The Little Voice That Says I Can’t Handle It

I have discovered that there is a voice in my head, a part of myself, that continually makes me panic at the thought of having too much to do.  It thinks I won’t be able to handle it.  It tells me that, as if it is a truth, and paralyzes me. At least it used to.  I also discovered I do not have to agree with it or act as if it is true.

When I look at my office, the smallest room in the house which also doubles as a “catch-all” for all of the junk in the house, I literally feel a sense of panic pass through my body. It is a body-wide shudder that makes me want to run away, but instead, as my body prefers, I freeze.  So I ignore it, walk straight to my desk and face my computer screen so I don’t see it.  If I don’t see it, out of mind.

I have lived this way for so incredibly long, I just thought this was a natural response to what I have always perceived as a source of overwhelm.  It never crossed my mind to challenge the thought – just to accept it as truth and succumb to it. But as I have been learning about and listening to the different voices in my head, the different parts of my soul, the different me’s from my past, I’m realizing that it is a lie, a bold-faced (albeit protective) lie from a part of me.

First of all, if it is true that our many parts are constantly trying to protect us, especially from overwhelm stemming from our suppressed emotions, then this makes total sense. When I feel uncomfortable, or feel a disturbing emotion, my Manager gets to distracting me from it, and the Firefighter has me ready to run from it (or eat a bag of caramel corn while I distract myself from it).  A part of me believes I will absolutely fall apart if faced with uncomfortable feelings and emotions, and it tells me so.

Another point of interest I learned in a TED talk about the Pleasure Trap is that there is a part of our brain that freaks out, panics, when we attempt to change the pathways in our brains by new and different behavior.  It resists us and even evokes fear in us to stop us from changing.  That is because doing things the same way without thinking is easier and supposedly safer to our mind’s way of thinking. Change is risky.

So if you combine these two factors – your soul screaming at you that you are a fragile flower who will fall apart if your emotions surface and you experience uncomfortable feelings, plus your brain trying to scare you into falling back into line and following the same pathways (even if they are unhealthy and unproductive) – you can understand why you have trouble modifying your thoughts and your actions.  You are discouraged by your thoughts, emotions and flesh from changing anything.

However, once we have prepared ourselves with the knowledge of the backlash we will experience, we can then steel ourselves against the ploys our body and soul will attempt, and take back our lives.  Like Toto pulling back the curtain to reveal that it’s just a little man who is controlling the very scary image of Oz, when we realize that it is just a soul and body glitch that is stopping us from moving forward, we can get past them.  Like the grown elephant who finally pulls away from the tiny string that has kept it attached to a post since it was a baby, we find that what was holding us back was simply our belief that we couldn’t move beyond where we’ve always been.

So I have started addressing my parts when they tell me I won’t be able to handle things.  When I get a text from someone who normally bears bad news, instead of getting sick to my stomach and shaking, I say, “I CAN handle this.  Whatever uncomfortable news they bring, I may feel emotions, but those emotions will NOT kill me. I CAN handle this.”

When I see my office with the piles of paper that require scanning and data entry, and I know that my assistant won’t be available for a while, instead of giving in to the gut wrenching reaction of fear of not getting everything done, I correct myself.  “I WILL be able to get this done eventually, even if it will not be enjoyable.  The fears that I will be overwhelmed by all I have to do are LIES. Having to do things I don’t like and that make me uncomfortable is a part of life, temporary times I have to push through it and just get it done. I have historically always finished everything I needed to do, so I CAN do this, and there is NOTHING TO FEAR.”

And voila – the fear passes. The panic subsides. It just becomes a room full of papers, not a torture chamber.  It is simply a text from someone, not an envelope with deadly white powder.   I have found the secret of not giving in to the terror – tell it I know the truth, and that it is lying.  And then I act accordingly.

I love the story about John Wesley (I think it was him) who was in his bed when the devil came into his room.  John Wesley sat up in bed, looked straight at the enemy and said, ‘Oh, it’s just you.’  And then he went back to sleep.

