What is your why? Day 6.

If you haven’t read What is your why? Covid Questions, make sure you read that first. Each post this week will build off each other

Did you start your Covid-19 journal yet? Did you write your first entry? Have you been writing about what you have been doing? Have you been writing about the good and the bad? Have you been fully honest? Remember, no one else will read it.

If you have been following along this week, I have asked you to explore several questions. The first question is, why God? Then I challenged you take a seat and try to imagine how God would answer you. Yesterday I asked you a question that I have struggled to answer myself. What answer could God give you that would satisfy your ‘why’ God question?

Tomorrow I am going to post my next blog in my current series – Covid questions. In the mean time, grab out your journal and keep on writing.

Because there is more,

Lisa

What is your why? Day 5.

If you haven’t read What is your why? Covid Questions, make sure you read that first. Each post this week will build off each other

Did you start your Covid-19 journal yet? Have you been writing about what you have been doing? Have you been writing about the good and the bad? Have you been fully honest? Remember, no one else will read it.

Did you make a list of your why Gods? If not, start there.

This week we have spent some time writing out our ‘why’ questions.

We have spent some time thinking through how God might answer.

Yesterday I encouraged you think through whether or not you have allowed your ‘why‘ questions to become a barrier between you and God.

Today I have a tough question for you. What answer could God give you that would satisfy your longing to know ‘why‘?

-Would it help if he told you the reason you have Cancer is because you are going to start a successful non-profit that is going find the cure?

-Would it help if you knew your brother’s death saved 5 people’s lives through Organ Donation?

-Would it help if you could be certain he is in heaven?

-Would it help if you knew that the person who abused you will get the death penalty?

-Would it help if you knew he saved you because you are going to be a very important person?

Is this a tough one to answer?

That’s okay. Let’s stay here for awhile.

More tomorrow,

Lisa

What is your why? Day 4.

If you haven’t read What is your why? Covid Questions, make sure you read that first. Each post this week will build off each other.

Did you start your Covid-19 journal yet? Have you been writing about what you have been doing? Have you been writing about the good and the bad? Have you been fully honest? Remember, no one else will read it.

Did you make a list of your why Gods? If not, start there.

We are going to explore a new question today. Have you allowed your ‘why’ to create a barrier between you and God?

As I shared, I was consumed by my ‘why’ after my transplant. I felt like if I knew there was a reason for it, I would feel okay about what happened. But over time, no answer would satisfy my deep longing to understand ‘why‘. I got mad and frustrated with God and a wedge was created between us. My ‘why‘ created a blind spot and I could no longer see who God is.

We have spent some time thinking about our whys. I’ve encouraged you to bring your questions to God, as you would a friend. Yesterday I challenged you to think about how God might respond to your question ‘why‘.

Now it’s time to grab out that journal and ask yourself this question, “Have I allowed my ‘why’ to create a barrier between me and God?

How would you know? Here are a few questions to ask yourself that might help you see.

Is your relationship with God different now than it was before whatever caused you to ask ‘why’ in the first place?

Do you find yourself constantly trying to make sense of what happened?

Do you find yourself trusting God less and relying on your reasoning more?

Do you have a hard time believing that God could be good when he lets bad things happen?

I would love to hear your answers! Comment below if you are comfortable or email me at Lisdschmidt@gmail.com.

More tomorrow,

Lisa

What is your why? Day 3.

If you haven’t read What is your why? Covid Questions, make sure you read that first. Each post this week will build off each other

Did you start your Covid-19 journal yet? Did you write your first entry? Have you been writing about what you have been doing? Have you been writing about the good and the bad? Have you been fully honest? Remember, no one else will read it.

Did you make a list of your why Gods? If not, start there.

Today we are going to try something. It might silly at first, but I want you to try it. Grab two chairs, your coffee and journal. We are going to have a conversation with God.

Photo by Emre Can on Pexels.com

I want you to pretend that God is sitting in the chair across from you. Settle in. I want you to ask, out loud, your why questions to God. Then I want you to pause and take a moment to listen. How do you think he would answer? Write down your thoughts. Some of you may not be able to come up with an answer, some of you may be able to fill up a whole page. Take some time, don’t rush this exercise.

More tomorrow,

Lisa

What is your why? Day 2.

If you haven’t read What is your why? Covid Questions, make sure you read that first. Each post this week will build off each other

Did you start a Covid-19 journal yet? Did you write your first entry?

Today I want you to grab your journal and start writing out all of your why Gods. They can be related Covid-19 or not. They can be small or big. They can be silly or serious.

Here a few why questions I want to ask God….

