Posts by Linda Sharon Connelly

Email me at LindaSharonConnelly@gmail.com for freelance writing services in the South Florida area. Follow me on Twitter @writerconnelly Instagram @lindasconnelly
Grief

Wrestling with Patience

Patience. The very word can send me into annoyed levels upon hearing the word.

The last thing I have wanted to hear throughout my life while in the midst of a struggle is be PATIENT.

Patience with others, situations or things to come has not been easy for me. To say the least.

Hearing to be patient when not in a place to be patient has been the least motivating thing for me. In fact it only made me more upset.

I didn’t want to be patient! I wanted what I wanted right now and in the very way I envisioned it. So of course I would shut down, turning inwardly and into the spiral of wallowing.

So many times I brought my frustrations to God and still found myself in the same place. It wasn’t until I began to attempt to align my heart with His that things began to change. The more I prayed for His desire over my own ( seriously not easy!) and learning to be thankful for people, experiences and things in my life.

It’s not that my life changed overnight, I just learned how to (ahem) be patient in my circumstances. At times this can be called contentment or even steadfastness as we like to say in Christianese.

Essentially, staying put when what I long to do is run away or solve the situation myself. Which wouldn’t be good. I tend to panic react and end up in a worse situation than I would of been if I simply been (you know what I’m going to say right?) PATIENT .

Slowly and with a lot of bumps in the road, changes in my day to day began to emerge. From how I dealt with people, my circumstances and who God is in all of it. The more my heart aligns with Him, the more I see less of my own desires.

Examining the heart behind my desires had been so humbling. Why do I really want this or that? What do I believe I will get from it that I’m not getting right now?

Believe me when I say that those examinations are tough. I have to go into some deep parts of me to get a small grain of understanding. Even still I’ve come out fighting for my desires over that of God’s.

I’ve had a hard time of being patient with people. Many times I’ve been harsh or short with others because they were the ones bothering me. Often too , my impatience can be a cover for my embarrassment. When being caught off guard, my comfort zone is a place of defense. If I have enough bluster then maybe my lack of knowledge won’t be noticed.

Yeah, right.

I read through James 5:7-12, where James encourages patience. Not only patience for the things I desire in this life but to have patience for the coming of Jesus. I must give credit for this insight to the ladies in the young adults group I help lead at church.

In the midst of a current hardship and even joy, Jesus is the greatest promise. Beyond anything else, patience waiting upon the Lord. Because the promises of God are far greater than anything I can desire.

It’s ok to wrestle with patience. It’s ok to say you are frustrated but not to stay there. That’s the biggest thing I’ve learned about patience.

The Power Of Fear

The power that fear has over me rears it’s ugly head in my life from time to time. I don’t believe this is necessarily a bad thing.

Fear serves it’s purpose in my life. Having a healthy sense of fear can be good. It’s good to have fear of certain things of course. Fear of being in a car accident leads me to wear my seatbelt. Fear can motivate me to work harder towards my goals.

But fear has also held me back. I have allowed the fear of change to keep me stagnant. I’ve stayed in the same job for so long partly out of fear. I feared rejection. I worried I wouldn’t be up to the challenge.

I tried something new in a temporary position and it went well enough that it can lead to a new permanent position.

There is also greater societal fears. The ones that can lead to division instead of conversation. A lot of it comes from a desire for self preservation.

I don’t believe it’s so much a fear of the unknown but perhaps more so of losing what is known. Even if what is known or routine isn’t the best or good for our lives.

Letting go of that comfort is the first step in facing fear. Not only in our personal lives but also in the current societal conversations. Fearing what can change can lead to shutting down a conversation.

In the years since I’ve become a Christian I’ve had a hard time letting go of fear. I’ve clung to it instead of being willing to see what God wants for me. Whether it’s breaking me from personal habits or long held ideas.

Fear at times is a good thing to lean into. At other times it’s better to face it and push through. Letting go of comfort and the familiar.

I try to be careful about allowing others to speak fear into my life. These projections that others attempt to place on my heart. There is a lot happening right now. Individual fears are being exposed.

Hiding behind fear isn’t the answer. Seeking to understand the why behind someone’s fear, listening and prayer all alleviate the power of fear. I know it’s something I plan to do.

The Social Media Lies

There is a world outside of the internet. Beyond the stream of uncensored information. An endless stream I’ve become addicted to checking in on.

Before I’m out of bed I’m checking my Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. I’ve allowed it to dictate my emotions, causing me to believe in the lie I’m not cared for.

