Category Archives: Empowerment

Boundaries of the Heart are Lines of Love and Respect

They had crossed a line with me.

I felt so hurt and offended that they would be so disrespectful of me. It felt like there was no love or respect in their hearts for me by what they had done.

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Photo Credit: FolioRoad via Compfight cc

 

 

Have you ever been there and experienced someone who supposedly loved and respected you doing the complete opposite.

Its like you have planted a tree in the back garden, watched it grow and hoped for a beautiful crop. You tell the kids to not eat the fruit, that it has special fruit that can be watched and admired but never eaten. You hope for the relationships sake that children love and respect your heart desires but you have given them choice, because what is love and respect if it is not something that is chosen.

Yet deception and foolishness are perfect allies, and choices are made to eat that which was never meant to be tasted.

I am talking about the first boundary ever crossed. The line of love and respect for God.

God told them to not eat of a certain tree he had planted in the garden. ‘Out of love and respect for me, out of knowing that I have your very best interests at heart please don’t eat from this tree. Genesis 3

Yet temptation won them over to a taste test where they inadvertently bought the whole store.

Love and respect.

Something we all, at a deep subconscious level, hunger after.

 

I believe that deep within us there is a desire we probably have never drilled into. For me as a man it is to be respected, and I believe for a woman it is to be loved.

Larry Crabb writing in The Papa Prayer puts it this way.

A man’s fear is this: Am I adequate? Do I have the weight to handle important tasks, to impact a woman, a child, a friend, in a way that affirms my value? The flip side of desire is terror – the coin has two sides. I want what I can’t stop wanting. Is what I want so desperately – eternal value, the weight to make an impact that lasts beyond the grave – mine to enjoy? A man’s deepest terror is weightlessness, the absence of solid substance that others recognize and appreciate.

Women are not men. Men are not women. The differences extend beyond physiology and anatomy, beyond hairstyle and clothing and pitch of voice and the way each throws a ball or moves on a dance floor or tilts the head when puzzled. The core difference lie in desire. Men long for weightiness, for the substance that impacts.

Women yearn for beauty, for an internal reality that makes eternal impact by drawing others to cherish and honor and protect what they see, by awakening in others their desire for ultimate beauty. Nothing terrifies a woman more than to feel that there is nothing unique bout her being that another could esteem and treasure.

A woman’s fear is this: Am I beautiful, or am I merely useful? A sexual object? A resource that functions well to achieve another’s purpose? The flip side of desire is terror. Can I connect deeply with anyone? Is anyone safe? Will anyone see my beauty, or is there nothing to see that others will honor or enjoy?

We’re not sure. We’re not sure if anybody will do for us what we need so badly but can’t do for ourselves. Men feel like weightless little boys, women like invisible little girls.

With fallen ingenuity, we handle our terror by shoving our deepest longings out of awareness and assuming control over lesser ones. With terror numbed, we live to protect ourselves. We find a relational style that keeps us feeling pretty good , and when something threatens to arouse our deep pain and terror, we retreat or attack.

We do whatever it take to keep ourselves intact.

Larry Crabb PAPA Prayer

Then my mind wanders over to the Bible and the advice that Paul gives for husbands and wives.

Each of you, however, should love his wife as himself, and a wife should respect her husband. Ephesians 5:33

Men are to love their wives with a self sacrificial agape love that encourages the beauty within his wife to shine.

Women are to respect their husband with a form of reverence that encourages his Godly purpose.

I went to the doctor yesterday and was duly walked over to the scales where my weight was taken. ‘Not too bad’ I thought, he didn’t say anything.

This is the physical weight that I am pressing down upon the pavement, or the soil.

My greatest fear is that I am weightless. That nothing I do matters or has impact. I believe that the question that haunts a man is ‘Am I making a difference?’

In my closest relationships, my family, friendships, work, hobbies, is what I am doing making a difference and am I adequate and up to the challenge.

The reward is recognition and appreciation. Its all about respect.

If a mans fear is impotency then perhaps a woman’s fear is invisibility? That no one will see the beauty within her. No love will be shown to that tender beauty within in her soul. No one will draw it out, encourage and nurture it.

So what do boundaries have to do with this?

 

In my last post I introduced the idea that boundaries are really lines of love and respect.

A boundary line of love is crossed when indifference or contempt is shown for the tender beauty within a woman’s soul.

