Open wounds: When the Hurt meets the Healer (Part 2)

Two hands touchingContinued from “Open Wounds: When the Hurt meets the Healer (Part 1)”

Let’s review and expand on my Takeaways from my husband’s hand injury:

  1. Men – listen to your wives! I try not to be the “I told you so” wife, but for some reason, when it comes to the care of my family, my gut has never steered us wrong.
  2. Every part is needful. One injured digit can hinder your entire life.
  3. Fake news isn’t good news; so don’t be afraid of the truth.
  4. Serious wounds should not be left covered.

I will resist the temptation to expound on Takeaway #1. (wink-wink!)

Takeaway #2: Every part is needful – one injured digit can hinder your entire life.

My husband has told me often since this accident how much of a hassle it is that he can’t fully use his dominant hand and how challenging it is to execute the most mundane tasks, like writing and shaving. My poor husband. He has seriously struggled to keep a level of normalcy in his life all the while being in pain, enduring swelling and pressure within the bandage, and having trouble sleeping and executing his everyday tasks. I have become a lot more conscious of what he cannot do in order to help him. I’m oftentimes in my own little world, so I’ve really had to concentrate on being aware of what he’s doing so I can step in to assist when he needs me.  Every part of his life has been affected by this temporary handicap which has really driven home the message that every part of the body is needful and that we take it all for granted until we can’t.

The same is true in the body of Christ, and I would even expand to say, any community that requires people to interact in an interdependent way. Let me ask us all this: Are we noticing the wounded? Are we on the lookout for those in our community who are missing, silent or seem to have slunk back into the shadows? And if we’re the one who’s wounded, are we seeking healing in a purposeful way? It’s so easy to remain wounded and, as a result, remove ourselves from being an integral part of our community. But the Lord is the Great Physician and He came to bring healing for our woundedness. He sets the lonely into families because the community needs us and we need them.

Psalm 68:5-6a (NLT) – Father to the fatherless, defender of widows–this is God, whose dwelling is holy. God places the lonely in families; he sets the prisoners free and gives them joy.

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Open wounds: When the Hurt meets the Healer (Part 1)

“Cecily, we have to go to the hospital right NOW!”

My husband, John, was standing in the doorway between the mudroom and the garage clutching his hand in a towel. He was still wearing his snow blowing gear and furry hat.

It took me a few seconds to process what was happening. I had been upstairs, still in my pajamas with crazy morning hair, when I heard him shouting my name from downstairs. The tone of his voice was unlike anything I had ever heard so I came running. That’s when I saw him in the doorway.

“I cut my finger off. We have to go NOW.”

Oh my gosh, oh my gosh. This isn’t happening. I ran upstairs to change into clothing and then oddly stood there paralyzed. What should I wear? Really? Can I really not find clothing – ANYTHING – to put on? I grabbed jeans out of the closet, a sweat shirt and a baseball hat to cover my bedhead.

Earlier that morning, John had gone out to snow blow our driveway and also the bottom of our neighbors’ driveways when the accident happened. I had taken the day off as a vacation day because we were scheduled to leave for a trip to New York City with my parents once the roads were clear enough to drive on. This is why I was still sitting in my pajamas in no hurry to get ready. But now I was in a hurry that made my thoughts blur.

When I finally got downstairs, John was already sitting in the car. I could hear moans that made my knees buckle.  Oh my God, oh my God. I can’t believe this is happening.

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Yikes! It’s time to make a change: How to find the strength you need

Feet overlooking waterHave you ever known that there is a change that you need to make in your life but you have absolutely NO desire to execute that change? Have you ever wrestled with the impossibility that you will be able to follow through or be successful in making the change you know is needed? Maybe you know that you need to start an exercise regime, but you’re completely overwhelmed by the prospect of all that is involved with getting to the gym, going out for a run or walk on a regular basis or of sticking out the commitment to be physically fit.  Or maybe there is a habit that you know-that-you-know you need to quit but the thought of living without “…” is daunting and totally unappealing.  You hate the habit but you NEED the thing you’re attached to, and it makes you almost panicky to think of life without it. Or maybe you want to add healthy choices into your life like better ways of eating, being a more connected friend or serving in your community, but the thoughts of what the cost will be and everything in your life that will have to adjust in order to make room for this new lifestyle is keeping your feet in the blocks.

