19/06/2018

Side-Stepping The Ego

Posted in Encouragement, Finding Faith, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , at 11:58 am by The Water Bearer

 

 


It was just a normal day when it revealed itself, nothing out of the ordinary. I’d just put fuel in my car and casually asked the cashier if she could break a twenty into two tens. She grimaced furiously and fumbled through her till, making out my request was a huge insult. Then I heard it. A voice from inside me, silent but powerful. It said “Don’t F@#* with me Lady! Either you can or you can’t!” Yet I just barely noticed it as I swallowed it back down.

She ummed and aah’d for a few seconds and I felt for a moment as if I could read her thoughts, she was assessing if helping me was going to hinder her in some way, and rather than just apologising and saying ‘Sorry I can’t help you’, she made damn sure I knew I was putting her out. The voice inside me spoke again, it said “I don’t remember ordering a side of guilt with my change!” As she reluctantly handed me my two ten dollar notes, she said “I will this time, but we don’t have the same facilities as a bank.” I had already thanked her and was half way out the door when I heard her final jab. I’ve learned over the years not to always voice out loud my inside voice, yet I still paused at the door, took a sarcastically curious look around the small fuel shop and said “Oh really! Why don’t you? How unusual!” and headed out the door, chuckling to myself a little. The voice said “Whatever lady. I won that round!”

Do you ever wonder, or is it just me, why deep down so many of us are extremely motivated by our self-importance, our self-worth, our self-image? In other words, our Ego….. We protect ourselves almost instinctively in these areas.

The ego is always trying to attach itself to things to try to form our identity, such as our image or status, our reputation, our relationships, our success, our career, our talents, dreams and even our trauma. It takes this job very seriously, plus its also quite an attention seeker, becoming the loudest voice in our thoughts. It can become excessive and out of hand when we fail to develop our true identity.

When I look to the cross I see none of that in Christ. I see total acceptance, no expectations, no defensiveness, no victim mentality and no identity crisis. How juxtapose I feel to Him in this state..

Still, I’ve had this feeling lately that I’m supposed to figure out how to adopt Christ-likeness into this area of my inner self.

I had a somewhat troubled childhood. There was an atmosphere of distrust, accusations and rejection. And as a way to protect myself from these ‘dangers’, I developed a specific ego-personality which my therapist and I have recently named, The Sargent Major.

The Sgt Major inside me is a powerhouse, and to be perfectly honest, she’s a little neurotic. If you’ve ever crossed her, you’ll know what I mean! She’s driven to protect me by standing up for myself, calling people out on their crap, magnifying my sense of authority and control, judging if the situation is safe or if I need to become assertive and defend myself or my loved ones. These aren’t necessarily “bad” traits, but rather inappropriate in some circumstances.

If we’ve come to recognise how untrustworthy our ego voice is, we may realise as we grow and mature, that there is no need to be so defensive all the time. Sure we need to have a level of control over our children, or those we are in charge of. We need to create an honest trustworthy social group to relax, enjoy and feel pleasure with others. And sometimes we may need to square up in the face of being bullied, threatened or falsely accused. But perhaps, like me, you’ve recognised that extreme defensive traits can be tamed, and have learned to control some of the outward reactions sparked by this ego-personality. We yell less, or avoid arguments, we stay out of violent situations, we apologise more, we learn to calm our ego and let go of some control and find more peace.

The trouble is that my Sgt Major has been around since I was a toddler, and therefore is very deeply woven into the fabric of me. So, even though I’ve learned to somewhat manage her more superficial responses, I am now noticing the subtle or unconscious ways she still surfaces. I’ve noticed this is usually in the places where I feel most vulnerable. In my roles as a parent or a sibling, when I’m explaining what my business/ministry is, or even in my writing.

It’s pretty useless trying to refresh faith and self-awareness or explain an amazing program that stretches out muscles tension, calms the mind and deepens faith when you’re unconsciously being anxious and defensive! (Sigh*)

The wonderful news is that I’ve seen this movie before and I know how it ends. Once I become aware, I fall at the feet of my Saviour. I recognise the way Christ dealt with rejection, false accusations, betrayal and criticism and I meditate on it. Through meditation we become more aware of the ego chatter in our mind and realize how little of it applies to our current situation. Paying attention to our subconscious self-talk gives us more opportunities to choose to deny ourselves, welcome the Holy Spirit and accept the cross we have been given to bear.

