Family dynamics - they can be a joy or one of the most triggering and traumatising relationships in our lives. God's best for us is to enjoy wholesome, loving, restored relationship with our close and extended family. For some of us, relationships are so damaged beyond repair that for our own wellbeing and safety we cannot return to them but must focus on our own healing and restoration.
This article is prompted by a correction from the Lord with one of my family members. We have been working on our relationship for quite some time because we both want to enjoy each other when we're together. Part of this has required honesty from both of us, sharing the things that we have not understood and the things that have hurt us. A little while ago when I was doing nothing of importance, the Holy Spirit cut right across my thoughts and gave me an insight that led to me being able to genuinely apologise with no strings attached or expectations on my part. He said to me, 'you reacted the way you did because you were embarrassed, but you also took away that person's choices and placed yours upon them'. I am hoping that apology has bought some closure for them. How different their life might have been if I hadn't done that. The Lord in His mercy has still bought blessing out of it all.
So the point of my sharing this is this. Restoration of family relationship can be hard work. It takes time, prayer, vulnerability, forgiveness and humility. It also takes a willingness to be shown the truth of a matter. It had never entered my head that I had taken their choice away from them. I was doing what I thought was right at the time. GOD GAVE ME HIS PERSPECTIVE that carried no blame or condemnation, just an opportunity to ask for forgiveness and facilitate healing for the other person.
We have all seen those movies where family members haven't spoken to each other for years. Each declaring they are not going to be the one to reach out first. Unwilling to forgive, unwilling to accept they may have been in the wrong. It is time to reach out, to bring healing to our families. It doesn't start with them. It starts with US!
I remember many years ago the Lord prompting me to write a letter to my parents asking their forgiveness for all the pain and worry I put them through when I was younger. I had many justifiable reasons why I needn't have done that. My parents really appreciated it but I didn't get the big reaction I was expecting. You see, it wasn't so much for their benefit, as it was for mine and for my own healing and growth. It needed to happen to remove a stumbling block in me. Perhaps there is a small note you can send, a quick text asking for a get together, or a phone call. The Lord will show you what to do. It's time to eat humble pie!
Restoration begins with us, partnering with the Lord, seeking His insight and truth into our relationship breakdown, seeking our own healing in the first instance. Letting go, because ultimately people come first and maybe it wasn't such a big deal after all.
God has been speaking to me a lot lately about courage and resilience. It's definitely something that we are all growing in at this time, and for many who have lost jobs and homes at this time, it has stretched them to the end of their courage and beyond.
Last week I had reason to think about the power and effects of covenants and agreements we make with others. The following is a reflection of some of my thoughts on this.
Covenants are powerful things and there are others who spiritually know a lot more than I do about them, but I wanted to increase your awareness of them. Many of us will be making big changes in our lives in the days ahead, some of us signing up for new businesses, properties, partnerships, friendships, commitments to organisations and community groups.
We usually think of a covenant in a legal sense e.g. agree by lease, deed, or other legal contract. Then there is biblical covenant i.e. an agreement which brings about a relationship of commitment between God and his people. The Jewish faith is based on the biblical covenants made with Abraham, Moses, and David. There are also I believe, 'informal' covenants we can enter into out of naivety e.g. pricking our thumbs as childhood friends and swearing to never be parted, or swearing to a friend or family member that we will look after them forever. There can be ungodly covenants that our ancestors have entered into, both natural, spiritual or demonic that stay on our bloodlines and affect the fullness of all that we are meant to receive from the Father.
Closing the door on Fear. What is fear anyway? Fear is an unpleasant emotion caused by the threat of danger, pain or harm.
Fear can cause us to FIGHT | FLIGHT | FREEZE
God’s had His finger on this issue in my life lately. When I become aware of fear, I either run away or freeze up. I knew it is time to lean in to what Father is saying to me about fear. He wants me whole and well. By now, I’m well aware how much fear has robbed me of all kinds of possibilities, but I wanted to know why I have this problem with fear. This has been a known enemy to me for as long as I can remember.
Fear comes in when there are doors of destruction open inside of us. For me it’s mostly jammed open because of trauma. When we started going deeper and investigating the causes, I can honestly say, I didn’t like it. It is only because I knew God wants to heal me completely from those traumas, that I’m persevering and surrendering. I trust Father more and more as I see evidence of His good nature towards me.
