The Hardened Heart of Self-Protection

A deep wound, a broken heart, disappointments, bitterness, and unforgiveness can cause the heart to become hardened with time. It causes us to put up walls. Our defenses go up. We self-protect, and we don’t let anyone in including God.

Self-protection leaves us running on reserve and is the cause of intimacy issues and conflict in relationships. It seems that it’s easier to be hard than soft and vulnerable because we don’t want to get hurt. But you were not created to live that way. God made you to be tender and responsive.

It’s hard to shape stone.  As long as your heart remains hard, you will miss out on the abundant life Jesus came to give. So let the living God come into your heart, heal your wounds and tear down your self-protection and defenses.

The amplified version of Ezekiel 11:16 says “And I will give them one heart, a new heart, and I will put a new Spirit within them, and I will take the stony, unnatural hardened heart out and give them a heart of flesh, sensitive and responsive to the touch of their God.”

Give your hurts to the Lord. Let God shape you. When you do that…He will leave His fingerprints all over your heart.

 

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Emotions That Bind

Who or what controls your emotions? Is it you, someone or something that happen to you? The book of Proverbs warns, “Above all else, guard your heart, for out of it flows the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23).

Behaviors that bind that hurt self and others start early in life. Many people, even in the best of homes, are living on “leftovers” – emotions and attitudes left over from the way they were raised.

For instance, those who as children felt they could never measure up to expectations are likely to experience feelings of inadequacy, rejection, shame, and guilt as adults; they may also deal with resentment and hostility.

And grown people who walk away from responsibility or commitments when they don’t get their way are frequently the ones whose parents caved into their every desire. This is why it’s so hurtful to give in to children’s temper tantrums and demands. They learn the world is their oyster and grow to be demanding, entitled, selfish, self-centered adults.

Those who struggle with low self-worth or low self-esteem are often a byproduct of lack of childhood acceptance and affirmation. It’s important for children to learn they are of tremendous value to parents but most importantly their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Their sense of security should come, not from possessions, whether they are “good” or “bad” but from a personal relationship with Him that says they are valued and loved for who they are no matter what. Otherwise, as adults, they may operate out of shame instead of the precious gift of God’s never-ending grace.

“Do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.”

Colossians 3:21

 

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What Is True Intimacy?

Being intimate involves the mixing of our life with another, a mingling of souls, a sharing of hearts. This is something that we all long for because that is how God made us. We were designed to connect. It requires openness, honesty, and transparency – the ability to share our true selves and have security knowing that we are loved and accepted just the way we are despite our imperfections. This is true intimacy.
Sex can be the most intimate and beautiful expression of love within the boundaries of marriage, but we are lying to ourselves when we think that sex is proof of love. How many men do you know that demand sex as proof of love and how many women give in to sex in hopes of getting love?
Real intimacy does not come by merely coming together in sex. Many couples go to bed at night sharing their bodies but feel lonely because they don’t share their hearts. You see sex is not the source of love; it’s merely an expression of it. And no matter how hard you try, if real emotional and spiritual intimacy does not take place before sex, it probably won’t after.
True intimacy begins with your relationship with God first. This relationship is the foundation for all healthy relationships. When you let the living God be the ultimate source of intimacy and love in your life, you won’t fall for the pitfalls of settling for relationships devoid of emotional and spiritual intimacy that leave your heart longing and unsatisfied. When you are connected to the true source of intimacy, His love will fill the longing of your heart freeing you to engage in love based mutually satisfying relationships instead of need-based relationships where you demand others to fill a void only God can fill, satisfy and make whole.

 

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The Grace Sifter In Relationship Conflict

Every person has a learned pattern of behavior when dealing with conflict.  Some lash out; others become critical, defensive and sarcastic, while some retreat like a turtle and avoid conflict altogether.  None of these patterns work towards solution and even create more conflict adding layers of bitterness and resentments causing hearts to get hardened and broken intimacy in relationships.

What’s God’s solution when conflict in relationships arises? GRACE! You see people model what was modeled to them. If they attack, they were attacked. If they are critical, they were criticized.  If they avoid, stuffing and avoidance were the names of the game growing up. These patterns are brought into relationships and affect those we love. It’s important not to personalize the wrongful reactions of other people. It has more to do with their faulty filters and less to do with you. Grace understands this.  It can build a bridge to healthy relationships.

God’s word says “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Instead of getting angry and replying in kind commit to sifting every conflict through a grace sifter.  Nothing gets through unless it contains grace.  Just like a flour sifter catches big lumps of flour that will ruin a recipe – nothing critical is allowed to sift through that will ruin our relationships. There is nothing wrong with the flour it’s just the wrong consistency. Likewise, conflict issues are legitimate and must be addressed and dealt with. But it’s our negative reaction to conflict that needs sifting through the filter of grace.

The next part of the recipe calls for seasoning with salt. Salt is a preservative. If your conversation is full of grace – allowing for faults and imperfections of others – it preserves relationships and brings peace to our lives. This is the perfect recipe for healthy God-centered relationships. Let’s get to cooking with grace.

“But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.”

Colossians 3:14

 

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A Hardened Heart

A Hardened HeartA deep wound, a broken heart, disappointments, bitterness, and unforgiveness, can cause the heart to become hardened with time. It causes us to put up walls. Our defenses go up. We self-protect, and we don’t let anyone in including God.

