The Opportunity and Struggle with Saying No
False responsibility is a spiritual bondage that robs us of time, energy, peace and joy. I know I cannot be all things to all people, yet so many times I have fallen prey to this trap of the enemy. False responsibility causes us to put too many things on our plate and to carry burdens that are not ours to carry. We are called to be good stewards of our time, energy, and finances. To do this, we have to pick and choose carefully what we are responsible for or we and those we care about will pay the price.
Do you find yourself struggling with saying no because you don’t want to let others down? Do you do things out of obligation and feel trapped in a cycle that you don’t know how to get out of? Do you find yourself carrying emotional burdens of those around you?
In the times that we live in people all around us are burned out and exhausted due to the trap of false responsibility. We don’t have to feel guilty for saying no. In fact, we need to say no a lot and be very strategic about what we say yes to.
When I see children playing without a care in the world it makes me wish that they could keep that sweet innocence forever. As they run and spin round and round in circles and throw their heads back and laugh, their carefree nature takes my breath away. They are free to just run and play, unencumbered by life’s obligations and responsibilities. They haven’t had time to pick up a lot of emotional baggage yet. Emotional baggage slows anyone down with it’s weight.
As a young girl I remember feeling weighed down by responsibility for as long as I can remember. I remember longingly watching the other kids who seemed to not have a care in the world. How I wished I could feel like that. Unfortunately, I felt responsible for so many things. I worried about how we were going to make it. I worried about my little brother. I worried about my mother. I felt responsible for myself and that felt like a lot of weight to carry for a young girl.
I sat down a week ago and fingers flew across the keyboard as I typed my thoughts about the need for the Church to reform. A key thought I typed was how it was important that we stop looking at the splinters in the eyes of those in our world around us (the unchurched and the churched) and attend to the massive plank in our own eyes. The overriding thought I had was that the church was never meant to be a perfect place where the struggling didn’t feel comfortable walking in the doors and being real, but rather it is meant to be a hospital for the hurting and a place we can all come to to be lovingly walked forth into healing and freedom.
I was feeling pretty passionate and sure of myself as I typed. By bedtime that night I had come face to face with a plank lodged in my own eye.
Out of the Heart the Mouth Speaks
Out of our hearts our mouths speak. Things we don’t even know we are feeling will come out through offhand comments when we least expect it and we can find ourselves asking, “where did this even come from?” I had one of those moments and without meaning to made my husband feel very judged. Just when I thought I was doing so good I go and put my foot in my mouth. The irony of this situation is not lost on me.
I used to think that bondage meant things like drug addiction, pornography, etc. I was totally blind to the fact that I as a Christian was blind, deaf and bound in so many areas of my life. We can be bound by things such as perfectionism, false responsibility, feelings of inadequacy, anxiety, unforgiveness, fear, conformity and more. Jesus came to set us free from every bondage…even the bondage of religion. Where there is a feeling of torment, there is a bondage. He brought the amazing gift of grace. There is a lot packed into this post. Take the time to study these scriptures. Pray about what Holy Spirit wants to do in your heart. The video is long but very anointed. You do not want to miss what Jason Upton speaks about. May God bless you and set you free in every area of your life.
The Prison of the Vow
As a child I made an inner vow. When my daddy broke a promise to call I was bitterly disappointed and I vowed never to let anyone hurt me like that again. In that moment, I felt the pain subside and a strange numbness take over. When I made this vow I didn’t realize it, but I gave Satan access to my heart. My heart became hardened by my own vow. Over the years I came to realize that I had a pattern of either numbing my heart or hardening my heart to “protect” myself from feeling pain.
Over time I began to feel a frustration towards the diminished feeling in my heart, but didn’t know how to fix the problem. For example, I began to see that I couldn’t properly grieve when people I cared about died. The pain would get trapped inside, locked up with no way out and the numbness just continued to grow deeper and deeper. I eventually realized that I wasn’t feeling that much of the good stuff either. Anesthesia has a way of doing that – the Novocaine may block the pain of the filling when we have dental work but it also causes us to not feel the good stuff too. Have you ever used Ora-gel? It will cause you to lose even the enjoyment of delicious food because it’s anesthetized your taste buds. This is what had happened to me. Life just wasn’t tasting very good. Everything was just becoming bland and numb.
I’m convinced that we remember things for a reason. Our memories serve as road markers on our spiritual journey. When I reflect back on certain memories, I can see that God allowed me to remember these mile markers because they are significant points on my journey with Him. As memories surface, He desires to reveal and heal. Often these memories are very significant. They can be happy; they can be sad. They can be incredibly painful at times.
My natural tendency has been to bury all of the “bad and sad” memories in my efforts to look forward and not stay stuck in the past. I’ve seen people so stuck in the past that they relive these moments over and over, a tool the enemy uses to torment them. There is sound logic in not staying stuck in the past, but there comes a time where God wants us to deal with those “bad and sad” memories from our past. This has been my year for resurfacing and dealing with these memories.
Left untended, emotional wounds fester in our hearts like a splinter. We may think, “better to leave the splinter in my heart and numb my heart to the pain than face the potentially worse pain of picking at that thing and waking up all of the sensations around the splinter.” The process of getting it out may seem very scary to us. Unfortunately, the more we numb ourselves to pain, the more we also numb ourselves to joy. Those unattended splinters in my heart caused me more long term hurt then the initial wounds ever did. Many of those splinters festered in there for years.