13 Signs you need to get Unstuck

Posted: January 6, 2013 in Uncategorized


Is Your Life Ready for a Shove? Here’s how to tell:

by Christine & Adam Jeske

As people trail-blaze their way through the quarter-life jungle, there comes a point—or 10—when they might start to feel stuck.

Maybe you can relate. Mired in the city you have tried to flee. Shackled by the golden handcuffs of gainful employment that steals away your sanity. Messaging friends who aren’t really friendly. Worshipping alongside Christians who don’t seem all that interested in following Christ.

Your life might be ready for a shove. Here are a few signs your life may have wandered off course—and how you can get it moving in the right direction again.

1. You can’t remember the last time you used a phone for talking

Here’s a scary reality: Most of your good friends today will eventually move away—if you haven’t already moved away yourself. We live in a transient culture where jobs, relationships and fresh starts beckon us to other lands of opportunity.

The easy way to cope with your impending community break-up is to keep posting clever updates on Facebook, send the occasional text when you eat at your friends’ favorite dives and let the relationships drift.

To give your relationships a shove, talk to the people in your life. Plop down on some upholstery. Grab a favorite beverage. And ring them up. Drop the chit-chat (you don’t need it) and talk about what’s really going on. It’s not good enough to know that you could call someone and have a conversation whenever you want. You actually have to call. If time’s an issue, call when you’re driving or walking somewhere. Stop saying, “But they’re so far away.” Better yet, instead of waiting for them to come your way, plan your vacations around visiting old friends.

2. Everybody you know has the same grocery list

If your friends could swap out your fridge for theirs and you wouldn’t notice, it’s time to branch out. If you shop hippie-vegan, do you have white-bread-and-bologna friends? If you never worry about your checks bouncing, do you know someone who limits their grocery trips to the twenty-dollar bill they have in hand that week?

Meeting people who don’t look, talk, shop, think, act or pray like you takes guts and gumption. It’s even harder to actually build friendships with people who are different than you. But common ground can be found in strange places, if you’re willing to search for it.

Give yourself a shove by walking or biking through your neighborhood (or one that doesn’t look like yours) and stopping to greet people. Ride the bus and talk to your seatmate. Visit a prison, a retirement home or a multi-lingual church. Or take a risk even closer to home and invite someone you don’t know well yet over for dinner.

3. There are whole books of the Bible that you’ve never read (or even heard of)

Books like Obadiah, 2 Peter and Hezekiah don’t get a lot of attention. (Wait. Hezekiah isn’t a book of the Bible.) Maybe you’ve spent a lot of time in the Gospels and the Psalms, or maybe you made it through the whole New Testament a couple years ago.

Try something new and go back to the beginning. No, not Genesis—the table of contents. Then flip to whatever book’s least familiar. Go slowly, looking at what the content of that book meant to its original readers, and mull over what application that message may have in your own circumstances.

Or, in addition to Scripture, try a new way of interacting with God. Try lectio divina, the Liturgy of the Hours or the Book of Common Prayer, for starters. Your Google machine can give you more information on any of these.

4. You have complained thrice in the past hour

There’s plenty in this life that’s not awesome. Traffic. Meddlesome parents. Canker sores. Lame co-workers—or worse, unemployment. Bad habits. Bad customer service. Bad breath. The “cursed animosity of inanimate objects,” as C.S. Lewis once said.

Yes, you need to do your part to improve a whole bunch of those things. After all, becoming the biochemist who finds a canker sore cure is a worthwhile ambition. But if you’re simmering in irritation all the time, you probably need a shove.
Make a list of what you’re thankful for—from Grape Nuts to indoor plumbing to Siri. You’ll likely find that cultivating gratitude for what is good helps you deal with what is not.

5. Your major decisions can all be traced back to someone else calling the shots

You can’t remember why you chose your college major or job. You always used to want that other thing, that other path. But “they” said it was unpractical or that you were unqualified.

It’s time to start saying what you want out loud. In honesty and humility, lay your dreams and plans before the Lord and your church community. Maybe you won’t be the concert cellist or lifetime missionary to the Sandwich Islands you always dreamed of being. But that doesn’t mean you should discount those dreams completely. What was true, good and glorifying to God about those plans? Find out, and pursue that same heartbeat in your current situation.

For instance, maybe you can weave those dreams into your present reality by prayerfully supporting a missionary, joining a community music ensemble or holding a cello concert to raise money for the Sandwich Islanders. Find a small step toward what you believe in doing—and do it.

6. You’re freaked out

Ask yourself seriously: What are you afraid of? Likely it’s not a monster under the bed or a vampire in the basement, but that doesn’t necessarily mean your life isn’t steered by fear. You might fear wasting time, standing out, disappointing your boss, wrecking your car, being normal, losing your phone, getting old, never having a spouse or kids, getting sued or running out of time before you’ve done something big enough. We wear (and hide) our fears tucked underneath everything else we do in life. Fears are like underwear—nobody sees ’em, but everybody’s got ’em.

