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Blessings in Disguise
It was a Saturday morning and I was doing a long run in preparation for the 2005 Chicago Marathon. My marathon training group and I had just stopped at the three-mile mark to get a drink of water and use the deluxe port-a-potty; it was a welcome sight after our start in the early hours of the morning. My friend noticed an interesting sight. It was an abandoned, black baby bunny. He was very friendly and I felt sorry for him. I continued on and finished my twenty miles for that day. But I could not forget about him and I prayed for his safety. I felt like I was praying to a brick wall and that God was just not hearing my prayers. My mind drifted into memories of how I had felt like that in the last year and a half in so many situations.
About a year and half ago, I felt like I had finally arrived as a teacher. I believed I had the world on my shoulders. I had a good job, happy parents, and frequent compliments from my administration. My students scored well on their achievement tests. Parents requested me for their classroom. I had received a good rating from my principal the past three years. When I had received a poor one from my head teacher, I quickly tried to fix the problems, but I did not let it bother me. I kept in close contact with my principal the remainder of the summer and had a good relationship with her. Looking back, I guess I was like the fool who had stored up wealth for so many years and thought he could lay back and relax.
Boy, was I wrong. Things went from excellent to absolutely awful. It started with the summer school class from Hell and then took a nosedive with the next two school years.
I found out that people were talking behind my back, and because I didn’t participate in the local gossip, I’d had no idea. There is still talk about me when I encounter people from the school. I am treated like the local leper since I have run into many teachers and parents from the community. As a result, I have been much more compassionate to those who have lost jobs or who are searching for a new one.
Looking back at the situation I see that it was not anyone’s fault. In fact, I take a lot of the blame. I let things slide, got obsessed with my fitness hobbies, I got mad at petty things and focused on things that were not important. As a result, after what I thought was some of the hardest years of my life, I got the reward to look for another new job in March of last year. My hard work and long hours to fix my “problems” over the last two years were for nothing.
I thought I would land a job immediately since I was overqualified for any teaching position. I was wrong. The problem with being experienced is that you are expensive. In addition, not many places wanted to hire someone with a master’s in education when they could hire a new college graduate for about two-thirds of what I was worth.
I did get a job offer at the end of the school
year, but I did not feel peace about it. Even though everyone was telling me
to go for it, I had a nagging, ugly feeling as if not everything was all
right. I felt like I was a baited fish with a death wish. Unfortunately,
teaching positions are difficult to get here in the
When I did land a job, I had to go back to school to work on my special education endorsement. That was tough, and I felt like the Israelites who were told to make bricks with no materials. The quota had to be made, and I had no materials to get the job done right. I also had to sacrifice by giving up most of my leisure time after work. My new job had many untold surprises. Instead of working with autistic children, I ended up working with teenagers with profound mental and behavioral disabilities. I questioned God about my decision to go into special education. My family and friends did not seem to understand my decision and could only give me empty advice and pat answers.
In addition, last year I was challenged with infertility. With all this going on in my former job, I tried to get pregnant. I went through all the testing and even a round of treatments. After much prayer, I decided to quit treatments after my first session. I really believe now that if I had gotten pregnant, I would have miscarried due to all the stress I was feeling at my job.
I also had strange things happen during that time at my job and at church. Even my co-teacher who was not a Christian wondered at the mass of misfortune I was facing. Many of my friends and family knew, but because they did not know what to say, I had no support. It seemed like I needed to just move on, and I did the best I could. Everyone expected me to act normal. I was expected to stay in volunteer ministry and just carry on. I went into Christian counseling. Finally, I had to come to grips with just accepting what life had given me. I was at a dead end in life, and all I could do was to keep going on.