If any of these life challenge screen shots describes you, I GET IT!! I have been there in each and every one of those tight squeeze places where who I am and who I know I am supposed to be are as far apart as the edges of the Grand Canyon.  But I have a word of encouragement for each of us.  The good news is that God knows that we cannot traverse that chasm in our own strength.  He sets the vision for the next place that He wants to take us and He is fully prepared to get us there.  The problem is that since we’re locked in these things called “Time” and “Space”, we get freaked out when the change doesn’t happen overnight.  We would prefer that the moment the revelation hits that we should start to exercise, cut out sugar, stop cussing, turn our gossiping and critical mouth into a thankful and praising mouth, or start being faithful in reading the Bible and prayer, that the desire and the ability to execute would also be there.

But it doesn’t work that way. Unfortunately, I have found that the Preview of Coming Attractions comes way before either the desire or the ability.  And even once the desire comes, it can be quite a while before the strategy or the ability come as well.  And that can cause a lot of frustration (What is wrong with me? Why do I still fall short in this area? Why can’t I quit “…”? Why can’t I start “…”? and so on).  But from this frustration is born the moment of choice that God needs from us. He will never shove His will down our throats.  He simply pulls back the curtain and lets us see the better way but at the end of the day, it will always be our choice whether we want to go down the path that will bring life and freedom or remain in the place where we are.

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What About Woundedness: How to Find Healing For Our Soul

Life wounds every one of us.Broken heart

Disappointments, betrayal, our own mistakes, and the selfishness of others can leave deep and lasting wounds. Oftentimes, we think we have moved on from the situation that caused the wound and feel that time has healed it. It’s just water under the bridge. But underneath the scar tissue of the memories lies a festering sore that has not healed as we thought. We are not even conscious of the wound’s existence or its effect on our lives. But if we are honest, we can see how in certain areas of our lives we are being held back from our highest and best. Something seems to always hold us back that little bit. We’re not experiencing complete joy. We’re not experiencing our complete potential and prosperity. We continue to fall back into old habits and negative mindsets. We continue to repeat the same cycles and mistakes.

So what causes these limitations and repeated ‘trips around the mountain’? I believe many times the issue is woundedness. Like an infection seeping into our system and causing widespread and varied symptoms throughout the body, the infection of woundedness keeps us from the complete freedom that Jesus purchased for us. The enemy has a goal and a plan: If he cannot take our eternal identity, then he would like nothing more than to see us lead an impotent life bound in misery until we die.

But God’s plan is the opposite. Jesus said “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10 ESV) That abundant life includes healing for our woundedness. I don’t know about you, but I realize where I am wounded by how I react when life presses on a certain spot. Just like a bruise that doesn’t hurt until I touch it, certain wounds seem to be gone until life presses on them. And then all of a sudden, I am keenly aware that I am not as healed as I thought! I know I’m wounded when I find my faith in certain areas becomes hard to walk out because of past failures and disappointments. Or when I find that my love walk is hard to maintain because of past betrayals. Or when my identity in Christ becomes hard to hang on to because of my awareness of my own personal failures and areas of unworthiness.

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Chain Breaker: Keys to breaking free from depression and anxiety (Part 2)

Broken chains(This is Part 2 of the message, Chain Breaker: Keys to overcoming depression and anxiety. See the last post for Part 1)

  1. God’s presence is our refuge. Psalm 62: 8 and 9 says, “Patiently wait for God alone, my soul! For He is the one who gives me confidence. He alone is my protector (my high rocky summit) and deliverer. He is my refuge; I will not be upended. God delivers me and exalts me; God is my strong protector and my shelter. Trust in him at all times, you people! Pour out your hearts before Him! God is our shelter!

