The Ugly Truth

It just kind of came to me one day, this ugly truth, after months of intensive emotional healing through therapy, transformation prayer, reading Emotionally Healthy Spirituality or EHS (Peter Scazzero). It was a long time coming, but it also seemed to come over me all at once in a single moment of revelation. I am a co-dependent person, attracted to controlling, emotionally manipulative, needy people. They fill my need to be savior, and I fill their need to be agreed with, praised, and approved of. I flinch even as I type it. Is it so bad? Am I quite so bad as to really think that I could play the role of savior? For the majority of my Christian life, that is how I lived. Now, I never in a million years would have termed myself savior, but the ugly truth was that I was in fact living that way. My heart was invested in my important relationships as the savior. I enabled, never challenged. I sought to keep the peace. I tip-toed around issues, trying to think of the response desired so that I might not disrupt the false peace that I had created all around me. Meanwhile, there was no peace inside.

I first realized that boundaries must be put in place in order for me to heal. I am not playing a victim card here. Co-dependency is a sickness in itself, and it is no better or worse than control and abuse. My greatest sin, and the one that colored every aspect of my life, nearly every relationship I had, was undoubtedly Co-dependency. In order to heal, there first needed to be a separation. Someone once told me that trying to heal a relationship while you’re still in it is like trying to fix a car while you’re flying down the highway. The truth of this statement has stuck with me. In order to heal myself and turn from my own sin of co-dependency and enabling behaviors, I had to first take a break from the relationships in which I was making a practice of this sin.

During the break, it was time to heal my mind…to go back in order to go forward. I had to stop denying the impact of the past on the present (another phrase taken from Scazzero’s EHS series). The impact of the past on the present is strong, whether or not I am conscious of it. I had to explore the roots of my co-dependent feelings and behaviors.

Having come to the place in my healing journey where I could understand the roots of my behavior and the lies that I was believing about myself, God, and others, it was time to begin to form new patterns of thought and behavior. This was the most grueling part of the journey. I was deeply embedded in the sin of co-dependency, hateful self-talk, and gaining a sense of worth from others. These patterns were not easy to break, and even today I can find myself easily slipping back into this destructive and sinful thought life.

I taught myself to recognize the warning signs of spiraling into these patterns. Once I could recognize the warning signs, I could make a conscious effort to combat the lies with God’s truth. No, that is not true. You are not stupid and worthless. You are cherished. You are loved. You are adored. God doesn’t make garbage. He has a plan for you. You are his precious daughter. He is captivated by you. He has forgiven you and sees you as perfect and holy, covered by the blood of Jesus. 

At times, I chanted these truths to myself over and over. At times, I cried out to the Lord telling Him what I believed about myself and asking Him to speak truth to me. At times, I listened to a few key songs over and over until I began not only to know about God’s love for me in my head, but to feel it deep within my soul. More often, I listened to or read the Psalms throughout the day, over and over. In a few months, I read through all of the Psalms a number of times. They were like my life support in these days that felt like the valley of the shadow of death.

After a significant amount of time healing, some of my former relationships were able to be restored. Others were not. It really depended on the person’s response to my newfound ways of relating with people. My relationships with other people now flowed from a new confidence in Jesus. I did not need the approval of others any longer. I did not feel a need to preserve false peace. I did not feel like I had to tip toe around people, say the right thing, and keep people happy. That kind of enabling behavior was behind me, and I was working to make sure it stayed that way.

Some would respond well, adapting to the challenges of the new me, realizing that I was no longer simply a “yes-woman” but an empowered woman, a woman with her own mind who was confident enough to speak her true feelings in kindness and compassion.

One of the most important parts of this journey was the process of giving myself grace for mistakes. I did not go about this process perfectly. Looking back, I can think of so many things I would have done differently. I would have been more gracious with the people from whom I needed to take a break to heal. I would have communicated differently. At times, it was difficult not to slip back into self-hate because of these mistakes.

The healing process was pretty rocky as well. I did at times fall back into old patterns of co-dependency and self-loathing. I did at times seek approval from others. It would have been easy to get into an even deeper rut when I slipped back into my old patterns, telling myself that I would never succeed at changing.  But I knew that I was not going to change overnight, so over and over, day after day I fell on my face before the Lord and asked Him to change me, to speak to me, to remind me of my identity in Him. Day after day, I immersed myself in the Psalms, songs, and prayer.