In the summer 2005, I made the commitment to run
the Chicago Marathon. It went fairly well except for two injuries of
tendonitis in both my left and right feet. About three weeks before the 2005
Chicago Marathon, I found out that my two friends I ran with were having an
affair. I knew that they were attracted to each other, but I guess I was
hoping what I saw was not true. I knew as a Christian that I could not accept
their sin by spending time alone with them—especially considering the strain
the other situations were having on my own marriage. I severed the
friendship. As a result, I may not be able to run all the marathons, races,
and half-marathons I have done in the last year. Second Corinthians
However, God is a good Savior. Lamentations
I did find victory in each of these situations. I did get a job. I did not take the first offer. My current job is what I felt God was calling me to do. I am finishing school, and within just another nine months, I will be done with my endorsement in special education. I am making considerable more money, and my boss appreciates me more than my boss did at my prior job. She hates gossip, and I know she does not talk behind my back. Recently I made a lateral career move, and now I am working with children again.
I am able to be a witness to not only my students, but also to other kids in other classrooms, and to many of the staff in the facility. There are still issues I must deal with, but it is a battle that I feel I can better handle. I am learning a lot and growing up quite a bit. I have the opportunities to make a lot of life-changing decisions, and my boss trusts me in many curricular areas of my classroom. I am not only in charge of students, but also teach the aides in my classroom how to instruct my students. I hope that someday I can be a head-teacher at a special education facility. Maybe I will be a life-timer in that position. I believe that my experiences in the past will make me a strong, yet compassionate, facilitator.
I accept that I am challenged with infertility. It still hurts whenever I hear of a friend or family member who is pregnant, but I am learning to deal with it. When someone genuinely wants child and gets pregnant, I can tell them that I am happy for them without a lot of pain in my heart. I am also learning how to hold children, feed them, and care for their needs. Many people say that I have a special relationship with their kids. Maybe I will have one of my own someday. Recently, I helped plan a baby shower for a few friends at our facility. A year ago, I could not have initiated such an event. God is doing a work in my life, and I trust he will, in time, give me the desire of my heart to have children. I just need to be patient and wait for his perfect timing.
However, I am learning how to enjoy my husband and be content with the opportunities you have when you are a childless couple. It is nice to be able to do more ministry and fun things that you can only do without children. I can also enjoy the antics of other children without fear of embarrassment of my own. I learned that I cannot change my husband, but I can change myself. As a result, we have grown closer, and the Lord is doing a work in his life as well.
Because my current students are so needy, I get to parent them. I also give many hugs and love to many of the other students at my school. Joshua 1:9 says, “Have I not commanded you. Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."
I did get to run the marathon and I did fairly
well. I ran about fifty minutes shorter than what I predicted I would run. I
also found out recently I have exercise asthma and allergies. I hope when I
start new medication, I will be able to run faster this year. I hope that I
will be able to run one half marathon in
I also have opportunities to use my fitness hobbies. I found a way to still write fitness articles with students who have the mental age of one to six years old, and this winter, I am teaching a group fitness class to a group of behavior-disordered students as I seek my fourth certification in group exercise. In addition, there maybe an open door at the local fitness center again working with elementary students and families to teach them the fun of family fitness.
I have only seen the friends once since the marathon. It is just not the same. Every time I think of them, I pray for them. I still talk to them occasionally, but it can never be the same. I just know that until they admit to others their attraction for each other, I cannot regularly run with them. Sexual sin is a confusing thing. My church started a running group, and I am in charge of the beginning runners. It has been slow going, but I also run alone a lot. My iPod plays Christian music that inspires the soul. It is like the Lord often chooses the shuffle of songs He wants me to hear.
The bunny is now an important part of our family. We were able to rescue him a week later. When we took him to the vet for an examination of his condition, the doctor estimated that he was about five months old. That was the time I started looking for a new job. He is loving, affectionate, demands a lot of attention, is forgiving of my constant holding him, and enjoys snuggling up with me—especially when I have had a tough day. Therefore, the next time you feel like Jesus has forgotten you, remember that the hard times may be blessings in disguise.
Stress was originally an engineering term used to refer to the amount of force a beam or other physical support could bear without collapsing under the strain. The term is now also refers to mental and emotional tension.
