Soul-Care Articles: Christ-centered, Spirit-led, Biblically-based, Clinically-sound, Truth-oriented

Posts tagged ‘setting limits’

I’m Controlling my “LIFE-CONTROLLING” Problem

SOURCE:  Living Free

“We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments.” 2 Corinthians 10:3-4 NLT

Preoccupation with a substance or behavior generally develops into a growing rigidity in lifestyle.

  • Rituals develop that lead to use/behavior in small, seemingly innocent steps. (e.g. a gambler need to check the odds daily)
  • Frustration and anger occur when the ritual is interrupted or when someone interferes with the ritual. (e.g. becoming angry with a spouse who comes home early or who asks for help with tasks that interfere)
  • Particular times of the day are set aside for use or practice. (e.g. after-work drink, bedtime pill, etc.)
  • Self-imposed rules are adjusted or ignored as the need grows. (“My ‘no drinking at lunch’ rule can be broken just this once.”)
  • Social events and free time activities are limited to those that accommodate the practice or usage. (“I cannot go anywhere without my medication.”)

We might try to fool ourselves into believing that some of these rituals are actually good for us because they appear to “limit” our use or practice to certain times of the day some other kind of “safe limit.” In fact, they are far from harmless as they begin–step by step–to take over the shape and structure of our lives.

There is only one way to stop this progression of a life-controlling problem–God’s way.

His weapons of warfare are found through prayer and in His Word. Using His weapons can knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and destroy false arguments.

It’s time to do battle against this substance or behavior that is gaining hold in your life. God has provided an arsenal of weapons in his Word.

Are you ready to fight?

Father, I’m ready to do things your way. I know this behavior has to stop before it goes any further. Forgive my sin and help me to wage war using your weapons. In Jesus’ name …


These thoughts were drawn from …

Insight Group: Discover the Path to Christian Character by Jimmy Ray Lee, D.Min.

How to Handle Toxic and Critical People

SOURCE: Leslie Vernick

We all have encounters with difficult people who leave us rattled and shaken. A co-worker undermines us in front of our boss; our friend puts us down and says she was “just kidding;” our spouse rages and then turns everything around to make us think that it’s our fault.

Most of us would prefer to minimize our contact with people like this but sometimes it’s just not possible. We may work with them, be married to them, or have some other connection that keeps us in regular contact with toxic individuals. For a long time Christians have been taught to forbear and forgive. While Biblical in essence, most of us aren’t exactly sure how to live it out in real life.

We know that Jesus tells us that we’re to love our enemies and pray for those who mistreat us but actually doing it is much more challenging. The apostle Paul counsels us in these instances not to be overcome with evil but instead, to overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21). But honestly, there are times when evil feels stronger and we are not sure how to stop it from getting the best of us.

Below are 5 specific steps I have found helpful in putting these Biblical truths into practice, especially when dealing with a toxic or destructive person.

1. Press Pause: As soon as you feel that poisonous dart, take a deep breath and pray for God’s help. The words or behaviors of another person have just knocked you off balance and will infect you with its toxic effects if you don’t quickly apply an anecdote.

2. Don’t panic and overreact or be passive and under react. Stay calm and don’t fall for their bait. Try not to take what they have done or said personally (which is very tempting to do). Remember, the way someone treats you, whether it be good or bad, really has little to do with you. It reveals something about who they are.

3. Ask yourself this question: What in this present moment do I need to learn (or change) in order to become the person I want to become? Here are a few examples of things I have found I needed after I asked myself this question.

Courage

Humility

Generosity

To speak the truth in love

To set firmer boundaries

Patience

Not to worry so much what others think of me

Let go of my desire to make everyone happy

Not to let this person get the best of me or to make me act crazy

Believe me, it is very tempting in the moment to defend yourself, feel responsible for someone else’s feelings, become totally intimidated and overwhelmed, or strike back with your own attack. None of these responses will help you move forward with a toxic person. However, God does promise to use these painful moments for our good. Therefore, learn what you can and let go of the rest.

4. Teach yourself to respond out of who you want to be rather than how you feel in the moment. We already know how to do this when we act responsibly and get out of bed to go to work even when we want to sleep in or when we patiently work with our child on their homework even though we’d rather be doing anything else. If you must respond to a provocative situation, speak calmly, truthfully and firmly especially when you have to set a limit or say “no”. Refuse to engage in arguing, defending yourself, or circular conversations that go nowhere.

5. Practice (and this takes time) looking at this difficult/destructive person in a different way than you have in the past. Instead of meditating on his or her faults or sin against you, search for her goodness, his humanness, or his/her woundedness. When we can see a person in this new way, it’s much easier to allow God to fill us with His love and compassion for this pitiful person who would be so blind as to treat us (or anyone) in such a sinful way. Having this change in perspective doesn’t excuse the toxic person or give him or her license to continue to do damage, but it does help us not to judge and empowers us to forgive him/her, even if we can’t reconcile the relationship.

