Abuse

Daring to admit Weakness

Doing well in the middle of tough times does not involve acting strong. Publicly pretending what is not privately true doesn’t impress nor bring glory to God.

In fact the pretense of strength in one suffering is damaging as the person does not get needed support.

Rarely does denying weakness strengthen us.

In crises and pain, God reveals the weaknesses of one’s heart. This revealing is not to embarrass or shame us nor to cause guilt. It’s in these times that an individual has an opportunity to cry out for God’s transforming grace.

To deny weakness is to deny opportunity and fractures relationships because transparency with others is absent. Rather be honest about your weaknesses and find a community of those who will allow this. They therefore can be a part of your healing process.

Overall, weakness does not need to be the enemy but rather the opportunity to discover your new potential .

Darkness, A Temporary Sanctuary

Darkness, being the mind's dark thoughts, is often a sanctuary when life crashes.

It can feel safe and allows us to feel that we have have some control, despite the fact that our life as we knew it, is over.

In darkness our life is a little less shocking while we fight to resurrect what we have lost.

In darkness, we attempt to create a path that will bring us back pre disaster.

This desire, to recreate, can be found in the book of Genesis.

When Adam and Eve sinned, they realized their nakedness while their first thought was to take control by covering their nakedness.

Of great significance in the situation is this. Adam and Eve's action was as shocking as what they failed to do.

Their lives were changed drastically and yet they tried to hide consequences via a leaf covering!  

Eyes open but hearts closed, they tried to manage the disaster.

Often in life we may encounter this type of situation. We build a pleasant and supposedly successful life but in a moment it is stripped away. We either shun God or struggle to believe that He is present in our darkness.

Yet God's light shines in the darkness (John 1:5). it's in this place of darkness, where we let go of what once was, and we discover God's light.

We are loved by God in our mess. He is never shocked by the dark places that we go. He waits for us and does not fear this darkness in which we shelter. His love is ongoing.

 

Anonymous

"Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life." This Scripture, 1 Thessalonians 4:11 caused me to sit back and simply mouth "wow".

In many ways it goes against every thing in which I was raised, both family and church.

After many years of striving and pushing myself, I still find it extremely difficult to sit and read or watch a movie. My mind tells me to keep striving. if I'm not moving I'm not achieving. Crazy, I know!

Don't misunderstand me. To set goals and to encourage our children and ourselves to aim high is good. But while some people achieve huge success and beyond, most of us have to find contentment in a mediocre life.

One of the problems is that we're conditioned in this world to believe that we are only important if we've achieved great success. The growing career, the great looking spouse, the right clothes, appropriate children, the right connections so we can keep climbing the ladder of success. And yet we've got it backwards.

God used a woman named Sarah who was a step from the grave, to birth a child, the first of a great nation.

God chose Moses, a murderer, hiding out in fear for his life, to lead a nation away from slavery.

This Scripture today has helped me to redefine some of my thinking. We strive and strive for greater success to not just find security and contentment but to decrease our feelings of anonymity. 

And yet God chooses the least likely person to win.

There's an important reason for this Scripture to be in the Bible. In our mediocre, and boring lives God IS using us.

All About Ruth

In the book of Ruth, we see two very different types of women. While they plow forward through extraordinary loss, they portray differing strengths.

Many of us, in crisis, tend to isolate. People either are busy, want us to react in a certain way or after a draining day of work, there's simply no more energy or time to give.

Neither of these women though chose isolation,  a dangerous choice when in trouble.

Ruth also clings to her relationship with Naomi as while Naomi admits bitterness, Ruth knows Naomi better. Ruth does not try to correct this woman whom she loves. Ruth only seems to desire to stay close to her.

But there's another interesting aspect to this story.

In crisis, we can cling to possessions. After all, we spend a lifetime trying to acquire these things as they offer some sense of comfort and security.

For myself, when my security was so shaken with loss of marriage and job, I spent hours going over my possessions, to determine what wealth I could secure.

Yet here is Ruth choosing relationship over things. We do not see her concerned with possessions but concerned with losing a treasured relationship.

We see a lady who leaves the comforts of home and ventures forth into a new land with strangers, because she wished to maintain a relationship.

To me this is great faith amidst crisis.

The Problem with Moving On

One of the toughest comments is that of "move on." It's often spoken in a way that means "get over it" or 'forget it"  and the speaker comes across as the champion of conquering all. 

