How To Help Yourself When You Are Hurting (And Kill Off Old Roots)

I have been asking God why this one root from my past just WILL NOT GO. It will not move. I have pulled on it and pulled on it and thought it was gone, but then it rises above the dirt and shows its ugly head again and again. The root seems to become tougher and thicker, almost impenetrable when I hack at it with all my might.

I get exhausted from trying to pull it up – I’m just not strong enough to do it in my own power. And hearing “just turn to the Lord for your strength and He will do it” just doesn’t cut it. I’m ready to pull my hair out – I just want it GONE. Is this simply going to be a thorn in my flesh for the rest of my life?

That thought scares me, even though I know that His grace, His supernatural empowerment in my life, will carry me through the times I can’t carry myself. That means I will be REQUIRED to rely on the Lord to get through those times. I will have to CONTINUE TO WORK toward my earthly healing until my complete heavenly healing occurs.  Is it just my laziness that hates that thought?  Or do I simply want to be free of the need of God so I can just go about doing my own thing?

In either case, this lingering, crippling phantom pain that has carried over from my youth MUST be addressed, over and over and over again.  I must accept the fact that our most deeply ingrained hurts and scars go so deep that it will take a lifetime of vigilence to keep our learned coping mechanisms at bay as we obtain our healing.  The good news is that the hurts will become less and less painful and burdensome if we minister to ourselves every time we feel the pain instead of swatting it away like an annoying fly and trying to stuff down emotions and thoughts.

Perseverence in allowing the thoughts and emotions to surface, even if they cannot be resolved, is only helpful if we stop and minister to ourselves the way that no one else on earth ever has, or probably ever will.  We need to listen to ourselves with the compassion that only we can have, because we understand what happened and how badly it hurts.  We need to speak those loving and kind words we have been longing to hear and nurture ourselves as we’ve always longed to be cared for.

We can’t undo the past, or even the consequences of our coping mechanisms, but we CAN change our FUTURE. We do it by  providing the comfort, acceptance and love we so desperately need to feel whole, worthy, valuable and lovable.  We can do it by paying attention to our thoughts, feeling the attached emotions, and then speaking to ourselves gently and kindly the truth that we, as adult Christian women, know.

However, we must first compassionately cry with our hurt inner parts that have never gotten over the traumas of the past. We can honestly acknowledge truths such as the fact that we are not everyone’s cup of tea, we HAVE made mistakes that have affected our relationships and our lives, but that we have also been unfairly hurt by others. The world is not fair, and society and the media give us impossible standards to live up to, as have some of our parents.

Then we must reaffirm that God loves us and remember those people that we know DO truly love us (to the best of their broken ability).  We can remember that God’s standard is never outward but always a matter of the heart and the spirit. He doesn’t judge us by our outer appearance, and He knows that our nature is bent toward sin and that we will never get it perfectly right on earth.  Yet, He knowing everything that we would ever do before we were born, He still created us and made us a part of His perfect plan, adopting us as His children when we turned to Him and cried, “Abba Father, save me!”

This is what we must do over and over, until the pain starts to subside and the Holy Truth takes its place.  Don’t give up because the root is still there showing a crop above the surface.  As a matter of fact, stop trying to pull it up. 

Did you know that, in order to kill a root, you don’t have to dig it up?  There are other ways to kill a tree because the root is connected to the entire plant.  If you starve the soil, or block its sunlight, or compact its soil, or harm the trunk or leaves. the root will die. So if you want to get rid of that root, stop tugging and start watering and feeding the OTHER seed that God has planted within us – the Tree of Life.

We nourish that tree by loving God, loving others AND loving ourselves. This tree of love will grow so strong and deep, its branches and leaves will overshadow the other root’s plant and choke it out, leaving it to die of malnourishment all by itself. Literally focusing on loving yourself, God and others will bring you the healing you have been struggling to achieve by pulling out a root.

 

The Little Voice That Says I Can’t Handle It

I have discovered that there is a voice in my head, a part of myself, that continually makes me panic at the thought of having too much to do.  It thinks I won’t be able to handle it.  It tells me that, as if it is a truth, and paralyzes me. At least it used to.  I also discovered I do not have to agree with it or act as if it is true.

When I look at my office, the smallest room in the house which also doubles as a “catch-all” for all of the junk in the house, I literally feel a sense of panic pass through my body. It is a body-wide shudder that makes me want to run away, but instead, as my body prefers, I freeze.  So I ignore it, walk straight to my desk and face my computer screen so I don’t see it.  If I don’t see it, out of mind.

I have lived this way for so incredibly long, I just thought this was a natural response to what I have always perceived as a source of overwhelm.  It never crossed my mind to challenge the thought – just to accept it as truth and succumb to it. But as I have been learning about and listening to the different voices in my head, the different parts of my soul, the different me’s from my past, I’m realizing that it is a lie, a bold-faced (albeit protective) lie from a part of me.

