Category Archives: Growing Pains

Memories: Changing the Cycle of Pain and Automatic Reactions

Sometimes we hold ourselves back from certain people, places, dates and times, experiences and other aspects of life because of a painful or traumatic memory.

Unconscious intrusive triggers might inhibit us from participating in good aspects of life because we get hung up on the somatic (physical) and psychological (mental) effects of remembering. We don’t want a repeat of a painful “last time,” and try to avoid such occurrences. Such memory recall often triggers episodes of reliving an experience adding to and even reinforcing the negative experiences we had.  THis may also act as a reinforcer unhelpful belief patterns. When this occurs, PAIN becomes our counsellor, and even sometimes, our governor. What can we do? 

One thing you often can do is to overwrite an old memory by making a new memory with the present opportunity you have. We are constantly overwriting old memories with new material unconsciously. We can consciously do so too with some intention and belief it is possible. Hope is a strong motivator.

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The Brain is powerful in the cognitive function of plasticity. Scientists used to believe that memory was hardwired and once formed, permanent. However, since then it has been discovered through neuroscience and cognitive psychology that each time we recall a memory, it changes in subtle ways. We unconsciously edit a memory with minute subtractions and additions, and the memory becomes re-consolidated (reconstructed and saved) in a new way. 

This is in part why some parts of memory stand out more than others, some parts fade, others increase in intensity and quality, and sometimes other people’s recall of a same event is different than our own. Occasionally our minds even fill in the blanks with color or other details we have forgotten, aren’t true or didn’t actually occur. E.g. “I could swear that motorcycle Joe had was red, not blue.” 

Particularly salient parts of memory are more likely to stand out and last longer. However, even memories of traumatic events such as 9-11, are, and can be, edited as we remember them. An interesting area of study on salient events involves eye-witness cases, which have high inconsistencies and are now considered as somewhat unreliable evidence in courts of law. We can embellish memories or micro-delete aspects unconsciously or by deliberate choice. Memory is influenced by numerous variables and is an interesting study on its own.

This fact also means we be active in choosing how we want to remember by reconstructing a memory association.  I am not advocating telling ourselves lies or myths to cope. This is what I do mean…

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Memory works strongly with associations such as taste, smell, touch, sight, sound, and other senses such as feelings/emotions. E.g. people may forget what you said, but they’ll never forget how they felt when you said it.

I rephrased this popular saying because, regarding emotions (which differ from our physical yet are interconnected) we have power and responsibility in part for our feelings and how we manage or act on them even when another is an initiator of negative events. We may be on a learning curve on how to do this, but ultimately, its within our power to decide how we will allow things effect us long term, and what we will do to begin the process and fulfillment of healing.

When pain and fear anchor as primary emotions in our memory consolidation process, it can create a reinforcement cycle of the memory like a well worn path. Further, painful social situations activate the same nerve and brain areas as physical pain does. This is why we experience heartache as a physical pain, or get pain symptoms in various parts of our bodies (soma-symptoms). However our bodies can learn to release trauma and pain from soma and muscle memory as well.

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dendrites flickr.com

We usually have understanding of the problem of our pain, but are often uncertain how to get our minds out of memory holding patterns. This pattern is what needs changed to heal. By the same principle of the well worn path, a pathway barely used becomes overgrown. In the case of brain patterns and memory, when dendrites and synapses (our brain’s tree branches and leaves, or highways and intersections) are not in frequent use, the brain prunes our memory tree, closes road.

Then as we learn or adapt our thinking, it regrows new branches or paves new roads or adds an overpass, which function differently.  This principle of use and disuse is quite noticeable in things like second languages, directions, or placing a name to a face.

We don’t have to revisit every painful memory for this to happen, like scientists and therapists used to believe. We can actively make new memories in place of the old. It is like overwriting old code. This removes old triggering associations, by creating new ones.

This memory flexibility and resilience underlies certain professional psychological treatments for trauma, phobias, and general cognitive restructuring. The brain gets rewired as to what our focus is on, connects to new associations, forming patterns in our memory, which then re-consolidates into a new framework, or schema. Thus we can remember events or other things without pain or triggers when this change occurs.

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What we focus on expands and magnifies.

 If you find certain places, people, objects etc are triggers for you, you might want to give making new memory associations a chance. It may not happen the first time you try, you may feel very uncomfortable at first. It may even feel worse to begin with, but with persistence and support from others, the memories, experiences,  relationships, etcetera that you want to keep but with new healthy associations, can happen for you. I have shared this concept with personal friends and have started receiving good feedback about its affects.

In reality, we don’t ‘unlearn’ things- we learn again- the overwriting aspect. This plasticity is also a mechanic of the spiritual reality of renewing our minds to truth, and shifting belief patterns. You can be free of negative past associations. Let’s get creative.

*Not every memory is one we want to keep; some we are better off losing completely– I don’t mean repression. Depending on the severity of trauma and our personal experiences, this type of overwriting may work great without other’s involvement, or, people may find they need assistance in this process, whether a friend, counsellor, or by supernatural means.

For those of you whose hope has been crushed by being told you have a disorder that can’t be healed, only managed, I encourage you to seek counsel and wholeness through Jesus our Healer. The greatest helper, Jesus Christ, is the master physician and counselor for memories that have crushed one’s spirit. I, and, many others can personally attest to His healing power and loving process to heal memories.

For further interest, this book was recommended to me by my oversight (a practicing psychiatrist) in my undergrad course Abnormal Psychology  regarding my course project: investigating  DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder) and Depersonalization–Derealization Disorder (DDD–which is in fact more common than generally realized by practitioners). For those who like a little more scientific info, or wonder about the mechanics of how focus affects any number of our systems including spiritual focus see:

New York Times Bestseller, FOCUS: The Hidden Driver of Excellence, by Daniel Goleman.

 

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Are Those Joined to Jesus “Prone” to sin? “Prone” to Wander?

