Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Never Un-Friended

Dear Friends,

I hope you read this. I hope you visit here. I hope this means something to you.

Sometimes we find ourselves in dry seasons. No rain. No blessing. No friends. Old friends whom we leave by the wayside. New friends who do not linger. Some friends who just un-friend us.

With Social Media taking over our lives and re-directing our time, it brings with it some kind of fake reality of what friendship should be. In my experience the number of people reflected on your Facebook profile does not reflect the actual people involved in your life. It does show who you have connected with in your life, but it does not reflect the depth of that connection or the length either. It may not even be a real connection but just a virtual one. It is so easy just to "follow" what others are doing by viewing their profiles. That doesn't mean you know them or know what goes on in their lives or that you even truly care.

What benefits Social Media has afforded me personally on the other hand, is to follow the teaching of some really remarkable Christian women. From Ann Voskamp, Lisa Tekeurst to Lisa Bevere and many more. These are ladies that I would have liked as friends. Strong, faith-filled believers with a purpose and a heart. Honest women not afraid to share their painful truths so as to encourage other women not to give up but to live their potential in Christ.

I have however had the privilege to know a handful of women in my life I could look up to, but I have also been hurt by just as many who call themselves Christian.  For a long time I didn't understand why Christians hurt Christians until I listened to a podcast by Joyce Meyer. She said her biggest hurt came from fellow Christians and that we should remember that people are just people. My mistake over the years was to let my guard down when I dealt with fellow believers. I reasoned that we were the "same".  I could relax my borders of protection as it would not be "needed". I am not saying we should put up barriers between us and other believers or the world. What I am saying is that we need to protect our hearts for the Word says it is the wellspring of Life. It doesn't say protect your heart against believers or unbelievers. It says protect it. Guard it. My biggest lesson in life is this: I have to protect my heart against people in general. We shouldn't therefore distinguish between people. They are all just pots of clay...some more broken than others. Some are just forgiven, may be born again, but still on a journey to be made new. Aren't we all? There you are. The reason why we should be careful with our hearts.

Friendship and relationships has played a very big role in my life and I think the main reason is not what I thought it was. The main reason is that God wants me to know that He regards relationship to be the the biggest most important thing of all. That was His reason for sending Jesus to us. So if I fail at friendships, or they fail me, what should I know? What should I remember? What should I take note of in my life?

1. Always value true signs of honest caring friendship.
2. Forgive those who are incapable of living love, caring for you and making you feel that you matter.
3. Let them go.
4. Keep moving forward with an expectant heart.
5. Don't give up on it.
6. Trust God for it always.
7. Wait for the real thing and cherish it while He gives it to you.

Every-time I think that God has finally stripped me of friendships in general, He comes and reminds me with gentle taps on my shoulder that He is still at work in my life and He is the One who fulfills my friendship needs:

1. He Himself is my Best and most Loyal Friend.
2. My husband is His representative on earth when I need protection, provision and hugs exc.
3. My sister was given to me as a life-long soulmate and companion. She knows and understands me through and through.
4. My mom is a friend to me. An older, wiser guide to help me stay the course. She is the voice in my head and always will be.
5. My dad is my spiritual guide and the foundation he paved in my life will always help me to serve God in all circumstances. A better friend you cannot ask for.
6. God called a colleague from a job I left nearly a decade ago to periodically reach out to me still, without prompting from me. A true sign that God calls people to love you. She always makes me feel I have something special to give the world. She lets me know that she can see me.
7. God sends an older women who loved me through a difficult time when I was a young teacher at a special school many years ago, to comfort and pray for me now on a daily basis by sending me texts on Whatsapp. She has six kids and a bunch of grand-kids and she still finds time to text me diligently in a time I truly need it. I find it marvelous that God can bring significant people back into your life at the right time.
8. When I gave up on making new friends that I can trust to speak FAITH into my life and reach out to me when I can't give anything back, God sends a women across my path who basically has the same name as me (similar core name meaning: "Grace"). She speaks prophetically into my life at times that she doesn't know is actually God's perfect timing. I know that He is using her to speak to my heart. She doesn't know me from a bar of soap and only met me once in person by "accident". She keeps in contact via Whatsapp. What a blessing.

Other friends have moved on and probably don't know that they still live in my heart. But as I grow older, I have learned to let go and trust God's timing more and more. Some of these friendships will always just pick up where they left off once we re-connect because the bond is Christ.

Newer connections still need to show their worth and so the judgement is still not out on those. Also OK. I have learned that true connection needs time and patience.

As a highly sensitive person, we need intimate and close friendships with people we can trust with our hearts. This makes life very difficult for us as we are not really capable of shallow connections. God made us this way for a reason. I have stopped to explain it away or try to apologize for it. I am content that those who cannot deal with it, should not be in my life. There are so many positive things highly sensitive people bring to any friendship and it is sad that some cannot see it, but I know that God will lead me to the right people at the right time and in the meantime, He is enough and I am enough and what He gives me now is ENOUGH.

The Incourage website always inspires me and the women that write or create on this website is to be noted. Please go to the website by following the link in the caption.

Check out this blog post by Jennifer Studio JRU on the Incourage website: http://www.incourage.me/2017/03/he-is-enough.html

Is. 49:15-16 says that God will never forget us. He has engraved us in the palm of His hands. We are so part of Him that He never forgets. He knows our intimate parts and therefore He also knows what we yearn for in our hearts.

Your deepest need for friendship will always be met by Him.

Lord, thank you that you love us so much that you will always give us what we need at the very moment we need it and not necessarily when we ask You for it. Thank you that Your timing is perfect and that you will always provide the companionship we need...even if you have to use people. Help us remember that You will never un-friend us or leave us behind. Thank you for Your Word that says you have engraved us in the palms of your hands. You have our walls always before You. We love you, Lord and we life Your Name. You are God above all else.

In Jesus Name

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Want to control it? Rather surrender it!

Dear friends,

This week God is dealing with me on the issue of control once again. As sensitive types go, we tend to feel save when we can control our environment, our process and what we are exposed to or not.  Being a steward of what God has given us, is important and having good boundaries in place keeps us save, healthy and balanced.

When stuff go wrong in the life of a sensitive person, and this can be anything from abuse of any kind, high stress levels for prolonged periods of time to unhealthy and unbalanced or even toxic relationships, it may have an adverse effect on the life and health of a highly sensitive person.

Most Christians are thought to believe that we have to do everything expected of us and we have to do it with a good attitude and we don't have a choice. I for one can witness that this is not healthy for the highly sensitive Christian. In my own life and in the life of my husband too, I've seen the negative impact it can have when we just please everyone around us all the time and never say no to anything. Over time you end up feeling out of control. Without the proper boundaries in place, you also teach the people around you that you are a sucker for punishment and it becomes harder and harder to put down that boundary. In the end it is easier to just do what everyone expects because the emotional pain they put you through with guilt trips and emotional bullying is just not worth it.  You give up.

On the other side of things, it can also get you to a point where you start to feel that if you don't have control over saying no, you have to try to control the things you can and you end up overcompensating for the lack of control in one area and substitute it for the control you can have on other areas. Anything out of balance is not good.

My lessons in life has included me to usually be to quick to say yes to stuff because I either want to do it or feel like the relationship is to fragile to handle a "no" from me.  I end up overextending myself. The moment that you cannot count all the balls you are suppose to have in the air at one specific time, you're in trouble.

A couple of things happened in the last year again that made me see how important it is for me to understand the following:
1. Always check with God first before moving ahead on anything even if it seems a good thing or a thing you really want to do or have or be involved in. It might not be God's will for you or even the right time for it. Father knows best. I still struggle with this all the time and have to be reminded of it often. The repercussions if you don't ask His will first can be and has always been for me, very painful.
2. Rest is a very important thing and burn-out happens quickly if you over extend yourself.
3. The moment you realize you are trying to control stuff in your own strength, STOP, give it to God and take a step back. We are not meant to control this life. Just be good stewards of it.

So, asking God first puts us in the right relationship for Him to bless us because we are putting His will above our own. Resting enough means we don't think we are Holy Ghost Junior, traking to take on the world and that we know we need God. We we rest, He can work.

Finally, God is and should be in control. We don't have to be. We don't have to know every little detail of His plan for us in advance to know that He has a wonderful hope and future for us and we are safe in His hands. We just need to surrender and trust that He does. A controlling spirit is a controlling spirit and something we can ask God to free us from.

There is peace, abundance of peace in the knowledge that we are safe and secure in God. That He has our backs and that He will work everything out for our good and benefit...even the worst of things. Even the things we are most afraid of and the things that cause us the most pain. Failure is like death to a highly sensitive person. Really, it's that bad. We dread it. Because we dread it so much, we tend to be overly careful in life with everything. We plan and think and wait before we move ahead on anything risky.  We are also over-achievers and we believe excellence is a requirement for success in anything. We always do our best. Because of our natural tendencies and characteristics, we can easily fall out of balance.

Being sensitive is not an excuse to have a chaotic existence. We need order and we need to be able to say no to ourselves and others so we can stay in balance. I still struggle with the "no" because it feels so good to help others. For many years I tried carrying the burdens of others and because I misunderstood my sensitivity and didn't realize God's purpose in it, I mismanaged it and overloaded my body, mind and spirit with the burdens of others and even the emotions of others, causing myself to carry more than God intended for me.

Learning about my temperament has afforded me the skills to be able to say no, to be able to decide what load God wants me to carry and which situations or emotions of others I could avoid because it was just not His will for me to be responsible for it. This is something we can all pray for: a spirit of discernment. It helps us know what God wants for us.

Last year I learned big lessons about moving forward in things and relationships that wasn't for me and I decided to focus on trying not to continue on the same road this year. Once again I found that I was being tested on the same things again this year. Saying no is still the challenge it has always been and I just realized that it will never stop. We will always be confronted with situations and people that try to overstep the boundaries we have in place. Knowing is one thing and doing is another and so we need to enforce the things we know to be true with creating habits out of it.

One thing for sure is that I have realized that trying to control stuff that I was not meant to control or that will only cause me burn-out or harm, is a lesson that I have finally learned. The moment I realize that I am asked to control something to steer or force it to go the way either I want it to go or others want me to go, I stop and surrender it to God and move away. I don't want to control anything. I do however have leadership skills and after reading the following post about "Control" by Teresea Shields Parker it just hit home again. God will lead you when He wants you to use your gifting and for the rest of it, He will hide that gifting safely in you. When He unleashes it, it will be for His glory and your benefit and the uplifting of others. If it's not, then stay clear or you or even others could just get hurt.

So today, lets focus on surrendering again what we think is right for our lives, to God and let Him guide us with His Spirit to what is BEST for us. Trust Him. He can be trusted. He runs the universe you know. ;)

Lord, thank you that you have a hope and future for us that surpasses all our understanding. Thank you that we can surrender our will, our emotions, those of the people around us and the burdens of this world to you, because you are able to carry it. Thank you that our strength is found in You and that it brings us joy. Help us, Lord to guard our heart and give us discernment to know what to say yes to and what to say no to. Thank you for making us sensitive and help us to use our gifts when you give us the green light. Help us to manage our emotions better so that we stay in balance and in the center of Your will for us. Thank you for Jesus Christ and His sacrifice so that we can live a free life and live it abundantly. Help us to never forget that we are bought with a price and should live our lives to honor You. In Jesus' Name we pray.