We 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. Thank you! It seems the idea of being squeezed touched something you all can understand. Some of you, like David, feel you are being squeezed a lot right now!
Here are some critical steps that can take you from being squeezed to thriving on the other side:
- The Wakeup Call: Kathrine’s best friend died when she was nine months pregnant: Kathrine realized her own physical health could put her in the same situation if she didn’t do something drastic. Oliver’s mother put all his belongings on the front porch and locked him out of the house when his drinking became a serious problem. Sometimes the only way we become willing to change is when something drastic happens, and we are forced.
- The Decision: Whether conscious or unconscious, we make a choice about how to respond to a squeezy situation. After many years of being miserable I determined to get to the root of my misery and learn how to be happy. If I had known then how many convoluted turns that journey would make, or how tough it would be, I’m not sure I would have taken the first step. But now, on the other side, I am so glad I did! It starts with that firm decision that no matter what, you WILL change.
- One Step at a Time: Getting help, learning to get up again when we fall down, developing a new habit in place of an old one – the specifics may vary for each of us. Al used Chantix to help him stop smoking. Kathrine stuck with it until she lost over 100 pounds. Perhaps for you it will mean becoming part of an accountability group, or changing the friends you hang out with. The point is – you do whatever it takes, for as long as it takes.
- The Heart Change: God makes a huge difference at this point. As Oliver said, “God is really good at getting that point across.” I believe the Serenity Prayer is a great one for such situations: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” Sometimes the biggest thing needing to be changed is our own heart – and that’s where we need to allow God to do His work.
- Surviving the Opposition: A thriving future is never a straight line from our present. There will be resistance – from our own hearts, from other people, and from outside. God’s enemy and ours, the devil, will not rest when he sees us moving for a positive change. We needs God’s wisdom to understand where our opposition is coming from, and when necessary to exercise spiritual warfare to move forward.
- Thriving and Useful: When we have been squeezed, and our heart is changed, the effects are real. A measure of joy and peace is present – and visible to those around us. As Arlene said, we become compassionate to others who are in the middle of their squeeze! Our character allows God to use us in bigger ways than ever before.
If you’re being squeezed now, take heart. Give God permission to do the heart change needed. Don’t give up: the future may be better than you think!
Your turn: How has your being squeezed caused a change in your character? Are there other important steps along the journey besides these? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
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