A boundary line of respect is crossed when indifference or contempt is shown for the purpose of a mans soul.

This relational line of love and respect of course transfers over into every relationship we have.

We demonstrate love and respect for ourselves and others by our actions.

Example

I went to the doctor the other day

I show love and respect for my doctor by

  • putting the appointment time in my diary
  • getting to the appointment on time
  • being polite and friendly to the staff
  • being open and honest about my needs
  • answering his questions as best I can
  • taking the medication or advise offered
  • paying the bill

My doctor would show love and respect for me by

  •  keeping to the appointment time (a challenge for any doctor)
  • have a safe clean working environment
  • doing ongoing training
  • listening to both verbal and non verbal communications
  • keeping good notes to refer back to
  • using accurate measuring equipment (I’m sure those scales were wrong)
  • charging only what is appropriate and not exorbitant

When we are indifferent or abusive to a persons needs for love and respect we cross a line, a boundary.

Want to learn more? 

His love motivates her respect; Her respect motivates his love. Emerson Eggriches

I would highly recommend ‘Love and Respect’ by Dr. Emerson Eggriches. He also has a podcast that I have recently started to listen to.

 

Questions to consider and leave a comment.

  1. How can this idea of love and respect be seen in the many relationships we have?
  2. Think to a time when you were deeply hurt. Was a line of Love and Respect crossed?
  3. Do you love and respect yourself? Perhaps shame, guilt, self-loathing have their basis in a crossing of a line of love and respect. What do you think?

Barry Pearman

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How to Help Others Solve Problems

Problems!

We all have them and they can so often create incredible amounts of pressure and stress. A small problem for one person can seem a huge mountain of stress for another. In fact the problem can feel just too big and that there is no way of solving it.

People also come to you with their problems and hope you have some sort of magic wand to fix them.

A burden shared is a burden halved. ― T.A. Webb

In this post, I am going to give you a tool that will take the pressure off you and empower others to see their problem being solved.

The Problem Solving Sheet was developed by Dr. Ian Falloon for Helping people with Psychotic disorders. Here is a link to a research paper.

What I love about this process 
  1. This is a formulated process. It is a step by step process, not just a random ‘free for all’ of throwing out ideas.
  2. It is written down so we don’t have to rely on faulty memory systems to remember who does what.
  3. There is a team approach to finding the solution and carrying it out.
  4. It empowers the person with the problem to take ownership of finding the solution.

Crucial consideration.

Don’t solve the problem for the person. Instead help them find the solution. Involve them all the way through. A solution they are deeply involved in making will be far more motivating than a solution made for them by others.

 

Lets go through the process step by step.

 

Problem Solving Sheet

Problem Solving Sheet by Dr. Ian Faloon

1. Get a team of supporters together. Of course this will include the one needing the problem solved, but it may also include spouse, friend, family members and any one else that you consider would be helpful in solving the problem.

2. Pray. I always like to pray and ask God to be part of the process and to be filling the group with creative ideas.

3. Identify the Problem. This is probably the trickiest part of the process. We often have so many different problems that its hard to choose which one to tackle first. It might be helpful to list them all out and rate them each on a scale of 1-5 with 5 being a problem causing the most stress. You can always come back to the other problems later.
As you go through the process you may well have to redefine what the problem is as more information comes to light.

4. Generate Possible Solutions. List all the possible solutions, don’t worry about the quality of the solutions at this stage. Don’t discount anything. Try to list 10 solutions, be creative. If creativity and fun is encouraged then often new solutions may appear that no one would have thought of. The brain needs to be given permission to explore. So include all ideas even ‘bad’ or ‘silly’ suggestions. Get everyone to suggest something.

DO NOT talk about whether ideas are good or bad at this stage. We don’t want to shut down peoples creativity,

5. Evaluate alternatives. Get the group to say what they think are the main advantages and disadvantages of each suggestion. Start by considering the positive aspects of each solution and then the negative. Do not write these comments down. It is just a general discussion.

6. Decide on a Solution. Choose the solution that can be carried out most easily with the resources (time, skills, materials, money, etc.) that you have at the present time. This could be a solution from the list developed or a combination of some of the ideas suggested.

