With a friend you can face the worst

9-10 It’s better to have a partner than go it alone.
Share the work, share the wealth.
And if one falls down, the other helps,
But if there’s no one to help, tough!

11 Two in a bed warm each other.
Alone, you shiver all night.

12 By yourself you’re unprotected.
With a friend you can face the worst.
Can you round up a third?
A three-stranded rope isn’t easily snapped

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (The Message)

I love the verse “With a friend you can face the worst” (Ecclesiastes 4:12). We are not meant to do life alone. Often times when life becomes difficult, when we become mad or sad, we draw away to be by ourselves. We shut the door on life and on people but what we should be doing is opening up to the people who we call our covenant friends and face “the worst” together.

A covenant friend is someone you have a close bond with. It doesn’t mean that we are going to do everything together, but we are going to really know each other. We are building intimacy together, trust, a safe haven and doing life like a family.

Sometimes it is hard to open up and to admit to somebody else that you have needs and that you are facing “the worst”; that you have a need for somebody to listen to you, to give you advice and direction and to walk with you through tough emotions and circumstances. It is hard to open up because you think to yourself are my needs too big for you and will my needs be met? If I have needs are you going to pull away from me because now I am in a needy season and that is too much for you to handle.

Sharing with someone will not necessarily fix the problem you are facing but it will open you up and allow you to be vulnerable and let people in to see the real you. It will help to lift the burden you feel and help you to realise that you are not alone.

If we want to have safe covenant relationships we have to be that person first. You need to be the safe person that when your friend shares with you they know that you are not going to break their confidence. They know that you will walk through the good times and the bad times with them and that you will not abandon them when things get tough.

12 By yourself you’re unprotected.
With a friend you can face the worst.
Can you round up a third?
A three-stranded rope isn’t easily snapped.

I encourage you to build a strong community around you. Find your people, your tribe your covenant friends. People with whom you can take a risk with, be vulnerable with and do life with. Be that friend for others that you wish you had.

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It is ok to make a mistake

Did you know that it is ok to make a mistake?

I used to be so afraid of making a mistake and so afraid of not being able to do something well that I just did not do anything at all. The fear of making a mistake kept me paralyzed. It kept me standing in the exact same position in life, never moving forward, never learning and never growing.

In the past when I had been brave enough to move out of my comfort zone, when I made a mistake I would think that I am not smart enough, not talented enough, not gifted enough, not good enough, I’m just not enough. But when will I ever be enough?

When I failed and made mistakes I would feel ashamed. I would then hide so that others wouldn’t see the real me. I was afraid that if people saw the real me, with all of my faults and mistakes, then they won’t like me and I will not be enough.

One thing that I have come to understand is that our mistakes do not define who we are.

We need to create a culture around us that says it is ok if you make a mistake and I will not define you by your mistakes. We need people in our lives that will walk with us as we journey through our mistakes, helping us to see where we went wrong and how we can learn and grow from that. We need to remain humble and vulnerable.

 It is all about how we finish. Our mistakes are an important part of our journey. Mistakes show us what we need to adjust in our life to help us move towards our destiny. Romans 8:28 says, “God works everything out for good…” That means even our mistakes!

Mistakes are part of the process of learning, as well as preparing us to fulfill our destiny. We need to be willing to take a risk, to step out and possibly make mistakes if we are going to reach our God given destiny as world changers and history makers.

I can’t see the forest for the trees

Have you heard of the saying that you can’t see the forest for the trees?

When you are too close to a situation you need to step back and get a little perspective and see the bigger picture. When you step back you will notice there was a whole forest you couldn’t see before because you were too close, and too focused on the one tree in front of you.

I can be guilty of this. I get so focused in on the one problem that I fail to see the bigger picture around me. I am in the throws of motherhood at the moment, raising four small children. Children go through different stages or phases, some lovely and some completely difficult that it makes you want to tear your hair out.

I get so caught up in the fact that my child is driving me nuts with (and insert here any particular behavior that may drive you crazy) that I forget about all of the wonderful, lovely and sweet aspects of that child’s nature.

