Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Calm Down: I Have Stilled and Quieted My Soul

Even the chapter title of Chapter 7, Self Talk Soul Talk causes me to take a deep breath and pause.

A counselor once told me that, on a scale of one to ten, (one being "calm", ten being "spun up") she thought I might always function at about a six. I agreed.
Since that conversation somewhere around ten years ago, I have spent much time practicing "Calm Down". Seasons of this work have been spent allowing the Lord to still and quiet my soul, but other seasons have been spent like a volcano, erupting at every disturbance.

This chapter speaks to the very heart of my thought closet.

Seventeen months ago, I began doing things differently in regard to anger in my life. Between months seventeen and thirteen, I failed quite a few times. The result? It seemed like insanity. It felt like I was out of control. I was, but it was not myself who needed to reign me in, it was God. In February of last year, an incident took place in my life where He finally got my attention, my total and complete attention. My life has not been the same since, to His glory. My anger was out of control, my words hurt in ways that still ring in my ears, and now, whenever I feel that little rise of anger, I nearly drop on my knees in prayer. Only He can keep me on the right path, only He has control of all things, and I surrender to Him.

I love the list that Jennifer published...the things that we DO have control over. Being one who has big issues with control (still a work in progress), I recite to myself often that I only have control over two things, my attitude and my location. Jennifer's list is a little more detailed and very helpful.
  • We have control over our own attitudes.
  • We have control over our responses to circumstances.
  • We have control over our choice to seek God.
  • We have control over our determination to be still before Him.
  • We have control over our choice to acknowledge that He is God - and we are not!
So, back to my thought closet.

The thoughts I am looking at in this chapter are the ones that hinder me from having real peace.

The negative mind-set.
I love the illustration of anger producing circumstances as forming a bridge; a bridge to take me somewhere else and allowing for progress and new vistas along my journey.

Anger over adversity.
I don't like adversity but it is a part of life. The serenity prayer comes to mind here.
God,
Grant me the serenity to accept the things that I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.

When I pray this prayer with sincerity, it does bring peace in times of adversity. I like what Jennifer says, "Ask God to help you embrace what you can't avoid, accept what you don't like, and channel you passion into wise responses."

And then stubborn defiance.
I have wasted too many years being angry over things that I had no control over. And even though some of those situations were truly wrong, I was defiant when I did not allow God to handle it and I tried to take the situation into my own hands. WHEW! The truth is A-N-G-E-R really is only one letter short of D-A-N-G-E-R. I have lived it. Don't want to go back. When defiance rears it's ugly head, I dump that garbage as quickly as I can. Lesson learned here, but always praying against it in the future.

Words.
I have used and received my share of gasoline words...the ones that fuel the fire of anger. Gasoline words do make things worse. Oh, Lord, let me not use these kind of words when I talk to others or when I talk to myself. Let me use the soothing words of water, gentle words, healing words, and words that cleanse.

Seventeen months ago, I made a serious decision to do things differently. I have spent too many years doing the same thing and expecting different results. And even though I sometimes fall and fail, I am ready to change things up, to really give God control of these thoughts and to experience the PEACE that only He can provide.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27

For more on Self Talk Soul Talk, visit Lelia at Write From The Heart.

6 comments:

grey like snuffie said...

Oh, the anger/danger thing....wow.

Laura said...

Oh, friend,

Whatever happened those months ago, He is using it for His glory. You inspire with your faith and steadfast spirit. Struggling with anger...mine is not knowing how to release it. Always keeping it in until it does explode. This chapter is wonderful and has helped me tremendously this week.

Water words,
Laura

hkudla said...

Thank you so much for sharing your heart with us... for being so open.
May God bless you as you continue this path of cleaning up your thought closet!

Heather

Paula (SweetPea) said...

I love the "anger is one letter away from danger." That's good.

I can so relate to what you said about something happening 17 months ago and you dealing with anger and your words. It's strange, I didn't really see myself in your words and your description of anger UNTIL...until you said the word "words". I stopped in my tracks and it's like it clicked. My words were very angry...my world stopped and changed drastically 19 months ago. (19 1/2 but not that I'm counting).

"my words hurt in ways that still ring in my ears,"---oh how true that is. The words that spewed out of my mouth...what shame in what I spewed.

I love this: " now, whenever I feel that little rise of anger, I nearly drop on my knees in prayer." Oh, how I wish that could've been me before my 19 months. But, I'm trusting He has a reason and allowed it all for His purpose. My pain for His purpose, right?

Thanks for sharing your heart, Liz.
Love,
Paula

Carol said...

Liz,

The Serenity prayer I have a copy of it posted at my desk. I to loved the list of what's left in my control.

I've never been one to understand how to release my anger. It wasn't until 2 years ago where a friend helped me to express my anger at Brett but in a way that helped me to choose my words.

The anger being one letter away from danger. Wow that's so true, Danger to us and to our soul.

Your such an inspiration of holding strong to your faith, and God's glory is shinning through you.

Love,
Carol

Stacy said...

I loved reading your words: "Only He can keep me on the right path, only He has control of all things, and I surrender to Him."

I continue to be amazed at how much that type of thought brings such peace at times, and such turmoil at others. Oh, to fully know how to surrender.

I so agree with Laura...whatever did happen...God is using it for His glory. You have been such an encouragement to me and I have so appreciated your honest, loving, expressive words.

I am praying that maybe one weekend we can meet somewhere for that good ol' Tex-Mex meal :).

With Love, Stacy