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Wednesday Wind Down: The Pain Principle – Part 2

Good Evening/Morning, Family!

We made it to another week, so I celebrate that with you!

I received a few private messages regarding last week’s post – that it helped them breathe a little easier as they walk along their respective journeys. Thank you for letting me know. I write for you. Let’s dive into the second part of my Pain Principle –

Pain should not be muted.

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Pain has a voice and we should listen to it every chance we get. It tells us that something is changing or something needs to be changed.

About 17 years ago, God showed me a vision to explain a concept about pain (I love that He knows I’m a visual learner). I saw a vision of a human spine. It was vertically suspended. A hand slid one of the thoracic vertebrae out of place as if it were a wooden block in a game of Jenga; then, it slid it back into alignment. Then I heard the following:

Either way, there’s pain.

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A lightbulb went off in my spirit.

Pain is an indicator that something’s wrong and that something is right. Think about it – whether the vertebra is out of place or returned to its place, pain would be present. It’s a crazy dichotomy, yet our bodies were built to know the difference. At some point during the healing process, the pain would subside. That’s how God made us.

But what do we do? We mute pain through pills, alcohol, vacations, porn… you name it, we’ll use it to prevent us from dipping our toes into a pool of pain. We run away from it thinking that it will suddenly disappear only to find that it has grown roots into areas we thought were off limits. Pain is an indicator that something is changing… for better or for worse. When we listen to it – physically or spiritually – we allow healthy footsteps to lead us into a better version of ourselves. We lay the groundwork for true healing to take place.

So, my motivational questions for you are the following:

What pain are running away from?
Since pain has a voice, what is it saying to you?
Is something out of alignment or is something being aligned?

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I pray that you allow the Holy Spirit to speak through the voice of your pain. I know it’s dark down there and you’re not quite sure of its depth, but the more you mute its echo, the more it will grow into other areas of your life. I’m a firm believer that whatever is in you will come out of you. It may look like an emotional blow up or emotional constipation when talking to your parents. Trust me – it’s there.

Ever since that day when I envisioned that spine, I have allowed pain to tell me something so I can adjust accordingly. Like many of you, I’ve grown accustomed to “dealing” with pain, but over time I realized that terminology can send us into a spiral of unhealthy living. I tell my clients that pain on the way to healing is better than pain standing still.

I love all of you and I want us to be well inside and out. If you think that journey will be difficult to begin, I highly recommend finding a mental health therapist to match your needs. After all, God made therapists too.

Peace & Thanks for listening, Family!

Wednesday Wind Down: The Pain Principle

Hi, Family!

What a week. What a month. Before I begin, just give yourself some room to appreciate that you made it to today. And if no one has told you lately, allow me to say I’m proud of you.

This post is wrapped around a simple Word from the Father that truly nourished my soul.

You don’t have to prove your pain.

Y’all.

I stopped in my tracks.

I paused everything and let it seep into my pores.

Why was this Word so profound to me? Because probably like some of you, I am accustomed to hiding pain. From health challenges to grieving loved ones, I learned to override my senses and clock into the next item on the agenda. I found that zone when I was in elementary school and I knew how to access it when it was needed. Fighting health battles that people couldn’t easily detect grew easier over time and I learned to just not talk about it. Besides, I’m uncomfortable in the spotlight. Always have been. But, growth tends to throw you into that thing anyway.

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Hiding pain a great trait to develop, but it can also be physically exhausting and emotionally castrating, yet we do it anyway. Why? Because in many cultures, it is celebrated. The less you express, the louder the applause. You must admit the prestige is to be coveted when you hear things like “You would never know he was in pain” and “She was so strong through it all.” I mean, who wouldn’t want those accolades!

So, as I got out of my car with my temporary disability placard hanging from the rearview mirror, I thought People aren’t going to believe me. Just get across the parking lot. No, try to walk straight. Let’s get rid of this limp… but then, someone’s going to judge me for parking in that limited mobility spot. Ugh. I hate this.

Placing one foot in front of the other, I attempted to smooth out my gait, then I felt my body slip into the familiar limp that resided in my legs for over a year. My hip moved to an imbalance posture and subconsciously, I let the pattern follow through. I didn’t feel like facing judging eyes as I tried to walk out my healing process. It was easier to just fall back into my abnormal rhythm and just get to the door of the grocery store.

That’s when I heard that Word and it arrested and empowered me at the same time.