Forgiving self was the key component to successfully allowing God to heal and change me. Some Christians hear about therapy and inner healing, they immediately think that it is wrong or irrelevant because it is all about “self love” and that is clearly not biblical. But I challenged that view in my own heart. Self love is not the same thing as selfishness. And it is in no way exclusive from loving God and others. In fact, the way that I understand self love, is actually just allowing yourself to recognize and be aware of the presence of God.

I fondly remember my grandpa telling me to “practice the presence of God”, but I never really understood it until now. To practice the presence of God is self love, or rather recognizing God’s love for you on a regular basis. Throughout the day, in the still moments, I remember that He is right there with me, that He cares for me, and that I am His.

Scazzero suggests that people who are hateful, critical, harsh, and judgmental to themselves will unwittingly be so to others. To love and forgive yourself is not selfish, because love and forgiveness for others will flow from that. To recognize God’s love for you and His forgiveness of you and to make an effort to stop the hateful self talk and self criticism is, inadvertently, to love others. Because ultimately, you will treat others the same way you treat yourself.

These changes felt so very slow, but looking back I honestly can’t believe how quickly God changed me. Nothing is quite so difficult to change as the mind and soul. It is quite easy to move locations, to end relationships and begin new ones, but it is not so easy to change your mind. And wherever you go, your mind will be there.

To free your mind through healing in Jesus is the only real way to be liberated, free, and whole. I use to long to escape from myself. But Jesus gave me something better. He gave me healing so that I could forgive myself, recognize His love for me, and experience true freedom and joy.

I understand that not every day will be pure joy and wholeness and happiness. There will be days where I am tempted to slip back into self-loathing, and there will be days where I succumb to temptation. There will be days where I behave in co-dependent and enabling ways. There will be days where I seek approval from others. There will be days where I skirt issues to preserve false peace. I know that I will not do this perfectly, but now that I have the power of forgiveness buried in my heart, I can get through these days and move on toward a brighter and more hopeful future in Jesus.

So, yes, the ugly truth is that in the flesh, I am a co-dependent and enabling person. But the beautiful truth is that in Jesus, I am forgiven and cherished, confident in my identity as a daughter of the King.

 

Advertisements

Money Matters: Our Story

My husband and I have been on the Dave Ramsey plan since we married almost eight years ago. We took the Financial Peace University course through our church. We were engaged at the time. We were excited to get married. We were not too concerned about finances. Love is all that matters, right? But we took the course at the urging of our pastors (one of whom is my dad). Looking back, I cannot imagine where we would be right now had we not been actively working through the steps.

I graduated from a private college, so my debt was considerable. Our first year of marriage, we lived in a small apartment and we both worked. I was working as a teacher and he was making caskets. We didn’t make much, but we managed to live off of his paycheck alone. Every penny I made that year went toward my student loans. We had them more than half paid off by the time we found out we were expecting.

I knew that I wanted to be a stay at home mom. That was the whole reason we were intent upon living off of my husband’s paycheck.

At this time, the housing market was about as low as it was going to get. It was a buyer’s market to be sure. We bought a spacious home for under 100k. It needed a little work, but was definitely livable. It was not the best area of town, but it wasn’t the worst, either.

We moved in and had three children, one right after another. We had to slow down on the amount of money that was going toward my student loan debt each month. But we were still working the Ramsey Steps. We were still paying higher than minimum. We were still living off as little as we could.

My husband was given an opportunity to move from woodworking to car sales. We followed God’s lead, and we were blessed to find ourselves with a little more income. I continued to substitute teach one day per week and continued to put all of that money toward my student loans.

We still shopped Aldi and second hand. We rarely ate out, except for the occasional date night. We were happy. We knew we were working toward financial freedom, and we did not feel that we were missing out.

Around this time, we managed to get my student loans completely paid off. At this point, we had only the house and one of our cars to pay off. We do not recommend getting into a car payment by any means. Ramsey would not be happy with us for doing so. But in our case, it had to do with my husband’s job and the fact that we were given an opportunity for him to drive what he sells for far below fair market value. But that is besides the point. We were ready to pay it off. We had a substantial emergency fund. We had very little debt.

Then, came the bad news. We found out that our children’s lead levels were higher than what they would have liked to see. It was not an immediate emergency, but it was not good either.

