Man, do I ever need this post!
Have you ever heard of the phrase “He/she’s a whinging Pom”- Well I am originally from England and I can testify this is an accurate title.
I am not completely convinced this constant “whinging” or complaining is always evidence of an unhappy heart or even an unhappy life. I would like to think it is a release of truth and way of sharing our personal experience of life’s daily frustrations and trials with others. A way of being vulnerable with our fellow man and experiencing empathy.
I tend to be a pretty open person, I share truths about my life easily, but especially with those who I trust and am closest to.
Like many of you, I have been weighed down most of my life with one trial after another. Whether it be illness, financial concerns, relationship upheavals, injury, grief, persecution and the like. It seems as soon as I get one sorted there is another one waiting in the midst to hit me from left field. Sound familiar?
I share my trials, like those listed above, and also the daily irritations of life, such as emotional instability, disappointment in others, offense at the deception of the world system, frustration and confusion of motherhood and wifedom, overwhelming workload, or just plain inconveniences.
However, there is an element of negativity to complaining that I recently became self-conscious of. That perhaps my constant sharing of all that is troubling me might actually be making those around me, those I love most, feel heavier because of it. This hit my heart hard! The last thing I want to do is drag anyone down. I have an extremely blessed life and want everyone to know how grateful I am.
Feeling convicted in my spirit by this, I was desperate to find a way to either stop complaining completely, or to change my attitude so that my complaining isn’t disheartening my loved ones and ruining my testimony. I have been praying on this, and seeking the Lord’s wisdom, and this morning I woke up with the answer!
It came to me like this…
LEARN TO FOCUS ON THE LOVE PATTERN
The pattern of life under God’s control is – Suffering leads to Growth or Change all while abounded by Blessings.
Let me explain that a little better….
Suffering softens us and exposes our weaknesses, so rather than complaining negatively about life’s trials, use the urge to complain to prompt us to “Boast in our weakness” (thanks Jefferson Bethke). By being grateful that God sees us completely and hears our cries for change, and accepting that these trials expose our weakness, we take our weakness to God which pushes us further and deeper into relationship and intimacy with Him through Christ. Whose grace and strength washes over us, giving us a new level of change or growth, plus a new level of faith and freedom. All the time He gives comforting signs He is with us, along with abundant provision and protection.
All this is done from His LOVE! Love for you and love for me. This ‘love pattern’ is designed to pull us into His loving arms, regardless of how ‘good’ we have been but rather dependant on how frail and flawed we admit that we are.
Our positive vulnerability will encourage others to be vulnerable, building true connection and empathy with those we share this earth with. All the while giving us an opportunity to share this wonderful news of redemption.
So therefore when someone asks us how our day was and we feel that familiar urge rise within us, lets shift the focus of our complaint from defeat to victory, using our trials to spread the joy of God’s LOVE PATTERN.
I need to end on a prayer here…
Dear Gracious Lord, I lift up your name in Glory as I realise this wisdom you have shared with us. Help us all to keep your love pattern the focus of our trials. Don’t let our weakness allow this wisdom to be forgotten, use us and our trials to spread your love! In the mighty name of your Son I pray! Amen!
One of the concepts my Dear Departed Dad always used to explain to me, has come back to me recently. It’s as though he still helping me, even after his passing.
Back when he was still around, and I was struggling to keep the faith and stay on track, He always had a phrase of comfort, or a story with stability to ground me. During series of events that made me freak out with fear and dread, events that set off all my triggers of my psychological issues, when I was filled with self-condemnation and depression etc. He knew exactly what to say to provide the support that I needed.
This is another one of his concepts that has come back into my recollection…
“Life is a play, earth is the stage. You are merely playing your role. What you face here and how you must react to it will not last forever. You are just up on stage reciting the lines, responding to the actors, the director and the plot. This is not your permanent place, this is a stepping stone to the next place. Just hold on, play the best part you can, and know that when the curtain drops it will all be over and you will never have to play that role again.”
Does that resonate with you as much as it does me?
If an actor makes a mistake on stage, they just keep going as if nothing happened (yet determined to do better next time). If the audience isn’t paying attention to them they just keep on going, doing their best, the reactions around them hardly effect the play.
In the past it helped me avoid so much dread. It helped me step aside and look at the issues without letting them overwhelm me. How I dearly miss his words of wisdom. I am so grateful that they come back to me like this so I can lean on them once again.
