God Did His Best Work When He Created You and I

Joshua said to them, “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Be strong and courageous.” Joshua 10:25

 

Have you ever thought that when God created you and I, He was doing His best work? Its true. And hopefully you believe that and will show others you’re one of His masterpieces. That’s what my goal is each and every day I awake to a new day in my life.

Like me, maybe you’ve also picked up negative messages about yourself during your childhood years.  If so, then you, like I have emotionally engulfed that negativity into our psyche, and then it became a part of our own self-belief.

Well, those that spoke those messages are also flawed humans just like the rest of us. My dad constantly criticized me all through my childhood and into my adult years. But that’s how he always spoke to all five of his children. I love him, but I’ve learned over the years to take being in his presence in small doses.

I was criticized by both my parents during my childhood. Which might be the root cause of the dysthimic depression I’ve had most of my adult life. Looking back I can say that it’s been a journey of going through some dark valleys of depression.

I didn’t know what kind of depression I had, but I did know that it “clouded” my thinking. So, in my early twenties I started making changes in my life that were for my good. Prior to that I had been heading in a downward spiral since my teens.

A lot of that changed though, when I set my mind on improving my life about the time I turned twenty-three. I got new friends, for one thing. I, also had my Christian “born again” experience then, and grew in my spiritual walk. Within a year, I joined the USAF, and met my husband, Jeff at my first Airbase assignment.

But, the depression I’ve experienced didn’t just magically go away then, or any other time. First, I had to recognize my own symptoms and then, for far too long, I just learned to live with it. What has helped me is the counseling I’ve received.

God has never created anyone who was, is, or will be less than His best creation. I know that to be true. And I hope you will believe that also. I have always believed it to be true about my children, grandchildren, my husband Jeff, and myself. This doesn’t make us perfect, by any means though.

Even blatantly evil people, didn’t start out being evil, they became that way through their conscious and sub-conscious decisions about themselves.

The  question we need to ask ourselves is, “Are you or I living up to all that God has made us to be?” You may not feel that you are doing that right now. You are the one who can change it though.

Depression has rob me of my joy for life more times than I want to think about. When I did try counseling, it seemed the counselor could never pinpoint what was wrong with me. Finding the right counselor has been a journey in itself.

But, even without having a therapist, I have always found the strength I needed for each day by reading and meditating on God’s word. By doing that I finally pulled out of those “valleys of the shadow.” (Psalms 23:4).

You have potential in you that you’ve yet to reach the limit of. Life itself is constantly evolving. We’re not even aware of what half of our future goals and accomplishments are going to be.

Life will have its disappointments, to be sure. But that might be an opportunity for you to change your life’s path. Be flexible with your goals. Strengthen your resolve to be a better decision maker next time around.

Believe in yourself and make decisions that will put you on a positive track for your life. Don’t follow the group. And don’t be manipulated by a charismatic personality that just wants you around to feed their own insecure ego.

Read about great leaders. Let quality people mentor you through their writings or their life’s story written by someone else. When Dwight Eisenhower was a teenager growing up in Abilene, Kansas he began setting goals for himself to reach. He was preparing himself for stepping into leadership roles that were in his unseen future.

Later he became a young officer during WWI. Even then he was put in charge of things usually reserved for older officers. During WWII General Eisenhower was placed in charge of all Allied troop movement in Europe.

Then, after winning WWII, he became our 34th President. He was ready for each advancement because of his teenage preparation for accepting responsibility. Way before he became President Eisenhower, he knew that he first had to be the leader in his own life.

You and I are the leader of our lives. And each of us are preparing for our future, as well. Each of us is writing our own life’s story one day at a time. There are times when life seems to be overwhelming for any of us. No one’s the exception when it comes to life’s problems. You need to prepare for those times today.

What do we do when we’re overwhelmed with problems? Everyone will have different ideas on this, so I’ll just tell you what I do.

First, I reason with myself that there is a solution to this problem. I include my husband Jeff in the decision making. Maybe I’ll ask a few trusted friends what they would do. I try not to make a “knee jerk” impulse decision about anything.

In decision making or even giving a verbal response, I avoid using those quick responses that come from our amygdala region. This is where our “fight or flight” quick thinking comes from. But, it’s also where a lot of impulsive hateful comments come from.  Or choosing to “flight” rather than solve the situation.