7. Plan exactly how to carry out the solution. Write down the solution as clearly as possible. List out what needs to be done and by when. Organise how to get anything that is needed to solve the problem. Consider how to cope with likely hitches. Practice any difficult steps. Set a Date and time to review how progress is going with plan

8. Review progress in carrying out the plan. Praise all the efforts people have made. Do a quick review making sure you praise any effort made to solve the problem. You’ve got to accentuate the positive. This is not a time to play blame and shame game. This is a time to review and possibly problem solve any issues that have arisen. The existing plan may need to be revised, or a new plan made.

So here is the link to your free Problem Solving Sheet.

Quotes to consider

I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail. Abraham Maslow    Click to tweet

We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.  Albert Einstein

If you choose to not deal with an issue, then you give up your right of control over the issue and it will select the path of least resistance. Susan Del Gatto

We always hope for the easy fix: the one simple change that will erase a problem in a stroke. But few things in life work this way. Instead, success requires making a hundred small steps go right – one after the other, no slipups, no goofs, everyone pitching in. Atul Gawande

A problem well put is half solved.  John Dewey            Click to tweet

A sum can be put right: but only by going back till you find the error and working it afresh from that point, never by simply going on. C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce

It’s so much easier to suggest solutions when you don’t know too much about the problem. Malcolm S. Forbes     Click to tweet

 

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Barry Pearman

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I am only a … when it is only ‘I’ that is involved

It is only a hammer, but for me it is very significant because it reminds me of a time when I was entrusted with a huge responsibility.

I am only … when it is only ‘I’ that is involved

 

My Father had become very unwell and was unable to run our farm for a few months. It was a busy time of the year and I was entrusted with managing the farm. I was only 18 years old.

There were fences to be built and repaired and I needed a new hammer so I went and bought a top quality Estwing hammer.

Now whenever I pick up that hammer I think of my Dad and how he believed in me. I suppose in some ways it was a coming of age type of thing. An entry into manhood from being a child. He believed in me and had faith in me that I would manage his farm well while he recovered.

Have you ever been thrown a challenge that takes you

out of your comfort zone?

A vision we give to others of who and what they could become has power when it echoes what the spirit has already spoken into their souls. Larry Crabb

Someone believes in you, sees your potential, throws you a quest that takes your breathe away. You are given a ring to carry to Mordor but you are only a little Hobbit.

Recently I have been working at a school as part of my Gumboot Gardening business (checkout some photos on my facebook page).

The first job was to build a compost bin and so I enlisted some of the children. As I gave them my special hammer I could see some of them wonder if they could hit that nail. As they did the others cheered them on and belief and confidence grew within themselves.

What would it be like to have a belief in someone, express that confidence and then see them doubt and dispute it. You extend a hand, express an invitation, yet fear washes over their face and they withdraw into their shell of self protective push backs.

You wonder what it will take to see them come out of their cave of complacency. More encouragement? Perhaps another invitation? Perhaps a commitment to walk alongside them as they face the fear.

The prophet Jeremiah was such a person. He records his invitation from God here.

“Before I shaped you in the womb,

I knew all about you.

Before you saw the light of day,

I had holy plans for you:

A prophet to the nations—

that’s what I had in mind for you.”

But I said, “Hold it, Master God! Look at me.

I don’t know anything. I’m only a boy!”

God told me, “Don’t say, ‘I’m only a boy.’

I’ll tell you where to go and you’ll go there.

I’ll tell you what to say and you’ll say it.

Don’t be afraid of a soul.

I’ll be right there, looking after you.”

God’s Decree. Jeremiah 1:4-8 (The Message)

 

I may be reading too much into the text but I sense Gods disappointment, hurt, and possibly mild anger at Jeremiahs response. Do you sense this too?

God knows Jeremiah inside out, back to front, freckles and pimples. He knows Jeremiah intimately like no one else. God knows the fears and misgivings Jeremiah will and does have about the plan. So he confirms his commitment to Jeremiah with a connection to his heart.

He promises that Jeremiah will not go it alone.

  • I’ll tell you where to go
  • I’ll tell you what to say
  • I’ll be right there, looking after you

Jeremiah, like all of us, had the

‘I’m only a …’

thinking pattern.

For him it was ‘I’m only a boy’ but for many of us we also have a self talk that I believe disappoints the heart of God

  • ‘I’m only a girl’
  • ‘I’m only a housewife’
  • ‘I’m only a rubbish collector’
  • ‘I’m only a teacher’
  • ‘I’m only a kitchen hand’
  • ‘I’m only a …. (fill in your own little verse)’

I am tired of hearing discounting sentences come out of the mouths of God’s beautiful creation. 

