Category Archives: Change

You Want to be Known but …

To be known is to be pursued, examined, and shaken.

To be known is to be pursued, examined, and shaken.
To be known is to be loved and to have hopes and even demands placed on you.
It is to risk, not only the furniture in your home being rearranged, but your floor plans being rewritten, your walls being demolished and reconstructed.
To be known means that you allow your shame and guilt to be exposed—in order for them to be healed. Curt Thompson

Do you want to be known?

Deep in all of us there is a desire to be known and loved, yet I am not too sure whether I want you to know me fully. You see if you knew me completely, then that would give you a lot of power. You could expose me to others. Reveal all my thoughts and feelings. Tell others all my secrets.
Naked, just like Adam, I run and find some fig leaves to self protect, yet again.
Do I want to be known? 

Hmm, not really, not by anybody other than by someone who has experienced the kind of shame and humiliation that I fear.

I am recovering the claim that Jesus was not crucified
in a cathedral between two candles,
but on a cross between two thieves;
on the town garbage heap;
at a crossroad so cosmopolitan that they had to write His title
in Hebrew and in Latin and in Greek;
at the kind of place where cynics talk smut,
and thieves curse,
and soldiers gamble.
Because that is where He died.
And that is what He died about.
George MacLeod

Yes, I feel safe enough with Jesus to let down all defences.
The only problem is that I only know Jesus dimly, like looking through a mesh curtain.

I know something of him, I have some mind knowledge, some experiential knowledge, yet I still only know him partially. I have had a taste of knowing him, which excites my taste buds with an expectation of an eternal everlasting feast of knowing, and being known.

‘I wish I had a friend, a real friend’.
I have heard this so many times, said and unsaid.

People have a craving for the loneliness to be filled. Yet dig deep enough and you will find an obstruction or a wall to being known.

‘If you really knew me you wouldn’t love me’ or the wall of ‘I will never let my heart be broken again’. Perhaps there are many other walls that we raise up to being known.

We have our walls because we like to be control of the outcome. Jesus comes to us, knowing fully well what is beyond the wall and mask we present, and greets us with an embrace that imparts a love that dismantles a wall brick by brick.
Surely this is the way we are to approach knowing others. Knowing that behind the wall lies mess because we know that we also have mess behind our walls.
When someone pulls down a wall and reveals they have Depression, Suicidal Ideation’s, Psychosis, Desires to Cut and Self Harm, Addictions, how do you respond? 
Do you …

  • Back off quick?
  • Refer them to a ‘professional’?
  • Give quick advice?
  • Problem solve?
  • Self reference with your own story or the experience of someone else?
  • (insert your favourite avoidance tactic here)
Or do you

  • Gently and respectfully ask questions that demonstrate your desire to know the person and not just the illness.
Many run or avoid the last option because they consider that don’t have enough knowledge to help.
A lack of knowledge does not constitute a good enough reason to avoid the knowing of another. 
There is a vicious cycle associated with the Stigma of mental illness.

In a Lancet study it was discovered that people with mental illnesses adjust their expectations to society’s views.

The study discovered that more than a third of participants had not started a new relationship because they expected it to fail as a result of discrimination. For the same reason, 71 per cent said that they wished to conceal their diagnosis of depression from others. The cycle of social exclusion and self-exclusion is therefore complete.

Most research on discrimination shows that direct social contact between people in good health and people with a mental illness is an important way to reduce stigma.

