Don’t Forget Five

19 08 2015

For years I’ve been ‘stuck’ in a wound that would not go away. No amount of forgiveness brought the release I sought.

I talked through the situation with Abba – literally hundreds of times; yet could not get free of the matter.

I finally wrote it off as my ‘hard heart’ and lamented my lack of spiritual maturity.

This was a serious problem for me because I kept bumping into the same scenario everywhere I turned. That was painful, yet I see the gentle, patient hand of Father whose desire is for my wholeness.

After more than a decade of wrestling with my inability to forgive, yesterday my counselor and I discussed the issue for the umpteenth time. I’m thankful that God has given her great patience with me as well!

At long last, we found the key that unlocked the shackles of my unforgiveness.

It was a small thing, a simple thing, yet every bit as important as every other step in the process, as I learned yesterday. Perhaps that’s why I needed this lesson.

What did I learn?

I matter!

“C’mon! Get on with it,” you say. “What’s the key?”

I had not forgiven myself.

Seriously? That’s all?

Um, yeah.

A long time ago I was offered a supervisory position. I believed myself unqualified for the job. I didn’t pray about it, just declined the offer.  I would be in charge of many people. If I messed up, it could be costly.

However, I had a friend who demonstrated all the qualities I believed necessary to handle the position well.

Um, didn’t pray about that either.

At the next board meeting, I recommended my ‘qualified’ friend.

They agreed, and he was put into the position.

It didn’t take very long to realize that I’d judged this person by his outward appearance – and hadn’t given a second’s thought to his heart.

Big mistake.

Lurking under the mask was a power-hungry, ambitious fellow who didn’t care if people were hurt by his actions or words.

Sadly, many were hurt. Many found positions elsewhere.

Then I became his target.

Perceived as a threat by my ‘friend’, he went out of his way to undermine and discredit me.

His efforts were quite effective, thus when I went to the assistant HR person to discuss the number of ‘casualties’, I was told, “We know he’s hurting people, but he gets things done. Who could we get to replace him?”

I got the same response from the head HR guy as well.

I became frantic, burdened. These were my friends who were being hurt. The more innocent ones were being led into dubious actions and attitudes.

 

Seated on my counselor’s couch, we hacked at the roots of my unforgiveness – again!

“What is it about this that you can’t let it go?” she asked.

We did a little exploration (again), and began to go through the forgiveness process as noted in my Be Selfish – Forgive.

We went through forgiving the person, asking God to forgive them, to forgive me, then ‘forgave’ God for not doing what I thought He should about the matter (!).

All of a sudden, her eyes lit up.

“Hey! Have you been blaming yourself for the outcome?”

I thought about it a minute, and it became crystal clear.

Here, at last, was the key! 

I continued to hold myself solely responsible for what happened…

…Like I’d handed a loaded machine gun to a four-year-old in a mall, who was now mowing down everyone in sight.

That is not a good feeling.

“Yes I have. I was the one who recommended the guy in the first place.”

The minute I forgave myself, BAM! That choke chain around my neck hit the floor. It was the size one might use to restrain Godzilla!

The release and freedom I felt was instantaneous.

Yes, I recommended the guy for the position, but once he was installed the matter was out of my hands.

From that point on, he was the responsibility of our HR department. They saw what was going on – even acknowledged it, and they chose to do nothing.

The outcome was beyond my control, thus not my guilt to bear.

God longs for our wholeness. Jesus stated this when He introduced His ministry in Luke 4:18-19:

“The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.

He was content to revisit this issue with me until I finally realized that the one I needed to forgive was me!

You see, I matter to Him. What I think and believe about myself, yeah, that also matters.

Guess what? You matter to Him as well!

Forgive as you have been forgiven…

…and don’t forget Five!





Dirt Said What??

7 08 2015

On the table before me are several piles of dirt.

This first one represents my mom, this one is my dad. Here’s my brother. For the sake of space and time, this heap represents extended family; this one religious leaders; and this one people whom I hold in high regard. Let’s not forget Hubby!

Oh, and this one is me!

They all have one thing in common:

Each pile consists of dirt.

This is not far from the truth. Psalm 103:14 states “For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.”

Hmm. Do we?

How often do we allow the other handfuls of dirt to label us, to evaluate us, and determine our worth? Sure, they may have judgments about us, but shall we give them power to define us?

God fashioned each one of us, knit us together in our mothers’ wombs, and has plans for us that are for shalom (welfare, peace), and not evil.

