Keys to Being Real

God’s plan for freedom is beautifully simple. He gives us these keys to find healing in our hearts:

Repentance

When we repent for specific ways we have judged people, and for the lies we have taken into our hearts, we find freedom. Repentance allows us to break out of the enemy’s hold on our hearts. We replace lies with truth.

Forgiveness

Forgiveness is one of the most powerful healing tools God has given us. When we forgive, we release others to be who God has created them to be. And we free ourselves to step into healing of our hearts. The article Wash, Rinse, Repeat will help you learn more about the process of forgiveness.

Presence

We have the privilege every day to just sit still and be in God’s presence. Quieten yourself. It’s the hardest thing you’ll ever do for your life. Don’t expect it to get easier. It never changes. It’s always hard. But the results are life-saving. Presence. Don’t leave home without it.

Accountability

Find people, a tribe, a community that will help you when you’re good, bad, or indifferent. You can’t navigate your authenticity without it, because you lie to yourself, and the enemy reinforces those lies. You lie to yourself about yourself, so the reality is you only have the Word of God and your people to help you navigate what’s true about you.

Truth

Truth is your greatest weapon against the lies that have taken root in your heart. A lot of people avoid truth because it seems harsh. Here’s the reality: If truth can save your life, and heal you, don’t hide from it. If I went to my doctor’s office, and he discovered I had cancer, wouldn’t I want to know, so I can be healed? What if the doctor didn’t tell me because he was afraid the truth would “hurt” me? Let God’s truth do its work in your heart.

Peace

Peace is a Person (Ephesians 2:14-18; Isaiah 9:6.). As you develop the practice of peace, He, the Prince of Peace (Jesus) will walk with you and teach you how to live in the now (present), in the moment. Shalom is mind, body, spirit in complete unity and rest.

Wisdom

Wisdom is also a Person (Proverbs 1:20-33). She will take up residence and walk with you, after you search her out in God.

Sabbath

God rested on the seventh day. So should we. Not necessarily the literal seventh but at least one of every seven. One hour of every seventh hour during the day.

What does it mean to rest? Quieten yourself, do things you enjoy: art, nature, music, presence. Quiet. Fun. Adventure. Friends. Puppies. Whatever brings you joy … recalibrates you … resets you mind, body, spirit … resynchronizes you with the Creator in rest.

You have the keys to your identity. God has given you everything you need. You are ready to walk out your identity quest with Him.

This is the last article in the Identity Quest series, and I hope you have enjoyed this series. To see all of the Identity Quest articles, you can follow this link.

To read more articles on the topic of Identity (including the Identity Quest articles), you will find all of my Identity-related articles here. God bless you on your identity quest!

Spiritual Identity Theft

God created you with an amazing identity. He has awesome plans for your life. Jesus wants to give you an abundant life (John 10:10) but the enemy has tried to steal your birthright. How? By trying to weigh down your heart with wounds and dysfunction. The enemy is the ultimate identity thief, and his goal is to replace God’s truth with hurts and lies in your heart.

Do you recognize any of these fruits in your life? This is the enemy’s plan for identity theft. (The links below will take you to more articles on those topics.)

Bitterness
Unforgiveness
Trauma
Fear
Sleep struggles
Emotional upset
Masks
Shame
Performance
Weight of the world
Sick and tired
Lies
Neglect
Judgments
Dishonor
Walls around your heart
Generational sin

No matter what is weighing you down, Jesus is here to bring healing to your heart. He can help you find freedom in each of these areas. You can read that in Isaiah 61.

God provides amazing keys for your freedom. To help you discover some of those keys, here is an article on Keys to Being Real that will show you how to start living in greater freedom.

To read the next article in this series, please visit Keys to Being Real.

If you would like to read all of the articles in the Identity Quest series, you will find them by following this link.

Personality, Talents, Passions

Personality, talents, and passions direct you into who God created you to be. God has innately deposited a plumb line into your being – a plumb line of your perfect created self. You can seek that out by pursuing things you enjoy that line up with His will, His Word, and His Spirit.

