When You No Longer Fit (#464)
What do you do when you come to see that the beautiful bride of Christ cannot be crammed into human systems without causing collateral damage? Wayne follows up last week's podcast as he interacts with listener emails and blog postings to discuss the challenges many face when they are no longer part of a system. What if your spouse sees it differently? How can I find friendships that will respect my journey? How do we avoid creating our own systems? And how do I handle the infamous, "Where do you go to church?" question. There are not easy answers to any of these because the flow out of a process of finding our freedom, learning to live in our freedom, and learning to share that freedom with others no matter where they are in their journey.
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I’m not crazy about the “done” label, but I’m one of them. For me it was part of the “coming to an end of myself, and self efforts, process. Perhaps the most significant part of that process was all the “tools” I employed that had numerous coats of Christian paint on them. I was earnest, but it was me trying to get to the centre where we meet God and enjoy relationship/fellowship with him.
It doesn’t matter who or what was responsible for providing those tools (parents, institutional church and/or a myriad of other conditioning dynamics), the point was I thought it was God, but it wasn’t. It was my thoughts that I had come to believe in, and I used those principles and ideas as part of the management of my life.
When I came to an end of all that (long story), I was invited into surrender and the resultant rest. Grace became the means by which my life is lived. Grace is the means by which God brings peace, joy, and ultimately love, as I learned to receive, there was a reservoir from which these could flow through me to others.
Wayne, I so appreciated your highlighting an extended time frame (you used a couple of years) for the change to take root. It has to be experienced, and that can’t be rushed (we don’t get to know people in a day, even if we learned a lot about them early on. As we spend time inside a developing relationship, that relationship grows through the experiencing of it.
My focus in relationships has become the pursuit of understanding rather than agreement. Understanding centres around the person to be understood, agreement focuses on thoughts, ideas and beliefs.
Thanks for so much of what you write and say that provides for understanding which can be used in my decision making processes as regards what I will believe. .
I really liked this statement: something like – “The way to get free of other peoples approval is to feel their disapproval and walk through it with Jesus till it no longer matters… It takes a while to find your freedom inside the affection of the father.”
I think this may have been discussed in another podcast, but I think sometimes people are labeled as “wounded” and are told they have to let Jesus heal them. But I kind of feel like everyone has wounds. How can you live in this world and not get wounded.
But aside from that relating to what you said, I think sometimes people look at God like he just “poof” makes things better miraculously rather than walking us through it, mistakes and all. I like that you said it takes a while because to me putting a label on someone that they are “wounded” when they have hurt feelings almost doesn’t allow the process of healing to happen. It’s like you are broken and Jesus needs to fix you and therefore.. you have work to do, or you aren’t close enough to him or something that makes you — less than. I know people don’t intentionally mean that… but I think in someone who is hurt’s heart it is like a cloud over their head that they need this “healing”.
I like your statement because I feel like if we get in a mess, Holy Spirit walks us through and teaches / reveals things to us so that we will be wiser and won’t get hurt like that again. Otherwise, it leaves me feeling like we are supposed to be almost like robots. Unfeeling with our masks on.
I now have to navigate telling people I don’t go to church and I believe differently, etc.. People are genuinely concerned and one friend was giving me examples of people who left church and are now in darkness. It kind of reminds me every time I mention to someone that I ride a motorcycle and they start telling me of the people they know who have died on motorcycles etc..
It’s an interesting journey.
HI Holly. You make an interesting point about “healing”. Another word that I have heard that I am reconsidering is that of “process”. That we are “in process” of… (being healed for instance).
There are several things to consider:
1) In Christ we ARE whole and healed. The Father sees us such. It is present and now. Our “healing” and “process” is coming into a greater awareness of that truth and thereby moving into greater freedom.
2) Words like “we need to be healed” and “we are in process” are not wrong in and of themselves, I suppose, but because we live in a world of needing to have success, and where achievement is paramount, we end up putting our focus on the NEED to be healed or to reach a certain LEVEL or benchmark of success in our process. It shifts the focus to the future, away from the present. It also shifts our focus away from relationship with Him and on to how the relationship with Him can provide self improvement. God as a self-help program.
3) What if things never change? What if “healing” does not happen? There are ways of thinking in me that are deeply rooted. Perhaps it is the enemy attacking my weak spots. These may never go away, but having some understanding of God’s love for me and his good intentions for me, allows me to begin making decisions that line up with what he wants, even though my “flesh” screams the opposite. But if I am to assume that “healing” SHOULD occur here, then I can only see myself as an ongoing failure when the “change” I want does not come.
Paul had this when he asked the Lord to take away his thorn in the flesh, and Jesus said his grace was sufficient. What if Jesus does not “heal” something because it is what keeps us humble, and needing him? What if it reminds us that we are not perfect, and that we need a Saviour? I have discovered a great freedom in “non-healing” because it has made me more aware of my desperate need for his provision and grace. Relying on his grace IS freedom. In my weakness HE is strong.
Whenever I come across something now that I feel “needs work” I say to the Lord: “Mmm. I see a problem here. I have no idea how to fix that. If this is something you want to work on Lord, then please do what you need do. Work in me to will and to do according to your good pleasure.” I presume then that the Lord will work on it in his good time, and that his grace is sufficient until such a time as it is “healed”. It takes off all the pressure to get fixed.
Be blessed on your journey.
Hi John, love your insights. I totally agree with what you are saying.
The only thing that doesn’t resonate for me a little is the thorn in the flesh — so that I would be humble. I think that the thorn (a messenger from satan) may have been persecution and not some physical issue. With a persecutor, I don’t think God would just smite them.
