Promises from the Past

Then God was right before him, saying, “I am God , the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. I’m giving the ground on which you are sleeping to you and to your descendants. Your descendants will be as the dust of the Earth; they’ll stretch from west to east and from north to south. All the families of the Earth will bless themselves in you and your descendants. Yes. I’ll stay with you, I’ll protect you wherever you go, and I’ll bring you back to this very ground. I’ll stick with you until I’ve done everything I promised you.” Jacob woke up from his sleep. He said, “ God is in this place—truly. And I didn’t even know it!” He was terrified. He whispered in awe, “Incredible. Wonderful. Holy. This is God’s House. This is the Gate of Heaven.” Genesis 28:13‭-‬17 MSG

This passage really hit me.  In part because my name is derived from Jacob’s name and I have to catch myself as sometimes I tend to do things like he would do.  Since that tends to be a curse rather than a blessing, the blessing caught my attention.

The other reason is because I had just listened to the chapters before where Jacob had got Esau to trade Esau’s birthright for Jacob’s bowl of soup.   Then with the help of his mother had deceived his father Isaac in obtaining Esau’s blessing.  He was fleeing from the wrath of his brother and ends up sleeping outside and having a dream with angels ascending and descending a stairway to Heaven.  And in the aftermath of Jacob’s failures, God is there promising a blessing.

I often find myself focused on the failures instead of the blessings.  I allow the lies of the enemy to keep me from pursuing the promises God has for me.  I allow the enemy to keep me tied to the failure from the past instead of listening to the voice of God and the promises of where He is leading me.

But Jacob didn’t get to hear that promise until he stepped out in obedience to what his father had commanded.  He was running, but God was leading.

Yes. I’ll stay with you,

Jacob was fearful, but God was promising protection.

I’ll protect you wherever you go,  

He was leaving behind everything he knew, but God was saying “I will bring you back.”

I’ll bring you back to this very ground.

God was solidifying the promise that God had made to Abraham.  His promise was tied to his past.

I’ll stick with you until I’ve done everything I promised you.

I have spent much of my life distancing myself from my past.  I ran.  I changed my name.  I changed my life.  Yet, I still let it hold me back in areas.  I look to the greatest victories that God has brought me through and they are some of the greatest tools that He has given me to help others.  There is not a heart-wrenching experience that I have walked through, even those of my own orchestration, that I have not been able to use to minister to someone else, and generally in the most similar of circumstances.

It is as if God reminding me:

Yes. I’ll stay with you,

I’ll protect you wherever you go,

and I’ll bring you back to this very ground.

I’ll stick with you until I’ve done everything I promised you.

There are promises that I am still holding on too from 20 years ago, and some that He has given me since then.  I have seen God’s faithfulness.  I can testify of His protection.  He has brought me back to where everything started.  And I know that His promises will not return void, He has stuck with me even when I did not stick with Him.  He is not looking at my failures, except as a tool for His glory.  He is looking at the future that He has for me.  What a wonderful God I serve.

 

 

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Have it Your Way or God’s Way

But Lot protested, “No, masters, you can’t mean it! I know that you’ve taken a liking to me and have done me an immense favor in saving my life, but I can’t run for the mountains—who knows what terrible thing might happen to me in the mountains and leave me for dead. Look over there—that town is close enough to get to. It’s a small town, hardly anything to it. Let me escape there and save my life—it’s a mere wide place in the road.”  Genesis 19:18‭-‬20 MSG

I listened to this passage this morning and thought about the stark contrast of what happened between Lot and Abraham.   It wasn’t that Lot was disobedient, he just asked for something different.  How many times do I settle for less than God has for me because I want things my own way?

choiceLot ended up in the mountains shortly after living in a cave afraid to be in the town he had fled to.  His wife was turned into a pillar of salt for her disobedience.  Eventually his daughters got Lot  drunk and slept with him so they could have children.  There are always consequences when we want something our way, and generally they are far-reaching.  This decision created the Ammonites and Moabites, both fought against Israel.

When I think about the consequences of Lot having things his own way, and compare that to Abraham’s complete obedience, I am left wondering why I ever try to do things my own way.

The angel of God spoke from Heaven a second time to Abraham: “I swear— God ’s sure word!—because you have gone through with this, and have not refused to give me your son, your dear, dear son, I’ll bless you—oh, how I’ll bless you! And I’ll make sure that your children flourish—like stars in the sky! like sand on the beaches! And your descendants will defeat their enemies. All nations on Earth will find themselves blessed through your descendants because you obeyed me.” Genesis 22:15‭-‬18 MSG

Abraham asked to flee for his safety to the mountains, he was being asked to sacrifice his only son of promise.  Abraham had tried his own way, and got Ishmael.  But Abraham was not asked to sacrifice Ishmael, but Isaac.  If there was a time to ask God for concessions to His way, I think sacrificing my child would be the time, but then maybe Abraham realized what happens when he does things his or his wife’s way.  Abraham was obedient.  It was at the point that Abraham raised his knife to kill his son who was laid on the altar that God said “Okay.  You’re good.  Kill the ram over there instead.”  It was a relief I am sure to Abraham and Isaac.

God blessed Abraham’s obedience.  He had already made a promise, but he expanded on it.  Not only would he be made a great nation, all nations would be blessed through him because of His obedience.

I admit I am doubtful that nations would be blessed through me, nor has God promised me that.  However, I am left to wonder what blessing I left on God’s table because I insisted on my own way.  I question how many others are paying a price because God let me do it my way.  And I am hopeful that I will keep this in mind going forward so I can be blessed and be a blessing to others!

 

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God can handle it

I have been listening to the book of Job in The Message translation of the Bible. It is really interesting to hear conversations in modern language, it makes me take pause.

So many people are afraid to really talk to God. They think they must have perfect grammar, King James version speech, and get it all cleaned up to talk to Him. I think the book of Job is proof that God can handle whatever we say to Him.  I think if He would be offended at the candor, it would not have been included in His Holy Scripture.  Yes, He talks back and lets Job know he is wrong, but He lets Job and all friends do a lot of talking before God responds.

handleitI admit sometimes I look at things from a social workers point of view that were not meant to be. All I can say, is Job needed a social worker; if you look at some of the things said, certainly a referral would have been sent my way. Listening to it in the Message version convinces me of this even more.

“Why does God bother giving light to the miserable, why bother keeping bitter people alive, Those who want in the worst way to die, and can’t, who can’t imagine anything better than death, Who count the day of their death and burial the happiest day of their life? What’s the point of life when it doesn’t make sense, when God blocks all the roads to meaning?
Job 3:20‭-‬23 MSG

Or

Human life is a struggle, isn’t it? It’s a life sentence to hard labor. Like field hands longing for quitting time and working stiffs with nothing to hope for but payday, I’m given a life that meanders and goes nowhere— months of aimlessness, nights of misery! I go to bed and think, ‘How long till I can get up?’ I toss and turn as the night drags on—and I’m fed up! I’m covered with maggots and scabs. My skin gets scaly and hard, then oozes with pus. My days come and go swifter than the click of knitting needles, and then the yarn runs out—an unfinished life! Job 7:1‭-‬6 MSG

It is so real and honest. I can see someone going on this rant. I can see those who care about them expressing concern for this line of thinking, and bringing them to see me. Then I can see the speaker sitting remorseful for feeling this way, let alone voicing it.

The reality is, many of us have those thoughts and feelings. The book of Job is proof that God wanted us to understand that it was okay. It is what we do with those thoughts and feelings that matters. And again, Job is great examples of how to handle these emotions.

But for as long as I draw breath, and for as long as God breathes life into me, I refuse to say one word that isn’t true. I refuse to confess to any charge that’s false. There is no way I’ll ever agree to your accusations. I’ll not deny my integrity even if it costs me my life. I’m holding fast to my integrity and not loosening my grip— and, believe me, I’ll never regret it. Job 27:1‭-‬6 MSG

I can sit and stew on something for a long time, and reality is, it will turn a anthill into Mt Everest when I do. Or I can voice my frustrations to a few trusted friends, or better yet God and move forward.  God gave us emotions. God knows what we are thinking and feeling, and God can handle it.  We can voice it to Him, without proper grammar, without KGV language, just as we are in conversation to Him.  God can handle it!

