From Frightened to Freedom

As a young wife and mother of three, my life was hectic at best. On top of this, I viewed life and reacted to its challenges and issues from a codependent and perfectionistic attitude – double trouble.

 

I wanted to please everyone, so they would like and love me; I thought that the only way to accomplish this feat was to be perfect. I was under the delusion that if I loved and served everyone – even to the detriment of myself – they would love me in return.

 

However, all I did was to teach people to take me for granted and to treat me like a doormat and their unpaid servant – chief cook, bottle washer, baby sitter, housekeeper and problem solver. People took advantage of me, which stressed me out even further.

 

I even did this with God. I attempted to keep every “jot and tittle of the law” (Matthew 5:18), hoping to please God with my undying service, in order to earn His love. I turned into a foolish “Galatian” and ran myself ragged, meeting myself coming and going (Galatians 3:1-3).

 

Stress kept me from sleeping and sleeplessness made me grouchy, which caused me to be short-tempered with those I loved. I hated who I was…I hated me, but I had no idea how to change things.

 

My self-esteem was in the bottom of the tank and I felt like I was drowning in the details of life. Finally, in desperation, I started researching codependence: what caused it and how to get free from it.

 

I learned that I had to stop neglecting my own needs every day and to allow others to meet their own needs once in a while. The books promised that they would still love me anyway, even if I did not “earn” it.

 

I figured that even if they did not love me, then they had no true feelings for me in the first place. I also translated this into the spiritual realm. God already loved me when I was a lost sinner, and He would always love me unconditionally (Romans 5:8); therefore, I could enter His rest and enjoy His favor.

 

This fact stopped the codependence dead in its tracks. I did a 180 degree turn around and walked away from this driven lifestyle. God’s Spirit broke the shackles of expectations that I allowed to chain me to a meager existence.

 

When I entered into God’s rest, I found a security and warmth that I missed all my life. Over the ensuing years, the comfort of God’s rest brought me more peace and joy than I ever dreamed possible; and He continually supplies all of my needs with His glorious riches.

 

Prayer:

Father God, thank You so much for Your grace and mercy, which lead us in Your everlasting way (John 10:28-30; 1 Peter 5:10). You teach us lessons all along life’s path and You bring us into ever-increasing intimacy with Your presence within us. When we let go of the impossible demands of pleasing people and focus instead on walking by the direction of Your Spirit moment by moment, we enter into Your rest, we receive Your gift of mercy and love, and we learn to trust in Your wisdom.

 

Due to Christ’s saving redemption on Calvary’s cross, we are no longer slaves of the demon of perfectionism. Instead, we follow the leading of Your Spirit and rest in Your goodness and grace. We trust in You with our whole heart; acknowledge You in all of our thoughts, words and deeds; and glorify You as You direct our paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).

 

Thought for the Day:

God invites us to bask in His love; abide in His peace and hide under His wings when life scares us (Psalm 91:4); we learn to accept love when it is given and to serve others only when God’s Spirit leads us to do so; this prevents burn-out and promotes joy in living regardless of our circumstances.

 

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Hidden with Christ in God – Part 1 – My Initial Reaction

 

When I first read the words, “hidden with Christ in God”, I was angry. It was not until my mid-forties that I discovered my true self; and I was not willing to give up my new found autonomy and be demoted and hidden in the background once again.

 

I had just learned, from the loving tutelage of my employer, that I am a person too and that I have rights and privileges that no one prior to this point, myself included, had ever allowed me to enjoy.

 

My father was autocratic and bombastic by nature (the Italian Mafia type). Due to my insecurities, fears and codependent attitude, I taught my friends and extended family to treat me as an appendage rather than as a viable member of society. I lived like a doormat most of the time.

 

Then, out of nowhere, when I reached my limit of patience or was extremely wounded by someone’s treatment of me, I used anger to attempt to wrestle away from others their control over my life. This often left them puzzled, resentful and wounded in return.

 

Therefore, when I read that verse in the Bible, I did not want to be hidden away again. I had no desire to give up the ground I gained when I realized my freedom as a person to be accepted, listened to and part of the decisions made concerning my life.

