Wednesday, October 26, 2011

"But they might not like me..."

One of the biggest things I've had to learn in my rehab time is that you cannot get people to like you all of the time, and that there are sometimes things that you need to do and say which will hurt others, but just because you are hurting someone else doesn't always mean that it's the wrong thing to do.

The bible says that hating someone is the same as murdering them in your heart. One of the biggest lies I have believed is that if I was rejected, disliked or hated by anyone else, it would basically be the end of my life in a literal sense. Internally, I would feel like I was dying as a result of the actions of others. Though I believe the biblical verse is true, I think that statement more applies to those who do the hating rather than those who are hated, as those who do the hating have to live with murder in their hearts as a result of their choice to hate another person.

God disciplines people, and discipline hurts. But it doesn't mean it's the wrong thing. The truth hurts. Beware the kisses of an enemy more than the harsh words of a friend. There are people who deeply hate and resent God for who He is. But their hatred does not define who God is. God does not want to be hated. But He is a lover of truth and truth is more important than being liked. Their hatred cannot kill Him. They can hate Him all they want, but He's still going to be strong regardless of their feelings.

As I've begun to break through the lies that have kept me in prison for so long I have begun to learn to be more honest with people and less afraid to tell them the truth. I've had conversations with people that I've literally been putting off for years because I didn't have the balls to say anything until now. Some people may not like me as a result of what I've said. Not long ago, the knowledge that I was disliked because of something I said or did was so defeating and depressing I would have collapsed internally until such a time as I was able to apologize profusely in order to rectify the situation. Because I am learning to be stronger in myself, I can now honestly say I don't care anywhere near as much. I go by the conviction of the Holy Spirit and when He moves me to apologize, I will. But I am not going to apologize for something I've said or done simply because guilt and negativity tries to overwhelm me and tell me that I need to. That's not conviction at all and chances are if you feel like that about something you've done, you've done the right thing.

You don't influence the world around you by getting everyone to like you all of the time. Lots of people hated Jesus because of who He was. But it didn't stop Him. The fact that they hated Him means that He was having an effect on people's lives because He wasn't afraid to tell them the truth. Everyone likes a peacemaker and a soothsayer. Not everyone likes someone who comes and hits you with a sledgehammer of truth, as it often hurts like blazes. But the fact is - it's that sledgehammer of truth that changes things and forces people to face up to stuff.

There was a time early in my Christian walk when I deeply resented God for some of the things that happened to me which I did not believe I deserved. They hurt like blazes and I blamed Him for it. But I realize now that the pain of those experiences was the best thing that could have happened to me at the time. It forced me to start facing up to the darkness in my heart and changing my life for the better. Sure, God could have given me everything I "wanted" back then, which of course was an easy ride with no pain or hardship involved. But in the end, it would have destroyed me, as the internal darkness that wasn't getting dealt with would have eaten me alive from within.

God knew I wasn't going to like what He did, and even that I wasn't going to like Him for a while. But that didn't stop Him hitting me with the truth. And I am now glad it happened. I still have a way to go, but I am stronger and wiser than before. God can survive the depth of people's hatred towards Him for telling the truth and not holding back. And God wants to develop our character the same way. To have soft hearts but hard foreheads to take the punches life throws at us for doing the right thing and telling the truth regardless of how it is received.

It's a process, like everything. To begin with, I hated it. But I am slowly learning to embrace it. And I am witnessing a changed heart as a result.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Traveler

I'm going for a slightly different blog post this time. I want to do something that signifies the end of the road I've been walking, so I've decided to do a prophetic poem about reaching the end of the spiritual wilderness. It's called "The Traveler."

