Drama Junkie

I’ve spent my lifetime, silently watching and listening.  Wondering.  Why do some people seem to continually be surrounded by difficulties?  My heart would break and I would step in to help.  Then, I stumbled across unfamiliar terminology – excessive attention seeking disorder.  Did you know that for some people, receiving attention gives them a chemical high, similar to a drug hit?  Excessive attention seeking or addiction to drama is very real and this enslavement reaches outward and affects everyone that comes into contact with the drama junkie.  If someone that you care about seems to crave excessive attention, there are reasons for this behavior.  This post is not intended to offer in depth scientific evidence, or a cure but instead I hope to provide clarity and understanding to the one who suffers from second-hand drama.  Please allow me a few moments to take what I have learned and break it down into a very simple explanation, then we’ll look at your role in the drama.

 

Research shows that when a developing child feels neglect, their brain interprets this as danger and wires itself to survive within this environment.  This wiring for survival trains a developing mind to do whatever is necessary to attract the craved attention, even if it’s extreme.  Sometimes this means creating turmoil by making decisions that cause difficulties.  These behaviors attract attention which then trigger a chemical reaction in the brain, similar to a drug high and the behaviors have now been rewarded and reinforced.  You see, endorphins and dopamine are released which suppress pain and bring feelings of happiness.  This becomes a cycle, where the end goal is a reward of short lived feelings of elation – then the cycle begins again.  Just like any other addiction, a tolerance is built up and it will require a bigger and better crisis to achieve the good feelings.  Here’s the cherry on top.  Researchers believe that a consequence of neglect is a smaller hypothalamus gland in the brain.  The hypothalamus plays a key role in sleep, body temperature regulation, hunger, healthy parenting and processing of the “feel good” chemical, serotonin.  When the brain doesn’t efficiently process serotonin, problems occur.  Have you noticed that your attention getter struggles with other addictions, obsessions or depression?  It is common for the addiction to drama and excessive attention seeking, to accompany other addictions such as food or substances – legal or illegal, or obsessive tendencies and depression.  This is the serotonin link.  So, now that we have a better understanding, how can this intrusion into your life be managed?

 

First, realize that enabling the behavior isn’t helpful.  If you care about someone who exhibits these behaviors, maybe it has felt easier to let the turmoil and crisis roll in, or maybe you’ve been helping them feed their other addictions, but if you have influence in their life, it might be time for you to confront them with truth in a loving manner.  Second, never minimize the great transforming power that God can exercise in our lives when we are willing participants in His work in us – pray for them.  Encourage them in the following areas.  Contentment – loving what we already have more than what we don’t have.  Forgiveness – forgiving our parents or other caregivers from our developing years is crucial.  Acceptance – realizing and accepting that sometimes other humans only have so much to give and that sometimes it just doesn’t feel like enough.   Self-control – encourage them to make sound decisions.  Belief – remind them of God’s everlasting love and encourage them to read God’s word and devour it.  We all benefit by being continually reminded of the great love that God has for us and His unmerited favor upon each of us.

 

One last thought – if you are exhausted by someone like this and you are tempted to remove yourself from their drama, it might be necessary to do so, but remember that 1st Thessalonians tells us to be tender and patient toward those that are weak.  This person probably has a root of hurt that goes deep.  If you have a influential relationship with this person, God could be calling you to help them.  Without enabling the behavior, you can present the truth in a loving and supportive manner.

Meaningful, Valuable & Impactful – Words Have Meaning

How do you feel when someone acknowledges a positive characteristic in you?  You’re elated, right?  It’s like they’ve become the wind beneath your wings.  I sincerely hope that each of you has someone in your life, that gives you the gift of encouragement.  Now, I challenge you – be that person to someone else.  Give the gift of words that are meaningful, valuable and impactful – words that lift up.

It is pleasant to hear that someone likes you or even loves you, but when they are specific as to why they feel this way, it takes you to a new level.  Put some thought into your admiration and let them know what it is.  Put a name to it.  Following are some examples but don’t stop here – add the how, when and why that you’ve noticed this about them.

>You’re kind.

>You’re observant.

>You’re sensitive.

>You’re cheerful.

>You’re charming.

>You’re joyful.

>You’re wise.

>You’re gifted in the area of ….

>You’re talented in the area of ….