Recently the Lord had to slow me down because I was experiencing too much stress. I was trying to do too much at once, and the signs were showing up in my body. Some of this stress was caused by my stressful job, but I had also just taken on too much. I developed plantar faciitis—an over use injury of the tendon—and had to stop running, a hobby that I loved. I also had to give up a few races including this year’s marathon. I believe that my injury was the cause of stress in my physical and emotional life.
A chair is built to be sat upon, but if it bears too much weight, it can break. If it is used for another purpose, it can also break. That is what I was doing to my body. A rubber band is elastic and can tolerate a lot of stretching, but after enduring constant stretching, the band becomes less elastic and breaks or cannot return to its original shape. That is what happened to my body.
I am not saying that all injuries and illnesses are caused by sin. Much of the stress that I experienced was because of other people’s choices and not my own, but some of it came from my own choices and from what I allowed those choices to do to my body. I needed to make a choice and not let it get the best of me.
There are normally times in our lives that are busy and that are beyond our control. The high we get from doing a good job is normal. But after we have gone through an intense time in our lives, we must allow some time for rest. That is not always easy to do. We love the high energy we experience from the busy times in our lives.
Under stress, the nervous system responds in three ways. It stimulates the heart, the muscles, and the respiratory system. The electrical impulses cause a quick increase in heart rate, blood pressure, muscle tension, and respiration. It signals that adrenal medulla, a part of the adrenal gland, to release the hormones adrenaline and noradrenaline, which alert and prepare the body to take action.
These three things happen very quickly but last as long as ten times longer. Stress also affects every part of our body including muscle fatigue, the digestive system (inducing constipation or diarrhea), and stress hormones that inhibit our ability to lose weight. Chronic elevation of cortisol is linked to inflammation, increased muscle tension, lowered immune system function, and slowed healing of injured muscles and tissues. Negative emotions can therefore trigger specific chemicals which induce physical responses that may contribute to pain.
Proverbs 3:5-6 says: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”
When we rest in the Lord, even if we don’t feel like resting, He will bring peace. I have found that, even in stress, when I turn my mind away from myself and think of others, I find peace. When I lie awake at night tossing and turning, it is amazing that I can rarely exhaust the lists of concerns that others have. I think of my friend with her newborn baby who is critically ill, my aide who has a daughter who is in college for the first time trying to make good decisions, a mother who is struggling with her son growing up and getting detached from her, the people that my dad, as a minister, must be there for every day, and others who have shared with me their needs. It takes my mind off me and allows the shepherd of my Soul to minister to me as I pray for other’s needs.
In conclusion, remember Psalm 23:
1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not be in want.
2 He makes me lie down in green
3 he restores my soul.
4 Even though I walk
5 You prepare a table before me
6 Surely goodness and love will
Let God handle your stress today. He is your provider and can meet your every need. Let Him be in control today.
Jessica was sick of the endless treadmill of emotions she felt. She was thirty-nine and in the world’s eyes, in the prime of her life. But she felt empty and alone inside. What most people did not know was that she had led a life of pain and frustration. This stemmed from not forgiving herself and others. She had faced many disappointments in the last year—including recent news of infertility and an unsatisfactory job review. Before, she would have blamed it on her past and present—filled with the teasing and taunting that followed her from childhood. It was time to move on and experience the continuing lesson of forgiveness for her and others.
She was upstairs after a productive evening doing research at the local university. She had been able to get substantial work done, and she was feeling on the victorious side of a major work project. Her husband was entertaining some relatives. She was happy to see her husband busy and engaged with them. Unfortunately she heard a conversation she felt at first she should not have heard. Her uncle accused her of doing something wrong that she had not done. She listened painfully as he quietly confided in her husband and the rest of the relatives. The whole incident seemed like a nightmare and Jessica wished she could just wake up. It took all her will power to not suddenly appear downstairs and defend herself. She asked Jesus what to do. But the pain would not go away, and she could not sleep. Later, she confided in her sister about the incident. Her husband did defend her, but the pain was still sharp.
