Friday, July 24, 2015

Good Enough?


In preparation for this post,  I intently listened to all of you who courageously shared your stories with me. 

O.k.....let's back up just a second.  Look back a couple of lines until you come to the word, "Courageously".  To someone who really struggles with feelings of inadequacy, the second sentence in this blog could send you reeling down a familiar path that could cause you to tune out everything else I write below.  "Great!", you'll say, "I didn't share MY story. I am not as courageous as the others."  

To some degree, most of us struggle with inner statements that declare, "I am not as ______ as everyone else."  (You can fill in the blank).   With each new filled in blank, we add another belief to our, "Reasons I Am Not Good Enough" list.  Am I right?  I sure have suffered from this life altering and often debilitating mental list that leaves me grappling for ACCEPTANCE!  I think it's this lack of acceptance by others, be it actual or perceived, that is the root issue of not feeling "good enough".  We have all been created with a deep innate need for love and acceptance.  Somewhere in our lives, an event or series of events caused us to believe that we would always come up short; never quite good enough to have those needs met.  

For most of us, these events involved some form of rejection.   These soul shaping moments create a whole new list of rules and expectations that are: (1) Necessary to regain acceptance and (2) Necessary to help us avoid any future rejections.  These new rules only serve to break us down and, set us up for future heartbreak.  Has this been a part of your story?  I know for that me, its been at the heart of my experience. 

By no means do I proclaim to be an expert in these matters.  I am just a common struggler, a broken vessel if you will, in the process of being put back together and made new. I don't have the answers. I can't fix anyone. Heck, I can't fix myself. 

Here is what I do know: We must put an end to the negative self talk that keeps directing our paths towards self-fulfilling prophecies. We must embrace who we are and come to love and accept ourselves. We must rid ourselves of the comparison syndrome shedding all unhealthy expectations that we or others have placed on us. We must stop living and doing for others with the purpose of earning their love and acceptance. 
For me, this process begins and ends with my understanding of the reality that I am created in the image and likeness of a perfect God that loves and accepts me unconditionally. Through my personal faith and trust in Jesus Christ, I am changing little by little as He lovingly collects and puts back together the shattered pieces of my life. He is healing me; making me new.  I am learning to accept who I am, because of Whose I am.  My worth is in Him.  He is freeing me from my past and healing my wounded soul. The only thing I contribute to the process is the surrendering of my brokenness and placing my life in His hands. He is doing the work. He alone makes me "good enough."

I will conclude with this, you are accepted here no matter where you are or what you believe about yourself. This is the very reason I started this blog.  I want this to be a safe online community that gives each of us the opportunity to shed all the masks, come out from hiding, and refuse to suffer in silence and isolation any longer. No doubt, we are a diverse group. No matter how diverse we may be we all have real struggles and are in need of real relationships. This is a place to encourage each other.  My hope is to see this become an open conversation among the subscribing community and not a preachy monologue. This blog is not necessarily meant to be prescriptive, but rather a platform to provide a better understanding of the struggles we all face.

Why? Because THE STRUGGLE IS REAL! (And being real can be a struggle!) I'd love to hear from you. Share your thoughts and comments. If this is helpful to you, invite others to subscribe and join this community of strugglers. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Change and the Power of "Why

Is it time to make a change? Change what? Change how? Change Why? Change can be a five letter word that makes us cry out a possible host of four letter words. You fill in the blank. Mine would be, "Help!"

As I write today, I'm thinking why in the world am I writing about change? Who am I to write about it? What do I have to say about change that can help others?

On one hand, I love change. I am wired for change when it comes to my work and the world around me. I thrive in environments the are in constant change. I get bored real easy and that could be dangerous.

On the other hand, when it comes to personal change, I really struggle. After all, THE STRUGGLE IS REAL!

Why do we resist the inevitable? Change is the only constant.  Everything alive is changing. Everything dead is changing too. Think about it. I've heard it said that if you are not changing you are dying. The truth is, even when things die, change doesn't stop.

