Fear and Death Bed Regrets

Jodie StevensAn article written by a hospice worker describes the top regrets most patients have at the end of their lives. One of the most common is:

“I wish I would have let myself be happier.”

Why did so many of them have this regret? According to our hospice worker:

“Many did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.”

http://hospicepatients.org/five-regrets-of-the-dying-bronnie-ware.html

Joy, change, risk and even silliness, they seem simple enough; yet they all equal fear on some level. Little children seem to be the only ones who take this risk on a regular basis. Perhaps this is why Jesus said we out to become like them.

“I wish I would have let myself be happier.”

I hope I don’t let fear make this my ultimate fate.

Jodie Stevens

What Determines Happiness?

Jodie StevensI’ve heard that genetics and environmental influences account for roughly half of our overall happiness, and the other half is our thoughts and actions.

The good news about past negative environmental influences is they can often be overcome through counseling and recovery programs. The bad news is that it’s easy to let our past determine our future potential for happiness by telling ourselves we are powerless over it, when really the opposite is true.

If we’ve been trained to think one way, then it’s certainly possible to retrain our brain to think differently.

Over the years I’ve worked hard to think more positively and the results have been pretty astounding. I’m about 80 percent happier than I was 10 years ago.

Is there something that’s keeping you from letting yourself be happy today? Don’t let it be past circumstances. And don’t believe the lie that fate will have its’ way.

Although bad things happen, often times our thoughts and decisions have more of an impact on our lives than the things out of our control.

Jodie Stevens

Expectations

Jodie StevensLife is not fair. My head knows it’s true but my heart still doesn’t get it.

If you’re a parent you may be experiencing grief because you envisioned your children would turn out differently and they didn’t.

If you grew up in a dysfunctional or abusive family, you may be angry because you expected your parents to love you, but they didn’t.

Maybe a relationship ended badly and you hoped it would turn out otherwise, but it didn’t.

My expectations of how things should have been triggered many of my troubles.

Today my motto is ‘accept not expect.’

When things don’t go as I’d planned I can pray for God to “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.”

Courage is having the confidence to ask for what I need. And acceptance is the serenity that comes from leaving the results up to God no matter how it works out.

Jodie Stevens

Does Pursuing Righteousness Pay Off?

Jodie Stevens
2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us:

“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.”

While some changes may be instantaneous, for most of us that ‘new creation’ happens gradually over our lifetime.

You may feel like you’re not making much progress and then one day you find you’re not as angry or fearful as you once were. Perhaps you’re less impulsive and more discipline.

Often times it’s tempting to give up. Especially when feelings of hopelessness, defeat, fear, and self-pity engulf us and we can’t see who we are in Christ. In these instances It’s a good idea to pray for the continuance talked about in the Life Recovery Bible:

“Like a soldier, we are in a war that we can win only if we fight to the end. Like an athlete, we must train for a new way of life and follow the steps of recovery to the finish line. Like a farmer, we must do our work in every season and then wait patiently until we see growth. If we stop before reaching the goal, we may lose everything we have fought, trained, and worked so hard for.”

Furthermore, Galatians 6:9 affirms that if we diligently peruse righteousness we will be rewarded:

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

Jodie Stevens

Poor Boundaries and Anger

Jodie StevensBoundaries

God laid the word on my heart years ago after a road rage incident.

Almost a decade had passed since I kicked a hole in a door or smashed a jar of spaghetti against the wall. But I still couldn’t seem to master my emotions behind the wheel.

The problem was that I lacked healthy boundaries. As a child I learned to stuff my feelings and never verbalize them because I unconsciously believed they didn’t count, which opened the door for others to take advantage of me.

In the book Boundaries, Townsend and Cloud reference Galatians 6:2 which says we are to: “Carry each other’s burdens.” But they also reference verse 5 which says: “Each one should carry their own load.”

For so many years I was carrying my own burdens, which are meant to be shared with another. In addition, I was trying to help everyone else carry their loads, which are not meant to be shared.

As a result, I had a storage house of suppressed anger towards everyone I allowed manipulate or take advantage of me. Since I was afraid to stand up for myself, venting my anger on a stranger seemed safer than asking for what I needed.

Now I pray for the continual courage to speak up when it’s appropriate, say no when I need to, and let go of others peoples’ disappointments.

Jodie Stevens

Do You Make Decisions Based On Your Fear

Jodie StevensBehavioral scientist James clear says: “Fear based decision-making is when you let your fears or worries dictate your actions or in most cases, your lack of action.”

An example would be: “I’d love to write a book, but what if people hate it? Maybe I should read more before I start writing.”

I’ve probably lost more than I’ve gained using that line of reasoning.

The one benefit of doing nothing is the assurance that nothing will happen, which is initially very comforting. But eventually those unfulfilled desires will begin to nag at you.

For instance, I always wanted to do theater. I went to an audition my freshmen year in college:

“Keep going,” the director said.

“I can’t do this,” I replied, and walked off stage.

I was 19. Now I’m in my forties doing theatre and loving it. They say it’s never too late and while that may be true, most of the people I’m performing with are 15 to 20 years younger than me.

We’ve all heard the famous acronym for fear: False Evidence Appearing Real.

The only ‘false evidence,’ was my lack of self-worth. It was easier to give up and imagine I could’ve been great, than to face the possibly of rejection and have to live with it.

Isaiah 41:10 says: “Fear not, for I am with you.” That is God saying he is always present, the Bible’s version of ‘just do it’…

Now imagine what amazing things God might have for us if we could be obedient to His word and not give into fear.

Jodie Stevens

God Knows Why Before We Do

Jodie StevensPsalm 34:18 says: “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

At times we may feel like we’ve ‘crushed our own spirit’ by our sin or addiction, we may not even understand why we’re doing what we are doing, but God does.

He knows when poor judgment is the result of our brokenness and pain. He knows every tear we’ve cried since the day we we’re born. He knows every abuse we’ve suffered and every painful memory we’ve stuffed.

He knows we have valid reasons for our fear, anger, sadness, addiction, and pain. He understands why we react to things one way when we should be responding entirely differently.

Often times our past circumstances render us powerless over how we react and interact today.

But God is able to restore us. He gently calls us into accountability. He understands our reasons for our actions, but they are not excuses. He is with us on the road to healing when we humbly call out to Him and allow Him to lead the way.

Jodie Stevens