Tag Archive | authority

Fight or Flight? (Part 3)

This is the third part in a four-part series.

Two Empty Chairs in a Field“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

I can’t speak to how anxiety manifests in any other person or why others struggle. I only know my story and if there is anything anyone can relate to and learn from then it’s worth telling.

This has been by far the most difficult post to write. I have anguished over how to describe my anxiety: what caused it, how I reacted, what it turned into, how it affected me, how it affected others and finally realizing that everything I thought I knew about it was wrong.

Flight, n.: The act of fleeing; the act of running away, to escape danger or expected evil; hasty departure.

I grew up believing lies about myself, about others and about God.

It’s funny how the smallest thing can change your perspective of yourself. I have spent my entire life trying to hide and keep myself safe. I have feared the opinions of others, their judgment, their rejection and my own failure. I avoided and ran from anything that put me in the spotlight. As long as I was left alone to do my work I was fine. No challenges, no confrontations, and no humiliation. To even consider the thought of making a mistake and being found out was paralyzing. Running and hiding was my way of taking control, but you can’t out run God and nothing is hidden from His sight.

The stress associated with my fears manifested physically and the anxiety grew with each incident. My internal flight instinct grew. I was trying to escape a perceived danger.

There came a point when I truly began to understand the lengths I was going to trying to protect myself. All these years, I was hoping that someone would step up and protect me. I needed to believe I was worth protecting; that somehow I was worth more than the pain and suffering they would endure.

And then God reminded me of Jesus, the pain and suffering He endured on my behalf to protect me from death, to set me free and to give me a place in this world for Him.

See, God was calling me out of the shadows and He wasn’t giving up on me. The more He worked, the more I fought and the more I ran from the very situations and people He was using to grow me, change me, and transform me. I questioned His authority and control over my situation. I struggled with the reality of who He was making me and who everyone else expected me to be.

When my knowledge was challenged, I assumed I didn’t really understand. When I wasn’t perfect, I assumed I’d never really be good enough. And when I gave in to pressure, I assumed I’d never really be different so why bother.

What I had forgotten was that Christ is not only with me, He’s in me. When I am uncertain, He knows. When I think I’m not enough, He is more. When I don’t trust myself, He is faithful. I didn’t need to rely on my own understanding or strength, but turn to Him in every situation and His peace would be my guard and my protection.

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

There was a time when I didn’t know better. But that’s all changed. And in my knowing better I have decisions to make. I can rely on my fears and worries to keep me safe or I can turn to God, relying on and trusting in Him completely.

Something to Consider…

Jesus tells us to not let our hearts be troubled. We are to trust in God and in Him. (John 14:1)

In what areas do you worry or doubt the most? What is your ultimate need in the moment? Give this worry to Him and tell Him about your need. Trust that He not only knows, but he is faithful and more than enough to meet your every need.

Into what lie does God want to speak His truth? As you give Him your fears, He will tell you the truth about who He is, who you are in Him and what that means for you going forward. Peace is found when we rest in His truth.

Fight or Flight? (Part 2)

woman in field - yellow dress

This is the second part in a four-part series.

“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” James 1:19-20

As I mentioned in Part 1, in those areas of my life in which I felt I had authority, I would suffer uncontrollable rage when there was a problem.

At the time, my only real area of authority was in the lives of my children. Unfortunately, they bore the brunt of my anger, specifically my oldest daughter. I expected my home to be the one place I was in control. What I said is what everyone did…except they didn’t.

Each task someone added to my already overloaded schedule, every poor decision that needed to result in a fix or consequence, and every request that came with an expectation that I would, of course, meet it was suffocating.

I also assumed a role of authority in my marriage even though it wasn’t mine to have. When we were in a public arena, I would unleash on my husband in a very controlled, but demeaning tone. My statements were short and accusatory.

Each time I felt I was losing control, my anger put me back in control. I knew this was wrong. I didn’t like how it felt during or after the confrontation. I would sometimes apologize later, but the words I spoke and my attitude had already left its mark.