That’s what I have learned to do with these soul and body reactions that paralyze me. They mean well, they want to protect me, but they are hindering me instead.  So I am putting them on notice that, although I appreciate the intent of the message, I will have to ignore it, because it is not helpful nor true.

I CAN do all things through Christ who gives me strength.

But I Want Her To Like Me

I have been working very hard at trying to pay attention to my emotions and thoughts, and follow them down the rabbit hole. This morning, I looked in the mirror and once again had to fight off nauseating feelings about my weight gain. My goal in life is to completely de-stress, which means not trying to ignore or avoid these feelings and thoughts, but find out which part of me is causing this and try to heal it. Too often, we say, “Well, that’s just how I feel” without trying to do anything about it.

So, I asked which part of me was upset at the image in the mirror, that got so upset at what they saw that they made me feel sick to my stomach. I asked why it was not ok to be overweight. The answer came back that people won’t like me. I responded with an adult logical argument about how my husband likes and loves me, my children like and love me, the friends that know me well like and love me – all while I’m overweight. The response: that doesn’t matter. I want others to like me.

My question was “Who?” Up came a memory that I had already healed, some girls who had tried to trip me down the playground steps in 6th or 7th grade. But this memory was focused on a little blond girl with long hair who had laughed when I tripped. “I want her to like me.”

This was very new to me – dealing with a childish part of me that insisted that someone like me when they didn’t. Explaining that some people just don’t like you was not going to work on this part of me. And explaining that I wasn’t overweight back then didn’t help either. The main thing is that I connected not being liked to being ugly, and I connect being overweight with being ugly.

This is where I had to ask the Holy Spirit to help me come up with a way to resolve the problem in the memory in a realistic way, one that would satisfy the child in me who was still hurt over it. Note, she didn’t want everyone, including the bully, to like her – only this one girl for some reason. She laughed when I got tripped up – how could she be changed into a friend?

Then I remembered that my daughter once told me that she couldn’t help laughing when someone else got hurt. She knew it seemed mean, but she couldn’t help herself from laughing. It was just funny to her. She didn’t mean any ill will, it was just a natural reflex. Maybe that is what this little girl did, too.

So I asked this part of me if it was possible that this little girl couldn’t help herself from laughing, but didn’t mean it in a mean way. Could she accept that? The answer was yes. So we healed the memory by having this girl come over after I tripped and asking if I was ok, and walking with me down the rest of the steps talking to me nicely. That seemed to do the trick, and she was ok with it. The heart wants what the heart wants.

You never know what you will find down the rabbit hole of your past memories, what is causing you to feel ways that are trapping you in unhealthy downward spirals. I know there is a trove of memories still unhealed, but God will bring them up as I commit myself to paying attention to myself and being obedient to respond to what the Holy Spirit brings up in me. I encourage you to do the same thing.

Dismantling the Land Mines

Job 20:2 My troubled thoughts prompt me to answer
because I am greatly disturbed.
Ps 13:2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
Ps 139:23 Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
Ps 55:2 My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught

Ignoring our emotions and thoughts just postpones the inevitable. They will rise again, they will surface, only at a date and time not of our own choosing. The big question is, will we hold on to, avoid, or go through and release these thoughts and emotions?

Most of us are afraid that actually experiencing those emotions and thoughts will be so excruciating that we will die. There are actually parts of us that try to scare ourselves into NOT reviewing those things, because they think we will be overwhelmed by them. But here is the illogic of it.

We have all experienced painful emotions and thoughts – and LIVED TO TELL THE TALE. Whatever it is, we CAN face it, it WON’T kill us, and we will be healthier for exorcising them from our life. We can release all that is killing us with stress by simply feeling the emotions and paying attention to our thoughts. The more you drill down into what you are thinking and why, you can actually dig up false beliefs you have lived with and correct them and move forward.

If your thoughts and emotions trouble you, DISMANTLE THEM. Find specifics about them and make them a research project. Instead of detonating like land mines, they will instead reveal to you how they work, giving you the authority to rewire them so they work for you instead of against you.

