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

24/04/2014

Faithful Progress Isn’t Pretty*

Posted in Encouragement, Finding Faith, Musings, Self-Awareness, Teen Trials tagged , , , , , , , , , at 9:29 am by The Water Bearer

 

Huddled

Watching from the outside as someone you love is being put through the paces of a “life changing” experience can be quite nerve wracking. My Dad used to say “There can be no reconstruction without there first being deconstruction”, or simply, “No one can rebuild a better life until they go through the process of breaking down their current life.”

Friends, family and others can offer simple support or short term guidance to loved ones in crisis, but unfortunately sometimes certain attempts to help may actually enable the unhealthy patterns to continue. Offering comfort and attempts to fix or stop the suffering can prevent them learning the very important lesson which only rock bottom can teach.

When someone truly seeks Him, God is the ultimate designer of both deconstruction and reconstruction. The strategy in place is that before we can accept His blessings and have a productive, fulfilling and contented life, we must allow Him to shake things up, to show us where the problem areas are. Then we must learn to distance ourselves from the old ways we have been living and determine our minds to be renewed, through His word and an honest relationship with Him.

As you may have guessed, this is not a simple one time action. It takes many steps to undo all the unhealthy beliefs, habits and influences on our decisions, to completely remove their power over us. Sure enough, these steps aren’t all forward, we may take ten steps backwards before one faithfully productive step forward is earned. It can feel like we aren’t getting very far at all, and it can appear that way to those around us as well.

It can be tempting to get drawn in by those going through the ugliness of this phase, out of concern for the destruction we are witnessing, or our desire to prevent our loved ones from suffering. However, we may want to remember that progress isn’t pretty, and be reminded of how many times we had to fall and become a complete mess before we saw any progress in our own lives. Pray for them, love them, give them into God’s trustworthy hands, and try not to allow fear to motivate our contributions to their issues. Don’t let it make you lose faith in the possibility of positive faithful progress, which may be just around the next corner they take. Remember and believe that we serve a LOVING, FAITHFUL & AMAZING GOD!

 

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.”

22/02/2013

Relaxed Mum, Happy Children*

Posted in Encouragement, Family, General, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 11:08 am by The Water Bearer

relaxed kids

Like many others, I always thought meditation required sitting in the lotus position or lying down, eyes closed, taking time to relax every muscle in your body, imagine your breath is like a river cleaning out your stress, stopping all thoughts, finding that illusive place of calm etc … Honestly, I find this quite difficult.

I have practiced and benefited from relaxation though. Before bed, when I am having trouble sleeping, or when I am really anxious about an upcoming event. But who are we kidding? If we had enough time to do this regularly, we wouldn’t be half as stressed in the first place. Most of the time I am too tired to try to focus for that long. Frustrating more than relaxing, right?

However, after a bit of research, and some great posts from fellow bloggers, I have discovered other concepts regarding meditation.

Simply put, meditation is practicing being present in the moment. That sounds easier said than done, so I will share a couple of my own tips.

The quickest way I find to center myself, is to imagine (in detail) the view God has looking down on me right now. I see what I am doing, where I am, what is around me, what face I am pulling, and how I am holding myself and so forth.

Then I go internal, I pay attention to what my body feels like, what I can hear, what thoughts and emotions I have in the forefront of my mind, what is the pace of my breathing, and then see if I can really slow it down.

I don’t deny or push away thoughts, I just accept them and look at them without judgement, which makes it easier to just let them go and go back to being present. Allowing myself a break from mind-wandering into the past or future.

As some may recall, I made a new years resolution and prayer in my post A Focused Mind. To attempt to become skilled in meditation in order to focus and reach my goals, to be inspired and more present, to relax and make room for my mind to process the changes I am working on as a mother. True to the Lords word He has already begun answering my prayer, I am definitely getting better at this. Showing my children how to learn to enjoy the present moment is becoming increasingly important to me. I believe a more ‘present’ relaxed Mum, means secure, happier children.

I have watched a few TED talks and Youtube Videos on meditation recently and learned more amazing benefits. “Meditating, it is like taking a magic pill that will lower anxiety, pain, depression and anger and will improve attention, immune system, self-control  and well-being.”

I want my children to experience these benefits too. Couldn’t we all do with this in our lives? Yet I bet, you can come up with a hundred excuses not to try this, starting with, “I don’t have enough spare time” or “I would forget to do it because I have too many other things to think about” (which is kind of the whole point).

There was a terrific idea on one of these videos.  The “Don’t wait… Meditate!” pledge.

Pretty simple really…

We all hate waiting because we are wasting precious time, but we all have to wait, on hold, in lines, at traffic lights, before appointments etc.

The pledge is to be present, to meditate while you are forced to wait. No extra time is required.

