Are you a toxic person?

City built over toxic waste dump

In the 1900’s there was a canal built in the Niagara Falls region. It was originally built as the site for a dream community. The site was called love canal. It was chosen because of it’s location to the falls. This would provide an unlimited source of hydroelectric power. In 1910 Tesla created the alternating current system which allows electrical current to travel great distances. Love canal could not make it past the new technology and thus failed.

In the 1920’s it was turned into a municipal and chemical dumpsite. Company’s dumped and dumped chemicals, waste, and trash at this site for years. One day the filled up the canal with dirt and sold the land for $1. In the 1950’s the city built 100 homes and a school. For a while this worked well. Then in 1978 the proverbial bombshell was dropped.

The EPA Journal posted that many of these canals were nothing more then ticking time bombs. Any moment they could cause massive amounts of sickness and damage. As the story goes, a strong series of rainstorms caused the downward spiral and the leaching began. You could see corroded waste-disposal drums pushing up through the ground in backyards. Trees and garden were turning black and dying. One swimming pool was elevated out of it’s structure and floated on a puddle of chemicals. You could see puddles of toxic chemicals in peoples yards. The worse of it all were that children would return from play with chemical burns on their hands and face.  Children born with birth defects. Sickness and death were abound.

The whole tragedy could have been adverted.

We have become a wasteland 

I think the true story above is a sobering illustration for our own lives. Each of us have dreams and hopes for the future. Each of us desire the best out of life. A great number of us has experienced times when something happened and it derailed us from our purpose and potential.  Something that caused us to stop dead in our tracks.

Instead of thriving after the incident we fell apart. What could have been salvaged is now left to rot. I am speaking about our emotions. That which is under the surface. How many of you guys have had that happen to you? You have had something come into your life that just rocked your world and ultimately derailed you? Something that you never recovered from.

Then we go through life just surviving. We try to build things in our lives to see if we can truly live again. However, so many of us have never dealt with the underlining issues. Instead of building something healthy in our lives we have built a facade. We built something that looks healthy, but underneath is a time bomb waiting for a place to go off.

In truth, the painful emotions that we have been hiding have began to leach out. They are starting to surface and people are starting to get hurt. In essence, we have became a toxic individuals. We have never dealt with the real issues, only hid them, and now they want out.

We all have the potential to be toxic

Before I give you the list of what can potentially make us toxic I would like to give you some encouragement and context. The things in this blog are written from a a decade of ministry, over 3 decades of life experience and observation, and my own junk. These observations are not about any one person, but a series of life experiences.

If you find that many of these things hit home in your life then it is time to seek help. It is time to get before God and ask for His direction in your personal life. Your health depends on it. Your relationships depends on it. Your relationship with God depends on it. It is that important.

Emotionally Toxic people are emotionally and mentally unhealthy and can make other’s unhealthy around them. Ultimately pushing everyone away, blaming it on others, and complaining that they are the only one who gets it. This even goes for their relationship with God.

Here is your guideline to see if you are toxic 

They are very Manipulative

Manipulation is a way to covertly influence someone through indirect, deceptive, or abusive tactics. Manipulation can seem friendly, flattering, or harmless, but in reality it is designed to reach an ulterior motive. This is one of the most prevalent marks of toxicity.

People who are manipulative will oftentimes be people who get close to you, learn about you, become “friends” or some other form of relational connection, and then start to play on your emotions in order to get what they want out of you. This is a very selfish individual who may believe that have your best interest at heart.

Manipulation comes in many forms. I have had people try to emotionally manipulate me. They would either play the victim or they would always be hurt. Why? So I can encourage them and build them up. I have had people read my texts to other people and then come back to me trying to come back to me and play “dumb” as they argued from a position of superiority in attempts to trap me into something. One of the worst manipulation that ever happened to me is when I was in 4th-5th grade. I was in “love” with this girl. She knew it. She played on those emotions. Why? To manipulate me and make me vulnerable. She tore me apart through manipulation and opened me up to some of the most severe bullying I had ever experienced.

They are in a place of extreme desperation 

Desperation is a state of despair that results in rash or extreme behavior.

Desperate people are people who are often very clingy. If something doesn’t go their way they feel like everything in their world is falling apart and they have to do anything they can to save it. I find people who live in desperation are often people who have sever trust issues and little to no self esteem. These are people who will go to great lengths to keep what they have.

One of the best examples I have comes from a few years back. I knew this person who got close to me. There was a steadiness in my pattern of living. We would shoot texts back and forth. We would engage in some decent conversations. Then everything in my life began to change. My life was increasingly putting more and more demands on my time. I had to stop communicating with people as much. This person took it personally. They didn’t trust our relationship. They had little to no self esteem. I would even say that they had co-dependency tendencies.  Long story short, they became desperate. They kept trying to grasp for a relationship that they believed was ending. I would get increased communication. I started getting accusations. It was all a desperate attempt to keep what they believed was a lost relationship. In reality, it wasn’t lost just changing. They couldn’t handle that.

They are shrouded in negative and judgmental emotions. 

A toxic person is shrouded in negative judgmental emotions. If you are a person who is rarely known for giving kind and uplifting words then this is you. If you “think” you are very encouraging and uplifting try asking someone who is willing to be honest with you. You may hear a different story. Bottom line is that toxic people are known to be pessimists who cynically judge the world according to their standards. They judge to the point that it removes the joy out of things.  They create their own storms and then get mad when it rains.

I have known people that have never had nice words to say about people. They have complained to me about people that I have never even met. When you bring up ideas to them you are met with untrusting, uncertain, insecure, and oft times cynical behavior that it becomes very draining to be around them.

The people they deem “worthy” will be spared their verbalization of their judgement, but make no mistake they have still judged you. In their hearts and minds they have passed their judgement. They are only waiting for you to do what they already thought you would.

They are extreme in their emotions and very possessive

One of the possible markers of a toxic person is the unsteadiness of their emotional expressions. One moment they seem happy, but the next they are almost depressed. It could have been triggered by something you said or did. It could also be triggered by a lifetime of pain and hurt brought on by no reason whatsoever.

