Mar 2013 01

When you look at this image, what do you see? One person might say it’s a silhouette of a woman while the next sees a man playing a sax.

So which is it?

A singer on a stage will hear something vastly different when staring down the throat of the speaker’s horn than what she hears upon taking just two steps to the right. The dark image up ahead the hiker is sure is a bear ends up being a rock when he advances just 20 feet. The neighbor who bugs the snot out of you today ends up being a treasure after you find out she’s the one who called the police when an intruder broke in your house. A prolonged period of great financial uncertainty becomes the very thing that confirms deep in your spirit that you can’t only depend on your own ability.

When circumstances suck, many of us get stuck. But even a tiny step in either direction can make that which we initially viewed or heard or felt one way suddenly look, feel, and sound completely different.

When I came face to face with my alcoholism 13 years ago, life seemed to be over. It was as if I’d been bathing in emotional cement which had hardened when I wasn’t looking and I couldn’t see my way out of the mess I’d created. I’d failed everyone I loved and everything I attempted and felt nothing but shame about who I’d become. I was stuck and wanted to die.

But then.

After walking block after block down the depressing road that was my life, out of nowhere I took a right and found myself on a new path. Here, nothing looked familiar but man-oh-man, the light felt good. On this road, there were trees and empty lots where kids played basketball, and all that would come out of my mouth was “thank You”. With the help of good people, a solid program, and a new understanding of a great God, the reflection I’d see in the windows as I passed revealed that indeed, I was beginning to look like a new creature. Over time, the feeling of shame that had choked out all semblance of living within me was replaced with the overwhelming awareness that it had all been a gift.

My friend Ann showed us how it’s done recently after a long and devastating battle with cancer. As she began to take the turn on to heaven’s road, she chose not to feel sorry for herself but rather to thank God through it all. She continued to thank Him, even up to the time she gracefully moved from her current location to her celestial zip code last week, inspiring all who watched her go through the fire.

Perspective.

When one of my girls was hit with breast cancer this Spring at the age of 30, she decided to articulate gratitude instead of swimming in fear as she went through a double mastectomy. Though still dealing with it, Erin has come through this ordeal a vibrant and catalytic believer, profoundly influencing the spiritual lives of all she touches.

Perspective.

Is that really all it takes? Yah, pretty much. That, and a belief that a Power greater than ourselves can restore us to a place of wholeness. Things we thought were insurmountable become small mounds when we give it up, make it a practice to turn it over to God on a daily basis, and watch the Spirit do mind-blowing things inside of us.

I believe this stuff, I really do, and everything has changed as a result. Is my life all sewn up? Not even close. In fact, at this writing I’m going through one of the scariest things I’ve ever faced. I’m anxious and I’m scared– but I’m not derailed. In fact, I see my connection to God deepening and the size of my own agenda decreasing as my eyes are glued to His. When life is going well there is a tendency to give Him a fleeting glance but I thank Him for this trial because through it, I’m getting more in the “habit of Him” as I hang on to Him more than ever before. I also know I need people who want the same things I do. I need caring souls to refresh my memory that I’m God’s very favorite child or I’ll get caught in the cement again. I need folks with a sunny outlook and a great faith to remind me that God is nuts about me and doesn’t want me to stay stuck. Perspective shift? You bet. In fact, the way I see it these days is that I have the extraordinary life I have today all because once upon a time I drank too much. No matter what your issue is, we have Power available to us to squash our flaws, foibles, failures, and fears– we only need to seize it… and live like we believe it.

Maybe the skyscrapers on the road you’re on are so tall they’re blocking out the light. It seems no one notices your feet are dragging. But up ahead is an intersection; you can keep walking down this street or you can make a turn up in the next block. You may be unemployed, on the verge of divorce, ill, bankrupt, or just plain lonely. Take a different path. Hang a right. Get out from in front of your computer, have someone move your bed, bring the phone closer to you… whatever you’re doing or wherever you are, call or go talk to someone. Now. One of my favorite passages from James says “Tell your stuff to another person”; the words on the page actually say “confess your sins one to another” but what it’s telling us is open your mouth and tell another human being the exact nature of what you’re up against. Why? “So you may be healed”. Healed. Trite? Maybe. But pinky swear, this stuff works.

It takes guts, but come on… you can do it. Hang a right.

“I sought the Lord and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to Him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. This poor (wo)man called and the Lord heard him; He saved him out of all his troubles.” Psalm 34:4-6

 

Sylvia is a singer and Christian women’s speaker, and lives in Southern California.

Read Sylvia’s other posts, and LIKE her on Facebook!

