Read an Excerpt
Unglued Devotional60 days of imperfect progress
By Lysa TerKeurst
ZondervanCopyright © 2012 Lysa TerKeurst
All right reserved.
Chapter OneDAY 1
Time for a New Script
"For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you." (ISAIAH 41:13)
Thought for the Day: While feeling unglued is all I've really known, today my life can be different.
I'm sad because of the way I acted today. I'm disappointed in my lack of self-control. And the more I relive my emotionally driven tirade, the more my brain refuses sleep.
I have to figure this out. What is my problem? Why can't I seem to control my reactions? I stuff. I explode. And I don't know how to get a handle on this. But God help me if I don't get a handle on this. I will destroy the relationships I value most and weave into my life permanent threads of short-temperedness, shame, fear, and frustration. Is that what I really want? Do I want my headstone to read, "Well, on the days she was nice, she was really nice. But on the days she wasn't, rest assured, hell hath no fury like the woman who lies beneath the ground right here"?
No. That's not what I want. Not at all. I don't want the script of my life to be written that way.
So, at 2:08 a.m., I vow to do better tomorrow. But better proves elusive and my vow wears thin in the face of daily annoyances and other unpleasant realities. Tears slip, and I'm worn out from trying. Always trying.
I feel broken. Unglued, actually. I have vowed to do better at 2:08 a.m. and 8:14 a.m. and 3:37 p.m. and 9:49 p.m. and many other minutes in between. So why aren't things getting better? Why aren't my reactions tamer?
I know what it's like to praise God one minute and in the next minute yell and scream at my child—and then to feel both the burden of my destructive behavior and the shame of my powerlessness to stop it.
The emotional demands keep on coming. Unrelenting insecurity. Wondering if anyone appreciates me. Feeling tired, stressed, and hormonal.
Feeling unglued is really all I've ever known. And I'm starting to wonder if maybe it's all I'll ever be.
Those were the defeating thoughts I couldn't escape. Maybe you can relate. If you relate to my hurt, I pray you will also relate to my hope. While unglued is all I've really known, I believe that with God's help, today my life can be different. That's my personal revelation of hope. The pages of this devotional are my hope journal. A place of tender mercies and grace given so many times it almost seems scandalous. How can our God be so patient? I don't know. But He is. Today, He's offering us the fresh start our souls desperately need. Our key verse from Isaiah 41 promises He will help us. We can be different. A slate wiped clean. A page crisp white. A chance to start rewriting the old scripts of past failures. For me. For you. Together.
We can do this.
God, thank You that this is a new twenty-four hours. Today, I want to believe I can start writing a new script for my life. Help me to overcome the disbelief I have because of my past failures. Amen.
Practice these things; immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. (1 TIMOTHY 4:15 ESV)
Thought for the Day: Just because something is hard doesn't mean it's impossible.
What kept me from making changes with my raw emotions was the feeling I wouldn't do it perfectly. I knew I'd still mess up and come unglued. Sometimes we girls think if we don't make instant progress, then real change isn't coming. But that's not so. There is a beautiful reality called imperfect progress. The day I realized the glorious hope of this kind of imperfect change is the day I gave myself permission to believe I really could be different.
Imperfect changes are slow steps of progress wrapped in grace ... imperfect progress. And good heavens, I need lots of that. So I dared to write this in my journal:
Progress. Just make progress. It's okay to have setbacks and the need for do-overs. It's okay to draw a line in the sand and start over again—and again. Just make sure you're moving the line forward. Move forward. Take baby steps, but at least take steps that keep you from being stuck. Then change will come. And it will be good.
These honest words enabled me to begin rewriting my story. Not that I erased what came before, but I stopped rehashing it and turned the page afresh. Eventually, I started blogging about my raw emotions and imperfect changes. In response, I got comments whispering, "Me too."
"Being unglued, for me, comes from a combination of anger and fear," wrote Kathy. "I think part of it is learned behavior. This is how my father was." Courtney honestly admitted, "I come unglued when I feel out of control because my kids are screaming or fighting or whining or negotiating and won't listen. I like silence, calm, obedience, and control. When it's not going 'my way,' I come unglued and freak out and it goes quiet. And then the regret comes."
And the comments kept coming, all of them expressing the exact same struggle, the same frustration, and the same need for hope. Women with kids and women without kids. Women caring for aging parents and women struggling with being the aging parent. Women working in the home and outside the home. So many women whose daily circumstances differed but whose core issues were the same.
