Healing a broken heart

A season of brokenness and a broken heart is not a thing to be despised or intentionally look to avoid. It is rather a moment in time when God can draw close to us and us to Him to build strength and healing into our lives. The Bible shares the reality that “God is close to the broken hearted and those who are crushed in spirit” Psalm 34:18. I remember when my heart was first broken in my early twenties when my boyfriend of five years wrote me a “Dr John” letter to finish our relationship; I was devastated. My response at the time was one of extreme loss of my future dreams and hopes the result being I turned to alcohol as my comforter rather than God. I decided to go on a a journey to prove that I was good enough and attractive. A recipe for disaster. A broken heart can lead to destruction or a life fully lived.

If God doesn’t despise our brokenness then why should we? It is only societies that would say not to put your pain on display and pretend everything is ok. God however wants to use our broken seasons and there are many we will travel through. Jesus warned us of this in the when he was alive on earth “In this world you will have trouble but take heart for I have overcome the world” John 16:33. Jesus was known as a man of sorrows he put his brokenness on display before going to the cross to die for us all by weeping blood and tears about what was ahead; being separated from God his father and carrying the evil ways and thoughts of humans in his own body. The weight, pain and brokenness he must have felt. Amazingly that he overcame all of that as a human with his life laid down trusting God that all of that brokenness would pass and joy would return.

With Jesus overcoming it brings us hope that when our lives are rooted in Him we can follow His way, the way of the cross. To put all of our own brokenness and pain at the foot of the cross and leave it there. You see our faith really does make us well that is the difference between saying we have faith and walking by faith in Christ. We either give it lip service or it brings healing to our minds and bodies which the world cannot do.

One of the key things with a season of brokenness is make sure we don’t make it our home. It is good to be humble before God but brokenness of heart is something different. When our hearts are broken we will struggle to function whereas humility is acknowledging I do life on Gods terms and through His ways. When we are broken hearted we have to watch disappointment doesn’t lead to long term depression. I wish I had known some people at the time of my own broken heart who would have come around me to encourage me and speak life to be rather than the alcohol voice of no self -worth and a hopeless case that set in to be my best friend. I didn’t know at the time that I could bring all my emotions and reactions under God and be at peace with what he was working through in my life to get me to where he needed to be. With God there is always a way through broken heartedness and a letting go of our ways allows for the flow of healing and restoration. Sadly, we often fight this process.

“Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.”

 Psalm 50:15

There is a power in our broken place that I didn’t discover until much later. It is the power of the journey of displaced living to discover yourself and God. Your real self I mean. Many a time we place ourselves in relationships to people, places, organisations and so on to feel like we matter and have an identity. When all the time God is trying to get our attention saying “I am over here; come and follow me” just like when Jesus called His first followers to leave their business and spend time with Him promising to show them a different way. Eventually God in His lovingness sent some people to me to draw my attention to the brokenness that I was loudly exhibiting for general display. Part of my healing from that time to realise that not all was lost. I realised I had a future and I started to pray Psalm 51 every day “Create in me a clean heart and do not take your Holy Spirit away from me.” God knows His own voice and words, He responds to that level of faith. As I began my relationship with God my real identity emerged from the place of a broken spirit and a broken and yielded heart toward God; my only hope. Hope springs up from the broken places if we can turn our gaze off the troubles to Gods voice and heart toward us. A voice of love and compassion.

When we turn our life plan from building our own empire and success to more God shaped ways such as drawing alongside others like the good Samaritan in the Bible we will find that the healing of our hearts comes through reaching out to touch people’s lives with the goodness of God that has touched ours. We begin to feel again. Feeling of compassion and empathy as we notice the brokenness of others. When we have travelled through we can see it in the eyes and voices those around us. The power of our broken heart journey is that we know the path out of that place. We know how to help others engage in the restoration process. Noticing that God has built some endurance and strength into our minds and bodies as He has rebuilt and rebooted us out of the dark place that once looked like it was about to destroy us; that power comes from the journey of deep pain.

Looking back it was my ability to surrender that broken heart to God and not keep carrying it around like a broken record. That is what lifted me to a place of power my surrender to God and His ways. It was only as I looked at the why and what happened that I realised there were deeper layers to myself and areas of vulnerability in myself to be aware of as I journey through this life. What I really learned was this. My life laid down and hidden in Christ is the safest place to be. It’s not that I am in denial of the pain, suffering and sadness that goes with a broken heart it is more that I am not alone in all of that, Jesus is right there with me and I get to follow him by doing what he did. Saying a prayer which He said just prior to His death “Father your will not mine be done.” It’s a great surrender prayer to pray. Once we have let go God can step in and start moving things on our behalf to let His glory be seen.