1. What emotions or thoughts do you believe you are avoiding?

2. Why?

3. What would happen if you let yourself think about them?

Screaming At The Cars Around Me

Psalm 14:The Lord looks down from heaven
    on all mankind
to see if there are any who understand,
    any who seek God.
All have turned away, all have become corrupt;
    there is no one who does good,
    not even one.

I made the mistake of trying the highway this morning. Wrong choice. Traffic at a standstill only between the stretch to the next exit. People started running down the side lane and wanted to merge after I had followed the rules and sat there forever. The guy in front of me kept letting them in. I started screaming and yelling in the car.

Yup, lost it. Each vehicle that “cut in line” increased my frenzy, and I realized that they weren’t cars to me; they were high school bullies doing and taking whatever they wanted. I had no control over them and it made me lose control over myself.

I believe God allowed me to get stuck so I could see what was hidden within me so I could face it and deal with it. Even at 53 years old, I still think the world and everyone in it should play fairly by the rules, otherwise I feel the fear, anger and vulnerability of the truth that I have no control over anything. My only comfort is the truth that God will always be with me no matter what unfair situation may occur and whatever the consequences are, and use it for His plan and my good.

Only when I believe the lie that life is fair and I am in control can I be shaken to my core when faced with the truth. God help us to remember this and trust in Your continued provision in our lives regardless of what is happening around us.


1. What makes you lose control? Why?

2. What AREN’T we trusting about God and His Word when we lose control?

3. How can we increase our faith in God so what happens in this world will not rob us of our faith, peace and joy?

Making Peace With Your Many Parts

James 1:2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

Double minded. We all act that way. Do you have every intention of doing the right thing and then, for reasons unbeknownst to you, you do just the opposite? You are determined to clean the house, but you don’t. You promise you will not overspend, but you do. You want to stay off of drugs or alcohol, but you can’t. You know you need to eat healthier, but you don’t.

That is because you are not the only one making your decisions for your life. The reason that you apparently act as if you are at cross purposes with yourself regarding your life is because it is true. There is more than one voice in your head – actually, multiple voices – wanting different things and they are all very convincing. It makes it that much harder to listen to and obey the voice of God when there are other “people” within you trying to get what they believe they need.

Have you ever just started crying, and you didn’t know why? That is because there is a part of you that needs to cry. Something happened that touched a tender spot and triggered a sad response to something that you absolutely do not want to think about. So you don’t think about it – but that doesn’t mean that the sadness will not surface. It WILL surface, just at unexpected times when you are not prepared for them.

How about you decide to give up something very important to you, as in during a fast? Tell yourself you are not going to do something, and what rises up within you? A resounding “No!”. Where is that coming from? A part of you has made that object, activity or substance its protector from bad feelings, and that part of you will protect it at all costs, trying to get you to abandon your attempts at removing this thing from your life.

However, you can talk with the voices in your soul. This is where a colony of past “yous” lives, all stuck in paradoxes they could never resolve from problems in your past. They are trying to protect you and themselves, but by doing things their own way, and not necessarily the best way.

What you need to know most is that all of the parts of you are not trying to harm you, but to protect you from further harm, and especially from being overwhelmed by your emotional memories. However, if you talk to them and find out what they want from you, and tell them that you are going to try to give them what they need, only in a healthier way, then it opens a door to start meeting needs and healing hurts you didn’t even know you had.

We’ll talk more about this over the next few weeks, but I want you to try an exercise. Pay attention to your inner voices and your emotions. If you feel anxious or nervous, or angry or afraid, stop what you are doing and ask yourself a question – OK, somebody is very nervous right now. Can you tell me why you are nervous? And then just LISTEN. Write down what you hear, and if you want to, ask more questions until you get to the bottom of what this part of you is thinking and why.

I’d love for you to share with me what you asked and what responses you received. I’ve been doing this and I cannot explain to you the amount of peace that has settled over me as I have been addressing left over fears and issues that my conscious mind has not allowed me to deal with before. I’m committing to 16 week of talking it out with the goal of reducing any history related stress so I can better handle present day stress. If you have any questions, just let me know. Next week, I’ll explain your “parts” in a little more detail.

