Thursday, March 21, 2013

Confession #43 - "I Don't Hate Myself Anymore!"

I found this post from a note I started on facebook a few years ago.  And after I read it I could hardly believe how much has changed in my heart.  God has done an AMAZING work in me because I used to say these words to myself all the time and frankly now I can't remember the last time I even thought them.  God really does heal a broken heart.  Here's the post:

Do you know how many times a day I say, “I hate myself”?  Way too many.   Whenever I regret saying something to someone else, “I hate myself.”  Whenever I look in the mirror and don’t like the image starring back at me, “I hate myself”.  Whenever I lose my temper with my daughter, “I hate myself”.  Whenever I realize I’ve missed an opportunity to bless another, “I hate myself.”  Whenever I pick out one of my husband’s flaws, “I hate myself”.  Whenever I don’t meet or sometimes even when I don’t beat my expectations I put on myself, “I hate myself.”

Where did this self loathing come from?  Why HATE?  Hate is such a strong word.  The dictionary defines the word hate as:  an intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury; extreme dislike or antipathy.  Okay so, in my anger against myself and my sinful nature, coupled with my fear that I’m not acting as the person God created me to be I HATE me.  But is that what God wants me to do; hate myself?  No, I don’t think so.  I know that when God created me He created my inmost being, He knit me together in my mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13).  But I also know that God hates sin (Romans 12:9).  So how do I separate myself from my sin, in other words the things that I do that are not pleasing to my God, myself, and others.  How do I learn to instantly to forgive myself and give myself grace and mercy to carry on?  I ask God for forgiveness ALL the time.  And I know that God forgives me and grants me grace and mercy.  (Acts 10:43)  Yet, I fail time and time again to grant the same grace and mercy to myself.  I punish myself over and over again for my mistakes.  So much so that I make it so difficult to learn from them and move on.  Growth cannot happen when we snare ourselves into traps of pity and self loathing, and let’s face it, that’s exactly where Satan wants us to be.  In fact, now that I think about it I’ll bet that devil whispers that word in my ear all the time.  He says to me, “Remember Joanne, You hate yourself”.   Wait a second.  I’ve been listening to the devil.  I’ve allowed myself to stay stuck in this pit of despair because of a lie?  OMG IT’S A LIE! 

I need healing.  Lord, “I don’t hate myself and from now on I’m going to combat that evil with the armor of God.  The Helmet of Salvation ought to do it coupled with a few hate fighting verses like:  Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8) 

Love never fails.  I love that verse.  We hear this one at weddings all the time.  It’s a message to love our spouses no matter what.  But how come we miss out on the message for ourselves.  We don’t apply it to our lives?  LOVE Yourself.  Why?  Because God created you, God loves you.  He loves you sooooo much that He sent His one and only Son to die for you!  (John 3:16)  That’s right, someone died for me.  He died for these evil sins I beat myself up for everyday.  By hating myself, I put to waste the Love Jesus displayed for me on that cross.  No, now it’s time to put away my hate and lock it in a box.  It’s time to embrace the love that God has for me and to know with every fiber of my being that He LOVES me and so I must Love myself.  When God commanded us to Love one another, (John 13:34) I believe He also meant for us to love ourselves.  Today I will not Hate Joanne.  I will give her a BIG Hug, tell her I forgive her, and I love her.  She is worth fighting for, Christ fought for me on that cross, and I won’t let it go to waste. 

This post was written in 2011 and I can tell you that this issue is all but a faint memory.  God has healed me and has taught me to cover my ears when the devil comes around with this horrible montra.

Dear Heavenly Father, praise you Lord for giving me the strength to end this self-loathing and learn to love myself.  Thank you Father that you have lavished your love upon me so that I know that I have enormous worth.  I know that "God so loved Joanne, that He gave His one and only son that since she believes in Him, she shall not perish but have eternal life."  And Lord I pray for my sisters-in-christ to grasp the same concept whenever they are feeling like they hate themselves as well.  In Jesus' name I pray.  AMEN

Monday, March 11, 2013

Confession #42 - "I'm Mad as Hell and I'm not Going to Take it Anymore!!!"

"I'm Mad as Hell and I'm not Going to Take it Anymore!"  Those are some pretty strong words hun?  Actually I'm quoting a line from a 70's movie, "Network".  In the movie a news anchor basically goes insane on camera and screams relentlessly, "I'm Mad as Hell and I'm not Going to Take it Anymore!" 

Well this has been my life as of late.  In a previous post, The Bank Debacle (to read more click on the link), I wrote about the rage I took out on the branch manager of our bank and how my anger got the best of me.  I was hoping that my anger was under control but after a few weeks have passed, I realized that just isn't so.  Let me explain:

I've had a pretty rough go of things over the last few months.  I'd go into detail but it would take too much time.  Suffice it to say that there's a long list of issues one right after another that have plagued our family over this time.  Nothing horrifically tragic, just enough for me to go stock raving MAD!

