A Creative Word

Practical, occasionally funny, faith-focused thoughts.

Category: dealing with pain

Use the Manufacturer’s Warranty

Once, a close friend and I had a discussion on a subject very close to our hearts: how men we loved, and who loved us, had hurt us. We didn’t bash them, but we did recognize that they weren’t able to heal those hurts.

Not long after this discussion, the Holy Spirit showed me something I hope I never forget. It was a picture of a young boy, maybe three or four years old. He was holding a yellow toy truck.Boy with Truck

The truck was one of his favorite toys, and he loved it best of all. But he had broken it. The boy certainly didn’t mean to break it, and he wants to fix it.

But, as he turns it this way and that, looking it over and tinkering with it, he isn’t able to repair it. Now, you and I know that this young boy doesn’t have the capacity, the tools– or the knowledge of how to use the tools– to fix the truck.

And the hard fact of the matter is that all his love & efforts won’t repair the damage.

But of course, that isn’t obvious to the young boy. He thinks, “It’s MY truck. I broke it. I should be able to fix it!” But as he fumbles with it, he is only making the damage worse.

You and I can easily predict what will happen next. Soon, he will become frustrated with himself and the truck. Then, he will become angry with the situation, although he’ll most likely direct his anger at the truck. Finally, he’ll give up, cease trying to fix the truck and find something else to occupy his time.

Now, it’s obvious to you and me that all the young boy has to do is take the truck to his Father and ask Him for help. His Father knows just what to do to fix the truck. And after He lovingly repairs the truck, it will be BETTER than new!

The same is true with us. Although our husbands, our parents, our friends, our children—even our pastors and church families– may “break” us, they can’t fix us. They really can’t. No matter how much they want to.

They simply are not equipped to repair us. But— and like the Sir Mix-a-Lot song, it’s a big but– we have a 100%  guaranteed warranty from our Manufacturer! Our Father is willing to repair all parts of us, and when He restores us, we are actually better than before.

I’m not exaggerating.

Take a look in Deuteronomy—whenever something was damaged, or stolen or ruined, God’s restoration resulted in an increase! You can trust that when you become broken, you can allow God to heal you, and you WILL be better than before!

This is exciting news. But it also dispels something some of us having been subconsciously believing. Sometimes we are waiting for the person who hurt us to apologize, to say they didn’t mean what they said or did, or at the very least that they didn’t intend to hurt us. Sometimes, there are very specific things we want them to say do to “repair” the damage they did to us.

And not only are we (based on sheer odds alone) not likely to get those actions/words or even similar ones, EVEN IF WE DID, those words (or actions) would NOT heal our hurts. These would not REPAIR the damage done to us.

However, just like the broken truck, our Heavenly Father DOES know exactly what will heal us! He does have the capacity and capability to repair, renew and restore us.

Yes, of everything. Broken hearts from broken families, aching wounds from crimes committed against us, even the horrific pain of lives ended too early.

How do we receive that? Spend time alone with Him—pour your heart out to Him. (Psalm 62:8) You can trust Him! Rest quietly with Him. Listen to Him. Do what His Word and His voice direct you to do.

Then as you live your life, understand that while you won’t be protected from all hurts, you can trust that God will never let anything happen to you that He can’t repair, renew and restore. Never.

So, LOVE EXTRAVAGANTLY! Go ahead and put your heart into relationships—if (ok, when) they hurt you, God will be able to heal you.

Finally, here’s a wise idea: Keep in close contact with friends who—like you– are living their whole lives in the direction of God, and wisely, reserve the sharing of your most intimate thoughts, desires and emotions—your soul– with these people. While it’s great to enjoy time with other friends, and appreciate how wonderful they are, you’ll find that you’ll naturally discuss and focus on what those you are closest to focus on.

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I’d love to come speak to your group or church. You can check out my ‘casts here, and my speaking topics here.

