Letting Go of Expectations


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Far back, as long ago as I can remember, I believed perfection was the key.

I remember spilling a bottle of milk on the kitchen floor as I attempted to “help” my mom with the groceries. As a devastated three-year-old, an expectation formed in my soul and proved itself over and over in my life that if I could do everything right, say the right things, act in a certain way, all the wrongs in my life would be miraculously fixed.

No more bad stuff. If I could just get it right.

So my disappointments ran pretty high. Since no one is perfect, and I certainly wasn’t, my sense of achievement topped the charts too. Driving myself to accomplish more each day, and in a more perfect way, a failure to measure up left me spiraling down into a depressed state.

But not for long.

Because that wasn’t allowed in my perfect world. Especially as a Christian. Someone who believed in God, shouldn’t feel fear, anger, frustration, sorrow or exhaustion. Right? Only joy and gladness were granted space in my mental box of “rightness.”

My false beliefs bled into other areas of life.

I not only expected myself to get things right, but couldn’t understand why other people messed up too. Eventually, I learned to have grace for them, but not for myself. And if others did things wrong that affected me? Well, that was unacceptable.

Recently, I’ve seen myself from a better viewpoint – God’s.

He’s been showing me the places I expect so much from myself and reassuring me that he loves me for me, not for what I can do right or better or even at all. He’s been helping me rest in his perfection so I can let go of mine.

I’ve had a few opportunities to practice.

Relationships are great for that. Whether it’s family, friends or work situations, God gives us places to work out what he’s freeing in our hearts. I love that he is so kind and caring to point out our “stuff” and lead us into new ways of coping.

He’s teaching me to let go.

In his loving kindness, God’s gently told me that I wasn’t hurt in my past because I did something wrong or didn’t do something right. He’s said that I can’t fix my past by controlling my present or future. I can’t keep bad things from happening by making everything right or perfect.

Instead, I’m learning to expect from Him, not me.

Jesus is perfect. He loves me. He promises that because I’ve believed in him and accepted his dying for me, his righteousness covers me. In everything. Past, present and future. No matter what I do or don’t do right, I’m still covered, loved and delighted in.

That’s good news.

And it frees me to be me. The good stuff, the flaws, the sorrow and joy mingling together. I can rest in that place of freedom. I can choose to rest there. Every day there are places of choice.

You can choose too.

“It is for freedom that Christ sets us free.”  Galatians 5:1

 

What Are You Afraid Of?


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The scene above may be humorous, but fear is nothing to joke about.

God wired us with a healthy sense of fear to protect us from danger. But when fear dictates our lives, we can become trapped in patterns that destroy us.

Here are a few things I’ve been learning about fear lately:

  • Fear steals our identity
  • Fear makes us question our God given attributes and desires
  • Fear leads us to question another person’s motives
  • Fear causes us to judge others
  • Fear makes us assign conclusions about people or situations that aren’t accurate
  • Fear causes us to assume we know what someone’s intentions towards us are
  • Fear says lying will protect us – it keeps us from speaking the truth
  • Fear leads us to read God’s word inaccurately
  • Fear causes conflict within us
  • Fear keeps us from seeing another person’s pain
  • Fear of losing something makes us compete with others
  • Fear makes us cling to only one way of thinking
  • Fear causes us to lash out if someone has another opinion or perspective than us
  • Fear paralyzes us
  • Fear leads us to close ourselves off from others
  • Fear keeps us ineffective in our lives
  • Fear prevents us from being fully engaged in life

Maybe that’s why God tells us not to be afraid; that he didn’t give us a spirit of fear.

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear…” 1 John 4:18

God is love and he loves us. We don’t NEED to be afraid when we believe he loves us and will take care of us. He knows all and has everything under control. So if we surrender to him, we can rest there and live in freedom.

I’ve been asking God to tell me what I’m afraid of. If we ask, he’ll tell us. And he’ll tell us what to do about it. I’m learning a lot about myself and the places I’ve been trapped.

He’ll also reassure us that he’s right there. Like a kid jumping into a pool into his daddy’s waiting arms. That’s us with God.

That’s a good place to be.

Are You in Chains?


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Photo by Markus Spiske freeforcommercialuse.net on Pexels.com

“I will break the yoke of bondage from your neck and tear off the chains…”                                    Nahum 1:13

Say what?

This verse from the old testament prophet spoke of the ancient oppression of the Assyrians. The Lord promised his people that their freedom would come from his hand. So what does that have to do with us today?

