15/04/2018

Are You Getting in the Way of Your Own Serenity?

Posted in Encouragement, Family, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 6:44 am by The Water Bearer

Why is it that some people are able to take their suffering and turn it into something positive and amazing, while others go backwards towards a more negative and unhappy life?

I think it all has something to do with the level of respect each of us has for our thoughts.

Respecting your thoughts might be a strange concept, especially in our current ‘mindless’ culture, simply because many of us are still not aware of just how powerful the thought life is. Just ask Dr Leaf.

Yet if we fail to respect our thoughts, we fail to see how they can steer our lives towards more good and fulfilment, or towards more dysfunction and disappointment. Just as we understand that we must have a foundation of respect before we can negotiate with a hostile person, we must use this principle in order to negotiate our hostile thoughts.

RESPECTING YOUR THOUGHTS

In the last post we talked about renewing the mind, and how the first step is to dig deeply into understanding the fear and selfishness beneath our survival instincts, and beneath our unhealthy thoughts, emotions and behaviours. It really isn’t a one off practice, more like a life-long journey in search of truth.

This journey takes a certain type of awareness, an awareness that overrides our naïve thinking that our subtle negative self-talk is trivial, and has little to no effect on the course of our personal lives, let alone the world.

On the contrary, the power of one small thought can create a whole actual physical mechanism in your brain! Each mechanism dictates your goals and influences how you respond to various aspects of life. Every word, every decision has a significant ripple effect on your own happiness and peace. Which in turn effects those in your family, your workplace, and the world!

The awareness of this has to have enough seriousness to not be taken lightly, and enough humility to cut through the ‘good only’ persona we try to present to the world, but end up believing ourselves. Its time to take inventory of our thoughts, to assess them and recognise how much damage we are actually capable of. Then we must take responsibility for that!

“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” ― C.G. Jung

GETTING OUT OF YOUR OWN WAY!

Perhaps its time to ask yourself, Am I unconsciously or subconsciously sabotaging my own serenity?

Because those who are willing to excavate their thoughts and alter them towards increased serenity, will have a far better outcome than those who choose ignorance, or stubborn naivety. 

Are you ready to choose determination instead of defeat, to choose betterment over bitterness, to choose self-worth over self-condemnation, to choose to be a victor rather than a victim? Are you ready to turn your struggles into the very platform from which to build your purpose? Because in order to find serenity you must discover your purpose, and all that fuel that once empowered your pain, can now become the passion to drive you in a completely opposite direction.

Only then can you get out of your own way and chose to aim for serenity with far more success!

DON’T BE FOOLED

As a final point, if you are one of those who is convinced that you have no evil motives within, or that they are all behind you, then think again. Even Christ spent time listening to the evil within. In the wilderness we hear of how He became aware of the evil thoughts that offered him satisfaction for a selfish hunger that fed only His own body. He struggled with His identity in submission to God the Father, had to fight against the desire to take his own life. And He had to hold fast to His purpose despite the urges within to gain an easier tyrannical position over the universe instead of a painfully humble one.

Christ knew that before He could fulfil His purpose He must first spend time with His Inner Enemies, and learn how to transform them into fuel to push forward with the most precious and most unbearable purpose. So that, even at the very end when He wanted desperately to give up, HE SUCCEEDED! YEEEEEW! And aren’t we extremely grateful He did!! AMEN!!!

 

 

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09/04/2018

Renewing the Mind

Posted in Encouragement, Family, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 8:59 am by The Water Bearer

In Romans 12:2 Paul tells us to “Be not conformed to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of the mind.”

So what exactly is the pattern of this world that lures you into conformity?

You don’t have to look far to find a number of behavioural patterns to avoid. Things like violence, manipulation, bitterness, abuse, deception, control, addiction, greed, and unpleasant emotions like loneliness, nervousness, disappointment and depression.

Yet when we strip back all these superficial traits, get curious about their origins, and delve a little deeper into the caverns of the human heart, two very prominent patterns are revealed.

Fear & Selfishness

Foolishly we have convinced ourselves that if we were actually selfish and afraid, then we would be running around screaming in terror and telling people we don’t care what they think or what they want (probably with our hands on our hips!). But that’s merely evidence of fear and selfishness in it’s most immature state. All of us have seen children behave like this. Yet, despite our assumption, we don’t actually outgrow these traits as we age, we just learn to hide them better. We hide them beneath other “grown up” characteristics, like those mentioned above, and we convince ourselves that our ‘good deeds’ are proof that we aren’t selfish at heart.

Fear and selfishness in their most comprehensive form, are attributes of “SURVIVAL” – The instinct to protect ones self at all costs. This is the way the human brain was designed, to ensure the survival of our species. When we understand that the most prominent dangers of our current society are loneliness, criticism and rejection, it can be easy to see why we develop such drastic ways to control others, build and defend our reputation, and avoid scrutiny of any kind.

Here’s a little exercise to try for yourself. Think of a behavior that you would like to change within yourself. It could be anything. Name it. (e.g. Yelling)

Now ask yourself what situations tend to spark that trait in you. Get really specific. (e.g When blamed, misunderstood or ignored)

Then identify the most obvious emotion that those situations evoke within you and any physical sensations you may experience. (Anger and desperation/clenched jaw, flared nostrils and shallow breathing)

Once you spend a moment pondering the sensation and the emotion, lean into it rather than avoiding it. Now its time to ask the most important question. What am I afraid of here (worst case scenario) and is there a self orientated motive? (e.g Afraid of not being good enough, of being rejected and not being loved / demanding that I deserve to be loved!)