“Then Jesus told His disciples, “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” Matthew 16:24-25

We have a meditation that we use often in our Sanctuary Stretch classes that soothes our inner child. We visualise going back to our child self and bring self-compassion, wisdom and reassurance to those deeply ingrained ego traits and allow God’s grace and mercy to gently ease our soul into acceptance and new levels of Christ-likeness.

It may take a while to subdue the Sgt Major to a more Christ-like state, and to teach her to know her place, yet I feel an amazing sense of understanding and awareness flooding out of me. No one said it would be easy, I may struggle occasionally but I will seek, I will surrender, I will grow, and I will share it all with you, so we can all grow together on this Crusade towards Serenity!

 

 


 

 

 

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18/05/2018

To Heed or Ignore Advice

Posted in Encouragement, Musings, Self-Awareness, Teen Trials tagged , , , , , , , at 8:10 am by The Water Bearer

 

I can bet there’s not a day that goes by without someone giving you their input. Online, in person, strangers, family, teachers, neighbours, bloggers, Doctors and YouTubers. It seems almost everyone has ideas about how you should live your life.

Other people’s input can range from emotionally charged manipulation, to simply an opinion or perspective. It could even be prophetic insight, or plain profound guidance.

With so much rubbish chatter out there, we tend to ignore most stuff without much thought. But for those who value personal development and growth, how can you tell which advice needs to be ignored or what is wisdom that you don’t want to miss?

The other day I was driving home from school-pick-up with my daughter. We were discussing the feedback teenage girls tend to give each other. Now if you’ve ever been a teenage girl or spent any time with them, you will know that they are never shy about voicing their observations and issuing critical assessments of each other. My daughter was in the process of deciding how she felt about the most recent piece of feedback. She was just about ready to dismiss the comments as rubbish when I felt a wave of understanding come over me.

I asked her, are these comments only going to effect you temporarily, or could they have a long term impact?

She gave me a strange look, trying to figure out what I was getting at.

So, I reworded it.

#1. Will you care about this feedback in a year or five years time?

Then THAT look came over her face, you know the one, when a penny drops.

If someone says, “You’re too skinny, eat a cheeseburger”(teenage girl talk remember), Or even something nice such as “I like your hair like that” it’s a good chance that you are not going to care about this feedback in a years time. You definitely don’t want to wear your hair the same way everyday for the next year just because some girl at school likes it. You’re not going to start pigging out on cheeseburgers and be glad about it in a years time.

But if someone says, you haven’t practiced enough for our group assignment and we will fail, or you talk too much in class. Then in a years time when your grades are suffering and your teachers aren’t impressed, you may actually regret it. This is feedback that’s worthwhile considering and perhaps even doing something about.

I could give a thousand examples of how adults face similar feedback every day! You must breastfeed, but not in public. Take these supplements and that medication. Wear this, don’t wear that. Eat this, don’t eat that, and do these exercises but not those. Donate to this charity, join that group. Ask yourself, a year from now is there any chance I’m going to wish I considered this advice?

It’s actually a pretty easy question to ask and answer. Acting out how to apply the changes is the tough part, but the realisation that you actually care or don’t care is HUGELY significant to making positive changes.

Remember to give yourselves the freedom to change your mind even if you tried to apply some advice and found it wasn’t right for you. Just because you care about the result doesn’t mean the advice is exactly right for you. Consideration and self-awareness is vital, and a little confidence that you can make changes and steer your course in new ways.

And if that’s still not enough to help guide your decision, some other valid questions to ask yourself are…

#2. Is this going to benefit them at my expense or is this going to actually help me achieve my goals?

In other words, are they getting more out of this advice than me?

If you can assess that there is no hidden agenda and the advice is valid to you, you may have just earned a valuable piece of wisdom and understanding.

And how about this…..

#3. Are the risks worth the rewards?

Every new venture, and every decision leads to consequences, some choices are obviously riskier than others. Before making any drastic changes, weigh up the potential risks and the possible rewards clearly before you proceed. There is great value in simply pondering advice not just reacting to it (usually defensively). Get it straight in your mind before you decide if you should ignore it or if perhaps its right for you.

