Posts tagged ‘Authenticity’

Confessions of a Control Freak

I come from a long line of control freaks. My mother was a control freak with anger issues. My grandmother was a control freak who used sugary sweet manipulation to entangle her victims. And my grandfather was nothing short of a force to be reckoned with. They say the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree, and that has never been more evident than in my life.

At first, I thought that I was simply a people-pleaser who was being controlled by more than my share of control freaks. That might have been true at times.

But like Clark Kent, I could easily transform—without the help of a phone booth—into a super control freak if put in the right situation.

So the thought that I could be a control freak seemed unimaginable. I even hated the sound of the words. I wanted to say that I’m just conscientious, hard-working, and meticulous—but never a control freak!

“I” opening moment

It took years for God to finally open my heart to the fact that “I” was the worst control freak in my life. And then it was just a matter of time before the horrible truth about control freaks came spilling out . . .

The truth that control freaks lack faith in God.

They question if God is really as good as He says He is and worry that He might not rescue them from their troubles.

So all good control freaks must keep their cape tucked neatly in their backpacks for just such an occasion—the time when God wouldn’t come through for them and save the day!

Once I finally accepted the ugly truth, I felt afraid that people would find out and reject me and my control freaky ways. However, at some point, I realized that I couldn’t “control” that.

So here’s I a couple of ways I use to curb my control-freaky ways . . . (yes, it’s a work in progress)

 1. Make myself accountable

I share my weaknesses with certain people I trust in my life and give them permission to speak truth into my life. I don’t always like what I hear—especially at first. But I’ve come to realize that God uses these people to chisel away the rough spots in my life—one of which is my need for control.

2. Surrender my illusion of control to God

This is a daily, even moment by moment battle. But when my anxiety is on the rise, I take notice and immediately turn my problem over to Jesus before my control freaky ways kick into high gear.

If you can relate, then take the humble first step of admitting the fact that you are a control freak . . . at least once in a while.

If I hadn’t come clean with God and others, I would’ve continued to wall people out, offend some, destroy God-given opportunities, and make royal messes in my life and relationships (check out messymarriage.com for a few chronicled examples).

I’ve put away “my cape” and changed from management to God-agement! After all . . .

 God truly is the only One who can save the day!

Miscellany Monday @ lowercase letters
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Are You Wondering Why God isn’t Helping You?

People look to me as a counselor to help them resolve conflicts in their lives, and I want to help them! But there’s one thing that has to happen for progress to begin—a willingness to admit the problem. You might think, “Well, duh! Isn’t that what the client is doing when they come to see you, Beth?” And I would say, sometimes “yes” and sometimes “no.”

It takes great courage to admit a problem and leave it out in the open for examination and challenge. But unless the client is willing to tell me what the real problem is, I can’t help them.

It’s like going to a doctor with a broken leg and telling him that your stomach hurts. Maybe you do have an upset stomach, but the real problem is your leg! So you walk limp out the door with a prescription for Nexium, when you really need a cast.

God is the same way. He doesn’t force himself into our lives and demand that we tell him our problems. But very often, if we don’t turn to Him, He’s the first one we blame for not fixing our problem(s).

I’ll admit it, I’ve resisted God. If you want to look at a post during one of my resistant moments check out “Boxing with God.” But I’m so glad that I’ve dropped my “dukes” and leaned into His strong embrace. It has made all the difference!

Every single day He’s teaching me things as I rely on Him. It’s not easy. To tell you the truth, it can be down-right uncomfortable to deal with these painful lessons and revelations. But at least I’m getting what needs to be healed, healed!

God is a gentleman. He’s patient and will not force Himself into the problems of your life. And He’s not like a busy-body who “rescues” you from troubles that you don’t even think or know you have. And when we finally do turn to Him with our pain, sometimes His prescription seems to hurt almost as much as the cure. But . . .

He knows what He is doing! He is the Great Physician.

It may take more time and possibly more pain than we want to go through. But just think of how terrible it would be if you kept your “broken leg” without going through the pain of treating it properly. You’d experience ten times more pain and difficulty in keeping that crooked leg—aye, Gimpy?!

So, go ahead – make an appointment with him today. After all, the Doctor is always in!

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3 Life-Changing Things My Mother Taught Me

Me and My Mom - cropped from a family picture (that apparently was dragging on too long for me!)

