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  • What People Are Saying about Through The Wilderness

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    “I’ve just started reading Through the Wilderness and I feel like you wrote it just for me! I cannot believe how much the first chapter impacted me. You may or may not know that I too was diagnosed with a chronic illness and everything you described, every emotion – I felt. I was going to read chapter two, but you packed so much into the first chapter I am now absorbing it. I have no doubt your book will bless many.

    And then some time later I received this:  “Are you sure you didn’t write this book for me? I got to your chapter on your vision of the swollen leg. You described my disease to a tee. My legs are swollen as you described and my lymphatic system is shutting down. So once again, your book spoke to me!”

    A second reader writes:

    “I LOVED your book!! There were several places in it where I thought you might be writing about me! More importantly, I could hear God’s voice speaking to me as I read. Thank you for writing the story of your journey. It is bringing Him glory. It is bringing fresh hope to the hurting.
    I’ve also experienced some extended incapacitating sickness, though in my case it was less physical, more emotional distress and depression, but equally hard to get out of bed in the morning and face seeing anyone outside my family for a season. The question you asked at the beginning of the book was one I struggled deeply with as well–what value do I have when I’m doing nothing?
    I love how you asked the Lord at many points what the physical might be pointing to in the spiritual realm–I believe in this too. The prophetic impressions and dialogues with God that you wrote about were also what I had to hold on to when my mind would yield to my out-of-balance emotions, especially of worry and fear.
    It took me about 4 years to really get regular victory over fear, and I’m still contending for a fear-free life. I could feel your solid belief in God’s goodness throughout your story, and I agree, God needed to expose the hidden fear in me so He could heal and deliver me from it because the next “assignment” He has for me will require a greater level of trust in Him.
    I saw in your story that same type of living out a parable that I lived through in coming out of my own wilderness.Similar to you, some things that resulted from my journey were a fresh satisfaction with playing a nurturing role as a small part of a larger thing God was doing, content to let Him orchestrate the rest, and a new love for intercession that is no longer carrying a burden, but a joy to talk about with God.
    I love how you continue to believe for your healing and allow people to pray for it, and how you didn’t grow bitter at “healers” or well-meaning Christians that I’m sure struggled to understand what you and God were experiencing together. I love your concept of a “mystery shelf.” That’s really beautiful.I felt the worship in your story, and it lifted my spirits.
    Your questions in each chapter are also so thorough and insightful! Even a bit scary, which alerts me what areas I need to have more work on with God. I prayed every one of the prayers out loud for myself too. Thanks for including those!”

    And then a third reader says,

    “I have walked with the Lord for many many years but this book/insight took me to a whole new level. It brought the way to peace and joy that I had been searching for so long.”

    You can get your copy here.

    My prayer is that the Lord meet you in your wilderness, of whatever kind, and that you are able to let Him walk you through it….that you would be able to lean into it to find every last nugget, every skill and character trait the Lord would help you build so that you are fully prepared for your next assignment!

    Shedding a little light…Carol Brown


  • Through the Wilderness

    IT’S FINALLY AVAILABLE!

    https://www.amazon.com/dp/194479803X/ref=sr_1_1ie=UTF8&qid=1477093436&sr=8-1&keywords=Through+the+Wilderness+by+Carol+A.+Brown

    Please share with friends, and as always, any reviews posted to Amazon and Goodreads are welcomed and appreciated!  Except below.

    Shining a little light in the darkness, Carol

    wilderness-cover-b

    Excerpt:  Chapter 1 — Different, Not Ruined

    I slid off the exam table with the doctor’s diagnosis ringing in my ears. “We will schedule an MRI, but it will only confirm my diagnosis. I am ninety-nine point nine percent sure that you have MS.” I can’t remember what I said at that moment, but by the end of the day my resolve was, “I am in no hurry to receive my healing. I want to learn everything the Lord can teach me through this disease. I do not want to have to do another lap around The Sinai, thank you very much.” I did not want to end up like the children of Israel and spend forty years in my wilderness.

    It was December of 1995, when I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Back then, I tended to define myself to others by what I did. I believed, as many do, that my worth depended on my job, on how much money I made, or on how much I could produce each day. Like any propaganda, if you say it enough, you come to believe it. My culture lied to me.

    My job did not define me; my value did not depend on what I produced or contributed. This chronic disease brought me an identity crisis that was devastating. When my body no longer looked or functioned as it did, and I was unable to be what I was before—who then was I? What purpose did I have? What was my value to myself and others?

