30/07/2012

The Emotional Hangover**

Posted in Encouragement, Finding Faith, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 9:40 am by The Water Bearer

I am coining this as an official title,

“Emotional Hangover”

I am beginning to see a pattern form, of getting an emotional hangover after a day of emotional battle, a day of raw exposed fear. The kind of inner battle when you can’t control a thought in your head or a word from your mouth. When you are so overwhelmed with the onslaught of emotions that your clarity of thought isn’t even in the same suburb as you! Tears are shed, hearts crumble under the painful attacks of fear and guilt, words are rambled and all capability is lost. Many psychological conditions bring on these bouts, such as Depression, Anxiety, Bi-Polar Disorder, Cyclic Mood Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, etc. The battle itself is difficult at best to get through, however I have noticed the next day or two I am exhausted and extremely sensitive. I feel like I’ve been through hell and back.

Every ‘Drinker’ knows a real ‘Hangover’, you may as well write-off the whole next day because you know you are going to be useless. Getting out of bed is like lifting a wreckage from the bottom of the sea, that first sip of warm Coffee or Tea gives you slight hope, which only fades as the cup drains. The second cup doesn’t hold the same potential as that first hopeful sip, regular responsibilities are unbearably weighty, if you can manage anything at all then you’re grateful.

Not too long ago, I suffered from this type of “Emotional Hangover”.

Getting out of bed caused an argument with myself, until I managed to drag myself off the mattress.

I snapped at my family members when I saw the rubbish overflowing onto the floor, spewing out of the bin which was well over capacity.

I cringed and growled out loud “ARGH!” when I saw the heavy rain fall onto my work uniforms as they hung neatly on the washing line.

I could barely hear my children speak to me through the thick fog of unfathomable thoughts, and each question they threw at me squeezed into my mind which was as full as the rubbish bin. When I tried to conjure a response, the pressure inside my mind became too much and only something regrettably negative burst from my mouth.

I stood in front of the pantry trying desperately to come up with a side dish I felt able to make with dinner, I slid down the cupboard door behind me until my backside hit the floor, looking up at the shelves of food begging something to cry out “I am easy to make, you can manage to make me”. Only to give up and go to bed for an hour or so.

My head was heavy, my heart was heavy, my body was heavy, my mind was mush under a heavy fog. I’ve felt this before, many times.

I was very grateful to read a fellow bloggers post Mental Fatigue. Which let me know I wasn’t alone, every word rang true as I read, my realisation sparked this post.

I began to remind myself that these battles haven’t been so common recently, that I have been much better for many years, even though I do still get hit randomly, though not as often, but still HARD. An overflow of the inner war I discussed in a previous post Why so Fragile? I know that my inner enemy is using fear to deter me from writing…again. This time bringing out the ‘Big Guns’ of my psychological disorder to dissuade me from exposing these tactics.

The details might be different for everyone, but my deep personal fear is similar to many. Fear of being unloved, fear of being rejected, fear of being worthless, fear of temptation, fear of failing, fear of suffering, fear of regret.

I pray more than ever in these times, I instinctively reach for the powerful words of my Bible. My faith will get me through, I know this. He is my strength when I am weak.

In a confident state of mind, and a trusting, loving connection with God, these fears are irrelevant. I know I am loved by my Heavenly Father, that He will never reject me, I know how valuable I am to Him, I know my sins are forgiven, I know I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me, that I can endure suffering and be better for it, and that my regrets are what improves me.

I Know this! I Know this! So why do we still get attacks of feeling this way, believing these lies, folding under the fear? Whether for days on end, or just for one day here and one day there?

Because in this fragile state, this knowledge is hidden behind the heavy fog.

I used to think I was alone in this until I began sharing my story, I have found there are many of you out there, many like me who battle these inner enemies at various times in your lives.

So why does God let all this happen to us who love Him, who trust in Him?

