Every 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?
When I was really young I never really felt like I fit in anywhere. It didn’t matter if it was true or not. It’s just a feeling I wrestled with daily. It didn’t matter where I was. I still had this nagging sense of being different or not good enough. I felt this way at home, among cousins, in my neighborhood and at school.
Then one day I attended a charismatic church and went forward for prayer. Oddly enough I didn’t realize the guy that was praying for me was a pastor (even though I just listened to him preach). And I didn’t know He heard from God and shared those words with others. So there I am thinking I’m getting prayer for bad sinuses and this guy says “I can tell everywhere you’ve ever gone and everywhere you’ve ever been you’ve always felt a little different and little out-of-place. From this day forward you will never walk alone.” This guy nailed it!
That began my journey for truth in the inner parts. I have no problem leaning into the discomfort of getting to the root of my stuff. I’m not afraid to sit with those uncomfortable feelings , take them before the Father and allow Him to bring light into my darkness. Though I was an adult , what I found was a little girl still very much alive on the inside of me raging from the shame and rejection.
But the dilemma for me, the words shame,fear and unworthiness, were considered carnal in nature in the circles I ran in. Consequently some of my “stuff” remained hidden in dark places for years. I just couldn’t risk making myself that vulnerable to another Christian by telling them what I was secretly feeling. I couldn’t take the chance of being told “you’re just too carnal for me” I.e. “you’re too immature and unspiritual for me to hang out with”. That would’ve devastated me. It was that fear of disconnection that kept me trapped and unable to let God into a really deep dark scary part of my heart.
As time went on, God separated me to himself for a second round of sifting and separating. The first time I went through one of those “seasons” it lasted 1 1/2 years and was awful. In the second round it lasted closer to 5 years. And it just plain old sucked. (Sorry God but it did) God wanted access to my heart. All of it! He knew I could handle more than I ever thought I could, with His loving arms to hold me up. It didn’t feel like love at the time. It felt more like I was a plant that had been pulled up by the roots but not yet potted in a bigger pot. This “season” produced much fruit. But for this post I’ll focus on more freedom to be me. Warts and all!
Jesus loves me and you just as we are. That’s part of belonging to the family. But people and yes even Christians because of fear settle fitting in over belonging. I can say this with certainty because I know I’m not the only one guilty of sacrificing the real me at the altar of peer acceptance. Is anyone saying ouch yet??
In the words of my new favorite author Brene Brown “Fitting in and have a sense of belonging are two totaling different things”.
Fitting in is something we do to be accepted. But the problem is that when we settle for ‘fitting in’ we’re always looking over our shoulder to make sure no one else comes along to expose us for something and kick us out of the group. Leaving us all alone. again!
So here’s what I’ve discovered…
First, no one wants to talks about fear or shame,and the less you talk about it the more you are stuck with it like a thorn in the paw of a lion. It’ll roar at you until you hear it and pay attention.
Second, the more I say out loud the things I’m secretly thinking the more I find other that say “I know! and me too!” And That’s when I find a sense of connection and belonging that I crave. That’s when I’m truly being strong and courageous. That’s when ministering to each other happens! That’s when we start to open eyes that are blind, and free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness. Is 42:7
So today I say to you…Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a dream and just knew I had to get up and pray for someone. But it wasn’t always that way. It was developed over time and by become aware of a few indicators. Just about every dream can give rise to some form of prayer. But some dreams are God’s way of letting the dreamer know it’s time to pray for someone or stand in the gap for a specific purpose.
In this post I will share a few of the tips and indicators I’ve learned over the years. First you’ll notice the dream is somehow different from when it’s just the normal kind of dream.Usually you can tell when the dream is meant to help you process whats going on in your own life. You’ll know because of whats gone on over the past several days and the dream though symbolic will relate to those events. If none of the events fit with the theme of the dream then you can ask yourself “Is God trying to tell me something?”
One clue will be when a messenger or voice from within the dream will give you some kind of message or direction. Both Freud and Jung as well as the Bible say that a message within a dream should be given attention. But a God inspired dream will accompany His presence or a sense of peace and resolve or it will forecast the future.
A God-given dream most likely will be less frequent than the dreams that help us process our feelings. Both are a gifts from God. But a God-given dream will burn in your heart and you can’t get away from it until you accomplish it. For example. A number of years ago I worked at a Christian School. Every summer during summer vacation I would ask God “should I stay or should I go”. The summer of the very last year I worked at the school God sent me His answer in the form of dream. It had 3 distinct timelines. It ended with me saying “How did I get here”. That was a message wi a dream. I knew from that dream I would have 3 career changes. I didn’t know exactly what they were but I knew it would be the last year at the academy. As it turned out I did have 2 additional career changes. After I left the Christian school, I went to work in a duel diagnosed inpatient drug and alcohol treatment center. A Duel diagnosis refers to someone with addiction and a mental health diagnosis. This place seemed to breed insanity in its employees. So I quit and went to work in a local health system. How that happened I’ll never know because I like people not administrative stuff. But I’ve been there since and I’m happy.
