“Pain Is a Place Where Your Will Has Been Broken”

“Pain is just a place where the will has been broken.” That is a verse from a song that I heard recently. I can’t get the lyric out of my head. That statement is so profound! It has stuck in my mind lately and prompted me to think about the power of our pain in regard to our free will.

Our will is described as “the faculty by which a person decides on and initiates action.” It has been my experience that this is most often seen not in our outward action but more so in our lack of choice in action. As Paul describes in scripture … “Why do I do the things that I don’t want to do and can’t do the things that I do want to do?” He is describing a loss of free will. Pain takes away our free will.

You see, when we are young and experience pain we often make declarations like “I will never … or I will always …” These are called “inner vows.” And they are usually declarations made to ourselves out of pain that was caused us by someone else. For example, a little one who is hurt by a parent or authority might say “I will never hurt my son like my father hurt me” only to grow up to find that that statement lends no prevention in the present. In fact, that young boy is now treating his son exactly as his dad treated him, possibly even worse. You see, that young one’s PAIN has caused his free will to be stuck in a dysfunctional pattern of abuse. Unfortunately, this often leads to generations and generations of abuse. OR NOT?!

How do we stop the abuse and have our will restored? First of all, we can’t do it on our own. Only God can bring restoration. But he will. He longs to do that for you and for the sake of your family. Ask the Lord to show you where the pain originated. If you have a pattern of dysfunction in your life and you don’t know why you do it, ask God. He desires that you be healed even more than you do. He will show you when you were hurt and by whom. Once he shows you the source and origin of your pain, then forgive the one that hurt you. As a response to the pain, you vowed AND made a judgment. The word of God says “The way you judge will be metered back to you.” So, because you judged a parent/authority for abusing you, now you abuse.” Once we vow to do something in our own strength God removes his hand. Forgive your abuser. Repent for judging and abusing others. And, most importantly, break your vow. “God, I relinquish my will to yours and I break my inner vow that I will “never …” or I will “always …” Ask God to intervene on your behalf so you won’t abuse. THEN speak a blessing where there has been lack. If you are abusing, you may need to go back to the one you abused, repent and speak a blessing instead. It breaks God’s heart to see any of his kid’s hurting – so break the pattern and stop the abuse. Somebody in your family has got to do it … OR NOT?!

 

The Day of Epiphany

Yesterday we celebrated the Day of Epiphany. It’s a great day! However, it’s sad that it’s only relegated to one day. Can you imagine living each day as if it were a Day of Epiphany. The word Epiphany means the “revelation of Christ.” Some folks have never had a single epiphany. Sad but true. I know some of you, at this point, are thinking “Good grief, Here she goes again.” That’s ok. I get it. I can sometimes be annoying in my faith. But quite frankly, that’s all I got. I lived a lot of years trying to make things work on my own. Luckily, for me, I came to the end of myself at an early age … 38.

Coming to the end of myself probably saved my life. Depressed, broken, divorced, exhausted, frustrated, and addicted. All of the things that I tried to “make work” failed miserably. Luckily for me, I failed miserably. Ironically enough, I was a pretty tough cookie. My life had been less than stellar but I had certainly learned a lot by the lives that I had observed. I learned what to do and what not to do. AND still, with all of that experience in my pocket, I failed miserably. That’s when I had my first epiphany. As I was walking away from what appeared to be a great life, i threw my hands up in the air and challenged God … “IF you are real – prove it!”

That’s when I began to encounter epiphanies. I like to call them Godincidences. When I chose to give up my strong-willed, rebellious ways of doing things was when the Lord took over and started making things happen for me. I no longer had to fight in my own strength. I no longer had to “make things happen.” I had someone bigger than me looking out for me. Quite honestly, I had spent an entire life taking care of myself. I was tired. Mostly, sick and tired of being sick and tired. That day, in 1996, when I gave up … was when God showed up. And boy what a difference a day makes. I want to encourage you in this New Year … try something different. Give up a little control. Loosen up your grip on life. Let someone else take over.