I believe He wants to make us avid opponents to His enemies, He wants to strengthen our abilities on the battlefield, this fragile state of mind forces us to stretch our faith and reach further for His hand, to bring Him into our circumstance. These difficult times remind me to be vigilant in wearing my Godly armor, and to keep me truly hungering and thirsting for His word. What about you? Do these types of battles diminish your faith in His protection, or do you understand that He uses all things to bring about His design and build our relationship with Him and our strength of faith?

I watched the film “The Vow” recently, it touched me so, and a part of the story fits in here. The husband tells his wife who is suffering from amnesia that He will make her feel the love they once shared, that it will be like reading her favourite book for the first time. She will get to experience the most amazing feeling in the world again, the feeling of “Falling in Love“.

I feel like that when this fog lifts and I am saved by my Loving Father in Heaven! I fall in love with Him over and over again. I feel the safety of trusting in Him return to my awareness, I marvel at His demonstrations of Love when my prayers are answered. I am humbled by my weakness and encouraged by His strength. I am uplifted and enlightened, yet mystified and amazed by His complex puzzle for life and growth.

It may seem confusing but He knows things we don’t, He sees around the corners of life which we have yet to view. He uses these times to refine us as one would remove the impurities of precious metals, heating up the rocks with the hottest of fires causing the imperfections to rise to the surface and be removed!

“I will put this third into the fire, and refine them as one refines silver, and test them as gold is tested. They will call upon my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘They are my people’; and they will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’

Zech 13:9 (ESV)

What about you? Do you also struggle and battle with fears similar to mine?
Do these types of battles diminish your faith in His protection?
Or do you understand that He uses all things to bring about His design and build our relationship with Him and our strength of faith?
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26/07/2012

Very Inspiring Blogger Award! Thanks so much!*

Posted in Encouragement, General tagged , , , , at 10:11 am by The Water Bearer

I can’t begin to explain how surreal it is to be nominated for my first ever blogging award! Thank-you so much to my friend in the blogosphere Tj for this wonderful honor! Please check out her adventures and inspiring photography in her blog Tj’sGarden.

I am so new to this writing business that I am not quite sure how to process this acknowledgement. It kind of feels a bit unwarranted and I am humbled by it.

I was called to write many years ago and had no idea where to start. After a few bodged attempts I have begun to find some flow and it has had a wonderful effect on my soul. I write to help spread the power of truth, faith and self-awareness, to inspire courage in those who find themselves struggling in this sometimes difficult life. I pray for everyone to reach their God given potential and fight off lies and fear at every turn.

Inner Angels and Enemies is purposed to help everyone become aware of the war inside and share stories of the abundant power of God’s love that is at our fingertips, if we can only realise and reach for it.

In accepting this award, it is my pleasure to complete the following:

  1. Link back to the blogger who nominated you.
  2. Post the blog award image on your page.
  3. Tell 7 facts about yourself.
  4. Nominate 15 other blogs and let the nominees know they have been chosen

Seven facts about me:

  1. I only work part-time, being invested at home with my girls is my priority.
  2. I have a younger Brother and an older Sister (Yep, Middle child syndrome!)
  3. When I sing really loud it makes me so happy inside! It calms my chaos!
  4. I have recently discovered the joy of creative cooking.
  5. I have many favourite TV shows: Parenthood and Boston Legal come to mind.
  6. I have 3 gorgeous puppy dogs. (One is at work with me today)
  7. I was born in the U.K. but have lived in Australia for almost 30 years.

The wonderfully inspiring blogs I wish to nominate for this award are:

  1. Weak and Loved
  2. A Prophetic Walk
  3. The Alabaster Jar
  4. Sober Boots
  5. Eternity in an hour
  6. Goss Coaching
  7. It’s a God Thing
  8. Close Families
  9. The Love Culture
  10. Along the Banks
  11. Life Revelation
  12. Life’s Trails
  13. Reality of Christ
  14. Deb’s Journal
  15. Riverbend Behavioral Health

I was very hard to narrow down to only 15 bloggers, and I would love to hear from you to let me know you received your nomination. I am thrilled to be part of such an amazing group of people whom I have had the pleasure of interacting with in the blogosphere. I can see a vision of us all sitting around in the New World sharing Words, Love, Faith and Songs of Praise!

