11/07/2016

Alterations by Grace not by Law

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

argue

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

However God is Love!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

law vs grace

 

 

 

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02/10/2015

A Need for Connection

Posted in Encouragement, Finding Faith, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , at 10:23 am by The Water Bearer

dont care

 

We’ve all heard people claim “I don’t care what anyone thinks” and for those of you like me, perhaps this seems a far off concept, one we are encouraged to strive for. Getting to the point where we don’t care what others think seems impossible. I have always cared, deeply. So much so, that for much of my life I believed I needed to be malleable, that I needed to change myself to be what everyone else told me I should be. I spent so much time hopping from one foot to the other unsure of who I was, depending on who I was with. I assumed that if I somehow met their expectations then they would have to approve of me. I tripped over myself trying to ensure no one held ill feelings towards me. I pursued those who had gripes, finding anyway I could to defend myself and convince them that I was worthy of their approval.  It is one thing to try and be at peace with all men, and another thing entirely to need the approval of all men. Through therapy I came to understand much of this was due to my hidden insecurity and once I began to believe in my own worth I began to take a much different approach.

When I look back at that girl I see many differences. I no longer see someone who is willing to change herself at the whim of others, I no longer see someone who needs to chase down everyone who condemns my faults and has unreasonable expectations of me. In fact these days I quite simply stay away and allow them to think whatever they like. However, I still and always will pursue change. Changes that I see as valuable, and changes that God has impressed upon my heart, I hope to always be malleable in my Lord’s hands.

During these changes, I have come to realise that the statement “I don’t care what anyone thinks”, is somewhat false, hence the reason it seems impossible. We all care….We might not let them know we care, we might not chase them, we might not change for them, but to be misjudged, misunderstood and lose connection still hurts, it still bothers us, we still care.

I started to get some insight into this recently, after I dug deeper into the question “why do we all care?”. A little epiphany came after praying on this, that the reason we all care is because we are all made in the image of God, and Our Heavenly Father IS LOVE. Perfect, pure, righteous LOVE. Love that intense has an unwavering need for connection with others. It is why He created all beings. Another thing I have come to understand as I have grown in my relationship with God is that because He is LOVE that makes Him a giant throbbing HEART. When we say our heart has broken we understand it as painful, for Him it is multiplied 100 fold. The pain of being disconnected from us was the catalyst for His reasoning to send His Son to reunite us to Him. I bet He suffered excruciating pain when that first bite of forbidden fruit was taken, when the enemy first severed the connection between Him and us, His children. I bet the pain He felt when Lucifer turned was beyond words unbearable.

The spirit of our Heavenly Father is inside every single one of us, it is the thing that levels every human being as equals, whether we recognize it, admit it, believe it or NOT. His spirit within us is the drive in our deepest part that craves connection. Whenever our connection with another is severed it hurts us because it hurts the spirit of our Heavenly Father. Still we can find solace in knowing we are approved of, we are worthy, we are loved, unwaveringly by our Creator, and an open connection with Him is always available.

I am perplexed by all the meme’s and statements encouraging us to not care what anyone thinks. On one hand I see the empowering mindset to detach from the restraints of approval seeking, and yet when we desensitize ourselves so much to the thoughts and feelings of others we may risk the very essence of us that makes us human, a deep caring, and loving spirit of God.

When we begin to understand how God feels, it gives deeper insights to who He is and what He stands for. We humans have blamed Him for all the things not understood, and have portrayed Him as a heartless powerful giant who treats us as ants and cares not, when the opposite is closer to the truth. Everything He does and has done is to secure the connection between us and Him and each other. However… He doesn’t change himself to please our every whim, He doesn’t allow disconnection to alter His affection for us, He doesn’t allow His emotional state to influence His righteous stance. I think there is something in that we can all be empowered by.

So next time you hear the phrase “I don’t care what anyone thinks” remember, we all do in some way, especially God.

