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Fear: a form of self-absorption

Fear is self-absorption. Ouch! I’m sorry but also not sorry if that offended you. I figured this out a couple of months ago when the days leading to wedding day became fewer each day that went by. Marriage stirred many fears in me like it does in any major life change. Well, if I am honest, change in general stirs fear inside this heart of mine no matter if it’s a big change or not, but that’s besides the point.

I was fearful I would fail. I was fearful of the unknown and I was fearful that this could possibly be the biggest mistake I would ever make in my life. It had nothing to do with my soon to be husband. I was neither doubting or second guessing his character and the knowing our marriage was God-founded. Rather, it had to do with my fears of the unknown. Not knowing can do some real psyche damage to you. We can also fear the unknown because of past hurts resurfacing when said major life changes is approaching. Fears are real. Only they are real not in the physical rather they are real in the unseen areas called our thoughts. We cannot hold fear with our hands. If we could, I would say quite a number of you, like me, would trample on our fears and say “be gone with you.” Unfortunately, we do not have the luxury to trample on our fears in the physical, but what we do have is much greater. Before I get into that, let’s dive into why fear is a form of self-absorption.


What is self-absorption? Simply put, it is the preoccupation with one’s own emotions, interests, or situation. Have you met someone that’s self-absorbed? It’s all about them. Everything is about them. They like to be the center of attention. They thrive knowing all eyes are on them. The world could be falling apart around them, but their “problem” or “victory” is far more important and they are much happier making that known than taking concern for those around them.

That’s not always how self-absorption looks though. For some of us, self-absorption is silent. That’s how self-absorption tends to present itself in me. It’s quiet on the outside and rather loud internally. It’s being consumed by what’s going on in your personal life that all outside conversation and happenings presents itself as white noise. We say we are listening to those around us when in actuality we have been consumed by our own fears that we do not truly hear those around us or can engage in our surroundings. Life is meaningless because our life has been consumed by something “greater”, fear.


Let’s get this straight. Fear isn’t all bad. Fear is what saves many of us from making the wrong move. It helps us not get hurt and saves us from the headache of getting out of trouble. Fear is good in keeping us safe. On the other hand, fear is unhealthy and often times detrimental when it consumes us to the point where we are crippled internally. Common fear triggers that cripple us internally are often found to be future events, imagined events and the unknown. All three, if we are honest with ourselves, are intangible and essentially “made up.” Don’t get me wrong. I have my fair share of fears that feels very real. It can be hard to convince me otherwise, but when I am honest with myself I know that these fears are what I’ve convinced myself are real because I’ve allowed myself to become consumed by the “thought” that my fears are reality.

Why do we do that? Why do we give fear the power to control how we live? Why do we allow the unknown to cripple us? Yeah that’s right, we give it the power. We allow it to consume us. We tell fear they are in control. We say to it, they are the gods. Fear is one of those things that we’ve made ourselves to believe it’s impossible to let go of. We’ve convinced ourselves that they are more powerful than anything else. We’ve convinced ourselves of a lie. And we’ve actively been living in it.

Can I share something with you? One of the greatest disservice you can do to yourself is allow a lie to become your reality. Let that sink in for a moment. What lies have you been believing? What have you allowed to consume you and have become self-absorbed by that you cannot truly live and enjoy life? What lie have you believed that has held you back in life? I will admit, it’s hard to get out of the rut of uncertainty and the known. It’s hard to quit believing something we’ve convinced ourself is truth.

One of the greatest disservice you can do to yourself is allow a lie to become your reality.

From a biblical perspective, Jesus says to cast all our cares (aka fears) to Him. In other words give it Him. He didn’t say this to mock you. Rather, He knew that some of us would greatly struggle with fears and we would need to hand these over in order to not allow them to become our gods. We know as Christ followers we should have no other gods or idols. Being self-absorbed by our fears we are unconsciously giving it (fear) the throne of kingship and god over our life. We’ve removed Jesus as our sole devotion to something that is unknown and ultimately a lie.

How do you cast your fears and hand them over to Jesus? Practically speaking, by first admitting we’ve allowed fear to become the god of our thoughts and living. And secondly, seeking God through prayer and devotion — daily praying for complete freedom. That you may only believe God’s truth and not the lies of fear.

