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How I Lost Control – Caution: Sensitive Material Inside

How I Lost Control | Dawn M Owens | Like Me or Not :Overcoming Approval Addiction

This is the story of how I lost control.

It didn’t happen in just a day, or a week, or even a month. Slowly but surely, over time God started to show me how tight my grip was on the things happening in my life. I was strangling His plans and it was keeping me from my future.

I have learned over the years, I have a bit of a control issue. It’s important to me that things look a certain way. Which also means, sometimes, I want people to act a certain way. Because when they do, what I ask them to do, it affirms me. Let’s me know that they approve of me, appreciate me, love me.

But that is not healthy. In the end, I hold people to unfair standards, standards that I would not even be able to meet. The only way for a control freak like me to learn how to lose control is, well, to be forced to let go.

Unfortunately for me, this happened through a series of very hard events.

Our Big Plans

Let me start off by saying, prior to this point, and well, if I am honest, even after this point needing control has been an issue. I am a professed approval addict and well, I have people-pleasing and insecurity struggles, which is why control is also an issue for me. You see if I can control my situation, I can also control whether people approve of me or not. Well, at least try to.

But this was one time I couldn’t make the circumstances work in my favor. You see, this situation was bigger than me. It’s situations like these where God can remind us exactly who is in control, Him.

About three years after we got married, I started suggesting to my husband it was time for us to have a child. I wasn’t getting younger (already over 30 at this point) and being older than him, it was time for us to try and start a family. We went before the Lord in prayer, and both agreed it was time. It wasn’t long after I found out I was pregnant. We were ecstatic. That was on a Friday and by Monday, I had miscarried our first child.

We were devastated.

We Tried Again

It took a few months to get pregnant again, but we weren’t going to give up, even though this time it felt scarier. We were nervous that we might miscarry again. But this time we made it not only through the first weekend but up to week eight. This time I was on the job training clients in Georgia when the bleeding began. At the time I lived in Cincinnati and was a long way from home. I called my doctor to find out what I needed to do. After taking a pregnancy test and seeing the line show up only slightly faded, I knew what was happening. To say I was angry was an understatement.

Thankfully I had an amazing boss, and she had me hop on a plane home. As if it was that easy.

What transpired will be an experience I will never forget. In fact, every time I walk through the Atlanta airport it brings back the memories afresh. But it was there in the bathroom stall that I lost our second baby. I could barely speak to anyone. Talking was not an option because deep sobs hung in my throat.

Somehow I made it back to our home airport where my husband waited with a car. I cried all the way home curled up in the back seat. There was a tug of war of the pain between my broken heart and my cramps.

The next weeks are still a blur because I could barely breathe. It was hard to live. I numbed my pain with books, movies, and food. I wanted nothing to do with God because I was so angry at Him. It didn’t make sense. We prayed. We asked Him for the desires of our heart. The Bible says we are to procreate, that babies are a blessing. What did we do wrong?

Tragedy Struck

A few months later the church we were attending, Crossroads, had its annual Christmas Show. This isn’t a dress up the kids and coo over their costumes show, this was the real deal. Dancers, musicians, lights, snow falling from the ceiling. This show could be on Broadway and it would sell out every night.

This year they decided to take the show to a new level and have the Wise Men belay down from the ceiling. One of the performers missed their rung and fell to their death. My husband was on staff and watched the accident happen. He still can’t watch that scene or performances where the performers are hanging from ropes.

Our pastor was amazing. Instead of dealing with it quietly, even though the event made the national news, he brought the whole church together. All ten thousand of us to walk us through the grieving process. He was honest, raw, and real. In doing so, he reminded us of the story of Job.  A righteous man who had done no wrong in the eyes of God but was targeted by the Devil for his righteousness. When God turned him over to Satan, he lost everything. Cattle, sheep, and most importantly children. His response?

Blessed Be The Name of the Lord

He fell down and worshipped the Lord. The Bible captures him saying, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21, ESV) My pastor reminded us that we are not God. His plans are above our plans, His ways above our ways. He doesn’t need to answer to us and we may not understand everything that He does. But just like Job we need to strive to be people, that no matter what our circumstances that we can say “Blessed Be the Name of the Lord.”

As sad as I was for the loss of the life of the performer, anger raged in me. I thought, “Why God? Why did you have to take both of our babies? I don’t understand. Why did the teenager who didn’t even want to be pregnant get to keep hers? The drug addict? The prostitute? Surely we were better than these.”

He then had us take the person we had lost, whether it as the performer who fell only a few nights before, or someone else we were grieving and hold them in our hand. When we were ready, we were to lift our hands up in surrender and let them go. God, in His sovereignty, is in control, we are not. Our surrender reminds us of that.

As we stood there, they played Matt Redman’s song “Blessed be the Name of the Lord”.

My hardened heart began to soften. Deep down inside I loved God. I also knew that He loved me. He wasn’t trying to make a fool out of me or withholding blessings from me. He had a plan, and though I didn’t understand it, I knew it was good. It took me a bit, but looking at my husband I realized the grace I had received. I was a sinner, an adulterer, and a divorcee, and yet my God gave me an amazing man to love me and be with me all of my days.

With tears streaming down my face, I lifted my hands to heaven and with each release let my babies go. In exchange, I experienced peace and freedom.

A New Story

That was mid-December and on New Year’s Eve, on a few weeks later, we were to go out with friends. I considered celebrating with a glass of wine but decided it may be a good idea to check to see if I was pregnant just in case. The screen went from blank to pink in a matter of seconds and I knew, we were pregnant again.

Eight months later, after a rough pregnancy including Braxton-hicks and pre-eclampsia, my sweet miracle child was born at 35 weeks. Sawyer James is our pride and joy. Now eight years old and keeping us on our toes.

I learned a huge lesson that night. Trying to control God, people’s responses to my pregnancy or lack thereof was not going to change our reality. It did not define me as a wife, a mom, or a woman. It wouldn’t determine our acceptance or affirmation of our friends and family nor would it determine the pleasure of God. I am who He says I am and my identity is not based on my ability to conceive.

It wouldn't determine our acceptance or affirmation of our friends and family nor would it determine the pleasure of God. I am who He says I am and my identity is not based on my ability to conceive.…

But instead letting go and allowing Him to guide our story instead of trying to write it ourselves, made way for the family we dreamed of and the life He desires us to live.

I have had two more miscarriages since then, losing three more babies. But what I do know now, is that God, in His sovereignty knew what my future would hold. I do not have physical children to hold, but since then He has birthed a vision of community transformation and now a book that holds this story and so many more.

Like Me or Not Overcoming Approval Addiction

God is In Control

Let it go. Those expectations you have of how your husband should respond to you. Let it go. Your children will find their way into His arms. Let it go. Your work will continue on without you. None of those things define you, they certainly do not own you, and cannot determine your identity. You are who God says you are. So let it go.

Question: What do you need to let go of so God can affirm the identity He has given to you?

Check out these other posts about approval addiction:
Why I am a Professed Approval Addict
How to Know If You Are Addicted to Approval
Feeling Insecure?

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How to Know if You Are Addicted to Approval

How Do You Know If You are Addicted to Approval?

How do you know if you are addicted to approval? Is it just something that resonates with you or is there a test you can take to know for sure?

I’d like to suggest yes, to both.

I think there are those of us that hear phrases like “people-pleasers,” “she is so insecure,” or “approval addict” and something inside of just shouts, “Yes! Yes! That is me.”

But for others of us, those same words reflect fear, and we want to know if the way we sometimes feel is okay or if we have a problem that needs addressing.

5 Ways To Know If You Are Addicted to Approval

  1. Are you able to make decisions on your own without worrying about what anyone else thinks of you?
  2. Do you need the affirmation of others?
  3. Do you set high expectations for others and become disappointed when they don’t live up to them?
  4. Is it difficult for you to share your opinions or beliefs with others when they differ from your own?
  5. Do you have a hard time saying “no”?
Here are five ways to know if you are an #approvaladdict. https://wp.me/p7HNJY-AY

If you said yes to more than one of these, then you are more than likely have an approval addiction.

You Are Not Alone

I think we have all struggled with this on some level.

It doesn’t matter if we are female or male. Young or old. As I have shared how God has me in recovery to this addiction, people from all over have said, they struggle too. The irony is it’s affirming, right?

Over the next few weeks, we will begin to discuss some of the issues approval addicts struggle with daily. Things like: people-pleasing, insecurity,  need for control, taking up offenses, and fear of rejection. These are all addressed in my book Like Me Or Not: Overcoming Approval Addiction by Worthy Publishing (2018). It’s a great way to take a deeper dive into this issue, should you find that it strikes a chord with you.

Which of the five ways mentioned above do you struggle with the most?


Other posts you might like:

How to Know If You have a God Dream

10 Ways to Quit Comparing

Calling: How to Know If You Have One


Sign up for a FREE 10 Day Devotional on how to overcome approval addiction.



