Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Understanding fear

As an anxiety sufferer, fear is something I have become very familiar with over the years as it has dominated most of my life. Throughout my Christian walk, large portions of my time have gone into studying the complexities of human emotions using myself as the primary example - fear being one of the main ones. I wish to share this post with you all in the hope of bringing some enlightenment into your lives on this topic.

1. Fear comes from within.

It is so easy to sit and blame fear on things around us when for the most part, fear actually comes from within ourselves. Granted, there are times when this logic does not apply - i.e. if you are walking on the edge of a cliff and a wind is blowing against you, feeling some fear that you may be blown off is quite natural and understandable. But there are also many, many times when the fear we are facing is far less about our external circumstances and more about ourselves and wrong thinking we carry within our hearts.

I used to be afraid of everything, and everyone. Afraid of people, afraid of speaking, afraid of confrontation, afraid of car accidents, you name it, chances are, I was afraid of it. I have been walking the Christian faith for the last 12 years. This journey has taken me within - to look inside myself to find the root of these fears. I had so much fear in my life that living a life where I never had to face anything I was afraid of was completely impossible. Yet now I am walking with a freedom greater than any I have ever known. I am not completely free yet by any means but I am more free than I have ever been in my life. Things that used to terrify me to the point where I was nothing but a shaking mess - I can laugh at them now. Why? Because I had to realize that the source of fear had nothing to do with other people. It had nothing to do with speaking, confrontation, car accidents or anything like that. The source of the fear was me.

I could try and never drive a car again in order to avoid my fear of accidents - but this was nearly impossible, not to mention highly impractical and would have been very frustrating for those who continually had to drive me places! The main reason why just avoiding driving was wrong, however, was because it wasn't dealing with the root of the problem. It was just cutting the leaves off of the weed. This fear needed to be faced at its source - the weed of fear needed to be pulled out by its roots. In order to do that, I needed to learn to look within myself and find the true answers there.

2. Fear is so much more complex than we realize.

It annoys me when people are just told to "get over their fears" because so often, it's just not that simple. In my younger years as a Christian I was given a lot of advice by well-meaning people who wanted to help that didn't actually help me to get through my fears at all. People would tell me things like "You've just got to listen to more Christian music", "You just need to pray in tongues more" and "You've just got to feel the fear and do it anyway". The first two didn't help me at all, sorry to say. The last one did indeed have some merit as there were times when I did need to "feel the fear and do it anyway" yet overall this wasn't really a permanent solution as each day I would just face the same exhausting exercise of doing something while my whole body was shaking with fear.

As I began to learn about the spiritual forces that had been passed down to me through the generational lines I began to see that my fear was so much more complicated than I could ever have imagined. There were layers and layers of wrong thinking in my life - subconscious belief systems I carried within my own heart and operated out of without realizing. I began to heal myself properly when I began to face these fears and walk through them in full with the guidance and continued revelation of the Holy Spirit who gave me words of knowledge to help me understand what was happening within myself and gave me the right words to confess which helped bring these fears to the light, which caused them to lose their power and hold over me. This was the journey I needed to walk through to truly begin to eradicate fear from my life. Just "getting over it" simply would never have worked and would just have resulted in a lifetime of frustration.

3. God takes us on a path to help us face our fears.

God wants us to be whole, healed and fearless in Him. In the Bible it says "Do not fear" 365 times - one for each day of the year. My journey with God has involved walking through the darkest, most painful and most fear-contaminated parts of my life. He has lead me into situations that have truly frightened me beyond what I realized. Why? To torment me? Not at all - because this was where I needed to walk to bring the horrible fears to the surface that had been lurking in my subconscious mind for so long and polluting my life from the inside out with a constant sense of dread, uncertainty and anxiety. God lead me through these places not to hurt me - but to help me to heal once and for all.

I am currently in a time of rest. Being an anxiety sufferer, rest is not something I am familiar with or even remotely comfortable with. I am facing deeply uncertain circumstances in my life at this point. I am getting married in just a few weeks, with nowhere to live lined up as of yet, no job and no money to pay for anything. Yet I am not afraid. God told me this morning that this is a time of rest for me, and to not be afraid because He holds my future. Was this hard to hear? It was - until I finally realized why I found it so hard. I realized that I have associated rest with unimaginable fear and torment. I realized that I have been carrying a subconscious belief system that tells me that the most fearful and terrifying place to be in in life is a place where you feel as if you have nothing to fear whatsoever and are therefore oblivious due to blissful ignorance.

The subconscious message in my heart has told me this; "In the place where you fear nothing, that is the place to be most afraid because you are unprepared for anything and able to be taken completely by surprise. The most terrifying thing you could ever go through would be to believe that all was well and suddenly realize all too late that things were not well at all, and that you should have realized this earlier, but you didn't and therefore didn't prepare to prevent this. You weren't prepared for something bad to happen, so when it happened it was all your fault because you should have known better and should have done something to stop it. The only way you can stop horrible surprise attacks coming at you that you don't expect is to be expectant all the time - to be constantly on your guard and prepared for the worst."

This subconscious message has been buried in my thinking for as long as I can remember and has pretty much defined my entire life and caused a deep sense of restlessness as well as a constant sense of doubt and mistrust of pretty much everyone and everything connected to me throughout my life. God realized that I needed to face this so He has put me in a position where I've got no choice but to rest even when I probably should be stressing out. He's done this because I needed to face this deep, dark and insidious wrong thinking. The path He set me on was the path I needed to walk down because it was the only way I could face this fear and thus finally begin to heal of it.

In conclusion, I hope this has shed some light for someone. If fear grips your heart, as it did mine - there is a way out of it. Jesus loves you and He wants to help you. He wants to help you rid your life of fear so that you can live with the quality of life you've always wanted. He can (and probably will) lead you into hard places - but remember that He has got you in the palm of His hands, and that the places He will lead you are the places that you need to go in order to remove fear, doubt and insecurity from your life. It will be painful, as facing your fears can hurt. But it's productive pain, and on the other side of it is a life that can be truly enjoyed.

Take care.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Depression: A view from the inside out

Today, I have the great pleasure of being the host on the final day of the Virtual Blog Tour for Richard David Price, author of the brand new book Beating the Adversary: A True Story of Schizoaffective Disorder, officially released on 1st December, 2014.  On its debut, it became Amazon’s #1 best-selling new release in ‘schizophrenia’.

