Tag Archive | freedom

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.

Practice and Experience Change

Butterfly“Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.” Philippians 4:9 (The Message)

I’ve been co-leading a morning women’s group with a friend and have been thinking about some of our first lessons and topics of discussion. I’ve found it can be so easy to read, talk about and consider various verses that are meant to help us understand what God really wants for us. We are to put into practice all we have learned, seen, heard and come to understand. But I wonder, do we really or rarely apply them to our lives?

Our very first discussion was on Philippians 4:8 and what we think about. We recently talked about self-control, one of the traits of the fruit of the Spirit. Self-control is the turning to God in all situations and decisions. It is the giving up of our excuses, justifications and blame games and allowing Him to lead us knowing He is in control of everything.

So when we who have the Holy Spirit living inside us say we can’t stop thinking about something that is troublesome or worrisome, ugly, evil or hateful, we choose to rely on ourselves rather than God and the power of the Holy Spirit to help us make the change.

My oldest daughter has a friend who had said some very mean and ugly things to her. She accused her and condemned her based on information from a third-party.

My daughter is relationship oriented. She loves friendships! Always has. As a toddler, nothing made her more excited than seeing a friend outside playing and knowing she was able to go out and join the fun. A friend constituted anyone her same size! Sleepovers, play dates and outings were her source of enjoyment. As a teenager, she didn’t have as many friends, but she was very loyal and mindful of all her friends.

So when this particular friend decided to act out on what she heard rather than talking to her and expressing her concern, I was quite upset and put out. I wanted to lash out at this girl…and her mother. I replayed over and over in my mind the messages my daughter had received and all the things I could say or do in response. I was consumed for a time with very angry and bitter thoughts. It carried over into conversations affecting the tone I used with others. As I realized how this was hindering my joy and relationships, I knew my thoughts needed to change.

Philippians 4:8 came to mind and I realized that nothing going through my mind was lovely, excellent or praiseworthy. It may or may not be true, but I didn’t even know the whole story at that point and was making judgments based on partial information just as this friend had done to my daughter. That wasn’t just or noble.

I began to thank God for the relationship I have with my daughter and that she chose to talk with me about the problem. I prayed the truth would be revealed and her reputation restored. I praised God who can heal any wound and reconcile any relationship. My thoughts changed and so did my heart.

While there were still problems and issues to work through, eventually this friendship was restored. There was understanding, repentance, forgiveness and reconciliation.

This is the ultimate goal in everything we believe about our loving Father in heaven. We come to know and understand the truth of who He is, what He did, why He did it and just how much He loves us. We acknowledge our part in the problem with a desire to turn from our old ways. We accept His forgiveness and move forward with God confident in our restored and reconciled relationship with Him through our faith in Jesus Christ.

“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 12:2

We can choose to set our minds on the things of this world or on the Creator of this world. We can concentrate on the problem or trust in the One who knows the solution. We can sit in our bitterness and resentment or we can allow God to replace it with His love and kindness. We can call out every issue we have with every person or we can be grateful that God, who is always right and just in His actions, did not hold our mistakes, or even our intentional disobedience against us.

Something to consider…

Do you have a heaviness of heart? Do you replay your troubles over and over in your mind? What thoughts do you need to replace with His truth and righteousness? He can lighten your load and change your thoughts.

Do you have deep wounds from broken relationships? Does it feel like there is just no way anything good can come of it? Jesus can change your thinking, change your perspective and give you hope that changes your heart.

Freedom

Numazawako Lake Reflecting Sky“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” 2 Corinthians 3:17 (NIV)

I know, I know, I know…

I know all the things I should do, all the things I shouldn’t, why I do, why I don’t, I just should, I just shouldn’t, the guilt, the worry, the fear.

I know it all, and yet…

In Christ, none of it matters.

I don’t need to consider my response to the world, but my response to Christ because He knows how my response to Him will impact the world; those in my life who I can influence and effect for Him.

It’s hard though, to remember the difference, to separate myself from the expectations of others trusting that their immediate reaction is temporary because if Jesus truly is going to have His way, their real need will be met whether it’s through me or someone else.

