Look Below the Surface

Our neighbors are building a new house.
Within days they have torn down the old one and are now digging deep holes for the new one. I would have had the chance to sleep in a little this morning, but no. 7 a.m. sharp the construction workers show up. Machines are running, and once in a while you can feel the entire building shake. Continue reading “Look Below the Surface”

When Quiet Is the Last Thing I Should Be

A few Fridays ago the prompt for the weekly link-up was quiet. I did write something on it, but it wasn’t my first draft. What ended up on the blog were not the thoughts I had initially when I pondered the prompt a bit.

My first ideas did not seem right at that time, but they have spooked around in my head for a while now and I feel like I have to share them, too. So here are some unscripted thoughts about me no longer wanting to be quiet.

I am a quiet person and very often that’s okay.

But lately I’ve been thinking that sometimes it’s maybe the last thing I should be.

With all the stress and busyness of life going on at the moment I find myself really out of touch with the news.
I scroll down newsfeeds and take in the headlines, but I can’t talk in depth about what’s really going on. There’s thousands upon thousands of refugees coming into the country each month, and I am just overwhelmed with everything that could or should be done.

I want to educate myself and break out of the quietness, but I am often too busy (and sometimes also lazy) to really do it.

With all the hills and valleys I’ve journeyed through in the last year my faith has changed quite a bit. It has grown and the process is not done yet.
I often find myself alone and unable to connect with what I used to call church culture. I don’t want to be awkward and weird, but I also can’t pretend to belong somewhere where I don’t feel right.

This is a challenge when you’re a worship leader and often have no idea what you’re supposed to do up on that stage.
I want to evolve and grow my roots deeper into God, but I am often too afraid to share this with the people I’m supposed to lead.


With all the growing up I’ve had to do in the last two years I often reached my limits. I just couldn’t go on anymore and had to learn that I need help. People who were allowed to see my messy apartment and to hear my confused thoughts. Places where I was allowed to just be and not accomplish anything. Friends who helped me to process out loud and discover a rhythm, rest and beauty again.
I want to grow in community and friendship, but I am often too ashamed to open up and let people in.

The world is not changed by people keeping quiet.

Things in our lives, in our world, in our churches won’t take a turn for the better if we don’t muster up the courage to share our struggles and doubts. Places can’t even begin to change if we don’t shed light on what went wrong in the first place. Hearts can’t be transformed if we don’t fight for new life and intimacy with all the hope and strength that’s left in us.

Here’s to change.
Here’s to speaking up and sharing myself.

[#write31days] Day 19 “I Don’t Want to Drive Others Away”

Welcome to Day 19 of #write31days! 
For more information check out the series’ page

The problem with setting healthy boundaries, is not always connected to the work or the lack of rest – if we’re really honest and take a closer look at our heart we find a fear that drives us to never say no and just keep going.

Lie #3: My No will drive away friends, spouses, or colleagues
In the course of the last year I have practiced to say NO a bit more often.
NO to extra assignments and responsibilities.
NO to jumping on every band wagon and event.
NO to people wanting my help, my time, my effort, my creativity, my emotions.
This wasn’t an easy process. 

One of the strongest forces holding me back from setting boundaries was that voice inside of me, telling me:
“If you say NO now, people won’t like you anymore.
If you no longer invest in this friendship it’ll break apart and friends will turn their backs on you.
If you cut back on your time in church, at work or other ministries, no one will ever ask you for a leadership role ever again. They’ll find people better than you and you can’t return in the future.”

Thoughts like this kept me going for a long time, but the last year has taught me that I couldn’t just go on. So I had to take a step back and dig deeper. Why did I allow these lies settle in my heart and mind?  

19aBehind the concern for a project or other people lies fear. 
Fear to be rejected by others because I can’t give anything at the moment.
Fear to be replaced by other skilled people and losing a place of passion and influence.
Fear to be abandoned by friends when you need them the most ebcause you’re at the receiving end of a friendship for once.

And underneath is an even deeper fear.
Fear of losing my identity, the definition of who I am.

The reason why I fear rejection, replacement, and abandonment is definition gone wrong. A certain position in a ministry, a place and work I’m good at tell me who I am. I can’t deny that it’s flattering to receive compliments for my work at x or my talent in y. It feels encouraging and uplifting to be good at something. We all need a bit of appreciation once in a while, but if we don’t pay attention – if we don’t set good boundaries – the chase for appreciation will define and drive us to a wrong end.
A certain intimacy and dependency are a necessary foundation for any relationship. It requires effort, initiative, and investment. Things we’re willing to give and receive for people we love and care about. Ultimately, however, no matter how close a bond is – these people don’t define who we are. And nothing we do (or don’t do) should change our status in this relationship. Or as my friend Liz once said:

We are human beings, not human doings.