>You’re an encourager.

>You’re generous.

How about when someone has a deep impact on you?  Have you observed that they smile and lift the spirits of others?  Are they a musician who impacts you with their music?  Did they teach you or exhort you and open your eyes?  Did they sweep in and help you to improve your living conditions?  Does their gift give you joy?  Do their writings inspire you?  Has their input into your life, made you a better human being?  Has their encouragement lifted you up out of a pit and put you upon a rock?  Tell them.  Write your thoughts down and give it to them.  Your words have more meaning than you might realize.

One last thought, don’t overlook that person that appears to be confident.   They are mostly self-assured but all humans need to receive encouragement and many long to know that they are positively impacting the lives of others.    Life has a way of demoralizing even the most self-assured people.  Your kind and thoughtful words, might be the boost that they need to continue on.

Be a characteristic specific encourager, and be sure to tell them the how, when and why.  You might be the person that brings sunshine into a gloomy heart and mind.

She’s a Rock

There’s this woman that we know.  She’s rock candy.  Solid and strong as a rock but sweet as candy.  She appears to be self-assured.  She is a ray of sunshine.  From the outside, it looks like her entire life is peachy.   She notices when others aren’t coming around and she checks up on them.  She senses when others seem down or burdened and she offers help or encouragement.  Others rely on her and she seems to have the time to come to their aid.  Since she’s a rock, people assume that she has no emotional, physical or spiritual needs but I assure you, she is human too.  She’s a flesh and blood woman with challenges, struggles, pain and heartaches.  She doesn’t always have her life, emotions or health in order?  Sometimes she feels like everything in her life is falling apart.  Sometimes she feels like she is falling apart.

 

What makes her different?  Why does she appear to have life under control?  How does she have spare time and energy to reach out to others?  It’s simple – she just makes a moment by moment choice to focus on working hard and conducting herself with excellence and integrity and she reaches outward to others in lieu of becoming overly self-focused.  She is strong, caring and compassionate but her life is far from perfect.  She has the same challenges in her faith and trust, marriage and children, job and home, health and beauty, as every other woman.

 

She is trusting, patient and forgiving but when she reaches her own personal limit of hurtful, disrespectful, rude or careless behavior from another human being, she will draw the line.  Because of her authentic character, she won’t always merely distance herself.  Her strength causes her to confront the situation but her kind nature causes her to choose her words very carefully.  She will keep the majority of the details to herself, only telling the bare minimum of what she has experienced and she will trust that God will handle the rest.  If this woman decides to confront, she has considered the circumstances carefully.  A wise person will listen and consider what she has said for she has already proven her integrity.  It is most likely the truth and even though there is much more to the story, out of politeness or consideration of the feelings or reputation of those who are involved, she won’t discuss it.  Don’t talk behind her back or blame her for the wrongdoings of someone else and don’t try to influence others to think badly of her.  All of this adds insult to her injury.  Instead, remember how this woman gave generously and realize that she simply reached a point of self-preservation.

 

Lastly, realize that this woman needs care too.  Ask her about her life.  She’s not strong all of the time.  Sometimes she is exhausted.  Sometimes she is crippled by fear.  Sometimes she is in physical or emotional pain.  She gives her love freely but she still needs to receive love.  She needs to know that others genuinely care about her too.  She needs to know that she has positively impacted other lives.

 

Would you be the one who cares for her?  Make today the day or let her wake up tomorrow with a message or phone call from you.  Ask her how she slept, or how she’s feeling, or ask her about her life, or just let her know that you’ve been thinking about her.  Let her know how she has impacted you.  These might seem like small gestures, but her heart will soar all day long.

Mom, I Love You

When Jesus saw His Mother and the disciple whom he loved, He said “Woman, behold your son” and to the disciple, He said “behold, your mother”.  Jesus was dying on that cross – His own weight crushed His lungs and He was suffocating.  Even worse, he experienced the emotional and spiritual darkness of separation from His Father.  Why at that moment did he give his mother to a trusted and loved friend?  Why did He not make these arrangements previously?  Why not during supper in the upper room?  Why not during the days after his resurrection before He ascended to heaven?