    MS tends to shrink life, lopping off huge chunks. It chips away and chips away. Insidious! Now life looked nothing like what I had worked so hard to attain. The attack affected my vision. My ability to read was limited —for a teacher that was the end of a career. The end of being productive. Even if the eye problems were to heal, my energies were so fickle I could not count on them being there on demand. My ability to walk was impaired. Forget about graceful, I was thankful to the Lord that I could walk at all! Should I insist that my body function after it told me to stop, it rewarded me with excruciating exhaustion. It tore at my insides and demanded that I become horizontal—now! Little things required huge outpourings of energy and quickly become too much.

    After my diagnosis, I quickly lost interest in trying to do much of anything. Sitting and watching others function normally wreaked havoc on how I saw myself. My name had been synonymous with responsibility and conscientiousness, and suddenly I was unable to be either of those.

    I felt I had no value.

    At my diagnosis, I did feel a sense of relief—of vindication. “See! I was right. Something was wrong!” But that relief I felt didn’t make up for the huge chunks of life that were now being stolen; opportunity after opportunity just out of reach. Would I ever be able to grasp that golden ring? Doubtful. Even if I could catch it, I could not hold onto it for long. Physically speaking, the best I had been was the best I would ever be. That was a very cold, harsh reality.

    But once I looked at that and acknowledged the truth of it, I began to see that the Lord saw me differently than I saw myself. I had value in His loving eyes. When I looked at myself with earthly perspective and wept, He looked with the eyes of heaven, and—although He grieved with me—He also rejoiced over my declaration when I committed that diagnosis to Him. I even went so far as to ask that He would work sanctification and holiness in my life because of it.

    In spite of this perspective that God could use even this devastating disease to work His nature into me, I continuously questioned God. Was there life after MS? Who was I now? Was there any purpose to my life? Did I have value? I could not contribute anything! I was a drain on my husband, my children . . . and so on.

    Choices! How could I choose to believe God, now, when He says, in Jeremiah 29:11, “I know the plans I have for you; to prosper you and not to harm you?” From where I stood, it no longer seemed there could be anything good left in my future.

    Yet, over time, I began to understand that I have an intrinsic value that has nothing to do with what I do, or don’t do. God—who loved me regardless of my performance—is who gave me that value. “But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:12). That was my true identity. When I accepted Him, I became a child of God whether I did anything else, or not. Just being His child gives me value. Jesus coming to earth to win our salvation is proof of the value God places on each of us.

    But it was a long time before I could realize that truth. I had already learned my value came from what I could produce. And since I had always been able to produce, I didn’t realize there was any problem with defining myself that way. Yet, those were merely social values, which came from my own interpretation of family values. From working hard and having something to show for all the hard work. They also came from the society in which I grew up, that reinforced those same values.

    My family had always worked hard. We had to. But we still managed to maintain a joy of life, so I never realized there was any disagreement or disconnect between the Lord’s value system and that segment of my own. However, these two value systems crashed head-on with my diagnosis. Clearly, they were not the same. I realized that determining my value by tying it to my job—and how much I produce—did not come from the Lord.

    Now, I was suddenly at a crossroad, and had to choose which way I would go. Believing there was value in me without doing anything was not easy. But I still had to choose. Of course, I wanted to choose to believe the Lord, except it seemed too impossible. I didn’t have the strength to choose, much less believe Him. But then, The Lord helped me make the choice to believe Him.

    He did it by sending me to a potter’s shop, to work with a lump of clay.

    That first day, I was a novice, and the lesson was how to cut the clay from the wheel. I adjusted the wire as instructed and pushed the accelerator. I had no idea of the speed required, nor how the machine and the pot would interact. The wheel went far too fast! My pot came free, spun out of control, careened off the wheel, and landed on its head. I let out a wail—my creation lay dashed on the floor! I reached to throw it into the scrap bin thinking it beyond repair.

    My instructor bounded off her stool, and scooped it up protectively. “No! No! It is not ruined. It will be beautiful! There is no such thing as a ruined pot! It is not ruined, just different. You’ll see.” Then she pushed, pulled, pinched, and tweaked it. It became a lovely pot—not the shape I had in mind originally—but nonetheless acceptable. I learned that I must not be firmly invested in anything I make until it comes out of the fire. Until a pot has gone through the fire, I cannot say what it is; not until it becomes what it is. I must wait and see.

    From there it was no big jump to realize that when I work myself free of The Lord, I go careening off His wheel in much the same way. When I am free and think I am in control that is precisely when life spins out of control and I land on my head. Thinking life is ruined, I wail and lament. Then the loving Father scoops me up, dusts me off, pushing here and there. Pinching and tweaking, He transforms and redeems my shattered life. At times, in my distress, I cannot hear His Words of comfort when He tells me, “You are not ruined; just different than you thought you were going to be.”