We applied for the city lead program. After months and months of waiting, they finally came to do the inspection. A few weeks later, we found out that they rejected our home. It was more expensive than what they were allowed to spend per unit. So we were on our own.

This was a major setback, but because of the Ramsey plan, it was not altogether devastating. We have to get all new windows. Because of the age of our home and the size of the windows, it is particularly expensive. It will use up our entire emergency fund. But you know what? That’s what it is there for. It’s an emergency fund for times like these. And if it hadn’t been for doing the Ramsey plan, we probably wouldn’t have had an emergency fund. This would have been more than a setback. It would have been devastating. We would have had to refinance, take out a huge personal loan, or sell the house at a huge loss.

I hear a lot of people in my generation complaining about not being able to make a living wage. And while I sympathize and understand the frustration that finances bring, I also cannot help but notice that the same people who say they cannot make a living wage are also driving new cars, have the latest smartphone, by new clothes, and go to the coffee house daily. The people claiming they cannot make a living wage are often the same people paying $17 for a kale and egg sandwich and a mocha nearly every morning of the week. Financial stability has a lot more to do with your money choices than your income. You could make six figures and still barely be making ends meet if you insist on having the newest and the best of everything, taking on the highest payments you are approved for, and living in a home you can barely make the mortgage on. There is a better way to live.

Financial stability comes with education and self control, not a bigger paycheck.

I hope our story will encourage you that making smart money choices will be life-changing for you. Even if you run into a major setback like we have, setting yourself up for financial freedom will allow you to live free, not enslaved by your things and your debt. It will allow you to give to the cause of furthering the gospel. It will allow you to bless future generations.

It only takes a few months to form a habit. Once you get used to cooking at home instead of eating out, finding great second-hand deals on clothes, and paying off debts aggressively, you will find that you don’t so much miss your old lifestyle. You will find that those things were never making you happy in the first place. The freedom that comes from working the Ramsey steps is totally worth the self denial it will take to do it.

So let this encourage you that your financial success is, at least somewhat, in your control. You can make smart choices now. You can set yourself up to be financially free.

Why wait? You can’t control what comes at you in life, but you can apply godly principles to your money management.

Ecclesiastes 5:10-  Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless.

Romans 13:8-  Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.

 

 

Faithful are the Wounds of a Friend

Let’s talk about reproof. Yeah, I know, not a very popular topic, but it merits discussion as the Word of God talks about it. I will attempt to answer some common questions about why it is important that a church actively practices biblical reproof.

When should I reprove someone?

Go for restoration, not revenge.

When someone has wronged you, and your heart is right toward that person, reproof is the next step. How do you know if your heart is right in reproving someone? Ask yourself, “Do I want to speak to this person for a sense of revenge and justice? Or do I genuinely care about this individual and want to see her free from entrapment in this particular sin?” If you can honestly answer with the latter, then the next right thing is to go to that person in love. If you attempt to reprove someone out of anger or a need for revenge or the desire to put that person in her place, it is likely to go really really poorly, leaving more hurt feelings and bitterness than before. The goal of reproof should always be restoration and never revenge.

What if that Person does not Respond Well? 

If you have already spent time praying for this person, and you are certain that your motivation in talking to this person is coming out of a love for God and for them as well as a desire to see them grow, change, and benefit, then you have no business worrying about how they will respond. How you reprove someone is your deal. How someone responds to it is their deal. The only time that there is an exception to this general principle is when someone has a stacked history of blowing up in response to loving rebuke. In such cases, perhaps it is better simply to pray for that person. I’m not claiming to be an authority on this. This is just my thought. If you find yourself wronged by someone and with a heart that genuinely has that person’s best interest at heart, but that person has a history of blowing up in the face of loving reproof, I might consider talking to a pastor or elder before you make a decision about what you are going to do.

What if someone reproves me, but I really don’t think I did anything wrong?

This can happen. Perhaps you did something wrong, perhaps you did not. But either way, this person is coming to you saying that you have offended or sinned. The first thing to do is to remain calm. Give the person coming to you the benefit of the doubt. Assume that they are coming to you out of love and genuine concern for your well-being. Then ask yourself, “Is there any morsel of truth to what they are saying?” If there is, acknowledge it and commit to bring that area of your life before Jesus. If you believe that what you have done was the right choice, at least commit to praying about it and asking God to search your heart. Always thank the person for being concerned for your well-being and for your spiritual life and growth. Even if this person came to you with an angry and vengeful heart, they will likely be taken aback by your humble response, and you will have helped move the relationship toward restoration.