This is not to say that life can be rough and relationships can look like abattlefield. And yes, sometimes friendships break apart and we’re left alone.

But who we are deep down inside, away from anyone else, has been defined a long time before you ever had any human contact.


For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.                                                             Psalm 139:13-16

When we hear this voice inside us trying to hold us back from setting boundaries, we need to look deeper. 
We need to examine and ask ourselves: What is the real fear behind it? Who or what do I allow to define who I am? 

19bGod is a good person to talk to, he is our creator and knows who he made us to be. So let’s be brave and face our fears, admit where our definition has gone wrong. And then allow His truth to illuminate our darkness and replace the lies buried inside of us.

Who or what defines you? Where have definitions gone wrong and you need to address deeper fears?
Take some time to ponder these questions together with God.

[#write31days] Day 13 Physical Boundaries

Welcome to Day 13 of #write31days! 
For more information check out the series’ page

Nature has not only defined boundaries around us, our bodies are created with boundaries as well. From every hair on our head to our skin to our organs – everything has its specific order and serves a specific purpose. One. purpose. Not anyone else’s.

Early Childhood Development
We mostly complain about a lack of or the wrong kinds of boundaries as adults, but boundary foundations are actually laid at a very early age. Researchers and psychologists have made interesting discoveries when looking at how the relationship between an infant and its mother develops.
The first stage is all about close bonding. Babies know their mother really well; her smell, the sound of her voice, the shape of her face. Whenever she moves away from them they start crying. They feel insecure and lost. Why? Because they have no sense of self yet, they believe that mommy and them is one person (emotional object constancy).


It is essential for infants to experience this close bonding, the love and care of a mother. They learn to feel safe and rooted in a loving and caring environment, an unbeatable foundation for their soul and spirit. 

Within the first year of life a change happens; some parents are surprised and shocked by it, when their cute and cuddling baby suddenly rebels and wants to get away from this close bond. Once again, it is important for parents to realize how necessary this step is for a child’s development. Every child needs to gain more independence and autonomy. The only way to do that is to separate and individualize. Mommy and baby are no longer the same, they are actually two independent individuals.

You can’t have “me” until you first have a “not-me”.
Cloud&Townsend. Boundaries.

I find it particular that the journey to your self and who you ARE goes via who you AREN’T. Children who never took that step to separate and explore their individual identity will struggle with setting boundaries as adults. Parents who don’t release their children to a certain extent will have trouble with respecting other people’s boundaries.
12cSeparation and individualization leads to experimentation. Toddlers (and teenagers later on) are driven by energy to explore the world. They often believe: I can do anything! This is perfectly okay because it will allow them to take risks, not shy away from challenges, and ultimately grow. Even as adults we need to experience this feeling once in a while. Nevertheless, the counterpart is just as important. Some have to learn it the hard way: I can’t do everything! And this is okay, too because somewhere along the way we’ll hopefully find our place. We’ll learn to maximize our strengths and say YES to good challenges, but also to accept our weaknesses and say NO to overburdening ourselves with the wrong tasks.

Our Body’s Radar
I find it amazing how our body has been created with a natural sense of boundaries. Just look at your skin. It protects the underlying layers of skin and organs from damage. It serves as a boundary to dirt from the outside and exchange point for bodily fluids. It keeps the good inside and the bad outside. 
Without any kind of training we have a sense of space, how close someone else is allowed to get to us. Normally we are not aware of this unless someone violates our personal space. A stranger coming closer than one meter is intimidating. He enters a space he doesn’t belong. It feels like he’s getting hold of us – our body, our soul, our mind – without even touching us. A group of people can be overwhelming at times because our personal space is taken away from us. These instincts most times are no sign of claustrophobia, they are our natural boundaries and protect our body with all its different layers.

12b These natural boundaries are a gift and we should appreciate them, especially when we think how easily this gift can be taken away. Victims of abuse and rape often suffer from a loss of boundaries. Of course, there’s physical harm, but the emotional damage is even greater: someone has violated your personal space, has overstepped your boundaries without permission, has taken something away without every giving it back.

Our physical boundaries are a gift and we should learn to appreciate and use them well.

Think about your own development for a moment: Have you ever thought about who you ARE and who you AREN’T?
What is your personal space? How close are people allowed to come, what is too close for you?