Concealment therefore reduces social contact and perpetuates stigma. On the other hand, disclosure also brings real risks of discrimination. Those with mental illness are constantly confronted with this dilemma of keeping quiet or opening up. New Scientist

Someone has to break the cycle of social exclusion and self-exclusion. 
Why not you? 
Would be you willing to know someone without a desire to fix them, problem solve them, heal them, pray on them (yes, I wrote that correctly :)), self reference them, or give quick advice?
Has anyone done this for you?
Consider these quotes about knowing from Dr. Curt Thompson in a book I highly recommend Anatomy of the Soul.
  • It is only when we are known that we are positioned to become conduits of love. And it is love that transforms our minds, makes forgiveness possible, and weaves a community of disparate people into the tapestry of God’s family.
  • When I know that I know something because I can logically prove it, I step away from trust. When I no longer trust, I am no longer open to being known, to relationship, to love.
  • Ultimately, then, knowledge alone does not satisfy. What does satisfy is being known.
  • We have failed to see that this need to be right, to be rationally orderly and correct, subtly but effectively prevents us from the experience of being known, of loving and being loved, which is the highest call of humanity.
  • Is not hard to see why we are infatuated with knowing things in this way. It gives us the illusion that we are secure and in charge. We are no longer vulnerable. We believe we are safe, protected, and happy. We delude ourselves into thinking that we know God, but God as we believe him to be—in control and invulnerable—not God as Scripture describes him to be: risk-taking and able to be hurt badly. We no longer have to trust since we’ve got him all figured out. Knowing things and being right is very important to us, but when overemphasized it comes with a price.
Questions to consider and leave a comment.

  • How have you seen the cycle of social exclusion and self-exclusion demonstrated in your life?
  • What walls do you or others put up to being known?
  • What avoidance techniques have you experienced by people afraid to truly know you?

Barry Pearman

Photo Credit: Darwin Bell via Compfight cc

Seven Steps to Change your Default Thinking Patterns

Whether you drive on the left or on the right, changing your thinking is difficult.
It must be very frightening for foreign drivers who are used to driving on the right hand side of the road coming to places such as New Zealand and having to adjust to driving on the left hand side.
 
I remember following your typical white tourism camper van once, and as it came up to a roundabout it turned right instead of left. I wondered where on earth it was going as I met it on the other side of the intersection.
 
When you have driven on one side of the road, all your life, it becomes a deeply ingrained thinking habit. So deep that it takes moment by moment concentration and effort to make sure you don’t revert to old patterns.
When you are
trying to change
a thinking habit,
or a behaviour,
it is just like learning to drive
on the other side of the road.
 
Addicts find it incredibly difficult to change because they need to oppose every pull of thinking and feeling that would have them slip back into the old rut.
 
It is not just those with addiction issues that find it difficult to change, we all do.
 
Often we don’t change because it’s too difficult, too much effort required.
 
We won’t try to change until we are fully convinced that the current pattern of thinking and behaving is dangerous. Even then it is just so easy to slip across the median line and into real danger.
 

Seven Steps in Changing your Default Thinking Patterns.  

  1. Pray. Ask God for the help you need to change. Ask for an awareness of when you are slipping back into the old habits. Ask for help to Lasso those Varmint Thoughts.
  1. Identify the Dangers. Be very clear of the dangers of continuing in this pattern of thinking and behaving. If you always do what you have always done you will always get what you have always got. Write out the consequences for you, and others, if you keep on doing what you have always done.
  1. Have a Compelling Vision. What do hope you will achieve through a new way of thinking and behaving. What are you desiring for in the change? Does it excite you?
  1. Create cognitive reminders. It might be a notebook of new thinking habits, verses of scripture, encouragement journal, a scrapbook journal of pictures of the potential new you.
  1. Oppose your old thought patterns with new insights. Your old thinking patterns and self talk are ‘stinky thinky’ and need to be replaced with new thoughts and phrases. e.g. ‘My past does not define me, it is the decisions I make today that define me’
  1. Oppose your feelings. Feelings are often repeating echoes of past experiences and don’t truly represent current reality. We need at times to discount our feelings before they discount us.

