God’s Voice vs Other Voices: How Can You Tell the Difference?

The other night a young lady called me. She’s in a very sticky situation.

She is currently separated from her husband. A young man from church started pursuing a relationship with her. She’s not interested in him romantically and has made that clear. But they are talking and becoming friends due to their common interest in the things of God.

She told me, “I’m trying to free myself from this guy. I just want to focus on my relationship with Jesus and healing my heart! But for some reason, I keep feeling like I’m forced to be his friend and maybe more some day. I’m praying and praying, but I can’t get any peace. What can I do?”

Whew! That’s tough. When you are praying and yet don’t see the results you had hoped for, what can you do?

We talked for some time. She’s been growing rapidly in hearing from God and learning His ways.

One thing she said that caught my attention – “feeling forced” to be his friend.

I asked her about it. She said she feels this pressure and she wonders if it’s God or not. She’s afraid to cut things off with him because she’s not sure if maybe God WANTS her to be friends with him.

I told her that there’s a big difference between following the leading of the Lord and the feeling of being forced or pushed.

I sent her this chart I made to help her discern when it’s God voice or some other voice.

gods voice vs other voices

She immediately replied:

“Wow, I havent realized how much of the other voices I’ve been listening to because I wasn’t sure whether they were from God or not. It’s so clear now.”

I know this chart has helped me – sometimes when we feel unclear about something and especially if our emotions are involved, this can help bring clarity about exactly whose voice we are following.

Some charts I’ve seen contrast God’s voice to Satan’s voice. I chose to contrast God’s voice to “other voices” because sometimes that voice is our own! We are sometimes our own worst enemy – we tell ourselves what we “should” be doing, using guilt and manipulation to get ourselves to do things. Sometimes that “other voice” is someone in our lives giving us advice or telling us what we should do. This chart can help us figure out whether what they are saying lines up with the Lord’s voice. And yes, sometimes that “other voice” is the enemy, Satan, whispering things into our minds (which sounds like our own thoughts).

I encouraged her to keep that chart somewhere she could refer to it frequently. You might want to do the same.

So how do you know when it’s God’s voice versus Other voices? Feel free to share your experience below.

Would you like to share this post on your favorite social media to help others discern who’s voice they are hearing? Thanks! 🙂

Breathing with God

The other day I was describing to a friend the experience of the presence of God. It is hard to describe in words of the natural realm. “Many people want to experience God’s presence,” she said, “but they don’t know how. You should share this.”

As I pondered how to teach someone the very first step toward becoming aware of the presence of God, this exercise came to me. I hope it helps you take your first step toward a deeper relationship with God.

Breathing with God

Close your eyes and take a deep breath slowly. Imagine the Spirit of God filling you as you breathe in. Hold your breath and count to five mentally. Let the breath out as you say, “Thank you, Jesus.”

Set a timer on your cell phone for one minute. Do the breathing exercise. You can use different phrases like, “I love you, Jesus” or “You’re wonderful, Jesus” if you want to add variety.

Notice how you feel after doing this exercise. I feel relaxed, at peace and I have mental clarity.

Start by doing this exercise once a day.

Once it feels comfortable doing this for one minute every day, set the timer for three minutes.

You’ll notice an even greater peace and clarity of mind. You may begin to become aware of God’s presence.

Don’t start with three minutes if you have never done this before. Start with one minute. I know some of you want to skip ahead, but trust me on this. Take baby steps – this is a lifetime practice, not a quick fix. Taking it slowly now will payoff very well later. I promise!

Keep doing it every day. You can do this more than once a day, if you wish. It can be particularly helpful to do this while sitting in traffic, to reduce your stress (but keep your eyes open please).

After awhile you will look forward to your special time with God each day. That’s when you can stop using the timer. Spend as much time as you want. The more you do this, the more likely you will become aware of God’s presence.

Don’t give up. Let your desire for God draw you to this time. If you lack desire, then when you breathe out say, “Draw me, Lord.”

What is God’s presence like? Some people sense a presence (or energy) of love or of peace. Others sense companionship – like someone is there with them and they are no longer alone. You’ll know when it happens to you – it’s personal and unique. ♥

Once you become aware of God’s presence, you can do the breathing exercise longer, if you wish. It can help you stay focused on Him. You can share your thoughts and feelings with God. Or you may enjoy practicing Listening Prayer, another exercise to help you connect with God. [I’ll post a description on this blog later, but for now you can Google “Listening Prayer” if you want to learn more.]

Let me know what you experience when you try this exercise. It’s so simple, yet it has profound effects.

