God, please teach me not to judge. Please. Teach. Me. Not. To. Judge.
Not…to judge the mom at the coffee store who is looking at her phone
when all her toddler wants is her undivided attention. I do that myself.
Not my husband who is tired when he walks through the door and is looking for rest. I always want what he requests, but I am terrified to admit it.
Not the driver who nearly side-swiped me last week and then gave me a dirty look. I nearly drove a car off the road and into shoulder this morning.
Not the woman I consider self-indulgent, self-seeking and far too self-interested. Many a day, I’ve tried to dress so well, so right, to look perfect. I want to be seen.
Not the family member who is always letting me down, getting under my skin. God, you really do know, my timely, ordered ways could drive anyone nuts.
Not the person who believes, politically, things far more different and strange than I. I’ve never walked a day in their shoes.
Not the person I look nothing like. Just because they don’t reflect me,Jesus, doesn’t mean they don’t reflect you.
Not the person making every single wrong decision in the book. I made so many bad decisions, I nearly killed myself way back when, but still, hope was never lost.
Not the one who offends me and continually tries to drive me nuts. Before I run forward with insults, I should remember they likely have a background of pain.
Not me, and all the hundreds of ways I’m offensive. I let you down all the time, but immediately, Jesus, you toss my offenses on the flip-side of this world when I say, “Sorry.”
Just as much as they are developing, I am too… We are too…
Our stories are complex. Our growth is slow. Our faith is increasing. You’ve planned it this way, God. It takes trust, piles of it. And, space, room to make allowance for others and ourselves.
Yet, when we run to cast labels, decisions, verdicts and opinions on people, we steal this space. We steal the space you’ve given us to observe. Don’t let me steal the wonder of your works. You are working something. You are moving as you will. As I give leeway, you give way to the wonderful work you’ve always intended to do.
When I fill it that space with negativity, captivity, critiques and prognoses, I steal peace, growth, hope and new life. I don’t want my mind, heart and soul filled with these degrading and base motives. What a waste! What a rip-off for them and me!
Stop me from doing that.
God, give me patience to lift others, rather than to hate them.
God, give me eyes to see your beauty in them; it is always there.
God, give me a mouth that affirms differences, not one that pushes them aside.
God, make me into a peace-maker, not a finger-pointer.
God, make me aware of my faults, so I don’t ever believe I’m too good for your calling.
God, make me need others, so I never stand above them.
God, strengthen humility, erase my pride.
God, show me the low road, so I can lift others high.
God, soften my impulses and slow down my need to decide.
God, open a door so I can walk much-needed love inside.
God, soften my heart so I can bridge great divides.
God, remove my tough skin, so you can sink inside.
Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit.Psalm 32:1-2
The air was musty as I sat in the balcony of the old theater, turned church. I had heard the pastor speak before, but tonight was different.
He confessed how he and his wife had struggled to remain pure in their dating years—while he was on staff at another church. He explained they had come clean to the Lord but they’d never revealed their sin to that congregation. They now felt the need to confess their past sin to this church.
You could hear a pin drop and the furnace thumping below in an effort to warm the old building. I listened attentively from my vantage point, impressed by his courage to reveal this hidden part of his life.
After the pastor finished his confession, he asked the crowd to forgive him.
As impacting as this was, something else happened that night that I will never forget.
The pastor said something to this effect, “In a group this size, I am sure there are others who have secret sins also. We want to provide an opportunity for you to confess those things to the Lord and also to those gathered here, if that is needed. I am going to open the mic up and, if you feel led, you can come and confess those things. This is a safe place to share.”
No one came, at first…
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It all happened when I got stuck, sweating bullets in a parked car with a 3-year old who was certain my body was her gym mat. I was over the wait, but the countdown was ongoing. He was nowhere in sight.
My texts went unanswered.
He knew I was parked.
I dialed him again. Nothing.
Soon after, I saw his phone resting on the car mat.
I tapped my foot, frustrated.
Towing a 3-year old, we headed into the restaurant. We asked some people if they had seen a man with dark brown hair. The one with a boy? No. No. No.
My face reddened. My hand tightened. I pulled the girl out of irritation.
But, breaking the layers of heavy, and as if a messenger of God handed me a “Peace-note”, I remembered the recently-read words in “Sacred Stress.” They reminded me: There is an opportunity found in adversity…
The words said, “A Harvard University study found when participants reframed stressful events as a challenge instead of a threat, they felt energized and performed better.” Hmm…
Could I see this as a challenge rather than a threat that:
1.) Wastes my time?
