A special and long time friend of mine put this statement on her facebook page recently “I asked God to protect me from my enemies and I started losing friends”, it really struck a chord with me. I am sure many others can testify to the same.
When I first began breaking my habits as a ‘people pleaser’, and tried to stop doubting myself into compliance when others criticise or don’t accept me, I noticed distance began to form between me and some members of my family and friends.
It can be hard to remain close when someone makes such drastic changes to their lives and selves. The relationship may no longer hold the comforts it once did and those who can not adjust to the changes may drift away.
At first this may appear to be a bad thing, it can feel like rejection. However the freedom that comes from that distance gives much room for personal growth. This growth may not have occurred with the constant influences of those people in our lives. It also makes room for others who encourage the changes, to move closer. Those friendships we hold onto tightly, keeping them in our lives, may be the very reason we are not at peace with ourselves, or even why we haven’t made enough steps towards our personal goals. Instead of being the ally we depend upon, they may actually be enemies to our fulfillment of self.
The quality of friendships is much more important than the quantity, and true friendships are a vital piece to our sense of happiness.
The philosopher Epicurus held the following stance:
“We don’t exist unless there is someone who can see us existing, what we say has no meaning until someone can understand, while to be surrounded by friends is constantly to have our identity confirmed; their knowledge and care for us have the power to pull us from our numbness. In small comments, many of them teasing, they reveal they know our foibles and accept them and so, in turn, accept that we have a place in the world. We can ask them “Isn’t he frightening?’ or ‘Do you ever feel that…?’ and be understood, rather than encounter the puzzled ‘No, not particularly’ – which can make us feel, even when in company, as lonely as polar explorers.” (Quote from the book I am currently reading ‘The Consolations of Philosophy’ by Alain De Botton)
In the same book I read the following statement, which helped me clear out the belief that I must give authority to the opinions of those who oppose me, as they must be able to see it clearer than I or they wouldn’t be so quick to criticise. How wrong I was…
“Errors in our thoughts and way of life can, at no point and in no way, ever be proven simply by the fact that we have run into opposition. It is in the soundness of their method of thinking that should determine the weight we give to their disapproval.” – Socrates (The Consolations of Philosophy’ by Alain De Botton)
Until I began to question the sound logic of those opinions held by my criticisers, I tried hard to gain their understanding, acceptance and approval. Yet at the same time I kept developing my internal understanding, which began to outgrow them. This diatribe of mixed messages caused so much confusion that I believed at times I was losing my mind!
Learn from my mistakes, and challenge opposition and criticism, by thinking in a methodical way, so as to gain understanding and awareness of oneself and truth, while maintaining your own personal growth regardless of who’s understanding or approval you may outgrow.
The next and final chapter of Discipline + Trust = Love series. A glimpse into finding appreciation in relationships.
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In my post Discipline + Trust = Love I promised I would follow on with the story of my adult tantrums and how a changed perspective helped me enjoy many benefits in my relationships.
In my early relationships I was a manipulative, critical, conceited, control freak; unable to identify love at all. I allowed my emotions to control my actions, and used them as excuses to blackmail the people I thought I loved.
I had grown up believing with all my heart that I knew love because I felt it so intensely.
After I learned a bit of Godly self-awareness, I came to realise that what I felt so intensely wasn’t love at all; it was desire, obsession, jealousy, fear, and a lack of self-worth. I had held onto the belief that I deserved ‘the best‘ and should never settle for anything less, which gave…
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The follow up to my previous post. Sometimes the earlier stuff needs revisiting. 🙂
In my previous blog Discipline + Trust = Love I took you through the story of my emotionally manipulative behaviour and how perhaps a lack of discipline and trust contributed to it. I hope it helps others recognise similar behaviour in themselves, and to learn how to access powerful angels to combat this all too common inner enemy. Please read the previous one first, as it sets the foundation for this post.
If you would like to hear more about the emotional trials I faced in my relationships and the success that came from my new perspective have a read of Less Tantrums, More Love. I’d like to keep the focus here to explain more about what God has been trying to help me understand, about how disciplining our children with love helps to build trust and a healthy perspective of how to feel love and be grateful of Godly discipline.
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While I’m taking some time to work on my novel I thought I would share some of my early posts with my new readers. Hope you enjoy them.