Two days later was the Fourth of July, and Jessica was still steaming. It took all her will power to just make it up the stairs and face her uncle. As a Christian, she could not believe she could be so angry and upset. She waited in evil anticipation for the opportunity to blast her uncle with the news that she knew that he had talked about her behind her back. He invited her and her husband over to watch the Brewers and Cubs game the following day. Politely, she refused numerous times. Her uncle begged her to come. She refused and he said why. Instead of acknowledging his wrong, he denied it. She did have particular satisfaction in that he had to mask his mistake by taking two wine coolers and disappearing into the basement with his relatives for the remainder of the evening. Jessica refused to hug her uncle goodbye.
The following days were better. She was able to think through the situation and the lack of her uncle’s presence seemed to lessen the pain. She talked with Jesus and began to work through the situation. Unfortunately, later that week she got a flu bug which she recognized as the direct result of all the bitterness she held toward her uncle. Enough was enough. Jessica realized that with the week of prayer at church it was time to get off the treadmill of bitterness and lack of forgiveness and face the music.
What is forgiveness? Webster’s Dictionary says that forgiveness is “to give up resentment of or claim to requital for forgiving an insult, to grant relief from payment of forgiving a debt, and to cease to feel resentment against an offender.” Forgiveness comes in three types of situations. It is toward you, a one-time life altering event, and in constant reoccurring situations. Before you can forgive you must first ask Jesus for his forgiveness. More than anything, you have wronged Him with your bitter heart. It is normal to feel wronged and to feel anger, but holding bitterness is not a good choice. This includes forgiveness for wrongs done by self. Jessica had to make the choice everyday forgive herself for the mistakes she had made over the previous year, try to change the past, and to move on.
If we do not forgive he will not forgive us.
After we have received Jesus’ forgiveness we must forgive others and ourselves. Obedience must come first; the right feelings will follow. The best way to be rid of bearing grudges against someone is to confess the grudge to the Lord and seek his help. Jessica realized that her choice of forgiveness toward her uncle would involve a process, and many times Satan would tempt her to reinvest in her hurt and frustration toward her uncle. Then, begin to pray for that person as if you were praying for yourself. This type of forgiveness comes into two more categories—they can be one-time or on-going events.
An example of a one time event is when my friend Nancy was attacked while running alone. Unless she forgave her attacker, she would not be able to run the marathons that she does every year. She also was robbed while pursuing her doctorate degree in psychology. If she had not forgiven her robber, she would not have finished her graduate studies and become the counselor that she is today.
One-time events can be little, medium, or great. But the accused person does not get off without any consequences. Jessica realized that she needed to forgive and pray for her uncle, but that his Christian witness had been lost as a result of this incident. Jessica knew that she had been called to love and not hate. With Jesus’ help, Jessica knew that in time, she would be also able to forgive with her heart as well as her head. She also knew that if it was Jesus’ will, she would see that her uncle’s sin was not a one-time event, but one that had happened to many others in their family and circle of friends. Jesus revealed this to her in a variety of ways as the year progressed. After she thought she had moved on with the incident, she began to share her experiences with friends. A godly friend challenged her that she had not forgiven her uncle. Jessica thought about it over and over. Just like eating right takes a continual decision, she knew that the choice of her forgiveness needed to be as well.
Matthew 5:44-48 (NASB )says, “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? Therefore, you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Forgiveness can also be on-going in situations. Some people who do not feel good about themselves use their unforgiveness to hurt others. Jessica realized it was a daily choice to forgive them. Even though their choices directly affected her, she made the daily choice to put them in the hands of Jesus. On-going situations should not be mentally abusive and physically damaging. Jessica remembered her niece who recently had to put a protection order on her husband because he had been physically abusing her and the kids. After Jessica received her second poor review, she knew it was time to move on to another job despite the fact that she had tried her best to all that was asked of her. Constant physical, mental, and psychological abuse should not be tolerated.
What are the physical and mental effects of forgiving? Richard Fitzgibbons cites these benefits to the one who forgives: decreased levels of anger and hostility; increased feelings of love; improved ability to control anger; enhanced capacity to trust; freedom from the control of events of the past; no longer repeating negative behaviors; improved physical health; and significant improvement in psychiatric disorders. It has also been shown that forgiveness extends life in those with cancer, HIV, and other critically ill situations. It also increases the immune system and work and fitness capacity.
