07/03/2015

Control Yourself, Not Your Day!

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

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

TIA

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

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

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

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

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

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

Control Anger

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01/09/2014

Perfect Timing Every Time!*

Posted in Encouragement, Finding Faith tagged , , , at 8:58 pm by The Water Bearer

time in his hands

 

One thing that has consistently blown my mind, since inviting God to guide my steps towards Him, is His always reliable and impeccably PERFECT timing!

I was once at an appointment for some treatment relating to my car accident, I had not been working for a number of years and money was tight. I had to pay quite a large amount upfront for this treatment and then take my receipt to Medicare to claim the subsidy that I would be reimbursed. My specialist was running late and my treatment took longer than usual. I had much less time than expected and I had to pop into the Medicare office to collect my refund, grab a few items from the shops and get back in time to pick up my children from school.

I rushed through the doors of the Medicare office, punched in to receive my number in the queue, I was ticket number 142 and the ticket they were serving was 79. I had quite a wait. So rather than waste precious time, I took my ticket and nipped across the road to get those few items I needed. I knew I had quite a while to kill so I took my time looking around to try and make sure I got everything I needed. I forgot for a moment my impending ticket number. All of a sudden it dawned on me that I should get back to Medicare before they called my number.

So I hurried for the checkout and wouldn’t you know it, two queues. I picked the shortest line and began waiting impatiently, worrying that surely by now my number would be close. I knew if I missed my number I would not have time to line up again. My feet were shifting restlessly as the lady in front of me started to load her items from her basket onto the counter. I couldn’t tell if she was being painstakingly slow on purpose, but I felt my heart-rate rise with each item. Then came the dreaded price challenge, “I’m sure that was only $2.95 not $3.95” the lady contested. My heart clenched in my chest, heat began to rise up my neck and over my face. I was sure I would not be getting back my $150 refund today and I knew I needed it for fuel for the week. I knew I couldn’t get back here til next week at least…. I knew I needed the money for fuel to get back at all! I was just about to offer to pay the $1 difference to save her from taking up more time by sending the clerk to investigate, when I remembered my relationship with the Almighty and felt a sense of peace rise from within me.

The words “Trust God’s Timing” filled my thoughts. I recalled all the times I had trusted God previously when He had performed miracles in my life. I took a deep breath and relaxed. I made a conscious effort to stop my anxious thoughts and to believe that whatever happened would be just how He planned it.

The clerk came back, the lady was on her way and my sale was finalised (finally), yet I was peaceful. I strolled towards the Medicare office, my thoughts only on God’s power and love for me.

The doors parted and my eyes locked on the flashing ticket number being served….. 141. It clicked over to 142 right in front of my eyes and I walked straight up to the counter, beaming from ear to ear! The feeling of protection and faith that washed over me is indescribable. I wanted to shout and tell the whole room filled with people what had just transpired within my heart and mind, and then been confirmed in the physical.

I don’t believe there are words that can convey how miraculous, or how numerous, or how meticulously specific encounters like this have been in my life. Even if I manage to explain the main segments you must understand that there are too many elements to the puzzle that I cannot possibly recall all of them, pieces that evidence just how perfectly perfect the timing of each incident actually is. It is beyond me and my understanding, it is not knowledge that convicts me of these serendipitous truths, it feels impossible to try to explain. We must make ourselves into the smallest of the small, and wide eyed to the enormity of things that exist beyond our understanding.

So lets open our hearts and our minds, remove all the barriers that lock us into our comfortable explainable comprehension, and believe for a moment that The Creator of the Universe, The One True God, The Most Omnipotent Being, The one who LOVES us regardless of our constant decrepitude, knows exactly where we will be, precisely what we will think, specifically which direction our heart will lean. He knows and has timed it all for us to experience a tiny shred of His capabilities, if only we play our part in meeting Him there.

No matter how much time passes between occurrences of these precisely perfect coincidences, one factor is always required, and that is my heartfelt recognition of His omnipotence and my complete trust in Him.

I must admit I am the weak link in this equation, I am so often a captive of my own desire to control, of my own fears, of my own doubt, that I forget to meet Him on that stable place of faith. However every single time I look for Him with a willing heart, I find exactly what I need to feel His presence, to know He is right next to me, to know which direction to step towards, or if standing still in the moment is His divine request.

I can testify that EVERY SINGLE TIME I have given the timing over to God He has blown my mind. Over and over again! He has not once, not ever, failed to meet me in the midst of my trust in Him.

Keep an eye out on this blog as I share more of these types of experiences. I have written others on this subject Here and Here, Here and Here and Here. I hope they bless you all as much as they have me.

Timing

 

09/07/2014

My Secret to Emotional Control*

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

shhh

I used to believe that I was dead right about the way I assessed my emotions. I used them as platforms from which to bounce. I saw good emotions as reasons to smile, laugh and brag, and I saw negative emotions as an unacceptable state that I wanted to give away to anyone who would listen. I wanted to avoid and control negative feelings. I believed I was addressing everything and never “swept it under a rug”. I told myself this was healthy.

