Spiritual Symptoms

You might remember a while back when I talked about all of the various and seemingly unrelated physical symptoms I had that I started trying to target in prayer.  If you don’t, you can read about it here.  After a season of consistent prayer and improvement, God impressed upon me a course of action that completely healed all of my symptoms.  This course of action was to eat all organic food, at which point they all disappeared.  But what the course of action was is really insignificant to this post.  It is the process I want to talk about.

I am a Christian, and I have eternal life because of Christ.  However, I am still spiritually sick.  This is evidenced by symptoms such as confusion, anger, fear, impatience, depression, selfishness…the list could go on.  Anything that cannot fall into the categories of one of the fruits of the spirit, as listed in Galatians 5:22-23 (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control), is a symptom of the sickness.  As with my physical symptoms, my initial reaction is to medicate.  Only not with pills, but with things and personal effort and self-help-type mindsets.  This does not work.  The symptoms continue.  My second reaction, as with my physical symptoms, is denial.  Ignore them.  If I just keep plugging along maybe I will be able to limp through and no one will notice that something is wrong with me.  This does not work either.  Eventually, they get bad enough that everyone can tell, and you are never really fooling yourself so you are miserable the whole time. 

With my physical symptoms, I eventually came to the place where a) I asked for help and b) I stopped denying the symptoms and started trying to target them in prayer, which all led to God providing a complete cure. 

I started recognizing yesterday that this is a great model for doing the same thing with my spiritual symptoms.  If every time I feel discouraged, frustrated, afraid, etc., I immediately begin praying against these things, God will work a change in my life.  And these are all things that we can know are not of God.  God gives us promises in His Word that He didn’t just stick in there as cute quips.  Promises that mean things and that mostly I pass over instead of recognizing them as true because He said they were true. 

And I believe part of the process is finally realizing that I can no longer hold up the banner of “I’m OK,” and have other people believe it…which is the same point I got to with the physical symptoms.  I wasn’t OK and it was starting to show.  The same is true spiritually…I had to get to the point where I knew I couldn’t fool people into thinking I was great all of the time.  And then to the point where I knew I could not fix that under my own power.  I have no idea how.  The bottom line is that I tried everything my self-sufficient nature could think of and it usually makes it worse.  So, the only thing I have left is to turn to God and ask Him to fix me when I am behaving in a manner contrary to what I know God has called me to.  I find that even asking Him to fix it somehow gives me the patience to step back and evaluate what I am doing, how I am acting.  It’s a constant check on me. 

 If I say to myself in the morning, “Today, every time I feel those negative feelings, whatever they may be, I am going to ask God to help me fix it, overcome it and change it,” then my first realization is how much I am having to ask God to help!  I found that I am very good at the “denial” part of this…just like when I started trying to target my physical symptoms in prayer, I was amazed at how many I had.  I tried to ignore them for so long that I hadn’t even realized how bad they had gotten. 

But however bad our symptoms may get, they’re no match for God when we just let Him have at it instead of trying to take it over ourselves. 

Kids Are Funny II

Here is the post you have all been waiting for.  I like to delude myself into thinking that people are interested in my emotional ramblings and artistic endeavors, but I really know that everyone is just waiting for some more funny kid quotes.  🙂

From a 3 yr. old while saying goodbye to me:

 3 yr. old: “I like your eyeball.”

Me: “Thanks.”

3 yr. old: “I want to eat it.” 

Ummmm.  OK.

Conversation with a 3 yr. old:

3 yr. old:  “Do you like to be alone?”

Me: “Sometimes.  Do you like to be alone?”

3 yr. old: “Ummm, only if there is someone with me.”

Conversation with a 3 yr. old:

Me: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

3 yr. old: “A fireman.”

Me: “Oh – are you going to fight fires and stuff?”

3 yr. old, upon getting a terrified look up on his face, “Nooooo.  I’m going to be a pretend fireman.”

Noble profession, that.

Conversation with a 5 yr. old while he is trying to teach me how to hold a golf club:

5 yr. old: “You have to hold it like this because you get more leverage.”

Me: “OK.”

5 yr. old: “Leverage is something that makes you stronger than you really are.  But I don’t really know how it works.”

