We can learn to be intentional even when our emotions are in an uproar. Discomfort often gives us permission to say YES to distraction. Instead of relieving our symptoms, wasting time adds to our angst. And, there is great hope.
We can learn to be intentional even when we're not feeling it.
Like just a few hours ago. I wasn't feeling like reaching out and contacting several people even though the project has been on my to-do list for more than a few days now. If I'm brutally honest, I'm afraid of rejection.
I don't want to be turned down after I've faced my fears and found the courage to reach out. So, I decided to vacuum our entire apartment instead!
Doug admits he gets stuck in this discomfort-distraction cycle, too. Instead of filing for insurance reimbursements he'll do 3 loads of laundry, clean 2 bathrooms, and cook 1 amazing dinner!
When he's honest, he'll admit he defaults to doing the stuff he knows how to do--and do well. Doing something new and complicated runs the risk of struggle. Failure stands too close and whispers things like, "Loser."
So, we sit at the dinner table together--enjoying a great meal and very proud of all we've accomplished--but still struggling because the most important stuff we needed to do got ignored...again.
So, maybe I'm writing this list for myself and realizing someone else out there might need it, too.
If you're lost in the discomfort-distraction cycle, these 5 steps offer you a roadmap back to the land of intentionality. Even, and especially when you're not feeling it.
Recognize the discomfort-distraction cycle. Admit you're vacuuming instead of sending a few awkward emails. Admit you're scrolling through stuff on your phone instead of folding the laundry. Raise your hand if you're at Target instead of the gym. Yeah. Me, too.
Unplug the shame. This is the first step. You're not at a dead-end; this is a fresh start.
Find the source of the discomfort. Be honest. These 3 questions can help.
What am I afraid of?
What story am I telling myself?
What am I believing to be true?
I'm afraid of rejection if I send the emails. Sometimes, I'm afraid of being ignored.
Regarding laundry, I believe this to be true: If you don't do laundry naked, you're behind!
About the gym, I think I'm not as good as all the people who are already fit. Or, I believe I'll never get fit..so, why try?
Recognize the lies swarming around the discomfort. When I look at my answers to the questions in step #2, each one is a lie about what struggle and discomfort declare about my identity.
Lie #1 - If I don't get the response I want, I'm not worthy. I'm forgotten. I'm a loser.
Lie #2 - If I'm behind, I'm no good.
Lie #3 - I'm not as good as everyone else. I'll never be.
Make a clear diagnosis of the real source of the pain. The wound is deep. That's why it uncomfortable. This kind of pain comes from an identity wound.
We all struggle to trust who God says we are--especially when we experience circumstances that tempt us to believe we're unworthy or forgotten or behind.
We think we're crazy. Or we think everyone else is crazy.
It happens to our children when they keep putting off doing their homework...or their chores. "I'll never get this right." "No one else has to do chores. My family drives me crazy!"
God doesn't say anyone is unworthy or forgotten or behind.
God doesn't say anyone is crazy.
Don't let fear boss you around. Fear is a liar.
Sort lies from truth and declare the truth.
Truth #1 - If I don't get the response I want, it says nothing about my identity. I'm treasured. I'm cared for. I belong.
Truth #2 - Standards are for tasks, not people. I may have a lot to learn, but I'm not behind. God says I'm right on time.
Truth #3 - Struggle is real and happens to everyone. Struggle doesn't define me now or design my future. God is writing my story.
Here's some good news:
Behavior is the echo of belief.
When I trust what God believes about me, the truth gives me the strength to lean in and learn. Love invites me to risk doing new things. Failure doesn't define me; God does.
The more I trust the truth, the more I notice I don't mind doing hard things like I used to. Yeah, the discomfort is still there, but the discomfort-distraction cycle is broken because I don't believe the lies I did before.
Most of us have built a lifestyle in a culture of fear.
Our anxiety-ridden lifestyle is taking a toll on our own lives and on our relationships.
We're surviving in a functional life. We're addicted to the distractions that grab our attention when we're uncomfortable and that keep us lonely, disconnected, and distracted.
Distracted is the place the cycle starts and then begins again.
Fear doesn't tell us that distractions will never heal the places of our hurting.
Fear never tells us that security is a gift of love.
God is love. Love tells us the truth.
Love heals our hurts instead of simply distracting us from our discomfort. Love offers us a lifestyle of thriving, not simply surviving.
I followed the 5 steps in this roadmap back to the land of intentionality to write this blog post. Writers often struggle with distraction and the lies that swarm around the risk of putting ourselves in the arena and hearing our own voice.
Fear has kept me silent for a long time.
Love is helping me find my voice. Love will help you find your voice, too.
And that thing you're avoiding...
Ask Love to speak to you about the lies and the truth. Trust love. Declare the truth. Lean in and learn to struggle well.
Welcome home. Enjoy your new lifestyle of love.