a healthy life restored, go and sin no more, miraculous healing, a healing journey, Coeliac disease, Celiac disease, ulcerative colitis, diverticulitis, SIBO, IBC, gut issues, self-preservation, safety & security, immune response, immune system, movement, motivation, dissociation, sedation, hibernation, spiritual healing, emotional healing, psychological healing, mental, physical health, lifestyle choices, stress, meditation, prayer, trusting, silence, anxiety, depression, diet, exercise, forgiveness, letting go, release, health challenges, lifestyle changes, gluttony and over-eating, over eating, know to do right, to him it is sin, murmuring and complaining, negativity, health effects, cortisol, laziness, couch potato, chronic fatigue, lack of forgiveness, anger, resentment, hatred, and the truth will set you free, faith and works

A healthy life restored: why you need to Go and sin no more

I began a personal healing journey in 2017, with no idea where it would take me. I certainly never expected all the spiritual and life lessons that I’ve learned along the way!

If I had known that I would be in 2021 and the journey would still be underway, would I have had the courage to even take the first steps?

I thought I would get the miraculous healing that when I reached a certain point it would be instantaneous. Instead, it has been a journey of a thousand steps, sometimes on spiralling stairs, rather than giant leaps forward.

Gut health challenges

Since about 2001, my health has been centred around my gut and immune system, with challenges of:

  • Ulcerative colitis
  • IBS (irritable bowel syndrome – i.e. we have no idea what’s wrong)
  • Coeliac disease
  • Diverticulitis (caused by the Coeliac disease going undiagnosed for 10+ years)
  • SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth)

All of these are gut issues and are closely tied with the immune system – that part of you that is able to easily mount defences to defend “self” against “not self”.

If I look at this from an mBraining perspective, the gut has the prime functions not only of digesting and processing food, but also influences:

  • Our sense of identity: “this is who I am”. My lack of authenticity – trying to please other people – broke down my ability to identify “self”;
  • Our processes of safety and security. This is our self-preservation. It begins physiologically as the immune system, but there’s also an element in there of the autonomic nervous system, which I failed to recognise, leading to an immune system in overdrive and hyper-drive, as I strove to keep myself safe psychologically and emotionally.
  • Movement and motivation. We know physiologically of “bowel movement”, but if you listen to our language, we clearly speak about the fire in our belly that moves us forward. My trauma-informed dorsal vagal, however, was trained to sedation and hibernation in the face of danger, and while scientists know that this impacts the immune system, they are not quite yet sure of the exact effects.

A personal journey to healing: lifestyle changes

  • Spiritual healing
  • Psychological healing
    • emotional
    • mental
  • Physical healing

In order to heal my gut, I’ve had to recognise that every aspect of my life impacts how well this heals.

All of this requires lifestyle changes: because it’s impossible to solve a problem with the same thinking, habits and lifestyle that created the problem.

“The necessity of change makes healing a terrifying experience for many people.”

Caroline Myss

He who knows to do right and does it not, to him it is sin

There were so many pieces to the healing journey and changes that needed to be made. Doctors glaze over quickly the role that stress plays, saying platitudes such as “you need to manage stress better”.

Really?

Who doesn’t know that?

The question is: what do we do about it?

Most of us – do nothing.

We ask for the pills that soften the blow of the symptoms, so that we can get back on with life, exactly as it already was. But we don’t make the fundamental changes that are required in order for health and healing to happen.

If we did, the pharmaceutical industry would be out of business. Imagine how many blood pressure medications would be taken off the market if patients would actually follow doctor’s instructions about making changes to their lifestyle.

Faith without works: changing habits

You can no more show me your habits apart from your beliefs than I can show you what I believe apart from my daily habits. Faith and works, works and faith, fit together hand in glove.
You can no more show me your habits apart from your beliefs than I can show you what I believe apart from my daily habits. Faith and works, works and faith, fit together hand in glove.

In my life, healing was not optional.

Change became mandatory, because I could no longer keep on keeping on. I was totally crashing and my body with it!

It’s not that I didn’t know ways of dealing with stress!

  • Meditation & Silence
  • Trusting the Divine
  • Dealing with the root causes of anxiety & depression

Part of me was refusing to look at diet, beyond the obvious factors of avoiding gluten (wheat, barley, malt & rye). But I could do more, like accepting that corn totally irritated me, as well as rice making me feel bloated, and that I needed to adjust my diet to accommodate inflammation and SIBO.

I have been physically active since my early twenties and am no stranger to the multiple benefits of exercise, even when you don’t have energy. I know how good it is for the digestive system (just getting out for a walk helps your gut digest more easily), as well as helping to regulate stress.

Perhaps most importantly, I know the role and importance of forgiveness, letting go and release. What I didn’t know was the depth of work I would need to do, and how much I have buried and hidden away (even from myself), in order to be able to survive.

Part of the healing journey has been accepting that sometimes it feels like I’m stuck in a loop, when I am really on a spiral stairway that keeps coming round to the same issues, just at a different level. It might feel, at times, that I am just going around in circles, but progress is not always in a straight line.

Bad habits are decisions we refuse to make

Take a moment to write down, for yourself, three habits that you have right now that are impacting your health and wellness, and that you are making no attempt or haphazard attempts to change. How would healing be possible if you made these changes?

Divine Presence, healthy life, healing from chronic illness, chronic disease, autoimmune illness, In fact, if you know the right thing to do and don’t do it, that, for you, is "sin". If you know better, do you do better?
If you know better, do you do better?

I’m going to mention a few habits that most of us have (at some level) and that we know better, and yet it’s easier to continue doing it, than to change. We give ourselves all kinds of excuses.

Eating on the go

Who doesn’t know that eating-on-the-run is bad for their health? This might be that you are eating:

  • fast food while driving your car
  • standing in your kitchen while fixing food for others or doing some chores, or perhaps
  • sitting at your desk or computer, working.

There’s the risk of falling into a fast-food trap – with unhealthy ingredients, high sugar and high sodium. But it’s not just the ingredients, it’s the very fact that we are not allowing the body to go into “rest and digest” while we eat, but rather we are still eating while in motion (and quite possibly under stress).

All of these habits lead to:

  • increased risk of cancer;
  • risk of heart disease
  • high blood pressure
  • inflammation
  • issues in the immune system
  • and even memory loss.

