Head vs. gut

Someone recently said to me, “My head says one thing, and my guts are in knots saying the other.”

Isn’t that in many ways our central struggle? Our minds tell us we are forgiven, yet our hearts feel guilt and shame. Our Bible tells us God is our refuge, but we feel anxiety or fear. Our theology says peace and joy, but our gut is tied up in knots.

Why is that?

Let me suggest that there is a wall in our soul. On one side of the wall is what we believe with our intellect. For Christians, this is the side of the wall where you find sermons, Bible studies, theology, and our official beliefs. On the other side of the wall is what we believe with our experience. This is where we tend to find beliefs like, “I’m not safe,” “I’m not okay,” “I don’t matter.”

We keep pouring new information onto the intellect side and hope it spills over to the gut-level side, but it doesn’t. The only thing that changes the experience side is a fresh experience with Jesus that corrects one or more of those faulty beliefs.

Is that possible? Yes! It happens all the time. I call them quiet miracles. Jesus will meet with you, but you gotta be willing to take Him to the place of pain inside. And that’s the catch. That’s a scary thing to do. But for those who can find the courage to do that, a beautiful world of transformation awaits.

Hey, could you do me a favor? I’m trying to decide where to focus my energies. Would you like to see me create more resources on this topic? Vote on my blog, ping me back, leave a comment—could you let me know? Thanks!

Would you like to see more resources on how to change gut-level beliefs?

“Someone needs to change for me to be okay…”

How much power do other people have in your life?

I don’t know about you, but more than once I’ve had this kind of thought:

“Someone needs to change for me to be okay…”

Maybe it’s a boss, a spouse, a coworker, a child, a parent, a sibling, a friend. I spent the first fifteen years of my marriage trying to change my wife, and the exercise only served to make us both unhappy.

I get it. Some people are trapped in abusive relationships and cannot escape. Think North Korea, human trafficking, the Holocaust. Which brings me to this disclaimer: If you’re in an abusive relationship, and you have the power to get out, get out! Now. Don’t wait. Get help. Get to a place of safety.

But most of us are NOT in that situation. Most of us are simply triggered by the actions of other people. Their anger, their rudeness, their quirkiness, or something about them pulls up in us all kinds of feelings that leave us…uncomfortable.

Why doesn’t God change them?

Okay, I won’t speak for you. I’ll speak for myself. God didn’t change the people who were triggering me because He was busy trying to help me grow. He was showing me, among other things, that I was giving other people way too much power in my life. Why would I give someone else the power to control my happiness?

He was showing me how to take that power back and keep it inside myself where it belongs.

I’m a work in progress on this—for sure. But the more God works with me, the less other people trigger me. And that is a good thing.

Hey, could you do me a favor? I’m trying to decide where to focus my energies. Would you like to see me create more resources on this topic? Vote on my blog, ping me back, leave a comment—could you let me know? Thanks!

Would you like to see me offer additional resources on finding the power not to be triggered by other people?

Thanks for voting. It really helps!

Bible trivia:
Answer from last time: Jesus and King David were both born in Bethlehem.
I’m going to retire the Bible trivia section of this blog for now so we can focus more on other content. Many thanks to those of you who sent me notes on the Bible trivia. 🙂

How much happier would you like to be? Part three

stressed > relaxed

The other day I got a call from my insurance agent. My homeowners policy is going to be canceled. Insurance company is going out of the home lines business.

No problem, right? Just get a policy with another company.

Small catch. Our roof is too old. Other companies don’t want to insure this house. And, of course, we need insurance. But we don’t have money to replace the roof.

Once upon a time, something like this would have tied my stomach up in knots. I would have been frantic. What will we do? What will we do?

But I don’t feel particularly stressed by it. Understand—I’m a work in progress just like everybody else. I have my moments. But I see this as part of the great adventure. I think this opens up new possibilities. I talked with the Lord about this, and He said, “I’m going to take care of you. You will be okay.”

So, in place of terror is this sense of excitement. God is about to do something exciting for us. I don’t know yet what it will be, but I know it’s gonna be good.

Bible trivia:
Answer from last time: King Joash murdered Zechariah, the son of Jeohoiada, Joash’s mentor.
New question: Jesus and King David were both born in what city?

How much happier would you like to be? Part two

About a week ago I posted something I called the human satisfaction index:

empty > satisfied
stressed > relaxed
powerless > powerful
anxious > at peace
sad > happy
depressed > joyful
striving > content
desperate > fulfilled
rejected > embraced
lonely > belonging
trapped > free
success > significance
low self image > high self image
fearful > confident
confused > clear
troubled > okay

I asked the question whether Jesus cares where we are on this. And you gave me some great feedback.

Now I’d like to share a little bit of my story. I’m going to focus on this one:

stressed > relaxed

There was a time in my life when I did not know how to relax. I know this might sound a little crazy—but because of some difficult things I went through, I couldn’t sit at a kitchen table without shaking. I woke up even more tired than when I went to sleep because I couldn’t relax—even in my sleep. I was always on edge; always gritting my teeth. (I’m surprised I have any teeth left.)

It never occurred to me that Jesus even cared whether I could relax or not. That wasn’t part of what it meant to be “a good Christian.” I focused on obeying the rules, learning the Bible, playing the game.

But Jesus had other ideas. And, to tell you the truth, He did the last thing I expected. He let things get quite a bit worse.

Has that ever happened to you? You need money, and suddenly the car breaks down. You need healing, and the doctor finds something else that went wrong. You need friends, and your only friend moves away.

Why does God do that? Why does God allow that?

I don’t know about you, but looking back, I’m glad He did. It was the best thing that could have happened to me.

More next time…


Bible trivia:
Answer from last time: Jesus talked to the woman at the well in Samaria.
New question: Which King murdered the son of his mentor?

  • Here's how we're ending the divide!

    What do you get when you combine deep Christian faith with outside-the-box thinking? You get the fresh insights offered by Author Dwight Clough in his many books on personal and cultural transformation. Whether he’s tackling polarization or re-examining the route to heaven, his solutions are always unique, carefully thought out, simply explained, and compassionately conveyed with a vulnerable glimpse into Dwight’s own journey. Dwight is a national award winning writer, ghostwriter, publishing consultant, and author of over 20 books including End the Divide, The Gift of Transformation, Rethinking Our War on Poverty, Am I Going to Heaven When I Die?, and What It Means to Follow Jesus. Dwight and his wife Kim have four young adult children. Dwight loves exploring the back roads of rural Wisconsin.

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