Do you struggle with the concept of self-care?

If you’re anything like me, you may struggle to make self-care a priority in your life.

I realised this morning that part of my subconscious mind seems to have the impression that I need to “earn” my times of rest, by doing all my pending chores beforehand. However, by the time I do complete them all (which isn’t always possible anyway), the day is gone and I’m stressed, exhausted and on the verge of burnout.

Because I often suffer from fatigue and frequent colds, I do need to take rest seriously, even though it goes against my perfectionistic desire to “get everything done”.

What do rest and self-care look like for you? I’d love to hear what works for you. Please do share if you’d like to in the comments below.

As for the argument that self-care is “selfish”, I have this to say:

1. I actually see self-care as a sign of humility. It means admitting that we are frail human beings and not robots… We can’t attempt to be superhumans who don’t need self-care without falling into pride, imho.

2. Even Jesus had to escape the clamouring crowds around him to spend time alone with God, in order to recharge his spiritual and emotional batteries. We also know that he took the opportunity to rest and sleep, such as on the boat during the storm, even though it seemed to his disciples that He had chosen an inappropriate time! (Matthew 8:23-27)

3. Taking responsibility for our own need for rest, nutrition and exercise is a vital step on the road to maturity. As we grow up, we can’t expect other people to look after us or take care of us.

4. When we do make our own self-care a priority, by setting appropriate, healthy boundaries and learning to say “no” in a kind but firm way, we will then have the energy to give to others from a refreshed and abundant heart, rather than a stressed or frazzled one.

If you’re reading these words and feel guilty that you’re “not quite there yet”, take heart; neither am I!!! We are all a work in progress.

True humility implies recognising where we need to grow, then praying that God will give us the strength to get there.

It is also important to be aware that any change isn’t easy and we will all find ourselves falling back into bad habits at times. But that doesn’t mean that we’ve “failed” or that we’re “no good”, it just is a gentle reminder that we all need more grace. We can’t get there on our own, and we’re not supposed to.

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Leaving shame behind

A friend of mine shared the following reflection recently:

I have noticed that when trying to help a person who has made many bad decisions through their life, even a whisper of correction sounds to them like a yell through a megaphone because they are not living with guilt, but shame.

They don’t have the resolve to change because they don’t think they did something wrong, they think there is something wrong with them.

The difficulty is trying to convince them that they are complete and enough while challenging them on their wrong beliefs and actions that only continue the destructive results they are getting.

There is only a spiritual solution to this. The mediator between God and man, who makes us righteous, calls us complete, shows us our worth, and then helps us change and recover from the mess we have made of our life.

There is no other way than through Jesus. Only he can take the worst of us, give us such incredible worth, then comfort us as we change into the image he has for us.

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Freedom in Christ

Sometimes, I get the impression that people meet me or get to know me online and think I am a lovely person. Then, when I do something that disappoints them or lets them down or say something they disagree with, they think they have seen the “real Emily”, who is not such a nice person after all and is most likely a hypocrite…

Of course, I can’t control how people see me or know exactly what they’re thinking. My worth and self-esteem are not conditional on their approval, but I do find it sad that many people have such a “black and white” way of seeing people…

For example, they tend to consider that people are “good” or “bad”, rather than a complex mixture of different factors and characteristics… I actually think that this is what Jesus meant when he said: “Do not judge”… He was speaking out against the idea that we can sit in God’s seat and decide if someone is “good” or “bad”…

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On the other hand, “FOGGY” believers (those whose faith has been drilled into them via “Fear, Obligation and Guilt/Shame”) usually try to use these same tactics when bringing up their children. They may have some “success” and breed a robotic clone of themselves, who goes to church/meetings every week and will in time bring up their own children in the same, tyrannical way…

However, more often than not in this day and age, “FOGGY” believers will see their sons and daughters rebelling against this kind of toxic control…

This is a cycle which perpetuates itself, whose ONLY fruitful end is in the arms of Christ, who is always knocking at the door of our hearts, ready to bring us peace and FREEDOM from the abuse and manipulative control that we suffered at the hands of toxic religion…

⚡️ Be aware!!⚡️ There are too many wolves in sheep’s clothing out there. Jesus said to His disciples:

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#ListenToTheShepherd

A word of sincerity

As many of my readers were in some kind of cult or highly-controlling religious group, hearing messages about repentance and sin can sometimes be very difficult. Rather than imagining our loving Father running out to meet us as He did with the Prodigal Son, we hear echoes of the condemnation and shame that our former group used to heap upon us…

Therefore, it can be very tempting to slip into a very liberal kind of “Christianity”, where the words “sin” and “repentance” are rarely used at all and anything goes…

I am walking between these different worlds, actively choosing to follow Jesus and not human leaders or religious traditions… 💕💖

#StuffJesusNeverSaid

This is my prayer:

I want to be honest with you all; I have NEVER set myself up as a teacher or prophetess or guru or anything like that at ALL… I just want to offer encouragement, compassion and prayers for those who have been in a cult or toxic religious environment. I also like to share things I’ve been learning about finding healing after suffering spiritual abuse. Another aim of this blog is to expose and shed light on the way cults work, so we can spread awareness and help those who have been hurt in this way.