I don’t want to dismiss that mental health is real and fear can distort our mental wellbeing. In that regard, there are practical steps you can take that can help you shift from fear to faith coupled with seeking Jesus. A big step is asking for help. I am a full believer in seeking godly counseling. Counseling has helped me walk through many seasons of change. You’re not crazy for seeking counseling. If you’re like me, who grew up where Christianity said counseling is for the mentally crazy, please forgive the church and their false teaching. Proverbs 11: 14 states,

Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.
Side note:There are a plethora of biblical references that support counseling. When you have some time, I challenge you to do some digging for yourself. 

We need counseling. Each of us do. Whether you know it or not, you currently have someone counseling you. Sadly today, our advice and counseling have been from scrolling through our phones and staring at a television screen. Counseling is important. Who’s counseling is even more important. By seeking counseling doesn’t translate to you being demon possessed or evil. Counseling means you are human. And in our humanity, we need godly counsel.

If you’ve allowed yourself to become self-absorbed by fear, I challenge you to seek Jesus and seek counseling. There’s freedom and liberation in living fearless. You choose to give power to fear or trampling over it and saying to fear, no more. I am rooting for you friend. You can do it. All it takes is you making the first step. Living outside of the lie is difficult, but every step you take becomes increasingly easier as you actively choose truth. Don’t believe me? Try for yourself.

What fear have you believed to be truth? How has this held you back? What are you going to give Jesus today and exchange for freedom?

Psalm 91
1 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.[a]
2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”

3 Surely he will save you
from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
5 You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
7 A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
8 You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.

9 If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

14 “Because he[b] loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”
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Restore

There are things we’ve learned to live with. There are things we’ve passed as normal. There are things that were once rare and now a commonality. We’ve made them apart of the mundane day to day living. We’ve passed these things as “just the way things are.” I’m not referring to things we cannot change. Rather things we have complete control over. We’ve become comfortable with the way of life that we are too afraid to restore what we’ve learned to live without. While there are many things we can talk about here, the three areas in life I’ve seen many become comfortable in is the lack of peace, lack of joy and lack of love.


Peace has been replaced with anxiety and fear. We’re consumed by the worlds unknowns, stressors and triggers that we live day by day without peace of heart and mind. Think back for a second. Can you remember the first time you lost peace? Can you remember the moment in life when peace was replaced with anxiety and fear? How is it that an instant in life shifted your entire posture? Granted, there are things we go through in life that stirs us. It makes us question the goodness of God. It could be a loss of a loved one or opportunity. It could be a near death experience. It could be someone violated you or your family that the anxiety and fear of history repeating itself haunts you each day. Peace is hard to restore once lost. It’s hard to regain when life scars us and ruins what once was. But can I share something with you? It sure isn’t impossible to restore.

Peace that passes all understanding is what most of us crave. If you’re honest with yourself, you’d probably say that while the hardship you went through cannot be reversed or erased, you do want to live anxiety and fear free. Maybe you’ve even attempted to restore peace but failed only for anxiety and fear to show its ugly face and intensify it’s terror even more. While I don’t claim to have all the answers, what I do know is that there is a source for peace. Just as you’d go to your local supermarket for food, there is a source for peace. You’ll find out later in this blog though. Keep on reading.


Joy and peace somewhat go hand in hand with each other. Without peace, you probably do not have joy. If you have joy, it’s probably very little. When we don’t have joy we live in misery and despair. Life is oftentimes meaningless. Many times, when we lack joy we are forced into depression or depressive episodes. Like peace, something triggered you into defeat. You’ve given up on your dreams, your goals, and maybe even so on life. Something happened to you or your family, that all hope is lost. There is neither triumph or victory, rather defeat and sadness. Someone did you wrong, and maybe that someone you are blaming or pointing fingers at is yourself. Maybe the person you are pointing fingers at is, God.

It’s hard to have joy when life did you wrong. We’ve dwelled on the wrong done to us that to find joy in the little things is quite a task. It’s hard to find good in each day because we’ve made the misfortune in life become our god. We worship the loss, the wrong done, and the pain and hurt we faced. The past repeats itself daily in our hearts and minds. We cannot shake it no matter how much we try. Pain has ruled your being. An emotion rules you rather than you having control over it. And we’ve become quite okay with that.


