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Fight the Good Fight

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Gonna get real for a minute. Someone posted this [pic] on the Team 383 group page, and it struck my center. I am fighting some unexpected pain this a.m., so was already on the “down” side – and I FEEL this pic. I posted this comment on the pic where originally posted:

The “core” issue for me has always been one of this voice SCREAMING in my head that I’m a failure, I’m undesirable, “death would be preferable” .. This voice comes back even now – I’ve lost 156 lbs! But this voice wants me to gain it all back, go back to what I WAS without regard for everything I now am and everything I’m FIGHTING to become. Being able to SEE this voice for what it is – EVIL – is the first step towards being able to call it out, speak to it, call it a LIAR, and take the reins again. How I WISH the “temptation” would go away, never to return!!

How I need the FRESH mercy and grace of God EVERY morning.


Some practical steps (in no particular order) to get me “back to right thinking” —

  • Intentionally SMILE (my “resting” face can tend to look mad).
  • Along with that, intentionally being “cheerful” when greeting another person (my temptation is to “push people away” until I can get a handle on myself).
  • PRAY
  • Remind myself of my blessings (literally count them!) AND my progress.
  • Practice being thankful for SPECIFIC things, no matter how small.
  • Identify the lies as lies, preach the truth to myself, speaking w/authority of Jesus OVER the lies.
  • Treat any physical pain to lessen stress load (or sleep! if deprived!).
  • Identify some LITTLE things I can accomplish in the next hour (hour by hour) – and DO them (sort laundry, drink 20 oz water, go for a walk, etc).
  • Watch a funny movie or clip – find ways to force myself to LAUGH (to take back control over my emotions).
  • GET UP! Move! (I have found that sitting or “lying down” with the negative patterns is a huge momentum killer – or worse – it drives me further in to listening to the bad thoughts/voices/feelings. Sometimes just simply physically GETTING UP can be just enough momentum to ignite my motivation to choose other, better steps.)
  • RECOGNIZE external signs of the internal attack/negative reality (too quick to “snap” at someone/something for no reason, taking something personally, tempted to swear, etc.) to catch it EARLY. It’s easier to kill a mosquito than a rattlesnake!
  • Listen to familiar/well-loved worship music (it’s not enuf to just “distract” myself, I need to “TURN” myself in a different direction).
  • Read a book/article/Scripture that is in keeping with my goals/new heart/mind.
  • Find someone to speak a word of encouragement into (calling up a friend doesn’t always work for me cuz it’s a temptation to wallow in the negative emotion or put too much value on “their good opinion” of me, but I DO need to get better about learning to ask for help, too! Even if it’s just to say to a trusted inner-circle friend/sister/brother – I am really struggling with THIS right now (and NAME the specific thoughts/feelings)….).

I am very sure I could list more, but this is a start. ❤

Add comments with your ideas/suggestions?

Blessings!

~Leah

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Rescued from Self-Loathing!

read this quote, today:  “Most of the teaching on love in the church centers on loving God or other people. Very little of it talks about loving ourselves. We have been taught how to subjugate ourselves, but not how to love ourselves without being selfish. Loving ourselves out of our soul is selfish; loving ourselves because of what God has done in our spirit is beautiful. Some of us have never learned that distinction.” ~Graham Cooke

I responded thusly:  “I see what you’re trying to get at, here, but I humbly beg to differ because of these things, biblically speaking:  a) Jesus did *not* command us to “love ourselves” as that was already presumed, and is more often talked about in Scripture as the root of our PROBLEM, namely that we love/seek-after ourselves too much, b) this idea of “loving” ourselves IS taught very MUCH in the modern church (it’s not a “neglected doctrine”!), though I’ll grant that no distinction is often made with regard to what you describe as “loving ourselves because of what God has done in our spirit,” BUT I daresay, c) this “distinction” – while attempting to hit on a real truth, is nevertheless a false distinction, because the truth is that when we LOVE GOD for who he is and what he has done in spite of the fact we are “unlovable” in our fallen state (while we were yet his enemies), the FRUIT of this loving God *does* produce a supernatural ability in us to NOT LOATHE ourselves, because of grace.  But “not loathing” (or let’s call this “accepting” ourselves BECAUSE of the work God has done to redeem, and HE has MADE us acceptable) is NOT the same thing as “loving” ourselves, but instead we are commanded to DIE to ourselves, and I think THIS is in fact the distinction that most of the modern church is missing…..”