Our bodies were created to rest and relax while eating, to enjoy the aroma and visual appeal – so that we get the digestive juices flowing. We allow ourselves the time and space to savour and chew. And to notice what we are doing, rather than having our attention focused somewhere else.

A lot of problems can be solved just by removing
some people,
some food, and
some habits
from your life.

Anonymous

Our sedentary lifestyles

We’re warned enough about laziness and sitting around in Proverbs, but more than just being couch potatoes, it’s even the way we travel to work and the conditions in which we’re working that create challenges.

Sitting for so many hours a day, whether it be in a bus, on a train, in the car, at your desk is exhausting mentally, leaving us wanting to stay sedentary when we finally get home.

What does this create?

  • high blood pressure
  • type 2 diabetes
  • cancer
  • obesity
  • heart disease
  • osteoporosis
  • stroke

Exercise – or more importantly regular movement – helps us with our digestion as well as improving the blood flow to the brain. It naturally helps our body keep our blood sugar under control, and possibly most importantly helps produce oxytocin – our “happy hormone” that is produced naturally in the body.

Over-eating

Do you really need me to tell you all the ways that this shows up? Perhaps you snack when you’re not actually hungry, you give into cravings, or you are just eating too much generally. Eventually, your body stops sending you the hunger signals (since you ignore them anyway) and just lets you know the cravings.

We create our own health challenges through over-eating:

  • obesity
  • heart disease
  • diabetes
  • acid reflux

These are just a few.

It could be as simple as wolfing down your food too quickly, so that you fail to notice the message that you are full. This, unfortunately, can lead to bloating, gas and acid-reflux.

If you’re eating too late, it may be interfering with your ability to get a good night’s sleep.

Not drinking enough water

Our bad habits are as simple as failing to drink water, and instead replacing it with energy drinks, soft drinks or coffee. But your body is 60% water, and we need the water for regular bowel function, optimal muscle performance and even for our skin.

When we fail to drink enough water, we run into:

  • bad breath
  • fatigue
  • constipation
  • sugar cravings
  • weight gain
  • mental fog
  • risk of stroke
  • moodiness & irritability
  • headaches
  • over-eating
  • slower metabolism

All because we haven’t built a habit of drinking water.

Skimping on sleep

I’ll sleep when I’m dead.

Yes, I have said that. I would burn the candle at both ends and then drink coffee (not water) to keep going. Skimping on sleep does more than just impair our judgement and compromise clear-headedness in decision-making.

It also causes:

  • irritability
  • heart disease, heart failure & contributes to heart attacks
  • high blood pressure
  • stroke
  • weakens immunity and the immune system
  • increases stress and cortisol levels
  • causes weight gain
  • increases the risk of diabetes
  • fuels depression

I justified to myself the choices of burning the candle both ends and continuing with my lifestyle choices, even daring to suggest that this was Biblical (Proverbs 31 – the Virtuous Woman). She gets up while it’s still dark, her lamp does not go out at night, and she does not eat the bread of idleness. But I’m pretty sure that she didn’t drive herself into the ground either!

My personal healing journey: lifestyle changes

All five of these issues came up for me in my healing journey, to different degrees. But when we talk about “go and sin no more” – what we each have to address our the habits we have that are holding us back.

Each one of us has strengths and weaknesses (and for many our strengths are also our weaknesses), and it’s a personal journey of discovery and transformation.

In my personal journey, there were four principal areas that I had to address, most of them more than once and in different areas of my life:

  • gluttony and over-eating
  • murmuring & complaining
  • laziness & failure to take responsibility, and
  • holding onto anger, resentment and bitterness, rather than letting it go with complete forgiveness.
The truth will set you free, but first... it might really piss you off!

Gluttony & over-eating

I’m not going into sharing a rift of Bible verses on gluttony. It’s the internet – you can look them up for yourself.

gluttony, excess in eating or drinking, greedy or excessive indulgence, glutton, Merriam-Webster dictionary, definitions
Definition of Gluttony: Merriam-Webster disctionary

My personal definition of Gluttony is slightly different, although it is certainly an excess of eating.

But what I consider an excess might be much more strict that what you are accustomed to seeing or hearing as “excess”.

So, I invite you to consider what your definition of excess might be.

For me, eating starts with the question (physical) – “Am I hungry?”. I’ve discovered over the past three years, that there are a ton of reasons that I might eat, when I’m not hungry:

  • anxiety
  • boredom
  • cravings
  • fatigue
  • stress
  • social constructs & pressure
  • the power of suggestion – “I see food, so I eat it”
  • comfort.
My body is a temple... Perhaps a little ancient and crumbling... needing urgent renovations.

When I’m hungry, it’s perfectly possible to postpone eating for thirty minutes or more without getting hangry. Cravings and emotional eating, on the other hand, demand to be attended immediately. The question is “how do I choose to attend to these demands?”.

If I acknowledge that my body is a temple, how am I maintaining it with discipline?

If I’m not hungry, am I willing to deal with the root issues and causes that lead me to the fridge, rather than eating and stuffing all my emotional and mental issues right back down again, swallowing my tears, and refusing to sit in the discomfort of what I am experiencing?

Stress eating:

Stress, especially chronic and ongoing stress, causes our body to produce cortisol. In a healthy situation of stress (i.e. where you literally ran away from danger), cortisol will make you hungry, so that you refuel your body. Unfortunately, my stress is not the result of running away from a tiger! The hunger signals are false, and I know this if I actually check in with my stomach.

What needs to change? When I’m honest with myself, this is about lifestyle, beliefs and choices that are keeping me in a state of stress.

  • Where’s the inner peace that passes understanding?
  • What happened to the faith that allows me to trust that things are truly working out for my good?

If I eat, I can ignore these questions, rather than addressing the root problem: one of faith. It’s very similar to eating when anxious. If I eat, I can focus on something away from the anxiety.

But aren’t I supposed to be “anxious for nothing” and instead to turn my requests over to the Divine and surrender? Eating bypasses the anxiety, rather than addressing the beliefs and faith issues. How do I expect physical healing when I am not addressing the spiritual?

Fatigue and being tired:

Another chemical process happens in our body when we’re tired:

  • Our gherlin goes up (produced to let us know we’re hungry) and
  • Our leptin goes down (produced by our fat cells to let us know we don’t need to eat – as it decreases our feelings of hunger).

So, when we’re tired, no matter the cause of our fatigue, our body asks for either rest or more fuel.

But what if the reason that we’re tired is because of bad sleep habits? It my case, it was caused in part by gut problems (bloating and discomfort, which lead to light and interrupted sleep). One habit that was effective in fixing this: eat before 6 pm, so that I sleep better. But do I change my habits and honour health?

We can feel the difference once again in our stomach between tired and hungry. If I really am tired, is what my body really needs healing rest?

Comfort eating and sweets:

Perhaps we eat comfort foods because they remind us of “being loved”. Or we need more sweetness in our lives, so we give into our sweet tooth.

But if what we need is comfort and connection, perhaps what we need to do is hop on the phone and call home. Are we hungering for a spiritual connection?

Whatever the reason for our cravings, when we eat, we block the request. The request has been attended to, but the underlying need remains unsatisfied.

Eating past the point of hunger into fullness

The challenge is not just to eat when hungry, but to stop at the right moment: when I am no longer hungry. There’s no need to eat into “crowded” or “full”, much less “stuffed”.

So why do we eat more than our body asked for?

  • I’m enjoying this too much – we have scarcity and deprivation thoughts related to food or enjoyment
  • procrastination – I don’t want this to end, because then I will have to go and take care of… On a more subconscious level we know: if I eat too much, I’ll be sluggish and tired, and have the perfect excuse.
  • I was told to clean my plate as a kid, and I’ve never adjusted this belief around being able to leave something on the plate
  • I feel the pressure of friends or family to “eat up”, especially when they want to offer a second helping.

But what if, instead, we chose to:

  • Deal with what I’ve been avoiding?
  • Accepted that there is abundance and I can have more enjoyment at another moment.
  • I give generously to those in need and don’t have to prove it by clearing my plate.
  • I serve myself smaller portions, so that I can finish with nothing left on the plate, and
  • I told the people that I love how I feel about them and how I appreciate them, so it’s not necessary to show this by eating more.

Unmet needs, desires & wants:

All of these examples simply go to show that we have unmet needs, desires, fears and wants. These may be mental, emotional or even spiritual.

The lifestyle change that was required for me is being willing to tackle them, rather than choosing to stuff them down with food.

Murmuring and Complaining

I had a major turning points in my healing journey in 2017, when I first listened to an old interview with Stephen Levine on YouTube, called Conscious Living, Conscious Dying.

It is so easy, especially when your illness comes with physical pain, to allow our grief and pain to turn into bitterness, anger, reproach and despair.

We are told to bless those that curse you. How about blessing your body and your pain? If you feel cursed, because you are carrying an illness or disease – are you blessing it?

Are you cursing your body or that part of your body that appears to be letting you down?

Is your heart raging against the Divine because of this cross that you have to bear? Are you raging against yourself for all the life choices you’ve made that lead to this point?

Perhaps complaining feels easier!

to murmur, a half-suppressed or muttered complaint, grumbling, complaining, murmuring
Definition of murmur, Merriam-Webster dictionary
definition of complain, complained, complaining, to express grief, pain, discontent, to make a formal accusation or charge
Definition of complain, Merrian-Webster dictionary

Ask and you will receive

In her book, “Unbound: A woman’s guide to power“, Kasia Urbanjiak talks about how behind every complaint is an unspoken request. We complain because it feels more acceptable than asking for what we really want.

Where is my faith in

  • “ask and you will receive”
  • “making your requests known”
  • “asking according to Divine will, because the Divine hears” and
  • “you do not have, because you do not ask”?

Of course… perhaps I’m not willing to take up my bed and walk! Maybe I’m too scared to get out of the boat, in order to walk on water.

It’s so much easier to murmur and complain, rather than to ask and then be responsible for my actions.

Let’s be honest – complaining is socially acceptable!

“Nothing unites people more strongly than a common dislike. The easiest way to build friendship and communicate is through something negative.”

Trevor Blake

Complaining impacts your health!

A cheerful disposition is good for your health, gloom and doom leave you bone-tired, a healthy life restored, why you need to go and sin no more
A cheerful disposition is good for your health; gloom and doom leave you bone-tired.

Health impacts of complaining:

  • fatigue
  • creates more stress
  • worsens anxiety & depression
  • it rewires your brain – in a bad way! The habit of complaining reduces the number of neurons in the hippocampus, the part of the brain used for problem-solving and cognitive function. Actual shrinkage!
  • Neurons that fire together, wire together – and you are creating a habit of complaining. So, you are likely to be creating new things to complain about and attracting to you people who like to complain!

And so, you find yourself in a place – that you have built – clinging to resentment, pain & trauma. You have become what you have focused on.

What would you like to focus on?

But as I said, you don’t receive, because you don’t ask. Complaining reinforces the idea “I’m a victim and there’s nothing I can do to change this situation.”

“Complaining does not work as a strategy. We all have finite time and energy. Any time we spend whining is unlikely to help us achieve our goals. And it won’t make us happier.”

Professor Randy Pausch

I finally reached a point where I had to ask myself:

What if this disease is happening for me, not to me?

Can I search for the blessing, strengths and lessons that it has to teach me? What might I be grateful for in this journey? How does Divine Presence show up in my life through this illness?

And this takes me into the third thing I had to address: being willing to take small steps forward.

Laziness and the desire to stay a couch potato

Synonyms for laziness are indolence and sloth. Indolence derives from the Latin indolentia, ‘without pain’ or ‘without taking trouble’. Sloth has more moral and spiritual overtones than laziness or indolence.

Neel Burton M.D.The Psychology of Laziness

Anyone who’s taken time to read Proverbs or Ecclesiastes knows what they say about getting stuck under the covers! But sometimes, with chronic illness, there’s more than laziness to deal with.

Definition of lazy, Merriam-Webster dictionary, disinclined to activity or exertion, not energetic or vigorous, encouraging inactivity or indolence
Definition of lazy, Merriam-Webster dictionary

Allow me to clarify, that when I talk about the desire to stay as a couch potato and be lazy, I am not referring to:

  • Chronic fatigue and the need to rest
  • Clinical depression and how it drives you to inactivity
  • Shutdown caused by the dorsal vagus nerve
  • Resting to recover from illness

While I mention that my healing journey has required that I face my personal laziness, it would be unfair to myself and others to write everything off as laziness.