“It (love) does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” 1 Corinthians 13:5

My anger looked after my own comfort and convenience, it built on each mistake others made and it sought to prove that the issues were their fault, not mine.

But God in His mercy showed me how my anger would not bring about His righteousness in the situation or my heart.

While the truth is the actions and decisions of others are not my fault and not in my control, how I respond to them through my actions is my responsibility. I was not to exhibit control, but self-control. There is a difference. Control focuses on the actions of others while self-control focuses on my own actions in response to God’s love and righteousness.

God began to show me that using self-control was more about my response to love others in the midst of the problem than solving the problem itself.

As I slowed down and let myself listen to not only my daughter, but to God, I was able to see the work He wanted to do and was already doing in her life. As God took my eyes off myself and put them back on Himself, He was able to shift my perspective and understanding of who was really in control.

Ultimately, I was fighting God. I was fighting His truth that I was not in control and that I did not need to prove myself, my value, or my worth to anyone. I did not need to display my authority through anger, but I could serve others, myself, and God better with a spirit of love and self-control.

Something to Consider…

Do you think if others could just get it right, your life would be easier? Does your anger win out when you feel like you don’t have control or need to prove something? In what specific situations and with which specific people does this happen?

God is ultimately in control of everything. Jesus who has absolute authority and power did not strike back in anger, but let His love lead His way. He knows you make mistakes and loves you anyway. God’s righteous anger acknowledges that what is going on is not right and Jesus is the solution that makes things right. Through Jesus Christ, God has made a way for the problem of sin to be removed from our lives so we can be made right with Him. Every relationship problem has a solution when we have the desire and make the decision to love first.

How can a perspective shift change how you relate to and love others? How might self-control help you slow down and listen and in turn lead to a life of love?

Fight or Flight? (Part 1)

 IMG_1655This is my story…well, at least one of them. This is what came from years of trying to deal with, manage and hide the truth. I am not perfect, but I have gained ground and found freedom. I hope by sharing my story someone else will gain ground, find freedom and have hope as well.

I was recently at the doctor with one of my daughters. I was listening to the doctor and her carry on a conversation about the nervous system. She had recently covered all of this in her high school biology class and was completely engaged in the conversation about all the different systems and what they control.

I, on the other hand, could barely listen without feeling like I was going to pass out. That was until I heard the part about the sympathetic nervous system which brings about the “fight or flight” response.

I have been plagued with anxiety since the early 2000’s. From approximately 2002 to 2007, I didn’t really understand the occasional attack that would send me into a panic. There had to be a physical problem for this feeling so I would go to the doctor to get various issues checked never considering the anxiety itself was the problem.

In 2005, depression was added to the mix. It wasn’t until 2007 that I finally went to a counselor after an anxiety attack landed me in the emergency room. We talked through all of the situations that came to mind with my angst and all of the situations that led to my thinking a certain way about myself and others. During this time I found ways to deal with and manage my anxiety. I also discovered the tale-tell signs of an attack.

Most attacks at the time began with anger. And not just a little anger. I would get really angry. At times, I felt rage in the situation. I told my husband once that it felt like it wasn’t really me. This happened in situations where I felt I had authority. I was ready for a fight.

At other times, my mind would race with worry. The thoughts flew at me and my mind ran circles trying to avoid the barrage. In those situations where I felt I had no authority, I would have a worrisome fear. Flight: getting as far away from the situation as I could was the answer.

“But the Lord replied, “Is it right for you to be angry?” Jonah 4:4

“Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” Matthew 6:27

In both situations, my anger and fear were over things in which I felt I had no control. Neither response was appropriate and the weight of the guilt was overwhelming.

The truth is there are many situations and circumstances in my life in which I have no control. The idea that I could not change where I was and that I had limited options on how to survive threw me into a fight or flight response.

The truth is in Jesus I don’t need to go to extremes in my response to problems. Jesus is helping me turn anger into a solution and worry into peace. In my next few posts, I’ll go into more detail on just how that has been possible for me.

