It all started with a text….

He said something normal.  You responded honestly and innocently.  He said something else.  You replied.  He didn’t respond right away.  You wait. And then hours turn into days later…still nothing. Crickets. Ghost. No return calls.  Unresponsive.  You wonder what happened.

And now the cycle of drama begins.  The “what if” thinking.  The “whys”.  The analysis, speculation and pontification, re-reading the entire thread of text messages several months back, picking your brain for clues.  Going over and over in your mind all kinds of things that could be wrong, trying to figure out what happened to make him suddenly stop communicating.  Your emotions and mind run wild with a variety of scenarios – he has someone else, he is cheating, I made him mad, and on and on…

This is just one example of many, many ways in which our imaginations and unregulated thought life gets the best of us.  It is not only the case in romantic relationships, but in just about every relationship situation and circumstances — platonic, family, work, business, ministry – everything.

Someone doesn’t like or respond to your post on Instagram or Facebook.  They didn’t like/share/support or whatever.

Someone doesn’t respond to your inbox.

Someone didn’t speak to you.

Someone didn’t invite you to their gathering.

And the list goes on. What is going on here?  How can we overcome our tendency to go down the negative path of rumination and anxiety when things like this happen?

The root cause is VAIN IMAGINATIONS.

Vain imaginations start off as “they think I’m this or that, they don’t like me, they did/said this because of this/that, she did/said/posted that because of this, he probably thinks such and such because of what happened here, she stopped texting because of that, she doesn’t call me because of this…she didn’t like/heart/share my post because of she is…” and so forth.

Vain is defined as producing no result; useless. Imagination is the faculty of forming new ideas, or images, or concepts; the part of the mind that imagines things.

Putting the two together you have images, ideas and concepts formed from the natural mind that are useless and produce no results.  I would go as far as to say that they definitely produce results, just not the kind of results you want to see in your life.

Vain imaginations consist of mind movies, assumptions, downright lies, and wild fantasies that we make up in our minds.  We can never truly know or understand other people’s reason or motives behind what they do.  In a way it is prideful to assume that you know why people take certain actions that appear on the surface to be negative or that maybe they may not “like” you.  It also speaks to a certain level of immaturity and being overly focused self and personal feelings.

The reality is as previously stated, we cannot tell or know what persons motives are unless we truly operate in the spirit of wisdom and authentic discernment or revelation.

Secondly, most people, 9 times out of 10 are very preoccupied with their own lives and have not truly paid you any significant attention.  The fact that we engage in such endless mind chatter and negativity speaks to the fact that we still have growing up to do if we take things so personal.

Engaging in vain imaginations holds us back in five main ways:

  1. We lose our peace and clarity. How many countless hours of emotional and spiritual energy have been wasted trying to figure out why someone did or did not do something that could have been spent healing and ordering our own lives and working in our purpose?  How much chaos and negative mind chatter has this created?
  2. Keeps us “in our feelings”. Negative mental chatter generates negative feelings offense. We have often heard the phrase “feelings lie.” It is true.  If the thoughts that the feelings originated from are not based in reality and truth then feelings are not rooted in the truth.
  3. Forfeit authentic Kingdom connections and relationships because of negative mind chatter and being in our feelings. Taking stuff personal against someone that God put in your life for a particular season but because you are in your feelings, you sabotage and cut it off over a vain imagination in your head over a text message or social media.
  4. Fantasies in romantic relationships. When we allow our fantasies of our new relationship to run ahead of reality, it has the same effect on our mind and emotions subconsciously as if it were real.  Where the mind goes, the body follows. We let our fantasies run wild and it has only been one date. Allow things to unfold naturally without the extra fantasies. This requires prayer and intention.
  5. Delays and Derails Your Purpose. Whenever we are caught up in faulty thinking due to vain imaginations, we cannot flow in God’s purpose because purpose requires clear thinking in the truth.

Another key nugget on mastering vain imaginations is the power that we have to choose the meanings we assign to different situations.  We get to choose how we receive what we see, our reaction, the story we tell ourselves and the meaning that we assign to the situation.

In other words, if a person suddenly pulls away, or seems to be less interested in engaging with me on a friendship level, then I have the power to choose whether or not I want to spend days re-hashing everything in my mind, getting upset and psychoanalyzing everything trying to figure it out.

