Archive for the ‘Reclaim’ Tag

Old things are Passed Away   2 comments

2 Corinthians 5:17

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, allthings have become new.

When we come into faith in Christ we become a NEW person. Christ took ALL of our past, our sin, our pain on the cross and when he was in the grave he left it there. When we accept Him as our Savior and make Him LORD then he gives us His Spirit. There is no darkness in Him so he begins the work of shining the light if TRUTH into every closet and corner of our lives healing and setting us free from all of our hurts and hang-ups. This process is not a painless one. Sometimes we realize for what ever reason that we do not want to let go of a particular hurt or habit because it has comforted us for a long time. But I encourage to consider the alternative. When we choose to abandon these things, what does He do? He blesses us with His healing and the “Peace that passes ALL understanding”

Romans 12:1-2

And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

My friends I pray that you surrender completely to him so he can heal you completely.
You shall know the Truth and the Truth will set you FREE!
He who the SON sets free is free INDEED!

Trauma   3 comments

PREFACE: Please be aware that some may find this article triggering. Read with caution and PLEASE stop reading and seek out support at any point that it becomes overwhelming. It WILL be emotion inducing and some what challenging. However, I believe that you will be glad that you did so.

                 This article is definitely more enlightening, but I do hope that by the end you are encouraged, inspired, instilled with hope and most importantly EMPOWERED to believe in yourself and the strength that resides within.

YOU are NOT a VICTIM!                     YOU are NOT a SURVIVOR!

YOU ARE AN OVERCOMER!

There can be absolutely no denying the impact that trauma has on mental illness and substance abuse. In fact, I would guess that a significant number of readers of this very article, have been touched by some kind of trauma or another. In fact, I would be bold enough to day, that if you personally have not been touched by trauma, every one of us has some one close to us that has.

Well, let’s start with a simple definition of trauma:

  • A serious injury or shock to the body, as from violence or an accident.
  • An emotional wound or shock that creates substantial, lasting damage to the psychological development of a person, often leading to neurosis.
  • An event or situation that causes great distress and disruption.
  • Extreme stress that overwhelms a person’s ability to cope.

Trauma is also defined by DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) as:

an event in which a person experiences, witnesses, or is confronted with actual or threatened death or serious injury or threat to physical integrity of oneself or others

Trauma can be the result of experiences that are private in nature such as:

  • sexual assault
  • domestic violence
  • Rejection / Abandonment
  • child abuse/neglect
  • witnessing interpersonal violence
  • Victim of Crime (assault, robbery, etc)

Trauma can also be the result of experiences that are more public in nature such as:

  • War
  • Natural Disasters
  • Terrorism
  • Automobile or other Accident

That being said we have ALL experienced some kind of trauma or another. However, it is the personal/private trauma that we think of most and typically has the most psychological effect.

 A Few Facts about Trauma

In mental health and substance abuse service settings

  • As many as 80% of men and women in psychiatric hospitals have experienced physical or sexual abuse, most of them as children.
  • The majority of adults diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (81%)or Dissociative Identity Disorder (90%) were abused as children.
  • Up to two-thirds of both men and women in substance abuse treatment report childhood abuse or neglect.
  • Nearly 90% of alcoholic women were sexually abused as children or suffered severe violence at the hands of a parent.

In childhood and adolescence

  • 82% of young people in inpatient and residential treatment programs have histories of trauma.
  • Violence is a significant causal factor in 10-25% of all developmental disabilities.

In the criminal justice and juvenile justice systems

  • 80% of women in prison and jail have been victims of sexual and physical abuse.
  • In one study, 92% of incarcerated girls reported sexual, physical or severe emotional abuse.
  • Boys who experience or witness violence are 1,000 times more likely to commit violence than those who do not.

From The Damaging Consequences of Violence and Trauma, 2004, compiled by Ann Jennings, PhD.