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9 Ways to Love an Addict Even When It Hurts

Trying to love someone in active addiction is hard. Frustrating. It can be downright heart-wrenching.

In fact, apart from God, it is impossible. 

Because here’s the deal, the person you once knew (the sober person) they are gone. You are dealing with someone completely different. Someone who has now decided to partner with darkness and who is in bondage to an ugly, flesh-eating, family-destroying, brain deteriorating drug. That drug has now consumed them, every bit of them: mind, body, and soul. The only thing they now care about is getting their next high, their next fix, their next drunken stupor and who you are and what you meant to them no longer matters.

Trying to love someone in addiction feels about the same as picking a rose from a bush. You know there is beauty at the end of it, but your going to have to go through a whole lot of pain to get there.

As we discussed in last week’s post, you need to be emotionally and spiritually healthy…full of compassion, love, and forgiveness if you are going to have a chance at loving them well. The only way to do that is through the Spirit of God, because it is God who taught us to love in the first place.we-love-because-he-first-loved-usIn Galatians 5, Paul is sharing with the church in Galatia about their freedom and how through their freedom they can either choose to walk by the Spirit or by their flesh. In 5:13 14 he says, “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.  For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

What does it mean to live by the flesh?

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. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21)

Now before we start judging those around us let’s take a look at some of these that related to us loving our neighbors in addiction. Last week we talked about forgiveness because we were angry at the people who are in addiction…that can easily be also viewed as hatred, discord, fits of rage, dissensions, or factions. We also may had to confess our anger with God for what has happened. When we put up anything before our worship of God, we are in the sin of idolatry. Idolizing “little gods” that we put in the place of our Almighty God is truly not hard to do. I know this because I do it. It is also why God made sure to make it second of the 10 Commandments.

So now that we can see that we all fall into one of these categories of walking in the flesh .(I didn’t even get into the other ones…that is another post in and of itself, just remember there are no rankings there. Witchcraft was right next to hatred, and factions came right before drunkenness and orgies. Hello!) Let’s be reminded why it is of utmost importance to have the Spirit of God as we seek to love those in addiction.

The very next verse explains it all:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. (Gal 5:22-23)

Because the fruit we need to bear is from the Spirit of God there is no way to truly love someone unless His Spirit is in us.

In the Galatians 5:22 verse, it says “fruit of the Spirit,” not fruits of the Spirit.

One of the things I love about God is He is can be very mysterious.

When we think of a fruit we think of a singular item. But when He defines “fruit of the Spirit” He multiplies it. So instead of us bearing only one kind of fruit we bear nine.

Because of this I don’t believe the fruit of the Spirit has a specific order to them, one is not greater than another, they are all equal. However, for the purposes of this post, I am going to pull them out one-by-one in a way that will help us all learn how to love our neighbors in addiction.

FIRST FRUIT: SELF-CONTROL

If you are going to love, nah, scratch that, when you are loving someone in active addiction, you are going to have to learn the word, “No.”

So, let’s start there. Repeat after me, “No.” Good, say it again. “No.” One more time like you really mean it. “No.”

Yeah! High-five! How did that feel?

In order for you to love someone in active addiction you will have to set boundaries. And the best way for you to start that is realizing you will have to say, “No.”

Boundaries are good and healthy. God sets up boundaries for us in order to help us, guide us, and set us free. It is just like how we set up boundaries for our children…go to bed by 8, up by 6, don’t eat too much sugar, save your money, don’t touch the hot stove…these are all boundaries we set for our children to help them stay healthy and not endanger themselves…right? Most of the time it’s because Mom/Dad needs rest and a sugar-high kid can drive you nuts , and who needs more Legos to step on, and the stove just hurts, right? You get me? Ok, good.

Boundaries are a form of self-control. By setting up boundaries around us, we are telling others what they can and cannot do. By saying “no” to the person who has chosen alcohol/drugs over your relationship you are communicating to them, “Your destructive choices are not going to determine how I live my life.” When we respond this way we are exhibiting self-control. And in doing so, we are also loving them. We are loving them because we are also no longer enabling them by giving into their every need. When we enable an addict, we can basically start digging thelatishaeditedir grave. The last thing an addict needs is for you to give into everything they ask for because once they know you’ll give it to them, they’ll just keep coming back. if they know you’ll give them money, they will give you every excuse in the book to get more. if you will continuously get them out of jail, not only will you chance losing everything, they’ll continue to make the same poor choices, cause they know someone will always bail them out.