One of the markers of a healthy individual is consistency and stability in their emotions. Consistency and stability allows trust to be built. Basically, I never have to be afraid of what version of you I am getting in that moment. I should know what to expect when dealing with you. Even when we are emotional, broken, or discouraged there should be a reassurance that I don’t have to be afraid of what you are going to do.

The other side of this is Jealousy and envy.  A toxic person will be insanely jealous of anyone who they feel is getting more time with you are then they did. They will feel very dejected and down when you haven’t contacted them in a short time period. They will become very angry when you are close to someone more then you are close to them.  They will be desperate to know who you are spending your time with, what you are saying, and how they other person responds. Because in reality they believe that you belong to them.

They are there under false pretense

Red flags should be flying when someone approaches you under the pretense that it is their mission to protect you. Their reason? They believe that your judgement is off. This is an indicator that they believe that their judgement somehow is more solid then yours.

Toxic people misrepresent themselves. They are only showing you what they want you to see. There is very little “real” to their story. They have built their lives around a persona that suits their needs and then continually act it out in front of others.

The Skinny

This list isn’t exhaustive.  We could talk about so many other things that could fall into this topic. We could share about how toxic people are full of pride and are good at deflecting blame. We could bring up more on how toxic people do not like the people closest to you.

We could say so much else, but there is 1 bottom line: You need to remove toxic people from your life. It is unloving to yourself to keep them in your life. Don’t feel bad about it. One of two things are going to happen. You are going to change them or they will change you. The reality? I have never really seen a healthy person change a toxic person. Know why? Either the healthy person become unhealthy (Toxic people are good at bringing out the toxic in others) or the toxic individual leaves because they cannot handle being around healthy people.

Truth: people who surround themselves with emotionally toxic friends, but think nothing is wrong with them is living a fantasy. If your circle of friends are unhealthy and toxic individuals you are not the diamond in the rough. You are the coal amongst other pieces of coal. You have just convinced yourself that you are somehow different.

Bonus: If you were offended by this blog chances are you may be toxic!

Blessings!!!

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6 PRACTICAL THOUGHTS ABOUT BOUNDARIES

In my last post I talked about the importance of boundaries as it related to our health. I wanted to give you 6 more thoughts about boundaries. My life revolves around boundaries and trying to be healthy. I am not always successful, but I am a work in progress.

Here is a few thoughts to further the discussion on having boundaries in your life:

  1. You will have boundaries with everyone.

You will. It is just a fact. We live in a world were we are trying to fight our baggage from a lifetime of unresolved pain, unhealed hurts, and unmet needs. While we are fighting through our own struggles everyone else is fighting through their baggage as well. When my struggle meets your struggle unhealthiness is the most likely production of the intertwining. To prevent this we must have boundaries with everyone. This includes your friends, people you meet, your coworkers, your congregation (for my leaders and pastor friends), your spouse, and your children. The healthier you are the more passionate you are about keeping and maintaining boundaries with everyone in your life.

2.    Your boundaries may be different with everyone

Something inside everyone reacts to something in you. The reaction may be positive or negative, but you will experience a reaction of some sort. Some people will bring the best out of you. Some people will bring the worst our in you. Most often the unhealthiness of others brings out the unhealthiness in us. We must guard against that if we are to heal and become healthy.

There is something in everyone that reacts different to something in you. Some people may be codependent and it connects with that people pleasing part of you. Some people may be flirtatious and that connects to your previous addiction to pornography and your struggle with lust. Some people don’t know their boundaries and the part of you that enables people allows them to walk all over you. Some gossip and you join in. Some are critical and judgmental and you find yourself being the same.  It is a never ending cycle without boundaries.

You must evaluate yourself. Evaluate how you react to people. When we do this we can start erecting boundaries in that area of our lives.  Ask yourself: How do I react to them? What does this person bring out in me? How are my actions different with this person then others?

When we ask these question we can start to find the boundaries that match this particular person. Your boundaries with that person make not mimic or even come close to the boundaries you have with others. Each boundary is there to help you with a specific problem.

Guaranteed that you will have some boundaries that are similar. For example: I don’t like being alone with women who are not my wife. It is a boundary I have with every lady.  Then I have boundaries that are different with other people. There are some people I don’t text with. There are some people I only email with. There are some people that I quickly end conversations with because they do not know when to stop certain behaviors. Then there are people that I will only interact with them in certain situation. There are some people I only talk to at church. These are just some of the types of boundaries that I have. They are there so that I do not fall into a place of unhealthiness in my life.

Some boundaries may be stronger then others. Just remember it is not about the strength of the boundary it about the health you are trying to achieve.

3.     Always communicate your boundaries with Love 

Unhealthy people don’t understand boundaries. They try to do anything and everything they can to bring your boundaries down. You can blame them if you want, but that is an unhealthy engagement of your energy. In reality unhealthy people will always do what unhealthy people do. Act unhealthy. They will continue to act this way until they decide to take the leap to become healthy.

In saying this, you must ALWAYS communicate your boundaries in love. If you are a Christian bringing condemnation or shame and guilt towards a person is a sin.  You cannot change how people act. They will always act out their unhealthiness. The greater the unhealthiness in a person the greater they will challenge your journey to become healthy.  Don’t hold it against them. Jesus had compassion for people. We need to have compassion for people. However, compassion doesn’t equate to being a doormat. Remember that.

Time and time again your boundaries are going to be challenged. In the most loving way you can explain to them why the boundary is there. Do not focus on their problems or what you think is wrong with them. Focus on how you respond in these particular situations. Focus on how unhealthy you are in the situation. That is loving. Taking ownership for your actions and then doing something about it.

They will be given a choice. Accept your boundaries or not. If they accept it then harmony will ensure. However, many people who are unhealthy will not accept them. They will think that they are dumb or that you are being unfair. Continue to love them anyway. Stay strong in your boundaries. Just because things may seem better doesn’t mean they are. Appearance doesn’t always equate to reality.

If they stay in your life then it is proof that they want to get healthy, but may not know how. Continue to love them through it, but always communicate your boundaries with love.

4.     Always stand by your boundaries 

The hardest thing that I have ever had to do is stand by my boundaries. My heart is so forgiving that I often forget what unhealthy action was committed. I also have the tendency to downplay the situation. This simply means I tend to think the situation isn’t as serious as people make it out to be. That there is always a silver lining or brighter side to it.

