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Three Important Questions to Ask Ourselves

We’ve had our lives tossed upside down like a trailer in a tornado. Which way is up, where is the exit? How do I get off this crazy ride? Disheveled and desperately craving carbs, we crawled out of the rubble to see what was left standing.

As our country begins its long-awaited reopening, we dust ourselves off and look around at what the world has become. This feeling of displacement is unwelcome and uncomfortable. For those of us who struggle with change, it has been a downward spiral of emotions. Squinting in a black hole for the tiniest glimmer of light to find our way back to normal. We’ve all had our momentary breakdowns these last few months, some, not so momentary.

Turns out though, we are more resilient than we gave ourselves credit. That still small voice has been whispering to us, it will be ok; we will get through this. We start taking walks again, listening to the songs around us, the birds, the waves, the crickets at night. We look for explanations, and though they are few, we are reminded that the answer has always been right there in front of us, and even inside us.

The Lord has been speaking to us this whole time. Often, we were too distracted, scared, worried, hungry, despondent, or bored, to hear Him. Instead, we turned on the news and filled out heads with the noise of the day. Guilty. It was easier, it was somehow comforting to share this huge grief with the rest of the world, it was the only thing that made us feel connected. The communal grief, pain, and fear, brought us together and kept us from feeling like we were floating at sea alone.

What now?

Before we can answer this question, I believe we need to ask, “what did I learn?” What did I learn about the world? What did I learn about myself? What do I now cherish that before I took for granted? How has this changed me? How has this changed my marriage and how I parent my children? How different is my friend circle now?

I would encourage you to look in a mirror and ask yourself these three things:

  1. What have I lost that I will miss?

Grieve the losses that broke your heart. Let yourself feel that pain and ask the Father to fill that emptiness with His peace. Let Him heal the broken and wounded parts of us that only He sees.

Also, consider that some of what is lost brought a freedom we didn’t realize we so desperately needed. Ask yourself, what is now gone that needed to go?

2. What coping mechanisms did I turn to?

We crave comfort and grasp at whatever promises peace, if only momentarily. You are not alone, and there is no judgment here, this is about redemption. This is a good time for confession. If we open our hearts, it can be sacred time for repentance and restoration. Lean into His rhythms of grace. He trades forgiveness for confession and pours out peace for our anxiety.

Our relationship with the Father and example of Jesus is the only way to truly fill the emptiness and void that all the vices have promised to fill.

3. What changes do I want to make in me from this day forward?

This is most important. Don’t make promises. Don’t make resolutions. Instead, pray for wisdom about the needed changes that will bring transformation. I believe that, like me, you want to be a better human, you want to contribute in a positive way to this world. That begins by looking in a mirror, examining our hearts, and choosing to transform and grow. Growth comes naturally when given the proper environment. What elements of your environment are contributing to growth and what elements are hindering it? What needs to change? Further weeding may be needed.

Transformation doesn’t happen overnight; it is a journey. We are all on a path, each one unique to the daily decisions we make. If I want to travel to Texas to see my daughter, I don’t start driving in any direction that sounds good at the time, I set my GPS to her address and I follow the map. I can stop along the way, enjoy the ride, take in the scenery, but eventually I get there. However, if I take a turn East and keep driving towards the Atlantic, I’ll never see my daughter.

The question we must ask ourselves is, “where do I want to end up?” These destinations are short and long term. I may have a desire to be more patient with my family, and at the same time, a goal of starting a new business. Each of these is going to require daily disciplines, and both will result in transformation if I stay the course.

I would encourage you to write down where you want to be. This week, this month, this year, and even what you hope your legacy would be. If you don’t know where you are going, you won’t have a plan to get there.

Note the changes you will need to make on this journey to get to your destination.

Author Wendell Berry said:

“It may be that when we no longer know what to do,

we have come to our real work,

and that when we no longer know which way to go,

we have begun our real journey.”

Maybe the blessing of this past few months is that we now see the real work that needs to be done. We can’t do this alone. It takes faith. Faith in God and faith in the people He brings to our journey. He loves us and speaks to us through these people. Look hard and listen well.

