This blog post may be solely for me, and perhaps I should have journaled it, but just in case there is someone else who needs to hear this...Here we go.
We as people can be tough on others. Holding them to high standards and unrealistic expectations. These standards and expectations are often heightened when applied to ourselves. But by pushing ourselves to meet unrealistic expectations, in the event we fall short, our inner critic can become ruthless.
Standards and expectations are oftentimes subconsciously created, informed by the opinions of society, culture, religion, or family and friends. Whether spoken directly or indirectly, these opinions filter our standards, goals, and expectations thus creating the lens through which we begin to see ourselves. Our lens is also warped by past hurts and disappointments, a driving force behind our actions and behaviors.
With these factors influencing our outputs, it’s easy to get caught up in the rat race of life, trying to keep up with and impress people we don’t even know! CRAZY, right? In our attempts to run the race and maintain the pace we end up running on empty, tired, not happy, and truthful pursuing a life or lifestyle that is not a true reflection of us.
It is terribly easy to get caught up and become influenced by others! It happens without us even being aware of it. For example, we may clean our house all day, every day because of the remarkably clean Pinterest houses we see. Or we may visit a friend's house, whose house is always spotless, and feel guilty or ashamed because we left dishes in the sink overnight and have unfolded clothes on the couch. We hear this all the time that social media is the ‘highlight reel’ of people’s life. Yet, we still see it and pursue a similar life. Or we see the “fruits of their labor” and now we are working from sun up to sun down trying to have the same or similar fruits as they have.
Sometimes we are working hard to make up for past failures and disappointments. Thinking that our success will make up for it. Maybe it’s wearing expensive clothes to distract from your perceived flaws or to make you more acceptable by a particular crowd. Maybe it's the effort you put into your yard because having the greenest grass you believe shows you are worthy of your neighbors’ admiration and will make you more likeable.
Whatever the cause or reason, it pushes us to constantly work and to be in pursuit of things or status. There is nothing wrong with work or to pursue goals. The problem is when we do it and our reasons or motives behind the action are unhealthy. The standard that we are to measure our life against is the standard that God has set for us. The world, others, and even we will have thoughts and opinions. However, if it doesn’t line up with the standard of God, it is not what we should use as our rubric.
Let me share this with you, God says:
YOU ARE LOVED
YOU ARE FORGIVEN
YOU ARE ENOUGH
YOU ARE WORTHY
Read this more than once because I want you to get this.
This is important because many of our actions are rooted in:
When we don’t know who we are in Christ we easily get caught up running in the hamster wheel of life dictated by society and others. Trying to prove or be loved, forgiven, enough or worthy, when you already are. Let’s get off the hamster wheel and let the standard that has been given to us by God be the standard for our life. The standard by which we make decisions and guide our actions.
I know society tells us to work hard, sacrifice is required to have success, too much white space on your calendar means you aren’t doing enough or you aren’t being productive. In the same breath, we are also incredibly hard on ourselves. We create a standard and expectations for ourselves that are too high and possibly unrealistic, and when we don’t meet them our inner critic starts badger.
For Everything there is a season, a time or every activity under heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1 NLT
We all go through seasons in our life, just like nature. The seasons that we may find ourselves in can impact us spiritually, personally (on an individual level), and in our relationships with others. Having an idea of the season you are in can help you develop the right perspective during that season.
This is a time of rest and recharge, a time to take advantage of the slowed-down pace that it brings and a time to seek guidance and direction. The winter season is cold, and many things go dormant. Although things may appear lifeless, their dormancy is actually a part of their growth cycle. Winter is a time for inner growth.
Spiritual: Winter is a time of introspection and the examination of our hearts and motives, allowing God to work in us to strengthen and mature us. Winter may sometimes feel like God is not present like He has forgotten about us. As a result, this can work positively in that it compiles us to seek God more, to hunger to get into His presence. This continued seeking draws us closer to God and God closer to us, resulting in a deeper love relationship with our Heavenly Father.
Personal: During this time, our relationships can seem to take a much-needed break allowing us to focus on ourselves. It becomes an opportunity to examine our goals and pursue professional and personal development. We can also invest in ourselves by taking time to enjoy hobbies and invest in activities or practices that will increase our self-awareness.
Relationships with others: The is also a time to look at our relationship with others. In Dr. Dharius Daniels's book Relationship Intelligence, he encourages us to press pause. This pause is an opportunity to reflect, evaluate, and align the relationships in our life. To ensure we have the right people in the right place. It's a chance to invest more in relationships that you don't usually get an opportunity to do so.