    In order to oppose the influence and direction of one’s old feelings, a rational mind first needs a very good reason. Without truth to reassure, change isn’t possible. D. Riddell 

  1. Get a coach. I don’t think anybody likes to corrected or challenged, especially by backseat drivers! So often though, we need others beside us reminding us to keep on the right side. It maybe a friend, a family member or a counsellor. Someone who can give encouragement and praise sprinkled lightly with correction and warning.
People change when they
hurt enough that they have to,
learn enough that they want to,
or receive enough that they are able to.
John Maxwell
Questions to consider
  • Where do you seriously need to change thinking and behaving tracks?
  • What qualities are needed in people who can coach you into change?
Barry Pearman
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Listening for the Whisper Amidst the Noise

It is a noisy world.
Subway noise
Photo Credit: michale via Compfight cc 

So many sensory inputs.  


Text messages to read, social networks to follow, email, radio, T.V., movies, blogs, podcasts, books, eBooks, audio books. 

The list can go on and on.

So much noise!

Does all this noise add to your life or could it be a distraction from life? 

Is it just a glutinous consumption of more information? 

The writer of Proverbs says this

A leech has twin daughters named “Gimme” and “Gimme more.” Proverbs 30:15 (The Message)

I read this the other day on my twitter feed.

@kimgarst: Face your problems…DO NOT Facebook your problems 。◕‿◕。 #youcandosocial

Do we face our problems, or Facebook them? 

Do we tweet out our misery into the land of noise hoping for some sympathy or a magic information wand to suddenly appear.

I think of the Bible character Elisha. Here was a guy burnt out, exhausted, depressed, and suicidal. He runs in panic to the desert, finds a cave to hide, seeks God, and experiences noise.

A hurricane wind ripped through the mountains and shattered the rocks before God, but God wasn’t to be found in the wind; after the wind an earthquake, but God wasn’t in the earthquake; and after the earthquake fire, but God wasn’t in the fire; and after the fire a gentle and quiet whisper.

When Elijah heard the quiet voice, he muffled his face with his great cloak, went to the mouth of the cave, and stood there. A quiet voice asked, “So Elijah, now tell me, what are you doing here?” 1 Kings 19:12, 13


Elisha’s story is not unlike many of ours.

Elisha is being pounded by noise

The internal noise between the ears. 

His fears, anxieties, the thoughts of people wanting to kill him. So he runs to try and escape. 

A desert and a cave
             A storm, and a fire and then 
                                                                                a whisper. 

From chaotic ‘out of control’ panic to a ‘gentle and quiet whisper’.

It takes effort to listen for the whisper.

A focus and a stilling of the self.

Opening the self to God in its totality involves meeting God in mind and heart, the senses and imagination, stillness and action, meditation and contemplation. David G. Benner.

Perhaps a method of hearing the whisper’s is Lectio Divina.

David Benner in Opening to God: Lectio Divina and Life as Prayer describes a six part process to listening.

1. Place. Pick a place that you will use for regular times of lectio divina. Make this somewhere quiet that will support attentive openness to God.

2. Time. Be realistic as you think about when and for how long you will try to practice this prayer, but also plan on being regular. 

3. A short reading. Take a small morsel of Scripture and expect God to give you a word or phrase from it that will nourish your soul and meet your present spiritual needs.

4. Listen for a word from God. In this context, a “word” does not necessarily mean a single word; it could be a phrase or even a short sentence. It means a meaningful message summed up in a few words. Notice the gentle touch that draws your attention, makes you stop and think, or stimulates a memory or a body sensation. Trust that this is God’s word for you.

5. Respond. Thank God for the gift you have been given and for God’s personal word to you. And then allow your heart and head to lead you in a response.

6. Be with God in stillness. Finally, as your worded prayer comes to an end, simply be with God in stillness. Sit in silence in God’s presence. Soak in the goodness of God’s grace.

We have so much noise in our lives. 

Is it too much?

Spend some time today in quiet, just listening to the whispers of God. 

Questions to consider and leave a comment

  • What sources of ‘Noise’ dominate your world?
  • Follow David Benner’s 6 steps and leave a comment about what whisper you heard.
Barry Pearman

How to Release the Pressure of Jealousy, Anger, Bitterness, and Hatred

You have been hurt, badly. You are angry and want revenge and retaliation.   

