Healing from Worry

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood. But against rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers, over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12

I have mentioned before that if I do not feel well physically, I don’t feel well emotionally. Unfortunately, I haven’t felt well for a while and was ordered to take some tests. Some of the test results were of concern to my doctor, so more tests were being ordered. Things like that worry people, but for the most part, they can handle it. In regards to me, I can’t handle it. My thoughts spiral out of control of all that could be wrong. When I received that news of further testing, I was about 20 minutes from having to pick up my daughter at school. I called my dad to tell him and he said, “Maybe you feel sick because you have always been a worrier. Stress will just mess you up.”

I drove to school to go get my daughter. I started to walk from the car to her classroom, when I felt this overwhelming surge of panic come over me. I knew an anxiety attack was coming and with that a lot of crying. I turned around and headed back to my car. I saw a friend, who is a mother of one of my daughter’s classmates, parked by my car. With tears streaming down my face, I asked her if she could walk with my daughter back to my car. She agreed and told me if I wanted to talk, she would listen. I nodded and got into my car. I started screaming and was pushing my face into the steering wheel, trying to get myself to stop. These ugly thoughts were coming into my head:

You are so pathetic.”

You are a horrible mother.”

How can you write to encourage others, when you so weak.”

No one would know you were a Christian, with the way you deal with stress.”

After this episode happened, I endured an attack of gastritis. I had a fever, body aches and stomach pain that kept me in bed an entire Sunday. No matter how bad I feel on any given day, I always get out of bed and get dressed and do something. But this time, I could barely walk. It hurt to roll over in bed or sit up to drink water. The stress really did me in. It took me several days to recover and feel normal again. Thoughts can change your health for the good or the worst.

The enemy can take the bad from any situation and influence my thoughts. Sometimes, I get bad thoughts about myself, other people, my circumstances. But I realized I do not need to believe in everything I think. It is not as bad as it appears to be. At some point, the bad will change for the better, through healing and acceptance. I struggle with wanting everything to be perfect to be able to feel confident or comfortable. I want everyone happy and for things to look good. This is a fallacy and even Jesus said in John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” I know that as hard as mistakes are to make, I have learned the greatest lessons. Another issue when dealing with your health, wait until you have all test results in and speak with your doctor. When you have half the test results and tell different people what is going on, you will receive varying degrees of information and it ends up being harmful than helpful. Case in point, one test appeared way off with my liver, but the other tests were normal. So I am only semi falling a part. Ha! Ha! The good news is with time, most everything can normalize, but I have to keep my thoughts in check the most and learn to cling to Him.

Lesson Learned: I do not have to believe every thought I think.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, I pray that I take every thought captive and be obedient to you, Lord Jesus. I pray healing over every system in my body and complete restoration. Remind me to take care of myself, in the physical, mentally and spiritually. When any bad news comes my way, remind me that you overcame it all. Remind me of your promises of: your grace, eternal life, supplying all my needs, your victory over death, everything is for the greater good, and giving me a way out of temptation. Thank you for carrying me through hard times and being my source of comfort In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

Show me your Faith Muscles!

When Abraham was ninety-nine years old, The Lord appeared to him and said, ‘I am God Almighty; walk before me faithfully and blameless. Then I will make my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.’” Genesis 17:1-2

Faith is difficult to have sometimes, especially when we have no control over the situation. Anxiety creeps in when I am going to a social gathering that is planned by someone else. I think about that day, weeks beforehand and wonder about what bad things could happen. Most times, I get so nervous and then the day comes and goes and I get so mad that I worried for nothing. Sometimes the anxiety comes from anticipating an argument or uncomfortable confrontation at one of these events. This is because it has happened before. No one wants to be blindsided by unhappy people when you are trying to enjoy a social event.

My family and I were invited to a charity walk-a-thon pretty far from home. There were family members that we had not seen in a while that would be there and knew we needed to go. A few days before the event, I started to feel nervous. But at that moment, I was going to step out in faith and choose to put my thoughts elsewhere. Every time I thought about what could go wrong, I prayed and thanked God that He would carry me through it. We honor God by being faithful.

It was a 64 mile drive to get there and there was not one traffic incident. The drive was uneventful. We also found parking close by the event. The bathrooms were clean, no porta potties to deal with at the event! (Can I get a “Hallelujah!”?) The weather was warm, but a nice breeze was always blowing through. There were no unpleasant conversations, everyone seemed happy. I actually enjoyed myself. That has not happened in 10 years. I have dealt with anxious and panic feelings everyday in those years. I felt God gave me a glimpse of what it was like to be relaxed and feel safe in His arms. But I have to submit daily to Him and have faith that He truly is in control. I know I want to always be in control. The good news is, I don’t need to be in control of everything.

Has every social event for me since that walk-a-thon been carefree and peaceful? Of course not! I still have days where going places with people I know and love, make me want to run for the hills because of my discomfort from the anxiety. Faith is a muscle that needs to be exercised daily to become strong. I can’t run a marathon without properly training for it. I can’t do an arm curl with a 25 pound weight, if I can barely lift an 8 pound weight. The most important thing is to not get mad at myself for not having the faith of Abraham when I haven’t practiced being faithful. When I see church members who seem to persevere in any circumstance, I get envious. My usual reaction is “why me?” not “Lord, have your way!”. But many of them started off reacting scared and over the years became more faithful. In Genesis 17:1, Abraham was 99 years old, when God asked him to be faithful and blameless. I hope to be a lot younger than Abraham to be faithful.

