How To Lead a Drama-Free Team

Aaron called us the A-Team when we started dating and now we think of our family as a team. What kinds of teams are you on? Whether your team is a family, friends or a team of professionals, you’re a vital member of the group. And whether you are the team leader or you lead by example, you are uniquely equipped with your strengths, personality and experience to empower every other person on your team.

But do you know what gets in the way of teams unifying and empowering one another?

“Drama, drama, drama!”

Does your team struggle with any of the following?

  • Overwhelm
  • Communication
  • Stress of team transitions
  • Anxiety
  • Emotional pain

Do you wish your team could…

  • Get more done
  • Unify so you can tackle the real problems and change lives
  • Be happy
  • Offer the best of who they are to their students and teammates
  • Be drama-free

Drama FreeTeams-3

Drama-Free Team Leadership

Leadership can be a lonely road filled with tedious distractions, especially when your group is overwhelmed or hurting. No matter how much you care about your team, the fact is that you have too many other things to think about to expend time and energy on keeping everyone feeling happy and fulfilled.

It’s easy for people to become hyper-focused on everything that’s not going well when they feel overwhelmed and under-appreciated. But the truth is that no bucket will ever be full as long as there’s a hole in the bottom. You will never be able to fill the needs of your team as long as they are dependent on others to make them feel valuable. They need inspiration and training that will empower them from within so they can turn around and use their gifts to empower others.

Give others the benefit of the doubt and the best of who you are.The Plan

  1. Empower your team instead of rescuing them. You might care deeply for others and have the skills needed to solve difficult problems, but refrain from always doing that for your team. If you want a drama-free team that tackles the real problems with the best of who they are, they need to grow their problem-solving muscle. Empower them by standing with them and offering suggestions without trying to rescue them.
  2. Demonstrate relational and emotional health. How? Be honest without over-sharing. Work on your own self-awareness and ability to take your own concerns to God or someone you trust so you don’t inadvertently spread your burden to the entire team. Go to counseling, spiritual direction or see a relationship/emotion coach to help you process the more difficult issues you face.
  3. Defuse instead of escalate emotionally charged discussions. Recognize when you start to feel pulled into emotionally charged discussions. Take a breath and then ask calm questions that might help the other person think about what they are saying. You can put out fires by simply remaining respectfully calm when others feel intense emotion.
  4. Offer a fresh voice. You can’t do it all and sometimes people need to hear a fresh voice to offer a fresh perspective. Bring someone in to talk to your team and help them see the beauty of what they have to offer, and how they can offer it with a calm confidence. They will begin to realize the freedom and peace that awaits them and the team will strengthen exponentially.

You aren’t in this alone. If you want to know more about how to empower others to improve their emotional, spiritual and relational health, I’m here to help. Subscribe below this post (mobile) or on the side of this post (desktop) for weekly encouragement, strategy and tips.

Are you looking for more?

Andrea Joy Wenburg, B.A. Music Education, M.A. Counseling Ministries

I would be honored to have the opportunity guide your team into a fresh awareness of their own value and purpose so they can give others the benefit of the doubt and the best of who they are. They will find new strength and confidence as they act on behalf of others.

My experience as a Kindergarten – 12th grade music teacher, retreat planner, blogger, college ministry leader and leader of small groups allows me to customize this message for religious and secular audiences of all ages.

I can help in a variety of formats from a single speaking engagement up to a 9 month team-support program. Talk to me. We’ll figure out what would be best for you and your team.

You can’t do it for them. But you can empower them to do it for themselves.