I get to choose whether or not I am going to get anxious and worked up because the man I was dating suddenly stopped responding to my texts and calls.

I get to choose whether or not I am going to “feel some kind of way” every time I see their post on social media or not.

I get to choose the story, the meaning and my response.

The trick is to choose the story, the meaning and the relevant response that is most uplifting, empowering and positive both to myself and to the individual in question.

In 2 Corinthians 10:5 we read that we are to cast down every imagination that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing every thought to the obedience of Christ.  Until we can master taking ownership and controlling the story in our heads and the meaning, we will be forever at the whim of the vain imaginations that overtake our minds.

This week, I encourage you to be more observant of your thought life and the endless negative chatter.  Notice the times you suddenly feel sad or angry and you were fine before. It will surprise you when you realize the origin was a vain imagination.  Be prayerful and ask God to help you become more aware of your vain imaginations and to give you the power to cast them down.

Love,

 

TB

 

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God is not holding what happened against you. You are.

 

Greetings Beautiful People!

When we are struggling with our issues and mistakes, we tend to do one of two things: 1) hold our selves hostage over our past mess and sort of stay stuck in the same place because we don’t feel good enough; or 2) we pretend that they don’t exist and try to rationalize it away with looking good on the inside but still feeling a little jacked up on the inside.

I was reading the Bible the other day and John 3:18 in the Amplified version stuck out:

He who believes in Him [who clings to, trusts in, relies on Him] is not judged [he who trusts in Him never comes up for judgment; for him there is no rejection, no condemnation—he incurs no damnation];

No rejection.

No condemnation.

No damnation.

This has been a struggle for me quite honestly.  I’m guessing I am not the only one, but I have a deep-rooted desire to do what is right and to live right.  When I fall short of what I know to be right…here comes the thoughts:

“You shouldn’t have said that….you should did this….you know you were supposed to…”

And the list goes on.

Condemnation: the expression of very strong disapproval; censure; criticism; reproof; denunciation; vilification; to express an unfavorable or adverse judgment on; to pronounce to be guilty; sentence to punishment.

Self-condemnation is the blaming of oneself.  Let’s look at some signs that you may be caught up in subtle and tricky self-condemnation:

  • Feelings of guilt all the time
  • Feeling like you might not even be saved
  • Confessing and confessing, Praying and asking for forgiveness for the same thing over and over but still feeling guilt and torment.
  • Being too hard on self
  • Lots of self-effort trying to look good, say the right thing, do the right thing, look good on social media, flossing & fronting to appear put together.
  • Stewing & brewing over what you did wrong in a situation for an exorbitant amount of time.
  • Acutely aware of all of the ways you fall short
  • Always being reminded of where you have not yet “arrived”
  • Every area in your life where you feel unqualified and not good enough to serve God (because of your past or current situation) is amplified and magnified.
  • Social media can exacerbate this with the spirit of comparison and competition
  • Feelings of depression, oppression and shame
  • Living under a cloud of regret and blaming self.
  • Feeling inferiority, inadequate, not enough, and unworthy
  • Feeling like God doesn’t love you.
  • Feeling like nobody wants you, no one really cares/is thinking of you, and no one will love you and so forth

Probing Questions to prayerfully ponder as you look at your life:

  1. How can anyone walk in purpose, have healthy relationships, and live a truly productive, authentic life for God condemning themselves?
  2. Do you think Christ died on the cross for us to walk around believing and living like this? Is this the abundant life that we are to live?
  3. Does it make logical sense that God takes pleasure out of you feeling guilty all of the time?
  4. How much use are you to the Kingdom of God, your family, the people who are in need of your voice, your gift if you are bound up feeling guilty and condemned?

And the last question….

Who or what is the only entity that would love for you to stay in a state of perpetual low level guilt, shame and condemnation all of the time? (Take a wild guess.)

The old snaggle-tooth devil.

Yep. It’s time to break FREE!  God is not holding what happened against you. You are. How? By believing snaggle-tooth’s lies and entertaining these thoughts and feelings.  God is not the one causing this and it is not holy or godly to beat yourself up.  It is actually quite contrary to His grace.

Overwhelming shame, guilt and condemnation comes from the Enemy of Your Soul:

  • Revelation 12:10 – He is an accuser.
  • 1 Peter 5:8 – He roams about seeking whom he may devour.
  • John 8:44 – He is the father of lies.

If you are struggling with feeling guilty and condemned all the time here are five quick keys to remember and apply when those lies, the thoughts and the feelings start coming.

  1. Become of aware of what is going on. When those thoughts and feelings show up about something you have already genuinely repented and let go of and you know you are forgiven, shut it down immediately. Stand on the Word. In Romans 8:1 we read that there is NO condemnation for those who are in Christ, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit.
  2. Know the difference between true conviction and devilish condemnation. When God convicts, you feel the disappointment, something is off in your spirit and He works in your heart to nudge you to repent. God does not bring the guilt, the shame, depression, obsessive thoughts, torment, and unworthiness.  All of that is coming from the enemy.  It is a lying spirit in diabolical opposition to the spirit of grace, love and forgiveness. It is very subtle and very deadly to your purpose and position in God.
  3. Know that you are a new creature and accepted in the beloved. Get rooted, grounded fixed and founded in the Love of God for yourself. You are accepted in the beloved according to Eph. 1:6. Build yourself up with scriptures, prayer and other books to build and edify your self-image, esteem and worthiness. The lower your self-esteem and sense of personal worthiness the more prone and predisposed you will be to feeling guilty and condemned for every mistake. Remember that you are new in Christ.  This means letting go of what you did in the past when you were ignorant, unaware, hard-headed and doing what you wanted to do.  To walk in God’s purpose, you must let go of what you did wrong.  God did.  Remember, He is not holding it against you.  He says in Hebrews 10:17 that He remembers your sins no more.  How come you keep holding on to what you did in 2012?
  4. Acknowledge that you are imperfect and will still make mistakes. As long as you are a human being living on this earth you will make mistakes.  You are still growing, healing, learning and developing.  As we continue to grow, we will slip up. Psalm 37:22-24 states that the steps of a good man (or good woman) are ordered by the Lord and He delights in his way…though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down for the Lord upholds him…The issue is not whether or not you will fall, because at some point you will.  The issue is whether or not you will allow the Lord to uphold you or will you allow the lies of the enemy to keep you bogged down in guilt and condemnation.
  5. Keep a short, clean slate with God. When you do feel convicted or get that little sense that you said/did something against what you know is right, it is best to immediately and quickly ask for forgiveness. If it sits too long and you try to gloss over it, sweep it under the rug, pretend it is okay, justify/rationalize, the initial conviction can turn into condemnation, which is a steep price to pay for unresolved or un-confessed sin.

For me the biggest revelation on condemnation is this:  As long as I am living under condemnation, it is more difficult to heal the issues of my heart and receive grace.  Why?  Because condemnation, judgment and criticism from others and from myself creates the fear of being rejected, left alone and ashamed.

When condemnation is removed out of the picture, I can receive correction, healing and conviction from God while knowing that I am still loved and okay.  I can receive correction and wisdom from those qualified to speak into my life and who have my best interests at heart without fear of rejection and being condemned, judged or talked about.

This is why so many of us stay underdeveloped and immature.  We are emotionally weak because of the guilt and condemnation.  Then the minute someone says something in love to correct or help us, we feel so condemned and rejected.  We never grow past it, isolate from the very ones God sent to take us to the next level and then wonder why we can’t move forward.

This is what makes being delivered from condemnation in any form or fashion so profound.  It enables the full operation of grace to manifest in our lives in the deepest way possible.

I encourage you today to look deeply and begin to become aware of the subtle signs that the cloud of condemnation may be hanging over your life. Become aware of that endless, negative, accusatory mind chatter that forever reminds you every day of every shortcoming.  Ask for healing and revelation.

And the next time you find yourself asking God forgiveness for something again….remember – God forgave you the first time you asked.  Let it go.

Until next time,

Tonika Maria

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just because you are functional, does not mean you are fine.

I attended a lovely women’s fellowship this past weekend.  It was a close, intimate gathering of women from all walks of life from the younger generation to senior women.

One thing that stood out to me – the common thread — the common theme uniting every woman in attendance that Saturday morning was this:

That behind every smile and every persona was pain.

Regardless of how she appeared to be when I first saw her sitting there…

Regardless of how she appeared to be when I saw her standing, talking, smiling walking around…

Regardless of her presentation there was some level of emotional pain or a hidden burden that she was carrying.

She could be your sister, your mother, your aunt, your grandmother, your cousin, your friend.

