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I am reading Safe People by John Townsend/Dr. Henry Cloud so let’s get started on what it looks like to choose safe people to do life with….Excerpts from Dr. Henry Cloud

Have you ever wondered why  some relationships seem to lead to genuine happiness, growth, fulfillment, and trust and others to pain and injury? Have you ever had the experience of meeting someone, finding them charming and attractive, then begin to trust them in some way, and later or possibly even earlier were hurt very, very badly by them? Or worse, have you done that more than once with the same kind of person?

It would be nice if we could all answer “no” to the above question, for that would mean that we would have avoided a lot of pain in our lives. And it would also be nice if those realities did not even exist so that we did not have to think about them. But the truth is that relationships can have the power to save our lives, or the power to ruin them.

Everywhere you turn, you can find people who can give testimonies of how God brought someone or a community of people to them in a specific time of their life and virtually turned their whole life around. In fact, that is God’s plan, to use good people to deliver His grace to us and cause us to grow ( 1Peter 4:10; Eph 4:16). God has ordained that we grow and are strengthened in our relationships with each other, as we find people who exercise the gifts that He has given them.

At the same time, you can find others who are in a lot of pain because the people that they have trusted their hearts to have hurt them deeply in various ways. And the reality is that God has talked about that fact as well. He has warned us that there are people you are to avoid getting into deep relationships with for a variety of reasons. They can hurt you, they can corrupt your morals, and they can and usually will lead you away from God. The enemy loves when you don’t spend time with God or listen for His directions in regards to your life.

David said that he would be careful to choose who would “minister to” him, and that he would avoid the ones that were hurtful ( Psalm 101). Jesus told us to watch out for people who make the “little ones stumble” and are like “devouring dogs.” ( Luke 17: 1,2 and Matt 7:6). God is very into reality. He does not sugar coat or manipulate anything, especially in an area as important as relationships.

 

These kind of hurts in our lives come in these areas…

Dating

Friendship

Spiritual Relationships

And the problem is that people have the tendency to pick certain kinds of people who hurt them over and over and over again. We have the tendency to fall into certain patterns of choosing hurtful people out of our own character weaknesses over and over again. Think about how you would answer the following questions…

Have you ever noticed that the problems of feelings that you are experiencing in your dating life are the same ones you had in a previous relationship?

Do you find that you continue to pick people to fall in love with or become close friends with who hurt you deeply?

Do you find yourself wondering are there any “good ones” out there?

Do you ever go through periods of emotional turmoil that are the results of picking someone who was not good for you?

Is ‘ how did I get myself into this?” something that stirs inside you?

If you answered yes to many of these questions, it is time to take a look at the ways and reasons you pick people who hurt you. And be sure that God has an interest in helping  you grow out of the pattern.

People who are honest about these patterns have a chance through spiritual growth to change their tendency to get into hurtful relationships. People who do not see that they play a part in the choosing set themselves up for more pain until they discover what is going on. And the change has to do with two areas. One is to recognize the character traits of hurtful people, and the other has to do with dealing with your own character issues that make you more vulnerable to that kind of relationship.

Evaluating Character

Many times Christians do not think of evaluating the character of those that they choose to be in relationship with. They often think that to do so would be to be judgemental. ( Luke 6:37). Certainly, we are not to play God and judge someone’s eternal state as the Judge of the Universe will. But we are commanded to judge in the sense of evaluating others in terms of our deciding to have close fellowship with them. ( 1 Cor. 5:9-13, 1 Cor 15:33)

Instead of looking to the kinds of character traits that God deems important, we look to external things that do not have much to do with how someone ultimately performs in relationships. We look at externals, even religious performance, how they appear, instead of what Jesus talked about as the deeper relational aspects of the law such as justice, mercy, faithfulness. (Matt 23:23). Is someone honest and fair? Are they merciful? Can they really be trusted? These are issues that Jesus told us to look at…

So, the first thing that we have to get over is the feeling that God does not want us to look at these things. It is OK and necessary to evaluate people ( Gal. 6:1). He wants us, to help others as well as protect ourselves from evil. ( Prov. 22:3)

In the book Safe People, John Townsend and Dr. Henry Cloud defined  safe character as someone who:

Draws me closer to God

Draws me closer to others

Helps me become the person God created me to be

As you think of people to date and become close friends with, and put yourself under spiritual direction with, think about those issues. Does your relationship with them help you grow spiritually and get closer to our loving God. What do you focus on? We become what we behold, what we gaze at. Does it help you become more loving and relational? And does it help you to grow as the person God wants you to be? These are good things to think about as they have to do with the two greatest commandments and becoming Christlike.