I don’t want to impose my own convictions and personal beliefs regarding the Bible’s teachings on you all, but at the same time I don’t want you all to get the impression that I am an airy-fairy relativist who no longer believes in absolute truth or morality. This is not the case at all!!!

Just because I advocate for compassion, tolerance and mutual respect doesn’t mean I have let go of my principles or scruples…. I don’t often share my personal beliefs here regarding Scripture or Christian behaviour because it is not my aim to cause debate or division, but you may be surprised to learn that my husband and I are very Bible based. I do not judge others who are not, but I have personally found that every single one of the commands in the New Testament for Christians are designed to bring us FREEDOM and joy. Jesus’s yoke is light and not restrictive, and following Him has always brought me the greatest joy ☀️☀️☀️

#Inspired

You are beloved

I’ve been thinking very deeply about the way I understand the “commands” and “rules” in the New Testament. The way I like to see it is, these “rules” could be more accurately described as “Guidelines for Human Flourishing through Love”.

I believe that they were given to us by the Author of Life, and lived out as an example for us by Love Incarnate, Jesus Christ.

However, after leaving a cult or a toxic church, many people find it very hard to read the Bible and connect with the Author of Love, because its words often remind us of the destructive and legalistic way that our former religious group twisted the Scriptures to shame or belittle others, making them feel unworthy of God’s love…

If this is your case, I would encourage you not to give up. You can prayerfully find a way to rediscover God’s Word in order to reconnect with Jesus, so you can see that He was always on the side of the oppressed, the hurting and the wounded, against the oppressive spiritual leaders of his time. Ultimately, they couldn’t bear his threat to their authority, so they plotted to kill him. But “death could not contain him”, and he overcame the stigma of sin and shame on the cross, opening up a new life for all of us.

The New Covenant of grace and love through Jesus Christ our Lord is SO revolutionary that most “churches” and religious groups have strayed from Jesus’s original message and instead, have placed themselves in the role of Pharisees, “lording it over” others, just as Jesus told them NOT to do.

I lament and mourn deeply when I see this, because there are SO many victims of this kind of insidious spiritual abuse, and they often feel like they have nowhere to turn.

I know I say this often and it may sound like a cliché by now, but I mean it very sincerely: you are NOT alone. I invite you to join our online group: Faith after Deception Fellowship if you haven’t done so already, and you can also send me a private email to faithafterdeception@gmail.com if you don’t feel comfortable sharing things openly with the whole group or aren’t a fan of Facebook.

I’m going to say it again: you are not alone. You are beloved and beautiful in God’s sight. May His grace be with you today 💖💖💖💖

Lies I’ve believed that I regret

I know it may seem a very obvious thing to say, but prayer is COMMUNICATION with God…It is an outpouring of our spirit, mind, and emotions into His loving arms.

In the same way, when we reach out to God in humble prayer, repenting of our sins and submitting to His will, Jesus makes his voice known to us, if we take the time and are open to listening:

