The Coward With A Hardened Heart

I’d met my childhood sweetheart at the age of 15 and we were married five months after my 18th birthday.  At the age of 32 I divorced a violent and narcissistic drug addicted schizophrenic man who in his twisted way believed that he loved me. He probably did but in my mind it was shallow.  At first I stuck around hoping for change and later on it was fear that kept me by his side for believing in his threats.

Since the divorce I’ve been dealing with stuff that surfaces slowly. You see, I’ve been a runner avoiding emotional pain and have done so for many years burying things deep within not to feel hoping it would go away. As a child I thought that If I didn’t feel it that it wouldn’t affect me. I wouldn’t let it. I thought I was tough to be able to swallow my pride, put things away and not face them again. In reality I was a frightened kid with a hardened heart who accumulated one trauma after another.

Refusing To Feel is Refusing To Heal

Funny thing about burying these very real feelings, they don’t die. They resurrect when you least expect them. Undealt with pain sinks into the chambers of our most inner being, seeping out poison slowly to remind us that these badly filed emotions need to be dealt with. The longer we leave them, the more thought processes and actions will be impacted affecting our character.  That’s how I became a very angry young person.

No wonder I ended up with depression. Recently (after 20 years) I uncovered exactly why I left my ex-husband.  When visions of the past rose to the surface playing as if on the TV, they seemed so remote to me I had to re-analyse them before I could recognise the past and own it.

Our hurts will resurface giving  us the opportunity to file them under, ‘forgiven’ not under ‘forgotten’ because that’s been proven not to work.  I’m living proof! We can’t completely forget trauma and past hurts.

The key to my healing was forgiveness.   It’s not within our nature to forgive such things. It’s a supernatural thing.  God gives us the ability to make that choice.  Our hearts catch up with our choices.

The bible says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”

Will you ask God to give you a forgiving heart?   Choose today to forgive and release yourself!

Today I make the choice to forgive………………………… but I don’t know how. Jesus come into my heart and give me the ability to forgive…………………………… for…………………….    Forgive me for my sins as well I ask in Jesus name.  Amen.

Once you’ve done this, it’s filed behind you under, “forgiven”.  Thoughts may resurface but when feelings of anger rise up again remind yourself that you’ve chosen to forgive, thank God for his forgiveness .

If you struggle with thoughts resurfacing, unwanted thoughts and pain too unbearable to face seek the help of a counsellor or talk to your church leaders.  I’m glad I did!

 

Dealing With A Past We’d Rather Forget.

Recurring thoughts happen for a very simple reason.

Most of us have done things in the past or have had things done to us that we’d rather not think about.   These recurring images and thoughts can bring about mixed emotions. Numbing the pain with addictions and substance abuse in order to forget will just make us repeat or ‘groundhog day’ until the next time the brain gives you another nudge jolting your memory.

These thoughts just don’t and won’t simply go away.  They are written deep within the hard drive of your memory as being, “undealt with.”  So they’ll just keep popping up until you file those thoughts in the right spot which is behind you. The only way to do that is to forgive yourself, forgive others and forgive God! Whatever method you’re using other than forgiveness won’t work and the cycle of recurring thoughts will keep going until you forgive.

You might still be angry, but if you don’t let go you will be stuck in a level of emotional immaturity and your character and actions will form around that bitter root.  To get past it simply make a choice to forgive even if you don’t know how to. Let it go. Unforgiveness leads to bitterness and bitterness leads to illness.

NOW FOR A SPIRITUAL TRUTH
The bible talks about the importance of forgiveness which is releasing someone from a debt and choosing to forgive, even if you don’t know how, to forgive them and no longer hold them accountable.

Matthew 6:14 – “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.”

If you read the passage above you may have picked up on the fact that YOU are attached to that unforgiveness.  By forgiving others you release yourself!

WIKIPEDIA
Forgiveness
is the intentional and voluntary process by which a victim undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding an offense, lets go of negative emotions such as vengefulness, with an increased ability to wish the offender well.

ONLINE
I’ve read that unforgiveness is like swallowing poison hoping the other person will die.

WHAT FORGIVING IS NOT
Forgiving someone doesn’t mean that you have to be friends with or associate with the person you’re forgiving.

Pray the following prayer if you want to forgive but don’t know how.

Lord Jesus,  today I make the choice to put the offense of (name the offense) behind me and to forgive (name the offender/s) that hurt me even if I don’t know how to.  I ask for your forgiveness and love to flow through me and  I ask you to forgive me for the unforgiveness and release me and (names) from effects of the sin and from bitterness and resentment. Cleanse my heart and make me whole. Amen.

Now you’ve prayed,  the decision you made might not match your feelings right now, but they eventually will.  If those thoughts come up again, simply tell yourself that all is forgiven and move on.  Don’t dwell on the past because when you entertain those thoughts they tend to move in and take over.

JUST AS DIRTY AS I AM

God welcomes everyone. As we learn from him and about him, we can’t help but fall in love.

It was 1996, I’d recently gone through a divorce with a violent, drug addicted and schizophrenic man who had me living in fear for almost 17 years. Wanting to get closer to God in the cold Canberra winter of 1998, my sister took me to her little Pentecostal church held at a local school hall, as they didn’t yet have their own building. Looking around at people with seemingly perfect lives noticing they were nicely groomed wearing dressy but casual clothing, their kids were happy and all I saw was one big happy family. Panicked within (anxiety), in my mind there was no way I’d ever fit into this scene.  Within me there was a storm.  At the time I was angry, sad, unhappy, lonely and just sick of life.

Feeling uneasy about being there I confided about those feelings to my my younger sister who is a strong Christian.   She said to me, “Sandra, don’t think that these people here have got it all made, they’re just as dirty and dysfunctional as you are.  The only difference is that they admit it and want to change.  They acknowledge that God is the source of all life and that it’s God who cleanses them. You don’t get into a bath unless you’re dirty!”

Then she said something else, “God accepts you as you are so let him in and he does the changing from within.”   I thought, “what? Wait a minute he accepts me then he changes me?  Isn’t that a contradiction?”   Reading my bible, I couldn’t help but fall in love with Jesus and his words.

I read somewhere that Jesus died for us while we were still sinners. It’s not the sin God loves, its us. He wants our hearts and Jesus also came so that we may be reconciled to God, have life and have it abundantly.  So the change in me was that I was going to befriend God and learn the true meaning of life and love it?  That was exactly what happened. The changes were gradual but sure.

It’s June 2017, I’m still in the bath, I’m not perfect and I’m slowly transforming into what God wants for me and I have inner peace in my life.  We hurt and deal with our hurts in our own dysfunctional way that can make us really bitter, or we can be free from fears and hurts while keeping our peace.  Its Jesus who wants to heal our hearts with his perfect love that casts out all fear.  

If you’re worried about sin, God forgives us, no matter what we have done.  What the bible calls sin, is sin, everyone in the world falls short because God is holy.  Nobody is perfect and we can’t point the finger in judgement of anyone else.  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only son for who-so-ever believes in him shall have eternal life” John 3:16  OK it states who-so-ever.  It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done? That’s powerful.

If you believe that then pray this short prayer asking Jesus into your heart.

Jesus, I know you died for me and take me as I am.  I’m not perfect and will never be that in this world.  Thank you that you took my sins upon your body and they were crucified with you on the cross. I ask your forgiveness and for you to come into my heart and grant me your peace. Let me grow in your wisdom and in truth. Fill me with the Holy Spirit that I may have your helper so I can follow you. Amen

What can you do now?

If you prayed that prayer, find a local Christian church, be baptised, read your bible and pray regularly. Walk close to God and remember that nothing can separate you from His love. If you have done all that and are filled with Holy Spirit you have been born again as the bible requires you to do so you can enter heaven. Live in relationship with Jesus offering constant prayers for those you love and for your enemies.

Christian bloggers are invited to share your posts on my Facebook group at Christian Blog Space

How Is Vulnerability Essential for Personal Growth?

By avoiding vulnerability we remain stunted and emotionally immature in areas where we refuse to feel.

Vulnerability is a difficult thing to master. Yet, it is in vulnerability that we cultivate courage within ourselves.  I personally don’t like being vulnerable. There’s a creepy sense of transparency that makes me really uncomfortable. The shame of not being good enough or the dread of being judged by others is why I have avoided public speaking for years!  Regrettably, It’s a real fear I’ve held onto instead of working through it.