Lack of Reproof leads to Gossip

Gossip usually doesn’t happen because someone wakes up one day and decides they are going to slander someone and turn people against them for no reason. Gossip usually happens because someone has felt hurt, maybe even violated. It happens because people want to feel validated. They want someone to hear their side of the story and to sympathize with them. It is rarely as malicious as you might think. Gossip usually comes from hurting hearts- hurting hearts that have not been restored to the person who hurt them. When someone is hurt and prays to God for help in forgiveness, makes his heart right toward the person who hurt him, and goes to the person in love, gossip has no chance. It is stamped out before it even begins. A church free of gossip is a beautiful thing. But even when gossip does happen, you can still apply all of these same principles of reproof and go to that person. Otherwise, you will end up gossiping about someone who was gossiping. A bit hypocritical, wouldn’t you say?

I don’t like confrontation. Why should I bother?

Because if you don’t, Bitterness has opportunity to rule in your heart.

Without active reproof, churches will fall apart as bitterness festers in hearts. Members will come and go, but few will remain and see the fruit that comes from lasting relationships. When people wrong us, we have a few choices. We can try to forget about it and act like it never happened. But even if we forgive the person who hurt us, we will not have the opportunity for a deeper relationship with them, and all of our friendships will remain surface level.

We can let it fester and grow bitter. Now, this is obviously not the right choice, but unfortunately it is the one many people choose because it just sort of feels good to hang on to that resentment. Too often,  people intend to forgive and move on, but they never actually forgive. As much as they intended to forgive….as much as they wanted to forgive….when they hear that person’s name, they cringe. When they see that person in the lobby at church, they look the other way. A person who leaves enough bitterness to fester in his soul will, when once enough people in the church have wronged him, eventually leave and start the whole process over at a new church, thinking there will be better people there when the truth is, the problem was in his heart all along. The only real solution to deal with someone who has wronged you is reproof. Reproof, when done in a biblical manner, restores and deepens relationships, builds trust, and keeps a church  functioning together for the long hall.

“Faithful are the Wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.” Proverbs 27:6

 

 

Dear Single Sisters,

This is not going to be the obligatory Christian blog post about your singleness and how they are the best years of your life and you should cherish them blah blah blah.

I know. You have a biological clock that’s a tickn and you are going to throat punch the next person who tells you to live it up now because you won’t be able to when you have a husband and kids blah blah blah.

I’m going to give you some advice that may, ironically, expedite the process. Or it may not. Only God knows. But this advice, if taken, will make you more attractive and more prepared for marriage. And, if you choose to remain single, you will still find joy and satisfaction if you do this.

Here it is:

Convince yourself that marriage is not going to make you happy. I am dead serious about this. You must know this. When you know it, you will be more ready for marriage than ever before. Do you know how many women dream of marriage, but never think a day beyond? It’s like they think life is a Disney fairy-tale that ends after the wedding day. We are products of our culture, I tell you. The day after your wedding will come, and it will not be happily ever after. No matter who you marry, there will be hard days. There will be lonely days. There will be difficult times. There will also be good times. But if you go into marriage expecting that it will be the source of your happiness, you will destroy it. Marriage was not meant to make you happy. It was designed by God to sanctify you. Joy may very well be a byproduct of sanctification, but there will be little to no joy if you expect your spouse to be the source of your happiness. It will drain him. No one can do that for you but Jesus. Jesus can do that for you now. You don’t have to wait to be married to be happy.

When you are deriving your joy from Jesus, you will become one of the most attractive people around. People will long to be around you. Why? Because you are filled with the Holy Spirit. You are filled with confidence that you are loved and cared for by the Creator of the Universe. You know that you don’t need to snag a husband to be happy. You know that being single does not mean you are undesirable or unloved. You are happy and confident now, and that makes you irresistible.

And when someone falls in love with this beautiful, confident, joyful woman, he will have the luxury of being your husband without the pressure of being your source of joy. When our emotions are dependent on what our husbands say or don’t say, we drain them of life and leave them feeling like failures. Because let’s face it, the greatest man on earth will never be able to meet our need for attention and validation. Only Jesus can do that. So if you let Jesus do that for you now instead of thinking you need a man to do that for you, you will not only become a more attractive person, but you will have a mindset that is ready for marriage. You will be ready for a marriage where you are filling up on the Holy Spirit and pouring out into your spouse rather than trying to fill up on your spouse, who will never be able to do that job like Jesus can.