I will always be held back in my turtle shell of ‘I am only a …’ while I believe that it is only  ‘I’  that is involved.

When I have chosen to believe that its all up to me then truly I am only a …

The promise from this passage is that God is with you. God loves you too much to leave you the way you are, stuck inside you turtle shell of ‘I’m only’

Do you discount God and what God could do in you?

God saw some thing very special in young Jeremiah and he sees something as equally awesome in you.

Some final words from Eugene Peterson

There is an enormous gap between what we think we can do and what God calls us to do. Our ideas of what we can do or want to do are trivial; God’s ideas for us are grand. God’s call to Jeremiah to be a prophet parallels his call to us to be a person. The excuses we make are plausible; often they are statements of fact, but they are excuses all the same and are disallowed by our Lord who says: ‘Do not say, I am only a youth’ Eugene Peterson Run with the Horses

Question to Consider and leave a comment.

  • Why do we discount ourselves?
  • Do you think it disappoints God with our ‘I’m only a …’ responses?

Barry Pearman

Unfurling of Hope

Unfurling Fern - Koru

 

Sometimes God just jumps out on your daily path of busyness and whispers ‘Look at me’.

It happened like this for me the other day.

I was working on a farm trying to solve some water reticulation problems. As I was walking to the water pump I happened to look down to the path and I noticed this punga stump with new growth coming out of the top.

I have long held a deep connection with what God does in nature and what he calls us to do with each other. You can read more about it on my page Koru.

The Holy Spirit spoke to me a number of insights from this meeting on the path.

  1. Many people have been cut down, discarded, and overlooked. Seeing nothing of the beauty contained within, the person is considered a commodity to be used and then rubbished.
  2. Inner resilience. Some form of strength lies within all of us. Many times this resilience needs to be encouraged and nurtured by others to break out into
  3. Purpose. There is a purpose for every aspect of God’s creation, including you. Just because its a fern it still has a purpose. You have purpose and meaning.
  4. Deep change requires a slowness, imperceptible to most. The change we so want to see generally doesn’t happen quickly. It is often small and incremental, building slowly.
  5. Change can look ugly if that is all you look for. Look closer with an open heart and you will see beauty. That fern, that moss, it may look ugly, but look closer and in it you will see something of Gods creative presence.

This is what my calling is all about. Helping my readers connect with the God of new growth out of old destruction.

“‘For here’s what I’m going to do:

I’m going to take you out of these countries, gather you from all over, and bring you back to your own land.

I’ll pour pure water over you and scrub you clean.

I’ll give you a new heart, put a new spirit in you.

I’ll remove the stone heart from your body and replace it with a heart that’s God-willed, not self-willed.

I’ll put my Spirit in you and make it possible for you to do what I tell you and live by my commands. Ezekial 36: 24- 28

IMG_20140925_081139

 

‘here’s what I’m going to do’.

God is doing something. 

So often we strive, we push, worry, and stress out, while all the time God is doing something often unseen by us. Something unfurling, being released, a newness that comes into the world.

Barry Pearman

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L.O.F.O – Look Out For Opportunities

I was walking  with my wife into our local shopping mall yesterday when we happened to notice a car with a flat tyre. Inside the car was an elderly lady totally unaware of her deflated rear wheel.

We got her attention and I offered to change it for her.

L.O.F.O.

 

As I began to do this she apologised for the state of her car boot which was full of her work material. I had a little laugh as I shared with her the state of my car boot with all my  gardening tools.

L.O.F.O. – Look out for opportunities

As we chatted she shared that she needed a gardener to come and do some work on her little garden. She lives closeby to where I live so this was excellent news.

Just the previous day I had prayed a little prayer asking for some more gardening opportunites to come my way. 5 minutes later I had an email from a Real Estate agent asking me to some work and now another job.

L.O.F.O. – Look out for opportunities

I wonder how many times God puts opportunities to engage with him in various ways right in front of us but we miss them. It maybe a work situation, but it may also be an opportunity to give thanks to someone, to praise God, to be still.

L.O.F.O. – Look out for opportunities is a phrase I learnt from Dave Riddell and mostly it applies, I have always felt, to work situations.

I have spent many years supporting people with Mental Illness who are generally supported on Government funded benefits. I encourage them to L.O.F.O. – Look out for opportunities. It may be something as simple as changing a flat tyre but who knows where that may lead.

