When My Body Said, “Enough!”

12 08 2015

Stuffing emotions is how I’ve coped with life. As a child, any emotion that was a little too happy or too sad was cause for a reprimand:

“Sit down and act your age. Settle down.”

Or

“Stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about.”

Sanguine by nature, I learned to behave like a Melancholy. In fact, I picked up many of the characteristics of that personality type: organized, analytical, studious, and focused.

I also suffered from severe Eczema, hives, bronchitis, and wet the bed well into my teens (TMI, I know).

It wasn’t until I was in my 20s that this ‘crazy fun’ personality made her appearance. I would get happy and act all crazy…then wonder if I was crazy, then stuff that nutso back in the box.

In 1980, I heard Florence Littauer speak on the four personality types. In a matter of a couple of hours, I saw what was going on and began to operate as the personality God gave me:

“Do it my way and we’ll have fun!” I love it!!

While I was set free to be me, I continued to stuff negative emotions. Expressing those had never gone very well, and this didn’t improve once I became an adult.

After several years of emotional healing, the skin ailments and bronchitis disappeared. I’ve been very healthy – without so much as the yearly bouts of flu and colds.

Until last year, that is.

It was like my body said, “That’s it! There isn’t room in here for one more thing.”

I began to have physical ailments, sometimes separately, at other times, several at once: migraines, joint pain, kidney stones, and gall stones.

One by one, though, as I addressed old wounds with my counselor, these began to go away.

It became apparent that certain types of stressors affected certain organs in my body. This is what I learned about the above maladies:

Migraines: Lies I believed about God, myself, and others.
Joint pain: Unforgiveness
Kidney stones: Rejection
Gallstones: Fear

As we worked through the lies I believed, I would get a raging migraine. By the time we’d worked through the current one, it would disappear.

These have become a warning sign for me that the enemy is attempting to sell me a lie. As soon as my head starts hurting, I consider what I’ve been thinking about. Every time, this has been the case for me.

In the spring of 2013, my entire bone structure came loose. When I moved around, my back sounded like a zipper. The rest of my joints continually popped as I walked around or used my limbs. It was a creepy feeling.

After nine months of forgiving people who hurt me, my skeleton is back to normal. I am so thankful for that! There were times when I thought a hip would dislocate just by moving it out of line with my body. That was scary.

Major emotional upsets that involved rejection resulted every time in a urinary tract disorder of one sort or another. The severity determined whether it would be stones or an infection of the kidneys or bladder.

No fooling. Absolutely every time, within 24 hours of the rejection this was the case.

And gallstones? I now understand that ‘blinding pain’ isn’t just a cute little phrase. Pain can be so intense that everything before your eyes goes completely black.

(Yes, I could go have my guts yanked out, but I like my guts and God wouldn’t have given them to me if they were unnecessary!)

It took a while to figure out what was causing stones, but after a few months it became apparent. Fear had to go.

Whenever a situation arose where I should have spoken up, but chose to be a coward – bam! Gallbladder attack. As soon as I addressed the situation, I would pass a stone (or several) and all would be well…

…until the next time.

This is the year I am learning to stand up for myself. Fear has no place in my life. My gallbladder says so.

I’ve learned that my body is the dashboard of my heart. When I deal with my heart…dis-ease goes away.

No, I am not prepared to claim this for everyone. Each of us is unique, the choices of medical care and medications between us and the Lord.

However, my body has been the way the Lord got my attention so He could heal my heart. Maybe this will help someone else, too. I’ve read reports from many medical professionals which state that up to 85% of all illness is due to emotions. I may not be that far off. It’s proven to be the case in my own life.

For me, this is the year of no more stuffing.

My body said, “Enough!”





The Real Me

23 07 2014

One of the fellows from our home group prayed an excellent prayer this week:

I want it to be the real me talking to the real You, Lord.

It’s easy to be deceived about ourselves and what is going on in our hearts.

Further, we’re quick to believe the worst about God, without ever questioning whether what we believe is true.

Combine the two, and we have a life that is based on lies.

No wonder we build walls between God and us.

The “god” whom we serve is largely one that we’ve pieced together through the filter of our lives: personified by our father-figures (which can include spiritual leaders, teachers, and other authority figures), and what we’ve deduced from both pleasant and painful experiences.

Without a relationship with Him, and a working knowledge of the Bible, these things can leave us with a skewed understanding of the character and nature of God.

From this vantage point, the words of James 1 ring hollow:

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights – Who doesn’t have a dark side. (paraphrase mine)

Really? Then why? Why don’t You fix this mess. Why have You allowed it to go on for so long? Why do You insist that I continue on this path?

