Disarming the Past

Several years ago, my then ROTC cadet now soldier son, was playing with my camera and took this. Of all the photos I have on file, I see a representation of a disarmed past=}*

Several years ago, my then ROTC cadet now soldier son, was playing with my camera and took this. Of all the photos I have on file, I see a representation of a disarmed past=}*

When I was in third grade, I was over-weight and the second tallest kid in my grade, boy or girl. Anne was taller than me and thin. I also was in the slow reading group, but when it came to recess, I was picked to play dodge ball or baseball long before several of the boys.

Sometime early in the school year someone started to call me Bozo. You Baby Boomers probably remember Bozo the Clown. It was not a term of endearment….

And it stuck.

All year and into fourth grade I was often “Bozo” to my classmates. It hurt. When I cried, I was told, “Big girls don’t cry.” I was coached to believe, that “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

But words DO hurt. My peers pestered me to the breaking point more than once and I lashed out with a fist…. After all, I was bigger than most of them! =}

Fast forward:

Then I really blew it… I stuck my foot in it royally, unintentionally.

When we lived in Africa, a recently widowed Missionary with her three children stayed to continue the work. One day her oldest was riding his bike when he was hit by a car and died instantly.

Visiting her before she buried her son, I did not know what to say. So, instead of saying that, or better yet saying nothing, I said one of those stupid things people say when they really should keep their mouths shut. She never spoke to me again.

I tried several times over the years to talk with her to apologize. I was able to talk with her daughter over the phone once, but the woman would not take my call. My words hurt another, deeply….

So, how do we move on from those things? How do we disarm the pain so we are not stuck?

We disarm by forgiving through the power and grace of God, finding and focusing on the truth, and allowing time to bring healing.*

1) I have forgiven those who called me Bozo. But forgiveness is both a moment in time choice, and a process. I have been through a season, or few, of seeking genuine transformation of my life. The “Bozo thing” came up repeatedly several times over a long period. I chose to forgive, but the lie was so well planted in me that it became part of my foundational beliefs about myself. Each time it came up, (I was not looking for it but God was not finished,) I continued to release the lie and the people who were used to plant it in me.

I also needed to forgive myself and give myself grace. My comments deeply wounded another. Romans 12:18 tells us: “If possible, so much as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” I tried to reconcile. I have to let go. I pray she has released my stupid words. The result of not forgiving is a root of bitterness. It only hurts me. So I continually release. Jesus has paid the price in full.

2) Whenever we believe a lie, we have to do more than just say the words “I don’t believe it anymore.” We have to find the truth to replace the lie. Hint, the truth is usually the opposite meaning of the lie. I am not Bozo the Clown! I am a bright woman, with plenty of strengths. There is, however, more solid truth to depend on than circumstance: Who the word of God says I am. There are so many good truths for all of us. I encourage you to find the ones that apply to your circumstances. The root lie for me was “I am unworthy.”

A few truths that have helped me: “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalm 139 is a great place to begin.) “I have been bought with a price.” (Gal 2:20) Rom 5:8 “but, God shows his love for us, in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.”

There are so may more!

3) Time. It does not heal everything, certainly not by itself, but coupled with grace and truth, time is an important part of the healing process. It took time for the lies to integrate. We can disarm them in a second, but the longer we have been captive to them, time becomes our friend to learn the new ways to think and act differently and grow into our God designed freedom.

A small “disclaimer”: These three steps are always helpful, but sometimes “stuff” keeps coming back up. I did not have any emotional reaction to Bozo for years. Then just last week, Abba began to clarify some of my future to me. seemingly out of nowhere “Bozo” struck a chord again! After some prayer about it, I have two thoughts to add.

First, there may have been a little residual piece of that lie still “lodged in my foundation” that has worked its way up and out.

Or

Second, because the clarifications about my future have a lot to do with things that I was good at when I was young, but I put away for many years, the lie tries to come back to discourage me from stepping fully into what I have always been intended to do and be now that I am older. Either way, a lie is a lie.

Take a few seconds to see if you have something in your past to disarm. Do not become introspective. Just ask God and listen. If yes, Thank God he is showing you, then try the steps. If not, thank God you are set for now and have a blessed day!

May you have all the grace truth and time you require to walk in the fullness God made you for!

In HIS grip,

Andrea

 

*The wooden cross is hand-made by Bob Masterson. They come in many sizes and he sells them. Each one is different and beautiful. Please contact me if you are interested.

*These points come from Henry Cloud’s book, Changes That Heal

Confidence: Where Does It Come From And How Do You Get It?

Who has confidence?

