You don’t have to stay there

No man need stay the way he is ~ Harry Emerson Fosdick

Something I am learning in my journey away from being ‘dark and twisty’ is that I don’t have to use my controlling nature for bad, and that most sucsessful leaders do have a controlling side to them. It is the trick of harnessing this control for good ~ the trick is finding the line between the dictator and the leader. Your wouldn’t think this would be so hard to see, but after about 20 years of dictating my environment, I can see that this will take a few skinned knees and a lot of prayer to figure it out.

As I delve into how  my controlling nature is destructive, I have found that I can be any and all of the following: Obnoxious, Tenacious, Obsessive, Critical, Irritable, Demanding, Rigid,  and Closeminded. That’s quite a list folks ~ quite a list ~ I am going to dig into the scriptures and start attacking this stuff soon but the first thing I have to do really is have a change of mindset.

I have to release a lot of anger and fear and frustration that come from the thought that, no matter what, I cannot change yesterday. I can’t convince my mom to leave the child molester she married. I can’t convince the seventeen year old me that she was not ready for marriage. I can’t go back to when my kids were babies and cherish that time like I should have. Life is full of should haves and could haves.

 

 

These disappointments in myself and others in the past, in part, controls my right now. It causes me to have anger and fear and frustration when I am not ‘in control’ of situations. God is really teaching me some things in this process.

I am realizing that 2nd Timothy 1:7 is something I have to memorize “God does not give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, love and self-control”. God is not in it when I feel lost and overwhelmed by my anger or fear or when I let myself say things that should never enter my mind, much less escape my lips.

 

Most peoples’ brains make trust and faith synonymous. This may be right or it may be wrong, but mine certainly does not. I think that having faith in God and trusting God are two different things. I have faith that God takes care of my family, I have faith that He wants the best for me in everything I do,  I have faith that He doesn’t put more on us than we can bear.

My problem is trust. It’s hard to trust someone as a father when you never had a great father figure in your life. It’s hard to really believe that going through this dark journey and getting past the smile I paste on my face for the world to see is going to be worth it. It’s hard to trust that when I get real with all this pain, that anyone will really love me.  But the bible says if we have faith as a grain of mustard, that we can move mountains.

 

 

I am taking my mustard seed faith and I am moving forward because I don’t have to stay here. I don’t have to stay dark and twisty.  Proverbs 25:28 says “A person without self-control is as defenseless as a city with broken-down walls” so without this journey, the facade of safety I have used will always be that, a facade. Here’s to the journey and to the removal of the facade.

 

~ Shelly ~

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Dark & Twisty

Gotta love Grey’s Anatomy ~ truly one of the best TV shows ever. I have always been a fan of the phrase  “dark and twisty” as it describes Meredith Grey. I have always been intrigued by how she faces life and how she ‘controls’ her environment. I never, until recently, identified with her. Why is it that we refuse to see the side of us that hinders our growth and drives people from us at times? Have our traumas and trials of life scarred us so bad that we don’t see the dark and twisty within ourselves?

 

I have always prided myself in knowing that I was a ‘survivor’. I survived my mom being murdered before I was even 2 years old. I survived sexual abuse. I survived feeling like I was never enough for someone to put me first. I survived a broken marriage. I survived. . . . I can recall when others went through the same things as me and seemed to struggle and I could not see why they struggled so badly. In a way I felt sorry for them, but honestly, in a way, I felt superior. I had this whole survivor thing covered. I could stand in the face of adversity and prevail. I even let myself believe that God had made me stronger than others and that He wanted me to show people how it was done.

 

It was time for:  A RUDE AWAKENING. Somethings have happened over the last few weeks to make me really take a hard look at how I ‘control’ my surroundings, my love ones, my inner circle of my life. My pastor put a book in my hand that initially made me grin. Control Freak in bright red across the cover made me think, sure I try to control things, but only in a good way. Only in a way that helps other people. This is the rude awakening part.

 

I’m learning daily that the way I try to control things around me has way more to do with the fact that there were so many things in my life as a child that I could not control. I reach and grab and fight for things that don’t even matter because I could not make decisions on the things that mattered the most. Does it matter if the top button on the shirt is buttoned when it’s put on the hanger? Does every car really look like its coming over in my lane? Are these just places where I put a controlled thumb on them because I feel more comfortable if it is my way?

 

In Matthew 3:7 it says “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” How have I walked around inspecting sawdust for 37 years? In this most uncomfortable place of trying to figure out how on earth I have allowed my ‘dark and twistyness’ to prevail, I am sad and I am scared to face these things that have held me back for so long.

 

I am finding that the scars of the past don’t have to be inability to communicate, or an incapacity for loving fully or shyness, but some scars manifest in controlling your environment so closely that at times, those around you feel like they can’t breathe. That at times, we can make those we love and hold the most dear, to think they are so pushed that they just want to escape. I am going to be blogging about this journey for a bit and for those who have faced the same situations I urge you to read Control Freak by Les Parrott and start facing the dark and twisty within you.

 

For those of you who live with someone who is dark and twisty, it’s a good book to understand where they are at and why they react the way they do.

 

As I move forward, I am clinging to this scripture Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” I am pretty sure the hope and the future are not going to be ‘dark and twisty’ because He is leading me on this path and while there are parts that will be dark and parts that will be twisty, he sees the light at the end of the path and He has a peace that passes all understanding.

 

~Shelly~

>What I learned from NA ~ Power in a Keychain

Being raised in a evangelical christian church self-help groups were not something I was around. In fact, self-help groups where even discouraged and mocked to some degree where I was raised. People I knew were taught to turn to Jesus for their addictions and problems of life. Although I never heard NA or AA preached against, I did hear it preached about. I heard it preached about how the people there needed Jesus and that coming to church would be the answer for them. Coming to church and to an altar of repentance would solve their problems and they would have no need for a support group.

