“Busy” doesn’t mean “productive.” In our desire to get more, be more, and do more, are we becoming the walking dead? Are we seeing life as meaningless and irrelevant?
Each day becomes a blur as we wake up worn out and trying to pack something more into our already over-loaded schedules. It reminds me of Bob Fosse’s classic scenes that repeat over and over in the movie, All That Jazz. The frazzled, overworked, and depressed choreographer looks in the mirror each morning, pumping himself up and saying, “It’s showtime!” Sadly, many feel the same today as they’re running on empty, looking for a way out and reaching for their pocket “crack” –their cell phone– to find answers and hope.
Are you one of the “walking dead,” trying to balance it all?
When Moses led the Children of Israel out of Egypt, it not only took convincing the Pharoah, but the Jewish people themselves. We read in the Bible about the plagues God sent, but have you ever pondered the amount of convincing Moses needed to do to get the Jews to pack up and leave? How fed up did they really feel with where they lived and what they endured? Similarly, what’s our reaction when life’s muck hits us between the eyes? Are we ready to get off the treadmill and trust the ever-present and living God and let Him move us to a better place?
Are the present-day disasters, wars, terrorism, immigration issues, and political turmoil getting our attention?
Once the Jews were freed from Egypt’s control, it then took 40 years of wandering to root out their past habits and build up their trust in God again. He had to continually prove Himself to them. Did God consider those years necessary? In His grace and mercy, He willingly waited for them to mature. Unfortunately, we often don’t jump out of life’s disruptions instantly, either. Most of the time, we get sucked into our daily grind and can’t break out. We get used to the misery and instead of turning to God, we just whine. Perhaps we ignore the pain because, well… we’re busy, and making changes is just too time consuming. But God promises in His Word that when we’re ready, He’s ready with “a peace that passes all understanding.” (Philippians 4:7.) But we have to choose. Are you courageous enough to do the often painful, but necessary work to get there? How badly do you want to get out?
Here are some suggestions of where to begin:
Use your smartphone and get smart. Schedule your personal time with Jesus at least four or more times a week and make it a priority. One to three times a week won’t cut it. Research has proven that four or more times will positively change your life. It’s why I wrote my devotional, Hope 4 Today: Stay Connected to God in a Distracted Culture, based on a four-day format.
Get serious about how you spend your free time. Be mindful of how much time you’re spending on black hole apps, games, and social media platforms that are sucking the air out of your life. Statistics reveal that the average global user is on TikTok 3.5 hours a day and 4.5 hours a day on Facebook. Get radical. Delete apps on your primary screen that are not essential. Smartphones also have a feature that monitors how much time you’re spending on them. Use it and stop falling into the vortex.
Focus on caring for others and not just collecting friends. Freeing your eyes from being face-planted on your digital device allows you more time to see those around you. Build real relationships and not just ones on social media platforms. Try volunteering for something you feel passionate about. You’d be surprised how it will reward personal growth and friendships that really matter.
Finally, reach out and share your story and the life-giving message of Jesus. Many are hurting today, are caught up in the tornadic whirlwind, and need help to get out. They’re looking for answers and solutions searching for happiness not realizing that it’s the joy of knowing Jesus that their soul is craving. He alone can resurrect the walking dead. He alone restores life.
It is “showtime.” It’s time to show the world that God is with them amid the chaos. He restores that which has been taken, even what the locusts have eaten (Joel 2:23).
Are you trusting God through the process? The ins and outs of life can take unexpected turns, but read this month’s INNER VIEW with Jodie Swee as she encourages us to grow, view failure through a different lens, and earn our place of influence with others.
Jodie Swee is a spiritual director, dating coach, and founder of Topanga Social, a dating service for imperfect Christians. Jodie has authored four Bible study series and shared her joy and authenticity with audiences for over 20 years. She lives in the South Bay of Los Angeles with her husband of 16 years and their 2 daughters.
Kathleen Cooke: What’s the one thing you’d like to share with women that God has recently taught you?
Jodie Swee: Trust the process! Growth and accomplishment don’t usually happen overnight. If you spend quality time with Jesus regularly, seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and do your best with what you have, then trust that the Lord will take care of you and lead you to where you need to be.
When you trust the process, you discover an invitation to experience things differently. Failure becomes an opportunity to learn, detours become adventures, and the lack of control over external circumstances becomes a chance to surrender your internal perspective to the Lord.
I recently had a conversation with my best friend, and at that moment, I wasn’t trusting the process. Let me share with you what she told me.
She said, “Babies have to grow.” And she’s right. Our babies…our hopes, dreams, and expectations for the future… need to grow. They need to grow so that the Lord can teach us how to take care of them before they become unruly teenagers with their own ideas!
So, my dear friends, trust the process and enjoy the adventure it brings.
Kathleen: Failure today often dismantles us. How have you dealt with failures in your life?
Jodie: I hate failure. I loathe it. It makes me feel all squishy and small inside, and for many years I used to hide from it behind excuses. But not anymore. Instead of running and hiding from my failure, the Lord has taught me to turn and face it. Don’t get me wrong, I still HATE it, and it makes me feel icky inside. My initial instinct is still to run and hide, but the Lord has granted me the ability to pause before doing so (or before getting too far) and embrace my failure.I don’t embrace it for long, but rather than run from my failure, I receive it…and then bring it to the Lord and yield it. When I do that, he transforms it into something else…something beautiful and beneficial to me and/or others.
