Posts Tagged ‘Use Your Words’

Getting a laugh or bringing a smile?


Oftentimes my first reaction to something is a selfish, arrogant, self-centered thought. However, as an introvert, I am ordinarily able to choose to actually say something more gracious. (Introverts are known for thinking before they speak.)

So, one may reasonably question, what is the truest portrayal of who I am? Is it the self-important first reaction or is it the deliberately-chosen, kinder, gentler words actually spoken?

Whichever is the most true is debatable, but it is certain that my first reaction is the funniest. There need be no debate on that. I can easily get a laugh if I just blurt out the first thing that comes to mind.

And speaking of the first thing that comes to mind, it could be argued that my first reaction is the most true. Were I quicker to speak that first thought, there would be integrity between what I think and what I actually say.

Does it necessarily follow that who we really are is exclusively a matter of our first reaction? Can we not be what we first think and what we choose to say or do in response?

If we have the presence of mind to catch ourselves from saying that witty first thought just to get a laugh, is that not saying something about about us? About our character?

See how I work these questions out over at Life & Liberty in my post, How a Well-Chosen Response Can Bring a Smile.

Eat, Sleep, Preach: A Deaconess in Depression

My depression is knocking me down this week. The will to do anything is elusive. My sense of worth is shot.

It’s not rational it just is.

You can’t talk me out of it.

I can’t even talk me out of it.

I’ve had my ups and downs over time and I’ve been on a bit of an upswing lately–feeling good about my writing and podcasting and all that good stuff.

It was in an upswing that I decided to finally start writing for real. I was tired of letting my depression hold me back in life and tell me I wasn’t good enough and didn’t have enough to say. I told my depression to go straight to hell and I was going to do this thing.

But that damned depression is creeping up again.

I mean, there’s the normal-people self-doubt and comparison trap that I get into sometimes and those bring me down, but there’s always something or someone that helps snap me out of those.

But this week–I’ve just been a mess and there’s nothing that can snap me out of it. I’m just a tear-stained, frumpy-clothed mess.

AdventPreaching2013And I hate this part of my story.

I much prefer the part of my story in which I’m the shiny-happy preaching Deaconess. (See photo.)

I’ve heard people criticize social media because of the way that people carefully curate their image–showing only their good sides, posting only the favorable photos, sharing only the triumphant moments.

To be sure, I want you to know about my highs! I want to tell you about my latest podcast that I’m proud of! I want you to see the action shot of me preaching.

But you deserve to know about today and the other days like it. About how I didn’t want to get out of bed. About how I stayed in my pajamas until I got the text that my husband was on his way home for lunch. And about how when my husband got home for lunch he cooked and loaded the dishwasher while I sat in a corner in the kitchen and wept and poured out my tale of woe.

I want to be honest about the whole of this life of mine. I’m the preaching Deaconess and the lady who doesn’t want to get up until after noon.

I know my depression isn’t the worst in the world. I did make it out of bed, so that’s something.

And the fact that I’m at this keyboard is because, as I told my journal today, if I can do nothing else, I will write about my damn depression. Because I’m doing this writing thing no matter what.

God knows there is so much more I want–and need–to write about. There’s so much to say I could burst sometimes.

I don’t want to write about my depression, but it is the elephant in the room right now and it takes too much energy to ignore it. It won’t let me think of anything else right now. So I’m writing about it. Because I’m doing this writing thing.

Photo by: Melissa Wickel

4 Simple Reasons Talking About Hard Stuff Can Enhance Your Life

20131030-194041.jpgIf there’s one thing I’ve gotten a bit of a knack for it is admitting that I don’t have everything all figured out. I’ve become rather at ease identifying and discussing challenges in life.

These challenges can be anything from disheartening health concerns to outright sin. Sometimes challenges we face are beyond our control, and sometimes we bring them on ourselves.

I’ve tried to be honest about some of my challenges here on the blog. They’re part of my resume as someone who seeks to live with integrity and I think it is important to share about them as part of the total package of what it means to live out our faith.

I’m not saying everyone should get a blog to blab out their baggage and angst to the interwebs. But if that’s helpful to you, then go for it.

More importantly though, I believe firmly that we need people in our lives–people that we trust–with whom we share about our challenges.

Here are four reasons I think talking about challenges in life can be of great benefit:

  1. We’re not alone. The more I talk about my challenges, the more I find solidarity with others. While each person’s challenges may be unique to their situation, I find that the reality of hardship is universal.
  2. Sharing feels better. Denial of challenges can eat us up, steal our joy and keep us from experiencing all the fullness of life in Christ Jesus. By contrast, talking about challenges with someone trustworthy can be a great relief.
  3. Talking is a constructive outlet for concerns. Secrets have a way of festering and fueling negative thoughts and behaviors. Talking about challenges with someone trustworthy gives us a safe place to let it out.
  4. The truth sets us free. When we’re saddled under the weight of our challenges it is hard to be fully present with others. Sharing our burdens can free us up to see and respond to needs in the world around us.