Wishing you all Abundant Blessings…In His Name….

22/07/2012

Why So Fragile?**

Posted in Encouragement, General, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 2:06 pm by The Water Bearer

A few years ago I read this statement by Author Lysa Terkerst and have tried to refer to it ever since.

“Don’t let the compliments of others go to your head, or their criticisms to your heart”

I failed to adhere to this advise recently, and it has become the foundation of a new level of perspective.

Having had a very successful couple of months of blogging, I have become somewhat ‘hyper-enthusiastic’, it has been so wonderful to see people all over the world reading my stuff, then even ‘liking’ some and giving such wonderful compliments. Yet I have fallen into a trap set for me by my inner enemies, I confess that I have come to rely on my ‘blog stats’ to verify the success of my calling. I can hear all the horrified ‘GASPS’ of shock. (*Wink) I imagine this is pretty common.

Unfortunately it is not as trivial as it may seem, nothing ever is with me!

This is dangerous territory, treading way too close to pride than I like to get. By no means can I take any credit for any of this success, I completely acknowledge all glory goes to the Lord for any ability He has given me to write. Besides people always like His stuff much better than anything I try to come up with on my own 🙂 I suppose it is simply that I have become overly animated by the evidence that He can use me.

A big element of my personality is an addiction to WORDS. As I’ve mentioned before, I have a very busy mind, often have many thoughts, words and ideas buzzing around inside my head and I am drawn into sharing these with others. Sometimes expressing them and seeing them more clearly brings tremendous benefit to my chaotic state of mind, other times I become manic and fear that my testimony may be damaged as I ramble on in a state lacking control.

I am also compulsive by nature and harbor much nervous energy. I used to smoke irregularly when my busy mind found an empty moment to kill, when I quit smoking I took up Facebooking, filling the spaces by automatically checking for notifications using the app on my phone. On a bad or slow day this simple act can get out of hand, so I knew I needed to once again take action. When I quit Facebook, I took up blogging. You see a pattern here? I am now constantly tempted to check to see – Who has viewed? Where were they? Did they ‘Like’ it?  “Does someone want to share ‘words’ with me?” All stemming from these long standing traits.

A month into blogging, this pattern began emerging (again) so as usual I went on a 3 day Fast. I didn’t go onto my blog site at all, didn’t check my ‘stats’, was determined not to read any comments or reply for 3 whole days! (Luckily God didn’t allow me to be tempted by comments during those three days, as my blog received none, He knows! Lol)

I have come to find that fasting something for 3 days, is extremely beneficial to our development of faith and victory in overcoming the habitual temptations of life. In times when either breaking a habit, or preventing one from forming, or simply going without something we enjoy for God, is a symbol of recognition that we need Him in our situation more. This is because 3 days is fairly achievable, and therefore we are less likely to break our promise and become self-condemning. 3 days is also long and difficult enough to need help to reach the promised goal. Every time the tempting thought pops up during this time, we can  acknowledge the promise we made, and ask God for Help, this breaks up the automatic train of thought. It invites Him into the situation and an army of angels are dispatched to our aid.

So even though I have fasted blogging a couple of times, I must admit that due to all the new experiences it has brought me, my state of mind has become even more excitable than usual and I have allowed the compliments of others to somewhat go to my head (or perhaps rather my hands).

Compulsive nature can be easy fodder for our inner enemy to form habits, dangerous ones that try to to push us off the narrow path. It brings a whole other side to the coined phrase “Idle Hands are the Devil’s plaything”.

Next came phase two, when I received a couple of blunt criticisms which I let go straight to my heart, deeply. I reacted badly, defended, felt guilty, then that old familiar fear began to rise up from the depths of my soul, pressing hard on my heart, it began to choke me, forming a lump in my throat, and by the time this fear got to my head I was lost and consumed by it.

The main focus of these criticisms:- my unruly mouth. A negative response to the easy and common temptation to think too much and share every thought in my head, especially during a bout of psychological ‘mania’. I am aware of this, I have been all my life, it has brought me great shame, I have prayed and confessed about this more than anything else. While I have seen much improvement during the years God has been changing and developing me, this is the one area of weakness that I experience the most regular and regrettable backward slips. Old habits do die hard!