Peace When You’re in Pieces

Almost every day I run into someone who is in the middle of a problem: her child is using drugs, or her mother is facing health challenges; perhaps her husband has filed for divorce, or maybe she is out of work and behind on the bills.

Whatever the situation, it’s big, it’s bad and she is almost overwhelmed, even though she keeps telling herself that it will all be ok. After all, she’s a Christian, and these things will work out for the best, right?

I get it. Believe me, I get it. And while it is absolutely true that God will use everything for His daughters’ good, there are some very real things you can do to make things better and less painful. Which means, unfortunately, that there are some very real things you can do that will make your situation worse and more painful.

(Screeeeeeeech!)

Did you hear that? It was the sound of some very nervous Christians slamming on the brakes. Look, I know actually acknowledging that a well-intentioned Christian can do things to make a bad situation worse is not a popular thing to say. Especially OUT LOUD. It’s too “negative.” But there, I said it, and I believe if you’ll think about it, you’ll agree.

You and I have both seen Believers face seemingly insurmountable situations and thrive, growing in their faith and having an extraordinary amount of peace throughout incredibly tough situations. By peace I don’t mean that they aren’t sad or grieving or having a difficult time; I mean that they have a “wholeness” even while they are in the middle of their grief. And most likely we’ve said. “Girl! You’re totally rocking it! You’re amazing! Your faith inspires me!” (And in response, she probably gives God all the credit.)

And we’ve also seen Believers face situations that sent them into tailspins that shook their faith—they ended up leaning away from God and isolating themselves from other Believers. Their lives spiral down and down– sometimes for years. And often we react toward them with grief, or even frustration and anger. (Sorry. The “screeeeech” earlier should have clued you in that I pretty much try to tell it like it is, rather than make everything look pretty… I tried pretty-fying everything, and it didn’t work out too well in my life.)

Unfortunately, that downward spiral I mentioned isn’t an exaggeration. I know because I’ve watched it happen—but more importantly, I know from scripture that it’s true. (Remember how David tried to “fix” his downward spiral into adultery?)

When you’re in those kinds of situations, you need HELP. That is, you need Hope, Encouragement, Love and Peace.

Peace… have you been longing for peace? It’s more than just “calmness.”

Jesus said, “My peace I give to you—not the kind of peace the world gives, but the kind only I can give.” The Hebrew word for “peace” is “shalom.” Shalom actually means “nothing missing, nothing broken, whole, complete.”

Now, THAT will bring you calmness!

And there’s good news! There are several other things that can bring you Hope, Encouragement, Love and help you hold on to the Peace He gives you. Over the next six weeks I’ll be sharing some actions that will give you HELP.

In the meantime, think about that definition of Shalom-style peace. And go spend 10 minutes, just you and Him—get some of that Peace you’re longing for!

“I will fight your battles, and you will hold onto your peace…” Exodus 14:14

I’d love to speak to your women’s group! Click here for more information.

>What’s Shaping Your Identity?

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Today, I read this on a blog:
“Some of you see this pain as a friend – it gets you the attention you need from others, and the thought of losing that attention can be frightening. To you, losing the attention of others means being alone and that seems unbearable. Still this is another lesson you must learn – to the degree you feel alone is the degree you depend on others for your satisfaction, value, and self worth.”

I know that we sometimes hold on to pain– or anger, or hurt– and I guess I never really thought about why, but now it seems clear.

It’s an Identity issue. (Hey– we’ve just been talking about those!!!)

Pain, Anger… these things help establish to us or to others WHO we are. “I am the one who was wounded– wrongly.” “I am the one who was done wrong.” “I am the innocent– and righteous– victim.” “I am the one whose gift is never recognized because of un-spiritual people are in charge at work or at my congregation.” “I am the one allowed to be suspicious, bitter, angry, selfish… because someone hurt me.” “I am a Christian, but I’m the body part that doesn’t have to be present when the body gets together– because the other body parts hurt me!”

How can you know when you’re holding on to pain or anger and letting it become– or at least shape– your identity?