2.) Ticks me off?
3.) Makes me worried?
The words said, ” Viewing stressful situations as healthy and an opportunity for growth usually eliminates the negative stress-related symptoms.”
What is coming against me, can actually work for me,
when reframed right.
The words said, I can create a positive outcome, a positive view and change the outcome, thereby escaping stress.
Situations don’t rule me, God does.
I can choose to see things from his good view; it changes my poor view.
I can choose to see thigns from his good view; it changes my poor reactions.
Would this really work?
“I have an opportunity to find and extend the grace of God.” “God is calling me to lean on him. I will know Him better through this.” “Maybe it will provide an awesome time for daddy to connect with son as they walk home. I can’t wait to hear.” “I can show my kids we can beat the power of stress by not being stressed.”
I felt proud of my words, but still, troubled by anxiety.
The words said: “Name it.” This means giving an “honest accounting” of how you feel so you can get to the root emotion.
If you speak positive words but don’t let God tend to your bucking emotions,
you’ll still wildly flail out of control.
When we admit our feelings, see them for what they are, and let God hold them –
We land at peace.
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Pet. 5:7
Looking back, I didn’t handle this situation just right. I messed it up. But, guess what?
I have next time. God doesn’t shun me and say, “You are one and done.” Nope. He is the God of ample opportunities. He is the God of perpetual second chances. He is the God of unending learnings. He will help me at my next crossroad. He will instruct me on the way I should go. I feel a little nervous about this. I see the fear in me – the fear of failure. God sees it too. He can handle it. It is not too much.
He whispers, “My perfect love casts out fear.” 1 Jo. 4:18
In this moment, I know I found something. I have arrived somewhere.
About Sacred Stress: A Radically Different Approach to Using Life’s Challenges for Positive Change
Stress can limit our perspective, leaving us feeling trapped and out of control. But stress can also be a force for good: It is our challenges that most compel us to reach out for relationship. And our proudest moments come after overcoming obstacles we thought were insurmountable.
Based on personal experience and their work as therapists, and drawing on decades of psychological research, George R. Faller, MS, LMFT, and The Rev. Dr. Heather Wright have come to see that stress can be healthy and positive. They equip us with the skills and the knowledge we need to reframe our thinking about stress, understand and embrace our darker emotions, and become stronger through difficulty. View on Amazon.
George R. Faller, MS, LMFT, a lieutenant in the New York City Fire Department for twenty years who participated in 9/11 rescue efforts, is a licensed marriage and family therapist, an American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy supervisor, and an Emotionally Focused certified therapist, supervisor and trainer. He is also the founder and president of the New York Center for Emotionally Focused Therapy and teaches at the Ackerman Institute in Manhattan.
The Rev. Dr. Heather Wright, an ordained Presbyterian minister, is a licensed professional counselor and executive director for a faith-based counseling center. She taught graduate-level counseling and pastoral theology and served as a board certified chaplain. She is the author of Redeeming Eve: Finding Hope beyond the Struggles of Life and Small Group Leadership as Spiritual Direction.
I feel like confession is one of those topics that is wildly misunderstood and feared. I grew up in the really traditional religion of Catholicism. I went to Catholic schools all of my life and every week, we went to confession. I never had a super firm grasp as to why we needed to go to a Priest and confess our sins, but I did it. It was what we did. It was all I knew. I didn’t question it, I just went with the flow.
During those times of confession, I never really had any new or concerning issues. I was a very compliant child. To this day, that still holds true. I pretty much stated the same list of sins to the Priest. My main one, was that I didn’t speak respectfully to my grandmother. I tend to be a bit sarcastic. I never seemed to have any new struggles.
Today, is a different story. I have struggle on top of sin on top of struggle. I need help and I recognize that I need help. That’s the first step, right? Now, I have no issue with thinking of all of the ways I fail and fall short. I’m sure you do too.
There are two main areas where confession must happen in our lives…with God and with others.
Jesus is our great High Priest.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9
The idea of confessing our sin to the Lord should never scare us or intimidate us. We should never feel embarrassed or ashamed. We can trust Him with every sin.He is a safe place for us. God is a loving Father who never brings condemnation. He knows everything there is to know about us and loves us still. Our confession to Him is not for His benefit. It is for ours. He sheds the light of His truth on our dark places and ushers in hope and healing. The enemy of our souls wants to keep us bound to our sin. The Lord wants us free!
Confession in community is God’s design.
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. James 5:16
Don’t let this freak you out. This is not a call for us to share every intimate detail of our lives with everyone we meet. But, it is a call for us to get brave and to get intimate with a chosen few.
God’s intent for us was never to live in isolation. We were created for one another. This verse in James clearly states for us to confess to and pray for each other. We don’t do this with everyone but we do do this with a select few.
There is a healing that only comes when we confess to one another.
Jesus had the 12. He had the 3. Then, He had the 1. He modeled what covenant friendships are supposed to look like. If He believed these relationships were important. How could we believe anything less?
Do you feel safe to confess to God and others? I’d love to pray for you today.
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Karina is a devoted follower of Jesus from New Orleans, Louisiana, but has made her home in Baton Rouge for the past 15 years. She spends much of her time leading worship at church, writing, reading, dancing and mentoring the next generation. She has a huge heart for serving and missions. She is an advocate for the local church especially the one that she attends, Healing Place Church. She also enjoys working out, traveling, photography and going to concerts/conferences.
Karina believes that every woman has a God-sized dream on the inside of them and it is up to an encouraging community to help nurture that dream. Her goal in writing is to see women get a revelation of God’s Word and discover how to apply it to their lives in order to walk in freedom and live the life that God intended. But the most important thing to her is to live out the call of Isaiah 26:8…For His Name and His Renown are the desire of our souls! You can connect with her at “For His Name and His Renown.”
It was the tipping point. The beginning of the fall. No, it wasn’t a crash, a sudden impact dive that you didn’t see coming. I saw this coming. I could feel it making its way toward me and yet, I was entirely helpless to stop it.
It was a slow, distinct unraveling. That moment where you can feel the wheels teetering ever so slightly out of balance until the whole thing comes unhinged. My heart, that is.
This was the season of my undoing.
I was quite certain I had never planned for this. My life was a well-structured agenda of fortitude, perseverance, accomplishments. They needed me in some misconstrued way, yet I needed them more.
From my earliest memories, I can recall that feeling, deep in my bones, that insane and horrific gnawing that I was not enough. That I would have to prove myself. I needed to be special. I needed to feel worthy. Loved.
I heard people say, If you try hard enough, you can accomplish anything.
I believed them.
So I set my face like flint against the wind, I measured my sails, and I set out to prove my worth to the world.
Whatever it takes, that was my motto.
Whether that meant hours of studying or practicing to be good enough. Whether it meant endless miles running wrapped in plastic wrap to be skinny enough, I did it. That was me.
I thought there would be some point where I arrived. Where I would attain. Where I would be enough.
Yet, inside I knew there was something adrift. If I was quiet enough, I could hear the tremors begin to quake. I felt the muffled pangs just beneath the surface.
I told myself, Just keep pushing and everything will turn out fine.
So I kept pushing. I pushed real good for awhile. I achieved what many said I’d never achieve. Nobody noticed the foundation beginning to crumble around me. I noticed.
I wanted to be healed. I longed to know what wholeness felt like. I craved peace more than anything I could imagine.
That must be for someone else, I thought, but it must not be for me.
I often felt like the woman in Scripture reaching out, desperate to touch the threads that lined the hem of Jesus’ robe. Surely if I could touch Him, she must have thought, then I would be healed. (Mark 5:21-34)
I understood the longing of the blind man, who day after day, hoped and prayed that he would one day see. How could he have known his Savior, his Healer would come with a little clay and a little spit near the pool of Siloam and give him everything he’d ever hoped for. How? (John 9:1-12)
I could see myself like Peter, shivering in the waves and wind as he stepped out of the boat onto the Sea of Galilee. If only I had enough fortitude to keep my eyes on Jesus, I could have walked on water without sinking beneath the waves of doubt and fear that pulled me under. (Matthew 14:22-33)
And then my healing came. Not in the way you’d expect. Jesus ushered me into a sacred place. A sacred season. Jesus led me to this season of healing and He never let go.
I heard Him whisper to me, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV)
I needed rest.
God gave me rest and He gave me so much more. Over the years of my healing journey, I discovered an abundance that was more than I had ever imagined. God was showing me how to build and live a life of peace. It was all I had ever hoped for. Longed for. To breathe. To feel solid and sure. To experience wholeness. To experience abundance. Physical abundance, spiritual abundance, emotional abundance.
