Critical Spirit. The Little Things. Relational Injuries.

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Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way. – Romans 14:13

 

At times we don’t feel respected.

At times we don’t feel being cared for.

At times we stepped on the other person’s feelings.

At time we brushed each other the wrong way.

At times unkind words lashed out heedlessly hurtful and regretted later.

At times we get disappointed.

 

Crowded schedules. Money pressures. Communication problems. Midlife crises. Emotionally inaccessiblity. Insecurities. Fears.

And there’s never time to talk. Disconnected.

When you do talk, frustrations stirred instead.

Our own share of human frailties in one way or another irritate the other. All those little things sank your heart like the Titanic.

Difficulties in relationships arise out of unresolved relational hurts, whether intentionally or unintentionally, and when they are not dealt with, those little things become issues themselves. Eventually, they grow to become relational injuries.

 

The 7-key checklist of relational injuries:

1. Acceptance in love or expectation?

(a) What is your expectation of the other person whom you are relating to?

(b) Has your expectations get too much in the way?

(c) When he/ she failed to meet your expectations, do you withdraw?

 

All of us are made different, and grow differently as well, the first step is learning to discover “What do you want?” When you let your expectations get too much in the way, it may pave the way to idolatry in your heart. When you truly love someone, you accept the person as who he/she is, not what you think he/she has to be. Remember, no one is perfect, including yourself. Even God loves and accept the way you are but, He is not done with our flaws yet. Acceptance comes with true love.

“Accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory” (Romans 15:7 NLT, second edition).

 

2. Responding in love or rejection?

(a) Have you been sensitive with your words and actions?

(b) How do you responded to someone even when you feel lousy?

(c) What is your language of love?

As a picture says a thousand words, so do your words and actions painted that as much. It is often contradictory why you can be patient, gentle, kind and understanding to the people who are not close or dear to your heart, but you often the “ugly split-personality” when you are with your loved ones- you are not so patient, you get angry and upset, you often lashed out unkind words, you get frustrated easily and you feel unappreciative towards them and they often get your cold shoulders. Have you ever paused for a moment the emotional injuries you have done? Consider why your dear ones have been a “punching sandbag” than a “hugging pillow” to you, it makes a whole world of difference when you spend time to share what is bothering you than to throw them around like cold turkeys. Just as you thought the other person is disconnected, chances are you, yourself probably haven’t been emotionally accessible either!

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. – Ephesians 4:2

 

3. Finger-pointing to edify or tear down?

(a) Do you always point out the other person’s faults more than you readily label your own?

(b) Have you first seek to understand the whole situation and put yourself in the other person’s shoes?

(c) Do you demand changes from the other person?

The attitude of “That’s your problem, not mine!” is deceptive- don’t you have a part to play too? Put yourself in a scenario in a court room where you stand in as a prosecution witness in a difficult case. During cross-examinations by the Defence Attorney (DA), he will try all ways and means to pull you down by finger-arrowing your credibility and character flaws, the more you tried to defend yourself, the heavier the onslaught of verbal abuses. And you left wounded by his hurtful insinuations and unjustified judgement. Are you one who is such a Defensive Accuser (DA)?

Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. (Matthew 7:1) Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32)

 

4. Giving up your rights or demanding your rights?

(a) “Why should I?”

(b) “I expect you to be… …”

(c) “I have the final say!”

If you struggle with this area, you may have problems with pride. When one is full of himself or herself, he/ she always think himself/ herself is better than the other, thus it is hard to relinquish his/ her own rights. They usually struggled in accepting people who give them problems and who are weaker than them spiritually and emotionally. This category of people are very protective of their rights cos they always think they are right. Their expectations fall in line to what they think it should be and how he/ she should be, they are never understanding nor apathetic to consider how the other person feels or where he/ she is coming from. In any relationships, we are taught to be humble and submit to one another in reverence.

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. (Romans 12:!0) And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Ephesians 5:21 NLT)

 

5. Shallow understanding or mutual understanding?

(a) Have you been communicating?

(b) How understanding have you been?

(c) Do you understand how a person’s background has some way influenced the way how he/ she think, feel and act?

How well do you understand yourself and the other person? Understanding is a crucial fundamental in all relationships to work, and it is paramount to foster better understanding through daily communication. In times of silence, there is tacit understanding too. Understanding the background of the person whom you are relating to, can give you a better and clearer picture how certain thoughts, feelings and actions can be triggered. For him/ her to understand you better, be honest about how you feel and what you think, instead of trying to do something to get his/ her attention. All of us think and feel differently, be open to share so that in each other you will learn something and know each other better to deal with the differences. All you need is a heart to listen.

