PAIN MEMORY

If enough time goes by we often forget the pain and repeat the behavior.

little girl in pain

All of us make mistakes. We hope to learn from our failures and not repeat them. Unfortunately, for most of us this isn’t the case. We seem doomed to go round and round our mountains until we’ve worn a deep trench that resembles a castle moat.

It dawned on me one day that we have pain memory but it doesn’t seem to last very long. We remember when we touched that hot stove not to do it again. 


Why can’t we remember emotional pain causing events? 

What about bad habits that we allow to creep back in and again cause us the same old pain from before. 

 

Scripture likens humans to sheep, who are very dumb animals, cute but dumb. If the sheep didn’t have their shepherd to follow they would literally walk off the cliff. The leader would start off the cliff and the others would follow. Now that’s dumb. Sound familiar?

We may see someone doing something that looks like fun and follow them only to find a cliff edge waiting. Forget about following others. We can follow our own nose right off the cliff. 

An important difference between humans and other animals is our ability to make conscious choices. Just following our sensory perceptions: sight, smell, taste, touch, hearing; can easily get us into trouble. But if we can be more aware in the moment, making conscious choices, we will be better off.

The problem is we are dumb sheep and get distracted easily. Before we know it we are at that cliff edge again.

The key is in who and what we are following. This is a daily, hourly, even momentary discipline that must be intentionally practiced.  

Who / What am I following today?

Image credit: lordalea / 123RF Stock Photo

RECOVERY REDEFINED

In the addiction community RECOVERY is related to our ability to obtain or maintain sobriety from our drug of choice.  Today I want to talk about recovery as a human being not just about struggles with substance addiction.

recovery:   

1. the regaining of something lost or taken away.

2. return to any former and better state or condition.

 

Let’s begin by stating that everyone is addicted to something. Whether or not we are aware of it or are willing to admit it, we all have something on which we lean in times of loneliness, stress or crisis. 

Socially acceptable addictions: TV, Internet, work, shopping, games…

Not socially acceptable addictions: drugs, alcohol, sex, porn, gambling, food…

No matter which category we fall in we are all seeking a pain killer, something that will take us out of this painful reality in which we live day to day.
 
When we’re born our spirit comes to this human form where God allows us to learn the lessons that will prepare us for our eternal life with Him. I believe our spirit is on a continual search for that heavenly realm away from this painful earthly life. Because we are in this human form with its physical desires, that so often get us in trouble, when we do find our pleasure centers we often decide to live there.
Looking at the definition for recovery above, I believe when we are seeking various pain relievers, our personal pleasures or “drugs of choice” we are in essence trying to return to our former and better state of life: heaven.
It’s not so much about removing the negative as it is about putting in more of the positive. When we focus on the negative it sometimes draws us there. It’s important that we not focus on pushing out the bad but rather focus on filling in with positive things; keeping the good front and center. 
 
The filling and refilling starts the process of recovery. Notice I said the process of recovery. RECOVERY isn’t a state that we will attain on this earth. It will only come when we are freed of this human form and in the heavenly realm with our Holy Father. 

Who will rescue me from this body that is taking me to death? Thanks be to God, who does this through our Lord Jesus Christ! ~ Romans 7:24-25

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Love Pays the Rent

Despite the Sonny and Cher 60’s song… 

Love does pay the rent!



When we put our total trust in God to provide for our basic needs we are expecting His love to pay our rent. 


Children don’t worry about the rent. In fact, rent isn’t on their radar. They have blind faith that their needs will be taken care of, because they trust their parent’s love for them.

As adults it’s difficult for us to put ourselves back in that innocent trusting mindset because we have been hurt so much by life experiences.

If we can listen to Jesus’ teaching and become as a little child life can be so much better.  

It’s not easy but it is possible. We must remember, God never asks us to do something He hasn’t already equipped us to do.

This is the truth: unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. In that kingdom, the most humble who are most like this child are the greatest.  ~ Matthew 18:3-4 (Voice)

How can I be more childlike?