Looking for more? This article appears in a free ebook called Intimate Relationship with God – you can download it here. 😊

3 Ways to Set Healthy Boundaries in Relationships

So many people contact me with their problems related to boundaries in relationships. No one teaches us how to have good boundaries and most of us did not see good examples from others while growing up. As a result, we have no idea how to set healthy boundaries in our relationships – and we suffer as a result.

I read an awesome book on Boundaries many years ago and it really opened my eyes. Let me share the basic concepts with you. If you will apply these to your life, you will be amazed how much less drama you will have to endure in your relationships and life!

A man and woman making a clear boundary with a wooden fence between them

Boundaries are like a property line – they are the invisible line that separates what is yours from what is your neighbor’s property. Many people put up a fence on their property line. This makes it very clear to everyone where the boundary is.

Boundaries help you to determine what is your responsibility and what is NOT your responsibility. Just like with a piece of property – you get to decide what happens inside your fence, but not what happens inside your neighbor’s fence. You can choose whether to plant flowers or let weeds grow, but you cannot control what your neighbor does with his yard. If his yard is a mess, it’s not your job to fix it – the fence reminds you of that. You are only responsible for keeping your own yard looking nice.

When it comes to relationships, boundaries are REALLY important. I’m amazed at how often people don’t have boundaries and don’t realize how much pain it is causing them. They think that setting a healthy boundary would be “mean” or “rude” – even when the other person is treating them badly!

It’s time to take back your power and set some healthy boundaries. You deserve to be treated with kindness and respect. If you believe that, then you will set healthy boundaries to maintain that environment in your relationships.

What does a boundary look like?

1. Words – Communicate clearly with others

My husband has been a great example to me of how to use words as boundaries. Whenever we are approached by a salesman, he simply says to them, “No, thank you.” and turns away. If they are persistent, he looks them straight in the eye and says a little more forcefully, “I said, NO, thank you!” He walks away. They get the message and give up. I never knew how to handle pushy salesmen in public – his example inspired me that I could be respectful and yet firm and get results!

2. Consequences – Taking action based on your freedom

This can be hard one to do, but it is very powerful. If you have used words in the past and the person ignores you or does not respond in a kind way, then take action. Actions speak much louder than words, especially if they are unexpected! For instance, if you have someone who calls you too many times a day and that interferes with your work or other responsibilities, then simply don’t answer the phone. Many people tell me they are afraid to do this – what if it is important? Then set some boundaries verbally ahead of time such as, “While I am at work, please only call if it’s urgent. If not, send a text and I’ll call you later.” When you stop answering the phone every time they call, they will learn that you mean what you say. You demonstrate respect by showing respect for yourself. This teaches people to treat you with respect.

3. Honesty – Being honest about what is happening within you

This is the most powerful boundary of all. Being truthful about how you feel and about how you experience the relationship is the foundation to a healthy connection. Not being honest lays a false foundation that leads to instability for both people. The more honest you can be in a relationship, the healthier it is. For instance, “Rachel, I’m afraid to make plans with you. The last four times we agreed to meet for coffee, you canceled on short notice. I’d really like to spend time with you, but I’m getting frustrated. What can we do about this?” Or another example might be, “Honey, I know we need to talk about our budget and that this is important to you. I just got home and I’m tired. Could we agree to talk about it on Sunday afternoon instead? I’d really appreciate a break tonight.” Both of these examples honors the other person, but is also honest in expressing how you feel.

The main point with Boundaries is that YOU MATTER. The other person is important, but you are also important. We often think that by always putting the other person first, we are showing love and respect to them. But it can easily become an unhealthy pattern when it is one sided – when do YOUR needs become important to them? Are they putting you first? Usually not. It’s often one-sided – we call that co-dependent. You’ve probably heard the saying, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” that means you’ve got to love yourself too.

If this article stirs your heart and you see your relationships affected by the lack of boundaries, then I encourage you to check out the Boundaries books by authors Henry Cloud & John Townsend. They have many of them – Boundaries, Boundaries in Marriage, Boundaries with Teens, Boundaries with Kids, etc. Here’s a link to the first one – Boundaries. 🙂

Things I Can Control versus Things I Can't Control

Unexpected KEY to Intimacy with God

I’ve been seeking the Lord for over 35 years. I’ve been in thousands of church meetings and Bible studies – I can’t recall a single time this was ever mentioned as a key to being close to God.

I was amazed when I discovered it. I wish I’d known this sooner. I could have enjoyed the Lord’s love and presence so much more over the years.