And finally…

#4. Does it allign with God’s will for me?

No-one else knows the secret conversations you have with God in the dead of a sleepless night. Nor do they know which scriptures God has brought into focus during your search for His will. Only you and God alone know these guideposts to your hearts purpose and path. So checking in with your position of faith is vital before swallowing any advice whole. Seek truth and it will set you FREE! 

So, as you go through life, wading through the deep waters of other peoples ideas and opinions, now you have a simple way to separate the rubbish from the gold.

These gems can reduce suffering, improve living conditions, encourage progress, increase inner peace, develop character, create a legacy and get you a little further along on your crusade towards Serenity!

We don’t want to go through life only ever valuing our own opinions. I’ve had so much terrific advice throughout my life that I’d hate to imagine how my life would be now without it. We always have more to learn and more to purge from the depths of our unconscious soul. To become complacent about needing sound advice could be the riskiest thing you ever do.

Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you.  The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.” Proverbs 4:6-7 NIV

 

 

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!!! 

 

 

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!

 


21/01/2018

Therapy & An Unexpected Result

Posted in Encouragement, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , at 5:22 am by The Water Bearer

One of my clients asked me the other day, “What was the most valuable thing you gained from going to therapy?”

For those of you who don’t know my story, let me just say that I never thought I needed therapy. I thought I could trust my instinctive reactions and emotions, I valued my knowledge and principles. It was only when I had the car accident that my lawyers suggested I go to therapy, to help me regain my confidence on the road as panic attacks had begun to consume my time in the car.

That initial, seemingly isolated prompt, unearthed a deep curiosity, which led to over a decade of therapy. I found so many different perspectives to myself that I had never considered previously, and gained something new from each of a few different therapists.

So when my client asked me this question, in an attempt to better understand her own journey of self-discovery, I didn’t want to be rash, taking a moment to ponder. I have gained so many valuable things from therapy, if you break it all down into each break-through and each level of growth. But the stand out for me personally was so surprising!

Over time, therapy gave me the ability to value my own truth, regardless of how others see it. It gave me sense of belonging to myself that I never expected.. Something Dr Brene Brown talks about often in her research.

Before therapy I had very little tolerance for my own flaws, or the flaws in others. I had developed a system of manipulating myself and my surroundings, to protect myself from a world I had deemed unsafe since childhood. This meant, I not only manipulated others, but I had also managed to deceived myself in the process. The dangers of the world that I wrestled to avoid, were grounded in criticisms and rejections of people who I thought loved each other. I somehow managed to become a chameleon, adapting myself to whoever I was hoping to impress, as a way to protect myself from all possible and painful rejection.

Fear, hidden fear, can pollute our behaviour in so many ways that we are often, completely unaware of. It can cause us to not even know ourselves at all. We’ve all heard that we ‘can not truly love others until we love ourselves’, but how can we love ourselves if we don’t even know ourselves?

I was completely unaware that all these toxic fears and behaviours were hiding inside myself.

Therapy helped me ask myself some tough but honest questions. I began to build a relationship with my true self.

Therapy helped me figure out what was most important to me, which turned out to be, the ability to depend upon the unpolluted Love of my Saviour.  Also, to give more value to how God sees me, than how the world sees me. If it wasn’t for this epiphany, I would not be able to handle the constant stream of misunderstanding and rejection that goes hand in hand with creating anything, presenting it to the world, and realising how little some people actually care about the things that matter most to me.

Sadly attending therapy still carries a stigma, perhaps in my former uneducated days I too thought only “crazy” people needed therapy. But thankfully my understanding has grown, actually so much to the point that I believe therapy should be mandatory for everyone. At least once or twice per year to check-in with yourself. It is far too easy to convince ourselves that we must remain where we are, that needing help of any kind is weakness. My friend, be assured there was nothing weak about my therapy sessions. They were ballsy, vulnerable, courageous, honest, challenging and above all healing! Doing nothing to change an unhealthy or unfulfilled life, looks far more like weakness to me. 

The painful criticisms and disappointments, that come from all human relationships, never lost their sting, but they certainly lost their ability to steer my life towards more dysfunction and self-condemnation. Best of all , when we understand our fears we can overcome them, so that they no longer hold us back from fulfilling our dreams!