Sadly these patterns are all too common and can escalate to far more serious outcomes. Seeing as we have become a species that is comfort orientated, we avoid any discomfort like the plague. This includes emotional discomfort. When we experience the usual fight, flight or freeze response to normal unpleasant emotions we fail to learn what they are teaching us. So let’s not waste the opportunity to purge some of these unhealthy patterns.

Now that we have identified the patterns of this world, lets look at how to renew your mind.

Our brains may be designed with survival mode deeply ingrained, and neural patterns as the default for many of our behaviours, but thankfully they are also malleable, which means they can change!! YEEEEW!

Now I’m no neuroscientist, but even the most prominent in their field will agree that we know very little about how amazing our brains actually are. There are new discoveries all the time which drive this exciting conversation. That being said, there are some interesting breakthroughs within neuro-psychology that recognise mindfulness and meditation as accessing the brains malleability.

So this time, when doing the exercise above, try adding another element to it. Scripture Meditation.

Locate a suitable scripture or two, by either searching online or reading your Bible. Find one that re-frames the fear and survival urge and gives an alternate, Christ-like way of responding to the situation.

(E.g. Behold  what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 1 John 3:1 & Proverbs 29:11 A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.)

Using usual relaxation techniques like slow breathing, being present in the moment and focusing the mind on simple stimulants such as noise, taste, smell, feel etc, allow your thoughts to settle and become quiet. Once you feel calmer, begin the exercise above again. Picture the usual situation that triggers the default pattern you wish to address and recognise the physical and emotional responses. Then ponder your scripture for a few moments, if your mind wanders just guide it gently back to the scripture, over time, the more you do this, the more chance that you will remember this scripture in those trigger situations.

The pattern has been slowed down and re-framed so that you have a moment to choose a new response.

Isn’t that amazing!

It doesn’t demand anything you can’t afford to give, it just takes the urge to be transformed, diligence, and conviction to trust the promises of God.

For those who have trouble settling their mind more than they like, adding the element of conscious slow movement helps override the wound up patterns, and increases the chance to develop self-awareness. This is why Sanctuary Stretch Classes are so multi-layered with benefits.

The trick is to understand that you can’t change anything in yourself without self-awareness. You can’t alter something you can’t admit. You can’t overcome something you can’t recognise and name.

So, what are you waiting for?

Your renewed mind is waiting for you to step up and claim it! Yeeeeew!

 

 

 

01/04/2018

Media Madness & Tips to protect your children from it

Posted in Family, Musings, Self-Awareness, Teen Trials tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 6:18 pm by The Water Bearer

 

 

 

Warning: This post contains some explicit content.

I must admit straight out the gate that this is a topic I can get pretty passionate about. If you too find yourself throwing your hands in the air as a result of the current Media frenzy impacting our homes and our children, then this is the post for you!

CYBER-BULLYING, GET SERIOUS!

Today I saw yet another video of the horribly cruel things children have been exposed to over social media. Honestly, I say this with love and compassion that we know not what we do more than half the time. But some of the children bullied in this video were as young as 10 years old and all of them were under 16.

 

Please understand that I trust my teenage daughter as much as a trustworthy adolescent can be trusted, but I recognise she is not merely a small adult. She has not yet had chance to develop the maturity and sense of self-confidence required to withstand the impact such horrible comments can have on her mental health. She is still figuring out who she is and what place she holds in this world, and the negative effect of no privacy and constant peer pressure is not a risk I am willing to place on her shoulders.

 

For over 8 years I have held the stance that my children are not permitted on social media until they finish high school. Sure, I’ve heard the usual retorts that I’m too overprotective, that I don’t trust my child, that I’m preventing them learning life skills. These comments don’t sway me, because I’ve done the research. I’ve looked into the developing adolescent brain, and the stunted behavioural development that stems from online relationships replacing face-to-face ones. The reality is that I don’t usually go looking for trouble online either, but it sure as hell still finds me and impacts my soul. I’m very concerned about how many children need to suffer depression, anxiety, self-esteem issues, self-mutilation, or become suicidal before we admit that Social Media is not appropriate for anyone under the age of 18?

 

I’ve come to realise that the parents who get really opinionated with me, are usually the ones who have little to no control or knowledge of their child’s online life. It’s hard to keep on top of, especially if you work full time, it’s far easier to give in, and to justify it. Trust me I understand.

 

I agree, it would be nice to live in a utopian society where people don’t treat each other in these heinous ways, but the reality is that verbal abuse is all too common. And yet its not illegal.. Probably should be, but sadly that’s not the case. We must accept the true condition of our world as it is, and protect our children until this kind of behaviour is but a distant memory…

 

Thankfully I am now hearing parents changing their tune and wishing they could protect their children from it, and yet have no practical ways to combat the tidal wave of pressure to comply. Keep reading cause those practical tips are coming…

 

ADULTS GET CAUGHT AS WELL

Even adults struggle with the more serious impact of social media, let alone the less violent concerns like wasting their precious time, creating a temporary false sense of joy, and replacing personal interaction with impersonal clicks and comments. So why would we expect our children to know how to cope? Even the simple addictive nature of opening the app, click click, scroll scroll, is causing actual physical damage to our nervous system, our brains, and our bodies. It’s so mindless!

 

Another point to consider is all the photographs of children plastered all over their parents Facebook pages. Does anyone else feel this is seriously lacking in self-awareness and self-discipline? My sympathy if you fall into that category, which the numbers show you probably do. But ask yourself, were these children asked permission? Were they informed enough to understand that their entire lives would be on display for all to see and judge? That some of those in their parents “friends” list are people they don’t even know, yet they’re able to see images of their personal intimate moments? Could this be more detrimental than the paparazzi? Because at least the law forces them to stay outside our homes.