So whether you meet your future spouse tomorrow, ten years from now, or whether you remain single, you can be full of joy if you start really believing that marriage will never be the source of your happiness and that a man will never be able to give you the kind of validation that you will find in Jesus.

Does Your Life Stink?

Imagine you injured yourself, and it led to a gaping wound. Now imagine you did not go to a doctor or even attempt to clean that wound, but tried to cover it up. You use bandage after bandage, but the wound gets infected and festers. Eventually, it begins to stink. The infection begins to spread to other parts of your body, and before you know it, your life is in grave danger, all because you hid your wound instead of taking care of it properly.

Emotional wounds are like that, too. When we are wounded, we often hide it from ourselves and those around us because we do not want to be vulnerable, or because we simply do not have the skills and knowledge to grieve healthy. So, we cover it up. We use coping mechanism. We ignore our feelings. We find pleasurable outlets in a vain attempt to forget our wounds. Over time, perhaps you will forget the wound on a conscious level. But subconsciously, it is still there wreaking havoc on your life as it spreads to every aspect of who you are. Eventually, you become a stench to those around you. That emotional wound which you thought you could cover up begins to stink. You begin to reach out to people for validation, but they will never be enough to validate you. You will begin to drain your friends and family with your constant need for attention and validation. Eventually, they will not know how to help you anymore. So you will believe that everyone has deserted you, that no one cares, that you are utterly alone in the world. You will turn to more pleasurable outlets, some of which may be destructive to your life. You will look for your sense of worth and value in other people and other things. But always, you will be left empty and alone.

You will be left empty and alone because the wound is still there, gaping, oozing, festering, and stinking.

In order to feel whole again, you have to acknowledge the wound. Once you have acknowledged it, you have to uncover it. You have to stop pursuing your distractions, and look at the wound. Once you have acknowledged its presence and stripped away the coping mechanisms and distractions you have been covering it up with, you will need to clean it.

Jesus will help you clean it. All along, you have been hiding the wound from yourself. Jesus knew about the wound, but you wouldn’t let Him see it. You wouldn’t even look at it yourself. Now that you are willing to acknowledge the wound and stop covering it up, it’s time to ask Jesus to take a look at it. He is the Great Physician, the Healer. He is the remedy for the wound.

If your wound tells you, You are not enough, Jesus tells you, I loved you enough to die for you. 

If your wound tells you, You are so stupid, Jesus tells you, I don’t create stupid things. 

If your wound tells you, No one could ever love you, Jesus tells you, I have loved you with an everlasting love. 

As you begin to allow Jesus to speak the truth which is cleansing ointment for your festering wound, it will slowly begin to heal. It will hurt at first. Sometimes it will be more pain than we thought we could endure, but Jesus will be there with you as you go through the pain of uncovering the wound, letting Him see it and apply His truth to it.

Soon, the wound will begin to show signs of healing. The infection is gone. It is still tender, perhaps, but it no longer stinks. It is getting better and better by the day as you look at it, tend to it, and apply the healing ointment of truth to it.

Others will notice you are no longer a stench. You do not cry out desperately for attention and validation to cover a festering wound because the wound is healing day by day. We will not be fully healed until that day when we are with Him in heaven. Healing is a journey, but once we start walking that path of healing, we begin to look more and more like Him. We become closer and closer to Him. One by one, our wounds begin to heal, and we become a pleasing aroma to those around us.

Psalm 147:3 “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”

Jeremiah 30:17 “For I will restore health to you, and your wounds I will heal, declares the Lord, because they have called you an outcast: ‘It is Zion, for whom no one cares!’”

Isaiah 1:6 “From the sole of the foot even to the head, there is no soundness in it, but bruises and sores and raw wounds; they are not pressed out or bound up or softened with oil”

Revelation 21:4 “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

Transformational Prayer Ministry

When my husband and I found ourselves in an unexpected storm, a Pastor introduced us to a form of therapy called Transformational Prayer Ministry or TPM. I had heard of others finding freedom, peace, and success through TPM before, but I had myself been unwilling to try it. The reason I was unwilling is because I did not like the idea of going into my emotions and memories. The past is the past, right? Why worry about it? Why dig all of that up? I was so wrong. I did not realize just how much my past was affecting every single part of my life. It was affecting my relationships. It was affecting the way I was parenting my children. It was affecting my marriage. Finally, when I all but lost everything, I realized that the past cannot be ignored. It was a lesson I probably should have learned the first time I watched the Lion King, but I digress.