This brings about what Henry Blackaby referred to as a “crisis of faith.”

Will I leave the Lord? Will I stay?

(You, of course, realize that God is being blamed for everything. That lets me off the hook. I bear responsibility for neither the problems, nor their solutions.)

One major area for which I am responsible is this:

Speak the truth in love.

When fear dominates a life, this command sounds like “jump to the moon and back.”

The first time we do, though, and we don’t die it feels like we just walked on water!

The Lord is using current issues to reveal more of the lies I’ve believed about Him. He is exposing areas where I absolutely do not trust Him…sad, but true.

I have tons of faith in His ability to make “crooked places straight and rough places smooth” for others; for me? Not so much.

It’s time for this ‘adopted’ child to learn something new about my Father. He is unlike my earthly father-types. Altogether different.

He can always be trusted.

I love His patience as He walks me through my unbelief, strewing my path with evidence of His great love for me, and of His good heart.

I know I shall come forth refined a bit more, able to reflect His light to the world a bit better.

Until that time, I add a hearty “AMEN!” to my friend’s prayer:

I want it to be the real me talking to the real You.

*****

Hey, if you struggle with unbelief as I do, check out the song in “Music for Your Soul” (see the menu at the top of the page). The song is entitled, “Help My Unbelief.” 🙂





Whimsy – Living Life Out Loud

18 07 2014

There’s nothing like having small children around to stir our hearts to lightness and laughter. We have the privilege of enjoying three of our grandchildren up close, for they and their parents are staying with us for a while.

It’s fun to watch them play, imagination turning the living room into a jungle or corral or restaurant. They are un-selfconscious in their play, free to just ‘be.’ I envy them.

A couple of weeks ago, one of our pastors recommended a book by Bob Goff: Love Does. It’s a fantastic book by an adult who is enthralled with whimsy – it sounds like fun, may look a little silly, be risky…let’s go for it! You’ve GOT to read this book!

At the same time, I heard that Donald Miller has a new book out as well. I didn’t know what the title was, or what it was about, but love to read his rambling style, and how he challenges what I believe.

It was his book, Searching for God Knows What that helped me get over people pleasing. Once I realized that real life in Christ does not involve “Values Clarification” (who is worthy to be saved in a calamity in order to help build a new world), I was liberated from the need to compare myself to others and work out (in my mind) why I deserved a seat in the lifeboat and they didn’t.

After all, the ground at the foot of the cross is level – and there is room for all.

Donald Miller’s new book is A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, and its subtitle is “How I Learned to Live a Better Story.”

Here’s Don’s brief description of his book:

The two books, read at the same time, complement one another.

It turns out the two are friends. Each has a short section in their book which mentions the other author!

What are the chances I’d get them both to read at the same time?

The two of them challenge me to live a life that includes whimsy – is more spontaneous, and lived out loud. Life is meant to be an adventure, to include risk, and to be FUN!

Yes, there are times when the going gets tough, when all seems dark around us, and nothing makes sense. I want to sandwich those times like a thin piece of salami between two thick slices of the Bread of Life – abundant, enjoyable, whimsical life with Jesus.

Crammed between the two I want all the condiments that make a sandwich a masterpiece – lettuce, onions, pickles, mushrooms, olives, bell pepper, and eggplant, or (fill in the blank), slathered with the oil of the Spirit, Light mayo, mustard seeds of faith, and sprinkled with the salt of the earth.

Now that’s a sandwich that will invite others to dine with us, don’t you think?

I went in search of a photo of Bob’s book, and found this YouTube video instead:

Both books are about living a good story…one that is worth being ‘read’ by others.

There are two quotes from Donald’s book that stuck with me:

“The basic structure of a good story has a character who wants something and overcomes conflict to get it.”

(In other words, a good story is not lived on Easy Street) – and –

“Great stories go to those who don’t give in to fear.”

(There’s an element of risk!)

When I think of the opportunities that I missed because I wanted to be “proper,” “do things right,” and “act my age” (who came up with that dumb idea, anyway?), it saddens me. I’ve been mostly sedate, glum, and safe.

And boring.

The few times I’ve stepped outside of my comfort zone and done something childlike and free, people have been drawn to me.

For instance, there was the day I was on the beach and decided to sing to the Lord the new songs He’s given me. Two women kept moving closer and closer (Really, ladies? This beach has plenty of room for all of us!). One of the women was drawn by the music, said she heard the Lord in them.