Conversation with a 5 yr. old:

Me: “What is your favorite thing to do?”

5 yr. old: “Pet kitties.”  ********short pause******** “No, wait…shoot guns.” 

Hmmm…pet kitties…shoot guns.  MPD anyone?  🙂

Can Eggs Fly?

We’ll call this an extended quote – C.S. Lewis from Mere Christianity:

 “The real problem of the Christian life comes where people do not usually look for it.  It comes the very moment you wake up each morning.  All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals.  And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving them all back; inlistening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in.  And so on, all day.  Standing back from all your natural fussings and frettings; coming in out of the wind.

We can only do it for moments at first.  But from those moments the new sort of life will be spreading through our system: because now we are letting Him work at the right part of us.  It is the difference between paint, which is merely laid on the surface, and a dye or stain which soaks right through.  He never talked vague, idealistic gas.  When He said, ‘Be perfect,’ He meant it.  He meant that we must go in for the full treatment.  It is hard; but the sort of compromise we are all hankering after is harder–in fact, it is impossible.  It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg.  We are like eggs at present.  And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg.  We must be hatched or go bad.”

Thoughts

Lately, I’ve been trying to evaluate why I seem to be so unproductive in the way of anything with eternal value.  You may have noticed that I’ve still dropped off a bit in the way of posts about my relationship with God.  I’m not ignoring Him…just having a little trouble with what it needs to look like.  And as I’m not good at sharing what I haven’t figured out, you don’t get to be a part of that.  You usually get to hear (read) things when I have mulled over them enough to think I already have them all figured out. 

Well, I’ve been thinking a lot about a lot of things.  One is this: my boyfriend was trying to encourage me recently and pointed out how David just walked out to face Goliath; he didn’t hesitate or seem iffy on whether it was God’s will.  He just did it.  In considering this, I realized he was right.  So, I read the story again.  My issue with it was that it seemed to contrast an idea that I held based on the story of Abraham.  I mention this in my “Ambition” post.  I say that I have determined we are to wait for God’s hand befor we take action in a direction, even when the outcome seems impossible if we do not take matters into our own hands, because when Abraham took matters into his own hands (think Ishmael vs. Isaac), he totally screwed up the rest of history.  So, when I was considering David’s situation in context of Abraham’s, I realized quickly that the stories were not the same at all.  Abraham took his OWN dreams into his hands.  That is why it was a mistake.  He was acting on selfish motives simply because he wanted a son.  David was not chasing his own desires.  There was no earthly desire in David appeased by going against Goliath…only the desire to defend the True God and make His name greater.  The conclusion is clear, and I have said and recognized this in myself before, but I don’t think really managed to change it yet.  I am still in the place Abraham was, where I think I have to manage my desires myself in order for them to come to pass, instead of David’s state of mind, where my desire has ceased to be for my own glorification and is instead only for God’s.  James 4 says, “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”  That was Abraham and that is me.  But chasing your own desires is not the way to receiving the promises of God.

Psalm 37 says it like four different ways: “Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land and verily thou shalt be fed.  Delight thyself also in the Lord, and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart.  Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.  And He shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday.  Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him.”

I don’t think that can be very much more clear, and as I also stated in my “Hope, Take III” post, it says the desires of your heart and the promises of God come to pass when our hope is in Him, when our first thought is Him…not when we are out trying to make our own destinies. 

