Archive for May, 2013

May 29, 2013

The Underestimated Church

church-jelsa1As church planters Catherine and I have a vision to do several things beyond the planting of one congregation itself.  There’s three things that are on our hearts.  They are planting further churches, university ministry and missions in Moldova, specifically to the needs in that country related to orphans and young people at risk of being victims of the sex trafficking industry.

When we talk about the last one of those a lot of people get interested very quickly.  That’s great.  It is indeed a bold and remarkable ministry to get involved in.  Catherine blogged a bit about it here.

However I find that people tend to be a bit ho-hum about the thing that will start it all – planting a church.  After all, there’s lots of churches around.  It’s not as though no one has ever thought of that before!

I am immensely excited about starting the church.  I think that people underestimate the local church.  What we have seen in the last 30 years is a complete transformation in what the local church can accomplish.

It used to be that in the West if you had vision and you wanted to do something great for the cause of Christ then what you would do is start a missions organisation.  So in 1960 Loren Cunningham started Youth With A Mission, and a mountain of missions work has been done through this organisation since.  In 1951 Bill Bright founded Campus Crusade for Christ in an attempt to make an impact in colleges and universities.  Bright and Cunningham would certainly be two of the most significant Christian leaders in the West in the second half of the 20th century.  Back in that era the local church is where you went to pastor.  If you wanted to lead you went elsewhere.

The other way to have influence used to be through academia.  The likes of JI Packer and Don Carson sold huge quantities of books and were widely read by both church leaders and by lay people.

If you fast forward to today the most influential Christian leaders in the West are all pastors of local churches.  They are Bill Hybels, Rick Warren and Brian Houston, Bill Johnson and the like.  Those four leaders have had enormous influence by their conferences, writings, travelling and speaking.  They have set the agenda for the Western church.

In my lifetime there has been a re-rating of the importance of the local church.  The local church has overtaken missions organisations and denominational headquarters as the main tool that God is using to grow his kingdom and impact the world.  Let me be crystal clear – this is a brilliant development.  I praise God for all the wonderful work that missions organisations have done.  However the local church is far better suited to making a long term impact for the gospel.  Local churches have the mandate to be salt and light in their community as well as doing what they can to get the gospel to the ends of the earth.

So if there’s a problem that you want to solve – start a church.  If there is a need – the local church is the answer.  If you have a vision for doing something mind-blowingly huge for God then the local church is the place to work that vision out.  Do not underestimate what can be done through the local church!

John

May 28, 2013

Confessions of a Christian Binge Drinker

binge drinkingI have an addictive personality and have struggled with moderation on all fronts my entire life. What ever I have done  – work, God, people – I have always done it with passion. The consumption of alcohol has been no exception. Being a ‘larger sized lady’ I could really put it away too. It was nothing for me to drink a whole bottle of wine or champagne to myself and not show any external signs of inebriation. I used to kid myself that because of my size it wasn’t a lot to drink.

Being a committed Christian I have come to understand that the consumption of alcohol while permitted is not always helpful. I used to say to people – I like to have a drink but not get drunk – but I think that was a bit of denial.  I loved to have a drink and I didn’t just want one or two, I always liked the feeling of getting a little tipsy.

On New Years Eve of 2010 I decided to fast the consumption of alcohol to pray for my church. I was particularly praying for a financial breakthrough. The church had done a massive renovation and the debt weighed heavily upon the leadership and congregation. I promised God I would not drink until I saw that debt reduced in a major way.  Eleven months later I ended the fast as God answered my prayers – certainly not in the way I imagined but nevertheless the debt no longer overshadowed the church. A good friend was getting married so I chose her wedding to break my fast and break my fast I did. With a well rested liver I drank like a fish and only experienced a mild hangover. In the next month I found a few other celebrations to have a few drinks with friends.

In the eleven months I had fasted alcohol I had a number of occasions such as my birthday, a going away dinner for Canadian friends and my anniversary that I would have liked to have had a drink. But once the celebratory moment passed I realised the next day that I never thought to myself  ‘Oh, I really wish I had drunk last night’. In fact I thought the opposite. I was so glad I hadn’t over indulged.   I loved not getting the sweats through the night as my liver struggled to process the alcohol or the thumping headache in the morning or that seedy feeling that only time and McDonald’s heals. I most certainly didn’t miss having to apologise for any stupid or immature behaviour and I loved that I could remember these events clearly and I didn’t lose the following day to a hangover. In fact I realised that I didn’t actually like drinking that much and I didn’t like the Catherine I became when I had too much to drink. I didn’t like her at all. She was loud, offensive and toward the end of the night – angry.