RICHARD DAVID PRICE was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder as a teenager, as a result of a childhood accident.
Despite his difficult adolescence, he went on to complete a Master’s Degree in Business and has two children to whom he is devoted.
He is a devout member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and feels his mission in life is to help spread hope that we all can overcome our personal challenges.
Yesterday, Richard visited Pippa Moye's 'Silver Ray Healing Therapies' blog at http://www.silver-ray.co.uk, where they talked about how Rick's spiritual beliefs have helped him.
Today, I'd like to share with you a recent interview I had with Richard, when I asked him to share his thoughts on depression and medication.
GRAHAM: How do you best define Schizoaffective Disorder?
RICHARD: A schizoaffective disorder is a condition in which a person experiences a combination of schizophrenia symptoms (delusions, hallucinations, paranoia, etc.) and serious mood disorder symptoms (clinical depression or bipolar mood swings).  It affects every aspect of the patient's ability to function in social situations – with friends, in the home, at school, and at work – leading to a life of differing degrees of isolation.  It is not as defined as other mental health issues and symptoms differ from patient to patient. 
GRAHAM: Have you had experiences with depression? If so, what was it like and how did you cope?
RICHARD: Schizoaffective Disorder is depression on steroids, so yes, I understand what depression is like and I feel very deeply for those who suffer from it.  It’s a little like an easy 50-piece-puzzle that may be hard for some.  Of course, if you break down depression, it is just emotion, for the most part.  Emotions can be controlled, although most people don't mind extremely happy people.  In fact, most people I start to get to know are so skilled at putting on that game face that you would not even know they had depression of some kind until they open their mouths. Then, if you know what to listen for, the truth will come out, and most of the time it just smacks you in the face.  Maybe that’s why people are afraid of the quiet ones, because they don't know what they’re thinking.
Imagine a girl just standing there with her friend, and a cute guy walks by.  In an instant, this girl goes from very still to playing with her hair like crazy.  Or imagine a guy just sitting on some steps, dressed all in black with hair in spikes.  When you get close, you see in his lap a small notebook, and the beginnings of a drawing of a bird.  You never really know what these people are thinking.  I think that is the point.
If you have depression, choose to live.  If you don't, choose to show compassion.
I was a kid who liked comics.  I once created my ideal superhero and actually wrote down that he “did not have asthma” (I suffer from very bad allergies and asthma attacks).  I found it years later and remembered the feeling that I had to lose everything that could slow me down, to be who I wanted to be.  But asthma is not a life stopper.  It is only a reminder of being human. Depression is just like asthma, in that way; it is not a life stopper.  Learn to take care of it, and move on.
GRAHAM: What are your thoughts on antidepressant medication?
RICHARD: Simply put, I am for them as long, as they are administered properly and prescribed by a good psychologist, not the family doctor.
I hope you enjoyed this brief interview with author Richard Price and that you'll check out his new book Beating the Adversary: A True Story of Schizoaffective Disorder.
When you buy Beating the Adversary during its official Amazon launch, you’ll also receive a free novel entitled The Ladder by Vrinda Pendred, founder of Conditional Publications – an independent publisher dedicated to writers with neurological conditions.
To buy Beating the Adversary
and get your free novel, go to:
Thanks for reading! Please do share your comments and thoughts below. I love reading your feedback.

And, as this is the last day of Richard's Virtual Blog Tour, I hope you'll swing back to the top of the tour, when he visited Ana Mirjam Brucker at http://blog.inspiredplanet.co/, where they spoke about alternative therapies and the impact of receiving his diagnosis.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Believe in yourself

The subject of self belief has been one that I've struggled with my whole life. I've only recently begun to learn to do it and I have realized just how necessary it is for future success of any kind - whether it be in employment situations, relationships or anything else.

Due to the overpowering spiritual, emotional and psychological forces that have corrupted my thinking since the day that I was born, my self belief from day one was next to zero and people would often remark that I was "very anxious" and that I "didn't have a lot of self confidence". And they were right. After all, it's nearly impossible to believe in yourself when you have had so much negative, wrong thinking within yourself due to forces beyond your control. It becomes all you ever know and though the forces behind this wrong thinking are lies, if the root of the lie hasn't been exposed it still feels like truth and has power over you.

I only started to learn about the depth of the wrong thinking that had polluted my mind in my late 20's. Up until this point in time I was by and large a very passive, timid and fearful person - believing that others were always in the right and I was most definitely always in the wrong. If someone stood against me - it simply must be because I was wrong, otherwise they wouldn't be standing against me in the first place. My self belief was so low that the slightest sense of opposition would cause me to instantly collapse in on myself and basically repent to whoever was opposing me for everything - even if they were totally in the wrong. Needless to say - this was a miserable way of life for me. I was often mercilessly bullied and taken for granted by people who would then scold me if I reacted in any way (which rarely happened anyway as my confidence was so low.) I was the perfect servant - to everyone else except myself.

After going through burnout in 2011 which was in a sense being completely torn down and destroyed, God began the rebuilding process in my life from the ground up. One of the first things He began to work on was this non-existent sense of self belief I had. Over the course of 3 years since I burned out, He put me in two different situations where I was forced to "get over myself" and stand up for something. One situation was a godless, selfish relationship between two people who didn't care who they hurt just so long as they got what they wanted, and whom most of the people around them sided with saying that they "were so perfect for each other" etc, despite the fact that they left broken hearts and irreparable damage to friendships and relationships behind them. The other situation was one that arose in a church where the leadership allowed some very dangerous people to have a lot of control and influence over the church to the point where the safety of the existing members of the congregation was being compromised - so much so that people were being physically assaulted in the church while the leadership stood up and did nothing, even going so far as to send the police away when they were called to deal with these people engaging in physical violence outside the church building.

I stood up for myself and what I strongly believed was right in both situations. It was hard, and it was frightening. My default way of thinking was to back down and pretend like everything was ok, to blame myself for the way things had gone down, and to just stand back and let things happen. This was the safer alternative - one that kept everybody happy, didn't challenge anyone, and meant that I could continue my invisible existence as a timid, fragile human who hid in the shadows because he was too afraid to move into the light and stand for anything. But I knew deep in my spirit that this was not right, and that it's not what I was called to do. So I stood up for what was right - even though I was scared to death in the process.

Needless to say - I received a lot of opposition. People told me that I was wrong, that I was jealous, that I was insecure, that I was bitter, that I was fearful and that I was operating out of major character deficiencies in my own life, and that I needed to repent. I could feel the negative thinking trying to overpower me from within - to get me to back down, submit, repent. Saying things like "these church leaders are much older and more experienced than you are, Graham. They must be right, you must be wrong. There's no way that they are in the wrong in this - it's all you" - and other things like "Are you really sure you've heard from God? Did God REALLY tell you to stand against that couple?You've been wrong before. You're wrong again. You're at fault here, nothing will go away until you go and repent." But there was something inside of me that just said that backing down was wrong, and that I was actually in the right, despite what my built-in doubt and negativity was trying to tell me. But I still couldn't make peace with myself. So I went to God with a doubtful heart and asked Him if I was really in the right with these situations because I was struggling to believe that I was right, especially with all of the opposition I was receiving.

His reply was simple - "Graham, you are in the right. Your problem is that you don't believe that you are in the right because you don't believe in yourself. If you were wrong in either of these situations, I would have told you. I've put these situations in your life to reveal to bring up all of this lack of confidence and self doubt that has plagued you for so long. The opposition you are receiving from others is helping you to see the wrong thinking you already have in your own heart. Face that and deal with it, and you will learn to become more comfortable with what you believe in despite any opposition you may receive."