Seconds are changing to minutes. Minutes are changing to hours. Hours are changing to days. Days are changing to weeks. You get the picture. Time is always changing. Once passed, its gone. Time is a most precious commodity.

The older I get the faster it goes by. I'm almost a half century old. I think I like the sound of forty-nine better. Dang, I'm getting old! These days I'm looking back at my life and asking myself some hard questions. Knowing that I'm not promised tomorrow is fueling the "Why" behind the changes I want to make here and now.

Let me ask you a question: "If today was your last day to live how would you spend it? What would you do? Where would you go? With whom would you spend it? What words would you speak? What relationships would you want restored?"

If you answered those questions with absolute honesty,  I'm sure the thought of them  evoked some kind of emotion. This emotion can be the very fuel you need to ignite a passion to change how you approach each twenty-four hours in a day. If the answers to the most significant questions you can ask yourself are compelling enough to create a strong feeling of discontent, leading to an even stronger desire to change; you may have your "WHY".

Our WHY has to be compelling enough that it causes us to endure the agony and pain of change. Change is never easy. It is possible though. Once we have discovered our why of change it will inform the what and how of change.

The power of our WHY should be like the carrot dangling in front of the horse. No matter what the metaphor it has to be in front of us everyday. It has to influence and evoke our passion and motivation. It has to empower us to get up after we fall. It has to draw you back on course when life pulls you away. Change becomes possible when the power of our WHY is greater than anything, or reason to stay the same.

I would love to hear your stories, get your feedback and comments. Subscribe today so you don't miss out on the conversation. Join the community of strugglers. Share and invite others too.


Monday, July 20, 2015

5 Ways to Regain Hope When Depression Sets In

If you have lived for any amount of time you’ve more than likely felt and experienced the dark oppressive days caused by disappointment, discouragement, disillusionment, despair, and depression.

I remember a time when I was trying to live and do everything right. If I could just follow the formula I would be alright, or so I thought. During that season everything fell apart. I had to leave my job, sell my house, and relocate to another area only to end up completely and undeniably depressed. In addition to all that was going on my son was born during the most chaotic and unstable time possible. For the first two years of his life he was in and out of the hospital and nearly died a couple of times. Over a three year period our family lost everything. I remember just before my 40th birthday sitting in bankruptcy court. Those were some oppressively dark days.

Maybe you’ve never experienced days or seasons like this and I hope you haven’t. I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone. If you have, or are going through it now this post is for you. Here are 5 ways that have helped me to overcome disappointment, discouragement, disillusionment, despair, and depression.

• Remember
As a person of faith I can scan my past and see the times I have walked through difficult and discouraging days and seasons that eventually would come to an end. When I start to go back into those seasons or find myself once again in the darkness, I remember that every season has an ending. I remember that I have gotten through to the other side more than once. I remember God’s faithfulness. I remember God’s goodness. I remember God’s promise to never leave me or forsake me. Just taking the time to remember and recount God’s faithfulness during difficult days inspires hope that helps me to see that there is light even in my darkest days. Take time to remember all the times you have overcome difficult days and season in the past. I promise it will cause hope to rise in you and once again you will be able to see the light on the other side. Don’t give up. Keep moving forward.

• Revisit your purpose
What am I here for? Surely there is something more than the struggle. Not that we won’t always have struggles, but we were made for more than just the struggle. As Christ followers, our ultimate purpose in life is the glory of God. No matter where I am or what occupation I’m called to I can experience abundant joy even in the midst of the struggle when I am living according to my purpose. If you don’t know or have forgotten your ultimate purpose it’s time to discover or revisit it. Living on purpose will move you out of the emotional drift and back on course toward your unique destiny.

• Refocus your priorities
When lost in the darkness and there doesn’t seem to be any way out the highest priority becomes get out at all costs. Instead of prioritizing we become reactionary and chunk our reasoning skills to the wind. Rather than asking why this is happening, the better question is what is it that I need to learn from this season? What fruit will this season yield? How could this create stronger character traits in me? What are the most important decisions or steps do I need to take to make the most out of this season? Questions like these will help you to move from frantic panic to proactive prioritizing and rational decision making. Ahhhh, the light is getting brighter. Don’t give up. You are going to make it.

