Are You Experiencing Loneliness This Christmas?


Christmas is a time of good cheer, excitement, expectancy, warmth, busyness, and feelings of joy surrounded by family and friends. But for some, it can be a time of extreme loneliness. Loneliness can be described as a feeling of emptiness in the pit of your stomach when someone you love has left you either through death or broken relationships. You may feel abandoned, unwanted, or unneeded as if you’re all by yourself when you are actually surrounded by all kinds of people. You may feel like no one really cares.

These feelings can intensify if you begin to believe that your loneliness is a result of something being wrong at a core level with you – that you are somehow unacceptable, unworthy, don’t measure up, or unlovable.

When this happens, you may feel hopeless and have nothing to live for. Your pain can erode your self-worth and drain you of strength. Loneliness puts a huge wall around your heart and prevents you from allowing others in including God.

When you feel as if the entire world has abandoned you, and that no one understands your pain and sorrow God’s Word promises that the Lord is with you and He will never leave you.

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8

In your loneliness and despair, have you distanced yourself from the Lord? It is never too late to draw near to Him again. You are His precious child. And when you return to Him, you will be welcomed with open arms. You will have heartfelt joy when returning home to the shelter of God’s unconditional love and acceptance. You are never alone!

 

The Cure for Bitterness

When we are hurt emotionally, the fastest way to stop the emotional bleeding is to put on the band-aid of bitterness. It keeps us from feeling the pain and on guard from being hurt again. It also keeps us from feeling God at work in our lives or His call to do His work.

God’s word warns, “Looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springs up and cause trouble, and by this many become defiled.” (Hebrews 12:15) Once bitterness has taken root, it causes the wound to fester and grow. Anger, depression, anxiety…all grow out of bitterness.

To get rid of the ban aid of bitterness, we need to allow God to come in and clean the wound so that it can heal properly. Because even though it’s been covered up through various coping mechanisms, it is still there, and it still hurts. Like a cut that got infected, emotional wounds have to be cleaned to get rid of the infection and heal.

Like poison, bitterness can slowly kill us. It can harden our hearts when God points it out to us, we turn our back on what we need to do to get rid of it. The good news is that we have a Savior who can heal our broken hearts and bind up our wounds to no longer have to pretend that everything is okay and stop putting on a happy face when we are crying on the inside. Take your hurts to Jesus. He can clean out the wound, causing the infection of bitterness that makes your heart sick and prevents you from giving or receiving forgiveness and living in the fullness of His love and grace.

Guarding Your Heart Against Critical People

When others criticize us, as difficult as it may be to accept, God may be using them as ‘heavenly sandpaper” to teach, correct, and refine us. But constant harsh criticism, the kind that leaves us feeling demeaned, discouraged, and devalued can cause emotional wounds, strain relationships, and stunt emotional growth especially when it comes at the hands of those we love and trust the most.

We are called to build each other up not tear each other down. Sadly, those who have a pattern of tearing down may be acting out modeled behavior of harsh criticism from early childhood.

Don’t personalize a person’s critical spirit.  They may be acting out of woundedness causing them to sin against you. Their hurtful behavior has everything to them with them and not you.

So what can you do? Guard your heart against believing lies, set healthy boundaries to protect yourself, don’t retaliate, hold fast to God’s truth, pray for your offender, and release them to Jesus. You are His precious child. He will lift you up dispelling the lies with the truth of His Word. Let the Balm of Gilead bring healing to your heart.

“Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Colossians 12-17

Bitterness

When we are hurt emotionally, the fastest way to stop the emotional bleeding is to put on the band-aid of bitterness. It keeps us from feeling the pain and on guard of being hurt again. It also keeps us from feeling God at work in our lives or His call to do His work.

God’s word warns “Looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springs up and cause trouble, and by this many become defiled.” (Hebrews 12:15) Once bitterness has taken root it causes the wound to fester and grow. Anger, depression, anxiety…all grow out of bitterness.

To get rid of the ban aid of bitterness we need to allow God to come in and clean the wound so that it can heal properly. Because even though it’s been covered up through various coping mechanisms, is still there and it still hurts. Just like a cut that got infected, emotional wounds have to be cleaned so we can get rid of the infection and heal.

Like poison bitterness can slowly kill us. It can harden our hearts to where when God points it out to us we turn our back on what we need to do to get rid of it. The good news is that we have a Savior who can heal our broken hearts and bind up our wounds so that we no longer have to pretend that everything is okay and stop putting on a happy face when we are crying on the inside. Take your hurts to Jesus. He can clean out the wound causing the infection of bitterness that is making you heart sick and preventing you from giving or receiving forgiveness and living in the fullness of His love and grace.

Examining Your Heart: Do You Harbor A Critical Spirit?

One morning while a couple was having breakfast, the wife looked out her window and saw her neighbor hanging clothes on the line to dry.  She noticed the wash dingy and dirty and said to her husband, “That lady doesn’t know how to wash clothes. I wonder if she uses cheap detergent?” Day after day, she would look out the window and make the same comments, saying she couldn’t believe how the neighbors wore those dirty looking clothes. Then one day, the woman looked out the window, and the clothes were clean and bright. She was surprised and said to her husband, “Look, Honey, I can’t believe it. She finally learned how to wash clothes. I wonder what happened?” Her husband smiled and said, “Honey, I got up early this morning and decided to clean our windows.”