Even though life is tough, and gets to be too much at times, we have also been given some great roles to play that balance out the bad. The times I feel like a good mum, when I play with my girls and nurture them with kindness, approval, affection and attention. As a wife, when I can comfort and support my man. Times I feel completely loved as a child of God, Or am brave enough to share something I created. Amongst gatherings of loved ones filled with laughter and companionship, or as a servant to those in need. Even just the ability to enjoy my own company while staring deep into the blue sky above or a picturesque sunset, or the crashing waves of the ocean.
There are so many fabulous roles for us to play, let’s not allow the harder roles drag us into despair. One day all will be washed new, the curtain will drop on our time here and the next place will be where we can be our true authentic selves, not poisoned by the inner enemies we carry around with us while we are here.
It is just a play and this is just the stage!
Ever get that feeling that the world is dragging you to become a person you don’t want to be?
When I’m asleep I can escape the world. No decisions to make, no temptation to resist, nothing to discern. During slumber I am not wondering if I will disappoint someone, I have no emotions to battle against. There is no war between Inner Angels & Enemies, no calling to obey and nothing to control.
Thank you Lord for precious sleep!
However, sleeping away our lives is not a productive option.
We open our eyes to a world of demand and opportunity, of obligations and expectations. A daily tight-rope walk toward faithful success, over the abyss of chaos and weakness. A balancing act between grabbing for the spiritual presence of God and functioning happily in the world we must live in.
When life gets tough I put on God’s armour, and draw nearer to Him. I know the best way to fight life’s battles is God’s way. In these most difficult times I live each day fully aware of the spiritual war that surrounds me. I become vigilant about what I allow my soul to be exposed to. I am guarded about what my eyes see and my ears hear, about who I spend time with, what movies I watch, books I read etc. I focus on my self-discipline and time in devotion. How much of the world I allow into my home and my soul becomes a constant concern.
Yet, when life goes well, when stress and drama fade, it’s common to get relaxed and drop our guard. It seems so easy to be pulled along by the world. Effortlessly slipping into self-indulgence when the opposition appears to be giving us a break. Time to celebrate the wins, and enjoy the blessings the Lord has given. A little of the world begins to show up here and there, the odd subtle seductive temptation. If you’re like me, you might breeze over them, certain these tiny battles are irrelevant after the masses of spiritual blood and tears shed previously.
Time passes quickly, more and more of the world creeps in, sneakily distracting us from our calling, from our dreams, from the character God has been developing within. Inner enemies are always hunting determinedly for an opening, seeking to slip into our lives and knock our character off track. Encouraging us to pick our distraction of choice and indulge in it.
Time and time again I recognise that the more intimate I am with God, the more offended I am by the evil in the world, and the more I resist it. Yet when my focus is not firmly on Him, I become less sensitive to it. After a while I get a tap on the shoulder from the Lord who impresses on my heart how much evil is being slipped under the door of each and every home. Desensitizing us to its poison, distracting us from the bigger picture. I lift my head, I open my eyes, I see it. I find myself knee deep in the world again.
I repent of my weakness and lean into the strong arms of Yeshua. I let His love wash over me, because self-condemnation is such a familiar foe, it will drag me down, making it even harder to climb out of the deep worldly waters. I come back to the place where His strength helps me to consciously regroup my focus with my calling, and leave the slippery slopes of the world behind.
Inner Enemies are real! Just look within, you will find them. Pushing the world aside limits their access to us…. I walk this line, I aim for balance, but no matter how hard I try, life has a way of reminding me that I can’t do it without the Inner Angels dispatched by God to help me.
In a recent post I spoke on standing in faith in times of challenge, as you may have guessed I have also given my testimony to many, many people whom God has brought across my life. I have let my experiences with Him pour out into others as often as opportunity becomes available.
Some have been extremely grateful to hear my tales of interactions with God, and then there have been times when these words were thrown back in my face. I have been mocked for my trust in them. There have been times when I thought to myself, ‘I won’t share anymore, I am wasting my breath and time.’ (Although God has not stopped filling my life and so I am still talking Him up, only with less casting of ‘pearls before swine’)
My eldest daughter has expressed a similar response, as she often feels isolated and regretful for sharing her faith with friends who have trouble taking her insights on board. She would also rather keep it all to herself.
When we were discussing this recently I told her the story of the lady who found me on Facebook a couple of years ago. It had been over 20years since I had seen or spoken to her. She told me that she had given her life to Christ a few years earlier and that she thought of me on that special day, of my words of faith and my character. I was touched deeply and humbled that even as a child, in my young stages of faith, God used me to connect with the spiritual standing of another. It may have taken 20 years to hear proof, but the point was clear. I explained to my daughter that we are here to plant a seed, other times we may be called to water the seed already planted, sometimes we may need to help some dig out a bad seed planted by the enemy which is deterring them from faith.
