Rising Above the Negativity to Sludge to Live in the “Heavenlies”

Scripture tells me I’ve been “seated in the heanvenlies” but I often allow myself to get caught up in the sludge of negativity. Of anxiety and uncertainty. Of pride and selfishness.

I can become so consumed with all the chaos and noise around me, I forget I was redeemed to rise above.

When this happens, I must remind myself of who I am, who I belong to, and therefore who’s sovereign over the big and little details of not just my life, but all of humanity overall.

I’m not a powerless, helpless orphan forced to navigate this harsh world on my own. I’m blessed with every spiritual blessing, chosen, adopted into God’s family as His beloved child, forgiven, and lavished with kindness by the One who has full authority of all things, my family and circumstances included, and is, at this moment working everything out in accordance with His good and perfect will. (Eph. 1:4-11).

Standing on those truths allows me to shift from reactionary living to empowered, courageous, and eternally impactful purpose.

To look beyond the problems and concerns of today to the victory of tomorrow.

Last month, I spent an evening serving in a local church spanning three stories accessed by relatively steep stairs. As children raced up and down, their breath grew heavy, their faces sweaty, and their legs fatigued. The younger ones, however, moved much slower, their much shorter legs greatly challenged.

Standing at the bottom, or even the midway point, the climb ahead of them must have felt monumental, as if the staircase went on forever.

You may know precisely what that feels like.

One little girl in particular, perhaps two years old, clearly labored for every step. Her father, holding her hand, watched her patiently, lovingly, gently tugging her forward. Then, about halfway up, likely sensing her strength was gone, he scooped her up and balanced her on his shoulder.

Resting deeply in his embrace, she smiled and watched his strong and sure feet take her higher and higher, effortlessly. From that view, those stairs looked much different. A little less steep, each one not quite so high. Not nearly so insurmountable.

This is the type of view our heavenly Father offers. He knows our journey is tough. Exhausting. He knows, at times, the climb feels never-ending, and ten times more so when we survey the staircase from a ground level view. But God wants us to shift our perspective. To remember we’re not stuck in the muck that appears to stretch for miles in every direction. The anger and confusion and uncertainty of this present world. We are, at this moment, raised up with Christ and seated with him in the heavenly realms.”

Our home is elsewhere, so though we still struggle with the day to day, we have the power and authority in Christ to do as victorious daughters of the risen King. Notice, this is the truth. Where we presently, at this moment, reside.

Jesus paid a high price to grant us this position. With every action, reaction, and interaction, may we choose to live in the reality of this standing.

Let’s talk about this! How often do you give negative thinking more power than God’s voice? How can you more intentionally and more consistently focus on truth? What are some ways you currently do this? Share your thoughts, examples, and suggestions with us, because we can all learn from and encourage one another.

You may find this video, week one’s video presentation for our Becoming His Princess Bible study, encouraging and helpful as well.


 

If you haven’t grabbed your free copy of our study yet, you can do so HERE.

Want me or my team to come speak to your Bible study group, Moms group, or next women’s event? Contact me HERE.

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Defusing Conflict in Your Marriage

Early in our marriage, it seemed Steve and I spent more time fighting than talking, and with every ID-100160817argument, our hearts grew a little harder and the distance between us widened. More than that, we developed a pattern of behavior and a completely skewed perception of one another.

It’s amazing how quickly negative behavior patterns can take hold, and how quickly those patterns can affect our thoughts. The two are always interconnected. The more we fight with our spouse, the greater the tendency we have to see them as our enemy, and the more they become our enemy, the more negatively we view them. 

The latter is the kicker, and it creates a quickly spiraling hotbed of negative thinking.

20160602_101945Years ago, when Steve and I were just beginning to follow God’s way of loving one another, we went to a marriage retreat. While there, one of the speakers provided a visual that’s stuck with me. He held a quarter out at arm’s length, then talked about how he barely noticed the quarter. It was but a blip in his vision. But then he began to bring the quarter closer and closer to one eye. As he did, the quarter grew bigger, more dominant in his view, and everything in his peripheral blurred.

Now, imagine that quarter is one of your spouse’s behaviors. First of all, I’m not talking about abusive or destructive behaviors like addiction. I’m talking about stuff like leaving dirty laundry on the floor, the garage door open, or perhaps even saying something callus on occasion–it happens, folks. None of us are Jesus.

Back to the quarter/behavior. The more we focus on it, thinking about it, nagging our spouse about it, the bigger that thing becomes until it dominates our view. But if we pull back and consider that behavior as but one of many other quite positive behaviors, that thing shrinks … and our tenderness grows. 

This is a powerful conflict defuser, at least for the one practicing it, and when one participant in the conflict softens, the other has a much greater likelihood of doing the same.

So, step one is consciously, deliberately think of your spouse’s good. 

Here’s how it plays out in my home. Conflict often arises when both of us are tired or aren’t feeling well, because, well, honestly, that’s when we begin to self-preserve, but that’s a topic for another post. Looking around at all the things left undone that I have no energy to do, I can easily get irritated at my husband for “not helping.” (Largely because I’m quick to focus on how I’m feeling but slow to recognize when he’s feeling the same.)

BUT when I pause to remember all the times he’s gone grocery shopping for me, washed our cars, mowed the lawn, washed dirty dishes … you get the idea, I’m reminded he’s really a good guy at heart. And he truly does love me. He’s just having an off day. (We all have those, right?)

Step two: walk away. 

This can be crazy hard because our pride will convince us we need the last word, or will make us view the argument as competition or a challenge, as if winning the fight has any positive value at all. (Most often, to the contrary. We can win the fight and lose our marriage. It happens all the time. Almost happened to Steve and I.)

But don’t just walk away; walk away to pray–for your marriage and that God would align contemplation-176883_1920your heart with His. Because chances are, without God’s help, all we’ll do is stew. And become more angry, more hurt, and more committed to digging in our heels in this fight against our spouse, and we’ve already established how helpful that is. (Read sarcasm into that last phrase.) Granted, praying in the middle of a conflict is incredibly hard, but it’s also incredibly powerful. Marriage transforming powerful.

Step three: Return calm, strengthened by the Holy Spirit, and with one goal in mind–unity. 

If your goal is anything else, return to step one.

Obviously, following these steps won’t resolve every issue you and your spouse will face, but man will it put you on the best footing for that to occur.

And if you try all those steps (really try, and recognize you might need to cycle through them more than once, especially when dealing with more difficult issues) and you and your spouse are still at opposing ends, get help. Seek out a Christ-centered, wise,  unbiased individual who can walk beside you. Because the marriage God intended is within your grasp, and it’s beautiful. Beautiful enough to work for. 

LoveThrivesVerseJpgEven if it means setting that ugly, prideful, selfish, wounded self aside. (Speaking to myself here, because when I get to the heart of things, it’s usually my self-centeredness that’s causing a chunk of our issues.)

Let’s talk about this! What are some things you’ve found livingbygracepic-jpto be helpful in defusing a conflict? Have you tried any of the steps listed above, and if so, what were the results? Share your thoughts and experiences with us, because we can all learn from and encourage one another!

Oh, and before you go, I invite you to join my alter ego, Jen Pheobus, at her new blog! You can do so HERE. You can also read Jen’s first post on Christian Reads, a piece on the importance of guarding our words when life squeezes us, HERE. And make sure to like her Facebook page HERE to stay up to date on her writing journey. 🙂