I’ve allowed twitter feeds to play on my emotions, causing me to be blinded with anger at the state of the world.

Most of all it has distracted me from the truth of Jesus.

It’s not that these things are bad. It’s good to be informed and aware of the world around me. But what isn’t good is my getting caught up in other people’s reactions. Yep, I’m a comment section ghost. Reading what other ppl write in order to judge them. It sounds like a harsh assessment but it’s the truth.

I forget I am just as fallible and am too judged

These platforms are great for engaging with people. But we must not allow for it to become a substitute for creating and caring for relationships. I know I’ve allowed it , my perception through the social media lens to affect my relationships. I have even compared the number of likes a friend’s post had against my own. Seeing that as some kind of yard stick of how cared for I am.

I forgot in those times that I am loved by God.

Developing this awareness is a first step. I’ve made sure to fill my time with other pursuits. Reading more books, calling or texting people. There are still days where I’ll realize most of my day had been spent scrolling through my various social media feeds.

I have been sold the idea that for me to matter I must have a voice on the internet. But that’s a lie. Because I am more than my social media imprint. It’s good to have a voice, good to engage with the world.

And it’s also good to understand the reality of social media. I am a commodity on those platforms.

But greater than that I am loved and cared for by God.

Six Healthy Life Lessons

Six years ago I off the proverbial couch and began my health journey. I’ve learned and am actually still learning so much! In honor of being a healthier person I’m writing of my top six lessons.

1- Don’t expect that losing weight will fix everything in your life.

This was a hard one for me to understand. I believed that lie of “if only”. You know the one, where we say if only_______ will solve our issues. I believed losing weight would mean an end to my singleness & lead to a more exciting life. What I didn’t understand is that getting healthy was more about taking care of my body & not a reward for doing so.

2- Everyone Has An Opinion

Seriously, everyone has one and won’t hesitate to tell you. When I began my journey, people were quick to tell me what I was doing wrong or they could never do it etc. Some of this is good advice, some of it blarney. Take all of it with a grain of salt. What worked for their third cousin won’t necessarily work for you.

3- Have Grace For Yourself

When starting something new there is excitement and we go all gung ho! My whole world became exercising twice a day six to seven days a week. For over a year I went hard with my workout routine. I believed another lie that this was the ONLY way to be. Guess what? It wasn’t sustainable and after a while I fell into a slump of not exercising. Which lead to beating myself up. I’ve learned to accept the ebbs and flows of life. I had to learn that work outs did not need to be my whole life.

4- Don’t Allow Permissiveness

On the other side of spectrum, allowing new habits to fall by the wayside can happen if allowed. I’ve been there, going from working out and then dropping off from doing anything. Something I didn’t believe would ever happen. But it did. Getting back into a workout routine was hard. I try not to allow myself to fall out of the habit by being more flexible. I work at planning the week ahead and looking at my commitments. Some weeks are more successful than others.

5- It’s Not The Food, It’s The Attitude

Often food can be demonized. One of the biggest lies out there is that there is bad food. When in reality, it’s the attitude and consumption of it. I can tend to seek out food for comfort. In fact I’m a recovering binge eater. My attitude towards keeps evolving in a good direction. I’ve come to a point with food where I’m much happier. At times I say no to the office cake and at others times no. Having a healthy attitude towards food means enjoying food but not allowing it to control me.

6- Love Your Body

Today I caught a glimpse of myself in the bathroom as I headed out to the pool. And I smiled at myself because not only did I feel good but I liked the image reflected back at me. It’s taken me a long time to get to this place. I love my body not because it’s at the “perfect ” weight, or shape. I love my body because I better understand who I am. Mind, body and spirit have learned to embrace imperfections. To love my body for what it is and for what it can do. Getting to this place has been hard. It has meant that I’ve had to let go of lifelong lessons imposed upon me throughout my life. I’ve learned to cease comparing myself to other women. By doing so this has allowed for such freedom. My body has carried me through 38 years and Lord Willing will continue for many more. Learning to love my body is one of healthiest lessons I’ve learned.

The Heart Issue

Another shooting took place last week.

Friends and Family are grieving.

I am angry. I am saddened.

And social media is flooded with anger and sadness.

And what has become platitudes.

Thoughts & Prayers has become the throw away line. Something an intern can tweet out quickly when a tragedy occurs.