Often the desire to force being different from the reality of who I am causes severe bouts of depression.

When I get attacked with a bout of depression like this a few things commonly happen. I doubt and condemn myself and confess it all to God, I believe the words of people I care about and respect so much that I ask God to help me become what they think I should be. At the same time I try to remind myself that this is how God made me, I need to love and accept myself, and that I need to work with Him to bring about any changes He is guiding me to make. It can become quite a confusing mixture of thoughts as I try to determine which ones I should listen to.

This inner to and fro can lead to thoughts of insanity which creep to the threshold of my mind, leaving me unable to trust a thought in my own head. Battling these types of psychological conditions causes mental fatigue, I refer to this as an emotional hangover’ , a few wasted days spent heavy and extremely sensitive. After this it is common to want to make up for lost time and I can become manic and go into overdrive to catch up and get ‘on top’ of things, only to fall short of my own expectations.

It is common to want to reach out to someone, needing them to help clear away some of the self-condemnation, however often human misunderstanding of spiritual or psychological systems can lead to badly timed good intentions which can clumsily handle a fragile heart. Now while I personally have found much support through professional therapists, they can not cover all the bases these situations require. Only God and His word know how to properly handle this type of vulnerability, so we need to reach out for Him in prayer.

These attacks soften the heart, making it fragile as it prepares to receive the new level of perspective and to break off old unwanted strongholds. Forcing a new level of complete submission to God, depending on Him for every thought and every action, begging Him to take the wheel and drive.

As usual I prayed for clarity and for sanity, I prayed for Him to keep a tight reign on my lips, I prayed for freedom and self-acceptance, I cried bitter tears of remorse, I asked for forgiveness, and I begged Him to meet me in my pit and rescue me.

“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: A broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise”. Psalms 51:17 (ASV)

Within a few minutes of intense prayer at the time my heart was at it’s most fragile, I was sent comfort. First I received a pleasant surprise to distract me from my thoughts, a little later an unexpected, warm, lingering embrace and a confession of Love. The next day a special family evening, spent sharing ‘words’ with those I love and cherish most on this earth. Then a days break, a day alone to listen to soothing music and allow me to begin to collect my thoughts. Hallelujah!

Since all this has really taken it out of me I have taken some much needed R&R, which you may have read about in my recent post A Fragile Heart.

When we obey and make steps to fulfill our calling we open ourselves up to the inner enemies attacks to try and put us off track. This may come in obvious ways  through physical circumstances such as a verbal attack from someone unexpected, perhaps burning your hand or cutting a finger while cooking dinner, or disturbed sleep from petty annoyances, perhaps just an unruly household with everyone in a ‘mood’, rubbing each other in the worst ways. Sometimes the enemies attacks can come through more subtle ways, through temptation, or creating a fearful mindset, through psychological weakness, or a moment of confusion at the expense of your faith. These are his scare tactics, hoping we will not follow through in obedience, and you can be sure that if we do continue on the obedient path we will see some of these attacks result afterwards as well. This is the enemies backlash in retaliation to any ground we may have made toward God.

Yet this is the war we are in, and when we are obeying the Almighty and keeping our hearts open to Him, He gives us comfort through faith by knowing He will be victorious. We are on the winning side even if the evidence all around may appear bleak. Depend on His strength when you are weak, find comfort in knowing you are Loved no matter what lies the enemy or the world tells you. And be prepared to suffer and to grow, and to rest and to fight again and to succeed, then suffer and grow, then rest and then fight and then succeed ……..and so on and so on….. Until this war and life as we know it ends, and we are finally free from this battle, changed by Him forever. When the enemy loses all influence and Righteousness Reigns into ETERNITY!

15/07/2012

A Fragile Heart*

Posted in Encouragement, General, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 2:22 pm by The Water Bearer

I haven’t been in the blogosphere much this week, because I am being dealt with, being brought a new level of perspective and change. I recognise that this type of growth usually springs forth from a fragile heart. My heart has been extremely fragile this week…..

