What I Learned This Week: There’s My Timeline, And Then There’s God’s

Many of us do this. We tell God what our plans are, and then ask Him to rubber stamp them for approval.  But that is not how God works.  He is not supposed to be our co-pilot, He is supposed to be our pilot.  We are not supposed to make our plans and ask God to fit into them, we are to ask God what His plans are and ask Him to show us how He wants us to fit into them.

I do this repeatedly, make my own agenda, set up my own timeline, and then stress myself out when I can’t meet my timeline.  Now, you have to understand, God hasn’t told me I have to do it this way, it is just a left over self-sufficiency habit.   The worst part is that I can hear God quietly telling me, “That’s not on my agenda for you today.”

However, I just keep doing it because… well, just because.  But He is making it clear that by ignoring Him and doing things my way, I am causing myself sleepless nights and stress that keep me exhausted.   He didn’t intend me to live like this; He intended me to listen and obey, leaving all of the heavy lifting and big time responsibilities to my Father.  He intended me to live in righteousness, joy and peace in the Holy Ghost, not disobedience, struggle and stress.  So why do I continue this way?

Because I’m stubborn and headstrong and prideful and sometimes very lazy.  The bottom line is that I keep doing what I have planned because THAT is what I really want to do (it’s more fun or entertaining or enjoyable). What God wants me to do isn’t nearly as important to me as enjoying myself or accomplishing a task.  This is really gut wrenching for me to see in myself.

He said to me something that I am ashamed to repeat, but I’ll do it because I’m trusting that it will also speak to someone else reading this.   He said, “Is what you are doing more important than that person I have put on your heart to counsel?  My agenda will prepare you for counseling a very traumatized person right now, and many more like them later.  Why will you not yield your agenda to Mine?”   And you know what, I didn’t.  I kept doing the tasks to complete my agenda instead of doing what He said.  And I’m very ashamed of that.

Stress happens when we push God out of the throne and decide to take up residence there.  We think we know best, or maybe we are just selfish and want to do our own thing.  But we cannot and will not accomplish anything of any significance without God’s direction and power.  I truly feel that I have wasted so much time building sandcastles when God wanted me to do battle with the enemy and help rescue a wounded fellow soldier.

So today, I surrender – again.  It is a continual, moment by moment, day by day re-commitment to God. No more doing those other tasks unless it is God’s will and not mine. Busy-ness so easily gets in the way of obedience.  What is best gets left behind for what is merely good.  I repent for putting myself and my desires first, and am making a u-turn back to my Father.

It is not enough to have good intentions, because obedience is always better than sacrifice (1 Sam 15:22).  I want to have my mind transformed so I truly know and follow God’s good and perfect and pleasing will (Romans 12:2), and just as importantly, have the supernatural power to accomplish what is His will for me (Phil 2:13).

Your sister in Christ,

Penny

 

What I Learned This Week: God Can Do The Impossible!

Starting out on a new journey in unknown territory can either be invigorating for some or terrifying and paralyzing for others.  I fall more into the latter category.  “Unknown = possibility of failure” in my eyes, or at the very least, being uncomfortable (which is what most of us avoid like the plague).

Starting this new phase of my ministry, where everything depends on me from a worldly standpoint, can really stress me out.  I feel that underlying current of “what ifs”, not loudly screaming but whispered by the voice of my fears.  The big one that I know is plaguing me is “what if I can’t find enough counselees and members to support myself and our ministries?”

If I am to move into doing this full time so I can also work toward creating the Homeless community which God has called me to build (Koinonia Communities), and also counsel more at Good Shepherd Recovery House (our Men’s Recovery House) and other future women’s recovery houses, then God has to provide the income.  Neither my husband nor I have ever taken any money for pastoring our church, Ministry House, so when I eventually leave a corporate position, we will be living solely by faith. That is admittedly somewhat scary.

But then God reminds me of His enduring faithfulness to me and others I know.  When I needed the money to take my courses to get my Pastoral Counseling License, I had no idea where that money would come from.  Then I did my taxes, and for the first time in our lives, we had a $6,000 refund from all of the money we had to spend fixing up some rental houses we have.  Counseling classes were covered, with a little extra to spare toward a used car WITH air conditioning (still haven’t gotten to that yet).