Fatigue

Most people with chronic illness deal at some point in time with chronic fatigue. I’m not talking about ME, also known as chronic fatigue syndrome, although I can identify with every one of the symptoms listed for it:

  • brain fog, problems with clear thinking, memory loss, and even muscle twitching
  • disrupted sleep
  • aches & pains in joints, muscles and the body
  • heart palpitations
  • allergies
  • gastrointestinal changes: nausea, bloating, constipation & diarrhoea.

Being diagnosed with ulcerative colitis and Coeliac disease, these are all part of the fatigue I’ve had.

Depression

Another symptom (commonly found with other chronic illnesses also) of Coeliac disease and ulcerative colitis is depression. For me, this was caused by two things:

  1. a natural side effect of having a disease in the gut that affects the ANS, immune system and gut microbiome.
  2. ignoring my grief and sorrow, trying to soldier on, without allowing myself to acknowledge what I felt I had lost.

For many years, I attempted to fore happiness and pretend nothing was wrong. “I’ve got this”. I was pretending to be strong, rather than finding inner strength. And if you’re any good at this, you can do it for years.

During this time, I failed to acknowledge all the sources of my depression: gut health & microbiome, emotions, mental, chemical and even the dis-regulation of my ANS.

Shutdown & avoidance as self-preservation

Until recently I didn’t even know that one of my primary survival instincts (those habits you create to survive, that later become your Achilles heel), was shutdown and avoidance. The body is an amazing thing – survival first.

While some people go into fight-flight when faced with danger, I learnt as a child that those were not options. The safest option was to be neither seen nor heard. It’s freezing like a possum that plays dead or the turtle that hides safely in its shell.

So why on earth, if I’m battling these three challenges, would I even mention laziness as a habit to be overcome?

Being lazy: disinclined to activity or exertion

It’s so easy when life is overwhelming to get stuck in “there’s nothing I can do about this”. As I said before, if I had known that returning to a healthy life would take so long, would I have even tried?

In most cases, it is deemed painful to expend effort on long-term goals that do not provide immediate gratification. For a person to embark on a project, he has to value the return on his labour more than his loss of comfort.

Neel Burton M.D.The Psychology of Laziness

I was not completely helpless. There were things I could do that would make a difference, but that required some effort on my part.

  1. Intentionally resting: rather than watching TV or playing computer games or mindlessly scrolling social media, I needed to sleep deeply, giving my body a chance to heal. To do this, I had to remove foods that interfered with deep sleep, remove caffeine and add in magnesium.
  2. Find out which supplements, vitamins & minerals would restore health. Some of these tackle inflammation, while others support the nervous system and neuro-processes, giving me clearer thinking and raising my energy levels.
  3. Build my own personal support network and groups.

I wanted people around me that were positive and believed restored health was possible. I needed accountability, not people that would listen to me complaining. Most importantly, I wanted to be surrounded by those interested in “being healthy“, rather than those whose mindset was “how do I live with this illness?”

I want to be healthy in spite of this illness

It takes exertion, motivation & discipline to make the changes (habits & lifestyle) that restore health & wellbeing. I constantly battle my innate survival mode of withdrawal and hibernation.

Laziness says

  • “I’ll deal with the mental, emotional and physical issues later – right now I’m just going to finish binge-watching this series on Netflix.”
  • “I’m sick. There’s nothing I can do about it.”
  • “I can’t run, so there’s no point in going for a 5-minute walk.”
  • “My joints & muscles hurt, so I’m just going to stay here.”

If I listen to that, I don’t even bother going to the kitchen to take the supplements that help relieve the inflammation & pain.

Laziness doesn’t just refer to being “a couch potato” – but it’s the state of mind of being stuck, unable to even move a single rung up the ladder.

Yes, I still want the magic pill of miraculous healing that allows me to bypass all this work and all these individual steps! But would I really have made the changes and addressed all these issues any other way?

Change the habits & lifestyle, so that the miracle can happen!

Medically speaking, it’s impossible to heal Coeliac Disease and ulcerative colitis. So far, they are vastly improved, but not healed. I’m not sure if it will be possible, or whether my personal healing journey will simply be one of discipline & habits.

But I finally reached a point where I am willing to continue the journey, irrespective of the final outcome.

And so I come to the last healing lesson I want to share with you: forgiving myself and others.

Learning to Forgive: letting go of anger, resentment & bitterness

Forgiveness and reconciliation are two entirely different concepts. Unfortunately, as a child I learnt a very skewed example of forgiveness and reconciliation.

We were made to say “I’m sorry“, with the threat of punishment hanging over our head if we didn’t. And if we received this unrepentant sorry, we were equally forced to say “I forgive you“, with that very same threat of punishment. At least we were equally afraid of the punishment that would be meted out if we failed to say sorry or I forgive you.

What lesson was that really in forgiveness?

There was not open-heartedness or vulnerability. There was no true desire to repair the relationship. We merely feared the greater punishment that awaited if we failed to say those words, no matter how meaningless.

I grew within myself a heart of stone, because it wasn’t safe to be vulnerable and open. Feelings were not safe and were certainly not to be expressed.

Personal forgiveness

I’ve had to come a long way in my own journey of forgiveness, leaving meaningless words behind and delving for myself into the heart of the matter. I no longer rush to forgive (going through the motion) or minimising my emotions and feelings. And I don’t need the other person to even be aware that I am forgiving them.

Forgiving you means I no longer dwell on what a cruel & unkind person you were. It doesn't mean you are no longer cruel & unkind. It also doesn't mean we still have a relationship.
Forgiving you means I no longer dwell on what a cruel & unkind person you were. It doesn’t mean you are no longer cruel & unkind. It also doesn’t mean we still have a relationship.

In order to truly forgive another, you have to acknowledge what you’re feeling. And those feelings might no be pretty. They might be more than pain and hurt or disappointment. Perhaps you feel angry and resentful. Worse yet, you might have allowed it to fester and turn into bitterness.

But until you can actually unpack your emotional baggage, and hang it in the sun to air and for you to see clearly, you won’t truly forgive. All of the feelings that you stuffed down, stowed away, and hid in the darkest corners of your memory have to be released and let go.

Forgiveness isn’t just spiritual, it’s also physical:

If we want to heal physically, we have to practice forgiveness – of ourselves and others. Whatever it is that we are holding onto.

