Boundaries OR Compassion Fatigue?

download

Recently I have been dealing with something called compassion fatigue. I had never heard of it and when a friend first told me that was what I was experiencing, I wasn’t even sure it was a real condition… but trust me, it is! A situation arose out of a very challenging relationship about six weeks ago and I found myself in a state of frustration, anger and panic. I didn’t lash out at the woman, but after the conversation ended I found myself saying and acting in ways that were not God honoring. I was so frustrated that after investing nearly a decade trying to help her, she preferred to continue living with a victim’s mentality. I was angry that I was now in the same pot as many others she has spoken unfairly and maliciously about. …and, I was panicked because this was such a foreign place for me to be in.

Much of where this relationship ended up was my own fault because I had never set any boundaries. In an attempt to be there for her any time and in any way she needed me, I had let myself be taken advantage of… only to find she didn’t want my help. But what happened next was nothing I had ever experienced before. Although I felt bad to how I responded to the situation, after I prayed  – confessing it all to God I felt almost a state of euphoria. I had been released!

As a people-pleaser, I generally won’t allow myself to be released even when God is saying “step away”. But that day, I knew I had been released! However, I was also in the midst of compassion fatigue. There was simply nothing more in me to give her. God was saying that was OK, and in my then state of euphoria, believed that would be the end of it.

However, once the state of euphoria ended, I became aware that my normally optimistic outlook as a high-energy, “fix-it” person was gone! Exhaustion both physically and emotionally had taken their place. It felt as if there was no compassion left in me for her or anyone else. Within a couple of weeks I was on the verge of depression. The friend who first spoke the words “compassion fatigue” to me, wisely explained that unless I went to God and dealt with this it could turn into deep depression.

I had prayed when it first happened. And I was praying each day during daily devotions and throughout the day. But I had thought this was not that big of a deal and I would soon be the same person I had been prior to my compassion fatigue. When she shared that with me, I went to the Lord in prayer and cried out for mercy and grace in a situation that I had perhaps not created, but had allowed to get to the place it had because of not setting boundaries. I assumed it would take some considerable time before I was able to reach out in compassion toward anyone again. Instead, there was an immediate change in me! God heard and He answered loud and clear. “This is your gift I gave you. Go help others, but in my strength. Pray… set boundaries and I will do the rest.”

I wrote a letter to this woman explaining why I could not talk to her anymore about the things in her past. I also apologized for letting the relationship come to the place it did because of not setting boundaries – and then I set the boundaries that should have been there all along.

I wish I could say everything is fine between her and I, but it isn’t. She has chosen to be push me away because I have had to end several conversations prematurely when she crossed over the boundary line. And, guess what?! I am OK with that. I have prayed and I have set boundaries and I have His strength now in the situation. Whether it ever turns around or not, I am where God wants me.

If we don’t set boundaries, compassion fatigue may render us unable to help anyone! I know that often our “helps” gift gets in the way and we feel like we are to sacrifice ourselves in terms of time, energy and advice to help those in need around us. That isn’t what God has called us to. He calls us to be wise! …and a big part of wisdom is knowing when boundaries need to be set and then sticking to them once they are set.

May I challenge you, my fellow helpers?
1. Look at each relationship where you are a helper and pray about whether there need to be boundaries set, or perhaps modified to protect you emotionally and perhaps physically.
2. Give yourself permission to allow the limits of the boundaries you have set to be pushed back a little when you are comfortable with that.  …it won’t seem as strict.
I have let this woman talk about things that cross the boundary line as long as it
is not too stressful or abusive to me. Once she pushes past either of those… I tell her
I can no longer talk to her because she has crossed the boundaries, and end the call
or walk away.
3. Begin each new relationship by praying about what boundaries need to be set.

I am finding that each time I set a new boundary or enforce an in-place boundary it gets easier. What a wonderful perk!  I also am experiencing a freedom I have rarely felt in my life. Instead of my emotional strength being sapped, I am spurred on with new energy for helping her when the boundaries are respected along with more compassion and energy to help others God places before me. I am sure you will too!

“What Cancer Cannot Do” – a poem

I want to share a poem with you that I have repeated many times over the last twenty years.  The author is unknown, but you can tell he/she deeply understood the subject matter.  Before sharing the poem with you, I want to share how I came to first read it.

In January of 1995, just five months following my cancer diagnosis, my husband’s paternal grandparents sent this poem to me in a get-well card.  At the time they were in their late eighties.  Grandma lost both her mother and father to cancer when she was just thirteen!  They had watched their friends and family struggle with cancer over the years.  However, my battle seemed to hit them both very hard.  They had given money faithfully to a well-known cancer organization from the time they were married in 1920 in hope of seeing a cure for cancer.  Having their grandson’s wife diagnosed with cancer seventy-five years later was almost more than they could bear.  I believe the list of what cancer can’t do brought much hope to them and they wanted to share that hope with me.

