Taming The Red Dragon

posted in: Blog | 0
a blog written by Jennifer Lynn

What makes you really angry? Not irritable or frustrated but actually full out, cartoon steam whistle, you better run type of angry? If I’m honest, I don’t get that type of angry very often. I get impatient, irritable or frustrated easily depending on the situation but it actually takes quite a bit to get me to the “code red” level. There are a couple of things though that do get me there. Being lied to is one. It makes my blood boil. Not to mention I will never trust you again if you ever lie to me. Another biggie, messing with people that I love, especially if I’m not in a position to do anything about it. Feeling helpless in those types of situations is the worst and gets me riled up. In these moments it can be really hard for me to bite my tongue or to not take matters into my own hands the way I think they should be. 

Over this past year I have really been tested in this area. Like, a lot. I’ll give you the “coles notes” version here but if you want the whole story you can visit JenniferLynn.net and catch up there. 

To make a long story short, my two children (both boys) went to go and live with their father and his new wife back in November 2017. The problem is that it was done without my knowledge or consent. They went to visit him for the weekend as usual and then on the friday night I got a phone call from my ex husband stating that “The boys want to live with me, they won’t be coming home. I have spoken to my lawyer and I am acting within my rights.” Talk about a sucker punch to the gut. I was devastated. Not to mention that because “apparently” my boys were in on it, I felt betrayed, lied to, hurt and once the dust settled, that full out, cartoon steam whistle, you better run type of angry. Because of the boys’ ages (teenagers) nothing could be done on the legal side of things and so I had no choice but to let them go, for now. As if taking my children out from under me wasn’t enough, he had the audacity to serve me with court papers trying to get out of paying the full amount of back child support he is still owing for the last 10 years. So now, we’re in the middle of a pretty ugly court battle. I don’t get to see my children much anymore either. My mama heart has pretty much been destroyed.

The damage that has been caused by this whole thing is just totally gross and it’s been really difficult to reign in everything that I’ve been feeling. But I also know that it isn’t healthy to keep it all bottled up either. It’s been a learning process (mostly trial and error)  in finding a balance between expressing what I’m feeling without crossing that line. Because ultimately anger is not wrong. It’s not a sin to be angry. It’s a natural human emotion to be angry. Even Jesus got angry. He told people off, called people names and even flipped tables in the temple! Every time I read that in the Bible, I’m thinking, hey, how come Jesus gets to flip tables and call people names but if I do that I’d probably get slapped with a restraining order or a hefty fine or maybe even some jail time. I wanna flip tables too (among other things) Not fair! Argh, why is life so hard?!  

I’ve definitely lost my cool on a number of occasions this past year and allowed myself to get suckered into allowing my anger to get the best of me. But to be fair I’ve also “bitten my tongue” and held back quite a lot too that I’m surprised I’m still able to speak at all. Hey, if you all knew the things I didn’t say or didn’t do, you’d give me a lot of credit. I deserve a medal for this level of self control that I’m on. 

The thing with anger is that, at it’s very root, is fear. Fear of not getting our way. Fear of not being able to control the situation. Fear of being misunderstood or taken advantage of. Fear of justice not being served. And while it is perfectly natural to be angry at injustice or when someone deeply hurts us, healthy anger should actually drive us toward change. It should compel us to action (and not the violent, unlawful kind!). The kind of action that really makes a difference rather than simply making the situation much worse than it already probably is. Sometimes that means simply biting our tongue and waiting until we’re calm enough to make a rational decision. Sometimes that means walking away and putting space between yourself and a person or a situation to gift yourself peace of mind. And sometimes that means biding your time and strategizing, making a well thought out plan that is effective in the long run rather than acting upon your temporary urges. Which, if we’re honest, we all know that temporary urges and rage rarely ever lead to wise decision making. 

I’ve learned that life is far too short to hold onto anger. I’ve learned that allowing uncontrolled, unfiltered anger to speak through you causes more damage than healing and rarely gets the results that are needed in the long run. I’ve had to rewire my brain to the point where I begin to think, even when I’m beyond angry, that God sees it and is still in control. That when I let go of anger, I can embrace trust. Trust is the opposite of fear. Trust is faith. Faith in a Sovereign God who IS in control even when I feel that I am not. Faith that He is directing my path, even when it gets cloudy and all I see is red. Faith in a God who is also angry at injustice and will have the final say in each and every situation. 

What am I saying exactly? Be angry. Be EFFECTIVELY angry. Chanel it towards change. Towards freedom. Towards peace. There is a bigger picture in the making that we cannot see quite yet and the end result is far more valuable than possibly squandering it away because of a momentary lapse. 