49 Comments

  1. Sylvia says:

    Thank you for your comment, Arlene. I have enjoyed your new book “31 Days to a Happy Husband” and wish you the very best on it! http://www.arlenepellicane.com

  2. Hang a right…love this catchy phrase! Perspective is certainly needed these days. Love your encouraging post and also the close to confess to one another from James. That is so true! Your writing is touching others…write on! :)

    • Sylvia Lange says:

      Thank you for your feedback, Arlene. I love your recent book at arlenepellicane.com and wish the very best to you as you promote it!

  3. Chelsey Novak says:

    Sylvia,

    I have been on this road. And it is so easy to blame others for all life’s problems while you are on this road. But the truth is, you can only really take true accountabilty for yourself. And that means giving it all up to Him only for yourself. Once you take OWNership for yourself, and perhaps even endure any humility along that walk, there is a gentleness and renewing that seems to occur along with a clear perspective. But the key is constant communication with the Lord. People need to talk with Him. He is the only one that knows every thought, action and desire of our hearts. HE is such a loving and forgiving God. How lucky we all are to have Him! I am so grateful for what He has put me through so that I can be where I am today, to have ALL I have today, and to appreciate every part of life. Somedays, it can be sooo hard to see why he puts us through all of the trials in life, but once we have passed through those dark valleys, and we see the light on the other side, we understand so why he does things the way He does – although we may NEVER understand why.

    • Sylvia says:

      Sounds like you’ve been through a lot on your road before hanging a right. God bless you as you continue down that path.

  4. Judy Hampton says:

    Sylvia….I love the way you write and I never tire of hearing your story of redemption, renewal and recovery. God seems to use our pain as a platform to display His glory. He is certainly doing this in your life. Love you.

  5. Jennifer says:

    Best blog ever. Wow.

  6. Vicki says:

    So hard to turn right when you don’t have the energy. Thanks for the boost.

  7. Demi Woodson says:

    This gave me chills! I love to read what you write so please keep it coming! This definitely touched my heart having gone through my own “stuff” not so long ago. God had to force my right turn but I am forever thankful for it!

    • Sylvia Lange says:

      I’m so glad to hear you identify that turn, Demi. Thank you for commenting here and thank you for sending your friends here!

  8. Sallie Opicka says:

    Well written and timing is perfect for little ol’ lonely single me! Looking forward to more from you. Love you from across the miles after all these years . . .

    • Sylvia Lange says:

      You mean “lovely you”? Thank you for commenting here and thank you in advance for sharing this Blog with anyone you feel could benefit from the perspectives I share. Hugs to you!

  9. Dave Pistole says:

    Hi Sylvia: A long time ago, we started a men’s group in Washington. We named it “Steel on Steel” after the verse in Proverbs that says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another”. Your blog reminds me that God comes to us where we are. He has to. But he never leaves us where he finds us. You help me flush the toilet in my head that is full of fear and doubt and just remember to relax, to smile, to say “Lord, I have screwed up my life so badly…will you help me?” And Jesus just loves it when you talk that way. The sweetest words I know are when one of my girls comes to me and says, “Daddy, will you help me?”

  10. Susan Vopat says:

    Hi Sylvia! This message is a great one! This entire summer I have been sitting at the feet of our Lord, just watching Him work and seeing how He is going to be glorified in my life. As I struggle with many things, I am blessed to see the Lord moving in my life, using the little things to open my eyes to how much He loves me! It has been amazing! I am so grateful to have taken the “right turn” and I love how the Lord is present in so many things! I’m bummed that I missed so many “God moments” but will do a better job of watching and waiting! Many blessings to you!

  11. Mya Martin says:

    Sylvia, your words are beautifully healing. We all need to hear these reminders about love, faith and perspective, and you write with such a strong and sensitive voice. Such clarity and wisdom shines through. I am proud to call you family….always have been. I thought of how much my mama Peggy would have loved reading this blog of yours. It’s interesting too, the timing of this for so many of the people responding to this blog “turn right”. It hit me too, at a perfect turning point in my journey. Much needed words. Keep sharing. We all love you! xo

    • Sylvia Lange says:

      We all need it. None of us can do it (successfully, that is) all alone. Thanks for commenting… see you here again, I hope!

  12. Patti DeFelicis says:

    Sylvia,

    Thanks for writing this…it’s all so true. I am praying for you and yours.

    Love you!

  13. Carol Lance says:

    I’m walking with two friends who desperately need to “hang a right.” I’m going to email this link to them right now. Thanks so much for sharing so clearly.

  14. Don Addiss says:

    Sylvia, you have articulated the answer to that question that so many use to discredit God or use as their reason for not making that right-hand turn: “If God is a loving god, then why does God allow pain and suffering?” Many times it’s BECAUSE God is a loving God that pain and suffering are allowed. Sure, it’s never fun, but it can ALWAYS bring about personal growth, deepened faith, and an enriched relationship with our loving Creator if we allow it.

