08/05/2013

Turning His Face*

Posted in Encouragement, Finding Faith, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 8:49 am by The Water Bearer

woman-reaching-upward

Through these few weeks of suffering the condition I mentioned in a recent post, I have been more focused than ever on bringing more of God’s presence into my day-to-day life. Funny that!

We always stretch further for Him when we are suffering, don’t we?

Last week I completed a 2 week fast. No alcohol, No TV, and did not touch a blog site or any social media. My intention was to meditate, and work on my novel, as much as possible (although my plans are not always His and He had other things for me to deal with).

The foundation of a successful fast, is giving up anything that seeks to control us, anything we enjoy enough to get lost in, or find a pull towards during tough times. Easy distractions or addictions, habits and weaknesses. During a fast we make a 100% non-negotiable promise, to God, to go without which ever thing we are fasting for an achievable amount of time.

Each time the tempting thought arises we acknowledge God and our promise to Him, we reinforce that promise and we ask for His help when it gets tough. By doing this we are making some huge expressions of faith from our softened hearts. (God just loves it when we do this!)

These are some things that speak out of our hearts during a fast like this – God is real, He watches us, We revere Him enough to want to keep our promise. We need his help when we are weak. We are willing to give up the pleasures of the world to acknowledge Him and invite Him in to our situation.

It is the most powerful exercise I have found to overcome the world and my flesh, and witness His presence.

The first thing I noticed during this particular fast, was how much spare time I had to get other things done. I accomplished so much, and after feeling useless for a number of weeks, I felt a great sense of achievement as I ticked off many things on my never ending to-do list.

The second thing I noticed was how much easier it was to discover God’s guidance and to find things to praise Him for. The medication I am on for this condition has exacerbated my mood disorder significantly, I am more emotionally sensitive than ever. It can only take a millisecond for me to burst into tears, or flick on the rage switch, grit my teeth and loose any place of calm. Often, in times like this, I pray. Usually something desperate like “Oh Lord help me, take away my emotions, help so-and-so see how hard this is for me and not aggravate me! I don’t want to feel like this” etc. Then I wait…with angry tears….until He changes things.

However, during this fast I found praising Him was a much quicker way to flick off that unpleasant switch.

I recommend everyone tries this, it is not always easy, but it works every time!

Right in the midst of a full blown attack, when our Inner Enemies are hitting us from every angle, rather than fighting back in anger, we can end the battle then and there. By pushing aside that tidal wave of ammunition,  which fuels unpleasant emotions, just for a second, and find something, anything to be grateful for. Praise God for that, whatever it may be. It could be as simple as the ability to breathe, or the warm bed you are about to snuggle up in… It could be the legs that allow you to walk away from something aggravating. 😉

If there is  anything that will send our Inner Enemies high-tailing it into the distance, it is Praise! Worship! Gratitude! Forgiveness! A sure way to grab onto the face of God and turn it towards you!

praising 2

29/04/2013

The Ungodliest Version of Me*

Posted in Encouragement, Finding Faith, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , at 8:22 am by The Water Bearer

fragiile

Have you ever experienced an immense trial, and found you managed to bear through it? You knew that you had a good reason to loose the plot, however, you found a supernatural place of calm amidst the storm. Have you gone through some of the most troubling ordeals and not been shaken, in faith or character, by them? I believe I have, once or twice.

On the other hand, in the most unfathomable fashion, a tiny splinter of affliction can send us spinning into a cycle of destructive behaviour. Transforming us into the most ungodly version of ourselves. I have definitely been there too. When being a prisoner of our own flesh becomes unbearable. I have felt like this more times than I can count, especially during bouts of depression. I am sure many others have too.

*****

Don’t get me wrong, most of the time I quite like being me. But sometimes, other times, I get sick of the sound of my own voice, sick of the thoughts piling up in my head, sick of the sight of my reflection. These times I just want to escape myself, because I know there is a much better version of myself out there somewhere. Somewhere elusive.

The tricky part is, I can’t MAKE myself be the better version. No matter how hard I try, I can’t stop myself falling into the sin and nature that is part of my flesh. I say to myself to do one thing, and find myself doing another. Sometimes it is as if I can hear myself from a distant place in my mind, through miles of murky water, saying the very thing I ordered myself not to say. I am a wretched version of myself sometimes!

sad swirl

These times bring me to my knees, and in need of comfort. There are times we all need comforting. Who is the best comforter I know? The Lord. I open the pages of His word, I see Paul, a great man of God struggling with the very same inner enemies as me. The words comfort me…

“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do, but what I hate, I do.”