I can think of people who I no longer see because their reaction to my action was not pleasant and while I can’t say that I handled my part perfectly, I trust that God is showing them their part as well and is working it out in them to bring them peace in the situation. I pray they have grown from it as I believe I have and one day we will be reconciled. I’m open to whatever God has in these relationships. It may not be until heaven, but that’s really not so far off.

There are also people in my life who I worry about losing if I do not perform to expectation. Talk when it’s okay and when I do, say what they want to hear. Do the things the way they prefer in order to show them they matter to me hoping I get it right, hoping I remember, hoping they aren’t having an off day and really want something completely different. It sounds like the people I know are tough and hard, but really, it’s what we all do. We want what we want when we want it and are hurt when we don’t get it.

“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?” James 4:1 (NIV)

I trust Jesus knows my heart and I’m serious about that. I know there was a time when I wasn’t so sure I wanted Him knowing what was in my heart: the hurt, the anger, and the unforgiveness.  But now, I want Him to clearly see the intentions of my heart so He can correct anything not in line with His ways. And I trust that my desire for that matters to Him.

This is also my desire for those I know: to know and trust my heart, not only for them, but for Jesus. I hope that in trusting Him, they can trust me even though I may screw up and miss the mark on occasion.

Something to Consider…

Do you trust that Jesus knows your heart? Is your heart right with Him to begin with? Are there areas of your heart you hold back from Him? He has good things for you. Let Him in and trust His goodness.

Do you worry about holding all the pieces together, wondering what will happen if they fall? Who will walk away, who will be disappointed, who will help you pick them up again? In Christ, we have the freedom to do the right thing and sometimes the hard thing trusting He will bring good even from our mistakes.

 

Be Honest with God

California Poppies and Gazanias“You have looked deep into my heart, Lord, and you know all about me.” Psalm 139:1 (CEV)

I didn’t grow up going to church, but when I became an adult I had a growing interest. If Jesus was really God, I wanted to know more. Although my fiancé had not been active in his church for a number of years, we decided to go to the same one in which he had been confirmed.

I spent years going to church, sometimes understanding the message, most of the time not. Even so, it felt good and right to be there so we continued. I had no idea how God was using this time to speak to me and my husband. We couldn’t comprehend how our lives were slowly changing, growing and yielding to Him.

This went on for approximately 16 years. Over time, God was working things out in His way, in His time. We had become more active in our church and knew He was active in our lives. I thought I had come to a place where His grace was received, forgiveness accepted and love embraced.

And then one day, as I was riding home from church, an incident from my past crossed my mind. I realized that as I thought about it this incident, I had turned my head down and away closing my eyes.

I was trying to hide from God. I didn’t want Him to know what I was thinking, what had happened, what I had done.

I felt ashamed and ugly, not worthy of God’s view. Not worthy of the grace, forgiveness and love I had been cherishing all these years.

But here’s the thing about God: He already knows where I’ve been, what I’ve done, and what’s been done to me. When I try to hide the truth from God, I only distance myself from Him. I appear to have it all together on the outside while on the inside I’m continuing to live apart from Him.

God doesn’t just know my past, He knows your past as well. He also knows what you’re going through right now, as well as what you will experience in the future. He knows every thought and every desire. We have an entire life to live here before we reach heaven and He wants to be part of it.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” Psalm 139:23-24 (NLT)

When we are honest with God about our hurts, mistakes, and desires, He will help us let go, move on and move into all He has for us here in this place and at this time. When we are honest, we make our hearts available and open to a real relationship with Him. We are willing to hear His answer and receive His blessings.

Something to Consider…

Have you allowed God into the hurting places in your life? As you do, He will heal your wounds and mend your heart.

Have you confessed your mistakes to God, intentional or unintentional? He will forgive your sins and show you how to move forward in His right ways.

Have you shared with Him the deepest desires of your heart? He’s the one who has put them there. He will work them out in accordance with His best for you.

God’s Best

“’For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’” Isaiah 55:8-9

There are some really difficult situations and topics we deal with in this life. We sometimes find ourselves glossing over the truth because it is just too difficult. Rather than addressing the issue based on what God’s Word says about it, we say “Well, who can know the mind of God and what He really means?” And I completely agree; who can know the mind of God? His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts. They are well beyond my full ability to comprehend.

