BY: M. Diane Pearce, Ph.D., Marriage & Family Therapist
Do you like a good mystery? I always have enjoyed a good novel with twists and turns that are suspenseful, unpredictable and keep you on the edge of your seat till the final page! Figuring out the outcome before it is revealed is good entertainment to me! The more intrigue, the better the novel!
However, when it comes to real life, I am the opposite! I like to be prepared for what is next, I prefer no surprises, I want to be ready for the ‘what if’s’ in life and I admit that I tend to pride myself on being responsible (yes, just a touch of neurotic thinking)! On the surface this may appear to be good. But it is not realistic, and it sabotages my faith and trust in the one who knows the outcome better than us all.
Healthy rhythms in our daily lives are important. My mentor has reminded me of this truth many times over. We all have rhythms, some healthy & some not so much! As I attempt to follow my mentor’s advice, these rhythms, habits, and expectations in life need to be re-assessed and adjusted to fit what is new. In my quest to adjust, questions need to be asked. So, when faced with what is new, I wonder, “Am I asking the right questions?”.
My old questions sound something like this:
When we come upon a twist that is unexpected, we can complain, whine, try to understand why, pity ourselves & begin to strategize. Or we can begin to ask questions that will deepen our trust and anchor our souls in the one who knows the end of the story and the mystery of life itself!
My new questions sound something like this:
Rhythms of Rest comes in knowing that I no longer am on a quest to understand life’s mysteries and that I can Trust in the one who knows, understands, and works all for my good and His glory. He will do this through what is painful and disappointing and heartbreaking. He is my Hope and my Stronghold.
I resolve myself to rest in trusting the one who knows the end of the story and all the twists and turns along the way. He is my strength, and my mind is steadfast because of how powerful & all-knowing my God is. As our new year begins, won’t you join me in renewing your rhythms of rest and trust? Instead of embarking on a daily quest to figure it all out, we remember to rest in Him and to thank Him for every twist and turn because He is our ever-present help in times of trouble. His ways are better than my own.
By: M. Diane Pearce, LMFT, Founder/Consultant Legacy Strategy, Inc
While attending a recent funeral of a lady who left us far earlier than anyone expected, I was reminded of what a mentor said to me once, “You cannot lead others where you will not go”. My friend was a woman of extreme grace & loving grit. She was a leader of those who knew her. Every one of us leads someone by example of behavior (more than words).
Since we all lead someone, the question is, how do we lead others? I have learned much about how not to lead, so as I write this, I am keenly aware of the fact that my most potent lessons in leadership have come when I am faced with the truth of my own weakness. The beauty and dilemma of weakness is that it reminds us of how utterly in need we are of the strength that comes from desperate dependence on God. Leading with grit & grace requires truth about self & others.
Grit is forged when we face the thorns that are within. We all have at least one thorn. Though I have pleaded that God remove mine, I thank God for my thorns because they are what makes me most useable. Don’t get me wrong, thorns hurt! They do not make me happy, but they do bring me joy. They are persistently painful & can distract me from His purpose. Pain is never allowed without God having a way to use it for good. Joy comes when pain is used for good.
Divinely appointed thorns are those items that never seem to leave us & facing our thorns enables us to get out of the way so that God may accomplish all the good that He has planned. Through His words He teaches & molds us when we face & surrender our thorns to His purposes.
It is when we are in pain that we are most likely to set aside our self-reliance, accomplishments, successes, and our superior attitude. Only in surrender can we have the peace that comes from truth that heals us. Facing our thorns forges our grit and not facing them forges our denial of truth.
Grace is forged when we embrace His grace & extend His grace. We cannot give what has not yet been received. Grace is needed when we face our thorns and adjust our control. Adjusting for the sake of God’s purpose, as opposed to my own purpose requires a change in control. We are creatures of comfort and we do not like change. We like what we already know.
When we face our true selves in change, we are faced with the reality of either resisting with our will or embracing His will. Letting go of what is comfortable & works like a well-oiled machine can be scary! Yet, because of His grace, we can let go of the comfortable and walk in faith as we re-assess our priorities. Peace does not come from keeping everything the same, but from walking in faith & staying focused on the truth that God shows us as we spend time in His word. Grace frees us of holding on for too long to people, circumstances, my rights, my things, my shame, failures or successes. These only lead to being stuck in the past without personal growth. Grace that is not yet received cannot be given to others.
Leading will always prompt responses that are distracting. We may be elevated and praised for how we lead, but do not get distracted my friend! The praise of an audience is a fickle friend that will quickly turn to scrutiny when truth becomes uncomfortable. Do as Paul exemplified in the Bible. When the audience was listening, he spoke truth without fear & when they elevated him he reminded them of his humanness and pointed them to his source of truth and strength.
Stick to the truth that God has shown you in the time you have spent in His word. Extend grace without watering down the truth and exercise grit without fear! He has you in His Hands! Stand for what is right and true and He will take care of the rest!
(Further study: Genesis 50:20, Psalms 49:1-3, Psalms 51, Acts 14:14-15, 2 Cor. 12:7.)
By: M. Diane Pearce, Ph.D., Marriage & Family Therapist
“BE CAREFUL, KEEP CALM & DO NOT LOSE HEART!” This is the soundest psychological advice of our time! This advice is challenging to follow when the order that we all grew accustomed to is nowhere to be seen. In a gloomy & distressful environment, it is natural human instinct to begin looking around for something predictable & a sense of order. Chaos seems to surround us, in the news, social media, government and even in relationships.