For example, obviously, drugs and alcohol may make you feel good, but they don’t line up with God’s will, His Word, and His Spirit. But hobbies, talents, giftings, or the pursuit/enjoyment of, help you to see and affirm who He has created you to be.

For example, when you listen to music, or you participate in art, in mindless creative artistic projects, you check out of your mind and into your spirit. And so your spirit is in His Spirit, and His Spirit is in your spirit. You are united with Him in the creative process. When you finish, you will realize you’ve spent time with Him, spirit to Spirit. It affirms God as the creator in you, and affirms His identity in you.

As you begin to step into your true identity, you may notice some lies and dysfunctional behaviors holding you back. That is the work of the enemy – the ultimate identity thief. To learn more about spiritual and emotional identity theft, and how to step into healing, this article on Spiritual Identity Theft can help you see what is weighing you down.

To read the next article in this series, please visit Spiritual Identity Theft.

The following link will take you to all articles in the Identity Quest series.

Living out of Your Creative Self

If you are searching for your identity, it’s important to learn how to live out of your creative self. This is living from the perspective of the Creator, so that you’re consciously aware of colors and smells and your senses are heightened. When you live this way, you’re smelling, seeing, hearing, touching, feeling your feet on the ground, and aware consciously of your environment in the moment.

The Word says we all are creative beings, and all uniquely in synch with each other. What is our part in nature? How does nature recalibrate us? How are we recalibrated in line with the Lord? How is our spirit in synch, how does our song tune in with nature and God, how are we a conduit for Him?

The Word says rocks will cry out and every being has a song, so how do we tune into that and calibrate ourselves in line with nature and God … as individuals … in peace and rest … coming out of disharmony, addiction, emotional discord, and hatred. How do we come into the shalom of who, what, and where we are in the universe as a whole?

When you begin answering those questions with your life, you move closer to your true identity.

To read the next article in this series, please visit Personality, Talents, Passions.

To see all of the articles in the Identity Quest series, please follow this link.

Art of Identity

If you are searching for your identity, here are some steps that I hope will help you. To find your true identity, you have to recognize your false identities, and you need to discover the things that keep you locked into those lies. You also need to listen to your heart, and listen to God. He knows your real identity. He created your true identity when He created you!

It is God’s desire to help you strip away all the junk that’s been piled up in your heart all these years – your junk, family junk, the world’s junk, the enemy’s junk. He wants you to let go of all that. Recognize where you’ve held onto things that block the truth. Find forgiveness for those who have dishonored your identity. And then walk with Jesus through the cross. That’s where you’ll exchange the lies for the truth of who you really are.

God wants more than anything to restore your true identity to you. Then you can be free to live as who you are meant to be; to enjoy all the desires God has put into your heart. And you can help others find the same freedom He offers.

Are you ready for freedom and true identity?

Here are some ways to start listening to God, and listening to your heart.

Exchanging Good For Bad

Take a pen and paper. Find a quiet place, preferably outside.

Be still.

Be quiet.

Take inventory of your emotions, good and bad.

Make two columns: Good. Bad.

Ask God to show you each emotion.

As He shows you, write the emotion, and ask Him where it came from. One at a time.

Forgive or release the person or the circumstance that caused each negative emotion.

Lay it at the cross.

Thank Him for the good. Offer Him the bad.

Ask God to show you what He wants you to have instead of the bad.

Write that down.

Re-check the negative emotion. Is it still there? If so, repeat the process, writing what you hear on each step.

Where Is Jesus?

Take out your creative journal.

Write your negative emotions, giving them a negative visual appearance.

Write your positive emotions, and give them a positive appearance.

Now draw what’s happening that would have put you in the places where you’re struggling.

Whatever the Lord shows you about the things you are wrestling with, draw that, and include yourself in the picture.

Now ask Jesus where He is.

Draw Him into the picture.

Ask the Lord what He wants to show you about that scene.

