Tag Archives: letting go

Lesson 3: Ask for Help


Lately, my life has been overwhelming, dissolving, renewing and reshaping – and above all, chock full of learning. This series of posts is all about sharing that learning with you, and in return, I hope you share your life learning with me. (click here to read the intro post)

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Last fall, my life was feeling out of control. I had just returned from Ethiopia, was trying to run my coaching business and workshops, starting a new graduate school program and a new part-time job, trying to pay the bills and take care of my friend.

I felt like all of these things had dropped in my lap at one time, and that somehow I should be able to juggle them all. And somehow, I was responsible for them all too.

“God doesn’t give you more than you can handle” people say.

Why do people say that?

So I kept trying to handle it.

I prayed.  I did my homework. I went to classes, and I went to work. I smiled and participated and encouraged others. I was doing all of the things that make me feel purposeful, successful, and make me feel like a good person.

But inside I was a mess. I cried a lot. I tried letting go of the things I couldn’t control, but I wanted to be able to control EVERYTHING. I felt moments of peace, but then the worries and fears would come crashing back in waves. I didn’t know what to do to handle it all or to help my bestie, and I felt powerless.

And alone.

I didn’t want to burden anyone with what was going on. Everyone else has their own worries and troubles to deal with – why would I burden them with mine?

I delight helping others, but can't ask for help myself

Was it pride that was keeping me from asking for help? Or did I see myself as a burden because somewhere inside I don’t see myself worthy of help? And even more perplexing – if the roles were reversed, wouldn’t I want to be there for those I love?

Regardless of the root of the issues, I wasn’t asking. I was trying to carry everything alone, and I KNOW BETTER.

So I started doing a little self-coaching,

and I realized the root was fear.

It was fear of being out of control.
It was a fear of being judged.
It was fear of being vulnerable.
It was fear of being needy.
And really…
it was a fear of asking for help, and maybe not getting it.

I decided long ago that fear would not be the decision maker in my life. And this situation could be no exception – I needed to step OVER that fear and let people in. I had to ask for help.

Lesson 3: Don’t be afraid to ask for help

I like to think I have things all together.  I like to think I can handle just about anything.  But we aren’t meant to live that way.  We are built for connection and interdependence, and it’s ok to ask for help.

pin ask for help2

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Lesson 2: Be Careful What You Say to God

Lesson 2: Be careful what you say to God

Lately, my life has been overwhelming, dissolving, renewing and reshaping – and above all, chock full of learning. This series of posts is all about sharing that learning with you, and in return, I hope you share your life learning with me. (click here to read the intro post)

The trip to Ethiopia was set; I was going.  I listened to the Spirit and followed the call.  I had no idea why I was going, or how God would use me.

I felt peaceful and open to learning. I wasn’t worried, or needing to control anything.  It felt like I had achieved a transcendence about it all – and was able to just sit in a place of faith.  I liked that space.  I soaked in it like a warm lavender-scented bath.

And then I said, “God, I just want to trust you.”

Um, wait. God, can I take that back?I meant I would trust God in Ethiopia.  I would trust that my path would unfold, and that I would be useful, I would learn, and I would be a light while I was there.

I had everything at home taken care of, thank you very much. My coaching business was coming together, I had a great place to live with my best friend, I was going back to school again to build my skills – I had everything mapped out and planned.

Right on my desktop calendar.

only in EthiopiaBut then when life at home started falling apart, I started to fall apart too.  I started to get overwhelmed at everything crumbling down around me. I tried to hold things together, make more plans, figure out more solutions. Why was all of this happening?

And then I realized – I had told God that I would trust, but I wasn’t trusting. Not with everything. Not with my future, my plans, my best friend.  I wanted to be the one in control of those pieces of my life.

Lesson 2: Be careful what I say to God

When I tell God that I want to just trust, to just listen and follow His lead, that means in everything.  I can’t just pick and choose what I will trust God with in my life.

When you tell God that you want to trust Him, be prepared.