Lack of peace and joy often times makes it difficult for us to love others and love ourselves. Many times though, we dare not love because what presented itself as love has ruined us. We love not, because what was meant to be an example of love has scarred and ruined something meant to be wholesome and beautiful. In turn, we live life lacking peace and joy because love is nonexistent within us. We hate, speak in rage and walk in defeat. Love often times presents itself in hopeful speech and living. Love looks a-lot like faith, assurance and confidence. Love, is powerful when existing. When removed it is likewise powerful as it shakes the very core of who we are.

We all crave love. We all desire to know we are loved. We all desire the warmth of love. When we lose love or the concept of love is distorted, it damages how we love those around us. It damages the way we view life. Many times the reason why we lack peace and joy is because love is absent. It’s because we know not how to love and are consumed by anger and hurt. I’d say the best way to restore joy and peace, is to first tackle the restoration of love.


Restoring love. It’s not as easy as someone telling you they love you and all is fixed. It’s not as easy as telling yourself you are loved and all peace and joy is restored. Restoring love is more than action or word. It’s knitting together peaces of your heart making what was once broken, whole. Restoring love is not having the broken parts of your life glued back together, rather it is a healing of the heart where those broken pieces find life and restore it’s position and function in the heart. How do you go about that? How do you restore what you’ve learned to live without? Go to the source.

If you are a Christ follower, you know that the source for healing and restoration is our creator, God. If someone is the creator then naturally, they will be able to restore what’s broken or reestablish what’s gone missing. God is exactly that. He restores, heals, reestablishes and can even refurbish. There’s nothing too big or too small for Him. When all love, joy and peace is gone, He’s your stability. The issue is we refuse to seek the restoring. We’ve become comfortable in our filth that we’d rather live day to day in complaining in misery, downing in doubt and fear and living in hate and anger.

Don’t get me wrong. I am by no means trying to appear callused. I understand there are difficult things to walk through in life, but the matter of the fact is we choose whether to dwell on the past and lose an eye or fix our eyes on Jesus. Dwelling on the past produces an impaired vision. Fixing our eyes on Jesus shapes perspective and character. Bad things happen because we live in a world where people choose to do evil things. The good news is that God, our creator, can make good out of evil.

For what it’s worth, I suggest, give God a try. If you blame Him for your lack of joy, peace and love, take it to Him. Let him know how angry you are. That is perfectly okay. And then wait on Him to respond. He will. Whatever hurt you have held on to that has you okay with living without joy, peace and love, it’s time to say no more. It’s time to restore what you’ve learned to live without. And the source for restoration is, Jesus. Don’t believe me, see for yourself.

Have you learned to live without peace, joy and love? Do you want these restored? How are you going to seek the source today?

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Bleeding pain.

Have you ever hurt yourself before? Maybe you fell and wounded you knees. It may have been someone else that hurt you. A car accident, accident on the play ground or just a fluke thing. Think back on a moment where you physically got hurt. When we get hurt, our immediate response is to fix what is damaged or broken. You break your arm, you get it checked out and placed in a cast in order to not have lasting effects of an unmovable and incapable arm. A part of your body gets cut open, you apply pressure to the wound and get stitches in order to avoid bleeding out and infection. When we are physically hurt, we know the importance of healing and healing properly. When we are hurt emotionally though, we lack the courage and strength to address these types of hurt. A lot of the times it’s not because we don’t know how to gain healing, rather healing emotional pain can be the most painful. I’ve learned that if we don’t heal what hurt us, we will bleed on people who didn’t do the hurting. And eventually, we will remain wounded and crippled.


I can be very stubborn. Especially when it comes to healing. So much so I’d rather keep going injured than taking the time needed to heal. A couple years ago, I sprained my LCL. My knee was swollen and puffed up like a water balloon. Walking was excruciatingly painful and bending my knee was simply not an option. I was told to ice, rest and elevate my injured knee. Most importantly, to take caution in order to prevent re-injury to the ligament during it’s healing.

The doctors order translated to me as, weakness and control. Surly all his orders were not necessary. Today I live to tell the story that they were indeed necessary because had I listened, I would not have the difficulty I face when running long distances or being on my feet for long extended periods of time. My rejection to healing has caused re-injury and pain bleeding into other parts of my leg because of that knee injury. Stubbornness doesn’t pay much other than being a learning lesson to everyone else.