L.O.F.O. always has an element of risk.

There is risk when we take a new initiative. Will it work? Will I look a fool? What will others think?

These little sentences can be some of the voices that build a resistance and yet if we don’t take that next step we may well stay thirsty in a desert.

The Saga of Desert Pete

A note Found in the Desert beside an old rusty pump-

“Dear Friend,

This pump is all right as of June 1932. I put a new sucker washer in it and it should last for at least five years. But the washer dries out and the pump has to be primed. So under the white rock to the north I’ve buried a bottle of water, out of the sun and corked up.

There’s enough water in the bottle to prime the pump, but not if you take a drink first.
Pour about one-fourth of the water and let it soak the leather washer. Then pour in the rest medium fast and pump like crazy. You’ll get water.

This well has never run dry. Have some faith. Then, when you’ve pumped all the water you need, fill the bottle and put it back where you found it for the next feller who travels
this path.

“Desert Pete”

There is always a risk you have to take in the taking up of opportunities. A steeping out of your comfort zone, an interruption to your plans,  the hands getting dirty ( changing tyres is dirty business), a pouring out of a precious resource.

Good mental health is seen when we L.O.F.O – look out for opportunities.

  • Opportunities to give thanks
  • Opportunities to worship
  • Opportunities to serve
  • Opportunities to be quiet and listen for Gods still small voice
  • Opportunities to encourage
  • Opportunities to love
  • Opportunities to …

Mental Illness often has an element of inward internalisation, much like a snail withdrawing inside its shell.

A habit of self absorption about the mental internal struggles faced can become the norm. No snail ever moves forward while it remains bound within its shell.

Today, please L.O.F.O. – Look out for opportunities and then come back to this post and share the opportunity presented to you and the outcome.

What is a L.O.F.O. – Look out for opportunity example you would like to share below.

Barry Pearman

Photo Credit: Afroswede via Compfight cc

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A Simple Sentence can keep you Focused Amidst the Noise

Places of Beauty and Rest

If you could capture why you do what you do into one simple short sentence what would that sentence say?

 

A few weeks ago I ran a course on Facebook for the church I attend. Prior to the course starting I asked them to watch a TED Talk by Simon Sinek. In this presentation he goes through the concept of understanding your ‘why’. To get a full understanding of this you will need to check out the video and the book.

For me, since I have moved out of being a pastor, I have taken up many new jobs.

So here are my simple sentences  that I have constructed around some of my activities

Turning the Page – Inspiring Mental Health. As I develop content whether it be words or pictures I have this sentence guiding my heart. Will this content inspire Mental health.

 Connection NZ – Social Media for people like you. As I develop content and coach people around how to social media I want to connect to the reality of what they are struggling with. They are people just like me who have limited time and don’t have a budget for the fancy stuff.

TrugNZ – Practical, timeless and charming. As I build these lovely little garden/ gift baskets I am making sure they look great, can be used for all sorts of things and that they aren’t going to break under normal use.

Gardening – Creating places of beauty and rest. This is becoming one of favorite little sentences. Over the past year it has been my privilege to do some gardening for people throughout our city of Auckland. As I prune, weed, mulch, make compost, set up irrigation systems and lots more this little sentence of Creating places of beauty and rest’ hums away in the background. I want to create gardens where people can come and find a sense of Gods creative beauty and rest. Recently I have been sharing some of the beautiful flowers and scenes I encounter on a daily basis on my various social media platforms – Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter.

Having a simple sentence will enhance your mental health through helping you to focus on and connect with something very deep within your soul.

Mission statement, vision statement etc all sound too formal and business like. I prefer ‘Simple Sentence’.

So what is your ‘Simple Sentence’? Leave a comment and share with me your simple sentence.

Grace and Peace

Barry Pearman

p.s. the photo above is from one of the gardens I am helping create as a place of beauty and rest

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Justice Goes Beyond An Accountability Of Wrongdoing

For the Lord is a God of justice

We’ve made justice too small.

 

Within the word and the way we use it we have the correct and general understanding of things made right.

We speak about ‘leaving wrongs done’ to God, for he will ‘make things right’ and we are correct.

It is part of what enables our forgiveness in the face of hurts and harms done to us. Within it we carry an expectation of retribution and recompense; we are glad because those who have done wrong will get it.

