Lessons I’m learning from: being my own worst enemy. (Learning to overcome it)

 

I write this blog for each and everyone of you who struggles with the same problem. I pray that we will all become people who can learn to accept and love ourselves. Who can drop the barriers that we have put up as a defence and learn to walk in the freedom that God has always wanted us to know. I begin with asking you to think of the image that appears when you see yourself as your own worst enemy.  The image that comes to mind when I think of myself as my own worst enemy, is of me standing in front of a mirror and truly seeing the reflection that is reflected back at me. I see myself with a tear stained faced, who is ashamed of herself and is trying to hide every piece of her. The worst truth is that my reflection is scared of me because I have only ever been horrible to her. I do not write that for sympathy, instead it is a place I should have never allowed myself to get to because all that hatred for myself has allowed who I truly am to be diminished. I am going to write this all from how my faith has allowed me to start working on these problems because it is a process that God is working through with me. Whether you come from a faith perspective or not, I pray that you will find hope and freedom as we all work on this together.

Firstly, we need to understand that until our mindset changes we will remain stuck in the same place. We can do all these things on the outside to put on a show that we are doing well, at the end of the day we come home and we are still battling with all those issues. Our mind needs to know freedom, it will take time but I am going to write about some things that have enabled me to start removing this negative and dark mindset.

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This is the print that hangs on my wall, I got it recently and I love the image that it gives. The life that is exploding from her mind, the flowers in full bloom and the butterflies that are surrounding them. It reminds me that my mind should be where life grows, it should not be a dark place full of thoughts that destroy the good things. It is an image of how our mind should be; full of life, joy love and kindness. A place where beautiful things grow and remain. Where there is no room for thoughts that want to diminish our worth and that will sow lies into our lives. The other day I went into a spiral, I was overthinking which is always my downfall, where I felt so incomplete. I felt this gentle reminder to speak God’s truth over my life, what does God say about my worth.

Psalm 139v14 ‘I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it well.’

This was the one Bible verse that came to mind at the time, it was enough to focus my mind back on God and to take my eyes off of what I was not in control of. It was a reminder that unless I anchor my belief in who God says I am; then someone else will fill in that gap and it will never be a voice that speaks the life and purpose God does. I know that truth within my life, I have looked to many people for advice on who I am and who I should be. It is never quite what I needed.

Secondly, there is no room for negativity. This is a lesson God is continuously teaching me through my youngest sister. I say mean things about myself and do it in a way that I believe sounds like I am joking to others. For example, if I enjoy a plate of food I will call myself tubby or chubby. My mindset would tell me that I could not enjoy that food without feeling bad about my body.  My sister never laughs when I ‘jokingly’ speak these words over myself. Most of the time I will ask her why she is not laughing, if I am finding it funny why isn’t she. She states that it is not funny and does rebuke me and others when we speak negative words over our lives. Honestly, I am learning to appreciate that fact that she does not allow people to speak negativity over their life and that she does not find it acceptable. It is a beautiful gift that God uses her to speak life and truth into the people in her life.

What I want us all to learn from this lesson is that we should be careful who we surround ourselves with. If you just hang around with a group of people who only ever speak negatively, no life will actually grow from that friendship.  Negativity will only bring death. It is not something that we should allow to harbour in our life. Also, we cannot simply rely on others to be the one who speaks life over us. That needs to begin with our own selves. We need actively choose to speak words of life, kindness and love over our lives. It is not prideful to do that but it is a necessity that is needed for continual growth. 

Thirdly, our imperfections do not make us weak. As much as social media is to blame for its false pretense of perfection. We need to realise that we have to see beyond that. We know ourselves the best, we know our limits and who we want to be and what we need to be doing. We need to overcome holding up other people’s ideals. Come off of social media and anything else that makes you feel unworthy about who you are. You realise that life goes on, that comparing yourself does not have to be a necessity for living. When we stop trying to control everything that we are, that enables God to move in us. When we surrender, that is when God begins the healing of our heart and mind that we have allowed to be ripped apart. We need to stop seeing ourselves as monsters and allow ourselves to come to know the beautiful and wonderful person we are. God did not create us so that we would spend our whole lives hating ourselves. What a pointless existence that would be. 

May we learn to support one another. To affirm each other in truth and love, to stand by each other even when we hit our lowest points to know that there is still hope. May we not just be concerned with our outside beauty or how pleasing our lives are. May we nurture or hearts and minds for everything we do flows from them. Proverbs 4v23 ‘Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.’