Not Because Of Anything We Have Done

2 Tim 1:9 He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.

So often we feel disqualified from God’s love, acceptance and approval by our flaws and failures. Why would He want me, after all I have done, or what I have become? But His call on our lives has nothing to do with what we have done or become. It is all about HIS plan and HIS purpose, accomplished by HIS power.

We have nothing of value to offer Him on our own. Everything good that we do have came from Him anyway. He already knows all of this. The reason we have a problem with this is because everyone else’s version of love has been based on merit and us having to earn it. God knew beforehand that we could never earn His love, so that has never even been an issue.

He created us with His purpose, according to His perfect plan, and continues to empower us by His grace (His supernatural power in our life that enables us to obey Him). THESE are the things that give us value, and define who we are and what makes us a success. Doing things perfectly is not what qualified us – being saved by placing our faith in Him is what qualified us. There is absolutely nothing that hinders us from walking in our calling but our own fear of messing up and failing.

If God does not expect perfection from you, why do you expect perfection from yourself? He simply calls you to be holy, which means set apart for Him, with your aim being to live by His standards. And what are His standards? To believe and trust in Him, and to express that faith through love for God, others and yourself. You are already made holy by your faith, now let that holiness be walked out in your everyday life.


1. What flaws and failures have you believed disqualify you from living for God? Why?

2. If God doesn’t care about those flaws and failures, and knew you would have them before He even called you to serve Him, why do you?

3. If you had absolutely no flaws and failures, what would you do to serve Him?

The Parable Of Hair Coloring

I was coloring my hair at home, which is always dangerous because I do not always pay close attention and I drip it on my clothes or it gets on the counter. I had finished putting the color in my hair and had walked off to do something else.  A little while later, I glanced down at my forearms and noticed they were splotched with burgeoning color. I ran to the bathroom and used the special liquid that removes color from skin, and all was well.

However, God showed me that this was just the way that sin stains our lives. When the hair color goes on, it is clear. I didn’t even see it on my skin. It took a while for color to actually imprint on my skin.

Sin, when it is new, does not show its consequences in our lives immediately. But as we let it remain there, it colors and changes our lives. It revises how we see things, because our connection with the Holy spirit is weakened, and we no longer hear His conviction of sin and utilize Him as our compass. Our conscience becomes seared as if with a hot iron, and other sins don’t seem so bad anymore.

Before we know it, sin has tainted our entire life. You can’t compartmentalize sin, keeping it just one small area of your life. It infects everything, but most of all your connection to and communication with God. It is like plotting a ship’s course and being off by 1 degree – you don’t see the problem with the error until you are a long way off and are totally lost.

Thankfully, repentance (acknowledging that what you did was wrong, wanting to turn away from it and then actually turning toward God) is like hair color removal liquid. It immediately reconnects us to the Spirit of God as it wipes away the stain of unrepentant sin. There may still be consequences in our life of our sin, but our spiritual connection is restored and we can move forward in right relationship with God.

An even better option would be we applying stain protection to our lives to keep the sin from staining us. This would entail is staying in God’s Word, spending time in His presence, being accountable to our spiritual family, and most importantly, keeping a daily inventory of the things we did both right and wrong.  This allows us to repent quickly after our sin and correct our course back toward a godly life.


1. What sins have been slowly seeping into your life, remaining there because you will not deal with it (whether out of fatigue, fear or rebellion)?

2. What is getting in the way of you truly repenting of that sin?

3. If you are afraid of giving up your sin, what are you afraid will happen if you give it up?

Why You Do (And Don’t Do) What You Do (And Don’t Do)

New Years is coming, and that means resolutions. For our church, it means a 3 week fast in January which, for some of us, ends up extending beyond that. It is a time when we tell ourselves we are going to get life RIGHT this time.

As I look at the weight I’ve gained over the past year, I really have been asking myself what went wrong?  I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that I did what I WANTED to do, because that’s what we all do.  Therefore, I wanted to eat more than I wanted to keep off or lose weight.  The 64,000 question is “Why?”

