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
Cross and bright sunshine

Beyond My Heart

I’ve been thinking about what it means to follow God’s heart instead of my own.

Praying

Wrestling

Journaling

In these times of instant reaction and emotional see saws it’s hard to get a grasp on what truly matters. It’s been hard for me to step back and take my time processing information. So much is thrown out here on the inter webs. One story after another comes out, full of half facts and slanted view points.

It just gets so loud.

I’ve had to learn to limit my time on social media. Spend more time in prayer and with God’s word and less on social media. Taking time to sift through facts and not just react.

I’ve also learned that because I may have a response to someone’s post doesn’t mean I need to respond. Social media is not necessarily a place for conversation. It’s more of a declarative thing, a way to say I CHALLENGE YOU TO ARGUE MY POST!

Something I’ve also been guilty of doing. I mention this because the struggle I have is one of judgement of others. As if a post or comment can show me the depth and breadth of a persons heart.

When I sit in judgement of others , I am saying that I am right and that’s all that matters. But there is something bigger that must happen beyond being right. It’s caring for people in a way that makes me uncomfortable.

My heart gets caught up in the surface of things. The anger I feel towards injustice, pain and hatred is natural. It’s important to reject racist rhetoric, to educate and speak up when needed.

When it gets dangerous is when I’m inclined to turn away from people. When my desire is to turn away instead towards them. Calling out hate speech, racism in our everyday lives is important. But what happens after the call out is important too.

This is where the heart work comes in ( see what I did there). It’s not enough that hatred is exposed, but also to help another let go of ingrained, generational hatreds and fears.

Because if my heart is hardened towards others, how can I even claim to love Jesus?

In this place I sit with the Lord. I pray for a heart beyond myself. To use the anger that I was created with for His will and not my own. How can I be effective for the Lord if I don’t come from a place of love?

The Choice

love is a choice, then too is hatred

Choosing to see another human as an other

Instead of a fellow struggling, messy human soul

Choosing fear over care

Choosing to use energy to destroy another soul

When instead we can choose to love

To see them as people in need of care and love

When hate is chosen instead of love

Hate gives a false sense of power

Hate lies that it’s protecting you

Hate lies that it must exist

Hate lies that you have control

When in fact it’s LOVE that must exist

Love calls us To care

Love call us To create community

Love calls us To unify

Love calls us beyond ourselves

When we choose love we honor God

Which is your choice?

Finisher Medal

Running, Round and Round

Five years ago I ran a half marathon. This was about a year after I began to run regularly. I went from being someone who found the idea of starting to exercise daunting. I wasn’t sure HOW to begin so therefore I chose not to.

Until a friend offered to help me and began working out with me. We started with walking laps, then eventually working up to full on running. In a few months I was out there on my own, running five to six days a week.

Signing up for the half marathon was a way for me to keep working towards a goal. My first goal of weight loss had been attained. Without setting goals, maintaining health and fitness gets boring. I needed a new challenge and it was needed.

In the ensuing years, running became my on again, off again relationship. Seasons of being gung ho and excited about it and other seasons of feeling meh about it. But I return to it again and again for many reasons.

It’s cheaper to run than to join a gym. I only need to invest in a good pair of sneakers and off I go! I’m lucky to live in a community with several parks and at least one with lights perfect for evening runs.

Staying consistent with running has been a struggle without having a goal. I’ve decided to start setting new goals, in this vein I signed up for a 5k this Thanksgiving morning. Next I hope to do a 10K then perhaps another half marathon.

Paying for these races is an investment and an incentive to meet these goals. I desire to take care of this body as well as I can. Running has taught me so much about the things my body is able to do. It has taught me about how I can want to give up and the benefits pushing through that.

Those lessons are invaluable.

Sacred Spaces

I grew up watching Mr.Rogers Neighborhood. Along with other PBS shows. Shows that I am convinced shape who I am as with much as my family and the books I read as I grew up.

When I think of Mr. Rogers, I think of the verse below.