I realized then that maybe other women could make some imperfect progress too. And a book idea was born from that simple realization. But I had to laugh at the irony of it. I had just published a book called Made to Crave that dealt with what goes into my mouth. Now I was writing a book called Unglued to deal with what comes out of my mouth. Obviously my mouth gets me into lots of trouble!
This Unglued journey is about my imperfect progress. It's an honest admission that this struggle of reining in how I react has been hard for me. But hard doesn't mean impossible.
How hard something is often depends on your vantage point. For example, consider the shell of an egg. Looking at it from the outside, we know an eggshell is easily broken. But if you're looking at that same shell from the inside, it seems an impenetrable fortress. It's impossible for the raw white and tender yolk to penetrate the hardness of the eggshell. But given time and the proper incubation, the white and yolk develop into a new life that breaks through the shell and shakes itself free. And in the end, we can see that the hard work of cracking the shell was good for the new baby chick. The shell actually provided a place for new life to grow, and then enabled the chick to break forth in strength.
Might the same be true for our hard places? Might all this struggle with our raw emotions and unglued feelings have the exact same potential for new life and new strength?
I think so. I know so. I've seen so.
Mother Teresa is quoted as saying, "Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies." Make some small imperfect progress today and discover your potential for new life and new strength.
God, this process is revealing to me my greater need for You each day. Please help me to take steps toward making imperfect progress today. Amen.
God, I'm a Little Mad and a Lot Confused
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (PROVERBS 3:5-6)
Thought for the Day: God is big enough to handle our honest feelings.
Kick off your shoes and get ready to get gut-honest. When God doesn't seem to be answering our prayers, it can be hard. Sometimes, downright awful.
One minute, I'm determined to trust God. The next, I feel myself questioning God. The "why" questions tumble in so hard. My heart hurts. My tears fall. And in those raw moments I just feel a little mad and a lot confused.
Ever been there?
I don't want to oversimplify what to do in these times. Facing issues that never seem to stop is tough. Really tough. Especially those situations where the answers aren't easy or clean-cut. But I have discovered three things that help me when God seems silent.
1. Press into God when you want to pull away.
When I really want to hear from God, but He seems silent, I sometimes find I want to disengage from my normal spiritual activities. Skip church. Put my Bible on the shelf. And let more and more time lapse between prayers.
But pulling away only makes things worse. God says, "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart" (Jeremiah 29:13). All my heart includes the parts that are broken. Bring it all to God.
He can handle your honesty and will respond. But we have to go where truth is. Go to church. Listen to praise music. Read the Bible. Memorize verses. And keep talking to God.
2. Praise God out loud when you want to get lost in complaints.
In the midst of whatever you're facing, find simple things for which to praise God. I don't mean thank Him for the hard stuff. I mean thank Him for the other simple, good things you still experience. A child's laugh. A bush that blooms. The warmth of a blanket. The gift of this breath and then the next.
Scripture reminds me that praise leads to newness: "He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; many will see and fear and will trust in the Lord" (Psalm 40:3 NASB). We can literally find new words with which to process life in a more positive way when we choose to praise God instead of complain.
3. Put yourself in the company of truth.
That friend who speaks truth? Listen to her. Stay connected to her. Let her speak truth into your life even when you're tired of hearing it. As Proverbs 12:26 (NASB) encourages, "The righteous is a guide to his neighbor." Stand in the shadow of her faith when you feel your own faith is weak. Let her lead you back to God time and time again.
It's okay to feel a little mad and a lot confused. Our God is big enough to handle our honest feelings. But don't let your feelings lead you away from God or away from His truth. Press into Him. Praise Him. And put yourself in the company of truth. As you stay with God in these ways, you will be ready to receive His answer when it comes.
Dear Lord, thank You for understanding me, even when I'm mad or confused. I pray I would daily be intentional in coming close to You and praising You. Help me to find a good friend whom I can trust to speak truth into my life. In Jesus' name. Amen.
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. (PSALM 139:13-14)
Thought for the Day: Sometimes I feel guiltier for what I'm not than thankful for what I am.
I gathered the restaurant bags, sighed, and crammed them into the overstuffed trash can. A friend had sent me a recipe that day that involved peeling and chopping and simmering. I imagined her trash can full of fresh veggie peelings and other things that proved her kitchen produced way more homemade goodness than mine.
And a little thread of guilt wrapped around my heart.
Sometimes I feel guiltier for what I'm not than thankful for what I am.
But there was sweet grace waiting for me in a little yogurt shop that night. My daughter had asked if I would come and speak to a Bible study she was helping organize. "Mom, I think a lot of people are going to show up."