Thank Him for the answers.

What Are Your Passions?

Write down your passions, hobbies, ideal job(s). Now give those to the Lord and ask Him how to incorporate this into who He has called you to be. If you had a free pass to create your ideal work responsibility, what would it be? Now present it to the Lord and ask Him to open the doors.

How Do You Hear God?

As you go through this creative process, you might be asking, “How do I hear God?”

He’s not going to speak audibly. He speaks more loudly in silence. You would most likely have an unction to do something, or no sense of peace in moving. That’s how He speaks generally. If you don’t “hear” Him, you’d better not move. Or you’re going to have a whole lot of undoing.

P.S. The more you know Him, the less likely you are to feel Him, either. He will use anything. If a cardinal is symbolic for you, He will send a cardinal. That’s an example of the Lord using your environment to speak to you. A flower, an animal, a cloud, a puppy, newspaper headline, something somebody says.

If you wake up in the morning and you focus on God and read His Word, and ask Him to affirm His Word in your environment throughout the day, and then open your senses to awareness of those opportunities, you’ll start to see God affirm what He gave you in scripture that morning throughout your day.

To read the next article in this series, please visit Living out of Your Creative Self.

You can find all the Identity Quest series articles by following this link.

Who Are You?

WHO are you?

I am always amazed at people. I am constantly amazed at the level of individuality and uniqueness of people.

Even more interesting than the uniqueness of folks is the lack thereof.

Have you ever sat on a college campus and watched students pass by? Can you see the lack in their eyes? “Lack” you might say… they are in the prime of their life, no worries, no stress, mostly living off their school loans or even better their parents’ credit cards. But if you really take the time to look deep into their eyes, you’ll see what’s missing.

Now pull back in your perspective and look at humanity. Lack? Absolutely. But they have nice cars, nice houses, successful careers, yes … but do they know who they are? Not usually.

I have just come out of a year-long career change. I have been in inner healing for almost 20 years. For the past 5 years I have been a pastor in a denominational church. After serving in the church for the past 12 years, I started waking up dreading my job. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVED pastoring. I loved teaching and I LOVED preaching. One of the things I love most is worship. I was dreading WORSHIP!!! And suddenly I was dreading everything about my job. I began wondering what is wrong with me?!

And then I knew. I’m done. In hindsight, I realized that for several months I could feel my passion slipping. I knew I wasn’t supposed to be there anymore. And worst of all, my poor husband. What is he going to think? Who (in their right mind) walks away from a comfortable, stable salary and a job where you make your own hours and spend a lot of time just being with people? Me. For whatever reason, my heart was no longer in it.

So, I resigned. To do what? I’m not really sure. But the one thing I do know is that I will not spend my life doing what I’m not supposed to do. And I know when the passion goes, so must the job. Granted, we can’t always love everything about our job. But day after day, I don’t think we are created to live our lives doing things we don’t love. At least, that’s my truth and I’m sticking with it.

My daughter has a chalkboard on her wall and she has written on it: “Life’s too short to pay bills and die.” That’s exactly right. I believe God created us all to live passionately. I believe He has placed specific dreams in all of our hearts, and I don’t believe He would place them there just to frustrate us. So I have set my passion, desires, and energy to find out the keys to life and identity.

Jeremiah 29:11 says, “I know the plans I have for you.” That word “plan” means an “ever-evolving process.” To me, that means God has a plan specifically for me, a plan that satisfies all the desires in my heart. I don’t have to settle by living in a cookie-cutter world, looking or acting like all the other cookies!

Can you imagine? If snowflakes are individually unique and fingerprints are all different then WHY would God make His kids all the same? He is not that boring. He is the Creator. So, wouldn’t it make sense that all of His creations would be absolutely unique?! YES.

Let me try it from a different angle. I like to make art. I will paint anything. (I even let my students paint my Labrador Retriever as a testament to our art project that day.) I love to make art out of anything. Often I have made an image over and over to give for Christmas gifts or whatever. Even though I created the same image (Genesis 1:27) over and over again, every single piece of art is different. If I, just an artist, made the same image over and over, with each one different, can you imagine what the Creator would have the capacity to create?