Years ago, when I first started pondering on this and other scriptures that talk about God being my refuge and my shelter, I would imagine myself as a tiny bird tucked away in the cleft of a huge mountain face with the wind whipping all around me.  But in my safe little spot, tucked away in secure rock, I could wait out the storm, enfolded by the mountain.  You are the most secure when you run to the Rock and hide in the security that is God’s presence.

So how do we do that? The Scripture says, “Pour out your heart in his presence.”  Look, we’re like glass to the Lord.  He sees right through us, so trying to act as though we’re all full of faith when we’re not feeling it is only going to heap shame on top of the negative emotions we’re already dealing with.

But, on the other hand, if we stay away from the Lord because our thoughts are such a mess, then we’re staying away from the only one who can right the ship.  When we’re capsized in our thinking, we under water.  We can’t get on top of it, or we would have by now.  But in the presence of the Lord, we can cry it out, let it out, get mad and even question what’s going on.  He’s not threatened by or upset by what we’re thinking because he knows what we’re made of.  And He knows He can bring alignment.

In His presence, every chain is broken. Exodus 33:14 says, “My Presence will go with you and I will give you rest.” The chains may not feel broken in the instant, and it may take a little while before you see what He has done, but faint not.  Keep coming.  Keep soaking in his presence.  Cultivate that place of refuge and shelter and you will see Him pull the chains off of your mind.

Because he is the Chain-breaker, you are free. You are no longer captive. You will see his victory over the lies of the enemy. You will hear him speak to you personally. And that leads me to my last Key which is that God’s voice is our necessity.

  1. God’s Voice is our Necessity: When I started journaling years ago as a young Christian, all of my journal entries were one-way conversations with the Lord. I poured out my concerns and prayer requests and that was pretty much it. Sometimes, I would find a Scripture that would encourage me and I would write it down. But over the last decade, I have received great teaching on hearing the voice of the Lord specifically for myself and it has revolutionized my relationship with Jesus and is shattering the bondages of depression and anxiety in my life.

So to rehearse my first two keys: we said that God’s Word is our lifeline and God’s presence is our refuge.  So with this third key, we wait upon the Lord and expect Him to speak to our soul about our soul because God’s Voice is our necessity.  It is our urgent need.  Jesus opened the way to the Father so that His children could freely approach Him in whatever condition they are in and hear His voice of loving alignment, direction, and tender affirmation. But unfortunately, many of us aren’t accessing what has been opened to us so we stay bound in shackles that the Lord wants us to walk out of.

I have a habit when things are absolutely ‘Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs’, of asking the Lord what He has to say about the situation that I’m desperate about.  Below is part of a journal entry from one of those times. Feel free to read this as though the Lord is speaking to you. You can take my Word and apply it to whatever you’re going through:

“You are coming out. You are in the middle; this is not the end. The enemy is a liar who spews forth venom and accusations against you, against Me and against others. Love draws together, believes the best and speaks life. My love is in you but lies have thrown dirt over it.  I wash you and cleanse you.

I have compassion on your weakness and I am on your side. I fight for you and appreciate your heart turned toward Me. Keep crying out. Breakthrough is coming.

Release disappointments to Me. Arrest negative images and keep declaring My Word to create an atmosphere of faith.  Faith is not a feeling.  Faith is action. So when you choose to repent and resist and declare my Word even when your emotions contradict it, you are in faith.  Your actions speak a better word than your emotions.

You are not as your appear to yourself or even to others. Do not be afraid. My love is holding you. You will NOT be lost or rejected. I have given you a heart to seek Me and find Me which is why you are experiencing such great opposition.