It may take 20 years before someone finally makes use out of the words faithfully poured into them, and just because we don’t always see the flower bloom in their life, just because they don’t react in the way we always hope for, doesn’t mean we had no effect. Powerful words will leave a stain on hearts and minds.
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue; And they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” Prov 18:21 (ASV)
I wonder how many of us consider if our words may have left a stain on the lives of those we have spoken to?
The truth about stains is they cannot be erased, they linger around whether you want them to or not, whether you asked for them or not, either way they stay. Some are reminders of good times. The memory of a party with laughter and good company is reflected in the hint of red wine staring up from a floor rug. A child’s shirt or pants splattered in brightly coloured paint as evidence of a day spent being creative and expressive. The soft colour and ruffled edges of a baby’s blanket stained yellow with time after being packed away for many years, gone in a blink.
Then there are the stains we wish we could not recall. A ring on a piece of furniture from a disrespectful guest, or blood from a painful wound. And don’t we all suffer from frustration at the ones which magically appear on a favoured piece of clothing without any recollection of how it came to be….
I read this post Are you an Elephant? by a fellow blogger, and his point got me started on this idea of the lingering effect of our words. He was asking if we let the words we heard in our childhood become so ingrained in our self-belief that they may be holding us back. We easily allocate onus to those who have left word stains on us, but isn’t it time to ask ourselves, what kind of words are we staining others with?
I shudder to think of all the hurtful things I have said to people over the years, when emotional tirades have flown so easily from my lips to their ears. Even after countless apologies and repentance for the words I regret, grace may be given but I doubt the stain is easily erased. I’m sure we have all forgiven many harsh words said in the heat of the moment, but the ones that cut deep, the ones laced with false accusations, or that weren’t apologised for, have stained me. I am still guarded because of them. Perhaps you are too…
“Hide me from the secret plots of the wicked, from the rebellion of the workers of iniquity, Who sharpen their tongue like a sword, And bend their bows to shoot their arrows–bitter words.” Psalms 64:2-3 (NKJV)
Let us pray for a bridle to control our tongue before we open our mouths to speak in criticism, let us speak boldly when sharing words of faith, and lets consider the stains we are leaving in the lives of others.
“There are some whose uncontrolled talk is like the wounds of a sword, but the tongue of the wise makes one well again.” Prov 12:18 (BBE)
Until the passing of my Dad from cancer a couple of years ago I had not previously suffered the loss of anyone who was extremely close to my heart. It was such a shock to my inner spirit, even though I consciously knew it was coming, I had no idea how I would handle the grief of such a loss.
He was the most spiritually-powerful person in my life who would fervently pray for me when I was too deep in my own weakness to pray for myself, which of course was when I needed it the most. He was my mentor, my confidant and my friend and the hole he left in my life is proving to be extremely hard to fill.
I guess I am lucky in the sense that he helped me to build such intensely strong beliefs, and somewhat of an understanding of the spiritual realm, I truly believe to my core that I will be with him for eternity when I too leave this physical realm. He has left reverberations throughout my spirit so that I can hear his voice from time to time, sometimes I dream vivid dreams where I am spending time with him, it’s almost like I get a nights holiday to visit him in that place where time and gravity does not exist. Sometimes I get a sign specifically relating to him and a memory which I believe he wants me to remember and to apply to a current situation, a bit like advice from beyond.
Yet I miss him dearly, it is strange that life just goes on without someone. I remember that first day when I woke up without feeling the weight of his death on my chest, when it wasn’t the first thing to float into my conscious mind from the distant sleep I was emerging from, it was scary, like I was forgetting that he was gone, and thinking he was just at his house waiting for me to visit. Then something would happen, I would hear a song, or see a picture, perhaps find a piece of paper with his unique handwriting on it, and it would hit me all over again like a punch to my stomach and a tear to my eye. He is really gone!
Recently I had a friend share with me her pain and confusion at the loss of her own father, quite simply the anger she feels at how unfair it was for him to be taken from her and in a way she could not fathom he deserved. It is so hard for our carnal human minds to comprehend all that is going on in the universe. I have had many experiences and interactions with the spiritual realm and yet my mind still has trouble grasping for the tangible reality of it. I feel a sense of duty to try and bring my friend some comfort and perhaps perspective in the midst of her pain. I am praying about it as I write this, asking for the Lord to give me the words to explain why these things are part of a plan we cannot yet see the final design of.