My birthday weekend was the final kicker.  On my birthday weekend I wanted to spend the day on Saturday with my husband, because I had a ministry commitment in the evening.  Instead he chose to go fishing two hours away so he couldn't make it home in time to watch our daughter.  After I scrambled and made last minute arrangements I was able to go, but a sacrifice was involved.  When I came home a very bad argument ensued.  Then on Sunday morning I was planning on going first for breakfast, then church, followed by going to meet a potential new dog and finally on to my mom's for a birthday dinner celebration.  While getting ready my daughter had a meltdown which spurred on a big problem between her and my husband.  In the midst of the stress, I somehow managed to drop the hot curling iron onto my chest, severely burning myself.  As I tended to my wound my husband and daughter's "incident" grew eating up the rest of the time we had.  Having to choose between breakfast or church and being I was so fed up with both of them, I refused to go anywhere.  I just layed on the recliner writhing in pain and cried.

The extended family didn't help either.  Since I couldn't spend Saturday with my husband, I had hoped to spend time with my mom, shopping, but instead she decided to cook a large dinner for my birthday on Sunday, (which I didn't request) but because she had so much prep work to do she could not come shopping.  She also decided to invite her friends over for the dinner.  Don't get me wrong, I don't mind, I believe the more the merrier,  but  I was dissappointed because she never bothered to ask me if I wanted to invite anyone.  On Sunday she was so busy with her cooking and cleaning she didn't have two seconds to spend with me the entire night and then to top it all off she made an ice cream cake.  Folks, I'm severely Lactose Intolerant.  Even with a Lactose pill, I can't eat ice cream without painful consequences and mom knows this.  So I watched as everyone enjoyed my birthday cake.  Needless to say I had given up on any hope of having a happy birthday.

Ladies, I realize that I sound like a whining little baby here, but this isn't the first time my birthday has been left in ruins, and sadly it probably won't be the last. 

By 3am Monday morning, the day of my actual birthday, I found myself awake and crying hysterically.  I was so depressed I couldn't sleep.  I left my room and layed down on the couch with my favorite comfort, the Bible, and prayed through my tears, "God, I can't sleep, why am I so depressed?  I can't take this sadness anymore.  Lord please bring me joy for my sorrow.  Please let something good happen to me today."  Just as I sat back quietly waiting on the Lord I heard the voice of the Holy Spirit speaking in my heart.  He said, "Joanne, you're not depressed."  So I argued with God, "I'm not?  Really?  Are you kidding me?"  God replied, "You are not depressed."  "Okay then what am I?", I replied sarcastically.  "You are not depressed, you are angry.  And the minute you let go of your anger, you will be released."

God knows all and He knew my heart was just swimming, no drowning in anger.  I was angry about all the injustice I had suffered, the loss of my pets, my ruined vacation, the checks bouncing and the subsequent hold on my deposits, the lack of improvement in my daughter's behavior at school.  My husband's choices, and finally my fiasco of a birthday.  Nothing went as I expected.

And there you go, the magic word, expected.  I realized that the source of my frustration and anger was that I had tons of unmet expectations.  I put my trust in other people and just expected it to go as I had hoped.  And when it didn't I became angry!  And the more my expectations we're met, the more angry I became.  If I am ever going to get past this, if is to be any resolution for me, I have to let go of my anger and except the fact that if I didn't put expectations on people and situations, this would never have happened in the first place.

Ladies, the only real true expectations we can have is in the Lord.  God's word tells us the God is the same, yesterday, today and tomorrow (Hebrews 13:8).  It tells us He will never leave us nor forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5)  It tells us of God's everlasting love and promises.  And when God makes a promise, He NEVER breaks it, EVER!

It's not the same with people.  This world is full of evil.  People aren't perfect, so far from it.  They will hurt you and disappoint you time and time again.  The only reliable relationship we can have is with our Heavenly Father. 

I've decided to put my expectations on Him.  Present my requests to Him and the bibles says, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Phil 4:6-7.  If I can just give Him my requests, and put my expectations on my loving Father, He will never disappoint me and He will guard me with His peace.  He will do the same thing for you my friend.

I'm done with visiting Hell with my anger.  That's not the place I want to be.  I want to be at peace with my life, and the people I care about no matter what.

Jesus died to bring me peace.  He left us saying, "My peace I leave with you" John 14:27.  We are instructed in Job 22:21-30:

“Give in to God, come to terms with him
and everything will turn out just fine.
Let him tell you what to do;
take his words to heart.
Come back to God Almighty
and he’ll rebuild your life.
Clean house of everything evil.
Relax your grip on your money
and abandon your gold-plated luxury.
God Almighty will be your treasure,
more wealth than you can imagine.

“You’ll take delight in God, the Mighty One,
and look to him joyfully, boldly.
You’ll pray to him and he’ll listen;
he’ll help you do what you’ve promised.
You’ll decide what you want and it will happen;
your life will be bathed in light.
To those who feel low you’ll say, ‘Chin up! Be brave!’
and God will save them.
Yes, even the guilty will escape,
escape through God’s grace in your life.”