Contact me for more information. (Click Here)

What others are saying…

“Andrea was great to work with. She was pleasant in communication and prompt in providing information and graphics needed during the planning process. Andrea’s presentation had great content and her follow-up guide was an excellent tool to assist attendees in processing the message on a deeper level. I definitely recommend utilizing her gifts and talent for future events!” ~Susan Hageman, Event Chair

IMG_7476“Andrea really listened to what I had to say prior to the presentation and it was evident in the information she presented to us. Topics, advice, suggestions, and encouragement that was customized for us! Andrea is using her gifts of compassion, listening, and leading to empower others to be the best versions of themselves.” ~Amber Larson, Early Childhood Education Team Leader and Retreat Planner

“I appreciate Andrea inviting us to think about what we do well; and then how we can use that to empower others. I sure hope to hear her again in the future!” ~Sue Sheneman, Retreat Participant

“Andrea’s presentations are both amusing and poignant. Her love for Jesus and her compassion for people are evident in every word she speaks. She will encourage your heart, but also challenge you to see what God is up to in your own life. Andrea is passionate about helping people move past roadblocks, so they can participate fully in the unique ways God desires to work through them.” ~Sam Elliott, Speaker

“Andrea is an amazing listener. She listens with purpose. I’ve been so impressed with her insight and ability to recognize the ideas and topics that not only inspire me, but motivate me to do more. Speaking with Andrea has been such an encouragement. I felt very understood and known. She helped me see that my voice and perspective mattered. She gave me concrete strategies to help me put my abstract ideas into action. Andrea has a gift, and she will help you discover yours.” ~Jessica Samuelson, Educator

Book Andrea Here <—Click

The Hard Truth About Being An Idealist

Do you have a dream? Do you think about what could or should be? If so, you may just be an idealist who longs for Utopia, a heaven on earth where perfect peace and justice reign.

It’s not easy being a dreamer.

At some point people and the world will disappoint you. Leaders cheat. Gunmen take out dozens of unsuspecting people in the blink of an eye. Friends speak harsh words to one another, wounding each other at the core. Families rip apart over pain and betrayal.

Good people suffer at the hands of other good people, making us wonder why we say they are “good” in the first place.

Broken KeysAnd when an idealist encounters the heart-wrenching, back-breaking, soul-searching painful realities of life, they begin to wonder, “Why bother dreaming of something better? It will never happen, anyway.”

Friends, that’s one reason why some of the beautiful idealists you know are so often depressed. I know. When I realized that I wasn’t the ideal me I wanted to be and I didn’t have the power to make the world the ideal world I believed it could be, I gave up trying.

Why bother with futile dreams?

I have a special place in my heart for dreamers.

I talk about this more in my upcoming book UNFROZEN, but there came a point where I had to find a deeper truth to sustain me through the heartache of life. It came down to this:

No amount of joy in this world could overcome the heartache of never achieving the ideal. But being a living, breathing display of God’s love to the world…now THAT was something I could live for.

While I am usually frustrated with anything less than the ideal, it’s often that frustration that motivates me to stand up and make a difference in the world. I see potential everywhere. Nothing and no one is without hope, until my world crushes in on me and I stop believing in dreams.

Idealists have a very difficult choice to make.

Don't believe too much in your dreamsWill we refuse to acknowledge the pain of this world? Will we succomb to the heartbreak and get lost in the loss of what “could have been”? Or will we sacrifice our need to make everything ideal so we can offer who we are to the world anyway?

Sometimes it’s easier to settle for being happy over making a difference.

Sometimes it’s easier to give up.

But not you. You have it in you to let go of your need for everything to be ideal so you can offer the best of who you are to make the world a better place, anyway.

I created something to give you the opportunity to discuss what it means for idealists to face the hard truth.

Download this discussion/reflection guide for Disney’s Zootopia.
Download

Why I Wear Sunglasses In Wal-Mart, And Perhaps You Should Too

Indications of Sensory Sensitivity

It just happened. We were looking at pictures of the Nebraska State Fair in anticipation of visiting soon when Grant screeched with glee, right in my ear. I don’t know how to describe how disturbing it is for me when loud, sharp noises upset my internal equilibrium. I went from being at complete peace to feeling inner turmoil in an instant. An INSTANT.

This, my friends, is not a an emotional problem. It is not a relational problem. I am not screwed up and neither is my son. It is not a spiritual problem, though I believe everything is spiritual in one way or another. No, this mood-altering screech was a direct hit to my nervous system. It is physical. I am extremely sensitive to sound.