I've heard it preached from the pulpit and I've heard it spoken privately in leadership situations when a member must leave as they've become an embarrassment to a church.

I've nodded my head in agreement and cheered on a speaker when this term has been used but my conscience cringes.

Some times the message has been great as the words are wrapped in love and mercy. But at other moments, I've wondered. "Move on" honestly can be spoken when the deliverer of these words feels inadequate and afraid. Or perhaps some one's dilemma is demanding too much time. Avoidance is the answer, spoken as 'move on."

There are those people who do move on fast but then there are those, the deep thinkers, who analyse and sift through situations at a different pace, determined to examine things, from every angle. And yes this is annoying to many, but we do not all fit one mold.

Spending the time to work through situations does not necessarily mean that one is being a victim.

God is patient and yes, tolerant. He guided the Israelites through a desert for forty years when it should have taken eleven days.

Yes they moved on and wow was it frustratingly slow, but that's the process of God.

Self Protection or Love

Every one of us lives with a level of discomfort.

Others may look really together but even 'the together ones" carry a form of mess within.

Discomfort heightens when we're put on the spot, anger emerges when a spouse displeases us, conversation shifts when a topic surfaces our ignorance and we search for opportunities to enhance our reputations.

We seek places of comfort rather than challenge and as believers we explore ways to improve our spirituality - serving and helping, reading and praying, selling our talents to others to prove our worth.

But still the nagging feeling of discomfort continues. There's more to us than merely loving God and others.

We were not designed to live in this world. Before sin, vulnerability with God and each other was natural. But sin ushered in shame and avoidance and a fear of rejection, even if it meant hurting those that we love. Therefore while we crave closeness, we create distance with others.

To present a front, or self protect may feel safe but it limits the depth of a relationship.

Finding those whom are willing to hear our struggles and anxiety is vital.

Being one whom is willing  to allow another to have issues is vital.

Even more, being one whom can hear but not offer the quick fix is more precious than gold.

 

 

How Do I Fit In?

In the early twentieth century, Abraham Maslow developed a chart that categorized people's needs. His work is worth examination, especially considering family.

We can be part of a great family and yet still feel little value, unknown or insignificant. 

Often we emphasize the needs for food, shelter, safety, education and hobbies. Busily, we reorganize schedules to maintain all of these things. But to finish at this level, denies greater needs and therefore we cruise through life wondering purpose and worth.

Each of us has a huge need to belong and to be valued.

These desires are fulfilled by giving time, listening without preparing for an answer, and providing encouragement.

Practice affection or rather than focusing on being the center of attention, watch for opportunities to include others.

Watch for those things that bring a smile to another's face.

Listen and validate other's thoughts and engage in another's interests. 

Build up those, whether spouse or child, whether an unlovable teenager or an angry spouse. 

To criticize isolates, but encouragement strengthens connection and that sense of belonging.

 

Being Blessed

There is no guaranteed way through which we can receive God's blessings. There are principles that guide us through life but there is no such thing as a cause and effect pattern that will guarantee blessing.

We can work hard at raising great children or building a great marriage. We can work diligently at a business or making lasting friendships. Ultimately though, we do not have that much control over the outcome and may not achieve our desired result.

Christian leaders can work hard and serve God faithfully. Some enjoy God's blessing by building a substantial ministry but others do not.

Some parents parent faithfully and produce fantastic children but other parents whom have been just as faithful, do not.

Ultimately if we live with a cause and effect mindset regarding the blessing of God, life becomes a roller coaster and disappointing.

If children, marriage, business or friendships succeed, we are happy. If one fails, though, we experience contempt not just for self but for others.

If we live with a cause and effect mentality, or as one whom expects blessing for good works, life and God are disappointing. We live, preoccupied with using God as a source of reward, rather than aiming at a relationship with Him.

Beyond the splendor that life has to offer, focusing on the thought that God Himself is the ultimate blessing is fulfilling. He is the constant relationship that lifts us despite trials and loves and accepts us in spite of success or failure.

Anger as a Life Line.

Often we do not know how to handle anger, particularly when it is expressed by another.

We therefore offer solutions that bring no relief to the person. Honestly, we are uncomfortable with the other's rage.

Anger does not have to be logical or valid but tends to surface once a person is feeling  able to survive a crisis. In crisis, one often feels amazed that she survived the loss.

Anger is a necessary stage of healing and as permission is given to express this emotion, one is able to process true hurts.

