It may be time to do a heart check and make sure your soul is anchored only to the One True Hope.

“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf.” – Hebrews 6:19-20a NIV

I find, the quickest way to realign my soul with God’s truth and His heart for me is by worshipping with great music. So here’s a little something to help disentangle your heart if you find yourself weighed down by relational drama:

When a Manger Scene Almost Becomes a Major Scene

So, earlier today, I had an “almost-broke-down-in-the-middle -of-my-workday” moment.  When I walked through the hospital lobby, I noticed they had set up a beautiful manger scene. My Mom loved and collected manger scenes.   So tears started welling up thinking how much I wanted to show it to her or at least call her and tell her about it.  It doesn’t cease to surprise me how grief can rise up so strong at a moment’s notice – even though my Mom entered Heaven a few years ago now.  Those moments also don’t seem to care where you are when they appear.  I almost had a mini-meltdown in the lobby of the hospital where I work.

But then God sweetly whispered to my spirit, “Your Mom doesn’t have to look at a plaster replica of a version of me anymore. She sees ME”.  And somehow that perspective changed everything. Yes…. I miss her terribly even after several years. But she – like me – lived deeply in love with Jesus and always longed to see Him Face to Face.  So thoughts of the joy and fellowship she is experiencing with the “grown up version” of the Baby Jesus she loved to display (even when it wasn’t Christmas) changed my near “miss-my-Mom-meltdown” into a moment of thanksgiving for a depth of Grace that goes far beyond any grief or pain we might taste in this life.

mcm manger scene

“For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known” –  I Corinthians 13:12  NIV