Prone: Predisposed. Likely to or liable to suffer from, do, or experience something, typically something regrettable or unwelcome. (Google)

Sin: To fall shy of the perfect and complete; to act apart from the original union, holiness and glory God created us to dwell in with Him.

Worship lyrics, spiritual teaching, preaching…I frequently hear a theme within these, in somewhat varied presentations, that we are prone to sin, prone to wander away from the Lord. I understand the sentiment. It seems humble…admitting our need for God.

Yet, is this proneness to sin and wander theme doctrinally and biblically sound truth for new covenant believers in Jesus? Or a misguided trope that weakens the conscience of believers and causes a sense of vulnerability to sin and a falling away?

Let’s look at just a few verses.

2 Corinthians 5:14-17 Weust version For the love which Christ has [for me] presses on me from all sides, holding me to one end and prohibiting me from considering any other, wrapping itself around me in tenderness, giving me an impelling motive, having brought me to this conclusion, namely, that One died on behalf of all in order that those who are living no longer are living for themselves but for the One who died on their behalf and instead of them, and was raised.

So that, as for us, from this particular time onward, not even one individual do we know as judged upon the basis of human standard. Even though we [Paul in his unsaved state] have known Christ as judged by human standard, yet now no longer do we know Him as such. So that, assuming that anyone is in Christ, he is a creation new in quality. The antiquated, out-of-date things [which do not belong to the new life in Christ Jesus] have passed away. Behold, all things have become new in quality.

This scripture reveals that our whole person is radically changed when we join ourselves to Jesus, the Christ. Our nature becomes new, the old ways have died, and like dead, injured flesh, has been cut, and cast away.

When we have only partial understanding about being unified with Jesus, we may think because we are tempted, or because we still have old habits, that we have a dual nature. I’m convinced this skewed belief is what keeps many from walking as new beings.

Many people think Romans chapter seven explains that we have a dual nature, but Paul is truly talking there about his old nature, not the new. This is why reading on to Romans 8-the redemptive chapter- is so necessary.

For instance, if in receiving Jesus Christ we continued in an old nature, Christ’s work is, at least partially, in vain. Or, if we were given a new nature, but retained the old nature as well (dual nature), then we would live in limbo-sinning one time, and standing strong resisting sin another. Though this may seem to be our experience, and a dual nature is often taught as being true, it is not accurate either.

If we believe, after joining ourselves to Christ that our whole nature hasn’t changed, then we will likely believe that we have no power over sin, that we can’t help but sin, that it’s normal to sin, and expect to sin. This belief acts as type of self-fulfilling prophecy, by which we might then fall into a cycle of false profession, and confession of habitual sins.

The old nature is prone to sin; the new nature is not.

Are we still able to sin? Unfortunately-yes. I’m not proposing we are all completely sinless, but that we will sin less. Just as Adam & Eve were created pure, and good, and had ability to choose, we also have this ability (power) to choose now, to sin, or not sin, having died to sin and being raised again as a new being. Reborn or born again.

Our new and present reality is greater than what Adam and Eve knew, having been made living souls of and in the earth; the new birth conjoins us to Jesus, the life giving spirit, and seats us with Him above all things. (See 1Corinthians 15:45, Ephesians 2:4-10.)

Paul shares the antithesis to a cycle of sin in Romans 8.

Romans 8:1-4 Therefore, now, there is not even one bit of condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, for the law of the Spirit, that of the life in Christ Jesus, freed you once for all from the law of the sinful nature and of death. For that which is an impossibility for the law, because it was weak through the sinful nature, God having sent His Son in likeness of flesh of sin, and concerning sin, condemned sin in the sinful nature, in order that the righteous requirement of the law may be brought to completion in us who, not as dominated by the sinful nature are ordering our behavior but as dominated by the Spirit.

In Jesus, we have been given a new nature in place of the old. This means we are no longer “sinners.” It is no longer our nature to sin. We have been transformed into a new identity- partaking of the very nature of God Himself. We are living, Being, in the dominion and power of the Holy Spirit, our own spirit made right(eous). If this is true, why does sin still seem to be a problem? And why do so many struggle greatly with sin patterns?

Most of us have yet to grasp the full reality of the work of Jesus and what it literally means to us and our transformation. This realization is continuously unfolding in our understanding.

We are called to renew our mind (restructure our thinking) to the truth of what Jesus has done for us and the righteousness, holiness and justification He’s placed us into by our faith in Him. By agreeing with Him, about ourselves, our mind, beliefs and ways begin to change into His likeness; as the image in a mirror. When Christ is fully formed in us, we look like Him. Like twins.

Romans 6:18+ And having been set free once for all from the sinful nature, you were constituted slaves to righteousness…But now, having been set free from the sinful nature and having been made bondslaves of God, you are having your fruit resulting in holiness, and the consummation, life eternal.

Galatians 5:22-25 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfullness, meekness, self-control. Against such things as these there is no law. And they who belong to Christ Jesus crucified the evil nature with its dispositions and cravings once for all. In view of the fact that we are being sustained in spiritual life by the Spirit, by means of the Spirit let us go on ordering our conduct.

2 Corinthians 3: 12-18 Now, as for us, we all, with uncovered face, reflecting as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are having our outward expressions changed into the same image from one degree of glory to another according as this change of expression proceeds from the Lord, the Spirit, this outward expression coming from and being truly representative of our Lord.

Examining these verses and many verses like them, we see that though it’s true we were once prone to sin, weakness, rage, lust, deceit etc., in the old nature, but we are now new and prone to righteousness via our new nature-God’s nature! Our spirit DNA that was fallen, has be upgraded, once we join in union with Jesus. We become one–one spirit. 1 Corinthians 6:17.

What then, happens when we do sin?

Romans 8:27 Moreover, He who is constantly searching our hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit because, according to God, He continually makes intercession on behalf of the saints.

