Unglued – Week 1

As I go through an online study of Lysa TerKeurst’s book, Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions, I will be posting our study message here every Friday. Even for those not taking part in the study, I encourage you to check it out every Friday and see how it speaks to you.do-not-conform

This week, we’ve focused on changing our thought patterns. On p.22, Lysa says, “We won’t develop new responses until we develop new thoughts.”

How many times have you prayed hard and had every intention of changing how you react to certain situations only to get angry at yourself for reacting the exact same way just minutes or days later? For me, I’ve questioned if it’s even possible for me to change how I react. I’ve asked myself, “Am I always going to be this way? What’s wrong with me that I can’t control my tongue? Why do I go from 0 to explosive in .1 second?” I’ve considered myself hopeless because I feel like I’m trying so hard to make that change, and I genuinely want that change, but it’s not happening.

The answer is that I’m not developing new thoughts. I’m not renewing my mind. Instead, I’m spending time focusing on how badly I’m failing and how angry I am about whatever just happened, and I’m not changing those thoughts. Of course, I’m going to keep reacting the same when I’m letting the anger continue to build up and when I am focusing so much on how bad I failed . . . again. I’m not speaking life into myself.

Remember how chapter 1 says we are going to have imperfect progress and that it takes slow, baby steps that sometimes make us feel like we aren’t moving? The key is that we are moving, and we are moving forward. It may take a while before we see the change, but it will happen. BUT if we take a step forward only to beat ourselves up when we don’t see the change immediately, we will be pushing ourselves back to where we were.

The progress comes first from our change in thoughts and then we will see the change in actions. Change in thought will eventually make a change in the heart, and that’s when you’ll really see the difference.

How can you renew your mind and develop your thoughts? Well, first, you have to spend time with God. There can be NO EXCUSES. One of the kids get sick and needs you – no excuses. You get hit with a deadline and more work than any one person can do – no excuses. Find time to spend with God whether it’s in the middle of the nap time that you’d like to also be a part of because you’re exhausted or during a movie that your sweet one is watching or after everyone goes to bed. You’re tired, yes. But God will renew your strength and energy if you just give him some of your time!

I’ve used all of the excuses, and they are 100% justifiable, but that doesn’t mean they are right. God did so much for you, and you’re asking him to help you in this area, so you have to give him your time. Time with God isn’t simply praying a to-do list for him. It’s a 2 way conversation and needs to have limited distractions.

You Have Control

In chapter 2, we are reminded that we can accept or refuse our thoughts. Your thought life does not have to control what you do. You have the control, whether you believe it yet or not, to take those thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ (2 Cor. 10:5). Once you take that thought captive and make it obedient to Christ, you can move forward and take control of your actions.

You have a choice: are you going to think destructively or constructively? Whatever consumes your thoughts is what will present itself through your actions. To remain in control and not become the “freak-out woman” mentioned at the end of Chapter 2, you must develop a constructive way of thinking. You must come to a place where you realize you can face things that are out of your control and not act out of control. All it takes is developing new thoughts through renewing your mind.

Renewing Your Mind and Developing Your Thoughts in 6 Easy Steps:

  1. Make time for God every day
  2. Read the word See My Post Don’t Forget SOAP” written on Wednesday if you need tips in this area
  3. When praying, make sure to ask God for help in this area, but don’t spend all your prayer time focused on this. Pray for other people, praise God for his truth and speak it over you – this means pray from Scripture. Praise him that he took the time to create you with such intricate detail (Ps. 139:13) and that you were chosen by God before you were even conceived (Jer. 1:5). Praise more than Request. You’ll be amazed at what happens.
  4. Throughout the day, capture those negative words you’re telling yourself. Capture those thoughts of what happened earlier in the day, and stop them in their tracks. I literally have to say, “STOP!” sometimes.
  5. Replace them with prayer for someone else, someone not related to the situation, or praise for God changing you, or speak scripture that contradicts your thought.
  6. Trust God to be working inside of you as you do this each day.