Expert taken from “Mending the Broken hearted” taken from an anthology which I was able to write two chapters for last year. If you would like to read more please click here.

The strength of Love

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Someone said those few words “look after yourself” and those few words have had me thinking for a few weeks about how we do that and the why we need to do it. I have discovered that when we look after ourselves we are then able to give love to others.

Love comes in many shapes and expressions. It is really up to us how much we access the ability to love from inside our hearts to then propel outward toward others. I think like many other things in life to flow in the ability to love is a choice we daily make. Some days we may have to choose to love ourselves first so that we can then love others.

Loving ourselves requires intentional awareness that the need is there to refuel or as the popular phrase reveals “have some me time.” This can be extremely difficult when under a lot of pressure and have a busy life. It will be the last thing you want or feel like doing but without the “me time” we will spiral and be no good for anything or anyone. It may not be appropriate to book a luxury spa or holiday or even hang out partying with friends in fact those things can produce guilt if you are. I find going for a walk alone down the street for thirty minutes can be amazing or finding a quite space and sit and read a book for ten minutes. I always carry a book with me for that reason.

I remember when my friend was very ill and dying in hospital many years ago at the time I was still in the party scene and thought I would let off steam by going out with a bunch of friends. It was the last thing I needed to be doing. I only ended up feeling ashamed and full of guilt. That wasn’t flowing in the ability to love either myself or anyone else. I learned a lesson that day of what was needed and what wasn’t.

We can have the ability to choose to love or not. The biggest challenge will come when there is a personal cost with it. I am not speaking of a financial cost although sometimes that is required, but rather the cost of time, energy a letting go of our own desires to put someone else first; that kind of cost. Jesus called this “loving your neighbour as yourself.”

Jesus often spoke about giving to those who can’t repay you or say thank you is actually really important. I have come to realise it is through those acts of love and kindness that our hearts are opened, our character is tested and formed and our skill set is developed and we gain strength on the inside. No personal challenge no personal growth. I don’t think there is any course that can teach you how to love. This one comes through opening our hearts to God and others and putting aside our own selfish desires. Then leaning into Christ we begin to understand the meaning of “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul and love your neighbour as yourself’ Mark 12:30-31

Remember to love yourself too in the midst of loving others.

 

 

Anxious Solutions: Part Two

roseAs I sit and write this I am sat in Rwanda having travelled yesterday. Travel is always very stressful for me, not only the day, but in the lead up to it for at least three days before. I can feel all the mixed emotions kick in. So over the years I have discovered a practical way to manage myself. Travel for me means adventure, which I love. Also separation from the people and places I love. It means extra pressure, as the ministries I oversee in the UK don’t stop just because I am out of town

It is interesting to intentionally notice what brings us to the table of anxiety. Awareness is the key to not allowing anxiety to determine the course of our days. We all have difficult situations or days as we travel through life and it’s about finding small ways to manage ourselves during those days.

In the last article I recommended daily prayer as a means of giving over our anxieties to Jesus who is built to carry such things on our behalf taken from 1 Peter 5:7. There is also a great scripture in Psalm 55:22 “cast your burden upon the Lord and He shall sustain you; he shall never permit the righteous to be moved.” I love this it is filled with action on our part and then shows Gods role and why. That’s the power of having a devoted payer life.

There are several practical things that we can do to help ourselves when anxiety is trying to get a hold. I notice that structure and routine help my mind and therefore my actions. I work in a field where chaos and the darker side of life reign, so my personal life has the opposite, which means creating an organised environment and having lighter times and connecting with positive friendships each day to help me feel a lot calmer.

Over recent weeks I have been running a short distance everyday in the evening to bring routine in the chaos of transition, I find myself making lists not of what to do but what I will do each day. We shouldn’t under estimate the power of eating healthily and at regular intervals. Ditching the junk food and reducing sugar intake can help immensely so our blood sugars don’t bounce around too much helping us to.

Something my grandmother passed onto me was to stop and watch the flowers and enjoy the moment. For me that looks like taking a coffee at a set time, and tea in the afternoon at a set time on my own as much my schedule allows, each day this provides with me a margin of time to rest my mind and be.

When I feel the presence of stress or pressure I notice that I tend to get very whizzy in my thoughts and actions, some may think I am having a highly creative moment but really it’s a stress reaction. Switching off the tv, taking a break from social media and computer devises allows me to gain perspective without extra voices directing my thoughts and emotions; getting down time is really important in the age of connectivity. This is where having times of booked in gym sessions will release all of that and clear my mind completely allowing my mind and body to come back to normal rhythm.