    I was not there to give God counsel when He formed me (Psalm 139:13-18), so I do not know how far from His original design I am (Job 40:1-5). I cannot know for sure what I will be, or how I will look until I come out of the fire! So, as I learned to control the potter’s wheel much better, I was also learning to stay where the Lord put me until He moved me. Also, to do whatever task He gave me to the best of my ability—even if it was just sitting on a shelf and being a pretty pot, nurturing all who see!

    My own little pots I have made grace my shelf and haven’t a clue the nurture they give me. I don’t have a clue the joy my company gives the Lord as I spend time sitting on His shelf, either. At times I feel banished, excluded from life, and of little value. But I am learning to recognize these as mere feelings. They are transient and have no absolute or eternal reality. Sometimes they are even the whisperings of the enemy! Then I remind myself that although I may feel banished, in reality, the Lord has scooped me up, pushed and pulled, tweaked and pinched. He has lovingly put me up out of harm’s way—where I’ll not be damaged—and He can enjoy His art.

    My early pots do not have the precision of my later ones, but they sit next to the latest creation, and I value them no less. I have not thrown even the lumpiest of pots away. Nor has the Lord thrown me aside when, to my eyes, I am lumpy and misshapen. The cup without the handle is a pencil holder of distinction. Misshapen is unique. “Oops” became a signature mark. Ruined has become beautiful. No, I am not ruined. I am loved by my Maker.

    Chronic disease can ruin me only if I take my eyes off my Maker. Chronic disease can also ruin me if I hold on too tightly to the world’s value system. Or, if I listen to and believe the lies of the enemy, linking value and purpose to production and dollar signs. Most importantly, I know none of those things can ruin me unless I steadfastly insist upon crawling off The Lord’s wheel, or His shelf, and climbing—all by myself—into the scrap bin.
True, I am different than I was; my life is different from what I thought He planned for me. But the Lord is a good potter, who takes what life throws into the clay mix and works it into a design of beauty that I couldn’t have even imagined before. 
And while it is a struggle to hold on to a sense of value and meaning, that struggle is part of the tension of creation. Because I learned that, in formation, every pot is under tension—both pushed from the outside and supported from the inside. So, removed from society’s hustle and bustle, I finally came to remember my original goal—the purpose behind all I have done—which was to bless the heart of my Father. Yes, what I do has changed, and even how I do it. But value and purpose? Never! Because that part came from the Lord, and not me.

    That lesson at the potter’s house contained several learnings for me. The first was that I must never become overly invested in what I do until it has been through the fire. Secondly, my value to God comes from being His child rather than from what I produce. Trials may change my life; they may constrain me in various ways. But they cannot define me unless I agree with the negative picture of my future, which is inherent in the trial. I must look past the trial to the hope and the future God promises in Jeremiah chapter 29, verse 11. And as I came to understand what God was teaching me, and embraced those learnings, God counted that as valuable!

     

    Ask the Holy Spirit

    To make this lesson your own, identify a time, person, project, work, or ministry in which you invested hugely but the outcome turned out to be something other than what you anticipated.

    ! Did it define you? Did it become “who you were?” Did it determine your value and worth?

    ! Did you wail and moan over your loss? Did it feel like God didn’t care?

    ! Did you feel as though life was ruined?
! Did you try to wiggle free from the Lord’s wheel by asking Him to “fix” your situation according to your guidelines?

    ! Ask the Holy Spirit to help you reframe that event so you can see the Master Potter’s hand in it. Ask to see with the eyes of heaven what God was trying to build into you. An attitude, character trait, a skill set?

    ! Ask the Holy Spirit how to change your responses to your circumstances so that they will align with God’s heart for you and His values.

    ! Ask the Holy Spirit why He wants you to make these changes.

    ! Ask the Holy Spirit how to implement the changes He has shown you to make.

    Prayer

    Thank you God for making me Your child, for giving me belonging, value and worth—help me to be able to feel it. Forgive me for believing lies about myself and my worth. Forgive me for thinking ill of You, Lord, for allowing this trial to be part of my life. I cannot see what You see, or fully know what You have in mind for me. Grant me strength and grace, Lord, to stay on Your wheel. Today I  choose to focus on what is, and can be. Help me keep that focus! I declare that You are my loving Father, and Your plans are to prosper me, to give me hope and a future!

    “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).

