The Journey From Being Squeezed to Thriving

Pressure GaugeWe don’t like being squeezed! Just the thought of it is uncomfortable. And yet it’s the only way we know what’s truly inside of us. (For the “Squeezed” story, see “What Changes You?”)

What happens when we get squeezed? Our first reaction is usually to cry something like, “That’s not fair!” “Why me?”

When some people get squeezed they become bitter, angry, and isolated. And other people take those times of being squeezed and leverage them into an opportunity for growth. What makes the difference? What is it that determines whether one’s heart becomes softened and matured, or hardened and brittle? (Yes, I do believe you can choose which outcome happens to you.)

A few of you shared bits of your own stories of being squeezed that I’ve included here.

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Fast Food or Gourmet Meals – for the Soul

HamburgersThe average American eats fast food several times a week. Most of us realize that fast food is much less healthy than most food prepared and eaten at home. But with our love of convenience, our fast-paced lifestyle, and the lure of hyper-palatable food we have become believers – and consumers.

We love fast food in other areas of our lives as well. We love entertainment that’s ready-made, internet-produced intimate relationships, and “drive-through breakthroughs” in our spiritual life. We are running so fast that the real hungers we struggle with often get no nourishing food at all. Perhaps that’s one reason so many of us struggle with addictions: we are desperately trying to feed our hungers with food that does not satisfy.

Fast food provides a quick fix for an empty stomach, but the quality of nourishment and the level of satisfaction it provides are very small. A few hours later you’ll be craving food again.

On the other hand, a tasty and healthy meal you and your family look forward to takes longer to prepare, but is much more satisfying, not to mention nourishing.

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What Do You Want?

Anxious Young WomanIt’s one of the first questions I ask a patient who comes to see me: “What do you want us to accomplish together?” As a gynecologist and reproductive endocrinologist I might get answers such as, “To get pregnant,” or “get rid of this pain,” or “regulate my periods,” or “stop these hot flashes.” Of course there are plenty of other possible answers also.

So much frustration, misunderstanding, disappointment, and upset feelings can be avoided by getting this clear up front. Medically, I may or may not be able to help a patient get what they want, but it’s always the most important issue to address.

The same thing holds true in so many areas of life. Clarifying what you want dramatically increases your chance of getting it.

Even Jesus followed this when talking with people. He often asked something like, “What do you want me to do for you? (See Matt 20:32, Mark 10:36, John 5:6). Even God has a hard time satisfying us if we have no idea what we want!

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Asking Your Input: What Changes You?

Young Lady WritingChange is fascinating. There’s a whole scientific literature on change: psychologists love that kind of stuff. And don’t we all want to change in some way?

Call it transformation if you want, but the basic message of the gospel is one of change. God promised to change out our stony heart for one of flesh: the original heart transplant! (See Eze 36:26). We are told His Holy Spirit is changing us into the likeness of Christ. (See 2 Cor 3:18). Is that happening for you?

I know I’m not the same person I was some fifteen or twenty years ago. I grew up a very troubled young woman in a very troubled family. I spent quite a few years as a “basket case.” Today I’m incredibly happy, married, and professionally and personally successful. I’m sure no one who knows me now would call me troubled or a basket case!

Something changed. I changed. My core DNA is different. What goes on in my mind when I see someone, or when I face a problem, is different. And that’s a good thing.

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5 Things I Know For Sure

Confident WomanSome days are definitely better than others. Some days it seems everything goes wrong: perhaps the washing machine doesn’t work, a forgotten item shows up on your bank statement, and your spouse is sick.  A person’s emotions can get more than a little upset!

I don’t believe God intends for every one of our days to be easy. We would have no incentive to grow and mature if that were the case. He uses the difficult times to work transformation in us that nothing else can accomplish. He’s much more interested in our character than our comfort! He hurts when we hurt, but His purpose is much bigger than what we often see.

When things are frustrating, painful, difficult, or confusing, it helps to have some things settled – some things you know for sure. It gives you a place to go back to if you feel you’re getting lost. And that’s especially valuable on bad days – or weeks, or longer.

Here are a few things I have settled for good, things I know for sure:

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