 

30/11/2017

Teary Confessions – The Wilderness

Posted in Encouragement, Finding Faith, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , at 5:51 am by The Water Bearer

Do you ever feel as if you just can’t be yourself? Investigating your truth, may threaten to segregate you from society. It can feel like entering the wilderness. And yet sometimes God challenges us to that very place. A place where we must stand in discomfort, with no foreseeable support from the world. Being misunderstood and persecuted, though awfully painful, can have a hugely beneficial result if you learn to trust God completely during these wilderness experiences. Let’s talk about this more in the vid linked below.

 

Please Enjoy!!! … xx

 

 

19/11/2017

But Did You Become Bitter or Better?

Posted in Encouragement, Finding Faith, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , at 10:13 pm by The Water Bearer


“Sometimes your best motivation comes wrapped in sandpaper” – Lisa Nichols

This amazing quote beautifully captures the possibility of turning adversity into the fuel that drives us to become new creations.

When you suffer any form of physical or emotional tribulation it can be far too easy to become bitter and self-destructive, and fall into the trap of a victim mindset.

We can get stuck in a cycle of blaming others for our bitterness, rather than taking accountability for our own choices, and behaviour. This leads to a rut where relationships and lives remain unfulfilled.

Taking accountability means having the guts to look in the mirror and say “I am Bitter, I Am bitter, I AM BITTER and it is toxic, and its no one else’s fault! The actions of others are not excuses for me to continue in my bitterness, for then I am spreading poison to everyone I encounter! I have become part of the problem!”

See by owning up to your bitterness, you earn your license to drive it. Rather than saying “Someone else put me in this car of bitterness and I’ve had no other choice but to crash my bitterness into everyone I meet” which causes you to stay trapped on the road to more unhappiness.

When you gain your license, you can change the course of your destiny, by taking ownership of the direction of your life. You can’t avoid or escape all embittering situations, but you can learn and grow from every trial. Rather than sitting around praying that your life will change and hoping for joy and successful relationships, take Christ at His promise to resurrect and restore you!

Begin to stand and walk in that promise! Because no matter how bad things get here on earth it is only temporary, and no matter what the physical evidence appears to be right now, trust that God has a wonderful plan for your life, if you step into it.

Recognise the way your own bitterness has steered your life towards that pit, and use the promises of God to earn your license to avoid the pitfalls which Inner Enemies set before you. You can use whatever destruction you find yourself in to be the canvas you intend to wipe clean, using self-awareness you can begin to reconstruct the best, happiest version of you!

So how do you wipe your canvas clean through self-awareness?

Firstly stop holding up your ‘innocence’ against the faults you find in others, or comparing your life to the lives of those you assume have had it easier or who you think are ‘luckier’ than you.

Instead at every opportunity ask yourself “what is in my control?” Discovering that only your own actions, your words, your reactions, your choices are in your control. You wipe a section of your canvas clean every time you come face-to-face with your own toxic emotions and excuses, and refuse to let them control you any longer.

When you have the courage and the character to raise your hand and say “That was me, I did that, my bad. I own that poor choice or that bitter reaction.” When we do this without excuses, God can fill our hearts and our lives with His mercy and grace, and set us free from the unhealthy patterns those reactions have trapped us in. It then transforms our reality that being in any relationship is no longer about ‘getting incompetent love’ from others, but in giving love to others. And nothing creates fulfilment like it!

Then we can stop spreading our bitter poison and begin instead to spread Hope, Love, Faith, Truth and Joy!

 

05/11/2017

Defaults & Detours from our Best Self

Posted in Encouragement, Finding Faith, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , at 10:21 am by The Water Bearer

You know when you have those days where the idea of your best-self feels like an impossible dream?

So many ideals about success, happiness and having things “all together” drive the force of our lives,  but there are often so many frustrating obstacles and unexpected detours along that journey.

Let’s dig a little into two desired defaults, wired into us, that, unless we recognise their influence, we may never reach our potential!

The first is Control, defined as “The power to influence or direct people’s behaviour or the course of events.”

