Everything Comes Down to Fear or Love

Every thing, every action or reaction, every word spoken or message shared with others, is done out of either fear or out of love. 


Are we trying to manipulate or control someone or some outcome when our words and actions are motivated by fear? Sure, when our children are little we need to instill the “fear” of some things for their physical safety like crossing the street, but when fear is the root of every word we say or every thing do, we are limiting ourselves and we keep ourselves from truly abiding in Christ.


When we live in fear, we give our peace, our joy, and our power away to others. Fear also has been shown to lower our immune system and cause stress. Some type of stress is always the cause of illness or disease. So not only are we giving away our emotional power to others or even to our own negative thought patterns, we are literally giving away our physical well-being.


In Letting Go: The Pathway of Surrender by David R. Hawkins, M.D., Ph.D., he talks about fear, “Fear is so pandemic in our society it constitutes the predominant ruling emotion of our world, as we know it.” When most people think of fear it isn’t usually a fear for their physical safety. It’s anxiety and worry. Watch the news for 2 minutes or scroll through social media for 30 seconds and fear and anxiety can over take our thoughts and steal our peace of mind.


Any message from any person or entity whether media, a pastor, or even our own thoughts, if it is based in fear, it is not from God or of God. Every single message from outside of ourselves and every thought our mind has should be filtered to see if at its very core is it based in fear. Fear is used to manipulate & control. If something is done or a message perpetuated or if we speak or act or react out of fear, it is not from God. God is love and perfect love drives out fear. We may think that sharing a message that way is the only way to wake people up and help them see, but even a message shared out of wanting to help someone but based in fear is still manipulative. I can be guilty of this myself. I think it is such a default mode in our culture that we may not even know we are doing it.


When we dwell in the past and ruminate on things we think caused us hurt or shame ourselves for things we think we should have done differently, we allow fear to steal our joy. When we worry about the future, we allow fear to steal our peace.


When we use discernment to examine our thoughts or words from others and continually surrender our fear and anxieties over to God, we are “taking every thought captive” and “praying without ceasing.” This is abiding in Christ and when we abide in Christ we are able to be fully present in the moment or as Eckhart Tolle says “in the now.” It is then that we are able to live without fear. That is when we can experience the peace that passes all understanding.


Every person has a core fear. Becoming aware of that core fear and learning and understanding why we have that fear is the first step in learning to surrender it.

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Intentionality Listens

I overheard part of a phone conversation at work yesterday and it got me to thinking about something. It also relates to my Monday Memo from a few weeks ago & a recent blog post. Then my husband had a conversation with someone that made me think about this same thing again.  So I decided I needed to explore it a bit more. Writing helps me flesh out my thoughts on something.


During the day I work for a service based company. Thankfully I don’t answer phones. Trust me when I say God did not gift me to deal with an irate customer. But I do overhear the CCR side of many of the calls.


Recently a customer called in asking if we provided a specific service. Our CCR tells him we do not offer that service. But then the customer asks her again. And she tells him again we cannot provide that type of service. She even goes on to explain that we are not licensed nor are we insured to do that. And then he tries to justify why we can do that for him so she tells him again we do not offer that service and we cannot do what he is asking.


It really became quite comical. This customer was so set on getting the answer he wanted from her that he was not listening to what she was saying.


Not long after this my husband was catching up with a friend. The friend assumed something about my husband. When my husband corrected him, the friend went into a rant. He already had his opinion cemented in his mind, and when my husband’s response challenged his pre-conceived thoughts he had no intention of listening to understand why.


How often are we actually listening to others? Do we assume what they will say will be in agreement with our own pre-conceived ideas?


We often hear “be intentional” from leadership experts and pastors, but what all is wrapped up in being intentional when it comes to our experiences, conversations, and relationships? I dare say being intentional is not just setting our mind on doing something and accomplishing it.


If we are to be intentional with people, we must above all listen. We must not just hear. We must listen without assumption. We must listen without judgement. We must listen with respect. We must listen to understand. This doesn’t mean we have to or will agree. But we absolutely must set aside our ego and pride and listen to understand why.