So, I say all of that to say, WHY? Why would you want to live in somebody else’s personhood? What are you missing out on? What are you depriving the rest of us of? I can’t ever know you, if you can’t know yourself. What a waste!

One of my favorite pieces of art is a piece of pottery that I got out of the trash can. The artist threw it away and I happened to see him. So, I got it out of the trash. It retails in his gallery for over $500. I love the fact that it is a reject. If you knew my history you would know that much of my life would suggest to me that I should live as a reject. But I know my Creator and I know that He created me for a specific purpose and it’s good. Most importantly, I don’t want to miss it. I want to know the purpose and I want to live it.

So, I’m going to live. I am going to live my authentic self and see who I turn out to be.

Besides, the artist that made me and you doesn’t make junk. And He has a plan. And it’s good!

To read the next article in this series, please visit Truth Versus Lies.

You can find all the Identity Quest articles at this link.

Do You Know Who You Are?

Do you know who you are? Do you know who God created you to be?

Most people don’t know, but they are searching. I call this an “identity quest.”

How about you? Are you in search of your identity?

If you’re on an identity quest, know that you are not alone. You are in very good company. Many of us are on the same journey. There is a whole tribe of us, and it grows bigger every day.

Getting to know your own heart is a key to discovering your true identity. I hope you will find some keys here to help you along your journey.

Start with Your Heart

If you would like to know who you really are … if you are on an identity quest … start by looking at what’s in your heart.

What are your gifts?

What are you dreams?

Who do you want to be, when you grow up (in God)?

Don’t just skim over those questions. Take some time. Take each of those questions before the Lord, and listen. Listen to your heart. Listen to God.

Keep a Journal

Do you have a journal? Excellent! How about getting out your journal, and go over those three questions again. Write down whatever comes to your heart.

Or draw what you feel. Sometimes drawing images can help you get in touch with your heart in a deeper way than with words.

Do that for each question. Really get to know your heart, and the desires God has put into your heart.

If you don’t have a journal, you’ll want one, especially if you are on an identity quest. You’ll want a place to cathart, draw, write, pray. Tear out a page, crumple it, and toss it on a bad day. Write the things you want to talk to God about. Write what you are hearing from Him.

To read the next article in this series, please visit Who Are You?

Here is a link to all articles in the Identity Quest series.

He’s All We Have

“All my hope is in Jesus.”

Yeh yeh … sounds religious I know but the older I get the more I believe it. Most days, I believe it. Others days, I just want to chunk it all and hit the road. I am learning that overcoming the mundane can be as poignant as overcoming great tragedy. I think Jesus is more interested in how we overcome the mundane than how we overcome great pain.

Sounds crazy I know, but when I minister to someone who has been through a traumatic event it is easy to identify and address. We can pinpoint the specific time, place, and space of the trauma and the paths of healing are not difficult to navigate.

Navigating life is different. Don’t always know where the pain starts, stops, or often times, why it even exists. Navigating life can often be like hanging on the bumper of a runaway truck.

Bumps and bruises are evident AND we still have to interface with others in a somewhat adult fashion. Unfortunately, we feel like we haven’t recovered from one hurdle when we hear the beep beep beep and sense the back tires of life running over us yet again.

As if life doesn’t have enough surprises coming at us, add to it, people. People are disappointing. I always expect the best. And, I think I have pretty good discernment, the reality is, I am constantly disappointed with people. I expect people to be honest, real, and motivated by good. They aren’t. And for some reason, I can’t seem to remember this about others. The most unfortunate part is scripture says that I don’t have the privilege of guarding my heart. UGH…

I wish people were as easy to deal with as dogs. You know what to expect when you see a dog headed your way glaring and growling. People, not so much. I’m not sure if its cynicism or reality but it seems that most people are out for what you can do for them OR, for how you can better their circumstances. I have a friend that once said “No good deed goes unpunished.” I was appalled that he would say that. That was 4 years ago and I have learned that it is most often true. Sadly.

