grace changes everything

3 ways to deal with challenging relationships

3 ways to deal with challenging relationships

Who’s that person in your life that’s tough to deal with? You know, the one you don’t get along with very well? That one person who rubs you the wrong way?

We all have a few of these people cross our paths now and then. So, what do we do with them? If God called us to “love one another,” how do we live that out in real life with the people that are the hardest to love?

Here’s a quick story and 3 tips that may help as you deal with those challenging relationships.

Posted by Janna Wright in grace changes everything, 0 comments
why we are so afraid of change

why we are so afraid of change

I met this girl once. She was severely depressed and had been for about 7 years. She’d lived in this story for so long that she couldn’t drum up energy or “want to” to do anything anymore – laundry, dishes, straightening the house, cleaning out clutter, even getting out of bed some days.

A variety of meds hadn’t helped. Changing her routine hadn’t helped. Counselors hadn’t helped. Getting a job hadn’t helped. She was flat-out STUCK!

When God crossed her path with mine, He whispered to me that grace COULD help! She and I chatted several times about how grace changes everything, and while she loved the hope I talked about, she was very skeptical. I understood why! She had tried so. many. things. And none had helped.

God prompted me to offer to help her dig out of the blech, and I was excited about giving her further hope and showing her how grace could change everything in her life. But, she said no.

I’ve often pondered why she refused. Maybe it was because she wasn’t truly desperate enough. Maybe it was because she was afraid of trying one more thing that might not work. Maybe it was because some other story kept her from accepting help. Or maybe, deep down, she was afraid of change.

Change Seems Scary

For most of us, change is scary. New homes, new jobs, new churches, new relationships – they’re all tinged with a certain amount of fear and uncertainty. We get used to our lives, and we’re comfortable here. That may sound crazy if you have a life  you don’t love or things that annoy and frustrate you. But the truth is, we crave familiar and cling to what we know and what we’re used to.

cheery girl with journal

So while most change seems scary, if we’re honest, the change that scares us most is change WITHIN us.

Why IS that?

I’ve come to believe inside change scares us the most because we fear that if we had to change, then something must’ve been wrong with us before. We were somehow messed up or broken or needed fixing, so we HAD to change. And that just doesn’t feel good. Who wants to believe they’re screwed up, much less have to carry around the guilt or the labels?

 Changing the Change Story

But what if all that guilt and being broken and “change is scary” is just another false story?

What if the truth is that we are NOT broken, wrong, or needing to be fixed?
(God tells us, as believers, that we’re not.)

What if change is simply a way to move toward MORE of something good?

What if the changes we make aren’t telling us something about our identity
so much as they’re helping us get what we want?

And what if we could reframe the old story into something
that serves us instead of scares us?

I think with a little story revision in our heads, we can turn change into a lovely thing in our lives. Something we WANT to have around. Something we begin to enjoy. Something we see as growth and healing and happiness. Something that lets us pursue more of what we want. Something that brings us MORE life!

That’s a story we’d be happier to live most any day, I bet.

change is good - gracethread Pin

Posted by Janna Wright in Discovering My True Identity, grace changes everything, 0 comments
should you give up lent for lent?

should you give up lent for lent?

I never heard much about Lent as a kid. It wasn’t something my church taught or my parents modeled. It was more something I heard snatches of now and then when random people said things like, “Chocolate? No, I gave that up for Lent.” Now and then I wondered if it was something I should be doing, but that thought usually drifted away.

This year we scheduled a Grace Gathering for Wednesday, February 10. I wouldn’t have thought anything of it except in a conversation with a young mom, she told me she probably couldn’t come to GG because Lent started that day. For her, adding one more thing was just too much for an already-intense day.

What’s Up With Lent?

It got me to thinking, “What’s up with this Lent thing?” I thought hard about it on my own and pondered it in our staff meetings together and became curioser and curioser until we decided to do something unusual. We would take an informal survey asking people what Lent means and why they participate (or don’t).  Maybe that would help us decipher this Lent thing some more. Here are a few of the things we heard:

lent survey-gracethreadHearing this made the whole Lent thing whisper “performance” to me. Okay, so I don’t believe that every person who gives up something for Lent thinks that. But as I heard the responses of these random people, it struck me that a lot of the motivation seems to come from the “It’s what good Christians do” or “I want to be a better Christian” place. That’s a recipe for a chocolate cake frosted with creamy guilt if I ever saw one!

A Real-Life Lent Story

In the middle of all of this, a friend told me her story:

spring flowersI grew up in a Catholic church, so Lent was something that was taught to me and something that I was expected to do each year leading up to Easter. In my mind it’s what all the “godly” people did, so if I didn’t participate, I wasn’t a very good Christian. I viewed Lent as a time to prove to God and to others what a great Christian I was and a time to show how much I was willing to sacrifice for Christ.

We eventually switched churches, and I grew and matured in my faith. Each year when Lent rolled around, though, I still felt this obligation to participate. And I found myself feeling very guilty if I didn’t follow through with it.

The guilt finally made me realize something wasn’t right. I shouldn’t feel guilty for not giving up something good for God. Good works don’t determine how much God loves me. Nothing I can do can make Him love me any more or any less. Now if that’s not freeing, I don’t know what is! Since coming to this realization, I’ve decided not to participate in Lent anymore, and do you know what the best part is? No more feeling guilty!

The Lent Conclusion

I guess what all of the surveying and stories prove is that Lent is really no different than anything else in the Christian life – it all comes down to heart motivation. Sure there are people who find Lent helpful. Sure there may be times when it’s a good thing. But there are other places where Lent is just a recipe for “do this to be godly” or an attempt to work our way further into God’s favor.