It all started one day when the Holy Spirit whispered into my heart, “You can be as free as you want to be.” I was shocked. I had been carrying a lot of emotional baggage all my life – fear, insecurity, low self-esteem, etc. I’d tried all kinds of methods to get free, but it seemed like such a slow, hard process. I was so discouraged – then I heard His whisper.

It gave me such HOPE!

I desperately wanted to be at peace, to be confident and to be a woman of faith that trusted God. I did not want to be this insecure girl full of fear who was always wondering what was wrong with me. Can you relate? (Maybe a little?)

So I started pursuing emotional healing with all my heart AND I finally found a method that worked for me. I was amazed how fast I was getting free of lifelong fears and insecurities. It was like going through an extreme makeover emotionally. I could hardly believe how much I was changing into the woman I wanted to be.

The key was: The more healed I was inside, the more open and trusting I was able to be with God.

As I was healed from emotional pain from my past, it opened me up to trust God deeply in ways I had struggled to trust Him before. I discovered so many lies I believed subconsciously about myself, about God and about how life works. As the lies came to light, one by one, I was able to let them go and receive the truth.

It was so incredibly liberating – I had no idea what a shift it would make in my perspective. I got healed of things I didn’t even know were broken! Words feel so inadequate in trying to explain to you how BIG this was – emotional healing not only set ME free, it opened up a whole new WORLD in my relationship with God!!

Would you like to know what method worked for me? I tried so many different things, but very few seemed to have lasting effects. I finally found a very simple method and wrote it down. When I shared it with friends, they also had big breakthroughs in their own healing. I started carrying around photocopies of my notes because every time someone was helped, they asked for a copy so they could share it with someone else.

I finally put them in a little book. It’s not very long – the main point is to DO the method, not just read about it. I purposely made it short so people could just jump right in and start getting healed.

Thanks for listening to my story. I have so much peace now. I feel utterly secure – confident in who God made me to be. I wish I had words to describe how much better my life is now – it’s blessing upon blessing with no fear of the future. Yes, I still have a rough day once in awhile, but NOTHING compared to what it was like before.

If you are interested in the book, here’s the link.

Can you relate to my story at all? If so, I’d love to hear from you.

P.S. I’d love to support you in your journey to a more intimate relationship with God. I offer books, an online course and one-on-one mentoring. Let me know how I can help you today 💕

Deep Healing So You Can Rest

Many times we experience spiritual attacks because of wounds we have inside (emotional or spiritual). We are often unconscious that we have these wounds. We tend to move on with life without dealing with them, usually because we simply don’t know how. These wounds often allow “open doors” to the realm of darkness.

A friend sent me this wonderful video that helps to deal with those hidden wounds. Jim Banks talks for a few minutes and then he does a “prayer process”, as he calls it. He covers several things in his prayer and you will be surprised by how many seem to impact you directly. Many people say listening to this helped them sleep better than they have in years!

He also does some specific things during this prayer that can help with spiritual attacks – he breaks curses and disconnects you from things that may be harassing or influencing you. He helps your body release anxiety and stress that you may not know you are carrying.

I recommend listening to it at a time that you can pay attention without distraction, just before bedtime. The video is a just under an hour. Listening to the prayer makes you very relaxed and sleepy (hence the suggestion to listen before bed).

Once you’ve listened to the whole thing, you can go back the next day and listen to just the prayer process. I’ve listened to it several times and I always get something new. He says on his blog that some people make it part of their “getting ready for bed” ritual, to help them relax and sleep peacefully. 🙂

The video is on YouTube – it’s called Effective Trauma Release — [deeper healing in the spirit]. Here it is:

There’s a copy of this “prayer process” in his book, The Effects of Trauma and How to Deal with It.

If you want more in-depth help, Jim and his wife offer individual prayer counseling sessions by phone, skype or Facebook messenger video call. They also offer 1-3 days intensives if you want to meet with them in person. They are currently located near Nashville, Tennessee. Here’s the details of how to make an appointment: https://jimandpatbanks.com/personal-ministry/

After you listen to the video, please come back to this blog and let me know how it helped you. Your testimony may encourage someone else!

Do You Make Time to Play?

DO YOU MAKE TIME TO PLAY?

I have been getting a pull in my heart/mind/spirit to DO less and BE more. That’s sounds like a contradiction, right? We are supposed to be doing MORE, not less! At least that’s what my “To-Do” list tells me every weekend. We keep putting things off, adding them to our mental to-do list and eventually it becomes a pressing issue that we need to DO the items on the list. I know this is a common struggle for most of us. Can you relate?

But this pull says to me, “Wait. When was the last time you just did something for fun? With no agenda, no to-do list, just enjoying the moment.”

Yeah, that’s what I thought.

As kids we have lots of “downtime” and very little on our to-do list. Especially in the summer when school is out, we envy children who have time to just watch the clouds go by, looking for funny faces and animals. We’re too busy to even notice the clouds on our commute.

RESEARCH SHOWS THAT ADULTS THAT TAKE TIME TO “PLAY” EXPERIENCE MORE ENERGY, MORE CREATIVITY AND A BETTER MOOD OVERALL. IT ALSO CONTRIBUTES TO BETTER HEALTH AND A SENSE OF WELL BEING.

HOW DO YOU FIND TIME TO PLAY?

Block out a 4 hour period during one of your day’s off. Don’t schedule anything. Turn off your phone, computer, tablet, television and any other media device. Do nothing. Let yourself get bored and then see what ideas come to you naturally. Boredom is a GREAT foundation for creative play. Then just follow your heart – whatever comes to you, DO IT!

This downtime will really recharge your soul. Some people enjoy it so much that they make it a regular habit. In the past when I had a really stressful job, I would block out my entire Saturday. I did not make any commitments to anyone – it was MY time. If I wanted to sleep late, I would. If I wanted to get up early and take a walk, I would. I could go to the park or the movies impulsively – just on a whim. [Yes, if you have kids you can still do this. Kids LOVE unstructured play. In fact, they’ll teach you how – follow their lead.]

The idea is that you need UNSTRUCTURED time to find yourself again. To find your strength and creativity – to let your soul out so it can stretch and climb and soar.

I challenge you to try this. Try it every weekend in July and see how much you enjoy the benefits. You might even be willing to sacrifice “normal” scheduled activities for this. You might be willing to get off the treadmill of doing MORE and instead enjoy the benefits of just BEING. [DO less, BE more.]

Let me know how it goes – I’d like to hear what you tried and how it worked for you. Everybody’s different – find your own rhythm. You owe it to yourself and those you love.

YOU’LL BE A HAPPIER PERSON IF YOU’LL TAKE TIME TO PLAY ON A REGULAR BASIS. 🙂

Fear is afraid of you – did you know that?

Several years ago while on vacation, the Lord taught me some things about Fear. It was late at night and God’s presence filled the room suddenly. I pulled out my notebook because I sensed the Lord was going to teach me something. I write down what He says because if I don’t, I can’t remember it clearly the next day – then I can’t share it with anyone.

I was pondering the power that Fear has over people, myself included. It seems to influence our daily lives. Not only do we have the emotion of fear internally, we also have the Spirit of Fear externally making things worse. The emotion of fear might hold you back from taking action, but when the Spirit of Fear adds his influence to it, you can be suddenly paralyzed with Fear. It’s awful!!

I was asking the Lord about this when His presence intensified – a sudden clarity of awareness came and my mind opened to revelation from Him. He showed me the Spirit of Fear – it looked kind of like a large mosquito with flimsy wings and long, dark grey spindly arms and legs. It was about the size of a goose.

Large Gray mosquito

As I considered that we have authority over Fear, I suddenly felt its fear. The Spirit of Fear is AFRAID of us!! I started laughing at the irony. I asked the Lord why it was afraid and He showed me that Fear is all it has. That’s why it’s called the Spirit of Fear. It doesn’t have power or great intelligence or even craftiness – it’s just pure fear. And it is afraid of being controlled by us – our authority can take control of it’s freedom by binding it and telling it to leave. That’s what it fears – not being able to do what it has been assigned to do. So whenever it sees you (or me), it throws itself on you and wraps you in a smothering hug with those long arms and legs. Suddenly, you feel paralyzed by Fear. But you’re not – it’s just an illusion!

This revelation gave me SO MUCH courage! Any time I feel fear, I laugh – imagining this creature that is afraid of me. Before it can take over my sense of reality with it’s smothering hug, I bind it and command it to leave immediately! And it works – every single time!

I live in an area where mosquitoes are very common – they are very fragile and easy to kill. They are annoying, but they are not dangerous or scary. So thinking of the Spirit of Fear as just a big mosquito really makes sense to me – it completely disarms its power in my mind. I can slap away a mosquito and crush it easily – Fear no longer intimidates me.

Scared mosquito

I thought this would encourage you today – Fear is actually afraid of you! Isn’t that cool? 🙂

P.S. If fear or anxiety is something you struggle with, you may appreciate this article on Overcoming Fear and Anxiety. In it I share how I learned to overcome many of my own fears with a little “heart exercise” the Lord gave me.

Spirit vs Soul, Part 2

This post is to continue the discussion of Spirit vs Soul. The first part of the post is here – I recommend you read that one first or else this might not make sense (you have been forewarned). 🙂

Quick summary: You are a spirit and you have a soul. Your spirit and your soul were each created with their own purpose. They are not the same. Learning to switch between them can change your experience of life dramatically – you can have much more peace, joy, love, patience, etc. There is a process in learning how to make the switch – it starts with learning the difference between the two. Most of us are clueless – I know I was! The process is:

a) Become aware of your spirit

b) Acknowledge your spirit’s place

c) Strengthen your spirit

d) Let your spirit lead

Last time we discussed the first two points, this time I will cover the last two. Here we go!

Strengthen your spirit

Strengthening your spirit involves learning what your spirit can do. It is an education for your soul in who you really are. Your soul may have heard many negative messages about who you are (i.e. you’re stupid, you’ll never succeed, etc.). As you learn who you are in your spirit – God’s DNA in you – you begin to see your own value, the value God put in you. You have a core value that no one can take away.

Think of all the negative things you have either heard or thought about yourself. Now write down some statements of the opposite of those things. For instance, if you tell yourself, “I’m dumb and I can’t remember things”. Then the opposite would be, “I am intelligent and I have a good memory”. Once you have a list of these, begin to say them to yourself out loud each day.

It feels like my soul is drinking in the words.

I like to look at the list while I am reading them (versus memorizing the list and recalling it from memory). First, I ask God’s Spirit to come and fill me and wash me. Then I read my list out loud to myself. I use the pronoun “I” instead of “you” because it helps me to “own” the statement of truth.

Below is an example of some of the things I have said to myself. I start with, “Spirit of Sandy, I call you to attention. You have been blessed with every spiritual blessing. These are some of the blessings you have:

  • I am free and I give others their freedom.
  • I am accepted and I belong.
  • I am appreciated and acknowledged for my contributions to the world.
  • What I say is important, valued and received with honor and respect.
  • I am loved for who I am.
  • I receive love and respect from other people.
  • I have faithful, loving, close relationships. I am a blessing to others.
  • I am compassionate and I am able to receive compassion from others.
  • I am worthy. I am trustworthy. I am faithful.
  • I trust God to order my steps and to take care of everything that concerns me.
  • I have everything I need to fulfill my destiny.
  • I rely on the Holy Spirit to show me things.
  • I am confident and secure. I am FEARLESS!
  • I am welcome to demonstrate who I am. The world is waiting for me with anticipation and joy.

You can borrow any of these statements that feels true to you or you can write your own. Write them without using negative statements. Instead of “I’m not dumb”, you would say, “I am intelligent” or something similar that is positive. Choose your words carefully because it makes a difference. You are learning to speak kindly to yourself and that’s very important.

Now I’m going to be honest – when I first started doing this, it was tough. I would read my list out loud and my soul would react and say things like, “Yeah, right!” with this sarcastic tone of unbelief. Saying things like “I am accepted and I belong” would cause my soul to immediately remind me of how rejected I felt the day before because of something a friend did to me. But I kept doing it – because I wanted to CHANGE the conversation in my head. My soul needed to acknowledge my spirit’s place and my spirit was not going to feel confident to step out if it was constantly listening to the negativity coming from my soul. This step really helps you to experience the difference between the two. At first, my spirit was quite weak. I simply read my list because I was desperate to change. I didn’t feel confident or strong or fearless. But I had a tiny bit of faith and a whole lot of determination to see things change. And they did!

I will also say that helping your soul heal from the wounds of rejection and fear is also a big part of becoming whole. I didn’t know how to do that when I started this process, but a few years later I did. The exercises in the book called Freedom through Forgiveness helped me tremendously. Healing the soul enables you to switch between your spirit and soul more easily.

Now for the last step ….

Let your spirit lead

The last step is to work with your spirit and your soul each day as the need arises. I would not try this step until you have done the previous steps for several weeks, maybe longer. You will begin to feel different inside as a result of those steps. Then you’ll be ready to move forward with this process.

Your soul is like a little child that needs protection from harmful influences. Your spirit was designed to do that. When your soul feels sad, lonely, fearful, rejected, etc., your spirit can give it what it needs in terms of encouragement, support, security, acceptance, etc. because of the presence of the Holy Spirit in your spirit.