Twenty years ago, I was speaking at a young adult event in a church. I completely bombed. After I finished, someone in the crowd actually shouted, “That’s it?” I thought I would be consumed by shame. I blamed it on my lack of talent/skill and ended up quitting speaking for a decade. Until the Lord invited me to try again (which is a sweet, sweet story for another time).
Last year, I was speaking at another church event, and once again, I completely bombed. I experienced all the familiar feelings, but then I laughed (a little) and brought it to the Lord. In doing so, I discovered an opportunity to deepen my spiritual practices before and after speaking. The failure became a gift that will serve me and others for the rest of my life.
For a long time, I thought that someday I would be so wise and experienced that I wouldn’t fail anymore. Bless my naive little heart! Now, I am indeed wiser and more experienced…and I know I’ll never outgrow failure (this side of eternity). It’s not something to outgrow or run away from. It’s something to embrace, even with its uncomfortable feelings, and surrender so we can experience more of God’s transformative love in our lives.
Kathleen: You have a deep passion to help others with growing strong, meaningful relationships. What have you learned about developing relationships that last and can be trusted?
Jodie: I have a deep and fierce love for people, and I pastor many. It is my purpose and passion. However, personally, I tend to be somewhat of a loner. Surprisingly, my inner circle is quite small, not by choice but by some intentional design, I believe. Throughout my adult life, I have consistently sought out a steady mentor, but I have never had one. Nevertheless, I have been fortunate to receive bits of wisdom from older friends who have come and gone throughout my journey.
I have ADHD, and I’m not awesome at keeping up with people who live far away. (Out of sight, out of mind is LEGIT for us neurodivergent homies.) I didn’t meet my best friend until I was 42. She was leading worship; I was giving the message…and we bonded for life over the realization that we both experienced the love of Jesus through the TV series Outlander. (That’s weird, I know…but that’s why she’s my bestie.)
My relational experience over the years has taught me to enjoy and delight in what I have, grieve and release what has been lost as a natural part of life, and always be on the lookout for my next kindred spirit to pop up in an unexpected place.
Kathleen: What’s the one thing you’ve learned about how we can influence others?
Jodie: Honestly? I’ve learned that influence can be a sneaky and destructive beast, and it is important for us to be mindful of how we wield it and the individuals we permit to influence us.
Influence should not be won; it should be earned.
I believe that it is earned by faithfully pursuing our calling with our whole lives (public and private), being honest and saying “I don’t have an answer to that” when we don’t, and being intentional about sitting under the authority and influence of God. Any influence we have not supported by a firm foundation in Jesus is just an invitation for that sneaky Satan to twist and misuse. Influence shouldn’t puff us up or make us strong; it should keep us humble and desperately in need of the Lord’s guidance.
Connect with Jodie:
Book a free intro session at: JodieSwee.com
Instagram: @jodieswee and @topangasocial
I have so much exciting news to share with you this month! We promised that we would be working hard to give you opportunities to build your community and network and here were some of the ways we did that in October:
- Influence Women has relaunched and now has a new, interactive website! InfluenceWomen.org has been built with community in mind and will be the hub for all Influence Women information, events and mentorship programs! This new member platform is the perfect place to engage with other industry creatives and includes access to job postings and a roster of fellow professionals.
- The Influence Women Membership Program was officially announced with three empowering levels of engagement: Partner, Professional, and Executive (by application only).
- Influence Women had an incredibly successful in-person event at Castaway in Burbank. The event was sold-out with over 100 women gathered together to be inspired and encouraged by Netflix Executive Christina Lee Storm and Influence Lab Co-Founder, Kathleen Cooke. The event marked the official relaunch of Influence Women, the membership program and the new website!
Upcoming Influence Women Events!
Check out, and check often, our INW Calendar, get plugged in, and grow with us!
- Be a Star on Zoom featuring television actress Renee Lawless – November 1st from 5:30pm – 7pm (PST)
- Our FREE 6-week Bible study on the Book of Nehemiah started on Oct 4th, but it’s not too late to email us at email@example.com to sign up! Show business is a demanding pursuit. Feed your spirit and your mind while developing a community of sisters who can support you as work to support and influence others.
- Nashville Chapter Launch! November 9th from 7pm – 9pm at the Homestead Manor Barn. If you’re in the Nashville area, you won’t want to miss the opportunity to get plugged in at the ground level. Become a member and register for the event on our website.
- Hollywood INspire Event! November 12th from 1pm – 4pm in Tarzana, CA. INspire events are small, informal gatherings designed for fun and fellowship. It’s our hope that you will take advantage of these local events to make new friends and grow your community. Visit the website for details.
- Orange County Chapter Launch! Brunch on Saturday, November 19th at 11am. Join the movement in OC, featuring gifted writer, producer, and actress, Alexandra Boylan!
That’s it for now, but stay connected with us as there is always something new!
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Connect with us on Social Media!
The Influence Lab: @influencelab
Influence Women Hollywood Chapter: @InfluenceWomenHollywood
Influence Women Atlanta Chapter: @InfluenceWomenAtlanta
Influence Women Nashville Chapter: @InfluenceWomenNashville