07/03/2017

Are you Stuck at the Doorway?

Posted in Encouragement, Finding Faith, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , at 9:51 am by The Water Bearer

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One of the most frustrating forms of attack that we’ve all seen far too often, is when our Inner Enemies use our thoughts to keep us stuck at the doorway of our potential.

When life gets tough it is giving us a nudge to want to leave our situation. Some of us even head for the door, towards a change, towards healing, towards growth. Yet that pivotal step across the threshold gets harder and harder the longer we have been stuck there.

The lack of comfort in our current circumstances becomes at least a discomfort that we know, we are familiar with its curves and edges. Sometimes we can even see around its corners and prepare ourselves for any foreseeable issues that lie in wait. But that vital step across the threshold, through the doorway into change, has nothing familiar to it, nothing to smooth out the knots of the unknown that cripple us from within.

We then become victims trapped by our own choice, and those choices are governed by our thoughts and our fear. Fear that reminds us of previous pains, and regrets, which we are now avidly on the look out for, in order to avoid repetition.

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Statistics show that there are 3 common traits found in those who experience successful steps across that threshold… Steps towards recovery and wellness. Recovery from addiction, from injury, from illness both physical and psychological, from trauma and tragedy. These traits are grounded in Faith.

Trait 1 – A DESIRE to be WELL.

As previously noted, once we have become so used to our struggle, our inner enemies convince us to choose it, rather than the effort needed to pursue wellness. Our desire shifts in favour of the sympathy generated by our sad stories. We have all met that person who, no matter how many different pieces of good advice you give, to help them out of their troubles, they have talked themselves out of each suggestion before even considering it. This particular inner enemy enjoys any attention it receives, the pity, and the seductive quality of unloading emotional baggage onto anyone who will give an ear. It is a trap that so many of us fall prey to and we owe it to ourselves and also our loved ones to ask ourselves ‘whether or not we actually desire to be well? And are we willing to go make the changes needed to get it?’. We must accept that suffering is supposed to prompt that urge to head for the doorway of change. By faith we understand this process, we recognise that suffering is par for the course and was even experienced by our own Precious Saviour. Faith gives us the desire to trust this divine process.

Trait 2 – DETERMINATION to get WELL

Faith gives us access to Godly ammunition, and the weapons of Heaven. We must remember that every time we are faced with a choice that takes us to the doorway, we come under attack of fear. We fear the choice required to take that leap into the unknown, we fear the outcome. This is the intention of our inner enemies to keep us from stepping out in Trust. However when we apply and rely upon those weapons of Heaven that are available to us through God’s Word, our determination becomes empowered. We recognise the war, and refuse to allow these enemies to win out. For those unable to accept this war, they forever remain caught in that place of defeat, and a defeatist attitude is toxic to growth and blessings. God has promised to give us His tenacity, when we lean on Him and His strength, and not on ourselves.

Trait 3 – EXPECTATION to be WELL

“Faith is the substance of things hoped for; and the evidence of things unseen” Hebrews 11:1. As we make each step towards each new doorway, it is vital that we recognise where our focus is placed. If we keep our focus on the past and our disappointments, on our regrets and our shame, on our pain and betrayals, then we begin to lose sight of the abundant blessings God has promised us. Our inner enemies know that if we stay stressed, distracted and disconnected, we will never engage in the fight against them. We will expect defeat and there they have us trapped. Yet when we meditate on the Promises in God’s Word to bless us, to help us and to give us peace, our expectations change and we become hopeful, encouraged to put on our Godly armour and keep stepping towards the door to wellness, and eventually through it!

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The doorway is waiting, we are well aware that it is there. Will we choose the easier option and wallow in our despair? Will we avoid that threshold into potential? Or will we make a decision today to see the war clearly, to accept the journey towards wellness and to put all our expectations on God? To give Him the power to turn our Tests into Testimonies! And our Trials into Triumphs!

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!