So after 3 weeks of ‘drinking’ I decided to give up the booze forever. I sent an sms to my close friends and family letting them know of my decision and that was it. I felt fantastic. It was the best decision I’ve ever made for my spiritual, physical and emotional health. It was an amazing feeling. I no longer wrestled with the drink or not to drink question  I just didn’t even think about it anymore. If I had known the peace that would be mine after making this decision I would have done it years ago.

I once asked God if there was anything I did that held me back in ministry – He said to me ‘Yes your drinking”. So now, after 2 ½ years of almost complete sobriety but for that 3 weeks in December of 2011 God has called me to be a Pastor. I feel absolutely honoured and totally unworthy of this call to lead God’s people. I am glad God is able to look beyond all my personal failures, all my other issues and all  my problems and use me to serve in his kingdom. Mostly when I think of myself as a Pastor I think of the verse that says ‘His grace is sufficient for me”. Oh let that be applied liberally to my life. I really need it with a capital G!

Over and Out,

Catherine xoxox

May 16, 2013

Real Blessing

The BeatitudesHave you ever had one of those moments when you thought, “wow I’m blessed”?  All the time people on facebook are saying that they are blessed.  I think it has sort of become a Christian word that non-Christians understand, so therefore Christians use in liberally.  We know what blessed is when it happens to us.  Who wouldn’t want to be blessed?

When Jesus spoke he spoke to people who thought they knew what a blessed life looked like.  The only trouble was that, well, everything that they thought was wrong! So he had to set them straight.  This is what he said:

Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.  Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

We call this passage the beatitudes.  When I first read it as a teenager I assumed that it meant that these are attitudes we are meant to be like.  Whilst that is kind of right the word itself means “blessings”.  The word has nothing to do with attitude. This passage is all about the blessing of God.

Jesus had to say to his hearers that the blessing of God looks nothing like what they thought it did.  If Jesus was walking around Christians today I think it would be much the same.

When you see someone poor do you think – wow, that person looks so blessed?  No, neither do I.  But Jesus sees it differently.  When you see someone grieving do you think that they are obviously walking in the blessing of God?  We actually think the opposite – we see someone who hasn’t grieved for a long time as the blessed person because all their loved ones are healthy.  Not according to Jesus.  When you read about Christians in China being persecuted and imprisoned do you reflect on how blessed we are to be able to worship freely in this country?  According to Jesus it’s actually the persecuted Christians who are blessed.

But why?  Why are all these people blessed?  They don’t look very blessed to me.  The answer is in verse 12 – because great is your reward in heaven.

Jesus is thinking eternally.  He is saying that blessing goes to the person who accumulates the most heavenly rewards.  Almost all of the “for they will…” promises are rewards that you don’t get in this life.  In Monty Pythons comedy The Life of Brian a person listening to Jesus deliver verse 5 – blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth – says, “Oh well it’s nice that they get something because they have a horrible time of it down here don’t they?”  The writers were trying to be funny but they have actually ended up making the very point that Jesus is trying to!  The writers probably assumed that Jesus is saying that being meek is virtuous and “virtue is its own reward”.  Jesus is saying nothing like that at all.  He is saying that the rewards of the next life are what we should be pursuing, and the more difficulty that you have to push through here the greater your reward is there.

Heaven is not the same for everyone.  It is great for everyone, but the rewards that each Christian get differ.  The greatest rewards go to those who are blessed.  Jesus is not saying that grief, meekness and persecution are fun and we should enjoy them. They are not “good for the soul” or some such nonsense.  He is saying that God sees them and God rewards them in the next life.

That’s real blessing.

May 15, 2013

RIP Suzie, 16 years on…

suzie's dayToday is the 16th anniversary of the death of my friend Suzie. She died in a head on multi car collision of which I was a part of. On May 15th every year I stop and remember her life with a group of close friends. We go the cemetery where she is buried and honour her memory with the reading of a letter depicting the current events of our lives. We have kept these letters and plan to make them into a book on the 20th anniversary. This is a bittersweet day for me as we are moving to the UK in July this year and this is possibly the last one I will physically attend for a while.

I wrote the following post on May 15th , 2012 telling Suzie’s story. I’ve decided to re blog it as it is still amongst our most read posts.