Here it is the week before Mother’s Day and it’s gotten me to thinking about my mother. Very often I have, unfortunately, used her as an example of what not to do in my marriage relationship.  After all, I didn’t look to my dad to figure out how to be a wife and mother! For good or ill, my mother was my inspiration for all array of women’s ways.

So, as I reflect on her life and its impact on me, I have to give credit to her for the many ways she showed me how to be a better mom than I would have been on my own.

Here are some of the best things my mom taught me:

1.  How to open up and share the deepest feelings I have inside with trusted friends and family

I know this is a special gift that God wanted me to have through my mother. I see it being used now in my life and ministry every day. And although my own sons are like most boys who don’t want to talk about “feelings,” I have to hope that my candor with and in front of them will help them to be better husband’s and father’s someday.

2.  How to depend on God as if my life depended on it!

That’s because my life does depend on it, but I don’t think I would have known that if my mother hadn’t patiently mentored me in my faith. God became real to me in those times when she pulled up a chair and talked with me about the hurts I was experiencing in life—always using the Bible as her guide. Her compassion gave me a glimpse into the compassion of God, my heavenly Father.

3.  How to be committed

If there is one thing that both of my parents modeled well, it was commitment—to each other and to God. They were willing to weather the hard times together, always striving for that unifying focus in their Lord and Savior. If God asked them to do something, like work through the pain and misery of a wounded marriage, then they were willing to do it. I guess that’s one of the reasons I’m so committed to helping messy married couples too.

It’s your turn now, . . .

What positive things has your mother taught you?

And if she’s still alive, why don’t you tell her! That may just be the best Mother’s Day gift she will ever receive!

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The Secret to Finding a Good Secret-Keeper

Last week I urged you to open up and share your secrets with others. But then I realized that some of you may not know whom to do that with, and trust me, it can’t be with just anybody!

The people you share your secrets with should also be the people who:

1. Keep your secrets only to themselves

Usually you can spot these people by their tight-lipped attitude about the secrets they know from others. They are not gossips. In fact, if you should try to gossip to them, they may well ask you to refrain or at least change the subject.

2. Accept you

When you are accepted, you will feel cared for. But if you feel judged by this person even when you are not sharing a secret, then pass them on by when it comes time to disclose.

3. Have a track record of respect and commitment to you

There’s a temptation to tell your secrets to friends whom you don’t know well enough yet. But if you haven’t had lots different conversations or interactions with a certain person, then hold on to your secrets for another day. It takes months, even years to know if someone is trustworthy.

4. Are humble and authentic about their own lives

You’ll feel comfortable with these kinds of people because they’ve let you peer into their secret world. They’ve dropped their guard and been willing to admit their own failures with you.

5. Increase your emotional and spiritual growth

We may be tempted to share our secrets with our “partners in crime,” but don’t go there! If you have a friend who doesn’t bring out the best in you—emotionally, relationally, spiritually—then that’s not a friend you want carrying your sacred secret.

Now my list is not exhaustive, nor is it a rigid set of rules. Remember, no one is perfect! The people whom you’re considering telling your secrets to may have failed you at one time or another in the past. The point is, do they have a good overall track record? If so, don’t wait another day. Let the healing begin!

Perhaps you know of another important character quality that you look for in someone whenever you share a secret.

If so, please share your criteria on the subject!

After all, we’d all love to know what your secret is … to finding a secret-keeper!

“A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret.” Proverbs 11:13 (NIV)

We’re Only as Sick as Our Secrets

Have you ever tried to hide the fact that you have a cold?

It’s kind of hard to do, but I’ve done it before.

Recently I had a cold on the day that my husband and I were going to go on a date. In spite of my wayward nose, I decided that I felt good enough to go to the movies with him. But several times throughout the movie, I felt the need to blow my nose. I guess I could have excused my way to the end of the aisle each time to blow my nose in the privacy of the bathroom, but I chose not to disrupt the movie goers who were next to me.

Yeah, right!

Instead, I treated them to the sounds of a never-ending snot fest as I blasted my way to the end of my mucus. Minutes later, I felt the urge to once again indulge my neighbors in the symphony of a head cold—giving special attention to my horn section!

Hiding my cold was futile … and that’s the way secrets are too.

