It’s Done!

 

Well, it took me long enough. But I’m finally a published author. Yay!

 

My book is titled Treasure Seeker Bible Study Workbook. This workbook shares the three-question study method I’ve been using for 15 years, walks you through an example of how to do it, and gives you multiple copies of the worksheet I designed and use for my personal study.

 

This method is simple, but very powerful. It’s the method I typically use for writing my blog posts.

 

MinistryMarketplace111415

The picture is of me with a framed copy of my cover. My graphic designer, and now friend, Sarah Delaney did a fantastic job on the cover. I love it!

And my friend Kimberly Martin, owner of Jera Publishing, did a great job formatting the interior.

The only entity that let me down was CreateSpace. They are running a week behind in their printing and weren’t able to get copies to me in time for a holiday market I was involved with last weekend. But I took orders and will deliver them in the next few days.

 

My workbook is available on Amazon and other online booksellers. Or if you live in the Kennesaw/Marietta area, I can deliver without any shipping charges.

 

And now . . . on to my next book . . . or three.

 

Model Prayer Overview

We completed our focus on the individual verses in the model prayer last week.

 

But there are a few things about the prayer in general that I would like to mention.

 

Over the last couple of years, I’ve learned a lot about God and my relationship with Him: how big He is, how much He loves me, that He is always for me, and how good a Daddy He is to His children. It’s not that I didn’t know any of those things before now. They’ve just been made plain through the teaching I’ve been under—more plain than I’ve ever heard them explained before.

 

And that knowledge has radically changed my relationship with God. And I think that’s why this prayer struck me totally different this time than any other time I’ve studied it.

 

This time I noticed that the model prayer is very positive. It’s not focused on negative things going on, and the language itself is positive.

 

I noticed that there is no begging or pleading. At all. It’s almost as if the person praying trusts God to answer His prayer and do what’s best.

 

I also noticed there is no repetition. Apparently the person praying expects God to be listening.

 

I also noticed there is not one request presented that’s followed by “if it be thy will.” There is a positive affirmation about God’s kingdom coming and His will being done—but there’s no “if” anywhere to be found.

 

And I realized, as I studied this time, that my praying has changed over the last couple of years. I believe that has everything to do with the fact that my relationship with God has changed based on what I’ve been learning.

 

I now know He is my good Heavenly Daddy who wants the very best for me. He is always listening. And I can trust Him to answer my prayers. They may not be answered like I want them answered. And they may not be answered based on my timetable.

 

But God will always answer my prayers in a way that provides what is best for me.

 

Because He is GOD. And He is GOOD.

 

Amen.

Color in the Box

For reasons I’m not sure of yet, God has been bringing the word “color” to my mind a lot the last few months. In fact, I get the sense that my 2015 is going to be very “colorful.” I’m not sure what that means yet, but I know His plans for me are good! So I’m excited about this new year.

 

Enjoy this rerun from a few years ago! It talks about “color.”

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A flower captured my attention the other day. It wasn’t an unusual shape or size. It was an unusual color. It was a beautiful rich, deep color that I couldn’t name immediately. It was too purple to be pink and too pink to be purple. I finally realized it was magenta.

Remember magenta? That beautiful color you only got in the 64-crayon box? The color you used in every picture? I’ve known magenta since I was a kid, yet didn’t recognize it in real life. It looked so different out of the box. It was rich, deep, vibrant. Alive. Real. Three-dimensional. It took time for me to realize what it was.

It reminded me of Romans 2:28-29. The connection isn’t obvious, but stick with me. It says, “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter, and his praise is not from men, but from God.”

God used this scripture in my life several years ago . . . when I was stuck on following rules, keeping commandments, checking off do’s and don’ts, working really hard to be a good Christian. God used it to show me that what I was ‘doing’ was not what He wanted. He doesn’t want a list with everything checked off. He wants my heart.

The commandments God gave the Israelites painted a picture of people in close relationship with Him—how they would honor God, how they would treat other people. But as time went on, the Israelites. . . just like me . . . got busy checking do’s and don’ts off their lists instead of spending time with their heavenly Father.

When God sent His son Jesus, He showed us ‘in the flesh’ how a close relationship with the Father plays out in real life. The Jewish leaders, who knew the commandments best, had the hardest time recognizing Jesus. They were looking for a rule-keeper instead of someone with a heart sold out to God–someone totally focused on God’s mission of loving people and changing the world. They didn’t recognize the 3-D version. He wasn’t the person they had imagined. He didn’t look like the color in the box.

It’s much easier to follow a list of do’s and don’ts than to have an intimate relationship with anyone, especially an invisible God.

But I don’t think we want to be just a color in the box.

National Champions

This time next week we’ll have new college football national champions–the Oregon Ducks or the Ohio State Buckeyes.

As the Southern saying goes, I don’t have a dog in this hunt (or a duck or a buckeye!). But I almost did.

I’m an Auburn fan and we were in the running for a little while this season. But then we started shooting ourselves in the foot. Or the wheels fell off the wagon. Any one of several Southern sayings could be used to describe our demise.

But four years ago, we were the national champions. And before that season started, I’m not even sure we were ranked in the top 25! It was almost like we were ‘destined’ to come out on top that year. And a lot of the games we played were excruciatingly close, with the lead changing a few times. Some of them were more like miracles than “W’s” in my opinion.

I’ve thought a few times about how much fun it would be to go back and watch the games from that season, in order, without looking up the final score. To watch them again, knowing in advance that after all was said and done, we were the champions.

I’ve also wondered about what it would have been like if the coach had told the players before that season ever began that they would be the national champions.

What if he told them that they wouldn’t have a perfect season—that there would be some very difficult quarters, halves, and games.

That they would have to play catch-up a lot.

That there would be injuries: some game-ending, some season-ending, some career-ending.

That some players would be benched because of bad behavior or poor attitude.

That the media would try to discredit some of them and divide them as a team.

But that some of players would SHINE.

In fact, some who didn’t even know the depth of their ability would be called on to do things they didn’t even know they were capable of.

And some would go on to win national awards and become team heroes.

And that because of all their efforts, the team would be the national champions and the team’s fan base would grow exponentially.

I wonder how the players would have responded.

How would you have responded?

I hope I still would have given my best—no matter my position or rank or ability or lack thereof. I hope I would have faced each game as a potential opportunity for me to be given a chance to SHINE—to become a team hero.

Being told the final outcome of the season wouldn’t have made the games less intense, less exciting. There still would have been injuries and substitutions and benched players and losses and awards and media attention—good and bad.

I think knowing in advance that the trophy was won would have given me more reason to do my best, every play of every game—to be a good example of a team player on a championship team. To play a clean game, but a fierce one.

I think I would have enjoyed a freedom to play with my whole heart out on the field, to show how ‘teamwork’ really works, to share what ‘all in’ is all about.

In case you haven’t guessed, I’m no longer talking about football. I’m talking about life—the life of those who follow Jesus.

God’s word tells us that at the end of ‘time’ as we know it, good triumphs over evil. Victory belongs to our God. And we will reign with Him forever.

But for now, we live in a war zone—and I’m not talking about the wars you hear about on the news. I’m talking about the invisible war. The spiritual war between darkness and light. We all have a part to play in this war. We all have battles to fight. Every day.

But we all have a choice.

We can play around, fighting half-heartedly and conserving our energy and emotion.

We can quit and let a substitute take our place while we take a break and wait for the game to end.

We can even act inappropriately and get benched by the Coach and have to sit on the sidelines the rest of the game.

Or every day we can suit up—put on our spiritual armor and pray and prepare and fight with our whole heart.

And if we happen to win any awards for being a team hero, it will be an honor to lay them down at Jesus’ feet during the big celebration—after the clock runs out.

Happy New Year!

Today I’m sharing a devotional I wrote a few years ago about setting goals instead of making resolutions. Hopefully it will give you some inspiration as you face a New Year.

I pray you and your family have a safe holiday and a blessed and prosperous 2015.

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Clean Dishes

Several years back, I stopped making New Year’s Resolutions. Instead of making resolutions, I started writing out goals.

I have found that if I write down my goals, I have a much better chance of meeting them. I learned this quite by accident.

Several years back I was going through a tough time in my life and didn’t like who I was or how my life was unfolding. So I took some time and wrote down some changes I wanted to see in my life. Some of the changes were financial, some relational, some had to do with my career, some had to do with emotional healing. There were several items on the list.

For the first few weeks, I would go back and read over the list every day. Then it became more sporadic. Eventually I forgot all about the list.

A few years later while packing for a move, I was cleaning out a desk drawer and ran across a notebook. As I was glancing through it, I saw the list.

As I read through it, I was amazed. I had accomplished everything on the list! I had totally forgotten about the list. I had not thought about some of the items on the list since I last looked at it.

But somehow everything on the list had been accomplished.

Since then I have created a list of goals for each New Year. And though I haven’t always completed all of them, my track record is much better than it used to be when I made resolutions on New Year’s Eve that were forgotten by end of January.

But this year I may do something different.

I just read a blog that I follow regularly and it’s making me think.

The blog talked about NOT setting specific goals but instead making it your goal to be the best version of you in the coming year. To be the person you want to be—in every situation you find yourself next year.

Instead of setting goals and focusing on attaining them, your one goal is just to be—to be the best YOU you can be.

Not a bad idea.

SMART goals are the kind of goals we have to set in the workplace. Our goals have to be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. S.M.A.R.T.

However, if all I did on my job was what it took to meet my SMART goals, I wouldn’t be a very good employee. There’s a lot more to doing a good job than just achieving a list of goals.

I think that’s what the blog I read was talking about.

We can set goals and focus so intently on meeting those goals that we miss out on living life well.

We can become so focused on external measurements of who we are and what we do that we start believing what we’re measuring.

We either start believing we don’t measure up because we’re not meeting all our goals. Or we start believing we’ve reached the summit. Either place is dangerous because we’re determining our value based on what we do, not who we are. We’re focused on doing instead of being.

This problem hasn’t been created by our fast-paced, media-driven, technology-crazed 21st century society. It’s been around a long time.

In fact, Jesus addressed it on multiple occasions. One example is in Matthew 23.

Jesus is talking to the teachers of the law and the Pharisees. These were the Jewish religious leaders of the day. And according to Jesus, they were only concerned with their appearance. They cared about how ‘good’ they looked. They did deeds that made them appear to be righteous in the people’s eyes.

But Jesus knew what they were really like. And He called them out on it.

In verse 25 He says, “You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.” In other words, you do whatever makes you look good on the outside.

These leaders were very focused on keeping the law. They followed the rules. They met their S.M.A.R.T. goals.

They were focused on external measurements and they believed what they measured.

But Jesus called them hypocrites, blind guides, snakes, a brood of vipers! In verse 23 he talks about how they fulfilled even the tiniest detail of the law but ignored more important matters like justice and mercy and faithfulness.

I think it’s very possible for me to do that.

In fact, I think I have done that. Maybe even this past year.

As I look over my list of goals for this past year, I am again blown away by how many I have accomplished. And none of them were evil goals. They were good goals. Things I’m proud to have done.

But that doesn’t mean I was the best me I could be. In fact, I think I may have been more focused on the externals than the internals.

And that’s NOT the goal I want to accomplish in the New Year.

Jesus has a remedy that He shared with those religious leaders in verse 26. He said, “First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.”

Good advice. I think I’ll take it.

So for the next year, I’m going to focus on the internals. On becoming the best version of me.

I’m also going to set some goals. And I will write them down.

But my main goal is allowing Jesus to change me from the inside out, becoming the best version of ME, focusing on the internals and letting that spill over into the externals.

Like the cup and dish Jesus talked about.

Got any dishes you need to clean in the New Year?

© Rhonda Fleming, 2012

Filler

A few weeks ago I mentioned a thought that came to me in the middle of the night. It’s still swirling around in my head. Here’s the thought:

“There is not enough human acceptance, affection, attention, or approval on earth to make up for your lack of an acute awareness of just how much God loves you.”

This thought reminds of the “God-shaped hole” concept. The idea that every person is born with a hole in their life that only God can fill. A longing only He can satisfy.

While I agree with that concept, I believe we need to go a little deeper.

I don’t believe having God in your life, having a personal relationship with Him through Jesus, automatically fills up that aching hole or satisfies that intense longing. I think it takes more than that.

I’m basing that statement on my own personal experience. For years–even decades–after I began my personal relationship with God, I continued to run around searching for something to fill up an aching emptiness in my life.

The sad thing is I apparently wasn’t aware of what I was doing or I’d have gone directly to God and asked Him to take care of it. Instead I looked everywhere else trying to find something or someone that could satisfy the intense longing that only the intense love of my Creator could provide.

I tried human acceptance. If only the right person or the right people would accept me, would include me, would like me . . . then I would be okay. Then I would feel like my life had purpose.

I sought human affection. If only this person would love me. If they would just want me and choose me . . . then I would feel worthy to be the person I was supposed to be.

I craved human attention. Since I wasn’t being accepted by the people I ‘needed’ to accept me and since I wasn’t being given affection by the people I ‘needed’ to choose me and love me, I unknowingly went about seeking attention from other people. I guess this was necessary in order to feel validated as a human being . . . because without attention from somebody, I felt like I was a waste of oxygen.

And when all else failed, I did whatever it took to at least gain people’s approval. I worked more than required, said yes to anything I was asked to do, and tried to anticipate other people’s needs and fulfill them before they even had a chance to take care of it themselves. Even if they didn’t approve of me, they would at least approve of my work . . . because it was excellent.

But none of it soothed the ache.

And it won’t for you either.

Without the very personal awareness of how much God loves you, the great lengths He went to in order to have a personal relationship with you, how many times He thinks about you every day, how intimately He knows you–and yet still loves you enough to die so you can live . . . until those are the thoughts that fill up your mind and until that is the knowledge that swirls through your spirit and until that is the backdrop for the life you live surrendered to Him . . .

You could possibly keep doing what I did for decades.

Use acceptance, affection, attention, and approval from other people as filler for a hole that God created in your life as His own place of residence. And there’s not enough of that filler in the entire world to even make a dent in the emptiness.

Falling Up

This is a very exciting week for me.

As you probably know, I’m a book coach and editor. I work with nonfiction authors in several genres, helping get books written and published that will change people’s lives.

Several months ago I met Connie Carey at a monthly meeting of the National Speakers Association – Georgia Chapter. She asked for my business card and contacted me soon after that meeting to discuss her book ideas.

Long story short, I was honored to work with Connie to help her choose her subject, organize her material, and then edit her book. And Thursday night I’ll be attending her book launch!

Her book is titled Falling Up: Lessons Learned on the Way Down. It’s an uplifting, inspirational book that you do not want to miss. In this book, Connie shares her journey of healing from the loss of her father to suicide. I knew Connie would do an outstanding job telling her story, but she far surpassed everything I was anticipating. You’ll want a copy of this book for yourself. But this is also a great book to share . . . especially with someone who’s been through heartache in their life.

And there’s more exciting news! Connie will be competing later this month in Malaysia at the International Speech Contest sponsored by Toastmasters, International. At the launch Thursday night I’ll get to hear the two talks she’ll be taking to Malaysia as well as the story behind her book. I think I know a little bit about that one, but I can hardly wait to hear it again!

Falling Up will be available on Amazon beginning Friday. Here’s the information on it. And you can keep up with Connie through her website at www.ConnieCarey.com.

Congratulations, Connie!!

Falling Up Front Cover

 

 

 

RELAUNCH!

Last week was extremely exciting for me.

Thursday my good friend and client’s latest book was published and became a best seller on Amazon!

My friend is Kim Hardy and RELAUNCH! is the sixth book she has written and published. But it’s the first one that I edited for her. And it’s the first one she has sold online.

And it’s the first one to make her a bestselling author!

But more important than all of the hoopla around the book being a best seller is the MESSAGE that’s in the book!

It’s a message that goes hand-in-hand with what we’ve been learning from Joseph’s life.

I can’t think of another Bible character who had such huge life challenges as Joseph. And yet he didn’t allow his circumstances to keep him down. He learned quickly how to RELAUNCH . . . right where he was . . . which is what Kim teaches us in her book.

From her personal experiences, Kim gives practical wisdom for getting past stuck and stress and going after our dreams! She shares five key strategies she used when she was stuck and stressed . . . strategies you can put into practice today to unleash your passion and start living your dreams.

 

Check out Kim’s book on amazon.com. I highly recommend it for you or anyone else who needs some encouragement, motivation, and practical instruction to help get unstuck.

And if you want to know more about Kim’s ministry, her website is KimHardySpeaks.com.

 

 

 

The Long Way Home

Healing Naaman and Me – Part 8

Then Naaman and all his attendants went back to the man of God. He stood before him and said, “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel.” – 2 Kings 5:15

When Naaman left Aram back in verse 5, he had one goal: to be healed of his leprosy.

And that’s usually our goal when we begin our journey toward healing and recovery. We just want everything back to ‘normal’ . . . whatever that looks like. We want our issue to be gone . . . our ‘but’ to be taken away. (See “What’s Your ‘But’?” post if this doesn’t make sense.)

However, God usually has a different goal.

And by usually I mean always.

God doesn’t enjoy us being in pain. But if we are in pain, God will definitely use it for His holy purposes.

I believe one of God’s main goals for our lives is for us to KNOW HIM. He wants an intimate relationship with each one of us. He wants us to get to know Him . . . to learn about His character . . . to find out how much He loves every one of us.

And He’s willing to use extreme measures to encourage us to build that relationship with Him.

After I had attended Co-Dependents Anonymous meetings every week for over a year, I felt like a different person. I had learned a lot about myself and my ‘but’ and I looked at life and relationships differently than I ever had before. I looked forward to the future and had developed healthier relationships than I’d ever had in my life.

But there was something missing. I knew in my heart that there was something more for me to do with my life. I knew there was a purpose that God wanted me to fulfill. And I was willing to do it.

There was just one problem. I didn’t have a clue what it was!

So I prayed. And I prayed. And I begged God to tell me. And I pleaded with Him. But I couldn’t get an answer.

It didn’t make sense to me. Here I was telling God that I was willing to do whatever it was He wanted me to do. Yet He wouldn’t tell me what it was.

Frustrated doesn’t begin to explain how I felt.

I remember praying that if God would just write out what He wanted me to do in the sky, I wouldn’t hesitate to do it. Or He could just send me a letter . . . or an email! Just do something, God, to let me know what it is that I’m desiring so hard to do!

I spent hours reading His Word, talking to Him about everything in my life . . . especially about Him letting me in on whatever purpose it was that He had burned into my heart.

In the meantime, I got involved with women’s Bible studies at my church. Eventually shy, quiet Rhonda who previously had no self-worth or self-esteem or self-confidence . . . and who previously wouldn’t talk if more than one person was around . . . began facilitating Bible studies.

That was WAY outside my comfort zone!

Eventually I was asked to write a Bible study, which I then co-led with one of the pastors of my church. I was asked to ghostwrite the incredible life story of one of our members.

And I started speaking to women’s groups. I spoke at women’s retreats and special events.

And then it hit me . . . all of this was the purpose God had placed in my heart.

He hadn’t written it in the sky or sent it in the mail. He had led me to it step-by-step over the course of a few years.

And the end result wasn’t just that I was finally fulfilling the purpose He created me for. The real end result was an intimate relationship with God that I could never have imagined.

You see, all those hours spent reading and studying His word looking for his will for me. All those prayers begging and pleading Him to let me in on His purpose for my life. All the seeking to find what it was He wanted me to do. All of that was His way of pulling me closer and closer to Him. Until I was so close that doing what He designed me to do was second nature.

And also second place in my life. Second only to my relationship with Him.

I don’t believe God’s major goal for our life is our healing. Or even fulfilling the purpose He created us for.

I believe His major goal for our life is an intimate relationship with Him. He wants us to know Him.

That’s His goal for me. That’s his goal for you.

And that was His goal for Naaman.

And God’s not in a hurry because intimate relationships take time.

Look at Naaman’s journey for instance.

  • Naaman’s army invaded Israel.
  • A young Israeli girl was taken captive.
  • This young girl was assigned to attend Naaman’s wife.
  • Naaman contracted leprosy.
  • The servant girl told Naaman’s wife that there was healing available through Elisha.
  • The king of Aram sent Naaman to the king of Israel for healing instead of to Elisha.
  • The reaction of Israel’s king sent Naaman further out of his comfort zone to be healed.
  • Elisha gave Naaman directions to his path for healing and restoration.
  • Naaman’s servants encouraged him to follow through with those directions.
  • God was faithful and healed Naaman when Naaman obeyed.

But the ultimate result of this journey is found in verse 15.

It’s not Naaman’s healing. It’s not the restoration of his body. It’s not his cleansing.

The ultimate result of the journey Naaman took is that he now knows that there is only one true God . . . the God of Israel.

That’s it. That was God’s purpose for Naaman’s journey. To get to know God.

God used everything in Naaman’s situation to bring Naaman into a relationship with Him.

And God wants to use everything in your situation to bring you into a closer relationship with Him. I believe that’s His main purpose for your current journey.

God’s goal for whatever ‘but’ is in your life is an intimate relationship with Him. For you to KNOW HIM. Healing may come sooner or later, but God’s focus is on your heart and on focusing your attention on your relationship with Him.

Wherever you are in your journey right now, remember . . . God has a plan for your situation. A plan that will bring you into a closer relationship with Him.

Your problem hasn’t caught Him off guard. He’s not scrambling to come up with a solution.

In fact, He had a plan before you even knew you had a ‘but’!

Surrender to His plan. Accept that your healing more than likely won’t be instantaneous. It will take you further out of your comfort zone than you want to go. It will take longer than you think it should. And it will cost more than you want to pay.

But also remember that the life you will live down the road will be worth the trip. The relationships you have will be priceless. The accomplishments you experience will be unbelievably fulfilling.

But most importantly, the relationship with God that is available through this process is more satisfying than anything else on this planet.

Let go of whatever is holding you back and take the next step on your path to healing and recovery.

I’ll see you down the road!

© Rhonda Fleming, 2013

A Real Friend

Healing Naaman and Me – Part 7

Naaman’s servants went to him and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’!” So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy. – 2 Kings 5:13-14

So Naaman’s mad. And headed back home. Back to status quo.

Going back home and bathing in his homeland’s rivers – even if he had to do it seventy times – would be more comfortable than bathing in a new river, in a foreign land, and exposing himself to strangers.

But Naaman’s servants caught up with him. Other translations use the words ‘came near’. We all need friends who aren’t afraid to come near, to get close to us when we’re behaving badly. When we’re overreacting. When we’re making decisions based on our emotions.

And notice that Naaman’s servants called him Father. To me that shows they cared about him. And he cared about them. He wasn’t just their boss, he was their friend. There was a loving, caring relationship between them, and they really wanted him to be healed. They wanted it badly enough to risk confronting him in his anger.

Now that takes a real friend.

We all need friends like that when we’re on our journey to healing and recovery. I didn’t have one when I started out . . . unless you count the therapist that sent me to the CoDA (Co-Dependents Anonymous) meetings! But I found one at those meetings. When we met, we immediately clicked. We had a lot in common. We were in similar situations. And we discovered we both liked to walk. So we started walking together at least once a week.

On those walks, we would share what was going on in our lives. That first year, things didn’t go well for either one of us. There were some really dark times. But for the first time in my life, I was willing to open up and share what I was really going through with another human being. That, in itself, was very healing.

We encouraged each other to keep going when things got tough. We reminded each other to speak up for ourselves and do what’s right instead of continuing to enable the dysfunction in our situations.

It took a lot of walks, a lot of miles, a lot of talking, but eventually our lives turned around. Our situations changed. We gained a healthy perspective about our lives up to that point. Our self-image and self-esteem grew and blossomed and we became women who knew their value.

We’re still good friends and we still go on long hikes and talk about what’s going on in our lives. We even remained close while I lived over a thousand miles away for six years. There’s a bond between us that can’t be broken. We went through Hell together. That kind of relationship can’t be replaced.

As you recall, Naaman had expected a big production and an immediate healing. That’s typically what we want to happen, isn’t it. I know I did. I wanted the people who were causing me so much grief to realize the error of their ways, repent, tell everyone involved they had been wrong, and get help for their issues.

Needless to say, it didn’t happen that way.

And I’m so glad it didn’t.

The healing and recovery process is rarely instantaneous. There are times when God does heal a situation or an issue in our lives immediately and we don’t have to deal with it again. But I believe those times are the exception, not the rule.

I believe that most of the time we have to take the long road to healing and recovery. We have to deal head-on with our issues. We have to learn to live with and around people who aren’t dealing with theirs. We have to take responsibility for what we’re responsible for. And stop taking responsibility when we’re not. And that’s a lot easier said than done.

Naaman’s servants asked him a very interesting question. If Elisha had told him to do some grand deed in order to be healed, would he have done it?

Naaman was used to doing grand deeds. He was a war hero. He was a valiant soldier. Give him a village to conquer and he would get it done. Give him a hometown to defend against an attack and it would be saved. Tell him to go conquer a neighboring country in order to be healed, and he’d be on it like white on rice.

But to have to humble himself, to keep going further out of his comfort zone, to reveal his weakness to total strangers, to consistently take small steps over and over again . . . that was just asking too much.

His servants . . . his real friends . . . helped him put the situation in perspective. And Naaman calmed down long enough to realize it was worth a try.

My friend and I took many steps . . . literally and figuratively . . . on our journey. Sometimes it was 3 steps forward and 2 steps back, but we consistently took the next step, were honest with each other, and encouraged each other along the way. That’s what brings healing and recovery: taking small healthy steps consistently until eventually it becomes the norm in your life.

That’s what Naaman had to do.

I love that it says he ‘went down’ because in order to heal and recover we have to be humble. If the circumstances your issues created haven’t humbled you enough, the journey to healing and recovery will . . . if you stick with it.

Elisha told Naaman to go wash himself seven times in the Jordan. I don’t know about you, but I don’t wear clothes when I take a bath. I don’t think Naaman did either.

Taking off anything that’s covering up the real us is an absolute necessity of the healing and recovery process. We have to be honest—with ourselves and with others. We have to expose our real selves (get naked!), humble ourselves (‘go down’), and take the next step . . . bathe ourselves in the truth . . . as many times as it takes in order to heal.

After Naaman dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, it says his flesh was restored. In fact, it says it was clean like that of a young boy. His skin wasn’t just healed of leprosy, it was given a fresh start!

That’s how I felt several months into my healing and recovery process . . . like a totally different person . . . like a “new me”! That’s because I was a different person. But it had taken time and persistence and commitment.

Surrounding ourselves with at least one friend who really cares about us and encourages us to stay committed to our healing and recovery process will make the journey a little easier.

Then one day we’ll be able to return the favor by being that kind of friend to someone we love who’s struggling. As a healthier, more functional person, we’ll no longer be afraid to be lovingly honest with ourselves and with others.

And that is worth taking a million steps!

© Rhonda Fleming, 2013