The Trap

Bear-Trap

There is a very fine line between humility and self-deprecation, i.e., belittling or undervaluing oneself.  That line is like spring-wire on a trap.  Who’s trap?  Good question.

Be sober, be vigilant;
because your adversary the devil
walks about like a roaring lion,
seeking whom he may devour.
1 Peter 5:8 NKJV

Humility is realizing my genuine need for God in every moment of every day to fill me with Himself so that I may be all that He created me to be.  Without Him, I am like a light bulb with no power attached to it.  It does not mean the light bulb itself is worthless.

To be blunt, I’m calling God a liar when I self-deprecate myself and call myself worthless.  Father God paid a HUGE price to clear away all obstacles and hindrances that separate me from Him in order that we may spend eternity together.  His actions tell me what He deems my worth. (John 3:16, Romans 8:32)

Where am I going with this?  Glad you asked.

Today is Mother’s Day here in the United States.  It’s a VERY big deal.  It should be, after all Mother’s create space for life to happen in the womb and in the world.

I’ve never had a child.  Enter the trigger wire.  It’s very easy on this day for me to get focused on all the things I AM NOT.  That is the path my enemy would like me to take in order to devour me, steal my energy and my hope.

What’s your trigger wire?  What sends you down the path of focusing on what you are not?  Is it  your health, your weaknesses, your failures, your finances, lost loved ones, unreached goals, the successes of people around you, something else?

Some may say this is a discipline to motivate yourself to be better by focusing on what you are not.  As I type this to you, I see this image of someone digging a deep hole at the start of a race, jumping in and saying this is the place I need to start … rather than on level ground at the starting line.

The bible does tell us to first examine the plank in our own eye, before trying to take the speck out of another person’s eye (Matt 7:3-4).  So it does call us to know ourselves and to be honest with ourselves and with God about who we are – a work in progress that is completely loved by the Creator (Ephesians 2:9-10).

However, Jesus also tells us:

“‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
with all your soul, and with all your mind.’
This is the first and great commandment.
And the second is like it:
‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”
Matthew 22:37-39

Did you catch it?  “Your shall love your neighbor AS YOURSELF”.  If we love ourselves by belittling and undervaluing ourselves, we are going to do the same to the people around us.  Do you see how that could be a problem???

Fear not … the Owner’s Manual tells us how to live REAL without self-deprecation.

Don’t be anxious about things; instead, pray.
Pray about everything.
He longs to hear your requests,
so talk to God about your needs
and be thankful for what has come.
And know that the peace of God
(a peace that is beyond any and all of our human understanding)
will stand watch over
your hearts and minds in Jesus, the Anointed One.

Finally, brothers and sisters,
fill your minds with beauty and truth.
Meditate on whatever is honorable,
whatever is right,
whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely,
whatever is good,
whatever is virtuous and praiseworthy.
Philippians 4:6-8

What those verses look like for me today are:

  • This blog post is an answer to my prayers, i.e., my honest conversation with my Heavenly Father this morning about how I was feeling about myself and this day.
  • I am thankful for His truth that sets me free to receive His love for me, to be able to love myself and to love those around me.
  • I am filled with His peace in exchange for the agitation with which I woke.
  • As I choose to focus on beauty and truth, what is honorable, right, pure lovely, good, virtuous and praiseworthy, my thoughts are flooded with images of my Mom; the many women I know that are mothers; and the opportunities that have been afforded to me to be the love of God to nurture and create space for life in the lives around me.

Our Heavenly Father can and wants to do the same for you, regardless of what “your trap” may be.

Click picture for slideshow.

My Enemy or My Child

My enemy …

Eowyn from "Return of the King"

Eowyn from “Return of the King” and how I saw my needs

or my child …

Me on my 2nd birthday

Me on my 2nd birthday

That was the proposition put to me recently by my acupuncturist.

A trip to the dentist had triggered a week’s worth of Fibromyalgia Migraines.  As I lay on his table, the conversation went like this:

Me:  I feel like I have been fighting this battle for 20 years and I want to quit.

Acupuncturist:  Quit as in let go or quit as in give-up completely?

Me: Silence.  Too embarassed to say out loud that the latter was my choice.  After all, I am the one who writes about unconditional hope.  Just being transparent here.

Acupuncturist:  What if you were to embrace each ache and pain as a child that needs to be nurtured, rather than your enemy to be fought?

Me: That seems too horrible to me to think about embracing chronic pain, fatigue and weakness.

Acupuncturist:  How would you respond to a child that was in pain?  Would you fight it or embrace it?

Me:  Well … I would embrace it.

Acupuncturist:  I just keep seeing your all your aches, pains and needs as a child that needs nurture.

I left his office completely bamboozled.  But my Heavenly Father has used him so many times to speak into my life, I knew to immediately ask my Heavenly Father – what do I need to see/know about all this?

Revelation came as I opened Biblegateway 3 days later.  The daily verse was:

But those who wait for the Lord
[who expect, look for, and hope in Him]
shall change and renew their strength and power;
they shall lift their wings and mount up [close to God]
as eagles [mount up to the sun];
they shall run and not be weary,
they shall walk and not faint or become tired.
Isaiah 40:31 AMP

The verses immediately before talk about all the frailties of mankind contrasted to our Heavenly Father – the One who never wearies or grows faint.  This verse does not tell me I have failed because I am weary or faint; rather it tells me my Heavenly Father has already made provision for me out of His love for me.  My example is to love myself “as is” because of God’s love for me “as is”.  

It was like an alarm went off  …. oh my, is this nurture?  Caring for the crying child rather than fighting or chastising it?   This verse says nothing about pushing yourself harder and condemning yourself for weaknesses (the verse before speaks even of “the young men” experiencing such things), but rather to hope and open ourselves (lift up our wings) to receive and be lifted up by our Heavenly Father’s strength.  YES YES YES!  This is why and how I can embrace my every need and find/receive “nurture and comfort” for it. 

I made the choice to come out of agreement with the lie that I have to “battle myself” and came into agreement with the truth that my needs do not disappoint my Heavenly Father, but rather He has already made way for my needs/weaknesses to be a way for me to receive more of Him.  Just like Joseph declared “God has taken what the enemy purposed for evil and turned it to His good purpose!”  (Genesis 50:20).  Hallelujah!!

Are your wheels spinning?  Well, my certainly were so just to be sure I “got the message” below is the verse waiting for me when I opened BibleGateway today to reiterate why I should and how I can nourish myself.    Jesus’ example to me was “do as the Father is doing” (John 5:19).  What’s the Father doing?

The Eternal One will never leave you;
    He will lead you in the way that you should go.
When you feel dried up and worthless,
    God will nourish you and give you strength.
And you will grow like a garden lovingly tended;
    you will be like a spring whose water never runs out.
Isaiah 58:11 (The Voice)

 I definitely have some nurturing to do.  How about you?

 

Tis a great and ponderous chain

Anyone watched or read “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens this Christmas season?  Jacob Marley’s warning to Ebenezer Scrooge has taken on new meaning for me.

Tis a great and ponderous chain

I had my own dream about this huge  “muffin-top” I was carrying about my waist.  All this extra skin I was carrying around as if I had lost a great deal of weight, but was still carrying the burden of the extra skin.  It was heavy, very uncomfortable and impacted all I did.  It was a very descriptive picture of having been set free from something and yet still carrying it around.  The picture made me question the validity of previous inner healing.  With that question still in my thoughts, revelation came that when a person loses a large amount of weight, they still need a surgeon’s help to get rid of the excess skin.   The excess skin does not invalidate the weight loss, but it is a constant irritant and reminder until it too is removed by someone with the skills to do so.

What my Heavenly Father showed me with this muffin-top thing is a picture of the lie I, and I am thinking many others, have bought into that we walk about like Jacob Marley carrying this great and ponderous chain which we cannot see, but feel its weight. How so?  Because each day when something happens that may be similar to something which occurred in your past you feel the weight of that chain rather than just what is occurring in the moment.

After my Heavenly Father showed me this lie, He showed me the truth to replace it.  The truth is He has taken all of our sins, all of our unrighteousness and put it as far as the east is from the west. (Ps 103:12)  That is why His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matt 11:30).  Because Jesus has removed the past, we do not carry it as much as the enemy would like to us to believe that we do.

And, the future — Our Heavenly Father has all of our days numbered; He has them in His hands (Ps 31:15).  So all we carry is today, the present.  That is why the weight is light.

