A Temple, A Teacher and A Treasure (Designed: Physical)

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“Your body listens to everything your mind says.”

On first impression our physical self seems pretty self explanatory. However, it actually is more inclusive and complex then one might initially think. So what does the physical part include? 1.) our bodies 2.) our physical needs and desires 3.) our senses that shape our experiences 4.) our physical sensations, and lastly 5.) our actions. Along with these various aspects we also have specific rights and responsibilities in relation to ourselves and others. Our bodies are designed as temples, that inform our thoughts, teach others about who we are, and are the treasure through which God works. Lets examine the wonderfully designed physical self that God has given to us, and our rights and responsibilities that go along with it.

1.) BODY. Your body is miraculously designed. It is your most distinguishing feature. Most people will recognize you by your physical appearance. We all struggle with aspects that we dislike about our appearances. Still your appearance is part of what makes you uniquely you and therefore it is something to celebrate. Your body is the most basic way in which you set boundaries. You have the right to decide who will be allowed to touch you and how you will allow them to touch you. You also have a responsibility to provide for and care for your body. This includes sleeping, eating, exercising, setting limits, personal hygiene, maintaining health care and healthy routines.

2.) NEEDS. Your physical needs are the things you need to survive and include things such as; food, sleep, air and water, without these things you will die. Those physical needs can be expanded to include things such as touch, communication, attention, clothing and shelter, while you may be able to live for a while without these thing you will surely need them eventually. You have the responsibility to get these needs met and to help meet these needs for others who are in your care. Remember is that it is not bad that you have needs! It is part of being human. You have a right to ask others to help meet your needs. Seeking to get your needs met in appropriate ways is how you are designed by God to function. We are designed to be in relationship. It is not a flaw! Our needs give us an opportunity to move toward growth and affords a reason to develop relationships with other people.

3.) SENSES. Our senses include sight, sound, touch, taste, smell, and hearing. These senses work together to help us gather information about the world around us. They alert us to things that may be dangerous, such as touching a hot stove, we would feel the pain and remove our hand. They also alert us to things that are pleasing, such as the taste of cold ice cream on a hot day. Our senses contribute to our individual likes and dislike of an experience. This makes our individual interpretation of an experience uniquely our own. For example we can both go to a symphony or a heavy metal concert and hear the same thing, but one of us love it and the other hate it. Simply because we have differing opinions on the experience doesn’t mean one of us is right and the other wrong. We have the right to our own unique opinions and experiences as well as the responsibility to express them respectfully. It is part of what defines each of us as an individual.

4.) SENSATIONS. Sensations are those things we feel physically within our bodies. For example before a job interview you might feel your heart racing. Other examples would be the feeling of physical pain in your chest as you grieve a loss, extra energy as you begin a dating relationship, or a tense neck and shoulders when you are under stress. These sensations are a physical manifestation of your emotional state and provide valuable information for you regarding your surroundings. If you are a person who has suffered abuse or trauma, it is possible that you will misuse or ignore these cues. For example, if you suffer from prolonged abuse, you may choose to ignore the uneasy feelings you get in your stomach when you’re around a certain individual so that you can continue to maintain a relationship with them. Or if you were the victim of a sudden traumatic event you may have escalated responses to anything that triggers memories of that event. You have a right to experience all your sensations with acceptance. There does not need to be a reason that you can specifically pinpoint for feeling uncomfortable around someone. Perhaps your body remembers things that are similar to people and situations that your mind can’t recall and is alerting you through sensations. We have the responsibility to pay attention to our sensations and respond appropriately by incorporating facts and emotions to determine specific actions.

5.) ACTIONS. Actions are what you choose to do with your body and words. You are always responsible for your own actions just like other people are solely responsible for their own actions. What you choose to do, or not to do, will almost always have an impact on others. Sometimes things will not be your fault, but you will still have the responsibility to fix them. For example if someone were to push you and cause you to fall and break your leg, that would not be your fault. Still it would be your responsibility to seek medical treatment and follow the treatment plan in order for your leg to heal. You have a right to set and enforce boundaries for through your actions, and the responsibility to take ownership of your actions.

