What to Do in Times of Crisis

Sometimes the only right decision is to stop making decisions.

When we’re in a state of crisis, we often try to fix things with certainty. We want answers.

But this state of being is akin to quicksand: The harder we try to climb our way out, the lower we sink. The only way to survive is to make no sudden movements, to get comfortable with the discomfort, and to find peace without answers.

We can never glimpse the end of a path, but if we squint hard enough, we can see the next step. We squint by being still and quiet for a few minutes every day, through prayer.

We ignore the big decisions, knowing that they’ll make themselves, and we focus on the small ones. The ones right in front of us.

Crisis comes from the word meaning “to sift”. During times of crisis, if we let it all fall away, we’re left with what matters. What matters most cannot be taken away.

And maybe what we don’t know, we’re not supposed to know yet. More will be revealed. So we just do the next right thing, one thing at a time.

Anxious Thinking

“Don’t let anxious thinking replace vulnerable feelings.”

Our Personal Warning Label

Surgeon_General's_warning_cigarettes

“I think we should be born with a warning label similar to the ones that come on cigarette packages:

Caution: If you trade in your authenticity for safety, you may experience the following: anxiety, depression, eating disorders, addiction, rage, blame, resentment, and inexplicable grief.

– Brene Brown

Why New Year’s Eve is Just Entirely Too Much Pressure

Maybe it’s just me but the holidays are a stressful time, with New Year’s Eve being perhaps the worst of all. It all starts with Halloween, the momentum builds as we approach the holiday season and things seem to rapidly progress from there. I’m usually so caught up with Thanksgiving and Christmas that I almost forget entirely about New Year’s Eve, leaving me to scramble for plans at the last minute. Personally, I find there to be entirely too much pressure surrounding the night for it to be even the least bit enjoyable.

Don’t get me wrong. I love a good gathering and excuse to celebrate. It’s just that when it comes to New Year’s Eve, the whole thing seems overrated. Expectations are so unreasonably high that they can’t possibly be met. This year, I’ve finally pinpointed exactly why I feel stressed on New Year’s Eve. I decided to share this list, in case there are others who share my sentiments about the holiday. I hope you know that you are not alone. Here are 10 reasons why New Year’s Eve is just entirely too much pressure.

  1. You’re forced to face the fact that you didn’t fulfill 90% of last year’s resolutions. The year is coming to a close, fast. Where did the time go? Wasn’t it just last January that you were making a list of all the ways you’d better your life and self in the coming year? Yes, it was just last January. And guess what? It’s about to be January again. The plain truth is that the older we get, the faster time flies. New Year’s Eve calls for our reflection on an entire year’s worth of successes and failures in one day. It’s all too much to process at once and frankly, it doesn’t seem healthy.

  1. You have to choose what party to attend. Choosing what party to attend on New Year’s Eve is the first of many anxiety-invoking decisions. There are far too many options. And no matter what you do, it won’t be good enough. There is always the chance that you missed out on something better. Trying to decide where you want to spend the last night of the year can really be a source of undue stress. And sadly, you do kind of have to make a decision, since packed cabs and lines outside the door make changing locations mid-party less than ideal.

  1. You have to choose who you want to spend it with. Aside from having to choose where you want to spend New Year’s Eve, you also have to choose with whom you want to spend New Year’s Eve. The two decisions are often heavily weighed against each other, since it’s not always where but who you’re with that counts. Still, when you have a lot of friends and they’re all going to different parties, you have to deal with the stress of choosing which crowd to go with, subliminally sending the message of who you care for most. Can’t we all just go to the same place?

  1. What you will wear. Choosing an outfit for New Year’s Eve is undoubtedly more stressful than it needs to be. Inevitably, you have packed on a couple pounds through all the recent holiday celebrations and feasts. Your favorite party dress just doesn’t fit right. Your girlfriends ask you all day long what you’re going to wear. You’re supposed to be festive, sparkling, and sweet. The perfect blend of sultry and class. Not to mention the weather this time of year in most places is awful. How are you supposed to achieve such perfection with your wardrobe, when it’s 28 degrees outside? Besides, if we’re being honest, we all end up in cheap party hats and beads by the end of the night, anyway.

  1. Your “go-to” spots are always packed. Say you’re not having much fun at the party you choose and you decide you’d like to go to your favorite local bar instead. You always have a good time there. Well, guess what? On New Year’s Eve, you can’t get in! Suddenly, it’s almost unrecognizable. Your local hangout resembles nothing short of a New Jersey Nightclub. It’s packed to the wall and the security (when did they get security?!) is telling you it’s, “One in, one out.” You want nothing more than to enjoy a good beer at your place of comfort. But when your “go-to” spot is jam-packed full of strangers, there’s nothing comfortable about it at all.

  1. People ask you about your resolutions. As if it’s not bad enough that you’ve been confronting last year’s shortcomings all day by yourself, you’re expected to tell people about your new resolutions all night. Those of us who are honest want to scream back, “I don’t know! I haven’t even followed through on my ones from last year!!” Or, for the more self-aware crowd, perhaps something along the lines of, “I want to be more accepting of myself, so I’m not making any.” We’re already facing the fact that we didn’t meet our own expectations. Do we really have to have other people rub it in our face all night?

  1. Social media. Adding to the pressure of New Year’s Eve, perhaps more now than ever before, is social media. At the click of a button, you can see pictures of all the fabulous parties your friends are attending, the tropical islands they’re visiting, and how much cuter their outfit is. Not to mention the pressure you feel to take your own pictures and show off how much fun you’re having, too. You wouldn’t want anyone to think you’re home alone on New Year’s, right?!? The irony is that you can’t be present in the moment and on social media at the same time. So those people posting pictures probably aren’t having as much fun as they would like you to think. And if you want to have more fun, you should probably put your phone away. Just remember, nothing is what it seems. And that’s especially the case when it comes to social media.

  1. The countdown. If you luck out and are having a blast wherever you end up on New Year’s Eve (as you should be!), there’s always the inevitable countdown pressure. It’s easy to lose track of time on the last night of the year because time flies when you’re having fun. But leave it to our culture to intertwine fun with pressure. Just as you’re beginning to loosen up and finally enjoy yourself, there’s still the relentless, nagging pressure of the countdown. I mean, what if you’re in the bathroom when it happens?! What if you’re in the middle of pouring a drink? What if you miss it? Honestly, the very thought of a crowd loudly counting backwards from 10-1 is enough to put me in the bathroom, if I wasn’t there already.

  1. The midnight kiss. The pressure of kissing someone at midnight on New Year’s Eve is perhaps the worst pressure of all. It’s bad enough for couples as they scramble to find each other at the last minute for a sloppy, public kiss. But for single people, it’s an utter nightmare. What if you don’t like any one at the party? Are you a lonely outcast if you don’t ring in the New Year in your lover’s arms? Of course not! But society would have you think so. The stigma surrounding this infamous New Year’s kiss is simply outrageous. Personally, I’d rather ring in the New Year in the arms of someone I know and trust (me), then waste some meaningless kiss on a boy I’ll never hear from again.

  1. The inevitable New Year’s Day hangover. All of this hype and stress over a night of drinking that only leads to an awful next day hangover. Why?! I can’t understand the logic. Who wants to spend the first day of 2015 feeling ill in bed? We set all these goals and promise to make the next year better for ourselves. But how in the world are we expected to feel motivated if we begin the New Year with a massive hangover? Talk about getting off to a bad start.

I think we all need to chill out about New Year’s Eve. The world won’t end if you have a bad night. Your year won’t be miserable just because you choose to stay at home. You aren’t doomed to a life of loneliness if you skip the midnight kiss. In fact, for most of us, New Year’s Eve, will have no impact whatsoever on our upcoming year. So why do we give it so much power? I think we should treat New Year’s Eve just like any other night, because it is. Maybe then we’ll actually be able to enjoy the last day of the year, for once.

A Story of Redemption and Experiencing God’s Grace

Redemption

 

1 Peter 5:10 “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”

I have suffered for a while. These past two years have been the most difficult times of my life, with one thing piling upon another. I wondered when I would see the light. But perhaps most importantly, I never doubted that this light would come. I never doubted God’s love for me and His goodness. I knew He had a plan and purpose for everything that was/is happening to me and I never stopped trusting Him. Probably clinging to Him tighter now, than ever before. Exactly, how He likes it- completely, wholly, even desperately dependent on Him.

This is a story about my restoration, about the light returning to my life. It is a joyful story and certainly not a complete one. But more importantly, this is a story about God and His grace, which never fails.

It was the Thursday night before I was scheduled to film my debut music video that Saturday. After a frustrating week of nagging my producer for details with no feedback, I was having a breakdown. I was furious. The shoot was Saturday and I had planned my whole week around it. The producer wasn’t holding up his end of the bargain. Where were the location lists, call times, wardrobe, crew names ect? Even if he sent me this information on Friday, I didn’t feel that one day was sufficient time for me to prep. I wanted to call him and scream at him! But can I? Is it right for me to bring my emotions into a work relationship? How much power and say do I really have in the matter? If I tell him how I feel, what will be his reaction? Will it change anything about the situation? Would it be worth it? If I don’t tell him how I feel, am I disrespecting myself? My feelings? Am I undermining our relationship and the honest, open communication that forms its base? These were all questions that were tormenting me that Thursday night. I struggled with them even as I fell asleep. I don’t like confrontation. I don’t want to confront him.

Friday morning, I had a meeting with my therapist. As usual, she asks me if there’s anything I want to talk about. I couldn’t think of anything “serious” that I felt I needed to talk to her about but because this music video situation was still on the forefront of my mind, I decided to give her a briefing of it. I figured at the least, she would be a good ear for me to get it off my chest. Maybe she would have some good advice on it, too. Boy, did I underestimate how God planned to use this frustrating situation and my time with the therapist that morning to work in miraculous ways.

Long story short, the therapist and I spend the hour “working” on the situation. We end up clarifying and defining my fear of confrontation as the root for why this situation was causing me such distress. Further, we even pinpointed specific events from my years in elementary school as stems for this irrational fear, which all revolve around my being unjustly shamed.

My fear, then, was not just a fear of confrontation, though it was that too. It was more a fear of being shamed. A fear of people making a big deal out of something in response to my actions. All it took was my pinpointing this fear, defining it, finding the cause of it, and rectifying that event within myself.

Before I knew it, the fear and anxiety was gone. By the time the session ended, I was no longer tormented with questions of what to do in response to my producer’s lack of follow through. I was eager to call him! Not to yell or vent but simply to talk about the next steps. It is what it is, I thought. And this is no confrontation. He and I will work this out and I’m excited to see when we can reschedule and start preparing for the new shoot date. Done and done. No anxiety. No fear. Suddenly, it wasn’t a big deal at all anymore. It was almost laughable that I let it torment me to begin with… It was never that big of a situation that I should lose sleep over it.

A huge weight was lifted from within me that Friday. Surely a day I will always remember and a blessing for which I’m indescribably grateful. The very thing I perceived as a mess the night before, had suddenly become a treasure to me, because it helped me to grow and to heal a part of me that had been carrying this burden of shame deep inside. Is God amazing or what?!

I share this story today in hopes that one of you, my readers, will relate to it. If you are feeling frustrated, anxious, or scared, I urge you to seek the cause behind those feelings within yourself. Everything you need to move forward awaits inside of you. God will take care of the details.

God – The Master Craftsman

birds

This morning as I was walking my dog before work, I had a moment of clarity and awe that I want to now share with you.

The weather is getting warmer here and the birds were out in full force this morning. It occurred to me just how complex their way of being is. Together, they formed a cacophony of sounds which I can only assume were claims of territory. They all appeared to be staking out their domain in preparation for Spring.

God, who made us, also made these birds and formed the complex system by which they operate. How amazing! Knowing this, I wonder, how can we ever doubt God’s goodness and love?! It only takes a few short minutes of observing the birds to know that He is a master of detail.

This should put a lot into perspective when you really stop to consider it. As complex as He made the birds, He made us with that much more precision. And although this complexity contributes to much of our anxiety and confusion on Earth, it shouldn’t. It is this very complexity that should, instead, overwhelm us with wonder and direct out eyes in awe towards the Master Craftsman who created it all.

Each of us are beautifully and uniquely designed in our own right, by a God who cares deeply about every last detail of our lives, even the birds.

“Worrying is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength- carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.”

Corrie ten Boom