You want to know why addicts continue to cycle in and out of their addiction, in and out of homelessness, in and out of jail? Enabling is a big part of that equation. Exhibiting self-control on your part can help them to hit their rock bottom. From there they can start healing. That in essences, is one of the most loving things you can do.


Enabling = death. Boundaries =life.


SECOND FRUIT: GENTLENESS

How about gentleness?

The definition of gentleness is: Sensitivity of disposition and kindness of behavior, founded on strength and prompted by love.

When an addict is spinning out of control and they are angry at you and the world around them your response in gentleness can disarm them. It gives them less reason to keep responding to you in that manner. It can also restore them and keep them from continuing to sin.

Galatians 6:1 says, ” Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.”

And no one needs you too falling into temptation cause then things just go from bad to worse. In this case, you may not be tempted to use drugs or alcohol, but you may be tempted to get angry right back at them. You may want to use your own set of manipulative techniques to try and get them to stop using. Either way, responding with gentleness is yet another way you can show love to your neighbor in addiction.

THIRD FRUIT: PATIENCE

We live in a society of now. Of have it your way, when you want it, how you want it. And nothing will teach you patience like addiction, I can promise you that. I have driven in snowstorms that should have been a 30 minute trip that took 7 hours and honey, that is NOTHING compared to the patience you’ll need to love someone in active addiction. I can’t tell you anything more than the straight out truth…this is your reality. There are no silver bullets, there is no perfect prayer to pray, fasamberting will change you but I cannot promise it will do anything for them. The only healer I can point you to is Jesus and His timing on this is often way different than ours.

But to exhibit patience you will have to stop trying to control the person and the situation. Trying to control them may even make it worse. You have to let them go. As scary as I know that sounds you have to them let go because the only way for them to ever get clean is if they hit their rock bottom. You don’t know where that bottom is. I don’t know where that bottom is. Only God knows. We need to trust Him with their deliverance. Patience speaks love to an addict because they know loving them can be hard. But when you respond to them with patience, you are saying, “I love you even in the midst of what you are going through and being here for you is more important than what I want for you.”

FOURTH FRUIT: PEACE

Which is why you are also going to have to ask God to give you supernatural peace. A few weeks ago, I talked about how important it is to have peace and suggested how you can obtain it. But here is the gist of it…you don’t have peace because your worry, anxiety and fear are ruling you. And listen sweet Mama, I am talking to you again, with my tender eyes looking at yours, and my hand on your hand…I know why. I know why you worry. It’s because that is your baby and you still see that sweet baby insides the drug that has consumed your child.

But you must remember that sweet baby grew up and starting making their own decisions and forgot all the things you taught them. All they care about right now is them. So just as I explained in my last post that no matter who we are, we are going to have to forgive them, God and yourself, now we need to take care of our hearts and give over that anxiety, worry and fear to God.

 “Do not worry about anything but in everything with prayer and petition, give thanks to God. And the God of peace who surpasses all understanding will guard your heart in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

Because when you are trying so hard to love someone who can no longer conceivably love you back, you need your heart guarded by the only one that can truly protect it. Can I get an Amen?

Guarding your heart with peace is yet another way to love a person in addiction because your peace overflows into their lives. When you are feeling peace, you speak peace into them, you pray peace over them, you respond to them with peace and in doing so, they will start to experience that peace and want it for their own life.

FIFTH FRUIT: FAITHFULNESS

Next up, is faithfulness. You be faithful to that person. You be faithful in prayer. And when you pray you pray for big things, believing big things knowing that you serve a God who is BIG. Ephesians 3:20 speaks so well to this…for He can do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine. Circle that person up in this scripture verse. You dream up who that person will become and you start speaking that over their life. You don’t focus on where they are now but rather where they will be when they are fully restored.

” For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 3:20)

I speak this to the girls we minster to in the jail whenever I get the chance to. You know why? It speaks hope. It reminds them that God already knows what their good works will be, He already prepared them. And I challenge them with this…

“Will you dare to walk in those good works you were already purposed for or will you continue in the lifestyle you are in? Will you choose to allow the devil to continue to steal, kill and destroy (as he has already done so well) or will you choose a life of abundance.”

patienceBut here’s the deal. I have said those words to hundreds of women. But only a few have actually take me up on it. The rest, I am still waiting on. Because being faithful means never giving up on them, it means loving them, even if its from a distance. Faithful means  believing God for their healing,  pursuing them letting them know you are there when they are ready, and most importantly praying for them daily.