This word encouraged me to realize that there are times when I genuinely am in the right, and that in these two situations I was in the right with both of them. It helped me to realize that my fear and doubt regarding the stance I took was not because I was in the wrong in standing up for what I felt was right, but that my fear and doubt was that I genuinely didn't believe I could ever be in the right about anything, which contributed hugely to my passive, timid, pushover nature. God's word to me helped me to begin to believe in myself and my own instincts, and that if His Spirit was not convicting me otherwise and that every part of me was telling me that I needed to stand up and fight against something, those instincts were not wrong and sinful and needed to be trusted. I had to realize that if I was ever going to be a success of any kind, self belief was a key part of that.

It also taught me to realize that just because someone was opposing me, didn't automatically mean that I was in the wrong. In the first instance with the relationship that hurt so many people I began to realize that many of the people who so strongly sided with this couple did it not because they believed that I was in the wrong - but because it didn't suit them that they were in the wrong. In a conversation with one person who strongly supported them, God strongly convicted me to tell this person that He had told me to stand against them. As soon as I did this, he finally grudgingly admitted that he knew that I was in the right. I realized he was quite happy to sit there and lie to himself about what had happened because the truth didn't suit him even though he knew what it was. The Word of God cut through the lies he was telling me - and himself. I later confronted him about this and he had no argument because he knew that I was right. Despite how strong and forceful his initial argument was against what I had done, it eventually all collapsed because it wasn't based on truth. Ultimately we parted ways and haven't spoken since.

The important thing to notice here is that God ordained all of these events to happen to me because they were exactly what I had needed. Because I was such a frightened, limited, timid person I needed these situations to happen to force me out of my comfort zone of timidity and into a place where I was forced to stand up for something and stand by it later on. I needed to go through these things and I needed to upset people by standing for the truth in order to learn to believe in myself and my own instincts - and to trust that I do hear from God and that I can be right even when faced with opposition. It helped me to realize that opposition doesn't always mean that you are in the wrong - sometimes quite the opposite. It was a huge part of the building blocks to complete recovery and full mental wholeness and healing in my life.

I imagine that if I was by default a strong, outwardly aggressive person who oozed a sense of indestructible self belief and self righteousness, I would probably have had to go through the opposite in order to humble me. But God did this because I didn't need more humbling - I needed to be built up stronger. Since these events I have seen a remarkable change in myself. I am still not in the place of self belief I need to be in quite yet but I still feel so much freer than I did before. I have so much more faith in what I say now and how I feel about things and I have that much more confidence and belief in my own instincts and what my own heart is telling me - even if it opposes the views of other people.

To conclude - if you've been as passive and timid as what I have been, there is hope for you. There is a God who cares and wants to build you into a strong person from the inside out. Sometimes He will challenge you to do hard and scary things which will bring opposition to your life which will try to convince you that you are in the wrong. Don't fear these times. He's using this to bring up the fear, doubt and lack of belief in your life so that you can face it and deal with it, which will make you a stronger person. He's setting you up for a better life - a life of strength and courage, where you could do things you never felt that you could do before.

Take care.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Sowing and reaping

I've been thinking and meditating a lot on Galatians 6:7 recently - "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked. A man reaps what he sows." This is a scripture I've had in my mind a lot over the years, and I have desired to understand it more. Recently I feel as if I have come to some real revelation about the truth behind this scripture.

In my younger years I used to struggle with wrong belief systems that told me that people's actions had no consequences whatsoever. This made me very angry and created a strong desire for revenge as I felt that "if I don't do something about this then no-one will because there's no such thing as consequences for people's actions against me, unless I go out of the way to make consequences for them." This thinking was caused in part by a powerlessness I struggled with which communicated to me that I was not strong enough to be able to change anything that I was facing, therefore it couldn't be changed. There was no belief in God's overriding power and control above and beyond all things.

This belief system caused a lack of faith in the judgment, justice and character of God and created a lot of anger towards things which were seemingly out of anyone's control so could never be put right. Often if I tried to stand up for myself I would face consequences for doing that which communicated to me that "other people's actions towards me have no consequences because they are allowed to get away with anything, yet my actions towards others have consequences. This isn't fair!" This wrong belief system created a lot of anger and a belief that justice would not - and could not - be done.

However I have begun to realize that whatever we have in our hearts - be it good or bad - will bring forth fruit which will be shown in our lives. We sow seed out of what we carry within our own hearts. We sow seed in terms of the words we speak, the decisions we make, the actions we perform. And the sowing of that seed will bring in a harvest. Whether or not it's good or bad is dependent on what we sow because at the end of the day, God's Word is faithful and true and cannot return to Him void.

I have sown a lot of negative seed over the years - mainly in terms of negativity towards myself and my own abilities to change things or impact my own environment. There have been times in the past when I have sat back and allowed myself to be viciously bullied in work places and allowed so-called "friends" to lie to my face so that they could get something they wanted for themselves. I allowed these things to happen because I believed that I was powerless to change them. Some of these events still fill me with regret - mainly because I wish that I had stepped up and taken charge of things and fought for myself rather than sitting back passively because I believed I was too weak to do anything. I disrespected myself and I didn't deserve the disrespect I gave to myself. Granted, I am a different person now and far more capable of standing up for myself and what I believe is right - but these events have still hurt me and I wish I had the power to go back and change them.

The negative seed I had sown came from the spiritual inheritance I was born into, which I was operating out of without realizing. Granted - it wasn't my fault I had this inheritance, so it wasn't my fault that this seed was given to me, and because I was unaware of it at the time and therefore unable to deal with it accordingly I sowed that seed into my life through my own words and actions. The seeds of passiveness and fear I was sowing had me reaping a harvest of bullying and control from other people. The harvest greatly damaged my self esteem, confidence and emotional well being.

As hard as this has been - this has helped me to realize the true concept of biblical sowing and reaping. Though I had no control over what I was sowing I still reaped a harvest according to the seed that I had sown. This actually helped me gain a huge amount of faith in the justice and righteousness of God. You hear so many stories of people doing terrible things and then the excuses which come forth such as "they didn't know what they were doing" "It was beyond their control" and so on. Though these things may well be true - there is still a harvest that comes from that seed sown. There are a lot of people (like myself) who struggle with spiritual forces and curses operating in their lives as well as circumstances which have hurt them in the past and this has caused them to act in a negative manner towards others. For some people they take this even further and perform socially unacceptable actions - such as assaulting people violently. It's all very well for them to say that "they didn't know what they were doing" etc or that "they have come from a hard background" but at the end of the day the seeds they have sown will bring forth a harvest.

A prolific serial killer in the USA was given a life sentence for his actions. He became a Christian in prison and has sincerely sought to change his life. However, despite his salvation he must still reap a harvest from the seed sown. He will never be able to set foot outside of prison again for his actions and he will probably live with endless hate and anger towards him from the people whom he has hurt and frightened with his actions, not to mention people constantly questioning his salvation and thinking that he's just putting it all on to make people feel sorry for him. I for one believe he is sincere - but despite his sincerity he will never stop reaping the harvest for his actions. He has sown seed through his actions and regardless of what drove him to sow that seed - or how that seed arrived in his heart in the first place - he must reap a harvest for his actions and will reap that harvest until the day that he dies.