Here’s an example. I have often felt anxious about facing new challenges. Whenever I notice that my soul is anxious, I say out loud, “I come out of agreement with anxiety and fear. I release peace and trust in the Lord into my soul.” This is my spirit ministering to my soul. It actually makes me feel better, usually within a few minutes. When I have felt sad or lonely, like no one understands my troubles, I will tell my soul, “It’s okay. You’re not alone. Jesus said He would never leave you or give up on you. Lord, open my soul up to receive Your love.” Then I will wait expectantly – soon I feel God’s love fill my soul. I soak it up by just being still and letting His love fill the sad, empty place in my soul. I’m tapping into my spirit where God’s Spirit is. Peace will come over me and I let it permeate my entire being, including my soul – the place that felt sad or lonely just a few minutes before now feels happy and full.

Once you’ve 1) become aware of your spirit, 2) acknowledge that it has a right to be expressed and 3) you’ve strengthened your spirit by embracing the truth, try letting your spirit lead. On a day when you have to face something you don’t really want to, ask your spirit to come to the front and ask your soul to go to the back and sit down. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you. Then walk into the uncomfortable situation. You will probably notice that you are functioning better than you expected. Most people are amazed at the results. They tell me that they went from being fearful to being confident in less than 30 seconds. This is because they had been strengthening their spirit and when they needed it, the strength was there.

Practice calling your spirit to lead whenever you feel weak or overwhelmed by life’s demands. This is what I usually say, “Spirit, I call you to attention – please come forward and lead. Soul, please go to the back and rest. Holy Spirit, I need your help – please guide me now.”

Try it out in different situations and see what happens. If you try it and you don’t see the results you were expecting, it may be that your spirit is not yet strong enough in that area. If you felt intimidated when you wanted to feel confident, maybe you need to concentrate on “I am secure and confident” for a few weeks and then go back and try it again.

Practical Application

There are many different ways to apply this concept. I may do some future posts on this because it seems to come up a lot. How will you use this new idea? Can you think of some scenarios where switching to your spirit would enable you to face some things you’ve avoided?

Here’s an example from one of my clients: She had an important business meeting coming up. She was meeting with an influential person and had to give a presentation on a new business idea. She was hoping to get this person’s feedback and ultimately their support (maybe even do some work together to start a new product line). She was very nervous – it was a big deal to her. She really wanted to see it succeed. She was afraid her anxiety would interfere with the meeting – the other person would pick up on that and it would likely cause them to hesitate to work with her. I taught her this principle of Spirit vs Soul and she worked for weeks on strengthening her spirit in being confident and secure. She also worked on some areas of inner healing regarding negative messages she had received in the past about herself. On the day of the meeting, she called her spirit to attention and walked into the room.

After the meeting, she called me. She was AMAZED at how smoothly everything went. She said she had such clarity and was able to communicate exactly what she wanted to say. The other person was impressed at how well she had thought through the new idea and immediately congratulated her. They also agreed to work with her and were happy to support her in launching the new product. She couldn’t believe how successful and confident she felt. It was a complete transformation from the way she used to be.

Now please keep in mind – this is not an overnight process. It takes TIME and EFFORT. But it is really, really worth it. Are you ready to try? Go to Part 1 of this post and start. It’s not that hard, but it does take persistence and practice until it becomes natural. Then you’ll have your own story of amazing breakthrough!

Any questions? Please feel free to contact me or comment below. Go to the About page if you’d prefer to contact me privately.

Spirit vs Soul, Part 1

I have noticed that very few people talk about the different parts of ourselves that are unseen. Most people acknowledge that there are at least 2 parts of us – the part everyone can see on the outside (our body) and the hidden part inside of us (our inner being). But I have discovered that our inner being is comprised of at least 2 parts, which I refer to as Spirit and Soul. In reading what others have to say, I’ve noticed there is no universal language to describe it – each author uses different words (which adds to the confusion, I’m sure). Rather than try to pick words that fit all the different expressions of this reality, I’m going to stick to the words I’m familiar with from the Bible. It helps to give me a foundation from which to build. It also connects to the ancient traditions of the Christian faith, which I value. I’m going to try to express what I have seen, heard and experienced in my own life and in those I have helped. It has made a HUGE difference in my life.

I discovered a doorway to peace and joy and love that I never knew existed.

