Chapters 5, 6 & 7: Collecting, Connecting & Correcting the Dots
Collecting the dots is all about searching through our past to identify how our current belief system has formed: the good, the bad and the ugly.
If we don’t identify what might be dysfunctional in our own belief systems (and the subsequent standards we hold others to) and we can’t backtrack to where those beliefs started to take root, then we can’t address the mental shift we need to make in our own lives.
As I reflected back to my childhood, one thing was really clear: it was good.
Compared to so many others, it was REALLY good.
I had two parents who loved me and worked extremely hard for our family. I grew up close to my maternal grandparents and had (still have!) a close relationship there. I can’t remember a time when I ever went without – even if it meant my parents had to sacrifice extra for my benefit. I wouldn’t have been convinced at the time but now know my parents had just the right balance of rigid/rules and allowing me enough freedom to spread my wings and come into my own (including making, and learning from my own mistakes). Mom and Dad supported me in everything I did.
It wasn’t all perfect (because, what is perfect?) but my parents did a darn good job.
And those things that weren’t perfect? I’ve allowed myself to make a choice to do it differently in my own adulthood and with my own family.
It’s a work in progress but I’m getting there.
An example? God wasn’t a regular part of our lives. I went to Sunday school and was taught the basics. I stepped into adulthood with a general understanding of the most popular stories of the Bible. I have always known that Jesus died for my sins. But I didn’t understand spiritual growth and relationship (versus religion) until the trials of life got too big to carry on my own and I needed something – SOMEONE – much more powerful than I to carry that burden.
When I look into my history to connect with my present, I think many of the beliefs formed in my upbringing have really shaped a healthy expectation for how I am to allow people to treat me – and how much dysfunction I’m willing to take from someone before I turn away.
This is perception and belief that is life-giving!
But, as I said, my family didn’t do it all perfectly…
Two things that I don’t think we did well as I was growing up was communicating and embracing emotions.
I never felt overly comfortable going to my parents with anything and everything (therefore secrets were kept) and emotion expressed in our home was often met with discomfort…and sometimes even a general shutting down of the emotional expression.
As an adult, I do a lot of bottled up emotions. And while I’m working to do better putting words to things and communicating before I bubble over, I’m also in a season of life where there’s a LOT of emotion to sort through daily.
Kids have a funny way of bringing that on, don’t they?
Maybe the sentiment that resonated with me the most in this chapter where emotion is involved was this:
Be careful to not personalize unfiltered emotion as an attack.
When someone comes at me with unfiltered emotion I tend to perceive as attack and my first inclination (i.e. automatic response ) is to go on the defensive. I’m also guilty of lashing out in my own way with unfiltered emotion that may be experienced as an attack by others.
How does this connect to the forgiveness I’m currently exploring in my life?
Long before starting this book I came to realize that the forgiveness currently being examined has more to do with the evils within the lives of my offenders.
I’ve made a conscious decision not to own anyone else’s stuff.
I’ve examined, and re-examined my responses to the attacks I’ve experienced and to this day I feel content with my response(s) but what I know I need to do differently is this: process the emotional pieces (including the lies being whispered into my heart by Satan) with God and Biblical truth, and set boundaries that don’t allow me to continue being a doormat.
Our deepest pains have an opportunity to lead us to incredible growth; a shifting of perceptions that restores us to healthy and sound mind which then allows us to move mountains!
As this chapter eloquently points out: there is no need to run away, isolate or numb away the pain. Put voice to those journaled words.
Believe there is a healed version of YOU ready and waiting to emerge!
We know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who have been given to usRomans 5: 3-5
Love and Hugs from Colorado,
One more resource to amp up your study (or help you facilitate a small group):
Quotes, direct and paraphrased, are used throughout this article from “Forgiving What You Can’t Forget” as beautifully written and owned by Lysa Terkeurst
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