You are increasing in strength. While the enemy has told you that you’re losing your mind, I say, No. He is a liar. I say, You are Mine. I have purchased you and you are holy unto the Lord. I have given you to my Son and we are one. Rest in faith that I delight in you. I see you and I know you. I created each facet of who you are. I am not surprised or appalled or angered by what I see in you. I have conquered all that would try to overcome you. You win. My life in you has overcome sin and death. Smile and laugh because you are my daughter and I am yearning for you and delighting in you.  I am not disconnected from you.  You are in my sight every minute.

I see you dancing, singing, light and free in My presence. No more sadness or heaviness.  Give thanks for your season of joy – great and lasting joy – has come.”

There is a lot in that word. It’s probably hard to catch it all, but I hope you heard a few key things:

  1. The Lord loves us and he does not see us the way we see ourselves
  2. When the Father corrects us, he gives a vision for where we are going rather than beat us up over where we’ve been
  3. He is working in us and fighting for us.  We may feel weak and under it at times, but in His presence we break out of our chains.

Because He is your Chain Breaker, you are free – you are no longer a captive.

In closing, I want to exalt the work of Jesus in order to set us on the right course.  What Jesus did for us in his life and on the cross is what makes Him our chain-breaker.  Simply telling you that Jesus is our chain breaker without supporting it with Truth doesn’t give you the power your faith needs to set you free.

When Jesus hung on the cross, he uttered three words that are the most powerful words that have ever been uttered on this planet.  Jesus cried out with his last breath, “It is Finished!”

Before Jesus even got to the cross, he took the beating of 40 lashes with whips that tore his flesh off and exposed his internal organs.  That beating paid for our complete physical and emotional healing. And on the cross, the justice that satisfied our guilt was completely fulfilled. Jesus didn’t just take on our sin – the Spotless One became our sin. So when he uttered those three words, “It is finished,” our TOTAL salvation, which is our healing AND redemption was paid for and won.

Now we can all expect to be healed from everything that is not of God. I wish I could answer why some people are healed right away and others aren’t. But I can tell you that God is the God of the In-Between. There is often a season of waiting in between the promise and the manifestation. And it’s in the waiting that we learn to grow in faith, to practice our faith and to lean into the Lord when it looks as though nothing is happening.

So while we are waiting for the complete manifestation of our healing, we are going to experience freedom by remembering that God’s Word is our lifeline, God’s presence is our refuge and God’s voice is our necessity. Because He is our Chain Breaker, we are Free – we are no longer captives. We are free now!

Now you:

  • Do you know how to access the Presence of the Lord?
  • Have you made a habit of asking the Lord to speak to you about things that concern you?
  • Do you write down what you hear in your heart? Do you have anyone who is scripturally grounded who can help you screen those words?

The Word says that the Lord is enthroned upon our praises (Psalm 22:3), and we know that worship is the atmosphere of heaven (Revelation 7:11-15), so when we worship either in song or with our words, the Lord’s presence is magnified.  While He is always with us, we need to learn to increase our awareness of His presence. Worship, praise and thanksgiving focus our attention on Him and clear our minds of worldly clutter.

I encourage you to schedule some time with the Lord, like a date with a friend.  Turn off the phone, and focus on Who He is.  As you learn to direct your thoughts to the multiple facets of God’s greatness and love, you will begin to be aware that chains are falling away that were once impossible to get free from.

Let’s pray:

Lord Jesus, this life is so busy and confusing.  I am pulled in so many directions and feel the weight of my burdens pressing down on me.  I am caught in “time” and can’t see how any of this is going to work out for my good. But I know that You are Good and that You are my Father. You promise to protect me, to deliver me from evil and to work everything out for my good. Jesus, please sustain me with your love. Pour out Your peace upon the fires in my heart.  Quell every frightful thought and release me from the  stranglehold of the enemy.  I exalt Your victory over every bondage of the enemy and your victory in me.  In Christ, I am free! There is freedom laying all my worries at your feet.  Your peace won’t let me go! In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

Chain Breaker: Keys to breaking free from depression and anxiety (Part 1)

Broken chainsI suffer from depression and anxiety.  And ADD.  I was blessed with the trifecta of toilet bowl thinking.  It’s only been recently that I have put two and two together and allowed the cumulative history of my life to tell its story.  But now, at 51, I have more life behind me than in front of me, and I can see that I have wrestled with these debilitating brain shackles all my life.