In conclusion, remember 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV) which says, “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 will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” My prayer today is that when you are faced with a choice to forgive, you will and Jesus will heal your heart.
Websites on Forgiving:
Christ Bible Search
Why Forgiveness Mattershttp://www.christianity.co.nz/forgive5.htm
As I think about the spring, I am again reminded of Christ’s death and resurrection. I think about His thorns as I think about mine. This article is not about a specific thorn, but about how to handle the thorns in our lives and how to effectively minister to others.
I will not mention my specific thorn—or thorns—because Paul did not. Paul was a creative speaker, a brilliant writer, and an eloquent communicator for Christ, but he had a thorn. Scripture does not specifically mention what it is, but scholars believe that it may have been a physical challenge, a relationship or a challenge within his life. This thorn brought him continually closer to the Lord and showed Paul how to rely on Him despite challenges.
What is a thorn? When I looked it up in the dictionary, I found that a thorn is something that causes irritation and annoyance; a woody plant bearing sharp impeding processes (as briars, prickles, or spines), and something that causes distress or irritation—often used in the phrase thorn in one's side.
Everyone has thorns. Some are challenged with them more than others. They can be physical challenges, difficult relationships, or mental and physical holes in a person’s life. Not all thorns are caused by sin. Some thorns can be the result of other people’s choices, but all thorns must be dealt with daily. Whether or not the thorns are caused by sin, our response is to work at them and try to understand the challenges presented by that thorn.
How to deal with thorns
First, be thankful for the thorn. Paul talks discusses them 2 Corinthians 12:7 when he says that, “To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.” Through God’s grace, we can be strong.
Do not get bitter with the thorn. In my case, some in the Christian community have not been supportive of the challenges I face with my thorn. People with whom I have been brutally honest about my challenges, have swept my thorn under the rug. They have been insensitive and unsupportive. I am sure that they prayed, but since they did not know how to respond, they did not say anything at all. On the positive, I have found supportive my non-Christian friends have been more sensitive about my thorn. I have also grown closer to my family members, my sister in particular. I thank God for restoring these relationships everyday. Thorns are not necessarily caused by sin, but sometimes act as lessons from God. Genesis 6:9 says, “Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God.” Think of the mental and physical thorns he felt when he began to build the ark and had to deal with the separation from his family.
Know your limits when dealing with your thorn. I have chosen to surrender some of my non-essential activities to allow more rest in my life. In my case, I also decided to quit medical treatment to allow me to deal more effectively with my thorn. I have learned to say no especially to those people who have been non-supportive throughout this process. This fall, I gave up four volunteer activities. I do not miss any of them and I am glad to get out of those situations. I am learning to embrace “me” time when I am faced with multiple stressful situations. I have also found that ministering—despite my pain—has been a source of healing for me.
I have also sought help. Counseling and talking with friends has been essential in helping me deal with my thorn. It is not bad to get help from a Christian counselor. I am not embarrassed about my situation and talk freely with others about it. James 4:6 says that “But he gives us more grace.” That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” My thorn has kept me humble and so it did for Paul.
Use negative thorn experiences for good. I have found that my deepest darkest
moments with my thorn have helped me be creative as a writer. Some of my best
work has come during those hardest moments of my life. I have also seen other
talents in my life increase. God has given me the gift of singing and I feel a
greater depth in my vocal talents than ever before.
Psalm 84:7 says,“They
go from strength to strength, Until each appears before God in
Freedom is not always being freed. I am not sure what road my thorn will take me on but within the depths of my mental prison, I can be assured by Psalm 118:5 that says, “In my anguish I cried to the LORD, and he answered by setting me free.” My freedom is very personal and not apparent but, at times, I feel it near.
Involve exercise as part of your daily lifestyle and rejoice in the things that you can control. I have also taken up long distance running, continued per iodization in my weightlifting, and have started stretching classes. Long Distance running has given me direction, goals, and new relationships. I am trying new things I only dreamed of doing like half-marathons and maybe a few full ones later this year. Weightlifting continues to inspire me as I watch my muscles grow. It is essential when dealing with a thorn to rejoice in the circumstances that you can control. Philippians 3:12-15 says, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point, you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. “
Be sure to eat right and take care of yourself. Proper sleep and nutrition are essential in dealing with a life crisis. I have not been good in this area recently and I have realized that my coping skills have suffered due to lack of proper nutrition and rest.
I Corinthians 6:12-13 says, “Everything is permissible for me–but not everything is beneficial.” “Everything is permissible for me–but I will not be mastered by anything.” “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food–but God will destroy them both.”
I Corinthians 6:19-20 also says, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your body.”
Forgive and just move on. Think of what Jesus said about forgiving. He said to forgive 70 times seven. That is many times in just one day. Matthew 18:21-22 says, “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but 77 times.’” You may not feel like forgiving, but it is the right thing to do. Eventually the pain does not hurt so much. I am hoping that in time it will go away. God is a much better judge than I can ever be.
Limit your time with draining and negative situations. I have found that it is best if I limit the time and energy I devote to situations requiring me to dwell on my thorn. I limit my exposure to friends, places, and circumstances that refuse to be supportive. Setting energizing personal goals has helped me during this thorny time in my life.
Last of all, I suggest that you keep a quiet time. I know that without a quiet time, I would not have been able to weather the storms of my life. Other irritants have also entered my life and I am using these irritants and my thorns to help me grow in the grace of God. I know he has a plan for me.
How to help someone with thorns
Be non-judgmental about the thorn. Colossians
Pray for that person and let them know you are doing so. Tears of gratitude well up in my eyes for the people who have simply told me that they have been praying for me. That is a tremendous gift. The words themselves are not important, but what they represent is tremendously important to me.
Pat answers are okay. Throughout this experience, I have received goofy advice from people. At first, it bothered me; but when I really looked at the situation, I realized that those people said those things because they cared. I would rather have people be open, honest, and ask me how I am doing; many people I expected to do so, did not.
Last of all, realize that the greatest thorn did not happen to you but to the
Lord Jesus Christ. Matthew 27:29
says, “and they twisted together a crown of thorns and
set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand and
knelt in front of him and mocked him. ‘Hail, king of the Jews!’ they said.” Mark
As you go through life dealing with your thorns or ministering to someone with thorns., I pray that you remember Philippians 1:9-11, “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ–to the glory and praise of God.”
One Look Dictionary
As I write this article, it is a funny time of year to write such a title. I am getting ready for the holidays, mainly Thanksgiving. I am preparing my first turkey and having my second major family holiday since moving into our first home just a little over four years ago. A lot has happened since we moved in. First, I have gone from being a timid person to a person whom I feel has been empowered many ways. Second, I have been a person who has experienced many disappointments particularly over the last year. Third, I have recently discovered as I clean out the physical areas of my house that there must be some inner cleaning as well. Henceforth an article not dealing with the usual fitness areas that I usually deal with but the mental, spiritual and social areas as well.
This last year I started the process of starting a family. My husband had some physical issues so we sought fertility treatment. The process was long, embarrassing, time consuming, painful and cold. I also went through a round of drugs. I was goofy and a basket case. After extensive testing, I found out that, I was normal and that my husband was to receive further testing. Nothing has been done since. I also went into a job situation that was unstable and stressful wondering partially because of some my own mistakes, lies and assumptions made by others. I am learning to accept that I will spend the rest of my life without a child. It is very difficult and I keep myself from hurting by keeping busy and staying active. I run long distance four days a week, strength, and hypertrophy weight train two days a week. I am also keeping busy by dreaming and planning to run a half and two whole marathons in the next year. I also plan to keep on getting more certifications under my belt and stay active in learning about fitness.
This also consists of staying late at work, spending more time in small details at home and at work, and writing articles about my passion of children’s fitness. I am still involved in my church but learn to select what opportunities that are put in front of me.