First of all, if it is true that our many parts are constantly trying to protect us, especially from overwhelm stemming from our suppressed emotions, then this makes total sense. When I feel uncomfortable, or feel a disturbing emotion, my Manager gets to distracting me from it, and the Firefighter has me ready to run from it (or eat a bag of caramel corn while I distract myself from it).  A part of me believes I will absolutely fall apart if faced with uncomfortable feelings and emotions, and it tells me so.

Another point of interest I learned in a TED talk about the Pleasure Trap is that there is a part of our brain that freaks out, panics, when we attempt to change the pathways in our brains by new and different behavior.  It resists us and even evokes fear in us to stop us from changing.  That is because doing things the same way without thinking is easier and supposedly safer to our mind’s way of thinking. Change is risky.

So if you combine these two factors – your soul screaming at you that you are a fragile flower who will fall apart if your emotions surface and you experience uncomfortable feelings, plus your brain trying to scare you into falling back into line and following the same pathways (even if they are unhealthy and unproductive) – you can understand why you have trouble modifying your thoughts and your actions.  You are discouraged by your thoughts, emotions and flesh from changing anything.

However, once we have prepared ourselves with the knowledge of the backlash we will experience, we can then steel ourselves against the ploys our body and soul will attempt, and take back our lives.  Like Toto pulling back the curtain to reveal that it’s just a little man who is controlling the very scary image of Oz, when we realize that it is just a soul and body glitch that is stopping us from moving forward, we can get past them.  Like the grown elephant who finally pulls away from the tiny string that has kept it attached to a post since it was a baby, we find that what was holding us back was simply our belief that we couldn’t move beyond where we’ve always been.

So I have started addressing my parts when they tell me I won’t be able to handle things.  When I get a text from someone who normally bears bad news, instead of getting sick to my stomach and shaking, I say, “I CAN handle this.  Whatever uncomfortable news they bring, I may feel emotions, but those emotions will NOT kill me. I CAN handle this.”

When I see my office with the piles of paper that require scanning and data entry, and I know that my assistant won’t be available for a while, instead of giving in to the gut wrenching reaction of fear of not getting everything done, I correct myself.  “I WILL be able to get this done eventually, even if it will not be enjoyable.  The fears that I will be overwhelmed by all I have to do are LIES. Having to do things I don’t like and that make me uncomfortable is a part of life, temporary times I have to push through it and just get it done. I have historically always finished everything I needed to do, so I CAN do this, and there is NOTHING TO FEAR.”

And voila – the fear passes. The panic subsides. It just becomes a room full of papers, not a torture chamber.  It is simply a text from someone, not an envelope with deadly white powder.   I have found the secret of not giving in to the terror – tell it I know the truth, and that it is lying.  And then I act accordingly.

I love the story about John Wesley (I think it was him) who was in his bed when the devil came into his room.  John Wesley sat up in bed, looked straight at the enemy and said, ‘Oh, it’s just you.’  And then he went back to sleep.

That’s what I have learned to do with these soul and body reactions that paralyze me. They mean well, they want to protect me, but they are hindering me instead.  So I am putting them on notice that, although I appreciate the intent of the message, I will have to ignore it, because it is not helpful nor true.

I CAN do all things through Christ who gives me strength.

Actively Seeking His Peace

Seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to Yahweh for it; for in the peace of it shall you have peace. (Jer 29:7)

I know that this passage of scripture is speaking to the Israelites who have been taken captive in a foreign city, but God spoke to me about this in regard to times in our lives when we are captives of situations and emotions we cannot escape. It is possible to seek God’s peace in whatever situation you find yourself.

It might be a work situation that is causing you stress or that is unfulfilling. It might be a relationship that is hard or does not meet your expectations, or simply the delayed realization of your hopes and dreams. It could be the result of physical or emotional trauma in your life, the consequences of which you still struggle with every day.

Peace means being at one with someone or something. Being at one with the situation means accepting what has happened to you instead of fighting it, and deciding you are going to move on in spite of what happened. People get stuck obsessing over the past so they never move toward a better future. Yes, bad things happened to you, but what are you going to do NEXT?

Being at one with God means abiding in Him and not struggling against His allowed will. It means accepting His plan and purpose, trusting His will and His ways, resting in His goodness and mercy, and moving forward in His power and wisdom. It means building up your faith so you CAN trust and rest in Him and access His peace.

His is the peace that passes all understanding, it is the peace that is completely unlike the peace that the world gives. His peace is inexplicable, powerful, and is not affected by circumstances. The world’s peace is fickle and faltering, and can change as soon as the situation changes. But it will not just fall upon you – you must make an effort to seek His peace.

QUESTIONS FOR THE DAY:
1. In what areas of your life are you lacking peace and need to consciously SEEK peace?
2. What specifically do you need to do in order to obtain His peace?