    Amen


  • Developmental Needs & Tasks for Sassy Pants Readers!

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    When can I buy the book? Right now!

    Where can I buy it?      on Amazon. (click on Amazon)

    We will also have “BUY” button here SOON on my blog and the Summers Island Website.

    And now I’d also like to share a helpful piece about the development of young children. As moms (and as grandparents) we often wonder if we are doing the right things or if we are creating problems for them farther along in life.

    A friend of mine, Dr. James Wilder has written a manual that describes what is going on at each developmental stage of life. I thought the following chart brilliant–so very helpful.

    The needs of children aged 4 to 12 are:  (This part we help them with.)

    • They need to be weaned of being a baby—having all their needs anticipated and met for them
    • They need help doing what they don’t feel like doing
    • Authentic help sorting feelings, imaginations and realities
    • Feedback on guesses, attempts and failures
    • Love they do not need to earn
    • Be taught the family history
    • Be taught the big picture of their lives

    The developmental tasks for this age are: (This part they have to work at and learn. Yes, adults need to encourage them and compliment them when they make progress but we cannot do it for them.)

    • Learn to take care of self
    • Learn to ask for what they need
    • Learn self-expression
    • Develop personal resources and talents
    • Learn to make him/herself understandable to others
    • Learn to do hard things
    • Tame their cravings
    • Learn what satisfies
    • Learn to see him/herself through the “eyes of heaven”—see their potential

     

    Excerpted from The Complete Guide to Living With Men by E. James Wilder III, Shepherd’s House Inc., Pasadena, CA, 2004, pp. 56-90.

    Shedding some light… Carol A. Brown


  • Announcing…A Forum for Highly Sensitives!

    Announcing

    Courtesy of Google Images

     Good news! Finally, after years of wishing I could tell readers that they have a place to go to explore what it means to be highly sensitive…a reader, Kayla Swanson, with more techno-savvy then I have volunteered to create a forum. It is called Nurturing Spiritual Sensitivity. Here is the link: http://spiritualsensitivity.boardhost.com/index.php

    This forum is a place where you can meet others who have read The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity and Highly Sensitive and realized that high sensitivity is what has “been wrong” all this time! You can ask questions and/or commiserate.  Share your glory stories! We can all learn together how to live joy filled and satisfying lives that bring glory to God.

    I will pop in from time to time to chat and see how things are going. If you have a question you would like my input on particularly, send it my way at godsheart@comcast.net. Indicate if you want a private answer or if it is okay to answer on the forum so others can benefit. If one person asks a question there are probably 10-20 others with the same question…they just didn’t ask it!

    I am so grateful to Kayla for being our administrator. This has been long overdue…we need each other. We need to know we are not the only one out there that’s “weird!” Let’s remind each other that maybe ½ the craziness we feel may not be our own.

    Hope to see you over on the forum!  Blessings,

    Carol…shedding some light

    p.s. I know I have been remiss—well, I have been struggling with physical therapy and dental visits and it simply wore me out so I didn’t blog. There you have it.

    p.s.s. Social media and technology are weak areas for me; I just cannot be bashful in admitting it!


  • Careful With The Label Maker. (You could be wrong!)

    Introvert is a label I don’t mind wearing. The first time I took the MMPI I was so far off the introvert chart I left it behind. I married an extrovert! 15 years later, the MMPI said I was +1 on the extrovert scale. I can now appear to be an extrovert for a little while, but it uses huge amounts of energy. Then I have to flee to solitude to recharge. Learned behavior folks, learned behavior.

    I should know introvert, right? I have two daughters, both highly sensitive. #2 is definitely introvert, the classic chameleon who picks up the emotions of whoever she’s with. #1 I pegged as extrovert just like her daddy. When #1 was 40-ish she and I were talking about the characteristics of introvert versus extrovert. She shocked me by saying that she was an introvert. My jaw dropped. She is a party waiting to happen. When the party starts, she’s in the middle of it. Introvert? I didn’t think so.

    “Mom. Think about it. How do I recharge my batteries?”

    • Walks in nature
    • Reading
    • Making music
    • Luxurious soaking baths
    • Solitary rides in the country

    Then my memory kicked in—after school she came home, went straight to her room and didn’t come out for 30 minutes. She self-entertained; she would read for hours. She was highly creative—still is! And whereas #2 brought hurt birds home literally, #1 did it figuratively. Scruffy kid in tow she brought them home for me to fix. Love and muffins should do the trick!

    How could I have missed it? This child lived with both introvert and extrovert models; she was relationally ambidextrous. It is easy to see what is different than you, but not so easy to notice what “feels normal.” She’s what I call a highly social introvert.

    What’s important about this story?

    You can unintentionally miss someone important to you if you label them based on obvious behavior. #1 looked like an extrovert, behaved like an extrovert, but at her core was an introvert! I parented her as if she were an extrovert…how often did I miss “seeing” her? How often did I parent her social persona and not speak to her heart? It never occurred to me to notice how she was recharging to prepare for her next social event.

    My take away:

    1)  We contribute unnecessarily to loneliness when we miss each other

    2) Must not assume, judge or think I know anyone

    3) Look at every person as God’s unique, priceless creation

    4) Make a lifestyle of asking Father God how to respond to each member of His family. Only God knows each person’s design and the gifts and resources He packed into them.

    I am praying the Lord bring you healing for the times and ways in which you were missed, misunderstood or dismissed. I am asking Father for someone to come alongside who can see you and speak gently, who can be tender with your bruises.

    Blessings, Carol

    …shedding a little light

    p.s. If you have a story of “missing” someone or being missed I’d love to have you share it.

    p.s.s. Those of you who regularly read my blog, I thank you. Would you please subscribe again? It appears that my subscribers were “lost in transit.”


  • Identity #5–Our Gang

    The individual identity is the picture you
    have of yourself that you put together from what you saw and may continue to
    see in the faces around you and the way those faces relate to you and your
    needs. That is pretty well formed by adolescence when you move into building group identity.

    “Group identity
    refers to those you will consider “my people” for the rest of your
    life. You feel at home with your group, your people. You use them as a
    reference any time you wonder what it would be like you to do in a particular
    situation. The subconscious thought process goes something like this:
    “Let’s see; Mom, Dad, and Uncle Joe say I always do such and such…So, in
    this kind of situation it is like me to…therefore, now I’m going to…!”
    You will turn to your group whenever life becomes too hard. You will bring home
    your treasures for them to share. You will want them at every important event
    in your life.”
    [1]

    As our daughters experimented with leaving
    the nest, at some point they both called home and with awed voices related how
    wonderful it was to know beyond any doubt that they could come home. If where
    they were and what they were doing was too hard, they could always come home.
    Always. It broke their hearts to hear the stories of girls who had to make
    their situation work regardless of interest or abuse, because there was no home
    to go to. Parents had made it very clear: “Do not come home!”

           


    So,
    what if your “group” had only negative things to say to you or about you? What
    if
    every time you brought home a treasure they trashed it? What if they ignored
    or mocked your accomplishments? What if they laughed at or lectured you when
    life became too hard and you turned to them for some kind of comfort or support?
    What if they do not consider your important life events important and did not
    come?  What if they said, “Don’t come
    home?” What if the people in your group are the ones you would never want to
    attend something of importance to you? How would you feel? Would you feel you
    belonged to anyone anywhere? If there is no one to look to and no “home” to go
    to, then who are you and where do you belong? If your needs are not met, or if they
    are met without love, or if they were met inconsistently, what does that say
    about your worth to these people? You have no reference points to look to, no
    one to tell you how to relate to people outside this “group.”

    If you did not see worth and delight in the
    faces around you as a child, you may have come to not expect it as an adult,
    unless the Lord intervenes. If you never know what response to expect as a
    child, it is unlikely that you do as an adult. Identity involves all those
    things you look to that tell you who you are, your reference points. What you
    see reflected in the faces of your community becomes internalized. Much of what
    you see reflected in the faces of your group is the sum of your history. You do
    not think to question the truth or accuracy of that picture; that simply is who
    you are.

    Think about what you saw in the faces of the people in your life as a child; what were the messages? If you saw that “you are good,” “gifted,” “a delight,” “you are good at… something, “you are mine,” then you grow up with a strong identity and knowing who you are. If you saw only disgust, contempt, were used and abused, treated as a piece of furniture, or not seen at all, then you may have grown up believing that you should be ignored, used and abused. The good news is that this too can be turned around!

    Fixing
    Identity Holes
    —A counselor aligned with Jesus and faithful to His ways can be a great
    help in repairing identity. Additionally, there are five things you can do to
    repair your identity.
    1. Produce a zone of belonging.

    2.
    Take the risk of relationship.

    3.
    Wash your mind, spirit, and emotions with God’s word.

    4.
    Through inner healing remove the lies about self that you grew up with as well
    as roots of bitterness toward those who tempted you to adopt those lies.

    5.
    Find new faces that reflect the truth about you. There is no order of
    importance indicated; this is simply a list. In the next post I will elaborate
    on these five action items.
    If something in this post rang true for you, please comment and let me know. And, if you would, do me the favor of passing it along to your friends!
    Blessings, Carol







    [1]
    Carol A. Brown, Highly Sensitive, Destiny Image, Shippensboro, PA, 2010, p. 231. ISBN 13: 978-0-7684-3260-2.
    Excerpted from Highly Sensitive, Carol A. Brown, Destiny Image, Shippensboro, PA, pp. 231-233 ISBN 13: 978-0-7684-3260-2.


  • Identity #4-Forming the Image

    I asked my friend, Dr. James Wilder to talk to me about how identity was formed and he put it this way: “First, for an infant and child the development is focused on an individual identity and from adult on it is focused on group identity. All aspects of identity only become developed and solid when you see them reflected in the “face” of another. It only really becomes “me” when it is the way that you see me.”

    “The common way to establish identity is by the cumulative history of what I have done. That makes me the sum of what has gone before. Since most of that is malfunction and sin, my identity becomes the sum total of my errors to date–as they are seen by others and reflected to me.

    When I am seen through the eyes of heaven as who I was meant to be and not what I have done, then my potential defines my identity!

    The second point would be that “belonging” is more a characteristic of identity than a requirement for identity.

    Individual Identity — What you see reflected in the faces of the people you relate to during the formation of your “individual identity” creates a picture of yourself. That picture is confirmed when you see it reflected in the faces of the people in your “group”–it solidifies; it becomes real. “You” are what you see in those faces. You are what others say you are!

    Your emotional response to the picture others create for you is where the sense of “belonging” and the sense of “worth” come from. It is a sense of a feeling of worth and belonging. God designed the family to show you the truth about yourself and the truth about God. If what you see in the faces around you is in reality, other people’s brokenness and sin, you may not learn the truth about yourself. You may feel that you are broken; you are the sin that you see in the face(s)–awful, disgusting, and worthless. You feel you are what others tell you with their faces, words, and body language. One friend put it this way: “When people treat you like a couch, you begin to feel like a couch. They talk about you, over you, ignore you, abuse you, shove you around, use you, throw you away when they are finished with you, but they never talk to you. You feel like a piece of furniture.”

    Here is another example of a person emotionally responding to the picture others present. For several years when this man was a child, his two brothers, two and four years older respectively, called him “Stupid.” “Get out of the way, Stupid. Let me do that.” He finally concluded he was indeed stupid and proceeded to do poorly in school, act out, and otherwise cause trouble for himself and others. However, he also received other messages, messages of worth and belonging from other family members. These same two brothers would also quickly come to his defense when defense was needed. Consequently, he had an unstable, fluctuating picture of himself. When he finished his tour of duty in the army, he registered for college, took a couple courses and received “A’s.” That was all he needed. He proved to himself and anyone who cared to ask that he was not stupid!

    Feeling Different — Because of your sensitivity, you may feel so different from other family members that you wonder if you were adopted. Another fellow I know would listen to stories his siblings told and wonder what family raised them–certainly not the one in which he grew up! The family reminisced of wonderful adventures, fun, and laughter, whereas the family my friend was familiar with was much darker. Actually, both pictures of the family were true! The siblings did have wonderful adventures; there was much fun and laughter. There was also much pain in some members. My friend was more sensitive than others; therefore, he felt the unexpressed pain. It colored all his family experiences a much darker tone. Being aware of the unexpressed pain, he did not perceive the fun or experience the laughter and adventure.

    You also may have felt the unexpressed and unresolved trouble of family members and it colored your experience of life. Your sensitivity may have made your experience of life in the family much darker and more somber. You may feel you do not belong to this family; you are that different from the others.

    Your perception that you are different may not be wrong, but your conclusion may be! You may have a very accurate perception of the darker reality within your family. If they are not as sensitive as you, they may not have felt their own troubles as acutely as you. You may be quite accurate when you perceive dark and somber emotions of disgust, contempt, and rejection. That may be exactly what a family member was feeling! However, if you assume that every feeling you have originates from your own being or that you caused them to have disgust, contempt, or rejection toward you, you can arrive at a false conslusion about others, God and yourself. You may conclude that you are “wrong,” that there is something about you that is flawed or undesireable. You withdraw to the fringes of the family and wonder if you really belong here. You question your worth.

