Letting Go of Cons

Recently I talked to a friend who feels hopeless about her marriage. During our conversation these words which expressed her frustration stood out to me:

“I just can’t control what he’s doing.”

I thought how often that has been a frustration in my relationships.

I confess I have often tried to control the other person when what they did bothered me. But what I’ve learned along the way is that I can’t control what the other person does, but I can control my reaction to it.

As I thought about this, some other words which begin with “con” came to my mind. I realized when I feel overwhelmed by my inability to control others, instead of having a godly response, I can fall into the trap of these three additional “con” words.

The first one is condescension. I begin to look down on the other person and view their behavior as so much worse than anything I would ever do. The conclusion I come to is: “I’m better than you.” Condescension is fueled by pride and goes against God’s instruction to “in humility count others more significant than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3 ESV)

The second word that came to mind is contention. I looked up the word and read this: “heated disagreement.” Some of the synonyms listed were: dispute, argument, discord, conflict, friction, strife, dissension, disharmony.” When I think of the word contention this verse comes to mind: “It is better to live in a corner of a roof than in a house shared with a contentious woman” Proverbs 21:9 NASB

The third word which came to my mind that can flow from frustration over not being able to control, was condemnation. The dictionary defines the word this way: “the expression of very strong disapproval; censure; the action of condemning someone to a punishment; sentencing.” Synonyms for condemnation are: criticism, denunciation, vilification, reproof.

As I contemplated these three words, condescension, contention, and condemnation, I saw that my friend was engaged in all three. I realized, too, that often I let these three “cons” be my reaction to not being able to control people in my life, especially my husband, my children, and my grandchild.

I thought more about this and wondered how I could react differently.

Three other words came to mind. These words started with “com.” They are communication, compassion, and comfort.

How different these words are from the first three, and what a difference they make in my relationships when I embrace them.

My contemplation on this subject continued, and I thought that sometimes the One I can’t control is God. And when I can’t get Him to do what I want Him to do, I can react with condescension and contention. I confess I sometimes act as if I know better than God and at times I contend with Him to try to get Him to do my bidding. So far I haven’t condemned God, but that’s what people do when they lose their faith in God and refuse to connect to Him.

I’m glad I had my conversation with this friend. I learned how often I can have a bad reaction when I feel frustrated that I can’t control the negative behaviors of others or God allowing negative circumstances into my life.

Instead of doing the three cons: condescension, contention, or condemnation, I can choose communication (with God communicating is prayer, which I neglect when I’m in the trap of being upset that God allowed trials, traumas, or tragedies), compassion, and comfort. Although I never considered before the act of being compassionate toward God or offering comfort to Him, when I’m pleasing Him by trusting Him, perhaps I am doing just that.

God lavishes these three on me on a regular basis as I draw close to Him—even when I’ve blown it.

That’s what I suggested to my friend–drawing close to God. I offered to pray with her. She refused.

This thought hit me just now. I do feel frustrated that I can’t control her loss of faith in God–her falling from grace. But I refuse to give in to condescension, contention, or condemnation.

Lord, help me to continue to communicate with her, have compassion for her, and comfort her as she battles hopelessness.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JT0k3xioiwc

Love & The Outcome–When We Love

 

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Too Blessed to Stay Depressed Repost

Lately I’ve battled depression. This came when I looked too long at the difficult circumstances in my life rather than on the beauty and wonder of the Lord. A few of the circumstances that kept my eyes too long are the unexpected death of a long-time friend of my husband’s and mine who had been healthy his whole life until two months before his sudden death, the continued rebellion of a loved one whose defiance affects my life and hurts hers, and continued rejection of the Lord by those who are in difficult situations but yet refuse to call out to Him.

Today I’m reposting a blog I wrote in June 2016 when I was caught in depression. Reading this again helped me to see how locking my gaze on the negative aspects of my life and this world can bring me down.