I slowly straightened my posture to the best of my ability (yes, in the middle of the mini-roadway between the parking lot and the Publix doors). I attempted the heel-toe rolling action and in my mind, I resembled my old school marching band 8-to-5 stride. I probably didn’t, but I didn’t care. Honestly, it hurt like hell and it was scary, but I did it anyway because my God said that I didn’t need anyone to approve my process. It didn’t matter if I appeared in pain or not.

Likewise, I shared this freedom with a massage client recently when I listened to him share a similar sentiment. When he completed his thoughts, I said “You don’t have to prove your pain… to me or to anyone else.” I watched relief rain down his face. His eyes softened, then he nodded. I mirrored his affirmation and resumed his massage.

How many of us could actually heal if we gave each other the grace to do so? Seriously. Think of how much healing could truly take place?

I recall countless times when my face and voice didn’t match someone’s definition of pain. I have a high pain tolerance (elementary school, remember?), so once I say it hurts – I’m there. Until I get to that point, my exterior doesn’t change. This makes it difficult for people who don’t know me to gauge and thus, judge. I get it; we’re all looking for barometers to help us understand each other in this crazy world. Unfortunately, that desire can place a yolk on someone who is already cringing from the process itself, especially if it’s a visible one. It isn’t fair to place our cloak of definitions on anyone’s anything.

I share my newfound freedom with you as well, Family. I don’t care if you are experiencing mental anguish, emotional upheaval, spiritual renovation, or physical immobility – God knows your pain. He hears your cries and sees your attempts. He can pick up your crumbles one by one until you’re healed and whole. No one deserves proof of that process… not a supervisor, family member, or a stranger. Your word is enough – just like our Father’s. Just try to walk again. Try to walk with your heads up, even if it’s a slow stroll from the parking lot to the door.

I love you all and I wish you the absolutely best of days ahead. Here’s to your healing and, as always, Peace & Thanks for listening!

Wednesday Wind Down: Now Trending

Hi, Family!

How’s your week so far? Terrible? Great? Both?

I feel you and you are allowed to feel all of those. Yesterday, I celebrated one year of co-hosting QueensBeLike Podcast, but on Monday, I had a mini-meltdown, so hey… no judgment here. We’re in this thing together. *fist bump*

Tonight’s wind down is a tough love post. It’s also a short stop. 🙂

Here we go.

As we close March, we mark one year since the world acknowledged the dangers of COVID-19. I believe it was spreading before we took it seriously, and just like other times in history, we missed the warning signs. It was a conspiracy theory or no different than the flu until there were body bags. Until workers were fatigued. Until healthy patients died next to chronically sick ones. We missed it. That’s all there is to it.

Photo by Rodrigo Santos on Pexels.com

Other warning signs we’ve missed this decade (yes, I said decade) are too blatant to ignore.

One sweep of severe weather and possessions are ruined.
One month of unemployment and salaries feel like peanuts (or they always were).
One minute of wildfire and homes are lost.
One second of a decision and a lost life is a hashtag.
One virus and confusion germinates.

All it takes is one anything and our lives can be disheveled and we are eye-level with our transient brothers and sisters. There are no stables for our high horses and the reminders keep coming.

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How many reminders do we need? How many times does God have to knock down our philosophical towers of babble formed with bricks of insatiable egos?

COVID-19 still permeates between geographical boundaries leaving trails of anguish behind. Political unrest and social injustice are yet seething underneath tectonic plates of arrogance. We are deafened to the cries of innocent immigrant children while justifying the economical rape of those we sabotage.

The more we bury our heads in warm jackets of jaded comfort, the more I believe God sighs for us to catch the hints… to notice the following trends:

  1. All it takes is one thing to change everything.
  2. We can’t say we love God and not love each other.

When “Get a better job” is the response raising minimum wage, we’ve missed it.
When we enjoy art and education from professionals then refuse to pay them fairly, we’ve missed it.
When we arrest a congresswoman for knocking on a door, but allow rioters to attack other humans, we’ve missed it.

Once again, Jesus looks at our hearts and wonders where He fits. There is little room for His Love to multiply and the world is watching.

Family, we need to listen to the loudness and move in the stillness of Truth. We need to synchronize in empathy. We need to be the Body we were created to be.

Pray this prayer and pray that you mean it – “Lord, show me my blindspots.” Let that trend.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Wednesday Wind Down: Deep Dive

Hey, Family!

How’s your week so far? I pray it’s been amazing!