Hmmm, how good does that sound? Honestly? It is the setting for every great hero/villain action movie going, the highest demonstration of power and might. A brief scan of how many of our actions are “control based” reveals how prolific this default is. Even hidden beneath the simple action of watching the news or getting insurance. Those of us with faith understand Proverbs 19:21, “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” Yet it doesn’t prevent us from making plans and having an emotional response when they go awry.

No matter how often we surrender control over to God, this beastly default is our constant Inner Enemy. I’ve written before here about our culture of excess control, so check that post out for more factors to consider, but this is where I believe the most violent war is taking place. Inside our own minds!

The second default setting is Indulgence, defined as “To give into a desire.”

I can see us all drooling as the desires of our hearts spring to mind. It’s too easy to be feeling good and ready to celebrate, or bored and lacking motivation, or feeling lousy and need cheering up, when indulgence becomes our default.

We naturally resist and avoid suffering, despite knowing how many profound lessons we learn from discomfort. We crave enlightenment, but do everything in our power to build stability and risk free surroundings. When we break under the reality that we have very little actual control, once our angry reactions pass, indulgence is often our companion of choice. Retail therapy, binge drinking, eating junk, Netflix marathons, gadgets and gatherings, and unrestrained scrolling through social media. Or whatever your particular compulsion dictates.

So many of our frustrations and unhealthy reactions are triggered when our sense of control is threatened, yet through a deep relationship with God and access to the tools found in scripture, we can begin to see amazing changes in ourselves. We begin to attain a new kind of strength, like that of Proverbs 16:32 “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, And he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city.” Perhaps even the idea of our best-self begins to appear closer?

This level of surrender and self-discipline is not something we can force out of our own determined devotion to changing our outsides to appear as we aren’t. Nor it is about never having plans and never having any fun! It is more like a seed planted in the souls of our hearts that begins to bloom and grown from within. It is watered by our close connection and trust in God’s plans, and is pruned by our heartfelt repentance when we know we have gone too far. Our potential becomes unlocked when we develop self-awareness through the graceful lens of the cross, and trust God with the manifestation of our Best-Selves!

 

 

07/10/2017

A Culture Dependant on Pills and Potions (part 2 )

Posted in Encouragement, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , at 7:40 am by The Water Bearer

drugs

Our world has fallen under an onslaught of drugs…. Both illegal and legal we are drowning in them!

The reason we have become such a drug focused planet is because Inner Enemies are out to prevent us from gaining the permanent healthy mind, body and spirit that God has in store for us. Creating ‘easier’ ways to imitate the types of unity, contentment, confidence, joy, purpose, intimacy, that God offers through trials and growth in faith.

See we take Cocaine to give temporary carefree confidence, Ecstasy to imitate unity and euphoria, Heroin to numb emotions and concerns. We take Prozac to try to control our minds and our moods. We take Methamphetamine to give bursts of energy and purpose. We take Ritalin and lithium to quieten and dumb down the busyness of a creative mind. We indulge in alcohol and marijuana to drown out our sorrows and stresses, and to hide from our weaknesses.

Can’t we see how this is all an attempt at emotional crisis control!!!???

In a previous post, I focused on the medical and pharmaceutical industry, and in this post I want to talk more about recreational drugs. This is a very tough post to write because perspectives can come under much scrutiny, when discussing such a controversial topic. I only hope to offer a guide to self-awareness and shine a light on all things that Inner Enemies use to pollute truth.

As I mentioned in that last post, Big Pharma claim to have all the answers to our mental health crisis, watch this link to see how they are cashing in on the truth that the basic human experience is filled with unwanted emotions. They claim it is unhealthy to feel any negative emotions or any pain, rather than looking at life and health through God’s eyes. They have taught us to Band-aid our pain and hide our secret emotional trauma, while skipping the work to discover its origin and lesson.

While the money hungry are cashing in on our desire to avoid suffering. The true path to healing comes from investigating, understanding, and addressing all issues with Godly guidance through personal development and scripture. 

God knew in His wisdom when creating the earth that our bodies would require assistance from external sources to aid us in our earthly walk, and He provided for our every need.

 “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)

He cause the grass to grow for the cattle and herb for the service of man:  that he may bring forth food out of the earth; And wine that make glad the heart of man and oil to make his face to shine. (Psalm 104:14-15)

Yet recognising the weaknesses in our flesh, the problem is that we tend to abuse the things God gave us to use. The key is to use all things with guidance from His spirit…..

