Showing posts with label addiction. Show all posts
Showing posts with label addiction. Show all posts

Friday, September 9, 2016

Why are God's People Afraid to be Real?

In the past I thought being a good Christian meant wearing a mask. Projecting an image of happiness and wholeness to all those around me. I thought the mask would help others to see Jesus through me. It would keep my brokenness from becoming a distraction to others. I would wear this mask that I created and when the mask would slip, I would become overcome with guilt for failing as a Christian.

Through the last several years, I have found that sometimes people can see God most shining through the cracks of my brokenness. I was doing God no favors by being artificial. God wanted to use my brokenness. He wanted to heal my brokenness. He wanted to love me in my brokenness.

As a society we have things that are stigmatized. Things that go unspoken for fear of rejection and judgement. Sadly, this is not much more different in our Christian walk.There are some subjects that are uncomfortable and can make us feel vulnerable.

Top Three Things Christians Hide: (Some of these overlap)

1. Mental Illness- Depression, Anxiety, Postpartum, Bipolar, PTSD, Schizophrenia, ect.

As I struggle with depression I find times when I feel the need to fake a smile, even when I am feeling shattered. Sometimes it is to hide my struggle. Sometimes it is to not make someone else uncomfortable. Also, sometimes it is because it makes me feel like I can just make it through. I am one of those personalities where if I am on the verge of crying and a friend tries to comfort me through kind words or through even just a touch, I fall apart and have a hard time gaining composure again.

In our society, mental illnesses are seen as weakness. They are often misunderstood. As Christians we are one body. So why can't we be vulnerable with our brothers and sisters in Christ? How is our pride getting in the way of allowing us to seek support and prayer? Are our expectations of others and attitudes keeping others from reaching out to us?

2. Addictions- Drugs, Alcohol, Food, Pornography, ect.

As I struggle with overeating I feel a deep sense of shame and guilt. I will have a nagging thought that seems to get louder and louder as I entertain it. I seek it for comfort. It makes me feel better, but the feeling is so short lived and I end up feeling defeated and worse than before. It is an idol that I have given myself to and that I felt could take away the pain. Food is not the only addiction I have had in my life, but at this time it is the one that I struggle with day by day, hour by hour, sometimes moment by moment.

If so many with addictions find help with support groups, how many more Christians could if we could be open about our struggles? If we could listen, support, and pray for them? Unfortunately, judgmental attitudes get in the way of showing love to each other. Imagine a brother or sister in Christ came to you and said, "Please pray for me. I am addicted to pain pills." How easy would it be to judge that person? It can be so easy to compare ourselves to others, when really we should be comparing ourselves to Jesus.

3. Sexual Immorality- Lust, Adultery, Pornography, ect.

A little over ten years ago, I had an emotional affair that turned into physical affair. It had started as a friendship. Someone who I felt understood me and who made me feel better about myself, when at the time I felt I was in a loveless marriage. I quickly became emotionally attached to the person. My heart would start racing when I saw their number on the caller id. I would find reasons to go and talk. After having a fight with my husband, I went to my friend for comfort. The emotional affair became physical and I had committed adultery. I was so attached to this person that I was willing to break apart my family. My life quickly fell apart. It was soon after that I allowed Jesus to be the Lord of my life.Thankfully, God has worked so many miracles in my life and has brought healing and restoration into my marriage.

In the church sex and sexual immorality is often a topic that is brushed aside. We feel uncomfortable talking about it and it has become faux pas. So many families are or have been impacted by sexual sins. It seems almost like we believe if we ignore it, it will go away. Sexual sins are embarrassing, but they wont just go away. Jesus was a great example with the Samaritan woman at the well. 

John 4:15-19 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”
 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”
“I have no husband,” she replied.
Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”
 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet.
John 4:39-41 Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.”  So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days.  And because of his words many more became believers.

Why should we get real?

*Not only are mental illnesses, addictions, and sexual immorality similar in the way they are stigmatized, they are all very isolating struggles. They lead to others withdrawing and trying to handle it on their own. If we as a body can start communicating about them, it will remove some of the power of them. We can then lift each other up and encourage each other. 

Ecclesiastes 4:12 Though one may be overpowered,
    two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

*We are a light, even in our brokenness. The world is filled with fallen broken people. If we can be real with others, they can see that God loves us in our brokenness. We are unable to do good on our own, but God still uses us to bring Him glory. How cool to have a God that can use the very things that we struggle with, to help others. 