I believe this place is merely a stage for us to perform a role upon; a place to act out all mannerisms of human nature to develop our character and qualify for the position we will take up permanently in the next place. A temporary stepping stone in the midst of a more permanent yet spiritual world. If you can imagine a sphere similar to earth’s atmosphere, and picture it as a parallel universe where all the mysteries of life are no longer hidden from our human sight or understanding. Then take a paper thin layer and place it around the sphere, this layer represents the physical realm. It is connected to, but also separate from the spiritual realm. The physical realm is only a tiny element of the universe in its entirety, full of limitations yet vital to our personal journey. If you lay eternity out in a timeline form with no beginning and no end, imagine how tiny the blip of a human lifetime would be! A mere 70-80 years more or less is nothing compared to the infinite existence of the spiritual platform. So why does it feel like it goes on forever and then ends abruptly and somewhat finitely? As we grow older, we usually grow more distant and cynical in connection to the spiritual realm. This place is all we can see and touch,it can harden our minds and can prevent openness to unknown things. There are a chosen few who have a heightened sensitivity to all things spiritual, a bit like having a few extra radio stations than is widely available. (I believe this metaphor gives a basic way to shed some light on people such as psychics, mediums, paranormal investigators etc.) It is just as common as someone with an extra special gift for mathematical equations, science, or perhaps medicine, an extra level of awareness in a particular field is all.
We are not meant to stay here, this life is hard, full of aging disabilities, poor health, worries, disappointments, heartaches and unmet expectations. The sooner we are taken to the next place the sooner we must be needed in our next and permanent role. The butterfly effect from any life-force here is evident to some more than others; that those touched by a life, no matter how long or short that life may be, are caught up the universes unfolding design. The feelings and experiences brought about by connection to a life or the loss of it are essential to the development of the people they connected with.
Of course there are many, many wonderful and joyful things to experience here as well, I am not a pessimist by any means, I believe there are elements of both heaven and hell on earth to help us discern the path we choose and give us a taste of what is to come. We are not meant to understand everything yet, that is why it is called faith. Faith – meaning trust, confidence, and reliance.
WOW! Praise the LORD! As I sit editing this, I’m hoping it will be easy to follow and comprehend, hoping it will help, suddenly a Christian lady whom I work with walks in and hands me a book. She has no idea of what I am writing about, yet I sense the spirit world using her to give me the nudge I need to trust my words.
The book is a true story titled – “Heaven is for Real” by Todd Burpo with Lynn Vincent …… Here is a link to see an interview with Colton Burpo now 11years old – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hhT36Dizo2s&feature=relatedThe back cover reads: “Do you remember the hospital Colton?” Sonja said. “Yes, Mommy, I remember,” He said “That’s where the angels sang to me.” When Colton Burpo made it through an emergency appendectomy, his family was overjoyed at his miraculous survival. What they weren’t expecting, though, was the story that emerged in the months that followed – a story as beautiful as it was extraordinary, detailing their little boy’s trip to heaven and back. Colton, not yet four years old, told his parents he left his body during the surgery – and authenticated that claim by describing exactly what his parents were doing in another part of the hospital while he was being operated on. He talked of visiting heaven and relayed stories told to him by people he met there whom he had never met in life, sharing events that happened even before he was born. He also astonished his parents with descriptions and obscure details about heaven that matched the Bible exactly, though he had not yet learned to read. With disarming innocence and the plainspoken boldness of a child, Colton tells of meeting long-departed family members. He describes Jesus, the angels, how ‘really, really big‘ God is, and how much God loves us. Retold by his father, but using Colton’s uniquely simple words, Heaven is for Real offers a glimpse of the world that awaits us, where as Colton says, “Nobody is old and nobody wears glasses.” Heaven is for real will forever change the way you think of eternity, offering the chance to see, and believe, like a child. “A beautifully written glimpse into heaven that will encourage those who doubt and thrill those who believe.” – Ron Hall, co-author of Same kind of difference as me.
I have not yet read this book, however what I have shared here gave me chills over my entire body as I read it. I thanked my work friend with a hug and a tear in my eye, I’m not sure if she knows how much I appreciate that she was used by angels to confirm to me all that I have written here. I feel I had no choice but to tack it onto the bottom of this blog, and I can’t wait to get reading this book!