Just Thinking…..

close your eyesEvery day I learn something new. It may have been about events, life, a friend or human behavior. This morning was about me! Sitting quietly I became aware of something that triggers me and causes me to feel shamed. It’s not from past trauma or anything like that. People, family, coworkers etc, sometimes without realizing it say things that sting. That stuff will happen. But here’s what I learned about myself…. I try very hard to set up my world to avoid pain at every turn. I want to inoculate myself from pain. How unrealistic to think I can avoid it. I can’t avoid it! Yet I want to at all costs. The real question is why? I wonder if it’s as simple as pain avoidance or if an old coping mechanism. No matter why I think the better thing to do is learn to become aware of the trigger and work through it constructively. The first step for me is awareness, then prayer then reaching out to a friend. I’m a verbal processor. So once I talk through I’m usually ok again. And after all isn’t that how we all want to feel?

The Darkness I Once Sat In

 

sitting in the darkOnce upon a time a few years back, I sat alone in the darkness. This wasn’t a spiritual darkness we typically speak of as Christians. Usually we think of that type of darkness for those that do not know my God. The joy and emotion I once felt was gone. I sat alone in my darkness frozen and numb. Most of my friends and family knew I wasn’t myself but no one knew the extent I had internalized things.

Then just as the darkness slowly covered over me, at an appointed time, the light began to slowly dawn again until the full light of day. I asked God to give me revelation about this period of time so I could make sense of it and maybe bring some hope to others that may be experiencing the same thing. Here’s what He gave me. He gave me an internal vision that I hope I never forget.

It was of a girl in the right hand lower corner of a very dark room curled up. She was afraid to move and afraid to stay put. Then came a small faint beam of light in the upper left hand corner. But the girl didn’t see it because she was curled up with her head buried in her knees. Then the light grew slightly brighter. It made the girl raise her head for the first time since the vision began. The small beam of light turned into hands stretching toward her. These hands weren’t upraised in anger but they were reaching out as if to scoop up the little girl. As the vision continued, I could tell the hands were moving closer and indeed did scoop her up and pulled her to the light as if to comfort heal and restore her. She kept looking up at this light that turned into hands and now she sees the hands are attached to a body. It’s her savior’s body! She recognizes Him! It’s Jesus and He came for her! He pulled her close and she felt safe again. She felt sane again. She wasn’t afraid anymore. She relaxed in His arms and cried a cry of relief and joy at the same time. That was the end of the vision but I felt the warmth of it linger for quite a while afterwards.

We all have our theologies that include being happy healthy and whole. It also includes times of darkness like the one Joseph experienced that went on for a very long time. But for me, as I’m sure for most, I preferred the happy healthy and whole part of my beliefs. I didn’t see the darkness coming so it really threw me for as much of a loop as the depression itself. Depression among believers does happen but rarely makes sense when compared to our system of beliefs. But we are in this world and we experience stresses, major life changes, traumas and unspeakable acts that take a toll on us.

So why do I write about this so much? Because too many of God’s faithful have or are struggling in darkness desperately trying to make sense of it all. Too many of us have felt the sting of failure and shame because of it. Too many have fainted in the course of waiting. All of it is unnecessary. Jesus loves us in the mountains and the valleys of life.

I don’t want to say “it all has purpose”. It may, but it may just be the result of living in a fallen world. But at an appointed time (which will most certainly be different for each one of us) He will come and save you! He will, He really will.

My prayer is that it will be sooner rather than later. Hosanna!

DEEP ROOTS

healthy tree

A while back God gave me a scripture. It was from  Isaiah 37:31″Once more a remnant of the kingdom of Judah will take root below and bear fruit above.

For some reason this scripture caught my attention. Then I walked into a Starbucks Coffee shop and saw a similar saying on their wallpaper that said Deep Roots Bare Fruit”. Now God had my attention. He gave me that scripture to hold onto to during some really hard times.  The only problem was things went from bad to worse and I forgot about the promise. The anxiety got worse and then depression set in. I was numb. I lost my hope. My vision grew dim and everything got dark I couldn’t believe that things were not always going to be like they were at the moment.

But none of this surprised God one little bit. My lack of faith took me by surprise but not God. How do I know this? Because God wasn’t suprised when Peter’s faith failed him. I know were supposed to have faith but sometimes we don’t. Thats just the truth. If we dont confess then how can we be made whole? If there’s a weed growing in our heart won’t it spoil the vineyard?