The other little piles of dust did not create us; therefore, do not have the power to define us…unless we choose to accept their evaluations over what God says is true about us.

We must begin to pay attention to their assessments of us – take them captive. “Oh look, dirt wants to label me. Too bad. That’s not what my Father says about me.” Then replace the lie with truth: “He calls me His beloved.”

Here are things He says about you:

You are His blood-bought child.

You have been chosen,

accepted,

adopted,

redeemed,

justified,

sanctified,

and glorified.

Right now you are seated in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus,

and have been sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.

Wow!

A pile of dust – no matter if it is common dirt, gold, or even diamond dust – does not belong on the throne of our heart.

When we accept another person’s opinion over that which God says about us, we’ve make them our god. Eew!

Enough of this nonsense.

I don’t care what dirt says.

God created me,

Only He can define me.

Dear Father,

It is with tongue in cheek that I say this article gives a new meaning to the phrase, ‘as dumb as dirt.’ When someone is spouting off at me, giving their opinion, pronouncing judgment, or their assessment of me, please let me see them as just another pile of dirt…no better and no worse than I. Help me remember what You say about me, and that only Your evaluation truly matters. Don’t let me be ‘dumb as dirt’ in this matter ever again!

Thanks for demonstrating Your love for us by patiently teaching us – in as many ways as it takes – that we are Your beloved creation. Help us get this!

In Jesus’ name,

Amen. ❤

*****

Don’t miss the articles on Vows and on Agreements. These are usually made as a result of something ‘dirt’ said or did!





Agreements: Vow’s Ugly Twin

6 08 2015

An ‘agreement’ is a faith statement. It is faith in the wrong thing…in a lie, not the truth. I confess with my mouth what I believe in my heart. It is the ugly twin of Vows, for the two are commonly found together

Here are some of the agreements we make:

“I’m stupid.”
“I’m an idiot.”
“I’m fat.”
“I’m ugly.”
“I’m accident prone.”
“I’m so co-dependent.”
“I’m unlovable.”

On and on it goes.

These statements don’t originate with us. They aren’t even true, yet we often agree with them as indisputable facts.

Why on earth would we do such a thing? And, where did these ‘truths’ come from?

Sadly, they often begin with our parents. In a moment of anger they may say something like, “Come here, you little idiot. I’m gonna give you what for.”

I could give examples ad nauseum, but I’ll spare you.

Other agreements are made in the aftermath of a painful situation (not unlike vows).

In the fifth grade, I was yanked from a school I loved when we moved to another town. During my final week in that class, the teacher introduced us to the music of Simon and Garfunkel. Their song, “I Am a Rock,” became my life song. It met the needs of my breaking heart.

Well, let’s look at the lyrics:

A winter’s day
In a deep and dark December
(for me it was October)
I am alone
Gazing from my window
To the streets below
On a freshly fallen, silent shroud of snow
I am a rock
I am an island

I’ve built walls
A fortress, steep and mighty
That none may penetrate
I have no need of friendship
Friendship causes pain.
It’s laughter and it’s loving I disdain.

(Have no friends. Check)
I am a rock
I am an island

Don’t talk of love
Well, I’ve heard the words before
It’s sleeping in my memory
And I won’t disturb the slumber
Of feelings that have died
If I never loved, I never would have cried

(Don’t love, or let people love me. I will get hurt again. Check)
I am a rock
I am an island

I have my books
And my poetry to protect me
I am shielded in my armor
Hiding in my room
Safe within my womb
I touch no one and no one touches me

(Isolate. Read, protect myself with {music for me} Check)
I am a rock
I am an island

And a rock feels no pain
And an island never cries

(I’m sick of being hurt. Sign me up.)
© 1965 Words and Music by Paul Simon

At ten years of age, I decided that all people did was hurt me. I didn’t need people. I didn’t need love, and I didn’t ever want to cry again. Whenever something painful happened, I would withdraw to the safety of my ‘womb’ and shut everyone out.

I still had five moves after this most-hated one to survive during childhood. It was much easier with the ‘armor’ of this song as my shield. I no longer sought to make friends at the new locations. Eventually, I no longer felt lonely.

By the time I was in high school, I knew neither how to make nor keep friends. By then, everyone had their own ‘set’ anyway, so it didn’t matter. I buried myself in books, crafts and especially in making music. I preferred to be alone.

