When Weeping Is Prayer

Gina Butz emotions, grief, prayer 4 Comments

When Weeping Is Prayer

Photo by Kwayne Jnr on Unsplash

I read about a family whose 6-year-old twin boys and 9-year-old daughter died while waiting for a bus. I started to pray for the family in their loss, but all I could do was cry. No words.

It’s not the first time. So often, the weight of the needs around me feels too much to put into prayer. Tragedy in our country. A tough diagnosis. A friend’s child’s struggles. My child’s struggles.

Recently, my own work felt overwhelming, and Jesus whispered to me to stop and pray. When I did, tears came instead.

But maybe that is prayer.

Because isn’t prayer about honesty? Isn’t it touching the heart of God? And doesn’t God weep with us?

Prayer is a conversation. He invites, we respond. We come, He listens. And in it, we bring our hearts.

Sometimes maybe the way we love best is not with words, but with emotion. We step into others’ reality. Allow their pain to become ours.

Or we step into our own reality. We allow our pain to show. We let ourselves feel. Our hearts come to the surface, and we let Jesus touch them. We let them be caught and held by the Savior.

After all, that’s what Jesus did. He stepped into our reality. He embraced our humanity. Allowed our pain to become His, to the point of death.

God Weeps with Us

And He does it day after day. He is not the God who stands at a distance., but the One who watches for the prodigal. When He sees him He scoops up His robes and goes running.

He is the God who bears witness to all the pain of the world, even that which others do not know. Closer than a heartbeat, He is El Roi, the God who sees.

He is the God who collects our tears in a bottle, who hears every sigh and sees every longing. What He hopes for from us, more than our words, is our hearts.

There is an aversion in our culture to enter pain. We stand at a distance and pray, but our prayer is more, “God may that never happen to me,” than, “God this is ours to bear together.”

Or, when the hurt is ours, the prayer is, “God make this go away so I don’t have to feel it” rather than “God here is my heart, please hold me in the midst of the battle.”

What Our Weeping Says

There is a difference between weeping from despair, and tears of honesty. The latter is brave-letting ourselves feel our humanity while we face reality before the One who alone can bring redemption of all that is broken.

So I’m learning to let tears be part of my prayer. When they are for others, they are tears that say, “I do not want to stand at a distance from this.” I want to stand alongside them, where Jesus is. Most likely, someday I will need someone else to cry prayers for me.

And when they are for myself, the tears say, “Thank you, Jesus, that you cherish my heart. You do not expect me to go through this alone, but invite me to give it all to you.” They are tears of relief, of surrender.

May we allow weeping to be part of how we communicate with God. May our tears be our prayer, an honest, dependent cry to the One who understands it all.


Related posts:

The Challenge to Rejoice and Weep with Others

What God Doesn’t Need Us to Tell Him 

What to Do When It’s Hard 

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Why I Don’t Have a Word of the Year for 2019

Gina Butz growth, personal, word of the year 1 Comment

Why I Don't Have a Word of the Year for 2019

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

2013 was the first year I chose one word for my resolutions. It seemed simpler-one focus rather than a dozen soon to be abandoned goals. It went pretty well.

I chose one word subsequent years as well. Over time, though, I realized something. During those years, God brought other lessons into my life, unrelated to those words. And it’s hardly my place to say, “Um, excuse me? I’m focused on this ONE THING right now. Come back later.”

Those lessons weren’t short ones, either. Or necessarily new ones. In fact, the same lessons keep coming up over and over. To the point where I get discouraged and say, “God, didn’t we cover this material already? Did I fail the first time? How many times are we going over this?”

Turns out we go over it until we learn it.

What I’m Doing Instead of One Word

So this year I decided: no need to search for a new word. I just need to keep visiting the old ones. Who knows, maybe they’re my lessons for life? I keep learning till I die? Here’s hoping I’m not quite that slow a learner.

And in the interest of authenticity and encouragement and general self-disclosure, I’m going to share those lessons with you. They’ll probably be familiar to you (they could also be titled, “The Themes of Gina’s Blog in the Past Five Years”). I hope they might spur your own Life Lesson List.

