Communication


One of the issues that survivors of abuse struggle with is trusting their own judgment and perceptions. This has been an especially difficult thing for me and is one that even now as I am doing really well I find I can still fall back into regularly. It is a larger issue for me because of the type of abuse I received and who abused me. I have listened to their words and taken them to heart causing me to feel that I am unacceptable and have a bad heart. It has taken a lot of work to get to the point to realize that I may have poor judgment and may not communicate my heart well, but that my heart and intentions are not corrupt and evil. Due to identity issues and insecurities I often find that when others around me question a decision I have made or actions I have taken I take their assessment and blow it up into something larger.

A few weeks ago I blogged about the condition of our heart and how important it is to look at our heart and what is going on there.  https://restoringtheheart.wordpress.com/2009/11/16/condition-of-the-heart/

Recently I was reading in my study bible and it discussed how we need to have hearts that are open to receive instruction, discipline, and guidance not only from God, but also from others. This world teaches us to be independent, to think for ourselves, to rely on our understanding. God’s word tells us to rely on him, to seek community, to listen to the counsel of others, and to give up our rights in submission to the Lord. Through Christ we find new life, a renewed mind, and a transformed character. However, we have to learn to walk in that. It is offered to us when we receive Christ as our Lord, but we have to accept it as our new way of life. The Israelites walked through the desert for years with God in their midst and they still struggled with this, so if you are still learning and struggling to live this way don’t beat yourself up about it. Just take a deep breath, repent of your lack of faith, and turn back to God.

Our judgment is shaped and renewed as we walk with God. The more we walk with him the more we learn the Lord’s ways and become like him in character. I am learning that my judgment may not be like Christ yet, but I am confident that today I am closer to Christ’s character than I was last month and definitely more like him than I was last year. Learn to trust your heart to the Lord, and he will give you a new heart. Then your judgment comes from his heart and not your heart so you will be like him in character and you can trust your judgment because it comes from him and not from you.

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Growing up my brother had a gorgeous cast metal chess set with the characters in the shape of great Italian sculptures. For example David was the king. I admired it regularly, but I never played it. The family I grew up in was pretty careful about the “chess game” they played. By that I am referring not to the actual game of chess, but to the way we walked relational conflict out.

I have recently been thinking about how relational conflict is like a game of chess. One person makes a move and the other person makes a counter move. The moves they make are directly in opposition to the other person because the goal is to win, to overtake, to take captive. Often when something goes wrong in a relationship we start playing chess. One person does something and the other person reacts instead of acts. They respond to what just happened as they are feeling confronted, defensive, frustrated, etc. What gets lost is where this all started. Somewhere in the past someone choose to pick up that first piece and start the game. Unfortunately it is a game with no winners!

I want to stop playing chess. I want to learn how to not react out of my emotions even when things are tense or difficult. I want to learn to look at the other person with a tender and loving heart and recognize they are a child of God (whether they are a believer or not they were still created by God and he would embrace them if they came to him). I want to learn to put down my weapons, my defenses, my pain…. to be vulnerable and open even if it means I am putting myself at jeopardy of further hurt. Ultimately what I am saying boils down to the condition of our hearts. If my heart is set on playing a game of chess and making counter moves toward my opponent instead of embracing my family in Christ and living in unity then all that will happen is destruction of myself, them, and Christ’s work. Oh how deeply I pray my heart can change.

2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. 25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 26″In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. 28 He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need. 29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.  (Eph 4:2-3, 17-18, 22-32)

I have been especially stuck in the above passage by verse 29. It says we are not to speak unwholesome talk. How we define that probably comes from our definition of what is unwholesome, but Paul continued on to describe that it includes speaking only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs. In other words, we have to be focused, alert, and aware of what their needs are before we even speak! Wow do I have a lot to learn!

Have any of you learned things that have helped you change your heart and perspectives in this way? It is a paradigm shift but one that is well worth the price!