Saturday, March 23, 2019

I Should...

Have you ever said “I should…” when describing where you feel you are supposed to be in maturity, health, and preparation? I’ve recognized my own list of “shoulds” that have been part of my thinking.

I should...

Be stronger
Be better at this
Be able to figure this out
Be farther along on my journey
Have a better plan
Have more money saved
Be in better shape
Be over this by now
Have better relationships
Be able to adjust more quickly
Be able do more
Be able to bounce back more quickly
Know better

There is a dangerous line between wanting to grow and using the word "should" as a way to shame yourself for things you aren't. Shifting your mindset to use the word “could” instead can actually be helpful. Examining yourself with a healthy perspective allows you to see progressive growth even if you aren’t as far along on that path as you would like to be.

Should is filled with shame. Could is filled with potential.

Keep pushing yourself to become your best version, but don't let gaps in growth and temporary setbacks define your character. See your potential without punishing yourself for not fully living it out yet. Each day presents another opportunity to move closer to your most complete self.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Becoming Clear

"Muddy water becomes clear if you only let it be still for a while.” Dallas Willard

Have you ever faced a confusing or difficult situation and jumped into action only to make it worse? Our desire to make things right or to force an outcome leads us to stir things up when the better choice might be to let them settle instead. 

Part of my natural reaction is to want to fix things. When I see something out of alignment I want to make it right. I don’t think this is a terrible trait, but I have discovered (often the hard way) that making decisions and taking action before things are clear doesn’t always end well. My eagerness has often led me to moving prematurely before fully understanding what’s really happening.

Over the last decade I’ve learned to pause before jumping into situations and asserting myself. As a person of action that hasn’t been an easy habit to develop but has been honed through many difficult life lessons. This is something each of us can develop if we are committed to change. Over time we can then make the conscious decision to pause, take a deep breath, and carefully examine the situation before deciding what to do.

The habit of patient contemplation is often underrated. Allow yourself time and space to think when things are overwhelming and you are unsure. Learning to be still in our thoughts and actions makes the next step more clear.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Measure Carefully

For almost all of my adult life I’ve been a communicator. The platform varied depending on the environment—in the classroom, on athletic fields/courts, in small groups, from a stage, and one-on-one. I feel it’s one of my gifts and something I continue to work to sharpen as my life path continue to evolve. There have been some hard lessons over the years as I haven’t alway communicated in a healthy or constructive way. Damage was often done because I didn’t realize the full power of this gift and didn’t always use it to build others up.

The truth is that all of us are communicators. The size and proximity of our audience may vary, but we all convey information, thoughts, and emotions to the people around us. To understand the impact of what we say it is important to remember a simple truth: our words have weight. Whether we always recognize the result or not, the things we speak will affect others. Those closest to us can often be most wounded by our words. A leadership position in our career also adds weight to what we say and can have unintended consequences if we are careless.

Considering the responsibility of being a communicator might lead us to choose not to share things at all. The better choice is to take a few moments to think about what we have to say before we speak. Once those words leave our mouths they can’t be taken back.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Examine It

Every season and experience of life can be helpful if we take a closer look at it. Each change we undergo offers opportunities to learn and to become more than we are today. With that idea in mind as we begin another year, I recently found myself contemplating the question, "What has 2018 taught you?"

-Your calling isn’t defined by your profession. Your profession gives you an opportunity to live out your calling.

-Even when you strive to look at people through the lens of grace they won’t always act gracefully.

-When you’re unsure of where your future path may lead focus on doing the next right thing.

-Your impact on the people around you is greater and longer lasting than you realize.

-You and your family are tougher and can endure more than you might have thought.

-Freedom is a powerful feeling especially when you haven’t experienced it for some time.

-You can start new things no matter your age.

-Sometimes we need to be told someone believes in us so we can take the next step forward.

-Voices and influences that were once vital to your growth can become detrimental after time.

-Seasons and friendships change and that doesn’t take away from the value they once had even if they are no longer as relevant.

-If you’re the only one working to maintain a relationship it’s clearly not as valuable to the other person as it is to you. Have enough respect for yourself to graciously walk away. 

-New beginnings are always available. You may have firmly believed that for others, but it is solidified as one of your values when you experience that truth for yourself.

-You are a survivor and always have been. Don’t forget that key part of your identity just because certain things you once held closely now fall apart.

-What you once thought was the worst thing that could happen to you can turn out to be best thing for your future.

Your perspective on your present will determine your mindset for your future. Keep going and don’t forget what you’ve already learned.

Saturday, January 5, 2019


We used to have a white mutt of a dog named Zeddie. He was a pretty pitiful dog, but was deeply loved by our family. He was a rescue through another family and it become clear to us early on that he had been abused as a puppy. He become part of our family when he was no more than two years old and yet the abuse he suffered had an impact on him for the rest of his life. He would cringe whenever strangers came around and even acted fearful of us on occasion. No matter how much we continued to love him he still struggled with those base fears that had been imprinted on him when he was younger.

I don't think it's that different for people either. The negative experiences we have in our family of origin, previous relationships, and unhealthy work environments imprint a response on our souls that is difficult to change. Perhaps the most difficult part of our own lifelong education is in un-learning negative patterns, reactions, and assumptions. Like any other lasting change we want to make in our lives this won't happen accidentally. We have to decide to learn not to respond in emotionally unstable ways, not to drift back into destructive habits, and not to flinch every time we approached.

This isn't alway a simple process, but there are some key things we can do to get moving in the right direction.

  • Get out of the unhealthy situation: when things are toxic you need to step away for your own safety
  • Recognize your negative reactions: increase your self-awareness and see where your past experiences are influencing your present behaviors
  • Swap in healthy responses: start changing out fearful, reactionary responses with ones that bring peace to your soul
  • Deal with your grief: meet this head-on as you'll need to address what's happened to you instead of burying it deep and hoping it goes away
  • Move forward: this sounds easier than it actually is and will take longer than you want it to take.
We won’t get it right the first time or every time, but we will get better as we travel this pathway to healing and learn new ways of living fully.