Needing a good understanding of trauma

“Most people don’t have a good understanding of trauma.  All they know is that it’s a bad thing that they have tried to avoid as much as possible.  But even with the best efforts to stay clear of collisions in life, sometimes trauma is as unavoidable as encountering the night.”- Christa Black Gifford

In Chapter 2 (“Managing Trauma”) of Heart Made Whole, Christa Black Gifford tackles the subject of trauma.  First, Christa cautions that material substances only do a “temporary job of numbing a heart screaming in unfathomable agony.”  Next, Ms. Gifford lists several characteristics of traumas.  Traumas:

  • consist of wounds left inside our hearts that keep us from living in wholeness
  • barricade us from growth
  • slow down our maturity
  • keep the broken fragments of our hearts from healing
  • hook part of the heart and keep it stuck in the past
  • perpetuate pain and fear

Therefore, embedded pain monsters create a shaky foundation of hopelessness, rather than a sure foundation of wholeness.  Satan knows that when pain lives inside of your heart long enough, it ends up controlling and ruining the abundant life God intended for you.  Hence, the author plainly defines trauma as any place in your heart where your pain stays greater than your joy.  As a result, even those people who experience success on a regular basis endure traumas at some point.  For they live in close proximity to wounded people.

However, most of us have no idea how to repair our traumas when part of our heart remains structurally damaged.

Today’s question: What Bible verses help you gain understanding of the traumas in your life?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Place of thriving or existence of surviving”

Unhealed pain – your greatest foe

” . . . pain itself is not the enemy.  Pain is inevitable in this bumper-car life where you will continue to collide with a fallen world that you cannot control.  Unhealed pain, however, will become your greatest foe if your broken heart is not made whole after each collision.”-Christa Black Gifford

As Christa Black Gifford concludes Chapter 1 of Heart Made Whole, she observes that turning your back on pain doesn’t make it go away.  Therefore, Christa outlines a new approach.  She elected to turn around and run toward the pain.  Thus, Ms. Gifford advises us to:

  • choose to take on the monster named Pain
  • throw our arms around our current suffering and all its attendant hardships
  • make a commitment to feel the heavy emotions of grief, anger, and hurt that daily steamrolls our souls
  • pledge to learn everything inside this fire- this equips us to overcome future flames
  • invite the refining nature of extreme heat to consume everything in our heart keeping us broken

Consequently, when you live in wholeness with Jesus and your heart thrives, you can be unshakeable.  However, if your heart remains broken, you’ll experience constant separation between your heart, soul, mind, and spirit.  Even as a Christian.  As a result, brokenness keeps you from living in joyful connection with God and with others.

In conclusion, Christa invites you to being with a Holy-Spirit guided journey to the center of your truest self.  That center? – the heart Jesus loved so much He died to live inside it.  For Jesus to make you whole, you must allow Him full access to every emotion, trauma, and shameful truth.  Ms. Gifford exhorts:

“[Jesus] will show you how to tend your heart gently and carefully, extending kindness, patience, and mercy as it’s cleansed and healed.  But most of all, He will teach you to love your heart the way He does — lavishly, fiercely, and passionately.”

Today’s question: What unhealed pain constitutes your greatest foe?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Needing a good understanding of trauma”

When God fashioned and created you

“The good news is, no matter how shaky your heart-foundation might be, every person is wired up for electricity at birth.  When God fashioned and created you, He wired Himself into the framework of your being . . .”- Christa Black Gifford

Christa Black Gifford continues Chapter 1 of Heart Made Whole as she offers a heart check.  First, Christa reminds you that the Holy Spirit’s abiding presence makes your heart forever capable of lighting up with new life.  Most noteworthy, this inner realm is the origi of every move you make, word you speak, thought you think, and action you take.

In other words, Ms. Gifford underscores, your insides produce your outsides.  Furthermore, since you’re the landlord of your heart, you control who takes up residence.  Therefore, Christa cautions:

“. . . as long as you’re harboring old wounds, beliefs, unforgiveness, and lies — allowing them to make themselves at home in your heart — Jesus won’t bust in and kick them out.  He needs your permission. . . . He needs you to give Him acces to every floor, every room, and every locked, forgotten space.”

Therefore, the author compares grace to a lifetime warranty that covers the process of your heart transformation.  As a result, grace empowers you to live differently.  In addition, Christa finds that heart transformation involves living in relationship with God, who abides within.  Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we learn to surrender more and more inner heart space to Jesus.

Today’s question: When God fashioned and created you, how did wiring Himself into the framework of your being change you?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Unhealed pain – your greatest foe”

Our inner realm either thrives or withers

“Each of us has an inner realm that either thrives or withers, depending on the tenants we allow to reside within.”- Christa Black Gifford

As Christa Black Gifford continues Chapter 1 of Heart Made Whole, she asks you to imagine your heart as a large building.  As life expands upward, the ensuing years add floor after floor.  Most noteworthy, God, the Master Architect, dreamed up your heart before your life ever took physical form.  With great attention to detail, God equipped your heart with specific desires and abilities.  They enable you to fulfill your unique destiny.

However, Ms. Gifford adds, every one of us has endured some type of internal damage.  No perfect childhood exists. Christa explains:

“As each year added a new layer to the real estate of your heart, at times it was easy to forget about the damaged childhood floors at the bottom the higher you climbed.  But the problem is, if the bottom of your building was shaky, then it was difficult to build upward without putting the whole thing at risk for collapse.”

Consequently, this pain refuses to stay locked up in the rooms below.  Like a monster gang, it takes over the whole building.  And when pain coexists with you, it’s high-maintenance tendencies prevent you from enjoying your life.  As a result, you likely live in constant fear and anxiety.  Because you need to focus on your pain all the time in a futile attempt to keep Pain hidden and appeased.

In conclusion, the author observes, the longer the Pain monster lives with you, the more it’s voice and yours unite.  Thus, you fail to distinguish Pain’s voice from your own, it’s lies from your truth, and it’s heart from your heart.  And as long as Pain lives in your heart, you’ve allowed it to sign a lease agreement.  Until you kick it out.

But there’s good news, and Christa presents that in the post that follows the Short Meditation.

Today’s question: Currently, does you inner realm thrive or wither?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: the new Short Meditation – “My seasons change, You stay the same”

Heart-pain must be felt, embraced

“Heart-pain . . . never goes away on its own.  It must be felt, embraced, and brought to a Healer.”- Christa Black Gifford

In Chapter 1 (“The Broken Heart”) of Heart Made Whole: Turning Your Unhealed Pain Into Your Greatest Strength, Christa Black Gifford poignantly describes the premature birth of her daughter Goldie.  Anticipating the cries of life, Christa and her husband Luke instead encountered a screaming silence.  For their precious Goldie lacked the top of her skull and most of her brain.  Sadly, Luca Gold’s heart beat for only forty minutes.  Thus, as Christa surveyed what she called a surreal scene, she described her heart-pain:

“Every part of my physical body still ached from the pain of natural childbirth, but that pain felt like a paper cut compared to the torturous agony that had just detonated within my heart.”

For years the author dealt with heart-pain incorrectly.  Consequently, Christa tried to hide, numb, or avoid her pain.  As a result, she knew that heart-pain never goes away on its own.  You must feel, embrace, and bring that pain to the Healer.

Therefore, in those seconds of extreme torture, Ms. Gifford understood the seriousness of her choices.  For those choices would affect her heart, her relationships, and the rest of her days of earth.  So, inside of her broken heart, Christa made a life-changing choice.  She chose to give her pain to Jesus.

In conclusion, Christa applies her experience to any type of trauma we possibly suffer:

“None of us finds out what we’re made of when everything is rolling along nicely; we find out who we really are when hell is pressing in from all sides.  Trauma burns with such a hot fire that if we have any cracks in our foundation, all of them will be exposed.”

Today’s question: What heart-pain must you feel, embrace, and bring to the Healer?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Our inner realm either thrives or withers”

Crumple me up or exalt me

“He can crumple me up or exalt me; He can do anything He chooses.”- Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest

In his Conclusion to Finding Favor, Brian Jones summarizes all the aspects of God’s favor he previously discussed.  Of course, Pastor Jones notes, everyone surely desires God’s provision, intervention, and confirmation of His will,  However, he asks, who is their right mind wants aspects of God’s favor such as failure, illness, or obscurity?  Hence, the nineteenth century spiritual writer George MacDonald observed:

“Man find is hard to get what he wants, because he does not want the best; God finds it hard to give, because He would give the best, and man will not take it.”

