I don’t want to be afraid; A desperate cry to the God of the Universe

Children's Eyes, Eyes, Blue Eye, Emotion, Feelings

“I don’t want to get stitches.” Pupils dilated with pain, my six-year-old little brother lay tense on the couch while we waited for my parents to take him to the hospital. I gently pressed a rag to a gash on his chest that had long ago bled straight through his shirt. The tough little guy hadn’t shed a tear, but his shaky breathing declared his pain. I looked down into his pleading eyes. He could be a man through the pain. He could be deal with a trip to the hospital. But the one thing he asked was that we protect him from stitches.

My little brother is a beast–he doesn’t let fear stop him and, at the age of six, he had the pain tolerance of an adult. But this attitude landed him in the ER four times between the ages of four and six. By the time this episode happened, he was familiar with stitches. But I had witnessed his blood-stained shirt when my little sister brought him up the stairs, saying the boards he’d been playing with had fallen over on him and gashed him with a 0824172031 - Editedprotruding bolt. I knew what was coming. No matter how much bravery and pain shown through those six-year-old eyes, I couldn’t lie by telling him he would avoid stitches this time.

That was more than five years ago, and yet I still remember the sincere, helpless way he pleaded to not get stitches. In past blog posts, I’ve admitted my fear of the future. I’ve admitted my insecurities and my irrational worries. I can deal with not knowing what’s coming. I can deal with a change of plans. But one thing I am so tired of carrying is my dreadful fear of the future.

Tenth Avenue North wrote a song called “Afraid” which has really spoken to me. Since hearing it, I’ve taken the words on as my own and cried out to God in a helpless, pleading, painful voice: “I don’t want to be afraid!”

“When the world shakes
Feel my heart race.
When the voices start again
Oh, the panic’s creeping in
Who will I listen to?
Fear never told the truth.

“So I’ll wait on You tonight;
Worry’s only wasted time.

“I don’t wanna be afraid
I don’t wanna be afraid anymore
Not like before, oh
I don’t wanna be afraid
I don’t wanna be afraid anymore
I’m safe in Your love, oh, Lord

“…This world cannot take my treasure
This world doesn’t own my tears
My hope is alive in heaven
I will not give into despair!
I don’t wanna be afraid
I don’t wanna be afraid anymore
I don’t have to be afraid
I don’t have to be afraid anymore”

And, despite my struggle with fear, I know my God is real and I have experienced that inexpressible peace that he offers me when I am most desperate. Don’t be afraid to cry out to God, even if all you know how to say is, “I don’t want to be afraid!”



Journalling 101 (don’t you dare skip this one just because of it’s subject!)

IMG_20171004_221824757 - EditedNovember 19, 2016 “…yesterday, I had a pleasant coming-in with cement…I may have been riding my rip stick while uploading a video on YouTube and carrying a water bottle with a backpack on. But then again, I may not have been; who does that? If I may brag a little, skinned elbows hurt a whole heck of a lot more than they look like they are going to hurt…”

Journalling is a form of communication that I believe everyone should try (men, don’t ignore me: this article about journalling is in the blog “The Art of Manliness“…). There are countless resources describing why journalling is a good habit. Let me explain a couple of my own.

Journalling helps me unwind

September 18, 2017 “Considering all, today has been a marvelous Monday…”

Nearly everyone will admit that life in the twenty-first century flies by and we don’t give ourselves a lot of opportunity to decompress. Journalling is my way of giving myself that chance. It allows me to take a breather, rethink my day and calm my mind (This is perfect for helping me to fall asleep 😉 ). Journalling reduces stress. Also, because I can be completely honest with myself, I can have a good sense of humor with myself, and I can talk about literally anything I’m in the mood to talk about, I normally come out of a journalling session a little more confident about myself and/or about my situation.

Journalling helps me think logically

Related imageAugust 20, 2017 “So often (well, maybe not, but definitely overwhelmingly right now), when I’m thinking big picture thoughts (i.e. moving to college), I think about how scary life is. Then I go curl up in a ball, pulling my knees against my chest (I wish I were that flexible), and crying hopeless, helpless tears alone in the night. I forget to look at how big my God is…Oh Lord, wrap your arms around me. Remind me that you love me through and despite my failures…that your strength and love is enough.”

Similar to talking it out with a friend, journalling forces me to rethink my emotions. Why am I upset with this person? What exactly is stressing me out? What about the day disappointed me? A journal is a safe space to think and vent (honestly, I could write my deepest secrets). Plus, as I write out my thoughts, I begin to see circumstances more objectively. When writing in my journal, I give myself lots of room for personal pep-talks (and, since communication forms reality, these can do great things for morale). Similarly, when I read past entries and see I was completely freaking out about a “massive problem,” I can gain encouragement by seeing that, as bad as it felt then, I did overcome the issue–and am likely to do so again this time.