…unresolved conflict can go deeper than you may realize—it may be affecting your physical health. The good news: Studies have found that the act of forgiveness can reap huge rewards for your health, lowering the risk of heart attack; improving cholesterol levels and sleep; and reducing pain, blood pressure, and levels of anxiety, depression and stress. 
,,, Chronic anger puts you into a fight-or-flight mode, … changes in heart rate, blood pressure and immune response. Those changes, then, increase the risk of depression, heart disease and diabetes, among other conditions. Forgiveness, however, calms stress levels, leading to improved health.

Forgiveness: Your Health Depends on It

When we hold a grudge, our attention stays focused on the past and it plays a role in the present moment, even in depression. This anger or resentment, when stored for long enough in our body, can even show up as pain or more illness.

Studies show how suppressed anger – that which we haven’t been willing to even acknowledge, much less vent – is showing up in cases of patients with cancer. Suppression takes a toll on our bodies, as we pretend that we aren’t hurt and angry. (Anger and Cancer: Is There a Relationship?)

On the other hand, when we hold a grudge, we create the feelings each time I mind replays the situation. So, now when I think of “forgive and forget”, I am turning off the “replay” switch in my mind. It’s not that I completely forget the situation, as if it never existed, but rather that I refuse to give the reruns “air time” in my mind.

I refuse to relive the stress of the memory over and over again in my body. I will not rehash – in this present moment – an event from the past. That is simply poisoning the present.

Among the many harmful effects that this loop has on your health is cognitive decline, dumping cortisol (the stress hormone) back into your blood stream, and affecting once again appetite, sleep patterns, heart rate and blood pressure.

“Living in a chronic state of tension disables your body’s repair mechanisms, increasing inflammation and the stress hormone cortisol in the body.”
“Forgiveness engages the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps your immune system function more efficiently and makes room for feel-good hormones like serotonin and oxytocin.”

Angela Buttimer

Forgiveness has a slew of health benefits as well:

  • improved mental health
  • less anxiety & stress
  • lower blood pressure
  • fewer symptoms of depression
  • a stronger immune system
  • better heart health.

I recognise that I’m still not done with the this process. But I’m finally willing to sit with emotions as they arise. I’m finally able to see how the spiral works in healing, no matter how long the journey.

And the truth will set you free

Not just knowing it… but truly living it! I started off with a video by Stephen Levine, where he talks about healing, not just physically but also emotionally.

Over these past four years, as I’ve worked on restoring my physical health, I’ve had to admit to the truth of where I am at and what changes and habits I have not been willing to change that have delayed the healing process.

I finally have begun to understand Jesus’ admonition to the man he healed “go and sin no more” – because I realise the effects that my lifestyle had (emotionally, physically, mentally & spiritually) on my health & well-being.

This has been the greatest gift of this illness: recognising that I have choice about how I choose to live in the presence of the Divine and how I choose to let it shine for and through me.

Inside out, Romans, Matthew, reject, rejected, gifts, calling, mercy, listen, understanding, practicing presence, squeeze, news, environment, true colours, masks, fears, anger, healing, love, fear, mouths, words, tongue, practicing presence, Shekinah

Sermon: Inside Out

READINGS:

    • Romans 11: 1-2a; 29-31
    • Matthew 15: 10-11; 15-20

 

This week, in the news from Charlottesville and then Barcelona, we see far more fear and hatred in the world than we are comfortable with. This is not the world that I want my daughter to grow up in. The unfortunate reality is that we are in an environment today where people have become comfortable showing us what they really hold on the inside – they are letting it come to the surface and showing their “true colours”. While I’m repelled by it, I’m also a little relieved that the masks are off – now that we know you have these fears and anger on the inside, let’s talk about them. Let’s talk about healing. Let’s talk about a love that casts out all fear!

Our readings this morning dealt with 2 particular topics:

  1. We each have a gift and calling from God that are irrevocable; and
  2. Whatever comes out of our mouths, comes directly from our hearts!

We are all like lemons: a lemon has some wonderfully positive characteristics; it’s full of vitamins, it can help your liver deal with bile, it can cleanse your bowels, you can use it to bleach your hair (if you don’t mind it getting dried out), we put “real lemon juice” in our dish-washing liquid and our furniture oil; it is considered anti-bacterial. On the other hand, it’s also sour, acidic, tart, astringent and in some cases just plain bitter! When you squeeze a lemon, what you get out is lemon juice – because that’s what is inside.

And when you or I are put under pressure and squeezed – the “real” you comes out: that which is really inside of you! And, like the lemon, you have some wonderful qualities, gifts and calling; and other parts of you are sour or bitter or not so pleasant.

STRENGTHS & WEAKNESSES strengths, weaknesses, talents, gifts, serving others, learning, growing, born again, rebirth, transformed, renewing, God, Spirit, healing

Before I talk about your gifts and your callings, I want to remind you that our strengths and our weaknesses are usually connected: they can’t be looked at as independent attributes.  For example: your stubbornness is the determination that gets things done; your creativity is probably somehow tied to your day-to-day chaos; your inconsistency may allow you to remain flexible; your calm may be seen by many as emotionlessness. Many adventurers are seen as being irresponsible; someone who is realistic may tend to be negative and pessimistic; and someone who is self-confident may easily become arrogant.

Behind all of this, is the heart and the intentions of the heart! Is the heart coming from a place of love, caring and calling? Or is the heart  coming from a place of lack, fear and ego?

There is a story that is told of an old Cherokee teaching his grandson about life:

“A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.  “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”
He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

WHICH “I” ARE YOU FEEDING?

If you have followed me so far, you will realise that every one of your weaknesses might actually be a strength – a gift that God has given you to help you fulfill your calling. They say that the best moment to plant a tree was 20 years ago; but if you didn’t do it 20 years ago, the next best day is today. If you haven’t identified your calling in life, today is the best day to sit down and identify what you were called by God to do. Every single person that is born was born with a purpose to fulfill on earth! Everyone.

“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:10

You have your gifts and talents. You were given enough. But if you are busy feeding your heart anger, envy, sorrow, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt & ego – that is what will win. When you are put under pressure and squeezed, that is what will show to the world!