Due to the indulgence of drug use in our current culture, it can be easy to label drugs and alcohol as ‘evil’, and for those who have been held in captivity with drug and alcohol abuse, for them the thing is in fact an access point of evil. But for those who have managed to gain and execute self-control will testify that the thing itself is not the evil, it is a test.

Heroine was originally a legal pain reliever, ‘Meth’ was prescribed to alleviate cold and flu symptoms. Alcohol has wide spread uses and benefits, and we are only just beginning to discover the amazing beneficial properties of organic cannabis.

Just as with food or medicine, if indulged upon outside of moderate and reasonable use, the thing that was intended for good and health can actually cause countless issues and become an emotional crutch. 

I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of Itself: but to him that esteem anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.” (Paul: Romans 14:2,3,13,14,17)

Identify an Emotional Crutch

Those who don’t have moderate control over each tonic/food/medicine/addiction may try to deny its hold, but deep down they know.

  • They know if it is the cause of financial strain.
  • They know if it is the cause of relational issues.
  • They know if it the cause of health problems.
  • They know if it is the thing they turn to instead of God in times of distress or trial.
  • Most importantly they know if they are using it with Godly guidance, or if it is an indulgent way to silence the hidden Enemies within.

It has become so easy to blame anything else, rather than accepting the weakness of our own flesh.

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31)

God does not encourage us to live in fear of things, He has tasked us with development of character, by overcoming all that temps us, all that attempts to draw us away from relationship with Him.

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow–not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. (Romans 8:38)

I heard an intriguing quote recently, when one character refused an alcoholic drink offered by the man playing the role of Pastor. The Pastor said:

“Its noble to not drink for sure, but then I never did trust a man who couldn’t trust himself with a drink in his hand.”

This quote beautifully identifies the weakness of the human condition and the power temptation has over us.

If we refuse pain relief during a genuine emergency, because we can not trust ourselves to stop taking the pain relief when we no longer need it, does that mean that the medicine is the problem?

If we refuse to attend a wedding or celebration because we know alcohol will be drank and we can’t trust ourselves not to get plastered, is alcohol the problem?

I am not found in the camp supporting our cultures relationship with alcohol, nor am I found opposing and condemning all alcohol use…. I am saying USE is not always ABUSE.

It is, at the core, a show of the weaknesses in our character when we can’t be trusted to gain relief from tonics in appropriate times. It is a show of weakness in character if we refuse all tonics because we blame them for our lack of control.

Lets look at some of the places where drinking wine and spirits in merriment and for medical reasons is supported in the scriptures….. Id like to think we can do so without losing context..

“Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do.” (Ecclesiastes 9:7)

Once again I reiterate, self-awareness lets us know if we use anything in accordance with God’s guidance, or if we are not trustworthy. Keeping in mind how easily we can deceive ourselves. 

Paul guided Timothy to ease his stomach issues and I can testify that God has given me the same instructions and the same relief. Now this is not suggesting to go drink two bottles and get plastered, but a little certainly helped. Praise Him He knows!

“Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.” (1 Timothy 5:23)

For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving.” (1 Timothy 4:4)

And as you can see they are not only given as guidance for medicine…..

This following scripture relates to a time of celebration after bringing tithe and offering to God, after obeying Him and being blessed abundantly……

“Use the silver to buy whatever you like: cattle, sheep, wine or other fermented drink, or anything you wish. Then you and your household shall eat there in the presence of the LORD your God and rejoice.” (Deuteronomy 14:26)

This might be tough, but ask yourself… Are your celebrations are about rejoicing under the righteous gaze of God’s presence? Ask… Are there are parts of your celebrations that may offend Him?

Suffer Along Side Your Brother in Christ

Any abuse is toxic and has toxic results. We must learn to identify where using is not the same as abusing. We must seek Strength from our Saviour and not allow ourselves to be deceived by our inner enemies excuses. 

For those with the faith to understand these things, it is vital when in the company of those who feel it is a sin, to support them. It would be irresponsible to partake in anything in the company of someone who finds it as a personal weakness. Evidence of your strength of faith in that area may cause them to become relaxed about their weakness.