“Come Back!” I yelled through the tears streaming down my face as I ran up the street after him. My heart was twisted in turmoil, my head full of confusion and raging emotion. I was a child in an adult’s body and he was my boyfriend. We hadn’t been going out very long, a few months maybe, but once I had allowed him into my life physically and emotionally I began clinging on for dear life, pinning all my feelings on him. If he told me he ‘loved me and couldn’t live without me’, I was over the moon, if he told me to ‘get lost and leave him alone’, I was on the floor in a heap, devastated by his rejection.
This time he was going out with his friends for the night, but I had spent the day looking forward to spending the night with him. I had…
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As I drove to work yesterday I was listening to breakfast radio, and the female announcer brought up a complaint made by a wife who she had been in discussion with.
The wife was a stay at home mum and her husband worked 10 hours a day to provide for them. Her complaint was that he should help out more at home and not gripe when she gives him jobs. She was adamant that her husband should do more, such as cleaning the shower and toilet, help with cooking and take some responsibility for bathing, dressing and attending to the children etc when he was home.
The male announcer explained the husbands response, which was basically “I have just worked 10 hours and walk in the front door to hear these words or similar come from her mouth. “”Good you’re home, now you can help me with these kids. Can you run them a bath and take the baby for a while?”” I just walked in the door from a long hard day, I want to sit down for 5 minutes and relax with a beer. I don’t think that is too much to ask!”
The female announcer replied “She is obviously unhappy, if he can do more to help her be happier in their relationship, shouldn’t he just do it!”
I saw red! This is one of the most infuriating stances that many women let their inner enemies convince them to take. They may as well be saying “I am going to keep complaining about how unhappy I am until I make the whole house unhappy, so you will have no choice but to bow to my every request’.
Now let me clarify, this wife didn’t work, and her children were in childcare 3 days per week, and she claimed that she never stops, that she never gets a break. Even if they were at home all day every day, pouncing on her husband the second he walks in the door is selfish, ungrateful and unloving. I know because I used to be like this. I was all these things and worse.
One thing I learned some years ago is that miserable complaining only breeds more misery. I know plenty of husbands who have done their best to meet every ridiculous, demanding request of their wives, only to discover they could never reach the light at the end of the list, nor help her find peace and happiness.
“It is better to live in a corner of a roof, than in a house shared with a contentious woman.” Prov 21:9 (ASV)
These relationships fell apart leaving a trail of bitter destruction, and setting the worst kind of example for their children’s future relationships.
I grew up in a home with a single Mum who had to work 45-50 hour weeks to provide for us. She had the responsibility of raising three children, with no family close enough to help her. My younger sibling was only 18months old when Mum became single. Through sheer will and determination she did it all. I watched her struggle to cope, I heard constantly how stressful her life was. As a child I can remember the countless times she would pour tears over her finances, often sharing that burden with us children. She missed out on doing the school run and hearing about our day or our thoughts as we drove to and fro. She was unable to keep watch over us after school to make sure we stayed on track. She had no time to learn new recipes or practice creativity in the kitchen, she just fed us. She had no opportunity to load some of the weight onto someone else just because she was tired. She had no one to share some of the burden at the end of a long day. She just did it, all, on her own.
As a wife and mother I am so very, extremely grateful that I have a man who is willing to work long days to provide for us. I do my utmost to put aside my days complaints and greet him after work with a cold beer, a warm smile and a kiss. As a result he is more likely to: a) Come home! b) Help me, and c) Rush to my aid like the knight in shining armour I always dreamed of.
If we give compliments and praise in recognition of all the things, small or large, that they do for us, they will be more willing to help out when we are unwell or warn thin from a tough day, or if we come across a challenge we need their help with. We need to build them up, not tear them down! We need to recognise that our contentious attitude is causing more problems, and make attempts to change it. We need to call on our inner angels to help us see all the things we are grateful for, and refuse to let disappointment from unmet expectations breed bitterness and misery.
On a final note, (this is an area that I am currently trying to make more changes to myself), we take so much responsibility away from our men due to our controlling, often insecure natures. Even if they do try to help, often we are there pointing out how they ‘should’ be doing it, or criticising them afterward because it wasn’t done the way we do it. When we ask their opinion regarding a decision, we reply with our reasons to disagree. We say we want them to take some of our load, but when they try we yank it back out of their hands.
I wonder how many women would tolerate being told that everything we try to do is not done properly, or if every decision we made was overturned and debated?
Trusting our husbands to be capable, and giving their decisions a chance to succeed before we catastrophise them into oblivion, will help boost their self worth, and their sense of masculinity. That way they will have the opportunity to dazzle us with their skills and leadership, and we in turn can relax in grateful appreciation of how lucky we are to have them.
