Thursday, October 18, 2012

September 2012

This month we read the blog post below, and then talked about each of our own struggles and questions we ask ourselves. We brainstormed ways to change our own questions to reflect faith, hope and love. I highly recommend this activity for everyone! It applies to all circumstances, most certainly including infertility or the loss of a baby.

Changing the Question

I met with a friend the other day. We have an interesting history that dates back to college, which was somehow over ten years ago. (How is that possible? Will I feel like a bonafide adult any time soon?)

She told me about a training she had a long time ago that dealt with the questions we ask ourselves. She said we all ask ourselves questions, and that our minds try to find answers to every one of those questions. But when we ask bad questions, or questions that only have negative answers, we are wearing ourselves out, depleting our energy and stamina, and causing stress.

There's a process for modifying/transforming our questions. It includes evaluating how the questions make you feel in your mind, body, and soul.  I'm giving it a try....

Original question
"What is wrong with you?"  (Asked of me, by me, about myself, accompanied by anger or frustration or disappointment or despair.)

When I ask myself this question I feel upset, feel like a failure, think I'll never change. My body feels sluggish, tired, tense, heavy. My soul feels guilty, dirty, ashamed, foolish.

The first transformation is to include faith in the question and make the question more neutral.  I'm not really sure how to do this, but here's an attempt: "How is God changing your life, showing His strength in your weaknesses?"

This question says that I believe God is here, is part of my life, and isn't just ignoring me as I repeatedly fail. I still feel sad, discouraged, and tired. Still somewhat guilty, but not ashamed or dirty.  Those feelings are not positive, but they are less severely negative. Step in the right direction....

The second transformation is to include hope in the question. "How is God changing my life, giving me strength to glorify Him more every day?"  The hope in this version of the question is found in the every day part. The idea that today is a bit better than yesterday, and tomorrow will be a bit better than today. I'm not regressing, and I'm not stuck in this icky heart place. I'm moving in the right direction whether I can discern it or not.  Interesting to me that in this transformation I switched from the external "you" or "your life" to the personalized "me" or "my life."  Like I'm less accusatory and feel safe enough to acknowledge that it's me we're talking about here and not some dumb slacker. (Does that even make sense? Hmmm....)

This question says that I'm not stuck. Change is not just possible but is reality. My reality. I actually am moving in the right direction. All of this hard work is not wasted. I feel optimistic, encouraged, empowered, and on target because I'm moving closer to the goal of Christians - glorifying God. It's not about me or my actions, but about God and revealing Him to others as I bring Him glory through my life. 

The third transformation is to include love in the question. (  "How is God actively showing me love as He changes my life, giving me strength to glorify Him more every day?"

This question says I have value; I am loved by the King. Loved not just enough, but so much that He changes me and gives me what I need every moment of every day. I feel treasured and protected. My body wants to sit up straighter, pay attention, look straight ahead, and confidently take the next step. My soul feels at peace, not lacking in anything.

Once you have gone through these question transformations, you're supposed to ask yourself the final version of the question as you lay down and fall asleep. In time your brain will come up with an answer, and it will be a life-giving answer instead of a life-draining answer.

Let's give this a shot :)

August 2012

Pam Ramsey shared with us this month - a blessing as always! Below are some of the things she mentioned.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts usin all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 

There is a purpose in pain. Ecclesiastes says there is a time for everything - a time to mourn, and a time to choose thankfulness.  We have a turn to comfort others because of our pain.  If we allow the grief to continue longer than we should, it will paralyze us and become a stumbling block. 
**We are not suggesting anyone in particular is allowing grief to continue longer than it should, just reminding ourselves that while God is ultimately for our healing, the Enemy would love to keep us in one stage longer than is best for us. 

Linda Dillow wrote a book called Calm My Anxious Heart. In it she describes a teacup theology. The basic idea is that God gives you a portion of your life each day - just the right amount, containing just the right blend of experiences, knowing what is best. While we may not like everything placed into or allowed to be in our cup each day or each season, when we trust God we can turn to Him for comfort.  Jesus asked for His cup to be taken from Him, but God said no. So Jesus accepted it. We would be void of hope if He had NOT accepted it!

In our cups there are many roles and many aspects of our lives. We as women are made to be nurturers, made to be relational. We may have desires, even God given desires, that aren't in our current role. Will we accept that or kick and scream? Sometimes God fulfills those desires or roles in ways that don't seem obvious or expected or even usual or normal.

In relationships, we have the ministry of presence - just being with others and giving them space to process life and learn about God and others.  In our abilities, we need to focus on what God has given NOW, remembering that we cannot redo today. There are many good things that may not be for us to do in the current season.  In our physical being, we have to realize that most of how we are physically is unchangeable. We need to accept how God made us and have confidence in God instead of in our bodies.  Finally, in our circumstances, it is what it is! Our choice is in how to respond and react. Sometimes we expect ourselves and others to get to a better place more quickly than is reasonable or realistic.

We can't bring God glory if we're focusing on what ISN'T what we want. What will we choose to do when we start to struggle with something? Lean on God or go down the bad spiral? Would we truly be happy or content if we had what we're unhappy about today? And honest reflection reveals the answer...probably not.

Philippians 4:11
I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.

Matthew 10 tells us that Jesus came not to bring peace, but a sword. If you love __________ more than Him, the Bible says you're not worthy of Him. Are we more consumed with or passionate about anything besides Jesus? If so, we are out of balance. Perhaps we need to confess that we've allowed other things to supersede our priority of God in our lives.

Leslie Weatherhead said that the opposite of joy is not sorrow; it is unbelief.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss, in her book Lies Women Believe, said "God's will is what we'd choose if we knew what God knows."  Often, God's grace and mercy come in a different package than what we'd expect.  Luke 22:42 reminds us of the choice Jesus made "Not my will, but Yours be done."

(DeMoss) "God lives in a place of praise. If we want to be where He is, we need to go to His address."  "I've learned that in every circumstance that comes my way, I can choose to respond in one of two ways: I can whine or I can worship! And I can't worship without giving thanks. It just isn't possible. When we choose the pathway of worship and giving thanks, especially in the midst of difficult circumstances, there is a fragrance, a radiance, that issues forth out of our lives to bless the Lord and others."

We can minister to others when we choose to bless the Lord as we accept and praise Him in ALL things. (Notice this says IN all things, not necessarily FOR all things...there is a big difference!)