Christian to Christian - Sharing on Hope

‘What gives you hope?’ This is a question I was confronted with recently in the face of life events and before God on Easter Sunday.

I guess one has to start with - ‘Do I have hope?’ Yes I do. Yet I find that hope changes with the ebbs and flows of life. And what we have hope for changes. There were seasons of hoping for marriage and many kids. Then came hope related to studies, accomplishments, walking in the call of God, manifestation of healing, and more.

According to the Oxford Dictionary and Thesaurus, hope is an expectation and desire combined, linked to trust.

What is a consistent goal caught up within ‘hope’ then? I’d say my overarching goal have been to be content with life as the apostle Paul speaks of when he recounts how he’s learnt to be content in both times of abundance and times of lack and trials.

Ephesians 4:11-13: .. ‘I have learnt how to be content (satisfied to the point where I am not disturbed or disquieted) in whatever state I am. I know how to be content (satisfied to the point where I am not disturbed or disquieted) in whatever state I am. I know how to be abased and live humbly in straitened circumstances, and I know also how to enjoy plenty and live in abundance. I have learned in any and all circumstances the secret of facing every situation, whether well-fed or going hungry, having a sufficiency and enough to spare or going without and being in want. I have strength for al things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ's sufficiency]. (Amp)

Yes - it was in tough times about ten years ago - also financially - that that became a prayer of mine. ‘Teach me Lord, to be content…’ coupled with ‘Help me to see thins through Your eyes God.’

While in church on Sunday eve the question of where or Whom our hope lie in - was addressed.

Our hope can only be steadfast towards a consistent goal or expectation for the future when it’s put in something or rather Someone who does not change. We may find and lose many career opportunities, homes, relationships, etc. throughout our lives. Setting our hearts and full attention towards those as the main hope for our lives - can never be secure. For when we face the inevitable losses in certain seasons of our lives - we are shattered and we fall. A few of those and we burn out with accumulated disappointments and broken dreams.

But Jesus Christ is the rock of not only my salvation - but the one Constant in my life. And my hope is locked into the fact of His Resurrection. As I put my hand in His and walk forward with Paul’s words as a prayer in my heart, He becomes the beacon that I follow. I then hope for the other nice things in life - also many good relationships (which are in His will as we were created for relationship), but I don’t lose hope and become overwhelmed when I find and lose or don’t find at all…

And ’self-sufficiency’ then means for me that I’m not tied to things or people in a kind of unhealthy ‘need’ where I give up myself or my beliefs, in order to receive what I think I can’t do without.

Hope - expectation, desire and trust.

I realized today that I've needed to realign my heart. What about you? Who do you hope in? What are the things you hope for?


The human spirit

The last couple of months have been quite exciting as I've been priviledged to experience more healing in my own life, and see tangeable healing and changes in others, through the tools that Arthur Burk brought to the table. While the blessings to the spirit and many of his teachings have been a blessing over the last seven years of my life, it all seemed to come together in the workshops that Arthur presented in South Africa at the end of 2014. Such as ... "growing when you're stuck..."

Many years ago I read the materials of John and Paula Sandford, such as "The transformation of the inner man" and "Healing the wounded spirit" and found it very insightful and helpful - but change didn't neccessarily come as I hoped for. Through the years I've been part of various types of ministries and counselling - on the receiving as well as implenting side of the couch. I have found that one's own growth is crucial in being able to walk alongside others.

In the past four years I've been blessed through the principels of Gestalt therapy in context of the Gestalt Play Therapy training presented by Dr Hannie Schoeman, and the post graduate degree through North West University (this degree is no longer available). Learning to live and experience life in the here and now fasciliates our contact (or connections) with ourselves and others while creating the ground to complete "unfinished business." This brought me back to my original pursuit of dealing with what stands in the way of our intimacy with God and others.

Going back to the biblically based systemic counselling model of Dr. Nicolene Joubert, one would look at one's psychological, social, physical as well as spiriutual health from different angles. In the implemnetation of the work with the human spirit I have witnessed the truth of a lot of pain that land in both the spirit and soul. And that talking about one's spirit without engaging it directly, is similar to telling a person that he/she can get into the pool of Bethesda (for healing, John 5) or to Jesus' feet in a house full of people (Luke 5.19), without helping them to move to a place of receiving healing and growth. Or telling a person that reading and writing is possible without teaching them how to hold a pencil and go about it.