We can be chained by pain from our past. Wounds caused by the actions of others whom we still haven’t forgiven or poor choices we made and their consequences, but often our bondage comes in the form of patterns we’ve developed to cope with daily life.

I love what author, Mary DeMuth, wrote in her devotional Jesus Every Day. Her words grabbed me with their simple truth.

“…the chains and yokes have become terribly familiar to me, like companions I nurture instead of anomalies I should shun. They are my normal. And so without even knowing it, I walk around shackled, and I can’t even see where they’re cutting my soul anymore.”

We all have those places that we don’t even recognize.

They can cause us to:

  • Get stuck in unhealthy ways of relating
  • Excuse our destructive behaviors
  • React unreasonably to the words or actions of others
  • Over react in common situations
  • Become isolated or suspicious of others
  • Feel haunted by our past

God wants to free us.

He uses his word, his presence and other people to do so. Connecting with a trusted, wise leader or good friend who will speak truth to us even if it hurts can reveal those hidden places of bondage and start us on a road to freedom.

Unfortunately, that can be scary.

We don’t like to be nudged outside our comfort zone. And as Mary writes in her “Chains” devotion Day 179, we like what has become normal for us because it’s how we navigate our lives.

“It’s like a comfortable blanket.”

The thing is, we might think those chained areas are secure, but they keep us from the abundant life God has for us. They keep us from good, healthy relationships with people who love us. They rob us by making our world very, very small.

So, I’m asking God to reveal those places to me that need to be freed up and changed. I’m trusting God can and will do it.

Will you join me?

 

 

Can You Admit the Truth?


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This weekend’s service at my church began a new series titled Life, Money, Hope: God’s Way Works. I’m excited about this series because I’ve found that the Bible really does have the answers to every situation in our lives.

God knew what we would need to navigate life.

He didn’t randomly throw things together and then wonder how to make it all function. From the beginning to the end, intentionality marks the history of creation. All we have to do is be willing to ask God what to do in a situation, and he will point us to his word (the Bible) with the answers.

One of our pastors, Kyle Jackson, who taught us this weekend, gave us some clues about our financial lives and the hopelessness most of us feel or have gone through in the area of money. He offered four reasons we can get off track, and then showed us where God’s word gives us great instruction for living in peace and abundance.

So, how do we move forward in life?

The first, and I believe most important, point he made which aims not only at our finances but every area of life is that we need to…

“Admit the reality of where we really are.”

The Bible tells us that the truth will set us free, but often we hide from the truth because we’re ashamed, guilty, embarrassed or confused. I know there were times in my life when I didn’t want to face the truth because it meant I would have to deal with unpleasant or downright hard situations that may cause pain to me and/or someone else.

Pastor Kyle reminded us that pride is what keeps us acting like things are good when they’re not. But when we are honest and admit the truth about our mistakes, we get a second (or third +) chance to do something different for a different result.

Isn’t that what we want in all of our life?

If you want to take your life forward into hope, healing and redemption, I recommend this new series. Here’s the link for this weekend at Next Level Church where many of us are moving ahead in our lives. I invite you to come join us online or in person if you are in our area.

What is an area you’ve admitted the truth and found it freed you? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below or in a email laurabennet14@gmail.com

 

Nearly 20 Years Later…


Just Right
A rainy day and a backyard tree lead a little girl to discover that God made things exactly as they should be.

Sometimes moving our life forward means taking care of the past.

It all started with a silly poem I made up for my daughter, Ashley, when she was little. The poem traveled around with me, visited various illustrator possibilities and spent months pinned up on my double, sliding closet door.

In between, the being-refined poem and stack of illustrations resided in an unidentified large envelope in various drawers and cupboards making it’s way out for a few weeks or months at a time when determination overcame insecurity and fear.

I’d work on it until overwhelm set in and set up roadblocks, then I’d pack it away again in frustration. Maybe, eventually, I’d settle all the issues keeping it from moving all the way to completion.

Life’s like that sometimes, isn’t it?

We decide we want more. Something creative, better, whole or workable, but issues stand in our way. In a moment of bravery, we face the challenges and determine to set things right. Maybe we make a little progress, but get derailed by the difficulty, pain or inability to handle the questions.

Perhaps it’s a relationship that needs restoring or an addiction we want to be rid of. Or a habit that’s dug itself into our life against our will, and we desperately want it broken. Whatever it is, it can never be too late or take too long to finish.

I finished, and so can you.