It is important that you learn to recognize things like…

perfectionism

inability to really connect

control issues

judgemental

domineering traits- power plays even in their body language, no balance, equality

defensiveness

denial

dishonesty

and other traits the Bible talks about that are destructive and of course not of God

We all need to know what it is that we are looking to confront and to avoid. If you are going to give your heart to people and trust them, then you need to know what you are looking for. Search the scriptures. Pray for discernment that only comes from God.

God desires this for His children for two reasons… One is to be able to confront each other with the truth so we grow in a community and overcome. We are to be redemptive agents in each others lives. The second one is for your own protection and growth, as discussed above.

 

Our character weaknesses also need to be addressed to why we keep making poor choices that hurt us. It is not lack of knowledge but typically because we don’t know our worth and don’t know how to create healthy boundaries according to the word of God so we end up bearing the responsibility for the problem too.

We need a good support system in place. If you do not have that, pray for God to bring people. He will!

Own the problem, admit and repent. This is called confession

Identify the underlying.. Is it fear? Generational patterns? Loneliness? Financial?

Healing is necessary. Go for healing prayer, get wise counsel, talk to God

Keep practicing breaking these destructive patterns

God will deliver you as you submit yourself to Him. He will help you!

xo

From a series I am listening to about our soul.

3 John 1

Johns says, Beloved I am praying that your circumstances are well and that you are in good health as it goes well with your soul. Essentially, John is saying I pray above all else that you are healthy on the inside. A healthy soul conquers adversity but what can you do when the spirit is crushed- Proverbs 18:14

Am I healthy on the inside? How do we really know if we are healthy on the inside? Where does our help come from and more importantly who is our helper?

You may have money in the bank, circumstances are good and you are even in good health but if you are deceitful, anxious, lacking in morals then the word of God says you are not healthy on the inside. For the heart is sick without God.

Our society says cash is king but that is not scriptural, that is not what God says ( ever) so let’s get refocused on the word as you may have no money, facing adverse circumstances, in poor health and still be restful on the inside. Who is your source?

Can we live from a quiet soul?

We live in a culture that is loud and obnoxious. We are inundated with information. We see and hear way too much and our spirit becomes crushed as stated in Proverbs. I sometimes want to wear earplugs just to drown out the noise. It creates confusion for me if I am not firmly planted in the word, daily. Not once in awhile or every so often but daily. God himself says it, Come to me all who are burden and heavy laden and I will give you rest. Our society is parched for God; where real living waters flow. How will I know what to do or who I am if I am not seeking the truth?

Our society is rushed. Life is so hurried as we take on more just to keep up. We compare as we rub shoulders with others feeling somehow that we have fallen short. Truth be told and truth only comes from God is that we have this whole “living” thing backwards. Ambition turns into competition and comparison. It can wreck havoc on the inside if you don’t know who you are. People’s perception’s can throw us off.

In Psalms David writes the lyrics ( 131) that are directed by God. A song of ascents by David

 

My heart is not proud, Lord

my eyes are not haughty;

I do not concern myself with great matters
    or things too wonderful for me.
 But I have calmed and quieted myself,
    I am like a weaned child with its mother;
    like a weaned child I am content.

 Israel, put your hope in the Lord
    both now and forevermore.

See David is a king with all at his fingertips. He has influence, power, wealth, and yes information maybe even more than the known world. However, David has made a clear space for God. David knows he is not God. He says it here in Psalms- my heart is not proud, Lord and my eyes are not haughty. I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful to me. 

David doesn’t need to be in the know about everything. He humbles himself and knows with everything in his being that he is not in control. He is not even in charge, God is! We may not ever be as powerful as David but what we are is proud. We want to be the God of our own lives. You know how it goes, “If it’s to be, it’s up to me!” David knows that the disease of other kings is pride. Is pride crushing your spirit?

