Chile Update #5

Have you ever spent a short amount of time with someone and thought, I think that person just changed my life?

Mel Hanna may be one of my heroes – at age 82 he is still faithful seeking God and fighting for the truth on the front lines. His words were gentle, clear and went straight to the heart. He was humble and inspiring!

There have been many relationships that have played huge roles in my life. Some have taught me hard lessons and others have helped me grow into the woman I am today. I can say that spending the last two weeks with Mel Hanna was a game changer for me.

Mel is a missionary who teaches on many different topics including our emotions and what God intended for them. He is the author of one of my new favorite books, Mood Food. I actually have read the book twice this month. Mel was serving here in Chile for two weeks. I was lucky enough to listen to him teach, share a couple of meals together, and my favorite time was spent picking his brain on our late afternoon walks.

Mel taught me so many things in what felt like such a short time, but I think the overall theme of our time together was relationships. God has been taking me into a process of understanding deeper relationships. How to trust people and open up my heart and life to people. I want to try to share some of the nuggets Mel passed on to me in our time together.

On one of our walks we talked about the difference between conversation and dialog. Conversations are not about the weather or the newest movie that has been released. Dialog is a gift! It involves shared interest to explore and seek insight. In dialogue we share our weaknesses and show respect and value.

At one point Mel had said, “We need people who are able to activate others Joy center.” Joy is an important emotion that has incredible power to heal and bring life. It seems so simple to me – your joy center is activated when someone is glad to be with you. He went on to say that is all it takes but your relational circuits must be turned on attune to another person and experience true Joy. I wanted to be sure my relational circuits were on so Mel gave me five quick questions to consider.

He asked me to think of a specific person. Got someone in mind? Now answer these five questions using that person’s name in the blank:

  1. Do I desire to be connected to ________?
  2. Do I see _________ as a unique, valuable relational being?
  3. Am I aware of _________ True heart?
  4. Do I feel concern/compassion for what ________ thinks and feels?
  5. Not seeing them as a problem to solve or a resource to be used.
  6. Am I glad to be with _________?

If you answered ‘no’ to any of these questions then your relational circuits are off towards that person. I used these five questions to look at a few of my relationships here in Chile. The results really amazed me. Most people my connectors were ‘on’ towards, but for a few people I had some ‘no’s’.

Our relationship connectors can be turned off for many different reasons. The question becomes, now that you know they are off, are you going to do the work to get them back on? This process seems so simple, but when you’re really honest you can learn a lot about what is going on in your relationships. I have so much more choice in relationships than I realized. I think it was easy to just say ‘some people you click with and others you don’t’.

God has been showing me so much about what is really going on in my relationships. I am so grateful Mel encouraged me to seek God about every person my circuits were turned off towards. To talk to Jesus about each emotion that would come up. God created us for relationships with Him and others. Mel Hanna perspective on emotions and relationships open my eyes to so much more. Our relationship was a gift!

My Maroon Sweater

God had shown me a few weeks back that I had a wrong believe deep inside of me.

I believed I could not choose to have relationship with people. In my belief system, someone had to choose me. I even went as far to believe my view was biblical. Jesus chooses us, men choose a wife – as far as I was concerned it made sense. I watched as I was growing up as strong women in my life picked men to marry. At least that is how I viewed it. They were unhappy and never fulfilled in life. So my belief ran deep – women should not choose. In order to have deep meaningful relationships and someday marriage, people or a man would needed to pick me. Then prove that they were trustworthy over long periods of time.

God began by showing me this was not how trust works. Yes, people need to earn our trust but there is a risk involved in relationships. We have to trust God in ourselves, guiding us, and trust Christ in others. I have been truly blessed by the deep friendships I have in my life. It took years to establish trust and for me to even begin to bring down my walls. I viewed these relationships as people who choose me and then stuck it out. God was asking me if I was open to new relationships. Challenging me to trust people.

My response is always ‘yes’ to God. I want to have deep meaningful relationships with many people. I just could not understand how I could choose. God next led me to a book – the title is “Why Not Women”. In the past I had actually avoided this book. I did not want to read about strong women in leadership roles. Because of what I had seen in the strong women in my family, I wanted to be the opposite of them, making vows to never do what they did or treat people they way they do.

This is a very slippery slope.

Thru this book, God began to reveal to my heart that all humans were created equal. Man and women were both created in his image. He was teaching me about mutual submission and the design he intended for marriage. I felt like I was seeing everything differently. Not only could I celebrate my femininity (that I loved) but honor the masculinity in men. God was empowering me to live out my calling. Women and men are both given gifts and both called to ministry. I don’t need to be afraid to lead because God has also shown me what it means to submit.

This transition did happen overnight, but I could see myself starting to understand what God was doing. I was so overwhelmed by his faithfulness and timing. I went for a walk with God yesterday after lunch, when He reminded me of the wrong belief I had found weeks before. I believed I could not choose and that people needed to choose me. In light of everything God has been showing me, I could see how ridiculous this belief was.

God asked me on our walk, “Do you believe you have a choice in who you trust?” YES.  “Do you believe you have a choice in who you marry?” YES. God gave us free will so that would be able to choose Him. There are so many areas we have choice in. God wanted me to understand I not only had choice about sin, choice about food, choice about my time – I also had choice in relationships.

What happened next is just the icing on the cake.

I thought as I made my way back home, what an incredible, patient, loving God I serve. He longs for me to know truth and to really get it. I have mentioned before one of the ways God moves a truth from our head to our heart is through a visional image. People in counseling sessions get pictures from God that solidify an experience saved in their deep memory bank, and moving it to their heart.

I went to my next counseling session filled with joy. I wanted to share with someone the revelation I was embracing as truth. It’s hard sometimes to say out loud the lies we have been living under, but everything inside of me believes bringing things into the light and saying them out loud has power.

At the end of our session we were praying for the things God was doing. My friend Estela said she felt like God wanted me to know that I do have choice! But more specifically He wanted to give me the desires of my heart. A few weeks back Estela had come to class wearing a beautiful maroon sweater. I had commented on how much I liked it and asked where she had got it. God led Estela to give me that sweater yesterday. It was of course hard to receive, and part of me felt bad about taking it. The image of the sweater, the tangible object in my hand, along with the words she had gotten from God for me, went straight to my heart.

God wants me to choose, he wants to give me what I want. The deep desires of my heart.