What I Learned This Week: Comparisonitis (Comparing Yourself To Others)

I didn’t realize how bad I had this affliction, this addiction, called Comparisonitis.  I am continually comparing myself, sometimes subconsciously, and sometimes very consciously, with other people around me.  One minute I think I’m fine, I like myself, I’m good enough – and then BAM, I see someone else and feel inferior!

I walk into a room and immediately ask myself, “Am I bigger than her?  Smaller than her?”  I hear women in other ministries or businesses talk and I wonder “Will I ever be as successful as they are?”  I see other women and how popular and loved they are and think, “I’ll never be like that – it comes so naturally to them.  Compared to them, people obviously don’t like me.”

These thoughts in my head are endless, excruciatingly painful, and utterly useless!  God whispers to me, “But I didn’t make you to be like your sister.  I made you specifically for my own pleasure and my own purpose.  She can’t be and do what I created you to be and do, and vice versa.   I love you both equally just as you are.”

And yet, that makes absolutely NO difference to me.  I’m just being honest.  Yeah, so what if God loves me just as much as that gorgeous, thin blond with the perfect face and has a successful business or ministry?  That just doesn’t make me FEEL any better at all.  Why???

Because of my dependence on the approval of other PEOPLE, not on God.  I was taught that my appearance must be acceptable to other PEOPLE, and that other PEOPLE must deem me a social and financial success in order to be valuable.  If a HUMAN MALE doesn’t want me, isn’t attracted to me, I am worthless. (I know I’m not the only one who has these thoughts.)  I am still an addict, in my core, to social opinion about me because I never knew there was another measuring stick to be used.

When I was in elementary school, they were threatening to change over to the metric system.  All of us who were used to inches and feet were going to have to endure trying to figure out metres and litres.  We were going to have to learn an entirely DIFFERENT way of measuring everything, and we were (and to this day, still are) completely resistant to that.  We are used to measuring everything the way we always have, and God help anyone who tries to change that.

It is the same way with how we measure ourselves.  We have only known comparison to other people, pleasing other people for approval, trying to be good enough to earn love and acceptance.  It’s like we were kidnapped as a child and lived in a Cult called “Society” and were brainwashed to believe you had to earn your worth. Then God rescued us by paying a great ransom for us and said, ‘No, no – you’ve got this all wrong.  That is NOT how you get your value, nor who you get it from. I am your Parent, and I love and accept you just as you are.’  It just FEELS all wrong, and not real at all.

In the Kingdom of God, our worth comes from our Father‘s valuation of us.  And He values us for this reason only – He created us for Himself and He loves the creation He made.   Whether we ever DO anything or not for Him is completely irrelevant.

Scripture says that God has compassion on us, and that word actually means the feelings a mother has for her unborn child.  A child in the womb cannot do anything to earn love, not actions or appearance – it is loved simply because it belongs to and is a part of the mother.

We belong to and are a part of our Father in Heaven.  We are His adored daughters, so we are Princesses.  And if that wasn’t enough reason to feel valued, we are actually engaged to the man of our dreams – Jesus – who has loved us enough to give up His life for us.  We are flawless in His eyes.  THIS is the true and accurate picture of who we are.

For us to ever feel “good enough”, worthwhile, valued and lovable, we will have to make a concerted effort to CHANGE OUR MEASURING STICK.  You say, “But what people think about me is important.”   From a societal standpoint, yes, but God’s valuation of you must always supersede any and everyone else’s valuation.  You may not realize it yet, but you CAN and MUST CHOOSE whose valuation you will allow to determine your worth.

This will not be a one time decision, just as trusting Him for provision is not a one time thing.  It is a Kingdom Principle that we have to learn, and in order for it to burn new pathways in our brains, we will have to ACT on it repeatedly.  Notice, I said repeatedly, not perfectly, because we will never get this 100% right.  But we have to make the effort to remind ourselves every day about the source of our value until any other valuation of us feels wrong.

I challenge you to write out a note to yourself and post it on your bathroom mirror, on your car’s dashboard, on your computer monitor – anywhere that you will see it.  It should say something like this:

I choose to believe God’s valuation of me over society’s.  I am an adored, lovable, valuable and irreplaceable royal princess who is loved by the Prince of the Kingdom. NOTHING I DO (or not do) can ever change that.

You are not alone – we can walk together on this journey of discovering and believing our value.  We don’t have to be threatened by the existence of other Princesses, because our Father has more than enough love to go around for all of His unique little girls.

Your sister in Christ,

Penny

 

 

What I Learned This Week: Finding Contentment Where I Am

I have been struggling with resentment and jealousy because other people have what I want.  There.  I said it.  I wish I could say it feels good to get it off my chest, but it doesn’t.  However, I’m hoping it will help some of you who are feeling it, too.

Lisa Bevere told a story about how she wanted a particular vehicle and asked God for it.  God didn’t give it to her.  However, her neighbor got one instead.  She was not a happy camper, to say the least.  Looking at that vehicle in their driveway made her resentful and jealous.  She was serving the Lord, working hard for the Kingdom.  Why had the neighbor gotten what she wanted?

Then the Lord told her that she had an inaccurate picture of how He worked and all that He had to offer.  He showed her that she had a picture of a heavenly warehouse with a set amount of items in it, and if someone else got an item she wanted, that meant there was one less for her to get.  But that is not how His gifts work.