Picture of pressure gauge

Photo Credit: iammikeb via Compfight cc

It eats at you day and night. Hatred boils up and threatens to overflow with vengeance. 


What are you to do? 
        Hold it in or let it out? 

Transform jealousy, anger, bitterness, and hatred rather than give them back in kind: Any pain or tension that we do not transform we will retransmit. Ronald Rolheiser (Tweet it)

What do we do with those poisons though? 
          How do we transform them? 


Currently I am spending time each morning reading aloud some of the Psalms in the Bible. Many of them written by King David, a man of passion and emotion. He often vents his poison and anger about his enemies to God . 


Let their supper be bait in a trap that snaps shut; May their best friends be trappers who’ll skin them alive. Make them become blind as bats,
Give them the shakes from morning to night.
Let them know what you think of them,
Blast them with your red-hot anger. Psalm 69:22-24 (The Message)

Wow, David lays it out doesn’t he!

Now lets be honest here, do you ever feel like David? Do you ever say those sort’s of things. Perhaps you may even feel some shame for even thinking in such a way. Yet here we find a worshipper venting and voicing his pain to God. Full throttle!

Praying like this releases the pressure valve. 

Notice though that in praying like this David asks God to take action. He ask’s God to retaliate and to take action on his behalf. He places the need for justice into the hands of God. He hands the bag of hatred over to God to deal with. 

I wonder if just handing over the bag of hatred enables God to do something that we never could. We have given God the right to do what God wants to do. God knows the big picture, the whole story, will judge accurately and has the perfect course of action to take. 

We give up the idea that we know best. We now rely and trust in God to work Gods will, Gods way, Gods timing.

Paul writes this

Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.”

Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he’s thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good. Romans 12:17-21 (The Message)


Most likely you will need to give the lust for vengeance to God many many times. That’s ok. Whenever those thoughts and feelings bubble up, hand them over to Jesus. He has big hands and broad shoulders. He can handle any thing.


Question to consider and leave a comment.

  • What would it take to just give it over to God? To let God be the ‘avenger’.
  • Is it truly ok for you to let God handle things in ‘Gods will, Gods way, Gods timing’ or do you still want to play God?  


Barry Pearman

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An Invitation to the Desert

Stripped back to nothing and exposed to the elemental winds I come to the desert to be reborn, refined,  and renewed. 


I don’t like being vulnerable. To being exposed for the world to see.

Like the children’s story “The Emperor’s New Clothes” where the King has been lied to with a tale he was ready to believe.  Fooled into wearing a suit of invisible cloth he parades himself naked in front of his kingdom. He believes that he has a fine garment on, people out of fear agree with him and go along with the lie until a child points out the obvious. 

‘The Emperor has no clothes’

A desert like experience can be similar to this. We are exposed to the barrenness of who we truly are. We come face to face with our true self. 

In the desert we meet with God and God meets with us. (Like that? Tweet it)

The Bible is full of examples of people drawn by God into the desert of testing and change. 
  • Moses flees to the desert after committing murder to find a new life and then God in a burning bush. 
  • The People of Israel, millions of them, wander the desert for forty years following a burning fire and a pillar of cloud. 
  • Elijah, exhausted and burnt out, is Spirit led to the desert  to be fed by ravens and a whispering wind.  
  • Jesus goes to the desert to be tested and tried
  • Paul runs to the desert to rethink his life, his call, his focus. He comes out of it on fire
  • Hosea tells of God’s romantic desire to allure us into the desert to meet with him. 

Therefore, I will now allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her.

From there I will give her her vineyards, and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.There she shall respond as in the days of her youth,
as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt. Hosea 2:14

Listen to the tender love God has for his people. The desire to meet alone and to transform

Deserts are places of the heart where we are stripped back and brought to fresh dependency on a God so in love with us that there is refusal to leave us the way we are. 

James Houston, in ‘The Heart’s Desire’, lists some possible deserts that we may face.