DEVOTION:

My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
(Psalm 139:15‭-‬16 NIV)

As I think about this verse I am struck anew by the thought “all my days were written in your book before one of them came to be”. So that means all of them! God knew my good days and bad days. He knew the days I would be victorious in my trials and the days I’d fail miserably and fall into sin. He knew every single moment I would have and exactly what I would choose. Still he chooses to love me. Not only does he know them, he uses them for good. That truth is true for you as well. There is nothing you have done or can ever do that excludes you from his love and plans for you. Also there is nothing anyone can do to you that will thwart his plan for your life. In fact God says in his word, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” {Romans 8:28) and “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you well carry it on to completion until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Phillippians 1:6) So, are you struggling with a past that haunts you? Or perhaps you are currently under the weight of a bondage that seems to powerful to break? Maybe you’re trapped in a situation that seems hopeless. What you are doing, what you’ve done, and what has been done to you are not the defining or limiting factors in God’s plan for your life. While you have rights and responsibilities you can rest in the confidence that God still has you and is able to work his purposes.

SCRIPTURE MEDITATION:

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God-this is your true and proper worship. (Romans 12:1)

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. (Deuteronomy 6:5)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for creating me in such a way that I can experience the world that you have created. Thank you for all the marvelous sights, sounds, tastes, and smells that you have made for me to enjoy. Thank you for setting a rhythm to my days and night, for offering me times of activity and times of rest. I have to confess that sometimes when I think of my body I am very critical. I am not always pleased with my appearance and I often neglect to take care of myself the way I should. I also confess that I do and say things that I am not proud of, things that I know would be displeasing to you and hurtful to others. Thank you for not holding me to any standard of perfection in my appearance or in my actions. Help me to fix messes that I have created. Teach me to handle my rights and responsibilities in this area in ways that are pleasing to you. I ask for the spiritual gifts of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control so that I can learn to implement them in my own life, and demonstrate them to others.

Amen.

REFLECTIONS: Are you treating your body as a temple? What would you need to do to honor God with your body? Are you getting your physical needs met? Are you setting appropriate boundaries with your body, words, and actions? Are you maintaining healthy, balanced routines? What are some areas that you are strong in? What are some things you need to work on? Is there a specific area that you feel God is speaking to you about regarding the physical part of you? Journal your answers.

ACTIVITY OPTIONS: 1.) Think about your daily routines. Consider ways to bring things back into balance. Choose one item from your list to implement and track. 2.) Consider if you are getting all your physical needs met. If they are not being met, make and implement a plan to ask someone to help meet your physical needs. Journal the result. 3.) Practice mindfulness. Take 5 minutes each day to sit, still and quiet. Take notice of the environment around you with all your senses. What do you see, hear, smell, taste, and feel? Try to stay focused in that moment with no distractions. 4.) Find a quiet place to lay flat and still. Take a couple moments to calm your body. Focus on the inner sensations in your body starting with your head, neck and shoulders and moving systematically body parts down to your toes. Focus specifically on each area how it feels in the moment, then trying to relax each body part. 5.) Think about some of your current actions. Journal a time when you someone else was at fault at it was your responsibility to fix it. Now ponder things that are currently happening in your life. How is God asking you to respond in this situation? Journal your response.

Forgiving Myself

FB_IMG_1519095987421Have you ever done something that you really were ashamed of?  Something that you thought if others knew what you did they would no longer love or respect you?  Maybe you struggle with an addiction, maybe it was an affair, or possibly it is the angry outbursts at the people you love.  What ever it was or is it makes you feel like a fraud. It has you trapped under a load of guilt and shame that feels inescapable and makes you want to hide.  The truth is we have all done things that we are ashamed of, things that need forgiveness.  Often we need the forgiveness of others, but even more often we need to learn to forgive ourselves.  Here is how you can be set free from the bondage of shame and guilt through forgiveness.

Step 1: Acknowledge what you did that was wrong.   Admit it was wrong, define how and why it was wrong.  At first glance, this might seem like a great way to make yourself feel even worse about what you did, but the truth is that you can only heal from what you can acknowledge.  You have to admit that you were wrong and know what it was that you did wrong and why it was wrong.