I meditate while driving to and from work, I do it when I am waiting to pick my girls up from school, or while someone I’m talking with has to take a phone call. I am learning to do it while I engage with people who I feel most sensitive around, I am noticing that this helps slow my defensive reactions so I can ease them somewhat.

Depending on Christ, along with analyzing and understanding my own behaviour, has been hugely responsible for why things are changing for the better around here. I am excited at the changes on the horizon.

The clip below was extremely valuable in helping me understand the why and how of meditation in more detail and I hope it blesses you all.

08/02/2013

Spiritual Surgery*

Posted in Family, Finding Faith, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , at 8:34 pm by The Water Bearer

scalpel

There are times when I get so frustrated at myself for my sins, when I drop to my knees and scream “I want to change more!”. The Lord has protected me, and been faithful to me, He suffered for me and forgives me. He has led me to grow through my life and I have changed in so many ways, but still I scream….

I am a Type A, Sanguine personality, we are naturally quite fiery and feisty, not placid and calm very often, being quiet is extremely hard for this personality type. Over the years the Lord has been working on me and we have made some progress in this area. However, I can still get going at times and once I am in full flight it can be nearly impossible to stop myself. In the worst episodes I can be cocky and arrogant, I can be condescending and self-righteous. I mentioned in a previous post that I was praying for the Lord to help me develop quiet confidence and this post seems to be an extension of that.

Many of us grew up answering back and yelling our way through, believing we have to prove we are right against anyone who questions or challenges us. This is usually directed at, but not limited to, other family members, who also yell to prove how right they are. I can say honestly that this can been an extremely hard habit to break, and I am still not completely there yet.

It seems absurd to me though, I am a child of God and desperately want to represent all the good He can bring about in a person who submits to Him. And yet, while trying to be seen as right, my actions can be so very wrong.

How can we be a good example of God’s grace if we are so busy being right, that we forget to be kind?

What is the point of convincing the whole world we are right about something, if we have lost the respect of those we love along the way? None at all!

In this way and others, my fear of mistakes has been showing it’s ugly head in more and more ways since my recent breakthrough. I pray this is the Lord purging it from my nature so I can finally treat others with the respect and kindness I would like to, without this subconscious fear poisoning my reactions. I have had some ridiculous fears in my lifetime, and as I have come to recognise each one in turn I have handed them over into God’s hands. I am so grateful that I can now recognise and confess this deep fear, because He has never let me down, He is faithful to destroy all fear!

I am looking at this fear as a giant boil that has been festering away, growing and infecting me for too long, and now that we have found it Christ can bring it to the surface and remove it from me, just as He has done with all the fears that came before this one.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)
 
For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. (Isaiah 41:13)
 

Developing faith into every area of life is a gradual process. At the start of our walk with Him we may see many changes quite quickly, however over time I have noticed that it takes a fair bit of digging to get right down to those conditions we didn’t even know have been there all along, generational curses, soul ties, deeply buried pain, and other enemies we may have been exposed to during childhood.

I may have found and confessed my fear, I may be frustrated that it is still coming out of me in ways I don’t find very flattering. However I understand that Christ is the surgeon, if we put our lives and fears in His hands, we can watch as His precise scalpel removes each and every inner enemy, and there are always many of His amazing blessings to reap after recovering from the surgery! Amen!

Praise His Name, I am so grateful to know the love of the Lord!

fear nothing

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.

in-gods-arms-440x2001

03/08/2012

I have to put her in God’s hands

Posted in Encouragement, Family, General, Musings, Self-Awareness, Teen Trials tagged , , , , , , , , at 8:17 am by The Water Bearer

My little miracle baby is today well on her way to her ‘own’ life. Yesterday she passed her learner’s test and can now legally sit behind the wheel of the car (Metaphoric in itself). She acquired a part-time job on the same day and completed her Tax File Number Application (almost) completely unsupervised.

Is that IT now?

How much more can I do within the ‘Motherly’ role I have held for over 16 years? I know nothing else! There has never been a time in my adult life where I was not responsible for her.

She can earn her own money now, she can drive a car. She has grown-up, and I feel like I watched it all with the fast-forward button jammed stuck!

I miss the expression on her tiny face when she looked to me for the simplest request. “My shoelaces are knotty Mummy, I can’t open them”. She would appear in the doorway of my bedroom with her hair sticking out like a birds nest saying “Look Mummy, I did my hair for school all by myself”, she was always the most placid, happy kid, she made parenting look easy. She doesn’t need to look to me for day to day comforts, these days she looks to her Ipod or mobile phone. Once upon a time a cuddle from Mum could soothe away any savage, frightening beast, now she leans into the arms of her boyfriend, much to my discomfort at the reminder of a loosening grip.

Every now and then she emerges from her bedroom with her shirt buttons out of whack. I think she does it on purpose to make me feel useful.