1 Timothy 1:15-17 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Brothers and Sisters, 
If you are struggling and you feel all alone, you are not! It may feel like the world is caving in on you and like you are just trying to survive. Even then, God is still there. He loves you so much and you are precious to Him. Please reach out to a friend, family member, a doctor, or a pastor. We are stronger with others at our side. Please let me know if there is any way I can pray for you! 
God Bless, 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

How to Make Your Marriage Work

Let me start by saying that this post is only for those who want or think that they might want it to work. If you have decided in your heart that you are done and that your marriage is not worth fighting for anymore than you will not find much support through what I write. I do not judge you because there were times that I had been there, but I do encourage you to leave just a little room for the possibility and to seek counseling. The fact is even if you do get a divorce you will continue to carry the baggage of a torn marriage around with you until you have resolved it and begun processing it. Again, if you choose to get a divorce I wish you all the best in your life but this post is not meant for you. 

When making a marriage work you can start by thinking of it as a war for your marriage instead of a fight. What do I mean about that? There are going to be battles, some that you win and some that you lose, but you can't just surrender at the the defeats. When you start a war you have to have a military plan.You need to know what you are fighting for, what damages you expect, and who your allies are. Allies would be pastors, counselors, and other spiritual leaders. You need soldiers to fight with you who understand your goal. They fight with you through all the battles and they give you emotional support when you feel like putting up the white flag. Real soldiers do not sabotage you. Like wars, patience is key. There is no way to know how long it will last. 

If you are at this point you may have been facing loneliness, abuse, addictions, infidelity, loss of identity, and hopelessness. All of these things deserve to be addressed. 

I wanted to start by discussing loneliness. One of the hardest things I faced was not being lonely in general but was being lonely in a marriage. It can make you feel like a caged bird, one that longs for freedom but is stuck all alone. I wanted to address loneliness first because of the risk of future harm to your marriage. When there is trouble in a marriage it is important to not confide in any males that you are not related to. Even with the best of intentions, a friendship can quickly escalate to an emotional attachment. When you feel lonely and unloved by your husband, it can be easy to allow yourself to listen to a male who is willing to listen to you and support you. Even if the emotional attachment never turns to more, any time you go to another male for that attachment and not your spouse it can cause a further drift in your marriage. This is why it is very important to learn the importance of some good female Christian  fellowship.

Three things that most people consider deal breakers are abuse, addiction, and infidelity. If you have had to face any of these issues, I am so sorry. These can tear down your confidence. They can make you lose trust in people. I believe that a couple can move past these hurts and still have a very healthy marriage but it takes a lot of work, love, and forgiveness. I truly believe in God's strength and power when He is put at the center of a marriage. While I believe in working through these issues, I also believe in healthy boundaries. You can love a person and still not allow their actions to affect you. It is important that if you are in danger, you need to separate yourself from the person. You can continue to love them by not enabling their behavior, by taking the time separated to connect with God, and by remaining in prayer for them. I think of this as loving from a distance. Boundaries is a great book that teaches about Godly boundaries. 

When struggling in a marriage you can face loss of identity. I remember this vividly. I feel like I went from Faith to just being Alvin's wife and Abbie's mom. I placed all of my confidence and identity in my spouse instead of in the Lord. When I began to see a change in my marriage is when I began to pray that I would find fulfillment in God and not in my spouse. I realized that if I could be fulfilled in God then any love my spouse gave me would just be overflow. The only person we can change is ourselves. 

There is no way for us to create hope... hope only comes from God and knowing His promises. We have to know that God would not lead us astray. If you place God at the center of you life and your marriage, He will give you the wisdom and strength you need to make it through. 

When speaking to others about the struggles in marriage, one common theme I hear is, "Why should I fight (change... go to counseling) if they aren't willing to fight (change... go to counseling) for me?" This can be a tough question to answer. How often did God fight for me, when I was not willing to fight for Him? How often did He love and forgive me when I was angry and sinful towards Him? I am just so thankful to God that through out the many struggles in my marriage we never both gave up fighting at the same time.... there was always one of us fighting. I know that it was God who carried us through those times. I am amazed to see the couple God is changing us into. 

God can heal your marriage, but you have to be willing to let Him. Seek godly wisdom and counsel. Set up godly boundaries for yourself and your spouse. Lose yourself in God because that is where you will find fulfillment. Pray for your spouse. Hope comes from God alone. 

Romans 5:10 "For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!"