  • For the perfectionist, there is the desert of imperfection where we have to face up to our own weaknesses and let God alone give us humility to face and work through them.
  • For the giver, there is the desert of inadequacy, where we face the flight from our own sinfulness. We too are in need of help from others and above all from God.
  • The doer is lured into the desert of uselessness, where we seem to get nowhere, where we face up to the need to become a powerless child of God.
  • The idealist who has assumed romantically that life will be interpreted and identity given merely by artistic creativity is placed in the desert of ordinariness.
  • Similarly, the controller ends up in the desert of weakness, and is made vulnerable to the threat of the chaotic in a wholly new way.
  • The observer or scholar is placed in the desert of solitude until the inner loneliness that substituted ideas for relationships has been confronted.
  • The rigid or loyal maintainer of the status quo, afraid of change, is placed in a desert of flux that appears as disorienting as sand flying in the desert winds.
  • The fun lover who fears suffering and pain will wander in the desert of desolation, where for a time life is dominated by pain.
  • The pleaser or peace-maker needs freedom in the desert storms, where survival requires confrontation with reality, and refuge lies only in God, learning to speak the truth becomes a terrible risk that has to be taken.

In looking at the list, what aspect of desert transformation connects most deeply with you? 

What is God gently whispering ‘The Emperor has no clothes’ to you about? 

Will you let him clothe you with truth?

Barry Pearman

Image by Don Kennedy Creative Commons Flickr

‘No Comment’ in the Courtroom of Perceptions

Flies buzzing round a dying carcass show more grace than what I experienced that day



Milling and churning like a pack of hungry sharks they threw accusation after accusation. 

Friends had abandoned me, some denying ever knowing me. 

Stabbed in the back and alone, I stood in the middle of the upright and proud. 

No comment.

What more was to be said? I had said everything that needed to be said. Lived a perfect life for the self-made perfect. 

Wiped the tears, listened to the hearts, and completed the course. 

I defied logic, man’s logic, and so I had to be boxed into their logic and law. 

Perceptions became increasingly rigid and solid. 

No Comment. No answer to a single charge. 

The jury had already drawn its conclusion. The nails were being sharpened. 

What they don’t understand, they must eliminate. 

Fear, and loss of control, surges the mass of hate toward me. 

Something is stirring within me. A hope, not of vengeance, but of a light breaking into their dark shadowed world. To see me as I truly am.

It would take a lot to shift their concrete held beliefs. 

I will continue to show consistent welcoming love to the hardness of their convictions. What is being released within me is deep and unfathomable to mere human logic. They will never be able to grasp it fully. 

So in grace, to their human fragility, I choose to make …

‘No Comment’

  
My love is different. It can’t be boxed by human standards of behaviour. 

My Love never gives up.

My Love cares more for others than for self.

My Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.

My Love doesn’t strut,

Doesn’t have a swelled head,

Doesn’t force itself on others,

Isn’t always “me first,”

Doesn’t fly off the handle,

Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,

Doesn’t revel when others grovel,

My Love takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,

Puts up with anything,

Trusts God always,

Always looks for the best,

Never looks back,

But keeps going to the end. 

My Love never dies.(1 Corinthians 13: 4-8)


A Father will soon make comment, and the earth will shudder and shake at the voice. 

No Comment will be needed as the evidence pours out.

Barry Pearman
Image by Corrado Alisonno Creative Commons Flickr

Part 2. How to set Goals when your in the Middle of a Minefield

Pressure to set Goals and New Years Resolutions can bring the reminders of past failures back into focus. Why bother stepping into the mine field of making goals?


Link to Part 1 of this series.

I know its hard to set goals when you may have had so many failures in the past. However, the setting of a goal and the achievement of it can be the most powerful anti depressant you will ever take.

You just have to have the right goal. 

How do we set goals that are both achievable and that stir something deep with in you.  

1. Find your WHY? What really sets you alight? As a bee is drawn towards a flower by the colour, what deeply and silently has a pull on you? 
It might be listening to someone, acting, painting, cooking, fixing an old car, gardening, scrap booking. 
I firmly believe that God has created you with gifts and skills that are totally unique to you. You are special and have hidden treasure to be revealed and used to glorify God. 