I would like to share with you what I’ve learnt so far in how to deal with these open doors. I hope that this will encourage you to seek Father if you are struggling with fear.
IDENTIFY THE DOOR AND CALL OUT THE FEAR COMING FROM IT There are doors in my life that I’ve chosen to forget. It’s too painful and I’d rather have them buried deep so they are out of sight out of mind. But the thing is, the longer it sits there, the more it festers and influences many areas in my life. I know that God has me covered. I trust Father has a good reason for taking me to those doors. So it’s okay to identify and call out those fears.
CONFRONT THE FEAR WITH THE WORD OF GOD The Word of God is a double edged sword so by decreeing God’s word, I cut away the lies. 2 Tim 1:7 says that God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind. What this looks like to me is that I can confront that fear coming from that door and renounce it. Fear is not part of my identity! But power, love and a sound mind is! So, I then choose to love more and focus on what is good and positive. 1 John 4:18 says that God’s perfect love drives out fear. I’ve noticed when I feel fear rise up in me it is because I lack a manifestation of love around me. It’s not always possible to get love from everyone. We are all human, but God is Love. I choose to sit in His love. I often ask Father to give me tangible love. I need to feel it not just know it. Like today, I was completely overwhelmed by His loving touch. It was like His presence hugged me. I cried hard, not because I was sad, but because it was overwhelmingly beautiful! Only He can move me like this. Because of my experiences with Father, I know that He is always with me and that He will never leave me. (Heb 13:5-6). When my love tank is full, I notice fear isn’t ruling my emotions.
FORGIVE, RELEASE, BLESS. REPEAT I’ve asked Father how do I forgive when I still feel the pain and trauma. See, it’s easy to forgive when pain and trauma isn’t attached to it. Jesus said to bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you (Luke 6:28). I wanted to rebel against this. It’s a crazy idea! I got angry, because I had other ideas about dealing with these people that hurt me.
But then I had a change of heart. Maybe, I should try it Jesus’ way. Whenever Holy Spirit brings someone up, I would forgive them, ask Father to bless them more than me and then I would release them. Sometimes I have to repeat this process more for some than others until my heart truly aligns and brings me to a place where I really mean it and feel that release myself.
In some cases, I would kick against this process because all kinds of uncomfortable emotions rise up like anger. I don’t feel soft towards that person at all. That’s when it becomes a choice – I have to forgive. I have to remember the bigger picture. The thing is. If I don’t forgive, that trauma can’t be healed properly, and therefore that door stays wide open for fear to have free access to me.
Over the last few years, I’ve been going through this process a few times. It was the hardest to forgive myself. I’m still in that process. I didn’t realise that I held a grudge towards myself, until I become aware that I beat myself up quick and harshly and constantly. I realized the intensity of this when a friend told me to look at myself in the mirror and say to myself, Venessa, I love you. I told my friend that it’s a crazy idea! I actually got mad, and then I had so many questions, like why am I getting upset about this? My reaction is crazier! Then the penny dropped. Oh Lord, help me to forgive myself.
FORM A HABIT OF COURAGE Lastly. Fear is a habit, but so is courage! I choose courage. Overcoming fear and staying above it, has not been easy for me. I’d rather run away, but I know it won’t help, so I choose to be brave and let Holy Spirit lead me to every door that needs to be closed.
By now, I’m quicker to go through this process and not allowing a door to stay jammed open. Keeping the doors to fear shut, is a practice that continues. It becomes easier and quicker with practice. Perseverance is paying off. I’ve become more whole and stronger. I’m becoming who I am supposed to be.
Venessa Smart is a very special friend, a creative and a prophet, who has given me endless encouragement and friendship over the last several years, and it is an honor to post this testimony of a part of the journey she has been on. It is her hope that this article blesses someone else.
In my pursuit for growth I have often had moments when I have had a realisation of some of my dark sides, these moments are sometimes breathtakingly painful. If you are serious about developing yourself and the art of self leadership you would have had these moments too. It might be a random conversation, an article, a post or a friend calling you out. (Picture by artofkleyn.co.za)