David says I will not occupy myself with everything that offers itself to me. David is setting boundaries and limits so he stays healthy on the inside. Just because we can know it or possess it doesn’t mean that we should. This is so important…We are not meant to be in the know about everything and everyone. It is not good for our soul! You want a quiet and peaceful soul? Set limits and boundaries with what you let in to your life, AKA your soul. It’s ok if you don’t know all the news and all the details because God does and He will take care of protecting us to the extent that we trust.

The first step to cultivating a quiet soul is to surrender to God. We are not in control, not even close. There also will be a judgement day for all. We will be held accountable of the way we live right now. Fearing the Lord means we have respect for out creator and we actually live that out. We trust God. His grace is enough!

God designed each of us for a purpose, His purpose not our own.  God wired us to be in relationship with Him so we live as good stewards with a quiet soul. Who is your source?

 The word calm in hebrew means to level. David is saying that His levels are out of whack without God. When we go it alone, we live from who we want people to perceive us to be versus who we truly are and what we are truly called to in this life. David made a decision to level his soul and he did this through a relationship and worship. He spoke to God about everything and He genuinely wanted God’s will for his life. Did he stumble? Oh, yes but David knew when his sanity was at risk and turned back towards his source. David loved God with all of his heart. Do you?

I was in a class recently and people kept coming in late as the teacher tried to begin several times. He finally stopped his teaching and said we are going to pray. He began circling the outer part of the room we all were gathered in as he just kept repeating these words…” Thank you, Jesus!” “Thank you, Jesus!”” Thank you, Jesus!” He must have said it at least 50 times but you could feel the atmosphere changing. Souls were being quieted, tears were running down faces, and the Holy Spirit was moving. The hair on my arms was standing and I felt so peaceful. Peace that surpasses understanding.

Everybody has issues, everyone! If someone tells you they don’t, then clearly one of their issue is lying. God came to save and heal broken people living in a broken world. We are not meant to carry this weight. We are meant to trust, to lean, to come closer, to seek, and to rest. He will do everything else.

We did not earn God’s love but we are born again into it. There is no agenda only love. Like a child who wants to be in the arms of their mother.

“I just want to be in your arms, Lord.” “I just want to be with you.”

xo

I am listening to a great series right now about difficult people, let’s begin…..

Self- awareness is not the absence of mistakes, but the ability to learn and correct them

We all have that one person in our lives totally unaware of how they come across to others. You may find yourself even avoiding them as much as you possibly can. Being in their presence is honestly just too much at times. Here are some of the wonderful qualities those people possess.

The Interrogator- the more questions they ask, the more it feels like an interrogation

The One Upper- always has done more, been more, has more, knows more

The Incessant Talker- Can’t get a word in?

Debbie Downer- Glass half empty, always!

The Busy Body- In everyone’s business?

The Gossiper- Consistently has something to say about someone

The interrupter- Are you even listening?

The Exploiter- doesn’t keep your private life private

The Attention Seeker- Does whatever they can to draw attention to themselves

The Controller, the steamroller- My way is better

Being right is always better than loving you?! OUCH

Graham Cooke calls those individuals your grace growers but is sure doesn’t feel like your grace is growing; more like “abort, abort.”

Seriously, what is wrong with those people? They are beyond frustrating and life draining. There are times when we do need to re- evaluate relationships and possibly put them in another circle other than our inner. However, more often than not there actually may be something in us, yes, you and me that we don’t see.

Let’s think about this for a minute… What is our whole purpose for being in relationships with others? For me it is because I want to grow closer and deeper in love and friendship. I want the people in my life to feel loved, cherished and heard. Do I always do that? Unfortunately, no.

The common denominator I bring into all my relationships is me. The same is with you.  Are we possibly missing the mark?

We all have opinions and we all have differences so how do we draw closer to others that are different from us?

2 Samuel- ( King David)

One evening, David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. He noticed a beautiful woman bathing and David sent someone to find her. The woman Bathsheba was married but David didn’t care.  He sent his messenger to bring her to him and King David slept with her and she became pregnant. David then chose to have her husband killed. The results of David’s temptation and choices were devastating.

