27 March, 2012

Integrity - what's up with that?

"People of integrity expect to be believed. They also know that time will prove them right and are willing to wait." - Ann Landers
Integrity is one of those qualities that erodes little by little, and often without us even knowing - along with patience and determination. Yet, we should all be trying to increase and build these up.

Integrity is one of those hard qualities that is difficult to explain, and even harder to measure. But it is clear to others if someone has it or not - according to  my Mum. My older sister says integrity is what you do when no-one else is around.
The dictionary definition says it's so much more than that. It's about honesty. It's about strong moral principals.

Our integrity is seen by others only as we respond to planned and unplanned incidents. In times when crisis hits that's when you see the true integrity of a person; by what they say and, more importantly, what they do.

To build up our integrity... perhaps with quote from John Milton will help us all.
"He who reigns within himself and rules his passions, desires, and fears is more than a king."
To be ruled by our passions, desires, and fears is a lack of reflection or a 'lifestyle of denial', it's not a cure for the heart; ignoring these things actually compounds them.
The feedback of loved ones, and Holy Spirit's prompting, will lift us to life affirming values; where we can rule our passions, desires, and fears - they don't rule us! Each day as we stand up to ourselves and our selfish ways and fears with the Holy Spirit's help we are slowly building up our morals and increasing hopefully becoming more honest. It's not a quick process to integrity but it's a journey that over time, we will be able to step back and say 'Yes, I am living a life of integrity'.

Consider this; are you living a life of integrity?

08 March, 2012

A deep sense of loneliness

There are times when a deep sense of loneliness engulfs every inch of me and I can't escape it; like a solid and lasting punch to the heart.

It isn't brought on by seeing lovers kissing, or even by the memory of falling asleep in the strong yet soft and gentle embrace of a man. No, it isn't brought on by anything like this.
The loneliness just comes from nowhere, punches me in the heart and leaves me to deal with that solid and lasting pain that then consumes me. It's as though this punch leaves a hollowness in my heart and soul that I am unable to fill.

Last year it was more than I could handle. But I couldn't bring myself to say anything to anyone. Thinking that Jesus is meant to be my comforter and councillor, I foolishly kept telling myself that should be able to pray about this and the Holy Spirit would help me out - I shouldn't have to talk to anyone about this! I knew that in order to remove the power that a situation or the power that struggles held over me (or you), I needed to speak about them. By speaking about it I would be shedding light on that situation or struggle and removing the power it held over me.
But with this deep sense of loneliness, no.
I didn't want to speak to anyone, I didn't want to ask for help, asking for help is considered a sign of weakness (popular culture tells me that so it must be true) and I'm not weak....
But I was wrong; oh so very very wrong. It was weak to not ask for help.

Friends, didn't know I was struggling and I certainly wasn't about to tell them I constantly felt deeply and desperately lonely - that I was fighting these feelings even when I was with trusted friends and family. No, I wasn't about to talk to them.

It was the Christian prayer counsellor I was seeing at the time that I eventually told. It took a couple of months. Yet there in that private room under the cover of a signed confidentiality agreement (which seems SO important when you don't want to talk about your feelings) I took a big breath, lifted my head to heaven to avoid crying as I spoke and told someone. For the first time I said "I'm lonely. I can't escape this deep painful loneliness in my heart and soul. It really hurts!"

SO glad I said something! Once I stopped crying (yes, even lifting my head so the tears wouldn't roll down my cheeks they inevitably did) we prayed.
That's a lie - I didn't pray; my prayer counsellor prayed for me and I agreed with her prayer. She prayed against spirit of loneliness, and that the Lord Jesus would fill my heart with His unconditional love as only He can, and take away this the deep loneliness, to fill me with His joy and love.

It wasn't until I lay in bed that night that I even noticed that for the first time, in I've no idea how long, I didn't feel lonely. My heart wasn't screaming for love. I felt FULL of Jesus' love! That love that only He can give! Through the Holy Spirit I knew and now really felt loved! Loved beyond words and beyond understanding - I am LOVED!

Looking back, the hardest part was telling someone about it. I couldn't break free on my own, I'd tried for months to do it by myself and I couldn't, I needed to ask someone else to pray me through it.

I can't encourage you enough - if this article has spoken into your heart PLEASE go and see a counsellor or ask a trusted wise friend to help you and prayer with you. You only need to ask!