Our Father has an unlimited number of gifts in his storehouse.  He owns the cattle on a thousand hills.  Just because someone else gets something you want doesn’t mean that you are in danger of not getting yours.  He has more than enough of everything for all of us, so we have no need to be afraid of others being blessed.

This goes for activities, ministries, relationships, gifts and callings as well as stuff. You want to teach that Sunday School class, but someone else gets to do it.  You want to lead that choir, but someone else gets that position.  You want a relationship, but another woman gets into one instead. You want to be in full time ministry, but someone else you know gets to do it while you work full time supporting them.  The last one has been a real struggle for me, unfortunately.

Of course, I would love to be in full time ministry, especially counseling women and families.  Instead, I work 42 hours a week or so supporting my household and doing ministry on the side.  My husband, on the other hand, is running our Men’s Recovery House and our church full time – without pay because we don’t want to take any monies until the ministries are self-supporting.  He is doing what I want to do, and I’m not getting to do it.  Honestly, it eats at me at times.

I feel so incredibly petty and ungrateful.  I am so thankful for the ministries which He has entrusted to us, the people to whom we get to minister, for the opportunities to walk in our callings.  So why do I experience discontent, and sometimes, outright jealousy and resentment?

Because I am in a flesh-suit that acts like a toddler when it doesn’t get what it wants.   Despite my spirit’s desire to please God, my lifelong bent toward selfishness in my soul causes me to get upset when I can’t have what I want.   How quickly and easily I turn from remembering all that I have to focusing on the few things I do not have!

But this has been the enemy’s tactic since the beginning of man’s existence.  “Did God really say you can’t eat of this tree?  Surely you won’t die…”  Adam and Eve could have stayed in the garden in unbroken fellowship enjoying eternal provision forever.  It wasn’t until Satan got their eyes off of all they had and focused it onto the one thing they couldn’t have that they became dissatisfied with what God had given them.

God’s instructions to us when we can’t have what we want are pretty clear and specific:

Phil 4: Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

  1. First, we are to rejoice, thankful for being in relationship with the God of the universe and for being the recipients of His continual care and provision.
  2. We are to ask for whatever we want, but it must always be tempered with the remembrance of all He has already provided and an attitude of gratitude for it.
  3. We are to remember that He is a good God, even if we don’t get what we want when and how we want it. We need to trust His knowledge and His timing of what is best for us AND for others in His Kingdom.
  4. Most importantly, we LEARN to remain content by God’s grace – His supernatural empowerment in our lives to obey Him.   If we will remain in Him, He will remain in us, and we will have His peace and His contentment.  Notice that when Paul says God gives Him the necessary strength, it is specifically strength to be content in every situation.

Like a car whose wheels need alignment, our steering wheel repeatedly starts pulling to the right or left, away from dead center.   We continually pursue things that we think will bring us joy and contentment OTHER than simply resting in God’s goodness and provision.  Whether it is money, or stuff, or activities, or relationships, we can fall into depression or anxiety because of our focus on it.   It causes us to wander away from our trust in God and pierce ourselves with grief.

1 Timothy 6: But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

11 But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

God never ever intended for us to find our enjoyment and happiness in other people or things or activities.  He wants us to find our contentment only in Him, and if we do that, nothing in this world can ever take that contentment away.   If our goal is to pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness and trust God to provide whatever we need in His timing and His fashion, we won’t yearn for things we can’t have and make ourselves miserable.

I challenge you, along with myself, to make a gratitude list today of the things you already have, and to speak aloud how thankful you are for them.   I challenge you to consciously change your goals from pursuing other things and people to pursuing God and contentment in Him alone.   When you find yourself focusing on what you don’t have, purposefully take those thoughts captive and rejoice for what God has done, is now doing, and will do for you in His timing and wisdom.  Make that commitment to be grateful and trusting today.

Your sister in Christ,

Penny

 

What I Learned This Week: The Only Solution To Anxiety

I heard the loud thud of a body hitting the floor.  I had handled his two trips to the ER like a trooper. I even packed food and drink for the second time.  I did flip out a little when I found out he had fallen over face first into the dirt one day outside, but I figured he’d be ok.

But this was different.  The thud and then the profound, horrible silence was too much for me.  I ran into the bathroom to find my husband on his back on the file floor.  He was alive, and despite me telling him not to move until I got help, he of course did exactly the opposite, claiming he wasn’t hurt.  Then he got up and revised his assessment of the situation. He hurt his hip.

I just clung to him and started crying.  Now, you probably don’t know that I rarely cry.  First, it was because I stuffed my feelings, or rationalized them away for so many years, there was no reason to cry.  Then, when I had received a large measure of healing, I had no need to cry.  But this was anxiety-release crying – it just spurted out, without any deep emotion.  I don’t know if it was relief that he was alive, or if it was a wake-up call that it could have been much worse.  Either way, I was scared, and that’s when the anxiety started creeping back in.

Anxiety is really unbelief in God’s ability and willingness to take care of us.  It starts out like a little pinhole that allows a trickle of nervousness and doubt to start flowing.  It’s so small, you don’t even realize it is there.  It increases so slowly that you don’t realize you could drown until it reaches panic inducing heights.  Only then do we wonder how we even got here and what to do.  What happened to my peace?

