An Invitation to Holy Week 2016

Visiting the Archives this Holy Week, as I really needed to hear these messages again. I pray they bless you, too.

An Invitation to Holy Week 2015


A Difficult Conversation

When life stretches your soul or matures you as a spiritual human being, say so. Be honest. Allow people to companion alongside of you on your journey. We are faced with paradoxes of life—issues that are hard to explain or understand. We want to resolve paradox. Yet, we have to live into it. Look at it. Face it.  When you begin to write, be sure to remember you don’t have all the answers. All you have is the right (hopefully) and the gift to raise the question to the level of spiritual dignity and allow other people to pursue it while you pursue it.”
-Sister Joan Chittister, All Together, Huff Post Religion

This past week I encountered a very difficult conversation in which I really fell flat on my face. At least I felt as though I did. During this conversation, I was asked some very pointed theological questions. Taken a bit off guard, I began to internally panic.

My New Normal

It had been a very long day in which I was with people all day.


Trying to eat without making a scene.

I didn’t realize at the time that my new normal is changing. The old Janell who could go and go and do and do and talk and talk has to change. And we all know how easy change is, right? Achalasia affects not only the esophagus, but the area surrounding the esophagus, i.e., the diaphragm, the trachea, and the pharynx. So, the more I talk, it seems the more stressed I feel. Go ahead, it is a moment to smile. And, the result is an odd pressure that builds up, creating a frustrating, nagging fatigue, both mental and physical, and an annoying sense of discomfort.

By the time I reached my appointment, I was spent. Perhaps I should have rescheduled, but I didn’t expect it to be as challenging as it ended up being. As the theological questions began, shockingly, my mind went totally blank.

Blank as a white sheet of paper.

I couldn’t put two words together.

My mind raced. Janell, get it together, here. This is important. You know this.

A serious case of déjà vu overwhelmed me. Voices from the past echoed in my ear. Voices that pressured me to try and be someone I am not. I’m a simple girl, theologically, and for the life of me, just can’t seem to express myself in any other way.

A fumbling, bumbling mess of words ensued, while I tried to reach into my mind for the right words. Words like justification and sanctification, integration and holistic, etc. etc. etc.

All I could do was offer a sincere, heartfelt apology. I’ll work on this.

Janell’s default: work harder, study more, so more,  impress more….ugh. So exhausting.

The Ride Home

Thankfully, the conversation ended.

I got in my car and drove home in silence. At least outward silence.

Inwardly, I was shaming myself to death. My default mode immediately heads down the road of my past, saying, “Yep. You are never good enough. You can’t even explain what you believe about God.”

I’m really talking about that kind of warm wash that we experience of not good enough. You know, I always say that shame drives two primary tapes: not good enough, and who do you think you are? So to me, it’s a very formidable emotion. Its [shame’s] survival is based on us not talking about it, so it’s done everything it can do to make it unspeakable.’
-Dr. Brene Brown

Why Do I Share?

I’ve never hidden my struggles from you. As Sister Joan exhorts, we are to companion alongside one another. We need one another. The good, the bad and the ugly.

I share because I hope that somewhere inside my struggle, you’ll see yourself and find hope and courage to keep moving forward.

The next day, while sharing my story with both a client of mine, she said one sentence that really put my heart to rest: It’s simple, you don’t test well.

A-ha! Yes! Eureka! Light bulb moment! I don’t test well. Never have.

Somehow her words centered me.

Sometimes we will fall flat on our faces. Fail a test. Screw up. Make a mess of things.

The secret, though, is to overcome our default mode thinking, i.e., for me—shaming myself and implement reformative thinking, i.e., I will make mistakes but I am not a mistake.

Shame says, “I am bad.”

Guilt says, “I did something bad.”

Big difference.

Holy Week: Easter 2016 invites us to grow

This week is Holy Week.

In light of last week, I decided to set apart some time and sacred space to both consider and write down what I believe about God and why I believe it.

It’s been fun planning my week. I’ve discovered several really great tools to lead me through this personal retreat.

Will you join me? Maybe you have some thinking to do, as well. Some growing to do.

For the entire personal retreat experience, subscribe to Remarkable Living (just put your email in the box on the bottom of the page). We’ll be talking here, too, but more information and resources will be available through the Remarkable Living, subscribe today.

Let’s companion through Holy Week together. I can’t wait to see what God says to each one of us.