Sometimes God will give you a dream about another person. It could be to pray, to encourage or to warn them. As a mom I had several dreams of my son getting into trouble. Sometimes I would sit on them and pray. Sometimes I would say “Ya better mind your P’s and Q’s”. Both options could be right. It can be right to ponder things like Mary and Joseph did. It can be right to warn. In one instance I sat on a dream for 6 months or so. Then out of the blue the dream began to disturb me so much so I had to call my son. After that call, he looked around at the party he was at and decided to leave. 5 minutes later the place was raided. My son’s friend who’s house the party was at later said “why didn’t God warn your mom for me” half joking and half serious!
Sometimes dreams can contain instructions what we call a word of wisdom. I once had a vision of how to fix my sewing machine. A vision is just a dream when you’re awake. It too will have a sense of His presence. So I got up, went over to the sewing machine and fixed it! Did God have to do that? No not at all. But He did it to demonstrate an aspect of himself to me that I thought was pretty cool.
I’d like to hear about your dreams too so we can stimulate each other in our faith journey. I can’t wait to hear what you’ve dreamed about!
A thought goes into the mind,
Goes down to the heart
Turns into an action
Then I went to church a few days later and our pastor was doing a series called FIGHT. He spoke on spiritual warfare. He said “winning battles in the heavenlies, makes it possible to realize victories on the earth”.
Ephesians 6:12 For battle is not against flesh and blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen worlds, against mighty powers of this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
He also said don’t let satan own your mind or your heart. So I started thinking back to my chance meeting earlier in the week. As I took it all in I realized if satan can get to your mind without your awareness then he has a really good chance of owning your heart. If he can get to your heart then he can convince you to act on …. fill in the blanks and next thing you know you’re a slave.
I think God is trying to tell me something….
Have you ever noticed that when you’re in a time of waiting how your mind races. My mind often tries to predict the outcome of whatever it is I’m waiting for. I have a hard time letting things rest. The only way to explain it is to say it’s like an unfinished task. I have to complete it to rest. Is anybody else like that? Please tell me because I don’t want to be crazy all by myself.
If it depended on my efforts alone I would finish ….. (fill in the blanks). But, in life it doesn’t work that way. We are created by God to need each other. Sometimes that sounds wonderful. Other times not so much.Especially if you’re the one waiting on someone else to complete their part . It works that way on the job, in churches, in our homes, in virtually every relationship including the one we have with our Heavenly Father. Even when I don’t like it, I find there’s something I can learn in the waiting.
Recently I was in a time of waiting to find out if I getting a small promotion. It seemed like no brainer so I couldn’t quite understand why the wait. I was restless and dare I say fearful. I was concerned because of the past experiences that bad outcomes. In the past I have taken on extra duties with an implied expectation of a promotion. Your scenario may not be the same as mine but we’ve all have been there.
Then I started listening to my heart. There was so much going on in there. In matters of the heart, you have to listen carefully and keep going deeper to get to the core issue.Can I just say that sometimes it’s hard to get that quiet to really hear yourself. My mind just kept flitting about from one thing to another. Eventually I did get quiet enough to hear and found was that my restlessness had an origin attached to it. Now I wasn’t restless because of the waiting, now I was wrestling with God. Hmmmm… now I was getting it! God was after something in me. He was exposing another wrong belief I adopted along the way. The more closely I listened to the internal debate I was having, the more I realized I had an implied expectation, an expected outcome you will. I was expecting to be passed over AGAIN.
I began to re-frame the way I was thinking as I was waiting by telling myself that just because it worked out that way in the past doesn’t mean it will work out the same way now. My husband added some valuable insights also.
So I began by asking God to forgive me for the judgement I made. I found peace in that. I also found peace in another way. Because of my husband’s insight I was able to zero in on what I love to do. There’s a big difference in operating in your gifting with peace in that call rather than trying to climb some ladder of success. And with that I was free of the struggle!
The more I chip away at the lies, the freer I become
I now know I’m right where God wants me doing what He called me to do. Nothing more nothing less. Oh ya did I mention I got I got the promotion but I get to keep doing the same thing! How good is God.
I firmly believe that we give what it is we need. I tend to give a listening ear because that what I need the most. I think my husband told me once that I buy gifts I would want. That would be clothes!
I grew in a family that thought children should be seen and not heard. So you can understand why this is one of my greatest needs. Then I read something on empathetic listening skills recently that’s making me think. “Seek first to understand then to be understood”
Hmmmm…I think this is an area that needs to be sharpened from time to time.
If I go out for coffee with you, you’d have my undivided attention. I’m able to hear your heart and watch your facial expressions and read body language. I will truly be able to understand what you’re really saying.
But more times than I care to admit at work and at home I’m multi-tasking. I’m not always looking at my family and co-workers in the eyes when they talk. I’m distracted by the shiny objects. So I would like to say I’m gonna work on it, I’m also aware that I might get distracted and forget.