If you remember that PEACE is a FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT, it becomes clearer.  Peace cannot be manufactured, nor can it be lost like a locket hanging around our neck. It must be borne. We BEAR fruit, we can’t create it. Peace blooms only as the Life flows through the Vine and we remain grafted into that vine.  Therefore, the question should not be “what happened to my peace?”  but more accurately, “when did I separate myself from the PRINCE OF PEACE and try to handle or figure out things on my own?”

I’m going to tell you exactly how real grafting works with grape vines.  Both the receiving and grafted vines must be cut, with the grafted piece tailored to fit into the receiving vine.  Both vines have arteries through which their life-giving sap flows. The most crucial issue is that the grafted bloom’s arteries must be perfectly lined up with and in permanent contact with the vine‘s arteries so there is a continual, uninterrupted flow of the sap from vine to graft.   Then they use a compound or tape to keep them bound and packed together so no infection can seep in through separation.

Jesus is the Vine, we are the branches, and I believe that the compound that keeps us bound together is faith in His Word.  Faith allows us to say that we KNOW who we have believed and are persuaded that He is able to keep everything we have ever committed to Him until we arrive in Heaven.  But faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.  The Holy Spirit can quicken and speak to our spirits what the Father wants us to know as we read those God-breathed scriptures. He can direct and guide us into all truth in the midst of any situation, reminding us of the faithfulness and power of our God.

So if we are anxious, it means that we have lost our tight connection with the Vine – the packing has come loose.  When there is a gap, infection can find a way in and make us sick.  Instead of nestling closer to the vine, we start falling away and living apart from the Vine, but apart from Him we can do nothing – nothing but be anxious.

Isaiah 30 says:

15 This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says:

In repentance/returning and rest is your salvation,
    in quietness and trust is your strength,
    but you would have none of it.
16 You said, ‘No, we will flee on horses.’
    Therefore you will flee!
You said, ‘We will ride off on swift horses.’
    Therefore your pursuers will be swift!
17 A thousand will flee
    at the threat of one;
at the threat of five
    you will all flee away,
till you are left
    like a flagstaff on a mountaintop,
    like a banner on a hill.”

You see, our immediate knee-jerk response to danger and fear and anxiety is to flee to our own devices, to what we think will rescue us, NOT to God Himself.   But we must repent of trying to fix things our own way return to Him and quietly wait for Him, which means trusting and resting in Him.  The only true remedy for anxiety is resting in faith in Him, and that only happens when you bolster your faith through the Word of God.

I know that some of you struggle with reading the Word right now because your faith is not as strong as it once was, and the lethargy of your emotional issues has drained you of the energy to even try.  But you must remain in permanent contact with the Vine, and that means being bound to Him through His Word.  You can start small with just a few scriptures a day.  Sign up for a scripture a day service, or you can use my Jesus Text Me service/app.

Every counseling technique is only good if it leads you back to the Source of Peace.  If you are not securely bound to Him, no techniques or medications will cure you.  If you haven’t read my CRAZIFIED & OUT OF CONTROL ebook, or haven’t been using the ABC method, then I suggest you read and start practicing it.  It is what I used to stop the anxiety in its tracks, and what allowed me to return to my Daddy’s lap in quietness and trust.

Fortunately for all of us, Isaiah doesn’t stop there.

18 Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you;
    therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.
For the Lord is a God of justice.
    Blessed are all who wait for him!

The Lord wants to be gracious and compassionate to you.  He wants to fill you with His supernatural  power and with His loving kindness. He doesn’t expect you to do anything to earn it either.  He just wants you to return to Him in trust and wait for Him to take care of all the situations that you can’t fix anyway.

Your sister in Christ,

Penny

 

 

What I Learned This Week: When Your Love Tank Is Empty

You don’t have to be single to have your love tank be empty.  You can even be surrounded by people and have no one ministering to you in a way that makes you feel loved.  An empty love tank is actually the driving force in Codependency, when parents are too broken or busy or simply uninterested to make a child feel safe, secure, loved and important, and the child grows up always on the hunt for that love they never knew.

An empty love tank leads to all sorts of coping mechanisms.  Every addiction is trying to fill a hole inside of them.  Every compulsion is simply a way to feel or think about something other than the emptiness that comes with rejection and abandonment.    It might be food, drugs, sex, shopping, depression, working, zoning out watching Netflix, but the result is always the same. We want to permanently feel loved and secure, but when we are not, we accept the consolation prize of temporarily feeling pleasure, or feeling nothing at all.

Empty love tanks are very common, especially when you are in relationships where others continually expect you to give.  Whether out of duty or pride or fear of being rejected, you keep trying to give – even when you have nothing left to give.  However, we were never meant to be empty, nor to try to give what we don’t have.

God always intended for us to be filled with love, having more than enough to spare that it spills over onto other people generously.  However, He never intended us to try and get that tank filled by other people.  We were designed to have our love tanks filled by Him continually.

The problem is that, once we have been rejected or ignored by parents or significant others, we feel we need someone with flesh on to prove that we are lovable, since others communicated to us that we weren’t.   We are so sold on the idea that if you are not adored by another person, you aren’t worthy to live.  In high school, I told myself that if no one kissed me by the time I was 23, I would commit suicide.   It is that type of mentality that I am talking about.