Now, it is my turn to share that hope with each of you!

“What Cancer Cannot Do”
Cancer is so limited…
It cannot cripple love,
It cannot shatter hope,
It cannot corrode faith,
It cannot destroy peace,
It cannot kill friendship,
It cannot suppress memories,
It cannot silence courage,
It cannot invade the soul,
It cannot steal eternal life,
It cannot conquer the Spirit.

If that doesn’t give you cause to shout for joy and cry tears of gladness – nothing will.

I am so thankful that ever one of these things is true – but, the one that I like more than all the rest is the fact that cancer CANNOT steal my eternal LIFE.  I have been cancer free for nearly 20 years now, but if I had died then…or, if I were to recur and still die of it eventually – my eternal life is not in jeopardy.

John 3:16 says it all.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everylasting life.” – NKJV

We are born and we die.  Those are the only two things we all experience!  If you are dealing with cancer right now, or have someone you love who is…share this poem with them.  I feel confident it will make the journey easier.  But if you need the confidence to know that you have a future in heaven spending eternity with God, I invite you to read the entire book of John.  You can also go to my website: http://www.bridges2beauty.net and fill out a contact form to chat with me and/or pray with me.

 

 

 

The Sacred and Supernatural

A few weeks ago I was reading a devotional article about John 21:3.  In it, the author wrote:  “There was nothing wrong with Peter, Jesus’ disciple, needing to fish.  It was his occupation.  We all have things we need to do each day.  Whether we are a boss, an employee, a student, a mother or father, Jesus wants to be there.  We often differentiate the secular from the sacred and the natural from the supernatural.  This story highlights that all is sacred and all is supernatural.  Jesus just needs to be invited into each situation.”

These few sentences totally captured my attention.  As the writer and teacher of Sacred Identity, a study that teaches Christian women about their inward and outward beauty, I was intrigued and immediately challenged to get a better grasp on what this looks like – flesh it out.

I have never journaled on a regular basis but I went and found a beautiful pink leather journal a co-worker gave me for Christmas and on one side of the page wrote “Sacred” and on the other side “Supernatural”.  I made a promise to myself that for at least a month I would find something sacred and something supernatural in every day and journal it.

What an incredible experience and blessing this has already been to me.  I am seeing that all IS sacred and all IS supernatural.  Somedays I have a hard time deciding which of my two experiences to write on which side.   And, even more exciting is the fact that I am never at a loss for what to write.  I have invited Jesus to be in each situation – and I am seeing things differently than before.

Take for instance what I experienced during one of my morning walks last week.  As I was walking I was suddenly aware of the light breeze moving through my fingers as my arms swung at my sides.  It was somewhat of a surprise I admit, and this caught my attention – so I questioned inwardly why it was a surprise.  I realized that this was one of the first mornings since late last fall that I had been able to go walking in our beautiful Colorado foothills without gloves.  I had become unacustomed to feeling this.  But, instead of just being delighted by the reality that spring is arriving – I was struck by the fact that the little breeze was God’s wind.  God, who made the earth, the wind and the fire!  That shouldn’t sound hokey…it should cause awe and sweet worship!  Man can only take the air God made and move it around to create breezes.  God makes wind!

book-journal-03 (1)

 

What an exciting journey I am on – and, I already know I will continue journaling the sacred and supernatural things in my life each day long past the end of this month.  Would you join with me and take the challenge to find something sacred and something supernatural in every day?  I know it will give you new prospective, JOY and blessing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Encouragement and Enrichment from Hymns of Old – Part 4 (final part)

…a series on words/phrases from old hymns to encourage and enrich.  old hymnal

 

“To God be the Glory”

Several weeks ago our pastor began to sing this hymn toward the end of his sermon and the phrase “opened the Life-Gate that all may go in” caught my imagination.  I knew I had to share this hymn with you as the last in this series because it tells us how we can know we will spend eternity with God in heaven.

This hymn was written by the famous blind hymn-writer, Fanny Crosby in 1872.   I am going to share the words of the first verse and chorus with you, because they are so powerful – but, I will change some of them to be easier to understand than the Old English it was written in.  I want to then focus on the phrase I referred to at the beginning: because it will encourage and enrich your life, in a way nothing else can,  IF you take it to heart and act on it.

To God be the glory, great things He has done,
God so loved the world that He gave us His son (Jesus).
Jesus gave up his life on the cross as an payment for sin – mine and yours,
…and with his death and resurrection he opened the LIFE-GATE that all can enter in.

Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord – let the earth hear God’s voice.
Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord – let the people rejoice.
Oh, won’t you believe in God the father and Jesus God’s son
And then you can give God glory – for the great things He has done.

Have you ever heard the word “gospel”?  Do you know what it means?  It refers to the “good news” – the Biblical account of  Jesus coming to earth – born of a virgin, living a perfect life and then being killed and buried…only to rise from the dead in order to pay for your sins once and for all.  The Bible says that if you believe the gospel you have salvation (saving faith from your sins and the consequence which is eternal death).

If you are a sci-fi fan you may watch Stargate.  For those of you who have never watched the show, let me explain that there is a “gate” that opens up and allows people to travel from one galaxy to another or one time-continuum to another.  It is a very ethereal gate through which you pass from somewhere else in time and space back to the present time on earth – or vice versa.  (For those of you who are hard-core sci-fi fans, I apologize if I have described this “gate” in a less than adequate way.)

Picture with me a gate that is not hard to open in one direction…yet impossible to open the other.  This Life-Gate is exactly like that.  Unlike the Stargate, the Life Gate is a one-way gate.  If we believe the gospel we walk through the gate to forgiveness of sin and eternal life.  The gate never opens back up the other direction, no matter what we do.  AND, it is yours to walk through by simply believing the Biblical message about Easter.

The movie “Son of God” has been in the theaters for several weeks now.  If you have had a chance to see it, or possibly “The Passion of the Christ” that Mel Gibson produced a number of years ago – you are familiar with the story/plot.  This story/plot is this gospel message I keep referring to.

If you have already believed and walked through the Life-Gate I know you are praying for others who haven’t, to do so when they read this.  If you have not believed before, for whatever reason; put your disbelief aside – believe – and walk through the Life Gate.  Come…join me and millions of others who, over the course of history, have believed the gospel.

The Bible says that when someone walks through the Life Gate the angels rejoice.  As humans, rejoicing often leads to singing.  Perhaps it is so with the angels, too.

…and so, we end this series “on a good note”!

Can You Say “Stage One” Five Times?

There it was…a lump in my right breast. I wasn’t looking for it, my hand just slid across a hard little lump during my shower that evening in January. I knew God had guided my hand over that exact spot because it remained elusive to being found again for several minutes.

Let me back up several decades… to my formative years. At the young age of eight, I climbed into bed with my mom one early Saturday morning after dad had left for work, and asked her how to invite Jesus into my heart. From that day forward I had a strong faith that only deepened when I married my high-school sweetheart at eighteen and became a mom to two sons in my early twenties. Our sons took us on a roller-coaster journey through possible leukemia, ADHD, fractured skulls, (yes both of them from different accidents) a dog attack to the face, and multiple other injuries that sent me scurrying to the closest first-aid course. I too, found myself dealing with multiple health issues that no one seem to be able to diagnose or help relieve the symptoms of. In 1986 I found myself in a women’s Bible Study at our church called “Diet, Discipline and Discipleship.” It intrigued me because much of my pain came from eating. I would later see that this study was homework for the biggest lesson of my life.

Here it was now 1991, and once again the doctors had no answers. A mammogram and ultra-sound revealed nothing, but I saw my doctor each month for a year. Each time she palpated the lump concluding that it was not changing. At the year anniversary we decided it would be prudent to just have me keep a watchful eye and report any change.

Fast forward and it is now spring of 1994: Our lives were full of activity with one son still in high school. I was happy to be a mom, wife and now model and actress. But, then – it happened again as my hand slipped over my soapy breast…a second lump just a short distance from the first.

Another mammogram and ultrasound to help diagnose – this time adding an MRI, and still the lumps remained invisible. I recall the doctor’s words being something like “well, we really should probably just take them out” and biopsies were scheduled. I had none of the risk factors for breast cancer – at least none that had been determined by 1994, so each medical professional I saw before and during the procedure assured me all was going to be fine. But everything was NOT fine. The words “cancer” and “multi-centric” were uttered before my husband and I walked out of the surgical room that day.
Life felt like a whirlwind over the next few weeks as I began to learn more about my specific diagnosis: multi-centric infiltrative ductal carcinoma. To spare you all the medical verbiage let’s move fast forward to about three weeks later when the final diagnosis came in following a subsequent surgery. They had found a total of five separate tumors – all in one-quarter of my right breast. The good news was I had five separate tumors; meaning none had metastasized, so the doctor did not have to add together the sizes of the tumors to stage me. The bad news was I had five separate tumors, which is all but unheard of!
Thus my cancer journey began. My faith was tested as my health eluded me…but, my faith became stronger, and more personal than before. “Thank you God for Breast Cancer” will be the continuation of my story. Please check back in a couple of days to read it.