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see the so-called “proof” text for the presumed command to “love” ourselves, but the command is NOT to love self, but to love OTHERS:

Matthew 22:34-40

Amplified Bible (AMP)

Now when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced (muzzled) the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of their number, a lawyer, asked Him a question to test Him. Teacher, which kind of commandment is great and important (the principal kind) in the Law? [Some commandments are light—which are heavy?] And He replied to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind (intellect). This is the great (most important, principal) and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as [you do] yourself. These two commandments sum up and upon them depend all the Law and the Prophets.

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another often used “proof” text is Ephesians 5:23-30 where the Apostle Paul talks about how a husband loves his wife “as his own body” ~ the “presumption” again is that we love/care for ourselves, but people take this to be further “command” to love ourselves, but in context, the command is to husbands to love their wives (someone OTHER than themselves).

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and below is the actual command from Jesus concerning dying to, or “denying” of our self ~ which is opposite of what is typically taught in most of today’s churches (and more in keeping with loving OTHERS over self):

Matthew 16:24-26

Amplified Bible (AMP)

Then Jesus said to His disciples, If anyone desires to be My disciple, let him deny himself [disregard, lose sight of, and forget himself and his own interests] and take up his cross and follow Me cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying, also]. For whoever is bent on saving his [temporal] life [his comfort and security here] shall lose it [eternal life]; and whoever loses his life [his comfort and security here] for My sake shall find it [life everlasting]. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life [his blessed life in the kingdom of God]? Or what would a man give as an exchange for his [blessed] life [in the kingdom of God]?
see also:

Romans 12:3, 9-10

Amplified Bible (AMP)

For by the grace (unmerited favor of God) given to me I warn everyone among you not to estimate and think of himself more highly than he ought [not to have an exaggerated opinion of his own importance], but to rate his ability with sober judgment, each according to the degree of faith apportioned by God to him.   ….   [Let your] love be sincere (a real thing); hate what is evil [loathe all ungodliness, turn in horror from wickedness], but hold fast to that which is good. Love one another with brotherly affection [as members of one family], giving precedence and showing honor to one another.

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Dear friends, let us love ONE ANOTHER as Christ commands and as HE enables by the power of his Holy Spirit.  Let us love in the way HE has loved us, and as the FRUIT of our loving HIM first with all our hearts, souls, minds and strength!

God help us be discerning, and help us truly “die” to ourselves in keeping with the Gospel of your grace, NOT that we loathe ourselves for sin, because that also denies your GRACE, and the fact you have RESCUED us from ourselves!, but rather that we simply have our gaze so fixed on YOU! (Heb. 12:1-3) that our ability to look our ourselves too long – whether for love or hate or anything in between – would grow strangely dim in the light of your glory and grace!

~Leah

Two Faced? ~ part 4

Only 3 observations, today:

1)  In continuing this journey, I find it worth adding in to the discussion, particularly to the “two points” at the end of the previous post – CLINGING to the Word of God, that is the ACT of BELIEVING God for his promises, is inextricably wrapped up in OBEYING his Word.  So I am not by any means simply talking about the power of positive thinking, but actually taking God at his Word, and DOING what he says.

Most recently I have been spending much time in the Gospel of John, and this is Jesus’ repeated theme – that he has come as the WORD of God, to REVEAL the Father, and to do so by SPEAKING only what the Father would have him speak, by SAYING what the Father would have him say.  In the other Gospels, you see much more of what Jesus said as far as holiness, right living, etc.  In John, written later than the other 3 books, it’s clear John’s purpose is to drive home the point that JESUS reveals the Father, and that we receive the WORD of God by DOING what he says….

