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!

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19/09/2012

Strength Behind Raising Children

Posted in Encouragement, Family, General tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 6:28 am by The Water Bearer

Daughter 8yrs – “Mum, can I have a chocolate milk?”

Me – “Nope”

Silent pause…

Daughter – “Mum can I please have a chocolate milk, please?”

Me- “Well that was a much better way to ask for something, but I’m sticking to my first answer.”

Daughter – “I’m sorry I didn’t use my manners the first time Mummy, but could I please have a chocolate milk because I didn’t get one at Nana’s this morning, she was out of Milo”

Me – “That’s a shame, but the answer is still no. Enough now!”

Daughter – “I promise I will eat all my dinner.”

Me – “Yes you will eat all your dinner because you won’t be filling up on chocolate milk half an hour before I start cooking it. Have a drink of water if your thirsty, and stop expecting me to give you my reason, I have said no, and no means no!”  …. (Oh Lord, I’m throwing in overused cliche’s again)

Daughter – “Oh but that’s ages away”

Me – “There are children who have to wait for days to have a good meal, you will be fine. Enough now, I am loosing my patience with you!”

Daughter – “Sorry Mum, what’s for dinner?”

Me – “Food, aren’t you lucky?”

Daughter – “But what food?!”

Me – “Why?”

Daughter – “Because, I just want to know. ”

Me – “Well I am still deciding”

Silent pause….

Daughter – “I could have a chocolate milk and that would give you more time to decide.”

Ah, kids are so persistent!

One thing I realised early on about being a Mum, was that if I wanted my children to know who is in control between them and me, it all boiled down to tenacity. Who could hold their ground the longest and not cave in to the other. Many oarents understand that a few swift acts of discipline early on is vital, yet there is some treacherous ground to cross between the initial decision, and the success of it being the final outcome. Will we loose control? Will we get angry? Even yell? Will we reach the point of no return, hollering negative diatribes as we drag them off to bed slamming the door in defeat, accepting that the fight was too hard? Convincing ourselves that our excuses are valid?

Early on in my stint of motherhood I wilted in strength more than I succeeded, I regularly battled against a willful child who dragged out eating dinner every night. There were countless harrowing occasions when she would fiddle in her chair as one pea at a time made the slow journey on her fork to her mouth. Often I resorted to pining her on my knee and shoveling the food down in record time so I could put her to bed at a reasonable hour, or attempting the common negotiations of “Just two more mouthfuls”. Then there were the times when I caved in, got angry and sent her to bed, realising I had not won that round.

The hardest days were when minutes felt like eons, traffic chaos causes involuntary bouts of turrets, the work day spent feeling as useless as high heels on running shoes. On days like this, I had little ability to navigate the kitchen, using vacant focus to try and recall how you turn the green stuff in the bottom of the fridge into something edible. Lets just say I was rarely likely to prepare a masterpiece for dinner. I often felt extreme guilt for giving my child less than my best, forcing her to swallow something less than I expected to be able to give. I let that guilt undermine me, feeling like a better mother for avoiding her tears on top of everything else.

I feel it is safe to say that, even if we understand what the job requires, without God’s strength to perform it, it is simply impossible.

Most of us have a fair idea of right and wrong, and we recognise that it is our role to lovingly help our children understand this. Yet we can become our own worst enemy when we use our weakness as reasons to let them move our boundary lines. Of course we all have our toughest days, when life hits hard with genuine trauma, and those are the times when, if we have faith, we lean on God to help us merely get through the day. However the day-to-day struggles are where our children gain their understanding of who is in charge. If we give in and allow them to have their way, we are not being the nice, considerate parents we think we are, we are relying on our own strength to stand our ground, and end up falling in a heap under the pressure. We are showing our children that the line to break us exists if they push hard and long enough.

Challenging behaviour is common on any given day, children have a built in instinct for testing the strength of the boundaries we have set. Of course children always have much more energy than us, they haven’t wasted it on late nights and unavoidable errands. The responsibilities of daily life and tripping over red tape hasn’t worn them as thin as spilled milk. Their supply of patience hasn’t been given away like pamphlets at an election booth.

Instead they are inspired by tales of fighting against resistance, maneuvering through meteors and the onslaught of intergalactic enemy ships. Soaking up heroes emerging from kindergarten to stand up to the school bully, and the beautiful maiden who was brave enough to take on the evil oppressive guardian figure. Often the parents in these stories are portrayed as ill-informed about the crucial nature of the heroes quest, they aren’t portrayed as allies but rather another obstacle to be dodged and overcome.

