Out From Under the Umbrella

playing in the rain


“No” is a Complete Sentence

NOI’ve written before about my relationship with a narcissist.  But I wanted to expand a bit more on my role in that – the doormat.  Doormats are magnets for narcissists.  Being walked all over is no fun and it can suck the life right out of you.

Do you have trouble saying “no” to people?  Even after you’ve said no, if pushed, do you have trouble sticking to your simple “no”?  Do you understand that “no” is a complete sentence?  Or do you feel compelled to offer an explanation of why you’ve said “no”?  Do you accept unacceptable behavior from others?  Do you get in a huff about “having” to do this or that but feel you must still perform the task?  Do you take on others’ problems only to become overwhelmed by them?

You don’t have healthy boundaries.  How do I know this?  Because I’ve gone most of my life without healthy boundaries myself and still have a bit of trouble setting them.  At least I’m aware of the problem now.  When I become angry, or feel guilty, or get my feelings hurt I’m painfully aware that it is usually my own fault.  Am I excusing the behavior of others?  No.  They are still responsible for their own behavior. But guess what?  So am I.

When we walk around with this martyr’s complex, feeling like we do all the work in relationships, and feeling exhausted by the weight of these relationships we are not exercising the power we have over the one thing we can control: ourselves.

I had a very hard time learning this simple lesson.  Yes, it is much harder to practice it than it is to preach it.  For me, anyway.  Especially when it involves those closest to me.  The fact of the matter is the word no is a complete sentence.  No explanation necessary.   I’ve begun putting this into to practice and little by little, each time I do it, it gets a little easier.

I’ve always been afraid that people wouldn’t like me anymore or that they wouldn’t ask me to do things in the future if I said no to them.  That’s actually a pretty irrational way of thinking.  If the only reason a person likes me is because I can do crap for them they don’t really like me anyway.  If I always so no then, yes, they might stop asking me to do things because most normal people get tired of one-sided relationships – not because I say no once or twice.   If I don’t reciprocate and ask others to do things they’d also get tired of a one-sided relationship.  But that doesn’t happen either.


Failure to Communicate

Hello? Is anyone there?! Hello?! Hello?!?CommunicationProblems

Everyone wants to hear a word from a god, don’t they?  I mean, come on, what good is a one-sided relationship?

In that spirit dutiful believers seek out how the Christian God might be speaking to them.  Most of us wouldn’t admit that we’ve heard from him audibly for fear that we’d be carted off in a straightjacket to a padded cell. We are skeptical when someone contends they’ve received a message from the ‘Almighty’ and rightly so. So what’s a person who wants to hear from the entity who supposedly created them to do?

Well, there’s an art to it, of course.  One must learn this skill.  I didn’t obtain my “salvation” and automatically think that I was hearing the still small voice of God voices in my head.  I hunted it down like a dog after a bone.

Through numerous Bible studies and time in prayer I learned how to hear the gentle whisper of God believe the voice in my head was God because, surely, if there is a God who wants to be my father – my friend – he would talk to me, wouldn’t he? In a desperate effort to hear that voice, to know God’s plan, and to have a relationship with an invisible entity I took the Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God Bible Study Course written by Henry Blackaby and Claude V. King.  It was awesome!  I really learned how to listen to God the voice in my head.

Here are the seven realities of experiencing the Christian God.

1. God is always at work around you.

It’s a given.  If God created this joint, and all the stuff on it and around it, he can’t be done.  He’s still working.  It’s obvious. So first things first; assume there is a God, it’s definitely the Christian God of the Bible, and he’s pulling the strings like Mister Geppetto.

2. God pursues a continuing love relationship with you that is real and personal.

Oh boy!  The same God who spoke all this into being wants to be in a relationship with me!  And he’s doing the pursuing.  Never mind that he’s invisible.  Never mind that I’m the one in hot pursuit. Never mind that I’m there by invitation of the teacher of the class.  Just know that he’s not going to talk to you about anything else until you succumb to his wooing.  Why, you wouldn’t even be here in this class if he hadn’t beckoned you to come.  Doesn’t this prove to you how much he loves you and how hard he’s pursuing you?  He had the teacher invite you!