  1. Slow Down

    Whenever I think I’ve slowed my life down, God points out a way that it could be even slower. Pretty soon I might be going backward. But He reminds me that He does not value efficiency and productivity the way I do; they are not His goal for me. While they have their place, I want to be someone who journeys well with people, and with my own soul. It is hard to do that when I’m running.

    I want to move at a pace that allows me to hear from the Spirit, to pay attention to the needs around me, to have space to meet them. Hopefully, I will become someone whose spirit invites others to rest and life. I never want my soul to have to catch up to my body. So I will keep seeking a healthy pace.

  2. Love in the Little Things

    One of the biggest things I hope happens when I slow down is the space and awareness to see how I can love others better. This phrase, “love in the little things” has swirled in my mind for months. It’s recognizing the small ways I could love the people God puts in my life.

    It’s often the ways that, if I never did them, they won’t notice. Like sending a card or a text letting someone know I’m thinking of them. Making a meal. Stopping by to say hi. A gift. Honestly, an extra minute of conversation when my temptation is to stay on task. Aside from loving God, loving others is our highest task. So I hope to love in the little things.

  3. Be Poor in Spirit

    When I say this one, people often wonder out loud if it’s a good thing. Well, Jesus said it was, so I’m sticking with it, especially since I can’t say it’s true of me yet. I expect much of myself and others, without realizing it. I spend a lot of energy trying to impress, and my expectation of others often includes them impressing me.

    But I’m done being underwhelmed by life. To be poor in spirit is to be humble and in awe of all that God gives. It precludes entitlement. It assumes nothing, expects nothing, and is then therefore grateful for everything. Being poor in spirit is the way of the kingdom, so I will press on to live well in it.

  4. Ask Audaciously

    The past few years life has brought us bigger issues that have prompted greater prayers. I can’t say He’s answered all of them the way I hoped. But I can say that it has turned me toward Him. It’s strengthened my faith. It’s made me bolder.

    And yet I am aware that I have only just begun to ask for what God might give me. After all, He said He provides more than we can ask or imagine, right? I want to continue to grow not only in the frequency of my requests, but the confidence with which I ask, the hope with which I wait, and the trust I have in any answer. I want Him to say, when I see Him face to face, “Oh child, I’m so glad you asked.” 

  5. Stay at Home with God

    I read this quote recently, “God is at home. It is we who have gone out for a walk” (Meister Eckhart). Yes, I am prone to wander. But in the seasons when I have made it my aim to remember this truth, “I am at home with God and I do not need to search for life elsewhere,” I have lived with the freedom and authenticity I long for. It creates a solid place inside me from which life and love can flow. In fact, I should probably list it first. It is first. God’s greatest desire for us is that we live at home in His love.

    Staying in that truth is a battle, but it is the battle worth fighting. If we don’t believe that His love is enough, we can never slow down-we will continue to seek our value in achievement. We cannot give others a love we do not possess. We can’t be poor in spirit either-we’ll still be looking for proof of our importance. Children ask audaciously when they know they are deeply loved. Staying at home in His love is the key to all of this.

So these are the words/phrases/lessons God keeps bringing around. I hope to grow in them this year. And the next. And probably the next.

I am grateful that He does not give up on us, and the ways He wants us to change. The fact that these stay in my mind are evidence that God is faithful.

What about you? Do you have a word for the year? A new way God is leading you? What do you hope to see happen this year?


Related posts:

Learning to Walk (At an Unhurried Pace)

Ask God for the Pony 

How to Avoid Being Poor in Spirit


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Grace for the New Year

Gina Butz expectations, grace, truth 4 Comments

Grace for the New Year

Photo by Lina Trochez on Unsplash

I woke up one morning soon after Christmas break all ambitious for the day (the 5-word title of my biography will read Maybe She Was too Ambitious). I planned a few hours of writing, a few hours of talk planning.

But then we had an unexpected doctor visit (all’s well, thanks for asking). That’s alright, I thought-a little less writing, a little less planning.

And then I realized how tired I was. So I decided on a 20-minute nap.

4 times in a row.

While I went in and out of sleep, I felt that old nagging friend, Anxiety, whispering, “You’re not getting things done,” and her companion, Guilt, “some start to the new year. I mean seriously, it’s day 3 of being back to productivity.”

