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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.

World Needs Hope for the Holidays

Hope for the Holidays

December 10, 2017

‘Tis the season to feel like a snowflake—either floating on air or somewhere adrift. Don’t be surprised if you shift between Bill Murray in “Scrooged” and Will Ferrell in “Elf,” depending on the holiday shopping list, family obligations and year-end work deadlines. Give yourself some holiday grace.

However, if “I’m fine” is the track you have on repeat this holiday season, I want to speak to your heart. It’s ok not to be fine or merry. It’s ok to dread aspects of the holidays because they remind you of a loved one who passed, a partner who moved on or a time since passed. In fact, the holidays can feel downright uncomfortable, even painful, to someone in grief.

You’re not alone. You’re still healing. You’re human.

Please keep a few things in mind:

  1. Surrounding yourself with support is important. Shutting yourself in, pulling away from all events and closing the blinds to the world will only exacerbate your hurt. Perhaps, whittle down your social calendar and take it slow. Certainly you can step out of the hustle and bustle for a breather. But please lean on family and friends (or even a grief support group) to offer buoyancy through the holiday season.
  2. Expecting too much of yourself is draining. Sure you used to decorate the house, do all the shopping, have 20 people over and throw the best NYE party . . . before your spouse died. Now, choose the things that feel manageable and begin there. It’s the partridge in the “pared down” tree approach and it works to limit unnecessary stress.
  3. Putting on a happy face is not a gift to anyone. Despite the pressure of society , you don’t have to paste on a smile and pretend to be ok during the holidays. So many grieving souls feel the expectation to “get better” or “move on.” That’s not healing, it’s acting. I’m not saying you should play on the sympathies of others or wear black to every holiday party. What I am saying is that responding with “I’m taking it a day at a time” or “I have my ups and downs” (perhaps include a “thank you for asking”) is an honest alternative to “I’m fine.”

Remember, if you need support in your grief journey, please access GriefShare.org. And if you ever need immediate help or consider taking your own life, please reach out for your Lifeline.

The holidays are not easy for everyone—believe me, I’ve been there several times. However, being real with yourself and trusting others enough to be real with them is two gifts in one.

The Poverty of Hope

Someone You Know is Living in Poverty

October 1, 2017

What does poverty look like? Tattered clothes, unwashed hair, a gaunt reflection or, maybe, dirty drinking water. Yes, it is all of these things. But what about the poverty right next door, in the row of cubicles you sit in every day . . . or your own home?

When we think of poverty, our minds often turn to economics. We think of food, shelter and the amenities of what we deem to be physically necessary to life. I was reminded today, as I sat on a comfy chair, sipped my latte and looked around me, that poverty is more than being poor in material goods . . . there is a poverty of hope. It hit me like a punch in the gut and brought me to tears to really tune into the level of hope in those around me.

Insufficient, deficit, scarce—whatever you call it, a lack of hope can create a poverty of the soul. Sullen shoulders, a vacant stare, a distracted longing. It should make you ache to think about it. Look up from your cell phone and really see the people around you. Is someone struggling under the burdens of despair, past choices or a feeling of unworthiness? That hurt needs hope.

Just like you give your spare change to help others in need or donate warm clothes to those in need this fall, give of your hopeful energy and share warm hugs of support. Even as one of the richest nations in the world, we suffer from a great epidemic of the poverty of hope. It’s easy to believe that “me is enough,” that you “don’t want to interfere” or that you have “too much on my plate already.” I call bullshit.

No one was created to be lonely or go it alone. Love and kindness are never interfering (we both know that’s an excuse for inaction). And yes, we all have a ton of distracting tasks and weighty to-dos, but giving to others is the best way to get right in your own life.

The poverty of hope is not something that I, you or any of us can tackle solo—we must turn to each other in humility, care and mercy to share the hope we have and reverse this trend of poverty in our neighbors, families and communities.

Start by showing up for the next person you see . . . a smile, a bright hello, an offer of assistance, a prayer . . . every little act is an investment in their life and your own.