So that great and ponderous chain …

It is gone not because of anything that we have done but because of who Jesus is and what He has done.  Let it sink in …. me, you we are truly new creatures and all things that are in the past are gone (2 Cor 5:17).   Take hold of this wonderful gift and …

From the Blog “The Loving Room”

It may take a lot of repetition on my part or anyone’s part to refute the continued attacks of the enemy that tell us of this great and ponderous chain and that we must carry it.  But truly we do not have to carry it and we do not carry it.  We are free to live free in this moment.  And today, whatever happens it immediately gets put under the blood as well and we don’t carry that into tomorrow.  The image I see is similar to a free car wash that we get every day.  Every day is a fresh, washed-away start – none of the dirt, none of the grime is carried from one day to the next.

These chains I’m talking about, the links are found in the secrets we keep from ourselves and in some of the faulty beliefs we’ve formed through the years.  Later in the day as the truth from above soaked into my being, my sweet Heavenly Father used the light of that truth to reveal a “whopper” of a link in the chain I’ve been carrying around.  The best way I know to share it with you is to take it straight from my journal:

(For those of you reading my blog for the first time, let me preface what you are about to read with the background that I have been dealing with Fibromyalgia since 1998.)

The question that came to mind is when did I become such a bad thing that everyone needs to be protected from me? What I saw was the moment I was conceived.  That is where the lie/faulty belief came in that I was a bad thing and I needed to protect everyone from me because I wasn’t planned; I wasn’t expected; and, I forced people to change their plans, they had to accommodate me. 

So now when people have to accommodate me, particularly because of the Fibromyalgia, it feels really bad when do I anything that impacts their lives so that they have to change.  It feels REALLY BAD.  But, the truth is yes all that I am (including Fibromyalgia) may impact those around me and cause them to change in some way, but that is not necessarily a bad thing.  The change in their life might be a good thing.  It is what You showed me a few minutes ago when I was thinking I am tired of trying to be victorious and I heard You say “You already are who I want you to be.”  My response was REALLY, this, this is what You want me to be (i.e., feeling like my muscles were tearing with Fibromyalgia pain)?  Oh, but the difference is You said “WHO” and I said “WHAT”.  Yup there is a big difference.  The difference between who and what I am …  long releasing sigh … thank You Lord.

I break off agreement with the lie that I need to protect everyone from me and that the impact I have on people around me, i.e., my existence is a very bad thing.  I forgive myself for trying to overcome my existence all these years and swinging to the other extreme because no matter what I did I couldn’t win, I still existed and impacted people.  How can I be victorious when the problem is me?  I have to go away.  I have to not exist to be victorious with that belief system in place.
No wonder trying to be victorious has been so exhausting and I have experienced so much exhaustion and physical pain in my life.

So enemy You have been revealed.  And Father, God, I thank You for doing that and I ask You to come and to rebuke whatsoever powers and principalities that are attached to this lie and all the frustration that has come in with it.  I tell the frustration – you must go and deal with Jesus.  You have been revealed.  I come into agreement with Your truth that I am who You want me to be. (Eph 2:10)  I come into agreement with the truth that I am not a bad thing and the impact I have on others around me – intentional or unintentional — can be a very good thing.  I’m not sure if I am at “is a good thing” yet, but I am going to say that because I hear You saying it Father.  The impact I have from just being who I am is a good thing for those around me.
Thank You Lord. 

That’s an honest look at my chain.  What make up the links of your great and ponderous chain?  Are you exhausted from carrying it around?  Would you like to start 2013 free of it?

I know that’s what I want.  I’ve been living with this truth for a couple weeks now.  Has the enemy stopped trying to get me to pick up that chain and carry it around again? No. But, I no longer feel obligated to carry it … now that’s freedom and unconditional hope.  Care to join me?

Here’s to a New Year free of great and ponderous chains!

Beware of the measuring stick

This morning I’m sitting next to my best friend in church and she asks me how I am.  Why does that feel like such a scary question??  Because I don’t like the answer.

There is no sense in saying “I’m fine” because our relationship gives a whole new meaning to transparent.  It’s like God has given each of us the ability to see into the other’s life with God-glasses (kinda the opposite of sun-glasses that block light; God-glasses shine light on what needs to be brought out into the light of God’s love).

I respond “I don’t know what’s wrong with me.  All I wanted to do yesterday is cry and I feel the same way today.”

My friend:  “Maybe if you let yourself cry, who knows what your next blog would be?”

Me: “Right now I’m thinking I don’t need to be writing about anything, especially hope.”

