Post-Mortem

This was not a good day two thousand-ish years ago, and that is grossly understated. It was certainly not a Good Friday.

Their world had just been blown apart.

Everything they knew for the last three years has lost its hinge-pin. Death can do that, brutal death will do that more, it has a way of destroying every hope in you; it will strip you of your ‘why-a-bouts’ and void your reason without asking your permission or giving you advance warning.

Their reason for being, hoping, dreaming, future, for winning, was just gone. Gone. Gone!

They were terrorized. So, as friends, were trying to regroup and had gotten back together, loosely together, but now what? Would they be next? Who… would be next?

Peter, who usually had all the answers, was uncommonly silent, vacantly silent.

What in the world just happened? How could this happen?

Someone had provided some food, but nobody wanted to eat. Their system couldn’t consume one more thing.

Previously they thought. No, they knew things were going to change. They knew things would soon be very different, but this different? Not this kind of different.

Confidence and excitement were now just a blur replaced by angst and fear. They could vaguely recollect some things said, but it was mumbled in their heads with far-off interior voices.

Who, what, when, why, how? These cycling questions wouldn’t stop. They wouldn’t stop queuing in their brains.

As they looked over at each other, the ‘connection line’ began to thin. Their reason for being ‘with him’ ‘with her’ was gone. Common ground was now starting to have the appearance of foreign soil. Would they still be friends? Could they get through this? Did they even care anymore? Was being here with ‘them’ even safe?

Phrases like; ‘I hoped,’ ‘I knew,’ ‘I couldn’t wait,’ ‘did you see it when?’ ‘He healed him,’ ‘Oh and look. Lazarus, back from the grave!’ These phrases exited their mouths with almost every exhale.

This was a house of confusion, a house of mourning.

This was Friday, but it didn’t feel Good.

Dumped On

There is no other way to say it. “This last week we got dumped on.” The Great Canadian North backed the truck up, filled the telescopic rod with hydraulic fluid and let ‘er’ go. Services stopped, vehicles were stuck, people were sent home, and the dig-out started and lasted all week. We had been prepped the week before with a practice run, but the alert for this last week somehow eluded us.
In my conservative opinion, small ‘c’ not to be confused with our political, which is our second or third favourite past-time, I think we got more snow in this last week than we did all last year. But, I’m no weatherman.
Life as we know it had to stop and alter its course. Some of my ‘usual’ got canceled, and that affected others and delayed their arriving home which rippled all the way down to the babysitter, who may have been cheering for the extra dollars; or, maybe not.
Things changed, babies were conceived, at least that is true from the last dump that happened here several years ago, and life had to reorient if only for a moment.
All that rearrangement, without apology, for gentle white snow that landed with a wallop.
What about you?
Have you ever been dumped on, I mean metaphorically speaking?
Have you ever had to alter, reorient, change, or stop life as it is to redirect?
Probably if you haven’t, you are barely old enough to read. If you have lived life in the real world, the chances are high that the telescopic rod has lifted and thrust its load your way.
So, what do you do when life unloads on you in a moment of time?
The first thing you’ll do is to stop. You’ll probably have to. Once you have picked up your shovel, snowblower, or backhoe, you begin to sort your way through the mess. But, when the mess keeps coming, that is when you will need to try a different tactic.
Take Job, pronounced ‘Jobe,’ for example. Here is a guy who has a book by his name contained within the Bible. He got dumped on. Just when he thought he had more than he could bear, the ‘B’ train unloaded.
Job handled his life and his tragedy with amazing patience and trust. You can catch this fantastic example and the message from this ancient stalwart of a man. Forty-two chapters, which is about thirty-six pages, maybe an hour and a half read, or two coffees will impact your life exponentially. Try and read it in one go; you’ll be glad you did.
Then, you can also catch some of my thoughts on this from Conflict #5 in my online book, Path Out – Eliminate the Swirl. Just follow the links.

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Address The Mess Series: Intro

So, I was raised in a religious family culture that pretended to deal with mess. Oh, if it was on the obvious top five, or on the faux pas list, as long as it was the other person, it was exposed and dealt with in great manipulative, religious style. But, if the mess were on ‘my,’ the person’s in control, shame list, the embarrassing, face-saving list, depending on whose face was being saved, you would be told to forgive and forget about it.

A prayer would be given, and hushed ‘biblical’ counsel would quickly be cited.

“… Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14, NIV)

The idea was that the bible supports dropping and leaving important things with a prayer. If that text weren’t enough, you would be given another.

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17, KJV)

The bible was used to silence pain and create shame misrepresenting the passage and misrepresenting a loving, healing, and forgiving God.

A rule-keeping setting such as what I grew up in is a ripe environment for pain and shame to flourish. Many people experience life-long struggle trying to get over the dominating guilt-induced system of yesteryear.

I’ve come to learn that you cannot forget what you continue to relive on a daily basis.

I’ve also come to know that you can move on and sometimes even forget, once you have stared down and addressed the intimidating and overwhelming.

It really is possible for a person, you, to heal, be restored and be renewed, like it never happened, having the pain, shame, and humiliation gone.

Over the next days/weeks, I want to talk about what that process looks like. I want to talk about how you can walk free and live totally well.

My new book, Path Out – Eliminate the Swirl will serve as a tool in this process.

(Here’s how you can get a copy. https://philsovdi.com/book-offer/)

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The very first step to moving out of the swamp and milieu of inner despair is to call it what it is. You need to address the mess, “My life in this area is a mess. I’m no longer hiding, no longer protecting, and no longer excusing the mess. I will, with God’s help take the journey to health and wholeness. So God, will you come right now to me in the middle of my mess and help me? In Jesus powerful name, amen.”

Joseph Series: Family Games

Joseph knew his family’s dysfunction, his brother’s propensity to lie and deceive. He knew that they only lived for their agenda. He didn’t know that it had changed.

Families play games.

My wife and I do, but we do it on purpose, with our kids now adults, and with delightful intent. We’ve done it their whole lives. For the most part, they loved it! How do I know? I told them so. Ha.

It’s the family games that everyone denies that has me greatly concerned. In fact, they aren’t games at all; they could more accurately be called deceptions, family code, and elephants in the room.

You know what I’m talking about. It’s the demand that you fit into your role when you are with the family, the way that you act when your buttons get pushed; and no one can push your buttons like your parents and siblings. It’s the stuff no one will talk about, but everyone knows it’s there. And, you and your family do it every time!

Enter Joseph. Joseph was thirteen plus years removed from the family dysfunction, game, code, and he had to know if the code was still in play. He went to quite some length to make sure things had changed. Joseph tested his brother’s in their most vulnerable spot. He for lack of a better term pushed their buttons. Any future with them, had they not changed, would not have been pretty.

Joseph was satisfied to the depth of his emotions that change had come. What a delightful moment.

Thirteen years had taken its toll on the brothers, on Jacob, their father, as well as on Joseph. The brothers had come to realize that their shameful behavior had cost their family deeply.

They came forward and owned their stuff.

This action gives us an awesome picture of repentance. It was almost that the brothers were getting in line to say, “If there is any blame here it is to fall on me, I’m the one.”

Whether they grew into this or got forced into this through circumstances, they owned it.

In absolute humility they prepared for their fate, they couldn’t expect anything else.

This moment overwhelmed Joseph. I don’t think he could have hoped for such a spectacular outcome. Spectacular happens when such depth and hurt get healed.

So in this story, we see a beautiful picture of repentance and forgiveness. One is not complete without the other.

So this begs the questions?

What do you have to own?

What do you have to forgive?

The Joseph Series: – Relationally Emotionally Bankrupt

It was that bad!

Don’t you just love/hate when someone gets removed from a situation then they begin to downplay, minimize, or outright falsify the story. “It wasn’t that bad they say.” This forms a pattern and often happens in a cycle of abuse. Once they are out of the terror of the moment, they capitulate and regress on their resolve, and back on the merry-go-round, they go again.

Joseph didn’t get that chance. He moved from bad to worse, to worse, to worse again, and then he was plunged into the worst of it all. He didn’t have time to capitulate or regress. Can you hear him, “You intended to harm me…you actually meant to hurt me… How come you hurt me, you are my brothers? Why don’t you love me?” then around it would go again. Joseph’s cycle was dealing with the facts, not pretending they didn’t happen.

Rejected; abused; lied about; humiliated; abandoned; cast off; demeaned; treated as wholly insignificant; sold, Sold, SOLD; bewildered; hurt; angry; despondent; grief; loss; shock; depression; denial; lonely; all alone; dirty; damaged; mocked.

It was that bad. It really happened. It really hurt badly!