Prayer is one of the most powerful tools you have. Do not downplay its effectiveness in this situation. I have pleaded on the behalf of women who relapsed that the Lord would spare her life and if she would not get clean, that she would be placed back in jail. I would beg God to keep her from the grave.

Jail may not be the place that you would want to be, but I can promise you this, when you are stuck in addiction and spiraling out of control, it can feel like the hand of God pulling you out of your pit and saving you from destruction.

We must choose to be faithful through the Spirit as it does not come naturally to us. And as we do, we will show those in active addiction our love for them.

SIXTH FRUIT: KINDNESS

Which brings me to kindness. The Bible says, it’s by His kindness that He calls us to repentance.

Job 6:14 says,  “Anyone who withholds kindness from a friend forsakes the fear of the Almighty. We are to show kindness as He has shown us kindness.

Our kindness, when faced with adversity, draws people to God. Cause it begs the question, “Why?” Why would you show me kindness when I have done these things to you? You cannot show kindness to someone you are angry at. You can’t show kindness to the person who frustrates you. It’s only through the Spirit that you can show kindness to those who are difficult to love. Don’t forget that Job, the author of our verse above was being mocked by his friends for the trials he was going through. This is Job’s response in the midst of that. Can you show kindness in the midst of your trial? Is there someone you can show kindness to who is trying to overcome their addiction?

SEVENTH FRUIT: GOODNESS

And we must point them to the goodness of God. If all you ever do is remind them of His wrath, His discipline, of Hell, you mind as well say your final goodbyes. They will run to the hills and they may never look back. More than anything they need to know that they have a God who loves them regardless of what they have done. One of the ways they can know that is how you show them.

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EIGHTH FRUIT: JOY

Of all the fruit of the Spirit, this one may be the hardest one to exhibit when you are trying to love someone in active addiction. There is absolutely nothing joyful or joy-filled about this situation for anyone involved. In fact, its the exact opposite. It can be down-right heart wrenching to watch someone you love destroy themselves. So why in the world, would I even consider using the fruit of the Spirit with this included in it to explain how we can love people in addiction?

Because you can’t love someone in active addiction in your own strength. It is absolutely physically impossible. In our own strength we will become exhausted, frustrated, angry, depressed, bitter, enraged, lonely, or just completely complacent. I have heard people say that it feels like torture to not know whether or not their loved one is alive or dead.

That is why we need to rely on God. When we do He reveals to us how we are to respond to challenges such as these.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. (James 1:2-3, NIV)

Consider it pure joy?! Really?! Why in the world would we want to consider trials, such as trying to love our neighbors in addiction, as pure joy. Has James lost his mind? I actually think James actually learned a huge spiritual secret in how to live. It’s in the next few verses we see that not only can we learn perseverance (also known as patience…I think we talked about that one already) but James says that we can also become mature and complete, not lacking anything.

James knows something, we can all learn from and that is if we focus in on our situation we’ll find nothing but grief and despair. But if we look beyond it, realizing that it’s not going to change anytime soon, but instead we can change…well, then mayyoull-need-to-choose
be then there is something to this. You and I have to choose to go on, even as our neighbors stay stuck in their addictions. Even as they become more and more destructive. And with those choices, we can choose joy or we can choose sorrow or anger or defeat. But know this: your choice either way will not change their sobriety, but it will determine how you live and whether or not you are capable of truly loving them.

Consider it pure joy….because you will persevere, you will be mature and complete, lacking nothing. Including with it the ability to love.

NINTH FRUIT: LOVE

I’ll let you in on a little secret. I like to save the best things for last. And this piece of our fruit is most certainly the juiciest of all. I know, I know I am contradicting myself. But I can do that, it’s my blog. Here is the proof in the pudding. We cannot love our neighbors in addiction without the Spirit because the Spirit produces love. It’s plain as it can be.

And this love is the greek word “agape” which is a selfless, sacrificial, unconditional love.

Paul could have used one of the other four versions of this word, but he chose the one that he knew spoke of the love of the Father. And that is exactly the kind of love we are to have as well.

Selfless.
Sacrificial.
Unconditional.

This means listening to them, taking time to hear their struggles and empathizing with them, offering them a shoulder to cry on, allowing them to share their hurts, apologizing even when you may not have done anything (not to encourage their behaviors but to let them know you see their pain), apologizing when you have done something.

What if you said, “I am so sorry i have been enabling you all this time, I didn’t realize how hurtful that has been for you to be able to heal and stop using. I am going to do my best to help you make your own decisions and not do things that you can do on your own.”