But God kept going with His plan to extend my roots deeper. Let me tell you it was tough searching for water when it was dry and I felt barren. Have you ever been there? If not don’t worry your turn is coming. It comes in every child of God life that asks for more of Him. He was performing His Word in my life. I didn’t like it very much but there wasn’t much I could do to hasten the process. And there wasn’t much I could do to stop it either.  Both options would have been fine by me. I just wanted it to stop. But it didn’t. And today I can say I’m glad He finished the work He started in me. I’m by no means saying I’m a finished product but I am a testimony.

Now when I talk to someone and they say they’re struggling with anxiety and depression I can say “I understand” “I get it”. If you never battled depression you wouldn’t understand the head games that comes along with it. The sense of failure and the sense of not knowing why it’s happening are like overwhelming layers darkness that seal you in. Into what i don’t know cz it was too dark to describe.

Sometimes you can only learn something through experience. But after the affliction you are better able to lead out others struggling too. In  way you become Jesus with skin on to the hurting. And that makes the suffering all worth while. Do I want to go through that agin. No way. But am I glad that some fruit has from it all ABSOLUTELY!

IN BETWEEN DREAMS

precipice-sheepThis really depicts a phrase God spoke to me a few months ago. The phrase concerned those of us that have had our dreams shattered or they simply have come to an end. the phrase was simply “In between dreams” Those 3 little words are filled with hope. It doen’t matter why your dream ended. It could have been that you completed your God given assignment. It could have been that your marriage ended or that you lost your job. It could be something like what happened to Alice in the book Alice in Wonderland. In just a day everything that was familiar changed. Thus the name of my blog “Falling Down The Rabbit Hole- When Nothing Is As It Was Before”. Dreams do end. And sometime things don’t work out as we hoped. Some people can jump right into the next thing while others have to take time to grieve the loss. Still other feel swallowed up by the grief and are unable to move on and get stuck. I know how it feels. I bet some of you do too. If you’re like me you grieved hard. I searched to replicate the life I once knew. I thought I could do the same things somewhere else. I assumed God had no intention of developing something new and fresh in me and through my life. Try as I did, nothing filled the void in my heart. Time passed and wasn’t grieving so much any longer. I stopped trying to replicate my old life in a new environment. I was still quite empty but at least I wasn’t in pain. Then one day God spoke the phrase “your just in between dreams” Hmmmm… that started me on a new adventure. First I sought God. Then I searched my own heart to see where my passion was. I have to admit I had no passion or even the glimmer of a new dream. All my devotions kept mentioning something about “your dream” It got to be frustrating. I kept seeking and searching, which is what we’re supposed to do. Then one morning during my commute, as I read yet another devotion about your God sized dream, I heard myself whisper “I just want to help hurting people” I nearly gasped as I realized I had my dream back! You may be in between dreams right now. it’s ok. There will be a new one soon enough. In the meantime, just let God remold and remake you into the shape of His new vision for you. It will be worth the wait. I promise

WORK IN MORE WAYS THAN ONE

workThis month I celebrated 5 years with the organization I work for and 2 years at my  hospital location. When I first came to the the clinic I fell in love with it. I loved the people I worked with, the management style, the doctors and I still do! It’s a very caring friendly environment. It took a while to find the right place for me. I can’t work in toxicity, hostility, or with changes that make no sense.

A few months ago a co worker became ill and hasn’t been able to return yet. I assumed a few of her administrative duties in the clinic. I enjoy learning new things as well as taking on new responsibilities. So I was up for the extra work. We’re also scheduled to be remodeled. I was asked if i wanted to re-locate to an office right outside the clinic. It made perfect sense.

In the past few weeks I’ve been dreaming a lot. Mostly because I haven’t taken time to process all the changes. My dreams have caused me more than a few nights of interrupted sleep.

One dream caused me to see that while the move to another desk outside the clinic made sense on one level. On another level I really don’t want to be isolated from my co workers. So that gave me something to think about.

Also the last few weeks I’ve had a few encounters with some challenging patients. I have learned how to remain calm, empathize, and stay professional. But one of them got under my skin and I forgot all about the skills I’ve acquired over the past 10 years. It really bothered my that I lost my composure. When I was young I prided myself on being a little bad a**. As I got older I put away childish things and grew up (a little bit) in Christ. I know that none of us are perfect. But I expect myself to be. Mostly because I fear getting in trouble.