 

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Missing information

Each year I try to do a Read Through the Bible in Year plan, in addition to other Bible studies that I might do.  I have also tried to change the version that I read each year for the past four or five years, because I realized that I often “knew” a verse, even through I didn’t have a full revelation of it.  I would find myself, even when journaling, just skimming the surface of things I “knew” instead of allowing God to really show me how it applies to my life right now.  I started memorizing scriptures when I was two, so there was a lot of skimming despite a love for reading the Word.

This year I decided to use the Message version.  I have steered clear of it since the version came out, other than when reading it in conjunction with a written devotional or book.  I liked the idea of easy to understand language, but when journaling, I like to be able to break down scriptures.  With The Message Bible, it is usually passages with multiple scriptures lumped together.  To be honest, sometimes I really don’t want to write all that at one time.  Reading through the Bible in a Year, I thought would be a good way to hear (As I generally listen to that) and just go back and focus on things that really stuck out.  It didn’t take long!

prayingandworshippingThe end of Genesis 4 says “Then men began to call on the name of the Lord.” (NKJV)  I have read it at least a dozen times if not more in my life.  But today, it grabbed my attention: “That’s when men and women began praying and worshiping in the name of God.” (MSG)

It wasn’t Adam and Eve.  It wasn’t Cain, Abel or Seth; it was the 3rd generation that began praying and worshipping in the name of God.   I have taken for granted that praying and worshipping God was happen from the beginning.  Why did it take 3 generations to pray and worship the Creator of the Universe?  

I get Adam and Eve. God walked in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:8) with them.  So praying to Him might be weird.  Like talking in 3rd person or about someone like they are not standing right in front of you, weird.  They were also the 1st humans.  Most kids, even with famous parents don’t “worship” them, especially when the children have to face the consequences of bad choices.

I can understand Cain not praying or worshipping God. I mean, he was cursed after murdering his brother.  Abel of course was dead, so no prayer or worship there.  Scriptures indicate that both Cain and Abel brought their gifts to the Lord (Genesis 4:3-4).  Maybe the relationship that they had with God was one of a more intimate nature.   God was after all, their grandpa!

But what about Seth?  What was his relationship with God like?  There are only nine scriptures that mention Seth and eight that mention his son, Enosh.  There is a genealogy in the following chapter followed by the commission to Noah to build the Ark in the sixth chapter of Genesis as the people were so wicked. There is 105 years from Seth’s birth to the birth of Enosh.  There is almost no information about any relationships or interactions with God at all; other than Enoch, five generations down, walking with God.

Did they become so distant from God that they had to call out to Him?  Or did they have a new understanding of God, so the only thing they could do was worship Him.  As I asked myself these questions, I realized I may never know what happened in those years.  Why at that point in Scripture it is important to know that something changed.

What I can know is that I want to walk with God.  I want the intimacy of just being able to talk with Him.  I love that I can just talk, or even think and He hears me (Isaiah 65:24).  I have the privilege of praying to Him (Philippians 4:6) and worshipping Him (John 4:24).  But I also have the ability to fellowship with Him (I Corinthians 1:9).

I have to ensure that I don’t hide from God as Adam and Eve did in the garden.  Although I might feel guilt for my actions nothing is hidden from Him, so I have no reason to hide.  I also have to ensure that I don’t let my sins separate me from Him like Cain did.  Jesus paid the price to close the gap that sin leaves.  Thanks to what Jesus did on the cross and the gift of the Holy Spirit, I have that choice.  

 

 

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Thoughts on the night

Laying in bed

Trying to sleep

Instead my thoughts

Are going down a path

That is keeping me awake.

Thoughts that want to argue.

Thoughts that make me bitter.

Thoughts that make me want

To tell someone “how the cow ate the cabbage.”

Even though I have no clue

If cows even eat cabbage

Or how the cow digests his food

If cows do eat cabbage.

I realize that my thoughts

Are not productive,

But I can’t turn them off.

