Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Are You An Island of Isolation?

Are you the type of person that when you are going through something in your life that is really tough, you tend to push others away?  For me it depends on what it is.  For example if it I had cancer, it wouldn't be hard for me to let others know and to receive their help. However, when I had an eating disorder, I felt guilty, embarrassed and ashamed so I didn't want anyone to know.  So the worse things got with my eating disorder the more I tried to hide and push people away.  I may not have pushed them away physically but emotionally my relationships became very shallow and few knew what was really going on in my life. I was an emotional island who had very few visitors.

WHY? Bottom line: FEAR.  Fear of judgement. Fear of what other people might think. Fear of letting others down. Fear of failure. Fear of rejection. Fear of being held accountable. Fear of hurting others.

Sometimes it seems easier to be an island.  In a way I thought I was protecting myself but really I was hiding. It felt lonely, empty and isolated.  The enemy likes us to be isolated because we are cut off from the body of Christ. It is much easier to get us to believe lies about ourselves and act on them if we have no one who is challenging how we are thinking. 

Lets look at what Scripture says about isolation

God intended for us to live life with others and to help each other with our struggles.
o   Genesis 2:18 “The LORD God said “it is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
o   Ecclesiastes 4:12 “A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated but two can stand back to back and conquer.”
o   Hebrews 10:24-25 “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching”.
·      The body does not function if different parts are isolated or disconnected
o   1 Corinthians 12:20-21 “As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand “I don’t need you! And the hand cannot say to the feet, I don’t need you”.
·      Isolation can open us up to spiritual attack especially when our thoughts go unchecked
o   Proverbs 18:1 “Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgement"
·      Jesus retreated into solitude to be with God. 
o   Mark 1:35 “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed”.
o   Matthew 14:23 “After he has sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain, by Himself to pray and when it was evening, He was there alone”.

From these verses we learn that time spent alone with God in solitude is Biblical, refreshing, and restorative.  However, time spent in isolation brings anxiety, depression, loneliness, and fear.

But once you are already on an island, how do you get off?  You need help. You have to share your struggle with someone.  That might sound scary but you don't have to start telling everyone you meet saying "Hi, I'm Jen. I have an eating disorder. Could you tell me what time it is?" That is not what God intended either. 

Beloved. Stop hiding. Find someone you trust. Share with them what is going on. Get off that island!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Anthony Brown: Worth

Singer/song writer Anthony Brown and Group Therapy have recently come out with a song that I thought was so powerful and I want to share it with you.

The lyrics are
You thought I was worth saving, so you came into my life
You thought I was worth keeping, so you cleaned me up inside
You thought I was to die for, so you sacrificed your life
So I could be clean
So I could be whole
So I could tell everyone I know

Beloved, this is a glimpse into how God sees you and how much He loves you!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Sheep In Need Of A Shepherd

I learned something about sheep today.  I have been reading Phillip Keller's book, A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23.  He takes this well-known Psalm and helps his reader to see it through a new lens; through the eyes of a shepherd.  Most of us aren't familiar with the nomadic life of a shepherd, leading a flock through a barren land in search of food and water and all that entails.  But people back then had an understanding of that life.  Keller's insights help to give us a better context of what is really trying to be conveyed through this psalm.  

In Psalm 23:2 it says " He makes me lie down in green pastures".  Did you know that sheep won't lie down unless four requirements are met?  They must be
  1. Free of fear
  2. Free of friction within their own flock
  3. Free of parasites or pests
  4. Free of hunger
The only thing that can offer them freedom from these distractions is their owner and caretaker, their shepherd.  

When these needs are not met the flock is restless, discontented, agitated and disturbed.  The same is true for people.  When we are not free of these distractions we are not contented.  We can't lie down and rest. 

Do you find it hard to rest?  Look at the four items listed above and see if you can find the source of your unrest.  Maybe you're afraid of gaining weight?  Maybe you have a strained relationship that causes you to turn to eating behaviors to numb the pain?  Maybe you are fixated on recurring or disagreeable experiences that bug you, but keep you distracted?  Maybe you deny yourself the food your body needs causing you to try and satisfy your gnawing hunger by other means?

Listen to all God, as your Shepherd, does for you as described by Phillip Keller:

"He works to clear the life of rocks of stony unbelief. He attempts to break up the hard proud human heart that is set like sun-dried clay. He then sows the seed of His own precious Word, which, if given half a chance to grow, will produce rich crops of contentment and peace. He waters this with the dews and rain of His own presence by the Holy Spirit. He tends and cares and cultivates the life, longing to see it become rich and green and productive." (page 55)

That is how our God, our Shepherd, works in our lives.  Despite the billions of people on the earth, He carefully and lovingly does this for each one of us, for YOU!  Run to Him.  Cling to Him.  He is waiting for you. 

Let the Words of Psalm 23 wash over you

1  The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
    He leads me beside the still waters.
3 He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness
    For His name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
    I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
    You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; 
    And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.