Focus on the Bricks, Not the House

Focus on the Bricks, Not the House

March 17, 2018

In a recent conversation with friends, someone said, “I don’t know how to keep my loved ones from making poor choices.” I took a deep breath and responded, “Focus on the bricks, not the house.”

She stared at me quizzically with the she-has-finally-gone-mad-WTF-did-that-mean look that friends are allowed to dispense to another.

I grinned warmly and explained. Scripting the lives and outcomes of others is neither your calling nor your place. Whether it’s hoping that a family member comes to faith, a friend gives up an unhealthy relationship, a spouse moves past an addiction or a child avoids tough pitfalls, you cannot map out their entire life. You are not building their house, they are.

Instead, you can lay down individual bricks. Each one is an act of love, compassion, respect, comfort, moral fortitude, wisdom . . . bricks that offer a path, if they choose to walk with you. Bricks that they can choose to use in the foundation of their own spiritual house.

If those poor choices lead to harmful behaviors, thoughtfully guide them to seek professional help. But, in most cases, you cannot force them. We each have free will and use it as we will.

Remember to place bricks gently. The most well-intentioned among us, myself included, can desire happiness for our loved ones to such a degree that we may slip into figuratively tossing the bricks at them. That breaks windows in their house and can leave bruised feelings.

Just like you might see at the entrance to a monument or museum, write a little hopeful note on the brick in your mind, like “I pray for your peace and fulfillment” as you graciously offer it. That kind of loving mortar builds a lasting connection.

Healing Broken Relationships

Healing Broken Relationships

February 26, 2018

Harsh words in the heat of anger. Accusations flying with no patience or logic to restrain them. Kindness being overlooked for rightness. So much hurt can be dealt by those we love.

We let them into our intimate, safe spaces. We trust them with our hearts and our realness. In return, every relationship has some risk of pain. That does not mean that it is not worth loving, worth trusting or worth forgiving . . . but it takes healing.

At its core, healing is a process. Particularly where relationships are concerned, there are at least two perspectives and two wounded souls doing battle. Here are some steps to help:

  1. Listen to what you’re saying and what the other person is saying. I didn’t use “hear” because so many of us hear what we want, hear the opening where we can jump in to be right and hear the sound of our own pulse pounding in our heads as we get enraged. Stop. Listen. Really make sure you are understanding the tone, the facts, the motivations.
  2. Empathize with the other person. This is not easy when you’re upset, but come at it from the, “How are they feeling and why?” and “Which of their points are valid?” and “How is their hurt showing?” Be willing to humble yourself, even if you are not in the wrong. Be willing to understand that a perception does not have to be a permanent viewpoint. Care for them.
  3. Tell them what you are feeling in a calm, rational way. Sit down instead of stand over them. Take deep breaths and really desire to make things better. Perhaps, give each person 3 minutes to share their side without interruption. Use language that is not accusatory, mean or disrespectful. They won’t hear you and will shut down. Be patient and honest.
  4. Go toward change. Healing can require a breather of time, space and location. Let them have it and give it to yourself. It can be far better to step away, rather than to lash out or tap out entirely. Use the distance to reflect on the situation without playing the “Here’s why I’m right and s/he’s wrong” reel in your head. Dwelling on hurt and mistakes only leaves us dwelling in pain. When you’re ready, find a neutral space to re-engage thoughtfully.

In essence, “LET Go” of bitterness and bridge gaps with love. Show that you can be your best and believe the other person will do the same. It takes time and genuine effort.

Healing is not restoring, so embrace the fact that you may not get back to who/where you were before. Brokenness does not always rebound to the same form. But, like melting metal to extract the impurities and make it stronger, your relationship may be strengthened too.

A serious and separate matter is abuse. If you are fearful for your body, your spirit or your well-being, please visit the “Is this Abuse?” page from The National Domestic Violence Hotline. Get guidance, get help. You are loved and not alone.

Nevertheless, I will bring health and healing to it; I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security.” Jeremiah 33:6 NIV

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Why Share Your Struggles

Why Share Your Struggles?

February 8, 2018

Imagine facing a mountain. You arch your neck to look up and can’t make out the top. All you see is steep, rocky terrain and slippery slopes draped in thick clouds. You stand before it numb, overwhelmed and uncertain how to move forward. 

Then, you feel a hand take yours. Suddenly, you make out a thin, winding path carved into the mountain. You notice the clouds clearing slowly and finally take a deep breath. You see the top!