If you remember nothing else, establishing a rhythm for life that works with your personalities, could be the way of finding your freedom from anxiety. Don Egan whom I work with has written a small booklet “Rhythm of Life” which goes into more detail about the how to gain peace on the inside when the outside is difficult.

You can order the Rhythm of Life booklet from RSVP here.
bookrhythm

LEVELS OF FREEDOM

Freedom pillar Apartheid museumI have noticed that there are levels of freedom from addiction. We can set ourselves free from using the substance or drug of our choice; that is one level. Then there are the layers that have to be peeled back by asking questions such as ‘why did I do that?’ or ‘why am I vulnerable to addictive patterns of behavior in my life?’

I strongly believe that Jesus has the ability to set us free in the blink of an eye. This was my own experience but then I had all the under-the-surface pain and anger to look at. I have read lots of books and articles, and listened to talks about how to deal with the root of addiction, yet nothing seems to help. The pain and anger are still present and they raise their ugly heads from time to time and, without a sunstone to sooth that pain, the feelings are overwhelming at times.

In the end, I did the same thing as I did when I prayed for Jesus to set me free from alcohol. I knelt down and spoke to Jesus about the pain and the anger and I asked Him if He could show me the root of that anguish and bring healing and transformation to my heart, mind, and emotions. Within a day, as I gently allowed time for Him to speak to me, He revealed the original wound so that I could pour some prayer into the area. It is our prayers and the prayers of others that gives Jesus access to the root to make way for the next level of healing.

Healing can be a process that happens as we draw close to the spirit of Jesus. We may get clean of an addiction to a substance or a drug, but then we need inner healing on the hidden darkness in each of us. I believe the Bible when it says that Jesus heals all our diseases (Psalm 103:3). He transforms our darkness, painful past, and original wounds, and He bestows His presence into those areas bringing the abundant life (John10: 10).

When the healing comes, it is often in a twinkling of an eye but we may have been praying for it for many years. Suddenly, inner peace comes and we are able to forgive, we are able to let the pain and the anger fade as God draws the dark places inside us into the light—the light of His glorious truth.

Jesus invites us to go to Him with anything and He will quench our thirst if we draw from Him as a resource—and we will no longer be thirsty (John 7: 38). Let’s get prepared to receive levels of freedom. Come and drink of the spirit of Jesus and we will not get thirsty. Let the savior of the world quench the thirst of our cravings / loneliness / anger/ pain and bring healing and love to our mortal bodies.

Anxious Solutions: Part One

benchI thought I would write a few thoughts down about this huge topic. As we walk through life we meet all sorts of people and have all sorts of situations around us. This means we will encounter stress and anxiety so rather than try and avoid people and places I have found it helpful to have a plan to counteract stress before anxiety begins to take hold. Over the years it is Gods presence that has help me to handle anxious moments when they come.

Earlier this week I spent some time chatting about how I have learned to handle anxiety with a woman that I help to mentor. What I have discovered over the years however we try to eliminate encountering stressful situations they will still come. Often out the blue anxiety will creep on us. It is the constant drip that builds into a collapsed person.

A few years back I got so unwell from being exposed to chronic stress that it began to affect my body physically until I had full on adrenal collapse. I had no control over this and it took two years for my body to recover. I was left with the warning from professionals that I had to change my lifestyle. Being in the throws of ministry this has been a challenge. I have to live a calmer life and mostly practise not carrying others problems in my own heart and mind. So I have to work mental and physical boundaries to the max.

Anxiety is the product of fear. So when I have the feelings of dread, nausea or panic begin to come I ask myself what is it that I am afraid of and does the apprehension come from a rational thought or from a perceived thought. So the second question to ask is what is the fear based in reality or not. If it is a real fear coming as a waning then we need to stop do something about it. However if it is not then we must lay the fear down somewhere. The state of stress can be made worse if we hold the fear inside ourselves like its a precious secret that we need to keep but it is actually something that can take hold and seek to effect other areas of life including relationships.

Fear is sneaky and at it’s best at nighttime when it is dark and when we are alone so the third question to ask is who can I share this with so we are not isolated in the situation. It is helpful as another voice will bring a different and maybe the rational voice we need to hear.

The most important thought I have on anxiety is to bring everything to God the author and finisher of our faith. Jesus claimed in the Bible that we should “put all our cares and burdens of him as he cares for us” he recommends that we don’t worry and uses the birds of the air as an analogy pointing out that they are provided for and looked after so why do we worry about what will happen all the time.

When we allow anxiety to come and be a friend life may pass us by, as we are too busy caught up in the worry. Having a relationship with God through prayer will help ease any anxiety we maybe carrying. If we pray daily about the things that concern us each day placing them at the feet of Jesus then He can carry those burdens on our behalf and we can walk in peace even in the midst of very difficult and sometimes traumatic situations. God’s peace can rule our heart. As we pray the sacred peace invades us and anxiety, stress and worry diminish – they loose their grip.

So spend a few moments with God in the quiet and let him bring quiet to your heart and mind each day.

Take A Break

1444868_24714299We have all been exposed to teaching either by reading books or hearing sermons about doing more, serving more and it would be true to say that some need to find their unique God gift and get operational with it. However for others we need to learn to take a break. If we are not careful in developing break times and times off, then we will indeed break others and ourselves.

I always remember my parents being what I thought was a slightly strict with the “you can’t go out and play tonight” or at the weekends the no word would come out again. I can now see what was happening they were observing that I would need to rest to be able to function all the other days.

Most of my ideas, creativity, hearing God comes from when I am on a break. The break can be five minutes or a day it makes no odds, the point I’m making is to down tools and take a break. In other words when we stop the doing and trying to make things work often God can pop an idea or brings things to our attention; our mind is free and not filled with clutter. Clutter can come in many forms.

As an introvert (energised by being alone) personally I find events the most draining and often Churches & organisations love events. So I spend the majority of my time being in a box that I don’t fit into. However I have found a way to bring the balance I need by creating margins of space around events.

If you lean more to the extrovert (energised by being with people) then you gain synergy and creativity from the people you are around which is great. Maybe you will need margins of people contact around times of solitude to create energy. We need both in the world, introvert and extrovert, the key is allowing each other to be ourselves.

With regards to how to take the break we may need to be creative / flexible as we live in a world where identity is wrapped up in the word “busyness”. I often like to do some gardening to clear my head or have a bike ride in the evening. Sport such as running and belonging to a gym have been a personal rhythm that I have been using for the past twenty years. I have noticed that when I do something practical it gives me a chance to open the window on creativity in the spiritual.

Your window maybe different but I would encourage you to open it. Jesus often took a break from the people who were always waiting to see him. He would rise early in the morning to go and find a place of solitude to pray.

When we pray we are stopping to disconnect from all we do to connect in the spiritual and in the stopping peace, wisdom and refreshment come.

Fire Brand

1421116_12292469 When we first encountered God we had an excitement, a passion, a fire that burned on the inside. I know I did. This fire creates radical change and growth of a person. Immediately I left my old lifestyle and moved into the pursuit of relationship with God above all else. I made personal sacrifices to follow Jesus and His leading in my life. Nothing else mattered. Overtime we can become dulled to the presence and activity of God in our lives; taking Him for granted with maybe no personal cost. The Bible calls this lukewarm in the book of Revelation 3:14-21 “So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”

We read of the Holy Spirit challenging the Church for neglecting their passion for God. Yet despite the rebuke Jesus is standing knocking at the door of our Churches and our hearts wanting to come in. Where we have become lukewarm Jesus wants to come to revive the fire again and bring revival to us personally and that in turn will bring revival for nations. Passionate people live extra ordinary lives for the gospel where sacrificial living becomes the normal when personal revival comes.

To pursue God is not an easy path to walk. It carries the cost of surrender, a lying down of the old to birth the new. It brings a “broken and contrite spirit” Psalm 51:17 a renewed awareness of the need for Gods presence, an awareness of shame, sin, an exposing poor attitudes and behaviour that doesn’t reflect Christ. Living and thinking without Gods presence in our daily lives causes us to weep with remorse when the fire of God comes. We feel undone but all of this draws us to cling to God who loves us deeply and wants to heal our lives and land.

Revivals that reach the lost have happened throughout the centuries. What if we all had a personal revival that would impact our nations? Are we ready for a visitation of God across our lands? Revivals of the past have a thread that flows throughout them, prayer; a compulsion to push deeply into God. Seeking the face of God through prayer brings a release of holiness in a person, healing, forgiveness, restoration, freedom, right living suddenly become a way of life but it is not by our achievement but by a supernatural intervention. Revival comes as faith becomes seen and God is glorified.

As we draw close to God he will draw close to us bringing personal revival. Be on fire with God and not lukewarm. People on fire with God are shakers and movers who bring transformation to broken communities they turn injustice on its upside down and bring heal nations. Fire brands live extra ordinary lives because they have opened the door to God.

2 Chronicles 7:14 “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”