But then, Grace showed up. And Grace said, “Apparently you need sleep. Good thing you’ve got time next week. It’ll be okay. It will happen. One day that doesn’t go as planned does not derail your life.”

It doesn’t take long into a new venture for those old voices to start whispering to us. Maybe we bit off more than we can chew. It might be too hard. Do we really need to go to the gym? How important is that habit I wanted to start? Is that dream actually worth pursuing?

It’s easy to fall into an all or nothing mentality. If I’m not doing it well, maybe it’s not worth doing. If I skip a day, fall short, miss an opportunity, maybe I shouldn’t have tried in the first place.

But that’s a life without the voice of Grace. We won’t get far into our adventures this year without it.

What Grace Says

Scripture says the righteous person falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble in times of calamity (Proverbs 24:16).

The wise woman hits repeat four times on her alarm and then rises to try again, but the foolish one lets the negative voices tell her she’s disqualifying herself.

In the pursuit of the goals, habits, and dreams we hope to accomplish this year, we will stumble. Grace is the voice saying, “get back up, you’re not done.”

Grace says one day doesn’t take us out. Or a week of days. Or even a month. It says we can still hope, and God doesn’t desert, and this is all part of being human.

Grace might be the best companion we have all year. The best workout buddy, the greatest accountability partner, our biggest cheerleader.Twitter

So let’s bring Grace along this year in every endeavor. Let it be the voice that speaks loudest in your mind whenever you get sidetracked. Listen to it call you to freedom and rest. May it be the voice that encourages you to keep going.


Related posts:

Grace for the Less Than Ideal Days

Grace Will Take Us Places Hustling Can’t


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Speak Your Dream Out Loud

Gina Butz expectations, hope, personal, perspective 1 Comment

Speak Your Dream Out Loud

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Accountability is a beast, isn’t it? I once trained for a 10K, but I didn’t tell anyone except my husband. The morning of, I thought, “No one knows I signed up. If I don’t go (and my body was telling me that was a good idea) no one would know.”

But I went. And I ran a pretty good time.

When you speak your dreams and goals out loud, then it all matters, doesn’t it? And that’s exactly why we should do it.

When I Learned to Speak My Dream

For the last six years, a dream stirred in me. I wanted to write a book. The first couple of years, I wrote by myself in Panera and the public library and Starbucks. Once, a stranger asked me what I was doing. I told him, “I’m a writer.” He was incredibly impressed, and I felt like a complete fraud.

I don’t remember when I first told someone, “I’m writing a book.” I do remember that as the years passed, and the book still wasn’t finished, and then it wasn’t published, I grew sheepish. Ashamed that I had told anyone I was attempting this. Because accountability.

I should have kept my mouth shut, right? But no. I’m glad I didn’t. Because when we put our dreams out there, they become a little more real. And others rally around us. Or not. But that’s irrelevant. Because we are meant to speak our dreams out loud.

Why We Should Speak

Because this is what I know: when something good stirs in us, it’s from God. It’s not just a pipe dream-it’s the whisper of a calling. It might be more than just an idea; it might be the very thing you’re called to do.

And when we say it out loud, we honor what He puts in us. It makes us a little braver, or at the very least, slightly less willing to set it aside. And maybe that in itself is bravery.

Speaking our dreams awakens hope. It opens our hearts. It makes us stand a little taller, try a little harder, look a little further.

Maybe the dream won’t come true. Maybe God will transform it into something else. Something better, even. His ways are even higher than ours, so why not start with speaking the dreams He’s given us? It’s the only way to move toward seeing the bigger things He has in store.

Hope is scary. But so is letting it die. People keep asking me what I’m looking forward to in 2019. When I say, “My book getting published” it feels like a surreal, delightful dream come true.

I’m so glad I never gave up. And I’m so glad for those who heard my dream and wouldn’t let me forget it.

It wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t spoken it out loud and invited others to encourage my dream.

My Challenge to You

So dream big this year, friends. Speak your dreams out loud. Anything from, “I’m going to run a marathon,” to, “I’m going to love better,” to, “I’m going to reach my neighborhood.”