But neither was God’s Word written for us to read and continually seek out others opinions without deciding for ourselves what we believe.  We are to read it and He will help us understand it when we seek Him and His knowledge, wisdom and understanding. He has given us His Word for a reason; to know Him and His ways better.

“’I have spoken openly to the world,’ Jesus replied. ‘I always taught in the synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret. Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said.’” John 18:20-21

He has a best plan, path and direction for our lives. We often mess it up and while some of what we mess up is still good and not bad, it may not be the BEST He has for us. We can often decide what the best is for our children and others in our lives, but we just as often don’t think that same best is true for us. We want what we want, think what we think and do what we decide is okay. Who does it really hurt? What does it really matter?

We’ve all seen family and friends head a direction we know will get them in trouble. We wonder why they can’t see it as well. As you try with all your might to direct them a different way, they dismiss you, thinking your way is just one way and their way is just as valid. They think we don’t truly understand and so our advice is not relevant. I think this is how God sees us many times. He sees where our way is taking us and He does everything He can to tell us and show us the truth of where we are heading. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, He tries to get us to see the goodness of His direction and the danger ahead while still allowing us the freedom of free will.

While we do have free will and God can redeem and restore, heal the brokenness of the most broken, and bring good from the worst of the worst; our choice can be to look to Him for His guidance and direction and choose to follow His ways, not our own.

Something to Consider…

Is there a section of Scripture or topic you struggle with believing is true? Something you’re not sure you agree with as written?

As you read God’s Word and come across Scripture that you have a difficult time agreeing with or understanding to be true, ask Him to show you how His Word is His best for you.

To Forgive AND Forget

“A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.” Proverbs 19:11

There are times when people say things and I wonder what they were thinking. Did I hear them correctly? Were they joking or serious? They have just offended me and they have no clue. And then, I wonder if they care. Maybe they’ll blow it off saying it’s just a joke and I’m too serious anyway.

The truth is sometimes people do say things and they have no idea that it bothers us. They don’t understand our past hurts, habits or experiences, and they don’t need to. They didn’t mean to upset us and yet we think they now owe us big time for hurting us so badly. We react quickly and forcefully; sometimes directly and other times behind their back.  We vent to someone else or to the world through social media.

It’s also true that sometimes people push our buttons on purpose. Do you know anyone who likes to argue? There is something about the battle of words that they relish. Proverbs is full of words that describe people who like to “stir up conflict”. Words such as perverse, harsh, greedy, mocker, and hot-tempered all describe people who intentionally cause conflict.

There are also descriptions of those who have the opposite demeanor. Words like love, gentle, patient, and wise all describe the person who guards his tongue while he settles and calms disputes. In Ephesians 4:32, Paul says to be kind and tender-hearted with each other. When we are patient, we can step back from the situation and be objective. Does this person know my past? Do they have any reason to hurt me? What did they really mean?

And then we are to forgive.

Sometimes we may need to talk to the person about the incident, but often the issue dies out when we let it go. Our reaction to others words can intensify the conflict or calm a quarrel. If we decide to keep the issue going, we should realize that we may then fall into the “stir up conflict” category and that is not God’s way.

“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:13 (NIV)

To forgive is to forget. Forgiving is not the same as reconciling and it’s not the same as trusting. But forgiving is freedom. If you say you forgive and don’t forget, you remember and replay the incident in your own mind and it keeps you a prisoner to pain and anger.

Jesus Christ died for you. If you’ve put your trust in Him, God does not continue to remind you of who you use to be. He doesn’t go around with a check list waiting for you mess up again. God forgives and forgets your sins. As far as the east is from the west, that’s how far He’s removed our transgressions from us.

Something to Consider…

Is there someone in your life – at home, work or school, who continues to offend you? Seek God’s wisdom in how to handle your words and actions in order to defuse the situation.

Is there someone you bear a grudge against and won’t forgive? Jesus came to set the captives free. Don’t choose to be a prisoner. Allow God to heal your heart and your hurt. Forgive as He has forgiven.