Pain

The Trap Of Isolation

Some of my greatest wounding has come from imperfect humans in my world, yet some of my greatest healing has come from being in Godly community with, you guessed it - imperfect humans. We're all imperfect people tryting to walk this life out in Perfect Love. 

I'm sold out to building a loving, Christ centered community, and truth be told, some days I still want to run - but I wont because isolation is a trap. It provides us with a false sense of security from others, leaving us to our own devices while often cultivating an orphan spirit that is fixated on survival and self rather than abundant life and others.

Here is an excerpt from my book, She Is Free from the chapter called, Freedom From Isolation.

"A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire; he rages against all wise judgment. - Proverbs 18:1 NKJV

Lie: Isolation from honest and vulnerable relationships will keep me safe from rejection, betrayal, and pain.

“Good news, your heart is normal!”

Tears filled my eyes as I read those words from my cardiologist while sitting in my office in lower Manhattan. I turned to look out my window, gazing up at the Freedom Tower (as I still like to call it even though its official name is One World Trade Center), laughing and crying at the same time at the symbolism right outside of my window: freedom.

Two days before, I had been at an appointment with my cardiologist getting an ultrasound to learn whether there were any abnormalities in my heart causing the constant, disturbing heart palpitations I had been experiencing that year. At those times, my heart felt as though someone was holding it in my chest and rattling it around, taking my breath away. Along with the heart palpitations, yet another bout of shingles had erupted on my hip. I felt chained to the reality that my body would react every time we went through a big season. In my head, I knew this was a lie and wasn’t in the character of my beautiful, loving God. The counteracting truth is that He sent Jesus to heal my body, my heart, and my mind with resurrection power that is at work within me. Because of this truth, I started to ponder what my responsibility is in partnering with and living in that healing.

Truth be told, it had been a rough year. It was a year filled with much goodness, joy, triumph, celebration, and love, yet the hard and painful things were trying desperately in my head to outweigh all of the good. Heart-wrenching moments kept dancing around in my mind like a creepy circus clown trying to get all of my attention. Friends I thought I would have forever were dropping like flies and stepping out of our lives and into new seasons. I felt rejection set in and started to act as a victim of my circumstances while unhealthy thoughts swirled in my head: It’s not my fault; I’m a target for this stuff; this always happens to me. My heart was filled with such heaviness that it may as well have been tied to a weight and dropped into the ocean. Subconsciously, I began to isolate myself from connection to others because it seemed safer to detach than to love deeply and be hurt again.

For years, isolation has been a strong tower that I’ve hidden in during times of pain to separate myself from reality. If I ever felt subject to circumstance, misunderstood, or unable to control others’ free will in causing pain to those I love or myself, I’d subconsciously cut them off by drawing an invisible line in the sand because that relationship was now unsafe. For years I allowed what others did to rob my heart of the peace that is my inheritance to walk in, come hell or high water. The problem was, my strong tower was man-made, not God made.

 

Choosing Loneliness over Potential Pain

Jesus, the Prince of Peace, slept through storms unaffected by fear (Matt. 8:23–27), and because he lives in me, I have access to that peace at all times no matter what others do, say, or think about me. No matter the political or socioeconomic environment. No matter the state of my marriage, the state of the church, the state of the nation, the president that’s leading our country, the horrible things I saw on the news today—circumstance does not have the authority to steal my peace and isolate me from love unless I surrender that authority.

Isolating ourselves so we’ll never be rejected is simply a different way of being hurt. It’s choosing the pain of loneliness over the potential pain of loss. By isolating ourselves, we attempt to stop others from rejecting us, but we simultaneously reject the love of God. In turn, we also reject the possibility of thriving in community, friendships, and relationships that are a part of our purpose.

As we consciously choose to move past our desire to self-protect, we go willingly into the pain, hand-in-hand with the lover of our souls who heals us and keeps us safe in the secret place (Ps. 91:1 KJV). I love those words, “the secret place.” The secret place is a secret because it’s unknown and untouchable by the enemy and his lies. In the secret place, his lies are broken down and void of power as we discover the truth that sets us free."

For more my NEW book She Is Free, get your copy at SheIsFreeBook.com

Change Your Narrative

A friend of ours decided to celebrate their 40th birthday in Greece this summer, and when invited to come along, we jumped on that bandwagon like a teenage girl (or middle-aged mom) purchasing Bieber tickets. 