The message of this little poem book is that God made things exactly right. Everything he created is the way it should be, and even though we mess things up or people mess things up for us, at the end of the day, we can rest in knowing that God is the one holding everything.

The Bible tells us that God who began a good work in us, will carry it on to completion. (Phil. 1:6) He won’t leave us hanging.

And he can make things “just right” again.

So, finally, Just Right in digital format is complete and available for FREE, but tomorrow is the last day.

But wait, that’s not all.

(LOL. I simply had to say it.) You can now also order the print copy of this rainy day, bedtime story book too!

AND if you order using this link, and send me (laurabennet14@gmail.com) some proof (copy of your receipt, an email saying you ordered, or a note on a carrier pigeon – okay, so that last one was just to see if you were paying attention, I will send you 2 freebies – my new booklet How Reading Grows Great Kids AND the Book Navigator (study/activity guide) for the book Five Children and It (book not included).

What a deal!

But the best deal of the day, is the chance you have right now to tackle something you want finished and know that God will help you get through it in his best timing. Even if it takes twenty years.

I’d love to know what you’ve completed or would like to complete that’s taken you way longer than you thought or hoped it would. Tell me your story in the comments below!

 

 

What Triggers You?


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No, I’m not talking about guns.

(But fun picture, isn’t it?)

Milan and Kay Yerkovich define a trigger as

…a strong reactive feeling about something that is happening in the present, a feeling turbocharged by a hurt in the past.”

Ever have one of those?

Yeah, I thought so.

It took me years to understand that when my reactions to situations or people were far greater or stronger than the setting warranted, it meant that some hurt or trauma from my past was amplifying my current emotions. I did learn to recognize the pattern, and it has helped me navigate my life better. But today, I discovered through reading How We Love, that ANYTHING can be a trigger.

Anything?

Apparently, and it makes sense why communication in relationships can spiral out of control so quickly and easily. If the tone of someone’s voice, or their opinion, attitude or behavior can trigger an unexpected, agitating reaction in me, then I can become defensive or angry at the other person whether they said or did something good or bad in that moment.

Even my sincere, valid emotions can trigger another person.

Wow. I had no idea.

Perhaps because of what that person has suffered and not fully dealt with in the past, my comment or start of a conversation that to me is neutral, or my sharing a feeling about something that occurred during the day or my tone of voice because of that situation can cause the other person to react negatively.

I probably wonder why they are reacting and may take it personally. After all, if I don’t know what is happening for them, and don’t know to ask, it seems reasonable that their response is directly related to me.

So I respond in a defensive manner.

They do likewise. I react back. See how that happens? We’ve now set a pattern of communication which is not desired, nor intended, but spins out of control leaving both parties shaking their heads in confusion, hurt and disbelief.

Crazy, huh?

Well, the good news is if we are aware of triggers in ourselves and others, we can deal with our past and have grace for the other person’s stuff. Maybe we can even help each other by using the following practical tools to build rather than destroy our relationship.

  1. Take a deep breath.
  2. Settle yourself. Take a brief time out if necessary.
  3. Ask yourself three things:

When have I felt this way in the past? Who was I with? What soul words describe my reaction? What would I like to say to that person (in the past)?

See, that wasn’t too hard, was it?

Okay, so it’s not always easy, and it can be painful. But the benefits to removing triggers by dealing with these issues is two-fold. We become healed and stronger, and we develop healthier relationships.

But there’s also a third benefit.

If we share those feelings with our spouse, and willingly listen to them share with us, we’ll build trust and a stronger, more intimate bond with them.

That’s a win-win.

I credit the Yerkovich’s with all these insights. I’ve been sharing what I’m learning from their book, How We Love. The great thing is that our church has been presenting a series on marriage called, A Love that Lasts. Our pastor’s teaching lines up with this as well.

I don’t believe that is coincidental.

As our pastor, Matt Keller, has shared (and I agree) we have an enemy who is out to destroy every marriage. Marriage is the foundation of community. There is a power in family that can’t be denied. That’s because the union between a man and woman was created by God as a picture of his relationship through Jesus Christ with his bride, the church.

Satan hates us and anything that displays God’s love for us.

So if you thought even for a moment that the enemy I mentioned in the earlier paragraph is your spouse, think again. Our enemy is Satan. But oh, how he’ll use each of us to hurt the other one if we let him.

But our spouse isn’t the enemy.

I for one am going to work hard to remember that, to deal with the triggers in my life and be open to the probability that triggers cause grief for my spouse as well. And other people with whom I interact.