Step 2:  Acknowledge how your actions negatively affected you and others.  Every action has a consequence, and typically the consequence affects more than the one person who committed the offense.  First look at what the offense did to you.  How did it make you feel?  How did it make you think of yourself?  What are some of the consequences you will have to face?  Next think about how it affected the other person.  How might they have felt?  What might they have thought?  How did your actions hurt them?  What consequences do they have to face because of what you did?

Step 3:  Consider what you can do better next time.  Have a plan of how you want to respond if you are in that situation again.  Think about how you want to act, what you wish you would’ve done differently.  Develop a plan for the next time that will reflect the desire of your heart to behave better.  Consider what triggered you to behave or react in the manner that you did.  Were they internal or external factors?  For example; what were the things you believed about yourself, the other person, or the circumstance?  Was it something that tempted or triggered you?  What were you hoping to accomplish with your actions? How could that have been better accomplished?  What can you change so that things will go better next time?  Write out your plan.

As you work through this step you may find yourself stumped or blaming the other person for your actions.  Or you may discover that the you need help to thoroughly address the issues that led to the offense.  Do not let either of those things discourage you.  Seek out help in the advise of a trusted friend or counselor to work through this step if you need to.  It may take awhile to completely work through this step.  In the mean time simply do your best and make it part of your “plan”.   For instance, “one thing I will do so that I can handle things better next time is pursue counseling so I can figure out how I got myself in this mess”.  Then simply move on to step 4.

Step 4:  Consider what you can do to make it right.  How can you make restitution for what you did wrong?  It will not change the past, what you did still happened, and the damage remains.  But is there anything on your end you can do to try to make things right?  For example if you stole money from someone you can repay what you stole and add interest.  If you broke something you can offer to replace it.  Restitution does not erase what you did wrong, but it may help to set things straight and shows that your hearts desire is to make things right.

Step 5: Confess to God. The whole purpose of the gospel is to proclaim the good news that we are loved and that we can be forgiven from our sins.  A pastor I know used to say “1John 1:9 is the greatest mental health verse in the bible”.  It states that “if we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness”.  What that means is that if you, no matter what you have done, if you confess your sins you are 100% forgiven!  The bible says that your sins are removed from you as far as the “east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12), that you are made clean and holy in the sight of God.  Why is this so important?  Because if a perfect and holy God is not going to hold your past against you then you do not need to hold  your past against yourself.  You are free to forgive yourself and move forward.  Here is an example of what to pray:

“Lord Jesus, I admit that I was wrong when I (insert specifically what you did wrong).  I believe that you died to pay the price for all my sins past, present and future.  I admit that I need your forgiveness and love.  Help me to follow you, and to do what you would have me do.  I accept your payment for my sin and your forgiveness.  Amen.”

Step 6:  Confess to the person you wronged.  This is a very difficult step.  It can be extremely hard to go to someone you hurt and admit you were wrong.  Honestly, they may also have some fault in the matter, but it is not up to you to bring that up to them in this process.  This is about you admitting your faults and seeking forgiveness.  Your confession can be written or in person, but you may find it helpful to write it out first and practice what you want to say so you don’t get side tracked and begin rattling off the list of reasons why you did what you did or all the things they did that were wrong.  Your confession should be specific.  Here is an example:

“(Name of person you wronged), I am sorry that I (specifically state what you did wrong).  I imagine that what I did caused you to feel or experience (state what consequences you think they may have experienced due to your offense).  In the future I want to do better.  (State how you would like to behave differently and your reasons for wanting to behave differently).  Will you please forgive me?”

The person may forgive you and you can together reconcile and decide how to move forward.  Or they may choose not to forgive you.  Even if they do not forgive you, you can still continue with the process of forgiving yourself!  The forgiveness of yourself is NOT contingent on them forgiving you. God has forgiven you, therefore you are forgiven.  Additionally, you are doing what you can to try to make things right in the relationship.  If they do not extend forgiveness, you can accept that, you can forgive them for that, and you can continue to move forward in the process.

