Newspaper photo of Donald Trump

How to Take Your Life Back from the Inauguration

By now you know we’ve got a major event happening in our nation this week: the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States. Now, many Americans are excited about this. They bought into Trump’s call to “Make America Great Again” and can’t wait for him to get started. Others, however, are somewhat less than excited.

I understand this is a subject that brings out a lot of strong feelings. That’s really the reason I’m writing this: for all of us, Republican, Democrat, or whatever political stripe, to move beyond what we’re feeling and start thinking about how we’re relating to each other. So whether you think Donald Trump is the greatest thing since sliced bread, or you think he’s the devil in an ill-fitting suit, I’ve got some words of advice for you.

Take Your Life Back, the book Dr. Dave Stoop and I recently published, teaches those who are “stuck” in the pain of traumatic loss that there’s another way to live. We show people the life you want isn’t “out there” somewhere, or dependent on your circumstances, or what others around you are doing. We want people to know that real and lasting change is achievable, not through who is president, but through how we think. Take Your Life Back teaches that no matter what pain or loss you’ve experienced, there’s a rich, vibrant, fulfilling life still to be lived.

To get there, however, we must learn to move beyond the pain of traumatic loss, past all the anger and sadness, into the realm of acceptance. There we can effectively deal with the new reality that faces us. If you opposed Donald Trump, you’re probably experiencing a loss right now. I believe the principles contained in Take Your Life Back can benefit those who are struggling to accept our new president. You can have experience a rich, rewarding life even with a new occupant in the Oval Office. Here’s how to get there:

  1. See the reality. The first thing you must do is accept the fact that you’ve experienced a loss. Push past the denial and come face to face with the harsh reality that the “story” you imagined you’d be living just isn’t going to happen. For those anxious about a Trump presidency, this can be a hard pill to swallow. But here’s the truth: Donald Trump won the election. He won it fair and square according to the rules our nation has in place and no amount of wishing things were different is going to change that. The alternative is to live (at least for the next four years) in a false reality filled with anger and bitterness over “what might (or should) have been.” That route might be emotionally satisfying on some base level. It might feel good to vent, but it won’t equip you to respond effectively to the events of the next four years. What’s more, that anger and bitterness will likely bleed into your personal life and affect how you relate with family and friends.
  2. Express yourself. Contrary to some on social media who might be telling you to “shut up and accept it,” it’s okay to express the feelings you’re having. This is a real loss for you and a real grieving process. Don’t let anyone convince you you’re just a “snowflake” and need to “get over it.” Don’t get me wrong, though. At some point, you’re going to need to move past this, not for the sake of anybody on Facebook, but for your own well-being. You can’t stay stuck in this part of grieving. But allow yourself the freedom to express the disappointment, regret and even anger that you’re feeling.
  3. Grieve the loss. Once you’ve faced reality and allowed yourself to express the negative emotions, now you’re ready to grieve. For many of you, inauguration day will be a profoundly sad day. Likely, you supported President Obama and are sad to see his term come to an end. You had a vision for a much different future that just isn’t going to happen, at least in the short term. That’s a kind of death to be experienced, so it’s perfectly understandable to feel sadness. Go with that. Have a good cry if you need to. It’s okay. But as with any step in this process, don’t get stuck here either. To do so is to subject yourself to a life of continued sadness and depression. Sadness over loss is a natural part of the grieving process; but if you don’t choose to get to the final step, it can overwhelm your life and your relationships.
  4. Accept the new life and move forward. Notice, I’m not saying “move on.” This isn’t about just aimlessly wandering to tomorrow. No, it’s about coming to terms with the new reality and living in it responsively, not just reactively. It’s about arriving at a place where you can make wise choices for yourself and in your relationships, not based off the negative emotions that control you, but on the new vision for your life you’ve created.

Donald Trump is becoming the next President of the United States. That’s an inescapable fact. His authority doesn’t extend to being dictator of your emotions and your life. You still have control over that and no policy or executive order can take that from you. If the reality of a Donald Trump presidency is robbing you of the peace and joy God wants for your life, then it’s time for you to take your life back.

A note to Trump supporters

To those excited by a Trump presidency, understand that not everybody shares your enthusiasm, probably even some of your friends and loved ones. Understand they’re going through these phases I listed above. If you truly care about them, give them the space to do so.

Getting into political discussions with them or trying to engage them when they’re venting isn’t going to change the way they feel, and it will likely damage your relationship. There’s probably nothing you’re going to say to make them like Donald Trump more. Maybe the best thing you can do is just let them vent and continue to love them.

