September 21, 2017

Life’s Healing Choices: Chapter 8 – Recycling the Pain (pgs 241-267)

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Galatians 6:1-2
My friends, you are spiritual. So if someone is trapped in sin, you should gently lead that person back to the right path. But watch out, and don’t be tempted yourself. You obey the law of Christ when you offer each other a helping hand.” (CEV)
At the beginning of this study in January, I had many comments on apprehensions, anxieties, and generalized worries about getting back in to the memories & experiences of the past. As the study progressed, I’ve been able to see transformations in our participants. Some have had small “AHA” moments on how the past has shaped today. Others have had eye-opening revelations. Where ever this study has taken you, God has blessed your life.
We are heading in to our final week of Life’s Healing Choices, but this is not the final week of our journey. John Baker tells us, in the Celebrate Recover Participant Guide 4, “Having had a spiritual experience as the result of these steps, we try to carry this message to others and to practice these principles in all our affairs.” Instead of the focus remaining on healing your personal hurts, it’s time to consider how others can benefit from our experiences. Baker references “recycling the pain.”
Recycle — to adapt or convert something to a new use
When we faced the events that shaped our attitudes, addictions, thoughts or behaviors, we never would have imagined that good would come out of it. Romans 8:28 states: And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” (NLT)
God truly does have an amazing plan for His children. He does not sit around looking for ways to hurt us, complicate our lives, or bring us pain. This comes from our choices in life. But He does promise to use ALL things for His good purpose. So when I consider the experiences of my past, I need to look to ways my experiences can help others. What did I learn from these events that can be passed on to another, give hope and encouragement?
We’re reminded that God “does His best work through weak people”

2 Cor 12:7 -10 tells us, “Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me, My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness. Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.” (The Message)
If you had asked me in 2001 what good would ever come from the chaos around me, I would have thrown up my hands and said “Nothing!” I never could have imagined that God would restore my heart and soul to the point of remarriage, blending families, and step-parenting. And, I certainly wouldn’t have ever guessed He would use me in a ministry position like Girlfriends Coffee Hour! But in the midst of everything, I didn’t blame God or accuse Him of doing things to me. I knew He didn’t want me to experience pain, but He promised to use whatever I did experience for the positive.
As a parent, I see the same type of things with my kids. I don’t sit around thinking of ways to inflict pain or hardship in their lives (though they may think otherwise with the household rules!), but I do know that their teenage minds will make decisions that sometimes bring painful consequences. My goal as mom is to help them learn from the experience, give suggestions to overcome, and help them move forward. There is a purpose behind all that we experience, whether we want to admit it or not.

God does the same for us through His Word, our interactions with fellow believers, and in daily prayers with Him. Baker shares that , “people are not helped by our strengths; they’re helped when we’re honest about our weaknesses … the proof that you are truly recovering is when you begin to focus outside yourself, when you stop being absorbed with your needs, your hurts, your problems. Recovery is evident when you being to say, ‘How can I help others?”” pg.242
This week we’ll look more closely at the following questions:

  • Why does God allow pain?
  • How can we use our pain to help others?

A few verses to ponder this week:
Ecclesiastes 4:9 -1 2 NLT
Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.

2 Corinthians 1:3-5
All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort—we get a full measure of that, too. (The Message)

James 1:22 NLT
But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.

 

Your Reading Assignment this Week

Monday – Chapter 8 Sharing the Choice – Laurie
Tuesday – Why does God Allow Pain? – Leslie
Wednesday – How to Use our Pain – Kim
Thursday – Make the Choice – Amy
Friday – Recap of the week – Laurie

Let’s Pray:

Lord, we thank You because You are ever-present in our lives. No matter what we experience, You are there with us to give us strength, courage, comfort through each and every step. Even as we look to heal from our past experience, we can hold hope in Your promise to work ALL things for good in those who live according to Your will. As our Heavenly Father, You desire the best for Your children. Continue to guide us as we continue to learn more about trusting You. Amen.

Power Verses for Chapter 8
Matthew 10:8
Matthew 6:24
2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Deuteronomy 4:9
James 2:17
Ephesians 4:1
2 Corinthians 3:18
Hebrews 10:24
Romans 12: 9, 13
Galatians 6:1
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

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If you would like to send Amy a private email in regards to this blog, please email her at: Amy@girlfriendscoffeehour.com

Life’s Healing Choices: Chapter 7 – Maintaining the Momentum (pp 220-239)

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PRAY
John Baker provides so much amazing information in this week’s Make the Choice section. He begins by giving examples on how we can pray using Scriptures, and how a prayer familiar to most of us (The Lord’s Prayer) relates to the choices we’ve been learning. I will be using portions of Baker’s examples for you today.