Something to Consider…

How do you react in difficult situations? Do you tend to strike out with a fight mentality? Or do you retreat escaping in flight, ignoring the situation or denying the problem?

This may not be an extreme issue for you, but you may find you have hot buttons that when pressed set you in one direction or the other. How does your ability to control the situation influence your response?

Ask God to show you the truth of the situation. Choose to be open to what He has to say.

Created for a Purpose

Family“In Him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will,” Ephesians 1:11

When my husband and I rededicated our lives to Christ, it was the first time I really believed God had a purpose just for me. I had always felt I was here for a reason, but didn’t really know what it was, what I should do about it, or that I could actually know that purpose with certainty.

One night, as I was lying in bed ready to fall asleep, I let my mind go to this place of purpose. This was often the time I spent asking God various questions over the years: at night, in the dark, quite and feeling alone with Him. My mind immediately went to the thought of a dangerous mission trip. “Don’t go there! Don’t give God permission to send you there!” (As if God needs my permission to decide what His purpose is for me…) Rather than think of all the things that could be my purpose, I finally settled on simply asking Him the question and allowed myself to fall asleep.

As I began to wake up, while I was still in that foggy place of coming to, I sensed God sharing His vision for me.

“Love your husband and support him in his work. He works hard to provide for your family.

“Love, care for and teach your children. You do not know what they may grow to do, what I have planned for them.

“Manage your home. Do not let it be a burden to your husband. He has enough to deal with. This is your responsibility. Remove that weight from his shoulders.”

Three simple tasks. Was that really all there was to my purpose? Did I just make that up? Was I taking the easy way out of a mission trip? What purpose would this serve?

Loving God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength is my first call. This is my second.

When I lose sight of this purpose, my world begins to fall apart. I am not weak; I am just not living in my sweet spot. I am not living in alignment with God’s will for my life.

My life. Not yours or someone else’s, but mine. And yours will be different or may be similar.

I love my husband’s heart for his work. Craig has an honest desire to work hard and help his company be successful. He also has a desire to see the client’s best interest served and that they would prosper as well. I know God has a purpose for him where he is so I need to honor God by honoring my husband.

I admit, many women I have known over the years would not have agreed with this purpose and would not have encouraged me. But God did not put a yoke of oppression or burden on me. He said to me, “You are able and capable of doing this. It is not too much for you nor too little. I will help.”

And then there are my children. I have often wanted to say, “Do what you want! I give up. It’s your choice.” But as the thought crosses my mind I realize I cannot give them that permission. I cannot relinquish my authority or influence in their lives. I cannot nor should I squelch the Spirit in their lives; while at the same time, I need to teach them the difference between the Spirit and the flesh.

They now, at their young ages, have a stronger, firmer foundation of faith than anything I had at that same age. My husband is moving toward God in all areas of his life. Did these three simple tasks change the entire trajectory of my family? Did simply loving my family the way God called me to show them His love for them?

My purpose serves His purpose not only in my life, but in the lives of others around me. I am grateful to God for how He has worked in me and through me to make a difference in the lives of my husband and my children for Him. It was a bigger, greater purpose than I could imagine.

Something to Consider…

As my children grow to adulthood, my authority and influence in their lives will change. I’ve made it clear I will use whatever authority and influence I have, but do understand it will be different. I know that as my life changes, God will have new opportunities for me to serve a purpose for Him.

Do you know your purpose? Have you asked God what He has planned for you? Are you willing to move forward should He give you His vision for your life?

Have you been living in His purpose for you? Are you at a crossroads in your life with a decision to make about how you proceed? Is there a dream in your heart that is beyond your imagination?

No matter how big or small your purpose may seem, God will be served. He will bring good things from it not only for you, but for those around you as well.