Maybe that’s why God has grace for us, and asks us to love others the same way.

I’ve linked a number of resources in this post. I’d love to know in the comments below if you find any of them helpful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Are You Angry?


IMG_4658Anger is a secondary emotion.

That what the workbook I use to lead women through a study on relationships says. The truth of that statement recently catapulted me into a season of discovering the source of my anger.

And that what feels like anger isn’t always…well, anger.

The inexplicable rage that builds like a volcano preparing to erupt feels like anger. Looks like anger when I give full vent to it with slamming, flinging or throwing (which only a fool does according to the Bible – good job, Laura). Sounds like anger to my spouse and children…

But surprisingly, is actually not anger.

Well, it is in part. The past part. The little kid who got hurt instead of protected, ignored instead of forgiven or lashed at without warning. That little kid’s feelings of fear, confusion, being unloved or unimportant turned to anger.

Anger at self – nothing is your parent’s fault when you’re a kid. Or anger at the person hurting you but stuffed away – since nothing can possibly be your parent’s fault when you’re the kid. Anger becomes a defense.

Stop hurting me!

Rebellion, tantrums and angry outbursts are often a sign of fear, anger, confusion or other emotions when a child’s world isn’t right.

During my current season of delving into my emotions and learning what it means to control them well (not stuff, ignore or minimize), I jotted down a list of feelings I experienced in regard to a recent event. (I had the help of a list to look at. You can find the list of “Soul Words” at www.howwelove.com)

Initially, anger surged through me.

I wanted to react in anger. Instead, I took a deep breath. (Remember that count to 10 thing? Not a bad idea.) I managed to keep self-control, speak calmly and cry later, asking God what I was really feeling. Here are the emotions I listed that described how I felt:

betrayed, worried, unloved, shocked, hated, injured, beaten down, tired, unwanted, cut off, crushed, grieved, heavy, bewildered, misunderstood, let down, distrustful, unimportant and disregarded

Notice anything?

Yep. Not ONE word of anger. But truly, each of these words really described my feelings. When I read through the list of words describing anger, none of them resounded with me. Go figure.

Fascinating.

This opened up new insight about myself, my emotions and the way I respond to situations. If I allow anger to be the go-to reaction, I miss out on understanding my true feelings and communicating them to others.

Not helpful.

Not only that, but when I don’t deal with the actual feelings, anger spins around like a tornado in my heart and mind. When I try to squelch it because I don’t want it’s destruction, I end up feeling depressed and aimless. (An indication something deeper is going on.)

In addition, my outbursts of frustration hurt those I love, making them defensive. And how can they respond well to me if I am “always angry” at them? Instead, if I share accurate emotions, I invite understanding and intimacy.

Maybe even compassion.

So, here are some practical steps I’m learning to implement to get a handle on anger:

  1. Every time I feel “anger”, ask myself what I am REALLY feeling.
  2. Share those feelings in a journal, with a trusted friend and/or with God. I do all three in the reverse order: God, journal, friend.
  3. Ask myself when I felt those same or similar feelings as a child – usually where it started, but now is being triggered by a similar interaction or experience.
  4. Grieve over the past situation. Cry, pray, journal. Let myself feel.
  5. Forgive anyone that caused past hurts. Looking at the past isn’t to blame, it is for us to acknowledge so we can grieve, forgive and move forward in life.
  6. If I displayed anger in an inappropriate way to someone, I need to apologize and ask for their forgiveness. (God’s too.)
  7. Share with the person involved my true feelings. If necessary, do this with a third party like a counselor or pastor. Sometimes defenses created by our previous anger may require additional outside help to work through and heal.
  8. Move forward. Let go of the situation.
  9. Repeat as needed. Years of these patterns aren’t changed in one time.
  10. Have grace for myself as I establish new patterns.

The Bible says that we can be transformed by the renewing of our mind. (Romans 12:2) As we analyze the way we’ve thought and the emotions established due to past pain, we can be changed and healed. Not simply by “trying harder” not to get mad, but by examining our true feelings and submitting them to our loving heavenly Father.

Here’s to the journey ahead!

I’d love to partner with you in prayer as you address your anger. Please let me know how I can pray in the comments below.

 

 

 

Feel Like Your Life is in the Gutter?


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Ever question the choices you make?

Do you wonder why you act the way you do? Or react in certain ways? Do you find yourself in the middle of a road rage moment, a fight with your spouse or yelling at your best friend and question how you got there?

Like, what just happened?