Joseph was forced to be alone and had to process.

Where do you find perspective? Where do you find the will to live another moment?

Recently I wrote the online book, Path Out – Eliminate the Swirl. Get the book, and I will help you process. The book is available through following the links on this site or at Amazon.ca.

We are told that it took thirteen years for Joseph to come up for air. Thirteen years is a long time to process. He did it well, but first, he had to deal with the stuff that he had to process.

Tragically we can miss the depth if we just read it as a nice informative Sunday school story, or if we just moralize it and throw in a pithy saying or two.

There is a real help for real hurt. There is a real process for real emotional damage. There are strong, reliable aids within the depths of this story that will restore your years.

Let me help you.

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The Joseph Series: Sometimes It Gets Bad

There was disdain that the brothers had built toward Joseph; legitimately it could be called hatred. Joseph was his father’s favourite and his brother’s bane. When Joseph was sent to check on his brothers, and they spotted him coming a long way off, they plotted to kill him. Well, most of them.

Joseph was sent by his father to see how the brothers were making out with the family business of shepherding. They had relocated many kilometers away, and in a day with no communication resources, Joseph was the communicator between home/dad and his sons.

A couple of these brothers had previously committed mass murder, it was in their history, and now all but one brother was ready to kill Joseph. Rueben pleaded and they compromised by attacking Joseph, stripping him of his robe, and throwing him into a waterless pit. No sooner did Joseph hit the bottom that they sat down and ate their meal. Heartless. It was just another day in their wilderness, tending sheep.

The brothers, with the exception of Rueben intended to leave Joseph there to die.

Joseph was guilty. Of what? He was guilty of previously sharing his dreams and goals as he tried to find a place within the family dysfunction. He was also guilty of receiving an inordinate amount of favouritism from his father. He had the robe, the Dreamcoat to prove it. Joseph was the firstborn son of Rachel, the wife that Jacob had loved more than the other wives.

Animosity was not new to this brood. The family’s distain and contempt had been growing for a long time.

Unaware and totally naive, Joseph walked straight into the ambush. He was the easy target of a family that was full of anger, disunity, unrest, and deception.

Insult to injury, the brothers had a twisted moment of conscience. They decided, rather than kill him, sell him to a traveling caravan of Ishmaelite’s.

Joseph sold for eight ounces of silver. At today’s price, his life was worth $147.52.

For Joseph, this was not a good day. However, he was able, through thirteen years of processing, to get an accurate perspective. But, it was equally not a good day for his brothers. They just didn’t know it yet.

Much later Joseph said this before he died, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Genesis 50:20, NIV)

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Beauty for Ashes

Beauty for Ashes

Due to the fact that in the last three days a fire has ravaged our city, and around 80,000 people have been displaced, I wanted you to see this.

-And, considering the that in the last three days we have become homeless, for at least the foreseeable future, I think that this scripture from the Old Testament is amazing.

Look at the application of this scripture in Isaiah, 61:1-3, (NIV.)

From this text, I think that our best days are ahead of us.

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.

They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.

Will you believe with me for this? It can happen for you. I want to see for everyone, “…beauty for ashes…” What an incredible hope?

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How Can Pain Be Good?

Dr. Paul Brand, leading doctor in the breakthrough study of Leprosy in the 70’s and 80’s credited the absence of pain as one of the main contributing problems of this disease. A lack of sensation causes a leprous person to damage their body unwittingly.

It occurs to me that some of us may have removed pain from our emotional docket. Because of incredible, at the time insurmountable hurt we thought it best to not ‘pain’ anymore. For many, that would seem to be a logical decision. Close off to hurt, close off to pain. It’s the childhood vow. “I will never let anyone get close to me again!” After a rape or abuse or extreme humiliation, who would?

Leprosy has done this in the ravage of its disease. It has stopped the pain mechanisms in the body over time of those affected and thus enabled the damage that we have seen in the pictures. Medically it has been battled and has dropped from worldwide millions in the 80’s to hundreds of thousands today. But I wonder how many millions perhaps billions of people have emotionally stopped feeling. How many impenetrable walls erected? How many blockades placed?

At the time, these looked like protection but have proved to be tactics of isolation and loneliness. Eliminating pain can be so damaging and destructive, life altering and sometimes ending.

Today, just for the moment, would you be willing to feel again? Would you be open to taking the path out of your past to begin new?

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You Don’t Have To Live; You Get To!