15/02/2013

You want me to drink that?*

Posted in Encouragement, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , at 6:52 pm by The Water Bearer

jug

I often go back and read my previous posts, I reflect on how I was feeling at the time I wrote them. I am reminded of little gems of inspiration that I may need to apply again and had forgotten. I sometimes think, “Man that’s quite an over-share! Why did I let those deep feelings slip out for all the world to see?”. I could get critical and think my more “needy” posts may appear like a slick of oil in my water jug, unappealing and in need of a rinse out (Not very refreshing Water Bearer!).

I realise my down times mar my usually positive nature. I am well practiced in trying to hide my imperfections behind a big smile and a bouncing dance-step. It certainly seems clear that some, who hope to interact with me closely, would rather the strong, faithful and fun Water Bearer, than the broken shell that’s left when my weakness is exposed (I know which one I like better!).

I have lost count of the times I got served a dish of criticism when I exposed my wounds to those who couldn’t handle the sight of me cowering in tears, or when I’ve been highly sensitive and reactive after an extended visit to, what felt like, the valley of the shadow of death. I see it in myself too, when I instinctively want to control and implode my children’s sadness. Wipe away the tears and sort them out, then and there.

My intention for my writing has always been to encourage, inspire and quench the thirst of doubt, however I believe honesty is more refreshing than constant optimism, and especially more so than denial. I am grateful for the opportunity to share with others what this life is teaching me. Sure, it would be less confronting without all the fear and desperation, lets be honest, but our Inner Angels are at war with our Inner Enemies, and that after all is the title of this blog.

Each and every one of us has thoughts we wish we didn’t have, not all are for sharing with every person we come across (a little appropriate timing and tact was a lesson I had to learn via the extended edition…with bonus tracks), yet many of us learn young that we shouldn’t think like this or that, and decide it is better to just pretend we didn’t.

Our truth is that, ours. If we hide our truth down deep and pretend it’s not there, never happened, not affecting us, we push it into a place where Inner Enemies have free reign. They fester in the dark, poisoning us from within.

However, when we have a place to share our truths, when we find the courage to let our weaknesses bathe in the light of honesty, we can remove the poison and begin to heal. The light is where our Inner Angels can work on our truths, our weakness, our fear.

So to all of you who have continued to drink from this here well, oil and all, I thank you. Your encouragement and prayers, your empathy and acceptance, are allowing my grin and groove to continue in my daily life outside the blogosphere. You are such a blessing to me!

08/11/2012

The Harsh Truth*

Posted in Encouragement, General, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , at 11:01 am by The Water Bearer

As someone who values truth, I can at times get quite protective of it, and will defend the responsibility that comes with sharing it. This post reflects such a time.

Over the years, I have come to see that there is a very real difference between the ‘painful truth’ and the ‘harsh truth’, yet they are often confused as being the same.

A painful truth is a reality that is difficult but must be faced.

A harsh truth is a piece of information, relative or not, that is delivered in a harsh manner and can cause more damage than is necessary.

So many countless times the ‘truth’ is used as an excuse to criticise and berate.

Pointing out imperfections over and over, hoping to ‘help’ someone alter themselves according to our opinion, is not the same thing as telling someone a painful truth.

If we deliver an opinionated criticism and receive a bad reaction, it becomes common to believe that the one rejecting the statement couldn’t handle the ‘painful truth’, when often this is not accurate at all.

Defending ones right to be at peace and accepted in their own imperfection, is not the same thing as reacting badly simply because they don’t like the “truth”. Misjudgments, lies and false accusations have the power to cause pain and negative reactions, just as much as, if not more than, the truth does. This needs to be considered, rather than making assumptions, when assessing a response.

Before we begin sprouting opinions willy-nilly, or giving weight to ‘harsh truths’ from others, we need to seriously ask ourselves, how many unsavory traits are actually sins that need to be ironed out by another imperfect human?

(Prophetic note: This is in no way attributed to times when God uses His prophets to deliver His direct word to identify actual sin. That would be another post on ‘painful truth’ entirely.)

In our youth we often assume we know it all, we have it all going on. We move out from under our parents control and the power to make our own decisions can cloud our self-perception with pride. In this state it is easy to believe our reasons to be harshly critical of others.

Having an honest opinion doesn’t automatically make it a truth that needs to be shared, unless perhaps you are asked directly to express that opinion.

As we get older we have the opportunity to develop self-awareness. If we can accept the truth about ourselves, it opens a door for us to realise that we don’t know it all, and we don’t have it all going on. Reaching this level of humility helps us accept people and their faults. It eases our expectations and our desire to manipulate others. It also helps us learn to be gentle when delivering a potentially painful truth.

We are all uniquely made, our personalities, talents and weaknesses are a mixed bag of specific traits. Some of these traits rub others up the wrong way, some are over-powering and cause discomfort, some are appreciated and even admired, some are abhorred and reprehended. Any one trait can cause different reactions from different people, depending on their own mindset at the time. One particular trait may be what people love about you, and others may be put off by the very same thing. And we can’t please everyone, we will only cause ourselves more misery if we try.