Trying to take them captive

Hasn’t worked,

There is some truth to both sides.

Truth in replacement thoughts

Truth in the bitter thoughts.

I find those are the hardest thoughts

For me to stop as I find myself asking

“God are you trying to move me?”

Quickly followed by

“Or is this the enemy trying to deceive me?”

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Extravagant Love

I love when songs come alive to me. When I am singing and get such a personal vision I know it is God inspired to take me deeper. There is a song that has been playing in my head lately, Extravagant by Amanda Cook, Bethel Music, and Steffany Gretzinger, the lyrics are:

It’s extravagant, it doesn’t make sense
We’ll never comprehend, the way You love us
It’s unthinkable, only heaven knows
Just how far You’d go, to say You love us
To say You love us
Here is all my love
It’s Yours, no conditions
When You pull me close
No I won’t resist

Extravagant

As I repeated those words, my mind immediately went back to working with children who experienced trauma. Many of the children that I worked with were diagnosed with reactive attachment disorder. In its simplest form, reactive attachment is a disorder with problems developing healthy relationships. This disorder usually stems from early childhood trauma.

Some of these children would come into foster care; well meaning foster parents would think that they could quickly help the child form an attachment. Time and again I would see the child push away the foster parent’s best attempts. At times, these children would do everything they could to sabotage their placements. Sometimes the attempts were unintentional. Other times they could be down right vicious with an intentional sabotage.

Even when the child was able to let the walls come down and start to truly develop a relationship, they often have a hard time comprehending how someone could love them. They start out giving love on their own terms. How it looks, when and how often is all in the child’s control. It is such a big deal when the child starts to receive the love. When they don’t push away when embraced, it is a magical moment.

I realized that I have been the same way with God. Much of my life, I intentionally sabotaged my relationship with Him. I didn’t feel worthy of His sacrifice, and so I would act out just to give Him a reason to reject me. I figured if I messed up enough I wouldn’t have to worry about attachment to One who would ultimately realize I wasn’t worth the relationship.

Most of those feeling are tied to early childhood trauma, deep seeded feelings of rejection. I had formed an attachment, but my father was removed from our home when I was in 1st grade. My mother was not a comforting person. I was left with so many unanswered questions. As a young child my perception of God was shaped by those early memories. My relationship with Him was insecure, because I was insecure.

I knew my parent’s loved me, just as I knew that God loved me. My parents didn’t know how to show me love in the way I needed it. Much like the children I would one day work with, I just didn’t know how to receive love.

Although I am learning to receive His love, I am not sure that it will ever make sense to me. God’s love is so extravagant. Little glimpses of it, take my breath away; even after thirty-four years. His extravagant show of love overwhelm me, often. I think of how far He has brought me, and I can see how far He was willing to go to show me His love and to try to help me learn to receive it, even conditionally.

I just felt that nudging, of Him wanting to draw me closer. The feeling that He is longing for the time when I won’t pull away when I feel like I have had all of His love I could possibly deserve, and still then some. That He is waiting for that time when I won’t resist, but will instead allow His love to surround me, not just in head knowledge of His love, but without buffer.

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A glimpse of love

I was sitting in morning prayer before church. My grandkids are here for the weekend, and so they sit on either side of me while we pray. They are most cuddly during this time of intimacy with the Lord. As I looked down my grandson laid his head in my lap and looked up with the biggest smile and love in his eyes. A love so deep that it just cut right through to the deepest parts of my soul.

My grandson’s bigs eyes don’t see all my imperfextions and faults, they see one he loves and cherishes. That smile doesn’t say everything is perfect, it is one of true joy for just being in that moment with his mimi.

I realized, that is a glimpse into the heart of my Heavenly Father for me, for any of His children. God looks at His children with such deep love. He sees His children not through a lens of our sins but through a lens of finished work of the cleansing blood of Jesus. He smiles over His children. He rejoices over us.

