Relying on Others

Relying on someone else is probably one of the biggest challenges for me. It is a challenge firstly because I am a control freak. This need to be in control of the situation has caused many issues for me: mainly in the form of stress and worry. To let someone else help means I run the risk of it not being what I had in mind or by the time I explain it I could have just done it myself. So it usually turns out that I just do everything myself thus leading to stress and worry as it all piles up.

This tendency spills out into the rest of my life too. It is not only tasks that I don’t ask for help with, but also emotional burdens that I don’t share. I come from a family that honours silent strength. It is the idea that you are strong if you can ‘grin and bear it’. This spans back for generations. We are a family that DOES NOT rely on other people. Other people can rely on us (we are first class helpers!) but this only seems to work one way. Let me tell you that it is exhausting to always be giving and never able to ask for help in return.

It is partially a pride issue. It has been engrained throughout generations of our family that if we ask for help it is a sign of weakness. This is so untrue, of course, but so are many messages that go through our heads that have been passed down through the generations. Such as ‘big girls/boys don’t cry’.

Whatever the message may be that you hold on to, it silently dictates your life. This message of silent strength has been a stronghold in my life.

Everything came crashing down on me last year. I tried to grin and bear it but I could see it playing itself out in other areas of my life: I became depressed, my anger was displaced on to my fiancé, I couldn’t sleep, and I no longer wanted to go out. Why? Because I couldn’t share my burden and I couldn’t stand the idea that people would know that I wasn’t able to handle it alone.

I wish I could say that is all in the past but it is still a real challenge for me. The only difference now is that I actually asked someone to help me. That’s right! One person! What can I say? God is still working on me! One person is an accomplishment for me though and eventually I hope to open up to more people.

We were never meant to be alone or have to bear burdens on our own. Sharing our deepest aches and pains is hard and takes practice (in my case LOTS of practice). Relationships involve giving and receiving. The body of Christ involves giving and receiving. I read an illustration that helps describe this interdependence. The illustration begins with a bucket of water. As you help others you are pouring water into their buckets. Soon though the water runs out and your bucket is empty. You cannot pour into someone else what you do not have. This is why it is important for someone to be pouring into your bucket. You need someone pouring into your life to enable you to pour into others.

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If you were my family, you would be saying that God is the only one who needs to pour into us. It is true that God does need to pour into us and it is important we are getting fed by His word. However, God also works through other people by sending a word of testimony or encouragement. Our testimonies and experiences can and will be used by God to help strengthen others. The testimony of others will encourage us in our time of need.

If you are like me I would encourage you to start reaching out to people. Look for someone you can trust and actually trust them. You do not have to be alone.

If you are looking to better support someone, reach out. Make a special effort for them and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Everyone is different in how they need support. Take time to learn what they need. Make yourself available, show value, be persistent, and be genuine. You may be surprised in the way God uses you to help someone else!

A Time For Beautiful

I have always been struck by (and slightly jealous of) an artists perspective of everyday life. A painting, a photograph, song lyrics all demonstrate how it is possible to take the ordinary and give it meaning and beauty.

That is what I believe God sees and makes when He looks at us.

“He has made everything beautiful in its time…”
Ecclesiastes 3:11 ESV

This verse is not the easiest to comprehend. You don’t have to live a considerable amount of time to experience or see that there is a massive amount of pain and suffering in this world. Is there really anything beautiful about it? But like any artist, God sees what it is and instead of leaving it the mess it is, He makes it into something beautiful that has meaning. As a counsellor I am all about the meaning!

What I have learned is that time is our best friend and our worst enemy.

A simple sentence like “in its time…” throws us straight into the unknown. Well, how much time? Even if we know how much time it is either too far away for us to wait or just not enough! I don’t think I have used the phrase “Ah, that is the perfect amount of time! Great!” And if I have, it was most certainly sarcasm! Nevertheless, whether too much or too little, we are bound by time.

What is striking about time, as we see in Ecclesiastes 3, is its usage. There is a time for everything… death, birth, mourning, rejoicing, planting, harvesting… which leads me to believe that just as there are times when life couldn’t be uglier, there are also times when it is made beautiful by the hand of God.

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And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”
Philippians 1:6 ESV

All credit goes to God for the work He does in us but we still have a part to play. Whenever I am beginning with someone in counselling, there are essentially 5 things that I want to prepare anyone for in this process of being changed/transformed:

  1. Work… hard work. Hibernating doesn’t work! Although I have imagined how nice it would be to remain snuggled up in my bed as God transformed me from caterpillar to butterfly… I think God laughed when I ran that by Him!
  2. What surfaces. You are not always going to like what you see. That is a good thing. Be thankful that God is taking out what you don’t like seeing!
  3. Doubt. You may experience this often. From everywhere. Keep Bible verses close to you as reminders and encouragement.
  4. Loneliness. You may feel alone at times. Sometimes we just need someone to listen to us. If you feel lonely and like no one cares… chances are that people really have no idea what is going on inside you (unless they have mastered mind-reading…) or they really have no idea how to show support. People get scared of what they don’t understand and sometimes deal with it the wrong way. But it is ok to ask for support (which can be specific) and encouragement from others. We weren’t placed in the body of Christ for no reason!
  5. Surprises. You honestly never know what will happen. People surprise you, relationships surprise you, situations change and surprise you, you surprise yourself, God moves and surprises you! It happens… seriously!
It doesn’t really matter to God what you bring to Him. There is nothing that is hidden from His eyes. He only requires our hearts and full obedience.