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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

I am so LUCKY to be with You! (really?)

I’ve written about how my husband and I almost got divorced a few months ago. Recently, I realized I still had some baggage about that. Here’s the astonishing truth I learned: I was angry at Him because I felt unworthy. Part of my anger was because I felt guilty.
    When I got married I was already practicing taking inventory of my thoughts, my motives, and my actions.  Yet my inventory seemed to be missing an important segment.  I knew my flaws and my emotional baggage.  I felt broken, and lucky. I felt lucky to be married to a wonderful man who treated me with kindness and understanding,   listened patiently (truly patiently, not trying to be patient and seething beneath the surface) and created safety for me to process things and heal. He also never leaves the toilet seat up, cleans up after himself, does all the laundry, grocery shops (better than me at times), is active in our church, leads our family in prayer and scripture study, takes the kids to the park, takes me out on dates, etc. Sounds pretty great, huh ladies? He is. He is great. I felt lucky.


Here’s how I viewed myself in comparison: grumpy, messy, scatter-brained, broken, a burden, hard to understand, hard to live with. It was a huge surprise to me when I stopped blaming him and criticizing him and realized what a great guy he is to realize that I am pretty amazing myself. Even with my flaws, there had to be someone who loved the whole package of me and didn’t find it a burden to live with me. This may seem like common knowledge...but it was like the heavens opening up and angels singing hallelujah to me when I realized this. Do you feel LUCKY to be married to your spouse or to have good friends? I felt lucky because I felt unworthy. There is a difference between felling grateful and feeling lucky.


When I realized this my whole world changed. I believe I began to see myself as God sees me. I saw the whole package without pretending away my flaws or exaggerating my strengths and it was not so bad. I realized I had been staying with my husband because I believed I was so unworthy that no-one else could stand me. While I may be unworthy to enter God’s presence without Christ to cover my sins, I am of infinite value and worth in God’s sight and never below or above any human being. This morning I get to revisit this again because there were some left-overs of it in my soul that I get to release now. My worth and value are incalculable and I am blessed to have a great husband and other great loved-ones, and they are likewise blessed to have me. Our weaknesses and strengths both serve each other in this process of growth in mortality and we are all blessed to be in each other’s lives because life is a gift.


     On the flip side: are there people in your life who you deem "lucky" to have you? Do you feel yourself a "cut above the rest"?  Why do you think you need to feel that way?  Why does anyone need to feel lucky to be with someone?  In my egocentric moments I thought my husband was lucky to be with me and I created this to counteract how unworthy I felt to be with him, I also created the "lucky to be with you" to balance the egocentricity.  All of this is a comparison issue.  It's none of my business how another human being is doing in their progress in comparison to me.  I believe there will be a day of judgement and that I will have nothing to do with any one's but my own.  God will judge us individually according to his perfect knowledge of us.  It will not matter how we fared in comparison, just what we did with what we were given.

     This life is such a gift when we let go of pain, resentment, fear and justifications we can see the beautiful masterpiece God created.  Half of the conclusions we draw about other people are in defense of something we are uncomfortable with about ourselves.  We create caricatures to justify ourselves, we label others motives to discredit them because they point out something we are unwilling to see, unwilling to acknowledge and change.  We inherently know that when we see a problem in our behavior (outward or inward) we are responsible to change it and we go to great lengths to avoid it sometimes.  Let it go.

     We assign so much shame to things. It makes it hard to recognize that all that is needful is to acknowledge and change course.  We get to feel guilt (pain) just long enough to recognize error, change gear and let it go.  Beyond that guilt becomes shame and damns our progress by skewing our view, we are continually looking for a way out of a pit that we are no longer in.  Have you ever had a child beg and plead for something you are more than willing to give them? If they'll just stop long enough they'd realize it's in your hand right in front of them and all they need to do is stop begging and take it?  I think that's what it may be like for God when we are constantly trying to be forgiven from something and sinking into shame.  Acknowledge, ask forgiveness, accept healing through the atonement, change, let go, move forward.  It's that simple. We just overcomplicate it.

   I am so grateful for the love and acceptance I feel as I recognize who I am and declutter all I am not.  I am grateful to know that I am of worth because I am of God.  As I remember who I am, it becomes easy to recognize the rest for what it is and to let it go.  I am enough without it.



Liz King Bradley
Public Speaker, Healing Coach, Author

Sunday, November 20, 2011

God, I Can't do That, What will People say?