I'm dedicating to giving my anger to God and not to get Mad as Hell anymore.  Won't you join me?

Dear Heavenly Father, please Lord forgive me for sinning in my anger.  For placing my expectations in the wrong places and on the wrong people.  Help me Lord when I am feeling tempted to expect anything other than your good and perfect and pleasing will for my life.  My hope is in you dear Lord and no one else.  Give me the strength to get past my anger and to live in complete peace.  And Loving God, for my sisters-in-Christ who live with constant unmet expectations let them turn their desires over to you.  In Jesus' name I pray.  AMEN.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Confession #41 - "The Bank Debacle"

The Bank Debacle, sounds like a title to a Nancy Drew mystery, doesn't it?  But it truly was a debacle.  One of my most "dirtiest" moments as of late.  Oh yes, when the bible says, "...anger resides in the lap of fools."  (Ecc 7:9) it's not kidding because I made an utter and complete fool out of myself because of anger. 

Long story short, because of a few bounced checks (for which there was a reasonable explanation) the bank's computer placed a hold on all our deposits but failed to notify us.  I only found out because my mortgage check bounced.  In my conversation with the bank on the phone, I didn't feel as if there was any resolution, so I sent my husband to work it out with the branch manager.  My husband called me at work to explain to me the resolution, but that was not to my satisfaction so I requested that he put me on the phone with the manager.  Sensing my level of anger, the manager,  refused to speak with me so I told my husband to prepare him for my arrival.  I left work and drove straight to the bank.  I was met outside by my husband who pleaded with me to calm down to which I replied with a threat of throwing him into the plate glass window if he didn't get out of my way.  Almost 40 minutes later the branch manager and I had gotten nowhere because I was too angry to listen and every word out the man's mouth I took offensively. 

I couldn't possibly hear him, I was in a rage.  If I had only listened to my husband on the phone, I would have realized that the situation had actually been resolved amicably.  But no this fool had a lap of anger that she needed to let go of.  Now I'm sure I have a reputation with the folks at my bank, with whom I've done business with for the last 14 years.

Needless to say that I am remorseful but that won't take away my actions or my words.  It will forever leave me in the minds of it's victims as, well, a fool.

This isn't my first trip down Fool Lane, I've visited that street before my friends.  I consider myself a fairly open and honest person, so I when I say I don't consider myself an angry person or someone who continually struggles with anger I'm telling the truth, but when pushed I will take an immediate left turn onto Fool Lane.

Here's another such example.  It was the end of my 8th grade year.  I had endured  three years of continual bulling from April, Michelle, and Candy.  They made of fun of what I wore, how I looked, how I styled my hair, how I spoke and how I walked.  Not that I didn't have a good reason to be angry, but in this case, my anger built and built and built and finally I couldn't take anymore and I went crying to my friend Becky about it.  Becky who was a few years older than I, and never one to put up with such a thing empowered me to take a stand and face up to these "Mean girls". 

So there I went, down the block to the apartment complex where they lived.  April was sitting on her front stoop as she usually did.  I needed more support so I knocked on the door of my best friend Debbie who lived in the same complex.  Debbie came out with her sister Lori and listened as I yelled at April and Michelle inviting them into a physical confrontation.  I didn't get so much as a word back.  April sat there stoic and Michelle only came out of her apartment because she wanted to see what all the noise was about.  But neither of them moved.  I screamed louder and louder more and more angry trying to get a response, and NOTHING!  Finally, when April responded, I turned around to confront her with all my energy forgetting that I was leaning against a metal pole. 

Yes, you guessed it, I plowed smack dab into that pole with such force that I knocked myself out and slide down the pole and the force of the blow left me with one big beautiful shiner.  Yup ladies it was a fine moment for this angry fool.  Looking back, I wish this was a lesson learned but as you know I seem to find my way to Fool Lane every now and again.

I am praying that the memory of my foolish actions teach me to control my anger.  Anger is not a bad thing, God gave us this emotion so that we can change bad things to good.  So that we could be empowered to take a righteous stand against evil.  Psalm 145:8 says, "The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love."  And when God does get angry, His anger is righteous, however, when we use anger in any other way we are simply compromising our witness and that just grieves the Holy Spirit.  It's sin.

Ephesians 4:26-27 says, "In your anger do not sin” Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,  and do not give the devil a foothold."

The devil lives on Fool Lane and the only way to get there is in a little red Corvette named anger.  I'm praying to steer clear of his favorite street, will you pray with me?

"Dear Heavenly Father, please forgive me for my foolish display of anger.  Forgive me for not being self-controlled and leaning on you when I'm scared and hurt.  Father give me the strength and the consciousness to seek you first before I respond in anger.  Please help to keep me from sinning in my anger and let me see the situation as you would.  And patient Father for my sisters-in-Christ who struggle with anger of their own, help them steer clear of Fool Lane and redirect them to Righteous Road.  In Jesus' name I pray. AMEN"