 

The line in the sand has blurred so much that children are now sending unsolicited images of themselves all over Snapchat without being aware of the consequences to their reputations, privacy and self-esteem.

 

Why am I the one left feeling awkward when I ask people to please take down photo’s of my kids, that have been put up without my permission or theirs? It is ridiculously hard to monitor! So why is this even legal?

 

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not a Neanderthal, I understand there are some precious memories that warrant photo evidence, and the cultural call to share triumphs, and world travel, weddings and so forth. Inspiring stuff right! An occasional pic (with permission) is not completely without merit. But WOW, it has gotten seriously out of hand. Can we stop it? Is it too late to hit the brakes? Rewind? Delete?

 

EYES ARE THE DOORWAYS TO THE SOUL

Its not just social media causing all the trouble either. Other forms of media have a lot to answer for!

Want a couple of mind-boggling examples?

 

During a NEWS program at dinner time, an advert for the trailer of the new 50 shades movie came on. I was sitting next to my young teenage daughter when all of a sudden, we are watching two people, mostly naked, in the throes of some pretty intense sexual activity. It’s honestly no wonder the line between consensual flirting and sexual harassment has become so hard to define.

 

I recognise that we have allowed the lines of morality to slur closer and closer to the abyss of ‘FREE EXPRESSION’, but when will we actually stop and look at ourselves and realise that we are watching people have SEX for our entertainment?! Not hidden behind closed doors, with the saddest, depraved, and sexually warped individuals, but out in the open! With our children!!

 

Many years ago, I used to watch the TV show Law & Order, I love the law and detective work, but then Special Victims Unit came along and all of a sudden we were watching children getting molested and calling it entertainment! Actual real life children are being given scripts to read, and roles to play where this is the story! Am I the only one who sees something very, very wrong with this? And don’t even get me started on some of the twisted content available on YouTube and similar formats.

 

Yeah, you say perhaps I’m just too sensitive. But I wonder if we know what exactly it was that our Saviour came to save us from? And do we even see the value of it?

 

My tears fall for all those who can’t see what’s going on! For the children exposed to images and abuse that corrupts their innocence and depletes their self-worth. I’m not sure how much longer we can sit by and watch this happen! So in the meantime, while we wait for the world to change, here are a few practical ways you can protect your family.

 

TIPS TO PROTECT YOUR CHILDREN FROM MEDIA

Tip 1:

Be their parent not their ‘easy going friend’. It is perfectly normal for them to get moody and upset with you, you may feel fear at losing your ‘friendliness’ with them. But their tears won’t hurt them as much as certain forms of media can. When done right, you’ll end up all the closer for it.

 

Tip 2:

Exception not the rule. Set clear boundaries that Social Media is a unique privilege only for special circumstances, such as an overseas trip with school or sporting team or church. Refuse it if you can until last few weeks of high school.

 

Tip 3:

Prevention is better than the cure. It may be hard to hold your stance and you may want to cave under the pressure, but remember they never miss what they never have. Taking it away could be a far more difficult task. It’s much easier to stand your ground beforehand.

 

Tip 4:

Communicate. Explain your reasons and show them evidence of its toxic nature (they will also see the unwanted drama their friends experience). Regular communication is vital, listen to their side, and try to be compassionate. Yet stay the course.

 

Tip 5:

Consequences. If they do have social media and you see their behaviour, grades, or communication with you begin to suffer, use an app blocker to block certain apps as a consequence. Or confiscate their device for periods of time.

 

Tip 6:

Respect their Privacy. Create a private album for your Facebook photos of your children and only allow people they know and trust to see them. Remove any photo’s of them that they may not appreciate once they grow up.

 

Tip 7:

Value & Permission. Respect your child’s image by asking permission before you share photos of them online. Empower them to value images of themselves and not spread them mindlessly.

 

Tip 8:

Monitor & Follow Up. Monitor and put up firm parameters around your child’s use of internet and YouTube (Check the history regularly).

 

Tip 9:

Get Informed & Guide them. Use sites like IMDB to view the parents guide of all TV shows and Movies BEFORE your child has permission to watch them, and when something is rate PG or higher, (Parental Guidance is Recommended) Which means Parents watch with their child and guide them on how to think faithfully and healthily about any parts that are of concern.

 

Tip 10:

Fill Their Time. Find lots of good media content to fill the spaces so they still have the chance to enjoy a good movie, and the benefit of knowledge and research online, don’t go into cult mode. Have lots of physical activities planned for their spare time. Team sports, extracurricular subjects, and youth groups etc.

 

Tip 11:

Assess Your Child’s Growth. Be willing and open to discuss exceptions and pray for guidance on when the child is mature enough for the next stage, not just because “everyone else is allowed”.

 

Tip 12:

Outside the Home. Ask other parents to restrict their child’s access to social media and internet when your child is under their care. Inform your child’s friends that they are not permitted to share photo’s or information about your child online. Back this up with those awkward conversations. “Please remove that post and please don’t do it again”.

 

Tip 13:

Develop Trust. Teach your child to be able to monitor media content themselves and check in with you about it, and teach them to have the courage to say “I’m not comfortable watching this” or “Could you not put that photo of me online?”.

 

Tip 14:

Pray! Pray for the strength to hold to your stance! In spite of the possible hostility from your child, in spite of the looks of condemnation from other parents, in spite of the awkward conversations. Stand Strong!