Me, My Self Esteem and I

posted in: Blog | 0
a blog written by Jennifer Lynn

What do you see when you look in the mirror? Who or what is staring back at you in the reflection? Do you like what you see or do you go straight for the self loathing and personal critiquing parts? Perhaps what you see is every decision you’ve ever made, the good, the bad and the oh so ugly. I honestly don’t know which is worse. I mean, the physical appearance we can always do something about. Hit the gym, eat healthy, get a new hair do etc. But those things we can’t change, the things we can’t take back, that guilt and shame staring right back at us. What am I supposed to do about that? How do I choose to see who and what is staring back at me?

I’ve always had issues with my self esteem to some degree or another over my entire life. And not just how I look although that’s been a big part of it too. Especially as a woman, I think there is a whole other layer of self loathing that we are inherently “gifted” with at birth. As if life wasn’t difficult enough. I’ve tried keeping myself as thin as possible over a long period of time. And then adding bouts of depression here and there later on in life was a great help in that. If you ever want to lose weight quickly by completely losing your appetite, depression will take care of that for you. (Not that I highly recommend it.) It’s taken me YEARS, along with some rewired thinking, to be able to look in the mirror these days and think, “Okay, not too bad…not bad at all.” Especially after looking at some old photos from a few years ago and being able to see just how unhealthy I was…and looked! It’s made it easier to accept gaining some weight (on purpose) and actually embracing having a figure again. I can still have off days if I’m not careful so I am always mindful to remind myself that being strong is better and healthier than being “skinny”.

My physical appearance has only been a part of my struggle with how I see myself. For the longest time I didn’t even like the sound of my own voice. I love to sing. Music is a passion of mine. But getting more confident in my abilities and using my voice has been a long process as well. I’ve had many wonderful people in my life along the way (and still do) who God has used to help, mentor and encourage me to confidently use what God has given me and to them I am indebted for life. I have had wonderful opportunities that have come out of those relationships that mean so much to me.

Usually in a room full of other singers, my voice has more often than not been the one that stands out. Not because I’m better, but because I’m different. Especially in certain circles where you’re often expected or preferred to sound like the latest trend. My voice isn’t “pretty” or sweet or cute sounding. I can’t do fancy vocal runs to save my life. And I’m not usually the one belting out power ballads with everyone applauding along. My voice is twangy, raspy, loud. I was always drawn to female singers that had that same sound. That sang with soul. I knew I could sing along with them rather than the typical female “pretty” sounding vocalists.
I’m finally in a place in my life where I’ve accepted what God has given me, the WAY He’s given it to me. I will never sound like anyone else. I will never sound like the latest trend or whoever is popular and I don’t want to. I don’t want to blend in, I want to stand out!

I remember, a few years ago when I auditioned to be apart of a church’s worship team (not the church I attend now). I remember being so nervous. It had been a long time since I had sang in front of people but I knew I wanted to sing. I met the person I was to audition for at the church and we sat at the front of the sanctuary. I sang a couple short verses for them a capella and then they accompanied me on guitar for a short hymn to see if I could harmonize as well. After I was finished I was welcomed on to the worship team. But more importantly it was what this person said as to “why” they said yes that meant the world to me. They said “We don’t have anyone that sounds like you… .” To be honest, it still makes me tear up when I think about it, even as I’m writing. I’m SO thankful for that day! Something that still resonates with me today and continues to give me the confidence to use my voice the way it was intended. Unique. Different. One of a kind. That’s me baby!

I think out of all of the issues related to my self esteem, the hardest part has been living with past choices. Looking in the mirror and remembering every little detail. Every little memory. I’m 36 years old and now every new line on my face is a piece of my life that I can’t take back. There are no do overs. Forgiving others is a whole other battle but learning to forgive yourself? Learning to let things go and be gracious towards the version of you that didn’t know better or had to learn lessons the hard way. Where do you even start? It’s never easy and it’s a daily process but ultimately, the only way to see myself the way it was intended is my faith. My relationship with Jesus.

There are many noises, many distractions in our world today that will attempt to tell us how to think about ourselves. Every time you open a magazine, every time you scroll through your social media feed. Or even people from a past life that for some reason enjoy reminding you of who you used to be, even though you’re not that person anymore. Anytime we try to move forward there will always be voices that pop up to remind us of every flaw, every poor choice, every consequence. The question is, who are we going to believe? The voices in this world, the voices from our past, the voices in our own head or the voice of God?

Go ahead and take a look in the mirror and let me remind you of who you really are.

You are a child of God.
You are loved by God.
You were thought about, formed and created with love and intention.
You are not an accident.
You have a God ordained purpose for your life.
You are unique on purpose.
You were created for relationship first and foremost with God and second with others.
There IS hope.
Peace of mind IS possible.
There IS life and joy after sorrow.
A broken heart CAN be whole again.