If you’re new to my site, this is my virtual living room and you’re welcome to sit for a minute. We get personal around here as I merge faith and humanity, so I’m glad you’re here. Let’s go!

Currently, I am healing from the outside in and it is painstakingly uncomfortable. Having surgery last year opened up a Pandora’s box of emotional remnants that I didn’t know were there.

A major key I reaffirmed is that I’m acrobatic in giving grace to others.

When you’re a Psychology-turned-Communication Arts major, you are ingrained to look at every situation with a prism instead of judgmental binoculars. You quickly learn that everything isn’t as it seems and you dishonor the truth when you leave out a perspective.

For example, your spouse comes homes and the door slams behind her, what are your thoughts?

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At first glance, you may jump to a “What’s wrong with you?” type of response. A communication skill called perception checking would take you through a few steps to allow ethical interpretation of that behavior. Maybe she misjudged how close the door was to the frame or the wind forced it. Maybe, she was annoyed with something that happened during the commute and regrets letting it slam. After you provide the possibilities, you ask your spouse to verify or correct those options. This diffuses defensiveness and allows your spouse to tell you the truth instead of you being upset by your assumption. Even if she doesn’t say so, she can’t say you jumped to a conclusion and reacted rashly.

See what I mean?

Prism. Not binoculars.

So, passing out grace? No worries there. I give situations a 360-view before I draw the line.

Serving that plate to myself? Epic fail. More like “Harpo, who dis?”

Photo by Anna Nekrashevich on Pexels.com

Sometimes I even beat myself up because I’m not trudging through every muddy puddle with a smile, waving my usual positivity flag, and onboarding everyone around me on the sunshine train. Why? Let’s admit it, Family… who doesn’t want that badge of honor and who hasn’t glorified that trait in others?

“She never complained.”

“He always put his kids before himself.”

“She always had a smile on her face.

“He always had a kind word to say.”

It’s an addictive perfection drug that can take you out if you’re not careful. I admit – I want the badge. I want the perfection. I want those words said at my funeral… but when I really need to breathe between the punches, I end up landing a fist of guilt on myself as I give a plate full of grace to someone else.

All I can say is thank God for therapy.

So far, I’ve had some serious revelations. One of them is the following: I know how to survive in a box; I struggle breathing outside of it. Thank you, Therapist.

Let me explain. Who knows? Maybe you and I are related.

Remember that scene in Harlem Nights (1989) when Eddie Murphy tells Danny Aiello to take very short breaths while he’s in the vault? That’s me. Little breaths. All day. All month. All year if I have to. Whatever it takes to get me over the hump and keep moving. Don’t get me wrong – I know how to self-care just not between traumatic milestones. In the words of my therapist, I know how to survive on little breaths. It’s like coming up for air after a deep ocean dive, but only taking a short breath before returning to the depths.

That is not sustainable and I hereby declare that I am no longer able to sustain myself on those small puffs of air. See what I did there? OK, I’ll stop rhyming. Lol

I’ve accomplished a lot in the midst of about 14 years of unfortunate events. I felt great about each milestone, took vacations, enjoyed time with friends and family, smashed some goals, and yet – *gasp* Little breath. Why? Because that’s how I learned to survive the shockwaves. That’s how I said to my mind, body, and spirit “Hey, get ready. There’s another one coming.” Over time, a week-long vacation or a mini-road trip transformed into a mere puff of air or a big exhale from holding my breath underwater so long.

Who can survive like that?

None of us.

So, I’m on a quest to learn how to live outside of the ocean I’ve learned to survive in and to kick the boxes that read “This is the way to heal” and “Christians suffer quietly with permanent smiles on their faces.”  I’m asking God to rewire my spirit so I can sweetly pass that warm plate of grace to myself and to accept it easily from my Savior, knife and fork in hand.

I also pray that by sharing this moment, you are encouraged to begin or continue your own journey to a healthier you. Being a Christian doesn’t mean you have to only show the highlight reel and be shamed as you heal and learn. Our faith allows for growth and grace to flow to us and through us. It calls for us to break at the feet of Jesus and within the sanctuary of   each other’s understanding because His Love should flow from heart to heart to create that circle of safety.

Let’s agree to deep dive into the waters of our soul if we need to and to learn to deeply breathe outside of the boxes we discover – the one that happened to us and the one we taped up ourselves.

I love y’all and I’m praying for you. As always, Peace and Thanks for listening!

