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Judy Lair is a licensed counselor and owner of Counselorplace Christian Counseling. She is the author of “From the Other Side of the Couch: A Biblical Counselor’s Guide to Relational Living.” Judy’s personal struggles with fear led her through the valley of hurt and sorrow. She now embraces a joy-filled life grounded in God’s truth and freedom in Christ. Judy uses her professional counseling expertise to tell stories that help people find healing and freedom. Her vulnerable, godly approach helps people find courage to move from Fear to Freedom. For more information or speaking requests, email JudyLair@counselorplace.com or sign up for blog posts at http://judylair.blogspot.com

 “Freedom is attainable. Trust me, I’ve been on the anxiety side, gone through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, and now I’m praising God, eating at the banqueting table, and helping others make the same journey. Whether you find yourself stuck in anxiety, disappointment, grief, or confusion, your heart can be set free.” Judy Lair, “From the Other Side of the Couch.”

Sunday, August 24, 2014

One Single Word

Today I was reminded how one single word can make an enormous difference in our lives. One word can shape our understanding of ourselves, our paradigm, context for where we've been, and send us on a new path.

Words are used to beat us down or build us up. So much of the hurt we experience originates from slashing words uttered intentionally by someone close to us, often even to ourselves. Some folks respond by absorbing the pain, believing the words are true. Others build a protective wall by hardening their heart. How we respond to words dictates what impact they have on our life.

Lamentations 3 describes the horror of the destruction of Jerusalem, the temple, and exile of Judah's inhabitants. One command was given, resulting in centuries of pain and suffering. The author's emotionally-laden words connect with our own individual wounds and painful stories.

He has besieged me and surrounded me with bitterness and hardship. He has made me dwell in darkness like those long dead. He has walled me in so I cannot escape; he has weighed me down with chains. Even when I call out or cry for help, he shuts out my prayer. He has barred my way with blocks of stone; he has made my paths crooked..I have been deprived of peace; I have forgotten what prosperity is. So I say, "My splendor is gone and all that I had hoped from the LORD." Lamentations 3:5-9, 17-18

So what do we do when we've received too many hurtful words and feel battered and abandoned? Ask God for a new word. A word that will bring light into our inner darkness, hope and vision for this day. 

Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:18-23

God's compassion for me is renewed EVERY morning. Such power in that one word. No matter what comes my way today, God gives me a new, loving, compassionate, truthful word EVERY morning. It's my choice to learn how to ask for, and receive, His words.

We all have barriers that keep us from hearing God. Hurt, bitterness, beliefs, disappointment, busyness, etc. Don't be discouraged if you can't hear God today. Ask Him to show you what is blocking his voice. The ability to hear from God will grow as the healing process unfolds.

My word from God came today while sitting in contemplative prayer at a home group leaders retreat. We were learning different ways to incorporate prayer into our groups. God created us with different personalities, ways of learning, and communication styles. Prayer is as individual as we are, so if you cannot hear from God in one way, get creative! Nate introduced us to Praying in Color (www.prayingincolor.com), an interactive way to stay focused while praying. He also taught us the traditional Lectio Divina prayer model, a way of listening with your heart while you read Scripture. The steps are:

1) Read the passage, being sensitive to any particular word or phrase that stands out for you.
2) Reflect on the word, being attentive to what feelings it evokes and thoughts that come to mind.
3) Respond spontaneously to what you are thinking and feeling, offering prayers of thanksgiving, praise, petition, etc.
4) Rest in God's presence, allowing the Holy Spirit to draw you deeper into how this Scripture passage relates to you.

As I read Ephesians 3:14-20, the word "all" grabbed me. I absolutely want "all the fullness of God" in my life. As I focused on the word "all," God started giving me a vision of how he wanted to use me to impact others on a larger scale. Fear popped up. The more attention I get, the more risk there is for hurtful words to come my way. I was immediately reminded of the context of this passage. God promises fear must flea when I'm rooted and grounded in the knowledge that the love of Christ always surrounds me. As I focus on God's love for me, he will expand all five feet of me to be filled with all the fullness of God I can handle. Wow! One single word opened my heart up to an entire world of possibilities! What is God's word for you today?

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