What does this mean?

Jesus (and through his blood and body) is continuously active, present on our behalf, intervening to make us continually clean and righteous before Him. And, the Holy Spirit of God, makes us conscious of righteousness and holiness, drawing us to that mindfulness.

Hebrews 10:21-23…and having a Priest, a Great One, over the house of God, let us keep on drawing near with a genuinely true heart in full assurance of faith, having had our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and having had our body washed with pure water.

1 John 1:7 But if within the sphere of the light we are habitually ordering our behavior as He himself is in the light, things in common and thus fellowship we [the believer and God] are having with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son keeps continually cleansing us from every sin.

1 John 2:1 My little children [born-ones, bairns], these things I am writing to you in order that you may not commit an act of sin. And if anyone commits an act of sin, One who pleads our cause we constantly have facing the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous One.

In truth, He is focussing on our new nature now; whether we are being corrected or celebrated, He is drawing attention to our new nature, not the old (it’s dead). Since His focus is on the new, our’s ought to be too. God is not stuck in sin consciousness and neither should we be. We are to be love, righteousness, and holiness focused. What we focus on amplifies and expands.

It it also necessary to understand, that if we say and believe we are unified with Jesus, then our overall actions will become a proof of this union. We will not want to do the things that seemed natural when we lived in an old nature. We will desire and delight to live out of our new nature.

Though for a time, while we are growing up out of our newborn birth, the old nature may still seem familiar, yet, eventually the more intimate we grow with God, and the more we renew our minds to the truth, the old will seem foreign and unusual, so that IF we sin (not when), we will want to change our stance immediately and turn back to moving out of our new nature, which affects peace and joy.

Gods grace empowers us to say, “No,”to sin (Titus 2:12). People who keep on deliberately living the same old way as before, have not understood the reality of joining to Jesus.

John 14:20-21 In that day you shall know experientially that I am in my Father and you in me and I in you. He who has my commandments and habitually keeps them, that one is he who is loving me with a divine and self-sacrificial love. And he who is loving me thus, shall be loved with this same kind of love by my Father, and I shall love him with a divine and self-sacrificial love, and I shall disclose myself to him.

1 John 2:6 He who is constantly saying that he as a habit of life is living in close fellowship with dependence upon Him is morally obligated just as that One conducted himself, also himself in the manner spoken of to be conducting himself.

This action isn’t gritting our teeth, in self effort and reliance. The Holy Spirit, our helper, partners with us and compels our hearts and minds to act and Be in our new nature. In time, experientially as well as literally, it doesn’t become second nature to us, but First nature.

1Corinthians 2:9-12 But as for us, not the spirit of the world system did we receive but the Spirit who is of God in order that we might come to know the things which by God have been in grace bestowed upon us, which things also we put into words, not in words taught by human philosophy but in words taught by the Spirit, fitly joining together Spirit-revealed truths with Spirit-taught words.

Romans 8:26+ But if that which we do not see, we hope for, through patience we expectantly wait for it. And in like manner also the Spirit lends us a helping hand with reference to our weakness, for the particular thing that we should pray for according to what is necessary in the nature of the case, we do not know with an absolute knowledge; but the Spirit himself comes to our rescue by interceding with unutterable groanings.

Moreover, He who is constantly searching our hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit because, according to God, He continually makes intercession on behalf of the saints. And we know with an absolute knowledge that for those who are loving God, all things are working together resulting in good, for those who are divinely-summoned ones according to His purpose.

By examining the inspired scriptures we can be assured that we no longer have a sin nature, nor a dual nature if we have been joined to God. The old died and was cut away. Upon our union of spirit and new birth (reborn/born again) and have a new nature, the nature of God.

We are also given the Holy Spirit who teaches and empowers us how to live out of it, and to reject past sinful ways. If we do sin, we can come to Him, dialogue about how we and others have been effected, and know that He faithfully cleanses us, including our conscience.

Go on out there with Godfidence! You are Prone to the persuasion of God’s Spirit and your new nature in Christ Jesus, not to sin or wandering. Check out the books of Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, Hebrews, and 1rst 2nd & 3rd books of John for more clarity. Study it out and see for yourself.

*If you stumbled on this post, and have not made your peace and union with God, through Jesus Christ, the invitation to do so is open for every single person. He’s waiting to make you new- into a son, daughter, new being- just reach out to him from your heart. He hears and He rushes to you.

Please let me know if you’ve made this choice and/or if you feel you need further understanding or help: connect at liifetree12@gmail.com

Unmarked photos–Photo credits to Panoramio.com and mzayat.com respectively.

Standing in the Heat of Conflict

Much of the time when the Bible speaks of warfare, our part is simply to stand and withstand, immovable. In trusting quietness and confidence we engage His strength (Isaiah 30. 15). In one of the most challenging personal & corporate skirmishes I’d encountered, God had someone send me this word–It’s challenging to summon words to express my gratitude, and how it helped me endure through the length of the difficulty, which is one of the functions of prophetic words. Edification, fortification.

My prayer is that in sharing this vision, your spirit and soul will be emboldened and strengthened to stand, and having done all–stand firm. If it helps you, or you have a similar story to share, please leave a comment!

I was simply acting from a place of knowing, a place of rest, being still in my heart and mind. Being unmoved. Knowing that regardless of what was occurring or the backlash that was coming in the natural through people being influenced, that I just needed to stay in this place of stillness, responding and not reacting myself.

Honestly, there were days it felt more than terrible in the natural, but in the spirit, I was learning how to move with God and keep my stance in the heat of the conflict. This is for those of you who may find yourselves there now, or are wondering what you could have done different.

The Lord is good and kind. I didn’t share to prayer chains or ask for prayer about this (not that it would be wrong- I just didn’t feel that was needed) The Lord Himself had this sister contact me.