Trauma, especially when left untreated can have a severe and negative impact on a person’s physical and emotional well-being. Trauma has been linked to…

  • Hallucinations
  • Disassociation
  • Depression
  • Suicidal Tendencies
  • Chronic Anxiety
  • disturbances in mood/self-esteem,
  • Delusions
  • Self-Injury
  • Hostility
  • Flashbacks /Nightmares
  • Assaultiveness
  • Impaired interpersonal  Relationships
  • substance abuse

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OK, enough of the textbook info. What about where the rubber hits the road. In the lives of REAL people not numbers and statistics.  The truth is, traumatic experiences can literally be devastating! A single experience can be disturbing enough on the functioning of an adult, how more injurious is repeated or multiple traumas to the psyche of a child. This is my personal theory, not supported by any research that I know of:

“Trauma is the number one leading cause of poor self-esteem.”

 It reaches in to the deepest places of the individual psyche, pulls it out, rips it to pieces, stomps on it and then hands it back. All that is left is mess and the individually is usually unable to even recognize her/him-self after the fact.  All one is left with is pain, anger, fear, and self-doubt. At this point it feels like there is absolutely no hope at all.

My friends, look around, this sounds paradoxical, but if you are at the bottom, then that is a GOOD thing.

It is a good thing, because if you are at the bottom then there is only one direction to go and that is UP!

My personal “traumatic” experiences are rather minimal, but I have known and helped many through very intense and overwhelming experiences.  I do NOT claim to be a trauma expert, but want to offer some encouragement and insights for helping those that have these experiences to fully overcome them; even it is a “baby step” at a time.

So, where to begin? The first step and most important step is recognizing that you do not have to be a “victim” of the trauma in your past. Simply having survived and come out of it at least somewhat functional, you have proven the strength of your character. Despite how powerless you feel now, you are stronger than you believe at this point in time.

YOU are NOT a VICTIM!                      YOU are NOT a SURVIVOR!

YOU ARE AN OVERCOMER!

I once heard it said something like this: “The mark of an individual is not what he/she has accomplished, who he/she was in the community, how much money he/she made, but what adversity had he/she overcame!

Let me say it a little differently:  “Your past has shaped your view of yourself and the world around, but it does not define who you are now, or your destiny.

The first and hardest part of coping with trauma is separating ourselves from it! We must find a way to start rebuilding our “self” from the inside out. Here are a few practical steps from my article on self-esteem. (Click the link to open the article – will not close this one).

  • List 5 positive things that other people have said about you.
  • List 5 positive things about yourself.(Attributes or accomplishments)
  •  Share a compliment with 5 other people.
  •  Do something unrepentantly kind for someone that you perceive to be “worse off” than you.

 As you complete each “step” take out a pen and journal about how completing the activity made you feel. Take note to how you feel about your self before and after each activity.

 Next and likely just as difficult and I know more painful…. We MUST get in touch with the depths of the emotions associated with our traumatic experiences.

 **WARNING**

Do NOT try this at home!

Do NOT attempt to do this ALONE!

As long as we continue to hide from, cover-up, stuff and self-medicate the feelings associated with our trauma, we will continue to suffer just like we were in the midst of the event over and over again. It is like a never ending flashback of pain and suffering. However, when we face them head and push our way through them, yes it is going to be VERY painful, and we want to quit and give-up. We say to ourselves and even to those around us, “It’s not worth it”. But hang in there. The pain is severe, but if you will endure, then you can break the power and control that those strong emotions have had on you leading to ongoing suffering. Now is the time to be totally honest with yourself and the PROFESSIONAL that is helping you. There is no such thing as wrong or inappropriate emotions. Every feeling that you feel related to your experiences is valid and need to be expressed, processed and released!

You will NEVER forget, but with time and work, those memories will not be painful and debilitating. You are on a long and treacherous journey, much like climbing a steep mountain with nothing but a cliff on one side and falling rocks on the other. But if you can hang on and keep pushing yourself, when you get to the top, the view is worth it. When you finally start feeling like you are getting “ahead” of your past, you will simply be amazed of how STRONG you will feel. The beauty and confidence that have been hidden by pain and fear.