The majesty of towering trees. My best shot at confidence today.

The majesty of towering trees. these are on the coast and have weathered Many a major storm. My best shot at an image of confidence today.

When I looked up “confidence” it all seemed pretty subjective. All about feeling or a “consciousness.”

“a feeling or belief that you can do something well or succeed at something”

Some people have a lot of confidence. Great leaders tend to have it. I think of Alexander the Great and generals like MacArthur or Patton. They all tended to confidence to the point of arrogance. Or at least it was often perceived by others that way. They were each geniuses. Experienced surgeons are another category of people who exude confidence, often to the extreme. All of these share intelligence and expertise. They worked very hard to get to the top.
That’s not exactly what I’m looking for.
When I think of confidence, I look for the still, calm, inner knowing that can be like some sort of barely flexible steel at the core of a person who has confidence. It does not run often over other people. That is reserved for emergencies only, and even then, others get out of the way and fall in line to follow because of how they set the example of kind, though firm, leadership. I know a professor nick-named “The Velvet Hammer.”  He is demanding, but is ever so kind and gentle in calling forth excellence.
I am talking about confidence, that in the face of opposition, direct or in-direct, takes a breath and assesses the situation. These people know who they are and who they are not. They know the end goal. They have learned to surround themselves with people who have strengths in their areas of weakness and they give them freedom to fill that void. They call out the best in people.
This kind confidence knows their available resources: human, material and super-natural.
They have nothing to prove, because they have a sense that they are under orders themselves. They know, from experience, that God is in control. God is their friend and being in tune with God is the secret to their confidence. They are less sure of themselves and completely sure of their God.
So, how do we acquire Confidence? It is not quite as subjective as you might think. Here are a few ideas:
1) Confidence comes from training and experience. Malcolm Gladwell explains in his book Outliers, that it takes at least 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert at anything. Experts generally have confidence, and they worked REALLY hard to acquire it. Confidence nearly never “just happens.” Both generals MacCarther and Patton came from Military families and had fought in other wars before they were in WWI. By WWII they had logged plenty of hours studying at West Point, practicing war and in real battles. They had confidence.
2)Confidence comes though encouragement from others. When we succeed, that in itself is an encouragement, but when others recognize it and let us know, that builds confidence. We need each other!
3) We also need others to coach and cajole us to excellence. We need to be teachable. We do not learn in a vacuum.
4) Confidence, that lasts, is chiefly grounded in a belief in a good God, who loves, leads and empowers.
How does God lead? First and foremost through the word of God, the Bible. It is there, in the Word, that we learn how God sees us as, who He made us to be. As we step into his principles and understand more each day how much we are loved, then we truly begin to gain confidence. Being a student of the word of God is an integral part of gaining confidence. It is primary source of our relation ship with God. The relationship is the barely flexible core mentioned earlier.
5)  He also teaches us and “speaks” to us through our circumstances, but the “lesson” always agrees with the principles of the Bible. Know the principles of life handed to us by the great Creator of all things. It is rudimentary to confidence and success in life.
I am sure there is more to acquiring confidence, but I know these are a great start. Foundational.
Which points above might help you gain “a feeling or belief that you can do something well or succeed at something?”
How can you help another person build their confidence?

Which Truth Are You Listening To?

The “great philosopher” Pearl Baily once said: “You never find yourself until you face the truth.”

Any time someone mentions truth I tend to slow down and pay attention. I agree with her, with qualifications.

There are at least two truths about ourselves in any given situation: the truth of where we have been and what we have done, and the truth of who we are and where we are going.

The truth worth facing.

The truth worth facing. Psalm 139 is often called the identity Psalm.

Which Truth Are You Listening To?

First, there is the truth of where we have been and what we have done.

When I look back at my life I can see mistakes, bad choices and failures. The things I did, like drinking “like a fish” until I was 21. Or the things I didn’t do, like choosing to look aside, refusing to help, the way the Pharisees did in the parable of the good Samaritan. Those things all too often shout louder than the positive achievements and hard-earned victories. That looking behind and seeing the negative is what Larry Poland refers to as the accusation gap. If we focus on the negative past choices and actions, they scream at us as long as we let them. Listening to accusations, no matter how true they are in relation to what happened in the past, causes them to become our own definition of who we are. It is a trap. We are in trouble, unable to forgive ourselves. We become stuck as the old tapes tie us down and keep us from moving forward.

Fortunately, that is not the end.

Second, there is the truth of who we are and where we are going.