However, God can use the seed sown in our lives to guide us to better places. The spiritual inheritance given to me meant that I sowed constant seeds of hostility and a sense of "stay away from me" towards people. This reaped a harvest of many people not liking me and being unwilling to become close to me as they could sense I wanted them to stay away. Though in a way this was a bad harvest to reap - it was also for my own benefit and protection as it protected me from wrong relationships with people - especially females. Being engaged now to the right person for me I can honestly say that my hostility and "stay away from me" aura helped me dodge a few bullets in that department over the years - something that I am now deeply grateful for.

There are times when people do seem to get away with whatever they have done - but the important word here is the word "seem". It might appear that way but they don't really get away with anything. I have realized recently the powerful truth that sin simply cannot be forgiven - ever. People can be forgiven for their actions by God - but sin itself can never be forgiven. It will always be punished. It just depends on who. The person responsible for the sin will be punished for it - or their punishment can be transferred onto Jesus, with sincere repentance - a willingness to "turn away" from one's sins, not just saying a half-hearted "sorry" and expecting that to suffice. Every action by every person is known to God and if they do not find Jesus and sincerely repent of their sins they will face the eternal harvest of sowing seeds of a life without God. Even if people do repent and come to Jesus in wholehearted repentance and humility they still must face their actions and sometimes that means God calling them to do some hard things - such as go to people they have hurt and apologize. There is simply no easy ride.

How do we sow good seed and stop sowing bad seed? Give our hearts to God and allow Him to transform us from within. Come to the Throne with sincere repentance and ask for Him to change our hearts. I firmly believe that whatever we have in our hearts will be revealed through what (and who) we have in our lives. Throughout the long years I spent in the spiritual wilderness I have come to learn that the trials and tribulations that constantly came upon me happened because there was significant rotten seed in my heart that needed to be weeded out. The trials I faced were in accordance to the darkness I had within myself and once a trial I was facing had got rid of all the darkness it was triggering - the trial would end. I began to realize it was better to have the rotten seed uprooted through hard times than to have a nice, relaxed life without any hardships as this would give the rotten seed time and space to grow, which would in time, bring forth a bitter harvest. I have learned to welcome the process of uprooting the bad seed in my life as it gave me the chance to plant good seed which would mean a better harvest later on.

In conclusion - God is on the throne. It doesn't matter how much He may appear not to be at times - but He is truly on the throne. He cannot and will not be mocked. No human can outrun Him, no one can escape Him and His just judgment. What is sown will be reaped. There is grace, mercy, and forgiveness - but still consequences for one's actions. We all must carry our cross and reap the results of the seed that we sow - be that good or bad, or whether we realized we were sowing it or not.

Take care.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The power of belief

I've been dwelling a lot recently on the power of what we believe in and how it has the ability to define our entire lives from the inside out. I've put together a few points outlining what I believe in regards to how belief can shape our lives and how we need to go about changing those beliefs we need to change that are holding us back.

1. We are not always consciously aware of what we believe in.

One of the most powerful lessons I have learned over the past 12 years of being a Christian is the truth about the power of wrong thinking and how that defines us. When I came to Christ I was carrying overwhelming spiritual baggage which had been passed down to me via the generational lines. Receiving deliverance for these issues was only the beginning of the healing process. I realized that the spiritual baggage I was carrying had created layer after layer of wrong thinking and wrong belief systems operating so deeply within my mind and heart that they would affect my actions and personality on a daily basis without my realizing it. These belief systems - such as the belief that people were constantly trying to kill me - were so deeply rooted in my mind and heart that I didn't even know that they were there and would operate in a constant mode of heightened self awareness and self protection without even realizing it. God took me on a journey where He forced these wrong belief systems out of the buried depths of my heart into my conscious mind where I was forced to face it. This was a painful process but it was the only way to begin to free myself of the wrong thinking I was carrying within me as operating out of a constant place of fear due to this wrong thinking was wearing me out and draining my enthusiasm for daily life.

Though my beliefs were not in my conscious mind - but deeply buried in my subconscious - they still constantly influenced and affected my daily life. The hardest part was when something happened that upset me and forced the painful truths in my life to the surface. I would often react badly to the circumstance and could completely blow it out of proportion. It took many years of walking closely with the Holy Spirit for me to realize that the pain I felt in these circumstances was not connected to the circumstances itself but that the circumstances were simply being used to bring the deeply withheld wrong thinking to the surface so that I could begin to break free of it. During this process I had to rely heavily on the guidance of the Holy Spirit to help me to accurately define what I was actually feeling even if it wasn't what I thought it was. But as I continued to embrace this process of facing myself and understanding the depths of the wrong thinking created by the spiritual baggage I had been carrying around my entire life I began to get freer and more whole as a person because I wasn't medicating the problem by trying to control or change my circumstances - or people around me - but I was actually getting to the problem at its root and beginning to change it.

2. Our lives are shaped by what we believe.

Everything we do and everything we are in life is a direct consequence of what we believe in - be it consciously or subconsciously. One of the most powerful belief systems in my life has been the belief that I have been powerless, weak and unable to make a difference in my circumstances and unable to change anything. This wrong belief system has been a huge contributor towards depression in my life and it has also daily shaped my behaviour by causing me to try and shy away from conflict and not to fight for anything - even if it's something that needs to be fought for - because I've felt that I am too weak and powerless to make a decision and to be able to convince others that I deserve respect and that they need to acknowledge me and what I am saying. Over the last few years God has taken me through a hard process of training for leadership which has involved speaking God-given truths into people's lives whom I once considered close friends and are willingly acting in sin, then trying to justify it both to me and themselves. This process has involved God directly telling me to give words of knowledge to people and then telling them afterwards that if they refuse to acknowledge the spoken word of God then I could not maintain a friendship with them.

This has been an incredibly hard process and I have seen several once close friendships fall through due to the actions I have taken. Even with the spoken word of God behind me I still have felt a constant nagging sense of doubt and unbelief which has lead to me coming to God and asking Him "Have I done the right thing in this situation?" God's reply to me has been the following - "Yes Graham, you have done the right thing, you've done exactly as I asked you to do. Your problem now is that you don't believe that you have done the right thing because you don't believe in yourself and your own power enough. You also don't believe that you deserve respect and that your words have the power to change things. Continue to walk through the wrong belief systems in your life with Me and you will learn to be at peace with doing what I've asked you to do in this situation." I began to realize that my fear and doubt in what I had said and done was not because I was in the wrong but because I simply didn't believe I was in the right - even though I was.

