On the No-Shower Days

Battle-weary from warring with worry, dazed and confused from the hard fall after the rug got pulled from beneath your planted feet, and insulated in isolation from the human interaction you desperately need, you find yourself staring at that familiar image in the mirror.  If only you could sneak in a 5-minute date with the tub.  A little too familiar?  A few too many no-shower days?

When life is providing challenges, it’s easy to fall into a few of Satan’s well-hidden traps.  If we learn to become vigilant and become skilled at recognizing and disarming them, we stay steady on our journey, and the no-shower days don’t hold as much power as they otherwise would.

Let’s visit a few of the deceiver’s favorite go-to snares otherwise known as lies.

Catastrophizing.

This is where you imagine the worst of outcomes.   Your inner Buzz Lightyear is screaming, “This will last to infinity and beyond!”  This present affliction has to be the absolute biggest and baddest of all big and bad things.   In this place, convincing yourself that this difficult day is destined to be repeated for the next 365 comes easy.  Words like “never” and “forever” and “always” ricochet in your brain space, piercing any positivity you might cling to.  You obsess over the current cause of your hygiene hiatus and believe you will never again shower.  Each of us have our own bait-lines that when swallowed, pull us into the abyss of despondency.  What are yours?

Ruminating. 

In an article titled “Rethinking Rumination” in Perspectives in Social Science, the authors give an excellent definition for rumination…

“rumination is a mode of responding to distress that involves repetitively and passively focusing on symptoms of distress and on the possible causes and consequences
of these symptoms. Rumination does not lead to active problem solving to change circumstances surrounding these symptoms.  Instead, people who are ruminating remain fixated on the problems and on their feelings about them without
taking action.” 1

If your thoughts have become the equivalent of a bad vine on YouTube, identify them now.

Enumerating.

Keeping track of your woes?  Adding up insults?  Tabulating troubles?  Multiplying misery?  How often do we count our burdens when we should be counting our blessings?  Becoming an accountant for the adversary is nothing but nonproductive.   It’s easy on the sans-bath days to start a lengthy list of all you do for the others in your life.  What are you logging into your mind’s ledger?

Generalizing.

Sweeping generalizations, the labeling of all of life.  One terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day does not mean they all will be.  Even if the present circumstance does permeate more time than we would choose, it will get better.  It will get easier.  We become healthy when we accept, adjust, and adapt.  Have you painted over a brilliant fine line of promise with a wide brush stroke of generalization today?

Victimizing.

It is far too easy to adopt a victim mentality on the hard days.  Human nature seeks to place blame on someone or something tangible.  We step right into the snares called “If only” and “why can’t”.  Here’s the deal;  bad things happen, people fail us, not everything comes with a labeled reason.  No matter what the source of your pain is, you get to choose whether you will live as a victim or victor.  Taking control of your thought life is the first step in becoming the latter.  Who do you tend to “blame” for your no-shower days?

The Solution:  Spirit-filled mindfulness. 

Mindfulness, apart from spirituality, is defined by Psychology Today as:  “a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience.”

Mindfulness tells Buzz Lightyear that he’s overly dramatic.  When truly mindful, we can be aware that this no-shower day is actually a no-shower hour because we are simply in the moment, hour, day.   It grounds us in this truth:

Therefore, don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself.  Matthew 6:34

See, even the Father instructs us to stay in the present!

With spiritual mindfulness, we can purposely list our blessings,  identify joy in mundane moments, cultivate a garden of gratitude as children of a loving God who holds the future we fear.

Rejoice always!  Pray constantly.  Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  1Thessalonians 5:16-18 (HCSB)

Here’s the best part!  As Christ-followers, we have an abundance of help.  We are empowered by the Holy Spirit to be discerning of our thoughts and motives.  He is waiting to gently and graciously expose those destructive thought patterns which make us so vulnerable to Satan’s lies.

But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit – the Father will send Him in My name – will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have told you.  Peace I leave with you.  My peace I give to you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Your heart must not be troubled or fearful.    John 14:26 (HCSB)

When we allow The Spirit to control our thought live vs. dialing him up for damage control, our no-shower days aren’t so distressing and the image we see as we pass the mirror is not that of a worried and worn-out woman, but that of a gentle and quiet spirit who just happens to be tired.  Big difference, my friends.

In the same way the Spirit also joins to help in our weakness, because we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with unspoken groanings.  And He who searches the hearts knows the Spirit’s mind-set, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.  Romans 8:26-27 (HCSB)

So, you there with the greasy hair and the baggy sweats, know first that you are loved fiercely by your Father God.  Become obsessed with that.  Ruminate on that.  Count the ways He loves you.

BE MINDFUL OF HIM WHO LONGS TO FILL YOUR MIND!

For I am persuaded that not even death or life, angels or rulers, things present or things to come, hostile powers, height or depth , or any other created thing will have the power to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 8:38-39 (HCSB)

Make a plan for your next no-shower day.  Right now!!!  Here’s your have-ready list:

  • Scripture verses that hold great meaning to you personally.
  • A positive statement in BIG letters for a prominent place.  i.e. “This too shall pass” or “I am loved by the King” or “He knows”.
  • A dry erase marker for your bathroom mirror.  Draw a happy face every time you visit that room.  Don’t forget to smile back at it.
  • Start a blessings list now and add to it ON your rough days.
  • A play-list of your favorite inspirational music.