Christ, during His most physically, mentally and spiritually demanding experience took a moment to tell His mother, “Mom, I love you, I care for you and I have provided for you”.  He demonstrated the commandment “honor your father and mother”.   Why did he choose this moment?  Could He have been communicating a message to us?  No matter how demanding and crazy our lives get – is it possible to still spend time and effort to honor our parents?

You might live near your parents or far away from them.  They may be healthy and active or their health may be failing.  Some have a great relationship with their parents and some are estranged from them.  Many of us have lost at least one parent to death.  No matter what conditions exist, there is a way that you can honor them or their memory.

>Call to catch up or fondly remember the past, or just simply listen to them unload – aging parents are dealing with challenges that sometimes overwhelm them and they need the support.

>Give them a new photo of their grandchildren.  Don’t send it electronically unless they specifically want that format.

>Write a heartfelt letter telling your parents what they mean to you and how much you appreciate what they have done for you.  Now would be a good time to thank them for their wisdom.

>Ensure that their memory will live on and tell your children stories about their grandparents.   If you don’t have children, tell others about your parents.

>Give them a special gift.  Something that they would never buy for themselves.

>Treat them with respect and don’t steal their dignity.  Although there may be areas where they will need help in making decisions, allow them to continue making decisions.

>If you live nearby, give them practical helps.

>If you are estranged from a parent, now is the time to cast aside your pride, if that has been the problem.  This is the parent that God gave to you and even if they are abusive, you can still honor them without allowing the toxic behavior to enter into your life.

>Remember that your parent isn’t only a parent.  They are a man or woman with human needs and unique gifts.  You will send their heart soaring when you take the time to get to know them as this wonderful creation and acknowledge what you see.

On this Mother’s Day, put your heart and mind into the gift that you give to her.  What would she cherish?  Flowers are nice but eventually they wilt and will have to be thrown away.  Lunch out is a treat to her but it only lasts for a little while.  How about also giving her a handwritten letter, expressing your appreciation for her?    Happy Mother’s Day!

Living as a Pauper

I’ve been a Christian for over half of my life – shouldn’t I know better by now?  I know that God isn’t a liar, so why do I live my life as though I don’t always believe Him? Why do I live as though I am destitute, when God tells me something very different? According to God, the same riches that He has given to Jesus Christ, are available to me.

I am a life-long people pleaser and it occurs to me that in my people pleasing, I am like a pauper standing on the road-side, begging for a scrap of something from other human beings.  Love, acceptance, respect, friendship – all good things but when I elevate them above God’s opinion of me, I am stuck in a cycle of elation to despair.

When someone treats you badly, do you begin to view yourself as a devalued human being? Sometimes we disrespect others and sometimes we are disrespected.  According to God, this is unacceptable and He doesn’t give us any exclusions or exceptions.  We are to esteem others as higher than ourselves but too often, the opposite occurs.  Here are some examples.  A loved one or friend who fails to take the time to understand you and instead tries to change you, rather than valuing your unique gifts. Someone who blames you for their relationship problems with someone else. A jealous or insecure woman who judges or dislikes another woman, simply because of her appearance or bubbly personality. Someone who spreads lies and damages a reputation. A friend who is willing to accept kindness but does not reciprocate care or concern.  A woman who is pleasant toward someone in front of her husband but at other times communicates disdain.  A wife that is jealous or possessive and requires that her husband not show kindness to another human being.  A group of men or women who exclude someone from their clique.  How about the woman who treats another woman cruelly because her husband admires this woman?  Teenagers – they can be crude and cruel and their jealousy toward another teen, can cause them to behave and speak in a horrible manner.  Teasingly referring to body part size, facial features, hair, skin or clothing can send a young person into despair.

If you are capable of living out the “haters gonna hate” and then shake it off method, you are very fortunate.  For others, these rejections lead to despair. Dear tenderhearted one, if you are in Christ Jesus, you will need to continually remind yourself of your identity. Your identity is in how God views you, not in how other people treat you.  If you have trusted Jesus for the payment of your sins, this is what God says about you: you are no longer condemned, God adopted you into His family, God has given you an inheritance of spiritual riches, God showers you in kindness, God sees Jesus’ righteousness when He looks at you, you are His beloved and all of this gives Him pleasure.  Simply put, you are very wealthy.