Be patient with yourself, you did to get to this point in your life overnight and unfortunately overcoming it does not happen quickly nor easily either. But, celebrate and reward yourself for small victories and accomplishments along the way. Every obstacle that is overcome, makes you stronger and more prepared to overcome the next. Soon, instead of “making mountains out of mole hills”, you will be “making mole hills out of mountains!”

In closing let me close with one final recommendation

Each day wake up, believe and strive to demonstrate this simple affirmation:

 “I and I alone choose my destiny, I control whether I am happy or sad. I am responsible for me and me alone. I choose to live MY life; I choose to write my own story!”

We have to LIVE in the present looking forward with hope for the future. I urge you my friends star LIVING and take your life and destiny back from the traumatic events and perpetrators that have haunted you for TOO LONG!

 YOU ARE WORHT IT!

Your past may have set you going down a certain path, but you are still the one in the driver’s seat!

 The scars of yesterday are the badge of honor and strength of today and the proof of potential for tomorrow.

Write Your Own Story!   4 comments

Most of us have heard the old saying, “He who angers you, controls you.” I contend that anger is not the only emotion that we can let others to control us. These emotional ties come from many sources: past abuse or trauma, abandonment/rejection, unfaithfulness. Other sources include current disturbing behaviors such as substance abuse, violence run away, etc. They control us because we choose to have our lives driven by our emotional reactions to the behaviors of others. Lets discuss these two very different scenarios.

First lets look at control from the past. Please consider the following example;

A young man feels and believes he was abandoned and rejected by his birth mother. Despite being raised by a loving and caring step-mother, he never gets over the feelings of hurt, anger, resentment and bitterness. As a result of these feelings, he grows to believes that he is not worthy of being loved or wanted. So all of his relationships are either short lived because as soon as things start getting “too close”, whether consciously or not, he sabotages the relationship and pushes others away. This is not true just in romantic relationships, it can also be true in platonic relationships as well. If this is not what he does then he finds the “sickest” or neediest girl that he can and goes to work making her dependent on him. Why? If she need him to take care of her, she won’t leave, and thus abandon/reject him. (So he believes anyway).

 So what is the driving force behind these behaviors?

 His behavior is controlled by his unresolved issues from his mother. Thus, I would say that because he allows these beliefs and emotions to continue to shape and direct his life, he chooses to give the control of his life, the pen of his story, back to his mother, rather she wants it or not.

 When we continue to look back and let issues from the past control our emotions and behaviors then we are surrendering control over our destiny back to the person or persons that hurt us to begin with. I once said it like this: we had no control over the abuse in the past, but now we hand them the bat.

 Now, lets look at the other scenario, current disturbing behaviors of others that control our emotions and behaviors. As mentioned above, there are a number of behaviors that may contribute to this type of reaction: substance abuse, anger, violence, criminal behavior, run away, manipulation, etc. We have all been in this situation to some degree or another.

 Here again, lets look at another example:

 A young lady is in a relationship with an alcoholic/addict that disappears on binges for days at a time. She sits at home, crying and worrying that he is OK. When he does finally come home, she nurses him through coming down and withdrawal and then does everything that she can to clean up after him. If he misses work, she calls the boss and tells him he is sick. She keeps the secret hidden, yet she is miserable, lonely, depressed and hates every minute of it.

So here again, why? Similarly, she believes that is what a “good wife” does; “no one else would love me and want to be with me.” Whatever the case she continues to let his behaviors and her emotional response. This is especially difficult when the individual is not a spouse or even a parent, but your child.

To a degree, you feel responsible, you blame yourself, you ask yourself over and over, “What did I do wrong?” The truth is, for most of us, we did nothing wrong. Our loved ones/children have made their own choices. Despite all of our efforts now an in the past, we have no control over their choices and behaviors.

On the other hand, when we allow ourselves to be consumed by worry and attempts to “save them from themselves.” then we are giving them that exact control over our lives. We allow their behaviors and our emotional response to them to consume our very being.