God's love

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12/06/2013

A Bleak Future for Intimacy*

Posted in Family, General, Musings, Self-Awareness, Teen Trials tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 9:37 am by The Water Bearer

Keyboard

It is common to hear diatribes of drama and dysfunction from people sharing about their relationships and social interactions. Yes, relationships are tricky, however as experience is gained, overtime, social guidelines help us avoid so much of the non-sense drama of our youth.  In this past week alone, I have listened to too many examples of social immaturity and hypocrisy. We are not in high school anymore, so why does it often sound like we are?

Judgment without Grace,

Offense without Accountability,

Deception without Discernment,

Walls without Boundaries,

Conflict without Resolution,

Anger without Acceptance,

Passion without Humility,

Condemnation without Self-Reflection,

Battle without Courage.

Our ability to relate and connect is a fundamental element of being human, and yet our ability to achieve maturity in this area seems to becoming less and less apparent.

I am extremely concerned for the social development of our generation and the next, now that relationships and connections are being severely affected by the new ways to connect with family, friends, acquaintances and even strangers. Social Networking claims to make connecting better, easier, and more convenient. But is this “easier” way helping us to develop strategies to interact genuinely, intimately and develop social maturity? I’m not so sure.

For those who fail to stretch and grow through the discomfort of tricky relational issues, it is too easy to sit behind a computer screen and imitate genuine human connection. Are they thinking to themselves… “The real world is too painful, people are difficult, online I can block them, ignore them, hide from them or berate them. I can find someone to agree with and fuel my opinion, by giving only my side of any situation.” ??

Is this the type of social development we want for our children?

With all the technological ways we have these days, to gain our craved ‘hit’ of connection, why would anyone choose the harder path of learning to understand and accept human nature. Let’s give our children the opportunity to develop social skills first. Then, once they leave High School or even University, and have some sturdy social guidelines in place, social networking can become a fantastic tool. Saying “No” when your teenager asks you if they can create a Facebook account may seem unfair, especially when “All my friends are on there”. Yet, when your ‘No’ is deeply grounded in your concern for their social safety and development, it becomes reasonable and responsible.

I pray our children gain the skills to handle conflict resolution face-to-face, that they learn to pick their battles, and to create a filter so they know who to trust with their personal story, and whose story to believe. To experience the complexities of true relationships that grow and twist with time, changing them into deeper more compassionate and well-rounded human beings.

HUgs

14/09/2012

My Answers…*

Posted in General, Musings tagged , , , , , at 2:37 pm by The Water Bearer

In a recent post I explained how I adored our office white board and its ‘Life changing question of the week’. In it I shared a few of the questions which we have been asked and hoped some of you would join in. I was so blessed to find that a fellow blogger had dedicated a post to answering one of these questions. I admire the story she shared to capture her answer. You can read her wonderfully creative vision here… One return-trip in a time machine.

I thought it only fair that I give you a couple of my own answers and an idea of the answers from those who I share my days with…

*Would you willingly give up your arms, if you knew you would grow wings in their place?

My Answer – “I would keep my arms and wait for heaven, where I hope to have both arms and wings”. 😉

Most of the staff agreed to keep their arms, they liked the independence and their usefulness. One young guy said he would take the wings and become famous enough to pay others to do everything he could no longer do while he flew around all day! Hahaha

*Would you give up sleep, if you knew you would never get tired again?

One thing you should know about me and sleep is that I need it! Even if I’m full of energy, I need sleep. I am like an Energizer Bunny, full of nervous energy, I have been known to just keep going, and often at extreme speeds! This leads to high levels of adrenaline coursing through my veins and that puts excess stress on the heart. Sleep gives my busy, flighty brain a chance to unwind, (so long as I’m not having one of my nights of vivid dreams). I have learned over years to do some meditation and relaxation techniques before trying to get to sleep. This gives my body the peaceful rest it requires and makes it easier to get up in the morning. Beside I love my comfy bed and comfy pillows, I love the weight of my heavy quilt covering me like a safety blanket. I like resting my heavy head and giving my weak neck a much needed break.

So ‘No’ I would not give up sleep, even if I never got tired again. Most of the staff enjoyed sleep too much to give it up also. The guy with the wings said he would also give up sleep, feeling it wasted time he could spend more productively….probably flying 😉

*If you had to be on a deserted island with anyone, other than your partner, for 12 months who would you choose?