So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am!”

“So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.”

(Romans 7:15 & 21-25)

Woa! Those words bring me such comfort, because they express my own battle so perfectly. Empathy is a wonderful consolation for shame and self-condemnation.

********

I think, the reason I, and others, have found that calm place amidst the biggest storms, is because we knew we couldn’t manage it all. Somewhere in our subconscious, we knew the trial was too big for us on our own, our hearts were fragile and we accepted that. Our ego got turned off, our pride took a step aside. Our broken and contrite hearts were exposed, and God will not ignore a heart like that.

“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.”

(Psalm 51:17)

The greatest peace I have found while trapped in this body, is when I see the Lord take over. When I have reached my wits end. When I stop kidding myself into thinking I have enough self-control to be better, and beg God to take the reigns. I repent of all my misgivings, my efforts to depend on myself and not on Him. I repent of my easily led flesh that encourages me to wander toward the distractions of the world and away from God.

palms out

When you reach your wits end, that’s when God begins. I hope you enjoy the words of this wonderful poem.

Wit’s End Corner
Are you standing at “Wit’s End Corner”?
Friend with troubled brow
Are you thinking of what is before you,
And all you are bearing now?
Does all the world seem against you,
And you in the battle alone?
Remember-at “Wit’s End Corner”
Is just where God’s power is shown.

Are you standing at “Wit’s End Corner”?
Blinded with wearying pain,
Feeling you cannot endure it,
You cannot bear the strain,
Bruised through the constant suffering,
Dizzy, and dazed, and numb?
Remember-at “Wit’s End Corner”
Is where Jesus loves to come.

Are you standing at “Wit’s End Corner”?
Your work before you spread,
A mountain of tasks unfinished,
And pressing on heart and head,
Longing for strength to do it,
Stretching out trembling hands?
Remember–at “Wit’s End Corner”
The Burden-bearer stands.

Are you standing at “Wit’s End Corner”?
Then you’re just in the very spot
To learn the wondrous resources
Of Him who faileth not:
No doubt to a brighter pathway
Your footsteps will soon be moved,
But only at “Wit’s End Corner”
Is the “God who is able” proved.

Poem by Antoinette Wilson

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!

08/02/2013

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

02/10/2012

At War with Inner Enemies**

Posted in Encouragement, Family, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , at 12:34 pm by The Water Bearer

I started this blog for a number of reasons. I have a strong desire to share with others how to recognise and overcome our inner enemies. I hoped my experiences would prevent others from being captives of lies and destruction in their lives. Yet recently the Lord allowed me to come face-to-face with a new level of my own inner war.

I had known for a few weeks that a trial was coming in the form of a get-together. I knew that my forgiveness and trust would be challenged. I won’t lie and tell you I wasn’t anxious. I wasn’t afraid of who may come at me, I was concerned about how I may react if my boundaries were challenged and the situation turned ugly. I still don’t trust myself or my reactions when faced with inner enemies from my past. I know I need to keep my boundaries strong when they are shot at and stomped upon, but strong boundaries are a relatively new practice for me and I have yet to test them properly against the ‘big guns’ in my life, not enough to feel secure in them anyway.

I decided to go on a 3 day fast, and to pray for God to hold me in His safe grip. I reminded myself that all is in God’s hands and to be prepared, rather than taken unaware, if the situation turned down an ugly path.

The shock factor is what sends me into an uncontrollable spiral, so I try to avoid being shocked if at all possible.

I sensed the spiritual pressure building a day or two before the test, my reactions were aggressive and volatile. I kept praying, and filling myself with the word of God, apologising to all around me for my prickly nature. The trial came and went without drama, but it was when I relaxed in the aftermath that my inner enemies saw fit to sink their claws into me and my old insecurities. This was an onslaught from left field and I was entirely shocked!

For the following 3days I was completely overwhelmed with spiritual attack, I believed the lies they were feeding me, and allowed them to control my reactions and emotions. No matter how much I prayed or read my Bible, I couldn’t lift my head out from the murkiness to see clearly. I truly believed every lying thought in my head. My attack opened the door, inviting itself into my home. Arguments and tears flooded the rooms, harsh words and discord became rampant. Love, joy, peace and truth were nowhere to be found!

On the fourth day the curse was broken and I saw….