Notice the subtle difference? In the second I am not looking at my actions but my being. I look at who God says I am and who He created me to be. I am not a human doing. Because of Christ’s death and resurrection, those who accept that gift are reconciled to God. All those accusations are met with “Forgiven” & “Paid for on the cross.” The truth is, I am a new creation, the old has gone and the new has come. I am free from the past and am able to move into my eternal life, here, today. The past and it’s accusations only have power over me if I give them that power.

God defines me as His chosen child, part of His royal priesthood, His bride! I am fearfully and wonderfully made, designed to carry the good fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control.

He knows me perfectly. Every hair on my head is individually numbered, and He knows the exact number of each one! He knows us in even more detail than that. And He declares day and night and night and day; “I love you with an everlasting love!” “I’ll never let you down, never walk off and leave you!” “You have been bought with a price!” God says, “ I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.”

Yes, my past happened. That is truth. And it is all part of making me who I am today. But the other truth is the love of God and His abundant, constantly over-flowing grace to live in the truths of how He sees me, of who I am, not what I did.

I can embrace the past, thanking God for how He has used it to bring me to this point, teaching me about His love and care for me. At the same time I let go of the accusations, embracing truths of God’s forgiveness and His definition of me. From that place of acceptance I become able to allow His love and grace to flow through me to others.

Every human being on the planet is created in the image of God. Freedom and good are here for us to reach for. Or we can run the old tapes.

Time to face the truth and find yourself.

Which truth are you listening to? Like most of us I walk in both. I am a work in progress.

Which truth do you want to listen to? (No “Yeah buts…” allowed =} that might attempt to justify staying stuck.) God is calling us all into freedom. “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. (Rom 12:2a) Choose and ask Abba for the courage to flow in His grace. He is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all we can ask or even imagine!

Let the Fire Fall!

I have a friend who REALLY does not like the song “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine….”

Old style Franciscan Oil Lamp.

Old style Franciscan Oil Lamp.

The reason being, this person is a FIRE person.

What do I mean by that? Some of us want to be so on fire for the things of the Kingdom of God that a tiny flame is not enough. The hunger is for a consuming fire. Or maybe a blazing burning bush like Moses saw in the desert, that was not actually consuming the bush it was burning. It could only be God!

Now, don’t get me wrong, I like the little flames, like the oil lamp. That single flame can bring great illumination to the darkest of places. It is essential in the plan of God.

But this Sunday, the Church calendar celebrates Pentecost. For ten days after Jesus ascended from earth to return to glory, the disciples gathered to pray for the power from on high that Jesus had promised. And then it came. Like a violent rushing wind and tongues of fire!

“Let the fire fall, let the wind blow, let the glory come down!” (Jason Upton song)

York Beach. ME

On the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit came in great power with signs and wonders. Peter, aflame with the Holy Spirit stood and preached the Gospel to the crowds. Siting, among others,  the prophet Joel:

 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams;
even on my male servants and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.
And I will show wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below,
blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;
the sun shall be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood,
before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.
And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’”

 

3,000 people were added to the church that day, because the power of the Holy Spirit had come. Ephesians 1 says that all believers are sealed with the Holy Spirit. Colossians 2:27 tells us we have Christ in us, “the hope of glory.”

We disciples of Christ have the Holy Spirit, but we need to yield to the Lordship of the father, Son and Spirit. As we yield, the word of Joel are fulfilled: And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’”

As much as I like the idea of signs and wonders, It’s really all about winning souls to Christ for eternity. Indeed the greatest sign and wonder!

I want the power of God! I want to see signs & wonders! I want to see people healed of cancer and throwing away crutches and wheel chairs! BUT If I lose sight of the fact that all of this is to demonstrate the Love of God and save them from an eternity separated from that love and His perfect goodness, I am nothing.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned,but have not love, I gain nothing.” (1 Cor. 13)

As we come to Pentecost this year, please join me in asking our loving heavenly father to set us aflame with His love.

Abba, I come before you acknowledging my lack of love and of power to change even myself, let alone heal anyone else. I know ONLY YOU are able to perform the miracle of love, bringing healing to what is seen and what is unseen. And yet you have chosen me, to represent you here. You have called me to love you with all my heart, soul, mind and strength, and to love my neighbor as myself. So, I come humbly to You this Pentecost and every day. I ask you to fill me a fresh with your Holy Spirit.  Empower me to be a loving witness for you in every sphere of influence you have assigned me to. And yes, I ask you to use me to be a blaze for you. I yield myself to you. I ask boldly to be an agent of signs and wonders to bring YOU glory! May Your Kingdom come and Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven!

“Let the fire fall, let the wind blow, let the glory come down!”