    What you have perceived is not the ultimate reality that God created you to live in, nor is it God’s reality. God’s reality is the one He designed you for, and the one in which you want to live. God chooses to look at the potential He designed into you rather than the sum total of all you “malfunctions and sins,” as Dr. Wilder said! Perhaps that is why He is so patient! He knows what He built into you and that you are capable of doing and being what He has call you to do and be. He knows you can be the person He designed you to be. God looks at an accurate picture of you. You may be looking at a distorted or false picture of yourself.

    The next post will be about our “group” identity. My suggestion is to ask the Lord to see what He sees when He looks at you. And, how does your potential–which God sees–differ from the image you have of yourself. And then we will look at things we can do to correct the self-image that we have received.

    These posts on identity are taken from the book Highly Sensitive, published by Destiny Image. It can be purchased from my website, Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble or Destiny Image.


  • Identity #3-Competency

    Competency is where your natural talents come into play.  Talent is something you are born with and is only dependent upon your “group” in that they can encourage or discourage, help or hinder you. You develop competency when you are pushed to take appropriate risks; that is how you develop the skills necessary to do the task well. Every person needs to feel good about herself; everyone needs to feel he has worth and belonging. Having both, it is possible to not rate very high on the competency scale. You can be a klutz and still have a solid sense of self-esteem. However, if a person is weak on belonging and lacks a sense of worth, competency becomes very important. You can use competency to compensate for the shortfall in worth or belonging. Your competency ccan be a source of nurture to your soul when the need to belong is not being met.

    What a person is good at does not seem to matter–just that they are good at something! I felt I was not ready for our daughters becoming teenagers, but they did not consult me! I remembered that I had heard someone advise to make sure your teenager is good at something. It does not matter what. Just put your thumb in his back and make sure he is good at something. That would get him through his teen years intact! I quickly forgot who saidit, but the advice stayed with me. If a child has a knack with computer, help him be the best tech yet. If it is spelling, music, sports, academis, whatever, help your child be able to say, “I’m the best tennis player, diver, runner, stand-up comic, etc. in school!” The one who does well is valued and included–she belongs!

    Many people short on belonging and worth use their competency to buy belonging and worth. The teen short on worth and belonging, but competent in football will give his heart and soul to the game. He will play in pain or when he is unwell. The pain or illness pales in contrast to the pain of feeling worthless and not belonging. The adulation from fellow students, the camaraderie of the team, the “atta boys” from the coach–these things far outweigh any pain or illness he may have. He wears his letter jacket to broadcast his belonging and worth to the team.

    You see the same pattern in the corporate world. A worker happily takes an added workload or volunteers to head up committees. He drives himself. The job becomes all consuming–worth and belonging are that important. He takes classes to be a more valuable asset to the company. He may display qualifications, accolades and certificates in prominent places in the office. It is another way of saying, “See me,” “Appreciate me.” It is proof to him, and to the world, of worth. Sadly, some sacrifice relationships at home in pursuit of the “atta boy” they never heard as a child. When you depend upon competency to earn love and a sense of belonging and worth, you open the door that leads to burnout, disappointment, betrayal, and failure. Feelings of worth and belonging that come from meeting expectations, performing brilliantly, or reading people correctly are fragile at best.

    I will never forget the day I asked my father what he thought I should do for a career. He looked me right in the eye and said, “Kiddo, I think you can do whatever you set your mind to do.” Talk about an “atta boy!” We would love to hear what your experience was? Who “saw you” and said something? Who reflected back to you an accurate picture of yourself that made a difference for you?

    Blessings, Carol


  • Identity #2

    There are four aspects to identity that are important to
    note. The first three are the sense of belonging, the sense of worth and
    competency. Competency is used to compensate for a shortfall in either
    belonging or worth. The sense of belonging and the sense of worth flow from or
    are the result of a picture you have of yourself. Belonging and worth are a
    result of how this picture causes you to feel about yourself. However, the way
    in which this picture is acquired is critical, so I call the way the picture is acquired the fourth aspect.

    Sense of Worth

    The sense or feeling of worth comes from inclusion. A lack
    of worth comes from exclusion. The following questions will help you discern possible areas for repair. When you were a child,
    • Did you have a part in
      decision making?
    • Did you have choices?
    • Could you choose the clothing you wore,
      the friends you played with?
    • Could you choose what you wanted for your birthday
      dinner?
       
    • Did you choose the paint for your room?
    • Did you choose your education,
      or were you told what to do and who you would be?
    • Did someone tell you that you
      would be an engineer, a doctor, a pilot, a teacher, or that you would never
      amount to anything?
    • Did people talk to you, over you, or about you as if you
      were a piece of furniture?
    • Were you included in conversations, plans, outings,
      adventures, and fun?
    • Were your opinions, needs, and desires ignored?
    • Perhaps no
      one bothered to ask. Did anyone of significance applaud your accomplishments
      and attend your events?