I don’t think I really noticed it before I had kids. Perhaps something happened in childbirth that impacted my nerves in ways that left me more sensitive to sensory stimulation than I was before. (Check out my series on Childbirth and Postpartum Depression by clicking here) I’ve done a lot of personal research on the matter and I absolutely believe that sensory sensitivity is a thing. A real thing. The sounds of chaotic play, startling “bangs” and screeching children can throw me into instantaneous sobs. INSTANTLY.

shadesMaybe I’m Not Crazy

I avoid our local Wal-Mart* as much as I can unless I feel lazy or desperate. I’ve heard of many reasons why different people avoid it but I have one: It makes me crazy.

I am well aquainted with my tendency to become irritable as I shop there but the other day I courageously stepped into the door with both kids and a short mission. I wondered how long I had before I would start to feel overwhelmed. It took all of five minutes. Aware of how bright lights also bother me, I took note of the fact I was squinting as I pushed the cart down the asile of dishes I ducked into a moment before. So I put on my sunglasses.

Instant relief. INSTANT.

The muscles around my eyes relaxed and nothing felt as urgent. I wore the glasses for a few minutes before I felt really awkward and tucked them back in my purse while I rushed through collecting our remaining necessities. As we checked out I looked around and saw narry a smile. I wondered how many of the employees who work there day after day are also sensitive to the harsh light bouncing off of the blue walls, white fixtures and shiny floors? How many people leave this store believing they hate it, not really knowing why?

How Do I Know & What Do I Do?

Friends, many of us are sensitive to sensory stimulation and just think we’re irritable people. Many of your children are and don’t know how to tell you. So let ME tell you.

If you prefer to work with the lights dimmed…

If you think more clearly when music with a strong beat is playing…

If you cut out the tags in your clothes or find comfort in twirling your hair…

You may be sensitive.

If your infant relaxes when listening to loud heart-beat sounds (as described in this article: click here)…

If your daughter likes to wear tight clothing that presses securely on her skin…

If your son refuses to eat foods with strange textures…

Your child may be sensitive.

There is much more to say on this matter, including the power of sensitivity. I will likely be writing about it for years to come. But for now, know this. If you or your child is sensitive to sight, sound, taste, touch or smell, do three things:

  1. Be Aware. Watch for it. Take note of moments when you feel or your child feels irritable or overwhelmed and consider how your environment may be making you uncomfortable. Plan ahead for next time.
  2. Increase Your Buffer. Intentionally stay in your super-comfort zone at times so that other times you can take courageous steps into an overstimulating environment.
  3. Rest. And above all, get sleep! Sleep makes a world of difference.

Are you sensitive? Do you think of yourself as an irritable person at times, perhaps especially after having kids? What steps do you want to take to help yourself or your child?

Maybe we could all just wear sunglasses in Walmart so no one feels awkward!

*I do not intend to ever bash anyone or anything and that is not the purpose of this article. If you know someone who has a voice with Wal-Mart, please forward them this post so they are aware of this issue that negatively effects their company, completely unrelated to their business practices. Thank you.

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I Don’t Want To Read This Post

Some Days.

Some days I don’t want to read.
Some days I don’t want to write.
Some days I want to go to the movies and eat popcorn and let someone else inspire.

Some days I don’t want to care.
Some days I don’t want to hope.
Some days I want to leave my sunglasses on and let someone else see the depths of others.

But other days I do read and write and care and hope.
And on those days I tend to the weeds growing through the foundation of my soul.
On those days as I soak in the sun, I plant and water and nourish and share the harvest of kindness, hope and love.

Because I don’t want to forget the other days on some days.
I care too much to let the some-day weeds overtake my other-days garden.
So on some days I walk slowly through the other-days beauty and try to remember the passion and power and joy of the other days.

And then I go to sleep praying that I’ll not forget to rest in the grace of the well-tended garden of the other days.

Rest in the garden

When The Walls Close In

This weekend I made a poor decision: I went to the department store Sunday morning. My daughter had a birthday party to attend after church and needed a gift. We were up early and in need of a few staples, so I grabbed my bags and we headed out so I could cross one of the jobs off my list. Sometimes it feels good to get a head start on the day.

Sometimes it’s just foolish. Our little mother-daughter shopping date turned into a race against time – a race I knew I was going to lose by the time we hit the self-checkout. Frantic-mommy whispers escaped as my sweet daughter tried to help.