    • Sylvia Lange says:

      So true. We ask God to bless us but often think that translates into Him healing us, bringing in more business, giving us that job we’ve been waiting for, bringing the spouse we’ve been longing for, returning the prodigal. Often the blessing comes in the midst of those things NOT happening, but it takes guts and maturity to see that. Thanks for stopping by; I appreciate your thoughtful words.

  15. Erin Haffner says:

    Continue to share your story because we truely cannot bless others unless we share our stories:) Also try to always be a Mary and not a Martha. Spend time in Gods presence and he will bless you with his wisdom!

  16. Josh says:

    Good one.

  17. Jacki Caldwell says:

    Found your first blog awhile ago and liked it but couldn’t reember your name so I had trouble finding you again but then I did. I like them all but really like this one the most. Have trouble with religion most of the tie because I was raised with it crammed down my throat but your way of talking about it intrigues me. More please.

    • Sylvia Lange says:

      Thanks, Jacki. Religion often gets a bad rap because flawed humans can sometimes obscure a clear view of God through it. But a relationship with God through Christ is something that’s decidedly just between us and Him, where no one else can muddy the waters. I’m glad you’re willing to hang in there and I look forward to seeing you here again.

  18. Anne R. says:

    Jer. 29:ll: For I know the plans I have for you, (as you make the right turn), declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a HOPE and a future. HOPE is not a wish but an assurance.

  19. Chas Lindsay says:

    Sitting here reading your “Hang A Right”. My Bride and I are so grateful that we belong in the family of believers where there are so many turns in our road that end up being free, seemingly undeserved gifts! Thanks for this share!!!

  20. Jessica says:

    WOW….did you write this one for me? I appreciate all of your messages, but this one really hit me. Thank you.

    • Sylvia Lange says:

      Thanks Jessica. I can see by the time mark that you probably tuned in on your lunch hour; ain’t it amazing how we can find a nugget we need when we least expect it?!

  21. Annie says:

    Thank you. Still grasping at surrender trying to find the right perspective In the midst of anger, pain, and sadness. Well written and it communicates to so many kinds of situations. Praying for your heart.

    • Sylvia Lange says:

      When air hits a cork, it no longer fits easily into the bottle. But with grit, focus, and just the right amount of pressure, it will eventually slip back into the neck of that glass. Don’t give up, don’t give up! The next thing that’ll hit you is the miracle… oh, believe it!

  22. Greg Evans says:

    Beautifully written. I too, almost 26 years ago faced my drug and alcohol demons and made that right turn. Yet even still, other issues…life, can put me back in the valley of despair. God has and continues to place remarkable people along my path to help me continue my turns to right. This was really helpful to me today.

    • Sylvia Lange says:

      I love the metaphor in the Proverbs of iron sharpening iron as we help to strengthen each other. No matter how sharp our blade can be, over time it dulls, and then we need to sharpen it again. “Progress not perfection”… ain’t it the truth?

  23. Robin Whitmore says:

    Sylvia, I love this. Thank you for writing and sharing your story. This is so encouraging to me and to so many others who read this. I totally agree about changing your perspective so can see the light that’s all around you. As we go through “stuff” we need to be reminded that God is in it with us all the way. Sometimes we don’t realize it until we get on the other side and look back and know, without a doubt, He was there holding onto us and all the while sharpening our character.

  24. Amy Mayer says:

    I’m so glad these come to my emails…because I’ll be thinking thru the day…I need to go check out that gal’s blog…but then life gets in the way…thank you for reminding me to take a minute.
    I love your perspective! :)

    • Sylvia Lange says:

      Thanks for subscribing; you can stay posted that way. The next one is on a much lighter note, about “The Most Interesting Man In The World”. Thanks for tuning in.. and for your comment!

  25. Adel Forsythe says:

    Love it. Holding you up to our Daddy. I have found Him to be 100% faithful to do and be everything He says He is; even when it looks impossible.

  26. Susanne Parker says:

    This hit hard tonight. I am on that road you talked about with the tall buildings all around me and I cant see out of the junk I’m in and feel like bailing out of everything.This encouraged me so much tho and commenting here is my first try at reaching out. You write so good. I will call someone next. God sent you to me tonight, thank you.

    • Sylvia Lange says:

      I’m so glad you shared this, Susanne. We aren’t designed to do life by ourselves and although it’s sometimes terrifying to reach out, we have to to find a safe haven. I hope by now you’ve contacted someone to talk to and if not, now! God bless you, sweet you.

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