My enemies had been telling me I was failing God, that I would never complete His request of me to write His novel. That my Husband didn’t really support my writing, or understand me, or love me for all my uniqueness, lies provoking thoughts that all my blessings were a moment from collapse. No matter how hard I tried to explain, hoping someone would convince me differently, I was left hanging over the abyss with only lies to keep me company.

In my usual analytical fashion I assessed myself trying figure out what had inspired this attack. Besides the fact that I am usually spiritually challenged around a full moon, and had the lingering residual pressure from the get-together. I was also facing strong emotions as I cleaned out old boxes, ones which had belonged to my Dad and had been sitting in my garage, since he passed.

As I sit here and reflect on it all, I feel so weak for allowing my old insecurities to rise up and cause dysfunction in my family. I’ve confessed, I’ve praised, I’ve sobbed for my Dad, wishing him to be here to pray for me, like he used to, when times like this arise and I am left exposed and vulnerable.

Yet I can’t help but understand that something huge happened in the spiritual realm as a result of all this. Plus of course my own massive realisations. New levels of self-awareness, humility and growth. Renewed faith and confidence in God’s strength to still pull me out of all the dark times, and all in His perfect timing and not mine.

I would love for all my posts to be filled with encouragement from my accomplished victories, rather than wallowing in despondent self-assessment. Yet I refuse to hide from the truth of my weakness, and will give glory for the only strength that gets me through. His!

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!

04/09/2012

Walking the Neutral Line Between Fear and Promise**

Posted in Encouragement, Finding Faith tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 8:59 pm by The Water Bearer

A few years ago, I was going through the toughest time, so far, in my life. It was a time I had been called to obey God in an area of my life that was more difficult, and scary, and emotional than I have ever had to do before or since. I was directed to walk away from my God given promise, away from my blessed ‘dream come true’ and wait for it to come find me again in a new stage of God’s perfect will.

As I waited in obedience I spent a lot of time sharing my heart in the sanctuary of those trustworthy and dearest to me, this lessened my heaviness and got me through many ominous weeks.

I wonder if any of them managed to keep up with the plot of my story very well?

I remember that I spoke a lot about my fears, the sense of impending doom which hovered around me day and night, as I waited on the promised outcome of both the situation and my life. Much of the time I was floored, barely able to hold the phone to my ear as I poured my tears into the receiver. Overwhelmed with thoughts hammering me to give up, cave in, and disobey. Convincing me I was drowning in an ocean of faithless doubt.

Then the next time I reached out I felt elated, the sun shone brighter and colour reappeared in my world, as I shared some small, seemingly insignificant, event that had sparked hope in me. Often I was directed to a reminder of God’s promise, a perfect sign to confirm that all was not lost. I would let this tiny shred of positive gold uplift me to clouds of high hope. I would prattle on and on, in a excited, overjoyed way, certain that this divine piece of evidence was the turning point in my pain, proof that my promise was not far from my reach. However usually, if I held on too tight, my buoyant piece of fluff would be blown away by the days end.

Another wave would come, heavy and unexpected, it would swallow my hope whole, like unwelcome and uninvited guests, dragging their luggage of negativity and dread into my life.

My mood and focus polarised from one minute to the next, like an unpredictable swelling sea. I filled my soul with scriptures speaking of God’s strength and faithfulness, of His love and mercy. I sang songs of praise daily, determined to keep my faith strong through the trial. If I stopped this for too long I crumbled under the attack of an enemy, who slipped through the cracks in my armour, and toyed with me in the worst ways. I was simply blown in all directions by breezes from the spiritual world. It was unbearable at times, unsure if I was even sane anymore.

My Dad was a priceless ally during this stormy season, as I helplessly clung to obedience like it was a lone life jacket floating in shipwrecked waters, I recall clearly the pearls of wisdom he gave me.

“Waiting patiently on God, in a tumultuous time, is less extreme if you can learn to stay neutral. If you allow yourself to get too emotionally high then you will have farther to fall when the next blow hits. If you stay hopeless and low it will be harder to drag yourself back up to be able to cope each day. Try hard not to be pulled either side of the line into optimism or pessimism, until you have proof that the season has changed and God has completely fulfilled His promise to you.”

He went on to explain that the enemy may give me positive hope only to make his blows of destruction all the more painful and hard to bear. I was to remain in the middle, not overjoyed and not defeated.

