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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
The next and final chapter of Discipline + Trust = Love series. A glimpse into finding appreciation in relationships.
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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…
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While I’m taking some time to work on my novel I thought I would share some of my early posts with my new readers. Hope you enjoy them.
“Come Back!” I yelled through the tears streaming down my face as I ran up the street after him. My heart was twisted in turmoil, my head full of confusion and raging emotion. I was a child in an adult’s body and he was my boyfriend. We hadn’t been going out very long, a few months maybe, but once I had allowed him into my life physically and emotionally I began clinging on for dear life, pinning all my feelings on him. If he told me he ‘loved me and couldn’t live without me’, I was over the moon, if he told me to ‘get lost and leave him alone’, I was on the floor in a heap, devastated by his rejection.
This time he was going out with his friends for the night, but I had spent the day looking forward to spending the night with him. I had…
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As I drove to work yesterday I was listening to breakfast radio, and the female announcer brought up a complaint made by a wife who she had been in discussion with.
The wife was a stay at home mum and her husband worked 10 hours a day to provide for them. Her complaint was that he should help out more at home and not gripe when she gives him jobs. She was adamant that her husband should do more, such as cleaning the shower and toilet, help with cooking and take some responsibility for bathing, dressing and attending to the children etc when he was home.
The male announcer explained the husbands response, which was basically “I have just worked 10 hours and walk in the front door to hear these words or similar come from her mouth. “”Good you’re home, now you can help me with these kids. Can you run them a bath and take the baby for a while?”” I just walked in the door from a long hard day, I want to sit down for 5 minutes and relax with a beer. I don’t think that is too much to ask!”
The female announcer replied “She is obviously unhappy, if he can do more to help her be happier in their relationship, shouldn’t he just do it!”
I saw red! This is one of the most infuriating stances that many women let their inner enemies convince them to take. They may as well be saying “I am going to keep complaining about how unhappy I am until I make the whole house unhappy, so you will have no choice but to bow to my every request’.
Now let me clarify, this wife didn’t work, and her children were in childcare 3 days per week, and she claimed that she never stops, that she never gets a break. Even if they were at home all day every day, pouncing on her husband the second he walks in the door is selfish, ungrateful and unloving. I know because I used to be like this. I was all these things and worse.
One thing I learned some years ago is that miserable complaining only breeds more misery. I know plenty of husbands who have done their best to meet every ridiculous, demanding request of their wives, only to discover they could never reach the light at the end of the list, nor help her find peace and happiness.
“It is better to live in a corner of a roof, than in a house shared with a contentious woman.” Prov 21:9 (ASV)
These relationships fell apart leaving a trail of bitter destruction, and setting the worst kind of example for their children’s future relationships.
I grew up in a home with a single Mum who had to work 45-50 hour weeks to provide for us. She had the responsibility of raising three children, with no family close enough to help her. My younger sibling was only 18months old when Mum became single. Through sheer will and determination she did it all. I watched her struggle to cope, I heard constantly how stressful her life was. As a child I can remember the countless times she would pour tears over her finances, often sharing that burden with us children. She missed out on doing the school run and hearing about our day or our thoughts as we drove to and fro. She was unable to keep watch over us after school to make sure we stayed on track. She had no time to learn new recipes or practice creativity in the kitchen, she just fed us. She had no opportunity to load some of the weight onto someone else just because she was tired. She had no one to share some of the burden at the end of a long day. She just did it, all, on her own.
As a wife and mother I am so very, extremely grateful that I have a man who is willing to work long days to provide for us. I do my utmost to put aside my days complaints and greet him after work with a cold beer, a warm smile and a kiss. As a result he is more likely to: a) Come home! b) Help me, and c) Rush to my aid like the knight in shining armour I always dreamed of.
If we give compliments and praise in recognition of all the things, small or large, that they do for us, they will be more willing to help out when we are unwell or warn thin from a tough day, or if we come across a challenge we need their help with. We need to build them up, not tear them down! We need to recognise that our contentious attitude is causing more problems, and make attempts to change it. We need to call on our inner angels to help us see all the things we are grateful for, and refuse to let disappointment from unmet expectations breed bitterness and misery.
