Beyond Borders

courage. faith. action.

Unlearning the learned.


31 days a writing challenge



Every year I have participated in write 31 days, it has been a learning experience. Not a learning of writing, grammar, building platforms, building traffic or even followers. It has been a learning to trust God. To not just believe in God, but to believe Him. Believe His promises are true. That He is always for me and always with me.

When I get trapped in the story of my life, it is through this writing He sets me free. The scales fall away and I see His hands orchestrating my life. Whether the writing be about past or present events, He gives me new eyes to see and it is all glory.

This year has not proven to be any different.

I had known about the upcoming writing event since August and I knew I was not going to participate this year. I did not feel that pull, nor had I heard the whispers like I had in years past. But then the morning of October 1st rolled around. I was attempting to write out my reflections of the event I had attend just a week earlier. I was fumbling through my thoughts. I just could not find the words that truly expressed what God had done that day and I quickly found myself perusing the internet.

One click led to another and I soon found myself on My fingers feverishly typing and clicking the trackpad. I had heard that whisper and felt that pull. and there is sat. I was all signed up with a confirmation email sitting neatly in my inbox.

An hour later I had a button, a topic and no plan. and there I was writing my introductory post for a series I had no idea what I was going to do with it. Until I did.

It only took six posts for God to reveal Himself. It was unexpected and actually took me several days to process it. It is never easy when God reveals your own rebellion. But it was clear. And change was needed. But how?

This week I have watched myself knee deep in the chaos. I watched how I handled each and every situation. It was not pretty and it was heartbreaking. I saw how easily I turned inward, trying to rely on my strength. It was habit. A learned behavior.

A learned behavior. A term used in therapy sessions with our littlest one with autism. Put simply because certain behaviors have worked in the past to get the result she wanted, no matter how ugly that may have looked, she has learned that this is the way to get things she needs or wants in her life. I am not talking about being spoiled. This is the kind of behavior that comes from an inward fear that she doesn’t understand. A fear that causes her to react in such a way to control her environment. This sounds a lot like me trying to control the chaos.

We don’t have to have labels of autism, OCD, PDD-NOS, or others to have learned behavior. Behavior that might seem in the moment right, but really it isn’t. We all have learned behaviors. Little things we have learned to cope with our own environments. Whether they are intentional or not, we created them.

In therapy, there is a process of correcting these behaviors. Not caving when the moment has spiraled downhill and the learned behaviors surface, but giving encouragement and supporting the good behavior. It is work. It is practice. It doesn’t always come out right. But the more you practice, the learned behavior starts to fall away, giving into the  new behavior. Eventually this new behavior becomes the norm.

It’s time to put in place the practice. To let the learned behavior fall and give way to the new behavior. To seek Him. Seek His face. In all things. Always.

And there will be quiet in the chaos.


This is day eight in 31 one days of finding quiet in the chaos. To view the whole series click here.

Author: Shelly Richardson

A stay at home mom, married to my best friend, who loves like Jesus. Together we have four beautiful daughters. One biological, one adopted and two by way of marriage. Our 12 year old daughter was diagnosed with Aspergers syndrome when she was 6 years old and our youngest was diagnosed with autism at 3 years old. I have dealt with chronic illness most of my life and at times has been debilitating. It is through this illness and the special needs of our children that drew us closer to God. Beyond Borders is the place where I write out my story of living beyond my borders. A place to share of God’s love and grace, His mercy and sovereignty, and what that looks like in my own little world of chronic illness and autism. A place where courage and faith intersect and He moves me to action. My hope in writing is that you find something that inspires you. Encourages you. Makes you smile.

4 thoughts on “Unlearning the learned.

  1. Beautiful thoughts, Shelly. Really appreciated this.

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