We all know exactly what I am talking about; it is classic “codependency”. Sometimes we are aware of it and are even willing to acknowledge it, but we have been this way so long, we don’t know any other way to live. We have completely lost our identity as an individual because we are so enmeshed with our addicted loved one.

I hear you saying, “thanks for pointing out all that is wrong with me. That was really encouraging.” I truly understand, but what is the first step of solving a problem or fixing something is wrong? We have to recognize that what we have been doing to this point is number one not changing the other person, and number two and most importantly we are unhappy and in fact, miserable.

That brings me to the good news or bad news depending on your point of view, some recommendations on how to change this cycle and reclaim our emotions and behaviors. Here why I say it could be considered bad news: It is NOT going to be easy, and it WILL take a lot of work. So if you are ready to take the challenge and start living YOUR life again, then keep reading, if not good luck.

When we continue to look back and let issues from the past control our emotions and behaviors then we are surrendering control over our destiny back to the person or persons that hurt us to begin with. I once said it like this: we had no control over the abuse in the past, but now we hand them the bat.

Whether, it is the current or past, we must find a way, to do the hardest, but most important thing: “LET GO”.

 We must accept that there is nothing that we can do to change the events of the past. Holding on to the pain, anger, and any other related negative emotions only hinders our ability to move forward and meet our full potential. I know that this is a painful process and we can’t just let go and walk away that easy. Take your time, surround yourself with support. If possible being involved in some kind of counseling is also a good idea. This may be individual or a group of others with similar experiences.

 The same is true in regards to letting go of the expectation that we can change the dysfunctional and negative behaviors of our loved ones. Our worrying about them, nagging, yelling, threatening does not effect positive change, in fact many of these behaviors lead to exactly the opposite of the desired effect.

 The very best thing that we can do is express our love and concern for our loved one and then pray believing that the Heavenly Father will keep is eye and hand upon them. We can not go on protecting them from the consequences of their choices and behavior. When we do so, we simply enable the behavior to continue.

 Just like overcoming the past, and moving on, I know this is a difficult and painful process and we can’t just let go and walk away that easy. Take your time, surround yourself with support. If possible being involved in some kind of counseling is also a good idea. This may be individual or a group of others with similar experiences.

 The next step is probably just about as difficult, we must start reclaiming our own identity. For many of us we have been so entangled in the past or the behaviors of others that we have lost even the ability to recognize who we even are without that to define us.

 Start simply, set aside some time with just you, paper and pen or your computer.

  • List all the current roles that “define” you (mother, father,son, sister, teacher, friend, etc).

  • List your values? (What is important to you? – faith honesty, kindness, family, friends, etc.)

  • List the character traits that either define you now, or that you would like to do so. (strong, independent, hopeful, etc.)

  • List your strengths. (What are you good at?)

  • List your weaknesses. (What do you need to work on?)

  • What are your goals? (Where are you going, what do you want to do with your life?

  • Finally, write out a narrative that would describe you as person. Start with the list from above and describe your personality, your likes/dislikes, strengths weaknesses and most importantly where are YOU going in future?

Now, each day wake up, believe and strive to demonstrate this simple affirmation:

 “I and I alone choose my destiny, I control whether I am happy or sad. I am responsible for me and me alone. I can love and support others, but they must choose their own path. I choose to live MY life; I choose to write my own story!”

I feel like this article has been a little disjointed, but I hope and pray that it helps you to let go and start living your own life again.

Thanks for reading!

R2R

 

So You Think You Know Me….   4 comments

The Paradox of Masks

“Society is a masked ball, where every one hides his real character,and reveals it by hiding” Ralph Waldo Emerson

We all wear a mask from time to time, many of us more than one and to tell the truth some of us live in them.  I consider the afore mentioned quote, “Society is a masked ball….” I envision people all standing around talking, but each is holding a masquerade mask covering his/her face. Then as someone leaves one group to visit with a different group, they change masks before they get to the next group.

