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Tag Archives: 2 corinthians 10:5

5 Ways to Defeat an Insecurity Problem

5 Ways to Defeat an Insecurity ProblemIf you ever want to know what insecurities are on a magnified level, spend one day sitting at a middle school lunch table. The cattiness, the put-down behavior, the one-upmanship: It’s a hot mess of growing humans who aren’t fully sure of their identities yet, and, feeling under a microscope as if the entire world is looking, they lash out at everything and everyone to find their place in the pecking order. It’s human sorting on steroids. Where do I fit in? Who are my friends?

Don’t get me wrong. I love middle school students. My husband and I teach the middle school and early high school crowd in Sunday School. They can be deep thinkers and amazing communicators—but we see them in a safe setting where they can be themselves and share from their hearts.

I know several of them face open hostility and negativity Monday through Friday from the minute they get to their bus stops to the minute they arrive home. While there are amazing growth points in middle school, I have always said that if you can survive middle school mostly intact, you can get through almost anything.

Personally, I’m delighted to have two children already through the murky, turbulent waters of middle school. I hold my breath as one more child goes through. And while middle schoolers get a bad rap from this kind of behavior, the truth is: Some folks struggle with this into adulthood. Insecurities can be slithery snakes that chokehold us from experiencing joy and hope for the future.

Let’s take a brief look at the damage our own insecurities can do. They can lead us to: Read the rest of this entry »

 

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Where Fear Tries to Tread

Where Fear Tries to TreadMy 9 year old Little Man and I were out waiting for the bus, watching Bobo the Smith Lawn Chipmunk scuttling around in our front wooded area. He was eating and storing things in his little cheeks.

Little Man was fascinated for quite some time, but then he
said: “Mom, what if a snake gets him today?”

And isn’t that a sign of how we all mature from our innocence and learn the darker side of the world? When fear creeps in where we used to prance about with untainted optimism?

Don’t we all so quickly “go there” in our minds and hearts? Fear is always crouching. Darkness always wants us to think it wins.

2 Timothy 1:7, ESV, Apostle Paul speaking 

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

It’s interesting that the King James Version uses the word “sound mind” instead of “self-control.” It suggests to me we are given the tools in Christ to put our minds where they should be. Our minds don’t have to be tossing about at the whims of our fears. We are given the power and love to keep them sound, safe from the torment of crippling “what ifs.”

What if:

  • The chemo doesn’t work?
  • We never work through this conflict?
  • S/he leaves me?
  • S/he never learns to read?
  • We can’t pay for college?
  • They never learn to live on their own?
  • I fail?
  • The car dies before we can afford to replace it?
  • We never sell this house?
  • There’s a car accident?
  • S/he never comes home?
  • I never get well?
  • We die before the kids are raised?
  • I lose this job?

Read the rest of this entry »

 

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When Negative Voices Knock on Our Door

 When Negative Voices Knock on Our Door

To begin, I want to ask us all a question: Do we feel we have to answer the door every time there is a knock or doorbell ring?

If I’m not expecting someone, I don’t always answer, especially if answering means grabbing a robe, hurrying out of the bathroom, or interrupting something going on that needs my full attention. I will fully disclose that I’m not much of a phone or drop-in visitor person; however, if a knock sounds urgent, I usually make an attempt to answer it. Otherwise, I don’t feel I have to get to it just because it’s a noise beckoning me. Same thing with the phone ringing.

So, I got to thinking:

Why do we feel we have to entertain negative voices when they come along?

Why do we let them in, help them take their shoes off, hang up their coats, and invite them to take up space in our living rooms?

Why do we mislead them into thinking they are welcomed and may cross our threshold any time that suits them?

Fear.

We are often afraid:

  • to offend
  • to lose the relationship
  • to not meet expectation
  • to hurt someone without meaning to
  • to deal with repercussions from anger

But I would like to suggest it’s dishonest to let them (the negativity, not necessarily the person) in unless we plan to join them (and I surely hope we don’t). I also think it’s easier to be passive and open the door.

It takes courage and action to say: “No, we’re not going to go there. That is not a place you may make commentary or cast judgment upon,” or “It’s lovely to see you, but rejection, disrespect, and discouragement are not on the menu today. What else would you like to talk about?”