Lesson Learned: Faith is a muscle that needs to be exercised daily.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your faithfulness. Forgive me for doubting you. Holy Spirit, help me honor God with my faith. Strengthen my identity in you, Lord. Remind me when you carried me through dark times. Let me find people with testimonies of their faith going through hard times. Protect me and my family during dark times and let us see your glory. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

No longer a doormat for Passive Aggressive Behavior

His talk is smooth as butter, yet war is in his heart: his words are more than oil, yet they are drawn swords.” Psalm 55:12

When God is working on something in your life, that subject seems to show up everywhere. I have been dealing with the subject of passive aggression. In this recent time: I have had it happen to me, I have done it to someone and close people have been mentioning they have been dealing with difficult people. I came across this website called “Out of the Fog” (www.outofthefog.net) and it clearly labels what Passive Aggression looks like.

Withdrawal of material support, contribution to shared goals, Re-prioritizing alternate activities and goals, “go-slow’s”, procrastination or targeted incompetence.

Silent Treatment– inappropriate “one-word” answers, inattention, making yourself generally “unavailable”.

Off-line Criticism propagating gossip or criticism to a third party in an attempt to negatively influence the third party’s opinion of a person.

Sarcasm, Critical and “Off-Color” Jokes Humor which targets a specific individual is a form of Passive-Aggressive communication.

Indirect Violence– shows-of-strength such as destruction of property, slamming doors, cruelty to animals in the sight of another is passive-aggressive.

Do know anyone like that? Their tone. Their words that tear you down. Their selfishness and being inconsiderate of you and others. It is difficult to deal with people who are passive aggressive. It makes conversations and being able to co-exist with them, almost unbearable.

My friend and I are involved in a group where we are in charge of a few school aged children. All of the parents are delightful, except for this one parent. (There is always one, right?) She can be nice to your face but then turn around and become your worst enemy. She refused to follow the implemented rules of any activity we had. If she missed a deadline to turn in something, she would get mad at us for her irresponsibility and procrastination and still want her child to be included. When we didn’t allow it, she said we were singling out her child. It got to the point where my friend and I wanted to quit because of her.

We tried to have a higher authority of the program step in, but they refrained because they didn’t want to punish the child for their parent’s behavior. We agreed with that sentiment, but didn’t like the abuse we were getting. We turned the other cheek, so many times. We only have 4 cheeks between the two of us (8 total cheeks, if you count our backsides) and at some point, we felt like we would explode or implode. Honestly, I would rather clean a gas station bathroom than confront her. I knew in my heart what we would have to do, confront her when she acted out again.

Many times, in my walk with the Lord, I feel like I had to give grace and overlook bad manners. I would also allow people to treat me badly and not say a word because I didn’t want confrontation. I am not sure where I learned that lie. I know now, that being a Christian does not make me a doormat. Jesus confronted the Pharisees for being legalistic. So, really I should not have a problem telling someone not to talk to me in a rude way. Nowadays, the problem is everyone goes for the jugular when they confront someone. It doesn’t have to be that way. Praying for the right words to say and the right time to say them is the best way to start. Sometimes, it works out and other times it does not. I know when I have been calm and said to a person not to talk to me in that tone, that behavior towards me stopped. Many times people are focused on what they are lacking instead of the issue at hand. Whatever happens, God can redeem any situation and turn it out for something better.

Lesson Learned: Allow the words from the Lord be my guide when dealing with difficult people and to not let passive aggressive behavior creep into my life as it will only create more hurt.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, help me give forgiveness towards those who are disrespectful towards me. Show me when people are rude and trying to take advantage of me. Give me the best words to get my point across. Let peace be the end result. In Jesus’ Name. AMEN!”

Why are we at war with each other?

Disclaimer: This blog post is not about relationships that are abusive in any way. Physical, sexual and mental abuse are serious and one should seek professional help. Please call 911 and find professional help, if you are in a situation like this.

Therefore confess your sins to each other, so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” James 5:16

We have all been hurt. Sometimes, the hurt is minor. Other times the hurt is so deep it is anchored into our soul. Months, even years can go by and the hurt is still there when you see that person. This is difficult for me because I feel everything. When someone is dealing with a hurt, I begin to feel it. If there is tension between people, I feel it. It could be a complete stranger, yet the feeling is so strong, it was as if I was experiencing it myself.