3. God invites you to become involved with Him in His work.

Once you accept God’s proposition he’ll start talking to you about other stuff; he’ll start telling you some of his secrets.  Now you’re really getting somewhere because, not only does he want to the lover of your soul – your savior, he wants you to do things for with him.  He doesn’t really need your help, but it sure would come in handy.  This is, after all, how he works; through his people.  How else could his work get done since he doesn’t do magic anymore?

4. God speaks by the Holy Spirit through the Bible, prayer, circumstances, and the church to reveal Himself, His purposes, and His ways.


Red Herrings, that is.

Ah, now we’re there.  This is how God speaks to his minions people.  If you want to hear God’s voice this is the way.  Those voices in your head have suddenly transformed.  No longer are they your own thoughts. No, your thoughts have been replaced and they are God’s Spirit communing with your own.  Those Bible verses that are bouncing around in your head during your prayer time? They’re not just Bible verses anymore.  That’s God speaking to you.  And just so you don’t go off half-cocked thinking you’ve heard a word, you look for other “evidence”.  Do opportunities you’ve been working on suddenly fall into place? Did the sermon on Sunday Morning seem to coincide with what you’ve been praying about? Was it seemingly pointed directly at you? Did your friend from church say something that was particularly poignant at the time?  Well…God!

Never mind that you could be reading meaning into things that aren’t even there.  When you’re looking for meaning everywhere you’re bound to find it everywhere you look.

5. God’s invitation for you to work with Him always leads you to a crisis of belief that requires faith and action.

Poop or get off the pot!  Put your money where yourconditioned-response-cartoon mouth is!  This is what you’ve been waiting for – what you’ve been created for.  God has communicated with you and now you’ve got to decide whether to obey or not.  To obey or not to obey?  Is it really even a question at this point?  If you don’t are you really even saved?

6. You must make major adjustments in your life to join God in what He is doing.

Sacrifice?  After all that God has done to get you here, after all he’s sacrificed for you, how can you say no?  Just do it!

7. You come to know God by experience as you obey Him and He accomplishes His work through you.

Once you’ve obeyed and accomplished whatever purpose you thought God was communicating to you, you feel closer to God, you feel as if God has spoken to you and you really are in a relationship. You’re a real boy now, Pinocchio!  If it all went to hell in a handbag you obviously heard something wrong.  Go back to number four, or possibly even number two, because God doesn’t tell people wrong – they listen wrong.

This is what most Christians mean when they say that God speaks to them.  It is a giant cipher and now you have the decoder ring.  You look for God everywhere and you look for answers to prayer in every little thing.  In this way, yes, I believed that God spoke to me.

When I didn’t sense God speaking to me I assumed it to be a massive failure on my part.  As is posited in the study, “If you have trouble hearing God speak, you are in trouble at the heart of your Christian experience.”(p. 43, Experiencing God Workbook).  The implication is that if you don’t hear God in these ways there is something wrong with you; that you must be doing something wrong.  Another self-check. It feels like you’re stuck in that episode of House where the patient has CIPA. Always with the self-checking, re-checking, examining.

But wait…I thought it was God who was doing the pursuing. If God is pursuing me why does it feel as though I’m doing all the chasing?  And if he’s pursuing me and I’m chasing him why haven’t run into each other? There you are, left with that big, fat circular reasoning.  Zero. Zilch. Nothing.  This might also explain why many never question their faith.  People who believe they are hearing God’s voice have no desire to question their belief and those who aren’t are too busy chasing their tails to ever entertain the questions.

When questioning the object of your affection is viewed as a sin, in and of itself, there you have it – God’s spirit has been “quenched” in you, else you wouldn’t be doubting.  Again, the implication is that you have done something to cause this.  If you are hearing from God it is because God is good and kind and if you’re not it’s because you’ve been a bad little puppy.  Because in the mind of the believer God is good all the time and all the time God is Good.  Imagine my relief when I discovered that this failure to communicate was due to the fact that there just isn’t a god; with a big G or a little g.  I could finally stop doing the crazy dance.