While I was still married to my first husband, I was so desperate to feel loved by and significant to someone that I got emotionally involved with someone over the internet.  I knew it was wrong, and that God should be all I need, but He wasn’t. That became a pattern throughout my adult life – wanting love, thinking I’d found love, then feeling rejected by a man, and then needing to prove my self-worth by finding another man to stamp his approval on me. Being wanted by a man was all that mattered – without it, I was worthless.

I always wondered why God’s love for me wasn’t enough to make me feel loved.  Intellectually, I knew He loved me and should be enough for me, but honestly, He never was.   It was like having a crush on one boy at school, and feeling ugly and rejected because he didn’t like me.  However, if another boy (that I wasn’t attracted to) liked me, that didn’t matter.  Only if the boy I liked requited my attraction did it matter.

I didn’t think God’s love could ever meet my need because I was always taught that other people had to approve of you and want you.  What God thought about and toward me didn’t matter in this case. It was like your parents telling you that you are beautiful – it just didn’t count unless a boy said it.

Because I believed the lie that “real love” could only come from a boy who chose me over other girls, I was never even interested in feeling loved by God.  He was never even a contender for my affection, not even as an adult.  I was missing out on the One true love who knew me best and would still love and adore me and never leave or forsake me.

Only recently have I come to understand the power of feeling God’s never failing love for me, not as God but as my Father who adores  and is so proud of me.  I have recognized in Jesus the love of a beloved fiancé who is waiting for our wedding day.  I read the words He says to me and realize He is so very much in love with me.  I have allowed the Holy Spirit to wrap His arms around me to comfort me just as a human with flesh would do, and the results have been the same as with another person.

If you have ever had a long distance relationship, you know how a text message, email, letter or voice mail can radically change your day for the better.  Your lover doesn’t have to be physically present with you for you to feel loved and important.  It is just the knowledge of how they feel about you, how special you are to them, that makes you walk on thin air.  We can feel loved and important and chosen from God in the same way without Him being physically present.

An empty love tank spells disaster in anyone’s life. We will do very stupid things to get it filled back up, or we will give up hope and become hopelessly depressed.  Keeping your love tank filled doesn’t have to depend on who is in your life, either, if you will accept what God says about you as letters from a long distance admirer.

Search for scriptures that speak of his undying love for you and read them as if from a long distance lover, which Jesus truly is.  I’m actually in the process of writing a devotional book with 365 scriptural messages from Him. I’ll share with you my favorite from Song of Solomon 4:7 –

You are altogether beautiful, my love;
    there is no flaw in you.

How can you not feel loved when you hear this?

Your sister in Christ,

Penny

What I Learned These Past 2 Weeks: When All Hell Comes Against You

As many of you know, my family has been hit very hard over the past two weeks.  The list of things that has gone wrong physically, mechanically, digitally, ministry-wise, financially and more is too long to post here.  Needless to say, it has truly been 2 weeks from hell, and we’re not out of it yet by a long shot.

Yet in the midst of it is this wonderful peace.  Yes, I may have broken down in uncontrollable sobs at points during it, but it wasn’t the kind of sadness that cuts to your core.  It really wasn’t emotionally painful at all – it was simply a healthy release of pent up frustrations, disappointments and temporary fears.   In other words, for the first time in my life, everything went wonky and scary, but it didn’t HURT me.

You have to understand the importance of this.  I have lived in fear of being in emotional pain for so long, until this year, I even avoided any movies that had anything in the plot line where someone got hurt.  For me to feel sadness and fear and frustration and anger and disappointment and not get lost in it, not be overwhelmed by it, tells me that what God has been showing me about how to be healed is accurate and life changing. And that’s very good news for all of you who are members on this site.

Everything God is showing me, telling me, I am sharing with you.  God is setting up divine appointments between me and other women who are hurting and have pushed themselves to seek help, and as a result, they are experiencing hope and freedom for the first time.  I also know that is why Satan has come against our family in such a strong way, working up to the Depression conference call I did Monday night.

Do you know that the enemy went even as far as having any email in the internet BANNED if it had a link to my web site That cannot be coincidence!  I’ve been working on the internet since 2004 and I have NEVER had this happen to me before on ANY web site I have created or maintained for myself or others.  Only when I told God I would obey and finally have that open teleconference for people with Depression did all of this attempted reign of terror begin.  It even stopped Jesus Text me emails and text from going out!

The thing that was most important during all of this was remembering this:

I have absolutely no control over anything right now –
BUT MY GOD DOES.

Fighting against that truth, trying to figure out ways to fix things that are out of your jurisdiction, wearing your mind out for solutions that are beyond your comprehension all lead to mental, spiritual and physical exhaustion.  But TRUSTING that God is still in charge, that He is faithful to complete the work which He has started, that He will work all things for my good and His glory brings peace and joy and contentment that is unrivaled.

If you are struggling right now, go back to the basics of Step 2 in the 12 Steps of Celebrate Recovery:

  1. Do you truly believe that God exists?
  2. Do you truly believe that He cares for you?
  3. Do you truly believe that He has the power to restore you to sanity and wholeness?

If you said no to any of these, Satan has an door into your life and will terrorize you.  Shut that door tight by being filled by God’s spirit through speaking and singing God’s Word not only to yourself, but more importantly, to others.  That is how we are filled according to Ephesians 5:19.  Don’t isolate, and don’t just read the word alone – speak it out loud so others can hear and be encouraged. Pour out what you receive and you will be re-filled to overflowing.

