But that’s the whole premise of Lysa Terkeurst’s message in her book, Unglued, and the devotional. It’s okay that life is messy sometimes and it’s okay that I don’t necessarily finish something I set out to do when I intend to finish it. The goal is progress. And progress is what I’ve made. So while I didn’t finish the devotional – okay, I’ll admit I didn’t even make it a third of the way – nor have I finished the video I bought to watch that goes coincides with the book (Unglued) – what I have done is kept her words and concepts in my mind and heart and made progress with it. I have kept her words (and yes, the Word of the Lord) in my mind during conflict much, much more than I ever have before. And that has kept me from becoming Unglued in moments where I know, before, would have set me off in the past. I am less loud less often. That is progress, no matter how imperfect it may be.
I am trying hard to remember what Lysa teaches. I do not have to be perfect in making my changes to call it progress. My past does not define me. Our history is not what our future must hold. We are all capable of imperfect progress.
So I will continue. I will work to learn how to react better to stress that surrounds me just as it surrounds most of us. I will work to learn to relax and not worry so much. I will continue to make progress in responding more and reacting less. Reading the devotional (and God’s word) is just part of this.
What do you do to keep yourself on your journey of Imperfect Progress?
So while I'm on my quest for imperfect progress, I'm still on my quest for stress management which really coincides well. I know when I'm stressed, I become unglued more often.
The first chapter I completed in my book on Stress Management was titled Goal Setting and Time Management. I figured it would give the basic time management strategies one usually hears:
Make a daily to-do list
Block out media distractions
Get up earlier
Go to bed earlier
Be reasonable and don't over plan your day.
You know, basic stuff. The stuff everyone knows we should do but don't always do it.But the chapter really actually spent a lot of time on goal setting which is pretty important. So I made some goals.
First, I had to come up with a list of my ultimate priorities. They do not consist of the only things I find important in life but they are the most important. While the first 3 are in numerical order, the others could be interchanged. These are the things that I simply could not accept having to live without:
Mothering my children
Health & Safety
Friends & Family
Comfortable, nice clean home
Fun & Relaxation (Yes, some would be surprised this made the list as it's the one that is overlooked most often - but it really is a priority for me)
Once I determined what my priorities were (that part did not take long), I needed to develop short-term, medium-term and long-term goals....starting with long-term.
LONG TERM GOALS:
Develop a union and closeness with God - keeping Him ever-present in my mind and heart, allowing Him to control ALL - Choosing to always be on His side. In Orthodox language - staying on the path of Theosis and climbing the ladder of divine ascent.
Have a strong lasting loving relationship with my husband that will strengthen one another that can serve as a model to others.
To have my children always know - without a shadow of a doubt- that I loved them and to be a Christian model to them and someone they can depend on for strength.
To feed myself and my family, REAL food as provided by God and provide a safe healthy environment to maintain all of our health.
To educate my children to the best of my ability throughout their elementary, middle and high school years and prepare them for life, especially by way of heart and soul.
To write and publish several children's books and have a blog of several thousand followers (blushing a little here....wondering if I sound vain??).
To engage in pleasant activities and communicate well and often with friends and family and also help them in whatever ways I can.
To maintain an orderly clean and , yes, stress-free environment in our cozy well-maintained home (finding this current cozy little house in the woods is a great start to this goal!).
To live within our means and not only have a security net but also be able to help others in need.
To enjoy life and remember to have fun and RELAX! (this is actually the hardest one for me--- but I think my Stress Reduction and path of imperfect progress I have myself on will help achieve this goal! But I may need a LOT of encouragement here- so please feel free to comment on these posts and offer words of wisdom and encouragement and your own tales of imperfect progress!
From there, I did establish some 'medium term goals' that I hope to accomplish within the next 1-5 years as well as short-term goals that I hope to accomplish within the next few weeks up to one year.
Obviously for my first goal - forcing myself to get up at 5:30 each morning for my quiet devotional time and reading Unglued and working on my imperfect progress will help me to do that. I must remember that my goal is not to be perfect and I must forgive myself when I fall. That's the hardest part I think. I have this deep inner voice that ridicules myself when I mess up. It's actually NOT nearly as bad as it used to be... but I must focus more on remembering that God will forgive me - but I must forgive myself also.
I also set goals that were specific to the Unglued Participant's Guide to describe what I would like my 'new normal'to be:
1. I do not yell or raise my voice when frustrated, angry or confused.
2. I make it through my days without regretting how I've spoken to someone.
3. I find ways to acknowledge what I'm feeling without doing either of the above and without stuffing those emotions down to boil over later.
Whew.... that's a lot of goal setting! Now on with my day and hopefully make some progress! Are you with me?