“The glory of God is man fully alive.” St. Irenaeus

Take a look over your life and identify a time when you were fully alive. What were you doing? 
You might like to watch this fascinating talk by Simon Sinek 

2. Change your ‘But’s’ into ‘And’s’. The easiest thing we can do when we think about setting some goals is to say ‘But … this is what happened’, ‘But it will fail because…’ 
Instead of saying ‘But’ and negate any sense of hope add  the word ‘and’. 
After the word ‘and’ add an insight such as

… my past does not define me, its the choices I make to today that define me

that was then and this is now. Things are different now

.… I know I can do this if I take small steps

For daily insights emailed to you, check out this site.

3. Take Personal Responsibility for Yourself. Don’t shift responsibility for your life and well being on to other people. Your response to life, and all it contains, is your responsibility. 

4. Set small Highly Attainable Goals. Goals that you CAN achieve. Not should achieve, or must achieve, or others expect me to achieve. Goals that you will take personal responsibility to achieve. You own them
It might be as small as ‘I will brush my teeth each day’ or ‘I will read the first verse of Psalm 23 everyday for the next week’. 
I believe in millimetre ministry. Huge mountains are shifted by moving pebbles, one pebble at a time.

5. Write them down and Tick them off. I am huge believer in using paper and pen for recording goals. Something quite tangible happens in the brain when you pick up a pen and write. The brain remembers the movement of the pen on paper. The satisfaction of marking a tick connects neurologically with the feeling of success far more than a click of a mouse.

6. Take Photos of Goals Achieved.  An Occupational Therapist once told me this idea and it really works. 
You take photos of past achieved goals and events to remind you of progress and change. We can so often get muddled down in a swamp of current mess, that we lose a sense of progress and change. Also the taking of photos has become so much easier now we have cameras on most of our phones.
Here is how I have used this. 
I love to grow vegetables and fruit for the family. In the winter when it is rainy and cold I sometimes pull out photos of bowls of strawberries, fresh large tomatoes and plum trees overflowing with goodness. This encourages me to get out and plant, prune, and make compost. 

7. Form these Small Goals into Habits. If I have read the first verse of Psalm 23 every day for a week, perhaps I could form this into a habit I do everyday and use other verses. I write more about habits in ‘Out of the Darkness’.
Changing your Habits is crucial in changing your life. The way you think has been formed by habitually thinking and behaving in a certain way for maybe all of your life. Go and have a look at this incredible video by Dr. Robert Winston about how the brain learns new material. I promise you it will really help you to understand how and why you think and behave the way you do.    

Little by Little one walks far. Peruvian Proverb (Tweet it?)

Question to consider and leave a comment.

How do the ‘but’s’ get in the way of your making changes?

Link to Part 1 of this series.

Barry Pearman
Image by Louise Docker Creative Commons Flickr

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Part 1. How to set Goals when you’re in the Middle of Minefield

Ever set goals for yourself and not achieved them?

Have you been wounded in a minefield of failure?

Often for the Depressive it totally compounds the thoughts of being useless etc.I’ve set many goals over the years and often failed at them.

In my book ‘Out of the Darkness’ I talk about this being a feature of people with Depression.

We set expectations too high, we fail at them, we believe the negative self press, we stop believing in ourselves, and we go back to bed, or hit the bottle!

The big question is

Who sets your expectation goals? 

Here are some suggestions

1. Society – the ambient societal message around you says that you need to be this weight, drive this car, have this cell phone, wear these clothes, etc…

2. Family, friends – to please the expectations of others we try and reach their expectations of us, or the perceived expectations we think they have of us. ‘Mum would always serve a three course meal every night, I should too’

3. Those #@%^& Mental Health Support workers. I used to be a support worker and I would always be asked by my boss ‘Has your client (eek), consumer (double EEK) set some goals for the year’. You see when the file is reviewed by the government funding agency they will be wanting to see goals. Pressure is on. So you ask your ‘client’ (eeek) what they want to achieve. ‘I want to become an astronaut’ they boldly say. You tick a box! They go back to bed! How many times have I seen people set themselves goals that that are too over the top, but because there are so many expectations milling around them they dream and decide to train to become a nurse, or a doctor whilst they are totally unaware of their own personal hygiene problems. SMELLY!

