Some things just wont change. Ever. However much I try or pray.
I can’t change the pain and hurt people have caused me, or the death of my mum and sister Jo. I can’t go back and not get cancer or save Al from burning out.
We all live with a past we cannot change. With hurts and pain we cannot undo.
[Tweet “”We all live with a past we cannot change.” ~@NikiBHardy”]
Maybe you’re wading through the dark waters of grief, or exhausted by children with special needs. Perhaps you’ve been overlooked at work or dumped by the man you gave your heart to.
I’d love to drive on over and change all that for you.
Wave my magic wand and Biperty, Boperty, Boo! Life’s all hunky dory again.
But I can’t – I’m no fairy godmother.
Most of us, in some way or another, are living a life we didn’t choose or expect.
Tiffany’s my counselor, my it hurts and I can’t stop thinking about it person, my I don’t want to feel this way anymore, person, my I know I need to forgive these people but I can’t, no, make that, I don’t want to because I’m still spitting fire, person.
She’s a gem.
I was there yesterday, in her cosy office. She sunk into an armchair, her note pad resting on her lap, while I squirmed slightly on the couch, sipping my tea.
Tiffany’s helped me realize I may not be able to change the facts, but I can change the way I feel about them. There’s tough stuff lurking in my life I don’t have the power to change; yet I do have the ability to change the emotions triggered.
She’s taught me to work to change the way I feel about the things I cannot change, rather than stay in the pain fertilizing resentment and unforgiveness.
Over the last couple of years I’ve realized my emotions change slowly, frustratingly slowly. They may arrive like a bat out of hell but when they’ve made themselves at home they don’t want to leave. It takes time, perseverance, and a process.
Here’s how I’m gradually changing the way I feel about painful, unchangeable events:
1) Stop Moving
When I come face to face with my ugly emotions, and I’m trapped between equal urges to fight or flee, my go to displacement activity is to keep moving, keep busy, keep doing. In perpetual motion there’s no time to feel, which is wonderful, until we hit a wall. Then it’s painful and oh so ugly and messy. Taking time to sit and think it through with God (on your own or with your very own Tiffany) is crucial to changing our emotions.
[Tweet “Taking time to sit and think things through is crucial to changing our emotions.”]
2) Dig Deeper
I confess I’m horrible at naming emotions. Resentment, grief, jealousy, and a sack full of other negative emotions, all feel like anger to me. Often I have no idea what I’m feeling, I just know my heart is pounding, my mind is swirling, and I have a unruly desire to lash out. I have to dig deep to figure out what’s going on. That’s why I had to hand the shovel over to Tiffany, giving her permission to dig with awkward counseling questions.
It’s not until we see our emotions for what they are, in all their painful messy glory, that we have a chance of changing them. We cannot change what we do not know. A leopard cannot change spots he doesn’t know he has.
[Tweet “It’s not until we see our emotions for what they are that we have a chance of changing them.”]
3) Listen to Your Mind Talk
Mind talk is just what it says it is. The stuff we say to ourselves, the cassette playing over and over in our head. Sometimes we hear it, sometimes it’s on mute, but either way it’s talking to our hearts. What are you telling yourself about your situation, your emotions?
Tiffany helped me hear my mind talk playing over my unforgiveness:
If I forgive them I have to release justice (aka revenge!) to God.
I don’t want to do that because I know He forgives them.
That’s not good enough – I want Him to be mad at them, too.
I want Him on my side, not theirs.
I want Him to choose me.
Oh ouch. That’s raw and a smidge ugly; but oh so human.
4) Counter with Truth
As I dug deep, propelled (and sometimes shoved) by Tiffany, I found the root; the trigger button.
I want to be the one chosen.
My heart aches to be the one chosen, not left out.
And yet I am chosen. He chose me.
And He chose you, too.
“In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will…” (Ephesians 1:11).
Aching to be chosen may not be your trigger button, the place you go to when you dive into your mind talk, but wherever you end up, whatever lie you are telling yourself, God has a truth to counter it.
[Tweet “Whatever lie you are telling yourself, God has a truth to counter it.”]
Find it, memorize it. Repeat it.
As we replace the lies we tell ourselves with God’s truth, we change the way we feel about things we cannot change.
Dear friend, I’d love to have the power to Biperty, Boperty, Boo! your painful past away. I really would. But that would be a quick fix, an easy out, that wouldn’t leave either of us closer to God or closer to knowing who we are in Him. Surely that’s the better goal? To know and be known by God, right in middle of our painful, broken lives, because it’s there that He can comfort us, help us forgive others, and heal our wounds.
To help you counter those pesky lies we tell ourselves, I’ve written you a love letter from God. It’s made entirely of bible verses to tell you how much He loves you and how special you are to Him. You can download it HERE and read it in the car, in the bath, or each morning before you head boldly into your day.