This is why I continue to talk about hard things on my blog and in my personal relationships. I hope you too will find strength and hope by sharing about your challenges with someone you trust.

If you enjoyed this post, you may also like these other posts about “How Christian Community Helps us Face Challenges.” (Please click the titles below to go to the posts.)


Essential Traits of a Trustworthy Friend

3 Different Challenges and the Types of Responses Needed
What an Active Listener Does & Doesn’t Do

Finding My Voice, or Getting Laryngitis?

laryngitisI have a confession to make: blogging is way harder than I expected it to be. A lot of great writing advice suggests blogging is a good way to find your voice. I want to find my voice, but keep coming up with laryngitis.

I wouldn’t call it writer’s block, it’s not that I can’t think of anything to write. I have plenty to write about, that’s part of why I started this thing. There’s a lot more tumbling around in my brain than is turning up onscreen.

It’s not a time factor either. My son is old enough to entertain himself for a while if I need to write. My husband is very supportive of me writing. I am aware of the time-killers in my life, now more than ever, and set them aside at will so I can write.

It’s not that I can’t write. There’s always room for improvement, but I I think I do alright with the basic mechanics of writing. Constructing a sentence or forming a paragraph are not my top worries when it comes to blogging.

Why Laryngitis Explains it Best

My trouble with blogging is much like suffering from a case of laryngitis when my favorite hymn is played in church. My heart swells with all the emotion that song evokes for me, but I can’t sing because I’ve lost my voice.

Likewise with blogging, when I actually sit down to write, I just can’t get the words out. Even when I have something really meaningful on my heart to write about, I get bogged down when I try to put it into a blog post.

I think the public nature of the blog intimidates me a little. I mean, people are reading what I put out here. It may or may not be all that many people just now. Still, thinking that others can access what I write at the click of an URL sometimes messes with my head.

Values competing in my thoughts sometimes distort what I want to say. For instance, I often try to “put things in the positive,” emphasizing what is possible or permitted rather than what is discouraged or denied. Yet, sometimes the clearest way to state something is to use a “negative” message. (“Don’t play in the street” is much more to-the-point than offering, “You can play in the lawn or on the driveway.”) The inner debate about how to approach a subject stifles my ability to just write.

Uncertainty about who my audience is challenges me on decisions about what to write or how to frame a post. Maybe if I was more specific about who I want my target audience to be, it would be easier to decide. Even when I resolve to answer that question, I have different ideas about who I hope to reach.

The Cure and Certain Hope

I suppose the cure for this bloggy laryngitis is similar to the cure for ordinary laryngitis: communicate the best I can right now and don’t overstress what voice I have. Like the patience required to wait out true laryngitis, I need to be patient with this phase of writing. How long will it take me to truly find my voice? I can’t say. But laryngitis always passes and I know this will too.

What if I Get it Wrong?

I hate trivia games. Yes, “hate” is a strong word and should be reserved for really serious things.

This is serious. Trivia is very serious. Furthermore, I am bad, seriously bad at trivia. Believe me when I say “hate” is not a strong enough word for how I feel about trivia.

I grew up always one giant leap behind a brother who is two years older than I am.

I love games and I always tried to get him to play with me. Sometimes he did willingly, but other times I had to beg, “Please just one game and I’ll let you pick the game, big brother.” Those were usually the times I got stuck playing a trivia game.

You see, my brother loves trivia and has always been really good at it. When we were kids he won every time and I always left the table feeling so stupid.

We even tried to find ways to make it more fair, like giving him harder questions. He still won, and I felt even more stupid.

It got to the point for me that I wouldn’t even give answers to questions I knew because I felt so humiliated. There were times when I was pretty sure I was right, but I clammed up because I didn’t want to get it wrong.

20130324-154229.jpgA glimmer of hope came for me in a game called Cranium. It has traditional trivia questions as well as singing, acting, drawing, sculpting, and word puzzles. I’m most likely to shine in the singing, acting, and word puzzles. The variety of categories means I can hold my own against trivia buffs.

Playing that game helped me see that even if I am not trivia smart, I am smart!

Do you know what else? The big brother that ran circles around me in trivia games admires my smarts and strengths.

It has been a slow process for me to go from recognizing my intelligence to having the guts to share what I know. That little part of me that was afraid to get it wrong, still tries to hold me back.

That’s part of why this blog is so important to me. I’m not letting that fear of getting it wrong hold me back from this.

The more important question for me has become, what if I am right?

I’m not saying I am an authority on everything I write. Truly, sometimes I may have more questions than answers. Still, what if me just putting it out there can help other people find answers?

What if my sharing can mean something to someone else? What if what I write touches someone’s life?

What if holding all my thoughts in is the wrongest thing ever? Then, I really don’t want to be wrong!

Do you have a love or hate relationship with trivia? What kind of smarts do you have?

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