You will always be in conflict and there will always be a need for reconciliation and repair. The people around you are different than you, and your competing desires produce tension, sometimes agonizingly so. It is not hard to see the world around you is in turmoil. You are probably even in conflict within yourself. Repair, or reconciliation, is what brings all things together. Any beauty we see is the orchestrating of disparate parts into a state of resonance. We must learn to enact this type of reconciliation and practice it routinely. If we do not do it daily, things fragment and fall apart. Read More

When Bad Things Happen


When bad things happen, it is easy for us to feel as if God has abandoned us or is punishing us, even though it is clear good things happen to bad people and bad things happen to good people. We sometimes start to feel guilty or as if we need to change course when bad things happen since we think if we are “doing things right,” we should be rewarded! Yet the sun rises on the evil and the good and rain falls on the righteous and unrighteous. Basically, it’s a crapshoot. The fact that bad things are happening to you does not necessarily mean you have done something wrong or you are headed in the wrong direction. It could, but sometimes it means you’re headed in the right direction. I often tell people (usually when they are setting a boundary or trying on some new behavior), “If it’s difficult, you know you’re doing it right!” People don’t usually like that. 🙂 Read More

Growth and Death

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It seems like life is equal parts death and growth. You cannot have one without the other – unbounded growth not pruned back by a little death will become unruly and unmanageable. At the same time, you will not always be moving backwards (experiencing death and loss). There will be a time to burst forth in growth. Don’t be afraid of either. You should learn to make friends with your loss and pain because they have so much to teach you. What has taught you more than your pain? At the same time, do not be wary of growth and success. You should be wise enough to realize you can lose at any time, but you do not need to live in fear of these losses or when they will reemerge. The losses only serve to shed what is not needed and let you return to a phase of growth and thriving. It is all the gift of life. Read More

Connecting with Our Stories

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It is healthy for us to be connected to and to have a sense of ourselves in our own stories. This means we have “at hand” everything, good and bad, that has happened in our lives in the past and present and we can see ourselves moving into the future with a coherent sense of who we are. This is another way of being “present”. Read More

The Stories We Tell Ourselves

July 2010 028 (3) The stories we tell ourselves are very important. I heard someone say once that the thing that separates humans from animals is that we as humans attach meaning to our experiences. Think about it: an animal encounters stress in the form of a predator and acts on instinct to get away or fight and probably does not give it much thought after that. But think about what we tell ourselves when we encounter lesser threats: “I’m never going to catch up on things,” “life is not turning out the way I planned,” “I’m a failure,” “God is punishing me,” “I can’t handle this,” “life is not worth living.” The list is endless. What we call stress is not the physiological responses we have to threat or difficulty; it is the stories we tell ourselves and the meaning we abstract in difficult circumstances. These are what weigh us down and erode our well-being. If we avoid telling ourselves these negative stories, we can use our body’s stress reaction to help ratchet up our performance. The anxiety is there to help you pay attention and be able to perform at a high level. If you allow it to do so, you can meet the challenge and then allow yourself to “come back down” when you need to. Consider some different meanings we can assign to our difficulty: “God trusts me to handle this,” “I must be important enough to encounter this hard thing,” “my life must be worth something,” “this is just another challenge that will soon pass,” “there must be something important to take from this,” “my body is wired to help me meet this challenge,” “pain is the way I grow.” These are not just positive reframes to help us feel better. I think they are actually true.