Journalling teaches me about myself

18447672_1209095852549509_4222890287560671535_nJune 2, 2016 “If I had to use one adjective to describe myself, I find myself caught between ‘active’ and ‘adventurous.’ …recently I have discovered that I appreciate being hands-on outdoors…I also love people. I get no small amount of amusement from watching folks interact. Quirky people amuse me more than annoy me…”

Whether it be through reading old posts and seeing patterns in my behavior, or through stopping in the moment to consider why I’m feeling what I’m feeling, my journalling experience has taught me a lot about myself. Having a more accurate sense of self-concept, I can proceed to make wiser decisions as well as combat my weaknesses in a more educated manner.

My journal is always there

August 3, 2017 “Long time no see, dear!…I’m especially desperate to journal when I am lonely, in pain, and detesting life…[so today] I made a “B” line (why a “B” line? “B”s are not straight!) for your company.”

Ever get lonely and just need a friend to talk to? Your journal is always there for you. ‘Nuff said.

18451333_1697170693629944_1680720937309472440_oJournalling is just plain fun!

June 23, 2017 “BethAnn feels pretty moody…perhaps it’s just the bee poison that entered my blood through a still-stinging attack in my right, middle-finger, upper-knuckle. Yeah, that’s what I think of you bees: middle finger.”

Sometime my satire of the moment causes me to laugh. Not only is the calming experience of journalling enjoyable, reading past posts and reliving old experiences is a treasure. Often the best times of my life are recorded in my journals. I now have the opportunity to re-experience that joy and excitement and thrill all over again. It’s a sure-fire smile at least 🙂

You should definitely give journalling a shot; it’s super cheap and really easy. Let me know how it goes and be sure to leave me a comment! 😉

Why Sarcasm?

Screenshot 2017-03-29 at 6.36.47 PM - Edited.pngI love skiing. I’ve had the opportunity to go quite a few times and have seen the slopes at their busiest. One day, when my friend and I were going through the rental system, the place was just the opposite–it was practically dead. As the woman handed us our skis, my friend stated sarcastically, “Wow, it’s really bustling here!”

The employee’s response made my friend and me want to laugh. “No!” She exclaimed passionately–perhaps with a tad bit of annoyance–“You should see what it’s normally like. We aren’t busy at all right now!” As soon as we both stepped outside we chuckled at the fact that the sarcasm hadn’t been picked up on and, thereby, how stupid we must’ve looked to the employee.

Sarcasm has a bad rap. It can be seen as disrespectful, and has been stereotypically assigned to the rude teen who rolls his eyes at his parents and responds in some snarky way to some wisdom they offer. For the record, I am not condoning this sort of behavior. I believe that–especially those of us who call ourselves Christians–should always, always portray respect, even when you don’t necessarily admire the other person. Just like every other aspect of communication, sarcasm  is a tool and needs to be used responsibly. That being said, in the right circumstances and used appropriately, I think that sarcasm is a creative way to engage with communication. I feel that understanding what sarcasm is and why we use it can help to present sarcasm in a friendlier perspective and admire it when it it’s worth being admired.

Why do we college kiddos enjoy using sarcasm? For inspiration on how to address this question, I turn back to my favorite communication expert: Deborah Tannen. The first thing Tannen brings up is how humans like to challenge themselves. We like to create more and more elaborate skills, inventions, and ideas. Life gets more exciting when we embellish what would otherwise be the same old, same old. We do this in communication too. When skiing, the emptiness of the rental building was so pronounced that my friend wanted to say something. But why state the obvious, boring fact: “this place is kind of empty”?

So we use sarcasm to add a little style to the statement. It gives communicators a bit of a challenge and adds interest. Tannen explains it metaphorically, saying, “The speaker feels clever for having pitched a curve ball, the hearer for having caught it” (p. 71).* If sarcasm can be pulled off like this, the game is well worth the effort. Of course, there are times, like my example, where the trick isn’t pulled off so cleanly. “But if the curve is not caught–if it hits someone in the head or flies out of the ball park–no one is happy. The communication ball game is temporarily brought to a halt” (p. 71).*

Recognizing that sarcasm can be taken the wrong way, I would encourage responsible and thoughtful use of this form of communication. But, when used appropriately, I believe we can have a greater appreciation for sarcasm by understanding some of the nuts and bolts of it.  When you use or hear sarcasm, admire the puzzles we can make out of every day communication. Recognizing what is behind sarcasm can make it that much more interesting to those of us who use it (and perhaps that much more understandable for those of us who don’t).

What are your experiences with sarcasm? You readers from the younger generations, when do you use sarcasm? Do you appreciate it or find it too dry? I’d love to hear any thoughts.