After having experienced something that was nothing short of a total life transformation, I began to eagerly tell people how God had healed my heart through a Christian therapist and Transformational Prayer Ministry. The type of healing that took place in my heart was deep enough to go back to my earliest childhood memories. I was healed not only in the present situation, but from words that hurt me as a child. I began to look at the world in a whole new way. I saw people as hurting, rather than antagonistic. I saw myself as valuable independent of anyone’s opinions of me. My relationships began to flourish. My children changed. My marriage changed. My heart felt light. I felt closer to Jesus than ever before.

So you can imagine my surprise when I was met with some resistance from fellow Christians. Some of them believed that a person should be able to find that complete sort of healing from reading the Bible alone. I have been a lover of the Word of God for many years. So why did I not experience healing change until I was willing to go into my memories?

I believe it is because as much as I read the Word of God, God was not going to force me to open up the areas of my heart that I was not willing to open up. He was not going to force me to go places I did not want to go. I had to make the choice to go there. And when I did, I saw that God was there waiting for me all along.

To practice TPM or go to a therapist does not in any way undermine the authority of the Word of God. It does not take anything away from sound theology. It is simply a method,  and one that works, to open our hearts to the voice of the Holy Spirit in a way that coincides with God’s design of the human mind.

TPM does not command the Holy Spirit to do our will….to drive out demons or to heal a sickness. TPM simply assumes that the Spirit wants to speak to us…. and asks Him to do so.

As medicine and knowledge of the physical body peaked, many Christians and church leaders resisted it,  believing that it somehow undermined the authority of God and believing in Him as the Great Healer. However,  as time went on, we are now able to see that God has designed our bodies a certain way, and given us this knowledge through discovery of His creation.  We know that if we break a bone, it must be set and put into a cast to heal. We don’t resist this, opting to read the Word of God and memorize scripture instead.  Could God heal that broken bone without a cast? Of course. But it is nonsensical not to use our knowledge of God’s design of the human body in order to seek healing.  

The same is true of the human mind.  It has a design. It works in a certain way.  Our memories are tied to emotions because God created us that way.  The human mind, heart, emotions, and body are designed by God in His image.  Whatever we discover of the way that it works causes us to marvel at His greatness and His intelligent design.  Therefore, to discover the way the human mind works and to invite the Holy Spirit into our hearts and minds through prayer is not to undermine the Word of God but to obey it. 

This is not to say that the TPM method is the only method and that all who do not practice it are in disobedience to God. No,  I don’t mean that at all. But I do mean that it is a good way. It is a way that works. It is a way that is backed by science and all that we have discovered about the emotions of humankind.

I have visited a Christian Psychologist and therapist quite a few times in my journey of emotional healing.  Having never heard of TPM before, this therapist has asked me the very same questions you see on the TPM prayer map. Why? Because she has devoted her life to the study of how God designed the human mind and hopes to use that knowledge to help people heal from emotional pain.  She knows that certain questions will guide people to the deeper memories and emotions they will need to access in order to heal. TPM does the same thing. 

My grandfather is the founder of Recovery in Christ ministries,  a program much like AA designed for addicts in recovery who are seeking to live a life surrendered to Jesus.  I showed him the TPM map. He nodded and said, “Oh yes, this is all very familiar. I’ve never seen it in a map format, but I ask these questions probably a hundred times a week”. He is a substance abuse counselor and follower of Jesus.  He took a picture of the map to take with him.

My point is this: TPM is not the one and only method of hearing from God. That being said,  it is an effective method of digging up emotions and seeking healing in a way that works because it is based on what experts know about God’s design of the human mind and emotions.  

To be opposed to the practice of TPM can be equated to being opposed to modern medicine.  God designed the body. God designed the mind. There are methods to discover His design and work in cooperation with it.  

Consider the following passage of Scripture:

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.  And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever,  even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.  “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.  In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”  Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.  Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me. “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.  Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
John 14:15‭-‬27.

