Monthly Archives: March 2013

How do you silence the negative voice?

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Photograph courtesy of Tracey Berry. Find more images like these on Instagram and follow @traceaberry

This week I joined an online writing community at The Write Practice.

Today’s challenge was to write about how to use “positive self talk” to keep writing. I decided to share my entry here as well. I think we all struggle with voices that work against us whether as artists, writers or simply in life. I’d love you to comment and tell me how you deal with the voices.

Just because you buried him at sea yesterday doesn’t mean he won’t raise his ugly head today. He resents the way you ignored him, rowed out in your dinghy and dropped him over the edge. You returned to shore with the spirit of a conqueror. The first time this happened you thought you had defeated him. That he could not reach you anymore. Yet his anger roared beneath the surface of the water. The wind came, the tides turned. Seagulls took messages scribed with your anxiety and dropped them out at sea. He fed on these. He knew your secret and his strength grew. The small voice of his criticism attached itself to every failure you’d had. He created waves that raged and licked the surface of your cliff. In your despair, you watched this and prayed for a strategy. If you didn’t tame him, he would erode your life.

You are wise to his ways now. You know how to gain control. The effort is wearisome but if you just let it go, don’t tame that monster, he will win. You don’t ignore him anymore. Instead you appease him. Give him a little attention. Acknowledge that he’s there. For the first five minutes of the morning you agree with everything he told you. That life sucks. That things aren’t fair. That you have no talent, no ability to succeed. You converse with him from the edge of your small boat, so glad you remembered to row out there while things were still calm. He seems satisfied with this and let’s you row away. As you do you smile secretly to yourself. You observe the sky’s expanse, a canvas for new possibilities. You smell the sea salt and become aware of your thirst. You hear the gulls cry. They mock and tease you because like the lie you’ve sunk, they think you’re defeated.

Yet you’re not defeated. Not today. Today you win because you put your bum in your chair and you wrote. You wrote badly. You wrote honestly. You did the work you knew you had to do. You tamed the monster. You acknowledge the fact that there would be lots of first drafts, edits, re-edits. You wrote anyway. You silenced the voice that told you it was not possible.

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Wedding Day 8th December 2011

Our dear friend Scott captured it so perfectly. Thank you Scott, Sonja and Anders for all you did to make this day so special. 

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March 15, 2013 · 8:42 pm

What are you hanging on to?

Afterlives

He gripped each thought like the rung of a ladder by which to haul himself back to the knowable, back to his life. M.L. Stedman

In my preschool class we’re up to Day 6 in our ongoing Bible study about creation. My ultimate goal is for the children to understand the language of God, to discover His ways and to know His presence. I don’t mind if they forget the order of events or whether they believe the world was created in a literal seven days or not. They have years ahead of them to debate these theories. What matters most to me, is when they feel surrounded in darkness, devoid of hope, they’ll know to call on their God. I want them to learn the language of possibility. To discover that when everything seems impossible, with God they’ll find a way.

We’ve had so many tactile experiences over the last few weeks. In my mind, it’s not enough to hear about a concept, you need to experience things to really learn. So we’ve rolled silver glitter into black play dough to represent “let there be light,” we’ve finger painted shaving foam on pale blue plastic sheets to represent sky and water, we’ve planted seeds, we’ve painted the sun and the stars and the moon on the interactive whiteboard and searched for sea creatures in a homemade ocean of slime.

Each week when we come back together I ask “What do we already know?”

“Let there be light,” the children chorus from the tops of their lungs. I smile. I congratulate them on their knowledge. “That’s great, what else do we know?” In spite of all my fabulous lessons the same chorus is repeated again and again. “Let there be light!” yelling now as if I didn’t hear them the first time.

I look into all their flawless faces with their bright eyes and cheeky smiles. I laugh. I open the book and remind them of all the other discussions we’ve had. Slowly they join me in remembering, they put up their hands, with a little prompting we make a verbal list of all the wonders of God’s world.

This experience with the children has made me wonder. “Let there be light,” might be the only phrase one ever needs to know. Especially when it’s sung in a collective voice with genuine desire for understanding. I’ve spent many months in my personal study, contemplating what exactly happened at the Tower of Babel. Genesis 11:6 records “the Lord said, Behold, they are one people and they all have one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do, and now nothing they imagined will be impossible to them.” The bible goes on to say that God went and confused their language so they couldn’t understand each other and scattered them all over the earth.

I find this hard to understand. Why would God who is good want to make life so hard? Why does He allow battles to come? Why does He allow us to be overwhelmed by challenges? Are challenges a gift from God that are sent to make us grow?

I’ve lived in a season where everything was easy then overnight everything was hard. The language of my whole world was confused in an instant and none of it made sense. Yet in this vast darkness God drew near. He taught me to dream bigger dreams.

Dreams are the manifestation of the impossible. They keep you awake at night. They build determination within you to learn new skills, to speak a new language, to crack impossible codes. When all is dark you discover a language you’ve never known before. As you pursue it, light comes. It’s small at first. Merely a speck. Like the children with the glitter, you cry out to God for more. You roll the lights into the darkness that seems to never end. An endless night sky. Years of weeping. Years of pain. Yet the dream is ever before you just as it was for Abraham who counted the stars and the grains of sand.

As the years pass, my request is the same. At the end of the day I pray for wisdom, discernment and understanding which is just another way of saying “let there be light.” God responds in stories, reminding me of the ladder that Jacob saw in His dream, of angels ascending and descending. “I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised.” Genesis 28:15

I hang onto this promise like the rungs on a ladder and as I do I climb closer to the fulfilment of dreams.

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