Yet, if we were honest, we may believe that God will carry out our vengeance on our behalf.

If we continue to peel back our heart attitude we may find that we believe that God’s justice indicates that all the bad people will hang in hell thank-you very much. And we are glad in an odd sick way of our own. You see, we’ve not yet grasped the depths of God’s justice.

When we say we want justice we are often really saying we want retribution, we want those who have done wrong to be punished.

But what if God making things right means that your perpetrator will be brought to healing and wholeness in the Lord? What if this is the ultimate intention of the heart of God towards all people?

We are glad that Christ carried our sins on the cross, we are not so glad that he carried the sins of the rapist and the murderer on the cross. This somehow seems unfair to us, an injustice even. We forget that God’s ways are higher than our ways.

Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; mercy and truth go before Your face. Psalm 89:14

The thing is, we can choose to live by our definition of justice. We can wait on the Lord to make things right in our lives, to restore the wrongs and to exact retribution from those who have harmed us. Or we can choose to live by the fuller definition of justice, where all things are made right but where this includes those who have harmed us.

The one stops short of the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the other enters in the Kingdom of God in all it’s glory.

I had a dream earlier this year. In it I knew the name of the teenager who raped me when I was a girl. And in my dream I put my hand on his shoulder and declared deep healing and the touch of the Lord over him. I awoke with indescribable joy and delight. And even though it was a dream I can only say that it was one of the greatest privileges of my life. The joy lasted for days.

We forget that Jesus Christ died for the sins of the whole world. This means that every sin perpetrated against you and I has already been carried at the cross. This means that we can step away from our demands for retribution and recompense and we can extend fullness of healing and God’s plan for making things right.

Will justice need to be brought for the freedom of victims all around the world? Of course.

We must do the hard work in our world of bringing criminal activity to an end. But justice goes far beyond the accountability of wrongdoing, it goes to the heart and soul of what went wrong in the first place.

God is intent on making right what went wrong in the life of a girl made a slave, and God is intent on making right what went wrong in the life the slaveholder. All of us have opportunity of restoration, deep profound restoration, and this is the fullness of justice we are called to uphold and to advocate for all.

So the next time you hear yourself saying, “Yes God will bring justice to him” accompany it with the good-will of healing and restoration deep into the heart and being of that one. For here we participate in the expansive work and heart of our Lord and we participate in
bringing the Kingdom of God to earth.

Cyndy Lavioe

Cyndy Lavioe is a coach by trade and a pastor by heart and Executive Director of  Capturing Courage International Ministries  equipping and encouraging indigenous pastors around the world. You can follow her on Twitter  and her personal Blog cyndylavoie.comcyndy laviore

 

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People change when they know they are embraced

 

It was a place where I felt embraced and others felt it too.

It wasn’t so much a physical embrace like a hug. It was more I knowing that here in this place, this relationship I was both invited to give something of myself and to receive something.

It wasn’t a power struggle where others would withhold until they received some met need. It wasnt a life sucking relationship like a tick on a dog.

It is a relationship of mutual self giving self sacrificial agape love. Continue reading

Do You Have A Soul Believer? 3 Qualities To Look For

When the crisis hits you need someone who believes in you. Someone who will be like a rock of confidence. While you are wobbly and weak they are steady and sure .

 

For that next step in recovery you have to know someone is there, right beside you. Not to tell you off, chastise you or to add weight to your wounds. But someone who believes in you even if you fail for 100th time.

Soul Believers take the step across the threshold of unknowing. They hold hands and whisper words to you that cause your heart to hope.

3 Qualities of Soul Believers

1. Soul Believers accept your past

We all have one. A shadow that follows us around that we would rather not look at. We have a history that may at times haunt and engulf us. We try to repress it and force it down but up it comes, bubbling away. Leaking out at times. So we hide away, but on a mask and join fellow actors on the stage of pretense.

Secrets come in all shapes and sizes. Burdens carried that sculpt our thinking into behavioral patterns of hiddenness. But who will seek out the secrets of one’s soul? Not many as it is a journey into a dark cavern of unknowing and inadequacy. Where we can’t be in control of the outcome.

Soul Believers know that you have a past because they have explored their own past and have learned to sow seeds of grace into it. They have learnt that no one is immune from pain and failure.

They accept you, past and all.

I only preach from my scars, not my wounds. Nadia Bolz-Weber

In various ways they express that nothing you have done or that has been done to you will affect their compassionate love towards you.