Spirit vs Soul

You are a spirit and you have a soul (Hebrews 4:12, I Thessalonians 5:23). Your spirit carries your spiritual DNA – that’s part of your identity. Your spiritual DNA is the way God made you for His specific purposes to be fulfilled in your life time. When you become a follower of Jesus, your spirit becomes one with His Spirit (I Corinthians 6:17).

Your soul carries your natural identity – who you are on the earth. This would include your personality, your likes and dislikes about natural things (i.e. I love chocolate). Most of our daily lives revolve around the soul. This is what feels most comfortable to us – it comes naturally.

Some people define the soul as containing the mind, the will and the emotions. I’m not sure it’s that simple because we also carry “the mind of Christ” in our spirit (I Corinthians 2:16). Our spirit has intelligence, creativity and intuition. It also seems to be the seat of our conscience (our sense of right and wrong). You could say the soul contains YOUR mind, will and emotions whereas your spirit carries the mind, will and emotions of the Holy Spirit (if you are one with Him).

Your spirit and your soul were each created with their own purpose. They are not the same. Your soul was created to do certain things. Your spirit was created to do certain other things. They are both valid. They are both very important. Sometimes what causes us to struggle is when we try to get our soul to do what our spirit was created to do and vice versa. It causes confusion for us – especially when we don’t get the results we were expecting! This has happened to me many times. Once I learned the difference between the two and how to switch between then, I got much better results. As I have shared this with others, they have told me what a game changer it is! So that’s why I’m trying to share it here.

If you let your spirit lead your life, you experience the fruit of the Holy Spirit every day – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). You experience this wonderful fruit in all your relationships, both at home and at work or school. You experience the abundant life that Jesus promised (John 10:10).

If you lead your life by your soul, you may feel anxious, uptight, or unsure of what you’re doing. You worry about what people are thinking about you. You worry about the future; you dwell on the past. It’s easy to get “stuck” in your soul. This is perfectly natural. Most mental health issues are in the soul. That’s where we primarily need healing in order to be happy and healthy.

In order to move from living by your soul to being led by your spirit, there is a process that can help you. I learned this from Arthur Burk in his series, Nurturing Your Spirit. I will summarize the main ideas that helped me. Some of this is my own insights and some of this is from his series. Arthur tells people when he teaches, “Look – here are my ideas about this topic. You take it and run with it!” So that’s what I’m doing.  🙂

Your spirit is a very real part of you. If you have ignored it for most of your life (like we all have done), it will take a while to make the change. First, you have to become aware of your spirit through daily practice. What you want to do is

a) Become aware of your spirit

b) Acknowledge your spirit’s place

c) Strengthen your spirit

d) Let your spirit lead

Become aware of your spirit

The first step is to become aware of your spirit and to begin to connect with it. Ask the Holy Spirit to teach you how to recognize your spirit. Close your eyes and take a few slow deep breaths. Focus on the way the air feels as it flows through your chest. Imagine your spirit filling you on the inside just like your breath fills you. Stay with the feeling for a few minutes. Focus on your breath and just “be”.

It takes a lot of practice to become aware of your spirit. I recommend that you take a minute and do this breathing exercise every day. You can do it when you first wake up, or when you are waiting at stop light in traffic or anytime you remember to do it. The point is to practice and pay attention until it becomes easy for you to recognize your spirit.

Acknowledge your spirit’s place

As you begin to connect with your spirit, you will recognize what value it has. God created it for a very specific purpose. He will show you that purpose, to encourage you and strengthen you. Acknowledge to yourself that your spirit has a right to be expressed. That there is something special inside of you that deserves to be known to the outside world.

Each day ask God’s Spirit to come and fill your spirit and wash it. Take a few deep breaths and see if you feel anything. Sometimes it feels like you are standing in a rain shower. Sometimes it may feel like a soft blanket of peace or love. Sometimes you don’t feel anything, but it is still happening. God promises to give His Spirit to anyone who asks.

God’s Spirit is the provider of all the resources you need to fulfill your destiny. When you invite Him to come and fill you, He begins to direct your day and lead your steps (and you notice it). At first, it may seem surprising. After a while, it becomes very comforting.

I’m going to stop there for today. This is a lot to take in when you first read it. Ponder this concept of being a three part being – body, soul and spirit. Practice the breathing exercise and see if you can recognize your spirit. What does it feel like to you? How would you describe it? Spend some time each day paying attention to it and begin to acknowledge your spirit and its value.

If you have some insight you’d like to share, please feel free to comment below. I will continue this topic in the next post: Spirit vs Soul, Part 2.

Why Should I Forgive?

The Power of Forgiveness Can Change Your Life

Forgiveness is an essential key to finding freedom.