  • Be more play-full and wonder-full.
  • Sit in the grass and look at the flowers.
  • Discover something new today.

Be alive, awake, aware, in awe of God’s creations around you!


Light Up Your Darkness

About a year ago the fluorescent lights in our master closet began going out.  Eventually, there was only one of the four bulbs really working and it was very dim.



Months went by and my husband and I never seemed to notice we were functioning in the dark every day in our closet.

We finally took the time to replace the light bulbs. When we turned them on the light was almost blinding it was so bright! We had no idea how dark our closet had become.

For weeks after replacing the light bulbs, when going into our closet, we wouldn’t turn on the lights. We had become so accustomed to the closet being dark that we didn’t use the lights even when we had them.

In our lives we often allow the darkness to creep in. Then before we know it we are living in it all the time.  And the worst part is we don’t recognize that we are living in the darkness.


We must intentionally flip the switch to keep The Light flowing in our lives!

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BREATHE IN… BREATHE OUT…

We take our bodily functions for granted until they become impaired.

For the better part of January I have been knocked down by the flu virus. More than the usual sniffles and body aches, I was immobilized by chest congestion that brought wheezing, a non-stop cough and loss of breath. 

A book I’m reading on Christian mysticism brought a new perspective on the simple act of breathing.* 
 
In the Judeo-Christian tradition the name of God is Yahweh. Written in the Sacred Hebrew tetragrammaton: YHVH (yod, he, vac, and he) it was considered unspeakable by the Jews. This unspeakability has been recognized for a long time but some see it deeper way, not only as a word formally unspoken but a word breathed. Many are convinced the correct pronunciation of Yahweh is replicating the sound of inhalation and exhalation.

Imagine… our first and last words entering and leaving this world, the one thing we do every moment of our life is actually speaking the name of God. This should make me have more respect for my lungs and the breath given me by the Holy Spirit!

Try this meditation/breathing technique: Breath in whispering Yah. Then breath out whispering Weh. 

                                     YAH-WEH…  YAH-WEH… YAH-WEH… YAH-WEH… YAH-WEH… 

 

If you can’t see the video below CLICK HERE for a beautiful Michael W. Smith song to listen to as you breathe in the peace of the Lord.

*RESOURCES
The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See by Richard Rohr

Image credit: stylephotographs / 123RF Stock Photo

The Next WRONG Thing???

It’s no big surprise that choices come with consequences.


  Why is it so difficult for us to see ahead? To play the movie all the way to the end?

Maybe it’s a simple matter of denial. I know a wrong choice made by someone else gets a bad result for them. But somehow I think I’m special. I won’t get that same bad result. Newsflash to self…

No Wrong Choices = No Wrong Consequences!

Don’t be misled; remember that you can’t ignore God and get away with it: a man will always reap just the kind of crop he sows! If he sows to please his own wrong desires, he will be planting seeds of evil and he will surely reap a harvest of spiritual decay and death; but if he plants the good things of the Spirit, he will reap the everlasting life that the Holy Spirit gives him. ~ Galatians 6:7-9 LB

Sometimes we need a miracle to do the next right thing!  

If you can’t see the video screen below click here for a great song by Seth Glier.

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Put Away Childish Things

Children who grow up in a stressful, violent, or abusive environment pick up various coping mechanisms. Whether it’s eating disorders, emotional avoidance, self-distructive behaviors or sexual acting out, these coping skills help soothe unbearable emotional stresses.


When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.  ~1 Corinthians 13:11-12 (New Living Translation)

Our mirror may reflect an adult but inside we’re still a little child. When stressed, often unknowingly, we turn to our childhood comforter. Some are relatively harmless behaviors, like nail biting; others like eating disorders and cutting, can be very destructive. 


It’s scary how easy we can get lost and fall back into old childish patterns. When we’re in pain we may seek relief and pleasure from a habit that will ultimately bring unhappiness. 