His name is Jesus. He is my mirror. He is my reflection. And He can be yours too, if you let Him.

The Written Word

posted in: Blog | 0
a blog written by Jordan Berta

For the past two years, many people have been impacted by The Unspoken Conversation podcast. This has been an exhilarating journey to be a part of and now our team is positioned to take the next step in our media ministry. People are inspired and learn in a variety of different ways and our goal this year is to expand how we get our message across. So now you will be able to read blog posts on a regular basis that are written with the goal of telling stories and providing insight on many facets of the mental health conversation. 

For this new initiative to take shape, we needed a strong writer with a desire to encourage people and we were blessed to find these qualities in Jennifer Lynn. 

Jennifer’s story is a living testimony that there is wholeness after brokenness. Growing up in a Christian home, she still struggled to find her own faith and voice. Having dealt with self-esteem and body image issues, going through a divorce and single motherhood, broken relationships and habits, Jennifer knows how it feels to have lived both with a broken heart and broken mindsets.

Through trial and error and a whole lot of grace, Jennifer is finally at a place in her life where she is finding her way out of brokenness and relentlessly chasing after healing and wholeness, spiritually, mentally and emotionally.

Jennifer openly shares her life’s journey in her writings with the hope that it can bring encouragement to others. Tomorrow Jennifer’s first blog will be released going into further detail of her story and struggle with self esteem. So make sure you never miss a post by subscribing to our email list.

To listen to the announcement and hear a teaching from Sathiya Sam join us for Episode 75…

Be Still

posted in: Blog | 0
Our guest this week Pastor Jeff Webb wrote an inspiring blog that we wanted to share with you. Follow his blog at jeffreyswebb.com

A couple of years ago, a friend introduced me to the idea that everyone has a central question. Something they are always asking themselves that often becomes a driving force in their lives. It can be different for everyone, but I think that we all do have something like this hiding somewhere in the back of our minds. 

For me, the question is, “Am I useful?” 

I always want to make sure that I am contributing something or that I’m pulling my own weight. At its core, it isn’t good or bad. It simply is. But, the way that it plays out can be healthy and positive or very dysfunctional.

One of the positive expressions of this are that I have a natural desire to learn. Learning new things helps me to be able to do more things, it helps me to connect with more people and to approach people with greater understanding. It also means that I’m not generally the lazy type, I like to be out doing things and being productive. When I focus myself on positive things, this is really good and beneficial in my life.

The negative side of this question plays out in my general resistance to practicing sabbath well, my historically unhealthy sleep habits, and a tendency to take on too many things which leads me towards burnout. I’m not very good at resting and sometimes I even fall into the trap of being proud of myself for overworking. I can remember moments in my undergraduate when I bragged to other people about how little sleep I had from studying or working on papers or the time that I worked myself so hard with so little sleep that I actually experienced hallucinations. 

Let me set the record straight. While I may have been proud of those behaviours before, I now recognize that this type of behaviour is not healthy, it is not admirable, and it is not the way that things should be. 

These unhealthy actions driven by this question of usefulness. An incessant need to prove my own value and worth in any given situation. An understanding of my do-it-all-myself tendencies is why Psalm 46 is a particularly important passage of scripture to me. 

Psalm 46 is about relying on God. I’m not very good at relying on others, I want to be a contributor. I wrestle with stepping back and just accepting God’s care in my life and if I’m not paying attention, I can easily fall into a trap of trying to do everything in my own strength. So, from time to time, I need this wonderful reminder found in Psalm 46:10,

“Be still and know that I am God”

Be still and know. It should be simple but in the thick of life it can seem like anything but… When I was on my gap year missions trip, the leader of our team saw right through my exterior and saw me trying, day in and day out, to prove my value to everyone else. I tried to work the hardest and do the most and be the most spiritual… all in an attempt to prove that I was useful. Seeing this, he wrote me a note with Psalm 46:10 and gently reminded me that there was nothing that I could do to make God love me any more or less than He already does. God sees me in my entirety and loves me fully. All I need to do is be still and know that He is God. 

In the last year, I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on ideas related to vulnerability, sabbath, and personal value. This Psalm has been a wonderful spot to ground myself. In the midst of turmoil, confusion, or feeling like I’m just not big enough to handle whatever is being thrown my way I can be reminded to be still and to remember God as my refuge and strength.

As part of a project this year, I made a video of Psalm 46. Producing the video was an awesome experience of worship and I’m going to share it here in the hope that it can be helpful for you to reflect and be encouraged.

Maybe for just these two minutes you would be willing to try to be still and know that He is God.

Click here to watch the video on YouTube.

To listen to an interview with Jeff join us for Episode 74…