Learning to “Try Softer” and Grow in Self-Compassion (Aundi Kolber)

Do you have trouble showing yourself compassion like Jesus does to you?  Are you your greatest critic? Do you feel like you’re being selfish or wasting time and energy to be kind to yourself? Do you live from the template that you’re not enough and you’re unlovable? Do you acknowledge your experiences are valid or do you minimize or numb the pain?

When I first read about a book called Try Softer by Aundi Kolber, I knew I needed to read it, especially when I read:

“I want you to begin to develop a new awareness of your story and your wounds so you can attend to your pain with the same tenderness God does.”

To be honest, I don’t treat myself with the tenderness and compassion God does. Do you?

Aundi Kolber, a trauma therapist, discovered she never really learned how to hold the pain of others without internalizing it, because she had never really processed her own trauma. She just kept white-knuckling her way through, leaving herself exhausted and overwhelmed.

Trying softer means to become more attentive to our bodies, minds, and spirits so we can give each of these parts what it needs to heal. Trying hard to dismiss or deny our trauma will only have detrimental effects to ourselves and others. It’s in acknowledging the reality of our pain and learning to process our stories that we become more of who God designed us to be.

Aundi helps us to understand the complexity of our God-created brains and how God designed our bodies and minds to work together to process our stories. She equips, empowers, and encourages us to connect to our truest self, to move out of anxiety, stress, and survival mode into a life of connection and joy.

“In Try Softer, you’ll learn how to:

  • Know and set emotional and relational boundaries
  • Make sense of the difficult experiences you’ve had
  • Identify your attachment style―and how that affects your relationships today
  • Move through emotions rather than get stuck by them
  • Grow in self-compassion and talk back to your inner critic

Trying softer is sacred work. And while it won’t be perfect or easy, it will be worth it. Because this is what we were made for: a living, breathing, moving, feeling, connected, beautifully incarnational life.”

I’m only into the fourth chapter of this book as I have to take it slowly, so I can process all I’m learning. And sometimes I need to put it aside for a while, because it’s not always easy to discover deep, buried layers that still need more healing. At the same time, I am fascinated by how God has wired our brains to process trauma.

Some of my favorite quotes so far are:

“There are truly times when the best, healthiest, most productive thing we can do is not to try harder, but rather to try softer: to compassionately listen to our needs so we can move through pain – and ultimately life – with more gentleness and resilience.”

“Like the ever-elusive quick fix, ignoring, pretending, or numbing something doesn’t usually resolve our pain.”

“When we deny the reality of our experiences, we don’t become more of who God designed us to be, but less.”

“When I understand why my brain is reacting the way it is, I become empowered to validate the underlying need and then work on changing the situation.”

“We are not defined by our best days or our worst days. We are His beloved.”

“You keep track of all my sorrows.
You have collected all my tears in Your bottle.
You have recorded each one in Your book.”
Psalm 56:8
“The Lord is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and rich in love.
The Lord is good to all;
He has compassion on all He has made.”
Psalm 145:8-9

He Knows My Name
by The McRaes

Recover The Interests God Has Created In You

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God created each of us with unique interests. Finding those interests can help us to better understand who He has created us to be and help us to better use them to glorify Him.

Sometimes these interests get buried under painful memories, and it takes intentional work to recover them. Working through our pain can remove the blinders from our eyes, so we can more easily see what we loved as a child. To remember what made us feel alive and more hopeful in the midst of the darkness.

As a child, I didn’t know a loving Jesus. To me, God was angry, vengeful, and unapproachable. But as I look back, a God of love was still at work even though I didn’t see, feel, or know Him. He created in me interests that I now see as ways He made my life more bearable.

One of my fond memories was when my brother and I brought our Holstein cows from the pasture to the barnyard for milking. I loved smelling the country air and feeling it on my face. Hearing the frogs chirp in the creek making a ribbon through our pasture. Seeing the killdeer drawing us away from their nests with a shrill “Kill-deee! Kill-deee!”

“Kaaa Boss!” we would yell. Many of the cows would come when called and would head home in a long line, but there were usually those who stayed in the back of the pasture until we rounded them up.

I loved walking barefoot but it was kind of tricky when there were thistles to dodge. Once I didn’t see a dead one and stepped right into it. Ouch! My foot was still stinging when I plopped it smack dab in the middle of a cow pie so fresh it was still steaming. Yuck! And yet I remember the warm, soothing feeling squishing up between my toes. It actually helped take the sting out of my foot!

I loved animals, both the farm ones and wildlife. I was even intrigued by the ones others might call creepy, like bugs, spiders, and snakes. 🙂

Animals became a part of my dreams, too. I wanted to be a marine biologist. I wanted to study chimpanzees or gorillas like Jane Goodall.

As I grew into a teenager, I also dreamed of owning an orphanage. I wanted every child to feel loved and cared about. I wanted to shield them from all harm. I never got what I wanted, but God did give me children to care for. As a teacher, then a mother, and now a grandmother. Sometimes my heart aches for all the children in this world, and I wish I could protect them all from evil. I know I can’t though and I have to give them into the hands of Jesus who loves children and invites them to come to Him. What I can do is be a part of making every child I meet feel noticed, loved, and cherished.

Not all our dreams come to reality in our lives and seasons in our lives change. Sometimes because of circumstances, we have to let go of pursuits that gave us such joy, and that can be painful. Sometimes even those dreams we have that line up with passions we feel God has given us fall by the wayside. We don’t always understand why, but God can help us to grieve and move forward into the plan He has for each of us.

Through the heavy weight of not dealing with past abuse in my life, the long, difficult road of finally dealing with it, and this continuing journey of healing, there were and still are times I cannot see, feel, or appreciate the deep-seated interests God has given me. But God still preserves the makeup of who I am. Both children and nature still bring me joy and hope. I am still fascinated by the complexities of God’s creatures. All of God’s creation is God’s gift of love and grace. It inspires me to open my heart to His beauty and remember He is in control of our lives.

His creation includes you. I really do care about you readers. I don’t know you all by name, but God does, and I can still pray for you. I long for you to know the joy and salvation there is in Jesus. And I long for Him to set you free to recover interests He Himself has given you. Those interests that make you who you are.

Are there God-created loves inside you that got buried in the heaviness of life’s troubles? Interests you had as a child that made you feel more alive and hopeful even when you didn’t know God? Do you take time to enjoy them today as God’s way to give you more hope in the midst of the turmoil of our hearts, lives, and world?

If you are one of those children who were so abused and neglected that you weren’t allowed to enjoy anything or truly discover where your interests lie, I’m so very sorry. I hope you have gotten or will get help to work through the pain and to recover them. I pray God will uncover and revive the special person He made you to be, that unique, wonderful person He filled with special gifts and interests meant to glorify Him.

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Psalm 139:14a

“For we are God’s masterpiece.
He has created us anew in Christ Jesus,
so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.”
Ephesians 2:10

“Wonderfully Made”
Matthew West

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Reflecting Jesus and His Love

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(Photo taken by my son Glen)

Andy loved to talk about Jesus and asked tons of questions about Him, probably more than most children do. Then at 5 years old he was stricken with encephalitis and was disabled for life. He couldn’t walk, talk, or hear, but his parents could still sometimes understand him through his eyes or motions. Whenever he saw a picture of Jesus or was taken to church, his countenance brightened. “Jesus” was a name he could write other than his parents’ names. His favorite cap read “Jesus Is My Boss.”

I have never met Andy, but my sister knew him and recently went to his funeral. He was 43. Throughout his life he had breathing problems and endured lots of surgeries. After one particular surgery, his mom stood on edge as she waited for him to breathe on his own again. He did breathe again, and his mom turned to the window and cried. She prayed, “O God, I can’t take this anymore.” When she turned back around, Andy held his hands up and formed a cross. She said, “Yes, Andy, I know you are telling me Jesus is with us.”

The day I first heard of Andy, I was unable to do much and was beating myself up for not getting much done. I was so impacted by his story. Here was a man with all these disabilities and yet he still shined for Jesus.

He had a relationship with Jesus, and that’s what counts. If we are close to Jesus, no matter what situation we are in life, we will naturally impact others around us. Many people could see there was something in his countenance that was different. I think he probably had a deeper relationship with Jesus than many.

Too often I worry I’m not “doing” enough with just writing these posts and trying to encourage others. I get caught up in the insecure, condemning voices Satan just loves to throw at me. Or I compare myself to others who can write a post every day and yet always have something new to write. Those who always have the right words to say in comments. And that sign pops up in my brain again – “Not enough!” I too easily forget to “just be” who God intended me to be in whichever situation He plants me with whatever He gives me.

I also get it all wrong when I think how much I “do” for others will determine how much God will love me. But I have it all mixed up. His love is unconditional. His grace is free. Not one good thing we do is going to buy us more of it. It’s already there in full measure for us to receive with an open heart. All we have to “do” is believe in Jesus who loves us so much that He has bought grace for us with His own blood.

“For it is by grace you have been saved,
through faith—and this is not from yourselves,
it is the gift of God—
not by works, so that no one can boast.”
Ephesians 2:8-9

Jesus wants us to have a personal relationship. To rest in His grace. To listen to where He leads us. Without Him we are empty vessels. Without His living waters, we cannot pour out His love to others.

If all my energy is directed to wanting to be more like others or trying to gain approval of others, what energy do I have left for nurturing my relationship with Jesus? If I let others, including Satan and myself, affect my thoughts and actions, I separate myself from nourishment in Christ Jesus. If I don’t plant myself next to the Living Waters, I will bear no fruit and will wither away.

“But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And on His law [His precepts and teachings]
he [habitually] meditates day and night.
And he will be like a tree firmly planted
[and fed] by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season;
Its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers
[and comes to maturity].”
Psalm 1:2-3 AMP

 Andy was not busy “doing.” He was “being” who God wanted him to be. He was planted in Jesus, so he naturally reflected Jesus and His love. That’s what we need. It’s not about doing, it’s about being who we are in Christ and letting His love shine in us, spilling out towards others.

“As all of us reflect the glory
of the Lord with unveiled faces,
we are becoming more like Him with
ever-increasing glory by the Lord’s Spirit.”
2 Corinthians 3:18

A Child's Trust

“Do They See Jesus In Me?”
by Joy Williams
“Do they see Jesus in me
Do they recognize Your face
Do I communicate Your love
And Your grace
Do I reflect who You are
In the way I choose to be
Do they see Jesus, Jesus in me?”

Dearest Lord Jesus, please help us
to deepen our relationship with You.
Please make us shining lights for You.

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Linking up with: 

Holley – Coffee For Your Heart 

Jennifer – Tell His Story 

Kelly – Cheerleaders of Faith

Barbie – Weekend Whispers