Some years ago a series of events led me to understand that God was calling me. It took me a long time to swallow chunks of the pride I had relied upon since childhood, and answer Him, but when I did ….OH BOY!
My eyes were opened to the huge pile of sins I had been building up to the heavens, and all the time up to that point I had thought of myself as a “Good person”, better than ‘most’ anyway.
I believed in God and had no other God’s (not understanding that I let everything in my life control me rather than Him, He was always the ‘Last Resort’). I had no graven images (besides a few healing crystals, some tarot cards, plenty of pagan witchcraft symbols and ornaments, but I didn’t really believe in them, did I?) I honoured my Mother (as long as I was getting what I wanted) – (My Dad was out of the picture mostly up to that point, so I didn’t need to honour him, did I?) I certainly didn’t kill anyone (although I let my anger get so out of control that I spoke it out without a second thought). I didn’t covert anything (of course I was envious of everything anyone had that I wanted, but I let no one know about it, so that’s not the same thing is it? It’s normal to want to be happy and fulfilled, right?) I didn’t steal (much) or fall into adultery (well not the whole way) I remembered the Sabbath (Yep I remembered that my Mum left my Dad on a Sabbath, and that was it. If I happened to be resting on a Sunday it was because I was too hung-over to move!) I didn’t take the Lords name in vain (If you mean saying it in anger, then maybe a little, but only when I was really angry, which I suppose was a LOT) And I would never lie (unless it was for a good reason, which I could usually come up with every other day)
So there are all Ten Commandments broken! Shattered! And that is only the beginning!
I thought I was a loving person to my fellow man, but I realised I manipulated others with kindness into making me ‘happy’. I gave gifts and cooked meals, but was it really from a good place of generosity, or because it was expected and I wanted to appear good? I did like giving gifts and being kind and working hard, but I was not honestly in-touch with my heart enough to know what my true motives were. I believed the first reason or excuse I could come up with, without questioning the possibility of it being from a place of flesh, not from a Christ-like heart.
I can go on and on to list more and more of my sins. I could speak of my selfishness or my bad temper, of my weakness in temptation, or my provocative nature. I could speak of my materialistic tendencies, or my impatience and fear when I do not trust God. I could tell you of the countless times I listen to the lies of the enemy and let them convince me to act in all manner of sinful bitterness and hatred toward others. God knows them all and I continue to confess them every day, as they rear their ugly heads. No matter how many ‘good deeds’ I do, I will never pay the price and take away my blame. I can never do anything worthy of taking away the amount of shame I deserve to feel for my heart of flesh and worldliness.
Thankfully, through one Son’s sacrifice, breaking all these laws is not my one-way ticket to an eternity of torture and pain. God realises that we are incapable of upholding all these laws, they are there to show us our sin. That we may look at them and measure ourselves against them and become aware of how far from God’s will we actually are.
“Why then was the Law given? It was imposed later on for the sake of defining sin” Gal 3:19 (WEY)
“Know that it is NOT through obedience to Law that a man can be declared free from guilt, but only through FAITH in Jesus Christ. We have therefore believed in Christ Jesus, for the purpose of being declared FREE from guilt, through FAITH in Christ and NOT through obedience to Law. For through obedience to Law NO human being shall be declared free from guilt.” Gal 2:16 (WEY)
It is an understatement to say how lucky we are that the price has been paid for all the sins we have committed, and the ones we continue in as long as we are in the flesh of our human bodies. It is an understatement to say how truly blessed we are that God chose to give us grace and forgiveness through His Son, and free us from the laws, and from the penalty of death for our sins. For none of us, not one of us, are blameless.
If we look at another and say to ourselves “Their sins are worse than mine” then we are missing the point entirely!
We haven’t been forgiven because we aren’t ‘that bad’, we are the pits! We all are, because we are all separated from God while here on earth, because we all have flesh that our inner enemy can use against us!
We are forgiven because the Messiah suffered and shed His innocent blood to pay the price, to stand before God and say “They can come in. They are saved because I have paid the debt against them.”
Thank you, Thank you Lord! To You be the Glory Forever!!
I received this award some time ago, yet as time is my enemy I have only just been able to get around to accepting it. Big, huge, gigantic thanks to George at Personal Growth for the kind gesture of nominating Inner Angels & Enemies for ‘The Reader Appreciation Award’. I am truly grateful to be included in this group. Please check out George’s blog as it really deserves it’s nomination for this award. George has many wonderfully insightful posts that are a true pleasure to read.
