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The Missing Key To Finding Balance

Desiring balance is a worthy goal, but are Americans really all that balanced? There is so much focus in society to be extremely successful while also being perfectly balanced that you may be confused and actually find yourself unsuccessful and out-of-balance. But there is a way to find that happy medium. At the core of being balanced is having an ability to juxtapose opposites, or to be both/and. Consider the following examples:

You love your child, but can’t approve of his unbiblical choices. How well are you able to balance that out? Unbalanced extremes: you show so much grace that you teach him nothing, or you show so much disapproval that he feels only shame. Balanced: he feels safe with you even while knowing your Biblical worldview. It’s both/and.

You want to have a good lifestyle for your family while juggling multiple schedules. How well are you able to balance that out? Unbalanced extremes: you’re so structured your kids are becoming resentful, or you’re so flexible you’ve even lost your own personal self-discipline. Balanced: you’ve separated which areas of your life to keep open for change and which to guard as non-negotiable. It’s both/and.

You know it’s important to be physically healthy, while having other priorities. How well are you able to balance that out? Unbalanced extremes: you’re so preoccupied with what you eat and your workouts that you’re unpleasant to be around if there are any interferences, or you continually rationalize unhealthy choices. Balanced: you’ve talked with at least one significant person in your life to plan out the appropriate shopping list, cooking plans, and workout times so that loved ones, customers, etc. aren’t neglected while you are attending to your needs. It’s both/and.

You want to be smart about planning for the future, while knowing you might not see tomorrow. How well are you able to balance that out? Unbalanced extremes: you can’t think of the last time you asked yourself the question “Am I ready if Jesus comes today,” or you’ve given no thought at all to any long-term goals. Balanced: you contemplate this tension regularly, such as on the Sabbath. It’s both/and.

You want to believe you are sensitive without losing logic. How well are you able to balance that out? Unbalanced extremes: much of your decision-making is emotionally-driven, or you’re so passionate about efficiency that you regularly step on people’s toes. Balanced: you sort out thoughts, emotions, facts, opinions, truth, and lies about each situation before you respond. It’s both/and.

Navigating the world around you in a both/and way is Biblical and Christ-like…because you follow a both/and God. After all, “the Lord gave…and the Lord has taken away.” (Job. 1:21)

Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:

Think like Him – it will make you mentally healthy. His both/and thoughts are higher than the ones naturally in our brains. (Is. 55:9)

Plan like Him – it will leave you less frustrated. In His both/and ways, He allows what He hates – to accomplish what He loves. (Joni Eareckson Tada)

Do relationships like Him – it will bring you closer to people. Because of His both/and attributes, in His compassion, He restrained his anger often and did not stir up His wrath. (Ps. 78:38)

Seek the both/and paradox, and you will achieve a most balanced/successful life.

For Teen Girls: A Quiz and An Invitation

  • Do you sometimes have a hard time making decisions?
  • Do you regret some of the decisions you’ve made recently?
  • Do you sometimes upset people by what you say/post?
  • Do you worry you aren’t smart enough, or do you even sometimes feel stupid?
  • Do you wish you weren’t so moody, or didn’t feel so much?
  • Do you have a hard time explaining why you’re so upset?
  • Do you find yourself in your own “protests” (organized or not) because you’re so unhappy with the way things are?
  • Do you sometimes feel angry for no reason at all?
  • Do your parents (especially your dad perhaps) complain that you are making no sense?
  • Do you either run away from conflict, or find yourself constantly in conflict?
  • Do you have some relationship struggles, or wish you had closer friendships?
  • Do your parents accuse you of being selfish?
  • Do you sometimes act “cold” towards others, or want to avoid emotions all together?
  • Do you feel like you’re not a good-enough Christian?
  • Do you have a hard time taking the blame, or feel criticized a lot?
  • Do you get your feelings hurt all the time, or wish people would do a better job understanding you?
  • Do you wish you were more mature?
  • Do you know what it feels like to be burned-out or depressed, or wish you had a better way of handling stress?
  • Do you struggle with motivation?
  • Do you have a hard time sleeping?
  • Do you have a lot of worries or fears?
  • Do you feel like the world is really unfair?
  • Do you like the idea of becoming Emotionally Intelligent?
  • Do you find yourself taking this quiz because your parents asked you to?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are invited to know more about having a High EQ – Emotional Intelligence.

Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:

If you decide to explore Emotional Intelligence, you can choose how you want to do it:

1) Privately – You can have as many or few EQ meetings as you desire (or as your parents have asked you to have), at the location you prefer – in order to learn how to simply become more emotionally mature. And you can do it alone, or bring along your sis or bestie if you want to. You won’t regret learning about Emotional Intelligence (even if it wasn’t your idea) because you’ll be happier.

2) Socially – You can host a gathering at your house with your favorite snacks and friends – with Jen Hughes bringing special activities focused on the concept of raising Emotional Intelligence. That way everyone in your squad will benefit, you get all the credit for bettering girls, and you have another excuse to have fun together.

3) Actively – You can make a difference in your generation: Post this article on social media to give others a chance to raise their EQ too.

To request any method of learning how to raise your EQ score, text Jen at 678-463-1978 or email Jen@KeepingRoomChristianCounseling.com

Because of Deborah’s (emotionally mature) reign over Israel…the land had rest for the next forty years. (Judges 4, 5

When the Desires of your Heart…Blow up in your Face

If God tells you to delight in Him and He will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4), why does that sometimes include the destruction of your dreams? When the desires of your heart explode in front of your face, you can be left with soot, ashes, and pain.

Asking why is often a part of processing that messy grief. Asking why can push you to a deeper place of trusting God in the midst of such pain. And leaning on Him even more now in this difficult place can move you to an even stronger relationship with Him that leads you to change your question to what now ?

Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:

Take a look at Psalm 37:4 in a new way:

  • Delight more in Who He is than dwelling in what you want or how you feel.
  • Anticipate that He is creating an even bigger, better desire in your heart.

Next, read the whole Psalm 37 chapter:

  • When you don’t understand what happened to your verse 4 desires, He provides verse 5, asking again for your commitment to Him.
  • He promises to make this relationship with Him shine in your broken heart (v. 6). 
  • He wants to calm and comfort you (v. 7-9). 
  • He warns you against the consequences of anger and anxiety (v. 7-8, 37)
  • He has big promises for you (v. 9, 11, 18-19, 22, 29, 34, 40).
  • He picks you back up, sets you on your feet and onto His path (v. 17, 23, 24, 31, 39). 
  • While you wait for the Lord to act (v. 34), He tells you an amazing truth to repeat to yourself: You, His follower, were not forsaken by Him (v. 28).

Anxiety: When there are More Symptoms & Solutions Than You Know What To Do With

You probably know that chronic nail biting and stressing-out over loss of control are signs of anxiety, but did you know that resistance to logicbreath-holdingsensitivity to little sounds…and being quick to say “no” can also be connected to anxiety? In fact, there are too many traits of anxiety to include in one blog article.

The same is true with solutions. With so much anxiety in the world today, of course there’s help out there to manage it. Yet, as you have possibly discovered, there are commonly suggested solutions for anxiety that simply do not work for every person.

If there are that many tools out there, and only some of them work, how do you discover the right ones for you or a loved one?

Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:

Email jen@keepingroomchristiancounseling.com for an expansive list of anxiety symptoms, along with an equally expansive list of frequently employed solutions. And if you like, this can be a great time for a conversation or meeting to customize a plan for you, and receive accountability and support. “…be able to comfort those who are in any affliction…” (2 Cor. 1:4)

Give yourself time to use “trial and error” as you address and respond to anxiety that is personal to you. There is not a perfect formula, but there is much hope. “Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.” (Luke 12:7)

Engage with the Lord specifically about your unique experience with anxiety so that He can explain each indication of anxiety to you, and bring to mind the best solution for you at that time. “Whoever listens to me will dwell secure and be at ease; without dread of disaster.” (Prov. 1:33)

What’s In Your Emergency Survival Kit?

You’ve got your flashlight should you lose power, and your water bottles should the stores run out, but what do you have at the ready when you are struck with a serious emotional situation? There’s a good chance you may never find yourself trapped or stranded without water or a flashlight, but if you interact with people, being hurt is a sure thing. Therefore, you need an emotional survival kit even more than you need supplies for physical survival.

When you’re nursing an emotional wound, the world encourages you to drown your sorrows in wine, or eat a pint of ice cream and watch Netflix around the clock. But that “solution” can not only be destructive to your health, but teaches your brain to escape in order to cope with hardship, and misses an opportunity to learn and grow from your suffering.

A far better plan is to have self-care gear that provides true recovery for you; and a commitment to use it.

Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:

1.Prepare your supplies.

