07/03/2015

Control Yourself, Not Your Day!

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

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

TIA

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

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

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

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

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

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

Control Anger

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09/04/2013

The Weight of Change*

Posted in Encouragement, Finding Faith, Musings, Self-Awareness, Teen Trials tagged , , , , , , , at 8:08 am by The Water Bearer

weights

A lot is changing in my neck of the woods of late. Much of it I knew was coming in advance and it grew like storm clouds in the distance, looming and grey, with the possibility to bring either destruction or renewed freshness of life.

It has been a strange couple of months adjusting to each change as it tacked itself onto the growing cloud, and the upheaval of emotions brought with each new turn. Even though I am aware of the effect these changes are having on me, I have been trying my best to stay balanced. Trying to be aware of my sensitivity to the friction and fear that are close acquaintances of the unknown. Trying to hold myself in, keeping tight grip on the emotions that are brimming up inside me, but to be honest I have been failing much of the time.

As I read my older posts, I know I have had a true sense of peace at various points over recent months. Yet at the moment, the concept that I can get back there anytime soon is not tangible enough to calm me. I accept that so many changes are bound to cause unpleasant reactions to slip out and I have been endeavoring to demonstrate some self-compassion. Not very successfully, but still, I am trying.

When life gets many bursts of change all at once it can take on a manic appearance, and mania is an old foe of mine. I have had too many encounters with manic episodes to trust myself in its presence. I have a true deep affection for people in general, I love engaging and connection, but even so, I have come to learn over the years that I am not good at being around other manic people. Not for long anyway. I am too easily influenced by the emotions expressed by others, they add onto my own dysfunction. It is unhealthy for me to spend too much time with someone else’s mania, which I have no ability to calm or control.

So, as changes come thick and fast, the faster time seems to pass, not enough time to regroup my thoughts and get a grip, and it’s nearly impossible to slow my thoughts enough to seek God before I act upon them.

I have been hit with a condition that has had me bed ridden for almost 2 weeks. My Iron levels dropped so low that I could barely stand for more than a few seconds. I have had to watch and cope with all the pending changes from a horizontal position. You would think resting in bed for two weeks would encourage time to slow down, but feeling useless only added to the upheaval I have been battling with. Those enemies of friction and fear were not appeased in the slightest. The weight is still building on my shoulders.

So I guess this is my prayer request, in Yeshua’s Name:- That I stop trying to maintain control over things God is obviously trying to change, because they may be the keys to changes I have been asking Him to bring about within me. To have a subconscious level of trust in His plan. To recognise the stirring of mania as an opportunity to faithfully hand all my cares into His capable hands.

Your prayers are greatly appreciated…..

pray fingers

14/03/2013

Controlling Lies*

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

control

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

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

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

My hand is up! Anyone else?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Clinging Cross

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.

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