I was running recently with a friend and she asked me how the counseling had been going. I guess I did not know how to answer her. But as I went through the process of anger toward these people, I realized that the time has come for me to not necessarily forget but to forgive. So I released the people in faith hoping that in time I will be able to be over the pain and circumstances that have led me to this anger that I feel toward them. I am tired of being disappointed and hurt. I am tired of being a crab and a pain to be around. I do not like my attitude my actions and often my appearance as I am tired exhausted and angry as I tackle in many areas of my life more responsibility than is my own. I am tired of the lies people give me about their unrealistic expectations of me yet they escape any of their own. I realize that I cannot change others but only I can change me. I am not the little timid girl who used to let people push her around yet fume and boil about how situations was not right. I pray as I receive constructive criticism from people that I will be able accept it and know difference between facts and fiction.
I learn to say no and I learn to stay away from situations that have caused me pain in the past. I learn to pace myself and give myself a time timeout in preparation for difficult times. As I clean out my closets, floors, cook, and clean I pray as I purify my house I will be able to change my attitude mind and emotions. Yes, I will still hurt greatly every time I find out one of my friends or relatives are expecting but I have to realize that the choices that the church people who have disappointed me in my life have made is not my own but theirs. God has been faithful and through this process I feel I am learning the lessons in life I am needing to learn, I am using my pain to create my best writing articles yet and that through my pain I am able reach out to those I work with and those who are a part of my life. Thank you God for putting dreams in my life and goals that cannot be taken away. Help me to accept choices made by others and not allow their decisions to affect me more than they can humanly do.
I forgive you all for not being there when I was hurting. I forgive you all for making me feel like the show must go on even when I felt like hiding. All I can live for is for today. I know God’s hand is upon me and that He is guiding me every step of the way. All experiences are filtered by Him and for His glory. I learn to appreciate more when people do kind things for me and treat it as a special surprise that will brighten my day.
As I clean out my physical and spiritual closets, drawers and floors of my life may it be an offering to Him.
God has been helping me change recently. All of us are going through change, and hopefully, from what we have been learning through the messages at church, our worship, and out participation in Life Groups, we will continue to be changed. What is change? Change means to exchange, to turn, to put or place, to make other, and to alter, Change is a transformation in your life that is big or small. Whether the change is predicted or a surprise, how you respond to it will affect other people. Changes are a part of life.
The Lord does not change. The Bible tells us in Heb. 13:8: that Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and will always be the same. Mal.3:6 says, the Lord do not change. As we encounter a life with Christ, we continually change. In 2 Cor. 5:17, scripture says that when a person becomes a believer, he or she becomes a new creation. God does not allow a change to happen that we can’t handle. Even Paul wrestled with change. He was no different than the rest of us believers who experience a change in nature and yet still struggle with the old, fleshly habits. Paul said, in Rom. 7: 21-24, So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! The famous actress, Carol Burnett addressed the issue of change when she said, Only I can change my life. No one can do it for me.
In conclusion, change is destiny-filtered, heart-grown, and a process built by faith. Change is for the better or for the worst, depending on how you choose to see it. It is uncomfortable because the process of changing from one state to the next upsets our control over outcomes. Change isn’t fixed by mentally sticking to a treadmill. Harrison Ford, another famous actor, once said, We all have big changes in our lives that are more or less a second chance. Change is tough and is a muscle that must be built. Change calls requires strength beyond anyone of us. Through the power of Christ, change encourages you to do your best and to churn and learn. Time is so slow for the reluctant, and yet it is a whirlwind for those who embrace it. Change seeks a better place at the end and fulfills its potential when you realize you are different and are able to affect others. Change is occurs when you are dissatisfied with where you are. Brian Tracy, a famous inspirational speaker, says, Resolve to be a master of change rather than a victim of change. Change does not change tradition; it strengthens it. Change is a challenge and an opportunity—not a threat. Prince Phillip of England says, Change happens in the heart before it is proclaimed by our works. Change may be the only true constant in life.