Keeping my eyes on the Lord lifts me up and even fills me with joy as I think about how good He has been to me.

I’ve changed the song at the end of the blog. I pray it and this blog bless your day.

This was first posted on June 13, 2016

Recently depression washed over me like a tidal wave.

What contributed to my being thrown down by this wave of sadness was receiving bad news from several sources: a friend’s daughter had suddenly become ill and was going to die, a cousin’s daughter’s boyfriend was killed in a car accident, someone had come to the home of a loved one and threatened him with a gun.

Then there were disturbing news stories–five bicyclists were killed by a hit and run driver in Michigan, a mother of four died while on the beach after an umbrella came out of the sand and was hurled through the air by the wind striking her in the chest triggering a heart attack and then death. Another disturbing news story was that of the Stanford Olympic-hopeful swimmer/rapist who, encouraged by his father, refused to take responsibility for his crime and seemed to view himself as a victim and showed no remorse. Then to add insult to her injury the judge gave him a light sentence.

My heart went out to the true victim who courageously confronted her rapist in the courtroom. This story brought back memories of my lack of courage when I was raped in my college years being given a date rape drug by someone I saw as a friend. I did not go to the police but instead blamed myself for being stupid and hanging out with someone I knew took drugs.

Also on this day of depression several people had rejected me in various ways. Add to that not sleeping very well in recent days.

Here I was on a staycation on Clearwater Beach getting “away” to complete some writing projects with my daughter (she’s a writer too), and instead of enjoying being in one of my favorite places on earth—near the beach—I began to wallow in self-pity.

My daughter was staying overnight at her house on this particular day, so being alone and feeling lonely added to the problem.

The bottom line is that I was focusing on negatives. I hadn’t prayed yet that day as thoughts of Why should I pray? My life is filled with unanswered prayers went through my mind. My Bible lay on the coffee table unopened when I usually read the Word every morning. Instead I had turned to the world’s food instead of the food of the Word to deal with my emotions, which caused me to sink deeper.

Working on my writing seemed impossible, and the passion I felt for my projects the day before dissolved into dust, and I even wondered if I was deluding myself as I wrote.

I should have known that the enemy was involved in this attack of depression. It seems that any time I sit down to write God’s truth, the enemy can be right there trying to fill my mind with lies. On this day, I let down my guard and listened.

Finally, I called out to God for help. On my computer, I typed out all the things that were bothering me and gave the list to the Lord. Blessings came to mind, and I rejoiced over how good God had been to me over the years. Instead of focusing on bad news, God turned my mind to the Good News of the Gospel and how it and He had transformed my life. Here is part of the prayer I wrote:

Lord, I give all of these issues to You. Please help me not to focus on the negative. Let me keep my focus on You rather than on my problems, the problems of people I love, and the problems of the church and of this world.

I recalled how earlier that week a reader of my blog had written telling me how deeply depressed she was. I confessed that before sending her words of encouragement, pride had entered in as I thought then how I could never sink that low again. Perhaps God had allowed this battle with depression to show me how easily I could succumb if I didn’t stay on guard and to give me compassion for those who battled ongoing severe depression.

It was already evening when I turned to the Lord, and I forced myself to go down to the pier/beach. I brought my guitar and played and sang God songs for the people walking by. I felt I was partly singing to myself the words I needed to hear:  “What a friend we have in Jesus, All our sins and griefs to bear. What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer. Oh what peace we often forfeit, Oh what needless pain we bear, All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer…”

Good things happened: there was a beautiful sunset. There was a rainbow. The ocean breezes encouraged me like the embrace of a close friend. I saw two street performer acts, which were good, and I laughed at the humor of these young men. A lady said she liked the “Jesus Is The Anchor of My Soul” shirt I was wearing.