Loving is putting their emotions before yours, even when you are hurting. Loving is sacrificial in that you would choose to love, over choosing to judge. This does not mean sacrificing EVERYTHING you have to try and save them. Remember there is only ONE SAVIOR and His name is Jesus.

These are the nine fruit of the Spirit and it is with this fruit that we can fully, completely, selflessly, sacrificially, and unconditional love our neighbors in addiction as ourself.

Sometimes when you are too close to the situation, trying to love your neighbor in active addiction can feel like you are inflicting more pain on yourself. What do you do to self-care when loving them gets too hard?

 

 

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Hi I’m Busy! How about you?

Run to a meeting.
Return phone calls.
Respond to emails.
Meet with staff.
Put out “fires.”
Teach a class.

Leading a non-profit like ours, there seems to never be enough hours in the day to get all that we need to done.

But what happens when the busyness of the day becomes more important to us than the reason for our existence. Then what?

This isn’t just true for me and my staff who exist in the non-profit/ministry world, this is true for all of us as human beings. It’s a question we must all ask ourselves. What happens when the busyness of life becomes more important than the people around us? Do we want to be defined by our busyness or by how we loved people?

I had this internal conversation with myself on the way home from a meeting I had in Decatur a couple of weeks ago. When I returned the concept was weighing so heavy on me I felt compelled to share it on ‘Facebook Live’ to see if anyone else was challenged by this idea and I felt convicted to ask forgiveness to those who I had brushed off in my desire to head to the next thing.

If you missed that ‘Facebook Live’ post, you can see it here.

I was very convicted that my identity had been getting caught up in the things that I was putting on my to do list and making sure that other people knew that I was quite busy. I was finding myself caught up in not only telling people how busy I was but, also feeling pride when people would tell me how busy I was. It made me feel important and significant. It meant I had purpose and was needed, right?

Wrong.

You see the more I simmered on that thought the worse I began to feel. I started to realize that all the “stuff” I had to do, though to some extent was important, but not at the sake of relationships. Not when I was missing out on opportunities to love people in Jesus’ name or feel loved by others, diminishing their opportunity to use their gifts to minister as well to me.

 I had realized I was caught up in the doing and was missing the part of the “being.”

By nature, I am a doer. I love to do lists and checking items off of those lists. I like to go from unorganized to organized. To see that I have accomplished something. Even now as I type this blog, it gives me great joy to know that the page is becoming filled with words that hopefully will bring clarity and meaning to someone else besides me. And when the blog post is done, I will mark it off my list and feel accomplished for it.

But here is the thing, if my identity is more caught up in the things that I get done than in the people the Lord is calling me to connect with then I have missed it.

If my busyness causes me to put up walls rather than to build bridges, I have missed it.

If my to do list draws more attention to my accomplishments than brings glory to God, I have missed it.

If others know me for these things and not for my love of God and people, I have missed it. I have missed it. Oh, how I have missed it.

And yet it’s so easy to get to this place. To mix up our priorities and do instead of be.

The world urges us on this way, to hustle. To be the best we can be at whatever we do. To work late and get up early. To fill our days with things to do. To measure our worth by the amount of emails in our inbox or the texts on our phones. But you and I need to ask ourselves a very important question, when we come to the end of our day or even better the end of our lives…do we want those around us to feel loved, valued, and worthy because we saw them, stopped for them, and engaged with them? Or do we want to be known by our accomplishments?

I honestly believe that God cares very little for the things that I have done in the name of busyness. Even if those things help bring about change in His kingdom. I truly believe He is more concerned about how I gave glory to Him in my response to His commands to love Him and love others. Which ends up looking more like being than doing.

Jesus made a point of this when He visited the house of Mary and Martha. Martha was the “doer” of the bunch. There was a bunch of guests at the house and Martha was busy trying to get everything prepared. She had a list of things in her head that needed to get done and was “waiting” for her sister to get in the kitchen and help out.

 Luke 10:38-42 shares their story with us: Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

Martha was caught up in the doing, Mary was caught up in the being. Mary knew where her identity was, completely wrapped up in Jesus.

So I ask the same thing of you, as I am asking to myself…Do you want your life to be known for the sum of your accomplishments or that you loved others well?  I am gong to choose today to do the same as Mary, the one thing that is necessary. The good portion. The being.

How about you? If you find your identity caught up in busyness, I would love it if you would share how you are going to start changing from doing to being?