 Even the great Apostle Paul said the following, “I have become all things to all people” in 1 Corinthians 9:22.

It is actually natural and healthy to adapt and conceal our parts personality to a degree when we are interacting in different situations or settings.  We all have different roles that we play. We  are a father/mother, a husband/wife, son/daughter,  supervisor/employee, teacher/student, a friend, etc. In each of these roles, we portray a little different version of ourselves than we do with the others. This adaption is normal and expected. I was recently discussing the concept of masks with some other travelers on the “Road” and the idea came to me that in these situations, it is more like having a veil that only partially hides the face; we partially conceal our true personality rather than covering it entirely.

However, many of have taken that next step and we wear a various masks, thus hiding our true personality entirely.

The question that must be asked is, “Why?” Why do we feel it is a necessity to wear masks and hide who we really are from others?

There are many different answers to this question; we will focus on the one that fits more than any other.

Life experiences have taught that others can not be trusted. If others are allowed “too close”, then they will disappoint and hurt us.

What kind of hurts have we experienced? These include: abuse, neglect, rejection, abandonment, just to name a few.

I know in my life personally, I felt abandoned and rejected by my mother. So in order to feel loved and accepted, I would enter a group and look around at the attitudes, behaviors and personalities of others in the group and I would proverbially, paint my mask to be similar to theirs.

The mask that I wore more than any other was the mask of caretaker and hero. Everyone of my “romantic” relationships up until I met my now wife of 15 years, were very co-dependent and dysfunctional. I figured that I wasn’t good enough for the “normal” girls. So I found subconsciously I sought out someone that needed to be “fixed” or “taken care of” as much as I needed to be needed.

Along my way on this journey, I have met MANY others that due to whatever reason, they have taken on the same types of behaviors. We have become people pleasers and co-dependent, seeking to insure that EVERYONE else is happy even when doing so makes us miserable on the inside.

This is no surprise to anyone, but if we live our lives hiding behind a mask, we will never be happy or find peace. We go from place to place and group to group always making sure that we are wearing the “right” mask for the occasion. Then we find ourselves in a crisis when we encounter people from different groups simultaneously. For example you out to dinner with your significant other, and “one of the guys” form the office comes up to you and tells you an off color joke that you know that your date is going to find offensive. What do you do? Which mask to you reveal?

Although I know it’s unfair I reveal myself one mask at a time” Stephen Dunn

 “It’s a terrible thing to be alone — yes it is — it is — but don’t lower your mask until you have another mask prepared beneath –as terrible as you like –but a mask.”Katherine Mansfield

There comes a point that as much as he hate it as unhappy as we are wearing masks, we get to the point that we no longer know how to live without them. We do not know how to interact and relate with others in any other way. We wear s certain mask for so long that we “become” the mask that we wear, yet we despise every moment of it, and start hating ourselves for getting to that point. We are miserable within our own skin and consciousness and have no idea what to do about it. This misery has led to many of the self-destructive habits and behaviors that led to us being on this journey; substance abuse, self-harming, eating disorders, suicide attempts and ideation, etc.

“Sometimes people carry to such perfection the mask they have assumed that in due course they actually become the person they seem.”  William Somerset Maugham

 “He who wears a mask cannot see within himself.” Anonymous

“The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are. You trade in your reality for a role. …You give up your ability to feel, and in exchange, put on a mask.” Jim Morrison

We have gotten to the point that we have completely lost knowing who we really are because all we see is the mask. We have even tried to “look inside” and we don’t know “who we are” anymore. Our personality has become so enmeshed with our mask, we do not know which are which and what emotions are real and which are the result of wearing the mask. Eventually, we get to the point that we stop feeling completely.

So, no what? Seems like the picture that I have painted to this point looks pretty grey and dreary, BUT there is hope! One day at a time, one step at a time we can RECLAIM our emotions, our behavior and ultimately our personality!