Following it is this is a heart issue. I don’t disagree that this a heart issue. From the accounts of Nickolas Cruz he had a history of disturbing behavior. Several times over the years tips and complaints were placed on him. Investigators from DCF cleared him.

Absolutely his heart lead him to take his gun into the school last Wednesday. Evil exists and it will rear its ugly head no matter what is done.

But by posting or saying it’s a heart issue, it then negates any examination of our own hearts. Of the things that we seek out for security. It points to the other instead of facing the truth of our own hearts and motivations.

I too am also examining my heart as I walk through this anger and sadness. It hasn’t helped watching things unfold, as details emerge from that day.

There is so much anger. Comment sections devolve into name calling and dehumanizing each other. Our words matter. The heart behind our words matter.

When it’s said this is a heart issue, I too believe we must also examine our reactions. The things we post, the comments made reveal where our own hearts stand. How we care and treat each other . What is it we want to believe about the other side? What will be lost if we learn we aren’t entirely right or wrong.

As I work through all of this I pray. I believe in a big God who can do anything. I believe in the comfort He can bring to us . In the Hope only God can bring.

I also believe in action. In calling for change in our laws. In having real discourse with each other to really understand our fears on either side. Because This doesn’t need to happen, this isn’t inevitable.

That Reading Habit

Ever since I learned to read, books have been my constant companions. Reading was the usual, constant habit in my house growing up. Books, newspapers, boxes of cereal EVERYTHING was read!

I have gone through periods of consuming books ravenously, one after another. Reading has taught me so much, exposed me to different ways of thinking and taught me how to think.

But last year I realized that my reading habit had diminished. I wasn’t reading quite as much as I once had. A lot of different factors contributed to this for me. Busyness was one, lack of interest and my diminished attention span.

Last year I decided to change this, I had to be more intentional with doing it. As with working out or eating well, this too needed to be part of my daily routine.

I have been somewhat successful. I mean after all I still haven’t finished the Alexander Hamilton biography in almost two years .

I still can get distracted by Netflix (too many good shows! I’m looking at you Stranger Things & Black Mirror). Sucked into social media or am just too lazy to engage.

A friend recommended the Hoopla app ( found on google play or the App Store). Connect with your library card and you get access for fifteen downloads a month! Audio books, E books, music and videos available for free!

Utilizing this app has helped keep me on track with reading! Audio books have become my commuting habit and I often listen as I workout or clean up the house.

Some days I have to fight harder past the distractions to read.

I also have gotten into a podcast by Levar Burton Reads where each a new shirt story is read aloud. They are usually thirty to fifty minutes long. I mean it’s Levar Burton reading a short story!

Reading helps to give me perspective. It is far more nuanced than tweets or blaring headlines. It gives me the needed break from daily stresses and allows me to rest.

This year I will finally finish that Hamilton biography.

How do you keep up your reading habits?

Behind The Why of Fitness

This time of year is a boon for the fitness industry. People decide to take care of their health and in droves join gyms, subscribe to a new eating plan and at some point in the month all enthusiasm is lost.

If you feel stuck or discouraged right now, take a moment to reassess. Find out your Why behind wanting to do it. Understanding the reason behind wanting to be healthy will help you succeed. Write it down, tell a friend. Doing so will help to stay on track.

It’s something I didn’t think through when I began my health journey six years ago. Though I had lost weight and achieved many goals physically I was still searching for my Why. As the years go on it keeps evolving. At the heart of it I want to avoid the health issues that my family tends to have.

But there are other things playing out. I believed that being thin would equal happiness. But instead it lead to an obsession with the amount of calories consumed or freaking out about getting workouts done.

I wasn’t able to enjoy the fruits of my labor. I had believed the lie that being thin would mean acceptance. My Why had been skewed.

What I had missed was that God made it possible for me to be healthy not for my own glory but His. I still miss it. Losing weight was needed, dealing with the compliments and attention was hard to get past. Because then it becomes all about the outside. The pressure I placed on myself then became I need to maintain this weight for acceptance. To not disappoint others.

I had to admit that a lot of my motivation was external. In hopes of being the right kind of person that would be loved. I longed for the compliments about losing weight. When I didn’t hear them as much it meant I had failed somehow.

In this journey I had to confront these motivations. As I did so, the pressure to be perfect began to fall away. My Why today is different from my Why if yesterday. Today I try to workout consistently and eat well not to gain admiration but to care for myself. Plus it’s a habit that keeps me balanced, physically, mentally and spiritually.

The Why is just as important as how one goes about being healthy.