My friend: “So maybe you believe you can’t be completely transparent?” Then she puts her arm around me and just loves me.  Of course the tears start to flow.

There it is .. God shining light on what needs to be brought out into the light of His love.  And, of course, the closing prayer today just happens to be for boldness to share what God is speaking to each of our hearts … so transparency it is.

The last 48-hours have been pretty much filled with me holding up this measuring stick and seeing every place in me that does not measure up and then soundly thrashing myself with the same measuring stick.  It’s like I have my fingers in my ears and at the same time saying la, la, la, la, la so I can’t hear what my Heavenly Father or anyone else is saying to me.  All I can hear is the beat of my own drum going “not enough, not enough, not enough”.

What does that look like? It looks like working 21 hours between Thursday morning and Friday afternoon and then berating myself for not having the energy to engage with friends at a sozo team meeting Friday night.  It looks like feeling like I’d been hit by a truck on Saturday and being angry/disappointed in myself as I am thinking what is wrong with me that I feel this way?  Why do I just want to escape from the world, my life and just cry??  Even when my sweet husband looked at me and said “I can tell you what is “wrong” with you, you’re exhausted.  Rest.”  My intellect was “that’s logical and good advice” … my heart not so much … my heart’s saying  “I’m not supposed to feel overwhelmed; I’m supposed to be filled with unconditional hope, not discouragement.  Why am I not healed by now of the FMS and the fatigue?  I am a fraud.”

That’s how my day continued even though I surrendered physically to my husband’s wisdom and crashed on the couch; my personal measuring-stick-thrashing continued as I watched the movie Phenomenon.  The lead character changes his world and the lives around him while dealing with the effects of a brain tumor.  But not me, I’ve weenied out here on my couch – at least that’s what my measuring stick was showing me.

Yet, I didn’t want to turn off the TV either because I didn’t want to hear what my heart was saying about being a fraud.   I was trapped in a double bind.  At some level I knew this was torment from the enemy but at another level I didn’t want to hear what my heart had to say because I was too busy  “shoulding” (yes, I made that one up) all over myself, i.e,  basically blaming my heart for being less than it “should” be.

That’s my internal view of the past 48 hours.  Externally what was transpiring around me in the same 48 hours was the many ways my Heavenly Father was reaching out to me saying “Exchange your measuring stick for my love.”

As I’m trying to rest and not look at my house that needs cleaning I receive a text from a young woman I had talked to about a week ago about possibly cleaning for me.  Since I’d not heard back from her, I had assumed (dangerous thing to do) that she didn’t have time in her schedule.  There was her text right in front of me, an answer to prayer “I can clean for you!” Provision rather than any condemnation from my Heavenly Father.

My sweet husband encouraging me to rest and enjoy my day.  Continually checking back with me for anything I may need.  Even offering to shoulder by himself some “grown-up decisions” as he calls them that we need to make as a couple if I’m not up to it.  Again, no condemnation, just love.

As I walked into church this morning the woman that greeted me hugged me and said “you need more joy” however as her comment went through my measuring-stick filter all I heard was “I’ve let you down too, I’m not joyful enough”.  Where really, with the benefit of hindsight, she was right I do need more joy – who doesn’t??

But what caught my attention the most was the teaching.  It was no coincidence this woman was teaching this message today.  As I listened almost everything she was sharing matched up with how God has revealed Himself to me and what I’ve been sharing on this blog.   That it is really hard to trust God when You have God’s nature confused with the authority figures you have experienced in this world; that there is nothing in our hearts that surprises God even though it may surprise us; that He really is who He says He is “Merciful, Gracious, Slow to Anger, Abounding in Loving Kindness and Truth” (Exodus 34:6); and, sometimes we get it right; sometimes we don’t.

The light started to dawn … confirmation that what I’m sharing really is true … God is revealing to her the same things He is revealing to me … I am not a fraud … sometimes I get it right; sometimes I don’t.  Just because I’m blogging about unconditional hope, doesn’t mean my heart doesn’t get to be real when I’m worn out and it is hard to hope.

Flawed yet fully loved not because of anything I have or have not done, but because of who Jesus is and what Jesus has done.  The pressure is off.  I can rest.  Care to join me?

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.
Matthew 11:28 (Amplified)

Yup, I’m trading in my measuring stick for God’s love.  Pretty good trade don’t you think?

I just love God’s sense of humor … take a look at what He had waiting for me on my facebook today: