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Feelings

When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him, and he was deeply troubled. Then Jesus wept.” John 11:33 & 35 NLT

Jesus felt all His feelings here. But THEN He directed His anger at death. He used His authority to call Lazarus from the grave.

Point to ponder while you wander…It’s okay to feel your feelings, but don’t take your feelings out on people. Don’t let them paralyze you. Let them fuel you! You are powerful, child of God! Greater is He that is in you than he who is in the world.

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Facts vs Truth

Sometimes your situation just sucks.  You look at the facts and you’re like, yep, it’s over for me now.  This is the battle I’m not strong enough to win, and you start looking for the surrender flag.  Well, before you start waving that little white flag think about King David.  II Samuel 15 tells the story of Absalom betraying and rebelling against his father, King David.  Rather than fighting, King David chooses to flee Jerusalem with his close followers, hoping to spare the city.  I’m guessing he didn’t really want to fight against his son either.  As David flees, he writes Psalm 3 to capture exactly how he’s feeling.

What I appreciate about this Psalm is David is vulnerable with the Lord, sharing his raw emotion about being betrayed, being the subject of ridicule, and feeling like everyone and everything was against him.  He feels all his feelings, as my roommate would say.  But David doesn’t allow himself to be trapped in his “feelings.”  He acknowledges the facts of the situation, but then reminds himself that God is bigger than his circumstances.  He declares the truth over the facts.  Facts are facts.  But truth….ah truth.  Truth is bigger than facts.

Here’s what I mean:

The facts say:  My son has betrayed me.  Many of my own people have sided with him against me.  The rest of the kingdom are talking about me.  Telling each other that God’s against me.  I’ve had to go on the run, AGAIN.  First from Saul and now from my own son!

David could have looked at the reality of the facts and given up.  He could have admitted defeat.  He could have sat under his little cloud of depression and let the lamentation pour out of him.  “Poor me.  Nothing ever goes right for me.  I’ve done what I was supposed to do, I don’t deserve this.  My life is over.  It will  never be good again.  I might as well give up.”  But he didn’t!

Psalm 3:1-2 is David acknowledging the facts of his situation and feeling his feelings.

O Lord, I have so many enemies;
so many are against me.
So many are saying,
“God will never rescue him!”

Psalm 3:3-6 is where David shifts to declaring what He knows to be true.  He reminds himself who God is and who he is to God.

But you, O Lord, are a shield around me;
you are my glory, the one who holds my head high.
I cried out to the Lord,
and he answered me from his holy mountain.

I lay down and slept,
yet I woke up in safety,
for the Lord was watching over me.
I am not afraid of ten thousand enemies
who surround me on every side.

Psalm 3:7-8 is David asking the Lord to change the facts based upon the truth.

Arise, O Lord!
 Rescue me, my God!
Slap all my enemies in the face!
 Shatter the teeth of the wicked!
Victory comes from you, O Lord.
May you bless your people.

David’s situation was real!  He was in a life or death situation here.  There was a real army invading his city, led by his own son.  I’m not making light of the seriousness of this situation.  I wouldn’t make light of anyone’s situation.  I get that facts and reality are real.  I’m not trying to sugar coat and say that bad things never happen.  We live in a world that has evil in it.  Good stuff and bad stuff happens to EVERYONE.  Tragedy and difficult situations occur whether you are at the top of the heap or closer to the bottom.  Jesus, Himself, said, “The father gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.” (Matthew 4:45)  God only gives good gifts, because that is all he has to give.  But because of the state of this world, everyone will face issues and hard times.  It’s just the way that it is right now.

I don’t know what your facts are.  You may be facing foreclosure on your home.   You or someone you love may be fighting for your life against disease or cancer.  Or like David, you may have been betrayed.  If you’re struggling, I am sorry.  Truly.  But if you get caught up in your feelings over the facts, your battle will be harder and longer.  I’m not saying ignore your feelings, because you need to acknowledge how you feel about the situation.  What I’m saying is don’t stay there.  I’m also not telling you to dismiss reality and put your head in the sand and wait for the situation to go away.  I’m far too practical for that nonsense.  What I am saying is that facts change!  You may get a check tomorrow that catches up or pays off all your bills.  You may be healed this very day.  You never know how the goodness of God will show up in your life.  He’s the source of all creativity so it may not be in the way you expect.  Something could happen in 5 minutes that completely changes everything.

Take David’s model and apply it to your situation.  Here’s an example for someone who is unemployed and facing foreclosure of their home:

Facts and feelings:

Lord, I am terrified.  I don’t have a job and I am six months behind on my mortgage and only a few days away from my house being foreclosed on.  Not only will my credit be destroyed by this, but I could lose my home.  I don’t want to be homeless, especially in the winter.  I don’t know what to do!!!

Shift to the truth:

I know I am Your child, Father, and that You love me!  I know that You are my provider.  You have blessed me with well paying jobs in the past.  You have provided for me during my unemployment.  I’ve always had food and money to pay my gas and electric bills.  Thank you for being my provision.  You are good.  You are faithful.  You are Yahweh Yireh!  The God who provides.  The last time I was unemployed you provided me a place to live and provision.  I know that you will continue to provide in this time of unemployment.

Prayer and Declaration:

Arise O Lord and Rescue me, my God!  I cannot do this without you, I need a miracle.  I believe you will provide!  I will receive your provision no matter which way it comes to me.  I thank you for the provision you’ve given me in the past and I thank you for what you are doing now on my behalf.  I declare that my house is paid off in the Name of Yahweh Yireh.  Even though I fear poverty and homelessness, I know your love is bigger than my fear.  I know that your goodness and mercy are bigger than my situation and mistakes.  Thank you for blessing me Father!