In 1996 after living in Canada for 9 years I came home to Australia to reconnect with my siblings, family and friends. I arrived home in the October of 1996. There was a brutal 40 degree heat wave that summer and I remember having to take salt tablets because I sweated so much and couldn’t retain any body fluids.

I stayed with my family for a short while and then moved in with my good friend Suzie and her boyfriend.  I had known Suzie since primary school and then we attended the same private girl’s high school. We hadn’t really been close in our primary school years but we knew of each other. We became good friends in high school.

Suzie didn’t live life, she attacked life. She was the most energetic person I have ever met. She squeezed every possible minute out of every day. She loved people and her zest for life was insatiable. She was extremely loyal to her friends and men swarmed around her wherever we went like bees to a honey pot. She was beautiful, petite, smart and had this unawareness of her own charisma and attractiveness. Suzie didn’t like boundaries and the worst thing you could do was hem in her or tell she couldn’t do something. She only saw possibilities not limitations.

In May of 1997 I was no longer living with Suzie and her boyfriend as I had found my own digs. I had been dating someone and the four of us decided to go away to Inverloch for a weekend. We left on the Thursday night – it’s funny how even 15 years later the details are so front and centre in my mind. We had all gotten the Friday off from work and couldn’t wait to start our weekend. We drove down in a 2 car convoy. About 20 minutes out of Wonthaggi we stopped for dinner. Fish and Chips. I tried to persuade Suzie to swap cars so she and I could gas bag but she wanted to stay with her boyfriend. As we pulled out they took the lead car position as to direct us to Suzie’s parent’s holiday house.

It was dark, probably 8 – 9 pm and I was watching the road ahead. I remarked to my boyfriend on something I could see. A car was travelling toward us and for some reason I could see that one of its headlights was on either side of Suzie’s car. I thought out loud that the only way physically that could be happening was if that car was on our side of road. Things happened very quickly after that. Suzie’s car swerved out to the other side of the road uncovering the problem, there was a car on our side of the road. The speed limit was 80 km and we were closely the gap very quickly. The other car then attempted to correct to their own side of the road and they squarely hit the passenger side of Suzie’s car, directly where Suzie was sitting. Everything seemed to move in slow motion. Suzie’s car which was white became a blur as it spun around and around and around past us on the other side of the road. The other car ricocheted off Suzie’s car and hit us, ending up in a ditch. Damage to our person and vehicle was minimal. I remember jumping out of the car when we came to a stop and running as fast as I could back to Suzie’s car.

Prior to this I had recently updated my first aid certificate because I was a nanny. During the class I had asked the teacher about the likelihood of ever using CPR. He said with such certainty that one out of ten in the class today will use it. In that moment I knew that it was going to be me. I went above and beyond to memorize the process of not just CPR but taking control of an accident scene.

I arrived at the Suzie’s car. Her boyfriend was out of the car already and I was totally relieved. I thought – they’re ok. But then it was like the volume went on and I could hear him screaming Suzie’s name. She was still in the car not moving. I climbed in the driver’s side and felt for her pulse, it was weak but she had one. I remember reeling off commands to those around. You in the blue shirt call for an ambulance now and report back to me. You in the hat go and assess the other driver for injuries. Suzie was unconscious and her legs were trapped under the dash which had been crushed upon impact. I knew that we needed to get her out of the car. Breathing was the most important issue. Her legs were clearly already broken and I commanded the two boyfriends to get her out of the car. We laid her carefully on the side of the highway. Someone tried to tell me what to do and I shut them down. I had listened; the CPR instructor had said that many people will offer advice and that you have to be sure of yourself and what you are doing. I had listened, I was sure. Suzie had no pulse so with my bare hands I ripped her bra off and we commenced CPR. I started on breathing and her boyfriend on compressions. I then noticed this massive laceration on her neck and all the air I was breathing in was just bubbling out in front of me. I also kept thinking where were all her teeth? With one hand on her neck and the other trying to seal her nose I was trying desperately to get some oxygen into her lungs.  We swapped places after 5-10 mins.  A crowd had started to gather unable to journey around the carnage on the road. We both knew that Suzie’s life had ebbed away at some point on the side of highway but we just kept going until help arrived. Finally an ambulance arrived and the paramedics took over. I remember them laying a hand on my shoulder and saying ‘she’s gone, she’s gone’. I just couldn’t believe it.