Your child may not completely understand or agree right now, but they will learn to trust you more and more the longer you stick to your convictions, and they will thank you for it one day. I promise!

 


12/03/2018

Identifying & Overcoming Emotional Abuse

Posted in Family, General, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , at 9:42 pm by The Water Bearer

Most of us can recall a time in our life when we felt scared, threatened, yelled at, picked on, blamed, criticised, belittled, controlled and so on. Whether it was a rare event, maybe from a school bully, a grumpy teacher, a boss, or a family member having a bad day, or perhaps an ongoing occurrence for many years, at some point it has happened to us all…. Throughout this article I’ll share some of my own personal experience on this topic (which I have never actually verbalised publicly). But for now it’s important to understand that the actions listed above are all classified as emotional or psychological abuse.

When we’re exposed to any form of abuse it can have severe long term effects on self-worth and mental stability. I can testify to this truth. The psychological abuse Ive experienced is still a contributing factor of the deep Inner Enemies I face on a regular basis. So when do the behaviours above transition from a normal part of life, into life altering abuse that needs to be identified and treated?

This article has some definitions of emotionally abusive behaviours, and states…

“Beverly Engels defines emotional abuse “as any nonphysical behavior that is designed to control, intimidate, subjugate, demean, punish, or isolate another person through the use of degradation, humiliation, or fear.” The purpose or attitude behind emotional abuse can be conscious, subconscious or unconscious.”

It is important to recognise your own feelings when determining if someone is possibly abusive toward you. If, while in their company, you commonly feel unsure, afraid, stressed, like walking on eggshells, or an unhealthy need to prove yourself, it may be due to some form of abuse. The tricky thing about being abused by someone you love or look up to, is that you constantly look to them for approval. You may get momentary praise, attention, and even affection, but it is never stable enough to stand on, because before long they are blowing up, yelling, name calling, or criticising once again. You begin to believe that if you could only be ‘good enough’ they would have no reason to be angry at you, no reason to yell, no reason to find fault in you. Apologies may or may not come after the abuse, however if the behaviour doesn’t change, and you feel unable to sever contact, you may be stuck in a cycle of abuse.

Cycle_of_Abuse

 

 

In order to break the cycle of abuse, it is vital to realise that their abusive conduct has absolutely nothing to do with our ‘bad’ behaviour. No matter how ‘well-behaved’ we are, they will always find a ‘reason’ to become critical and abusive. If you notice closely, often when you do really well and succeed in anything, they actually pull you back down, saying things like “You think you’re so much better than the rest of us don’t you” Its a toxic cycle. Make a mistake and you feel you are worth less than dirt, do well and succeed and you are labelled self-righteous and arrogant. It’s an vicious unhealthy mindset to try to function in, trust me! But you CAN BREAK FREE FROM IT!

The difficult part is, that even once you have come to this understanding, old patterns are hard to break, especially in a relationship with a spouse, a family member, parent or sibling etc. It’s almost impossible to relax around someone who is abusive, you can learn to control your reactions, set good boundaries, and keep your distance, but sure enough when the time comes to interact with them once again, the subconscious nervous system goes haywire, you watch what you say, hold your breath, waiting for it….

As mentioned above, sometimes the abuser is completely unaware that their behaviour is actually abuse, especially in the case of psychological abuse as there are no bruises or external scars to prove it. Often without proper therapy, someone who has been emotionally abused themselves isn’t able to identify it as abuse, and therefore can’t recognise when their own behaviour becomes abusive. Developing self-awareness and recognising if our emotions are uncontrollable, manipulative or used as excuses for any of the behaviours mentioned early, is vital if we are to identify our own possibly abusive behaviour.

I recently read this excellent post just to gain more understanding of abuse, and abusers who are unaware of their abusive behaviour. I just had to share a portion of this article with you….

When coming to the understanding of where the roots of her abuse began the blogger writes…

“It isn’t so much about blame as it is about the truth. Blame was like a stepping stone on the journey; it was necessary for me to go there. There was blame that had been misapplied to me and I had to put it back where it belonged. Once I saw the truth I was able to heal. I no longer have the anger and resentments that I had for most of my life. I also no longer have the pain of living with such broken self esteem and low self worth that I mistakenly believed was there because there was something “wrong” with me”.

I’ve been researching this subject for many years, fascinated by the power emotions can have over us. Determined to put a stop to my own manipulative emotions and ensure the legacy of emotional anarchy was not passed onto my children. It was the main reason for beginning my journey of faith and self-awareness.

It took a long time to understand the powerful effect this abuse had on my insecurities. Many years of therapy unraveled how each painful memory had affected me, and uncovered some memories I hadn’t realised were damaging my mental health long term. At some point I had an epiphany, I identified the abuse for what it was and realised that there was no way I could stop it, but knew I had to choose to defy it. I had to stop validating the compliments, I had to stop seeking approval, I had to dismiss my urge for affection. I had to allow abusive people to have as many issues with me as they liked and learn to ignore it. I had to stop trying to adapt to others expectations and adapt to my own instead. I had to trust God to defend me and hand it all over to Him. All these strategies are easier said than done, but they are possible. With a healthy dose of self-awareness, development of good boundaries, and trust in the promises of God to love you, heal you and deal with those who do you wrong.  The Psalms are filled with prayers, hymns and praise about God’s deliverance from thine enemies.