What goals do you have as you begin this new year? What dream is stirring in you? Will you be brave to say it out loud?

Ask God to awaken something in you. Speak it out. Then see what happens.

Not Alone Because of Christmas

Gina Butz Christmas, faith, loved 0 Comments

Never Alone Because of Christmas

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

I’m not a fan of being alone, at least not for long. (That might surprise some of you who see my introvert side). The loneliness I avoid runs deeper than “who can I talk to at this party?” It’s the fear that ultimately, it’s all up to me to take care of myself.

I’ve talked about it before, this fear. It shows up in my efforts to rescue myself, and everyone around me. I reveal it when I try to pick up all the worries in my life and fix them without others’ help.

When I’m striving to look like I’m all put together, it’s usually because I’m afraid that if I don’t impress, you’ll leave. Rather than leaning into God for help, I charge ahead, alone.

Really, it’s a fear that I’m not enough. Loneliness sometimes feels like an indictment, doesn’t it? Like there must be a reason I’m alone. If I’d been more interesting, more worth the trouble, more something, I wouldn’t be by myself. It’s not. 

And this is why I love Christmas.

Because now, God is with us. Immanuel. The one who is the same yesterday, today, and forever, is now our constant.

Christmas declares that we are not alone. We never have to be alone again.

Christmas proclaims to the world that everything that might keep us from others-our failure, our mistakes, our deficiencies, our “not enough” or our “too much”-does not keep us from the love of God.

In fact, before we even asked, before we even knew we needed it, God decided to remedy our loneliness. Jesus’s birth mended the brokenness in our relationship with Him, and subsequently, in us.

And if He went through all the trouble of coming for us in the first place, He’s not going to leave us now.

The fear that drives me to rescue myself and everyone around needs to simmer in the greatest rescue story ever told, when the Hero stole into enemy territory under cover of darkness to find me because He just had to be with me.

When I’m tempted to pick up all those worries and fix them myself, Immanuel reminds me that He didn’t just come to save us from our sin, but to save us from ourselves. He is with us in the midst of the anxieties, not with condemnation but with comfort and help.

Jesus’s willingness to be with me speaks to the part of me who believes I have to prove that I’m worth having around. He came before we ever did a thing.

And though I forget again and again to lean into Him, He patiently waits, available. He is with us in the middle of every trial, every tear, every heartache, closer than our own hearts.

The one who is with us is the giver of peace, the God of comfort, the Father who won’t fail us, our greatest counsel.

We are never alone, because He is with us.

I’ve had to remind myself this over and over again lately because it’s hard. The self-sufficiency that served me and others so well and for so long in my life is not why Jesus came. He didn’t come to affirm my self-reliance, but to take it away. He came to heal it.

So this Christmas, this is the thought I’m choosing to dwell on: I am not alone. Immanuel. He is with me. With us.

“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

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Grace Will Take Us Where Hustling Can’t

Gina Butz grace 0 Comments

Grace will take you places hustling can't

Photo by frank mckenna on Unsplash

If you’ve been to any kind of sporting event, you’ve likely heard (or said yourself), “C’mon, let’s hustle!” Move faster, stay ahead of the game, git ‘er done.

Hustling is a high value in our society-those who do get ahead. They win.

But hustling pays a price. When we do it for too long, it becomes the way we feel we must live in order to survive. There’s no peace, no finish line.

We begin to believe we are what we do. We depend more and more on our own strength. The hustling defines us.

And then probably somewhere along the way those who hustle fall down exhausted, because no one is meant to live that way for the long haul.

But then there’s grace. Imagine yelling that at a sporting event, “It’s all grace, baby!” Think what that would do (aside from stink eye from other parents).

Hustling might take us faster, but where does it leave us?

Maybe grace could take us farther.

Where Grace Takes Us

Grace takes us to freedom. It lets us fail, and get back up again, and in the process, we learn more.

Grace says slow is an acceptable, maybe even preferable, pace. It might take longer to get there, but we have stamina for the long haul.

Grace opens the door for us to be ourselves in ways hustling never allows. It tells us that we are a gift just as we are, not as we think we ought to be.