You probably aren’t thinking about it this way, but this is how I see it… I cannot think of God as saying well, you will just have to suffer with this physical ailment so that you will need me more. That to me would be like my husband saying nope I’m not going to take you to the doctor so you can have your ankle fixed because now you rely on me more. something like that… I used to believe in a way that is how God is, but I don’t buy it any more.
I used to wonder what if everything was perfect here on earth like if believers healed everyone, etc., what would that mean? But do we really need bad things to happen in our lives to be close to God? The more I am in a grace mindset, the less I feel like God is poking and prodding me and the more I feel like he is hugging me and encouraging me.
For me I need to believe that God is right here with me and not with-holding from me. If I take your first point, I have everything already. So when things don’t seem to be working and something is broken, then yes that’s where your 3rd point comes in.
I had a really broken friendship that really “wounded” me. She told me “God told me to step away from you”. I refuse to believe that was God. I feel like she didn’t have the guts to tell me the truth about what the issue was, so she used God as an excuse. So I cannot look at God as doing bad things to me or it will ruin my relationship with him. I’ve had people say and do some mean things to me and it would destroy me if I thought God was that way too, then I guess I’d be back to religion.
So I guess I have a lot of trust toward him, believing that whatever happens he is in my corner so to speak and he wants me to have life and life more abundant. Regardless of what bad situation I may be in.
Hi Holly. Good thoughts, Howver the context of the thorn of the flesh is found in 2 Corinthians 12:7. “Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.”
Perhaps we are defining wounding or healing differently.
Things that people do to me is one thing but my own “personal issues” and flaws is something else. Healing for me was in terms of my own issues dealing with depression, despair, addictions, etc. Things that may have occurred because of other people, but have become part of me that trouble me. I have something in my life that plagues me and is in one sense not my fault, but as a result of upbringing. It causes me grief but it is not taken away no matter how much I ask. It brings me to an place of realization that I simply have to trust that his grace is sufficient for me in that unchanged area.
And if God allows it because it is for my good, then I am okay with it. Though perhaps a bit uncomfortable…
I have also struggled with being content in my circumstances-chronic health issues that have not been resolved-and for the past 5 years have been on the journey to oneness with Christ through leaving the congregational setting.
I had to be the one to walk away from a long term friendship about 5 years ago. It has been one of the most difficult, and painful experiences of my life. She is still in confusion as to why, or I should say she cannot see it-God has not revealed the reasons to her as of yet. I know without a single doubt that I was supposed to let go. Maybe your friend is trying to be true about it, maybe not, but if she is, know that it is just as painful for her as well as yourself, and God Has got the whole situation well in hand and will care for all involved.
Hey Linda and John,
I think we are at different places in our beliefs on some of these details. Sounds like we’ve all had some major struggles. I really appreciate your perspectives though.
Thanks for that.
I wish you both a Merry Christmas.
This week’s God Journey podcast hits the nail on the head. If I could share anything with anyone to explain the space I am in now… this 42 minute podcast is it.
I really liked that description of living inside our freedom. It got me thinking about the freedoms God has given me to live in right now, and also times recently where I’ve been asked / expected to share with people a freedom that I don’t have.
I was reading Romans 12 this week, and noticed the phrase come up several times ‘do so according to the measure of faith God has given you’ – perhaps that could be interpreted as ‘live this out as much as God has freed you to live it’.
I feel like what is open for me right now is just to go and find out what interests me, whether it is books, sports, restaurants, or places to visit. Often I don’t have a clue what I’m doing but I’ve really enjoyed that whole process this year. You couldn’t label any of this as particularly ‘godly’ or ‘spiritual’ (whatever that means), but God is still there.
There’s been quite a lot of times I’ve been convinced to show contempt for the very freedoms God has given me because they don’t have the ‘godly’ / ‘ministry’ type labels attached. I’m really excited at the thought of believing this less and less, and to live where God’s inviting me to live.
Why not create your own system? Why would it be any worse than someone else’s? isn’t all religion human made?
And that would be the problem, Olga. What if the church doesn’t need one humanity can design?
Thank you for addressing the issue of what to say when people ask “What church do you go to?”. You can “label” me a “done”! My parents continue to ask me “Have you found a church yet?” almost every time I get together w/ them (to the point where I dread seeing them for this reason alone). They have never, ever asked me anything else about my walk w/ Father (i.e., “Are you learning to live more in God’s love? What have you read recently that’s drawn you closer to Father? Who have you had the opportunity to love recently?”) At this point in my journey I don’t even want to enter into a dialogue w/ them about my journey because I don’t think I’ll be able to handle them judging, misunderstanding, & being disappointed in me (which is a reasonable expectation of them). I look forward to the day when I will. I have this conversation much more easily w/ friends & acquaintances as my friends are more open/accepting than my family & I don’t have anything to “lose” w/ acquaintances! 🙂
Thanks for this broadcast.
Have a great holiday season.
I loved the statement Wayne made about (paraphrasing here) in the old system we get our validation from being right. A great deal of freedom comes from not having to be right, and I am just in the last year or so learning to live in that space.
I can relate to the disparity in husband/wife journeys. My husband and I agreed about our discontent with the old group, and leaving was very difficult since we had been very committed to the group for over 30 years. But beyond that we responded in different ways. I went with him on some of his church search and when I realized I was getting too much “yuck” out of it I just told him to go enjoy himself, hope he didn’t mind if I bowed out. He doesn’t really understand where i am coming from, might even be worrying about me, but we are at peace with our differences.
A recent development in my own journey is to accept that I have no control over his. My only option is to love him “as is” and accept that I can’t do the work of the Holy Spirit. Again, this is a great freedom for me but still a struggle with the temptation to try to give him advice.