Hidden or not, these fears are holding you back. So, slay your demons. Spend time in prayer about what fears control you, and ask God for help. Share your fears with one or two close friends. Then wait until nightfall, bring out a good light and a big stick, and take those fears out, once and for all.

7. Your standard response to, “How are you?” includes the word “busy”

Nobody ever asks to work a 73-hour week, but somehow it happens. Maybe the sun keeps getting a little lower in the sky by the time you get home from work each day. Or maybe what you thought were “leisure commitments”—fantasy football, crochet night, lacrosse club—have taken over any space for spontaneity in your calendar. If you checked “yes” to any of these, it’s time to introduce a new word to your vocabulary: “No.”

Most of us have a deeply ingrained tendency to fill whatever hours we have available—plus about three more hours we don’t have. If you set boundaries around some of your time and refuse to let work take it over, an amazing thing happens: The world goes on spinning.

Face it—you are expendable. And you’ll be a better contribution to the world if you de-frazzle yourself, drink a quart less coffee and get enough sleep.

Give yourself a jump start in this area by keeping the Sabbath. Take a day and rest—listen to music, drop in on a friend, read a novel, make tacos, go sledding. The Sabbath isn’t about proving to God how goody-goody of a legalist you can be. It’s about your needing rest. And about being able to serve and worship God with better reserves.

In addition to taking a Sabbath day off, build other cycles of rest into your life, like monthly retreats, daily quiet moments or walks—whatever brings you closer to Jesus.

8. Packing a suitcase for a week terrifies you

Your routine is your lifeline. Changing cereal brands is not an option. You like your stuffed animals lined up—alphabetically—at your bedside, safe and close. Change and uncertainty? God, please, no.

Tucking yourself into a box is not a healthy or Christlike way to live. So climb out of it. Run away—literally. Run as far as you can, for longer than you ever have before. (Drastic times, drastic measures.) Take a long drive. Book a flight. It doesn’t matter where you go; what matters is that you get out of your comfort zone. Greyhound works, too (and can make you very thankful for your life).
Consider the bonus path of volunteering with a secular organization and bringing along a non-Christian friend. You’ll reap the double benefit of ministering to the organization’s recipients as well as those you serve with.

Or start with baby steps and simply drive a different route home from work. Change has to start somewhere.

9. Figuring out where to put your Christmas presents is like playing Tetris

Your apartment looks like you’re auditioning for Hoarders. You’ve never fully unpacked from your last move. This week, you couldn’t find something you needed … twice. You only do laundry once a season. You’re considering a visit to that store that tells you how to use your closets more effectively.

These are surefire signs that you need to downsize. Start with the worst room or closet or pile, pick up an item and ask yourself, “Do I need this?” As in, “Could I live without this for a weekend?” Box or bag the reject parts of the pile, and load them into your car—immediately.

Deliver them to a charitable shop within 24 hours. Then sit back and drink in the profoundly liberating feeling.

Another challenge: Give away a ridiculous amount of money (whatever that means for you).

10. You’re working hard on your frown lines

Have you been a little more down, bored, even depressed than usual? Do dead daisies make you cry? Feel like no one seems to understand you? Is getting out of bed taking more energy than you can muster?

It happens to the best of us. But often, all it takes to push out of those joyless slumps are some basic life adjustments.
The poet Ginger Andrews calls these slumps the “mulleygrubs,” and she offers a solution: “Get up and bake a cake. If that doesn’t do it, put on a red dress.” We also recommend drastic haircuts, bowties and sparkly tights (or all three). Try keeping a list of one amazing thing you do each day. And there’s no shame in seeing a professional counselor, so don’t put off that very important move if sparkly tights don’t do the trick.

11. All your free time is “me time”

When you think “down time,” does that include anything besides “screen time”? If your non-work hours include more time watching Netflix than doing things and seeing real, live people you actually know, it’s time to start interacting with the real world. Building a routine of regular get-togethers into your schedule saves you the time and energy of setting them up over and over, and it also keeps you from wallowing in the vortex of your screen with all the fictional friends it creates.

Find a regular “thing” to do with friends—whether it’s knitting, making fondue, shooting hoops or something else. Wing night, bowling night and Bible study are all good options. Or, better yet, start a regular “Wing, Bible and Bowling Night.”

12. You’re shadowed by guilt over the things you haven’t done

You know that little thing that keeps nagging in your mind and stirring up a load of guilt? The yoga class you’ve always meant to join. The relative you keep meaning to visit. The service opportunities you’ve been wanting to try at church.

Here’s the deal: You need to poop or get off the guilt pot. Either start doing the thing you’ve been meaning to do for umpteen months or get real, drop the guilt and focus on something more realistic.

Take time to figure out whether the guilt you’re feeling is real (and you’re shirking something God-glorifying) or unfounded (and you can let go of what you can’t do and focus on what you can). Embrace the freedom of doing “small things in great love,” as Mother Teresa said it, instead of pouting over the seemingly big things somebody else did (or says you should do).

13. You ate your third hot pocket for dinner in a row this week

Great jumping Jehoshaphat! You may be too far gone.


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