The problem is that we don’t take time to allow ourselves to see His love. He don’t still ourselves, or quiet our hearts long enough to allow His love to penetrate our hearts. We aren’t mindful enough of His presence to let Him speak. During this holiday season, I would encourage you to take time to allow God’s love for you to become real. Look for the little ways that He shows His love to you, and picture the love in His eyes and the joyful smile He has for you. You will be surprised if you take time to be mindful of it, how many times during a day that He will bring your attention to Him and His deep love for you.

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Unfiltered

Have you ever just needed a cup of coffee?  Old school coffee, not the k-cup kind.  Coffee where you grind up the beans, put the grounds in the coffee filter and brew a whole pot.  I love the aroma from the grinding to the brewing, the smell is intoxicating.  Even when I didn’t like coffee, I loved the smell of it in the morning.

One thing I quickly learned is you have to make sure the filter is in just right; otherwise, you end up with coffee grounds in the pot, and worse yet in your cup.  Nothing makes a customer or husband more upset than coffee grounds in the finished cup.  Unfiltered coffee grounds can run a perfectly good cup of joe.  I also learned that coffee tastes so much richer when you take the time to clean all the mechanics, the little mesh filters need cleaning just as you change out a paper filter.  I never realized how much checking and cleaning the filters could change the flavor.

Our lives are the same way.  Most of the time filters operate under the surface and we never really give thought to the influence over our perspectives. Every day the things we hear, and the way we respond, goes through filters, sometimes we are aware of the filter, but often that we have no idea about the filters we use.  Filters have their place.  Not all filters are bad, but most of us use them in our personal lives without even checking for correct position or considering they might need cleaning!

filterSome filters we can immediately recognize and make changes. Noise is a filter. Internal noise like when I am not paying attention, lost in my own little world. My daughter or husband will often have a conversation that I can not recall, because of the internal noise I was really paying attention to as they were talking.   They know if they want me to remember the conversation, they need my undivided attention.  They also know when that works to their advantage.  External noise is also a filter.  Background noise like music, television, internet or others talking can prevent a message from being heard, even if the person is trying to listen.

There are also some filters we recognize and  make accommodations for, but can’t necessarily change.  These would be filters like gender, language, age, and culture. I can not talk with my grandson at the same level I would my aunt or grandfather. Their ages, as well as mine, give each of us a filter which must be accommodated because the differences won’t change. I can not speak a foreign language fluently, but I can accommodate through a translator or interpreter if I need to communicate. There are even dialects within cultures that can create a filter. I have a friend from New York and as we planned a Christmas play I had to have her spell out the word “donkey” because I had no idea what she was saying as we discussed the nativity scene. Or another friend from New Orleans that would say “Come see.” with such an accent I thought he was saying “Come sing.”  What he was communicating was “Come here.” Our dialects were filters.

There are times, when I know people wish others would use a filter.  Like when the grandchild exclaims loudly in the store “Mimi, your butt is humongous.”  Or “He looks like he has a baby in his tummy.”   They are not trying to be mean, just saying what they are thinking without a filter.  Yep, that would be my kid or grandchild depending on the year.  At one time, it was me too.  My family has often asked me to use a filter.  I can be rather blunt at times.  There are times, I know that people could not handle my unfiltered self.  And so I take things through the muted filter.  I am still me, I just keep all that orneriness inside.

Then there are those filters that we have no idea exist until they are brought to the surface. Our experiences shape how we see things. Good and bad things can act as filters.  As children, we grow up thinking that everyone else’s world is just like our family.  Then we start visiting with friends and learn that most families do different things.

My daughter and I were talking about this recently.  She attended a group activity  and  were asked to share the worst thing that ever happened to them in childhood. She has a positive attitude and really struggled to find something. She wasn’t trying to be superficial, but she was raised to deal with things as they come up and then move forward. I don’t remember what she finally came up with or if she did – she was brainstorming with me like “My mom bought Kraft instead of Velveeta Mac and Cheese.”

As the other ladies shared, she realized that even though they were sharing through tears their pain, she had experienced the same things. I wasn’t married to her dad, he was an absent parent. I was an angry bitter person in her childhood, I yelled more than I talked. She witnessed physical violence, substance abuse, and was moved around a lot. She filtered her childhood through a positive filter and couldn’t even pull those things out until they were brought up by others in their own experience.

