Every year, I like to reflect on the life lessons to live by I have discovered that year. Ones that will stick with you for the rest of your life because they impact you in a way you will never be the same.

“Safety is not the absence of threat, but the presence of connection”. – Trauma specialist Gabor Mate

When the unimaginable happens, what you connect to determines what happens next. (This may or may not be the core message of my upcoming book;)

I heard somewhere that trauma happens when you face the pain alone, but if you can connect strongly to the presence of God and others during that time, the impact of the event is significantly diminished.

Life Lessons to Live By

“Joy is not the absence of suffering but the presence of God.” – Erskine Stuart

The hard will always try to take over your mind. The enemy wants you so focused on what is wrong that it blocks your ability to see what’s possible or right.

I was sitting by the small creek in our yard, watching the water flow and it was as if I almost got into a trance-like state. In one moment I let everything I was holding onto go.

All of the hard stuff is still in my present reality, but I’m not attached to it anymore. It can be there and I can still be free. Because my joy and safety are not based on the absence of threat and suffering.

It’s like you separate yourself from what’s happening. Not denying or ignoring it, but also not getting so attached to it and instead getting attached to people and ideas that will help instead.

Everything is fighting for your connection and attention, what you give it to is what will lead you.

Speaking Logic to Feeling Never Works

I’ve learned that everything is about feeling. We have 9x more information going from body to brain, than brain to body. This is good to keep in mind during an argument when you’re trying to speak logic to feeling; it doesn’t work.

The concept of connection before correction is burned into my mind as I have used it an absurd amount of times with kids when their logical brain is clearly nowhere to be found and their emotional, loud, over-the-top feelings are running the show.

Try to speak logically to a child throwing a tantrum. Or a triggered adult in an argument for that matter. You can’t. You have to be able to connect and turn off your/their emotional brain first, then you can talk about it.

My favorite way to resolve an argument, begin by saying “I can see why you…” which is a way to make the conversation about feelings rather than facts.

Suffering gives you an advantage

Think about when you have eaten all of the food you want. When you are full, you are not thinking about or trying to find any food. But if you haven’t eaten for a while, food is one of the only things on your mind.

Often it’s the same with hungriness for God. When you are full of distraction, your mind isn’t constantly seeking Him. But when tragedy or difficult times hit, you get that hunger because you need something to fill it and you realize nothing you are distracted by will. You draw near to Him, and He draws near to you. You give most of your attention to His world, and His plans begin to be revealed to you.

That’s always available, but often we are not hungry enough to seek Him because the distractions of the world have us full.

Pain and tragedy can actually give you that earnest drive and hunger to draw closer to God than ever before, shut down distractions instead of run to them, and break down all of your walls until you are in a place of total surrender and dependency, and that is creating a future and eternity you want to live in.

The most transformation often comes out of the trenches of pain because you can access places you couldn’t go before when you’re in the midst of it. It’s causing you to dig deeper because you have no other option, and it’s in digging in the greater depths where gold is found.

I know if I hadn’t lost a child, I would not be as motivated, desperate, or active in seeking. And seeking is what’s leading me to places I never dreamed I would go. Finding power through pain. Seeing beyond the physical. Not getting caught up in the details of this life but living for and from the next.

I’m not saying I am glad it happened, I’m saying that it made me realize that suffering does give you an advantage because it makes you hungry, and the hungry find what they need.

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