“I feel I’m supposed to tell you that you need to stand on whatever promises He’s given you. You need to stand.

And I see you, and I’m not used to having visions/dreams like this, but I see you with flaming red hair and you look like you’re almost dancing the way you are blocking every fiery dart that’s coming your way. There’s no effort in it, just that you seem to know exactly where to move ahead of time to the next position. You’re a warrior- that’s how I saw you.

Details of Dream:

It was early morning and I was just coming out of sleep. Picture a light baby blue background. There is one mountain with airy cloud 3 quarters the way up. It stretched horizontally across the mountain in the vision and the mountain was encompassed in this foggy stretch of cloud.

Now this mountain was very high and there was nothing below other than clear blue. You were in the heavens…this definitely represented spirit realm. The top of the mountain was like a small space. 3 ft by 3ft.

Your hair was long and red and orange and it looked like crackling fire. Now there had to be a wind like force as you rotated around combating. I say this because you hair wasn’t dangling but being fanned back with tension, but not enough to remove the wave/crackle.

Now the angle that I could see this from was way higher. You were wayyy below wherever I was being shown from. I interpret this was from the 3rd heaven. A specific” honing in” on this platform. You were in white straight leg cotton pants 6 inches above your ankles.

I saw your right foot briefly fairly detailed. It was a strong foot. I could see when I prayed this morning a few veins around the ankle. I could see the blood in them was light blue but what I got out of this was healthy in a physical sense. Your toes were gripping and moving firmly as you required them to.

No sign of being shaken or challenged. They were still very much female feet and they really had no sign of wear and tear. Like no dead skin. Fresh. I was going to say like baby skin but that’s not accurate.

The word that cut that thought off was-the foot was alive. Like the foot of Eve before she fell. Able to meet the demand easily because you had done this many times and had the skill and precision as a nature above all instinct to do so. Auto pilot is a good word. I did not see any callouses or abrasions. I only recall seeing the right foot briefly in a staggered stance with your right leg forward.

Because I don’t want you to think that this image was intended for you to think about the feet more than the rest of it. Your top was v necked. Not really low but an inch under the collar bones. It had a 2 inch thicker hemming or additional white fabric. 3 quarter length arms were loose but a thick white material too. Like a cross of cotton and potato sac. The bottom of the top would fall just passed the hips. There were small v slits on each side.

I didn’t see much about the 2nd belt you had on but must have been a 4 inch. The first one just tied underneath built in to pants. white. He also gave me scripture but I’ll get into that.

So what I saw coming at you were wooden arrows traveling by a force that wasn’t made to known to me. So the source of where they came from I didn’t see. But you didn’t actually make contact with them and they were snapped in half from my viewpoint looked like 6 inches. So from where you were was nowhere near as close. They came from far enough away that they were moving quickly but you were prepared before they were close enough to be an issue and were already moving into the next position without looking at the next one.

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What I thought was awesome was the way you moved–like fluid and to me….. what this says is the laws of the natural were not applicable to you. They were overridden.

You’re facial expression was focused but not fearful. Just anticipating, really precisely and quickly. Like as if you were being told what to do…not because you were so focused on the arrow. You were skilled, not so much toward the arrows, but skilled on knowing where to be next. You just had to move to the next position. You’re limbs would just respond to your body’s shift. Your force didn’t even need to be that close to the arrow. But no fear at all, and easily breaking these things.”

This is what “warfare” is meant to look like when backlash or an attack comes. Quiet, attuned, confidence. Sometimes it comes because we have done the right thing, not the wrong thing. We stay focused on His voice and the deep knowing– this is faith. Being in faith doesn’t always immediately shift how other’s react; it does shift how we respond. A number of times, someone that would never know my situation, has commented to me that they had an assignment to help me make it through the heat.

Some times we may feel very alone in our battles, yet He has stirred someone out of their sleep to pray, or has someone composing a prophetic encouragement to share. Sometimes we never know at all, due to the sensitive nature of our struggles, that He has someone praying on our behalf. All we may know is we made it through!

I can think of some situations right now that I have prayed for and never breathed a word to the persons involved–my assignment was only to pray, and safeguard the secret that God was keeping for them. He is faithful. And having been made like us, for a time, a compassionate and powerful strength. May you be encouraged and confident in the heat just as in the cool and calm.

 

 

 

Tightrope

Many of us are experiencing a similar scenario-it takes One to set thousands to flight, but a village surrounds the one- we are one. I’m currently believing with 6 friends for total healing- here’s a snippet of a reality walk with my friend Charispsallo.me below…

Charis: Subject to Change

painting on desk ch IMG_8390Can’t pretend that I am blind
Can’t go back and erase the mind
Naivety and wide-eyed wonder are far from me
But at least now I see
It’s like I’m walking on a tightrope
Stretched across the universe
Way too high to go back from where I came
Overwhelmed at the miles I’ve yet to tame

-from Tightrope by Misty Edwards

When I started writing this blog I thought it was about having an outlet for creative expression and sharing, in a grandmotherly way, how the Lord has enabled me to grow and change. I didn’t know it would be about the faith walk in real time. I’m not done yet. I’ve got a long way to go.

I was happy to share insights and personal victories – after I could see the outcome when the mess was tidied up and the embarrassing trip through doubt and emotional upheaval faded…

View original post 1,319 more words

The Difference Between Lack of Faith and Unbelief

My guest post today is by my beloved friend Yvette Dempster of The Adoption Ministries. I know you will benefit tremendously! That’s why I’m sharing. 

Have you ever heard someone say they needed to increase their faith? Or have you ever said–when you didn’t see an answer to prayer– that something must be wrong with your faith? Have you ever thought you had a lack of faith? If so, I have good news! You don’t have a faith problem!

http://the-adoption.org/the-difference-between-lack-of-faith-and-unbelief/

Prophetic Word: Living Unsettled

Prophetic word:

Earlier a friend posted a quote on growth happening when we getting out of our comfort zone- I replied, “What about living in the ‘discomfort’ zone?” She replied, “Lots of growth!!!” And it’s true. 
Then this comes in my email: 

“Cyndi, 

Can you get comfortable with being uncomfortable?

Because if you can, you’ll be right in the sweet spot of personal growth. The times when you’re getting stretched, pushing through the pain, or feeling out of your element — that’s when the magic happens. It doesn’t happen when you sit back on your heels and start getting complacent…” -Michael Hyatt

Then another friend sent a similar insight… Repeats are cues and clues to listen and engage…

The reality is, I’ve felt and heard the Lord say over a long period, more than a year now, 

“My people need to learn to live “unsettled”. 

The meaning is that we are creatures of habit and routine, and while to some degree we need structure, we can also become dependent on our ‘familiar’ circumstances rather than Him as our anchor and stability. 

It’s interesting that without pruning, grape vines (and other plants) will choose spreading leaf and runners over producing fruit. Pruning is essential. It may seem a bit of a shock to the system, but it’s part of Life. 

Likewise we tend to get rattled and sometimes even frantic when our comfort zones get challenged. We pray for change and yet become highly resistant to it at the same time. Resistance can hinder or help, it depends on the application.
In these globally troubled days, we are being taught how to thrive in the midst of turmoil, upheaval, and distress by learning to live and move and have our being in Him, not in our circumstances, not in our familiar routines, or our sometimes entrenched expectations of how life must go. Sometimes we may feel like we’ll only be okay when everything settles. If this becomes our expectation, we may long feel upended and as though life feels out of control. We are being taugh to live in the flux. 

Much of our anxiety, pain and discomfort is in our resistance. We need to discern when resistance is helpful and when it is actually in our way. In the big picture, we are foreigners and aliens transversing this life, we are unsettled, moving through, by an internal map and compass of the spirit. 
Will the upheaval settle? Not permanently, every shaking causes us to inherit the unshakable, if we are willing. The shaking and displacing of our comfort isn’t going to stop in some permanent manner in which we can “settle”, but if we learn to move along, living “unsettled”, if we can learn to get comfortable being uncomfortable, then we won’t as likely go into shock when the dismantling of our familiar occurs. 

Sure, it takes a bit to find our feet in it all, but this is why we are given a Comforter-to help us get comfortable in the uncomfortable. 
“Fear not [there is nothing to fear], for I am with you; do not look around you in terror and be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen and harden you to difficulties, yes, I will help you; yes, I will hold you up and retain you with My [victorious] right hand of rightness and justice.” Isaiah 41:10

The Glory Doorway

I reached to access a storage container and stopped still, staring. Brilliant sparkles winked and twinked in the air before me. There was nothing special about this corner of the room, or the room itself. I hadn’t stood up too fast, I hadn’t bent over; I wasn’t “seeing stars” but I was seeing … Starry lights. Then they disappeared as quickly as they had appeared.
I was left in wonder…

They next time they appeared, I was telling my son something about Jesus. I was multitasking and in next room as we dialogued, but as I walked into the same room as he, I stopped abruptly. Dancing before my eyes, and in a cloud like cluster about a 1×2 feet in depth and breadth were these effervescent diamonds. Slowly turning my gaze, I sized up the cloud.

I asked if my son saw them. “No.”  

But I saw them, as clearly as I was seeing anything else in the room. 

Filled with wonder…Awestruck wonder. 

This must be glory

Now, hope rose in place of surprise. 

This. Was. Real.

Scientific training has had its use; considering correlations, one was definitive. I had been shifting my focus considerably- it was all on HIM: Jesus, Dad, and the Holy Ghost. Something was changing. Joy was becoming a constant companion. Praise and worship came in bursts and raptures. It felt like a endorphin high only better and longer lasting. And then…the glory began to appear. It. Was. Beautiful! 

This encouraged me to engage with Him even more. I was dazzled. This was how things were meant to be! Heaven in Earth; as above, so below. 
I often listen to messages as I fall asleep at night. I like the first and last of my day specifically centered on the Giver and the good news of the kingdom. Following the treasure clues, I often stumble upon Gold. Around that time I discovered a Joshua Mills podcast- it was truly the title that caught my eye. 

      JESUS IS THE GLORY DOORWAY.

I listened attentively, absorbing the beauty of Jesus. Then my prophetess friend asked the next day if I knew anything about Jesus & a glory door, because Holy Spirit mentioned it- I shared the link and happily went on to part 2.

However, this particular night, the glory doorway appeared differently in my dreams. 
Glory spilled out, it’s golden luminescence beautiful, but inaccessible except for the sliver of beauty I could see from the crack beneath the door. The door was shut tight, leaving me in outer darkness. I could only stare at the door with a sense of loss.

Consciousness began its work, and with it came a sense as though joy had dropped through the bottom of a trap door. It felt sucked away and in its place was an adipose, nauseous sensation. 
Feeling drugged, I realized I’d been “slimed” by an enemy. It was the best my mind could offer at the moment. For several days afterward I felt that spiritual residue I had encountered in spirit via night vision, affecting me inwardly and outwardly. I couldn’t seem to shake the sense of gross residue.
 My thoughts often returned to that crack beneath the door where glory awaited me on the other side. Worse, a void replaced the joy and passion building in momentum beforehand. Everything I had been experiencing now seemed inaccessible and far removed. I didn’t know how to get back to where I’d been. It all felt so real, so affective, and so continuous.

Days passed and with them the slimed sense. Still, I felt rather defeated somehow, and I didn’t understand how this had occurred. I wanted the glory back! The union I’d been experiencing with God was the best sense of life I’d had yet, I knew it was supposed to be my everyday normal, and somehow…I’d lost it. 
Soon, as the Lord taught me, I came to realize that I’d fallen for an old trick. Perception is a powerful sensory experience! The defeated enemy has limited strategies to work with but they’re not going to just go quietly into the night without a final last attempt to influence our beliefs. They know how reliant we can become on our senses and feelings, and they will manipulate our perception if they can. They will try what they can to distract us from engaging with God to the fullness- good thing they’re no match for us and the Giver of good gifts.