Pray for Your Leaders

“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” Romans 13:1 (NIV)

I admit, I have not prayed for my leaders as I should. I have not been diligent in seeking God’s guidance, understanding or wisdom for leaders in government offices, whether elected or appointed. I have not prayed regularly that those who do not know Jesus would not only come to know Him, but would seek to follow Him in their role of leading others. I have prayed my will, my understanding, and my desires but even as I seek God, there are things I do not understand and I sometimes desire things outside of God’s will.

I have prayed for my husband, my children and myself watching God answer prayer after prayer in His time, in His way. Maybe my distance from the political office keeps me from believing my prayers make a difference. Maybe I’m just so critical and judgmental I don’t really believe they can change. Two issues arise in my own life when this is my mindset:

1) I give myself authority to judge what is only meant for God to judge. I don’t really know their heart. While I may not agree with or understand their position, only God can judge the true motives and intentions of their heart.

2) I limit what I believe God can do. It is not by the power of my will in prayer, but the power of our God that hearts are changed and emboldened for Him.

Why should we pray?

It takes strength, boldness and courage to follow the Lord. In Joshua 1, Joshua knows the Lord. He has been faithful from the beginning. He is the new leader raised up to take the place of Moses after His death. God tells Joshua to be strong and courageous. To remember and obey all that God has told Him through the Book of the Law. Even though Joshua already has a heart set on the Lord, He needs encouragement to stand firm. Times will get tough. People will want to go their own way. They may come up against his leadership out of fear or pride.

As we pray for our leaders to be strengthened and filled with courage and boldness for God, we are as filled as well. God meet us when we pray for others.

What should we pray?

There are many things we can pray based on the person and the specific needs of a country, community, business or organization but here are just a couple that cover some basic ideas.

1) Our leaders who do not know Jesus would come to know Him. If we are to follow God, it is best that those we submit to would be leading us His way. In surrendering to His authority, they understand the limits of their own authority.

“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” 1 Timothy 2:1-4 (NIV)

2) Our leaders would create laws that are fair and impartial. They would not be swayed by public opinion just to be elected. They would not use circumstances as an excuse or justification for wrong doing. And they would not allow wealth to keep someone from a consequence nor would they use it as a reason to have a heavy hand and take more than due. When laws are applied fairly, mercy prevails.

“Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly.” Leviticus 19:15 (NIV)

3) Our leaders would be peacemakers seeking to reconcile and move forward with the necessary business they are in office to carry out. One key role for leaders is conflict management. As peacemakers, they are to help settle disputes between parties that disagree, quarrel and fight. Leaders should be unifying not divisive with their words and actions.

“Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.” James 3:18 (NIV)

God’s perfect plan does not always play out the way we think is fair or just, but in knowing Him, we can trust that He is faithful. He is and always will be in control.

Something to Consider…

What attitudes, criticisms, or judgments have you held against your leaders? How does your attitude add fuel to the fire or help others move forward in solutions? How do your criticisms and judgments move you closer to or further away from Gods heart.

In your own role as a leader, whether at work, volunteering or at home, what attitudes, criticisms and judgments do you find others hold against you? What would you want others to see in you as a leader?

As you seek to be resolved as a leader who you would willingly follow, ask God to not only help you bring glory and honor to Him, but that those you submit to would also seek His glory and honor in all they do.

Say What?

“Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone. But the more he did so, the more they kept talking about it.” Mark  7:36 (NIV)

I was reading Mark 7 the other day as part of my morning devotions. Jesus taught on inner purity, what makes a person clean or unclean, and had cast out a demon from a girl. He then went on to heal many people and everyone was amazed.

So why would He want them to kept quiet? Why not tell everyone what He had done?

As I mulled over this awhile, I continued to read the rest of the verse. “But the more he did so, the more they kept talking about it.” Mark 7:36b

Isn’t that just like us! He tells them not to talk and the first thing they do is go out and open their mouths.

Have you ever been caught in that situation? You are having a conversation with a friend, co-worker or maybe a spouse and you’ve been asked to not share the information with others. Often, it may not be asked out-right but you know based on the sensitive information that your confidentiality is implied and expected. Yet, you find yourself with someone who either doesn’t know the person or who, of course, you trust and you spill the beans.