I’ve always looked forward to growing older. I thought life would be easier. At 54 years old, life is disappointing. Sometimes I think kids on the playground have more of a grasp on life than us Oldtimers. Take my Grand for example, she’s 5. She loves everybody and everybody loves her. She has had a few “meanies” at school and she just recognizes who they are and keeps right on going. Most often she even tells them that they are meanies but then she keeps right on truckin. They don’t seem to slow her down one bit. Instead she just buzzes right on her merry way. I wish I could be like that. I’m working on it. It’s hard (Did I mention sometimes I just want to run?) I generally take meanies personally. Unfortunately. People hurt my heart.

As I grow older I am more determined to keep my hope in Jesus. Even though, sometimes, even He can be frustrating. Even in frustration, I know what to expect from him. Good. Whether I like the path He has me on or not, the ending is good. No other option because He is good and He only gives good. Not like his kids. Some of us are “meanies.” He knows and in the end, He will sort it all out. I just have to recognize the meanies for who they are and keep right on going. On my merry way. Music helps. So if you are on the same path, here’s a song to help you along the way. Just try to overlook the meanies and stay focused. ‘Cause, in the end, He’s all we have.

Crowder – All My Hope

 

How to Overcome Bitterness in Marriage

Question: “I can’t seem to let go of bitterness regarding my spouse. How do I move beyond my lack of relational skills to keep my heart open and not carry offense?”

Often (especially women) we keep a list with little “tick marks” of disappointments in our relationships. We have been taught not to be “nagging or difficult” so we save up our frustrations. Once the barrel of irritations fills up, we explode. We bring out all of the hurts we have been harboring for days, weeks, even possibly months. Suddenly, almost before we know it, we have hurled our pain and injustices all over our victim like slime.

Their response can only be to react in defense or to shrug their shoulders and walk away, unaware of the emotional time bomb that previously lay dormant below the surface. Not only do they not know how to respond, but they also make inner vows not to lay their heart out before you again. You cannot be trusted. So now, the relational stalemate begins and more offense, except this time, hurt and betrayal by both parties. Bitterness won.

First of all, just know that you are not alone. Unfortunately, we aren’t taught how to “fight fair.” Even though scripture teaches us clearly “not to let the sun go down on our anger” (Ephesians 4:26). We aren’t sure what that looks like.

I have learned that no matter what the circumstance, I cannot allow seeds of bitterness to take root in my heart. I used to “save up” until I realized my reactional pounce left my spouse hurt and guarded to the next eruption. If you can imagine, it’s like walking around a field of emotional time bombs resting beneath the surface. We finally learned that no matter what the circumstance, we have to talk about it before we go to bed, even if it’s just to agree to disagree.

My spouse is a processor. He wants to talk about and process through everything, from relationships to home projects. It is a blessing and a curse. I, on the other hand, am a reflector. I need time to reflect on processes. If I am hurt, I need to pull away and gather myself and my thoughts.

Early in our marriage, I used to create an opportunity for time away by screaming out of the driveway in my car. Luckily, my “processing spouse” taught me that this made him feel abandoned and alone. I didn’t know what the answer was, but I knew I just needed time to ponder and reflect on not only the circumstance but also how I was feeling about the circumstance. Most importantly, I needed to tame my tongue of all the things I had been feeling and stuffing for so long. I had to figure out a way to deal with hurts as soon as they happened and not to store them up until I erupted.

I would often find myself playing out shoulda, coulda, wouldas instead of focusing on the solution. I would sequester myself and listen to the negativity in my head until I was seething all over again. It became a vicious cycle. And with each circle I became more and more bitter. Before long, the small misunderstanding became an avalanche of premeditated hurt. All the while, my spouse was absolutely clueless of what I was conjuring up in my head.