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22/07/2015

Ignorant Chaos

Posted in Finding Faith, General, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , at 9:48 am by The Water Bearer

Lucy

I watched the blockbuster “Lucy” some time back and enjoyed it immensely. Some of the quotes that came out of it were extremely profound. I will have to do a bit of research to capture all of them but one in particular stood out to me. It was spoken by the main character Lucy, who was unlocking areas of her brain no human had used before. The quote came prompted by Morgan Freeman’s character who stated.. “All this knowledge, Lucy — I’m not even sure that mankind is ready for it. Given man’s nature, it might bring us only instability and chaos.” to which Lucy replies….

“Ignorance brings chaos, not knowledge.”

This quote sits heavily upon me as I look back throughout my life. I recall the many previous ignorant versions of myself that lacked knowledge in certain situations and the chaos that surrounded me. I lived in a perpetual state between insecure co-dependance and arrogant self-righteousness.

While I struggle with arrogance and ignorance from time to time, I have become overwhelmingly grateful for the knowledge that came from each new learning experience and each mentor, helping my life transform to a much more peaceful one. A life where I can accept my short comings and hunger for strength of mind. Learning not only about the world systems, but the spiritual ones and learning about myself and experiencing the unknown.

While I appreciate all this learning, and the ability to research any topic my heart or mind desires, I am aware that there are many who actually avoid knowledge. Some dismiss it, ignore it, some even defend against it.

The scriptures gives us clear guidance towards wisdom.

Proverbs 2:10-11  for wisdom will come into your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul; discretion will watch over you, understanding will guard you.

If ignorance brings chaos, not knowledge, is it likely then, that those who reject knowledge, are simply too used to their chaos to want to change it?

I am certain the inner enemy of pride is at play here, by discouraging submission to the wisdom of others, confusing our compass so we choose to dismiss knowledge mistaking it for merely one persons opinion. I admit this form of pride has played its role in my life, how about yours?

I think a major key to receiving learning, is being able to tell the difference between an opinion and knowledge. It is respectful to hear opinions and accept everyone’s right to have their own, and it is also perfectly acceptable to avoid applying opinions you disagree with, but knowledge isn’t an opinion. We must learn to discern where knowledge differs and see the value in it.

Another key to receiving learning is having the humility to be teachable, knowing that as long as we are confined to our earthly walk we will always have something to learn. That even if we know a subject inside and out, there is still the possibility to discover something new about it. I admit it is hard to keep a teachable spirit. It is much easier to stay in one spot, tell yourself you have done enough, you can handle where you are, and not pursue the hard work of change.

Asking the hard questions and being willing to change can be daunting and a long process, however nothing quite compares to looking at yourself after a while and saying “Wow, I have grown. I am different, I am better. How awesome!” It makes the hard work truly worth it.

Knowledge

25/02/2014

Who is Really in the Mirror?

Posted in Encouragement, Finding Faith, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , at 11:05 am by The Water Bearer

One thing I have found to be a true blessing, along with spiritual faith, is self-awareness. It is one of the most important things we need to achieve growth and inner peace in this life, and something I write about often.

I have lately been thinking about those who may not have as much self-awareness as others, about those people who haven’t changed much over the years, and are still stuck in the same old patterns they have always been.

I read a little something recently, it said:

“If you are the same person, with the same perspective you had a decade ago; then you have just wasted ten years of your life!”

Before I gained some Godly self-awareness, I thought I was self-aware. I thought I was a ‘good person’. I prided myself on having good intentions and wisdom. My heart was in the right place (or so I thought), I knew the difference between right and wrong (or so I thought), and I was a good friend and family member (or so I thought).

Back then I had no regrets, I had no lingering, self-conscious guilt, because I always had a very good explanation for my actions. It was usually something like, “I meant well”, “I felt ….”, “I’m only human”, or “I had no choice” (because of what someone else did first).

I had little or no remorse for my own actions, (unless of course I got hurt in the fallout). I never set out to hurt anyone,  and if I did hurt someone else, I found a way to believe I was right, and that made it ok with me. I saw no reason to change, I was onto it (or so I thought). I used my excuses, and understanding to stay in my own spiraling cycle.

When I became aware of how God saw things, it smacked me in the face and it hurt!