Now the rules for accepting this award are as follows:
- Add a picture of the award to your blog.
- Thank the blogger who nominated you and include a link to their blog.
- Nominate 5-10 other Bloggers and inform those selected that they have been nominated
There are so many wonderful blogs out there, and I thoroughly enjoy reading them (Unfortunately I often have a hard time keeping up with you all! You are such a creative, and productive bunch!)
Anyway I will pass this award onto the following blogs, I hope you check them out and see why they deserve this nomination:
- Lessons of Mercy
- Tough Minded Optimism
- Dreams of Dunamis
- Talk to Diana
- Let Life in Practices
- Practical Practice Management
- Lilies, sparrows and Grass
- Mindful Diary
I really wanted to nominate all the blogs I have previously nominated but I couldn’t fit you all in. You have all become so important to me, for your loyalty and companionship, your constant support and encouragement. You all know who you are and if I had an award for ‘Most loyal blogging family members’ I would be handing it out to you all!
Thank you for helping me gain some feedback for my writing, you are a great comfort to me and have encouraged me to keep going on the often uncertain road of a writer.
This is so spot on, I just had so share it with you. Somethings to consider before we share our problems with others…
Please check it out! 🙂 Blessings to you!
When you complain, you implicitly give your audience the permission to be involved in your personal affairs. That may not be your actual intention, but it’s a very likely outcome of publicly sharing intimate details about your private life.
When you reveal your problems, concerns, and vulnerabilities to people, they will likely feel comfortable or justified in checking up on you and offering their opinions about the issues you discussed. This can be a very good thing if that’s what you need. It can be a real nuisance if you never intended for those people to play the role of adviser in your life.
Talking out loud to anyone who will listen during a time of distress is a very easy thing to do, but it’s extremely costly when you don’t choose your audience discreetly.
With the platform granted to us by social media, it is easier than ever for people to…
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In a recent post I spoke on standing in faith in times of challenge, as you may have guessed I have also given my testimony to many, many people whom God has brought across my life. I have let my experiences with Him pour out into others as often as opportunity becomes available.
Some have been extremely grateful to hear my tales of interactions with God, and then there have been times when these words were thrown back in my face. I have been mocked for my trust in them. There have been times when I thought to myself, ‘I won’t share anymore, I am wasting my breath and time.’ (Although God has not stopped filling my life and so I am still talking Him up, only with less casting of ‘pearls before swine’)
My eldest daughter has expressed a similar response, as she often feels isolated and regretful for sharing her faith with friends who have trouble taking her insights on board. She would also rather keep it all to herself.
When we were discussing this recently I told her the story of the lady who found me on Facebook a couple of years ago. It had been over 20years since I had seen or spoken to her. She told me that she had given her life to Christ a few years earlier and that she thought of me on that special day, of my words of faith and my character. I was touched deeply and humbled that even as a child, in my young stages of faith, God used me to connect with the spiritual standing of another. It may have taken 20 years to hear proof, but the point was clear. I explained to my daughter that we are here to plant a seed, other times we may be called to water the seed already planted, sometimes we may need to help some dig out a bad seed planted by the enemy which is deterring them from faith.
It may take 20 years before someone finally makes use out of the words faithfully poured into them, and just because we don’t always see the flower bloom in their life, just because they don’t react in the way we always hope for, doesn’t mean we had no effect. Powerful words will leave a stain on hearts and minds.
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue; And they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” Prov 18:21 (ASV)
I wonder how many of us consider if our words may have left a stain on the lives of those we have spoken to?
The truth about stains is they cannot be erased, they linger around whether you want them to or not, whether you asked for them or not, either way they stay. Some are reminders of good times. The memory of a party with laughter and good company is reflected in the hint of red wine staring up from a floor rug. A child’s shirt or pants splattered in brightly coloured paint as evidence of a day spent being creative and expressive. The soft colour and ruffled edges of a baby’s blanket stained yellow with time after being packed away for many years, gone in a blink.
Then there are the stains we wish we could not recall. A ring on a piece of furniture from a disrespectful guest, or blood from a painful wound. And don’t we all suffer from frustration at the ones which magically appear on a favoured piece of clothing without any recollection of how it came to be….