Having a quick response does sometime pay off, though. An example of this is when I was breaking up a small mound of dirt in my yard a few years ago in early Spring. Little did I know that over the winter a copperhead snake had hibernated in that mound. I was fortunate enough to see the tail end of that unmistakable pattern of a venomous snake slither around as the cold air entered its hideaway.

Well, I could’ve, and might should’ve killed it easily enough with my shovel, but I decided since it hadn’t seen me, I ran to the back deck that was close by. “Let it slither off to somewhere else,” I reasoned. I decided in an instant that it was not my “fight moment,” but my “flight moment.” Now, I never saw it or any other snake in my yard since then.

My mother would’ve killed it, though. She grew up on a farm during the Great Depression. She and her siblings were trained to kill a snake whether it was in the garden or the yard. They always had a hoe handy.

My childhood was different than my mother’s even though we were both raised in the country. When my oldest brother, Gene saw a poisonous snake in our yard he killed it. So, I never got around to honing my snake killing skills like my mother and her siblings had to.

There are going to be times where you’ll have to choose between equally good decisions. Your ideas will be based upon who you are at your core personality. I did take a risk in not killing the snake. Because once they’re in the yard then they usually come back to that place. But I knew Jeff would mow over it soon enough, anyway.

Sometimes a decision is made based on what seems best to you. It’s nether all that bad or all that great. Either way it’s not going to be earth-shattering. So just go with what seems best in your own reasoning.

I want to make clear that one bad decision doesn’t mean a lifetime of bad decisions. That is if you recognize why you made the bad decision, in the first place. An example of this happened a summer ago to me. I was pulling up to a stop light here in my hometown of Sylva, NC. It’s still a small town, even though it’s grown a bit since my childhood years of growing up near here.

So, the light had just changed to green and I had a few cars in front of me. I was patiently waiting for them all to move forward when a young woman plowed into the back of my SUV with her tiny car. When I looked at it I was amazed that she didn’t go under my Explorer.

Well, I got out to survey the damage and realized she was doing her best to back up and drive off. Hmm, I wondered, “How far she was going to get with the engine ‘sitting in her lap?’” Needless to say she didn’t get far, maybe a few feet at the most.

So, I called 911 and the police officer that showed up also happens to be my neighbor. We talked a bit privately, then he told me to drive my SUV on home.

Well, that’s when I called Jeff and gave him the “skinny” of it all and asked him to come to where this accident had happened. I didn’t want to drive our Explorer home. So, when he got there, we exchanged vehicles and I drove our Focus home.

Right after the accident, before my neighbor arrived on the scene, I walked over to the other car, (I know, I’m a trusting individual). I was on the phone, so I asked the two women who were still in their tiny car if they needed medical help.

That’s when I observed the obvious. Both the driver and the passenger were intoxicated on drugs, and unable to make clear sense of what just happened. So, I instinctively stepped back and waited for the officer.

Long story short, the local dealership fixed my Explorer perfectly, even though it did take three months to complete it. The body shop manager told me that my tow hitch helped to slow them down some. (And may have saved their lives). Now, we keep the traditional ball hitch in the slot as a precaution.

So, what about the young woman that was driving the tiny car? I found out through my connections that she has had addiction problems in her past. And things weren’t getting better for her.

In my church on Sunday mornings we pass clip boards that have sheets of lined paper on them down each section for people to write their prayer request, or just to add their name, and leave the line blank. These requests are prayed for by our prayer team on another day.

On the Sunday morning after the accident I wrote this young woman’s first name on the prayer list. And I have also prayed for her myself that the unseen chains that have enslaved her are broken. She, like all the rest of us have an amazing life ahead of us. And we just need to get out there and live it.

When you have a tough problem to solve just go to your knees in prayer for answers. And you might not be the only one who is praying for you. When you pray, you will receive an answer just like I’ve received answers to my prayers.

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Living in the Gap of Expectations

  •  “casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7 ESV

How is living in the gap of expectations working out for you? Well, “what is the gap of expectations” you ask?

When you or I set out to accomplish a goal whether short lived or long range, our expectations are to arrive at that goal, right?

What if the goal is not the end result, though, despite your own best efforts? And, needless to say that others are going to disappoint us also. So, in the end, how well do you adjust to disappointment? Do you linger in an emotional “free-fall” going in and out of depression?