I have to step back and take a look around me and find something that is good and wonderful about them and choose to celebrate that. I have to choose to focus on that for a little while and remind myself of who they really are. They are not just this one horrible phase that they are going through right now but they are actually also this good and wonderful person and I am going to highlight that and celebrate that about them.

By stepping back and looking at the bigger picture of who that child really is I change my attitude about them and it changes the way I then approach the other not so nice thing that they are doing.

You can take this example and apply it to any difficult situation that you may be facing. Take a step back from that thing that is in front of you and take a look around. Find something that is going good in your life and take the time to stop and celebrate that. When you step back you will get a different perspective and you will see the beautiful forest and not just the one tree in front of you.

I will not let shame defeat me

I have not been to work out at the gym in a few weeks; life has become so busy that working out has slipped low on my list of things to do. Because I have not been working out lately with each bite of chocolate or cake that I eat I have been feeling extra guilty over it. I have gone down the path of thinking that if I hate my body enough that will be the thing I need to motivate me to always exercise and lead a balanced life.

But let me tell you that it is not working. This way of thinking is conditional love, I will only like myself or love myself when I look a certain way. I think that if I stop loving myself when I make a mistake it will help me to not make any more mistakes; it is like I am punishing myself. If I punish myself when I fail I will do better next time. That never works, that is shame.

Shame is the most defeating thing. Once I begin to walk in shame I want to stop trying. I give up and give in. When I feel shame I put a wall up around myself, protecting me from what I think that other people think of me. Shame also cuts me off from God (like in the garden of Eden) it stops my ability to receive love and most of the time I need love the most to fix what is going on for why I have shame in the first place.

Shame does the opposite of everything I want and I can no longer use shame to motivate myself. I need to break down the walls and let love come in. The perfect love of the Father is what sets me right once again; it picks me up and puts my feet back on solid ground. When I receive love from the Father it helps me to see myself as He sees me, and it helps me to love myself unconditionally.

So I stop and ask God what are His favorite things about me right here and right now, what is it that He loves about me. I learn to distinguish between what are my thoughts about myself and what are Gods thoughts about me. I must learn to manage my inner thought life. I need to listen to the truth about myself and then speak it out over myself. I speak it out until I believe it.

Only I have the authority over my thinking, my body, my soul and my mind. How I treat myself is so important because it will affect how I relate to the rest of the world.

I know that I am not the only one who struggles in this area. If you can identify with me then I encourage you to own the truth and speak it out over yourself too.

The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit. Proverbs 18:21

God loves us no matter what. Learn to love yourself as much as the Father loves you. We need to see ourselves with our Fathers eyes and stop using shame to motivate us.

Love unconditional

love

I am on a journey to loving myself. Not loving myself in a vain or conceited way that we often think about when we say somebody loves themselves, but that I love myself in a way that I am so comfortable in my skin and so comfortable with who I am that nothing gets in the way of me being the very person who God has created me to be.

One thing that I am learning is that I need to love myself unconditionally. I need to love myself with no conditions or boundaries in place. If I place conditions on loving myself then my self-talk looks like this… If I mess something up or if I fail at something then I stop loving myself.

When I stop loving myself it looks like this… I beat myself up internally, I tell myself that I am no good and so I stop trying at all. I hide away and put walls up around myself to protect me from other people. If I think terribly of myself then what do other people think of me? So I just hide away. All my thoughts are negative and self loathing.

I am not perfect, in fact I am far from it, so I am going to mess some stuff up. I am going to make mistakes, say things that I really shouldn’t say and do things that I wish that I hadn’t done. If I stopped loving and thinking kindly of myself every time that I messed up then I would hide away from the world permanently.

If I love myself unconditionally then my self-talk looks like this… no matter how great I do at something or how poorly I do, I choose to love myself. I choose to love myself no matter the outcome, before I even step out and do something; I am going to love myself no matter what.

I will choose not to beat myself up, not to sew seeds of doubt and self-condemnation. Just because I mess up every now and then does not make me a terrible person, I am flawed and I will make mistakes but that does not change who God has made me to be.

So many of the battles that we face are battles of the mind. Taking captive of our thoughts is so important and if we can take a hold of our thoughts towards our selves and keep them always framed in a language of love then we will be well on our way to loving ourselves well and well on our way to being the person that God created us to be.