In the Image of God


I just finished a great book.

Not only did the riveting writing make it a great read, but the impact of the message kept me wanting more. I had a hard time putting it down. The characters drew me in as if I were making new friends, and I cared about their struggles. The author did a fabulous job of giving just enough plot sprinkled with back story to make me feel like I was reading a mystery. But there’s nothing mysterious about the truth presented. We are created in the image of God.

The unfolding story subtly gripped my heart.

The next thing I knew, tears were falling. Especially when I came to these excerpts:

He hasn’t treated me with respect. He wanted to use me for his own purposes. He wasn’t interested in what’s best for me. I can forgive him for that, but I don’t have to be in relationship with him. I don’t want to let him treat me, one of God’s creations, like that.

And…

All those things she said…they came from hurt. Deep, piercing pain. And I was never strong enough to stand against the power of that pain when it came out in her words.

Read it for yourself and see how it speaks to you.  Invisible

Thanks, Ginny. I have a feeling you wrote out of a place of your own pain. God’s using you to heal.

What is a book that has changed your perspective of yourself?

What is Forgiveness?


Whether we are trapped in addiction or in a relationship with someone who is, God can shed light on the places of darkness and has a DSC_0035plan to rescue us from disaster. It is His delight to do so.

His rescue comes through forgiveness.

Jesus offers it to us. He asks us to extend it to others. But, we have to be willing to give up what we hold onto: our sin and/or the sin of others against us.

Without forgiveness, there can never be restoration for us.

God wants to bestow on us every good thing He can imagine for us. That comes with forgiveness—His forgiveness for us, and ours for others and ourselves.

God’s forgiveness is immediate, but ours can be a process.

Jesus died on the cross to forgive every sin we could ever commit. Because He has already forgiven us, He simply waits for us to acknowledge where we’re off and accept His offer. That forgiveness is immediate, but when it comes to us forgiving others and ourselves, it can take time to work through.

Thank goodness, God is patient and leads us.

First, God makes us aware of what needs forgiving. When Jesus reveals our waywardness, we should feel sorrow (not shame) for what we’ve done to hurt ourselves and others. When we hurt, God is also grieved. The Bible says that

Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.”

2 Corinthians 7:10

This means when we are willing to look at what we have done that is different from what God intended for our good, we’ll be brokenhearted. The full weight of our actions will be a revelation to us in a way that makes us grieve for the pain we’ve caused ourselves, others and God. Our heart fills with a sincere willingness to accept any consequences. We experience gratitude for the forgiveness offered.

That is godly sorrow leading to repentance.

That kind of sorrow brings us to our knees in front of our Lord, who then reaches down and lifts us up in love, saving us from what has trapped us. We are then able to move on in life with no more regret, knowing that Jesus has seen, forgiven and restored us. Then He’s able to lead us into the good things He originally planned for us.

Worldly sorrow, on the other hand, is when we promise to be good to avoid trouble—sorry we’re caught, but more concerned about not getting caught in the future or dodging consequences. That kind of “sorrow” only leads to more destruction and shame, never to a place of freedom.

God is thorough. Forgiveness is specific, not general.

God points out details of situations in order to free us entirely of sin. It is the same if we ask for and accept forgiveness, or when we forgive someone else. Forgiveness doesn’t come with a careless blanket statement of “whatever I’ve ever done.” We must be willing to honestly and specifically admit what we have done.

When God showed me what I did to become stuck in unhealthy relationships, as well as what others had done to me, each denied, ignored, hidden, minimized, or never dealt with incident needed forgiveness. As long as there was denial, minimizing or excuses, I not DSC_0047able to receive or grant the forgiveness that would restore me. But I knew if I asked God to show me the truth about myself and my past, He would free me from the pain that enslaved me.

There were many such situations, and it took a few years to process them, ask for forgiveness and forgive those who had hurt me. It was worth the struggle.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll share more of what that process looked like for me.

What have you experienced regarding forgiveness?

Do I Take Responsibility for Others?


Last week we talked about our compulsion to step in and take responsibility for others. We do this out of an unhealthy feeling that something bad will happen if we don’t. Most likely, we developed this sense from living in unsafe situations, especially as children. As we identify these patterns, God can free us from those places where we feel stuck.

What happens to others when I take over?158

We may not realize the severity of the patterns we’re choosing; we may feel sorry for another person; we may feel an unrealistic burden of guilt or we may be afraid that their actions will hurt us. Whatever the reason, even if they all apply, the outcome is not good for either us or them.

When people are relieved of consequences, their hearts grow hard, and they feel entitled.

God uses consequences to help us. No one likes to deal with tough consequences, but the reality is that laws exist. A cause has an effect. We don’t ignore natural laws, like gravity. No one would consider jumping off a ten story building without expecting to die. The law of gravity makes us fully aware of the result of that choice and keeps us from making it! In the same way, God’s laws help turn us around so we can know good instead of harm.

Why then do people expect there to be no consequences for choices they make?

Shunning responsibility, many count it the teacher’s fault for a bad grade; the police officer’s fault for a speeding ticket; the bartender’s fault for a drunken car crash; or the spouse’s fault for their partner’s affair. As long as people avoid responsibility, and we alleviate the consequences of their actions, we get in the way of the good God wants to bring to them.

We are indeed amateurs, coming in and actually preventing God’s will and saying ‘This person should not have to experience this difficulty’    Oswald Chambers

Perhaps we’ve learned from living in an abusive situation to minimize adverse conditions.

Maybe we believe (erroneously as I did) that if we are truly being loving toward someone, we should ignore their hurtful behavior.

If you are the kid we talked about last week, who’s been hurt by a parent’s actions you probably dismissed their actions because your innocent heart could not make sense of someone you loved and depended on hurting you. The very contradiction of that reality and what a child knows in their heart is too much to comprehend. But, those patterns follow us into adulthood whether we realize it or not.

That same child who transfers guilt to themselves rather than those parents may grow up subconsciously believing that everything is their fault and shoulder the responsibility.

It seems ridiculous that we could live with the belief that another shouldn’t be allowed to endure pain or hardship of any kind, but without realizing it, because of deeply ingrained misconceptions, we attempt to fix situations, bear the weight of their consequences and feel guilty if they suffer.

Unfortunately, when we live this way, we can allow people to become dependent on us instead of God. Their reliance on us as a buffer can keep them from turning to God for direction or in trouble. In addition, they may avoid making choices or think they are immune to consequences for bad choices. Fear of their consequences landing on us will keep us running to bail them out which in turn denies them from experiencing the loving discipline of the Lord.

In the end, we benefit ourselves and others if we can learn to confront them, gently speaking the truth in love whenever we feel that little nudge from the Lord telling us that something is not right. Determining what is our responsibility as God leads us and leaving others to live experiencing a greater depth of life will make us refreshed and free just as God intends.

Have you found yourself trying to fix or feeling responsible for others?

Stuck in Abusive Relationship?


Isn’t it my job to fix this?

Point Lobos, CA
Point Lobos, CA

One of the things that can keep us stuck in abusive or broken (not functioning well) situations is our feeling responsible for other people’s actions. This has been a huge area of struggle for me, and something I’m still working to understand so I can act differently.

Sometimes I feel compelled to take on the responsibility of others. I find myself unable to say no and driven  to jump into situations I have no place dealing with.  The urgency began as a little girl feeling sorry for and responsible for parents who seemed for various reasons to need me to be.

Children depend on parents to make their world a safe, secure, loving place. If that is not happening, it is the nature of a child to question themselves rather than the adults in their lives. A common response is “What did I do to make Mom so angry?” or “If I was a better kid, Dad wouldn’t have hurt me or left us.” Or an alcoholic parent leaves their child to care for themselves and the intoxicated parent. In these cases, children take on a burden that wasn’t intended for them.

I felt guilty over anything uncomfortable that occurred in their life. Now, all I know is a sense of dread comes over me when I’m faced with the choice of stepping into a situation that really is not mine to handle. Certainly, something awful will happen if I don’t take charge, right?

The truth is, harmful things happen if I do take over.

When I take responsibility for others:

  • It piles more on me than God intends for me to handle. I become exhausted and unable to fully give myself to my own responsibilities.
  • It doesn’t allow for the privilege and blessing meant for them.
  • It burdens me with guilt, shame, and/or resentment over the situation.
  • My unhealthy responsibility for their well-being takes the place of a healthy compassion for others.
  • They don’t experience consequences for their actions that can help them grow.
  • It enables them to continue in negative patterns of living.
  • I am acting in place of God in their lives.

Learning to handle only what we are responsible for helps us and others.

Recently, a friend and I were discussing this situation in our lives. We agreed that the compulsion we experience is not healthy or helpful because of how it forces us into situations that leave us feeling stuck rather than free to exhibit the God-given compassion we want to have instead. We recognize the difference and are praying for God to free us. Identifying those situations is the first step. Then we can be aware of how we slip into old patterns. The next time we’re faced with that feeling of dread, we can ask ourselves:

  • Is this piling more on me than God intends for me to handle? Am I becoming exhausted and unable to fully give myself to my own responsibilities?
  • Is it disallowing a privilege and blessing meant for someone else?
  • Do I feel burdened with guilt, shame, and/or resentment over the situation?
  • Is this my unhealthy responsibility for their well-being or healthy compassion for them?
  • Am I keeping someone from experiencing consequences for their actions that can help them grow?
  • Am I enabling them to continue in negative patterns of living?
  • Am I acting in place of God in their lives?

Next week we’ll explore more about what can happen to others when we take responsibility for them or their actions.

Can you relate to any of these questions? How have you learned to only be responsible for yourself?

Getting Well Series – How Do You Rebuild Your Life?


There’s a book in the Bible about a man named Nehemiah. 

Corinth, Greece
Corinth, Greece

He was brokenhearted over the fact that the city of Jerusalem was in ruins, and after praying to God about it, he embarked on a mission to rebuild the walls.

I love this story for a number of reasons. 

First of all, I’m moved that someone saw devastation and cared enough to find out how he could help. I feel this way when I hear stories of people whose lives have been ruined. Maybe it was destroyed by a natural disaster, or because of another person’s selfish action, or even by their own poor choices, but whatever the reason, the ruins of someone’s life solicit a compassionate longing to help them rebuild.

I think that’s how God feels about us.

Secondly, I love that Nehemiah took action. After he grieved for a city that lay in ruins, he asked God to help him and then set out to obtain permission, supplies and a group of people to rebuild the city even though he “was very much afraid.” The king granted him all the time and supplies he needed.

God gives us time and what we need to rebuild. He’s patient.

Next, it encourages me that Nehemiah didn’t give up, even when his group came up against so much opposition. A local official ridiculed and tormented the people, asking them what they thought they were doing. Lies were flung at them to convince them that their efforts were in vain, that their attempts were feeble and inadequate. Too much was ruined. The rubble couldn’t be reclaimed for a purpose.

I’ve heard those same lies so many times.

At one point in my life, I was exhausted from working to hold together my marriage and my family. My strength was giving out because of unresolved daily conflicts, and my determination to stay married in spite of a horribly dysfunctional situation. My children were showing the effects of living under the strain in our home. I was certain that the “rubble” was too much to wade through. Nothing seemed salvageable.

So God showed me this story about Nehemiah.

Finally, I love the story because God has a plan for rebuilding. As I studied Nehemiah’s situation, I saw some applications for my life. For me the plan looked like this:

  1. Fight for my family even if it meant doing things that seemed to tear us apart. I had to separate from my ex-husband for a time in order to allow us to deal with issues. Pulling out of most of our activities became necessary so we could focus on our family.
  2. Concentrate on what God wanted to change in me. Allow God to heal me and leave my husband and marriage in His hands. Success for me would depend on what God did in my life.
  3. Set up a guard against the things that crept in to hurt my relationships with God and my children. For me those things were fatigue, busyness, not making time for them, and trying to figure everything out without seeking God.
  4. Put God ahead of my marriage. I had been setting my desire for the “perfect “marriage ahead of God. I compromised truth in order to keep peace. My fear caused me to push aside things God tried to tell me even when they would have helped me.
  5. Be aware of Satan’s plot to destroy our family. I had to choose to fight for the well-being of myself and my children even when the enemy told me to give up because it wouldn’t be worth it. Recognizing the lies of the enemy is imperative, but not always easy. We have to be so alert. Nehemiah had the people keep a weapon in one hand while they built with the other.

