The Inside Out lesson

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After work today I finally made time to go see the movie, Inside Out. I had heard it was good, but really knew nothing more than what I had seen on the pre-movie trailers. It was a cute show, providing funny lines causing the audience to laugh in unison throughout. However, I found the Inside Out lesson deeper than just the opportunity to relax and have fun.

Just in case you have not been able to see the movie yet, I will be careful not to give away the storyline and spoil it for you. I do encourage you to watch the movie with open eyes and a tender heart. There are lines of deeper messages for the discerning viewer from the beginning of the movie to the last scene shown.

My favorite thing about Inside Out was the lesson regarding the importance and value of being honest with your emotions. Often times on the grief journey, you may be unable to express how you really feel. Your tears and fears are real and you should not be ashamed or hesitant to show them. There are times you may feel the need to deny your true emotions because you do not want to make others uncomfortable. You are not responsible for how others will respond to you and your walk with grief.

Drawing attention to yourself can be another reason you choose to put on a happy face and pretend to have a cheery attitude. Blending in and stuffing your emotions may seem the easiest thing to do most days. Unfortunately this practice will eventually catch up with you. In order to move forward in your grief, you need to experience and deal with the effects of your loss.

One emotion that the grieving encounter yet want to deny is simply – laughter and happiness. I remember the early days of my grief journey. There would be a moment when something actually struck me as funny and I would laugh, only to be appalled with myself. How could I possibly find levity so early after saying good-bye to my loved one? However, since that time, I have come to see the wisdom and necessity of some light-heartedness on the deep, long, painful journey of grief.

The Inside Out lesson reminded me that true friends and loving family members will accept you right where you are on your journey. There is no need to pretend that everything is just fine. While you do have hope and assurance that God gives strength for the hard days you will encounter, admitting your sadness and grieving your loss does not mean you lack trust or faith. Being honest makes you a courageous, truthful person who recognizes a need for help.

Go watch this movie and see for yourself the Inside Out lesson that you can apply to your own grief journey. May you find yourself smiling, laughing, and yes – even crying as you watch with open eyes and a tender heart.

Until next time –

Karen

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Grief Letters By Karen Bransgrove, Published by WestBow Press. You can order here.

Hardcover | 6 x 9 in | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869674

Softcover | 6 x 9 in | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869667

E-Book | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869650

Also available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Release and Drop

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The other day I was preparing a lesson to teach the kids at church. As I was writing the instructions for their activity, I was challenged to evaluate how well I succeed doing the very thing I was asking them to pursue.

On an index card, the children were to write down one item that is important to them. Then they are instructed to release and drop that card, explaining why they should let go of that item and share how hard or easy it would be to do so. Finally, the children are asked to determine something positive and God honoring that they would then put into their lives to fill that gap in order to replace the dropped item.

As the children release their cards, of course they are not actually removing those items from their lives. They will hopefully begin to understand priorities, though. It is far too easy to give certain activities and possessions power over our lives. We are never too young to begin learning that lesson.

Since I believe it is a good practice to do what I ask the kids to do, I contemplated what is in my life that I can release, drop and then replace. As adults, are we prepared to reflect and re-evaluate the items in which we invest? I think it is important to do this. How else can we be assured that our activities and material things are good for us as well as those around us? As we discover what we should remove, we then have an opportunity to fill that open space with something more valuable and meaningful.

So let us make our own lists! Here is part of mine to get the ball rolling. I want to release and drop from my life fear and anxiousness. Since Alan’s death, I have experienced being afraid and worrying about certain things such as being alone, my finances, taking care of the house and the future.

I choose to replace that fear and anxiousness, by remembering what the Bible says about trusting God and not worrying and being afraid. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6,7 NIV)

It is now your turn. Begin your journey to release and drop those harmful and joy-stealing things that have worked their way into your daily life. Then have fun and find freedom in replacing them with better choices. I believe you will find those new choices more beneficial for you and for those around you.

I have confidence that you can do this! Drop away!!!

Until next time –

Karen

Practice Makes Perfect?

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We grow up hearing the phrase, “Practice Makes Perfect,” yet I wonder if saying this can actually do more harm than good at times?

I have the pleasure of teaching piano to several young students these days. It is fun to watch them learn new things, and discover what they can do if they are willing apply the discipline required. In order for notes to be learned, rhythms conquered and pieces played musically, it does take real determination and practice time. However, I prefer to encourage them to practice in order to get better, not to be perfect.

This same philosophy can be true for life. “Practice Makes Better – Not Perfect.” For one thing, we set ourselves up for failure if we believe we can ever reach perfection. Only God is perfect. We may hit some real high points in our skills and achieve our goals once in a while. However, the ability to be consistent in these achievements all of the time is what makes perfection unattainable.

Do we just give up and call it a day then? I hope not! While I know that I am far from perfect and that I will fail as I work hard in life, I also know that I can make a difference in this world. My efforts are important and serve purpose. So are yours!

When I am weak and fall short of my goal, I can still find strength in knowing that at least I tried and hopefully I learned something from my shortcomings. I can ask, “What is it God is trying to teach me through this lesson?” One important message I must keep in mind is that I am only strong and successful when God is my strength and I allow Him to determine my path and direction.

Another lesson we can absorb in falling short at times is that we can develop empathy for those around us who also struggle. If we always win and are successful at everything we try, then we may have difficulty understanding when those around us fail in their attempts in life. May God use those hard lessons we face to soften our own hearts and minds towards the battle others may be fighting so that we can lend a hand – either literally or prayerfully.

As you begin this week and you have your to-do-list in front of you, what will be your goal of practice? Will it be to strive for perfection and be disappointed, or will it be to focus on getting better, thereby honoring the One who allows you the skills in the first place.

Until next time –

Karen