The police arrived and the other driver was taken into custody. I was taken with Suzie’s boyfriend to the Wonthaggi hospital where they tested both drivers for drugs and alcohol. We arrived at the hospital and unbeknownst to Suzie’s boyfriend the offender was in the very next room. At some point I slipped into his room and I had this immense clarity and calm. I asked if I could call anyone for him. Wife, family? He was clearly in shock and because he had been restrained by others at the accident scene he actually didn’t know that Suzie had died. He asked me if she was OK and I told him that she was dead. I said to him, “This will mean nothing to you now but in years to come it will.” I said to him “I forgive you, I forgive you” and I left his room. I didn’t attend the trial and I never judged him for what he did. He was one of the first people in Victoria charged for ‘drug driving’ and he spent two years in jail. I wouldn’t even be able to tell you his name. All I know is that Suzie numbered one of 377 that died on Victorian roads that year.

For fifteen years now 5 of us who attended high school with Suzie have attempted to meet every year at the cemetery where she is buried. We started a tradition of writing her a letter every year as if she was alive. We are brutally candid and honest in this letter and it is probably the truest declaration of our lives at the time it is written. I have a love-hate relationship with ’the letter’ because sometimes life is crap and I hate that it is forever immortalised in writing. Over the last fifteen years we have experienced a lot of pain and grief. We have lost babies, said our goodbyes to parents and grandparents. We have walked through the heart-break of divorce and joy of having healthy children. Two have moved interstate but often make the journey to Melbourne for what we all now call Suzie’s day. We laugh and cry but we celebrate the life and friendship we have together.

At the time of the accident I wasn’t close to God but the Sunday following Suzie’s death I returned to church. I was very messy but God took me as I was. I am grateful for the people who cared for me at this time. After re-committing my heart to God I have never left His side. I love Him more than my own life and I am forever grateful that I lived that night.  I have often wondered, if we had of swapped cars would it have been me?   I’ve decided this thinking is not helpful. God saw fit to keep my life  – and I’m determined to make it one worth living.

Over and Out,

Catherine xo

May 8, 2013

Splash! The Baptism Question…

baptismI wonder if you have ever read a bit of the bible, particularly the book of Acts, and noticed that the early church did something very differently to how we do it now?

One of the things that stands out to me is how the early church did baptism.  As a church planter I have to work out how we are going to do baptism.  There are centuries of varying Christian traditions and teachings on this subject – and there is plenty of contention in that history as well.

What stands out to me about baptism in the early church is the incredibly short time between someone committing their life to Christ and them being baptised in water.  I took a closer look this week and discovered the following:

There are 9 instances in Acts of people being baptised in water.  I don’t mean that there were 9 individuals who were baptised, I mean that there were 9 different occasions where someone or some group was baptised.  Of those, 5 of them were definitely baptised on the same day as the people first came to Christ.  They are the 3,000 who believed at Pentecost – Acts 2, the Ethiopian eunuch – Acts 8, the friends and family of Cornelius – Acts 10, the Philippian jailer and his family – Acts 16 and the Ephesian disciples – Acts 19.

Three of the nine were possibly baptised on the same day that they first believed, or possibly later – we can’t know because the texts don’t give us that information.  They are the Samaritans who heard Philip – Acts 8, Lydia and her family in Philippi – Acts 11, and the Corinthian converts – Acts 18.

That leaves one more, which is the curious case of Paul, or Saul as he then was.  I guess that you possibly could say that he was not baptised the same day as he first believed but it is a bit of a hard one to categorise.  He was blinded by God on the road to Damascus, taken into the city where he stayed for 3 days, still blind.  He was then visited by Ananias who prayed for him, restored his sight and he was then baptised.

So with Saul it is not clear to me if he first believed when he was prayed for by Ananias, or 3 days earlier when he encountered Jesus on the road.  So that one is not easy to categorise.  But overall we can conclude that there was a very short time between believing in Jesus and being water baptised throughout the book of Acts.

Which is a substantial contrast to my experience of church life.  I spent 9 years in the Anglican Church and then 17 years in a variety of Pentecostal churches.  In the Anglican Church water baptism was generally not on the agenda much because it was assumed that people were baptised as infants.  If someone older came to Christ then I don’t think that enquiries were even made as if they had been baptised or not.  In my various Pentecostal churches baptisms were done every couple of months, and anyone new to Christ would be encouraged to be baptised in the next group.

Across church history we find that what was done in Acts is very much the exception, not the rule.  Within 100 years or so baptism was delayed until you had done a course, and after a few more centuries the course went for years!  You were not allowed to take communion until you had completed years of study.