Why did you create Sloths? Do they have a purpose?

Why did you create Mosquitoes?

Why didn’t God stop the holocaust?

Why did I live and my donor Cheri die?

Why won’t you take my anxiety away?

Why do you give me dreams that seem like they will never happen?

Why don’t you stop the Coronavirus?

I would love to hear some of your why questions. If you feel comfortable, leave a comment. If not, email me: Lisdschmidt@gmail.com.

More tomorrow,

Lisa

What is your why? Day 1.

If you haven’t read What is your why? Covid Questions, go back and do that first. Each post this week will build on each other.

First, things first. Have you started a Covid-19 journal yet? If not, start there. Go and order a fancy journal on Amazon if that would motivate you. I usually just grab an old notebook. Staple some loose paper together if that’s all you have.

Why?

Because we are in the midst a defining moment in history.

Our children’s children will read about Covid-19 in their history books. They will discuss what we did right and what we did wrong. They will learn stories of sacrifice. They will learn about how schools were shut down and for the first time in history people could not gather to celebrate Easter. They will see pictures of makeshift hospitals and people cheering from their balconies as the hospital workers left their shifts each night.

In years to come we will sit around and talk about when it first hit us, when we realized that our lives were about to change. We will remember exactly where we were when the President banned European travel. We will talk about the first time in our life that we were ordered to stay home.

But what we could easily forget are the little moments. We quickly forget the little things, the moments that matter the most. We forget our moments of sorrow. We forget our moments of joy and laughter. We forget our moments of fear. We forget the moments that we cried out to God asking ‘why‘?

So that is the challenge for today, find a journal and commit to writing in it during Covid 19. Lets commit to not forgetting the little things. Write your first entry today. Talk about what you did. Talk about how you felt. Write about the good and about the bad. No one will see it, so be completely honest. Years from now, when we look back and we are able to remember how far we have come from today, we will be glad we did.

Because there is more,

Lisa

What is your why? Covid Questions.

Why won’t God just take this Coronavirus away?” my daughter cried out. 

She has asked that same question amongst sobs the last few nights as we tucked her into bed. And each time, no matter how I say it, my answer is never adequate. 

Because “I don’t know” is the only answer I have to give her. I can’t speak for everyone, but “I don’t know” tends to be a very unsatisfying answer for people. 

She is not alone in asking why during this crisis. Nor is this the first crisis that has brought people to their knees begging God for an answer. I personally have been asking God “why?” for a long, long time. And as we ask God “why”, we join a chorus of people that have been asking the same question from the beginning of time. 

David is a prime example. He was the one that slayed Goliath with a slingshot and rock. He wrote 73 of the Psalms found in the bible and is the main character of many of the Sunday school stories we have heard over the years. He is known as the man after God’s own heart. Yet we hear him cry out to God in Psalm 13:1 saying “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?” This is just one of the many times we hear David crying out to God, feeling forgotten by him. 

This is just one example. As you read through the bible you do not have to look far before you come across someone crying out to God in anguish- asking why.

And that question continues to echo in the minds and hearts of many of us today. 

After my liver transplant I was consumed by the why behind it all. I felt like if I could make sense of it, if there was a purpose behind it, I would be okay with it. God would use me in someone’s life and I would quickly think “Oh that’s why! God saved me so I could encourage someone else who had a chronic illness.” When I did that, I found myself quickly disappointed when I compared the pain I had experienced to the perceived benefit of the recipient. That why didn’t measure up to the one I was looking for. 

I pleaded with God, I begged him, to tell me why. 

People certainly had their ideas of why, but nothing would satisfy that nagging question that brought anguish to my soul. 

What about you? What is your why?

Your why questions will look different from mine. 

Your’s may sound more like this…

Why did you take my mom away from me?

Why did he have to die so young?

Why did I have to get that diagnosis?

Why can’t I get pregnant, when the deepest longing of my heart is to be a mom?

Why does that person seem to have it so easy, when everything feels so hard for me? 

Why do bad things happen to good people?

And today, the question on a lot of our minds is, why can’t you just take the Coronavirus away?

Most people I know have a why, some have more than one. For some of us, what starts as a simple question, evolves into a consuming force. 

Our why becomes our blind spot. 

I have been there. After my transplant I was blinded by my why for many years. 

I got so consumed with trying to understand why, I was no longer really asking a question. I was just angry. I was frustrated. I was fed up. I didn’t actually want to listen, I just wanted something to change. I want my pleas to be heard and my demands to be met. Now. 