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Lesson 1 – Listening to the Spirit

Lesson 1: Listening to the SpiritLately, my life has been overwhelming, dissolving, renewing and reshaping – and above all, chock full of learning. This series of posts is all about sharing that learning with you, and in return, I hope you share your life learning with me. (click here for intro post)


As I try to identify the first lesson in all of this, I find myself continually backing up in my story.  What I intended as lesson one will now probably be lesson 4 or 27 – and maybe that’s because I’m still learning it. And while I could possibly back up to childhood with the lessons I’m learning, I will start with last year, and this clear moment of listening to the Spirit.

About a year ago, my friend Rudy, who runs a short-term missions organization called Bula, asked me to go on a trip with her to Ethiopia.  She was scouting the location to take a team in the future, and connecting with a local organization that works with orphans and widows, called Bring Love In. She had been asked to do a bit of training with widowed women who are now moms to the orphans in “forever families.”

Rudy asked me to join her. I couldn’t recall her ever asking me directly to do a trip with her before, and that made me take note. I asked her several times how she thought I would be an asset, and she gave me vague-yet-encouraging answers about my skills with training and coaching, and just knew I would be helpful.

Unsettling… but hmmm.

You see, mission trips aren’t really “my thing.” I like the idea of going to other places and helping people, but I get a little leary of the helping-people-in-order-to-convert-them concept that can be prevalent in missions work. Rudy knows this about me, so I had to trust that she really believed this particular trip would be a fit.  So I prayed.

And the Spirit whispered, “Go.  See what happens. Learn.”

Listening to the SpiritI like to think that I’ve listened to the Spirit many times in my life. I’ve quit jobs without new ones lined up; I’ve turned down jobs that didn’t feel right.  I’ve gone back to school now a couple of times, feeling lead to learn something new.

And all of that has brought me to where I am today.

But it was all CONTROLLED.  I listened, but I also calculated. I determined the risks, I weighed all the options.  I did all the planning.

And this trip to Ethiopia, it wasn’t like that.  It felt spontaneous. It felt unknown. I had no idea why I was going, only that I was supposed to go. I had no idea how God would use me, only that He would. And in that moment, I knew about listening.

Lesson 1: Listen to the Spirit
Listening to the Spirit requires that I stop my churning mind, my analyzing, and my planning. In the stillness I discern what is being requested of me. And even though I don’t know the outcome,  I say Yes.

Spirit Lead Me

(clickable Facebook inspiration to share)

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Struggling to Find Thankfulness

This time of year, especially in the States, we are flooded with reminders to be thankful and grateful for all that we have in our lives.

But sometimes life gets pretty tough, and it’s hard to find our thankfulness.  It’s hard to stay in touch with our gratitude when we are experiencing loss.  It’s hard to find joy in the midst of great tragedy.

So I just want to remind you today:
it’s OK to feel however you need and want to feel.

You don’t have to be grateful just because a holiday has come up. You don’t have to let go of what you are really feeling because of how you are “supposed to” be.

And maybe our feelings can be more than just either/or.  Maybe we will be able to find moments of laughter through heartache, or find joy in reliving old memories. And maybe we can even find a spark of gratitude in tiny moments, in little gestures of kindness.

Maybe we can feel it all.

And maybe, when we say it’s OK to feel exactly how we are feeling today, we will notice becoming grateful after all – for the little kindness shown to ourself.

However you are feeling today, give yourself permission to have and express those feelings.  I hope you are able to feel more than one way today, and I hope you know that you are never alone.

rejoicing in thankfulness

Setting Healthy Boundaries

Boundaries are an interesting topic – we love to talk about them, talk about when other people violate them, and sometimes even acknowledge that we have trouble setting them clearly. But many of us don’t really know methods for setting them effectively.

So we set boundaries awkwardly, aggressively, or not at all.

And then we get angry at, or critical of, ourselves or others for “violating boundaries” that weren’t well expressed in the first place.

setting boundaries can be difficult and awkward, but don't stop

What if we never learned where “I” end and “you” begin?

Maybe no one set healthy limits when we were growing up.  Maybe we didn’t have any effective role models, or maybe we didn’t have support or encouragement. Or maybe we had our boundaries completely violated without our consent.There can be many reasons why we didn’t develop them, but none of those reasons actually help us move forward.