Your 21 Day Challenge

Did you know studies show it takes 21 days to make a habit? I want to challenge you to start today. Start developing new thoughts. Start renewing your mind. This is not something you do only when you’re in a heated moment. This is something you do daily, and it’s even better if you can do it more than once a day.

Give yourself 21 days. This doesn’t mean you’ll be a completely different person, but do this consistently for 21 days, and see if there’s a measurable change in your thoughts and actions. I’m willing to bet you’ll find you can capture thoughts much easier, and you may even find that you don’t have to change your thinking as often as you do today.

What do you think? Are you up to the challenge?

Don’t Forget S.O.A.P.

soap

One of the things I hear so often and with people of all ages is that they just don’t know how to read the bible. Haven’t we all been in that place? You know, the place where we read just to say we read. By the time we finish the selected scripture, we have no idea what it said, and it certainly isn’t very meaningful to our lives.

Do you find yourself losing interest if you try to study scripture, especially if you don’t have a companion study or guide in hand? I think we probably have all felt that way at one time or another.

To help make scripture more meaningful to me, I have a routine that works for me.

I first try to have different translations handy while reading. That’s not always an option, but I prefer to if I can. If I have my phone only, I use the YouVersion Bible App to go back and forth between translations, but my absolute favorite is the parallel option from BibleGateway. It allows me to see several different translations side-by-side. I like having the different translations because it allows me to take difficult scripture and see it written in several ways so I can better understand the meaning.

Before reading, I make sure to turn off all distractions – no phone (airplane mode if I’m reading from my phone), no tv, no friends, etc. I want it to be just God and me.

Then, I take the steps to enter into his presence and let the words speak to me:

  1. Pray: Pray for God to help me understand what I’m reading and to keep my mind free of distractions.
  2. Ask:
    1. What is it saying?
    2. What is it saying to me?
    3. How can I apply it to my life?
  3. One Step Further: Take it one step further and ask if there is anyone I know who might need to hear this scripture, and pray over that person. Also, ask God to reveal something I might have gone through or might still be going through that makes the scripture more relevant to me.

I always advise keeping some type of journal or notebook to take notes in.

If All Else Fails, Use SOAP

The steps I just mentioned are easy for me to remember because I’ve done it for so many years. However, many of my friends prefer to use SOAP when they read scripture. It’s the same process but easier to remember and easier to teach to others.

Always pray before you begin.

Scripture – Take one verse and write it down in its entirety. (What is it saying?)
Observation – What do you feel like this scripture is saying? Re-write it in your own words so that it makes sense to you. (What is it saying to me?)
Application – Think of how this scripture can be applied to your life right now. Maybe you’re walking through something, or maybe you’ve been praying about something in particular, or maybe there’s something that you just haven’t noticed before that makes this scripture mean something different to you today. (How can I apply it to my life?)
Prayer – Ask God what he wants you to do with this scripture. Maybe he wants you to use it in some way. Maybe there’s someone in your life who needs to hear this scripture, and God reveals that person to you. Talk to him, but be sure to listen to what he has to say in return. (Taking it one step further)

Try it!

I’m currently going through a study, and our memory verse this week is from Romans 12:2. “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.”

If you are having trouble getting started, why not start here? Take this scripture, and dig deeper to find how meaningful and relevant it is in your life.

Don’t Hide Your Failure

Don’t Hide Your Failure

Last week, our high school group was talking about Abraham and how he was tested. There was a question in our small group time after, “In what areas of your life were you tested last year, and how did you handle it?”

It was so easy for us to talk about the tests that were difficult but where we came out on top. But then I kind of threw them a curve ball. I asked them, “What ways were you tested, and you failed?”

**Cue the crickets chirping**

I wasn’t going to let them off that easily by moving on to the next question because, let’s face it, we all had some tests where we failed. We likely had one or more where we failed miserably.