If you belong to Jesus, take the wealth of love that God lavishes upon you and then love others – just don’t make them an idol by elevating them above God in your life. If you have not made Jesus the Lord of your life, you must start there. With Adam and Eve, sin entered the world and God’s required payment for sin is spiritual death which is eternal separation from Him. Thankfully, God didn’t leave us there – He made a plan for us to be reconciled to Him. His Son paid the penalty on the cross, for your sin. All you must do to receive this salvation from spiritual death, is simply accept His gift to you. Place your trust in Jesus’ finished work on the cross.

God adopted me and this gave Him great pleasure. Ephesians 1:5

Deadly Comparisons

If only she looked like that.  If he would just treat me that way.  If she were my wife, I would make her feel like a queen.  She doesn’t deserve him – if he were mine, I’d…  You get the point – coveting, and it’s deadly.  It will rob you of living your life and it will murder your marriage.

 

When are you most vulnerable to comparing your spouse to another person?  Is it after a fight with your wife or when your husband speaks or acts in a way that is insensitive?  Has your spouse let their physical appearance go?  Are they run-of-the-mill?  What makes you compare your spouse to that old flame or an acquaintance, friend or coworker?  It’s important to uncover these patterns in our lives.  When we recognize and understand our weaknesses, we are better equipped to prevent ourselves from walking to the edge of a dangerous precipice.  We then know to not approach or if necessary, back-up before everything crumbles beneath our feet, causing us to fall and be destroyed.

 

It may very well be reality, that your spouse isn’t attractive, doesn’t excite you or that they don’t always treat you very well but comparing our spouses to others begins with a problem deep down within our own heart and mind.  It begins with a lack of thankfulness and contentment.   Discontentment most likely stems from a belief that we are somehow entitled to something better.  What is the solution to this very human problem?  In my own life, I must continually work at cultivating a thankful heart.  A thankful heart becomes a contented heart.  Learn to count your blessings.  Look for the many things in your spouse that are good and be honest with yourself about your own faults.  In short, I must accept that today, I have exactly what God in His ultimate wisdom, wants me to have.

 

That other person may look pretty good to you but they are not yours.  God will never bless something that He has defined as sin – in this case, coveting or adultery.  However, He will bless your efforts to find contentment in your own marriage, with the person that you chose.  You chose them – for better or for worse.  In my own marriage, I have experienced real change when I choose to do the right thing.  Look for the good in your spouse and thank God for it.  This is the anti-venom of discontentment.

Shaken, Not Stirred

Are you a thinker?  Is your mind usually on full speed?  Do you wake up during the night, ready to do more thinking?  If so, you probably have a tendency to rehash and overthink.  Is this a strength or a weakness?  I am a thinker and I definitely recognize and experience the good and the bad of this trait.  It all depends on how we use our thinking skills.  Let’s talk about the proper use of your Maserati mind.

 

Currently, I have a large plate and it’s jammed full and over-flowing with challenges and tasks to complete.  My daughter will be getting married soon, my teenage son just got his driver’s license and will be taking an airline trip on his own soon, we are selling our home and acreage of thirteen years, buying a lot, finding temporary housing, planning a new house, selling our rather large accumulation of stuff, packing, moving, homeschooling a highschooler, involvement in four different ministries, peri-menopause and a husband with a demanding schedule at work and at church.  Oh, and I’m still attempting to write and post quality content.  I’m writing this at 3:30 in the morning.  My mind woke my body and I just couldn’t sleep anymore.  What’s a girl to do?  At this very moment, she is going to get another cup of strong coffee.  I’m back – now let’s continue. What is the solution to managing an overactive mind?

 

Shake up your little snow globe but don’t stir the pot.  What on earth do I mean by this statement?  I’ll start with “don’t stir the pot”.  Stirring the pot suspends the sediment and things become cloudy and you are unable to see clearly.  Your mind gets caught up in the whirling.  Rehashing or obsessing over past hurts, current circumstances or tasks is a form of stirring the pot and it is counter-productive.  If I shake up my little snow globe, it’s an entirely different effect and result.  First, I can shake it up and get a very lovely result by fondly remembering the people that have been a blessing to me.  Second, shaking up my little snow globe applies to my daily tasks.  Shake it up in your mind and let it fall onto a written list.  Now, prioritize and go after those tasks and whatever doesn’t get done, move it to the next day’s list.  If it doesn’t fall into the fond memory or daily task column and it is outside of your control, then let it go – give it to God and just let it go.  Stirring the pot creates an agitated mind but shaking your little snow globe allows your mind to do its work and then slowly settle down.  By settling your mind, you can then focus on communing with God and begin to rest.

