Much of our life requires change, but our human response to change is often anxiety and fear. I’ve been deliberately working toward a different choice.
Following, are 3 unusual tips to experience rest for your soul, even in the midst of change.
1) Consider the story you are telling yourself
We make up stories in our head all the time! There are thousands of thoughts that run through our mind, but the problem is that more than half of them are inaccurate.
Author, Brene Brown, suggests that we learn how to speak out the story we’re telling ourselves, especially in a moment of conflict. Invariably, the practice will reveal where we are off base. I’ve been using this storytelling strategy for my most intimate relationships, particularly in my marriage.
My favorite example of how this really works happened on the tennis court. My husband and I run a tennis business, and I coach Teenie Tennis (ages 5-7 year old), while my husband sticks to the bigger kids. I am not the tennis star in the family, but I do have fun with our little campers, even though there are times when I feel insecure with my abilities. One day while I was running a fun obstacle course on one court, my husband came over and gave me a funny look over the net. My immediate thought was, “Ugh-I’m such an idiot and probably doing something wrong with this drill.” Normally I would let this “story” spiral my emotional well-being into the pit, but because of what I’d been practicing I decided to shelf my thought and talk to my husband later.
That afternoon I said, “Hey, the story I told myself when you came over to my court was that I’m an idiot and don’t know how to coach.”
He said, “Oh my gosh, no! I came over to tell you something and forgot what I wanted to say. The look you saw must have been my own frustration with myself, not you!”
Another story I tell myself is that I’ll be able to figure my life out-or at least I should be able to figure it out. All that confusion and weakness I feel is a reflection of my limitations. Now that part is actually accurate-I am limited!
Why do I constantly leave rest for my soul and choose anxiety because I think I should be able to figure things out?
The “story” I often tell myself is that I’ll be okay when I master self-sufficiency.
That is false. That story brings unrest. But the story that offers rest for my soul is that Jesus is the only way I am okay. Right here. Right now. Because of the cross.
2) Practice a different dance
I have a client that I’ve been coaching for the past year, The biggest take away this client has received so far is how to dance differently. One way this plays out in her own life is that she no longer chases after relationships, looking for a husband, in order to fill a gap. The different dance is that she deliberately works to fill herself with her identity in Christ before she responds to any potential romantic relationship. Ironically, I too am learning to dance differently in our marriage of 26 years.
What does the dance look like for me? I choose not to notice my husband as much. That sounds so unloving, but it’s healthy for someone like me who often loves too much through people pleasing, rather than God pleasing.
When I do the dance correctly, his mood no longer determines my value.
His response no longer determines my worth.
His distraction no longer determines my identity.
His “look” over the net no longer determines how I feel about the way I coach tennis.
Please don’t hear me wrong, I still love and pay attention to my husband, but I dance differently when I come to our interactions, because I choose to tell myself the correct story–that I am already loved by the One True God.
3) Get out of the gray
What is gray? It’s existing in a dead zone. Unfeeling. Numbing with food and wine. In gray I’m not feeling a bunch of anxiety, but this shade is not rest for my soul. Gray, in this case, is avoidance and denial.
I’ve been living in the gray zone for roughly four years. It was at that time when I experienced a disappointment that really sent me off the rails. The gray zone can serve a purpose for a time, like a chance to catch our breath, but that is not where the Lord calls us to stay.
I’ve left the gray zone a few times over these four years, but two weeks ago I shot into what my husband would call the red zone without warning. Foul words flew out of my mouth-at my husband, I ran through the house in my towel, and landed on the floor in my office, wailing uncontrollably for 30 minutes. Not crying. Not sobbing. Wailing. My husband, summoning enough courage to join me on the floor, rubbed my back in shock and concern.
This moment really ended up becoming a breakthrough for me, however. First, the only story I told myself at this moment was, “I am in desperate need of my Savior. I can ONLY make it with Him and I choose to cry to Him alone!” Second, I was definitely dancing differently. I tossed people pleasing aside, and was naked before my Father. The real beauty in the moment was that my husband was with me too. I wasn’t noticing him, but I trusted our love to experience that purely raw and authentic moment together. That is actually growth for us. Finally, I left gray!
The problem with gray is that we can stay there for too long. When a pendulum swings severely in one direction it must swing severely in the other direction. Getting out of gray means we choose to feel. The emotions are healthy and steady, not shutting down and then turning on.
Would you be willing to agree with me that the fear we can have in leaving gray is that we’ll never stop crying once we start. I wondered that myself when I left gray.
But I did stop and you will too.
Then one day we will stop the wailing forever.
Revelation 21:4 says, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”
I’ve always focused on the “no more” and “gone forever” parts of this verse. But notice the active tense-“He will wipe every tear.” This brings me such comfort! When I left the gray I was wailing for so many unanswered emotions, trials in my own life and in the lives of those I love. I was weeping over divisions, injustice, violence, addiction, sickness, and loss. Honestly, it feels weird to think of all that anguish just disappearing when we get to heaven. But no, it will be God who is on the floor with us, rubbing our back. He won’t feel threatened. He won’t be surprised. We know exactly what He will do… In an act of pure love and complete resolution, He will lift our chin and wipe our final tears away. And then we will have eternal rest for our souls.
To Him be the Glory Forever!