Therefore, we need to discipline ourselves to want whichever type of favor God chooses to bestow.  And one way this occurs, Brian emphasizes, is through prayer before meals.  In addition, Brian describes five benefits of mealtime prayer.  Praying before meals:

  1. marks the meal together as a sacred pause in the family’s day.  Offering a  prayers before meals, the author states, “simply invites God to be part of the conversation that follows.”
  2. gives parents the chance to model that God is important.  As Donald Miller wrote in Blue Like Jazz, “Sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself.”
  3. prompts lively discussions about God and the Bible.  In these talks, no question’s out of bounds.
  4. opens the door to resolving conflict.  When you take a moment to focus on God, that allows you to focus right away on what others think and feel.
  5. teaches kids to pray even when they don’t feel like it.  Mealtime prayer disciplines you to pray in spite of your feelings, not because of them.

In conclusion, Pastor Jones underscores, all wise spiritual mentors know “that until you believe something in your heart, you keep confessing it with your mouth as you watch someone else who believes it in their heart.”

Today’s question: What Scriptures help you accept God’s favor, whether He chooses to crumple you up or exalt you?  Please share.

Coming Monday: the new Short Meditation – “My seasons change, You stay the same”

Tomorrow’s blog: “Heart-pain must be felt, embraced”

God’s stamp of approval on your life

“If we have God’s stamp of approval on our lives — meaning if we’re doing the things he has called us to do — and most importantly, finishing the things he has called us to do — and we do it for his glory, in his strength, to accomplish his goals, then we’re wildly successful.”- Brian Jones (emphasis author’s)

Brian Jones concludes Chapter 10 of Finding Favor as he provides a new definition of success.  True success, he underscores, is finding favor with God.  Failure included.  Thus, Pastor Jones stresses an important lesson we learn from Scripture.  God sometimes leads a person to do something, knowing that they’ll fail.  Yet, He tells them to do it anyway.

Most noteworthy, Brian states, when we look back and see a “string of abysmal , embarrassing, heart-wrenching failures,” that’s a clear sign we’re squarely in God’s will.  Hence, the author summarizes:

“The good things, the painful things, the boneheaded decisions we make, and the occasional glimpses of spectacular accomplishment in the eyes of the world all park themselves under the same roof called God’s divine blessings.”

In conclusion, Pastor Jones notes a troubling difference between the want and the need to be successful.  Psychologist Richard Beck comments on this difference in The Slavery of Death.  Americans, he observes, don’t consider a person a success because they attain some remarkable goal.  Rather, success means one’s life doesn’t betray marks of failure, depression, helplessness, or sickness.

Finally, Brian admits that he dreads insignificance or being average.  Christ should be everything we need.  However, for Pastor Jones, as well as ourselves, we must honestly admit that most days it’s not enough.  Like Brian and the Old Testament prophet Samuel, we must learn to “grow in . . . favor with the Lord.” (1 Samuel 2:26}

Today’s question: Describe God’s stamp of approval on your calling.  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Crumple me up or exalt me”

Making an idol of exhaustion

“I do not mean to make an idol of health, but it does seem to me that at least some of us have made an idol of exhaustion.  The only time we have done enough is when we are running on empty and when the ones we love most are the ones we see the least.”- Barbara Brown Taylor, “Divine Distraction”

In Chapter 10 (“Strategic Failure”), the concluding chapter of Finding Favor, Brian Jones observes that success can be hard to define.  Hence, Pastor Jones gives two examples of what success is not.  As a result, we see more clearly what success truly means.

1.  You’re not successful if you destroy your health along the way.  When God calls you to do something, Brian notes, you always end up finding more things to do than time allows.  Thus, you become your own worst enemy.