3. You can do something you don't really believe in - but it won't last.

You can do something out of a place of unbelief - but only for a while. Eventually the truth will begin to come forth. About 5 years ago I was working for a company that sold cellphones and had just launched a new cellphone network. As an outbound sales consultant I was expected to be bringing in businesses and switching over all of their mobile phones to this new network as well as selling it to personal, individual customers. At the time I was a very shy and restricted person - not a good place to be as a salesman. I also knew that this network was still very buggy and besieged with constant problems and network crashes which left many people very unhappy (and quite understandably so). I did not believe I was to be in this job long term and I struggled to believe in my own ability to do the job - not to mention I had no belief whatsoever in this new network that seemed to create more problems than it did solutions. Needless to say - I struggled in the job.

I did my best to "fake it till I made it" as the old saying goes but the deeply withheld belief systems needed to succeed in this job simply weren't present in my life - not to mention the network gave me no confidence in wanting to sell it. It didn't matter how much I tried to succeed in this job because things just kept on getting worse. Eventually I just gave up and stopped trying because I realized that I was getting nowhere. Fortunately I was able to get another job working for a Christian camp which I really loved and took to like a duck to water. I excelled immensely in this job simply because I believed in where I was and what I was doing which helped me to believe in my own ability to do the job. As I later found out I got out just in time as a few weeks after I left the new cellphone network I had been hopelessly trying to sell crashed completely and wouldn't work for days on end which lead to the store being filled with angry people demanding a refund on their product - needless to say I am glad I got out before that happened!

4. If our beliefs as Christians oppose God's will then they will not last.

When I was younger I firmly believed I was going to be the next Kurt Cobain, or the next Kirk Hammett as a lead guitarist in a heavy metal band. I held onto this belief with a death grip and no one or nothing could tell me otherwise. Once I became a Christian God told me that He wanted to use me in ministry. I pushed this belief away and said that I knew that I was meant to be a rock star. However as time went on things began to change. I began to realize that I didn't really have the creativity or the talent to write and play music constantly as a profession and that my heart was going elsewhere. I certainly had (and still do have) abilities in that area but not to the extent I thought I did. As time wore on and I began to change on the inside I began to realize that being a stadium filling rock star was not my calling after all and that my gifting for music was to be used in a different way than what I had expected. I began to realize that if I had got what I wanted back then and been promoted to fame, riches and stardom I wouldn't have had the ability to last as my constant internal struggles would have destroyed me. In the end I was grateful to see that dream pass and I still get to play music to this day - but in a different way. Ironically, I think I have become a much better musician due to submitting my music gift to God's will as become more whole internally has freed me up to be more creative and to enjoy it more.

My belief throughout everything is that we need to be constantly asking God to show us what we believe about ourselves and for His help to change if our beliefs - whether conscious or subconscious - are holding us back from being who He has destined for us to become.

Take care.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Understanding worry

Having spent most of my life suffering from severe depression and anxiety, I am well accustomed to the concept of worry. Significant portions of my life have been spent worrying about things - mostly needlessly. Throughout my 12 years of walking as a Christian I have learned a great deal not only about worry but about the psychology and wrong thinking behind it. Some of this learning has only come to me very recently - as in over the last few days. I would like to share some of these revelations in the hope that they will speak to someone.

1. Worry can easily be seen as a form of preparation.
Don't get me wrong - there are some things that we quite rightly need to be concerned about regarding the future which we need to take active steps in order to prevent them happening. This is normal, and healthy. But when this becomes extreme, it isn't healthy at all. I have just recently discovered about myself that I see all worry about everything as a form of preparation and prevention of bad things happening to the point that I have been afraid to relax and let go. This has been rooted in wrong thinking that I have carried around in my heart and operated out of subconsciously, without actually realizing what I was doing. The wrong thinking I have been subconsciously believing has been the lie that being constantly worried about bad things happening means that I am constantly prepared for them, which in turn means that they won't happen or that I will be better equipped to face them once they do happen. The worst part of the lie I've been believing has been that if I relax and let go nothing but bad things will come upon me and that it will be my fault that they did happen because I relaxed and let go and thus wasn't working hard to prevent them. It's like when bad things have happened in the past I've blamed myself because I wasn't alert and prepared enough to be able to prevent them.

It's almost like I've felt that if I just totally relaxed and let go of everything and stopped trying to control things by worrying about them, that the world was going to end and that it was going to be my fault that it ended because I wasn't worrying about everything and therefore preventing it from happening. I now realize just how faithless this mode of thinking is and how it completely removes the power of God. It is God's job to be in control of the world and how it operates - not mine. Living in a constant state of turmoil and worry is not good for anyone. I always remember a word of prophecy I was given many years ago where God said to me "Graham - where you end, I begin." I realize that I have struggled hugely to let myself end because I don't trust God taking over and beginning to operate in my circumstances. I don't trust enough in His goodness and His faithfulness to be in charge of my world even regarding the things I have no power over. I still have learning to do.

2. Worry is a sign of a lack of faith.
Relaxation and trusting the world into God's hand - including His ability to communicate to us and let us know when He wants us to do something - is living by faith. Trying to be God and trying to be in charge of everything that it is actually His job to be in charge of is living by fear and placing unrealistic expectations upon ourselves that we are simply not capable of fulfilling, yet we feel as if we have to anyway. I can understand how some would find it hard to have faith in God's goodness and God's control of their world. I certainly have - seeing as God has lead me into some terrible trials, especially over the past 5 years where I have faced more hardship than I have in my entire life up to that point. There's still a part of me that is afraid to trust God because I feel that He's going to lead me into something bad again and that it's something that I need to go through. I remember reading a note in my old Teen Bible that said God is saying to us that He loves us, and just wants to help us because He wants what's best for us.

I struggle to trust in God's omnipotence and omnipresence. Due to the spiritual ties I have carried around with me I have lived in terrible fear of being under the power of another person or object because my immediate expectation has been that they would use that power for harm and that I wouldn't be able to stop them or rescue myself once I gave that power over to them. Identifying this wrong thinking and bringing it to the light has been helping to break its power over me and helped me to realize that I can trust God in these areas and that the safest place to be is right in the centre of the will of God - even if that can be a hard place to live sometimes. God is faithful and His heart is for us - not against us. Sometimes we just need to remind ourselves of that.

3. Learning to stop worrying is a process - not a quick fix.
One of the most powerful testimonies I ever heard was from someone who had lived in a very dark place before they came to Christ. I cannot remember their name, their story or even when or where I read the testimony but I always remember one specific part where he said that little by little he was slowly giving the steering wheel of his life over to Jesus. This communicated to me that control over his life which obviously helped sooth his anxiety was not something he could completely give over instantaneously, but rather something that needed to happen slowly and over a period of time. It's not as if Jesus was not faithful to completely take the wheel and take complete control over this man's life at once - because He was. But where this man was at meant that to give everything over at once would have been completely overwhelming for him emotionally as it would have thrown all of the darkness in his heart to the surface at once which probably would have destroyed him.