The rights and wrongs of someone’s individuality is a grey area, and opinions should be taken with a pinch of salt and not become something to condemn oneself about. Honest self-assessment and the company of honest, yet tactful and accepting people can help this self-assessment to grow in a healthy way.

The truth has gained a reputation of being harsh because of those who deliver it in a harsh manner. Truth is a blessing when delivered properly, with timing, tact and taste (according to my fabulous blogger friend T.K. Coleman), and is more likely to be received properly when these things are correctly in place…Yes there are still times when a truth said with tact is still rejected, but that is a position of  possible rejection those, who share the truth, must be willing to take. While expressing any truth at inappropriate times, with little or no tact or taste is extremely damaging and will usually cause defensive reactions and not be received well at all.

We must avoid using the ‘truth’ as an excuse to condemn and manipulate those around us. Decades of misuse of the word “truth”, has damaged it’s reputation and people’s desire to pursue it. Be responsible with the truth when you must deliver it, and avoid listening to those who tarnish it’s pure and freeing nature.

“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32 (NLT)

30/09/2012

Standing in Faith

Posted in Encouragement, Family, Finding Faith, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 9:01 am by The Water Bearer

My Dad was the main one who taught me how to know God, and how to let His Son’s love into my heart so it can shine out from within. We were estranged for many years and only reconnected when I was in my early 20’s. As we began to rebuild our relationship, Dad answered the multitude of questions I threw at him, but I did not simply swallow all his answers whole or unchallenged. I challenged every thing he tried to teach me. I must admit his logic was thorough and convincing and it gave me a foundation for the faith I had not really tried to develop since I was a child.

While Dad taught me how to get to know God, his words fell on the soft soil of my faith which had been there all along. The truth is that my faith was developed along the journey which life has taken me, through difficult times where I have learned hard lessons about myself, lessons which brought me humility. Humility brought me a softer and open heart, an open heart brought me encounters with God, miraculous encounters which called me to trust in Him.

All the times when I have trusted God, needing as much faith as I can muster, He has fulfilled every promise He has ever made to me. Promised outcomes brought me more love and appreciation for Him than I can explain. That love and trust brought me to want to know Him and be closer to Him, to try to understand how I may please Him. This understanding brought me under the guidance of His will. My willingness, mixed with His strength helped move me in obedience to His guidance, and that has brought me to the place of faith where I now stand.

As is common in most faith-walks, many people in my life, family, friends and acquaintances alike, have challenged my faith in one way or another. Countless times I have had to choose between keeping their approval and companionship, or staying strong in my faith and risk it all…

Standing up for my faith doesn’t always involve a debate about religion, it also arises during challenges of life and questions of morals.

I spent many years in my youth blaming others for everything that was going wrong in my life, and I allowed my anger and disgust in someone elses behaviour to permit me to respond or react anyway I saw fit, because it was THEIR fault not mine! This attitude only caused me less peace in my life and more of my own undesirable behaviour.

Luckily for me, my Dad was willing to risk my affection for him by telling me when I was out of line with God. At first I rejected his words and defended against the discomfort I felt, but he was patient and forgiving, and extremely humble. He stuck by me and stayed true, and over time I became very grateful for his loving honesty and help. I wish more than anything that he was still here to do that, although if I slow down and listen, in time I can usually hear a voice in my heart when I need to be pulled back into line.

These days I try hard to be less about blaming others and more about looking at myself and searching my faith for guidance of how I can handle the situation in God’s way. Therefore, this is also what I encourage others to do when we are discussing how they can deal with the challenges life throws their way.

It is sometimes uncomfortable and can cause tension when we are called to stand up for faith and not sit quietly as faithless anarchy flows out around us.

“Thou therefore gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak unto them all that I command thee: be not dismayed at them, lest I dismay thee before them” Jer 1:17 (ASV)

Sometimes it is hard to know when to speak up against something and speak out in faith, or to give grace and not risk offending others. Words of faith are powerful and need to be shared with much responsibility and restraint. It is careless to rub our faith in the face of one whose faith has not yet reached the same level of understanding. Patient, steadfast standing in faith, and a willingness to share the truth as it has been revealed, gains much ground for God. Whereas boasting of our knowledge, criticising, and undermining the obedience of one who has not yet come to understand the freedom of faith, rather than the restrictions of the laws, are all detrimental to the budding flower in the early stages of faith.

“Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.” Romans 14:13 (KJV)

In times of challenge where I have been required to stand strong in faith or choose to keep in favour with a person, I think of my Dad and how his truth, while hard to swallow, kept me on the narrow path. I recall the persecution God’s Son willingly took for our salvation and I feel compelled to stand along side Him in faith. I try not to focus on the fear that I may become out of favour with someone.  I have found that people are often disloyal and unloving, they break promises they have made, they can turn on you after years of relationship, they can change how they feel about you at any given moment, from loving and accepting you one day, then belittling and hating you the next, regardless of whether you have stood strong in faith or not.

However God knows, He sees all the times we stand strong, it matters more to Him than anyone here in this place.

So I will always strive to choose my faith. People come and go but the Lord stays with me day and night. He is loyal and faithful to me and in return I do my best to be loyal and faithful to Him. My Loving Father God has never, and will never turn on me, I hope and pray I continue to have the strength of faith to never turn on Him either!

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