* Please note this is part of our Unglued Book Study. If you aren’t officially part of the study, we would still welcome your comments! Also, if you would like to join us in the reading of this great book, details can be found here. You can request to join the Facebook group here.
Writing, reading, and history. Those were my strengths. I’m a humanities girl.
But math? Blech.
Since the first grade, when I struggled with counting sticks and learning to subtract in Mrs. Grizzle’s class, I told myself I was just plain bad at math.
From that point on, I accepted the fact that I just didn’t have a “math mind.” I took it as truth that I wouldn’t ever do well in a math class and I joked about my lack of understanding when it comes to all things numbers.
When I got to college, I was required to take a math class with a tough reputation. It was the one class dreaded by all who were required to take it.
And to my surprise? I loved it. And I got an A. My first-ever A in a math class.
Now don’t get me wrong – I’m still a humanities girl. Math still isn’t my strongest subject but you know what?
It doesn’t scare me anymore and I don’t tell myself I can’t do it anymore.
I broke free from the prison of the “I can’t do math” label.
In Chapter Three of Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions author Lysa TerKeurst talks about her friend, Christina, who was about to go to prison for a real estate crime. Her friend had a repentant and humble heart but Lysa was still worried she would be considered a “prisoner” for the rest of her life.
“Labels are awful,” she writes. “They imprison us in categories that are hard to escape. I should know. While I’ve never been a numbered inmate in a federal prison, I’ve put labels on myself that have certainly locked me into hard places. Maybe you are familiar with labels too . . .
I am angry.
I am frustrated.
I am a screamer.
I am a stuffer.
I am just like my mother.
I am a wreck.
I am a people pleaser.
I am a jerk.
I am insecure.
I am unglued” (p.32-33)
And I could add “I am bad at math.” What labels imprison you?
Later in the chapter, Lysa talks about her trip to Florence, Italy to see the famous sculpture “David” by Michelangelo. As she was waiting, she saw several unfinished sculptures on display – sculptures that were perhaps carved on the top but the unfinished bottom was still a block of stone.
They were sculptures that had not been set free.
When she reached the sculpture of David, she saw a fully-chiseled sculpture by a master artist.
“O God, chisel me. I don’t want to be locked in my hard places forever. I want to be all that You have in mind for me to be” (p.36).
When we refuse to accept our labels from the past, we open our hearts to be chiseled by the greatest artist of all.
But it’s easier said than done, right?
Luckily, Lysa offers a process to help us dump those stifling labels:
1. Identify the label meant to tear you down. In my case, “I’m bad at math.”
2. Choose to view the circumstance as a call to action, not a call to beat myself up mentally. I will just need to study and try harder than I would in an English or History class.
3. Use the momentum of tackling one label to help me tackle more. I see that I can overcome my “bad at math” label so I have more confidence that other imprisoning labels can be eliminated, too.
What Kind of Unglued Am I?
People typically come unglued and react in two ways – exploding and stuffing.
Exploding is when we push emotions outward while stuffing means we push them in.
There are four categories of unglued reactions:
1. The Exploder Who Shames Herself
2. The Exploder Who Blames Others
3. The Stuffer Who Builds Barriers
4. The Stuffer Who Collects Retaliation Rocks
As I was reading these, with a sinking feeling, I realized a hard truth: I’m all four of these depending on the who I’m with when I come unglued.
And then Lysa said the same thing. Whew. It’s so good to know when you’re not alone.
I can come explode someone who is being unkind or rude then later shame myself for not just turning the other cheek. If I explode on my kids, it’s their fault for why I am coming unglued. If a friend has hurt me, maybe I’ll just keep it in but create some distance and in my marriage . . . oh yes, I’ve gathered some retaliation rocks.
Our goal is to express our emotions and keep our “soul integrity.” On page 52, Lysa describes soul integrity as ” . . . the heart of what we’re after. Soul integrity is honesty that’s godly. It brings the passion of the exploder and the peacemaking of the stuffer under the authority of Jesus where honesty and godliness embrace and balance each other” (p. 52).
It’s possible, friends. We can retrain our brains and build new neural pathways to react with soul integrity when we feel ourselves coming unglued.
We’ll talk more in our chat on Wednesday night at 9 p.m. EST on the Facebook page but in the meantime, pick any or all of the following questions to answer in the comments:
1. What labels have imprisoned you in the past or currently imprison you?
2. How did you or how can you break free from those labels?
3. What kind of unglued to you most recognize as yourself?
4. Anything else stand out for you in Chapters Three and Four?
“As I was reading these, with a sinking feeling, I realized a hard truth: I’m all four of these depending on the who I’m with when I come unglued.
And then Lysa said the same thing. Whew. It’s so good to know when you’re not alone.”
Exactly me, too!!
Stephanie, that’s so funny – exactly my reaction, too! I thought “Uh-oh, I think I might be worse than I thought!” and then I read her words and sighed a big sigh of relief!! Yes, good to know it’s not just us, right? Thanks for sharing your thoughts, friend!
Oh…labels. These, I feel, are the hardest things to address. I really don’t like acknowledging that I (or others) have given myself labels. As for the of unglued I am, depends on the moment in time. I can be any of the four. I have been ALL of the four before. I have things to work on.
Yep, we ALL do, Bethany! I’ve also been all four – I think it’s pretty normal. What I like is that Lysa is giving us hope and encouraging us to have the self-control to identify when we’re reacting in one of the four ways and what to do about it. Thanks for being so real, Bethany! So appreciate you, friend!
Label: Not good enough. I could write reams about this. I still struggle…honestly, I don’t know if I’ll ever conquer that one.
Unglued: I’m a stuffer who eventually explodes and then shames herself…because (wait for it) I’m not good enough! Ha.
Great post. Great book.
Oh, Charlotte…You always make me chuckle. Yep, that’s a label you need to ditch because it’s SO not true!!!! I know – easier said than done. I’m very familiar with the exploding then feeling shameful…:)
So happy to see you here, sweet sister…
When i read this – it’s not just the labels i put on myself but the labels society puts on me. I work hard with my kids to make sure that labels don’t define them or that they embrace those labels in a way that makes them just another tick mark instead of a trap….but I’m not so good at that myself. For example – if someone calls my daughter a nerd – I talk about all the great things that come with being a nerd and point out that being a nerd is awesome and doesn’t prevent her from also being sporty or any other label out there. Or if my other daughter is told she throws like a girl, I’ll say ‘darn straight and i bet they are jealous.’ But do i apply this to myself? Nope. Not very often. Right now I see myself as the negative in the labels. Like – I am a mom. That’s a label I wear proudly….but i also worry that makes me frumpy, dumpy and boring….like i can’t try new things that are non kid related. I’m a stay at home mom which i love but does that also make me lazy, a financial drain on the family and stupid? There are so many labels and I need to work harder on embracing the good and not the negative that is associated with those labels. Hope that makes sense. I should probably read this chapter again. lol
Labels for me, especially within the last year (have battled severe fibromyalgia that really got the best of me): not a good enough friend, wife, mother. I’m working very hard to overcome these!
I’m a stuffer who builds barriers 100%!!! I dislike confrontation so much that I’d rather swallow everything down than confront people. (no wonder I have heartburn! ha!)