Rebuilding our lives can be scary.

We can’t see all that lies ahead. It’s like driving on the darkest road or in dense fog at night. Our headlights only shine far enough for us to keep moving. We drive as far as we can see, and as we drive, the path is illuminated ahead of us.

Rebuilding happens one day at a time.

We can’t look too far ahead or worry about what will come. Instead we have to trust God to provide what we need for that day. When I look ahead and start to worry about the future, God asks

Do you have what you need today?

The answer is always “yes.” I always have what I need today. When the next day comes, I have what I need again. Nothing surprises God. He’s already seen all of our life and has a great plan for it. We can trust him to bring restoration to every area of our lives. He can make us well if we want to get well.

How is God rebuilding your life? Check out lostcompanion who is tenaciously rebuilding hers…

Getting Well Series – Can I Trust God to Heal Me?


When we’ve been hurt, how do we trust God to heal us? 

Hawaiian gecko in a shop
Hawaiian gecko in a shop

I think one of the hardest things about getting well is being afraid to trust God with our healing. I mean, after all, if God made the universe and sees everything that goes on then where was he when I was being hurt? Why didn’t he intervene? How can I fully trust that he wants to help me, not hurt me?

If we don’t understand God’s love for us, it can be hard to follow him.

We don’t trust someone we don’t know, so unless we know God we’re probably not ready to jump into anything he offers us. But how do we get to know him and his trustworthiness? The Bible says that “we love because He first loved us.” (I John 4:19) God wants us to follow him out of our love for him, but we won’t learn to love him unless we obey him.

It seems like a Catch-22 doesn’t it?

According to I John 4:18, we will no longer be afraid of God when we learn that he loves us and wants our best. We can see God in all of creation around us: in a newborn baby, the sparkle of sunlight like diamonds on the ocean, or the way our young son slips his small hand into ours. When a friend hugs us or we experience something that thrills the deepest part of us, God is displaying his love for us.

Sunset on the Kona Coast of Hawaii
Sunset on the Kona Coast of Hawaii

But God shows his love in another way too.

The best way to understand the depth of his love is to experience his faithfulness. When God instructs us (you know that little nudge to do or say something?), and we take a step in faith to follow, and God comes through in that situation, we see that he is faithful. The more we step out in faith, and see him miraculously meet us in each situation, the more we will understand his love for us. Then it’s easier to love him in return.

I know this from experience!

At a time when I was going through an awful divorce, I felt God urging me to relocate. I was trying to start over in my life with my three youngest teenaged children. Through a series of events, God directed me to move. But there were so many obstacles! I had a house lease, a teaching contract, a scholarship given to my oldest daughter for a local college, no money, no job in the new location and no place to live. Crazy, right? Regardless of all those reasons not to move, after praying and getting advice, I felt God was telling me to go and trust him to take care of everything.

And he did!

As soon as I told him I was willing to go, things began to fall into place. New friends offered to let us live with them until we found a house. My landlord called to say they had someone who wanted to rent our place should we ever want to move out. With only a simple inquiry, the scholarship board agreed to allow my daughter to use the scholarship at a different school even though the rules designated it for the local college. The principal at my school told me they would gladly release me from my contract even though they hated to see me go. And, they blessed me with a financial gift large enough to cover my moving expenses. Then, two days before we left, as we were packing the truck, a school I wanted to work at called to ask if I would be interested in interviewing for a temporary long term substitute teaching position. Needless to say, the domino circumstances amazed us, and I fell more in love with the God who was orchestrating it all.

That didn’t mean it was easy.

Even with all those incredible situations, the move was challenging and frightening. It’s not like God made the way completely smooth with no difficulties. But he kept coming through over and over, and I learned to lean on him and trust him as he took care of us. With each step it was easier to take the next one, and I was being healed in the process.