I was SELFISH! I saw things from my way and didn’t consider that perhaps there was a better way. Sure I was always rushing to help people, I was thoughtful and did kind deeds all the time. I tried to find ways to show my affection for others so that they would know how much I thought of them. But I didn’t realise that I was really only doing it to be seen as a good person, not because I was actually a good person. I couldn’t admit the truth to myself so I figured all the trials of life were not lessons I had to learn, just tests to see if I was strong enough and if I could keep my faith through them.

Life will do it’s best to help us become aware of ourselves, and if we stop avoiding it we will be amazed by the realisation. And while it is a challenge to work hard and break the cycles you have been stuck in your whole life, it is definately worth it.

In a recent therapy session we were discussing the downfalls of having no self-awareness. My therapist put it this way “If you don’t regret your actions that affected yourself or others in a negative way, then you avoid the reasoning to need to repair the situation, and refuse to take a realistic look at yourself and make necessary changes.” In other words, these people can’t apologise without explaining why they aren’t really to blame, and they don’t see the need to alter the way they handle things.

He also said that “People who excuse their own actions and don’t own up to the pain they caused another, will continue to hurt others and will usually end up very lonely, they will also wonder why”.

How sad is that! Out of a lack of self-awareness we can damage our relationships so badly, and some will never find the inner peace of growth, or a new perspective and the truth about themselves. It may leave them without a clue as to why they feel isolated from others. We can easily blame everyone else yet we refuse to accept blame ourselves, it would simply be more productive if we swallowed our pride and took a good look in the mirror. That is the only area of our lives that we can bring about a true transformation.

The serenity prayer is one commonly found in households all over the world. It aims to tackle this self-awareness problem. We need the courage to face ourselves head on, to see the truth about ourselves and make the adjustments necessary to bring about a change in our lives, one we will never regret.

“God, Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”

09/04/2013

The Weight of Change*

Posted in Encouragement, Finding Faith, Musings, Self-Awareness, Teen Trials tagged , , , , , , , at 8:08 am by The Water Bearer

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A lot is changing in my neck of the woods of late. Much of it I knew was coming in advance and it grew like storm clouds in the distance, looming and grey, with the possibility to bring either destruction or renewed freshness of life.

It has been a strange couple of months adjusting to each change as it tacked itself onto the growing cloud, and the upheaval of emotions brought with each new turn. Even though I am aware of the effect these changes are having on me, I have been trying my best to stay balanced. Trying to be aware of my sensitivity to the friction and fear that are close acquaintances of the unknown. Trying to hold myself in, keeping tight grip on the emotions that are brimming up inside me, but to be honest I have been failing much of the time.

As I read my older posts, I know I have had a true sense of peace at various points over recent months. Yet at the moment, the concept that I can get back there anytime soon is not tangible enough to calm me. I accept that so many changes are bound to cause unpleasant reactions to slip out and I have been endeavoring to demonstrate some self-compassion. Not very successfully, but still, I am trying.

When life gets many bursts of change all at once it can take on a manic appearance, and mania is an old foe of mine. I have had too many encounters with manic episodes to trust myself in its presence. I have a true deep affection for people in general, I love engaging and connection, but even so, I have come to learn over the years that I am not good at being around other manic people. Not for long anyway. I am too easily influenced by the emotions expressed by others, they add onto my own dysfunction. It is unhealthy for me to spend too much time with someone else’s mania, which I have no ability to calm or control.

So, as changes come thick and fast, the faster time seems to pass, not enough time to regroup my thoughts and get a grip, and it’s nearly impossible to slow my thoughts enough to seek God before I act upon them.

I have been hit with a condition that has had me bed ridden for almost 2 weeks. My Iron levels dropped so low that I could barely stand for more than a few seconds. I have had to watch and cope with all the pending changes from a horizontal position. You would think resting in bed for two weeks would encourage time to slow down, but feeling useless only added to the upheaval I have been battling with. Those enemies of friction and fear were not appeased in the slightest. The weight is still building on my shoulders.

So I guess this is my prayer request, in Yeshua’s Name:- That I stop trying to maintain control over things God is obviously trying to change, because they may be the keys to changes I have been asking Him to bring about within me. To have a subconscious level of trust in His plan. To recognise the stirring of mania as an opportunity to faithfully hand all my cares into His capable hands.

Your prayers are greatly appreciated…..