In other words- If you are spending time with someone who has an eating disorder, common sense would advise not to order the double choc cream doughnut and a can of coke and proceed to consume it in front of them. Just because the law dictates that genetically modified foods, saturated in sugar, and other toxic chemicals are permitted, doesn’t mean that these are in alignment with the nourishment God intended.

Therefore we can abstain from these things if they are to cause a sibling to stumble and sin….. 

If refusing tonics helps a companion avoid behaviours they are attempting to overcome, then in support we too avoid tonics while in their company. In the hope that they may find faith and develop character. For our freedom over addiction and freedom above the weakness of the tonic, is not reason to encourage another to feel free in this before they have developed the level of faith to overcome these things.

Be careful, however, that your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak.” (1 Corinthians 8:9)

 It is extremely precarious to manage these issues in context, making sure that nothing else may take His rightful place on the thrones of our hearts.

God gave us the intelligence and awareness to work out how these things effect us for good and bad, and Inner Enemies have used this knowledge to hide the true purpose of all things. Its vital to dig deeply into the painful depths within us and ask ourselves what am I running from? What character flaw can I face and overcome? What promises am I not living in? Let us not be deceived, the evil is not in the ‘things’ of this world… the evil is in us.

02/09/2017

Religion Vs Relationship

Posted in Encouragement, Finding Faith, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 8:17 am by The Water Bearer

People Often Misjudge

I can hear the whispers, whispers from people who think they once knew me. Now that I have begun sharing my faith in a more public forum, the whispers are hovering… “She’s changed, She’s gone all religious!”

I understand that those who never really knew me may think that I must have turned some huge corner in my set of beliefs, because I’ve never looked like your average “Christian” on the outside. I’m far too open about my brokenness, my flaws are too boisterous to be hidden away. I am much too concerned about breaking curses inside, than focusing on a mask of goodness on the outside. I try to live in the freedom of authenticity, fully aware of my lack of perfection.

The truth is, I’ve held the same beliefs for my entire life. My first prayer was answered when I was 8 years old, and I have felt a unique connection to God ever since. The reason I may not look or act like your stereotypical “Christian” may be because my faith was never nurtured in a church environment, so I find it quite bizarre, that I am now the founder of an incredible Scripture-Based Wellness program like Sanctuary Stretch!

To be completely honest, I like being called religious about as much as most people like being called “sinners”. In fact I prefer admitting myself as a sinner, far more than religious or even Christian. I have plenty of faith and devotion, Im just put off by the picture that those words conjure up. Religion did a real number on me, my family and many of my loved ones, and probably many of yours too. In my history, to be called religious was the biggest insult going. It deemed you unfit for human interaction, it exiled you from your family and labeled you crazy! 

The word ‘Heretic’ is probably closer to the right title for me. Now before you go grab your torch and pitchfork, hear me out. A heretic is someone who strongly opposes an established belief. Therefore, if the established belief is that you must look perfect on the outside, and go to a particular church regularly, and walk, talk and act like all others in that church, in order to be saved, then yes I strongly oppose!

Obviously not everyone in Christian circles are guilty of promoting this belief, many are genuine and humble, they accept that God is working with everyone everywhere. But even still, as a whole, ‘playing God’ and misjudgment is rife and much damage has been done.

1 Samuel 16:7 “The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Inauthentic Connections

We are biologically designed to search for a place where we fit. A community. A tribe. We’re easily tempted to change our outsides to fit in with a particular group, rather than to stand in authenticity and risk being rejected or ridiculed. I always felt like a round peg looking for a place to fit, but everywhere I went I found people who inflicted guilt trips in order to shave a bit off me here and there to get me to fit into their square hole. A relationship with God can not be forced, coerced or manipulated, just as with any genuine relationship. It grows in our hearts as we engage transparently, more and more, which is a very difficult thing for humans to assess from the outside.

Guilt is a powerful tool to promote conformity, but the desire for external acceptance often causes us to miss the whole point of faith entirely. We were all made with extreme diversity. Billions of humans designed to be unique and complex, to have different experiences and hearts that soften under different circumstances, can not, and should not have to be all on the exact same narrow path in order to experience a true relationship with their creator. Thinking this way only promotes disingenuous mindlessness, following the herd, which scarily only pushes our flaws deeper within, where they can fester and poison us even further, and then threaten future generations dramatically.