Our spirits are created in the image of God, from the same light as the Holy Spirit, and sometimes we need a bit of cleansing and healing before we can align ourselves spirit-soul-body and birthright, with God's will for us.


Love and Freedom in relationships with God and others

This morning, I came across the following posting of Dr. John Townsend (clinical psychologist and co-author of Boundaries, etc.), on http://www.pastors.com/blogs/ministrytoolbox/archive/2009/12/02/we-are-free-to-be-unloving.aspx. (See the full article via this link)

'We are free to be unloving

By Dr. John Townsend

God has constructed love and relationships with a requirement, and that is freedom. Freedom is the price tag of love. Freedom exists in the service of love, for love can’t be forced. It can’t be controlled. It can’t be coerced. It can’t be intimidated or threatened. It is impossible to “should” love. That is an oxymoron.

Basically, when we feel we “have to” love someone, we have erased the possibility of love. We can only love God – and anyone for that matter – when we have a choice and are completely free to walk, free to say “I’m out of this relationship,” free to put God out of our minds and our lives. That is not a pleasant thought, but there is a law of relationships here. Simply stated, it is this: we are not free to love unless we are free not to love. If you don’t have a choice, you cannot freely move toward God or any person, for that matter.

The Bible never says you “have to” follow God, because you don’t. He wants a free choice or none at all. He wants you to choose, or not choose, him: “But if you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve […]” (Joshua 24:15 NLT).

It is a little astounding when you think about it. God gives up all the control he could use and puts himself in an extremely humble and vulnerable position. He asks us to love him and follow him. And he waits for us to make up our minds. He certainly has the power and wherewithal to force the issue. He could reach inside your heart and tweak it so that you don’t have a choice to turn from him. But he doesn’t do that because he wants to be pursued. He will give back many times more than he will ever receive from us, but he wants to be wanted.'

I can really resonate with the need to be loved, don't you? It is so easy to turn that need into a 'demand' to be loved, without even realizing it. And taking away someone's freedom - takes away from the quality of the love that we do receive. I'm reminded of the boundary-key: 'If someone can't say 'no' to you, their 'yes' doesn't mean anything' (from one of Dr. Cloud & Townsend's books).

Taking it one step further brings me to our own responsibility for our emotions, thoughts and actions. I can also get so self-righteously upset and withdraw from relationships because of being offended, waiting to be apologised to... But in that action I've set the other person up in a place of authority over me and myself as the victim who has to receive something. Spiritually... idolatry - I'm choosing them as authority over how I will choose to behave or respond.

The truth is that I felt wounded and hurt - and chose to deal with it in an unhealthy manner. I can choose what I think or how I think about someone or something, which will influence my emotions and actions. At the same time, if I don't deal with the painful emotions (tracing the roots, feeling it, understanding it, and dealing with it through prayer / forgiveness / counselling - depending on what I'm delaing with), will-power in making good choices, may not always be enough.

These are just a few thoughts from one angle, on the complex nature of relationships.




So when can I say some event was traumatic?

Traumatic experiences arises from events that threaten the integrity of the self – physically or psychologically. The experience usually involves a threat (actual or perceived) of death or serious injury to yourself or a loved one. Aside from the very threatening situation, it is an event in which you respond with feelings of helplessness or horror. (Children may respond with disorganized or agitated behaviour.)

Hearing about the death of someone you love, can thus be traumatic, and not just being highjacked together with that same person. There is an event – and there is how you respond in that event. We are all different and different things threaten us differently – often depending on our past experiences as well as our personality and general coping styles. An accumulation of traumatic events may also over time erode your defences, until you suddenly find yourself not coping with a seemingly unimportant or ‘small’ traumatic event.

Trauma effects our perceptions and beliefs about ourselves and others, the world (as a safe / unsafe place… for example) as well as of God. Therefore it is always useful to take a bit of time to reflect on the impact of a traumatic event, before you move on. Doing so can also lead to a strengthening of beliefs, and you can for instance move more towards life itself, perhaps deciding to take more time for fun and family than before.

When you’re not coping with trauma for whatever reason, and you find yourself responding with increased intrusive (i.e. nightmares, flashbacks), avoidance and arousal symptoms (i.e. difficulty concentrating, hyper-vigilance, difficulty staying or falling asleep) – more professional help is needed.