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25/01/2013

Healing the Insecurity

Posted in Encouragement, Family, Finding Faith, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , at 8:53 am by The Water Bearer

I read this excellent post “Rejecting Rejection” recently and it was exactly what I needed to read. I have been working on my insecurities for well over a decade, from when I first began to let God have a hand in my life. It is not an easy thing to overcome, as the linked post explains, there are many facets to insecurity, such as shame, self-loathing, fear, anxiety, control issues; the list goes on. Even after many years of therapy I am still becoming aware of ways that my insecurities either hold me back from fulfilling my potential, or cause reactions that are not positive or healthy.

Lately I have become addicted to the website TED: Ideas worth spreading, and am intent on developing my ability to create, despite my insecurities. The talks shared on this site are one way to help me tackle this issue. Brené Brown has become somewhat of a mentor for me, as her research is some of the most incredibly accurate and insightful collection of perspectives I have ever come across. Due to the some 8 million hits her talks on TED have received, I know I am not the only one who can relate to her specific discoveries about connection, shame, vulnerability, and all the aspects of these things. Especially, how vulnerability is the birth place of creativity and innovation.

The post I have linked to at the beginning, mentions that “Rejected people, reject people” I can testify to the fact that rejected people become defensive people, as a direct result of their insecurities. We become so used to fighting for our right to exist and to be loved & accepted, that we form habits of guarded defensiveness. We are so used to shooting down those who we perceive are attacking us, that those close to us often get shot with friendly fire. I know that this is at the forefront of my issues with my own children and family members, not in obvious conscious or shocking ways, but in subtle, hard to recognise ways. I am getting better with each day that I stay aware, that I repair, that I pursue growth and change.

However, My biggest concern is that the damage may already be done.

What if, through my own defensive reactions of rejection, I have caused my children to also feel rejected? And if so, are they now destined to follow in my footsteps of insecurity and a life filled with shame, fear, anxiety and defensiveness? There has to be a way to break this cycle.

I must accept that this is possible, and if so, God has to be where I send them, I admit to them that I fall short, and so God needs to be their source of security, not me. I am flawed, I am damaged, I can not be all that they need me to be. I have promised them that I will always try to be there for them, even if I am broken. That, even when my reactions make them doubt it, I love them more than they could know. I apologise sincerely, each time I become aware of another possible rejection. I stay in therapy and stay honest, I pursue healing at every opportunity. I pray …a LOT!

The quote above goes on to say “Rejected people, reject people. Healed people, heal people.” So while I can accept that I am not quite there, I am not completely healed yet, I can not hit pause as a mother and hit play again when I am healed. I must keep working on myself and be a parent at the same time, and that is a scary thought for me. I often feel as if I am doing more damage than good. I imagine that thought would be enough to break even the strongest of people, let alone someone battling fear, anxiety and shame.

And then I remember Him…..

I realise that my Heavenly Father has my children in His loving arms, that I can only do my best and His might will cover the rest. That His design has brought me to this place, to who I am right now, and that His design put me in the role of their Mum. Perhaps as a driving force for me to desperately pursue His healing love.

I had a breakthrough in therapy this week, as usual it followed another recent breakdown. I will explain more about that in a future post, but for now, I like the concept of rejecting rejection… Another step on the journey towards healing…. And that is it, isn’t it! One step after the other. The pursuit of healing and destiny.

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06/07/2012

I’m Changing My Mind Because I Can*

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

19/06/2012

Who is really in the mirror?*

Posted in Encouragement, General, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 7:10 pm by The Water Bearer

I read a post recently by a fabulous writer who I have found in the blogosphere. Author Jodi Ambrose was talking about her recent birthday and reflected on her youth by listing her traits at 20 years old. You can read her excellent blog post ­here. I enjoyed Jodi’s blog so much that we began exchanging comments. One thing we have both found to be a true blessing, along with spiritual faith, is self-awareness. It is one of the most important things we need to achieve growth and inner peace in this life, and something I write about often.

After our little ‘comment swap’ I began to think about those who may not have as much self-awareness as others. It got me thinking about those people who haven’t changed much over the years, and are still stuck in the same old patterns they have always been.