I’d also be especially interested in hearing from those of you who are past the college-age audience that I typically write to. Could you see yourself admiring sarcasm or do you view it as always disrespectful? When is sarcasm appropriate and when isn’t it?

I don’t feel like this topic is addressed very often and would be happy to write a sequel if I receive enough thoughts from you readers 🙂

*Tannen, D. (1986). That’s not what I meant: How conversational style makes or breaks relationships. New York, NY; Harper

Apologizing 101


Screenshot 2017-03-13 at 9.37.45 PM - Edited.png

This post may feel a little different, but sometimes we just need to go from theoretical posts to highly-concrete immediately-applicable posts about communication. That’s what this one is here to do.

I wish I could honestly say I have never had a reason to apologize. But goodness knows I can’t. Last summer I thought I worked out a balance with one boss where I could work a second job. I thought we’d discussed it clearly and that this job would be perfectly acceptable. My second day back from the new job, my boss was shocked to hear this was a six week commitment. It wasn’t a good time.

I felt terrible. In retrospect, I could see how poorly I had described the commitment the second job would require. I suppose the commitment was so obvious to me that I hadn’t given a full description, and the one time I had, it was rather in passing. Oops. Months later, I still feel bad about it–I had, in a way, betrayed my first boss. An apology was owed.

There are good ways to make an apology and there are bad ways to make an apology.

Rule #1: Use “I” language (take responsibility).

Instead of making accusations, “I didn’t realize you didn’t understand what I was saying,””I’m sorry you didn’t know what this second job would look like,” or–worse yet–“I’m sorry you don’t pay me enough for me to only have one job”; use “I” to take responsibility. “I’m really sorry didn’t explain this well,” “Sorry, recognize wasn’t being clear,” “I’m afraid wasn’t thinking this through enough.” The moment you start accusing the other person, they will likely be very opposed to accepting your apology and you’re likely to make matter much worse. If you don’t remember the other two tips, I’d claim this one is the most important.

Rule #2: Acknowledge how you hurt the other person. 

When you can demonstrate to the other person that you recognize you’ve caused them pain, they can understand that you’ve been thinking about them. Be very specific: “I know that I’ve really inconvenienced you, I’ve committed myself to being elsewhere in the mornings–which is the time that you really need me the most,” “I understand that, now that I’m not here as much, you’ve been left to carry more than your weight,” or “I realize that this wasn’t fair to you–I fell short of offering sincere loyalty” (notice how I didn’t say “you probably think I betrayed you”). When the other person recognizes that you are thinking about them too, they are more likely to take you seriously.

Rule #3: Express remorse and ask for forgiveness.  

Arguably, you could do the first two steps without acknowledging that you regret what you did. And, to be honest, in some situations, you may not regret what you did. What you did may have been the right thing to do or you may be in the position that, if you had to do it again, you would. Still, you can still recognize that you were responsible and you can still acknowledge that you caused pain, and you can certainly still be sorry that the other person was hurt. “I am very sorry that I caused you so much trouble and that I interrupted your summer plans. I feel terrible about this and I would like to ask for forgiveness.” Do recognize, however, that forgiveness will not always be offered. Nor will it necessarily be offered immediately. But that part is up to the other person.

A good apology, then, looks like this (bonus points if you use the person’s name): “Deb, I’m really sorry that I’ve broken your trust when I took on this second job. I recognize I wasn’t being clear and I certainly didn’t give you fair warning. I know this has been harder on you and made you carry far more than your fair share of the burden. I know it has hurt you and I regret that I had to play a major part in that. I’d like to ask for your forgiveness and let you know that I’m trying to use this experience to make me think through things more thoroughly before I make commitments.”

Make it sincere–not sappy. And know that sometimes a good apology is exactly what it takes to heal things, but more often, a good apology is only the very first step on a long road. Extend grace, don’t speak poorly of the person behind their back, and give it time. Unfortunately, knowing how to offer an apology is something you’ll need throughout your life. Knowing how to offer a good, sincere apology can make a heck of a difference in the midst of the tense position.

The Latest Epidemic

Image result for happy baby smiling

On Friday I was having a rotten day. I had been making plans for weeks to go skiing that afternoon/evening and I love to ski. I should’ve been excited, but I didn’t feel like doing anything. At all. But I was the one who had set everything up, so there was no backing down. I dragged myself over to where the group was to meet.

The room where we were meeting was energized by excitement and anticipation. Several people were practically bouncing off the walls, people were talking quickly, and everyone was smiling. Even by the time we had all met up and then climbed into the cars to drive to Caberfae, I was starting to get excited. The emotional change I went through in about 15 minutes was extreme. I had an absolute blast that night, hanging out with people who were delighted to be hanging out and speeding down the hills.