All of this starts by trusting what he’s already done for us.

He took the first step of showing his love for us when he went to the cross. As we accept what he did, we can trust him a little at a time. Jesus tells us that if we have faith even as little as a mustard seed (which, in case you’ve never seen one, is very small) we could move mountains. Wow! Mountains moved by us having only a mustard seed worth of faith in God’s power. God loves us so much he is willing to give us greatness in exchange for something that seems so insignificant.

God certainly has moved some mountains for me. His desire is to do the same for everyone and anyone who calls on him. Let the healing begin.

How have you experienced God’s faithfulness? Was it hard to learn to trust him?

Getting Well Part 5 – How to Turn it Around


Time to make a U-Turn.Summer '12 271

We’ve agreed we want to get well. Even though it seems scary and is uncomfortable, we see our need for healing. The reasons we fall into depression make a little more sense. We’re examining our choices, and are learning to ask others for help.  Much of our unhealthiness of heart may be a result of wrongs done to us by others, but in our learning to cope and our follow up decisions, we’ve also been part of the problem. So how do we turn things around?

Healing often requires confession of sin.

I know. We hate to think of ourselves as sinners. The word holds a connotation of Bible wielding fanatics screaming in judgment,

Repent or die in hell, sinner!

We simply have to re-evaluate how we consider sin.

The Bible says that Jesus didn’t come to condemn us, but to save us (John 3:17; I John 1:9) God wants to make a way for us to be with him in relationship because he loves us. Let that sink in. Now consider that when we break off relationship with God by deciding that we are better at figuring out our lives than he (the one who created the universe and us) is, that is sin. Simply put, God is God and we are not. He knows everything and we do not. He wants our good, but we, like stubborn two year olds, often think we know better and we want our way. Now.

The concept of sin is that simple.

So when God talks about repentance, he’s asking us to reconsider. To turn toward him instead of away from him so that he can take care of us and bless us in every situation. Even the bad ones. It’s really as easy as making a U-Turn. Okay, so some U-Turns require patience and a little bit of a tight turn, but you get the picture.

How does this apply to getting well?

If we are serious about wanting to get well, we have to be willing to see things in our life that are sin; simply, anything that is not the way God intended for it to be. Then we must tell God we are sorry for doing or allowing something that is sinful—that’s repenting. We may also need to repent and apologize to others who have been hurt by our sin.

At first, repenting can feel so hard to do.

I remember a situation that occurred when I first began to understand this concept of repentance. I shared some information about a friend with another friend that I had no business passing on. It wasn’t gossip, I reasoned, since I wasn’t being mean or sharing something bad, but I had this awful feeling in my heart, a conviction that what I had done simply wasn’t right. It didn’t add anything to either of my friends’ lives, nor to mine other than making me feel important for having “news” to share. Apologizing was in order, but I struggled with my fear of being wrong (pride), and that I’d be rejected by my friends.

Finally, I gave in to the Lord’s gentle leading and repented—first to Him and then to my friends. I’d like to say the situation turned out beautifully and wasn’t awkward at all, but the truth is that the friend I gave the information to didn’t understand why I was making such a big deal over it and was a little miffed at me. The friend whose story I told acknowledged and agreed with my feeling convicted by my sin, and graciously forgave me with love and affection.  While the situation was painful, God brought such good out of it. I realized a lack in one friendship, and I grew closer to the other friend. And I walked away feeling a freedom I had not experienced in the past.

Sometimes it’s hard to grasp God’s grace and desire to love us without condemnation.

If we can be honest with ourselves about our sin, make a U-Turn in our thinking, and reach out for God’s grace in faith, we will be positioned for better things in life. Getting well is a process, but each step of repentance releases new freedom and healing.  Let’s turn this thing around!

What has your concept of sin and repentance been? Do you have an experience of healing as a result of confessing your sin?

Getting Well Part 4 – Can You Ask for Help?