 

I do well with shaking up my snow globe at night, just before I go to sleep.  I construct my plans for the next day but when the lights go out and before I drift off, I count my blessings and thank God for the ways that I saw Him working that day and then I fondly remember the people who have been in my life – past and present.  Thank you for keeping me company in the wee hours of the morning.

He Chose These Moments

I’m a speck – just one person.  He’s too busy to care about my problems, hurts or loneliness.  We all have these thoughts.  We don’t immediately go to Him in prayer or we feel that we’ve gone too much, maybe with the same request, over and over.  We secretly think that God could never understand or relate to our pain or that He becomes impatient with us.  When we feel this way, it is rooted in our misunderstanding of the character of God.

 

Pour over God’s word and you’ll see endless evidence that He cares for each of us with an everlasting love.  Why then do we seem to perceive God as limited?  It’s because we have a tendency to measure God by human capabilities.  Read about Him and let the wonder of His greatness amaze you.  Recently, God opened my eyes about something and I want to share it with you.  It is one of the clearest examples of His ability to be outside of human limitations – the words spoken by Jesus during His crucifixion, the most horrific form of punishment ever invented.

 

Jesus was fully man and fully God and since He endured as a man, He demonstrated that He is acquainted with human pain and suffering.  He suffered physical, mental and emotional pain but He also suffered the great loneliness of separation from God the Father.  Here is the wonder of all of this.  Jesus didn’t retreat within himself during His time of suffering.  He reached out.    He spoke the following from the cross:

 

>He extended great mercy to those that were killing Him.  Luke 23:34 “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do!”  When we’ve been hurt badly, it is hard to forgive but refusing to forgive steals our peace.  Christ shows us that it is possible to immediately forgive, even the most heinous offense.

>He forgave the criminal in his lowliest condition.  Luke 23:43 “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise!”  Christ does not require that we clean ourselves up in order to come to Him.

>He displayed His tender care for our needs.  John 19:26-27 “Woman, behold your son.  Son, behold your mother!”  He cared and gave them to each other.  Jesus knows that we need to take care of each other.

>He demonstrated his anguish and abandonment.  Mark 15:34 “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me!”  This statement, during what is possibly His worst moments on the cross, evidences that Christ really understands our great loneliness and despair.

>He suffered from the basic need of water.  John 19:28 “I thirst!”  He proves that He understands our human needs.

>He exclaimed victory over sin.  John 19:30 “It is finished!”  He declares victory so that we know that through Him, we will have victory.

>Finally, He declared His contentment and reunion with His Father.  Luke 23:46 “Father, into your hands I commit My spirit!”  Jesus understands relationship and He knows the hurt of separation as well as the joy of reunion with those that we love.

 

His brain was exploding with physical and emotional pain.  Loneliness.  Nerves on fire from the ripped and fatigued muscles, open wounds and the penetration of thorns and nails.  The crushing of his heart and lungs as fluid pushed in and the misery of extreme thirst.  For Him to speak, must have been nearly impossible in human terms but He chose these moments to tell us that He knows and relates to our sorrows.  He also chose a moment to tell us that He completed the payment for our sins.  Nothing but our faith and trust is necessary.  Salvation is Christ plus absolutely nothing.

 

When you are tempted to think that you’re too small or that He’s too busy or that He doesn’t understand or relate to your despair, remember that He chose these moments during His great suffering, to show us the magnitude of His ability to always care for us.  Yes, Jesus died for our salvation but He also died for every little thing too.

The Road to Reconciliation and Peace

What does reconciliation look like?  Has it occurred between two parties, simply because they are able to be courteous to each other?  Is it possible to forgive without reconciliation occurring?

 

Forgiveness is the responsibility of the offended and it is required by God.  It is not contingent on the offender apologizing or asking for forgiveness.  Forgiveness is possible, even if the offender never realizes what they’ve done, or even if they refuse to take responsibility for their actions or words.  Forgiveness does not release the offender from their guilt but it releases the offended from the burden.   When we’ve been hurt by another person, it is a challenge to forgive but it is a choice that must be made and refusing to forgive, puts a wedge between us and God.  You see, for the most part, forgiving is vertical – it is between you and God.  He requires you to forgive, enables you to forgive and He restores peace between you and Him, when you forgive.  Forgiveness is usually not a one-time occurrence but instead, many singular moments of obedience.