I’ve been preparing for a month of sermons I’ll be doing regarding fasting.  I was asking God what He wanted me to share this year, and up popped an article in the corner of my eye that gave me the answer.  It discussed why we have trouble quitting bad habits.

It linked to article after article of related information in multiple disciplines. Some of what I read explained why Celebrate Recovery Step Studies, Life Patterns and Temperament Therapy each work to some degree.  But suddenly I saw the bigger picture – it’s not just one particular 5-Step fix, but a combination of things that allows us to break negative cycles.

These tactics encompass the physical, emotional, intellectual, social and spiritual aspects of our lives.  I believe the reason we normally lose discipline is because we only use tools in a few of these areas instead of all of them, because we want a quicker, easier fix. However, our issues have become more complicated over the years, so there will not be any quick and easy fix.

So, over the next 5 weeks or so, I will be sharing the key elements required for change.  I will be working them right along side of you as I do some literal soul searching about what has and hasn’t “stuck” in my life, and how to change that.  I’ll give you a little bit to think about this week in preparation for starting next week.

Write down the times you have been successful at being disciplined and doing what you believed you wanted to do. 

What were you successful at accomplishing? 

How long were you successful at remaining disciplined? 

What actions replaced the disciplined actions? 

Why do you think you chose to stop and replace the disciplined actions?

I could write down a ton of answers.  For over 2 years, I was extremely disciplined in my eating and exercising – and then I wasn’t. I was very disciplined in my vegan eating and cooking for about a year – and then I wasn’t.  Then there are the many seasons of disciplined exercise, up to 5 hours a week – and then a drop to nothing (normally precipitated by a sickness).

I can talk about my spiritual disciplines, such as successfully spending time alone with God before I went to bed and having better sleep and peace.  How about getting up early to read the scriptures?  What about a dedicated prayer time and prayer list?  All things I have done faithfully – for a season.

Socially, I was determined to be more proactive in my friendships, reaching out more often to people – but I didn’t keep it up.  In other relationships, I wanted to get closer to people and work through my intimacy issues. When upset, I didn’t want to withdraw and isolate, which is my pattern, but wanted to develop healthier responses that could nurture my relationships.

Now, I don’t expect to get everything right all of the time. I have had some successes, like keeping my commitment to visit my parents twice a month, and until my recent sickness, to be constant to minister to those in my groups and sites.  However, I believe God is calling me (and you) to apply ourselves to obtaining the FULLNESS of His Spirit and His Wisdom. 

He wants to teach us more, to empower us more, so we can be more like Him in all areas of our lives. He wants to reveal to us more of who we are, so we can see ourselves as He sees us. He also wants us to be able to love God and love others the way Jesus loves the Father and others, and that, we must admit, will require a lot of change in our lives.

So start with the questions I posed above, if you are serious about change right now.  Walk with me as I learn more about myself and about my God, and by His Spirit be transformed by the renewing of my mind. I want to learn from you and your stories as much as you will learn from me, so please share your answers with me.  Today we embark on a new journey together – to be changed into His likeness.

My Life Has Always Sucked (and other generalizations that stop us from being healed)

Psalm 13

1 How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?

3 Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
4 and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

5 But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
6 I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for he has been good to me.

I wanted to share a live recording of a very short song I wrote and played in college. It is from Psalm 13. I find that putting psalms to music helps me memorize them.  I hope it helps you to encourage yourself in the Lord by memorizing His word and speaking or singing it to yourself.

Sometimes it just feels like you have felt bad FOREVER. Time stands still when you are hurting, physically or emotionally. We tend to no longer remember any days that were good, and we rewrite our personal history to be a simplistic, condensed version of the truth, such as “My life has always sucked.”

But that’s not true either, because you have had moments of joy throughout your life. You are just choosing right now not to remember them because those memories don’t support the picture you have painted of your life as always having been bad. When we are exhausted from the battle against sorrow and disappointment, we tend to over simplify and generalize, because we just don’t feel like we have it in us to relive and deal with the specifics.