Furthermore, there’s a difference between working hard for God and turning into a workaholic.  Also, Pastor Jones asserts, in God’s eyes people are worth dying for.  Success is not.  As Henry            Blackaby wrote in Spiritual Leadership, God, unlike people, never piles on more than we can handle.  God never:

  • overlooks people
  • drives His servants to the point of breakdown
  • burns people out
  • gives people tasks beyond the strength or ability He provides

2.  You’re not a success if you destroy your family along the way.  God’s well aware that once you choose to do something well, you’ll have to make a decision to cut back somewhere else.  There’s only so much time.  Most noteworthy, when God calls you to do something your family’s always a part of that vision.  Consequently, it’s not an either or – either vision or family.

Today’s question: Have you ever made an idol of exhaustion?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: God’s stamp of approval on your life”

A specific, tangible sign of divine confirmation

“Sometimes when we ask for God’s favor, he responds by giving us a specific, tangible sign of divine confirmtion that allows us to take our next step with confidence.”- Brian Jones

“If now I have found favor in your eyes, give me a sign that it is really you talking to me.”- Judges 6:17 (NIV)

In Chapter 9 (“Divine Confirmation”) of Finding Favor, Brian Jones talks about another way God shows us His favor.  When we ask for it, God gives us unmistakable confirmation He’s at work.  He’s leading, guiding, and calling us to do something.  Also, as Gideon failed to realize, with God what we can see never determines the battle.  Rather, what God sees within us determines the battle.

Furthermore, Pastor Jones underscores, in Judges 6:17 Gideon uttered the twenty-one most important words one could ask when trying to discern God’s will on a particular issue.  Yet, our tendency to overanalyze things erects a barrier to experiencing God’s presence.

Therefore, Brian suggests five ways to ask for a sign from the Lord:

  1. Look to Scripture first.  Thus, a principle in Scripture provides the guidance or specific direction you need.  If God’s Word provides the sign, you need not look anywhere else.
  2. Don’t ask for a sign as a way to sidestep patience and suffering.  Hence, it’s important not to sidestep the wisdom-building process of the trials and tribulations God takes us through.  When we sidestep the issue, that represents our attempt to force God’s hand in the matter.
  3. Ask for a sign only when you’re forced to do so.  If time is of the essence, there’s nothing written in Scripture, and you’re indecisive about God’s direction, then ask for a sign.
  4. Wait until you have an A or B scenario.  Before you ask for a sign, narrow down your choices to only two.  Use godly wisdom, trusted advice, and searching the Scriptures.
  5. Ask for an abnormal occurence of an everyday occurence.  Pastor Jones finds that God works best when given realistic, everyday options.

Today’s question: Describe a time when you asked for a specific, tangible sign of divine confirmation.  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Making an idol of exhaustion”

In times of immunity from care

“Set aside a certain number of days, during which you shall be content with the scantiest and cheapest fare, with coarse and rough dress, saying to yourself the while, ‘Is this the condition that I feared?‘  It is precisely in times of immunity from care that the soul should toughen itself beforehand for occasions of greater stress.”- Seneca, Roman Stoic philosopher, Moral Letters to Lucillius

Brian Jones concludes Chapter 8 of Finding Favor as he notes God responds to our requests for His favor in one of two ways.  First, God responds through provision for our financial needs.  Just as often, though, God responds by making us poorer.  Thus, poverty signals God’s favor as much as wealth.

As a result, Pastor Jones wants us to consider two truths:

1.  The more we consume, the more in bondage we are.  Consequently, as author Joshua Becker notes on his website,

  • the average American home contains 300,000 items (LA Times)
  • over the past 50 years, the average size of an American homes has tripled (NPR)
  • 10% of all Americans rent offsite storage

Even without considering what the Bible says, a visit to most other countries reveals something wrong with the typical American lifestyle.  In addition, times of immunity from care:

  • toughen the soul for times of greater stress
  • help us gain perspective and feel freedom
  • separate our perception of blessing from the consumption of material possessions

2.  The less we own, the more freedom we have.  Rather than giving us freedom, our glut of possessions steals freedom from us.  As Jesus said in Matthew 6:24, “You cannot serve God and money.”  And, as Pastor Jones astutely observes:  “Anxiety comes when you try.”

Today’s question: How do times of immunity from care fortify you for occasions of greater stress?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “A specific, tangible sign of divine confirmation”