At 37 years old, I had never been to any support group. I had, however, been to many churches. I have been to churches where an addict would feel welcome and I have been to churches where they have been scorned. Thankfully, the church I go to now, is one of love and mercy and would welcome anyone with open arms.
A friend from church just moved here from Boston recently. She has been almost four years clean from any drugs and alcohol and was very involved in her local NA in Massachuettes. She was asked to speak at the Nashville NA to share her story and wanted me to go for support. I was probably as nervous to go the meeting as she was to speak at it. It was such foreign territory to me.
I’m not sure what I expected but what I found were people who were warm and welcoming, people who didn’t care what color I was or what clothes I wore. They welcomed each person they saw with a smile and open arms.
I was surprised at the structure of the meeting. There was a program and explanations for the steps that people were on and different people were assigned tasks to read the rules of NA and the expectations of those participating. Many times as someone would say ‘their part’ you would see others saying it along with them as this is something they have memorized and live by.  My friend, towards the middle, told her story and it was moving and funny and I could tell that those in the audience related to what she was saying. It was an honor for her to ask me there and I was glad to support her.
As the end drew near, the lead speaker of the meeting had someone come up to give out chips for certain milestones;  a yellow keychain tag for 9 months clean, a green key chain tag for 6 months clean, etc. Then something amazing happened that even now, a few months later, picks at the back of mind on many days.  Then the leader said, come up here if  you are ready to start this journey, come up and get a white key tag if you want to be clean from now on ~ if today is your day to start come on up and amazingly, in that structured meeting, people started going up . At least two or three people went up and were welcomed with open arms and the audience applauded.
It really made me think about who we are as a church body that in a structured meeting people with addictions feel loved and welcomed and can walk in front of an audience to get a keychain. A keychain that, on it’s own, had no power. A keychain, that simple.
I have seen the power of God move in services and Pastor’s call out for people to be healed or for people to be delivered and there have been times when no one goes forward. No one. And in this moment, I wanted to scream, people go up for a keychain, for the love. . .can you not go up for a God who moves mountains? Can you not, under a spirit of annointing, in God’s house, go up for a healing from the God who caused the lame to walk and the dumb to speak?
I am proud of people who will step out in faith through a program they can gain strength of character. I am sometimes ashamed of those of us who already have a power within us that these people hunger for and we won’t step out and get the blessing God has for us because we don’t want Sister SO and SO to think we were sinning or we don’t want someone to think we are weak. If people without hope can walk up for a keychain, what is wrong with us?
Shelly

In your presence there is fullness of Joy

Romans 5: 3-5 in the Message readsThere’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!”

I just came home from a prayer meeting and I am still overwhelmed at the goodness of God.

As I prayed tonight, thanking God for bringing our family to Nashville, to Point of Mercy, for blessing us in so many ways by providing and even by saying no to us at times I remembered where I was 10 short years ago.

I was sad and lonely and thought no one would ever love me the way a girl wants to be loved. I thought that I was destined for loneliness and in those moments, I blamed God. I blamed Him because I wanted Him to fix it my way, not His. I wanted things that He knew would never come to pass and He knew that a better future than I could have ever imagined just awaited me.

So in those moments when I felt alone and forsaken by God, he was smiling because He could see me tonight, crying in thankfulness for every valley that I have walked through because it brought me here. He smiled because He knew there was more in me than I ever thought there could be. He knew a love awaited me that makes my heart still skip a beat after seven years. He knew that I would walk through things that only His presence could mend.

So tonight, as I cried in his presence, I felt such Joy just knowing He loves me enough to save me from my choices and sometimes He loves me enough to let me make the mistakes. He loves me beyond anything I could imagine and that when we walk in His presence, that is where we find true joy.

~Shelly~

>I’ll take your bag ~ will you take mine?

Normally I don’t find many nuggets for Christianity in television. On a recent episode of  “How I Met Your Mother”,  Ted was talking about looking for love. He was talking about how every woman he met had some kind of baggage:

  • I live at home with my Mom
  • I was left at the altar
  • I came from a broken home
  • I’m afraid of commitment

~ the comical part of all this was that they people carried actual bags and luggage that had these saying on them.

How man of us have bags that say things like this?

  • my dad hit me
  • a church hurt me
  • my husband left me
  • my child is sexually active
  • I don’t know how I’m going to pay my rent
  • I lost my job
  • Life feels unfair

We all have bags that we carry and as christians, we don’t like others to see our baggage. We like to pretend everyone else around us has baggage, but not us. We are bag free, carefree, full of Jesus and have no worries, right? But when we are honest and look deep in ourselves, we all have our own bags . It is time to be Christ-like and not only start acknowledging our own bags, but to quit judging our friends bags and help them carry them.

If I want to get real with this blog today, my bags are so heavy and full right now that if I dropped one of them, I would probably break my foot. As I struggle through this trial of frustration and wonder if the bag can hold one more thing, another rock seems to fall into it. Wait a minute, the bag got lighter, nope, that was a mistake, the rocks were just shifting to make room for more.

I do know this, that if we share our bags they seem lighter even if they aren’t. Just knowing someone else sees the baggage and is aware of it by giving a smile or making you laugh when you want to cry is one of the best gifts you can give someone. So today, carry someone’s bag for a minute by praying for them.  Walk a mile in their shoes and help them with their bag because tomorrow your bag may be too much and you will need them like they need you now.

~Shelly