The Sky is Not Falling. (Don’t be afraid.)

I am sharing the lessons I learned from 2020 that I am bringing into 2021.

Lesson 1: The Sky is Not Falling. (Don’t be afraid.)

Before I went into therapy, one of the things that I struggled with was this feeling that the rug would get pulled from beneath me at any moment. I never felt like I could feel too peaceful or too content with life because there was always this impending doom around the corner. I never knew when, what, how, or where it was going to hit. Maybe the most potent fear that I had was that I was going to die. I never thought I would make it to my 18th birthday, and then I made it to my 18th birthday. It was hard for me to believe I would get married. I never thought I would have children. I always had this thought that I, or someone close to me, was going to die.

When I started counseling, she explained that it was “doomsday thinking.” She said those patterns of thinking are stemming from the abuse I endured because it was unpredictable, repetitive, and constant. So, even when the abuse ended, I was still anticipating the next bad thing.

So, we did a lot of work together, and over time my doomsday thinking improved.

But 2020 was traumatic. It is hard for me to write or even talk about it. I am still processing it. My one word for 2020 was “Stand,” and by the end of the year, the ground felt unsteady. I felt unsteady. I realized I was having those long ago thoughts of doomsday thinking.

New trauma brings up old trauma.

I was worried about what was going to happen tomorrow.
I was afraid to think it couldn’t get any worse, because it kept getting worse.
Suddenly, I was right back to thinking that the rug was going to get pulled beneath me at any moment.

I never said, “I feel like God is going to pull the rug beneath me.” I never said it, and I am not even sure I thought it but, who else was pulling the rug?

I knew He was sovereign. I believed He was in charge of my life, but the little girl in me went back to holding my breath while thinking those old thoughts, “God is going to pull the rug at any minute!”

I never knew what the next day would bring, but thinking it could always get worse felt like protection. If I anticipate the worst thing that could happen, then maybe when it happens, it won’t be as bad.

Is it just me?

What a horrible way to live and think! There’s a lot that I could say about how that affects us, but the truth is that is not how He created us to live. (John 10:10)

Finally, in December 2020, as my thoughts unraveled, I realized, “Woah! I am thinking as if God is going to pull the rug up under me! This is doomsday thinking again.”

Shortly after that, I received a text from my friend and mentor, Tope (find her at www.hiddentreasuresandriches.com – she is fantastic). She was out shopping and texted me a picture of a painting. There were no words or explanation, just the photo of a painted lion (plus pink).

As soon as I saw the photo, I started looking through my pictures. That photo reminded me of a picture I took of a lion at the Riverbanks Zoo in July of 2015. Once I found it, I sent it to her and said, “You have no idea!”

When I took that picture, I was still in counseling and making progress. I remembered walking into the zoo gate and seeing that lion sitting there, unafraid. That lion was the King of the Zoo. I snapped the photo as I thought of my King, Jesus – The King of the World. I felt like He was saying, “I am your King, and I am fiercely protective of you. I am not going to hurt you. I watch over you always, and I will pounce to protect you. You don’t have to be afraid anymore. You are my daughter, my princess.”

Back then, I was scared and desperately needed to realize He was my protector.

He knew I was scared again, and He came to my rescue. He prompted my friend to take the picture and send it to me. He knew I needed that gentle reminder, “You don’t have to be afraid anymore, princess. I am your King, your protector, your shield, and your Father.”

She ended up buying it for me, and it is the first thing I see when I wake up in the morning to remind me that no matter what happens, I do not have to live in fear.

So do not fear, for I am with you
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Isaiah 41:10 NIV

What lessons from 2020 are you bringing into 2021?

Let this be your Christmas to escape.

I’m writing my memoir of healing from Childhood Sexual Abuse. Today, I wrote about the year I broke the “code” and missed Christmas the first time. Celebrating together and visiting everyone was always a big deal. Perhaps the greatest act was to show up, smile, hug, and exchange gifts with my abuser. 

It was the same year that Kelly Clarkson released, Just for Now. I listened to that song over and over. The lyrics that played over and over in my mind were:

“Bite tongue, deep breaths.
Count to ten, nod your head.”

And later:

“Get me, get me outta here.”

Can you relate? 

Being frozen and on high alert wasn’t the best way to celebrate the birth of Jesus, but it was all I knew. It was how I coped. 

You don’t know what you don’t know. 

That first year was challenging. At times, I would cry. I allowed myself to be present and feel, and that came with all of the emotions. I wasn’t holding my breath anymore.  

I was able to pay attention and be still. 

I have two great memories from that Christmas. The first was from the Christmas Eve service at our church. My youngest was asleep in my lap, and we were singing Christmas carols. When we sang “O Holy Night,” I “heard” for the first time, “Til he appeared, and the soul felt its worth.” 

He was doing that for me as He removed all of my heavy shame. I felt free. 

The other great memory was watching a movie about the birth of Jesus with the kids on Christmas Eve. As the narrator told the story, he read, “Blessed is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her.” 

I pressed pause on the movie and ran to get my Bible and mark that verse and date it. 

He is faithful, and I still believe He will fulfill His promises to me.  

We started a new tradition that year. We stayed home as a family in our pajamas all day. We still do, and it truly is the most beautiful time of the year. 

Maybe you know what it is like to show up for celebrations, holding your breath in all of the complicated and messy. 

This is your year to break it off.

Start new traditions. God did not create you to hold your breath and thrive in dysfunction. I longed for an excuse to escape, and this year we all have one. Take it and do something new for you.

Be still.
Breathe.
Pay attention.