Many of us are bleeding our pain unto others because we’ve failed to seek healing. Our hearts have been punctured by someone that we then walk around bleeding our pain on those who never hurt us. Failure to address and seek healing in emotional pain, only leaves you crippled, injured and more prone to re-injury. A lot of times the reason we hurt so easily is because we’ve been carrying childhood hurt. Carrying childhood hurt has made us wounded adults, bleeding on people. And those same people we are bleeding on, we unfortunately place the pressure on them to clean up the mess we’ve made from bleeding our hurt everywhere. It’s a rippling effect.

Any type of healing can be extremely painful. I’ve experienced the uncomfortableness of physical healing when a cyst was removed from my lower back and the only way to heal properly was to leave a hole in my back and have a nurse dress the wound (that is to clean and apply salt and water to the wound) daily for 3 months or until my the wound no longer remained a wound. The healing process made me sick to my stomach. Let me tell you. Having someone clean a fresh wound daily is no joke. Then to add salt and water to the wound didn’t make it any easier. It felt as if they were scratching my flesh and burning it. Even typing this up is making me sick. The healing was uncomfortable and painful. Had a nurse not cleaned and dressed my wound daily, the wound would have become infected and that infection could have bled into other areas surrounding it.

You see, healing is not simply a means to make something as if it never happened. I have a scar on my lower back that reminds me of two things:

  1. A cyst that crippled my lifestyle for almost a year.
  2. Healing and God’s faithfulness.

The latter of the two is most important. Just because my body has healed, it doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten that experience or the pain that went with it. Healing does however, allow us to live freely and in strength. No longer do we walk hunched over in pain, but we can walk confidently and boldly. We are not prone to re-injury when healed, rather when a similar pain comes around, we have the right tools to help us address the hurt, “dress” the hurt and gain healing.


If you find yourself bleeding your hurt on someone that didn’t hurt you, it’s time to apply pressure to the wound for the bleeding to stop and then dress the wound with salt and water. While I wish we can do this with emotional hurt, what we can do is apply pressure to the wound by unpacking the hurt you’ve been carrying around. Like a cup filled with infirmity, we need to empty out every feeling you’ve ever held towards whatever it is that hurt you. Lay it all out in the open. Cry and scream at the top of your lungs if need be. Once you’ve gotten rid of all the infection, you can then start dressing the wound with salt and water of God’s word. Whether you believe Jesus is real or not, try it for yourself. Find scripture verses about hurt and pain and read those daily. Alongside that, you may need to ask someone for forgiveness, ask yourself for forgiveness and clean areas in your life that you’ve allowed yourself to bleed on. Like physical healing, this doesn’t just happen in one day. This requires daily practice. It may take quite some time to fully heal, but once you’ve healed, then that’s when you can live out your healing.

Many of us are walking around bleeding our pain on others. We fail to address the wounds we have and have been living for years a crippled life. Our attitude is crippled, our language is crippled and the way we look at life has been crippled. Failure to heal opens the doors for re-injury and immobility of areas in our lives we’ve neglected. I want to challenge you to seek healing. It may be something from childhood, or it may be something more recent. It may be something you did to yourself that you’re ashamed of and never addressed or walked through. Don’t keep living in pain from unaddressed hurt. You may not realize it, but you are bleeding your hurt on people around you that never did the hurt. I challenge you today to address the wound, dress the wound and walk in freedom. It’s up to you!

Are you bleeding your hurt on people who never did the hurt? If so, how can you make steps towards healing today?

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Relationship

Don’t talk to me.

Continuing on the theme of relationships, let’s talk “Communication.” I can go on forever on this, but in order to not transform this blog into a book I’ll get right to the point. Communication is key in any relationship, but more so in dating/marriage relationship. As important as it is, communication may not be important to everyone and by that I mean, it was not important to me. Odd being I enjoy communicating through words.

The first year of dating, Jarrod and I had a hard time because I found it extremely difficult to communicate. A lot of that stems from my upbringing. We are the way we are based on how we were raised and the example that was before us. Don’t get me wrong, my parents did an awesome job, but no one is perfect. No marriage is perfect. That is why it is so very important that if there are things you saw growing up that were not done well, when you start a family your job is to break history’s cycle. Don’t continue bad family traits. The excuse of “that’s the way we do things” is not only selfish, but a weak excuse that stuns character development and growth.