I handed her an unusual barnacle I’d just picked up. She accepted it with trembling hands, then told me how her brother drowned nearby earlier that year, and the gift I’d given was the Lord’s message to her that all was well. Her brother was safely Home.

Only because I decided to do something silly and sing with abandon like a child.

She would not have been drawn to me had I merely been collecting shells…

I want more moments like that! 

I’m betting that Jesus was like this – a fun, whimsical person to hang out with. One who was unpredictable – spitting in people’s eyes to give them sight, delivering the oppressed (read Mark – this is in nearly every chapter), walking on water (who even thinks to try something like that?), and making lame people walk.

There had to be something vibrant and exciting about Him…even when He was merely passing by.

No one walks away from their steady job to follow a drudge.

Hmm. There’s no crowd behind me.

How about you?

Every one of us was created to be unique, not a carbon copy of someone else. To the extent that we are striving to be like someone else, we are short-circuiting the freedom Jesus died to give. Our gifts, and natural talents and abilities – even our very character – are going unused.

The world needs someone exactly like you, exactly like me, or we would not be here. How different this world would be if we loved better, laughed more, took risks, and weren’t afraid of making fools of ourselves.

Maybe, just maybe, we would discover that abundant life Jesus promised. 😉

It’s time to set aside the lie that we must “act our age” – live with the heart of a child once again (which is not to say be childISH – yuck!). 

People will be drawn to us, to discover what makes us different when we learn to embrace whimsy…

…and live life out loud.

PS I went back to YouTube to check out some of Donald Miller’s videos. If today’s topic stirs something up in you, check out this video filmed at The Gathering, Lipscomb U. He gives some wonderful insight into how to live a better story. (22 minutes long.)





“In Danger” Species

8 02 2014

If there’s one thing I’ve come to realize about Americans, it is this

In God we do NOT trust!

Look around if you think I’m wrong.

Our cars have airbags and seat belts, we won’t get on a bike without a helmet, knee pads are a must for skating/skateboarding, there are handrails and guardrails everywhere.

We have burglar alarms, gated communities, metal detectors in our schools, and believe the world would be a better place if all the law-abiding citizens turned in their firearms (so only the bad guys would have them).

We avoid danger at all cost – and are insured up to our eyeballs to protect us from financial ruin should something ‘bad’ happen.

Look at the number of companies who exist simply because they’ve incited fear in us. Without their coverage, we feel naked and exposed.

We’ve become addicted to safety. No, let me go one step further and say that safety has become our idol.

Have you traveled by plane lately? What a pain in the neck. I used to travel for work, and I’m thankful that I’m not employed with them anymore because the hoops that one has to jump through to get on board are insane.

I actually had a guard pull a gun on me when I left the boarding area at the airport, walked half-way through the exit area, and then turned around to go get my boarding pass from my husband (which I forgot he was holding for me). Seriously?

We’ve passed countless laws to ensure our safety. How’s that working for us?

Sadly, followers of Jesus are often no different from the rest of the world.

One statement I’ve heard from many preachers is this: “The safest place to be is in the center of God’s will.”

We treat God like some supernatural seat belt that’s supposed to keep us from injury –

– and then get angry with Him when He doesn’t ‘work’ right!

Have you read Hebrews 11 lately? You know, the “Hall of Faith.”

I like the part that reads, “who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weaknesses were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight, women received back their dead by resurrection…”

Umm hmm…sign me up!

But wait, there’s more:

“Others were tortured, not accepting their release, in order that they might obtain a better resurrection; and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned; they were sawn in two; they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins , in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill treated…wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.”

Either these folks slipped under God’s radar and He goofed up… or we have gotten off track somewhere along the way.

I don’t think the issue lies with God!

The apostle Paul understood this best, I think. Here’s his resume:

“In everything commending ourselves as servants of God, in much endurance, in afflictions, in hardships, in distresses, in beatings, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in hunger…”

or this one:

“I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness,dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren, I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. (2 Corinthians 11:26-27)

Paul was one ‘In Danger-ed’ man!

Could it be that we find Christianity boring because we’re playing it safe?

Yeah, the ride could get bumpy, it might get a little sketchy here and there, but we would feel alive!

It is my desire to slide into home plate, worn out, used up and yelling “Woohoo! What a life!!”

Let’s give ourselves completely to God, unencumbered by our safety nets for “just in case” and take a walk on the wild side.

May we follow Jesus into the great unknown, willing to become the “In Danger-ed” generation and LIVE!