Emotions are contagious. They really are. This phenomena is called “emotional contagion” (which is simply the name for emotions being contagious).  The value of knowing about emotional contagion is that recognizing it can build immunity–an essential tool to have when you find yourself in the company of an individual or two who have a bad case of negativity–or can be used to manipulate positivity.

The battle is quite psychological, honestly. Therefore, If you are aware of how real emotional contagion is, you can combat it simply by making the conscious effort to recognize its existence. Realizing you are growing grumpy for no other reason than that someone else is radiating grumpiness, you can attempt to oppose the negativity with positivity. Give it enough effort and positivity may get the upper hand and spread to the others. Attitude is mainly a choice so emotional contagion is most dangerous when you are unconscious of its occurring.

Recognizing emotional contagion also gives you the opportunity to use it to manipulate the contagious nature of emotions for the better. One of my readers asked how we can spread joy. With the perspective of emotional contagion, we can see how easy it is to share joy. While it’s true that being overly enthusiastic can do the opposite of what was intended, simple expressions of joy, enthusiasm, or gratitude can go a long way. Even looking at a picture of a smiling person (such as the baby pictured above) can create a slightly more positive feeling, so even smiling at others, offering sincere appreciation, or enthusiastically offering help can help spread joy. There isn’t necessarily one way to spread joy, it’s a matter of being positive in the small things and, through that, contaminating others with positivity. Don’t overthink it.

Recognize the power you have. Chose your attitude–not just for yourself, but for those around you. You may think being grouchy is only hurting you, but it’s catchy!

Tell me your experiences with catching emotions. When have you caught a good mood? What about a bad mood? Try being more conscious and aware. Does it make a difference on how well you can combat it?



Here’s to a Healthy, Humorous Study Break

This week, the last full week before finals has been formidably stressful as well as busy. Hence I have good excuse when presenting a short video as opposed to the typical blog post. In the typical posts’ stead, supplied here is the ideal study-break material. While there may be some blog visitors who feel this isn’t especially relevant to my topic, I have many things to say in my defense:

  1. There people in this film (watch them!)
  2. There are college students in this film (which is the audience I cater to)
  3. These students are from my Digital Media class (the inspiration for my blog)
  4. It’s finals week. Humor is always relevant in finals week.

Put your hands together for my amazing classmates. Have a great day and feel free to comment!

“Wow, Mom! Dinner is Actually Good!”: Compliments Gone Wrong

It was 10 pm on a Monday night. Being a mostly-responsible morning-person kind of student, I’m not normally the type to start playing a card game at such a time. But my Tuesday morning class had been cancelled and Tuesday was the last day of classes before Thanksgiving break. So while one friend of mine sat nearby doing homework, I settled down and started playing a game with two other friends in the Corum. Being a public place, a random fellow walked into the area to work on homework, and settled himself down next to my friend who wasn’t playing the card game. As the other three of us continued our game, this fellow proceeded to offer a great many comments. Leaning over to my homework-working friend, he’d offer, “They have a weird set-up” or “That one (pointing to me) is going to win.” Periodically he would approach, look over our shoulders and offer compliments: “I approve.” “I know what I would do. You know what I would do. Good job.” “That was a good play. I approve.”

He meant these as compliments to be sure, however, I found myself squirming uncomfortably under these statements. Despite his intent, his “compliments” affected me in quite a condescending way. When my actions were judged by whether or not they aligned with what he would have done, I felt as though I was not valued for my own decisions or for who I am, but for how well I made him feel like he knows what he is doing. My actions were deemed as “good” as long they promoted what this guy felt appropriate as opposed to being good because I had good ideas on my own. This does the opposite of what he probably intended to do.

My point, however, is not to bash this socially-awkward fellow, but to offer an example of where our positive motives come across in a negative way. One of my favorite communication quotes is by Deborah Tannen, in her book That’s not what I meant!: How conversational style makes or breaks relationships: “What seem like bad intentions may really be good intentions expressed in a different conversational style.” This is important to remember when someone says something that offends or angers you or even just feels awkward. For the most part, offending or angering you was the last thing on their mind. In these situations, if you can learn to see what the person is trying to communicate instead of what you may naturally take it to mean, you may be able to save yourself a lot of negative vibes. Another thing to remember is that we ourselves probably do the same thing to others. Even when we are convinced of the innocence of our message, sometimes others may take it the opposite way.

When this occurs, it doesn’t mean anyone is in the wrong. Each person approached the situation with what he or she thought was best or natural. There was just a difference in communication styles. It is very important that you don’t blame yourself and don’t blame the other person. Simply realize that communication is a beast in itself and that there is beauty in its complexity. The next time you are tempted to get offended, take a step back, and try to get a feel for what the person may have meant to communicate, not just what you heard.

Let me know how it works. Let me know your thoughts. Let me know that you’ve actually read this post; leave a comment 🙂