We can honestly pray God’s best for this person and leave him/her in His capable hands. We all encounter evil situations and difficult and destructive people, but by practicing these five steps, we can learn to overcome evil’s toxic effects in us with good.

Jesus Set Boundaries

SOURCE:  Adapted from an article by Bill Gaultiere

Many Christians feel guilty setting boundaries. In the early years of my ministry I had this problem. It seems selfish or not nice to say no to people with hurts and needs. The best response I have for this – and any problem for that matter! – is to look at Jesus.

If Jesus accepted his personal limitations and set boundaries in his helping then surely it’s good for you and I to learn to do the same! Jesus shows us that indeed there are two words for love: “yes” and “no.” With practice and coaching and prayer you too can learn to set holy and healthy boundaries.

Jesus, in his Incarnation, had Limits that he Accepted

  • Basic Needs. He ate healthy foods, got the sleep he needed and even took naps, took time to relax, and did a lot of walking (Matt 4:6-7; 26:18, 20; John 12:2)
  • Support from Friends. He sought the company of friends (Matt 26:36-38)
  • Solitude. He withdrew from the crowds to go away on retreat, alone or with friends
  • Singular Focus (This people, this place, this time). He left one city to go to another because he couldn’t be in two places at the same time (Mark 1:38)
  • Pace of Life. He was never in a hurry, except to go to Jerusalem and embrace his cross (John 11:6; Mark 10:32)

Jesus Said No to Inappropriate Behavior

  • Demands. He withdrew from the crowds who wanted him, for 1:1 time with the Father (Luke 5:15-16)
  • Abuse. He fought his way through the crowd that was trying to throw him off a cliff for claiming to be the Messiah  (Luke 4:28-30)
  • Entitlement. He didn’t give in to his mother and brothers who tried to use their relationship with him to pull him away from the crowd he was ministering to (Matthew 12:46-50)
  • Baiting Questions. When the religious leaders asked him baiting questions to make him look foolish he answered with incisive questions of his own (Matthew 21:23-27, 22:15-22)
  • Cynicism. He said no to Herod’s mocking demand of “Show us a sign that you are the Son of God.” (Luke 23:8-9)
  • Manipulation. He said no to Peter and the disciples who had an inappropriate agenda for Jesus to a political king or military warrior rather than a sacrificial lamb. (Matthew 16:23)
  • Pride. He didn’t heal those who were too proud to trust Him (Matthew 13:58).

Jesus Spoke the Truth in Love to those Stuck or Wrong

  • Exploitation. He used a whip to clear out the temple of the vendors and money changers who were taking advantage of the poor and turning God’s house into a marketplace (Matthew 21:12-17, John 2:12-16)
  • Addiction. He told the Rich Young Ruler that he couldn’t help him until he gave away the money that was controlling him (Matthew 19:16-21).
  • Misguided. He rebuked the disciples who tried to keep the little children away from him and told them that they needed to emulate the children’s faith (Matthew 19:13-15).

Jesus Had Expectations for People in Need

  • What do you want? Two blind men called out to him for help from the Jericho road.  He asked them, “What do you want me to do for you?”  They needed to ask for what they needed and they needed to trust Him. (Matthew 20:29-34)
  • Do you want to get well? For 38 years the invalid at the Sheep gate pool hadn’t been able to get into the miracle waters.  He felt helpless and sorry for himself.  He expected someone to fix his problem.  Jesus challenged him, “Do you want to get well?… Get up!  Pick up your mat and walk.” It was up to him to be motivated and to take responsibility for himself.  (John 5:1-14)
  • Do you believe? A father sought deliverance for his son who was mute and had seizures and said to Jesus, “If you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”  Jesus put it back on the father, “`If you can’?  Everything is possible for him who believes.”  The father needed to believe that Jesus could cure his son. (Mark 9:17-27)

Jesus Offered Grace and Truth as Needed (John 8:1-11)

  • The humble and broken. To the woman caught in adultery he offered grace (“Neither do I condemn you.”) and truth (“Go and sin no more.”).
  • The proud and self-righteous. To the Pharisees who tried to condemn this woman and to trap Jesus he listened (grace) and then confronted their pride and scapegoating with the truth (“Let him who is without sin throw the first stone.”)

Jesus Taught Boundary Setting

  • Personal Prayer Time: “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen” (Matthew 6:6).
  • Be Honest: “Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one” (Matthew 5:37).
  • Set Priorities: “No servant can serve two masters.  Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other” (Luke 16:13).
  • Please God, Not People: “How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God?” (John 5:44).
  • Obey God: “What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’  ’I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.  Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go. Which of the two did what his father wanted?” “’The first,’ they answered” (Matthew 21:28-31).

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