My Strange Addiction

This is not a topic I relish discussing.  There are just some things I don’t necessarily want to dredge up publicly, but I also long to find that common thread — that chord that will resonate between us.  We are, after all, all in this thing together.  And it’s possible that someone else wrestles in their mind and spirit in the same way I do.  I keep waiting to grow up ’cause I’m pretty sure once I do, it will be such a relief to have matured past all of this stuff, but here I am.  Waiting.

Guys, I have this ugly girl who lives in my head and tries to whisper ugly words to me all day.  Before you think I need to be evaluated, I will explain.  Negative self-talk.  Ugly words that tell me that I’m no good.  Ugly words that try to leak out about other people — even people I love.  Just plain ugly thoughts.  My fascination with learning about how our minds work that I acquired from my alma mater, Google University, tells me some of how I acquired this from my childhood.  I like having the explanation, but that does nothing to fix it.  And frankly, I hate the excuse.  Everyone has hurts.  Every single one of us had folks shape us negatively.  At some point, we need to do something about it to head toward healing and not just live in that place of pain.

Okay, I’m going to back up a few steps to tell you how I got here and then I’m going to challenge you in a way that I’m not sure any of us can handle so hang in there with me.

My last post was about losing our dog, Lily.  To sum it up, she was a severe allergy dog who lived with a green cone on her head, a sweatshirt, and even sometimes an ace bandage wrapped around any other bare skin to prevent her from scratching it open.  These things weren’t put on her all at once.  One by one, we tried medicines, lotions, treatments, and then we found the best balance of all of these and then had to try to control her little mind and scratching feet.  At some point, she became addicted to scratching.  She couldn’t even resist.  So, we added a cone.  And then a shirt.  And then the bandage when we couldn’t supervise her.  It took a couple visitors stopping by to stare at our dog in pity for us to see through a different lens that our dog was suffering.  It had become normal to us.  A 24 hour watch on a miserable dog buried in fabric and plastic and medication became normal to us.  We needed to do something — even if it absolutely broke our hearts.

However it happened to me, I recently realized I wear my own cone of shame.

I found a bin of pictures in my garage that had never been unpacked from our move.  Amazingly, it was a treasure trove of family history items that I had been given that were brand new to me.  I found a box of newspaper clippings clipped by my grandfather, and pictures of his mother and brothers.  I found pictures of my parents from their youth.  They felt like windows to the past.  As I looked at pictures of my mother, I realized there were two of about a thousand in which she looked genuinely happy.  As I looked at pictures of myself I said awful things.  Most of what I said was ugly and in my own head.  A couple things I let slip out of my mouth in front of my children.  They were appalled.  And I hadn’t even said things that were that ugly on my Nasty Scale.  My son and daughters told me they never wanted to hear those things come out of my mouth again.  They said to be nice to their momma.  Whoops!

I don’t want to be that.  I don’t want to sound like that.  I didn’t allow myself to do that when they were little — I was more aware of my example.  Something about grown kids can sometimes let one let their guard down and forget we are still parenting and have responsibility.

I have a most beautiful friend who teaches me much.  I think she has grown up, and I don’t mean the couple decades she has on me.  She is what I want to be like.  She is real and she shares her heart struggles with me.  We share a similar background so she gets me.  She also challenges me to be better because she is constantly turning her heart over to her God and willing to let Him mold her.  It is a thing of beauty to me.  And such an example.  In one of our lovely phone conversations, she told me how she has allowed Him to help her throw off negativity that she said had snowballed.  She has replaced it with reveling in all the good things, and guess what?  She said that has snowballed in her! She reminded me to  continue to be thankful always — to meditate on truth and His goodness.  She encouraged me to let Him change out the old tapes that play lies in my head for new tapes of love from my heavenly Daddy.

It was like looking in a mirror and seeing a green cone on my head that I had attached and allowed to become my normal — definitely not my prettiest look, but apparently one I just forgot to notice after awhile.  When I saw it, it kinda felt like that moment in the shoe store when you see the new shoes against your old ones and cannot believe you walked around like that in public.  Or when you have guests coming and all of a sudden you see filth in your house that makes you feel like an episode of Hoarders.

This *strange addiction* of mine has to stop.

Once upon a time, I issued a challenge to you, my readers.  Over several months, I found a way to stop complaining for 30 days.  It took me way too long to break that pattern of my mouth and heart.

Today, I begin again with a bit of a spin.  I am putting on a bracelet.  I am going to fill my mind and heart with remembering truth and meditating on His love for me.  I will not complain.  I will not be negative about myself or anything else.  When it leaks out and I fail, I will change my bracelet to my opposite arm.  My goal is to keep my bracelet consistently on one arm for 30 days.