    Sense of Belonging

    Messages of belonging come from having your needs met and
    the spirit in which those needs are met. They do not need to be met with an
    abundance of things, simply with consistency and love. You can have abundance,
    but if you are treated as an object rather than a cherished child, your sense
    of belonging will need repair. Mechanical meeting of needs without loving touch
    and concern or with inconsistent love and concern builds a very shaky sense of
    belonging. Sometimes you belong, and sometimes you don’t. Your heart wonders,
    which one is this? You become very adept at reading people and sensing their
    emotional state moment by moment because your safety and security depend upon
    an accurate assessment. If your belonging is in question or if the criteria for
    belonging continually shifts, the likelihood that you will need to compensate
    for a lack of belonging is much greater.

    Meeting your needs with consistency and love communicates
    that you are valued, that you are cherished and that you are of great worth.
    This is the truth about you. The heart craves to be loved and cherished. What a
    dilemma when the people who should love do not or cannot!

    If you have identified a gaping hole in your sense of worth or belonging and don’t want to wait for suggestions for repair to appear in this blog, run on down to your local bookstore and order Highly Sensitive. “The Issue of Identity” is chapter 9. It is published by Destiny Image. ISBN: 13: 978-0-7684-3260-2. You can also get it through Amazon.com. It is such comfort to know that God will never leave us or forsake us (Deut. 31:6). Matthew 28:20b “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age”. 

    If some point struck a chord in you and you feel okay with sharing, I would love to know.

    Blessings, Carol


  • Chameleon Syndrome?

    Identity can be a slippery thing for all of us, but it is especially difficult for highly sensitive people (hsp’s). Hsp’s (highly sensitive people) have an innate “chameleon” reflex, subconsciously morphing into whoever or whatever the strongest personality needs or environment calls for. The result is a fluctuating, unstable picture of who we are!

    I am thinking, if we can become aware of the phenomena we will learn to sense when we begin to drift with it. Perhaps, the sooner we spot ourselves drifting the quicker we can come back to our personal emotional base line.

    To give you an idea of what I mean. My husband and I were invited to come to Canada on loan from Elijah House Ministires, USA to help train some Canadian counselors. The currency exchange was keeping some folks from receiving the help they needed. I determined that I was not going to pick up a Canadian accent since we would only be there a couple years. I worked hard to not say “eh?” But after being there only two months it slipped out effortlessly and appropriately. I finally gave up. It took too much energy to monitor every word. The Canadian “eh?” is with me still. This was not imitation or mimicking. I sort of absorb the sound and now years later thinking about friends there will bring out the accent effortlessly.

    Another example is our youngest daughter, a burden bearer through and through. I always knew who she had been playing with by her behavior when she came home. For about a half hour she “was” her friend. She used her expressions, inflections and vocabulary–even the acting out behavior was the same. One particular friend had a rather “sailor-esq” vocabulary and was emotionally and verbally abusive toward her mother. We would quickly have a little sit down talk.

    • Were you playing with ***?
    • Yes.
    • Were she and her mommy having an argument?
    • Uh, huh.
    • Well, Sweetie, you and I aren’t angry with each other are we?
    • No.
    • Well, then you don’t need to act toward me like your friend does toward her mommy. In this house, we don’t say mean things to each other. We don’t use those kinds of words. They just are not appropriate. I know *** says those things, but our family doesn’t. How about we pray for her and her mommy and ask Jesus to help their home become more peaceful and happy.

    Within a half hour of prayer she had returned to her sunny self and left the “Salty Sally” persona behind! She had found her way back to her joy base. By herself she could not sort out the difference between her own emotions and those of her friend, but with help she could shortly return to her emotional default, her own emotional baseline that was true of her. Without such help it took much longer for her to return to her self. Without help at all a person can become lost to self and have no sense of who they are.

    Like a house, our identity needs a “true” foundation. A house that is a few degrees off plumb at the foundation will be several degrees off at the roofline. The walls of our house will not be straight up and down–the house will lean. They will not be as sturdy or dependable in a storm as straight walls are.  Our self-image can also become skewed when we are given a picture of ourselves which is not true; which prevents us from living life with joy and confidence. Life can batter and then we crumble because we are not as “study” as we might otherwise be.

    In the next few blogs I want to share some of how our identity is formed with an eye to identifying what is either missing or in need of repair. Share with us, if you will, ways you see yourself morphing into either people or your environment.

    Blessings, Carol