Have you ever noticed how easy it is to talk about our successes to others or show our lives in perfect pictures on social media, but for whatever reason we don’t show the mess or talk about the failures? As women and young girls, we tend to stay to ourselves when we face hardships or failures. We have to change that.

Every time we smile for the camera while we’re hurting inside, and every time we talk about how wonderful life, job, school, or family is without mentioning the turmoil that has been happening, we are doing something destructive not only in our own lives but in the lives of others whether we’re doing it intentionally or not. This is all a part of the enemy’s plan.

Ephesians 5 says that what is in the darkness should be exposed and brought to light. We need to talk about our weaknesses, failures, and struggles because if we keep them hidden, they can manifest into something much darker than we could ever imagine. I’ve said often that the only weapon the enemy has against us are his words. He lies to create fear inside of us so that we turn from God’s divine plan for us and fall into his darkness. In 2 Timothy 1:7, we are told God did not give us a spirit of fear and timidity but of power, love, and a sound mind. When you know there’s something you need to bring to the light, but you begin to fear what other people will think of you, please know that is the enemy trying to stop you in your tracks because he will not have a hold on you anymore if your area of weakness is brought to light. That fear is actually the indicator that you need to bring it to light! Allow someone to speak life into that area of your life, and allow them to help you grow and move past whatever that weakness is.

Loosen that belt and BREATHE!

One of the things God has shown me over the years is that allowing others to see our imperfections and failures does something amazing. It makes us relatable, and it can change the life of someone else.

Have you ever known that person who has it all together? You know, the perfect family with the house that’s always clean, perfect grades, always happy, sharing pictures of her many trips where everyone is having a blast, and it seems like she is almost untouchable because things are always going so well for her? And usually you look at her life and see all the areas of your life where you fail. Surely I’m not the only one who has experienced this, right?

This person may be your very best friend. She may even be someone you look up to and want to learn from because you want to have a life like hers. So what do you do when you fail miserably at something? Do you talk about it with her? Probably not because you think she can’t relate to your problems, and you don’t want her to judge you and dismiss you because you don’t have it all together.

Am I hitting close to home yet?

So think about that person and how you feel when she shares some of her miserable fails and posts pictures of the car ride to their beautiful vacation, the one where all the kids are crying and fighting with one another. What if she posts the pictures of her when she first wakes up in the morning with no makeup and hair disheveled? How do you feel then?

For me, when I see that “untouchable” person share their real life, I get the same feeling I get when I loosen my belt after eating much more than I should have. Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about. I am able to take a deep, cleansing breath – a sigh of relief.

Why is that?

It’s because I feel a little less like a failure because, whether I’ve intended to or not, I’ve been comparing my life to hers. Hers seems untouchable because, well, it is. When you only hear and see the high points of people’s lives, you assume there are no low points, and you question why you have so many. Then, those low points are all you can focus on, and they begin to consume you. Then, you try to do everything you can to make your life look like hers, and it’s exhausting. It’s also impossible.

Let’s not do that to one another. Let’s talk about our failures. Let’s show people that there are messy moments in our lives. Let’s take back our power, the power given to us by God, and put the enemy back in his place!

We are God’s daughters. We are going to fail. We are going to have some messy messy moments. We are also going to have some great successes. Can I let you in on a little secret? When your life is filled with successes and no mess, it sure is hard for others to celebrate those successes with you. But, friend, when you bring your failures to light and let people know that sometimes your life is messy, and then you have a success . . . wow! People will come out of the woodwork to celebrate alongside of you.

Today, sweet friend, I pray that you bring your failures to light. Of course, you prayerfully choose who to bring certain things to for counsel, but don’t be so quick to delete that picture that shows you don’t have it together. It proves that you’re real. It allows people to know they aren’t alone in their own failures. I pray you take back your power over the enemy in this area.

I would love to hear from you. Are you willing to comment on this post and share one of your ultimate fails? Who’s brave enough to be the first to share?

From Lysa TerKeurst's book, "Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions"

From Lysa TerKeurst’s book, “Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions”