Sunday, October 01, 2006

Every Heart Has A History

Week 4 of “Life Is Too Short To Be Wasted Being Mad, Angry & Emotionally Wrecked

Every heart has a mystery. The mystery of your history as some say. I want to learn to be more attentive to the history of my heart and allow the Holy Spirit to access the wounds, the shame, the fear, the unbelief, etc. Invite God to address you before the moments of testing and confrontation arise. Say the same thing he says about that attitude, that unbelief. Think and act differently, in a way consistent with God's truth. Then you will overflow with blessing rather than bitterness, life rather than death, hope instead of despair.

We must get outside of ourselves to a larger world. You and I can move from, “how can I get rid of my suffering” to “how can I make it an occasion for growth and insight?”

Wounds might just happen but healing doesn’t. I’ve been cut or injured almost every way possible. But there really is only one way to stop bleeding, apply pressure and bandage. Sometimes you need antibiotics for infection. You must seek these out- they don’t just happen.

"We cannot make it rain, but we can see to it that the rain falls on prepared soil." Henri Nouwen

Our job is to get the soil ready for the rain of God’s blessings.

You can't change what you don't acknowledge. That means we keep coming back to it- emotional health. We don't allow each other to live without its consideration and practice in our lives. We look at the issues we face in light of it. We make a commitment refuse to keep denying the emotional part of our life and how it impacts our spiritual life.

Chuck Smith Sr. & Chuck Smith Jr.
"He wasn't present emotionally, even if he was present physically. To hear him speak, you just get the impression this is such a warm and intimate person, but the closer you got to him, the more you'd realize he really didn't have those intimacy skills."

Everyone deserves a healthy upbringing.

All families are dysfunctional at some level. The question becomes

How do we cope with our dysfunctionality?”

Bill Wilson was the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous. For that accomplishment, Time magazine named Wilson one of the Top 100 People of the 20th century. But Wilson never found freedom from his addictive behavior. One author noted that, "Despite his victory over drink, Wilson remained incurably addictive. He chain-smoked himself into terminal emphysema. Even on his death bed, he puffed incorrigibly as he suffocated."

Wilson did not drink for the last 37 years of his life, and yet he always craved alcohol. "As he lay dying and semi-delirious, he repeatedly demanded whiskey."Back in 1951, Wilson wrote, "Any way you look at it, it's a problem world." Although he battled the problem of alcohol addiction, he gave in to other obsessions. Wilson was serially unfaithful to his long-suffering wife, Lois. He had innumerable affairs and a long-term mistress with whom he contemplated eloping to Ireland.

Our past will continue to hamstring us emotionally and spiritually until we get serious and deal with it. Some of it has profoundly affected how we see God.

In his book Reversing Thrust: A Backward Step Into Manhood, Carl Hershey writes, “I suspect there is little of importance compared to a father’s love for his children and the love he shares with the mother of his children. I doubt there is a child alive today, infant or aged, who doesn’t yearn for his father’s blessing.”

Hershey says, “I never felt like my father loved me!”

He had to come to terms with that, but it took him seven years to let go of thirty-two years of hurt. But that day finally came.

“I wept with a force I never knew; a grown man, a little boy; a person who spent a lifetime fighting against his father’s humiliations. I wept for all the years of pain, for all the things I never knew, and for all the confusion I ever felt. I wept for all the wasted years, for energy spent needlessly on my father, and for the empty cup remaining in my hand.”

Hershey says, “That’s when my life finally took flight, finding freedom from entrapments in the past.”

A part of that freedom was the abiltiy to finally see God as the loving Father he is, not an angry stand in for our dad. Hershey says his flawed earthly father taught him things about God that were not true to the loving nature of his heavenly Father. "I always believed in God, or I wanted to," he says. However, the author notes that he also had a sense of God in which, "he was always too busy for me, or I was just never quite good enough to measure up to his standards."

In retrospect, Hershey realized his image of God had become distorted. "As I worked through my relationship with my father I began to understand how I had projected my understanding of my father onto my heavenly father."

Hershey says he had to relearn things and change his previously formed perceptions in order to gain a better relationship with both his earthly and his heavenly father.

Reversing Thrust excerpt

In a USA Today article from this week a survey uncovered four conceptions of God that held more sway than any denominations.

The Authoritarian God is angry at humanity's sins and engaged in every creature's life and world affairs. He is ready to throw the thunderbolt of judgment down on "the unfaithful or ungodly,"

The Benevolent God still sets absolute standards for mankind in the Bible. More than half want the government to advocate Christian values.

But this group, which draws more from mainline Protestants, Catholics and Jews, sees primarily a forgiving God, more like the father who embraces his repentant prodigal son in the Bible.
They're inclined to say caring for the sick and needy ranks highest on the list of what it means to be a good person.

"God is in control of everything. He's grieved by the sin of the world, by any created person who doesn't follow him. But I see (a) God ... who loves us, who sees us for who we really are. We serve a God of the second, third, fourth and fifth chance."

The Critical God has his judgmental eye on the world, but he's not going to intervene, either to punish or to comfort.

"This group is more paradoxical. They have very traditional beliefs, picturing God as the classic bearded old man on high. Yet they're less inclined to go to church or affiliate seriously with religious groups. They are less inclined to see God as active in the world. Their politics are definitely not liberal, but they're not quite conservative, either."

The Distant God is "no bearded old man in the sky raining down his opinions on us," Bader says. Followers of this God see a cosmic force that launched the world, then left it spinning on its own.

Atheists have their own category because they deny any God, distant or otherwise.

The most important thing about a person is what that person thinks about God. A. W. Tozer

Tarzan’s first law of the jungle: “You have to let go of the vine you’re on to grab the one that’s swinging your way.” What are you clinging to from the past that keeps you from moving forward?

These early experience can also have dramatic effects on sense of self-esteem.

What are you holding onto?

Virginia Satir and the three-S pot.

"Low pot and high pot" refers to an imaginary black cauldron at your front door. It holds whatever it is that makes us feel good -- self-esteem, self-worth or energy or motivation or feeling up. When you are exhausted, all of your energy, feeling of self-worth and positive feeling is gone. When you've used it up and there is no more. Satir says you are feeling "low pot." What can you do but fill the pot up again before you can go on? You must sleep, eat, recreate, and get support from someone who cares about you and believes in you. Someone needs to be filling that pot with good feelings so that you can draw from it again.

All of the experiences we’ve had have shaped us. We didn’t often have a choice in the circumstances, but we always had and have a choice in our response. When we haven’t dealt with our past, we often fail to see alternatives in our responses to difficulties.

The best ‘low pot” example I can think of is George Costanza

“I come from a long line of pastors. My great-grandfather was converted through Charles Spurgeon’s historic ministry in London and came to the United States as a pioneer circuit-riding pastor. Both my father and my father-in-law were pastors and spent more than 50 years in ministry. My sister is married to a pastor, and I spent part of my childhood growing up on a seminary campus where my father served on staff.” Rick Warren

"Why did it all turn out like this for me? I had so much promise. I was personable. I was bright. Oh, maybe not academically speaking, but I was perceptive. I always know when someone's uncomfortable at a party. It all became very clear to me sitting out there today, that every decision I've ever made in my entire life has been wrong. My life is the complete opposite of everything I want it to be. Every instinct I have in every aspect of life, be it something to wear, something to eat... It's often wrong." George Costanza

"Yeah, I'm a great quitter. It's one of the few things I do well. I come from a long line of quitters. My father was a quitter, my grandfather was a quitter... I was raised to give up." George

Do those guys have some physical similarities? I think they’re of similar age. One seems to have too much purpose while the other lacks any.

Journal to get your deepest feelings out.

“Are you with me?” But you say, “It’s one more thing. I cannot think about doing one more thing.” And that’s true. You might need to download something to create enough space to process these truths. Or you might need to download something to create enough space to allow another person in your life the opportunity to help walk you through them.

Who has suffered your failures?

Who has offered you resurrection hope?

Draw from the power of your brokenness. Like Jacob who wrestled with God and walked away with a limp. Or Moses, who murdered someone only to become the liberator of Israel under God.

"The game of life is a game of boomerangs. Our thoughts, deeds and words return to us sooner or later with outstanding accuracy." Florence Schovel

How do we cope with our dysfunctionality?

Find out what’s in your pot. Which S-season are you in? Is it low or high?

Discover our story. Feel our story. Tell our story to those who will listen with love and grace and truth. Listen to what God would tell us about our story.

There are opportunities with a group of men, see Bob. Or a group of women- see Bev. Or amongst your current friendship circle.

Resurrection has the power to change our past: failures, mistakes, sins and regrets.

Philippians 3:10-11
I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!

Ephesians 1:19-20
I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God's power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God's right hand in the heavenly realms.

Colossians 2:13-14
You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross.

Philippians 3:14
Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead,

Exodus 8:9-10
Moses said to Pharaoh, ‘Kindly tell me when I am to pray for you and for your officials and for your people, that the frogs may be removed from you and your houses and be left only in the Nile.’ And he said, ‘Tomorrow.’

Don’t spend one more night with the frogs!


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