Last night my dreams troubled me again. I love to interpret dreams for lots of reasons. Apparently this draem was trying to get my attention in a big way. Without going into the details of the dream, I had to acknowledge that I was deeply ashamed of my behavior. What I thought was a dead trait was still able to rear its ugly head.

So I’ve been thinking. My husband would say “when don’t I”! I have/had a faulty belief system. Somehow I adopted a belief that once God deals with a particular area of your life it’s dead. But now I’m finding that I didn’t leave room for my human nature or flesh as some like to call it.. I do have a God nature but I’m still human. The spirit of God dwells in this human body! Why couldn’t I see that before??? Why could I say to others “it’s ok we’re all human” but not to myself.

I think it’s because I grew up in a home where verbal abuse and physical punishment were the primary way of educating us about our negative behavior. Never mind the fact that my parents were using unbridled anger to keep me in line. As if that was somehow acceptable. Wow! Can you image the crazy core belief system I constructed for myself.  There are 2 that come to mind.  “Anger equals power” and the other is “try your best to stay out of trouble” How do those 2 core beliefs stand together???

I became a Christian and got married when I was 21. I married a kind gentle man. He taught me by the way he conducted himself that anger is really a sign of weakness and self-control is true strength. It took years and the help of the Holy Spirit to walk in what came naturally for my husband. I’m still jealous over that!

It’s only been in this last year or so, that the other core belief has grown up in my  like a weed in my heart that’s ready to be pulled out by the roots. But that’s where I am today. Dealing with a wrong core belief. And I’ so thankful that God hasn’t stopped working one me!

I’m a work of God in progress! and so are you! Never stop learning. Never stop growing! You won’t be sorry. I promise.

 

DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT QUITTING

If we’re honest there are days when we want to quit. Sometimes we vacillate between waiting patiently and being discouraged. Some of us have walked through seasons so difficult that it’s hard to maintain the right posture of waiting in faith. I’ve been there. It wasn’t bad enough that I privately felt like fainting then I would beat myself up for feeling that way. Can you tell I’m pretty hard on myself? Maybe you are too.

Well did you know that Peter and the others fainted after the death of Jesus? Peter said I’m going back to go fishing and the rest of the disciple joined him. They fainted and went back to fishing because their dream died. All they believed in and hoped for seemed to have vanished into thin air. In Alice in Wonderland, Alice finds that everything she knew was no longer recognizable. She said “How queer everything is today”. That must have been how the disciple felt when they got back into their boats to go fishing. Has your vision ever been so obscured that things seemed unrecognizable or queer, the way it was for Alice? If you’re honest then you’d have to say yes because we’re all human.
But then Jesus appeared to them! Jesus caught in the act of fishing and asked them did you catch anything? Cast your nets on the right side of the boat and you’ll get some. I suppose they could have felt a little ashamed of themselves for giving up. But they didn’t. They were overjoyed! They saw Him, really saw Him again! They came alive in their hearts with vision again. When you faint you can’t see anything. Unlike me, Jesus didn’t scold them for fainting like I scolded myself. He just picked up where He left off in the relationship with the disciples.
My problem was that I knew better and expected more of myself. I shouldn’t have fainted even though I couldn’t see Him. I guess I’m a little like Peter. Underneath it all I realized I wasn’t being gentle with me the way Jesus is. I wasn’t willing to forgive myself the way Jesus forgives.
Not forgiving yourself will blind you to your purpose because it’s as much sin as anything else. Without a dream you have no drive. You go through the motions and everything will seem queer. That, my friend, is a pretty high price to pay Thank God Jesus got passed all the muck of self-punishment! Are you harder on yourself than Jesus would be on you? Are you one given to self-punishment? Then I want to hear from you. Admission is the first step toward healing and resurrection!
Isaiah 40:31 but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint. Teach us Lord to wait!

on-Eagles-wings

THE PRICE OF HONESTY

HONESTYRecently I asked a friend to read the post Speak Comfort to my Soul before I released it. She remarked that it was written so honestly. Since then I got to thinking there’s a price for honesty. To the best of my ability I consider my words before I write them. I can only hope you’ll say “she says what I dare not admit to another soul”. Or “she puts into words the secrets locked away in my heart”. Nothing would make me happier than to know if someone else gets free because of my honesty.

You can’t disclose what you’re not in touch with. You can’t be rescued if you’re not willing to cry out for help. And be ready to wait, because most likely won’t be immediate.. It rarely works that way in the natural or the supernatural. But I admit it’s really nice that happens!