2)  Also, the Lord brought home to my mind 2 verses that have been very DEFINING for me in the past few years, and it was as if in reminding me of these verses again, he was bringing clarity back into a lot of what has emerged as confusion throughout this particular “Two Faced?” journey which has now been going on several weeks.

  • What does God require of me?  See Micah 6:8 ~ “He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?”
  • What do I have to offer God?  See Psalm 19:14 ~ “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.”

What can I do?  a) DO JUSTLY, b) LOVE MERCY, and c) WALK HUMBLY WITH MY GOD

And as to whatever “whole” of me there is, I think this a) WORDS OF MY MOUTH and b) MEDITATIONS OF MY HEART has to be about the best distinguishing of my internal and external worlds I’ve ever encountered.

3)  Lastly, I have had a “chance” conversation with my roommate who happens also to be an Occupational Therapist by vocation, and a few phrases in to what started as a very normal, giggly conversation about our various quirks, of which I had many, her tone changed, and she began to speak about my vocalized frustrations with myself as not mere “quirks” but, in fact, actual “symptoms” of a condition of which I have never even heard.

She turned immediately to some of her own medical resources, and we got online, and within minutes, she was reading to me lists of symptoms associated with this condition that became glaring sirens in my ears, as if lighthouses suddenly lit up along the shoreline bringing the horizon of the approaching continent into full view, and I’ve only begun to “connect the dots.”  Undoubtedly I will have more to say on this in coming days, but I am VERY confident this discovery is some of the fruit of the Lord’s work in my heart and mind over the past several weeks, even years, as I’ve been trying to dig deeper, and learn to be led by his Spirit as a “true son” (see Romans 8).  It makes sense out of a LOT of what has otherwise been shrouded in mystery even in my own memory.

There is definitely a spiritual reality to many of my struggles and inconsistencies; I am not by any means minimizing this.  If anything, for those of you who know me, I’m far more apt to OVER emphasize this reality.  But I think the Lord may also have finally unlocked for me the main physical snag of my “stuck zipper” analogy from a couple posts ago.

If you are reading this, would you pray with me for discernment and clarity and direction as I begin to seek out solutions in a HOPEFUL, and tangible way?

TO BE CONTINUED:

Two Faced? ~ part 3

How do you discern between “idols of your heart” and “desires of your heart”?

James 4 talks about how we do not have because we do not ask, and when we do ask, we do not receive, because we ask with wrong motives that we may spend what we get on our pleasures.  And James 5 goes on to expose how those who are rich (and I would say almost all of us in America fall into this category when you think globally and historically) are fattening themselves in the day of slaughter, hoarding and piling up for ourselves with less than no thought for our brothers….

Psalm 37 is oft quoted, especially v. 4, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart,” and I think it is oft quoted disingenuously.  So war breaks out between the “God is not your Santa Claus!” folks and the “God wants to bless and prosper you because he loves you; you’re his child!” folks.  (I used to be the first type, and though I fully advocate “dying to self” and all that entails, I have – by virtue of hanging my theological hat on that first hook for so long – been largely unable to comprehend or receive the FATHER love of God for me, even though I “believed” the truth of it….)

The best of biblical counselors teach that we set up expectations that others cannot righteously fulfill when our “desires” become “demands” become “I deserve!”s and “you owe me!”s.

Things we begin to expect from other people that we are primarily (first, NOT necessarily “only”) to receive as gifts from a loving, saving, holy, GOOD Father, God….

  • Help
  • Salvation (in various forms, not just from the penalty and power of sin!)
  • Honor
  • Approval
  • To be Loved (unconditionally, unfailingly)
  • Protection
  • Safety
  • Provision
  • Joy / Pleasure / Happiness

And because the human heart is so self-deceptive, (see Jeremiah 17:9), we can even desire these things from GOD himself, and yet they can become heart-idols as we desire (as some say) the “gifts” more than the “Giver.”  Even though these are both GOOD things AND things that God wants to provide for us!

