Posted in In My Opinion..., Mental Health Awareness, Motivational Monday, Uncategorized

Recovery is a Spiral

Progress cannot be a straight line if life is full of twists and turns. Why is it were are told that as long as we are going forward we are moving closer to our destination? If I turn left where I should have turned right, I am getting no closer to my destination by just moving forward. By having this mindset when tracking our recovery progress, we are only setting ourselves up for failure.

I don’t know about you, but I am my own biggest critic. I have a support system I am no where near worthy of, but I cannot tell myself that I am ever doing a good job. No matter how long I am able to go without self-harm behavior or how many days in a row I go without skipping a meal, I cannot see that it has been months longer between episodes or a shorter episode than ever before… All I am able to see is that I have fallen back down the stairs. I have gone backwards. I am not making any progress.

People would tell me that I have not gone back as far as I think and to look at all the progress I have made, but I just saw all the progress I lost.

I recently read this quote from C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity:

We all want progress. But progress means getting nearer to the place where you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turning, then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man.

What if progress doesn’t mean going forward, but it means getting closer to a destination? What if knowing that we took a wrong turn actually helps us get closer to our destination? What if progress is more of a spiral than a straight line.

Well, my friend… then we are rocking it!

I mean think about it with me. When you make a mistake or fall back into old habits, you feel bad and work towards where you were before. You realize the wrong turn and start back to where you were before the turn. You begin to make it closer to your destination. You are making progress. You are well on the road to recovery!

I am so proud of all the hard work you are putting in!

Keep up the hard work. Stay on the Spiral. I am here for you.

Posted in In My Opinion...

For you are Standing on Holy Ground…

“Do not come any closer,” the LORD warned. “Take off your sandals, for you are standing on holy ground.”

-Exodus 3:5(NLV)

This verse follows Moses seeing the burning bush and hearing God call out to him. As Moses began to approach the burning bush, God calls out, “Do not come any closer…. Take off your sandals, for you are standing on holy ground.” The message of removing sandals upon the entrance of holy ground is found in both the Old Testament and the New Testament.

Churches in the east, especially Eastern Orthodox churches, usually have a sign posted outside the church asking for visitors to remove their shoes. Some will quote this very Bible verse in one translation or another. Churches in the west have seemed to abandon this practice. In fact, many church circles see it as disrespectful to remove one’s shoes in the church.

I am a girl of many flip-flops. I really have enough to change my flip-flops depending on my outfit (I am just too lazy to do so). I also am more likely to be found carrying my flip-flops than I am to be actually wearing them. When sitting in the pew, I always take my shoes off and move them to the side. This carries on to when I preach and or am helping lead worship in some way. I take my shoes off and either leave them behind the pulpit or under the first pew depending on where I am and the set up of the worship space.

Why do I prefer to be barefoot in church? It all goes straight back to the verse in Exodus. “Take off your sandals, for you are standing on holy ground.” For me this is a little more literal being an avid flip-flop wearer. I choose to not wear my shoes in church because for me the church is holy ground. The church is not the only place of holy ground but it is indeed holy ground.

Do I believe that the west does it wrong because this is not a common practice? Absolutely not. I do not think there is a right or wrong practice for wearing shoes in church. What I do believe is that there are ways to make a space more guided towards God during worship, and for me, personally, I find removing my shoes to be just one way to guide my attention towards God in worship.

 

Posted in Devotion

New Year, New Me?

So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All of this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.

2 Corinthians 5:17-18

The time leading up to the New Year is filled with reflecting on the past year and planning on making the New Year even better by creating resolutions. We think resolutions to eat healthy, work-out more, or declutter our lives will create a new us. However, most of these plans fail before January ends.

This review of the past can also be dangerous. Focusing on the past does not allow for us to be in the present moment. We are not able to see what God is doing in the here and now because we are focusing on what God has or has not done in the last year.

The past can be improved. The story is yours to write. However, this can be done at any point. We do not need the New Year to decide to do what is best for ourselves. There is no New Year, New Me. The way we become new is not the hours between December 31st and January 1st.

We become new in Jesus. In our relationship with Jesus, we are reconciled with God. The old versions of ourselves pass away and we become new in Christ Jesus. There is no need for resolutions or unmet goals. There is only a need for preparing room in our hearts.

As the New Year greets us, do you have room in your heart for Jesus?

Posted in Devotion

Don’t Carry the Burden Alone

“Let them judge the people at all times, and let it be that every major dispute they will bring to you, but every minor dispute they themselves will judge So it will be easier for you, and they will bear the burden with you.” -Exodus 18:22

Let me set the stage of this passage for you. Moses is appointed judge over all his people. At this point, Moses’ father-in-law is coming to visit. This visit doesn’t relieve Moses of his duty as judge. He was sitting as judge all day, by himself.

Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, questioned Moses on why he was doing this huge task alone. Moses answered that his people needed him. Jethro offered Moses some advice. He said that Moses should appoint some of his people as advisers to oversee the small disputes. The large disputes would still be brought to Moses, but he wouldn’t be carrying the burden alone.

What burden are you carrying alone? Are you like Moses and taking on responsibilities that could be delegated? Are you holding on to secrets you feel you can’t share with anyone? Are you finding daily tasks to be your burden?

Whatever the burden is for you, you are not meant to carry it alone. There are people out there that will rejoice in being able to help you. There is a God who is waiting for you to hand it over, so you are not carrying it alone. Start by laying it at the foot of the cross.

I know that reaching out is scary and usually avoided, but there are people out there who will listen to you and love you all the same. I am not saying that everyone is going to accept your story in a non-judgmental way. i wish I could promise you just the opposite, but I can’t.

Those people are the minority though. The majority of people want to see you succeed. I want to see you succeed.

What burdens will you be placing down to allow others to help you carry?

Prayer:

God, our strength comes from You. Sometimes we carry burdens that are too heavy for us to carry alone. Give us the strength to ask for help, guide us in reaching out to others, and comfort us in our decisions. Lord, You never meant for us to suffer alone. You never leave us even in the toughest times. Thank You God.

Amen.

© 2019 Kiersten Smeal

Posted in Mental Health Awareness

The Bible is Triggering

The Bible is triggering. There is no content warning in the Bible.

All too often we look up a piece of scripture and we are surprised at what we find. We find examples of the very traumas that we have experienced, our friends/family have experienced, or we witnessed happen to someone we may or may not know. Reading these accounts between the front and back covers of the Bible does not make the discovery any less triggering.

Does this mean that we have to stop reading the scriptures? Absolutely not. It just means that we have to change the ways that we read the scriptures. Here are a few ways we can do that:

  1. Before we jump into a passage of scripture, look it up. You will be able to find out what the passage is about without reading the events themselves. This is like looking up the content warning for each passage before we read them.
  2. Read scripture in community. A community of those who have similar experiences or a group of people that have no idea what you’ve been experienced. There is more likely to be a trigger warning when reading in community, and in community you can find support if you are triggered. You won’t be exposed to this trigger in solitude.

Most importantly, do not feel that your faith is lacking or that you are in someway doing something wrong when you find a trigger in scripture.

Please know that you are not alone. Many Christians struggle with the triggers in scriptures. Many non-Christians struggle with the triggers in scriptures. The Bible is triggering, so where is the content warning?

 

What has been helpful for you when dealing with triggers in the Bible? 

© 2019 Kiersten Smeal