I have been pondering this quite a bit recently as several friends shared some relational struggles they were having with others. We all have them. These were my thoughts:

Boundaries aren’t for shutting people out, but they are defined as being unwilling to remain in dysfunctional, dishonoring patterns, but simultaneously inviting the other person to come along and engage in—or at first learn—new, healthy patterns of relating. We can invite people to get on that train, but we cannot make them ride it.

Now, this all sounds like I have this under control and sit above everyone else doling out boundaries right and left. Quite the contrary. I learn much from those who have drawn them for me over time. Sometimes, their boundaries may be out of over-self-protection, but I still need to observe them. At other times, lines drawn in the sand for me have at least indicated where the relationship could or could not go.

Boundaries are like navigational tools to help us know how to relate better with someone. They provide a map of safe topics and interactions and clue us in, if we’re willing to listen, to where we should and should not tread. If we’re careful about communicating, our boundaries should do the same for others.

But, bringing it back to negative voices: We don’t have to allow them. Plenty of naysaying goes on in our lives every day—some of it constructive but much of it destructive. When people want to go down Toxic Alley with us, we don’t have to permit it. In fact, they are often looking for us to provide some guardrails for the relationship, and if we don’t, they are like children who don’t know the rules in their own homes: insecure and lost. Not only that, by being passive, we give negativity permission to come in and stay a while. Once it gets in the door, it often takes over the relationship, gets into our heads and hearts, and hijacks everything that could be good or constructive.

That doesn’t mean we shut the person (or people) out, necessarily—just the behaviors that are destructive.

This can also be true when nobody real is knocking at the door…only our own negative voices from the past. I write a lot about this in Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New DayWhatever we have let in and made welcomed will keep coming back. Guaranteed. When we swirl around in negative thinking, we’ve already let the first thought in the door and offered it a cup of coffee.

So, how do we stop the madness inside our minds and hearts? The perseverating? Bitter chewing? Stewing in ugly thoughts of insecurity, misunderstanding, misconceptions, wrong assumptions? How do we stop them at the door?

We don’t let them in.

Just because negative voices knock on our doors, bang into our minds, and try to take up space in our hearts,

we do not have to let them in.

Here are some answers I draw from my faith in Christ and His redemptive work on the cross. The first selection talks about how not to be anxious (bring it!). Really, doesn’t negative thinking contribute to anxiety, and vice versa? It’s an ever-hungry beast.

What’s the remedy for stopping negative thoughts and voices at the door?

Rejoice.

Let your requests be made known to God.

The peace of God will guard your hearts and your minds.

Think about good things.

Take every thought captive to obey Christ.

God gave us a spirit of self-control (sound mind).

We need to ask Him to help us do this. These are His promises for those who believe in Him.

Negativity will keep knocking on our doors. It’s part of what tries to invade and keeps our focus off the love of our Savior. There will always be a battle there: either from others or within our own selves.

But we now have a loving answer—one with structure, safety, boundaries, healthy relating, and a Savior who spread His arms out on a cross as His pledge and promise to always help us defeat the dark things that plague us.

Why?

Because He’s already defeated them.

And He’s got our backs.

Philippians 4:4-9, Apostle Paul speaking, ESV
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

2 Corinthians 10:5, Apostle Paul speaking, ESV
We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.

2 Timothy 1:7, Apostle Paul speaking, ESV
For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control*.

*The King James Version says “sound mind” for “self-control.”

**This blog has been shared at any link highlighted here: Mom 2 Mom Monday Link-Up, Make a Difference Mondays, Testimony Tuesday, Women With Intention WednesdaysGrace & Truth, A Little R & R, RaRa Link-Up, Me, Coffee & Jesus, Dance With Jesus, Blessing Counters, Coffee & Conversation, Saturday Soiree, Tell His Story, Find Stability, So Much at Home, Faith-Filled Fridays, Reflect His Love and Glory Link-Up, Bonbon ‘n Coffee Linkup, and Christian Mommy Blogger.

 

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Keeping the Strength in Our Lattes—and Character!

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A dear friend of mine recently met me for coffee and delighted me with a “publishing congrats” gift: a coffee-bean-shaped ice cube tray to keep some iced espresso on hand so that when I chill out my iced white pumpkin mochas at home, my ice cubes will offer espresso instead of watering down my coffee joy. If you’ve read a blog or two so far, you probably know how much coffee and I get along. We are companions of the sweetest sort. The sounds of my coffee machine grinding beans and whirring foam in the morning really do motivate me to not just go straight back to bed after the school buses roll away.

So, as proud as I am to have these awesome ice cubes keeping the coffee strength and love fully rocking my espresso drinks, I started thinking about how much we each need to keep the strength in our character. What does that look like? How do we do that? Where can we improve (because we all can)? Some of the things that make me question someone else’s character are exactly what I should be keeping in check in mine (your list may be different, but this is mine):

Gossip
Critical spirit/negativity
Lies
Malice
Sneakiness/deceit
Passive-aggressive behavior
Conflict-avoidance (which is different than drawing boundaries in toxic situations)
Favoritism (preferential treatment of certain groups of people over others)
A need to control/dominate
Selfishness or chronic self-absorption
Anger/bitterness that shows a lack of self-control
A competitiveness that is so extreme it hurts people to get to the top
Taking advantage/using people
Fair-weather friendship
Jealousy
Manipulation

So, when I think about this list, I consider how frequently:

  • I try to steer my kids away from attitudes that come too close to the extreme negative end of the spectrum where you find these traits.
  • I tend to look for friendships that don’t lean heavily in these directions.
  • I desire to right or improve places in myself that veer too close to these characteristics.

I think about how we each have seasons of life where, of course, we are more angry, self-absorbed, bitter, tempted to lie or criticize. The tendencies are human. But if we stay stuck in these places and don’t work on leaving them—and don’t ask God to help us find our way out—we end up perpetually circling the drain, unable to un-do who we’ve become a ways down from our initial stroll at the start of Negative Lane.

Maybe last year nobody would have defined us as bitter or critical, but this year we are the poster child, and people are heading the other direction?

Maybe we have a few close friends willing to keep a hand out for us to grab, but everyone else is running for the hills?

When this happens, we need help.

The Bible says the fruit of the Spirit is:

Galatians 5:22-26, Apostle Paul speaking, ESV
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

That’s lovely, and it truly is an awesome way to live, but if we’re currently chomping regularly on the bitter apple, how do we get from the opposite of “Spirit fruit” to a life that bears that positive fruit, that draws people toward peace and hope instead of offering them darkness? How do we get back into the Light?

Good friendships hold us accountable. Trusted people in our lives can call us out and lovingly remain alongside us as we try to find fresh air again. But Who and what has the power to turn us around, to change us?

Prayer. Asking God’s help (conversation with God, which is prayer). If you put your faith and hope in Christ, confessing your need for Him as your Savior, you have the Holy Spirit within you. “Keeping in step with the Spirit” means to listen to how He guides us.

Romans 12:2-3, Apostle Paul speaking, ESV
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.

Paul talks about not conforming to the world. The world—the news being one example—shows us darkness all of the time. It’s easy to take up residence with parts of it and become regular companions. It’s also easy to think of ourselves as “more highly than [we] ought to think.” That is often what is behind a critical spirit.

2 Corinthians 10:5, Apostle Paul speaking, ESV
We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.

We have to regularly ask God to cleanse our hearts, to remind us to practice thankfulness, and to take each of our negative thoughts captive and submit them to bow to the reign of Christ in our lives.

For me, asking God to purify my heart is like asking Him to take the watery ice cubes that weaken who I am and replace them with His strength. I like my lattes strong, for sure, but even more so, I love my character strong in Christ. And the only way to do that is to ask Him to take me out of the muck and mire and give me His heart.

How about you?

Psalm 26:2-7, King David speaking, ESV
Prove me, O LORD, and try me; test my heart and my mind.
For your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in your faithfulness.
I do not sit with men of falsehood, nor do I consort with hypocrites.
I hate the assembly of evildoers, and I will not sit with the wicked.
I wash my hands in innocence and go around your altar, O LORD,
proclaiming thanksgiving aloud, and telling all your wondrous deeds. 

More on how to renew our minds and live more days outside of the negativity whirlpool than inside can be found in Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day.

 

 

 

 

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