When we emerge from our winter, we are busy planting, cleansing, and restoring. The spring rain acts as refreshing. This is a time of transition as the soil is rotated, new things are planted, old plants are pruned, and we also experience re-growth as things that went dormant in the winter start to take bloom.
Spiritual: Represents a time of joy and glory after dormancy and hardships. We have a stronger sense of His presence in or life. New seeds of truth are planted in our minds and watered and cultivated through intimacy with Him. This season holds within it great hope—hope that the planted seeds will eventually manifest an abundant harvest.
Personal: It's a time of implementation. To take the things that you dreamed of in the spring, the things that God planted into your spirit and get busy planting. You may experience a transition during this time. Transitioning from one position to another in your job, financially changes, or transition in relationships or in your business or career.
Relationship with others: Spring is a time that can feel like we are emerging from "hibernating." We become more social and active than the winter increasing our interactions with our friends. At the same time, we are perhaps implementing and adjusting to changes in our relationships as a result of the pause that we took in the winter. These changes in our friendship could be watching them re-bloom, re-positioning for some, and pruning for others.
Summer is a mixed time of work and fun. It's an enjoyable time because you are starting to experience some reaping from your spring planting. During the Summer, you do experience times of extreme dryness and heat, but the summer showers offer some relief. There is still work required because you have to do maintenance such as watering, pulling weeds, and fertilizing and keeping away bugs. Growth is still taking place.
Spiritual: Represents a time of spiritual dryness. A time of needing more spiritual food than usual to stay replenished. You can come out of this season stronger if you endure. On the downside, Summer is a busy season, and we can become overzealous and place too many irons in the fire. This is a valuable time to seek God for guidance and wisdom, so you know where to put your energy and efforts to the right things.
Personal: Summer is a Self-development season. In this season of our life, we may have to persevere more than in other seasons. It may seem at times like you are "going through the fire" with some of the trials you face. God can use this time to prune you, which enhances your growth. However, at the same time, you experience moments of relief from the difficulty. The difficulty or tension of this season comes from the growth that is taking place internally. Self-Care is of extreme importance to help you stay encouraged and focused because of the level of investment you will make into others during this season. You want to make sure that you keep your cup filled so that you can pour "quality" things into others.
Relationships with others: This season requires more work than others when it comes to maintaining our friendships. We should always work at maintaining our friendships, but during the Summer, the maintenance needed to keep it healthy and is higher. Part of this could be due to the conflict experienced in the friendship. The friendship may experience some tough moments and require more time and effort for it to remain healthy but to also flourish. This is also a season, were those friendships that have changed are pruned because they are not healthy or fit for this season in your life.
Things fall off/loss, change, and preparation for the new things that are to come. Things start to slow down, and there is relief from the Summer. Fall is known as a time of harvest requiring more pruning in preparation for the approaching winter, another time of transition.
Spiritual: Represents a time of harvest when you bear fruits and see God's love expressed throughout our lives... More correction and shaping will take place as God prepares you for the winter season.
Personal: This is a time for evaluation of self. Asking yourself, "What is working?" "What is not?" "What are some things that you need to let go of or change?" We all love a harvest! This is the time that we experience the harvest. God blesses you in other seasons, but in the Fall, you are experiencing the fruit of your work. Look at your harvest as overflow. The things that you planted in the spring, cared for, and continued to care for throughout the Summer are in full bloom, and you see the full effects of it in your life. It may bring about change and loss, but it's required for you to have the things that you have been working for. This is a time where you get to also rest because you have done the heavy work the season before.
Relationships with others: This can be a stressful time for the relationships in our life. A Fall season can be a time where we experience loss, and things fall away. Sometimes you see it coming, and other times, you aren't given that insight. The other side of the coin is seeing the harvest of the investments you have made into your friendships/relationships. The relationships are flourishing and perhaps are in a place that you long for them to be, a place you have been working hard to get to.
This is yet another season of pruning in preparation for the winter. Pruning is a way to be a good steward over things that God has given you. It doesn't only mean cut away the dead. It also means to cut away at the things that are doing well, but pricing or making some adjustments, you will experience what you are trying to accomplish when it's time for it to grow or as it continues to grow.
It is essential to realize that these seasons do not line up with the experience in the natural. That would be nice, but that is not how it works. We all go through seasons in our lives, and many times the season you are in is not the same as others close to you. However, it is vital that as Christians as brothers and sisters in Christ that we support and encourage each other in whichever season someone may be experiencing. While our circumstance and the totality of how we experience a season are different, we can empathize and connect with the difficulty of a season. Sharing your season and how you experienced God in that season can be the BIGGEST encouragement to another. This not only encourages others but is also a way to walk alongside each other on our Christian journey.
Until Next Time~
Emotions are vibrations of energy that our body produces, and each emotion has its own unique vibrational frequency. When we experience an emotion weather, we are in a difficult situation or not; we go through a three-step emotional experience.
1. Our body generates the emotional vibration
2. We begin to feel the emotion and any thoughts of physical sensations that come along with it.
3. We process the emotion-We choose to let the emotion go, and we move on.
Once we have successfully moved through the emotional experience, we are free to forward. However, when the second or third step is interrupted, the emotional experience is incomplete, and the energy of that emotion is likely to become trapped.
Often the more overwhelming or extreme an emotion is, the more likely it is to become trapped.
When we experience situations that touch the "heart," think things that we often describe as causing heartache, heartbreak, broken-hearted, and sometimes as a result of that painful situation, we go into protect mode. We feel as if we need to put a wall up around our hearts. The crazy part is that is literally what is happening on the inside of us. A wall of emotional energy is being built around our hearts as a form of protection.
Our heart is essential to not just our physical body, but our emotional well being- Our subconscious mind knows and understands this. It is for that reason; our subconscious will protect our hearts from danger or perceived danger. When we are in danger physically, we hide and protect ourselves. Our subconscious mind follows the same logic. When your heart is being hurt or in danger of being hurt, your subconscious quickly responds by building a shelter-a wall- to keep the heart safe. Heart walls are created with the energy of trapped emotions.
Is it possible that the reason we aren't walking in our purpose, fully maximizing our potential is that the things we love/desire are not being placed in the proper priority?
We say we love God, we want to live a life that is pleasing to Him, and He is the head of our life, but we also love self, stuff, comfort, acceptance from others, applause, the approval of others, and living by culture's standards perhaps a tad bit more. Sometimes we can be quick to say no, that is not the case with that question, yet our actions speak otherwise. It's similar to how we sometimes say we trust God and know God will take care of our situation. Then we pray and lay it at the altar and quote, "Be still and know that I am God", but the second we get up, we are back trying to fix the problem–supposedly “helping God out.”
Matthew 19: 21 says, "Jesus answered, ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’" (NIV) Jesus was answering a young man's questions about how he could have eternal life, exposing the man’s heart when he did, which reflected a sin in his life. The rich young man desired his possessions more than he desired to have eternal life. Because the man's heart wasn't in the right place; his priorities were not in the correct order. Verse 22 says that he went away grieving because he had too many possessions. What Jesus was asking of him was too much for the young man. He chose not to follow Jesus. His love of things took priority over his love for Jesus and desire to follow Him.
When I read this story initially, I thought the young man was just plain silly. Material stuff over eternal life seems like an easy pick to me! But after further thought and re-reading the chapter, I realized that it could have easily been me or any believer in this story. This young man treasured stuff, but it could have been a job, business, relationship, friendship, money, retirement funds, talents and skills, performance, and the list could go on.
To love God is to obey God. (John 14:21; John 14: 15). When Jesus said to give up our own way, take up our cross and come, follow him (Matthew 16:24) it requires that we must be willing to let go of things and follow Him. Letting go doesn't mean you get rid of them so they no longer exist in your life, but rather, you let go of your grip on it. (open hand). Letting go of things is a form of surrendering. We often understand surrendering our lives (as believers, we give our lives to Christ), but it also means our lives in totality. All areas of our lives are surrendered to God, His way and His will. It's not just our eternal destination we are talking about when we say we surrender our lives. We have to surrender our ways, our thoughts, agendas, attitudes, relationships, etc.–fully and completely. Romans 6:13 says that we should give ourselves completely to God. You are giving Him lordship over every area of your life. This is a choice that you have to make daily.
Recently, I had a pleasant conversation with a good friend as we caught up on the "what's happenings" of our lives over the last few months. It's such a blessing when you can catch up with a friend, and despite the time between calls, it always feels like you talked just yesterday! During that call, I shared with my friend some of my hang-ups and struggles in promoting my new devotional Hello God. My friend, being the wonderful person that they are, ever so politely told me that every excuse I gave was a lie from the enemy and I needed to ignore them. Thank God for friends that will be real with you.
J.Branch is a wife, mother and child of God. She is passionate about helping others live the life they desire, have fruitful relationships and know who they were created to be and to live a life of purpose.
To connect with me about speaking or facilitating please contact me at contact me.