My anger and frustration blinded me. Because of that, even if God did answer me, I wouldn’t have seen or heard it. Each year, the wedge between God and I got greater and greater. Over time that simple question created a barrier between me and the one who held the answer I so desperately sought after. 

Have you been there?

I know a lot of people who are not following Jesus. I have actually NEVER met someone who isn’t following Jesus because of who Jesus is. Most people I know aren’t following Jesus because of an unanswered why. It’s usually because something horrible happened to them. They cried out “why God? with no answer that would satisfy. And even if God had tried to answer, they couldn’t hear it, because their anger and frustration blocked their sight. Their why created a blind spot, blocking their view of who God really is. 

Do you relate?

I usually like to wrap up my blogs with a nice neat bow. I like to end my blog with a challenge or an encouragement. But this one is going to be different, we are going to end here. Because before moving forward, I want us to wrestle a bit this week with these two questions. 

What is your why (s)?

Have you allowed your why(s) to become a blind spot? 

Throughout this coming week, I’ll post thoughts each day to get us thinking about our why’s. Make sure to subscribe to my blog at www.Lisadschmidt.com so you don’t miss anything! 

Also this content is available in video format-check it out! https://youtu.be/fX29GWJKhfA

Because there is more,

Lisa

I had a moment. Coronavirus thoughts.

I had a moment last week.

It was a nice day and I was sitting outside reading. Usually, I would feel guilty sitting and reading in the middle of the day. But on that day, instead of feeling guilty, I paused and took a deep breath. I felt content. I felt peaceful. I thought to myself “I could get used to this. This feels like a healthy pace for our family.” 

I had a moment of acceptance. 

It was the moment that I (we) was working so hard to experience. 

It was worth all the hard work. 

I am beginning to accept the fact that I cannot work right now and probably won’t for a while. 

I am beginning to accept the fact that my kids will not go back to school and will be home with me every day for 4 more months.

I am beginning to accept the fact that I can’t meet my friends for coffee, go to the gym or go to Target without a mask.

I am beginning to accept the fact that sports have been canceled, events have been postponed and places of entertainment have shut down. 

I am beginning to accept my new reality and I am starting to see it’s beauty. 

And because of that, I feel like I can finally take a deep breath. 

I don’t want to make it sound like every moment since then has been peaceful and full of joy. As I mentioned early on in this journey, grief is not linear. I still have moments of depression. I am still trying to control my boundaries. I still have moments where I want to retreat to denial and believe that none of this is real. I have dreams about Covid-19 and I wake up hoping it’s all just a bad dream. 

But because I have worked hard and have had glimpses of the peace acceptance brings, I don’t stay in those previous phases of grief very long. I’m lured back to the place of acceptance by the comfort that it brings. 

I have spent most of my life trying to fight against and control my reality. As I have mentioned many times, so much has happened to me that I fiercely fight to secure any sense of control I can. It took me 16 years after my Liver transplant to finally accept what happened to me. When I did that, I truly became a new person. The Lisa that God created began to resurface again. 

I have never been so relieved. 

Feeling the need to control everything is a heavy burden to bear. One I was never designed to carry. 

You aren’t either. 

That is the reason I have been writing and sharing about grief during Covid-19. I want you to learn from my mistakes. I don’t want you to have to wait 16 years, 16 months or even 16 extra days to come to place of acceptance of the new reality Covid-19 has thrust upon us. Striving to control what is out of your control is fruitless and exhausting. 

So let’s keep working.

It starts by being aware. Are you reacting in a disproportionate way to a situation? Do you find yourself lashing out for no good reason? Are you struggling to get out of bed?

Name it. Name the emotion that you are experiencing. Let your reactions be your teacher. 

Claim it. Declare it. Own it. Naming your emotions and recognizing that they stem from a place of grief will greatly accelerate your healing. 

Give it a space and a place

Do you need to just vent? Find a safe person you can vent to.

Do you need to go to bed? Go to bed.

Give it to Jesus. He knows anyway. He created grief as a pathway to healing. Invite him into your process. Lay your emotions before him and surrender. 

Then move on. Do the next thing you need to do. You have given the emotion the space and place it needs, it’s time to move on – whether you feel like it or not! 

Then do it all over again. 

And again. And again. And again. 

And then soon, before you know it, you will be sitting outside on a nice day and you will find yourself taking a deep breath. You will feel grateful. You will realize that all your hard work was worth it for this moment.

The moment of acceptance. 

Because there is more,

Lisa

Do I have to get out of bed? Coronavirus thoughts.

depressed

Over the last several weeks I have been trying to unpack the grief stages in the context of Covid-19. This week I want to take a closer look at depression.