The next morning after a time of reading the Word and prayer, I wrote, “Lord, I’m listening” and then the following came to my mind:

ELAINE, DO NOT FRET OR WORRY. I AM STILL IN CONTROL. DO NOT LISTEN TO THE VOICE OF THE ENEMY WHO DESIRES TO DISCOURAGE YOU, SO YOU WILL NOT DO MY WILL, AND SO YOU WILL STOP BELIEVING THAT I LOVE YOU, THAT I HAVE AN EXCELLENT PLAN FOR YOUR FUTURE, AND THAT THE BEST IS YET TO COME. DO NOT BELIEVE HIS LIES. BELIEVE WHAT I SPEAK TO YOU. LISTEN DAILY FOR MY VOICE. DO NOT ALLOW YOURSELF TO SINK INTO DEPRESSION. LEARN TO SING “TRUST IN YOU” BY LAUREN DAIGLE. REMEMBER THAT I AM FOR YOU AND NOT AGAINST YOU. I AM NOT BLAMING YOU OR SHAMING YOU. THAT IS COMING FROM THE ENEMY. REST IN PEACE.

Once again I couldn’t help but think of the verse that often has come to mind on the other side of a bout with depression, which David wrote on the other side of his (See verses 1-4):

I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me. Psalm 13:6

“Trust in You” by Lauren Daigle

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His Love Never Fails Repost

Lately I feel frustrated again because I’m unable to get others to do the right thing. God brought me to a blog I wrote in July of 2012. He reminded me that I am not a failure because I can’t get others to do right, but I fail when I don’t allow His love to flow through me to the person who refuses to follow Him.

Please read this repost of that blog.

His Love Never Fails

First posted on July 3, 2012

“I am a failure.” Those were the words that paraded through my mind.

I brought these words to the Lord and asked, “Is that true?”

This is what came. You could not get this person to love you at the moment, but that does not make you a failure.

Then the Lord convinced me my goal is not to get others to love me or to do the right thing. Instead it is to love others. The verse that comes to mind is:

…Love each other as I have loved you. (John 15:12 NIV 1984)

If I pray for the Lord’s love to flow through me to others, this is what I know: His love never fails.

I confess I’ve been at it again—attempting to get people to do the right things, to believe the right things, to give themselves fully to the Lord. And once again I feel like I’m failing miserably. They’re not budging. Their love affairs with the world are too enticing for them to let go.

So that’s when my “I am a failure” thought came recently. I was with one of these people that I’m in the habit of trying to fix. There was a specific “right thing to do” at that moment, which I encouraged this individual to do. Instead of responding positively to my urging, the person declared by their action, “No, I’d rather do the wrong thing. That rule about the right thing in this situation applies to other people and not to me.”

I couldn’t help but think about what our pastor had taught recently—that in order for people to live with themselves and go on doing wrong things, they just redefine what’s right and what’s wrong.

I do spend time trying to define to others what is right based on the Word of God.  What a waste of breath, I’m realizing, because they just say, “I define that issue differently than you do.” It feels so wrong to me when they say that—like someone declaring, “I don’t care what the dictionary says. This is how I define that word.”

After my conflict with the individual who sees right and wrong differently than I do in so many areas, and yet proclaims to be a Christian, I spent time alone thinking and praying. God convinced me once again that my words will not change this person’s mind. God’s Word will—when the person decides to turn there and listen.

Sometimes God allows His truth to flow through me to others, but in this case He’s showing me that’s not going to work.  I can pray, but I’m not to “say,” so God can speak to this stubborn soul. I am to show mercy, and be kind and loving—even if this person isn’t kind, loving, and merciful toward me.

And I am to hold to this—that God isn’t calling me to get “difficult” people to love me or to do the loving or the right things, but He’s calling me to love others the way He loves me.  I’m still learning how to be successful at that.

Lord, continue to teach me how to love like You do. Here I am– Your willing student, wanting to do the right thing.

Will you join me in praying that prayer?