It was partly through this experience I began to learn to walk more by faith than my senses, or lack of. Because my senses felt locked out of the glory, and the gross residue felt so tangible, I behaved as though it was true. My feelings led the way. In reality it was nothing more than illusion. A magic man’s trick. We don’t have to be poisoned by a negative experience. 

As I learned about truth trumping feelings, and sense, I began to stand in the knowledge of Him. Jesus Is the Glory Doorway. Jesus is the Door (John 10:7) What He opens cannot be shut and what He shuts cannot be opened (Revelations 3:7) especially by a defeated enemy. The door stands open for all who are willing to enter. (Revelations 4:1)
For I am persuaded beyond doubt (am sure) that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things impending and threatening nor things to come, nor powers, Nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8: 38,39)

I paid less attention to how things felt or seemed, and studied about our union with Christ, our oneness. I chose truth; truth trumps feelings, senses, and experiences.

In that manner I learned strategy: to know the enemy was still beneath my feet, even if he managed to lob a smoke bomb,  and my emotions are subject to the spirit of Truth. The schemes of the enemy backfired. 

As this became my greater reality, I briefly caught a sparkle again, and realized they have been there all along. It was only my awareness that changed. Now, I often see them, without thinking about it. They are part of us.

“I have given to them the glory and honor which You have given Me, that they may be one [even] as We are one…”             (John 17:22)

Being one spirit means we won’t be separated. We have an all access pass- His name is Jesus. When we know the truth, we know we are free. Free to live in the Glory and majesty of God all all times.

What Kind of Spirit Have You Been Given?

Running several leg lengths would allow me to vault myself past the first couple stairs so that “it” would have less chance to grab my ankles and pull me into the black abyss. Such was my strategizing after about 7 years on semi-hostile planet earth. 

Of course my burgeoning rational capabilities argued The Boogeyman didn’t exist and couldn’t possibly live under the basement stairs in a space of 4h x 3w, but my older brother was quite convincing. He had the ability to authentically mimic a police car siren so that my parents pulled off to the side of the road, looking for the flashing red and blues more than once. He could imitate several of The Muppets, like Gonzo and the Swedish Chef and other TV/movie characters. I was convinced a job was waiting for him in Walt Disney’s studios, so you can see why I might have been inclined to give him the benefit of “possible” when he told me to be sure the boogeyman didn’t grab me from under the stairs. Oddly enough (sarcasm), the boogeyman never entered my conscious consideration prior to his suggestion.

My bother seemed to have early natural insights into Pavlov’s classical training and “little sister” was a quick learner, making associations and being affected by something akin to B.F. Skinner’s operant concept of shaping and chaining. Hence, a long period of leaping to skip stairs and avoid capture when I ascended from the basement of our family home, began. Somehow this “act” would supersede the long armed mystical reach of the boogeyman. I mentally calculated risk probabilities. “If I jump and land on that stair, that one, not the lower one, I’m safe.” Since I could only leap so far, I had to settle for the third step as safe, rather than the tenth. Can you relate on some level? 

This “act of faith” (more aptly named superstition) caused me to become a leaping lannie as a child. I leapt the stairs and bolted the rest of the way to the top each time. I also ran down the hall and leapt into my bed; then the creatures who hid beneath and in my closet couldn’t get me-especially once the covers were pulled over my head, even the one at the foot of the bed had to obey “the rules”! 

As a preteen, I would regularly return late from a long day’s ride, as dusk would fade to black. One night I’d had enough, I leapt through the house door from the dark of night, demanding the barn be burned down! (The barn was actually an old 2-story house drug over from the neighbors, which appeared haunted in particular times of day or night.) Logic: a new, real barn wasn’t a bad idea after all, and the sense of being watched from the second level windows was bad enough, but those creeps in it were creeping me out!

I was also a strong perceiver from a very young age, so I “felt” a lot of things, including in the “barn”. Fortunately my mother’s wisdom and knowledge of the bible exceeded mine and she opted to go pray in the barn instead of striking a match. It was peaceful after that; I’d been convinced it was now unoccupied except for flies, horse dung, and swishing tails in the heat of the day. It would do.

But then there were the Christian ghost tales, the stories of various demons showing up in places they shouldn’t- like the church. Isn’t that a sacred place off limits to devils and vampires alike?! And the pastor seemed a little afraid, or something… Then there were the people who felt like something was sitting on their chest making it hard to breathe-more than one story snuck in my earshot. I decided in my first decade plus that I didn’t want to “see” spiritual things and be further terrorized. For a long while I shut my eyes but I still felt so much. 

There were also the kind of creeps like lust, who often stood behind me or across the room- their watching eyes seeming to bore into me. As time passed, I felt other people’s oppression, depression, and other “-pressions”. Restaurants and crowded places came to feel like a big jangle of sensory stimuli, until I wanted to leave. Hospitals-I felt ill within minutes of entering them. 

Over the years I was undulated with fearful stories, and little evidence of God’s great powers, until even into my twenties I felt like fear was my stalker, encroaching my every aspect of life, backing me into a corner, stealing my confidence and sharing it’s many disappointments. A generalized anxiety became my “mostly normal”, and I felt hyper-sensitized to the awareness of “the darkness” in its various forms.

It’s partly why I liked to be alone on the back of a horse. There, was freedom. There, was an awareness outside of fear and intimidation. Nature, animals and especially horses were where I felt God most, where I came to know his presence best, and where many first lessons about peace, healing, and wonder were learned. It’s the place I first began to sing, and his presence is where I learned the truth about what kind of spirit I was given. 
Had I heard and known these things first, and only, it would have changed the way I had been shaped. Thank God, I learned the truth, and I was reshaped in love. I didn’t need to unlearn the old, rather new learning overwrote the old code I’d been programmed or conditioned to respond to. 

