When Your Mountain Won’t Move

photo by ron-manke- Unsplash

If you have been struggling to hear God, to know where He wants to you go, what He wants you to do, and you have been praying, seeking, and patiently waiting, then maybe there is something wrong.

If you are standing at the foot of a mountain, but in spite of your trust and faith in God’s power to move it on your behalf, it remains in your path. Then there may be something else in the way of your prayers and the answers you desire.

I was hurt by a friend recently. She doesn’t know she hurt me, but she did. And I’ve struggled with it for months now. I knew it was unintentional and deemed it unworthy of the instructions outlined in Matthew 18:15-17 for confronting an offending brother or sister.

I had forgiven this individual and felt free from the anger I had previously felt in my heart. But then something would happen and the anger returned. She hurt another friend of mine. Little things here and there reminded me of her offenses and my list of grievances grew and grew.

Banishing Anxiety From Your Heart

Getting to the Root of It

You lay in bed, trying to sleep, but you can’t. The minutes fly by and soon the hours, but you can’t stop thinking– your brain is going a million miles a minute playing out scenarios, ideas, replaying past events, wondering where you went wrong. You ask why this is happening to you and what you will do about it. You see no answers or easy path forward. You are dealing with anxiety.

Photo by Joe Gardner on Unsplash

Anxiety is worry, impatience, restlessness, unease, or eagerness to see things happen— and if left unchecked can have disastrous effects on our health, relationships, even our faith!

To root out this issue, we have to dig deep.

Most of us believe anxiety is driven by our circumstances – financial instability, conflict in relationships, uncertainty about the future, feeling a loss of control, etc…but those are just circumstances. They are still part of the surface. What is the root problem when I am experiencing the financial instability, a broken relationship, or uncertainty about the future?

Wisdom Brief

Forgotten Benefits of Correction

Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

“You are coding your clients’ time incorrectly.”

“There is a better way to address this problem with your toddler.”

“This expense is not allowed…”

“You are manipulating your husband…”

“The word you are using does not mean what you think it means.”

“Reconnecting with this person is a bad idea.”

“Be careful about how you approach this topic with your teenager.”

 

Most of us do not enjoy correction. I will be the first to admit, I personally struggle the moment I realize that someone is correcting me in some way. Why? It’s probably that I am an adult, but when someone tells me that I am doing something wrong, or simply extends a caution, it makes me feel like a child. I begin to feel inadequate or incapable and I immediately become defensive.

Do you feel that way too?

 

What I often fail to remember is that correction, most of the time, is for my benefit. It is to set me on the right course, to help me get the results I want, or what others in authority expect from me.

But my attitude and pride often get in the way. Or maybe I do not like or respect the person who is correcting me.

 

That’s foolishness of course.

 

Proverbs 12:1 (NIV) states, “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid.”

Yikes! That’s strong wording…he who hates correction is stupid??

 

If we appreciate knowledge and understanding, we must also appreciate correction.

 

Correction (or a rebuke, warning, chastening, instruction, or even discipline) leads to knowledge.

 

And if we love (value or appreciate) knowledge, we must learn to love correction.

 

Otherwise, we become brutish, (wasteful, consuming, foolish,) like unthinking, unreasoning animals.

 

Scripture tells us that it is outright stupid to hate correction because it benefits us with valuable knowledge.

It also gives us understanding(Prov 15:32)

And honor, instead of shame. (Prov 13:18)

Furthermore, it is rewarded(Prov 13:13)

And shows others the way to life(Prov 10:17)

 

It’s stupid of us to hate correction. If we can get past our initial response, the tendency to defend or dismiss, and recognize the valuable knowledge that we gain from correction, along with understanding and honor, we can expect greater rewards and show others the path to life.

Let’s stop being so stupid!

 

 

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Who Should YOU Listen To?

Qualities of a Great Advisor

Laslett John Pott [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Laslett John Pott [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

We all need advice from time to time. We need people in our lives that can speak into dilemmas or challenges we must confront to give us insight, a different perspective, or direction. Proverbs talks a lot about the importance of having advisors and asserts:

 

Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisors they succeed” (Prov 19:20).