I pray Romans 12v2 over all our lives, ‘Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is- his good, pleasing and perfect will.’ . We were all important enough to God to be created by his design. We find our purpose and hope through God. For we are his creation, we are loved best and most by God because we are his children. 1 John 3v1 ‘See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! That is what we are!’. 

I have been my own worst enemy for too long. It is something I am actively willing to change and I pray that you will want to do this too. I only focused predominantly on the mind in this blog, it will be a topic I  will keep revisiting throughout this year as I journey through overcoming this barrier. As I said at the start it does have begin with the mind, for it is where all this hatred and darkness is at root. Everything else will flow a little more naturally once our mindset begins to be transformed. We all need to find the best way to be ourselves and to live our lives. Let us take back what we have allowed to be squashed and devoured for too long. 

Philippians 4v8 ‘Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.’

May you all have a blessed week, I pray that what you are battling at the moment that you will be able to overcome. You are loved and cherished, love Victoria. xx

My instagram is @torijoy24 if you want message or need prayer.  xx

Lessons I’m learning from: (Acts 10-11),God is a God who breaks down barriers.

I have been reading through a chapter of Acts each evening. Acts is focused on the beginning of the early church and the spreading of the gospel. In the early chapters, the Holy Spirit falls upon the apostles. They are able to speak in languages that are being understood by different people from other regions. The Apostles are facing widespread opposition from the elders, Jewish leaders and other authorities. As the early church grew, believers of different backgrounds and lifestyles were coming together. Stigma arises towards the Gentile believers because they were not circumcised or followers of the other laws that the Jews lived by. There is a lot to delve into, regarding this issue. I want to focus this blog on, how God is a God who breaks down barriers. There is no barrier that we can possibly think to confide God to or we should confide ourselves to.

Acts 10 begins with a centurion called Cornelius, who was (v2) ‘a devout man who feared God with all his household, gave alms generously to the people, and prayed continuously to God.’. He would have been a Gentile but his faithfulness is acknowledged. An Angel appears him, tells Cornelius how his prayers and alms have ascended as a memorial before God. Cornelius is to send men to Joppa, to bring Simon Peter back with them. The verses do not say why they should bring back Peter but Cornelius is faithful to what he is requested to do and send men to Peter.

Peter was from a Jewish background, he followed the laws and practises that he was commanded to. It is through this experience that God teaches Peter a valuable lesson. As the men are on their way to meet with Peter, Peter has a vision of a sheet descending from heaven. ‘ In it were all kinds of reptiles and birds of the air‘. Peter is commanded to rise, kill and eat. However, his religious beliefs become a barrier from following this command as he states that he has never ate anything impure or unclean. This statement is rebuked as these words follow, v15 ‘What God has called clean, do not call common.’ Peter was left perplexed by this vision, at this time the men sent by Cornelius have arrived to ask for Peter. Peter is urged by the Holy Spirit to go and accompany the men. It is through being obedient to this command that many lives are transformed.

Once Peter arrives at Cornelius’ household, Cornelius falls at Peter’s feet. Peter replies ‘Stand up; for I too am a man.’ Despite their religious differences, there was nothing within Peter that needed to be worshipped for he was a man saved by grace just like Cornelius was. Peter does address the religious barriers that would normally discourage him from being found within their presence. Peter comes to realise that the vision that he saw was in relation to the situation that he now found himself in. (v28) ‘And he said to them, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation, but God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean.“.  Cornelius tells Peter the vision he had that led to Peter being with them.

Peter has another revelation as he declares, v34-35 ‘Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him’. God is an all inclusive God, the cross put an end to any person being barred from the love and presence of God. As believers we need to meditate upon these revelations that Peter is having. In his wisdom and understanding being established, it allows faith to grow as it is not a faith that is restricted to a certain group of people or place. Peter is further amazed as the Holy Spirit falls upon the gentiles as he shares the gospel with them. Not only Peter but the other circumcised believers that had come along with Peter. v45 ‘The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles“. The gentiles lives were transformed, they had become a part of God’s all inclusive kingdom. Through using Peter, God enabled religious barriers to be broken down and enabled Peter to watch the marvellous ways that God’s love and power works.

The last bit I want to mention is from chapter 11 when Peter is being criticised when he reports back to the church what happened with these Gentiles, the people he was addressing was a group of circumcised men. Peter states, v17 ‘If  God gave them the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way‘. This revelation from Peter is one of humility, that regardless of the authority and their religious priorities, they cannot stand in the way of the will of God. For God’s will is more powerful than the will of man.