On a final note, (this is an area that I am currently trying to make more changes to myself), we take so much responsibility away from our men due to our controlling, often insecure natures. Even if they do try to help, often we are there pointing out how they ‘should’ be doing it, or criticising them afterward because it wasn’t done the way we do it. When we ask their opinion regarding a decision, we reply with our reasons to disagree. We say we want them to take some of our load, but when they try we yank it back out of their hands.
I wonder how many women would tolerate being told that everything we try to do is not done properly, or if every decision we made was overturned and debated?
Trusting our husbands to be capable, and giving their decisions a chance to succeed before we catastrophise them into oblivion, will help boost their self worth, and their sense of masculinity. That way they will have the opportunity to dazzle us with their skills and leadership, and we in turn can relax in grateful appreciation of how lucky we are to have them.
My Big Girl and I were having one of our ‘Deep & Meaningful” talks one night recently, as we often do. These are times I am so grateful for, as it seems so difficult to get teenagers to talk at the best of times, let alone with their parents. So here we were talking about life, faith, boys, future plans, past victories and sharing our thoughts about all kinds of important stuff. One thing she wanted to share, was how much she appreciates that she doesn’t equate ‘gifts’ with how much she is loved. She is happy with a balance of going without things, and appreciating what she has. However, people in her life are beginning to give her gifts as a gesture of affection. Many would perhaps enjoy being spoilt like this, but it actually causes her to feel uncomfortable and I can understand why.
I used to date a guy who bought me ‘gifts’ all the time, he would buy me gifts for no particular reason, and when a special occasion came along he would go overboard. I was a single Mum and counting every penny I had, obviously there was no way I could keep up with his level of gift giving. I gave him affection and attention, but not much in the way of material things. Unfortunately he didn’t know any better, it was how his parents showed him affection, they bought him stuff. They were quite wealthy and he wanted for nothing, yet he was not even close to feeling fulfilled or happy.
It is so common to try to buy things for our loved ones to make up for our shortcomings in regard to giving them attention or love. The act itself of buying a gift for someone could be interpreted as loving thing to do, to spend time thinking about the person you love and thinking of what will make them smile. However the person receiving these gifts only gets a short dose of warmth that easily fades over time. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never thought to myself , ‘Yep, they must really love me, because I remember that present they bought me last month.’
Another element to consider when buying gifts is that the intention can often create feelings of anticipation. If the intention is simply to make someone smile then fine, you will probably get a smile in return for a gift. But what if the intention is to get love in return? What would they have to do to love you back? Do they owe you something now?
A gift is a gift, end of story. It is a gesture purely to acknowledge that thought was given to a person or situation. Thought alone, not love.
If we really want to show our love for others it needs to come in the form of something that cannot be forgotten or broken or lost. If we give our loved ones things like loyalty, compromise, acceptance, forgiveness, freedom, trust, support, encouragement, honesty, affection and attention, then they will know they are loved. We won’t need gifts to prove it.
These expectations of love and the now seemingly common practice of giving ‘gifts’ in exchange for love, has led to the excessive commercialisation we get shoved down our throats at every ‘special day’ imaginable. We just recover from Christmas and then it’s Valentine’s day, we take a breath after getting that out of the way and all of a sudden it’s Easter, with chocolate eggs through to lavish gift baskets displayed on (a ridiculous amount of) stands in every shop. Add to that all the birthdays of those we care for, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Baby showers, Christenings, Birth of New babies, Anniversaries, and before you know it, it is stinking Christmas again! I don’t know about you, but the thought of loving someone with gifts is both expensive and exhausting.
It seems obvious to me that our inner enemies are trying to convince us that giving gifts is necessary when it comes to showing love, by creating hoopla around every occasion we can come up with.
We need to ask our inner angels to take over and encourage us to begin truly loving people in ways that puts gift giving to shame. In fact I think this post should conclude with those true loving gestures lingering in our minds.
Lord, help this world to overlook gift giving as a gesture of love and help us show our loved ones genuine love through AFFECTION – PATIENCE – LOYALTY – KINDNESS – COMPROMISE – SUPPORT – ATTENTION – FORGIVENESS – ACCEPTANCE – FREEDOM – ENCOURAGEMENT – HONESTY & TRUST! Amen!