When I understood the kind of spirit I’ve been given*, I stopped being afraid. I began to know confidence. It took a little time to learn who He really is, but I’ve been persuaded. As for fear, fear is at least twofold. 

1) We’ve learned fear through associations, experiences, and pain.

2) Fear is a fearful spirit which counsels out of its own fears, making it the worst kind of counselor.

So what makes us so afraid? The problem is never the problem. We’re most afraid when we feel powerless. Something or someone in creation feels bigger and more powerful than we do, in a threatening manner. It’s also something we learned. We have been full of childlike faith, believed the “impossible”, and we have cowered at mere suggestion, because we learned pain, and we learned fear and we learned so many things from the knowledge of good and evil. We weren’t meant to. We were meant to learn Him- this spirit of love, peace and joy.

We were meant to be powerful, to feel confident, to know our dominion. We were intended for power, love and soundness. 

We’ve been given a spirit. Deliberately. On purpose. But this spirit is different. This spirit is holy, a spirit of counsel and of might, who is wonderful, wise and understanding, just and true. The spirit we’ve been given is one of power, love and soundness. One who acts as our advocate, our strengthener, our teacher and leader into all truth. We’ve been given the spirit of comfort and reconciliation. The spirit who reveals the deep mysteries of God and creation, filling us with knowledge too wonderful to know on our own, a spirit of revelation, a spirit who distinguishes between truth and lies, and brings freedom from the slavish bonds of fear. A spirit who echoes our adoption as children of God. 

Because we’ve been given this kind of spirit, our own spirit becomes just as He is. We are joined as one and we receive His love, his soundness, his wisdom, his fearlessness, his courage, his strength, his truth, his thoughts, his power and might. 

This last year has been something rather special. Before 2015 began I received two themes from the Lord: Grace, Grace and Rest. These were not predictive of an easy, simple year; rather they were words to live by, words to anchor in, words to meditate on, to reassure, to empower. Prior to that the theme had been on how to stand. 

2015 was the year my family would hear frightful things, things meant to make our hearts believe and feel the worst kinds of fear-fear inducing words and phrases like:

He has cancer, numbered days, it’s matasticized, here are some options-what do you want to do? radiation, chemo…

We don’t know- you can try this, okay, try that, ultrasound, google that,some people never get better, this test, CT scan, okay more tests, heart monitor, cardiologist. We can’t help you more, eventually you’ll be better.

Your mom’s had a stroke, can you come (to the other side of the country)? and upon arrival- You need to decide, your dad isn’t able to. What do you want to do?
I’ll probably be gone a month, sorry about Christmas, I really wish I could be home with you and the boys but … 

They stopped life support, she’s gone; dementia…He can’t live alone, what do you want to do?

We’re sorry to hear about your loss. Let us know what you would like to do. 

We have received your withdrawal letter for your program. If you want to enroll in the future, let us know. 

What do you want to do? What do you want to do? What anyone wants to do- rewind, fast forward, delete, delete, delete.
I felt a lot of things this year. I’m saying, a lot of things. But fear? No. Not fear. Fear is unwelcome. It’s foe not friend. And something else…
I’ve been persuaded by love. 

Perfect, complete love casts out all fear because love is power. Love empowers us to believe that the spirit we’ve been given is powerful and sound, and a stronger strongman than the one who’s been made so popular by fear. 

Oh sure, fear hoped I’d take it back, we were codependent for so long! But it’s foreign enough now, when it’s sneaks around I sense it immediately. It feels like a stranger instead of my old counselor. It tried, but I knew it wasn’t mine. It made suggestions, it offered advice as it came within earshot through the words of people it influenced. I stared at them at times; taken aback by their expectations. I realized they knew fear, but not Love. 

But I’d already been persuaded. And I still am. I can’t always know what today will hold, what may come tomorrow. Sometimes Holy Spirit (or Homy Spirit as my fingers often accidentally type- ya He’s my Homy too!) gives me a heads up- a brief preview of the future. And other times I’m caught by surprise like any other.

But this one thing I’ve concluded. I refuse to allow fear to steal my peace for now and tomorrow. I won’t be robbed of today, I won’t live in fear of tomorrow. I learned when anxiety or some other form of fear comes knocking, to bring myself to a place of peace within seconds. My feelings cannot rule; my spirit must, led by the spirit I’ve been given. 

Maybe you’re facing a difficult situation right now, or maybe one is coming and in this moment, you are blissfully unaware. We may face many dangers, but fear is optional. We don’t usually think so, but we can choose to be afraid, or not. Love is a choice as well. You’ve been given a spirit, but He is Good; receive Him in all his goodness and benefits. As He is, so we are in this world.

A few key verses that helped reshape my thinking and being:

2Timothy 1:7
For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control.

Romans 8:15
For [the Spirit which] you have now received [is] not a spirit of slavery to put you once more in bondage to fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption [the Spirit producing sonship] in [the bliss of] which we cry, Abba (Father)! Father!

John 14:26
But the Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, Standby), the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My name [in My place, to represent Me and act on My behalf], He will teach you all things. And He will cause you to recall (will remind you of, bring to your remembrance) everything I have told you.

1 Corinthians 2: 10-12
Yet to us God has unveiled and revealed them by and through His Spirit, for the [Holy] Spirit searches diligently, exploring and examining everything, even sounding the profound and bottomless things of God [the divine counsels and things hidden and beyond man’s scrutiny]…

Now we have not received the spirit [that belongs to] the world, but the [Holy] Spirit Who is from God, [given to us] that we might realize and comprehend and appreciate the gifts [of divine favor and blessing so freely and lavishly] bestowed.

