Manic Monday: Making Courageous Choices

“I’m not a control freak, I just want everyone to be happy. Oh, and like me. Yes, I definitely want people to like me.  Why? Because that’s the only way I can like myself.” — me

Oh yah, no control issues here. Eye rolling is allowed.

I may “waller in defeat” from time to time, as my friend Tonya would say, but I don’t stay there.

Nobody, I don’t care who they are, or how famous and together we might think they are, leads a charmed life.

Everyone has problems.

Everyone has choices.

That’s why I like the Full Circle link so much. Here’s a guy, who hit rock bottom 19 years ago doing a benefit ride for the very place he got sober. I think that’s cool. I think that takes courage.

What does courage look like to you?

  • Is it public speaking?
  • Skydiving?
  • Saying no when you really need to even if it means disappointing someone?
  • Or is it risking feeling selfish and realizing that the greatest gift we can give this world is to be the best us we can be?

One of my favorite devotional pages says :

March 26 in The Little Blue Book ONE DAY at a TIME in AL-ANON:

Why is it so hard to admit we are powerless over alcohol, as the First Step suggests we do? All of us have heard and shared in discussions at Al-Anon meetings as to whether this should be interpreted as “alcohol” or the “alcoholic.” We have no power over either one. No one can control the insidious effect of alcohol or its power to destroy the graces and decencies of life. No one can control the alcoholic’s compulsion to drink. But we do have a power, derived from God, and that is the power to change our own lives. Acceptance does not mean submission to a degrading situation. It means accepting the fact of a situation and then deciding what we will do about it.

TODAY’S REMINDER

Progress begins when we stop trying to control the uncontrollable and when we go on to correct what we have the right to change. If we accept a situation full of misery and uncertainty, it is no one’s fault but our own. We can do something about it!

“Fighting futility is just a waste of energy, Samantha. Either do something or quit fretting.” – Celebra Tueli

While this particular page refers to alcoholism and alcoholics it can be about so much more. It hurts watching people we love destroy their lives. What causes even greater pain is putting our lives on hold while we wait for everyone else to get it together.

It has taken me a long time to really believe that I am powerless over people, places, and things, meaning I cannot control people or make their choices for them. I cannot control how people see me, or whether or not they like me. Nor can I control the weather, or disease/disabilities. Shoot, I struggle with controlling myself, thinking I can control others is pure ego.

All I have is the power to make the best choices for me.

That’s really where courage begins. Finding the power to make the best choices for ourselves regardless of the choices our loved ones make. This includes our spouses, siblings, friends, and dare I say it adult children.

I’m a firm believer that the power to change can only come from believing in a God that’s bigger than me. For some of us, finding that God takes courage.

My wish today for you and for myself is that we stop right where we are at and know beyond knowing that we can make better choices today than the ones we made yesterday — and then go do it. 

Maybe for some of us, that choice is simply the acceptance of knowing the we are loved beyond measure  no matter what and acting on that belief.

What choices are you making today?

The More Things Change a Look Back at 2010

I ended 2009 with a see through blouse and 50 un-mailed Christmas cards. 2010 ended about the same way when I met the Osmonds. (Trust me when I say that a white bra and a black blouse do not make for a good photo-op.)  Some lessons need to be learned more than once I suppose.

One lesson that does not need to be relearned is the need for personal inventories. I try to use my prayer and journal time at night to inventory my day. I look for areas I did well as well as areas of my day where I fell short of the mark. As night closes I declare my day complete and rest in God’s forgiveness.

Our pastor even spoke on the need to take a personal inventory at the end of the year. Search my heart oh God and create a clean spirit within me.

Why do a personal inventory, you may ask. An inventory takes stock of where we are and where we need to go. It weighs the choices of our lives, and shows us the fill marks and gaps of our spirit. A personal inventory isn’t just an accounting of good vs bad, it’s a fuel gauge for tomorrow. An inventory shows us what we need to let go of, and what we need more of in the year to come. It lightens the load making traveling easier.

This is not the time to be frugal my friends. Last year’s emotional coat will not do for 2011. It’s outdated, it’s threadbare and ragged. It’s full of holes from fret, worry, and sin. It’s knees and elbows are blown clean out. We cannot travel the road ahead when we are being weighed down by the past. It isn’t even substantial enough to keep out winter’s chill.

No. We need to leave the rags of this year at the feet of Christ before we can wear the glorious robes he has for us in 2011. Robes of freedom, grace, forgiveness, and mercy. He trades in our tears and our hurts for  garments of praise and laughter – no matter how long it takes for them to arrive, we need to let go of our threadbare coats of yesterday.

According to my sight log, people are searching for How to Let Go, How to Say I’m Sorry, and What their Identity in Christ is. Those are my top posts every year. They were important to me, which is why I wrote them, but even more so I can see they are important to others as well. Inventories teach us how to let go, when to say I’m sorry and who we are in Christ. Inventories are good things.

As the year closes, I take a much larger personal inventory and again declare the year complete – clean slate, ready to start anew.  I personally use an inventory system that I learned in Al-Anon many years ago. We borrow this method of personal inventories from Alcoholics Anonymous. It’s by far and large the most thorough one I’ve ever found.