So how do we both hold our “desires” with an open hand (not clinging too tightly to them), AND yet grieve before God in a “healthy/holy” way when these “desires” are seemingly unmet?  (I do not refer to them as “needs” per se – though I believe there are “needs” listed, here….But you could add to this confusion, how to discern between “need” and “want”?!)

Two Counsels

I have two counsels to offer myself (and you) in these matters.  Even as I prepare to write them, here, they seem overly simple to me, and yet I believe in my heart they are THE keys to abiding in the presence of God even as we examine ourselves, and lift up others (friends, family, abusers, offenders?) before God as an offering, in (a sacrifice of) praise and forgiveness and surrender.  Perhaps I will have opportunity to flesh these out in greater detail in future posts.  For now, I will merely list them.  And meditate on them.

  • Cling to the Word of God ~ Remembering and BELIEVING him for his promises.
  • Give thanks ~ Trusting that he inhabits the praises of his people.

TO BE CONTINUED:

Two Faced? ~ part 2

Not so much two-faced, rather more like broken-into-two-HALVES, I started this discussion concerning this kind of “imbalanced” maturity in my spirit, as if a zipper got jammed, and I can’t figure out how to untangle the teeth to get things back on track.

But I know there is revelation waiting for me, here.  So I’m recording some of my considerations for the reasons listed in my below post, and to paint a picture for myself of what, God willing, will be a remarkable transformation.  😉  This isn’t a “coming of age” story; perhaps it could be considered an “overcoming past abuses” story ~ I’ll ellaborate on this perhaps in a future entry; but it most definitely is a God-sanctifies-his-children or God-brings-the-broken-to-wholeness story.

And I think I’m in good company – The Apostle Paul refers to himself in different places in his letters as “Not-I-but-sin,” in one respect (Romans 7), and “Not-I-but-Christ” in another (Galatians 2:20-21).  So there is not a lot of surprise for ANY follower of Christ that we may have some measure of duality to our spirit this side of Glory.  BUT, then again, James writes to the new church that a “double minded man is unstable in all his ways.”  Easily tossed about. (James 1)  And Paul also uses this imagery of being tossed about, and connects it to childishness, and being easily deceived…. (Ephesians 4:11-16)

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Like waves crashing up against an un-anchored, bobbing mass in the sea ~

An un-captained, un-manned, a dead-weight, a directionless, unstable, ineffective mass

Waiting only to be capsized and sunk, or washed up on some remote island shore. 

Washed up.  Used up.  Sunk. 

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We even use these images to evoke similar meaning for people who are otherwise Undone.

And WHO would be satisfied by ending up like THAT?!  😉

So, I’m presented with a bit of a paradox ~ to achieve wholeness (is this the same thing as being singleminded? or of single purpose?), I must ask God for wisdom and “believe and not doubt,” (returning to James 1), which means I am in some manner coming from a place of singlemindedness even in the asking.

Ha!

That’s all right ~ I’m asking according to His PROMISE, not a mixed motive.  I KNOW he wants to heal me (Jeremiah 17); I just don’t yet know HOW.  Or how long this will take.  Put another way?  My wholeness is hinged to HIS faithfulness, and therefore I have a confident expectation.

A hint of the remedy?  Also “hidden” in the above referenced passages:

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Delighting in the law (Word) of God in my inner being, Christ IN me 

Gazing intently into the “perfect law that gives freedom” ~

and doing whatever HE says!

Doing my “part”, and building up his Body in love….

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So I am confident we’ll see a measure of maturing as I noticeably continue to grow in love for God AND others, instead of operating from a position of such self-preservation, or self-defensiveness, or self-glorification (which all have at their root some measure of self-deception, and not seeing God as he really is ~ ie: some “idolatry” setting itself up over and above God in my heart).

Today?  I am asking God for this one thing:

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“One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after:

that I may  dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,

to gaze upon  the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.” (Psalm 27:4)

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(Note, the whole of Psalm 27 may prove to be very much more relevant to this continuing reflection.  I think, perhaps, I should memorize this chapter….)