He was absolutely right, it made all the difference to try to execute any amount of emotional self-control and trust that God was working things out in His own time and His own way. The waves began to level out.

“Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things unseen.” (Hebrews 11:1 KJV)

We can get through these types of trials without the massive tumult of highest highs and the lowest lows, if we try to walk the neutral line between the fear and the promise. Realising that faith in an unseen God can allow all our hopes to become reality.

Somehow, with the continual support from those who poured into me with faith, compassion and scripture, I managed to hold on in obedience for a number of months until the season did change. The proof was confirmed in the most miraculous ways. And God did in fact bring my promise back into my life. Only when it came back, it was far better than the version of the promise I had let go of and trusted into His hands. He is an awesome and powerful God, only limited by our own lack of faith, our impatience and our mistaken presumption that He is unwilling to perform.

15/07/2012

A Fragile Heart*

Posted in Encouragement, General, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 2:22 pm by The Water Bearer

I haven’t been in the blogosphere much this week, because I am being dealt with, being brought a new level of perspective and change. I recognise that this type of growth usually springs forth from a fragile heart. My heart has been extremely fragile this week…..

In this condition I write and write, pouring my soul out in front of me. I have written 6 or 7 posts this week alone. Yet my state of mind and vulnerable heart are preventing me from seeing my words clearly and I am unable to trust myself or my writing. I am too close to it at the moment, so it’s impossible to edit or publish anything. I guess as usual I have too much to say.

I am going to try to use this time to withdraw, to calm my mind and spirit with relaxation, drink plenty of herbal tea and meditate on God’s word. Perhaps this break will even help me work on the novel which I have been trying to write for over a decade. I will come back to the wonderful blogosphere soon, I will read your fabulous posts and comment when I can get my head around it. I will publish only in God’s timing and His certainty. Until then I ask for your prayers, prayers for me to gain some clarity and some calm inspiration. I am fighting off my inner enemies as best I can, I need time to concentrate on my faith, put on God’s armor and call on my inner angels. I have faith that something amazing is going to emerge from the midst of these trials…..Until then…..

“Jehovah preserveth the simple: I was brought low, and he saved me. Return unto thy rest, O my soul; For Jehovah hath dealt bountifully with thee. For thou hast delivered my soul from death, Mine eyes from tears, And my feet from falling. I will walk before Jehovah In the land of the living.”

Psalms 116:6-9 (ASV)

02/07/2012

The Two Voices of Guilt**

Posted in Encouragement, Finding Faith, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 8:54 pm by The Water Bearer

When I posted ‘When will we feel good enough?’ recently, I received a comment which sparked an outpouring of my spirit. One of my readers mentioned the guilty feelings of self-condemnation which still linger in her mind even after many years of learning to “lay off” and stop criticising and punishing herself for not being perfect. As I attempted to reply underneath I found the keyboard took on a life of its own and after a few minutes I had written this blog post (I thought it a bit too important to hide in the comment box and not share openly with you all). It has more ‘Theological talk’ than I usually like to put into my blog, as my aim is also to reach those outside the church. I am sorry if this is too ‘heavy’ for anyone and I am happy to try to answer any questions about the things I’ve explained here.

Dear Reader,

I understand how this feels, it took a car accident and nervous breakdown for me to address viewing myself through the judgmental eyes of others, or even the condemning eyes I had been viewing myself with for so long. It is a hard habit to break indeed, a lot of therapy and a long faith walk, yet it still hovers in the back of my mind. That is up until I address it, I now know that I need to go back and read my prayer journal and remember all the things I have learned about myself, about God, about my inner enemies and my army of inner angels.

I have come to find there are two ‘voices of guilt’.

One is the Holy Spirit convicting our hearts when we are in fact guilty of something which is causing a blockage between us and God. I have found usually pride is the one hardest to see for ourselves, and its easy to also avoid recognising more obvious ones, such as sinful anger, lying, idolatry, bitterness, and self-indulgence just to name a few. When we are guilty of anything, the Holy Spirit is sent to help us feel it accordingly. Through repentance of sin, explained in my previously mentioned post, we can be absolved of these sins and set free by God’s love, mercy and grace, to feel ‘Good Enough’.

When the Spirit of God is being nurtured inside us, we desire to be perfect. This is because the Spirit of God is perfect but is housed within our imperfect human hearts. The spirit is desiring to be perfect rather than actually feeling it’s pure perfection, due to being covered by our flesh (sin). Flesh became the access point of our inner enemies when Adam and Eve ate the ‘fruit’. This is why the saying “The flesh is weak” is so common.

So therefore the other ‘voice of guilt’, is the false guilt of our inner enemy, whose purpose is to gain access to us and deter our hearts from being open to God’s all powerful, healing Love.

Our inner enemy does not want us to feel God’s Love because it will weaken both the enemy within, and strengthen our flesh, time and time again. The enemy can’t allow that to happen without a fight because he will increasingly lose access to us, so we are fed lies of guilt and thoughts of not being ‘perfect enough’ in an attempt to dilute our faith and trust in God’s love.

So while I still hear the voice of guilt as many others do, I understand that I must discern which voice is talking to my heart and take the appropriate action. If it is the enemy trying to falsely condemn me then I need to use my inner angels to fight him off, and focus hard on God’s love for me. I recommend we all try this method when dealing with false guilt.

Prayers & Blessing to you.

This post is another one super hard for me to publish, while I have been brought into an understanding of these things, I have spent many years avoiding sharing these insights with anyone, except for some family members and 1 or 2 faithful friends. This is because it is usually too heavy and complex for those outside the church, and I come across too young and secular when discussing within the church. I often feel I have no audience for this type of talk and therefore just try to keep it to myself. I pray my reader  is helped a little by it.

27/06/2012

When will we feel ‘Good Enough’?

Posted in Encouragement, Finding Faith, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 11:06 am by The Water Bearer

So often many of us want to crawl into a hole when faced with the reality that we aren’t perfect. There are so many more complex points I could write on this topic, but in this post I will just try to touch on a few basics. There is a cloudy grey area between being perfect and being good enough, and many of us feel if we fall short of perfection we must not be good enough.  Sure we tell ourselves over and over again the cliche that “Nobody’s Perfect”, we try to convince ourselves that we are ok with that, but it only seems to distract us for a moment and before long we are back wondering how we can feel good enough for longer?

Self-indulgence seems the most common way to distract ourselves for longer, things like overeating, retail therapy, casual sex, drinking, drugs, gambling, any form of a good time that helps us enjoy ourselves and takes our minds away from the disappointment of feeling like a failure. Only problem is all these can leave us with feelings of regret when we either drink too much, spend too much, eat too much, or sleep with someone we wish we hadn’t, making worse the feeling inside that we were trying to deal with in the first place. Other non-destructive ways are also attempted, like being overly ‘good’, perhaps we go on health kicks, take up a new hobby or volunteer for the school P&C, church craft stalls, food vans, fundraising etc. Obviously these are fabulous gestures when coming from the heart for the right reasons, but when they are to distract us from that feeling of still not being good enough we often find the feeling is still there not long after we hang up the Good Samaritan shoes.

I can relate to this in so many ways, in my own private thoughts I always knew what was expected of me, and that it was out of my reach. I had all these desires which I knew I wasn’t meant to have, I too dealt with my emotional thoughts in ways I knew were bad for me. I craved a brief moment of relief, where I could feel good enough already. I believed I knew what was ‘right’, but no matter how hard I tried, I still managed to find myself doing the wrong thing.

Strangely enough, I felt the exact opposite when I compared myself to those around me. If my ‘goodness’ was challenged by anyone, I could quickly dispute their claims by defending and justifying my actions, and pointing out how much worse they were than me. If I ever saw someone do anything ‘wrong’ I stored it in my memory bank, ready to remind them if ever my virtue was challenged.

I teetered between these two states for a number of years, unaware of what I was actually doing. I believe this battle is going on inside many people, and I feel the urge to tell you all that it is a sneaky, deceptive trap.

I was discussing this topic with my dear Sister recently; we were deep in the thick of analysing the elements of right and wrong, guilt and innocence, sin and forgiveness, among other things. I was recalling what our Dad had said to me in my early twenties; those words of his which had helped me see the truth about myself.

He helped me identify the lies I had believed all my life. Do these sound familiar to anyone?

*Good intentions are good excuses for undesirable behaviour;  –

Dad showed me that doing the wrong thing for the right reasons is still the wrong thing (doing the right thing for the wrong reasons is just as bad) Focusing on all the good things we do often, (good deeds, favours, gift giving, praying, loving gestures, hard work, fortitude through suffering etc) must make up for our impatience, our self-importance, bad temper, self-indulgence and emotional tantrums. Dad helped me accept that focusing on the good I saw in me distracted me from owning up to my true flaws, while focusing on the bad in others reinforced the belief that I was good and didn’t need to change.