I’ve also been thinking a lot about needing people.  I am not good at needing people, if you were wondering.  I don’t think I really know how.  When there is someone who I think I ought to be able to need, and they are not coming through, I get angry and it shows as anger, which does not make that person more likely to come through, but it makes them push away.  I’m realizing that because of this inability to need, I feel like I am always the needed one.  This might not be true.  Or maybe it is true, and it is because of my self-sufficient aura that I attract people who are more needy than I am.  When I am around others, I feel constantly “on”.  I feel like super-responsible, together me has to kick in for me to be any use to others.  And so it does…but to the detriment of my own psyche.  I don’t know how to relax in front of other human beings, especially if I am at a particularly weak state myself…because I don’t know how to show that to anyone.  I only know how to be strong.  And so it creates in me this sort of resentment towards other people…like it is their fault that I cannot relax and be weak around them.  And in contrast, when I am alone, it is such a relief that I feel I have nothing at all left to give to anyone, and God becomes one of those “people” who needs something from me.  So, I rebel and do pointless things as if to say, “I deserve some time to be free of the demands of society, of You.”  But God is not those people.  And even if my feelings of always being needed and having no one to need in humans is true, my responses to it are flawed and sinful.  This feeling is not where God wants me.  It’s the lie that Satan tells me in order to render me ineffective.  God does require things of me, but they are things that will teach me how to properly interact with others so that these feelings are countered.  They are the things that will allow me to relax in life and be who He wants me to be, not who I want other people to see.  They are the things that will teach me how to chase His dreams and not my own.

Generosity

I seem to be surrounded by generous people.  I have so many great people in my life, and I feel very lucky for that.  I would like to list here some situations which made me grateful for these people.

When I moved, 5 of my friends were a world of help.  It would have been torturous doing it alone!

I moved a cabinet in my car that would only fit with the windows rolled down in the back seat.  I hadn’t planned on this, and it was when it was just starting to get cold.  I had to babysit late that night, so was not going straight home.  It was midnight when I was about to leave and I mentioned that I was not looking forward to driving home with my back windows rolled down.  I had not dressed for that!  The lady I was babysitting for insisted that I take a coat, gloves, a scarf AND a hat so that I would not be cold on the way home.  If you know me at all, you know how grateful I was because I can’t stand to be cold!

I had some projects for which I did not have the tools.  One of my friends allowed me to borrow tools of hers, and also to come to her house and use tools that were too big to borrow.  She also aided in picking up some furniture I had bought that would not fit in my car. 

Every time I have moved since I came to Nashville (which has been  4 times) I have had friends with vehicles who were happy to let me use them for the move, and have not had to rent a truck at all.  The last two times I moved, it was my employers at the time…first my carpenter employer with his Tahoe and trailer, this last time it was my caterer employer with her catering van.

My catering boss is always particularly generous with her things.  She let me do laundry at her house before my washer & dryer were installed here.  She let me use her internet to do my personal things before my internet was hooked up.  She let me borrow her vacuum cleaner until I purchased one.  (I only had hard wood floors before.)  She is also allowing me the use of a cabinet that was her grandfather’s.  She did not have a use for it now, and as I live in my one room cabin with no closets, there is much need for free-standing storage space.  I’m using this cabinet for my towels & things.  She also gave me the cabinet that is now my pantry.  It is one of those free-standing metal cabinets, and perfect for this.  She just gave it to me.

And that starts out the list of the major things I have in my home that have been given to me (not counting just regular gifts).  I’ve been thinking about it, and have decided that I either seem particularly opportunistic or needy, or else people just like me.  I feel like stuff just gets given to me all of the time.

The medicine cabinet in my bathroom was given to me by a former roommate.  There was no mirror in the bathroom here when I moved in, and they had just replaced their medicine cabinet.  I asked her if I could buy her old one, and she just gave it to me. 

I had not owned a TV since I moved to Nashville seven years ago.  I purposely sold mine when I moved because I have a tendency towards reclusiveness.  I wanted to make myself get out and meet people.  (Incidentally, it did not work…I just turned to books instead.  I counted up as many as I could remember after the first year I lived here, and I had read at least 70 books in that year.)  But after that I always had roommates that had TVs so I never even thought of buying one.  Then I was going to live alone and did not have one…I’m not sure that even then I would have gone out and bought one.  I don’t really watch that much TV.  But one of my nanny families got new flatscreen TVs and offered me their old 27″ television.  Perfect condition.  And so I have a TV. 

My surround sound system/DVD player was given to me buy a friend…she got two of them through a rewards program at her office.  The above mentioned TV did me little good as I would have to get satellite to have actual television out here, and don’t care about it that much.  I couldn’t watch movies because I didn’t even have a DVD player…now I not only have a player but a surround sound system as well.

All of the windows for my window wall were given to me by a friend who remodeled his house.

