Distractions

When I think about distractions from a Biblical context, stories like Peter’s feeble attempt to walk on water (Matthew 14:22-33) and Martha’s dinner mishap come to mind (Luke 10:38-42). Both reveal the importance of staying focused on God and trusting that through your attention to Him, all else will be accomplished. If we closely examine both characters, we find that they each had a specific concern that stole their attention away from God. Peter was worried about his safety and Martha was preoccupied with pleasing Jesus by preparing Him the perfect meal. What are you concerned with?

A few mornings ago, I woke up intent on beginning my meditation, prayer, Bible study, and journaling routine only to find that I couldn’t easily stream my music because our WiFi was glitching.  Annoyed, I located our router and attempted to solve the issue myself. After unplugging the connectivity cable, pressing all the buttons, and initiating an internal reset at no avail, I got comfortable on the floor, cringing at the thought that I’d probably spend the next thirty minutes to an hour on the phone with Comcast. Thirty minutes to an hour that I could be spending doing homework, folding clothes, or meal prepping for dinner. See what happened there? – suddenly my plan to meditate had evaporated and I was knee-deep in a task, all the while thinking about everything else I had to do afterward. DISTRACTIONS. Luckily, my Spidey sense began to tingle and I quickly realized what the devil was trying to do – steal my morning so he could steal my day!

It’s a shame that we have to do this y’all, but we gotta’ be on guard! 1 Peter 5:8 (NIV) says “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” That’s right, all throughout the day, he’s on creep mode in search of ways to catch you slippin’! But not to worry! – with a little vigilance and introspection, you’re capable of beating him at his own game. Below, I’ve come up with four questions you can ask yourself each time satan tries to grab your attention (which will happen in the form of something that distresses you) , to prevent yourself from becoming fully distracted.

  1. What’s bothering me? (in my case, the WiFi doesn’t work)
  2. What am I tempted to do because of it? (in my case, call Comcast)
  3. What would I be doing if I didn’t have to do this? (in my case, my morning routine of meditating, praying, reading the Bible, and journaling)
  4. Is what I would be doing something that the devil would be happy about me doing? Because he hates productivity and growth, the answer’s always NO!

Chances are, realizing you’re being manipulated by a pissant will make you change your tune and ignore the urge to become distracted r e a l  quick! If it doesn’t work the first time though, keep trying. Giving in to distraction can become a habit and habits take repeated effort to break.

Oh yeah, if you’re wondering what happened with our WiFi – I opted to do my routine before calling Comcast and by the time I got done, it had started working again on its own. See man

 

 

Like LeBron

I used to be loyal to a fault. But that was before I got sick of my life being full of people who drained me, places that didn’t cultivate me, and things that didn’t challenge me. Cutting the umbilical cords that kept me bound to spaces I’d be better off without was no easy feat though. People called me selfish and uncaring, assembled hate groups, and I heard the “but you call yourself a Christian” phrase so much it became more of a punchline to me than an insult. Nonetheless, I kept grasping at every knife, scissor, and razor blade in sight, determined to severe ties to any person, organization, or habit that honored me only when I ignored my needs.
During this time – with the world whispering in my ear and the devil taunting me in my head – my narrative was one of the most powerful tools I possessed. Now I work with clients who also find themselves pulled in multiple directions as they struggle to reconcile the expectations of their family and friends, the responsibilities assigned to them by home, work, and school, and the binge eating, self-mutilation, excessive spending, substance abuse, etc. they’ve developed as methods of coping with disappointing everyone around them all the while having no idea what their own inner voice sounds like.
Today’s devotional offers direction to people in transition – men and women still seeking other people’s permission to move forward, visionaries struggling to value (often invisible) promotion from God more than (tangible and societally pressuring) advancement from peers and supervisors, and overcomers slowly and secretly killing their futures in order to numb themselves from feeling the confusion, guilt, fear, and ironic zeal caused by adjustment.
Should you find yourself in this position (needing a little encouragement to trade your Cavs in for your Lakers), read on for three tips on how to navigate transition:
1) Refuse to play victim or bad guy. Try looking at your need to get “out of and away from” from the standpoint that you’ve outgrown the people, places, and things around you. This will make you feel less offended or guilty and change your narrative from being a story of defeatism to one of empowerment. “I was made to” and “I decided to” are a lot less liberating than “I had to.”
2) Redefine loyalty. When your loyalty is a liability, it’s no longer loyalty, it’s stupidity. Accept that you aren’t obligated to people just because they were once good to you, places because you once weren’t accepted anywhere else, or things just because they’ve become crutches you no longer know how to walk without. When you opt to remain loyal to unfruitfulness with hopes that it will one day reap harvest, you also commit to a life of infertility.
3) Demystify your decision making process. Stop justifying prolonging your stay with statements like “I prayed and will leave once God confirms that that’s what He wants” or I’ll go once the universe sends me a sign.” Waiting for direct revelation when you already know what to do is just passive disobedience.
Although this simplifies transitioning, it doesn’t make it any easier! For more help letting go and moving on, email me at dylesia@dylesiabarner.com