In Managing Oneself, Peter F. Drucker states that some people need advisors to force themselves to think, “then they can make decisions and act on them with speed, self-confidence, and courage (pg 20). That’s me. I often need someone who knows the right questions to ask to help me order my thoughts and priorities without necessarily trying to give me “the answer.”

But how do we know who to listen to? How do we recognize someone who we can trust to give us wise counsel?

She Wasn’t Pregnant, It Was a Gluten Reaction

This and other cringe-worthy moments...

Do you ever feel like no matter what you say, it’s going to come out wrong, or worse, not at all? Like when introducing your friend and editor of your very first book to a gathering of women at YOUR church and you forget her name in front of God and everyone?!? Nothing says “I love and appreciate you for your tireless effort of cleaning up my writing and rambling” more than, “Oh my gosh, what is your name!!!” Talk about wanting to run screaming from the room….

Even our best intentions at encouragement, comfort, or reassurance often take flight only to drop with a nearly audible thud right in front of us. Like when you’re at the funeral of say, a former pastor that you love and respect, who is grieving the loss of his wife, and say something like, “She is finally well again, at peace with loved ones…waiting for you!”

No.no.noooooooo!

Wanting LESS for 2017!!

books-everywhereWe live in a culture of more. More things. More food. More fun. We strive to get more in nearly all aspects of our lives. More education. More responsibility. More money. Even things that are beneficial drive us towards getting more of something. More muscle. More focus. More time. And the more we get, the more we want. Yet we are never satisfied... never actually content.

I walk around my home and I see too much stuff…clothes, toys, books, knickknacks. Every Saturday I clean out the fridge and dispose of leftover foods from the week that we either cannot or will not eat, yet head to the store to buy more groceries. My bi-annual trips to donate unwanted households to our local charity have become monthly in an effort to curb that choking feeling when I look around at unnecessary stuff and struggle to breathe. The more I get, the worse I feel.

Where the “Fault” Lies…

three-year-old-friendsWe were “bosom buddies.” She and I attended church together and school as well.  My mother tells stories of how we met in the crib in the nursery at church.  Every special childhood memory of mine has her somewhere involved in it.  We were the kind of friends that completed each other’s thoughts and stuck together, right, wrong, or indifferent.  Together, we attended summer camps, Awana programs, family vacations, and tried to convince complete strangers that we were actually twins, in spite of our obvious dissimilarities.  We accepted each other completely, and faithfully defended one another in adversity.

But there was one fight. A BIG one.

To Share or Not To Share

Church Basher Blogs

DearChurchFew things get me roiled quite like a good ol’ church bashing blog post by someone claiming to be a former leader, teacher, elder, or God-forbid a pastor that has become disenchanted by their church for some reason or another. This type of blog rears its ugly head every few months with the ebb and flow of trendy blog post topics. I can almost count on it. After a few months of school rants, parenting/ discipline guilt trips, Franken-mom makeovers, 10 things I should never eat / say/ do/ think, and of course the all too common “What’s lurking in your body/ refrigerator/ medicine cabinet/ waiting to kill you,” I know it will soon be time for another church basher of a blog that goes viral, sending shock waves through the virtual blogosphere.

How to Disarm / Dismiss Negative Critics in Your Life

Muppets_Statler_WaldorfMy mother worked at a miserable job for ten years. She described her boss as an arrogant, unhappy man as she was subject to humiliation and horrific verbal abuse, expected to operate then-new computers with absolutely no training, often suppressed her physical needs for breaks and lunches, and received meager wages with few benefits. She remained in a job she abhorred because of her reliance on the income for our family but deep down, a belief took root that she could neither do better nor deserved better.

We all have critics in our lives. Some critics are helpful. Some are harmful. Sometimes they are a parent, sibling, spouse or significant other. Or they could be a friend, co-worker, your in-law, or a boss. Oftentimes it is your own self. Depending on the nature of the relationship and the dynamics, the criticism can range from mildly irritating to devastating, but my prayer is that with wisdom, even if we cannot rightly end those damaging ties, we can learn how to dismiss and even disarm this critic that knowingly or unknowingly is doing such harm.