And grace invites others to join us on that journey. As the African proverb says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

We were made for grace, for a way of life that says, “you’re okay. Stop trying so hard. It’s been done for you. Relax into it.” So when we live in grace, we live like we’re home.

It’s hard to undo patterns of hustling. Hard to shut out the voices around us that say, “Prove your worth.” Grace sometimes feels too good to be true, like we’re letting go and just treading water.

But instead of treading water, maybe it’s learning to grab hold of the liferaft that’s always been there. It’s letting go of striving and resting in what’s been done for us. We stop our desperate swimming and walk to shore. 

So today I want to see where I’m hustling-working hard to earn my place and prove my worth. And then I want to remember that grace is the better option. Let go. Be yourself. We’ll go farther this way.

Related posts:

Let’s Be the Grace Givers

Learning to Walk (At an Unhurried Pace)

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What I’m Thankful For Today

Gina Butz gratitude 0 Comments

What I'm Thankful For Today

Photo by Simon Maage on Unsplash

On this day of Thanksgiving, I thought I’d start out with a list of what I’m thankful for.

As I reflect, I’m overwhelmed by my gifts. Really, I’m #blessed beyond measure.

Why I’m Thankful

See, I woke up this morning in my own bed. There was a roof over my head without a single leak in it. Our AC works when it’s hot, and I have covers when it’s cool. Thank God.

I woke up with full possession of all my faculties. My eyes worked. There was breath in my lungs. All my senses were available to me. I awoke pain-free. Thank God.

There was running water in my house, even clean enough to drink. Our electricity is on too, which is awesome. We live in this house that is more space than we need. On top of that, we can afford the mortgage on it. Thank God.

I’ll admit, we had no milk, but we didn’t go without because the cupboards are stocked with plenty of food. Nothing in our house is currently broken, but if it was, we can probably afford to fix it. Thank God.

Since we don’t have to walk miles to get water or find food, I had time to sit and read. Y’all-I can read! Wow, I’m grateful for that. I can read and write, and I had leisure time to do it. Thank God.

Our son needed pants since apparently living two hours north is much colder than here (especially when he rides the electric skateboard he is blessed to have that gets him around the campus where he’s privileged to learn). So we got into a car that we can afford gas for, and that runs great, and drove to the store. Thank God.

And at the store, we used phones to stay in touch with each other, and a gift card to offset the cost, and we found what he needed and then some, and we didn’t have to think about what we might have to give up to be able to wear clothes. Thank God.

Friends, I could go on and on. And this is just the bare minimum. Because for the most part, every day I wake up all these things are true, and those alone should make me the most grateful person alive.

More to Be Thankful For

I didn’t even begin to express my gratitude for the people in my life-my husband, who is kind, trustworthy, and supportive. Or our kids, who are just my favorite people on the planet and make us proud every single day. Our church, community group, neighbors, and dear friends-these great people who do life with us. Did I mention I have a new nephew? I do. He’s the cutest. My family is such a blessing. Thank God.

I didn’t mention that I enjoy what I do for a living. What I do feels more like love than work. My mind still can’t wrap about the fact that this time next year I will be a published author. I’m also grateful that I can spend part of my time home raising my kids. Thank God.

And when I’m not working, I can afford to play. I have passions and gifts and interests, and the time to enjoy them. Thank God.

Above all, I have Jesus. Everything I’ve mentioned could disappear, but not Him. Not what He’s given me. Salvation alone is more than enough, more than I deserve.

And yet He gives still more. Every morning the breath in my lungs, all that I am able to see, the abilities I have, are all unexpected, unmerited gifts. Joy, peace, grace, mercy, and love are poured over me daily. Thank God.

Sometimes it’s hard to be thankful. Some seasons knock the wind out of us. It’s tough to be grateful in the middle of a storm.

But even in the storm, we have much. Let’s start there. Let’s be thankful.


Related posts:

Panning for Gold: When Gratitude Is Hard 

It’s All in How You Look at It

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Don’t Miss the Journey

Gina Butz faith, gratitude, perspective 1 Comment

Don't miss the journey

Photo by Lili Kovac on Unsplash

I’m the kind of girl who focuses on the end goal-not much for taking in the scenery. I was reminded of this last summer while on vacation near the Smokey Mountains.