     I have been faced with a dilemma.  I have been prompted to do and say things that could trigger some unpleasant interactions with others...at least some distance from people.  I made a choice I decided to tell God, "I love you more than I'm afraid of them."  Then because I know that the power they have over me is because I'm depending on them to love me, I said to myself, "I love you more than I'm afraid of them."  POWERFUL!  Deep, down power, the kind of certainty that lets you jump those hurdles, climb those mountains and wear those fishnet tights. :) (I love my fishnets, and now I wear them...to church, even.)  How many ideas has God given you that you squashed with people fear?  How many genius solutions have you pushed aside with your self-fear?  How many books DIDN'T you write because you believed no one would read them?  How many people have you NOT helped because you feared people more than you loved light and truth?  Yeah, I don't want to know your answers.  I know mine.  A friend of mine introduced a great replacement affirmation.  When she thought "What if_________?",  She replaced it with "So what, if________."  What will you say ,"So what..." to today?

Liz King Bradley
Public Speaker, Coach, Author

Friday, November 18, 2011

Wearing the Right Glasses


  All of us have a unique perspective.  As we travel through life we pick up “glasses” through which we choose to view people and events. Some of these lenses are, skepticism, optimism, pessimism, and Charity (the pure love of Christ).  We use each of these lenses for a reason, with a purpose.  The skepticism helps us to carefully scrutinize a situation to discern the best possible course of action and to avoid interactions with people who intend to abuse us or our gifts, it’s our shield.  Optimism allows us to take risks with people and situations in life providing space for building trust in ourselves and others as well as providing space for personal growth.  We use pessimism, when we have been burned a few times and are without hope and feel the need to be protected from life.  Last, we use the lens of Charity.  When we view people through the lens of Charity allows us to see people for who they really are, and what they really intend to be.  The lens of charity can only be formed through the atonement of Christ.  All the other lenses we use use can contribute to the lens of Charity when we apply the atonement of Christ to our own lives and to the way we look at others.  The atonement refines and utilizes the BEST qualities from each of these perspectives and creates a perspective that is most true, the final product of the refinement of these perspectives is Charity.  
Only Christ who never did anything wrong and had no need to change his perspective in order to protect himself from his own guilt or from seeing the guilt of others has clear enough judgement to make ours clear.  He experienced humanity in it’s beauty and ugliness and saw each for what they were.  He sees us for who we are.  In relationships whether personal or business, seeing through Charity means that I acknowledge and do not pretend away weaknesses in myself or my clients, friends, family, spouse, etc. but that I also see the divine and beauty in them.  Does this mean I allow everyone to be in my inner circle of trust?  Does it mean that I allow everyone to partake of my gifts? No.  It means that I harbor no resentment for people, but I also draw a clear line.  When the Savior threw the money changers out of the temple, he showed us  clearly that those who seek to utilize the gifts we share in selfishness and greed and abuse us are to be kept from us. Did He die for them too?  Yes.  While His love is unconditional the blessings of his presence and His gifts are conditional on our willingness and diligence in treating Himself and the gifts He gives with reverence.  When he gives a great gift, He requires great diligence.  The atonement provided a way for us to retain and regain our gifts when we screw up, it didn’t give us a ticket to abuse and use one another and disrespect the Gift.  
Here’s what this looks like in relationships:      My husband has been a complete jerk at times.  He has completely disrespected my efforts and sacrifices.  He has denied me forgiveness at times (it takes him longer to process pain), He has said insensitive things, etc.  A few months ago we were moving and when he left ahead of me, made no provisions for me and the kids to have money.  He made arrangements for himself, but not us.  Sounds pretty rotten, huh?  It felt pretty rotten too, and I was really angry and hurt by it.  Let’s look at this from another side.  I am a grown woman.  I did not prepare and make provisions for myself, either.  I dug myself into a pit by turning a blind eye to my own needs and those of my kids.  Part of this creation took place through and internal and unconscious habit of creating situations where I could be the victim and show everyone what a martyr I was.  While I was busily making myself into a martyr I turned him into a villain.  I’m not taking responsibility for His choices, but that is between him and God.  I knew from past experience how much work it is to repair and clean a house for a move, but I failed to make the proper, timely arrangements for the assistance I would need.  The only request I made for help was a post or message on FB to a few friends, the day of.  I didn’t call people in advance, I didn’t organize it.  Part of this was my pride, I was busy trying to prove how self-reliant I was.  Then when I had the help of a few friends who I am deeply grateful to, I still had to be at the house cleaning and fixing things for 15-16 hours per day (there until 3 am).  My kids were well cared for at this time by two close friends.  I was SO angry and hurt at my husband, but I had learned to be accountable for my life, so I looked for what I had done to create this and I identified the problems I just described and set up new boundaries.  I would never again do packing or final house cleaning and I wouldn’t expect my husband to either, I would hire it all out.  My prayers for comfort brought me peace and comfort and the answer, “Don’t go back.”  