The facts in your life may be dire, but those facts are subject to change.  Your identity, who you are in Christ Jesus, does not change because of your circumstances and situations.  Truth is that you are a beloved child of God.  Truth is that greater is He that is within you, than he that is in the world.  Truth is that you are valued by God.  Your worth and value to Him does not change because of the mistakes you made or your circumstances, even if they are bigger than you can handle.  Truth is that God is bigger than any circumstance or situation, and He loves you passionately and unconditionally.

True Wisdom

“But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peaceable, gentle at all times. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere.” James 3:17

This is exactly the opposite of what we want to hear when we are afraid, angry or our emotions are running high. Truth is that our feelings aren’t good or bad, they are just feelings. But letting our feelings run the show often leads to rash behavior and bad decisions, usually followed by guilt and regret. SO not worth it!

David is a great example of how to deal with our emotions. In Psalms it’s very clear David was an emotional man. But he took those out of control feelings and vented them to God. Then sought the Lord’s wisdom to handle the situation.

The times David didn’t do this were the times he made the worst decisions. But when the guilt & regret came, he realized His error and took those feelings to God. He didn’t stay trapped in condemnation.

God is always willing to give wisdom when we need it. He won’t think less of you for asking for help. He will simply give you the wisdom you need.

“If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and He will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.” James 1:5

Seek out God’s wisdom the way David did in Psalms. Vent to Him & move on so you too can live with no regrets. #wisdom

Forgiveness is a Choice

I don’t know what I dreamt about but I woke up feeling deep. Deep as in I want to analyze everything deep. Then I heard a song this morning on my drive to work about the freedom found in forgiveness and dealing with things instead of blaming someone else. And my mind headed straight for Matthew.

Matthew was my first love and long-term relationship. I dated people before and after him that I cared about, but no one has remained in my heart the way he has. I think that when you really truly love someone a piece of you will always care what happens to them. I freely admit that the love is still there.

Our break up was THE hardest one of my life. (Truthfully, it was harder and hurt far more than when I ended an engagement at 26 years old). But it needed to happen. It needed to happen because we were growing and changing in separate directions. It needed to happen because we had the same 3 fights on repeat. It needed to happen because we were trapped in between genuine love and completely different priorities. It needed to happen because we were wounding each other deeper every day.

When we did break up I blamed him for the majority of it. If he would do this and not do that then we wouldn’t have fought so much. If he’d just do this instead of that! Why doesn’t he do this instead of that? You see where I’m going with this. He readily took the blame I handed him, so I thought I was totally justified.

When I started dealing with my own issues and insecurities a few years later, I saw our break up in a totally different light. I realized that I was basically expecting a kid, (we dated from 18 to almost 21) who didn’t even really know who he was or what he wanted out of life, to fill every need in my life. Including the needs only God can fill. Can you say UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS?

The guilt of what a horrible person I was to him plagued me for months and months and months. I realized how demanding I was. I realized that I never appreciated the good things he DID do. I didn’t appreciate how far he would drive to come see me or when he did choose to do nice things for me. I swung from the blaming him for everything to blaming myself for everything. I forgave him, but at the cost of condemning myself completely. Can you say JERK? Or better yet, can you say MARTYR?

The true cause fell somewhere in the middle. There were some things that I legitimately needed to take responsibility for, as they were clearly my issues. But there were some things that he needed to do to and take responsibility for. We were both at fault and we were both hurt. And in the end it didn’t really matter what we did or didn’t do, what mattered was that we were both deeply hurt.

What about you? Are you holding a grudge against someone for things long past? Are you still blaming everything wrong in your life on someone else? Do you realize that not forgiving them is actually hurting you, not them? You’re actually holding your own self hostage!

Or are you at the other end of the spectrum holding yourself hostage with guilt, shame or blame? Do you need to forgive yourself?

Either way, choose today to let it go. Go to God and tell Him you don’t want to carry whatever it is you’re carrying anymore. You can be free of guilt, shame, regret, unforgiveness, and condemnation. When those feelings rise up and you feel yourself sliding into that bitter pit, take it back to the Lord and forgive yourself/the other person again. Do it every day if you have to. Do it until unforgiveness no longer plagues you.

The freedom is worth the work to get there. Freedom is better than bitterness any day. Trust me.

Forgiveness Facts
*God requires forgiveness. “Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” Colossians 3:13. See also Matthew 6:15 and Luke 6:37.

*God has forgiven you, so you should forgive yourself. “For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:11-12

*When you forgive yourself and others, you need really to let it go. Don’t meditate on it. Don’t rehearse it over and over in your mind. Don’t even remember it. God doesn’t. “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” Hebrews 8:12. It’s repeated again in Hebrews 10:17.

*You don’t have to reconcile or have a relationship with someone to forgive them. Stephen forgave the men as they were literally stoning him. “Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” Acts 7:60

*You don’t have to tell someone you forgive them, to forgive them and move on. Whether you see them every day, you don’t talk to the person anymore, or even if they have passed away, you can forgive them just the same. This is between you and God. Jesus took it to God directly, immediately. “Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34

*Forgiving someone does not excuse their behavior, nor does it exempt them from legal prosecution in rape, abuse or other situations where the person has broken the law.

*Forgiveness releases YOU to move forward and not be plagued by what happened.

I’ll be honest; it actually took longer and was harder for me to forgive myself than it was to forgive Matthew. Years ago I was fortunate enough to able to apologize to him face to face. We had a very good conversation that day about many different things. It was the most freeing conversation I think I’ve ever had. I let go of the guilt I was carrying for my part completely for the first time.

Forgiveness is truly a beautiful thing.