The even scarier part is that when we have perfected our mask, and found a tribe that accepts us, we no longer desperately need a Saviour. Our relationship with God then also lacks the authenticity vital for changing our hearts.

He Came For The Broken

So if I am not “religious” why am I promoting faith? And what kind of faith am I promoting?

My faith walk has not consisted of sitting in a comfy church chair, with a neatly pressed suit, and the fruits of the spirit on show for all to see. My walk has been more like a bloopers reel. From the outside you would have seen, a terrified thumb-sucker, who grew to dabble with drugs and promiscuity for ‘tribe’ approval. A teen mum with a hideous emotionally manipulative nature. A young Mum involved in a car accident that wiped out my ability to function and achieve, taking my self-worth along for the ride, leaving me injured, anxious, depressed and battling sucidal thoughts. I’ve had numerous health concerns, panic attacks and car phobia, I’ve been dependant on countless prescription drugs and always been more comfortable around a pool table than a pulpit. Pretty much my entire faith walk has consisted of me wrestling with inner enemies, falling flat on my face, turning my heart towards Christ for His guidance and abundant Grace and being set on my feet over and over and over again.

Along this journey it may have appeared that I was far from God, and far from saved, but I can assure you that God made His awesome presence felt every single step of the way. My relationship with Him grew as my faith did, I came to depend on Him a little more, and a little more. Each time I fell was a chance to give Him more and more control over my heart and my life. He never once let me down! Every inch of suffering on that road has been filled with intention and meaning. SLOWLY refining me, as is still the case!

I have come across many people in this life, who feel far too broken to put themselves in the firing line of a religious group. Those unwilling and unable to pretend they have the fruits of the spirit flowing from every orifice. I can testify that I actually FELT the fruits of the spirits being developed and experienced inside of me, long before anyone else could see them on the outside. God knows, Men don’t!

Breaking the Myth

Somewhere along the way a myth began to surface in Christian circles, that being ‘saved’ is an attractive process. We conjure up pictures of saints volunteering their time to a worthy cause with no thought for self, we picture hands raised in worship and wide smiles on faces. We picture sanity, health and prosperity, and a multitude of Christian Brothers and Sisters united in compassion and joy. We picture political correctness and perfect manners. Truth be told, the process of becoming ‘reborn’ requires complete destruction and then reconstruction, a public death accompanied with humiliation. It is a life long marathon, not a sprint. It can not be rushed. It is never a pretty sight to become desperate for God to do a work in us. Hungering and thirsting for the Word is born from intense periods of the inner war.  God is thorough if nothing else, He is not willing for us to just sit the test, He wants us to get an A+. Which of course means being tested and tested and tested again. Each time, a new level of self-deception is revealed and a new piece of truth replaces it.

And lets not kid ourselves into thinking for one minute that once we have turned our own hearts inside out and had them purified that we are going to look all shiny and new. Absolutely not, we then begin interceding for the generational curses in our families, and after that we carry the yoke of our ministries and communities. As long as we walk this earth we have more purging to be done.

A Place to Fit

The reason I have such a passion to now share my experiences of faith in such a public way, is because everyone deserves a little encouragement to turn their hearts to God. It’s far from an easy road and trying to overcome the obsticles of life without God is something I wouldn’t want to inflict on anyone. Its one thing to be separated from God because we chose that in our hearts, but its an entirely different ball of wax to feel separated from God because we are too broken to pretend we aren’t broken. Or battling too many inner enemies to worry about how offensive our external smoke-screen is. Or put off by religiosity and misjudgment.

Intimacy with God is personal, private, and often painful. But it is only with His strength that we get through it and come out a little better each time. My hope is that no matter where you are on your faith walk, you feel the need to take time out from distractions and expectations, to turn your hearts to Him and enter God’s presence. That is what Sanctuary Stretch hopes to encourage. Whether you are needing to fill your cup in order to pour into the lives of others going through trials, or if you need your cup filling because you are being emptied daily by your own trials.

All can benefit from a true intimate relationship with God, if they are willing.

Romans 10:13 “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

 

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