When we finally came to an impasse, we sought out a few simple solutions based on scripture:

1. Do not harbor bitterness (Hebrews 12:15).
2. Do not let the sun go down on your anger (Ephesians 4:26).
3. Do not let the enemy gain a foothold (Ephesians 4:27).

In simple terms, we decided to talk the minute questions occur. We decided to decide that we are on the same team. It’s obvious there is an enemy out there who desires to kill, steal, and destroy (John 10:10). If we aren’t on his team, we have to be on the opposing team.

If there is a misunderstanding, the minute it occurs, we have to rally our troops to respond – not react.

Over time, if we keep our accounts of offense short, there is no room for misunderstandings or for the enemy to plant seeds of doubt and mistrust in our heads. And if there are no seeds in our head, there is nothing offensive to slide down into our mouth to “chew on.” If we have no offense to chew on, we then can choose to walk in peace.

Most importantly, once married, we become one. Discontent divides. Division destroys. Marriages can’t survive in either of those two options. If we agree on the same rules, we win. And if the rules are vetted in scripture, it’s truth. In truth, the enemy has no power. No room for bitterness there. No bitterness, no hard hearts.

If we keep our hearts open and walk in truth, there are no landmines, no slime, no verbal assaults. Just an opportunity to learn, love, and grow in relationships, planted firmly in the promise of what marriage is supposed to be as it was created by God: Good!

We Have to Move Through the Cross

Can you see other people as God created them to be? Can you see yourself that way?

We all struggle with this. That’s because we’re holding onto things that block us from seeing.

We have to come through the cross. All that stuff we’re carrying – that baggage, the things we’ve put on ourselves, our false identities, our addictions – whatever it is, we have to bring it to the cross. Then we have to let it go and move through the cross, to the other side.

Everything has to come through the cross.

When we can let go of all that stuff, and move through the cross, we can start seeing who God created us to be. And we can see others as He created them to be. We can honor, forgive, bless, pray for.

It’s a choice, and we have to make it.

If we choose not to move through the cross – the same cross that Jesus died to make available to us – we can’t come into the truth of who we are.

As long as I believe I’m an addict, I can’t come into being an overcomer. I can’t come into being a conqueror. Because the belief that I’m an addict is diabolically opposed to the resurrection. I can’t have two identities. I can only have one. It’s either the one the world gives me (addict), or the one the Lord already gave me (freedom from bondage). Nothing cancels that out except my choice.

There is no power on earth stronger than your identity. Even if you choose not to live in it, it still exists. Waiting for you. Because the Lord created it for you.

Some people die, never having come into their identity. Because they chose to live on this side of the cross, not moving through.

If you believe in Jesus Christ, you have the power to come through the cross. You just do. Because He gives you that. That’s His promise: He gives you power to overcome anything if you believe in Him. Jesus died to give us that privilege – of dying to ourselves, letting go, moving through the cross, coming into our true identity, and walking in His power.

Remember this: Jesus didn’t just die on the cross. He rose again. That’s where you get your power. You die on the cross daily – let go of all your stuff, move through the cross, refuse to go back and claim your false identities.

Then you rise up in whatever you’re dying to. Whether it’s food, drugs, alcohol, stupid, or finances, you die to those things. Then Jesus can resurrect His power in you, to overcome in those same areas.

Isn’t that amazing?

A lot of people get to the cross, but they don’t get to the power. They don’t move through the cross. They don’t get to the resurrection.

If you don’t get to the resurrection, you have no power. You have nothing to overcome in. That’s why Jesus rose again. He could have just died, and that would have been enough. Just the fact that He died on the cross for us should have been enough. But the fact that He came back to empower us says there’s nothing we can’t overcome. That’s amazing.

If you believe in Jesus, and that He died and was resurrected, there’s not anything you can’t do. There’s no addiction you can’t overcome … there’s no job you can’t have … there’s no goal you can’t set, that you can’t do. Because if He put it in your heart, He’s going to meet it in you.