A friend of mine shared that she was in a deep, dark place, crying out to God, and all of a sudden she heard my voice.  Her phone somehow started playing a voice message from me.  She called me and we talked.  She had no clue I had started counseling, and that I now had the tools to help her through her crises.  God supernaturally answered her prayer through an otherwise impossible means.

I asked people who use my Jesus Text Me service and app how they found it.  One man told me he was really hurting and didn’t know where to turn.  He said that God told him to google the words “Jesus Text Me”, and he found the app.  That proves that God can move directly in other people to lead them where they need to go, and at the same time, bring people to you.

Another friend needed a down payment for a house but didn’t have the money.  Then she checked out grants for down payments and received the entire amount. Once again, God provided in an unexpected way.

So I want to encourage you today to remember – if God calls you to it, He will make a way for it to happen.  If it is God’s will, no man can stand in your way or shut a door through which you need to walk.   If God is for you, who can stand against you?  It is God who is working in and around you to accomplish HIS will and purpose for your life, so it is not all up to you. It may be impossible for man, but nothing is impossible for God!  Do what He instructs in the way He leads, and He will do what you cannot do for yourself.

Phil 2:12-13

12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

Matthew 19:26

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Romans 8:8-39

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[i] have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;
    we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”[j]

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Your sister in Christ,

Penny

What I Learned This Week: Having The Wisdom To Know The Difference

God, grant me
The serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.
Reinhold Niebuhr

In my counseling, sometimes people misunderstand what the difference is between their temperament, their character and their personality.  They try in vain to change their needs, thinking there is something wrong with them.  But you can’t change your temperament needs any more than you can change the fact that you need air to breathe.

A people person will never be happy doing tasks and vice versa. An introvert will never be happy acting like an extrovert.  Someone who needs alone time to think and regenerate will never be regenerated by staying around people all of the time.

However, when I teach people about their temperament, sometimes they think, “Well, I just am how I am and nothing will change that.”  However, that is not the truth, and I want to clarify that here.  You are more than your Temperament – you are also your character (learned behavior) and your personality (your mask).  Those things you CAN change.

Your Temperament is the biological needs that God put into your soul. These needs will never change.  They are just as real as your need to breathe, eat and sleep.  When you were a baby, you had these needs, before you had a chance to learn any behavior from anyone else.  Some babies cry the second their diaper is wet, others are serene and complacent with a soggy one. Some can sleep through a war movie, while others cry at any loud noise.  The same is true of your temperament needs.

Your Temperament has been defined as the raw materials with which God has made you.  It is how He uniquely designed you so you could complete your specific mission in the Kingdom of God.  There is nothing WRONG with your temperament, no matter what it is.  Some temperaments may present more challenges than others, some may have some internal conflicts, but God doesn’t make any mistakes.   He gave you EXACTLY what you needed to fulfill His calling on your life.  This design, and their inherent needs, will not be changed by anyone.

So you come out of the womb with these Temperament needs.  Then LIFE HAPPENS.  There are endless variables among the effects of care givers and physical environments, decisions made by strangers as well as family members, as well as other biological factors that affect your circumstances.

Maybe you are born to someone with a genetic predisposition to diabetes or addiction which affects you physically.  Maybe you lose a parent before you are old enough to know them, which changes how you are raised and by whom. Maybe one parent gets a new job and moves you and your family to somewhere far from your extended family, and the stress of that move causes marital problems between your parents, which in turn causes you stress.

From the moment you are born, you are reacting to your environment, your relationships and your biology.  You try different tactics to navigate life, protect yourself and meet your temperament needs.  You create LEARNED BEHAVIORS along the way, and THESE are the things you can change.

Even if your temperament makes you feel uncomfortable around large groups of people, you CAN learn to ADJUST your BEHAVIOR so it doesn’t drain you as much.  You can’t live in a hole in the ground, you have to socialize to some degree or another in order to make a living and live in this world. Not to mention, as a Christian, you are called to have contact with others in order to share Christ’s love, either with the unsaved so that they may be saved or with believers to encourage them.

What is the solution to doing things that are contrary to your Temperament? Learning behaviors that keep your Temperament needs met in a godly and balanced way on a continual basis. In this particular case, you can schedule yourself beforehand to spend an adequate amount of time alone to regenerate yourself.  Then you can socialize, or do whatever is outside of your temperament, for a short while without becoming drained, which leads to negative thinking and possibly inappropriate actions.

Your character is the sum of your Temperament PLUS your Learned Behavior.  Your Personality is the mask you wear to get your Temperament needs met.  If you want to be alone and someone is pestering you, you may decide to become sarcastic to make them go away.  If you need lots of people to like you, you may become the life of the party, the clown or the entertainer.  If you need control over people to get tasks completed, you may become a chameleon, changing into whoever you need to be to motivate others to help you accomplish your goals.  Whatever your Temperament need is, you will find a way to act to get those needs met.  Your Personality is another area that you CAN change.

So as you learn about your Temperament, remember that it is only the foundation of who you are.  You still have a layer of Learned Behavior stacked upon it, with the mask of your Personality topping it off.  If you are to fulfill God’s call on your life, and live a life filled with joy, peace and righteousness, you will have to learn to meet your Temperament needs in balanced and godly ways.

You will need to have the serenity to accept the Temperament that God gave you, but also the courage to change your Learned Behavior and Personality so that can keep your Temperament needs met.   Understanding this is the wisdom you need to de-stress your life and fulfill your purpose.

Your sister in Christ,

Penny

What I Learned This Week – The Point Of Purposely Associating Negative Memories

Now, the ministry to which I am called is all about healing, and that includes healing painful and damaging memories.  But sometimes, instead of replacing negative memories with positive memories, we need to replace positive memories with negative memories.   I’m going to talk about this in conjunction with the lesson I shared last week about why we can’t let go, because one of the reasons people don’t let go is because we don’t want to let go.

When I was a young wife with 2 small children and a deteriorating marriage, I disappeared into fantasy world.  I didn’t want to go to bed with my husband at night, so I stayed up watching cable for fodder for my fantasy world.  I would pick a show, pick a character, and then create my own episode where I was involved, and one of the guys was in love with me. I was meticulous with the detail, and since my temperament thinks in terms of pictures and can live off of vivid images, I could create something that appeared extremely real to me.  It afforded me the only feelings of love and significance that I could extract from my current situation.

I purposely thought about those episodes because of the FEELINGS they created in me.  It was real enough for me to live off of.  They made me happy.  Like a drug addict takes a hit from a substance and gets high, I would replay these fake “memories” to get emotionally high.   I CHOSE to replay these memories to feel good.

Now I know so many women who cannot let go of previous relationships for this same reason – they replay the good memories in order to experience an emotional high.  “It was so good back then.  I felt loved in a way I had never been loved before.”  And when they think of their ex, they associate those memories with him, which keeps them connected to him.

There’s just one huge problem with that – that’s obviously NOT how they continued to act.  There were other problems that caused you to not be together, either things they did that you could not live with, or they no longer wanted you.  In either case, the truth of the relationship was that the “good times”  no longer existed by the end of the relationship.

There was a reason that the relationship ended, but you don’t want to accept that.  You just want that good feeling back.  If you are still ticked off at your ex, it is because you believe he is wrongly withholding from you the love and affection he originally offered.  It is like he stole something from you, did a bait and switch, and you just can’t rest until you get your property back.

When I was a newlywed, my husband let me drive his Trans Am to work one day.  I went into work in the morning and came out in the evening to find the car gone.  Little did I know there was a Trans Am chop shop right behind the lawyer’s office where I worked.  The police found the car completely stripped a little ways away, but it was a humpty dumpy situation – no one could put that car back together.  That white and gold Trans Am was gone forever.  It didn’t matter how much we remembered how great it was to ride in it – it was gone. It was a sad loss, but we had to move on and get another vehicle.

Sometimes robberies occur and you never get your property back.  You feel angry, violated, vulnerable, but that doesn’t change the fact that you will never see that jewelry, cash, tv set or car ever again.  Remaining angry about it and demanding that it be returned to you won’t ever change the situation.  The same goes for relationships.  Demanding you get something you can never have leaves you miserable, angry, frustrated and, to tell the truth, quite useless because of your obsession.

So if you are still wanting your ex to give you the love he withdrew from you, you are stuck in a pit of your own digging.  They are either unwilling or incapable of giving that love to you.  Fantasizing about the good times is destroying your life, because it is most likely never going to happen again.

To be healed and move on to find a healthy and satisfying relationship, you need to disconnect those short-lived, love-filled memories you associate with that person and replace them with the long-term memories of the BAD part of the relationship.   When you think of the person, you need to speak the truth and SEE them as they are, replay the memories of them ignoring you, or treating you badly.  Get rid of the fantasy version of the relationship, and be real about who that person is NOW.

Were you getting anything from that relationship by the end, or was it one-sided?  Were they giving sacrificially to you, or were they just there for the ride as long as things were good?   Take a good look at who they are now, their character, their inability to love you as you need to be loved – either because they truly cannot love in the way you need, or because they simply no longer love you.

When I was betrayed by a man I loved very much, in order to get over him, I had to keep repeating to myself, “He does not love you.  Why do you want a man who does not love you?”  I had to keep that up for months, until it finally sunk in.  Why did I want someone who no longer cared for me, but instead moved on to another woman?  What kind of man is that?  I was not going to get those good feelings back, they were gone forever, so I had to move on. And because I let go, God brought me my current husband of 17 years.

So purposely change the memories you associate with this person.  Make the thought of him so distasteful that it makes you feel grateful for being free from them.  It is not a falsehood – you are replaying truthful memories of how he really was.  Do it every time you think of him.  It is the only way to finally be free and move on to a healthy life and into healthy relationships.

If you need help working on these memories, then let me know.  You can set up appointments by logging in and clicking on the Make An Appointment link under Contact & Counseling.  Or  go into the Forums and let’s talk about it on the Relationship Recovery forum on the I can’t stop thinking or caring about him thread.  You can be free of this – let’s work on it together.

Your sister in Christ,

Penny

What I Learned This Week: Why You Can’t Let Go Of Certain People

If there are certain people who you know are not healthy for you, but you cannot walk away from them, they have something that you think you need and won’t be able to get anywhere else.

Over and over again, I meet with counseling clients who remain in unhealthy, even abusive, situations, and don’t really know why they can’t walk away.  Since they don’t know, they have actually made up reasons in their heads, rationalized why they must  stay with this person.  But the bottom line truth is that you have come to believe the lie that this person has something to offer you which you cannot live without, despite the hell you have to live through in order to enjoy an hour or two of happiness with them.

The most prevalent issue that I repeatedly hear is “when things are good, I feel loved in a way that I’ve never felt before, and it’s better than I’ve ever known.”  When I ask how often they get to experience that heady loved feeling, the answer is invariably for a very limited time.  The bad and hurtful behavior long outlasts the good and loving behavior, but the possibility of experiencing this type of “love” keeps you attached to someone who is incapable of maintaining this “love” for any length of time.

When I ask how they feel about leaving this person, I see panic rise up, which is a sign that the counselee is stricken with fear at the thought of losing this “love”, as if they might die inside without it.  This is mainly due to one of three reasons:

  • They NEED this love because it PROVES that they are LOVABLE. They believe they have not been loved and fear that they are innately unlovable, and that if they lose this person, no one will ever love them again. There is a very good chance that their “loved one” has even used this knowledge about them against them, attempting to manipulate them by telling them that no one else would ever want them the way they are.
  • They NEED this love because it provides a natural HIGH that they believe they cannot live without.  It is like a hit on a drug that makes you euphoric; you are addicted to it, and don’t want to go through the withdrawal pains that will happen if you disconnect from the supplier.  This is extremely true of people with addictive tendencies, and especially dry substance abusers.  The dull routine of mundane, every day life is too boring for them, and since they are used to manufacturing a high on demand by using substances, this boredom is basically intolerable to them.  They “need” this “hit” of “love”.
  • They NEED this relationship (not necessarily this “love”) because they have an unresolved emotional memory inside of them. They have arranged this relationship situation just as it is so they can bring up and repeatedly feel this unresolved emotion over and over again. They spend most of their time submerging this emotion, but really need to feel it again.  That is why you sometimes have the urge to listen to sad music or watch a sad movie that you know will make you cry (if the submerged feeling is sadness).  If the feeling is anger, then you will create a situation where you can express your rage over and over again.  If it is fear or helplessness, you will arrange a situation where you are afraid or feel like a victim, so you will allow that emotion to rise to the surface so you can feel it again.

If I ask people what they “need” from this person, they normally say “I don’t know”, and if the truth was told, they don’t really want to know.  That is because, if they know, they won’t get to keep re-living this situation of their own choosing.  It will all stop, and they will have to face issues they have been avoiding.   They are torn, because intellectually they know this is bad for them, but emotionally, it is like they are under hypnosis and cannot change their behavior to save their life (literally, in some cases).  You absolutely cannot think your way out of an emotional problem.

All three of these examples come back to the same thing – an unresolved emotion connected to a memory.  The only way to get free from it is to go back and resolve the emotion stuck to the memory.  Once that happens, your urgent and panicked “need” subsides, and you are free to make rational and spiritual choices for yourself.

You can do this two ways – log in and either go through the Life Patterns course on the membership site, or contact me for a one-on-one session.   You don’t have to live in limbo, or be stuck in a pattern from which you want to be free.  And you WON’T be miserable without this thing you believe you “need” – instead, there will be joy, peace and righteousness in your life.

Your sister in Christ,

Penny

 

 

 

What I Learned This Week: Memories Don’t Have To Hurt

One of the coolest things I have learned through my Life Patterns Certification classes is the realization that we don’t have to keep any of our old memories, especially the painful ones.  They do us absolutely no good, and as a matter of fact, many of them keep us in destructive cycles from which we wish we could be free.  Habits and repeated cycles are kept in place by unresolved emotions, and those emotions are trapped in memories we have.

As long as the memory and the emotion remain, whenever we feel a similar emotion, we will time travel back to that event and respond as if we were still that age in that situation. We overreact in the present and don’t know why. We cannot seem to be able to figure out how to problem solve our current issues and we don’t know why.  It is all because of a memory, and here’s the kicker – the memory may not even be completely accurate!

Did you know that eye witnesses to events are only 25% accurate in what they remember?  So we cannot trust what we remember as if it is the gospel truth. In addition, we only remember things from the vantage point of however old we were when the event happened, and if it happened when we were young, then our understanding may not be accurate.  Even if it happened to us as adults, we still may not have completely understood what happened and why, ascribing meanings that don’t apply.

I had an elementary school incident that I carried with me for decades that in my memory was a moment of horrible persecution by another girl during one of my first dodgeball games.  She yelled, “Get the girl in the overalls!”  But when I invited Jesus back into the memory with me, he walked me over to the side view of the event and let me see that what I had perceived in reality was not a personal attack on me – it was just how you play the game. You pick someone you think won’t be able to catch or avoid the ball and try to get them out.  He showed me that my 12 year old self had read the event wrong, but I had carried extreme fear and hatred for this girl for decades because of how I viewed what happened to me.  Once I saw the event for what it was and could resolve my lifelong question of why she had picked me out and had been so mean to me, the memory and the associated emotion went away.

So why keep a memory, especially when it may not have been accurate?  And even if it was accurate, you know the event happened – why keep the painful emotions connected with the memory and the memory itself alive? What purpose do they serve, except if you are trapped in unforgiveness and anger and want to keep the memory so you can retain that anger? (You can read about that in my upcoming course on Forgiveness.)

People might say, “I have to keep the memory as it is because it is really what happened to me.  It is the truth.”   But this is my response to them.  What if you had an accident that caused you to have surgery, and it left a big scar as well as pain from nerve damage.  The doctor comes up to you and tells you, “We can remove the scar and get rid of the pain, so you won’t have any reminders of the surgery.”

Would you say, “No, I have to keep the scar and the pain because the surgery really did happen, and I need to keep them as proof”?  No, you would let the doctor remove the scar and eliminate the pain.  It is the exact same way with painful memories. We are not pretending the event never happened, but we are removing the effects of the event so they no longer control you in the present or the future.

I have learned first hand how changing unhealthy and damaging memories can set you free from them.  Once I learned the secret to doing it, I have been systematically resolving all of the events from my past.  I cannot change what historically happened, but I can stop the memories from hurting me in the present and causing me to overreact or act uncontrollably.  The most important and powerful result has been how it has changed my underlying feelings toward people in my life – the underlying hurt and resentment that has separated me from them is slowly dissolving away.

I have also been doing this for my clients as well.  We are resolving past painful issues that were never resolved so they can be removed from the mix when we are dealing with problems in the present.  We can’t move forward when we are stuck in the past. It is like a string tied to our ankle and a post – it keeps up going in endless circles, and we don’t understand we have the power to cut the string and be free!

  • So if you want to be free from these damaging memories and the unresolved emotions, contact me.
  • If you are making bad decisions over and over again, if you seem to pick the same men and get into unhealthy relationships, we can find the memory that is driving your decisions.
  • If you overreact in every day situations, that is also connected to a prior event to which you are connected by that string.

I can teach you how to cut this string – and every other string that binds you.  You can be free!

So make a healthy decision.  Decide to cut off all the hindrances that keep you from experiencing peace and contentment and from living righteously.  Resolve those emotions by changing those memories.

Your sister in Christ,

Penny

What I Learned This Week: Lessons from a Volley Ball!

The reason I can be so excited and passionate about all that I am learning and sharing with you is because I am experiencing amazing and powerful deliverance in my own life over and over again.  The past two Monday nights in my Life Patterns Certification classes, I have had “aha” moments led by Dr. Mauldin which have directly resulted in me experiencing freedom from ancient hurtful memories and lie-based behavior which have affected how I see everything and what I will and will not attempt.

In addition, it appears that my lapses in control over eating appear to be gone.  I’m not hungry or reaching for food. I am aware of why I was eating and now can make the conscious decision to face my fears of success and the unknown without trying to hide myself behind my weight.  I now know what I was trying to accomplish with keeping the weight, and how infantile and untrue the belief was that it could somehow protect me.  So if the temptation arises, I just remind myself of the truth as opposed to the lie, and the urgent emotional desire to eat disappears.  (It doesn’t mean that I’m not tempted to eat something that is yummy just for the taste of it, but it is not motivated by fear, anxiety, stress or distraction.)

Let me share what I discovered in regard to why I was eating.  It was my fall back excuse for myself in case of failure. If I failed, I believed I could blame it on the fact that I was overweight, that people would be put off by it and not work with me, so that was why the business failed. I understand now that this is ludicrous, but I have used it as an excuse for all of the reasons why I have failed or never even tried in some areas, or why people didn’t like me.  The real truth is simply that I feared failure because it would make me feel worthless due to the fact that I have still been tying my worth to my accomplishments.  Now, that the lie has been uncovered, when I think about eating, I immediately remind myself that my weight will never be a good excuse for my failures.

This one revelation caused me to problem solve the real issue – facing my fears of failure. I can’t stop trying because I might fail. What is the worst thing that could happen?  I would be embarrassed about the failure.  But more importantly, how can I use failure to my advantage?  I can learn from it and either try again in a different, better informed way, or accept that God has not ordained me to do what I am trying to do, at least not in this season.  In either case, failure doesn’t have to define me. You can never succeed if you are not willing to fail, and failure will not kill me – it will instruct me for my future and reveal what God’s perfect will is for me at this moment.

God used a volley ball to push his point across.  When I was in elementary school, I was terrified of the volley ball in gym. I was afraid of getting hit. It would hurt. So I just stayed away from it.  But somewhere as an adult, I lost that fear and decided to be aggressive toward the ball and get it before it got me. God said to treat my fear of failure like the volley ball – get aggressive and go after it and do every single thing I am afraid of failing at.  It is like being paralyzed with fear that there is something hiding in your closet waiting to spring out at you, and you pushing yourself to get up and look in the closet to confirm nothing is there. So that is what I did!

I made a list of every single thing I have been afraid to do, and ignoring my temperament weakness of fear of doing the unknown and things I haven’t mastered, I put them out there. I tried.  I had a great response in one area and not much of a response in another, but I DID IT!  And I’ll take whatever happens as God’s direction, or if He leads, I’ll use what I learn to try again in another way.  Learning how to deal with failure and use it as a way to become better at what I do, as well as using it to test whether or not I have heard from God is the best lesson I could ever learn!

So I encourage you to face what you fear, charge after it aggressively.  Pray and ask the Lord where He wants you to move first, and then remind yourself that failure is only God’s way of teaching us what we need to know to succeed.  Every single multimillionaire has suffered bankruptcy, normally multiple times. Many great celebrities have failed into success.  Use failure to your advantage and go after what God is calling you to do!

Your sister in Christ,

Penny

What I Learned This Week: 5 Steps To Successful Recovery

I was counseling with the men at our Good Shepherd Recovery House this week, and from the conversations we had, God had me write up and post on the wall there the most important things to remember while moving through your recovery process.  If you will practice these things every day (and you are definitely capable of doing every step every day), then you will succeed.

  1. COMFORTABLE is the ENEMY of RECOVERY Comfortable means you are continuing to do things as you always have, and that is most likely unhealthy. Comfortable means you are on auto-pilot, responding with learned behavior from past events instead of turning on your brain and problem solving the issues that are actually in front of you.  Strive for UNCOMFORTABLE, because it means you are doing something different, something new, and hopefully something healthy for a change.   If you can convince yourself that UNCOMFORTABLE equals GROWTH and HEALTH and is a good thing, then you will continue through the process until you have victory in your area of struggle.
  2. REDUCING STRESS in your BODY is KEY When your stress level is spiking (or is too low), your brain turns off.  You lose your ability to problem solve, and will immediately fall back on knee-jerk reactions, responding to previous events instead of the current event.  Learn to breathe when you sense stress coming on – 8 deep breaths through your nose to decompress your body, get out of fight, flight or freeze mode, and be able to think through the situation at hand. If you practice this even when you are not stressed out, it will produce a cumulative effect and keep you calmer all the time.
  3. You don’t have to be ANYONE but YOURSELF God made you with unique strengths, weaknesses and needs so that you could fulfill His purpose for your life and bring His Kingdom to pass here on earth.  There is nothing wrong with how God made you, so there is nothing wrong with who you are, regardless of how other people have expected you to act.  You simply need to acknowledge your God-instilled strengths and weaknesses, learn to work with them, and meet your needs in a godly and balanced way.
  4. Believe God exists, He loves you unconditionally, and He has the power to help you recover.  God truly is here with you.  God truly loves you just as He created you to be. God has promised that HE will complete the work that HE started in you to accomplish HIS purposes.  He is using the same miraculous power He used to raise Jesus from the dead.  No matter what your circumstances, no matter how you feel, God is powerful enough to change you, and yes, He WANTS to change you, and WILL change you – if you surrender to His leading.
  5. Push yourself to meet the needs of whoever God puts in your path every day. God made you specifically how you are for a good reason – He needs you to accomplish the purpose for which you were created.  But He also expects you to expend the energy to push yourself beyond your natural design to meet the needs of others. He doesn’t ask you to change who you are, or to remain outside the boundaries of how He made you permanently – just spend enough time to meet the needs of those He has placed around you.  Maybe you aren’t naturally affectionate, but someone around you needs a hug – move beyond yourself to meet their need. Maybe you like to be alone, but someone else needs company – move beyond yourself to meet their need. Giving of yourself for the benefit of someone else is called LOVE. So give of yourself for others in the same way you would like others to give of themselves to meet your needs.

As I said, you can do each and every one of these things. You don’t have to do it all perfectly – you just have to apply these steps, and you will find the joy, peace and righteousness for which you are striving.

Your sister in Christ,

Penny

What I Learned This Week: There Are Different Levels of Healing

You know when you learn a lesson from the Lord, you receive a healing in a certain area, and you think to yourself, “Yes!  I’m ready to move forward now!”  And you are ready, and you do move forward into new areas with increased freedom.  And then, God shows you that you need more healing in that area, that what He did went only as deep as I could handle it at that time, but that another round of surgery and aftercare is required.

That’s what He did with me this week, although He had been leading me up to this point slowly with little hints dropped here and there.  Maybe they were big hints, but I just didn’t want to pay attention to them.  In any case, He has finally been able to get through to me that this is important and it needs my attention. It has been holding me back and is my oldest hurt.  I still, at my core, have questions about my being “lovable”.

Now, I don’t sit around moping that I am not loved, because I know that there are people who love me to the greatest extent to which they are capable.  I feel very confident of myself, I am not too hard on myself anymore, I am aware of my victories and most of my struggles. However, I am really double-minded on this point, because without warning, someone will say or do something negative toward me and it cuts me like a very sharp knife, sinking deep into me before I even realize the incision has been made.  I am trying to get to the point where other people’s treatment of me doesn’t result in me questioning if I am sufficient or normal or likable – if anyone will ever accept and truly love me like I am.   I know that I can be annoying and have my flaws and faults, and that others may not always like how I act, but why does that make me feel sad and hurt?

The more I learn about Temperament Therapy and Life Patterns, the more I recognize that the way we see things is either filtered through our temperament strengths and weaknesses or through the attitudes we created with our Life Patterns.  Different temperaments understand and react to the world in different ways, and my particular temperament tends to see rejection everywhere. I have to constantly disregard my initial assumption that people don’t or won’t like me in order to push myself forward into relationships (or into the public arena) confidently. I tell myself it is just a brain glitch, because honestly, although I am not perfect, most people do like me when they get to know me.

That means that my world view is skewed and untrustworthy.  My perception of how people view and receive me doesn’t always match reality, and that means I must adjust to reality, not stay limited and confined to my perception.  When people act like they like and appreciate me, I can  believe myself when I say, “Penny, people like you!  Just ignore that little voice in your head that says they don’t like you, or are laughing at you.”  The only problem is when someone, anyone, acts as though my feared negative self-perception is TRUE – that I’m unlikable – then I doubt everything all over again.

I want to be able to be confident about my sufficiency and “lovability” as a person even with all of my flaws.  I am much better than I used to be, more confident and I believe more realistic than I’ve ever been before. However, when I drastically overreact to someone pointing out what’s wrong with my tendencies or actions, I know that there is something that still requires healing.  I still equate my flaws, and other people responding negatively to them, to my being not lovable nor accepted.

I am aware that, between my temperament and my life experiences, I have cards stacked against me in this area. But I believe my God is sufficient and powerful enough to heal me in this area, once and for all.  I believe it will start with my life narrative, because the story I tell about myself will determine how I see myself, and as I am doing my Celebrate Recovery Inventory (for the 5th time), I can recognize the theme of rejection all throughout it.  If I see myself as repeatedly rejected and not often accepted, that perpetuates the feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness that sometimes pop up.  I want those gone.  And I believe that God would never reveal something unless He was determined to heal it, so I’m ready and excited about this healing!

Your sister in Christ,

Penny

 

What I Learned This Week: I Can Be Set Free

I had a major victory this week.  It is one of those victories that is actually a series of small victories won slowly and steadily, but you don’t recognize it until you respond (or in this case, don’t respond) to an event that would have previously crushed you. That is when you know you have been set free in that area, and if your reactions in one area can be completely healed, so can the other areas!

My temperament is extremely sensitive to pointing out my mistakes. I immediately get defensive as a knee-jerk response. I couldn’t help myself.  And to make things worse, I was always afraid of getting in trouble, so it was a double whammy for me.  If my bosses even intimated I did something wrong, I panicked, and would involuntarily start crying. I was a mess.

But this week, I made a major screw up in an older invoice, and the owner of the company caught it.  I missed charging a customer for a parts we had ordered for their job.  It was brought to my attention, and all I could say was that I screwed it up.  I could see how it happened, and my manager and I had already determined that this area was a potential problem, and had changed how we do things so this wouldn’t happen again.  But there was nothing for me to do about what I had already done.  We could amend the bill and go back to the client, so I realized it wasn’t the end of the world.  It was just mildly embarrassing.

I waited for the shakes to come over me, for my body to get tense, for my voice to get terse, to be rushing madly around in my brain for something to blame for the mistake on.  But it never came.  I remained completely calm.  I didn’t feel shame at the mistake, or like I had to somehow explain it away.  I had no problem admitting and taking responsibility for this issue, but most importantly, I didn’t feel bad about myself!

It was ok not to be perfect, to make mistakes, to not always get it right.  I was able to hear and calmly accept what was being said negatively about myself. I am still ok, just as I am, with my flaws and foibles.  I am still the same efficient, intelligent person of integrity – just not perfect.  And I can live with that.

I truly believe that self-talk had a LOT to do with it.  Every day, sometimes twice a day, I read to myself a series of scripture based positive statements about how God loves Penny, wants to heal and help me and show me things I could not see, and that He will complete the work He is doing in me.   The statistics showed that by doing this (especially in the third Person, calling themselves by name), people were able to keep their perspective and not be as bothered by negative criticism. I am definitely sold by this!

I also believe that learning about my inherent tendencies according to my Temperament has allowed me to more completely accept myself, the strengths and the weaknesses.  This is how God made me, and He created me for a purpose with this exact set of characteristics.  I am special, unique, and treasured by the One who created me this was.  Plus, He sees me without flaw and perfect for Him.  After you have received that kind of acceptance, what can someone else say to take that away?

So I encourage you to take my course on Self Talk and start applying it religiously.  It is not a magic incantation of any sort – it just gives you perspective and slowly but surely changes your thought processes.  Speaking these things aloud increases your faith that God will complete the work He has started in you through His Holy Spirit, because faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.   You can be free from crippling knee-jerk responses if you will make it your goal to be free.  It will not come randomly to you – you have to consistently work for it.  But it can and will be yours if you do!

Your sister in Christ,

Penny