In this condition I write and write, pouring my soul out in front of me. I have written 6 or 7 posts this week alone. Yet my state of mind and vulnerable heart are preventing me from seeing my words clearly and I am unable to trust myself or my writing. I am too close to it at the moment, so it’s impossible to edit or publish anything. I guess as usual I have too much to say.

I am going to try to use this time to withdraw, to calm my mind and spirit with relaxation, drink plenty of herbal tea and meditate on God’s word. Perhaps this break will even help me work on the novel which I have been trying to write for over a decade. I will come back to the wonderful blogosphere soon, I will read your fabulous posts and comment when I can get my head around it. I will publish only in God’s timing and His certainty. Until then I ask for your prayers, prayers for me to gain some clarity and some calm inspiration. I am fighting off my inner enemies as best I can, I need time to concentrate on my faith, put on God’s armor and call on my inner angels. I have faith that something amazing is going to emerge from the midst of these trials…..Until then…..

“Jehovah preserveth the simple: I was brought low, and he saved me. Return unto thy rest, O my soul; For Jehovah hath dealt bountifully with thee. For thou hast delivered my soul from death, Mine eyes from tears, And my feet from falling. I will walk before Jehovah In the land of the living.”

Psalms 116:6-9 (ASV)

06/07/2012

I’m Changing My Mind Because I Can*

Posted in Family, General, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 7:12 pm by The Water Bearer

One thing I despise about being a woman is when I have let my emotions take my mouth too far. You know, when you have crossed that line from reason, to some form of alien invasion, frightening your loved one half to death by who you have become, for reasons he cannot fathom for the life of him. It feels like while I’m running off at the mouth I get this ‘slow-motion’ realisation in the back of my mind that I am going to regret this pretty soon, but because it comes in slow motion, it sometimes hits me too late. Both my mouth  and my thought are headed to finish around the same time, only my mouth always manages to cross the line first! How frustrating!

Then I have two choices, I can sit on what I have said, letting the emotions hover around in my head, continuing to reason back and forth, in an unreasonable way, waiting for him to apologise for whatever he did or didn’t do that set me off. I could stay in my anger, justifying it to myself and causing tension to hang in the air, which might stubbornly last for days! Deep down I’d be hoping the poor man on the receiving end of my tirade, can see through my raging words into the hurt or fear (or PMS) that is causing them, and try to hear enough of my words to know that I really just need a cuddle and to be told everything will be alright (which, after a slaughtering, can be pretty hard for a guy to get to).

Or I can back-pedal as soon as I hear that thought creep up to meet my mouth. Repenting immediately, asking God to change my mood, then I can swallow my pride and apologise. I can become ‘happy’ in that moment after my remorse has rectified the mood. I have to remember that we women have the fabulous gift of being able to change our minds and I must decide to.

The conversation inside my head would be interesting to watch if it were an animated cartoon, a little inner angel and a little inner enemy going toe-to-toe, battling for the win. Regrettably, in my youth I know which one was usually more victorious. Thankfully finding humility and submission to God has empowered my little inner angel and it is not so little anymore. I love how, more often than not, God can simply help me change my mind and my mood. I just have to be willing to let Him.

This works in so many areas, if I don’t feel like cooking dinner, I can think of something special that will make my family smile and it changes my attitude about cooking for them. I can have my heart set on a night out and when plans change I could either pace the house in a bad mood searching for something to make up for it, or simply find comfort in a quiet night at home with my loved ones. I may not feel like meeting the advances from my man, yet if I try to change my mind, even for a second, I find the reasons against have disappeared.

I was talking with my Sister recently about how women seem to have the role of making changes in their relationships. Sometimes it seems unfair to hear about women who want their men to work on the relationship more, to attend counseling, or couple groups, or mostly simply just to talk about the relationship more. Some men rarely feel the urge to change anything, they find a way to be at peace with the situation, or if it gets beyond a joke they may eventually give up entirely.