“Love your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew 22:37-39

In this age of instant judgment and defensiveness, this kind of love is scandalous. The reality of Mr. Rogers message is that he was as scandalous too. Wearing his cardigan sweater and soothing voice, he taught many how to care and love.

Watch an episode and you see him taking the time to listen to his guests and understand them. He took his time with things and people. Especially children.

I recently watched the documentary Won’t you be My Neighbor, listened on the audio book The Small Faith of Mr.Rogers by Amy Hollingsworth and am in the middle of the new Rogers biography The Good Neighbor (The Life and Work of Fred Rogers) by Maxwell King. Both-available on Hoopla.

One of the most fascinating things about him was his belief that the space between the screen and the audience was sacred ground. Imagine if this idea was endorsed today? That as we all have access to reach so many people to view that space as sacred?

How would this change how we engage with people? That the space where we post things and the person viewing it be considered sacred space? The words we use online whether to make a statement or to comment on something are revealing of our hearts.

That in fact one of the ways to love another is to also care how and what we post online. The same care we take of people in person. Engaging with people instead of simply trying to change their minds.

Fred Rogers understood that the sacred moments were in the small and overlooked. That they take place in the most basic, seemingly mundane moments are indeed sacred.

For myself it has meant being less reactive online. Taking my time to respond if I choose to respond at all. I don’t have a well loved television show as Mr.Rogers did but I do have my small space here and hope to use it well.

Almost 40 and Single

I used to think it would be a tragedy of sorts to be nearly 40 and single. That if not married or at least in a serious relationship then somehow I’ve failed as an adult. After all the narrative I was told was that happiness only came from finding the one to live life with.

But what is not spoken of as much is JOY. Happiness is fleeting and runs away from the shadows of life. Joy, however sticks around. Joy is there for the long haul and still there in the midst of hardships.

For a long time, I believed that marriage was some kind of reward. As if getting married was some statement of who I am deep down in my soul. That If I was good enough to warrant a partner in this life, that this was some stamp of approval.

I lived in this tension long after I became a Christian. It has taken me most of these past ten years to begin to understand how wrong I have been. Years of longing for something that wasn’t or isn’t meant for me just yet. Years of jealousy over others getting to have what I wanted. Believing that somehow I was lacking because I didn’t have a mate.

This was the way I lived. At least, until I started to believe that love is greater than the small box I had placed it in. Instead, Believing in the enormous, unending love of God.

I understood that I am loved by God intellectually. The disconnect was with my heart and spirit. I kept turning away from what was right in front of me and towards my idol of marriage.

One of the breakthroughs began when I started to develop deeper friendships. Friendships that not only provided companionship but also pointed me to Jesus. One time, after having my heart hurt over some unrequited feelings I reached out to a friend. Instead of the comforting words I craved, she only said that she couldn’t help me. Only Jesus could.

Those words stung. I didn’t want to hear that. I wanted to be told how awesome I am, that it was his loss blah blah blah. In that moment I was hearing what I needed. I needed Jesus, full stop.

Through my tears in that moment, I cried out to Him. To be fair I have cried out many times since.

I’m grateful for my church and the real community they offer to all who want it. It comes with a price, being part of a community. It means being lovingly confronted at times. To pull back the mask and embrace the God who loves us.

I will be 40 next year, odds are I will also be single when I do. I no longer believe it’s a tragedy. The tragedy would be if I were still missing God’s love not only for myself but for all.

Single is a box I check on forms, not the entirety of who I am as a human being.

I am defined by who I am in Christ. I am the beloved daughter of Christ. I was thought of before the creation of the world. God created me to exemplify His love and holiness with my life.

If I never marry, I have the peace and love of Christ. If I do marry, I still have the peace and love of Christ. Either way I am blessed and that is what matters.

A Place to Call Home

Last May I moved into my own place. For the first time since my early twenties, I had my own door to close. I’ve shared homes with roommates and family but it still was not something I could call my own. I never believed it would be possible that I would have have my own home.