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I think that this concept has often been confused and overshadowed by many different ideas that do not represent the childlike expression of “Abba Father” that Jesus taught us to pray.
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For example, when I was a young Christian in my early twenties, I was taught “Christian Meditation”, which consisted of repeating one specific “prayer word” over and over again, in order to find peace in my heart and stillness. I would wake up every morning, do some yoga stretches and then repeat my mantra…
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I cannot remember ever reaching a great state of inner peace by doing this, or finding fulfillment in my daily life… In fact, I was often overcome by a feeling of dissatisfaction and confusion…
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One day as I was “praying” like this, I sensed in my heart that God was speaking to me. He said ONE word to me in Spanish: “engaño” – which means “deceit“. I know now that He was trying to warn me that my “meditation” was part of a larger deception that I wasn’t aware of.
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I would like to say that from that day forward I stopped repeating my mantra, repented and entered into meaningful prayer and communication, but sadly that was not the case.  In fact, I quickly dismissed the word “engaño” (deceit) from my mind and carried on as normal…
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However, the memory of that word stayed with me, and later I did come to understand that I had been deceived. Unfortunately, before that happened I ended up falling into an even greater deception: due to the influence of some charismatic Roman Catholic friends, I began to “pray” using the Rosary, to Mary and the “saints”.
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I had imagined that the feeling of the beads in my hands and the repetitive words would bring me peace and inner stillness, but I was not blessed with either.  In fact, my mental health began to deteriorate and I quickly descended into insecurity, depression and loneliness…
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When I first became a Christian at the age of 15, I had known the true joy of the Holy Spirit in my heart, God’s peace and inner fulfillment, but when I started on the path of “Christian Meditation” and then praying the rosary, all this gradually left me… I had fallen into the deceptive arms of human religion, and the fruits were not good at all.
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After my father’s death in the year 2000 and my brother’s subsequent psychosis, I was lost, vulnerable and very naïve.  “Christian” Meditation, yoga and the ancient rituals of the Catholic church attracted me in a very powerful way, and I had no one to warn me that I was venturing along a dangerous path…
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Then, I spent some time with my friend Rodrigo (who later became my husband) and he took the time to warn me about the lies I’d fallen into.  At first, I refused to listen to him, but eventually, the Holy Spirit started to show me that it was all true.  This realization was extremely difficult at first… I felt ashamed and foolish…
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In my confusion, shame and vulnerability, I started to look for concrete, dependable answers.  I still hadn’t developed a strong sense of Biblical discernment, and I ended up accepting a “Bible study” with the Jehovah’s Witnesses.  My husband (then fiancé) was brought up in this religion and was an inactive member when we got first together.  At that time, he was on the fringes of the Organization, quite critical of them but still under the power of their indoctrination.
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My zeal for the Word of God and deep need for certainty meant that I was a prime target for the JWs.  They “love-bombed” me to such a degree that I felt like I had finally found a community where I could belong… You can read more about this part of my story here:
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Thankfully, I finally woke up to the evil deception present in that religion, and both my husband and I have broken away completely from their influence.
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I am still deeply aware that it’s extremely easy to fall back into deception because the Devil wants to lead us astray, away from our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. For this reason, it is now my priority to make sure I am rooted and grounded in Scripture and that I analyze everything with a discerning mind, through the power of the Holy Spirit.
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As we seek to move forward, join me in praying this for all of us, so we can walk in discernment and faith, with love:
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NEVER relegate anyone to a “sub-human” status

I think that when Jesus told us to love our enemies, he was saying that we should NEVER relegate someone to a “sub-human” status. That’s also why he tells us that our hidden anger can lead to violence… because it ALL starts with the language we use and the thoughts we harbour in our minds…

Many of us here are victims of this, as the cult or highly controlling religious group has labeled us as “apostates”, “heretics”, “backsliders”, or simply “bad association”. Little by little, they take away our humanity in their minds, reducing us to a mere CONCEPT, that must be avoided or shunned 😥😥😥

Every act of racial violence and case of sexual abuse involves people being steeped in a mindset in which they are SUPERIOR to others… It is fuelled by toxic stereotypes, loaded language and intolerance …

So, what do we do? Do we “demonise” the intolerant people, speak badly of them and shun them? No!!! We must prayerfully find space in our hearts to love them with compassion, without coming under their control or toxic influence…

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Another thing I’ve been learning is that we can never label ourselves “the good guys” and our adversaries “the bad guys”, or anything similar. Neither does it help much to see everyone as “imperfect”… these are just empty words which don’t help much. I personally find that the best adjective to use to describe those who intentionally hurt others, is “broken”. In their broken sinfulness, due to their own upbringing in an environment devoid of compassion or grace, they have developed an attitude of small-minded superiority, which actually masks their deep-seated insecurities and fears…

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Does this mean that their their actions are excusable or that they get to avoid justice??? By no means!! It just helps us to visualise them with more grace and empathy, to avoid feeling “superior” ourselves…

It all starts with our thoughts and the language we use. God has been showing me this week that I need to GROW in grace and compassion towards those who irritate, hurt or exasperate me… I can’t spend my time “venting” or gossiping about them or dwelling on their flaws and imperfections, I need to “let them go”, trusting that God is a righteous judge and will deal with them at the proper time.

If we follow the Christ-like path of forgiveness, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we can move past our hurts and focus on God’s goodness towards us and ALL humanity, putting bitterness behind us and walking in grace and victory 🌟🌟🌟

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