Here are a couple of additional thoughts on confessing to the person.  In some cases it may not be possible to confess to the person who you wronged, perhaps they are not accepting communication from you or they have passed away.  In those cases you can symbolically confess through writing your confession in a letter and pretending to read it to them.  You can envision them accepting your apology and extending forgiveness.  You can also pray for an opportunity to confess to them in person in the future.  In other cases it may not be safe for you to confess directly to the person you wronged.  If personal safety is an issue you need to carefully assess the situation and take necessary precautions to keep yourself and others safe.

Step 7:  Offer to make restitution.  Here is where you can offer the ideas you thought of previously to do what you can to try to make things right.  You can also ask the other person if there is something they can think of that you can do to make it right.  If what they suggest is acceptable to you, then you can do what is suggested.  If what they suggest is demeaning, demoralizing, or something you are unable or uncomfortable doing then you do not need to do it.  The purpose of offering restitution is to show your hearts desire of wanting to make things better and reconcile the relationship through an outward gesture.  It is not to punish yourself nor is it to allow the other person to punish you.  If there is nothing that can be done, it does not nullify the forgiveness.  You are still forgiven and can still extend forgiveness to yourself.

Step 8:  Accept the consequences.  All actions have a consequence.  When we wrong someone there may be a consequence of distance in the relationship, new boundaries may need to be set or a lack of trust may have developed.  Or perhaps what you did will result in legal consequences that need to be faced, fines paid, and other restrictions being placed on you.  You can accept the consequences and continue to move forward.  While you are in this process it may be difficult to remember to be kind to yourself.  You are not defined by your past and the things you have done wrong.  It is important that you remind yourself that you are free from the negative labels that you have applied to yourself because of your actions. Speak kindly to yourself.  The consequences are only a result of what happened and will one day come to an end.  In the future you will make better choices and get better results.  You are still loved by God.  You still have value and a purpose.  You are still in a process of learning and growing.

Step 9:  Forgive yourself.  Release yourself from having your identity tied to your actions.  While your past has helped to make you who you are becoming it is not the definitive answer on who you are as a person.  From every mistake you have made you have learned.  You are growing in character and maturity.  It may be helpful to write this out and keep it to review as needed. I have included two options, one for Christians (A) and one for non-Christians(B).

A.) “I have acknowledged that I was wrong when I (insert offense).  I have done everything I can to set things right between (insert name of person) and myself.  I have confessed my offense to God and I have accepted his forgiveness.  I have determined to try to do better in the future.  There is nothing more I can do.  I will no longer beat myself up over this offense.  Because of what Jesus did on the cross I am released from the guilt and shame tied to this offense.  I have learned valuable lessons from my mistakes and I will hold on to those as I move forward. I choose to agree with God that I am forgiven from this offense and with His help I will continue to accept the truth and agree with God that I am loved by Him and that he has a plan for me.”

B.) “I have acknowledged that I was wrong when I (insert offense).  I have done everything I can to set things right between (insert name of person) and myself.  I have confessed my offense and tried to make things right.  I have determined to continue to try to do better in the future.  There is nothing more I can do.  I will no longer beat myself up over this offense.  I release myself from guilt and shame tied to this offense.  I have learned valuable lessons from my mistakes and I will hold on to those as I move forward.   I choose to forgive myself and I will accept the truth that I am loved and valuable.”

Step 10: Instate your plan.  You made a plan on how you can respond better or choose better, begin doing those things.  Envision yourself being the kind of person you want to be and work toward that goal.  Remember you are not perfect and this will not go perfectly, you are in process and it will take time to make these things become more natural and more of who you are.  Keep going, keep pressing forward, don’t let slip-ups stop you.  It doesn’t matter how many times you fall, just keep getting up and trying again.

Step 11:  Continue to remind yourself that you have done everything you can to make things right and that you are forgiven.  It is so easy to fall into the trap of shame and guilt, but it is not helpful to you or anyone else.  Continuously rehearing the shame and guilt will actually keep you trapped in the very behaviors you are trying to change and may create even more insecurities and issues.  Instead, remind yourself often that you are forgiven, you are loved, you are valuable and your are still in the process of learning and growing.  When you catch yourself wallowing in remorse or pity remind yourself that all of that is in the past and that you have decided to move forward.