Scripture: Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be Your name…
Choice 1: Realize I am not God
Choice 2: Earnestly believe that God exists

Scripture: Your Kingdom come…
Choice 8: Yield myself to God to be used

Scripture: Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven…
Choice 5: Voluntarily submit to God’s changes

Scripture: Give us our daily bread…
Choice 3: Consciously choose to commit…to Christ’s care

Scripture: Forgive us our debts…
Choice 4: Openly examine and confess my faults

Scripture: As we have also forgiven our debtors…
Choice 6: Evaluate all my relationships

Scripture: And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one…
Choice 7: Reserve a daily time with God

WRITE –
Through the week’s study we have looked at ways to prevent relapse of our bad habits by creating a new habit of evaluation. This week’s “Write” choice is about evaluating four areas: physical, emotional, relational and spiritual.

Physical: What is your body telling you?

Emotional: What are you feeling? Use HEART to help you express what you are feeling.

H – am I hurting?
E – am I exhausted?
A – am I angry?
R – do I resent anyone?
T – am I tense?

Relational: Am I at peace with everyone?

Spiritual: Am I relying on God?

SHARE –
Share what you’ve written with your accountability partner. Work to develop a plan to recognize and resolve problems more quickly, to be aware of them sooner and take appropriate action.

Over the years, I’ve become more aware of how I tend to react emotionally, based on the feelings that a situation brings rather than the facts before me. Instead of looking rationally at a situation, I have the knee-jerk reaction and most often spout out something I later regret. And, when I’m tired, it’s even worse. On good days, I can recognize this before I open my mouth and I pause to consider the other person and what might be prompting them to act as they are. I try to remember that those around me are not “out to get me” and may just be having a bad day. It’s the basic lesson—it’s not about me!
But on my bad days , I am feeling unappreciated or taken for granted in an area of my life, and anything someone says that may bump against my views for the day will result in a conflict. How dare they say that to me…act that way towards me…assume that about me, and so on. In a flash, I resort to the negative thoughts, the relational strongholds that I’ve been working to rid myself of. And, it’s during those moments that turning to a trusted friend helps keep me grounded in the here and now. When you have the right person alongside you, they will point you back to God through Scriptural reminders and truths. They will help you focus on your identity as a child of God. They will call you out when you’re stuck in negativity and hold you to a higher standard. Sure, it can be uncomfortable because we want to feel what we feel just because we want to! But life has so much more to offer us. God wants so much more for us than to be ruled by our emotions.

Take time to reflect on the pattern of relapse with your partner: complacency, confusion, compromise, and catastrophe. Where do you get trapped most often?

For me, it is complacency; and Baker couldn’t have explained it any better, “We get comfortable. We’ve confessed our problem, we’ve started dealing with it, and we’ve made some progress. Then we get comfortable, and one day we stop praying about it and then we stop working at it” (page 207).

When the immediate need to fix something has been addressed, the urgency to continue working on it dissipates. It’s no longer urgent, and slowly the comfort settles in. But Jesus reminded us, “Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give into temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak” (Mark 14:38 NLT).

Even Paul tells us, “If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12 NLT). So it’s not a situation that wasn’t expected to happen, but it is a situation that can be prevented.


Let’s Pray
Lord, we thank You for loving us so much that You gave the greatest example of forgiveness through Your Son, Jesus. As we focus on creating dedicated time alone with You, let us remember to be still and know You. Timothy tells us that Your Word is “useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.” Allow us to keep this focus and to develop a desire to know You even more. This journey to recovery from our habits, hang-ups, and hurts has not been easy, but we feel Your grace, love, and gentleness more each day. Amen.

Power Verses for Chapter 7:
1 Corinthians 10:12
Matthew 22:37-40
James 1:22
Colossians 3:16
Psalm 46:10
Psalm 107:15
2 Timothy 3:16
Hebrews 12:1



If you would like to send Amy a private email in regards to this blog, please email her at: Amy@GirlfriendsCoffeeHour.com