First of all you MUST learn to believe in ourselves again, and that often entails rebuilding our self-esteem.  Here is an except from a previous post “Baby Steps – Self-Esteem”

Self-Esteem has to be built from the ground up and learning to walking in it really is a step by step process. Let me borrow from a life experience and lesson that we have ALL learned from.

When a child learns to walk, he/she does not turn 10-months old and just start walking independently. There are MANY smaller steps that have occurred over the months leading up to day.  He/she rolled over, scooted, crawled, pulled up to stand, etc. He/she took one “baby step” after another until he/she got to the point of taking those first steps. Even then, once he/she starts walking, there are going to be falls, bumps, and bruises.  Does the child give up? NO. He/she cries for a bit, but then gets up and tries again. Slowly but surely, he/she gets better and better, more stable, and ultimately more and more confident.

We must translate these same “baby steps” into our recovery. As we start out, we slowly put one foot in front of the other, a little wobbly at first and reaching out and relying on our support systems to a degree. We begin with simple say day to day challenges: getting out of bed, taking a shower, eating, going to support groups or meetings. If faced with more difficult decisions we seek counsel from among our peers and support. As we grow more confident and stable in making these simple day to day decisions and solving problems, we gradually start taking on more difficult ones. Again, we are becoming more and more confident in the process. Just as with the child learning to walk, we are learning that there is hope, we can be successful and it really is not as scary a place as we thought that it was. We have learned to be hopeful, seeing ourselves and our circumstances from a optimistic perspective, seeing the good that our lives can be and how we can be an asset to those around us.

I want to leave you with a few practical exercises to help as you begin “crawling” in your self-esteem:

  1.  List 5 positive things that other people have said about you.
  2.  List 5 positive things about yourself.(Attributes or accomplishments)
  3. Share a compliment with 5 other people.
  4. Do something unrepentantly kind for someone that you perceive to be  “worse off” than you.

As you complete each “step” take out a pen and journal about how completing the activity made you feel. Take note to how you feel about your self before and after each activity.

Of course that is just the FIRST step, and as we all know that is a definite chore in and of itself. The good news is that as we are working on our self esteem, we become more and aware of our aware, comfortably and happy with our REAL personality. As we do so, then how do we get out from behind the mask and start revealing this “new person”.

Similarly, to building our self-esteem, we MUST take BABY steps. We start by taking little risk in trusted and safe relationships.

You and a group of friends are going to the movies and they are discussing what to go see, SPEAK UP! Jump into the discussion and share your opinion. Very low risk, but you’re giving yourself and your wants/needs a voice.

Slowly, over time take bigger and bigger risks in your relationships.

I know this sounds paradoxically TOO simple, yet at the time very difficult. The techniques are rather simple, the application “not so much”. I know from experience that working through the emotions related to this issue can be very painful. But I ask you, would you rather suffer the pain of dealing with the issues that got you to where you are, or do you want to continue to suffer in the misery of nothingness hidden behind a mask.

I hope pray that you choose to BELIEVE in the good that is within and the good in others.

When you hide behind a mask, it is like taking a priceless jewel and hiding its beauty from those desiring to admire it. You steal a little piece of the beauty out of the world.

So as was so appropriately stated my Jim Morrison, “The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are.”

Be Free,           Be Beautiful,                Be Happy!

Whom seek ye?   5 comments

Jesus … said unto them, “Whom seek ye?”John 18:4

Who or what are you seeking in your life?

Love?                                      Money?                          Power?                                Happiness?

                   Recovery?                               Peace?                              Friends?

Yeah, it sounds a little funny including Recovery with these. There is absolutely nothing wrong with desiring any or all of them to some degree or another, but even if you did have that one thing that you seek, there would still be a whole in your life waiting to be filled. So I ask you one more time what are you REALLY seeking? What are you the MOST passionate about?

I tell you it is my opinion that there is a BEST answer to the above question, and if we answer it correctly, then ANYTHING and EVERYTHING we need WILL BE taken care of. So what should be our Passion, what should we be seeking?