 

As I prayed about this verse, God showed me that He wants us to be hidden with Christ in Him, because He desires that we live in constant fellowship with Him, intimately knowing Him and Christ whom He sent (John 17:3).

 

He wants His rivers of living water to flow in us, through us and out of us and upon everyone we come in contact with throughout our day (John 7:38). He changes the course of lives through Christ in us.

 

I knew that I could ultimately trust God with every aspect of my life, so I totally submitted to His desire to hide me with Christ in Him (Isaiah 57:15). I want Him to use all of me, holding nothing back from Him, to further His Kingdom in the earth.

 

Prayer:

Father God, as You search our heart, You understand the motives behind our thoughts, words and actions (1 Chronicles 28:9). Your ways and thoughts are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9). As we trust in You, we come to realize that in times of stress and trials, You hide us with Christ in You.

 

This is not a negative concept to belittle us or to force us to abandon our true self, but it is actually teaching us that our true identity is in Christ alone. Thank You for revealing Yourself to us (Ps 18:2; 62:6; Exodus 33:22). Help us to live as imitators of Christ, as Your beloved children (Ephesians 5:1; 1 Corinthians 11:1).

 

Thought for the Day:

Our Rock of Ages is ever present to help us in our time of need (Isaiah 26:4); but if we only seek His provision, we will never be happy; however, if we seek Him and His presence in our life, we will live a fulfilled life regardless of our circumstances.

 

 

I am a Person too – Part 1 – Freedom from the Tyranny of the Past

Our whole life consists of relationships with our loved ones, acquaintances, co-workers, neighbors, authority figures, friends, family members and even with our self.

 

We have a chance of receiving wounds and/or blessings from all of these associations; and our past, even our subconscious conflicts, influences each of these interactions as well.

 

Our relationship with our self includes our body, soul and spirit. Our body has internal and external influences, our soul includes our thoughts and feelings and choices, and our spirit is either dead in sin or free in Christ (Colossians 2:13).

 

Events in our life, involving this multiplex of individual influences, add flavor to or diminish our joy in life. The way people react to us helps to form our concept of our self. We learned to love or despise our self from their actions and opinions.

 

Subconscious memories of these interactions continue to create our self-concept and the way we relate to people as an adult. We may live with a wounded, defensive attitude or a carefree, happy outlook or an angry, combative defiance.

 

Trauma changes the way we see our self and our future. We can diffuse and disarm these subconscious memories and the way they affect our relationships today by surrendering our life to Jesus Christ.
 

We do not have to blame current issues on our self or anyone else. They usually occur from woundedness in one or both of us. Issues in adult relationships often stem from childhood suffering; but childhood wounds do not have to control our adult life.

 

We can learn a new way to set up boundaries, exercise discernment, stop victimization, redefine our attitudes, change our behavioral patterns and gain a new perspective on priorities and what is important to us by allowing God to expose Satan’ lies and to renew a right spirit within us (Psalm 51:10).

( http://www.theophostic.com )

 

Prayer:

Father God, You want to create a clean, pure, simple heart within us; one not tainted by the world and painful experiences, but one of freedom in Christ (John 8:36). You delight in setting our soul free from the pain of the past and giving us a bright and promising future (Jeremiah 29:11). Teach us that when people are not trustworthy, we can still trust in You.

 

As children we were more vulnerable and had fewer choices in the actions perpetrated on us by others. As adults, we can take a more active role by surrendering our future to You and listening to Your Spirit each moment of the day. Thank You for giving us Your wisdom in place of our human reasoning and for teaching us to have boundaries and how to ensure that we have input into our daily experiences.

 

Thought for the Day:

Our past has power over us only if we give it permission to do so; coming to Christ for healing helps us to find freedom from the tyranny of the past.

 

Healing from Abusive Behavior – Part 1

Abuse, even a one-time moment of rage that used abuse as punishment or an attempt to control the victim, robs us of our innocence and makes us feel powerless over our own life.

It drives us into a codependent role – attempting to please others to keep them from abusing us. The problem with this faulty thinking is that it often has the opposite effect.