My dresser was not exactly “given” to me, but sort of.  I traded it with the same former roommate I mentioned above for a trunk and a porch rail that I no longer wanted. 

I also have several ornate iron porch railings (the tall ones…I’m not sure what you call those) that I use for decoration and were given to me by someone I did not even know.  They were in the back yard of my boyfriend’s former neighbor.  I asked him if he was using them for anything, and he said no.  He worked construction and rebuilt someone’s porch and thought they should not be thrown away, but did not have a use for them.  I offered to buy them, and he said that I could have them, because he just wanted them to be put to use.

And the most recent addition to great things I have been given is my new patio furniture.  It was given to me by the same nanny family who gave me the TV.  It’s bar-top and they wanted to get something lower for the kids.  It fits beautifully on the side section of my little patio, and I put a picture of it here because I am excited about it!  It’ll be like being on a vacation when it warms up a little (I’m sure you’ll note the snow in the picture), and I can have my morning coffee sitting outside looking at my cabin view.

patio-furniture.jpg

I feel like I am leaving out some things that were given to me, and if you gave me something and I forgot it and you are reading this, feel free to remind me! 

I just wanted to write this blog to say I am grateful for the people in my life.  I am truly blessed.

Hope, Take III

Let’s just continue the theme here.  I have obviously been dwelling on this thought!  But it keeps coming back up.  I guess it could be my own mind interpreting everything in light of what I have been thinking of, but who can really say?  Either way, I believe that God is really just trying to drive it home…to root it firmly in my soul as truth.  And not just as the word “truth” – I mean, as truth that is something to live by.  There are a lot of truths that I hold in my brain that never make it to my heart and my actions.  I think God is trying to make sure this is not one of them. 

Every verse I read has been about hoping in the Lord or waiting in the Lord.  These words are often interchanged between different translations…what is “hope” in one translation might be “wait” in another, and vice versa.  As a conglomerate, it is like the Word of God is screaming at me, “Put your belief, what you are waiting for, in the eternal, and the promises you seek will be realized.”  I have to list a few verses (and maybe commentate a bit on them along the way).  To have their full effect, you should go read them in context, but I’ll leave that to you and just pull out a few.

Psalm 39:7 – And now, Lord, what do I wait for?  My hope is in You.

This one hit me particularly hard.  The psalmist’s question in the first part of this verse is a question simply asked to make a point.  He is trying to say that he does not wait for anything, because he HAS the thing he is waiting for…it is fulfilled in God.  In God.  He seeks nothing past God, because God holds all things.  What a disservice I do to God when I tell Him that He is not enough!  My attitude says, “I know I have you, God, but I am still not satisfied.  I need you to make MY plans come to pass.  You who created the universe – you must not know what needs to happen in my life.”  I seem to have forgotten about the verse a little further along in Isaiah 55 – “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.”  He sees and knows more than I do…infinitely more, and I still seem to question His methods and doubt His wisdom.

Isaiah 55: 1-2 – Ho! Everyone who thirsts, Come to the waters; And you who have no money, Come buy and eat.  Yes, come buy wine and milk without money and without price.  Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy?  Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance.

Here, it speaks of our striving…striving for things that pass away and do not fulfill.  He says that God does not even require your desperate striving…He is giving you what you need without any cost and because of nothing that you have done.  It is His to give, and He is giving it, but we have to take Him up on it.  I believe this speaks not only of salvation, but of all of His promises.  His abundance is there, but we have to accept it.  We can choose to spend our souls in squalor on this earth even as Christians if we do not choose HIM first and step out of the world…He is “what is good.”