So instead of cooking that night, I ordered out. Again. And I drove to the yogurt shop with a girl whose heart was full of excitement and expectation.
People were everywhere. Young people. Invited people. And parents. Nearly two hundred people packed inside the yogurt shop and overflowed outside. My daughter smiled.
I took the microphone and spoke from my heart. I told my story. I taught truth. I invited the people to let Jesus be the Lord of their hearts.
And many who had never done so said yes to God that night. A teen girl who tried to commit suicide last year. She stood to accept Jesus. A young man with tears in his eyes. He stood to accept Jesus. A mom and a dad. They stood to accept Jesus. Along with many others.
In the yogurt shop.
With a woman whose trash can was filled with take-out bags and who isn't the greatest cook, but a woman who wants to learn to be more thankful for what I am than guilty for what I'm not.
Maybe you are the friend with the veggie peelings in the trash can and steaming homemade goodness on the table.
Or maybe you are like me. And your gifts are less tasty.
And cut the threads of guilt with the edge of grace.
Dear Lord, You made me in Your image—and that is something I seem to forget daily. Please help me remember to celebrate and live in who You made me to be, and not dwell on what I wish I were. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control. (PROVERBS 25:28)
Thought for the Day: The answer to keeping God's power with me and working in me to produce self-control is letting His Word get inside me.
Have you ever been in a discussion with a loved one when something snarky gets said and suddenly your blood pressure sky rockets, your nerves fray, and the worst version of you begs to come out?
Not that this ehhhhhver happens to me, of course.
Of course it happens to me. I live with other humans.
Whenever any kind of relationship conflict arises, my choice is whether to give the other person power to control my emotions.
When I react by yelling or flying off the handle or making a snappy comeback, I basically transfer my power to the other person. When I am void of power, I am void of self-control. So, it seems to me, if I'm going to remain self-controlled, I have to keep my power.
Now, when I say "my power," I don't mean something I conjure up myself. I am referring to God's power working in me. When I react according to God's Word, I feel that power. When I react contrary to God's Word, I feel powerless.
The prophet Isaiah provides a good reminder of what God Himself has said about tapping into His power, no matter what situation we are facing:
"As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it." (Isaiah 55:10-11)
Did you catch that? The answer to keeping God's power with me and working in me to produce self-control is letting His Word get inside me. His Word seeping into my mind and my heart will accomplish things—good things, powerful things, things that help me display self-control.
So, all that to say, here's my new tactic: When I'm facing a situation where someone is getting on my last good nerve, I'm going to start quoting God's Word in the present tense. For example, if one of my sweet children starts acting not so sweet, I might say aloud (or silently, depending on the situation) words based on 1 Peter 5:6-8:
In this moment I'm choosing to be self-controlled and alert. Your actions are begging me to yell and lose control. I do have an enemy, but that enemy is not you. The devil is prowling and roaring and looking to devour me through my own lack of control right now. But I am God's girl. That's right, I am. I am going to humbly and quietly let God have His way in me right now. And when I do this, God will lift me and my frayed nerves up from this situation and fill me with a much better reaction than what I can give you right now. So give me just a few minutes and then we'll calmly talk about this.
Girl, that's some power right there.
And it will make you shine with so much self-control that your kids, your friends, your spouse, your coworkers won't know what to do with you.
Can you imagine what might happen if we wrote out powerful responses from God's Word on three-by-five cards and pulled them out every time we found ourselves in a situation? Take the first step by starting with one of the verses we've looked at today. Tuck that card away in your purse or put it someplace you will see it frequently.
I love being God's girl. Don't you?
Dear Lord, thank You that Your Word applies to so many areas of my life. Sometimes I really struggle with self-control and I need Your power to help me react in a graceful, godly way. In Jesus' name. Amen.
The Root of My Rot
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is his good, pleasing and perfect will. (ROMANS 12:2)
Thought for the Day:
How we react is a crucial gauge of what's really going on inside us.
Last week, I got all twisted up and bent out of shape. And, honey, everyone in my house knew Mama wasn't happy. I tried everything to usher gentleness back into my tone and my temper.
I quoted verses.
I rebuked Satan.
I bossed my feelings around with truth.
I even tried to take a nap.
But none of these activities soothed me.
One of my people had done something to introduce a smell into my home that not even three Yankee candles could mask. And I am supersensitive to smells. Like hyper-crazy sensitive.
Excerpted from Unglued Devotional by Lysa TerKeurst Copyright © 2012 by Lysa TerKeurst. Excerpted by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.