 

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Remind Me Who I Am Repost

Not long ago someone I love called me a name. She said she did it out of anger, but it still hurt deeply. It seemed to me you only use that word with people you hate. I looked up the definition of this word and read: “an irritating or contemptible person.”

Is that what I am? I wondered. Then I looked up contemptible and read: “Deserving contempt; despicable.” Other synonyms for contemptible are: detestable hateful, reprehensible deplorable, disgraceful, shameful, low, mean, unworthy, worthless.”

It took me a while to reject what this person said about me and proclaim, “I don’t receive that,” like my Bible study teacher taught me.

A couple days ago, I ran across a blog from 2012 that spoke to the issue battled: being tempted to define myself by what others say I am rather than by what God says. Often the people who speak unkindly to me reject God or a truth He brings before they reject me. Such was the case with my loved one.

Here is that blog. Reading it lifted my spirits and even brought me joy as I was reminded how God sees me, and that how others define me doesn’t really matter.

I pray for this loved one that she will see herself as God sees her since I believe she feels bad about herself, which causes her to lash out at others. Lord, please remind her who she is.

Remind Me Who I Am Repost

First posted on June 18, 2012

Recently I read a blog written by a seeker of truth—someone who didn’t present himself as a born again Christian but who put some truth into what he wrote. One challenge he gave the reader was to explore the “I am” statements he says or thinks about himself throughout the day. The conclusion the blogger came to is that those statements may not be true.

I realized that I still slip into saying negative “I ams” when I’m having a bad day: I am a failure. I am a mess. I am not good enough.

Before I knew the Lord, when these statements came to mind, I believed them. And I allowed them to dictate how I lived.

After reading that blog, I left a comment:

“For years I defined who I was–mostly with negative statements about myself. Then I received Christ as my Savior, and He saved me not only from hell in the future but also from the present bondage and pain of these lies I had used for so long to define myself. Now I can be joyful and free as I embrace who He says I am. Sometimes I need to be reminded.”

Then I put the link to an Internet site I found that tells who I am in Christ. Here are a few reminders from that site:

 I AM GOD’S…

 child John 1:12

 friend James 2:23

 chosen Ephesians 1:4

 beloved Romans 1:7/ 2 Thess 2:13

 precious jewel Malachi 3:17

 I AM…

 free forever from sin’s power Romans 6:14

 loved eternally 1 Peter 1:5 /

 not condemned Romans 8:1-2

 his sheep Ps 23 / Psalms 100:3/ John 10:14

 a citizen of heaven 1 Peter 2:11

A couple of days later, a friend sent me a link to the song “Remind Me Who I Am” by Jason Gray. I had heard the song before but because of reading the blog and then receiving and listening anew to Jason’s song, I decided God wanted to remind me who I am in Him.

Perhaps it’s because as I go through the valley of suicide grief I have had some “I am” thoughts that aren’t true ie “I am a failure because I didn’t save my brother’s life,” and “I am not loved by God because He allowed this to happen to a member of my family.”

Today I am holding to who and what God says I am. All of them wrapped together come down to the most significant which is “I am eternally loved by Him.” No circumstance, no fault of mine, no words or actions of others can change that fact. Now there’s a reason to celebrate.

How about you? Do you define who you are and/or allow others to do so? Are you ready to fully embrace the “I am” truths God is holding out to you and to all who belong to Him?

If You are not born again but would like to be so that all of these “I am” statements will apply to you, say this prayer poem written by Billy Graham:

Jesus, You died upon a cross/And rose again to save the lost/Forgive me now of all my sin/Come be my Saviour, Lord, and Friend. Change my life and make it new/And help me Lord/to live for You.

Link to “I am” lists: http://prayertoday.org/2004/PDF/Guides/Who-I-Am.PDF

Link to “Remind Me Who I Am” by Jason Gray:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QSIVjjY8Ou8&feature=related

 

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Why Hearts Set Free? Repost

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about freedom and how far God has brought me. These thoughts come each time I hear the song “Freedom Hymn” by Austin French. Today I’m reposting my very first blog from May 2010. In that blog I mentioned four areas where I still needed more freedom: eating issues, codependency, depression, negative thinking. Since I wrote that blog, God has brought such freedom in these four areas and many more. In some I didn’t even realize I was in bondage until God showed me.