Yep, I’ve been working hard for decades and now I am at a new challenging stage…. Forgiveness  (OUCH)

Funnily enough I always thought I was forgiving, because I put myself back in that firing line over and over again. Plus I tried so hard not to use the abuse as a reason to in turn become abusive. I kept civil and polite as much as possible. I took the hit (so to speak), recoiled in pain, put some distance between us and then once the dust had settled and I believed I had moved into forgiveness, off I went back in. I realise now that forgiveness isn’t about staying in contact with my abuser. I can keep my distance and still forgive. They may not feel forgiven, or accept my choice, and I guess that was always my problem, I wanted them to understand my reasons for distancing myself. I wanted desperately to explain how much it hurt. I wanted them to admit it and stop it. But that never came.

It was freeing to accept that forgiving them is not about them, its about me. Its about giving myself permission to step out of the firing line, while forgiving the misunderstanding, and the false-accusations. However, the voices in my head need forgiveness too, and all the strangers whom I now fear abuse from even before they have inflicted it. I need to forgive myself for allowing it to go on SO LONG!

I’m actually really excited by this new level of understanding. I’m eager to practice forgiveness, even if it hurts, because at least now I know I’m almost at the end of a very long journey towards healing! And then only God knows what I’ll be capable of when the fear of abuse, and the fear of criticism is no longer a constant voice in my head that needs silencing, but has become a long and distant memory.

Psalm 138:7  Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch forth Your hand against the wrath of my enemies, And Your right hand will save me.

 

 

 

 

 

28/02/2017

When Love Sucks

Posted in Encouragement, Family, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , at 12:32 pm by The Water Bearer

love-sucks

Don’t you hate it when love sucks!?!

When I was a tween I was an awkward, lanky-legged chatterbox, who began to notice boys not long after my parents separated. I was far too nervous to actually have one but I fantasied about having a boyfriend. I longed for someone to smother me in affection and attention.

Yet boys in real life didn’t really notice me.

I guess you could say my imagination got the better of me, for when reality proved the lack of attention I was getting, I would retreat to my bedroom, heartbroken; and write countless poems of devastation and unrequited love.

I believed love should be what I had seen in the movies, and yet never witnessed in real life. It appeared to be something you received, something that filled all the empty places within. To me love in real life seemed desperate and hungry, never satisfied.

As I got older, my figure began to change and I realised that I was getting noticed more and more. I felt for sure that one of these boys was going to be the one to meet all the dreams and security that I craved. Yet time after time I was disappointed. The affection never lasted long and only really had one intention. The attention was never reliable, it fluctuated and dulled over time. Security was a joke, I trusted no one. Those love poems I had written as a young girl became reality over and over again.

“Love can make your heart sore and bloom! And then it ends, over, Kaboom! Left here lying in a puddle of tears, all alone with only my fears!”

I wish I could go back in time and explain to my younger self that everything I thought I knew about love was poisonous and untruthful. That you don’t seek out love simply to receive it, if you do you only create a vacuum. A hollow void that consumes everything in sight and leaves nothing left. I would tell myself that my hunger for love could never be filled by another human being. It could only be filled by God and loving myself, and I must learn how. I had to get to know myself truly, deeply, no hidden agenda, no ulterior motive. To expose the places of loss, hurt and fear that had created that vacuum inside me. To allow forgiveness to flood all my imperfections and my regrets.

Through the journey of true self-discovery, I found truth in the pages of God’s Word. I gave those inspired words permission to reveal my true heart, and I soaked up every promise of mercy, of protection and affection, from my Heavenly Father that I possibly could. That emptiness inside me, not only filled but began overflowing!

That is when you can truly experience LOVE! Love from, and for God, and His Precious Son, but also love for one another. Because when your heart longs to GIVE LOVE, you can’t help but feel it’s warm joy and fulfilment.

The snare that so many of us fall for, as we navigate this life of broken promises and vacuum hearts, is believing that we must satisfy ourselves at any expense. That we must seek out our own desires and expect others to fulfil them. It is a desire completely focused on self-gaining, self-serving, and self-seeking. Me, Me, Me, I, I, I.

“Love does not seek its own reward.” (1 Corinthians 13:5)

Accept the abundant love from God Most High, allow it to reveal and heal your broken, vacuum heart. Then go out into your life with the intention to GIVE AS MUCH LOVE AS YOU CAN! Keep on giving, no matter how much is sucked up by others, give more! For Our Father God, who gives love through us, will never run dry. His love endures forever and ever!

give-love

11/12/2016

A Poem of Christmas Woe

Posted in Family, Finding Faith, Musings, Poetry tagged , , , , , , , , at 9:28 am by The Water Bearer

 

“Lilly sit still” My mother’s voice rings out

“I don’t want to” I say, as I punch and shout.

The fat jolly man on who’s knee I was sat

Thought it ok to give a soothing pat

……

But his touch didn’t soothe my flighty fight

In fact it didn’t feel quite right

And when I tried to sleep that night

The thought of him gave me an awful fright

……

I’d heard of Santa Claus and his right

To come into my home at night

Our security screens were in doubt

And wouldn’t keep this stranger out

…..

My parents said “sleep” I must

For “Santa Claus we sure could trust”

But everything else they had taught before

Lay open in warning all over the floor

…..

I knew I hadn’t done my best all year

So why were there so many presents here?

They told me he viewed me from all ranges

This proves I need to make no changes.

….

The kids at school told me it was all a lie

“My parents lied?” I wondered why…

So if that fat man they forced me to love

Wasn’t really watching from above

Perhaps there is no God there too

And why should I believe in you?

….