My prayer, reflecting on these chapters is that God is God and I am just human. Who am I to try and limit the power and authority God has, with my ideals on how I believe faith should work. I pray that I would allow God to help me break down the barriers that I have constructed or been told to construct, through false ideals. Not only in my walk of faith but also in breaking down the barriers that the society has told me to construct. I want to be open and more free to be faithful to what God has called me to rather than putting all these limits on what I should and could be doing. The barriers that I put up do not only impact me but can also impacts upon the people around me. I certainly would not like people to have a misconstrued idea of who God is and the freedom that he gives each and every one of us. May we all take time to think upon the barriers that we have put up in our lives, ask God to allow us to break free of those that limit us from coming full into his presence and walking faithfully with us. We serve a God that wants all of us, we should never feel that there is any bit of us that we should be ashamed to bring in front of God. God loves us, wants us and wants us to know a life of freedom and joy found within his presence. 

 

 

Holy Week Devotional: A journey of faith.

Palm Sunday

(Matthew 21v6-7) ‘The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on.’

The disciples chose to be faithful to Jesus’s request, their faithfulness enabled to the Old Testament prophecy of Zechariah to be fulfilled. It is this scene of beauty where God is praised as Jesus enters into Jerusalem. This scene quickly turns to one of darkness and hate. This request begins the many events we will remember and later celebrate throughout this Holy week. Along this week we will stop to reflect on scenes where there will be great acts of faithfulness but also areas of great doubt and fear. It represents an enormous journey of faith that ends in the beauty of salvation and redemption.  Prayer: As we enter into Holy week, may we take time to stop and meditate on the magnitude of all that was fulfilled and the life and relationship we now have due to the sacrifice of Jesus and the disciples. Amen.

Monday

(Matt 26V12-13) ‘When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.’

Did the woman know that what she was doing would have such a meaning? That her act of faith and love would go down in history? It was an act of faith, that she was ridiculed for because of the expense of it. Outsiders could only see the expense of the perfume, which they believed could have been used for more practical purposes.  To Jesus, she had done a beautiful act of sacrifice and gratitude for a man she knew had transformed her life. There is a lot to learn from her act even for our lives today. That our offering and worship to Jesus may not always be seen as fruitful to those around us. However, our faithfulness should not be determined by onlookers but should be a full surrender of walking in relationship with Jesus. A life that is devoted to the will of who we are called to be by God.

Tuesday

(Matthew 26v15) ‘and asked “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?”

Judas was a ‘sell-out’, he was willing to sacrifice Jesus for his own gain. Jesus had always been willing to sacrifice his life for us all, it came as no surprise that one of his disciples had been the one to betray him.  As we reflect on Judas, are there times in our lives where we have used Jesus for our own gain? Being willing to sacrifice Jesus sacrifice so that a worldly gain could be pursued. Has that gain/ did that gain bring any lasting satisfaction? We have all chose to pursue or own will over that of the will of God. Unlike Judas, we know a hope and redemption that Judas chose not to take. Where we have made mistakes, there is salvation and redemption.

Wednesday

(Matt 26v39) ‘Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed. “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will”.

It was raw emotions as the final hours are coming upon him. Jesus was not allowing fear and emotion to keep him from being obedient to God’s will. In our journey of faith, we all have to learn not to allow fear and emotion to be our drivers. To put our trust in obedience in God, even in the toughest and darkest circumstances. That comes when we learn to surrender and allow God to have control over our life. This was the beginning of the lonely hours for Jesus: his disciples were fallling asleep on him, he was abandoned, flogged beyond recognition and on the cross even God turned away as Jesus took on the sin of the world. Through all this Jesus remined faithful. The greatest act of love done under the cruellest circumstances. May we learn to keep our eyes focused on the light of the world even in our darkest days.

 

Thursday

(Matt 26v40-41) ‘Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak”.

Three times Jesus goes off to pray and, on each occasion, comes back to find the disciples asleep. The disciples were not purposefully going to sleep each time Jesus left them. The command Jesus gave, to pray reminds the disciples where their strength is to be found. The Spirit is willing but the body is weak. Like the disciples, each of us on our faith journey have encountered trials. Many of us forget that we are not meant to do it in our own strength. That it is God who is our refuge and strength (Isaiah 40v31) ‘But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.’ I don’t think any of  us could say that if we were in the disciples ‘shoes’ we would have not fallen asleep. For we all fall short before God, it is only through Jesus that we find our worth.