For some time now, I have been trying to recognize when I am listening or responding through a filter instead of being present in the moment. I would love to say that I have it all figured out, but even now there are filters that I know are present that I have to battle against. I was reminded of that yet again this week.

I was driving home from work and got a call “I’ll be home late tonight.”  It was filtered immediately through a negative filter from my past.  I was immediately taken back to twenty-three years before when my life had forever been altered by those words.  My life had been flipped upside down for some time following, and in those five words I was immediately back there.  I admit, I stayed there for a few minutes before I turned the corner physically and brought myself back to the moment.  I realized where my mind was trying to take me, and I spoke the truth out loud that I would see him later.

If I am honest, that filter didn’t start twenty-three years ago, it started in early childhood.  Only in the past few years have I allowed myself to process where certain filters came from.  Rejection is one that I deal most often with, and it is seated in childhood misperceptions.  My mind filled in the blanks with things it knew, when I didn’t understand what was going on around me and adults were trying to help me understand.

How does a young child understand sexual abuse of sibling?  As rejection.

My sibling gets alone time with daddy, a lot. 

How does that child understand “your daddy is not coming home for a while?” Rejection.

What did I do wrong that he has left me?

How does a child interpret being drug to older siblings school events, and then parents who don’t take time to come to any of the child’s events throughout school?  As rejection.

They don’t care about me as much as they do my brother and sister.

How does a child understand sitting outside counselors and pastors offices weekly for hours? As rejection.

I am not important enough to be told what is going on.

Children don’t understand words like abuse when it isn’t happening to them.  They only see the grooming that takes place that they are not a part of, which on the outside seems desirable.  The list goes on and on of things that my childhood perception was incorrect about, but no one took the time to help me understand.  It wasn’t until I was an adult and started thinking about the situation through the trained eyes of an ex-child welfare worker that I thought about the grooming process, the court orders, the conditions of probation, and being a registered sexual offender not allowed around children places like schools.

I didn’t realize how deeply that filter had become part of my identity.  I was more inclined to put up walls because I already knew I would be rejected.  I didn’t enter in conversations that didn’t start with me because I knew I wasn’t part of it and would be rejected.  Sharing what happened as a child, even though I didn’t know what it meant, suddenly would mean friends weren’t allowed at my house, rejection.  My heart broke as I realized how deep it went.  I didn’t have feelings of guilt or shame tied to my childhood past, it was just filled with rejection.  That rejection filtered most everything coming after it and I hadn’t even known.

If we can become aware of our personal filters, the change in our interactions can be pivotal. It is not easy to fight something that has been engrained for over 35 years.  Becoming aware that it existed was a game changer, because I can recognize when I am filtering situations and conversations through a filter of rejection and make it unfiltered.  I can cleanse the dirty filter so I can gain a richer perspective.

So now when I think I might be filtering through a false perception, I can pause and ask myself a few questions, just like I do when I am making coffee.  Am I in the right position?  Do I need to stop and wash that filter?

Am I looking through a lens of perceived rejection (Or whatever you filter things through – fear, lack of self-worth, anxiety, depression, victim, etc.) or am I looking though an unfiltered lens at what is happening?  Am I making assumptions or am I basing my view on hard data/facts/truth? 

Sometimes I really am being rejected, and while that doesn’t feel good it is not a misperception.  My actions and response can be based on that truth of rejection.  If it is not real though, I need to ask one more question.  What is the truth? And then I need to speak the truth.  I need to act on the truth instead of my feelings.  I might need to gain more information, but I need to work on getting the information, not just build a wall.

We all have filters.  Some we can easily change, like turning off the television or setting down our phones.  Some filters, we have to make accommodations for, like talking on a child’s level or using an interpreter.  Some filters, we chose to not use at all, like children in their innocence or blunt people.  Some filters we have to do some soul searching to see, and then we have to work to overcome those filters.  When we recognize the impact the filters have, we can start to recognize when they are at play and make changes until they no longer impact our interactions with others.