Warren Barfield- Love is Not a Fight

Love is not a place

To come and go as we please
It's a house we enter in
Then commit to never leave

So lock the door behind you
Throw away the key
We'll work it out together
Let it bring us to our knees

Love is a shelter in a raging storm
Love is peace in the middle of a war
And if we try to leave, may God send angels to guard the door
No, love is not a fight but it's something worth fighting for

To some, love is a word
That they can fall into
But when they're falling out
Keeping that word is hard to do

Love is a shelter in a raging storm
Love is peace in the middle of a war
And if we try to leave, may God send angels to guard the door
No, love is not a fight but it's something worth fighting for

Love will come to save us
If we'll only call
He will ask nothing from us
But demand we give our all

Love is a shelter in a raging storm
Love is peace in the middle of a war
And if we try to leave, may God send angels to guard the door
No, love is not a fight but it's something worth fighting for

I will fight for you
Would you fight for me?
It's worth fighting for

Monday, July 23, 2012

"God is good. Man is not."

Last week I had to face a major trial, and I am still facing it. You see, someone who I really care for has an addiction. Without my realizing, the pull of this addiction became overwhelming for the person and lead them to steal something so precious and priceless from me in order to get the high that they needed.  Friday morning I had found not only evidence of the addictions grip but all noticed that the item was gone and with it my trust. They had broken into my room when I lay asleep, and now I feel completely invaded. I know that comes with invasion of privacy, but I think it also comes from trusting someone and being betrayed by that same person.

"You know the effort I have given
And you know exactly what it cost
And though my innocence was taken
Not everything is lost
Not everything is lost nooooo" -Brandon Heath "Your Love"

Over the last year God has been teaching me that He is in control. I have learned that people will sin and make bad choices but God is always true and timeless. He does not change. I have also been learning to share the grace and forgiveness that God has shared with me. I do not believe in forgive and forget... well at least not completely. I do need to forget or not hold things against the person. I need to show them love, but agape love (godly love) is not naive. Love protects and cares for the person. In order to protect and love a person with an addiction you need to remember the addiction so that you do not leave triggers out that will cause that person to stumble. For example if a friend has an addiction to alcohol, I can forgive them for their actions when they were intoxicated but I won't just forget and leave a bottle of whiskey on the table. 

Galatians 6:1-6 "Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.  Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves.  Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else,  for each one should carry their own load. Nevertheless, the one who receives instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor."

Now, there is a difference in carrying someone's burden and in carrying their load. When someone is in sin or was in sin they have a load which is their natural consequences from their actions. After they have been lovingly restored, they may have a burden of an addiction or temptation that they carry. The burden is not a consequence of their actions, it is a weight that holds them down. We are to help them with that but holding them accountable, loving, supporting, and setting up safe guards for them. Beware a person who is entangled in sin should NOT be the person to carry another persons burdens. You can still pray for the person and love them but if that person is not able to carry their own load they are not in the right place to be helping others. My dad always told me, "If you can't swim, don't jump in to save a drowning person."

In dealing with the trials last week, I try to pour all my pain into God. I give it to him so that I can respond in a godly way. It was so tough because everything in my flesh wanted to lash out in anger and in hurt. I knew that I would not even be able to control my tongue if I were to speak to the person, so I separated myself from the person, not out of anger but out of protection for the person. Any words that are not godly would only lead to more pain and hurt in both myself and in the person. Expressing anger can be godly but only when controlled and when used to express the pain and encourage healing, but when used as a sword against the person it does not bring any good. I had to pray for the person, not that they would just change but that they would experience God's love and grace, that they would be able to be free from the grips of sin, and that I would be able to love them even through my feelings. I know that God did not do this to me. God has given us all free will to make our own decisions, even if that means to sin. The same free will that allows me to choose to praise Him, allows someone else to cause me pain. But God, in His abundant love for me, still protected my heart and is comforting me through this. 

A friend had posted a link on Facebook to a blog from a Christian woman who was at the movie theater with her children at the time of the shooting. She was responding to the questions of God being merciful in allowing someone to do that. I had email her and asked her permission to post some of it on here and link it to her page. It was such a blessing and a reminder. You see, I know that God is good. I know that He is loving and merciful, but sometimes my heart doesn't agree with my head.

"He is not the cause of evil, but He is the one who can bring comfort and peace in the midst of evil.  It’s been amazing to see the outpouring of love from so many people after this unthinkable act.  Yes, there was one evil act, but it is being covered by thousands, possibly millions of acts of kindness."... 

Romans 8:28 " And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Sometimes it seems as if no good can come from a situation. It seems hopeless, but God does. He weaves things together and is glorified. How great is God? 

