I am honored to have Anne Peterson sharing her words on my blog today. She is the absolute first person who believed me in as a writer other than my wife. Her kind words of encouragement and suggestions for improvement in the very beginning of this writing journey were life and breath to me. I would have quit writing if not for her. Now, I have the privilege of sharing some of her words here.
I was barely surviving. Coming from a dysfunctional background, it took all my energy just to hang on. I knew nothing about thriving. And when I felt ready to move, I didn’t know how.
Unhealthy patterns had became deep ruts. They weren’t comfortable, but they were familiar. Trying to break free from those patterns, I was met with resistance. The weird thing is, I was the one resisting.
I watched life go by
For so much of my life I’ve been an observer, instead of a participant. I’ve watched life go by. I wanted to participate. But I had this deep-seated belief that I didn’t have the right to enjoy anything.
Perhaps the negative circumstances in my life strengthened that belief. I lost one person after another. No sooner would I stand up when life knocked me down again.
My poor self-esteem was also to blame. Children are impressionable. If you call them “stupid,” long enough, they begin to believe it. Hurt them physically and they begin to crumple up.
Positive words can heal
One thing that began unraveling those negative ropes in my life was hearing positive words. At first, I dismissed them. After all, I wasn’t used to that kind of talk. But when the positive words became frequent, it became harder to discount them. Initially, I wondered how it would feel if those words were true. It felt good. I felt good.
After a while, I’d get back in place, believing the negative again, dismissing the positive. But for those few moments when I gave myself permission, it was like a cold drink of water on a scorching day.[Tweet “Positive remarks sank deep in my soul, healing the broken places. – @annepeterson”]
Even Christians struggle
I’d like to tell you when I became a Christian, I believed all God had to say about the abundant life and grasped it with both hands, walking into the sunset. But the truth is, it didn’t happen that way for me. I was a Christian who struggled to believe the positive. I tried, I just couldn’t do it. I failed for two reasons.
1) I didn’t believe I deserved anything good. It was one message I heard loud and clear.
2) I didn’t feel I could enjoy life with so many loved ones gone. This is known as “survivor guilt.”
Little by little, through counseling and crossing paths with those who knew truth, I began questioning my faulty thinking. Eventually, I believed scripture—that God is not a respecter of persons. If God said he came to give me abundant life, who was I to question it?
Positive affirmations help
I needed to retrain my brain. One thing that helped was writing affirmations. That was a huge step. Over and over I wrote, I deserve to be happy. I deserve to be happy.
One day I had an epiphany. Filling out some paperwork for some financial help, I was asked to list money I had coming in, and to also list my expenditures. After looking over my completed form I was struck by something.
There was little written down at all. It was as if was barely here.
We like to give to our children
As a parent, If my children refused things I offered them, it would hurt. And yet, I realized that’s exactly what I was doing to God. It was my choice.
At that moment, I saw I could keep going the way I was going. Could keep living with only the bare essentials, watching others live. Or, I could step into my life.
I began choosing the latter. Am I thriving? I’m getting there. I see thriving as a blossoming.
Like a flower fair on a single stem,
Bending with the gently breeze,
open to the sun’s sweet rays,
drinking in the drops of dew.
Not closing tight when darkness comes,
but simply folding for the night,
just responding every day.
Let me Lord, be like this flower.
To thrive I need only open myself up to God. Day after day. I can tell you, I’m enjoying things I haven’t enjoyed in years. I’m giving myself permission to live. And the more I enjoy, the easier it’s becoming.
God tells us in Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus.” I’ve known that verse, memorized it, even quoted it to others. It was time for me to claim the verse for myself. Time to stop restraining myself from living.
I’m God’s child. God gives us richly all things to enjoy. It’s His gift to us. And when we enjoy life—it’s our gift back to Him.
I’m alive and thankful. That’s thriving.
Anne Peterson is a poet, speaker and freelance author of 42 published Bible Studies as well as 25 articles with christianbiblestudies.com, and Today’s Christian Woman. Anne’s poetry is sold in gift stores throughout the US and in several countries.
Her first book, Real Love: Guaranteed to Last, is available HERE. You can find out more about Anne by visiting her site or her Facebook page.