 

Biblical reconciliation, which brings lasting peace in a relationship, goes deep.  In order for it to begin, both parties need to be ready.  The offender will need to be ready to hear the entire truth of how they have hurt, without resorting to excuses or anger and ready to take responsibility.  The offended must be free of bitterness and if they haven’t already done so, they must be ready to forgive.  Reconciling is a process of deconstructing the relationship and then building it back up.  It goes something like this:  realization of wrongdoing, grief and remorse, confession or admittance, forgiveness desired and restitution, if necessary.  Restoration of the relationship can now begin and trust can be rebuilt.  In true reconciliation, there is no room for defensiveness or excuse making and if the offender is in this mode, it is not yet possible.  If the hurt party is bitter, unforgiving and punishing, then it is not yet possible.  Notice that in both cases, I have said “not yet”.  Give it time and let God deal with the hearts of those that are involved.  Pray for yourself and the other party.  In time, there may be softened hearts and then the process can begin.

 

God’s word is our source of truth – so I would like to share my favorite story of offense, remorse, forgiveness and reconciliation.  It’s the story of Joseph, which starts in Genesis 37.  Joseph was a golden boy.  He was gifted and favored by God and preferred by his earthly father.  He attracted blessing but he was also the subject of jealousy and evil plotting.  His own brothers concocted a plan to get rid of Joseph and he was sold into slavery.  Once in a new land, Joseph was again favored but through a twisting of events, he was lied about and went to prison because of it.  In prison, Joseph aided others and the person that he helped to get out of prison, forgot about him for years.  Finally, through amazing circumstances Joseph was released from prison and became very powerful.  If anyone had reason to be embittered, it was Joseph and he could have used his power to punish those who had hurt him but Joseph had a soft and forgiving heart, and most of all, he knew that his sovereign God would bring good out of all his hardships.  Looking for help from the wealthy land of Egypt, his brothers came to this land where Joseph was now a powerful man.   They never imagined that they would run into Joseph again.  Joseph recognized them but they didn’t realize that the man in charge was their brother.  In Genesis 42, we over-hear the brothers expressing remorse over what they had done to their brother and we see that Joseph was secretly listening to their discussion.  In Genesis 44, the brothers lament that their current hardships must be a punishment for their previous sins.  These are key moments in the story and I believe crucial to the reconciliation that is about to happen.  Joseph reveals himself to them and there is a tender reunion and healing words.  Without the brothers becoming remorseful and taking responsibility for their motives and actions, do you think that this family reunion would have played out this way?  In order for reconciliation to occur, the offending party must be able to see how they have hurt the other party and then take the next courageous steps.

 

If you’ve hurt someone, the greatest gift that you can give to them, is to confess and apologize, naming the specific wrongdoings and ask for forgiveness.  The magnificence of healing then begins to occur for both parties.  If you have been accused of offending and are having trouble getting to the acceptance and confession stage, try remembering a time when someone hurt you.  How did you feel?  What would have helped you?  Did they take responsibility or did they merely give you the “I’m sorry if” – the un-apology?  The un-apology adds insult to injury.  Remembering a time when we were the casualty, softens our heart and prepares us to take responsibility for our own actions and words.

 

Unfortunately, reconciliation doesn’t always occur.  Sometimes the offender cannot be trusted.  Sometimes the parties would rather avoid the unpleasantness of confrontation by playing nicey-nice or simply just avoiding the other party.  Sometimes the involved hearts are hardened.

 

As believers in Jesus Christ, we are to be continually forgiving each other and also praying for and being open to the possibility of reconciliation but it must be genuine biblical reconciliation.  If you have hurt someone, check your heart for readiness and then it’s up to you to make the next move.  If you’ve been hurt, prepare your heart for future reconciliation, by doing the work of forgiving, ridding yourself of bitterness and punishing attitudes.  I hope that you’ll begin to travel the road of reconciliation and that you’ll be blessed with the final result of peace within your own heart and mind as well as peace between you and others.