People tend to continue to abuse our good nature, take us for granted and treat us with contempt. A lack of appreciation and more verbal, mental and physical abuse may follow.

We strive throughout our life to lay down our life in hopes that someone will love us; but we actually teach them that it is okay to take advantage of us, because we constantly put our needs last.

Trauma does not always make us stronger. It may also make us a ball of nerves, fear and insecurity. We are actually weaker, because we are always on the defensive.

We may develop PTSD, much like any survivor of a battle zone, and react to life with this fractured thinking and behavior. Medication may be necessary to help us to remain calm and lucid until God heals us.

Journaling helps us to heal by allowing our Inner Parent to understand the deep wounds we experienced and to nurture our Inner Child as we turn our words into a prayer for God’s healing.

Prayer:
Father God, I pray for victims of abuse of every type. Give them the deep comfort that can only come from Your love. Restore to them their joy in life and remove from them the fears and insecurities, which plague their life. Redeem their heart and mind and give them a new outlook on life.

Teach them that although people may not be trustworthy, You are always trustworthy. Help us to remain vulnerable and kind, yet wary and wise (Matthew 10:16). Show us the balance between serving others without teaching them to take us for granted by always putting our needs last.

Thought for the Day:
God’s perfect goodness and love find expression in the midst of wickedness and degradation; because He experiences every slight right along with us and carries our pain and burden for us, if we will relinquish it to Him.

Renewed Mind – Part 3 – Recovering from Wounds

My counselor listened to my brief account of my childhood and teen years and commented, “You grew up in a war zone. You are suffering from PTSD.” WOW…who knew!

I thought my life was normal. I did not know other people had nurturing, cherishing homes. My parents also suffered abuse in their childhood and young adult lives.

My mother’s own mother died when she was only three years old. She grew up in an alcoholic home, the only daughter with six brothers and a step-mom who had to work every day of her life.

My dad came back from the Korean War with PTSD and he took out his rage on my mom, three brothers and me. He was a mean man who did nice things now and then – a bipolar personality.

My parents did not seek healing for their wounds and passed them on to me and my three brothers by their attitude and behavior toward us, as well as by their example of coping with life.

They wounded us because of their woundedness. They taught me that I was stupid, clumsy, less than enough, had no real positive qualities and that I had to earn their love.

This deeply affected my self-esteem and how I related to other people. Satan planted these lies deep within my subconscious mind and I believed they were true.

Born with a melancholy personality, this treatment drove me further into myself by wounding my soul and corrupting my image of who I was.

I could not look at myself in the mirror. I disgusted myself. My shortcomings and failures taught me to further despise myself. I longed for unconditional love and acceptance of all of my idiosyncrasies.

At a young age, my mom became the responsible one in her childhood home, who buried her feelings and codependently served everyone else. I learned this behavior from her.

She recognized my need for self-esteem and did all in her power to give me opportunities to excel in life. Thankfully, her efforts prevented me from turning to addictions to mask my pain.

Yet, my poor self-image crippled me and hindered my success. Writing poetry saved me from committing suicide and gave me a release and even hope of a better life.

Then, at age 18, I met the Savior Jesus Christ. He started to sanctify my soul – my thoughts, choices and emotions (Philippians 4:8). He brought me to a prayer warrior who helped me to do spiritual battle and to reclaim my wounded soul for God ( http://www.theophostic.com ).

When I moved away from home, I received much more support from my parents. As I received healing from God in my adult life, God helped me to understand and to forgive my parents; and He used me to nurture and to partially heal my parents as well.

God spoke His truth to my soul and replaced Satan’s lies and my negative self-image with His Truth. I learned to love God, love my self and love others with a pure heart.
( http://www.savedhealed.com/iamlist.htm ).

Prayer:
Father God, thank You for saving me when You did. I felt Your Holy Spirit pouring over me, and drenching every cell in my body and soul with Your love. You taught me to meet my own needs, rather than to neglect my needs or to expect others to meet them for me. I am content in Your love for me regardless of my circumstances.

You brought me to the realization that I am already dead in Christ and that He is now my whole life (Colossians 3:3-4; Galatians 2:20). The enticements of this world, sin and the devil no longer appeal to me. Thank You that Jesus balances my attitudes, opinions and goals in life.