We think that we can keep them hidden and they will, in turn, keep us safe. But secrets have a way of showing on the outside to anyone who draws near.

Secrets infect. Secrets ooze. Secrets held within, work their way out like disturbing drainage. They are not silent prisoners that we can contain. They are like the continual vexation of post-nasal drip. Ugh!

Have I made the metaphor run on and on too long?

Let me just say, I used to try to hide my secrets. I finally realized that my secrets were making me sick. I began to be open and vulnerable with the people I trusted the most. It took time, but eventually I began to feel better.

The Bible says, “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so God can heal you.” James 5:16a (NCV)

Oh, and never, ever forget –

“…The truth will set you free!”

5 Things You Should Do If You Want to be Rejected

  1. Always wear a mask – Your mantra should be to never let anyone know who you really are or how you truly feel. That way you’ll appear to have it all together and no one will be able to relate to you.
  2. Never show your softer emotions – This means that you should never cry around anyone or appear to be moved by anyone’s pain or feelings. When you practice this strict discipline, you’ll appear to be either a cold, distant robot or a perfectionistic control-freak. Either way, you’ll have people running for the hills in no time. I’ve tried this. I promise, it really works great!
  3. Judge someone’s motives – Now this is easily achieved when you’re in the heat of debate. But please don’t make the fatal mistake of mentioning their behavior. After all, they can prove you wrong in that realm. So focus only on what you cannot see—their motives—then they’ll never know what hit them. Of course, rounding it out by casting a pious look their way adds power to the punch.
  4. Never apologize – This is like a gunfighter dropping his weapon in the middle of a dual—how crazy is that? Unfortunately, admitting how you were wrong changes the dynamic on a dime—so avoid it like the plague!
  5. Never forgive – This is similar to “never apologize” except that it can be done covertly. This means that the awkward distance they are feeling with you can only be felt and never identified. It’s the perfect way to keep people from coming back, or for that matter, coming toward you in the first place! It’s a true win-win!

Although we may laugh at this and not take it seriously, looking at rejection from this angle makes it a little easier to see our tendency to do many of these things—unintentionally, of course!

So take a minute and score yourself on these 5 issues (or if you’re brave enough, have someone else score you!) — rating a “1” for not at all to a “10” for this is me to the core! Then take the time to work on the area(s) where you scored highest.

I have to admit, I really need to work on number 2—and just so you know, I’m crying now as I admit this! (wink! wink!)

Reality Shows

“As a face is reflected in water, so the heart reflects the real person.” Proverbs 27:19 (NLT)

I read this verse this morning. It’s a verse that is packed with so much truth, and we often don’t even realize it or stop to ponder it. Instead, we nod our heads and move on to hunt for other more profound sounding truths or simply settle for interesting tidbits that distract us in our day.

As a counselor, I’ve seen this truth displayed in front of me time and again. And when it does, it screams at me loudly, although no one else may hear it. A client will come to me thinking that they can pull the wool over my eyes, their spouse’s eyes, or any one else who might be near and dear to them.

However, most people can sense it. It might be that you feel that something just isn’t right about what the person says or how he/she acts, but you can’t quite put your finger on what it is. I deal with people like that so much that I think my senses are heightened to it.

Don’t get me wrong. Just because I can spot this kind of “hiding” doesn’t mean that I am free of it in my life or the delusion that it creates. It’s just that I’ve done a lot of hard work, soul searching, confessing and surrendering to get to the point of realizing I need to be real about who I am. And, yes, I still want to hide my bad side every now and then. In fact, since I’ve launched my new blog, messymarriage, I feel that desire to run and hide more than ever.

But I know that redemption and freedom come from being authentic about my humanness, my brokenness. So I press forward toward the goal.

If there’s one thing that I hope you get from this post, it’s this: Don’t think you can fool anyone because, as the title of the book I still hope to complete says, reality shows. And, and by the way, hiding doesn’t work either. You may think that no one can see beyond your mask. But if you relate to anyone for very long, they will see through the mask to who you really are.

They may be confused by it.

They may feel rejected by you, and not know why.

All or most of your relationships may have conflict, disharmony or distance because of it.

But until you decide to be real with yourself, with others and with God, you won’t live the life that God so desperately wants to live through you. You won’t be able to find healing and hope.

My prayer for you is that you would trust God enough to be real about who you are!

Are you up for the challenge?

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