Today I realize anew that God is dedicated to my freedom. As I move closer to Him and desire freedom, knowing He’s the only one who can free me, and that I’m not able to do it on my own, He frees me. Freedom is one of the greatest gifts God gives me. These blogs I’ve written over the years tell about my journey toward freedom, and I pray they help others to desire freedom and become more free.

I pray you will fully embrace the freedom God has for you.

WHY HEARTS SET FREE?

First posted on May 12, 2010

One day when I decided to run instead of walk on my daily two-mile trek to try to stay in shape, a verse came to mind.

I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free. Psalm 119:32 NIV 1984

Ever since this verse has been a theme for a certain area of my life.  You might call that area “heart health.” No, it’s not the physical kind. It’s the health of my inner self.

At the time I was in counseling with “Freedom Ministries.” As I opened my eyes during those counseling sessions, I saw how much bondage I was in. But I also saw how far the Lord had brought me. And I discovered that His desire was to have me be completely free.

Not too long after embracing Psalm 119:32, I interviewed Dennis Jernigan. He had been in bondage to homosexuality, but was married and had nine children. I remembered one essential theme of our interview.  He related he was so much freer than he used to be as far as all the areas of his life, but he was not as free as he wanted to be—that freedom was a process.

That’s how I feel about my life right now. I am so much freer than I used to be. But still I have a ways to go. I am free from alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, sexual sin and other bondages of my old life. But I still struggle with eating issues, codependency, depression, negative thinking. Yet even in these areas I’m more free than I used to be.

Trouble comes when I try to convince myself I’m already completely free.  I close my eyes to how God wants to keep working in me to heal me and set me free.  Sometimes I shift the focus to trying to set others free—ie my family members.

When I keep my eyes open and focused on Him and cooperate in regards to where He wants me to go and do what He wants me to do, I move closer to the goal of complete freedom.

I don’t have to be discouraged that I’m still not completely free. Instead I can celebrate how far God has brought me on this path called “being set free.” It is a process, and even in the process I can find joy—the joy of knowing He loves me enough to help me be set free and embrace all the benefits of the cross.

Will you join me here each week as I blog about different aspects of being set free? Let’s encourage one another toward freedom in Him. Then we can live the lives He has called us to and be all He wants us to be.

Are there areas in your life where you need freedom? Bring them to the Lord and ask for His counsel. He wants to free you.  And along the way, let’s celebrate the freedom we have in Christ.

“Freedom Hymn” by Austin French

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r-VfFTVu-6E

Behind The Song, “Freedom Hymn”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uyFl04SBImU

 

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Waiting for the Lord Repost

Once again I face a time of waiting. And I struggle as I do so. I looked back over my past posts on the subject of waiting, and the following encouraged me. I continue to desire to honor the Lord by having the right heart attitude as I wait.

Along with this repost of this former blog, I’ve added a song, which has lifted my spirits lately and goes along with how we wait.

God bless you as you wait for and hope in Him.

Waiting For The Lord 

First Posted on February 19, 2012

One day the Lord impressed me with a fact. So much of the anxiety in my life has had to do with waiting—especially waiting for answers to prayer.

Since then I’ve thought a lot about waiting.

I’ve discovered that waiting is about trusting, and it’s imperative that I be willing not only to wait but to do so with a better attitude.

As I’ve talked to and observed other Christians, I discovered having difficulty with waiting is a universal problem. I’ve also found that in waiting my faith is tested.

My desire is to pass God’s waiting tests with flying colors and honor Him as I do. And even if I’m feeling weary, I can choose to wait with a thankful, hope-filled heart.