Wednesday Wind Down: Replenish

Happy Thursday, Family!

I hate I missed you last night. The sandman knocked me down and I went with it, but you know I couldn’t leave you hanging until next week. So, here’s what I’ve been chewing on lately (and it’s a short stop).

This passage comes after God lets the children of Israel have it. In modern terms, this is also called “giving the business” or “reading” someone. *lol* Whatever you want to call it, God let them know He was not happy with their fasting foolishness.

Then comes this passage which has been a breath of fresh air to this season. Every time I read it, I think about the water cycle. Remember that from elementary school? It’s a beautiful reminder that God’s strength is never-ending and that He has plenty for us. I love that the water never runs out during the water cycle. You can read more about how water reminds me of God’s awesomeness here.

That “continually” part is everything to me. The Lord’s guidance will never run out on you. Your strength will be replenished well enough for you to be well-watered in a dry place. I don’t know about you, but I could use some water right now. Like clockwork, when I feel like I have nothing left to give — like an empty garden — God always give me more… more oxygen, more strength, more peace, more of something to go a little further. I may be emotionally drained, then someone calls and asks for prayer. I may be hurting and I will feel a supernatural boost to help someone in need. He never fails and, like that ever-flowing spring, our Source is everlasting. Since He is everlasting, we do not have to be. What a blessing that is! How relieving it is that we do not have to water ourselves! You and I both know that we try to reach that aerial bar with much failure at our feet, so I pray that you bask in that truth today and every day.

What I also love is that as He replenishes us, we will be infused with enough to be rebuilders and restorers. We can go from being a desolate place to building life around us. How cool is that?

I love you all and I’m praying for you. Peace & Thanks for listening! Stay well out there!

Wednesday Wind Down: Unpack the Bag

Hey, Family!

Here’s a short shop for your week!

You know how society stresses the importance of securing the bag? If you’ve never heard of this colloquialism, it means to take advantage of a financial opportunity, obtain the funds, snatch the coins… you get the drift.

Well, for some of us, I say it’s time to unpack the bag. *raising my hand too*

I’ve been undergoing this uncomfortable adventure with my therapist recently. As faith-filled as we may be, there’s a bag of stuff that we keep tucked away or in my case, that we never knew existed.

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

So, how does a Christian begin the process of unpacking an emotional suitcase? First, you need two guides – The Holy Spirit and a professional counselor/therapist. If you’re new here, welcome to my blend. I’m an avid advocate for mental health and I believe God gifted persons with the ability to help us navigate difficult waters. If you need a starting point, let me know. I have a list of exceptional professionals that can either help you directly or refer you to someone who can.

Photo by Alex Green on Pexels.com

As you find a match for your wellness needs and prepare for the journey, here are three things to remember –

  1. Remember you serve a God who cares.
    • WORD: Psalm 147:3 NLT – “He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds.”
    • NOTE: Whatever the weight, He can handle it. Start unloading.
  2. Remember you are an exceptional creation.
    • WORD: Psalm 139: 13-14 NLT – “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous — how well I know it.”
    • NOTE: Your baggage doesn’t change who you are.
  3. Remember freedom is yours.
    • WORD: Psalm 34:14 NLT – “I prayed to the Lord, and He answered me. He freed me from all my fears.”
    • NOTE: You do not have to live in your baggage. The suitcase is not your home. You can be freed.

Family, don’t forget you are not alone and you have everything it takes to begin the journey. I pray you have the courage to take the first steps necessary toward a healthier you. I know I am.

Peace & Thanks for listening to my under-500-word Tiny Desk Ted Talk! *lol*

Wednesday Wind Down: No Shade

Hi, Family!

I hope you’re doing well out there. If not, I hope this short stop helps.

Have you ever had someone judge your plate? You know the type. They throw side-eye shade about your chicken alfredo between their green smoothie sips. They may even comment about the calories and how you should try their diet of the month. How rude.

When I sit down to enjoy a fun meal, I have no regrets. Why? I remember all the vegetables I ate and the carbs I declined. I smile at the fruit I ate instead of chocolate and the extra cardio I enjoyed (dance is my favorite cardio by the way). I let that shade stay on their side of the street. Why again? Because I know the truth. I know my plate is my reward.