I was no longer angry with my husband at this point and saw him for the great person that he is, but I also recognized that I had not been happy for a long time and that if I was to be happy in or out of my marriage I had to be more clear in myself about who I am and what I will and will not do.  I realized that the resentment that I harbored for him was, in part, because I was blaming him for a lot of choices that I had shoved off onto him using his position as head of our home as an excuse to never have to be accountable for making wrong choices myself. In previous times I had made all the decisions myself in order to prevent situations where I might need to forgive Him.  I also realized that I hid things from people in fear of their judgement of him....because I had already judged him.  
Not that my husband is a saint, but he has been loving and kind to me throughout our marriage.  He has not always been the most provident provider, but he has worked very hard at it. He also does all the laundry, insists on it, never leaves the toilet lid up, never leaves his clothes or anything of his laying around, he takes the most active role as playmate for the kids I have ever seen, our intimacy has always been respectful and tender, he has always been sensitive to me.  He is active in church responsibility and serves others and reaches out in friendship to those who struggle.  Clearly I married a great man, but I was miserable with him because of the lens I viewed him through.  When hard things happened, when he screwed up I had closed the doors of my heart to him and every mistake he made I added  to my case file against him to justify my closure instead of having to risk pain.  I took personal responsibility on the surface, but secretly harbored resentment towards him, reasoning that he should take more personal responsibility.
During our separation I was only putting off divorce because the state I was in required a 6 month residency in order to file.  My reasons were typical, we just aren’t right for each other, I don’t expect him to change, he’s a great guy, but we aren’t good for each other.  These were all true statements, but there really weren’t concrete reasons to end our marriage.  I also claimed a testimony in the atonement of Christ, but I wasn’t using it to heal my marriage.
During this period I went to an Energy Healing class and the Teachers were also teaching a marriage class, I took that too.  During that course as I healed some of my own false beliefs and pain I began to see him even more clearly and with compassion.  As I turned more to the Savior for healing my frame of mind changed.  One night as I was talking to my husband and apologizing for the harsh words I’d said and other things.  We were talking about the early days of marriage and child-rearing it was like a blanket of light fell over all the memories of our past years and the pain and resentment disappeared and left only beauty, peace, and light.  The beauty, peace and light had been there the whole time, but my lenses were so clouded by fear, resentment, guilt and pain I had not seen it for years.  I couldn’t get healed for all those years because I was praying for Rob to change and the changes needed to be in me.  When I started to take accountability the healing began and I started to see myself as God sees me and Rob as God sees him, and Rob became irresistable to me again. I saw that he was a precious gift given to me by God to assist me in the healing I had already experienced in myself.  I began to feel giddy about being with him! It was better than when we were engaged because I knew him better and loved him even more.
I did not save my marriage by being accountable and turning to God, but together with God we did.  Rob’s part in this story is his to tell, he learned his own lessons and experienced His own miracles, but the only part I get to tell, the only part that is my business is the side that I lived. All that matters is that I became accountable, and got the healing I needed.  Truthfully, I found that in that space where I was able to stand with God and see myself as I am, I became able to see Rob as he is and it no longer mattered to me whether he ever changed.  When I stopped seeing him as the carricature that I had created in my mind to justify my own pride and lower-self behavior I became able to connect to him deeply and fully.  Before that it was like trying to hug a shadow...can’t do it, there’s nothing there.  
The X-factor in relationship healing and strengthening is God.  That path to him begins with accountability, and the power to succeed on the path is the atonement of Christ. In Marriage true strength comes from two wholes trusting in God, not two halves trusting in each other.
The best model for success in any relationship is to take accountability before God and the other person, asking God what he requires of you to make it right and asking for him to breach the gap through the atonement.  One of the steps on our path to accountability and healing in our marriage was a Seminar we attended with Tony Purcell.  I have also since been blessed to work with his wife Abby in creating deeper connections to my kids as well.  I’m sure you realize that there’s no way you can live in a disjointed marriage without having disconnection with your kids too.


Connect yourself to God and the God in you will come through and reveal to you the God (or good) in others.