So what’s the price? The price is waiting with all that raw emotion from becoming self-aware. It will always take time to get in touch with the “stuff” we’ve stuffed down whether it’s done for a brief period of time or many years. acts of this kind of honesty requires real courage. It’s the dirty business of physical, emotional and spiritual health.

When it comes to matters of emotional and soul health Mark 4:22 says:For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open.

So take a chance, open up your heart to the Lord and be prepared to wait. Sometimes things happen overnight but healing often takes time and hard work. But if nothing changes then neither will you.

DRY AND LIFELESS BONES

Ezekiel 37:1 The hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me out by the Spirit if the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones.

The other day I was reading from Ezekiel and saw something that I hadn’t noticed before. Ezekiel describes a valley of dry bones. If we’re honest that’s how we all feel at one time or another. The stresses we face today are worse than the stresses the previous generation had to endure. If it goes on for a long enough, combined with the hectic pace of life’s demands, it can drain us of all our strength. When that happens some run to the Word for strength while others can barely manage to stay focused on anything. Just knowing you can’t focus like you used to causes anxiety for some people myself included. There’s no shame in admitting that. It happens. But I can guarantee that at some point in your life, you will feel like dry bones in a valley!

BONES

As I read on, God asks Ezekiel “can these bones live?’ and Ezekiel says I don’t know, only you would know that. If you’re the one in the valley and feeling depleted of all your resources than you may be saying I don’t know if I’m gonna live through this. I’ve been there. I remembered vividly the way I used to feel and wondered am ever gonna feel normal again?  

Then God tells Ezekiel to prophesy life to the dried up bones and the bones started to have tendons and flesh come over them but they still needed breath. This is how I felt as God started the work of restoring me. I felt ok but I still remembered feeling great, before life smacked me around. I wasn’t quite back to my old self yet. But I had to admit I was doing way better. That by itself was a huge relief and if God wanted to stop there I would’ve been ok with that. I could make it through. For some as you read this you’re saying why would you ever think that little of God and settle for less than an abundant life? Well because some life is better than no life in you. You become grateful for any relief from pain.

Fortunately, God didn’t stop there for me. Like in the passage when Ezekiel tells the four winds to come, God breathed on me!

And today I live to tell you don’t faint, don’t give up. It’s worth the wait. He’s worth the wait. Even if you fainted, given up and walked away from God He’s still gonna keep working on your behalf. It takes longer when we aren’t co-operating with Him for sure. But God wants to restore you. He wants to get to your soul where all the stress and anxiety reside. Even if you’re wondering “will God do that for me”, Let me say YES! Unequivocally YES!

 

THINKING AND RETHINKING

be careful how you talk to yourself
It doesn’t matter how old you are, it seems like everybody has to rethink and re-frame how we think about ourselves. The negative and often stinging words of other people only serve to complicate the process. Sometimes it’s easy to work through it and other times well… not so much. It seems the more challenging or more devastating the event, the greater the chances for confusion to set in. In my head it sounds something like this: I thought I was_______ fill in the blanks. They say I am______ fill in the blanks. Am I that wrong about myself? Do I need to work on some aspect of my life? Maybe their wrong? There was a time that when I couldn’t settle the issue and so the questions would be like an endless loop in my head whenever anything disturbed me.
It wasn’t always like that and it’s not that way now. But there were a number of years when God was redefining everything in my life. I was in yet another process of transformation. Transformation is by definition is: a complete or major change in someone’s or something’s appearance, form, etc. In my case, God was after something deep inside of me that needed removed. I had a deeply rooted negative core self-belief. Many of us do. As we get older, we learn how to hide it quite well. I could say more about that but I that’s for another post. Covering it up with a fig leaf is all we can do until God is ready to take us through His butterfly process. Oh how I wished the transformation was like the opening of the program, Wonder Woman! Just a few rotations and viola I’m changed! But it wasn’t. I also wished I understood I was in the midst of a work of God. But I didn’t. I was like an Israelite journeying through the desert. In truth sometimes I had faith and other times I did not.
Do you have a similar story? Have you been on this journey too? Then you know that it takes time to change. That change can only occur after the ax has been laid at the root and dies. The root dies a little more every time we believe what God says about us. It also dies a little more as we cry out and hold on.
But ultimately it dies when God says so.
Bow I feel a little more like that butterfly flying freely about! So hang in there. You too are a work in progress. Instead of succumbing to the confusion and anxiety, re-frame it to realize God is at work and you are a work in progress!