When we showed up at the airport, Paul and I got a free upgrade (not even sad!) and happily settled into our seats. While the other passengers boarded the plane, I tested out all the buttons on my remote to see just how flat my bed would go and gladly accepted all the drinks the flight attendants brought by, because it'd be rude not to!

Mid-sip of that second refreshment, a quarter of the way into my first movie, cozily tucked under my comforter with my footrest up, the lady next to us (who we'll call Negative Narrative Nancy) starts yapping about everything she could find wrong about being in business class. I mean - were we even on the same plane??

After sitting on the tarmac for about 30 minutes, the first delay notification came in, but I couldn't have cared less! I was lying down, watching a movie, and eating snacks under a comforter that I wasn't sharing with my four children. We sat on the tarmac for a good hour and a half, just 3 minutes shy from being deplaned and put on another aircraft. Luckily that didn't happen, but during the delay, Negative Narrative Nancy used business class as her stage with absolutely no need for a microphone. 

She started talking loudly. "Ugh! (deep loud breath, sigh, eye roll) The pilot needs to update us- he's not telling us what's going on! Hey lady (flight attendant), what's REALLY going on? Why are we delayed? What aren't you guys telling us? I need a Xanax."

The couple in front of Negative Narrative Nancy had their six-month-old baby, and anytime it cooed or made a peep, the woman would breathe deeply, roll her condescending brown eyes and ask if she could have a different seat in business class "AWAY from that baby". After the poor couple were bouncing their sweet baby (seriously, it was such a quiet baby - just ask me, I have four!) to keep Negative Narrative Nancy appeased, to the point of their quads and biceps giving out from muscle fatigue, good ol' Nancy turns and addresses all of business class saying,  "I can't think of anything worse!"

What?!? Lady with no children, come over here and let me sit you down. Nothing worse than a baby in business class? Negative Nancy - paaalease! I can think of a lot of worse things like... This plane going down. Snakes on the plane. My movies not working on the plane (come on, you know you're with me!) and worst of all, YOU never taking that Xanax you speak of and and continuing to talk for the rest of our time together on this airplane!

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We were in business class people! Business class! And her negative narrative was destroying the atmosphere. The funniest part of this story was that we found out later that a group of turtles mating on the runway caused our delay! Literally, turtles on the runway, which got me thinking...

Have you ever been running a meeting where someone is giving "feedback" but their tone is far from constructive and instead, full of negativity, just posing more problems with no solutions in sight? Maybe the problem is as minor as a turtle on the runway, but the meeting you were so smoothly running is now in a proper nosedive due to a negative narrative taking over. Maybe you started out solving a problem in your own personal life that feels like a minor hurdle, but then the negative nosedive in narrative you find in your own words or thoughts actually becomes the problem instead of the initial situation you faced? It's possible that you naturally operate in faith and optimism, but you're surrounded with "friends" and family who tend towards the negative, calling themselves "realists" and you've unconsciously joined the same club, not sure of who you are anymore. Maybe the pain you've walked through has consumed you, and instead of facing it and walking through it with the Healer, it's become your identity, your constant narrative.

I have found myself being Negative Narrative Nancy in the business class of life more times than I'd like to admit, destroying the atmosphere of my home, workplace and even within myself. I have come into agreement with lies, circumstance, stress and negativity, letting it dictate what I see, feel, think and in turn, what I do. 

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Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. - Proverbs 4:23 NIV

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. - Proverbs 4:23 NLT

A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. - Luke 6:45 NKJV

Everything I do and speak comes out of the abundance of what going on within my heart, which then determines the course of my life.

So let me ask you, on what narrative is your heart meditating? Because whatever it is, it will become your reality!

Our narrative starts in our thought life as a conscious or unconscious meditation, which, sinking down, becomes the meditation of our heart and, ultimately, our words and actions shaping our world.

I've had to be intentional to live aware of the negative or positive narratives playing out in my life. Sometimes I'm overreacting to turtles on the runway, and other times, I'm facing legitimate pain, trouble, trial, and problems in need of solutions. She Is Free: Learning The Truth About The Lies That Hold You Captive is an honest glimpse into my heart while on the journey of changing my negative narrative - a journey which I'm still on today and want to share with you. It’s messy, it’s real, but most of all, it’s wrapped in the Love of a Savior that has set me free in deeper ways than I ever imagined and continues to do so on a daily basis.