Be Curious, Not Judgmental

“Be curious, not judgmental.”


This quote is attributed to Walt Whitman. It seems to mis-attributed from the research I’ve done, but it is none the less a powerful reminder.


When I heard this quote it slapped me in the face. I struggle with being quick to judge something. As an Enneagram 1, I sometimes am too quick to allow my gut instinct about something to judge and make an assumption without allowing my head and heart to weigh in before drawing a conclusion.


That’s the rub of it. My ego doesn’t get out of the way and trips me up. Our egos are never curious. They major in assumptions. And we all know what they say about assumptions.


What if we were truly curious about a person, about why they make the choices they do, about why they think the way they do? What if we took a few moments instead of reacting to something we think is wrong or bad and dig a little deeper into why? Why they make a certain decision, why they chose differently than you.

When did we become so fearful of another’s views that we react with such anger and assumption? If we are confident in our own beliefs and views, we would not need to argue or react in such anger.


The world is in hyper judgment mode these days. The propaganda of fear from the media has lulled us into a perpetual state of stress thinking if someone does not agree or believe the way we do then they are our enemy and a danger to us.

We have to rise above this.

Where did our sense of curiosity go? When did someone automatically become an enemy when they don’t think like us or agree with our views?


We have to guard against allowing the pride of our ego to diminish the humanity of another. Because when we diminish someone else, we diminish God and his creation.

Hello Blank Page

Oh hello blank page.


Where did two years go? I’m sitting here looking at my blog and wondering where the last two years went since I sat down to share what I’ve been writing. It’s funny how time can slip past us without us even realizing it.


It’s not like I haven’t written anything. But between major life changing seasons, a broken website (gotta love technology,) and job changes, my writing  took a leave of absence. There are times when leaving the blank page for another time is simply necessary.


Why is it blank pages, blank canvases, are so daunting? Why are they so terrifying? So paralyzing?


I’ve thought about giving up on my blog. Life gets busy when your kids become teens and then you go through seasons and wonder how much you should or even can share.


And are blogs even a thing anymore?


I’ve struggled over the past couple of years to make time for my creativity. I’ve always loved to write. Then came scrapbooking & card making. Then came art. God gave me the gift of craftsmanship. I come from makers. My daddy loves to build and do woodworking. My mother used to crochet, paint, and make cards until her health declined. We also seem to have passed it down. My son loves to build. My niece loves to paint and draw.


I’m a maker. It’s not only in my blood, it’s how God created me. I love creating things. Yet it’s the thing that gets put off.


And when do you call yourself a writer or an artist or a maker? Is there some line you have to cross to be considered these things? Why is it when it comes to creativity we don’t think we can call ourselves by those titles? I don’t have a problem calling myself what my job title says I am. Why is it when it comes to the creative fields we can feel like such imposters?


Over the past couple of years, I don’t get near enough creative time. I look at the blank page and words don’t come. I prep the canvas or pull out the art paper and I find myself frozen in front of the blank canvas. I still find time to make cards but don’t scrapbook or paint near as much I want to.  Really, when it comes down to it, I’m overthinking it.


But I remembered something while talking to my sister-in-law not too long ago. She’s also an artist but has felt stuck like me. Our conversation brought to my mind the age old truth about creativity. Creativity breeds creativity.
You have to be intentional. You have to sit your rear end down and show up at the blank page or at the blank canvas and just start. It can be gibberish or random strokes that may mean nothing. Just be intentional. Show up. Do the work. Don’t worry about the outcome.


Fall is in the air which is helping my mindset tremendously. Even though the world is still upside down, and not in the upside down Jesus kind of way, I’m sensing a shift in my spirit. I need to put my fingers to the keyboard and canvas and paper. I’m not whole if I don’t. So here’s to showing up at the page and canvas at least for a few minutes on the daily. A few words or a few strokes or a few pieces of paper cut. Not caring if it’s not perfect. Not caring what others think of it. Being at peace with everything being a work in progress. Here’s to making and writing and remembering I was created to be a maker.