Like my friend said at the end of her story, “I’m not going to sit here and tell you whether you should participate in Lent or not.” But maybe hearing these stories will at least help us process our own Lent thoughts and discover whether Lent is serving us or guilting us. If it’s the latter, we probably better give up Lent for Lent!

Posted by Janna Wright in grace changes everything, 0 comments
got girlfriends? how the january gg went

got girlfriends? how the january gg went

Last Wednesday’s Grace Gathering was a joy: the coffee shop, the women, and the topic. This month we gathered around the theme, Got Girlfriends? How to navigate the tricky waters of where to find ‘em, how to keep ‘em, and when to let ‘em go. Yup, it’s a mouthful, and it made for intriguing stories and discussion.

We started the evening with Lynn Beaver’s story of what she’s learned about friendship in recent years. With a job as a professional listener, she’s discovered that one of the things she desires most is personal friends who ask about her and then listen. That resonated with all of us! Haven’t we each had (or occasionally been) that friend who only talks about herself? Yeesh!

I shared a story, too, about losing a best friend, what God continues to teach me about letting go, and how He (thankfully!) never leaves us friendless.

The stories were great, but the icing on the cake was the discussion. I was intrigued by the sharing and the deep thoughts swirling around the room. What a treat to ponder big questions together:

  • Where do you find good friends?
  • What if you’re the only one investing in the relationship?
  • How do you know when it’s time to let a friendship go?

The conversation flowed as we talked about everything from toxic friendships to how to know if someone’s safe to having “the talk” with a friend. (Yeah, that last one’s not just for guy/girl romantic interests, we figured out. How crazy is that!)

friends for lifeSitting with our coffees, sharing little stories of friendship and the things we’ve wondered about it, we found that we are more alike than we knew. We women are created for community, and we crave the good kind. All of us want more friends, need to let some go, or hope to maintain the ones we have.

Oh, we didn’t stumble over any instant solutions or pat answers. But when God-loving hearts and great minds meet together in authenticity, the exploration is so much fun, and we definitely had fun exploring and saw God there too.

I walked away pondering the values we’d discussed:  honesty, vulnerability, authenticity, depth, listening, security, loyalty. And I marveled again at what can happen in a safe, grace place like the one we created together. This story a woman told me as she said goodbye kinda sums it all up.  She’d had to leave work early to make it to GG and was so tired she almost didn’t come. But she was so glad she did! “It’s not often that you go somewhere tired, and leave feeling better and more inspired than when you came. That happened tonight!”

Yay for grace environments, great discussions, and new friends!

Wanna come to the next Grace Gathering?

If you’re a woman who lives in or near Denver, you’re invited to our monthly Grace Gatherings! As of this blog post, the next one is:

WHEN: Wednesday, February 13
TOPIC: Confidence
TO EXPLORE: How do we grow some? What does true confidence look like? What’s the difference between owning it and being cocky?

The scoop on upcoming GG’s

Posted by Janna Wright in grace changes everything, 0 comments
why i hate new year’s resolutions

why i hate new year’s resolutions

Did you make any resolutions yet or did you decide to skip that this year? Yeah, me too. I’m skipping ‘em this year.

I’ve been there, done that, and frankly, I’m just tired of it all. It seems like resolutions are just one big guilt fest for me. I don’t exercise more or stick to a new daily schedule or go to bed earlier for more than a month or two. Then I feel bad every time I’m NOT doing what I promised myself I WOULD do.

Honestly, I don’t need that kind of guilt in my life.

So for a while I tried the goals route. “Goals” just sound better than “resolutions” to me for some reason. I tried a bunch of different ways to make goals: the 48 days plan, dreamscaping, outcome based goals, new planner styles, block schedule, strategic plans. I even made up my own version of umbrella goals once.

Each plan worked for a little while, but I found myself drifting away before long. Then more guilt would set in because I’d hear things like, “If you’re aiming at nothing, you’re sure to hit it.” Great. Now I’m gonna be a floater for the rest of my life.

My New Plan

Enough with the doing already! This year I’m trying something different. I’ve decided instead of making goals or resolutions based on all the things I want to DO, I will focus on who I want to BE.

new year 2016I don’t know why it’s never occurred to me to look at the new year this way before. I’ve concentrated on BEING in grace for several years now, but never in my yearly goals. It excites me to think about who I want to BE this year instead of all the things I need to DO.

So, like with my health. Instead of saying, “I’m resolving to exercise more” I say,

“I want to be a healthy, vibrant person who feels great.”

And when I think about who I want to BE instead, I’m happier, and it’s easier to realize that a healthy, vibrant person eats more fruits and vegetables and exercises regularly. So, BEING informs my doing (instead of guilting me).

And with relationships, instead of saying,”I need to have people over to my house more and invest in good friendships” I decided to

Be a contagiously authentic person
who attracts and cultivates fabulous friendships.

And you wanna know something crazy? It’s working. I’ve already been on four friend dates in the last three weeks. It’s not hard; it’s fun!

Who will you BE in 2016?

If you and I had coffee on January 5, 2017, what would we talk about? Who would you tell me you’d been in 2016? Would that “who” make you happy? And how can you be a little more of her right now?

I believe 2016 is a FABULOUS year! How about we purpose to BE fabulous this year too?

Here’s to a year of amazing and fabulous!
May it – and you – BE all you hope!

Posted by Janna Wright in grace changes everything, 0 comments