Just stay BACK! Stop doing that! Move! I HATE coming here!

She looked at me and backed off. I can only imagine what was going through her head: “What happened to the kind mommy who held my hand as we walked in?”

I carried that irritable energy with me through most of the day. When I had a few quiet moments, I took a step back and recalled something I said in my talk to a mom’s group last week.

I didn’t realize I was depressed because for two years I covered my sadness with irritability. Sadness was under all of that frustration.

I’m not depressed right now, but I certainly have my irritable days. I don’t want them to multiply and become the norm for me again, so I intentionally work to discern irritability’s cause.

In this quiet moment I asked: What is sad about this situation?

I felt the walls of the store closing in on me. I felt pressure. The competing pressures to be on time and accomplish my tasks pressed in on me in the store. I generally seem to be able to handle one without the other, but when there is a time crunch on my to-do list, I feel trapped.

That’s the thing about pressure. Unless there are actual walls closing in on me, pressure is an illusion – just like this picture. There was no real danger.

Creative Commons

Creative Commons

The objective reality was that I mismanaged my time and there were going to be natural consequences for that. I was going to be the reason we would walk into church late. None of us like being late and I don’t like to miss any music at the beginning of the service. I felt like I was letting my family down. And that was sad to me.

But I wasn’t going to change the sad consequence at the self-checkout, so what did I do? I redistributed the pressure I felt and placed it on Amelia. Brilliant.

Managing time is not my forte. I’m going to mess up again. But I hope next time I will take a breath and choose to reject the perception of pressure, accept the consequences that follow and live with kindness in the moment.

Because finding sadness under my irritability can relieve pressure and release me to love.

For more on my experience with depression, check out my series: 

When I Should Feel Joy & 11 Tips for Preventing and Fighting Depression

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When I Should Feel Joy #5: Deeper Joy

We were sitting on the only furniture left in her late-grandma’s dimly lit nursing home room. She was back for the funeral and my friend invited me over so we could talk one-on-one with no kids around. Life-lived poignancy struck me. I suppose it was the perfect place to have a life-living conversation. This is how I remember it:

“Are you depressed?”

Well, I might be. I thought I would do better after having realized how I had been looking to others to make me feel valuable. We have really been doing well the past few months because of it…but I still feel rage when I feel overwhelmed.

“Do you enjoy your kids?”

Well…I love them. And there are moments I enjoy them but most of the time I feel frustrated by all their needs I am expected to meet. But I’m their mom. Isn’t that my job?

“Do you want to be angry at your kids or will you look back on this time of your life and wish you would have been able to enjoy it?”

Boom.

There’s nothing like end-of-life reminders to evoke right-now-life movement. Her question made me realize I didn’t want to live to survive, I wanted to live a life of deep joy alongside whatever pain would come. But I could not do it on my own. Something significant happened in my heart while at the spiritual direction class, as I described in my last post. I am so glad I didn’t miss the opportunity for inner growth in the middle of my pain. But nine months later, at the time my friend confronted me, I was still struggling.

That’s the thing about depression. There very well may be spiritual transformation in the middle of it, but if it’s been around long enough, our brains may need help to finally overcome it. Soon after our conversation, I began taking anti-depressants. Choosing to take or not take anti-depressants is a very personal decision. My goal was to utilize them to help me regain chemical balance while I continued to work on integrating more healthy practices into my life. Several months later I went off of the medication and through another transition into a new beginning: a life aware of how the choices I make daily impact my spiritual/mental health.

I had expectations about what it would be like to welcome our children into the world and raise them. Some of my expectations became sweet reality. But if I have learned anything through this season, I have learned that joy is not found in fulfilling the “should’s” of life. It is not something you feel just because it is your middle name. Joy is much deeper than that. It is the others-centered freedom and love released when I lean deep into pain and find that I am safe and Loved, just as I am.