Matthew 6:33 – But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

This is the most obvious, and also the most succinct of the verses with this theme.  It is surrounded with verses telling us not to stress, not to hold onto the things of this world – telling us to trust the Most High God with our every worry.  This verse also means something particular to me because about 5 years ago God gave me a dream about this verse.  In this dream, I was given a gift.  I was an adult, but I was back at the church I went to as a child for some special thing, and one of the older members gave me a gift.  I went home and opened it.  When I opened it, I could not tell what it was supposed to be.  There were no instructions in the box.  It was a bunch of pieces of stirofoam that were obviously supposed to be put together.  There was also a presence with me – a presence that I never looked at, but that was helping me try to piece the gift together.  I was conversing with it as I went, and it was guiding me somehow, although never speaking out loud.  As we began to fit the pieces together, all of the sudden I realized that they had now changed from stirofoam to plastic.  I still had no idea what it was supposed to end up being, but we continued to try to make sense of the pieces.  And as we continued, they changed to wood.  I thought for a moment that it was going to be a wooden wall shelf, and thought that was a pretty good gift.  But we continued to work and it continued to change, and I realized that it wasn’t.  And then it turned to stone.  And when it turned to stone, it was no longer in my hands, but outside my window in the ground.  It was a tombstone.  Only I was not looking directly at it.  I was looking at it through the reflection in a mirror.  In the reflection, I could see myself, a clock, and the tombstone, which was engraved with the words, “Seek Ye First.” 

Now, if you can’t interpret that on your own, I’ll do it for you.  I’ve had 5 years to analyze the subtleties and infrequently take it to heart.  When I was young, a gift was passed on to me – the knowledge of the true God and His saving grace.  When I received it, I did not fully understand it.  It’s implications were not formed or sturdy in my life.  I was not taught how to fit it all together, but along the way, God’s presence was always there with me, patiently guiding me, watching my clumsy attempts.  This understanding grew more sturdy as God continued to guide me.  It became something less breakable (plastic) but still something that I did not know how to make use of.  Time went on, and it became something stronger yet (wood) and at this point, I sort of thought I saw it taking shape.  I only just, in typing this, recognized the significance of thinking it was turning into a wall shelf, and being satisfied in that.  A wall shelf…a thing never used for much except to look pretty – to put your decorative things on display.  I would have settled for using God’s salvation as something to look at, something for others to look at, but still serving no real, functional purpose in my life.  But God did not let me stop there…and His gift turned to stone.  Solid.  Immutable.  And then it was no longer mine.  When I understood the gift, it was not even something I was supposed to hold on to…it was something I was supposed to let go of – my life.  It was truth.  It is not something inessential and decorative like a wall shelf.  It is gritty and real and hard, but true.  So true that it makes you only do things that matter.  And of course, the clock and my own reflection – my days…man’s days…are numbered.  The only thing that matters is to seek God first as it says and to do the following:

To die to self (I Corinthians 15:31 – I affirm, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.),

Realizing that my days are numbered (Psalm 103:15&16 – As for man, his days are like grass; as a flower of the field, so he flourishes, for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.)

And recognize that only God’s purposes will have any lasting value as Job does here (Job 42 2-5 – I know that You can do everything, and that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You.  You asked, ‘Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?’  Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.  Listen, please and let me speak; You said, ‘I will question you, and and you shall answer Me.’  I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You.)

I love what Job says there.  He says he said things, questioning God about things that he did not understand…things too wonderful for him to understand.  God’s plans are so great and so good and so far above our heads that we can’t even fathom the magnificence of them.  In other words, the God “who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.” (Ephesians 3:20)  And then Job says he finally gets it.  He says, in effect, “I had heard about You before, but now I have seen You…now I KNOW You.”  He got it. 

I’m not sure I’ve “got it” yet.  I’m not sure what stage I am in from that dream.  I like to think I am getting close to a place where God’s place in my life is so grounded and real that I live it as the Word of God says we should in I Corinthians 7:30&31 – …those who buy as though they did not possess, and those who use this world as not mis-using it.  For the form of this world is passing away. 

To buy but not possess, to use but not mis-use.  And to stop waiting for anything, realizing that God is THE good thing (as illustrated in the passage from Isaiah above) and possessess all other good things in His hands, where He is also holding me (John 10:28 – And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.) 

May I learn to not be as Martha in Luke 10:41&42 who was “worried and troubled about many things”, but may I be as Mary who chose “the ONE thing that was needed” – to sit at the feet of Jesus and hear His words.  That is where hope is found.

Prayer of Saint Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is discord, unity.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is sadness, joy.
Where these is darkness, light

Divine Master, grant me that I may not so much seek,
To be consoled, as to console,
To be understood, as to understand,
To be loved, as to love,

For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.
It is in dying that we are born to eternal life.