I always think of a New Year as a new door, a new opportunity to do things differently. Casting off the old and looking forward to the new. As for my faith, that’s the key. Standing in it regardless of what comes my way. I know that God has a plan for me. In spite of what I believe or even what I may do to screw it up … He’s got a plan and His plan is good. I encourage you this year to be open. Open yourself up to the opportunity of epiphanies. What have you got to lose? Otherwise, you are going to keep doing the same thing over and over expecting different results. Right? And how’s that working for you? Are you sick and tired? I get it. There is another way … Try another door …

Revelation 4:1 
After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice which I had heard addressing me like [the calling of] a war trumpet said, Come up here, and I will show you what must take place in the future.

 

Present, Presents, Presence

I wanted to talk a little about the Advent season. Advent is to me the season of Presence remembered. “Presence” represents God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. It is our opportunity to reflect on “Presence” and the effect Presence has on people’s lives. If you look at scripture, EVERY single time someone encountered Presence their true identity was revealed. Some were revealed in their true identity of evil and some their identity in goodness.

Let’s start with Mary. Mary was created to be the Mother of Christ. As a very young woman I am sure she was struggling to find out who she was. Suddenly, she encounters an angel of the Lord and HE reveals to her her true identity. Granted she had free will and could’ve said no. (If you remember she wasn’t married so this was not exactly an ideal way to step into your true identity – She had to consider that people were going to chastise her for being “pregnant out of wedlock.”) Nonetheless, Mary trusted God, in spite of the appearance of circumstances. She answered “Be it unto me Lord, according to Your word.” Because she said yes, she is forever revered as the Mother of our Christ. Mary had a choice. The choice to believe who the world would say she is OR step into her identity in Christ and fulfill HIS destiny in her… We all have that same choice.

We don’t realize that every day we meet that same crossroads of our own identity. Every moment of our life we are fulfilling a destiny. Every action leads us into a false identity or our true identity. Every circumstance that comes our way is a potential for growth. Are you going to grow in your true identity or build on the lies of your false identity. Mary could’ve chosen to “protect” her flesh (her reputation) and deny the angel. But instead she accepted God’s offer “Be it unto me according to your word.” In her decision, she stepped into the fullness of the destiny that God created her for. Advent is that season for us. It is recognizing Presence in this PRESENT moment.

This is the season!!! God is offering you your true identity. Do you want it? Are you sick and tired of doing things your way? There is a better way!! Is it worth it? You better believe it. It’s your destiny!!! I would challenge you right now that if you are miserable in your life, go back and ask the Lord where did I take the wrong path? Where did I choose to go my own way? When you ask Him, expect Him to answer! He will answer. Then what? Ask Him to get you back on the right path to your true identity. He never gives up on us but He often waits for us to give up on ourselves. When we are at the end of ourselves is when we realize we truly need Him. So whatever is hindering you? Give it up. Gift Him with your troubles, gift Him your false identity, gift Him your fear. Whatever it is, He wants it. He is thrilled to take it from you. And when you give it to Him ask for His Presence in exchange. Accept His Presence instead of your pain, your lies, your disappointment. That’s an amazing gift exchange huh? And once you’ve made the exchange, offer Him your life. Stand before Him in this present moment and say to Him “Be it unto me according to Your word.” You won’t regret it. You will begin to realize who He created you to be and it will be amazing. He did not create you to be miserable!!! He created you in His image and HE is amazing – If we are called to be a reflection of Him – we should be amazing also …So give it up … Give up your present in exchange for His Presence in this present moment … Just do it!

 

Gory to Glory

I have epiphanies in the shower. I don’t know why they happen in the shower but I am thankful that I take lots of showers. This morning the Lord showed me the importance of living our life in Christ.

I deal often with folks who have, because of trauma, separated from themselves (in one way or another) as a means of dealing with the pain. By the Lord’s leading and their free will we can lead those folks to reconnect with whatever part of themselves they have locked away because of pain. (Is. 61).