When I grew up and became a mum

I told my kids that was no fun

I wanted them to know I would tell no lies

Not of fairy’s or Santa or the bogey man’s flies

…..

The birth of Christ is our Christmas story

A babe who came with hope and glory

His purpose here is losing impact

Diluted by a man with toys in his sack

….

I see these tricks now so much better

and it comes with the change of just one letter

Santa’s ‘N’ makes it’s way to the end

as Satan’s name is sure to offend

….

In a world so full of broken trust

A parent’s truth is a vital must

So before you tuck your kids in this eve

Be sure of what you make them believe

….

11/07/2016

Alterations by Grace not by Law

Posted in Encouragement, Family, Finding Faith tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 10:21 am by The Water Bearer

argue

God has been showing me some crazy similarities between destructive patterns in relationships and the common themes in Religion.  The Enemy isn’t very creative really, replaying the same tired old accusations in all areas of life. The most blatant being “You can’t really trust Love, can you?”.

Who can say, in our current generation, that they have never heard a woman complain about the things she hopes to change about her man?

Who can say they have never heard a man complain about being in trouble with their wife?

There is an epidemic of families being broken all over the globe and in our western culture this theme seems to be the most common.

Many women share with me their frustrations over the things about their men that they want to alter. I’m sure many of you ladies can understand, we are all sinners after all. Maybe these men are selfish. Maybe they are unreliable. Can you relate? Maybe they stay out too late while you are stuck at home with the children. Maybe they don’t help enough around the house or with the children. Maybe they aren’t romantic any more. Maybe they spend money irresponsibly. Maybe they drink too much or play Playstation too much. Maybe they don’t work hard. Maybe they go to strip clubs or look at pornography or stray physically. Maybe arguments are often and the connection is wearing thin.

In this recent social phase, Inner Enemies have heightened the emotional atmosphere, they empower us women with the accusation, “You can’t really trust Love, Can you?”, encouraging us to become nasty and emotional when our expectations are not met.  We become controlling, manipulative, restrictive. We might lay down the law, use ultimatums, make threats, yell, belittle, cry, all in order to get them to alter their ways, to satisfy us.

Men in these situations too have frustrations, they feel penned in by an emotionally unstable relationship. They feel their manhood, their authority, is being challenged, being overpowered. They often hide their hearts away and continue to make their own decisions about how to spend their time and their money, without letting her reactions sway these decisions, in a way to feel like they are still in charge over themselves and not submitting to the control of someone dominating and often unreasonable. The emotional reaction of the women is often the very thing that pushes the men further into these ‘frustrating’ behaviours. In many cases these dynamics cause division in relationships, and at the very least can cause a lack of deep connection and contentment.

Making a choice and a commitment to love someone is not a decision to give up our freedom, even though many mistake this as the case. For without the freedom to decide every day if you want to be in the relationship there is only more pressure to create division. We think once someone says they love us, they commit to us then ‘CLICK’ the magical handcuffs are on. We own them, and the right to demand that they make us happy. This is toxic thinking. Any behavioural changes that are made in this scenario cannot be trusted completely, they haven’t been genuinely made out of love, they are made out of fear and control.

Conversely there are those whose Inner Angels help them to accept their loved ones imperfections. They try to be patient to wait for hearts to adjust and behaviours to settle into a united rhythm. They want their mate to be free to choose to love them, to be free to want to do right by them out of love not out of fear. They recognise that forced compliance has short term rewards, for lasting unity there needs to be alterations of the heart. This goes for both men and women.

As an example, these women give grace when their men are late. They give forgiveness when their men make mistakes. They use every opportunity to try to show love when they could show anger. They choose to give freedom rather than control. Kindness instead of attack. Consequently, very often the men in these relationships are eventually driven by their own motivation to want to do right by their woman. They would rather call and let her know they will be late, because they know she will worry, and they know they have the freedom to stay as long as they want. Suddenly they can’t wait to come home. They would rather resist the temptation to stray because they appreciate the constant approachable love their woman gives them. They choose to do right because they don’t want to hurt her, they want to love her back. Not because of the promise, not because of the words, not because of the certificate, because their heart has been altered by the love and grace and freedom and forgiveness they have received.

This is exactly how God’s Grace works as opposed to the Law. Picture the relationship responses I just explained, as metaphors for the Christian systems of Law and Grace.

Under the Law our freedom is taken captive. Religiosity points out our flaws, condemns us, threatens us. Through fear and guilt, religion expects us to change. You are given no freedom to choose God’s will, it is expected, demanded, forced. Any changes made in this scenario are made without the strength of love, and they often are only temporary changes at best. The changes aren’t written in hearts, only in works. The connection between us and God is then fragile and unstable. Any significant test and it will crumble, tempting us to hide and compare sins.

Under Grace freedom is given and love is abundant. Every day you get to choose if you want a relationship with God. Everyday God gives us our own free will to decide for ourselves if we want to grow in our commitment to Him. When we slip and fall and we turn to Him, we are not belittled or condemned. We are met with Forgiveness and Love, Strength and Help. He is always waiting for us to come to Him no matter how many times we fall. His spirit, which grows inside us, is what writes His laws on our hearts because we have chosen to soften our hearts every time we choose Him. This creates humility and self-awareness, altering our behaviour and our hearts, and builds a connection with God that nothing can break!

Inner Enemies have confused our twisted emotional version of Love with God’s version of Love. We know how we feel when our loved ones disappoint or hurt us, and so we assume God must feel that way about us when we sin.

However God is Love!

Most of us are familiar with 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast. Love is not proud. It does not dishonour others. Love is not Self-seeking. Love is not easily angered. Love keeps no record of wrongs.”