Mostly I am grateful that good men are very tolerant of our ‘alien’ mood swings, I notice they rarely hold grudges, even if it may appear so, as they often stay quiet to ride out the storm. We need to show them that it is safe to interact with us again, by softening our mood, letting go of our anger and repenting for any possible harm our words may have caused them.

God in His wisdom designed us women the luxury of being able to change our minds easily, sometimes it can take a while, but sometimes it can be instantaneous. That is why it falls on us to make most of the changes in our relationships, have a happier spirit, and be more patient, attentive, supportive, aiming to meet the needs of our men, as God designed us to.

Eve was created to be Adam’s helper, she was meant to nurture, support, encourage and assist him, not take over, ear-bash and belittle him. We need to remember this when deciding which changes could be made to our relationships, or perhaps quite simply, our mind.

02/07/2012

The Two Voices of Guilt**

Posted in Encouragement, Finding Faith, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 8:54 pm by The Water Bearer

When I posted ‘When will we feel good enough?’ recently, I received a comment which sparked an outpouring of my spirit. One of my readers mentioned the guilty feelings of self-condemnation which still linger in her mind even after many years of learning to “lay off” and stop criticising and punishing herself for not being perfect. As I attempted to reply underneath I found the keyboard took on a life of its own and after a few minutes I had written this blog post (I thought it a bit too important to hide in the comment box and not share openly with you all). It has more ‘Theological talk’ than I usually like to put into my blog, as my aim is also to reach those outside the church. I am sorry if this is too ‘heavy’ for anyone and I am happy to try to answer any questions about the things I’ve explained here.

Dear Reader,

I understand how this feels, it took a car accident and nervous breakdown for me to address viewing myself through the judgmental eyes of others, or even the condemning eyes I had been viewing myself with for so long. It is a hard habit to break indeed, a lot of therapy and a long faith walk, yet it still hovers in the back of my mind. That is up until I address it, I now know that I need to go back and read my prayer journal and remember all the things I have learned about myself, about God, about my inner enemies and my army of inner angels.

I have come to find there are two ‘voices of guilt’.

One is the Holy Spirit convicting our hearts when we are in fact guilty of something which is causing a blockage between us and God. I have found usually pride is the one hardest to see for ourselves, and its easy to also avoid recognising more obvious ones, such as sinful anger, lying, idolatry, bitterness, and self-indulgence just to name a few. When we are guilty of anything, the Holy Spirit is sent to help us feel it accordingly. Through repentance of sin, explained in my previously mentioned post, we can be absolved of these sins and set free by God’s love, mercy and grace, to feel ‘Good Enough’.

When the Spirit of God is being nurtured inside us, we desire to be perfect. This is because the Spirit of God is perfect but is housed within our imperfect human hearts. The spirit is desiring to be perfect rather than actually feeling it’s pure perfection, due to being covered by our flesh (sin). Flesh became the access point of our inner enemies when Adam and Eve ate the ‘fruit’. This is why the saying “The flesh is weak” is so common.

So therefore the other ‘voice of guilt’, is the false guilt of our inner enemy, whose purpose is to gain access to us and deter our hearts from being open to God’s all powerful, healing Love.

Our inner enemy does not want us to feel God’s Love because it will weaken both the enemy within, and strengthen our flesh, time and time again. The enemy can’t allow that to happen without a fight because he will increasingly lose access to us, so we are fed lies of guilt and thoughts of not being ‘perfect enough’ in an attempt to dilute our faith and trust in God’s love.

So while I still hear the voice of guilt as many others do, I understand that I must discern which voice is talking to my heart and take the appropriate action. If it is the enemy trying to falsely condemn me then I need to use my inner angels to fight him off, and focus hard on God’s love for me. I recommend we all try this method when dealing with false guilt.

Prayers & Blessing to you.

This post is another one super hard for me to publish, while I have been brought into an understanding of these things, I have spent many years avoiding sharing these insights with anyone, except for some family members and 1 or 2 faithful friends. This is because it is usually too heavy and complex for those outside the church, and I come across too young and secular when discussing within the church. I often feel I have no audience for this type of talk and therefore just try to keep it to myself. I pray my reader  is helped a little by it.

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