Friends, I want to reflect love.  I want to take my green cone off and break some rotten and self-destructive habits.  I want to be an example to my family, to my grandkids.  I want to just shine.  Maybe that’s how I will finally become a grown-up.  :o)

Will you join me?  Will you consider becoming aware of how we sound?  Will you take a look in the mirror with me and see if you see a cone of shame?

I want my collection of pictures that my great-great grandkids find in a bin in their garage to reflect JOY!  I want them to marvel at how this woman named Alison lived her life fully despite whatever her story may have been.

If you’re in.  Say so.  Comment here.  Please, help me share this idea and let’s be women (and men) who throw off our shame and step forward into victory.  Tell me the promises and truths to which you will hold tightly as you wear your bracelet.  Let’s join hands and do this together. Show me your bracelets!

hands

And oh, as you run, what hindered love will only become part of your story. (click for song)

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to You, my Strength and my Redeemer.” Psalm 19:14

Graham Cooke article — “There is a reason why the Father tells us to take our thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). Because every action has a starting place. Every strong emotion has a beginning.  All transformation originates in renewed thinking (Romans 12:2). How we think about ourselves dominates our behavior (Proverbs 23:7) and sets our agenda in life towards other people.”

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well…Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139

“Happiness is a form of courage.” — George Holbrook Jackson

 

 

 

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“Be careful of the words you say, Keep them short and sweet. You never know, from day to day, Which ones you’ll have to eat.”

I have one more good post in me about words. Well, for now. I reserve the right to revisit.

I read a great book yesterday. The timing was not a coincidence considering all of the recent speech control.
The book is called, Listen by Rene Gutteridge. It is a fictional story about the power of words. The plot is about an idyllic, small town where a website was created that posted conversations from within people’s homes in which people were speaking about others. 
Just imagine for one minute that your most private conversations about friends and family or church members were recorded, perhaps by cell phones and published for all the world to see.
It might change the way you talk, right?

“We know metals by their tinkling and men by their talking.”–Thomas Brooks

Have you ever sent a text to the wrong person? I have. And the text I sent was about the person I sent the text to! It wasn’t anything bad, but for those few moments when I realized that my words could have been misconstrued, I was afraid!  The damage could have been irreparable.

Our family is unusually carefully with our words. We have been taught numerous times about the power of the tongue. We know that God created all things with His words and according to Proverbs, the power of life and death is in the tongue.  I really could go on and on about this, but I’m not trying to preach a sermon. 

Consider words spoken about you when you were a child that did damage, either at home or by other kids. How much did that shape you whether you wanted it to or not? That whole “sticks and stones” thing is a bunch of garbage.
When my kids were small, if someone put someone else down, they had to then say at least five compliments to the other person to try to redeem their words. And things like, “I like how you take a deep breath,” or “I like how your hair is so long,” didn’t count.  But one point for creativity and making us laugh when we were really mad.

At our house you will never hear things like, “My headache is killing me!”, or “That makes me sick!” We take those words seriously because we only want to speak good things and give power to the awesome things God wants for us. Not the negative.  You might think it’s crazy but there was a Flyleaf song that we all really liked and the kids would all sing it. It was called, I’m So Sick and we talked about how maybe we shouldn’t be claiming those words by singing that song. Well, it was a catchy tune and sing it, we did. Within days the entire family was quite ill and it wasn’t pretty. Coincidence?
Needless, to say, we don’t sing that song anymore.

My dad never heard these ideas to my knowledge, but I remember being a little girl and hearing him say that he thought the most stupid swear word to say was, “I’ll be darned.” Only the word wasn’t ‘darned’ but I’m not gonna type that naughty word. He said that one would have to be pretty stupid to open that invitation.  Interesting.

As many of us are working on controlling our words these days, this is even more relevant. While you are conscious of what you are saying, be even more conscious of the strength of your words.

Consider this…Do words change the world when spoken, or do they change the person speaking them? Or maybe both.

“A sharp tongue is the only edge tool that grows keener with constant use.”–Washington Irving

Keep spreading the word. Issue the challenge to quit complaining to those you know. Let’s keep this going. If you fail, just switch the bracelet and move on. Don’t give up. This is about the awareness not the accomplishment.

The pastor who gave birth to this movement of bracelet-wearing, non-complainers took three and a half months to keep his bracelet on the same arm. Others have needed seven months!
I don’t care if I wear this bracelet all year. I want to make the most valiant effort possible to control my mouth. According to James 3, I’ll never do it on my own.

“Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear.” James 1:19 The Message