We can learn a valuable lesson from this story.

A critical spirit taints every area of our lives. When we are critical and fault-finding in people or things around us, we need to stop and make sure it’s not our own dirty window that’s clouding what we see. A critical spirit follows you everywhere you go, and you can’t get away from it. If you can’t see anything in a positive light – if you only see the scratch on the floor and don’t see the beauty in the amazing house – if you only see what others do wrong and never what they do right – then you need to clean your window.

At some point, we need to look in the window and say, “Maybe I’m the one who needs to change.” You see If you are always critical, then maybe you’ve developed a habit of seeing the bad instead of the good. And perhaps your life filter is dirty. Perhaps you have become judgmental and condemning instead of giving people the benefit of the doubt, and maybe you have even become entitled to your critical spirit and feel justified in judging and condemning others.

The good news is that through the help of the Holy Spirit, you can change your way of thinking and begin to see people through God’s filter – through their strengths instead of their weaknesses. But it’s a choice that you will need to make. You can focus on their good qualities, or you can focus on the things you don’t like and magnify the faults of others and the characteristics that annoy you.

Some people have become so critical minded that no matter what is done for them, it’s never right or good enough. If it’s a spouse situation – our filter can get so skewed and tainted that we can never see their good and can even forget why we fell in love with them in the first place and magnify the wrong in them. If you struggle in this area, make a list of the good qualities you like about your spouse. Write down the good things your spouse does. And catch them doing something good and acknowledge it. For instance, your husband may not be the best communicator but is a hard worker. She may have some weaknesses but is an amazing mother.

Start focusing on the good things because if you have a critical spirit, your entire outlook may be poisoned and will damage your relationships and break intimacy with people, self, and God.  People respond more to praise than they respond to criticism.

What is the definition of being critical?

The dictionary describes it as one who is inclined to find fault or judge with severity often too readily and condemn without facts.  So ask yourself. The same questions.

Am I inclined to find fault with people?

Do I judge with severity?

Do I condemn without facts?

Many people who are critical of others judge themselves in the same harsh matter. Is this you? Ask yourself

Do I think negative thoughts about myself?

Do I judge myself with severity?

Why do I do this?

The answer is often buried deep in the past. God is faithful to expose those root issues that are causing us to view the world, self, others, including God through our dirty window.

“Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots.”

Mathew 15:13

 

Emotions Are Tied To Our Thought Life

Emotions are tied to our thought life. Have you ever stepped back and listened to your thoughts? Have you been surprised by them and wondered where they were coming from? In his book ‚Wild at Heart,‛ John Eldredge wrote, ‚We are being lied to all the time. Yet, we never stop to say, ‘Wait a minute who else is speaking here? Where are these ideas coming from? Where are these feelings coming from?‛ Satan is at war with God’s children. He is a crafty one and a deceiver; and, he knows if he were to show up as a dark, scary figure, with a pitchfork, we would immediately flee, sensing danger. So, instead, he uses our fears, hurts, and insecurities to influence us through our thought life.

The enemy knows that if he can control our minds, he can control our behavior; and, what is his most used weapon to do so? Lies! When we believe Satan’s lies, rather than God’s truth, it leads to faulty ways of thinking and wrong behaviors that enslave our souls. The only defense we have to protect our minds from being lost in the darkness of lies, is the truth: the inerrant Word of God.

God’s word gives a detailed combat strategy for defeating the enemy. We are to pull down strongholds (rooted lies) and bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). Simply put, we must replace Satan’s lies with God’s truth. If your thoughts are telling you that you are not good enough; that you are unworthy; that you are ugly; that you will always live in fear; that you will never heal; or that you will always live in bondage, stop for one moment and ask yourself, ‛Whose voice am I hearing? Who is it that is telling me that?‛ God’s word tells us that Jesus is the Good Shepherd and His sheep hear His voice and His voice protects them from the thief who wants to destroy them.

Our beloved Savior would never harm His sheep by speaking such lies. If you hear that you will never amount to anything, that’s a lie from the enemy; choose, instead, to listen to your Shepherd who says, ‘For I know the thoughts I have towards you, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to bring you a future and a hope‛ (Jeremiah 29:11). The enemy is a liar and cannot stand against God’s truth.

Taking Negative Thoughts Captive

Many struggles in life often are fought on the battlefield of our minds. That’s why James writes “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?” (James 4:1). That’s why we are exhorted in God’s Word to demolish any thought that goes against what God says is true about any given situation.

We are in a Spiritual battle and need to take every stray thought captive and repent, correct it and align it with the truth of God’s Word. If someone has hurt us or wronged us, and we are having hateful thoughts towards that person, we need to take that hateful thought captive immediately so that bitterness does not take root in our hearts and defiles us. (Hebrews 12:15)

We need to stop, realize what is truth in the situation, take responsibility for our wrong actions, ask for forgiveness, acknowledge when they are wrong, understand that we cannot change another person, offer forgiveness, release them to God and choose not to hate.