We expect this kind of love from others and yet we rarely are able to give it ourselves. We assume God must have this same flaw. But God IS Love, His spirit gives us the ability to love others in this way. So then let’s swap His name for ‘Love’ in that previous scripture.

God is PATIENT, God is KIND. He does not envy. He does not boast. God is not proud. He does not DISHONOUR others. God is not SELF-SEEKING. God is NOT EASILY ANGERED. God KEEPS NO RECORD OF WRONGS. God does not delight in evil but rejoices in TRUTH. He always PROTECTS. Always TRUSTS, Always HOPES, Always PERSEVERES. God NEVER FAILS!

So it becomes clear that the Enemy has been using this accusation “You can’t really trust Love, can you?” in our relationships, but he has also been using it in Christianity. “You can’t really trust God, can you?” The Law, which was supposed to define love, has been used as a tool to condemn us, pushing us away from God’s love, from God’s Grace. We must realise the deception in this practice and accept the abounding Grace Christ came to share with us. Grace that makes us want to grow closer to Him, the closer we get, the more alterations He shines through in our behaviour.

Please don’t misunderstand here, no one is saying that it is okay to stray, to neglect, to be selfish in a relationship. However nor is it okay to condemn the faults of those we love, and expect them to change just to suit us. In this way the Law has its purpose, it is God’s way of communicating to us what sin looks like, as a violation of Love. In the same way we can communicate with our loved ones which behaviours cause us to pull away and protect our hearts. Keeping in mind all the principles of what LOVE IS, as stated above. Just as God stands firmly on the truth of the Law, we also stand firmly on the conviction of our Christ-centered expectations in our relationships. But Love, LOVE is the key!

Ephesians 4:2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

1 John 4:18-19 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

Galatians 5:13 “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”

Simply put…..If freedom is given, mercy is abundant, then love becomes the powerful force that encourages our hearts to want to change!

law vs grace

 

 

 

24/07/2015

Sins of the ‘Filter’

Posted in Family, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , at 11:56 am by The Water Bearer

filter

It is easy to take credit for all the talents we pass onto our children, however it is often much harder to admit that we pass on our curses also. This valuable piece of understanding has been the main motivator for me to accept my faults, identify my curses, and work towards change within myself and my life. For the sake of my children, my two precious girls, I wanted more for them than the dysfunction I have lived with.

The main breakthrough at the beginning of my self-journey was discovering that my filter was broken.

You may be asking what on earth is your Filter?

The filter, as my psychologist titled it, is the part of our brain that tells us what to let out and what to keep back, what to let in and what to block out. For one example, it is the part of our mind that determines what is important, what is worth getting upset about and alternatively what is not worth getting upset about. I am not simply talking about the experience of internal emotions, I am also talking about the external voicing of our emotions, the times we show our anger, the times we lose our cool, the times we raise our voice, or force another to hear our unpleasant thoughts and feelings. I am talking about our considered self-talk, the conversations we have with ourselves that analyses our reactions and our paradigm.

This filter also helps us read others accurately. It determines when a situation calls for hostile opinions to be voiced or when discretion is required. It helps us determine if someone has actually wronged us and to what degree of intent, or if we have assumed the worst due to our insecurities or previous experiences. Our filter helps us decide whether being aggressively assertive is required, or if a more subdued form of confrontation would have more beneficial results, or if deflecting the situation and letting it go is best. It helps us discern if someone’s feedback is valid and worth application, or considering if it is merely an outburst without the use of their own filter.

There are numerous causes for a broken filter, only individual, psychological investigation can help determine the cause, and along with an honest relationship with God, it is also the only way to fix a damaged filter. There are countless issues that reverberate throughout the life of one with a damaged filter. It will effect all relationships, possibly career opportunities, and disrupt our sense of inner peace. And of course, sadly, it can cause these issues to transfer into the lives of our children, especially if we have not address it and passed the damage down the line.

I understand how difficult it can be to step back and take inventory of our reactions and responses, it can be daunting to re-evaluate yourself, your life and why you do what you do. Inner enemies encourage us to stay broken, they empower our resistance, preventing us from accepting our broken filter, which can impede us from pursuing the healing we require. A healthy filter prevents so much of the drama that seems to flood our lives, it helps us keep a safe healthy barrier from those who create problems and helps us understand how to best navigate the waters of relationships to bring more contentment and fulfillment.

If after reading this post you too wonder if your filter is broken, I thoroughly recommend praying for God to help you find the right therapist to address it. Be prepared to get very honest with yourself and after some tough work, look forward to the benefits of a healthier mindset. When we realize that our filter is broken, it can be tempting to use its damage as an excuse to deflect responsibility for our outbursts, bad reactions and the chaos that is usually partnered with this issue, rather than something we must take accountability for. But if we think it may be broken then we may be effecting others negatively, and it is unfair to all parties to leave it untreated. We must take ownership and accept the filter is part of us, we need to sincerely apologize to others whenever it misfires and make steps towards healing.

I have seen the fall out of this issue so often in myself and many around me, and I pray with my whole heart that the Lord reaches in and encourages our Inner Angels to fight against the enemy and the curse that is a broken filter. Not only for our sake, but the sake of those we love and the next generation.

steps

07/03/2015

Control Yourself, Not Your Day!