So, when you look at your gifts and talents, and you identify your calling: then you have to strive to perfect those gifts. Use it, or lose it? Anyone that has ever tried to learn a musical instrument knows what no matter how much talent you have, without practice it’s impossible to improve. There are hours of practice of techniques, until muscle memory takes over instead of having to think about each movement. They say it takes some 10,000 hours to become a master! If you look at your spiritual gifts and your Christian life – how far along the path are you investing 10,000 hours to master being a Christian and following in Jesus’ footsteps?

If you considered a University degree – 4 years of study, which is about 8 months out of the year, let’s say 8 hours a day, 5 days a week? That would be about 5,500 hours that you spent only to reach a bachelor’s level of education. Most of us would not consider a recent University graduate to have mastered anything yet. So, when it comes to your spiritual life and transformation, when it comes to what you have inside your heart, why do you expect it to be so easy?

BEING “BORN AGAIN”

rebirth, transformation, patience, struggle, effort, hard work, mercy, gifts, calling, God, listen, understand,, mouth, heartI know for myself, there is this lingering idea that when you are “born again” you become a new creation! Suddenly it’s all easy, right? But if you remember, about 2 months ago we were studying Romans 7, verses 14 to 25, where Paul was agonizing over how he wanted to do good and yet was doing exactly what he didn’t want to do! It was a constant struggle. But as you get to know your strengths and weaknesses, as you cultivate yourself – you practice, sharpen, and develop – then your heart becomes transformed closer each day to the calling that God has for you.

But I would dare to say that “being reborn” is simply “the first day of the rest of your life”. As today is. As tomorrow will be when you wake up tomorrow morning. So use your gifts well. The gifts and talents that God has given you  are not for your own benefit, they’re for the benefit of other people. My gifts are for your benefit. Your gifts are for my benefit. You are to use those gifts in the service of other people. God has given you a special role in this world: you have a special contribution to make that others cannot replace!

1 Corinthians 7: 7 reminds us:

each person has a special gift from God, of one kind or another.

LIVING FROM THE HEART:true, honest, just, pure, lovely, good, virtue, praise, meditation, heart, words, mouth, acceptable, Lord, gifts, talents, focus, meditate, excellent, praiseworth, English speaking, Sunday service, Panama City, Panama

As we read in Romans 11:

I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! … God has not rejected his people who he foreknew.
For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.

God has NOT rejected us! God’s love abounds for everyone: the gifts and calling are irrevocable. But it depends upon us to make our way back to God’s calling and to use the gifts we are given. It is up to us to get ourselves back on track with the forgiveness, healing and help that God has promised throughout the entire Bible. We may reject ourselves. We may reject others. But God is love: God is not ONLY loving. God is love. This means that God cannot help but love us. We are all children of God, called according to God’s purpose. May our hearts and minds reflect this calling.

We read in Psalm 19, verse 14:

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in your sight, O Lord.

David knew well that what he meditated on, in his heart, would control the words that came out of his mouth. As you take stock of your gifts and talents, as you identify your calling and purpose, how you are called to serve others, then you will find the focus on which you are meant to meditate, ruminate, ponder, consider, reflect and think. And as you spend more time, thinking on things which are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy, just, commendable: when you are squeezed by life – that is the fruit that will come out of your mouth from your heart! I trust, as we all leave today, that we will go forth to our calling, using our gifts as we were meant to do.

Readings:

  • Romans 11: 1-2a; 29-31

I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! … God has not rejected his people who he foreknew.
For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. Just as you… have now received mercy… so they now, by the mercy shown to you, they too many now receive mercy.

  • Matthew 15: 10-11; 15-20

Then he called the crowd to him and said to them, “Listen and understand: it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.”
But Peter said to him, “Explain this parable to us.”
Then he said, “Are you also still without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth enters the stomach and goes out into the sewer? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles. For out of the heart come evil intentions… false witness, slander [gossip, lying, cursing, blasphemies, evil speaking, complaining, railings, perjury, impiety of speech]. These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile.”

Sermon: Slavery or Freedom

Yesterday, July 1st – was Canada Day… in a couple of days, the United States will be celebrating 4th of July – a day of celebration of independence.  Choosing whom to serve.  It seems very appropriate then, that today we consider Romans 6: 12-23 that Phil Edmonstonread for us: freedom or slavery, discussing who we choose to serve.

For my example today, I’m going to use “anger”, because it is such a controlling emotion. How many have not felt controlled by their anger, rather than in control of their anger.  But the reality is that you could replace anger with any sin, because there are so many to which we can be slaves. Proverbs 6, verses 16 to 19 caution us:

16 There are six things that the Lord hates,
    seven that are an abomination to him:
17 haughty eyes (pride of the heart – arrogance, someone who is holier than thou, looking down on others because someone is better than…), a lying tongue (deception in speech, a lie is a lie – no matter how white or little),
    and hands that shed innocent blood (while it’s talking about murder, it even applies to gossip & character assassination),
18 a heart that devises wicked plans (remember – “as a man thinks in his heart, so he is”, this is premeditation, planning)
    feet that make haste to run to mischief (they have gone from machinations to execution readily – from planning to doing without restraint. But it’s more than that!  It is also when we know what to do and we consciously choose NOT to do it! It could be not participating in gossip – when you listen avidly and fuel the fire; it could be character assassination),
19 a false witness who breathes out lies (knowingly speaking falsely about another person, not simply lying – and that, once again, could include circulating rumours and gossiping),
    and (this is the worst one of them all, the 7th) one who sows discord among brothers (this is basically the sum of the previous 6… and we are back again to gossip & slander, speaking ill of another behind their back, creating divisions rather than unity).

But, unlike animals, humans suppress anger, and more importantly we have anger problems because we forget the purpose of anger.  Instead of using anger to protect our “cubs”, life, loved ones or friends, we have started to use anger to protect our ego!And the reason that I want to talk about anger, is that it is so closely related to many of these sins mentioned in Proverbs.  You know, that emotion that you feel: fury; wrath; rage; mad; ticked off; peeved… whatever you want to call it!  However much we may value loving kindness, we still get angry.  But what happens when anger controls your life? Let me clarify what I mean: there is a healthy and normal anger.  It is part of our fight/flight/freeze response, in which many species, not just humans, get a driving force of adrenaline that helps them escape from danger. With this, we respond to a perceived threat, whether to our children, our self, or our home.  We also see in animals, the same as in humans, the anger that arises from frustration, when we are trying to do a task, and confront failure in our performance.  I’ve watch more than one horse kick the bucket to get the water out!