"Though we don’t have all the answers, we do indeed listen to the cry of our hearts: When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What  can mere man  do to me? Psalm 56:3-4
God is always good.
Man is not.
Don’t get the two confused."....

I love this. How true. God is good. He is and always will be good. We need to remember the difference and be so quick to blame God. Just like when Job questioned God and God said, " Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation? Tell me if you understand." God allows us to ask Him and seek wisdom, but we need to remember our place. God is God.

Please check out her entire link.  She has an amazing story of God's peace and love, and I didn't want to post the whole thing and prevent you from reading it yourself.

"Your grace is enough, Your grace is enough, Your grace is enough for me." -Chris Tomlin "Your Grace is Enough"

Update: As I have said and will continue to say, God is good. He is already providing restoration and healing in the situation. It might be a hard and bumpy road but I know that I am in good hands. Today, the person I had mentioned in this post, had accepted Christ. How great is our God? Thank you for all the prayers. Thank you God for you unceasing grace and abundant love. 

Friday, June 8, 2012

When Your Heart Stops

I walked into the room filled with joy and excitement. I sat down on the bed next to my love and I saw it. My heart immediately stopped. I could feel my chest tighten and my eyes were flushed with salty tears of pain, anger, and disappointment. When my heart began to beat again I could feel it sink into my stomach. Even though the image was only on the screen for a second before he was able to close it, it felt like minutes. I was able to have an entire dialog with myself as the thoughts flowed from my soul, but I wasn't able to get the lump in my throat up enough to push out the words I so wanted to say. I took a very focused breath and asked what I needed to ask. He seemed extremely defensive in his assurances that it was only a pop-up from a blog. 

God must have given me His peace, because I only asked to see the blog that it pops up on. Upon viewing the blog several times there was no pop-up. I had asked to see his history in as much of a calm and nonjudgemental fashion I could muster. The settings were in such a way that it doesn't record them. He continued to try to assure me, which only led me to assume the opposite. I felt myself not knowing whether to yell, fight, or cry. Again, God gave me His peace. God's peace doesn't mean you don't always feel the pain, but it does mean you are able to face the pain in a more controlled fashion and less influenced by inner emotional toil.  I left the room to contemplate the situation. 

I write this, not to bash my love but to allow God a chance to speak to my heart and to yours. Sometimes, being a wise Christian means separating your soul from your spirit. My heart is flesh and will deceive me. Whereas, my spirit is in communion with the Holy Spirit, who has the ultimate wisdom. 

My heart wants to know if he was speaking the truth. My heart wants to make him feel pain for the pain he causes me. My heart feels defeated and overwhelmed, but my spirit wants to grow and wants to crawl into my Father God's loving arms, pouring our my tears and frustrations. My spirit needs to see the Truth, so that I can defend myself and my family against the father of lies. 

The truth: 
We all have sins and addictions that pull us and tempts us. These things pull us away from our family, our friends, and from our God. Whether or not he was giving into his addiction is ultimately between him and God. I need to be in prayer for him as the Devil is on the prowl and is trying to attack my love. 

I am no more righteous than my love. I am no more worthy of God's forgiveness and love than my love is.  

Satan would love for the situation to distract me from God's work in my life, from the relationship I am building up with my love, and from praising God. I will praise God because He is worthy. Because God has given me victory over Satan. Because God can turn all things to good. 

My focus is not supposed to be on whether or not I can trust my love or anyone else that I makes myself vulnerable to. My focus is to be on God. He is the one I can trust at all times. He can heal my heart from the pain. 

Where to go from here: 
I need to pray. I need to pray that I may be able to show my love God's love, forgiveness, and grace. I need to pray that I do not allow things to come between my walk with God. I need to pray that God protects my love's heart and helps him become strong spiritual headship. I need to pray that my love can find fellow Christian men that can love and support him. I need to pray that God protects all the marriages around us. 

I need to praise. I need to sing it out. I need to shout the amazing love and glory of God until my heart believes my spirit. 

I need to claim the victory that Jesus has given us. 

1 Peter 5:8 "Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour."

Romans 8:26 "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans."

2 Timothy 1:7 "For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline."

Isaiah 41:13 
"For I am the Lord your God
    who takes hold of your right hand 
and says to you, Do not fear;
    I will help you."

Psalm 46:1-3 
"God is our refuge and strength, 
    an ever-present help in trouble. 
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way 
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, 
though its waters roar and foam 
    and the mountains quake with their surging."

Hebrews 4:12 "For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart."

1 Peter 3:1 "Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives,"

What can God help you overcome? Do you put your trust in man or in God? What do you need prayer for?