Anger has no limits. Underneath anger is pain. But anger can be strength and provides temporary structure in loss.

If we ask someone to move past their anger too fast, all we do is alienate them. We fail to recognize their loss and pain.

Anger can be seen as a life line. It is a rope to which one can cling and climb until clarity is again found.

Believe in Me

One of my greatest discoveries recently is understanding that my source of affirmation has shifted.

Our desire to be valued is great and one of the ways in which this is maintained is through affirmation.

Our need for affirmation is greater when we feel that we have failed.

We can though make the mistake of trying to get affirmation from a source that is not appropriate. That source may not have the capacity, the capability, the time or understanding. 

Rather than attempting to repeatedly draw affirmation from that from which there is no result, we should look around and realize that God's provision will come from elsewhere.

New seasons bring new meaning and new people into our lives. We cannot change the season or other people. We should not depend upon our own understanding but know that our troubles are all a part of God's master plan.

Sympathy and Empathy.

Some times these two words are confused in meaning. Yet they are very different.

Empathy strengthens connection but sympathy can move us to disconnection.

Empathy means that we can see the perspective of another person. It recognizes that the other person sees their perspective as truth. An empathetic person doesn't just recognize the emotions of another but acknowledges and feels with them.

Empathy recognizes that someone is in a dark place and does not just tell someone that "life will improve". The empathetic are willing to visit that dark place with the someone.

Empathy assures the someone that they are not alone.

Sympathy, on the other hand, will acknowledge a difficult situation but remains removed from the someone. Sympathy may encourage the some one to reach out but fails to realize their true state.

Sympathy does not connect with one in pain because we do not wish to feel that pain. Rather sympathy minimises the problem, making it less than what it is.

If we examine our conversation, many of us do this a lot. We do not want to become enmeshed in another's pain. 

Empathy is prepared to acknowledge that perhaps we don't have an answer but that we are willing to listen and be a part of this journey.

Connection, a part of empathy aids in healing. Response, which is the prime ingredient of sympathy, does little.

What Do I Need?

In times of want and need we tend to focus on that particular desire. It becomes our primary focus and occupies our thoughts.

For myself, I found myself reestablishing myself as a single woman, selling and moving homes and finding a new career.

Do I leave my home church or stay? Do I move back to Australia or to a location close to my children?

Such concerns are a normal part of life but the stress of these things can find us pushing God to the periphery.

At such times we can neglect to seek God for help and become obsessed with our dilemma.

What do we do?

I believe that we start with repentance. Do what we usually do when we've neglected some one that we love.

After repentance, let the conversation with God flow.

The more we focus on God, the more access to His unfailing love.

His never ending love is empowering and fuels us as does nothing else. 

I Get It

I understand praying prayers that are not answered in the way we wish.

I understand fixing a marriage but I also understand losing a marriage despite all effort.

I understand life when it starts to unravel and when failure is discovered by others.

I understand telling one's children that their parents can't hold it together.

I know the fear of not knowing what's coming, of making wrong decisions and not knowing what to do.

I understand loneliness and the fear of being alone. Lord, will it always be like this?

But I'm seeing that God is a God of new things. I've made new friends. I have a new career and home and both are wonderful.

I've visited places and seen people for which there was no time in the past.

Dare I say, there's some fun in again being single.

God doesn't just create new things but He can make all things new.

In other words, He's not tossing us out and starting anew with someone else.

He looks at us and dreams of whom we are going to be when we get to the other side of our drama and pain.

 

Starting Over

We grow up in church  and the recommendations are to pray, read your Bible, attend regularly, get involved and to share our faith with others.

We usually struggle and feel guilty regarding our lack of competence in at least one of these areas. And therefore think of ourselves as being a little less than others. We carry a sense of failing God too.

But then great catastrophe can strike us such as relationship or financial disaster. In so many ways we no longer measure up to our former image.

And so we have to start again. It's actually a journey of rediscovery regarding one self. Who is God and what does He desire of me. I'm no longer what I was

The result is that God loved me as I was and loves me even now. I don't have to behave or perform in any certain way.

Hardship is a prime opportunity to move beyond immature ideas into greater faith and character. Some disasters, are a catalyst for learning perseverance, steadiness and hope.

Who among us wouldn't prefer an easier life but through hardship we discover the reality of God.

The Calling

I'm not really a fan of this word. It though works for this writing.