And so we find ourselves unable to say no, unable to accept when good things are meant for us; we find ourselves feeling selfish whenever we think about self-care, or we find ourselves controlling and deciding the needs for others.

But it’s not too late. Because setting healthy boundaries is a skill. It’s a skill that can be learned and adjusted as needed. Our boundaries adapt depending on the situation, yet revolve around our central values.

Boundary work requires practice.  So how do we start? Maybe with these 3 As of healthy boundaries.

The 3 A’s of setting healthy boundaries

1. Awareness

The first step in any healing and learning process is becoming aware of where we currently are, and what we want to learn or heal.  In what situations are you allowing others to control you? In what situations are you trying to control (protect and rescue included!) others?  How does this impact your life?

2. Action

In order to make any changes in our lives, we have to take action. We can be aware of all kinds of things, but unless we take steps to heal and learn new skills, we will get stuck just living in the same routine.  What new steps can you take today to make changes?  And can you allow yourself to do these steps imperfectly as you practice and learn?

3. Acceptance

If you have trouble letting go or saying no, then you have to know that about yourself, and be gentle with yourself.  Learning a new skill isn’t easy – imagine you were going to start learning the piano today… would you be a master of it tomorrow?  Accept that this is an area of work in your life, and promise to be kind to yourself, and others as you practice.

You teach people how to treat you.

Teach them well.


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It’s Not Personal

To Sarah, it seemed like everyone woke up on the wrong side of the bed that morning.  Her boss was snappy, giving orders to make some changes to a project without even a hello. Two of her coworkers greeted her “Good Morning” with a point to their earphones.Someone even gave her outfit for the day a scowling once-over. She knew it was going to be a rough day.

Frustrated Woman photo by John De BoerAnd it was. Bickering started with the person in the next cubicle – via email.  Someone decided they liked the looks of her sandwich, and it disappeared from the fridge. Then the cherry-on-top of this soul-sucking day was in a department meeting, when blame for a failed project (disguised as accountability) started getting tossed around the table like a hot potato.


So how does Sarah, this enlightened fictional woman, deal with this day?  How does she not absorb all of the swirling negativity, the anger, the tossed about attempts to create shame?

When the world is swirling around you in a negative way, it’s hard not to absorb it.  But you can, with one simple reminder.

It’s not about you.

None of these events need to be taken personally.  In this scenario above, none of these people are even thinking about Sarah, and in your life, they typically aren’t thinking of you either.  These people are thinking about themselves.

Lost in thought photo by Martin WallsPeople are scowling because of their own internal dialogue, their own feelings of low self-esteem, of dissatisfaction, of disappointment.  People disengage with the humans around them because of a drive for task achievement. People hurl blame out of their own fear of rejection, of conflict, or of insecurity.

It’s about them – the things they are going through, the experiences they are living and have lived.  It’s about how they feel about themselves at this very minute.  It’s about how their mother spoke to them last night on the phone.  It’s about how they messed up at home and fought with the kids. It’s about how they don’t feel peaceful, joyful, or filled with love.

It’s about their tough day, and it doesn’t have to be yours.

So how does Sarah make it through the day?

Awareness. She lets it all go.  She sees each person as trying to deal with their own path in this life, and she knows that it doesn’t have to color hers.  She takes a deep breath, exhales the negativity, imagines a bubble of light surrounding her, and she treats herself to a special lunch. She makes it through her day at work, and then surrounds herself with positivity – friends, family, online support, books, shows… connection – any chance she gets.

All the while remembering it’s about them. It’s not personal. It could be directed at anyone (it often is), and it says nothing about Sarah’s like-ability, her capabilities, or her worth.  She let’s them own their own behaviors; she lets them be responsible for their own way.

And that night in her prayers, she asks the Creator for these cranky, scared, insecure, imperfect people to be blessed as they each travel their own, very difficult, roads.

And she asks for a new chance to shine light tomorrow.

at sunset photo by sanja gjenero