Thought for the Day:
God taught me to find joy in my negative circumstances and to have faith in His faithfulness by changing my focus in life from carnal, earthly affairs to spiritual, eternal ones.
– Romans 8:28

Healing Relationships – Part 4

When our soul begins to heal, our personality, behavior and beliefs change. This may put our partner on the defensive and cause them to feel insecure.

Our relationship changes from independent, dependent or codependent to interdependent, and our family and friends are not used to it.

The healthy changes, which we make, will bring healing in our body, soul and spirit. It will help us to establish an interdependence with our mate, as they get used to the changes.

It will limit our negative reactions to one another, improve feelings of self-worth, change the way we meet our own needs and give us more energy to serve others as God’s Spirit leads us according to His will, rather than by codependent urges.

Intimacy increases, expectations decrease, and in conflict we blend differing ideas into a whole new concept on which we both agree. We are mutually interdependent with one another.

Unresolved disagreements cause a couple, which normally live in an atmosphere of cooperation, to form independent lives that disrupt their interdependence.

Interdependence means that it is healthy to have differing ideas, hobbies, interests, likes and dislikes, because these differences bring variety to the relationship.

Interdependence is living in a mutually reciprocal relationships. It is about forming intimate connections with another human being. We share the decision-making process in our relationship and mutually care about one another’s welfare and feelings.

We are conscious in our choices, own responsibility for the consequences of our actions, and readily admit when we are wrong.

We enjoy deeper, more meaningful associations, and greater productivity, service, contribution and growth in our relationship.

We cherish, appreciate, admire, respect, enjoy, love and care about one another, and we never miss an opportunity to affirm and to validate one another.

Prayer:
Father God, help those of us with wounds from the past to heal and to have the wisdom and courage to develop an interdependent relationship with our partner, children, co-workers, associates and church family.

Give us patience with them as they too heal from the wounds of their past. Then allow us to serve You together in our individual gifts and calling, according to Your will for each of our lives.

Thought for the Day:
Interdependent relationships bring harmony and enjoyment to any marriage, partnership or community.

​A New Creation – Part 1

As a child, I felt insecure and fearful about tomorrow. I desperately attempted to control my life in order to feel as safe as is humanly possible. I did not want to leave anything to chance, because it usually turned out badly. I focused inwardly and took care of my own business.

Introverted and analytical, I lived a very cautious life with intense self-discipline and attention to details, so I would not cause anyone to get upset with me. I disliked change of any kind and I reacted in anger when my security was threatened in any way.

My favorite activity was to sit in our giant China-berry tree in our back yard, engrossed in a book until sunset. I also enjoyed crafts of all kinds. My mom and grandmother taught me to do needlework, and I learned to do many other crafts from the instructions in library books.

Throughout childhood, I was way too sensitive, felt too deeply and cared too much. I had no real friends except my cousins and my Girl Scout troop. I had no dreams or aspirations, except making it through the day in relative peace and calm. These traits followed me all through high school.

In adulthood, my loyalty to God, friends and family served me well as a Born Again Believer. I still do not need many friends, but I am merciful, caring and loyal to all of my acquaintances. I am still easily embarrassed and shy. I feel overwhelmed in a group and I prefer talking to people one-on-one.

However, God impressed on me the importance of stepping out of my shy persona and allowing His Spirit to minister to people through me. Ironically, He called me to serve Him as a greeter in social gatherings, and as a Pastor’s wife, living in the limelight under microscopic scrutiny.

Prayer:
Father God, thank You for using these years of my life to transform me with the mind of Christ. My penchant for perfectionism made me, and everyone around me, tense and uptight, until You mercifully delivered me from that demonic plague. You taught me that doing my best was all that anyone could ever expect from me. Then, You took it one step further and encouraged me to walk in Your Spirit as You transform my life.

Thought for the Day:
In Christ, our old personality is dead and we no longer live for our self, because the Spirit of God abides within us and we are buried in Christ and raised to walk in a new life. – 2 Corinthians 5:17; Romans 6:4