Wearing His Love And Faithfulness

Proverbs 3:3 Let love and faithfulness never leave you;
bind them around your neck,
write them on the tablet of your heart.
4 Then you will win favor and a good name
in the sight of God and man.

I see women struggling all around me. Losses and disappointments, bodies and minds that are failing in different ways, and as a result, their spirits droop as well. Everything that happens to us that does NOT go our way brings with it the horrible temptation to forget everything good that has ever happened in our life, and more importantly, the good, good Father who has always been there for us.

We can’t help but be self-centered, selfish people while we live in flesh suits. Our only hope for godliness is the actual God living inside of us through the Holy Spirit. But unless we CONSCIOUSLY choose to YIELD to the God living in us, we will become trapped in this flesh suit and become a slave to all of its whims.

That is why we MUST choose to focus on His love and faithfulness that never leaves us. We must remind ourselves and let others remind us of all God has and can still do in our lives. We MUST also choose to display and express His love and faithfulness to others, as we would a beautiful necklace we want everyone else to see.

Remembering His love and faithfulness comforts us, but EXPRESSING His love and faithfulness, especially when we don’t feel like it, actually RELEASES THE HOLY SPIRIT to flow through us into others and bring us and them healing. Even in our brokenness, God can use us to bless and bring transformation into the lives of others. Today, in the midst of your struggle, find a way to remind yourself of His love and faithfulness, and then encourage someone else by sharing it.

QUESTIONS FOR THE DAY:
1. What are you struggling with today?
2. What acts of God’s love and faithfulness toward you can you bring to your remembrance?
3. Who can you share that with?

What I Learned This Week: Yes, Life Is Always Going To Have Struggles

I have been dealing with health insurance problems.  Doctor says they’ve submitted a claim, insurance says they haven’t.  Hospital says insurance has denied their claim, insurance says they haven’t.  I can’t control anyone, no one will put anything in writing.  One day the insurance company swears I don’t have mammogram coverage, then a month later they say they do.  Have you ever wanted to reach through the phone and strangle someone??? (I know, that’s not very Christian, but it’s FLESHY Christian!)

I was getting incredibly stressed out.  I didn’t even want to go to Celebrate Recovery last night – I just wanted to go to bed.  I’ve been obedient to get up at 5:45 every morning to exercise and have devotion, and not only do I not see any outward difference, the only things apparently tightening up are my ham strings! (Ouch!)

So I asked God the same question you always ask.  “God, why does it always have to be this hard?”  And God responded with “What made you think that at some point on this earth, you could hit cruise control and you wouldn’t have any more struggles?”  It just smacked me in the face.  My unrealistic expectations almost soured me on God and life.  Luckily, my very realistic God brought me back in line through the Holy Spirit’s voice.

You know, we can ruin our own lives with bad attitudes that are based on wholly unrealistic expectations.  Do you know that if you have a roof over your head, and food to eat, you are among the elite in the world?  Over 795 million people in the world go without enough food to eat, and we complain because we are having trouble getting our health company to connect with our medical providers, making calls on our cell phones on our breaks on our jobs, going home in our vehicles to a safe place, and complaining about the food we are or are not eating. Perspective is everything.

As long as we are in a fleshly body, our body will want whatever it wants, whenever it wants it.  That will never change. We will have cravings and be easily manipulated by our senses.

As long as we are in this sinful and fallen world, we will have to deal with broken and selfish people (and they will have to deal with broken and selfish “us”).  They will make decisions that will adversely affect us, and we will continually have to trust God that He will still re-arrange everything so that His purpose and plan for us is not affected.

If we continually expect life to get EASIER, we will consistently be frustrated and dissatisfied with life.  But God never promised it would be easy – only that it would be worth it.  When the Hebrews left Egypt, they had to spend 40 years in the desert to turn slaves into soldiers, because they were going to have to fight for their Promised Land.  It was hard, and many complained and died in the wilderness from their lack of trust in God.

You would have thought that, once they got to the land of milk and honey, all would be swell.  But no, they had to fight to KEEP the Promised Land as well.  We have to fight to keep our faith, just as the Apostle Paul did.

2 Timothy 4:7 – I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

So when things are hard, just remember, God has promised to take everything that happens to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose and work it for their good.  But the good He promises is not that everything will work out in this life.  It is that He will use everything to conform us to be that much more like Jesus.   

Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] 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.

The Serenity Prayer says something that always puts things in perspective to me.  It ends with:

That I may be REASONABLY happy in THIS life, and SUPREMELY happy with Him in the NEXT.

We can only expect reasonable happiness in this life; asking for supreme happiness is asking for too much on earth.  But we can look forward to it in the next life, and dream about it while we are here, and experience glimpses of it when we are filled with the Holy Spirit.  I must remember to put on my armor and be a good soldier for Him, and look forward to my soon coming rest.

Your sister in Christ,

Penny