To draw closer to God.

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? 28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:20-35

But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:19

When we serve Him and truly recognize Him as the Lord of our lives then we have NOTHING at all to worry about, if we will just believe and trust Him. There will be times of bounty and times of lack, but He will insure that at ALL TIMES our NEEDS are met.

In the event that you feel that you NEED something that has not yet been provided then ASK!

7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Matthew 7:7-8

Remember who your DADDY is, THE God of Heaven and Earth. He owns the “Cattle on a thousand hills”, and for that measure, he owns the hills too! So no matter what your need: physical natural provision, healing, hope, peace, joy, etc, HE is not like a man that will give you a stone instead of bread or a snake when we ask for a fish. He is a GOOD God who loves us and only gives us GOOD gifts. He knows our needs even before we ask, and sometimes he just test our faith in Him by withholding that which is needed until we ASK.

…yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. James 4;2-3

11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him! Matthew 7:11

 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. James 1:5

I know you are thinking, OK that is a good study and makes sense to “normal” people. What about those of with some many issues. We can’t just abandon all control and our old beliefs and ways of doing things.

He asks that we have an open mind heart and simply seek after HIM. Fortunately, Faith is very much like our recovery. It is a process and a journey, He does not ask or expect us to be perfect automatically, However, the closer that we get to Him the more like Him we will desire to be. As we take one step at a time further done the road, He helps us to learn new ways, His ways, As we read and study His Word, and give lay our lives and our wills over to Him, we are transformed more and more into His image.

Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. I Timothy 2:15

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12-1-2

 …Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word Ephesians 5:25-26

My dear friends as we come to faith in God and truly accept what Christ death and resurrection accomplished for our lives, we will begin to realize that we are NOT the same person that we were in the past. We are being renewed and made more like Him from the inside out. As we peal one layer off from the outside, He renews the layers one at a time from the outside in. So step by step we become a little more and a little more the new CREATION that He as destined for us to be. Unfortunately, as each of these occur it can and WILL be painful at times. Even harder, some of us will have resentments, beliefs and “issues” of which we will NOT want to let go. However we MUST in order to be ALL that He wants us to be!

The closer we get to Him, the more of THE Truth that we know, and as John says, “the TRUTH shall set you free.” HE is the TRUTH.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 2 Corinthians 5:10

...“If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:31-32

So finally my friends , I conclude the same way that I started…

Whom seek ye?”

I pray that you will join me in seeking after He whom is seeking after you!

Blessing my friends,

See you on The Road….

R2R

Paradox of Shadows   3 comments

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…. Psalm 23:4

A Funny thing happened on my way …to write my next article. My plan and inspiration got absolutely HIGH-jacked, if you know what I mean.

I can’t even remember now where I had heard the following quote, but I remember, thinking “Wow, that’s deep”, when I first heard it. However, as I sat down to start pondering on it and starting writing, I found myself being pulled in another whole different direction completely, which was only tangentially connected to the original thoughts.

They see only their own shadows or the shadows of one another, which the fire throws on the opposite wall of the cave” Plato

It started in the shadows and well it suffices to say, my intellectual thinking was blown away, as the thoughts and insights were coming so fast, that I could barely keep up. I will start with a piece of it here and then will be “developing” the other concepts in at least one other follow-up article. I promise you one thing, when all is said and done, you will never see a shadow the same way.

Well, I’m ready; I hope that you’re ready to hang on for a ride.

So lets start where I did, “in the shadows”. What is a shadow?

MIrriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines it as: “partial darkness or obscurity within a part of space from which rays from a source of light are cut off by an interposed opaque body”

OK, now in English please… “an area of darkness that is created when something blocks lightMacmillan Dictionary

So what is required for a shadow to be created?

  • A light source and
  • An object to partially block the light.

This brings me to my first point:

There can be no shadow without light being present.

I know I just said that, it is the definition. What is so inspiring about that?