It's imperative that we take authority over our negative narrative, because it changes the course of our story here on earth, and this spills out into the lives of others. There are people out there that need your story. People on the other side of your wrestle for freedom that will thank you for bringing the Good News of what Jesus has done in you and for you, because He can and will do it for them too. 

Will you join me on the freedom journey?

My NEW book She Is Free is now available for pre-order. Plus you will receive amazing FREE bonuses if you pre-order by October 3!

The Necessity (& Pain) Of Transition

We all say we want to grow, step into our purpose, walk in the NOW season that God has for us... 

And then transition hits. 

In labor (don't worry guys, this won't get graphic) transition is the most painful part of bringing fourth life - especially if done without an epidural, which in my case was with all four of my amazing humans.

Contraction after contraction pile on top of each other making it feel as though you won't be able to go on any longer - that you'll need ALL THE DRUGS, that you're ready to claw someones eyes out, anybody's eyes out. Sometimes in transition you start vomiting all over the place (so glamorous), laughing one moment and then crying the next. Saying things to your husband like "Come close to me - No! GET AWAY FROM ME!" literally all in one breath.

Needless to say, transition is intense. And then, not long after pain, on top of strange foreign emotion, on top of primal moans, those glorious words are spoken, "It's time to push" -  soon after, a baby is placed on your chest, boring a hole straight into your heart as they try to open their little eyes to see this strange planet they've just arrived on. And in that endorphin rushing, all consuming moment - transition is complete as utter joy over-rides any memory of all the pain you felt just moments before.

Killing It.

Killing It.

Transition is necessary to bring fourth new life. 

Just last week I had a moment where I dramatically slid down the wall until I was sitting with my my knees pulled up to my chest, crying (all the emotions) as it hit me that my eldest was going to Middle School and my youngest was going to full time Pre-K. They were those "all over the place" sort of tears; grieving the end of an era in the Andrew Household, excitement for what was to come and terror as I tried to work out the new calendar we were going to have to navigate as a family. Not to mention that I had just embarked upon my first round of edits for my first book (this is a HUGE job - whoa!). I also had in mind that I was in need of preparing messages to speak at Highlands Women's conference, ReCreate just a couple weeks after my kids started back at school. Then there's the not so small, looming set of details that our own Women's Gathering - SHE IS FREE was bearing down upon us (all the birth references ;).

It all began to hit me as I recognized this all to familiar, welcome yet slightly unwelcome package of emotions... I found myself in a life transition once again. 

So now what do I do? To what do I cling to?

Grace.

Grace for the moment. Not for tomorrow. Not for all the things I am worried about "someday when", but grace for now... Grace for today.

I mentioned in my most recent Coffee with Andi that as I woke up with a checklist in my head a couple of weeks ago, Holy Spirit whispered to me as worry tried to grip my heart,

"Andi, you can do this day in My grace, or your strength."

Immediately I made the choice to align my heart and life with GRACE. The grace that is all sufficient for me in my weakness, worry and checklists (2 Corinthians 12:9). The grace that is available now and always because I have all of Jesus - ALL OF HIM. 

In my own words, GRACE is:
- God’s ridiculous love that saved us and made us sons and daughters - heirs alongside Jesus. This. Is. Crazy. This is GOOD NEWS! This is AMAZING GRACE!
- Unmerited favor that we live in on a daily basis.
- The sufficiency (an adequate amount of something) and fullness of God that we are able to walk in because we’re sons and daughters. 

Matthew 11:28-30 in the message says,

" Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

As life transitions hit, or any new season for that matter, we have to find a new rhythm of grace because grace is always available to us. Maybe last season you were dancing the Samba, but this season requires you to do the Waltz. Pay attention because it's possible that the Samba has no grace in this season. Don't ignore the signs of transition or change. Walk with Jesus. Work with Jesus (not for Him - do you see that?) and you will learn the unforced rhythms of grace. 

#mamarazzi

#mamarazzi

This morning, I dropped off my eldest at the subway to meet his friends so he could ride in to school WITHOUT ME for the first time. The rhythm of grace had changed for our family, and we've decided to go with it.

I'm enjoying this new dance because I'm not dancing alone, I'm dancing with the best dance partner there is - Jesus.