I certainly relate to this. It has been a process in my life too. Every time a bit of wrong thinking is revealed - and healed - Jesus "takes the wheel" a little bit more in my life. If every bit of wrong thinking in my heart was thrown into my face at once it certainly would have overwhelmed me and I would not have been able to cope. Jesus knows this and therefore has taken to revealing truth and healing to me slowly and over a period of time at a rate that I could handle it. I've likened it to a tree growing - sometimes it doesn't look like it's growing at all, especially when you see it every day. However if you don't see it for 6 months you will be amazed at how much bigger it's become over that time. There is no harm or shame in slow growth as God knows our individual hearts and circumstances and if we let Him, will grow us at a pace that's perfect for us.

I hope that this has spoken to someone. Learn to face the worry and wrong thinking that drives it in your life. Have faith in a God that is infinitely bigger than you are and wants the best for you, and don't be frustrated if you are on this path but it's taking longer than you would have liked.

Take care and be blessed.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Importance of Giving Thanks

I would like to share with all of you a short testimony about just how important giving thanks is and how it can truly unlock the blessings of God in our lives.

One of the biggest struggles in my life has been finances. Every time I have had money it has always found some ingenious way to disappear. Most of the time when I have had a good, well paying job, something has happened where I have had to resign - usually a change in circumstances such as God calling me to move to another city or sometimes unfortunately for health reasons. I would then typically go through long periods with either no income at all or very little where whatever money I had stored up in my savings would be slowly eaten away at until it was nearly gone. I am good with handling money, I am not an excessive spender by nature (mainly due to my Scottish blood!). Someone told me towards the end of my time in Tauranga that they felt that the problem was due to spiritual curses over my life, but  I didn't believe them at the time.

A few weeks after being in Hamilton, I was at a meeting and the speaker prophesied that "there was someone in the audience who had been suffering under a curse of poverty, but God wants to set you free and bless you with finances". These words struck me right at the core of my being, I knew that the speaker was speaking about me. With tears in my eyes I approached him at the end of the meeting and he prayed for me against the curse of poverty over my life. He said that the time of poverty was now over and that blessings would begin to come forth. I realized that my friend in Tauranga was right and I now began to look forward to a time of financial blessing and breakthrough.

When I received this word, I had absolutely no income at all at the time. A few weeks later I was able to start getting a student allowance for my internship I am doing with the church. This paid some money but not much. I then felt that God was calling me to give a specific amount  to bless my church financially out of what I was receiving from my allowance. All the while I was applying for part time jobs to do while I was interning and none of them have worked out. I was having a conversation with the 2IC pastor at my church and he spoke a word into my life about the importance of giving thanks for what God has given you now, instead of complaining about what you may perceive as lack, because this was how the Israelites moved forward in the spiritual wilderness - by praising God and giving Him thanks for what He had provided them with instead of complaining about what they felt that they were entitled to.

I began to put this into practice. I was certainly not living in financial prosperity at the time but I decided to praise God and give Him thanks anyway for what I did have coming in. This began to develop faith in my life and it helped develop a more positive outlook and sense of feeling about my current financial circumstances. I kept getting turned down for jobs and though I found this frustrating I continued to praise God and give Him thanks. The frustration of not being able to find a job did begin to get to me - especially as my savings from the job I was doing in Tauranga got lower and lower due to necessary bills and expenses. But it wasn't the familiar frustration of old - it was what I would like to call "faith based frustration." I would say to God "Your Word was given to me that the time of poverty was now over yet I'm not seeing it. Why not?" It was a frustration that was taking God at His word and asking why what He had promised hadn't come to pass. Yet despite how I was feeling I continued to speak out thanksgiving for what I was receiving and I continued to give in faith, though my savings continued to dwindle and more bills were coming on the horizon.

Over the last few days everything changed - I was blessed unexpectedly with a large financial blessing that I did not see coming. This blessing is enough to cover my bills and put some money in the bank for savings and I will still have some left over afterwards. I was amazed and blown away by God's goodness and thrilled to see His Word come to pass in my life. God told me several months back that I had a few things to learn before I could be financially blessed and I believe that one of those things was about learning to give thanks for what I had at the time as this would unlock bigger things for the future. I believe that God has responded to my giving thanks and being obedient through giving with this financial blessing. Without giving and acting in faith I doubt I would have received this blessing.

Finally, friends - learn to be thankful for what you have. An attitude of gratitude is an attitude of faith and trust in God's goodness and provision. If God has spoken to you about big things for the future that you haven't seen happen yet - start to give thanks! Not only for what He has said He will do in the future, but for what He's doing for you right now.

I hope this has been an encouragement to someone. Take care and God bless.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Power of Words

I've been thinking a lot recently about the power of words. It's so easy to think of words that come out of our mouths as nothing but bursts of hot air that don't have any lasting impact in any shape form or sense, so it's easy to use our words carelessly. It can be easy to forget just how powerful, life changing and even world changing words can be.

The entire universe came into being through words spoken from the mouth of God Himself. The book of Genesis explains how in the beginning the world was dark and formless, until God spoke and said, "Let there be light" and then there was light. God spoke - and the universe obeyed his command. His words created something powerful and tangible. God did not sit down and attempt to figure out light, or try to build light with His own two hands. He simply spoke the word and light appeared.

In the same way, our words have the power to both create and destroy things. Granted - if it's the middle of the night and we say "let there be light" the world isn't all of a sudden going to transform into daylight. Our words are not as powerful as the words of God. But they are still very powerful and very capable of changing things - sometimes for eternity. Proverbs 18:21 says "Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat it's fruits." The Bible clearly says that our words have the power to both build up and destroy. I remember when I first became a Christian. I received a prophetic word which was spoken over my life that said "I would touch a generation with my words". Those words impacted me powerfully and created a sense of hope in my soul that wasn't there before - not to mention a strong desire to follow God. 12 years later and those words are now coming true as I am a published author. My story of healing from mental illness is slowly spreading across the globe and I am receiving amazingly positive feedback from people who tell me it has changed their lives. The words spoken over my life came true - and also created a desire in me to follow God which would aid in seeing these words come true.

Our words can also have a deeply negative impact on things. A great deal of the mental suffering in my life has come from powerful negative words spoken over someone in my generational family lines out of jealousy that created a curse of poverty over my life. This person who spoke this curse of poverty may have only done it out of frustration without realizing what they were doing - who knows what their motives truly were - but it created something in the spiritual realm that has hung over my head my entire life and been a powerful cause of bitterness, frustration and even hatred in my life. Because of this curse of poverty I simply could not get ahead financially. It didn't matter what I did or how much money I had - it would always find some way to disappear and I would be left just barely scraping by, as per usual. This was not a matter of "needing to learn to save better" or anything like that. It was the fact that a curse was operating over my life in the spiritual realm due to the negative bitter words spoken generations back which would always create circumstances to strip me of whatever money I had. The only way its hold on my life was finally broken was through prayer. Negative words created a curse in the spiritual realm that simply would not go away on their own - only through the power of the name of Jesus being confessed was their power able to be broken over my life.