If you are in Christ, the Spirit of truth is within you.  Does it not make sense to quiet yourself to listen to that Spirit? Jesus himself said that he would manifest himself to you through the Spirit of truth He has given you! He also said that the Spirit of truth would be your teacher, the Spirit that would bring to remembrance all that Jesus has spoken.  You can see that He is talking about the voice of the Holy Spirit in conjunction with the Word of God. Study His Word. Obey His Commandments. Listen to His Spirit.

To believe that the Holy Spirit can and will speak truth to you and bring to remembrance the Word of God at just the right moment is every bit as Biblical as reading and memorizing scripture.  Both concepts are embedded here within the same passage,  because they are meant to work together. We do not simply read and memorize and expect that to change us without opening our hearts to the Spirit of God and believing that He can and will teach us.  

TPM is simply a method of inviting the Holy Spirit to do just that in a way that coincides with God’s intelligent design of our minds.  We are made in His image. TPM is a way in which to cooperate with God. Please note, I did not say it is the ONLY way to do this. But to be opposed to the practice of TPM is to be opposed to a practical and effective method of understanding our minds and emotions and inviting His Spirit in to heal.

Do you have another effective method of tapping into your pain and emotions and inviting Jesus in? Wonderful if you do! If you do not….if you have never made this a practice of your life… then TPM is a simple way to begin obedience in hearing from the Holy Spirit,  that Helper He sent to be with you forever. That Teacher he promised would bring to remembrance all that Jesus taught when He walked the earth. We have the Spirit of truth in us. Take the time to get before God, open the rawest of your emotions to Him, and invite Him in to heal.  

If you are interested in learning more about Transformation Prayer Ministry, visit https://www.transformationprayer.org/

Giving their Problems Back

I am a classic peace keeper. I have done it since before I can remember. As the oldest of five siblings, it came naturally, and it flowed over into my adult life. I’ve made a habit out of playing this peace keeper game, always thinking that I was doing good to those around me. I realize now that not only was I doing little good for them, but I was doing harm to myself.

I would try to rationalize with people when they came to me upset about this person or that person. I would try to gently stand up for the person they were talking about by saying things like, “Oh, I’m sure they didn’t mean it that way.” Or “You know, that person really has been through a lot, maybe you could think about it this way.” Always, I would try to get together with the other person and see if I could also get that person to think more positively about the person with whom they were in conflict.

I was taking their problems, making them my own, and trying to fix them using my own judgement.

It was all an extremely unhealthy way to live. I thought I was doing so much good, keeping the peace, trying to help people see the good in each other.

But I was doing more harm than good.

Why? Because, let’s be real, I have no idea what this person or that person meant when he said this or that. I have no idea if harm was intended. I have no control over whether one person forgives another after a conflict.

And yet, I in my oh so great wisdom, was trying to force peace and forgiveness and reconciliation on people.

And you know what? Sometimes I was dead wrong.

Sometimes someone did mean to be harmful. Sometimes a person had to cut ties with another person for their own mental and emotional health.

Sometimes, I was so wrong. And in my meddling not only offered no help to those around me, but created turmoil within my soul.

I was endlessly trying to figure out who was right and who was wrong. I was incessantly trying to see the good in all people as it became harder and harder to see.

I was frustrated when people didn’t see things my way.

I was frustrated when I couldn’t make sense of what went wrong.

I was frustrated when I couldn’t fix people.

It was after describing my frustration to my counselor that she told me, “You can show compassion, but you have to give people’s problems back to them.”

What she meant was this. When someone comes to me with a conflict they are having with someone else, instead of trying to get inside their heads, reason with them, and force forgiveness, I can say something like, “Wow. I am so sorry that happened to you. That must have been a very painful experience. What do you think you are going to do about it?” Asking that last question places the responsibility of action right back where it belongs. I could also respond with, “I feel for you, and I am so sorry that you are hurting and you feel wronged. What do you think God would want you to do about this?”

When someone comes to me with problems, however deep they may be, I can take that problem into my hands for a moment in order to sympathize and express compassion. But I can’t keep that problem. Once I have shown compassion and sympathy, I have to take that problem and give it back to its owner.

Don’t take this the wrong way. This is not to say that I no longer have compassion on this person. It is not to say that I no longer care. I do. But it is the subtle realization that this problem is between them and God and the other person involved. It does not involve me, and I can rest in that.

If other people’s relationships fall apart, I can grieve it but I cannot blame myself or attempt to fix it.

It is a crucial skill I have learned- to take a person’s problem, sit with it for a while, show them compassion, and then give it back.