I’m discovering that most of us have. And while it’s bewildering to experience those situations, it’s even more surprising to learn what causes them. Not just that we’re sinful creatures or lacking self-control, although those certainly explain a lot.

The underlying secret is imprints.

So, what’s an imprint you say? I’m glad you asked. An imprint is an impression or a groove in your soul created by prolonged or traumatic experiences in childhood. Especially during those “formative” years.

Imagine pushing your hand into wet cement.

After it dries, the cement hardens with your hand print forever imprinted in it. Or think about cars (or wagons in the old days) driving through mud on the the same road. Eventually the traffic forms a rut.

Our impressionable young lives take on imprints.

All parents do the best they can with what they have. Some do better or worse than others. But let’s say you had a parent who showed great affection and enthusiasm only when you did well in sports or brought home good grades. You subconsciously become a performer for love and attention.

Or suppose you suffered some kind of abuse, lost a parent or sibling, survived cancer or saw your father beat your mother. Perhaps your parents were addicted to drugs, sex or alcohol. To survive trauma and constantly stressful situations, children adapt the way they relate to compensate for something they can’t handle.

Imprints.

The rough part is that if we don’t know this (few people do) and never deal with whatever issues caused these impressions on us, we will act and react in the same unhealthy ways as adults without even being aware of it. And we’ll hurt ourselves and others including our children in the process.

This is why I’m so thankful for  a book I mentioned a few months ago called How We Love: Discover Your Love Style, Enhance Your Marriage by Milan & Kay Yerkovich. They set out to figure out why, when they both loved each other, they couldn’t seem to make their marriage work.

But this book isn’t only for married couples.

Everyone can benefit. I read a lot of various books, but no book has helped me like this one in dealing with the bottom line issues of my soul. (Okay, besides the Bible.) I’ve been to counseling over the years. I talk a lot about my feelings and questions, and I thought I’d figured most of it out.

Now I understand the depth of the even the little things.

Why I react the way I do in certain situations. How I think about other people and why. The way I use anger as a defense, and an explanation for why I can suddenly explode in rage at times when I’m a generally optimistic, happy person. Why I’m afraid to speak truthfully to some people, and why saying “no” used to be so difficult.

I can’t tell you all of it here.

Go to www.howwelove.com and take the quiz. Find out your “love style.” Order the book on their website. Read it alone, with a spouse, a friend or in a group and work through the workbook in the back. Take your time. Cry, pray and keep pressing through it. God will use it to reveal your pain and bring you healing and freedom.

You will not be sorry.

Disclaimer: I did not receive anything for this. I don’t get paid anything for promoting or if you buy the book. The authors have never heard of me. These opinions are based on my own gratitude and excitement. I wish I could offer a money back guarantee.

What’s your style…if you feel courageous enough to share?

 

Why Getting Help is So Important


DSC_0024I wish everyone would stop hiding and seek help for their issues.

There. I’ve said it.

I’m not as hardhearted as that may sound. It’s voiced from a place of compassionate frustration because I know the freedom available. I’m living it. The women in the small groups I lead experience it. My heart breaks in pain to watch people continue to struggle because of denial, minimizing and fear.

I get it.

It’s painful and scary and hard work. I’ve been there. It feels like you’re going to fall apart and lose yourself. There’s a gap between the broken place you are at and the healed place you’re going to so it takes a leap of faith to let go of one to grab the other, and that leap feels as if you will plummet to your emotional death.

BUT if we can take one little step at a time, like Indiana Jones walking over the precipice with invisible steps (you know the scene I’m talking about?), God will put a step right out in front of us to keep going. A lamp to our feet and light to our path deal.

A blogger friend, Sarah, who I met a few years ago has struggled big time with some debilitating issues in her life. But I’m so happy to offer a post of hers (with permission of course) here today from her new blog. One that is dedicated to helping others learn to care for themselves.

Because she has taken leaps of faith to persevere and allow God to heal, grow and deliver her, she is now able to share what she’s learned. I’m so proud of her.

She addresses this situation very well in the following post:

REAL TALK

Alright, I’m just going to dive right in with the blunt honesty part.  Here we go.

You can’t help yourself unless you accept that you need help.

It’s that simple.

If you aren’t able to acknowledge that something needs addressing then you can forget about making any progress in that area.  Ignoring a problem won’t make it go away, and usually, it only perpetuates the situation.  There’s nothing weak about admitting you need help.  And there’s nothing out there saying that if you do need help with something that you need to broadcast it to the whole world. But that being said, it’s so integral to talk someone about what you’re going through, be it a counselor, friend or family member.