Posted in Encouragement, Family, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , at 9:46 am by The Water Bearer

While visiting the amazing country of Tanzania earlier this year I noticed some very distinct differences in the attitude the people had while going about their daily life. These are people with very little creature comforts, they have what they need and they are very grateful for that. I watched closely as they praised God for letting them meet us, they praise him for the meal on their plate, they praised him for the health of their family. As the days went on we noticed that things don’t always go the way you want in Africa. The 3 atm’s in the area may not work, the road ahead may be filled with elephants and you can’t get home after a very long day, until they decide to move. The people didn’t gripe and whinge, they laughed, “T.I.A” they would say which means “This Is Africa!” And everyone breaks into laughter when they here this.

TIA

The people also showed me how considerate they are towards each other. One guy who served us at one of the lodges told us he had saved enough from tips and planned to buy his daughter a new bike, but his neighbour had had a tough year. So he put off buying his daughter the bike because he didn’t want to rub his good fortune in his neighbours face. He told us it wouldn’t make him happy to know his happiness may cause his neighbour to be unhappy. It touched me deeply, and I wondered when we came to think our plan is what makes us happy?

When I got home to western society I saw how irritable and lacking in tolerance and gratitude we are as a culture and it saddened me deeply. We have more than we can ever need, and yet we are wasteful and we take the simple things in life for granted. Many of us get extremely angry over the small stuff, it’s as if we planned our whole day to perfection, expecting things to go exactly that way, and surely enough as the day goes on things go wrong, someone may cut us off in traffic, the kids spill their milk in the car, there is a long line at the checkout, someone finished an ingredient we needed for dinner, and we hadn’t planned for any of this. So by the end of the day we are miserable and wrung out, reactive and aggressive, not grateful, not peaceful.

I caught myself mid-flight as I overreacted to an annoyance and I stopped myself, I couldn’t believe how badly I handled a small trivial hiccup in my day. I caught myself again when my daughter showed me a broken usb filled with pictures from our trip, the horror in my voice at the sight of the usb was a complete shock to my daughter and myself. It wasn’t holding the only copy of the photos, we can afford to buy another one, we have a car to go get another one if we want. What a silly thing to get horrified over! I had an epiphany.

If we stopped spending so much time planning our day to precision and we factored in the things that are sure to go wrong, just like they do in Africa, “T.I.A”, then maybe we wouldn’t be so uptight. We would be able to cope when we face inconveniences, when the unexpected grates on our tolerance. If we watch ourselves closely we may recognise when we are trying so hard to control the people and the situations around us in order to try and prevent our anger. Then we can make a decision, to aim all that control towards our anger so that the people and the life around us don’t have to be perfect, and so we can be grateful for the fact that all our needs are met.

Precious metals are refined in the furnace, and yet we spend so much time being angry at the heat that is actually meant to help us improve. Isn’t it time we paid attention and changed the direction of what we try to control?

Lord help us change the aim of our control, and keep this as our goal. Amen!

Control Anger

30/11/2014

Generational Emotional Curses

Posted in Encouragement, Family, Finding Faith, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , at 6:57 pm by The Water Bearer

genetic

This journey of self-awareness and self-discovery, which I have been on for many years, has seen many breakthroughs, each one adding a small piece to the puzzle that is me. One of the more perplexing areas of me, is my powerful emotional surges.

Emotional control has been at the forefront of my motivation since my mid 20’s. Prior to that I was extremely emotionally manipulative and reactive, I had no idea how destructive uncontrolled emotions could be. However, this journey has taught me that emotions are fickle and can’t be trusted to influence all my actions and decisions.

Have you ever wondered why so many members of your family or any particular family suffer patterns of uncontrollable emotional surges? I saw these surges often in my family and in myself. By faith I came to suspect that an emotional generational curse has become an inheritance. Desperate to overcome and break curses since I can remember, I knew if I didn’t break them, then I would pass them onto my children, which was and is completely unacceptable to me. The curse needed to reveal some specifics for me to fully understand what was being passed along. During a recent session of NET (Neuro-emotional technique) I received the confirmation I was looking for, along with some details to help identify and address this long term issue.

One of the main problems that arises from this curse is an emotional domino effect. Powerful feelings don’t only affect the person experiencing them but attempt to knock over each person who comes into contact with them. Making it especially hard to validate themselves and their feelings without everyone else feeling the same way. I call this Emotional Co-dependence. It is the inability to be alone in your own feelings.

After some wonderful counsel, I began to consider the concept of staying on our own emotional ground, so that as we grow and become self-aware we can learn not to feel guilty about a decision we have made on our own, even if our loved ones or peers don’t approve. We need to validate our own reasons and not allow the perspective or guilt trips of others to move us from the stable stance we choose to take. We also need to stay calm when a family member is irrational and emotionally out of control. Try to stay positive even when someone is being negative. And most difficult of all, to stay sure of ourselves even when being challenged to be different, without getting defensive.

This is not easy by any means. It takes a lot of self-awareness and self-control to undo the automatic responses that have been woven into your nervous system for as long as you can remember. The keys are persistence and patience. I may not always succeed in staying on my own emotional ground, however I am aiming for quality over quantity at this stage. I may feel alienated for a little while, I may seem aloof and uncaring to those I used to jump into the emotional boat with. Yet I have seen evidence that if I stick to this strategy, and wait patiently for the initial emotions to pass, we can connect with others in much healthier, independent ways.

I realise that undoing strongholds with such deep roots will not happen overnight, and I try to give myself grace when I slip back into old habits. I feel rejuvenated by these new understandings, and grateful to God for His strength to help me when I am weak, and His mercy when I fall. I pray this curse will not be so difficult for my children to overcome now that God is helping me undermine some of its power. Amen!

Curses

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