One of my favorite scriptures is 2 Cor. 3-16. Which basically says “We become what we behold.”

(Behold means to magnify.) If I am beholding myself and/or the trauma that was inflicted on or against me, then I become locked in that trauma. BUT, if I behold the face of Christ in those circumstances, no matter what happens, I can stand. I am hidden in Christ. Prayer allows us to invite Christ to show Himself in that trauma. Once we behold Christ in our trauma we can release it. Once released, the trauma (and the enemy) loses power.

Scripture says that the earth is waiting for us to turn to righteousness in becoming the sons (and daughters) of God. I encourage you today to stop looking at your pain and start looking for Christ in your pain. Christ is the key that moves us from “gory to Glory.” (2 Cor. 3:18).

 

Nice Is NOT Fruit of the Spirit

NICE is NOT a fruit of the Spirit. I had a lady in my class several years ago that was renowned for her “niceness.” After working through the issues of her heart for several weeks (in intensive inner healing) she finally slammed her fist on the table and said, “I’m sick and tired of being ‘nice.'” I applauded her. As a matter of fact, the entire class gave her an ovation. We had all discerned that that we were not able to see her for her true self.

Before I offend all of you genuinely nice people, let me qualify “niceness.” Webster’s dictionary defines nice as “pleasant, agreeable, and satisfactory.” Pleasant and satisfactory are acceptable but “agreeable” I have issue with. The problem is WE ALL SHOULD NOT AGREE!!! God is not boring and would not create a world of agreeable people.

You see, I’ve learned that when people expend most of their energy being nice they often put aside who they really are. Think about it, if you decide that you have to be nice … Who would you have been otherwise? I believe nice is a mask that folks often hide behind. (Especially in the South.)

The lady that I spoke of earlier was taught her whole life to “be nice” and by the time she was 50 she realized she didn’t know who she was. She was pretty ticked. She had spent 40+ years presenting her self to be something she wasn’t. And in doing so, she had hidden her true identity. She actually was a genuinely kind and gentle person but she had taken it to a different extreme. She was never able to give her opinion. She elaborated that she was never really able to disagree. In a lot of ways she had sacrificed herself for who others wanted to be. UGH … that (to me) is one of the grandest schemes of the enemy.

If we negate our true selves for the sake of niceness or to keep peace or whatever the lie is we are absolutely defying God’s plan in our lives. How can you expect God to complete HIS good work in you if you decided you wanted to be something else? So, here’s your ticket to freedom “nice” people. Decide today to take your mask off. NO MORE MR./MRS./MS. nice person! Embrace your authentic self. Let others FINALLY see who you really are. You will discover that God don’t make junk and you will be surprised the freedom you will gain in just being you. It takes a lot of energy to be something that you’re not.

Oh yeah, and in doing so, please don’t tell your family and friends where you learned this … I don’t want all of the “mean” people calling me.

 

Wash, Rinse, Repeat

Wash, Rinse, Repeat … I discovered last week that forgiveness is a lot like shampooing. Well, let me restate that … forgiveness IS NOT as easy as but is a lot like shampooing. It’s a process. Anybody that says it’s easy is lying. Without Jesus in our heart, we (as human beings) DO NOT forgive easily. I had a lady in my office just last week because she was still hanging on to unforgiveness regarding an old relationship. I told her you can’t move on until you forgive her. “I HAVE FORGIVEN HER,” she said through gritted teeth. “BUT SHE SHOULDN’T HAVE DONE THAT TO ME.”

Hmmmm … doesn’t sound like forgiveness to me.

First of all, forgiveness doesn’t end in “BUT.” Second, if you grit your teeth at the sheer mention of the “forgiven’s name” chances are you haven’t really forgiven. I felt for the lady. I KNOW how hard forgiveness is. That’s when I realized it’s like shampoo. Wash, Rinse, Repeat, (and for me … repeat, repeat, repeat.)