Before I move forward, it is important to distinguish the difference between clinical depression and depression as recognized within the grief process. Clinical depression tends to be a long term battle. It’s onset can sometimes be linked to a particular event. Oftentimes it seems to overcome someone out of the blue. Someone can seemingly have a perfect life and still struggle with depression. It is often a result of a chemical imbalance and medication is helpful.

I believe we need to look at depression in the context of grief through a different lens. Depression in the context of grief is a deep sadness and despair that manifests itself as a direct result of a loss. The feelings are specifically linked to the loss experienced. Because of this difference between clinical depression and depression in the context of grief, it is important that we don’t just look at them differently, we need to deal with them differently as well.

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Let me explain.

When I meet someone who is experiencing clinical depression, I will respond differently to them than I would to someone that is experiencing depression as a result of loss. With someone dealing with long term, clinical depression, I would be incredibly graceful. I would encourage them to see a counselor. I would make sure they don’t feel any shame in taking medication. I would celebrate with them on the days they got out of bed. I would rejoice with each small victory.

But if I knew you were feeling depressed as a direct result of a loss, I would be more forthright. I would be more direct because I don’t want you to get stuck there. Depression in the context of grief can easily lead to long term, clinical depression if you don’t deal with it properly. Because I know it’s a phase and I know that God created a way out, I would challenge you to keep moving forward – to take the next steps. God created grief as a pathway to healing. Each stepping stone, each phase, is designed to bring us closer to wholeness. The stones are big enough to step on, but not a great place to rest.

steppingstone2

I’m willing to be wrong, but I think that as we are experiencing depression in the context of grief, we have to enter into the battle ready to fight and to not let it overcome us. I don’t mean that we ignore it or pretend that we are happy and grateful when truly our heart and mind is full of despair. We need to give it the space and place that it deserves and then move on.

We have lost so much in such a short amount of time and honestly this is just the beginning. WE NEED TO GRIEVE and we have a good reason to be sad and depressed. But decide how much space you are going to give it. Do you need a day to lay in bed? Then lay in bed for a day and then get up. Do you need to take a nap and cry? Then take a nap and cry and then text a friend to catch up. Do you need to tell someone about all the horrible things that are happening? Find a safe person. Tell them you just need to vent. Vent for 10 minutes and then move on.

But this is key, you can’t let your feelings guide your actions for long. You can’t wait to feel like getting out of bed before you get out of bed. You spend your allotted time there and then you get up, whether you feel like it or not. I HATE THIS ADVICE! It is the hardest advice that was ever given to me, but it has been the most effective. Do the next thing you planned to do, even if you feel depressed while doing so. Most of the time we just need to get out of our heads. If you don’t have plans, make some. Go serve someone. Call a friend that you know is alone. Read a book. Listen to a podcast. Watch a funny show. Go for a walk. Every time we do that, we win, the depression loses its grip on us and we are able to continue on the path towards healing.

getoutofbed

If you try to ignore the depression, it will consume you. But if you give it a space and a place, I think you will find that you will move through the phase much more quickly.

Right now, in the midst of Covid-19, I am vacillating between depression and acceptance.

A couple days ago I was really feeling depressed. I value feeling purposeful and my biggest struggle during this time is that I don’t feel purposeful. I’m not working. I work hard on my blogs. I write because I feel called to, but I wish I was called to something else. I really want to get a job with a non-profit, but recently I’ve felt convinced that every non-profit is probably going to run out of money and I’ll end up working at McDonalds for the rest of my life (nope, my thoughts don’t spiral at all). I had planned on walking with a friend. I walked into the bedroom and declared to Bryan “I am cancelling my plans and I am going to lay in bed for the rest of the day.” Bryan has gotten a bit used to my bold declarations over the years, so he calmly said “Just let me know what you decide to do.”

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I layed down exasperated in our bed and cried. I laid there for about 10 minutes and realized, although this is what I want to do – this isn’t what I really need. So I got up and got ready for my walk. As I was getting my shoes on, Bryan asked “You’re feeling better I assume?” I replied “Nope, but I decided I didn’t want to be depressed for the rest of the day so I’m going on a walk. Even though I don’t feel like it.”

By the time I got home from my walk, I felt like a new person. I felt refreshed and ready to enjoy the rest of the day

Friends, I could be wrong, but I’ll tell you what, I have grieved well and I have also done it horribly. These things have worked for me in the past as I have navigated my way through the depression that accompanies grief. So if you start to feel depressed, try these things, see what happens, learn from my mistakes. If they don’t help, set them aside. But no matter what you do remember that in the context of grief, depression is designed to be a phase – not a way of life.