Life to the full, baby! Let’s have some fun!!





So What?

3 12 2013

“The absence of intense desire is a sure sign of God’s absence from the heart. To abate fervor is to retire from God. Lack of heart and lack of heat are two things God loathes.”

-E.M. Bounds

The current series on Obstacles to Intimacy with God ends with apathy and boredom.

The opposite of love is not hate…

…it is apathy.

Any counselor knows that if a married couple fights like cats and dogs there is hope for their marriage.

If, on the other hand, one or the other doesn’t seem to care, but is merely “going through the motions,” the relationship is doomed.

While this seems odd, so long as their emotions are still engaged, their hearts are still involved. Let one withdraw his or her heart, and there’s nothing left to work with.

It was for this reason that Jesus called out the church of Laodocea.  He said that their lukewarm attitude toward Him made Him want to puke!

Their relationship with God was going nowhere

and they could not care less.

They weren’t at odds with Him, but neither were they tender toward Him.

It’s a bit scary to realize that:

an atheist who hates God is in better shape than an apathetic Christian!

Many Christians that I know today came from a position of strong opposition to God.

What causes us to pull away from God?

Generally, our withdrawal has to do with something that didn’t go our way. We were hurt by someone, our health failed, or our finances fell apart.

“If God loves me, then why did He let … happen to me?”

Did you ever wonder why we blame God for our problems? We live in a fallen world. That anything good ever happens should astonish us!

Once we’ve removed ourselves, we get comfortable with being distant. The whole “God thing” didn’t work, so why bother?

“Benefits” to distance between us begin to seem apparent:

We don’t have to change. In His presence is where we are transformed.

Change challenges our judgments and assumptions, but we’re happy with our mini kingdoms and don’t want to give up the “power” to pronounce judgment on others.

Transformation demands a certain amount of instability. Transformation can be very uncomfortable. We like things tied up in neat little packages. We prefer predictability. Life with God is certainly not always predictable!

We feel safe when there is distance because we know He can be wild – and we are scared of how He may (or may not) respond to us.

Those to whom we are closest can hurt us the deepest. Being close to God smarts sometimes – especially when He pulls back the veil of denial and we see things about ourselves that we don’t like…and don’t especially care to change.

Also, uncertain of what He might ask us to do, we stay away.

“If I got serious about God, He would probably send me to Africa.”

(I used to worry about this, myself.)

Good news! Unless you have a burning desire to go to Africa, I doubt that’s on His agenda for you.

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love, lives in God, and God in him.

In this way love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the Day of Judgment, because in the world we are like Him.

There is no fear in love.

But perfect love casts out all fear, because fear has to do with punishment.

The one who fears is not made perfect in love (1 John 4:14-18).

How do we get back on track?

First, we recognize that we have an issue with God.

Then, we confess it and ask for His help in settling the matter.

Once we’ve identified what’s wrong, we replace the lies we’ve believed, or renounce any unholy agreements we’ve made (I’ll never…), and replace them with truth. We ask the Lord to make Himself real to us, and to speak to us about the issue at hand. We ask Him to show us what we need to know or do to clear the lines of communication.

We expect a response! James tells us that if we ask without expecting Him to answer, we won’t receive anything (chapter 1).

We trust that we’ve been heard, and that the answer is YES. God’s purpose is to make us one with Himself. What we’ve asked is in accordance with His will. This is a prayer that we can confidently ask “in Jesus’ name.”

Father,

We live in a world where distractions abound, as do opportunities to be hurt or offended. I’m not sure why we blame every unpleasant thing that comes my way on You, but we do. Talk about being unfair!

Where there is something between us, please make it known…then show us what to do about it. We can be a little slow sometimes.

Light the fire within us once again. Help us to burn brightly with love for You.

Thank You for making Your will known concerning our relationship with You. It is for this reason alone that we can confidently ask You to draw us closer, and do so

In Jesus’ name.

Amen!

*****

You’ve dropped in on the series Intimacy with God. It begins here: C’mon In…

This section is about obstacles to intimacy. It begins here: A Clogged Conduit





That’s It – I Quit!

20 11 2013

“God, I can’t do this anymore. I’m done!” I yelled, frustrated beyond reason. “I’ve given it my best shot, tried as best I could, and yet I fail at every turn.

I QUIT!”

This is the danger of living life with “bounded sets” – the rules by which we try to live in order to prove that we are “Christian” by our behavior. The effort of trying to make everyone happy is exhausting…and God is just one more Person to add into the mix.

