Last Sunday many central Kentucky churches and businesses were closed due to eight to twelve inches of snow on the ground. This Sunday the temperature is expected to be in the sixties. Kentuckians like to say, "If you don't like the Kentucky weather, be patient because it will change." Not only Kentucky's weather, but things change. At the counseling Center, I often deal with people who are in some type of transition or significant change. The transitions may be such events as a change in jobs, positions or relationships in a business, children off to college, divorce, death, moving to a new community, etc. As a former Pastor of 21 years, I also sit with ministers and spouses who have been dismissed from their ministry position. Many of these transitions have been created by a decision others have made. In his book TRANSITIONS, William Bridges writes about making a good ending, going through the neutral zone and making a good beginning. He writes that going through the neutral zone is a significant time. In that neutral zone, which can last for an undetermined period of time, it is important to pay attention to ideas, thoughts, feelings, dreams, etc. He recommends that one keep some type of journal. His thesis is that during such a neutral zone, there will be new ideas, thoughts, dreams, plans, etc. that would not have materialized without the transition and those things will bring new energy. I think paying attention to the neutral zone, is something like listening to one's self. I like this quote from Rachel Naomi Remen, "When you listen generously to people they can hear the truth in themselves for the first time." Sometimes it is important that we listen to ourselves, as well as others, so that we can be attentive to the deep self that nudges us toward all that God desires for us. Transitions may be opportunities for significant growth.
Friday, January 22, 2016
There appears to be a bunch of different voices who seem to have taken up a residence in my thoughts. They even have a lot of influence for my decisions and behaviors. For example, there is the "Critic" voice. That voice is very negative. It reminds me that almost nothing I do is really good enough. It sees the glass as always half empty. My critic voice can cause me to even wonder if there is anything in the glass or even, if I have the correct glass. The critic voice must take delight in pointing out all of my attitudes, actions, words, etc. that are less than desirable. That voice can also be very critical of others, even if they don't deserve it. The critic seems to have a big voice and a "pointy finger." There is also the "Worrier" voice who must have taken up a large space in my head. The worrier is so skilled that it can discover almost anything about which to worry. That voice can worry about things that have never happened, probably, won't ever happen and certainly aren't happening now. It has the ability to even worry when things are going well. However, just because things are going well doesn't keep that voice quiet in my head. Worry seems to have a "whiny" voice. Worry must carry around a large bag of "anxiety dust" because it can spread that dust everywhere. There is also a voice in my mind that says, "Hush" or "Be quiet." Sometimes, it tries to speak to the critic and the worry voices, but they usually don't pay any attention. I wish my "Be Quiet," "Hush" or even "Shut up" voice had a more forceful aspect because it often gets ignored by the others. I think my "Wise" voice is saying that we need to encourage my "Be Quiet" voice to be more forceful so the other voices will hush.
Saturday, January 16, 2016
I'm not good at waiting, especially when someone else is in control. I was that child who rode in the backseat of the auto and would repeatedly ask, "Are we there yet?" I seem to be stuck in a time of waiting. I have to wait for additional tests and results from heart related procedures. At the office we are waiting to see what the University might do regarding a parking lot. I'm waiting on some insurance companies to determine whether or not they choose to place me on their panels and referral lists. I'm also waiting for the stock market to rebound and recover what has been lost in our retirement funds. It is difficult for me to stay focused on the present in the midst of pending changes. My mind wants to play the 'what if ...' or 'let's try to imagine the future' game. I realize that it is a mental and emotional game that has no certain outcome because I'm not in control and probably not even knowledgeable of all the facts. In spite of my rational brain, I continue to play the game as a way of preparing for the 'whatever.' It isn't easy to pray with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, "Not my will, but Thine be done." I don't think it was easy for him, either. Nevertheless, I keep praying that prayer even though I really want the office to have use of that parking lot and to be on those insurance panels. Who do I ask about when the stock market is going to rebound? I really want to ask someone--whoever that is--"Are we there yet?" Waiting isn't easy an easy discipline.