The battle ground is set, the will of inner angels and enemies are empowered and ready to go head to head each time a testing situation arises. Who will come out on top? Will you? Will I?

I find it unacceptable to allow our children to become confused about who is in authority, I am accountable to God and they are accountable to me. Yet I can not simply rely on my own strength and tenacity to stand against defiant behaviour, or I simply fail too many times. Many of us seem to block out the ‘condemning’ voice of reason and lean heavily on excuses, because the right way is usually the hardest way. I give all credit to God for the times I have kept to my word and prevented my children overturning my decisions.

We have to remember to depend on His strength behind us, to pray for His wisdom when making decisions, when deciding appropriate consequences for unacceptable behaviour, and ask for His love to shine through us and out onto our children.

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.

02/06/2012

The Battle Continues!**

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

There are times when the circumstances of life get heavy for me and the depression I have fought with rises back up against me. I recognise that my mood is contagious, if I am happy and full of joy so is the rest of my family, and if I am irritable and low it seeps through causing a bad mood to set into the whole house. While I am mostly known to be a person of positive and high spirits, I have a hard time being that way all the time, especially behind closed doors. I feel the pressure of that weight on me and sometimes it breaks me.

I want so much to help others find the methods that helped me through the darkest times of my life. But I still have so much to learn, how can I begin to teach others? I guess once again my disorder is causing me to doubt my calling, and it is pretty much impossible to publish a blog when I am filled with doubt.

I can see so clearly ways to help future generations live a life of faith and learn to let God have His way with our lives. To bring the abundance of peace, joy and love that I see when I have visions of the future, where God is once again given ultimate authority over this place.

I see it, I believe it, but I still struggle every day to live this life as that premium version of myself!

I believe my children deserve a Mum who doesn’t drag down the mood of the house with the heaviness of depression and the instability of anxiety, yet I have to submit to the fact that God knows why He chose me for the job.

My inner enemy is always trying to convince me that my girls deserve a better mother than me. I get so disheartened when I allow the negative poison inside me to overflow out onto them. I know what damage it can do and I want more than anything to protect them from it.

I have had a rough couple of weeks, with health issues and extra emotional pressure. When I get like this I remember all too well how deep I sank into depression the first time I felt this useless. My accident left me damaged and a shell of my former self. I was unable to find any joy or peace, except in my faith. But Faith isn’t as easy to share as you may think. Faith can hold you tight by the ankle as life drags you out over a cliff, on the outside I may look like I am faithless, panicking and freaking out as I stare down into the abyss beneath me. But I manage to stay there until I am once again placed on solid ground, over and over this happens and I guess I must find comfort in knowing that I haven’t been dropped to meet my doom. My faith has held me tight, no matter how far from calm I am.

I hit my lowest point a number of years ago, in my darkest moment I believed that they would actually be better off without me. As I stared at a handful of pills, and kept half an eye on a bottle of vodka, I thought to myself ‘It’s that easy’. I cried out to God to help me! Praise God I snapped out of it! I had to accept that my illness was clouding my clarity of thought. I had to put myself in my girl’s shoes and I realised that they would not understand that I was doing this for them. All they would know was that I left them, and the thought of leaving them alone to struggle through this life without me was even scarier than the damage I thought I was already causing them.

I thank God that He gave me the help to escape the trap my mind was setting for me. I swore that day that I was going to keep on my godly armour, to surround myself with an army of angels and prevent those thoughts creeping back in.

My faith pulled me back over the edge of that cliff and put me back on solid ground, but I had to work hard, I had to keep my eyes on God, and make sure I was honest in my therapy sessions. I kept myself surrounded with people who supported me and had to distance myself from those who may not have realised it but were dragging me down.

During my recent heaviness I shared some of my thoughts with my very faithful, eldest daughter, she said many wise words but mostly she wanted me to see myself through her eyes, that she saw me as a strong, loving and faithful Mum. She also reminded me of the weight of sin Jesus carried, how heavy it was for Him. How He pleaded with God in the Garden of Gethsemane to find another way to save people, to avoid His suffering. Yet He still walked in faith and finished His horrendous job.

So, if God wants me to write, then I am going to keep trying until I finish the job! I will give Him the glory of being my strength when I am weakest.

I may not always be the best version of myself on the outside, but I find comfort in knowing that God knows what is in my heart, He has given me self-awareness and a way to be able to share that awareness with others. I pray for us all that we hold onto our faith even as we stare into the abyss below, knowing that He has got us! For us to grow together through the internal war which the inner enemy is using to try to destroy us, and to find Godly weapons to make us VICTORIOUS!

In the mighty name of your son I pray… AMEN! AMEN! AMEN!

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