Last year I wrote just a bit about reading the book Unglued by Lysa Terkeurst. I really only touched upon it ever so lightly in various posts such as this one, this one and a great thought from the book I shared in this one. I didn't even do a book review though I should have. But I was being, well...... private. I've come to the conclusion, though, that I need to reach out. Because after reading Lisa's book and, now, viewing her video, I've FINALLY come to terms that I am human and there's a whole lot more humans out there experiencing the same thing and it's nothing to be ashamed of. Something to change, yes. But nothing to feel ashamed of.
And to really face something head on....to really really take the bull by the horns, to really try to change...I've decided to share it with you.
I become emotionally unglued. Sometimes often. Sometimes it's ugly. Most times it's hidden from the 'public' and comes out in moments of stress and chaos around those I love the most - my kids and my husband. I suppose I've hurt their feelings quite a bit. Isuppose I've overreacted and taken what was a seemingly small problem in their eyes, if a problem at all, and blown it up into a war zone. And the war zone intensifies when I realize what I've done and am too ashamed to admit it. I'm not the calm got-it-all-together superwife/supermom I want to be. And realizing that in the heat of the moment unglued me even more.
It's those high expectations I guess. I expect myself to be PERFECT.
Do you do that? Do you hold yourself to standards that are just too high? Do you expect yourself (and maybe everyone around you) to be perfect???
I'm afraid I do....especially myself. And I expect everything that I've planned to go perfectly - otherwise, well.... I become unglued. I'm not so patient. I'm not calm. I'm not stress-free. I truly become unraveled.
And then I suddenly see myself. Or hear myself...yelling..sobbing..being rude...being stubborn and selfish.
Oh, the agony.
I read the book last year. Honestly I felt I needed it and honestly I did. I wouldn't have known about the book if a friend hadn't posted about doing the study group on Facebook one day. I didn't have a group. So I just bought the book, hesitatingly....I usually don't purchase books that are in any way 'spiritual' if they are not written by an Orthodox author. But I was desperate to change a life long habit of....well....becoming unglued.....becoming overly emotional and , well, a bit loud, maybe when frustrated, hurt, angry.... you know... don't you? So I bought the book....thinking it might help a little. It helped a lot.
It helped me identify what kind of reactor I am ( a bit of all four types really) and helped me identify what I was doing when I was doing it, which in itself is a huge step to changing. And mostly, it helped me realize that I CAN change.... but that I also need to be kind to myself. I need to not expect PERFECT overnight CHANGE. Lysa calls it imperfect progress. And she does a really good job at guiding you(me) through it in her book.
But a year has passed and, as I've written in past posts, I'm under quite a bit of stress. I find myself sinking fast into those holes of darkness where I unravel quickly and feel almost claustrophobic from the tension within. So I need to climb back out of the darkness and set myself right(with the help of the book and most of all...GOD).
I decided to reach for that book again.
But then I wondered.
Last year, my friend had posted about the video that came with a study guide. So I looked it up....then I placed it in my cart, but before I did that I checked with my friend. She definitely recommended it. She said it really helped her put things into practice on a day-to-day basis. Just what I was craving. So I pushed the purchase button and got the devotional as well! So here I am on yet another challenge.... to remain glued. To keep myself together....at least more so than I have been. I'm aiming for the imperfect progress that Lysa talks about. I want to find peace in my relationships. I want to improve my communication skills. I want to be able to respond to situations without that lifetime habit of stuffing or exploding. I want to be more calm. More laid back. More God centered.
And He is the key, isn't He? I can't achieve change without Him.
I'm sure that's why I'm off-center. I've let my time with Him slide. I've let myself get wrapped up in those worldly 'needs' and stresses and haven't let Him in. Oh sure, I've gone to Liturgy (though even that has been skipped a few times over the last couple of months due to being out of town, illness and yes, even once because I allowed myself to believe I just needed a morning in bed) but I haven't really focused on Him.
I have, though, finally in the last two weeks gotten back to my morning time. I force myself out of bed at 5:30 to get a half hour with Him before I work on my writing (the blog and my writing on children's books). And I make sure that I'm focusing on studies that will guide me in this challenge. While I was waiting to decide on rereading Lysa's book, I started a bible study on 1 Corinthians 13. When one is focused on loving others, it does help one to stay patient and calm...not perfectly, but it helps. And now I have not only Lysa's book in hand, but the video, the participant's guide andthe devotional. Overkill? maybe. But I'm really really dedicated to doing this.
It won't happen overnight.
I will fall.
But I will let Him pick me up again and set me back on course.
And I will forgive myself. Because after all, if He does.... so who am I to judge harshly against what God does not?
So along with my reading on Stress Management and Relaxation, I've added God to the mix....pretty good call, don't you think? So my plan is to keep posting about this. To share the tidbits on the tools I'm using to face my inner world of chaos in which I unravel upon those I love and start changing to a world of peace filled with His love.