 

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Flip side

There is a flip side to every story, even a bad one. Last night our women’s bible study group was discussing offenses. The passage was:

Be angry and do not sin. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger, and don’t give the Devil an opportunity.
Ephesians 4:26‭-‬27

The conversation turned towards how our words and actions cause others to take offense. I have had the conversation with countless people, family, friends, clients. It is a common theme, people wanting to take responsibility for how others feel.

I do not believe other’s feelings are something people should take on for themselves. I am responsible for my actions, if I wrong someone I have responsibility in that. If by my actions someone takes offense, I am responsible for my actions, not their offense. I am responsible for how I feel, not how others feel. If my actions make me feel a certain way towards someone, then I need to address it. If I am feeling convicted, I need to make it right; not because I caused someone to feel offended, but because I am convicted. I need to make things right, so I am right with God.  My actions are not based on their feelings, but mine.

flipsideThe flip side of being responsible for someone’s negative feelings, is that I would  also be responsible for their positive emotions. Trying to control someone else’s moods is too much responsibility.   It is a full time job. Multiple it by every person that you have chance to offend, and the job is insurmountable.  We can not take on responsibility for other’s emotions, good or bad.  Trying to control my own emotions is enough responsibility.

This is one of those areas where my career field backs up my point-of-view.  I have seen too many abusers use the line “if you hadn’t made me mad.” Or blame their feelings caused by another to manipulate a child into actions that no child should have to do.  Control is something that is given.  When we take on responsibility for other’s emotions, we are giving them a way to control us.  Learning that we are not responsible for another’s emotions, helps create a boundary that people with abusive tendencies can not use to be given control.

Helping others take responsibility for their own emotions, and knowing that we are responsible for our emotions helps develop a clear boundary.  It helps to prevent enmeshment.  It helps to easily define where one person starts and the other begins emotionally.

We all have times that we feel the need to take on another’s emotions or feel responsible for them.  However, we should not take on that responsibility.  It is too much for one person to carry another’s feelings.  It can lead to abusive relationships and negative issues of power and control.  It also helps to define clear boundaries in relationships.

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When all else fails, or even better before you start your journey, realize that if you seek God first, He will guide your path right where He wants you to focus. If you are feeling discontent, look at how close you are drawing to Him. If you are feeling lost, look at how close you are staying to Him. At the darkest times in my life, He has been the one that I have drawn close to out of necessity and desire to get through it. When I was a teen parent, I drew close to God. He carried us through.

When my husband left right after our son was born, I drew close to God. I needed His guidance and direction because I had no idea what to do. He taught me what it meant to depend on Him.

When I was homeless, I drew close to God. He directed me to the support system that could help me and that would help me get back on the right path.

When my father was diagnosed with cancer, I drew close to God. When he died, I was so angry at God. I didn’t draw close to Him, but His right hand still held me.

When I remarried, I drew close to God. He had to be the center of our relationship if we were going to make it.

When I pursued a college education away from all my support system, I had to draw close to God. This was probably my favorite time as I learned what it meant to have a personal relationship with Him. I was saved at an early age, but no one had taught me about pursuing Him for myself.

When my best friend died tragically, I drew close to Him. I got to see God work miracles for me and encouraged me throughout that time.

When I started working as a Social Worker, I drew close to God. He taught me what it meant to carry other’s burdens and how to release them to Him. I have seen Him work mightily in the lives that I have worked in, direct answers to prayers that only He could answer.

Throughout my marriage, I have drawn close to God. He has taught me so much about myself, changed me in ways I didn’t know needed changing.

As a parent, I drew close to God, I needed His wisdom and guidance because they didn’t come with instruction manuals.

As I think about the plans and purposes that God has for my life, I know that the only way that I can focus on what He wants for me, His perfect will, is to draw close to Him. To seek His voice, I have to be close enough to hear Him. To allow His hand to guide me, I have to be close enough for Him to touch me. To find my purpose, I have to focus on Him.

2018Write31Days
This blog is part of a #Write31Days series on Focus with prompts by #FMFParty. Write 31 Days is an online writing challenge, where bloggers pick one topic and write a post on that topic every day. Five Minute Fridays provides prompts and encourages writers to free write for five minutes on the prompt.

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