At the same time, I had a huge hole in my heart that my father should have filled. Well, father gave that job to another man. My step-dad filled it all right – with many more statements like those at the beginning of this article. Because he was an adult, and supposedly loved me, I believed him.

Why would he lie to a child?

One by one, I came into agreement with his assessment of me as a human. Some of them I accepted with bowed head, others I determined to overcome (by making a vow).

He loved to call me ‘stupid’ – or ‘Stu’ for short. I vowed to become smart, and used my isolation to learn all I could about many things. I learned about things I cared about, and things I didn’t, just so he couldn’t call me stupid anymore. That didn’t work, by the way.

Do you know what endoplasmic reticulum is? (Do you even care? 😉 )

After I got out from under his tyranny, I took over where he left off and agreed with whatever label came to mind.

I ask again, why would a person do such a thing? As a (wo)man thinks in (her) heart, so is she. My words became a self-fulfilled prophecy.

These agreements stayed with me for 35 years. I was 45, without a friend in the world, in a loveless marriage, and unable to connect with others. That’s a pitiful state in which to find oneself. My mom died that year. A year and a half later, I parted ways with my step-dad, and healing began.

It’s time we began to take these thoughts captive. Let’s hold them up to the truth of who God says we are, and quit agreeing with those who would steal, kill, and destroy us through their words.

God is not honored when we accept these lies about His workmanship as truth.

Do we even stop to ask, “IS THIS TRUE??”

I’ve quit agreeing with others’ opinions about me. I’ve had enough. There is only One who knows me, and He calls me “Beloved” and “Delightful.” He calls me His own, and “Chosen.” Since He knows me better than anyone else…including me…I’m going to agree with Him.

*****

Tune in to the next post to learn why I am no longer willing to accept another human’s assessment of me…and why you shouldn’t either:

Dirt Said What?





But Now I See

10 06 2015

(This is a continuation of yesterday’s post, Born Blind).

We already looked at the story, so let’s see what we can glean from it.

Standing before the Pharisees stood a man who was once one way (blind, in this case), but had an obvious change (could now see).

Because the healing did not take place inside their ‘box’ of who may heal, when they may heal, how they may heal, and whom is ‘worthy’ to be healed, they refused to see Jesus in action and glorify God.

Instead, they wanted the man to admit that he had been healed by a demoniac…and give glory to God.

Does that even make sense?

It’s a good thing that only took place in Jesus’ day – not now.

And I would never be so foolish as to attribute God’s work to Satan…right??

Right?

When my back was healed at the age of 19, it was through a member of a church we’d been taught was ‘suspect.’ Demonization was supposedly rampant there.

What was I to think about that?

I flip-flopped between glorifying God for healing me – and repenting for attending ‘their’ Bible study for many years; a couple of decades, in fact.

(Oh, and there was a second time I was healed through the prayer of pastors from this same church. See Freakin’ Miracles. Do you suppose God was trying to teach me something??)

Even today, animosity toward this particular congregation is intense. “Demons are at work there,” I often hear.

~ Like demons steer clear of every other church in town – and only ‘attend’ that church!

It occurs to me that demons are more evident there…

…because Jesus is there.

Didn’t demons manifest whenever Jesus arrived on the scene?? (What have we to do with You, Jesus, You Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time? Matthew 8:29). They didn’t come with Him. They couldn’t remain hidden because He was there!

{This is a new thought for me, by the way. Yes, I still struggle to ‘see’.}

Miracles happen there.

All the time.

We Pharisees stand back and demand proof: reports that certify what was true about the person (i.e. blind), and what is now true (20/20 vision).

I say ‘we Pharisees,’ for I have been guilty of this myself. I want proof of the healing from a ‘reliable’ source, for I cannot ‘see’ it myself!

After all, what ‘proof’ is there in a life that has been transformed? Doesn’t that evidence seem a bit flimsy? 😉

I gather my robes tighter to my body, lest I be ‘tainted’ with their delusion

…and actually see Jesus at work before my very eyes.

This is a strong indictment, Lord. One I needed to hear. Thank You for revelation – which changes my identity (from Pharisee to one-who-sees), and not just information – which changes a few thoughts in my head.

Whoa – that last paragraph was very helpful. I’ve pulled back from Bible study out of fear that I was merely adding to my ‘database of knowledge’ so I could more accurately decide for myself what is good and what is evil.

Now, who would want me to believe that lie? 🙂

I see that very often through study I receive revelation that alters my identity in, and what I believe about, Christ, bringing me into greater alignment with Him.