So let’s keep on moving forward one stepping stone at a time,

Because there is more,

Lisa

How flexible are your boundaries? Coronavirus thoughts.

drawingaboundryline

Bargaining has always been a tougher phase of grief for me to recognize in my own life. When people think about bargaining in the context of grief, people oftentimes think of the “what if’s” “What if I had just gotten there sooner?” “What if I had gone to the doctor earlier?” The hard thing about that in our current context, is that outside of stocking up on toilet paper sooner, there is nothing that we personally could have done differently. Everyone I know, including myself, had no idea the upheaval that Covid-19 would cause.

But I think if we pause and look a little closer we can see how much bargaining is playing out in our daily lives. Think of bargaining as the subtle slope that starts to bring us back to reality. Denial and anger keep us outside of reality. When we are in denial we don’t believe anything has changed. Anger is just chaotic. We lash out and we don’t really even know why. All we know is we are angry and anyone who gets in our way is going to be the object of our wrath. Bargaining starts to bring us down to reality. We start to realize that yes, things have changed. We start to get small glimpses of our new reality. But as we enter back in, we try to enter back in on our own terms. We cling to the illusion that we still have a sense of control. We bargain. We make trade offs. We create boundaries.

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As I’ve slowly started to move out of anger, these are a few ways I’ve seen bargaining play out. Here are some of the bargains I’ve made.

-Even though I’m autoimmune, I won’t get Covid-19. I take really good care of myself. I will wear a mask, but only if I go to the store.

-I can’t totally isolate, so I decided to go on walks with someone outside of my immediate family each day.

-I have made a schedule that I stick to each day (I’m not working).

-I have a list of projects to finish.

These ideas and practices are not wrong within themselves. In fact they have served as helpful coping mechanisms for me over the last several weeks.

The question then is, where is the line between healthy coping mechanisms and unresolved grief that I need to process through?

For me, I’m starting to recognize the difference between the two by noting how I respond when I’m asked to step out of the boundaries I have created. Are my boundaries rigid or flexible?

flexiblevsrigid

Let me give you a few examples.

As I mentioned earlier, I am autoimmune and therefore more susceptible to getting Covid-19. I may not be as cautious as some would like me to be, but I’ve created boundaries that are working for me. I still go on walks with people that are outside of my immediate family. I need the social outlet. Some people may not think that is wise and some people have told me so. How I react to people’s comments is telling. Do I respond with listening ears and a receptive heart? Or do I get defensive and angry when people question my boundaries? My response will speak volumes of the state of my grief.

If I respond from a place of anger or defensiveness, there is a good chance I feel like someone is threatening my boundaries. We cling to and defend those rigid boundaries because they have created for us a sense of control.
If I respond with grace and humility there is a good chance that I have flexibility around my boundaries. I take time to consider if I need to adjust my current boundaries (which might mean less physical flexibility) and make changes as necessary.

What about how you use your time? What if you are confronted about that? I feel like people are living in two extremes: they are so overwhelmed by everything they become paralyzed and therefore can’t do anything. Or, people are so disoriented, they can’t stop doing things. The hustle keeps them from dealing with their current reality. I tend to do the latter. I figure if I keep on moving, I don’t have to deal with the deep despair I am afraid I would experience if I slowed down. How do I respond when that is questioned?

Do I get angry and explode and say things like “at least I’m doing something?” Or do I respond and say “Yes, you are probably right, I need to take a break. I need to adjust my boundaries.”

react-respond

I would love to spare you some pain. Control is an illusion. I’ve wasted years of my life to try to prove otherwise. For a long time after my liver transplant I thought I had accepted my new reality. I hadn’t. What I had done was create a reality with boundaries that worked for me, a reality that felt safe and secure. But it was all an illusion. It was incredibly beautiful, disorienting and painful when that world crumbled. But I’m so glad it did, because I finally got to see what I had been missing all along.

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The same thing is true in our current context. As we continue on our grief journey and start to get glimpses of our new reality, it will be tempting to try to enter in on our own terms. Our natural instinct will be to create our own world that feels safe and secure, a reality that gives us the sense of being in control. That world cannot sustain us and will crumble under pressure. That world may feel safe, but don’t stay there. You will miss out. Because on the other side of grief, there is a big world waiting. It is a world that God created with all of time in his sight. It is a world full of adventure, sorrow, joy and pain. But we can have peace as we experience all those things, because we know we live in a world that God created and holds in the palms of his hands.

hesgotthewholeworld

Because there is more,

Lisa