 

** I found a great blog post by Dr. Christina Hibbert on the addiction of busyness, that you may want to check out. You can find her post, here. Loved her meme, so I used if for my image above.

 

 

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What Happens When Fear Wins?

I got to thinking this past week. What would have happened if I allowed my fears to get the best of me. What is at stake if I choose to avoid the things I feel God leading me to do and let them pass me by?

For the last five weeks we have been talking about how to overcome our fears. Doing so is not easy, but hopefully one you feel a bit more equipped to accomplish. I have one more piece of advice for you before we end this series, but before we get to that let’s take a quick walk back through the main points from the last 5 weeks so we can be sure to receive all God taught us during this time.

Let me remind you that this is an on-going process and you are going to need to exhibit patience and perseverance through it. The reality is that we will always have another fear to overcome, another area of our life that God wants us to gain freedom in so that we can live our lives to the full, as He wants us to do according to John 10:10.

So let’s walk through what we learned through this series on overcoming our fears:

First we talked through how we can overcome our fears with peace by praying through Philippians 4:6-7 which says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

It is through this verse that we can know that our God is full of peace and that peace can guard our hearts against worry, anxiety and fear to help us overcome any situation we are walking through.

Second, we learned how to surrender our need for control, which can only intensify our fears. Jeremiah 29:11 was our guide for this post and it reminded us that God is in control and has the very best plans in mind for us, plans not to harm us to give us hope and a future. We learned how to follow a few steps in the process of surrendering by repenting, renewing our mind, releasing, and obeying God.

Next we talked about how important it is to have an on-going relationship with God and to be in the Bible everyday to be able to overcome your fears. Joshua 1:7-9 which reads, “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” reminded us that the only way we were going to be able to be strong and courageous is if we get into God’s word and get it in our mind and in our hearts.

The fourth week we learned how to fight and whom our fight was against. We were reminded that the devil likes to scheme against us as he is constantly plotting and planning his next move. But we are not left without a way to fight back. Ephesians 6:12-17 reminds us who our enemy is, powers and principalities of darkness, and the armor that we need to put on to fight against that enemy. I hope you are now starting to pray that armor on every day, Warrior. If you are going to stand firm, which I know you can, you’re going to need this as a daily habit to withstand whatever it is your enemy throws at you.

Then last week we all got a gut check when we realized we need to quit complaining about our fears over lack of provision. I shared Psalm 116:17 as the antidote “I will sacrifice a thank-offering to you and call on the name of the Lord.” In that we need to give thank offerings. How many found yourself complaining this week and switched to thanks and praise instead? The struggle is real; I know it, my friend.

So now you are armed with five scripture verses that I hope you are starting to outline, study, memorize and get into your heart. That way when the enemy starts coming at you with all the reasons you should be afraid, you have got a contingency plan of scripture verses you can say recite to show how powerful YOU are.

So here is my last bit of advice for you as you seek to overcome your fears. I learned very early on in my process of following God’s vision now called “The Link of Cullman County” that more often than not the only way I was going to overcoming my fear was to do the thing I was most afraid of doing. Which meant, I could not allow the fear to win.

To highlight my point to you today we are going to go into the book of Nehemiah. Nehemiah was a Jewish prophet during a time in which Jerusalem was in ruin. He served as a cup-bearer to King Artaxerxes (Neh 1:11b), in a foreign land. We learn very quickly his heart for his people as his brother shares with him that the city of Jerusalem has been “broken down and its gates have been burned with fire.” (Neh 1:3) Nehemiah’s response is one to be admired.

“When I heard these things, I sat down and wept, for some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.” (Neh 1:4) See what I mean? When was the last time you wept, mourned, fasted, and prayed for several days over something that God broke your heart over? Yeah. Me too.

Next, he prayed one of the most beautiful prayers in scripture. And then he waited. (If you have not read Nehemiah it is definitely a book in the Bible you want to study.)

The reality was he had no other choice. Nehemiah had no power or authority to do anything about the city that had him heartbroken. He was in service to a king who did not have the same beliefs as him, didn’t care about the things he cared about and did not worship the same God he worshipped. In fact, the only things they had in common was their humanity and the place they lived.

Nehemiah was stuck. He lived in one place and his heart longed to be in another.

And it apparently started to show. About four months later, the king asked him why he looked so sad, as he knew he was not ill. “This can be nothing but sadness of heart.” (v. 2)

And then came the response that we all need to hear. The thing that separates those that do AMAZING and BIG things for God compared to those who completely miss out. This one line changed everything for Nehemiah and it can change everything for you.