Blessings my friends!

 

(1) (http://drsonja.net/wp-content/themes/drsonja/papers/NWL2008.pdf)

 

 

 

 

 

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When Guilt Becomes Your Primary Diagnosis

Chronic illness of any kind deals painful blows to our self-worth, none of which are deserving.  The longer I live, the more I realize how I have stacked pallets of guilt on pallets of shame and allowed them to sit heavy on the decaying foundation of my self-worth.  How many times have I let an employer, friend or loved one down?  How many times have I been a burden?  How many times have I let my health overshadow the joys in life?

How many times have I allowed the cancer of guilt to invade my healthy mind?

Regrets are real and have a healthy place when they are used to mend relationships fractured by the weight of our illness and the selfishness that sometimes occurs with such.  Let’s admit it,  we get selfish when we are sick.  It is necessary to seek forgiveness from both others and ourselves in order to move forward.  Chronic illness often prevents us from performing as we would like.  Our minds desire to do what our bodies refuse.  Now that my children are grown and I’m more reflectfull, (not a typo….I’m full of reflection at my age), it is so easy to become regretful over the amount of activities my illness and anxiety prevented me from.  I’m acutely aware my struggles overshadowed family times that should have been great fun, and for that, I am regretful;  however, I can not invite Regret to make a home in my heart.  Obsessing over Regret will open the door to Shame, and Shame ushers Guilt right on in.

Without realizing what has happened, Guilt, unchecked, can become our primary diagnosis.  Guilt has the ability to incapacitate us in emotional, relational and physical ways, and she is a sneaky, silent killer.

I felt the sting of Guilt’s nasty right hook just this morning when the side effects from a seizure medication change meant I was unable to get out of bed to make sure my special needs daughter did her therapeutic exercises.  Hubby had to be both Mom and Dad, again.  Score one for Guilt.

An unexpected jab hit when my husband wanted to pop into a restaurant for a quick bite to eat.   Key words here are “pop into” because you know how we anxious CIBS  (chronic illness buddies) hate to not have had the time to plan for every possible disastrous, yet highly unlikely scenario.  Really? C’mon, we need the time to worry, or it just can’t happen.  Can I get an Amen?!  So,  I stated in my irritated, flat voice that there was no way I could handle the sensory overload that was in that place.  Guilt sat in my lap as we ate our drive-through meal.

A couple of days later, Guilt left me bruised and in tears as I had to leave a reception after my sweet grand babies’ dance recital.  The lighting and sounds were firing up my brain waves resulting in a nice healthy aura, the kind that sends you fleeing in some kind of hyper state of flight or fight.

You know what I’m saying.  You hear the edge in your own voice.  You hear the cutting irritation directed at loved ones.  You make the same excuse for the millionth time, and you  feel the sting of shame.  Score another for Guilt.

If you have a story like mine,  many of you do, you went years with no answers but plenty of symptoms.  Like me, you may have been misdiagnosed…a few times.   That in and of itself leads to great anxiety, depression and dysfunction.  Perhaps, even NO function, as in bed, covers over head for days at a time. As if those aren’t enough,  we start to heap on shame as we weasel out of social events, responsibilities and commitments.  We are masters at disguising the fact we really are in no physical and/or mental shape to show up anyway.  This all too familiar scenario sets us up perfectly for Guilt to wage war on that eroding foundation of self-worth.  Hence, Guilt slides into number one spot as she eats away at us like acid on flesh.  She really is that destructive.  Guilt becomes the disease.

I intend to rob Guilt of the power she has stolen from me.

  Let’s break it down and choose to claim forgiveness for what has been, acceptance of what is and hope for what will be.

Guilt robs us of a few things.

  1. The ability to see the positive.  We are oh, so much more than our illnesses.  Let’s count the good moments and take them back from the hard grasp of Guilt.  Is Guilt stealing your joy?
  2. The ability to see our potential.  God created us to do great things! While it may look different from peers, it doesn’t mean our contributions to this world are any less valuable than our healthy counterparts.
  3. The ability to perceive truth.  We can easily transfer our own shameful view of ourselves to others.   We can easily tell ourselves we are failures when others do not see us in that light at all.  We can easily see ourselves as incapable when in fact, we are entirely able.  Are you seeing yourself as incapacitated?
  4. The ability to live in the present.  Guilt is the rock WE shackle to our ankles.  It drags us under the surface of this moment into the abyss of the past.  WE hold the key, Truth, to unlock the chains.  WE choose whether or not to swim to the surface of the here and now.

Let’s choose to kick the curable disease of Guilt.  Let’s choose to burn those pallets of regret and shame.  Let’s choose to use the key of Truth to unlock these chains.   I leave you with this:

…I broke the bars of your yoke and enabled you to live in FREEDOM!  Leviticus 26:13b (HCSB)

chain