And by ego, I mean our perception of our ego, which is partly how we want to regard ourselves (internal) and how we want others to perceive us (external).  Ego is our sense of “I”, the way we differentiate ourselves from others.  For some, it is an intoxicating sense of self-importance, something that must be protected.  But it is interesting that the Western view of ego is so different from the Eastern view of ego. For us, our ego is the self, the conscious part of me (my mind, my being) that knows the experience.  But, in Eastern tradition, ego is simply a part of the mind, a trait, a characteristic – but it isn’t actually WHO you are.  And this is important to differentiate when we are talking about anger, especially anger that is directed at protecting the ego! And this kind of anger is poisonous to us.

You all know the story about the boy with the bad temper, whose father sent him out with a bag of nails, and to hammer a nail into the fence every time he lost his temper, right? The first day, he had to drive 37 nails into the fence.  Over time, he got control of his temper, and it gradually dwindled down.  He discovered that it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence.  Finally, the day arrived: the boy didn’t lose his temper at all.  He told his father, and for a moment they celebrated that he had finally learnt to control it.  The father than suggested that for each day that the boy was able to hold his temper, he pull one nail out of the fence!  It took a long time, but finally the boy was able to return to his father and tell him that all the nails were finally pulled out of the fence.
The father took the son by the hand, and they went to look at the fence. And here they saw all of the holes that the nails had left.  The fence would never been the same.  And the father told his son: “When ou say things in anger, or lash out at another person, the words leave scars like these.  You can put a knife into a person and draw it back out, but the hole remains.  Saying “I’m sorry” will not fix the wound.  It is still there.”

Many of you may think that you handle your anger well: “I don’t express my anger, I hold it in and don’t say nasty things.”  But bottling the anger up inside, if you are not actually addressing it, leads to problems also.  In the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew 5, verses 21 and 22, Jesus said:

21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.

So, a small question:  how many of you know how a worm gets inside an apple?  You may think that the worm burrows in from the outside.  But scientists have discovered that the worm actually comes from the inside.  What happens is that the insect lays its egg on the apple blossom.  The blossom becomes an apple, and when the worm hatches, it is already INSIDE the apple. This is how our ego works on our thoughts, words and actions.  It is already inside of us, and we are busy protecting it!

But, like I said, our “ego” is not “us” – it is our perception of how we “see” ourselves and how the world “should see” us. It is only when we are able to not identify with our ego, that we are able to stop protecting it against every attack and begin to look rationally at our anger! Many of ous think “that made me so angry” or “if so-and-so hadn’t said that, I wouldn’t have reacted that way”.  But the truth is: they didn’t actually “make us” do anything. They may have been a source of temptation, but the reality is that they simply EXPOSED us and how we relate to our ego! And what comes out of our mouths when we are angry, is simply an expression of what is in our heart!

If we would take a moment, and “listen” to the thoughts in our head when we are angry, our self-talk, you might hear:

  • I can’t believe they would say that me!
  • How dare they think they could treat me this way!
  • They aren’t going to get away with this!
  • Karma will teach them a lesson!
  • This isn’t fair!

And so our mind  and thoughts escalate it… IT controls us! How many times have you been angry about a perceived injustice and your mind just won’t let it go? You know you need to relax and stop thinking about the situation or the words, but it keeps playing over and over in your head.  It’s as if there were a recorder stuck on replay! And you decide you’re going to forgive, and the anger just keeps welling up inside of you.  You start praying, and the thoughts interrupt and keep side-tracking you. How long are you a slave to these thoughts and this anger? How long does the replay keep popping up in your mind?

Think about it: how many times is this anger about getting our own way, self-centered desires. You feel righteous indignation – but how righteous is it really? Wasn’t it really about getting your way? Being right? Having your needs met? Ephesians 4:26 warns us:

Be angry, but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.

The whole purpose of the Bible is to draw us closer to God: the same God that is LOVE! God is love and we are called to draw near to God, draw near to LOVE. How do you draw near to love when you are controlled by anger? And what happens when you hold onto that anger past nightfall? You push it aside, deeper down, put a lid on it and ignore it. But it’s still there. You haven’t actually dealt with it, you’ve just covered it up. And when you try to draw near to God, you feel that there is something blocking you.

The truth is anger is a powerful emotion that deceives us into using it to demand our own way, and then we arrive in front of perfect love and we don’t know how to accept it, because perfect love drives out fear. Our ego can’t handle us letting go of our fear! It has been protecting itself for so long, that it can’t afford to let us let go of anything! It has to be right! It has to be protected! It cannot be vulnerable. It cannot be open and accepting. It cannot be forgiving.

If you want to get a handle on your anger, anger is not the problem you must address. Your temper is a symptom of what’s going on in your heart. If you gain self-control over your temper that’s great, but the deeper problem that causes your anger is what needs to change. How we act and live flows from what is in our heart – what we desire or want the most.  So, who do you serve this day? Are you a slave of your ego and your desires? Or do you have the freedom to love others? To see their interests, their point of view, and weigh what they want or need as well as your own wants and needs?

Freedom is being open to love – no longer under the yoke of EGO, but rather under the yoke of LOVE. Choose this day whom you will serve!

Sermon: Naked & Vulnerable

Genesis 3: 8-15

1 Samuel 8: 4-11, 16-20

I can’t tell you how excited I am to stand up here today and let you know that today we’re going to talk about getting naked, and not going with the crowd!

I’m going to give you a moment to let that sink in…

We just read in Genesis about Adam’s reaction when his eyes are opened, and he realises he and Eve are naken – they sow together fig leaves and make themselves clothes, and in verse 10, Adam responds to God:

“I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.”

Yesterday, I was giving Isabella a bath, and I can tell you, two-year olds are not ashamed of their bodies, and have nothing to hide.  If I would let her, I’m pretty sure Isabella would’t put on clothes at any time – she doesn’t understand what she needs them for. She struggles against you when it’s time to get dressed and routinely says “NO” when you say she needs to put clothes on.

More importantly, Isabella has no need to put up defenses and barriers between her and other people – she wears her heart on her sleeve. She laughs without reserve, she cries without reserve, and she simply shows every emotion that she is feeling.  She even manipulates without reserve and then laughs when you call her out on it, totally living in the present moment and without shame. When she’s uncertain, she lets you know, reaching out for support.  And if she gets scared, she seeks immediate shelter!