Order and predictability become my quest….
A quote from the movie Spiderman, “To whom much is given, much is expected” resonates in my soul because I have been given a great deal. Therefore, I am somewhat ashamed to admit to you, my reader, that I am afraid of the unknown. In my younger & seemingly braver days I marched into the unknown & I did it alone and afraid. Yet, I walked in faith and took one step at a time, having only my faith in God and what scripture tells me is His purpose for me as my motivation. As God often does with us, He did not make clear to me the path set before me but He always made clear the next step to take by making available to me one & only one step at a time. Now years later, I find myself fearing the unknown, when I know from years of experiences that He is predictable though the path laid before me is not!
So, we must ask ourselves, as we start a new year with the chaos, what step can I take today? Though I will feel lonely and afraid, wisdom tells me that I only need to know how to take the step laid before me today.
How to be Strong enough for One Step at a Time in today’s Chaos…….
“Be Careful, Stay Calm & Do Not Lose Heart” is advice that is psychologically sound for our current culture & it comes from scripture! This advice was stunningly appropriate to the environment that is recorded in Isaiah. The people were in gloom and distress & needed a Prince of Peace, an Everlasting Father! He told Isaiah to not call conspiracy what the people call conspiracy & do not fear what they fear. He told him to Be careful, Stay Calm & Do not lose heart! May we each stand firm in our faith with Careful Calm!
(Scripture adapted from Isaiah 7:4, 9, 8:12-14, 9:1,2 6,7)
By: M. Diane pearce, MFT, Legacy Strategy Clinical Director
See Part 1 for Tips 1-4
Continued from Part 1...
How do we survive these unprecedented circumstances with our Families intact?How do we keep intact the family and what family was created to be in the midst of our uncertainty?
5. SET UP A TIME ALONE FOR EVERYONE! We all need some time to be quiet and sit alone with a book, or take a nap, or sit outside and be fully present in the moment. Listen to the sounds around you and be still for a little while each day to notice the many things that go unnoticed in our normal daily routines. Without this, we can all begin to feel a bit like a tangled ball of tension. This tension will eventually fall out onto those we care about the most. Breathe deeply & notice the little things & smile….
6. CREATE A DAILY PLAN WITH FLEXIBILITY! Most of us are accustomed to accomplishing tasks each day during the traditional work week (Monday-Friday), so follow suit and have a project with a balanced amount of time designed for working on the project, breaks, meals, fun time, alone time and rest time. Our bodies and our minds work best when there is a rhythm to our activities. If our sleep rhythms are drastically altered, our entire body will be affected. Too much of any good thing can turn int a negative. As with life in general, plan for the unexpected. Flexibility eases the tension that builds when people are together for extended periods of time. Breathe deeply & be easy going & smile….
7. PRACTICE BOUNDARIES! It is very easy for us all to forget our place when we are in each other’s space physically, mentally and emotionally. We all have invisible property lines that give us some power in. One example might be that as parents, you probably decided what to wear today, and I am pretty sure that if your kids decided to select your clothes today, you would have likely responded with something like, ‘Nice try, but no thanks!’ Our kids need their own designated space to control (within reason and safety). When school is not formerly in operation, maybe we could let the kids have some freedom in their clothing choices. This principle can be practiced in most parts of our lives, not just in clothing. Breathe deeply & respect boundaries & smile….
8. ALIGN OUR ACTIONS WITH OUR FAITH! It is so very easy to allow our responses to be dictated by our circumstances, frustrations and hurts. If we allow our emotions to be in charge, we will spread a virus of negativity with our self-absorption, our actions, and attitudes towards those we do not understand. In my home, we know that our higher power, God, calls us to walk in His ways as we respond to our circumstances. For us, we know that His ways include truth in times of confusion, mercy in times of not knowing the full story, patience in times of frustration, gentleness in times of fear, and above all, love towards one another, regardless of what my emotion tells me. Are we perfect in this endeavor? Absolutely not! We are but broken humans striving to learn from our own mistakes. We re-focus and re-calibrate frequently, that means we apologize and lean into each other. Where does your moral compass comes from? Wherever it comes from, remember in times of uncertainty to re-calibrate often with the source of your compass! Breathe deeply & trust in one greater than yourself & smile….
By: M. Diane Pearce, MFT, Legacy Strategy Clinical Director
It appears that we are all in a position to fortify our "shelter in place!" After COVID-19 cases begin to subside in our nation, perhaps we can all move forward with a renewed appreciation for our family. Perhaps, even in spite of the likelihood of COVID-19 intensifying the risks for divorce, abuse and domestic violence reports. We have all broken from our learned ‘normal’ rhythm of living together. The stress of more time with our families, more anticipated responsibilities and financial tension can cause the strongest to feel overwhelmed.
How do we survive these unprecedented circumstances with our Families intact?
How do we keep intact the family and what family was created to be in the midst of our uncertainty?
Perhaps the following eight strategies can assist you in protecting the Family safety of your "shelter in place" in the midst of any pandemic.
8 SURVIVAL TIPS ON RELATIONAL STRATEGIES IN A PANDEMIC:
View Part 2 for Tips 5-8.
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Legacy Strategy, Inc. is a private counseling practice in Kennesaw, Georgia.