Perspective

Over the past few years God has given me a passion and joy in learning about personalities and the different personality frameworks. I’ve personally experienced how learning more about your own personality and the spiritual gifts God created you with can make a huge difference in our lives. 


Over 8 years ago, I attended a personality and spiritual gifts assessment class at our church. I began serving on a team, and while I liked the team, it just didn’t feel like the best fit for me, but I wasn’t really sure which team would be. 


My small group leader was on staff and knew what my results from that class were. Several months after that class she asked me if I wanted to join a new team they were forming. She knew it would fit one of my top giftings perfectly. 


She called out that gift and it changed my life. If she had not called that gift out, I would not have had my previous job or the job I have now. I served on that team until just recently. Now it’s eight years later. 


“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your work; my soul knows it very well.” – Psalm 139:13-14


Maybe you were told this scripture truth growing up? Or maybe you have only ever heard what a screw up you were? Do our “souls know it very well” how God created us? I remember hearing this in church growing up, but then I always felt like the next question should be “okay, now what?” And that’s where I think personality, gifts, and purpose come in?  It has truly shifted my perspective in so many ways.


How do we learn more about how God created our personalities? How do we discover the spiritual gifts He has graced us with? How do those work together? And how do they point us toward our purpose? In learning these things I believe we come to know as one version says “full well” that we were fearfully and wonderfully made. 


I think it’s the enemy’s mission to keep our souls from knowing it very well. It’s never easy, but it’s worth it. I believe when we learn deep in our soul how God created us, with what gifts He’s given us, and how He wants us to use those for our purpose, that God dances over us with joy. 


That’s what I hope to explore more of here on the blog. With maybe a few other things I’m interested in scattered about. (I’ve never really had a niche for my blog. I’m interested in too many things, have too many hobbies. Plus I love to learn.) At least this is what I’m hoping to do. 


And I know it’s become the trendy thing. Especially the Enneagram. Which is one of the two personality frameworks I have studied about the most. You can’t scroll through Facebook without seeing another “What (fill in the blank) are you?” We all want to learn more about ourselves, but do we really want to do the work? 


I’ve never been one to follow the trends, though. I truly have found so much value and purpose in not only learning more about how God created me, but also helping others learn about their personalities and gifts. 


It’s the trendiness that gives me pause. My biggest pet peeve & frustration with the trendiness of it all?   We can read about personalities and learn about personalities, but unless we become intentional about noticing our patterns and allow the Holy Spirit to use what we’ve learned, all the knowledge won’t help us. Learning about our personality makes our excuses null and void. Our personality is not a crutch for our character.

Our personality is not a crutch for our character.


I’ve discovered I have more compassion and grace for others when I stop and set my mind with the perspective they see things from. Studying about the different ways God has created people’s personalities is teaching me the ability to step outside of the frustrations their behavior can cause me which in turn lowers my stress level (at least most days.) It helps me to understand they aren’t behaving the way they behave just to make my life more difficult. 


Keeping my thoughts in this mindset isn’t always easy, but stopping my thoughts from veering off into frustration. Instead, if I think in terms of personality I’m able to keep an eternal perspective.


And we cannot do it on our own in our own power. Only through Christ, God’s grace, and the Holy Spirit can it make a difference. We have to get out of the Holy Spirit’s way and it’s a constant work in progress. But if we allow it, we will see glimpses of how God sees us through Christ and how we will be when we are fully redeemed. 


Being in a healthy place spiritually with your personality plus discovering your spiritual giftings and combining that with your passions can lead you to your purpose. 


Your passions may change as you go through different seasons of life. Your giftings may grow stronger or some may not be used as much. But in every season I believe the purpose to which you are called for that season will always fit your gifts and personality. 


So here’s to learning more about ourselves and how God created us and using that to discover our purpose and in the process bring our ultimate purpose to light which is to glorify Him.