Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Confession #63 - The Deceit of Happiness

I confess this isn't very Christ-like but I can easily become depressed.  It's as if I need an IV of happiness coursing through my veins to keep me from going to a dark place at times.  I rely so much on my emotions to get me through the day.

On complacent and lazy days I can become depressed for my lack of productivity.  When I don't feel like finishing something I started I become angry with myself and depressed.  When things are not going well and I feel hopeless and become depressed.  Whenever money starts running low, I become depressed.  When my child is continually disobeying the rules I become angry and depressed.  If my husband is in a bad mood, I can get depressed.  If work seems pointless and uninteresting I become depressed.  If I feel like no one understands me I get depressed.  If people aren't treating me the way I feel I deserve I get depressed.  When I don't get what I think everyone else is getting I get depressed.  Now isn't that depressing?

I have always worked hard to hide my depression from others.  Most people may describe me as a pretty happy person.  I like to write about uplifting subjects and make sure that there's always a "happy ending" in my messages.  But inside there's this darkness.  This heaviness that draws me down and sometimes keeps me from realizing the real happiness I've been looking for.

I have never written about this because I am ashamed of it.  It's just another part of my "dirty" soul.  As a Christian I should not be depressed. How can I be when I have the hope of eternal life?  Yet here I am admitting that even as a strong Christian woman, I become easily depressed.  Now I do snap out of it easily, but it's just as easy for me to snap back into it again.

This may be the reason I am a lover of all things Disney.  Disney World is my favorite place to go on earth.  I think it's because to me it symbolizes the fulfillment of perpetual happiness.   What's interesting to me is that I actually have more fun in the planning stages of a Disney World vacation.  You know the fantasizing about where we will go, what characters we will see, the rides, restaurants and experiences, more than I actually enjoy being there.  Because truthfully the actual vacations can become a bit of a nightmare.  Come'on Disney fans let's be honest, it doesn't matter how much happiness a place can hold, heat, long lines, lack of sleep and family dysfunction can create a cesspool of misery.  Sorry Disney I know I'm not helping you out here but I have to be honest.

This latest dive into depression has come from the fact that I couldn't go on vacation with my family or even take my kid to Disney for a day this spring break.  Frankly it's not like she hasn't been a hundred times.  I just wanted to get away, escape the reality of life for a while and I'm not able to so I'm depressed, again...

I was praying today when I heard the Lord speak.  This is what I believe He said:

Decide today your direction.  Will you be guided and led by faith or by life?  Will you be distracted by your wants and desires or be focused on what I have in store for you?  Will you let these silly dreams and fantasies take you away from my purpose?  Is your constant desire for happiness and fun going to cause you to veer off course?  Happiness is temporary.  It is emotional.  But joy is spiritual.  Joy is everlasting and rooted.  I engrave you with my joy.  Disney brings a temporary happiness to children but it does not rescue them from the sorrows of this world and the pain of their circumstances.  Bring them joy through my word which is eternal hope and faith.  For faith brings hope and hope produces joy.

Happiness, like most emotions can be deceitful.  After I wrote down the words I believe the Lord gave me I opened my bible and landed at Jeremiah 17:9, "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.  Who can understand it?"  Years ago I wrote in blue highlighter on the side of this verse, let me not chase after my emotions.

So then I thought, "I have been deceived.  I have allowed myself to be led away by my desires and emotions instead of staying focused on my God.  Disney is not to blame, I am.  I must stay focused on the Lord above all else.  I may not be escaping the work of life right now.  This is the time to work hard for my future is at stake."  Once again God led me to another verse, the very words of Jesus in John 5:17 "My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too, am working." 

Then I turned back to Jeremiah, this time verse 29:11-13, "'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.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  I will be found by you.' "

Can any pursuit of happiness hear you calling it?  Can it answer you and grant you a future?  No.  Only God can.  Are you being led by your feelings and the deceit of happiness? Constantly looking for it and forgetting what brings true joy?  The Lord has a plan for your life.  He wants to use you for great things.  When you accepted Christ, you were born again.  Born for greatness not an empty pursuit of happiness.  You were given an eternal joy that cannot be broken.  Break away from the deceit of "happiness" in this world and cling to God.  We all must guard ourselves against this way of thinking.  Then you will find everlasting joy, a happiness that cannot be lost.  Let God bring His light into your dark places to heal you from the heaviness that weighs you down.

Dear Heavenly Father, please Lord keep my mind, eyes, ears and heart guarded from the deceit of happiness and let me stay focused on you.  Let me find that the happiest place on earth isn't a vacation away from the cares of my life but on the pursuit of your kingdom, your knowledge and your wisdom.  For my sisters-in-Christ who too become easily depressed Father, give them the joy of knowing that you have a great plan for their lives.  Give them the resolve to pursue that rather than be deceived by the world's happiness.  In Jesus' name I pray.  AMEN

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Confession #62 - Older but Wiser, Maybe not...

Recently I've received some harsh criticism from some more mature Christian ladies that kinda hurt my feelings a bit.  Although I knew when I first published my blog that it wasn't for all audiences, honestly I didn't think that within the community of Christians there would be such harsh backlash.  And this backlash coming from mature ladies who's job within the kingdom it is to nurture and help mold the younger, was, quite frankly, shocking to me.

I took my sorrow to the King and here's what He so graciously showed me.  They may be older, but perhaps not wiser.  God brought me to Job chapters 32-37. If you need a refresher, basically, Job was given by God over to Satan to test his faith.  God allowed Job to walk through the loss of his children, his fortune and his health.  His wife told him to curse God and die. (Job 2:9)  Just before these chapters we read the words spoken by Job's friends, supposedly older and wiser men who basically ripped Job to shreds.  They criticized him and made him feel worse for his troubles.  Then in chapter 32 begins the speech of Elihu a younger man, who admits that he waited for the rest to speak.  He gave them all the courtesy of giving their opinions and advice to their suffering friend, but then he lets loose disagreeing with Job's older friends and criticizing Job for calling himself righteous compared to God himself.