When we think of the word bully many negative things come to our mind. Most often we think of the person who pushed us around mentally and even physically in high school. It may be the tormenter that spread lies about us and caused others to alienate you or call you names. As adults bullies are a bit more subtle but even more dangerous. They are the boss who pushes us around, the co-worker stopping at nothing to get ahead or the group of gossips that misuses company time to push their agenda or their low self-esteems out of the gutter. This can happen in both a Christian and non-Christian environment as I have observed working in both settings. Sometimes I almost cringe when I find out that I am working with a Christian because those that brag the loudest are often the farthest away from the word Christian. Dictionary.com defines a bully as a blustering, quarrelsome, overbearing person who habitually badgers and intimidates smaller or weaker people. The dictionary website, One Look.com further defines a bully as a cruel and brutal fellow that is bossy, frighten with threats or an intimating domineering manner.
I also believe that bullies can be our own mistakes. Sometimes we can be a bully to our selves with negative thoughts, feelings, actions and be a magnet to draw others to criticize and emotionally batter us. A defeating attitude can also lead to a personal and professional failure by our lack of low-self esteem, worry, laziness, loss of focus and careless mistakes. Bullies may also be life’s events we can’t control such as or chronic disease or a nagging injury from years past. Not all thorns are caused by sin and Paul tells us in I Corinthians 7:7-10 To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, and in difficulties. For when I am weak, then He is strong
What else does the Bible say about bullies? The Bible clearly states in the Old Testament bullies that tormented the Israelites. And if the Israelites wholehearted followed the Lord they were delivered from the enemy. Exodus 23:22-24 states if you listen carefully to what he says and do all that I say, I will be an enemy to your enemies and will oppose those who oppose you. My angel will go ahead of you and bring you into the land, and I will wipe ( the enemies) Do not bow down before their gods or worship them or follow their practices. You must demolish them and break their sacred stones to pieces.
Many instances in the New Testament included Peter being delivered from a from a bully jail cell of death by an angel in the middle of the night. Acts 12:7-127Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. "Quick, get up!" he said, and the chains fell off Peter's wrists… "Now I know without a doubt that the Lord sent his angel and rescued me from Herod's clutches and from everything the Jewish people were anticipating." Bullies are timeless and full of our history and culture.
They say on the average 10% of all people will like not you. But what if God is teaching you about bulling and more than 10% of the people in your workplace, extended family, or neighborhood hate you. I believe he is delivering you from trusting people, your health and security but to put your trust in him. Last year I was in a extremely stressful job situation. Eighty percent of the people hated me. I dreaded going to work everyday and my health including my physical body, emotional and mental health and blood pressure were affected. This affected my work performance and my mental attitude. Just one week after being delivered from the bad job situation I could finally remember not being sick to my stomach after eight months of a living hell. I could not for a long time remember how it felt not be feel sick all the time.
This year it seems like most everyone likes me at my new position. The few who don’t are high strung and just need to chill out because they cause drama everywhere they go. My attitude has changed, my work performance has skyrocketed and I love to go to work everyday. But not a day goes by that I remember that past and thank God for his wonderful blessings.
After asking the Lord to help me in bully situations I have come to the following conclusions. Emotions are real and it is normal and alright to express our frustrations and fears. But how we do it in the midst of the situation should be done often in private and with lots of communication with God. Feelings and emotions are the result of a natural reaction and need to be released. How we do this needs to be with God’s help.
Sometimes God delivers us in unusual ways. Sometimes bullies are brought into our lives to teach us lessons. I have learned so much from my bullies. Their words, their lies, attitudes and actions have made me a stronger person and I am learning how to deal with great adversity and how to treat other people above and below me. Recently one of my old work bullies showed up at church. It took everything for me to say hi and be nice. I did and I could just see the heaping coals go right on her head. Then later I was asked at a part time job interview if I ever worked with her. I forgot her name and said I did not know her. The pain was gone and God had delivered me from her evil grip on my life.
Ephesians 5:6 say Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient. I would rather have man’s wrath towards me instead of God’s. God will not be mocked and I promised that he will not give more that we can handle despite the fact that often we may feel we are over our head sometimes. He will make a way.
One Look Dictionary