4. The Church. Now here is a bundle of subtle and not so subtle expectation messages. To be part of this church you need to

  1. Dress like we do
  2. Give money like we do
  3. Read your Bible like we do
  4. Believe these beliefs like we do
  5. Be able to sit still during the service like we do
  6. Smile, sing, pray, raise hands, even fart like we do!

To be in, you have to have NO SIN. Or at least hide it really well like everyone else. (Like that? Tweet it)

Writing goals is like looking at a minefield full of potential failure explosives. TOO HARD.

After receiving so many wounds we give up. 

  • How do we set goals with a minefield all around us?
  • How do we help others when they face their minefield?

In the next post I will reveal all! Well not quite, but I do have a few ideas that might help.

Question to consider and leave a comment. 
What has your experience of setting goals been like?

Link to Part 2 of this series.

Barry Pearman
Image by Andrew Cheal Creative Commons Flickr

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Instead of Whining, start Shining. Here’s how. Part 2

I want  to stop being a moaner, always finding something to whinge about.

Do you have this problem too?

 

In Part one of this series we establied that there are three common features of the perfect moan.

  1. A Comparison. We compare our situation to someone else or to another time. The grass always seems greener on the other side. 
  2. A Community. We gather others around us that feel the same way. This bolsters our belief that we are hard done by.
  3. A Target. We locate the problem being in a person. In the Part 1 we focused in on Moses and Aaron being the targets of the grand grumble of the people of Israel. 

Wouldn’t you like a different approach? 

Underneath this approach is a the sense victimhood, of being a P.L.O.M. There is a thinking mode of ascent. I want dominance, to take control, to be heard above the rest. That I know best and that I, and my fellow grumblers, need an audience. 

Then you have a guy like the Apostle Paul that writes this.

Do all things without murmuring and arguing, so that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, in which you shine like stars in the world. Philippians 2:14, 15 

Paul wants our style of behaviour to be different. He wants us to do all things without murmuring and arguing.

Is this just another expectation burden that I have to check myself against?

Another standard that I know I will not reach, so why bother?

I think Paul would tell us this  

‘Follow the pathway of descent to humility’.

 Chapter two of Philippians is a call for us to follow Christ’s example of descent.

  

5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

 6 Who, being in very nature God,

    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;

7 rather, he made himself nothing

    by taking the very nature of a servant,

    being made in human likeness.

8 And being found in appearance as a man,

    he humbled himself

    by becoming obedient to death—

        even death on a cross!

There is a verse in Brooke Frasers song ‘Lifeline’ that grabs me every time I hear it.

She awakens to a need to

‘Reacquaint my knees with the carpet’.

The image is of prayer, but also it is an image of serving and washing feet.

We come to Jesus in prayer with our murmurs and mutterings, our frustrations and pains.

We have needs that we are conscious of and also needs we don’t even know about within a subconscious level.

Jesus is conscious of every need and wants a relationship with us where we look to him to meet those needs in ways that are going to mean a deeper God reliant relationship with him.

We also need kneeling praying friends that we can be honest with. Not so that we can have other people join into the murmuring misery, the self-pity party, but so that we can have others pray with us, teasing out really what is at the base of our complaint.

 Friends who will both invite and draw us closer to Christ than to a dependant relationship with them. Paul talks about this type of love in the first four verses of the chapter.

 If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favour: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand. Philippians 2:1-4

 The other carpet aspect is serving, the washing of each other’s feet. Jesus descended to his knees to wash the feet of those whom he called to follow in his footsteps.