The good news is that as I wait on the Lord with the proper attitude, He takes away my weariness and draws me close to Himself. Isaiah 40:31 reminds me of this and brings such comfort to my heart—even as I continue to wait for God’s promises to be fulfilled in my life.

“But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wings and mount up [close to God] as eagles [mount up to the sun]; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint or become tired.” AMPC

I long to embrace this verse in a deeper way than I ever have before. Today I choose to believe that during the waiting God will supply strength, power, and energy and that on the other side of waiting are wonders beyond description.

Will you join me in waiting expectantly and looking to and for the Lord in every difficulty in life? What joy we can have—even as we wait.

“Do It Again” Elevation Worship

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jFrDmEAFLgY

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Remembering Who God Is Repost

Here is a repost of a blog I posted on September 23, 2013. As I read it again, I’m reminded of God’s faithfulness and His desire to engage in the battles I fight against the enemy and to even fight those battles for me. Back then, I faced some different trials than I do today. But some of the trials are the same—the same people and the same challenges. Through it all, I can remember who He is and remain grateful for how faithful He’s been through the years.

I’ve added a song at the end of the blog.

REMEMBERING WHO GO IS

First posted on September 23, 2018

Recently I went through a difficult time where I felt my faith being tested and even shaken.

Since then, I’ve been reflecting on how the enemy engages me in battle and wants me to use his strategies to deal with conflicts. Doing so only makes matters worse and causes him to succeed in his desires to kill, steal, and destroy in my relationships.

Lately God has been reminding me of ways to handle difficult times with His strategies. This leads to my growing in faith and becoming more like Him.

This week God has been whispering to my soul: “Remember who I am.” The enemy wants me to forget who my Lord is and how powerful, loving, and ever-present He is in my life.

As I embrace who He truly is rather than slipping back into believing the lies I hear about Him from the enemy or from those who don’t know Him or are against Him, I have confidence to face anything this world brings my way. As I call on the names of God and remind the enemy who He is rather than cowering, I’m growing in strength.

In Ava Pennington’s book, One Year Alone With God 366 Devotions on the Names of God,she has a devotion for each day of the year that centers on the names of God and/or His attributes. I highly recommend this book to build or rebuild that strong sense of who God is.

Here is some of what she says about the name El Shaddai—God Almighty, All-sufficient God:

“…By El Shaddai’s power and sufficiency, Sarai, now ‘Sarah’ (Gen. 17:15) bore a son. Almighty God did not need Abraham’s help to fulfill His word then, and He does not need our help to fulfill it today.

El Shaddai, I confess my lack of trust in Your sufficiency in difficult circumstances.

In what situation is El Shaddai calling me to wait on Him for the solution to my problem?”

During hard times, the Lord of hosts is another one of my favorite names for God.

One author says of The Lord of Hosts: “This is a title that emphasizes God’s rule over every other power in the material and spiritual universe. The term ‘Lord of Hosts’ is used 282 times in the Bible. It is a military term meaning ‘God of Battles.’”

In 1 Samuel 17:45 David says to Goliath:

You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.

I do have giants in my life—larger-than-life problems looming before me. I look at them and they seem enormous and ugly, and I feel small– even puny–in comparison. In reality they are impossible to deal with by myself, but with the Lord of hosts, I can defeat them.  As I call on my God–the Lord of Hosts–He will win more battles for me.

When one of my daughters was a rebellious teen, I called on God as the Lord of hosts. Oh, the miracles He brought and continues to bring into her life and in our relationship.

This week and in the weeks, months and even years ahead, I want to remember who God is and call on Him specifically by the many names listed in Scripture as I face each new challenge of my life. It seems God loves when I do that.

Lord, remind me again and again to remember who You are and to call upon You.

 

The following song is one from the 1990s. Back then it encouraged me so much.

“The Battle Belongs to the Lord” by the Maranatha Singers

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DMZ8D6nTKhg

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