Sincerely,
Liz King Bradley
11/18/11

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Comfort in Times of Pain

   Whether it is labor and delivery, grieving over the loss of a loved-one or a broken bone.  There is comfort in knowing we are not alone.  The point at which we think we can handle no more is the second before we receive all we need.  This is true of bringing babies into the world and it is true according to all my experience and the experiences I've heard from others.  It is that moment when we stop struggling that the light flows in.  Is it that the light suddenly appeared, or that we finally opened our eyes to see it?  No matter the process, most can agree that the light DOES come in and whether we are delivered from the pain or strengthened to bear it we are given what we need.  In my younger years of parenting the pain was the stress of trying to meet so many needs at one time. (I had five 6 and under.)  There were days I felt abandoned and forsaken by God, and I would take this anger and frustration to Him.  He never condemned me, he simply wrapped me in His love and seemed to understand.  His love would melt away the frustration and it meant EVERYTHING to know He was there and I was never alone.  My husband was deployed for much of these years, so God was my "spouse" in a way.  He is ALWAYS my children's father (the father of their spirits), and He is always mine.  When God, with His infinite love, comes to us in our finite need the pain and despair are dissolved and we are left with greater strength than we thought we could have and somehow keep walking into another day.  Pain is a beautiful thing in hindsight, because in hind sight we see God in it.

Liz King Bradley
11/17/11

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

"Mother Guilt" at 5 AM

  I dedicate most of my posting on this blog to how we treat ourselves and knowing who we are.  In truth, when we really see ourselves for the beautiful, powerful Daughters of God that we are there is no fear of defeat because we know that God will help us and we will eventually conquer, we'll even be highly effective parents! Sounds too good to be true, right?  Here's what I am faced with at 5 o'clock in the morning.  Last night I completely blew my top at my kids.  Worse...I almost enjoyed it (the power I was deceiving myself that I had).

 I didn't enjoy the yelling, of course, because my divine self was telling me the whole time, "You're doing it the wrong way and this hurts them and me." Yet, because I was in a state of fear this was all I could think of to do.  Truthfully, we all have it in us to be the rockstar parents we dream of being, remember those days...or moments when you just KNEW you were knocking it outta the park, the message was getting through and you felt comfortable with the method?  We really know what to do, but we become lazy and then we listen to the lie in our minds that says "I don't know what to do?" The insane thing is that in that moment when you're yelling and threatening in order to CONTROL (not guide) there is this crazy idea:  They aren't listening, they never listen- oh my gosh I'm a bad parent because my kids won't listen to me- (yelling louder now), they're going to grow up and not know how to take care of their own property, if they don't get this done today, it's never going to get done and.....etc. Oh, and one more thought that is almost always in the back of my mind when I go on this kind of tirade: "What will people think?"

I know the danger of thinking about what others think of me, a) it is NONE of my business, b) I am trespassing when I try to get into other people's heads, c)when I do that it's like taking all my value, worth, and connection to God and placing it in someone else's hands...they don't want it (ok some might, but those are NOT peeps I want to spend much time with because they feel smothering), they don't need it, and how dare I push off onto them such a heavy burden that is made for me and only I can carry, and truthfully I cannot carry it alone, but through Christ. So the tirade goes on and on and on, until YOU/I stop it and start consciously replacing the long list of lies, or merciless judgement with the truth, because all this was a voice of fear and despair.

In my case, I sent the kids to their rooms, while I calmed down.  When my kids were very little we had a codeword that meant "I need time a lone to calm down because I can't think of a single nice way to behave right now." I would say "Crazymom is coming."..ok that's a code phrase, but it worked.  I told them this because I knew that my issues were boiling up under me and I needed time to process so I could treat them with the dignity, love and respect they deserve and that I deserve to give them.  Now that our family life is less hectic (they are older and take most care of themselves) I forget sometimes, that "CrazyMom" is trying to come out.  Truthfully I thought I fired her, but apparently I still think she's useful and I need her.  I actually don't because I only pull her out in order to control, not to teach, nurture, guide, direct and SAVOR my children.  Here's the steps I took last night that worked:

BREATH

1)Stop,

2) Pray, for peace, clarity, guidance, remembrance, angels to bring in light (of Christ)...etc.

3) Create space to think (send the kids away as nicely as possible, or just go in your room, etc.)

4) Evaluate thoughts and feelings and replace lies with truth (writing them down is a powerful tool for more permanent correction) (btw thinking you can't take the time to process this is another lie because until you do it will never be corrected)

5) Identify the thought or belief and feeling that triggered all the rest, correcting that one will help you PREVENT it from happening again.
* The most common trigger feelings are guilt, shame, fear-and they usually center around thinking what others will say or think about you, but sometimes it's fear of failure before yourself and God...Remember with God on your side (and he is always on our side, He always desires us to succeed) and the divinity He placed in you you cannot fail, not permanently.

6) Consciously choose to accept and love yourself, in the moment, even in the error in behavior. Still refuse to embrace lower-self behavior, but embrace yourSELF.