This shocks you, could it be true? You take a cautious step forward and discover hope. You discover that they too have also been wounded. The wounds have healed and are now scars, reminders of past skirmishes of the soul.

Soul Believers have scars and are willing for you to touch them and ask questions. Remember how Jesus invited Thomas to place his fingers in his wounds? Soul believers express personal vulnerability.

2. Soul Believers engage with your present

Its not all a ‘pondering over the past’, its also a connecting with your present reality. Food parcels,  housing issues, child care, transport. How can we problem solve these day to day life issues together?

Soul believers know that you face struggles in your everyday life. This present reality of bills to pay and meals to make is an invitation to learn and grow in new skills and wisdom. To discover God midst the washing of pots and pans, just as Brother Lawrence did.

The difficulties of life do not have to be unbearable. It is the way we look at them – through faith or unbelief – that makes them seem so. We must be convinced that our Father is full of love for us and that He only permits trials to come our way for our own good. Brother Lawrence

Soul Believers point us to the presence of Christ midst the trials.

3. Soul Believers envision your future

They not only accept your past and engage with the present, they also have a belief that there is a beautiful ‘God rich’ future ahead of you. Mountains look most formidable at the bottom. Soul believers help you take one step at a time because they see the mountain as moments of transformation.

A vision we give to others of who and what they could become has power when it echoes what the spirit has already spoken into their souls. Larry Crabb

Perhaps they have been this route themselves and now, walking beside you, they hold out a candle into the darkness of the night.

Perhaps they have crafted a vision letter, something that has been stirred up in their soul by the Spirit of God. Not a wish list of dreams, but of what is possible when the heart is fully given over to the Narrow Path experience of walking Gods way.

Is being a Soul Believer easy?

No, and never. It can be torturous and painful at times. Its not for the faint of heart and for those who like simple ‘band-aid’ solutions.

There are times when I gladly walk on past the dehumanized man, beaten and stripped naked in the ditch that Jesus described in the message of the Good Samaritan.

I have to.

Perhaps Christ does not call me to attend to every wounded soul, but to the ones that he knows I and I alone can be a Soul Believer for.

So in this there is a perilous invitation to being attentive to hear his whisper of invitation. ‘This one is for you’

To love is not to wish good for another person, it is to bear another’s burden; that is, to bear what is painful to you and which you do not bear willingly. Dr Larry Crabb

Question to Consider

Who has believed in you? What qualities did they demonstrate?

Barry Pearman
Photo Credit: marfis75 via Compfight cc

 

3 Ways to Disempower The Darkside Of Social Media

3 Ways to Disempower The Darkside Of Social Media

3 Ways to Disempower The Darkside Of Social MediaSocial Media is a great way of connecting with people and sharing content.

 

There is so much creativity out there and Social Media provides a great outlet for such creativity.

 There is however a dark side, a shadow, a hidden side to this wonderful new information service.

My wife and I were out having lunch the other day in a cafe. Chatting and talking about nothing really at all when I happened to see a young couple take a seat at the table next to us.

After about five minutes I noticed that both of them had their cell phones out, pouring over whatever was glowing from the screen. Texts, Tweets, Facebook updates, I don’t know what they were looking at.

One thing that wasn’t happening was that they were not growing in relational community with each other through conversation. There wasn’t a free flowing conversation happening. Just scrolling, taping and gazing.

Of course there is the more obvious dark side of Cyber bullying.

Recently we have had the suicide of New Zealand model Charlottle Dawson who was plagued by bullies and trolls through Twitter. She was seeing a therapist, had good friends, had everything seemingly going for her, yet was depressed and swamped by darkness.

I wonder about her.

  • What was happening deep inside her, in the soul, the place where cosmetics could not mask?
  • What need, within in her, was being met through a small screen?
  • Was there a relational intimacy she was craving for and hoped to find through a tweet?

Does social media have the potential to subtly allure us away from the real deal?

We don’t generally look at dark sides.

We prefer them to stay in the shadows. Looking at the dark side of activities we are involved in requires some introspection.

Have you noticed any dark sides to Social Media?

As a Christian here is how I see it.

God is a relational being. The relationship between Father, Son and Spirit is perfect. We don’t know what perfect is, but in this triune relationship there is perfect intimacy – In-to-me-see.