I myself am convinced, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another. – Romans 15:14

 

6. Pain and gain or close and strain?

(a) What is God teaching you through the other person?

(b) Did you apply what you have learn that God is teaching you?

(c) Are you avoiding the issues?

What is your approach- do you avoid pain or confront and gain? When you close in to a relationship, you strain it even more, the wounds may fester. And anytime when the same situations happen, it will playback the old scores. Unfortunately, the way to learn is often through unpleasantries. Pain is God’s Refining Fire.

I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. – 1 Corinthians 1:10

 

7. Praying with an open heart or clenched fists?

(a) Have you been praying for a breakthrough?

(b) Have you pray for God’s ultimate control and His way in your relationships?

(c) Have you try praying together?

Prayers open door to miracles, for our God is a God of Transformation. Go to Him with all your emotions, surrender your rights and expectations at the feet of His throne. Look to Him first as He will lift you up in due time. He always leave the door open for those who are weary and wounded. He has a special place for them. He is always there in assurance. And He hears you and trust that He will do something. His love never fails.

Don’t worry about anything, but pray about everything. With thankful hearts offer up your prayers and requests to God. Then, because you belong to Christ Jesus, God will bless you with peace that no one can completely understand. And this peace will control the way you think and feel. – Philippians 4:6-7 CEV

 

All relationships goes a long way, but take heart, all is not lost yet. Give each other space, take time to do your own reflections, pray about the issues, be honest with yourself, take time to share your thoughts and your feelings openly to the other person, confessed to each other your vulnerability and mistakes, discuss with each other how to overcome barriers so as to solve those nagging issues, last but not least, be committed to making healthy changes and mean it. It takes time and courage.

There may be someone in your midst who is hurting. It is always worthwhile to confront it than to take a passive stand, even though you have prayed and trust God would do something about it, but that does not mean we should be doing nothing! How can you reap the fruit when you never bother to sow the seed? God moves as you move, you never know till you try however difficult it can be but God will supply His Strength, Grace and Mercy to keep you through.

Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. – Hebrews 3:13

Keep at it, those little things CAN and WILL GO AWAY. Remember, forgiveness is a precious gift too. Don’t give up.

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Something To Mull Over: A Matter Of Perspective

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And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? – Mark 8:36

Ever heard of the adage that goes, “Many build their wealth at the risk of their health, only to lose their wealth in order to rebuild their health”? Let me offer another angle too- “Many pursue the things of this world at the risk of losing their soul, only to regain their soul by letting go of things of the world.”

People always assert that money can always be earned back, but not health when it is at risk. That explained why many have fallen to sicknesses as a result of high stress and mental illness as a result of depression.

I have been mulling over why I have been obsessing with finances, ever since I embarked on the journey of entrepreneurship, where cashflow is not insured from time to time. I sensed I may be “losing myself”. To begin with, I have been living with a faulty belief system that I need to have more in order to enjoy more, and when I finally got there, somehow I wasn’t happy in achieving the goal. Life somehow seems meaningless- is there all to it – Do our existence contingent on our possessions?

Then Jesus said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” – Luke 12:15

In other word, greed is a bottomless pit, the constant pursuit of wanting more or having something better, which is never ending can be meaningless.

The heart of the matter is the matter of the heart. I realised that I need a paradigm shift to see things from another perspective.

 

Which Is Truly Important?

—————————————

I may not have earned a lot,

but I am thankful that I am not that poor to worry about my next meal;

I may not own a house,

but I am thankful that I still have roof over my head and a place to sleep;

I do not own a car,

but I am thankful that I do not impose upon myself such a liability;

I may not have amassed much wealth,

but I am thankful I still have good health;

I may not be a game changer,

but I am thankful that I can do what I am best at and called to do;

I may not have achieve success as the world pursues,

but I am thankful I can get up each day to do what I love to do;

I may not have a lot of material things that money can buy,

but I am thankful for the simple things that bring joy which money cannot buy nor time can redeem.

At least I enjoy true peace and a good night rest each day,

for many it costs them too high a price to pay.

At the end of the day, what can you bring to Heaven?

 

“If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones.” – Luke 16:10A

Happiness is not something to arrive at or the need to acquire it. True joy can be attained in the moments, even when you have little. Life is best lived simple, if we learn to see things from another perspective.

When You Do Not Feel God’s Presence In Your Life

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“When you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I will make sure you won’t be disappointed.” – Jeremiah 29:13 MSG

This new year, I have been greeted with many bad news of friends who contracted stomach cancer, a dad in critical condition in the ICU, and another whose father just passed away… It was enough to cause me to pause- “These are your children, where are you God in all these?”

It was not a new year to begin with, but I prayed that their trials will not derail them from the faith. We all have from time to time, in our lament under trials and testings, could not feel God’s Presence too. And the irony is, God promises that He is always there, in good times and bad times. Why is that we could not feel Him?

There are 3 keys found in the preceding verse: (1) Denial of self; (2) Drawing near; (2) Desperation

1. Denial of self = ver 13a “when you get SERIOUS”

We can only have room for God if we deny ourselves: our rights (rights to get angry etc.) and our treasures (any possessions, relationships etc). God did knock on our hearts, we may have opened the door, but the crux is, did we allow him to enter and take a VVIP room in our hearts? Some of us probably did not realize we only allow him a common room or a temporary stay in the suite. How to know? Simple, when our lives get successful or rather sufficient, we will get our true answers.

2. Drawing near = ver 13a “FINDING me”

I am sure all of us prayed the hardest during hard times. Have you felt like God was a million miles away or like there was this veil between you and God? Our sins have separated us from God. But if you feel far from God, guess who have moved? Us. Because God is always there. We can pray all we want, but God beckoning us to draw near to Him and He will draw near to us. (James 4:8). Drawing near means being still in God’s Presence, seeking Him with cleansed hands and purified heart (James 4:9).

3. Desperation = ver 13a “want it MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE”

Why God let us get to our pits? Because He knows what we are made of so He let us try if we can figure out anything. He knows we will only surrender when we get tired, frustrated, helpless or hopeless. The only way out or up fm our pits, is to call for help- help from a more sovereign power. This is the only way, He gets the attention of those who are deaf to His whispers that He needs to shout to rouse us.

Then, God ends with “I WIll MAKE SURE YOU WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED”.

Therefore, be desperate, even in good times, and you will never be disappointed.

Remember, God says, “I am the WAY (narrow pathway), the TRUTH (never failing promises in the Word) and the LIFE (salvation and abundance).”

Bitter Roots

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Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; – Hebrews 12:14-15 ESV

The recent episodes at home had shaken me a little to realize my whole family had grew their own bitter roots into a strong tree… It is a “tragedy” to witness how such a small trouble-maker can cause upheavals that are injurious. I am not surprised because my family yet to have their Gardener (God) to help them deroot rotten roots. But ever wonder, Christians who have our Gardener are falling from Grace too? May be some of us do not realize we grow bitter roots, knowingly or unknowingly.

We can defile people by our bitter roots that someone we hold against fails to obtain the grace of God. Cross reference to Deuteronomy 29:18, Make sure there is no man or woman, clan or tribe among you today whose heart turns away from the Lord our God to go and worship the gods of those nations; make sure there is no root among you that produces such bitter poison.”

Our bitterness could cause another person to turn away from God and worship idols. Imagine God holds us accountable for our actions (Refer to Romans 14:12)…

So, how do we deroot our bitter roots? 3 keys: (1) Get rid, (2) Be, (3) Forgive just as

GET RID of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as with every form of malice. Instead, BE kind to each other, tenderhearted, FORGIVING one another, JUST AS God through Christ has forgiven you. (Emphasis in caps) – Ephesians 4:31-32

1. Get rid = action – it means throw away the toxic.

Do you know that you will get poisoned instantly the moment you decide to hoard toxic? So the longer you hoard it, the more you will accumulate. So ridding them must be done immediately.

2. Be = action – Act on it to be kind, tender hearted etc… 

Do you know we are not natural doers? Taking actions have to be through conscious effort conscientiously and cultivating the discipline to upkeep it. Practices make perfect? No, practices make progresses.

3. Forgive just as = action – Decide and choose to forgive just as God HAS FORGIVEN you.

Do you know that you have to first decide in your mind in order for your heart to follow? Not the other way round. Your mind is a command center of your body that send messages for your body members to act on them. Decide first and choice will follow. By the way, a good reminder- do you have the right to withhold the same grace God has given you? Recall the magnitude of how much God has forgiven you.

Last but not least, remember that we once live in foolishness and the principles of this world, but Jesus has redeemed you and crucify your old self to free you from the power of slavery of sins ruling your life so that having experienced this unmerited grace of God that you can share the same grace to others. (Romans 6:6-7; Titus 3:3-7; Colossians 3:5-10; Ephesians 4:22-23)

So, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. – Galatians 5:16