Speaking - especially speaking in the heat of the moment in a situation of conflict - has always been something I've struggled with enormously. I have no problem speaking in public in front of people but when it comes to confrontational situations I find it very difficult to get the words out. I used to think that this was because of a lack of self belief and a doubt in my own ability to change anything or any situation using my words. But as I've thought on the subject further I've realized that the truth is actually the opposite. There's been a subconscious belief operating in my life that is all too aware of the incredible power of words and the influence that they have in the spiritual realm which has translated into a fear of saying the wrong thing or saying something that I might regret later. Due to the curse of poverty over my life I was subconsciously aware of the incredible power my words could have which translated into a fear of speaking as I feared that I would bring poverty - or something far worse - into someone's life by speaking to them in what could be perceived as a negative manner even if I had every right to say it. This realization of these subconscious thinking processes has helped to free me up a bit more inside and helped me to realize that although my words have power, if I use them wisely then I have nothing to fear.

It is important to use wisdom and caution when speaking into people's lives and circumstances. A certain spoken word into somebody's life may be exactly what they need to hear and may create a sense of hope in their soul. A spoken word into a dark area in a person's heart may bring to the surface the root of that dark area and expose it to the light which opens a door for that person to go free. But a word spoken wrongly - even with the right motives - can have devastating consequences. This is why we must choose wisdom and seek out the counsel of the spirit of God if we feel we are meant to speak a word into somebody's life. It's wise to sit and pray before speaking a word into someone's life - but it's also unwise to not say anything when we know that God has told us to. I remember hearing a story of a pastor who met with a friend of his for lunch. They were simply chatting about daily life when the pastor was strongly impacted by a word from God - "Tell him that if he doesn't change his diet, he will be dead in 3 years time." The pastor (obviously a man well acquainted with words) was shocked by what he believed God was telling him to do - he even doubted he had heard from God in the first place - so he chose to say nothing. 3 years later, his friend was dead. A word given by God could have saved that man's life - yet since he chose not to give it, his friend perished.

We must learn to keep our emotions in check when it comes to speaking. Speaking rashly in a place of frustration, anger or fear can create lasting impacts in the spiritual realm around us and in the hearts and souls of those whom we are speaking to. It's always easy to say afterwards "Oh I was just upset when I said that, I didn't really mean it" but at the end of the day those words don't matter because regardless of whether they were meant or not - they created something and changed the atmosphere. Once I received an abusive message via Facebook. I was very angry reading the message and wanted to (quite rightly) give the person who sent it a piece of my mind as I knew in my heart and soul that their vicious attack against me was unfounded and way out of line. I wanted to strike back with the truth but the spirit of God said to me clearly "DON'T SAY ANYTHING IN RETURN." I was angry about this because I felt like I had every right to speak the truth and stand up for myself about the situation and this person's conduct - yet I did as I was told and remained silent. Later on I asked God "Why did you tell me not to say anything in return to that person when they were quite clearly in the wrong and I had every right to defend myself?" God Rhema'd to me the scripture Proverbs 26:4 - "Do not answer a fool according to his folly or you will be just like him." This person was speaking foolish words not based in fact and completely ignoring the deliberate sin and wrongdoing in their own life. God didn't want me to respond because He knew that this person could not see their own faults even if I told them so and that they were full of bitterness and anger. Responding to the foolish words of a fool would simply cause them to speak even more foolishly out of their bitterness which could create unwanted things in the spiritual realm that could try to come against me.

In conclusion, next time you are going to say something that you know could change things - possibly in an irreversible manner - remember the power of the words that you speak. They have the power to create and destroy equally. Ask yourself if you are really speaking from a clear head and out of a conviction of the Word of God for someone or if you're just angry in the heat of the moment and need to take some time to calm down before you create something with your words you may not be able to take back. But on the other hand - if you know that God is telling you to say something to someone - then say it. Even if it seems like it could be destructive or hard for them to hear. If you know that God is telling you to say something and you don't say it - far worse consequences could happen in that situation than any perceived consequence you may be afraid of as a result of speaking into their lives.

Take care.

Friday, March 14, 2014

The truth will set you free

Most of us will have heard this scripture - "Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (John 8:32). It's easy to think of this truth in just a positive context - e.g. "I know the truth that God loves me and this truth frees me." That's all very well and good. But what about the truth when it comes to negative, painful things in our lives?

My life has been a lifelong battle with constant, almost overwhelming emotional pain. When I became a Christian the pain did not instantly vanish (although there are times when I really wish that it had). I began to find that negative, bitter situations in my life began to arise a lot more frequently than they did in my pre-Christian days. Being a Christian did not make life easier. In fact it made life worse. I didn't understand it. I spent the first year of my Christian walk trying to proclaim positivity and blessing over my life through constant confession of scripture. Funnily enough, it didn't work. I claimed scriptures about healing for my constantly pained emotional and spiritual state. That didn't work either.

Over time and through many hard experiences, my thinking began to change. The scripture came to mind - "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me, Your rod and Your staff comfort me." The part that really stood out to me was the part about walking THROUGH the valley of the shadow of death. It didn't say walk around it, or skip over it and pretend it's not there. God used this scripture to help me realize that I was to walk through the constant, overwhelming pain in my life, but that I need not fear any evil in this process because God's rod and staff would comfort and guide me in this place of overwhelming internal darkness.

What I began to realize is that the valley of the shadow of death was also a place of truth in itself. Truth that contained the power to truly set me free - the freedom I had longed for since I was a child. These truths would not be easily discovered. Nor would it be a pleasant process in trying to find them. But discovering the painful truths hidden in the valley of the shadow of death in my own heart was a process I simply had to go through if I ever truly wanted to get well.

One of the ways in which my thinking began to change was learning that I had to learn to fall into the negative feelings that I faced when certain situations arose, rather than trying to simply push them away by trying to quote scripture over my life or embrace "the power of positive thinking." Some of those negative feelings drove me into behaviours that were not good or healthy. For example - I have struggled with cigarette smoking on and off throughout the years. Due to some distressing personal circumstances I started smoking again last year. I kept on trying to stop using my own willpower but it simply didn't work. I would simply start again. One day I foolishly didn't eat anything at all throughout the day - I just smoked constantly. I tried eating dinner in the evening and due to a day without food my stomach rejected my dinner and I vomited everything back up. I went to bed early and managed to get a couple of hours sleep before waking up at midnight. I couldn't get back to sleep - not only was I still feeling quite unwell due to not eating and vomiting the little I managed to get down in the evening, there was a constant sense of distress in my emotions and I just couldn't rest.

I began to realize that this was happening for a reason. God was stirring something in me that He wanted me to address. I couldn't quite put my finger on it using my own thinking so I prayed for guidance that God would make it clear to me what I needed to see in myself. Almost instantaneously I blurted out "I HATE MY BODY!!" The second I did that - the emotional distress vanished, along with the desire to smoke cigarettes. Not only did I fall asleep immediately but I haven't had a cigarette since.