I don’t know about you but for me it’s seldom a one-time deal. I have to do it over and over again. (Forgive, that is, not shampoo.) I usually start the process out of sheer obedience. I do it because I know it pleases God. It doesn’t please me. It doesn’t make me feel good. I don’t like it. It is absolutely contrary to my flesh. Often, my justification is that they don’t deserve it until they apologize. (That reeks of God, doesn’t it? No, THAT, my friend, is what my flesh looks like.)

Back to the process of forgiveness … and it’s not to be legalistic – I am a very simple person and I need things simple – this works for me:

(1) I envision leaving that person at the cross. (That’s one of the purposes of the cross – a place to leave our stuff.)

(2) I leave the circumstance at the cross. (That means I don’t have the right to rehearse it in my mind anymore.)

(3) I lay my “rights” at the cross. That includes my right to be right. The word is pretty clear that if we defend ourselves God will not defend us. And you can trust God to bring justice and defense. (Trust me, I have seen the Holy Spirit in retaliation before and it’s much more effective than anything I could ever do.)

(4) After all of that, I forgive myself. (Hence, wash, rinse, repeat.)

AND THEN … I wait for “the fruit” of my obedience. If I growl at the mention of the offender’s name, chances are, I am still carrying the offense. If I feel a knot (I often refer to it as a “high octane ping”) in my gut the next time I see them – that’s a good indication that I have more work to do.

I was just recently inquiring of God about how to deal with a circumstance I was going through in regard to forgiveness. I have done a lot of work but I was concerned how I would interact with this person, knowing that even though I have worked through much of the forgiveness, I need boundaries with them. I expressed to Him that I WILL NOT BE FAKE. I hate it when people act fake. I told Him I refuse to be fake, so how do I act when I’m around someone that I’m in process of forgiving but my heart is still hurt and I am still upset. He laughed. And then He said, “Don’t stay upset with anyone!” Duh … (There I go again: Wash, Rinse, Repeat, Repeat, Repeat.)

 

You Don’t Want God, You Want a Fairy!!!

“You don’t want God – You want a fairy,” I suggested while having lunch with a friend the other day. She was complaining that “She was done with God.” She explained that she had been working on her issues for over 6 years now and she wanted to know when it’s supposed to get easier. (I laughed). I know her well enough to know that if I laugh out loud she won’t hit me. She noticed me laughing and was not impressed. “WHAT?” She said. I went on to explain to her the visual the Lord had given me in regard to my walk with Him.

“Our walk with God is like traversing the globe. We will go through seasons that will seem like walking in a meadow with birds singing and flowers blooming. Sometimes we will feel like we are walking forever on a seemingly endless blacktop with circumstances flying by that cause us to duck and take cover from relational debris. Often times we will walk alongside a winding river enjoying the beauty of the falling leaves. All too often, we will swear we are in a season of dry desert with no refreshing in sight and no one to grant us reprieve. My personal fave is the season of the mountaintop. (I once heard someone say “You have to go through the valleys to know what to scream from the mountaintop!”)

Nonetheless, it’s like hiking the globe. We can’t always have the good stuff… Knowing myself, if my walk were always good I would check God at the curb and keep driving, thinking that I had deserved the goodness and somehow my actions have rewarded me rightly. HA … Endless humanity. Thank goodness HE doesn’t leave us to ourselves. It’s the seasons of dryness AND the swamplands that keep us focused on Him. It’s the quiet nights on the highway alone that keep us grounded in the goodness of God. Without the potholes, detours, yielding, merging and so on, we wouldn’t need a God.

Even though we are strutting through the unknown – HE always gives us what we need. Take the Florida turnpike for example. Billboards everywhere offering you “entertainment” (anything from pecan logs to strippers). BUT have you ever noticed the rest areas and gas exits come at just the right time? Have you noticed that all along that exhausting, straight, two-lane flat land of road there is an emergency phone on the right of way every few miles? There are mile markers and reflective signs everywhere always reminding you where you are and to prepare you for what is ahead. God is like that. Our problem is we are usually too focused on the reward that we miss our journey.