So as a church planter I have to decide what we will do.  Plenty of Pentecostals are so enamoured with Acts that they would readily dismiss a great deal of historic church practice.  I don’t want to be so proud to think that the Catholic Church and the accrued wisdom of many Christian leaders cannot teach me.  However I think that on this issue same day baptism has a lot going for it.  Or at least very close to same day baptism.

I’d love to hear from some of you as to when you got baptised, and if it was memorable.  Leave a comment!

John

May 8, 2013

Putting Your Foot in it!

oOPSI committed a huge social faux pas yesterday. I was at school picking up my daughter and started talking to a mum. Then another mum walked up to join the conversation. A couple of weeks ago I was told by a third-party that this mum was pregnant so in the interest of social courtesy I enquired ‘how is your pregnancy going?” She answered ‘I am so sick of people asking me that! I am not pregnant, in fact I have recently lost weight. I am so offended’. I said ‘I am so sorry, another mum told me that you were. You don’t look like you are but you could be carrying small. A lady I work closely with is 35 weeks and she barely looks pregnant”. She replied ‘Keep digging’. My final reply was ‘I’ve never made this mistake before and I feel awful right now. I am so sorry.’ The two mums then just drifted away from me as our kids let out of school. I went home feeling sick about what happened.

Also just recently we had a neighbourly predicament. We arrived home from visiting friends about 12.30 am and by the time we wound down and got to bed it was almost 1 am. All was quiet. Then at 4 am I was woken up by very loud doof, doof music. I got my dressing gown on and marched downstairs and outside looking for the source. My husband yelled softly down the stairs after me ‘Don’t confront anyone Catherine’. I went out the front door and soon discovered that my new neighbours were the source of the doof. We live in a small block of four units. This particular unit shares a side wall with us. Forgetting my husband’s advice I knocked loudly on the door. After talking to a wonderfully polite drunk man I returned to my own unit. By the time I reached my bed the music was completely off and not another sound was heard. A couple of days later I ran into one of the female tenants and she apologised for the loud music. I replied ‘that’s ok’ and I meant it. She answered ‘no it’s not’. I didn’t know what to say to that. I ended up saying no, it really is ok, you guys turned the music off immediately and that was what I wanted.

John and I have just returned from the a trip to Sydney where we stayed with my mother-in-law and her husband. While in the shower I gently adjusted the nozzle. It proceeded to break off in my hands. I dreaded ‘fessing up’ but drew the courage to do. My in-laws were beautiful and gracious about it, even though it will be a hassle for them to live with while it is repaired. I gratefully received the grace offered.

While these three situations are different they point to a social courtesy that is not talked about. It’s a little thing called ‘grace’. In the first situation I needed some grace and in the second situation I gave some grace but they didn’t receive it and in the third situation grace was given and received. In bible college one of my teachers defined grace as something you give someone or receive from someone that you don’t deserve. Without grace our relationships would become a score keeping event.

In the book ‘What’s so Amazing about Grace’, Philip Yancey recounts this story about C. S. Lewis: During a British conference on comparative religions, experts from around the world debated what, if any, belief was unique to the Christian faith. They began eliminating possibilities. Incarnation? Other religions had different versions of gods appearing in human form. Resurrection? Again, other religions had accounts of return from death. The debate went on for some time until C. S. Lewis wandered into the room. “What’s the rumpus about?” he asked, and heard in reply that his colleagues were discussing Christianity’s unique contribution among world religions. Lewis responded, “Oh, that’s easy. It’s grace.” After some discussion, the conferees had to agree.

In every major religion but Christianity, in order to acquire the love of God or His favor you have to do any number of religious deeds and acts of righteousness in order to be deserving. But from the Christian worldview “grace” and “deserving” are mutually incompatible, that is they don’t mix! In the Message, a bible in laymen’s terms, it says this from the book of Ephesians ‘Saving us is all his (God’s) idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving.’

In other words we cannot do anything to deserve God’s love and favor, we cannot do anything to earn it, and we cannot pay it back. All we can do is humbly accept it. Indeed, the grace that God’s gives is truly a unique element to Christianity.

I love the message of Grace so much that I had one of my bridesmaid’s sing an a capella version of this well-known song:

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

T’was Grace that taught my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
‘Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far
and Grace will lead me home.