So, what now?

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They are socially distanced, perched on tiny little x’s with itty-bitty hand made face masks steaming up their glasses. Oh who am I kidding? My ducks haven’t been seen in a week. Life is ridiculously undone right now and we’re all trying to find our new normal. The ducks are probably driving around looking for teddy bears in front windows.

So, about this pandemic that turned our lives upside down. I daily struggle to wrap my head around it. I have the news on too much because I’ve always been a News-aholic, but it’s become daunting. There are moments when I forget that the whole world is different now. I’ll be working around the house and things will feel normal until my calm is jarred with the reminder of how drastically life has changed this past month.

Schools are closed, I shut the doors of my coffee house, we can’t eat in restaurants anymore or visit with family & friends. Worst of all, people are dying from this horrific corona virus.

The list of losses is long, but so is the list of gains if we are observant.

I have loved spending time at home with my family. I have enjoyed walks in our fields. I am grateful to have spent countless hours in my home baking, cleaning and reorganizing. I have had true moments of much needed rest.

This is a really good time to search our hearts, look deeply into our lives and decide if our path needs reevaluating, refocusing or just straight up change. I’ve reached out to mentors and friends to hash out what life looks like for them and myself on the other side of this situation and I’m seeing a lot of changes on the horizon.

If you are at any type of a cross-road in your life, let me ask you a question that popped into my head a couple weeks ago and has set me on a path I never expected…

“What if you made a decision based on the best thing for you and your family?”

Sadly, that is hard for me. I don’t know about you but I struggle with being a people-pleaser and not wanting to let anyone down. Unfortunately, that has meant letting my own family down more times than I want to admit. These last few weeks have been eye opening to the needs of my family and my own health & emotional needs. I’ve had to look in a mirror and ask myself, what is the best thing for myself and my family?

This has been the perfect time for me to unplug, reset and embrace a fresh outlook on life, I hope you’ve had time and space to do that also.

Is there anything you intend to do differently?

Are you struggling with direction?

Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; He’s the one who will keep you on track. Proverbs 3:5-6 The Message Bible

So, how are your ducks doing?

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Ronel and I met online over 10 years ago, she was one of the first subscribers to this blog of random thoughts on faith and family. Even with over 2,000 miles between us we became fast friends. We were both in a season of feasting on the busy-ness of church life and women’s ministry yet starving for authentic connection. Each of us have flown back and forth to catch up over a cup of coffee and even shared a few speaking events through the years. I love tag-team speaking with Ronel, she is extremely easy going and always has insight that makes you pause.

I have to warn you, if you enjoy being stuck in a rut of mediocrity and hiding in a crowd afraid to step into your truest self, this book is not for you. Ronel did not write this to make you feel warm and fuzzy for 10 minutes and then let it sit boringly on your shelf and gathers dust. Freestyle Faith is written for the woman who wants more from her life. More joy, more fulfillment, more of Jesus. Not the religious Jesus in the picture on the wall whose eyes follow you around the room, but the Jesus who looked at the most hated man in town and called him out of a tree so he could go to his home for dinner. The Jesus who told the local pastors that *“people look at you and think you’re saints, but beneath the skin you’re total frauds.” The Jesus who would not throw stones or even insults at the woman who was clearly guilty of the darkest of sins.

This book will call you out of comfort zones into deeper places of truth. It will shift you away from a complacent-agreeable life that has kept you stuck for longer than you want to admit. Ronel gives you permission to be fully who you were created to be and the tools to guide you through the process.

I have known Ronel long enough to trust her heart and her intentions of this book. She is passionate about helping women not only become who they were meant to be, but also recognize that the journey is the most important part. Freestyle Faith is power-packed with quote worthy material and tidbits of wisdom woven through it. Savor each Conversation around a table with friends or tucked away in your quiet place as you discover who you really are and how to love and appreciate yourself as much as the Father does.

Available now on Amazon:  Freestyle Faith

Check out Ronel’s page here: Ronel Sidney

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