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

This week, I encourage you to stick close to the Truth and throw off that shade. No one knows your internal struggles but you and God. You’re the only one that lives in your skin. Pray that you are infused with divine strength to withstand the shade of judgment. Nothing but toxicity grows there, so stay on the side of Truth. Here’s three quick vitamins to help with that –

  1. Say to whom you belong, e.g. “I am yours; you are mine.”
  2. Tell yourself one truth about your plate, e.g. “I’m going to enjoy this moment, then continue my journey.”
  3. Remind yourself that judgment doesn’t stick to you, e.g. “I don’t have to own what you give.”

I love y’all and I’m praying for you as you navigate those shade trees. While you’re at it, read Ephesians 6:10-17 and do right by your body so you can have that alfredo. *lol*

Peace & Thanks for listening. Stay well out there!

Wednesday Wind Down: Hero

Hi, Family!

Get ready for your short stop.

I saturated myself in the Inauguration yesterday. I always do. Why? Because I’m a nerd, an educator, and a communication specialist. I’m a nerdy educational communicator. That’s a serious trifecta.

It means that I analyze communication like a scientist studies petri dishes. I dissect verbal and nonverbal behavior like a mathematician breaks down equations. I love social sciences. It’s my jam.

Gotta love the National Park Service.

So, I watched the pomp and circumstance as I do every 4 years. I observed body language, vocal inflections, artifacts (objects people use to express themselves), and communicative congruency. I noticed hairstyles, tie colors, and this year — masks. The music. The military. The tradition. I love it all.

After weaving in and out of the little known facts yesterday, I heard the following in my spirit:

“No one is a Savior, but everyone can be an example.”

I paused and wrote it down as I do with these type of moments.

America easily idolizes leaders in various capacities —- especially when it comes to government and religion. No matter which side of the aisle you’re on, our idea of leaders can creep into deity status. That’s the trap. That’s a diabolical rabbit hole we can’t afford to travel down every 4 years.

Photo by Andres Ayrton on Pexels.com

God has called us to be everyday examples of His Love. His compassion should flow through our hands and deposit into the others. Here’s the kicker — titles aren’t required to do what is right. Prestige is not important when Love cries out. Everyone has the same opportunity to be an example because everyone was made in the image of the Father. So, president or janitor, God has given us the same orders. There are giants to slay, hearts that need mending, and lives that need enriching. He armed us with His Love. My prayer is that we accept this precious call and carry out the greatest mission in the world.

One of my favorite songs is “We Don’t Need Another Hero” by Tina Turner. It grounds me and uplifts me at the same time. The lyrics are poignant and we could use the reminder as faith walkers.

Respect every office, family, just don’t forget your own cape. God has given you the power of Love and the sword of His Truth to be an example every day… to be a hero for someone in your family, at work, or at the coffee shop.

Stay well out there. Love y’all. Peace & Thanks for listening!

Wednesday Wind Down: Double Vision

Hi, Family!

You’re receiving this post on Thursday because I fell asleep early last night. I decided not to wait until next week to share this short stop, so let’s go!

Have you ever taken an eye exam? If so, you recall closing/covering one eye to read a line of letters. You read what you could, then you repeated the same activity with the other eye.

Did you notice that your previously closed/covered eye was blurred when you switched? Your eyes had to adjust to the change.

In light of everything transpiring in the world, the Holy Spirit reminded me that there is a reason we have two eyes. Using one doesn’t mean that you are incompetent, but it does disadvantage your range of vision.

Photo by Dazzle Jam on Pexels.com

Right now, both eyes are not working together in the Body of Christ and beyond. They want to work independently instead of interdependently. When body parts don’t work together, there’s chaos, inflammation, and disease.

Today, remember that you’re part of an entire organism. Your role is integral in the lifework of this world, but my darling, you are not independent. Yes, you can catch a peripheral view, but it takes both eyes to determine the object’s value. That’s why we turn our heads or glance over when we see something on one side.

You are not a lone ranger. You are not a solo.

Your job as a follower of Christ is to work alongside the rest of the Body even when it seems impossible. To make the whole function better than the part. It’s easy to lose sight of that in the heat of passion or fear, but if we constantly close each eye, we’ll eventually be blinded to each other’s needs as well as blind others from seeing Christ. After all, isn’t that the whole point? To let Him shine through us?

As I celebrate the life of a friend who passed away, I remember God’s Light shining in her. I remember her words, her smile, and her extension of Jesus to me. That’s a part of her that will never die. That’s the part of you that needs to be experienced by someone else.

So, do that. Use both eyes. Don’t let anyone or anything persuade you share the Love of Jesus with total vision. I’m praying for you.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

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