Even though you’re excited about what President Trump might do for the United States, don’t let that enthusiasm damage important relationships in your life. You’re going to need these people a lot longer than he’s going to be in office.

Find out more about Take Your Life Back, and about the Take Your Life Back intensive workshops being offered in 2017. Resolve to make this year the one you say goodbye to a reactive life and move toward all that God has planned for you right now!

 If you would like to give to New Life and help support our ministry, call us at 1-800-NEWLIFE, or click here to examine all the ways you can help others take their lives back.


Thanks in scrabble pieces

3 Benefits of Taking Your Life Back

Today might be one of those days. You know what I’m talking about. A day where you’re wondering if you could be different, if your life could be less painful and more meaningful. I know how you’re feeling. I’ve had plenty of those days myself.

But walking with giants like Henry Cloud, John Townsend and Dave Stoop, I discovered a different path than the one “nice Christians” were supposed to be on. Dave and I put that path in our book, Take Your Life Back. We also included in there how you can get to that path from where you are now.

What we want you to understand with Take Your Life Back is this is the life God wanted for you all along…before all the hurt, bad choices and shame took over. This isn’t just an improvement on something that’s flawed; it’s the restoration of a wonderful gift God made just for you!

So what’s so good about it? At the end of Take Your Life Back, Dave and I spell out 31 different characteristics of the life taken back. These are all qualities of life that were part of the original “base model” God intended for us to have, but that sin and its consequences have rendered useless. I want to share three of these qualities with you today:

Sharing

When you live the reactive life that comes with pain and shame, you end up looking and acting like a scared turtle. You stay tucked safely away inside your shell. You know too well the danger of letting your real self venture outside into a world that threatens you with more pain and shame.

But when you confront the past and take your life back from all that stuff that makes you reactive, you discover the beauty of living beyond yourself. You discover how much more fulfilling it is to share than to be stingy. You wake up wondering who needs you or who needs what you have and what do you need to do to share the awesome blessings that have come upon you.

Serving

In the reactive life, there’s nothing to be grateful for. Everything is a mess. You’ve lived hurt ever since you can remember. This awful state of living is either the fault of what somebody did to you, or it’s the result of a long list of bad choices. Either way, you’re stuck in a situation you don’t like, and you’re certainly not happy or grateful for being there.

When you take your life back, you are now able to see beneath all the scars into the beauty that God created. You see that beauty in you! And that gives you a new, grateful heart. You then begin to serve from a grateful heart as an act of gratitude. You want to serve as our Lord served you. You want to leave a legacy of serving. You choose to serve because it is a rewarding proof that you have the power and freedom to choose something rewarding rather than something degrading.

Giving

In the reactive life you have nothing, so there’s nothing to give. You hoard what little you might have because you’re certain that somebody’s going to try to take it from you, whether it’s love or money. You hoard because your “stuff” is all you really have.

When you take your life back, your eyes are opened up to the extreme generosity of God. You now understand the value of your true self and know that exceeds any amount of material wealth you could ever have. So you give…

You give because you are generous. You have matured in this life to a place where you don’t need much and you love to give to those who have nothing or lack something in an area where you can help.

If that sounds like your life, that’s awesome! I’m so glad you’ve taken your life back! Hopefully, you’ve arrived at this place where you can share with those who are in need. This Christmas isn’t going to be stressful for you. You’re not going to worry about what you’re going to get, or whether you’re getting enough stuff for the right people. You’re just excited about the opportunity to give, and to see the goodness flow through you into others.

If that doesn’t sound like your life, then start the process of taking your life back and discover the richness and fullness of life that God wants for you. It’s all right there in the original packaging. You just need to undergo the restoration process to get yourself back in “mint” condition.

 

Find out more about Take Your Life Back, and about the Take Your Life Back intensive workshops being offered in 2017. Resolve to make 2016 the last year you settle for a reactive life and move toward all that God has planned for you right now!

 If you would like to give to New Life and help support our ministry, call us at 1-800-NEWLIFE, or click here to examine all the ways you can help others take their lives back.


2016 US election

Take Your Life Back from Politics

This is being published today, but I'm writing this piece a little over a week out from the election. I’m willing to bet that this is how a lot of people feel this morning: disappointed, tired, anxious about the future…and that’s those who voted for the winner!

We’re now on the other side of what can only be described as an 18-month political “bender.” We’ve made ourselves drunk over the past year and a half on accusations, slander, hyperbole and partisan pot-shots.