Realistically I was catapulting from one end of the emotional spectrum to the other, and stability was so rare I could barely recognise it enough to know I needed it. Truth be told, I used emotions as an excuse to be reckless in my pursuit of happiness. I thought life owed me happiness, I knew no different. I believed my pain wouldn’t stop unless I focused on it, gave it credit and tried to find a way to stop it. Little did I know, I was adding fuel to the unstable emotional fire.

It was very difficult to firstly accept this mindset and then change it.

It is important to understand that emotions are powerful catalysts to another dimension. A dimension where an alien can easily take control of our ship if we fail to handle these inner enemies with caution.

When we become aware of the destructive nature of emotional instability, we are on our way to laying a new foundation from which to bounce through life.

Try looking at emotions as an ocean, high waves and low, ripples that can carry on for miles, sometimes intense and sometimes peaceful but always temporary.

Acknowledge how you feel, and why, recall the evidence of past destructive tendencies, and remind yourself, “I am not to be trusted to make good choices right now”. Just like standing under an impending wave, keep your head down (lay low, try to engage with the world as little as possible), allow the waves to crash or wash over you and give it as much time is needed until the wave has passed. You may actually be surprised how much more quickly the emotions lose intensity once you learn to ride them out this way. Once it is safe to lift your head you will see how much more clearly you can think. A clear head space is vital for preventing the mess that is often left in the wake of uncontrolled emotions.

We can’t control emotions by stopping them or avoiding them, but we can control how much damage they cause us by controlling ourselves during those waves. Thanks be to God, I have noticed that I can manage the lows much better than I used to, and find long-lasting peace in the present, without all the emotions that only seemed to create temporary happiness.

Surfer ducks under wave as hurricane approaches

14/03/2013

Controlling Lies*

Posted in Encouragement, Family, Finding Faith, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , , , at 10:19 am by The Water Bearer

control

It seems the lie my inner enemies tell me most often, is that I need to take control of this thing or the other. That, if I can use my determination and powers of persuasion over others, then I can prevent all manner of undesirable consequences. This lie, deep in my heart, has over the years, transformed itself into emotional manipulation, anxiety, worry, desperation, frustration, anger, and fear.

Many of us experienced a situation of instability as children, and therefore tend to grow up with similar issues of control. It seems a natural response, for as children we have almost no control over our lives and the environment in which we live. We are dependent on our guardians to make all decisions for us and even though we are the ones suffering through the consequences, we can do very little to change it.

It makes sense then, that we may grow up with subconscious urges to control.

My hand is up! Anyone else?

There is also a huge amount of evidence which we can be reminded of, through promptings from our inner enemies. Evidence to back up and empower our concerns, evidence to fuel anger, evidence to excuse our actions, and evidence to smother any desire to Trust God.

If control issues are the weapon, then this evidence is the ammunition. Yes, I am loaded and aimed to fire, far too often.

The area where this manifests in our lives may be different for each of us, and usually changes from one area to another over the years. I recently went through a situation which shines a light on this issue so brightly for me, I want to share some of it with you.

You see, I had tied myself in knots trying to make something happen, I believed every excuse that came to mind; that time was pressing down on us; that I was being helpful; that I was being motivated; that I was being organised. I tried to force others to fit into the spaces I left for them to contribute. Each time the opportunity passed by I felt more pressure build inside of me.

I knew I had to trust God, in my head, but my heart was too wound up. Too tied up with angst trying to bring this situation to it’s end. Too much effort would be wasted, there didn’t seem enough time to just wait. I was white knuckling through, unable to let go.

So, after some good counsel from my dearest friends, I made God a promise, that I would not do another thing about this situation, I wouldn’t even mention it, and I would wait until the others involved brought up the subject with me, and then I would do whatever was asked of me (without complaint or ideas of a better way!!)

For the first two days of this promise I filled up my time with other things. I was hell bent on distracting myself from the mission I had promised not to act upon. However by the third day, I was bordering on insanity. I felt my inner enemies tugging at me to make plans, any kind of plans, plans to drop hints, or plans to keep me distracted again. But God whispered into my heart that this was still a manifestation of control. I was trying to avoid waiting and trusting by filling up my time.

Every second that my mind wasn’t focused on something else, this situation would tunnel it’s way to the surface of my thoughts. I tried to push it away, I begged God to help me keep my promise, to help me keep my mouth shut! I cannot believe how HARD it was. Oh LORD!! Was it ever hard!

About half way through the third day someone broached the issue, they made the arrangements, I complied and by the end of the day the whole situation was completely resolved!

Once again the Lord proved how faithful and trustworthy He is. He will cover all the things which I feel I must control, I am the one who wastes my efforts and time when I do not invest in His control.

Just when I think I have an area like this all sorted out, that I have outgrown my inner enemies in this particular thing or the other, I am humbled once again by just how dependent upon God I am.

Clinging Cross

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