People need people.

There is absolutely no reason to be going through anything alone. I have discovered that the more I talk about my story, and my struggles with depression and anxiety and a host of other things, that I connect with people more. Chances are, whoever you’re sharing with can relate to you in one way or another. I live for the “me too!’s”. The more you share and choose to be vulnerable with others, the more courage it gives others to share and be vulnerable too. And suddenly the work you’re doing on yourself transcends you and sets off a wave of healing that engulfs those around you. How’s that for motivation? Sharing your story openly could be what it takes to give someone else that final push to seek help for whatever is going on in their life that they never felt they could talk about before.

I can’t stress it enough how much my friends and community have helped me with my mental health and processing trauma. If I didn’t have them I don’t know if I’d be here right now, to be honest. I’ll probably write an entire post on my community later, they are phenomenal.

There is no shame in acknowledging something is off or not working for you in your life and saying it out loud.  Start with admitting it to yourself.  When you’re ready, talk to a close person you trust like a friend or counselor, and if you think you need a psychiatrist then ask your family doctor to refer you to one.  It can’t hurt, and in Canada it’s free.

If you are waiting for permission to put your mental health first and foremost above everything else, then wait no longer, here it is:

PERMISSION!

It’s your responsibility to take care of your mental health.
There’s nothing selfish about it and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.
And you’re worth it.  You deserve to be healthy.

Remember that.

You are not alone!

Catch more of Sarah’s blog here : Sarah’s Guide to Self Care

And if you haven’t seen or don’t remember Indy. Here you go:

Facing Our Pain


068I’ll come straight to the point.

I’ve come to recognize other women like myself who have tried to protect themselves by denying the truth of trauma, abuse or sexual addiction in their lives or their spouses’ lives. But the protection we think we create actually prolongs our pain and hurts those we love as well. Yes, it is painful to deal with our experiences, both present and past, but the cost down the road is much greater if we don’t.

I wish I could shout it.

Look at the fruit of our denial in our children.  I understand the despair, but we can’t be afraid to look at the truth. When we struggle, lost in a hurting, hopeless world, our children also take on our pain. Even if we aren’t aware or think we will keep them from it.

I know. I’ve been there.

I put my kids through hell because I allowed myself to be blind to the abuse in which we were living. I am to blame for my choices that put us there and kept us trapped. Even years later, my heart aches for them. I failed miserably to give them a solid foundation of what healthy relationships look like. They went into their adulthood with tremendous pain and anger behind them and little training of how to navigate a future marriage.

I’ve watched them live my broken life in many ways.

I never intended for my kids to take that kind of past into their future. The pain inflicted upon them was far greater than I imagined. I didn’t realize how badly they were hurt because of the trauma of their parents’ lives.

But I was more afraid of facing my past pain…

…more afraid of being divorced than of an abusive marriage…

…more afraid of what people thought than what my children needed…

…more afraid of my shame than if my family functioned well…

We can’t even count the price for those choices, and the longer it goes on, the higher the cost, as if interest is added.

But there’s good news.

Surrender and repentance changes everything.

God waits for us to surrender to him so he can uncover our festering wounds, bind them with his loving touch, and lead us into a place of healing and wholeness.

We must be willing to open our eyes to the truth, repent of bad choices and turn around into a new way of thinking and living.

God promises us that when we come to him in broken repentance and surrender, he doesn’t condemn or shame us. His love for us, exhibited through Jesus’s death on the cross and resurrection, covers us, soothes our soul and protects us with true safety.

However, doing so requires a difficult choice for us.

We must let go of our pride, fear and self-reliance. We must step out in faith with even a tiny step, believing that God will meet us as he promises. We must allow ourselves to experience the pain of our past and present, grieve the losses and move into our future.

But the exchange for us and our families is worth it.

I think of it like this:

When one of my children was very young, they couldn’t grasp the concept of exchanging their pennies for a coin of equal value. Five pennies seemed much better to them than a nickel, two nickels trumped a dime and no way would they give up any combination of coins for a quarter!

Our perception of what we are giving up is skewed by our limited understanding.

And God gives us even more than an equal share! He offers us a massive sundae dripping with fudge and topped with whipped cream, nuts and a cherry if we will hand over our McDonald’s soft serve cone.

There’s really no comparison, is there?

Be brave. Take action. Step into your future and shed your past.

Make a way for generations after you to be healthier, happier and living a hot fudge sundae life.