God assigns us a life to lead and as much as we'd like it to be a journey of plenty and fairness, this is not always so.

Nevertheless, there is something splendid about embracing our journey and finding new strengths and contentment along the way.

To compare our path to that of another is a useless task and only brings grief.

Each of us must make every effort to accept our own God given calling. This therefore lessens the hurt along the way in difficult circumstances.

Whether experiencing loss in career, relationships, a church home or in sickness, if we search for  that new pearl of wisdom that God is endeavoring to show us, we can accept His journey without losing hope for a better future.

 

Where is Happiness in the Tough Times?

 

I am a melancholy personality. I enjoy the thought of sleeping in or going for a walk with my dogs in the sunshine. I love the thought of curling up by the fire and reading a good book with a lit candle alongside me.

I can be intense as many know. I try to find the reason for the occurrence of things and love having a goal. When life changes drastically, it's difficult to find joy. My sense of justice is upset and emotions rage.

Joy though doesn't have to be put on hold until circumstances change. It can be found in the simplest of things.

It can be having coffee with an understanding friend who doesn't have to deflect the conversation to discuss "the bright side of things." It's taking up an old hobby that was not possible in former times. It's rearranging a room and giving it a fresh look and this does not have to cost money. It's sitting in a coffee shop and while you may be alone, you can be surrounded by the chatter of others. Perhaps joy is watching the sun go down, listening to the wildlife.

Life can be tough and many of us would confess that we are not fans of what we face. We still though need joy.

We need to remember that God is bigger and that life is not just about us.

There is beauty around us at all times and we can be thankful even when things are painful.

 

Am I Now Broken?

There are all types of broken.

We can appear to have it all together but we are still broken.

We may be broken by our own sin.

Perhaps we have been rejected and hurt by another.

It may have been circumstances that broke us or we may be just plain messed up, like every body else.

We all come into the world with the sins of our fathers passed down to us. We are also torn up by original sin.

Thank goodness that we bear the image of God.

As an individual, you may look around and believe that you are the only broken person. This probably means that you are the most authentic.

If another seems unbroken, then they are likely just good at covering up the truth.

Be My Enough

Do we really understand? That Christ is in us?

It can be difficult to grasp that He loves us just as we are.

To see oneself as God does and to lay down what others think of us.

We can allow the voices of others to control our lives and call us to action incessantly.

We can believe against our better judgment that we need to do things and be seen in order to be worthy.

But a person is no less fruitful because his or her life is more hidden.

We do not need to run repeatedly to doing but it's okay to just be.

God's love doesn't increase toward one, based on our calendar or our level of works. We cannot win His affection by being more prominent.

It's okay to be oneself. We are as we are, enough for God. (Psalm 46:10)

Forgiveness: Do I Have To?

 

As we practice the art of forgiveness, it becomes a skill that builds our lives. 

Perhaps one has wronged us and has apologized or perhaps no 'sorry" was offered.

 Perhaps in our estimation, another does not deserve forgiveness. We therefore hang onto our opinion and thoughts of revenge because we think that the offering of forgiveness makes another's wrong okay.

Our action of forgiveness however places healing and judgment into greater and more capable hands. Our retaliation accomplishes nothing to our benefit whereas God's actions are absolute.

To truly carry so much emotional pain and hurt around is exhausting. To continually let it go, though difficult, frees us for betterment.

If we are honest with ourselves, none of us are blameless. We all owe an apology somewhere and to some one at some time.

It's not easy to own our part, but an apology means that we are willing to learn and it frees us in unpredictable ways. It also brings honor to God.

 

Friend, I've Messed Up

 

I'm not the woman that I thought I'd be in my fifties. Nor are my circumstances what I expected.

I'm a bit sadder and angrier than I thought I'd be, but I am more loved than I would have guessed.

While life goes on, change means that some friendships disappear. These relationships were more based on a love of shared career than of friendship. Close friends though do not leave us to wade through this mire alone.

Some friends connect despite distance and busyness and the cost of an international call. 

Some speak words of praise and encouragement knowing that the heart and mind has taken a battering. These words are healing and act as a fuel to try again for another day.

Some dare to hug and touch you, even the opposite sex, knowing the importance of personal touch when one has been deprived.

Some understand that there's a  part of us that cannot yet move forward but there is no criticism or correction. Just acceptance.

In friendship, there's knowledge that one has messed up life but they don't walk away. They see that Jesus is being formed within each of us and that we will make it.