I challenge you to think a little more abstract and symbolically for just a bit. We will be bouncing to and fro between abstract and concrete.

We have all gone through “dark” times, shadows, if you will in our lives. My guess is that many of you may be finding yourself in the “shadows” even now. Being in the shadows can be a cold, damp and scary place. It often feels like there is no hope. When walking in the shadows it is easy to misstep and further hindering our progress. It is also true that we all have shadows and dark places in our lives. Some are only partially shaded, while others, if we are honest with ourselves, we can not remember the last time that we allowed them out enough to even give the light a chance and shining upon them. They are deep painful “ugly”cubbies and corners that we are honestly afraid to shine light on, because it just hurts too badly to even look at it. They are major traumatic experiences that have altered the very direction of our lives.

BUT, my dear friends, brothers and sisters, be of good courage, there IS hope!

Remember, what did we just say about shadows? In order for there to be a shadow there MUST be a source of light. More specifically The LIGHT is our source. Even when we are in the midst of the shadows The Light is there with us in the midst of our trials. We may not see or feel it, but it is true nonetheless.

I am the light of the world. John 8:12

God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. 1John 1:5

It does not matter how painful or dark our shadows, His desire that we would allow His Light to shine in these areas. When we walk with HIM in the light then we walk in LIFE.

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. I John 1:7

Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:4-6

You can only see the shadows if you are not walking toward the light.

So my friends, I urge you turn your face TOWARDS The Light, to serve and follow HIM. When we walk truly with Him, we walk in the light and in the is LIFE, JOY, PEACE, REST, HOPE….

Even then there are going to be battles and trials and struggles, but as we have seen in the shadows in the trial in the struggles HE is there. Not only is there, He can empathize and shows forth His compassion to us.

For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Hebrews 4:15

No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. I Corinthians 10:13

Here comes probably the hardest point to accept out of this entire lesson.

Struggles and Trials are GOOD, They develop character and ultimately make us more like HIM.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. James 1:2-5

I know some of you are thinking to yourselves, “So GOD caused all of the trials, darkness and shadows in my past, to build my character?”

ABSOLUTELY NOT”

Yes, he may have “allowed” some things to happen, but that is simply because He has limited Himself and will not interfere in the will of man. The “hell” that many of have experienced WAS NOT His plan and purpose for our lives, but the consequence of the will, choices and behaviors of others. We also have our own will, which has also led to some of the consequences and “shadows” that we have experienced. He is a God of LOVE, Compassion, Mercy and Grace whose desire is that ALL would be saved and Walk in the light, Truth and Life!

…God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy 2:4

But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. Psalm 86:15

As we turn towards the light, and walk in Him, then He will begin the work of healing those very same wounds and scars. Even we turn and walk away choosing as it where the shadows over the light. Because even the light it is difficult path and will believe TOO difficult at times, but keep at it, in the end the destination and rewards at the end of the journey will be worth it.

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. Matthew 7:13-14

I don’t know about you, but I have suffered enough in the wounds of the past, and though the journey will be hard, I have The Light leading me in in The Way so that I will know The Truth and truly experience The Life that He has planned for me.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. John 14:6

I make a willful choice and I choice to “Walk in The Light” and as I do the shadows will only be passing, because I my eyes are focused on the “Source” of all Light!

Will come walk with me.

**Coming Soon**

More on the Shadows and a detailed look at a portion of the 23rd Psalm.

With God We Will Gain the Victory   Leave a comment

Psalm 108:1-6,12-13

1 My heart, O God, is steadfast;
I will sing and make music with all my soul.
2 Awake, harp and lyre!
I will awaken the dawn.
3 I will praise you, LORD, among the nations;
I will sing of you among the peoples.
4 For great is your love, higher than the heavens;
your faithfulness reaches to the skies.
5 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
let your glory be over all the earth.

6 Save us and help us with your right hand,
that those you love may be delivered.

12 Give us aid against the enemy,
for human help is worthless.
13 With God we will gain the victory,
and he will trample down our enemies.


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