  • Bible. Know what comforts you most in His Word. Maybe it’s Psalms or other favorite passages, but make sure you know how to get to these places quickly. Or make a reference list. Listening to an audio Bible can be especially beneficial to quiet any loud, negative thoughts.
  • Shoes & Jacket. Already have the place in nature picked out where you will go to feel God’s closeness. Consider the weather year-round since you never know when your next heart rupture will come.
  • Playlist. Don’t underestimate the therapeutic properties of the right kind of music when you’re in emotional pain. Take your time making God-honoring selections because they will bring you the most peace. Singing or playing an instrument can take it to another level.
  • Notebook. Getting your thoughts and feelings to paper can help you process them. But bashing the one who hurt you is not going to feel as good for you as you might think. Making tables and charts comparing how you feel to what you know is true is a powerful exercise that can make this a much better use of your time. Turning your writing into a prayer for the one who hurt you is also very productive. Finally, any journaling that focuses on Christ more than on the wrongdoer or yourself will stabilize you more than you can imagine.
  • Kleenex. Sometimes you have to cry before you can laugh again.
  • Wise Counsel. If needed, have someone in mind who will not want to gossip about it, but instead will point you to Christ through it all.
  • A Soothing Space. Your body and soul will need rest and quiet. Maybe it’s your favorite chair, a nap on your day bed, or special place to go. Everything else on your schedule may need to wait so that you can be there for a time. You may also need to stay away from others until your mood has stabilized.
  • Sanctuary. Identify your first-choice method to meet up with the Lord to feel His love, receive His guidance, and worship Him.
  • Beauty. Since God Himself is the epitome of beauty, then reflections of that on earth can move you towards Him in a nourishing way. This can include the obvious such as picking some fresh flowers or doing some painting, but it can even include organizing a closet or rearranging a space to be more pleasing to your eye, etc.
  • Exercise Equipment. Emotions love to tighten up your body. Shake them out so you can feel light again.
  • Debriefing Materials. After you’ve allowed the Lord to comfort you, it’s appropriate for you to make sense of everything that has happened, such as your role in the situation…how to prevent having a victim mentality…the need for forgiveness…whether to confront the person or not…how to respond with grace, etc. Choosing a Scripture to be praying especially in the first weeks can help you stay rooted in truth and not slide off into a bad emotional place.

2.Know how to use your equipment.

  • Observe the swirling. No matter what weapon is used to strike the blow against you, it hurts. And your thoughts and emotions will start to spin fast. It’s important to recognize the sound of this alarm and remember it’s time to properly respond with your self-care equipment.
  • Acknowledge the temptations to self-medicate, escape, or lash out, and instead reach for your packing list of healthier options.
  • Know the warning signs. If you determine your toolkit is not adequately helping you deal with depression or other effects of this ordeal, seek outside help.
  • Know when it’s time to pack up your supplies, and restock for next time.

“The Lord stood by me and strengthened me…I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into His heavenly kingdom. To Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.” (2 Tim. 4:17-18)

An Exercise to Bring You Peace & Help You Make Progress

It’s famously used in times of fear, and often recited in order to comfort, but interacting deeply with Psalm 91 can bring about other benefits as well. This fresh approach can be especially useful for reducing anxiety…and provides a terrific opportunity to interact with Scripture in a growth-producing manner.

Jen’s Keeping Room Tips: 

Instead of reading straight through Psalm 91…

*Search for all of God’s promises in it

*Using specialty Bible highlighters, use one color to highlight the verses spoken in first person (v. 1-2); another color for the verses spoken to another party (v. 3-13), and a third color for the verses spoken by God (v. 14-16)

*Rewrite verses 3-13 replacing “you” and “your” with “I” “me” or “my”

*Find out how you’re called to prepare for the Lord to soothe you in times of angst (v. 1, 2, 9, 14, 15)

*Explore Philippians 4 alongside Psalm 91:2, maybe even writing out Psalm 91:2 as a heading for Philippians 4 in your Bible or journal

*Find all the Names and attributes of God located in this one Psalm

*Illustrate all the rich imagery in Psalm 91

*Read 3-4 different Bible translations and consider memorizing your favorite one. Or merge several translations together to make your own amplified version

*Make a list of all the reasons Psalm 91 gives you to thank and praise God

*Every day turn Psalm 91 into a prayer for someone different and see how many days you end up praying it

*Document the ways your life is changed by engaging actively with this Scripture

Great peace have those who love your law! (Psalm 119:165)