A battered hiking boot scuffs the dry sand as the traveler comes to a stop.
He wipes the sweat and dust from his brow and presses his water bottle to his parched lips.
The liquid trickles down his throat and the sense of refreshment spreads throughout his being.
The end of the road is here at last.
The traveler turns to face the journey he's known for so long.
The only journey he's ever known.
The only road he's ever traveled.
The sun, once blazing overhead, is now setting behind the hills, yet he can still make out the hundreds of miles he has covered in the distance.
Obstacles that once seemed unconquerable, now stand as milestones, far off in the distance, remembered but also forgotten.
He remembers it all so clearly.
He remembers the sun burning his skin and the heat parching his throat.
He remembers the unforgiving hardness of the ground he trod upon, ground he hit in full force and had to painfully drag himself up from once too often.
He remembers the vultures circling, an omen of death, waiting for him to give up on the journey.
He remembers the deep weariness he felt in his very bones.
He remembers looking at the road ahead and thinking it would never end, thinking that the sun would never stop, thinking that the road would be the end of him.
It's all behind him now, and he can't quite believe it.
But he remembers one more thing.
He remembers the One who was with him the whole way.
That still, small voice, giving him the strength to go on.
Even when he was stuck at the foot of an obstacle he thought he'd never get past, the voice was there.
In the hottest part of the day, the voice was there.
In the blackest depth of the night, the voice was there.
When the traveler shook with fear, seethed with anger or boiled over in frustration, the voice was there.
He thought it would never end.
But it has.
He's a new man now.
There's a clarity, a wisdom and a strength about him that was never there before.
He has the long, dusty road to thank for that.
And the One who continued to encourage him to walk down it, even though everything inside him was screaming at him to quit.
As he looks back, there is no weariness in his eyes.
No anger, no resentment, no regret,
Only a sense of peace and calmness he's never truly experienced before.
As he faces the road he's traveled, he utters two simple words, he thought he'd never say when talking about his journey.
"Thank you."
He then turns around and faces forwards with a grin that can barely fit on his face.
The time of darkness is over.
The promised land awaits.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The deception of control

I'm feeling pretty raw about this subject at the moment, which usually means its a good time to blog about it, as rawness usually translates into interesting reading.

One of the most inspirational people in my journey to healing and wholeness has been James Hetfield of Metallica. This guy had everything - millions of dollars, millions of fans, a wife and 4 kids, global fame and recognition, talent, and the ability to do what he loves for a living. And he still had the guts to go into rehab for alcoholism and sort himself out. He came out a totally different man.

One of the main things he spoke about upon returning from recovery was that most of his education in rehab was about giving up the need to control things. He spoke about how he learned to use intimidation and rage to control people and get them to act the way that he wanted them to, and how his focus became about unlearning all of this behavior, which is where he found his healing.

This spoke so much to me. Throughout my own "God-ordered rehabilitation" that I've been going through recently, I've realized just how much of my life has been consumed by the need to control things. One of the main ways I've done this is through passive behavior - being "too nice", if you will. It is easy to pass this off as just being a "laid-back person" or a "peacekeeper" but in reality, for me it has been a constant sense of manipulation based in fear.

I thought if I could control myself completely, then I could control the actions of those around me. I thought that if I used passive behavior, I could control the actions of those around me to make them act how I wanted them to. Intimidation was never going to work as I'm not the biggest person around physically, so passive behavior seemed the way to go. I began to see this work in different areas of my life, which gave me confirmation to build my entire life around it as I believed that it could keep me safe.

In reality, this was all a lie. I see now that I cannot control or change the actions of others. Though I may think that I am safe, all it would take is a tornado or something to destroy my house and belongings to make me realize my own fragile mortality and shatter my little bubble of control. I could be the nicest person in the world, and that still couldn't stop some people from wanting to tear me to pieces. In fact, it may even encourage them to do it even more, as you don't win respect by being a doormat.

My healing and wholeness is not going to come from being able to control and sit on top of my own emotions and the entire world around me in some kind of place of power or authority, as that's just like trying to sit on top of a rug with thousands of mice under it - it's not going to stay still and they are going to be constantly running out from underneath you. Trying to stay up there is just futile and a waste of time. My healing is going to come from me learning to completely accept that I cannot control everything, least of all people - and that I'm not going to die if someone has a go at me and hurts me because I'm not striving to overcome them.

That has been a huge lie I've believed as well - that I couldn't survive the inevitable feeling of vulnerability that comes from realizing that you can't control things. I've realized that although I may feel like I'm dying inside, those feelings are just telling lies as in reality I am still standing and still walking. The only prison I am in, is the prison of fear itself. I am an overcomer. I've faced years of hardship, failed relationships, a bleeding stomach ulcer that nearly had me bleeding to death, months of unemployment and had to break through some very dark strongholds in my own life. I've shed blood, sweat and tears into my Christian walk over the last ten years and I have the scars, the wisdom and the grey hairs to prove it. No matter what happens, I'll keep on getting back up.

Complete control of our world is a lie. Only God can do that and He asks us to put our trust in Him that even though we don't know what's going to happen, with Him guiding us, whatever pitfalls we may face, He'll see us through.

Take care.