Some chose celebrities, some chose a survival expert such as Bear Grylls or MacGyver, I chose Jesus… We’ve all heard of the multitude of gifts He has. He is an amazing fisherman, He can bring water from a stone, turn rocks into bread, water into wine, or as my friend suggested, He could part the sea so we could walk off the island whenever we wanted 😉 Then there is the added bonus of course to be able to simply sit in His presence, hearing His voice… Listening to His wisdom falling over me like warm rain….

I enjoyed sharing a few of my answers with you and I hope you check out the amazing answer from my blogging friend at the start of this post. Blessings to you all and remember to keep connecting with questions.

08/09/2012

Connecting with Questions*

Posted in General, Musings tagged , , , , , , , , , at 3:46 pm by The Water Bearer

There are many things I can say that I enjoy about my new work place (when I say ‘new’ I mean I’ve been there for about 8 months). I really enjoy the company of the staff (in fact I often get a little too excited with my sharing, because I like them so much), we share stories and recipes, music and jokes. I like that the customers are mostly lovely and often enjoy a chat as much as me, (my nickname at work is ‘Chats’). It is not stressful (even though my anxiety still rears its ugly head from time to time). I enjoy the work of helping others, I like how nice, tidy and professional it is. I like the relaxed flow of energy that fills the halls each day. I like that they encourage me to be creative with designing fliers, writing marketing emails and newsletters. I like that they don’t mind if I read or write when things get slow and quiet. I love that I can be home each afternoon with my girls when they get home from school.

I know, I know, I am so Blessed!! Thank you Lord!!

However, the thing I currently like most about my new place of work is the white board in the kitchen…..

Why on earth??? You may ask….

Well it’s because of the ..“Life Changing Question of the Week”..Obviously! 😉

Someone randomly writes a thought provoking question on the whiteboard and everyone writes their answers underneath. It has become a source of insight into our fellow colleagues and gives us a point of reference for office discussions. It brings us all together, even those who do the night or weekend shifts, who don’t get much interaction with everyone on staff. This way everyone can join in..

Here is an idea of types of questions we have been asked….

*Would you willingly give up your arms, if you knew you would grow wings in their place?

*Would you give up sleep, if you knew you would never get tired again?

*How do you measure your level of success?

*If you could stop being you and become anyone else, who would you choose to be and why?

*If you had to be on a deserted island with anyone, other than your partner, for 12 months who would you choose?

*If you had access to one return trip in a time machine, how would you use it?

*If your house was burning down (and all the people and pets were safe) what 3 objects would you try and save?

As you can imagine there have been many laughs, opinions and stories shared as a result of this magical whiteboard. It gives a lovely connection to us all, which is my favourite thing EVER!

Aren’t connections so wonderful and often under appreciated??!!

For many years now it has been common for me to encourage others to play “Questions and Answers” with friends both old and new. You know the game where I ask you a question and you answer honestly and then it’s your turn to ask something, and back and to until we have a better understanding of each other. It kills awkward silences, it shows each other you are interested in them, it sheds light into each others thoughts and experiences. You may think this is usually the result of normal conversations, and for some this is true, but for those who have a hard time making small talk, opening up or interacting on a deeper level this game can be a fabulous tool. Plus it keeps things on an even keel, especially if one tends to talk over the other somewhat …(No … I have no idea of anyone like that  😉 Hahaha)

It was a fabulous new joy to play this game with my Husband and two girls one night recently. The girls had so many questions to fire at their Dad because he has always been less forthcoming with them of his own stories than I have. We spent an evening sharing ourselves openly, we learned more about each other than we already knew, we felt closer and loving, and understood each other a little better. I recommend you try it too!

I love people, people are so interesting to me, new perspectives, different opinions and views. You are all unique and special and I would really like to get to know you all better, experience more joys of connection, so if you want to play along, please add your answers to the “life Changing Questions of the Week” in the comments and lets get to know each other a little better. If you don’t feel like answering, I would still love to hear what you think of connecting with questions. Blessings to you all!

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