When we’ve been here ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun.
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’ve first begun.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

Over and Out,

Catherine xoxox

May 1, 2013

‘Finding Yourself’

blog pictureTen years ago ‘finding yourself’ was common lingo. People would experience a major traumatic event which would cause them to question everything. Maybe it was the death of parent, spouse or child, the end of a marriage, an illness or injury, a loss of employment or income. I have just finished an 8 part series on Pregnancy Loss which details this kind of event for me. During this time, everything – especially my faith – came under scrutiny. I did a major assessment of myself, others and God. I went on a journey to ‘find myself’ as if somehow I had become lost. The problem is that when I did find myself I really didn’t like what I found! As a result I decided to tackle an issue that had dogged me for as long as I can remember – Rejection.

I have suffered some significant rejection in my life and as an adult I felt like reacted out of that emotional space no matter the relationship or context. For example if I was having a fight with someone and I thought they were going to reject me I would reject them first. I would often do what my friends call ‘the stomp out’ or ‘the hang up’. I would physically remove myself from the conflict. I wouldn’t fight fair either. I would verbalise my rejection with something like ‘I’m outta here, I want a divorce, this friendship is over, don’t call me I’ll call you’. I never meant what I said in those moments and would often be back apologising sometime later but the damage was often already done. How does one attack a life-long issue of Rejection? SLOWLY and with HELP (as required) is my answer to that.

Before I go into this further I want you to understand how the process of change occurs for most people. Major change comes to us via something called a ‘paradigm shift’. Think of a paradigm shift as a change from one way of thinking to another. Here is an example. You’re walking down the street and I pass you. You say ‘hi Catherine’ but I totally ignore you. You think ‘what a cow! How rude was that?’  This belief impacts on your emotions. You feel yucky because of the negative interaction and possibly a little bit angry with me. Then John comes running up the road and before you can speak he says ‘have you seen Catherine’. Still a bit upset you say ‘Yeah she went that way. Why?’. He says ‘our house just burnt down, we’ve lost everything’. Instantly your feelings change. You feel sympathy, understanding and concern – all your anger and negative thoughts are gone. Your emotions change because what you believed about the situation changed.

Often we try to change our behaviour and our feelings without tackling the underlying beliefs that produced them. To tackle an issue like rejection requires a more aggressive approach as the beliefs are often comfortable, strong and entrenched. Our life experiences have often re-enforced the internal belief/thought again and again. We often don’t even realise that we have them because ‘they are just a part of us’. We need to have one mighty paradigm shift in our thinking to change them.

There was never one ‘a-ha moment’ in which I experienced a big enough paradigm shift that everything got dealt with at once. Instead I started the process by recognizing the major core belief/thought that I held. It was:

‘I was unlovable and therefore no-one truly loved me.’

This belief created feelings of deep insecurity because I couldn’t trust people. I lived life in ‘survivor mode’ becoming a Jedi master at self-preservation. If my internal warning system perceived any emotional threat it would pull away. I would be ready to hit the reject button before others rejected me. In the event of conflict I would run because I couldn’t cope with my internal belief possibly being confirmed. If I did experience ‘true rejection’ I would literally implode with self-doubt and deep feelings of worthlessness. In the end it was easier to run away because then I could blame it all on the other person.

We develop beliefs through our experiences and while big beliefs are difficult to change there is great hope at doing so – I know because I’ve done it. The first person I ever believed loved me to this day is God. Over the past 25 years his enduring, unconditional love has given me the courage to believe that I might, just might be lovable. After accepting God’s love I had a measure of healing come into my life but it really wasn’t till I met John and was married to him that deeper more sustainable change happened. Marriage, if I wanted it to last, was a relationship that I couldn’t just run away from every time I felt exposed. I was forced to open up my heart and be vulnerable. Fortunately I have never in 14 years of marriage felt rejected by John. My marriage was a safe environment to begin to work through this issue. John was a great sounding board because his perspective of me and the issues were not clouded by damaging experiences. He could see things for what they were. As a result he was able to bring great truth, clarity and value to this journey for me. I have also experienced huge paradigm shifts through a course I attended called ‘Cleansing Streams’. The long-suffering love of friends and family has also bought freedom and acceptance in this area.

There is absolutely no right or wrong way to do this. Your journey is your journey. I do guarantee you that you will not be able to do it alone. While I’ve come a long way in the last 14 years I still find the ‘old thinking’ pops up when I get tired and emotionally run down but the paradigm shifts I’ve had renewing my mind and heart ‘hold strong’ and I pick myself up and move on quickly.

Over and Out,

Catherine xoxoxo

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