Some biblical commentaries I read on these chapters categorize Elihu with the rest of Jobs terrible friends, but He is not mentioned in the end of the chapter as receiving the same punishment from God for their horrible words to Job.  Elihu was not asked to offer the same sacrifice of atonement these other men were.  And when God finally speaks to Job he seems to confirm most of what Elihu just said.  The older friends didn't have the best advice for Job, regardless of their experience in life and their "knowledge" of God.

I believe that wisdom is God inspired knowledge.  You know that feeling you get in your gut that tells you something is right or wrong.  That inspiration you feel when you read a passage of scripture that seems to speak to your very situation.  How God seems to give you the exact interpretation you need.  That loving friend that comes and shares something biblical with you that changes your whole perspective.  A word you hear from an everyday circumstance that instantly educates you in what you'd been asking of the Lord all along.  The take-away that seemingly only you got from the sermon on Sunday.  That's God speaking to us, He uses it all and I believe that's wisdom.  You can be as experienced and as learned as they come, but without real wisdom, be as clueless as Clouseau.  

Coming to realize that you can't please everyone is defiantly a difficult lesson to learn, and truthfully all I really care about is pleasing God.  I am not as learned as some of my fellow Christian writers, but I don't remember too many of the biblical heroes being as educated either.  I do know the bible.  I may not know it to the depths that some others have been fortunate enough to study, but God has inspired me through the Holy Spirit to write what I do and therefore, I obey.  If women are blessed then it doesn't matter what others may say, think or write about it, all that matters is that I listened to God.  Perhaps because I did, others will be blessed and inspired.

Ladies, don't be too put off with what others may say or think of you.  If you know you're doing it for the right reasons and that God told you to do it, then rest assured you are wise in your choices.  And sometimes because of that, you may be criticized.  Stay strong in the faith my friends, God is with you!

Dear Heavenly Father, Lord thank you that you are my great encourager.  Thank you for inspiring me to follow your lead to minister to women.  I pray that more hearts are reached everyday through my writings and this blog.  I pray that the direction I lead them is into your arms Dear Lord.  Please continue to instill your wisdom within me and for my sisters-in-Christ who wish to do your will as well.  Bless us Father as we gratefully serve you our King.  In Jesus' name I pray.  AMEN.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Confession # 61 - Now that IS easy!

"If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends. ...So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love."
1 Corinthians 13:1-13

Don't you wish life were more like the Staples button?  That was easy...Yes I wish life were easy, but the only button that works that way for me is the one that only certain people can activate.  An easy button that that launches a self-destruct sequence in my behavior.

Today while at lunch, my closest friend pointed out that there seems to be a hold some people have over me and how, like pressing the Staples button it's soooo easy to set me off course.  

Unfortunately, she's right.  There are certain people that can press my easy button.  She also mentioned that most others don't have the same effect on me, they don't have access to the easy button.  

Why???  Why do I give these people permission to press my easy button?  Why do I allow the things they say and do to effect me so deeply, where others I can simply shake off?

The answer is one word, history.  The history I have with these people seems to be a remote control for my easy button.  The past wrongs, hurts and disagreements are lurking there inside my  heart and whenever I am faced with a small reminder of these issues, the button is pressed and the self-destruct sequence is launched.

Well I can't change history.  I don't have an easy button for that now do I?  I can't go back and erase those memories, or re-write the story.  
But I can rewire that button with scripture so that when it's pressed it launches something new; it launches 1 Corinthians 13, Love.  

"Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
By allowing God to work love and forgiveness in my heart those hurts are healed.  Love is the only thing that protects my button from the insurgents.  1 John 4:18 says, "There is no fear in love.  But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.  The one who fears is not made perfect in love."

John is right.  I'm afraid these people don't love me.  I'm afraid they will reject me.  I'm afraid they will hurt me again and again.  And that's probably true.  They will hurt me again and again.  I have been rejected, I have felt unloved.  There's no easy button for this but John tells us, "You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.  They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them.  We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us.  This is how to recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.  Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.  Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.  Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love." I John 4:4-8

If I'm not continually showing the love of Christ to all people, even the people in my history, than I do not know God.  And although it doesn't seem easy, the Bible tells us it isn't a heavy load.  "This is love for God: to obey his commands.  And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world."  1 John 5:4-4.  I realize that it's going to take prayer, patience, peace and continued reliance on my God to get me there.  But now it's time rewire that easy button and make it useful for the Kingdom of God instead of allowing it to be Satan's stronghold over me.  

These people need love for without it our relationship is nothing, my witness is nothing, my life is nothing. "Love never ends. ...So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love." 1 Corinthians 13:13.   Love is greater than my faith, it's greater than my hope and it is the only thing that can keep me from being a slave to my past.  

You may have people like this in your life.  Friends, relatives, exes.  Ladies, history no longer has to define you because when we allow God's love in, our past can simply refine us instead.  Like I said it won't be easy but nothing is impossible with God, and for Him, it IS easy!  "This is how we know that we love the children of God; by loving God and carrying out his commands." 1 John 5:2

Dear Heavenly Father, oh Lord, I need your love to cover the history that I've allowed to define me and my relationships with certain people.  Teach me to rewire my easy button to launch your love instead of my destructive behaviors.  Father for my sisters-in-Christ who have experienced the same issues please Lord do the same.  In Jesus' name I pray.  AMEN