Beliefnet
Doing Life Together

This morning, I am on my way to the beautiful Mackinac Island to speak at a women’s conference all week. The air is brisk with smells of Fall. The leaves are turning stunning colors and the heat of summer seems far away. It’s all so breathtaking and such a reminder of God’s creativity. I smile, remembering an evening that gave me another, very different glimpse of God’s creation.

Friends of mine invited my husband and I for a weekend in Annapolis to see Peter White, Gerald Albright and Rick Braun play live. What an amazing evening of jazz that turned out to be. The musicians were fabulous, the heat above 100, and the air conditioning in the place struggled to keep us all from profusely sweating. But no one cared. We were so taken by the music, the conditions didn’t matter. People were mesmerized by the level of talent displayed on the stage. Despite the intense heat, everyone smiled, sang with abandoned and even danced the final number. The evening was appropriately billed as, The Jazz Attack.”

As I sat there and observed the multicultural group that assembled to enjoy these master musicians, I wondered, “Is this a taste of heaven?” If there is a jazz section of worship in heaven, I’d like to put in my reservation now. Something about jazz music makes people smile and relax. For a few hours, we all forgot about the stress of life and immersed ourselves in the music.

In moments like these, we get a glimpse of the incredible talent given by God. And one day, when all that talent is directed in worship towards the One who created it, what a party that will be. The  joy will be like no other joy.  We will simply do what the Westminster Confession reminds us to do, “Glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” In the meantime, look for those moments when the beauty of God’s creation is so evident, you sit in amazement. It’s a taste of what is to come.

 

pree pausev2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_Ann was on an eating binge. Oh it wasn’t because she was a compulsive eater or had an eating disorder.

It was because her boyfriend, Rob, decided to break it off. Ann was in the midst of grieving, but was not allowing that process to happen. She was medicating with food.

The body and mind are connected so when rejection hits hard, it is no wonder our appetites either leave us or kick in to gear so we don’t have to think about the present moment.

People reject you. Food accepts you. Food tastes good and is a comforting distraction from the momentary pain of rejection.

Think of all the movies you have seen of women diving into the ice cream or comfort food to ease the emotional pain of rejection. Comfort food soothes us and makes us feel better. The problem is that we can’t eat away the pain. Food only covers it up. And we can’t focus on grief is we are numbing our momentary feelings with food.

Better to grieve the rejection and grab your thoughts. “This feels terrible, but I can get through it. I am hurting but eating away my feelings is going to result in feeling worse. Here’s where I need some self-care. Don’t add insult to injury. The last thing I want to do after a break up is gain weight and feel more rejection. Stay present!”

If you can stay present with your feelings and not escape into the food, you will certainly feel the sting of the rejection, but you will be allowing the grieving process. Then, as you see that you can handle the heartache, you won’t need to go to the food for escape. And you won’t be tempted to eat away your pain–an important lesson in coping.

So if you’ve been rejected in love, resist that comfort food.

Stay in the moment, feel the pain, tell yourself that tomorrow will be better. Grief needs to be processed, and you will come through this with God’s help.

natureI have a big academic paper  to write. This kind of task, like many we encounter at work, requires sustained energy and focus. But after awhile, we all need a break. So what is the best way to unwind for a few minutes?  Coffee, candy, stretching?

1) Take a nature walk. Researchers at the University of Michigan proved that performance on tasks that require sustained focus improved by 20% when subjects took a nature break. It has to be nature, not just any walk down a city street. Apparently the elements engage our minds differently than other types of settings. So if you have a park, arboretum, or nature trail near by, get on it!

2) Stanford researchers found that people who believe they have unlimited willpower can work longer and keep their performance up. Good news for college students who need to power through studying for an exam or those of us who must make a deadline.  Just believe you can do it.

3) Go exercise or grab a healthy snack. This seems to be better than downing coffee to help with concentrate. Too much coffee can increase anxiety and leave you more stressed than before a break. And the choice of an energy boosting snack is better than one loaded with sugar and fat. So if you are yawning at your desk and need a boost, Health.com recommends 1/2 cup sliced banana or a small apple with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter, 4 wholegrain crackers spread with 1 tablespoon of hummus, 1/4 cup of dried fruit or nuts, 6 ounces of plain nonfat yogurt mixed with a tablespoon of granola, or a whole grain high protein bar,

 

 

mom and sonI was at Costco grabbing a slice of pizza and watched a mom, her older son, middle daughter and younger son get lunch. They looked like they were having a great time. The mom was about to go and get food for everyone and wanted the three kids to sit at the table and wait until she ordered and brought back the food. She looked at the kids and pointed to where she would be, noting they could see her. She was calm, firm and structured. The kids were very attentive and appeared to be quite obedient.

The oldest got all excited, raised his hand and asked, “Mom can I be in charge while you get the food?” The mom hesitated, looked uncomfortable and finally said, “No, your sister is more responsible.”

I cringed. You could see the hurt on the older boy’s face. He stared at the floor and looked like he could cry. “Inadequate” was written all over his face and my heart sunk. I hurt for him. I know the mom was trying to do the right thing but she missed an important moment to empower her son and give him responsibility.

A better approach would have been to respond to her son’s request with this, “OK what do you have to do to be in charge? Can you do that? Great, let’s give it a try since you are the oldest.” This would have empowered the boy and given him an opportunity to win his mom’s trust.

I know as a parent I don’t always respond the best way. After the fact, it is easier to see better ways to handle situations. But sometimes it is the small interactions with our kids that can leave big imprints.

Look for those moments when you can empower your child to take responsibility. Encourage him or her to try new things and practice their growing independence. It might make you a little anxious but the benefit to the child is worth it.