Very cool.

Thanks, Abba!





Behold, She Stinketh!

8 06 2015

Whose ‘skin’ fit best? A good question – one I had not considered before, really.

When reading Scripture, I search for Jesus in the stories – especially the Old Testament. I’ve learned much about Him using this method.

On this day, however, two separate people made the same suggestion:

Find yourself in the story to see what the Lord desires to show you.

The posts I wrote concerning Lazarus came to mind. Which one was me? Easy: Lazarus!

I still recall the day I met Jesus for the first time. The Sunday school teachers told us about Him and His great love for us. He captured my heart that day, and I welcomed Him as Lord and lover of my soul.

We became fast friends and I could ‘listen’ to Him talk for hours (through His Word, through pastors and teachers).

Then came the day when I was desperately ‘ill.’ Others went to bid Him come and heal me.

Imagine my hurt and confusion when He tarried, and seemingly allowed me to slip from life.

Dead.

Cold.

Isolated.

Surrounded by darkness.

So bound that I could scarcely move.

I thought He loved me. How could He treat me this way?

Just when all hope was gone, a light broke into my tomb, and I heard Him call my name.

Despite the tight cocoon-like wrapper, I managed to get to my feet. Shuffling along, I made my way back to the light of day.

Every movement brought a fresh whiff of the stench of death.

Then I heard Jesus command that my bonds be loosed by the onlookers.

Some looked on in horror. Others covered their noses and drew back, repulsed by the sight and putrid odor.

Thankfully, some braved the mess and began to set me free. Even some of these were overcome and also pulled away.

Bit by bit the grave clothes were removed.

Suddenly, it occurred to me that beneath the wrappings I was naked!

What to do?

At first I clung to those disgusting rags. I didn’t want to be exposed.

Awkward!

Embarrassment and humiliation became additional shrouds to be peeled away. I didn’t want anyone to see me in this state.

I had a choice to make: maintain my dignity and remain in bondage – or submit to being stripped bare in humility.

Finally the stench became so nauseous that I could no longer endure it. I surrendered to the gentle hands as they removed layer after layer from my heart.

Still in a weakened condition, others had to bathe me. At last I was dressed in fresh, clean clothes.

We marveled at the miracle of which we’d been a part.

‘Happily ever after’ loomed large on the horizon.

Instead, I found myself a target! I was hunted like a fugitive by Jesus’ enemies from that time on.

That’s a loose paraphrase of Lazarus’ story, laid over my own.

I found myself overtaken by ‘disease’ through no fault of my own.

As a teen, I began to ask Jesus to come heal me. He said He loved me, so a prompt response seemed like a no-brainer.

Instead, He took His time…so much that I was inwardly dead when He arrived.

Hopelessness, despair, unbelief that He could do anything at this point – these were the emotions I felt.

Abandoned.

Forsaken.

Forgotten.

These are the lies I believed.

Nevertheless, He called me from death to life and asked for volunteers to do the unpleasant work of releasing me from my putrid ‘grave clothes.’

Some didn’t know how – and shrank back.

For others, the mess was overwhelming. Offended by the stench, these also slipped away.

Some even tried to shove me back into the ‘tomb!’

A few brave, compassionate souls, though, came forward one by one and began to gently peel away my bonds. This took many years of counseling and prayer. To these women I will be forever grateful.

These sweet ladies not only removed the mess, but lovingly bathed and dressed me.

What amazes me most is that, instead of being seen as a living example of Jesus’ ability to bring life from death, the ‘religious’ folks did their best to ‘kill’ me. They would have liked nothing better than to see me bound up once again, and removed from sight. Sadly, some of these I once called ‘friend.’

Go figure!

************

That was an entry from my journal last October. It’s been a smelly, messy ordeal that took more than a year this time. I’m in the ‘being bathed’ phase at long last, and am not as stinky. God is good!

Jesus came to give us life to the full. He stated His intentions in Luke 4:18-19:

The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to
the poor;
He has sent Me
to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to
the blind,
To
set at liberty those who are oppressed;

To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.”

He heals our wounds by revisiting memories with us. He gives us a new identity. He gives insight and revelation – a fresh perspective on old thoughts, and delivers us from the hands of the evil one. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that Jesus doesn’t heal in this way. I am walking, living, breathing proof that He does!

Salvation is so much more than a future home in heaven. It is eternal life, beginning now!

I wonder, which Bible stories most resonate with you?