She could be and is very well likely – you.

The reality is that regardless of someone’s social media profile and pictures, you really don’t know what they are carrying.  You don’t know the pain behind that smile.  You don’t know what it cost them to smile for that picture.

And on the flip side of that, you don’t know the power and the strength that someone carries either.

None of this can be discerned by mere outward appearances.

This weekend just reinforced for me the following:

  1. When one woman opens up, is willing to be vulnerable and share her raw truth it opens the door and creates a safe space for other women to share. When that door is opened, the other women feel safe. Sadly, many go months and years without saying anything to anybody. Especially our senior women who have carried burdens for years.
  2. When women (or men for that matter) go too long carrying unprocessed pain and not speaking truth they become functionally dysfunctional.

In other words, as long as they are functioning they think they are fine.  However, when something big happens to rock their world or when they are exposed to another woman’s pain, all of a sudden their pain comes rising to the surface.

We default to a state of quiet pain, often because we feel like we have no choice.  We must survive and keep going.  We can’t afford to fall apart.  Our children and others are depending upon us to show up. Sometimes we are unaware of what is really going on inside of us and choose to live on the surface of our lives. We keep a certain wall or mask up because the pain is so deep and we do not want to touch it or expose it.

Toure’ Roberts, in his book Wholeness describes this as being in a state of “functional dysfunction”:

“What makes our brokenness even harder to detect is that we have learned to function with dysfunction.  It’s like using a crutch for a broken foot; as long as you have the crutch, you can still get around.  That doesn’t mean your foot is any less broken, but you might convince yourself that it’s fine because, hey, you’re still getting from one place to another, right? But the more functional we are with our dysfunction, the greater our self-deception. Why? Because we equate being functional with being fine.  That may work for a while, but not forever.  One day, the painful truth that all is not well will bring everything to a screeching halt…”

Just because you are functional with your broken heart, your wounds, the painful relationship situation, the desire of your heart that still has not yet manifested, the mother/father hurts or pains, previous abuse, abandonment, betrayal, or infidelity…just because you can smile, work, laugh, serve, show up and look good at it — doesn’t mean that you are whole.

For us to heal and become whole from the various things that happen in our lives requires that we do one foundational thing first:

Speak your truth. Tell it. Raw. Honest. Ugly. The Real.

It is the truth that sets us free.

Truth and honesty with one’s self about the pain and the burden is the key to personal wholeness.  Wholeness and integrity go hand in hand.  Integrity is taken from the word “INTEGER” which means a whole number – not a fraction or decimal.  To be whole means to first be integrous from the within and it all starts with self-awareness.

Self-awareness starts with having the courage and honesty to face the pain instead of repressing or avoiding it.  It begins with saying no to the lesser things (running and rushing about, partying, sexing, churching, busy work, drugs, alcohol) and saying yes to yourself and God.  It begins with letting go over spiritualizing, denying or minimizing the pain (“I’m so over him/it/the thing, “I’m fine”, I’m healed already”).

When we choose to live in denial, it is similar to sweeping the dirt under the rug.  I heard Minister Sam Blakes say one time – “What’s swept under the rug, is still in the house.”  We can sweep and hide our pain under our so-called rugs of being busy, staying all caught up, addictions and mindless activities, but it is still sitting right there in the house of our souls.

We cannot cure what we keep covered.  And a tiny little spiritual band-aid of a few prayers here and there won’t do it either.  As in the natural, so in the spiritual. Wounds must be exposed to heal correctly.

Self-Compassion is the key.  Allowing yourself feel difficult feelings so that you can heal right is crucial.  It is not compassionate to yourself to try not to cry when you know you need to cry; to be hard; to keep your guard up; to always be in control so that you are not vulnerable.

Instead of making you open to God’s love, the love of others and healing, lack of self-compassion and acknowledging your humanity only makes you hard-hearted.  Hard hearts cannot receive love.

Feeling your feelings but not staying stuck in them or making decisions from is the most compassionate, wise and loving thing that you can do for yourself.

And when you are healthy and whole, then everything else in your life tends to flow better.

I encourage you this week to become more aware of what is going on inside of you without pushing it away or distracting yourself.  Make a commitment to self-compassion.

Let’s walk wholehearted, healthy and free. No more functional dysfunction!

Love,

 

Tonika