 “Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” Luke 1:45 NIV

I recently started a private group on Facebook and would love for you to join: https://www.facebook.com/groups/journeypink

Why me?

Where were you when you heard the bad news that changed everything?

“I wonder if I should I try Mango or Peach,” I thought as I stood staring at the aisle of endless options for sparkling water. My phone rang, and I thought I recognized the number, so I answered it. 

I held the phone to my ear and felt my body go numb. My legs were shaky. I could not take a deep breath. The most profound ache settled in my chest and pounded at my heart.

I wanted to scream.

I rushed towards the blurry exit sign with my cart abandoned in the middle of the aisle. 

The bright morning sun and cold air briefly dried my tears. I sat in my car and cried, “God, why? Why me?”

That phone call changed everything. Life before that day was completely different from life after that day, as if a permanent marker drew a line in the sand.

For me, it meant a significant career change.

Was it easy? No.
Has it been hard? Yes.
Is it still hard? Sometimes, yes.

But, at that moment, it was so raw and painful. It crushed me.

I could hardly go into that store for a while, much less near the sparkling water section. It was too triggering. 

But over time, I came to see God’s hand was with me. Even when I felt alone, he was near. When I needed a breath of hope, he would send encouragement my way. 

There were still many moments when I would ask, “Why me??” 

God sent me a song.

One morning I heard a new song called “Why not me?” by Tasha Page-Lockhart, and it changed everything. I listened to it over and over, and over time my perspective shifted, especially when she sang, “Now that I realize who I am, I’m alive!”

My circumstances had changed entirely, but my Savior was constant. He never changes. 

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8 NIV

He is my protector (Psalm 121).
He is the lifter of my head (Psalm 3:3).
He lifts me out of the pit (Psalm 40:2).
He is my comforter (Jeremiah 8:18).
He is my defender (Psalm 18).
He is my provider (Psalm 34).
He leads me (Psalm 23).

How do you handle bad news?
Are you feeling desperate and hopeless right now?
Maybe you are struggling with your marriage, job, children, or finances?

Your circumstances may have drastically changed your life, but God does not change. 

His faithful promises are true for you in every storm.  

Every gift God freely gives us is good and perfect, streaming down from the Father of lights, who shines from the heavens with no hidden shadow or darkness and is never subject to change. James 1:17 TPT

Just recently, I went back to that store and stood in that aisle. I remembered how hopeless I felt about the situation. I thought of how desperately I wanted to fix it. I tried to turn it around. I wanted control. Eventually, I realized I had to let go. Today, I am thankful I did. 

I pray this song will encourage you to remember who you are and who He is. 

Keep stepping. Keep trusting. Keep believing.  

Why not me? By Tasha Page-Lockhart

Do you tiptoe or dive into the pool?

This photo is a screenshot of me attempting to jump on a float in the pool. I will spare you the video, but let’s say it didn’t quite go as planned.

So, it is with life, especially 2020.

I’ve been quiet and absent because I’ve been waiting for a good and stable time. A time when there’s a familiar pace, maybe even a time when I know more or understand more. A time when life doesn’t feel wobbly and unfamiliar. Things have been scary and intimidating.

They still are.

When my child posted the video of me jumping on that float in our family group chat this week, I watched it over and over. I laughed. Sure, I had thoughts like “geez, I am fat!” But I also realized this video depicts what this year has felt like: Me jumping into the unknown, and wondering if I will miss the mark. Water may go up my nose. It may hurt. What if I regret it? I may fail, or worse, drown.

Fear has kept me by the edge of the pool for years. I long for security and safety, and I am highly triggered when I don’t have it.

A lot was peeled away this year, and I am in new territory. I arrived here, kicking and screaming, but here I am.

And I am not alone. If anything, I have sensed the sweet love of Jesus in surprising ways. I can’t say I’ve always handled things well. I’ve cried and had all night long pity parties, and His grace still met me.

His grace is sufficient, especially when you’re desperate for it.

Letting go is not easy, but sometimes He calls us to let go of the things that keep us from our purpose. They may be good things, but sometimes good things keep us from depending on His goodness.

Truthfully, I spent many moments this year with gritted teeth and clenched fists, wondering, “Why? It is not fair! God, please. WHERE ARE YOU?” I didn’t want to let go. I wanted him to help me. I wanted him to rescue me.

Sometimes, He rescues us by helping us to let go.

Maybe we have to let go of the things that have become our identity. They bring us comfort and security. We go to them before we go to Him.

Let go.

Are you in a season of feeling like you have taken a plunge into unknown waters?
Are the plans you made on your lovely 2020 planner you bought in January turning out different?
Does the Vision board you made in December look anything like your reality?

You are not alone. There is hope.

In Psalm 34, David shares his testimony of deliverance.

In just the first few verses, he shares the key to thriving when things are not going well.

I will extol the Lord at all times;
his praise will always be on my lips.
I will glory in the Lord;
let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
Glorify the Lord with me;
let us exalt his name together
.

Let the afflicted hear and rejoice. His praise will always be on my lips.

Praise.

When I was frustrated, I praised Him.
When I was overwhelmed, I praised Him.
When I was angry, I praised Him.
When I was miserable, I praised Him.

Praise did not change my circumstances, but it changed my outlook.
This song is one of the songs that changed everything for me.

Are you in a difficult and challenging season? What song has seen you through? Please share in the comments below. I would love to pray for you and add more songs to my 2020 playlist.
Let us exalt His name together.

Let’s dive in.

Song #1 Speak The Name by Koryn Hawthorne featuring Natalie Grant