Maybe you want others to know how concerned you are for your friend. Maybe you want someone to comfort you in your difficult relationship. Or maybe you live through the stories of others you know, good or bad. Even our prayer requests can reveal too much information about someone else.

There is another side to this scenario with Jesus. In Matthew 28, after Jesus has been crucified, died and buried, He is raised from the dead. His last words to His disciples before He ascends into heaven are “GO TELL!”

“(Jesus said) ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.’” Matthew 28:19-20a (NIV)

And here we are again, Jesus says tell and so many times we don’t. We are afraid of the consequences of speaking about Jesus. We hold so tight to the fear of rejection and the rules of the world that when given the opportunity to share Jesus, we fold. He opens the door and we close it.

Fortunately, the disciples did go and tell. That’s why we are here today seeking Jesus. If they had not told, what would be our state? I know what mine would be. It wasn’t that long ago that I was living like I didn’t know Jesus. But now I know, so I tell.

Something to Consider…

“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?'” Romans 10:14

Do your words bring glory to God? Do they reveal the true nature of the One who saved you?

As you consider what you are willing to talk about and what you aren’t, ask God to show you how to bring your words into alignment with His will.

We don’t always understand why we should or shouldn’t talk, but obedience doesn’t call for understanding first and complying second. Let God lead your words.

Child-like Faith

“Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:4

The disciples have just been arguing about who will be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. They finally go to Jesus so He can settle the dispute.

“Unless you change and become like little children…” (Matthew 18:3a) What does this really mean? Aren’t they already acting like little children? It doesn’t seem much different that an argument over who is mom or dad’s favorite!

This has truly been a difficult concept for me. Just when I think I get it, I feel like I miss the mark. How are we supposed to be like children?

Children are immature, yet we are to be mature, growing in our faith. Children do not have authority and yet Jesus has given us power and authority in His name. Children are  inexperienced and have little education under their belt. Seeking God opens us to His knowledge, understanding and wisdom.

So how do we do all these things and yet be like children?

Let go of your pride –The children came to Jesus. Our pride so often keeps us from simply coming to Jesus in the first place. The mere fact that God has made a way for us to be with Him in heaven is humbling. We do nothing to earn the gift God has given us. Pride says I can earn position, knowledge and wisdom based on my own efforts. God gives freely and generously
to those who come to Him.

Submit to authority – Children are humble. God has created a hierarchy, a heavenly organization chart. We too often want to believe we are in control; control of ourselves, our family, our work, and our relationships. We think we know best. We don’t want anyone stepping in telling us that we neither understand nor truly have control. God doesn’t need us to take the authority of those He has placed over us in order to accomplish His will.

Accept the truth – Peter says to be like newborn infants and crave pure spiritual milk. (1 Peter 2:2) Don’t settle for watered-down truth, religion that keeps you tied to the law, or truth sprinkled with fillers to make you feel full. Be satisfied in the simplicity of the good stuff, the truth of Jesus; not the junk food the world has to offer.

We can make all sorts of excuses as to why we don’t quite accept what the Bible has to say about sin, forgiveness and the changes we need to be willing to make to truly be in line with God’s will. We can continue to think that our experience, education or efforts give us the right to disregard what those in authority have to say. Sometimes the truth is hard and we want life to be easy so we find ways around the truth such as God loves everyone just as they are.

The truth is God does love everyone just as they are; but He also loves them too much to leave them that way. We are each born with traits and tendencies that pull us away from God. Jesus says, come to me, submit to my authority and accept my truth. We cannot do that and stay just as we are.

Something to Consider…

Is there an area in your life where you are keeping Jesus at a distance? Is there someone in authority in which you need to submit but have a difficult time? Is there Scripture that you just can’t believe is true or think can’t be relevant today?

As you come to Jesus with your questions and concerns, be willing to listen to His answers, move forward trusting what He says and continue to seek His truth in all situations.