 

Friday

(Matt 27v46) ‘About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice “Eli, Eli, lema sabacathani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”)

To imagine the pain of God forsaking Jesus, I do not think we could ever comprehend. The scene is full of darkness and loneliness. It fits the description of the darkest moment being before the dawn. Forsaken by his closest followers and by God. Surrounded by people who despised him and longed for his death. Through all this rejection there would be redemption. There would be hope for each and every person. Take time to focus on the cross which was surrounded by brutality and death. Which is now a symbol of hope and life. Even the disciples had barley began their journey, through the death and resurrection there was so much more to gain.

Saturday

(28v1) ‘After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.’ (28v6) ‘He is not here; he has risen just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.

These women had known transformation in their lives, they gained life and renewed purpose due to Jesus teaching and miracles. Their pursuit of the tomb shows their love and grief for Jesus. For in their society, they were seen with those of low purpose and who could not be a part of everyday. In the eyes of Jesus, they had worth and purpose. They are the first ones to blessed with the news that Jesus has risen.

Sunday- Easter Sunday

(Matt 28v18-20) ‘Then Jesus came to them and said “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’

All the disciples had messed up in one way or another. Before they knew Jesus, they were ordinary men going about life. The faith and authority Jesus gives shows he holds no wrongs against them, he knows their hearts. These are the men who go on to become the Apostles and spread the gospel, beginning the early church. May we all find renewed purpose and life, knowing that Jesus does not hold our wrongs against us. We are never beyond our calling when we pursue Jesus with all our heart.

Lessons I’m learning from: comparison being a killer.

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My life has been controlled by comparison. I compared myself to my siblings, friends and even people I did not know.  It was an issue that I needed to address because it only led me to belittle myself and to stop working hard on what I was meant to be doing. The comparison mentality was a pretty rigid mindset I had. On reflection it was a mindset that led to judgement, unhappiness and a lack of living. I am glad that comparison is something i have began to address and continue to, here are some of the lessons I have learned along the way.

Comparison is an ugly motive to allow to develop within our lives. It is something that society throws in all our faces on a daily basis, especially through advertisements that are hard to miss. I know myself, that I never fitted into any of those ideals that were being advertised. It would be a while before I realised that most people do not fit the ideals we are told to pursue. They are relentless pursuits of perfection, that many years of life can be wasted trying to obtain them. In regards to beauty, I am learning to accept the person that I am. That my skin is not perfect and flawless but that is okay and it should have always been okay. I spent many years hating myself because of the skin on my face. It was my own mind that was causing me to do this; therefore, it was my own mindset that I needed to change. Comparing how we look to others is a pointless waste of my time. I wish I had learned that earlier in my life, it would have saved me a lot of tears and money. Haha.

Growing up as one out of four siblings, it is hard not to compare yourself even though our parents never did compare us to one another. I always felt out of my siblings I was the dumb one. They would understand things better than I did and they achieved better grades. Even what they were interested in was cooler than what I was into. I would spend all this time calling myself stupid and worthless, I was in my own pity party and I wanted people to have sympathy for me. Truthfully, I was not allowing myself to accept the passions and talents I did have. While I may be a little slower, I have still achieved a lot in 23 years. Comparison did not allow me to be fruitful in the fields I was in. I would diminish their importance because I believed they were worthless. I do not desire to compare my life to my siblings anymore. We can work together and learn from each other, that is a blessing for each of us. I do believe where I am now is not a bad place. I am alive, healthy and and surrounded by people who love me. Those are not blessings to take for granted. I love that I have a passion for reading, even writing and that each day I get to interact with all different people. I cannot say that my life is bad.

Briefly, on the topic friends. We are all in our early 20’s and a lot of them are pursuing the careers they always wanted or are in successful jobs. I felt discouraged, there is no career I have ever felt passionate about pursuing. I came out of university and went straight into retail, I wanted a job and I needed money for stability. I was hard on myself because I believed I was not living a purposeful life. A lesson I needed to learn was that my purpose is not determined by my job, it is a part of my life but it does not determine my worth. job has enabled me to grow in multiple skills, most importantly my confidence. It is not a bad place to be, it is a place that is helping me to move onto new things in the future.

Lastly, the impact of Instagram was something I needed to address in my life. I would spend an hour or two each day scrolling through trying to find some sort of satisfaction, from comparing myself to others. The truth was I never did. I had a break from Instagram for a week and a bit. It helped me to see that it was not something that was not mandatory in my life. I did not need to be uploading content just to get other peoples approval. Comparing my likes to others, it was just a waste of time. I have began limiting my usage of Instagram just to the weekend. To have those five days away means I am not constantly shoving other peoples lives into my face and no longer comparing my life to someone I barely know by name.