One morning our group of 14 ventured out in several cars to go whitewater rafting. In our car was one person who insisted on stopping for “real” coffee (I don’t know what this means. I don’t understand coffee), so we lagged behind the others.

The arranger of our trip wanted us on a tight schedule, so we weren’t exactly starting the day off on the right foot. The optimists in the car were sure we could make up the time (I was not one of them).

But then our route took us through the mountains, and they just kept getting more beautiful. The higher we drove, the more breathtaking it became. It was criminal not to stop and take it in.

With each stop, I was conscious that the rest of our group was waiting for us. The timekeeper in me nagged a little, but was silenced by views like this:

And this:

And this:

With each stop, I realized that while what was waiting for us at the end of the trip was exciting, the journey was just as amazing as the destination. If we only focused on the end, we would have missed the beauty along the way.

What We Can Find on the Journey

How easy it is to live so much in anticipation of what lies ahead that we miss what is here. It’s not about the destination; it’s about what we experience on the way.

If we are people who only look ahead, we never really arrive. Or if we rush along the way, never stopping to take in the view, we rob ourselves of joy in the journey.

Because there’s good along the way. There are things we should stop and celebrate. We can stop and measure for a minute how far we’ve come, even if we have far to go. We can enjoy the greater and greater views.

In the journey of faith, slowing down helps us see what God is doing. Taking time to look around leads to worship and gratitude. Seeing that we are not where we were reminds us that God is faithful. It gives us courage and hope that He will keep working. God isn’t anxious for us to be “done.” He loves us every step of the way.

What are the stones of remembrance that mark my walk with God? How can I stop, celebrate, and give Him glory for what He’s doing in me? I might still have far to go, but the view keeps getting better. That’s worth rejoicing in.

What’s your view look like right now?

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Choosing Slow

Gina Butz grace, peace, rest 0 Comments

Choosing Slow

Photo by Alex Blăjan on Unsplash

If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you know I like efficiency. (It’s the hallmark trait of an Enneagram 3).

The faster I work, the more I get done. If I get more done, I’m more likely to be seen, recognized, successful, valuable. Or so the logic goes.

And so, I move quickly.

I drive, as I like to say, like I’m trying to lose someone. Not super fast, but fast enough.

Despite never taking a typing class, I type quickly (and with terrible form I imagine, but it gets the job done).

Each week, I speed through my housework like a Tasmanian Devil.

I dare you to keep up with me at the airport. Or anywhere, for that matter. I’m short, but I’m fast.

Grocery shopping. Packing my bags. You name it-I guarantee I am mentally calculating how to get it done as fast as possible.

It’s like I’m playing a game of “whoever does more wins.” Faster feels better. It feels like winning.

I don’t do slow.

Or at least, I historically haven’t. God started me on a journey in the spring of reclaiming space in my life. Turns out it’s more than just doing less. It’s doing less at a slower pace. Living an unhurried life.

I’m learning that having less in my schedule doesn’t necessarily mean my soul is taking life at a slow pace.

As Mark Buchanan says in The Rest of God, we are meant to sabbath, “not just a day, but as an orientation, a way of seeing and knowing.” Slow is not just about time, but it’s an attitude, a way of living.

So lately, I have to ask myself, “What’s wrong with slow, Gina?” What do I gain by all this hurry?

Maybe the better question is: What do I lose?

When I make it my aim to drive as quickly as possible, my body stays in a state of tension. Slow drivers irritate me, my patience wears thin. Other people become nothing more than obstacles. My focus is on my pace, more than anything else around me, including those with me.

When I type quickly, I feel myself ramping up. The, “more is better” lie whispers in my ear.

A day of housework at top speed leaves me exhausted, depleting me of reserves I could have spent elsewhere.

When I race through airports and stores and down the sidewalk, I miss life along the way. I miss the people around me.

And all for a few extra minutes, one more task completed, another email sent.

All this speed makes my soul feel left behind. There’s no space, no rest. Getting more done, getting there sooner, doesn’t guarantee more life, more love, more anything. I’m left impatient, exhausted, and irritated.