But therein lies the problem. Depression and anxiety cannot be healed without dealing with specific events in your pasts, not generalizations. When I ask women to drill down to the specifics of what has happened to them in the past, to tell me the last time they felt happy, the last good friend they had, or when their depression started, and they can’t tell me anything at all, I know they are blocking memories. They are blocking them because it is easier to live in depression and anxiety than to fight against it, and by simplifying and generalizing your past, there’s nothing to deal with. You can just “give up” and say there is nothing to be done about it.

But that is not the truth. The truth is that specific things happened in your life to set in motion your current paralysis of emotion. You must be willing to drill down into your past and dig those things up so they can be healed, not ignore them and pretend they didn’t happen. You have to REALLY WANT to be healed, and the dangerous thing about depression is that it sucks the life out of you so you don’t feel you have the energy to deal with anything. With anxiety, the problem is that you don’t want to deal with anything that will make you more anxious, so you avoid dealing with your past. So you avoid your past, and by so doing, entrench yourself in your present misery.

So what is the answer? You have to believe that you CAN be healed. You must have faith that God WANTS you to be healed and believe He has the power to heal you. Many of you have been determining God’s character according to what fallen human beings have done to you in your life and have come to the incorrect conclusion that He isn’t good and that He doesn’t care for you. BUT HE IS GOOD AND HE DOES CARE FOR YOU. He sent His son, Jesus, to die on a cross for you so you could be with Him forever. If you, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more does our Heavenly Father want to give good gifts to you?

I want to encourage you to attempt to believe in God’s goodness once again. I want you to trust in His unfailing love for you, and give Him the opportunity to heal what caused your pain and loneliness. You have your entire life ahead of you, and you actually CAN change what the rest of your life will look like IF you are willing to trust God and do the work of cleaning out the specific emotional debris that is clogging up your life. My prayer for you is that you will finally be able to say: I will sing the Lord’s praise, for He has been so good to me.

Taste And See That The Lord Is Good

Psalm 34
1 I will extol the Lord at all times;
his praise will always be on my lips.
2 I will glory in the Lord;
let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
3 Glorify the Lord with me;
let us exalt his name together.
4 I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears.
5 Those who look to him are radiant;
their faces are never covered with shame.
6 This poor man called, and the Lord heard him;
he saved him out of all his troubles.
7 The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him,
and he delivers them.
8 Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.

I spoke with a woman last night who is really struggling with understanding God after the loss of her husband, sister and mother. All three happened in such a way that the memory of each passing was left unresolved. I realized that she hasn’t been able to move past them because she wasn’t expecting things to occur as they did, and she doesn’t understand why God would allow those things to happen. They are like skips in a record that causes her to stay in an infinite loop of questioning God and never moving beyond it.

From what we discussed, the issue really boiled down to whether or not God is good. Her question she couldn’t get past was “why God would create man if some of them would go to hell”, and that basically is really questioning His goodness. She will need to settle that question before she can move forward in her faith.

As I shared with her, I believe that God’s only goal for creating mankind was to love them and have them freely love Him in return. That means allowing some to reject Him of their own free will. God doesn’t send anyone to Hell – people choose to live without Him. That is all a part of free will. Just as when we have children, we know that they may love us or reject us, they may make us proud or make us ashamed. But we still choose to have those children, because we want to love them and have them love us. We take that risk whenever we choose to have children.

As soon as you move into “why” questions, you are trying to understand God’s infinite thoughts with a human limited mind. We will never have all of those answers here on earth. At some point, we all have to move beyond our demands for answers we can see and understand and into living by faith instead of sight.

Either He is good and we choose to trust His goodness, even in the face of things we cannot comprehend, or He is not good, which makes Him evil instead, and we cannot trust Him. I’m praying God will communicate what you specifically need to reinforce your faith in His goodness. Being in His presence is what confirms it for me every time, because that is where I can taste and see that the Lord is Good.

1) How do you know that God is good?
2) When bad things happen, how can you remind yourself of God’s infinite goodness and wisdom despite what you see with your eyes?