I did not get to this place of change by myself, I truly believe that it was by God’s grace and love that my mindset is being transformed. God has given me a renewed purpose on how I should view life and especially why I am on this earth. It helped to deal with a lot of the emotional baggage I had, that was a result of comparison. I do realise that I am blessed to be in this position. I know that there are many people where comparison is placed upon them by loved ones, friends and family. to break out of that is a huge struggle.  To know that the comparison mindset is something that I only have to myself to blame for having, to walk away from it is not something I will not take for granted. I am thankful for the lessons I have learned from comparison; I never want it to be as prominent in my life again.

You are loved and cherished. May you have an amazing week and keep on learning anf growing. Love Victoria. xx

Lessons I’m learning from: Psalm 119

 

 

I have spent the past couple of weeks reading through each section of Psalm 119. I have been learning a lot from reading through it slowly and meditating on the words. The psalmist is in awe of who God is, that he delights in his word and sees the truth and life found in it. He wants God’s word to be the centre of his life because that is how he lives a life in honour and worship of all that God has done and continues to do. Throughout the Psalm, when he is facing opposition and affliction he clings even tighter to the word of God. 119v115 ‘But you are near, O Lord, and all your commandments are true.’ Reading Psalm 119 has given me a wider perspective on what faith can look like. How there is delight and life found in the word of God and that it is the wisdom that should have always been my foundation.

V10-11 ‘With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.’ The Psalmist teaches that it takes full surrender to pursue God, that is it with a total commitment that he is pursuing God. In commitment, the psalmist needs strength and wisdom not to wander away from that truth. To store it up in his heart, shows that desire and longing to have God’s truth as his foundation.

Throughout this Psalm, I have been praying to learn to surrender more to God and have the desire to pursue a faith like the psalmist has. For the God that is being praised within this psalm, is the same God that lives today.

The Psalmist is persistent in removing anything that does not lead him closer to God. V 29 ‘Put false ways from me and graciously teach me your law.’ The psalmist teaches the reader to reflect on what is important in their life. What is not a necessity, to ask for it to be removed and in the removal filling that hole with the goodness that only God can give.

A repeated phrase throughout the Psalm, is the steadfast love of God. Allowing that love to be what fills you, a love that never changes and is with us throughout our whole life. V 76 ‘Let your steadfast love comfort me according to your promise to your servant.’ It is a love that does not disappear as we go through the highs and lows of life. It is a love that engulfs us and holds us dear, even though we do not deserve it. God is faithful in his pursuit of us, even when we do not know how to let him in. God is almighty and powerful, he pursues us to give us the life we were always meant to have. A life in communion with him. This is only if we accept it, it was what the Psalmist did, and he knew it as his truth over his life.

‘There is no promise you won’t keep

There is no distance you will not reach

There is no season in-between

Your love is evergreen’

Amanda Lindsey Cook, ‘Evergreen’.

 

The psalm is full of raw emotion, as the psalmist takes delight in God’s word he is still encountering the highs and lows of life. The Psalmist is afflicted, and people rise up in opposition to him, However,  his faith being anchored in God’s word, that is where his hope continues to lie. No earthly wisdom compares to that of God’s, to know that word in greater depth is his longing. V 114 ’You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in your word.’ Like the Psalmist I want to learn to go to God as my fist port of call in all the things I face in this life. To remember this his love is steadfast and that all wisdom flows from God. V 154 ‘Plead my cause and redeem me; give me life according to your promise’.

 

Through transformation and surrender comes humility. The psalmist refers to himself as a servant, that willingness to learn but also to do God’s will. V125 ‘I am your servant; give me understanding, that I may know your testimonies’. That humility, disregarding all the world has to offer because nothing compares to all the life that God gives him. That humility can only come through surrender, allowing your heart to know and be transformed by the love and grace of God.

 

I want to end with one of the most famous verses from this Psalm, v105 ‘Your word is a lamp to my feet, a light to my path’. I used to hear this verse and think that they were lovely words. The more you read God’s word and learn to meditate on it so that it becomes a part of your life. Those words do become a lamp and a light because they guide you through life, in your darkest moments they become your hope and remind you of the grace and love that surrounds you. I would encourage all of us to fall in love with God and all that his word teaches us. To allow our lives to be transformed by the gospels, the sacrifice and love that is found Jesus. The life and the transformation he speaks into our lives when we remain connected to him. Psalm 119 teaches us what faith can look like when we surrender all. I encourage you all to spend time reading psalm 119 and encounter the wonders and awes the Psalmist finds within his faith.