Joy Is Deeper

Here are some final observations from my heart-experience with depression:

  1. Depression may be emotional and spiritual, but it is definitely practical and physical. Meds brought their own set of side effects that helped me get back on track but also made me ready to be done with them several months later. Every person is different – if your doctor recommends anti-depressants and you are willing, give them a chance and follow the doctor’s lead to try something else if the first option doesn’t work. I offer other friend-to-friend practical advise in my post 11 Steps to Prevent and Fight Depression.
  1. We needed our friends and family. I’m so glad my friend moved into my chaotic heart to help me realize I was still depressed. But I’m not sure how we would have made it to that point without the unwavering support and practical care from our extended family – especially my mom who stayed and helped care for us a lot those first few months. If you think someone might be struggling with depression, reach out and invite them to share themselves with you. And just as importantly, reach out to their spouse or care-giver who may need and appreciate support, as well. Perhaps you want to utilize the discussion points in the 11 Steps to Prevent and Fight Depression as a place to begin.

Has this series been meaningful or helpful to you in any particular way? Are you left with questions unanswered or things with which you disagree or would like to add to the discussion? Leave a comment below, message me on Facebook or email me at awenburg@gmail.com. I would love to hear from you.

Deeply,

Andrea Joy

When I Should Feel Joy #1: Unprepared

When I Should Feel Joy #2: Postpartum Depression

When I Should Feel Joy #3: Shame

When I Should Feel Joy #4: True Love

When I Should Feel Joy #5: Deeper Joy

11 Steps to Prevent and Fight Depression

11 Tips for Preventing and Fighting Depression

Depression may be emotional and spiritual, but it is also practical and physical. ~From When I Should Feel Joy #5

In my series When I Should Feel Joy, I tell of my heart-level experience with and transformation through depression. But depression is not just spiritual. So in this post, I want to offer hope and practical advice for people wanting to prevent or cope with depression. If you know someone who is struggling and you want to help, you may find this list helpful. I think through many of these items on a regular basis, even now.

Though I have checked with professionals to be sure I’m not suggesting anything harmful, *this is NOT advice from a doctor or psychologist. It is simply what I would say if we had a chance to sit down and talk, friend to friend. If you want to pass this information along to others, you are welcome to send them a link to this post or walk them through it.

  1. Name it: Depression. Naming it is the first step in grabbing ahold of it rather than letting it hold and drag you around. If you acknowledge you are feeling or beginning to feel depressed, you can do things to adjust thought patterns and work to create a safe and stable environment for you and your family. But don’t stop here. Conquer the fear in depression by taking steps toward getting back to your life.
  1. Talk about it. You, your doctor and people in close relationship with you need to take your mental state seriously so you can work together to create and execute a plan (which may include antidepressants, counseling, etc.). Tell them and let them know you need help. Your spouse or others close to you may be struggling too, so working together is vitally important. Think and pray through these things with someone you trust, then take action.
  1. Assess and adjust for your sleep needs. How much sleep are you getting? Too much or too little sleep can affect your mental health. If you are sleeping more than usual, it’s time to get out of bed and get dressed. Come up with an incentive or goal that gets you out of bed. If you are sleeping less than usual, what steals your sleep? Is it something you have control over? If so, what can you do to keep from robbing yourself of sleep? If not, is there something others could do to share the nighttime responsibilities or give you a chance to nap during the day? Do you have a friend you can regularly swap kids with? Can you afford a sitter for 3 hours a couple of times a week? Does your doctor suggest sleep meds?
  1. Assess and adjust your food intake. Are you eating a variety of healthy foods? Are you eating enough? If you go to food for comfort, what alternatives can you opt for when you really want that sugary carbohydrate? I know from experience that they might be helpful in the moment but eating too much of them can do serious harm to your long-term physical and mental health.
  1. Identify and plan for overwhelming factors. When did you feel overwhelmed in the last few days? What was going on during those times? What sensory stimuli were you experiencing in that moment (sight/taste/smell/touch/sound)? What changes can you make or what help can you ask for in order to avoid or cope with these emotional and sensory stimuli that make you feel overwhelmed?
  1. Identify and plan for current stressors. How are your relationships? Do you feel disconnected with your spouse? Are there situations in your life that you are dreading or anxiously awaiting? Do you avoid thinking about a situation or person for some reason? Is there someone in your life (trusted advisor, spiritual director, counselor, pastor, etc.) you would be willing to talk to about these things?
  1. Identify and utilize your stress-relievers. What inspires you or reminds you of a deeper truth than you feel in the moment? What do you enjoy doing? How do you like to exercise? Find time every day or so to work on something you enjoy. What time of day could you do that without neglecting kids? If sensory stimuli overwhelm you, fight back with positive sensory stimuli. What do you enjoy looking at, smelling, touching and listening to? (The feel of a basketball, music with a strong and deep beat, a hot bath, sugar scrub for your hands and body, etc.) Perhaps you could put inspiring scripture or quotes up in strategic places with sticky notes. Write your stress-relievers down and take action to add these things to your home and daily existence!  If you have other stress-relieving ideas, please share them in the comments below.
  1. Prepare for productivity. What time of day is your “up” time when you feel the best? Use this time for active endeavors that are difficult when you feel down. Prepare meals ahead of time, vacuum or de-clutter. (Clutter can have a negative effect on our brains. Get rid of things you don’t need or really want.)
  1. Plan ahead. In a good moment, think through your family’s practical needs, preferably with your spouse, roommate or trusted friend. What needs to happen this week?  What is on the calendar? Create a plan of attack for potentially stressful events coming up. Think ahead about your meal plan at the beginning of the week so you don’t have to spend energy consumed with it three different times a day. What do you want to do for fun this week?
  1. Do not over-spiritualize when you have serious physical needs. I want to reiterate that if you are suffering in deep depression, this is not a good time to let your mind think of what might have been or what you might be missing out on or your deep doubts about God. This IS a good time to say “it’s not as bad as my brain chemistry is telling me it is. It won’t always be like this.”  And then go ahead and distract yourself with a healthy stress-reliever. Give yourself the grace to feel crummy without trying to analyze it. I have been there and I know how quickly those thoughts can lead you into a really dark place. Your family & friends need you. Don’t go there, friend.