I read a little something recently, it said:

“If you are the same person, with the same perspective you had a decade ago; then you have just wasted ten years of your life!”

Before I gained some Godly self-awareness, I thought I was self-aware. I thought I was a ‘good person’. I prided myself on having good intentions and wisdom. My heart was in the right place (or so I thought), I knew the difference between right and wrong (or so I thought), and I was a good friend and family member (or so I thought).

Back then I had no regrets, I had no lingering, self-conscious guilt, because I always had a very good explanation for my actions. It was usually something like, “I meant well”, “I felt ….”, “I’m only human”, or “I had no choice” (because of what someone else did first).

I had little or no remorse for my own actions, (unless of course I got hurt in the fallout). I never set out to hurt anyone,  and if I did hurt someone else, I found a way to believe I was right, and that made it ok with me. I saw no reason to change, I was onto it (or so I thought). I used my excuses, and understanding to stay in my own spiraling cycle.

When I became aware of how God saw things, it smacked me in the face and it hurt!

I was SELFISH! I saw things from my way and didn’t consider that perhaps there was a better way. Sure I was always rushing to help people, I was thoughtful and did kind deeds all the time. I tried to find ways to show my affection for others so that they would know how much I thought of them. But I didn’t realise that I was really only doing it to be seen as a good person, not because I was actually a good person. I couldn’t admit the truth to myself so I figured all the trials of life were not lessons I had to learn, just tests to see if I was strong enough and if I could keep my faith through them.

Life will do it’s best to help us become aware of ourselves, and if we stop avoiding it we will be amazed by the realisation. And while it is a challenge to work hard and break the cycles you have been stuck in your whole life, it is definately worth it.

In a recent therapy session we were discussing the downfalls of having no self-awareness. My therapist put it this way “If you don’t regret your actions that affected yourself or others in a negative way, then you avoid the reasoning to need to repair the situation, and refuse to take a realistic look at yourself and make necessary changes.” In other words, these people can’t apologise without explaining why they aren’t really to blame, and they don’t see the need to alter the way they handle things.

He also said that “People who excuse their own actions and don’t own up to the pain they caused another, will continue to hurt others and will usually end up very lonely, they will also wonder why”.

How sad is that! Out of a lack of self-awareness we can damage our relationships so badly, and some will never find the inner peace of growth, or a new perspective and the truth about themselves. It may leave them without a clue as to why they feel isolated from others. We can easily blame everyone else yet we refuse to accept blame ourselves, it would simply be more productive if we swallowed our pride and took a good look in the mirror. That is the only area of our lives that we can bring about a true transformation.

The serenity prayer is one commonly found in households all over the world. It aims to tackle this self-awareness problem. We need the courage to face ourselves head on, to see the truth about ourselves and make the adjustments necessary to bring about a change in our lives, one we will never regret.

“God, Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”

05/06/2012

Less Tantrums, More Love!*

Posted in Encouragement, Family, Finding Faith, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 7:55 am by The Water Bearer

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In my post Discipline + Trust = Love I promised I would follow on with the story of my adult tantrums and how a changed perspective helped me enjoy many benefits in my relationships.

In my early relationships I was a manipulative, critical, conceited, control freak; unable to identify love at all. I allowed my emotions to control my actions, and used them as excuses to blackmail the people I thought I loved.

I had grown up believing with all my heart that I knew love because I felt it so intensely.

After I learned a bit of Godly self-awareness, I came to realise that what I felt so intensely wasn’t love at all; it was desire, obsession, jealousy, fear, and a lack of self-worth. I had held onto the belief that I deserved ‘the best and should never settle for anything less, which gave me the sky as the limit for my expectations. Let’s just say that was a recipe for disaster!

How many of us grew up believing in movie love? As a child my favourite game was ‘grown-ups’. I would create the perfect imaginary life, perfect job, perfect husband, and perfect baby. I could have it all my own way and be completely happy. Of course reality hit like a brick!

Have you ever made a meal for someone special, rushed to make it extraordinary and watched the clock in anticipation of the perfect evening of dining and romance, only to watch it tick past the arranged time by over an hour? The first ten minutes were about as much as I could take before I began wavering back and too between anger and panic. By the time that special someone got a foot in the door I would be so worked up, I would be in his face demanding an explanation for his complete ignorance to my feelings!.…Am I alone in this?