When facing our biggest critic, there are 3 things I believe we must consider:

  1. Consider the SOURCE.  Jesus taught the people to be on guard against false prophets by looking at their fruit- a good tree bears good fruit, a bad tree bears bad fruit. These were the wolves in sheep’s clothing and he warned against trusting them. With your critic, what kind of fruit do they bear? Are they known for their integrity and grace when dealing with others or are they known for being harsh, unfair, or impossible to please?                                                                                    If you see evidence (fruit) of healthy relationships, business practices, or general kindness towards their fellow man, then their criticism might be of benefit to you, even if it stings a little at first. However, if their life is filled with evidence to the contrary, it is entirely possible that their criticism is not even about you at all, but that you happen to be stuck under their tree and may unfortunately be hit with some rotten fruit.                                                                                                          Another aspect to consider with the source of criticism is their perspective and background. My 97-year-old grandmother grew up in an era where women’s roles and contributions to the family were different than today. Her experiences living through the Great Depression, WWII, and the rest of the twentieth century afford her attitudes and viewpoints that are very different than mine. Not always better, but different. Assessing the source of disparaging remarks and respecting another’s unique experiences helps us to disarm the critic that may intentionally or unintentionally do us great harm.
  2. Consider their MOTIVE. Why might this person be so critical of you? Is it out of genuine care and concern or does it possibly make them look or feel better to be so critical? Are they exercising a form of control through their criticism? Is this a deflection of their own insecurities? Are there any other motivations that could fuel the criticism whether it benefits you or themselves?                         Proverbs 20:5 states, “The purposes of a man’s heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out.” This verse implies that it is not always evident why people do the things they do or say the things they say, but a person with understanding can draw this out through observation, consideration, and possibly conversation.                                                                     Once we understand their motives, we can readily accept the criticism that is intended for our good, and dismiss the criticism that is intended for harm.
  3. Consider the TRUTH. Is what they are saying in fact, truthful, or contain elements of truth to it? In the story of Job, he spent a great deal of time listening to his friends’ assumptions about why he had lost everything and had been so afflicted. He told them in Job 12:11, “Does not the ear test words as the tongue tastes food?” He was listening to their words, testing whether there was any truth to them and he found them lacking– so he rejected their assessments. He refused to believe the lie.

We too, should not believe everything we hear,  but rather taste it, test it for the truth. If there is truth in the criticism, it is wise to consider that truth and act accordingly. If it does not represent truth, it is imperative to reject it, otherwise we buy into the lie and find ourselves imprisoned in an unhealthy job, relationship, or mindset. Lies put us in bondage, but truth sets us free.

In dealing with a critic, it is important to consider the source, their motives, and whether or not there is truth to their criticism- but without some type of framework or filter for these judgments and opinions, we may subject ourselves to years of damaging words, thoughts, and judgments. This fuels insecurity, an insatiable desire to please others, and gives rise to one of the worst critics of them all.

We will discuss that critic in a separate post, but it is even more devious and deceptive than the rest and wields a power over us that can cripple our self-worth and any hope for a brighter future. In order to understand and address that critic, it is imperative that we do a healthy appraisal of the other critics in our lives.

Until then, my prayer is that we can all better assess the criticism we receive by considering the source, the motive, and the truth and from there move forward into profiting from helpful criticism or dismissing that which could result in harm.

Challenge: Let’s try something together. The next time your critic hurls something at you, don’t blindly accept it, hold on to it, assess it, and then determine if it merits your emotion, action, or disregard.

New Podcast: The Way to Wisdom Episode 6 – Wisdom in Friendships

Discover the Wisdom of Healthy Friendships

Welcome to “The Way To Wisdom Podcast” with Tracie Dawson. A podcast dedicated finding WISDOM in the Choices We Make and the Paths We Take!

Today’s Topic – Wisdom in Friendships
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