It won’t always be like this.

  1. Seek help immediately if you have thoughts of suicide. You are Loved and your presence in the world absolutely makes a difference. It may not feel like it in this moment, but what you feel or think right now may be skewed by brain chemistry. Please ask for help.

Is there something you would add to this list? Feel free to comment below. To read about my experience with depression and lessons learned through it, click on the following links:

When I Should Feel Joy #1: Unprepared

When I Should Feel Joy #2: Postpartum Depression

When I Should Feel Joy #3: Shame

When I Should Feel Joy #4: True Love

When I Should Feel Joy #5: Deeper Joy

Depression is Physical

When I Should Feel Joy #4: True Love

I was so afraid that God was shaking his head as he looked on me that I couldn’t bring myself to look at him, either. When I did lift my gaze, all I seemed to see was God’s profile. Maybe he was not only shaking his head at me, maybe he wasn’t even looking. Maybe he turned his head when I called out to him. What’s the point of talking to a god who doesn’t see me? It’s humiliating.

And yet, I felt something stirring. Deep-seeded belief kept whispering                Don’t give up…Wait for it…

From When I Should Feel Joy #3

Seventeen months after the experience of childbirth that sent me in a tailspin, I joined thirty other men and women for a week with Dr. Larry Crabb for his School of Spiritual Direction. Attending had been a goal of mine for years but when I arrived I knew it was much more than an item to check of my bucket list. Red RockI pulled into the Glen Erie retreat center, greeted by an enormous red rock standing tall and strong and beautiful. It was time to take a leap of faith off of Mount Self-Protection and trust that God was going to catch me. I simply couldn’t live there any more.

It is amazing how much can happen in a heart that is open to receive what Love might offer.

At one point during class, something hit me. The words spoken weren’t magical. I think sometimes we over-estimate the value of words and forget to listen for what might be stirring in the heart.

My openness to Love was greater than my resistance to pain.

In that moment I was stirred up. My openness to Love was greater than my resistance to pain. I had to leave. I barely made it to the bed in my room before the sobbing began. Heart-whispers of Love held me securely as I recalled my physical and emotional and residual pain.

Heart-Whispers

I heard you when you called for me to save you.
I held you when you writhed in pain.
I stood watch when you lay awake in fear.
True Love was there
when you couldn’t find its shadow.

I am here.

Cry your heart out, my love.
My Love is unending and does not depend on what you bring.
You can depend on me.
True Love is dependable.
Shadows depend on light.

True Love is here.

I hear you now as you call to be filled.
I hold you now as you weep with hope.
I stand watch over your heart as you rest in peace,
Love.
Come out from the shadows.

You are here.

Speak
Hold
Dance
True Love.
Make shadows.

What happens in a relationship when someone says, “I am bursting with longing to love you freely, without demanding that you make me feel good about myself?”

Let me tell you.
There’s a lot less expectation, demand, dependence, pressure and ugly.
There’s a lot more forgiveness, sacrifice, offering, freedom and beauty.

When you know you are deeply seen and you carry deep weight that makes a difference, you do not have to demand others see and approve of you.
You seek forgiveness. You love regardless. You give boldly.

Sometimes I live like that. Sometimes I love like that.

I want to do it more. How about you?
Live and Love Deeply

When I Should Feel Joy #1: Unprepared

When I Should Feel Joy #2: Postpartum Depression

When I Should Feel Joy #3: Shame

When I Should Feel Joy #4: True Love

When I Should Feel Joy #5: Deeper Joy

11 Tips for Preventing and Fighting Depression

When I Should Feel Joy #3: Shame

I should have handled it better.
I should have been prepared.
I should have more to give.
I should get more done.
I should be happier.
I should be kind.
I should pray.

I couldn’t pray.

Praying evokes some sort of awareness of God’s presence and I didn’t want my heart to be in anyone’s presence. It’s hard to want to be around anyone when you feel disgraced:

When all was said and done, I felt I had failed this natural birth thing. I didn’t overcome anything or feel empowered like some women do. I felt dragged and beaten and terrified and discarded. That is really hard to say.…I felt my loss of control had embarrassed him (my husband). I couldn’t look him in the eye for fear of the disappointment I was sure I would see.                                                  ~From When I Should Feel Joy #1

My “should’s” slopped me in shame so all I wanted to do was hide. That’s what one does when covered in sticky, smelly sh*t. Cover. Hide. Blame. Get me outta here.

Shame doesn’t want to be near any person – much less God. And the truth doesn’t matter a whole lot when insurmountable feeling blocks reason. I couldn’t look my husband in the eye for months. He couldn’t convince me of anything. It didn’t take long before I realized all of this was about God, too.

I was so afraid that God was shaking his head as he looked on me that I couldn’t bring myself to look at him, either. When I did lift my gaze, all I seemed to see was God’s profile. Maybe he was not only shaking his head at me, maybe he wasn’t even looking. Maybe he turned his head when I called out to him.

What’s the point of talking to a god who doesn’t see me? It’s humiliating.

And yet, I felt something stirring. Deep-seeded belief kept whispering –Don’t give up…Wait for it…

This went on for a year. We made plans for me to have a week away at class with an author who mentored me through his books since I was in college. For a few more months I maintained the resolve to tread water and wait for time when I could slip away from the expectations of young motherhood and deal with all I had been avoiding. I needed those days without tangible responsibilities in order to untangle. And boy, was I tangled – strangled by my own fear.

Something had to give.

I had to give back to God something I had taken: the right to determine my own value.

To tuck in our hearts today:

  1. Shame is not guilt. When I feel guilty for things I’ve done wrong, it’s like feeling the realistic weight or consequences of what I’ve done. Feeling that weight is heavy and sad but it also has a simple answer. I’m forgiven. Debt paid. Done. Guilt is eradicated by forgiveness. I am Loved and loveable, guilty or not.*Though I try not to seek it, I actually welcome guilt because I want to know the consequences of what I do. I don’t want to be oblivious to how I hurt others – I want to turn pain-infliction into healing-love. Forgiveness produces beautiful things like freedom and joy and love and gratitude.
  1. Shame assumes my value goes up and down based on what I bring to the table. It isn’t surprised when I hide because it wants me to feel embarrassed when I don’t meet expectations. It assumes I will work hard to keep from being embarrassed. When I failed and couldn’t make up for it, I hid. I didn’t want anyone to see me like that.Whose expectations was I concerned about, anyway? Truth be known, I spent a lot of time comparing myself to my ideal self – the Andrea I always thought I could be: strong, competent, prepared, happy, kind, good, etc. When all of that unraveled, I didn’t know who I was or how to hold it together. Other people had expectations for me, as well. When I met their expectations I felt more valuable. When I didn’t, I felt worth less. Shame colored my vision of the past, present and future. I couldn’t feel the guilt that leads to forgiveness and love because I didn’t feel I was worth it.