Recently I’ve learned that the more that I allow myself to become vulnerable, the more growth I experience. Those people who practice vulnerability are generally seen amongst the most courageous, happy and intelligent people in society. How many public speakers do you know that don’t get nervous before making a speech? Not too many, right? Yet to onlookers they may look typically calm and collected.

It’s natural for us to protect ourselves from pain as we’re mostly inclined to shield ourselves from feeling anything negative.  By avoiding situations that require a certain level of vulnerability we remain stunted and emotionally immature in those areas where we refuse to feel.

Vulnerability is essential for our personal, emotional and spiritual growth. By stepping out of our comfort zones we’re allowing ourselves to experience and grow.  Speaking from experience, some of us tend to avoid it like the plague!

Brené Brown, Vulnerability Researcher summed it up perfectly when she said, “We numb vulnerability.”

MY EXPERIENCE

Allowing myself to become vulnerable I got on a plane after 40 years of avoiding flying due to a bad landing experience during a storm in Tahiti when travelling as a young child. So, not long ago I booked a week long holiday catching a plane to Queensland with my husband and daughter.  Since then I’ve been flying with my family and with work. It’s been fantastic and liberating.  But, I still cringe at the landing!

So my motto now is, “Do it afraid!”

2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear or timidity, but one of power, love and self-control.”

Watch and listen to Brené Brown’s TED Talk, ‘The Power Of Vulnerability.’

Sandra Ciminelli
PEN WITH A VIEW

Break Free from Wrong Money Attitudes

People with bad attitudes towards spending go broke or end up in debt.

Many people are working hard jobs to put food on the table and never seem to have any left over. While others who throw money away can end up unhappy or depressed.  We need goals and plans so that we aren’t blown around like a tumbleweed landing wherever life takes us.

Bad Attitudes Towards Money

Being overcautious and never spending money can lead to a boring life. However, overspending can become a bad habit leading to debt. Here are some of those attitudes that if corrected can turn around a person’s financial situation.

Partying Too Hard/Much

There’s that person who parties hard, is a binge drinker or recreational drug user who borrows in circles to pay back those within their own circles. This is probably a charming good talker who could be the best used car salesman ever that keeps friends who supply the cash around.  Sad really because these types don’t value anyone or anything as their own ego comes first.   I call this the ‘Peter Pan’ type. He likes to fly (be high) and take others along the journey with him and never thinks twice about tomorrow.

Negligent Spending

This type makes you cringe when hearing the excuses they come up with to borrow money, which initially I don’t mind until I hear the excuse,” I don’t have any money because I bought the latest gadget and it left me without any rent money for the next two weeks.” This selfish attitude takes other people’s finances for granted.

Then there are those who know that they are negligent spenders because they want the best quality of everything right now.  This calls for patience and understanding that sacrificing the unnecessary things today eventually makes the bare necessities and essential needs affordable tomorrow for most.  It will take a dilligent person who has determination and stickability who remains focussed on the big picture to succeed.

Gambling & other Addictions

Spending all their money on the sure bet, horses, poker machine, footy tab or greyhounds. The addiction is sure to make people broke.  The addict might be compelled to put a big win’s money back where it came from.  I’m not sure where I heard this phrase about gambling, “Its a tax on those who are bad at maths.”  But it’s pretty much on the money!

Addictions of any kind are really costly.  Seek professional help to kick a habit or talk to your GP who can recommend someone.  NO addiction will mean more money to yourself without the burden of an addiction to maintain.

A Thankful Heart Is A Contented Heart

  • We need to focus on our priorities, take charge of our own lives and be thankful for what we have.  We all live on borrowed time and can take nothing with us when we leave this world.
  • A heart of gratitude is the right attitude. Deuteronomy 10:14b “Heaven is the LORD’s… the earth also, with all that is in it.”
  • We aren’t to love money more than God. “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”Matthew 6:24  (mammon in Aramaic  is translated to ‘riches’.

MONEY MANAGEMENT

Being an independent and mature  adult means that a person can stand on their own two feet without having to rely on handouts.  When we begin to take charge of our lives it will become easier to take charge of our finances.

Saving money is putting money away for a rainy day or accumulating money for a purpose or goal.  Wikipedia describes, ‘Saving Money’ as,”income not spent, or deferred consumption. Methods of saving include putting money aside in, for example, a deposit account, a pension account, an investment fund, or as cash. Saving also involves reducing expenditures, such as recurring costs. … Saving differs from savings.”

Budget – Take the stress off your financial situation by knowing exactly how much you have and how much you can afford to spend.  Then manage the finances to pay off bills on time, separate your savings if possible and adjust your lifestyle accordingly etc.

Paying Off Debts

  • Take charge & make an effort pay off debts to individuals and companies that are owed money.  Arrangements can often be made to pay these off in installments.
  • Take one day at a time until all debts are paid.
  • Refrain from borrowing more money.
  • Seek a loan consolidation expert to combine loans together into one loan in order minimise repayment time and save money on interest.

Set Goals & Plan Ahead

  • Having goals is a discipline in having something to aim for.
  • We can begin by saving for something small and then progress to saving for bigger and more expensive projects.

Further Help

  • If you find it difficult to break free from wrong money attitudes contact a counsellor and seek advice from trained professionals.
  • Talk to your bank and loan consolidators.

Gamblers Anonymous Australia

Men’s Line Australia

Australian Government’s Money Smart – Consolidating & Refinancing Debts

Search for a counsellor near you at – Australian Counselling Association website.

or talk to your GP who can point you in the right direction.

How Strife Gets In To Gain Control Of Your Life

Inner peace has its healing properties and plays an important part in our mental health & wellbeing. Strife robs us of that. Don’t allow strife in and it can’t steal your peace.

strife

We all have different personalities, temperaments and tolerances to certain things. Our self defense mechanisms are completely different from one another. We even pick and choose how we tackle problems, accusations and threats.

Strife doesn’t just get into our lives by accident. We invite it into our lives with fights, retaliation, lies and gossip.  In return it will rob us of any possible inner peace. Strife destroys relationships with malice, envy, arguments, lies, gossip, slander and confusion.  James 3:16, “For where envying and strife is, there is confusion….”

Giving into anger is the easiest invitation you can give to strife. We need to practice self control to keep our own emotions in check by thinking before reacting.  Clear thinking enables us to make the right choices. Keeping the peace is the better choice.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate only love can do that.” Martin Luther King Jr.

We need to responsibility for our own actions especially if we want peace

According to Dr. Caroline Leaf, “scientific research has shown that 87-98% of mental and physical and behavioral illnesses come from our thought life.”

If strife is controlling your life you may want to talk to your pastor or counsellor to learn different ways to handle difficult situations that lead to strife. Anger management classes might also help.

MY PERSONAL THOUGHTS

One of the things I personally can’t stand is Drama.  Not the kind that is up on stage or on television, but the kind of drama that invites strife causing problems all round. I don’t allow anyone to steal my joy which to me is priceless. My inner peace can’t and shouldn’t be bargained with because my wellbeing and mental health depends on it, so I guard my heart.

When under attack sometimes the best defense is to simply walk away. Keeping my peace is more important to me than arguing with toxic trouble makers and liars who seem to revel in drama. I pick and choose my battles very carefully. Now I’m not saying be in denial. That’s a thing all together. Denial is pretending the issue doesn’t exist.

People need to be more self controlled and civil with each other.  Anything else is an open invitation for strife.

HOW DRAMA & STRIFE GETS IN

  1. Drama in your life comes with an invitation to react. If you accept the invitation it will create strife in your life.  Continue accepting invitations and you will never get rid of the drama in it either. Sometimes the best response is to not react & to walk away knowing that you have the upper hand. The result will be that you get to keep your peace. Don’t allow toxic people to steal your joy by feeding their addiction to strife with more drama.
  2. The other way strife gets in is if you cause problems continuously for others.  Things like gossiping, lying, stealing, causing others harm and not taking responsibility for your own actions, blaming others,  or lying about others for your own personal or financial gain invites strife in your life.  Steer clear from these greedy and obnoxious types.


WISDOM FROM THE BIBLE

Proverbs 16:28 – “A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends.

Proverbs 22:10 – Drive out a scoffer, and strife will go out, and quarreling and abuse will cease.”

James 4:1 – What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?”

Proverbs 20:3
“It is an honour for a man to keep aloof from strife, but every fool will be quarreling.”

Repentance requires us to change and repentance brings about restoration to God.  It’s a choice.  You might like to pray about it as well.

Here’s an example of a prayer you might like to offer up.

Father in Heaven, you are goodness and light and you want us to be whole in mind, body and spirit.   Forgive me for inviting strife into my life by reacting angrily to others. Make me an instrument of your peace.  I repent and ask you to give me peace by removing the spirit of strife from my life and fill me with your Holy Spirit.  Teach me your ways.

In Jesus name. Amen.

by Sandra Ciminelli
PEN WITH A VIEW

WHY CHURCH LEADERS NEED MENTAL HEALTH TRAINING

With mental health training church leaders can help their communities more than they know.

pexels-photo-99631

Most of us have friends who we can trust when the burden of our troubles become too heavy a load to carry. Christians often reach out to members of their pastoral care team or to close friends, while others choose to keep their problems to themselves.

Talking to someone is a great way to vent allowing for the release of some of that pressure. Friends can be really good listeners and advice givers, but depending on our circumstances and state of mental health at the time, they may not be able to give the right advice or point us in the right direction.

The church is uniquely positioned to help the community in difficult times as most believers will run to their church leaders for help.  Mental health training will help support the congregation with issues like depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder just to name a few.

THE WHOLE BEING

The bible is clear that humans are a three fold being consisting of a mind, body and spirit.   When one of those is out of peace, the other two are affected.  Keeping all three healthy is to find balance and wholeness.

“I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 5:23).

“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow (body), and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12).

Two Types of Crisis

Grief – Unfortunately the majority of us will suffer loss at one point in our lives and loss can lead to grief.

Some types of loss are:  Substantial financial loss, death of a close relative or friend, loss of a job, divorce, separation and loss of a family home or death of a beloved pet.

Mental Health – People with a mental illness like depression or anxiety can have overwhelming emotions and feelings that often alter their thought processes leading them to overreact to normal everyday situations.  Having lived all my life with the fortnightly roller-coaster of Pre-menstrual Dysphoric Disorder, it was a common occurrence to cry about problems during ovulation. After having my daughter in 2004, I became peri-menopausal and that’s when my symptoms, that included rage, became extreme.

Those who have a mental illness often find normal activities become overwhelming.  For some this might mean the inability to function as they normally would, they can lose their jobs often leading to a loss of quality of life and isolation.

Those Who Have Helped & Supported Me

Counsellor, Gynaecologist & Doctor – good listeners & resourceful – The best help so far for PMDD.  My GP sent me to a gynaecologist who recognised my symptoms.  He put me on a birth control pill (Norimin) suggesting I cut out the sugar tablets so to stop my menses completely, thus stopping what happens to my brain during that time when receptors shut down causing a depletion of my happy hormones.  I was also put on anti-depressants (Pristiq).   This helped me to function normally only to experience mild symptoms of PMDD now and again. The counsellor helped me to organise myself mentally in order to help me with my circumstances.  Finally I was beginning to function normally.

Family & Close Friends – Advice differed according to personalities, religious views, professions and some of those with mental health training (My two sisters) listened and then pointed me in the right direction.  Untrained friends lacked the ability to help me with my mental health problems which to them was foreign.

Pastoral care – Able to help me with personal and spiritual problems but when my mental illness was kicking in with intense bouts of depression that left me crying for hours nonstop, my thoughts were dark and gloomy and it seemed like the weight of the world was on my shoulders.  My pastoral care team were untrained to recognise symptoms of mental health problems; they didn’t know what to do apart from praying for me, which was great for me as I was hoping for a miracle.  But, miracles don’t always come when you want them to and it’s not through a lack of your personal faith.  God’s timing for your life is perfect. When a person is physically sick they go to see a doctor.  A person who has mental health problems needs counselling support.

That’s why I believe in mental health training for all church leaders.   Knowing the difference can make all the difference to a person in need.  Christians who have mental health disorders need to know that they are supported within the church, be pointed to mental health support services and resources when needed and they also need to know that they’re no less a Christian for being mentally unwell.

The body is all interconnected.  If our bodies can get sick, then the mind is no exception. Caring for the three fold being, mind, body and spirit leads to wholeness.

Sandra Ciminelli
PEN WITH A VIEW

Where to get help in Australia

Talk to your doctor who can point you in the right direction if you feel that you have a mental health issue.  You might be able to qualify for a mental health plan.

Lifeline A free 24 hour crisis counselling service – 13 11 14

Mens Line – A free 24 hour counselling service for men –  1300 78 99 78

Kids Help Line – Email Counselling and Web-chat available – 1800 55 1800