Presently Anne is working on her second book, Broken, Yet; Growing Through the Pain of Abuse.
Check out the other posts in my THRIVE series:
Your Heroes Determine Your Trajectory
What Ben Stiller and Robert De Niro Taught Me About Friendship
“I am alive and thankful. That’s thriving.” Powerful statement and so true. I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the verse about learning to be content in whatever circumstances we are in. After reading your post, it occurs to me that when we do this, we are thriving.
Thank you for sharing this today and Chris, thank you for hosting our beautiful and encouraging friend, Anne.
Yes, I think that enjoying life is part of our faith journey and a way of worship. If we don’t enjoy God’s good gifts, it’s like we aren’t acknowledging and receiving his love for us.
I always find Anne’s words to be gentle and encouraging. This post is no exception. “Time to stop restraining myself from living.” Beautiful and brave. Blessings to you both.
Thanks for stopping by and reading. Your words were very encouraging.
I think it’s a novel way to think of enjoying life as worshipping God, but it makes sense. Gratitude, contentment, these things do glorify God. I’m sure Satan hates it.
Thanks for stopping by and for your encouraging words. I appreciate it.
I had to temper my fanboy tendencies when I introduced Anne. She is one of my favorite writers. Such gentleness and peace pervade her words, even as she writes of her own struggles. Anne, thank you for sharing here.
And yet some streams of our faith seem to push us toward a belief that enjoying those blessings makes us less-than spiritually. So glad to have escaped those bad thoughts myself.
I never made that connection between contentedness and thriving either. I think it is so hard to shed the imagery and paradigm of struggling against darkness and pain. Being content is an active choice to receive goodness, and relax. Both are counterintuitive though.
I can understand why Anne’s poetry is sold all over… it’s beautiful, touching, uplifting, and poignant. And the thoughts she shares in her posts are just as raw and emotional. Thank you Chris, and Anne, for sharing another moving story here today.
What a beautiful, sensitive, transparent, inspiring post! Anne you know how to touch the heart and lift the soul. Thank you for the gift of your words! Thank you,Chris for bringing Anne here! Blessings to both!
Thanks for stopping by and reading, and also for you sharing it. I appreciate you. I am glad to hear the words I write encourage others. Now if you’d just pray that God would lead me to where the words should be, I’ll be fine. 🙂
Thanks for your uplifting words about my poetry. The funny thing is a lot of what you guys see is not out there yet. Many of the poems that are out there were poems I wrote for the company.
I was thinking about it. Not only is it as you say, not acknowledging and receiving His love for us, but it’s actually critiquing His love. It’s a way where I say, “You are not loving me the way I want you to love me. I want you to love me like you love so and so.” This is nothing less than arrogance. How do I know? I’ve been arrogant.
Another thing we do is withhold our love because we have anger toward God. It’s funny because He already knows about it. He sees it. Yet, we go on as if we’ve pulled something over on Him.
Thanks for sharing Anne. Your story reminds me of spring. Directly in front of my office window is a peach tree. The buds are showing up on the branches (I know, it is still January and growth is starting). The tree is not thriving. It is just beginning to take what is offered. Each day I can see a little more progress, until one day fruit will be falling off the tree.
Speaking of blossoming, you have helped so many blossom to their potential. Thank you for what you have done for me.
Anne, I don’t think it matters if we’re seeing new work or published work. We’re seeing the quintessential Anne, and that’s why we love it.
What a great analogy. I love the picture of spring and I’m not just saying that because I hate the cold. And believe me, I hate the cold. I like the idea of new chances, fresh starts, I love spring. When I was first considering writing about thriving I thought, “What am I thinking?” I’m not someone who thrives. But I need to change the self-image. I need to see that being in process is okay. I am okay. Even though I’m not where I could be, I’m sure not where I started. God is conforming me to His image. It is a process.
And thank you for what you said about me helping others blossom. That was really nice.
This touched me so much, Anne. A perfect complement to some writings I was just doing this morning, and for the same reasons. I especially enjoyed your flower imagery – it will stay with me for a long time. Blessings!
Thanks for reading and for your encouraging words.
Great post Anne! It’s important to be around people who love and care about us. They allow us to thrive through every season of life.