Category Archives: hope

Restoring Broken Relationships

While confession can be good for the soul… it is often one of the most difficult things to do.  None of us likes to expose the fact that we are the cause for a break in the separation of any type of relationship.  Maintaining an appearance that ‘all is well’ can become a full time job for us.  Most people haven’t committed a murder, or held up a bank… so it is easy to find ways to ‘smooth it over’.  How much energy does that take?

In truth, we are all guilty of breaking relationships from time to time.  Fortunately, Jesus is pretty realistic when it comes to his understanding of our broken relationships.  He experienced them daily.  He carried them to the cross.  Fortunately, his message to us is that broken relationships are not the end of the road in our experience as human beings.

Broken relationships can be confessed.

Broken relationships can be forgiven.

Broken relationships can be restored, and the people involved can be set free.

At least a third of his teachings involved forgiveness at some level.  His life was a model for living a life of forgiveness.  Again and again, he taught to bless those who  persecute you… to forgive, even when it is not deserved.  When he taught us to pray, he said, ‘Keep us forgiven… while we forgive others.’

To turn our hearts in such a way that allows us to do our part in the restoring of a broken relationship, we need to be able to open the bad in us, as well as the good.  We need to refuse attempting to hide behind a ‘moral’ lifestyle as a way to save face with others.  We need to stop pretending to be anyone other than who… we… are…

Tell it like it is… not just about the person who is in a broken relationship with you… but also about  yourself.  Let go of image management.  Let go of manipulation.  Let go of being obsessed with yourself.

Jesus laid down the power over his own life.

Jesus suffered.

Jesus took on the broken relationships of the whole world, so that we would not miss out on the ability to see past our shame, and get to a place where we could be who we are… no more… no less.

Confess your shame.

Forgive and be forgiven.

And move on…

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No more… no less…

It is a painful experience to face the shame and brokenness in our lives… and who among us are so masochistic enough that we, with joy look at inflicting it on ourselves.  What we must come to realize is that in the current condition of life, there will be plenty of inner things to endure… so much so that we don’t need to be looking for more and more of it.  There is plenty to unearth if given time and space to see it.  Each layer that we pull back in our soul will reveal more and more of it until we can get to that place where we can see that who we are is enough… no more… no less.

On Fear…

Fear isn’t always a negative thing.  Sometimes its that instinct that kicks in when you turn the wrong way down a one way street, and you see those headlights coming straight for you.  There is a signal inside of you that says… “Hey, look out!”

Fear can become a problem though when you start feeling negative vibes about things that aren’t real, or when something is out of proportion to reality.  You can become consumed with protecting yourself at all time… and at all costs.  A perceived threat that brings into question your safety and security can overtake you to the point of paralysis.  That’s not good.

Often times, we feel a sense of anxiety that causes us to lose sleep, worry, and carry an unrelenting sense of dread.  When examined, we aren’t always able to pinpoint what is actually causing this fear.

So, we need to ask the question: Where the heck is this coming from?

Truth is, it could be any number of factors:

  • It could be something as simple as the nightly news… an external situation… or a hurried life.
  • It could be something that is happening to you physically… a sickness… or lack of sleep.
  • It could be something from your upbringing… a parent who always worried… or lack of consistency.
  • It could be something traumatizing… an event from your past… or an experience of failure.

Some of us have phobias: fear of specific things.  Spiders are a good example of this.  How many time have you been tinkering around the house, when suddenly a scream came from a different room?  You rush to the rescue to find someone standing on top of the toilet pointing frantically to the small arachnid in the corner.

Some of us have an acute sensitivity to panic.  The feeling of being out of control… or closed in on.  Heartbeat racing… breathing at a loss… and dizziness.  That sense that the floor is going to drop out, and the lack of faith that anything will catch them from the free fall.

All of us at one time or another have experienced rejection in relationships… What follows for some is the devastating sense that they will never have the knowledge of true intimacy… true knowing and being known… no sense of belonging to another.  This path toward feelings of abandonment to death is a fear that is very real if you are in the middle of it.

It’s important to pause in these moments of fear and ask a few questions:

  • What is it that is making you afraid or anxious?
  • How far back can you see this particular fear reaching into your life?
  • Are there specific situations/objects/ or persons that take you to this place?
  • Are there just certain times when this feeling overtakes you?
  • What tends to make it ‘go away’?
  • How do you cope with it all when you are in the thick of it?
  • Is your health a factor in all of this?
  • What do you think your life would be like if you could break free from the grip of fear and anxiety?