For the sake of my soul, I’m choosing slow.

So I’m choosing to drive slower than I could. When someone in front of me is taking their time, I often change my speed to match theirs. There’s a long stretch out to our neighborhood where the speed limit is 55. Recently I found myself barely driving 50 down it. (I used to hate people like me).

I’m slowing my typing too. It’s hard to do-fast habits are hard to break. But there’s a release of tension when I intentionally do slow (bonus: I mistype things less too).

Recently, I flew to Little Rock, Arkansas. When the people in front of me walked like they had all day to get to the gate, I was tempted to swerve around them. Instead, I took a breath and kept walking with them. It was good.

As I make these choices, something unwinds in my soul. Breathing comes easier. I remember I’m not as important as I think I am. I find peace I didn’t know was there.

Now I’m looking for other places where I could do slow. When I feel the temptation to speed, I ask myself what I hope to gain from it. And what I could gain from an unhurried pace instead: patience, gentleness, grace, rest.

Where do you need to be slow?

Related posts:

Learning to Walk (at an Unhurried Pace)

Warning: Don’t Forget to Breathe

To Be Truly Still

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What Is Anger’s Real Name?

Gina Butz emotions, grief, perspective 8 Comments

What is anger's real name?

Sometimes on New Year’s Eve, when I’m feeling ambitious and intentional about our family relationships, we review the year together. One question we ask our kids is, “what’s one thing you learned this year?”

Our last year overseas, our then 10-year-old said, “I’ve learned that anger is a secondary emotion,” and I high fived myself.

Partly because it felt like I nailed something good in parenting, but mostly because I was glad our kids learned it so much sooner than I did.

It was something I learned that year too, mostly because I experienced a lot of it (we got a dog. It was hard. I got angry. Really angry).

Anger is a secondary emotion, meaning that it’s not all we’re feeling. When we’re angry, it’s usually because we’re feeling something else, something that feels vulnerable. So anger, which makes us feel big, covers the emotion that makes us feel small.

Anger was a theme that year for our whole family. It rose in me when we got our dog and everything in my life fell apart. Our daughter lived in it the summer before we moved back to the U.S.

For me, the anger covered shame, the shame of failure, of not living up to my image of a successful homeschooling, dog training missionary. Our daughter’s anger masked the fear she felt in being so completely out of control and sad in the process of leaving home.

What Anger Tells Us

Anger is a good barometer. We get angry when something we love feels threatened. Often it’s our image. Or it’s a way of life we’re trying to hold onto. Maybe our deepest desires feel threatened-our desire to be wanted, important, safe, right.

Anger doesn’t always show up as rage. In fact, often it doesn’t. It disguises itself as sarcasm, criticism, stubbornness, contempt. It slips out in clipped words and impatience.

Most of us don’t linger in anger for long. It feels wrong. We dismiss it, stifle it, or blow it off quickly, rather than allowing it to be a doorway into something deeper.

When we don’t linger, we never get to the bottom of what we’re really feeling. And we need to.

Because if we sit with our anger long enough, it will tell us its real name.Twitter

The Names of Anger

It might tell us its name is grief. Maybe shame. Fear. Fear of losing control, fear of not being enough. Weakness. Confusion. Despair. Beneath our anger is our true emotions that need to see the light of day so we can deal with them.

This fall, I was, in my husband’s words, “kind of mean.” That’s fair. (He was being gracious-there are stronger words he could use).

He said maybe I didn’t have much emotional margin after sending our son off to school, the prayer rollercoaster God took us on this summer, and the business of gearing up for a conference this fall that I’m leading.

Regardless, I’m glad he said something. It gave me an opportunity to sit with my anger and see what it was hiding. It told me I felt unimportant, lonely, unheard, in certain areas. As I sat with those more raw emotions, my anger began to dissipate.

Don’t ignore anger. Pretending it doesn’t exist, or dismissing it without question robs us of the path to deeper emotional health and wholeheartedness. Sit with it. Dialogue with it. Let it tell you what you’re really feeling.

What is your anger’s real name?


Related posts:

Looking Scary (When We’re Scared)

When Fear Is a Dictator

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