I read this post Are you an Elephant? by a fellow blogger, and his point got me started on this idea of the lingering effect of our words. He was asking if we let the words we heard in our childhood become so ingrained in our self-belief that they may be holding us back. We easily allocate onus to those who have left word stains on us, but isn’t it time to ask ourselves, what kind of words are we staining others with?
I shudder to think of all the hurtful things I have said to people over the years, when emotional tirades have flown so easily from my lips to their ears. Even after countless apologies and repentance for the words I regret, grace may be given but I doubt the stain is easily erased. I’m sure we have all forgiven many harsh words said in the heat of the moment, but the ones that cut deep, the ones laced with false accusations, or that weren’t apologised for, have stained me. I am still guarded because of them. Perhaps you are too…
“Hide me from the secret plots of the wicked, from the rebellion of the workers of iniquity, Who sharpen their tongue like a sword, And bend their bows to shoot their arrows–bitter words.” Psalms 64:2-3 (NKJV)
Let us pray for a bridle to control our tongue before we open our mouths to speak in criticism, let us speak boldly when sharing words of faith, and lets consider the stains we are leaving in the lives of others.
“There are some whose uncontrolled talk is like the wounds of a sword, but the tongue of the wise makes one well again.” Prov 12:18 (BBE)
I started this blog for a number of reasons. I have a strong desire to share with others how to recognise and overcome our inner enemies. I hoped my experiences would prevent others from being captives of lies and destruction in their lives. Yet recently the Lord allowed me to come face-to-face with a new level of my own inner war.
I had known for a few weeks that a trial was coming in the form of a get-together. I knew that my forgiveness and trust would be challenged. I won’t lie and tell you I wasn’t anxious. I wasn’t afraid of who may come at me, I was concerned about how I may react if my boundaries were challenged and the situation turned ugly. I still don’t trust myself or my reactions when faced with inner enemies from my past. I know I need to keep my boundaries strong when they are shot at and stomped upon, but strong boundaries are a relatively new practice for me and I have yet to test them properly against the ‘big guns’ in my life, not enough to feel secure in them anyway.
I decided to go on a 3 day fast, and to pray for God to hold me in His safe grip. I reminded myself that all is in God’s hands and to be prepared, rather than taken unaware, if the situation turned down an ugly path.
The shock factor is what sends me into an uncontrollable spiral, so I try to avoid being shocked if at all possible.
I sensed the spiritual pressure building a day or two before the test, my reactions were aggressive and volatile. I kept praying, and filling myself with the word of God, apologising to all around me for my prickly nature. The trial came and went without drama, but it was when I relaxed in the aftermath that my inner enemies saw fit to sink their claws into me and my old insecurities. This was an onslaught from left field and I was entirely shocked!
For the following 3days I was completely overwhelmed with spiritual attack, I believed the lies they were feeding me, and allowed them to control my reactions and emotions. No matter how much I prayed or read my Bible, I couldn’t lift my head out from the murkiness to see clearly. I truly believed every lying thought in my head. My attack opened the door, inviting itself into my home. Arguments and tears flooded the rooms, harsh words and discord became rampant. Love, joy, peace and truth were nowhere to be found!
On the fourth day the curse was broken and I saw….
My enemies had been telling me I was failing God, that I would never complete His request of me to write His novel. That my Husband didn’t really support my writing, or understand me, or love me for all my uniqueness, lies provoking thoughts that all my blessings were a moment from collapse. No matter how hard I tried to explain, hoping someone would convince me differently, I was left hanging over the abyss with only lies to keep me company.
In my usual analytical fashion I assessed myself trying figure out what had inspired this attack. Besides the fact that I am usually spiritually challenged around a full moon, and had the lingering residual pressure from the get-together. I was also facing strong emotions as I cleaned out old boxes, ones which had belonged to my Dad and had been sitting in my garage, since he passed.
As I sit here and reflect on it all, I feel so weak for allowing my old insecurities to rise up and cause dysfunction in my family. I’ve confessed, I’ve praised, I’ve sobbed for my Dad, wishing him to be here to pray for me, like he used to, when times like this arise and I am left exposed and vulnerable.
Yet I can’t help but understand that something huge happened in the spiritual realm as a result of all this. Plus of course my own massive realisations. New levels of self-awareness, humility and growth. Renewed faith and confidence in God’s strength to still pull me out of all the dark times, and all in His perfect timing and not mine.
I would love for all my posts to be filled with encouragement from my accomplished victories, rather than wallowing in despondent self-assessment. Yet I refuse to hide from the truth of my weakness, and will give glory for the only strength that gets me through. His!