It is important to got on top of the questions listed above with knowledge and with truth.  I’m not saying that it is all ‘in your head’… but quite often, the clarity that knowledge and truth can bring can be the stepping stone to finding your way out of the this internal black hole.  It’s possible that you may adhere to a belief system about something in specific that is irrational, and drives you deeper into the darkness.  Often times, lies and deceptions are the root of many of our fears, and it is necessary to take a shovel to them and dig them out… call them what they are.

Anxiety can spread among those who are close to you.  If you look back just a bit into watching someone else deal with fear and anxiety, and you should be able to recall the ‘feeling in the room’ that was driven by someone overtaken with fear.  This is why horror movies are even scarier in the mass hysteria of a movie theater than in the comfort of your own living room.

Take the time to sort through your fears… and with a little patient, you can have the peace of mind to see things as they truly are, and not just how they are perceived.

By changing your patterns of thought about a certain issue that causes you anxiety, you should be able to see the triggers that plunge you into the darkness of dread.  By moving forward, in the company of those who care for you, there will eventually be a light at the end of the tunnel where breathing, and opening your eyes to the wonderful world around you will become the reality you long for when all hope seems lost.

On Discouragement…

Moments of despair, sadness, or a lack of confidence can often times leave us disheartened.  After that, the internal mind-games begin, and if you aren’t careful, a downward spiral can begin to unravel our sense of worth.  It’s easy to then begin blaming yourself for the current state of affairs and begin to feel like a complete failure.

Questions will assuredly follow: “What if I had…?”  It is easy to become overwhelmed with the sound of, ‘I blew it’ playing over and over in our head.

There is a bigger picture to your life than what is immediately in front of you.  Even when things are going well… and it is especially important to remember this when life is down in the dumps.  If discouragement is not dealt with, the natural slide is one that leads to depression.  We must be taught to deal with discouragement before the bottom drops out.

The circumstances that lead to discouragement take many shapes, including but not limited to:

  • Carrying the weigh of one’s worries, cares, and fears all alone.
  • Events that our out of one’s control.
  • Circumstances that were handled poorly.
  • Current or past failures that creep in on how one sees their future unfolding.

It is important at the onset of feelings of discouragement to stop and ask a few questions:

  • What is happening right now that is making you feel discouraged?
  • Are these events out of your control?
  • What are three adjectives you would use to describe yourself right now?
  • How do you think that other people see you right now?
  • How are you handling your discouragement?
  • Does the plan you have for your life seem off-track now?
  • Are you able to cast a vision for your life 3 to 5 years from now?
  • Is failure in this area of your life an option right now?
  • Are you able to envision yourself succeeding again in any area of your life?

Feelings of discouragement need to trigger a ‘pause’ moment in your life.  A time to take inventory of where you are at, and where you could possibly be going now that an area seems to have reached a ‘dead end’.  As part of this emotional, psychological and physical inventory, you will need to draw into account previous times when you reached a ‘dead end’ and to remember how things ironed out for you.  It is important to have this perspective, because  you will need to remember that all thing, good and bad, do come to a pass… and life will continue on to brighter days.

Life gets ‘out of control’.

Every discouragement in your journey is an opportunity to grow and rediscover the person you were created to be.  This moment is not the end.  Feelings of discouragement are a natural part of being human, and nobody is beyond its grasp… but none of us need to be overtaken by its grip.  And when this moment passes, you can rest assured that in the future, there will be these moments again.

So… be realistic.  Understand that every mornings darkness is broken by the dawn of a new day.  The more positive events of the future are just as much out of your control as as the dark days you are in now.  Take this moment to rethink your goals and seek out new opportunities to grow.  Stop playing the ‘what if I had done something different’ game, and move forward into your new life.  When low feelings begin to weigh you down, acknowledge them, and talk through it with someone… then move on.  Write down your thoughts and feelings as a way to get them from just being internally processed and then revisit them a few months later.  Pay attention to where you have been in relationship to where you are now.

Most importantly… live in anticipation… be ready for new doors to open… new plans in your future… new confidences in yourself and in life around you.