TO BE CONTINUED:

Two Faced? ~ part 1

1 Corinthians 13:11-13 ~ When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; now that I have become a man, I am done with childish ways and have put them aside. For NOW we are looking in a mirror that gives only a dim (blurred) reflection [of reality…], but THEN (when perfection comes) we shall see in reality and face to face!

NOW I know in part (imperfectly), but THEN I shall know and understand fully and clearly, even in the same manner as I have been fully and clearly known and understood by God!  And so faith, hope, love abide [faith—conviction and belief respecting man’s relation to God and divine things; hope—joyful and confident expectation of eternal salvation; love—true affection for God and man, growing out of God’s love for and in us], these three;

but the greatest of these is love.

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Typically, one doesn’t hope to hear from a loved one or friend that they have Two Faces. That is to say, I imagine this doesn’t make anyone’s list of top ten most desired compliments.

Would it surprise any of my friends, though, to learn that I have long been able to swing easily from the serious (deep) to the silly (ridiculous) and back again? I ENJOY both the clownishness of a Dick Van Dyke style pratfall, as well as pondering theological nuances in engrossing conversation over a snobbish and oh-so-tasty coffee or herbal infusion tea.

More than one of my online dating profiles over the years has contained reference to my fluidity as I move with ease from one mode into the other….and some of my dearest friends have highlighted this very “fluidity” as a strength, not a weakness.

But recently? I was given a good (if challenging) word by dear friends in Christ – not that I am two-faced, per se, as that implies disloyalty or hypocrisy (both of which character flaws I find detestable!), but rather that I am two HALVES.

Like I’ve been broken in half, and one part of me matured and grew into womanhood, and the other part of me did not.

While this might be part of what makes me socially adaptable on a humor level, spiritually this is NOT the Lord’s design for us. Rather, he desires our WHOLENESS. He would bring healing to ALL our broken places, and he would desire our maturity in all things.

This is NOT an anti-silliness post; not by any stretch!

But I’ll be exploring this further in future entries for the following reasons:

  • We can be a people prone to using the “ridiculous” as a way to hide from real pain, pain that the Lord wants to HEAL.
  • Having a personality that appreciates nuance in creativity all along the spectrum IS a strength – taking joy in the little things, as it were….But while throwing your “emotional weight” around might sometimes make you the life of the party, many other times you knock people over, or even wound some because you’re more aware of your SELF than you are aware of (or loving) others.
  • There are real reasons for why we “act out” – whether defensively, in anger, with humor, by taking over a meeting (thinking we’re “leading”), hiding from the crowd, or choosing to take offense – and whenever the root of those reasons is traced back to sin? (whether our own, or sins committed against us by others?) Christ longs to REDEEM us and make ALL things new.
  • The Word of God is fit for EVERY area of our lives.
  • God’s work of redemption in our heart and lives is to make us one with HIM, and in HIM, there is no division, there is no confusion.
  • If I can, by God’s grace, find where the “zipper” to my soul has gotten jammed, perhaps the Lord will allow me to fix it and be again made whole, as one garment, not fractured and vulnerable to the icy attacks of our spiritual enemy or motivated to do damage (however unintentionally) to others that I have otherwise been made (and commanded!) to love sacrificially!
  • And therefore if so “comforted” by God, I hope and pray he’ll place me in the lives of others so I may be a witness to HIS grace, and an instrument of God for THEIR healing….

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2 Corinthians 1:3-7  ~  Thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, that he is our Father and the source of all mercy and comfort. For he gives us comfort in our trials so that we in turn may be able to give the same sort of strong sympathy to others in theirs. Indeed, experience shows that the more we share Christ’s suffering the more we are able to give of his encouragement.

This means that if we experience trouble we can pass on to you comfort and spiritual help; for if we ourselves have been comforted we know how to encourage you to endure patiently the same sort of troubles that we have ourselves endured. We are quite confident that if you have to suffer troubles as we have done, then, like us, you will find the comfort and encouragement of God.

TO BE CONTINUED: