What in the World Are We Looking For?

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Our souls are relentless in their pursuits.

 It seems we are always searching, seeking, and running after something. We seek relationships to satisfy our longing for intimacy. We pursue careers to make it in this world. We search for significance or purpose through various means.

 sad

We must keep a close eye on the direction of our souls (mind, will, emotions). They often have a mind of their own.

Misguided pursuits that have one goal in mind, to satisfy misguided desires that were never meant to be fulfilled. Many feel the only way to satisfy these desires is to yield. They foolishly believe to give in, is the end of the struggle.

But even then, they quickly discover that the surrender leaves them and they succomb to something they quickly regret.

I have a client I’ll call Maddy.   She was constantly searching for meaning to her life.  But she doesn’t understand why nothing she tries ever brings satisfaction.  In and out of relationships, jobs, marriages, and so many other things, she finally reached out for help.  She was so lost and confused.  She had struggled for years, but when she finally reached the bottom of herself she sought help.   Today, she is finding so much purpose to her life and has been set free from that nagging dissatisfaction she lived with for years.  How?  She realized that Jesus can fill her empty self.

The answer is, simple, really.  

And I always feel the simpler we make understanding spiritual growth in our lives, the easier it is to apply it to our lives.

gods-will

I’ll be honest, I once had an addiction to ministry….yes, you read that right. I would spend all of my time developing and teaching bible studies and ministering to people every time the church doors opened and had my own outreach outside the church building.   The problem, though,  was that my personal life had so many serious marital  issues that I was frustrated with and needed to confront, but just couldn’t find the energy to do anything, so I searched for something else to take up brain space.   I convinced myself that as long as I was in service to the Lord  He would take care of my life.   I was so spiritual I ignored my marriage, and ultimately lost it.

 Unhappy-Person

Denial isn’t just a river in Egypt, friends.

 I got my accolades and validity from people and not the Lord.

 and I became addicted to it….

 It was a back and forth struggle. One part of me loved indulging in it, but the other part knew it was not a wise use of my time. I repented several times in my failings, but finally lost most of everything I was ignoring.

 You see I wasn’t using faith….I dismissed my dislocated busy-ness by saying it was for the Lord,

 As if He could only use me and no one else.

 Burnout

I think any human has the capability to become hooked on anything. We generally assume addictions are limited to those who abuse narcotics, drink alcohol to cope, gamble their money away, or view sexual content on the internet regularly.

Addictions can come from any angle. They wrap tightly around us until we are enslaved to them. Why are they so powerful? Because they give us a sense of fulfillment or pleasure−although short lived. They start off seeming innocent, but the more we come back for more, the more we become imprisoned.

Romans 6:16 reads, “Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey…..

 Slaves is a strong word. A word that we don’t like to identify with our own lives.

 Have you noticed how easy it is to identify the problems of others? We thumb_colourbox1908348      may see an area of weakness in their personality and we inwardly identify the changes they need to work on, especially if it is not a problem in our own lives.

 As a person who does not usually get easily angered, I can quickly identity the wrong in someone who is angered or irritated easily. It’s so easy for me to judge them because it’s not a weakness for me. It takes brokenness and humility to turn inwardly and admit my own enslavements, and then turn to God for help.

Broken-Chains 

Are there areas of enslavement in your life that you want to be free from?

 The answer is simple.   We were created with a vacancy,  an empty place, within our hearts that was only…ONLY meant to be filled with God.  

 That’s it!   Not complicated!

 We try to fill that emptiness with everything we can find to satisfy us temporarily.   It will NEVER work.   You will ALWAYS come to the end of yourself and realize you still aren’t happy or joyful or fulfilled….and you move on to something else.

 Jesus-By-My-Side-342x200   Our most lonely place is when we are missing our loving creator, our King, our Jesus and we need to sit with Him and talk to Him about our hearts and what we need.

 Service to Him will follow that relationship of intimacy that will so fill you to satisfaction you can’t help but want to share it with others.  

 Service follows relationship.   No amount of service, if you don’t have the relationship of intimacy with God,  will ever satisfy you.   You will wonder why you feel burned out and disillusioned.  

 Because you were walking in an illusion of thinking “things”  “people”  “service”  (fill in your own word) will satisfy.

 Maybe you like all the things that fill your life right now, and you see no need to examine their place in your life.

 The thing is, we will never come to a place where there is no need for change and growth.

 There is always room for cutting off, turning away from, getting to the root of things. Our pride, selfishness, jealousies, evil motives, and the like require a daily examination…I have many such talks myself.

 You will only get as much of God as you want.

 jesus6    It’s up to us how close we draw near to God. The less we want, the less we will seek. The more we want, the more we will seek.

 Our actions will reveal our pursuit.

 

 

Boundaries! 7 Ways to Stop Fixing People and Empower Yourself.

922705_559351900752675_116486065_n  Having no boundaries in your personal life will strain personal relationships and the accumulation of frustration and miscommunication as a result of no boundaries will  ultimately create resentment that will lead you into very toxic relationships.

Person-under-doormat    No boundaries can also keep you in that victim mentality.

Here’s the truth – if you don’t create clear boundaries for yourself in all of your relationships, you can’t expect the people in your life to know what you want or don’t want.  Healthy boundaries allow for an equal partnership where both the power and responsibilities are shared.  Especially in marriages, but this mindset will affect everything you do, from friends, to work, to church, to children.

Boundaries help us define who we are and provides us with a definite sense of self. People who learn how to set personal boundaries thrive because they have created a level of personal control within their life, whereas people who do not set personal boundaries tend to be stressed and overwhelmed with too much to do and not enough time to do the things they want.

sb_passiveagressive2Most people have a hard time saying the word NO.

Inevitably, until we set personal boundaries and learn to say no, the quality of our lives  will suffer in so many ways.

freedomWhen we learn to say “No” more often, or just learn to say “Yes” on our terms, we free ourselves from the burden of pleasing others therefore allowing ourselves more time and freedom to do what we feel matters most .

Examples:  

  • Your adult children ask you for money and you go ahead and give it them against your better judgment even though they don’t take responsibility for their own budgeting.

  • Your coworkers delegate tasks to you that they should be doing, but you do the extra work because you want to please them and be liked.

  • Your husband tells you that it’s your fault he lost his temper and was abusive and you take on the guilt for his choices and actions.  

  • Someone from your church asks you to volunteer for a new project, and out of guilt you say “yes” when you really should say “no” because your schedule is already overloaded and you are exhausted.

 

Sound familiar?

 

All of these scenarios reflect a lack of boundaries – limits that can help you avoid unnecessary stress and enjoy the peace God wants you to experience.

 

relationship difficulties You may tend to respond to other people’s needs at the expense of your own and then suffer from the chaos that comes from a life without proper boundaries.   I see it often in coaching. 

 

Do you want some ideas on how to  start setting boundaries in your life and start enjoying peace?

 

  1. Shift your focus from your circumstances to how you respond to those circumstances. 

 

God will empower you to change your life for the better if you change the way you respond to your circumstances. While you often can’t control your circumstances, you can always control how you respond to those circumstances as you surrender them to God and follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance to set the appropriate boundaries. Doing so will honor both God and you, because it will please God to see you living with the respect He intends for you.

 

  1. Keep in mind that taking control isn’t the same as being controlling.

Setting boundaries isn’t about trying to control other people; instead, it’s about being clear about what you will and will not accept in your life in order to claim your God-given spiritual authority and guard your heart from harm. You never need to feel guilty about setting boundaries with the people in your life.  Jesus did it all the time.  He had very strong boundaries.  No one deterred Him from His mission.  People will actually have more respect for you when you are strong and firm in your boundaries.

 

  1. Distinguish between helping and enabling others.

Consider whether or not you’re actually helping the people you’re trying to help. Helping is doing things for people that they are not capable of doing for themselves.

 

doormat     But Enabling leads people to depend on you in unhealthy ways – AND is doing things for people that they could and should be doing themselves.

 

Recognize that when you’re enabling people rather than helping them, you’re creating an atmosphere in which others can comfortably continue their unacceptable behavior. Even though you intend to help, if you’re enabling you’re actually hurting other people, and yourself, in the process.  You enable them to not take responsibility for their own lives.  Thus draining yourself.

 

Recognize that setting boundaries is vital in order to fulfill God’s purposes for your life. Instead of letting other people distract you from living the life God intends for you, claim the spiritual authority God has given you by setting the boundaries He leads you to set in your life.

 

254865_440342676028286_2145415378_n   Pray for the confidence you need to overcome whatever fears have been holding you back from setting proper boundaries in your life.

 

The more you learn how to apply biblical wisdom to your life, the better you’ll be able to set boundaries that will help you accomplish God’s will.

 

  1. Stop your own negative behavior.

Ask God to help you identify specific negative attitudes and behaviors in your life that are contributing to a lack of boundaries and the resulting stress. Then decide to stop your destructive patterns and pray for power from the Holy Spirit each day to replace your unhealthy attitudes and behaviors with healthy ones.

533101_323586567703898_2131335984_n Don’t waste time or energy anymore on trying to get the other people in your life to change; that will never work. Instead, focus on simply changing yourself, with God’s help.  You will never get someone else to change their behavior.   You have to change.

 

YOU are NOT the savior of anyone.  Jesus is!!  womanatthewellbylizlemonswindle

 

Seek the support and encouragement of some caring Christians whom you can trust to help you on your journey to set proper boundaries in your life.  Or get yourself a Life Coach to walk the journey with you a while to show you how.  (Contact me if interested!)   dixie1

 

  1. Nip excuses in the bud.

Don’t tolerate any more excuses from either yourself (about why you’re not setting boundaries in your life) or other people (about why they want to step over boundaries that you’ve set for them).

 

Ask God to help you stand firm so you can make real and lasting changes in your life. Say “no” clearly and without guilt whenever you sense that you should say “no.” Doing so will give you the freedom to say “yes” to activities that the Holy Spirit convicts you to pursue.

 

You will feel so empowered!!  birdcage

 

 

  1. Trust the voice of the Spirit.Pay attention to how the Holy Spirit speaks to you about boundaries. Listen for the Spirit’s guidance about boundaries every day in prayer, and be sensitive to the Spirit’s promptings in every situation you encounter. In some situations, the Spirit will restrain you from taking action, and in others, the Spirit will urge you to take action move forward.

 

Yield everything to God. Live to please God alone, and don’t worry about pleasing other people. Let go of everything that holds you back from fulfilling God’s purposes for you, including: unrealistic expectations, negative emotions, and Satan’s lies. Trust God to give you peace and guidance to change your life forever!!

 

Contact me at dixie@reflectionsofgracehome.com to set up a coaching call!

 

 

“Church Lady”…or Devoted Lover?

allthatineedI love the church.   If you know Jesus then you are the church too;  One of the many members of the Church, the Body, of Jesus, who is our Head.  But I was brought up spiritually in a church building for many years, and I loved it. 

Somewhere along the way I lost the mentality that I was there to grow in Jesus. 

Oh yes, I was taught that I was the temple where Jesus lived, but I was also taught I had to be in a building to truly walk with him.   It took me too long to realize that being a ‘church lady’ didn’t mean I knew anything about the heart and passion of God.

Oh, I yearned for it, so put on the face that I already had that passion filled relationship with Jesus, and had the pious face down pat, as if I had it together. I had the Christian-ease language down pat, too.    For many years I was very involved in just about everything that was happening in the church building.  

I was involved in potlucks, gospel sing alongs,  committee meetings, bake sales, car washes, retreats, conferences and any other spiritual sounding activity that was advertised in the church building. Then I started a women’s ministry and it grew and grew.  I absolutely loved it.  I had a place and felt loved and accepted.  I loved the people, the busy-ness, and the routine.  I was really good at doing church and I looked the part, too. Busy-Woman-1147825

I had a good heart. 

I was so drawn to God and yearned to serve Him and thought that is what I was doing.  But over time, more serving, and more ministries later it all became a checklist or a substitute for a deeper passion.

It became a “doing” instead of a “becoming.”

I still love the church.  I just missed the whole point God was yearning for me to see for many years.  If you have read my book, Climbing Out of the Box, you will see where it led me.  However, I digress.

Somehow I loved becoming the church lady and mistook that title for becoming godly. 

It felt so good to be in the church clicks, though. And I saw others left out of those groups to which I turned a blind eye.  

So, I busied myself in  those good works of bringing food to the sick, planning baby showers and helping at funerals, and teaching Sunday school.  It can feel so good to be needed that it can become a substitute for a passionate pursuit of God.

Don’t get me wrong; Service, fellowship, and giving are wonderful and a part of the calling for every believer, but serving and doing do not equal a relationship with God.  They do not get us closer to the mark,  and sometimes can become a wall we hide behind. And so we pretend we know what we are talking about and every Sunday we sit in a pew, staring at the backs of heads, listen to a sermon, and go home.

And wonder why that gaping hole in our hearts is still there.

Every Sunday morning parents hand their babies over to the good people who work in the nurseries.  Then they go serve in hundreds of places within the building.  They may never even make it to the service, but it is okay because they have been to church.  Some have hidden there for years.

So many of us are “doing” like crazy.

Not many of us are “becoming.”   Women Bow And Pray

My coaching business over the last few years has been full of women and men, who were dying on the inside.  Service and hospitality was not cutting it for them.  Hearts are broken and lives are hurting.  They longed to know that Jesus really loved them—somehow they missed that part while they were busy doing.  They are worn out with good works without realizing how to have a one on one with Jesus. 

Yet we keep signing up for one more thing. 

Hoping we will find Jesus there.

When we get the church lady thing going it is easy to pretend we have it all together.  I did.  Everyone thought I was so together and many wanted to be me.  I dressed fashionable, and had a sweet smile on my face.  My kids were impeccibly dressed, and we were the ‘perfect’ family. 

But inside; well that was another story.  

My marriage was falling apart.  I had been molested as a child and had not told a soul yet.  I had not even begun my healing and was convinced I would go to the grave with my secret.  So, I had to get even more busy to outrun the ugly truth. 

I had no self esteem.   376692_405449249517629_858305305_n

Soon I learned I could fill that need to be validated by being in the church clicks and there was always a need for one more worker to keep it all going. 

I became addicted to ministry to fill my gapping hole of need.

Ministry took the place of a passion filled relationship with a very real Jesus.  It wasn’t until I lost it all did Jesus finally break into my religiosity and reveal Himself  personally in all His glory. 

And when that happened?   I was doing nothing in the church– I had lost it all.  It was in the wilderness of my life that I met Jesus face to face…when everything and everyone else was gone.

Only Jesus didn’t leave.

That is when I learned that I am the Church.  You are the church.  We are all the church body.  

Getting off the merry go round of hiding behind our good works is about laying down all pretense and facades.  It is about stepping outside the lines you have drawn around your spirituality and seeing what God has for you.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

When we only ascribe the term ‘church’ to weekend gatherings or institutions that have organized themselves as ‘churches’ we miss out on what it means to live as Christ’s body. It will give us a false sense of security to think that by attending a meeting once a week and work ourselves to the bone;  then we are participating in God’s church.

But if the church is something we are, not someplace we go, how can we leave it unless we abandon Christ himself? We can’t.  We may join other believers anywhere, but it doesn’t define our personal love relationship with Jesus.

If we think only of a specific congregation as our part of the church, haven’t we separated ourselves from a host of other brothers and sisters that do not attend the same gathering that we do? Are we not called into the market place?

If you have hung your spirituality on inward files with neat little answers for every situation, hang on, because God is probably getting ready to blow the lid off of your box. 

You may need to allow Him to restructure your thinking a bit of why you do what you do; with all the strong essential elements of your faith still there, just rearranged to reflect to you more clearly the heart of God.

Scripture does encourage us to be devoted to one another not committed to an institution. Jesus indicated that whenever two or three people get together focused on him, they would experience the vitality of church life.  Out of that body life, of course comes service.  But if that is what defines your relationship with God, you will soon become a “church lady” too…..Or maybe a “church man.” 

I pray that we all are renewed in a passion for Jesus no matter where we find real fellowship with other believers; a genuine concern for each other and a willingness to serve the world with God’s love, which can only come from, not service, but relationship with Jesus Christ. Out of that relationship we will be His hand extended to a lost world.  praying-woman