Self-protection leaves us running on reserve and is the cause of intimacy issues and conflict in relationships. It seems that it’s easier to be hard than soft and vulnerable because we don’t want to get hurt. But you were not created to live that way. God made you to be tender and responsive. It’s hard to shape stone.

As long as your heart remains hard you will miss out on the abundant life Jesus came to give. So let the living God come into your heart, heal your wounds and tear down your self-protection and defenses.

The amplified version of Ezekiel 11:16 says “And I will give them one heart, a new heart, and I will put a new Spirit within them, and I will take the stony, unnatural hardened heart out and give them a heart of flesh, sensitive and responsive to the touch of their God.”

Give your hurts to the Lord. Let God shape you. When you do that…He will leave His fingerprints all over your heart.

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Do You Want To Be Made Well?

do youJesus asked one question to the lame man at the pool of Bethesda in John 5:6 “Do you want to be made well?” This is the pivotal question for every person seeking healing for emotional wounds. The simple truth is that not everyone wants to be made well. They may start off eager with the best intentions, feeling that they cannot go on another day, but at the end of the day, do not want to be made well, and those who do not want to get well are not going to get well.

Why would I not want to walk in the freedom from the bondage that Christ set me free from? F-E-A-R! Fear of the unknown, fear of rejection, fear of what may be uprooted and exposed, fear of pain, fear that we may have to give up (someone or something); Or we may not be desperate enough yet.

Perhaps we have grown comfortable in our dysfunction and are comfortable in a victim role. We may not have reached a breaking point yet where we face losing someone we love, such as a spouse, or a relationship, maybe even a job, our freedom, and in our minds – we tell ourselves as bad as our current situation is – “it’s not as bad as so and so’s”, or at least we know how to respond, or how to continue to do life and even serve in ministry. However, we are putting on the painted smile while living in a prison of emotional pain. But make no mistake -It is never God’s fault. If we do not want to embark on the journey and “be made well” – we won’t get well. Healing is a choice.

If you are in a place where you are desperate enough to get help and want to be made well, then I pray that nothing will hinder you from getting the healing that you need and will encounter the Healer in a deep and intimate way.

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3

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Love Need

imageLove is the bond of perfection.” Colossian 3:14

It is absolutely true that hurting people hurt people. Don’t be quick to judge the behavior on the surface and not see the need below.

When children feel unwanted, unheard, not valuable, incapable, powerless, or hurt, they often lash out. Parents love your children well.

The lack of love will damage a child emotionally and will have consequences throughout their lives affecting their own children. Stop the generational sins.

You cannot do it alone. Put on God’s love. His love is perfect. It leads towholeness. Jesus makes broken things new.

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Own Your Part

As Much as dependsWe can’t change people’s hearts. But God can! Where there is relationship conflict, we must remember that people react by the way they have learned to deal with matters of the heart, and it might not even be rooted in truth.

There are three sides to the story, but only one is accurate – God’s perspective. We are only responsible for our junk. We must ask God to show us our part – confess, repent and ask for forgiveness where applicable and give the rest to Him.

Don’t hold on to things and demand that people see things your way because it may be skewed by your own unhealthy life experiences. Keep your own side of the street clean. If you can change it, change it. If you can’t release it!

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Forgiving From The Heart

forgiveness heartDo you still feel this person owes you? Are you expecting them to pay you back for the hurt they cost? Do you feel bitter, angry and resentful towards them? Do you think they should suffer for what they did? Do you want revenge? If you answer yes to any of these, then you have not forgiven in your heart.

Holding on to unforgiveness will pollute your heart and allow their sin to continue to hurt you. Choosing to forgive does not condone their sin. It doesn’t mean there should be no justice. There are consequences to sin, but only God is the righteous judge.

Release the offender to Him and refuse to harbor negative feelings towards those who have hurt you. If you don’t know how to forgive, seek Jesus. He is faithful to put people in our lives that will help us process the hurts so that we can grieve, accept and release them to the feet of the cross so we can forgive from the heart. That’s true freedom.

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:23

 

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True Intimacy & Sex

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Being intimate involves the mixing of our life with another, a mingling of souls, a sharing of hearts. This is something that we all long for because that is how God made us. We were designed to connect. It requires openness, honesty and transparency – the ability to share our true selves and have security knowing that we are loved and accepted just the way we are despite our imperfections. This is true intimacy.

 
Sex can be the most intimate and beautiful expression of love within the boundaries of marriage but we are lying to ourselves when we think that sex is proof of love. How many men do you know that demand sex as proof of love and how many women give in to sex in hopes of getting love?
Real intimacy does not come by merely coming together in sex. Many couples go to bed at night sharing their bodies but feel lonely because they don’t share their hearts. You see sex is not the source of love, it’s merely an expression of it . And no matter how hard you try, if real emotional and spiritual intimacy does not take place before sex, it probably won’t after.

 
True intimacy begins with your relationship with God first. This relationship is the foundation for all healthy relationships. When you let the living God be the source of intimacy and love in your life, you won’t fall for the pitfalls of relationships devoid of emotional and spiritual intimacy that leave your heart longing and unsatisfied.

 

“For He has satisfied the thirsty soul, And the hungry soul He has filled with what is good.” Psalm 107:9

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