It would usually go something like this….

“What time do you call this? Where were you? Can’t you read the time? Have your fingers fallen off so you can’t dial a @$#%ing number? Don’t worry about me! NO! I wasn’t just slaving away to make you a nice meal only to have it ruined, was I? I have been sitting here for over an hour, waiting for you, worried something may have happened to you! Obviously you weren’t even thinking of me! Am I wasting my time here? What else can I think except that you simply don’t give a @#$%! I deserve better than THIS! ARGH!”

I can’t believe I thought this reaction would bring about the response I desired from him …“Baby, I am so sorry that you felt that way, I love you so much, I will never do that to you again I promise!” Rush to me, hold me, kiss me and thank me for being so loving…End scene!

I am so grateful that I no longer believe that is love! Why would anyone rush home to that?!

The Bible describes love this way ‘Love is never tired of waiting; love is kind; love has no envy; love has no high opinion of itself, love has no pride; Love’s ways are ever fair, it takes no thought for itself; it is not quickly made angry, it takes no account of evil; It takes no pleasure in wrongdoing, but has joy in what is true; Love has the power of undergoing all things, having faith in all things, hoping all things. (1 Cor 13:4-7 (BBE))

When my Dad first showed me that scripture in context, it was difficult for me to read and almost impossible to believe, but once I began to accept God’s design over my life and submitted to His ways, I saw how far from a loving person I was. The reality of my actions crushed me, it was as if all that I thought I knew was wrong! I cried out to God for the ability to understand love and to change.

Then came my first new perspective, I thought perhaps I should treat the man in my life as I do my friends, friends who I want to show love to, friends who I respect and treat well. A friends love is believed, because they are free to love me or not, rather than expected to. If a friend was late for dinner I would give them grace, so why not him?

I took some time to try and learn to depend on God for His love and fulfillment, and when I began dating my husband, I would do my best to greet him with a smile even when he was late and I prayed away the anger that rose in me, to stop my inner enemies exploding in his face when he didn’t meet my expectations.

A number of years ago someone asked me why I was ok with my husband going out whenever he wants, without getting upset and making him stay home more? His job was in a social environment and there was always something to do with people after work.

My reply to her was an epiphany that I have used as an anchor, to remind me of my true beliefs whenever I become too controlling in my relationship. I replied “I would rather he be home one night a year because he really wants to, than be home every night because I forced him to.” I gave myself low expectations and this helped me cope with any emotionally controlling behaviour. I would rather know that he wants to be with me more than he HAS to! I also began to trust that if God wanted him to be the man for me, then he would be! And if he wasn’t meant to be then I was never going to be able to change God’s reasons for that! I had to let go and let God have his way.

Having less or no expectations changes our perspective. Perspective is everything!

Here’s another little example of how a changed perspective brought me much joy. This recent Valentine’s Day, which we hardly ever celebrate, I wasn’t expecting anything, no gifts, no romantic date, nothing. I woke up to a tickle under my foot from the man I love, I opened my eyes to look into his and heard him say “Happy Valentine’s Day Sweetheart” After so many years together, to still be rubbing our feet together under the sheets was the most wonderful feeling in the world! To hear him call me ‘Sweetheart’, and let me know I was his Valentine was almost too much joy! (I have happy tears in my eyes as I recall it!)

I still have to work hard at being the best version of myself as possible, to try to show love through acceptance and grace, instead of demanding it with blackmail and complaining. I go through good runs and bad, (once a month is especially hard, around pregnancy was particularly hard, after my car accident was downright ridiculous!). However I continue to try, to be self-aware and try to look at things with a Godly perspective. I have noticed that it is much easier to be loving to those around me when I am in close unity with God, and much harder when I drift away from Him.

I praise and thank God every day that He gave me the opportunity to become aware of myself and my unloving actions, and that in His mercy He saw fit to help me make changes to be more genuinely loving. Amen!

If your inner enemies are preventing you from feeling, giving or understanding love, I recommend you too call out to God for a new, loving, perspective. It will bring about a change you never thought possible!

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