Christian Living

Taking the Jack out of the box

Last week was really busy. We had stuff going on every day; ironic that we spent the week talking about calm on our podcast.

Anyway, as I was attempting to find calm in the middle of the craziness, my knee-jerk reaction was to blame my lack of calm on my circumstances. Isn’t that what we do? If the cat wasn’t sick… if I had more energy… if my schedule was less packed… etc., etc. It’s so easy to look at stress and blame circumstances.

There’s a problem with that though: stress is a heart issue. Applying a circumstance change to a heart issue doesn’t solve anything. It’d be like a doctor giving you headache medicine for your cough. Yeah, they’re both medicine, but it’s not really going to help.

Somehow just recognizing that I was applying the wrong remedy to my problem has made a big difference. When I feel myself getting stressed, I can take a second and ask what’s causing the stress. Instead of telling myself that it’s due to something I have no control over (e.g., having a sick cat) and then being doomed to hang out in the stress until the circumstance change, I’ve been looking for a second answer. Maybe I’m actually stressed about something else and the cat is just triggering my stress. Or maybe I had a bad experience with sick cats.

We all carry baggage of some kind. You might hate vanilla scented candles because your grandmother sprayed vanilla perfume on every blessed thing in her house. Our previous experiences with something can cause it to have more emotional weight than what the isolated thing should weigh.

I’m such a huge fan of EFT/Tapping for working through that stuff. Even if you don’t have PTSD, we’ve also had smaller traumas throughout our lives–it’s just the nature of living in a broken world. And all those smaller traumas are often what’s actually causing our stress. About a year ago, I added Tapping to my morning routine and it’s made a world of difference–it’s now my go-to tool any time I feel stressed. Sometimes when I start Tapping, I’ll find myself saying statements that I didn’t realize were connected to my stress. It’s an amazing tool both for figuring out what’s going on in your heart and for dealing with your heart problems. If you’re not familiar with Tapping, you can check out a tutorial at www.eft.mercola.com.

I’ve been thinking about Ruth and how we need the kind of determination she shows. In Ruth 1, Naomi gives her a couple opportunities to go back to her father’s house. Ruth could have stayed with her family, in her hometown, living with people who were just like her. Instead, she chooses to leave all that to move to a different country where the culture is vastly different. She chooses to take Yahweh as her God.

Dealing with heart problems is hard. It’s not the easy road by any stretch. However, heart problems will just keep coming up every time your circumstances trigger them, until you address them. It’s sort of like a jack in the box–turning the handle may cause the “jack” to jump up, but it doesn’t put him in the box. Take the jack out of the box and you don’t have to dread circumstances.

So, just to recap: stress is a heart problem. A heart problem requires a heart solution–not a circumstances solution. And looking into our hearts, solving the heart problems, that requires some serious determination. I pray God gives you (and me) a dose of the kind of determination Ruth had.

Blog_ Taking the Jack out of the box

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Changing Tribes

Hey guys! Sorry it’s been a few weeks. Illness and computer glitches are not my friends.

Anyway, I think I’ve told y’all that I’ve been taking a couple classes about money–specifically about changing the way you think about money. I’ve definitely seen a big difference. It’s amazing how much of how you handle money as an adult is dependent on what you learned as a child (at least, if you were taught/shown anything about money by the adults around you). In Tapping into Wealth, Margaret Lynch talks about tribal mores. She argues that our families are like tribes and we take on the rules of that tribe. It’s a survival instinct–if you get kicked out of your family as a child (or even as an adult), life gets a lot harder.

One of the exercises she has you go through is to figure out what those tribal mores are for your specific family in the area of finances: how much money you’re allowed to have, how you should feel about rich people, how hard you have to work in order to get that money, etc. There’s a psychological script that we all run based on how we were raised, a “people like us” do x, y, z.

It was illuminating to do that exercise. I realized I have some very limiting beliefs in that area. For example, I discovered that I believe I would have to work more than 120 hours/week in order to have more than enough money to pay the bills–which would be why I’ve never wanted to do it 🙂 I rebelled against that tribal more by deciding my family is more important to me but I didn’t change the belief. Loads of people have money for saving, vacations, and other luxuries without working 120+ hours per week. It’s because they work smarter rather than harder.

As I’ve been doing EFT/Tapping to work through some of these beliefs, I’ve been thinking about how the issue isn’t the beliefs themselves. I mean, they are still a problem. But the root issue has to do with what tribe I belong to. As we become adults, we build our own families and sometimes keep or get rid of tribal mores that our parents instilled. But more than that, as Christians, we belong to God’s family. His tribal mores are what we should be living our lives according to.

So, for instance, God doesn’t tell us to work 120+ hours per week. He tells us that we’re His precious children and that He is our Provider (Matt. 6:25-34; 7:9-11). He tells us to have weekly Sabbath and set up a schedule of yearly “vacations” where His people took a week off of work a few times per year (Ex. 31:14-16; Deut. 16:16). He tells us that in vain do we burn the candle at both ends because we’re designed for sleep–He gives sleep to His beloved (Ps. 127:2).

Another piece of the working that hard bit is this value on pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps. But that’s another thing that isn’t part of God’s values. He values us having faith in Him and going to Him with our problems rather than working day and night to solve our own issues.

I was reminded of a scene in Wild Magic by Tamora Pierce where the main character moves to a different country but continues to dress according to the cultural values of her home country. When someone suggests she switch from heavy skirts to breeches, she’s taken aback. It was shameful and immodest for a woman to wear breeches where she was from, and she has to think about it. She talks about what the priests would say. But then she realizes that she doesn’t live there anymore. She truly can change her behavior without feeling shame, and she enthusiastically does so.

So often that’s me. I’ve changed tribes but I live like I haven’t. I have a new allegiance but I keep the old tribe’s rules. But it doesn’t have to be that way; I belong to God’s family now.

So what about you? What areas in your life are you keeping the tribal mores of your family or culture when God has a different set of rules?