I understand that my influence and control over her life has changed forever, now I need to clamber into an unfamiliar role. I am not sure if I ever got used to the first role, but now that it is slipping from my grasp I want desperately to cling on for little while longer.

I remember being 17 yrs old and saying to my Mother..”You had 17 yrs to teach me how to be what you wanted, 17 years to make my decisions for me…now your time is up! You can’t keep trying to control my life just because you don’t trust that you did a good enough job of teaching me how to control it myself.” That was my defensive way of dealing with her when she didn’t agree with my life choices.

I thought I knew how to make choices I could happily live with, I lived with them regardless. I let my split family drive me to believe I could be happy if I started my own family at such a young age. God obviously had the same plan and I trusted Him, without even realising how profound that was at the time. I needed sound advice and support of my final decisions. This is how I aim to approach this new stage of motherhood (God Help Me!)

So as I step out of my comfort zone into this new phase, I need to remember the foundation of the parental principles which my Dad showed me. He would listen to my dilemma’s and give a variety of choices and explain the possible consequences, then he would say, I can’t tell you what to do, but I will support you no matter what you decide. For all the times I’m sure he cringed at my final decision he rarely showed it, He trusted God to guide our lives and was adamant that if we obey God and trust in Him completely, He can save not only our soul but the souls of our children and our grandchildren. He had obeyed God  in the face of every kind of rejection, and I trust His granddaughter into the hands of the Almighty. It is almost completely out of my hands. I must now guide her without the tactics that so easily, reactively spring to mind, without judgment and disapproval, without manipulative control, without guilt trips, without blackmail, without one-sided lectures. Now I need to listen, now I need to support. Now I need to be stable enough for her to know that no matter what life throws her way, I will be there to hold her hand and show her my love, regardless of which way she chooses to direct her life.

22/07/2012

Why So Fragile?**

Posted in Encouragement, General, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 2:06 pm by The Water Bearer

A few years ago I read this statement by Author Lysa Terkerst and have tried to refer to it ever since.

“Don’t let the compliments of others go to your head, or their criticisms to your heart”

I failed to adhere to this advise recently, and it has become the foundation of a new level of perspective.

Having had a very successful couple of months of blogging, I have become somewhat ‘hyper-enthusiastic’, it has been so wonderful to see people all over the world reading my stuff, then even ‘liking’ some and giving such wonderful compliments. Yet I have fallen into a trap set for me by my inner enemies, I confess that I have come to rely on my ‘blog stats’ to verify the success of my calling. I can hear all the horrified ‘GASPS’ of shock. (*Wink) I imagine this is pretty common.

Unfortunately it is not as trivial as it may seem, nothing ever is with me!

This is dangerous territory, treading way too close to pride than I like to get. By no means can I take any credit for any of this success, I completely acknowledge all glory goes to the Lord for any ability He has given me to write. Besides people always like His stuff much better than anything I try to come up with on my own 🙂 I suppose it is simply that I have become overly animated by the evidence that He can use me.

A big element of my personality is an addiction to WORDS. As I’ve mentioned before, I have a very busy mind, often have many thoughts, words and ideas buzzing around inside my head and I am drawn into sharing these with others. Sometimes expressing them and seeing them more clearly brings tremendous benefit to my chaotic state of mind, other times I become manic and fear that my testimony may be damaged as I ramble on in a state lacking control.

I am also compulsive by nature and harbor much nervous energy. I used to smoke irregularly when my busy mind found an empty moment to kill, when I quit smoking I took up Facebooking, filling the spaces by automatically checking for notifications using the app on my phone. On a bad or slow day this simple act can get out of hand, so I knew I needed to once again take action. When I quit Facebook, I took up blogging. You see a pattern here? I am now constantly tempted to check to see – Who has viewed? Where were they? Did they ‘Like’ it?  “Does someone want to share ‘words’ with me?” All stemming from these long standing traits.

A month into blogging, this pattern began emerging (again) so as usual I went on a 3 day Fast. I didn’t go onto my blog site at all, didn’t check my ‘stats’, was determined not to read any comments or reply for 3 whole days! (Luckily God didn’t allow me to be tempted by comments during those three days, as my blog received none, He knows! Lol)

I have come to find that fasting something for 3 days, is extremely beneficial to our development of faith and victory in overcoming the habitual temptations of life. In times when either breaking a habit, or preventing one from forming, or simply going without something we enjoy for God, is a symbol of recognition that we need Him in our situation more. This is because 3 days is fairly achievable, and therefore we are less likely to break our promise and become self-condemning. 3 days is also long and difficult enough to need help to reach the promised goal. Every time the tempting thought pops up during this time, we can  acknowledge the promise we made, and ask God for Help, this breaks up the automatic train of thought. It invites Him into the situation and an army of angels are dispatched to our aid.