We were never intended to figure out life on our own.IMG_3524

I had been one to isolate myself, but this wasn’t God’s plan. When Jesus asks us if we want to get well and offers to instruct us in the ways to healing, he doesn’t say,

Great! Good for you. Have fun figuring that out.

His intention is for other people to be part of our life. Relationships help us in and through our struggles. He wants us to seek people who truly want our best and are willing to tell us the truth even when it may feel painful to us. Only those who are willing to walk alongside us without their own interests, judgments and conclusions will benefit us in healing. Jesus is patient, kind and merciful so we will find the most help through those who treat us like he does.

I had a terrible time asking people for help.

When I was young, a prevailing sentiment in our home was that no one needed to know what went on there. Granted, no one wants to announce to the entire world the intimate workings of their home life. But when secrets are kept due to their inappropriate nature, we may learn to gloss over the truth or simply keep quiet. To tell someone about what happens in our home may feel betraying to us. For me, some things were too shameful to talk about. Other situations were not taken seriously by those whose protection I needed. As a result, later in life, it felt wrong or ineffective for me to ask for help. Even from someone I knew I could trust.

Wasn’t I burdening someone if I asked for their help?

I assumed that people would be too busy to have me bother them. But that wasn’t true. Naturally there is a boundary for inconsiderately calling someone anytime about everything, but choosing to take help that is offered shows wisdom and humility. I had to learn the difference and be willing to seek advice from those who offered to give it.

There are great benefits from getting help!

Trusted friends were able to:

  • Pray on my behalf—especially when I was too overwhelmed or weary.
  • Keep me accountable in the areas I wanted to change.
  • Share their stories of healing that encouraged me.
  • Give me different perspectives so I could think in better ways.
  • Cry with me when I was suffering.
  • Remind me of God’s greatness and ability to do what seemed impossible to me.
  • Celebrate with me when God did great things and led me in new freedom.

Some people may think they have all the answers for us.

They base their advice on what they expect or want for themselves rather than what is best for us. When we’re used to unhealthy relationships, it may be difficult to discern those situations. But someone who truly loves us will put us first; ask how they can serve us; offer suggestions while allowing us the freedom to accept it only if it fits for us; support us in every choice whether they feel it’s good or bad; listen much and talk less; and tell us the truth about who we are not who they want us to be for them.

Learning to get the right help will enable us to get well sooner. Having genuine support makes the journey more bearable. I’m so thankful to those who gave of their lives to make mine a better one.

What about you? Is there someone who truly helps you? Are you still learning to ask for help? Can I help you?
While nothing can replace spending time with an actual person, I still have found these resources to be a great source of help in my journey of healing:

The Bondage Breaker by Neil Anderson

When the Woman You Love Was Abused by Dawn Scott Jones

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers (fiction)

The Bible – nothing is as powerful as God’s word 🙂

 

Getting Well Part 2 – What’s Up With This Depression??


We’re ready for the good God has, but depression blankets us in darkness. What’s up?

IMG_3852

I learned that when I felt confused or depressed, it meant I was striving to figure things out so I could get them back into my control.

For me, depression often comes as the result of knowing a particular direction to take, but not being willing to actually move ahead with it. Usually, God has spoken to me through the Bible, a friend and/or simply a whisper of certainty in my heart, but I try to defend myself or find a way around it. He may prompt me to do something or let go of something that I’m simply not open to or ready for (I think), and when I try to convince myself that God surely can’t mean what I think I heard, depression sets in.

I feel depressed when I try to figure out things on my own, even when I think I am trusting God.

Sometimes depression comes when God is trying to show me something in my life, like how I relate to people or situations, so he can help me deal with it, but I keep pressing it down because I don’t want to see the truth or feel the pain of it.

Learning to recognize the causes of my depression, has allowed me to listen and follow God’s leading more easily and quickly so the length of time I am depressed or discouraged becomes increasingly less.

God loves us, so he is persistent, but gentle.

He will continue to prod us kindly, sometimes blatantly, but if we insist that we cannot do what he asks, he will leave us alone for a time to deal with things our own way in that area.