There have been a few examples that I have seen recently, of just how life and strained relationships mess with us. I saw a neighbor walking her dog, she waved and smile as she always does as we passed each other. I stopped to let my dog sniff and inspect this one area and noticed she was passing her husband as he was leaving in his car to go to work. He looked at her but she completely ignored him and walked towards their house. He had this hurt look on his face and drove away. You could tell that something was stirring. Another resident in the neighborhood, drives super fast down the street to her home. She couldn’t care less if you are walking by. She chain smokes and her high school aged son smokes other substances with his friends at all hours of the night. She sits in her garage yelling on her cell phone and let’s everyone know by her conversations, she isn’t to be messed with. Her ex-husband picks up their son on his days. But instead of coming to the door to pick him up, he honks the horn (sometimes at 6:00 a.m.) to avoid getting out of the car and facing her. (By the way, I am not standing there watching her. I have to walk past her place to get to my house and this occurs daily!) The last example was the most scary. We were on our way to church and my husband, all of a sudden, made this u-turn in the middle of the street. He saw this man and woman fighting right on the sidewalk. My husband has no fear, stops the car and just walks over to try to defuse the situation. As I call 911 and give a description of what is going on, I can see both the woman and man crying. The pain on their face was heart breaking. They leave and my husband comes back into the car and tells me that the woman was trying to commit suicide. The man was her fiancé and he was trying to stop her. He had tried to commit suicide only a few weeks before and now she was threatening to do the same.

That last experience produced in me a full-blown anxiety attack. I hate conflict like that. It hurts to see people in so much pain. Someone either caused us pain or we caused it. No one wants to be honest. Maybe there was an attempt for reconciliation, but someone wasn’t ready or they are gone. Pride interferes with reconciliation. Admitting fault and truly apologizing can begin true healing. Sometimes, I cannot even remember what the fight was about. But the longer the fight goes unresolved, it begins to fester and rot the relationship. Most times, we just want to be heard but instead we just hurt. Shaming and threatening someone into changing their ways does not work. Patience and compromise may have to come into play. Some relationships are just done and that is okay, but most can be saved. It may be painful and take time to work through, but God is there for us. His Holy Spirit can guide us. Jesus can take the hurt and restore it with love and grace. I have to make a choice to seek Him. It maybe easier to quit and be done with the relationship, but many times those same issues come up in the next one. Take inventory of your heart. We are all worth it.

Lesson Learned: Admitting fault can be the beginning of the healing and restoration in the relationship.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, one reason for dying on the cross was for our wounds to be healed. Heal the hearts of those hurt by broken relationships. If there is room for restoration, change our hearts and find the source of the problem. If it truly is over, please replace those wounds with your love and grace. Change my ways Lord, if I harbor resentment and bitterness. Help me to forgive those who have wronged me and see them as you would. In Jesus’ Name. AMEN!”

Low and Slow

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!’Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’” Luke 10:38-42

I am a total Martha. I am the one running around setting up or in preparation for something. I am the one begging the microwave to hurry up after 30 seconds or eating breakfast while trying to live chat with a utility company and working. Yes, that is ridiculous and needs to stop. Have you seen those crock pot recipes that suggest you to cook on low for over 8 hours? They seem to make the best dishes. It seems like anything, developed over time produces the best and longest lasting results. We are in such a hurry to do everything now. We expect everything done now. I want so many results but never want to deal with the process. Never taking a moment to look up and see His wonder. The journey is supposed to be the real victory.

My husband is quite the opposite. Like me, he is always on time, but rarely is he ever in a hurry. He is especially patient and not in a hurry to buy something. He is constantly telling me “patience lady, patience!” Yet, advertising, friends, family, random strangers, Bed Bath and Beyond tell me I need a product to make life easier. Then in few months, sometimes even a few days, I regret the purchase. My husband researches products he is interested in and then waits for them to go on sale. If it doesn’t go on sale, he shrugs it off and figures it wasn’t meant to be. He has found dress pants that were originally $40, for $2.14. He has put sales people in a tizzy and they end up folding and giving him what he wants. For example, my husband upgraded to a smart phone just 1.5 years ago. He never cared or needed one, he was happy with his flip phone. But his work was pressuring him to have a phone with the capability to text. He was on the phone with our cell phone carrier for 5 hours (speaking to at least 3 different people) until he got the deal he wanted. That is right, 5 hours. I cannot believe the representatives stayed on the phone that long, but my husband would have kept going. He would outlast the cockroaches in a nuclear holocaust. We ended up with 2 free decent smart phones, no upgrade fees on either phone, unlimited minutes and text and 4GB of shared data. To top it all off, when the first representative made a mistake, he spoke with a supervisor and got them to discount one of the phone lines for 1 year. Maybe because he is a math teacher, he knows when a sales person is trying to put one over him when they throw out the numbers. He has caught people in a full-out lie trying to get him to finance purchases. They look like they saw the Loch Ness Monster when they see he didn’t fall for their trap. It truly is awesome to watch.

When I see how my husband does things versus how I do them, my behavior makes me cringe. I want our daughter to have patience and make the best choices. Whether it is for making a purchase or important things like who see marries, it shouldn’t be impulsive. I am choosing to slow down now. Not every decision will work out, but I can certainly try by not being in a hurry.

Lesson Learned: God is never in a hurry, I shouldn’t be either.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father forgive me for rushing around and not seeing through the process. I ask for patience and endurance when things seem uncertain. I am thankful that you Father God, always has the last word. Help me to not get sucked into the tornado of busyness and stand firm to your plan. In Jesus’ Name. AMEN!”