Take a moment – when was the last time you were truly authentic?  How long has it been since you allowed yourself to take off your armour and defenses, take down all those barriers you’ve built to protect yourself, and actually allowed yourself to live and feel?  We talk about “putting on our face”, rather than putting on make-up, or “keeping a poker face” instead of showing emotions.

How long has it been since you were naked and vulnerable before the people that matter the most in your live?  Most of us have lived for far too long in a society where naked has a sexual connotation, and we’ve forgotten that it also means to be open and discovered; it means to be honest, sincere and real.  Like Adam, we hide.  And then, when those who know us best get through that defense and find us, we give excuses like Adam did – it was HER fault, not mine.  That woman that YOU gave me, God, SHE made me do it!  It couldn’t possibly have been my fault!

In coaching we talk about secondary and primary emotions – and most of us are only in touch with the secondary ones, and fail to accept to even admit that below that emotion there’s another one that we’re too afraid to even acknowledge.  Many times our anger is simply a mask for impotence or pain and hurt; or our coldness and indifference is a mask for pain and vulnerability.  We put on a brave front, when we are really scared and insecure.  And we get so busy trying to convince the world that this is who we are, that we lose touch with ourselves and our true emotions.

All of this seeps over and into our Christian life and our relationship with God.  How many times do we try to keep on the mask, saying hollow prayers and just going through the motions?  When was the last time you were completely unarmed and defenseless before God?

Ephesians 6: 10-18 tells us to put on the full armour of God.  I have a really simple question – have any of you ever tried to put on a suit of armour ON TOP of another suit of armour?  If you are already wearing your own suit of armour, how could you possibly put on the suit of armour that God has to offer?  I’d like to look at this quickly:

  1. You have a belt of TRUTH – when was the last time you had truth in your life? Blatant, honest truth?  Where you didn’t have to mince words and keep up appearances? When you were who you really are?  What if, instead of being protected by all these lies, you could be protected by truth? What difference would that make in your life today?
  2. There’s a breastplate of righteousness.  I don’t what your definition of righteousness is, but when I think of righteousness, I don’t only think of holiness or blamelessness – it’s all tied in there together with fairness, goodness, justice, honor, and virtue.  And once again I’m going to ask – how can you wear a breastplate of righteousness when you already are living a lie?  If there is no authenticity and you are not being true to yourself, what kind of goodness and fairness can you offer to others?
  3. Next we have your feet fitted with the gospel of peace.  Oh! That’s deep.  How many of you can say your feet are shod with peace and tranquility?  Or are you so busy, keeping moving and always in a hurry that you fail to truly have a moment for peace?  Why the busyness? What’s the hurry? Does it make you feel more important? Does it give you self worth? Are you hiding from other feelings and simply filling up the void and emptiness in your life with “I’m too busy”.  Is there room on your body to put on the gospel of peace on your feet? Or do you need to get naked in order to have this possibility?
  4. Then, you are to take up the shield of faith – faith in humanity, faith in yourself, faith in God’s goodness and greatness, living a life of conviction and constancy, with the certainty that “it is well with my soul”.  Did your faith get broken, like a child’s toy, when life’s struggles trampled on it?  When did your heart get broken, such that you could no longer believe?
  5. We’re called to put on the helmet of salvation – does it fit on your head? Or are there too many ideas and issues rolling around in there?  When was the last time you took time to accept that perhaps salvation doesn’t depend on you, but only on God’s grace!  Can you accept God’s grace and undying love for you?  Or are you once again, too busy, trying to earn it and deserve it with everything you are doing? Be still… and know that I am God! The helmet of salvation is simply knowing that it’s not all on you.  You aren’t in this alone.  And keeps your mind clear and free.
  6. We are each given the gift of the Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God.  Yes, there’s the Word of God in the Bible, but there’s also the word of God in our hearts.  Have you taken a moment to listen to what God would say to you today?  Are you busy fighting your battles alone, rather than with God’s help?  When you ask God for guidance in your daily battles, do you actually sit quietly and listen to God’s answer?  Or do you just plow ahead into “this is what I need to do” without listening?  Who else are you not listening to?  The words of wisdom and advice we can find in the Bible are only available if we are willing to listen.
  7. And finally, we have praying in the Spirit – when was the last time you let you spirit pray directly in tune with God’s spirit? Have you taken the time lately to quieten all the senses and stop the rush, to be able to allow your spirit to pray, rather than your mouth, your emotions, your thoughts, your brain?

When we stand before God, we are supposed to be naked! Not naked, afraid and ashamed – naked, unashamed and vulnerable, open, holding nothing back, masking nothing.

Are you so busy trying to show everyone that you have it all together, that you’ve started telling this to God as well? Living your life as if you don’t need God’s help, assurance and salvation?  God wants us to get real! To get real with him. Get real with each other.  Talk from the heart!

To quote Kevin Smith:

  • Stop fakin’ the funk!
  • Stop fuontin’ and Stuntin’!
  • Stop trying to be something that you’re not before God!
  • Stop coming before God with “Oh holy, most reverent, wise & eternal God”!

GOD DOESN’T BELIEVE YOU!  As terrifying as it may be, he sees through the whole facade – you can’t keep pretending.

God wants us to be free! And freedom starts with being who you really are, and then building from there!

Speaking for myself –

I am terrified of being vulnerable and opening up – my facade is cold and unfeeling – and God says – “be vulnerable, risk being hurt, and open up” – then, and only there, will you be able to truly show God’s love to others.

My facade is being “too busy”, and always having excuses – and God’s response is “take time to simply be still and know that I am God”, there’s peace there.

My facade is that I am self-centered and ego-centric – and God’s response is that God is love, and there’s more than enough to go around!  I don’t need to live looking out for myself and my own interests, because the lie that I have been told that “there’s not enough” to go around is simply that, a lie.  There is abundance! I can always afford to give, because God promises to each of us:

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

God’s gift for us is that we are a special people – we don’t need to live like everyone else does.  We can be different and live in abundance.  But most of the time, we want to have a king to rule over us, like the people of Israel in Samuel – without realising the blessings that we will lose as a result.  Everyone else lives with barriers and facades, and so we should to?  I don’t think so – we are intended to live naked and exposed before God and men – covered in the armour that God has given to us, rather than the armour of our own making.