Knowing this about myself I must be vigilant in my boundaries. To drop my boundaries is allow into my life the very things I erected those boundaries to prevent.

Life isn’t always black and white. There are so many shades of gray. Your boundaries are the black and white answers to the gray you cannot decipher. It may hurt your heart or others, but remember the goal and mission is to be as healthy as you can.

5.     People will cheer your boundaries with others and criticize the boundaries you have for them

I have come across this more times then I can count. Here is how it usually goes. You make the decision to be healthy in your life. People encourage you. People applaud you. They are so excited to hear that you are making so many positive life changes. Then you start sharing your plan. You tell people of the boundaries that you are erecting to help you be healthy. You detail each boundary and why. People will sit there and listen. They will become excited. They will agree with you. They will say yes so and so is like that and that is wise of you to have that boundary. Then the conversation will turn to them. You share your boundaries with them. All of a sudden they are no longer happy. They begin to disagree with you. Feelings get hurt. And relationships are strained.

The truth is that people do not like to be confronted with the fact that something about them makes you act in an unhealthy way. People also do not like to be confronted with the fact that there may be something about them that is unhealthy. Most people have built up this self image that denies any problems and promotes only good image building things.

It will happen to you. Trust me. When it does happen just realize that they are acting out of hurt. Hurt will pass. People will either get over it, hold it against you, or they will leave you.  Let them make that decision. You are putting boundaries in your life for reasons. Stick to your reasons. As long as they are Biblical reasons to promote health then don’t be ashamed of them.

6.     People who violate your boundaries are people that don’t truly respect you

You will have people in your life that will try to violate your boundaries. Some will find any way to do it. Some will manipulate the situation to violate your boundaries and pass it off as a joke. These people are playing out their unhealthiness. They are very selfish and do not understand the ramifications of what they are doing or how it makes them look. They see what they want and they go for it regardless of how it makes others feel.

Remember, that they are playing out their unhealthiness. They don’t respect your boundaries because they don’t respect themselves. I know many will try to convince you otherwise. Actions speak louder then words though. When someone is so into what they want, what they feel, and will stop at nothing to get pass your boundaries then it is a representations of the dysfunction and hurt in their own soul. They do not truly respect your boundaries, or you, because they do not have much respect for themselves. A lifestyle of boundaries is a lifestyle of respect.

Love them through it. Your journey to health will make others feel awkward, left out, and hurt. That is not really your problem. I know that sounds harsh, but you cannot take the problems of the world on you. How they respond is up to them. Their response should not determine your direction.

A healthy relationship depends on the emotional space provided by personal boundaries. Be vigilant in creating that space!!

A word of encouragement for my friends who have co-dependent personalities. You will have difficulties in setting such limits. However, defining and protecting boundaries efficiently will be a vital part of regaining your mental and emotional health.

My Heart: 

As I type these words I cannot help but feel a sense of conviction. In my life I have worked hard to maintain boundaries. I have worked hard to stay healthy. However, I have come to realize that recently there as been situations that have challenged my emotional health. The situation has started to drag me back to a place of unhealthy.

Realizing this I have had to get before God. In my prayer time I have come to a simple conclusion. I am going to have to make some hard choices about some of my relationships and then find the courage to follow through with them. Honestly, this scares me. I know it will be awkward, hurtful, and possibly confusing. However, I cannot help but thing of the cost if I do not redefine a couple of my relationships.

I said that to say this: It is not easy, but it is always right to create and maintain boundaries. Create them with grace and love. Share them with grace and love. Live in them with boldness. Never give up the fight!

Some Resources: 

http://www.cloudtownsend.com/scoop-on-boundaries/

http://www.amazon.com/Boundaries-When-Take-Control-Your/dp/0310247454

https://bible.org/seriespage/1-boundary-basics

http://thewellpsl.com/media.php?pageID=78

Be Blessed!!!!

Creating Healthy Boundaries

Health. That is the goal. To be healthy and whole in our minds and emotions. We work so hard to have our physical bodies look good while our souls and minds are deteriorating from lack a lifetime of pain and trauma that has never been dealt with.

What you don’t deal with will effect you. Think about it through this illustration. Someone places a bomb in the middle of your living room. It is siting there counting down the time until it explodes. You know it is there. Many others know it is there. Yet you do nothing about it. It just sits there day in and day out waiting to explode. In your heart you know that you have to do something about it. In your head you have convinced yourself that it really won’t hurt you. All the while the bomb is still sitting there waiting to go off.  Then one day the countdown ends and the bomb explodes. Effectively hurting you and everyone within it’s radius.

There is a bomb in your soul. It is sitting there waiting to go off. You are given the choice to deal with it or not. You know it is there. You have lived a painful life and realized that it created this bomb. You have tried to convince yourself that it won’t hurt you or anyone. All the while it is ticking down to the next incident before it explodes and many people get hurt. With this thought it is time to do something about it. It is time to get healthy.

One of the greatest ways to get healthy it to erect boundaries in our lives. Personal boundaries are guidelines, rules or limits that a person creates to identify for themselves what are reasonable, safe and permissible ways for other people to behave towards him or her and how they will respond when someone steps past those limits (Psychological today definition).

The healthiest people in the world are those who have boundaries. Boundaries are not limitations, but things that show the limits of what a healthy person is willing to engage in. This doesn’t mean you put people into prison! No! This means you are giving them freedom. They know where the line is, and how to operate within your boundaries.

Do you know the most important thing about a boundary? Is that you are putting limits on yourself and others so you can have the opportunity to heal. Think of it this way. I own a home. Around my home is a property line. That is a physical boundary that I can enforce. If I do not want people on my property then they are not allowed on my property. On my property I can do whatever I want (within legal rights).

You are saying the same things to others. This is my line that people cannot cross. This is not to punish people, but a declaration that says I am wanting to get healthy in this area. You may ask about their feelings. Honestly, some people will applaud you, but most will challenge you. It is not about what the feel. It is about what you are willing to do in order to become the healthiest you that you can be.

  1. You need boundaries to get healthy 

This isn’t an option. If you do no have clearly defined boundaries then people will continue to walk all over you.  If people continue to walk all over you then you will never have the space that you desire to finally find healing.

2. Don’t allow anyone else unhealthiness impede your desire to be healthy. 

The world is full of emotionally unhealthy people. Never allow them to rule your life and limit your potential. People will try to violate your boundaries, make you feel bad about your boundaries, and drawing the attention to the importance of themselves over your health.

3.  Defining boundaries will be a challenge. 

Sometimes we really don’t know what we need. One of the greatest challenges will be to evaluate yourself in an honest and objective way. think of it this way. You are not as good as you think you are. Also, you are not as bad as you think you are. Most people fall in the middle of the two extremes. However, there are a very rare few who are extreme in their feelings. Those particular people may need extra help obtain through a professional. I encourage everyone to see a professional at some point in your life.

4.  You are not alone in this. 

We feel lost. We feel alone. We feel like we are not good enough. All of those emotions are false.  There are people around you who are willing to help and be there for you. There are people who are further a long on the journey of health and can give you their wisdom. All you have to do is have the courage to ask.

5.  It will be awkward and hard enforcing your boundaries.

People do not like to be told what to do. Face it. However, do not let that detract you from your mission. Your mission is personal health. In the journey to health you will make people mad. You will make people feel awkward. You will make them want to stop being friends with you. That is ok. If they really cared about you, as they say they do, then their heart will be that you become healthy. Friends who are willing to enter the journey with you will be friends for life. They will always be friends who will try to be healthy themselves. Remember, an unhealthy friend plus a healthy friend still equals an unhealthy relationship.

6.  Have the courage to stay the course.

Enforcing boundaries will be hard. There will be days that you will want to give up. There will be days that you will be stronger then others. You must stay the course. You are creating a lifestyle change. It will take time, but in the end it will become part of who you are. Don’t be afraid. You may lose some friends. That is ok. In the end you will find joy and peace.

My Boundaries:

I have had to work hard over the years to define my boundaries. In fact, I am still working on defining them and redefining them. Let me give you an example of two of the type of boundaries that you may want to have in your life.

Example 1: Throwing in the pillow

My wife and I have a boundary that we created a long time ago in our marriage. Yes you will need boundaries in our marriage. Remember a boundary isn’t bad thing. They are lines in the sand that declare you are ready to be healthy.

When my wife and I were first married we use to argue a lot. We decided that when things got heated that we needed something to allow us to walk away without offending the other person. So we decided to use a pillow. When you throw the pillow into the middle of a heated discussion it signifies that the person who threw the pillow needs to walk away. The response of the other person is to let them walk away. It doesn’t means we won’t ignore the issue. It means we simply need time to regroup, gain peace, and approach it when we are not so combative.

Example 2: Lack of Reply

Over the years I have developed a boundary that helped me in a major way become healthy.  I don’t engage people in unhealthy chatter, negativity, passive aggressive shots, or the persons incessant need to tear everyone else down. I also tend not to give my full attention to who think they are right and have a hard time seeing any point but their own.

When I engage a person through texts, emails, or calls I am always cognizant of the conversational direction. If a person is making unhealthy statements, is overly negative, or passive aggressive I will either end the conversation abruptly or completely ignore the statement.  If a person asks why I will tell them. I tell them the truth in love.

You may think that is hash, but I promise you when people know that you do that it can do a couple things. First, the person contacting you may stop engaging in those behaviors around you. Second, the person may stop contacting you all together. It is ok if a person is unhealthy and doesn’t want to be in your life. That means that you are weeding our people who will either sabotage your healthy or hold you back from being healthy. Finally, it could inspire them to be healthy. Option 3 doesn’t happen often, but it is wonderful when it does.

Closing thoughts:

The types of boundaries are endless. You will have to go through your heart and determine what makes you unhealthy. Then strategize what you will need in order to stop the behavior. Let your driving question be, “What can I do with this person that will all me to be healthy?”

One of the hardest parts of this journey is recognizing that you and I are unhealthy. We have to admit that about ourselves. We also have to recognize how others make us unhealthy as well. Recently, God has shown me in my own life how certain individuals draw out the unhealthy parts of my soul. It was very hard for me to admit. Now I am in prayer to determine what to do about it. Could it hurt the other peopler? Yes. However, my health is my  primary goal. I do not like or want to hurt peoples feelings, but I am desperate to be healthy.

No one will take charge of your personal health but you. Today, get before God and ask Him to give you the courage and direction you need to become healthy.

In my next post I am going to give you a few practical thoughts about boundaries. I will also recommend some good resources that may be able to help you start your journey.

I encourage you to follow me on social media! Also, I encourage you to sign up for email updates, and follow this blog!

Be Blessed!

7 Marks of unhealthy people

Unhealthiness is in us and all around us. Engaging in unhealthy behaviors and leaves us empty. We become devoid of encouragement. We face the danger of being plunged into a life that models despair more then hope.

Knowing the state of your emotional health is paramount to knowing how to become more healthy in your life.

The following are what I call “marks” of emotional unhealthiness. These are signs that you could be emotionally unhealthy. Use them as a reflective tool to determine if you or the person you are engaging with are unhealthy. By no means is this an exuse to judge people, but to help people come to the realization that we need help! We need to find healing.

In my lifetime I can say I have exhibited the following things more times then I like to count. It has only been in recent years where I finally feel like I am gaining victory in my life over the unhealthiness that I have allowed to grow in my soul.

1.  How people talk about other’s to you is how they will talk about you to others.

Listen up! People will share with you their hearts. They may think that they are being guarded and not really telling you anything, but the signs are all there for those who observe.

If a person is trash talking a “type” of person or a “specific” person then they are unhealthy. healthy people do not trash talk others. Healthy people state facts, engage in prayer, and seek ways to become healthy in the midst of an unhealthy situation.

Listen not only to what is being said but how it is being said. If a person is brought up in conversation and the other person only has negative things to say then there is a high level on unhealthiness there.

Now for the hard truth. If a person is very free in how they talk about people to you they will be just as free in talking to others about you. Don’t let the person fool you. They will say I am only telling you this, but in reality they are telling whoever will listen to them.

I have seen this so many times both in my own life and in the lives of others.

For example, even though I saw this sign in someone I trusted them with my heart. You know what happened? Many of those same people are now actively trash talking about me to others. Unhealthiness breads unhealthiness. Listen to how people talk about people. Listen to how you talk about others.

Hear me out. healthy people can be trusted to both listen to and talk about the actions of others. However, healthy people will not tear another person down. They may talk about how things went or how things could be different, but they refuse to engage in diminishing of another person.

If you want to know if you are someone like this then ask someone who will answer you honestly. However, don’t put them in an awkawd position. Seek truth not justification of your actions. A spouse will be the best choice for this question. That is provided that they are healthy individuals.

2.  People will crucify other’s for actions that they will excuse in themselves

Guilty. When I have been hurt I have looked at people and began to pick them apart. I would crucify them in my head. They were the individuals who did this. They were the individuals who sinned. How dare they! All the while I was excusing the same issues in my own life.

It is not easy to admit, but we all do it. When something is done against us it is a huge thing. When we do something against someone else it is no big deal. What hypocrisy.

This is a sign of unhealthiness that many will not see. Why? Because this is one that is covert and often in hiding. This is the one were we think it, but rarely ever speak it. Just because you don’t say it doesn’t mean it doesn’t need to be dealt with.

3.  Misery loves company

When people are miserable they do not want people with them who are going to cheer them up. When people are miserable they do not want people with them who will be truthful with them. They want people with them who will agree with them and make them feel better in their misery.

The trustiest sign of this is when we are offended. We do not want people around us who will help us see the truth of our own actions. We want people around us that will agree with our justification. It makes us feel better. It gives us a safe place to hide in the midst of our unhealthiness.

4. Easily Offended

If you are easily offended then you are a prime suspect for someone with an unhealthy soul. Offense will happen to us all. There is no doubt about that. What differentiates someone from health and unhealthiness is the ease by which an individual is offended.

Health individuals do not give into emotionalism. They are not led by it. They are lead by what is right. They are lead by the principal of the situation. Unhealthy people are controlled by their feelings. They are lead by what they perceived to be right and fair.  This can be dangerous because what we feel to be “right” and “fair” can come from a damaged soul. My advice is to listen to what the Bible says about what is right. The Bible is never swayed by emotionalism.

If someone takes something very personally, easily and often, then it is a sign of unhealthiness. An offense is an annoyance or resentment brought about by a perceived insult to or disregard for oneself or one’s standards or principles (dictionary.com). It revolves around what is perceived. If I am someone who has a lot of unhealed hurts then my perception will revolve around that. I will see my world through the eyes of hurt. Thus, opening myself up to easier and greater resentment against others.

5.  Healthy people don’t have time for drama while unhealthy people live in it

Unhealthy people seem to be drama magnets. It may be because misery loves company or it may be that they cause it themselves. Either way unhealthy people seem to continually be at the center of drama.

Drama can be defined as a way of relating to the world in which a person consistently overreacts to or greatly exaggerates the importance of benign events. Typically “drama” is used by people who are chronically bored or those who seek attention (urbandiction.com). I would also include those who are emotionally and mentally unhealthy as well.

People who engage in “drama” will usually attempt to drag other people into their dramatic state, as a way of gaining attention, acting out their brokenness, or making their own lives more exciting.

6.  Unhealthy people believe themselves to be healthy and will often refuse to admit that they need help 

There is a lot that we do to convince ourselves that we are healthier then we really are. We try to live in some sort of reality that allows us to believe that we are right and everyone around us is wrong. This can be a challenge especially when we are confronted with something that we do no want to hear. Many times we ignore it, ignore the person, or leave the situation in hopes that it will just vanish.

Then we debate with ourselves and others about the level of our health. We tell others that we are very healthy. We tell ourselves that we are very healthy. The entire time was we are really doing is trying to convince ourselves of this instead of facing the issue and dealing with the problem.

What if an unhealthy person is a person full of pride. Now you have a person who is either in true denial of their plight or they are so sure that their unhealthiness isn’t an issue and that everyone around them is the problem. Either way it is a challenge and a true mark of an unhealthy individual.

We think, “so what if we have unhealthy tendencies.” The only time they become an issue is when we are not actively admitting them, taking ownership of them, and actively doing doing to try to change them. One of the saddest sights is someone who is clearly unhealthy, and everyone around them knows it, but they refuse to acknowledge it or even do anything to change it. One of the other saddest things to me is someone who acknowledges their unhealthiness, wants to get help, but never actually does anything further then just acknowledge it.

7.  People would rather talk about people then engage or confront them 

This my friends is called passive aggressiveness. I am going to do a whole post about passive aggressive behavior, but I want to make you aware that this is another mark of unhealthiness.

You have people that are talking to everyone else about the issue. Everyone but you. They will talk and talk about this person, their issues, their wrongs, and their ways. They will go so far as to ensure that they themselves are not talked about even though they have no problem talking about another person. Then in the midst of all this mess they never actually talk to the person about the issue.

In the midst of this mark nothing is ever solved or resolved. All that is accomplished is the knowledge that there are many people who are too scared to actually deal with the real issues.

Maturity and health tell us that if I have a problem with a person I go to the person and talk about it to them. Unhealthiness tells us that if I have a problem with a person then I can talk about them and hope the issue is handled by someone else, but never actually deal with the issue.

These marks are by no means the only marks, but they are prominent ones. Read them. Pray about them. Confront them. Don’t blame others for them. Absorb them. Then continue your journey towards health!

Be Blessed!!!

Are you emotionally mature?

Let’s be real. We all have unhealthiness being harbored inside our souls. We all have ways in which we react to certain situations. Some are positive, but many of our reactions are negative.

We have way to much baggage in our lives. Hurt that have never been worked through. Bitterness and unforgiveness that has haunted us for years. Needs that have gone unmet. We are a walking bag of messed up. The quicker we come to grips with this the quicker we can start to heal from it.

In my research and study time I wanted to determine some markers that differentiate between healthy and unhealthy emotions. The following is the fruit of that research. Some of the following is from the Psychological Society studies. Some of the following is my own experiences. All of the following has been prayed about and thought through from a Biblical world view.

Take a moment and read them then ask the tough questions. You will notice that in some situations you respond in very healthy way. You will also notice that in many other situations you can be very unhealthy.

The importance? The greater level of emotional unhealthiness I walk in the great the chances are that I will sabotage my relationships and my potential. Think about emotional healhy as a lid to a jar. If the lid is off you can fill it up until it overflows. If the lid is on it can never overflow. It will also never be able to be filled up with anything else as well.

Emotional unhealthiness is a lid that is put on your life. When we do not work through our emotional baggage. We put a lid on ourselves. The contents of our potential are stuck in the bottle. Plus, we can never truly receive anything new. The Bible tells me that I am suppose to be overflowing with blessing, love, and the such. A Lid prevents that. Time to remove the lid.

Mature Emotions: 

▪The intensity of mature emotions are appropriate to the situation. In everyday situations, it’s usually mild discomfort,        like a warning.

Mature emotions motivate us and give us energy for appropriate action, such as defending our boundaries and    integrity.

▪We usually have no problem expressing mature emotions . Those parts of us were able to mature because they could be recognized and expressed within our families. We might feel problems and tension, though, if our mature emotions  are mixed with unhealthy feelings and guilt. This is most common, since many people learn at an early age to feel guilty if they express their feelings sincerely.

Mature emotions  do not leave behind tension and discomfort left once the situation is resolved.

Mature emotions  allow us to perceive both sides of the story.

Mature emotions do not make us feel humiliated or bad about ourselves, nor do we feel a need to humiliate or hurt others.

Immature Emotions:

          ▪ Immature emotions are either overly intense or suppressed.

          ▪ Immature emotions are followed by an inner conflict, usually between guilt and shame on one side, and anger on the other, accompanied by unpleasant bodily sensations. This conflict can persist long after the unpleasant situation is over. Even if you are objectively right, such emotions can show you that there is a part of you that either is frightened or feels guilty. Some childish emotions can feel good temporarily, but the inner conflict remains.

         ▪ Immature emotions sap your energy and, if prolonged, result in stress and fatigue.

         ▪ Immature emotions convince you that you are primarily right, and the other person primarily wrong. (Sometimes it is the other way around, although that is more common with children or extremely abused people.)

         ▪ Immature emotions make you feel uncomfortable and doubt yourself, which may motivate you to criticize and find even more faults in other people.

After reading these I was able to pinpoint some of the immature (unhealthy) emotions in my own life. That alone is huge. Most people who are immature or unhealthy in their emotions tend to live in a false sense of reality. A reality created to help them cope with their emotions.  A reality that is based on their perceptions as seen through the eyes of their hurt and experiences.

It is not a question of right or wrong. It is a question or health or unhealthiness. If we desire to be healthy then we must dedicate ourselves to removing all that is unhealthy. Part of removing all that is unhealthy is taking an honest look at ourselves. That alone can be one of the most painful experiences. Taking an honest and objective look at ourselves is aboutcoming face to face with the possibility that we are really messed up people emotionally. Don’t be afraid though.  Coming face to face with the truth will ultimately lead to being the most  freeing experience of your life.

What is revealed can be confronted and healed. In other words, what I can see I can deal with. What I can deal with can be placed on a process towards health. Once placed on the process, journey toward health it is only a matter of time before I start becoming healthy. The goal is healthy. The mission is health.  Start the mission by confronting the ugly truth. The truth is we are messed up people needing to become healthy.

Jesus  took care of the SIN problem. The SIN problem is our proclivity to do things that  disobey and dishonor God. Through His death and resurrection we can have life. Also, Jesus set us on a path towards health. He is bringing our spirits back to a place to health. Now He wants to bring your souls, emotions, and minds to come to the same place of health. Start the journey! Push towards the prize! Complete the mission!

Take some time to pray and reflect through your emotional health. Allow God to speak to you. He will direct you to what needs to start to change. In this we can operate at high levels of emotional health.

Be Blessed!!

Things that I have learned about making marriages last

May marked the 11th year that I have been married, and the 15th year that my wife and I have been together.

Our anniversary was amazing. We have not always had money (this year was no different), but the Lord has always given us the ability to enjoy time with one another.

I love my wife. I love her with all my heart. She has been by my side through all the challenges and the victories. She has been the shining light in many of my darkest moments. Jesus has been ever so kind when he put us together.

When we first met I did not have her best interest at heart. Let’s just says that I was not the person you’d bring home to momma. I had been through a lot of things in life, and I was very damaged when I met my wife. Emotionally, I was long gone. I didn’t want a wife. I didn’t want a family. I didn’t even want a long term girlfriend. All I wanted was an excuse to party with no attachment. Definitely not the person you’d bring home to momma.

She was (and is) stunning. The way she carried herself. The way God connected us. The way we interacted. The chemistry we had. Her beauty (inside and out) captivated me. I had been given a gift with her love.

After 15 years I have reflected on many things. Things that I have come to believe is what held two broken people together for so long.


#1 The commitment has to be stronger then the feelings.

Feelings wear off. Feelings lie. Feelings mislead. Commitment is correct. Commitment is straightforward. Commitment is always stronger then your feelings. Long after the feelings are gone the commitment is what remains.

Love is a commitment. It gets you through the toughest of times. It pushes you beyond pain. It makes you do the right thing even though you don’t “feel” like it. It allows you to forgive when you really don’t want to forgive. It helps you wake up in the morning with a confidence that the person besides you is the one that is building a life with you as well.

Don’t get me wrong! You have to feel things as well. I would hate sex if it was only a product of reproduction. There needs to be romance and giddiness in the relationship. There needs to be sensuous touch and loving embraces. Gary Chapman’s “The 5 love languages” have been instrumental in cultivating and keeping romantic love alive.

When I married her I told her I would never leave her. No matter what happened. I would never leave. I have stuck by those words. Even when I was ready to throw in the towel I stood by my vow. I would never leave her. Those words were tested numerous times, but I have always stayed. My commitment was always stronger then what I felt.

#2 You have to remove the quit option

If you can threaten each other with divorce then save yourself time and hurt and go through with it. I know that sounds shocking coming from a pastor. You have to hear me out though. I have seen countless couples threaten each other with divorce. As if that was the ultimate bargaining chip. I will divorce you if you don’t….

Couples, who are hurting, use this as a way to bully and threaten each other into getting what they want. If you can quit then do it. As long as the option is on the table then at some point one of you will take it.

Having the option to quit reminds me of stories that I have heard about Navy Seal training. Most everyone knows what a navy seal is. The elite navy forces unit. Each navy seal recruit has to go through a rigorous test to join, go through weeks of some of the hardest training on the planet, and then go through “Hell Week.” During hell week they go through the most tortuous experiences in order to transform them into soldiers. Throughout Hell Week instructors continually remind candidates that they can “Drop-On-Request” (DOR) any time they feel they can’t go on by simply ringing a shiny brass bell that hangs prominently within the camp for all to see. No one will ridicule them, question them, or comment. When they ring the bell they are given a meal and a trip home.

This bell stares them in the face at all times. The option to quit continually hangs in front of them. Tempting them to give up. 1000s of people enter training at one time. Only 200 people complete it. The issue is the quit options. When they ring the bell something mental happens. It creates a mental block that tells them they can and will never accomplish this task.

When you and I have an option to quit it becomes incredibly more difficult to
accomplish what you walked away from. This ruins any chance of fixing what could
have been fixed in your relationship.

You can quit your marriage, your job, your life, and your faith. We have it deep down
inside of us. If I don’t like it then I can do something different. Doesn’t matter what
God is saying, because we believe if it gets tough it must not be God. Have you read
the Bible?

Word of warning though: If there is abuse present in the relationship then get out of it.
No one should ever be abused for any reason.

#3 Determine what is right and not who is right.

My pride says I am always right. My dislike for conflict says she is always right. The truth is that the relationship is not about who is right it is about what it what. Over the years I have had to remember this principal.

It is so easy to fight about being right. Being right doesn’t matter. It fuels my ego and pride. So what if she gives in or conceded the fight. That doesn’t automatically make me feel good.
We must always stick to what is right. This is defined in the Bible. Love and being loving is always right. Where my previous actions towards my spouse loving? It doesn’t matter if my actions were justified. I can justify just about anything I want. Where my actions loving? Were they edifying and encouraging? This doesn’t mean we ignore issues or the problem. This simple means I do not have to fight about them.

#4 Learn to forgive… Often

There is not a lot I can say about this one that isn’t already explained in the heading. We have all been guilty of holding things against others. We have all been guilting has keeping records of wrongs. We have all been guilting of being unloving. We are all broken messes.

Part of saying I do is saying yes to my spouses issues, challenges, and shortcomings. What did you think they were going to go away when you married? Ha! Often times we get worse as we grow comfortable.

We have to learn to forgive and do it often. God holds no record of wrong towards me. Who am I to hold a record of wrong against my spouse?

What is done is done. Forgive. Learn from what happened so that you never go that way again.

The worst thing we can do is move forward while holding onto offense.

#5 Death do us part…. For better of for worse… Take them seriously

These weren’t suggestions. In the seasons of your marriage you will have summertimes and wintertimes. Times when everything is light and fun and times when everything is dark and hard. You will have times were you are so in love and times when you don’t even like the person you married anymore. It happens to everyone. Especially those who have never dealt with their previous issues before they entered into their current marriage.

The truth is simple. I married my wife knowing that there were going to be troubled spots. We both came from rough beginnings. I married her anyway. She would share the same sentiment. When things in our life became very dark we stood by each other. When it seemed as if life gave up on us we never gave up on each other.

Marriage is a commitment. Marriage is a covenant. It is not something you do it is part of who you are. Always take your vows seriously. If you do not remember them look them up. Remember that you gave your life to one another until the day one of your die.

#6 Jesus

I put this last for a specific reason. Jesus is the most important person in your relationship. If you are not cultivating a relationship with Him then your relationship with each other will fall apart. Jesus has been, is, and will always be the glue that keeps us together!

Nothing is impossible with God. There is no marriage that will fail with Him. There is no darkness that you cannot recover from because of Him. There is no life in your marriage without Him. Make Him the priority and you will have a strong and healthy marriage!

Until next we meet! Keep growing!

Be Blessed!

How to know that God is in something?

We all struggle with a few simple questions. How do I know God is in something? How do I know what I am doing is in line with what God has called me to do? How do I know that what I am seeing in others is from God or not?

Let me answer it with a lesson in gardening. Let’s imagine that I give you a mango seed and asked you to plant it in the ground. What would it produce? Would it produce an orange tree? Would it produce an apple tree? Would it produce a lemon tree? The answer is no!! A mango seed will produce an mango tree. The seed you use will produce the fruit of that seed.

So what is the point? I am not sure you know this, but did you know that the Bible talks about bearing fruit? As a matter of fact it speaks a lot about bearing fruit. I find it fascinating that God used a simple illustration to talk about such a powerful principle. It is important that we become fruit bearers and fruit watchers. We all must bear fruit! That is a nonnegotiable. However, we must always be fruit watchers. Only then can we truly see where God is working. Remember, God is a God who works from the inside out. Everything we see on the surface is a production of what has been growing underneath. If we learn to watch for fruit then we will have a greater understanding of God’s participation.

Understanding the Biblical concept of bearing fruit is extremely important if we are going to determine if something is from God or not. If God is in it then it will produce good fruit. If God isn’t in it then it will not produce anything good.

The illustration God uses really hits home when you think about it. Everything that the mango tree will become is found inside the seed that is planted. Everything we do in life, godly or not, is produced from the seeds that were planted in our hearts (mark 4). We can truly tell if something is from God or not when we start seeing what is produced in our lives.

I have heard it said. That hindsight is 20/20. Meaning, we can always see what we have done with clarity. The implication is that going into situation we have to tread lightly, because we often do not see very clearly when we move forward.

So what is godly fruit?

The concept of fruit is a term that Christians use all the time. I am not so sure people understand what they are really saying. If you have been a Christian for 30 years then it may be assumed that the individual may know something. However, there are a lot of younger Christians who have no idea what is being talked about. So let me explain.

The principle of fruit bearing can be summed up in a sentence. Fruit is someone’s outward action that is a direct result from the condition of the Heart!!! Meaning that you will start doing things as a direct result of how God is changing your heart. The opposite can be true as well. You will start doing things as a direct result of our sinful desires and nature. It all depends on what was put in the soil (heart).

We need to distinguish the right kind of fruit and the wrong kind: 

The Right Kind:

The primary fruit we are to produce is love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control (Gal 5:22-23). This kind of fruit will be evidenced in our Character. Then there is holiness which is evidenced in the way we act (Rom 6:22). God produces righteousness which is evidenced in our contentment (Heb 12:11). Then there is the fruit of our lips as evident in our conversation (Heb 13:15). There is the fruit of our hands as evident in our service to God (Prov. 31:16 & 31. 1 Cor. 3:10 & 14).

The Wrong Kind:

Now the fruits of the flesh are evident in what we do and say. If we have sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these (Galatians 5) in our lives then it is not of God. The Bible also tells us that we must get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language (Col 3:8). I would also like to add something to this list. Anything that we do or say that takes the attention off Jesus and places it on us is the wrong kind of fruit.

Let’s step into the practical application of this principle: 

Let me first says that “no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, (Luke 6:43). Meaning, that good trees will bear good fruit while bad trees will produce bad fruit. Let me translate. If you haven’t allowed God to work on your heart then the soil is still bad. If the soil of your heart is bad then it will produce bad fruit. If you have allowed God to work in your heart then you will bear good fruit.

Do the actions of individuals demonstrate the evidence of godly fruit?

Matthew 7:16 says, “You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?”

The Bible tells us to have discernment. Discernment is the ability to judge people according to the Biblical standard to determine where they are from. We need to get past the whole, “Don’t judge me” thing. If we are living a life according to God then we can be judged and shown approved. However, we are not judging people we are judging their actions. Actions and words are always an indication of what is truly in our hearts.

If someone speaks ill of someone then it is evidence of ungodly fruit. If someone is overly critical, judgmental, or seeks to tear down another it is evidence of ungodly fruit. If someone is playing the victim, and everything is always some else’s fault  it is evidence of ungodly fruit. If someone is trying to win people to their side, and not point them to Jesus, it is evidence of ungodly fruit. If someone is trying to manipulate people and the situation in their favor  it is evidence of ungodly fruit. Do you get the point? If we see these coming from a person then we can know that they have not allowed God to truly work on their heart.

So truly we can judge a persons actions and see if they have allowed God to work on their hearts or not. I cannot stress the importance of this. Because you and I can so easily be swayed by people we must always be watching to see if that influence is godly or not.

Does the situation show the evidence of godly fruit?

Judging if God is in the situation or not can be a little more difficult. With people we can quickly see where the person’s heart is. However, with situations we need to look at both the immediate and the longterm.

General thought about situations: 

We cannot automatically rule out a bad situation as a bad thing. People like to automatically assume that a bad situation is happening because God is not in it. I want to give you another thought here. If we believe that God works all things around for the good of those who love Him then we can safely say that man a bad situation can produce godly fruit. We can also says that many bad situations can also produce ungodly fruit.

The difference is Jesus. If we allow Jesus to fill our hearts in the process then it can turn something bad into something good. If this happens then godly fruit will be produced.

We can be fighting with our spouse and God use that situation to show us our own brokenness. If we allow God to use that He could produce forgiveness and love. We can walk into a time of terrible finances and God use that to reveal our spoiled attitudes and greedy hearts. If we allowed God to show us this He could change our hearts and produce a heart of generosity. Any situation can be used by God for good. If we allow Him access to do His work.

Take the same situations as above. If we are fighting with our spouse and God wasn’t allowed in. Well, instead of God filling the void we could potentially become bitter, selfish, angry, untrusting, and unforgiving. The same goes with our finances. We become untrusting and overly attached to whatever money we had left. God can change any situation into something good if we allow Him access. If we don’t allow Him access to our hearts the consequences can be dire.

Does the situation produce fruit?

How many times have you or someone you know planted a fruit tree in anticipation of harvesting fresh, juicy tree-ripe fruit in your own backyard? Probably more times than you care to count. Home fruit production can be both rewarding and troublesome. One of the most common questions is why trees fail to bear fruit or only have fruit every other year.

One reason is that the tree wasn’t focused on producing fruit. The tree was focused on growing wood and roots. Lack of focus caused a lack of production.

Let’s apply that to our situation. 

When a situation is not producing fruit we have to face the facts. That the situation was not focused on producing fruit. You may be thinking that you were trying to get the situation stable enough. You may have been trying to hold everything together, but if we look hard enough we focused on our own agenda and not on Jesus.

When we focus on our own agenda godly fruit will never be birthed from a situation. I also find, painfully, that when I am focused on the situation that my heart fills up with the situation leaving no room for Jesus. It is painful to even write these words, but they are truth.

Remember short term emotion is not the same as long term fruit. 

When making decisions to follow after God and remove things in your life that doesn’t produce fruit it can be very painful. People’s hearts can be damage. Emotions can run high. Loyalty to the situation, or the people, can run deeper then what they are hearing God say.

When pruning happens (removing an unproductive vine) it is never easy. It is never optimal in the short term. It seems like you have made the wrong decision. It feels like you have lost our own heart. Honestly, the greatest battles you will face is the battle with yourself. keep pressing forward.

Short term emotion, no matter how chaotic it seems, is not an indicator that God is in it or not. Not everyone will have peace with the situational change. Not everyone will agree. Not everyone will be onboard. Emotions will run high. That is not evidence that God isn’t in it.

Long term fruit is produced as we weather the storms, cultivate the fruit that is producing, and be patient enough to watch God work. Remember, it takes a while for healthy fruit to be produced. The evidence that God is in something is not found on the initial commitment, but in what it produces. For that you will have to wait and see…..

God is all about the pruning. Why? So you can bear much fruit!

We don’t want to get in front of him and tell him all the great things we have done for Him to look at us and say, “I never knew you.” The evidence of relationship and a godly walk is found in the fruit that is produced in your life.

Jesus once said, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing (John 15).”

Be Blessed! Fight the good fight!!