• Realign according to your strengths
I don’t know about you, but when I’m attempting to navigate my way through the dark forest of disappointment, discouragement, disillusionment, despair, and depression I gravitate toward my greatest weaknesses. In my weaknesses I’m tempted to do whatever it takes to eliminate the pain. With the same level of fortitude it takes us to remember, revisit, and refocus we have to realign ourselves with our strengths and continue taking positive steps forward. The process can almost be as painfully slow as the season you are enduring, but if you just keep your head up, focus forward, and consistently operate within your priorities and strengths you will make it.

• Refuel for the Journey
Remembering, Revisiting, Refocusing, and Realigning are necessary factors that will help you to refuel for the journey. Renewed hope is what is needed most to refuel for the journey. So, when you find yourself in the dark and painful seasons of life remember there is always hope.


Sunday, July 19, 2015

How Should Christians Respond to Same Sex Marriage

I'm posting a blog written by Carey Nieuwhof. It addresses the latest Supreme Court ruling on Same Sex Marriage. It is rather lengthy, but I think it is one of the best written responses out there for those of us who call ourselves Christians.

In regards to the Same-sex Marriage debate and many other counter cultural differences THE STRUGGLE IS REAL!

Please share, subscribe, and post your comments. I am new to the blogosphere and want to grow as a writer and blogger. Let me know what topics are of interest to you. The mission of THE STRUGGLE IS REAL is to create an authentic web-based community that helps, serves, and encourages real people who have real struggles.


Saturday, July 18, 2015

Confession of an Insecure Man - How to Fight Insecurity and Win

Insecurity Confession: I am an insecure man. Just writing that makes my insides tremble because of what you and others might think of me. One thing is for sure; I am sick and tired of allowing my deep seeded insecurities keeping me from living, pursuing, and realizing my dreams.

In this post I will share where I think some of my insecurities come from, how they have impacted my life, and some strategies to fight and win the battle over my struggle with insecurity.

How in the world did I become so insecure?

My story isn't much different than many. I was 5 years old when my Dad left home. I don't remember much, but I do know that it was the event that shattered any sense of security. I remember going to first grade and making myself sick so my mom would have to come get me. I was afraid that my mom would leave me too. I didn't understand why or what happened. There was absolutely no way for me to process the pain of what had happened. Like most kids I probably thought something was wrong with me, or that I had done something wrong.

With age, my insecurities matured and morphed. I was anxious and afraid of nearly everything. I became a pleaser to be accepted and worthy of being liked and loved. I was a class clown and the life of the party. Even with all of my efforts I never felt like that I was good enough or good for much of anything.

I began to believe what I thought about myself, and then began to live it out as a teenager. Drugs, alcohol, pornography, failure, and shame only created a deeper and undeniable wound that only exacerbated and deepened my struggles and insecurities further.

As a young adult, the fear of failure would take a paralyzing grip on my life. This only continued enforcing the belief that I was not good enough and wouldn't succeed at much of anything.
To this day, I have dreams in my heart that I have not pursued because I have believed the lies. I'm. 49 years old and it's far past time for me to grow up. It's time for change.

How has insecurity impacted my life?
That is a deep question. So, the simple answer is that has impacted every area of my life. It caused me to aim small and shoot small so any failure would be survivable. I sought safety, approval, and acceptance above all. Fear of disappointing others and failing have been and still are the greatest insecurities I struggle with today.

How can I win the battle?
I have to honestly accept and love who God created me to be, imperfections and all.
I have to face my fears and refuse to allow them to keep me paralyzed with people pleasing.I have to come to the place that the greater failure would be not stepping out and pursuing the dreams planted inside me. I would rather step out and fail miserably than go to my grave never attempting to do anything. That would be failure. Starting this blog is a first step. There is more to come.

If you can relate, or have a story to tell, I'd love for you to share it. I hope to inspire your inner voice and encourage you to take your next steps to fight insecurity and win. Remember, you are not alone. You don't have to fight alone either.