And like the binge drinker who wakes up the morning after a few too many shots, we’re not happy or fulfilled. In fact, we wonder “how did we get here?” We try to piece together the decisions that led us to this place and events just don’t seem to add up. We start to wonder about the choice we’ve made while our faculties were impaired and the reality of what awaits starts to slowly seep in…and we’re terrified!

Well, we can’t change what we’ve done. We’ve got to live with that. What we can change is the kind of thinking and behavior that put us here. We CAN take our lives back from politics, both individually and as a nation. Here’s how:

 

  1. Admit that we have a problem. We do. As individuals we’re far too willing to sacrifice our own wills and decision making to partisan organizations. Those can be the Democrat or Republican Party apparatus, or the media organizations that serve them. We lap up the unhealthy stuff they feed us on cable TV, the internet and social media. We allow our minds to be melted into the “us v. them” mentality that lines their pockets with our cash. We stop thinking about principle and fall in line next to “our guy” (or gal), overlooking obvious fatal character flaws that should prohibit these folks from serving as the local dog-catcher, much less the leader of the United States. But we make excuses because “the other” is dangerous. Our candidate might be flawed, we say, but he/she is the lesser of two evils. Well, that’s still evil.
  2. We turn our problem over to God. The biggest reason we got into this mess in the first place is because we forgot what words get capitalized. We put a “G” in front of government and a “g” in front of God. We thought, “if we just elect the right people and appoint the right judges, we can legislate God’s will into existence." That model just doesn’t exist in God’s Word! If we’re going to recover from our addiction to politics, we have to turn the power back over to God. Only He can change people’s hearts. If America is truly going to be great again, we have to make God great again.
  3. We have to get away from those things that trigger our addiction. Like the substance abuser whose doctor informs him of the damage done by years of abuse, we can’t be all that surprised that we’ve reached this state. We spend countless hours listening to hateful, divisive rhetoric on talk radio and cable TV and compound that by reading blogs and social media filled with hyperbole and one-sided “news.” Is it any wonder after inputting all that garbage that our minds have been negatively affected? Paul tells us in Philippians 4:8 that we’re to think about “whatever is noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable and praiseworthy.” Does that sound like political rhetoric to you? If we’re going to take our lives back from politics, we’ve got to make a clean break from the sources.
  4. We have to replace the bad with good. We can’t just walk away from politics altogether though. We can't quit cold turkey. We do still live in a democracy that demands our participation, and that should be an informed participation. So we have to find news sources that aren’t partisan. They’re out there, believe it or not. And we have to start parsing the information we get, not on whether it fits our preconceived partisan ideas about what’s “good” or “bad,” but on whether it fits God’s eternal standards for what’s right or wrong. If a candidate from our party is on the wrong side of God’s standard, then we have to stand against that candidate and insist on better.
  5. Get some balance in what you consume. We can’t binge 24/7 political news. It’s just not healthy. We need to be spending time in God’s Word, first of all. That’s going to give us the spiritual nourishment and basis for wisdom that we need to be good citizens. Then, when we’re looking for other information to “consume,” we need use Paul’s standard from Philippians. New Life publishes positive, uplifting content every single day. Publications and sites that are dedicated to building people up, not tearing them down should be getting all our clicks and hits.

Now I’m sure some are reading this and saying, “Steve, this is a pipe dream. You really think me doing all this will make a difference?” Yes, I think it will make a yuuge  difference…to you! You’ll become a better-informed citizen who makes better decisions come election day (and every other day!); and whatever the results, you’ll not live in fear or anxiety because you know who’s really in control!

And imagine if all the people who call themselves Christians in this country did this, Democrat and Republican. What if the millions of Americans who profess Christ actually demanded our leaders behave in a Christ-like manner? (And no, I’m not talking about a faith litmus test or demanding candidates attend a particular church).  What if we told our candidates, “we expect you, at the very least, to practice the fruits of the spirit. If you want our vote, it won’t be won by how you vote on gay marriage or your position on abortion. Our votes go to the candidates who best demonstrate love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control in the public square. Those aren't partisan and they shouldn't be negotiable. Make that the starting point, then we can talk about the issues.

We can take our lives back from politics. And if we do, what a world we can make.

 

If you're ready to take your life back from politics, or any other source of pain that's keeping you from living the life God wants for you, Take Your Life Back, the latest book from Steve Arterburn and Dr. Dave Stoop can help you get started.