So even though I have fasted blogging a couple of times, I must admit that due to all the new experiences it has brought me, my state of mind has become even more excitable than usual and I have allowed the compliments of others to somewhat go to my head (or perhaps rather my hands).

Compulsive nature can be easy fodder for our inner enemy to form habits, dangerous ones that try to to push us off the narrow path. It brings a whole other side to the coined phrase “Idle Hands are the Devil’s plaything”.

Next came phase two, when I received a couple of blunt criticisms which I let go straight to my heart, deeply. I reacted badly, defended, felt guilty, then that old familiar fear began to rise up from the depths of my soul, pressing hard on my heart, it began to choke me, forming a lump in my throat, and by the time this fear got to my head I was lost and consumed by it.

The main focus of these criticisms:- my unruly mouth. A negative response to the easy and common temptation to think too much and share every thought in my head, especially during a bout of psychological ‘mania’. I am aware of this, I have been all my life, it has brought me great shame, I have prayed and confessed about this more than anything else. While I have seen much improvement during the years God has been changing and developing me, this is the one area of weakness that I experience the most regular and regrettable backward slips. Old habits do die hard!

Often the desire to force being different from the reality of who I am causes severe bouts of depression.

When I get attacked with a bout of depression like this a few things commonly happen. I doubt and condemn myself and confess it all to God, I believe the words of people I care about and respect so much that I ask God to help me become what they think I should be. At the same time I try to remind myself that this is how God made me, I need to love and accept myself, and that I need to work with Him to bring about any changes He is guiding me to make. It can become quite a confusing mixture of thoughts as I try to determine which ones I should listen to.

This inner to and fro can lead to thoughts of insanity which creep to the threshold of my mind, leaving me unable to trust a thought in my own head. Battling these types of psychological conditions causes mental fatigue, I refer to this as an emotional hangover’ , a few wasted days spent heavy and extremely sensitive. After this it is common to want to make up for lost time and I can become manic and go into overdrive to catch up and get ‘on top’ of things, only to fall short of my own expectations.

It is common to want to reach out to someone, needing them to help clear away some of the self-condemnation, however often human misunderstanding of spiritual or psychological systems can lead to badly timed good intentions which can clumsily handle a fragile heart. Now while I personally have found much support through professional therapists, they can not cover all the bases these situations require. Only God and His word know how to properly handle this type of vulnerability, so we need to reach out for Him in prayer.

These attacks soften the heart, making it fragile as it prepares to receive the new level of perspective and to break off old unwanted strongholds. Forcing a new level of complete submission to God, depending on Him for every thought and every action, begging Him to take the wheel and drive.

As usual I prayed for clarity and for sanity, I prayed for Him to keep a tight reign on my lips, I prayed for freedom and self-acceptance, I cried bitter tears of remorse, I asked for forgiveness, and I begged Him to meet me in my pit and rescue me.

“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: A broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise”. Psalms 51:17 (ASV)

Within a few minutes of intense prayer at the time my heart was at it’s most fragile, I was sent comfort. First I received a pleasant surprise to distract me from my thoughts, a little later an unexpected, warm, lingering embrace and a confession of Love. The next day a special family evening, spent sharing ‘words’ with those I love and cherish most on this earth. Then a days break, a day alone to listen to soothing music and allow me to begin to collect my thoughts. Hallelujah!

Since all this has really taken it out of me I have taken some much needed R&R, which you may have read about in my recent post A Fragile Heart.

When we obey and make steps to fulfill our calling we open ourselves up to the inner enemies attacks to try and put us off track. This may come in obvious ways  through physical circumstances such as a verbal attack from someone unexpected, perhaps burning your hand or cutting a finger while cooking dinner, or disturbed sleep from petty annoyances, perhaps just an unruly household with everyone in a ‘mood’, rubbing each other in the worst ways. Sometimes the enemies attacks can come through more subtle ways, through temptation, or creating a fearful mindset, through psychological weakness, or a moment of confusion at the expense of your faith. These are his scare tactics, hoping we will not follow through in obedience, and you can be sure that if we do continue on the obedient path we will see some of these attacks result afterwards as well. This is the enemies backlash in retaliation to any ground we may have made toward God.

Yet this is the war we are in, and when we are obeying the Almighty and keeping our hearts open to Him, He gives us comfort through faith by knowing He will be victorious. We are on the winning side even if the evidence all around may appear bleak. Depend on His strength when you are weak, find comfort in knowing you are Loved no matter what lies the enemy or the world tells you. And be prepared to suffer and to grow, and to rest and to fight again and to succeed, then suffer and grow, then rest and then fight and then succeed ……..and so on and so on….. Until this war and life as we know it ends, and we are finally free from this battle, changed by Him forever. When the enemy loses all influence and Righteousness Reigns into ETERNITY!

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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