Daily Devotions

Within Your Control

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For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:7)

One of the greatest learning moments in my life, was when a therapist friend told me, “You cannot control other people, but you can control how you respond.” Brilliant! When we focus on how others treat us or respond, we can feel helpless and incredibly frustrated. When we focus on how we respond with integrity, we begin to take back some level of control.

A number of years ago, I had a friend who lost his job in a way he found blatantly unfair. Without income, and all the added stress, his marital problems increased, and his wife left him. He was reeling with numerous emotions, everything from guilt, to shame, to anger, to resentment, to humiliation. The emotions alone were crippling. He came into my office and unloaded his despair. His words just spilled out of him until he was physically, emotionally, and spiritually exhausted.

I shared with him my therapist friend’s statement, “You cannot control other people, but you can control how you respond.” After a couple of visits, getting much of his feelings out in the open, he was able to decipher the difference between the situations he could control, and the situations beyond his control. He made a commitment to not obsess on those situations he couldn’t control. He couldn’t control his wife’s feelings and decisions. He couldn’t control his former employer’s decision.

He could control his own emotional, spiritual and physical health. He started seeing a therapist for his emotional well-being. He got back into church and started going to the men’s group. He got a gym membership and actually started going at least three days per week. He also made a commitment to himself to remain optimistic, remain connected to friends and family, and face his life challenges head on.

He couldn’t control his marital situation and they ended up divorcing. He found a good head-hunter, who helped him find another job that provided an even better future. Over the next year and a half, his physical, emotional, spiritual health improved and he became stronger than before his crisis. He would never chose to go through that crisis again in his life, but he could see that even a horrific situation could be overcome, and new doors hope and well-being could open anew.

Today, think about the challenges you face in life. What are you obsessing on that you cannot control? Is there a treadmill of doubt and shame you can pull the plug on? Begin by intentionally acknowledging what you can and cannot control. Then, make a plan to move forward, trusting God will guide you to a new place of health and well-being. God bless you, as you move forward in your process of wholeness.

 

Breaking the Woundology Habit

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O Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me. (Psalm 30:2)

The minute some people hear that I am a minister, they come up and unload their life story on me. The more pain the person’s experienced, the longer the story. I used to think that just being a listening ear was helpful. Now, I am not so sure.

I am not alone in listening to people’s tragic stories. You, too, may be a person people go to because you are a good and caring listener. For you and me, it can be frustrating because, aside from listening, we can do very little to help. Plus, often, these individuals do not seem to get better.

My concerns were addressed in an article by Michelle Birge, entitled, “Woundology: Stop Using Your Past to Define Your Life.” She said many of these people struggle with PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. But rather than move forward with healing, they are stuck reliving their past, re-experiencing their trauma over-and-over again. It is truly a sad and painful cycle to watch.

Birge states, “Woundology is like a seductive mistress. It uses the role of victim as a power play, as a way to receive love and compassion from others. It creates a lot of emotion and drama. This kind of connection with another person can be a powerful feeling.” Allowing the person to press play on the painful moments of their life, over-and-over, is cruel and impedes the healing process.

Further, Birge continues, “People with Woundology won’t develop healthy relationships with mentally healthy or truly healed people. Instead, they’ll only attract those who also express their own wounds too and thus perpetuate an ongoing living hell long after their actual trauma has passed.” It is our obligation to not just listen, but challenge them to stop wallowing in their pain and move forward in their healing.

Birge affirms that, “we are not meant to stay wounded.” We are called to intervene in their habit of dwelling on their pain, and guide the friend or loved one to seek therapy so they can move forward. This guidance should also include a faith component, so they can feel the Spirit’s healing touch in their life as well.

Today, pray for those who you know that cannot move beyond their pain. Then, pray for yourself, that you will have the courage and determination to guide the person you care about to get help and get healthy. Listening isn’t enough for someone in the throes of woundology - it takes action. Be the action in their life, so they can break the habit and finally heal.

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