So… next time God gives you a detour – write it down… GET the message, understand it, process it, take responsibility for it. Chances are HE created or at least allowed it for your best interest. Don’t miss it!

 

I Wrestled with God …

Last week I wrestled in my heart with God. There was something in my heart that I wasn’t proud of. I explained to Him that it’s ugly, it has a mind of its own, and brings HIM no glory. I’ve walked with HIM long enough to know that what starts in my heart will soon spill over into my deeds, words, and actions (And THAT certainly isn’t pretty). Most importantly, it was blocking me from being who HE wants me to be – so I asked him to remove it. (Simple enough – I thought.) He refused. I argued (as usual). When I stopped arguing I asked why HE wouldn’t just pluck it from my heart. THEN, we could move on and I could be closer to being who HE wanted me to be. He laughed. (He does that a lot with me – it gets my attention). He continued speaking.

“If I remove that thing from your heart then there is nothing gained on your behalf. If I SIMPLY remove it, you won’t wrestle with it and you CERTAINLY won’t be required to die to it. There is great gain in the wrestling of your heart. You see, that’s where you gain strength of Spirit – My Spirit, not yours. That ugly thing in your heart causes you to move in repentance before me. It reminds you that YOU NEED ME. It causes you to realize that because I (Jesus Christ) live in you, YOU have the power to overcome the ‘uglies’ in your heart. Otherwise you will just hide it and pretend that you’re something that you aren’t. Or worse yet, you will think that you’ve done something amazing by ‘managing it.'” I have realized that behavior management works great when we are young, but as we get older it simply takes too much energy. The other choice is to unleash my “uglies” in thought, word, or action – consequently realizing that I may be one emotional upheaval away from being alone with 39 cats.

He continues – “I give you the choice to keep it, nurse it, pet it, or you can choose to overcome it by the power that resides in you. Out of the obedience in repentance you can let that thing live or die. I know it’s there (lol). You can’t cover it up and think I won’t see it. [The image of lipstick on a pig comes to mind]. It’s your choice, not Mine. I have given you all that you need to live strong from within. It’s your choice to live in your flesh or in My Spirit. To remove that choice from you would defy the very freedom I have given you. The freedom to choose: to hide, ignore, or cover-up; or to recognize, confess, and overcome. The freedom to remain the same: hurt, wounded, afraid little girl you’ve always been; OR to confess your shortcomings. I desire to hear the ‘cry of your heart’ – it moves Me on your behalf. In your confession, I will take those things from you and give you new strength, new freedom, and new power by MY Spirit, not yours. Before long, you’ll come back to this ‘ugly’ and you’ll realize it’s no longer there, and you’ll recognize MY PRESENCE in its place.

“So, My little one, don’t ask Me to remove it. Instead, look at it, see it for what it is, see how it controls you, tell Me all about it and how it hurts you and others. Then rely on MY POWER in you to overcome it. It may be a little at a time before you know your “ugly” will be replaced by My love. When you go there to inventory it in the future you’ll see love instead. All I need is an invitation – I promise you won’t regret it.”

 

Don’t Disparage the Trials in Life

Don’t disparage the trials in life … THEY, are, in fact, what God has allowed to bring us to death in our SELVES and to resurrect in us who God has created us to be in the first place. Our problem, unfortunately, is that we strap those dead bodies to our back and carry them around claiming injustice.

In carrying them, we remain focused on the smelly rotten flesh instead of the lesson that God has desired. Soooo … God allows us another lesson of similar effect. He allows us the choice to continue collecting the dead weight until OUR bodies start to decay and wreak on their own … THEN, we often, recognize the death and our choice, or not. And the pattern continues. Our choice. LIFE or DEATH … (By the way, this message has no intent to anyone other than myself.) Revelations on the porch by Kerri Johnson, lol.