Thursday, 25 July 2013

Loving Ourselves

Have you ever noticed how praise and encouragement can change a person's behaviour more effectively than criticism?

How a child's face lights up when praise is given while she unfolds and blooms like a flower?

As opposed to criticisms which cause the child's countenance and demeanour to wilt like a flower in dire need of water?

Yet some of us struggle to apply this same principle to ourselves.

Instead of giving ourselves a pat on the shoulder for the things we do right, we beat ourselves up for the things we do wrong or which we fail to do perfectly.

I've discovered that there is a huge difference between humility and self-deprecation.

Humility is a virtue which adopts an attitude of lowliness; of meekness and submission in preference of someone's opinion or authority over our own.

Self-deprecation takes that attitude to a lower level and turns it derogatorily to the undervaluing and belittling of oneself. Problems arise when self-criticism leads to self-rejection and self-hatred.

Running ourselves down gives no glory to the One who created us with such intricate love, pride and joy.

When we think negatively of ourselves or treat ourselves unkindly, we dishonour God who has made us in His image.

We are saying to Him that He has made a mistake in creating us the way we are (with our different personalities and characters), or the way we look (our appearances).

It is God's intention that we 'nourish' and 'cherish' ourselves in the same manner that He nourishes and cherishes the church (Ephesians 5:29).

His second commandment says that we are to love our neighbours as ourselves (Matthew 22:39).

It is only when we are able to love ourselves in a healthy way (not the self-centred, arrogant kind of way) that we are able to love others in the way that Jesus asks us to.

We can only give out of what we have.

When I am critical of myself, I will also tend to be critical of others.

When I show grace to myself, I will also be more gracious towards others.

When I am able to love myself, I will have more love for other people.

It is time to stop beating up God's child.

And time to receive the healing love of our Heavenly Father.

To allow our head knowledge of His love for mankind to become a heart experience of His love for us individually and personally.

To let Him remove the sting from the negative experiences of the past, bind up our wounds, heal our broken hearts, and mend our broken dreams.

He really does love very, very much.....

He has a wonderful future all planned out for us; a purpose for us to fulfil that is beyond our imagination.

And because He loves us so much, we can love ourselves, too!

"For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." ~ Romans 8:38 ~

"... Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with loving-kindness I have drawn you." ~ Jeremiah 31:3 ~

"For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church." ~ Ephesians 5:29 ~

Thursday, 11 July 2013

It's A New Day!

Our past can be filled with so many disappointments, hurts, and regrets that each time we go down memory lane, we come out more miserable than happy; more downcast than encouraged.

And we can be so stuck in those memories of pain that we find it difficult to move forward.

On my journey to wholeness, I have found it essential to be honest with myself and with God, to grieve my losses, to make peace with my past, and to let go.

To forgive and to be forgiven. And to make reconciliations where reconciliations are possible.

To declare that each day is a new day to begin afresh in God.

A clean slate to write on where yesterday's mistakes don't count.

A brand new day to cut off the old and embrace the new.

To identify the lies that have kept me in bondage and held me captive.

To stop thinking and behaving in the old ways that have gotten me stuck in the wilderness for far too long.

To learn new ways of thinking and behaving that will enable me to step out of that self-prolonged wilderness and into a new peace; a new joy; a new ability to love myself and others.

To stop beating up this beautiful creation whom God loves without reserve  - sometimes the hardest thing to do is to forgive ourselves.

To refuse to live with regrets and to let go of things that threaten to take away this new peace and joy that I've found in Him.

To remember the happy memories and purposefully push aside the sad ones.

To receive God's love and grace for today and to depend on His strength when mine is not enough.

To trust Him for a better tomorrow if today doesn't go as planned.

To live in the moment and cherish the blessings of each day.

Trusting that God will restore all that we had lost and bless our latter days more than our beginning.

So let's take courage and arise, for today is a new day!

"So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten...."
~ Joel 2:25 ~

"Instead of your shame you shall have double honour. And instead of confusion they shall rejoice in their portion. Therefore in their land they shall possess double; Everlasting joy shall be theirs."
~ Isaiah 61:7 ~

"Now the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning...."
~ Job 42:12 ~

"The end of a thing is better than its beginning...."
~ Ecclesiastes 7:8 ~

Monday, 1 July 2013

When You Are Ready

I used to be able to speak in front of a group of people.

In fact, I've shared in a couple of small churches before as well as in front of the students in the university campus in my hometown where I used to teach.

But after the burnout/breakdown which the mental health professionals simply refer to as anxiety and/or depression, I discovered that even the simplest task could pose to be a challenge, let alone speaking in front of people. I remember writing about my frustrations and disappointment with myself for not being able to do what I used to be capable of.

While looking through my journal the other day, I found this entry dated a year ago. It was written in the form of a blog but I didn't have a blog site then to publish it:

[Life in the 21st century has become like a frantic rat race. I wonder if God is ever in a hurry. Somehow, I can't picture Him rushing from one thing to another, getting all frazzled and flustered in the process like some of us do.

I read somewhere once that God lives in eternity; a place which is not bound by time.

We are the impatient ones; not God.

In life, we make mistakes and we take a fall from time to time. Sometimes, the fall is a particularly bad one and we need to take time to recover. Time to heal on the inside. Time to recover from exhaustion. Time to take baby steps before learning to run again.

Trying to rush the healing process can be counter-productive. It's like slitting a cocoon to help the butterfly emerge faster. Sadly, the butterfly is not ready and will die before its time.

I used to be able to speak in front of a group of people. When will I be able to do that again? I wonder.

When you are ready...... comes a whisper.

But what if I can never find the boldness to do that again? Because right now, I don't think that's ever going to happen.

You will.......

Immediately, Phil 4:13 comes to mind: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

But I don't feel strong at all. I feel the complete opposite. So very weak in every aspect.....

That's the best place to be..... for my power will be made manifest in your weakness.....

It is not by my own effort. Nor by my own strength. But by His Spirit to bring forth the breakthrough. “... Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,” says the Lord of hosts.” (Zechariah 4:6)

It is not my ability, but rather my availability. I only need to take the step that I am confident enough to take. God will supply the strength and courage that I need to take the next step.

One step at a day at a time.

When you are ready......

Eventually, I'll get there.]

And guess what?? 

Last week, I did get there! I actually shared in front of a group of people! It was the first time in years! Okay, so there were only ten of us present that night which wasn't exactly a a sizeable number. Nevertheless, it was still a breakthrough for me!

The best thing was that I wasn't stressing about it. Mainly because my husband was scheduled to share and I thought this was as good a time as any to see if I could do it; he was prepared to take over if my nerves failed me. It felt so good to be able to do it and I was stoked!

Also, my conviction that God is good and that He's not responsible for everything that happens to us had given me the courage to share this very topic.

The coolest thing that I've discovered about God is that He is never in a hurry. He has never rushed me into doing what I don't feel capable of. I've experienced such graciousness and gentleness from God that I've never known before.

What seems like a waste of time is time necessary for Him to do a deeper work of healing in me before the release of grace and boldness comes to take the next step.

Through it all, He faithfully showers me with His love and acceptance while affirming and encouraging me with loving reminders of His faith in me.

When I think I am ready, He helps me take the next step.

And if I fall flat on my face, He helps me get up and gently reminds me this:

Success is not measured by how well you've done a job. When you have given something a go, that, too, is a measure of success.

Failure is not the opposite of success. You only fail when you refuse to try. 

So don't be afraid to try. I'm there to catch you if you fall.

Take my hand and take the next step. I will help you get to where you're supposed to be........

Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord.” ~ Psalm 27:14