Nothing is hidden, everything is revealed, known, enjoyed, celebrated. There is no bullying or manipulation, there is no ‘keeping one’s distance’.

The best way I can describe this relationship is that its a kind of a dance,

In Christianity God is not a static thing – not even a person – but a dynamic, pulsating activity, a life, almost a kind of drama. Almost, if you will not think me irreverent, a kind of dance C.S. Lewis

We were made for this type of dance. An intimate free flowing enjoyment of each other with no strings attached.

If we are image bearers, and we are designed to experience joy depending on the quality of our relationships, then it follows from that, that when God created us, He created us with the capacities to enjoy relationships.

He made us capable as human beings, to enter in to the kind of relationship that the Father, Son, and Spirit have been enjoying from an eternity past. Dogs and cats form certain kinds of relationships, as dog owners and cat owners would attest to, but they don’t have the capacity to relate the way that the Trinity relates.

Dogs can wag their tails when their master comes home, but they can’t relate with the kind of soul-to-soul connection that you and I can relate with. Larry Crabb

We have moved away from this garden of delight. We still however crave and long for this relational ‘in-to-me-see’. Relationship is what we were created for, but now we have a second hand model that keeps on breaking down.

Connection, deep connection, we long for it, if we are honest. We will go to just about any means to achieve it. We are journeyers and we can’t travel alone.

Perhaps this is why pornography is addictive and thrives on the Internet like a tick on a dog. Sucking off the willing and leaving them gutted in return. The thrill of hormonal falsity without the challenge and risk of relational reality.

Providing a relatively risk free buzz where you are in control, supposedly. Getting what you want, when you want it, and without having to risk relational vulnerability.

Social Media provides a service of relationship between you and content. It might be a blogpost such as you are reading now. It might be someones tweets, a picture, a video.

You are being served up a platter of information. Some of which is good and wholesome and some down right disgusting. All available at the click of a button.

The dark side of Social Media, I believe, is that it can a distraction from the real deal.

Have a look at this clip from one of my favourite kids movies – Wall-e.

 


In overusing Social Media, are we potentially dumbing ourselves down from the ability to connect at a deep level to those physically close to us.

I wonder, how long can you maintain a conversation with another person face to face?

Not just on the fluffy stuff, but going deep. Where you truly explore what is happening in the soul, where gold is discovered midst the rubble, and what most needs hope is touched. 

When was the last time that happened for you? Does Social Media help or hinder this to occur?

You can be lonely in a crowded room. You can be even more lonely when there is 33 million people in the room

 3 ways to disempower the dark side of Social Media

1. Do an assessment

Just for a day, go without any Social Media involvement. Turn off your notifications, and don’t go and look at the latest posts. Avoid opening any emails relating to Social Media. Some of you who use Social Media for your work may have to plan for this and let some of your contacts know the plan you have.

What do you notice at the end of the day?

What has having a fast of Social Media meant for you?

Did you fidget, were you anxious about what was happening out there in Social Media land? Did it free you up for some other activities?

Was a day long enough? Maybe try two days or a week or …

2. Build new habits that don’t require a screen.

flower

Something I have been doing lately as a Spiritual habit is to just sit and focus on a flower. Just to have a period of unhurried leisure and focus in on something God has made. Its tangible and tactile, you can feel it, smell it, be amazed by all the variance of colours and textures. The layers upon layers of creativity all there for us to see, and no screen needed.

Being present to God requires a slowing down, a stilling of the soul and a listening for the ‘this is for you’ words of God. You just can’t get that in a tweet.

I have been doing this lately and just sharing some of my pictures on Instagram and then on to Facebook and Twitter profiles. It didn’t require a screen to connect with God, but there was an invite to share it with the world.

3. Be intentional in cultivating a few real relationships.

I would love to have deeper relationships with so many people but I am but one. Time is limited so it is better to connect deeply with a few than spread it millimetre thin for many.

Going deep with a few is better than being shallow with many. It requires risk and vulnerability. Its not so easy to disengage with and it requires negotiation. Patience and listening are needed. Time needs to be prioritized for the flower of deep relationship to bloom.

Questions to consider and leave a comment

  1. In what ways does Social Media impact real relationships, both positively and negatively.
  2. What are both the obvious and subtle unseen ways Social Media impacts our ability to connect deeply?

Barry Pearman

Photo Credit: Meet the Media Guru via Compfight cc

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