But God did.

So much of my growth have been the times that God forced the situation. Forcing me to look at Him in trust and provision. Because so often when I have looked at the situation from my perspective, it was impossible. From God’s perspective it was possible.

I have lived God’s provision in my life over and over again. Ten years ago I was in between jobs, with no savings and no idea what would come next. For months, as I looked for work somehow I managed to put gas in my car and eat. I gave my sister what I could for rent and took up cleaning and cooking for the household to try to make up for the deficit.

Eventually, I did find a job along with some side gigs and another part time job. It wasn’t perfect and I still struggled to get by most weeks. But I was getting by and God was working in me through that time. I needed to mature in some areas and learn how to trust more in others. Trust in Him that good would come from this season.

Last May I signed the lease to my place and handed over my deposit. I held those keys with a sense of awe and disbelief. I finally had my own place! A place to be filled with people and laughter. I didn’t bother to change out of my pajamas or make my bed the first time I had someone over for breakfast. I’ve discovered I enjoy having friends over!

I still have my moments where I still can’t believe that I actually live in my own place. I understand what a privilege it is to have a place. God provided it and I recognize that just as He provided it, it can be gone. Having a safe place to live is such a blessing. A blessing I don’t take lightly. I’m just so grateful.

My Health Journey

Six years ago I learned how to be healthier and that running isn’t the devil. But so much can change over time, mindset, metabolism, schedule and motivation. I’ve found what works for me, what foods or moods can trigger me. That just because I know how to make better choices when it comes to my health, it doesn’t mean I will or want to.

The things I have learned about my body over these six years are numerous. I will continue to learn more as I get older. I’ve learned what I don’t want just as much as what I want.

Why I Don’t Stress My Weight

It’s not that I don’t care that my weight is where it is today. At my “ideal ” weight, I was the least joyful. The process of losing weight was easier in some respects than maintaining my “ideal” weight. Losing weight, I had a goal to meet. It’s the same as when I did Whole 30, I also had a goal to meet in doing that. I do well with goals it seems, especially if they are public ones too.

But maintaining an “ideal” weight that in the end isn’t so ideal isn’t healthy either. Nor is letting my continued apathy towards where I am right now. How will this look in my life as discover new goals? I honestly don’t know yet. But I do understand better that ideal isn’t necessarily a number on the scale.

Where I am today and where I would like to be has a ways to go.

Lacking Motivation

I also lack the motivation to do what I need to do to get there. When I lost the bulk of my weight, I was doing two intense workouts a day, seven days a week (I learned later on about rest days). It wasn’t something that can be maintained in the long run.

I also don’t want to stop eating the way I have been. There, I said. It’s been a stressful time with my move and moving into a new role at work but it’s also been my choice. It’s not that I eat nothing healthy but ending each day with ice cream doesn’t help that.

A New Start

I know what I need to do. It’s about owning the choices I have made to get here. To understand why I have chosen to eat the way I have ( tastes good, makes me feel good, convenient).

Previously as I posted about healthy eating or a motivational picture, I was not always following my own advice. That is the reality of blogs, social media et al. It’s not the entire story.

The reality of getting healthy is that it’s something that can fall away. I didn’t believe I would end up making the same choices that have lead to my weight gain when I was in the midst of losing it. But here I am and the reality is at times it can feel easier to fall back into the habits that I know. Instead of habits that are good for me.

This takes routine as well as motivation. But life doesn’t adhere to routines, at least not for long. Things shift, an illness, a change in jobs and *poof* it changes. Sometimes it’s easier to get back into it. Other times it takes longer, or even not at all.

This is where I’m at right now. Trying to make the better choices, owning when I don’t and meeting myself where I am. And most importantly, not comparing myself to others. The other day as I went out for my run/walk, a gentleman ran circles around me at the park. It hit me that I too had been at the point where I could run laps nearly non-stop. One day I may be there again but I have to want it and work up to that once again. That’s what I mean by meeting myself where I am.