I know that when I hold on to anger or hurt, it comes up frequently in my conversations… if you’re not as verbal as I am, then maybe you’re experiencing it as the conversations or situations you rehearse mentally, over and over again. Is that happening in your life right now? Has it happened in the past?

Letting go of those hurts and that anger allows us to begin to really believe what GOD says about us, rather than what we or others say about us.

And believing what God says about us opens doors to joy, as we begin to experience Life as He intended us to!

Not to ignore what has happened to us… we must gain the tools that help us to cope and determine to forgive (sometimes daily) so that God’s healing can come to us.

Even after we decide to forgive, the enemy often reminds us of the offense… and if we begin mentally rehearsing it, we’re right back where we started! So… remind yourself (and the enemy) outloud that you’ve decided to forgive, and cast down that vain imagination.

This is one of the toughest disciplines there is. In fact, fasting food seems easy compared to disciplining our thoughts! (Another truth from the previously mentioned blog!)

But the rewards are amazing!

Imagine truly believing that you are an HEIR– inheriting what Jesus does!!!
Imagine truly believing that you are EXPERTLY CRAFTED, of many things that PLEASE GOD!!
Imagine truly believing that you absolutely have every ounce of love He has to give– that no matter how much good you do, no matter how badly you fail or fall, He won’t love you any more than He does right now, and He won’t love you any less!!!!

If you TRULY believed– and behaved– as if all that God says about you is REAL IN YOUR LIFE, how would your life be different?

One thing is for sure: there’s more joy and more peace (wholeness– nothing missing and nothing broken) when I let go of hurt and anger, and make room for what is TRULY my identity.

And to experience it, we only have to trade in our pain and anger… that’s better than the $3k the govt is offering for trade in on cars older than 10 years!!!!!

>Back to the Vine Analogy Part 3 of 3

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Treating only the symptoms (bad fruit, sin and pain) is like plucking all the fruit off the vine and burning that fruit. Look– no fruit, just scorched earth! At least for a little while…

Drastically treating the symptoms is like cutting the vine off at ground level. And at first– there’s no sign of the vine or its fruit at all.

But the root still exists, and it WILL produce new branches as well as more unpleasant fruit– perhaps a fruit that looks slightly different, but has the same bitter taste.

I hope we can all see the correlation. We must treat the underlying cause/root (the wound we received when someone sinned against us) of our bad spiritual fruit (which includes the our painful symptoms and our own resulting sins) so we can fully eliminate that fruit (pain or sin).

We need to look for the cause of our bad spiritual fruit/pain/sin and allow God to help us deal with it so that we can be completely and truly free.

Prayer can help reveal the root, when we aren’t sure what it is. Trained Christian counselors and those who are very experienced in deliverance ministry can also help us discover the root. (Psalms 1:1) Then God can help us be free of the fruit AND free of the root!!***

Digging up the roots to permanently remove the bad spiritual fruit/pain/habitual sins can be dirty, hard work. While there’s no question that Jesus forgives us and makes a way out of sin for us, we often have to change our habits of thought and habits of deed that lead us INTO sin! Digging up the root helps us do that. Jesus tells us to deal drastically with our own sin in Matt 18:8-9.

So how do we “dig up the roots?”

  • We already mentioned forgiveness. (Mark 11:25-26)
  • Digging up the roots usually requires godly, wise counsel. Spiritual intervention is frequently needed, too. (Ps 1:1)
  • Careful, personal examination of scripture is ALWAYS part of the process, as is prayer. (Romans 12:1-2)
  • Consistent fellowship with Christians in a worship and learning environment is incredibly helpful, also. (Romans 12:4-5)
  • Finally, determination to walk in spiritual health is absolutely required. (2 Cor 7:1) Without determination, one can easily slip into habits that allow the bad fruit (pain / sin) to re-introduce itself to our lives.

Being free of that bad fruit IS possible. Talk to those Christians you fellowship and worship with– they’ll often gladly share their personal stories of victory!

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