Thursday, August 30, 2012

Thinking Like God Does? Is That Possible?

Gripe, gripe, gripe…complain! Fault finding, blaming and blame shifting…accusation and innuendo. Mud-slinging and name calling…social turmoil, political turmoil, economic turmoil—even the weather is in turmoil! What is going on?

 My stomach knots up just writing that. Some of us carry anxiety in our stomach (and risk ulcers), others carry it in the shoulders (and deal with back pain) others bodies turn it into migraines. Power struggles, competition and crime—whatever happened to loyalty and faithfulness, of doing a good job because that is the thing to do? It seems you can’t get away from something to worry about or be fearful of. If it’s not a rocket raining down on your head it is a hurricane barreling toward you. Is it any wonder people are becoming sick and heading for their addiction of choice? We are addicted to everything from food and caffeine to alcohol to risk taking and hard drugs—anything to bring us comfort.

The Root of The Problem? We have a worldview instead of a kingdom view! The result is that we are short sighted. It is me and mine; we don’t see the big picture. The small view of things means we are pretty much ego-centric and don’t want to share our toys. “But he took my … and I want it back!” We keep our eyes at “eye level;” we have to look higher than that, get our eyes off of self, off of our brother/neighbor, etc. and fasten our eyes on our heavenly Father.

Jesus knew we do not think like God does and consequently we do not value the same things that God values. Thankfully, we can change that, if we want to. In Eph. 5:10 Paul urges us to “find out what pleases God.” So thinking like God is something we can find out—learn to do? I question God, “I can learn (find out) to think like You do? How do I do that?” What went off in my head rocked me. “READ THE RED PRINT!” Huh?

We can find out what pleases God by reading the red print in our Bibles! Let that soak in for a while. As I did, I began to understand. Jesus always said what He heard the Father say. He did what the Father did. If we want to know what God thinks is important, just read and memorize the red print. That will put God’s thoughts and values inside; we can make them our own!

The Sermon on the Mount is a good place to start. In Matthew 6 Jesus encourages His disciples to not be or do like the hypocrites (scribes and Pharisees) whose lifestyle was a very noisy, public show of piety. The scribes and Pharisees were both religious and political leaders…and Jesus called them hypocrites. They made a lot of noise (like politicians today) so people would notice them giving to the needy, praying in public places and fasting. They wanted to be noticed…and that notice was the only reward that they received. In Matthew 23:27 Jesus said they were “white-washed sepultures filled with dead men’s bones!” Their faith and their lifestyle were dead, hollow and lifeless—without power. Perhaps we could see some parallels with the same social sector today. There were a few good men involved back then and the same is true today.

Contrast that with what Jesus required of His disciples—to not draw attention to their giving, their prayer or fasting—or to how they practiced their righteousness or their politics? Acts of righteousness was to be a private thing between them and their heavenly Father. They were to have a private lifestyle of intimacy. I believe that it was understood that all the public offering of sacrifices and charitable giving was to continue, but without fanfare and in addition there was to be a private, intimate relationship with Father God.

I have heard many people say that we must “respond to negativity (regardless of the source or arena) in the opposite spirit.” I believe Matthew 6 is the Biblical basis for that sentiment—every time Jesus said, “But I say to you…” He gave us another picture of the thoughts and values of heaven.

In their trek across the Sinai Desert the Children of Israel got into trouble more than once for a lack of honor and respect as they complained against their leaders and against God. They are not the only ones for whom complaining is a lifestyle. This week our pastor encouraged us to not complain. I’ve heard it said that complaining is “the American Way!” Changing our worldview to a kingdom view will not occur overnight. We will not be able to say one fancy prayer and be able to think like God.

However, if we pick up the discipline of memorizing Jesus words, after a while it will have an effect. Our conscience will be quicker to kick in. Negativity will begin to sound like fingernails on a chalkboard. We will complain less and compliment more. We will find ourselves more grateful. There will be less worry and more praise; less stomach acid and fewer migraines!

At the beginning of the year I joined Ann VosKamp, author of 1,000 Gifts in her challenge to Memorize The Mount—this year we will memorize Matthew 5,6 and 7! Will you join us? We can encourage one another.

Blessings, Carol
Author of The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity and Highly Sensitive

Thursday, August 23, 2012

2 More Actions to take for Identity Repair

In my last post I gave you three things you can do to repair holes in your identity:

·       Start including people and thus make a “zone of belonging”

·       Take the risk of relationships

·       Wash your mind, soul and spirit with Scripture

You have taken the risk of relationship and it turned out just as badly as before—you still got a pick slip, the “friend” you thought was trustworthy betrayed you and you were still passed over, were not seen. Now you are beating up on yourself for trusting, thinking this time will be different, for being so gullible.

There is more going on here than gullibility—there are some powerful laws of God in operation. To learn how to make the laws work for you rather than against you, try taking these two actions, but be forewarned—they require time and commitment.

The Root of the problem is most often the angry, bitter responses to hurtful events and attitudes when you were growing up that become habitual. When we are hurt we tend to want to hurt back, or withdraw and cut off relationship but still smolder inside. We give ourselves a good talking to, do battle with feeling stupid and thinking we should have known better! We put up protective walls and promise ourselves we will never do that again.

When hurt happens repeatedly we learn to expect that life hurts and that you have to be cautious and careful. And then we grow up and forget about the hurtful events and the decisions and declarations we made. Old hurts seal over like an abscess, but the infection is still there. Years later a new situation arises with similar characteristics and the old hurt starts to leak and affect the new relationship, but you were tentative about relationships anyway, right? No one tells us that when we do these things that we set absolute laws that work every time in motion. Those laws of nature keep that same kind of hurt coming our way!

I don’t know why we didn’t see it before. With the laws of physics and gravity and propulsion we can send the robot Curiosity to Mars. Those same absolute laws work in relationships. What’s the difference between “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction” and “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Luke 6:38) So if we radiate caution and lack of trust the laws of nature tell us that we can expect people to respond in kind!

If you have a pattern of loosing jobs, friends turning on you or being invisible—what is the root of it? The details vary from person to person, but the reason it keeps happening is that somewhere along the way that law was tripped into action. Sometimes people on their own can track back to where it started, but this is where an inner healing counselor can be a great help! And that is the first of the two more things you can do to repair old problems and build new habits and expectations.


When there is a pattern—when the same kind of thing keeps repeating such as abuse, abandonment or betrayal, unfaithfulness—there is usually an old wound that is causing you problems. Find a counselor who is aligned with Jesus and faithful to His ways who can help you track it down. I suggest you follow the pattern to its source, but you don’t need to dig up the entire back yard of your life looking for every “root of bitterness” that might possibly be there! See Hebrews 12:15. Once you tend to the raw area, go about your life; as you bump into another wound, anger, resentment, receive healing for it. Don’t take the attitude that you must “have it all together” before you can take your place in God’s Special Forces. You can serve Him while in process. Embrace your high sensitivity, with your burden bearing capacity as a lifestyle. Engage the struggle to change where God shows you change is needed. Take the risks of relationships, develop the disciplines He assigns you, and deal with the inner healing needs as they present themselves.[1]

Once the causes of the problems are removed, you need to build new habits and expectations that will hold the truth. You do that by finding new faces!

Find New Faces
The final thing you can do to repair your identity is much harder, but worth the effort. Find some new faces to look at! Not just any face will do. What you see reflected in the new faces needs to align with the picture you see in Scripture. The face must also radiate the message, “I am happy to be with you, regardless of how you feel.” If a new face does not align with Scripture or does not appear to be happy to be with you, move on—and do not feel bad about it! The Lord’s will for you is to bloom, not wilt and fade away. You need to have your deficit of truth about yourself met, which means you need to be included—you need to belong.

You will find some faces that meet these criteria, but for a variety of reasons, may not be able to consistently meet your needs. Explore the likelihood of their ability to be consistent. Some people have a workload, family responsibilities, and the like that make it unlikely that they would be able to be consistent. They may be willing, but right now, it would be better for them not to take on another relationship. It is very important to spend time exploring such issues with an individual who “holds promise.” You do not need or want to be in a situation where you expect to be consistently included, applauded, but are not. Another alternative is to negotiate and talk about expectations and come to an agreement ahead of time. Then when something “blows up,” you can go back and look at your expectations. If there is a commitment to the relationship and to you, your friendship will survive.
God designed family to teach you who you are. If what you learned in your family was an untrue or unstable picture of yourself, allow God to create a new “group” who can teach you the truth about yourself. God wants to scoop you up and envelop you in the kind of hug that hugs your insides as well as your outside—that puts belonging in your spirit and emotions. Yes, you need to see God’s truth about you reflected in faces you can physically see, but do not stop there—look higher. Look into Jesus’ face, and into His eyes. Believe what you see there. It is the Truth!

To implement these suggestions for identity repair, I suggest the following…
  • Purchase The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity and Highly Sensitive. You can get some help by yourself and/or with a friend while you are searching for a counselor
·       For help in finding a counselor familiar with inner healing—go to my website: Click on “links.” That will get you launched.

·       Contact me with questions. I’m always happy to help.

Please let me know how the process goes with you so I can pray with and for you!

Blessings, Carol

[1] For more information on Inner Healing see the writings of author John Sandford. He has been a pioneer in the field.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

3 Actions to Take to Repair Identity

None of us has a perfect life, unfortunately. It seems we could all use a little shoring up of our picture of ourselves. Some of us have a few cracks in our foundations; some of us have gaping holes and some of us feel the picture changes as though someone is playing with the projector! Here are three things that will help create a more stable picture of self.

1.     Produce a Zone of Belonging

People who have a sense of identity feel that they “belong.” If you feel you are short on belonging, create some! Quoting from an email Dr. E. James Wilder[1] sent me,

“If you have an identity, you produce a belonging zone around you. Damage to identity always reduces that belonging zone. So, it is more important in the long run to continue to produce belonging than to continue to receive it.”

             People who have an identity take risks. They include other people. They meet others’ needs and
             have an expectation that their own needs will be met. They feel valued; they enjoy and value someone
             who includes them and they reciprocate. The result is a cycle that generates belonging and worth! When
             you are unsure of your worth and insecure about your belonging you tend to be more tentative in
             relationships. Taking risks did not produce good results in the past; consequently, it is difficult as an
             adult to reach out to relate now.

The Scripture comes to mind that says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and love your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27). You want to be included; so you do for your neighbor what you would like for yourself. To create a “zone of belonging around you, include others. Make them feel valued and important. That blesses them; they will reciprocate and include you and meet your needs. It becomes a blessed cycle rather than a vicious cycle.
2.     Risk

Take the risk of relationship. Risk is involved in creating or enlarging your zone of belonging. Take the time and the risk to find a prayer partner, a mentor, a counselor—someone you trust who will speak truth into your life—someone to support you. Keep looking and keep asking God to provide such a person. If you feel insecure in your competency, use developing a competency as a point for taking the risk to relate! Find an individual who can help you develop a skill, and make that your reason for hanging out. You legitimately need to see yourself as competent.

3.     Wash Your Mind With the Word

The third thing you can do it repair is to wash your mind, spirit, and emotions with Scriptures that tell you the truth about who you are. Memorize verses that speak powerfully to you so you have them readily accessible in emergencies! Emergencies will come!

I grew up on a farm in northeast Iowa. Unlike most of Iowa, which has deep, rich top soil, this part somehow escaped the glacier. It is hills, valleys, and clay soil—a hard farm to work. My mother was a gardener and grew a huge garden with flowers wherever she could find a spot to put them. She found an old rose bush planted next to an ancient, dilapidated log cabin on the back 80 acres built by some Irish settlers ages ago. It was a poor, scraggly thing, but she moved it and replanted it. Every time we did laundry we threw the wash water on the roses. We never thought a thing about it. That was a good place to throw the wash water! In those days laundry soaps still contained phosphorous. After a few years of feasting on phosphorous rich water, the roses flourished. It was a rambling rose bush and grew all along our back yard fence, a blaze of yellow blooms each summer.

Your identity needs the same kind of treatment. It needs to feed on truth until the soil of your mind and spirit becomes rich and you can “bloom!”

If you have a story about belonging or value and worth that would encourage someone else you can share in the comment box. I look forward to hearing from you!

Blessings, Carol

[1] Quote from email conversation with the author, June 2008. Dr. E. James Wilder is a psychologist, author and co-founder of Shepherd’s House, Van llyes, Calif.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Identity #5--Our Gang

The individual identity is the picture you have of yourself that you put together from what you saw and may continue to see in the faces around you and the way those faces relate to you and your needs. That is pretty well formed by adolescence when you move into building group identity.

“Group identity refers to those you will consider "my people" for the rest of your life. You feel at home with your group, your people. You use them as a reference any time you wonder what it would be like you to do in a particular situation. The subconscious thought process goes something like this: "Let's see; Mom, Dad, and Uncle Joe say I always do such and such...So, in this kind of situation it is like me to...therefore, now I'm going to...!" You will turn to your group whenever life becomes too hard. You will bring home your treasures for them to share. You will want them at every important event in your life.”[1]

As our daughters experimented with leaving the nest, at some point they both called home and with awed voices related how wonderful it was to know beyond any doubt that they could come home. If where they were and what they were doing was too hard, they could always come home. Always. It broke their hearts to hear the stories of girls who had to make their situation work regardless of interest or abuse, because there was no home to go to. Parents had made it very clear: “Do not come home!”

So, what if your “group” had only negative things to say to you or about you? What if every time you brought home a treasure they trashed it? What if they ignored or mocked your accomplishments? What if they laughed at or lectured you when life became too hard and you turned to them for some kind of comfort or support? What if they do not consider your important life events important and did not come?  What if they said, “Don’t come home?” What if the people in your group are the ones you would never want to attend something of importance to you? How would you feel? Would you feel you belonged to anyone anywhere? If there is no one to look to and no “home” to go to, then who are you and where do you belong? If your needs are not met, or if they are met without love, or if they were met inconsistently, what does that say about your worth to these people? You have no reference points to look to, no one to tell you how to relate to people outside this “group.”

If you did not see worth and delight in the faces around you as a child, you may have come to not expect it as an adult, unless the Lord intervenes. If you never know what response to expect as a child, it is unlikely that you do as an adult. Identity involves all those things you look to that tell you who you are, your reference points. What you see reflected in the faces of your community becomes internalized. Much of what you see reflected in the faces of your group is the sum of your history. You do not think to question the truth or accuracy of that picture; that simply is who you are.

Think about what you saw in the faces of the people in your life as a child; what were the messages? If you saw that "you are good," "gifted," "a delight," "you are good at... something, "you are mine," then you grow up with a strong identity and knowing who you are. If you saw only disgust, contempt, were used and abused, treated as a piece of furniture, or not seen at all, then you may have grown up believing that you should be ignored, used and abused. The good news is that this too can be turned around!

Fixing Identity Holes—A counselor aligned with Jesus and faithful to His ways can be a great help in repairing identity. Additionally, there are five things you can do to repair your identity.

1. Produce a zone of belonging.

2. Take the risk of relationship.

3. Wash your mind, spirit, and emotions with God’s word.

4. Through inner healing remove the lies about self that you grew up with as well as roots of bitterness toward those who tempted you to adopt those lies.

5. Find new faces that reflect the truth about you. There is no order of importance indicated; this is simply a list. In the next post I will elaborate on these five action items.

If something in this post rang true for you, please comment and let me know. And, if you would, do me the favor of passing it along to your friends!

Blessings, Carol

[1] Carol A. Brown, Highly Sensitive, Destiny Image, Shippensboro, PA, 2010, p. 231. ISBN 13: 978-0-7684-3260-2.
Excerpted from Highly Sensitive, Carol A. Brown, Destiny Image, Shippensboro, PA, pp. 231-233 ISBN 13: 978-0-7684-3260-2.