I was very much afraid, but I said to the king, ‘May the king live for ever! Why should my face not look sad when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire.” (v. 2b-3)

Did you catch it? Nehemiah said, “I was very much afraid, but…” Oh and don’t leave off the “but.” The “but”, shows he took action. He did it even though he was very afraid. Just like you and me Nehemiah, the man who would go on to rebuild Jerusalem, the prophet who now has his own dedicated book of the bible, was afraid. And not just afraid, he was VERY afraid. Does that not give you comfort?

SO here’s the main point that I want to make sure I get across to you in all of this. If you want to do the thing that God is calling you to do, you are going to have to be willing to do it AFRAID. That’s right.

Do it afraid.

But make sure you follow God’s prescription for Nehemiah with this:

  1. If God lays something on your heart that feels bigger than you you need to repent, pray, fast, and mourn.
  2. Keep praying over it; don’t give up.
  3. Have patience. It was four months before God opened the door for Nehemiah to share with the king.
  4. Do it afraid.

How do I know this works? You only have to look a few lines down in Nehemiah to see. The King responded to him.

“What is it you want?” (v.4)

He did not scold Nehemiah. He didn’t tell him to keep is opinions to himself. He didn’t send him to jail or to his death. He asked him what he needed. And Nehemiah laid it all out for him. “Letters for travel and letters to get timber.” (my paraphrase)

The king not only gave him what he requested but he also gave him army officers and cavalry to ensure his safety. WHAT?! Only God could do something like this for Nehemiah, and only God can do something like this for you.

You see when you pray into that thing that feels bigger than you and do what He is calling you to, even when you are afraid, God does the impossible. (Luke 18:27)

How else do I know this to be true? Because I lived it.

God gave me a vision for my city in December of 2010 that broke my heart and left me wanting more. It wasn’t until October of 2011 that He revealed to me it was time to start the work of bringing the vision into fruition. Day by day I learned to trust and obey him by doing whatever it was He laid on my heart to do…and I did it VERY afraid. Seriously, I was petrified. And little by little God started to open up doors with the people I needed to see and speak with in order to accomplish the thing He had called me to do. I can tell you now that the best thing I ever did, was choose to “do it afraid.” In fact, I would suggest to you today, I don’t have a choice anymore. Now that we are heading to the end of our fourth year as an organization, the only way we continue on is if I continue to do things afraid. There is too much at stake.

But what if I chose to not do the thing I am afraid of? What if I decided to let fear win? Then what?

Well, let’s put this into perspective for a moment in relation to my experience. You may want to consider your own, but what if I didn’t trust God and do the things He called me to do because I was too afraid?

What if I was too afraid to talk to bank presidents, our Wise Up financial literacy program for teens would not be in every school in the Cullman Area. For the past four years, thousands students would not have been equipped to make wise decisions with their money as they moved on from the 9th and 12th grade. Many of them would not be breaking generational poverty in their families as they are doing now.

What if I was too afraid to ask to ask a church council for the use of their building for free we would not been able to minster to thousands of people who were hopeless, helpless, homeless, jobless, illiterate and afraid. And this is a big one, because had I been too afraid to ask once I would never have asked a second time for a building significantly larger than the first. And we would not be renovating a 22,000 sq foot building compared to the 1800 sq feet in the first.

What if I was too afraid to talk to City Council we would not have been able to partner with Cullman Mental Health to receive joint funding to help place homeless men and families into housing for the first few years. And they also would not have been willing to fund us once we received our 501c3.

What if I was too afraid to share the gospel with women in the jail? Someone else would have received the blessing of ushering them into the kingdom of God and I would have missed out.

What if I was too afraid to talk in front of large groups of people? I would have never have gone to the jail and shared with the men and women in the dorms our vision for hope and their opportunities for classes. And many inmates would not be equipped to live life differently through the many classes we have taught at the jail. I also would never have shared our vision with churches, civic groups, students, and over 10,000 people at Rock the South!

And the most important of all of these is what if I was too afraid to trust Him at all, then over 7,000 people would not have had the their lives transformed through the vision my team and I steward every day. Including myself.

You see, there is just too much at stake for me and there is too much at stake for you.

So do it afraid, don’t let fear win. No matter what it is. And I promise you, God will bless it and you will see the vision He has laid on your heart come to fruition.You will become a walking example of John 10:10, living the life that Jesus came to give you…to the full.

Which blog post in this “Overcoming Fear” series over the last 6 weeks has meant the most to you? Why?