Unforgiveness is like an emotional prison – we lock up our negative feelings about a person and we hold onto them. It actually ties us to that person – even if the person is someone we’d rather forget.

The good news is – we hold the key to the prison doors. By an act of our will, we can open the door and release what is being held. What we often don’t realize until later is that the one who is being set free is ourselves.

Forgiveness Key SW smaller

Carrying a grudge (another word for unforgiveness) actually weighs us down internally. We think we are holding the other person in the prison cell, but in reality we are holding a part of our soul, mind or emotions in that cell. Forgiveness unlocks the cell and releases the negative association we have with that person.

Many people have a misconception about forgiveness. They assume that if they forgive, they are saying that what happened didn’t really matter or that the fact that they were hurt is insignificant. That’s not true. Forgiveness starts with an acknowledgement that what happened was hurtful. It assigns responsibility for the pain. By acknowledging what happened, you can begin to release the negative emotions associated with the pain and in time, you can choose to let them go.

“Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself.” – Suzanne Somers

You may think, “What they did to me is unforgivable – how can I let go of it just like that?”

First of all, you don’t let go of it “just like that”. Forgiveness is a process that takes time and effort. Depending on the depth of the pain, it could take days, months or sometimes even years to release it. Each person’s process is their own – it takes as long as it takes.

Yes, what they did was really bad. Somehow we feel that by holding onto the offense, it somehow “makes them pay” for what they did. That couldn’t be further from the truth. The other person is not the one suffering – YOU ARE.

Resentment is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” – Carrie Fisher.

Internally, what you really want is justice. What happened was wrong – and your soul wants it to be recognized and acknowledged. Too often the person who hurt us is not willing or able to do this – but we can do it for ourselves.

Do you need to “feel forgiving” in order to forgive? No. Forgiveness is an act of your will. Sometimes you will feel compassion or understanding later, but you do not have to feel a certain way to forgive. You only have to be willing to forgive.

When you are ready …

1. Acknowledge the pain. Write it out or tell it to a trusted friend. Specifically think about why it hurt. What message did you receive from this negative event?

2. Recognize responsibility. Who did what and how did it make you feel? Even if you are by yourself, it can be very freeing to say it out loud. Imagine you are talking to the person who hurt you. Example: “I was offended by your comments about my recent weight gain, Aunt Susie. I respected you. Your opinion matters to me and that’s why it hurt so much. I felt judged by you.”

If your emotions come up at this point, let them out. You can cry or beat a pillow in anger. It’s important to respect your right to feel hurt. You matter!

3. Offer forgiveness. Saying it out loud is especially helpful here – it confirms to your soul that you really mean it. Example: “I forgive you, Aunt Susie, for making me feel judged and ugly by the comments you made about my weight. I release you from the harm you caused me. I choose to let go of the anger and shame I felt.”

Note: Sometimes forgiveness takes time. You might need to speak your forgiveness out loud or in your mind each time the memory of the pain surfaces. Eventually, the hurt will recede and all that will be left is a painless memory. Forgiveness is an act of your will – your emotions eventually will follow.

Should you tell the person who offended you that you forgive them? Not necessarily. If you are in a close relationship and the person has acknowledged their fault in causing you pain, then it could be very healing to let them know when you’ve forgiven them. However, in many cases, the person is no longer around. They don’t need to know – this is for your benefit, remember?

After you’ve forgiven someone, does that mean you need to continue the relationship? Keep in mind that choosing to forgive someone does not necessarily mean you need to continue your relationship with them. If someone has proven to be untrustworthy or hurtful towards you, you don’t have to associate with them. Forgiveness and trust are two separate issues. Forgiveness does not “magically” make everything okay.

One person most people need to forgive and yet often “forget” to do so is … themselves. This is an important step in finding freedom. And for those who were raised with a faith tradition that made certain things “God’s fault” (i.e. someone’s death), you may need to forgive “God”. It may feel silly doing so, but if you find that you are very cynical and bitter towards matters of faith, chances are you are holding negative emotions against the concept of God that was presented to you as a child. It’s time to let that go too. Your heart will thank you.

The article above is an excerpt from Sandy’s book, Freedom through Forgiveness: The Power of Forgiveness Can Change Your Life. For more information about forgiveness, including how to order the book, please click here. This excerpt also appears in 30 Days to Freedom which can be found here.

Please feel free to forward this page to someone who needs the freedom that forgiveness brings.

“When a deep injury is done to us, we never recover until we forgive.” – Alan Paton