Or do you find yourself telling everyone, “I can handle it.” Or, “I’m fine.” If that’s true than good. But, I believe many of us say those cliches without really meaning it. We could be experiencing an emotional free-fall without fully realizing it.

There is a gap of emotional “free-fall” between expectations and the end result when our goals have not been met. Some of us adjust very quickly and re-prioritize our goals. That’s truly fantastic when it happens.  And I’m happy for you if you’re able to do that when you experience a failure, unexpected bad news, or that life just seems hard right now.

I’m, of course, writing to the ones that don’t easily adjust to the disappointing way of how things have turned out. Especially  when this happens, as it’s going to do, throughout parts of our lives. Not all the time, though, thank goodness.

We really don’t know what we can and cannot handle. It’s not just a cliche that we can be our own enemy. It’s true. And because it’s true, I think we end up self-medicating more than what we want to admit to. I’m guilty of that, too. But when disappointment happens we need to be spiritually and emotionally ready.

One thing that’s helped me the most in overcoming disappointments in my life is the Cognitive Behavior Therapy I’ve had over the last two and a half years on a bi-monthly basis.

Me being more fully engaged in my emotional well-being by going to therapy has helped me to see a more clearer perspective of my different life’s challenges. And it has increased my problem solving capabilities. Or put another way, I’ve learned to think “outside the box” of my own “self-thought” and “couple-thought” of my marriage.

Through the years I’ve tried group therapy and “dropping in” therapy; i.e. staying long enough to feel better then not going back.  And, my husband, Jeff and I have gone to marriage counseling, which we needed. I’m glad he willingly went with me. The end result of our couple counseling has been that Jeff was prescribed some anti-anxiety medication, which he still willingly takes. He says he feels better. And, he does communicate with me and now our extended family on a more positive note.

We wouldn’t have been able to figure out his particular issues all on our own. His past issues along with mine kept us “locking horns” over many issues throughout our four decades and counting marriage. The end result was usually anger, bitterness, and frustration.

Jeff is a “late” baby, and a “replacement” baby, born in 1952. His only living sibling was already married before he started school. And the middle sibling closest in age to him was several years older, passing away with a congenital heart disorder in his teens.

Jeff grew up nearly having an “only child” experience. As a result of that he “sub-consciously” expected to be pampered in his adult life, just like his mother had done during his childhood years.

In part, our childhood “shapes” who we turn out to be in our  adult years. The other part being our individual genetics.

Well, I’ll admit to doing my best to pamper him. That is part of a wife’s role in marriage. And, yes there have been times I’ve found doing this to be quite draining and I believe it added to my already low-grade of depression. But, I couldn’t see this situation clearly all on my own, and didn’t know the “why” of it all until we went to counseling.

Jeff’s mother was an angry, controlling person. She had a difficult personality, to say the least. But his dad was the opposite; he was mellow and pleased with all that he had accomplished in his life.

Both of his parents were about ten years older than my parents. Jeff’s mom was a teenager and his dad had just turned twenty when they married during the height of the Great Depression. My parents were married in their early twenty’s after WWII in 1946.

I was born in 1952, also. So he and I are both “baby boomers.” But I had an entirely different upbringing.  My parents were caring, but sometimes harsh throughout their lives. Plus, I’m the youngest of five children all born within a little more than six years. My dad wasn’t big on parenting us kids, leaving that responsibility to my mother.

My mom, worked hard to keep all of us “glued together” with wonderful meals, kept us three girls busy with cleaning the house, and she always kept an “outside the home” job, as well. There was always a lot of responsibility on my mother’s shoulders.

So when Jeff and I married in our mid-twenties we had different expectations of each other’s role in our lives from the beginning. And through the years, we haven’t always met each other’s expectations either.

All of my and our counseling efforts have had many good results, though. Another idea is to read some small portion of the Bible daily. You can go to Bible Gateway and find several plans to help you read through the Bible on a daily basis. I’ve done this for years and years through self-directed Bible studies. By now I don’t feel like my day is complete without reading at least a short devotion.  And pray often throughout your day.

“pray without ceasing,” 1 Thessalonians 5:17

Above all else, don’t let anxiety rule your day and your life. Anxiety is normally the outflow of two root negative emotions: fear and anger. Solve those two emotions through counseling, medication when needed, Bible study, and prayer. Doing this will help you adjust to having a more positive outlook on life in spite of whatever life “throws” at you.

Taking this action will make life more pleasurable to you and those around you.