Jarrod is the type of person that wants to immediately address the problem. I on the other hand, would much rather wait things out or forget about it entirely. It goes as far as I’d tell Jarrod, “don’t talk to me” as means to avoid the conflict entirely. Sometimes it got even wild as I’d avoid him entirely so as to not have to address the problem at hand. Jarrod always teases that for someone with such small stature, I can be a fireball. Trust, me I am not proud of that side of me. Confrontation is not my cup of tea. Not in the slightest. I just hate addressing issues. I’d much rather sulk in my hurt than address the issue and move on. With our difference in personalities in how we address problems, we bucked heads quite a bit. Naturally so. It can be the simplest most basic miscommunication, I’d much rather avoid rather than talk out what would take less than five minutes to resolve. With our unique approach in how we address miscommunication and problems, we had to work through a number of issues early on. All because one party wanted to deal with things in the moment and other didn’t.

Want to know a secret? Well, it really is no secret since we’ve told those who asked advice on communication. Here it is, we went to counseling. We finally got enough of it and went to our Pastor seeking guidance. We didn’t want to call things quit because of communication. Besides communication issues, we were doing just fine. We did however, did not want to keep bad habits throughout our relationship. The inability to communicate was not grounds to walk our separate ways. After talking to our Pastor, we decided on bi-weekly counseling sessions using the Prepare Enrich couples assessment tool. This tool was primarily used in the church for marriage counseling. We didn’t want to wait until marriage to work out issues and figure out how to communicate. Pastor thought it was a brilliant idea and so counseling was in session.

Through counseling, I found out a lot about myself. We both did. We realized, we both wanted the same thing. We wanted peace and understanding. The difficulty was we showed that to each other very differently. Jarrod’s version of peace is squashing there and now in order to not deal with a grumpy [at the time] girlfriend. My version of peace is moving on and forgetting about it. Neither approach is correct. Our intents while may seem pure to one party or the other was really stemmed from selfishness. I selfishly wanted to get over it and so did Jarrod. We expressed this differently.


The goal of communication and conflict resolution is not merely “getting over things.” It is healing a wound. Whether big or small, a wound remains a wound unless addressed to heal. Left unresolved, the wound only get’s bigger until you have an infected and poisoned heart. That’s where bitterness comes from [a discussion for another day]. Healing is found in proper communication. Through counseling we were able to develop tools that we use today and probably will continue to do so through the length of our relationship. We have not and will not always get it right, but we’ve implemented these tools time and time as issues come up. Interestingly, issues became increasing less as understanding between our different communication styles were addressed and grasped by the party.

Here’s one tip I will leave with you. If you are struggling to communicate with your significant other, figure out your different communication styles and choose to meet in the middle. I cannot instantaneously process like Jarrod can. He knows how he feels and means what he says and can confront with no issue within the moment conflict arises. My personality requires time. I need to process, formulate my thoughts and understand exactly how I feel. If rushed I will say things I will eventually regret and cannot take back. The words that come out of my mouth when hurt and angry cuts deeper than actual wounds. In order to avoid being placed in that position, we had to learn to meet in the middle. Jarrod had to understand the importance of giving time, while I had to develop a habit of condensing the processing time. It wasn’t easy at first, but the more we implemented, the better we got. If an issues comes up, I give Jarrod a reasonable time that I would be ready to talk and we would decide mutually if that was too long drawn out or reasonable. Today, I can proudly say that rather than taking hours to get over things, within a couple minutes we can resolve, heal and move forward. Bigger issues can extend to an hour or so, but for the most part, we were able to resolve. Most importantly, we were able to heal whatever hurt was present rather than simply getting over things.

I will leave you with this. While I am a huge believer of counseling for those who are struggling in their relationship, if you choose not to, here are a couple things to keep in mind:

  • It’s always better to resolve the differences you have with those that hurt or offend you.
  • Understand forgiveness is for you, not them.
  • You are not always right.
  • The goal of communication is never to prove a point, rather to hear the heart of those that are hurting.
  • Conflict resolution requires give and take.
  • Never use “name calling.”
  • Never bring up the past.
  • Give each other grace
  • Most importantly, remember to love.

Are you in conflict with a loved one or friend? How can you make things right today?