This system covers Four Main Topics:

  1. Resentments:  Click Here for Spreadsheet
  2. Fears: Click Here for Spreadsheet
  3. Sex   Click Here for Spreadsheet (for married’s this is a good place to look at whether or not you used sex as a weapon this year – I mean really, how many headaches can a woman get, you know? – or what about escaping through romance novels, flirtations, porn, day dreaming, or emotional affairs?)
  4. Harm to Others Click Here for Spreadsheet
  5. Food and Diet issues: This one does not have a spread sheet. I’m presently in a Bible study regarding food issues. Things I would include is frequency of exercise, diet pills, laxatives, bingeing, purging.. those sort of things. Everything I fell to this past summer.

This system may be a bit much for most people, and it is one that really should be worked through with a mentor. If you’d like more information on how to do this type of personal and fearless moral inventory please see http://www.step12.com/step-4.html.

I strongly suggest everyone do this kind of personal inventory at least once in their lives. It’s astounding.

I offered a different type of inventory last year, one I learned from Michael Hyatt.  This one is much lighter and is good as well. I’ll give you a light version of mine – I’ve left the more private details off.

If the last year were a movie of your life, what would the genre be? Drama, romance, adventure, comedy, tragedy, or a combination?

  • Combination

What were the two or three major themes that kept recurring? These can be single words or phrases. For me, they were:

2009

  • Giving my family wings
  • Learning to use my own wings
  • Learning to get along with less and enjoying it more

2010

  • Growing Roots – Having moved over 20 times in my life, I often feel rootless. This year I have been able to  connect with friends from back home in Redford. Having people in my life today, that I’ve known since sixth grade, is settling and freeing all at once. This is a new gift and I love it.
  • Trusting God More
  • Spiritual Growth

 What did you accomplish this past year that you are the most proud of? These can be in any area of your life—spiritual, relational, vocational physical, etc. Be as specific as possible.

2009

  • Going to the Professional Communicator’s Summit as well as DCW with my husband
  • Coming out of the fear closet if you will and admitting I want to do stand up comedy and trying not to worry what people think about that.
  • Performing live comedy in front of some of my greatest heroes at CCA. I was terrified, but did not die.
  • Opening for Dan McGowan
  • Resigning from the Ablaze Church Mission Board – — It was time to move on. Ablaze is now established as a satellite location of our home congregation Our Savior Lutheran Church. I’m very proud of what we accomplished. By next year they will be looking at opening a pre-school and calling a full time pastor. Knowing I played a part in God’s overall plan for that congregation thrills me and humbles me all at once. It was an awesome three years.

2010

  • I auditioned for my first major motion picture movie.
  • I met and connected with a legitimate local casting company
  • I interviewed agents (making a decision and hiring one in first quarter of 2011)

 What do you feel you should have been acknowledged for but weren’t?

Leaving this one blank here — but it’s a good question to ask and think about.

What disappointments or regrets did you experience this past year? As leaders, we naturally have high expectations of ourselves and others. Where did you let yourself down? Where did you let others down?

Deleted 2010 here as those issues were forgiven and let go of.

2010

  • Being sick on my back for six months and having a partial hysterectomy
  • Caving in to fear and abusing over the counter diet pills and laxatives
  • I didn’t perform live as often as I wanted because of illness.

What was missing from last year as you look back? Again, look at each major area of your life. Don’t focus now on having to do anything about it. For now, just list each item. Here is my list:

  • Spiritual connection. I felt dried up, even though I was studying high liturgy and other things of God, the connection with Christ just didn’t seem to be there. I spent most of 2011 in my head.

What were the major life-lessons you learned this past year? Boil this down to a few short, pithy statements. Interestingly, I’m leaving some of last year’s here as well.

  • A life without something to dream and pursue creates bitterness. It is better to pursue a dream and fall short than to hide your heart and fall asleep.
  • I can make a fool out of myself and actually live to tell about it. Meeting the Osmonds in a see through blouse on accident, did not rob me of the joy of having met them finally. I’ve learned to lighten up. NEAT!
  • People are in far more pain than I can ever imagine – especially if they are pastors. Grace for the road means a lot.
  • Love me for a reason – is more than just a signature song. It should be a way of life.

 And there you have it, my personal inventory for 2011. It doesn’t really matter which method you use, there are many available. All that matters is you at least try to do one and in the end, give it over and declare the year complete.

Have a blessed New Years my friends. See you in 2011

“This year is over. I declare it complete!”

 

Letting Go and Trusting God

People ask me about Letting Go a lot. I’m not sure why I get asked, but I did write a short  piece on it a while back and that does prompt questions. (http://deanaohara.com/2009/07/11/letting-go-let-go-and-let-god/)  forgive me for the lack of appropriate hotlinking, wordpress seems to be fritzing on me tonight.

I will share that that one piece gets more hits than all of my other stories combined. I guess letting go is a big topic for people today. What I know today will change tomorrow. Life has a way of doing that. Letting go means a lot of thing – to me the phrase Let Go and Let God is reflected beautifully not only in Proverbs 3,5-6 but also in the serenity prayer — posted here in it’s entirety. My favorite line? “Taking as He did, this sinful workd as it is and not as I would have it; TRUSTING that he will make all things right if I surrender to his will.”

Allison Bottke (God Allows U-Turns and Setting Boundaries at http://www.allisonbottke.com/ ) wrote this in her blog today ” And I thank God for the ever-increasing knowledge that if we obey God’s calling, He will provide the needed strength.”

There is more truth in that statement than there are hairs on my head – and if you know me you know that I have hair bigger than the state of Texas so that is saying a lot.

 

The Serenity Prayer

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.
Amen

Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will direct your paths
Proverbs 3, 5-6