Once, during counseling, some issues were uncovered regarding some abuse I suffered in childhood. I was encouraged to confront someone regarding my situation, but I was terrified of the repercussions. I wanted to heal, but I feared more the hurt the other person might feel if I brought up these hidden issues. I knew bringing it up was the best thing to do even though it would be terribly hard. I simply couldn’t do it. I ended up feeling fearful and depressed.

Many years later, I felt God prompting me again to deal with the situation.

This time I did. The fall out was what I had feared, and caused me deep sorrow and even more pain. But the freedom and healing which occurred as a result of my willingness to confront the issue allowed me to move forward with my life. I gained something better for my future. The shame I had lived in began to lift. I learned to live more honestly without the compulsion to judge and criticize others or justify myself.

While depression can have clinical origins, much of the pressed down feeling we struggle with can be attributed to allowing God to heal and change us. It may seem counterproductive to battle depression because we’ve decided we want to get well, but actually, it shows we are heading in the right direction.

We learn to “just say no” to many things like abuse; but to God we want to keep saying “yes” to getting well.

Are there areas in your life you are avoiding dealing with? Have you experienced depression? What is your experience?

Getting Well Part 1


So you want to get well. Now what?

From the moment I answered God’s question affirmatively, my life became one revelation after another. PSuddenly, I saw wounded places in my heart that I had never noticed before. I had a new understanding about my abuse and recognized the truth that God was showing me. I learned so much about myself and how I related to others. Then, as I began to change, my family changed. Not all my circumstances changed, but the way I saw things did, so the circumstances were no longer the main focus of my life. Jesus was. The things God showed me opened up areas of my life to his comfort and healing.

But when I first said yes to God’s question about getting well, it seemed like my life spun out of control!

Because it did. At least, out of my control. But that was the point, to get my life out of my control and into God’s. It was difficult and frightening at first because I had been comfortable in my old ways even though they were destructive. Everything I had learned to rely on, all the patterns I had employed to protect myself and all the defenses I built to make myself feel secure were actually hindering the better situations God had for me. I needed to learn new, different ways to live.

Kind of like when my kids were very young and learning about money.

They would proudly show me their five pennies and I would attempt to exchange them for a nickel. No way! They would adamantly refuse. All they could see was that five was more than one. It didn’t make sense to them to trade something they thought of as more for only one coin. Then, I would try to give them a dime for their five pennies. That was worse in their little minds! Now they perceived I was trying to steal their five coins for one coin that was even smaller in size! They could not grasp the concept of the dime being twice as valuable! Even though I had doubled the value, they felt I was trying to rip them off when I was actually trying to give them something twice as good. Until they learned more about money, they had a terrible time trusting that I meant them good, not harm.

Jeremiah 29:11 tells us that God has a plan for our future and it is to bring us good, not harm.

We can trade what we have made of our lives, even the destructive areas that seem safe to us, for something exceedingly better. We simply have to let go of our “pennies” and let God give us something twice as good! But until we learn more about God, we may have an awful time trusting his intentions.

In the beginning, I felt scared, shaky and unsure of everything in my life and heart.

I felt like crying, and sometime screaming a lot of the time. I was tempted to fill the void created by letting go of my old patterns.  Before I fully learned new patterns of living, the empty places screamed at me to replace them. For me one of the biggest replacements was busyness, but it could be alcohol, food, shopping, reading romance novels (all of which I once battled) or any number of “comforts.” I would say “yes” to every request or perceived responsibility and take on more and more until I exhausted myself.

If I accomplished a lot, I felt good about myself and when I was busy I didn’t have time to consider the messed up places in my heart. That old pattern still threatens sometimes when my past fears get triggered. But now I’ve become aware of that tendency and instead of letting it control me I embrace the opposite. When I feel compelled to take on more than is reasonable, I recognize that old pattern, and I take a break or a time out, maybe even a nap.

God has a double portion of good for us if we are willing to relinquish our control.

Letting him lead us may seem crazy because his ways are opposite of the patterns we’ve employed to make ourselves feel safe. But if we will agree to his making us well, he will have twice as much good for us than what little we’ve been clinging to.

What have you been clinging to that God wants to exchange for something better?