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Can I Laugh On Your Shoulder?

Jan 15, 2020

It’s hard to fight the false narrative that working harder, making more money, and acquiring more stuff will bring happiness and fulfillment. My guest today is here to debunk that myth and help us discovery what’s truly most important to us. Get ready, because Meredith McDaniel is going to share her incredible wisdom about what we are truly searching for as humans. Meredith is a licensed professional counselor and owner of her own private practice, Milk and Honey Counselling. She is a graduate of the Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary and has served on staff with Young Life and worked as the lead counselor for Inheritance of Hope. She has a new book coming out next week on January 21st, 2020 called In Want + Plenty: Waking Up to God’s Provision In a Land of Longing. I highly recommend you preorder it right away. I’ve already had the chance to read it, and it is simply incredible. Meredith says that she feels called to sit with and listen to the stories of women and men, helping them discover who they are and experience life more fully. She enjoys entering into the quiet places of people’s lives in a safe setting to offer hope and help others taste of the Land of Milk and Honey. It was so refreshing, encouraging, and challenging to speak with Meredith today. Join me for this serene moment with Meredith McDaniel.

3:07 – The Meredith 101

  • Meredith is a licensed counselor who also went to seminary. She completed her Master of Christian Counseling program at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary. She studied core bible classes, but her main focus was integrating Christianity and Psychology.
  • It’s so important for the Church to care not only for people’s spiritual lives, but for people’s mental health as well.
  • About half of Meredith’s clients in her private practice are walking with the Christian faith and half of them are not. Her goal is to provide a safe space for people to process their lives. She doesn’t approach sessions from an evangelical mindset, but questions like “Who Am I?”, “Why Am I Here?”, and “What Is My Purpose?” often come up naturally in sessions with people who don’t identify as Christians.   
  • Meredith has been encouraged that the stigma with mental health has started to wane. There are far more organizations speaking about anxiety and depression, and more conversations are happening on podcasts and social media.
  • In the near future, Meredith will work with a local school to provide counseling onsite so that students don’t have to worry about missing as much school to get to appointments.

10:08 – A Universal Feeling: Purpose & Meaning 

  • There’s a common story that brings us all together: We all want meaning and purpose in our lives no matter what our beliefs and backgrounds. Meredith calls it a yearning. Some feel it deeper than others, but we all feel it to some degree.
  • Meredith began to notice a pattern that no matter what season of life people are in, many different people feel as if their lives are unraveling and they’ve lost sight of their purpose. Many people feel stuck in that space and don’t feel like they can pull themselves out of it.
  • The key seems to be finding movement and seeing our lives in a new way while being at peace with knowing there are a lot of factors out of our control. This is what gave Meredith the ideas for much what she wrote for In Want & Plenty: In Want + Plenty: Waking Up to God's Provision in a Land of Longing.

13:40 - The Exodus Provision

  • Meredith compares our modern lives to biblical characters who wandered in the wilderness for years. Our mouths are dry, and our stomachs are rumbling, and we are wandering.
  • Think about it this way: We wake up, we scroll through our phones, our minds are running with to do lists, we don’t stop to breathe, stretch or sweat, and we have trouble connecting to each other in a real way. If you take a closer look, we can relate to the people in the story of Exodus and other parts of the bible.
  • Meredith talks about the idea of “manna” both in her book and often on social media. If you’re not familiar with that term, the Hebrew translation is literally, “What Is It?” The dictionary definition from biblical context is “the substance miraculously supplied as food to the Israelites in the wilderness (Exodus 16).” Meredith summarizes the feeling of a “manna moment” to be a moment where God has provided for her in a way that she was surprised by that she didn’t quite fully understand.
  • Sometimes “manna moments” come in the form of things we may not like or prefer. We may not know why certain things happen, but we can surrender and trust that God has the big picture that we can’t see.
  • We want what we want, and we want it right now, but if we can unearth the manna that is in every single corner of our lives, it completely changes our view and we start recognizing it.