The victory in the battle is won when we discipline our thinking, so it focuses on thoughts that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and are praiseworthy to God. (Philippians 4:8)

Negative emotions like anger, bitterness, hate, jealousy, fear, anxiety can kill us. They are joy stealers. They suck the life out of us and hinder us from living abundant lives in Christ.

The good news is that we are not powerless. God has given us a choice to meditate on life-giving thoughts or thoughts that bring death to our lives and render us defeated. Choose life! Choose victory! Make it a practice to capture every negative thought and choose to replace it with good ones that come from the truth of God’s life-giving Word.

Overcoming Negative Emotions

Our emotions are tied to our thought life. Have you ever stepped back and listened to your thoughts? Have you been surprised by them and wondered where they were coming from? In his book ‚Wild at Heart,‛ John Eldredge wrote, ‚We are being lied to all the time. Yet, we never stop to say, ‘Wait a minute who else is speaking here? Where are these ideas coming from? Where are these feelings coming from?‛ Satan is at war with God’s children. He is a crafty one and a deceiver; and, he knows if he were to show up as a dark, scary figure, with a pitchfork, we would immediately flee, sensing danger. So, instead, he uses our fears, hurts, and insecurities to influence us through our thought life. 

The enemy knows that if he can control our minds, he can control our behavior; and, what is his most used weapon to do so? Lies! When we believe Satan’s lies, rather than God’s truth, it leads to faulty ways of thinking and wrong behaviors that enslave our souls. The only defense we have to protect our minds from being lost in the darkness of lies is the truth: the inerrant Word of God.

God’s word gives a detailed combat strategy for defeating the enemy. We are to pull down strongholds (rooted lies) and bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). Simply put, we must replace Satan’s lies with God’s truth. If your thoughts are telling you that you are not good enough; that you are unworthy; that you are ugly; that you will always live in fear; that you will never heal; or that you will always live in bondage, stop for one moment and ask yourself, ‛Whose voice am I hearing? Who is it that is telling me that?‛ God’s word tells us that Jesus is the Good Shepherd and His sheep hear His voice and His voice protects them from the thief who wants to destroy them.

Our beloved Savior would never harm His sheep by speaking such lies. If you hear that you will never amount to anything, that’s a lie from the enemy; choose, instead, to listen to your Shepherd who says, ‘For I know the thoughts I have towards you, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to bring you a future and a hope‛ (Jeremiah 29:11). The enemy is a liar and cannot stand against God’s truth.

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Living In Peace With Difficult People

“Bitterness is like a rock thrown into a placid pond; After its initial splash it sends out circular ripples that affect the whole pond. It starts with ourselves, expands to our spouse, then to our children, friends, and anyone we come in contact with.” (Pastor & Dr. Chuck Lynch)

People hurt, mistreat, abuse, abandon and betray us.
God sees and validates our pain. But he also tells us to pursue peace so that we do not fall short of His grace and let bitterness take root to defile us.

Bitterness comes when we hold on to hurt and refuse to forgive those who have hurt us. It affects everything around us and causes us to have a hardened heart. We can even take on a victim mentality where we feel constantly wronged by others. It will pollute our overall view of the world and affects how we treat people.

No matter what we are not entitled to our sinful responses to how others have hurt us. Doing so only causes separation between God, ourselves and others.

We can’t change people or make them see the error of their ways but God can. But we can take our wounded hearts, bitterness, and unforgiveness to the one who has shown us how to love mercy instead of demanding justice.

Bitterness hinders repentance and forgiveness in relationships. The cure for bitterness starts with our hearts. It’s not something we do flippantly or dismissively without considering the cost of the sin committed against us, its effects and the wounds left behind.

Ask Jesus to help you process the hurts and choose to forgive. You will then have a beautiful gift to offer others – true forgiveness from the heart. A heart that says what you did to me hurt me deeply, but I choose to forgive you and release you from a debt you cannot repay just as my precious Jesus forgave me and released me from mine.

Healing the Emotional Roots that Bind

Fear, betrayal, rejection, anger, unforgiveness, addictions, unhealthy relationships and relationship conflict, are just some of the real life struggles facing God’s children today.

Our churches are filled with believers who love Jesus, but are often overwhelmed and weighed down; bound up and defeated by life’s issues. So many are unable to live a truly abundant life in Christ and run the Christian race with endurance. These beloved brethren have this in common—they are painfully unaware that the untended roots from the past are creating issues in the present, and are preventing them from thriving in the fullness of God.

God’s children are in desperate need of practical, step by step, biblical solutions. Hurting Hearts Restored offers that hand of help. Written according to God’s powerful Word and inspired by the promptings of The Holy Spirit, this book is intended to lead you into God’s unending love and grace—to His perfect plan for you—life more abundantly! Filled with easily understood explanations, examples, journal questions, and real-life stories, Hurting Hearts Restored will walk you through the healing process — a journey with Jesus into the depth of your heart where change happens, page-by-page, with all the resources you need to get to the roots that bind.

Available Now on Amazon