Characteristics of Infants / Children:

  • Have a lack of balance.
  • Don’t know right from wrong.
  • Easily give in to temptation. 

At one time our coping mechanisms helped us get through bad circumstances. But now God has something better for us. He wants us to put away our childish dependencies and look to Him for our comfort. 

Characteristics of Spiritually Mature:

  • Grounded on God’s Word.
  • Discerning good from evil.
  • Steadfast in mind and spirit.

God has clearly told me to put away my childish dependencies. Can I do it? Yes, but not alone. It will take a steady diet of God’s Word and a faithful regimen of prayer and meditation. Though I may be fearful and uncertain of my own strength, with God’s help I will do it afraid!


Join the conversation :: 

How are you handling your childhood coping mechanisms? 


If you can’t see the screen below CLICK HERE for @RebeccaStJames‘ song God Help Me.

RESOURCES:
Life Recovery Devotional
Deeply Rooted in Christ by Joshua Choonmin Kang

Photo credit: innaastakhova / 123RF Stock Photo

Time in a Bottle

Time is a mysterious thing. We can’t see it but we can see the results of it. We can measure it but we can’t control it. Today I want to talk about marking time to bring more awareness of its passing.

A few years ago I read something that brought serious attention to my lack of awareness of time passing in my life and how I was spending that time.

Today the average person dies at 70 years of age. So if you are 20 years old, you have just 2,500 weekends left to live. If you have turned 30 you have 2,000 weekends left until you die. If you are 40 years old, you have only 1,500 weekends left. If you are 50 then you have just 1000 weekends, and if you are 60 you have a mere 500 weekends left.**

Rather than days or moments many of us look at the passing of time in weeks often living specifically for the weekend. Counting time in years keeps our mortality at a distance. Counting by weekend keeps life a little closer but how are we spending those weekends? 

When I read the quote above I was 50 years old and had just spent the last ten years of my life totally living for a party weekend. It shook me and my husband up so much that we decided to create a way to track our weekends passing.

Based on our ages we counted up the approximate number of weekends we had left to live. We purchased a lovely crystal vase and filled it full of glass marbles to represent the weekends left in our life. Each Friday we remove one marble and place it in a visible location. Then on Monday the marble goes in the trash. 

We started this exercise six years ago and the decrease in marbles is definitely noticeable now. We don’t talk about it much, but each Friday the marble is in its place bringing regular awareness of our use of time. 

It will be interesting to see the continued effect on our use of time as the vase gets emptier.  As we track the lapsing of time, keeping present visible between the past and the future; we become more aware of the moment, the now in which we are. 

HOW ARE YOU MARKING THE PASSING OF TIME IN YOUR LIFE?

You don’t know what will happen tomorrow. What is life? You are a mist that is seen for a moment and then disappears. ~ James 4:14 (God’s Word Translation)


CLICK HERE for a beautiful video to meditate on as you appreciate the passing of time.


** The Evidence Bible

Photo Courtesy 123rf.com

The Invisible Woman


Do you feel like no one sees or hears you?  People seem to look right through you like you’re not even there?




I’m the invisible middle child born into a dysfunctional alcoholic home, with a handicapped brother four years older and a sister three years younger. Life was unpredictable between daddy’s drinking binges. So to stay out of trouble I usually played alone with my invisible friends: Seebie Crewble and Campbell Mingle.  Since I was invisible why not have invisible friends too.


Invisibility brought a drive to act out for attention. This was common for me as a child, as a teenager and even as mid-life adult. It’s easy to see how sex addiction played right into this…dressing provocatively, using shocking language, telling inappropriate stories. As my sexual addiction increased my behavior became more extreme and risky.

The desperate acts we stoop to for love and attention is scary. Over time there was no amount of human attention that could fill the empty whole in my heart. There wasn’t enough affection to keep me from feeling invisible. The spiral continued downward to near self-destruction.

We teach others how to treat us. Because of our lack of self-worth, fear of rejection or simply not wanting to deal with things, we purposely avoid sharing our feelings with others and we don’t stand up for ourselves. By doing that, we teach others that our feelings don’t matter, that we don’t matter. This in turn causes them to not see us other times when we really want to be noticed.

As wives and mothers we often feel invisible, lost in all our family doings and goings. We work hard to clean the house and cook a nice dinner hoping someone will notice how beautiful everything looks or how delicious the food tastes. Then resentment sets in and we begin to feel used and abused.

It all comes down to the heart. Where is my heart focused? If I’m loving and respecting myself like God tells me to, I will stand up for myself, push through the fear of rejection and share my feelings. If my heart motivation is right I will do all my tasks for Him, trusting He will reward me in good time. 

The most important One who sees me is God, I’m always visible to Him. It’s a constant challenge — to keep an audience of One.  After all, it is because of Him that I am alive and free today. I should do everything for His glory not my own. 


Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ. ~ Colossians #:23-24 New Living Translation (NLT)


Do you feel invisible today?  Maybe you can relate to the woman in this excellent skit by Nicole Johnsonhttp://youtu.be/9YU0aNAHXP0

Photo Courtesy 123rf.com

Removing the Mask

For the last four weeks we’ve been focusing on learning to love and respect ourselves, make healing choices for our lives and preparing to make amends to those we’ve harmed.  We’re going to wrap up this month by consolidating all these topics into one area that is definitely connected to all the above… 

…hiding behind masks.

As the child of an alcoholic father and a co-dependent mother I grew up to become an approval addicted people-pleaser with a very low self-esteem. My adolescent friends were all very bright students; always reading books I’d never heard of, talking about philosophy and involved with intellectual and artistic endeavors. Books weren’t really read in my home, much less having conversations about them.

Constantly comparing myself to others while feeling totally unworthy, I looked for love and validation in all the wrong ways. I found it easy to slide behind a mask to be what I thought others wanted me to be in any environment whether at home, school or church.

We wear masks because we’ve never figured out who we are or we’re afraid others won’t accept us when they do. Either way, once we’re form fitted for our life mask it’s difficult to remove.

What does your mask look like? What does it say about who you really are?

  • Ms. Self-Sufficient: I don’t need anyone
  • Ms. Happy Go Lucky: not a care in the world
  • Ms. Unteachable:  the know-it-all
  • Ms.Too Busy: the important person
  • Ms. Barbie Doll: the sexy girl
  • Ms. Country Club: the socialite

Our culture and even the church make it very difficult for us to not wear masks. No one really wants to see other people’s pain. We can watch the evening news for that. So it’s just easier to put on the “happy” face and sweep our troubles under the rug where even we don’t have to see them. The dangers of wearing masks is we start to believe the facade; we forget who we really are.

Are some masks alright? Must we remove all our masks?


The masks we need to remove are those that cause us to present a dishonest appearance to others. To do that we must start by being honest with ourselves; assessing how we are putting ourselves out there for others. Be willing to risk possible rejection by sharing our life and our struggles. 

Sure not every person or even every situation calls for such transparency. But wearing a superficial mask all the time can prevent us from developing genuine relationships. We deny others the opportunity to encourage or be encouraged by us. Prayerfully we can ask God to put people in our path that can help us find our true selves, to press through the fear of rejection, open up and be real about our life today.

There’s freedom in honesty; it brings strong, long lasting relationships. The Christian Community should be the one place where we can remove our masks and be accepted for who we really are. But that’s not always the case. In fact, we are often judged more critically in church. With God’s help,  we can courageously remove our prideful masks, stop trying to be the perfect “saint” and allow the world to see we are really not that different. It can allow us to show God’s power working in our lives.

To be relevant in our world we must stop pretending and face life with authenticity.

What can you do today to be true to yourself?

Don’t let the ideal of perfection rule you. You are free…
“Free To Be Me!”  http://youtu.be/EKSQjSdU8VA


Resources:
Loving Yourself for God’s Sake by Adolfo Quezada