You turn and there is a close friend, softly smiling in support. You cry and embrace them. You realize you are not alone. Your strength increases gradually, as you hear a still voice gently whisper, “You are loved. You can do this.”

Dear friend, it’s time to #HealLouder.

Do you find yourself repeating painful habits related to grief or past hurts? Are you unsure how to reemerge from the cloud of numbness or apathy you feel around you? Are you afraid of judgment or worried about disappointing others? Have you convinced yourself that keeping it in is the only way to survive?

You are brilliant, exquisite and about to embrace more of what makes you unique.
No more silent suffering.

We are called to empathy. We are calling to gather with others. We are called to humble ourselves—to share our experiences, to discover life lessons and to help one another thrive (not just survive).

Consider this: “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2 NIV

If you happen to be a Christian, you may need to hear this most. Too many “churchgoers” fall into the trap of not sharing their gritty, disappointing struggles. They fear judgment, feel like failures for having issues and don’t want the spotlight turned on their lives. I’ve been there. But it’s nowhere to live and it denies the healing power of Jesus. To you, I say this:

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 2:2 NIV

Hold on to that “renewing of your mind.” Is not the Spirit a gift for instruction, support and healing? See how “test” is built into this verse, as God knows we will stumble to learn. Are you craving transformation? I encourage you to trust that a past choice, a present moment, a lingering hurt does not dictate your future. Open your mind to hope and your arms to support. In fact, by sharing your struggles, you may inspire others to do the same.

Embark on a nurturing journey from hurt to hope that helps you see the infinite beauty you possess, hear the remarkable voice within and achieve a revival of hope.

How do you begin? Share your burden by sharing your story. Don’t carry it one more day.

The weight will lessen when you reach for a hand. The sting of pain will begin to dull when you keep it from festering inside you. The light of hope will shine brighter when you open your heart to the loving support of trusted friends.

Please share your burden below, tag it on Instagram with #HealLouder or email me (worldneedshope @ gmail .com). I would love to pray for and support you.

Accountable to Joy World Needs Hope

Accountable to Joy

January 16, 2018

When you were a child, your folks probably taught you to be accountable (don’t run screaming, it gets good). Pick up after yourself. Take responsibility for your actions. Most of us would consider these universal truths for being good humans.

But who do you hold yourself accountable to now? Your parents, Your Creator, your friends, yourself . . . no one. Perhaps the thought of accountability is way too much adulting for you. It rings of liability and drudgery.

Let’s flip accountability on its tail, so to speak. Embrace this: you are free—in thought, heart and spirit. It’s also a universal truth. So being accountable is less about obligation and more about selection.

Instead of only being accountable for not f’ing up or for keeping your chaos to a respectful minimum . . . what if you select something greater and hold yourself accountable to joy?

You are accountable for smelling the flowers. You are accountable for deep breaths. You are accountable for kind words. You are accountable for love. You are accountable for giving your best to life.

No shackles, no expectations, no annual review. Just make it a priority to be and share joy.

Bold Year Ahead and Values for World Needs Hope

Word of the Year

December 30, 2017

One of my best friends loves to have a power word for each coming year. She agonizes over it, journals about it and, after months of contemplation, embraces it with immense gusto. And I love the anticipation of being one of the first to hear her linguistic verdict. I devour it, examine it, applaud it and marvel at her.

She will sagely tell you that “release” is not a word you want to choose and that “fear” has surprisingly positive, albeit uncomfortable, outcomes. She’s a gem, an inspiration and a quirky curiosity. I love the process and her.

If you are a long-time reader, you will know that I pluck a word at the last minute and stand by it all year. That process is quintessentially me. My word feels instantly woven into my coat pocket, cinched around my wrist and stitched onto my heart. What is this new year’s word, you ask? I honestly don’t know yet. It comes like a surprise blast of confetti between December 31 and January 1, when it’s ready to knock my holiday trimmed socks off.

When I began thinking about my friend’s word dilemma a few weeks ago, I briefly entertained my own introspection. But it was fleeting. What did happen, instead, was profound internal banter about my core values for The World Needs Hope. Here they are for transparency, so that you know what I stand for (if you’re new here) and what I embody as we move into 2018:

  1. Honor Individuals (respect)
  2. Give Empathy (compassion)
  3. Lighten Lives (joy)
  4. Share Hope (renewal)

You matter. Your story matters. Your soul matters. Your journey forward matters.

If you choose a word of your own for 2018, please share below! I’ll do the same, once it makes itself known.