21:13 – How to Hunt for Manna

  • In her book, Meredith equips readers to look for manna in their lives. The number one way to do this is slowing down. Our world is too fast and we don’t have the time or space to absorb what’s happening beneath the surface in our lives.
  • Slowing down could look different from person to person. What does it look like to you to make space and prioritize certain things in your life?
  • For Meredith, one thing that helps her slow down is music. To sit and listen to a song and absorb it can help you recognize things in your own heart and soul before going back into the world to do what you’re called to do.
  • Anything that helps calm our systems will help us fight anxiety and/or depression. Movement, exercise, and time in nature can also help our systems calm. Eating well and being aware of what we put in our minds and bodies helps greatly. All these things inspire us for the work we are meant to do. We have to take care of our whole being – our mental well-being as well as our physical well-being.
  • Prayer, actively slowing down to nourish our spiritual lives, and patience prepares us to recognize manna moments when they’re fulfilled. If life is a marathon, how are we fueling our bodies, minds, and souls?
  • If we try to look at all the things we need and want to do, we become overwhelmed. It’s important for people to realize it’s ok if they can’t do it all. We can rely on God, on others, on counseling. It’s important to remember the long game. It’s a lifelong journey and it’s ok to slow down and relinquish some control.

33:48 – It’s Not All on Our Shoulders 

  • It can feel daunting to look back at your life. Most of us don’t want to sit with feelings from the past or even the present. We only want to look forward. It can be painful to do the work of looking back. That’s when we can lean on our communities, friends, and family members we trust.
  • Sometimes that community includes a therapist or spiritual director who is willing to make a space for you to process your life.
  • In the story of Exodus in the Bible, the Israelites found their voice in desperation. There are so many examples of them crying to God in desperation. God still wants us to cry out to him.
  • It’s easy in our modern lives to think we have to pretend that we have it all together and hide our feelings from others and even from God. That’s what keeps a lot of us separated from God and from the people we’re blessed to have in our lives.
  • When we can’t manage things on our own, it’s ok to ask for help and focus on healing. Both God and our communities want us to ask for help. We can surrender and trust God, even when it feels like our prayers and not being answered.

21:43 - We’ve got to slow down. Our world is so fast-paced and the content we have at our fingertips and in our ears at any point is crowding out the space we have to hear, see, and listen, and absorb what is happening beneath the surface.”

22:30 “I think it’s really important that we have time where we are just processing our story from the beginning of our life to wherever we are now…”

32:30 - “It’s more of a mystery, this whole life thing. It’s a case by case basis based on our own personality and who and how we were made to be. If we’re disconnected than the one who made us, it makes sense that we would be walking around feeling a little bit disoriented…”

33:00 - “I am part of a greater story. I get to play a role and it’s a gift and an honor to get to play a small role in the grander, rescue narrative, but I am not the main character and that is relieving and very freeing to me to get to lean in to it from that perspective.”

42:30 – “My prayer is that people would start to hunt for the manna: When they’re holding that ache of both (what they) want and experiencing the abundance of the plenty, that they would be able to see the manna in both.”

Meredith’s book In Want + Plenty: Waking Up to God’s Provision In a Land of Longing comes out January 21st, 2020. You can find it at basically all the book places (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.) as well as Meredith’s website. You can preorder it now! There are even extra goodies that come with preorder including a song with lyrics, a beautiful print, and access to early chapters. All you have to do is go HERE and enter your order number to claim your extras. They will arrive to your inbox on January 21st

44:41 - Getting to Know Our Guest

Find out what rejuvenates Meredith (she hasn’t shared this with many people!), her favorite TV to watch growing up, what she’s reading, and something that’s really important to her but she never gets a chance to talk about. Be sure to stay tuned for Meredith’s answer to the question I ask all my guests: “What Does it Mean to You to Run a Business with Purpose?”


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