But as for you, the anointing (the sacred appointment, the unction) which you received from Him abides [permanently] in you; [so] then you have no need that anyone should instruct you. But just as His anointing teaches you concerning everything and is true and is no falsehood, so you must abide in (live in, never depart from) Him [being rooted in Him, knit to Him], just as [His anointing] has taught you [to do].
Isaiah 11: 2-4
And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him—the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the reverential and obedient fear of the Lord—

And shall make Him of quick understanding, and His delight shall be in the reverential and obedient fear of the Lord. And He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes, neither decide by the hearing of His ears;

But with righteousness and justice shall He judge the poor and decide with fairness for the meek, the poor, and the downtrodden of the earth…

Is it Mental Illness, or is it Psychological Warfare?

Several years ago, I had an a very negative experience.

The church I attended was experiencing some big changes and although these were good, an enemy had an agenda too.

Difficulties began to emerge relationally, a number of people were confused, hurt and communication began to break down. People’s minds and hearts were under assault. It became clear that there was more at work than human souls.

I assumed the affects were localized to people directly involved in some of the conflicts. Therefore, My experience seemed bizzare and unrelated to praying about these issues.

I began to have mental flashes, intrusive mental pictures and short movie type scenes playing in my mind that no one would want. They seemed intermittent at first and were disturbing. Then the frequency increased and occurred both at night and in the day.

At this point of such an experience, many people begin to wonder, “Am I  going crazy? Am I losing it?” or assume that this can be the only plausible answer. Sometimes, maybe most times, it’s psychological warfare.

Because I didn’t understand what was occuring and didn’t seem to know how to completely block these images from my mind, I began to feel distressed and anxious. My present experience seemed to outweigh my spiritual training–my understanding needed upgraded, but not the way I expected.

When we encounter new things, or the unknown, we are in learning mode. We Don’t feel we have all the info needed for the present. We have past experience and victories to guide our responses, but more so, we pay close attention to our commander for more Intel and directions.

On Ground level, such experiences may feel chaotic. It’s hard to see what’s actually taking place, and Friendly Fire may occur. What we experience at ground zero may feel intense, confusing, painful.

At some point, I shared with someone that I was experiencing some unusual things and found out that many others were as well. In this situation, trying to figure out what spirit is creating the trouble is often typical protocol for spiritual warfare.

Many, if not most of us, have been taught in both the natural world and the spiritual, we need to trace the source of the enemy attack in order to be free, to find out how the enemy found a door or legal right. This typical response is so opposite of what Holy Spirit began to teach me.

Often we are taught things that sound spiritual but aren’t necessary to our freedom and may even cause us to feel more bound up. When we honestly desire truth, He will lead us into it.

Eventually the trouble all stopped, and in the aftermath I could see so clearly what I couldn’t in the midst of the experience. Because it had seemed so real, I was afraid that somehow I might be at fault for what I was experiencing, or that I might be losing the ground I had previously gained-even though my whole heart was resisting and I just wanted it to end.

I’ve learned so much since that experience about a new kind of weapon. A type of “warfare” that consists of a state of Rest.

Sometimes people describe contending for something and yet as I listen to them it sounds more like they are praying from a place of fear, or trying to shadow box (which is what I’d been experiencing with those mental flashes).
True contending comes from a place of standing firm in confidence, knowing that we have the upper hand in authority and power, convinced that we are already triumphant.

As I thought about that past experience, I found myself wishing that someone could have identified the real issue and told me:

The fact is you Are Free, and no attempt to affect you changes that. Nothing has changed in reality; you are experiencing a ruse.  

All I really needed was to know that it was merely smoke and mirrors; it wasn’t me and wasn’t mine and I didn’t need to react as though it was. I could have simply rested and known I was just fine, ignoring the mind tricks. Any tactic the enemy was using was simply that-a tactic. Nothing had actually changed.

None of it was real. 

Like in the Divergent serieswhen Tris is in the water tank and seems about to drown (which felt very real to her in the moment) but suddenly she saw and knew the truth:

“This isn’t real.”

The experience was a phenomena of the mind that felt very real, like a dream might, but when she realized it was merely a psychological phenomena, she was free that instant-actually she had been free the whole time. She simply came to that awarenessTest over.

The experience I had was one of the worst types of torment I’d ever experienced. But now I know something I didn’t understand then:

If it’s not His, it’s not mine.

I am one spirit with Christ (1 Corinthians 6:17). I don’t have to shadow box a defeated enemy. I don’t need to wear myself out resisting, repeatedly declaring, binding, and trying to block the enemy from messing with my head, sparring until I’m exhausted, only to start all over again the next day or time.

Here’s a fact. Our spiritual enemies are narcissists. They love for the focus to be on them. The more you spar the more egomanic they behave. That’s why Rest is an amazing weapon. It’s function is much like the imagery in Psalm 23.


THE LORD is my Shepherd [to feed, guide, and shield me], I shall not lack.
He makes me lie down in [fresh, tender] green pastures; He leads me beside the still and restful waters.
He refreshes and restores my life (my self); He leads me in the paths of righteousness [uprightness and right standing with Him—not for my earning it, but] for His name’s sake.
Yes, though I walk through the [deep, sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I will fear or dread no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head withoil; my [brimming] cup runs over. Surely or only goodness, mercy, and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life, and through the length of my days the house of the Lord [and His presence] shall be my dwelling place.

I can dismiss whatever isn’t good, pure, noble or trustworthy because the Strong Man (Holy Spirit) lives in me. This house is filled. I can set my gaze on the One who loves me and gave himself for me.

Experientially we learn to live in our dominion too. When we know the truth, we experience and live the Helmet of Salvation, the mind of Christ.                                  Our mind becomes a fortress of peace when we understand the truth.

We don’t have to feel vulnerable,  we can be confident in trust, and enter His rest.

See TheologyMom for another testimony.