However, David was still quick to point out other people’s shortcomings ( sin). God sent the prophet Nathan to confront the king of his deception. See, David had quite the blind spot or should I say “another side” and often times so do we. The qualities we sometimes condemn in others can be our very own character flaws. However, David listened and did not justify his behavior but instead repented for losing his way. He was able to look into his own mirror and see what he had become. The very reason God speaks so much on meekness is because meekness changes us and those around us. All the qualities you long for, God has for you if you let Him in.

The truth of the matter is we only have control over ourselves not others.

Here are some things we can do to help ease our pain with our grace growers…

  1. Take a look in our own mirror- ask God to reveal your blind spots. In order to create intimacy we must have self awareness.
  2. Ask God in earnest prayer to help you see others they way He does.
  3. Ask God in earnest prayer to keep you away from people, places, and situations that may tempt you to do something outside of what God says.
  4. Meditate on scripture that combats against those weaknesses YOU (not the other person) has. Do you lack patient, understanding, empathy? Need to be a better listener, partner??? You will see how God will begin changing your heart, your actions, and then your words.
  5. Pray for healthy and honest relationships

Next, ask the 3 closest people to you the following ( honest feedback and no push back) Just listen.

What’s it like to be on the other side of me?

Doing this will help you get better insight into what others may be experiencing when in your presence. This is how we grow up and grow closer in relationships.

xo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Doesn’t it seem wearisome trying to maintain a relationship with God, clinging to His word all the while living in a world that say and does the complete opposite? I can’t make sense of it most of the time. It all seems hazy and unclear.

“Protect your heart but don’t imprison it.”

“Love but don’t be unequally yoked”

“Silence, be still but don’t be silent about injustice”

“Go here but don’t go there.”

“Don’t get too comfortable here, this is not your home.” Well, it sure looks like everyone who has the means is getting pretty comfortable.

“Do this but don’t do that!”

The pulling and pushing of it all is sometimes just too much. Where is my safe place? Am I even suppose to feel safe in this world? Nothing is sound but God. The wisdom with which we live the Christian life is learned through the pressures of experience, where we take what we believe and make it our own. In our hearts we know God is with us. I have had times where His Presence has manifested in my life and there is nothing like it. It’s like He is reassuring me “Shannon, I am right here and will always listen and help you.”

It is through those experiences of life that the truth in your heart slowly makes it way to your head. Some days are clear and sunny while others are cloudy and gray. “Keep your eyes on the Master!” I can hear Lysa Terkurst say. “See, the Master knows things we don’t so never ever take your eyes off of the Master.”

I think this is one of the most profound statements” The Master knows things we don’t.” Most often we don’t look at Jesus as a person. We can’t see Him or touch Him. He is quiet and we are loud. We all desire to draw closer to Him but if we are being honest, we fill up our days with other people and tasks. Jesus gets shoved into the background of our busy and hurried lives.

I am learning to become more disciplined when it comes to my relationship with God. I may want to talk to someone about something and would automatically call a close friend. Now I am trying to be more aware that I can talk to God about what’s on my mind.  It’s awkward at first talking to thin air, ha ha! Nevertheless, something shifts and the more you start a conversation, the more it will flow. I find things coming to mind that I wasn’t even initially thinking about. I am giving God my time and in return He is listening like no other. It’s that unseen where we pull back the curtain and have spiritual eyes and ears. I want to seek Him like treasure. I want to cherish our relationship. I want to surrender to His will not my own. My devotion is there but more often than not my desires are far from Him. I want to manipulate His desires towards mine not the other way around. “God, can’t you just take this away?”” God, let’s go this way instead.”

It’s all okay though because as I keep my eyes on the Master, He will continue to do a good work in me.

Remember God can fit everything into a pattern for good, including the things you wish were different. Start with where you are at this point in time and space, accepting that this is where I intend you to be. Your main responsibility is to remain attentive to Me, letting Me guide you through the many choices along your pathway. This sounds like an easy assignment but it’s not. Your desire to live in My Presence goes against the grain of the world, the flesh, and the devil. Much of your weariness results from your constant battle against these opponents. However, you are on the path of My choosing so don’t give up- keep your eyes on the Master, for the Master knows things you don’t

 

JC