A recent talk from Nancy Houston about God's desire for us to all have healthy attachments.
In learning that I was a powerful person, I realized I had a choice to use that power like Jesus does, for the good of others, or to use that power for the destruction of others. Jesus models how to use personal power for the good of others.
Jesus is our Savior, but He doesn’t enable us. In the gospels, when someone wanted something from Jesus, He asked, “What do you want me to do for you?” His questions helped people practice becoming a healthy self by taking personal responsibility to ask for what they wanted. Scripture says, “You do not have because you do not ask God” (James 4:2 NIV). Jesus wants us to be assertive and to learn how to ask for what we desire, without demand or entitlement.
Jesus invites people to follow Him, but He never uses coercion. He is not a bully. Jesus says, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me” (Revelation 3:20 NIV). He doesn’t kick the door in or threaten us with hell and damnation. He doesn’t demand loyalty. He made us in His image with free will and choice; He chose us and He invites us to choose Him. Sadly, some people do not honor free will and use it destructively. Thus the brokenness we see in our world and why we have to set limits with others and ourselves.
Jesus always uses His power for the good of others. He is not a victim. He chose to die on the cross for our sins, was buried, and rose again—victorious! He empowers people. God has a limitless supply of power, and He shares that power with His children. Surrendering your personal power to Jesus releases His love to flow from you to your relationships. That is exactly how Jesus chose to live His life on earth. His personal power was submitted to His loving Father and then He used that power for our good.
Thought Bomb: How are you using your power?
Nothing is more defeating than believing that we are powerless, yet, too many of us have lived life feeling just that—powerless. We feel powerless over the condition of our relationships, our finances, and our future. And worst of all this is completely the opposite of how God intends us to live our lives. Powerless people tend to blame everyone else for their messes in life. And they don’t connect the difficulties in their lives with their own choices, someone else is always to blame for the life they are living. Sadly, they don’t believe they have the power to change or make choices that will impact their future for the good. Powerless people are fueled by fear and they create an environment of anxiety wherever they go. Often they use control and manipulation to communicate to others “they better submit—or else!”
The world sees power in limited supply. Because of this perspective of lack, people scramble to increase their personal power using manipulation, control, and competition. The lie is that there is not enough power to go around. There is plenty! When an individual battles for power, they try to get their way by using attack, withdrawal, and threats. These tactics result in an empty victory and are relationally detrimental.
When a person chooses to empower and serve others, they begin to experience healthy relationships. No longer are they driven by fear and lack, now they believe they have power over situations instead of situations having power over them. As St. Irenaeus said, “The glory of God is man fully alive.” We are only fully alive when we begin to see ourselves as able to make decisions, affect our relationships, and have a hand in our future.
Thought Bomb: How are you empowering those you are in relationship with?
Scripture teaches us to love our neighbor as ourselves. But did you ever consider that love, empathy, and kindness start with you? Practicing self-empathy, self-kindness, and self-love are foundational for healthy relationships with others. If we can’t receive empathy for ourselves, then we will be incapable of giving it to others.
Another way we can empower our relationships is by getting into community. God wired you for attachment. Adults need attachment as desperately as an infant does. You were never intended to do life alone. That is part of the purpose of relationships. God wanted you to have secure attachments throughout your adult life—individuals who know and love you just as you are—with no shame.
But re-wiring our brains and transforming our hearts, is a process. The enemy of every healthy relationship is shame. And toxic shame doesn’t go away overnight. Sometimes, I feel relatively shame-free and then something can happen and a critical judge inside of me takes over and tells me how deficient I am. When this happens, I choose to reach out to others and share my failures. I stop and allow Jesus to remind me who I am in Him, and I practice letting love in. I also monitor that critical judge and refute the critical voice with empathy and lovingkindness towards myself. Shame is the great kidnapper of humanity and keeps us from living the empowered, relational life Jesus longs for us.
Thought Bomb: How has shame affected your role in community, and how can you actively de-shame your life each day?