3 Ways To Walk From Pain to Peace
Embrace Maximized HOPE! – Without a doubt your hope lies first and foremost in the person of Jesus Christ. He is your foundation spiritually, emotionally, and physically. As you learn to appropriate His hope, His healing into the emotional area of your life, you will experience the fullness, the abundance of hope He promises.
Jeremiah 29:11(NIV) states, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Discover Complete WHOLENESS! – God wants you to be not only healed, but whole. God doesn’t want his children limping through life, barely surviving. He wants you to thrive. He wants you to discover your unique calling, your passion and purpose so that you can make a difference for His kingdom. As individuals become whole, the entire body of Christ becomes whole.
2 Timothy 1:7 (AMP) tells us that, “God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well- balanced mind and discipline and self-control.”
Enjoy Enduring HARMONY! – You were not meant to live in chaos. Your relationships were never supposed to be a rollercoaster of pain and disappointment. God wants us to learn how to foster peace and strength in our relationships so that we can enjoy them without being dependent on them for our happiness or wellbeing.
Romans 15:5-6 (AMP) shares, “Now may the God Who gives the power of patient endurance (steadfastness) and Who supplies encouragement, grant you to live in such mutual harmony and such full sympathy with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may [unanimously] with united hearts and one voice, praise and glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah).
You don’t have to keep trying so hard to prove your worth. You don’t have to keep pushing, hoping that everything will turn out okay. Healing isn’t just for someone else. Healing is for you.
Jesus is whispering to you, Come to me…
Will you come to Him today? Will you accept the peace He has for you? Will you let Him walk you from your season of pain right into His peace?
You can experience the love for which you long.
You can experience abundance beyond anything you can imagine.
You can experience peace, not just for today, not just for tomorrow.
You can experience peace —for a lifetime.
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About Lisa Murray
Lisa is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, author, coffee lover, and wife. Her online community lisamurrayonline.com provides a compassionate place in the midst of the stresses and struggles of life. While she grew up in the Florida sunshine, she and her husband now live just outside Nashville in Franklin, TN.
About Peace for a Lifetime
In her new book, Peace for a Lifetime, Lisa Murray shares the keys to cultivating a life that’s deeply rooted, overflowing, and abundant, the fruit of which is peace. Through personal and professional experience as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Lisa discovered how to take the broken pieces of life and find indestructible peace with herself, God and others. Through Lisa and other’s stories you’ll realize you can experience peace, not just for today, but you can experience peace —for a lifetime
Like a teenager under the overwhelming weight of pressure – I did not choose the right road.
The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. Gal. 5:19-20
I let my internal pursuit for feelings of acceptance compel my feet right to the place of wanting more for myself.
I wanted to get from God rather than enjoy him.
His blessings, rather than his presence.
Big confirmations, rather than his small dispensations of love.
Doors open and people to push me forward.
Only His best – for my advancement.
I wanted God “my way”.
An I-will-do-it-all-for-you god.
A tailor-made god that fit my needs.
But, my teenage tantrum to feel good,ended with the repercussions that always come when we bend in to disobedience.
I slammed the door to my room and locked myself away from God, scolding myself for doing the wrong thing, in the wrong way. I didn’t want to look at him; I had done so wrong – I acted badly and was deeply afraid to admit it.
Yet, Jesus is the door and he has all access to our rebellious hearts as we say we are sorry.
He walked in to comfort me with his love and the words, “Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” Phil 2:12-13
Praise you God!
You take us out of us, and give us you – so we know what to do. As we work to know and fear you, you work to help and heal us. The presence of the Spirit in us is greater than power of the flesh over us.
The truth is God that I can never work hard enough to remove my flesh; God never gave me that ability – the actual act would hurt far too much. To wrip off my flesh by myself is to live in a constant mode of chastising self-finger wagging.
Only God has the power.
He releases us on the inside so we can act right on the outside.
Then, we “do not use our freedom to indulge the flesh”. Rather, we “serve one another humbly (not pridefully) in love. Gal. 5:13
Humble love says, “God your face is all I need.
Rather than, “God, pour out what I want.”
Lord, as your Spirit guides, your faithful servant will obey, because your ways are greater than mine. Give me a heart to endure what you did on the cross, so my life may reflect the magnitude of your love. Amen.
As we release our life to God, we find it. He works, and we, like needy children drawing instruction – listen. And, he leads us.
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