When life is comprised of bounded sets – one for every situation, the cost is high.

Self-evaluation is done by comparison. As a result we feel:

Like we don’t measure up

Either proud of how “good” we are or ashamed of how “bad”

A nagging sense of guilt

Confused

Insecure

Trapped

Lonely

Worthless

At the end of the day we feel:

Lonely

Phony

Hopeless

Isolated

We view others as:

Competition

A threat

We judge them by their appearance and behavior.

We view God as:

A harsh taskmaster

Judge

Disappointed with us

An “Indian-giver”

and believe that:

God’s goodness to me is in proportion to my good behavior – He is good to me if I am good, and mean to me if I am bad.

When our primary goal in life is to please everyone, there is no rest for our souls.

We have to remember the “norms” for ever person (or group of people) that we are expected to exhibit. This is not limited to a religious context, but also in lifestyle choices.

Every situation requires that we remember to “Do this…(whatever the bounded set may call for)…and you are “good” or “okay.”

The focus is always the external behavior.

There is no room for negative emotions. If we feel (trapped, lonely, insecure, etc.) we believe it is because we are “less spiritual” and something is wrong between God and us.

We become Pharisees, heaping rules upon ourselves that are impossible to keep.

What’s more, we impose these standards on others – who rarely want to play along.

Our expectations of ourselves and others are impossibly high, and as a result, are always on guard; wary of offending others – and continually offended by them.

Life becomes one wound after another, one broken relationship after another…

Families implode

Friends become enemies

Churches become battle grounds

We steer clear of social gatherings

We shut down our hearts

Then the day comes when we are done with the whole mess. We can’t live up to others’ expectation (or our own, for that matter), and we know it. We get sick and tired of feeling guilty all the time. Frustrated, fed up, and angry, we rebel.

Which, of course, means that we simply exchange one bounded set for a new one:

I’m going to look out for Number One

I deserve, and therefore will have…

I am going to have fun

Stay out of my way.

“To hell with everyone else, I’m going to live life on my terms!”

Let’s peek under the hood for a minute and see what makes this thing go.

What motivates this kind of behavior?

Fear:

…of not being liked

or accepted

or loved

…of being abandoned as worthless

…of rejection

You see, people-pleasing is the “prettiest” face selfishness can wear. It looks good from the outside, but the true motive is self-serving at its core. Few of the things we do from the bounded set are motivated by love for others, or with their best interest in mind. First Corinthians 13 opens with these words:

“If I speak with the tongues of men and angels, but do not have love,

“I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 

“And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love,

I am nothing.

“And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but do not have love, 

“It profits me NOTHING.”

We can do all the “good” things that are humanly possible, but if love is not the motivation we might as well live selfishly; the result is the same:

“Wood, hay, and stubble”

We will not be rewarded for our “sacrificial giving”…but will end our days angry, bitter old codgers that no one wants to be around.

How is this an obstacle to intimacy with God?

Isn’t He the One with the Big Black Rule Book, filled with all those do’s and don’ts? Isn’t He the One demanding that I be His slave and please Him? He wants to run my life and make me His puppet, His doormat for the world.

Here I am doing all these things for others, and what do I get for it? Put down, walked on, used, and abused.

This is how He treats His children??? Really???

It was just a couple of years ago that I finally had enough of this garbage and “quit” on God.

Imagine my surprise when that Still, Small Voice responded,

“It’s about time!”

*****

In my next post, we will talk about a better way to live. Until then, let’s begin to question our motives for everything we do. “Am I doing this out of love for the other person…or to take care of myself?”

We’re discussing Obstacles to Intimacy with God. If you missed the beginning of the series, you can find it here: C’mon In…





Ask and Receive

6 10 2013

Blessed be the name of the Lord Most High who gives us all we need to live in light and hope!

I’d like to close the last series of posts with this prayer which Marty shared with me:

Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed,
Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being loved…
From the desire of being extolled …
From the desire of being honored …
From the desire of being praised …
From the desire of being preferred to others…
From the desire of being consulted …
From the desire of being approved …
From the fear of being humiliated …
From the fear of being despised…
From the fear of suffering rebukes …
From the fear of being calumniated …
From the fear of being forgotten …
From the fear of being ridiculed …
From the fear of being wronged …
From the fear of being suspected …

That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be esteemed more than I …
That, in the opinion of the world,
others may increase and I may decrease …
That others may be chosen and I set aside …
That others may be praised and I unnoticed …
That others may be preferred to me in everything…
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should…

In Jesus’ name,

Amen!

\o/