So what I have learned is that NOTHING can separate us from the love of God in Christ.  There is a peace that passes ALL understanding that awaits us in the middle of trial if we will keep our minds staid on God because we trust in Him.  That ever present peace proves that God never leaves us nor forsakes us.  The only appropriate response to struggles is surrender to God and trust that He is a good, good Father who will protect and take care of us in the end.

In closing, I want to ask a personal favor from you.  My poor husband is suffering the worst of the attack. Please pray for Ronnie – he has been banished to sitting in dark rooms with his eyes covered and ear plugs in his ears because of a mystery illness that has shut him down with horrible headaches that no medicine can cure.  The pastor over our ministry to broken people, the executive director over our recovery house, has been completely sidelined through this attack, and I need you to join with me in binding up the enemy and believing for God’s complete healing for him.  Thank you so very much.

Your sister in Christ,

Penny

 

What I Learned This Week: When The Father Sat Down And Ate Spaghetti With Me

I’ve been in recovery for 6 years now, and therapy throughout my life, and just recently God brought me an answer to a life long conundrum.  Where did my eating disorder really begin?  What makes me afraid of food and ashamed of eating, so much so that I hide it? Why do I feel like I’m not allowed to eat pleasurable foods, and that people are watching and judging me for it because I am overweight?

After all this time, He brought me back to a large plate of spaghetti from my teens that I had totally forgotten about.  He walked me through the memory of being shamed for eating that much spaghetti, “more than a grown man would eat”.  He showed me where the shame started, but He also showed me the fallacy that I learned from that situation – that I SHOULD be ashamed of myself for eating what I eat.

I am bad, I am wrong, I am unacceptable because of my eating (and my weight).  If I want to eat, I have to hide it, do it at night, sneak it to escape the shame of being seen eating by others who will judge me as unacceptable and disgusting.  The only problem is that the shame went with me into the dark places I indulged, like a ball and chain attached to my leg. I had swallowed whole the “truth” that I should be ashamed of myself.  I had no idea that the eating and the food and the secrets were not the source of my shame – what others had said to me was the source of my shame.

In my memory, God the Father entered into the room and sat at the table with me. He asked me why I liked spaghetti.  I said because it was sweet and tasted good and made me feel good.  He said that is why it is called “comfort food”.  Normally, people eat comfort food when something is bothering them.  Is something bothering you?

Yes, I answered.  I’m sure I always felt bothered by something.  Kids at schools had ignored or bullied me, so there was always that.  There were things I just didn’t understand about life or myself.  There were family issues. And then there was simply the feeling that I was different from everyone else and would never fit in.

But God the Father recognized that my eating all that spaghetti simply meant that I was having problems and didn’t know how to deal with them or my emotions.  He didn’t judge me or say there was anything wrong with me or what I was doing. Instead, He dealt with the underlying problem without shaming me about my food or my eating.

He said, let’s finish our spaghetti and go walking outside and talk about what’s bothering you.  You can ask me questions and I’ll help you figure things out.  And that’s just what we did.  His actions and words said there was nothing inexplicably wrong with me, that He understood me, and then offered to help me figure life out.

So many of us were left to our own devices when it came to figuring out life.  No one taught us what to do with our emotions in a healthy way.  No one helped us learn how to maneuver life situations.  Comments like, “Keep on crying and I’ll give you something to cry about!”  Or “Don’t talk to me with that tone of voice!”  Or “If you can’t act right, just go to your room.” teach us what NOT to do, but not WHAT to do.

It’s not because our parents didn’t love us or want to help us.  It’s just that they had no clue what to do.  They just did what their parents did, said what their parents said.  They passed on their parents’ values to us.  They were left to just figure it out for themselves.  So we were just supposed to figure it out for ourselves.

But children and teens don’t have adult brains, and CAN’T figure out healthy solutions to life’s complicated problems unless they stumble upon it accidentally.  So we drank, had sex, did drugs, spent money, or ate large plates of spaghetti to try and feel better. The irony is that we chose coping mechanisms which we either learned from our parents or from kids around us. We did as they did, not as they said.

But God knows why we do what we do and doesn’t judge us or shame us for it.  He knows we still have no clue how to process emotions and hard situations, and that our unhealthy coping mechanisms were most likely passed down to us from our parents.  He is not concerned with our outer appearance (except where it has to do with our health), but with our willingness to let Him come in and undo the effect that we and others have had on our lives. He wants to hear what’s bothering us and teach us what to do and how to process our emotions about it.

Whatever your coping mechanisms are that make you feel ashamed, He is not ashamed of you.  He loves you and wants to re-parent you, teach you what you’ve never learned and love you like you’ve never been loved – unconditionally, no perfection (inward or outward) required.  Then you can learn to love yourself, despite your mess-ups and flaws, and see yourself as He does – as a child who is doing the best they can with what they were given, still fully accepted and adored by their Father.

Your Sister In Christ,

Penny

What I Learned This Week: 15 Minutes with Papa Helps You Sleep

I had been having trouble sleeping – going to sleep and staying asleep.  My mind was on overload at night, trying to figure out things which were completely out of my control, as if brainstorming would suddenly make everything out of God’s timing and His will magically appear.  And then I started listening to a Christian counselor speak on Codependency.

The bottom line was that Codependency is our futile attempt to fill our very empty love tanks by doing more to please others, believing that who we are AS WE ARE is not enough for others to love us, and that includes God.  The only cure for Codependency is to realize that others cannot and will never be able to meet our needs for love, and that only God can.  If we redirected a fraction of the time we spent chasing love and validation from others into spending time simply being in the Father’s presence and letting Him love on us, we would experience a remarkable change in our lives.

Well, never one to back down from a spiritual challenge, I decided to try it – 15 minutes just spent in the Father’s presence before I go to sleep.  One of the things I have started imagining is the Father coming to my bedside to tuck me in, to love on me, to just let me know how happy He is that I am His daughter, and how proud He is of me, just as I am.

You see, a big breakthrough I have had in His presence is finally understanding that He can’t be disappointed in who I am because He made me, knowing full well what my problems would be, and how I would end up. He STILL decided to make me just as I am.  How I turned out is no surprise or disappointment to Him – only an apparent disappointment to me and some others in my life who don’t think I’m what they think I should be.  Simply soaking up unconditional love in His presence and His loving adoration of the person He created and the child He adopted has given me such peace that I am now able to drift away to sleep easily.

Have you ever had a long distance boyfriend?  After you’ve spoken with them on the phone, or had a loving email or text from them, don’t you feel like you are on cloud nine?  They don’t even have to be there with you – just knowing someone loves you as you are makes all the world right and gives you an assurance you always dreamed of.

It’s the same way with our relationship with Papa (I love using that name now after seeing “The Shack”). Just knowing that my Papa loves me just as I am, purposely made me this way, and is on my side, allowing only what is best for me, withholding what is not best for me, I can finally relax.  His timing is best, His provision is best, His direction is best, so I can rest instead of trying to figure everything out, as if it all depended on my provision, direction and timing.

We are so quick to take the world, our future, and even other people’s futures onto our shoulders that we completely forget that we are trapped in time, and nothing God has for us is going to happen faster than God has allowed in our lives.  We are always trying to “figure things out” when what God wants is for us to so implicitly trust in His timing, provision and direction (regardless of what the world would say about that) that we can float through the day knowing our Papa, who owns the cattle on a thousand hills, will provide for whatever He knows we need whenever He knows we need it.

So I encourage you to spend just 15 minutes in His presence every day.  No lights, no sound, no worship music, no bible.  Just His presence and His rhema (spoken to you through the Spirit) words of love, His affirmations of His child and creation.   You don’t have peace because you don’t really believe He will take care of it.  You don’t trust Him to take care of it because you really don’t know how much He loves you, just as you are.

And once you KNOW you are loved just as you are by someone, everyone else’s opinion of you doesn’t matter any more.  I hated looking in the mirror before, but now He has encouraged me to say out loud to myself, “You are beautiful just as you are.  You are wonderful.”  And guess what, I’m coming to believe it, because He said it was true.  You can revolutionize every aspect of your life by just spending 15 minutes with Him alone before you go to bed.  Try it tonight.

Your sister in Christ,

Penny

 

 

What I Learned This Week: Dealing with Self-Hatred That You Didn’t Know Was There

God has been trying to reveal to me exactly how I see myself, and in order to do that, He has to let me fail.  He lets me do things my own way instead of the right way that He has shown me. He never forces me to learn my lesson – He just lets me live with the consequences of my disobedience, or sometimes sheer laziness.

I started out on a journey over 3 years ago to get victory over my eating disorder, which I believe I have.  I don’t binge and purge any more, I am relatively moderate in my eating and exercise. I don’t eat for every emotion I have.

However, I have been losing my victory over weight loss.  I lost 55 pounds at one point over 2.5 years, but I have regained 35 of it.  The problem this time is not eating too much, it is eating the wrong things.  I know full well how to eat – I ate Vegan for 2 years and it worked wonders.

But when my dreams of what my life would be like after losing weight didn’t come to pass, and my life was just the same, I fell back on my self-comforting foods, and the result has been my weight gain.  In other words, I still had the same hurts and debilitating beliefs in my life, and the weight loss didn’t fix those.  Now, God is making me face those horrible thoughts and feelings, bringing me face to face with the realization that I bring those with me wherever I go, at whatever weight I am.  THOSE are the real problems, NOT my weight.

I am dealing with a combination of regret, fear and self-hatred right now.  “Why did I allow myself to get to this place?  What if I cannot break out of this pattern and change myself?  What if I am always this way?  If you could only control yourself, you wouldn’t be this way!” These are the thoughts that plague me today.  I look at myself with disgust and I can feel the self-hatred.

Then I hear God saying, “This is what I wanted you to see – your self-hatred rises up when you don’t like what you look like.  I don’t want there to be a shred of self-hatred in you, regardless of your appearance.  I want you to see why you hate yourself and be healed of that, not hide behind a false reason not to hate yourself.  You know that I don’t judge you on your looks.  I love you because you are my spirit-child, so you are not judging yourself based on my standards.  Whose standards are you judging yourself by?”

I hear in my spirit, “Oh, foolish Galatians, who is it that bewitched you?  Why, when you started with the truth, are you now following after a lie?”  Holy Spirit whispers, “What does the Father say about you?  What do you know to be TRUE? What have we taught you?”

So, deep in my soul still lurk the roots of self-hatred, borne of seeds of judgment sown in my life by others. I swallowed those seeds thrown at me by others, by society and by people I knew personally.  And I have let those roots grow deep in me, and now they are like the roots of California redwoods – massive and seemingly indestructible.

But my Father will not allow those roots to remain. He is determined to rid me of them, but I will have to do the digging to pull them up and destroy them. That means I have to feel when I stumble over one through painful or uncomfortable emotions.  Then I have to dig down to see where it comes from and spend time getting at it and cutting it out.  These roots have been there for decades, they are not coming out quickly, nor necessarily all at one time.  I will have to chip away at them over time.

So in the meanwhile, I’m going to share with you the ways I am fortifying my mind to believe the truth of God so I can continue digging up my roots and pursuing my healing. These are my ABCs for today, and they soothe my soul and help me return to faith in God, that He will complete the work which He has started in me, and that my past does not determine my future.  He loves me, and I am to love myself, not hate myself, and treat myself with loving-kindness and tenderness.  I hope these will help you to love and treat yourself with tenderness as well, while simultaneously transforming you by the renewing of your mind.


I feel like I’ll never conquer my problems because I haven’t succeeded in the past, BUT GOD SAYS that even though Penny hasn’t achieved it yet, Penny is to focus on one thing, forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.  Phil 3:13

I feel so ugly and ashamed of my appearance, BUT GOD SAYS that He does not look at Penny’s outward appearance. He looks at Penny’s heart. 1 Samuel 16:7

I just don’t see myself ever changing, BUT GOD SAYS that He is faithful. He’ll complete the good work that he has begun in Penny. Philippians 1:6

I want to comfort myself with food right now, BUT GOD SAYS Penny’s stomach cannot be her God. (Phil 3:19)

I really want to eat things that are bad for me, BUT GOD SAYS that Penny does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. Matthew 4:4

No matter how much I consume, I still desire more, BUT GOD SAYS that He quiets Penny’s deep inner hunger because Penny is cherished by him. Psalm 17:14

I just can’t seem to get it all right, BUT GOD SAYS that Penny is to continue to work out Penny’s full salvation as God works in Penny according to His good purpose. Philippians 2:12-13

I just want to do something for myself to feel better, regardless of the consequences, BUT GOD SAYS that Penny experiences true life when Penny denies herself, turns from Penny’s selfish ways and follows Jesus. Matthew 16:24-25

Sometimes I speak or act without thinking, BUT GOD SAYS that Penny is not to act thoughtlessly, but try to understand what the Lord wants Penny to do. Ephesians 5:17

I don’t feel loved or lovable, BUT GOD SAYS that He continually pours out his love into Penny’s heart by the Holy Spirit. Romans 5:5

I feel so weak, like I’ll just keep giving in to temptation, BUT GOD SAYS that His power works best in Penny’s weakness. 2 Corinthians 12:9

I don’t know if I’m strong enough to do this, BUT GOD SAYS that God is Penny’s refuge and strength, always with Penny and ready to help Penny in times of trouble. Psalm 46:1

I am so tired and weak right now, BUT GOD SAYS that He gives Penny strength when Penny is weary and increases Penny’s power when Penny is weak. Isaiah 40:29

I can’t see myself having victory in the long run, BUT GOD SAYS that because Penny places Penny’s hope in Him, Penny can soar like an eagle, run and not grow weary, walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31

Your sister in Christ,

Penny

What I Learned This Week: Why You Repeatedly Get USED

Do you ever ask yourself why, when you do such nice things for others, they end up turning on you?  Well, I’m about to explain why. It is called the Karpman Drama Triangle, and it plays itself out in every dysfunctional relationship.  Once you learn it, see if you can count how many times you have been in any of these roles.

It starts out with someone sending out “I’m helpless and needy” signals, like radio waves, looking for someone who needs to help other people in order to feel worthwhile. This person sending the signals is the VICTIM.  The person who receives these signals and feels like they absolutely MUST respond is called the RESCUER.  They tell themselves that this “poor person” cannot help themselves, and out of “Christian love, it is my DUTY to help this person.”

It seems like a perfect match made in heaven – this person needs a place to live and help getting a job, and the RESCUER is just the person to do it for them.  It makes the RESCUER feel so happy and excited. “I’m going to help someone get their life together. This is going to feel soooo good!  God will be so proud of me.”  Even if they don’t let the person live with them, the RESCUER does things for the person that they believe the VICTIM is INCAPABLE of doing for himself/herself.  The VICTIM seems excited to have the RESCUER do all of these things for them.

BUT THEN comes the RESENTMENT and ANGER at the VICTIM the RESCUER has so generously helped, especially when the recipient of the gifts doesn’t start moving in the direction laid out for them.  The RESCUER starts resenting the fact that they have done something they really didn’t want to do for the long haul, that wasn’t their responsibility in the first place, and which has caused them to neglect their own needs in the meanwhile.   To make things worse, the “poor person” they were helping isn’t even grateful.  To the VICTIM, the RESCUER giving and VICTIM receiving is exactly how things are supposed to be.

The RESCUER’s feelings of compassion that made the RESCUER feel so noble are now gone, and are replaced by random outbursts of misdirected anger toward others around them. The RESCUER tries to hide the irritated feelings and still act saint-like, but eventually it comes out, and the VICTIM senses the shift of attitude. The RESCUER starts complaining to other people about the VICTIM to justify the outrage they feel.  The RESCUER now becomes the PERSECUTOR/CONTROLLER.

The VICTIM has seen this process happen before, because this is not the first RESCUER they have captured and manipulated.  He knows when his RESCUER starts losing compassion and good will and is becoming the PERSECUTOR/CONTROLLER.   As resentment rises toward the VICTIM, the VICTIM’s pride and indignation rise up before the RESCUER can discard them from their life.  The VICTIM turns on the RESCUER and becomes the PERSECUTOR/CONTROLLER.   “Who are you to tell me what to do?  You don’t have it all together. And you call yourself a Christian…”

No matter how incompetent a VICTIM appears to be, they resent being told that they are. Their resentment toward their RESCUER mounts, especially if the RESCUER becomes angry with them.  They lash out by having affairs with their spouses, stealing from them, wrecking their car, trashing their house, and abusing the RESCUER’s good reputation.  Does this sound familiar to you?

So the noble RESCUER becomes the VICTIM again, as this is not the RESCUER’s first rodeo either.   “Why has someone again trampled underfoot all of my good, Christian, self-sacrificing efforts?”  They feel helpless, hurt, ashamed, confused, and soaked in self-pity.  They have completed the cycle of the Drama Triangle, moving from RESCUER to PERSECUTOR/CONTROLLER to VICTIM.  And then they start all over again when they sense another Victim’s neediness signals in the airwaves.

If this is you, you don’t have to continue this very unhealthy cycle.  It is a pattern that stems from Codependency (a life pattern that is completely outwardly focused on others’ needs), and it started in your childhood.  If you want help breaking the pattern, then contact me about one-on-one counseling, or let me know if you would like to be in one of my Codependency small groups starting this fall.   You can be free of the drama!

Your sister in Christ,

Penny

 

What I Learned This Week: Why We Don’t Want To Ask For Help

This was a tough week. I had to visit someone in jail who I love like a daughter.  I knew she had been struggling, and had attempted to contact her several times to talk with her, but she wouldn’t respond.  We had talked once on a prior occasion, and she said something to me that I had heard several of my other ladies give as a reason not to meet with me.  She already knew what I would say.

Why, when we know we need help and are careening dangerously out of control, will we not ask for and pursue help?  Why will we stay on the destructive path we have chosen, whether by going full steam ahead into danger or just taking our hands off the wheel in resignation?  The answer is very simple.  Because we want to keep doing what we are doing.

I had another discussion in our Step Study group about how people always do what they WANT to do, NOT what they SAY they want to do.   If you want to know what a person WANTS to do, then watch what they ACTUALLY do.  Ignore their words.

I want to quit smoking.

I want to lose weight.

I want to stop doing drugs and alcohol.

I want to stop having sex outside of marriage.

I want to stop lying.

I want to stop stealing.

No, you don’t.  If you did, you would actually be working on it. But there is always something else more important, something else you would rather do.

You see, no one has put a gun to your head to stop you from doing those things. Conversely, you do those things because you want to do them, even think you need to do them.  Therefore, no matter what you might say, your actions reveal your true heart about the situation.

I have been paying attention to my “urges” to eat things when I am not hungry, or when I am suddenly stressed.  Why do I sometimes have perfect self-control and at other times, none at all? Because sometimes I really want something (to be healthier or thinner), and sometimes I want something else more (a container of tapioca or a bowl of Cap’n Crunch). Sometimes I really do want to be self-controlled and lose weight so my knees don’t hurt and my clothes fit better, and sometimes I just have this feeling that I will jump out of my skin if I don’t fulfill my perceived need to have some sugar.  I want the sugar more.

The truth of the situation is that our coping mechanisms have been this way for so long, we are terrified of giving up the things that we tell ourselves bring us relief from our stress and uncomfortable situations.  We absolutely cannot believe that there is another, more satisfying and enduring solution to our negative feelings.  Therefore, we cling to them when the going gets tough.

So when I talk to people who talk about wanting to be happy, or self-controlled, or anything else they are not at present, I look at their actions. If they are going to church, going to recovery meetings, coming for counseling, doing their counseling homework, then I KNOW that they really want to be healed.  The rest just want to continue finding reasons why they don’t need to pursue help for their healing, because they don’t want to give up their coping mechanisms that make them feel better.

Now, let me clarify something.  There is absolutely NO CONDEMNATION if you are not pursuing your healing.    It is easier to stay where you are, feeling hopeless about your situation, than to do the hard work of trying something new and moving into the uncomfortable unknown. But I need to be absolutely clear on this point:  until you want your healing more than you want the miserable comfort of where you are, things will never change. It will not be anyone else’s fault, either – you cannot blame the people or situation around you, or from the past, because they are not causing this.  You are.

But I am here to tell you that there ABSOLUTELY IS another way, more satisfying and enduring, than the destructive cycle in which you find yourself. I don’t do it perfectly, but I’m 1000% more free than I’ve ever been.  I’ve watched ladies I’ve counseled walk away from horribly abusive situations and not look back, changed forever NOT to respond, but to CHOOSE the life they want and need. You can have this, too.

If you want to start, then contact me for a short consultation call. There is absolutely NOTHING in your life that cannot be healed by the power of God’s Holy Spirit. He can reveal the truth to you AND empower you to walk through whatever He asks you to do. Beyond where you are is FREEDOM, peace, joy and righteousness.  Don’t wait another second to break free from what is holding you back. Instead, as one of my mothers in the Lord always says, “Go after your healing like a dog after raw meat!”

Your sister in Christ,

Penny