Practical Family Living News

Volume 23, Issue 4Fall 2016,

Core Questions

Everyone has soul questions that run deep through their hearts and minds. These questions have to do with our very existence, purpose, and abilities. These questions may nag in the middle of the night or be a constant thought each day. And, until they’re answered they can direct our lives and bring deep pain. Often, without careful thought we can spend our lives trying to answer these questions without even having identified them. This is trying to heal a wound on a foot by putting a band-aid on a head. It’s quite typical for a person to work hard to move from uncomfortable to comfortable without figuring out the reason for the discomfort. It’s also rather simple to medicate discomfort and pain. A nice donut, coffee, drink, or trip to the internet will often do the trick, albeit temporarily. But, once the distraction or numbing comfort of a substance wears off the source of the discomfort is still there. There is only one way to escape from this slavish cycle, and that’s to identify the source of the pain. Usually it runs deep and far back; deep wounds from childhood and significant relationships that hit our core and cause us to question (or not even develop) significance, security, and/or strength. Many of these questions come with their own set of lies. I’m only safe if I’m invisible. I’m only valuable if I flaunt my body. I’m strong if I don’t have feelings. And so, the questions nag and the lies talk and we are stuck searching after things for which we don’t even know we’re searching. A slavery, indeed. But, there with life comes hope! These core questions can be found and asked out loud. The core lies can be identified and countered with truth. God himself, healthy relationships, therapy, workbooks, groups, Bible studies and other things can all bring light and healing. Galatians 5:1 - It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

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Righteous Anger

“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry Ephesians 4:26 (NIV) Anger is one of the most uncomfortable emotions that we all experience from time to time. Some of us are easily angered; whereas, others are slow to anger. For some, anger is expressed outwardly and for others anger is turned inward, leading to depression. The Bible is filled with verses that instruct us on handling our anger. Although anger is a God given emotion, our anger can be righteous or unrighteous. Righteous anger stems out of experiencing an injustice, being sinned against or when God is being mocked. For example, in the gospel of John, we learn that Jesus turned the tables over of the money changers because God’s house had been turned into a den of robbers. Another example of righteous anger is when someone is falsely accused of wrong doing. When we experience righteous anger, we are to bring our thoughts and feelings to The Lord and trust that He will make things right in His way and in His time. Scripture is clear that we are not to seek revenge or to retaliate. Unrighteous anger is self focused and prideful. It is anger that stems from not getting what we want, when we want or how we want. An example of unrighteous anger from the Old Testament is when King Saul was jealous that the Israelites were praising David for his military conquests. King Saul was not receiving the accolades that he wanted and thought were his due. A modern example of unrighteous anger is road rage, when we cannot get where we want, when we want to go. When we experience unrighteous anger, we need to first seek out The Lord and repent for our thoughts and attitudes and ask Him for a renewing of our heart and mind. Regardless of whether our anger is righteous or unrighteous, we are to seek out The Lord for guidance and wisdom as to how to handle our anger so that in our anger we do not sin. We are also to go to Him right away so that the sun does not go down on our anger. If anger, even righteous anger, is allowed to fester it can become unrighteous anger.

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Rambling Resentments

Bitter discontent at being treated unfairly. We all experience it. People, circumstances and situations lingering deep within our hearts and minds. The result is a life robbed of peace and rest. Just when you think you have it conquered the feelings come rambling quickly to the surface. Resentments create fear about our future; keeping us unfocused on the reality of God’s promise to not harm us but to give us hope (Jeremiah 29:33). Day to day life becomes a constant battle to fight off angry or defensive responses to those who attempt to speak truth to us. The love of God is the only way out. Trusting His love remains the same provides strength and courage to keep moving forward. Resentments keep us stuck in the past; repeatedly reliving old memories rather than remembering with acceptance the fact they are a part of our life experience. Moving forward requires a number of things from each of us. Here are some steps to consider: 1. Acknowledge the existence of resentment. I don’t know of too many people who enjoy this step. However, it is absolutely necessary. We cannot move forward remaining in denial that resentments exist. This means we may temporarily feel worse before we feel better. 2. List all the people who have said or done something that is hurtful to you. Make sure you note what was done to whom. This may take some time and you will relive some of the emotions. Take this steps in small pieces. 3. Next…this is the hard part, write down how you contributed to the situation or offense. Maybe you were dishonest, withholding, or didn’t speak up when you had the chance. No matter the offense, write your part down in black and white. 4. List the areas of your life that were affected and how because of the resentment. 5. Find a trusted friend or prayer partner to share each of the events with, praying over them asking God to forgive you for your part. 6. Last but not least, as the Lord directs, apologize for your part to the person listed (if possible) for your part in the situation. Remember to not insist they apologize. This is about you walking towards freedom and away from bitterness. What they do or don’t do is between them and the Lord. Paul states in Acts 24: 16 that he works to have a clear conscience before God and before men. This is our pattern to follow. No one step can be successful unless we admit to ourselves the resentments that ramble around in our minds. It is the first step in moving away from the rambles into the rest God has promised us.

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Five Steps in Forgiving

Forgiveness is not sympathy. Forgiveness is not denying unfairness. Forgiveness does not have to forget. Forgiveness may not mean reconciliation. Forgiveness is a choice. “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us...” 1. The fog lifts. The first step in forgiveness is moving toward learning how the offense has affected you and the consequences of it in your life. When the fog of what has happened begins to lift, moving forward is possible. 2. Fake forgiveness hurts you. The second step is to understand that you have a choice in the matter. In this span of time, it occurs to the offended that to hold back forgiveness is to hurt one’s self. This is not a new understanding of the human condition. A fake “I forgive you,” brings a veneer of balance. However, this will eventually crumble. 3. Who owns what? The third step produces a more full understanding of the offense and/or the offender. This does not mean liking or being sympathetic to the offender. In this part of the journey, letting go of anger and hurt depersonalizes the unfair actions of the offender. A major accomplishment here is knowing the harmful actions absolutely do not belong to you as a responsible party or as punishment. 4. Give yourself a break. The fourth step, while not minimizing the offense, is the realization that the continuing to hang on to “unresolve” because of bitterness, confusion, or even an identity as a wounded person, keeps the perpetration and perpetrator much too close. 5. Wisdom from pain. The fifth step is growth that comes from being an overcomer. Forgiveness deepens us. New meaning is possible in suffering. A new purpose in life for having suffered unjustly is out there. It is also possible in this letting go, to discover our own need to ask for forgiveness from others. Inspired by the writing of Robert Enright

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