Personal Musings: Feeling stuck in “mud”

Well, it is time for an update of where things have been. The blog has been strangely quiet since returning from the AACC National Conference.  It is not personally what I expected or anticipated. As left feeling recharged, refreshed, and energized.  On the Monday following the conference returned to work and work it was, as the it was the busiest morning for me at that job ever.  My second job also was very busy.  So jumped in full steam. By the middle of the week there was what was thought by me to be some allergy issues but ended up being a head cold that is even now still lingering.  There are still all the thoughts and promptings that occurred and are being developed but rather than moving forward it seemed got stuck in mud.

What does that image mean, getting stuck in mud.   Well the kind of being stuck in mud here pertain more to reaching a point in a path that is filled with mud and that progress is difficult.  Here there was a sudden being overwhelmed upon return followed by an ongoing drain that made it difficult to progress.  Some of that is the physical nature of things where there is an ongoing viral infection that slows down.  Rather than ramping up and broadening all the steps that need to be done, it was more a time being slowed and in that time thoughts simmer and process. In other words it is meeting with resistance from what is beyond self, and resistance from within self pertaining to issues of fear, faith, and health.  There is much work ahead, still much preparation to be laid, but time is getting to the point where some serious pursuits and work needs to be done.  Let  me review a little bit of what some of that entails.

1.  Getting the framework set and established for making a push to market private practice and generate clients.  There has not been a whole lot of push forward on that front since was hoping credentialing would go quicker and would be able to add the private practice office with little difficulty.  Credentialing is in itself like moving through mud or pour molasses.  Just a lot of patience needed and not much that can be done.  Yet, there needs to be some networking that goes on with local churches that needs to begin and it starts with getting website up.  Some of what I need done is at the help of others gracious enough to help with the things I do not have the knowledge of, and making sure my communication is clear. Once all I need help with is done then need to spend some time getting the base web content up.  The other steps are getting the printing of letterhead and business cards done so can actually send material out promoting self.  None of these things are enjoyable for me and come with resistance.   These things need to be done. 

2. There is a felt prompting to take the article: https://peacebringer7.wordpress.com/2010/04/24/seven-spiritual-principles-for-transcending-suffering/, into a book that may use the newly forming POD publishing branch of AACC to publish. It is a task and process that is specific and work needs to be done to get started.  My good friend Craig even challenged to consider signing up for NaNoWriMo as part of getting moving. The challenge did not feel right, but the fact is needed to get through own personal resistance and get started on the project whether or not it ends up something beyond my putting it together. 

3. There is still the ongoing goal of writing more intentionally for the blog. Need to set and stick to some personal goals in all of this. And perhaps that is a good starting point, is sitting down and setting objectives to work through these resistance areas of life and to make progress.  But I am well aware of need to be more intentional and consistent.  I think for awhile the objective was writing everyday, and while did that for awhile it may have been more than appropriate, resulting in falling by the wayside when there is took much going on. This is especially true if spend time working on a “book project.” The other aspect is that really have felt led to have a separate blog focusing on Christianity and Mental Health that is overall different with a particular focus on those issues.  It will serve in part as a way of marketing for private practice, as well as get some thoughts out there on what true sound Christian Mental Health theory and practice is. 

So in writing this, it seems clear that in order to make moves through the resistance and mud need to have a few things happen.  One for me is setting some established personal goals. And honestly that is difficult for me. The resistance to personal goal setting goes back to days at Chapel Hill Academy when faced a “self paced” educational system with a process of self-determining goals and meeting those goals.  The final year of my time there, I loaded up a ton of detention for failing to follow through with goals as became tired of there whole way of doing things. 

So what can you the readers do to help me?  There are a couple things. Pray for God give me strength and encouragement to fight through my own areas of resistance.  Some of the resistance is the externals such as waiting for credentialing and the recent health issues. The other is emotional resistance due to fears, work load, and the rest.  In order for there to be any progress though, cannot sit and be passive. The temptation is to simply sit back, engage in the varied distractions, and move from one day to the next.  Yet, doing such would result in a lack of productivity.  So pray for me to grow through that area and meet what God desires.  The other thing people can do is to give words of encouragement.  If there is silence, drop me a line.  If you see me, ask me how doing setting and making goals.  And feel free to challenge and push me to give and meet varied goals.  For I know one thing is clear, that it is easier to move through periods of resistance when there is either encouragement or even help. 

Let me close this bit of personal musing with a question?  How are you in your own lives and in moving toward that which God has prompted within you? Are you slowed down due to resistance?  Have you stopped any progress? Have you gone silent?  Even what are the resistance areas in your own life and what are they tied to?

Musings on the illustration of physical pains and the body of Christ.

Recently been thinking about comparisons between our physical body and the body of Christ. The thinking started related to the ongoing pain my wife is going through with back and neck pain. She has some chronic misalignment stemming initially from past accidents. She had a severe car accident in 1996 impacting her neck. She had a work related fall in around 2001, where she fell on lower back. Lately she has been working on getting appropriate Chiropractic care and getting things back into alignment. She has been having chronic pain and now when trying to get things set right, her body is fighting it and getting increased pain. Thinking about such facts as well as general ways the body deals with pain can gives us spiritual lessons regarding the body of Christ. God had Paul use that imagery for meaning and purpose.

There are three key elements that came to mind in reflecting about in relations to my wife’s suffering and how it relates to the church. The first thought is that when any part of the body of Christ is out of proper alignment it brings pain. Some of the pain is inflicted by our own choices; sometimes the pain comes from circumstances, sometimes other people’s choices. Regardless of the reason for the misalignment, it is a source of great pain.

It is important to realize that the pain that is cause is not isolated and impacts the whole body. The lies, sins, and selfishness in one part of the body of Christ impacts the whole. What happens is not in isolation. When the body of Christ operates connected fully to the head in proper alignment, things go well. Yet, the assorted causes of misalignment always bring pain. Now just as in a physical body, the closer one is to the sources of pain, the more impact; the same in the body of Christ. What happens in related parts of the body impact first the parts that are more closely related.

Now it is important to note that turning from self, sin, and deception involves work that can bring greater pain initially while the work is done to get things right. The increase in pain simply shows how much misalignment existed. Sometimes the process for healing and correct alignment goes smoothly and quickly but other times it takes a lot of pain and work. It is because of the increased pain that resistance occurs. It can seem much easier to accept the pain that Is known and adjusted rather than do the work for proper realignment in accordance with God’s will and design. Also because of the increased pain, resistance from other parts of the body can occur. The resistant occurs because the body has trained to react in certain ways. It will occur. It is how the body operates. So when getting more aligned with God’s word, truth, and will there may be reactions from self or others resistant.

So what does this mean practically? Well, these thoughts encourage me to first turn to Jesus and ask for my areas of misalignment that bring pain to the body to come to my awareness. It is being aware that what I say and do does not happen in isolation and even that done in private and secret brings pain to the body. There is clear evidence of need to assess on an ongoing basis my alignment before God. Am I walking as He guides and directs and surrendering to His will, or have I deviated with failure to recognize that infliction of pain. The thoughts drive me to examine my own areas of resistance and examine what I need to turn away from and bring in surrender to God’s will. When not within the center of what God desires has in store it results in bringing pain, when walking in the center of what God desires, it enriches and builds up the body.

So in thinking through these images it brings into clear focus the need for ongoing evaluation of whether I am acting in God’s lead and love or living for my own ideas. One option builds up and enriches others. The other brings pain and tears down. Above all we have impact on others both in our words and actions. Our choices matter for good or bad. Each of us needs to continually examine if we demonstrate love for God with our entire self and if we are truly exhibiting love for one another. Failure to do so brings pain and returning to God’s way can meet resistance. Ultimately, we all stumble and falter and need get our alignment back. Waking up to misalignments brings temporary pain but ultimately walking in God’s peace and joy through being properly aligned results in God’s best. And ultimately in this world filled with suffering and ill choices, we all need the pain of transformative peace as we align within God’s will and desire over our own. It hurts for a little while but when things are aligned right, the pain will subside.

Current Struggles: Ongoing warfare

Just need to post a quick update on things. Today is hard day for step mother with fever and diarrhea.  I have picked up an influenza with chest congestion.  It is bitter cold out, this morning on her way out to work, my wife slipped and injured her hand and left side. She has some swelling but believes nothing was fractured.  On the good side, my brother got news of court date for the finalization in the United States of the adoption of his son, Anant.  I recognize it is very hard, even in times of minor suffering to rejoice. I know I am struggling to rejoice. I find it hard to do the basic things I need to do.  It is easy to develop a mindset of the enemy is attacking and hunker down and withdrawal. This has been a long pattern. Yet, this is not what God calls us to do.  He calls us to resist the Devil.  Resistance isn’t withdrawal. When the enemy attacks we need to stand sure and strong.  We need to instead of dropping back, find ways God seeks to move forward.  Pray for quick health for me, pray for the swelling in my wife’s hand to go down and that she will be able to play her special music next weekendor on Christmas Eve.  Two keys when under felt attack are clearly rejoice and resist.  It is easier said then done.  It is easy to complain and withdraw.  And the face is, each of these sufferings are but momentary. They are hear for a time and then gone.  Yet, God’s love endures forever!

Reflecting on changes

    Change has become a buzz word these days.  We have political candidates trumpeting the need for change and the ability to make changes.  Such is the nature of politics.  However, change is not just about who is in charge of the government and the authorities we submit to. Change is something we either desire or avoid, for either selfish or righteous reasons.  Sometimes change is thrust upon us.  Like it or not, wanted or not we are all impacted by change.

    The church I am a member of is undergoing some changes.  We mourn the loss of Steve Kohen who died from a sudden heart attack. He is missed, yet in a better place.  As a church we wish this change hadn’t happened, but trust God that He will work through this, and will provide for his widow and family. 

    Our church, New Joy Church,  is facing another change that was unexpected. Our pastor, Rich Hubert, has been called to pastor a church in Mexico. He is following where God is leading.  He saw our church through a difficult time of needed healing and the church is better off then when he came by leaps and bounds.  He will be missed, and there is anxiety and tension of what is next.

    There are other types of changes.  There are changes that are planned, and joyful when they occur. These include the birth of a child, a job promotion, a new house,  healing from past wounds, and other good things.  But any change is difficult, brings anxiety, and really doesn’t come easily.

     Sometimes we know changes is coming and have to endure suffering while waiting for the change. Anyone who has a loved one going through a prolonged death experiences this grief.  I  currently have a dear friend who is waiting for his mother to die.  Each day for them is precious, but difficult.  The prolonged change is hard but the process does bring refinement and internal change.

    Sometime we know we need a change, but have a hard time taking the steps to make it.  I know I have been working for an employer and know it is time to leave, but do nothing to leave, to bring it about.  Ultimately I ended up losing those jobs and change was forced upon me.  We all can let fear easily serve as  a barrier to working toward any change, whether it be inter-personally, vocationally, educational, of relational.  Yet, sometimes we just need to make the change.

    Sometimes we are convinced there is a need for change, when change is not needed.  We can let ourselves be deceived into making unnecessary changes.  There are far to many marriages that end when they should not be.  These kind of changes result often from self-deception and thinking that things will be different if only there was change.  It is the “grass is greener” syndrome. 

    As a Christian working on daily surrender to the King of Kings, I want to be walking in the changes the God puts before me.  I want him to change me to be more like Jesus. There are somethings that are hard to submit over, changes asked that are difficult to make.  I can get in the way of letting God change me.  Yet, even in my resistance God works in me toward change. He constantly calls me to repent of my seeking after self, and the changes I want and surrender to Him. 

    So think about the changes you face in life.  Are you avoiding change? Are you selfishly seeking change? Are you holding on to things the need to change?  Are you dealing with the grief of expected change?  Are you dealing with the pain of unexpected loss?  It ultimately is how we react that makes the difference.  Do we react to change by resistance, through anger, through fear, or any other barriers or do we surrender to the King of Kings and turn all our reactions over to Him. Do we step out in faith when God points to a needed change in your path, or an unexpected turn happens.  Take a moment and pray about the changes in your life and ask God to give you wisdom and surrender to Him, and walk in the path that gets set before you.