7)Go back before God in prayer. Seek His forgiveness and the power to change this pattern.  I often use visualizations to help with this.  I picture myself standing before Christ and handing him that thought or belief that lead to undesirable actions and I feel His love for me as he replaces my darkness with light and strength to overcome this behavior.
If I truly do not know, consciously, how to handle the situation, I get help.  I talk to friends, family, my husband, I read books.  All of this information is sent through my "spirit filter".  If it doesn't resonate and fill me with peace, joy, and love, I keep looking until I find something that does.
More often than not, the answer is not in a method, but in a change of the way I think about a situation.  Remembering who I am and who they are is the surest way for me to stop justifying dark behavior and treat myself and my children with love and light and forgiveness.  Doing a meditation on "Who am I, really? is a powerful tool in this setting. As we re-align ourselves to our divine, spirit self, we align ourselves to God and to the divine spirit selves of our children.  In that space we can sense instinctively what is needed and proceed with faith, love, and confidence.

Here's what this meditation looks like:
Create quiet space for yourself. (for some people there is music that helps quiet their mind and soul, if that works for you, use it)
Take three deep breaths through your nose and DEEP into your diaphragm (bottom of stomach/abdomen)
Concentrate inward to the center of yourself.
Imagine a beam of light, see it's color, identify it's feeling
Realize that this part of you is eternal, and knows all things and can bring into your physical mind the remembrance of what it is you need to do to become outside what you are on the inside: a divine eternal being filled with love and light from God.

The truth is that there is both light and darkness to be had in this world.  There are spirits of light, love, and Christ, there are spirits of fear, darkness, and Satan.  Remembering who we are reminds us that we came from light, our destiny is light and we get to teach our physical minds to trust, obey and seek light.  Within that light is a spirit of complete and unfailing forgiveness and love.  This is the influence I chose to follow, this is the influence that makes me an effective mother, this is the influence that creates unity in my home and safety for myself and my children.  We can create shields of light around ourselves and our children as we treasure up the truth about who we are and remember that the light in us is stronger than the darkness that confronts us.  Standing firm in the face of temptation, the temptation of self-loathing and fear of"not enough" (not having enough, not BEING enough) and declaring to ourselves and the principalities of the earth that we are daughters of God, who love and serve Jesus Christ and that His light is in us we become powerful and someday we will have conquered all the darkness that haunts us.  In the mean time, remember to call on God and his angels for the help you need and remember who you are.

~Live in light, Trust in God, Live Happy Now~

Love,

Liz King Bradley

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

God Loves YOU

    Perhaps the message most dear to each of us is the one we have struggled the most to live. The antithesis of the lies our tempters tell us:  "you're no good." "what's so special about you"  "you're worthless and without light"  "God doesn't want you, you've messed up too much"  "what have you got to offer that the world could not find somewhere else?"  "you are a personage of flesh and there is nothing more".  The truth that is in us shines brightly with the power and majesty of God and only when we believe the lies does it grow dim.  When God said let your light so shine before men, one of the things he meant was "Believe in who you are, that you are mine and testify it to the world that they may know that they are mine.  Give praise and glory freely that they may see the God in themselves."  We are infinitely good, infinitely special, we have endless possibilities to offer, we are full of light, God wants ALL his children and has provided a way through Jesus Christ that no sin is too much unless you want it to be, the message in you is as unique as the package that contains it, you were spirit before you were flesh and one day both spirit and flesh will meet God face to face sanctified and changed from mortality to immortality.  Only when we allow ourselves to forget these truths do our lights grow dim, it is then that we live in fear and hatred of our fellow beings in all hatreds many forms (jealousy, anger, pride, selfishness).  We are hear to learn and to prove one thing, that we will follow God in all things and submit our wills to Him, that is why "loving what is" sets us free, for "what is" is what God has created it to be for the benefit of our growth.  I'm not forgetting our personal responsibility to create our own lives, yet when it comes to creating there is none more powerful than God.  When we accept that, we accept God and he has long ago accepted us when His son died that we might live.  In repentance we do not change his feeling or attitude towards us, we change our attitude and feeling toward Him and become capable of receiving the gift he offers us freely.  The battle over Good and Evil is already won and God wants all to be on the winning side, even with Him to partake of the joy He has provided for each of us through the Holy sacrifice of His only begotten son.  Break free from the shackles of your own self doubt and dare to believe in the truth of the gospel that calls all people to light, and feel as the light washes over you relieving you from heartache and pain.

With all my heart,

Liz King Bradley
Torch-bearer for the Light of Christ
Coach and Speaker for Finding the Truth in YOU!