*If we can convince those around us that we are good enough, and convince ourselves that we are good enough, then that must mean God thinks we are good enough too, right?

Dad showed me that God would in fact rather us be low in reputation, humble and even persecuted by man for His names sake. (He can certainly make us thought of highly by others, but only when it means nothing to us anymore.) In my understanding He does not encourage self-importance. Ordinary Man – Extraordinary God!

*We also fall for that age old trick of building our knowledge, and relying on our own understanding of right and wrong, to help us be more on to it.

Dad reminded me of the tree which Eve ate the fruit from, the ‘Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil’. Isn’t that the same thing we are doing in this instance? Trying to know what God knows, rather than simply depending on Him?

If we look closely we can see that all these lies aim to convince us to lift ourselves up, in our own eyes and in the eyes of others, as apposed to lifting up God with honour. If we lift ourselves up, trying to meet God in His righteousness, we only get self-righteousness and we make God smaller in our minds.

Obadiah 1:3 says The pride of our hearts deceives us.”

I was so deceived! I thought I deserved forgiveness for my sins because they weren’t ‘that bad’, and I was making up for it in other ways (Saved by works!), yet I came to see that I could only receive forgiveness when my heart became ashamed and was met with Grace. My repentance came by admitting that my heart is prideful, selfish and conceited. I acknowledged my sinful nature and begged for God to understand that I could now see how wrong I was. I came to see that we are all capable of good deeds and bad, and it struck me that if I still found myself doing things I swore I never would, even though I thought I knew what was right, so others must do also. God allowed me to stumble over my own sin so that I would learn to depend on Him for His strength and His righteousness.

By showing Him my willingness to suffer the pain of being unworthy of forgiveness, I began to earn that very forgiveness.

Let me ask you this….

If someone does wrong by us and comes to us demanding we forgive them because they have a good explanation and because they can list a number of ways we were at fault as well. Don’t we feel that they aren’t truly sorry, and will probably just go ahead and do the same thing again in the future? We would be unwilling to forgive and trust them completely, wouldn’t we?

Yet if someone comes to us admitting how wrong they were, bowing their head in shame and saying they understand if we don’t forgive them, stating that they don’t even deserve forgiveness, they just want us to know how very sorry they are for hurting us. Then wouldn’t we feel more inclined to forgive them and allow them to earn back our trust?

Perhaps we could keep these obvious differences in mind when considering how we approach God when looking to receive forgiveness?

“Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.” (Matthew 6:12)

If someone hurts us or does us wrong and is truly remorseful we need to show forgiveness, because no matter what they have done, we need to remember that it is possible for us to do that very same thing if similar circumstances and weakness occurs in us. By no means am I suggesting we should put ourselves into situations where we allow them to continue to hurt us!  (True change must be evident and trust rebuilt when sharing our vulnerabilities. Another post for another day!) I am suggesting accepting their apology and letting go of the bitterness we feel toward them for their action. If they don’t apologise or acknowledge their faults, then we can assume that they can’t see it or admit it to themselves, just like we couldn’t in our own lack of self-awareness. Even though it is difficult, we can then offer an element of forgiveness and let go of any grudges, because as Jesus said on the cross “Forgive them, for they know not what they do”.

We are able to be forgiven because of God’s mercy and grace, and because of what Jesus did at Calvary. By acknowledging this we make ourselves tiny in our own eyes and God becomes HUGE! As a fellow blogger The Peaceful Wife put it, ‘My picture of God before was so wimpy and small. I had to see He was big and I was tiny’.  So very true, and I like having a BIG GOD!

Here I was trying to prove how good I was, yet as soon as I admitted how truly wrong I was, a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. It invited God into my situation and I found Him keeping me from doing things, one by one, that I had been trying not to for so long on my own. I found that many of the things I thought mattered actually didn’t matter at all, I could be released from self-condemnation because of feeling God’s love, and I came to experience genuine moments of inner peace. I still have to keep my heart guarded to discern the pride which tries to creep back in each day, trying to deceive me into covering my sin. Yet I now find it much easier to see myself clearly, by keeping my heart softened to His voice and truth, and try to confess in the instant of awareness.

When we truly repent and run away from pride, we can rejoice in feeling the freedom it brings. Feeling God’s forgiveness, His help, His love, and finally feeling FREE to be GOOD ENOUGH. AMEN!

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