Tag Archives: Emotions

Out of Exile: Day 35 – Reframing Your Offender

On Day 34 I talked about the idea of reframing your circumstances. Different things require reframing. I mentioned the need to reframe your loss. It’s also important to reframe anyone who has caused you to enter exile, that is, your offender.

Reframing your offender involves forgiveness. We often frame our offender as the winner in a conflict. We frame them as the one in control while we are the one who is powerless. These pictures need to change.

We thing anger and resentment toward our offenders is a means to balance the power. They hurt us so we hold them in contempt. We refuse to forgive them unless they fulfill our demands.

But what we fail to see is that our lack of forgiveness gives our offender control over us. As long as they owe us, we are obligated to resent them. This only prolongs our time in exile. We need is to be free of any anger or resentment toward our offender. We obtain this freedom by forgiving.

Forgiveness doesn’t excuse the offense. It simply frees you from the need to provide payback of any kind. It enables you to close the book on the past chapters of your life and give your full attention to the present moment and the future. Isn’t it bad enough that your offender stole from you? Do you really want to give them any more space in your brain, even for a minute?

I appreciate Miraslov Volf’s view of forgiveness as absorbing wrong. He says:

Hanging on the cross, Jesus provided the ultimate example of his command to replace the principle of retaliation (“an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”) with the principle of nonresistance (“if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also”) (Matthew 5:38-42).  By suffering violence as an innocent victim, he took upon himself the aggression of the persecutors.  He broke the vicious cycle of violence by absorbing it, taking it upon himself.  He refused to be sucked into the automatism of revenge… Exclusion and Embrace, pages 291-292

People who refuse to forgive think in terms of scarcity. They have a limited amount of (whatever). Whenever someone offends them, they lose a little more of what little they have.. Their only play in response to the loss is to ward off future attacks with anger and more. Their world gets increasingly smaller. Exile becomes a place of permanence.

A faith-filled person doesn’t think in terms of scarcity. They believe in a God who can fill up what is lost through any offense. Because of this, they absorb the losses of life and are free to leave their exiles.

Could unforgiveness be keeping you in exile?  Maybe you not only need to reframe your offender but reframe God as well. God needs to be framed as someone who can help you absorb your offenses and take back your life.

Please take a minute to leave your comments or questions below. If forgiveness is an issue for you, there are many posts on readingremy.com addressing this. The book STUCK…how to mend and move on from broken relationships takes an in-depth look at forgiveness as well.


Out of Exile: Day Ten – Denying Your Loss

Anger, Fear, and Sadness operate like a Band of Brothers. It’s almost impossible to have one without the other. That’s why it’s important you learn to identify them in your life and have a plan to deal with each one.

Unfortunately, the quick solution to these emotions is denial. Feel bad? No problem. Just immerse yourself in behavior that drowns out the noise from your loss. 

The problem with clichés isn’t that they are untrue. The problem is they shutdown the thinking and grief process. 

We’ve all been there. Denial looks different to different people. It can be socially acceptable with things like working too much, over-indulging in hobbies or exercise, or “social” drinking. But for too many, exile brings such strong disillusionment that they feel justified in throwing off any inhibitions they once had.  

If life suddenly doesn’t make sense, they why bother? That’s why we are often shocked at the revelations of secret lifestyles of people who were once known for their integrity and moral influence.  For some, sin leads them into exile. For others, exile is what leads them to sin.

The most prominent form of denial is simple minimizing of losses. Spiritual people do this effortlessly because we have Bible based clichés ready to do the job. What do we say when confronted with loss? I’m just trusting the Lord. The Lord gives and he takes away. You can fill in your own personal favorite.

The problem with clichés isn’t that they are untrue. The problem is they shutdown the thinking and grief process. You should absolutely trust in the Lord. He will bring you through your loss. BUT, it still hurts. It’s still a loss. You need to acknowledge that loss, admit the impact it had, and give yourself permission to feel terrible about it for a season.

That’s not un-Christian. That’s being human. God made us human. It’s okay. It’s necessary. But what many do is trivialize their loss and then it sits in their heart rotting for years, souring the person on life.

There are so many losses that come automatically when you enter ministry. I’ll get to these in coming posts. But for now I hope you will start to ask yourself what the losses are that you have and then what emotions you have in response to the losses. Once you answer those, if I could get you to share that with your spouse (or a friend), that would be amazing. You will have started the process of getting out of exile.

What are some ways you have denied your losses? What are some clichés you use to minimize loss?

Leave a comment at the very bottom of this page and share this post with others. Thanks.



Facing the Fear of Insignificance


Facing the Fear of Insignificance

I’m continuing my discussion on fear. I’ve been reading Max Lucado’s book, FEARLESS, and he says this about being insignificant

Do we matter? We fear we don’t. We fear nothingness, insignificance. We fear evaporation. We fear that in the last tabulation we make no contribution to the final sum. We fear coming and going and no one knowing.

That’s why it bothers us when a friend forgets to call or the teacher forgets our name or a colleague takes credit for something we’ve done or the airline loads us like cattle onto the next flight. They are affirming our deepest trepidation: no one cares, because we aren’t worth caring about.

Then he connects the fear of insignificance to some of our behavior:

For that reason we crave the attention of our spouse or the affirmation of our boss, drop names of important people in conversations, wear college rings on our fingers, and put silicone in our breasts, flashy hubcaps on our cars, grids on our teeth, and silk ties around our necks…

Fashion redeems us from the world of littleness and nothingness, and we are something else. Why? Because we spent half a paycheck on a pair of Italian jeans.  Max Lucado. FEARLESS

He’s right isn’t he?  I mean, think of the billions and billions of dollars that go to make us feel better about ourselves. With hair alone, just think about how much money goes to we cut it, color it, plug it, etc. 

We fear nothingness, insignificance. We fear evaporation. We fear that in the last tabulation we make no contribution to the final sum. Max Lucado

The fear of insignificance moves us to not only spend money on things we don’t need, it causes us to seek out winners with whom we can identify. We try to live vicariously through important people: entertainers and sports figures. If we can’t be important we simply attach ourselves to someone who is. 

Insignificance and the Fear Cycle

Our fear of insignificance often spins in a cycle. We feel insignificant so we do something desperate to feel good about ourselves. But that often backfires and makes us feel even more insignificant. For example, you might buy a new car to fit in with your friends but it gets repossessed because you can’t make the payments. Your friends find out about it and you feel smaller than before.

Max Lucado gives another example:

Consider the girl who is asked out on a date by a good-looking guy. So good-looking that she wonders what he sees in her. He’s out of her league. Once he gets to know her, he’ll drop her. Why, she may not be able to maintain his interest for one evening. Insecurity drives her to use the only tool she trusts, her body. She sleeps with him on the first date for fear that there won’t be a second. She ends up feeling like the disposable woman she didn’t want to become.  Max Lucado. FEARLESS

It’s sad when this happens. We end up being our own worst enemy.

So how do we face this fear of insignificance? One of Jesus’ followers explained how God’s love addresses our fear:

God is love…There is no fear in love because perfect love drives out fear… John 4:7,18 (The Bible)

Think about that; if you can experience perfect love, it can eliminate fear in your life. Is that too good to be true?  I’ll finish my thought on this in my next post. I hope you come back.


How to Overcome Your Fear with Faith

I recently started a series called Facing Your Fear. I’m going to share bits and pieces of it in the coming weeks. You can listen or read the entire messages by visiting my church’s website.

Fear is About the Unknown

Fear is an interesting topic because we all face it whether we realize it or not. We all have our means of coping with fear. Fear is driven by the unknown and there are a LOT of things we don’t know. For example: we don’t know what the economy is going to do. Five years ago we saw the economy tank, many people lost their jobs and their savings. As a result some of us fear that will happen again. We wait for the other shoe to drop.overcoming fear

Or, if you have someone with an addiction in your family, you don’t know where that’s headed. I work with people in addiction and both the addict and the family live with a lot of fear. They aren’t sure about the future…if it will lead to recovery or another relapse is lurking around the corner.

When I read again the story of Jesus’ arrest the night before he was killed I noticed a few things about fear from the response of his followers. I’ll share them over the next few posts.

Fear is Like Darkness

The first thing I noticed is that fear is like darkness. I think Jesus was arrested at night because darkness is a symbol of fear. There’s something scary about the dark. Why is that?

It’s probably a few things. What happens in the dark? You lose your markers.  In the light you know where everything is. You can see where you are going and what to avoid.  But without those markers, you lose control.  Doubt rushes in. You aren’t sure you remember where the obstacles are. Suddenly you feel vulnerable. It makes you slow down or even freeze up for fear of making the wrong move.  In the book, FEARLESS, Max Lucado says this about fear:

We fear being sued, finishing last, going broke; we fear the mole on the back, the new kid on the block, the sound of the clock as it ticks us closer to the grave.

His words remind me of what a friend of mine told me recently. His dad was 30 years older than he is. He said when his dad died at 86 it was like someone set a 30-year timer. He feels the years ticking down and he said, Remy, It scares the hell out of me. Fear does that. Fear is like darkness. It wraps around you and suffocates you.

Fear Lies About the Future

The second thing about fear is that it lies to you about your future. When Jesus was arrested, what do you think the disciples told themselves? We’re going to jail. We’re gonna die. It’s over. We’re all fools. What were we thinking? How could we have been so stupid to follow that impostor? You see, fear extrapolates everything into the worst case scenario.  But Jesus spoke directly to their thought life:

Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? Matthew 26

 What was Jesus saying? He was saying…You guys are in fear because you believe a lie. You don’t think I’m the Son of God. You think I have no power…that I’m not in control. But the truth is… I am the Son of God, in fact, if I asked God to help me now he could send 12,000 angels in a heart beat. So relax. Everything’s going to be okay. 

That’s what Jesus would say to you too. Whatever has got you paralyzed, acting out, or on the run today: Relax. He’s in control. There’s not situation that he can’t pull you out of one way or another. He may not “fix” your life the way you want it. Some consequences to your past actions may need to be played out. But he’ll be with you. He can make your life good: both now…in the problem…as well as in the future, when the problem has passed. And it will pass.

What is it that causes the most fear in your life? What lies does fear speak to you? Leave your comment below. Thanks.

Subscribe to this blog and I’ll send you a 60 page overview of my book, STUCK…how to mend and move on from broken relationships.


Let Frustration Move You to Action

In my book STUCK, I mention how some people use the word “frustration” in place of the word “anger”.  While I believe it’s important to not minimize anger by calling it frustration, I also think that frustration is a separate emotion. frustration

The Feeling of Frustration

Frustration is that unsettled feeling you get when you don’t quite know what’s wrong.  You experience an internal dissonance. Frustration is a generic discomfort while anger is more specific: you tend to know why you are angry.  That’s not always true with frustration.

When I’m frustrated, I’m uneasy. I might be confused or mildly depressed. I generally don’t know what’s wrong. I’ve noticed that I can be frustrated for a few days. Usually by the third day I catch myself being frustrated and then the bell goes off: Hey, Remy. You are frustrated. How long are you going to stay like this? You know what to do!

Step One: What’s the Expectation?

Frustration is a feeling of being stuck. When I’m in that place I force myself to think through what it is that’s not working.  As I point out in STUCK, life has a lot to do with how we deal with our expectations.  When you want to achieve something but feel thwarted, that leads to frustration.

For example, I typically feel frustrated when I have a goal that’s not being met.  Let’s say a project is delayed.  At first I’m in denial. I try to bury my frustration, i.e. forget about it, ignore it, act like I don’t care, or it’s not a big deal, etc.  But the frustration tells me that it’s not really buried or that I buried something alive!

If I want to move out of my frustration and resolve the tension, I need to first identify what the expectation is that I’m not achieving.  What is the loss I’m experiencing?  Once I discover the expectation, I usually know what it will take to break out of emotional lethargy and get back on task.

Step Two: Develop a Plan of Action

Feeling frustrated is really a call to action. My mind is telling me that something is not right. Something needs to be done!  I need to come up with a plan of action. Usually it involves going to talk to someone. That’s often where things break down. Some other person isn’t tracking with me.  So I sit around hoping the problem will resolve itself. It never does. That’s where the frustration comes in.

Step Three: Take Action

If I want things to change I have to act.  It’s really that simple.  I go through this cycle all the time.  It’s amazing how quickly my frustration clears once I develop my plan and act on it.  I often wonder why I took so long to take action.

The bottom line is, if you are stuck in frustration, you are suffering a loss. You are not achieving an expectation.  If you want to break out of your frustration and achieve your goal you need to come up with a plan of action and then execute it. When you do, the frustration will leave and you can move on with your life.

Question: What is something in your life that’s frustrating you? What action can you take to get your life back on track?  Leave your comment below.

Learn more about frustration, expectations, and loss in STUCK…how to mend and move on from broken relationships


Top Five Posts on readingremy.com

I haven’t done a Top Five list for a while. I thought you might like to see what tops the reading list.

Here are the top five posts on readingremy.com from the past three months.

  1. shame

    from readingremy.com

    Forgiving Yourself: Consider the Lie

  2. What Does the Bible Say About Shame?
  3. Regret-Proof Your Life with Better Decisions
  4. The Spiritual Implications of Brene Brown’s TED Talk on Vulnerability
  5. Ten Ways Denial Numbs the Pain of Shame

Would you share this post on Facebook to expose others to these posts? Thanks!

If you are a subscriber to this blog, have you requested the free STUCK sampler?  It’s a preview of my new book “STUCK…how to mend and move on from broken relationships“. Just leave a comment below and I’ll send it right off.

Here’s what a recent reviewer of STUCK said about the book…

STUCK is a very well written and helpful resource that will help many people. God has gifted Remy with the ability to synthesize his life experiences, what he’s read and seen and put them all into an easy to read and understandable work on a very difficult and challenging topic. 

If you aren’t a subscriber, subscribe and you’ll get the STUCK sampler too!