God was calling me to walk into the valley of the shadow of death with this issue. I tried to avoid this walk by stopping smoking using my own strength - but it wasn't enough. God needed me to do nothing but smoke that day so I would get sick and into this terrible place of distress so that I would be able to walk through the valley of the shadow of death and uncover the truth that was keeping me bound in addiction in the first place. When I said that I hated my body I confessed to God the truth that had been lurking down in my thinking which I didn't even realize was there. It was a negative truth, yes - but as I confessed it and brought it to the light, the negative thinking lost its power over me and I have been walking in freedom from smoking ever since. 

So if you are finding that you are facing the same issues over and over again in your life and can't figure out why, listen to your heart. Is God tugging at your heart strings and asking you to walk with Him in the valley of the shadow of death through your own life because He wants to bring you to the root cause of these issues in your own heart? This might be why you're facing the same thing over and over again. God is allowing it to surface again and again because He wants to guide you through the pain in your heart so that you can find the truths in the valley of the shadow of death that will finally set you free.

My book speaks all about my journey of walking through this valley - hence the title No Way Out But Through. It's available from just about any bookstore (although you may have to ask them to order it in) or you can buy a copy online as it's available through most online retailers. If you need further advice, encouragement or prayer - please let me know.

Take care and God bless.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Letting go

One of the hardest things we must learn to face as human beings is dealing with our past by letting go of things we cannot change. All of us face things in our lives that we wish could have turned out differently, where we wish we'd done something else, said something else, anything to avoid having to face the fact that we are still greatly upset over something that may have happened a long time ago.

I have realized that my biggest character flaw is my inability to accept things in life that I cannot change and to relax. Relaxing means accepting things as they are around you, accepting that not everything needs your distinct control and input and that things can cope on their own without your influence. It means that you have to have faith in others and in your surroundings to do the right thing without you distinctly telling everyone exactly what to do and where and how to do it. I've found it almost impossible to accept anything at face value and simply believe in anything and trust that my belief is not going to be betrayed.

I've also realized that this character flaw is based on a desire to change both the past and the future. It's mainly based in a desire to change the future so that there's no chance that the future could ever feel as bad as what the past does. However, this is a self defeating strategy. If I go out of my way to try to change the future so it doesn't bring up old feelings about the past, all I am really doing is protecting the way that I am already feeling instead of facing it. It's an art of managing and compartmentalizing negative feelings rather than openly admitting them and coming to terms with them. Putting old feelings into a box so that you never have to face them means that you leave unhealed areas in your heart and soul that subconsciously drain your energy and leave you feeling fatigued.

What has helped me begin to change my thinking in this area is to think about Jesus and what He went through on the cross. He could easily have chosen to not face up to the fact that His own creation (the human race) had fallen and chosen to sit and wish that He could have somehow changed the past to stop it from happening. Instead, He chose to accept what had happened, as much as He didn't like it, and chose to love us enough anyway that His plan for the human race was to change overnight. The new plan for the human race involved His death on a cross and though it was the worst possible thing He could ever go through, He chose to change everything based on what we had done. God chose to respond to our actions rather than to just react to them, or refuse to even acknowledge them altogether.

There's a big difference here regarding things that happen which upset us - we can either react to them out of frustration that our own prideful desires to make things the way that we want them have failed, or we can respond to them in humility and realize that we are not God. We do not know the future, we don't control everything and we don't get to decide exactly how everything pans out. We don't know the beginning from the end. Only God knows that - even if He's not in control of people's actions directly, He still knows the beginning from the end and is able to work around it. To react is to show we are angry at life and ourselves because our own pride has not provided us the outcome we wanted. To respond is to show that we have a greater faith in a God who is in control of both the present and the future and that He loves us and has our best interests at heart. To respond to a person rather than react to what they've done is to show genuine love for them. If God had just chosen to react to the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, we'd all be dead. But He chose to respond and reach out to us anyway. Of course, there are times when reaching out to people is dangerous and there are times when ties with people need to be cut because of what's happened - but overall we should try to respond to people in love when possible rather than react in anger and frustration because our own bubble of illusion about our own self importance and ability to control things has been popped.

This has made me realize how important it is to learn that I myself cannot control the future and that there are things that are going to happen to me and things that I am going to do which are irreversible and will result in a changed life for me and others. It is important for me to begin to realize that my efforts to try and control the future so it will never end up feeling like the past are futile and are draining my energy. It is important for me to realize that a changed future from the path that I originally set out and planned for myself is not always a bad thing and that sometimes going in a new and unexpected direction can turn out to be the best possible thing for someone. Because of some of the spiritual baggage I have carried around with me over the years I have become deeply afraid that if I just sit back and let things happen and let someone else take control and relax and just let things be, that the outcome will be the most horrifying, soul destroying, irreversible thing imaginable and that I will somehow be to blame for not doing my best to prevent it and that I will live in regret for eternity because I didn't do something to prevent this awful thing.

The truth is - we cannot change the past. We can only change the way that we feel about the past. We can change our future - but we must be willing enough to realize that for all of our planning and control there are things that we cannot simply plan for and have to learn to trust God in. I've found it much easier to trust in myself and my own planning to protect myself from a future that may feel like my past. Because of some of the things that have happened to me over the past few years I have become very afraid of trusting God with my future as I half expect Him to bring something terrible into my life because it's something else that I need to go through in order to help me realize the parts of me that still need divine healing, but I have to remind myself that the time of suffering in my life is very nearly at an end.

I also have to realize that if I am ever going to heal completely from all that has happened over the years I will need to learn to accept the past in full and accept that these things have happened and cannot be changed. Thinking that I can somehow change the past to suit what I want or that I will somehow bring about a different outcome if I stew on it enough is wrong and negative thinking and is just leaving me going around in circles. It's hard to come to terms with this but it simply has to be done. I lost a relationship with a close friend recently who proved that they weren't interested in the spoken word of God even though they constantly went out of their way to say that God's truth was more important to them than anything. I felt betrayed, mocked and deeply let down. This blow was very hard to take as this was a friendship I thought I would have for the rest of my life yet I was left with no choice but to walk away from it. I have no choice but to come to terms with what has happened and realize that I cannot change it. I cannot hold on to the past - the friendship we had before - because it no longer exists. I cannot change things and I certainly cannot control that person's response. All I can do is respond to their actions even if it hurts me and change the course of the friendship as a result.

Planning is something I have found immense safety in over the years. I love to be able to plan for things and work out just how everything is going to go. I don't find that I cope particularly well when something happens that's completely unexpected and throws a spanner into the works. Instead of focusing on responding to the change, dealing with the spanner in the works and altering the course of my plans if I need to, my default reaction has been to fly off the handle at the change that has dared happen without my specific consent. I have realized that this method of operating is useless. Life does not take prisoners. There are things that happen that come completely out of the blue that cannot be changed and can alter the course of our life's path because God and the world are far bigger than we are and our own little boxed in plans for our lives. The sooner we come to terms with this and learn to relax in a world we know we cannot fully control, the sooner we will reach a greater place of peace and contentment as human beings.

So, if you're a planner like me, you may have identified with something in this blog. I hope that you take something from this and feel encouraged in some way. You're not alone in your journey.

Take care.