I had to give back to God something I had taken:
the right to determine my own value.

Your value is NOT based on what you bring to the table. You are not an object to be assigned value by any person, including yourself. Your value is inherent in your being and is no more or less than any other human being’s value.

From the bottom of my forgiven heart:

YOU are Loved. Live it out loud.

You are loved. Live it out loud.

*I do believe that I am Loved and loveable. But I also realize that when I hurt another, their trust in me is not automatically restored with forgiveness. Trust takes time and faithfulness.

You are welcome here – no matter how you think you may smell. Find me on Facebook or sign up here on WordPress for updates. I’d love to hear from you.

Sincerely,

Andrea Joy

When I Should Feel Joy #1: Unprepared

When I Should Feel Joy #2: Postpartum Depression

When I Should Feel Joy #3: Shame

When I Should Feel Joy #4: True Love

When I Should Feel Joy #5: Deeper Joy

11 Tips to Prevent and Fight Depression

The Thrill of Victory and the Agony of Defeat

My husband informed me yesterday that this is the best weekend of sports for the entire winter, (IHHO). Playoffs and Championships – the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat! Living rooms and sports bars across the country will be filled with anticipation as beloved favorites lay it all on the line. There will be wings, nachos, brats, beer, high fives, manly hugs, tears…and a lot of profanity thrown at TV’s.

(Well…in our house there will be vegetables, Spark, stationary bike-riding and replaying to analyze injuries over and over, but that’s beside the point!)

There’s nothing quite like the drama of football.

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

Unless it’s having a baby.  

Yep. I’m comparing the two. Why? Because I said something pretty audacious in “When I Should Feel Joy #2: Post Partum Depression”:  Sad is under angry. I have not yet come across an exception. I was definitely angry, but I put anger on top of my sadness. I chose it over tears. I don’t have to choose anger. You don’t, either.

Sad is under angry. I have not yet come across an exception. I was definitely angry, but I put anger on top of my sadness. I chose it over tears. I don’t have to choose anger. You don’t, either.

If there’s ever a good reason to be angry it’s when a ref makes game-changing call in error…against MY team…in the playoffs!

Am I right?!

I have no intention of telling fans to not be angry. But I will say this: sad is still under that anger. I’m totally bummed when my team loses the chance at an epic Super Bowl win. When the ref makes that call, I lose my chance to feel the thrill of victory I so passionately craved. Bummed. Sad. Ticked.

What I’m saying is that when that call is made, I can feel angry and display that anger in ways that hurt others and my relationship with them, OR I can choose relationship over my reaction.

I can choose relationship over my reaction.

It would be hurtful to carry the anger past the end of the game and into the hours or days ahead – then look for vengeance wherever I can find it: beer, food, slamming doors, cutting remarks. Anger seeps out into the way we interact with others and can actually hurt relationships. Generally, people don’t want to be around angry people. This creates distance.

It would be helpful to recognize that it sucks to have my team lose like that and admit I’m disappointed – then look for potential wherever I can find it: make a plan toward a goal, think of creative solutions to the problem, look at the situation from other people’s perspectives. Disappointment without anger is sadness and can actually help relationships. Generally, people want to comfort sad people. This creates a stronger bond.

So, my Friend, do you really want to hurt others and your relationships with them? You don’t have to. When you feel the volcano about to explode…or even after you popped your top, try this:

Breathe 3 big breaths and ask yourself, “What is sad about this situation?”

Choose relationship over your reaction. Deflate the intensity of your anger by recognizing your own disappointment/pain.

And may the best team actually win!