Picked Out = Picked On

Image result for picked out
Early in life, I was exposed to the hateful side of the world. By elementary school, I’d quit ballet at the racist academy I was being trained at. By middle school, I’d been in two physical altercations and the subject of dozens of malicious jokes for being smart, thin, and unattractive. Two characteristics of which I’ll own up to (*flips hair*). By high school, I’d been named public enemy number one by an adolescent female gang. And by college, I’d been raped, kidnapped, and outcasted.
Imaginably, processing my relational trauma as something that –  impacted me, but – was not a reflection of my character, worth, and future, rather my perpetrators’ was difficult. And the struggle persisted as I entered college, surrounded by new people and determined to make the most of the opportunity I’d been given to start over. My first few encounters were positive, convincing me that I wasn’t the issue. But, as the high energy and sociability of an incoming freshmen class slowly began to fade, I again became the target of jealousy and gossip. It didn’t help that my family had joined what we’d later discover was a Christian cult. Keeping it all together meant viewing each injustice as an isolated event instead of lumping everything together like the universe was personally attacking me, and encouraging myself that I’d one day be able to put it all behind me as I had my prior disappointments. Rationality and hope.
Even now, I still don’t have it easy socially. I have a wonderful husband, some supportive family, several awesome friends, and dozens of past and current clients who would swear by my goodness, but for each group of people who shower me with love and appreciation, there’s at least one person who doesn’t.
Today, I want to share with you my strategy for living with the fact that to some people, I’ll never be kind, beautiful, intelligent, amazing…or enough. 
The therapist in me wants to hear all the reasons you care about why the people who hate you hate you. But only so I can help you get to a place of not caring. See, I cared until I didn’t have any more care left to give. And guess what? Their hatred still remained endless. In fact, it intensified. Since they were no longer able to control me with my concern, they lay in wait for me to mess up, so they could magnify my faults and control me by ruining my reputation.
“When insecure people see you happy and unbothered, they feel inferior and will go to any length to stretch your small flaws to large ones, because they need to somehow legitimize their dislike for you by making you seem like a bad person.” -Detron Brown, PharmD, MPH
Unfortunately for them, I’d lived portions of my life with a good reputation and other portions with a horrible one, so social isolation was not a suitable means of controlling me either.
Through all this, I found that as kryptonite is to Superman, being kind, beautiful, intelligent, amazing and enough is to people who refuse to see you as kind, beautiful, intelligent, amazing and enough. Their decision to opt out of admitting how awesome you are is a tactic – to get you to stop being awesome…because then, you prove them right. By focusing on them and their opinions of you, you lessen the amount of energy you have to keep being the person they talked about and acted against in the first place. That’s why the key is to focus on you, your healing from their senseless assaults, and your life after recovery, instead of on them.
I’ve heard this a million times: “how others feel about you, think of you, and act toward you is their problem, not yours.” And despite how cliche it is, it’s true. A large part of healing from trauma involves shifting your narrative from a story of enslavement to one of empowerment. In other words, not getting so caught up living out someone else’s subjugating fantasy of you that you forget to actually live.
Realize, some people only dislike you because of the way other people respect you, some people only speak ill of you because of the way other people esteem you, and some people only mistreat you because of the way other people favor you. I know it doesn’t make sense, but…feelings aren’t science.

When you’re picked out, you have to become comfortable being picked on.

Passing Through

It’s so easy to get caught up in the culture of a community, a family, a social circle, a work team, etc. and forget that your ability to relate to other group members is temporary. While you’ll never forget where you come from, remembering where you’re going and behaving, communicating, and emoting accordingly is critical if you ever want to reach your next destination. Avoid getting caught up in petty patterns of using gossipy, woe is me statements to convey your frustration for your current circumstance. Venting is one thing, but sharing your observations and opinions as if where you’re at is where you’ll always be only further associates you with the place, making deliverance a more involved process because God doesn’t just have to move you, He has to purify AND move you. From here forward, live on the brink of your breakthrough by first recognizing that you’ve been anointed for ‘next’ even though you have yet to be appointed there. Secondly, walk in ‘next’ before it’s your reality, using your actions, attitude, and speech to force it into manifestation. Third, instead of being a member of the disgruntled group, be an inspiration, constantly reminding others that they too are just passing through, but how long they stay depends on how long they dwell.

You ARE Good

You aren’t a bad person; you are a person who happens to have the life those who call you a bad person desire, but instead of looking to you as a vision of hope and viewing all you have accomplished as inspiration, they have perverted your existence, blaming you for their failures and internal dissatisfaction. There is no cure for their misplaced criticism (no way they will ever welcome you) other than for them to either become honest with themselves about what life choices led them to where they are today or for you to abandon all you’ve prayed, sacrificed, and worked (mentally, spiritually, physically, and emotionally) for, becoming as miserable as they are.

Stand strong in the knowledge of your own character & personality, refusing to allow their emotional manipulation to lead you to ruminate whether or not you’re “good.”

You ARE good! – your presence just happens to be a reminder that they aren’t who or where God called them to be, and because they can’t handle that truth, they substitute the conviction they feel inside for rage toward you. Respond with too much sympathy and you will become moved to meet needs for them that God has not called you to meet, causing you to become trapped in their cycle of drama and distracted from your own peace & stability. Respond with complete rejection and you will also be rejecting God’s attempts to use you as a change agent. Balance is key! – respond with prayer, a willingness to (with boundaries) help them in times of duress, and a commitment to continue building a life worth desiring, recognizing that when God chooses to use you to inspire others, the devil will choose to use others to envy you.

You May Ask

“You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” (John 14:14)

Matthew 27:50-51 documents the yielding up of Jesus’ spirit at the completion of the Crucifixion and the subsequent tearing of the temple veil. Before it was torn, the veil served as an entity to separate the Holy of Holies (the earthly dwelling place of God’s presence) from the rest of the temple where men dwelt (Hebrews 9:1-9). Until Christ’s death, men were separated from God by sin (Isaiah 59:1-2) and only the high priest was permitted to pass beyond the veil once each year (Exodus 30:10; Hebrews 9:7) to enter God’s presence for all of Israel and make atonement for the people. The tearing of this partition at the moment of Jesus’ death proved that His blood was a sufficient sacrifice to cover the cost of sin forevermore and signified that the Holy of Holies was open for all people, for all time.

Thousands of years after Jesus’ death, many of us still carry on the tradition of the veil as we allow fear and misinformation to separate us from God. One way in particular that we fail to take advantage of the relationship with Him that Christ’s sacrifice afforded us is by being afraid to communicate our deepest desires to Him. We hold back, certain that Someone so great could care less about our trivial requests. This couldn’t be further from the truth! God delights in our unrestricted communion with Him and wishes we would have the courage to approach Him, with everything, without intimidation.

Today, let’s aim to become bolder communicators who don’t leave anything to fate, rather address EVERYTHING in prayer. We serve a God who we can ask for ANYTHING – Someone who has so much consideration for us that He will respond to even our most audacious requests with a “yes.”

“Yes”

“For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through Him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.” -2 Corinthians 1:20

Imagine a lifetime of being told “no” everywhere you went, only to become in sync with Someone whose response to you is always “yes.” Unbelievable, right?

 
Today’s Scripture reminds us that when we surrender to God, our desires transform into wants He could never reject because they align with His purpose for us!