I remember that when I was in elementary school, I would be physically sick every morning due to the anxiety of going to school.  My mother called the doctor who gave her some advice about giving me juice or something, but I vividly recall the nausea that would hit the moment I woke up and realized I had to go to school.  Anxiety affected how I made friends and how I handled day to day challenges.  For the most part, I was fairly popular, but inside I was wracked with self-doubt and fear.

I also remember periods of time where I felt really blue.  I thought everyone felt that way.  I didn’t know what depression was.

And I also struggled with ADD, which back in the 70’s and 80’s wasn’t even a recognized handicap.  All I knew is that I even though I managed to get decent grades, I studied 5 times harder for 80% of the good grades that my two best friends got with half their brains tied behind their backs.

In high-school, my depression & anxiety combo really bound me up and between those two emotional challenges and the inability to stay focused, my grades tanked.  My brain was so full of depression and self-loathing that I fell into really negative behaviors trying to escape my sadness and of course, as we all know, all that did was exacerbate the anxiety.  I was scared to live because every day I took a breath, I managed to make worse than the one before. I had many bouts of suicidal thinking – although I never attempted to take my life.  That’s the condition I was in when I met Jesus.

I was 18 years old when I became a Christian and I thought that all of my anxiety and depression would magically go away now that I was going to live a clean life. The logic was: No more sin = No more fear.  No more screw-ups = No more sadness. But it didn’t quite out work that way.

Over the years since my decision to follow Jesus, I have studied the Word like it’s my job.  I love the Bible and nothing gets me more excited than getting to know Jesus and studying the Word. And I love to worship the Lord. In that place of awe and reverence, things come into alignment. And I have been faithful in church since I was 18.  I’m not a flighty person. I’m loyal and dedicated and I love the Lord. But even with all of that going for me, it still hasn’t been enough to stop the tsunami of sadness that comes over me at times.  Or the anxiety that gives me chest pressure and heart palpitations at times.

In all fairness, my adult life has been marked by a lot of losses and some really intense crises that would make anyone sad and anxious. So I never thought that depression and anxiety were something I suffered from.

But recently, I have encountered the perfect storm.  As I said, I am 51 so I am entering that marvelous time of life when the youth factories start shutting down.  Not only can that wreak havoc with your hormones and your emotions, but being at this mid-life age causes a lot of retrospective thinking.  “Why hasn’t A, B, or C worked out yet? I thought I would be further along than this by this age.  When are my opportunities going to materialize? Did I miss God? Am I out of his will?”

And then come the crazy thoughts: “Am I even saved?”

If you don’t suffer from any form of depression, you cannot fathom how crazy toilet bowl thinking can hijack you and sideline you.  But take it from me, when you’re sliding down the slippery slope of negativity without crampons, it is way too easy to lose your grip on reality and on what the Word says.

Depression and anxiety are slave drivers.  But one thing I know: Because Jesus is my chain breaker, I am free. I am no longer a captive.  When Jesus burst up out of the grave and blew the door off his tomb, he displayed the finished work that brought us up out of captivity with Him. He put the keys of the Kingdom in our hands. Those keys carry the same authority that Jesus exerted when he walked the earth and brought freedom to every person bound by any sickness or torment. And today, I plan on taking the set of keys he gave to me and placing them in the lock of your prison door.  Because of what he is doing in me, I refuse to let you sit in depression alone. You are not alone. You are not forsaken. You are not shameful. He has not given up on you. You are precious to Him.  Jesus is attracted to brokenness and He has come to set every captive free. Because he is your chain-breaker, you are free. You are no longer a captive.

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