When you shift yourself out of the perception land of how ‘hard your life is’ to the reality of others around you it’s then you are encountered with a challenge to either remain stubbornly proud and untouchable or to sink to a place seeking personal grace and mercy.  

 

I complained because I had no shoes

until I met a man who had no feet. (Arab proverb)

When you feel like you want to murmur and argue just spend some time on your knees, being thankful, seeking God and knowing that God is there with you.

The outcome of a lifestyle of kneeling will be that you will shine like stars in the dark world around you.

We can shine and be examples of an interior redecorating work being done by God when we reacquaint our knees with the carpet.


Questions to consider and share a comment

  • What challenges are involved in descending, being humble in the face of personal need?
  • What does it require of you to to shift out of ‘hard your life is’ mode to fully embrace the reality of others? 
  • What thoughts and feelings did the Arab Proverb – ‘I complained because…’ stir up in you?

Barry Pearman

Image by Skiwalker Creative Commons Flickr 

Instead of Whining, start Shining. Here’s how. Part 1

Whinging, moaning, complaining, murmuring. We all do it from time to time.

I know I do, what about you? 

Love the picture. It describes what I often do.

I murmur and complain to myself and not know what to do with it. 

Self talking, muttering and moaning about all sorts of things. 

Self complaining is not healthy

It can just bottle up a lot of pressure and inner turmoil creating stress. We need to have an outlet to let the pressure off. More on that in the next post.

Three features of a great grumble. 

Using my own expereince and a story in the Bible I think I have discovered three features of the perfect moan. 

The Bible passage comes from when the whole nation of Israel had been freed from slavery in Eygpt. Moses and Aaron were the leaders and the people started to murmur and complain about the lack of food. 

On the fifteenth day of the second month after they had left Egypt, the whole company of Israel moved on from Elim to the Wilderness of Sin which is between Elim and Sinai. The whole company of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron there in the wilderness. The Israelites said, “Why didn’t God let us die in comfort in Egypt where we had lamb stew and all the bread we could eat? You’ve brought us out into this wilderness to starve us to death, the whole company of Israel!” 

God said to Moses, “I’m going to rain bread down from the skies for you. The people will go out and gather each day’s ration. I’m going to test them to see if they’ll live according to my Teaching or not. On the sixth day, when they prepare what they have gathered, it will turn out to be twice as much as their daily ration.” 

Moses and Aaron told the People of Israel, “This evening you will know that it is God who brought you out of Egypt; and in the morning you will see the Glory of God. Yes, he’s listened to your complaints against him. You haven’t been complaining against us, you know, but against God.” Exodus 16:1-7 The Message

 1. A Comparison. They compared themselves to those back in Egypt. They remember the food. They paint the comparison in rosier colours than the reality. They push to the side the facts that back in Egypt they were under the whip of slavery, they were prisoners of Pharaoh. We do this too don’t we? We compare our situation to that of others or what we perceive as the situation of others. The grass always seems greener on the other side of the fence. 

  Most people don’t see things as they ARE, they see things as THEY are. Richard Rohr

2. A Community. We need others to bolster our story, to confirm to us that we are on the right track. So we gather others around with the same grumble and form a political party. The larger the group the more power and steam is built up. If we can find others who agree with us then we must be right. Misery loves company and grumping loves a group.

3. A Target. We find someone who we can accuse. The blame game is played where no one wins. Moses and Aaron were the targets. It’s interesting to note people who continually target others often lose friends. People don’t want to be around moaners.

So what do we do about murmuring and arguing? 

Paul has some advice which I will share in my next post.

Here is a little Mark Twain for you

 

Don’t complain and talk about all your problems, 80 percent of people don’t care; the other 20 percent will think you deserve them. Mark Twain

Questions to consider and please, share a comment

  • Can moaning become a habit?
  • Why do you think people moan and mutter?
  • How have you stopped murmuring about problems in your life?

Barry Pearman

Image by geedebee  Creative Commons Flickr