I want to introduce you to my friend Erin, we've been getting to know each other over the last year or so and I really like the journey that she is on and how she is living it out. She is authentic and real, and always wanting to learn and grow through every season. She is a brilliant photographer and has done a bit of that for us at BraveGirl, she is also a nutritionist and health enthusiast who loves Jesus. At our BraveGirl conference this year I asked her to run a workshop and we got such great feedback about it that I asked her to turn it into a blog post for me. I know that you will enjoy being challenged and inspired in this two-part blog series with Erin.
- Steph xx
The Healing at the Pool – John 5: 1-9
Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”
“Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”
Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.
Do you want to be made well?
Doesn’t that seem like an odd question. I mean he had been paralysed for 38 years. He was waiting to get into the pool. And yet Jesus asked him this question.
I had a situation a little over a year ago where I didn’t want to be made well. 3 years ago I married a wonderful man, who has three teenage daughters, and I found myself in the position of being the stepmonster. To say I struggled with it is an understatement. Our home-life had become rather tense and unpleasant. I wanted the others in the situation to be fixed. It wasn’t my problem, it was theirs… Stay tuned to hear how this worked out!
Do YOU want to be made well? Like Linus and his blanket, if you’re determined to hold on to what you have, you may well be closing the door to the possibilities God has in store for you. So, what is standing in your way? What sort of things do you need to change about your life in order to be whole? Are there things you need to let go of?
Often we get stuck where we are, in the identity and labels we give ourselves - depressed, anxious, fat, unfit, weak, loser, failure, unloveable, unforgiveable… Or maybe in holding on to anger, nursing injustice or hurt from years back, stuck in the victim mindset and unable to move forward. Perhaps it is holding on to grief, looking back to something or someone you once held dear. Or maybe holding on to a destructive habit, wanting to be healthy and whole, but not willing to stop smoking or drinking or eating your troubles away.
To be made well, to be who God designed us to be, we have to be willing to let go of what we’re holding on to, so we have open hands and hearts for what He has for us.
I believe a big part of the problem is found in our sense of identity.
Where do you get your identity?
Is it in appearance, or from God.
Is it in what you do, or what He says about you?
Is it in who the world sees, or who God sees?
What would you do differently if you acted like you loved yourself, and if you treated your body like you loved it?
I have found that women have this warped idea that looking after ourselves is selfish. That spending time and money on ourselves is a waste and we should feel guilty for it, especially as Christians. I firmly believe that this is false. This is a lie. God created us. We are his perfect creation and we are dearly loved by him.
When I was growing up we were taught this saying:
Joy - Jesus first, Others second, Yourself last.
While I agree that we need to put Jesus first, I believe the rest of this is wrong! In the bible it says to love others as ourselves. We need to love ourselves. You cannot pour out anything from an empty cup. It’s important to put some time and resources into filling your cup, putting priority on YOU and loving and discovering yourself.
Some ideas of things could include going for walks (especially in nature), exercising, getting your hair or nails done, getting a massage or facial, taking a relaxing bath, reading a book, buying yourself flowers, listening to music, praying and bible reading. These ideas may be very different from what you are used to but remember - sometimes we need to let go the familiar, and be willing to try something new. New things can feel odd at the beginning like reaching for an apple instead of chocolate, being willing to be vulnerable and say sorry or forgive instead of staying angry, embarrassed or offended, to put on our sneakers & get out the door instead of defaulting to Netflix, to feel the feelings rather than trying to bury or hide them. Your new thing may be facing up to the fact that we cant do it alone and getting help from a professional, a counsellor, nutritionist or personal trainer. Maybe its getting people to pray and support, or a combination of all of the above.
LOOKING AFTER YOUR THOUGHTS:
Your thoughts matter!
What you focus on expands.
Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
When you're feeling good, when your cup is full, you’re in a good place to fulfil well all the roles you have (friend, sister, wife, mother etc).
"Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”
According to the Mayo Clinic, positive thinking is linked to a wide range of health benefits including:
* Longer life span
* Less stress
* Lower rates of depression
* Increased resistance to the common cold
* Better stress management and coping skills
* Lower risk of cardiovascular disease-related death
* Increased physical well-being
* Better psychological health
I haven’t made it to this stage in my life without acquiring a few scars. I have made many mistakes in my past, and I know I will make many more in my future, because I am human. I am on my second marriage. I came out of my first marriage not knowing who I was, not liking who I had become, and feeling like I had spent too many years trying to live up to some idea I had in my head of what a good wife is! I had lost any scrap of who I really was, and what I was living for. I had lost my identity, and the words I used to describe myself were loser, failure, sinner, unloveable, and incapable.
It took a while to change this.
I had to go through the journey of accepting that while I had made mistakes, that didn’t change how God saw me. I needed to replace the devil's lies with Gods truth.
I had to see that even though I had made mistakes, that doesn’t make ME a mistake.
My marriage may have failed, but that doesn’t make ME a failure.
God loves me no matter what. He tells me, and you, that I am royalty, that I am dearly loved, that I am bought with a price, that I am valuable, and I am his daughter.
Have a read through the first chapter of Ephesians. Really read it. Mull over it.
Some of my takeaways from it:
* I am planned
* I am loved
* I am adopted into Gods family
* I am free, abundantly free
* I am provided for
* I am delighted in
* I am valuable
* I am called
Who are you? What is it you are living for? Do you know you are free?
If you have identified that you are living under the devils lies, go back to the source of truth. Replace the lies that you are living under with Gods truth.
Maybe you’re asking how? How can I do this?
Next week on the blog Erin will be addressing the HOW so be sure to check back or make sure you are signed up to our mailing list and get it straight to your inbox!